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GOIN’ OUT WEST

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“When I come out to southern California in 1937, the area is still undeveloped, so I am granted the boon of being in a new place fresh and brimming and unawakened, at the beginning. There are masses of bougainvillea, Joshua trees and yucca on the hills, a light shining at the door, the scent of orange blossoms in the evening air, honeysuckle and jasmine…. People work in the citrus groves and in the oil fields, but this activity is slight, and by far the largest part of the preoccupation of the city is with the seven or eight motion-picture studios. It is amazing how they cling to the studios here, how the studios dominate all their minds and lives. The studios exude an excitement, a sense of life, a reach and hope, to an extent hard to describe.”

The words above were written by Daniel Fuchs (1909-1993), great uncle of one half of the Film Snob brain trust, David Kamp. Fuchs was that rarest of Hollywood commodities: a guy who languished for much of his adult life in development hell (with only twelve of his screenplays realized as films) and still reveled in the hustle and flow of the picture industry. He liked being Barton Fink (and actually wrote a wrestling picture, though not for Wally Beery), and he loved the old studio machers like Harry Cohn and Jack Warner–the more vulgar the better. Like so few of us today, Great Uncle Dan didn’t feel that life owed him anything, and, by his calculations, he came out ahead. He won one Academy Award, for writing the Doris Day-James Cagney movie Love Me or Leave Me, and never made more than $60,000 a year.

In the spirit of Daniel Fuchs, Messrs. Kamp and Levi now head out to L.A. for book plugeroo–if you’re in the area, be sure to catch our reading at Book Soup on Sunset this Wednesday eve at 7 p.m.–and to take in Oscars week, the greatest of the Hebraic bacchanals, surpassing even Purim.

And in a delicious convergence, visitors to the Amazon link for The Film Snob*s Dictionary will find that Amazon suggests that if you like our book, you might also like Daniel Fuchs’s collection of Hollywood writings The Golden West, from which the lead paragraph of this item was excerpted.

February 27, 2006 More Film Snobbery »

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