The beautiful and the desperate to make a buck: Fitzgerald in Hollywood

The University of South Carolina has just acquired two thousand pages of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s screenplay efforts. Charles McGrath writes in the New York Times about Fitzgerald’s stint in Hollywood:

In the summer of 1937, broke, in debt and trying desperately to dry out, F. Scott Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood, where he joined the legions of jerks with Underwoods, to paraphrase the studio chief Jack Warner’s famous put-down of screenwriters.

Fitzgerald was part of what amounted to a literary exodus. Among the writers already there or soon to join him were Donald Ogden Stewart, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, S. J. Perelman, Nathanael West and the British novelists Anthony Powell and Aldous Huxley, all in search of easy money.

Fitzgerald stayed in Hollywood for two and a half years, longer than most literary writers stuck it out in those days, and he worked harder than many, toiling away on now-forgotten movies like “A Yank at Oxford” and “Madame Curie.” He produced what now appears to have been a mountain of manuscripts — treatments, sketches, drafts, polishes, rewrites — much of it in soft-penciled longhand….

Fitzgerald in the end had even worse luck in Hollywood than writers like William Faulkner and Raymond Chandler, who actually saw a movie or two of theirs be made and in something like the form in which they had written it.


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