The Writer Speaks: Arnold Schulman



I grew up I was a child in the middle of the depression my early childhood was spent in really tiny hillbilly towns in North Carolina where we were the only Jews they had ever seen ever seen and my father had a very hard time making a living he had dry goods stores they were called and every time we moved which was every few months to a new town I would get beaten up because I was a Jew and I they called me a Christ killer and I thought they said rice killer I wasn't what is this robber I don't know what that means and in one town they beat me up and took my pants off so they could see my tail so we're talking about a really primitive times and when I was 10 I sold my first story the boys magazine and there was a page that send us a little paragraph about your experiences and I did and they printed and sent me a Mickey Mouse watch and I said wow this is great you just talk about your stuffs and they send you Mickey Mouse watches and really lit from that moment I never thought about doing anything else but being a writer what year was that oh I was 10 I was born in 25 so I can't do math yeah I need a calculator people will figure that I had 30 in the 30 somewhere my mother died when I was 11 and my father stuck around for about a month and then he said I'll be back in a few days and he never came back so uh-oh I had an uncle who lived like 50 miles away and he called and discovered that I was alone and I was taken to this his house and my father had was one of eight kids all had stores in North Carolina and they got together what are we gonna do Arnold and it was a depression so they said I can't take it I got two kids of my own nobody could afford to take me except my grandfather and so I went to live with him had a little store in another little town and this is really bizarre don't talk about it and can't figure it out this day he was married for the second time and he and his wife never looked at me they never spoke to me they put no sheets on the bed they put no plate out for me to eat I was non-existent I would wait until they were asleep and sneak into the kitchen and scraped the food around the bowl so they wouldn't see any was missing and I took this for a while and I said this is pretty stupid I don't want to live here and I thought where do I want to live and I said Radio City in New York and now this is weird today because it was very common I hitchhiked to New York I'm 11 and during the Depression it was very common families were disjointed and kids were moving around and it wasn't a big deal to see an 11 year old kid hitchhiking and I'll skip the whole in-between but I got to New York got to Radio City I remember they wouldn't settle me a ticket but I had to die before I left I cleaned out my grandfather's register so I had money I guess a man here's my dime buy me a ticket they did and I lived there I found the place to hide at night so the watchman wouldn't see me I would sneak backstage and look at the scenery it was magic it was the best thing I could imagine it was better than Disneyland and I would break into the candy machines and eat the candy and rig water from the fountain and see the same show over and over the same movie and I got pretty bored with that after a while so I went out and this is kind of depression-era stuff around my mother I remember I had to steal food I would go in little mom-and-pop shops and steal an apple or some cupcakes whatever I could and walk out and one day the owner of the man caught me and he started screaming at me and shaking me and his wife came over and told him to stop and instead of the one Apple he gave me two apples and sent me on my way amazing time and another time I remember I saw a line all the way around the block and I fathered where's this line going through it was a bread line that we're doing food out and I didn't I was too hungry and too tired to get all the way in the line so I just sat down on the curb with my head in my hands and really disgusted and apparently I'm middle-aged man I remember this so well near the inferno when he got his food he came and sat on the curb beside me we did not say a word and he gave me half of his food and we ate the food didn't say a word we got up and walked away in opposite directions unbelievable I remember it so vividly and then by chance I was walking the streets of New York and saw the New York Public Library Wow a library I'm gonna go to the library I want to live there so I moved into the library and during the day I would just read all kinds of books but I didn't know what the words meant and that night there was those I think the seven or eight stories below deck below the ground level and I would find a different one each night and hide in the stacks and sleep there morning I would get up and go and wash myself and steal some food and come back and read and it occurred to me if I want to be a writer I better find out what the words mean so I hitchhiked back to North Carolina to my grandfather's house who did not know I was gone and I stayed there until I finished high school which in those days in North Carolina there was only 11 grades and I think I gave months a year you learn nothing the requirements to be a teacher we needed a high school education but the high schools were like my high school where they taught nothing cuz they knew nothing but I got a scholarship to the University of North Carolina I went there I took three or four English classes at journalism class because I knew I'd be everyone to be right I didn't want to I didn't need a degree got to me English guys didn't know a word they were talking about never heard of the books they were had no clue what was going on so I stopped the classes and started writing human interest stories for the local newspaper to pay my expenses people in town about monuments how they came about just stuff like that would you go out and talk would you reacting as a reporter would you gotta talk to people interview them and get it all down it was absolutely reportage I didn't know what it was right but I talked to them and found something interesting and I knew the format from the journalism class then I rode was like I don't know how many words and they saw mm-hmm this was so easy everything in my life have been so easy right and so lucky it amazes me I'm just being guilty because it was so easy but that but the but what you were developing at that time I guess for your for your career were skills as a journalist absolutely and how to tell a story absolutely yeah so I got a list from the journalism department all the papers in North Carolina I wrote my little stories and mimeograph them and said them out I don't remember how many like several hundred and I learned I saw the format for release it's such and such a date and I didn't know I had usual rates and to my surprise like out of several hundred however many like ten twenty thirty would print it and I'm getting money at like ten dollars a piece I was making three or four hundred dollars a week during the Depression I think the teachers weren't make half that much so I bought a car I went to Havana precast ravanna great life since you want to know what contributed to my writing got off the plane in Havana taxi driver take me to the best hotel I had pockets full of cash on the way said do you want to see an exhibition I thought an article I'm sure he took me to a whorehouse and outcomes like this in six or eight women and two or three guys and I I'm now sixteen this was better than Radio City it was and I said who do you want I want them all and I don't know I spent weeks there got with my basic education was there the war had started when I was 16 and I couldn't wait to get in it I didn't know about the Holocaust I didn't know about Pearl I didn't know about anything it was a war and it was exciting and it was an adventure and I wanted to be a Marine because they had the nicest uniform but I was too short to be a Marine and so I didn't want to be in the army because I saw the movies they were in the dirt and the people were shooting at them so I joined the Navy because it's clean and you could take a shower and nobody is shooting at you and then I got to boot camp and they wake you up at dawn is dark it's cold and you're running and jumping and I saw my God and quit that I do I got to get out of this I know I have learned to type not on the typewriter but there was a print a layout of the keys with diagrams of where to move each finger so it occurred to me there's got to be an office here I found the office and I said I was told to report as a typist I don't know how we won the war it says if I sit over there and then I went to the barrack he said I was told I'm a typist okay nobody cared and then I realized that this is the office where requisitions came in three people two gunnery school for people to cooking school and I waited till one came up that I liked which was photography school my name on the top and I'm in photography school part of it was aerial photography and I remember that the first time going into plane you had to lock yourself in strap them because the pilot would pick a target and he turned the plane on its side and I had to lean out with this really have a camera and and take a picture of his lead did it clicked it like that you took the picture and we did it I was scared because I had I did scared of heights anyway i what the hell am I doing here and finally we did it he flipped over and I did the picture and I sat down with leaves and I realized I forgot to put my fast my very lucky I covered from the air Iwo Jima Okinawa the first planes in Japan passing Mount Fuji never occurred to me that I could get hurt as a matter of fact I was assigned to a fighter squadron which means it's a pilot there's no room for me and I figured out a way behind the pilot there was a glass canopy the full-back where the radio equipment is and I figured out I could squiggle and I was so little weighed about 90 pounds not a skinny little kid I could squeeze in there and go and I went to the commander and I said I can squeeze in and take the pictures he says you can get hurt up there what are you crazy and I said but that's my job sir he says you don't have a job this is a fighter squad you're a photographer we don't need you you and then I started to cry in the Navy on the carrier in the war and I'm crying like a little kid that I was and I don't know why but for some reason he said joke I said you can't do this to me you can't let me get this close and not get in it and for somebody said okay but I couldn't wear a parachute a parachute wouldn't fit so I'm in this thing and they are shooting at us but I didn't think they would hit us and they didn't and I'm taking these pictures and coming back and and I made a business out of it I took pictures of all the pilots and exchanged for food they had they were officers they had steaks and I screaming I ate well or I lived well I lived in the in the Fatah photo photo lab it was a picnic for me no it was absolutely a picnic so after the war I went to to New York to that's where people went to become novelists irregular offal so you'd written one on of carrier yeah but I didn't even bother sending that out I knew that that was I still have it in a box somewhere I keep saying I really want to read it but I haven't read it in 50 years so I may never read it but it occurred to me and look through the books in the library that a novel is like three or four hundred pages a play is a hundred and twenty pages I think all right place it was survival skills yeah absolute survival yeah I'm in a situation I don't like it I have the power to fix it like I guess I don't can't rely on anybody else but this is the way to go Robert Henderson who wrote later wrote great play Ian sympathy wonderful movies the nuns story sand pebbles he was teaching a course in playwriting but he had just gotten older than maybe or army whatever he was and and I wrote a play his wife was an executive at the theatre guild which was the most pretentious theatre producing organization in the world and he became so excited about my play that first of all I mean I was living in this is such a wonderful man I can't take it up living in a walk cold water flat in the Lower East Side it's now called the little og snow then it was the Lower East Side five flights cold water the bathtub on legs in the kitchen with the toilet and the board slanted and I didn't have any one night I was a week because I hadn't eaten and I didn't say anything but I just quietly left and Bob obviously figured it out because an hour to later when class I was I was back in my apartment he had climbed up five flights of stairs rocked Andre had two huge bags of groceries and then when I went to the mailbox in the morning he has left an envelope in the mail box with several hundred dollar bills in it now how do you find somebody like that was amazing but through his wife at the Theatre Guild I started writing radio the Theatre Guild on the air and they did radio plays of big hit movies I remember I wrote the radio play for Lost Weekend for example and they had big stars and that was fascinating was that lux radio theater no it's called theater guild on the air and but what's all again.what when you wrote it you wrote a I wrote a radio overlay of the Lost Weekend and I don't remember many of them but they were hidden movies and then they did a radio version so I had to learn that you do that by you what you hear and I invented drips of water and telling the story by what you hear and can't see it was great training because like you're going on the air live and what we need a minute and 20 seconds and I got to write an hour cut them in and go to that you know rude brilliant training this is absolutely fascinating and this is you know this this is a great area for us to mine first of all Robert Anderson was you know this goodness a clean guy where was he teaching this class it was the American Theatre Wing and I went under the GI Bill and also a registrar because during this time there was a the dramatis guild and organization called the new dramatist and there were 30 of us that they picked patty was one of them Bob Anderson was one of them bill Inge every one of the 30 well they came very very successful writers Steve son I'm and every week we'd meet and just talk about craft we saw a picture of Rodgers and Hammerstein Hammerstein came to talk to us about writing a book for a musical but technical stuff things like you take those days you took a play on the road and New Haven Boston Wilmington Philadelphia all that and one of them I forgotten and said when you're on the road take the biggest laugh but you get no matter where it occurs in the play and put it at the end of the second act it was that kind of stuff and how to write a funny line where to put the joke line at the end of the sentence was that kind of meticulous craft stuff and so out of radio then I got into live television which was the best training because every week it was like writing a one-act play and it's being acted not for 50 people but 50 million people it's going out live and it's the same problem holy Christ we got to it's short you gotta fill in two minutes or you gotta cut five min was just crazy and the actress would have to run you're laughing in this scene over here I mean you have to run I asked that you had to I had to write it's to give them enough time to get that that's vain but they're crying it just brilliant no we're not what what were the names of some of the live theatre shows that you did although the one you mentioned the US Steel hour that was with Paul Newman called bang the drum slowly I remembered because it was done later on recently in PBS the Schlitz Playhouse Playhouse 90 play drive all of them I don't know dangerous to do one studio whereas all those craft yes and the director Sidney Lumet's George Roy hill John Frankenheimer Arthur Penn the whole next generation of filmmakers directors writers and actors came out of that live TV it did a show a week you had no time to screw around it was bang bang bang brilliant craft teaching like Sidney Lumet was the best because as when he became a film director I was a good friend so we talked about a lot he didn't trust the studio's to cut it he just shot what he knew because he knew how to do it because he was doing it on live TV I don't need more angles I'm gonna use one angle and I know what my next cut is and most of them are at the pin I work with them you know every week all of them and and we work well together it was a it was the best most thrilling most productive time in the world but they had to go on because live TV became film TV and who wanted to do that and anyway you've got a bigger scope a bigger budget yeah obviously it's the next logical step but all their trainings they got the best possible training in the world but another good fortune thing that happened there all through Bob and his wife's Tillis she got me into the actress studio as an observer that's what at the time the very first group it was a Brando Monty Clift Julie Harris you know everybody who became whoever they were started there in the first group at the Actors Studio and I worked there I've worked as it wrote stuff and directed stuffs and it was I learned everything but Lee Strasberg was running it and I wrote my first play that the theater guild was going to produce and I loved Lee I thought he was God and I said I want him to direct they said please he's not a good director he will ruin the play I said if he doesn't do it I don't want it done they said ok and we tried it out at the Westport the Theatre Guild on the Westport country plants where they tried it out first and we directed it it was recive pretentiously than they loved it was my fiddle has three strings and he's directing it an opening night it went on forever forever the actress too dearly was between hello and how are you there was five minutes of the actors doing a sense memory and working on the heat and a private moment and the audience was walking out in droves it was a catastrophe and I unforgettable moment is in the audience was Noel Coward in his companion and I'm rushed out when he was kind enough to wait until the end of the first act before he left and I rushed up to here but he was saying there was a companion and he said smoke you know actually I think it should have been called my fiddle has two strings oi and they from no coward no no power the follow-up to that story is I'm there and they're on I start to laugh hey look at me and I said I wrote it and he's oh dear I guess I put my footer whatever it is if you ever get to Jamaica look me up okay well who's going to get to Jamaica but like years later after I had a hit play I did go to – Mike I forgot about him completely I went there to write and and there was a message from no coward saying I'll have a car pick you up at 7:30 for dinner he remembered it all those years because he got caught naked and I laughed about it and we had a marvelous evening I don't remember what we said but it's how everything has fit together in my life so amazingly there are these two things going on I guess the your writing plays and in working with the theatre guild and with Actors Studio and you're sort of involved in that universe and then you're also doing live TV so I always how live TV how did live TV tell tell us what happens okay or the beginning of one of your lives yeah here's how the transition I did a live TV of God I had pretentious titles Jesus I embarrassed my hearts have forgotten Hotel okay maybe you came up with this idea yeah this was an original and then you go to them and pitch it I mean in those that they that work and those they was Fred Co as a producer and he right driver and he loved everybody I said I've got a thing I want to do okay you have to tell him what it was a burden by Thursday that was that was the way it worked and half the time I didn't know where I was but this one Arthur Penn directed it and it was a big big head with a 90-minute show and I got a call a dare to later from Garson Kanin he had just ripped and directed born yesterday which was a big hit with Paul Douglas and Judy Holliday he so I know this is the parkway play he and his wife Ruth Gordon had written all or most of the Spencer Tracy Katharine Hepburn movies he was really a giant and he said have you thought about making a play on that absolutely I've got it all ready and we met and and he he that was my first my next play which was on Broadway and it was a hit but again a kind of wonderful man this I just met wonderful people absolutely luck a baby I don't know if they were all wonderful them or I just happened to meet the wonderful one we're out of town and I wrote it the television play about a father in the Sun oddly enough and and and the father is going to abandon the son okay where did that come from and in in the in the television show he does he leaves and that's the way we started to play but it was funny and we opened in Philadelphia and the audience we're laughing it was funny first of all the cast kanan cast Paul Douglas as the father and these names will not be for me but David Byrne just was an old vaudeville made funny funny Selma Ritter that everybody was funny and the audience was having the best time of their lives and then it ends on the tragedy what the hell is this and but Katie was obvious what happened had to be done I have to fix the ending but Kanan said it's your call it's your play bring it in just the way it is if you want to fix it it's up to you and I thought about it I said well I'm kibrit it in it's a flop what good is that doing for anybody I'll fix it I know how to fix it well I've been doing that on live TV and you sit down and overnight I fix it and it became a big hit comedy which then was made into assume by Frank Capra with Frank Sinatra Edward G Robinson and Eleanor Parker hit movie called called a hole dead it opened as a hole in the head cuz we I could not come up for the title because all my titles were too pretentious so a hole in the head and Yiddish said it is expression I need you like a halt ahead a lock-in Copland and get it let's call it a hole I don't care I don't care what you call it I don't like the title still it's a dumb title but it's it's better than the hearts forgotten example anyway we're doing that play that was successful that through Canaan again he got well first of all let me go back to I had a theater agent that Phyllis Anderson got me he was Tennessee Williams agent Audrey would the best agent in town and she represented me in theater and cannon called his agent a blasphemer was the head of William Morris and he became like my father and he put everything together for me like love with a proper stranger who's gone I wrote it was a spec script in those days abortion was illegal and the premise of the story is this innocent girl has a one-night stand you virgin with this musician she gets pregnant and she and this guy fall in love while looking for an abortionist that's the story who the hell is going to make that story in 1950s or whatever it was but a blast Fogle put together he got Natalie Wood and she was living with Warren Beatty at the time and he turned it down so he's I got this new kid Steve McQueen I'll put him in it anyway he put the whole thing together Italy just he gave me advice he was like my father well he's a legend he's probably the most legendary agent in the in the history of the movie biz I had them all yeah I had swifty Lazar I had sue mangers I had all of the legendary agents in the visit in those days everybody respected everybody allowed before getting into the agent just like the writer the director and the actors were a collaboration I remember with Sinatra out of respect for Capra he said can I say this line this way instead of that way because he's notorious for ad-libbing and Capra says I'll ask my Arnold that's the way it worked good they didn't respect me they respected the writer he has a function he's an equal partner in this thing but back to the agents in my case as I said their first concern was looking after me but overall it was putting a package together and they made the movie yourself I mean they put the producer together they packaged the whole thing and that's the way it worked and and if this person wasn't available you get that person it was an offshoot it was when the movie business changed from complete studio run thing to packaging agents took over agents really ran the business at that time and I think Lew Wasserman is credited with starting all that but what was it well I was just talking about how your relationship was with you know these these are all edge they're all legendary agents those two measures and swifty of course was totally different he didn't give a damn about me buddy I remember he didn't even represent half the people he got jobs for he represents anybody he wanted to if he thought he could sell you he would say but at the funeral of Natalie Wood whom I adore I love Natalie I was in love with Natalie I'm sitting next to swiftly and he can't wait for the funeral will be over and the minute we turn around just I got a deal for you well I said must be later okay that's what swifty was he was altogether different than ape and Sue was her own way crazy I love my lover but back to Fauci and Paddy Chayefsky yeah sue was four C's agent and he had done a big flop Sweet Charity and and she would you couldn't get her on the phone or when she did she was totally destructive and we could laugh about it it was what it sous today and she told Fauci I can't even get you a job on episodic TV nobody wants you to fun finally that's agents but they all had their own personality how did your friendship with Paddy Chayefsky start and and tell us a little bit about that it's started in this new dramatist committee he was willing with 30 new dramatists and we just had a good rapport and we started hanging out together and you know his wife's and and and then we moved into the same building and it just became a good close friendship and at that time when we were writing stuff you needed a sounding board so he would come to my office I'd go to his I'm stuck here I got this and this is the situation and we bounce ideas off each other this is kind of an interesting story during this live TV thing he said to Fred Coe I'm going to do this thing in France that okay thursdays or whatever and they see I gotta have it ready for Thursday I don't know what the hell the right now and we're talking about maybe I'll write about even that guy all right a little sad kind of girl and he says and he the Marty red who became the director was an actor at the time at the Sacre studio and so we started calling the character Marty cuz it was for Marty Rick and Marty does this and then Marty does that and then one evening we worked out the whole plot and then that became Marta the TV show and Marty the movie and Marty Academy award-winner the basic elements that I got from Bob Anderson how to play serve movies everything it's so simple who wants what what stands in his way what does he do to get it what does that lead to what does that lead to what are the obstacles and either he gets it redone that's it that's all you need to know who wants why what does he do to get it and and the same holds true with what you were talking about well he's got this obstacle how the hell they get out of it well maybe he does this well maybe it does this maybe and then if you've got a sounding board it's easier at that time I don't do that anymore because right now when I'm writing some I have no idea what's going to happen ever just arch and I'm fascinated by where it goes so it's a whole different process back then you had to have it ready on Thursday so it's a different story where do you find those ideas about what the you know what the what the want is for a character how do you fight you figure out who the character is and how do you figure out I mean are these inspirations they hit you in the middle of the night or it won't happen each one is different each one is different I'm trying to remember what was the beginning of love with a proper stranger it evolved I'm sorry I don't remember I remember suddenly finding myself in this situation where she's pregnant and she's not married and we need to was about finding I thought it was terrible that abortion was illegal and that's still going on right now and I said I wonder I think that's that's the route I want to write how horrible it is to have an illegal abortion that was that was the beginning of it and then I had to find them somehow I found this girl in this guy in the music and then put it all together but disbarred with that with the idea of an idea that I wanted to protest and that was out were the beginning of that room and is that something you find yourself often doing is is having strong feelings about social issues and and political issues and wanting to find a way of expressing those not always sometimes sometimes I'm intrigued by quirky psychological motivations most of the things I've done have been adaptations because I have a garage full of scripts that I wrote a spec scripts that nobody will ever do or want to do but that they started because of of something I really wanted to say or whatever but an adaptation it's there it's going to get made it's an assignment there are bills to pay and kids to deal with and and that's why that's why most of my stuff is out of patience you know you do that you did an adaptation of a Philip Roth YA novel and that's like Columbus I think that made him in the first is was that the first Roth novel that was made into a movie with his first novel first novel yeah so so tell us about the tell us about somebody says to you know we want you to do this this is a really really interesting story I had now the nominative got a an Oscar nomination for a love of the proper stranger and the Stanley Jaffe it was 28 years old comes to me and says I've got this new book by a new writer I can't pay you any money but my father is the head of Columbia Pictures and I guarantee you will get it made and I read I said I don't like it and incidentally I bet Philip Roth and he took me where it all happened this is where I lived in this worry met her and here's the swimming pool with a great few days and I wrote the script and said and he loved it and he gave it to his father ahead of Colombia and his father said are you crazy this is about Jews we can make a movie about Jews and so what are we gonna do now so it's dead and I had a meeting at Paramount with Peter Bart was Bob Evans was the head of the studio and Peter Bart really function as the brain he did made all this and we're talking about whatever he called me in about and he says do you have anything you want to do and I said yeah I happen to have this grip that I've already written so let me see it and two days later that's five days later whatever it was it was a deal and out of that Stanley became the head of paramount picture huh isn't that amazing it's a great story also let me go on with this because this is so crazy Bob Evans we had to cast unknowns we had no budget was like a million dollars or under and big Benjamin was was in we needed a girl and Beth we read everybody and Ali MacGraw got it because he was a stylist he was never acted before and Evans Bob Evans was dead set against her absolutely not but we have nobody else of course he wound up marrying her twice and the second time I'm over this I'm talking as if nobody will ever see this yeah but good way to do it yeah years later after she had married Steve McQueen and left Evans Steve McQueen that I gave on me but now it all comes together I get a call from Bob Evans let me backtrack another coincidence I lived in New York in the same building that Bob Evans lived in but he was in the pants business and he sees me in Elberton he says let's form a company together and I'm thinking why would I want to form a company with you you're in the pants business like four months later he was the head and he back to the story he he says calls me I want to get back together with Ally it works so well the first time write a story for Ally and and and we'll get back together and he loved tennis we said let's make it about tennis so this was when the worst movie ever made in the history of the world we get on location in Mexico with the Tarble little weasel of a director and just terrible what was that what the hell was his name Laurence Harvey Saturday oh yeah weasel awesome man but worse than that Evans had like six writers none of us knew anybody else was writing it writing the script so how could you possibly put together with none of it made any sense at all and he didn't get back together with our complete waste of everything well go back now for a second to this question yeah guy hands you a novel says here's a new novel by this guy Philip Roth right and you read it and you say I like it I'd be happy to write it so tell us a little bit about how you get from having this novel you know in reading this novel to writing a screenplay based okay well remember I said in make writing radio that's all about hearing stuff and at this time there were no film schools so I had to learn everyone I came time to write a movie I looked at movies and realized it's not about what you hear it's about what you see so I want to go back that and the first thing but but well the way it can fit in here in terms of take whatever the writer is describing and take the scene that he's describing and and try as much as possible to make it a silent movie if this there is no time they use visual metaphors as wherever possible and and that's kind of what we're but that it's that simple really it's all very simple there are certain scenes that are a good and some of them especially with Roth the dialogue is great and that's a good scene that's the way it is but with some of the other things you just have to reinvent it no beautiful let me go back to the goodbye Columbus and again working with Larry Pierce the director mm-hmm and in the book there was a letter very touching letter that the father writes to his daughter it's all about she has an affair he trusts her and it's the movie and and she's a wealthy Jewish family and and he's a poor Jewish family and it's that that mixture and Larry said I want to put this letter inside I how can I put the letter in Larry it's a letter I got no in rehearsal we're rehearsing scene I suddenly it hit me oh my god I know exactly where it's going to go and I went in the corner and I wrote it look took the letter and made dialogue out of it and gave it to them in that scene that we were doing I realized this is a place where she is already having an affair and the guilty about it and feels guilty about the guy and the father is telling her how much he loves her and I trust you and I know you would never do anything to disgrace me so that's how being in rehearsal works but it brings up the point about what I liked about breaking new ground like the abortion was illegal and I wanted to do something in this it was a big deal made about the fact that the movie hinged on her using a diaphragm and she left it so their parents could see it and he said you did it deliberately to break it up but you couldn't say the word diaphragm and I said why the hell not and that was a big brown breaking thing just the fact we said the word diagram whatever my first movie I realized as we're talking now that it has been a kind of goal of mine whenever you can't do something that's what I want to do like my first movie ever was wild is the wind this came about when my play was running and and Abe says how Wallace when the best producer who ever lived he had made a movie with Anna mignon a fantastic Italian woman rose to with Marlon Brando and he had her under contract for another movie and he was looking for a story but she only wanted to do one story because she I think I may get the name wrong I think you're having an affair with Russell eenie and she wanted that do this picture called scurrier with him and he now got tired of her and made fury with somebody else so she only wanted to do furia to get back at him and so I can do it better should have used they so fury was a terror hopeless movie you couldn't make it it was all this plot in the world and and a name said can you come up with something and I came up with something and and told the hell he said great and let's do it because this is way off the tangent but it goes back to live TV training i somehow place it in nevada in a sheep sheep ranch and during that part of the major scene took place when the rule sheep were being born I hadn't finished the script but the sheep were going to be born so we gotta start shooting I'm not gonna wait till I get to see so we go on location at Carson City and the live training came in at night I wrote the scenes that we're going to shoot the next day based on what the lambs did based on at the airport remember there was a scale you put in a penny or look whatever is they give you a fortune eyes okay I can use that she gets off the plane from Italy to this unser the strange placed in the bottom she knows nothing to marry a man she doesn't even know the Meryl bail order bride if he gets on this scale and it's a unfavourable fortune I'm put that in at the end of each stage we'd have to cast and correct we'd have dinner together and somebody won that to have a toast had didn't drink wine and he wanted to have a toast to manana with water she knocked the glass out of her hand it's bad luck I put that into them whatever happened I broke it in the movie that night and I loved it I loved it it was so exciting well that's like your expiry inside Summa doing in in in theater also when you're out of town and you're trying to fastly all the time and every night you absolutely and that's what's exciting it's really wonderful I don't think they make move that way anymore I don't know what they do now but they're cost so much money in there involved actually it can't improvise a car crash or overnight well where did this idea come wild is the wind about this well the movie fury it was an Italian movie so he started you start started with the premise it was about my eyes I the mail-order bride kind of thing he's alone and I took the basic plot elements and and but or what I started to say about that one is at that time the production code if a woman commits adultery she had to die at the end at the die out car accident so whatever she had to be punished in my movie not only did she not die but the husband she cheated on apologizes to her which was again a big fight with the censors and I glossed my temper in houses calm down I'll take care of it he took care of it it was just idiotic yeah I've never been a big political crusader or anything like that I never I've got something I want to say and I'm gonna say it I have never had anything to say ever and I just want to address I know all coward said I have a talent to amuse that's good enough for me if I'm quoting you correctly the the great thing about adaptations is that you can make money on them so it's not that you can make money out of there get paid yeah yeah yeah I mean it you're not wasting your time it wasn't so much I'll make the money it says I'm not wasting my time yeah I know that this will actually be made because they've bought the book or the play or the musical and they want to make it and too many times this girl full of scripts that I wanted to write nobody wanted to make it for one reason or another and when you would go into one of these adaptations say Chorus Line which was a which was a giant hit as a as a as a play as a musical are there things that that you have in mind as soon as the project starts as to how you're going to deal with a wet well Chorus Line is a completely different story it had been around for ten years and nobody could lick it and fury and martensite pure Ernie Martin who produced on Broadway Guys and Dolls and Giants they asked me if I wonder do a chord line and I wrote a script movie I wasn't to play I made a movie out of it and you mean you don't know I opened there you went out I opened it I closed all each of the stories and and brought it back interwove it was a very complicated screenplay and they got richard attenborough to direct it and we met and talked and worked for months when the script my script and then it comes to shoot it I don't know what happened he didn't shoot the script he shot the play he just went right back to the play and the producer Norman Lear and I'm gonna call him a prick because he is alan horne embassy pictures i'm saying this because at the preview in san diego I was in LA it's not a big thing he's going down the list of who's going to go to previous Sherman who Schumer the writer he doesn't we don't need him in that inverter said of course we did he's the writer so that is annoyed me so I went to the preview I'm sorry I did because I thought it was but this is really weird stuff but the cards came back here you get the preview card yeah everybody loves it but Jerry Parenti Oh putting up the money and Norman Lear and from Fuhrer and Martin and I we hated it but the card said was good this is the the guy who was doing the focus group is the first time I've ever seen the people who made this film angry because they liked it anyway so we kept saying this doesn't make sense that you gotta put this in okay I'm gonna recut it and come to nice and I'll show you the recut well we went to nice he didn't change it then went on Oh God come to London we went to London he didn't change it so I don't think it was a successful move I mean I didn't like it yeah the movie in the play was brilliant and the stuff from the play was good because it was good stuff yeah it wasn't a movie we tell us about funny lady funny lady it was a total disaster [Laughter] complete disaster Barbra Streisand that's why I have to say look this is a funny joke but he's got it I want it and I said it won't work if you've got it will only works because I don't care well make it work so I put up with this for a while and then I said no I quit I can't do this anymore they called another writer in and I don't think it worked as a movie but I just couldn't work with her and that way I loved her bras to direct rated and Ray Stark was a great friend of mine he was probably the most reptilian despised guy in the business but we had a great we've been skiing together we had a good time together as a matter of fact we were skiing one day and he was very very gloomy and what the hell's wrong with you Ray said we just shot a movie the way we were and we can't cut it it doesn't work that the first half of the movie is one set of character the last half of it was a completely new set of characters and I said okay I will we go back I'll take a look at it Sydney Pollack directed the brilliant script by Arthur Lawrence and I figured out we needed a few connecting scenes to introduce the other kind I'm wonderful stuff that they shot really funny stuff a funny party scene with somebody with I remember dressed like Groucho mar what they couldn't figure it and I worked it all out and worked it together and and I didn't want any credit because Lawrence did a brilliant job and I just would patched it up and rake start came to me and how much y'all what current bank I said I don't want anything I did it because you're my friend I think oh my god I'll never forget this I so wonderful and the very next picture I drew him I don't remember what it was or I'm making up these figures it was like this he says I know I owe you $100,000 save but I'm only going to pay a 50 because if you sue me it'll cost you a hundred thousand this way we're both making 50 you will never forgive me he'll do anything that's another part of the Hollywood what about directors you've worked with Coppola and Richard Attenborough herbert ross Larry Pierce Bill freaking Bob Mulligan and countless others what do you have to tell us you've had amazing experience about the relationships having writers and directors well I mentioned the first with Capra and cuecore and they were old school studio directors they didn't care about the acting because they hired kook or if you've got Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart you don't have to tell them how to act but all about I with him before what before we started working I went on the set where he was shooting a picture with Claire Bloom the Chapman reports and they says to her no no darling cut it's a close-up you can't blink your eyes because your eyelashes are 40 feet long that's the way he directed her um long shot a medium shot no every scene his close-up her close-up over the shoulder of the standards and that was the way it is and then you put together in the editing room and Capra was the same way because that's what that's what you did in the studio as opposed to Sidney Lumet who cut it in the camera he didn't have that stuff and and Coppola was brilliant and we rehearsed everything and he had a little handheld camera and he put it all on film he has this silver bullet it's a trailer that's got all the equipment and he works in the trailer and completely different experience with Coppola which was interesting cause George Lucas was a producer in the the the movie was Tucker about the car and both of them each of them had a Tucker car and we rode in the car and we talked to me there was great fun that was but it had nothing to do with the way the older guys made movies yeah this was really and how do they relate to you differently a colleague a collaborator no actually interesting the first meeting George had Lucas several pages and he said he had worked it out the open this was a half a page here and then you go to a quarter of a page and this is two pages and then what are you talking about I can't he's worked it all out mathematically before there was any script and I said no I can't do that in France that's okay don't don't listen to him you do it that way but it was nice it was just that's the way he worked it we like an equation yeah but Francis was just the opposite just wonderful I was a great experience I loved that experience let's go back a long way there was a fascinating story about your earlier childhood did you ever did your did your grandfather ever actually have any sort of effect on your life talked to you what about your father um my grandfather didn't know I was there and he didn't know I was gone he never talked to me at all ever but years later when my first play was on Broadway a hole in the head was about a father in this one I got a call from my father saying if I didn't send him $5,000 he'd sue me so I went to Florida was living in Miami and I'd the confrontation and gave him the money and supported him for the rest of his life and then idly enough he got married again and she had a long bout with cancer was in the hospital I paid those bills and then I got a call years later I meanwhile kept sending him money all the time and and and and he was in the hotel business now so I was paying the rent in the hotels and I took care of him I got a call from this woman he's now living with that he's very sick and had a hard problem I went there and went to the hospital and I go to see him and he's got pneumonia and the heart condition and he's soaking wet and ice went out to the nurse I'm what he's soaking wet he had pneumonia and they said we're not going in there he's a mean son of a bitch he throws food with us and we die went to the doctor he said get him out of here we don't want him he's gonna die soon anyway let him die somewhere else this isn't where so I called Frank Sinatra Oh we'd become good friends and I said Frank I can't get him into a hospital I can't get a doctor he says call me back in 20 minutes he arranged for the best heart guy and in town the best cardiology hospital and wouldn't let me pay were paid for everything and my father got better and he says to me I'm rubbing his head and saying I love you you're gonna be alright I don't know where this came from I know and he says I want to stay when I get out of here there's a place a hotel the owners a good friend of mine I want that's where I want an apartment I said okay that camera I go to the hotel the owner says that son of a bitch I don't think absolutely everybody on this street hated him he was a pain in the ass but he he threatened to sue you which was a joke I mean he couldn't sue you for using you know for writing up well I'm so and then you supported him for the rest of his life after he'd after he'd abandoned you at the age of 10 why did you think he was my father that's all I don't have any rational explanation I took care of him and I finally found a place where in this day and this woman he was with says I'll take it but you know I need $400 a week in cash take care of him it's got to be cash or right it'll interfere with my alimony payments I'm paying her 400 of cash the other guy that I got wonder a year's rent in advance because I didn't want a trouble with him so I'm going home I was now living in Connecticut and I'm thinking what the hell am I going what how long what where's this gonna end and by the time I got home my wife said there's a got a call from the doctor and call him and he dropped dead so that was a perfect happy ending so one thing that we didn't talk about was how you came to Hollywood well that I am the Hollywood the annemun yani wild is the wind picture and that was a great experience I loved that experience then I but I I didn't attend the right movies I went back to New York and I did a musical for Broadway with Mary Martin it was the biggest in the world and that was the biggest nightmare ever in the history of the world the worst show you can't imagine how bad it was we were out of town and she hired well I don't know what she wouldn't talk I said this doesn't work we got to fix it we couldn't fix it and then Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz did the score I don't know I did anybody remember they did hundreds of great standards and and moved musical disaster nobody was talking of each other Schwartz who was a lawyer every morning he'd put a memo under the door saying he's gonna sue us pray if we close it if we don't close it and she wouldn't talk to anybody it was a catastrophe so I said movies are fun food is terrible I'm gonna stick with movies and that's that's that's what happened and you came back to home yeah then the then after a while I was with then we did a hole in the head with Capra and then I worked with Anthony men on the Cimarron which was another catastrophe I mean I I could not get the script right with my fault I just it was a huge epic about the Oklahoma Territory and everybody wind up and they shot a gun and everybody rushed in to stake their claim and get the land and as a writer I'm writing this up way out of my job writing an epic a Western I don't know what the hell I'm doing but I did a lot of research and I had in this wagon there's a woman wearing a red dress he's got a little boy and he's got all these incredible stupid details then I go to this location where Howard wherever the hell it was everything I there's like four hundred wagons and two bicycles and she's wearing the red thing and he's wearing I know you're gonna really do this he did it all exactly what I rode I don't what the hell's going on here but it didn't work it's a movie what about the night they raided Minsky's that Norman Lear I wrote the script was we had a lot of fun writing it mostly I had fun looking up all the old vaudeville guys who were in burlesque and I have in my file the original burlesque sketches that they actually used here come the judge and suddenly I turned and although he's great that was fun and we shot the movie and I left and then Norma did some rewrites and they did some another somebody else came in and I have wasn't there for the shooting of that at all but I read the the the editor who cut the movie he's the one that put in the old vintage stuff about the Lower East Side and that's what made the movie where I didn't write that and and so he made the movie and what about wonton Tom the dog oh you got to talk to these IMDB people Arnold you know they're oh my god I get one will never go away this is one that I had nothing I had my name honors but all the ones I had my name on with as producer we're horrible movies that I had nothing to do with David picker was producing I wrote it on a plane the whole thing they were just was a joke it was supposed to be a little joke about the dog and he got the idea we'll make every character in it an old-time comedian I think that's what it was well then there's no story that's not it's just nothing and I wasn't invited to the set I wasn't involved with it I went to a screening of it there's Oh My gods to like to take my name off of it I would pay them to take my name up well I guess the lesson for aspiring writers who might be seeing this is that that you shouldn't let setbacks deter you from your your your dreams because even someone as successful as you with so many distinguished credits still had times when things just didn't go that well yeah that there's that the only thing that I would say to a writer who is if you can do anything else do it you know if you you're driven you're willing to go through all kinds of crap and take all kinds of blows in the head for 25 minutes do it if you have to do it do it otherwise forget about it it's just too much today there are a lot of books out that tell us you know how a screenplay is supposed to look and and how to construct one how much attention do you pay to that I don't ban it and I go there's Robert Anderson more rules that's it I don't I don't pay any attention to that I think for young writers this is what I would say learn your craft any way you can if you learn it through a book learned I learned it by watching films and watching films and watching films but you better know your craft as well as you know how to drive so you don't know how to think you don't have to think when you do it because I discovered now I did it then but I didn't know I was doing it now I know what I'm doing it if I'm writing from my head it's terrible I am a terrible writer but my unconscious is a pretty good writer and if you can somehow learn your craft so well that you don't have to think about it and stop thinking and start letting it come from your unconscious and letting it go where it will go if you know your craft you're gonna come up with a good screenplay I don't I think anybody can learn how to write a movie that's easy it's it's mathematical and all the books tell you on page 25 you do this and babies do it but once you've learned how to do it then forget that you know how to do it and just write whatever comes out and if you're not a real writer nothing will come out and you're right and you'll probably make more money than on the writer who that's it come at me right now from what I see it's all it's all craft anyway so it's just do it do you do you do you work from a detailed outline when you're writing a screenplay no no what an adaptation of course I do but right now I'm not I'm will not write any more movies because I can't get a movie made I'm writing a novel I'm writing a play and I I just I have reached the point now where I know that for me I have to I equate it to going into orbit you'd need enough thrust to get into orbit so I'm out of my head I'm not thinking here and I don't have a routine I don't get up and certain time and work and quit this right I will I'm not before I go to bed I will say here's the here's where I am this is the situation that I'm working on come up for something and during the day while I'm drinking tea or walking and look at the paper I'll get an idea and I just scribble a note on the thing and I'll wait until another when they get her enough of them I'm writing long I've always written in longhand and then I assistant Titan and and it comes together but I don't recommend it when you're just starting out well when you were writing screenplays yeah did you what was did you outline the before you did the screenplay no no I did on adaptations but not on originals no love the proper change wrote itself oh wait a minute as a matter of fact the same no I remember I did the script and then Pakula Mulligan came in and they wanted to page one rewrite and love the idea and I was in the Beverly Hills Hotel see this is fascinating to me I forgot this I'm in the Beverly Hills Hotel for several months and at night I would write the scene and Bob and Alan would come over in the morning they'd read the scene and say okay when the next night I'd write another scene and they'd come over in the morning they would read it and that's the way I was done it just it just wrote itself traveling is is everything to me I ain't this is so weird I don't care of it I have spent several months living with Swarbrick cannibals in New Guinea I've spent a couple of months did the the Peruvian Amazon jungle with the headhunters in Borneo I'd love that in India been maybe 20 times in India and I wrote a book about this holy man in 1971 nobody ever heard of him and name is Sai Baba and I think last week or the week before all the papers even the LA Times BBC huge article about him he died and he was worth nine billion dollars and he has hundreds of hundreds of millions of followers all over the world and when I was there there was like 50 people there's oh these things have happened man and in India I went to Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama is to see him because I admire him so much and he was so kind of just wonderful laughed at everything and and then I saw I'm here in Beverly Hills again but my primary focus has been when I was in my 20s I read a book called zen and the art of archery and I said this sounds is fascinating so I went to Kyoto to find out about it this is the thing that's now that we're talking I see that it it's like going to Radio City but ever I find something I want to do I just go and I got involved was then the practice of Zen which is not a religion it's a way of life for some way and I've been doing it ever since and and my Zen master died a few years ago and he was like the Pope of Zen in Japan and we spent I had a house in the South of France and he would come to spend a month for there and malleable we spent a month with me he was very much like the Dalai Lama he would laugh and everything he would get serious but things would see people screaming each other cuz they had a fender bender it would break him up all the stupid things that we would do just made him laugh and this I really want to say this because it's so valuable I think I were always asking questions about stops and he would say you'll never understand it's too simple and that's kind of that we make a big deal about everything it's just simple stop thinking so much it's okay just laugh at it serious stuff take care of it but if you're on the path I get kind and you're generous and you're Noble and you don't hurt anybody life will take care of itself don't don't worry it don't think it's the death it's too simple I've never written directly about the travel within New Guinea and all the other places that's for me and that informs it indirectly by that's what I choose and that's where I think about life and that's how I run my life but I've learned something from each of those places what were added if we're going to talk about it in the Amazon jungle I found this wonderful guide it would just be I only I always go alone the guide and the guy with the machete to hack our way through it and just a brilliant young man and he would say nobody can go into the jungle and come out the same person they are it may change you we don't know how I made them but you will be you would look at everything different and as we went he would point out different things he would say look at that old piece of driftwood and he would throw a little twigs and it would move it it was a little climbing or he would say look the beautiful vine up there I knew that it was a snake they would say something it looked like a snake and it was the root of a tree so everything was not what it seemed to babe but I remember this I'm so glad you mentioned that that we were in a hammock one night and during the day the Nats are all over unit you're sweating and it's hot and uncomfortable and we came to a tributary and ate caught a fish he was going to catch fish to eat and I went for a swim because it was hot and I in the water and I came out I felt better and then he threw the rest of the fish away about in the water in three seconds that piranha came and devoured it what the hell did you let me go in there for the they're not interested in you you're not bleeding you know but that night in the hammock and you hear these strange sounds and I'm looking up at the sky was so clear and the air was fresh it smelled so sweet and I remember saying oh my god I am so happy I don't think I've ever said that's out that before I was blissed-out so that's that's kind of where I get from the travel that just makes me am a person who is more interested in things and everything you

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