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The Best Movies Based on Plays 

Ranker Film
Originally by
Updated July 8, 2020 3.8k votes 459 voters 35k views 84 items

List Rules Films that were based on a play, but NO musicals. Vote up the best movies that were originally stage / theatre productions.

There are tons of famous plays, and the glitz and glamour of attending the theatre is a truly unique experience. While few things are more powerful than the excitement of live theatre, many plays were just so good, they were begging to be turning into a movie. Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire were both made into successful film adaptations, and Glengarry Glen Ross was originally based on a David Mamet play. What are the best movies based on plays? Vote up the best films below and see where your favorites rank.
 
This movies on this list were all based on plays and have been ranked by users as the best. They span many genres as well, including films adapted from Shakespeare plays. Whether you like drama, thrillers, hilarious comedy, or even musicals, there is certainly a movie here that you will enjoy.
 
Vote up the best films below, that started life as a play for the stage, or add one you love that isn't already on the list.

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1
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Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden

Released: 1951

Directed by: Elia Kazan

Based on the Tennessee Williams play of the same name. A Streetcar Named Desire is a 1951 American drama film adaptation of Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 play of the same name. It is the story of a southern lady, Blanche Dubois, ...more

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2
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Jeffrey Jones, Cynthia Nixon, Christine Ebersole

Released: 1984

Directed by: Miloš Forman

Based on Peter Shaffer's play of the same name. Amadeus - Directors Cut is a 1984 biography drama film written by Peter Shaffer and directed by Milos Forman.

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#171 of 194 Musical Movies With the Best Songs #179 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
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Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives

Released: 1958

Directed by: Richard Brooks

Based on the Tennessee Williams play of the same name. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a 1958 American drama film directed by Richard Brooks. It is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by Tennessee Williams adapted by Richard Brooks ...more

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4
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Cary Grant, Peter Lorre, Raymond Massey

Released: 1944

Directed by: Frank Capra

Based on Joseph Kesselring's play of the same name. Arsenic and Old Lace is a 1944 American dark comedy film directed by Frank Capra, starring Cary Grant, and based on Joseph Kesselring's play Arsenic and Old Lace. The script adaptation was by ...more

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5
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies Based on Plays
but chickens double d added Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre

Released: 1942

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

Based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's play, Everybody Comes to Rick's.

Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's. The film stars ...more

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6
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Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey

Released: 1992

Directed by: James Foley

Based on the David Mamet play of the same name. Glengarry Glen Ross is a 1992 American drama, adapted by David Mamet from his 1984 Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning play of the same name, and directed by James Foley. The film depicts two days ...more

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7
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Dustin Hoffman, John Malkovich, Charles Durning

Released: 1985

Directed by: Volker Schlöndorff

Based on Arthur Miller's play of the same name. Death of a Salesman is a 1985 CBS made for television film directed by Volker Schlöndorff, based on the 1949 play of the same name by Arthur Miller. It stars Dustin Hoffman, Kate Reid, John ...more
8
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Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal

Released: 1966

Directed by: Mike Nichols

Based on the Edward Albee play of the same name. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a 1966 American black comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols. The screenplay by Ernest Lehman is an adaptation of the play of the same title by Edward ...more

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9
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jonathan-guerra added Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Herb Edelman

Released: 1968

Directed by: Gene Saks

Based on Neil Simon's play of the same name.

The Odd Couple is a 1968 American black comedy film written by Neil Simon, based on his play The Odd Couple, directed by Gene Saks, and starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. It is the story ...more

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10
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Tom Islava added Fences Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson

Released: 2016

Directed by: Denzel Washington

Based on August wilson's play of the same name

11
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but chickens double d added Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Jeremy Brett

Released: 1964

Directed by: George Cukor

Based on George Bernard Shaw's play, Pygmalion.

My Fair Lady is a 1964 American musical film adaptation of the Lerner and Loewe stage musical of the same name based on the 1938 film adaptation of the original 1913 stage play Pygmalion by ...more

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12
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but chickens double d added Sidney Poitier, Louis Gossett, Jr.

Released: 1961

Directed by: Daniel Petrie

Based on Lorraine Hansberry's play of the same name.

A Raisin in the Sun is a 1961 drama film, starring Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands, Roy Glenn, and Louis Gossett, and adapted from the play of the same name by Lorraine ...more

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13
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Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly, Harry Morgan

Released: 1960

Directed by: Stanley Kramer

Based on Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee's play of the same name. Inherit the Wind is a 1960 Hollywood film adaptation of the 1955 play of the same name, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, directed by Stanley Kramer. It stars Spencer Tracy as ...more

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14
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but chickens double d added Bela Lugosi, Tod Browning, Carla Laemmle

Released: 1931

Directed by: Tod Browning, Karl Freund

Based on Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston's play of the same name.

Dracula is a 1931 vampire-horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula. The film was produced by Universal and is based on the 1924 stage play Dracula by ...more

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15
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Lisa Finlinson added Morgan Freeman, Dan Aykroyd, Jessica Tandy

Released: 1989

Directed by: Bruce Beresford

Based on Alfred Uhry's play of the same name.

Driving Miss Daisy is a 1989 American comedy-drama film directed by Bruce Beresford and written by Alfred Uhry, based on Uhry's play of the same name. The film stars Jessica Tandy, Morgan ...more

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16
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Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Chazz Palminteri

Released: 1993

Directed by: Robert De Niro

Based on Chazz Palminteri's play of the same name. A Bronx Tale is a 1993 American drama film set in the Bronx during the turbulent era of the 1960s. It was the directorial debut of Robert De Niro that follows a young Italian-American teenager ...more

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17
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but chickens double d added Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Robby Benson

Released: 1967

Directed by: Terence Young

Based on Frederick Knott's play of the same name.

Wait Until Dark is a suspense-thriller film directed by Terence Young and produced by Mel Ferrer. It stars Audrey Hepburn as a young blind woman, Alan Arkin as a violent criminal searching for ...more

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18
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but chickens double d added Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Jack Nicholson

Released: 1992

Directed by: Rob Reiner

Based on Aaron Sorkin's play of the same name.

A Few Good Men is a 1992 American legal drama film directed by Rob Reiner, based on the play by Aaron Sorkin. Military lawyer Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) defends Marines accused of ...more

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19
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Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Michael Sheen

Released: 2008

Directed by: Ron Howard

Based on Peter Morgan's play of the same name. Frost/Nixon is a 2008 British-American historical drama film based on the 2006 play of the same name by Peter Morgan, who also adapted the screenplay. The film tells the story behind the ...more

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20
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Helen Mirren, Ian Holm, Rupert Everett

Released: 1994

Directed by: Nicholas Hytner

Based on Alan Bennett's play, The Madness of George III.

The Madness of King George is a 1994 British biographical historical comedy-drama film directed by Nicholas Hytner and adapted by Alan Bennett from his own play, The Madness of George III. It ...more

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21
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Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, Jude Law

Released: 2004

Directed by: Mike Nichols

Based on Patrick Marber's play of the same name. Closer is a 2004 romantic drama film written by Patrick Marber, based on his award-winning 1997 play of the same name. The movie was produced and directed by Mike Nichols and stars Julia ...more

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22
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Mel Gibson, Helena Bonham Carter, Glenn Close

Released: 1990

Directed by: Franco Zeffirelli

Based on the William Shakespeare play of the same name. Hamlet is a 1990 drama film based on the Shakespearean tragedy of the same name directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Mel Gibson as the eponymous character. The film also features Glenn ...more

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23
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Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Ewan McGregor

Released: 2013

Directed by: John Wells

Based on Tracy Letts's play of the same name. August: Osage County is a 2013 American comedy-drama film directed by John Wells, based on the play by Tracy Letts. A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose ...more

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24
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Gary Oldman, Tim Roth, Richard Dreyfuss

Released: 1990

Directed by: Tom Stoppard

Based on Tom Stoppard's play of the same name, which was based on William Shakespeare's Hamlet. This film is a 1990 comedy-drama film written and directed by Tom Stoppard based on his play of the same name. Like the play, the film depicts two minor characters from William Shakespeare's ...more

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25
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but chickens double d added Leonardo DiCaprio, Paul Rudd, Brian Dennehy

Released: 1996

Directed by: Baz Luhrmann

Romeo + Juliet is a 1996 American romantic drama film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. It was directed by Baz Luhrmann. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in ...more

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