WHICH LIE DID I TELL? by William Goldman


or, More Adventures in the Screen Trade
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Another entertaining hybrid of memoir and screenwriting advice from the two-time Academy Award-winning writer of Butch

Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

This sequel to Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade (1983) picks up where the original left off, detailing his

Hollywood experiences since the early 1980s and offering new insights into the screenwriter's art. The autobiographical first

section ("More Adventures") begins with his "leper" period (1980—85), when the "phone stopped ringing" and no studio would

hire him, and goes on to describe his work on seven subsequent films, including both turkeys and hits, from Memoirs of an

Invisible Man to The Princess Bride to Absolute Power. In the sections that follow, he turns screenwriting coach, analyzing

favorite scenes from such films as Fargo and There's Something About Mary; weighing the merits of various unused story ideas

(culled from newspapers, history, and his imagination); and offering an unfinished comedy-adventure script with ruthless critiques by several colleagues. Goldman derides cinematic sequels as "whores' movies" that never compare well

to the original, and there is some reason to apply the same principle to this book. It doesn't offer the systematic guide to

Hollywood madness that the original did, nor does it have new industry aphorisms on the level of the original's "Nobody knows

anything." The writing is flabbier, more prone to profanity and hyperbole. But the updating is valuable, and Goldman remains

a virtuoso storyteller, expertly spinning yarns about movies that should never have been made, innocently egotistical stars, careers

on the line (including his), and scripts miraculously salvaged. There are anecdotes about his early life, gossipy tidbits about

celebrities (did you know Sylvester Stallone is only five-foot-seven?), and plenty of good advice for the would-be scenarist.

A fun, instructive look into a veteran screenwriter's workshop.

. . .

Pub Date: March 13th, 2000
ISBN: 0-375-40349-3
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2000


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