How do you write for film? Not how do you write scripts, but how do you make someone look good when they are writing on film? In a new movie about the trial surrounding the first performance and publication of Allen Ginsberg's epic beat culture poem Howl, James Franco shows us one version. In Terry Gilliam's take on Hunter S Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Johnny Depp offers up another. The question is, can anyone write well on screen ever?

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  • Comment number 76. Posted by BlackMarlin

    on 12 Oct 2011 12:30

    Finding Forrester is excellent - not least for the red-penned corrections and criticisms that Jamal has to deal with. Is this the best piece of film on *editing* writing?

    However, my favourite writing scene of all doesn't involve writing a language. For me, the best scene in 'Amadeus' is that moment near the end when Mozart and Salieri are seen collaborating on his Requiem. It's Salieri's realisation of the sheer scope of Mozart's genius and unconventionality, and then his enthusiasm to continue working with him, his sworn enemy, that makes the scene so extraordinary:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROllcRNrGI4

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  • Comment number 75. Posted by ShoneNanashi

    on 14 Mar 2011 11:19

    Everyone is raving about The Social Network, when they should be looking back to Fincher's earlier exploration of journalism... Zodiac.
    Again, people thinking of King's, Misery, should instead be looking to The Shining, which has arguably the most chilling typewriter reveal in cinema.

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  • Comment number 74. Posted by PretentiousTom

    on 7 Mar 2011 23:45

    The Social Network. Although it is cheating, Zuckerburg is still writing all be it writing code.

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  • Comment number 73. Posted by aperture dilate

    on 7 Mar 2011 12:19

    It all depends I suppose on what is at stake with what is being written. Shindler's List hinges on a 'writing sequence' as Oskar and Itzhak draft from memory, a list of those who will be redirected from Birkenau to Zwittau-Brinnlitz. The intercut action revolves around a typewriter and as well as intensifying the film's pace, the scene is harrowing and indelible.

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  • Comment number 72. Posted by Nick Savvides

    on 6 Mar 2011 19:10

    Even though the film didn't show any actual writing but Finding Neverland works as it is about the inspiration that helped create Peter Pan. It is never about the writing but the story around the writing that makes this film work.

    This is why it is hard to dramatise films about writers and writing. It should be about the writing but the story around the writing.

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  • Comment number 71. Posted by pipthemonkey

    on 5 Mar 2011 02:04

    Best example of a film with entertaining scenes involving typing would have to be The Hudsucker Proxy for me, although this is probably due as much to the witty, mile-a-minute, verbal jousting going on between Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bruce Campbell as it is to the actual typing.

    And yes, All The President's Men is an absolute master class in how to make the extremely tedious business of investigative journalism look like it's edge-of-the-seat stuff.

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  • Comment number 70. Posted by rellik_55

    on 4 Mar 2011 02:25

    I suppose the whole of Mr Holland's Opus is a distraction from Richard Dreyfus trying to write his piece of music.

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  • Comment number 69. Posted by rellik_55

    on 4 Mar 2011 02:23

    In Kind Hearts and Coronets, Louis is writing for the whole film as he is in prison waiting to he hanged. But since the scenes of him writing are only at the beginning and the end, it just becomes a narrated film not one about someone writing.

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  • Comment number 68. Posted by Barney Cremin

    on 3 Mar 2011 20:51

    i thought that the writing in Barton Fink was Well-Done. not much of it Despite John Turturro Learning To Type write only for 4 minutes of the film.

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  • Comment number 67. Posted by antimode

    on 3 Mar 2011 16:10

    The first two films that came to mind were 84 Charing Cross Road and All The President's Men. In 84CCR they soon dispense with the typewriters and stenographers and end up with conversational shots to camera.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPV8sja0dsg&NR=1

    Unfortunately, I found the whole film rather boring.

    In All the President's Men they are doodling on notepads and bashing away at typewriters most of the time but it never drags. One memorable writing scene is when Redford catches Hoffman pinching his copy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgut1zbf27I&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

    Another one is where after a late night meeting with deep throat Redford returns to Hoffman's apartment and uses a typewriter to tell him that they are being bugged and their lives are in danger.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gn3MSQogVeY&feature=related
    (go to about 2:35 into the clip).

    [It was a bummer that deep throat turned out to be a relative nobody instead of Al Haig, wasn't it?]

    Some inventive depictions of writing occur in Quills where Geoffrey Rush as the Marquis de Sade has to improvise with bedsheets, clothing, wine and blood in prison after his writing materials are confiscated and then has to smuggle it to his publishers with the help of the prison laundress (Kate Winslet).

    And if you can't do the writing yourself you could always employ an amanuensis

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlPQD04tn88&feature=related

    (couldn't find an appropriate clip from Ken Russell's Song of Summer but I am sure there is one).





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