Friday, September 24, 2010

Screenwriter Irving Ravetch R.I.P.

Irving Ravetch, who wrote the screenplays for such films as Hud (1963) and The Cowboys, passed on September 12, 2010 at the age of 89. The cause was pneumonia.

Irving Ravetch was born on November 14, 1920 in Newark, New Jersey. Suffering from asthma as a child, Mr Ravetch was sent to live in the warmer climate of Los Angeles to live with an aunt for five years. Mr. Ravetch attended Long Beach City College and the University of California. He served a short stint in the United States Army, but was given a medical discharge because of his asthma. His first screen credit was for the MGM musical Living in a Big Way (1947) as co-writer with Gregory La Cava. His first sole writing credit was on The Outsiders (1950), a lavish War Between the States epic. He would write or co-write  the Western Vengeance Valley (1951) and  The Lone Hand (1953). It was while at MGM that Mr. Ravetch met his wife and the collaborator with whom he wrote many of his films, Harriet Frank Jr. Their first credit together would be Ten Wanted Men (1955).

The two would adapt the Faulkner novel The Hamlet into the film The Long, Hot Summer (1958). They would go onto write The Sound and the Fury (1959), Home From the Hill (1960), The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1960), Hud (1963), Hombre (1965), House of Cards (1968), The Reivers (1969), The Cowboys (1972), Norma Rae (1979), and Murphy's Romance (1985).

There can be no doubt that Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr.  were among the best screenwriters in Hollywood of their time. Together they wrote two films that were nominated for writing Oscars--Hud and Norma Rae. Arguably they should have been nominated for more. They did notable work on The Long, Hot Summer, The Reivers, The Cowboys, and Conrack. Although largely snubbed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, the two of them wrote films now recognised as classics.

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