STORIES that have Approach of Do-er:
A Clockwork Orange: Alex acts impulsively doing whatever he wishes. On whims, Alex beats the tramp, attacks Billy Boy’s gang, steals a car and runs others off the road, rapes Mr. Alexander’s wife, has serendipitous sex with two teenagers. He does not deliberate over these actions as is apparent when the consequences he has not even considered catch up with him.
All About Eve: Margo is a woman of action: Initially she’s protective of Eve, and takes her into her home the first night they meet; she becomes jealous of Bill’s attention to Eve, chews Bill out about it, and gets drunk at his birthday party; suspicious of Eve’s true motives, Margo asks Max to employ her in his office; upon learning that Eve has secretly become her understudy, Margo immediately accuses Lloyd, Bill, and Max of a conspiracy against her.
All That Jazz: When faced with a problem, Joe takes action. At a loss for staging ideas or faced with problems editing The Standup, he works late into the night–exhausting himself rather than giving up; when Katie confronts him about their relationship, he tells her he loves her to head off a break-up; and so forth.
Apt Pupil: Once Todd thinks he may have spotted a Nazi war criminal, he sets about tracking him down; instead of accepting his poor grade report he changes it with the help of ink eradicator; when confronted by Rubber Ed, he kills him; and so forth.
Body Heat: Ned prefers to resolve problems physically. To address his lust for Mattie, he smashes through the glass to get to her; when Mattie comments on how her husband’s death would solve HER problems, Ned suggests that they murder him; Ned goes through complex machinations (goes to Miami, rents a car, etc.) to establish an alibi; he physically threatens Mattie when he believes her actions will expose their involvement in Edmond’s murder; etc.
Boyz N The Hood: Tre looks for physical solutions to his problems: As a kid he gets into a fight with his classmate without regard to the consequences; he tries to coax his girlfriend, Brandi, into bed without thinking it through; after his run-in with the police, his first instinct is to high-tail it out of LA; when Ricky is murdered, he rushes to seek revenge without stopping to think about the consequences until after he’s in the car with Doughboy and the gang.
Braveheart: Unlike the Scottish lords, who “do nothing but talk,” William’s first approach to conflict is to take action. While the Scottish nobles are quibbling over the rightful successor to their throne and “squabbling over the scraps from Longshanks’ table,” Wallace prepares for battle and the invasion of England.
Bull Durham: Not one to sit back and wait for life to happen, Annie constantly takes control of her environment. Note the way she ties her charges to the bed and reads them poetry. In fact, whenever she sees something wrong in her external environment, she fixes it, whether sending a note with the correct procedure to individual team members, correcting Millie’s misconceptions “You were not lured. Women are too strong and powerful for that,” or physically seducing Nuke, when she thinks he’s ignoring her.
Charlotte’s Web: Wilbur tries to make friends to ease his loneliness on Zuckerman’s farm; when Charlotte informs him he is not capable of spinning a web, he still makes an attempt to perform this feat; and so forth.
Chinatown: “Act first, pay the consequences later,” could easily describe Jake’s general approach. When given a choice, he clearly prefers to solve problems by doing something (e.g. jump the fence near the reservoir, tear the page out of the county land registry, trespass on the land in the San Fernando Valley, slap Evelyn to get the truth, etc.).
El Mariachi: El Mariachi travels from town to town soliciting work as a mariachi; when pursued, he is not afraid to fight back; when he finds out Domino is looking for him at Moco’s ranch, he goes after her at risk to himself.
The Fugitive: Dr. Kimble responds by acting first, thinking later, which often puts him into dangerous situations.
The Godfather: Michael prefers to problem solve externally. He has just come back from WW II as a veteran hero, then he insists that he can solve the “Turk”(Sollozzo) problem by killing Sollozzo and the police captain. When he falls in love with Appollonia from afar, he proposes marriage before even meeting her. He is virtually unable to cope with problems internally, always finding a way to solve them externally. This leads to many murders such as the “baptism of blood” when Michael secures his family’s seat of power by having all other threats eliminated during his godson’s baptism.
I Love Lucy: Lucy attempts several different ways to divulge the news to Ricky about her pregnancy, and does not give up until she has accomplished her goal.
Klute: When his friend Tom goes missing, Klute goes to New York City to find him; When Bree won’t talk to him, he surreptitiously tape-records her conversations; Seeing a prowler through Bree’s skylight, Klute runs to the roof and gives chase; When the scared Bree moves back in with Frank, Klute physically attacks him; etc.
Lawrence of Arabia: Lawrence tries to mold Arabia to suit him through his strength of character, charisma, and leadership qualities: Provoked to give the Arabs:
FEISAL: What no man can provide, Lieutenant. We need a miracle.
(Bolt and Wilson, p. 52)
Lawrence goes and takes Akaba, crossing the impossible-to-cross Nefud desert; he solves the Auda-Ali tribal dispute by executing the wrongdoer, his friend Gasim; he competes with Allenby to reach Damascus first; etc.
Othello: Othello is a man of action: His reputation as an effective warrior and leader earns him a command against the Turks and a position as governor of Cyprus; he seizes his chance at happiness with an expedient, secret marriage to Desdemona; he quickly determines Cassio’s drunken brawling is a disgrace to his rank and strips him of it; once he’s convinced of Desdemona and Cassio’s guilt, he orders Iago to execute Cassio and he kills his wife himself.
The Philadelphia Story: When she hears about the reporters in her house, Tracy’s first reaction is to give them “a picture of home life that will stand their hair on end.” When she sees George at the stables looking “too clean,” she knocks him down and dirties him up. When Uncle Willie shows up, Tracy automatically refers to him as “Father,” just to stir things up. When Dexter tells her he’s planning to name his next boat the “True Love II” she promises to “blow you and it right out of the water.”
The Piano Lesson: Berniece’s approach to solving problems is to take action: After her husband died, she moved to Pittsburgh with her daughter, and got a job to support them both. When Avery proposed, she refused him, acting upon her feelings. When Boy Willie barges into her house unexpectedly, she tells him to leave. After he ignores her orders and tries to remove the piano from the house, she threatens to shoot him. When Sutter’s ghost attacks her brother, Berniece summons her ancestors’ spirits to exorcise it.
Platoon: There are a number of examples illustrating how Chris prefers to deal with situations externally, and looks for physical solutions to his problems. For instance: Chris drops out of college and enlists in the military to do something positive for his country; He shoots his rifle at the feet of a young, retarded man he finds hiding. This is done as a means of releasing the tension and frustration that has built up from horrific ordeals he and his platoon have recently experienced; While his platoon pillages a small village, Chris rescues a young village girl from being raped by some of the men in his platoon; When Sgt. Elias is missing in the jungle, Chris sets out to find him until he’s stopped by Sgt. Barnes; Chris attacks Sgt. Barnes when Barnes confronts him and others about killing Sgt. Elias; In the film’s climatic battle, instead of relying on the safety of his foxhole, Chris leaves to engage the enemy in hand to hand combat; Ultimately, he ends up murdering Sgt. Barnes in an act of revenge for Elias and for himself.
Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth’s tendency to solve a problem is to handle it through activity. For example, after learning that Jane has taken ill at the neighbor estate of Netherfield Park, Elizabeth is not content to stay at home until she is assured of her recovery. Instead, she braves a rainstorm and lengthy journey on foot to personally tend to her sister’s health.
Quills: Abbe de Coulmier takes on his responsibilities with great energy and enthusiasm. He actively looks for positive ways to solve problems, as illustrated in his conversation with Dr. Royer-Collard regarding rehabilitating The Marquis:
Coulmier: I implore you, do not insist that I negate my principles. Let me continue in my charitable course. (Wright 20)
Rain Man: When bureaucratic red tape threatens his car deal, Charlie appeases his customers and knocks $5,000 off the price of the cars. When his father’s lawyer refuses to reveal the identity of the beneficiary of the will, Charlie goes to the bank and finds out who it is. He goes to Walbrook, discovers he has a brother, then kidnaps Raymond, and finally demands half of the inheritance.
Rear Window: Though seemingly a passive observer (because of his physical predicament), Jeff will risk his neck (or rather leg) to get the best photo. Eager to go on a big assignment despite his injury, he asks:
JEFF: Okay. When do I leave? Half-hour? Hour?
GUNNISON: With that cast on – you don’t.
JEFF: Oh, stop sounding stuffy. I can take pictures from a jeep or a water buffalo if necessary.
To get the goods on Thorwald, he brings in Doyle, Lisa, and Stella to do his legwork.
Rebel Without a Cause: Jim tries to solve his problems by first taking action. For example, when he’s called a chicken, he puts his fists up; his concern for Plato compels him to run into the planetarium at the risk of being shot (by the police or by Plato); interestingly, he tries to change his tendency to fight first and reflect later by stalling when he is challenged by the gang “I don’t want trouble” (Stern 41) but when backed against the wall he fights “All right–you want it, you got it” (Stern 43).
Reservoir Dogs: When the cops close in on Mr. White, he empties both guns into them rather than figuring a way to escape the conflict. He pulls his gun on Mr. Blond instead of arguing with him. He forces a shoot-out with Joe and Mr. Nice rather than re-evaluate his beliefs about Mr. Orange.
Revenge of the Nerds: Lewis’s first response to a problem is to do something about it. He immediately starts looking for a house for the nerds, he finds the house, he asks Betty out the first time he talks to her, he invents a robot to clean up for him, etc. He actively tries to change his situation to one that suits him.
Searching for Bobby Fischer: Josh tries to accomplish his purposes by engaging in activities. For example, despite the advice from all corners, he determines his own course.
The Silence of the Lambs: As a child, Clarice took action by kidnapping the lamb to save it from being slaughtered; she actively joined the FBI to go after killers, like the ones who killed her father; encountering Buffalo Bill, she tries to apprehend him herself.
The Simpsons Christmas Special: Homer looks for a physical solution to his problems. It is really his only option, as his mental capabilities are limited, and he is emotionally immature.
All Good Things (Star Trek: The Next Generation): In the beginning, even though Picard is not exactly sure why he is time-shifting and there is a possibility that he (in the future) is suffering from the mental disorder, he urgently seeks helps from his friends and colleagues to figure out what is going on.
Star Wars: Luke is frequently acting first, thinking later. He chases after R2D2 into dangerous parts of the Tatooine desert and gets captured by the Sand People; he rushes to rescue Princess Leia without a plan of escape; he blasts the shield door closed and strands Leia and himself on a ledge without an escape route; etc.
The Sun Also Rises: Jake first looks for a physical solution when faced with a problem. For example, when Robert Cohn insults him, he throws a punch:
“At the Cafe Suizo we had just sat down and ordered Fundador when Robert Cohn came up. ‘Where’s Brett?’ he asked. ‘I don’t know.’ . . . ‘I’ll make you tell me’–he stepped forward–‘You damned pimp.’ I swung at him and he ducked” (Hemingway 190-91).
Sunset Boulevard: Joe takes action to solve his problems: When he needs money to make his car payments, he immediately hustles to raise the it; when the finance men chase him, he races up Sunset Blvd. and hides his car in Norma’s garage; when he’s offered the chance of a job, Joe grabs it, embellishing on his experience and pay rate; when Norma comes on too strong on New Year’s Eve, Joe leaves her house, hitches a ride, and finds people his own age to party with; when he discovers that Norma is harassing Betty, he takes charge of the situation, tells Betty to come see him, then tells her the truth.
Taxi Driver: When he can’t sleep nights, Travis goes out and gets a job driving taxis; attracted to Betsy, he walks into her office and volunteers in order to be near her; seeing a stick-up man holding up the deli, he shoots him; feeling down, he goes to Wizard for advice; etc.
To Kill a Mockingbird: Scout attempts to solve a problem by first taking action, an approach that often gets her into trouble. As an example, she is reprimanded when Miss Caroline wants to lend the poor but proud Walter Cunningham lunch money, and Scout jumps in to explain that it is not the Cunningham way:
I would have saved myself some inconvenience and Miss Caroline subsequent mortification, but it was beyond my ability to explain things as well as Atticus, so I said, “You’re shamin’ him, Miss Caroline. Walter hasn’t got a quarter at home to bring you, and you can’t use any stovewood.” Miss Caroline stood stock still, then grabbed me by the collar and hauled me back to her desk. “Jean Louise, I’ve had about enough of you this morning,” she said. “You’re starting off on the wrong foot in every way…” (Lee, 1960, p. 24)
Tootsie: When Michael is faced with a problem, he immediately takes action: He disagrees with a director’s orders and walks off the production. When Sandy needs to be angry to get her part right, Michael accompanies her to the audition and enrages her with insults. After he learns that another actor got a part he was promised, Michael bursts into his agent’s office and demands an explanation. When his agent declares that no one will hire him, Michael dresses in drag and lands a role on the soap opera. When he can’t break his contract, Michael reveals himself as a man on live television to get out of it.
Toy Story: Woody is a very active, take-charge kind of cowboy. He calls meetings, plots strategies, mobilizes other toys, and approaches all problems by jumping into the fray, even if it means starting an unpleasant confrontation. He is loath to check his attitudes at the door, and that often gets him in trouble.
The Verdict: Frank acts impulsively and often regrets his actions which frequently forces him to make uncomfortable decisions.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Rather than trying to “cope” with the impact of the mind games by adjusting himself to those around him, George externalizes his problem solving by actively manipulating or “psyching-out” those around him.
When Harry Met Sally: Harry’s first approach to dealing with a problem is to work it out externally. When his wife asks for a divorce, instead of accepting her reasons he secretly follows her to determine what she has really been up to; when he unexpectedly runs into his wife at a later date, instead of bottling up his hurt and resentment for a more appropriate time he lets out his anguish at what is supposed to be a friendly house warming for Jess and Marie:
Sally: Harry, I know you’re upset, but do we have to talk about this right now?
Harry: What’s wrong with right now? It’s a perfect time to talk about this. I just want them to see. (he’s becoming more and more upset) I just want them to see the realities of what this leads to. Everything’s fine, everybody’s in love, everybody’s happy–and before you know it, you’re screaming at each other about who owns the stereo. (Ephron, Reiner, & Scheinman, 1988, p. 78)
The Wild Bunch: Knowing that the bounty hunters are waiting for him, Pike pushes the Paymaster out the door first; When the buckshot Buck can’t go on, Pike executes him; When his stirrup breaks, Pike heaves himself back into the saddle without it; Concerned about being double-crossed by Mapache, Pike booby-traps the gun wagon with dynamite; etc.
X-Files: Beyond the Sea: In spite of the grief over her father’s death, Scully continues to work. She accompanies her partner to the prison to assist him with the case. When Scully sees the landmarks Boggs described as leading to the kidnapper’s lair, she immediately investigates the warehouse and finds valuable clues. She takes over the lead in the case when her partner is shot; threatens Boggs when she believes he set her and Mulder up to be murdered; tries to obtain a deal for Boggs in order to get information to save Jim Summers; leads the chase after the kidnapper.
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