From the Oscar-winning screenwriter of All the President's Men, The Princess Bride, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, here is essential reading for both the aspiring screenwriter and anyone who loves going to the movies.
If you want to know why a no-name like Kathy Bates was cast in Misery, it's in here. Or why Linda Hunt's brilliant work in Maverick didn't make the final cut, William Goldman gives you the straight truth. Why Clint Eastwood loves working with Gene Hackman and how MTV has changed movies for the worse,William Goldman, one of the most successful screenwriters in Hollywood today, tells all he knows. Devastatingly eye-opening and endlessly entertaining, Which Lie Did I Tell? is indispensable reading for anyone even slightly intrigued by the process of how a movie gets made.
Two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter Goldman follows up his irreverent, gossipy and indispensable screenwriting bible, Adventures in the Screen Trade (1983), with this equally wise, tart and very funny account of the filmmaking process. He begins with the surprising admission that he was a "leper" in Hollywood between 1980 and 1985: after Magic (1978), he was unable to get any screenplays produced until The Princess Bride (1987). (Moviegoers' loss was readers' gain: during those years he wrote six novels.) Wildly opinionated ("Vertigo--for me, the most overrated movie of all time") but astute, Goldman is a 35-year industry veteran with lots of tales and a knack for spinning them. He knows how to captivate his audience, peppering his philosophical advice with star-studded anecdotes. Whether he's detailing why virtually every leading actor turned down the lead in Misery before James Caan offered to be drug-tested to get the part, or how Michael Douglas was the perfect producer but the wrong actor for The Ghost and the Darkness, Goldman offers keen observations in a chatty style. In the last section of the book, he gamely offers readers a rough first draft of an original screenplay. Even more bravely, he includes instructive, intuitive and sometimes scathing critiques by fellow screenwriters, including Peter and Bobby Farrelly (There's Something About Mary), Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise) and John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck). Movie buffs of all stripes, even those with no interest in writing for the screen, will enjoy this sublimely entertaining adventure.
More adventures & more sordid
Goldman returns to his scribe/insider role, going over his career in the movie trade and telling tales of what happens when feature film sausage is made. It’s truly a redux of Adventures In The Screen Trade, with sections talking about Goldman’s hits (and misses - despite a screenwriting career that’s more successful than most could hope for, he still endured years of being seen as a has-been, 8 years – if I remember correctly - where none of his scripts made it to production); the processes of writing and pitching (and why the first draft is not the pitching draft which is not even the first production draft); juggling the demands of studio suits, directors, stars, and the story; breakdowns and critiques from other high profile screenwriters; and a hefty dose of the film industry’s grimy side, including the anecdote that furnished the name of the book.
If you’re interested in film beyond the shiny surface of stars and sequels or want to read war stories about the craft and dirty work of screenwriting, Bill lays out a smorgasbord of moments from his career and the wisdom gleaned therein. A breezy, easy read spiked with Goldman’s acerbic wit and worth the time spent on it.