There are eight million stories in the Naked City. We have 59 of them.

Stark location shooting on the streets of New York City. Ripped from the headlines scenarios written so well that the show attracts a staggering list of prestigious actors as guest stars. Emmy nominations in nearly every category for setting a standard of excellence in police procedurals. Can you name that show?

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Before you guess LAW & ORDER and get “The Clang” stuck in your head, let’s jump back several decades to find the real answer. From 1958 to 1963, ABC aired a groundbreaking crime drama that would serve as a template for every police show to follow, LAW & ORDER included. Shot on location in New York City, NAKED CITY brought gritty realism and moral ambiguity to television. The show was also known for its outstanding writing, due in no small part to Howard Rodman, veteran television writer and future Laurel Award winner, who was brought in as story editor when the series evolved into an hour-long show.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Rodman family, our archive now contains a beautifully bound 10 volume collection of 59 scripts from NAKED CITY’s run.  In addition to serving as story editor, Rodman had a hand in writing 26 episodes, including the highly regarded “Sweet Prince of Delancey Street” included in this collection.  The Howard Rodman collection is on display and available to view in our library, so stop by for a look at the police procedural that started it all.

FAN FOODS: CHOCOLAT Closing Scenes and Historical Hot Chocolate

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It only makes sense that we should end our series on CHOCOLAT in line with the close of the film. And the very last page of the script, the very last bit of chocolate to make it onto the screen is hot chocolate. It signifies the balancing of Vianne’s life, the end of her wandering and the solidification of her and Roux’s relationship.

Hot chocolate also features in Armade’s introduction to the chocolaterie. And even beyond the characters, harkens back to the early Mayan and Aztec cultures – Vianne’s roots – in which chocolate, in its unrefined state, played key roles in ritual sacrifice, mythology, the lives of the royalty, and everyday currency.

It also was most often, in its earliest form, a drink.

Armande Hot Chocolate

“When we modern Westerners think of chocolate, we think of it in its solid, sweetened form, and this is reflected in the undue emphasis which much food writing gives to solid chocolate. Yet during nine tenths of its long history, chocolate was drunk, not eaten,” explains one of the books used in the research and writing process of the screenplay, the charming True History of Chocolate by Michael D. Coe and Sophie D. Coe.

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The decision to infuse Vianne’s background with Central American roots put new emphasis on her character’s journey and her role as a healer. In the writing, Jacobs gave himself “permission to say, ‘well what if the traveling angel needed to change herself? And that she’s not only healing this village but that the village is healing her.’”

This beautiful theme of redemption delivers to us “a lift” just as Vianne promises Armande in her hot chocolate.

Roux Hot Chocolate

We’ve had such a fantastic time diving into the CHOCOLAT materials, which are available here in our very own WGF Archives. We owe a huge thank you to Robert Nelson Jacobs for donating said materials and obliging us in our love of all things chocolate and social media. We also owe huge photographic credit to Garlic, My Soul, their photos being light years ahead of our shaky hands with damaged iPhones.

Stay tuned because we already have another Fan Foods series in the works that we’re completely nerding out about.

And be sure to check out the first and second posts in the CHOCOLAT series.

RECIPE:

Ingredients
2 3oz bars dark chocolate (70% or above)
2 cups 2% milk
1 tablespoon agave
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon cinnamon
A few drops of vanilla

Directions
1. Roughly chop the chocolate into small squares.
2. Using the double boiling method (mine included a large bowl over a skillet of softly boiling water), melt the chocolate and stir until smooth.
3. Slowly stir in milk until you have your desired texture.
4. Stir in spices and lastly add vanilla.
5. Best consumed at a chocolaterie café counter or with your food blogger friends in the 90 degree LA heat. Still good.

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How To Write For The Talking Pictures

Are you a writer? Do you have access to a time machine? If so, then boy oh boy have we got the resource for you.

Recently we received a truly great donation from retired DGA director Doug Cornish: A pamphlet (published in 1931 or thereabouts) titled HOW TO WRITE FOR THE TALKING PICTURES, written by Charles Klein (not the writer Charles Klein, who – as it turns out – died on the RMS Lusitania when it was torpedoed by Germans in World War I, but the director Charles Klein). Klein was a director for the Fox Film Corporation – what we know today as 20th Century Fox.

The pamphlet is a how-to for anyone who wanted to get into the the then-burgeoning art of screenwriting, and how the demands of the writer had changed with the advent of sound. Here’s the cover:

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Klein talks about the industry in terms of the then-relatively-new technological advancement, and notes the struggle for producers to find good material. And some things never change! Writes Klein: “Naturally, a picture cannot be better than the story upon which it is based.”

possibilities

Regarding suspense, Klein disparages visceral thrills in favor of emotional ones. He characterizes “old” suspense in terms of the hero rescuing “the girl from the hands of the villain bent on ravaging her.” Which was maybe a powerful blow against sexism? In 1931? Maybe? We’ll take what we can get.

supense

How many of you have taken screenwriting classes where the teacher tells you to think of your characters in terms of the actors who might play them? Klein does the same thing. I don’t know what a “sex yarn” is, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to Google it here at the office.

definite.types

Finally, he offers a piece of advice that’s still incredibly valuable today!

confident

This pamphlet is available to view in our archive. Want to see it? Drop our archivist a line.

Bonus! Here’s a review from the Long Island Daily Press of one of Klein’s films, BLINDFOLD, which opened on January 21, 1939. The plot is a little… circuitous. Thanks to Fulton History for saving the image!

Long Island Daily Press BLINDFOLD review 1929

Fan Foods: The Continued Celebration of Chocolat – This Time With Cake

My feelings about chocolate cake are deep and visceral. Throughout my early childhood, my namesake great-grandmother made a ritual of baking the most shockingly decadent chocolate cake for our visits to the remains of her southern farm. To be sure she was always present to watch our complete enjoyment of her culinary endeavors, she would squirrel the cake away in the largest circular green tin I had ever seen (and have ever seen since).

She was known to hide the tin on top of book shelves and under beds so she alone was the dispenser of such delights. Although never, as one might think, was she ever stodgy about its dispersal – I can’t guess the number of times my mother found me and my sister at Grandma Eva’s worn-out kitchen table eating chocolate 1-2-3-4 cake first thing in the morning. Chocolate cake will forever signal to me the rebelliousness in celebrating mundane and ordinary mornings.

It’s through this lens of quirky, resolute matriarchy that I understand Armande Voizin, Judi Dench’s character in CHOCOLAT. Watching for the first time, I felt like I already knew her character. Her temperament. Her deeply rooted sense of identity and interwoven culinary life. In an incredibly heartrending sense of the phrase, she is what she eats.

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Her story arc is simultaneously lovely and tragic. “Bittersweet” in screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs’ words. Harkening back to the power of comestibles, Armande’s story arc culminates in what Jacobs’ handwritten notes describe as a “last supper” – despite her diabetes, Armande convinces Vianne to throw her an elaborate birthday party to include the most sensual and extravagant of her ancient chocolate recipes.

Chocolat Party 002

Inspecting his notes from an initial meeting with Director Lasse Hallström, Jacobs reminisced about the process of writing that vital scene. He pointed out wisely that often celebratory scenes in film leave a rift between character and audience.

“Don’t assume the audience is going to be as happy as the characters are. The audience might be bored watching them have a good time,” Jacobs advises through Hallström’s sentiments from those early meetings. “Find what’s actually not happy about the scene, find the grain of sand in there that’s going to wrinkle and somehow build the scene around that. And I just thought that was a gem of advice that he gave me.”

Not only is that grain of sand related to Armande’s health issues but it also harkens back to the profound, underlying turmoil of the town. Next week, in our last Chocolat installment we’ll look at that deep seeded unrest as well as the powerful theme of healing (doled out by Vianne or otherwise). But for now let’s settle into Armande’s Last Supper and the rebelliousness in a proper chocolate cake.

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This recipe is neither my grandmother’s nor Vianne’s – but a hybrid twist on both. It has the delicate yet hearty almond flour of many French recipes, the butter content of a true southern confection and the newer scientific amalgam of gluten free flours. It has the texture of the best pound cakes and the depth of the warmest ganaches. And, best of all, supplied me with a wonderful few days breakfasts in honor of Armande and my own grandmother.

(Photos thanks again to our talented and lovely friends at Garlic My Soul).

And check out our first and third installments in the CHOCOLAT series here.

RECIPE:

Ingredients
¾ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 3oz bar dark chocolate (70% or above)
½ cup brown rice flour
¼ cup sweet white rice flour
¼ cup almond flour/meal
A few drops vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease two circular cake pans to set aside.
2. Mix the butter, softened slightly, until smooth.
3. Add in sugar and mix until creamy.
4. Crack in eggs, mix again until well incorporated.
5. Drop in baking powder.
6. Chop the first two chocolate bars into small pieces and in a separate bowl, double boil. Stir until smooth.
7. Add chocolate to batter.
8. While slowly mixing, add in the flours.
9. Then vanilla extract.
10. And lastly the heavy cream. Mix lightly until smooth.
11. Pour evenly into cake pans.
12. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, rotating halfway through. It will be done when the center is spongy and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
13. Remove from oven and let cool before removing from the pans.
14. Double boil the rest of the chocolate, stirring in a touch more heavy cream.
15. When cake is fully cooled remove from pans and use melted chocolate in between layers.
16. Enjoy at the rebellious gypsy boat party of your choosing.

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FAN FOODS: A Celebration of Chocolat, Part 1

I have been a fortunate foodie and writer this year. I, one day, mentioned my love of the film CHOCOLAT and my vision for recreating recipes from specific scenes. At which point someone here in the office said, “you should talk to Bob about that.”

Bob turned out to be Robert Nelson Jacobs, the screenwriter behind the film and now the Foundation’s board president, who in the subsequent months graciously allowed us to knock on his door numerous times for materials, interviews and camaraderie over an Oscar nominated celebration of life and culinary indulgence.

The movie was instrumental in the shaping of my passions early in their development. I have since spent an equal amount of time in the writing and culinary worlds – two trades so different in their execution and daily routines, yet so spiritually and creatively similar it only follows that a script marrying the two would hold so much charm.

Jacobs’ masterfully crafted work invokes the full history of a food that, even from its earliest known use, was thought to have medicinal, magical and even divine properties. It was used as currency, fashionable drink and in ritual ceremonies including those of human sacrifice.

Vianne, the heroine of CHOCOLAT, introduces us to the titular confection – which, with its fascinating past and continued strong influence on our culture, acts as the catalyst for change and overall healing in the story.

Jacobs’ creative materials, which can now be seen by request in the Foundation archives, document his writing process, starting with extensive research and outlining. You can watch, through notes in Jacobs’ handwriting, as the script unfolds and the history of chocolate is integrated into the story and the characters’ lives (and found literally on the page, as in this note with a chocolate stain in the lower right-hand corner).

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Hallstrom

Take the Comte de Reynaud. Far from the stereotyped “bad guy”, the Comte is a humanized and flawed antagonist who, in Jacobs’ words, “inherited a burden, this obligation, this noblesse oblige, that he’s got to be responsible for this village and he’s kind of tyrannical about it. And has certain standards he feels must be upheld at all costs.”

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Lent is one of the most prominent of these standards. Though the Comte’s resolve is undeniably strong, his body begins to physically weaken in response to the near starvation diet to which he subjects himself. In stark contrast to his abstinence is Vianne, her chocolaterie and in one specific comedic moment her attempt to sway him with truffles called the Nipples of Venus.

Nipples

And so in the Comte’s honor, I’ve chosen the Nipples of Venus as the first in the series of CHOCOLAT-themed recipes I’ve recreated. The history of this particular truffle dates far back into French history and often includes a delicate chestnut filling. For my version I chose an early and simple recipe (chocolate only, though varying types and consistencies).

Although I’ve worked in a professional bakery, this was my first attempt at chocolate in truffle form. What I discovered is that working with chocolate in this way is therapeutic for its neediness. It asks for concentration and allows little time to check your Facebook page – which can be a life-giving gift. I thoroughly enjoyed a day tempering, shaping and eating this aptly named chocolate incarnation. And found a bit of respite myself in the indulgence of chocolate.

(A huge thank you goes out to Garlic, My Soul for the fantastic food photography).

Be sure to check out the second and third installments in the CHOCOLAT series on the blog.

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Recipe:

Ingredients
6 3.5 ounce dark chocolate bars (70% or above)
1 3.5 ounce white chocolate bar
1 cup whole milk

Directions
1. Break your first 3 dark chocolate bars into small, manageable pieces.
2. Heat over a double boiler until it reaches approximately 115 degrees Fahrenheit or begins to melt, visibly.
3. Stir in ¾ cup milk, slowly. Mix until smooth.
4. Turn off burner and let cool until completely room temperature (up to 2 hours).
5. When cooled, using an electric mixer, beat chocolate until it forms stiff peaks.
6. Fill a pastry bag or a plastic bag with a 1 inch hole cut in the corner with your stiff-peaked chocolate confection.
7. On a tray lined with parchment paper, create chocolate kiss-shaped swirls.
8. Place in refrigerator.
9. In the same fashion as before, double boil and heat the second set of 3 dark chocolate bars.
10. Stir in remaining ¼ cup milk and mix until smooth.
11. Remove from burner and go get your kisses from the fridge.
12. With a spoon, set of tongs or just your fingers (whatever system works best for you) dip the kisses into the chocolate until full coated and replace on parchment paper.
13. Let stand until hardened. If you live in a hot climate, like, say Los Angeles, you may want to put them in the fridge again.
14. Double boiling for the last time, melt your white chocolate and stir until smooth.
15. Remove from burner and (again, in whatever method you find best) dip the very tip of the truffles into the white chocolate…to create the likeness of its namesake.

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I Love Lucy: A Brief History with Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Pugh Davis

For over 50 years, Bob Carroll Jr. and Madelyn Pugh Davis were a writing team, collaborating on roughly 400 television episodes and 500 radio episodes. Though they wrote for such stars as Steve Allen, Paul Lynde, Eve Arden, and Kaye Ballard, the two are best known for their work on the groundbreaking sitcom I LOVE LUCY. Carroll and Davis developed what would become the LUCY pilot after writing for Lucille Ball on her radio show, MY FAVORITE HUSBAND. Together they wrote over 120 LUCY episodes. They’re responsible for many of the show’s iconic episodes, from “Job Switching, in which Lucy and Ethel have a disastrous day of work at a candy factory, to “Lucy Goes to the Hospital,” in which Little Ricky is born. The pair were not only writers on the show, they’re credited with the development of Lucy as a character, and the two went on to write for Ball on THE LUCY SHOW, HERE’S LUCY, THE LUCY-DESI COMEDY HOUR, and LIFE WITH LUCY.

Here are Carroll and Davis discussing their long career together as part of THE WRITER SPEAKS, our oral history series documenting the life stories of film and television writers in the 20th century.

Bonus: Below are three pages from a draft of the Season 4 episode “Hollywood at Last,” one of many episodes written by Carroll and Pugh set during the characters’ trip to California. In this scene, Lucy, Ethel and Fred go to The Brown Derby, ostensibly to eat lunch but really to spot celebrities. This famous episode culminates in an encounter between Lucy, William Holden and a melting putty nose.

 

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Revisiting the Blacklist:
“An unparalleled campaign of cumulative calumny…”

Such was the dilemma faced by Hollywood, and “particularly the screen writers,” as described by Garrett Graham in his article “Witch-Hunting in Hollywood” published in the June 1947 issue of The Screen Writer.  This historical Screen Writers’ Guild publication is ripe with fascinating pieces dealing with censorship, blacklisting, and the general political and creative atmosphere of the film industry as a whole, as seen from the perspective of the writer.

Screen Writer Jun. 47While blacklisted writers such as Trumbo and Maltz were finding creative outlets in American Marxist publications such as Masses & Mainstream, some of their compatriots remained steadfast in their attempts to speak their minds and show their support through editorials and creative pieces in the Guild’s official publication.  I.A.L. Diamond had two poems published in The Screen Writer in 1947.  Both were infused with pointed jabs and condemnation of the “cinelords.”

The first, evocatively titled “Hollywood Jabberwocky,” contains plenty of clever wordplay that takes aim at the industry.

Hollywood Jabberwocky

“Hollywood Jabberwocky” (The Screen Writer Vol. 3, No. 1, June 1947)
[click the image for a closer read]

Screen Writer Dec. 47The December 1947 issue was host to Diamond’s poem “The Saga of Doubting Thomas,” which ties together the biblical figure of the skeptical Thomas the Apostle and J. Parnell Thomas, the chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC).  Thomas was responsible for the summoning the Hollywood Ten in October 1947.  Their subsequent conviction of being in contempt of Congress on November 24th was followed by a meeting between a group of industry executives at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York which resulted in the “Waldorf Statement.”  This industry-wide declaration delivered by MPAA president Eric Johnston stated that the convicted would no longer be employed until they had sworn under oath that they were no longer Communists.

The Saga of Doubting Thomas

“The Saga of Doutbing Thomas” (The Screen Writer Vol. 3, No. 7, December 1947)
[click on the image for a closer read]

Philip Dunne letter

Phillip Dunne to the SWG Executive Board
From the Screen Writers’ Guild Records
1933-1954

A letter from Philip Dunne to the Executive Board of the Screen Writers’ Guild on that very day pledged his support for committee work against censorship and blacklisting.  Dunne was a co-founder of the Committee for the First Amendment – a group which protested the HUAC hearings that also included the likes of John Huston, William Wyler, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Gene Kelly among many others.  His letter urged the formation of an industry-wide organization to oppose the Thomas Committee and the Motion Picture Alliance.  Dunne’s concern that addressing blacklisting would require “a great deal more work” proved to be quite true, as it was not until 1960 that the blacklist was “broken” with Dalton Trumbo’s screen credits for SPARTACUS and EXODUS.  Nevertheless, these historical documents demonstrate that Guild members were active agents early on in the struggle.


FYI: the Foundation has the entire run of The Screen Writer from June 1945 to October 1948 (a selection of issues have been digitized by the Media History Digital Library as well).  We’re also currently processing the Guild’s records from the 1930s through the 1950s. Click here for descriptions of the collections and contact the Archive with any inquiries!

Revisiting the Blacklist:
Relics from the “Hollywood Ten”

As a month host to several Hollywood Blacklist watersheds, November 1947 is remembered by screenwriters and film historians past and present as a period of political turmoil and creative confinement. To revisit the era, the WGF Library and Archive have a number of interesting artifacts that we’ll be highlighting on the blog over the next couple of weeks.

First off… to commemorate the upcoming November 24th anniversary of the Hollywood Ten’s day in contempt of Congress, we’d like to share a few relevant gems that represent the group from our collections.

Lester Cole's "Best Plays" Cole Bookplate

From the bookshelf of Lester Cole – a founding member of the Screen Writers’ Guild who wrote over forty screenplays between 1932 and 1947 – the Foundation recently acquired the blacklisted writer’s personal collection of the Burns Mantle Best Plays series.  Each of the 25 bound volumes bear Cole’s bookplate. Thanks to a generous donation from Lia Meiselman-Beachy, this special collection now resides alongside the works of Cole’s fellow writers.


Political Prisoners (July 1950)

From the Albert Maltz collection

The July 1950 edition of the American Marxist publication Masses & Mainstream features works by another pair from the Hollywood Ten.  Albert Maltz’s short story, “Circus Come to Town” and a series of poems entitled Poems on Parting by Dalton Trumbo can be found in the issue.

Excerpt from Dalton Trumbo’s
For a Convict’s Wife

The judges will never understand
That to imprison thought
Is to imprison air
Which is always free
Which ranges the world
Producing its most extreme turbulence
Whenever it is compressed beyond its requirements.

 

Broken Arrow

Both writers were the true scribes for award-winning screenplays whose accolades were attributed to others during the Blacklist era. Maltz’s script for BROKEN ARROW (1950) won the WGA Award for Best Written American Western in 1951, with credit given to his “front,” Michael Blankfort.

The Guild officially credited Maltz as the sole writer of the film in 1991.

Broken Arrow opening

Roman HolidayThe screen credit and Academy Award for Motion Picture Story for ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953) were originally credited to Ian McLellan Hunter, Trumbo’s “front.”  In 1992, the Academy amended their record and posthumously granted Trumbo his Oscar.  Trumbo’s story credit was also restored by the WGA in 1991 and his screenplay credit was restored in 2011.

Roman Holiday excerptEach of these screenplays (along with several others from the Hollywood Ten) are available for use in the Library’s collection.  Explore the catalog!

Austin Was A Blast

You might be wondering why our posting schedule has been a bit off lately. Apparently this is what happens when your entire staff visits the biggest writer-focused film festival in the country and gets – maybe – three hours of sleep per night the whole time you’re there.

Yeah, we can’t recommend the Austin Film Festival highly enough.

No promises yet, but we’re hoping to return next year with another great selection of items from our library and archive.

What we’re doing in Austin

As I write this, we’re in final preparations to head to the Austin Film Fest and present our SCRIBBLE TO SCREEN panel and exhibit. If you’ve explored our website before, you know a little about S2S; it’s a collection of early notes and handwritten drafts to classics like A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN and MY SO-CALLED LIFE. You can check it out online here.

But this is the first time we’ve ever made a live event out of it, and we’re so thrilled about it that we haven’t slept in days, and occasionally just stare at ourselves in the mirror and laugh until the memory centers of our brains stop working and we wake up hours later on the bathroom floor with the dog on our chest begging to be fed. OK, maybe we’ve been working a little too hard.

Either way, S2S is going to be, as the kids say, off the chain. We’re going to have hella screenwriters there (“OK, Kevin,” you’re saying. “We get it.”) and they’re all coming armed with their old drafts and notes. Like these note cards from MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA that Robin Swicord is bringing with her:

MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA note cards

 

When writing the script, Robin was careful to account for varying possibilities later in the screenwriting process, as well as anticipate studio notes. So she jotted down multiple iterations of the opening scene to use in the actual first draft.

We’re also hosting David Shore, who’ll talk about HOUSE M.D. David was kind enough to share his master list of possible titles for the show.

HOUSE - possible titlesI’m a fan of “House Rules,” which has a more sitcom-on-TBS feel to it, and “Med Squad,” which sounds like an awesome 70s-style action series with Erik Estrada as a street-smart paramedic who solves mysteries. (David, these are hints.)

These documents and more will be on view at the S2S exhibit at the Austin Film Fest. And if we’re lucky, we’ll have time to make more of them available in this space as well. Keep watching.