Collected quotes on films and writing:

Collected quotes on films and writing:
If you are directing, you have the opportunity to put your signature on the bottom of the frame. You have the opportunity to say, “This is what I believe. That is my credo. That is what I wish to state.” ~ Richard Attenborough

The dance that happens, between actor and director, is a very delicate thing…it’s why people tend to work together on many films over and over. ~ Sydney Pollack

Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners. ~ Jimmy Stewart (ACTOR)

The length of the film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder. ~ Alfred Hitchcock

I think tripods, cranes, and dollies are really artificial. Handheld, when it’s well-operated and well-used, not an MTV kind of thing, it creates and immediacy, a reality, it’s natural. ~ Alejandro González Iñárritu (MEXICAN DIRECTOR)

Once you find the right idea, then go ahead and embellish it. ~ Vincente Minnelli

Your own ego is the only trap that I think you can fall into. ~ Robert Altman

The picture is in your head, in your imagination, everything. ~ Fredrico Fellini(ITALIAN DIRECTOR)

We, as film-makers, are privileged. We can make people cry or laugh. We can make them think and feel. It is a great privilege and a great responsibility. ~ Haskell Wexler-CINEMATOGRAPHER

For me, movies should be visual. If you want dialogue, you should read a book. ~ Vilmos Zsigmond(cinematographer)

No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough. ~ Roger Ebert(critic)

Art depends on luck and talent.
Francis Ford Coppola

Interior liberty is universal.
Krzysztof Kieslowski(POLISH DIRECTOR)

Here are the Three Golden Rules all
Directors Must Know To Survive in the
Film and Television Business Today!
Rule # 1
Have a sense of humour!
Rule # 2
Change your socks and shoes at lunchtime!
Rule # 3
“There are no rules in film making, only sins.
And the cardinal sin is Dullness.”
Frank Capra

For me, light has become a passion dominating my life,
and given my life new meaning, not just as a cinematographer.
Light gives me a feeling of spiritual atmosphere.
Light is with you.
You do not have to feel you are alone.
—Sven Nykvist(Cinematographer)

“Film is your liberation, it’s your demon, it’s your nemesis, it’s everything. It’s your life.”
-Oliver Stone

The cinema is not an art which films life: the cinema is something between art and life. Unlike painting and literature, the cinema both gives to life and takes from it, and I try to render this concept in my films. Literature and painting both exist as art from the very start; the cinema doesn’t.

Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.
Cinema is truth at twenty-four frames a second
A good opening and a good ending make for a good film provide they come close together.
~Federico Fellini(ITALIAN DIRECTOR)

A movie should be as long as one can hold their bladder” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

“On a movie set, it’s better to make a bad decision than no decision at all”
~ Steven Spielberg

“The best way to study directing is to watch a movie with the sound off.”
~ Steven Spielberg

The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them.
~Alfred Hitchcock

Akira Kurosawa(JAPANESE DIRECTOR) quotes:
“With a good script, a good director can produce a masterpiece. With the same script, a mediocre director can produce a passable film. But with a bad script even a good director can’t possibly make a good film. For truly cinematic expression, the camera and the microphone must be able to cross both fire and water. The script must be something that has the power to do this”
“Man is a genius when he is dreaming.”
“In a mad world, only the mad are sane.”
“Movie directors, or should I say people who create things, are very greedy and they can never be satisfied, … That’s why they can keep on working. I’ve been able to work for so long because I think next time, I’ll make something good.”

Hong Kong Director Wong Kar-wai:
The best approach is to let the film make itself, to let it grow organically, day by day. To find the rhythm of the director. To match a script to its space. To gain the confidence of the actors. To regulate the mood (good or bad) of the cast and crew.
It’s not that easy. We all have habits and tastes and references that get in the way. It takes the same energy, the same time and money to make a great film as it does to make a piece of shit!

Cinematographer Christopher Doyle:
The clouds moving across the road in random patterns, the traffic, what’s going on by the roadside – all affect the shot. So you have to think just a little ahead, beyond your mundane self. Why fall back on old habits and other people’s ways? Why not trust your eyes and intuition? Why not use taste instead of training? Try to find what best expresses what’s going on, what’s exciting to your eye. What you end up with may not be “new”, it may not be brilliant, but at least you can say it’s you.
If only film was jazz, if only we could “jam”…We get closer to this with each film; my camera becomes more and more of a musical instrument. On and off, different film speeds, frame changes in shot…these are my key and register shifts. I riff, you solo, we jam towards a free form that we believe a film can be.

A film director is not a creator, but a midwife. His business is to deliver the actor of a child that he did not know he had inside him.

All technical refinements discourage me. Perfect photography, larger screens, hi-fi sound, all make it possible for mediocrities slavishly to reproduce nature; and this reproduction bores me. What interests me is the interpretation of life by an artist. The personality of the film maker interests me more than the copy of an object.

For me, the cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake.
Alfred Hitchcock

I have often thought it was very arrogant to suppose you could make a film for anybody but yourself.
Peter Greenaway

We all steal, but if we’re smart we steal from great directors. Then, we can call it influence.
Krzysztof Kieslowski((POLISH DIRECTOR)

We live in a society that has no adequate images anymore, and if we do not find adequate images and an adequate language for our civilization with which to express them, we will die out like the dinosaurs.

The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.
Alfred Hitchcock

A good film is also a documentary

Love stories that are too simple don’t deserve to have films made about them.
Patrice Leconte(FRENCH DIRECTOR)

Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.

Film lovers are sick people
Francois Truffaut(FRENCH DIRECTOR)

Make visible what, without you, might never have been seen.

The things one can express with the hand, with the head, with the shoulders!… How many useless and encumbering words then disappear! What economy!

All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun.

A director makes only one movie in his life. Then he breaks it into pieces and makes it again.

Movies which set out to be ‘commercial’ usually have an artificial look about them-a certain waxlike quality. They allow for no failure, no moment of mistake.
Nicholas Roeg

There is no formula for success. But there is a formula for failure and that is to try to please everybody.
Nicholas Ray

Collaboration is like the sex of creativity.
Francis Ford Coppola

I didn’t throw myself off my balcony only because I knew people would photograph me lying dead.
Brigitte Bardot on the pressures of her fame

A team effort is a lot of people doing what I say.
Michael Winner

Now I absolutely despise the murderer Werner Herzog. I tell him to his face that I want to see him perish like the llama he executed. He should be thrown to the crocodiles alive! An anaconda should throttle him slowly! The sting of a deadly spider should paralyze him! His brain should burst from the bite of the most poisonous of all snakes! Panthers shouldn’t slit his throat open with their claws, that would be too good for him! No. Big red ants should piss in his eyes, eat his balls, penetrate his asshole, and eat his guts! He should get the plague! Syphilis! Malaria! Yellow fever! Leprosy! In vain. The more I wish the most horrible of deaths on him and treat him like the scum of the earth that he is, the less I can get rid of him!
Klaus Kinski – On The Importance Of Maintaining A Good Actor/Director Relationship

A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.
Orson Welles

Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out
Martin Scorsese

Keep it out of focus – I want to win the foreign picture award.
Billy Wilder to his cinematographer shooting ‘Sunset Boulevard’

Pain is temporary.
Film is eternal.”
The words `Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,’ which I saw on an Italian movie poster, are perhaps the briefest statement imaginable on the basic appeal of movies.
Pauline Kael(CRITIC)

Working in film is like making love to a gorilla. You don’t stop when you want to stop; you stop when the gorilla wants to stop.
David Janssen

Everyone criticises the movies. Yet everyone seems to continue to go to them.
James M. Gillis

Pictures are for entertainment, messages should be delivered by Western Union.
Samuel Goldwyn

Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.
Edmund Burke

Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending ourself that one becomes rich.
Sarah Bernhardt

To bring a film to the screen is to wrestle with monsters dressed as clowns.
David Thomson

There are directors who desire to be artistic. It is pathetic to compare the seriousness of their aim with the absurdity of their attainment.
W. Somerset Maugham

If Hitler’s still alive, I hope he’s out of town with a musical.
Larry Gelbart

I’m not a movie person. They’re collaborations of the worst kind. You must compromise yourself to many interests that are venal and crass and do not have your best interests at heart.
John Irving

Television–a medium. So called because it is neither rare nor well done.
Fred Allen

That’s the trouble with directors–always biting the hand that lays the golden egg.
Sam Goldwyn

The director is the most overrated artist in the world. He is the only artist who, with no talent whatsoever, can be a success for 50 years without his lack of talent ever being discovered.
Orson Welles

Has anybody ever seen a dramatic critic in the daytime? Of course not. They come out after dark, up to no good.
P. G. Wodehouse

I have just read your lousy review. You sound like a frustrated old man who never made a success, an eight ulcer man on a four ulcer job…I have never met you but if I do, you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and a supporter below.
Harry S. Truman
(to critic Paul Hume after his unflattering review of daughter Margaret’s singing recital)

Coughing in the theatre is not a respiratory ailment. It is a criticism.
Alan Jay Lerner

Imitation is the sincerest form of television.
Fred Allen

Quotes on Screenwriting & Writing
Whenever you write, whatever you write, never make the mistake of assuming the audience is any less intelligent than you are.
Rod Serling

…talents such as Kipling had… the discipline of Flaubert. …the conception of what it can be and an absolute conscience as unchanging as the standard metre in Paris, to prevent faking… intelligent, disinterested and, above all, he must survive.
Ernest Hemingway – On what it takes to be a writer – from “Green Hills in Africa”

I wanted to see her laugh, to see how her face would respond to what I said, to watch her eyes, to study her gestures.
Paul Auster – On seeing a woman reading one of his books

Writing is a solitary business. It takes over your life. In some sense, a writer has no life of his own. Even when he’s there, he’s not really there.
Paul Auster

And when he dreams he does not want to write, he does not have the power to dream he wants to write; and when he dreams he wants to write, he does not have the power to dream he does not want to write.
Benedictus de Spinoza

I believe books will never disappear. It is impossible for it to happen. Of all man’s diverse tools, undoubtably the most astounding are his books… If books were to disappear, history would disappear. So would man.
Jorge Luis Borges

Journalism is the first rough draft of history.

A great work must be novel without being far-fetched, frequently sublime, but always natural. The author must know the human heart, and how to make it speak; he must be a poet, without letting any of his characters speak like poets; and he must be a master of his language, using it purely and harmoniously and not letting the rhyme interfere with the sense.
Voltaire – from “Candide”

I began to write, and the past lost some of it’s power – I wrote it out of me.
Graham Greene – from “A Sort of Life”

I suppose that every novelist has something in common with a spy: he watches, he overhears, he seeks motives and analyses characters, and in his attempt to serve literature he is unscrupulous.
Graham Greene – from “A Sort of Life”

A writer’s knowledge of himself, realistic and unromantic, is like a store of energy on which he must draw for a lifetime: one volt of it properly directed will bring a character alive.
Graham Greene – from “A Sort of Life”

It is the duty of a newspaper to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee – From “Inherit the Wind”
It begins with a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is never a thought to begin with.
Robert Frost – on poetry

Human language is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when all the tiem we are longing to move the stars to pity.

This writing business. Pencils and whatnot. Overrated, if you ask me.
Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)

I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.
Toni Morrison

Do not appear so scholarly, I pray you. Humanize your talk, and speak to be understood. Do you think a Greek name gives more weight to your reasons?
Molière The Critique of the School for Wives, 1663

The writer who wants to learn how to use dialogue in the motion picture should try to make his story understandable without the spoken word.
Eugene Vale

“When an old man dies in Africa, a whole library is burned down.”
African saying

You sell a screenplay like you sell a car. If somebody drives it off a cliff, that’s it.
Rita Mae Brown

“Screenwriting,” she once said, “is like writing in the sand with the wind blowing.”
Frances Marion

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.
Anaïs Nin

I loved Feydeau’s one rule of playwriting: Character A: My life is perfect as long as I don’t see Character B. Knock Knock. Enter Character B.
John Guare

Whenever you write, whatever you write, never make the mistake of assuming the audience is any less intelligent than you are.
Rod Serling

Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day.
Norman Mailer

Writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painfull illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon one can neither resist nor understand.
George Orwell

I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I write and I understand.
Chinese proverb

I shall live bad if I do not write and I shall write bad if I do not live.
Francoise Sagan

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.
Robert Frost

Writing is so difficult that I often feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment thereafter
Jessamyn West

One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, in Wilhelm Meister’s “Lehrjahre”

The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.
Anais Nin

Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the yard and shot it.
Truman Capote

The first draft of everything is shit.
Ernest Hemingway

How can you write if you can’t cry?
Ring Lardner

If you have someone on the set for the hair, why would you not have someone for the words?
Louis Malle – telling producers why he wanted John Guare around during the filming of ”Atlantic City”

When you start writing you’re 98% pure writer and 2% critic. After you’ve written for a length of time, you’ve learned a great deal about your craft, and you’ve become 2% pure writer and 98% critic. It’s like writing uphill.
David Westheimer

As a writer, I need an enormous amount of time alone. Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It’s a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write. Having anybody watching that or attempting to share it with me would be grisly.
Paul Rudnick

Writing is easy. All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.
Gene Fowler

Lindsay Doran (producer), James Schamus (co-producer), Ang Lee (director) and I had met previously this month to discuss the latest draft of the script, which is what we’re all here to work through… Lindsay goes round the table and introduces everyone — making it clear that I am present in the capacity of “writer” rather than actress, therefore no one has to be nice to me.
Emma Thompson

A movie is not a book. If the source material is a book, you cannot be too respectful of the book. All you owe to the book is the spirit. Everything else– just tear that motherfucker apart.
Richard Price

Most playwrights go wrong on the fifth word. When you start a play and you type ‘Act one, scene one,’ your writing is every bit as good as Arthur Miller or Eugene O’Neill or anyone. It’s that fifth word where amateurs start to go wrong.
Meredith Willson

There was a time when making ‘Barney Miller’ a hit on the air was my life. I cared about nothing else. That was all I was concerned with. And I told my wife and I told my children if it costs me my relationship with my family, I’m committing five years of my life to making the best television show I can possibly make. Whatever it costs, under any circumstance. And I hocked my house, and I gave up my salary and I did everything to give the show a chance to start going. And that’s what you have to do.
Danny Arnold

They have followed their usual procedure and handed my treatment over to several other people to make a screenplay out of it. By the time they are ready to shoot it may have been through 20 pairs of hands. What will be left? One shudders to think. Meanwhile, they have paid me a lot of money…
Aldous Huxley

They scowled at dialogue, shuddered at jokes, and wrestled with a script until they had shaken out of it all the verbal glitter and bright plotting. Thus they were able to bring to the screen evidence only of their own ‘genius.’
Ben Hecht
on working with some directors

Todd interfered in every conceivable department of the production, not excluding my own; indeed, so far as I know, he is now rewriting the picture as he goes along, grinding the crank, building the sets, unnerving the actors, and generally qualifying as an up-to-date Leonardo da Vinci. It’s inaccurate to describe his cyclonic conduct as energy or vitality– it’s much more a violent frenzy I’m sure the head-shrinkers could classify.
S.J. Perelman
on Mike Todd, during the making of “Around the World in 80 Days”

My chief memory of movieland is of asking in the producer’s office why I must change the script, eviscerate it, cripple and hamstring it? Why must I strip the hero of his few semi-intelligent remarks and why must I tack on a corny ending that makes the stomach shudder? Half of all the movie writers argue in this fashion. The other half writhe in silence, and the psychoanalysts couch or the liquor bottle claim them both.
Ben Hecht

Listen carefully, shake your head thoughtfully, then leave them in the dark… where you found them.
Jack Sowards

on listening to the meanderings of studio development executives
Writers are lucky. Whatever the mood, no matter the longing, the writer can use his words to connect himself to any world he wishes to visit.
Alan Zweibel
from “Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner: A Sort of Love Story.”

Don’t you know the finest things in the world have been written on an empty stomach?”
Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, D.M. Marshman, Jr., “Sunset Boulevard”

To me, that’s disaster. Who’s the authority in that case? I’ve seen that, and I think it’s utterly unendurable, and usually the actor’s wrong. Generally speaking, actors are not writers. I try not to change the script because I think you get into a funny area there. If you start opposing the writer, you lose any sense of discipline, and half the time you’re opposed because you aren’t actually prepared to face the problem. You can fool yourself so easily that way. I mean, if you’ve taken the part because the writing is good, then it’s your business to find a way to play it, not change it because it suits your whim. To me, there’s nothing to take the place of good dramatic writing. Nothing.
John Hurt

replying to the question ”How do you feel about American stars’ power to change the script?”
A writer’s inspiration is not just to create. He must eat three times a day.”
Pierre Beaumarchais

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
Thomas Mann

Write without pay until someone offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this as a sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.
Mark Twain

Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day.
Norman Mailer

It is the writer’s business not to accuse and not to prosecute, but to champion the guilty, once they are condemned and suffer punishment.
Anton Chekhov

A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer.
Karl Kraus 1874-1936

To write simply is as difficult as to be good.
Somerset Maugham

A little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanation.
Saki (H.H. Munro)

People do not deserve to have good writing, they are so pleased with bad.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought; there is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.
Victor Hugo

The only certainty about writing and trying to be a writer is that it has to be done, not dreamed of or planned and never written, or talked about (the ego eventually falls apart like a soaked sponge), but simply written; it’s a dreadful, awful fact that writing is like any other work.
Janet Frame

Today is a dawdly day. They do seem to alternate. I do a whole of a day’s work and then the next day, flushed with triumph, I dawdle….The crazy thing is that I get about the same number of words down either way.
John Steinbeck

Writers write about what obsesses them.
Anne Rice

Anybody can become a writer, but the trick is to STAY a writer.
Harlan Ellison

I’ve only written a tenth of what I know– and they’re already screaming.
Albert Camus

It is the task of the scenarist to invent little pieces of business that are so characteristic and give so deep an insight into his creatures, that their personalities clearly and organically unfold before the eyes of the audience so that the latter feel that the actions of these people are contingent upon their characters, that there exists some kind of a logical fate, and that nothing is left to mere accident or coincidence….
Ernst Lubitsch

I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I write and I understand.
Chinese proverb

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are gone, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.
Benjamin Franklin

Writing is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living.
Catherine Drinker Bowen

The writer is by nature a dreamer– a conscious dreamer.
Carson McCullers

A writer lives, at best, in a state of astonishment. Beneath any feeling he has of the good or evil of the world lies a deeper one of wonder at it all.
William Sansom

I shall live bad if I do not write and I shall write bad if I do not live.
Francoise Sagan

First get your facts; then you may distort them at your leisure.
Mark Twain

The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those who have not got it.
George Bernard Shaw

Writers have an island, a center of refuge, within themselves. It is the mind’s anchorage, the soul’s Great Good Place.
Wright Morris

…I had decided that the only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn’t require any
Russell Baker

All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.
Robert Frost

I loathe writing. On the other hand I’m a great believer in money.
S.J. Perelman

Against the disease of writing one must take special precautions, since it is a dangerous and contagious disease.
Peter Abelard, in “Letter S, Abelard to Heloise”

It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.
Robert Benchley

A writer is always admired most, not by those who have read him, but by those who have merely heard of him.
H.L. Mencken

Little presses write to me for manuscripts and when I write back that I haven’t any, they write to ask if they can print the letter saying I haven’t any.
John Steinbeck

No poet or novelist wishes he was the only one who had ever lived, but most of them wish they were the only one alive, and quite a number fondly believe their wish has been granted.
W.H. Auden

Every author really wants to have letters printed in the papers. Unable to make the grade, he drops down a rung of the ladder and writes books.
P.G. Wodehouse

There are three reasons for becoming a writer: the first is that you need the money; the second, that you have something to say that you think the world should know; the third is that you can’t think what to do with the long winter evenings.
Quentin Crisp

I write because I hate. A lot. Hard.
William Gass

The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can’t help it.
Leo Rosten

Writers are only rarely likable.
Joan Didion

A writer is a controlled schizophrenic.
Edward Albee

The whole world can be divided into those who write and those who do not write.
Soren Kierkegaard

Writing is the hardest way of earning a living with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.
William Saroyan

Writing is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to those who have none.
Jules Renard

Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.
Jules Renard

Fifty years old and still only a writer!
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.
Groucho Marx

I think that the fact that I’ve been pretty successful and don’t have too many really terrible shows, and have a reasonable amount of good ones around is that I’ve always thought that I was as good as the material and no better. And I once wrote for Peter Sellers and I saw how that poor man was preyed upon by film producers who’d say ”Ah, don’t worry about the script, Peter. You’re so funny, you’d be funny without the script.” The moment that you start believing that you can be funny in a situation that isn’t any good…
John Cleese

My work is at a typewriter. It always will be.
Garrison Keillor

In the afternoons, Gertrude Stein and I used to go antique hunting in the local shops, and I remember once asking her if she thought I should become a writer. In the typically cryptic way we were all so enchanted with, she said, ”No.” I took that to mean yes and sailed for Italy the next day.
Woody Allen

I type in one place, but I write all over the house.
Toni Morrison

After being turned down by numerous publishers, he decided to write for posterity.
George Ade

Nothing is less sacrosanct than a mediocre book.
Helene Hanff

It’s much more important to write than to be written about.
Gabriel Maria Marquez

Life is too noisy. Reading is a quiet time for the soul.
William Bennett

How can you write if you can’t cry?
Ring Lardner

The writer’s way is rough and lonely and who would choose it while there are vacancies in more gracious professions, such as, say cleaning ferryboats?
Dorothy Parker

Getting even is one reason for writing.
William Gass

To me, writing is a horseback ride into heaven and hell and back. I am grateful if I can crawl back alive.
Thomas Sanchez

Every great man has his disciples, and it is always Judas who writes the biography.
Oscar Wilde

Writing is the hardest work in the world not involving heavy lifting.
Pete Hamill

Having imagination, it takes you an hour to write a paragraph that, if you were unimaginative, would take you only a minute. Or you might not write the paragraph at all.
Franklin P. Adams, Half a Loaf (1927)

It is the glory and the merit of some men to write well, and of others not to write at all.
La Bruyere, Characters (1688) tr. Henri Van Laun

I always do the first line well, but I have trouble doing the others.
Moliere, The Ridiculous Precieuses (1659) tr. Donald M. Frame

Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
Samuel Johnson

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.
Mark Twain

No wonder the really powerful men in our society, whether politicians or scientists, hold writers and poets in contempt. They do it because they get no evidence from modern literature that anybody is thinking about any significant question.
Saul Bellow

The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.
Oscar Wilde

An editor is one who separates the wheat from the chaff and prints the chaff.
Adlai E. Stevenson

There are no dull subjects. There are only dull writers.
H. L. Mencken

Americans like fat books and thin women.
W.H. Auden

I’d like to have money. And I’d like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that is too adorable, I’d rather have the money.
Dorothy Parker

If writers were good businessmen, they’d have too much sense to be writers.
Irvin S. Cobb

The dubious privilege of a freelance writer is he’s given the freedom to starve anywhere.
S.J. Perelman

The artists who want to be writers, read the reviews; the artists who want to write, don’t.
William Faulkner

Critics sometimes appear to be addressing themselves to works other than those I remember writing.
Joyce Carol Oates

If you have someone on the set for the hair, why would you not have someone for the words?
Louis Malle

telling producers why he wanted John Guare around during the filming of ”Atlantic City”
I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve it through not dying.
Woody Allen

I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.
Peter De Vries

If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that’s read by persons who move their lips when they’re reading to themselves.
Don Marquis

Literature is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to people who have none.
Jules Renard

I like to think of the world I created as being a kind of keystone in the universe; that, small as the keystone is, if it were ever taken away the universe itself would collapse.
William Faulkner

…write when there is something that you know; and not before; and not too damned much after.
Ernest Hemingway

You have all the scenes. Just go home and word it in.
Samuel Goldwyn

to Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond
Everywhere I go, I’m asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.
Flannery O’Connor

I don’t know whether or not Bacon wrote Shakespeare’s plays. But if he didn’t, he missed the chance of a lifetime.
Samuel Johnson

I’m a Hollywood writer, so I put on a sports jacket and take off my brain.
Ben Hecht

What’s all this business of being a writer? It’s just putting one word after another.
Irving Thalberg

You gotta take the sour with the bitter.
Sam Goldwyn – giving Billy Wilder his philosophy on life

Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.
Gustave Flaubert

We work in the dark–we do what we can–we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.
Henry James

This means something. This is important.
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind

When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.
Mark Twain

Art is a moral passion married to entertainment. Moral passion without entertainment is propaganda, and entertainment without moral passion is television.
Rita Mae Brown

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo de Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.
Graham Greene

Hollywood is the only town where you cannot fail. You can only quit trying.
Dennis Foley

Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots. Don’t let this get around.
Herman Mankiewicz telling Ben Hecht about Hollywood

We could live like counts… If all that money is out there, I might as well hack a little on the side and put the novel off.
William Faulkner, considering an offer to write for Hollywood

I can’t talk about Hollywood. It was a horror to me when I was there and it’s a horror to look back on. I can’t imagine how I did it. When I got away from it I couldn’t even refer to the place by name. ‘Out there’ I called it. You want to know what ‘out there’ means to me? Once I was coming down a street in Beverly Hills and I saw a Cadillac about a block long, and out of the side window was a wonderfully slinky mink, and an arm, and at the end of the arm a hand in a white suede glove wrinkled around the wrist, and in the hand was a bagel with a bite out of it.
Dorothy Parker

MGM bores me when I see them, but I don’t see them much. They have been a help in getting me introductions to morticians, who are the only people worth knowing.
Evelyn Waugh

Satires which the censor can understand are justly forbidden.
Karl Kraus

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
Edgar Allen Poe

If you’re an artist, you’ve got to prove it.
Laurence Olivier

To escape criticism – say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.
Elbert Hubbard

Don’t be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.
Arthur Miller

You can take all the sincerity in Hollywood, place it in the navel of a fruit fly and still have room enough for three caraway seeds and a producer’s heart.
Fred Allen

Strip away the phony tinsel of Hollywood and you’ll find the real tinsel underneath.
Oscar Levant

I love criticism just so long as it’s unqualified praise.
Noel Coward

A director and an actor cannot save a bad script, like no unity.
Actors like to be sympathetic, they want to be loved by the audience, director has to watch out for that.
Actors tried to make every scene the big one, actors act to be liked by audience. Director has to watch this. Director has to keep things in proportion.
A director should not put actors on marks per say.
Director has to make scene seem actual, rather than theatrical.
Director is an observer.
Director’s job is to make a scene work. If it works, it works. Don’t worry about the logic.
Director must have wisdom and street smarts.
Director must understand people.
Director to actors: “Show me what I don’t expect”.
Director wants people behavior, like people.
Director get hold of the audiences pulse and their heart string. And play on it like a fiddler. With great sensitivity and great understanding people’s romanticizism. The audience is extremely romantic.
Good Director will turn the actors loose to see what they come up with.
It is good for a director to know all the elements of movie making.
Never argue with actors, get them to do what you want.
A film editor is looking at the picture with complete objectivity… they should try very hard to pretend they’re the audience
Oliver stone tries to remain as flexible as possible and considers the editing process itself “the last rewrite.”
The editor needs to have a rigorous discipline, to know why you’re doing the picture; it’s about sensitivity and selectivity
Editing is the movement and manipulation of frames, within which more movement takes place
you can learn more from looking at a shadow than you can by looking at the light. You can tell the direction, the softness, the intensity, and the fill-to-key ratio by looking into the shadows… Shadow is what gives you contrast and contrast is what gives you shape and drama

Film editing is now something almost everyone can do at a simple level and enjoy it, but to take it to a higher level requires the same dedication and persistence that any art form does.
Walter Murch

This applies to many film jobs, not just editing: half the job is doing the job, and the other half is finding ways to get along with people and tuning yourself in to the delicacy of the situation.
Walter Murch

The essence of cinema is editing. It’s the combination of what can be extraordinary images of people during emotional moments, or images in a general sense, put together in a kind of alchemy.
Francis Ford Coppola

Particularly in the final stages I always find that I’m rushed. It’s dangerous when you’re rushed in the editing stage, most of my early films are flawed in the cutting.
Satyajit Ray

“Art is a marriage of the conscious and the unconscious.”Jean Cocteau

“An original artist is unable to copy. So he has only to copy in order to be original.”Jean Cocteau

“The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.”alfred hitchcock
“Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.”alfred hitchcock

There’s nothing more important in making movies than the screenplay.
Richard Attenborough

A film director has to get a shot, no matter what he does. We’re desperate people.
Elia Kazan

“Camera moves should reflect the chaotic mental state of the character.”
Woody Allen

“The script is not everything. It’s the interpretation that’s everything.”
Martin Scorcese


#13 Years of SANTOSHAM

May 9th is a memorable day for me.

“SANTOSHAM”(2002),which is my first film as a writer,released on May 9th.

It Ran 100 days in all main stations.Got State Nandi(Bronze) for Best Picture & also won Nandi for Nagarjuna garu as a Best Actor.

Director Dasaradh got good name & fame with this film.

R.P.Patnaik in full form and gave very good music to Santosham.R.P won Filmfare for this film.

“Aa Naluguru” director Chandra Sidhartha wrote a beautiful english bit song in this film.

Our friends Yadagiri,Toopran Sreenu,Saikishore,Naveen Bandi worked for this film as assistant directors.

Thanks and congrats to Dasaradh,Nagarjuna garu,Durga Arts & Team.

#13 years of Santosham

Santosham Full Film


Great Screenwriters on their Craft:

Elmore Leonard on Writing: ‘If It Sounds Like Writing, I Rewrite It’

Elmore Leonard:Acclaimed film work:



Charlie Kaufman on Screenwriting at BFI 
Charlie Kaufman Masterclass:



Stephen King:

Writer Speaks:

Notable Work:


The Shining(1980),
The Green Mile(1999),
Stand By Me(1986).

King has stated that his favorite book-to-film adaptations are Stand by MeThe Shawshank Redemption, and The Mist.

His works/Film Adaptations:
1976 Carrie (based on the novel from 1974)
1980 The Shining (based on the novel from 1977)
1982 Creepshow (consists of five short films; two based on the short stories “Weeds” from 1976 and “The Crate” from 1979, the rest King wrote specifically for the film)
1983 Cujo (based on the novel from 1981)
1983 The Dead Zone (based on the novel from 1979)
1983 Christine (based on the novel from 1983)
1984 Children of the Corn (based on the short story from 1977)
1984 Firestarter (based on the novel from 1980)
1985 Cat’s Eye (consists of three short films; two based on the short stories “Quitters, Inc.” from 1978 and “The Ledge” from 1976, the other one was written specifically for the film)
1985 Silver Bullet (based on the novella Cycle of the Werewolf from 1983)
1986 Maximum Overdrive (based on the short story “Trucks” from 1973)
1986 Stand by Me (based on the novella The Body from 1982)
1987 Creepshow 2 (sequel to the 1982 film, consists of three short films; one based on the short story “The Raft” from 1982, the other two were written specifically for the film)
1987 A Return to Salem’s Lot (sequel to the 1979 mini-series)
1987 The Running Man (based on the novel from 1982)
1989 Pet Sematary (based on the novel from 1983)
1990 Tales from the Darkside: The Movie(consists of three short films; one based on the short story “The Cat from Hell” from 1977, the other two have no connection to King)
1990 Graveyard Shift (based on the short story from 1970)
1990 Misery (based on the novel from 1987)
1992 The Lawnmower Man (loosely based on the short story from 1976)
1992 Sleepwalkers (original screenplay)
1992 Pet Sematary Two (sequel to the 1989 film)
1993 Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (sequel to the 1984 film; only sequel to be released theatrically)
1993 The Dark Half (based on the novel from 1989)
1993 Needful Things (based on the novel from 1990)
1994 The Shawshank Redemption (based on the novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption from 1982)
1995 The Mangler (based on the short story from 1972)
1995 Dolores Claiborne (based on the novel from 1993)
1995 Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest(sequel to the 1993 film; first sequel to be released straight to video)
1996 Sometimes They Come Back… Again(sequel to the 1991 TV film)
1996 Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering(sequel to the 1995 film)
1996 Thinner (based on the novel from 1984)
1997 The Night Flier (based on the short story from 1988)
1998 Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror(sequel to the 1996 film)
1998 Apt Pupil (based on the novella from 1982)
1998 Sometimes They Come Back… for More (sequel to the 1996 film)
1999 The Rage: Carrie 2 (sequel to the 1976 film)
1999 Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return(sequel to the 1998 film)
1999 The Green Mile (based on the novel from 1996)
2001 Hearts in Atlantis (based on the novella Low Men In Yellow Coats from 1999)
2001 Children of the Corn: Revelation (sequel to the 1999 film)
2001 The Mangler 2 (sequel to the 1995 film)
2002 Firestarter 2: Rekindled (sequel to the 1984 film)
2003 Dreamcatcher (based on the novel from 2001)
2004 Secret Window (based on the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden from 1990)
2004 Riding the Bullet (based on the novella from 2000)
2005 The Mangler Reborn (sequel to the 2001 film)
2007 Creepshow III (unofficial sequel to the 1987 film; consists of five short films, none of which were written by King)
2007 1408 (based on the short story from 1999)
2007 The Mist (based on the novella from 1980)
2007 No Smoking (based on the short story Quitters Inc.)
2009 Dolan’s Cadillac (based on the short story from 1985)
2011 Children of the Corn: Genesis (sequel to the 2001 film)
2013 Carrie (third adaptation of the novel from 1974)
2014 A Good Marriage (based on the 2010 novella, Screenplay by Stephen King)
2014 Mercy (based on the short story “Gramma” from King’s 1985 collection Skeleton Crew)
2015 Cell (based on the 2006 novel, Screenplay by Stephen King, post-production)


Anthony Minghella-Media Masterclass-Directing Films
Acclaimed Work:
The English Patient(1996)
The Talented Mr Replay(1999)
Cold Mountain(2003)


The Writer Speaks:Billy Wilder
His acclaimed works:


The Writer Speaks:Robert Towne

Notable Films:

Writer speaks:Lorenzo Semple Jr
Lorenzo’s Popular works:
Papillon (with Dalton Trumbo) (1973),
King Kong (1976),
Hurricane (with Tracy Keenan Wynn and Walter Hill) (1977),
Flash Gordon (with Michael Allin) (1980)
Sheena (with David Newman) (1984),
Never Too Young to Die (with Gil Bettman) (1986)

The Writer Speaks:Paul Mazursky
Notable Films:
Blume in Love (1973), 

The Writer Speaks:James L Brooks

Anatomy of a Story:John Truby:Screenwriting Lessons

Hollywood Screenwriters on the Art of Dramatizing Real Life:
Writing for stage and screen:Hollywood script Readers reveals the tips of the trade
The Writer Speaks:Carl Reiner

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 21, 2015 in Film Club


My Interview to Desi Plaza Tv 2013 Nats

Mr Gopimohan Telugu Movie Writer Speaking To Desi Plaza TV



The Writer Speaks…

Two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter has penned some of the most iconic, lauded and cherished movies of all time, including Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, All The President’s Men, Marathon Man, The Princess Bride, Harper, Misery and A Bridge Too Far. He has written, co-written or consulted on vehicles for towering movie stars including Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Michael Douglas, Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Matt Damon, James Caan, Clint Eastwood and Anthony Hopkins.


Screenwriting Tips from William Goldman:

“The easiest thing to do on earth is not write.”

“Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you, that Demon being the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound.”

“Screenplays are structure, and that’s all they are. The quality of writing—which is crucial in almost every other form of literature—is not what makes a screenplay work. Structure isn’t anything else but telling the story, starting as late as possible, starting each scene as late as possible. You don’t want to begin with “Once upon a time,” because the audience gets antsy.” 

“Whoever invented the meeting must have had Hollywood in mind. I think they should consider giving Oscars for meetings: Best Meeting of the Year, Best Supporting Meeting, Best Meeting Based on Material from Another Meeting.”

“If you write movies, you never know who the enemy is. Someone is going to fuck you, that’s a given.” 

“There is one crucial rule that must be followed in all creative meetings: Never speak first. At least at the start, your job is to shut up.”

“Studio executives are intelligent, brutally overworked men and women who share one thing in common with baseball managers: they wake up every morning of the world with the knowledge that sooner or later they’re going to get fired.”

“Being a screenwriter is not enough for a full creative life.”

“As far as the filmmaking process is concerned, stars are essentially worthless — and absolutely essential.”

“Stars, you have to understand, play gods. They have be perfect. They can’t have a flaw unless they can wink at the audience and say, ‘I’m really wonderful.’ “

Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.

Spend 90 minutes with William Goldman and learn about his “Inconceivable” writing Career:

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 18, 2015 in Film Club


Akira Kurosawa Quotes for Screenwriters & Filmmakers

Akira Kurosawa Quotes for Screenwriters & Filmmakers:

“Most directors have one masterpiece by which they are known. Kurosawa has at least eight or nine.” – Francis Ford Coppola
Probably most famous for his epic, THE SEVEN SAMURAI, Akira Kurosawa has always been more popular in the West than in his native Japan. His big breakthrough came with RASHOMON, the film that introduced Western filmmakers to Japanese cinema and spawned an army of imitators and countless remakes. Following a lean spell in the 1970s he returned to filmmaking, reaching his peak with the multiple award winning RAN in 1985, an epic adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear.

1. “In order to write scripts, you must first study the great novels and dramas of the world. You must consider why they are great. Where does the emotion come from that you feel as you read them? What degree of passion did the author have to have, what level of meticulousness did he have to command, in order to portray the characters and events as he did? You must read thoroughly, to the point where you can grasp all these things. You must also see the great films. You must read the great screenplays and study the film theories of the great directors. If your goal is to become a film director, you must master screenwriting.”

2. “With a good script, a good director can produce a masterpiece. With the same script, a mediocre director can produce a passable film. But with a bad script even a good director can’t possibly make a good film. For truly cinematic expression, the camera and the microphone must be able to cross both fire and water. The script must be something that has the power to do this.”

3. “Human beings share the same common problems. A film can only be understood if it depicts these properly.”

4. “I‘ve forgotten who it was that said creation is memory. My own experiences and the various things I have read remain in my memory and become the basis upon which I create something new. I couldn’t do it out of nothing. For this reason, since the time I was a young man I have always kept a notebook handy when I read a book. I write down my reactions and what particularly moves me. I have stacks and stacks of these college notebooks, and when I go off to write a script, these are what I read. Somewhere they always provide me with a point of breakthrough. Even for single lines of dialogue I have taken hints from these notebooks. So what I want to say is, don’t read books while lying down in bed.”

5. “Something that you should take particular notice of is the fact that the best scripts have very few explanatory passages. Adding explanation to the descriptive passages of a screenplay is the most dangerous trap you can fall into. It’s easy to explain the psychological state of a character at a particular moment, but it’s very difficult to describe it through the delicate nuances of action and dialogue. Yet it is not impossible. A great deal about this can be learned from the study of the great plays, and I believe the ‘hard-boiled’ detective novels can also be very instructive.”

6. “Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing.”

7. “The role of a director encompasses the coaching of the actors, the cinematography, the sound recording, the art direction, the music, the editing and the dubbing and sound-mixing. Although these can be thought of as separate occupations, I do not regard them as independent. I see them all melting together under the heading of direction.”

8. “When I start on a film I always have a number of ideas about my project. Then one of them begins to germinate, to sprout, and it is this, which I take and work with. My films come from my need to say a particular thing at a particular time. The beginning of any film for me is this need to express something. It is to make it nurture and grow that I write my script- it is directing it that makes my tree blossom and bear fruit.”

9. “A film director has to convince a great number of people to follow him and work with him. I often say, although I am certainly not a militarist, that if you compare the production unit to an army, the script is the battle flag and the director is the commander of the front line. From the moment production begins to the moment it ends, there is no telling what will happen. The director must be able to respond to any situation, and he must have the leadership ability to make the whole unit go along with his responses.”

10. “Movie directors, or should I say people who create things, are very greedy and they can never be satisfied… That’s why they can keep on working. I’ve been able to work for so long because I think next time, I’ll make something good.”

Akira Kurosawa, 1910 – 1998


Akira Kurosawa, Francis Ford Coppola, and George Lucas during the production of KAGEMUSHA, 1980.






Leave a comment

Posted by on April 15, 2015 in Film Club


John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath

John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath —a collected articlegrapes tumblr_n55lkeefY01r65o3qo2_500 The-Grapes-Of-Wrath-1940-20th-Century-Fox 600full-the-grapes-of-wrath-poster 1ecc1a654d2cc42f2dbb6ee03c6bbcae

Throughout its relatively young life, the motion picture industry has produced an enor- mous number and variety of films that have ranged from glaring examples of artistic ineptitude to hallmarks of cinematic excellence. Although many of these films have proven memorable for both good and bad reasons, only a few have come to be regarded as true “classics.” The films in this category for the most part are centered on a universal and timeless concern that in turn helps those films achieve the enduring excellence that qualifies them as classics. One such film is The Grapes of Wrath, directed by John Ford and based on the novel by John Steinbeck.

The Grapes of Wrath tells the story of a family uprooted by the combined forces of na- ture and mechanization and forced into a struggle for survival. Although it is set during the Depression of the 1930s, the film does more than describe the plight of Oklahoma farmers. Director John Ford uses the existing social problem as a background for the development of the film’s major themes: familial survival and the related struggle for human dignity, especially for the common man or the “have nots” of society. To a lesser degree, Ford also stresses man’s affinity for the land and the need for a communal consciousness among society’s underdogs, but those are mainly subthemes used to help support the film’s central focus on the family and its survival.

Throughout the film, that focus is constantly reiterated. When Tom tells Ma of his growing anger against the system, Ma replies, “You gotta keep clear, the family’s breaking up. You gotta keep clear.” And again, when Tom kills the man who murdered Casey, Ma begs him to stay and help keep the family together. She tells Tom, “They was a time when we was on the lan’. They was a boundary to us then . . . we was the family, kinda whole and clear. An’ now we ain’t clear no more.”

Ford’s success in conveying his themes in The Grapes of Wrath is greatly aided by his mastery of fictional and dramatic elements, and one of the most important of these is a unified and believable story. Ford and screenwriter Nunnally Johnson manage to transport the Joads from Oklahoma to California using a continuous line of action, with each scene leading logically and inescapably to Tom’s growing sense of discontent and resolve and the family’s eventual strengthening through adversity. Even though the film ends on an optimistic and perhaps overly sentimental note, The Grapes of Wrath presents a realistic and believable portrayal of a migrant family. According to the film, there are no easy solutions to the prob- lems faced by the Joads, and indeed, the viewer receives the impression that there may be no solution except acceptance and the determination to survive.

Another facet of the story that adds to its believability is the understated handling of the emotional material. The relationships of the individual family members, the death scenes, Connie’s desertion of the family, Rose of Sharon’s increasing melancholia, and other potentially emotional scenes are played down to a point where they become more indicative of the family’s growing acceptance of sorrow as just a part of their everyday lives. There is very little demonstrative affection shown even between Ma and Tom, and Ma makes the statement at the end that “we ain’t the kissin’ kind.” That statement, made as she and Tom say goodbye to one another and briefly kiss, has much more emotional impact than it would have if they wildly clung to one another.

The success of the film’s story also owes much to a strong dramatic structure. Using a chronological beginning with Tom’s return home and the resulting introduction of the main characters and the problems they face, The Grapes of Wrath moves with a growing intensity toward the climax. The film’s major conflict between the “haves” and the “have nots” is introduced in the opening minutes of the film as Tom asks the truck driver for a lift. When the truck driver points out the “No Riders” sticker on the window, Tom’s answer reveals his view of society’s class conflicts when he replies: “Yeah, but a good guy don’t pay no attention to what some heel makes him stick on his truck.” Conflict builds as the characters, particu- larly Tom and Casey, see more and more of the injustices around them. When their passion and the forces surrounding them finally collide in the fight scene, that climax leads naturally to the dénouement and Tom’s decision to leave. A flashback near the beginning of the film also furthers the dramatic structure as Muley recalls with painful intensity how the big “cats” invaded his farm. This scene effectively foreshadows the pain and struggle in store for the Joads as the film progresses.

Symbolism is another tool used by Ford to add to the dramatic structure. Much of that symbolism is religious in nature and revolves around the failed preacher, Jim Casey. Beginning with his initials, continuing with his described wandering in search of truth, and ending with the final sacrifice of his life, the film more than hints at Casey as a Christ-like figure. He even tells his persecutors just moments before they kill him that they don’t know what they are doing. More religious symbolism can be seen at the opening of the film when the small, lone figure of Tom Joad is shown walking toward a crossroads and later when he becomes a disciple and convert to Casey’s philosophy of life.

Another strong symbolic image centers upon Ford’s use of hands grasping for soil. The symbol recurs throughout the movie. In one scene, Muley squats down to pick up a handful of dirt and utters his plaintive cry that the land belongs to the ones who were born, lived,and died on it. In another scene at John’s farm, Grandpa grasps a handful of soil as he also reaffirms his dedication to the land he is losing. “This is my dirt,” he says. “It’s no good, but it’s mine, all mine.” Perhaps the most effective use of this symbol occurs as Grandpa is dying. His last action is to grasp a handful of dirt in a final attempt to hold onto his “land.” All of this symbolism serves to re-emphasize the thematic qualities of courage and determination in the face of loss and despair by illustrating the characters’ unwillingness to give up the only possession they feel they have left.

As with its use of symbolism, The Grapes of Wrath utilizes characterization to communicate some of the major truths of the film. And, in fact, the characterization truly makes the film come alive in many respects. Jane Darwell’s Ma Joad was a brilliant portrayal of a woman who, while already a strong figure, develops into the sole anchor and strength of her family. Darwell’s size and plain but expressive features helped her portrayal significantly, but Ma Joad really came alive on screen through a combination of Darwell’s acting skills and the marvelous dialogue she had to work with in the majority of her scenes.

Examples of the artistry of the Ma Joad characterization abound in the film. At the start of the film, we see a tired and almost beaten woman burn her mementos and refuse to look back at the home she is forced to leave. But as the story progresses, Ma gradually makes more and more of the decisions as Pa gradually relinquishes his role as head of the family. Ma herself recognizes this fact when she tells Tom, “Your Pa’s lost his place. He ain’t the head no more.” The often poor grammar and vocabulary used by the character make her seem more believable as an uneducated farm wife, but what she says and the power with which she says it reveal the true nature of her strong and noble character.Even small traits, such as the care with which she puts her hat on before she goes outside into the dirt and squalor, reveal her resolve not to let circumstances break down the last vestiges of the traditions she clings to so desperately.

Tom Joad, the other main character in The Grapes of Wrath, also shows development throughout the film. Starting as a somewhat hardened ex-convict who just wants to be left alone to tend to himself and his family, Henry Fonda’s Tom comes to the conclusion that “a fella ain’t got a soul of his own, just a little piece of a big soul.” Ford develops Tom from a rather calm and controlled man with a chip on his shoulder to a man whose inner rage finally results in his taking action to try and change the injustices he can no longer tolerate.

That penchant for violence is carefully developed through what becomes a leitmotif for Tom—his punctuating of strong statements with exclamation marks of “violent action.” That violent undercurrent and the tension within Tom are constantly present as Fonda tenses his jaw muscles as though trying to control his inner rebellion. It finally erupts in scenes such as the one where he slams the door of the truck and tells the driver he was im- prisoned for homicide. Another instance where he can no longer control his anger occurs when he smashes a whiskey bottle against a rock after telling Casey he “killed a guy in a dance hall.” Finally, his anger in response to Casey’s death explodes with his killing of Casey’s murderer. By the end of the film, the preceding events have made him see that the only chance for the common folk is to work together to try and right things for everyone. As in the case of Darwell, Fonda was an excellent choice for the role he played. His tall, lanky build and his slow-moving, slow-talking manner, which seemed to mask an inner fire, makes Tom Joad come alive on the screen.

All of the characters were excellently cast and portrayed flawlessly down to the smallest bit part. Perhaps the most effective supporting player emerged with John Qualen’s excellent portrayal of Muley Graves. In a classic example of name typing, Ford managed to use the name Muley to help convey the character’s stubborn refusal to give up his land. Using Graves as the last name reinforced the “graveyard ghost” image of the character. Qualen’s large, staring eyes and almost manic expressions added to the characterization of Muley as a dramatic foil to the Joads. Unlike the Joads, with their stoic acceptance of change and re- solve to deal with it, Muley comes across as a man unable to deal with the realities of his situation. He is virtually destroyed by change.

The individual characters are interesting in themselves, but the conflicts involving them and revolving around them are what make the characters of importance to the viewer. The constant striving to maintain human dignity and family values against a system and against circumstances that seem bent on destroying those qualities is what gives The Grapes of Wrath its drama and power. That conflict and its implied resolution for each of the main characters is the very essence of the film itself. Each character’s individual battle against the hardship and injustices foisted upon the family and the joint effort to survive as a family unit brings the viewer a sense of kinship with the people on the screen. The very fact that not all of the characters survive the conflict just adds to the film’s realism. Without the Joads’ constant battle to survive amid the forces of nature and society, The Grapes of Wrath would not have emerged as the classic it is but would have joined countless unimportant films that have not survived the test of time.

In considering time, it is also necessary to view the setting for The Grapes of Wrath. The time period in which the story takes place is obviously crucial to the theme and mes- sage of the film. Set in a time when countless numbers of people were out of work and faced with poverty and a loss of hope, The Grapes of Wrath explores a universal problem even though its focus is mainly on the plight of one family. The social structures and economic factors at work during the Depression of the 1930s led to a lot of questioning on the part of society itself, and individuals with ideas of social reform similar to the views held by Casey and Tom were making themselves heard by a larger number of citizens than ever before in society. The contrasting attitudes evinced by the camp guards and establishment figures in the film are also indicative of the times and add even more realism to the film.

With land and the loss of land an integral part of the story, the physical location of The Grapes of Wrath also proves important to the film’s overall message. The rural roots of the Joads in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl region were obviously important in shaping their values and character. Although Ford relies mostly on dialogue and Muley Graves’s narration of events to illustrate the ravaging of the Oklahoma farmland, the Joads’ small, bleak farmhouse and the old, dilapidated truck adequately convey the poverty of their environment. In later scenes, as the Joads travel west, the setting of the camps also contributes to the realization of what they are up against in their struggle. The dirt and shabbiness of the first camps parallel one of the lowest points in the family’s journey, and the clean and well-run government camp proves a better setting for the new sense of optimism emerging at the end of the film.

Ford has been criticized for setting so much of the film indoors and on studio sets rather than in a more visually appealing and realistic outdoor background; but his use of tents, small rooms, and the cab of the Joads’ truck helps define the trapped and confined at- mosphere of the Joads’ world at that time. The sometimes artificial settings also help define the Joads as being more important than their surroundings.

One other dramatic element worth noting in The Grapes of Wrath is the use of irony. Throughout much of the film, the Joads continually refer to California as the land of milk and honey, a place where they will be able to regain much of what has been taken from them. As the story progresses, however, the viewer sees that the Joads are in for a rude awakening. Part of the family is lost on the way; their first view of the land shows a dusty, barren desert as bleak as the land they left; and the jobs they thought would be in plentiful supply are few and far between. Indeed, the “grapes” that Grandpa wanted so badly have turned into a harvest of injustice, poverty and unrest-truly “grapes of wrath.”

Irony and all of the other dramatic and fictional elements utilized by Ford in the pro- duction of his film classic are made even more effective by their combination with the visual elements that are essential to the film medium. In The Grapes of Wrath, Ford manages to keep a continuous flow of starkly dramatic and powerful images before the viewer, using a very tight and controlled cinematic composition. As mentioned previously in the discussion of setting, Ford placed most of the film’s scenes in limited spaces. There are very few long shots in the film. A long shot of Tom at the film’s beginning as he walks toward the cross- roads is followed for the most part by scenes that are either tightly framed, set in small, cramped areas, or shot so that darkness cuts off the outer edges of the visual image. Even the long shot of Casey and Tom walking toward the Joad farm and the one of Tom walking up the hill at the end have a closed feeling to them. The contrast between the dark, solid ground against the “wall” of sky once again adds a studiolike look to the scenery and pre- vents the viewer from perceiving any sense of spaciousness or freedom.

Unlike the typical modern film, The Grapes of Wrath purposely avoids movement and physical action. Most of the dialogue is delivered by relatively still figures in an atmosphere of oppressive silence. This static composition focuses our attention on the most dramatic points in the film: tableau images of the characters, who are seemingly frozen by their inability to understand or cope with the events that are turning their lives upside-down. Ford seems to be trying to focus the viewer’s attention on the family members and their personal reactions to the problems surrounding them rather than on the problems themselves. The only real sense of movement in the film is imparted through its montage sequences where the Joads do momentarily become more a part of the overall surroundings. The montage shots are used to portray the passage of time as the Joads travel across the country. Road signs and glimpses of long lines of vehicles trailing down the road do give the viewer a sense of the Joads as part of a larger world. Another montage showing the big “cats” ripping up farmland compresses the torturous destruction of the farmers’ lives into a brief but effective shot. The constant background droning of the heavy engines and the superimposed low- angle image of the treads almost make viewers feel that they are being run over by the mas- sive, devouring machines, which keep coming rapidly one after the other. This scene also symbolizes the Okies’ helplessness to halt the “progress” that threatens to annihilate them.

For the most part, however, the editing of the film is geared toward emphasizing the family unit and not the social and physical environment. Slow fade-ins and fade-outs provide smooth visual transitions, adding to the overall mood and highlighting the dramatic ten- sions within the separate scenes. There is an uncharacteristically jarring note resulting from the editing of the film. Noah, the brother who begins the journey with the rest of the fam- ily, just disappears somewhere along the way with no mention made of what happened to him. Readers of Steinbeck’s novel know that Noah is retarded, and although this condition is clearly shown in the film, it is sometimes missed by viewers. In the novel, Noah believes himself to be a burden to his family and simply walks off after the bathing scene, never to return. This scene did not appear in the finished film.

On the whole, however, Ford utilized excellent cinematic compression to avoid filming unnecessary scenes from the book. In Grandpa’s burial scene, the camera moves in for a close-up shot of Tom adding an “s” to the word “funeral” in the letter he has written. With the simple addition of this letter, Ford manages to foreshadow Grandma’s death and imply that she also will receive the standard burial. Thus, he does not have to use additional film time to show the burial.

Another very important visual element that adds to the dramatic effect of The Grapes of Wrath is the lighting. The majority of scenes in the film take place at night or in very low- key lighting and fit in naturally with the dark and bleak future that seems to be awaiting the Joads. Casey and Tom meet at dusk; Muley’s story is told in a darkened house lit only by a candle; most of the Joads’ departures occur at night; the Keene ranch scenes take place mostly in the cabin, where low-key lighting provides a dim setting; and the fight scene is played out not only in the dark but amid the mist and fog hovering over the dark water. Tom and Ma’s parting also is a night scene, but from there the film moves into sunlight as an accompaniment to the Joads’ more optimistic departure from the government camp.

The contrast in lighting within individual scenes also creates some vivid effects. Most of the light that does exist in the various scenes comes from candles, lanterns, or flashlights and results in the characters’ faces taking on an unreal quality. The scene with Muley in the Joads’ deserted farmhouse is especially illustrative of Ford’s mastery of low-key lighting. As Tom and Casey enter the deserted house, they and the viewer are met with a complete dark- ness that is broken only when Muley suddenly appears like a ghost, eerily illuminated in the flickering light of a candle. The viewer, along with Tom and Casey, senses the mysterious- ness of the scene and wonders about the fate of the Joads. Muley even refers to himself as an “ol’ graveyard ghost,” and indeed, that is what he resembles in the dark and deserted farmhouse. The characters’ pale faces and darkly expressive eyes give an added emphasis to their dialogue. Casey’s final speech to Tom in the tent prior to his death is made with the light from a coal-oil lamp illuminating his face, and once again his Christlike resemblance is emphasized. The low-key lighting here and throughout the film provides an intensity to the characters and scenes that would not exist in brightly lit conditions. Even in the few instances of high-key lighting included in The Grapes of Wrath, shadows are employed to add a dark overtone to the overall mood. When Muley squats in the dust following the destruction of his home, his shadow is diminished into a flat, one-dimensional figure, and we are made to see that Muley has become only the empty shell of a man. The high-angle camera shot also serves to diminish his importance.

One other visually effective tool employed by Ford in The Grapes of Wrath is his use of reflection to increase the dramatic depth of a scene. Ma’s sad look back at her youth and happiness when she goes through her mementos is made even more dramatic when she holds up the dangling earrings and observes herself in a dusty mirror. For a moment, in the dust and gloom, the lines and wrinkles imposed by age and suffering are softened, and we can almost picture a younger and happier woman. The other highly effective use of reflec- tion occurs in the scene of Pa, Tom, and Al in the cab of the truck. The cramped, tightly framed night scene acquires an added layer of depth when we see the panoramic desert scene unfolding before their ghostlike faces reflected on the dusty windshield.

Ford’s composition throughout the film creates a very objective point of view. The viewer more or less observes the film through a “window” with an almost stage-like quality imparted to the scenes viewed through the camera’s eye. This in turn makes the viewer extremely conscious of the dramatic aspects of the film. There is really only one point in the film where Ford employs a sustained subjective point of view. As the Joads drive into the first camp, we see the camp through their eyes as though we were in the truck with them. Ford seems to be trying to make the viewer share the Joads’ first jarring realization that their fu- ture may not be as promising as they had been led to believe. For a brief, uncomfortable moment, we “become” the Joads and feel like unwanted newcomers entering a hostile twilight zone of poverty and despair. The eyes of the camp residents are not only on the Joads; they are also viewing us with suspicion and hostility. On the whole, however, the scenes of The Grapes of Wrath are viewed as one might view a stage play, and once again we are made to focus on the Joads as opposed to the ongoing action around them.

Although point of view and visual elements are essential parts of any cinematic film, the use of sound can greatly enhance the dramatic message. In The Grapes of Wrath, it is often the silence or absence of sound that provides the emotional intensity emanating from the film. As mentioned earlier, most of the dialogue is delivered in an otherwise silent set- ting. This makes the viewer concentrate on each word and every nuance of meaning. In the scene where the Joads enter the first camp and see the dirt and despair around them, the silence broken only by the barking of stray dogs further increases the oppressiveness of the camp.

The lonely sound of howling wind is also used effectively to punctuate the dramatic movement within the film. Ford uses the sound at appropriate moments such as the scene where Muley tells why the Joads have to move. The sound of the duster and the visual signs of a blowing wind serve as narrative transitions between the present and the past as Muley relates his story. The wind also comes up to howl and blow debris around the farmyard as the Joads leave Uncle John’s house. This gives an even more deserted look and feel to the abandoned farm.

Another aspect of the film related to sound is the use of music as a background for the unfolding events. In The Grapes of Wrath, the background music is limited like the rest of the sound. In fact, the dominant theme music heard throughout the film is the folk song “Red River Valley.” The haunting refrains of this song are used sparingly to highlight the major emotional scenes such as the one of Ma reviewing her life’s souvenirs and the final goodbye between Ma and Tom. It is also used to convey deep sadness as the Joads pull away from the abandoned farm. A flapping door is the only other accompaniment as papers and dust swirl around the abandoned farmhouse, increasing the sense of desertion and the ending of one phase of the Joads’ lives. As the truck turns onto the main highway heading west, the music changes instantly into an optimistic and heroic hymn of hope. “Red River Valley” is also employed effectively at the dance, this time with words: When Tom starts singing the lines of the song while dancing with Ma, we see the frightened and sad look on her face as she listens to the part of the song signifying farewell. As Tom sings, “Come and sit by my side if you love me. Do not hasten to bid me adieu,” we see the expression on Ma’s face change from one of happiness to one of worry and fear. Ford uses this to foreshadow the final parting of Ma and Tom. The lyrics “Just remember the Red River Valley and the boy that has loved you so true” add to that foreshadowing and also re-emphasize the Okies’
departure from Oklahoma (the Red River Valley). The song that Connie plays and sings on the store porch at one of the camps, “Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad,” summarizes his feelings about the journey west and foreshadows his subsequent desertion of the family.

Throughout the previous discussion of sound, visual elements, and dramatic and fictional elements, it has been clear that this film was strongly influenced by the director’s style. A director who believed in the simplicity of visual statement, Ford was sparing in his use of camera movement, dialogue, and background sound, and this style is clearly evident in The Grapes of Wrath. Ford was also known as a director who shared an empathy with the common people but also imposed a rather strict and traditional moral code on their actionsHe believed in an adherence to traditional values, and the Joads’ fight to maintain their values fits in concisely with that style.

Ford’s intention with The Grapes of Wrath was to film a strong, compelling story of a 370 family’s struggle to survive and to maintain a level of human dignity, and in this he succeeded.
All of the elements described in the earlier part of this analysis were used to further Ford’s sense of what his film was meant to communicate. At times Ford and the film itself have been
criticized for not following the aims of the original novel. Critics have said that the socialistic
themes of the book and the implied suggestion of the common people banding together to
combat the forces of established power and authority were lost in Ford’s cinematic version of
the Joad saga, and, in a very real sense, those critics are correct. Ford subordinated concern
for the family of man to concern for one man’s family. At the same time, however, he pro-
jected a sense of universality. The Joads may not have meshed as much as they might have
with the surrounding families, but they served as a sharply delineated representation of an individual family’s response to the forces around it. And in many ways, this imparted a sense
of realism to the film. Most families, when their very existence is threatened, are much more concerned with their individual survival than they are with the survival of society as a whole.
This viewpoint is clearly conveyed several times during the film. When Joe Davis’s boy comes
to bulldoze Muley’s farm and is asked why he is doing this, he replies, “. . . for three dollars a
day. That’s what I’m doing it for. My wife and my three kids and my wife’s mother got to
eat.” This same idea is repeated in the dialogue between Casey and Tom. When Casey wants
Tom and the others to join the strike, Tom says, “I know what Pa’d say. We ate tonight. Not
good, but we ate, and that’s all Pa cares about.” Even when Tom comes to share some of
Casey’s conclusions that “A fella ain’t got a soul of his own, just a little piece of a big soul,” he
still implies that his concern is with making life better for his family by finding out what’s
wrong and trying to do something about it. He also voices the concern that if he stays, he
will endanger the family he and Ma have been trying to save.

After an analysis of all of these various elements, I can truly say that I found The Grapes of Wrath a strong and compelling film that more than deserves its reputation as a “classic.”
Ford’s artistry in conveying his film’s message through the use of clear and precise visual im-
ages and understated yet deep emotional content made the film reach out to me as a viewer.

The perfect casting of such superb actors as Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, and John Carradine added to the film’s believability, as did Nunnally Johnson’s well-structured screenplay and Gregg Toland’s expressive photography. The parts of the film that perhaps can be termed as overly sentimental and optimistic somehow seemed to fit in with the overall theme. Even Ma’s final speech (“They can’t wipe us out. They can’t lick us. We’ll go on forever, Pa, ’cause we’re the people.”) has an honest ring to it despite the sentimental overtones.

Although The Grapes of Wrath may not have been a completely realistic look at the plight of migrant workers from the nation’s Dust Bowl, it wasn’t meant to be a documentary. It succeeded as it was meant to succeed, as a haunting and evocative image of a specific era of American history and of the type of people that lived through it and endured.

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 13, 2015 in Film Club


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 28 other followers