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Hollywood: A Third Memoir

Hollywood: A Third Memoir

Автор Larry McMurtry

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Hollywood: A Third Memoir

Автор Larry McMurtry

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4/5 (8 оценки)
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158 страниц
2 часа
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Издано:
Aug 10, 2010
ISBN:
9781451606560
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Описание

"One thing I’ve always liked about Hollywood is its zip, or speed. The whole industry depends to some extent on talent spotting. The hundreds of agents, studio executives, and producers who roam the streets of the city of Los Angeles let very little in the way of talent slip by."

In this final installment of the memoir trilogy that includes Books and Literary Life, Larry McMurtry, "the master of the show-stopping anecdote" (O, The Oprah Magazine) turns his own keenly observing eye to his rollercoaster romance with Hollywood. As both the creator of numerous works successfully adapted by others for film and television (Terms of Endearment, Lonesome Dove, and the Emmy-nominated The Murder of Mary Phagan) and the author of screenplays including The Last Picture Show (with Peter Bogdanovich), Streets of Laredo, and the Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain (both with longtime writing partner Diana Ossana), McMurtry has seen all the triumphs and frustrations that Hollywood has to offer a writer, and he recounts them in a voice unfettered by sentiment and yet tinged with his characteristic wry humor.

Beginning with his sudden entrée into the world of film as the author of Horseman, Pass By—adapted into the Paul Newman–starring Hud in 1963—McMurtry regales readers with anecdotes that find him holding hands with Cybill Shepherd, watching Jennifer Garner’s audition tape, and taking lunch at Chasen’s again and again. McMurtry fans and Hollywood hopefuls alike will find much to cherish in these pages, as McMurtry illuminates life behind the scenes in America’s dream factory.
Издатель:
Издано:
Aug 10, 2010
ISBN:
9781451606560
Формат:

Об авторе

Larry McMurtry is the author of more than thirty novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove. He has also written memoirs and essays, and received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on Brokeback Mountain.


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Hollywood - Larry McMurtry

Simon & Schuster

1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

www.SimonandSchuster.com

Copyright © 2010 by Larry McMurtry

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Simon & Schuster Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition August 2010

SIMON & SCHUSTER and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

For information about special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-866-506-1949 or business@simonandschuster.com.

The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event. For more information or to book an event, contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at www.simonspeakers.com.

Designed by Jill Putorti

Manufactured in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

McMurtry, Larry.

    Hollywood : a third memoir / Larry McMurtry.—1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed.

        p. cm.

    1. Motion pictures—United States. 2. Motion picture plays, American—

History and criticism. 3. Motion picture authorship. 4. McMurtry, Larry.

5. Screenwriters—United States—Biography. I. Title

PN1993.5.U6M3255 2010

808.2'3092—dc22

[B]                                     2010018222

ISBN 978-1-4391-5995-8

eISBN-13: 978-1-4516-0656-0

Jacket photographs (top left to bottom right): © Paramount/The Kobal Collection; © Columbia Pictures/Photofest; © Artisan Entertainment/Photofest; © Columbia Pictures/Photofest; © CBS/Photofest; courtesy of Everett Collection; © Motown/Pangaea/Qintex/The Kobal Collection; © CBS/courtesy of Everett Collection; © Paramount/The Kobal Collection; © Columbia Pictures/Photofest; © CBS/Photofest; © Zade Rosenthal/Paramount/The Kobal Collection; © Tony Esparza/CBS; © Paramount/Photofest; © Columbia Pictures/Photofest; © Focus Films/Everett Collection

This book is dedicated to the working women of the American film industry:

Those who hold the scripts

Those who dress the sets

Those who soothe the egos and calm the storms

With the author’s love and respect.

HOLLYWOOD:

A THIRD MEMOIR

1

HOLLYWOOD—AS OPPOSED TO movies, its principal product—entered my life almost simultaneously with my son, James McMurtry, who arrived in March 1962, at which time I was teaching world literature—all of it, from the Ramayana to Dylan Thomas—at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. To the farm and oil patch kids I was teaching, literature—or at least my mandated selection of it—held little appeal. In desperation I began to challenge these reluctant students to Ping-Pong matches, a game at which I was then quite good. If a student won, he or she got an A; if they lost they got a C.

That may seem a little unorthodox, but then five classes is a lot of classes. Between matches I was able to make friends with two writers, John Graves and Dave Hickey, both still alive and both still friends.

Then one day a man from Paramount Studios called, taking me by surprise. He turned out to be a location scout—that night he took me to dinner at what was probably the best restaurant in Fort Worth. Though, by this time, I had lived in both Houston and San Francisco, I knew nothing of fine dining. The man wore a pin-striped suit which bespoke a standard of eloquence far beyond my own. Though the suit was probably just normal Brooks Brothers, I remember it to this day; and I also remember the news he brought me, which was that Paramount had just bought the film rights to my slight first novel, Horseman, Pass By, and planned to film it in the Panhandle of Texas, starting almost immediately, with Paul Newman to star. The sum they planned to pay me, $10,000, meant, to me, farewell forever to the Ramayana and to table tennis as a grading system as well.

The nice man wondered if I had any relatives in the Panhandle, folks who might help them with the locations. In fact the Panhandle was then chock-full of McMurtrys, and I sent the gentleman to the most able of the bunch, my cousin Alfred McMurtry, then living in Clarendon. Paramount promptly rented not only a lot of Alfred’s land, but also his cattle herd and a good number of his cowboys.

Thanks to all these rentals Alfred McMurtry made a lot of money out of what became a movie called Hud, but I didn’t begrudge him his good fortune, since he did have to put up for a while with the considerable aggravation of a movie production, whereas I did not. I was safe in Fort Worth, with a living and lively child.

I also had to finish my semester at TCU, which I had wrongly supposed would be my farewell to teaching school: in a little more than a year I was a lecturer at Rice, where I taught for almost nine years.

The moviemaking in the Panhandle began about the time I finished with TCU. Eventually I was asked to visit the set; the invitation, when it came, was issued without enthusiasm. It was as if the director, Martin Ritt, and the screenwriters, Harriet Frank and Irving Ravetch, had jointly decided to do the right thing, which, in their world, meant inviting the author to the set, though in fact the author of the film they were filming was more or less the last person they wanted to see, novelists being, after all, famously difficult about movies made from their work. They were apt to detect bruises on their text where none were intended by the filmmakers.

In my case Martin Ritt and the Ravetches need not have worried. I was there only for an afternoon, and spoke only a few words, and would hardly have been inclined to protest even if I had known what was going on, which of course I didn’t. These were the people who had freed me from the Ramayana, which counted for much more than any blemishes in the film.

I spent most of that afternoon parked in a line of cars on a Panhandle dirt road, waiting for a man with a walkie-talkie to let us approach the set. I saw Paul Newman at a distance, but didn’t actually meet him until thirty years later.

Patricia Neal, whom I really did want to meet, wasn’t working that week; her too I met thirty years later, in the check-in line at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. We later had a pleasant visit.

Unhappily I arrived on the day when the buzzards misbehaved: I have told this story fully in a book called In a Narrow Grave and don’t wish to repeat it here, though the fact of buzzard misbehavior probably cost Paramount about $60,000, which put everyone in a really bad mood and dashed whatever hopes there might have been for social plans with me.

Several members of the crew seemed stunned by the fact that they weren’t getting anywhere with the buzzard scene. Martin Ritt, a nice man, was so depressed by the day’s output that he made no effort at all to make contact with me. Years later I met him in Austin.

At the end of the day the famous cinematographer James Wong Howe took a few beauty shots of my cousin Alfred’s beautiful (to grass lovers) wavy grass, and the whole lot of us trickled back to Amarillo.

I was not invited to watch the dailies (raw footage, usually) but I didn’t then know that dailies existed and did not feel insulted. In the next fifty years I watched more than my share of dailies. In weak moments I like to think I discovered Jennifer Garner, but that was from an audition tape, not a daily.

The Ravetches and I only spoke a few words; they were nice words but even then I heard the first faint whispers of something I was to suspect many times: the desire on the part of filmmakers that the author whose book they were filming did not exist. Ideally there should be no book and no author: if not, then the film would be all theirs, something that can never be the case if there is a book and an author.

Most filmmakers instinctively believe that authors are always proprietary about their books, and many are: many, but not all. I wasn’t, for example, possessive, either on Hud or the other films made from my books. Mainly one hopes that a film of one’s books will be good, but, hey, there’s the money. The author gets money! On Hud, Martin Ritt was so burdened with budgetary concerns that he didn’t care whether I was there or not, or whether it was my book or not, and that is the condition of most directors on most films.

They have their day to make—shooting the scenes they were supposed to get, and the kindest thing an author can do is stay out of the way and not slow them down.

I did have one authentic thrill while visiting the set of Hud. The little Panhandle town of Claude, Texas, was substituting for my own mythical small town, Thalia. I’ve used Thalia as a setting for several books, including all of the Last Picture Show quintet.

Driving through Claude the next morning, on my way back to my wife and young child, I noticed that the water tower in Claude didn’t say Claude anymore: it said Thalia. That my invention had caused a small town in North Texas to change the name on its water tower—even temporarily—was thrill enough to me: and Hollywood provided it!

2

HUD WAS RELEASED in the spring of 1963, and did very well, not only financially but in the awards season: Patricia Neal, Melvyn Douglas, and James Wong Howe all won Oscars. There was a special showing in Fort Worth, which I attended, unlike all the stars, who were as far away from Texas as they could get.

The ending, weak in the book, was just as weak in the film. This tough old rancher Homer Bannon (Melvyn Douglas), who has weathered many tragedies and survived them, basically falls off his horse and dies. That was my fault—I yielded to my then editor, John Leggett, who felt there needed to be more suspense in the story. The screenwriters had a fine chance to correct this obvious mistake, but they declined the challenge.

The box office on Hud was sufficiently robust to raise thoughts of a sequel to this profitable cow. I had by this time finished my second novel, Leaving Cheyenne, which was set pretty much in the same locale. My reluctance did not deter Paramount, which optioned the book and

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  • (4/5)
    I had to chuckle very often during the reading. It's an autobiography where he tells his life as a scriptwriter. It's more a kind of byline which brought him some necessary money to do his writing and especially bookselling. He tells with whom he was writing, about producer and the film industry, about sripts which lay around for years until the were used for a film or never had got a green light to be produced and about how fast he was/is writing his own novels.I had to chuckle very often during the reading. It's an autobiography where he tells his life as a scriptwriter. It's more a kind of byline which brought him some necessary money to do his writing and especially bookselling. He tells with whom he was writing, about producer and the film industry, about sripts which lay around for years until the were used for a film or never had got a green light to be produced and about how fast he was/is writing his own novels.
  • (3/5)
    Larry McMurtry has written more memoirs than most people have written letters home. I have just finished reading "Hollywood" (2010), the third of his literary memoirs, but he has written at least two other books, "Paradise" and "Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen," that might be termed memoirs, as well. As sketchy as these books are, the 77-year-old writer may still have a few more memoirs left to write.In "Hollywood," his recollections of his many years as a scriptwriter, McMurtry makes the surprising, at least to me, comment that he works "harder at screenwriting than I do at fiction -- fiction comes to me easily, and scripts don't. I have to work at them; they're a craft I've only partly mastered -- the character part." Much of McMurtry's fiction, like his memoirs, has an easy-going style, as if it were just poured onto a page. Even so, I would have thought any serious novel would be more difficult to write than any screenplay. True, scripts are often written by committee, with the director getting the final say about what actually goes into the movie, which must be frustrating for any scriptwriter. But this doesn't appear to be what McMurtry is talking about.Elsewhere in the book he recalls that after a heart attack in the 1990s, "I could write fiction, which doesn't really require a clear mind: it's a semivisceral experience ... No one can write screenplays in this trancelike state." Fiction doesn't require a clear mind? That seems revealing. I would love to hear other novelists comment on this observation.McMurtry says he's grateful to Hollywood because "it's essentially financed my fiction, my rare book business, and, to a huge degree, my adult life." Besides, he confesses, he just loves Hollywood and numbers actress Diane Keaton among his best friends. He hates movie sets, however, and makes a point to avoid them. Speaking of directors, he writes, "the kindest thing an author can do is stay out of the way and not slow them down."Another surprising thing in McMurtry's memoir is that he believes "Loop Group" a much better novel than "Lonesome Dove." I've read his Hollywood novel "Loop Group," and I enjoyed it, but it seemed slight to me, again as if it were written on the run, while I consider "Lonesome Dove" a masterpiece of western fiction. Most readers and not a few critics seem to feel the same way. It did win the Pulitzer Prize in 1985, while "Loop Group" went largely ignored. McMurtry could be right, however. I would love to read both of those novels again.
  • (3/5)
    This is not so much a memoir as it is anecdotes from McMurtry's movie experiences. They do not move smoothly from one story to another but jump around as thoughts do, and often result in something of a tangle. Still interesting reading and at 146 pages with some "chapters" being a page or even less, it can be read in an evening or two.