Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

"Nine" and the Spawn of "8 1/2"

While watching Rob Marshall's Nine, his movie based on the 1982 Broadway musical itself based on the 1963 Federico Fellini semiautobiograpy 8 1/2, I thought of the other movies that owed a debt to Fellini's opus about a  self-critical filmmaker trying to make a film. My favorite among Fellini's spawn is Bob Fosse's All That Jazz (1979), starring Roy Scheider as a choreographer/Broadway director/movie director who spreads himself too thin professionally and personally. I'm also fond of Francois Truffaut's Day for Night (1973), starring Truffaut himself as the director for whom reel and real life blur. In this subgenre of directorial self-reflection is also Woody Allen's Stardust Memories (1980) in which the filmmaker plays a filmmaker torn between women and his "funnier, earlier work" and his current serious efforts and Allen's related Deconstructing Harry (1997), a less pretentious and more uproarious work of art about art.

As I was hunting for a photo to illustrate this blog, I found a piece in the Guardian addressing this topic, which also lists Paul Mazursky's Alex in Wonderland (1970), a Fellini-inspired movie  so listless that one wag dubbed it 1 1/2. The Guardian also includes Spike Jonze's wonderful Adaptation (2002), about a screenwriter (Nic Cage) trying to adapt Susan Orlean's non-fiction book The Orchid Thief.

Adaptation is more a film about filmmaking than a film about a filmmaker's creative crisis, but I take the point. Two other superlative movies in this vein are Vincente Minnelli's The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), a great melodrama starring Kirk Douglas as a manipulative producer, and  Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt (1963), with Michel Piccoli as a screenwriter besotted by wife Brigitte Bardot.

Am I forgetting any titles? Your favorites? Why?