ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting by William Goldman
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ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Part memoir, part gossip, part hot-air, and part how-to: screenwriter/novelist Goldman (Butch Cassidy, Marathon Man, etc.) chats about the rigors and horrors and occasional joys of screenwriting--with the same blend of know-how and affectionate venom that was on display in his Hollywood novel Tinsel. First comes a rambling section on ""Hollywood Realities"": Goldman reprises familiar views of studio-executive mindlessness (""NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING"" is the cardinal rule); he laments the state of today's films, with all those ""comic-book movies""; he attacks the auteur theory, solidly if unoriginally; he offers a primer on some screenwriting basics; but, above all, he pokes away at movie-stars--with specific examples of the screenplay-tailoring (""Stars will not play weak and they will not play blemished, and you better know that now"") which usually weakens movies artistically. Then it's on to Goldman's own movie-by-movie ""Adventures"": Harper, with generous Paul Newman and a last-minute call for a new opening sequence; Butch Cassidy, with the hard-earned realization that ""SCREENPLAYS ARE STRUCTURE""; The Stepford Wives, blaming rather too much, perhaps, on the director's nepotism in casting; The Great Waldo Pepper, a beloved effort which failed, Goldman thinks,: because Redford was inherently too much a golden-boy presence for the film's dark story; All the President's Men, with nasty tales of star-rivalries, Carl Bernstein's chutzpah, and other betrayals; Marathon Man, a fan's love-letter to valiant Laurence Olivier (with Dustin Hoffman, as often throughout, the villain); A Bridge Too Far, with rough admiration for Joseph E. Levine; plus--aborted projects galore, almost always featuring hypocrisy, deception, and Hollywood-style tackiness. And the final section is the weakest: Goldman offers a short-story of his--""Da Vinci""--and then transforms it into an unpromising mini-screenplay, with comments from colleagues (a director, designer, etc.) on production approaches. As a guide for would-be screenwriters, then: shrewd yet spotty. But, as a mishmash of insider-anecdotes, zesty bias, cynical wisdom, and the-way-it-really-is atmosphere: must reading for savvy followers of the commercial movie-biz scene.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1983
Publisher: Warner