Robert E. Sherwood was born Robert Emmet Sherwood (he was descended from a long line of illustrious "Emmets", which is no doubt why he always included his middle initial) in New Rochelle, New York in 1896. He grew to be a huge man for the time, 6' 8". He graduated from Harvard, and then fought for Canada in World War I, and after, he became a movie critic for several of the top magazines of the day. In 1919, he joined many of the top writers of that time in the first Algonquin Round Table, a daily lunch meeting at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919 until 1929. Those who attended regularly included Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman, and many other top critics, authors, and playwrights of the day. In 1924, he started writing movie subtitles for silent movies, and in 1927, he wrote his first play, The Road to Rome, which was a huge success, and was adapted into a movie, The Private Life of Helen of Troy. In 1931, a film was made of Sherwood's play, Waterloo Bridge, and from that point on, he stayed incredibly busy for the next 15 years. Some of the highlights of his remarkable career include the screenplays for Roman Scandals, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Adventures of Marco Polo, Idiot's Delight, and Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca, as well as film adaptations of his other plays including The Petrified Forest and Abe Lincoln in Illinois. In 1940, Sherwood, who had been against U.S. involvement in WWII, changed his view and wrote a play There Shall Be No Night, and that led to his being hired as a speechwriter for President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the entire time of the war (and he later wrote a book about doing this, which won a Pulitzer Prize!). Immediately after the war, he showed he had lost none of his abilities during the time he spent away from movies, for he wrote his best screenplay ever, for The Best Years of Our Lives (and he won an Oscar for it), and two years later he helped write the screenplay for The Bishop's Wife. Watch the movies that Sherwood wrote (or which were based on his plays) and I think you can immediately see what is most wrong with today's movies. So many movies today have loose plots with characters and ideas that come and go and are not tied up or interwoven into a single coherent script that engages the viewer and leaves you in awe of the person who was able to conceive it! I don't think the problem is that there are not writers of great talent today, but rather that they are not working in Hollywood as screenwriters! Sherwood passed away in 1955 at the age of 59.
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