INTERVIEWER: Can working for the movies hurt your own writing?
FAULKNER: Nothing can injure a man’s writing if he’s a firstrate writer. If a man is not a first-rate writer, there’s not anything can help it much. The problem does not apply if he is not first rate, because he has already sold his soul for a swimming pool.
INTERVIEWER: Does a writer compromise in writing for the movies?
FAULKNER: Always, because a moving picture is by its nature a collaboration, and any collaboration is compromise because that is what the word means—to give and to take.
INTERVIEWER: Which actors do you like to work with most?
FAULKNER: Humphrey Bogart is the one I’ve worked with best. He and I worked together in To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep.1
INTERVIEWER: Would you like to make another movie?
FAULKNER: Yes, I would like to make one of George Orwell’s 1984.2 I have an idea for an ending which would prove the thesis I’m always hammering at: that man is indestructible because of his simple will to freedom.
INTERVIEWER: How do you get the best results in working for the movies?
FAULKNER: The moving-picture work of my own which seemed best to me was done by the actors and the writer throwing the script away and inventing the scene in actual rehearsal just before the camera turned. If I didn’t take, or feel I was capable of taking, motion-picture work seriously, out of simple honesty to motion pictures and myself too, I would not have tried. But I know now that I will never be a good motion-picture writer; so that work will never have the urgency for me which my own medium has.
From Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, edited by Malcolm Cowley. Copyright © 1957, 1958 by The Paris Review, Inc. Reprinted by permission of The Viking Press, Inc. Title supplied.
1.Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not (1944) directed by Howard Hawks; other film versions were made: in 1951 (The Breaking Point), and in 1958 (The Gun Runners); The Big Sleep (1946) was directed by Howard Hawks.
2.1984 (1956) was directed by Michael Anderson; the screenplay by William P. Templeton and Ralph Bettinson.