Friday FabOoolousness – A Writer’s Life….in Movies

Everyone loves movies, particularly writers.  Writers find it extremely helpful to use movies as tools to identify crucial elements to the story making process, and even better yet, as research.

So, why not reminisce about some of the recent decades’ most popular movies about writers? 

*****

Romancing the Stone (1984)

This widely successful film stars Kathleen Turner as fictional romance novelist, Joan Wilder. 

Joan is lonely, living with her cat in her New York City apartment, when she receives a phone call from her recently widowed sister who claims to have been kidnapped by antiquities smugglers. As ransom, the smugglers demand a treasure map that Joan received in the mail from her brother-in-law.

Ransom demand in hand, Joan sets off to Cartagena, Colombia.  After a bit of a wild and crazy detour, Joan learns that other criminals want this treasure map as well.  She meets Jack Colton (Michael Douglas) and he promises to guide her through the jungle for a small monetary fee, not aware of what he’s gotten himself into. 

After sharing a romantic exchange, Joan and Jack decide to follow the map on their own.  They find a beautiful emerald, but not before one of the kidnappers (Danny DeVito) finds them.   One thing leads to another; Joan finally exchanges the stone for her sister, and shares her adventures in Cartagena by writing a novel when she returns to the city. 

Romancing the Stone has romance, action, suspense, and comedy.   In 1985, the movie was followed by a sequel, The Jewel of the Nile, also starring Turner, Douglas, and DeVito.   

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if all writers encountered a love affair, mystery, or adventure of our own to help push us through our stories?

*****

Her Alibi (1989)

Tom Selleck stars as Phil Blackwood, a fictional mystery novelist who meets his muse while sitting in a courtroom.  Blackwood forges an alibi for Nina (supermodel Paulina Porizkova), the beautiful Romanian woman accused of murder, and she is released into his custody. 

Blackwood takes Nina back to his house and begins plotting his story as he fantasizes himself in the role of his protagonist living with a mysterious woman.  Suspicions set in, however, after a police detective pays him a visit and places doubts in Blackwood’s head about Nina’s innocence.  Blackwood further questions just how well he knows this woman after she throws a kitchen knife across the room, stabbing and killing a bug crawling up a cabinet just inches from his face.

Not knowing if he’s made the right decision to protect this woman, and definitely not able to stop his romantic feelings for her, Blackwood follows Nina to a clown festival where they encounter the Romanian operatives responsible for the crime in which she was accused. 

How far will writers go to find the ever-important muse?

*****

Misery (1990)

Based on Stephen King’s novel, Misery stars James Caan as fictional novelist, Paul Sheldon.

On his way to deliver a new novel to his publicist, a story not related to the successful series that his readership has grown to admire, Sheldon crashes his car deep in the desolate woods during a blizzard.  Badly bruised and with multiple broken bones, including both legs, Sheldon is rescued by Annie (Kathy Bates), a nurse who just so happens to be his number one fan. 

Grateful for her hospitality, Sheldon agrees to let Annie read his new novel.  Unfortunately for Sheldon, she doesn’t like the new story and is offended by his language.  This disappointment sends Annie into a crazed tailspin where she obsesses about other mistakes in his storytelling; she tortures him, drugs him, spills hot soup on him, forces him to burn his manuscript, and finally takes a sledgehammer to his ankles.

Eventually, Sheldon escapes, and the movie ends just as he meets another number one fan…

Writers, how painful would it be to be forced to burn one of our manuscripts?  Does this story make us re-evaluate the importance of a “number one” fan?    

*****

Secret Window (2004)

Based on another Steven King story, Secret Window, Secret Garden, this psychological thriller stars Johnny Depp as fictional author, Mort Rainey. 

Secret Window keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, watching as Rainey spends most of his days alone in his cabin, agonizing over his wife’s (Maria Bello) affair which has created an untimely case of writer’s block. 

What’s worse than a writer suffering from writer’s block?  Being accused of plagiarism, of course. 

Rainey doesn’t believe he, the successful writer, stole the work of his crazed accuser (played by the great John Turturro).  After his dog is murdered, Rainey hires a private investigator (Charles S. Dutton) to look after the man. 

The movie takes an interesting turn when it’s revealed that Rainey is actually suffering from an identify disorder and has assumed the role of his character.  He lives out his story first hand by imagining the man accusing him of plagiarism, and by seeking revenge against his unfaithful wife and her lover (Timothy Hutton), thus overcoming his writer’s block. 

Are writers really this crazy?

*****

Did you enjoy any of these movies? What other movies about writers do you enjoy?  Writers, do you use movies and television programs as research for your stories?  I’d love to hear from you!

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54 Responses to Friday FabOoolousness – A Writer’s Life….in Movies

  1. Stacy Green says:

    You know I love me some Johnny. Secret Window is good and Johnny plays twisted like no other, of course. I just watched Romancing the Stone again a few months ago. Cheesy goodness, lol. I love the beginning when she’s reading out loud:) And Misery just creeped me out. I can’t think of any others about writers, my brain is fried, lol. Great post!

  2. donnagalanti says:

    Love this – yes, Romancing the Stone just great fun and love the music that goes with it. And I cannot sit thru Misery! Its painful…I realized why as there is NO MUSIC in it, no soundtrack…just silence, stillness in the horror. Fun Friday post!

  3. I loved the two Stephen King movies, although Misery is really horrible. In a horror kind of way, not a bad movie kind of way, LOL. Secret Window was made even better by Johnny Depp, who can play just about any part, no matter what it is. And John Tuturro was perfect in the part he played.

    Don’t forget The Dark Half, another Stephen King movie about a writer, starring Timothy Hutton. 🙂

    • I agree, Depp is wonderful at pretty much every part he takes. I even enjoy his films like The Tourist that many people slammed. And Turturro? He’s amazing.

      I’m going to have to check out The Dark Half….thanks, Lauralynn!

  4. EllieAnn says:

    Misery–I don’t think I want fans anymore.
    Secret Window–writers are definitely crazy, just not…that crazy.
    I just got Ghost Writer from Netflix and I can’t wait to watch it.
    Great post!! 🙂

    • Ellie, I almost forgot about Ghost Writer. I’ve wanted to watch this movie since it was in theaters, but it’s not guy’s cup o’ tea. I remember seeing it on On Demand recently. I need to check it out! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Shary Hover says:

    I liked Stranger Than Fiction. It’s about a character who discovers that he’s a character. A little mind-bending, but fun.

  6. Jillian Dodd - Glitter, Bliss and Perfect Chaos says:

    I loved Romancing the Stone. I loved how she never got out, but wrote those amazing adventure love stories. Then she got to live one of her own. And he was so cute!!

    • Am I crazy? I kinda view Romancing the Stone as the female’s version of Indiana Jones…romance/adventure/comedy/romance/adventure/comedy/andoveragain. Perfect for the ladies. Thanks for stopping by, Jill!

  7. Amber West says:

    I remember liking Stranger Than Fiction as well.

    Secret Window creeped me out – in a good way.

    I may have to check out the Tom Selleck movie – the one man with a mustache that I will forever crush on.

  8. Liz Schulte says:

    I like all of the movies you mentioned, but Secret Window is my favorite portrayal of a writer on the big screen. Stranger Than Fiction often comes to mind while I am writing and torturing my characters. haha Oh, and I recently rewatched In the Mouth of Madness which is a really strange one about a writer.

    • Liz, knowing your taste and style, I’m VERY interested in In the Mouth of Madness. I haven’t seen it, I don’t think. It sounds vaguely familiar, but nothing is jumping out at me. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Hartford says:

    I’ve actually only ever seen Misery so it looks like it’s off to the rental store I go! I am now dying to see Secret Window and Romancing the Stone! :))

  10. amyshojai says:

    I actually have the BOOK…Romancing The Stone by Joan Wilder (must have been created after the movie, LOL!) that I won at a writer conference along with a picture of Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas (unsigned, damn).

    Misery the book was great. Misery the movie (gasp) was even better. Kathy Bates is incredible.

  11. Marcia says:

    Aww, you wrote this before I had a chance! Have it queued and ready to go! How does that happen that writers/bloggers get the same idea at about the same time? I’ll same mine for sometime later. Anyway, your post is awesome. I’ve seen most of these movies, am a movie fanatic of sorts, so I’ll check out the one I haven’t seen-Her Alibi. goes without saying, I adore Johnny Depp and will watch anything he’s in! I love light adventures, too, like Romancing, Jewel and Indiana Jones.

  12. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    Romancing the Stone is one of my all-time favorite movies. I can watch it over and over!
    Her Alibi looks like my kind of movie, too. I’ll keep an eye out for this one, for sure.
    Misery, oh man, I can’t watch it. I saw parts of it years ago, and it creeps me out. My son loved this movie, hung a poster in his room, and it made me shudder just looking at the poster.
    Secret Window, oh geez, there’s another one. I can’t believe I watched the whole thing. Yikers! It’s a good movie, but was hard for me to stomach! Yep, I’m a wimp.

    • You’re not a wimp, Lynn! Misery and Secret Window are definite psychological thrillers for a reason! I found Her Alibi on late-night this week on one of the movie channels. I’d seen it years and years ago, but seeing it this week is the entire reason for this post. Thanks for stopping by!

  13. I’m amazed to even be writing this…of all the movies you listed, I’ve only seen two. Romancing the Stone and Misery! I actually watched Misery again the other night when I was doing edits.

    I knew I wanted to be a writer when I saw Kathleen Turner celebrate the completion of her book with her cat Romeo and when she’s in Columbia and all the dudes are into her novels (Juanita, Juanita, es Juanita!). Hilarious!

    • Claudia, how was watching Misery during edits? Did you feel like burning some pages? 🙂 I really recommend you rent Secret Window. You’re a Depp fan, right? I think you’ll love it! Psychological…..

  14. Catie Rhodes says:

    How funny you should talk about Misery today. I just watched it on Netflix streaming the other day. 😀 If I’m ever successful at this writing gig, I want to celebrate like James Caan did when he finished that book at the beginning of Misery. Of course, I’d rather do it on Texas two lane blacktop in a 1969 Barbie pink GTO. But I’d still have Jr. Walker and the All Stars blasting “Shotgun.”

    My favorite movie about a writer is toss-up between Barfly and As Good as it Gets. Barfly probably wins. I love that movie. “I’m tired of all the things I don’t want to do and don’t want to be.”

    Fun post. 😀

  15. Jess Witkins says:

    Great post!! I adore Romancing the Stone and its lesser known sequel Jewel of the Nile. I quote from that one a lot. And as I was reading the second one, I was thinking ‘oh I wonder if she included Misery.’ You rock because you did! I’ve read the book, which is worse as far as the torture goes. The hobbling is worse, much worse. And she threads strands of her hair across desk drawers so if they have fallen or are broke, she knows someone tampered with her things. It’s super creepy! And the movie is phenomenal. How often does a suspense movie actress win an Oscar for a role like that? Kathy Bates is eerie and fabulous. Love this post!

    • There are a few actors that will always be linked to one particular role, even when they’re fabulous in others, and Kathy Bates is one of them. She will always be Annie in Misery. What a performance! And you’re not alone, Jess – I enjoyed The Jewel of the Nile too! Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Amanda Rudd says:

    These are all great movies. I especially LOVE Romancing the Stone. However, you forgot ‘The Dark Half’, also written by Stephen King and starring Timothy Hutton. Honestly, my biggest complaint with ‘Secret Window’ was that I thought it was too similar to ‘The Dark Half’, which was written at least a year before ‘Secret Window.’ But oh well…

  17. Jenny Hansen says:

    OK, now that I’ve tromped all over your comments, I’ll leave my own. I’ve never seen Misery – I have SUCH a hard time with scary movies, and it looked wicked creepy. I really liked Finding Forrester as a writing movie. Also, I love the scenes in Legends of the Fall where Anthony Hopkins keeps telling his son to “make it shorter.”

    There is a movie about a writer with Emma Thompson that I always meant to see where her life starts happening around the story she writes. Maybe Will Farrell is in that? I can’t remember and now it will drive me crazy!!

    Great post!

    • PLEASE remember the Emma Thompson movie, Jenny…..you have me stumped now too! Finding Forrester is a wonderful movie. Thank you so much for reminding me – I almost let that one slip through the cracks.

      Big hugs and <3s for the blog comments, my dear!

  18. I’m with Jenny – I can’t watch scary movies and just the trailers freak me out. So, sorry Misery and Secret Window.

    Romancing the Stone, however, has been on my mind lately to watch again. Cartagena. I can just hear Kathleen Turner’s cool voice saying it!

    I’ll check out Her Alibi. Sounds like just my style. Oh, and now I’ll have to google that movie Jenny’s talking about because I love Emma Thompson. Okay, I’m back – Stranger Than Fiction. Looks good!

    • I wonder how many of us watched War of the Roses because it was Turner/Douglas/DeVito all over again? They made such a great team – wonderfully enjoyable movies. Cartagena! Thanks for stopping by, Tameri!

  19. Julie Glover says:

    I watched Romancing the Stone again last week! Fun. I’d forgotten that Selleck was a writer in My Alibi.
    One of my favorite movies ever is Sunset Boulevard – with William Holden as a screenwriter. I have also heard that My Favorite Year is an excellent movie about a writer, but I haven’t seen it. I’ve never even heard of Barfly, which Catie mentioned, or Secret Window; guess I should see them.

  20. I love Kathleen Turner. My daughter, who just left to go back to school today :(, and I just watched her in “Peggy Sue Got Married.” But one of the best, scariest movies about writers, has to be “The Shining,” starring Jack Nicholson. Heeeeeeere’s, Johnny!

    • Peggy Sue Got Married is the best! I haven’t seen that in years….I actually enjoyed Nic Cage in that movie. LOL. And you are right, Monica. The Shining is one of the scariest movies I’ve seen. Jack is wonderful, no surprise there. Thanks for stopping by!!

  21. journalpulp says:

    Movies are literature — you’re absolutely right — and we can learn so much from studying what we like about certain movies, and what we don’t like. I use movies all the time as examples, and I really think that were it not for movies, I wouldn’t have become the type of writer I’ve become.

    Theme

    Climax

    I really liked your post, Tiffany. I liked it a lot.

    • Hi, Ray! Thanks for the kind words and links back to your blog. I just navigated through a few pages and I really enjoyed the Suspense post, especially since I love to read and watch suspense. Movies are wonderful tools for writers, and it makes research fun! Thanks for stopping by!

  22. I adored Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile, so does my daughter. Both are my great movies.

    Stephen King is awesome and there’s been great film adaptions of his work; Misery was very well done. However The Shining I can’t even talk about. I loved the book but the film adaptions…! Yuk.

    Another good movie is Finding Forrester, my husband is always pulling it out to watch.

    • Angela, your mother/daughter relationship sounds a lot like mine. I’ve watched Romancing and Jewel with my mother numerous times. She won’t watch horror with me though – neither parent is big on that genre. What did you not like about The Shining adaptation? Thanks for stopping by!

      • Hey, Tiffany. It’s true, I’m blessed with my daughters; we do like the same things and get along for the most part. At least they keep coming back so I’m thinking that’s a good sign. Lol.

        I think for me it was a case no movie could stand up to the book. I loved The Shining and I thought the movie wasn’t even close. I was so disappointed and couldn’t believe everyone was raving over Jack Nicholson’s performance, it was almost a caricature in my opinion which is fine if you don’t already have a formed opinion of the character in question.

        Even worse was how Wendy was portrayed in the the movie. In the book she was such a strong character but I thought Shelly Duvall portrayed her as a whiny wimp. Probably at that perv Stanley Kubrick’s direction. After all these years maybe I should give the movie another try?

        Then there’s the tv version. I couldn’t even get past the first part. I hope I’m not being mean when I say I found that little kid who played Danny annoying; his acting was just too cute. I know I’m picky about this, it is one of my favorite King books; the other being The Stand. Maybe they can never make a good adaption where I’m concerned.

        Or could be they just need to make an adaption that plays it as a straight up horror story with understated performances that are real instead of over the top, whiny self indulgent characters trying to compete with the real horror. I think I’m just going to re read the book instead.

  23. Lena Corazon says:

    Romancing the Stone is one of my favorite movies ever. I went through this period where I watched it 3-4 times a week, just for fun. I basically want to be Joan Wilder, lol, off on a surprising adventure with Michael Douglass.

    Also, I think the movie that Jenny is talking about is Stranger Than Fiction, which was amazing, though not what I was expecting (I was thinking that it would be typical goofy Will Ferrell, but this was much more complex). I loved it, because my friends and I have giggled over what might happen if our imaginary worlds were really some sort of parallel universe, where our characters actually live and exist. However, Stranger than Fiction has an amazing cast, and I highly recommend it.

    Lovely post, Tiffany!

    • You might have actually hit on why I’ve never seen Stranger Than Fiction, Lena – Will Ferrell. I tend to not watch his movies if they are not blatantly listed as comedies. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for stopping by!

  24. L.S. Engler says:

    I have actually never seen any of these films, though I do know about them. I think that needs to change…

    • Ooo, L.S. You should definitely check out these movies. I tried to include a little bit of everything for you to choose from – Romance and comedy (Her Alibi, Romancing the Stone), suspense and psychological (Secret Window), and horror (Misery). I hope you check one or more out and let us know your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by!

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