‘By avoiding the overly-schematic approach to screenwriting which seems to be the current vogue, Cherry Potter’s book offers a thoughtful and sometimes provocative view of film structure taking account of both the art and craft of screenwriting and film-making.’ David Puttnam
Published by Martin, Secker and Warburg 1990 ISBN: 043638034X
In this invaluable and fascinating insight into the way the elements of a film – image, sound and story – are put together, Cherry Potter has used her extensive experience as a writer and film-school teacher to provide a combination of analysis and inspiration which will engage the thinking cinema-goer as well as aspiring screenwriters and film-makers.
Using sequences from films as diverse as Wild Strawberries, The Lacemaker, For a Few Dollars More, Midnight Cowboy, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover and American Beauty, Potter examines the nature of film language, structure and storytelling, as well as departures from the classic form. A final section, which will be of particular interest to anyone who wishes to write, produce or direct films, looks at the imaginative process of generating film ideas and invites readers to explore their creativity by providing essential guidance and practical exercises.
“An excellently researched and perceptive book. I have not read a more intelligent and detailed appreciation of one of my own films” – John Schlesinger (director)
Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus – goes to the cinema!
I Love You But… is a journey through seven decades of romantic comedy from the thirties to the present. Choosing key films from each decade, Cherry Potter examines changing relations between the sexes as each new generation confronts the same questions: What does it mean to be a man or a woman? What are our proper roles and what are the temptations and the fears as we stray across the gender divide? What are our hopes and qualms when it comes to love and relationships? What makes a good relationship? What makes us happy? What do men and women really want? In this new and provocative study by the writer of the highly acclaimed SCREEN LANGUAGE, Potter shows us how these age-old questions have been the stuff of argument and amusement throughout the romantic comedy genre.
Cherry Potter is one of those rare breeds of film writers who can credibly and authoritatively deconstruct a ‘text’ whilst retaining a vulnerable fascination for the commercial fairy tale that is Hollywood. As such, her essays on film do not alienate the casual reader. I Love You But … , in which she looks at the changing face of romantic comedy by comparing a selection of films from the thirties to the nineties, is no exception. It is breezy, informative, entertaining and subtly profound.
The measure of a good film critic or historian is surely their ability to make you want to go back to a film you’d already dismissed, ignored or responded to with indifference, and re-evaluate it with a better understanding. Cherry Potter makes you want to do this. As soon as I closed the book, I decided I had to see The Seven Year Itch, Pillow Talk, Diary of a Mad Housewife and An Unmarried Woman again, and that’s just for starters.
Potter’s essays cover the range of romantic comedy, from standards such as It Happened One Night, His Girl Friday and Roman Holiday, to the more politicised, bittersweet movies of recent times (Annie Hall, Starting Over, Crossing Delancey). All are readable, enlightening and quite delicious in their assessment of the changing nature of heterosexual relationships during the twentieth century.
Any cop? A rich and rewarding dissection of sexual politics and the romantic comedy, sugared with a coating of human empathy.
Making it to the altar
The Spectator, Jul 13, 2002 by Nigel Nicolson
This is a book about love, but love of a peculiar sort, because it examines the love stories of 28 movies produced between the 1930s and today. Cherry Potter summarises the plots of all 28, linking them by a running commentary on how the treatment of love varies from age to age. She tells the stories so excellently that the book might become a bedside book, a story a night, but her commentary is what counts more. It is delightful and highly original. Clearly Potter, an expert on screen-writing, has had much experience of the theme she writes about so enticingly.