Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.
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4 page letter to Ben Hecht from David O. Selznick
Asking him to do the foreword to The Wild Heart
The original letter is for sale
for only $2,500.00
The letter is complete with a 2 page draft outlining the theme of the foreword
I would not do it unless I knew that it would not take you more than a few minutes and except that it has become almost a tradition with me to have you wave your magic wand over our forewords. Also, believe me, I will feel no offense if you tell me that you have changed your mind and that you just don't want to be bothered with it; and I have done my best to struggle with it alone, as on previous forewords, to minimize your work.
What I need are a few of your magical phrases, and a tapping of your apparently inexhaustible supply of graphic adjectives. / The picture is 'GONE TO EARTH',which is the source of most of my arguments with Korda. It stars Jennifer, and I am therefore doubly concerned with it. It was made by Powell and Pressburger, who are a very gifted pair as I think they demonstrated in 'RED SHOES', 'COLONEL BLIMP', and some other films, but despite their great talents, with the exception of 'RED SHOES' they have had an astonishing degree of failures.
[They may have been "failures" by his standard (monetary) but they were wonderful by any other measure. Even TRS hadn't made a lot of money by then]
They have two tremendous faults. The first is an excessively English resistance to portrayal of emotions, which I am hoping to cure with retakes and additional scenes following completion of the job of re-editing the film.
And the second is a fantastic obsession against making things clear.
///Selznick goes on to outline his ideas as to what the foreword might achieve and in so doing seems to clarify the long debated role which Ben Hecht played vis-a-vis the script of 'Gone With the Wind':
I think there are a great many pictures that are helped greatly by a foreword even when the picture doesn't have the problems to overcome that this one has in its present form. An outstanding example of this was your brilliant and widely quoted foreword for 'GONE WITH THE WIND'.
///He then provides an amazingly concise and profound synopsis of the story, outlining the plot so that the reader can immediately grasp the twists and symbolism of the tale.
///A fascinating letter which provides incomparable insight into the creative genius of one of the greatest producers of the 20th century.
///Together with: A 1-PAGE TLS TO BEN HECHT, dated October 24, 1950. 10-1/2x7-1/4 on David O. Selznick's personal stationery.
2 crayon marks in the margin highlight the first paragraph. Else, fine.
Will you please forgive my seeming rudeness in not thanking you sooner for your characteristically friendly maintenance of the 'foreword department'
The reason you have not heard from me is that I have decided to finish all of my overhauling and re-editing and grooming of the picture, plus the writing of the retakes, in order to determine precisely what points can be made with complete clarity, before deciding on the final content of the foreword.
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