Mad as Hell:: The Life and Work of Paddy Chayefsky

Shaun Considine, Author
Shaun Considine, Author Random House (NY) $25 (426p) ISBN 978-0-679-40892-5
Hardcover - 978-0-517-16417-4
Paperback - 452 pages - 978-0-595-12029-1
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Considine ( Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud ) has written an engrossing and lively biography of the late screenwriter, the only one to win three Oscars--for Marty, Hospital and Network . Chayefsky (1923-1981) also wrote the screenplays for other notable films, such as Altered States , the hallucinatory melodrama that made William Hurt famous, as well as Broadway comedies and dramas. Yet he got his start writing for TV-- Marty originated as a one-hour episode of ``Philco Television Playhouse''--and the chapters detailing the early days of the medium are particularly engrossing. Chayefsky--initially the ``poet of the streets'' whose Marty reflected his profound insecurity--worked with such personalities as Bob Fosse, Marilyn Monroe, Zero Mostel, Tyrone Guthrie and Ken Russell. Considine's characterization of his subject as a man split in two is facile; he plays off ``Paddy''--scrappy, Bronx-bred--with ``Sidney''--devout, artistic, intellectual. Nonetheless, the ups and downs of Chayefsky's varied career make for consistently entertaining reading. Photos not seen by PW. (July)
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