The Bedford Falls Sentinel

Friday, February 17, 2012

1956 article about It's a Wonderful Life screen writers Hackett and Goodrich and thoughts on IaWL script

   This is another article that pertains to not so much the film, as two important people involved in the creation of It's a Wonderful Life. The article is from a newspaper article in 1956. September 18th, via the Ottawa Citizen by Bob Thomas. Titled "Husband and Wife team making a go of it" So much of a movie is determined by how well a script it's given and the quality of those writing for the film. The experience of It's a Wonderful Life is no exception as so many of my favorite parts in the movie come from not just what I'm seeing but the words that I'm hearing
   Our beloved film contains all elements of excellence. It excels at offering so many tones of emotion never compromising the other with Capra's weaving 

Serious dialog - 
"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

"Bread... that this house may never know hunger.Salt... that life may always have flavor.And wine... that joy and prosperity may reign forever."

"no man is a failure who has friends. "

Hilarious dialog -
"I been savin' this money for a divorce, if ever I got a husband."

"You like every boy." - "What's wrong with that?"

"A man doesn't get in a situation like this every day." ... "Well, they're all the way downtown. They'd be on my side too"

Sentimental dialog - (Capra is the master!)
"Pop, you want a shock? I think you're a great guy.

"Me? Naw, that was a little girl named Mary Hatch, that wasn't you."

"A toast to my big brother George: The richest man in town" 
(*Note, for the record this is my all time favorite line, and my favorite part in the movie and in film* NEVER fails to get me every time :)

  Have to make myself stopI could go on quoting forever! Basically the entire script is full of them! Every other line contains something memorable. That tapestry of funny, sad, dramatic, inspirational, hilarious, mixture rarely can be contained into one film. 

   A credits list from the film reveal 3 individuals; Frank Capra and significantly Albert Hackett and his long time partner and wife Frances Goodrich. There is some controversy over how much Capra actually wrote. The two were quite the pair in Hollywood for many years. Some of of their more famous work includes screen play writing for the original The Thin Man, Father of the bride with the great Spencer Tracy and Liz Taylor, and about the only musical I like: 7 Brides for 7 Brothers :) For those that have an interest in just the vintage time periods of the 40's and 50's ... they also wrote a short film that's on YouTube titled An American Girl. More than the plot, I enjoy this one a lot just to watch the clothes, life styles, lingo and atmosphere of that bygone era. For even further interest into the two, there is a book about them. Interested tag line about the book states:

"Controlled chaos best describes their writing method. They discussed a scene at length, sometimes acting it out. Afterwards, they each wrote a draft, which they exchanged. “Then,” Frances said, “began ‘free criticism’—which sometimes erupted into screaming matches.” Noisy and contentious, the method worked splendidly."

     But enough of my puny words and typing. Here is the article, which is basically a story on how these two do what they do ... and do it while married to each other. 

Full Text: below

"Can you imagine spending 24 hours a day with your mate, week in and week out? Probably not. It seems impossible for any two human beings to get alone together without being apart some of the time. Yet Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich do it. They not only get along, but have won a Pulitzer Price for playwriting and have a fabulous string of screen play successes. The Hackett’s are the authors of “Diary of Anne Frank” which won the Pulitzer for 1956 and is still playing to packed house in New York. Their film credits stretch from here to Catalina, including such nifties as “Naughty Marietta” The Thin Man series, “Ah, Wilderness” “Easter Parade” “It’s a Wonderful Life” “Father of the Bride.” Ect. They just returned from France where they did research for their next script, the film version of Francoise Sagan’s book “A Certain Smile”. I wondered how two married people could get along so well so long and still produce wonderful scripts. So I dropped by their house to find out.
                “I don’t suppose we would be able to do it unless we worked together, “Mrs. Hackett remarked. “We love our work and are stimulated by it. Besides, I have a great respect for the talents of Mr. Hackett”. Her husband picked up the cue. “And I have a great respect for the talents of Mrs. Hack--- I mean Miss Goodrich,” he said, giving her professional name. Although they work separately on a scene and then “fight it out to see which of us is right”, they managed to come to an agreement. This collaboration has been going on since the early ‘30s. Both acted on the NY Stage with some success. They decided to try writing plays together but didn’t click until the third try. “Up pops the Devil” in 1931. “We got married after it proved at hit.” Said Hackett. “After all we had to see if the collaboration was going to take.” It did. From then on they were the thoroughbreds of MGM writing stable, leaving “about every 10 years” to do a play. One occasion for an absence was when they had nervous breakdowns. (They do everything together.) “we had just written our third Then Man,” Hackett recalled , “and they were getting worse and worse. Our producer, Hunt Stromberg outlined a program that included more than Thin Man scripts, plus some MacDonal-Eddys. We told him we couldn’t take it any longer. We were going back to New York. "

   Funny question to open up with. Says something about the writers spouse I think. Also odd they were able to have nervous breakdowns together. Other elements of the paper that were interested. 

Cold War Radar installation lines for incoming Russian ICBM's

Billy Graham article in which he answers a question. Writes about how "our churches are so desperately in need of willing workers" If he thought that then in 1958 then where are we now?!



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