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on December 24, 2016
William Goldman is a screenwriting legend, and for good reason. He has written a number of enduring classics, scripts that hold up even decades later. But the real value of this book lays in his candor. He doesn't mince words. He gives his honest appraisal of his career and Hollywood in general throughout. And from someone who works in an industry that is renowned for being egotistical and self-involved, Goldman's voice is absolutely refreshing. And remarkably, his observations from the film industry of almost 35 years ago are still relevant today. It makes you wonder, does Hollywood ever change? In any event, if you are an aspiring screenwriter or no, Adventures in the Screen Trade will entertain and inspire you. Thanks William Goldman.
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on August 18, 2013
This book is written with a warm, personal and conversational style that makes you forgot you are reading. It offers the priceless opportunity to spend many hours one-on-one with a great writer, whose list of screen and literary credits is long and without match.

His screen credits span almost five deceased, starting with Masquerade (with Michael Relph; 1965), Harper (1966), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969; Academy Award), The Hot Rock (1972), The Stepford Wives (1975), The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), Marathon Man (1976) - based on his novel, All the President's Men (1976; Academy Award), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Magic (1978; Edgar Award) - based on his novel, Heat (1986) - based on his novel, The Princess Bride (1987) - based on his novel, Twins (1988; uncredited), Misery (1990), A Few Good Men (1992; consultant), Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), Year of the Comet (1992), Chaplin (1992), Indecent Proposal (1993; uncredited), Last Action Hero (1993; uncredited), Malice (1993; consultant), Maverick (1994),
Dolores Claiborne (1995; consultant), The Chamber (1996) - based on the novel by John Grisham, Extreme Measures (1996; consultant), The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), Good Will Hunting (1997; consultant), Absolute Power (1997), The General's Daughter (1999), Hearts in Atlantis (2001), Dreamcatcher (2003), Wild Card (2014) - based on his novel.

In this book, Goldman tells us how his life and craft took him on a lifelong adventure in the creative world of novels and films (and much more!). And he tells it like it is (or was) with grande modesty, cutting humor, and cynical yet heartfelt sincerity -- and without reservations.

I would recommend this book not only to those who love novels and movies, but also to anyone interested in biographies of people who accomplished incredible achievements in their chosen trade while overcoming modest beginnings, economic hardships, personal weaknesses, vicious naysayers, and outright impassable barriers on the path to an unlikely yet breathtaking success.

This is a wonderful book about an incredible life in the real world of make belief. Highly recommended!

Avraham Azrieli writes books and screenplays.
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on May 3, 2016
For a long time I've been looking for a book that explains the business of making movies. I wasn't looking too hard, but I came across books that didn't do the subject justice either.

I like Friedkin's book (his autobiography) more than Goldman's book, but they are equally educational. Goldman is prone to clichés in his writing, but at least it isn't pretentious or difficult. (Full disclosure: I am a technical writer.)

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on December 19, 2016
Good book that reflects Goldman's experience as a screenwriter. The book is padded though with material that isn't really needed. Presently the book is out of date and reflects a context that has changed in Hollywood and the films of this age.I did learn that you had to be very politic to be a successful screenwriter. I'm sure this is still a skill that screenwriters must have in spades.
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on February 16, 2017
The book itself is great. I suggest it to anyone interested in cinema!
Unfortunately it came to me with a mark/rip on the cover and it's pretty obvious. A minor thing but I'm pretty particular about keeping my books safe and neat looking so it was a bit saddening for me.
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on July 22, 2013
Well written book with good anecdotal stories of William Goldman's life and times in the screen writing business. Goldman talks in a very friendly style about the fickle, ephemeral and transitive nature of the screenwriting business. While some of the information about various players including specific stars and movies is somewhat dated, the dynamic nature of the business undoubtedly remains the same and he captures it beautifully. It definitely should give one pause about making it a career, but as a hobby with low expectations, I think it's a great sport. I particularly like the fact that the later edition of his book includes the full screenplay of Goldman's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
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on July 9, 2005
This is not a text book, but it should be required reading for anyone who wants a career in the motion picture industry - or anyone who loves film in general. Why is it not a textbook? Because it is one heck of an entertaining read. The book runs almost six-hundred pages and I devoured it in just a couple of days.

William Goldman is one of most respected screenwriters alive; he knows as much about it as anyone. What he gives us is a picture of Hollywood (the business and who does what), the art of writing a screenplay, the process of working on a film, and his own personal anecdotes. One of the chief pleasures of the book is how cheerfully gossipy it is. "PART ONE: HOLLYWOOD REALITIES" is full of stories of the excesses of Hollywood that people out there consider normal. A lot of the time he doesn't supply names, but sometimes he does. (Dustin Hoffman, while a brilliant actor, is notorious for being a bit eccentric.) He also gives us an idea of how the studio works and how pictures get made.

The last third of the book will primarily interest serious film students. Goldman includes his entire script for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and uses it as a teaching tool. Then he presents a short story he wrote and uses that as a teaching tool regarding adapting previously written material.

This book was written in 1982 and reading it is a stroll down memory lane. That was a dark time in motion picture history. Most of the films he references from that period have been forgotten. In other words, it is just like today. We need to read this book again more than ever.
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on October 12, 2015
This was a fun peak behind the scenes of how Hollywood makes movies and treats screenwriters among other people. Although the stories in this book happened several years ago, I believe the same behaviors remain common in the movie business. I bought the book because I have visions of writing a screenplay one day. I must say this book dampened my enthusiasm a bit, as does watching HBO's Project Greenlight - a show I enjoy.
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on August 28, 2013
Having recently begun adapting my novel Untimed into a screenplay, I'm doing my usual slog through the relevant homework. What more can we say about William Goldman than: The Princess Bride (both the novel and the screenplay). If that doesn't make you feel invincible, then take Marathon Man, All the Presidents Men, or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And those are but a few of his produced films. Last year, I read the equally famous Save the Cat, which is a good book, but I marveled that the late author, while a hugely touted screenwriter, hadn't written any good (produced) films. So not true of Goldman.

This work is fascinating, but it's only about a third writing manual. It's really three books: 1) a witty and insightful skewering of Hollywood, 2) personal stories from the trenches about each of Goldman's pre 1982 films, 3) the Butch Cassidy screenplay, discussions of its strengths and weaknesses, and an adaption of a short story into a screenplay.

The skewering is caustic, hilarious, and even thirty years later, dead on. Goldman is famous for his "nobody knows anything" quote and how true it seems. His discussions of studio executives, agents, stars, and the intertwined nightmare of power is insightful bordering on clairvoyant. Most of the trends that he sees in motion in 1982 have continued and accelerated to bring us to the moderately dismal state of contemporary filmmaking (there are exceptions of course). Think both Entourage and the brilliant "The Day the Movies Died" GC article. Also, having worked with/for Universal, Sony, and Fox... well it was just all too funny and familiar.

The personal section terrified me. I hope to see Untimed make the leap to film, as it will make a great one, and it's made vividly clear in Adventures that even a major screenwriter like Goldman is but a candle in the wind before the studio gale. This is made all the more peculiar by the fact that the screenplay is the single most important ingredient that goes into a movie. Film is a highly collaborative and commercial medium, but you really can't make a good movie out of a bad script (unless you rewrite it to be a good script). You can however, make a lousy film out of a great script, or a hit film out of a bad one (Transformers anyone?).

Part three isn't a good introduction to either writing screenplays or writing, but I sure did find it useful. Goldman hammers home many of the oft-repeated (but for a reason) messages of screenwriting, particularly his emphasis on structure. He's a wonderful storyteller and his adaption example is so ridiculous, that it's impressive to watch how he makes such a trite concept almost work.

If any of these topics fascinate you, give Adventures a read. Besides, Goldman's such a good writer, he could make cereal-box copy a bestseller.

Andy Gavin, author of Untimed and The Darkening Dream
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on May 6, 2009
William Goldman, otherwise known as the "Godfather of Screenwriting" has some sagely advice to give, when it comes to the industry.
Although the book is a bit dated (he mentions the development of Rocky 2, and wagers that there will be a third one, eventually...) it still has great stories of his adventures in dealing with the industry. He admits his failures (Stepford Wives) and points out the times that lightning was caught in a bottle (Sundance Kid).
If you're interested in the industry, or pursuing the trade, it's a good primer for what you are to expect. An important aspect to note, however--the style of his screenwriting is not considered conventional, anymore. With each screenplay handled like a shooting script (CUT TO: boy running in flowers) it's not a book one should get to learn about screenwriting structure.
But, as he says himself in the book, you must remember--"Nobody knows anything." So perhaps you can make your OWN rules apply in the industry.
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