Scripts, lies and videotape

By Nicole Kobie

According to William Goldman, screenplay writers are the most undervalued and ignored commodity in Hollywood.

That statement probably raises some questions: Who the hell is William Goldman? And who cares about film writers? Why shouldn’t we ignore them, when there’s so many more interesting people in Hollywood?

If you love movies, and/or want to make a career writing movies, there’s any easy way to find the answers.

Goldman’s Which Lie did I Tell will fulfill any addiction for film-making anecdotes while teaching the tricks of the screenwriting trade. This is no dry lecture though; expect incredible insight and Gold-man’s famous storytelling.

But who is William Goldman? You may remember him from his previous effort, Adventures in the Screen Trade. A quick look down the table of contents solves the mystery. The first section, titled simply "More Adventures," describes some top films, in relation to the writing process. Think of such gems as The Princess Bride, Misery and The Ghost and The Darkness. All of these Gold-man-written movies are examined in Lies. If that’s not enough reason to take him at his word, maybe mention of Marathon Man, All the President’s Men, and the Oscar-winning Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid will change your mind.

OK, so he’s an expert. So maybe you should listen to him. But does that mean you want to? If you’re a fan of movies, you will.

With a great sense of comedy, Goldman relates the best anecdotes from his career. Interesting but not always funny, he tells tales such as the troubles casting James Caan in Misery. While Caan is generally considered to have been perfect for his role, he was not Goldman’s first choice. He wasn’t even the second, third, or even tenth. This story behind the story is looked at in a lighthearted, yet insightful way.

Goldman obviously has a skill for dialogue; the tales are told as though he’s sitting across the table having lunch with you. Anecdotes slide into each other, one after another, the way a conversation with a good friend wanders among stories.

Dream of fame and fortune, Hollywood-style? Then let Goldman be your mentor. Looking for good gossip? Goldman’s got an earful. Looking for an entertaining read? Which Lie did I Tell is just that.

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