Oscar Brodney

Oscar Brodney (February 18, 1907 – February 12, 2008) was an American lawyer-turned-screenwriter. He is best known for his long association with Universal Studios, where his credits included Harvey, The Glenn Miller Story (1954), several Francis movies and the Tammy series.[1]

Oscar Brodney
Born(1907-02-18)February 18, 1907
DiedFebruary 12, 2008(2008-02-12) (aged 100)
OccupationLawyer and screenwriter


He was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of an immigrant fisherman. One of seven children, a younger brother was the painter Edward Brodney.

Brodney attended both Boston University and Harvard College. He earned a law degree from the latter and became a lawyer. He began writing night club and vaudeville routines as a hobby and became a radio writer.

Early film career

Brodney was working as a "radio idea man" in 1941. He and writing partner Jack Rubin had submitted a number of stories to Hollywood studios and only got polite rejections. They pitched a vehicle for Charles Boyer called Appointment for Love to Universal producer Bruce Manning, who bought the story.[2][3][4]

He and Rubin became writers on Baby Face Morgan (1942) for the Producers Releasing Corporation, Brodney's first credit.[5] He was then assigned to the musical When Johnny Comes Marching Home (1942) at Universal.[6][7] Universal is where Brodney would work for most of his career.

When Johnny Comes Marching Home starred Allan Jones who was in Brodney's next films, Moonlight in Havana (1942) and You're a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith (1943) (he only provided the story of the latter). He did Always a Bridesmaid (1943) with the Andrews Sisters, an original of his; Rhythm of the Islands (1943) with Jane Frazee; and On Stage Everybody(1945).

In 1945 he was reportedly working on a biopic of dance teacher Arthur Murray[8] and Love Takes a Holiday for Joan Davis[9] but neither were made.

Brodney went over to RKO for What a Blonde (1945). Back at Universal he wrote She Wrote the Book (1946); Mexican Hayride (1948) with Abbott and Costello; For the Love of Mary (1948) with Deanna Durbin; and Are You with It? (1948) with Donald O'Connor.

He sold a story to Linda Darnell called Flamenco[10] and Three Cornered Honeymoon for Jack Oakie[11] but these were not made.

RKO used him again for If You Knew Susie (1948) the last movie of Eddie Cantor.[12] At Universal he worked on Yes Sir, That's My Baby (1949) with O'Connor; Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949), doing some uncredited work; The Gal Who Took the West (1949), based on a story he devised with William Bowers; Arctic Manhunt (1949); and Frenchie (1950) with Joel McCrea and Shelley Winters, based on his story.[13]

Brodney was one of several writers on the hugely popular Harvey (1950). He also wrote South Sea Sinner (1950) with Winters; Curtain Call at Cactus Creek (1950) with O'Connor; Comanche Territory (1950) with Maureen O'Hara; and Little Egypt (1951) with Rhonda Fleming.

Universal put him on a Francis sequel, Francis Goes to the Races (1951) with O'Connor.[14] He wroteKatie Did It (1951) with Ann Blyth; Double Crossbones (1951) a pirate comedy with O'Connor; Back at the Front (1952) with Tom Ewell; and Francis Goes to West Point (1952) with O'Connor.[15]

A proposed musical starring O'Connor, Son of Robin Hood, was not made.[16]

Historical films

Brodney began working on more historical material with Scarlet Angel (1952) with Yvonne De Carlo and Rock Hudson. He was nominated for an Oscar for The Glenn Miller Story screenplay which he wrote with Valentine Davies in 1954. That year he signed a two-year contract with the studio, where he had been based since 1942, except for two years during the war.[17]

He wrote Walking My Baby Back Home (1953) and Francis Covers the Big Town (1953) with O'Connor,[18] then returned to history with Sign of the Pagan (1954) with Jeff Chandler; The Black Shield of Falworth (1954) with Tony Curtis; The Spoilers (1955) with Chandler; Lady Godiva of Coventry (1955) with O'Hara; The Purple Mask (1955) with Curtis; and Captain Lightfoot (1955) with Hudson.

He wrote a film No, No Nora which appears to have not been made.[19]

In March 1956 Brodney left Universal. He went to work at RKO on The Great Maestro a biopic of Ben Bernie[20] that was never made.

Brodney began working in TV on shows such as Lux Video Theatre, Casey Jones, General Electric Theater, Schlitz Playhouse of Stars and Studio 57. He continued doing features like A Day of Fury (1956) and Star in the Dust (1956), and had a huge hit with Tammy and the Bachelor (1957) at Universal for producer Ross Hunter.


In the late 1950s he began to produce movies, his first one being When Hell Broke Loose at Paramount in 1958, where he was co-producer. The movie starred Charles Bronson.

He went to England where he produced and co wrote Bobbikins (1959), a vehicle for Max Bygraves at 20th Century Fox.[21] Brodney continued to write for TV on such shows as Death Valley Days, The Alaskans, and Danger Man.

Back in Hollywood he produced a vehicle for Pat Boone, All Hands on Deck (1961), and one for Frankie Vaughan, The Right Approach (1961), both made at Fox.[22]

He returned to Universal as a writer for Tammy Tell Me True (1961) and Tammy and the Doctor (1963). He also wrote The Brass Bottle (1964), I'd Rather Be Rich (1964) with Sandra Dee; and The Sword of Ali Baba (1965).[23] A profile on I'd Rather Be Rich called Brodney "comparatively unsung" in Hollywood.[24]

He wrote a film It Comes Up Love that was meant to be filmed in Britain in 1967 but appears to have never been made.[25]

Later career

Brodney's final credits include episodes of the TV series It Takes a Thief and the British film 1000 Convicts and a Woman (1971) aka Fun and Games.

In 1971, he was working on a biopic of Babe Zaharis.[26] That year, he signed a two-picture deal with Robert Stone to write scripts, including one called Intrigue.[27] Neither of these appear to have been made.

His final credit was Ghost Fever (1987).

Brodney died in 2008, six days before his 101st birthday. Some members of Brodney's family learned of his death through an update to this page, a story which is told in this blog post .[28]



  1. "Oscar Brodney - Biography". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  2. "News From The Talkie Studios". The Adelaide Chronicle. LXXXIII (4, 775). 26 June 1941. p. 35. Retrieved 21 November 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  3. https://search.proquest.com/docview/106113257
  4. https://search.proquest.com/docview/151379210
  5. https://search.proquest.com/docview/165339537
  6. https://search.proquest.com/docview/106393811
  7. "MUSIC IS OUTSTANDING". The Dungog Chronicle: Durham and Gloucester Advertiser. New South Wales, Australia. 15 February 1944. p. 3. Retrieved 21 November 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  8. Hedda Hopper--LOOKING AT HOLLYWOOD Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif], 23 Aug 1945: A2.
  9. https://search.proquest.com/docview/165635518
  10. https://search.proquest.com/docview/165665466
  11. https://search.proquest.com/docview/165736351
  12. "The Art of Putting Over a Gag". The Argus (Melbourne) (32, 048). Victoria, Australia. 21 May 1949. p. 6 (The Argus Week-End Magazine). Retrieved 21 November 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  13. https://search.proquest.com/docview/105844472
  14. https://search.proquest.com/docview/112031153
  15. https://search.proquest.com/docview/105770896
  16. https://search.proquest.com/docview/105792428
  17. https://search.proquest.com/docview/166591990
  18. https://search.proquest.com/docview/112188821
  19. https://search.proquest.com/docview/166519816
  20. Drama: 'Interpol' on Schedule for Wilding; Richards Booming; Elliott Sleuth Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif], 24 Mar 1956: 13.
  21. https://search.proquest.com/docview/114625275
  22. https://search.proquest.com/docview/167662211
  23. https://search.proquest.com/docview/154982852
  24. https://search.proquest.com/docview/115656587
  25. https://search.proquest.com/docview/155891771
  26. https://search.proquest.com/docview/156838847
  27. https://search.proquest.com/docview/156832985
  28. Bruckman, Amy. "The Speed and Accuracy of Wikipedia: A Family Story". Nextbison.wordpress.com. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
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