George Lucas is a living legend, having created both Star Wars and Indiana Jones. He’s known for directing and producing, but more than anything else, he’s been a writer. He’s written many scripts, although he sometimes just writes the story for the film before another writer does the screenplay. This list will take a look at the best films he’s had a hand in writing, and it does contain more than just movies from his two big creations. Although, those are represented quite a bit.
This list is ranked using IMDb. Some of these films are rated so well that they’re on IMDb’s Top 250 of All Time. Here are the 10 Best Movies Written By George Lucas, According to IMDb.
10 THX 1138 (1971) – 6.7
George Lucas wrote the story for his full-length directorial debut, and he co-wrote the screenplay with Walter Murch. Based on his 1967 student film, THX 1138 tells the story of a society where people are known by a set of letters and numbers, and ideas like emotions and sex are prohibited. The title character’s roommate changes the pills he takes, and he begins to fully feel emotions.
For the futuristic look, most of the film was shot in San Francisco locations like a mall, a subway, a lab, and an airport. These plain and sterile-looking locations work perfectly for Lucas’ story, going along with a world where everyone wears white and has shaved heads.
9 Willow (1988) – 7.3
Lucas wrote the story for Willow, and Bob Dolman wrote the screenplay. Although he came up with the idea for the film in the ’70s, Lucas wanted to wait until the mid-’80s so the technology would be better. Ron Howard directed the film, being friends with Lucas after acting in American Graffiti. It portrays a land where an evil queen reigns and a newborn princess is prophesied to end her rule. With the baby being hunted, a Nelwyn named Willow protects the baby and is joined by the human Madmartigen.
Lucas’ foray into this fantasy world was brought to life with beautiful locations in Wales and New Zealand. Warwick Davis portrayed the title character, with a supporting cast of Val Kilmer and Joanna Whalley. The film was nominated at the Oscars for Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects.
8 American Graffiti (1973) – 7.4
Lucas co-wrote this screenplay with Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck. American Graffiti shows the young residents of a California town on the last night of summer vacation in 1962. Among the young cast were future directors Ron Howard and Charles Martin Smith, as well as Richard Dreyfuss and Harrison Ford.
Being entirely different from THX 1138, Lucas had the film take place in his home town of Modesto, and he wanted to portray his teenage years of cruising in cars. The film was very well-received. At the Academy Awards, it was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director for Lucas, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress for Candy Clark, and Best Editing.
7 Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005) – 7.5
Lucas was the sole writer for Revenge of the Sith, as well as the rest of the prequel trilogy. With the third chronological episode of Star Wars, Lucas finally got to tell exactly how Anakin Skywalker turned to the Dark Side and became Darth Vader. This included showing the end of the Clone Wars, the execution of Order 66 to destroy the Jedi, the rise of the Empire, and some thrilling lightsaber duels.
While some have argued that Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side is too quick, the film still references his distrust of the Jedi before his turn. The animated series The Clone Wars also portrayed Anakin already on his way to the Dark Side at times, which is complemented well with the story arc Lucas portrayed in Revenge of the Sith.
6 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) – 7.6
Lucas wrote the story for Temple of Doom, while Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck wrote the screenplay. It takes place a year before Raiders of the Lost Ark, to avoid reusing the Nazis as villains two films in a row.
Undoubtedly the darkest Indiana Jones film, the film features a scene where a man’s heart is ripped out, and Indy’s forced to drink blood that puts him under mind control. Parents complained about the violence in this film and fellow PG-rated Gremlins, which led to Steven Spielberg suggesting the PG-13 rating. The film also has some of the most exciting action in the series, particularly the mine car chase in the third act.
5 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) – 8.2
The Last Crusade is ranked 118th on IMDb’s Top 250. Lucas and Menno Meyjes wrote the story while Jeffrey Boam wrote the screenplay. A more lighthearted approach after Temple of Doom, the third film finds Indy and his father searching for the Holy Grail, with Sean Connery brilliantly portraying Henry Jones Sr.
The script went through many versions and rewrites before the final story was chosen. Spielberg suggested to Lucas that they add Indy’s father to the story, with father-son relationships being a recurring theme in Spielberg’s movies.
4 Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983) – 8.3
Return of the Jedi is ranked 83rd on IMDb’s Top 250. Lucas wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay with Lawrence Kasden. The third film of the trilogy went through many changes in pre-production. Wookiees were changed to Ewoks, Han Solo was confirmed to live after Harrison Ford said Han should be killed, and an originally-absent Yoda was added to confirm to Luke that Vader was his father.
Lucas and the rest of the filmmakers were able to craft a satisfying conclusion, with the Rebellion winning and Luke bringing his father back to the Light Side. While Lucas wasn’t done telling Star Wars stories, this film was the last chronological story in the series until 2015’s The Force Awakens.
3 Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – 8.4
Raiders of the Lost Ark is ranked 55th on IMDb. Lucas wrote the story with Philip Kaufman, while Lawrence Kasden wrote the screenplay. Lucas pitched his friend Spielberg on the film while they were building a sandcastle during a vacation to Hawaii. What resulted was an action-adventure movie that has defined a genre for decades.
Raiders follows Indiana Jones as he seeks the Ark of the Covenant, and many scenes in the film became classics. One unscripted and famous moment happens when Indy shoots the swordsman. It was very hot in Tunisia, and Harrison Ford had dysentery, resulting in a choreographed fight being replaced with an unimpressed Indy firing one shot to end the fight.
2 Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) – 8.6
A New Hope is ranked 26th on IMDb. Lucas was the sole writer for the original Star Wars screenplay. The film set off a cultural phenomenon that has lasted more than forty years. Despite how in-depth and long-lasting the series has become, Lucas started the series off with a simple story of good vs. evil. Lucas’ space opera was just the beginning of something special back in 1977, and now the tale of a farm boy, a princess, and a smuggler taking on an evil Empire is familiar to almost everyone.
Originally envisioned as The Adventures of Luke Starkiller, the original film was released simply as Star Wars, before eventually receiving the episode number of four and the subtitle A New Hope. Forty years later, Lucas’ original story has had a greater impact than anyone could have imagined.
1 Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – 8.7
Empire is ranked 14th on IMDb. Lucas wrote the story while the screenplay was written by Lawrence Kasden and Leigh Brackett. Empire is often considered one of the greatest sequels of all time and is a template that many sequels are still compared to today. While Vader being Luke’s father is common knowledge today, it was a shocking plot point in 1980 and remains one of the greatest twists in film history.
Empire also stands out for ending with cliffhangers. Luke lost his hand and didn’t know if Vader was really his father, and Han was frozen in carbonite and taken by Boba Fett. We know it all worked out in the end, but the movie took chances that paid off in terms of storytelling and entertainment.
NEXT: Why Steven Spielberg Didn’t Direct A Star Wars Movie (Despite Lucas Asking)