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.
I 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.
Goldman 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.