“Well, we have a strong union and there is a great sense of solidarity out there. I don’t know what the studios are hoping to do without writers. I don’t want to know.”
—Writer’s Guild of America representative Douglas Higbert
TO: David Lowman, Paramount Pictures
FROM: Greg Richardson, Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers
RE: That damned strike
Hi Dave, see the new screenplay excerpt pasted below. I’m loving it! (TM) We keep going this direction, we won’t need the writers at all! Let me know what you think.
GEORGE MAXWELL, P.I.
A proposed screenplay…
Private investigator GEORGE MAXWELL sits at his desk in a dirty, cramped office building in downtown Los Angeles. A disgraced former LAPD sergeant, GEORGE is now a hardboiled P.I. Usually hungover and always hard up for work, he runs his modest operation with the help of his young assistant …
JIMMY “THE KID” MILLS. A streetwise hustler from the school of hard knocks, Jimmy has a quick mind and a flexible attitude toward ethics and the law. Wiry and tough, he speaks only in song titles from his complete collection of R.E.M. albums.
INTERIOR - GEORGE’S OFFICE - NIGHT
GEORGE lights a cigarette as Jimmy slouches into the office.
GEORGE: Where you been, kid? You were supposed to be here an hour ago.
JIMMY: I’ve Been High (Reveal, 2001)
GEORGE: Dammit, kid! Lay off the hard stuff! How many times have I told you?
JIMMY: 1,000,000 (Chronic Town, 1982)
GEORGE: Exactly! Look, I need you to ask around town about the Nite Owl Diner case. Lean on the usual informants.
JIMMY: Old Man Kensey (Fables of the Reconstruction, 1985)
GEORGE: Naw, he split town, up in ‘Frisco now…
JIMMY: 7 Chinese Brothers (Reckoning, 1984)
GEORGE: Yeah, talk to those guys. They owe us from the Chinatown thing. Speaking of which, we gotta dump this gun, don’t want the heat tracking it back to us.
JIMMY: What If We Give It Away? (Life’s Rich Pageant, 1986)
GEORGE: Jesus, use your head, Jimmy. Just dump it in the reservoir…
Suddenly, the door swings open and in walks LOLA LADAHLIA, a recent client. Tall, blond and gorgeous, she wears an elegant black dress and fur shawl. Lola is drunk and upset, and speaks only in movie taglines from the ‘40s and ‘50s.
GEORGE (wearily): Ah, Miss Ladahlia. A pleasure to see you again.
JIMMY (to himself): Femme Fatale… (Dead Letter Office, 1987)
LOLA: “I’m In Trouble, George… Bad Trouble.” (A Place in the Sun, 1951)
GEORGE: All, right. All, right. Settle down, Ms. Ladahlia. Please, have a seat. What seems to be the trouble?
LOLA: “A Man, Trying To Run Away From His Past! A Woman, Trying To Escape Her Future!” (Out Of The Past,1947)
GEORGE: Ah, yes. Your husband, Mr. Ladahlia. And his secretary … what’s her name … the redhead, with those amazing—
JIMMY: Pale Blue Eyes… (Dead Letter Office, 1987)
GEORGE: That’s it—Gilda, right?
LOLA: “There Never Was A Woman Like Gilda!” Gilda (1946)
GEORGE: Sure, sure, Ms. Ladahlia. We understand. Say, Jimmy, we still got those files on her?
JIMMY (checking files): I Believe… (Life’s Rich Pageant, 1986)
LOLA (distraught): “They’re making memories tonight!” (It’s A Wonderful Life, 1946)
GEORGE: Easy there, Ms. Ladahlia, easy. I hope you’re not planning anything rash?
LOLA: “From The Moment They Met It Was Murder!” (Double Indemnity, 1944)
GEORGE: Look, sweetheart, you just let me and Jimmy handle this, all right? We know her type.
LOLA: “I Told You… You Know Nothing About Wickedness” (The Lady From Shanghai, 1948)
GEORGE (leading her to the door): Yes, yes…
LOLA: “The Story Of A Love That Became The Most Fearful Thing That Ever Happened To A Woman!”(Laura, 1944) “The Story Of A Family’s Ugly Secret And The Stark Moment That Thrust Their Private Lives Into Public View!” (Written on the Wind, 1956)
GEORGE (hustling her out the door): OK, uh-huh, buh-bye now…
George closes the door behind her gently. He and Jimmy share a relieved look.
Lola ducks her head back in and whispers conspiratorially…
LOLA: “Unspeakable Horrors From Outer Space Paralyze the Living and Resurrect The Dead!” (Planet 9 From Outer Space, 1959)
JIMMY: Strange (Document, 1987)
GEORGE: Yeah, she’s nuts. All right, let’s roll—you wanna walk or drive?
JIMMY: Drive (Automatic for the People, 1992)
GEORGE: Aw, hell, I forgot. The clutch blew out on the Camaro. Well…
JIMMY: We Walk (Murmur, 1983)