The New American Dream
Hollywood, aside from being a metonym for the American film industry, has come to symbolize Manifest Destiny and the American Dream. Hollywood also carries an implication of pace; not just of the fast, wild lifestyles that people in the film industry lead, but of the quickness with which dreams are made and just as easily dashed. Despite the high risk, high reward nature of Hollywood, it still epitomizes the rags-to-riches story that America has dubbed the American Dream. In What Makes Sammy Run, Budd Schulberg scathingly represents Hollywood as the perversion of this dream. Schulberg’s Hollywood is an industry driven by the hard-working, honest, talented man, and then exploited by an amoral few. Schulberg criticizes this Hollywood as an industry where success comes only at the price of one’s own moral constitution.
Schulberg uses the relationship between the frighteningly ambitious Sammy Glick and the blindly trusting Julian Blumberg as a microcosm of Hollywood. Sammy continually exploits Julian’s talent and naïveté in order to rise to the top of the Hollywood ladder. Despite the fact that Julian writes the screenplay, Sammy’s name gets the credit title for original screenplay. The narrator, Al Manheim, becomes the voice of Schulberg, as he chides Sammy for this deceit: “The worst it (credit titles) should have been was original story by Sammy Glick and Julian Blumberg preceding the screenplay credit. But there it was, all Sammy Glick, no Julian Blumberg” (99). Sammy disregards Al’s comment, telling him, “it’s a tough break for the kid, but that’s Hollywood” (99). Sammy stating that “it’s Hollywood” indicates that usery and deceit are common practice in Hollywood. Schulberg uses this abusive relationship to represent the greater exploitative structure of Hollywood.
Schulberg also uses Sammy and Julian’s relationship to highlight the unjust monopolization of power in the film industry. After Sammy uses Julian’s screenplay to quickly...