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Never-Before-Seen J.D. Salinger Letter: "It isn't at all true that I hate, or dislike, all films"

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood October 2, 2013 at 3:22PM

Shane Salerno, director of popular Weinstein doc "Salinger," has provided a never-before-seen letter to Variety, penned by none other than reclusive author J.D. Salinger himself. In the letter, Salinger refutes the rumor that he hated film and Hollywood
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J.D. Salinger.
J.D. Salinger.

Shane Salerno, director of popular Weinstein doc "Salinger," has provided a never-before-seen letter to Variety, penned by none other than reclusive author J.D. Salinger himself. In the letter, Salinger refutes the rumor that he hated film and Hollywood. According to Salerno, Salinger has admitted he was in correspondence with a number of producers during the high point of his career. He also claims he had interest in adapting a few of his short stories for the screen.

This isn't to say that Salinger had a smooth relationship with Tinsel Town. In 1949, Samuel Goldwyn adapted Salinger's New Yorker story "Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut." Most of Salinger's input was cut from the final film, which received disastrous reviews. So when he published "Catcher in the Rye" two years later in 1951, the legend goes, Salinger was so scarred by his initial bad experience that he wouldn't even pick up the phone, not even for the likes of Billy Wilder. (Jerry Lewis, Steven Spielberg and Harvey Weinstein have also been frustrated by the rights no-go on the classic novel.)

Salerno posits that Salinger's animosity toward film and the business wasn't as intense as previously believed. Check out the letter for yourself, below. (A larger, more readable size can be viewed here.) Salinger writes that he likes certain films "inordinately," but that it's "perfectly accurate to say I have no professional interest whatever in films or stage plays."

In classic Weinstein fashion, the doc "Salinger" (review here) is being adapted into a biopic. Our TOH! poll on who would be best to play the young author is here. (Tom Hiddleston and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are currently reader faves.)

Salinger letter


This article is related to: News, Salinger, Shane Salerno, News


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.