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Screenwriting History #28: Early Movies Portraying Screenwriters

Screenwriters are not an obvious choice for a protagonist in Hollywood movies and for good reason. They are writers and rarely make for an active main character in a screen story. However, when captured uniquely, they have presented some fairly interesting movies.

Early on in the "talking" era screenwriters were the subject of a Hollywood movie with CRASHING HOLLYWOOD (1931), written by Ernest Pagano and Jack Townley. The story centers on a screenwriter who happens to collaborate on a gangster movie with a real-life gangster. When the film is released, the mob realizes its accuracy threatens their existence and the writer's life is in danger.

It would be almost twenty years until the next significant film involving scribes was released and what a movie it was. The 1950 film noir classis SUNSET BOULEVARD written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett (also credited to D. M. Marshman, Jr.) starred famed actor William Holden played a struggling screenwriter pushed into collaborating on a story with a silent film star who was on her way out of the business.

In a way 1950 was the year of the screenwriter as also released was IN A LONLY PLACE, another film noir, screenplay by Edmund H. North adapted from the novel of the same name by Dorothy B. Hughes. Hollywood legend Humphrey Bogart played Dixon "Dix" Steele a down on his luck screenwriter who gets framed for murder.


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