‘Nobody Knows Anything’
♦ Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows remembers legendary screenwriter William Goldman who died last week…
I never met William Goldman. Over the years, I have been lucky enough to meet a few of the people I have admired through journalism but our paths never crossed. However his passing is a huge loss. I started reading comics because of my brother when I was about eight years old in 1980 but my love of film goes back even further. Seeing Star Wars when I was little with my dad, and then going to see films like Sinbad and The Eye Of The Tiger, Warlords of Atlantis, The Spy Who Loved Me and Clash of The Titans with my parents, meant that I have been obsessed with film and cinema for years. Fast forward to when I was at sixth form college and my interest in film continued. I picked up Wlliam Goldman’s Adventures In The Screen Trade and I was hooked. Here, this brilliantly witty and intelligent Hollywood insider was recounting these wonderfully rich tales of Hollywood, offering a unique insight into the world he inhabited. A number of years later, I picked up the follow-up to the first book, Adventures In The Screen Trade: What Lie Did I Tell?. The follow-up was an equally compelling read, showing that Gioldman was a unique and exceptional figure who understood how Hollywood worked better than pretty much any of his other contemporaries.
Of course, despite the erudition of his two books on writing, it was the body of his film scripting work which showed just what a genius he was. It is a word that is much overused but he deserved this accolade. Ironically I think it may have been the film writing books which led me to his film output. Films like All The President’s Men, Misery, Marathon Man, The Princess Bride and Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid to name just four are some of the finest examples of modern cinema. People talk about directors as auteurs but Goldman was a screenwriter who left his fingerprints on every script he wrote. He brought a sense of class and erudition to his film scripts that no-one else could match. The interplay between Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in All The President’s Men lifts it into arguably the greatest film ever made about newspaper journalism while in Misery, an adaptation of Stephen King’s book, Goldman creates a unique onscreen dynamic between Paul Sheldon (James Caan) and Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), which manages to compel and terrify in equal measure. There is a warmth and humanity to the outlaws played by Robert Redford and Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid that makes it perhaps the greatest buddy movie ever committed to celluloid too.
There is no way that this piece could come anywhere close to reflecting just how important and significant he was but I felt it was important to say something about his passing. His shadow is long and people will continue to talk about him long after he is gone. Goodbye to a cinematic master.
William Goldman was 87 years old when he passed away last week