Hugh Stanislaus Stange (1894–1966) was an American playwright and screenwriter known for what was once described as a "drab realism" in melodramas and crime stories in the 1920s and 1930s. Several of his plays were adapted for the cinema.
Hugh Stanislaus Stange
|Born||June 28, 1894|
|Died||January 1966 (aged 71)|
Tin Pan Alley
Born in New York, Stange was the son of the Broadway musical-theatre writer and director Stanislaus Stange. Hugh followed in his father's footsteps, creating and adapting works for the popular theatre. From 1917, he served in the army in World War I. During his military service, he helped to put on entertainments.
By the 1920s, Stange was increasingly interested in social realism. According to Theatre Magazine, Stange's plays at this time were influenced by the early work of Eugene O'Neill. His play Tin Pan Alley (1924) was a melodrama about infidelity among theatre folk. It was adapted in 1929 as the film New York Nights, starring Norma Talmadge, The play was updated and filmed a second time in 1984, with Corinne Wahl in the lead role.
Similar themes were explored in Veneer (1929), the story of a naive girl who falls for a man with confident veneer, but who turns out to be a worthless braggart. It has been described as a "well-written, if downbeat, slice of New York life". Joanna Roos and Henry Hull took the leading roles; Spencer Tracy replaced Hull later in the run. This was also adapted for film, as Young Bride, starring Helen Twelvetrees.
In 1930 he wrote and produced The Long Road, about a soldier in World War I whose wife has a child by another man while he is fighting in France. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle lamented the solemnity of the play, writing that "Mr. Stange writes with a face a yard long...The play is a rather sickening display of affected fine feeling". In the following year he collaborated with John Golden on After Tomorrow, about a young couple whose marriage is repeatedly delayed. Stange had written the original draft as a tragedy, but Golden gave it a more upbeat character. Knowing Stange's work, the reviewer in Outlook and Independent magazine suspected that before Golden had livened it up, the play would have been "terribly terribly sincere with little if any humour to lighten its drab realism". This play was also later filmed. False Dreams, Farewell (1933) was a portmanteau drama in the manner of Grand Hotel, set on board a Titanic-like cruise-liner that was destined to sink on its maiden voyage.
Stange also wrote a number of crime-based dramas including Fogbound and Headquarters (subtitled "the dramatization of the hidden police records in a famous crime"). Mother Sings (1935) was a drama that prefigures Psycho, portraying the lurid story of a boy who grows up to be a murderer after being psychologically poisoned against women by his deranged mother.
Hugh is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.
- Gerald Martin Bordman, Thomas S. Hischak, The Oxford companion to American theatre, Oxford University Press, 2004, p.558.
- Theatre Magazine, Volumes 45-46, The Theatre Magazine Company, 1927, p.26.
- American Film Institute, The American Film Institute catalog of ion pictures produced in the United States, Part 1, University of California Press, 1997, p.542.
- Romano Tozzi, Spencer Tracy, Pyramid Publications, p.22.
- Arthur Pollock, "The Long Road opens", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 10, 1932, p.32.
- Outlook and Independent, Volume 159, The Outlook Company, 1 Jan 1931, p.55.
- Gerald Martin Bordman, American theatre: a chronicle of comedy and drama, 1930-1969, Volume 3, Oxford University Press, 1996, p.125.