Writing On Spec

An award caliber procrastinator discovers a new and dangerous pursuit to keep him from actually writing another script. Why another Blog? I love to talk screenwriting. I love to talk story. I live in Richmond, VA. It's almost easier to get produced than find another screenwriter here. We are the anti-LA.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Hard to Believe

I must admit, that although I'm a huge screenwriting fan and I love films, I haven't been as rabid as some are - plowing through the history of film and writers as far back as the written word goes.

So I decided recently to watch The Seven Year Itch. I'm almost ashamed to say I haven't seen it just because it's one of the "biggies" that I just believe is on the must-see list.

I must say that I was underwhelmed by the first act just because it was so chock full of monologue and setup. There really wasn't much going on at all. However, once Marilyn is introduced, things started rolling. I'm not a huge Monroe fan, but I would have to agree that she's something else on screen.

What is really great is there is a backstory section on the dvd that talks about the the stars, the writers, the history of the film, etc. For somebody who isn't in the industry and hasn't been a history fan, it was quite an eye-opener.

For starters, I certainly feel for Marilyn Monroe. I'm peripherally aware of her career and how things ended, but this short featurette really put a different slant on how things were for her. To be honest, it was just as bad as anything today, if you ask me, because although stars have privacy issues, they are privacy issues. It would appear that back in the 50's the subject of a star having privacy wasn't an issue. She seemed more to be "owned" by the studio and they would do whatever they wanted if they felt it was in their best interest - regardless of the impact on her.

Secondly, I'm stunned about the Hayes office and the Legion of Decency. It's no wonder all the films of yesteryear seemed so damned innocent - they had the life censored out of them. From the featurette, which has interviews with Billy Wilder and George Axelrod (the writer), you learn that the original play was much spicier - with lots of sexual banter and - wait for it - an *actual* affair! In the film, there is no affair - merely a few kisses.

The Hayes office created a list of rules that films had to adhere to - one of these rules being that you could not speak of sexual infidelity in a humorous manner. There were many restrictions on subject matter, language, etc. In addition to the censorship going on, the Legion of Decency would also stamp movies they approved of with their seal of approval. If a film didn't have them seal of approval, they would recommend to all Catholics that they avoid the film.

It's akin to allowing Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson censor all our films before we see them.

Think about that. Let that sink in.

Wow.

Then think about some of the films that Billy Wilder did during that time and all of a sudden, you realize why this guy is such an icon. It's not just the films, it was he was able to do at the time he did them.

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