Tag Archives: wexler

This Week in Film History….

serpico

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

Memorable Movie Moments…

Today’s Memorable Movie Moment takes us back to 1978, for the excellent cinematography in a film called Days of Heaven. Written and directed by 3x Oscar nominee Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life), Days of Heaven is an American epic that follows a young couple, Bill and Abby, during the Expansionist era in 1916. Moving from Chicago to Texas in search of work, the two become involved in a scheme to have Abby marry a wealthy farmer who is close to death in order to gain his fortune. This, of course doesn’t go according to plan and so a dramatic conflict of jealousy and deceit ensues, loosely based on a backstory that first appeared in Alexander DumasThe Three Musketeers.

Starring Richard Gere (An Officer and a Gentlemen, Pretty Woman), Brooke Adams (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Dead Zone), and Sam Shepard (Swordfish, Black Hawk Down), the film received Oscar nominations for Best Costume Design, Best Sound, and Best Music – Original Score. Although it failed to win any of these awards, Days of Heaven did receive the Oscar for Best Cinematography for Nestor Almendros. Continue reading