Mad As Hell

Overview

That Paddy Chayefsky was the greatest writer ever to emerge from television's fabled "Golden Age" is unquestionable. But that his work for television, theatre, and film firmly places him alongside his most heralded contemporaries - Arthur Miller, William Inge, and Tennessee Williams - is the compelling thesis of Mad as Hell: The Life and Work of Paddy Chayefsky by Shaun Considine. In Considine's exhaustively researched biography of Chayefsky, we examine the formative roots of the only individual screenwriter ever...
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Overview

That Paddy Chayefsky was the greatest writer ever to emerge from television's fabled "Golden Age" is unquestionable. But that his work for television, theatre, and film firmly places him alongside his most heralded contemporaries - Arthur Miller, William Inge, and Tennessee Williams - is the compelling thesis of Mad as Hell: The Life and Work of Paddy Chayefsky by Shaun Considine. In Considine's exhaustively researched biography of Chayefsky, we examine the formative roots of the only individual screenwriter ever to win three Academy Awards (for Marty, The Hospital, and Network). From his boyhood in the Bronx to his tumultuous years in Hollywood, Chayefsky emerges here as an ambitious man, devoted in his friendships, hesitant and shy in romance, yet fierce and exacting as a creative force. His genius for capturing the American vernacular elicited classic performances by such legends as Bette Davis, Kim Stanley, and George C. Scott, and his larger-than-life personality garnered him close relationships with such varied notables as Laurence Olivier, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Bob Fosse, and playwright Herb Gardner. And for each friendship there also seemed to be a fight: Chayefsky's vengeful brawl with Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller, his tempestuous struggles with Edward G. Robinson, Burt Lancaster, Zero Mostel, and Ken Russell, and his politically charged hatred for Vanessa Redgrave are just a few of the conflicts detailed here. Throughout his fifty-eight years, Paddy Chayefsky was a man in search of understanding - of both himself and his changing world. Unhappily, a sense of fulfillment and of his own identity would remain beyond his grasp until his final days. His hopeful optimism in the 1950s evolved into a resolutely skeptical view of contemporary life, as he confronted in his scripts the military, the medical and television industries, and even man's relationship to God. In Mad as Hell, Shaun Considine gives us, at last, a full picture of a unique latte

From his humble beginnings in the Bronx to his raucous life on the edge in New York and Hollywood's theatrical scene, the life of the only screenwriter to win three Oscars is vividly captured in this rich, anecdote-filled biography--as engrossing as any portrayed on the silver screen. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Considine ( Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud ) has written an engrossing and lively biography of the late screenwriter, the only one to win three Oscars--for Marty, Hospital and Network . Chayefsky (1923-1981) also wrote the screenplays for other notable films, such as Altered States , the hallucinatory melodrama that made William Hurt famous, as well as Broadway comedies and dramas. Yet he got his start writing for TV-- Marty originated as a one-hour episode of ``Philco Television Playhouse''--and the chapters detailing the early days of the medium are particularly engrossing. Chayefsky--initially the ``poet of the streets'' whose Marty reflected his profound insecurity--worked with such personalities as Bob Fosse, Marilyn Monroe, Zero Mostel, Tyrone Guthrie and Ken Russell. Considine's characterization of his subject as a man split in two is facile; he plays off ``Paddy''--scrappy, Bronx-bred--with ``Sidney''--devout, artistic, intellectual. Nonetheless, the ups and downs of Chayefsky's varied career make for consistently entertaining reading. Photos not seen by PW. (July)
Library Journal
Considine, who wrote the best-selling Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud , offers an anecdote-packed life of the screenwriter who won Oscars for Marty , Network , and Hospital .
School Library Journal
Chayefsky is probably best remembered for his OscarR-winning script for the film Network (1976). He also won Academy AwardsR for two other scripts, The Hospital (1971) and Marty (1955), wrote two successful Broadway plays, and is generally regarded as the best writer during television's ``golden age of drama'' in the early 1950s. Considine's thesis is that Chayefsky was a schizophrenic, split between the boisterous, antagonistic ``Paddy'' and the sensitive, serious ``Sidney'' (Chayefsky's real name). Chayefsky's son, his oldest brother, and many of his friends cooperated with Considine in the writing of this very well-researched book. Recommended for most libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/94.]-John Smothers, Monmouth Cty. Lib., Manalapan, N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780595120291
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2000
  • Pages: 452
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction xi
Part 1 The Formative Years
1. Parental Influences 3
2. Paddy Goes to War 20
3. The Lure of the Dream Factories 30
4. More Serious Intentions 39
5. Marty: A Television Classic 51
6. The Golden Age of Television 59
7. Marty: The Motion Picture 69
8. A Primer in Movie Economics 78
9. Upward Mobility 88
10. The First Oscar 97
11. Contention on Broadway 110
12. Writing the Script 120
13. Paddy the Producer 129
14. "A Real Octopus, That Man" 141
15. Psychiatric Assistance 149
16. The Tempest Continues 160
17. Middle of the Night: The Movie 166
18. Using the Anger 178
Part 2 A Decade of Adversity
19. Cudgeling Among the Literati 195
20. Political Gleanings 209
21. Chayfesky's Russian Revolution 225
22. Further Negation 236
23. Inactivity and Diversion 243
24. A Return to the Theatre 251
25. Sabotage and Betrayal in the Provinces 258
Part 3 A Splendid Comeback
26. The Hospital 271
27. Personal Alignments 288
28. Chayefsky the Activist 298
29. Network 303
30. Casting and Production 315
31. Behind Closed Doors 332
32. Tutelage and Chastisement 340
33. A Plethora of Proposals 347
34. Altered States: The Obsession Continues 357
35. The Titans Collide 366
36. The War Within 377
37. A Final Drama and Divulgence 385
38. Epitaph for a Playwright 397
Acknowledgments 401
Bibliography 405
Author's Addendum 409
Index 411
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