I Read…and I Watch TV

By Tony Neale,

I’ve started watching Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip because of Aaron Sorkin’s writing. I loved Sports Night. Enjoyed The West Wing (more with Sorkin than without). So far, so good with Studio 60. Sorkin writes banter. It’s crisp, clever and at times cutting. Every one of the above shows has at least one couple whose relationship is bursting with sexual tension. And while I give credit to his actors, they couldn’t have pulled it off without his writing. Preston Sturges wrote great banter, too. Rent The Lady Eve staring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda and see for yourself.

If you want to write snappy dialogue rife with sexual tension make sure you have the right characters to say it. Mousy heroines as a rule do not banter. Nor do stoic heroes. Look at the types of characters that Sorkin and Sturges use to say these lines. Their heroines are strong, capable and at times playful. The Lady Eve is Stanwyck in her spunky gal persona rather than the later tough broad mode or the much later grand dame of the old west. The heroes are generally bright, but not always as articulate as they might like to be. The women usually get the better of the men in the end.

…And Another Thought

I saw an ad for the movie Marie Antoinette, staring Kirsten Dunst and directed by Sofia Coppola. At the end of the ad the announcer says, “based on a true story.” Well, Duh! It’s a film biography, so isn’t that statement redundant? Maybe if it was a film about someone less well known then this additional information might be necessary. But aren’t they still teaching the French Revolution in schools? The film did get booed at Cannes, so are they just insecure about their film or do they think filmgoers are dumb?