The “10 Memorable Spy Novel Film Adaptations” appeared on the Huffington Post. Glancing through the article and the related video, I noticed one glaring exception on this list. “Hopscotch” by Brian Garfield, which he adapted for a 1980 comedy movie with Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson, was missing. I posted a comment protesting this oversight with a link to the trailer. The comment never got past the moderator. The few comments that did appear weren’t very enlightening. On that note, I decided to put together my list of three great typewriter movies.
Yes, Virginia, typewriters.
Those ancient devices that writers slaved over in isolation before the invention of word processors and laptops made writing in coffee houses fashionable again. A great typewriter movie appeared every four years from the mid-1970 to the mid-1980. As the typewriter became less ubiquitous in society, its starring role in the movies declined over the years. If a typewriter does make an appearance, it’s always tucked away in a corner to gather dust.
1. All The President’s Men (1976)
Set in the newsroom of the Washington Post during the Watergate scandal, typewriters were everywhere as Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) unraveled the criminal conspiracy that forced President Richard Nixon to resign from office in disgrace.
When I wrote my still unpublished first novel from 2007 to 2008, I had “All The President’s Men” playing in the background as I sat at the typewriter. The constant rhythm of the click-clack kept me focus, especially when my typewriter fell silent from figuring out what to do next with the novel.
2. Hopscotch (1980)
After an old CIA agent, Miles Kendig (Walter Matthau), gets punished with a desk job for letting his Russian counterpart go free in West Germany, he plots revenge by writing his memoirs to expose the CIA’s “dirty tricks” division and mailing each chapter to all the intelligence agencies. With the assistance of his Austrian girlfriend, Isobel von Schoenenberg (Glenda Jackson), and her manual typewriter, he stays one step ahead in a Cold War game of hopscotch.
I recently read the novel for the first time. The major change between the book and the movie is keeping Isobel as a central character in movie and eliminating the one night stands as Kendig slept his way through the novel. Having seen the movie years before I read the novel, I enjoyed the movie better than the novel even though they are both similar.
3. Romancing The Stone (1984)
A lonely romance writer, Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner), receives a treasure map in the mail and a phone call from her kidnapped sister to come to South America, beginning a romantic adventure where she meets jungle explorer Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas) and together they search for the stone.
I was always fascinated by the opening scene with the sexy hero freeing the sultry heroine in an Old West bodice ripper that transitions to the writer weeping over her typewriter as she types THE END on the last page. I too have wept over my typewriter, usually on a blank page. This movie always gave me hope that being a writer can lead to having larger-than-life adventures.