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Sister Carrie
"A Strangely Strong Novel
in a Queer Milieu"
Curated by Nancy M. Shawcross
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Pennsylvania

The Hollywoodization of Carrie

Pictorial for the Movie Carrie, 1952

Helen Richardson

Helen's screenplay for Sister Carrie

In Dreiser's lifetime an adaptation of Sister Carrie never reached the stage nor the silver screen. Scenarios, scripts, and plans, however, were developed with Dreiser's full knowledge and support. In 1922, for example, Lionel Barrymore telegramed Dreiser about being "enormously interested in possibility of playing Heirstwend [sic] it would make a great play." In the late 1920s Dreiser met the New York theatrical producer, H. S. Kraft, who proposed dramatizing Sister Carrie with Paul Muni as George Hurstwood. Kraft engaged the successful playwright John Howard Lawson, who completed a script. Dreiser, however, rejected his work and the project was abandoned. By 1939 Dreiser was intently seeking to sell the motion picture rights to Sister Carrie. In 1940 they were sold to RKO for $40,000, although it was not until 1952 that a cinematic version was produced--not by RKO--but by Paramount Pictures.

Letter from Joseph Breen to Jack L. Warner, 11 October 1937

Letter to A. Dorian Otvos, 7 February 1939

Letter to Jerome Sackheim and George Yohalem, 15 November 1939

Letter from RKO Radio Pictures, 5 February 1940

Letter to William Lengel, 9 March 1940

Letter from William Lengel, 19 April 1940

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