Rediscover: Adventures in the Screen Trade

William Goldman, acclaimed storyteller of screen and page, died last week at age 87. He won two Academy Awards for screenwriting, first for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), then All the President's Men (1976). Goldman also wrote 16 novels, several of which were adapted (with his help) into films. The Princess Bride is perhaps the most popular of these. Released in 1973 as just the "good parts" of an older, longer story by one fictional "S. Morgenstern," this fantasy romance became a film in 1987--and has since become a cult classic. He also wrote and adapted the thriller Marathon Man (1976), starring Dustin Hoffman, and Magic (1978), starring Anthony Hopkins.

Goldman suffered a lull in his screenwriting career during the mid-1980s. He used that time to write several novels and shift to nonfiction with Adventures in the Screen Trade (1983), a behind-the-scenes and behind-the-craft look at his own experiences screenwriting and with Hollywood in general. But what makes Adventures in the Screen Trade such a perennial favorite of prospective filmmakers is part three, a hypothetical adaptation of Goldman's short story "Da Vinci" into a screenplay, with the full text of both included. In 2000, Goldman went off set again with Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade (Pantheon). Adventures in the Screen Trade, despite its opening line ("Nobody knows anything."), contains plenty of storytelling wisdom, and is available in paperback from Grand Central ($20, 9780446391177). --Tobias Mutter

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