|Their Finest: dueling typewriters|
Writing a novel in isolation is hardly a spectator sport. Sure, there have been good movies about novelists, but the act of writing itself is pretty much a snooze-fest onscreen.
But other forms of writing can be made more cinematic because they involve action — and humor.
A pair (or team, or pool) of writers bouncing ideas off each other verbally while concocting a film or television script is an idea situation: the act of creation is achieved as the jokes fly.
|Boy Meets Girl: sell that story|
A more updated version was that venerable TV sitcom of the 1960s, Dick Van Dyke Show, where staff writers Rob, Buddy, and Sally traded non-stop wisecracks while cobbling together a weekly comedy script for their TV star boss.
Another reliably visual writing genre is journalism. You can't go wrong with reporters out there tracking down a story — especially if they're cracking wise the whole time, as in The Front Page (1931, and remade many times).
Or better still, the 1940 remake, His Girl Friday, recasting the second lead as a female newshound played by Rosalind Russell, following leads and cracking the case alongside star reporter Cary Grant.
|Wax Museum, Glenda Farrel: girl meets typewriter|
When her roomie (Fay Wray) disappears, right around the time the city wax museum begins exhibiting a bunch of new figures of dubious provenance, Farrell convinces her skeptical, hard-boiled editor (Frank McHugh) to let her track down the story — and, boy, does she ever!
The genre inspired its own homage in Woody Allen's Scoop (2006). Ian McShane is great as a recently deceased reporter who haunts cub journalist Scarlet Johansson with clues to a crime, because he — being inconveniently dead — can no longer get the story.
As long as writers are producing the scripts, tales of the writing life will be told onscreen. (Write what you know, and all that.) Here are some of my other favorites.