On The Waterfront

Poster for the 1954 release of On The Waterfront,
written by Budd Schulberg



HOLLYWOOD RENEGADE traces the many lives of Budd Schulberg. The son of Hollywood pioneer B. P. Schulberg, Budd was a young Communist Party member when he was threatened with a Hollywood blacklist in the late 1930s — not for being a Communist but for writing his searing industry expose, What Makes Sammy Run? At the same time that the studios were blackballing him, he turned against the Party when it became clear that its writers, including Budd, would not be permitted artistic freedom either in the US or in the Soviet Union. These early decisions would brand Budd Schulberg as a Hollywood renegade, and force him to leave Los Angeles for two decades. He remained a renegade throughout his long life and career, fighting for social justice and racial equality until the day he died in August 2009, at age 95.

Budd Schulberg is known to millions as the screenwriter of On The Waterfront and as the Communist who turned against the party and “named names.” To his son Benn, he was simply “Dad.”

Shortly before Budd’s death in 2009, Benn plunged into a no-holds-barred exploration of his father’s radical, exhilarating, and tumultuous life, including the harrowing decision he made to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

HOLLYWOOD RENEGADE depicts a son’s search for the truth behind the accolades and epithets that were leveled at Budd Schulberg during his 95 years. Son of Paramount Pictures chief B.P. Schulberg, Budd joked with the Marx Brothers, flirted with Clara Bow, collaborated with F. Scott Fitzgerald, helped organize the Writers Guild, and then, from his insider’s perspective, wrote a scathing Hollywood exposé, What Makes Sammy Run? He compiled evidence for the Nuremberg trial, arrested Leni Riefenstahl, was a confidante of Bobby Kennedy and Muhammad Ali, an eyewitness to the Cuban Revolution, and founder of the Watts Writers Workshop. A member of the Boxing Hall of Fame, Budd was the only man who traded punches with Hemingway, Bogart, Norman Mailer and John Wayne. Fascinating archival footage and commentary from those who knew him yield a moving portrait of the controversial author who stood his ground to the end in his lifelong fight for social justice.

Now in post-production, HOLLYWOOD RENEGADE includes interviews with, among others, Walter Bernstein, Richard Collins, Tony Curtis, Diego Corrales, Joe Goossen, Arthur Laurents, Spike Lee, Victor Navasky, Patricia Neal, Joe Pantoliano, Christopher Plummer, Charles Randolph-Wright, Eva Marie Saint, Richard Schickel, Jerry Stahl, Bert Sugar, and the film’s executive producer Ben Stiller.