by John Ellis
“Nobody knows anything.” William Goldman
As an Oscar winning screenwriter, Goldman, with the quote above, was talking about the mystery of cinema – what makes a movie a success? No one can legitimately say because, “nobody knows anything.” Elaborating further, Goldman added, “Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.”
You would think that a highly feted screenwriter would know exactly what makes for a successful movie, but Goldman was far more honest than many of his peers hawking “how to be a Hollywood success” books. The writer of All the President’s Men, The Princess Bride, and other highly acclaimed films knew that his success was due as much to being in the right place at the right time as it was to his prodigious talent. In the end, there’s no accounting for why one artist reaches the level of broader cultural consciousness and another worthy artist does not.