Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"There's a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff."

So on the coldest day yet this century, indeed, this millennium, my train was switched to the track opposite the station.  To add frostbite to exposure, it was 10 minutes late.  I put my hands on my ears when I got into the train just to warm them up and had to stop because it was making my hands too cold.

Yes, I should have had a hat.  I actually had one with me.  But my hair is too long to wear a hat and not have to fix it again and...

I started reading the script for "Double Indemnity" on the ride home last night.  It was really good, hooked me straight away.  I had my wife put it on our queue.  It was streamable so last night after a few thousand Russian swings at the gym, we watched it.

It's a 1944 thriller starting Fred MacMurray and that dame, Barbra Stanwick.  Two things really stood out from the picture show, the first was that it was a swell movie, even 70 years into it.  The second was that watching it immediately after reading the script was the cat’s meow.  I kept telling my wife what was about to happen -- just enough in advance to show off (think George Costanza and Jeopardy) but not ruin the story.  I had to stop though.  It was annoying.  Just like my attempt at 1940s slang in this post.

I noted several places where scenes were slightly changed or cut -- but also where it played exactly like it was written.  I felt like somebody raised the blinds in the room I've been writing screenplays in.  The direct comparison was enlightening.  Enriching.

The script had several sections of voice over which were written side-by-side with the action sequences they went with.  It was very good at showing the pacing, but harder to read than the modern style of breaking up the narration text.  But it works.  I think that if I were to write a period piece, I’d write the script using that format.

The dialogue is fantastic, short and choppy, filled with innuendo (the rules of decency required that certain words and topics never be discussed) that conveyed tremendous meaning to an adult paying attention but would have slipped over the heads of any young tykes watching from the back of the Plymouth at the drive-in.

The characters were well drawn.  I especially liked Keyes.  If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend the film.  It's in black and white, has been reformatted to fit your television screen, and doesn't contain a single profanity.  I dare say it is superior to "The Maltese Falcon."

If you want a copy of the script, send me an email and I'll share my PDF with you.

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