Nunnally Johnson

Nunnally Johnson

writer, producer, director

The son of a railway superintendent, Nunnally Johnson was schooled in Columbus, Georgia, graduating in 1915. He worked for the local newspaper as a delivery boy, became a junior reporter for the Savannah Press and then moved on to New York in 1919. There, his journalistic career really took off, particularly as a principal news reporter for the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Evening Post for which he wrote a humorous weekly column. An exceptionally literate individual, possessed of great wit, he was at his best writing social satire, lampooning conventions. This side of him was well showcased by some fifty short stories he submitted to the Saturday Evening Post and the New Yorker between 1925 and 1932.Stymied in his efforts at writing film critique, Johnson made his way to Hollywood in 1932 and was initially signed by United Artists as a screenwriter. He only stayed a year before joining 20th Century Fox, where he became closely associated with Darryl F. Zanuck, not only in the capacity of writer, but also as associate producer and occasional director. His first contract ran from 1935 to 1942, his second from 1949 to 1963. During the interval, he co-founded International Pictures with independent producer William Goetz but the venture proved to be short-lived. The company was absorbed after less than three years by Universal, Goetz becoming head of production for the expanded Universal-International. Johnson returned to Fox.During his time as a screenwriter, Johnson rarely ever worked in collaboration. Instead he showcased his own original work as well as displaying an innate flair for adapting classic novels into film scripts. Of particular note are his efforts for director John Ford, which included John Steinbeck's Les raisins de la colère (1940), Erskine Caldwell's La route au tabac (1941) and - also as producer/director - the psychological drama Les trois visages d'Eve (1957). Add to that the gangster satire La folle histoire de Roxie Hart (1942), and the brilliantly clever Fritz Lang-directed film noir La Femme au portrait (1944), both of which Johnson also produced. Not confined to any single genre, Johnson applied himself with equal vigour to westerns (La cible humaine (1950)), war films (Le renard du désert (1951)) and comedies (Comment épouser un millionnaire (1953)). His consistently intelligent treatment of such diverse A-grade material made him the highest paid writer in Hollywood.

  • Birthday

    Dec 05, 1897
  • Place of Birth

    Columbus, Georgia, USA

Known For


4 wins & 7 nominations

Walk of Fame
Motion Picture
Winner - Star on the Walk of Fame
Writers Guild of America, USA
Winner - Laurel Award for Screen Writing Achievement
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