F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story ‘‘Crazy Sunday’’ is the story of a young screenwriter and his personal and professional difficulties in the complex Hollywood film industry. Intent on impressing the elite in his industry, Joel instead finds himself ensnared in the personal problems of a high-profile couple. The story was originally published in a magazine called American Mercury in October 1932. Fitzgerald included it in his final collection of short stories, 1935’s Taps at Reveille.
Joel Coles, the main character, is based on Fitzgerald himself, and Joel’s embarrassment at Miles Calman’s party is autobiographical. At a party hosted by Hollywood producer Irving Thalberg and his wife, actress Norma Shearer, Fitzgerald had too much to drink and was booed after performing a song he meant to be humorous but which was actually juvenile and in bad taste. Rather than hide this humiliating moment in the recesses of his memory, Fitzgerald turned it over to his imagination, and it became ‘‘Crazy Sunday.’’ The story was turned down for publication from a number of magazines for various reasons, including its ending, length, characters, and sexual content, but Fitzgerald refused to revise the story just to please magazine editors. Ultimately, American Mercury bought it intact for two hundred dollars.