Sunday, September 24, 2006

Playwright Joseph Hayes Dies

Tony winning playwright Joseph Hayes died at age 88 of complications from Alzheimer's Disease on September 11.

Hayes' first play on Broadway was Leaf and Bough, which played for one night in 1949. He would see much more success with the novel The Desperate Hours. The novel focused on a group of fugitives who invade a home and hold the family hostage. Hayes would adapt his own novel into the 1955 Broadway play, starring Karl Malden, Mary Orr, and Paul Newman. The play would win the 1955 Tony for Best Play. That same year it was adapted into the classic movie, starring Humphrey Bogart and Fredric March. It would later be remade in 1990.

Hayes would also write other Broadway plays. The Happiest Millionaire played in 1956. It would later provide the basis for the 1967 comedy film starring Fred MacMurray and Greer Garson. In 1962 Hayes' play Calculated Risk played on Broadway. Hayes also produced The Happiest Millionaire and Calculated Risk (which was in turn based on one of his novels).

Hayes wrote the screenplay for The Desperate Hours and The Young Doctors. His novels also provided the basis for the films Neunzig Minuten nach Mitternacht (based on Yours After Midnight), The Third Day, and Haute tension (based on the novel No Escape). Another novel provided the basis for the Wonderful World of Disney episode Bon Voyage. Among the novels Hayes wrote were Don't Go Away Mad, The Thompsons, and Come into My Parlour.

Hayes was a fairly prolific novelist, who also worked on stage and in film. His lasting contribution was definitely The Desperate Hours. Not only did the movie based upon the novel and play prove to be a lasting classic, but its influence continues to be felt even to this day. It has been imitated both in other films and in episodes of TV shows countless times. Indeed, it can be argued that The Desperate Hours is one of those archetypal plots on which writers and directors will always be doing variations. The fact that Hayes also wrote other novels, plays, and movies is a tribute to his considerable talent.

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