Bo Goldman

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Bo Goldman
Goldman bo.jpg
Bo Goldman (left) and Michael Douglas on the set of Miloš Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Born Robert Goldman
(1932-09-10) September 10, 1932 (age 81)
New York City, New York
United States
Occupation Screenwriter
Playwright
Years active 1958–present
Spouse(s) Mab Ashforth (1954–present)

Robert "Bo" Goldman (born September 10, 1932) is an American writer, Broadway playwright and screenwriter. To date, he has received two Academy Awards out of three nominations.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in New York City, Goldman's father, Julian, owned a chain of well known eastern department stores called The Goldman Stores. An early pioneer of "time payments" his business thrived. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a close friend and also his attorney. Goldman Store ads typically featured men in business suits and fashionably dressed women in furs. While this was an old strategy for appealing to those with dreams of upper-class status, the ad copy explicitly addressed middle-income customers. "He Makes only $3,000 a year," blazoned one Goldman ad, "But is worth $112,290!" Julian loved the theatre, and was an "angel" or backer, to many Broadway Shows and reviews. His young son, Robert "Bo," accompanied Julian to an average of two shows a week. This had an impact on what the boy would choose to do later in life, convinced from an early age that he was meant to work in the theatre. In 1939 Julian was looking for a school where he could send his son. Eleanor Roosevelt admired the work of Helen Parkhurst and was in the midst of expanding the population and resources of the Dalton School by promoting a merger between the Todhunter School for girls (founded by Winifred Todhunter). Julian Goldman became an early backer, and it was this school where Bo would begin his education. He followed this by skipping his last year at Dalton in favor of fast tracking through Exeter, NH, an experience that informed a script he would write years later, Scent of a Woman.[1]

Goldman is not related to William Goldman, another two time Oscar winning screenwriter who won the Academy Award for All The President's Men the year after Bo won for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

He attended Princeton University where he wrote, produced, composed the lyrics and was president of the famed Princeton Triangle Club, a proving ground for James Stewart and director Joshua Logan. His 1953 production, Ham 'n Legs, was presented on The Ed Sullivan Show – the first Triangle production ever to appear on National Television.

Military service[edit]

Upon graduation from Princeton, Goldman had a three year stint in the U.S. Army stationed on Enewetak, an atoll in the Marshall Islands of the central Pacific Ocean, the Army activity there concerning the examination of the explosion clouds of nuclear bombs.

Career[edit]

Broadway[edit]

After leaving the service Goldman headed straight to Broadway and became the lyricist for First Impressions, a musical based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Produced by composer Jule Styne, directed by Abe Burrows, and starring Hermione Gingold, Polly Bergen and Farley Granger, the play received decent notices but had a very short run. Just 25-years-old, Goldman wasn't the least bit discouraged, still convinced he would spend the rest of his life in the theatre. However, it was not meant to be. He would spend the next few years trying to get his second show, a civil war play, Hurrah Boys Hurrah, onto Broadway – but with no success.

Television[edit]

Now married, and with 4 small children at home, he soon found a steady income working in the new world of live television at CBS.[2] Goldman was mentored by Fred Coe (the "D.W. Griffith of dramatic television") and became part of the twilight of The Golden Age, associate producing and script editing Coe's prestigious Playhouse 90's, Days of Wine and Roses (1958 TV drama) directed by a young John Frankenheimer, The Plot To Kill Stalin starring Eli Wallach, and Horton Foote's Old Man[disambiguation needed]. Goldman went on to himself produce and write for Public Television on the award-winning NET Playhouse. After working together at NET Burt Lancaster encouraged Goldman to try his hand at screenwriting, which resulted in an early version of Shoot the Moon. The script became Goldman's calling card, and he would soon be "known for some of the best screenplays of the 1970's and 80's".[3]

Film[edit]

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest[edit]

After reading Shoot the Moon, Miloš Forman asked Goldman to write the screenplay for 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'. The film won all five top Academy Awards including an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Goldman.This was the first film to win the top five awards since Frank Capra's It Happened One Night in 1934. For his work on the film Goldman also received the Writers Guild Award and the Golden Globe Award.

The Rose – Melvin and Howard[edit]

He next wrote The Rose (1979), which was nominated for four Academy Awards, this was followed by his original screenplay Melvin and Howard (1980) which garnered Goldman his second Oscar, second Writers Guild Award and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Screenplay of the Year.

Shoot the Moon[edit]

Main article: Shoot the Moon

Goldman's calling card, Shoot the Moon, was then filmed by Alan Parker and starred Diane Keaton & Albert Finney. The film received international acclaim and was embraced by America's most respected film critics:

Pauline KaelThe New Yorker

"Shoot the Moon is perhaps the most revealing American movie of the era." [4]

David DenbyNew York Magazine

"The Picture seems like a Miracle. A Beautiful Achievement." [5]

David EdelsteinThe New York Post

"One of the Best Films of the Decade." [6]

However, due to a previous agreement Warren Beatty had negotiated with MGM the studio was bound that no film could be released with Diane Keaton in the same year as Beatty's Reds. Consequently, Shoot the Moon was effectively dumped – and subsequently released with little or no fanfare the following February – long after the fourth quarter "awards season." Nonetheless, Goldman's peers remembered and the following year he earned his third Writers Guild Award nomination. For many years the film was all but forgotten and not available on DVD until Warner Bros. aquried MGM's home video library and released the film in the summer of 2007. To this day the film has a perfect 100% score on the critic site Rotten Tomatoes.

"The great Bo Goldman. He's the pre-eminent screenwriter ––
in my mind as good as it gets.
"[7]
Eric Roth, New York Times, 1998.
Los Angeles -- The Screen Writers Guild strike brings motion picture and television production very nearly to a halt. Several famous writers are shown here picketing at the 20th Century-Fox Studios; including Richard Brooks, Bo Goldman, Gore Vidal and Billy Wilder (1981)

For the next few years, Goldman contributed uncredited work to countless scripts including Miloš Forman's Ragtime (1981) starring James Cagney and Donald O'Connor, The Flamingo Kid (1984) starring Matt Dillon, and Warren Beatty's 'Dick Tracy' (1990).

Scent of a Woman – Meet Joe Black[edit]

He followed this with Scent of a Woman (1992) receiving his second Golden Globe Award and third Academy Award nomination. In the film Al Pacino plays Frank Slade, a blind, retired army colonel. A character Goldman said he based on someone he "knew from his days in the army." [2] After being nominated seven times for roles as varied as Michael Corleone in Francis Coppola's 'The Godfather' and Frank Serpico in Sidney Lumet's 'Serpico', his portrayal of Frank Slade finally earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor. The film was beloved by critics, Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote, "Scent of a Woman offers Al Pacino the kind of opportunity actors dream about. As Lieut. Col. Frank Slade, a corrosively bitter military man who has been blinded (quite literally) by his own stupidity, Mr. Pacino roars through this story with show-stopping intensity. Bo Goldman's screenplay provides him with a string of indelible wisecracks, and Martin Brest's direction allows room for the character to be developed at great length. Mr. Pacino's contribution, in the sort of role for which Oscar nominations were made, is to remind viewers that a great American actor is too seldom on the screen." [8] The film has an 88% score on the critic site Rotten Tomatoes.

Next up was Harold Becker's City Hall (1996) again starring Al Pacino and also John Cusack. Pacino played the corrupt Mayor of New York City. The film is peppered with musical theatre references – a clear homage to Goldman's father and his own Broadway days.

He then wrote Meet Joe Black (1998) starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins. Among critics the film was fashionably unfashionable. Pitt and the director, Martin Brest took the biggest thumping. The main complaint centered not on content, but pace. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Where Meet Joe Black runs into most of its trouble is that everything happens so terribly slowly. Martin Brest has felt the need to inflate the tale until it floats around like one of those ungainly balloons in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Not helping the time go faster is the way star Brad Pitt has ended up playing Death. Ordinarily the most charismatic of actors, with an eye-candy smile and a winning ease, Pitt approaches this role largely on a leash, hanging around more like the protagonist of "I Walked With a Zombie" than a flesh-and-blood leading man."[9]

A Writer's Writer[edit]

In a 1998 interview with the New York Times screenwriter Eric Roth said, "The great Bo Goldman. He's the pre-eminent screenwriter -- in my mind as good as it gets. He has the most varied and intelligent credits, from Cuckoo's Nest to Shoot the Moon, the best divorce movie ever made, to Scent of a Woman, to the great satire Melvin and Howard. He rarely makes mistakes, and he manages to maintain a distinctive American voice. And he manages to stay timely."[7]

Most Recent Work[edit]

In 2000, Goldman did a page one uncredited rewrite of The Perfect Storm. It was Goldman's script that green lit the movie at Warner Bros. and convinced George Clooney to star. The film went on to earn $327,000,000.

In recent years, Goldman was rumored to be working on an adaptation of Jules Dassin's Du rififi chez les hommes for Al Pacino.

Filmography[edit]

Awards[edit]

Awards and achievements
Academy Awards
Preceded by
Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo
for The Godfather Part II
Best Adapted Screenplay
Bo Goldman

1976
for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Succeeded by
William Goldman
for All the President's Men
Golden Globes
Preceded by
Robert Towne
for Chinatown
Best Screenplay
Bo Goldman

1976
for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Succeeded by
Paddy Chayefsky
for Network
Writers Guild of America Awards
Preceded by
Robert Towne
for Chinatown
Best Screenplay – Adapted
Bo Goldman

1976
for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Succeeded by
Paddy Chayefsky
for Network
New York Film Critics Circle Awards
Preceded by
Steve Tesich
for Breaking Away
Best Screenplay
Bo Goldman

1980
for Melvin and Howard
Succeeded by
John Guare
for Atlantic City
National Society of Film Critics Awards
Preceded by
Steve Tesich
for Breaking Away
Best Screenplay
Bo Goldman

1981
for Melvin and Howard
Succeeded by
John Guare
for Atlantic City
Boston Society of Film Critics
Preceded by
None
Best Screenplay
Bo Goldman

1980
for Melvin and Howard
Succeeded by
Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory
for My Dinner with Andre
Writers Guild of America Awards
Preceded by
Mike Gray and T.S. Cook and James Bridges
for The China Syndrome
Best Screenplay – Original
Bo Goldman

1981
for Melvin and Howard
Succeeded by
Warren Beatty and Trevor Griffiths
for Reds
Academy Awards
Preceded by
Robert Benton
for Kramer vs. Kramer
Best Original Screenplay
Bo Goldman

1981
for Melvin and Howard
Succeeded by
Ernest Thompson
for On Golden Pond'
Golden Globes
Preceded by
Callie Khouri
for Thelma & Louise
Best Screenplay
Bo Goldman

1993
for Scent of a Woman
Succeeded by
Steven Zaillian
for Schindler's List
Writers Guild of America
Preceded by
Robert Towne
Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement
Bo Goldman

1998
Given to a writer who has consistently
"advanced the art form."
Succeeded by
Paul Schrader

References[edit]

  1. ^ Calder, Lendol. Financing the American Dream. 
  2. ^ a b "Legendary Screenwriter Bo Goldman discusses his craft". 
  3. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (February 25, 1993). "A Screenwriter Profits From His Years of Pain". New York Times. 
  4. ^ Kael, Pauline (January 18, 1982). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. 
  5. ^ Denby, David (January 1982). "Cinema Reviews". New York Magazine. 
  6. ^ Edelstein, David (January 1982). "Shoot the Moon". New York Post. 
  7. ^ a b Willens, Michele (September 13, 1998). "The New Season/Film: Looking Ahead; Awaiting Kubrick, Malick, 'Mail'". New York Times. 
  8. ^ Maslin, Janet (December 23, 1992). "A Lust For Life". New York Times. 
  9. ^ Turan, Kenneth (November 13, 1998). "Dead Man Goes a-Courtin = Los Angeles Times". 

External links[edit]