Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Aug 3 01:02:46 UTC 2010

An article in the New York Times cites an article in the  Los Angeles
Times that gives a $600,000 figure for the settlement.

FILM; Hollywood Law: Whose Idea Is It, Anyway?
Published: March 15, 1992
New York Times

begin excerpt
David Ward, for example, who won an Oscar for best original screenplay
for "The Sting" in 1973, was sued by David W. Maurer for plagiarizing
"The Big Con," his 1941 nonfiction book about swindlers. The Los
Angeles Times reported that Universal and Mr. Ward, who admitted using
Mr. Maurer's book as research, settled the case for $600,000.
end excerpt

One of Maurer's obituaries mentions the lawsuit but does not state an
amount for the out of court settlement.

David W. Maurer Is Dead at 75; An Expert on Underworld Slang
June 14, 1981
UPI article at the New York Times website

being excerpt
Dr. Maurer was the author of ''Whiz Mob,'' which dealt with the argot
and behavior of pickpockets, and ''The Big Con,'' a book published in
1940 about confidence men. In 1974 he filed a $10 million lawsuit
charging that the motion picture ''The Sting'' and the book of the
same name had been copied from ''The Big Con.'' The lawsuit was
settled out of court in 1976.
end excerpt


On Mon, Aug 2, 2010 at 8:28 PM, George Thompson <george.thompson at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Maurer
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Back in 1999, Mike Salovesh, whose posts were at one time a welcome part of ADS-L, wrote "I believe that many of the
> underworld words from page 30, col. 2 came from Maurer's work with Federal prisoners at Lexington, Ky.  That's where Maurer collected the language of confidence men, and the fantastic stories that went with it, that appears in his "The Big Con".  (Yes, "The Big Con" is the book Hollywood plagiarized for the plot and the details of "The Sting".)
> I recall further correspondence from Salovesh in which he said that he believed that Maurer did collect some money for the use of his material.  I don't find this bit in the ADS-L archives; I had some private correspondence with Mike, and perhaps I saw it there, but my own email archives only go back to 2001.
> If I recall, Mike had known Maurer.
> George A. Thompson
> Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: ronbutters at
> Date: Monday, August 2, 2010 4:59 pm
> Subject: Maurer
>> the movie THE STING was supposedly based on one of David Maurer's
>> scholarly books. Not sure how such a thing is possible, but that's the
>> prevailing wisdom.
>> ------Original Message------
>> From: Mullins, Bill AMRDEC
>> Sender: ADS-L
>> To: ADS-L
>> ReplyTo: ADS-L
>> Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "the apocryphal HDAS III" (UNCLASSIFIED)
>> Sent: Aug 2, 2010 1:38 PM
>> Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
>> Caveats: NONE
>> > -----Original Message-----
>> > From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On
>> Behalf Of
>> > Robin Hamilton
>> > Sent: Monday, August 02, 2010 11:12 AM
>> > Subject: Re: "the apocryphal HDAS III"
>> >
>> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> ----------------------
>> > -
>> > I've also, belatedly, just discovered the existence of David W.
>> Maurer, who
>> > seems to have published extensively on American slang from the early
>> 30s on.
>> > Know his work at all?  I've flagged it to look at whenever I next get
>> near a
>> > decent library, and ordered_The Big Con_, the only one of his books
>> going
>> > at a price inside my range.
>> >
>> Maurer published a number of interesting articles in_American Speech_,
>> available through JSTOR (and through subscription to the current version
>> in the ADS, I believe).
>> His books build on his research articles.
>> Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
>> Caveats: NONE
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
>> Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list