From The Journal Of Screenwriting V2 Issue 2: Escape from the stage? From play to screenplay in British cinema’s early sound period by Victoria Lowe

Highlighting the articles in the past editions of the Journal of Screenwriting, of which I am the Book Reviews Editor. Hopefully these abstracts will entice you to did a little deeper into the history and future of screenwriting. — Rosanne


Escape from the stage? From play to screenplay in British cinema’s early sound period by Victoria Lowe

In this article I discuss the evolution of the screenplay from play to film of Escape (1930) through a detailed examination of the archive correspondence between its producer Basil Dean and the original writer of the play, John Galsworthy. My aim is to provide a more nuanced account of the relationship between stage and screen practices at this time, one that goes beyond histories that have understood the adaptation of stage material to have been a burden from which British cinema had to escape, in order to create its own distinctive identity. I argue that the relationship between the two practices was affected by the coming of sound, and the cultural anxiety and debates around the film industry and national identity formations that it engendered. I then examine Basil Dean’s thoughts about the adapted screenplay, in particular his ideas around the retention of the original author’s dialogue, and his practical response to the issues in terms of his collaboration with Galsworthy in the writing of the screenplay of Escape, one of the first talkies made in the United Kingdom.


The Journal of Screenwriting is an international double-blind peer-reviewed journal that is published three times a year. The journal highlights current academic and professional thinking about the screenplay and intends to promote, stimulate and bring together current research and contemporary debates around the screenplay whilst encouraging groundbreaking research in an international arena. The journal is discursive, critical, rigorous and engages with issues in a dynamic and developing field, linking academic theory to screenwriting practice. 

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