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Screen Rights To “Dr. Zhivago” Purchased by Ponti

Apr. 17, 1963 - Screen rights to “Dr. Zhivago,” the controversial, Nobel Prize-winning novel by Boris Pasternak, the late Russian writer, have been purchased for an undisclosed sum by Carlo Ponti, the Italian producer (pictured with his wife, Sophia Loren). The Italian producer said the English-language project would be an expensive one, budgeted “somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million.” Controversy raged over Mr. Pasternak and his novel 2 weeks after he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1958. The Communists at that time changed their minds about him and launched a savage attack on the author. As a result, Mr. Pasternak turned down the Nobel award and remained in his homeland. “Dr. Zhivago” deals with a Moscow physician who exemplifies pre-revolution Russian culture. His personal views and poetry make him a spiritually independent individual. According to Mr. Ponti, Burt Lancaster has expressed “definite interest” in portraying the title role. The producer has also talked with Robert Bolt, the British screenwriter of “Lawrence of Arabia,” about adapting the book.


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