A.B. Guthrie Jr., 90, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Western novelist who wrote the screenplay of the George Stevens classic “Shane,” died April 26 near Choteau, Mont.
Born in Indiana but raised in Montana, Guthrie was a newspaperman on the Lexington, Ky., Leader from 1926 until the success of his first novel, “The Big Sky” (1947), allowed him to alternate teaching and fiction writing.
His second novel, “The Way West,” published in 1949, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1950. “These Thousand Hills” followed in 1956.
Howard Hawks filmed “The Big Sky” in 1952 with Kirk Douglas in the lead. Less successful film versions were made of “The Way West” in 1967 and “These Thousand Hills” in 1959.
His other historical novels were “Arfive” (1970), “The Last Valley” (1975) and “Fair Land, Fair Land” (1982). He also wrote mystery novels with a Western setting; the latest was “Murder In The Cotswolds” in 1989.
Guthrie, who was not fond of the films based on his books, was lured into screenwriting by Stevens and received an Academy Award nomination for the 1953 “Shane,” with Jack Sher receiving additional dialog credit.
Guthrie also adapted Felix Holt’s novel “The Gabriel Horn” into “The Kentuckian,” a 1955 Western.