- Historic Sites
It was a great life being a contract writer for a major studio during the high noon of the American movie industry—but it could also be a nightmare. A survivor recalls the pleasures and ardors of working at 20th Century-Fox forty years ago.
December 1983 | Volume 35, Issue 1
In the meantime, my baby, Low Pressure, was being hammered into a screenplay by George Seaton and had survived a few of the frenetic Zanuck story meetings. At Zanuck’s behest it had undergone four title changes: Lazy Galahad, Strictly Dynamite, The Magnificent Jerk, and finally, The Magnificent Dope. But though it had been taken from me, its name changed, its shape twisted this way and that, I still loved it.
“Yes … ,” said I, rising uncertainly.
“From the Secretary of War.” He handed me a cardboard tube, saluted again, turned on his heel, and marched out. From the container I extracted a parchment-like scroll, hand lettered and emblazoned with the insignia of the War Department. It was a citation for distinguished service in contributing to the morale of the armed forces of the United States. My name was prominently displayed in Old English lettering.
I called LeBaron. “Funny thing just happened, Bill. Some colonel was here and gave me—.”
“Yeah,” he interrupted, “we all got one of those. Betty Grable was voted the favorite movie star by the soldiers in the training camps all over the country, and Song of the Islands their favorite picture.”