Here are the great fights over screen credits on Citizen Kane and Casablanca. Here is Sam Goldwyn haplessly trying to fathom Nobel laureate Maurice Maeterlinck's avant-garde work.
Author: Ian Hamilton
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Category: Hollywood (Los Angeles, Calif.)
In this witty, probing, and sometimes hilarious account, Ian Hamilton traces the history of screenwriting from the crude subtitles of Birth of a Nation to the sardonic ironies of Sunset Boulevard--a film that opens with a screenwriter floating face down in Gloria Swanson's swimming pool. By 1950, when that Billy Wilder film was released, the image of the writer in Hollywood was well established: a guilt-ridden malcontent who'd sold out to Tinsel Town and was treated like dirt by the studio system. This is just one of the caricatures Hamilton challenges. There are the famous cases--Fitzgerald, Hammett, Chandler, Faulkner, and West--but Hamilton also explores the world of the professional screenwriters, those ex-newspapermen, failed playwrights, and New York wits who flooded into Hollywood during the Great Talkies Panic and stayed to take both the big money and the indignity of toiling on a literary assembly line, producing scripts that were then red-penciled by Hays Office censors, studio moguls, martinet directors, and wartime propagandists. Here are the great fights over screen credits on Citizen Kane and Casablanca. Here is Sam Goldwyn haplessly trying to fathom Nobel laureate Maurice Maeterlinck's avant-garde work. Here are the long fight over the Screen Writers Guild, the story of the Hollywood Ten, and the conflicting political pressures that wracked the industry during the pre- and postwar years. Here are not just the spectacular failures, but those writers like P.G. Wodehouse who took the money and ran, and those life Ben Hecht, Nunnally Johnson, Herman Mankiewicz, and Anita Loos--highly paid professionals who produced box office successes still loved by moviegoers sixty years later. Full of wonderful anecdotes about writers' strange rites of passage through a callow but exuberant industry, and with engaging firsthand accounts from the likes of Faulkner, Wodehouse, Dorothy Parker, and G.B. Shaw, the book vividly portrays the golden era of the major studios and offers a timely reminder that all those old movies really began life on the page.--From jacket flap.