Monday, July 14

Monday at the Movies

I was thinking about movies this morning. I don't watch a lot of them, especially in theaters, because sitting still for two hours is way down on my list of Things I Like To Do. When I do watch, it's usually old ones on TV or DVD, so I don't spend a lot of time thinking about them.

Except for when I do. Today's thoughts had to do with what movies influenced my life as a romance writer.

The first one, which was also one of the first movies I ever saw at a theater--and to add to my God-she's-old-ness, I think it was a drive-in--was April Love, with Shirley Jones and Pat Boone. They were young, they were pretty, they could both sing, there was a horse and a convertible in the movie. Voila! Harlequin romances, which I would go on to read a gazillion of once I learned to read, and which I would end up writing myself, had become an unnamed seed in my mind.

Then there was Blue Denim. The only things I remember about this
movie was that Brandon DeWilde got Carol Lynley pregnant and my mom was mad that teenagers "going all the way" was allowed into the movies. Since she hated the movie, I liked it--even at nine, I had a grasp on what was soon to be referred to as the Generation Gap. I also liked that two pretty people Lived Happily Ever After. I started reading True Story magazine and Harlequin romances anywhere I was unlikely to get caught by my mother.

Third, and much later, was Gone With the Wind. I read the book when I was 12 and saw the movie when I was about 16. I loved the book all the many times I read it, but to this day I am disappointed by the movie. Disappointment or no, it is the movie that taught me lessons I would use as a writer. Such as, it is better for me that book covers not have people on them. I want to learn what the protagonists look like as I come to know them, not have it decided by marketing and art departments that are frequently, horrifyingly wrong. (This is my opinion, don't forget--if others didn't enjoy people covers, there wouldn't be so many of them.) I learned this from watching GWTW, in which I couldn't stand Vivien Leigh (Scarlett) and Leslie Howard (Ashley). I also learned about powerful and wonderful secondary characters from Hattie McDaniel (Mammy) and Olivia de Haviland (Melanie). And I lusted after Clark Gable (Rhett).


There are more movie influences on my writing than I can list here--I can't imagine how it would be if I watched a lot of them. When I think of my heroes' voices, they all--every single one!--sound like Sam Elliot. When I feel the warmth of their gaze, regardless of the color of their eyes, it's Patrick Swayze's gaze I'm feeling. When they laugh, the beta-ish men I love so much, they are Jimmy Stewart and Tom Selleck. When they step in front of the heroines to give them protection they neither want or need, they are John Wayne and Kevin Costner.

So tell us, whether as readers or writers or both, what movies have influenced you and how you feel about--or write--romance?

22 comments:

  1. what a great post, Liz! I'm thinking, I'm thinking...for me it's a lot of the old black-and-white rom-coms - Philadelphia Story or Breakfast at Tiffany's (I know, it's in color). I loved watching them on late-night Saturday night TV when I really should have been in bed. But for better or for worse the writing in those movies was smart and sassy and the stories themselves were rich in character and conflict. And they still suck me in when I see them on late-night TV.

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    1. Oh, I LOVE Philadelphia Story! And rich is a good word for them--they truly were.

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  2. I am a huge fan of rom-coms - there, I've admitted that publicly! Non of my friends are and so I often see them on my own. I guess though, if I had to pick a movie that has influenced me it has to be Dirty Dancing oh and Pretty Woman. And An Affair To Remember. Oh and I almost forgot, Hope Floats.

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    1. I'm with you on every one of those. I don't know if they influenced me, but I just love watching them. :-) Thanks for coming by!

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  3. Probably my favorite romance movie is "While You Were Sleeping." Whether it influenced me or not, I have no idea. I just love the idea of love. But heck, I'll watch any movie with Cary Grant in it, too. That man was hot.

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    1. Oh, my gosh, was he ever! Remember Father Goose with Leslie Caron. He should have been old, but instead he was just gorgeous!

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  4. If my comments show up twice, I apologize. For some reason, when i try to comment, it seems to drop me. I'm not going to repeat everything I said in the other comment, except to say, yes, movies definitely influence my writing. My romantic heroes are funny, but debonair guys like Cary Grant in Charade and Bing Crosby in High Society (the musical version of the Philadelphia Story). I also did not like the film version of GWTW--it left me cold. But I love all the old Doris Day/James Garner rom-coms and I still think he's pretty darn hot. Sam Eliot, Jeff Bridges, Alan Rickman, Pierce Brosnan--the actors my own age are the ones that turn me on and become heroes in my books. I never saw Blue Denim--I'm going to try to find it. But I loved April Love and State Fair. And musicals...I'm such a schmuck for musicals...

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    1. Put on the popcorn--I'll be right over... :-)

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  5. Fun post!

    I'm a bit of a movie junkie (by a bit, I mean Netflix runs out of movies I haven't seen).

    For me... The Long Hot Summer. It taught me the art of building tension slowly. And I fell in love with Paul Newman in that one.

    Star Wars - oh yes I said it. Revolutionized Space Opera and Fantasy story telling in my opinion.

    Oklahoma - got me into classic movies via musicals. When they really knew how to tell a story.

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    1. Oh, great ones. I don't think I liked Long Hot Summer that much, but I surely did like Paul Newman. I like almost all the old musicals--newer ones, not so much. And even though I liked Star Wars--and for that matter Star Trek--it was in spite of them being space operas rather than because of it, so I'm not sure where to put those in my mind. Thanks for coming by!

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  6. The movies that inspired me were about writers--I love the opening scene of Romancing The Stone. I want book posters!

    And in the middle of Irreconcilable Differences when Shelly Long begins to write "her" story. Love that.

    And anything by Aaron Sorkin--cable, tv, movies--Love, love his dialogue. Love the rapid fire pace and how everything is said for a reason.

    That goes for Nora Ephron as well--she was the Queen of good rom-coms--and funny, funny writing.

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    1. Oh, Aaron Sorkin. I agree--anything he writes. Rob Lowe said he'd come back to do a West Wing reunion the minute Aaron Sorkin wrote one and I'm right there with him. (Of course, Rob Lowe's pretty cute anyway...) I can't remember Nora Ephron's, though I loved her writing.

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  7. Hmmmm...romantic movies. Not a big fan. Do love Romancing the Stone though.

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    1. I liked it a lot...once, but didn't want to see it anymore. Michael Douglas, even when he was young, usually didn't do it for me.

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  8. There's nothing to compare with those old romantic comedies. I'll still watch anything with Cary Grant or Katharine Hepburn. Thanks for the memories!

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    1. Remember Bringing Up Baby? I did read Hepburn's autobiography and was kind of sorry I had, but I still love some of those movies!

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  9. Great post, thanks.The old B&W films are my favorite, because they were often filled with witty repartee, excellent visual effects, and solid story lines. Examples: His Gal Friday, the Thin Man, and Holiday. Many contemporary rom coms are also good, but I enjoy the romance of other eras.

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    1. Oh, the Thin Man! My husband is still lusting after Myrna Loy! And you're right about the wittiness--I loved it, and I still miss it. I hate being a priss, but I love watching movies without the first 4-letter word in them and still laughing often and loud.

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  10. I have a list a mile high! When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, As the Clouds Roll By (an oldie) and dozens of musicals like Meet me in St. Louis. I could go on and on.

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    1. It's amazing how long the list can get when you get started with it, isn't it?

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  11. I love all of those movies! Oh my gosh, Cary Grant! I use to watch Gene Kelly, too. I liked to dance around my living room. Still to this day I think that life is a musical and I embarrass the H___l out of my daughter by singing and doing a little soft shoe at random moments! What a great post. I love old movies!

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  12. LOL. I do, too, Sia. I used to embarrass my kids by bellowing "Footloose" in the car--with the windows open! I liked Gene Kelly, too, and Astaire and Donald O'Connor. In my next life, I'm not going to have two left feet!

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