The Film Comment Podcast: Stick to the Script
This week, we take a peek into the world of Robert M. Rubin, a New York–based collector of film scripts. A historian of architecture and contemporary art by trade, Bob began buying rare and historically significant screenplays seriously in the 1990s, and by now has amassed an archive of what he calls “exformation”—that is, the ephemera that was often discarded in the process of moviemaking, but now reveals hidden and forgotten histories.
Film Comment editors Clinton Krute and Devika Girish sat down with Bob and bibliographer Erin McGuirl, who manages the collection, to leaf through some of these treasures. They include variant copies of classics like Citizen Kane and Notorious, editor Lou Lombardo’s working scripts for Robert Altman’s films, Ben Gazzara’s personal copies of the screenplay for The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and much more. We delve into the ways in which this material—with its pictures, notations, and scribbles—challenges our understanding of auteurism and sheds light on the crucial roles played by script supervisors, secretaries, and writers in Hollywood.
Check out a selection of photos from the collection below, including Cary Grant’s coffee-stained Notorious, Orson Welles’s heavily marked-up Touch of Evil, and other scripts discussed on the podcast, with notes by Erin McGuirl.
Images from the Robert M. Rubin Collection:
It may be Cary Grant’s coffee staining this copy of the revised final script for Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946). Someone wrote his name in pencil on the front cover, which was also stamped, “Please return to the casting department after this picture is finished.”
Ben Gazzara’s copies of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (John Cassavetes, 1976). (‘Nuff said.)
This mimeographed copy of the July 9, 1940 script for Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) is one of two in the Rubin Collection. The other, a carbon-copy typescript, seems to be a subsequent reworking of this draft with some new pages added and others condensed or eliminated.
Four of Meta Carpenter Wilde’s heavily marked-up working scripts survive in the Rubin Collection; Prizzi’s Honor (John Huston, 1985) is one of these. On the right, the Charley Varrick (Don Siegel, 1973) that never was: Polly Platt and Peter Bogdanovich’s 1970 adaptation of the source novel by John Reese, The Looters (1968).
Originally titled “Badge of Evil,” this unique copy of Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958) was heavily marked up by Orson Welles himself. The script is full of pages like this one, with rewritten text typed up on a new page and taped over the original copy.