Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Writer of Week #8 - As Time Goes By

I have the script for ARSENIC AND OLD LACE sitting on my desk.

I never grow tired of that movie, or of Cary Grant’s double, then triple, then bazillaliple takes on discovering that his kindly aunts have a body in the window seat.

Which brings me to this week’s writer – writing team, actually. Julius and twin Philip Epstein, screen adaptors of ARSENIC, and forever planted in movie history for one film that had lines like:

“We’ll always have Paris.”

“Round up the usual suspects.”

“I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.”

And the line that they never wrote, that doesn’t appear in the film, but enough people think it does to give it mention:

“Play it again, Sam.”

(I believe the actual line is more akin to: “You played it for her, you can play it for me. Play it!” Did I get that right?)

Those lines came about because the brothers Epstein were on contract at a studio, and were assigned as part of their daily duties the adaptation of an un-produced play: EVERYBODY COMES TO RICK’S.

We of course know the result as CASABLANCA.

The Epsteins wrote quite a few money makers for their studio, but the relationship was more akin to family than business – and by that I mean love/hate yet can’t quite stay away.

Julius often criticized his own work there, including CASABLANCA, calling it full of corn.

And the brothers apparently were irascible practical jokers, often incurring the wrath of the studio heads.

Perhaps the relationship is best summed up by Julius himself. When asked in a House of UnAmerican Activities questionnaire if he belonged to a subversive organization, he responded:

“Yes. Warner Bros.”

So Julius and Philip, here’s looking at you, kids.

Just my thoughts,



Thany said...

Arsenic and Old Lace is one of my all time favorites. While searching for a goot play that we could use in our church as a dinner theatre/outreach tool, I was CONVINCED it wouldn't be too dark for a church production. My husband and I sat and watched it and decided that it just might be too hard to raise Boris Karloff and Cary Grant from the dead to pull it off as well as that movie version.

Nathan said...

The line is actually just "Play it, Sam." ;) Who is the modern day version of the Epsteins?