David Alan Mamet (born November 30, 1947) is a renowned American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and film director. He was born in Chicago and educated at Goddard College in Vermont. Mamet is currently married to actress Rebecca Pidgeon, who has appeared in many of his plays and films.
Mamet is most famous for his plays, and the film versions thereof, which are frequently adapted by Mamet himself. These works are known best for clever, vulgar, and rapid-fire worldplay. His plays also tend to be written for smaller casts: American Buffalo, Speed-the-Plow, and Boston Marriage, three of his best-known plays, have only three characters each. He has published more than thirty plays over his forty-year career.
Beyond adapting (and often directing) the film versions of his own plays, Mamet has also written and directed original works for the screen, including Ronin (1998) (writer), Spartan (director), and Redbelt (writer and director). He also wrote the adapted screenplay to Brian De Palma's The Untouchables (1987).
In addition to all of this, he has also written a number of books about the film and theatre industries, which are famous in their own right, some the most famous being Bambi Vs. Godzilla, Three Uses of the Knife, and On Directing Film. He even wrote a book on politics, The Secret Knowledge. Mamet has also published four novels, most recently Chicago in 2018.
In 1984, Mamet received the Pulitzer Prize for his most well-known play Glengarry Glen Ross. He received Tony Award nominations for Glengarry Glen Ross and Speed-the-Plow, and Oscar nominations for his screenplays to The Verdict and Wag the Dog.
Mamet's works include:
- American Buffalo
- The Anarchist
- Bobby Gould in Hell
- Boston Marriage
- China Doll
- The Cryptogram
- The Duck Variations
- The Frog Prince
- Glengarry Glen Ross
- A Life in the Theatre
- The Old Neighborhood
- The Poet and the Rent
- Sexual Perversity in Chicago
- The Shawl
- The Squirrels
- The Voysey Inheritance (adaptation)
- The Water Engine
- The Woods
- The Edge (writer)
- Edmond (writer)
- Glengarry Glen Ross (screenplay)
- Hannibal (co-writer)
- Heist (2001) (writer/director)
- Homicide (writer/director)
- House of Games (directorial debut/co-writer with Jonathan Katz)
- The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) (screenplay)
- Things Change (director/co-writer with Shel Silverstein)
- Redbelt (writer/director)
- Ronin (1998) (script doctor)
- The Spanish Prisoner (director)
- Spartan (director)
- State and Main (writer/director)
- The Untouchables (1987) (writer)
- The Verdict (screenplay)
- Wag the Dog (screenplay)
- We're No Angels (1989) (screenplay)
- The Winslow Boy (adapted screenplay/director)
Works by David Mamet that don't have their own pages include examples of:
- The Con:
- House of Games features a psychiatrist getting involved in a world of con men who sometimes perform cons that include many participants. It turns out that her entire experience with the con men has been a giant con on her.
- State and Main: The end reveals that the first trial was actually a fake put on to allow the main character to perjure himself and regret it, allowing him to tell the truth when the real trial starts]].
- Exposition: Mamet is well-known for giving his works characters with complex motivations and inter-personal dynamics. This tendency is summed up in his famous quote about plotting."Every scene should be able to answer three questions. Who wants what from whom? What happens if they don't get it? Why now?"
- The Spanish Prisoner: Everything that's gone on has been a giant con to steal a multimillion-dollar process and pin the theft on the protagonist.
- Rapid-Fire Interrupting: Oleanna, where Carol barely gets to finish a sentence in Act I.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: More cynical, particularly in Glengarry Glen Ross
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Heist is basically this trope extruded out for 90 minutes. Thankfully, all the double-crosses and surprises make sense at the very end.