The noted screenwriter and producer, whose parents were respectively an immigrant rabbi and a Hebrew school teacher, passed on at Cedars Sinai on Sunday at age 89, the day after Yom Kippur ended. He and his wife, Harriet Frank, who survives him, wrote some of the best screenplays of their day set in the then-contemporary American west, including “Hud.”
The over 20 filmed screenplays by Frank and Ravetch weren’t fancy, they were just, for the most part anyway, good. A couple of scenes illustrating that point, one famous, the other less so.
If these scenes are new to you, the first clip is from “Hud” (1963) the second is from “Murphy’s Romance” (1986), Frank and Ravetch’s underrated penultimate filmed screenplay, both directed by another underrated talent, Martin Ritt.
I’m rather fond of this quote from the NYT obituary I linked to above:
“Movies can’t correct human injustice all by themselves, but they can show it, they can touch you while showing it, and they can seed ideas and wake up dormant minds,” Mr. Ravetch said. “For a medium that began — pretty much in my early childhood — as a few flickering images on a nickelodeon machine, that’s pretty powerful stuff.”
One of the finest, most beautiful and purely believable of film actresses has past on at age 84 of lung cancer. She had survived numerous personal tragedies and hardships including the loss of a child, a horrifying accident involving another, a beyond problematic marriage to author Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, etc.) and multiple strokes suffered when she was only 39 years old and pregnant. Despite all of it, she has been consistently outstanding in numerous films and television shows, including three classics that likely wouldn’t have been classics without her, so much depth and believability did she bring to her roles in the “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” “A Face in the Crowd,” and “Hud.”
You could reach much more about her amazing life and her even more amazing skill as an actress via two first-rate remembrances by The Self Styled Siren and Sheila O’Malley, and I really think you should. In the meantime, her’s an example of what I think is probably her finest portrayal, from “Hud,” made only about a year after the death of her daughter. For some reason, her three greatest roles have her being involved in some way with men who were just no good, and this is the most vivid example. Her scene starts at about 5:00 or so.