Writers on Film


Paul Williams talks Harvard, Hollywood, Hitmen and Holy Men

Season 1, Ep. 92

Paul Williams is a key figure in New Hollywood and cinema generally. Along with Ed Pressman, he formed Pressman Williams Productions which brought to the screens the likes of Brian de Palma and Terrence Malick. He directed a number of films beginning in 1969 with Out of It starring Barry Gordon and Jon Voight and going on with such cult underground films as The Revolutionary and Dealing. His new memoir Harvard, Hollywood, Hitmen and Holy Men is a fascinating and at times hilarious chronicle of an extraordinary life, which offers profound insights that go much further than world of show business into spiritualism, politics and psychology.

More Episodes


Crooked but Never Common

Season 1, Ep. 98
In a burst of creativity unmatched in Hollywood history, Preston Sturges directed a string of all-time classic comedies from 1939 through 1948―The Great McGinty, The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels, The Palm Beach Story, and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek among them―all from screenplays he alone had written. Cynical and sophisticated, romantic and sexually frank, crazily breakneck and endlessly witty, his movies continue to influence filmmakers and remain popular to this day. Yet despite this acclaim, Sturges’s achievements remain underappreciated: he is too often categorized as a dialogue writer and plot engineer more than a director, or belittled as an irresponsible spinner of laughs.In Crooked, but Never Common, Stuart Klawans combines a critic’s insight and a fan’s enthusiasm to offer deeper ways to think about and enjoy Sturges’s work. He provides an in-depth appreciation of all ten of the writer-director’s major movies, presenting Sturges as a filmmaker whose work balanced slapstick and social critique, American and European traditions, and cynicism and affection for his characters. Tugging at loose threads―discontinuities, puzzles, and allusions that have dangled in plain sight―and putting the films into a broader cultural context, Klawans reveals structures, motives, and meanings underlying the uproarious pleasures of Sturges’s movies. In this new light, Sturges emerges at last as one of the truly great filmmakers―and funnier than ever.