Western Author Series: Larry McMurtry #3 of 6
CowboySpirit.TV - Larry McMurtry, one of the best known authors of western books is the subject of Part 3 of our 6 Part Western Author series. Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2 in case you missed them.
Larry McMurtry grew up in Archer City, Texas in the 1940s and 50s. Archer City was not a place that would be considered “bookish.” It was a location known for its cowboys and roughnecks. A New York Times interview of Larry McMurtry mentions that when McMurtry was ready to leave home as a young adult, he made a vow that he would never return unless he was able to bring one copy of every book he would ever need.
He struck out to pursue his college education. It was during this period that he wrote and published his first successful novel, Horseman, Pass By. It was well received and showed McMurtry to be a promising new author. A New York Times review states, “There is a gnarled pastoral side to Texas life that has not yet been shown fully to the world. It lies in Mr. McMurtry's province”. This comment is probably the best compliment that McMurtry could have hoped for. As we will see later, he was disgusted with romantic notions of life in the Old West, preferring his western books to depict the more realistic sides of cowboy and cattle ranching life.
One year later, in 1962, Horseman, Pass By caught the attention of Paramount Pictures. They purchased the rights to the screenplay for $10,000. The screenplay, titled “Hud” after the novel’s main character, was not written my McMurtry, although he has written many successful screenplays throughout his career. "Hud" was written by a screenwriter/producer named Irving Ravetch, who was in the market to find a successful film for Paul Newman. “Hud” proved to be a winner.
This appeal to the Hollywood eye helped to catalyze McMurtry’s writing career. More than half a dozen of his books have been converted into screenplays such as, Leaving Cheyenne - which became “Lovin’ Molly,” The Last Picture Show , Terms of Endearment, Lonesome Dove, Texasville, The Evening Star, and Boone’s Lick. He has also written screenplays for several TV Movies, including “The Murder of Mary Phagan”, “Buffalo Girls”, “Montana”, “Memphis”, and “Johnson County War”.
In a culture that celebrates literary and cinematic fame, it's difficult to understand McMurtry's reticence to celebrate his own. Sounds a little like a traditional humble cowboy...
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