I've never written a screenplay, but in honor of the 90th Academy Awards this Sunday night, and the fact that Sunset Boulevard (1950) will be on television tomorrow, I'm writing about movies about writers and writing.
If you love old movies and wonder where the lines "I am big! It's the pictures that got small," and "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up," came from, then wonder no more, because this is the movie for you. Gloria Swanson plays Norma Desmond in the film-noir classic about the dark side of fame, and William Holden plays a screenwriter who allows himself to be a kept man.
A couple of months ago I watched Genius (2016), after a recommendation from my husband. The movie is based on the relationship between Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938), author of Look Homeward, Angel, and You Can't go Home Again, and his editor, Max Perkins, who also discovered F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.
If you like movies that include scenes in train stations, and men who wear vests and hats indoors while smoking cigarettes, then this movie is for you. There's also dramatic dialogue, and lots of red-ink scribbles over typed pages of Wolfe's novel.
Many years ago, when The Player (1992), starring Tim Robbins was popular, I found a better movie starring Kevin Bacon titled The Big Picture (1989), directed by Christopher Guest. This movie is more relatable because it's about a writer who finds success early, only to have it disappear just as quickly. Although it received positive reviews, the movie had a limited distribution.
If you want to watch a young Kevin Bacon trying to navigate the Hollywood machine while wearing clothing you can now find in vintage shops, then watch this one.
A few more I like include, The World According to Garp, Finding Forrester, and Adaptation. I also love Stranger Than Fiction, Wonder Boys, and Trumbo.
This year, The Post is nominated for Best Picture, but to be honest, I haven't seen it! Maybe I'll get to that one before Sunday. What are your favorite movies about writing and writers?
Mary Horner is the author of Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing, and teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges. She is a certified medical writer, and earned the Writing Certificate at UM-St. Louis.