101 Funniest Screenplays

The identical twins Julius and Philp Epstein adapted the dark farce as contract writers at Warner Bros. in the 1930s and ’40s, during which their credits also included Casablanca (with Howard Koch), The Strawberry Blonde and The Man Who Came to Dinner. With what The New York Times called “sharp, sardonic dialogue” as their forte, the Epsteins took on Joseph Kesselring’s play about two charitable elderly sisters who put lonely old men out of their misery with homemade elderberry wine. Anchoring the film’s shenanigans is Cary Grant as their flummoxed nephew Mortimer, with Frank Capra directing. "In the old days, your fate didn't hang on one picture,” Julius Epstein told the Times of the studio contract system. “You were writing one picture. Another was in production. Another was in theaters.” After his brother’s death in 1952, Julius kept writing, to the tune of more than 50 screenplays in his career.