William Baer

William Baer is a graduate of U.S.C. Cinema where he received the Jack Nicholson Screening Award and taught in the Filmic Writing department. He currently teaches English and Film at the University of Evansville, Indiana and is a frequent contributor to Creative Screenwriting.

recent articles

Film: The Bridge on the River Kwai

This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the best films ever made, David Lean’s The Bridge on the River Kwai, which previewed in Hollywood on October 31, 1957, and opened two days later in London. The film, a tremendous success with both audiences and critics, won seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director … Read more

Film: Spider-Man 3

The release of Spider-Man 3 set several box-office records, including the highest domestic opening ($151.1 million) and the highest worldwide opening ($382 million). The film will soon join Spider-Man (number seven) and Spider-Man 2 (number ten) in the top-ten list for all-time highest grossing films—maybe even topping it. Although Columbia Pictures maintains that Spider-Man 3 … Read more

Film: The Hoax

In 1971, a minor novelist named Clifford Irving convinced his publisher, McGraw-Hill, that he’d been contacted by Howard Hughes to write the reclusive billionaire’s authorized biography. Irving claimed that Hughes had chosen him for the project because Hughes liked Irving’s 1969 biography, Fake! The Story of Elmyr de Hory, the Greatest Art Forger of Our … Read more

Film: Zodiac

In the past six months, Hollywood has released two major pictures that have each dealt with one of America’s two most famous unsolved criminal mysteries, both of which took place in California. Last year’s The Black Dahlia, directed by Brian De Palma, covered the gruesome and much-publicized murder of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short, whose naked … Read more

Film: Breach

Breach, the new spy film from director Billy Ray, deals with Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent who sold documents to the KGB and the SVR (the Russian intelligence agency) in post-collapse Russia. During his 16 years as a traitor, Hanssen provided thousands of crucial documents to the enemies of his country, estimated by his Soviet … Read more

Film: Oscar Buzz

Now that all the 2006 Hollywood hype is over, it’s clear that last year, like most recent years, was another weak one for films. Looking back, many critics have tried to put a good face on things, but they’ve still struggled with their ten-best lists, surely aware that very few films made last year will … Read more

Film: Déjà Vu

Mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer has recently released Déjà Vu, his sixth collaboration with British director Tony Scott. Their previous films include Top Gun (1986), Crimson Tide (1995), Enemy of the State (1998), and Man on Fire (2004); Bruckheimer is also the producer of television’s top-rated show CSI, as well as its multiple spinoffs. As the current … Read more

Film: Flags of our Fathers

On February 23, 1945, Joe Rosenthal, an Associated Press photographer, took a picture of five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising the U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. It was the fifth day of a brutal 30-day cam­paign across the small island that would cost 6,800 American lives and produce 27 Congressional Medals … Read more

Film: All the Kings Men

All the King’s Men, the lifeless new adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s Pulitzer-winning novel about the Southern political demagogue Willie Stark, is a fascinating failure on many levels—especially since the project seemed to have everything going for it from the beginning. Based on a classic American novel, it quickly attracted a talented director and notable … Read more

Film: Chariots of Fire—Twenty-Five Years Later

Twenty-five years ago, the most discussed and highly touted film in the world was Reds, an epic paean to the life of Jack Reed, an enthusiastic witness to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent co-founder of the American Communist Party. The film had been shot in four countries with a budget of $35 … Read more

Film: Lady In The Water

M. Night Shyamalan is the most original, in­teresting, and visionary filmmaker in Hollywood. He’s also the only Hollywood filmmaker who consistently shows a real respect for religious belief in his work. “I believe in believing,” he’s stated, rather em­phatically, and his films reveal a sin­cere faith in a higher realm, transcen­dence, and providence. Those films … Read more

Films: The Da Vinci Code

In the fourth century, St. John Chrysostom said, quite simply,“There is nothing worse than blas­phemy.” But the Church has not al­ways known how to deal with frontal attacks against her doctrine, especially in more modern times and democratic societies, and the “Da Vinci phenom­enon” has made that abundantly clear. At first glance, it might seem … Read more

Film: The Sentinel and 24

Twentieth Century Fox has recently released its much-hyped political thriller, The Sentinel, starring Michael Douglas and Kiefer Sutherland. A crucial element of the film’s pre-release promotion was several extended previews aired during the Fox television show 24, also starring Sutherland. Unfortunately, The Sentinel is not as good as a single episode of the ground-breaking televi­sion … Read more

Film: V for Vendetta and the Wachowski Brothers

The Wachowski brothers are back on IMAX screens across the country with V for Ven­detta, which they wrote for their pro­tégé, director James McTeigue. A sci- fi political thriller based on the 1980s graphic novel by Alan Moore and Da­vid Lloyd, it tells the story of the mys­terious V, who blows up the Old Bailey … Read more

Film: Forbidden Games and the Criterion Collection

It’s June 1940, and streams of refugees are flooding into the French countryside to escape the blitzkrieg of Paris. As the Luftwaffe bombers appear in the sky, the frightened refugees fall to the ground, except for a lovely little girl, Paulette, who runs over a bridge in pursuit of her dog, Jock. Terrified, her parents … Read more

Film: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

C.S. Lewis believed that people who encounter a good story will read it “ten, twenty, thirty times during the course of their lives,” and the same could be said of good films. In 1950, Lewis published The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, initiating his seven-volume Chronicles of Narnia, and the children’s book has been … Read more

Film: Walk the Line

In the 35-year stretch from the death of Hank Williams in 1953 until the rise of Randy Travis and Garth Brooks in the late 1980s, country music produced two undeniable legends: George Jones, the quintessential country crooner, and Johnny Cash, the internationally acclaimed “Man in Black.” In 1998, five years before Cash’s death, the singer … Read more

Film: Roman Polanski and Oliver Twist

Roman Polanski, a fugitive from American justice, has recently released his much-anticipated adaptation of Charles Dickens’s second novel, Oliver Twist. This project has aroused a great deal of interest over the past few years for two reasons. The first was perhaps the most obvious: Why bother? During the last 80 years, there have been more … Read more

Film: The Constant Gardener

Since the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, the British novelist John le Carre (born David Cornwell) has been obliged to shift his primary focus from Cold War moral equivocation to more ordinary topics of leftist political correctness. Why Cornwell, a man who served with the British Foreign Service (both MI5 and MI6) in Germany—where he … Read more

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