18 Nunnally Johnson and The Grapes Of Wrath from Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered [Video] (1 minute 11 seconds)

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17 Nunnally Johnson and The Grapes Of Wrath from Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered

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In this case — this gentleman Nunnally Johnson –I think got it even worse. He adapted this famous United States book, The Grapes of Wrath, into a film. You notice on the bottom it was directed by John Ford. We don’t see where — Nunnally Johnson’s name is right above it. Can you see the itty-bitty teeny-tiny print? John Steinbeck, the author of the book, actually said he thought the script was better than his book. He thought that the writing of the script improved this novel that is quite famous and taught in many American classrooms. When the woman who starred in the film — who married Nunnally Johnson — died just a few years ago, the obituary — her very own obituary — read that she was famous for John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath and she left acting when she married the film’s screenwriter. It’s his wife’s obituary and it doesn’t list his name because he’s just a screenwriter. He can’t possibly count as much as John Ford does. She wasn’t married to John Ford.

A Note About This Presentation

A clip from my keynote speech at the 10th Screenwriters´(hi)Stories Seminar for the interdisciplinary Graduation Program in “Education, Art, and History of Culture”, in Mackenzie Presbyterian University, at São Paulo, SP, Brazil, focused on the topic “Why Researching Screenwriters (has Always) Mattered.” I was especially pleased with the passion these young scholars have toward screenwriting and it’s importance in transmitting culture across the man-made borders of our world.

To understand the world we have to understand its stories and to understand the world’s stories we must understand the world’s storytellers. A century ago and longer those people would have been the novelists of any particular country but since the invention of film, the storytellers who reach the most people with their ideas and their lessons have been the screenwriters. My teaching philosophy is that: Words matter, Writers matter, and Women writers matte, r so women writers are my focus because they have been the far less researched and yet they are over half the population. We cannot tell the stories of the people until we know what stories the mothers have passed down to their children. Those are the stories that last. Now is the time to research screenwriters of all cultures and the stories they tell because people are finally recognizing the work of writers and appreciating how their favorite stories took shape on the page long before they were cast, or filmed, or edited. But also because streaming services make the stories of many cultures now available to a much wider world than ever before.

Many thanks to Glaucia Davino for the invitation.


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