I still remember being enthralled by “On the Waterfront”, for which Budd Schulberg wrote the screenplay, when I first saw it in my late teens on the small screen back in the 70s with its fine performances by Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Rod Steiger and the delectable Eva Marie Saint.
The dilemma which Terry Malloy, the role played by Brando, faces on screen echos that which Schulberg himself faced when called upon to testify before the House Committee on Unamerican activities, itself a most unAmerican institution, and which he was able to justify in the face of accusations of betrayal — or “rationalise”, according to your point of view.
What makes Schulberg especially interesting for me is his relationship with the tragically doomed F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose “Tender is the Night” I am currently rereading, and the novel that that relationship engendered, “The Disenchanted”, which has been described as more Fitzgerald than Fitzgerald himself, and which is “the thinly disguised story of F. Scott Fitzgerald in his alcoholic decline, when life had overtaken him to the point that his genius could no longer be expressed in the only way he knew how: his writing”.
As W. Kaplan writes in his review of this book on Amazon.com:
Because of “The Disenchanted,” which I first read as a preteen, I turned to F. Scott Fitzgerald and read everything he had ever written. I believe that my understanding of his works and his life were and are rooted in Budd Schulberg’s moving and brilliant book, and if I could have thanked him in person, I would have done so, a thousand times over.
Schulberg will not be remembered by younger readers, but his life with its choices and dilemmas encapsulates so much of 20th century American History that it is worth being reviewed.
Budd Schulberg, Screenwriter, Dies at 95
TIM WEINER | NYT | August 5, 2009
Budd Schulberg, who wrote the award-winning screenplay for “On the Waterfront” and created a classic American archetype of naked ambition, Sammy Glick, in his novel “What Makes Sammy Run?,” died on Wednesday. He was 95 and lived in the Brookside section of Westhampton Beach, N.Y.
His death was confirmed by his wife, Betsy.
Mr. Schulberg also wrote journalism, short stories, novels and biographies. He collaborated with F. Scott Fitzgerald, arrested the Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl and named names before a Communist-hunting Congressional committee. But he was best known for writing some of the most famous lines in the history of the movies.
Some were delivered by Marlon Brando playing the longshoreman Terry Malloy in the 1954 film “On the Waterfront.” Malloy had lost a shot at a prizefighting title by taking a fall for easy money.
Click on link below to read rest of article and parts 2 and 3 of Hollywood Renegade
Budd Schulberg – Hollywood Renegade – 1 of 3
“I coulda been a contender,” Malloy tells his brother, Charley (Rod Steiger). “I coulda been somebody. Instead of a bum, which is what I am.”
“Hollywood Renegade” is the life story of novelist/screenwriter Budd Schulberg, who at 94-years-old, still faces the controversy surrounding his conscience-driven decisions to write a novel, “What Makes Sammy Run?”, unearthing the moral corruption inside his hometown of Hollywood, and later denouncing the Communist Party in America, testifying at HUAC and naming names of people whom he once shared political ideals with. The son of film pioneer, B.P. Schulberg, Budd grew up a Hollywood prince, but was later branded a pariah for turning his back on his childhood home. He is the most prolific writer ever to come from Hollywood and this film will take you on his extraordinary journey, inextricably tied to the history of the 20th century.
“I coulda been a contender.”
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