By Patrick McGilligan
The sequence has confirmed priceless and edifying for movie scholars, students, and historians, for screenwriters and different pros, and for movie buffs quite often. Applauded by means of reviewers and named one of the "100 crucial movie books" through a Los Angeles Times-appointed panel, it really is brought up frequently and quoted in lots of movie histories.
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Extra resources for Backstory 3: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 1960s
Sidney is a wonderful structuralist, great with structure. Sidney has his most difficult time with humorous dialogue. It's not that he doesn't get it—he does; he has got a lovely sense of humor. But he hasn't found a way to shoot humorous dialogue as brilliantly as he shoots everything else. Like dramatic scenes—Sidney goes after drama and gets it by the throat. That must not always be to your advantage, since one of your strengths is smart-ass comedy. It is possible that someone else would have served that script better, but I think he served it wonderfully.
He was down to his last one—he lived to be ninety-one—and at ninety-one, he jumped off the roof of his last building. Oh, really? If I ever digressed like this in a movie script, I would have lost the audience already. So you sold your first radio script when you were twenty . . I sold maybe a half dozen of them. I wrote a couple of The Shadows —they paid me $250 each. The ones I couldn't sell here I sold to Canadian Theater of the Air, where they would pay $100. Then, of course, the war came along and three years in the army.
The studio was so generous. A three-hour movie is very, very hard to sell. But we didn't know any other way to do the movie. We said, going in, "We're going to have a three-hour movie. " They let us do it. Afterwards, you continued to function as your own producer. Why? It seemed easier than the alternative, dealing with someone new to the projects, somebody else to argue with. Producing is not a job I normally seek. With Sidney, it was easy. Sidney and John Calley made it easy. You and Sidney seem to have been very fortunate, in general, at Warner Brothers.