Friday, March 14, 2008

Writer's Block

I was having a difficult time thinking of a subject for today's post, until I thought about writer's block: "Hmm," I thought to myself, "movies about writers would be a quick way of dashing off a blog post for today." And so that's what you're going to get.

I could mention biopics about writers, such as The Life of Émile Zola. Paul Muni plays the title role, the French writer who defended the railroaded Jewish military officer with his famous essay "J'accuse!".

There have been several movies about advertising writers, and perhaps this would be a good topic for a post all its own. For today, however, I'll just point out adman Cary Grant in the title role as Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.

Newspaper writers are a very common source of inspiration for Hollywood. One of the best movies about the newspaper biz is His Girl Friday, starring Rosalind Russell as the writer and the aforementioned Grant as her editor; this one is airing on TCM at noon ET on March 16.

Then there are the screen writers. The most famous of these would be William Holden playing Joe Gillis in Sunset Blvd., working for the insane Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) on her screenplay.

But there is at least one movie dealing more directly with the idea of writer's block: The Lost Weekend. (Technically, Cary Grant is suffering from writer's block too in Mr. Blandings; he can't come up with a good slogan for Wham hams.) Ray Milland won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Don Birnam, a writer suffereing from writer's block who can only face the day by drinking. I'm not much of a drinker, but supposedly this is relatively realistic, or at least realistic enough that the studios were skittish about releasing such a depressing movie when it was made back in 1945.

Fortunately, all of the films I've mentioned above are available on DVD.

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