Thursday, April 22, 2010

Millard Kaufman; Christopher Rice

Ed here: MIllard Kaufman was a decorated war hero and successful screenwriter. It was Kaufman who took MacKinley Kantor's 300 page script (!) for Gun Crazy and turned it into a usable and classic B movie script. Then in his late eighties he decided to start writing novels...

TUESDAY, APR 21, 2010 13:01 EDT From Salon/McSweeney's
Millard Kaufman: The 90-year-old boy novelist
McSweeney's remembers the boisterous fiction writer, World War II soldier and co-creator of "Mr. Magoo" VIDEO
This story appears courtesy of McSweeney's. (Read more about this new partnership.)

Photos courtesy of Frederick Kaufman
Millard Kaufman published two books with McSweeney’s -- his debut novel, "Bowl of Cherries," when he was 90 years old, and then "Misadventure," his posthumous final novel. Born in 1917 in Baltimore, Millard served in World War II and fought in Guadalcanal, Guam, and Okinawa. He is the cocreator of "Mr. Magoo," and wrote two Oscar-nominated screenplays. He led an extraordinary life, to be sure, and accumulated an impressive list of accomplishments. But the staff at McSweeney’s will remember him more for the stories he told. Endlessly self-deprecating, Millard was always telling stories, never failing to capture our attention with the breadth of his experiences. Below, Jordan Bass, Millard’s editor at McSweeney's, tells a story of his own about coming to know a writer, who, even after ninety-two years, still had much more to offer.

I first heard the name Millard Kaufman in September 2006, when McSweeney's was on the hunt for new books to publish; his agent had passed away, and his novel had made its way to us. Our books editor at the time, Eli Horowitz, sent me a few links as background: an IMDB page featuring Millard reminiscing about Humphrey Bogart ("a wonderful chess player"); an excerpt from "Shade of the Raintree," a history of the film "Raintree County," with a quote from the critic Bosley Crowther calling the screenplay (which Millard had written) "a formless amoeba"; a San Francisco Chronicle article which quoted Millard saying, "I don’t know how Sinatra was with other people, but around me he was very real."

We were dealing, in other words, with a writer who had survived half a century of Hollywood (he wrote a number of other screenplays besides "Raintree County," including the great "Bad Day at Black Rock"; Bosley Crowther liked that one better), a writer who seemed to have known everyone and had the stories to prove it. On top of all that, he had alighted in his late eighties with a finished manuscript for a novel of reckless youth. Eli and I passed the pages back and forth, agreed that it was fantastic, and bought it.

For the rest go here:

----------------------Christopher Rice

Sunday I talked about Christopher Rice's assertion that male crime writers used too many stereotypes and fantasy figures when writing about women. I said I thought the same was true with a lot crime writers writing about men as well. Irrespective of gender.

Well, I gotta give Rice his due. He parlayed his piece into a spot on NPR this afternoon. He did a pretty good job fronting his thesis but I still think it's too narrow. He did say one thing I absolutely agree with, that the great private eye writer of all time is Ross Macdonald and that Hammett and Chandler are now secondary figures.

1 comment:

Frederick Kaufman said...

Thanks for this note about my father. He was very clear throughout his life, however, that Dalton Trumbo wrote Gun Crazy. This was during the Blacklist, and my father was fronting for the film. Millard was, in fact, the first living writer to admit to having been a front.
My best,
Frederick Kaufman