William Peter Blatty, the novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter most famous for landmark horror film “The Exorcist” as well as the director of two films, “The Ninth Configuration” and “The Exorcist III,” has died. He was 89.
Blatty’s 1970 novel “The Exorcist” remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 57 weeks, and he subsequently adapted it for the 1973 bigscreen version directed by William Friedkin.
Blatty was an experienced screenwriter by the time he wrote the “Exorcist” screenplay. He had worked with Blake Edwards on a number of films: two comedies, “Pink Panther” sequel “A Shot in the Dark” (he and Edwards adapted a play by Harry Kurnitz) and Edwards’ “What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?,” plus “Gunn,” an adaptation of the “Peter Gunn” TV series that he co-wrote with Edwards, and Julie Andrews-Rock Hudson starrer “Darling Lili,” a romantic drama that he also co-penned with Edwards.
Blatty’s other film credits prior to “The Exorcist” were broad political comedy “John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!,” starring Shirley MacLaine and Peter Ustinov, adapted from Blatty’s novel of the same name; Arthur Hiller’s romantic comedy “Promise Her Anything,” with Warren Beatty and Leslie Caron; and comedy Western “The Great Bank Robbery,” with Zero Mostel and Kim Novak.
Blatty was uninvolved in the production of John Boorman’s 1977 sequel “Exorcist II: The Heretic,” which was critically drubbed.
In the late 1970s, however, he had reworked his 1966 novel “Twinkle, Twinkle, ‘Killer’ Kane,” which was republished under the name “The Ninth Configuration,” and he subsequently adapted the material for the bigscreen and directed the 1980 film, a surrealistic thriller centered on a castle in the Pacific Northwest housing insane members of the armed forces and the new officer, played by Stacy Keach, who leads the unit. It failed at the box office but has since attained a cult following.
Blatty’s novel “Legion,” a sequel to “The Exorcist,” was published in 1983, and he adapted the book into the film “The Exorcist III,” which he also directed and produced. “