Sunday, June 3, 2007

My Favorite Movies! and what they mean for my books

Everyone says--ooh, do you think Prime Time can be a movie? I can'twait! Who do you want to play to play Charlie McNally—the smart,savvy and sexier than she realizes forty-something TV reporter? Andwho do you want to play the fabulously handsome (and perplexingly)mysterious Josh?When you read Prime Time—let me know!

I'd say, oh Rene Russo forCharlie, or maybe Meg Ryan? And maybe that guy who plays the new James Bond would be a good Josh—now that Gregory Peck is no longeravailable to play the devastatingly handsome (but possibly sinister) potential new man in her life.

It's so tempting to cast any book we read—it's so easy to see just the right actor to play our favorite roles.Maybe it's because I've been a TV reporter for, um, thirty years, I think about every story I write as visual—on a page, you tell a story, on TV you can show it—and the old picture is worth a thousand words chestnut is illustrated perfectly by TV.. and by the movies.

And it's why we so often cant take our eyes off of a moving picture.Especially when we feel so close to the action we're terrified at the suspense, or cry at the end because these are characters whose lives we shared. So in my writing, I try to make whoever is reading—when they open that first page and enter my world—that they're therewith me. Just like in the movies.

My favorites? And how they helped me with writing?

Rear Window—what you might predict is the least cinematic becauseit's basically Jimmy Stewart--who's laid up with a broken leg—and Grace Kelly (has anyone ever been lovelier?) watching with binoculars out the rear window of Jimmy's apartment. They are watching the sinister-looking activities of a suspicious and sneakyRaymond Burr—did he kill his wife? Anyway—somehow it all works perfectly, even in that closed environment. And it illustrates one of the real puzzles for mystery writers like me--how do you handle a big scary climax when your character isn't a cop or a federal agent even anyone who might have a weapon. How do you get rid of the bad guys? By your wits and by using what's around you, is what I learned from Rear Window—do you remember how Jimmy does it? It's fabulous.And it's believable. Oh, you think. That could work.

(And—maybe you don't consider them classics but I do-- My CousinVinnie and Legally Blonde use the same techniques. The unique and quirky knowledge that a character possesses—make them triumph in the end.)

The Philadelphia Story—for proof that hilarious comedy and wry wit and good writing and swoony romance can be spare and slick and classy.

Adam's Rib—the cracklingly wonderful Katherine Hepburn/Spencer Tracymovie where they're husband and wife--but he's the DA and she's the defense attorney in the same murder case. Remember that? A perfect example of how a serious topic—a woman who has a slime of a husband, and how the rule of law is important no matter what the emotion---can be woven in to what might otherwise be just another fun romantic comedy.

Erin Brockovich to show how a tough, devoted woman can win the day with determination and dedication. To Catch a Thief—remember how they showed Cary Grant and Grace Kelly making mad passionate love? Aha! They didn't! But you sure know something was going on. Which teaches me you don't always have to be explicit to be exciting.

Oh—we could chat about this forever! And I know as soon as I post,I'll think of a whole list more. OH! Of course To Kill AMockingbird, for voice alone—the strongest, sweetest most personal and memorable voice in the movies.

But I'd love to hear from you—what movies could you watch a million times? And how do they change your life? Talk to you soon!

Hank(and who wants to guess my real name? It's not Henrietta...)

23 comments:

Dena said...

I could and have watched Dirty Dancing,and Grease more times than I can count.They both made me wish that I was a teenager in the 50s or early 60s. Instead I was a teenager in the late 70s early 80s. A very boring time.
I also love Ever After and Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore.
A few other movies I could watch over and over are The 5th Element with Bruce Willis and 6 Days 7Nights with Harrison Ford.

Patricia W. said...

LOVE AND BASKETBALL (and THE WOOD and a host of other AA growing up tales) because they remind me of growing up in the '70s.

Anything Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, or Cary Grant, or Rock Hudson and Doris Day, because they also remind me of growing up, when I fell in love with old movies because they were romantic and glamorous and fun.

The Harry Potter movies because I do watch them a million times each--with my kids. And they're good (although the books are better).

THE BEST MAN (and other AA romance movies, even if they're not the highest quality stories) because they say there is a market for AA romance (and it's nice to see people who look like me on the big-screen without scenes in the backseat of a police car, behind bars, in an alley, in a crack house, or running around shooting folks in the name of action/adventure.

Stacy S said...

I have watched Wizard of OZ dozens of times. Just love that one. Pretty woman is another.

Peg said...

I loved Bridget Jones (the first one), the Thomas Crown Affair (the remake), All About Eve (Bette Davis at her best!), Now, Voyager (another Bette Davis great), Gone With the Wind, Calendar Girls, Something's Got to Give.
Is Hank short for Hannah? Or a last name given as a first like Hankinson?
Peg C. (a fellow Gup)

Sue A. said...

I still love The Sound of Music. Julie Andrews makes you believe that you too could be a singer if you just had her as a teacher.

Vivi said...

Hi!... This's my first time here and I'm not an english native speaker, so please be patient...
I just CAN'T choose my favourite movie, because it always depends on my mood, or the last one I've watched...

I confess, I just loved romantic ones, is there something more amazing that "live" a love story through the screen???... But, comedies have a special place in my heart, Bridget Jones's diary or Love actually, the english comedies to me are the best ones... And if Colin Firth stars them, it's just more better jejeje...

But, this weekend I went to the theatre to watch Pirates of the Caribbean 3... And... I JUST FALL IN LOVE WITH ORLANDO BLOOM... So, this movie is going to be in my favourites... And the list grows and grows...

Well, I hope I didn't mess up a lot with grammatic's "horror"s

hugs!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Oh, Dena. Dirty Dancing, of course. I could watch it a milliion times. What do we learn? It's an ugly duckling story, right? And what could be better? I'm very partial to those.

And Patricia W--how did they know the steps? Wasn't it great..and didn't we feel like we could just dance away, too? I've never seen Love and Basketball--Netflix, here I come.

Peg C--I wish it were as cool as Hankinson. (GO gups..)

Stacy--I grew up terrified of tornadoes bcause of Wizard of Oz! No kidding! I would watch for them from the back seat of our station
wagon.

And Vivi--welcome! Love Actually is in my top ten favorites. Can't belive I forgot it. From the standpoint of writing skills--doesn't that teach us how to draw storylines together in such a beautiful way? And have you listened to the soundtrack? Wonderful...
Sue--I can't watch S of M without crying.


Lets hear more!
xo Hank

CrystalG said...

The movies I can watch over and over are: Dirty Dancing, National Treasure, Top Gun, and Coyote Ugly.

Cherie J said...

One of my favorite movies is Imitation of Life with Lana Turner. Every time I watch it I have to have a box of kleenex next to me. Talk about a tearjerker. Great for when you need a good cry. I also love pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. Could watch it over and over again.

Peg said...

Now, I'm going to go crazy trying to guess your real name. I'm starting with "H" names. I thought perhaps it would be an Italian name because of Phillippi (one of my dad's best friends was a Frank Phillippi!), but there are apparently no H Italian names! So, how about Helen, Harriet, Hermione, Honora (actually really like that one!)
Peg C.

deseng said...

Oh my favorite movies that I can watch over and over are,

Somethings Got to Give
Pretty Woman
Star Wars (the first one)
Harry Potter (all of them!)
Finding Nemo (the cutest!Loved Ellen Degeneres)
While You Were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock (she is excellent!)
The Wedding Planner (with J.Lo & Matthew M.-he is a dreamboat in this!)
The Pink Panther - the first one with Peter Sellers
The Blues Brothers - Hilarious!

Is your first name Susan, Helen, Annamarie, Raquel, or Jacqueline? I was thinking of names that would sound pretty with the rest of your name.

Maureen said...

I love watching The Family Man, Sweet Home Alabama, The Sound of Music.

Stacy S said...

Now Hank, when are you gonna tell us your name??

bettye griffin said...

I love movies! Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues (just gorgeous photography), What Women Want, Dr. T and the Women, Cinderella Liberty (featuring a young and handsome James Caan in a role very unlike Sonny Corleone the year earlier), plus oldies like Hitchcock's Notorious (the most romantic movie he ever made), and a bunch of much lesser-known movies.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

YAY Peg! You win--it's Harriet. But let's just keep that our little secret, okay?

And thanks, everyone-- I loved all of your movie suggestions. Time to hit my Netflix queue..

xoxo Hank

ChristyJan said...

Some of my favorites that I could watch over and over again are:

Groundhog Day
any of the Harry Potter, Pirates of the Carribean and Shrek movies
Grumpy Old Men

Virginia said...

Dirty Dancing would have to be my all time favorite. It is such a sexy movie with a very sweet love story with it and I just love sweet love stories.

Virginia said...

I would guess Hanks name is Hannah if it is I love the name.

Carol said...

My favorites are

Ghost
Dirty Dancing
Overboard
Grease

foxyllady said...

Sounds like this will be a wonderful read. Just by reading the excerpt I want the book.

foxyllady said...

I love to watch the old movies.
Its a Wonderful Life with James Stewart
Ghost and Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze
Grease with John Travota
I was brought up watching all the old western movies with Glenn Ford, John Wayne, James Stewart and Henry Fonda.

foxyllady said...

The first comment was an accident did a copy and paste and that came up. Had to redo it. sorry.

tam said...

My favorites are:
All the Harry Potter movies
Dirty Dancing
Somewhere In Time with Christopher Reeve
Bed Of Roses
Secondhand Lions
Sleepless in Seattle
The Notebook
The Secret Garden

There are just so many I love watching over & over again I just can't list them all.