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Jodi Angel, author of You Only Get Letters from Jail and Matthew Spektor, author of Amerian Dream Machine reading at Powell's Books Monday, July 22, 7:00pm
Plotto For Your Netflix Queue: 1950′s Edition
I am a slave for “based on your interest in …” derived algorithms. This is how I discovered Jon Fosse. Based on your interest in Thomas Bernhard and so on. I compulsively add movies to the Netflix instant queue, the vast majority of which I will never watch, much to the half-smiling chagrin of my wife. That said, I find a quirky poetry in the little plot snapshots, usually just a couple of sentences at most, that pop up when the cursor hovers over, say, “Breaking Bad” and this synopsis spills out: A high school science teacher with terminal cancer teams with a former student to manufacture and sell crystal meth to secure his family’s future.
That combination of concision and possibility is ripe for Plotto, as is the endless subgenres that Netflix creates based on queue and viewing history and whatever the hell else, resulting in, e.g. Dark Sci-Fi Dramas featuring a strong female lead and also scones, which you seem to think are delicious most of the time, probably because of the flaky quality such huge amounts of butter provides, fatass.
All of the following movie descriptions are from Netflix, the Plotto descriptions from Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots:
-A Town Like Alice (Rape of Malaysia) – 1956
As a member of a group of women and children captured by the Japanese army during World War II, British citizen Jean Paget (Virginia McKenna) is forced to endure a long march in search of a women’s labor camp. Along the way, she meets a charitable Australian soldier (Peter Finch) who supplies them with much-needed rations — a man she repays in an unexpected way. Jack Lee directs this gripping drama, based on the novel by Nevil Shute.
Plotto: p.28 Love and Courtship (15) Finding a Sustaining Power in Misfortune:
B, almost overwhelmed by misfortune, meets A, and they fall in love. B, winning the love of A, finds the courage to bear patiently with her hardships.
People Will Talk – 1951
Dr. Praetorius is a professor at a dull Midwestern college who impresses those around him with his unorthodox ways of teaching. Out of the blue, Praetorius falls in love with an unattached pregnant woman, spiraling him into uncharted territory.
Plotto: p.158 Enterprise—Helpfulness (812a)
B, sympathetic and generous, befriends a needy stranger, A-4. B, through befriending a needy stranger, A-4, becomes involved in an unpleasant complication.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – 1958
Members of an avaricious Southern clan scramble to curry favor with dying, wealthy patriarch Harvey “Big Daddy” Pollitt (Burl Ives) in this Oscar-nominated adaptation of playwright Tennessee Williams’s sizzling stage drama. Paul Newman stars as alcoholic ex-football star Brick Pollitt, whose self-pity and drunken malice jeopardize not only his inheritance, but also his marriage to the seductive Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor).
Plotto: p.189 Enterprise—Obligation (1000)
A is the scion of a proud old line whose greatest pride has been to keep its estates intact. A, in desperate need, ignores a family obligation.
The Importance of Being Ernest – 1952
Oscar Wilde’s delicious, penetrating wit shines through in this 1952 film adaptation of his famous play. Skillfully directed by Anthony Asquith, Wilde’s turn-of-the-century social satire is a delightful, charming story of words and misunderstandings. Michael Redgrave and Michael Denison star as two men who escape social obligations by pretending to be someone they’re not, often when its most inconvenient for the other. Joan Greenwood co-stars.
Plotto: p. 216 Enterprise—Simulation (1173)
A, a pretender, encounters B, who is also a pretender. A and B are pretenders, yet neither knows that the other is not what he or she seems to be.
Witness for the Prosecution – 1957
Based on an Agatha Christie play, this Oscar-nominated mystery directed and co-written by Billy Wilder concerns an esteemed and aging lawyer (Charles Laughton). On the eve of retiring, he takes on the defense of an alleged murderer (Tyrone Power, in his final film performance) accused of killing a wealthy widow. Things get complicated when the accused’s only alibi, his wife (Marlene Dietrich), decides to testify for the prosecution.
Plotto: p. 135 Enterprise—Misfortune (667)
B, Unless she conceals a personal delinquency, will seriously compromise herself. B, unless she reveals a personal delinquency, will cause an innocent man, A, to suffer for transgression.
-Gun the Man Down (Arizona Mission) – 1956
James Arness departs from his good-guy image to portray Rem Anderson, an outlaw who’s wounded during a bank robbery. Farley (Don Megowan) and Rankin (Robert J. Wilke), Anderson’s partners, betray him, as does his girl, Janice (Angie Dickinson). Now, Anderson wants revenge, and he begins a campaign of psychological war on all of them. Andrew V. McLaglen made his directorial debut with this classic Western.
Plotto: p. 328 Classification by Character Symbols
A, seeking to defeat the schemes of a grafter, A-5, is betrayed by a confederate, B-2, whom asks A to help her.
Anastasia – 1956
In 1928 Paris, a group of exiled White Russians claims to find Anastasia (Ingrid Bergman, who won a Best Actress Oscar), the only living heir of Czar Nicholas II. The entire Romanoff royal family was executed in 1918, after the Bolsheviks took power. Based on the true story of an infamous hoax in which a woman named Anna Anderson maintained for years (and was believed by many) to be the Russian Crown Princess. Co-stars Yul Brynner.
Plotto: p. 214 Enterprise—Simulation
A, having invited friends to meet a celebrity, A-4, who does not arrive, persuades A-8 to impersonate A-4 in order that the guests may not be disappointed.
Lost Lagoon – 1958
Saddled with a loveless marriage and three ungrateful children, Charlie Walker (Jeffrey Lynn) dreams of escape. When he falls overboard on a boating trip and is presumed dead, his fantasy comes true. He washes up on a Caribbean island and meets a lovely local (Leila Barry). He gets a fresh start at life, opening a resort on his island home. But guilt — and a few insurance agents — may cut Charlie’s dream short.
Plotto: p. 116 Married Life
A, unhappily married to B, falls in love with B-3, a girl much younger than himself. A, married to B and in love with B-3, takes a long journey in an attempt to forget B-3.
Jack Mahaffy grew up in the place that you did and lives in the place that you do with the sort of people and animals that you love.