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Nunnally Johnson scripts

Nunnally Johnson scripts

Descriptive Summary

Title: Nunnally Johnson scripts
Creator: Johnson, Nunnally
Inclusive Dates: 1933-1974
Language(s): English
Extent: 1.75 Linear Feet 5 boxes
Collection Number: ms3845
Repository: Hargrett Library

Collection Description

Historical Note

Nunnally Johnson was born on December 5, 1897. His father worked as a superintendent for the Central of Georgia Railway, and his mother was an activist on the local school board. Johnson grew up and attended school in Columbus, Georgia. In his youth, he delivered on his bicycle the Columbus Enquirer-Sun, attended theatrical productions at the Springer Opera House, and played first base on the high school baseball team. After graduating from Columbus High School in 1915, Johnson worked briefly as a reporter for the Columbus Enquirer-Sun before moving to Savannah to work for the Savannah Press. He continued to visit Columbus annually until his father's death in 1953.

In 1919 Johnson moved to New York City and by the mid-1920s had emerged as one of the city's leading newspapermen, reporting major national events for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1919-25), the New York Herald Tribune (1926), and the New York Evening Post (1927-30). At the Evening Post, he also penned a weekly column of humorous social commentary under the heading "Roving Reporter." From 1925 to 1932 he published some fifty short stories in the Saturday Evening Post and several stories in the New Yorker. These writings were mostly light satirical pieces depicting contemporary manners and mores in New York City and in a fictionalized version of Columbus that he called Riverside. Three of his stories won O. Henry Memorial Awards in the late 1920s.

In 1931 he published a collection of his stories, There Ought to Be a Law. In 1932 Johnson moved to Los Angeles, California, where he worked as a screenwriter for Twentieth Century Fox. Among the dozens of scripts he wrote, he excelled at converting novels into screenplays. His most successful efforts included screenplays for John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and The Moon Is Down (1943); The Keys of the Kingdom (1944) and The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit (1956), both of which starred Gregory Peck; Daphne du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel (1952); and his final screenplay, The Dirty Dozen (1967).

He worked in other genres as well. Among his most popular productions were the musical Rose of Washington Square (1939) and the comedy How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), one of actress Marilyn Monroe's earliest films. By the 1950s he was the highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood. Two of Johnson's most important adaptations were of Georgia-based stories: Erskine Caldwell's Tobacco Road (1941), his third partnership with the director John Ford, and The Three Faces of Eve (1957), based on a true case of a Georgia woman with multiple personality disorder. That film, which Johnson also produced and directed, earned an Academy Award for actress Joanne Woodward, a Thomasville native, in her first starring role. In 2006 the Writers Guilds of America, east and west, named Johnson's adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath on their list of the 101 greatest screenplays. --- New Georgia Encyclopedia. ( Retrieved 1/11/2010.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of Nunnally Johnson's scripts for many different productions. These include a screenplay for The Three Faces of Eve (1956), a playscript for Holly (1966), Henry, Sweet Henry (1967), and a teleplay for The Grapes of Wrath (1974), written by Christopher Knopf and based on Johnson's screenplay for the 1940 film version of John Steinbeck's novel. Holly is an adaptation of Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the collection contains an early draft and final draft of the play. Knopf's version of The Grapes of Wrath was never produced. The Frontiersmen is a first draft for an unproduced film. Two drafts for Alias the Cat were unproduced TV scripts. Scripts for unproduced films Stag at Bay , The Visit (c.1960), The $100,000,000 Snatch, Scuba Duba (1968), The Wandering Jew (1957), and film screenplays for Phone Call from a Stranger (1951), The Moon is Down (1942), My Cousin Rachel (1952), The Keys to the Kingdom (1944), and a copy of executive producer Darryl F. Zanuck's copy of Banjo on my Knee (1936) are also included.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Nunnally Johnson scripts, ms 3845, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared on: 2013.

Related Materials and Subjects

Subject Terms

Capote, Truman, 1924-1984
Johnson, Nunnally
Plays (document genre)
Screenwriters -- Georgia.
Television plays.
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Woodward, Joanne, 1930-

Related Collections in this Repository

Related materials in the Hargrett Library include the Nunnally Johnson letters, ms 3372.

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

11The Three Faces of Eve screenplay, 1956
12Holly playscript, early draft, circa 1966
13Holly playscript, final draft, circa 1966
21Henry, Sweet Henry playscript, 1967
22The Frontiersmen screenplay, 1968
23Alias the Cat screenplays, 1970
24The Grapes of Wrath teleplay, 1974
31Stag at Bay film script, 1964 June
32Stag at Bay play script
41The Visit screenplay, circa 1960
42Phone Call from a Stranger film screenplay, 1951
43The Moon is Down film screenplay, 1942
44My Cousin Rachel film screenplay, 1952
45Banjo on My Knee film screenplay, 1936
46The $100,000,000 Snatch film screenplay
51Scuba Duba film screenplay, 1968
52The Wandering Jew film screenplay, 1957
53The Keys to the Kingdom film screenplay, 1944 January 11
54The Great Rothchilds screenplay, 1933 November 15