Movies & TV Shows

10 Best Movies Based On Stage Plays, According To Reddit

The news that the upcoming movie adaptation of the hit Broadway play, Wicked, will be split into two parts, indicated an understanding on the part of the studio that there is still a strong appetite among audiences for seeing their beloved stage plays adapted for the screen.

Indeed, there has long been a productive relationship between Broadway and Hollywood. As is so often the case, Reddit users have helpfully identified a number of the best movies that are based on stage plays, perfect for every Broadway fan’s must-watch list.


Hair (1979)

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Hair is often regarded as one of the best movie musicals, and it’s easy to see why. It has a searing intensity that is very much of a piece of the moment in which it was released. While it captured the play, it also managed to add some new depth to its characters.

Redditor Mcdanielstudent2021 writes: “Both that show and movie are timeless in general and I love me a good rock musical. Crazy how relevant it is even now.” Just as the 1960s and early 1970s were a period of unrest, so is the present, and the movie manages to feel as timely as ever.

Noises Off (1992)

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In many ways, Noises Off is one of Peter Bogdanovich’s best movies. He had a knack for capturing comedy and absurdity that was second to none in Hollywood and, as it happens, he also managed to capture so much of what made the play such an amusing success.

Reddit user SaulsAll says it’s one of “the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, and Michael Caine and Christopher Reeves kill their parts. It loses a bit with not having the rotating set you get on stage, but it still works and is especially relevant for anyone who’s ever been in a play.” It is true that the movie succeeds in large part because of the dynamic of its cast, of whom Michael Caine is one of the most superb.

Doubt (2008)

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Doubt is widely seen as one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s best movies, and the movie manages to capture so much of what made the play great. However, while the movie is faithful to its source material, it is also an adaptation that realizes that it has to succeed as a movie and not just as a play translated to the screen.

Small wonder that AClockworkBates writes, “Doubt actually uses cinematic techniques to make it more of a movie, particularly the editing and set design.” As a result, the movie manages to succeed as both an adaptation and as a movie in its own right.

Frost/Nixon (2008)

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There have been many great political movies, but few have had quite the power of Frost/Nixon. Based on the play of the same name, it is a dramatization of the famous interviews. The powerful performances from both Frank Langella and Michael Sheen give it an extra bit of weight, and it manages to be a potent and dynamic character study of its two main characters.

Redditor Mcdanielstudent2021 points out: “Oh man, the dialogue is so well written and it is really well directed.” It is, furthermore, the type of movie that not only captures the interpersonal sparring that made the play great but also makes the most out of the medium of film.

His Girl Friday (1940)

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His Girl Friday is widely regarded as one of the best screwball comedies, with snappy dialogue and a powerful set of performances from Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. Part of the movie’s punch comes from the play on which it is based, but there’s also no denying the chemistry between its leads.

Reddit user MovieMike07 agrees, writing: “The verbal banter in that film is priceless.” The combination of dialogue, steady direction from Howard Hawks (one of the great directors of classical Hollywood), and two of the era’s most talented actors makes this a movie not to be missed.

A Few Good Men (1992)

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Aaron Sorkin has been responsible for many great TV shows, but he has also shown that he is a very skilled playwright, as he demonstrated with A Few Good Men. The movie version keeps the political bite that is so often a part of Sorkin’s style, while also featuring strong performances from its main cast, which includes Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Kevin Bacon.

Redditor Mcdanielstudent2021 had particular praise for the way the movie handled the climactic courtroom scene, writing: “they did get the feeling of the courtroom and proceedings spot on.” It is the type of movie that, through skillful adaptation, manages to be both very exciting to watch and politically relevant.

Torch Song Trilogy (1988)

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Torch Song Trilogy is noted as one of the best LGBTQ+ movies and with good reason. Adapted from Harvey Fierstein’s play, it is a movie that, as Mcdanielstudent2021 writes, is “Wonderfully acted and written, heartwarming, funny, and moving.”

The movie is truly a remarkable adaptation of the play, in that it significantly shortens the story. At the same time, it also makes the essential drama more intimate and intense, drawing the viewer into the characters’ lives and struggles, allowing one to feel right there with them.

Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead (1991)

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There’s no question that Shakespeare has exerted a powerful influence on the cinema, and there are a number of great Shakespeare adaptations on the big screen. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is, of course, an absurdist take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, featuring two of its side characters.

Though there are times when the movie is a bit weightier than the stage play, this actually works to its benefit. And as Mcdanielstudent2021 puts it: “I just love how it cleverly subverts the whole tragedy of hamlet and just puts us in the shoes of two normal people who were just thrust into this situation and they have no clue why they are there.”

Rope (1948)

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Alfred Hitchcock is rightly regarded as one of the most famous directors to come out of Hollywood, with many famous movies to his name. One of his most notable efforts is Rope, an adaptation of the play of the same name about two male lovers who murder a former classmate.

Redditor 301trivia says simply: “Rope is phenomenal.” It is certainly one of Hitchcock’s most ingenious movies, as it manages to be both very stagey (the action takes place with very long takes) and yet also undeniably cinematic. Both the play and the movie manage to capture the darkness of the human soul.

Bug (2006)

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There are few movies that are quite as chilling as Bug, which, among other things, is a haunting rumination on the power of paranoia to disturb and distort one’s perception of reality. It is, of course, based on the Tracy Letts play of the same name (he was also responsible for the movie’s screenplay).

Redditor Mcdanielstudent2021 has this to say about the movie: “Holy crap is that movie weird. It’s brilliant, but all these times I have watched it, I still have no clue what is going on. Sort of like Donnie Darko in a way, but without the time travel factor and set in the present day rather than the 80’s.” The movie is especially notable for the way that it stays true to the thematics of the play, while also using the intimacy of film to heighten its paranoid effects.

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