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Monday Sparks

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: Movie Music

musical-backgroundw-3817618_1280For me, a movie’s music can elevate a good film to greatness. Or take a good movie down to mediocre level. I would love for audio books to be scored like movies, and I know a few authors who compile playlists to accompany their books. Here are two movies that have scores which make a huge difference to the quality of the movie.

Island at the Top of the World

This Disney adventure movie captured my imagination as a teenager. I don’t know if the movie was one of their top productions because there are no big name stars and the some of the special effects are clunky even for the ’70’s. Maurice Jarre composed the gorgeous score. This composer won Best Score Oscars for Lawrence of Arabia. Dr. Zhivago, and A Passage to India.

He wrote one theme to highlight the hunt for a legendary land where whales to go die. It’s slow and mysterious. He uses the same tune but with different orchestration and tempo to accompany the appearances of the Vikings. (And if you want to know why there are Vikings and whales in the same movie, click on this link.)

Ten Little Indians(1966)

Several adaptations of this Agatha Christie play have been filmed under various titles. Ten people are invited to a secluded location, where a recorded voices tells them they have gotten away with crimes until day. Now justice will be served, and the characters die off, one by one.

This 1966 version is okay. The director seems to have added scenes, like a long fist fight, because he thought audiences needed action. The performances from several wonderful British character actors are a lot of fun.

But the score is completely inappropriate. The jazz score has not a note of mystery or suspense in it. In some scenes, the brass sounds likes they are playing for a strip tease. For more on this movie, read the article from Turner Classic movies.

What are some of your favorite movie music? What are some you can’t stand?

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: What Are Your Guilty-Pleasure Movies?

cinemaw-4213751_1280As I prepared the heading for this post, my youngest read it and ask if it meant you felt like it was a movie shouldn’t have watched. I explained that a person felt guilty for liking some movies because they aren’t considered “good”, or they are so strange or off-beat that not many people like them. As a classic movie fan, most of my movie-viewing might be considered guilty-pleasure. But in an effort to give others the courage to admit that they like movies critics and/or audiences have rejected, I am listing a few of my guilty-pleasure movies.

Abbott & Costello Movies 

On Sunday mornings, when I was growing up, a TV station out of Pittsburgh would run the movies from the 1940’s and 1950’s starring the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. If for some reason I didn’t go to church, I could watch one of their movies. The team cranked out a lot of film, and some of it is unwatchable, even for a dedicated fan. But some are still sidesplittingly funny. My favorites are Hold That Ghost, The Time of Their Livesand Abbott and Costello Meet Frankensteinin which Bud and Lou don’t meet the scientist but the monster,

Many agree that Meet Frankenstein is Bud and Lou’s funniest movie. It’s as if Universal Pictures took their usual horror script and told all the other actors to play it like a straight movie. But Bud and Lou react and make comments that the audience has been thinking, sending up the conventions of the genre. For example, when Lou figures out Dracula is a genuine threat, he wants to clear out because, as a fat guy, he figures he’s got more blood and will attract the vampire’s attention.

The Incredibles and Incredibles 2

Is it okay for an adult to like kids’ movies? I recently watched The Incredibles and Incredibles 2 with my youngest, and we both thoroughly enjoyed them. That’s part of the reason I like them, because I got to share it with my kid. But I find the super-parents’ dilemma with their kids hilarious.

So what are your guilty-pleasure movies?

 

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: Who Are Your Favorite Movie Villains?

canvasw-3001164_1280A hero looks even better matched with a worthy villain. Would Sherlock Holmes have near the enduring popularity if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hadn’t invented Professor Moriarity to combat him? A couple of my favorites are:

Supreme Chancellor Palpatine from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Revenge of the SithThe Chancellor is a wonderful villain before he becomes the evil Emperor. I wish the writers had given him more scenes because actor Ian McDiarmid does such a marvelous job of conveying the character’s insidious campaign of seducing Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side. His scene with Anakin in a theater lets you figure out just how evil the Chancellor is.

Harry Lime from The Third ManIn this film noir, American Holly Martins comes to Vienna right after WWII to meet his friend Harry Lime only to learn that his friend has died in a car accident. Martins suspects murder and conducts his own investigation. The character of Harry Lime is discussed throughout the investigation, and the audience gets to know him from the various descriptions from different characters. It all builds to a intriguing picture of a charming rogue, who, at some point, abandoned the charm, and is now a murderous rogue. I don’t want to spoil the movie, but Harry Lime is one of the all time great villains of movie history.

Who are your favorite movie villains?

 

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: Who Are Your Favorite Movie Heroes?

filmklappew-818198_1280This month’s theme is movies and how being a classic movie fan has influenced my writing.

So who are your favorite movie heroes, characters you will watch over and over again? Here are a few of mine:

  • Sherlock Holmes: I will try most Sherlock Holmes movies, but I haven’t watched the ones staring Robert Downey, Jr. because, physically, he is so unlike my vision of the character that I don’t think I could buy him as the Great Detective.
  • Amateur detectives: I love movies in which a non-professional investigates a mystery. Underdogs have always appealed to me.
  • Unlikely heroes: I know this is pretty broad, but what I mean is when a movie creates a hero that breaks usual movie stereotypes. I’ve only seen parts of a 1943 horror movie called The Return of the Vampire but the parts I have seen I’ve enjoyed because the characters tackling the vampire are not a well-muscled young hero and his brave girlfriend, but a middle-aged women and a almost-retirement-age police inspector, who are trying to thwart the vampire’s efforts to capture the fiancée  of the women’s son.

Who are your favorite movie heroes?

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: Who Is This Character?

girlw-4000270_1280A picture can say so much.

I found this one when I went to Pixabay and typed in the keyword “teen”, just to see what hits I would get. She doesn’t look like a teen to me. Maybe ten years old at the most. Her expression can be interpreted many ways.

Here is how I was inspired:

Ben said his dad was nice.

He looks nice. He’s been playing with his kids the longest time and hasn’t yelled at them once, not even when Ben accidentally knocked his little brother off the slide.

Maybe he’s a safe grown-up.

I’ll watch some more.

Then I’ll know if I can tell him.

How does the photo inspire you?

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