A separate cinema: The screenplays of Robert Towne, Richard Price, and Quentin Tarantino

Robert Paul Arnett

Abstract

The field of film study often overlooks the screenplay. This study attempts to rectify that mistake by establishing a need for research regarding the screenplay, arguing that the screenplay can make a valuable contribution to the critical, analytical, and historical research of cinema, and demonstrate that the screenwriter can create a body of work that is a unique cinematic vision in the form of the screenplay. To arrive at these objectives, the study begins with an introductory chapter concerning the issues facing the screenplay. The second chapter traces the historical periods of cinema and accounts for the research devoted to the screenwriters of each period. The areas receiving little or no attention are most in need of critical, analytical, and historical research. This chapter concludes with an assertion that the modern era is one of the periods most in need of critical attention, and that the following chapters, devoted to individual writers, constitute a beginning in fulfilling that need. Chapter III examines the screenplays of Robert Towne. His work breaks into two clear divisions: screenplays about a hero in a world other than their own and screenplays about a hero who is a master of his own unique world. Chapter IV examines the screenplays of Richard Price. One may also categorize Price's work into two thematic groups. The first group of screenplays portray a single hero. The second group depicts stories with dual heroes. Chapter V reviews the screenplays of Quentin Tarantino. Unlike the works of Towne and Price, Tarantino's work forms a coherent whole in which a clear progression in experimentation with narrative structure is evident. The final chapter, Chapter VI, is a conclusion, which summarizes the major ideas gleaned from examining the works of the modern screenwriters.