Archives for posts with tag: screenwriters

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Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the release of one of my all-time favorite movies — the charming, delightful, funny, profound, original GROUNDHOG DAY starring Bill Murray. And since today is February 2nd (for the uninitiated, the day marks the annual event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, when a groundhog named Phil determines the number of weeks until spring by whether or not he casts a shadow), I encourage everyone to kick back and (if you can get your hands on a copy) watch this wonderful film.

Applause, applause for the gifted screenwriter of the brilliant script for this film — Danny Rubin. Visit Rubin at his website (dannyrubin.com), where he’s posted all kinds of fascinating material.

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Yesterday, I finished reading The Moving Target, a novel by Ross Macdonald. I hesitate to label this multilayered book a “detective” novel — even though that’s its ostensible genre. The book — originally published in 1949 — features Lew Archer, an L.A. private investigator, who appears in a series of novels by Ross Macdonald.

While reading the work of this amazing wordsmith/poet, I was struck by its similarity to the best passages in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald — and figured somebody somewhere must have written about this. A quick Google search revealed more than I’d hoped.

My research uncovered a fascinating article entitled “Ross Macdonald’s Marked Copy of The Portable F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Study of Influence” by Robert F. Moss. In the article, Moss demonstrates how Macdonald learned from Fitzgerald on a variety of levels, including language, plot, structure, and technique. Macdonald is quoted as calling Fitzgerald “a dream writer,” “our finest novelist,” and “my master.” Read the entire article here.

To give a sense of Macdonald’s command of language, here is the opening paragraph from Chapter 4 of The Moving Target:

We rose into the offshore wind sweeping across the airport and climbed toward the southern break in the mountains. Santa Teresa was a colored air map on the mountains’ knees, the sailboats in the harbor white soap chips in a tub of bluing. The air was very clear. The peaks stood up so sharply that they looked like papier-maché I could poke my finger through. Then we rose past them into chillier air and saw the wilderness of mountains stretching to the fifty-mile horizon.

While researching The Moving Target, I learned (duh!) that it was made into Harper, a 1966 movie starring Paul Newman. Legendary screenwriter William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men) adapted the novel for the screen — and considered The Moving Target his breakthrough script (it was his second screenwriting credit). Sounds like a great movie — can’t believe I’ve never seen it.  Newman also starred as Lew Harper (the screen name for Lew Archer) in the 1975 movie The Drowning Pool, based on Ross Macdonald’s novel of the same name.

For more about Ross Macdonald (and in case you missed it), see our article from a few weeks ago to commemorate the anniversary of Macdonald’s birth on December 13th.