Category Archives: Screenwriting

The Wisdom of Hollywood Screenwriters — They Died With Their Boots On

Tweet One of the most beautiful and touching films where marriage and family is the central subtext is They Died with Their Boots On (1941), a fanciful retelling of the George Armstrong Custer legend starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. The screenplay is by Æneas MacKenzie,Wally Kline, and Lenore J. Coffee.

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Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1960s: To Kill a Mockingbird

Tweet We continue our survey of the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1960s. For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1950s, click here. For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1940s, click here. For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1930s click here. For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1920s click here. 6. To […]

Also posted in Great Movies, Greatest Movies of the 1960s, Hollywood, To Kill a Mockingbird, Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1960s | Tagged , , , , , , | 27 Responses

Confessions of a Shomer Shabbos Hollywood Screenwriter

Tweet Act I: Exposition—In Which the Main Characters and Primary Drama Are Introduced It’s Shabbat morning. I’m in synagogue, praying, where an undertone of chatter is definitely not the norm. For me, a frum-from-birth screenwriter, this synagogue, where my wife and I have been members since we moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn, is my […]

Also posted in Devil's Arithmetic, Hollywood, Judaism | Tagged , , , , , | 37 Responses

Tough Dames, Tough Dialogue

Tweet Less is more. That’s the rule I follow when writing dialogue for one of my films. In truth, when writing a screenplay, I make every effort to draft scenes with no dialogue. Zip. Zero. Nada. Film is, or should be, primarily a visual medium where the story is told using images. But of course, […]

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Tough Guys, Tough Dialogue

Tweet The trick in writing dialogue for movies is to write as little as possible. Less is more. But when you do use dialogue, every word counts; every word a precious jewel that, ideally, delivers the proper balance of tone, characterization, and story. Here are a few examples of brilliant dialogue where we learn everything […]

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Israel Faces Chemical Islam — The Screenplay

Tweet Wide Angle Shots: American liberal-progressives move to disarm law-abiding American citizens. Barack Obama’s vision of a degraded American military gains traction among the elites. America supports the Muslim Brotherhood, a proudly Jew-hating, America-hating, genocidal-yearning gang of Islamic theocrat fascists. Intertitle: Somebody has to take the lead in the fight against the rising tide of […]

Also posted in Islamic Terror, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Muslim Brotherhood, Obama Watch, Second Amendment | Tagged , | 6 Responses

How to Write a Screenplay — How to Win an Election

Tweet Seraphic Secret voted early. A few years ago, at our local polling station, an election volunteer looked at yours truly, checked my name on the registration ledger and said: “You’re a Republican? But you look like such a nice man!” That was the last time I voted at a polling station. I decline to […]

Also posted in 2012 Election, Mitt Romney, Obama Watch | Tagged , | 11 Responses

Days of Heaven

Tweet There was a moment on my walk this morning, at about 5:30 a.m., when I just stopped dead in my tracks and watched the horizon change from blue-black to blushing violet. In the movie industry, this stretch of time is known as magic hour. Cinematographers who shoot in these few precious moments, if they […]

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Friday Flickers: My Life As A Mankiewicz

Tweet The son of famed writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewics, (All Abut Eve, A Letter to Three Wives, Guys and Dolls, Cleopatra) and the nephew of Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman Mankiewics, Tom Mankiewics (1942-2010) was Hollywood royalty. Humphrey Bogart gave Tom his first drink. He dined with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, and spent an evening […]

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Preston Sturges’ Rules for Box Office Appeal

Tweet The other day a young screenwriter asked yours truly how I go about constructing a script. “I start at the end. I need to know my ending and resolution—two distinct narrative end-points—before I start writing the script.” The young screenwriter asked if my story ideas start with character or plot. “Sometimes character, sometimes plot. […]

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Union Depot: Yearning For Zion In A Hollywood Classic

Tweet The camera swoops majestically through an enormous train station picking out individuals in the crush of humanity: soldiers, sailors, hookers, pickpockets, cops, Pullman porters, immigrants in peasant garb. This exhilarating opening is a tour de force of vignettes with characters delivering rapid fire dialogue perfectly timed to the swirling, unfettered movement of the G-d […]

Also posted in Hollywood, Israel, Jean Harlow, Joan Blondell, Kubec Glasmon, Zionism | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Responses

Telling the Truth in Hollywood

Tweet A less than glamorous job, most successful screenwriters are solitary individuals who work quietly and diligently at their craft. But screenwriter Peter Viertel (1920 – 2007) lived the jet-set life that is the glittering exception. Born in Dresden to an artistic and assimilated Jewish family, mother Salka was a screenwriter who was Greta Garbo’s […]

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The Religious Wisdom of Preston Sturges

Tweet The Great McGinty (1940) charts the rise and fall of a Depression era hobo to mayor of a city, then Governor, and finally exile in a banana republic. Though a satire, Preston Sturges, certainly the greatest writer-director in Hollywood history, was a keen observer of American political life. McGinty, played by Brian Donlevy, finds […]

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The Wisdom of Hollywood Screenwriters

Tweet From where do we draw wisdom? First and foremost, Seraphic Secret relies on Torah, on the lessons of 3,000 years of Jewish history and the common sense advice of my wife Karen. And then there are the movies, a moral landscape of immeasurable power where searing images and razor-sharp dialogue deliver lessons in human […]

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The Wisdom of Hollywood Screenwriters

Tweet From where do we draw wisdom? First and foremost, Seraphic Secret relies on Torah, on the lessons of 3,000 years of Jewish history and on the common sense advice of my wife Karen. And then there are the movies, a moral landscape of immeasurable power where searing images and razor-sharp dialogue deliver lessons in human character […]

Also posted in Hollywood, Wisdom of Hollywood Screenwriters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Responses

The Wisdom of Hollywood Screenwriters

Tweet From where do we draw wisdom? First and foremost, Seraphic Secret relies on the Torah—written and oral—on the lessons of 3,000 years of Jewish history, and on the common sense advice of my wife Karen. And then there are the movies, a moral landscape of immeasurable power where searing images and razor-sharp dialogue deliver […]

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Billy Wilder: The Ten Commandments of Screenwriting

Tweet Billy Wilder (1906-2002) was one of Hollywood’s greatest writer directors. From the naughty elegance of The Major and the Minor, 1942, in which the grown-up Ginger Rogers disguises herself as a teenager, to the lacerating portrait of Hollywood in Sunset Boulevard, 1950, Wilder’s work stands at the pinnacle of movie craftsmanship. In the invaluable […]

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