Five Came Back

Culver City, CA: RKO Radio Pictures, 1939. Estimating script for the 1939 film.

In his 1970 biography of Nathanael West, Jay Martin notes: "On June 6, 1938 [West] was hired for his 'established' salary of $350 a week by RKO Pictures—the first of five major studios to employ him—to make a screenplay from an original story by Richard Carroll. Putting everything else aside, within a week he outlined his plans for treating the material. He fretted all weekend over whether the outline would be accepted, knowing that he could be out of a job again on Monday.

On late [Monday] afternoon he was persuaded to telephone the executive producer, Lee Marcus, who told him to go ahead at once to the screenplay. Only July 20, West finished a first draft for what would be one of his most successful films. After eight weeks in all, having polished his script, West was released by RKO.

[At this point,] it appeared that [West] had a good chance to earn a single credit for this high budget, B-quality movie, but the studio called in a hack writer, Jerry Cady, to polish West's script. After Cady's work on it proved unsatisfactory, Dalton Trumbo came in to do a revision before the film went into production. Trumbo eliminated most of the revisions made by Cady, restored some of West's material, and made still other alterations. By this time, West had returned to New York, and although his secretary demanded that he ask the guild to arbitrate the credits, he appeared indifferent and nearly missed getting any screen credit at all."

An aerial melodrama about nine passengers on a commercial flight from Los Angeles to Panama City who crash-land in the Amazon rainforest. The production helped launch the career of a then-unknown Lucille Ball, and paved the way for later disaster epics of the 1970s as well as the popular television sitcom "Gilligan's Island."

Set in Los Angeles and the Amazon rainforest.

Green titled wrappers, stamped ESTIMATING DRAFT on the front wrapper, dated March 15, 1939, with credits for screenwriters Jerry Cady and Dalton Trumbo. Title page integral with the first page of text. 133 leaves, with last page of text numbered 133. Carbon typescript on yellow onionskin stock. Pages and wrapper Near Fine, bound with three gold brads.


[Book #152589]

Price: $2,750.00