Monday, December 15, 2014

Maxwell Anderson, 1888-1959

Today marks the birth anniversary of playwright Maxwell Anderson. Several of his plays have been turned into movies. Probably the best known of those movies would be Key Largo, which I never realized was based on an Anderson play, although to be fair John Huston apparently changed the play almost beyond recognition. I've seen the movie but never seen or read the play, so I wouldn't know.

Perhaps a better example, then, of Anderson's work might be his play Elizabeth the Queen, which was adapted for the screen as The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex in 1939. The ending of Elizabeth the Queen can also be seen being performed on stage by Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in the delightful film The Guardsman; the rest of the play is a Ferenc Molnar work. Anderson actually wrote several plays about that period of English history, including Mary of Scotland which was turned into a movie in 1936, and Anne of the Thousand Days, which didn't become a movie until a decade after Anderson's death.

Anderson did more contemporary work, too, writing the play Saturday's Children, which became a film twice, with the better known version being the early 1940s version starring John Garfield, and The Bad Seed, which in fact was the subject of a post on Anderson's birthday back in 2008.

Anderson also did screenplays from other authors' work too; perhaps the best known among these would be the Joan Crawford version of Somerset Maugham's story Rain, or the Fredric March version of Death Takes a Holiday.

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