Oscar-winning 'Chinatown' screenwriter Robert Towne passes away aged 89

Towne came to prominence in the 1970s with three critical and commercial hits released within a 14-month period
Oscar-winning 'Chinatown' screenwriter Robert Towne passes away aged 89

Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Towne has passed away at the age of 89. Towne died at his home in Los Angeles. The news of his death was confirmed by publicist Carrie McClure in a statement.

During a long career that began in the 1960s, when he worked as an actor and writer for B-movie director Roger Corman, Towne became one of the most sought-after script doctors in movie history, frequently called upon to solve structural problems and create great moments for other people’s films, as per media reports.

Towne came to prominence in the 1970s with three critical and commercial hits released within a 14-month period: The Last Detail, Chinatown and Shampoo. All three screenplays were Oscar-nominated, with Chinatown winning in its year.

Oscar-winning 'Chinatown' screenwriter Robert Towne passes away aged 89
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Robert was hired as a “special consultant” by Warren Beatty for 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde. He restructured the picture to dramatise the outlaws’ impending doom and turned an inert family reunion scene with Beatty and Faye Dunaway into one of the picture’s emotional high points.

Clyde’s charming bravado falls flat when Bonnie’s mother responds, “You try to live three miles from me and you won’t live long, honey.” Director Arthur Penn was delighted with Towne’s work. “It helped Warren play the scene, and it certainly helped Faye and the mother,” Penn said.

Though most of Towne’s script doctoring went uncredited for example, in The Parallax View, Marathon Man, The Missouri Breaks and Heaven Can Wait, he received a rare honour in 1973 when The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola thanked him in his Oscar acceptance speech for scripting the touching and pivotal Pacino-Brando garden scene — a scene not in Mario Puzo’s book.

Oscar-winning 'Chinatown' screenwriter Robert Towne passes away aged 89
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