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    Sunday, March 04, 2007

    Movies: Memories of Meme

    When at a loss for something to post about, I turn to that evergreen subject: me. Here’s a screenwriting meme I poached from Ken Levine.

    Name one (1) earliest film-related memory.

    Making a pilgrimage to Radio City Music Hall to see a movie. I can’t even remember what it was now – probably a reissue of one of the Disney cartoons – because I was so overwhelmed by the experience of being in the theater. The vastness of the lobby. The size of the crowd. The sense of hushed anticipation as the lights dimmed. All I could think was, “I want more.”

    Two (2) favorite lines from movies.

    From Out of the Past. Script credited to Daniel Mainwaring (Geoffrey Homes), based on the novel Build My Gallows High by Geoffrey Homes.

    Kathie Moffett (Jane Greer): Oh, Jeff, I don’t want to die!
    Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum): Neither do I, baby. But if I have to, I’m gonna die last.

    From Once Upon A Time In The West. Story by Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci and Sergio Leone. Screenplay by Sergio Leone and Sergio Donati.

    Cheyenne (Jason Robards): You know, Jill, you remind me of my mother. She was the biggest whore in Alameda and the finest woman that ever lived. Whoever my father was, for an hour or for a month – he must have been a happy man.

    Three (3) jobs you’d do if you couldn’t work in “the biz.”

    FBI agent. Seriously.
    Genially corrupt political operative.
    Alcoholic copywriter.

    Job I would most likely have: overnight manager at a 24-hour copy shop.

    Four (4) jobs you have actually held outside the industry.

    Writer of phone sex ads. As I’ve said before, the only job I was truly good at.
    Legal assistant.
    Journalist at a business magazine.

    Three (3) book authors I like.

    Lawrence Block.
    Donald E. Westlake/Richard Stark.
    Ross Thomas.

    Two (2) movies you’d like to remake or properties you’d like to adapt.

    There’s this Hong Kong gangster movie called Infernal Affairs that would ... what? Damn. I should get out more.

    There are plenty of remakes and adaptations I’d like to do that I’m actively pitching, so I’m not naming them here. Instead, I’ll give you two (2) remakes that actually work: His Girl Friday and The Fly.

    One (1) screenwriter you think is underrated.

    From the golden age of Hollywood, Jay Dratler. The best known film he worked on is Laura. He also contributed to gems like the Fred Allen comedy It’s In the Bag, the true-crime drama Call Northside 777, the Lucille Ball film noir The Dark Corner, and the sorely neglected Impact.

    From today, Ron Shelton. Because comedies and sports movies (Bull Durham, Tin Cup) always get short shrift. No one writes contemporary American men in all their befuddled glory better. And at times he seems like the only studio filmmaker who’s interested in sex – real, human, occasionally goofy sex. Blaze, Cobb and Hollywood Homicide all deserve to be better known.

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    I meant to post a comment the last time you mentioned Jay Dratler, and never got around to it. My father was a playwright who also worked as a story editor at several major studios. He was a good friend of Jay Dratler. I think both my father and Dratler would be very happy to know he was appreciated today. I met him once when I was too young to know who he was (I also met Edwin Justus Mayer, who I found out too much later wrote "To Be or Not to Be"). When I met Dratler, he told my father that he was just about to move to Mexico, which had been a lifelong dream. He did, in fact, make that move, and died about a week after he arrived. But I'll bet he died happy.


    That line from "Out of the Past" is one of my favorites, too.


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