Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nunnally Johnson at the keys

Leonard Mosley recounts the following events in his Darryl Zanuck: the Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Last Tycoon.

In 1951, Darryl Zanuck and the decision makers at Twentieth Century Fox struggled to implement Cinemascope. It was a revolutionary new process, originally intended for primary releases, using wide screen technology instead of the traditional aspect ratios of movie theatre screens. (Television was encroaching.)

It was difficult, envisioning how the existing Fox movie-making mindset would fit into the new technology. No one had an immediate answer. Even Darryl Zanuck was perplexed. When asked how to handle the transition to Cinemascope, he and the other executives had no immediate solution.

But around that time, Nunnally Johnson returned to Zanuck and Twentieth Century Fox. Johnson was a highly respected Hollywood writer (and producer/director). He was one of the cooler heads to prevail. And when asked how he was going to cope with the new demands of Cinemascope, he told an interviewer:

“Easy. What I’m going to do from now on is put the paper in my typewriter sideways.”

Note: Artwork by Andy Warhol.

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