Novelist and screenwriter Budd Schulberg died yesterday at the age of 95. As the son of a former Paramount Pictures chief, Schulberg grew up steeped in show business, later turning those experiences into the acclaimed 1941 novel What Makes Sammy Run?, which skewers Hollywood and criticizes the ruthlessness of some American businessmen. Schulberg's best-known screenplays—On The Waterfront and A Face In The Crowd—were written in the '50s, after he'd renounced communism and named names before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Schulberg went back-and-forth later in life about whether those scripts were meant to explain his disillusionment with political organizations and demagoguery. As with What Makes Sammy Run? and Schulberg's boxing novel The Harder They Fall, what makes On The Waterfront and A Face In The Crowd such enduring classics is the complexity of the situations they depict. Schulberg strove to record the world as he saw it, as a place where laudable ambition went hand-in-hand with corruption, making it all-but-impossible for a real progressive movement to take root. It's a worldview that applies to the man himself, who accomplished astonishing things, and made more than a few enemies along the way.

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