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Tributes are paid to screenwriter Alan Sharp

Tributes are paid to screenwriter Alan Sharp

TRIBUTES have been paid to the screenwriter Alan Sharp who has passed away at the age of 79.

Born in Scotland, Mr. Sharp had left school at 14 to work in the Greenock shipyards. But he wanted to be a writer and in the early 1960s headed to London to follow his dream, despite already being married with two children.

He published two novels — A Green Tree In Gedde (1965) and The Wind Shifts (1967) — as well as eventually having some of his work accepted by the BBC. One of his scripts was filmed for the Play for Today series in 1970 as The Long Distance Piano Player, starring Ray Davies.

But his future was to be in movies and in Hollywood, although his first film  was to prove far from the best of introductions to the industry. He wrote the screenplay for The Last Run which starred George C. Scott and was released in 1971. 

Filming was carried out in Spain but the production faced behind the scenes problems. Arguments between Scott and the director John Houston eventually led to another director, Richard Fleisher, taking over. Houston had also changed major parts of the original screenplay, but in the end Mr. Sharp’s scripting was clearly identifiable for what was to become his trademark edgy dialogue.

In Hollywood, Mr. Sharp began to build a successful career. His script for The Hired Hand (1971) was taken up by Peter Fonda to make his directional debut.

He then wrote the screenplays for two very successful films — Ulzana’s Raid (1972), starring Burt Lancaster, and Night Moves (1975) which starred Gene Hackman. 

In later years, Mr. Sharp was to say he regarded Ulzana’s Raid as his favourite movie. The film was regarded as being among the first productions to be overtly critical of America’s involvement in Vientnam (see below).

His other film credits include The Osterman Weekend (1983) and Rob Roy (1995) which starred Liam Neeson.

In recent years he had been writing for a number of TV movies and was also involved in scripting the TV mini-series Ben Hur (2010).

Mr. Sharp passed away in Los Angeles following a long illness. 

To view a discussion about Ulzana’s Raid, click here.

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