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The Times (13/Nov/1984) - Obituary: Mr Norman Krasna

(c) The Times (13/Nov/1984)

Mr Norman Krasna

Norman Krasna, the American playwright and screenwriter who won an Oscar in 1943 for the film Princess O'Rourke, died in Los Angeles on November 8 at the age of 75.

A New Yorker by birth, he studied at New York University and Brooklyn Law School and became a film critic and drama editor on various newspapers. He entered the film industry in the publicity department at Warner Brothers but made his early mark in the theatre, having his plays produced on Broadway. He wrote his first screenplay in 1932 and from then on alternated between the stage and cinema, often adapting his plays for the screen. His work during the 1930s included the original stories for two films directed by Fritz Lang, Fury, a classic indictment of the lynch mob, and You and Me, a drama which experimented with the techniques of Bertolt Brecht.

These, however, were untypical. Krasna's characteristic work was in comedy, often on the theme of mistaken identity. One of his first big successes in this vein was Bachelor Mother (1939), with Ginger Rogers, about the parenthood of an abandoned baby. Two years later he wrote Alfred Hitchcock's only excursion into pure comedy, Mr and Mrs Smith, and received an Oscar nomination for The Devil and Miss Jones.

Princess O'Rourke, one of three films which Krasna directed as well as wrote, was a romantic comedy reflecting wartime patriotism with Robert Cummings as a pilot who discovers that his fiancee, Olivia de Havilland, is an exiled princess.

His later films included White Christmas, the Irving Berlin musical with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye; Indiscreet, from his own play, a star vehicle for Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman; and Sunday in New York, also from a stage hit, with Cliff Robertson and Jane Fonda.