Though I still question some of the choices filmmakers have made based on the assumption that the primary audience for film today is males 18-25 years of age, I will admit films are growing up again. Okay, so my memory of the “old days” is a bit convenient. Though I won’t waste any time with them, thanks to Turner Classic Movies, I’ve seen some dang silly movies made during Hollywood’s “Golden Era,” though primarily that was a time when character-driven plots ruled. Even the studio logos had personality! What I most remember is that my high school years were pockmarked by the likes of “Beach” and “Carry On” movies. The “Carry On” films were part of Britain’s adolescence: driven by slapstick, sexual humor. Beach movies were driven by music and an assumption of sex — neither of which filled my bill at that time.
The two films that began to change my mind each gave me a rather rude shock. Since the ’80s, American romantic comedies had been aimed at a much younger crowd. We were facing a new crop of actors and a new social sensibility. Though some of them were enjoyable, few were my idea of a great film, “Wings of Desire” was labelled “too talky” and made into a Romantic Comedy called “City of Angels.” “Wings of Desire” relies primarily on two things: what two angels bear witness to and brilliant cinematography; yet it is still a very personal story of an angel who chooses mortality.
“City of Angels” moved the setting from post war Germany to present day Los Angeles, cast Meg Ryan, Nicholas Cage (two of my favorites) and gave the ending tragic overtones, unlike “Wings of Desire” which acknowledged a tragic past while looking forward to an uplifted future. A clear indication that Hollywood and I were of different mind sets.Suddenly while in the library, I tripped over “Hysteria” and Dragonheart” (Universal Pictures 1996.) For those of you who missed it, “Hysteria” was a feminist romantic comedy set in the Victorian era, illustrating the invention of the British personal vibrator. Very funny and very scary, this film focuses on a doctor with the temerity to challenge the managing physician on the hospital’s blatant lack of concern for sanitary conditions. When fired, he ends up working for a physician whose primary clientele were women suffering from “Hysteria” and requiring a proper wank from a licensed physician. The other unignorable character is his new employer’s daughter, an outspoken, free-spirited feminist who runs a clinic for working women. Okay, sex is still a Hollywood staple and no red state politician will ever be able to change that — especially when two strong characters of opposite sex lead the story unerringly forward — three, if you count the vibrator. People have been telling me to see “DragonHeart” for years. And I’m extremely glad I finally listened to them. It’s a love story, not necessarily between the male and female leads — both worthy characters themselves — but between the last Dragon slayer and the last Dragon. You know, a buddy picture. While the female lead was a strong, capable person, she didn’t have as much action as, say, Snow White in “Snow White and the Huntsman,” as the director, Rob Cohen pointed out in the commentary, she was “the moral compass” of the film. Indispensable, unlike so many of Hollywood’s so called “Heroines.” Both “Hysteria” and “DragonHeart” gave me hope for a better cinematic future here. Yet, it’s still a fact that when films spring from a book, a previous movie, or some other “published” inspiration, they become something different, whether or not they stay faithful to the source. We, as writers, need to be aware of that. Books, stories, and stage plays have limited authorship. By it’s very nature, films have many “authors,” producer(s), director(s), writers(s) [I’ve seen as many as twelve screen credits for “writer” in one film], cinematographers, as well as crafts people: effects, make-up, and hair artists, not to mention couturiers. Writing for film requires a very laid back attitude toward collaboration.
RKO’s legacy includes classic films like “Citizen Kane,” “King Kong,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and a plethora of sources for memorable characters.
 Yes, that includes the Bond film: Skyfall (Eon Productions 2012)
Harry Potter’s Dobby, a free elf who knew the meaning of loyalty.
The “Carry On” movies were British favorites from the late fifties through the seventies.
The “Beach” moves were the standard for teenage angst in the sixties.
Wim Wenders‘ “Wings of Desire,” (Road Movies Filmproduktion 1987); Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, and Peter Falk as another fallen angel.
]City of Angels, Nicholas Cage, Meg Ryan, Andre Braugher, and Dennis Franz in the Peter Falk character, directed by Brad Silberling.
”Hysteria“ (Forthcoming Films 2011) Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathon Pryce, Rupert Everett; Director: Tanya Wexler. The DVD extras include excerpts from a documentary about the history of the female orgasm.
 While the film takes dramatic and comedic license with history, sexual stimulation was the standard practice for “Hysteria.”
DragonHeart (Roth Films 2012); Dennis Quaid, Dina Meyer, Sean Connery; Director: Rob Cohen
Snow White and the Huntsman: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth. Director: Rupert Sanders
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer known for it’s extravagant musicals.