SCREENPLAY BY: Jules Furthman

One of only six screenwriters to feature on one of my t-shirts (Big Sleep poster, woop!), Jules Furthman remains one of the most underrated screenwriters of his generation.

Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1888, he started his writing career as a magazine and newspaper writer under the name Stephen Fox. Throughout the 1910s and 20s, he wrote a ridiculous amount of screenplays, adaptations and scenarios, including The Way of All Flesh (1927, dir. Victor Fleming) and The Docks of New York (1928), the latter marking the beginning of his collaboration with director Josef von Sternberg. A writer-director duo that is often overlooked, they worked on such films as Morocco (1930), Blonde Venus (1932) and Shanghai Express (1932), among others. In 1935, he received his only Oscar nomination for Mutiny on the Bounty (1935, dir. Frank Lloyd), losing to Dudley Nichols, whom we covered here. In the late 30s and throughout the 40s, he often wrote for Howard Hawks, including Only Angels Have Wings (1939), To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946) and Rio Bravo (1959), his last screenplay. Hawks supposedly said of him, ‘If there are five ways to play a scene, Furthman will find a sixth.’ Jules Furthman passed away from a brain hemorrhage in Oxford, England in 1966 at the age of 78.

FAVORITE ANGRY MAN #5: Juror 5 (Jack Klugman)

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Though he may seem timid and unsure at first, Juror 5 (Jack Klugman) offers something invaluable to the discussion: personal experience. His tough upbringing in the slums is similar to ‘the kid’s’ and though he tries not to let that get in the way, he relates to him nonetheless and provides insight into the mind of a teenager from a rough background, particularly during the switchblade debacle. His relatability and the other jurors’ snobbish attitude towards both him and the defendant serve as an example of how to treat people from different walks of life and his input is a reminder that everyone’s life experience is valid.

Olivia de Havilland

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I couldn’t possibly cover 104 years of absolute badassary and do them justice, but, in my review of The Dark Mirror (1946, dir. Robert Siodmak) a few years ago, I referred to Olivia de Havilland as one of those ‘universally beloved people in the classic film world’ and the outpouring of love following her passing last month proves that. Her immense talent, dedication and wise choice of roles are a reflection of her hard-working nature and, if her infamous lawsuit against Warner Bros in 1944 – look it up – is anything to go by, she was just as fierce offscreen as she was onscreen. Like her BFF Bette Davis, Olivia fought for better parts and resisted the Hollywood studio system at a time when that just wasn’t possible. She re-invented her career time and again, ended up winning two Oscars for To Each His Own (1946, dir. Mitchell Leisen) and The Heiress (1949, dir. William Wyler) out of five nominations and, after 50 years in the business, she was made a Dame of the British Empire in 2017. A legacy such as hers shouldn’t have to require online articles entitled ‘More than just Melanie’ or ‘Ten Olivia de Havilland movies that aren’t Gone With The Wind’, especially because it seems to have been an exception, rather than the rule, but somehow her life and career seems to get lost in wider circles who no doubt know all about Bette, Kate or Joan. Yet, like them, Olivia was a baddass. And as she joins her old friends in Hollywood Heaven, we shall continue to honor her here on earth. Farewell, Olivia!

SCREENPLAY BY: Ring Lardner Jr.

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I swear I’m not deliberately going for blacklisted screenwriters for  SCREENPLAY BY every time, but the fact that they keep popping up says a lot about Hollywood’s bleakest period. Here is the most notorious of the Hollywood Ten, Ring Lardner Jr.

The son of famed humorist Ring Lardner, he was born in Chicago in 1915. He studied at Princeton and at the Anglo-American Institute of the Uiversity of Moscow before returning to New York in the mid-1930s, where he worked at the Daily Mirror for a while before moving to Hollywood. He signed with David O. Selznick and worked as a script doctor and publicist and, in 1942, he wrote the screenplay for Woman of the Year (dir. George Stevens) with Michael Kanin, for which he got the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. He went on to write the scripts for Laura (1944) and Forever Amber (1947) for Otto Preminger before the you-know-what hit the fan. Lardner’s left-wing views, which he allegedly acquired during the Spanish Civil War, led to him being questioned by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947. He refused to answer their questions, along with nine other creatives, making him one of the Hollywood Ten (this is too extensive to cover here but please do look it up). He was sentenced to twelve months in prison and fined for ‘contempt of Congress’. After this, he could only find work under a pseudonym and, along with Ian McLellan Hunter, also blacklisted and under a pseudonym, wrote such TV shows as The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Buccaneers. In 1965, he was hired to write the screenplay for The Cincinatti Kid (dir. Norman Jewison) and in 1970, he wrote M*A*S*H* (dir. Robert Altman), for which he won his second Oscar, for Best Adapted Screenplay. One of his last screenwriting credits was the Muhammad Ali film The Greatest (1977, dir. Tom Gries). The last surviving member of the Hollywood Ten, Ring Lardner Jr died in 2000 at the age of 85. His memoir ‘I’d Hate Myself in the Morning’, named after part of his response in the blacklist enquiry, was published shortly after.

FAVORITE ANGRY MAN #6: Juror 1 (Martin Balsam)

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As the foreman, Juror 1 (Martin Balsam) tries his best to keep the peace and remain unbiased. He is also the only one who doesn’t ever explain his reasoning for voting guilty and subsequently not guilty. With his non-confrontational attitude, Juror 1 is a much-needed addition to the group, especially towards the second half, when, ironically, his stint as the moderator becomes moot as the tensions rise…

SCREENPLAY BY: Howard Koch

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If terrorizing the nation behind the scenes with one of the most iconic radio broadcasts of all time wasn’t enough to put Howard Koch on the map, then turning an obscure play into an American film classic surely sealed the deal.

Born in 1901 in New York City, Howard Koch studied law before turning his attention to plays. After a few flops on Broadway, his play The Lonely Man became a hit in Chicago. After this, he began writing for Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater on the Air, adapting H. G. Wells’ novel War of the Worlds into the now infamous 1938 radio special. The following year, he signed a contract with Warner Bros and had a string of hits, including The Sea Hawk (1940, dir. Michael Curtiz), The Letter (1940, dir. William Wyler) and Sergeant York (1941, dir, Howard Hawks), culminating in his adaptation, with Julius and Phillip Epstein, of Murray Burnett and Joan Alison’s play Everybody Comes to Rick’s into, you guessed it, Casablanca (1942, dir. Michael Curtiz), for which he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. He followed this with Mission to Moscow (1943, dir. Michael Curtiz) and Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948, dir. Max Ophuls), the former being the source of his blacklisting in 1951. Like so many others, he ended up fleeing to the United Kingdom, returning five years later, after which he continued writing plays and getting involved with political causes. His memoir As Time Goes By was published in 1979 and, in 1995, Howard Koch died at the age of 93.

Classic Hollywood stars react to the summer

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll be familiar with Classic Hollywood Stars React and more recently, 31 Days of Summer Movies. And because it’s July (hurrah!), I decided to combine the two, so here is Classic Hollywood stars react to the Summer! Because I’m crazy.

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Red Dust (1932, dir. Victor Fleming) – Jean Harlow enjoys a bath in the rain-barrel, in one of the most iconic scenes in all of Pre-Code!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mogambo (1953, dir. John Ford) – In the 1953 remake of Red Dust, Ava Gardner (playing Harlow’s role) kicks off the movie in a similar fashion!

 

 

 

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The Lady from Shanghai (1947, dir. Orson Welles) – Despite its convoluted plot, intrigue and double crosses, the summer-y goodness of The Lady from Shanghai is delicious…

 

 

 

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The Seven Year Itch (1955, dir. Billy Wilder) – Not the most famous scene from the film, but that one was too obvious. Instead, here’s this one!

 

 

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Rear Window (1954, dir. Alfred Hitchcock) – The couple sleeping on the balcony is such a mood…

 

 

 

 

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To Catch a Thief (1955, dir. Alfred Hitchcock) – Because obviously. My ultimate summer movie! <- Look!

 

 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/caroltheoldhollywoodgarden/

FAVORITE ANGRY MAN #7: Juror 6 (Edward Binns)

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Though he is perhaps, along with Juror 2, the most unassuming member of the panel, his emotional intelligence sets him apart. His quiet, unremarkable nature is a welcome contrast to the more empathic attitude of the louder jurors. A house painter by trade, Juror 6 is aware that a more qualified person should be in his position, but nevertheless, he offers his opinions and stands up for his colleagues when needed. More importantly, his ‘not guilty’ vote finally splits the room.

Theresa Harris’ Hollywood

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Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix show, Hollywood, is not only a guilty pleasure for classic film afficionados, but it is also a reminder of how far Hollywood has come and how far it still has to go. Soppiness aside, Hollywood is a revisionist tale that, unrealistic as it may be at times, shows you how Hollywood could and should have been all along. It is meant to be unrealistic and overly sentimental for a reason. Tinseltown’s treatment of all minorities has always been an issue and sadly, it remains that way to a certain extent and Hollywood makes no apologies as to how it wishes it could have rectified that. I, for one, appreciate it, even though I find its dismissal of Pre-Code to be strange at best. If anything, those five years could have saved Hollywood from what it became, and yet Murphy makes no reference to it at all. Baby Face (1933) alone deserved a mention. And so did Theresa Harris. Her Chico, Barbara Stanwyck’s best friend in the film, may have been her biggest role, but the amount of times the words ‘maid’ and ‘uncredited’ show up under her filmography is a sad testament to how problematic Hollywood has always been. Theresa Harris was one of the many African-American actors who sadly never got to rise above the stereotypes. Her filmography was extensive (Hold Your Man (1933), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), Out of the Past (1947), among many others…), she was a versatile actress, singer and dancer, she worked in all the major studios with nearly all the major stars and yet, she never got her due. Later in life, she said ‘I never felt the chance to rise above the role of maid in movies. My color was against me. […] My ambition was to be an actress. Hollywood had no parts for me.’. Maybe Theresa Harris could have been Camille Washington (Laura Harrier). We can only dream…

SCREENPLAY BY: DeWitt Bodeen

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It’s Pride Month and we are celebrating it here at the Garden! This year, the June edition of SCREENPLAY BY is dedicated to one of the many LGBTQ+ storytellers from Hollywood’s Golden Age, horror master DeWitt Bodeen.

Born in Fresno, California in 1908, DeWitt Bodeen started his career as an actor and playwright, achieving relative success with his plays Escape to Autumn and Embers at Haworth. He began working as a reader in Hollywood and, when one of his plays caught the attention of producer Val Lewton, he was hired as a researcher and then script writer at RKO. His first credited screenplay was Cat People (1942, dir. Jacques Tourneur), which I covered here, the first of a string of horror pictures during Lewton’s run as producer. Then came the screenplays for The Seventh Victim (1943, dir. Mark Robson) and The Curse of the Cat People (1944, dir. Gunther von Fritsch and Robert Wise), followed by The Enchanted Cottage (1945, dir. John Cromwell), marking his departure from the horror genre. His adaptation of John Van Druten’s play I Remember Mama (1948, dir. George Stevens) was his last big film success of the decade before moving onto television, where he spent most of the 1950s, before returning to film in the 60s and earning a BAFTA nomination for Best British Screenplay for Billy Budd (1962. dir. Peter Ustinov). Sometime in between that, he met actor Val Dufour. Though definitive sources are hard to find, it is believed that the two were a couple during this period and, if so, it is probably safe to assume that theirs was one of the many LGBTQ+ love stories from Old Hollywood that had to be kept under wraps. Looking back, it is perhaps no coincidence that Bodeen’s most iconic work is eerily metaphorical. Maybe, like Cat People’s Irena, DeWitt Bodeen lived in the shadows.

He died in 1988 at the age of 79.