script doctor Noun, e.g., The screenplay of “Wolf” (1994) was worked on by three different script doctors.
Definition: A writer hired to revise a script according to the wishes of the star, director, producer and/or studio.
History: Coined in the 1930s after the introduction of talkies to describe playwrights and novelists imported by studios to supply dialogue for screenplays. Soon many of the script doctors would originate the scripts while the doctors would become writers able to transform talking heads into photographical scenes.
Finally filmmakers realized that connecting with audiences intellectually through dialogue—even screenplays written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner or Raymond Chandler—ran a distant third to connecting emotionally through visuals and sound. Which is why screenwriters of big budget movies today are regarded the Winklevoss twins of movie production. And why most script doctors are of the literary variety, called upon to add dialogue and character motivation to scenarios of violence, car chases and explosions.
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