BACKSTORY: Interviews with Screenwriters of Hollywood's Golden Age by Pat--Ed. McGilligan

BACKSTORY: Interviews with Screenwriters of Hollywood's Golden Age

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Excellent set of interviews with the screenwriters who set the standards for talkies back in the 1930's, when the dream factory was at its most productive. Readers will dream right along, writing script after script with the masters and having their lines disemboweled by the producer. Says Niven Busch, about the finished film of Selznick's lensing of Busch's novel/script Duel in the Sun: ""Well, of course it was great showmanship. It had a few good scenes, and it had a big expansive canvas. It wasn't the way I would have made the picture. But I took the money and ran."" Which is the recurrent theme of most of the writers, until they get some power and become directors of their own scripts. Then a new kind of power--not money--takes over: ""Power!"" says Charles Bennett, author of the basic Hitchcock screenplays from the 30's (including The 39 Steps and Foreign Correspondent) and who became a sometime director. ""There's nothing in the world gives you the power of being a director. It's like being a general, a commander-in-chief!"" Most of the scriptwriters interviewed here had credits outside the Film industry, either as Broadway playwrights or novelists. Among many notable screenplays, Norman Krasna adapted his own Broadway hit Kind Sir into the Cary Grant-Ingrid Bergman charmer Indiscreet, and Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett adapted their Broadway play The Diary of Anne Frank, while W.R. Burnett (Little Caesar, High Sierra, The Asphalt Jungle) and James M. Cain (Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice) were already famous tough-guy novelists. Among the others confessing their sins and joys are high-toned comedy specialist Donald Odgen Stewart (The Philadelphia Story), Julius J. Epstein (Casablanca), Richard Maibum (over a half. dozen James Bond films), and Philip Dunne (How Green Was My Valley). A must read for movie-lovers.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Univ. of California Press