Perhaps it's no surprise that William Goldman, the world's greatest and most famous living screenwriter, author of Marathon Man, Misery, The Princess Bride and All the President's Men, and subject of this week's South Bank Show, refers to critics as "failures and whores".
In the late-60s, Goldman sold his first original screenplay - a little script called Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - to 20th Century Fox for $400,000, a record at the time. Goldman, already a successful literary novelist who'd shown his gift for cinema by adapting Harper from a Ross McDonald book, felt the fee justified the eight years of research he'd put into the story, not to mention the script's commercial potential. But film critics, particularly those from Goldman's adopted home of New York, didn't agree. Apparently resentful of his big payday, the New Yorker review appeared under the headline "The Bottom of the Pit".
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The South Bank Show,
ITV1, Sunday 10:15pm