I am no superb technician or inexorable scene-squeezer like Billy Wilder. I am the man who produces the raw material on which the superb technique can be exercised, the man who writes the scenes that wait to be squeezed. If I were more, I should also be less, and the more I should be would, from my point of view, not be worth the less I should be.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Would it surprise...that the screenwriter regards the camera as his principal character, and that if he did not write a part for that character he would not be writing a screenplay? He doesn't write in camera movements for the benefit of the director or the cameraman, but for his own benefit: so that he may have some knowledge of the acting length of the script; so that he may leave out of his dialogue those effects which the camera can better achieve without words; so that he may have some feeling for the rhythm and pace and movement of the film across the screen. The writer knows perfectly well that the director will not follow his camera directions literally.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
There is probably no facet of American life which you can accurately portray, but you can photograph Clark Gable in his underpants, you can dissolve out on an adulterous kiss, and you can be more obscene by implication than the forthright smut talk of soldiers in a barrack room. The terminal result of this straightjacket Grundyism is intellectual lethargy and paralysis of the imagination. What's the use of thinking up strong dramatic stories or scenes when you know in advance they are going to turn out as tame as Prudence Penny's recipe for baked custard?
Saturday, February 21, 2009
You can't make good pictures without good screenplays, and you can't get good screenplays from people who do not know how to write them, technically speaking, but have been debauched and spoiled by Hollywood to such an extent that technique is all they have left. Technique alone is never enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered pot holder.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
"Would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of bar-room vernacular, that is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed but attentive."
There's also a really great poem that follows this that is totally worth reading, worth copying, worth hanging up in your room. Really, it's great. Go read it! It's too long for me to type up here.
The keynote of American civilization is a sort of warm-hearted vulgarity. The Americans have none of the irony of the English, none of their cool poise, none of their manner. But they do have friendliness. Where an Englishman would give you his card, an American would very likely give you his shirt.
There are two kinds of truth: the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The first of these is science, and the second is art. ... The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps art from becoming ridiculous.