Director Sydney Lumet‘s 1973 undercover police drama Serpico earned Al Pacino his second Oscar nomination for Best Actor. While it was another in a long-running streak of Oscar nominations for Pacino that resulted in no wins until 1992’s Scent of a Woman, Serpico‘s other Oscar nomination was for Best Adapted Screenplay for screenwriters Waldo Salt (Midnight Cowboy, The Day of the Locust) and Norman Wexler (Saturday Night Fever, Staying Alive). Although Serpico proved to be the last Oscar-worthy project of Wexler’s, Waldo Salt had a much longer, and much darker story in Hollywood screenwriting history.
Waldo Salt was born on October 18, 1914 and grew up in Chicago an accomplished academic. He was so accomplished, in fact, that he graduated from Stanford University at the same time his friends were graduating from high school. Shortly thereafter, Salt was in Hollywood working as a screenwriter for MGM. There he worked on and assisted with various writing projects, but his first solo writing adaptation was with a 1937 film called The Bride Wore Red. The next year, Salt joined the American Communist Party, putting himself on the radar for the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare/McCarthy era 12 years later. Continue reading →
On September 20, 1956, director William Wyler‘s Friendly Persuasion was released in theaters in the United States. Based on the book by Jessamyn West, the story revolves around a Quaker family in 1862, whose faith and belief in non-violence is tested when Confederate troops come sweeping through their land and the family must decide whether to fight or to remain complacent. The film was written by screenwriter Michael Wilson (A Place in the Sun, Planet of the Apes), and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenwriting. It wasn’t until 2002, however, that Wilson would receive legitimate recognition for his work on the film. Continue reading →
Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was a Hollywood icon during the 1950s, when he was blacklisted during the Red Scare period of the 1950s and was consequently sent to prison by HUAC (House UnAmerican Activities Committee). Upon his release he continued to write projects for the big screen using several pseudonyms, and even won two Oscars for his work, all the while continuing his work as an active voice against HUAC and the Communist-paranoid government of America at the time. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Argo) and Oscar winner Helen Mirren (The Queen, Hitchcock) will lead the cast as Trumbo and his wife, Cleo, in a script that will revolve around Trumbo’s blacklisting and its effects on him and his family. The film will be directed by Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents).
Bryan Cranston has spent the last several years portraying the turbulent life of chemistry-teacher-turned-drug-kingpin Walter White on AMC’s Breaking Bad, but with the final season of Breaking Bad wrapping up, Cranston will now be moving on to bigger projects. He is currently taking a role in director Gareth Edwards’ upcoming film Godzilla, which is scheduled for release May 16, 2014. According to new reports, Cranston will also be collaborating with director Jay Roach (Meet the Parents, Austin Powers) on a dramatic film based on the life of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Trumbo was blacklisted and did time in prison following questioning by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) during the Red Scare era. Despite being blacklisted, Trumbo still managed to write several films under false names, even winning numerous awards. There has not been any specifics released regarding the plot or supporting cast but Roach and Cranston rarely fail to deliver something worth watching, so let’s wait and see.