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...)