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January 25, 2009


Eric Rosenfield

Wanted to read that article about ebooks, but Crain's requires one to purchase a subscription.

Leonard T. Carruthers

From Richard Rayner's review: "He fights back, picking up tradecraft by reading spy novels (a detail that owes something, surely, to the Sydney Pollack spy thriller 'Three Days of the Condor')..." Not only did Sydney Pollack not write the film "Three Days of the Condor" (that honor belongs to Lorenzo Semple Jr. and David Rayfiel), he certainly didn't pen the source novel "Six Days of the Condor," written by the inestimable James Grady. If a literary critic must use a cinematic reference to make his point (which seems questionable to begin with, when the film was based on a book), couldn't he at least credit the reference to the writers in question, rather than the director?

Kevin Wignall

You raise an interesting point, Leonard, though I don't necessarily come to the same conclusion. There's a scene in one of my books that owes a small debt to the Lee Marvin version of "The Killers", but to attribute it to the Hemingway story upon which the film is based would be wrong because I've never read that story. And most of us see more films than we read books.

As an aside here, I don't remember Redford's character in "Condor" learning his tradecraft from books. His job is to study books, but if memory serves, he has a background in signals work for the military. So in that respect the reviewer is wrong.

The interesting point, though, is about authorship. It's common shorthand to attribute authorship of a film to a director, and sometimes to an actor. In the case of "Three Days of the Condor", I think it's acceptable to describe it as Pollack's film, just as it's normal to talk about Coppola's "Godfather", not Puzo's.

But it is odd the way author's get airbrushed out of the picture. In the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay, the author of the source material doesn't get a mention and yet surely contributes enough that he/she should get a co-writer's credit and perhaps get to pick up a statuette with the scriptwriter.

Steven Torres

About the last story - no one ever suspects the goat...

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