Hollywood Ate My Screenplay

My grandfather and grandmother in 1950 at Sloppy Joes in Havana.

Wrote a screenplay. Liked it. Hollywood yawned. Rather than cry in my beer, I am hereby self publishing, because I can. A link to the screenplay is below. Here’s the back story:

My grandfather, MacKinlay Kantor, wrote 50 books in his lifetime. For one of them, Andersonville, he won the 1955 Pulitzer Prize for literature. But that wasn’t the novel of his I liked best. My favorite was an earlier novel, his first big success, published inn 1934. Long Remember was a fictional account of civilians caught in the  battle of Gettysburg. Gettysburg, often called the high point of the Confederacy. (the war was all downhill after Maj. General George Pickett’s uphill charge to the town cemetery was repulsed by stalwart Union troops.) The battle was fought over three days, July 1 to July 3, 1863. Next July is it’s 150th anniversary. The action of the novel, which won high praise for its historical realism, actually begins in late spring when the protagonist returns from the Western territories to attend to affairs after his grandfather’s death. He falls in lust with his neighbor’s wife — a big city girl marooned in a small town while her unhappy husband is away at the war (a captain). The lust is reciprocated, they guiltily consummate the affair, then, like the judgment of a terrible God, the war breaks right on top of them.

The novel, in my view, has a few structural and stylistic problems, eminently fixable. So I set out to do that, by turning it into a screenplay, which by its nature requires rethinking a novel in any case. I was hoping that the country would be caught up in 150th anniversary fever, and that Hollywood would be swept along. No go. The screenplay went out and got a consistent response: Nobody wants to make any more Civil War movies. Especially since Redford shoved The Conspirator down everyone’s throat and the result was a communal gag. Even Cold Mountain, which as a novel sold approximately a gazillion copies and had big stars in it, was disappointing box office. So Long Remember, the Screenplay is going nowhere. But I had a great time writing it: Screenwriting is like a cross between literature and puzzle making. Much more fun than, say, writing a nonfiction book. I also thought, and still think, despite Hollywood’s thunderous indifference, that it would make a great movie. Judge for yourself. Read the screenplay here:

Long Remember

Speak Your Mind