DRAMA FILMS GENRE :
Drama is defined as a situation that has vivid, emotional, conflicting or striking interest or results. In a good dramatic film the audience is drawn in along with the characters as they deal with whatever issue is creating the drama, causing the audience to sympathize, and perhaps to wonder how they would handle the situation the character is embroiled in.
Possibly more than any other genre dramas rely on character development, representing the characters’ best and worst sides. Whatever the story line, the characters’ performance must convey their thoughts and emotions in order to engage the audience. In early silent dramatic films (melodramas) the actors had to over-act, with larger-than-life expressions and physical actions to convey their feelings. Since the advent of film with sound the actions have been tempered, and the characterization relies more on dialogue.
Most films that are classified as dramas deal with people who are involved in serious situations, and involve concerns in society such as injustice, prejudice, intolerance, rebellion or war, or on a more personal level with addiction, mental illness, religious or emotional issues.
One of the earliest dramatic films (1909) is “A Corner in Wheat”, a 15-minute silent film directed by D.W. Griffith and released by the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. The story tells of a wealthy man (Frank Powell) who decides to monopolize the world’s wheat market. His actions cause the price of bread to double, making it unaffordable to the general public and forcing the farmers producing the wheat and others into bread lines in order to survive.
A very early sports-based drama, the silent film “The Busher” was released in 1919 by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation; Paramount Pictures, and directed by Jerome Storm. The plot deals with a young man, Ben Harding (Charles Ray), who is a hometown baseball hero. When he is recruited by the big leagues he is corrupted by his success but soon his pitching suffers and he is sent home. The role of his girlfriend Mazie Palmer is played by Colleen Moore, and the character of Jim Blair is played by Jack Gilbert (later to be more well-known as the great John Gilbert).
1927’s “Beloved Rogue” is a silent biographical drama based on the life of French poet and patriot François Villon. Released by United Artists, the film was directed by Alan Crosland. Set in France in the 1400’s, the film relates the romantic and political adventures of Villon (John Barrymore), his paramour Charlotte (Marceline Day), and King Louis XI (Conrad Veidt).
Based on Ernest Hemingway’s novel, “A Farewell to Arms” is a war-based drama directed by Frank Borzage and distributed by Paramount Pictures in 1932. The story is about Lieutenant Frederic Henry (Gary Cooper) and his experiences during World War I and his ill-fated romance with nurse Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes).
Wallace Fox directed and Monogram Pictures Corporation released “Bowery Blitzkrieg” in 1941. This drama about friendship and integrity stars The East Side Kids: Leo Gorcey as Muggs McGinnis, Bobby Jordan as Danny Breslin, Huntz Hall as Limpy, Donald Haines as Skinny, Ernest 'Sunshine Sammy' Morrison as Scruno, and David Gorcey as Peewee. Problems arise for the Kids when Danny is lured by his new friend into criminal activities, and it is up to his loyal friends to help him out of trouble.
“The Big Trees” was distributed by Warner Brothers in 1952, directed by Felix E. Feist. Set in 1900, the story is about lumber baron Jim Fallon (Kirk Douglas) who sets out to reap the benefits of harvesting California redwood trees. Standing in his way is a colony of Quakers who make their home in the forest. Fallon’s attraction to Quaker Alicia Chadwick (Eve Miller) and his grudging admiration for their way of life and beliefs complicate matters, and so does the intrusion of lumber business competitors.
“The Trial” (1962) is considered by some to be Orson Welles’ finest film. This dark drama is set in an unspecified location and time, and involves Josef K. (Anthony Perkins), a man who is awakened from sleep to find men in his room, there to arrest him for unspecified crimes. Directed by, and starring Orson Welles as the Advocate Albert Hastler, the settings are surreal and the mood dark and edgy.
“A Sensitive, Passionate Man” is a made for television movie from 1977. Directed by John Newland, the film deals with the lives and disintegrating family of Michael Delaney (David Janssen) and Margie Delaney (Angie Dickinson). A once happy and prosperous family with two children, their lives are battered by Michael’s descent into alcoholism.
Whether your preference is for sports-related stories, romances, action and adventure, or anywhere in between, dramas offer the chance to meet new characters and learn how they deal with the conflicts and problems affecting their lives. There are hundreds of dramatic films available here at Matinee Classics. We invite you to make your selection, get comfortable, and consider how you would respond if you were faced with the same situations.