Le Mans and Le Myth
I finished watching a documentary on Showtime called, Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans, about the very problematic and over-budget production filming the racing movie, Le Mans, in 1970. It's quite well done, though a bit longer that it should perhaps be and therefore slow in parts. But overall, enjoyable.
I mention this though for one odd reason.
One of the people interviewed in the film is screenwriter Alan Trustman, who had written two big hits for McQueen: The Thomas Crown Affair and Bullitt. He was one of the people brought in to discuss writing Le Mans, but met the same fate of the others when McQueen was resistant to most ideas. Unlike most of the others, apparently, he was more vocal about his disagreements. The result, he says in the film, is that you don't argue with a superstar, and even though he was then the highest-paid writer in Hollywood, the phone calls stopped. (I'm really not quite certain that Hollywood worked like that, especially in the '70s, and especially since Le Mans and its script was seen as so troubled, so arguing about a mess of a script and departing it wouldn't seem to be a huge negative, even if Steve McQueen was that big a superstar --particularly since you'd just written two major hits. But that's what he says in the film, so we'll take it and move on to the larger point...)
During the end credits, it says that after Alan Trustman left the film, he never worked in Hollywood again. I scratched my head at that, and looked it up.
According to iMDB.com, he has credits on four subsequent feature films, including a fairly successful one, They Call Me Mister Tibbs, the sequel to the Oscar-winning In the Heat of the Night. It also shows him writing on a fifith film, though was uncredited, and writing an episode for a TV series. And he was the executive producer of a TV movie. That certainly sounds to me like he worked in Hollywood again.
In fact, I also found a news story from last September that the 85-year-old Trustman was signed to write the screenplay for a film project called, Chasing the Ghost. It may never get made -- or may. But he's clearly still impressively working. By the way, the documentary was released in November, so -- although in fairness the film may have been locked -- there does seem like there could have been time to add that to the final credits, if they'd wanted to. Though, for whatever reason, the filmmakers didn't want to deal with the reality that Alan Trustman did keep working, even if not as much.
I tracked down some interviews with Mr. Trustman, and mainly it seems like he was always disenchanted with Hollywood, starting with him being a lawyer when he wrote The Thomas Crown Affair. And he became fairly successful later in the financial world. He thought that the way Hollywood worked was pretty unseemly and never chose to move to Los Angeles. Though he's kept writing. So, it seems to me that there is a mixture of losing some prestige being fired by Steve McQueen, and personally being unhappy with Hollywood, and having financial stability whereby he had other outlets of income, and still writing and getting a few things produced. So, while there does seem to be some impact by the Le Mans experience, it certainly appears pretty clear that he didn't stop working in Hollywood.
Maybe I'm missing something. But I've wracked my brains and can't think what it is is. It sure seems to me like that end credit is completely wrong, almost for dramatic effect, and his comment about that the phone stopped ringing a bit metaphoric. I can at least understand the latter as an exaggeration of a sort of personal dramatic license, but not even remotely the former. I don't even begin to say that Alan Trustman never worked in Hollywood again, when -- as far as I can tell -- he not only did, but did quite a few times. And still is.
Here's the trailer.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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