A Trove of Faulkner Film Scripts – New York Times


”There are misconceptions about Faulkner as a screenwriter,” Mr. Brodsky said. ”Actually, he worked very hard on the scripts. What he didn’t like was that the films were never made. The old joke – that he asked the studio if he could write at home, that they thought he meant somewhere in Los Angeles, and instead he went home to Mississippi – is not exactly right. On and off, he spent months at a time in Hollywood.” Got Credit for Two ’44 Scripts

In 1944, Faulkner worked on the only two scripts for which he received credit from Warner’s – ”To Have and Have Not” (1945), written with Jules Furthman, and ”The Big Sleep” (1946), written with Leigh Brackett.

Mr. Brodsky said that the original typescript of ”To Have and Have Not” showed that Faulkner had written most of it. No one has found any of the ”Big Sleep” manuscripts, so the extent of Faulkner’s contribution is not known.

When Faulkner first went to Hollywood as a famous writer in the 30’s, he was paid between $1,000 and $2,000 a week. In the early 40’s, however, his reputation declined, and in 1942, under a contract with Warner’s, he started at $300 a week. It took three years of incremental increases to bring him up to $500 a week.

On Oct. 15, 1945, Faulkner wrote a letter to Jack Warner, asking for a formal release from his contract. In part, it read: ”So I have spent three years doing work (trying to do it) which was not my forte and which I was not equipped to do, and therefore I have mis-spent time which as a 47-year-old novelist I could not afford to spend. And I don’t dare mis-spend any more of it.”

Five years later, after the disappointments of Hollywood, Faulkner received the Nobel for literature.

via A Trove of Faulkner Film Scripts – New York Times.

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  1. George Kaplan
    April 19, 2014

    I was about to mention that having credit on The Big Sleep and To Have and Have Not was good going before I even read this! Interestingly (or not) I read just yesterday while flipping through David Thomson’s – alternately compelling and smugly annoying – The Big Screen that Faulkner disclaimed much credit for both those films, asserting that Hawks did most of the work. I wonder now if that was entirely the case, perhaps he didn’t feel proud of the work? They are, of course, highly entertaining and highly Hawksian films. The Big Sleep in particular is *great*! However, they are *Hawks* movies and don’t have anything close to a Faulknerian stamp.

    • April 19, 2014

      Maybe one of his defining characteristic ploys was to take the contrary position?

      From that era to this, the director’s stamp is what we notice most in the movies, screenplays are blueprints, at best, and a lot of people tinker with them — but the director is the one that oversees the making, and indelibly marks the film as his own.

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