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The Novelists Go To Hollywood!

Guest Author - Amber Grey

Did you know that F. Scott Fitzgerald, the famous author of “The Great Gatsby” and “Tender Is The Night,” tried to make a successful career as a Hollywood screenwriter? Unfortunately, he rarely had luck on his side to get the rightful writing credits he deserved.

As history goes, in 1937, Fitzgerald became a contract screenwriter at MGM Studios; a second-chance for the author who had failed once before in 1932. Fitzgerald toiled and poured himself into writing screenplays, trying to master the craft, but most of his pieces were never filmed. He wrote un-filmed scenes for “Gone With The Wind” (1939) and whole screenplays by himself that were rejected. Only one of his screenplays was accepted and made into a film – “Three Comrades” (1938) which starred Robert Taylor, Margaret Sullivan and Franchot Tone. Although he was the primary writer, he still shares credit with fellow writer Edward E. Paramore Jr., and the novel from which the film was based on by Erich Maria Ramarque. It seemed Fitzgerald could not cut a break in Hollywood!

Following more trials and failures as a screenwriter, Fitzgerald left the film scene two years later and never returned again. However, his time there was not a total waste of time. Fitzgerald collected enough experience and information in order to write a satirical series, “The Pat Hobby Series.” His last unfinished novel, “The Last Tycoon” was modeled after the life of film producer Irving Thalberg from whom Fitzgerald worked with in the early 1930s. The famous author continues to remain an uncredited writer for a number of classics in which his writing contributed; some such titles include the “Red-Headed Woman” (1932), which starred blond babe Jean Harlow, “Marie Antoinette” (1938) starring Norma Shearer, and George Cukor’s “The Women” (1939).

Other uncredited novelists who wrote for Hollywood include:

Joseph Heller, author “Catch-22" co-wrote a few comedies including “Sex and the Single Girl” (1967), an uncredited writer for the Bond spoof “Casino Royale” (1967) and “Dirty Dingus Magee” (1970).

Dorothy Parker co-wrote the original “A Star Is Born” (1937) with husband Alan Campbell. She remains uncredited for a number of films including “Hands Across The Table” (1935) starring Carole Lombard and Fred McMurray and “The Cowboy and The Lady” (1938) starring Gary Cooper and Merle Oberon. Not only did she co-write Hitchcock’s “Saboteur” (1942), but Parker is also the woman standing next to the master of suspense in his famous cameo in front of Cut Rates Drugstore on the street. But Hollywood left a bad taste in her mouth after leaving the place. She always referred it as ‘Out there’ whenever speaking of her experiences.

Ayn Rand immigrated from Russia to Hollywood, California to write for the movies. She worked in the costume department at RKO Studios, then after a chance encounter with Cecil B. DeMille, got a job as a script reader. From there, she wrote “scenarios” for the “silent films.” She sold her first screenplay “Red Pawn” in 1932 to Universal Studios. It was never produced into a film. After her novel “The Fountainhead” became a best-seller, Hollywood bought the rights for a film adaptation. Rand wrote the script, but the finished result, “The Fountainhead” (1949) starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal, did not satisfy her.
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