Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Thomas Ince affair

Received the congratulatory e-mail from Amy & Ami yesterday afternoon on making the next round of The Writer's Arc. So I'll be busy the next week knocking out the last twenty-some pages of the spec to be submitted by Monday.

From the files of the L.A. Times yesterday there was this glimpse into the life of an aspiring screenwriter in days gone by:

July 18, 1919: Two sheriff's deputies arrested an aspiring screenwriter, Clement d'Art, after he allegedly sent a letter to the assistant manager of the Thomas H. Ince studio requesting $20,000 for the screenplay "Jumping Jacks," which the studio had rejected. In the letter, the deputies said, D'Art told C.W. Thomas that he would kill him if the money wasn't delivered in 24 hours.

D'Art also reportedly said in the letter that after killing Thomas, he would kill himself "in order that his death and that of a man prominent in the motion-picture world would result in copyright laws which would protect scenario writers," The Times said.

D'Art was deemed insane and taken to County Hospital's psychopathic ward, The Times said.

As the French say, plus ├ža change. Except I guess they (disgruntled screenwriters, not the French) use lawyers now instead of death threats. All things being equal, the execs would probably prefer death threats.

Curiously, the studio head, Thomas Ince, himself would die under mysterious circumstances five years later. While on the yacht of William Randolph Hearst, along with guests such as Hearst's mistress, Marion Davies, Charlie Chaplin, and future gossip maven, Louella Parsons, Ince purportedly took ill. The yacht docked and Ince was taken off the boat, accompanied by a doctor who also just happened to be Hearst's film production manager. Ince died two days later, officially of a heart attack.

The true story will never be known, but legend has it that sometime during the voyage on his yacht, Hearst shot Ince. Possibly accidentally, possibly in a jealous rage after learning that Chaplin and Davies were having an affair. Other scenarios and variations thereon have been hinted at over the years as well. The rumors were given some credence by the fact that Parsons was given a lifetime contract with the Hearst company immediately following Ince's death. A version of the events was dramatized in the 2001 film, The Cat's Meow, directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Who knows if word ever reached Mr. d'Art in the pyschopathic ward.

2 Comments:

  • Congrats on making the cut! (Again.)

    By Blogger writergurl, at 9:57 PM  

  • thanks writergurl

    i may do the postmortem again on my first round thingy. but first things first. 17 pages left.

    By Blogger Chris, at 11:37 PM  

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