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Veiller, Anthony

VEILLER, Anthony

Writer and Producer. Nationality: American. Born: New York City, 23 June 1903. Education: Attended Antioch College, Ohio; Union College, New York. Family: Son of the writer and director Bayard Veiller. Married; two children and one step-child. Career: 1925–30—reporter, publicist, and theater manager; 1932—first film as writer, Breach of Promise; then writer for RKO and other studios; 1942–45—writer for the Why We Fight series for the Office of War Information; 1949–52—worked mainly as producer. Award: Academy Award for Stage Door, 1937. Died: Of cancer, 27 June 1965.

Films as Writer:


Breach of Promise (Stein)


The Notorious Sophie Lang (Murphy)


Jalna (Cromwell); Break of Hearts (Moeller); Star of Midnight (Roberts); Seven Keys to Baldpate (Hamilton and Killy)


The Lady Consents (Roberts); A Woman Rebels (Sandrich); The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (Roberts); Winterset (Santell)


The Soldier and the Lady (Michael Strogoff) (Nichols); Stage Door (La Cava); The Woman I Love (Litvak)


Radio City Revels (Stoloff)


Let Us Live (Brahm); Disputed Passage (Borzage); Barricade (Ratoff)


Her Cardboard Lover (Cukor); Prelude to War (Why We Fight series) (Capra—doc)


Assignment in Brittany (Conway); The Nazis Strike (Why We Fight series) (Capra and Litvak—doc) (+ co-narration);Divide and Conquer (Why We Fight series) (Capra and Litvak—doc); The Battle of Britain (Why We Fight series) (+ d + co-narration—doc)


The Battle of Russia (Why We Fight series) (Litvak—doc) (+ co-narration); The Battle of China (Why We Fight series) (Litvak and Capra—doc) (+ co-narration); Tunisian Victory (Capra—doc)


Adventure (Fleming); War Comes to America (Why We Fight series) (Litvak—doc) (+ co-narration)


The Killers (Siodmak); The Stranger (Welles)


State of the Union (Capra)


Moulin Rouge (Huston)


That Lady (Young)


Safari (Young)


Monkey on My Back (de Toth)


Timbuktu (Tourneur); Solomon and Sheba (K. Vidor)


The List of Adrian Messenger (Huston)


The Night of the Iguana (Huston)

Films as Producer:


Victory (Cromwell)


Colorado Territory (Walsh); Backfire (Sherman)


Chain Lightning (Heisler); Along the Great Divide (Walsh)


Dallas (Heisler); Force of Arms (Curtiz)


Red Planet Mars (Horner) (+ co-sc)


On VEILLER: book—

Bohn, Theodore Thomas, An Historical and Descriptive Analysis of the "Why We Fight" Series, New York, 1977.

On VEILLER: article—

Slater, Thomas, in American Screenwriters, 2nd series, edited by Randall Clark, Detroit, Michigan, 1986.

* * *

The screenwriting career of Anthony Veiller reached its peak near the end of his career. Indeed, his final two screenplays, both for the director John Huston, probably represent his best known and best crafted: The List of Adrian Messenger and The Night of the Iguana. But Veiller did have a long and fruitful career prior to these two successes, one which spanned the Golden Age of the Hollywood studio system.

Unlike many of his generation, Veiller was born into the movie business. His father, Bayard, was a modestly successful director and screenwriter in the silent era. Once his father settled in Hollywood in the early 1930s, he brought his son in on several projects for Paramount and MGM. Having completed his brief apprenticeship, the son moved to Poverty Row with RKO, writing two or three screenplays per year. Few would care to remember the titles, save two which starred Katharine Hepburn in the early part of her career, Break of Hearts and A Woman Rebels.

During the Second World War, Veiller joined Frank Capra's documentary unit and he worked on several of the Why We Fight series. This work must have helped Veiller deal with the Hollywood studio system, for after the war he had the first of his two successful creative periods. The Stranger is now considered one of Orson Welles's minor classics. The Killers, a film noir starring Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner, was directed by Robert Siodmak and earned Veiller an Academy Award nomination. In 1948 Veiller turned to work with his buddy from the Why We Fight series, Frank Capra. State of the Union was not Capra's best, but it did well enough at the box office. Veiller then worked as a producer, and returned to writing only in 1952, but his films of the 1950s lack the power or impact of the three efforts which came after the Second World War. It took an alliance during the 1960s with John Huston to revitalize Veiller's writing career. It was a shame that he died in 1965, for Huston and he had just begun The Man Who Would Be King.

—Douglas Gomery

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