Friday, May 6, 2011

Arthur Laurents

Arthur Laurents (1917 - 2011) was a great writer.  He passed away yesterday at the age of 93.  Let's look at his accomplishments, and what he meant to the world of film.

Laurents was a playwright, director of the stage, and a screenwriter.  He never acted, but he is responsible for advancing many careers, including that of Barbra Streisand.  He has won two Tony Awards and several other awards for theater and film, and was a nominee for many more.  Plus, he is credited as a writer on a real A-List of movies, even though film was not his primary work.  He was even blacklisted for a while.

His film career started with the 1948 release of The Snake Pit, starring Olivia DeHavilland; and Rope, by Alfred Hitchcock.  Other big name stars include Katherine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi in Summertime (1955), and Ingrid Bergman and Yul Brenner in Anastasia (1956). 

Laurents was the man who wrote the book West Side Story, released as the musical film in 1961, the winner of TEN Oscars.  The next year, was the release of Gypsy, also from a Laurents book.  Gypsy starred Natalie Wood (1938 - 1981), and was remade for TV in 1993 starring Bette Midler with Cynthia Gibb (b. 1963) in the title role.

Into the 1970s, with The Way We Were (1973) starring Streisand and Robert Redford, and then The Turning Point (1977) starring Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine

With timeless stories like those, we are sure to see his name in movie credits for years to come.  In fact, he wrote many plays that may still become movies.  Arthur Laurents has brought a lot of beauty into our lives, and he is responsible for keeping countless Bit Actors working as well.  (I had to get something about Bit Actors in here!)


  1. What an odd sensation I felt when I saw your blog headline on the CMBA site that Arthur Laurents had died. I posted a blog this morning about "A Streetcar Named Desire," primarily focusing on playwright Tennessee Williams - but secondarily on theatrical producer Irene Mayer Selznick. I mentioned that her first production had closed in Philadelphia and that it was written by Arthur Laurents. The title was "Heartsong." I mentioned that Laurents continued to work on it and gave it a new title ("The Time of the Cuckoo"), it became a Broadway hit and was later adapted to film - David Lean's "Summertime" with Katharine Hepburn.

  2. I saw your post on Williams. You always put a lot of work in your writing, and it shows.

    I try to look for connections in the work we see from Hollywood. What you just mentioned is a connection, rather than a collaboration. It seems that the influences of one can cause inspiration in others, and that is always fun to try and figure out.


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