Sunday, 29 January 2012

Top Ten: Typewriters in Film

I was inspired to write this list after recently starting to use a beast of a WW2 Imperial typewriter (although not for blogging, obviously), and also after I included the Mujahideen scene from Naked Lunch in my list of Top Ten: Most Unbelievable Moments in Film. I like typewriters. Typerwriters are cool.

10. SE7EN

In David Fincher's Se7en, Morgan Freeman's Detective Somerset spends a good portion of the opening scenes banging away at his police reports on a typewriter - probably to emphasize even further the difference between him and young rip Detective Mills (Brad Pitt) who storms onto the scene and steals his desk just before the two get embroiled in the hunt for serial killer John Doe (Kevin Spacey).



It might have looked like Maggie Gyllenhaal never really got much work done when she became a legal secretary to James Spader, but that's not strictly true - she did get a whole lot of typing done, although quite a lot of it ended up in the bin with red pen (and sometimes worms) all over it.

7. THE 400 BLOWS

In Francois Truffaut's classic of the French New Wave, main character Antoine and his young friend decide to steal a typewriter from his father's office to sell in order to start their own business (whereas these days they'd collect Kindles and iPhones to fence - darn kids and their schemes). It's a great scene, especially when they run through the streets with it - running with a typewriter that size is like trying to run with a bowling ball.


Imprisoned by crazed fan Cathy Bates and forced to write a new novel, James Caan can't handle the pressure. I sometimes understand how he is feeling in the scene below...


Johnny Depp, aka Raoul Duke, aka Hunter S Thompson, is almost never seen without his trusty red typewriter in Terry Gilliam's crazy drug fuelled romp.


Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson) was a Nazi businessman who saved the lives of over a thousand Jews during the Holocaust by bribing Amon Goeth to let him keep Jewish workers in his factory - here we the list of names being put together on a typewriter.


Jack Nicholson goes slowly crazy as he is isolated in a huanted hotel for the winter with his wife and young son while also trying to write a book (another man sent mad by his novel). In the scene below his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) leafs through his papers to see what he's been typing all this time.


In David Cronenberg's/William Burrough's Naked Lunch, typewriters can morph into cockroaches, they can speak, they can move, they can spy on you and everything you write on them - they can even produce some interesting hallucinogenic substances for your enjoyment, should you want them to. Marvel at the scene below as one typewriter chews another to death.


All The President's Men is a classic story of investigative journalism; Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman) slowly unravel the Watergate conspiracy using a combination of phoning everybody they can think of and knocking on doors - and of course, typing it all up on their trusty 1970s typewriters. Best scene: Woodward comes over to Bernstein's apartment, turns on the radio and types out what he wants to say after being told by his undercover source that their lives are in danger and they may be under surveillance.

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