Friday, August 7, 2009

Screenwriter Budd Schulberg Passes On

Screenwriter and novellist Budd Schulberg passed Wednesday at the age of 95.

Budd Schulberg was born March 24, 1917 in New York City. As his father B. P. Schulberg would be the head of production at Paramount, he would grow up in Hollywood. Schulberg's mother was literary agent Adeline Jaffe, whose brother was legendary agent and producer Sam Jaffe. Schulberg attended Darmouth, from which he graduated in 1936 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Budd Schulberg began his career at Paramount in 1937 as a publicist. It was also that year that he did uncredited work on the screenplay for A Star is Born and Nothing Sacred. Schulberg was released from Paramount after the failure of Winter Carnival, for which he wrote the screenplay. Schulberg's experiences in Hollywood provided the basis for his novel, What Makes Sammy Run, published in 1941.

During World War II Budd Schulberg made propaganda films for the Office of Strategic Services and the War Department with director John Ford. He also wrote the stories for several films. He of the people who put together evidence against the Nazis for the Nuremberg trials, even arresting filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. In 1947 his novel The Harder They Fall was published, based loosely on the career of boxer Primo Carnera.

The Fifties would see Budd Schulberg's two best known films. On the Waterfront was released in 1954, for which he won the Oscar for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay and the WGA Award (screen) for Best Written American Drama. In 1957 the movie Face in the Crowd was released, which centred on an Arkansas hayseed who becomes a megastar (played by Andy Griffith).

It was in the Fifties that Schulberg also wrote for various anthology TV shows, such as Sunday Showcase and General Electric Theatre. He wrote several more books, including The Disenchanted, Swan Watch (with his wife, actress Geraldine Brooks), and Everything That Moves.

Although his career as a screenwriter was not long, Budd Schulberg must rank among the greatest screenwriters of all time. On the Waterfront and A Face in the Crowd have two of the best screenplays of all time. He had a knack for dealing with issues that could be difficult or even controversial (the power of the mob over the New York docks, media's ability to create celebrities) in a way that was entertaining and yet never shallow. Indeed, what made both On the Waterfront and A Face in the Crowd such great films was Schulberg's writing.


Holte Ender said...

On the Waterfront is still one of my favorite films, everything seem to come together, the casting, the directing, the acting performances from so many members of the cast and of course the writing. The man who put the words into the actors mouths. A great movie.

Kate Gabrielle said...

How sad..