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A Giant Among Screenwriters: William Goldman Dies

Nov 16, 2018  •  Post A Comment

He had an unparalleled career as a screenwriter on acclaimed films, including winning Oscars for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” in 1970 and “All the President’s Men” in 1977. William Goldman, who also wrote scripts for “The Princess Bride,” based on his own novel, and “Misery,” among many other beloved movies, died today at his home in Manhattan, according to media reports.

Goldman reportedly died of complications from colon cancer and pneumonia. He was 87.

His many other screenplays included “Marathon Man,” “A Bridge Too Far,” “Heat,” “The Stepford Wives,” “The Great Waldo Pepper,” “Harper,” “Magic,” “The Chamber,” “Absolute Power” and “Dreamcatcher.”

Goldman, a longtime New York resident who reportedly stayed away from Hollywood as much as possible, penned a number of incisive books about screenwriting and the movie business, including “Adventures in the Screen Trade,” published in 1983, “Hype and Glory” (1990) and “Which Lie Did I Tell” (2000).

The Hollywood Reporter notes that Goldman is credited, in “Adventures in the Screen Trade,” with coming up with “Nobody knows anything,” the three-word statement that THR calls “the final dictum on Hollywood genius.”

THR quotes Goldman writing in the book: “Nobody knows anything. Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.”

The THR report adds: “In a review of ‘Adventures in the Screen Trade,’ filmmaker John Sayles wrote that the book’s ‘final section is the best discussion I’ve read of the pitfalls of tackling a screenplay.'”

THR also reports: “In his books about Hollywood, Goldman noted that he frequently fought battles with directors — ‘writer killers,’ he called them — who had no vision of what they wanted, so they demanded constant rewrites.”

A documentary about Goldman, “Nobody Knows Anything (Except William Goldman),” has reportedly been in the works for a few years.

Here’s a clip of Goldman accepting the Oscar for “All the President’s Men” in 1977 …

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