Line Readings: Richard Attenborough

The partnership between writer and actor is like no other relationship in the arts. Writers craft words on the page, and actors bring those words forth into the real world, embedding them in our memory. Writers give actors the raw material for performance, and actors bring their interpretations and experience to those words in ways their writers may never have expected. From time to time on this blog, we’ll honor those actors, our partners in artistic endeavor, with collections of the words and pages that they helped make famous. In this case, we honor Richard Attenborough, who was a director as well.

Something it’s easy to think: “Wow, it’s a shame so many people didn’t really learn about RIchard Attenborough until he appeared in JURASSIC PARK.”

A better way to put it: “How lucky that JURASSIC PARK introduced Richard Attenborough to an entire new generation of moviegoers.”

Yeah, it’s true. Lots of kids who grew up in the 80s and 90s didn’t learn about Attenborough in his earlier roles, like Steve McQueen’s pal Frenchy in THE SAND PEBBLES or the hanging judge in the 1974 Agatha Christie adaptation AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. Or from his directorial work – movies like SHADOWLAND and CHAPLIN and A CHORUS LINE. And while there’s real value and satisfaction that comes from following an actor throughout his or her entire career, there’s a really unique feeling you get from watching something you haven’t seen before, and feeling that light go off in your head when you realize: Hey! It’s the “we spared no expense” guy! I love him!

He won two Academy Awards for GANDHI – one as director and one as producer. Together with Ben Kingsley, he brought accessibility and humanity to one of the 20th Century’s most inspirational leaders. But both men were almost certainly aided by the novel-like readability of the script written by John Briley, as you’ll find in an intimate – and truly powerful – scene in this undated draft.

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And, oh man, Big X. If you’ve ever seen THE GREAT ESCAPE, you might have wondered why the Nazis ever kept this guy in general population – a guy who beamed leadership across the camp like photons. There’s real power on these early pages in our 1962 draft of the script – screenplay by James Clavell and W.R. Burnett, based on the novel by Paul Brickhill. Here Attenborough’s Bartlet (nicknamed Big X) announces the plans to escape a Nazi POW camp, and wastes no time as he passes out assignments to his fellow officers.

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Finally, don’t worry – we wouldn’t leave you without pages from 1993’s JURASSIC PARK (screenplay by Michael Crichton and David Koepp, based on the novel by Michael Crichton). If you’ve read the book, you know Attenborough’s character, John Hammond, was initially conceived as a pretty evil, money-grubbing guy – kind of a one-note villain. But Crichton and Koepp’s script imbues him with real dimension, and Attenborough’s warm, avuncular performance makes it easy to see why he was cast as Santa Claus (OK, fine, Kris Kringle) in the following year’s MIRACLE ON 34th STREET. Which is a great choice, because really, the guy made dinosaurs. How bad can he be?

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Line Readings: Robin Williams

The partnership between writer and actor is like no other relationship in the arts. Writers craft words on the page, and actors bring those words forth into the real world, embedding them in our memory. Writers give actors the raw material for performance, and actors bring their interpretations and experience to those words in ways their writers may never have expected. From time to time on this blog, we’ll honor those actors, our partners in artistic endeavor, with collections of the words and pages that they helped make famous.

We lost Robin Williams this week, and it was especially painful because of how it happened. Depression – and depression-related suicide – have a pretty broad spectrum of causes, and there’s still quite a bit about it we don’t know. But there’s no shortage of creative people and funny people who suffer from it – tuned in, as they are, to the weird and barely-manageable vagaries of the human condition and hyper-aware of the frustrations and insecurities that we all face. Having your work held up for scrutiny by countless critics – of both the professional and armchair varieties – doesn’t always help, either.

But through his entire career, Robin Williams paired a powerful, inspirational style with the work of some truly talented writers, imbuing his characters with a warmth so characteristic that branding his films must have been a breeze. Let’s take a look at some of the words Robin helped make famous.

(Note – we’re saving our copy of DEAD POETS SOCIETY for a special post, coming next week.)

This scene from MRS. DOUBTFIRE (Screenplay By Randy Mayem Singer and Leslie Dixon, based on the novel ALIAS MADAME DOUBTFIRE by Anne Fine) is different from the final version:

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Here, in GOOD MORNING VIETNAM (Written By Mitch Markowitz, 1987 revised final draft), we see the first appearance of the iconic delivery of the film’s title. An article on director Barry Levinson’s website claims that Williams improvised much of his dialogue – but this early draft matches his comedy style perfectly.

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Finally, we have three drafts of GOOD WILL HUNTING, two of which we’ve posted here (Written by Matt Damon & Ben Affleck, 1994 first draft and a later undated draft, respectively). Note in the early draft, Williams’ character, Sean, actually quotes from Will’s file. In the later draft, there’s no such direct exposition. Both drafts feature the “it’s not your fault” dialogue, which both Williams and Damon deliver perfectly.

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Line Readings: Lauren Bacall

The partnership between writer and actor is like no other relationship in the arts. Writers craft words on the page, and actors bring those words forth into the real world, embedding them in our memory. Writers give actors the raw material for performance, and actors bring their interpretations and experience to those words in ways their writers may never have expected. From time to time on this blog, we’ll honor those actors, our partners in artistic endeavor, with collections of the words and pages that they helped make famous.

There’s no question that Lauren Bacall had a way with words herself, but many of the coolest things we remember her saying come from her films. Those films ranged from the noir classics she shared with Humphrey Bogart (TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, DARK PASSAGE, THE BIG SLEEP and KEY LARGO) to lighter dramas and comedic roles in HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE, WOMAN’S WORLD and DESIGNING WOMAN. Later in life she took roles in pop classics like MISERY and the more experimental DOGVILLE, and even lent her voice to the American cut of Hayao Miyazaki’s HAURU NO UGOKU SHIRO – known in the English-speaking world as HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE.

Here’s a small selection of just a few of the lines Lauren Bacall helped make famous, as embodied in drafts and published scripts from our library and archive.

(And before you mention it: Sadly – and, frankly, surprisingly – we don’t have a copy of TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT in our library. So her most famous line – “Put your lips together and blow” –  isn’t represented here. But read on! There’s good stuff ahead!)

Putting voice to a brilliant description of private detectives in THE BIG SLEEP (Screenplay By William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman, based on the Raymond Chandler novel, published shooting script):

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Giving us the motivation for the movie’s title in HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE (Screenplay By Nunnally Johnson, based on the plays THE GREEKS HAD A WORD FOR IT by Zoe Akins and LOCO by Dale Eunson and Katherine Albert, revised final draft, 1953):

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Telling Humphrey Bogart’s Frank McCloud about her history in our beautiful 1948 KEY LARGO manuscript (Screenplay by Richard Brooks and John Huston, based on the play by Maxwell Anderson, 1948 revised draft from the Richard Brooks collection):

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And did I mention that our copy of KEY LARGO is absolutely beautiful?

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And finally, this introductory scene between Bacall and Paul Newman’s title character in HARPER (Screenplay By William Goldman, based on the novel THE MOVING TARGET by Ross MacDonald – 1965 final draft, though Newman’s character is called “Archer,” in keeping with the P.I.’s name in the novel):

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Rest in peace, Lauren. Those words wouldn’t have been the same without you.