Jane Fonda has success fighting writer’s block and Nazis in “Julia”

Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave in Julia

In her role portraying Lillian Hellman in the 1977 film Julia, Jane Fonda shows us the trials and glories of the writing life. The movie opens with a good bit of footage devoted to her early career and struggles as a playwright. She is living with her long-term lover (the  famous writer Dashiell Hammett) at the time.

In the film, when Jane turns to Hammett (Jason Robards) for advice and mentorship, we learn that he has stopped writing as well, though the theme of his writing travails is not explored. Luckily this was an era when typewriters were used, so the director was able to feature several scenes in which Jane Fonda rips a page out of the typewriter in disgust, which she then crumples in a ball and throws across the room. This is the classic cinematic portrayal of the blocked writer, and if Lillian Hellman never actually did this, she should have. In addition to throwing paper balls, she also throws rocks, drinks (Scotch), cigarettes (Chesterfields) and a typewriter (out the window). Evidently Lillian was no stranger to rage states, and one assumes that the hurling of objects helped her sort out various plot and dialogue conundrums.

Fortunately for Lillian Hellman, she finally overcomes her blocks, writes a draft that Dashiell approves of, becomes famous, and then smuggles fifty grand to Nazi resistors in Germany.

This movie received several Oscar nominations, including for the category “Most scenes in a writing block movie that include cigarettes and booze.” Lily and Dash enjoyed smokes and drinks as well as words.

About David Rasch

Author, psychologist, speaker, teacher, consultant, workshop leader
This entry was posted in Common Writing Block Problems, Famous writers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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