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 →
Every year the Toronto International Film Festival serves as one of the major international film festivals that close out the fiscal year, and this year’s festival is sure to feature an excellent celebration of Oscar-worthy filmmaking. Toronto’s film festival is usually filled with entries seen earlier in the year at festivals like Sundance and Cannes, but it also brings its own special line-up to its audience. This year several highly anticipated films will have the honor of being shown during the festivities, most notably the Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass with Johnny Depp, Matt Damon‘s next space adventure following Interstellar titled The Martian, and one I personally am really excited to see, another biopic called Trumbo with Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Godzilla) in the title role of McCarthy-era screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, whose film credits were published under various pseudonyms over the years after he was blacklisted during Senator McCarthy’s famous Communist-trials in the 1950s. Continue reading →
With Oscar-winner Helen Mirren already attached to star as Hedda Hopper, director Jay Roach is filling in the cast for his upcoming Cold War-drama Trumbo. The film tells the story of Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted in Hollywood after being found in contempt to Congress in a hearing with HUAC after refusing to give any information about Communist influence in Hollywood. When the 1960s came around and blacklisting was ended, Trumbo came back to the public eye and it was revealed that he was behind the screenplays for popular films like Spartacus (1960) and Exodus (1960) while he was working under pseudonyms and false names. Roach is now looking to add John Goodman (Argo, O Brother! Where Art Thou) and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Godzilla) to his roster, but deals have yet to be officially sealed with either actors. This should turn out to be a pretty great movie, but we’ll have to wait and see how Roach approaches the story content. We’ll keep an eye out for an official cast list.