Battle in the bedroom

From The Guardian:

Pumpkine372_1 Fellini’s great friend, the screenwriter Cesare Zavattini, once said: “Cinema is a collaboration where everyone tries to erase everyone else’s work.” Certainly the popular convention is to insist that films are made principally by directors; some directors certainly appear to think so. And a second axiom, peddled by the lost generation at Time Out magazine, is that British cinema is weak because it is overly dependent on British theatre.

Both propositions seem to me faulty. A good script is, if not the sine qua non of a good film, at least its most heartening omen. The first gift a playwright has is to write for actors. The better the playwright, the better the roles. This is as true of film as it is of theatre. Harold Pinter regularly offers actors what will become the opportunities of a lifetime: to Meryl Streep, obviously, in The French Lieutenant’s Woman; to Peter Finch and Anne Bancroft in one of the most overlooked of all British films, The Pumpkin Eater; and, unforgettably, to Dirk Bogarde, both in Accident and The Servant. Pinter offers the stuff actors want and with which they can do magic – surface vitality, of course, but also an undertow of narrative and implied feeling which deepens the simplest remark. In the spare, complicated screenwriting of Pinter, “yes”, “no” and “maybe” become words which do a hundred jobs.

More here.