Diner Movies! List your favorite for a chance to win!

The experience of writing a story online over the last week or so (see last few posts for each draft of “Starkville”) has been exhilarating and I’m not finished with it yet. I only now have a complete rough draft. Some fun stuff has come out of this too. You have until midnight PDT June 9. That’s the Tuesday my Women-on-Writing interview.

The idea of a genre of diner movies is one of them so I’m having a contest.

In the comment section here, enter the name of your favorite diner movie and the first three who respond will receive a copy of the Little Sisters Mystery Anthology and the rest of those who comment will have their names put into a coffee cup and I will draw a fourth winner. Books and shipping costs on me!

But please first…a little conversation about diners and deserts.

Sarah Hilary said…
“Much grass” is new to me, Gay. I shall add it my list!Definitely you have cornered the market in diner-fic. For Brit readers (and watchers of TV and film) the diner is a strange alien setting because we don’t have them over here. Some of my favourite scenes in films have taken place in diners, en route to somewhere else. Spooky places, they seem to me. Anything could happen sort of places. I forgot to say how much I love the title – Starkville – is it an actual place or did you make it up?

Gay Degani said…
“Much Grass” comes out whenever I want to type muchas gracias. My typing is slowly deteriorating so if I can make it easier for me, I do.

Thanks for the diner info. Funny but I’d forgotten about all the great movies that feature diners: Diner, of course, Five Easy Pieces… Oh there is that Pretenders music video in what LOOKED like a Brit diner…What a great topic for a poll post!!! LOL. You continue to amaze me.

“Starkville” I got from the dictionary while doing my daily prompts thing. Flip over the Oxford, run my finger down a column. Always looking for provocative, evocative.

And there it was: Starkville, Mississippi. I looked it up online and it doesn’t look stark at all. The page I saw was about the town made it seem a little too nice a place to live to be in my story. There IS another one in Nevada, but this story is NOT about that town either. I’ve never been there.

So I slapped my FICTITIOUS Starkville down in a fictitious desert. Deserts are great symbols the stripped down to the essentials kind of life. A place of survival. A place to experience renewal. The Jews wandering in the desert for 40 years, Jesus wandering there too for 40 days, the pregnant Sarah Conner in her jeep heading into the desert… heavy stuff.

A desert is a place that can seem stark but is teeming with life and a moving beauty. So it works for this story.

I am always and will always be influenced by Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. The book is a master class on symbolism and motif. Wharton’s New England fictitious village was called Starkfield so I think that’s why when I decided to do this, something was working on a subconscious level.
I did the prompts that day, including Starkville, then I decided I needed to supplement my post about process with a real example, so I grabbed the string of 10 that day and began the writing of this story on line. I do think now that it was running across the name STARKVILLE that gave birth to this whole project. Now I have to be sure and use it in a way that matters to the story.

Oh yeah. The prompts. The other word I used from that string was “luncheonette.” That’s how this story ended up in a diner! I love the way that works.

So here’s a contest. Post your favorite diner movies or diner scenes in the comment section below. I will ship “Little Sisters” to the first three who do so and put the rest of those who do so into a coffee cup and send a fourth to one of them. It’s an anthology of short mystery stories and one of mine “Oh, Hell” featuring Nikki Hyland is included. Midnight PDT June 9th is the deadline.

19 thoughts on “Diner Movies! List your favorite for a chance to win!

  1. JasonStout

    Hey Gay – Not sure this qualifies, but I immediately thought of American Graffiti. Is that a diner movie? Certainly a different vibe than your story. It's one of my favorites – although not completely set in the diner.

    The best “diner scene” is from When Harry Met Sally. Still makes me laugh to this day.

    Loving the progress on your story – but will you be able to submit it to journals given that you've been “publishing” it on your site?

  2. Alexander Burns

    Some of my favorite diner scenes (can't think of any whole movies taking place in diners at the moment, though I'm sure there are some):

    The Big Lebowski – the infamous “I could get you a toe, dude. You don't wanna know.” conversation.

    Back to the Future – “Milk. Chocolate.”

    Spaceballs – “Oh no, not again!” Dancing alien. “Check please!” πŸ™‚

    Road to Perdition had an excellent, tense diner scene, too, as the hitman closes in on the hero and his son.

  3. Gay Degani

    You guys are right on the money…and I'd forgotten about When Harry Met Sally. Now THAT is a fabulous scene.

    Thanks you two for entering. Email me your addresses and you'll both get your prize! I left and one for the hat.

  4. Gay Degani

    Yep and Yep Robert! He owned that place in Empire Falls. TV shows count so if anyone wants to shout out Peach Pit or that diner on Happy Days. Those count too.

  5. le0pard13

    For the previous set of comments, those are all great diner scenes. For me, with the breaking news of today in Hollywood, I recalled the small scene from Tarantino's Kill Bill II (RIP David Carradine) when the guy looks out and spots the dusty Bride (after she's gotten out of her dirt-encased coffin tomb) walking across the street and into his diner. And when she asks for that glass of water, that's so classic for me.

  6. Sarah Hilary

    Hi Gay, you already mentioned one of my favourites – The Terminator with Sarah Connor pre and post her “destiny call”.

    There's a terrifically scary sequence in The Hitcher where Rutger Hauer's killer places cents on the eyelids of C Thomas Howell. I love that whole scene.

    Spaceballs is a classic, of course. “Hello, my baby!”

    And how about the diner from the X-Files, where the burgers have a special ingredient??

  7. Kristen Glover

    Oh, though I also thought of “It could happen to you” with Nicholas Cage who “tips” his waitress with that winning lotto ticket or whatever πŸ™‚

  8. Anonymous

    I too thought of the hold-up scene in “Pulp Fiction.” “When Harry Met Sally” is a good one too. And a recent movie I thoroughly enjoyed was “Waitress.”

    By the way…I'm posting this as anonymous because I can't for the life of me remember my blog ID or password.

    Trish πŸ˜‰

  9. Anonymous

    From Angela Carlson

    The movies I was going to name are taken…bummer! “When Harry Met Sally,” No one can forget Sally in this comical scene. Also “The Waitress” the whole movie is set in the diner and it's a beautiful touching story about small-town women working in the diner and trying to survive desperate situations in their lives.

  10. Anonymous

    There was a good scene in Back to the Future, where Marty settles for a cup of coffee and first sees his father.

    Also a few of the old Twilight Zone series featured Diners, one which is memorable featured invaders from both Mars and Venus, featuring a multi-armed Venutian and a three-eyed Martian.

    A few good Diner scenes were set in Clint Eastwood's Every Which Way movies.

    Dennis Weaver was in a movie called “Duel” by Steven Speilberg, and there was a scene in a diner, or maybe truck stop, where Weaver mistakes the wrong guy for being the nutty semi driver whose harassing him.

    Also I 'spose you could consider that dump Aretha Frankin ran in the Blues Brothers a diner, too. That was an enteratining scene.

  11. Anonymous

    There were two quick scenes in Superman in a Diner–a tough guy roughs up Clark after he loses his powers–and then Clark returs at the end of the movie for a bit of revenge.

  12. Gayle Bartos-Pool

    Three diner movies come to mind immediately. The Night Owl diner in Elmore Leonard's L.A. Confidential. The diner in Summerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage with Bette Davis and Leslie Howard. And the there is Bus Stop with Marilyn Monroe and Don Murray.

  13. Alexander Burns

    Oh, man, I can't believe I forgot Waitress. Andy Griffith made those diner scenes really shine.

    I have a mildly amusing Keri Russell story that I probably shouldn't share.


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