A bad week for screenwriters

  1. Budd Schulberg (1914–2009).
  2. Blake Snyder (1957–2009).
  3. John Hughes (1950–2009).

Budd Schulberg (On the Waterfront) and Blake Snyder (Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot) were very different writers, but each was a craftsman with a family history in showbiz. (Schulberg was the son of a studio head; Snyder did voice work as a child for his father’s Roger Ramjet cartoons.)

For what it’s worth, my favorite Schulberg book is The Disenchanted, a roman à clef based on F. Scott Fitzgerald and Schulberg himself. Among other great bits, there’s an amazing drunken stream-of-consciousness “appreciation” of Charlie Chaplin’s man-child film persona by the Fitzgerald character. (Ironically, the novel plays out rather like Chaplin’s own later film Limelight.)

Blake Snyder was more famous for being a how-to guru than a screenwriter; his books (Save the Cat! and Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies) emphasize commercially-viable, Hollywood-style projects. Unlike most Hollywood gurus, though, he actually had multiple real film credits, and wasn’t automatically dismissed by working writers: both John Rogers (Leverage) and Alex Epstein (Bon Cop / Bad Cop) thought he was on to something. (Plus, you know, Snyder never named names to HUAC. That might matter to some people.)

Update: Damn. John Hughes as well. (And I know it’s horribly cynical of me, but I wonder when the backlash will begin at how much more attention this death gets, especially online, than the “worthier” Schulberg’s death does.)

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