Posted in screenwriting tips, tagged Bob Fossee, Cary Grant, Charade, Chekhov, Emmy, Father Goose, John Stone, Oscar, Peter Stone, Sweet Charity, The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, Tony, William Goldman, Yale on May 4, 2010 |
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In all of the many books I’ve read on screenwriting and screenwriters I don’t recall the name Peter Stone being mentioned once. Perhaps that’s because his films, mostly written in the 60s and 70s, aren’t the most timeless classics from his era—but he did win an Oscar for co-writing Father Goose (1965). In fact, I believe Stone was the first writer to win an Oscar, and Emmy and a Tony. (Even today that’s a small list.) One of the most popular and enduring films that he worked on was Charade (1963) starring Cary Grant. And the script for Sweet Charity (starring Shirley MacLaine and directed by Bob Fossee) was written by Stone, and still has a fan base.
Contemporary writers may know Stone as the screenwriter of the original movie The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1976). Stone had a solid background not only having a father (John Stone) who was a screenwriter and producer of more than 100 films, but he earned a Master’s degree from Yale. He died in 2003, but fortunately we have a glimpse of some of his views on writing from his audio commentary on the Charade DVD. There the Oscar, Tony and Emmy winning writer talks about one form of writing that didn’t mesh with his skill set.
“When I couldn’t sell the original screenplay (for Charade) I was advised by my wife, and my agent concurred, to turn it into a novel. I had never written a novel and it was in the course of writing the novel that I came to realized that I had no ability for writing novels at all. It’s a different set of muscles. There are very, very few people who can write dramatic material and narrative prose. Very few. Chekhov could do it. There are some today who can do it. Richard Price can do it. Crichton. They just call on a different set of muscles. One is descriptive and uses language in a way that dramatic material does not.
Dramatic material—everything has to be revealed through behavior, that’s all you have to reveal it with. And description plays such a small part in it. It’s just a different set of muscles at work and I don’t have them, or I never developed them, or I wasn’t interested in them or something. But I sure discovered it immediately. So it was a rotten novel.”
Charade DVD commentary
That in part explains why Hemingway, Faulkner and Steinbeck never thrived in Hollywood. Is there sufficient proof to say that novelist trying to become screenwriters or screenwriters trying to become novelist leads to excessive drinking? Stone boils it all down for us: It’s simply “a different set of muscles.”
Related Post (as someone who has done well writing novels and screenplays); William Goldman Stands Alone
Scott W. Smith
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Posted in Miscellaneous, tagged Barnes & Noble Booksellers, CBS Records, Chase Jarvis, Duke Ellington, Gary Kelley, George Gershwin, Jason Weinberger, Kelley's Blues, Melody Parker, New Yorker Magazine, Newsweek, Peabody Conservatory, Rhapsody in Blue, Rolling Stone, Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, Three Black Kings, Time, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra, William Grant Still, Yale on February 6, 2010 |
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Tonight the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra will perform a concert called “Kelley’s Blue” that I had the opportunity to work on. Part of the concert will be a 40 minute section featuring the music of Duke Ellington’s “Three Black Kings” and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and visuals by artist Gary Kelley.
Whether it’s opportunities like this or writing this blog, I am reminded of the Tom Peter’s quote that helped change my mindset when I moved to Iowa back in ’03–”Sometimes it’s best to go where the hotspots aren’t.”
Keep that in mind wherever find yourself in this world.
Over the last couple decades Kelley’s clients have included New Yorker Magazine, Rolling Stone, Time, Newsweek, CBS Records and the large murals seen at Barnes & Noble Booksellers. In 2007, Kelley was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. My role in this concert came in the shooting and editing of 50 pieces of Kelley’s artwork that will be shown on a large screen for between 1,200 and 1,500 people.
Photographer Chase Jarvis has said something to the effect that right now within 10 feet of you there are 100 great photos that can be taken. I think the wherever you live there are not only stories to be told, but opportunities to use your creativity in ways you ‘ve never dreamed of.
If you have really big dreams about really big mountains that’s great—but keep in mind that mountain climbers start with small climbs. As the saying goes, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” Then build on what you’ve done.
By the way, this won’t be your standard symphony concert tonight as conductor Jason Weinberger ( a Santa Monica native who came to Cedar Falls via Yale & Peabody Conservatory) will also be “incorporating music from William Grant Still and J Dilla (James Yancy), a Grammy-nominated record producer and one of the music industry’s most influential hip-hop artists.”
WCF Courier article on concert by Melody Parker.
Scott W. Smith
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Posted in Screenwriting Quotes, tagged Emmy, James Dean, James Whitmore, Marine, Oscar, Shirley Jones, The Shawshank Redemption, Tony, Yale on February 7, 2009 |
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James Whitmore died yesterday and though he was an Emmy and Tony Award winning actor who was twice nominated for an Oscar I imagine most people today remember him most for his role in The Shawshank Redemption. In that film he played the elderly Brooks Hatlen who upon being released from a long time prison sentence has trouble finding his place in the world and eventually takes his own life.
Whitmore himself didn’t seem to have trouble finding his place in the world and is one of those people who lived his 87 years with gusto. He played football at Yale, served as a Marine in the South Pacific during World War II, and was a broadway actor and made his first film in 1949. He had three children and once gave an acting workshop where one of the students was James Dean.
Certainly someone with a 50 year career has at least one quote we can mull over.
The Associated Press reported that as a teenage actress Shirley Jones was starting out, Whitmore gave her this advice, “If you’re going to be in this business, you better learn your craft.” And Jones added, “And he never stopped learning.”
Scott W. Smith
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