Monday, November 19, 2007

Jimmy Sangster

For some reason I've owned Jimmy Sangster's autobiography Do You Want It Good Or Tuesday? for years but never reviewed it. I picked it up agaain yesterday and read parts of it and was entertained and enlightened as to the ways and wiles of show biz at every level.

Sangster wrote the early Hammer films including the first Dracula and the second X The Unknown. Those two credits alone put him the driver's seat of the white shimmering Shell Scott Caddy Convertible waiting for him in Pulp Heaven.

He went on to write dozens of more screenplays in England then came over here and wrote even more dozens of TV scripts. The book reads as if it was taken directly from journals. There's no way he could have remembered so many details otherwise.

Sangster comes off as an amiable pro, a man as good at survival as he is at writing. Along the way we meet at least fifty famous people he worked with or for. My single favorite moment is when he is working with William Castle (whom he likes) on a project and Castle produces a script for another project. He says he's having trouble with it and would like Sangster to make some notes and have a meeting with the writer. You know, basically tell this guy how it hould be written.

No author name on the script. Sangster takes it home, makes his notes, Castle sets up a meeting for the following day. Just as the man is coming up the walk, Sangster asks who he is and Castle says "Dalton Trumbo."

Trumbo was sort of the Hemingway of film writers. Talent and street cred to the highest power. He went to prison rather than rat out people to the House UnAmerican Committee. Academy Awards. Usually called brilliant. A giant and among giants.

And, as Sangster says, the guy then writing the Dan'l Boone show for NBC is going to give Trumbo writing advice?

"Listen, Dalton, baby, about this second act, kid..."

It's a fun read.


mybillcrider said...

Sangster wrote a novel I read long ago and enjoyed. A p.i. novel, I think.

Gonzalo B said...

Sangster wrote nine novels, most of them espionage thrillers. They were pretty good and you can still find some of them pretty easily.

Anonymous said...

I really like the books in his James Reed series--Hardball, Blackball, Snowball. Good stuff. mtm