A Note on Credits
It is not a simple job to compile the filmography of a screenwriter, for as Richard Corliss has written in his indispensable book, Talking Pictures, "A writer may be given screen credit for work he didn't do (as with Sidney Buchman on Holiday ), or be denied credit for work he did do (as with Sidney Buchman on The Awful Truth )." Which is to say, there are irresolvable gaps in the best sources.
The American Film Institute's Catalog of Feature Films (1921–1930, 1961–1970) is incomplete for the years that are missing and not always reliable for the years that are covered. The joint project of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Writers Guild of America-West, Who Wrote the Movie (And What Else Did He Write)? (1936–1969), is less than authoritative. It overlooks movies written before the inception of the guild and toes the official guild line of accreditation thereafter. Consequently, excluded are many famous and not-so-famous instances of uncredited complicity. The blacklist years are riddled with aliases and omissions. And the guild maintains rules (disallowing screen credit to any director who has not contributed at least 50 percent of the dialogue, for example) that, while they may protect screenwriters, do not promote a full accounting of the screenplay.
The credits for this book were cross-referenced from several sources—those cited above, the New York Times and Variety film reviews, International Motion Picture Almanac and Motion Picture Daily yearbooks, A Guide to American Screenwriters: The Sound Era, 1929–1982 by Larry Langman (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1984) and The Film Encyclopedia by Ephraim Katz (New York: Perigree Books, 1979). In individual cases there was additional spadework by the original interviewers. As a final
resort, whenever possible, the interview subjects were confronted with the results of research and asked to add to or subtract from the list. Richard Brooks, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Garson Kanin, Dorothy Kingsley, Curt Siodmak, and Stewart Stern all reviewed their transcripts and filmographies, clarifying aspects of their interviews.
As to specific claims and counterclaims concerning who wrote exactly what, there is another kind of cross-referencing to be done. The oral historian cannot always separate fact from factoid or opinion from the ax-to-grind. Likely there is much in this collection of reminiscences that contradicts, or is contradicted by, material in other books. Partly, such conflicting tales are to be expected of a branch of the film industry that has been relatively untapped for its perspective, where egos and careers have been so trampled. And partly such differences arise inevitably from individual points of view on a group enterprise.