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

by Beth Hanna
October 2, 2013 3:22 PM
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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.)

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More: News, Salinger, Shane Salerno, News


  • Brian | October 3, 2013 11:21 AMReply

    Just for the record, the film that was made from Salinger's story, "Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut," was called MY FOOLISH HEART and it starred Susan Hayward and Dana Andrews. I saw it on TV years ago and remember liking it (I've never read the short story). It has a beautiful title song and it features location footage in New York (Washington Square Park) and Brooklyn (Ebbets Field).

    So Jerry Lewis was trying to get "Catcher in the Rye"? Did he want to play the part himself? At what stage in his career? Can we picture him in the part during the peak of his Martin-and-Lewis fame? The mind boggles.

  • Ramesh | October 2, 2013 7:07 PMReply

    unlike salinger's (revised history according to hollywood) I don't dilsike ALL films. only thecurrent crop of scamsters making a poor excuse for films, even with gazillion dollar budgets, mostly because they grew alfafa through the years wall street subsidized them.

    They made bat guano from dame judy dench and ian Mc Kellan(who were their last hope.....)

    now theyre skewered like monitor lizards on a fire in the new mexico wilderness.

  • Chris | October 2, 2013 3:43 PMReply

    Does anyone know what prints he owned or what films he really liked?

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