Screenwriter Ernest Lehman in an undated WGA p.r. photoA great light has gone out. Ernest Lehman, one of my favorite screenwriters, is dead at age 89.

Writing “North by Northwest,” Mr. Lehman tried to put himself in Roger Thornhill’s shoes, often at his peril. To research a scene in which Thornhill is arrested for drunken driving, Mr. Lehman “got a very friendly judge to put me through the whole procedure,” as he told The Los Angeles Times in 2001.

Emboldened, he tried to climb Mount Rushmore, the site of the film’s gripping conclusion. “That was a ridiculous procedure for a screenwriter,” Mr. Lehman said. “Halfway up, I looked down and realized I could be killed if I slipped.”

Here’s a bit of dialogue from North by Northwest, easily the template for the modern action movie.

Those are my initials, R-O-T. Roger O. Thornhill.

What does the O stand for?

Nothing.

Hope I remembered that right.

OBIT: Ernest Lehman Dies – New York Times
FILMOGRAPHY: From IMDb.
AVAILABLE ON DVD: North by Northwest, Sound of Music, Sweet Smell of Success, Westside Story, Portnoy’s Complaint (directed and produced).

Photo source