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What Makes Sammy Run? Paperback – December 6, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

What Makes Sammy Run?

Everyone of us knows someone who runs. He is one of the symp-toms of our times—from the little man who shoves you out of the way on the street to the go-getter who shoves you out of a job in the office to the Fuehrer who shoves you out of the world. And all of us have stopped to wonder, at some time or another, what it is that makes these people tick. What makes them run?

This is the question Schulberg has asked himself, and the answer is the first novel written with the indignation that only a young writer with talent and ideals could concentrate into a manuscript. It is the story of Sammy Glick, the man with a positive genius for being a heel, who runs through New York's East Side, through newspaper ranks and finally through Hollywood, leaving in his wake the wrecked careers of his associates; for this is his tragedy and his chief characteristic—his congenital incapacity for friendship.

An older and more experienced novelist might have tempered his story and, in so doing, destroyed one of its outstanding qualities. Compromise would mar the portrait of Sammy Glick. Schulberg has etched it in pure vitriol, and dissected his victim with a precision that is almost frightening.

When a fragment of this book appeared as a short story in a national magazine, Schulberg was surprised at the number of letters he received from people convinced they knew Sammy Glick's real name. But speculation as to his real identity would be utterly fruitless, for Sammy is a composite picture of a loud and spectacular minority bitterly resented by the many decent and sincere artists who are trying honestly to realize the measureless potentialities of motion pictures. To this group belongs Schulberg himself, who has not only worked as a screen writer since his graduation from Dartmouth College in 1936, but has spent his life, literally, in the heart of the motion-picture colony. In the course of finding out what makes Sammy run (an operation in which the reader is spared none of the grue-some details) Schulberg has poured out everything he has felt about that place. The result is a book which the publishers not only believe to be the most honest ever written about Hollywood, but a penetrating study of one kind of twentieth-century success that is peculiar to no single race of people or walk of life.

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Budd Schulberg was born Seymour Wilson Schulberg in New York City on March 27, 1914. “Budd” was derived from a family nickname. He was the son of Benjamin Percival Schulberg , who was a pioneer film producer who ran Paramount Pictures in the 1930s and had discovered Clara Bow. Thus, Budd Schulberg was familiar with Hollywood movie practices from childhood, long before he became a major screenwriter himself. Budd Schulberg wrote “On the Waterfront”, made into a movie starring Marlon Brando, and he wrote “The Harder They Fall” made into a movie starring Humphrey Bogart. Being the son of a successful Hollywood producer, Budd Schulberg had an insider's viewpoint on the true happenings of Hollywood, and his literature and film reflected this. Although "What Makes Sammy Run?", his scathing look at Hollywood, was twice presented on television in New York-based productions in 1949 and 1959 and appeared on Broadway in a musical version with Steve Lawrence playing Sammy that ran for 540 performances in the 1964-1965 season, Hollywood itself has never made a version of this popular novel. Dreamworks acquired the rights to the novel from Warner Bros. for $2.6 million for a proposed version starring Ben Stiller, but that movie has yet to be made. A movie industry insider, Schulberg published the damning expose of Hollywood "What Makes Sammy Run?" in 1941, creating the greatest of all Hollywood anti-heroes, Sammy Glick. The book made him persona non grata in Hollywood for years. Schulberg had been a Communist Party member in the 1930s, and the Communist Party USA also attacked his book. Disillusioned with communism and what the USSR had devolved into under Stalin, he appeared as a friendly witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1951 and named names. Budd Schulberg died on August 5, 2009 at aged 95 in Quogue, Long Island, New York. He was married only four times and had only five children. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (December 6, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679734228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679734222
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Budd Schulberg (1914-2009) was born in New York City and grew up in Hollywood, where his father was production chief of Paramount Studios and his mother a successful agent. His many novels include the classic "What Makes Sammy Run?" and "The Harder They Fall." He received an Academy Award for his screenplay for "On the Waterfront" in 1954.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
A lot of the buzz on this book seems to be because of the backstage Hollywood setting, but Sammy Glick would have been a predator in any environment he was loosened upon. Schulbergs portrayal of the New York newspaper trade as well as the early tinsletown where Sammy prowls is insightful and witty, but the great force of the book is always What Makes Sammy Run? After reading this you will begin to recognize the Sammy Glicks in the world around you, and the question may haunt you sixty years after it was first asked.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Donna Grayson on October 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
I highly recommend "What Makes Sammy Run" for anyone who is an aspiring actor or filmmaker. This novel is an interesting look at the early entertainment business. Reading about Sammy Glick as he pursues success in show business is a real eye-opener. And things have not changed all that much these days. The movers and the shakers in the biz still behave in a similar manner. This is an interesting book to learn about what really makes the Entertainment Industry tick. Even though this novel takes place in the 1930s, it is still a great learning tool for today. And it is also a great look into history. This book is a great Hollywood classic.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R.P. on January 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is a real experience. Even though it was written decades ago, it is timeless because its characters are timeless. Everybody has known a "Sammy" in his lifetime. A real beautifully written classic.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Readers Reader on March 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
Most "classics" have a bad reputation. They are praised to high heaven in textbooks and literary publications...and force-fed to students in literature classes. But this book is as fresh, hilarious and biting as if it were written this season. It moves at a brisk pace and holds you to the end. What a REAL classic should be.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JD on April 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
She was being interviewed by Dick Cavett and described this as the definitive insider's view of the Hollywood's darker nature: So you know it is an honest take. F.Scott Fitzgerald's recommendation is noted on the front cover: So you know it is well written. Written in the 1940's it created quite the explosion back then. Dorothy Parker also recommends it: So you know it is devilishly clever. Now I know why Martin Short named his Hollywood gossip columnist character Jiminy Glick.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Steve Brooks on October 3, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sammy Glick is a sociopath - he has no conscience or empathy. We deal with sociopaths everyday - one person in 25 is a sociopath - so there is value to understanding sociopaths. Schulberg resists the temptation to make Sammy change, to redeem Sammy. Instead Schulberg gives you the roller coaster of dealing with a sociopath; every time he seems trapped and you think Sammy will change, he wiggles out. It is an important lesson - sociopaths don't change.

Pairing the sociopath, Sammy, with the codependent, Al, is brilliant. You catch yourself rooting for Al to leave Sammy alone, to forget him. He can't he is a codependent. Al does show some capacity for growth. Even though Al is always more dependent on Kit than she is on him, he does maneuver the relationship into a more equal relationship.

Julian is a warning to those who think talent is enough. He fades from the story just like young talent who insist that the world is fair. Self defense is always justified. There is no honor in being a victim.

Schulberg picked Hollywood because he knew it the best. Sammy would be Sammy regardless of the industry he picked. Using Hollywood illustrates that studios have little interest in quality - they are sales driven. Sammy gets promoted based on box office success, not the critical acclaim. The media can be bought and manipulated. Sammy does both.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
And sixty years later, Hollywood functions exactly the same! Awful, suspiciously familiar movies unleashed from the offices of the Mediocre! Set in the 1930's, Schulberg's book helps us imagine the original Shangri-la of Material Dreams -- wonderful, cosmopolitan L.A. and Southern California before the cataclysm.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
THE BEST BOOK OF ALL TIME ! Powerful, Gripping, a tale of the Psychotic Workaholic against the backdrop of Hollywood in the 40's can easily relate to The Street of the 80's and Silicon Valley of the 90's. If you read only one book for the rest of your life....This Is It !
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