The second screenwriting powerhouse couple featured on SCREENPLAY BY, Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich were not only responsible for one of Hollywood’s greatest comedy franchises, but they also wrote the most iconic Christmas movie of all time and, you know, it’s December, so… fitting. Also, I thought it would be a nice note on which to end SCREENPLAY BY (boooo!).
Frances Goodrich was born in Belleville, New Jersey in 1890, ten years before Albert, born into a showbiz family in New York City. He started appearing in plays and films, while Frances graduated from Vassar College in 1912, after which she too began her brief Broadway career. The two of them met sometime in the late 1920s, got married in 1931 and moved to Hollywood. After adapting their own play Up Pops the Devil, they signed with MGM and enjoyed a prolific run in the 1930s, including frequent collaborations with director W. S. Van Dyke, on films such as Penthouse (1933), Rose Marie (1936) and, of course, The Thin Man (1934), for which they received their first Academy Award nomination as well as wide acclaim for their fresh and realistic portrayal of marriage. Its sequel, After the Thin Man (1936), earned them another Oscar nomination. In 1946, they adapted Phillip Van Doren Stern’s novel The Greatest Gift into the world’s most beloved Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life (dir. Frank Capra), a claim that, at the time, would have seemed ludicrous to anyone who heard it. They went on to receive two more Oscar nods for Father of the Bride (1950, dir. Vincente Minnelli) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954, dir. Stanley Donen), for which they also won the Writers Guild of America award. They won three more WGA awards for Easter Parade (1948, dir. Charles Walters), Father’s Little Dividend (1951, dir. Vincente Minnelli) and The Diary of Anne Frank (1959, dir. George Stevens). The latter was based on their own 1956 play, for which they won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The two remained married until Goodrich’s death in 1984, aged 93. Hackett died eleven years later, at the age of 95.