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Overview for William Goldman
William Goldman

William Goldman


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Also Known As: Harry Longbaugh,S Morgenstern Died:
Born: August 12, 1931 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA Profession: Writer ... author screenwriter


body knows anything," which conveyed the idea that nobody could really know how well a particular movie was going to do. After penning the fictional novels The Silent Gondoliers (1983) and The Color of Light (1984), Goldman returned to feature films to adapt his own novel for "The Princess Bride" (1987), a quirky fairy tale that deftly combined romance, adventure, comedy and even a little satire, while containing an assorted cast of characters ⿿ a beautiful princess (Robin Wright), a daring swashbuckler (Cary Elwes), an evil prince (Chris Sarandon), a Spanish sword master (Mandy Patinkin) searching for a man with six fingers, a gentle giant (André the Giant), and a scheming criminal genius who is not as smart as he thinks (Wallace Shawn). An instant classic, "The Princess Bride" was a big hit for Goldman after several years without one and ultimately became one of his most timelessly beloved films.

Goldman continued his penchant for adapting his own material with "Heat" (1987), a rather uneven action thriller about an ex-mercenary turned Las Vegas bodyguard and degenerate gambler (Burt Reynolds) who targets a gang leader (Neill Barry) after his attractive neighbor (Karen Young) is attacked. He next published the non-fiction title Wait Till Next Year (1988), with sportswriter Mike Lupica, which chronicled the bad year New York City had in the world of sports in 1987. Back on the big screen, he adapted Stephen Kingâ¿¿s "Misery" (1990), which starred James Caan as a famous mystery author held hostage by an obsessed fan (Kathy Bates) upset that he killed off her favorite character. Also that year, he published Hype and Glory (1990), his breezy first-hand account of judging both the 1988 Cannes Film Festival and the Miss America Pageant within the space of one year. By this time, Goldman had become the biggest screenwriter in the business, though the quality of his output began to diminish somewhat. He wrote the pages for "Memoirs of an Invisible Man" (1992), a much-despised comedy starring Chevy Chase that clumsily mixed action, comedy and science fiction into one lumpy mess. Goldman later claimed that disagreements with Chase and original director Ivan Reitman â¿¿ it was ultimately helmed by John Carpenter â¿¿ led to the filmâ¿¿s many contrivances.

Goldman next collaborated with William Boyd and Bryan Forbes on "Chaplin" (1992), a sweeping biography of Charlie Chaplin (Robert Downey, Jr.) ⿿ from his impoverished youth in London through his rise to fame during the Golden Age of Hollywood, up until his acceptance of an honorary Academy Award late in life. Despite several instances of creative license being taken with the details of Chaplin⿿s life, the film was nonetheless praised by critics, particularly for Downey, Jr.⿿s uncanny performance. Following the largely overlooked romantic comedy "Year of the Comet" (1992), Goldman was credited with drafts of "Maverick" (1994), a comedic Western based on the ABC series from the 1950s and 1960s, starring Mel Gibson as the titular rogue gambler and James Garner ⿿ the original "Maverick" ⿿ as the U.S. Marshal hot on his trail. He moved on to pen drafts for the adaptation of John Grisham⿿s legal thriller "The Chamber" (1996), a poorly received movie about a white supremacist (Gene Hackman) waiting to die on death row that saw Goldman⿿s early departure from the project ⿿ in hindsight a good thing since the film was ravaged by critics and bombed at the box office. Goldman followed with "The Ghost and the Darkness" (1996), an African-set action yarn about a naïve architect (Val Kilmer) who grudgingly calls in an expert hunter to take out a group of predatory lions attacking workers on a British railroad. Based on real events that occurred in the 19th century, the film only had a lukewarm reception.

After serving as a consultant on "Good Will Hunting" (1997), which boasted Ben Affleck and Matt Damonâ¿¿s Oscar-winning script, Goldman adapted "Absolute Power" (1997), which starred Clint Eastwood as an aging cat burglar who witnesses the President of the United States (Hackman) murder his mistress (Melora Hardin) while in the midst of robbing a remote mansion. He moved on to adapt "The General's Daughter" (1999), a financially successful but critically panned thriller about an Army investigator (John Travolta) tasked with solving a murder mystery despite clues pointing to his hero (James Cromwell). Goldman reunited with Hopkins for "Hearts in Atlantis" (2001), a moving, if slightly disjointed, mystery adapted from a Stephen King novella. Following his second Hollywood memoir, Which Lie Did I Tell? (2001), he became attached to "Dreamcatcher" (2003), another King adaptation â¿¿ this time a notably quirky one involving the paranormal. Despite being a collaborative effort with revered director/screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, "Dreamcatcher" was a disappointment for Goldman, who subsequently steered clear of movie scripts for quite awhile. After an extended period away from screenwriting that included a stage version of "Misery," Goldman penned a new script for "Heat," revisiting his own gambling tale yet again, this time in a 2014 film directed by Simon West and starring Jason Statham and Milo Ventimiglia. with an air-show entrepreneur (Bo Svenson) to barnstorm the Midwest in search of the glory he never had. After writing the original version of "The Stepford Wives" (1975), he earned a second Academy Award for his adaptation of "All the President's Men" (1976), a richly compelling look at the Watergate scandal as seen through the eyes of the two Washington Post reporters who broke the story, Bob Woodward (Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman). A marvel of clarity, especially considering the labyrinthine subject matter, "All the Presidentâ¿¿s Men" was a frustrating experience for Goldman, whose first draft was panned by both Redford and director Alan J. Pakula. Carl Bernsteinâ¿¿s ex-wife Nora Ephron wrote a draft, only to have that one dismissed, presaging a return to Goldmanâ¿¿s services. In the end, Goldman received credit and all the accolades, though he never worked with Redford again.

That same year, Goldman adapted his own novel Marathon Man for the screen, starring Hoffman as an unwitting college student and avid runner who is pulled into a web of intrigue and danger involving his secret-agent brother (Roy Scheider) and an evil Nazi war criminal (Laurence Olivier) determined to reclaim a cache of jewels once taken from concentration camps. The thriller featured a tense scene between Olivier and Hoffman, with the former repeatedly asking, "Is it safe?" while torturing the latter with dental tools. Both the scene and the line were etched into cinematic history, while "Marathon Man" went on to become a critical and financial success. He next worked on an adaptation of Cornelius Ryanâ¿¿s "A Bridge Too Far" (1977), a World War II epic about the Allied defeat in the Battle of Arnhem in 1944 that featured an all-star cast, including Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins and Michael Caine. He next adapted the horror thriller "Magic" (1978) from his own novel of the same name, which starred Hopkins as a failed magician who makes a comeback as a ventriloquist, only to discover that his dummy, Fats, has developed a mind of his own. Making his only foray into television, Goldman wrote the two-part miniseries "Mr. Horn" (CBS, 1979), which chronicled the life and death of Wild West frontiersman, Pinkerton detective and accused assassin Tom Horn (David Carradine).

Stepping away from movies, Goldman concentrated on writing novels, including the non-fiction Tinseltown memoir, Adventures in the Screen Trade (1983), a lighthearted insider's look at the film business in which he detailed his own experiences while imparting advice upon those seeking their own Hollywood fame and fortune. The book became famous both in and out of the entertainment industry for his simple, but prescient quote: "No

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