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Drama Movies

September 9 2018 Drama Movies Newsletter

"Her linguistic powers were inimitable. Intimidating, at times. She commanded torrents of words that merged into impeccable sentences the way raindrops collected into puddles. In story meetings she was a master of the pitch...In fifteen, twenty minutes, to a hushed room, she would render an entire movie, from FADE IN to FADE OUT, without glancing at a single written note." Michael Frank on his aunt, screenwriter Harriet Frank, Jr. - from his book "The Mighty Franks: A Memoir"

The Frank family was unusually complicated as Harriet's brother married her husband's sister. The two families lived within walking distance of each other in Los Angeles. Harriet Frank had no children of her own and focused all her formidable attention and affection on her nephew, Michael. His relationship with his aunt is chronicled in "The Mighty Franks", published in 2017. Even without the Hollywood connection, this book would still be a fascinating character portrait of a demanding but generous woman and the coming-of-age of a young writer determined to assert his independence.

Harriet Frank, Jr.'s mother was a story editor at MGM who encouraged her daughter to follow the same career path. Harriet's first credit on a feature film was for an Errol Flynn western, "Silver River", in 1949. She then began writing as a team with her husband, Irving Ravetch. They wrote the screenplays for "The Long, Hot Summer" (1958), "Murphy's Romance" (1985), and garnered two Academy Award nominations for "Hud" (1963) and "Norma Rae" (1979.)

Harriet Frank also published two novels. I've been reading "Special Effects", which draws on Frank's work experience. The protagonist is Emma, who works as a story editor at a Hollywood studio. Her husband has left her for a younger woman and she decides to embark on an affair of her own. As Michael Frank says in the quote above, Harriet had torrents of words at her disposal and in this novel there are frankly too many of them. There is an amusing portrait of an agent, however, that I am sure is based on Sue Mengers. To learn more about her, consult Brian Kellow's biography "Can I Go Now?: The Life of Sue Mengers, Hollywood's First Superagent".

Here's the latest article from the Drama Movies site at BellaOnline.com.

The Fencer Film Review
Based on the true story of Estonian athlete Endel Nelis, "The Fencer" is a timeless tale that demonstrates the meaning of personal sacrifice and quiet heroism.


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Angela K. Peterson, Drama Movies Editor

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