Ted Nannicelli: Fellowship Recipient

Ted Nannicelli: Fellowship Recipient


What I am looking at are the screenplays and short story writings of Ernest Lehman. He worked in Hollywood through the 50s and 60s and into the mid 70s and he had a pretty incredible string of successes. And I guess the two big ones everyone would know would be Hitchcock’s North By Northwest, that was an original screenplay he wrote, and I guess the other one would be The Sound of Music, which he adapted from a musical. Lehman was a short story writer in New York before he moved to Hollywood. That’s how he got started writing and he had some successes as a short story writer. So one thing I wanted to do was to see how, if at all, his process as a short story writer was similar to his process as a screenwriter. The collection is great for screenplays and drafts of screenplays, treatments and outlines for screenplays, and there’s less material for his short stories but I was able to find a couple of different documents which are notes and outlines and ideas about one of his novellas, probably the one he is best known for, The Sweet Smell of Success. I do know that he was a very staunch defender of the screenwriter as an important part of the filmmaking process. And he was really miffed at auteur theory which attributes essentially the entire film to the director. I mean this was another thing that he loved to write letters about. He would read reviews religiously and if people forgot to mention him in a review he’d write them and tell them. And this happened; it started with his first film. He wrote Newsweek and told them that “you left me out, fix it.” I think the real benefit to working with primary source materials is that in a project like mine, as I mentioned which is more theoretically oriented, it helps to ground those theoretical arguments with concrete evidence. When you pick up these old scripts and see handwritten notes by someone like John Ford or Ernest Lehman or any of these people Yeah, it’s really neat.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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