Yordan, Philip

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1914-04-01
Death 2003-03-24
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

American motion picture producer.

From the description of Philip Yordan papers, 1977-1978. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122553647

From the guide to the Philip Yordan papers, 1977-1978, (L. Tom Perry Special Collections)

Philip Yordan, an Oscar-winning writer, died on March 24 in San Diego, his family said. He was 88. Although he was most active in movies, Mr. Yordan's breakthrough came on Broadway in the 1940's with his play ''Anna Lucasta.'' It was the first Broadway production to feature an all-black cast in a drama unrelated to racial issues. Similar to Eugene O'Neill's ''Anna Christie, '' it told the story of a prostitute fighting her way back to respectability. The play was first produced by the American Negro Theater in Harlem, and moved to Broadway in 1944. Mr. Yordan made two film versions of ''Anna Lucasta, '' one in 1949 with a white cast starring Paulette Goddard, and another in 1958 with Eartha Kitt and Sammy Davis Jr. Mr. Yordan, who was known to overextend himself with conflicting writing commitments, also became known as the name of record for blacklisted writers during the ''red scare'' of the 1950's. Some writers were grateful for the work they received under Mr. Yordan's name, but the small extent of his efforts as a frontman led some writers to feel that the credit he got was undeserved. Among the screenplays he fronted was ''Johnny Guitar, '' the 1954 western starring Joan Crawford and directed by Nicholas Ray. Many film encyclopedias now list Ben Maddow as screenwriter for the film, which is widely seen as an allegory of the Hollywood witch hunts. Mr. Yordan, many of whose 61 films tell the story of lone heroes or villains acting in lawless worlds, won an Oscar for his story ''Broken Lance, '' a 1954 film starring Spencer Tracy as a Lear-like cattle baron. Mr. Yordan received Oscar nominations for two other films: ''Dillinger'' (1945), starring Lawrence Tierney, and ''Detective Story'' (1951), starring Kirk Douglas and William Bendix. During the 1950's, Mr. Yordan was involved in movies featuring the era's biggest stars, including Humphrey Bogart in his last film, ''The Harder They Fall'' (1956). Mr. Yordan left Hollywood in the early 1960's to join the producer Samuel Bronston in Spain, helping him create the epics ''El Cid'' (1961) and ''55 Days at Peking'' (1962), both starring Charlton Heston. Later in the decade, he turned to disaster films, including ''Krakatoa, East of Java'' (1969), about an eruption of a volcano that, as critics and geographers immediately pointed out, is actually to Java's west. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/06/nyregion/philip-yordan-dies-at-88-won-an-oscar-for-writing.html Retrieved 3/23/2009.

Erskine Preston Caldwell was born in White Oak, Coweta County, Georgia, the son of Ira Sylvester Caldwell, a minister, and Caroline Bell, a teacher. Caldwell much later believed that being brought up as a minister's son in the Deep South was "my good fortune in life," for his family's frequent moves to different congregations in the region gave him an intimate knowledge of the people, localities, and ways of life that would inform his fiction and documentary writing. As a youth he observed, with his father's active encouragement, the "antics and motivations" of the southern poor in their pursuit of material and spiritual satisfaction. He noted the quirks of sexual, social, and race relationships in the world around him and listened avidly to stories told in his family and community. Eventually he decided that his main goal in life was to become a storyteller himself. Caldwell attended Erskine College, in South Carolina, and also took courses at the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania between 1920 and 1925. He served a more practical apprenticeship to writing as a newspaper reporter for the Atlanta Journal; as a book reviewer for the Journal, the Houston Post, and the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer; and by practicing his craft in scores of essays, poems, jokes, stories, and novels, which he submitted, largely unsuccessfully, for publication during the late 1920s. In 1925 he married Helen Lannigan, with whom he later had two sons and a daughter. His first novel, The Bastard, was published in 1929, followed by a second, Poor Fool, in 1930; but later he preferred to acknowledge the short story collection American Earth (1931) as his first book. The stories in this collection, many of which first appeared in little experimental magazines, revealed many of the qualities and preoccupations that would characterize Caldwell's later writing: a grimly deterministic view of human existence qualified by a burlesque sense of its absurdity; a keen interest in the manipulation of power between men and women, whites and blacks, rich and poor; a considerable disposition toward vulgar comedy and gothic violence; and a starkly simple prose style that depended for its impact on startling patterns of imagery and choral repetitions. With his next two novels, Tobacco Road (1932) and God's Little Acre (1933), Caldwell achieved not only critical and popular success, but also some notoriety. Both books were set among the poor whites of his southern childhood, and both displayed a mixture of muckraking anger and grotesque sexual behavior that upset southern loyalists and northern moralists alike. Despite or because of this, Tobacco Road, adapted for the stage by Jack Kirkland, ran on Broadway for over seven and a half years, and God's Little Acre, after a highly publicized obscenity trial, became one of Caldwell's perennial bestsellers. The financial rewards of these successes, however, did not come for some time, and in 1933 Caldwell went west to try his luck as a screenwriter in Hollywood. He later described his intermittent, twenty-year association with film writing as a "toilsome and far-from-happy career," saying that in terms of his ability to write fiction it was "just a waste of time" but that it gave him a comfortable income when he dearly needed it. The novels and stories that Caldwell wrote during the 1950s--Gretta (1955), Gulf Coast Stories (1956), Certain Women (1957), and Claudelle Inglish (1958)--all showed an interest in the psychology and particularly the sexual behavior of neurotic women. Caldwell attributed this emphasis partly to his unhappy personal relationships, although more skeptical critics suspected his willingness to trade profitably on a reputation as "America's Most Censored Author." At the end of the decade, however, Caldwell renewed his interest in one of his earlier literary subjects that was neither notably saleable nor salacious: his concern for the lives of black people and all the intricacies of their relationships to whites. This theme formed the basis of many of his novels in the 1960s, such as Jenny by Nature (1961), Close to Home (1962), Summertime Island (1968), and The Weather Shelter (1969). At the same time, Caldwell's interest in nonfiction revived in two autobiographical excursions into his southern past, In Search of Bisco (1965) and Deep South (1968), both again centrally concerned with race. He also resumed his travel reportage, although the political radicalism and the eccentric details that had enlivened his earlier documentaries were no longer in evidence. American National Biography Online. http://www.anb.org/articles/16/16-00244.html?a=1 & n=erskine%20caldwell & ia=-at & ib=-bib & d=10 & ss=0 & q=1 Retrieved 3/23/2009.

From the description of Screenplay for Gretta, circa 1956-1980. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 317482382

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Subjects:

  • Women--Psychology
  • Mormon pioneers--Drama
  • Material Types
  • Drama (American)
  • Mormon Church--History--Drama
  • Mormons in motion pictures
  • Motion pictures--History--Sources
  • Motion pictures--United States--History--Sources
  • Publication
  • Women--Sexual behavior

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not available for this record

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)