With One Line, William Goldman Taught Hollywood Everything It Needed to Know
Art Business

With One Line, William Goldman Taught Hollywood Everything It Needed to Know

William Goldman , the Oscar-winning writer of screenplays for “All the President’s Men” and “ Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ” who died on Friday , coined the best line in the history of Hollywood, and it wasn’t even for one of his movies. “Nobody knows anything.” If you work in this business — and Goldman was clear-eyed about the fact that the film industry is an industry first, where art and ideas must serve the bottom line, or perish — it’s worth getting those three words tattooed on your forearm. Or cross-stitched onto a throw pillow for your agent’s couch. They serve as a reminder to every writer in town to stand by your ideas, because you can never predict what will be a hit — “not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work” — and every time you compromise your vision because someone pretends to know better, you’re sacrificing the chance to prove them wrong. Goldman wrote a lot of movies that made a lot of money, but my favorite will always be the one that bombed: “ The Princess Bride ” is my desert-island movie. If […]

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