Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Grab what you can get: the screenwriter as journeyman plumber a conversation with Leigh Brackett - Steve Swires

(Information below is from Andrew Sergeant at the NLA, I have not read it myself as yet)

Runs from pages 413 to 421 of the Aug/Sep 1976 issue of Films In Review.
It consists of a couple of paragraphs of introductory information, on her career and life, followed by the transcript of Swires' interview with her (at a science fiction convention in Washington in September 1974), and features a small photo of Brackett with Howard Hawkes on page 415, working on the script for 'El Dorado'.

There are a few excerpts of this online here :-

"LB: That was Hawks. I have been at swords' points with him many a time because I don't like doing a thing over again, and he does. I remember one day he and John Wayne and I were sitting in the office, and he said we'll do such and such a thing. I said: "But Howard, you did it in Rio Bravo. You don't want to do this over again." He said: "Why not?" And John Wayne, all six feet four of him, looked down and said: "If it was good once it'll be just as good again." I know when I'm outgunned, so I did it. But I just don't like repeating myself. However, I'm wrong about half the time."

and here's a quote from the text :

"The "ten-day wonder" was because my agent, Hugh King, had been with Myron
Selznick, my agency at that time, and he had gone over to Republic as story
editor and had sort of managed to shoehorn me in because they were doing this
horror film. They decided to cash in on the Universal monster school, and I had
been doing science fiction, and to them it all looked the same?"bug-eyed
monsters." It made no difference. I did The Vampire's Ghost there, and just out
of the clear blue sky this other thing happened, purely on the strength of a
hard-boiled mystery novel I had published. Howard Hawks read the book and liked
it. He didn't buy the book, for which I can't blame him, but he liked the
dialogue and I was put under contract to him.

You worked on the screenplay of The Big Sleep with William Faulkner. I wouldn't
say that you collaborated, but both of your names are in the credits as having
written the script, along with Jules Furthman .

I went to the studio the first day absolutely appalled. I had been writing pulp
stories for about three years, and here is William Faulkner, who was one of the
great literary lights of the day, and how am I going to work with him? What
have I got to offer, as it were? This was quickly resolved, because when I
walked into the office, Faulkner came out of his office with the book The Big
Sleep and he put it down and said: "I have worked out what we're going to do.
We will do alternate sections. I will do these chapters and you will do those
chapters." And that was the way it was done. He went back into his office and I
didn't see him again, so the collaboration was quite simple. I never saw what
he did and he never saw what I did. We just turned our stuff in to Hawks."

4.5 out of 5


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