[ Herman Wouk and the making of the 'Winds of War' television series. ] Eighteen Typed Letters Signed and three Autograph Letters Signed from Wouk to screenwriter Jack Pulman, with copies of Pulman letters, and other material relating to the project.
From the Jack Pulman papers. Pulman's distinguished career is well described on the British Film Institute's website, which descibes the background to this material, although its author us clearly unaware of the increasing tension between Pulman and Wouk revealed by material in the present collection: 'In early 1978 Paramount TV producer Stanley Kallis and author Herman Wouk approached Pulman to write a treatment (to be followed by a screenplay) for Wouk's sweeping World War Two novel 'The Winds of War'. In September 1978 producer-director Dan Curtis (having replaced Kallis) conferred with Pulman on the progress of the treatment; everything was going smoothly. But then, on the 27th May 1979, Pulman suffered a heart attack and died. With Pulman having solved any problems in making the adaptation, Wouk himself completed the screenplay. Produced at a staggering cost of some $40 million, The Winds of War (ABC-TV, 1983) was presented in seven instalments (totalling around 18 hours). Its success led to an even longer sequel, War and Remembrance (ABC-TV, 1988-89). Herman Wouk – the 'American Tolstoy' – won the Pulitzer Prize in for his 1951 novel 'The Caine Mutiny'. His novels 'The Winds of War' (1971) and 'War and Remembrance' (1978) are equally well-known. In 2012 he presented a hundred volumes of journals to the Library of Congress. PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: In orange card folder with 'Winds of War | Correspondence | Bills' in manuscript on the flap. In good condition, lightly-aged. ONE: 21 letters from Wouk to Pulman, totalling 35pp., with ten of those pages in autograph and twenty-four pages typed. Also two Western Union Telegrams from Wouk to Pulman, 23 May 1978 and 2 March 1979. The first two letters are signed 'Herman Wouk', the third 'Herman W.', the rest 'Herman'. There are two pages of autograph historical notes by Pulman on backs of a couple of the letters. (Also present is a fax of a letter from Wouk to director Dan Curtis, praising Pulman and describing the background literature he is sending him.) The letters are written in a warm and enthusiastic style, reflecting Wouk's detailed interest in the production. Topics include: Pulman's capabilities ('I haven't the slightest concern about your putting your hands on my work. Have at it! You did remarkable focussing & dramatizing of “War & Peace,” better than any theatre film version, & “I Claudius” was a triumphant use of the medium.'); Dan Curtis and his reasons for choosing him as director ('a sensitive and not very happy artisan – I could say artist – who feels that he has been wasting himself; that he has been unfairly looked-down on by theatre-film people'); how he went about writing the book ('The way I tackled WINDS, when I got down to it, was to outline the five different “novels” that are intertwined in the work, and plot them against the main historical events. It sounds cold-blooded and schematic; but it was the only way to get control of the monster.'); his satisfaction at their meeting ('I miss your lead and your stimulation in all this. Alone, I find myself ploughing old ground, […] I had a superb sense of accomplishment during our London meetings'); source material ('I'm no longer sure how deeply you want to go into any of this. Nor do I want to hamper your freedom of imagination. Perhaps I work best as I did in London, as a reactor to your blockouts and your probings, when you feel you can use me.'); film versus TV ('I confess that I committed WINDS to television with a feeling of resignation; theatre filming seemed impossible, and I did want the expanded audience that dramatization would surely win. The money was fine, of course, but secondary. I'd actually have gotten more, I think I told you, had I sold it for theatre filming.'); advertising ('the odious commercial interruption problem […] that corrupt defect of American TV'); the relationship between 'The Winds of War' and the novel he is in the process of preparing for publication, 'War and Remembrance' ('“W & R” is the story; Winds is the prologue. That's the truth.'); Jewish composers ('Start up with Wouk on a Jewish theme!'); his decision to lecture at 'one of the good midwestern universities' ('This fits in with a general policy I've adopted of rejoining the human race after some 15 years as a desperately scrawling recluse.'); his work on a 'new book' ('I'm not really happy unless my days are centred around some creative project, preferably a nearly impossible one.') In the first letter (2 December 1977) he praises Pulman, explaining that he has contacted him through the BBC producer Louis Marks, and describes how he is 'in protracted negotiation with Paramount Television and ABC for a serialised adaptation of my novel THE WINDS OF WAR. Whether it will be concluded soon I can't tell, but Paramount is already recruiting staff for the undertaking.' He asks to be allowed to write again when he knows that 'the thing is definitely on; for I would like to suggest you as writer to Paramount, if you can make room for such a large job in your schedule, and if the idea interests you'. In the next letter he is excited by Pulman's 'Incisive, honest, promising' response to director Stanley Kallis: 'The problems you describe are all there. They are the challenges I faced in bringing off the book. | Still, WINDS caught your creative imagination. That's what matters. The book has had a very large audience all around the world. It does work as a story, so it should work in television narrative. | You know your medium. I can't tell you what needs highlighting, what needs elision, to make WINDS play on the screen. But I've been a dramatist of sorts, and I have a personal stake in the eventual quality of your television adaptation. So if I can be of use to you, let me know. Within the limits of my own work, I'd like to give this project whatever I can contribute towards its excellence. If, as I hope, the project will be yours, consider me one more source to draw on.' On 22 August 1978 Wouk sends a four-page letter regarding replacement director Dan Curtis: 'When Diller first proposed Curtis, and we examined his credits and background, our reaction too was negative. […] I sat through three straight hours of derivative film drama. I might well have been bored or disgusted. Instead I was continuously entertained. […] Inside the tough bristling manner, when I got into some hard straight talk with Curtis, I found a sensitive and not very happy artisan – I could say artist – who feels that he has been wasting himself; that he has been unfairly looked-down on by theatre-film people; and that he will at last show his class in WINDS OF WAR, or die trying, so to say. | Many American producers and directors have shied away from this project. They are used to quickie jobs […] James, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Balzac, nothing fazes you. American TV is just starting to dip a toe in that scary sea called literature.' In the last months of Pulman's life Wouk is still expressing excitement regarding the project. On 9 February 1979 he writes: 'you have developed this head of steam on the project […] I am rather on pins and needles to see your block-outs, and regard the WINDS-TV operation as my big thing of 1979, though I've begun writing a new and exciting novel […] your entrance on the scene has made all the difference'. In the final letter, 22 and 26 April 1979 (which should be read in the light of Pulman's letter to Diller, 6 February 1979, below), he expresses concern at the state of Pulman's health, expressing the hope that his recovery will allow him to 'take up the burden again. I've written about two hours of script. Of course Dan & you, or whoever writes the show, will use it only as it fits a grand scheme […] nothing could induce me to adapt my own work. I've told this tale; it feels decidedly queer to be writing the meeting of Natalie & Byron again, a scene I created in 1966.' On resuming the letter on 26 April he writes: 'On my return Dan C. called. “Jack has withdrawn.” […] you have given WINDS the start that I hoped you would. I also hoped you would do it all, & made some efforts to ensure it. […] If you enjoyed our relationship half as much as I did, it may yet go on in some other project. Perhaps you've concluded that a living author is an infernal nuisance you will henceforth avoid! Otherwise I think that several of my books can work well in television'. TWO: Unsigned carbon copies of eight typed letters from Pulman to Wouk, dating from between 8 April 1978 and 20 February 1979, and totalling 15pp. Topics include: remuneration; the production of 'what ABC call “A BIBLE” of the project'; his misgivings ('From the way you and Sarah spoke of Dan Curtis I came home with grave doubts and some foreboding'); the possibility of Fred Brogger as replacement producer; his meetings with Dan Curtis and others in Los Angeles; the historical background; his busy schedule ('Things are piling up here. I'm in the studio with Crime and Punishment, the BBC have dumped several large volumes into my lap with a view to writing eight plays on the six Cleopatras (I only ever thought there was one)'). He begins the final letter, on 20 February 1979: 'Here at last is WINDS OF WAR – all twelve hours of it. It's been a long haul but worth it, I think. It's been a long haul but worth it, I think. I have tried to be as full in describing the scenes as I can within the limits of space and time to ensure that you know exactly where I was going. But, of course, treatments remain treatments and pretty sterile things.' THREE: Photocopy of 'Report on Jack Pulman – Herman Wouk Conferences, November, 1978, London'. 3pp. FOUR: Unsigned carbon copies of six typed letters from Pulman, totalling 10pp. 1978 and 1979. To Barry Diller (2), Stanley Kallis and Dan Curtis (2) and 'Mrs. Ray' of Adams, Ray & Rosenberg of Los Angeles. With signed typed application for a US visa, 5 May 1978. Writing to Barry Diller on 6 February 1979, Pulman gives the other side of the story of his relationship with Wouk: 'For some time I have been placed in the difficult position of dealing with the original author of the material. Since you must have dealt with him contractually, you will have some notion that this has not been the easiest of assignments. Herman is fine and extremely likeable outside the subject of his own work. However, I was never told when I signed contracts with Paramount that he would descend on me in London and stay for a month on the assumption that “we would work together.” Neither, may I add, were his so-called Fidelity Clauses mentioned or sent to me until December 7th of last year when I was already well into the treatment. […] I need hardly tell you – though it is impossible to say so to Herman and I should never have been placed in the position where I might need to – that though WINDS offers a fine opportunity for a great TV serial, it has many weaknesses that simply cannot be reproduced on the screen – one great one being a severe lack of dramatic structure. [Pulman had voiced the same concern to Kallis on 8 February 1978] […] The reason for this letter is that having sent the draft treatment in, I have been phoned by Dan Curtis who not only seems not to know what to make of it all, but conveyed faithfully to me Herman's intense disappointment with the treatment and his complaint that “I don't recognize my book in it.” […] I sense the vibrations already, and although Herman asked for me on this project it is clear that no one could write this project to Herman's satisfaction except Herman himself.[…] I sense the vibrations already, and although Herman asked for me on this project it is clear that no one could write this project to Herman's satisfaction except Herman himself. […] So far, Herman has defended himself and his interest with much ingenuity. I have sympathised – but now I am having to defend my own – and, as I see it, Paramounts'.'') FIVE: Eleven items, 1978 and 1979, including letters to Pulman from Stephen Durbridge, Richard A. Ray, Harriett Golin of Adams, Ray & Rosenberg, and copies of correspondence from Paramount Pictures Corporation and Bari Schwartz. FIVE: Small collection of receipts, with a couple of photocopies.