Charles Schnee (6 August 1916 Bridgeport, Connecticut - 29 November 1963 Beverly Hills, California) gave up law to become a screenwriter in the mid-1940s, crafting scripts for the classic Westerns Red River (1948) and The Furies (1950), the social melodrama They Live By Night (1949), and the cynical Hollywood saga The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), for which he won an Academy Award.
- For the American producer (1920-2009), see Charles Schneer.
He was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut and graduated from Yale in 1936. He studied law for the next three years and practised law in Massachusetts. He was writing plays and a play Apology had a run in 1943 with Elissa Landi.
Schnee came to Hollywood in 1945. He did some writing on From This Day Forward (1946) at RKO and was credited on Cross My Heart (1946) at Paramount. He sold Angel Face to Paramount for $25,000 and stayed at Paramount to write I Walk Alone (1947) for Hal Wallis which was a success and really helped establish him.
Schnee went back to RKO, then under Dore Schary, and worked with director Nicholas Ray and producer John Houseman on They Live by Night (1948). Howard Hawks hired him to work on the script for Red River (1948), which quickly became established as a classic.
Schnee wrote a comedy, When in Rome (1952) which was a flop then did The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) for Houseman and director Vincente Minelli which was a critical and commercial success. Schnee won an Oscar for this script and Schary promoted him to producer.
Producer at MGM
In January 1952 Dore Schary of MGM announced the formation of a new production unit under the supervision of Charles Schnee. The idea was to make ten to fifteen films a year with budgets under $500,000 to absorb studio overhead.
The unit included several sons of executives who had helped establish MGM, Matthew Raft (son of Harry Rapf), Arthur Loew (son of Marcus Loew), and Sidney Franklin Jnr (son of Sidney Franklin). Other producers were Hayes Goetz, Henry Berman (brother of Pandro S. Berman) and Sol Fielding.
Schnee was the uncredited producer on Rogue's March (1952) with Peter Lawford, which lost money, and Jeopardy (1953), which earned MGM a profit. He produced a Joan Crawford vehicle, Torch Song (1953),
In September 1953, his unit was disbanded and he was assigned producer on Bad Day at Black Rock but the production ceased in November. He next made a Biblical movie, The Prodigal (1955) which was a fiasco.
Schnee enjoyed more success with Trial (1955) starring Glenn Ford and especially Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) with Paul Newman and Rocky Graziano, both popular movies that were critically acclaimed.
Schnee produced The Wings of Eagles (1957), a biopic of Spig Wead starring John Wayne directed by John Ford. He produced a crime film, House of Numbers (1957) and Until They Sail (1957), the latter reuniting him with the star and director of Somebody Up There Likes Me. He produce Party Girl (1958) for Nicholas Ray at MGM.
Attempt to Be Independent Producer
He left MGM and setup as an independent producer at Columbia. He announced Company of Cowards with Hugh O'Brian, an adaptation of The Tiger Among Us by Leigh Brackett and was going to do an original screenplay Atom and Eva. He was also going to make The Image Makers with Clark Gable. None of the films were made apart from Tiger which would be produced by others years later as 13 West Street. Schnee returned to screenwriting.
Return to Screenwriting
In 1961 he was president of the Writers Guild of America, West.
As "John Dennis" he wrote By Love Possessed (1961), then he was reunited with the star, producer and director of The Bad and the Beautiful with Two Weeks in Another Town (1962), a critical and commercial disappointment. He wrote a draft of The List of Adrian Messenger (1963).
- CHARLES SCHNEE, WROTE FOR FILMS. (1962, Nov 30). New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/115776443
- (1946, Dec 09). 'ANGEL FACE' LISTED FOR MISS GODDARD. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/107545282
- By THOMAS F BRADY (1949, Jan 03). METRO LISTS CAST FOR JOHNSON FILM. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/105821357
- By THOMAS F BRADY (1949, Jun 01). ROBERT RYAN GETS LEAD IN RKO FILM. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/105839710
- By THOMAS F BRADY (1949, Aug 05). DICK POWELL GETS NEW METRO ROLE. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/105784900
- Fairbanks Will Make Episode Film; Schary Boosts Young Producers Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 30 Jan 1952: A7.
- mr. film noir stays at the table Silver, Alain. Film Comment; New York Vol. 8, Iss. 1, (Spring 1972): 14-23.
- "Disband Schnee Unit". Variety. September 16, 1953. p. 2. Retrieved October 6, 2019 – via Archive.org.
- Bad Day At Black Rock at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Pryor, Thomas M. (12 Sep 1954). "HOLLYWOOD CYCLE: Five Films on Biblical Subjects Keep Industry Wheels Turning -- Addenda". New York Times. p. X5.
- Schallert, E. (1956, Aug 13). Angeli, newman may be reteamed; japanese boy gets stellar role. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/166975857
- (1957, Aug 19). FILM ROLE GIVEN TO CYD CHARISSE. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/114197207
- Hopper, H. (1957, Feb 27). O'brian will star in civil war story. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/167043271
- By THOMAS M PRYOR (1957, Oct 04). SGHNEE TO FILM 'TIGER AMONG US'. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/114329604
- FILM EVENTS. (1958, Mar 14). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/167222173
- By OSCAR GODBOUT (1958, Aug 21). GABLE MAY STAR IN 'IMAGE MAKERS'. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/114366009
- (1958, May 21). From Hollywood. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/114450910
- Charles schnee, film writer, producer, dies. (1962, Nov 30). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/168193175