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Paperback Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting Book

ISBN: 0446391174

ISBN13: 9780446391177

Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting

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Book Overview

Enter Hollywood's inner sanctums in this gosippy and honest book, named one the top 100 film books of all time by The Hollywood Reporter, by the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and bestselling author of The Primcess Bride.

No one knows the writer's Hollywood more intimately than William Goldman. Two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter and the bestselling author of The Princess Bride, Marathon Man,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A great book by America's best screenwriter

Goldman (whose credits include Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Marathon Man, Misery, and the Princess Bride, and who is also a terrific novelist) was the first screenwriter whose name I recognized as having appeared on the credits of several films. He has since become my favorite, so when I found that he had written a book on the workings of the screenwriter in Hollywood--a town for which I have always had great fascination--I knew I had to read it. Unfortunately, it was years before I finally got around to it. To give you an idea how good I think this book is, I had read Stephen King's Needful Things (app. 800 pages) in five days and that was at that point my quickest pace. Well, I read Adventures in the Screen Trade (including the full script of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid--a terrific read in itself, and alone worth the price of the book--a total of 600 pages) in two days. I just couldn't put the thing down, and I find that phrase to be a cliche of the most odious order. I was reading it at breakfast, on my commute in, at lunch, the commute out, all evening, and before bed. Goldman writes such a gripping story of his experiences in Tinseltown, that I was drawn in, always wondering what was going to happen next. Only once did my interest flag, and that was halfway through a screen adaptation of a story presented in the book just beforehand. The story was ten pages, the adaptation forty, so I simply felt at that point that I was reading the story over, it was just longer. However, once I got over that and realized that the point of the exercise was to illustrate the differences in form, I read again with relish. Goldman writes with a nicely conversational style--but not overtly so--that draws you in to his world. I think that this book would be especially of interest to anyone who wants to write for Hollywood (although you may not wish to continue with that dream after reading this), or any writers in general (as he goes over form and structure that is relevant to all writing), or to a fan of the behind-the-scenes workings of Hollywood.

Fascinating, insightful, couldn't-put-it-down book

Like screenwriter William Goldman, I love movies. I love everything about them -- from their scores (especially those by John Williams or James Horner) to the actors (particularly Sean Connery, Gene Hackman, Kevin Spacey and Cary Grant) to the directors (Shyamalan, Cameron, Welles and Reiner) to the screenwriters (Mamet, Shyamalan and, of course, William Goldman).Goldman's book "Adventures in the Screen Trade" is one of the best books I've read in years. It is chock-full of fascinating anecdotes...crisp, witty, honest writing...and enough "dirt" on Hollywood to keep a half dozen gossip columnists busy at their keyboards for days.So well-written and fun is Goldman's book that I think even if I wasn't a budding screenwriter and avid movie-goer, I still would have found his peek behind the scenes in Hollywood to be an engrossing read. But for me, a true film nut, this book is indispensable. It contains plenty of tips on how to write screenplays, sure, but the most important lesson I learned from Goldman's book is that Hollywood is a brutal, fickle and cutthroat place to do business and that I'd best develop a thick skin if I'm going to send my screenplays there.Since reading Goldman's book, I noticed many of the movies I've enjoyed over the years have been written by him -- including Princess Bride (one of my all-time favorites), Magic, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Misery and even the just-released Jurassic Park 3! "Adventures in the Screen Trade" is a superb book. I highly recommend it.

A must-read for anyone remotely interested in the film biz

Writing screenplays can be a thankless task; producers, directors, and actors all have their own agendas and many are quite willing to sack the writer at the earliest opportunity in order to further those agendas. The salary can be nice, for sure, but you have to wonder sometimes why writers put up with it. Adventures in the Screen Trade will certainly have you asking that question more than once, but it also helps you get inside a writer's head and understand the rewards.William Goldman wrote Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Princess Bride (both the book and the screenplay), and a ton of other books and screenplays. There's plenty of humor in Adventures, although not of the absurd type found in Princess Bride; it's more of a light-hearted, can-you-believe-this tone that you'd expect to hear from someone who is supposed to give a lecture but decides he wants to drop the pretense and have an informal conversation with the audience.The book opens with Goldman's analysis of the various elements of the film industry. The heart of the book, though, is probably the middle two sections. Goldman discusses his own adventures in the trade, and devotes at least a chapter to most of the films on which he worked from 1965 to 1979. He talks about the problems he encountered trying to find the "spine" of the stories, the structure that would let him transform an idea into a blueprint for a movie. He discusses the negotiations that tried to navigate through all those agendas - and sometimes succeeded; what connected with an audience and what didn't; and the small thrills that can be a part of the moviemaking process, like Sir Lawrence Olivier asking him if it was OK to rearrange a few words of dialogue in Marathon Man. There is some fairly juicy behind-the-scenes gossip here, but Goldman doesn't come off as vindictive; he's often just as critical of himself as he is of anyone else, and he seems to understand how people with the best of intentions can still wind up making each other's lives difficult.He also dissects the screenplay to Butch Cassidy - reprinted here in its entirety - in great detail. Both the dissection and the screenplay itself are tremendously useful to anyone who really wants to understand the screenwriting process, even though I'm fairly certain these days that very few people use quite the format that Goldman does. The final section of the book is another boon to those interested in the guts of screenwriting. Goldman takes one of his old short stories, transforms it into a short screenplay, and then gets feedback on the script from top Hollywood professionals in a number of disciplines. It gives an added perspective to the look behind the curtain of filmmaking and balances the memoir elements of the book quite well.I've reread this book at least five times, and I still enjoy it thoroughly. That I've learned anything is a considerable bonus. For education or enjoyment, you can't beat this book.

Riveting, informative in a way other books aren't

I have read a lot of books about screenwriting, filmmaking, and related topics. I learned more in Goldman's book than in most of those other books put together, and it was so wildly interesting and entertaining that I couldn't tear myself away.Goldman is alternately self-congratulatory and self deprecating, proud and humble, excited and blase. His prose reflects his love for telling a good story with good reversals, and his screenwriting technique becomes apparent throughout the book. What also becomes apparent is Goldman's genius, and the precarious balance between success and selling out inherent in the screenwriting trade.I learned about filmmaking in a way I never have, and got the opinion and perspective of a true veteran in the field. And, this book is a great read by a gifted author!This book contains a general history of Goldman in Hollywood, as well as a rundown of all his scripts and the experiences he had writing them and seeing them come into maturity as films (or not). It also contains the full screenplay for "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" as well as a screenplay written from one of Goldman's old short stories which is especially interesting because it comes with critiques from an art director, editor, cameraperson, and director. Intertwined within this framework is Goldman's philosophy on writing as well as dozens of lessons on how to improve as a writer.I enjoyed this book greatly, and look forward to reading his follow-up to it, "Which Lies Did I Tell." Without a doubt, this book is required reading for ANYONE who wishes to be a screenwriter, and probably also for anyone who is remotely interested in Hollywood and the movies.

Read i.

I read it in one week. One week! Does't seem that impressive, but that specific week was a very busy ONE and the average time it takes me to read a 400+ page book in a (to me) foreign language is about two months... IF you are interested in the movie-business, read this thing, it'll be worthwile to you, and that's garanteed by this humble screenwriter. Want to know why you shouldn't invent a story that contains fifty camels raging through Central Park? Read Goldman's book. Want to know what is left of your screenplay after the sometimes (literally) disastrous influence of directors, producers, actors, directors of photography, et many cetera? Read tha damn book. Want to know how big you are, as a screenwriter, in the business (think atom, AND rhinoceros)? Read it. Want to read a book that is not only very interesting, but also makes you laugh out loud occassionaly? ... O.k., he swears about every other page, but if you can't handle swearing on paper, just don't even think of entering the magically beautiful world of Hollywood (or would it not...accept you?). And his use of language makes his writing strong, impressive. It leaves an imprint on your brain, that either makes you turn away from any Hollywood aspirations for ever, or wanting to pack and head for L.A. right away.(Why? Read the book!)
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