Dramatist in America: Letters of Maxwell Anderson, 1912-1958

By Laurence G. Avery; Maxwell Anderson | Go to book overview
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SALLIE: No--he isn't there, either.

MIDDLETON: Do you know when I'm grown I'd like to go to war.

SALLIE: Would you, dear?

MIDDLETON: But you wouldn't want me to go, would you?

SALLIE: No--I wouldn't--

MIDDLETON: But I'd go anyway, wouldn't I?

In a vision Sallie sees herself coming to the battlefield long ago, stopped by the sentries and sending William Veal to search the ground. She sees him as he kneels hunting for Edward through the darkness. She sees him carrying Edward from the battlefield. She comes back to herself and looks down at Middleton, who looks up at her.

MIDDLETON: But I'd go anyway, wouldn't I?

SALLIE: Yes, son, you'd go anyway.

This is, of course, a very brief outline, and hardly touches the mass of material which the book contains. But it's as much of an outline as I'd need to work from. I'd like to leave myself free to build the episodes on this sketchy plot as I went along. I think I've suggested one that can be silhouetted clearly against a vast moving background. The more I study the book the more I respect it and the more convinced I am that the story is excellent for a picture and might become one of the most moving ever made.

Sincerely
Maxwell Anderson

1.
Holman (c. 1894- ), a journalist before World War I who later published novels based on motion pictures, in 1932 became head of Paramount Pictures's production staff in New York. In 1932 Paramount released the picture outlined in the present letter, So Red the Rose, written by Anderson and based on Stark Young novel of the same title ( 1934). The novel focuses on two Mississippi families during the Civil War: the Bedfords, headed by Malcolm and his wife Sallie, whose plantation is Portobello; and the McGehees, headed by Hugh and his wife Agnes, whose plantation is Montrose.
2.
In the novel Edward (eighteen) is the son of Hugh and Agnes McGehee, Duncan (twenty-one) the son of Malcolm and Sallie Bedford. Anderson's change reverses the families of the two boys.

-53-

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Dramatist in America: Letters of Maxwell Anderson, 1912-1958
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