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William Peter Blatty 01/07/28-01/12/17

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The death has taken place of screenwriter and author William Peter Blatty, best known  for the (based-on-fact) novel, The Exorcist, and therefore responsible for haunting the minds of millions (13 million copies sold in the US alone).  He came from a relatively impoverished background but earned an English degree at Georgetown which is where he learned of the exorcism that so inspired him 20 years later.  He won $10,000 on Groucho Marx’s TV show You Bet Your Life, a windfall that allowed him to pursue writing as a career and his novels were the bases of films which he adapted for the screen. He honed his craft in movies mostly at the behest of Blake Edwards (killer dialogue!) but of course it was the adaptation of his 1971 book that brought him into everyone’s home. He was awarded the Oscar for his work on the Friedkin film, the first horror movie to be nominated for Best Picture. He would go on to direct films himself, including the wonderfully crazy The Ninth Configuration aka Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane and he wrote a sequel to The Exorcist called Legion which became another directing outing, The Exorcist III.  It followed what is widely agreed to be what Mark Kermode calls the worst film ever made, Exorcist II:  The Heretic, which William Friedkin also described as the product of a demented mind, that of director/writer John Boorman. Blatty was an elegant, funny, smart writer who is responsible for terrifying us all, but in the right way. Rest in peace.

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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