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10/12/2005 - Larry Turman's Thoughts (No. 9)

You should see classic old movies. They're part of the literature, they're part of our culture. And there are things to learn. I studied the Clark Gable/Spencer Tracy/Myrna Loy classic Test Pilot while developing the Butch Cassidy script with Bill Goldman. Its theme of two guys in a dangerous profession, both in love with the same girl, was applicable to us thirty years later. I once overheard a well-known director say, "Let's run The Hustler again and see what we can steal [from writer/director Robert Rossen]." But do remember what one wag admonished, "If you're gonna steal, make sure you only steal from the best." The World War II classic 30 Seconds Over Tokyo (1944) and the western epic Red River (1948) both had, I'll be damned, the exact same scene. Before the training mission to prepare for the climactic bombing raid in 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, Spencer Tracy's dialogue was, "Men, this is the roughest, toughest thing you're ever going to have to do in your life. If anyone wants to drop out, do it now." In Red River, John Wayne's dialogue was, "Men, this is the roughest, toughest cattle drive anyone's ever undertaken. If you're not up to it, drop out now." Both worked equally well as each was right for the drama. There are probably parents who have advised a son or daughter, "The film business is the roughest business in the world, as I candidly say in my book "So You Want To Be A Producer." If you can't stand the gaff, you ought to drop out now."


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