I hope you’re all well, regular readers, and occasional ones too. From my writing friends, I gather that everyone is experiencing the same difficulty with concentration. I suppose we all just have to trust that it will return in time.
My MS is currently moving at a snail’s pace, though it is moving. I’ve completed my read through of what I’ve got, and written chapter summaries so I can see the overall shape of the thing. One of the three protagonists isn’t pulling her weight so I stripped out those chapters to study her story arc. I came thiiis close to ditching her altogether because she was annoying me no end (yes, I do know she isn’t real), but then figured out a way of pivoting the character so she has more substance to her. There’s a chance she’ll end up on the cutting room floor anyway, but getting a better understanding of her will help me tell the story, so for now I’m concentrating on her POV.
The most enjoyable part of this project is my film research. I’ve watched so many great old movies in recent weeks and want to share a few that are available in full on YouTube (links below).
To Be or Not To Be
The first is To Be or Not To Be. This is a thoroughly enjoyable comedy, which I wasn’t familiar with until my brother recommended it recently. Released in 1942, it’s set in Warsaw and is about a married couple (played by Jack Benney and a luminous Carole Lombard) who are actors in a theatre company that is shut down by the Nazi invasion. The plot is a bit daft and involves a Hitler impersonator, but it’s very witty and surprisingly upbeat, given the state of the world at the time. Imagine someone making an astute Covid-19 comedy while we’re still in the midst of the pandemic.
A Matter of Life and Death
A Matter of Life and Death was one of David Niven’s most iconic roles, and I loved it the first time I watched it as a kid. In this Powell and Pressburger classic, he plays a WWII RAF pilot who puts out an SOS call as his badly damaged plane struggles back to base across the Channel. He decides to jump despite not having a parachute and doesn’t expect to survive the impact, but remarkably does – through a clerical error made in Heaven. What follows is a beautiful, thought-provoking story that is as profound as it is comical. Niven and his cheeky grin will definitely turn up somewhere in my WIP.
Daddy Long Legs
Daddy Long Legs is an enjoyable, if somewhat problematic musical starring Leslie Caron and Fred Astaire (who features in my book). He’s a wealthy American philanthropist, she’s an 18-year-old orphan in a French convent. When she impresses him during a European trip, he decides to set up a university fund for her to study in America. What makes it a slightly uncomfortable watch is that he’s initially a father figure to her (not knowing who her anonymous benefactor is she refers to him as Daddy Long Legs), and Astaire was considerably older than Caron. Inevitably romance blossoms and the film is not completely successful in selling the shift in their relationship. But it’s worth seeing for the gorgeous musical numbers (like Something’s Gotta Give) and dance routines throughout, and the chance to see Fred play the drums. It’s available to view on Youtube, in sections:
Next up, I’m planning to watch Royal Wedding (Fred again) and Blithe Spirit, starring the wonderful Margaret Rutherford as a medium.
I’m also reading Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, which is giving me a lot of food for thought.
Stay safe, and happy writing – or not, that’s fine too.
Want to read more? The next book report is here.