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Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade

by Goldman, William

  • ISBN: 9780375403491
  • ISBN10: 0375403493

Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade

by Goldman, William

  • List Price: $26.95
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books
  • Publish date: 01/01/2004
  • ISBN: 9780375403491
  • ISBN10: 0375403493
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Description: As Goldman says in his introduction, screenplays are only about structure, and if that's true, then movies are only about story. Thus, this is a book about storytelling on film.

The book is in three parts. The first part is called Adventures and, as in Adventures In The Screen Trade, it details, movie by movie, Bill's experiences -- good, bad, and ugly -- over the past 15 years. The first adventure is called "The Leper, " because there was a five year period -- 1980 to 1985 -- when Bill didn't work in Hollywood, when he couldn't get a job (something that happens to all screenwriters). Then comes a series of gossipy, terrifying, nasty, hilarious, and insightful stories, revolving around the following movies, all of which were written (at least partly) by Mr. Goldman: Memoirs Of An Invisible Man(starring Chew Chase), The Princess Bride (the happiest experience, along with Butch Cassidy, of Bill's career), Misery, The Year Of The Comet (his biggest flop -- and that's the subject of this adventure: how to deal with a full-fledged fiasco), Maverick, The Ghost And The Darkness (great stuff on Michael Douglas), and Absolute Power (when he finally got to work with his idol, Clint Eastwood, and where he had to throw out just about every single thing in the book on which the movie was based). This section deals with everything from how a star can ruin a movie, why Mandy Patinkin slapped Andre the Giant during the first day of rehearsal, how Bill almost ruined the movie Misery by trying to keep the key scene in the book intact, why romantic caper movies don't work anymore (Hint: Largely because Cary Grant is dead), how a movie can work even when the first 20 pages of the screenplay get cut out of the final film, how a great producer can ruin a movie when he decides to star in it as well, to how tall Sylvester Stallone really is.

Part Two is called Heffalumps and is a look at particular classic moments in great screenplays. The key scenes are reprinted here and analyzed by Bill, after having interviewed each screenwriter. The movies (and scenes) discussed are There's Something About Mary (the awesome zipper scene), When Harry Met Sally (the fake orgasm in the diner scene), North By Northwest (the crop-dusting plan scene -- which everybody credits to Hitchcock but was actually written word for word, shot by shot, by the screenwriter!), the Seventh Seal (what else -- the playing chess with Death scene), Chinatown (the "my daughter/my sister" scene ), Fargo (the discovery of the murder in the snow scene). Then Bill analyzes one crucial scene from Butch Cassidy -- the jumping off the cliff scene -- and explains why that's the scene that makes the entire movie work.

Part Three brings together Goldman, Scott Frank (who wrote the screenplays for Get Shorty and Out Of Sight), Tony Gilroy (screenwriter for Armageddon, Dolores Claiborne, and The Devil's Advocate), and the Farrelly brothers (There's Something About Mary and Dumb And Dumber), in which they all analyze, rewrite, doctor, or destroy various original and never-before-seen screenplays by Goldman (most of which will be created for this book).

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