Picks and Pans Review: Adventures in the Screen Trade

updated 05/30/1983 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/30/1983 01:00AM

by William Goldman

Goldman has spent 20 years scripting movies in Hollywood, copped two Oscars (for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President's Men), and is one of the highest-paid screenwriters around. This book, a kind of memoir, funny, ornery and irreverent, is, in its own strange way, an affectionate look at his trade. He isn't afraid to name names, or tee off on a list of them. He has an ax to grind with Robert Redford, accusing him of allowing Goldman's screenplay for All the President's Men to be rewritten behind his back. He also sounds off on Dustin Hoffman, whom he considers a pathological perfectionist; he accuses Hoffman of downright cruelty to an ailing Laurence Olivier during rehearsals for Marathon Man, forcing the great actor through endless improvisations and rehearsals. The book's final section is less successful: Goldman takes one of his own unpublished short stories and puts it through the process that could lead to its production as a movie. This part is designed as a kind of mini textbook for would-be screenwriters, but it lacks the bite and the interest of the rest of the book. (Warner Books, $17.50).

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