Archive for the ‘Frank Capra’ Category

I recently rewatched Family Man with Nicholas Cage in a story similar to It’s a Wonderful Life.  But instead of seeing how the home town would be changed if he hadn’t been born, Nicholas Cage’s high powered, cheerfully selfish character sees what his own life would have been like if he married his college girl friend.

I’d forgotten how heart warming this movie is.  As a modern movie, there are one or two words or comments or scenes that I wish had been sweeter, but overall, the message is great.  And Tea Leonie portrays one of the most realistic overworked but still happy moms that I’ve seen in film.  Some of her interactions with the kids are so realistic, they made me laugh as well as remind me of my own little ones (not so little now) with a hint of tears.

She made a regular mom look sexy and fun, even though she often had frumpy looking clothes and hair.  It gave me hope.

This can be considered a Christmas film because the movie starts at Christmas time.  I think Christmas works well as a background factor in plot development, because it’s a time when characters can feel lonely or have increased family interaction — both can rachet up the tension.  My novels Baby Comes First and The Baby Tree have have important developments hit at Christmas.

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I was recently a member of a jury on a murder trial, which was sad because of the facts, but fascinating, too.  I was impressed with the attorneys — all did fine work — and the members of the jury who took their duties seriously.

Because of this, I was reminded of several romances that have courtroom scenes.

Cover of "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Remaste...

Cover of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Remastered)

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) .   Is the hero crazy or just really sweet?  Very fun competency hearing in a courtroom.  I love Jean Arthur as the cynical reporter who becomes a little pixelated by love.

Witness for the Prosecution (1957 film)

Witness for the Prosecution (1957 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Witness for the Prosecution (1957).  This is not technically a romance in my mind (SPOILER) because it doesn’t end happily, but WOW, what a story.  Marlene Dietrich is beautiful and brilliant in this.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947).  The courtroom scene is played for humor with only a little romance.   That said, I like Santa Claus and I like the judge who doesn’t want to make a ruling.

A  side note:  These films make me want to buy some prettier suits.

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Although the Christmas season is over and New Years Day has almost passed, I wanted to discuss one last Christmas movie.  No doubt I’ll cover more next year, too.  My favorite movie is It’s a Wonderful Life, which contains enough romance to be considered a romantic Christmas movie as well.


English: Screenshot of Jimmy Stewart and Donna...

English: Screenshot of Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in the American film It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve written about this movie before, so I will mention one thing that I noticed as I watched it this year:  Good writing lets the viewer fill in the blanks.

Early in the movie, Mary (George Bailey‘s future love interest) says to George “I will love you till the day I die.”   Now she’s only about 8 at the time and she’s talking into his deaf ear, so he doesn’t hear her, but we, the viewers, hear her.  Since we know that about her, all she has to do is look at George meaningfully in later scenes and we fill in the blanks.


At the high school dance, she looks at him and we know she wants to dance with him because she loves him.    After the dance, when she’s flirting with him and smiles mischievously, we know she loves him.   She tells George that she’d like to live in the ratty old house.  Then when she throws the rock to make a wish, we know that she’s wishing to someday live in that ratty old house with George.


It really is wonderful what a few well placed hints in a screenplay can do.   Part of the joy of fiction is having our expectations met.  We feel clever when we figure things out before the protagonist does.  Which is not to say that we don’t want some surprises, too.  But the best surprises are ones that we realize had been hinted at earlier — if we’d only paid attention or understood.


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