Saturday, March 22, 2014

Daniel Mainwaring from the great site write, write, write

At the age of 32 he published his first crime novel. And churned them out after that - several of them centered around a former reporter turned PI (write what you know and all that, I guess!). He said "In 1935 I got my first job in the industry as a publicity man at Warner Brothers. Working in publicity you got to see and learn more about picture making than the writers did. . . . I didn't escape from the publicity racket until 1943."

He says he started out writing screenplays for Paramount and was happy to forget all of them except for Big Town. After having focused solely on screenplays he took a break to write another novels - it was Build My Gallows High - the blueprint for Out of the Past. Bill Dozier, head of RKO read it, bought it and Daniel Mainwaring with it. One thing that apparently clinched the deal was the gimmick scene in the novel where the mute boy uses his fishing rod to cast a hook and pull the bad guy to his death - the producers loved that scene and could just picture it.

Out of the Past, directed by Jacques Tourneur, starred Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, Jane Greer and Rhonda Fleming. Initially, Mainwaring had actually personally taken the script to Humphrey Bogart. According to Mainwaring, Bogie wanted to do it, but Warner Brothers wouldn't let him. Possible that Warner Brothers was still pissed off because in 1945 they had bid for the not-yet-published Build The Gallows High, too - and lost to RKO. So, with Bogie out, RKO then considered Pat O'Brien, then John Garfieldwas connected with the project, later Dick Powell was announced as the film's star. And even Lex Barker was tested for the role ... Well, luckily things happened as they did and finally Mitchum came into the picture. 

In an interview, Daniel Mainwaring was asked about other writers involved in the adaptation of Out of the Past: "I wrote the first draft, and Duff (producer Warren Duff) wasn't sure about it. All I had done were those pictures for Pine and Thomas (for Paramount). When I finished and went on to something else, Duff put Jim (James M.) Cain on it. Jim Cain threw my script away and wrote a completely new one. They paid him $20-30 thousand and it had nothing to do with the novel or anything. He took it out of the country and set the whole thing in the city. Duff didn't like it and called me back. Frank Fenton had worked on it for awhile. I made some changes and did the final. But that's the way things used to work. You'd turn around and spit and some other writer would be on your project."

In his take on Out of the Past, Roger Ebert has a bit more information. He refers to critic Jeff Schwager who read all the various drafts. Schwager agreed that the Cain was bad, but that Mainwaring's first draft wasn't that good either. He says that the great dialogue actually came from Frank Fenton. Well, be that as it may - movie making is collaborating!

Now about Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Mainwaring had met Don Siegel way back when he was still working as a publicist. At that point Siegel had been an aspiring director. Something you see again and again - a writer's career often grows as the network's career grows. Focus on people at your career stage - work with them and grow with them. It certainly worked for Daniel Mainwaring. He worked with Siegel on The Big Steal in 1949 (it was basically RKO trying to capitalize on the success of Out of the Past - same stars, same writer). Mainwaring and Siegel collaborated four more times and their biggest success was of course Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

for the whole piece go here:

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