by Tavis, May 30, 2005 3:29 PM
My favorite anecdote from this history of screenwriting is about Columbia studio head Harry Cohn. The story goes that one afternoon Cohn was walking past the writer's building on the Columbia lot. When he heard no sound of keys tapping through the open windows he went into a rage, yelling, "Where are the writers? Why aren't they working?" The air was suddenly filled with the clicking of typewriters. Cohn responded, "Liars!" It's no doubt that screenwriters are perhaps the most maligned group of authors around, and it's easy to see why ? most movies are dull and uninspired. But there are also films that transcend their medium and shine as examples of cinematic art. In both cases the image starts with the word. In Framework, professor of cinema Tom Stempel takes readers through the backdoor of the movie-making business and into the writer's domain. From the rise of the studios to the fall of the independents, Framework charts the course of the screenwriter, through the formation of the Writer's Guild to the black-listings of HUAC to the squabbles over who exactly is the auteur of the film, the writer or the director. With information on more than two dozen of the most prominent screenwriters in the business ? from Nunnally Johnson and Lamar Trotti to Alan Rudolph and John Sayles ? Framework is the history book for the budding screenwriter.