Alvin Sargent, Oscar-Winning Hollywood Screenwriter, Dies at 92


Mr. Sargent played the soldier who tells Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) that his buddy, Pvt. Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra), is being beaten nightly by the brig commander, Fatso (Ernest Borgnine). Mr. Sargent also played one of the victims strafed at Schofield Barracks as enemy planes attacked Pearl Harbor.

Mr. Sargent soon forgot his uncredited role, but not Daniel Taradash’s screenplay, which won an Oscar, one of eight conferred on Fred Zinnemann’s 1953 movie.

In the early 1960s, Mr. Sargent broke into television script writing and created episodes of “Ben Casey,” a hospital series, and “Naked City,” a police drama, both on ABC; “Route 66,” the CBS series; and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,” thrillers on NBC. In 1966, he shared his first screenwriting credit for “Gambit,” about a cat burglar’s escapades, starring Michael Caine.

Mr. Sargent’s screenplay for Paul Newman’s “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” (1972), adapted from Paul Zindel’s Pulitzer Prize play about a widow (Joanne Woodward) and two daughters struggling with poverty and emotional fragility, was warmly received by Stephen Farber in a review in The Times.

“Sargent and Newman have made some miscalculations,” he said, “but they have succeeded in liberating the material from the confines of the stage, and they have intelligently refashioned the play, retaining its best qualities — the insights into character, the strong sense of family — and eliminating some of its melodramatic excesses.”

Late in his career, Mr. Sargent wrote four “Spider-Man” films, devoting years to the Marvel Comics hero who is the alter-ego of Peter Parker, a photographer and aspiring scientist imbued with superhuman powers after being bitten by a radioactive, genetically altered spider. He battles villains like the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Sandman and the Lizard.

Mr. Sargent was uncredited for “Spider-Man” (2002), whose rights were acquired by Sony Pictures Entertainment (Columbia Pictures) with restrictions. But he was credited for “Spider-Man 2” (2004), and with collaborators for “Spider-Man 3” (2007), and “The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012). All were produced by Laura Ziskin, Mr. Sargent’s longtime companion and wife.

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