The Gaudier the Patter

by | January 15, 2017 | General | 2 comments

am a child of the cinema. I think that can be said for most of us baby boomers.
And, although television was a big part of our upbringing, the art form that
most influenced us was the movies. It was an overlapping of a preference shared
by the previous generation, which had also been influenced by radio art,
particularly radio dramas. Radio had pretty much gone by the boards by the time
I was coming up.

recall lamenting the death of our television sometime in the 1950s and my dad
saying, “Why don’t you turn on the radio? Maybe ‘The Lone Ranger’ is on.”
And I remember how crestfallen he was when I told him no such shows existed on
the radio anymore.

movies endured, and thanks to television recycling films from the Forties and
even Thirties, we wee boomers also thrilled to the exploits of the likes of Sam
Spade and Rick Blaine.

I was a kid my imagination worked like the movies. I imagined myself as a
character in my own film, exchanging dialogue with other characters.

I was a bit of a contrarian when I was young, so didn’t make a lot of friends.
But, before you begin playing the world’s smallest violin, I recall the friends
I did make had an abiding love of the movies too.

can say I learned to write dialogue by listening to movie lines, and
recognizing the rhythm, appreciating the wit exchanged between characters who
shared a sophistication that made me want to emulate them.

wouldn’t want to be like Bogart? But if I couldn’t grow up to be as cool as
Bogie, Claude Rains would do, or even the immense Sidney Greenstreet, whom I

words that came out of their characters’ mouths. No one could get the edge on
them in a battle of wits.

And what in heaven’s
name brought you to Casablanca?

My Health. I came to
Casablanca for the waters.

The waters? What
waters? We’re in the desert.

I was misinformed.

talks like that? Nobody in my old neighborhood.

I would have liked to have told a miserable old nun, “I’d despise you if I
gave you any thought.”

I got older, I realized characters in movies didn’t spout dialogue
spontaneously. Someone had to put those words in their mouths. I began to
appreciate good writing, particularly dialogue writing, how to make it sound
natural, original, spontaneous.

conversations continued in my head, and when I arrived at a certain age I began
to write them down.

younger folks watch movies on screens barely bigger than the palm of one’s
hand. Dialogue … clever repartee … doesn’t move the plot along as much as
explosions do.

it any wonder the national discourse has been reduced to a childish tweet?

Robert Buckley

Bob's stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including multiple editions of Maxim Jakubowski's Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica.


  1. Lisabet Sarai

    Give me Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn!

    Have you seen LaLa Land? I haven't (yet — my DH hates musicals) but I think I must.

  2. Bob Buckley

    Spence and Kate … that was a pair that made intelligence sexy. I'm afraid I'm in line with your DH on musicals, but I'll watch Fred Astaire in "Easter Parade" whenever it's on.

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