Tuesday, August 13, 2013


          It’s been a very long time since I’ve blogged. Part of the reason for this is that for the past year I’ve been devoting my “writing energy” to completing one screenplay and revising another.
          With the support of my writing workshop and the guidance of its mentor, Ken Rotcop, I’m pleased to say that my efforts have paid off. I’ve just sold my first screenplay, EMPTY CRADLE, to Lifetime Television and production is expected to begin in Vancouver in November.
          At times the reaction I receive when I mention Lifetime is similar to the one I used to get when I wrote for the soaps.  Some people, mostly women, will “admit” to Lifetime being their “guilty pleasure” and others are adamant about “never having watched that kind of thing”. Incidentally, Lifetime Television and Lifetime Movie Channel are two different entities; the former deals primarily with stories inspired by true events, as mine was, whereas those aired on LMC do not.
          It is fair to say that movies on both Lifetime Television and on Lifetime Movie Channel tend to be formulaic and somewhat melodramatic at times, but isn’t there room for melodrama in the arts? I personally prefer this genre to, say, reality television.
          For those film buffs claiming to love classic films starring the likes of Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyk, Joan Crawford, and other leading ladies of the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, I would pose the following question: What do you suppose happened to the genre of film in which these actresses performed?  More importantly, what do you suppose happened to the audiences for those movies, such as those produced by Ross Hunter?
          The answer is obvious. The majority of mainstream films today are geared towards young men between the ages of 16 and 30. With fewer and fewer features targeting the male demographic over the age of 45, let alone the female demographic, movies whose subject matter concern themselves with love triangles, children given up for adoption and unfaithful husbands were not welcomed. With a few notable exceptions (Unfaithful, starring Diane Lane, The Call, starring Halle Berry) even thrillers, if they are female driven, are now relegated to television, specifically to LMC. The bottom line is that there is a need for this particular genre.
          What follows is a compilation of female driven films of yesterday that, had they been made today, might have easily found themselves aired on Lifetime Television or LMC. I’ve listed them in no particular order.

Stella Dallas                            (starring Barbara Stanwyk)
Back Street                              (starring Susan Hayward)
To Each His Own                    (starring Olivia DeHavilland)
My Name is Julia Ross            (starring Nina Foch)
Dark Victory                           (starring Bette Davis)
Madame X                               (starring Lana Turner)
Autumn Leaves                       (starring Joan Crawford)
Gaslight                                   (starring Ingrid Bergman)
Imitation of Life                      (starring Claudette Colbert)
Julia                                         (starring Doris Day)

          I think I’m in pretty good company and just as I had no compunction about “admitting” to watching as well as writing for daytime serials, I am proud to say that my first full length screenplay will be a Lifetime movie.

          I hope to begin blogging again as frequently as I can; thank you for following me in, RHODES LESS TRAVELLED.

Have a nice weekend, Vivian

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Last week I went to see the movie, Gangster Squad, despite the somewhat insipid reviews it received (I rarely look to reviews alone knowing that there have been many movies which received great reviews that I didn’t care for).
            Admittedly, much about what I enjoyed about the movie was the setting. The story takes place in the late forties and is based on the fight the police put up in order to keep gangsters (specifically Mickey Cohen) out of Los Angeles.
            Aside from the music and costume of the era, the general feel of the film was old fashioned. My brother introduced me to gangster movies at an early age and this movie had some of the same elements of those films.
            Josh Brolin, the lead, was the perfect, square jawed hero of many a black and white film and Emma Stone was the consummate femme fatale. My favorite, however, was the good guy/bad guy character portrayed by Ryan Gosling. He calls to mind the pretty boy/gruff charm of Bill Holden as well as the dark, bad guy  seductiveness of Robert Mitchum. A dangerous and appealing combination for most women.
            Some reviewers balked at the gratuitous violence of the film but hasn’t that been the nature of all gangster films throughout the years?
            I’ve listed what are believed to be some of the best gangster movies of all time along with some of my own personal favorites (ie. Roaring Twenties is not usually on anyone’s list but is a favorite of mine).

PUBLIC ENEMY – 1931 (the first of 3 James Cagney movies I’ve listed)
LITTLE CAESAR – 1931 (Edward G. Robinson’s breakout role)
ROARING TWENTIES – 1939 (when Cagney begs Humphrey Bogart not to shoot a young soldier, telling him "the kid’s only about 16" Bogart replies, "well, he ain’t gonna live to see 17", then he shoots him.)
WHITE HEAT – 1949 (another Cagney classic)
THE GODFATHER - 1972 – (probably considered the best gangster movie ever, though I think II is arguably somewhat better than the first – don’t bother with III).
SCARFACE – 1983 (put this one on the list because my husband loved it; way, way too violent for my taste)
ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA – 1984 (classic epic starring Robert Di Niro)
THE UNTOUCHABLES – 1987 (Kevin Costner played a great Eliot Ness as a foil to Di Niro’s Capone in this De Palma film )
GOODFELLAS – 1990 – (One of my favorites. Memorable for Ray Liotta’s portrayal of Henry Hill, as well as  Joe Pesci’s portrayal of the perfect sociopath "you laughin’ at me?")
DONNIE BRASCO – 1997 – (great performance by Johnny Depp)
THE DEPARTED – 2006 – (wonderful Scorsese ensemble including Leonardo DeCaprio, Jack Nicholson, and Matt Damon)

(Honorable mention: Road to Perdition, Casino, MillersCrossing, Mean Streets, Carlito’s  Way, Pulp Fiction, Bugsy)

Thanks for reading Rhodes Less Traveled,  Vivian