In Her Shoes stars Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz.
Director Curtis Hanson is known for eliciting strong performances from his female actors, whether it’s Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine in the new comedy-drama In Her Shoes (opening October 7), Frances McDormand in Wonder Boys, Meryl Streep in The River Wild, Annabella Sciorra and Rebecca De Mornay in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, or Kim Basinger in her Oscar-winning turn in L.A. Confidential.
In addition to his work as a director, Hanson also chairs the UCLA Film& Television Archive where he hosts an ongoing series entitled “The Movie That Inspired Me”, with major film personalities like Drew Barrymore, Sean Penn and Alexander Payne screening and discussing seminal movies that influenced their life and work. As an exclusive column for Fandango, we asked Hanson to pick ten movies that inspired his own work while directing In Her Shoes.
I don’t consciously think of older movies when I’m directing, but I did think I saw in In Her Shoes an opportunity to make the kind of movie that was once common in Hollywood and is now rare: an emotional film, set in the contemporary world, populated by characters the audience could look at and say “I know what it’s like to feel that way”. I also liked that the main characters were women; many of my favorite movies from the past have been female driven. Here, in no particular order, are 10 that feel relevant to the journey of Maggie (Cameron Diaz), Rose (Toni Collette) and Ella (Shirley MacLaine) as they become comfortable in their own shoes.
The Best of Everything (1959). A perfect representative of all the movies before and since of young women looking for careers and love in the big city. In In Her Shoes, this is the movie that Rose (Toni Collette) is watching on television in her Chicago hotel room. I also used this film’s musical theme on the film’s soundtrack-- at the tea dance when her boyfriend (Mark Feuerstein) comes to Florida to make up with her.
Born to Be Bad (1950). Good girl, bad girl, jealousy, manipulation, a man torn between them: one of the lesser known pictures directed by Nicholas Ray, and starring Joan Fontaine.
Stella Dallas (1937). The King Vidor version. Anchored by Barbara Stanwyck’s amazing performance as a mother who puts her daughter’s happiness ahead of her own; one of the quintessential “weepies” from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
All About Eve (1950). Would this undisputed masterpiece be labeled a “chick-flick” today? While rivalry is in the foreground, Joe Mankiewicz’s great movie is also about friendship. The scene in the back of the car between Celeste Holm and Bette Davies is as efficient and beautiful a depiction of the nurturing love, respect and understanding that can exist between two adult friends as I know of in movies.
Written on the Wind (1956). Douglas Sirk’s florid depiction of a fractured family features siblings wrestling with identity issues, alcoholism and mental instability. Unforgettable scene: the wanton daughter (Dorothy Malone) literally driving her father to a heart attack with her wild dancing.
Broadcast News (1987). In Jim Brooks’ movie, Holly Hunter brilliantly captured what it’s like to be a woman and “the smartest person in the room”, with all of its attendant attention and loneliness.
Now, Voyager (1942). Self-image issues and family issues abound as Bette Davis blossoms from “ugly duckling” and helps a father in his relationship with his daughter.
Some Like it Hot (1959). The subtext of Billy Wilder’s movie deals with the way people are evaluated by their appearance. This is true not only of unlucky-in-love Sugar (Marilyn Monroe), but also her two friends, one pretty and one plain. The fact that they are men in drag only makes the point more clear.
The Naked Kiss (1964). Sam Fuller’s bad girl flees to a small town where she finds new meaning in life through interaction with another generation. Unlike In Her Shoes’ Maggie with the oldsters in Florida, Constance Towers takes care of handicapped children.
Something’s Gotta Give (2003). Diane Keaton’s transcendent performance amuses, entertains and moves emotionally, and also beautifully expresses one of the themes of Nancy Meyers’ movie: that one can get better and better as one ages and matures.
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