Alan Sharp and From Greenock to Hollywood at the Glasgow Film Theatre

greenock to hollywood

by Dave Manderson

Recently I brought out a book about Alan Sharp, the first to trace his career and life from start to end. It came out in April this year. Shortly afterwards I asked the Glasgow Film Theatre if they’d put on a season of Alan’s films, and now I’m curating four of the Hollywood feature films made of his screenplays at that cinema this month.

Billy Two Hats

From Greenock to Hollywood has already shown The Hired Hand and Ulzana’s Raid. Next Thursday it’s the turn of Billy Two Hats. A week later Night Moves, Alan’s greatest film, will end the season.

night moves

Not Enough People In Scotland Know About Alan Sharp

Not enough people in Scotland know about Alan Sharp today. The adopted son of a Greenock shipyard worker, he taught himself how to write screenplays and wrote five ‘on-spec’ feature film scripts that were made into five films in America in five years, a Hollywood record that still stands.

He worked with some of America’s greatest directors – Arthur Penn, Robert Aldrich and Peter Fonda to name three – and stars like Burt Lancaster, Gene Hackman, Gregory Peck and George C. Scott. He was also a best-selling novelist, writing one of the most controversial books of the nineteen-sixties (banned from Edinburgh public libraries for its sexual content), a leading television playwright in London and later the elder statesman of the new Scottish film industry. Yet today his work has been mostly forgotten.

alan sharp book cover

It was this that made me want to write my book. What happened to him? Why did his work and his extraordinary life fall off the radar? I started to put everything together in 2019. In 2023 the story was finished.

I believe that the From Greenock to Hollywood series is the first sign of a new wave of interest in the work of Sharp and other nineteen-sixties and seventies working-class Scottish writers. Spurred on by the triumph of Alasdair Gray’s Poor Things at the Venice Film Festival, people young and older around the world want to know more about the lives and work of people like Alan Sharp, his playwright brother-in-law Peter McDougall, the much-missed William McIlvanney and the neglected Archie Hind.

I hope you can come along to see these wonderful films in their proper environment, the cinema. Other screenings in Scotland are planned for this and next year.

Dave Manderson, September, 2023

Dave’s book The Anti-hero’s Journey: The Life and Work of Alan Sharp (Peter Lang, 2023) can be found at the Peter Lang website:  Billy Two Hats will be screened on Thursday 21st September, Night Moves on Thursday 28th September. Tickets are available on the GFT bookings site and at the box office.

More about the programme at GFT

SQIFF 2023
The Early films of Hou Hsiao-hsien at GFT

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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