A Writer Writes


Right after I decided to make this blog just me talking ’bout movies – I started to get submissions I couldn’t deny. This great list comes from
Diana DeVeaugh-Geiss :

44 (Because I Like Palindromic Numbers?) Films On/About Writers and Writing
I compiled this list in no particular order and with the aid of “Leonard Maltin’s Movie & Video Guide” and IMDb.com as references. It is by no means, of course, a comprehensive list…

1. IL POSTINO (Michael Radford, 1994) — an Italian postman develops a love for poetry while delivering mail to the famous Chilean poet Pablo Naruda, starring Philippe Noiret.

2. QUILLS (Philip Kaufman, 2000) — about the imprisonment to an insane asylum of the infamous 18th-century French writer The Marquis de Sade, played by Geoffrey Rush.

3. SYLVIA (Christine Jeffs, 2003) — profile of poet Sylvia Plath, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, and her relationship with fellow poet Ted Hughes.

4. BARTON FINK (Joel Coen, 1991) — black comedy about a self-important NY playwright, played by John Turturro, who goes to 1940s Hollywood to write a screenplay and discovers it’s a living hell.

5. WONDER BOYS (Curtis Hanson, 2000) — about the bond between a writer/professor and his gifted student, starring Michael Douglas and Tobey Maguire; adapted from the Michael Chabon novel.

6. HENRY FOOL (Hal Hartley, 1998) — about the relationship between a garbageman and the free spirit who encourages him to begin writing poetry.

7. NAKED LUNCH (David Cronenberg, 1991) — a graphic filming of the William S. Burroughs novel, weaving together elements of the author’s life with fictional material.

8. MRS. PARKER AND THE VICIOUS CIRCLE (Alan Rudolph, 1994) — profile of Dorothy Parker, fabled writer and member of the Algonquin Round Table in the 1920s, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Campbell Scott.

9. BELOVED INFIDEL (Henry King, 1959) — about the romance of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hollywood Columnist Sheilah Graham, starring Gregory Peck and Deborah Kerr.

10. DECONSTRUCTING HARRY (Woody Allen, 1997) — a writer uses his life as fodder for work, much to the dismay of his family and friends, starring Woody Allen and a large ensemble cast.

11. THE BASKETBALL DIARIES (Scott Kalvert, 1995) — profile of 1960s poet-musician Jim Carroll, played by Leonardo Dicaprio (notably, in a role originally intended for River Phoenix)

12. BIG BAD LOVE (Arliss Howard, 2001) — tale of Vietnam vet/struggling writer Leon Barlow (played by director Howard); based on Mississippi author Larry Brown’s stories.

13. BEFORE NIGHT FALLS (Julian Schnabel, 2000) — story of Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), starring Javier Bardem.

14. BULLETS OVER BROADWAY (Woody Allen, 1994) — story of a 1920s playwright who quickly “sells out” when he’s offered a chance to direct his latest work on Broadway with a gangster’s moll in the lead role; starring John Cusack, Dianne Wiest, Chazz Palminteri, and an ensemble of others.

15. CELESTE (Percy Adlon, 1981) — from Celeste’s memoirs about her relationship with prolific French writer Marcel Proust.

16. DEAD POETS SOCIETY (Peter Weir, 1989) — about a charismatic English teacher at a New England prep school for boys who inspires his students to revive a secret, student poets society; starring Robin Williams.

17. TOTAL ECLIPSE (Agnieszka Holland,1995) — about 19th century French poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine.

18. HENRY AND JUNE (Philip Jaufman, 1990) — adaptation of the Anais Nin diaries, named for Henry and June Miller (Incidentally, controversy over this film caused the MPAA to implement what is today’s NC-17 rating.)

19. WILDE (Brian Gilbert, 1998) — profile of writer Oscar Wilde, starring Jude Law.

20. SHADOWLANDS (Richard Attenborough, 1993) — tale of British writer C.S. Lewis, starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.

21. ADAPTATION (Spike Jonze, 2002) — story of a lovelorn screenwriter who turns to his less talented twin brother for help when his efforts to adapt a non-fiction book go nowhere; inspired by a Susan Orlean novel; Nicolas Cage stars as both brothers.

22. MOULIN ROUGE! (Baz Luhrmann, 2001) — tale of a penniless poet’s love for a beautiful courtesan whom a jealous duke covets, starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor; nominated for numerous Academy Awards including Best Picture.

23. ALEX & EMMA (Rob Reiner, 2003) — story of a writer who must turn out a novel in thirty days or face the wrath of loan sharks, starring Luke Wilson and Kate Hudson.

24. DREAMCHILD (Gavin Millar, 1985) — the woman for whom Lewis Carroll invented “Alice in Wonderland” visits America for the writer’s centenary.

25. NORA (Pat Murphy, 2000) — set in 1904 Dublin, about Nora Barnacle and her relationship with prolific writer James Joyce.

26. BARFLY (Barbet Schroeder, 1987) — based on the autobiographical writings of Charles Bukowski, starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway.

27. TOM & VIV (Brian Gilbert, 1994) — about the relationship between poet T.S. Eliot and his wife Vivienne Haigh-Wood, starring Willem Dafoe and Miranda Richardson.

28. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (John Madden, 1998) — speculation about the love affair that inspired the writing of “Romeo and Juliet”; nominated and awarded numerous Oscars and starring Ralph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow.

29. THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD (Dan Ireland, 1996) — profiles pulp novelist Robert E. Howard and his relationship with aspiring novelist/schoolteacher Novalyne Price, starring Vincent D’Onofrio and Renee Zellweger.

30. GOTHIC (Ken Russell, 1986) — depicts the night in Italy in 1816 when Mary Shelley and Dr. Polidori became inspired to pen their classic goth novels “Frankenstein” and “The Vampyre”, respectively; this was also explored in the earlier film The Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 1935), and later in Haunted Summer (Ivan Passer, 1988.)

31. ABSCENCE OF MALICE (Sydney Pollack, 1981) — a reporter is duped into writing and running a story that discredits an innocent man, starring Paul Newman and Sally Field.

32. THE HOURS (Stephen Daldry, 2002) — story of how Virginia Woolf’s novel “Mrs. Dalloway” affected three generations of women, all of whom, in one way or another, had to deal with suicide in their lives; based on the novel by Michael Cunningham and starring Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, and Ed Harris; nominated for and awarded numerous Oscars.

33. THE ABSENT MINDED POET ( Herbert M. Dawley, 1923) — a silent, animated short film about, well, an absent minded poet.

34. IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (John Carpenter, 1995) — story of the search for a reclusive horror writer, derived from concepts created by H.P. Lovecraft and starring Sam Neill.

35. LA DOLCE VITA (Federico Fellini, 1960) — story of a tabloid writer’s crisis over the shallowness of his life’s work in Rome, starring Marcello Mastroianni.

36. MISERY (Rob Reiner, 1990) — story of a successful romance novelist who’s nursed back to health following a car crash with a lunatic fan, starring Kathy Bates and James Caan; based on the Stephen King novel; later adapted for the stage in London.

37. THE PARALLAX VIEW
(Alan J. Pakula, 1974) — story of a reporter who investigates the assasination of a senator, starring Warren Beatty.

38. MORVERN CALLAR (Lynne Ramsay, 2002) — about a supermarket clerk who, following her boyfriend’s suicide, passes off his unpublished novel as her own; starring Samantha Morton.

39. ROMAN HOLIDAY (William Wyler, 1953) — about a princess who flees her palace in search of a “normal life” and has a romance with a writer/reporter, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck (Incidentally, this was Audrey’s first break, and for which she received an Oscar.)

40. THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO (Henry King, 1952) — about a renowned writer critically injured on an African safari, starring Gregory Peck and based on the Ernest Hemingway story.

41. THE THIRD MAN (Carol Reed, 1949) — Graham Greene’s account of a pulp-writer’s manhunt for Harry Lime (played by Orson Welles) in post-WWII Vienna.

42. ALMOST FAMOUS (Cameron Crowe, 2000) — tale of a 15-year-old boy given the chance to write a story for “Rolling Stone Magazine” about an up-and-coming rock band as he accompanies them for their concert tour.

43. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (Frank Capra, 1934) — about a writer/reporter and runaway heiress, played by Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, who fall in love on a bus trip; based on Samuel Hopkins Adams’ story “Night Bus”.

More later…

44. THE PLAYER (Robert Altman, 1992) — black comedy about a paranoid movie exec who begins receiving threats from a disgruntled screenwriter, starring Tim Robbins; notably, slathered with inside Hollywood jokes and references.
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