The Quick 10: 10 Famous Authors Who Tried Scriptwriting
During the holiday season, I was doing some research for a story and discovered that the uber-sarcastic Dorothy Parker did some work on the script for the saccharine and sappy It's a Wonderful Life (that's not a slam, by the way, I love that movie). Apparently lots of famous writers have put in their time "“ sometimes uncredited time "“ on some of the most famous movies in history. Here are 10 of them.
1. Maya Angelou, Poetic Justice. She's actually the one behind Justice's beautiful poems, not Janet Jackson (you're shocked, right?).
2. Ray Bradbury, Moby Dick.
3. Roald Dahl, You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, both Ian Fleming creations. You will be less surprised to know that he had a hand in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory before denouncing the whole production.
4. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gone with the Wind. Makes perfect sense now that you know, doesn't it?
5. Gore Vidal, Ben-Hur. Vidal wrote in his memoirs about his experiences script-doctoring the original, but Charlton Heston always refused to acknowledge that Vidal had anything to do with Ben-Hur.
6. Roger Ebert, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. OK, so perhaps Ebert isn't a writer of fine classics, but for a critic to contribute to the script for such a clunker is a little surprising. To be fair, the film is kind of a cult classic these days, but when it was released in 1970 it was a big flop.
7. James Agee, The African Queen.
8. Dorothy Parker, It's a Wonderful Life and A Star is Born. We're talking the 1937 original, not the Judy Garland or Barbra Streisand remakes. In fact, this script earned Parker an Academy Award nomination.9. Truman Capote, The Innocents. Capote wrote some of this 1961 Deborah Kerr horror movie and was rewarded with an Edgar Award for his efforts in 1962. Clearly he did a good job at scaring the audience "“ Martin Scorsese named this his list of scariest movies of all time.
10. William Faulkner, To Have and to Have Not. Ernest Hemingway wrote the novel, so it's kind of funny that Faulkner was chosen to write the screenplay "“ they did not care for one another. Faulkner also did some uncredited rewrites to Gunga Din and Mildred Pierce.
Of course, there are scads of authors who have adapted their own work for the big screen, but I chose not to include those since that's much more common. If you have any other examples, feel free to leave a comment. Have a good weekend!