The Last Word From Minghella, a "Nine" Fade Out

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The day before filmmaker Anthony Minghella went into the hospital from which he would never emerge, he had director Rob Marshall come to London ostensibly to discuss the screenplay of "Nine," according to composer Maury Yeston. "So it was a complete surprise that what he presented to Rob was basically the finished script," Yeston said.

(Warning to the reader: The rest of this blog item contains spoilers about the new film version of the Tony-winning musical.) The 54-year-old Minghella, who won an Oscar for directing "The English Patient" and an Oscar nomination for adapting "The Talented Mr. Ripley," was famous for shepherding other people's projects into finished films — Marshall's "Memoirs of a Geisha," among them — so he was tapped to polish screenwriter Michael Tolkin's first draft of "Nine."

In Tolkin's version, the film ended — as did Fellini's original, "8½" — with its movie director being encircled by the people of his past in a merry saraband on the beach.

"It was Anthony's really brilliant idea," said Tolkin, "to take the scene we had outside and move it inside back to the soundstage so that it could be the movie. The last line in the film — the last word Anthony wrote — was 'Action!' If you have to go, there's no better way to end for a director and writer as talented as Anthony was."

— Harry Haun

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