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

By Laurence G. Avery; Maxwell Anderson | Go to book overview

The criticisms have helped a lot--especially since you and John have somewhat illuminated each other's remarks.

Love to you and Polly. 7

Sincerely, Max

1.
Howard had sent Anderson a letter about Key Largo suggesting that (1) the play's central character, King McCloud, seemed realistic about saving his life in the Prologue but cowardly about it in Act I; (2) at the end McCloud's climactic realization (that one who is afraid to die is dead already) came too fast for its full impact to be felt; and (3) the character of Alegre was insufficiently developed ( June 3, 1939; T).
2.
Burgess Meredith had played the lead in Winterset, and Howard feared that if he also took the lead in Key Largo the similarity of situation in the two plays (two young people vs. the underworld) might be emphasized and Anderson unjustly charged with repeating himself.
3.
Adele Longmire had played Ann Rutledge in Sherwood Abe Lincoln In Illinois, and Howard had suggested her for Alegre in Key Largo as part of an effort to keep promising actors and actresses under contract to the Playwrights' Company. Zita Johann had appeared in a number of plays and motion pictures. In the production of Key Largo Uta Hagen had the part of Alegre.
4.
In a letter of June 3, 1939 (T), Wharton had suggested James Cagney (who first gained attention as an actor with the role of Little Red in Outside Looking In) or John Garfield for the part of Murillo, the gangster in Key Largo. In the production Frederic Tozere had the part.
5.
Wharton had also suggested Margaret Webster as director for Key Largo. Miss Webster had had considerable directorial experience, especially with Shakespeare, Shaw, and Ibsen. Guthrie McClintic directed Key Largo.
6.
Madam, Will You Walk?, a contemporary version of the Faust story with Dr. Brightlee as the Mephistopheles figure.
7.
Howard's wife.

80. TO PAUL MUNI

22506 Roosevelt Highway
Malibu, California
June 24, 1939

Dear Mr. Muni:

This letter will confirm our agreement, made yesterday, that you will play King McCloud in Key Largo for the Playwrights' Company during the 1939-40 season, reporting for rehearsals on or about October first (or somewhere between September twentieth and

-89-

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