Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Rose in a Garbage Pail

We have a guest blogger today! Edie Ramer has progressed to the fourth round of the American Title V contest! You can follow the link to read the dialogue excerpts from each contestant. I think it’s a no-brainer: Edie’s excerpt rocks! If you haven’t already voted, you have until March 2. Please help someone’s dream to get published come true!

image Thanks to Spy for having me here today!  We just had the Academy Awards on TV a few days ago, and my blog is about an Oscar winning movie from 1960: The Apartment, starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray, directed and co-written by Billy Wilder. 

Spy writes emotional blogs, which is why I love her and why I chose this topic.  The Apartment is an emotional movie.  Under Genre, IMDB lists it as Romance, Comedy and Drama, the kind of movie that makes viewers laugh, cry and leaves them with a smile. 

A few weeks ago I saw an old clip of Jack Lemmon talking about the movie.  He said it was “much like growing a rose in a garbage pail.”  If you’re not familiar with The Apartment, MacLaine’s character is dating a married man.  Lemmon’s character is lending his apartment to cheating executives where he works so he can get ahead.  That’s the garbage pail.  But at the center of this movie is a great love story.  That’s the rose.

Here’s the trailer for the movie:

Can you see how loveable Jack Lemmon is?  Despite his sleazy actions, who wouldn’t like him?  As for Shirley MacLaine, she loves MacMurray and when he won't divorce his wife and marry her, she tries to commit suicide.  In Lemmon's bed. 

It’s okay for us to like Lemmon and MacLaine’s characters because they’re paying for their sins.  When Lemmon gives MacMurray his key, he doesn’t know MacMurray is sleeping with the girl he has a crush on.  MacLaine’s suicide attempt is her payment. 

MacMurray is the real villain, abusing his power without any twinges of conscience.  Lemmon and MacLaine his pawns.  Underdogs.  We want underdogs to win.  We want them to climb out of that garbage pail and into the sunshine.

imageSome of my favorite fictional characters are intimately acquainted with that garbage pail.  From Jane Eyre to Harry Potter to any hero in a Dick Francis book.  The hero and heroine in DEAD PEOPLE, my American Title V book, know the stink and the slime of the garbage pail.  They’ve grown thorns and need to unfurl their petals.  First they have to keep from being thrown back into the garbage.

What about your characters?  Are garbage pails in their past, present or future?

 Thank you, Edie! You can vote for DEAD PEOPLE by sending a blank email to and putting “DEAD PEOPLE” in the subject line. I’m rooting for you, Edie!

21 bonus scribbles:

Edie 2/25/2009 02:19:00 PM  

Spy, thanks again for having me. You are a fabulous friend!

LaDonna 2/25/2009 03:37:00 PM  

Edie, I love old movies cause they know all about the garbage pails. I saw The Apartment years ago, and love that I have Turner Channel so I can indulge in the oldies.

And my characters climb out of those pails too, into the sunlight. I love Jack's terms about the rose in the garbage pail. It's life and it's real, doesn't get any better than that.

Edie 2/25/2009 04:15:00 PM  

LaD, when Jack Lemmon said that, it resonated with me. All my main characters seem to have stepped into the garbage pail.

I'm the same way about the old movies. They had their stinkers too, but some, like The Apartment, shine. Probably the reason no one ever remade it is they couldn't do it as well.

Misty Evans 2/25/2009 04:58:00 PM  

Edie, I've never seen The Apartment, but it sounds like a great movie. I do love Jack Lemmon films, so I'll have to see if Netflix has this one.

This blog shows a lot about how you approach writing and now I see why your stories resonate with so many of us. Great post!

Ellen 2/25/2009 05:00:00 PM  

Hey Edie,
Wow, what a wonderful post. I loved The Apartment :) And you know, I really think that some of the best characters I've known, my own creations or not, have spent time in the garbage pail and climbed their way out. Hmmmm, now that I think about it, some of the best people I know have also spent time in those pails before digging out---myself included :)

Kath Calarco 2/25/2009 06:38:00 PM  

I totally forgot about this movie. Now I have to rent it. Good thing I have Netflix...

Anyway, hell yeah, my characters are either in the pail, been there, or on the way. In fact, sometimes the entire story goes there. ;)

BTW, Edie could pass as Shirley MacLain's younger sister.

Edie 2/25/2009 07:30:00 PM  

Misty, it is a great movie. I know you'll love it.

I love complicated characters with layers. If they have wounds or are damaged in some way, those are the ones I'm rooting for.

Melanie Avila 2/25/2009 07:36:00 PM  

I think garbage pails make for the most interesting stories.

Good luck in the latest round!

Edie 2/25/2009 07:47:00 PM  

Ellen, for sure I've been in that garbage pail too a few times. Not near as much as my poor characters. It's my job to make them suffer.

Edie 2/25/2009 07:50:00 PM  

Kath, no way would I be mistaken for Shirley MacLaine's younger sister. I've seen The Apartment several times, but it's been awhile. After watching the trailer, I feel like seeing it again, too.

Edie 2/25/2009 07:58:00 PM  

Melanie, thanks! As for characters who've come in contact with the garbage pail, look at the Academy Awards this year. Mickey Rourke was one of the finalists for Best Actor, and Sean Penn won. Then there's Keith Ledger, who won for best supporting actor. All three imperfect and damaged.

Jannine 2/25/2009 08:22:00 PM  

Hi Edie:
I haven't seen The Apartment. I will now have to rent it.

All my characters, usually the heroes, rise out of a garbage can. It's fun to see their journey to capture that rose.

Great topic!

Edie 2/25/2009 11:25:00 PM  

All my characters, usually the heroes, rise out of a garbage can.

Jannine, my heroines are usually as conflicted as my heroes. I make them all suffer.

Pink Ink 2/26/2009 10:02:00 AM  

I checked out that website. What a cool contest. Good luck to Edie!

Nancy 2/26/2009 10:25:00 AM  

Sorry I'm late!

Stepping from the garbage pail. What a great image! I haven't seen this movie in ages, but I think any book needs characters stepping out of that pail - no matter how stinky the garbage is!

Nancy Haddock

Robin 2/26/2009 10:26:00 AM  

Great post, Edie! I've never seen The Apartment, but I really enjoyed (and learned something) reading about the garbage pail. Thanks!

Edie 2/26/2009 11:04:00 AM  

Pink Ink, it's a very cool contest. Thanks for checking it out!

Edie 2/26/2009 11:05:00 AM  

Nancy, thanks for stopping by! Yes, I was thinking that even squeaky clean Nancy Drew stepped into the garbage pail a few times.

Edie 2/26/2009 11:06:00 AM  

Thanks, Robin! I'm thinking you probably knew about the garbage pail already. lol

Liz Kreger 2/26/2009 05:10:00 PM  

Terrific Blog, Edie. Certainly makes you think about the things our characters have to do to get ahead.

Edie 2/26/2009 07:44:00 PM  

Liz, thanks! In my wip, my characters will do anything to stay out of that garbage pail.