Writers in Hollywood 1915-1951

Overview

Legend has it that Hollywood lures gifted writers into its service with sunshine and money, only to treat them as glorified typists and plot-mechanics, peripheral to the main business of moviemaking. This is what Ian Hamilton describes as 'the writer-in-chains saga that emerges from any study of Hollywood during its so-called golden years - the period I have marked as running from 1915-1951.'

But in this superb account of what befell the likes of Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Chandler ...

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Writers in Hollywood 1915-1951

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Overview

Legend has it that Hollywood lures gifted writers into its service with sunshine and money, only to treat them as glorified typists and plot-mechanics, peripheral to the main business of moviemaking. This is what Ian Hamilton describes as 'the writer-in-chains saga that emerges from any study of Hollywood during its so-called golden years - the period I have marked as running from 1915-1951.'

But in this superb account of what befell the likes of Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Chandler and Huxley by working for the Dream Factory, Hamilton argues that these writers 'were in the movies by choice: they earned far more money than their colleagues who did not write for films, and in several cases they applied themselves conscientiously to the not-unimportant task at hand. And they had a lot of laughs...'

'Fascinating and enjoyable.' New Statesman

'Abounds in marvelous stories, apocryphal, fabulous, funny and even true.' Observer

Faber Finds is devoted to restoring to readers a wealth of lost or neglected classics and authors of distinction. The range embraces fiction, non-fiction, the arts and children's books. For a full list of available titles visit www.faberfinds.co.uk. To join the dialogue with fellow book-lovers please see our blog, www.faberfindsblog.co.uk.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hamilton (In Search of J. D. Salinger ) fails largely in his purpose to equate the work of often overlooked film scripters to the contributions of famous directors. The book opens with promise, telling about writers hired to subtitle early silents and pioneers like Anita Loos who sold original stories to the studios. But the chapters thereafter dwell on certain films per se rather than on the writers. There are, moreover, errors: In The Best Years of Our Lives , the veteran's hands were blown off, not, as Hamilton has it, his arms; the Nazi in Lifeboat amputated the American's torn leg, not his arm. It is another surprise to read here of Garbo's ``frozen eyes, mid-European or muscular mid-Bronx'' speech ( Queen Christina ). In later sections the author covers such developments as censorship, the founding of the Screen Writers Guild and the competing Screen Playwrights, fights for credits between collaborators--for example, Orson Welles vs. Herman Mankiewicz(Citizen Kane )--and the House UnAmerican Activities Commitee hearings. The book ends in 1951 with the imprisonment of the Hollywood Ten for defying HUAC. Film buffs will find the book disappointing. (May)
Library Journal
Promising a new view of movie history--through the eyes of its screenwriters--Hamilton instead has produced a pastiche of tales: about successful screenwriters (Anita Loos, Dalton Trumbo), successful novelists who failed as screenwriters (Fitzgerald, Faulkner), blacklisted writers (the Hollywood Ten), and frustrated screenwriters (Ben Hecht, Herman J. Mankiewicz). Anyone who has perused a smattering of film histories will be familiar with most of this material, and even though the author attempts to sort out several writer controversies, e.g., who wrote Citizen Kane , there's not much focus and precious little new insight here.--Thomas Wiener, formerly with ``American Film,'' Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780571283705
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber
  • Publication date: 11/28/2011
  • Pages: 354
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Ian Hamilton was born in 1938, in King's Lynn, Norfolk, and educated at Darlington Grammar School and Keble College, Oxford. In 1962, he founded the influential poetry magazine, the Review, and he was later editor of the New Review. He also wrote biographies and journalism, mainly about literature and football. He died in 2001.
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