Fake Books in Movies

Baby Steps, by Dr. Leo Marvin (What About Bob, 1991)

IMG_1962Whenever someone says, “We’re taking baby steps,” it’s likely because of What About Bob–even if they’ve never seen the movie.

Baby Steps was a fake bestseller about treating emotional disorders, written by the psychiatrist Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss). “[Baby Steps] means setting small, reasonable goals for yourself. One day at a time, one tiny step at a time.” Dr. Marvin told his patient Bob Wiley (Bill Murray). “For instance, when you leave this office, don’t think about everything you have to do in order to get out of the building, just think about what you must do to get out of this room. And when you get to the hall,  deal with that hall. And so forth.”

“I’m very proud of Baby Steps and enormously gratified by its success,” Marvin told Good Morning America. “I think the greatest challenge aside from the writing is finding ways of making the ideas in it accessible to laymen as well as my colleagues.”

Baby Steps enters the vernacular: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncFCdCjBqcE

A Country Made of Ice-Creamby Hubbell Gardner (The Way We Were, 1973)

A Country Made of Ice Cream Hubbell“In a way he was like the country he lived in. Everything had always come easy to him.”

A modest success (“You bought one of the two copies in print” Robert Redford’s Hubbell Gardner told Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand)), Gardner moved to Hollywood and turned his work of fiction into a screenplay.

“I hate what you did to your book!” Katie cried after she saw the film, “I hate the palm trees, I want it to rain!”

Love Letters of Great Men, Vol. 1, Edited by John C. Kirkland (Sex and the City, 2008)

Love Letters of Great Men Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw took a book called Love Letters of Great Men, Vol. 1 out of the library in Sex and the City. “I love the smell [of library books],”she told her recalcitrant fiancee Big, who would later re-type the letters by Voltaire, Beethoven, and Napoleon to apologize for leaving her at the altar. Love Letters of Great Men Vol. 1 (edited by John C. Kirkland) was published in May 2008 to coincide with the film’s release. It was the number one ranked Literature & Fiction book in the Letters & Correspondence and Poetry categories on Amazon in September 2008, when the Sex and the City DVD sold four million copies.

Angelina’s Savage Secret, The Ravagers, The Return of Angelina, by Joan Wilder (Romancing the Stone, 1984)

Jewel of the NileKathleen Turner played the novelist Joan Wilder, who travelled to Columbia to rescue her kidnapped sister in Romancing the Stone. Wilder wrote 19th century romance/adventure novels featuring a heroine named Angelina and her lover Jesse. The film opened with the author tapping out the final scene on her self-correcting IBM electric typewriter.

“You can die two ways angel. Quick like the tongue of a snake, or slower than the molasses in January.”

Romancing the Stone and its sequel The Jewel of the Nile both became novelizations. The latter featured the stars of the film on its cover. The ghostwritten books were credited to the fictional character Joan Wilder. If memory serves, The Jewel of the Nile was written in the third person–predating a trend of second and third-person narrations of author’s autobiographies by almost thirty years.

Joan Wilder

Romancing the Stone by Diane Thomas: http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~ina22/splaylib/Screenplay-Romancing_the_Stone.pdf