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August 1994


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 5 Aug 1994 08:18:34 -0600
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An additional thought about the relative success of older films
(make that 2 thoughts):
1. We remember the best stuff, not the vast majority of duds, including those
that were critical or box-office successes at the time.  That point needs
a history of its own.
2. WIT in screenwriting seemed to die in the 1950s.  There were still lots
of good scripts, but the kind of fast-paced urban dialogue and vernacular
wisecracking that marked many memorable films of the 1930s and 1940s seemed
to dry up.  I assume that there are a number of reasons, but one has to be
the aging or passing of a particular generation of writers who had come
from (or at least been processed by) New York.  Charles Brackett, Ben Hecht,
Dorothy Parker are just a few names that come to mind.  Many had their
origins in reporting.  Some, like Parker, had honed their wits (often as a
kind of competition) with verbal sparring with others.  By the fifties,
that all changed.
(And I'd gladly take any 3 Brackett-written Billy Wilder films over any
number of Diamond-written Wilder films--and yes, that includes SOME LIKE
--Don Larsson, Mankato State U., MN