Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, March 28, 2008


ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting. William Goldman. Warner Books; 1983.

Although this was first published over twenty years ago, it still makes fascinating reading for anyone interested – literally – in the “back story” of how motion pictures are put together, beginning with the screenplay. And this is true whether you're a great admirer of Goldman's work or think Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is one of the worst movies ever made. The book is rich with anecdotes about stars and directors that Goldman has worked with, and you learn how Hollywood really works from the inside-out. You won't agree with all of Goldman's opinions, of course (while I understand Goldman's take on auteurism, I have a much higher regard for Hitchcock's post-Psycho pictures than he does). Goldman's advice to aspiring screenwriters on how to make their scripts star-proof and what to expect from producers and directors is undoubtedly still of value. One refreshing aspect to this part-memoir is that Goldman is rather humble throughout; he doesn't crow about his genius or greatness, or let others do so, on every page. One of the most interesting sections of the book is a reprint of a rather charming short story, "Da Vinci," which he published in his youth. Goldman adapts it into a screenplay, then asks for reactions from an editor, composer, director, etc. (both the screenplay and the reactions are printed in the book.) Goldman doesn't shy away from including George Roy Hill's “withering” (as Goldman puts it) assessment of both story and adaptation (which is actually rather moving).

Verdict: A highly recommended tome for anyone interested in what goes on behind the scenes in Hollywood. ***.

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