Walter Mitty and the Technocolor Daydream

When James Thurber’s short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty first appeared in The New Yorker on March 18th, 1939, I wonder if anybody knew how beautiful the remake of the original movie based on the short story would be. Considering that was just over 75 years ago, I’m guessing the answer is no. When I saw it in the theatre this past winter, though, I seriously thought they should have called the Ben Stiller (director and star of the film) movie Spectacular Spectacular. Naturally, that title was already taken by the ‘show’ that transpired on the stage of the Moulin Rouge cabaret house in Baz Luhrmann’s equally spectacular Moulin Rouge.

I hope I haven’t lost you yet.

Like New York, New York…in the sense that ‘everybody says it, so they had to name it twice’ (thank you for that slice of nice, Nina Hagen!)…The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was so spectacular, I have to say it twice. Spectacular, Spectacular!

Every once in a while I am but CONVINCED that a movie was made for me. These golden nuggets of purity that are just as cinematically beautiful as they are solidly written and acted seriously possess me with a greater need to write a story RIGHT. It is through MY PERFECT MOVIES that I am inspired to be a better writer.

  • The Royal Tenenbaums
  • Wonder Boys
  • Powder
  • Benny & Joon
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • Stand By Me
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Big Fish
  • Breakfast Club
  • Reality Bites
  • Super8
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

NO. These are not perfect movies. They are MY PERFECT MOVIES. Think of the movies that hold you enthralled from the opening credits to the closing credits. The ones you watch again and again and never tire of watching.

My list may change from time to time. I know I will look at it later and think, ‘damn! Why didn’t I put this one or that one on the list!?’ As long as I can pick up one of these movies when I’m feeling drained and detached from my writing, all will be good. I don’t watch them to steal from them. I watch them to get that spark ignited. Just like a writer should always always READ, they should also always lose themselves in their favourite movies. There is much to be said for listening to excellent dialogue. While you’re doing it, you are organically learning how to write good dialogue. A writer, you must never forget, is ALWAYS LEARNING THE CRAFT OF WRITING.

Go spoil yourself. Sit down in front of what some call the idiot box…and watch a movie that will take you, momentarily, out of yourself. Might I suggest The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but it’s endearing…charming…whimsical. Ben Stiller plays an excellent Walter Mitty, a man who wears a technocolor daydream like nobody’s business. When he reaches outside his daydreams and grabs hold of his life, magic ensues. It’s just one of those pretty little things that will leave you feeling giddy. Indulge yourself…


By Kevin Craig

Author, Poet, Playwright. Author of The Camino Club, Billions of Beautiful Hearts, and Book of Dreams, all from Duet Books, the LGBTQ Young Adult imprint of Chicago Review Press. Other books: Pride Must Be A Place, Half Dead & Fully Broken, Burn Baby Burn Baby, The Reasons, Sebastian's Poet, and Summer on Fire.


  1. I really, really want to see this movie but it never came to our middle of BF-Nowhere movie theatre so I’ll have to wait for the DVD. So many great movies on your list seen and loved almost all of them. I never get tired of seeing Moonstruck (when Cher slaps Nicholas Cage and yells at him to snap out of it), Working Girl (the ultimate underdog movie, with really BIG HAIR), Steel Magnolias (I know, they’re all chick flicks but I’m a chick, sorry, and when Olympia Dukakis pushes Shirley Maclaine in front of Sally Field and tells her to slap her, I just about pee myself, each and every time). I don’t think I’ve seen Benny and Joon, believe it or not. I must get on that.

  2. I love your list of inspiring movies. When I need to relax & unwind–or to be inspired — I generally watch an older movie like: Shawshank, To Sir With Love, Thelma & Louise, Rat Race, Ghostbusters, Blazing Saddles, Witness, The Fugitive, or Dances with Wolves. I hope to cross paths with you at Writers Conference, but your class was full. : (

  3. Thanks for stopping by, both of you! Love your movies! (-: Cathy…get the to a movie store. You MUST see Benny & Joon! Elayne…I’m going to be a participant this year…so I will be there for the whole thing. Looking forward to it! See you there. (-:

    **SNAP OUT OF IT!**

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