Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade

William Goldman, Author Pantheon Books $26.95 (496p) ISBN 978-0-375-40349-1
Two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter Goldman follows up his irreverent, gossipy and indispensable screenwriting bible, Adventures in the Screen Trade (1983), with this equally wise, tart and very funny account of the filmmaking process. He begins with the surprising admission that he was a ""leper"" in Hollywood between 1980 and 1985: after Magic (1978), he was unable to get any screenplays produced until The Princess Bride (1987). (Moviegoers' loss was readers' gain: during those years he wrote six novels.) Wildly opinionated (""Vertigo--for me, the most overrated movie of all time"") but astute, Goldman is a 35-year industry veteran with lots of tales and a knack for spinning them. He knows how to captivate his audience, peppering his philosophical advice with star-studded anecdotes. Whether he's detailing why virtually every leading actor turned down the lead in Misery before James Caan offered to be drug-tested to get the part, or how Michael Douglas was the perfect producer but the wrong actor for The Ghost and the Darkness, Goldman offers keen observations in a chatty style. In the last section of the book, he gamely offers readers a rough first draft of an original screenplay. Even more bravely, he includes instructive, intuitive and sometimes scathing critiques by fellow screenwriters, including Peter and Bobby Farrelly (There's Something About Mary), Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise) and John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck). Movie buffs of all stripes, even those with no interest in writing for the screen, will enjoy this sublimely entertaining adventure. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000
Release date: 03/01/2000
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