Like every writer or almost every writer, who goes to Hollywood, I was convinced in the beginning that there must be some discoverable method of working in pictures which would not be completely stultifying to whatever creative talent one might happen to possess. But like others before me I discovered that this was a dream.
John Lee Mahin (1902-1984) was one of the greatest screenwriters. His credits include some of Hollywood’s most enduring classics: Scarface (1932), Red Dust (1932), Bombshell (1933), China Seas (1935), Wife Versus Secretary (1936), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) with uncredited contributions to, among others, A Star is Born (1937), Test Pilot (1938), Gone With the Wind (1939) and The Wizard of Oz (1939). Mahin was director Victor Fleming’s most trusted screenwriter and in one way or another Mahin contributed to nearly every Fleming film.
Mahin understood star power. He instinctively knew that Harlow’s hyper sexuality was best exploited through humor and naughty wisecracks. Thus Red Dust and Bombshell were Harlow’s very best pictures.
Mahin also understood raw male power. And during Hollywood’s golden age, no male star approached Clark Gable’s dominance. Women wanted Gable and men wanted to be Gable.