Movie Break

I took a break from grading last night to watch an old favorite, Throw Momma From the Train a movie starring Billy Crystal and Danny DeVito.  I haven’t seen the movie in years, and Anthony has never seen it, so it was fun to watch both Crystal and DeVito in their “younger years” (the movie came out in the late 80’s).  A part of the movie that did strike me (and that I didn’t remember until I watched it again last night) is that Billy Crystal plays a creative writing professor at a community college with writer’s block (the character has writer’s block, not the college). I guess I can appreciate the character more now because I do teach creative writing at a community college.

In a dark/funny sort of way, the movie does explore many issues with contemporary writers including writer’s block, writing vs. art, and idea stealing.  It also got me thinking: are there other movies that show contemporary writers working?  I don’t mean biopics about real writers — I’m thinking of more fictional accounts.  The only other movie I can think of is Room 1408 starring John Cusack.  Yes, this is a horror movie, but at the beginning of the movie there is a touching scene where Cusack, who plays a writer who specializes in debunking paranormal issues, is at a book signing and a young girl comes up with one of his older books she purchased off EBay.   It’s clear in the movie that Cusack now “specializes” in travel books that explore the supernatural, and that he really wants nothing to do with his writing from the past — in this case, a book about a son’s relationship with his father.  I’m sure that many viewers didn’t really get that scene, but I thought it was the best thing in the whole movie.

So, can anyone out there think of movie clips that may show the contemporary writer at work?  Next semester, I’m thinking of opening my creative writing class by looking at some of these scenes to get my students thinking about writing issues….


  1. Todd Davis Said:


    Another good movie about a creative writing professor is “Wonder Boys.” It’s based on the novel by Michael Chabon, starring Michael Douglas and Toby Maguire.

    I love the idea of starting a creative writing class with such movie clips. It might help start a conversation about the cliches or stereotypes about writers and some of the truth about writing.

    Good luck!


  2. Karen Said:

    Thanks Todd — I thought of the Wonder Boys after I posted. I have never seen the movie, but I loved the book!

    • Gary Said:

      Wonder Boys is one of my favorite movies. It’s hilarious but also really, well, real. Enjoy the flick!

  3. Il Postino? And doesn’t Stephen King have a couple of movies where his main characters are crazy writers, including The shining? How about I Capture the Castle? The movie’s almost as fun as the book.
    Stranger Than Fiction was pretty great.
    I liked Wonder Boys a lot too.

  4. Karen Weyant Said:

    Hi Jeannine — I think you are right. Stephen King did have some movies about writers. I think the Dark Half was about a guy haunted by his pen name (or something like that!) I have never seen I Capture the Castle or Stranger Than Fiction — two books I will add to my movie viewing list!

  5. I loved I Capture the Castle, the book, so much that I’ve been afraid to see the movie. Esp as Marc Blucas (aka bland Buffy love, Riley — I know, a no-win role, but still) as one of the brothers. Wonder Boys, the movie (I haven’t read the book, though I do want to) is great. And I think Johnny Depp & John Turturro star in one of those dark S King films about writers. can’t remember the name of it, however. Fun class that’ll be!

  6. […] 19, 2010 @ 5:36 pm } · { Pedagogy } { Tags: movies } Last month, I talked a bit about the portrayal of writers in movies.  Several of you suggested other names of movies that portray writers in today’s society.  […]

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