Top 7 Plays or Films Written by Sam Shepard

Sam Shepard passed away on July 29th, 2017.

He was best known for his acting roles in a number of classic films over the last 4 decades…but what most people don’t know is that he was also a critically acclaimed writer for both the stage and screen.

We thought it would be appropriate to highlight some of his most impactful work that made it from the stage to the screen or was written directly for film. We also thought it appropriate to make sure we cite the little known pieces that you haven’t seen and can maybe be the film choice for your next movie night.

Mr. Shepard wrote more than 55 plays (his last, “A Particle of Dread,” premiered in 2014), acted in more than 50 films and had more than a dozen roles on television. He was also the author of several prose works, including “Cruising Paradise” (1996), and the memoir “Motel Chronicles” (1982). Though he received critical acclaim almost from the beginning of his career, and his work has been staged throughout the world, he was never a mainstream commercial playwright.

Rest in Peace Sam Shepard.

7. Renaldo And Clara (1978)



This epic is a mass amalgamation of three separate film-types that is, contrary to popular opinion, coherent and a unified whole. Bob Dylan is shown in concert, often masked, during the Rolling Thunder Revue. The film also features documentary footage, including Ruben “Hurricane” Carter’s struggle against the forces that have imprisoned him. The third element is fictional “role-playing” footage with Bob Dylan in the guise of guitar-strumming Renaldo and his wife Sara as his companion Clara. Ronnie Hawkins takes on the role of Bob Dylan in these sequences. The film includes footage of a visit to the grave of Jack Kerouac, an Allen Ginsberg poetry reading and various friends and acquaintances, namely David Blue (playing pinball by a swimming pool), discussing experiences on the road.


6. Far North (1988)



After generations of being apart, an accident brings a family back together and they begin to cope with their original issues.


5. Silent Tongue (1993)



Mad with grief after the death of his Kiowa wife, Talbot awaits death under a tree with her body beside him. She begins to haunt him because he won’t burn her. His father, who bought him the wife, thinks her sister might reason with him.


4. Buried Child (2016)



Live theatrical production of Sam Shepard’s play about a grandson who brings his girlfriend home to meet his family and uncovers the destructive nature of dark family secrets.


3. Curse Of The Starving Class (1994)



Sam Shepard’s coming of age drama about a dirt-poor 1950’s-era farm family. Dad’s a foul talking drunk and Mom is desperately trying to save what’s left of their family life.


2. Paris, Texas (1984)



Travis Henderson, an aimless drifter who has been missing for four years, wanders out of the desert and must reconnect with society, himself, his life, and his family.


1. Zabriskie Point (1970)



In what is supposed to be an indictment of 1960’s American society, two aimless young adults try to find themselves in the California desert. Mark is a college student who spends most of his time attending protest rallies. He’s also taken to carrying a gun which gets him into big trouble when he is incorrectly identified as the shooter in a cop killing. To get out of town, he steals a small single-engined airplane. Daria works for a property owner planning a new development but she’s headed off into the desert, looking for a quiet place to meditate. When Mark and Daria meet they have sex, travel a bit together and otherwise spend their time idly wondering about life in general.

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