Monday, December 31, 2007

The Mask of Zorro (1998) - Ted Elliot & Terry Rossio

October 4, 1994


Screenplay by Ted Elliot & Terry Rossio

Synopsis by Brian Aldrich

Long ago in Alta California (1840's), the masked defender, ZORRO, is the hero of the people. Behind the mask, he is a prosperous gentleman, DIEGO DE LA VEGA, married to ESPERANZA and father of ELENA, a baby girl. When VICEROY MONTERO wants to execute some peasants, Zorro frees them and wounds Montero with a "Z" scar. Young ALEJANDRO & JOAQUIN MURIETTA help Zorro escape and he gives them a signature medallion. Montero has always believed Diego to be Zorro, so before Montero leaves for Spain, he kills Esperanza, kidnaps Elena, burns down the hacienda, and imprisons Diego in the dungeons. He takes off for Spain with Elena.

Twenty years later, the Murietta brothers and THREE-FINGERED JAKE are famous rebels and desperadoes. Montero returns from Spain with Elena whom he has raised as his daughter. She is beautiful and completely ignorant of her true parents. Montero checks the dungeons for Diego, but not finding him, considers him dead. However, Diego sees Montero. Diego is an old, bitter, crippled man, but he is still "Zorro" and he escapes. Montero meets with all the rich men and proposes a plan to purchase Alta California from Mexico before the United States conquers it. SANTA ANNA is due to arrive to negotiate with Montero. Joaquin is killed by CAPTAIN LOVE, a soldier interested in Elena. Jake is imprisoned. Alejando joins up with Diego. Diego will teach Al how to swordfight and Al will help Diego kill Montero.

After being trained, Al poses as Zorro to steal gold from Montero. He also poses as a Spanish gentleman and Diego as his servant. Elena is attracted to Al and Captain Love is jealous. Eventually, Al finds out Montero has a secret gold mine, a bunch of slaves (including Jake), and ambitions to become EMPEROR of California and Mexico. Zorro tells Santa Anna. Before Montero can hide his gold mine by blowing it (and the slaves) up, Al saves the slaves and kills Captain Love. Elena finds out the truth and kills Montero to save Diego's life. Diego is reunited with his daughter and California is safe for someone else's exploitation.

Summary Criticism: While the politics are not clear enough, this script is excellently-crafted. The characters are compelling and the plot is engrossing.

The Mask of Zorro (1998) - imdb

The Mask of Zorro (1998) - wiki

Del and Friends in a Canoe - circa Summer 1940

Del and Friends in a Canoe - circa Summer 1940

Fishing For Coins

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lou, Del, Flo, Tom - circa 1948

Lou, Del, Flo, Tom - circa 1948

The Rock (1996) - Mark Rosner, David Weisberg, Douglas S. Cook

July 9, 1995


Screenplay by Mark Rosner, David Weisberg, Douglas S. Cook

Synopsis by Brian Aldrich

Retired Marine and Vietnam Vet COLONEL FRANK HUMMEL is pissed about the ex-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's recent revelations about Vietnam. Hummel and a group of ex-Marines rob a cache of chemical weapons from a Marine ammunitions depot. Then, taking hostages, they take over the old Alcatraz Prison and mine the island. Hummel informs the authorities that he will release poison gas, endangering the residents of the Bay area, unless 120 million dollars in reparations are paid within 36 hours. The island can not be successfully raided by direct assault, but FBI leader SANCHEZ has a plan. Federal prisoner JOHN PAUL "THE MOLE" MASON is a dangerous lifer who has escaped from several prisons including Alcatraz years ago. Mason escaped by tunneling out and Sanchez wants Mason to lead an armed Hostage Rescue Team back through the tunnels to thwart the terrorists and release the hostages. FBI gas expert BILL GOODSPEED is brought in to neutralize the gas weapons.

Sanchez offers Mason a Presidential pardon for his help. Mason agrees, but soon escapes from custody. Goodspeed tracks him down to his long lost daughter, JADE, who lives in San Francisco. Goodspeed doesn't embarrass Mason in front of Jade which impresses Mason. Goodspeed, Mason, and the Hostage Rescue Team get to the island under decoy and cover of dark, enter through the tunnels, and are ambushed by Hummel's soldiers who were expecting their arrival. Mason escapes with Goodspeed and CHANEY, a wounded FBI man. They get to cover. Mason wants to finish off Chaney for their own good, but Goodspeed firmly objects. The trio make it up to the prison. Chaney, saving Mason and Goodspeed, kills some terrorists and is killed. Goodspeed is captured. Mason gets clean away, even from the island, but returns to save Goodspeed. Angry, Hummel shoots off a gas missile, but purposely misses his target as a warning. Meanwhile, fearing all is lost, the FBI, with the President's approval, prepare to napalm the island as their last choice to save the Bay area. Disgusted with Hummel's weakness, his men mutiny. Hummel tries to stop them, but is killed. Mason releases Goodspeed. They release the hostages and send them down to the tunnels. Goodspeed tries to stop the napalm bombs, but one hits the island. All is destroyed, but Goodspeed, Mason and the hostages survive. Goodspeed lets Mason take off. Mason and Jade go to Canada. Goodspeed returns to his family.

Summary Criticism: This professional script is an enthralling action picture, but the characters are too familiar and the plot is predictable.

The Rock (1996) - imdb

The Rock (1996) - wiki

Last Look at Christmas 2007

Promenade SantaValley PartyFriend's Christmas TreePasadena Xmas

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Never Bet the Devil Your Head

Never Bet the Devil Your Head

"Never Bet the Devil Your Head"

Edgar Allan Poe


"It is not my design to diminish my deceased friend, Toby Dammit. He was a sad dog, it is true, and he died a dog's death.

"The fact is that his precocity in vice was awful. At five months of age he used to get into such passions that he was unable to articulate. At six months, I caught him gnawing a pack of cards. At seven months he was in the constant habit of catching and kissing the female babies. At eight months he refused to put his signature to the Temperance pledge. Thus he went on increasing in iniquity, month after month, until, at the close of the first year, he not only insisted upon wearing moustaches, but had contracted a propensity for cursing and swearing, and for backing his assertions with wagers..."

Illustration taken from a 1904 edition of Poe's Collected Works

Full Performance Text (Copyright 2001 - Royalty Terms Available):: "Never Bet the Devil Your Head" - Poe Forward Events: Poe Humour

"Never Bet the Devil Your Head" - wiki

Striptease (1996) - Andrew Bergman - Carl Hiaasen

January 24, 1995


Screenplay by Andrew Bergman, based on novel by Carl Hiaasen

Synopsis by Brian Aldrich

ERIN GRANT, late 20's, is a stripper. She hasn't always been a stripper. She used to be a secretary with the FBI until her slime ball, thief ex-husband DARRELL turned informant for the local cops and got custody of their little girl, ANGELA. Erin turned stripper to pay the law bills to get her daughter back. Now, Erin finds out that Darrell has moved away and taken Angela with him. That night in the strip joint, an eager customer PAUL GUBER tries to grope Erin, but horny and drunk Congressman DAVID DILBECK, corrupt ally with the ROJAS sugar syndicate, smashes him with a bottle. Dilbeck's aide, ERB CRANDALL, gets the congressman out of there, but JERRY KILLIAN, a customer lovesick for Erin, has seen and identified Dilbeck. After the show, Killian tells Erin that he can help get her daughter back. Killian goes to Dilbeck and demands he hustle the custody JUDGE. The Judge turns out to be too senile to bribe, so Dilbeck's goon, MALCOLM MOLDOVSKY, has Killian killed. Florida detective AL GARCIA finds the body and investigates, questioning Erin who eventually leads him to Dilbeck.

Erin tracks down Darrell and Angela, but he won't relinquish his custody. Crooked lawyer MORDECAI, representing injured Guber, blackmails Dilbeck. Soon, he's found dead. Erin kidnaps Angela back and Darrell comes after her, angry as hell. Garcia has him arrested. Meanwhile, Dilbeck has decided he wants to seduce Erin. He offers her $2,000 for a private dance. She goes, accompanied by SHAD, her friend and bodyguard, and witnesses Dilbeck's bizarre behavior. She is warned not to tell anyone, threatened with the life of her daughter. She returns the next night (promised $5,000) without an escort, but with a plan. Darrell escapes from jail. Garcia goes to warn Erin and learns she's gone to Dilbeck's place. Meanwhile, Darrell tracks her down and kills Malcolm. He's about to kill her and Dilbeck when she pulls a gun and drives them out to the sugar cane fields. She locks Darrell in the trunk. Dilbeck pulls a machete on her and tries to rape her. Suddenly, the PRESS shows up (having been notified previously by Erin) and Dilbert is humiliated. Garcia arrests him and Dilbert turns informant on the Rojas brothers. Erin quits her job stripping and goes home with Angela.

Summary Criticism: While the characters are sympathetic, the plot is convoluted and frequently contrived.

Striptease (1996) - imdb

Striptease (1996) - wiki

Lassie in California - circa 1954

Lassie in California - circa 1954

Pacific Park - Santa Monica Pier

Pacific ParkSanta Monica Pier

Friday, December 28, 2007

Pool Party - Del, Earl, Esther - circa 1954

Pool Party - Del, Earl, Esther - circa 1954

Shadowboxer (2005) - Will Rokos

May 4, 2002


Screenplay by Will Rokos

Synopsis by Brian Aldrich

Pages 1-3 are missing.
Wealthy mobster CHARLIE MASTRI finds out someone else has had sex with his wife VICKIE MASTRI, early 20's, and realizes the child she is carrying and is about to deliver might not be his. Furious, he orders his friend EDDIE to contract a hit on his wife. Shadowboxer MIKEY MALONE, 27, takes care of his dying lover ROSE, 45-50. Together, they work as hired killers and their "agent" ANDREW, late 40's, hires them to kill Vicki. However, just as they burst in to the Mastri mansion's master bedroom to kill her, Vicki starts giving birth. Despite Mikey's professional objections, Rose delivers Vickie's baby. They take Vicki and the baby to a motel. Mikey calls in a ransom demand to Charlie's phone machine. Mikey calls DR. DON, a cocaine addicted doctor whose patients are mostly criminals, to care for Vickie and the baby. When Don and his sexy girlfriend PRECIOUS arrive at the motel, he recognizes Vicki, but doesn't let on. After they leave and Rose sends Mikey on an errand, Rose and Vicki talk. Vicki realizes Charlie put a hit on her for being unfaithful. Rose tells her she's going to help her and the baby live. Rose tells Mikey that they are not going to kill them, instead they are going to take care of them. Mikey warns her that they are going to be in serious trouble if it is found out that they did not kill Vicki and the baby.

Rose and Mikey take Vicki and the baby home with them. FBI agents CAROL BLUM, mid 30's, and JIM RODRICK, late 20's, investigate the "kidnapping." Charlie pretends to be concerned about Vickie and prepares the ransom money. Mikey reluctantly takes Vicki and the baby, ANTHONY, to DR. Lehner, 38, a female pediatrician. Mikey and Rose rent a house in a rural wooded area and move in with Vicki and Anthony. Mikey practices shadowboxing in the basement that he has converted into a gym. Six months passes. Mikey gets another assignment from Andrew. He kills a FATHER and SON, then makes it look like a duo suicide. When Rose can't stand the cancer pain any longer, Mikey puts her out of her misery and buries her in the woods. He promised her that he'd take care of Vickie and Anthony. Vickie wants Anthony to grow up in a normal community instead of the middle of nowhere, so Mikey moves them to suburbia. They pose as husband and wife. Slowly, Mikey begins to warm up to Anthony who calls him "Daddy." Mikey continues his profession. He is assigned to kill mobster JOSEPH SAVONI. Before Mikey kills him, they discuss the virtues of fatherhood. Mikey returns home and makes love to Vicki. They become a real family. Mikey decides to quit working. He hires an accountant, F.J. EUCHER, to invest his $3 1/2 million dollar cash savings. Meanwhile, Dr. Don brutally breaks up with Precious, hitting her. She vows revenge. Precious informs Eddie about Don delivering Vicki's baby. Eddie and goon PETEY torture Don to talk. Eddie, Petey, and thug WAYNE kidnap Mikey, Vicky and Anthony and take them to meet with Charlie. Charlie cuts off Mikey's pinky with wire cutters. But before Charlie can torture Vicki, Mikey starts beating up the goons. Vicki grabs a gun and helps him subdue the goons. Mikey stops her from killing Charlie. They escape. Mikey turns State's evidence against Charlie and his mob. Mikey is sentenced to only 5 years. Charlie goes to prison. Vicki gets a divorce and marries Mikey. They live happily ever after just waiting for his parole.

Summary Criticism: While this script contains several repetitious scenes and the plotting is predictable at times, the characters are sympathetic and their dilemma is compelling.

Shadowboxer (2005) - imdb

Shadowboxer (2005) - wiki

Skooby's Hot Dogs - Hollywood Blvd.

SKooby's Hot DogsSkooby's Hot Dogs

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Doralice & Louis on the Vose St. Steps - circa 1952

Doralice & Louis on the Vose St. Steps - circa 1952

The Scarlet Letter (1995) - Douglas Day Stewart

March 15, 1994


Screenplay by Douglas Day Stewart

Synopsis by Brian Aldrich

In the 17th century Massachusetts wilderness, Indian METACOMET (KING PHILIP) is waging war against the English settlers. Puritan REVEREND ARTHUR DIMMESDALE, 30, is friendly with the Indians, having converted several to Christianity and arduously working on an Indian translation of the Bible. MRS. HESTER PRYNNE arrives from England in advance of her husband ROGER to set up a home and farm. She is not comfortable in the serious and austere environment of the American Puritans, so she hangs out with a few of the non-conformist women, doing her best to put her life together in this male dominated society. She settles into a cottage at her farm with her slave maid MITUBA and two indentured servants. Hester was a child bride when she married her husband and the arranged marriage is far from passionate. Dimmesdale and Hester are attracted to one another. When news arrives that Roger and everyone on his ship was murdered by Indians, Dimmesdale and Hester fall in love and begin a torrid sexual affair. Hester gets pregnant. Rather than submit to the raging accusations of GOVERNOR BELLINGHAM, REVEREND CHEEVER and REVEREND STONEHALL, Hester refuses to identify Dimmesdale as the father. She is imprisoned for seven months, then released to wear a scarlet letter "A" (for Adultery) on her clothing.

Hester wears the letter proudly, refusing to renounce her love affair or her child PEARL. Meanwhile, Dimmesdale is consummed with guilt. Roger Prynne survives captivity with the Indians and comes to town. After learning of Hester's situation, he keeps his identity a secret. Alone at the cottage, he confronts Hester who rejects him. Roger calls himself CHILLINGSWORTH and moves into the rooming house next door to Dimmesdale, befriending Arthur and the powerful men in the community. He is eager to identify Hester's lover and ruin their lives.

Roger quickly finds out Arthur is Hester's lover. He gets Bellingham and others to believe Satan is in their midst. He bribes Mituba to give false evidence accusing malcontent HARRIET HIBBONS of witchcraft. After, he murders Mituba. Arthur and Hester try to run away, but Roger warns the militia. The evil BREWSTER, son of powerful man, tries to rape Hester, but she chases him off. Roger calls Pearl's birthmark a sign of the devil. Roger kills Brewster, thinking he is Arthur. When he learns the truth, he hangs himself. Hibbons is about to be hanged as a witch when Arthur confesses his sin with Hester and places himself in the noose. Indians attack, killing many, scattering the crowd and freeing Arthur. Arthur, Hester, and Pearl leave together for the wilderness.

Summary Criticism: This script successfully integrates King Philip's War, the Salem witch hysteria, and Hawthorne's romance to completely portray the period as well as the tensions of the novel.

The Scarlet Letter (1995) - imdb

The Scarlet Letter (1995) - wiki

Humans Found on Speedway in Venice

Humans Found on Speedway in VeniceHumans Found on Speedway in Venice

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Mr. Destiny (1990) - James Orr & Jim Cruickshank

October 1, 1989


Screenplay by James Orr & Jim Cruickshank

Synopsis by Brian Aldrich

LARRY BURROWS, 35, regrets his whole life. He has a crummy job, lives in a crummy house, has a crummy car, and a rotten relationship with his wife, ELLEN. He blames it all on single-handedly losing the championship baseball game in high school. He missed the final pitch by a half-second and struck out. Everyone he runs into remembers this and reminds him. He works for a big company where it seems everyone else in his life and in the town also work. His best friend, CLIP, is a dopey co-worker. His wife is the union organizer. His childhood rivals NILES PENDER and LEWIS FLICK are executives with the company. The company is run by JACKIE EARLE BUMPUS who was a rival athlete who married the gorgeous cheerleader, CINDY JO, whose father owned the company. Larry always wished he had made advances towards her. As a matter-of-fact, Larry wishes he had done a lot of things differently. Presently, it is his birthday and no one has remembered. His father, HARRY, who also works at the company, is concerned about the recent layoffs. He asks Larry to look into it. Larry sneaks into Niles' office and finds some papers about a merger with a Japanese company. Niles catches Larry and Larry is fired. Going home, Larry's car breaks down and he goes into a bar to call a tow truck. He vents his frustrations to an empathetic bartender named MIKE who gives Larry a special potion that changes Larry's life.

Larry emerges from the bar a changed man. He quickly finds out that he won the baseball game, married Cindy Jo, became the CEO of the company, and lives in a huge mansion with his sexy wife and kids. He even has a mistress. At first, Larry enjoys his new life. But, he soon learns that most people hate the boss and that means him. Clip is a nervous gofer who is afraid of being fired. Ellen is still the union person, but she is married to someone else who mistreats her. She strongly dislikes the boss. Larry wants his friends and his wife back. He decides to try to make some changes. However, everyone thinks he's crazy. He gives all the concessions to the union which pleases and confuses Ellen. His executives Niles and Lewis think Larry is trying to keep the profits from the Japanese deal for himself. His actions finally get to Ellen who begins to want him. He finishes it with his wife and mistress and makes plans to be with Ellen. Cindy Jo gets her father, LEO, to fire Larry. Niles and Lewis plot to murder Larry, but their plans go awry and it appears that Larry has attacked Leo. Larry runs from the police. He finds Ellen reconciled with her husband. He runs back to the bar and pleads for his old life. He gets it back. He goes to Leo and tells him about the plot to sell the company out form under him by Jackie, Niles, and Lewis. Larry returns home to find a surprise birthday party organized by Ellen and Clip. Leo and Cindy Jo show up to reward Larry with a new job as Vice President. The guy that threw the pitch years ago shows up at Larry's door delivering pizzas. Larry's a happy man.

Summary Criticism: No surprises here, this is a contemporary remake of "It's A Wonderful Life" with an 80's narrative structure and yuppies.

Mr. Destiny (1990) - imdb

Mr. Destiny (1990) - wiki

Casci Family Christmas Card - circa early 1950s

Casci Family Christmas Card - circa early 1950s

I Wear My Psyche On My Car


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Tree - circa 1952

Christmas Tree - circa 1952

Bad Santa (2003) - Glenn Ficarra & John Requa

February 25, 2002


Screenplay by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa,
Revisions by Ethan & Joel Coen, Polish by Terry Zwigoff

Synopsis by Brian Aldrich

Each Christmas season, safecracker WILLIE T. SOKE, a bitter drunk and a whoremonger, and his dwarf partner in crime, MARCUS SKIDMORE, take jobs as Santa and his Elf, respectively, only to rob the stores they work for. Marcus' wife LOIS helps them scope out the merchandise they steal along with the money in the company safe. This season they arrive in Phoenix, Arizona to work for the Chamberlain Department store at the Saguaro Square Mall.

Store manager BOB CHIPESKA is a bit put off by Willie's gruff and vulgar manner, but Marcus helps smooth matters over as usual. A local 8 year old KID becomes curious about Willie and starts to hang around him. First night after work, Willie goes to the local bar, gets drunk, and has sex with the slutty barmaid SUE. After a TROUBLEMAKER beats up Willie, the Kid shows up to question him to death. When Willie learns the Kid lives alone with his senile GRANDMA (his father is in prison-his mother dead), he accompanies the Kid home to loot the place. Meanwhile, Chipeska informs store detective GIN SLAGEL about his suspicions concerning Willie and Marcus. Gin begins checking on their background. When Willie sees him snooping around his motel room, Willie moves into the Kid's house, enjoying the shelter, the booze, and the jacuzzi with Sue. Willie starts to take care of the Kid more than anyone every has before. Meanwhile, Lois checks out the merchandise and Marcus checks out the store security system. After Willie finds out the Kid has been beaten up by the local BULLIES again, he beats them up. Willie feels good about himself for the first time in years, maybe in his entire life. Gin confronts Willie and Marcus. He knows what they are up to and demands half the take for his silence. They reluctantly agree. Willie is touched when the Kid gives him a handcrafted present. The Kid would like a toy elephant for his Christmas present. Feeling sorry for himself and suicidal, Willie leaves the Kid a note, detailing his plans to rob the store. Meanwhile, Marcus and Lois kill Gin. The big night arrives. After the store closes, Willie cracks the safe while Marcus and Lois loot the store. Before they leave the story, Marcus tells Willie they killed Gin and prepares to kill Willie. But the police, alerted by the Kid who read Willie's note, arrive. While Marcus and Lois get into a shootout with the police, Willie escapes with a toy elephant for the Kid and rushes to the Kid's house. Before he can give it to the Kid, the police shoot and wound him. Willie sends the Kid a letter from the hospital. Marcus and Lois are going to jail. Because the cops shot an unarmed Santa Claus and the letter served as evidence in his favor, Willie gets off the hook. After he recovers and pays his debt to society, he plans to visit the Kid. Meanwhile, he's arranged for Sue to take care of him until his father gets out of prison.

Summary Criticism: Another witty black comedy from the Coen brothers, this excellently crafted screenplay is an unconventional take on the "bitter man changed by an innocent kid" premise.

Bad Santa (2003) - imdb

Bad Santa (2003) - wiki

An El Coyote Christmas

El CoyoteEl CoyoteEl Coyote

A Woodlawn Christmas - Part 2

Woodlawn CemeteryWoodlawn CemeteryWoodlawn Cemetery

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Hollywood Blvd Christmas 2007

World of WonderWorld of Wonder

Tom and the Kids at Christmas - circa 1952

Tom & the Kids at Christmas

A West L.A. Christmas

West L.A. Christmas

True Crime (1999) - Paul Brickman - Andrew Klavan

December 17, 1995


Screenplay by Paul Brickman, Novel by Andrew Klavan

Synopsis by Brian Aldrich

St. Louis reporter MICHELLE ZIEGLER is pissed. Her paper is playing politics and refuses to print her story about the possible innocence of a convicted murderer, FRANK BEACHUM, who is about to be executed the next day. She gets drunk, has sex with a stranger, and kills herself in a car accident at Dead Man's Curve. She was due to cover Beachum's last day alive, so city editor BOB FINDLEY assigns screwup STEVE EVERETT the job. Meanwhile, Everett is having an affair with PATRICIA, Findley's wife. On this day, high school student and aspiring reporter SKIP LANGLEY is allowed to accompany Everett as a school project. So, Everett, who has had one too many DUI's, lets Skip chauffeur him around. Meanwhile, Beachum works out the details of his last day. He meets with the WARDEN, turns away a MINISTER, and lunches with his wife and young daughter.

As Everett reviews the Beachum case, he begins to question the evidence. He and Skip visit the market where Beachum was supposed to have shot the cashier. Everett takes his girlfriend's baby son on a speedy trip through the zoo. He drops the kid off and gets back to investigating the case. Beachum's lawyer, LEESHA TYRONE, informs him that the appeal has been denied. Everett questions the witnesses and doubts their testimony. The prison personnel and the executioner begin to prepare for the execution. Everett interviews Beachum. Everett acts sick to get the guard to leave for help while he questions Beachum about details. The guards force Everett out. Everett fails to get the name of the third witness from the PROSECUTOR, but gets the info from Michele's notes. Everett figures the third witness, WARREN RUSSEL, a black man with a criminal record, to be the real murderer. He visits Warren's GRANDMOTHER and learns Warren is dead. Hope gone, Everett breaks up with his girlfriend and gets drunk. Then, he realizes the Grandmother was wearing the dead girl's locket. Drunk, he picks up the Grandmother and drives crazily to reach the Governor in time to save Beachum from execution. Everett is fired, but gets a better job and a Pulitzer.

Summary Criticism: The story is familiar and so is the journey. The plot and characters are contrived and the ending predictable.

True Crime (1999) - imdb

True Crime (1999) - wiki

Sunday, December 23, 2007

This Boy's Life (1993) - Robert Getchell

June 30, 1991


Screenplay by Robert Getchell

Synopsis by Brian Aldrich

ROSEMARY WOLFF is a single mother in her thirties traveling aimlessly along life's tragedies with her son, TOBY, 13, a precocious youth who has a deep relationship with his mother forged out of struggle and disappointment. It's 1957. They drive a beat up Nash Rambler and are flat broke. Rosemary has a new prospect for success: she plans to mine uranium in Salt Lake City, a town known for its lack of uranium. When they reach their destination, Rosemary realizes the folly of her dream. The car breaks down and Rosemary decides to stay and find a job. Toby goes to school, but keeps getting in trouble. Rosemary's ex-boyfriend, ROY, a brute, shows up. He's tracked them down. Rosemary and Toby ditch him and head for Seattle.

In Seattle, Toby goes Elvis. He dresses like a hood and hangs around other losers. Rosemary rents a house and takes in two roommates: KATHY and MARIAN. Rosemary meets a fellow: DWIGHT, a slightly goofy bird who is out of touch with reality. He lives in a small suburb named CHINOOK with his three children: NORMA, 18, SKIPPER, 17, and PEARL, 12. Dwight's interested in marrying Rosemary and tries to get along with Toby. Although Dwight gives Toby a rifle and promises he can be in the local "turkey-shoot", the rules won't allow a boy Toby's age to be in the contest. Toby is angry. Rosemary enters the contest and beats everyone, including Dwight who fumes with contained anger. Toby continues to get in trouble at school. Finally, Rosemary can't take it any longer. She consents to let Toby go live with Dwight and his family until she is ready to marry him.

Toby soon finds another dimension to Dwight: he is an angry, alcoholic child abuser who mistreats, threatens, and brutalizes Toby into behaving "normally" and working odd jobs like a dog. Dwight promises to kill or cure Toby. By the time Rosemary comes to move in and marry Dwight, Toby is so brainwashed that he is unable to tell his mother what a terror Dwight has become. Life in this household, even with his mother present, is still hell for Toby. Rosemary has lost all vigor for life and goes through the motions. She is reluctant to stand between Dwight and Toby. As a result, Toby continues to be victimized by Dwight.

Toby meets an effeminate boy, ALFRED, who teaches Toby that, like himself, he is different than the average boy and needs desperately to leave Chinook or die. Toby fakes his records, scores well on entrance exams, and tries to get into a prep school. Despite Dwight's opposition, Rosemary works as a volunteer for the Kennedy campaign. Finally, Toby is accepted at a school and given a partial-scholarship. He asks Dwight, drunk and jealous of Toby's success, for his paper route money that Dwight has been "saving" for him. Dwight informs him that he spent the money himself. Toby and Dwight finally fight. Before Dwight can kill Toby, Rosemary takes a shovel to Dwight's head. Rosemary tells Dwight off. She and Toby flee the house. Free and optimistic, they are ready to grasp for life's infinite possibilities once again. Rosemary decides to take a job in Washington D.C. and Toby goes off to prep school.

Summary Criticism: Fresh and invigorating, this brilliant screenplay portrays the relationship between mother and son with truth and originality such as we've never seen before.

This Boy's Life (1993) - imdb

This Boy's Life (1993) - wiki

Lassie & Maureen - circa September 1952

Lassie & Maureen - circa September 1952

A Valley Rainbow

A Valley RainbowA Valley RainbowA Valley Rainbow

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bud & Lou in Tijuana - circa February 1956

Bud and Lou in Tijuana - circa February 1956

The Bodyguard (1992) - Lawrence Kasdan & Walon Green

December 28, 1990


Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Walon Green

Synopsis by Brian Aldrich

FRANK FARMER is a professional bodyguard and a former secret service agent. He is the best. He is hired to protect RACHEL MARRON, a thirty year old music superstar, who is in danger. A crazy fan named DAN snuck into her mansion and left a note telling her of his love and calling himself her husband. She is reluctant to hire Frank, but her business manager DEVANEY is insistent. She has a muscle-bound protector named GUIDO who is jealous of Frank, a personal manager named STEIN, a housekeeper named EMMA, and a black chauffeur named HENRY, all of which are protective of Rachel. She has an attractive sister named NICKI who has a creepy boyfriend named J.D. BLACKBURN. Because of Rachel's arrogant attitude, Frank is reluctant to take the job, but Rachel also takes care of Nicki's young son FLETCHER which concerns him and Devaney talks him into taking the job.

Frank reorganizes Rachel's life and the physical security effects around the mansion. Rachel is unhappy with these changes, but reluctantly agrees when she is finally informed about Dan's note. Frank gives her a cross which is actually a homing device. She is touched. Frank accompanies her golfing, shopping, and finally to the Roxy, a Sunset Blvd. club. Despite Frank's insistence, she goes on stage and performs. Dan is there and almost gets to her, but Frank rescues her from a mad crowd as well as Dan. Rachel asks Frank out on a date. They go out, fall for each other, and go to bed. In the morning, Frank regrets getting personally involved with his client, but Rachel misunderstands and gets angry with him. Her entourage flies to Miami Beach for a charity event. Frank sets up the security. Rachel has an affair with a LIEFGUARD to anger Frank. Dan arrives and stabs the lifeguard. Dan threatens her life. Scared, Rachel makes up with Frank and asks for his help. He makes her agree to cancel her show. Frank takes her, Nicki and Fletcher to his father's farm in Oregon to hide out. Rachel loves his family. Someone sneaks around the farm. Frank chases him. He thinks it might be Dan, but the authorities have already captured him elsewhere. They return to L.A. Rachel, up for an Oscar, goes to the Academy Awards. She wins. She is kidnapped by J.D. and his partner RILEY. Frank chases after her, helped by the homing device. Frank is shot, but is able to save her. Frank recovers and they say goodbye to one another. She thanks him and gives him his cross. They are apart, but they love each other.

Summary Criticism: Well-written and involving, the characters are warm, the story is intriguing, but a bit too familiar.

The Bodyguard (1992) - imdb

The Bodyguard (1992) - wiki

Holidays at the Santa Monica Pier

SM PierSM PierSM Pier

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Scientology Christmas - Hollywood Blvd.

Del & Maureen in Texas - 1954

Del & Maureen in Texas - 1954

Death to Smoochy (2002) - Adam Resnick

September 10, 2000


Screenplay by Adam Resnick

Synopsis by Brian Aldrich

RANDOLPH SMILEY was once the king of the kid shows. His show, “Rainbow Randolph and the Krinkle Kids,” generated tons of cash for the network. Then, the Feds busted Randolph for accepting bribes. His show was cancelled; his career was finished. His mentor at the network, FRANK STOKES, the head of Children’s programming, is ordered to find a squeaky clean replacement. Stokes and his V.P., cynical and aggressive, NORA BISHOP, reluctantly decide on third rate loser SHELDON MOPES, “SMOOCHY the Rhino.”

Nora finds idealistic Sheldon entertaining patients at a methadone clinic. Sheldon’s show is produced and marketed on a grand scale. Stokes refuses Randolph’s pleas for help. Nora puts naive Sheldon in his place. Sheldon meets Randolph’s former agent BURKE BENNETT who convinces Sheldon that he can get him the money and then the power to do his show his way. Jealous Randolph tries to ruin Sheldon’s show, but his plan backfires on him and Sheldon saves the day. Burke uses the incident to get Sheldon a better deal as an executive producer on the show with complete creative control, part-ownership, merchandizing discretion, and a penthouse. Burke gives Sheldon a gun for protection from Randolph. Burke introduces Sheldon to his biggest fan, SPINNER DUNN, a brain bruised former heavyweight boxer connected to the Irish mob. Former Kindle Kid, ANGELO PIKE, has been forced to become a “Rhinette” for Sheldon’s show. Randolph calls on him for help. Sheldon tries to befriend Nora, but she isn’t interested. Irish mobster TOMMY “asks” Sheldon to put his cousin Spinner in the show. Sheldon finds it difficult to handle the day to day bribes, threats, and personal agendas that go along with producing. Burke is disappointed when ethical Sheldon refuses to sign for a lucrative ice show. Randolph threatens Sheldon by phone. Sheldon finds Spinner a not-so-harmless place in the band. Charity thugs, MERV and HENRY, threaten to kill Sheldon if he doesn’t do the ice show. Burke advises Sheldon to cooperate. Drunken Nora shows up at Sheldon’s penthouse to apologize. They are each the only other honest person they know. They break through to one another and kiss. Randolph fools Sheldon into walking on stage before an audience of Nazis just when the cop raid the place. Sheldon is arrested and disgraced. His show is cancelled. He claims innocence, but no one believes him. Even Nora doesn’t believe him. Burke is powerless to help. Asian AGENTS payoff Stokes to hire their singer, TAKASHI, for Smoochy’s timeslot. Sheldon can’t get a job. Stokes convinces the network to try Takashi. Nora suspects Randolph set up Sheldon. Nora asks Spinner to ask Tommy for help. Tommy and his crew force Randolph to confess and clear Sheldon.

Sheldon gets his show back and he reconciles with Nora. Sheldon agrees to do the ice show, but with all the money going to the methadone clinic. Burke warns him. Sheldon and Nora become lovers. The Asians threaten Stokes life. Burke agrees to help Stokes. Burke gets Merv and Henry to eliminate Sheldon. Randolph attempts to commit suicide in public and blame Sheldon, but he can’t go through with it. The thugs mistakenly kidnap and kill Spinner instead of Sheldon. The cops search for Randolph. Tommy kills the charity thugs. Insane Randolph plans to shoot Sheldon. Nora learns about Stokes’ deal with the Asians and informs Sheldon who informs Burke who acts surprised. Sheldon is confronted by Randolph. Sheldon disarms Randolph and agrees to be his friend. Randolph learns that Burke and Stokes have hired hit man and former actor, BUGGY DING-DONG, to kill Sheldon during the ice show. Randolph saves Sheldon. Tommy takes care of Burke. The Asians take care of Stokes. Sheldon and Randolph become partners.

Summary Criticism: An excellently-crafted script, the dark and funny story works on several levels of metaphor and satirizes business and behavior. The characters are sympathetic and endearing.

Death to Smoochy (2002) - imdb

Death to Smoochy (2002) - wiki

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lou and Bud at the Beach - circa July 1951

Lou and Bud at the Beach - circa July 1951

Driving North on 14th Street - Santa Monica

Michigan and 14thWilshire and 14th

Porterhouse Blue (1987) - Tom Sharpe

August 13, 2003


Novel by Tom Sharpe

Synopsis by Brian Aldrich

Retired politician SIR GODBER EVANS has been appointed the new Master at Porterhouse College, one of the ancient schools in Cambridge, England, by the Prime Minister himself. A progressive man married to an even more progressive wife LADY MARY, Godber breaks tradition and announces his intention to bring changes to the conservative college during the sacred feast. The other Fellows at the High Table, the DEAN, the SENIOR TUTOR, the BURSAR, and the CHAPLAIN, are insulted not only by his sacrilege, but by his radical intentions to cut the fat from the budget, increase scholarship, introduce females to the student body and the faculty, and do away with the practice of awarding unearned degrees to the sons of the wealthy in return for donations. They begin scheming of ways to get rid of Sir Godber.

A born servant of his betters, SKULLION has been the Chief Porter at Porterhouse for 45 years. He's not only kept the day to day business of the college running smoothly, but has maintained discipline among the students and put out the occasional fire. He's sacrificed all for the college in return for his status, power, a meager salary, and a home alongside the other servant homes on Rhyder Street. Along the way, he earned a little extra money by providing some of his "scholars" with ready-made term papers for a price. When he learns of the new Master's plans, he informs the Honorable SIR CATHCART D'EATH, one of his former "scholars" and a gentleman influential in politics.

Meanwhile, ZIPSTER, a Porterhouse student, finds himself struggling with a perverse sexual attraction to his obese housekeeper MRS. BIGGS. In order to find safe satisfaction with a female of his own age, he goes in search of a condom and finds himself in possession of two huge boxes of prophylactics. Trying to get rid of them before he is caught, he inflates them with gas and sends them up his dorm room fireplace. However, they get trapped in there at about the same time the amorous Mrs. Biggs traps him in his bed. An explosion not only takes their lives, but also destroys the fa├žade of the ancient building.

Faced with the expensive costs of rebuilding, Godber decides to sell off the houses on Rhyder Street. This enrages Skullion who is facing the loss of his domicile. When the conservative Fellows band together to campaign against Godber's changes, he threatens them with the public exposure of their degrees in exchange for donations scam. The Bursar switches sides and agrees to help Godber affect his changes. Together, they decide to economize by firing Skullion.

Aware of the financial needs of the college, Skullion offers to turn over his 1000-pound inheritance from Lord Wurford for the benefit of the rebuilding, but the Bursar refuses this offer and advises him to seek retirement. This further enrages Skullion. The Dean and Cathcart invite former student turned tabloid journalist CORNELIUS CARRINGTON to do a show about the intended changes, hoping this will enrage the public and get rid of Godber. Carrington, a homosexual still angry about his abuse during his days at Porterhouse, decides to tell the whole dirty story on TV. Meanwhile, Skullion learns his inheritance is really worth a quarter of a million pounds. When he appears on Carrington's TV show, he exposes the degrees for donations scam. The sympathetic public screams for Skullion's reinstatement. The Fellows close ranks to save themselves, but victorious Godber takes over complete control of the college. Confused Skullion goes to Godber and begs for his job back. When Godber refuses, they begin to argue. Godber falls and cracks his head. Skullion flees. The Dean and the Senior Tutor find dying Godber who mumbles Skullion's name. They believe he is naming his own successor. Believing they can manipulate Skullion to their own advantage, they elect him as the new Master. Skullion has a stroke (a Porterhouse Blue) and becomes the wheelchair bound and mute new Master of Porterhouse College.

Summary Criticism: Besides frequent colloquial confusions, this novel is wickedly funny and satirical of all that is elitist and reactionary. The plotting is compelling and the characters are hilariously petty.

Porterhouse Blue (1987) - imdb

Porterhouse Blue (1987) - wiki

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Perfect World (1993) - John Lee Hancock

May 31, 1992


Screenplay by John Lee Hancock

Synopsis by Brian Aldrich

In 1963 Texas, BUTCH HAYNES, 38, and JERRY PUGH, 29, escape from prison. Later, they stumble across a Jehovah's Witness family taking PHILLIP, 8, hostage away from his hard-working, single mom, GLADYS. The Governor puts State Trooper RED GARNETT, 55, in charge of the pursuit, but also assigns him SALLY GERBER, 30, a criminologist. Red, Sally and his team pile into the Governor's motor home and take off to find Butch and Jerry.

Sally details the criminal's histories to Red and the team: Butch grew up in a whorehouse without a father; Jerry is a pervert. They rob a liquor store and kill the CLERK. While Butch stops for soda, Jerry starts to fondle Phillip. Butch kills Jerry and takes off with Phillip. Butch and Phillip become friends. Butch lets the kid do everything that his mother wouldn't let him do because of their religion. They stop at a department store to get some clothes for Phillip. Phillip steals a "Casper the Ghost" Halloween costume which gains him Butch's respect. The duo eludes the police while stealing cars and supplies as they head north. Butch wants to go to Alaska to find his father.

Meanwhile, the motor home gets stuck. Butch and Phillip wind up spending the night with a black sharecropper family. In the morning, Butch starts to tie them up, but Phillip is afraid Butch is going to kill them. Phillip shoots Butch and runs away. Butch stumbles after Phillip, bleeding badly. The cops surround the woods. Red yells for Butch to give up. Butch negotiates Gladys into agreeing to let the boy do what he wants. Phillip and Butch start to give themselves up. A MARKSMAN shoots, killing Butch. Phillip takes off in the police helicopter with his mother.

Summary Criticism: While the main characters are intriguing, the plot is predictable, yet there are several loose ends left hanging.

A Perfect World (1993) - imdb

A Perfect World (1993) - wiki

Speedway, South of Windward - Venice

Speedway, South of Windward - VeniceSpeedway, South of Windward - VeniceSpeedway, South of Windward - Venice