In Praise of William Goldman


I was sad to hear of the passing of novelist/screenwriter William Goldman. If you saw Goldman’s name attached to a novel or a film, you knew you were in for a treat.

allI first became aware of the name William Goldman back in the late 1960’s after watching No Way to Treat a Lady at the now long gone Loew’s Tower East on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The film was based on his novel which I read shortly after. About a year later Goldman’s screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid sold for a record-breaking amount ($400,000) at the time. The film’s premiere met with mediocre responses from some critics, Roger Ebert gave it 2.5 stars, but audiences loved the loveable outlaws. The critics came around, and Goldman would win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the film, his first (He won again for All the President’s Men). Goldman rise was in synch with the beginning of the golden age of the New American film. Even if you do not know his name, you know his movies: The Hot Rock, The Stepford Wives, Marathon Man, All the President’s Men, Magic, Misery, The Princess Bride and many more. There were many other screenplays he worked on uncredited.

AdventureGoldman was also a prolific novelist, and his books are worth seeking out: Marathon Man, Tinsel, Control, Magic, The Princess Bride, Boys and Girls Together and Heat. Two non-fiction books he wrote are must reads. In Adventures in the Screen Trade, he wrote famously about film industry insiders and declared, “nobody knows anything.” For theater lovers, his book The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway is an important read.

5 comments on “In Praise of William Goldman

  1. Great tribute, John. He was an amazing writer. I had no idea that he wrote the book and the screenplay to No Way To Treat a Lady. I’m going to try to find the book. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Lady Eve says:

    I read Boys and Girls Together before I knew he was a screenwriter – I didn’t pay much attention to writing credits back then. I became aware of his movies with Butch Cassidy and was surprised, having thought he was strictly a novelist. Ha! You could almost say he “owned” the ’70s, and then The Princess Bride and Misery in the ’80s. What a career the man had, bless him, and what a gift he had for writing for the screen.

    I didn’t know No Way to Treat a Lady was his book/screenplay, nor did I realize he’d written the screenplay for The Stepford Wives (love the original version), since the book was from Ira Levin, I’d just assumed…

    Nice tribute, John.

    Liked by 1 person

    • John Greco says:

      I am a big fan of the original Stepford Wives too, and it’s author, Levin. I only wish he was more prolific. There many other films Goldman was involved in but received no screen credit. A fabulous career.

      Liked by 1 person

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