Bernard Shaw, Frank Harris & Oscar Wilde

By Robert Harborough Sherard | Go to book overview

IV
OSCAR ON THE PICTURES

THAT Harris's interest in Wilde and his pitiful life-story was— in spite of his professions of love and admiration for the unhappy man—solely and exclusively prompted by the consideration of the pecuniary advantage which he could derive from an exploitation of the Wilde scandal, and that his fabrication of confessions on the part of Wilde had no other motive, must surely have been patent to Shaw when he sat down to read The Life and Confessions.

I have not read Harris's book about Bernard Shaw either in the British or more complete American edition, and so I do not know if the story of how Harris tried to interest Shaw in a film about "Oscar and his Career" has already been publicly recorded.I came upon it in a cutting from the Detroit (Mich.) Free Press which was sent me by The International Press‐ cutting Agency, who were sending me all notices of the "Unauthorized Biography O.K.'d by G.B.S." I have seen no reference to this deplorable project elsewhere.Here it is in its squalor:

... Nevertheless he apparently schemed deliberately to use Shaw and Shaw's popularity as the peg on which to hang a last success.He tried it once when he attempted to interest producers in a film based on the career of Oscar Wilde.The producers wanted Shaw to co-operate with Harris.They would not accept the venture unless Shaw consented. Harris cabled Shaw an offer of 3,000 dollars.Shaw leisurely wrote back, refusing. "I can," he said, "by lifting my finger get 50,000 dollars for an Oscar Wilde film by Bernard Shaw or with the name of Bernard Shaw in the advertisement of it. ...

( Detroit Free Press, Nov. 29th, 1931)

-38-

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