Faulkner at MGM: 1932-33

William Faulkner worked for more than two decades as a screenwriter in Hollywood, contributing to more than fifty different projects. The details of his studio career are well documented and his major screenplays are widely available. His collaborators included some of the shining lights of the classical Hollywood cinema: Howard Hawks, Joan Crawford, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and others. Yet oddly enough no one has really figured out what to make of his screenwriting.

Is it any good?

Is it important?

Or was it a waste of time and talent?


This site explains a bit what I understand to have occurred during Faulkner’s first Hollywood contract and is based on research done while writing my dissertation. It has been written to be read on-line and has been constructed to allow you to move through it how you wish.

Click what’s interesting. Follow what you’d like to know. The “back” button is your friend. If I’ve done things right, you can’t get lost in a way that will ruin things.

That said, what’s here has limits, so please take a moment to hear what they are.

Getting Started

As a way of getting started, you might jump over and remind yourself of what Faulkner wrote and to see why I think his film career is important. (This chain of links loops back to this page. So give it a whirl before moving on if you want.)

From there, you might take a look at this brief summary of Faulkner’s time at MGM. It will give you some initial historical context, as will this chronology of Faulkner’s MGM screenwriting.

The general overview of organization will give you a global sense of what’s here and will help you jump directly to what interests you.

For those of you accustomed to a thesis driven approach to academic topics, I’ve also provided a topical breakdown of my subject and a detailed summary of my conclusions. There’s no reason you can’t start with the conclusions and, if you find something interesting, click back to see where my thinking comes from.

Unrepentant traditionalists might just want to read my dissertation.