More than three lines of dialogue



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  • More than three lines of dialogue

    Caught the last third of Mr. Roberts, not even reformatted for TV. Think it holds up. They talked as long as necessary without having to cut, cut, cut. Longing for some characters who have something to say other than gutteral utterances followed by gunshots. Longing for stories where no one is shot, maimed or blown up for any reason.

    You left brainies, can you calculate how many of us would be left if the proportions of slaughtered humans on the big and small screen were x times y, or something or another squared, or logarithms or the theory of relativity were applied to the inverse or adverse proportions of portrayed slaughter versus the actual slaughtered?

    What has clouded our vision of humanity to assume that the only believable solution to a plot point is revenge or killing or kewl blowing up of things and what is that view doing to us?

    Oh, shut up, lil, and go to bed

  • #2

    You must have a low opinion of Shakespeare also then (this not referring to your first paragraph, but to the rest of your post).


    • #3
      THIS coming from someone who's constantly threatening me (and Nem) with trips to the woodshed...?


      • #4
        Wrrrrhh, ya ta m****f*****s, tak tht, BOOM, SPLAT,POW. Nohw wat was ya saing. Oh, yea, CRASH, CRACK, SPATTER. Where are those emoticons when you need them?

        Actually, Crash, you would have to tie me to the seat to force me to see yet more productions of some of the Master's plays. One of his most famous, you would also have to gag me and nail my shoes to the floor or I would find a way to run screaming from the theatre.

        Others, if sure it was going to be a good production, I would attend with delight. One, I would probably never tire of because it lends itself to so many different and imaginative approaches.

        Ton - I'll not be sending either one of you to the woodshed again. You both enjoyed it too much and that was not the intended purpose.

        lil-who wants more dialogue in film, intelligent, thought provoking and witty and don't believe it in any way would diminish the "visual medium."


        • #5
          Lil, I'm with ya! Mister Roberts is probably the funniest comedy ever to come out of Hollywood (definetely in the Top Two). GREAT DIALOGUE. And there is no better character turn than when Jack Lemmon jumps from his seat after reading Henry Fonda's last letter, tosses the palm tree and bangs on Cagney's door to say that great line;

          "Cap'n, it is I, Ensign Pulver and I just threw your stinkin' palm tree overboard!"

          he said to Cagney! CAGNEY!

          On a calmer side, I agree with your view here. How many more ways can H'wood show the same big explosions and gunfights? it's been boring for years. Character and story are merely a bridge between the next gun battle or boom-boom-boom.

          While we're on the subject, why do half the female characters in film seemed to get insatiably horny by said gunfight or big action scene? I've met a lot of women in my life and not one of them has ever wanted hot raving sex after her car flipped forty times because some terrorist blew out the tires with a bazooka. there are other equally entertaining ways to provide action without killing someone or destroying a city or two, eh?

          I prefer real stories of real people, and the interesting events that happen to them. Sure, stretch reality and have fantasies, engage in scifi and whatever, but truth is always stranger, funnier and more entertaining than fiction.


          • #6
            Read the play. It is truly wonderful.


            • #7
              Source Material

              MR. ROBERTS was a huge hit on Broadway, so all of that dialogue is because it's a stageplay on screen. They were being faithful to the source, because the source was a huge hit.

              Lil, there are plenty of movies made today where no one gets shot, where there are no explosions, where no cars chase each other... many of them are comedies like MR. ROBERTS. I think you're comparing apples and oranges, here - comedies to action flicks. How many people get shot in SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE or MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING? So few that Joe Bob Briggs isn't reviewing them.

              Last night I popped THE BIG SLEEP into the VCR. Make a decade before MR. ROBERTS, and it's full of people getting shot. Joe Brody's death is particularly graphic - he opens his door and gets shot point blank, the killer then continues firing THROUGH THE DOOR at Brody. Wood splinters fly! You can SEE THE FORCE OF THE BULLETS by the way the door splinters with the gunshot. Later, Eddie Mars will get machine gunned to death with a similar gag - the bullets fly through him and splinter out the door behind him. Poking holes in the door that you can see through! (which means you can see through the holes in Eddie Mars, too.)

              Cagney is in MR. ROBERTS, but he's best known for starring in very violent gangster flicks, including THE ROARING 20s (with Bogart) one of the most violent films I've ever seen. This is a film where the good guys get killed.

              The first fiction film was an action film...

              But it was followed by a bunch of comedy shorts.

              Plenty of films today have relatively few exploding heads and car chases - those are probably the ones you want top see. (ALMOST FAMOUS is a good one.)

              - Bill


              • #8


                Thanks for the info on Mister Roberts--never knew it was a stage play.

                As a writer of action screenplays, how do you react when you see bad actions films made, such as Fair Game or The Getaway (the remake). Maybe that's an unfair question because you are well known and I know you can't burn bridges, but you can't react well to them. And in your opinion, what makes an action scene more 'unique'?


                • #9
                  Not an antagonistic question

                  Yes, I knew that Mr. Roberts was a play before it was a movie.

                  Why is it that so many of the most enduring movies were books or plays before they were movies? Even though most of us say, well, it wasn't as good as the play or book.

                  I don't have the answers, just asking the questions: Density of characters? Again, sorry to be boring, but dialogue other than uh, ugh, uh, M..f..r, cut?

                  Perhaps the "moving image" offers too many possibilities, making it easy to jettison the foundations of character and story and replace it with effects and techno surprises.

                  Regardless of the fact that early movies may have been based on violence and that many movies have been B, C, and @#%$, they are still disintegrating at a rapid pace and variety is being squeezed out by the search for the quick money maker, no matter how poorly made or conceived. This summer's blockbusters only illustrate how low the industry's quality of standards has fallen, regardlesss of the genre.



                  • #10
                    My best friends wedding

                    Didn't Cameron Diaz kill Julie Roberts at the end? You know, in the White Sox women's room? She used a floor lamp, right?


                    • #11
                      Going To Hell ($8.50 a ticket)

                      First - I burn bridges like crazy! Check out my Tip Of The Day for tomorrow where I trash two hit films.

                      Two things are happening:

                      1) Selective memory. I didn't mention that the first nickelodeons often featured famous strippers doing their acts... sex and violence are the two easiest things to do on film. We look back on the "good old days" and forget hoiw bad they really were. No one is showing stripper films on AMC and TCM.

                      2) Things really have gone to hell. I'm a big fan of B movies from the 1940s and 1950s - and THOSE regularly show on AMC and TCM. They may not be great, but many are better than today's A movies. If they show any of THE FALCON movies with George Saunders and Tom Conway, check them out. Really entertaining films.

                      I don't think the "based on" thing means squat. Most films today are based on other material. I could make a list of good novels turned into recent crappy films. I could also make a list of good films from spec scripts. Those 1940s films were based on novels for the exact same reason films are based on novels today - the stories have already been proven with an audience. They made THE BIG SLEEP because it was a hot novel... Well, BATTLEFIELD EARTH sold some copies when it first came out, too.

                      But the biz has changed. All business has changed. If you needed a door hinge you used to go down to the hardware store where a guy who had been selling hardware his entire life and actually KNEW about hardware would help you find exactly what you were looking for. Now you go to some big warehouse where a kid making minimum wage who has never installed a door hinge in his life might help you... if you can find him. The warehouse hardware places make more money than the old mom & pop places.

                      The film biz is just as impersonal now. Studios used to be family businesses, now they are owned by giant conglomorates that don't know anything about making movies and don't really care - they just get a profit & loss report and demand more profit and less loss.

                      I don't think the old moguls cared about quality films, but they promoted from within. So an ex-screenwriter like Jerry Wald became a top producer at Warner Bros. Mark Hellinger, another ex-screenwriter became a top producer. Even guys like Thalberg were brought up through the system. They had hands-on experience in making films. They knew what made a good film. But now we end up with ex-agents running studios, or guys who understand business more than film. It's just like the hardware store - who do you think they will promote to run a Home Depot - a guy who really knows how to install a hinge or a guy who speaks the same language as the business guys?

                      There's also a strange layer of bureaucracy that has been growing for the past two decades. Jerry Wald read the scripts he produced and gave his own notes. Now a producer may have never read the script he's making! All of these other people are involved in the process - and those people are usually the lowest paid people on the project.

                      Also - development is a business itself. There are buildings full of people at the studios who make money giving notes on rewrites for films that will never be. They don't have to make the script better - it's never going to be a film. So script notes lose their value. The same "put a dancing donkey in it" note they may give to a DOA script they will give to a script that is actually going to be made. Here's a strange idea - what if 50% of all projects purchased had to be made into films or else the producer had to pay for the unfilmed projects out of pocket? Bad news for us - less scripts would be bought. Producers would have to be damned picky about the projects they bought! They would buy fewer "fixer uppers" and more projects that are actually ready to go. It would also be interesting if each studio had a panel of writers who would read every version of the script and decide which is the best one. I had a script (unfilmed) that went through a half dozeen rewrites before an Oscar nominee was hired to make the script work. He read over all of the previous versions of the script and found the version that worked best. He wanted to rewrite that version. The producer almost fired him on the spot - he had pulled my original script from the pile. That meant that everything the producer had spent was wasted money - can't acknowledge that!

                      I think the first step to better films is to get rid of the bureaucracy. I'd also love to have scripts "locked down" - no more rewrites - before elements are signed. That way we focus on making the SCRIPT the best it can be... then actually make that good version of the script.

                      But I'm a dreamer.

                      - Bill