STORIES that have Judgment of Good:
A Clockwork Orange: Alex resolves his personal problems–his conflict with society–by making society accept him. As frightening as it may be to unleash Alex back into society, it is worse to eradicate individuality. To have a society worthwhile to live in, society must compromise with the needs and desires of the individual. Also, in this particular society, Alex’s evil is matched, if not surpassed, by society’s own corruption.
A Doll’s House: By leaving Torvald, Nora will have the opportunity to explore who she really is and learn to stand on her own.
All About Eve: Margo resolves her personal problems: She comes to terms with her fear of aging, especially her fear of being too old for Bill; she’s vindicated for attacking Eve after Eve’s comments are published; she remains secure in her status as one of theater’s most important actresses.
All That Jazz: Joe accepts his death–and an afterlife with Angelique. In addition, Joe may have failed in bringing NY/LA to Broadway, but his fantasy production of his good-bye to life is “the best one yet” (Aurthur and Fosse 127).
Apt Pupil: Todd ultimately succeeds when he allows his true evil nature to surface:
“Everything was fine. Everything was together. The blankness left his face and a kind of wild beauty filled it…’I’m king of the world!’ he shouted mightily at the high blue sky, and raised the rifle two-handed over his head for a moment” (King, 1982, p. 286).
Barefoot in the Park: Paul changes his conservative ways and his happy marriage is restored.
Being There: Chance is no longer homeless. He has grown to love Eve, who will provide him with a home, gardens, and a television in every room:
“A breeze fell upon the foliage and nestled under the cover of its moist leaves. Not a thought lifted itself from Chance’s brain. Peace filled his chest” (Kosinski, 1970, p. 118).
Blade Runner: Deckard stops killing replicants and learns to love them, which is healthy considering he may be one. The screenplay is more specific: the story ends with Gaff chasing Deckard and Rachael, with a voice-over:
DECKARD (V.O.): I knew it on the roof that night. We were brothers, Roy Batty and I! Combat models of the highest order. We had fought in wars not yet dreamed of… in vast nightmares still unnamed. We were the new people… Roy and me and Rachael! We were made for this world. It was ours!
(Fancher and Peoples, p. 133)
Boyz N The Hood: Tre survives life in the hood and attends Morehouse College with Brandi across the way at Spelman.
Braveheart: William strives to compel Robert the Bruce to lead the Scots in a united effort against the English, and although William never lives to see it happen, Robert in the end, on the field at Bannockburn, does exactly what William had hoped–and wins Scotland’s independence.
Bringing Up Baby: This is a good example of the fact that story judgment can sometimes be a matter of degree. When Susan arrives at the museum after Alice has left, David thanks her for finding the bone and tells her to leave. Susan tells him that she has the million dollars and still David doesn’t seem too thrilled. However, when Susan apologizes for ruining everything, David tells her that he ought to thank her. He says that he has just discovered that it was the best day he had ever had in his life, but more than that, he says, he thinks he loves her.
Bull Durham: Annie comes to realize that perhaps there is more to life than baseball. She realizes that she is in love with Crash, and is willing to set aside her expectations, preconceptions, and need to control. The “authors proof” is she even allows herself to be tied to the bed, while Crash paints her toenails, and seems happier and more fulfilled than at any other time in the story.
Candida: Morell’s anxiety over the possibility of losing Candida to Marchbanks is appeased as Marchbanks takes his leave and husband and wife embrace.
Casablanca: Rick resolves his bitterness over Ilsa’s leaving him in Paris. He forgives what has happened in the past, opens his heart to love again, and resumes his efforts against fascist oppression.
Charlotte’s Web: Wilbur’s sense of security gives him the maturity to control his actions and concentrate on helping others, instead of always thinking of himself first.
The Client: Reggie’s change of heart lets her willingly arrange for Marcus’ participation in the Witness Protection Program. She will no longer be haunted by her sense of failure regarding her own children. She IS a good person and a good mother–Marcus tells her that he loves her.
The Crucible: John Proctor resolves his personal problem when he chooses to die rather than to blacken his own name and others of the community:
Parris: Go to him, Goody Proctor! There is yet time! Go to him! Proctor! Proctor!
Hale: Woman, plead with him! Woman! It is pride, it is vanity. Be his helper!–What profit him to bleed? Shall the dust praise him? Shall the worms declare his truth? Go to him, take his shame away!
Elizabeth: He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him! (Miller 144-5)
El Mariachi: El Mariachi matures into a man prepared for all eventualities.
Four Weddings And A Funeral: Charles overcomes his personal dilemma (fear of commitment) and spends the rest of his life with Carrie as a happy family man. The last still photo on screen is that of a cheerful, contented Charles with Carrie and their new son.
The Fugitive: Dr. Kimble’s steadfastness allows him to prove his innocence.
The Graduate: As Elaine and Ben are on the bus riding away from the church, they are very happy (this a matter of degree, of course, because there is a moment when their smiles fade slightly and become looks of “Oh my God, what have we done?”), but for the moment at least, Ben clearly thinks he has done the right thing.
The Great Gatsby: Nick realizes it’s important to have a certain amount of cynicism when interacting with human beings:
“When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby was exempt from my reaction — Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn.
No — Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it was what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.”
Harold and Maude: Harold learns to love and be loved–to embrace the new (playing the banjo) and to end his fascination with death–finally driving his hearse over the cliff, destroying it.
I Love Lucy: Although not in the way she had planned, Lucy is ultimately able to convey the information to Ricky they are about to become proud parents.
Klute: By story’s end, Klute has experienced an emotional and sexual connection with a woman (Bree) again, emerging from the isolation caused by his wife leaving him for another man.
Lolita: Ultimately, Humbert succeeds in resolving his personal angst. After a long and tortuous confession and an honest, objective, and analytical treatment of his sins, he lays down his burden of guilt and is ready to take his punishment. The reader catches a glimmer of redemption, and “it makes us ‘pity the monsters’ (Robert Lowell) by taking to our hearts its repulsive hero – as he himself answers us as he is – with eventual sympathy and even love” (Norton 1733).
The Philadelphia Story: As they are about to walk into the wedding, Tracy tells her father that she feels, “Like a human Ñ like a human being.” Her father asks if that’s all right, and Tracy replies, “All right? Oh Father, it’s Heaven!”
The Piano Lesson: Berniece resolves her personal problems: She overcomes her fear of releasing the spirits of her ancestors when she plays the piano to vanquish the ghost. She comes to terms with the past. She reconciles with her brother and is able to embark upon a more fulfilling future.
Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth has overcome her prejudice of Mr. Darcy and looks forward to a happy marriage.
Rain Man: Charlie learns to love the brother he didn’t know he had. He forgives his father for disowning him, and becomes a compassionate person.
Rear Window: During Lisa’s tussle with Thorwald, Jeff realizes how much he really cares for her. The final scene has Lisa seemingly prepared to adapt to Jeff’s globetrotting lifestyle. Jeff’s growth towards marriage is alluded to in an earlier draft of the screenplay, where there is a final discussion of Mrs. Thorwald between Doyle and Jeff:
DOYLE: You were right. There was something in that garden. I just got a signal — it’s in Thorwald’s icebox now.
JEFF: That reminds me — two heads are better than one.
(Hayes, 12/2/53, p.164)
Rebel Without a Cause: Jim’s father stands up as a man and turns to help his son stand up, assuring Jim he can trust him; Jim introduces Judy to his parents as his friend; and so forth.
Revenge of the Nerds: Lewis’s decision to remain steadfast is seen ultimately to be good. He succeeds in changing the way nerds are treated at Adams and resolves the conflicts between his environment and the way he is.
Rosemary’s Baby: Rosemary is finally in control of the situation and she has the baby she has longed for.
Searching for Bobby Fischer: Josh wins on his own terms, keeping his life filled with variety instead of just living for chess. The author’s proof can be seen in the fact that after he beats Jonathan Poe, rather than feeling bad for Jonathan, he says that it was a “good game.”
The Simpsons Christmas Special: Homer resolves his personal angst when he realizes family is all that matters, and his family cares more about him than gifts under the tree.
All Good Things (Star Trek: The Next Generation): Q congratulates Picard for being able to expand his mind, thereby saving mankind . . . again. Also, Picard is at peace with the fact that mankind is saved and will be open to new possibilities of existence.
Star Wars: Luke becomes a hero.
Sula: Nel is emotionally uplifted when she finally is able to release the hurt and anger she has felt toward Sula.
The Sun Also Rises: Jake Barnes resolves his personal angst:
“Jake nobly accepts his tragic condition” (Meyers 460). He embodies Hemingway’s famous phrase, “Grace under pressure” (Meyers 189).
Sunset Boulevard: Before Joe is murdered, he finds the strength and integrity to send Betty off to marry Artie for her own good; leaves Norma and returns the expensive clothes and jewelry with which she trapped him; decides to go back to Ohio where he can at least earn an honest living.
Taxi Driver: While Travis is still a lonely guy, and one with psychopathic tendencies, at story’s end he is a more relaxed taxi driver. He’s no longer writing dangerous thoughts in a diary, has elevated status amongst his peers, and is a hero to the media. He’s even able to accept Betsy for what she is, “a star-fucker of the highest order,” and no longer has the desire to stalk her. But his last desperate glance at her in the rearview mirror begs the question–for how long?
To Kill a Mockingbird: Once Scout accepts Boo, she is finally able to comprehend her father’s lesson of stepping in someone else’s shoes to understand their perspective, “Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough” (Lee, 1960, p. 308).
Tootsie: Michael learns to be a better person.
MICHAEL: I was a better man with you. . . as a woman. . . than I ever was as a man. [. . .] I learned a few things about myself being Dorothy. I just have to learn to do it without the dress. (Gelbart, p. 144)
Toy Story: Woody learns that he will still be loved even if someone else holds the rank of “Andy’s Favorite Toy.” No longer compelled to defend his perch as Room Leader, he’s more relaxed and easy-going, and more available for Bo Peep’s romantic overtures (notice how, at the end, Buzz is the one who acts nervous about the new presents). And finally, Woody has lost an enemy and gained a friend.
The Verdict: Frank is on the road to recovery by kicking the liquor, returning to practicing like a real attorney, and avoiding women he knows are bad news.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: George’s resolve to continue playing within the rules causes the collapse of the “family fantasy” game. However, this is shown to be a potentially good event because it has destroyed the game that was keeping George and Martha apart. It is implied that the downward spiral of their life together may have changed direction: “GEORGE: It will be better. MARTHA (Long silence): I don’t . . . know. GEORGE: It will be . . . maybe.”
Washington Square: Catherine develops her own sense of integrity, and is content with the life choices she has made.
When Harry Met Sally: Harry listens to his heart, not his head, and marries his best friend.
X-Files: Beyond the Sea: Scully resolves her doubts that her father was proud of her. She recovers her self-confidence, and by the end of the story is assured that her partner will recover from his injuries.
Dramatica Story Development Software