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Whose Script?

April 07, 1990

Re Sheila Benson's March 23 review of "Pretty Woman":

While her review was on the money concerning the film itself, I am troubled that she seems to lay much of the blame on J.F. Lawton, the writer. He does not deserve it. As a reader for an independent producer, I read his original screenplay about a year ago; it was an excellent script.

In a trade newspaper article about how his story had been changed by director Garry Marshall and Touchstone Pictures, Lawton himself mourned, saying he had originally written an "anti-Cinderella story" in which a self-reliant hooker is used for a week by a ruthless businessman; after tasting the good life and falling in love with her Prince Charming, she is left, screaming with rage, when he dumps her back on the street.

I realize a critic's job is to judge the finished product, and, as I said, I think Benson wrote a good review. But I wish that she and other critics would, instead of assuming a poor job on the part of the screenwriter, give some attention to how excellent scripts are often ruined by misdirection and the insidious pressure from the studios always to have a happy ending.

No doubt Mr. Lawton is thrilled to have his script produced, as any writer would be. It's just too bad that it isn't his script anymore.

ROBIN RUSSIN, Los Angeles

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