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Joel Coen

'Bridge of Spies' screenwriter wanted to take James Donovan from footnote to big screen

History owes a lot to footnotes. In coming up with the script for "Bridge of Spies," I do too.

I was reading a biography of JFK by Robert Dallek, "An Unfinished Life," and in a section on Cuba, he described Kennedy's attempts to secure the return of more than 1,000 U.S.-backed invaders who'd been captured after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Kennedy decided to send a guy named James Donovan to negotiate with Fidel Castro. Donovan wasn't from the State Department or CIA. He was a civilian, an insurance lawyer. Why send him?

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