Script To Screen: “Citizen Kane”

November 26th, 2014 by

A memorable scene from the 1941 movie Citizen Kane, original screen play by Herman J. Mankiewicz & Orson Welles.

IMDb plot summary: Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.

Setup: Kane’s wife Susan has just left him.

Here is the scene from the script:

INT. CORRIDOR OUTSIDE SUSAN'S BEDROOM - XANADU - NIGHT - 1929

The housekeeper, Mrs. Tinsdall, and a couple of maids are near the door but are too
afraid to be in front of it.  From inside can be heard a terrible banging and
crashing.  Raymond hurries into scene, opens the door and goes in.

INT. SUSAN'S BEDROOM - XANADU - 1929

Kane, in a truly terrible and absolutely silent rage, is literally breaking up the
room - yanking pictures, hooks and all off the wall, smashing them to bits - ugly,
gaudy pictures - Susie's pictures in Susie's bad taste.  Off of occasional tables,
bureaus, he sweeps Susie's whorish accumulation of bric-a-brac.

Raymond stands in the doorway watching him.  Kane says nothing.  He continues with
tremendous speed and surprising strength, still wordlessly, tearing the room to
bits.  The curtains (too frilly - overly pretty) are pulled off the windows in a
single gesture, and from the bookshelves he pulls down double armloads of cheap
novels - discovers a half-empty bottle of liquor and dashes it across the room.
Finally he stops.  Susie's cozy little chamber is an incredible shambles all around
him.

He stands for a minute breathing heavily, and his eye lights on a hanging what-not
in a corner which had escaped his notice.  Prominent on its center shelf is the
little glass ball with the snowstorm in it.  He yanks it down.  Something made of
china breaks, but not the glass ball.  It bounces on the carpet and rolls to his
feet, the snow in a flurry.  His eye follows it.  He stoops to pick it up - can't
make it.  Raymond picks it up for him; hands it to him.  Kane takes it sheepishly -
looks at it - moves painfully out of the room into the corridor.

INT. CORRIDOR OUTSIDE SUSAN'S BEDROOM - XANADU - 1929

Kane comes out of the door.  Mrs. Tinsdall has been joined now by a fairly sizable
turnout of servants.  They move back away from Kane, staring at him.  Raymond is in
the doorway behind Kane.  Kane looks at the glass ball.

					KANE
				(without turning)
			Close the door, Raymond.

					RAYMOND
			Yes, sir.
				(he closes it)

					KANE
			Lock it - and keep it locked.

Raymond locks the door and comes to his side.  There is a long pause - servants
staring in silence.  Kane gives the glass ball a gentle shake and starts another
snowstorm.

					KANE
			Raymond -
				(he is almost in a trance)

					RAYMOND
			Yes, sir -

One of the younger servants giggles and is hushed up.  Kane shakes the ball again.
Another flurry of snow.  He watches the flakes settle - then looks up.  Finally,
taking in the pack of servants and something of the situations, he puts the glass
ball in his coat pocket.  He speaks very quietly to Raymond, so quietly it only
seems he's talking to himself.

					KANE
			Keep it locked.

He slowly walks off down the corridor, the servants giving way to let him pass, and
watching him as he goes.  He is an old, old man!

Here is the movie version of the scene:

Really interesting to compare script to screen. Substantially the same and interesting insight into the focus of his rage, Susan’s “whorish accumulation of bric-a-brac.” I’ve seen the movie at least a half-dozen times and didn’t grasp until now that amidst Susan’s novels, Kane discovers a “half-empty bottle of liquor” – never made that connection from that moment [1:10 in the clip above].

But some key differences. First, the way the snow globe ends up in Kane’s hand. It doesn’t roll to the floor and Raymond doesn’t hand it to Kane as in the script. Rather Kane freezes his destruction when he notices the object on a side table. Picks it up himself. Gives it a shake.

And then a big shift: At that precise moment, Kane whispers, “Rosebud.” And that is the only dialogue in the movie version of the scene.

Why do you think Welles dropped those exchanges between Kane and Raymond? My guess: It’s unnecessary. We know he will cut Susan out of his life. Besides that dialogue distracts from the remarkable moment of Kane standing with the snow globe. First, we saw his rage, a raw emotion begun when Kane was yanked away from his idyllic Colorado home as a child. Now as he stares at the globe, the snow reminding him of that wonderful time in his life, tears well up in his eyes, and so rage gives way to sadness.

That moment is the key to grasping the wound to Kane’s psyche and which fuels everything he does as an adult to distract himself from that pain.

What else do you see in comparing script to screen in this scene from Citizen Kane?

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “Bull Durham”

November 19th, 2014 by

One of the funnier scenes from the 1988 movie Bull Durham, written by Ron Shelton.

IMDb plot summary: A fan who has an affair with one minor-league baseball player each season meets an up-and-coming pitcher and the experienced catcher assigned to him.

		EXT.  DURHAM STADIUM -- LATER -- NIGHT

		GAME IN PROGRESS -- Nuke on the mound.

		NUKE WINDS AND DELIVERS -- Very high.  Ball three.

									CUT TO:

		INSIDE THE DUGOUT -- Skip and Larry spitting tobacco.

						SKIP
				Nuke's overthrowing tonight, he 
				don't look loose.  Anything 
				bothering him?

						LARRY
				He said his chakras were jammed 
				and he was breathing out of the 
				wrong nostril.

						SKIP
					(spitting tobacco)
				Okay...

									CUT TO:

		BACK TO THE MOUND

		NUKE WINDS AND DELIVERS AGAIN -- Very high.  Ball four.

		CRASH IS QUICKLY to the mound.

						CRASH
				What's wrong?

						NUKE
				I'm nervous--my old man's here.

		NUKE MOTIONS -- They both look.

		--P.O.V.  NUKE'S FATHER SITTING in a special box seat.  The 
		man is 45, and is operating a home video camera taking 
		pictures of his son.

						CRASH
				Hey, he's just your father, man--
				he's as full of shit as anybody.

		TOMMY AND DEKE JOIN THEM at the mound.

						DEKE
				What the hell's going on?

						TOMMY
				You breathing through the wrong 
				fucking nostril again?

						DEKE
				Hey, you guys hear Jimmy and Millie 
				are engaged?!  Wait'll I tell him 
				she's gone down on half the 
				Carolina League--

						CRASH
					(threatening)
				Anybody says anything bad about 
				Millie, I'll break his neck.

						NUKE
				Hey, guys, I got a game to pitch.

		JOSE THE FIRST BASEMAN JOINS THEM ALL at the mound.

						JOSE
				Don't throw anything to me--my 
				girlfriend put a curse on my glove.

						NUKE
				I'll take the curse off the son 
				of a bitch!

						JOSE
				Then you got to cut the head off 
				a live rooster.

						NUKE
				Shit.

		MICKEY JOINS THE CROWD from third base.

						MICKEY
				Don't worry, man, this umpire's a 
				God damn racist.

		P.O.V.  THE UMPIRE -- He's black.

									CUT TO:

		THE DUGOUT -- SKIP AND LARRY watch the growing meeting.

						SKIP
				What the hell's going on out there?

						LARRY
				It's a damn convention.

						SKIP
				Check it out.

									CUT TO:

		THE MOUND -- Larry joins the convention.

						LARRY
				What the hell's going on out here?

						CRASH
				Nuke's scared cause his nostrils 
				are jammed and his old man's here, 
				we need a live rooster to take 
				the curse off Jose's glove, and 
				nobody knows what to get Jimmy 
				and Millie for their wedding 
				present--there's a whole lotta 
				shit we're trying to deal with--

						LARRY
				Oh.  I thought there was a problem.

									CUT TO:

Here is the scene from the movie:

Basically the same with two key changes. First, Nuke’s problem isn’t with his nostrils, it’s with his eyelids. That’s funnier, of course. Nostrils can get jammed (stuffy nose). Eyelids? Not so much.

The other change is Larry’s last line. “Oh. I though there was a problem,” is pretty flat. So my guess is the actor Robert Wuhl improvised some lines (he started out as a stand-up comic) and ended up with this: “Okay, well, uh… candlesticks always make a nice gift, and uh, maybe you could find out where she’s registered and maybe a place-setting or maybe a silverware pattern. Okay, let’s get two! Go get ‘em.” His side really drives home the inanity of grown men in the middle of a professional baseball game discussing wedding gifts.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “Braveheart”

November 12th, 2014 by

A scene from the 1995 movie Braveheart, written by Randall Wallace.

IMDb plot summary: When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, William Wallace begins a revolt and leads Scottish warriors against the cruel English tyrant who rules Scotland with an iron fist.

In this scene, young William mourns the murders of his father and uncle. Even though the video cuts in midway through, I’ve started the scene at the beginning to provide context.

               EXT. GRAVESIDE - DAY

               CLOSE on a grave, with a headstone marked ANNE WALLACE. We 
               INCLUDE the two new graves freshly dug beside it, and see 
               the mourners gathered before them. The sight of the boy, 
               standing alone in front of the graves of his dead mother, as 
               the bodies of his father and brother are lowered with ropes 
               into the ground beside her, has all of the neighbors shaken.

               The local parish PRIEST drones mechanically in Latin.

               The farmers who were secretly gathered in Malcolm Wallace's 
               kitchen the previous night are now glancing at William; but 
               no one is anxious to adopt a grieving, a rebellious boy.

               Behind MacClannough are his wife and two daughters; his 
               youngest is barely four, not half William's age; she's a 
               beautiful girl with long auburn hair, and she clings to her 
               own mother's hand, as if the open graves are the mouths of 
               death and might suck her parents in too.

                                     PRIEST
                         ...Restare in pacem eternis, Amen.

               With the final Amen, the neighbors drift from the graveside, 
               pulling their Children along, to give William a last moment 
               of private grief before the grave diggers cover the bodies.

               The boy stands alone over the open graves, his heart so 
               shattered that he can scarcely cry; a single tear makes its 
               way down his face. And the tiny girl feels for William in a 
               way that the adults cannot. From the ground she pulls a 
               Scottish thistle, moves to the softly weeping William and 
               places the beautiful wild blossom in his hand.

               William looks up and their young eyes meet; her sad blue 
               eyes hold William's as the grave diggers cover the bodies.

               Then a lone, mounted figure appears at the crest of the hill 
               above them. Tall, thin and angular, in black clerical garb, 
               he looks like the grim reaper.

               The girl hurries back to her mother's side.

Here is the movie version of the scene:

Two things. A screenwriter can suggest action, but in scenes such as this, even more important to convey atmosphere, the psychological mood of the moment. Then let the director direct… and the actors act… and the editor edit. Compare the results in the movie to the few lines in the script. You’ll see what I mean.

Second, the single best thing about this exchange between William and the young girl is what isn’t there: Dialogue. It reminds us yet again that movies are primarily a visual medium. The image of the flower handed from the girl to a grieving William says it all.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “The Bourne Identity”

November 5th, 2014 by

A scene from the 2002 movie The Bourne Identity, screenplay by Tony Gilroy and William Blake Herron, novel by Robert Ludlum.

IMDb plot summary: A man is picked up by a fishing boat, bullet-riddled and suffering from amnesia, before racing to elude assassins and regain his memory.

Here Bourne (Matt Damon) finds himself in Zurich with hardly any memory of who he is and where he’s been.

        EXT. ZURICH PARK -- NIGHT

        THE MAN trying to get comfortable on a bench.  It's chilly
        but this will have to do until morning.

        Just settling in, when --

                             ZURICH COP #1 (OS)
                        (authority German)
                   (Can't you read the signs?)

        THE MAN turns.  TWO ZURICH COPS coming toward him.

                             ZURICH COP #2 
                   (On your feet.  Let's go.  Right now.)

        THE MAN makes his feet.  They're on top of him now.

                             ZURICH COP #1
                   (The park is closed.  There's no
                   sleeping in the park.)

                             ZURICH COP #2
                   (Let's see some identification.)

        THE MAN not sure what to do.  Eyes moving.  Mouth shut.

                             ZURICH COP #1
                   (Come on.  Your papers.  Let's go.)

                             THE MAN
                   I've lost them.  I've.
                        (German now)
                   (My papers.  They are lost.)

                             ZURICH COP #1
                        (not sympathetic)
                   (Okay.  Let's go.  Put your hands up.)

                             ZURICH COP #2
                        (pulling his nightstick)
                   (-- come on -- hands up -- up --)

        THE MAN raising his hand slowly -- ZURICH COP #1 reaching up
        to pat him down --

                             THE MAN
                   -- look, I'm just trying to sleep
                   okay? --
                        (German again)
                   (-- I just need to sleep --)

        ZURICH COP #2 has heard enough -- giving a sharp poke with
        the nightstick -- into THE MAN's back -- and that's the last
        thing he'll remember because --

        THE MAN is in motion.

        A single turn -- spinning -- catching COP #2 completely off
        guard -- the heel of his hand driving up into the guy's
        throat and --

        COP #1 -- behind him -- trying to reach for his pistol, but
        THE MAN -- still turning -- all his weight moving in a
        single fluid attack -- a sweeping kick and --

        COP #1 -- he's falling -- catching the bench -- trying to
        fight back but -- THE MAN -- like a machine -- just 
        unbelievably fast -- three jackhammer punches -- down-down-
        down and -- COP #1 -- head slammed into the bench -- blood
        spraying from his nose -- he's out cold and --

        COP #2 -- writhing on the ground -- gasping for air -- 
        struggling with his holster -- THE MAN -- his foot -- 
        down -- like a vise -- onto COP #2's arm -- shattering the 
        bone -- COP #2 starting to scream, and then silenced because -- 

        THE MAN -- he's got the pistol -- so fucking fast -- he's
        got it right up against COP #2's forehead -- right on the
        edge of pulling the trigger -- he is, he's gonna shoot him --

                             ZURICH COP #2
                        (gasping, pleading)
                   (-- no -- please God no -- please
                   don't -- please no -- my Go--)
                        (stopping as--)

        THE MAN slams the gun against his temple and --

        This fight is over.

        THE MAN standing there.  In the silence.  Two unconscious
        cops at his feet.  Blood on his pants.  What just happened?
        How did he do this?  And there's THE GUN in his hand.  And
        God, it just feels so natural -- checking it -- stripping it
        down -- holding it -- aiming it -- like this is something
        he's done a million times before...

        This is something he definitely knows how to do.

        And then he stops cold.  Throwing down the gun.  Running off
        into the darkness --

Here is the movie version of the scene:

Some intriguing differences, primarily in trimming the action. No blood. No pleading from the cop. No jamming the gun against the cop’s temple. Just wham, wham, wham, wham! Cops down. My guess is the director (Doug Liman) and perhaps Gilroy in production decided it was better to focus on the suddenness and brevity of Bourne’s actions to drive home to him – Bourne – the instantaneous shock of what he is capable of.

Beyond the action description, check out the moment after the altercation and how Gilroy describes it: The MAN standing there. In the silence. Two unconscious cops at his feet. Blood on his pants. What just happened? How did he do this? And there’s THE GUN in his hand. And God, it just feels so natural… like this is something he’s done a million times before.

Gilroy gets novelistic, describing Bourne’s inner thoughts. It’s effective writing at a key moment: To bring the script reader into the experience of the Protagonist and convey his feelings about what he just did.

What other thoughts do you have about this scene? Love to hear them.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “Boogie Nights”

October 29th, 2014 by

A key scene from the 1997 movie Boogie Nights, written by Paul Thomas Anderson.

IMDB plot summary: The story of a young man’s adventures in the Californian pornography industry of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

INT. RAHAD JACKSON'S HOUSE - NIGHT - THAT MOMENT

A really big fat black BODYGUARD comes to the door and opens up:

BODYGUARD
Hello. Come on in.

The bodyguard leads them down a hall and into a tacky and spacious, sunken
LIVING ROOM.

They're greeted by a man in a silk robe, slightly open to show some bikini
briefs and a thin sheen of sweat covering his body: RAHAD JACKSON (late
40s).

Off in a corner of the room, a YOUNG ASIAN KID is casually throwing some
FIRECRACKERS around.

Rahad is DANCING around by himself to NIGHT RANGER, "SISTER CHRISTIAN." He
spots the men;

RAHAD
Hello, friends. Which one is Todd?

TODD
That's me. We met before at the club --

RAHAD
Oh, yeah. Come on in here.

TODD
These are my friends Dirk and Reed.

RAHAD
Great to meet you. You guys want something
to drink -- or a pill -- or some coke --
or some dope?

DIRK/REED/TODD
No thank you, thanks, no.

RAHAD
So what do we have, we have, something, yeah?

TODD
Here it is . . . half a key . . . it's really good,
if you wanna test it out --

RAHAD
Oh, wait a minute, I love this part:
(sings along)
"SISTER CHRISTIAN, THERE'S SO MUCH
IN LIFE, DON'T YOU GIVE IT UP BEFORE
YOUR TIME IS DUE . . . IT'S TRUE!"
(to Dirk)
This song is so amazing.
Anyway: What's the price?

TODD
We were thinking five thousand.

RAHAD
That's good. No problem, cool, cool.

The Bodyguard brings over a PAPER BAG FULL OF CASH and hands the bag to
Todd in exchange for the PAPER BAG FULL OF BAKING SODA.

Reed watches the Bodyguard take the bag and notices something. REED'S POV:
a SHOULDER HOLSTER holds a .45 Automatic Pistol.

Rahad does an air guitar solo to the Night Ranger song . . . he walks
across the room, picks up a COKE PIPE and looks to the guys;

RAHAD
You wanna play baseball?

DIRK/REED/TODD
No thank you.

Rahad strokes the pipe while dancing. Dirk looks across to an open bedroom
door.

DIRK'S POV: Through the crack in the door, we can see a bloody, battered
YOUNG BLACK WOMAN in a silk robe . . .she's followed by another YOUNG WHITE
GIRL in nothing.

RAHAD (OC)
Check this out --

He takes out a nickel plated REVOLVER and loads a single bullet, spins the
chamber and puts it to his head and sings;

RAHAD
SISTER CHRISTIAN -- OH THE TIME HAS
COME . . . AND YOU KNOW THAT YOU'RE
THE ONLY ONE TO SAY . . . OK . . .

He pulls the trigger . . . Click . . . he smiles and casually speaks;

RAHAD
I put a mix tape together of all
my favorite songs . . . This is song number
three . . . I love putting mix tapes together,
you know . . . if you buy an album or tape or
something, those guys put the songs in their
order and they try and say how you should listen
to the songs, but I don't like that.
I don't like to be told what to listen
to, when to listen to or anything . . .

The Night Ranger song FADES OUT . . . BEAT . . . Rahad smiles at the Asian
Kid who's casually throwing some firecrackers around.

RAHAD
(to Dirk/Reed/Todd)
He's Chinese . . . he loves to set
off firecrackers . . .

REO SPEEDWAGON, "CAN'T FIGHT THIS FEELING," begins to play.

RAHAD
I CAN'T FIGHT THIS FEELING ANY LONGER
AND YET I'M STILL AFRAID TO LET IT FLOW.
WHAT STARTED OUT AS FRIENDSHIP HAS GROWN
STRONGER -- I ONLY WISH I HAD THE STRENGTH
TO LET IT SHOW --

DIRK
Well . . . I think maybe . . . we better 
get going --

RAHAD
No, stay. Hang out. We'll party.

DIRK
No, we really gotta split.
We have to be somewhere and we --

Dirk and Rahad continue to haggle about leaving/not leaving. CAMERA BEGINS
A SLOW DOLLY INTO A CU ON TODD.

TODD
We're Not Leaving Yet.

Dirk and Reed look at Todd. He stands up.

TODD
We're here now and we want something else.
Hey -- Hey. We Want Something Else From You.

RAHAD
What?

DIRK
Todd -- what the hell are you doing?

TODD
In the master bedroom, under the bed,
in a floor safe . . . You understand?

The Bodyguard turns his head. Dirk and Reed are confused;

DIRK
Todd . . . what the fuck, man, c'mon --

TODD
Shut up, Dirk. I told you I got a plan.
I got a good plan.

RAHAD
Are you kiddin' me kittie?

TODD
No I'm not. I'm not kidding. We want
what's in the safe. We want what's in
the safe in the floor under the bed in
the master bedroom.

DIRK
Todd -- don't be crazy.
(to Rahad)
Sir -- we don't know anything about this.
This is not the thing that we wanted.

TODD
SHUT THE FUCK UP, DIRK.

The BODYGUARD reaches into his coat . . .

. . . Todd pulls his REVOLVER quickly and AIMS at the Bodyguard.

TODD
Don't reach for your gun.

. . . Rahad reacts by AIMING HIS GUN AT TODD . . .

RAHAD
You don't wanna do this, friendly.

TODD
You've only got one bullet.

Rahad PULLS THE TRIGGER . . . a bullet FIRES from the gun and strikes Todd
in the SHOULDER . . . the gun in his hand falls to the floor and he
stumbles back . . .

. . . The Bodyguard takes this moment to GRAB HIS OWN GUN from the holster
and FIRE off shots at Dirk and Reed . . .

. . . Bullets graze past them and they DUCK FOR COVER . . .

. . . The GIRLS in the bedroom SCREAM and SHOUT at the gunfire . . .

. . . A STRAY BULLET HITS the ASIAN KID in the heart, but he doesn't fall .
. .

. . . TODD reaches hold of his gun, crouches for cover and FIRES a bullet
STRAIGHT INTO the Bodyguard . . . who falls back DEAD . . . Todd looks
right and sees:

RAHAD scuttles into the bedroom with the women . . . Todd looks over his
shoulder to Dirk and Reed;

DIRK
WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, TODD?

TODD
He went in the bedroom.

DIRK
ARE YOU CRAZY? WHEN DID YOU GO CRAZY?

TODD
He's got cash and coke in the safe
under the bed -- if we leave here
without it we're fools.

REED
Let's just split, let's just split
right now, Todd. Don't be stupid.
This wasn't part of the deal.

TODD
I'm goin' in that bedroom and get what's
in that safe. Are you coming?

DIRK
Fuck no. Todd. Don't. Don't do it.

Todd gets up and heads for the bedroom with his revolver at the ready . . .
he inches closer to the door and twists the door knob, then KICKS THE DOOR
OPEN;

. . . Rahad is standing right there, holding a SAWED OFF SHOTGUN. He pulls
the trigger . . . Todd blinks . . .

. . . Rahad's SHOTGUN BLAST blows Todd BACK and UP in the air about fifteen
feet . . . he FALLS to the ground with a HOLE in his STOMACH about the size
of a basketball . . . Rahad calls out to Dirk and Reed;

RAHAD
C'mon out, little puppies. You want to
come and see, come and see, to get what
is coming down. Coming down.

Rahad peers out from his bedroom, sees a sliver of Dirk behind the wall.
Rahad FIRES HIS SHOTGUN . . . which cuts right past Dirk's head and SHREDS
the wall near him . . .

Reed and Dirk make a DASH for the front door . . .

. . . Rahad FIRES another shot . . .

. . . a BLAST BREEZES PAST THEIR HEADS . . .

Dirk and Reed make it OUTSIDE . . . Rahad chases after them . . .

CUT TO:

EXT. RAHAD'S HOUSE - THAT MOMENT

Reed and Dirk make a dash for the Corvette -- they're steps away when a
SHOTGUN BLAST BLOWS INTO THE PASSENGER'S SIDE DOOR --

Reed heads away from the car -- makes a run diagonally across the street
for shelter behind some SHRUBS and TREES -- (he gets lost from CAMERA)

Dirk gets around to the driver's side of the Corvette, shielded and
crouched -- he opens the door and starts to get in --

ANOTHER SHOT BLOWS THE PASSENGER'S SIDE WINDOW OUT.

GLASS SPRAYS IN HIS EYES AND HIS HAND SLIPS DOWN, RELEASING THE EMERGENCY
BRAKE OF THE CAR -- WHICH BEGINS TO ROLL DOWN THE STREET--

Dirk stumbles back from the car. He looks to the house:

Rahad is about to FIRE the shotgun again . . .

. . . he looks down the street: the Corvette is ROLLING away and picking up
speed as it goes down the hill --

Dirk gets on his feet and makes a run for the car, Rahad FIRES . . .

. . . Dirk catches up with the car, hops in -- gets the key in the ignition
and starts it up, peels off down the street --

Here is the movie version of the scene:

What an incredible scene. The tension builds and builds and builds… then boom!

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “Blue Velvet”

October 15th, 2014 by

A scene from the 1986 movie Blue Velvet, written by David Lynch.

IMDB Plot Summary: The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of criminals who have kidnapped her child.

In this scene, Frank (Dennis Hopper) having discovered Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) spending time with Frank’s love interest Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini), takes Jeffrey on a “joyride” with some of Frank’s thugs, Dorothy and a character known as Greasy Girl.


               INT. FRANK'S CAR / DIRT ROAD - NIGHT

               Frank angrily swerves the car off onto a small dirt road 
               bouncing down it, screeching to a halt near an orchard of 
               trees. He turns violently around to Jeffrey.

                                     FRANK
                         What are you lookin' at?

                                     JEFFREY
                         Nothing.

                                     FRANK
                              (locks eyes with 
                              Jeffrey; long pause)
                         Don't look at me, Fuck. I shoot when 
                         I see the whites of the eyes.
                              (takes helium)
                         You like me?

               Jeffrey is quiet.

                                     FRANK
                              (still high voice)
                         Look at these. What are these?

                                     DOROTHY
                         Come on, Frank. Let's go. Please.

               Frank is doing something to Dorothy's chest but Jeffrey can't 
               see.

                                     FRANK
                         Don't say PLEASE, Fuckhead. WHAT ARE 
                         THESE?

                                     DOROTHY
                         Those are my breasts.

                                     FRANK
                         Can I feel 'em?

                                     DOROTHY
                         If you want to.

               Frank takes helium.

                                     FRANK
                         Baby wants to pinch 'em.

               She winces and tries to pull away.

                                     FRANK
                              (continuing)
                         What's the matter? Give 'em back. 
                         They're just a little red, that's 
                         all. Let me feel 'em again. Come 
                         here.

               Frank pulls her over and starts to pinch her again. It really 
               hurts her and she is frightened and in pain.

                                     JEFFREY
                         Hey. Leave her alone.

               Frank pretends not to hear Jeffrey and pinches Dorothy's 
               breasts real hard. She stifles a scream. Jeffrey gets mad. 
               He hits Frank hard in the face. Everyone is deadly silent as 
               Frank turns to Jeffrey. Frank stares at Jeffrey.

                                     FRANK
                         NEXT! Out of the car fuck. HELP HIM 
                         OUT, RAYMOND!!

               EXT. FRANK'S CAR / DIRT ROAD - NIGHT

               Frank gets out and presses his face against the rear window. 
               His distorted face is hideous. He opens the back door. Raymond 
               and Paul grab Jeffrey and pull him out of the car. The Greasy 
               Girl laughs nervously.

                                     DOROTHY
                         Frank, he didn't mean it. Leave him 
                         alone. Come on. He didn't mean it.

                                     FRANK
                         Shut up. Gimme your lipstick.
                              (takes gas)
                         Hey, pretty, pretty.

               Dorothy doesn't move fast enough so Frank dumps her whole 
               purse out on the front seat and grabs the lipstick and a 
               flashlight. He puts lipstick heavy onto his lips.

               While Raymond and Paul hold Jeffrey. Frank kisses Jeffrey 
               all over the mouth. Jeffrey tries to hit Frank and pull away, 
               but Raymond and Paul have a hold of him. Jeffrey looks very 
               strange with these big blotches of red lipstick on his face 
               and mouth.

                                     DOROTHY
                         LEAVE HIM ALONE!! FRANK!!

               Frank slams the front door shut to muffle Dorothy. He grabs 
               Jeffrey and presses his frightened face against the front 
               window. Then, the back window. Then, he flops Jeffrey up on 
               the hood with Paul's help and presses Jeffrey's face against 
               the rear window. Inside the car, this show is crazy and scary. 
               Then, Frank takes Jeffrey over to the side of the car again.

                                     FRANK
                              (to Jeffrey)
                         You're fuckin' lucky to be alive. 
                         LOOK AT ME!

               Raymond pulls Jeffrey's face back so he's looking at Frank. 
               Dorothy and the Greasy Girl watch in terror.

                                     FRANK
                         Don't be a good neighbor to her or 
                         I'm gonna send you a love letter. 
                         Straight from my heart, fucker. You 
                         know what a love letter is? It's a 
                         bullet, straight from my gun, fucker. 
                         Once you get a love letter from me, 
                         you're fucked forever. Understand, 
                         Fuck?

                                     JEFFREY
                         Yes.

                                     FRANK
                         I'll send you straight to hell, Fuck!

               Frank takes a small square of blue velvet out of his pocket 
               and begins feeling Jeffrey's face with it.

                                     FRANK
                              (continuing; breathing 
                              heavily)
                         You feel good. Feel my muscles.

               Raymond makes Jeffrey raise his arm and Jeffrey feels Frank's 
               biceps.

                                     FRANK
                              (continuing)
                         You like that?
                              (to Raymond and Paul)
                         Hold him tight for me.

               Suddenly Frank starts hitting Jeffrey in the face. Dorothy 
               screams at the car window.

                                                              CUT TO BLACK:

Here is the movie version of the scene:

The scene plays out pretty much as written with one major exception: The addition of the Roy Orbison song “In Dreams”. What is described in the script simply as this — “Frank takes a small square of blue velvet out of his pocket and begins feeling Jeffrey’s face with it” — has Frank echoing lines of dialogue from the song as it plays on the car tape player.

In dreams I walk with you. In dreams I talk to you.
In dreams you’re mine. All of the time we’re together
In dreams, In dreams.

It provides a level of homoeroticism that takes the scene from creepy… to really creepy. Combined with Greasy Girl shifting from the mood in the script — “watch in terror” — to her dancing on the car while Frank terrorizes Jeffrey, adding a darkly comic twist, what Lynch ends up with is a memorable scene.

Any Blue Velvet fans out there? The movie was released domestically on October 30, 1986, so it’s coming up on its 28th birthday. Arguably Lynch’s best movie, I think it’s about time for another screening.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “The Birds”

October 8th, 2014 by

A scene from the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock thriller The Birds, screenplay by Evan Hunter, short story by Daphne Du Maurier.

IMDB Plot Summary: A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people there in increasing numbers and with increasing viciousness.

This is one of the more memorable scenes in the movie: school children attempting to escape an onslaught of attacking birds.

               FULL SHOT - THE ROOM

               Through the windows, we can see the waiting crows. One moves 
               restlessly into flight, then settles on the equipment again.

                                     ANNIE
                         Quiet down, children! Quiet down!

               The children modulate into silence.

                                     ANNIE
                         Miss Daniels wants to see how we 
                         conduct ourselves during a fire drill. 
                         I'd like you to...

                                     CHILDREN
                              (grumbling in Unison)
                         A fire drill? This is our play period, 
                         Miss Hayworth! Gee whiz!  Etc.

                                     ANNIE
                         I'd like you to show her how quiet 
                         and obedient you can be.

               The children again fall silent.

                                     ANNIE
                         We're going to go out of the school 
                         now. Those of you who live nearby 
                         can go directly home. I want the 
                         rest of you to go down the hill, all 
                         the way to the hotel. Do you 
                         understand?

                                     CHILDREN
                         All the way down the hill? Gee, Miss 
                         Hayworth, we never... Home? Why do 
                         we...?

                                     ANNIE
                              (shushing them)
                         I want you to go as quietly as you 
                         can, not a sound, until I tell you 
                         to run. And then I want you to run 
                         as fast as you can. Does everyone 
                         understand?
                              (pause - silence)
                         All right. John, would you lead the 
                         class, please?

               The children walk two-by-two to the corridor door. John opens 
               it, and they begin filing out. Melanie turns to look at the 
               play yard.

               CLOSE SHOT - A SINGLE CROW

               fluttering at the window, almost in exploration. He hangs 
               there for a moment, then wings back to the playground 
               equipment.

               CLOSE SHOT - MELANIE

                                     MELANIE
                              (whispering)
                         Hurry!

               EXT. PLAY YARD - FULL SHOT (6)

               straight on of all the crows.

               NEARER SHOT - PLAY YARD (8)

               but a different angle.

               CLOSER SHOT - PLAY YARD (10)

               but a different angle from the others

               CLOSE SHOT - (12)

               A low angle of five or six crows filling the screen.

               EXT. PLAY YARD

               The screen is filled with crows. About fifty or more. All of 
               a sudden we HEAR the distant PATTERING of children's feet as 
               they start running. Immediately the crows rise and the CAMERA 
               PANS UP with them into the sky.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD - LONG SHOT - (PLATE) (15)

               The FULL SHOT showing the children running toward the CAMERA - 
               Annie herding them at the rear. The crows - about two hundred - 
               rising over the schoolhouse roof and descending toward and 
               reaching the running children. Shot as a moving background 
               with six or seven children in front on a treadmill with the 
               mechanical birds coming into top of screen as though 
               continuing on from the plate. The birds swing around and 
               among the foreground children.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (4) (S)

               A side view of running children with Melanie in front urging 
               them forward. Birds fly between them, two or three others 
               wheel around, one live one sweeps by in foreground.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (3) (P)

               Three or four children running. Birds overhead - one or two 
               children spread out as others come in from sides and take 
               their places. Birds swerve in and out.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (2) (S)

               Profile of running child. Bird catches up and bites.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (3) (S)

               A nearer side on view without Melanie. Birds wheeling in and 
               out - others overhead.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (1) (P)

               Bird on top of girl's head (showing feet and wings).

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (2) (S)

               A three-quarter back of two children running - lots of birds 
               overhead and others wheeling. Screen almost full of birds.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (1) (P)

               One-half child's face - a bird's head and beak on left, 
               dashing round to the child.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD - CLOSE UP (L)

               of feet running.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD - HIGH MOVING SHOT (6) (L)

               showing the crows among the running children.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (1) (P)

               Big head of girl - bird lands on her right shoulder - wing 
               over her face.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (1) (P)

               One SCREAMING child as bird swoops from top left down to 
               lower right.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (2) (S)

               Head and shoulders of boy who ducks behind pole -- bird goes 
               by as another attacks him from right-hand side.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (1) (FP)

               Back view of boy's head running. He looks back.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (½) (P)

               Big head of bird coming at CAMERA.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (1) (FP)

               Back view of little girl running. She looks over her shoulder.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (½) (P)

               Big head of bird coming into CAMERA.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (3) (L)

               Straight back CLOSE SHOT of Annie dragging slow children. No 
               birds in back, but several wheeling around them.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD - HIGH MOVING SHOT (6) (L)

               showing the crows chasing the children down the street - 
               with the Bay in the distance.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (3) (S)

               A bird dives to head of Michele and she falls OUT of picture.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD - CLOSE UP (1) (L)

               of Michele as she hits ground.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD - CLOSE UP (½) (L)

               Her glasses smash.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (2) (S)

               Flash Cathy - she sees and runs back. Birds swirling around.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (1) (S)

               Six birds descend on fallen Michele - legs running by.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (3) (S)

               Cathy RUSHES IN. She disperses birds and bends to pick up 
               Michele.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (2) (S)

               Melanie stops, looks back and sees Cathy and Michele, heads 
               of other children rushing by in foreground. Birds swirling.  
               Melanie dashes out left.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (3) (S)

               Melanie reaches Cathy and Michele -- Michele is now on her 
               feet. Birds swirling -- Melanie looks about -- sees.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (2) (L)

               Station wagon across the street. Birds swirling about and 
               children running by.

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD (5) (L)

               Melanie drags Cathy and Michele to the station wagon. We see 
               the Bay in the distance and children running on the bottom 
               of the street.

               INT. STATION WAGON - CLOSE SHOT (8) (S)

               Shooting inside the wagon across the front seat. The three 
               scramble in, Cathy first, then Michele and Melanie last --

               the door SLAMS on crows swooping around. Cathy and Michele 
               are SCREAMING with fright.

               INT. STATION WAGON - P.O.V. (3) (FP)

               Through the windshield we see crows attacking. Bay and running 
               children in distance.

               INT. STATION WAGON (3) (P)

               The faces of the three - Birds are fluttering on the rear 
               window.

               INT. STATION WAGON - MELANIE (3) (P)

               wheel in foreground. She starts to slam hand on horn ring.

               INT. STATION WAGON (2) (S)

               Crows attacking side window.

               INT. STATION WAGON (2) (S)

               Hand on horn ring.

               INT. STATION WAGON (2) (P)

               Cathy and Michele's faces huddled together.

               INT. STATION WAGON (2) (P)

               Melanie's big head - she looks down.

               INT. STATION WAGON - CLOSE UP (1) (P)

               Knob of wiper -- her hand comes in and pulls it out.

               INT. STATION WAGON (3) (FP)

               Wipers starting. Crows retreat.

               INT. STATION WAGON (2) (P)

               The three faces staring out.

               INT. STATION WAGON - P.O.V. (3) (P)

               through windshield. The crows are starting to go away.

               INT. STATION WAGON (2) (P)

               Melanie looks out and sees:

               EXT. SCHOOL ROAD - P.O.V. (6) (FP)

               through windshield. Annie running back with stick. She beats 
               the last of the crows away.

               INT. STATION WAGON (6) (S)

               Melanie flops in exhaustion over the wheel as Annie comes 
               round to the side window and starts to open the door.

Now the movie version of the scene:

There are a few key differences between script and screen — most notably Melanie (Tippi Hedren) doesn’t turn on the windshield wipers because in the movie, she doesn’t have car keys — but for the most part, the script is a shot-by-shot blueprint for the movie. This is not surprising because that is how Hitchcock operated. Here is an excerpt from an interview with screenwriter Ernest Lehman who wrote North By Northwest:

Hitch and I acted out the entire crop-dusting sequence in his living room. Then I incorporated every move into the script, and that was the way he shot it.

Storyboarding is really an illustrator’s work for the director. A motion picture illustrator puts pictures on paper and puts them on boards. In story-boarding a script for a Hitchcock film, the illustrator is told what pictures to put on the boards by the script, which has benefited from my conferences with the director. Of course, I participate in what is going to appear on that storyboard, because even without the storyboard the script describes exactly what is going to be on the screen. Hitch would have it no other way. The script even describes the size of the shot, whether it’s a medium or a tight close-up, whether the camera pulls back and pans to the right as the character walks toward the door, whether it tilts slightly down and shoots through the open doorway, getting the helicopter as the lights go on outside. That’s why Hitch says it’s a bore for him to get the picture on the screen, because it has all been done already in his office [emphasis added].

What can contemporary screenwriters take away from this script to screen post? Here are a few things.

* The scene reminds us that movies are primarily a visual medium. Just look at those pages, one image after another in quick succession.

* The screenplay, over 50 years old, represents a style whereby the script was a blueprint to produce a movie, even down to individual camera shots. Screenplay style has moved away from directing jargon and production lingo, evolving into a more literary feel.

* While it is uncommon to use camera shots in contemporary scripts, we can indicate them through the use of individual paragraphs. For example, let’s take the action inside the car and strip away the camera direction:

               INT. STATION WAGON 

               The faces of the three - Birds are fluttering on the rear 
               window.

               Melanie starts to slam hand on horn ring.

               Crows attacking side window.

               Hand on horn ring.

               Cathy and Michele's faces huddled together.

               Melanie's big head - she looks down.

               Knob of wiper -- her hand comes in and pulls it out.

               Wipers starting. Crows retreat.

               The three faces staring out. Through windshield -- 

               The crows are starting to go away.

Notice how each line suggest a camera shot without use camera lingo? This style allows writers to ‘direct’ the action in a more literary fashion than the production blueprint approach of yesteryear.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “Say Anything”

October 1st, 2014 by

A memorable scene from Say Anything (written by Cameron Crowe):

Setup: Lloyd drives over to Diane’s house to deliver a message.

INT. DIANE'S HOUSE - DAY

Diane is lying on her bed, upset.  We hear music coming from 
outside.  Diane lifts her head slightly.

EXT. DIANE'S HOUSE - DAY

Lloyd has driven over, and is holding a boom box high above his 
head with both hands.  It is playing 'In Your Eyes'.

INT. DIANE'S HOUSE - DAY

Diane lets her head drop back onto the pillow when she realizes 
where the music is coming from, and who it is. 

EXT. DIANE'S HOUSE - DAY

Lloyd is still there, in the same position as before.

INT. DIANE'S HOUSE - DAY

Diane turns away from the window, trying to ignore the music.

EXT. DIANE'S HOUSE - DAY

Lloyd is still there, raising the box slightly at times, getting 
uncomfortable, but still stays there.  The camera slowly zooms 
into his face.

Here is the movie scene:

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script To Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “Batman”

September 24th, 2014 by

The Final Struggle in the 1989 movie Batman.

Plot Summary: The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker.

        INT. BELFRY - THAT MOMENT

        The Joker, hearing something beneath the trapdoor, begins
        to move the second bell over it.  However, his curiosity
        gets the better of him and he lifts the trap a fraction
        of an inch.  He opens the trap fully, no Batman.

                                JOKER
                  I must have belled the bat!

        Joker LAUGHS then stops and looks around slowly.

                                JOKER
                  There ain't any more of you up
                  here, are there? -- Daddy or Momma
                  bat?

        The Joker LAUGHS, CRAZILY.

                                BATMAN (O.S.)
                  My parents are dead.  But you
                  remember that, don't you, Jack?

        Joker turns quickly to see Batman standing with cape un-
        furled.  A rappeling line hangs from his belt and out
        onto the parapet.  A small pulley on the belt.  The
        Joker CACKLES.

                                JOKER
                  You climbed up the outside with
                  a rope!
                         (LAUGHTER)
                  You little monkey!  God, look at
                  you.  You're a mess.
                         (laughs)
                  They're gonna be real mad at the
                  costume shop when they see what
                  you did to their suit.

        Batman steps toward him.  Joker steps back into the
        half-dark.

                                BATMAN
                         (wicked smile)
                  Yeah, and they asked me to bring
                  your face back to the shop for
                  some work.  Even if I have to tear
                  it off.

                                JOKER
                  You maniac, it was you who dropped
                  me in the tanks.  You made me.

                                BATMAN
                  I made you.  And you made me.

                                JOKER
                  What is this?  I say you made me
                  and you have to say I made you?
                  How childish can you get?  You're
                  insane.

                                BATMAN
                         (the voice of doom)
                  Are we going to kill each other,
                  Jack?

                                JOKER (O.S.)
                         (slightly nervous)
                  Jack?  Jack's out, I'm running his
                  body while he's gone.

                                BATMAN
                  Well, when you see him -- tell him
                  I'm gonna kick his ass!

        Batman steps in Joker's direction.  From out of the dark-
        ness Joker swings a huge BELL which SMASHES INTO BATMAN.
        He is knocked over backwards out onto the parapet, he
        nearly falls over the edge.

        BATMAN'S POV OF GROUND ZERO - NIGHT

        A frightening view thirty stories down toward death.

        EXT. CATHEDRAL - NIGHT

        Batman catches himself just before he topples over.

        INT. BELFRY - NIGHT

        Joker creeps around alone.  Not sure if Batman fell.  He
        hides, flattened up against an archway inside the belfry.

        SOUND OF CHOPPER in distance.  Joker hears it.

                                JOKER
                         (into his radio)
                  Step on it.  I'll be on the roof.

        SUDDENLY, Batman appears behind Joker's shoulder.  He
        jerks an arm around Joker's neck, pinning him against
        archway.

                                BATMAN
                  Have you danced with the devil in
                  the pale moonlight?

        Joker jumps off the ground.  He tries to get away.
        Batman wraps his other arm around and, "click," hand-
        cuffs himself to the Joker.

                                BATMAN
                  Well, now's your big chance.

        Joker struggles.  He twists and turns the handcuffs but
        can't shift them.  He can hardly move.

                                JOKER
                         (pulling a Joker
                          flower from his coat)
                  That was dumb.  Now I'm going to
                  have to operate.

        Joker SQUIRTS acid on the handcuffs.

        Batman slips his arms back around Joker, pulling him into
        the open.  They stand tethered face-to-face.  Joker hits
        Batman hard, Batman returns the blow, Joker hits again,
        and Batman returns.

        The Joker gives a tremendous tug and the SIZZLING HAND-
        CUFFS BREAK.  He runs to the wooden louvers.

        Joker breaks a 2 by 4 from the wooden framework of belfry
        and SMASHES Batman with it.

        Batman goes down.  Joker hits him again.  HELICOPTER AP-
        PROACHES and dangles ladder over parapet.  Joker STEPS
        OUT onto parapet.  He grabs for the dangling ladder.

        Batman looks up from where he has fallen.

        HIS POV

        UP INTO belfry where there are thousands of Bats stirring.

        ON BATMAN

        He activates a sonar device on his belt.  A SHRILL WHINE
        lifts into the air.

                                                   CUT TO:

        EXT. BELLTOWER PARAPET - THAT MOMENT

        Helicopter HOVERS at the side of the belltower.  Joker
        steps up onto the wall between two GARGOYLES and puts
        his foot onto one of the rungs of the ladder.  He looks
        up as he hears UNEARTHLY SCREAMING FROM BELFRY.

        EXT. BELLTOWER PARAPET - THAT MOMENT

        Suddenly the AIR IS FULL OF BATS, diving and flapping
        all over the place.  The NOISE from Batman's belt CLIMBS
        IN PITCH.  As it does so the bats fly faster.  They swarm
        above Joker in an ever thickening black cloud.

        EXT. BELLTOWER PARAPET - MOMENTS LATER

        The swarm of bats sweeps out and engulfs him.  He SCREAMS,
        tries to beat them off.

        ON BATS

        Suddenly Batman steps through the cloud.

        He grabs Joker.  Pulling him off the ladder.  Batman
        lifts him bodily up off the ground by front of his coat.
        He pushes him back against a Gargoyle.

        Joker struggles and the Gargoyle crumbles and Joker
        slips backward.  Joker knows he's a dead man, and he
        smiles.  He grabs for Batman's cowl and grips it as he
        falls.

                                JOKER
                  I saved the last dance for you.
        Both of them tumble down into the endless darkness.

        EXT. CATHEDRAL TOWER - NIGHT

        Two bodies fall in pas de deux.  Joker SCREAMS.  SOUND OF
        WIND RUSHING BY.

        EXT. FALLING POV - NIGHT

        CAMERA FALLS DOWNWARD.  Lights float lazily up AT us from
        the onrushing street below.

        EXT. FALLING - NIGHT - TIGHT

        BATMAN FIRES a hook and a line back up at the roof.

        ON HOOK

        It lands on roof and skitters along looking for a crevice
        to hook on.

        ON JOKER

        He stares back at Batman as he drifts away.  JOKER'S
        LAUGHING ALL THE WAY DOWN.

        ON HOOK

        SKITTERING.

        ON BATMAN

        He spreads his cape, slowing down a bit.

        ON GARGOYLE

        Hook skitters to it and seizes on its grimacing jaws.

        ON JOKER (SLOW MOTION)

        He plummets to earth CRASHING ON CATHEDRAL STEPS.
        LAUGHTER STOPS!

        ON BATMAN (SLOW MOTION)

        HE FALLS, TURNS UPSIDE-DOWN AND STOPS in mid-air.

        Coming to the end of a long tether from the top of the
        tower.  He bounces a bit and hangs upside-down.  Like a
        bat.  A SCREAM fills the air.

        EXT. CHURCH STEPS - OVERHEAD ANGLE

        We're looking DOWN AT the Joker, whose body lies splayed
        and broken on the steps.  We DRIFT DOWNWARD, CLOSER,
        until his FACE FILLS THE SCREEN, his chilling grin still
        intact.

        The Joker's expression is almost childlike, as he stares
        aimlessly at the stars.

The scene from the movie:

Lots of differences especially in dialogue suggesting there was a great deal of improvisation going on. Which ones are the most significant changes?

By the way, one of the few hard copy scripts I’ve saved over the years is the very first version of this project written by Sam Hamm. Excellent as I recall.

Any of you prefer this version of Batman to The Dark Knight? If so, I’d love to hear why.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery”

September 17th, 2014 by

A scene from the 1997 comedy Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, written by Mike Myers.

Plot Summary: A 1960s hipster secret agent is brought out of cryofreeze to oppose his greatest enemy in the 1990s, where his social attitudes are glaringly out of place.

               INT.  THERAPIST'S OFFICE - NEXT DAY

               We're in the middle of a group therapy session, containing 
               six or seven FATHERS with their teenage SONS.  It is 
               emotionally charged.  A lot of pained expressions and coffee 
               in Styrofoam cups.

                                     SON 1
                              (crying)
                         I love you, Dad.

                                     DAD 1
                         I love you, Son.

               They hug.  Everyone APPLAUDS.  We see Dr. Evil and Scott.

                                     THERAPIST
                         That was great, Mr. Keon, Dave.  
                         Thank you.  OK, group, we have two 
                         new members.  Say hello to Scott and 
                         his father, Mr....Ehville?

                                     DR. EVIL
                         Evil, actually, Doctor Evil.

                                     GROUP
                         Hello, Dr. Evil.  Hello, Scott.

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                              (into it)
                         Hello, everybody.

                                     THERAPIST
                         So, Scott, why don't we start with 
                         you.  Why are you here?

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         Well, it's kind of weird.

                                     THERAPIST
                         We don't judge here.

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         OK.  Well, I just really met my Dad 
                         for the first time three days ago.  
                         He was partially frozen for thirty 
                         years.  I never knew him growing up.  
                         He comes back and now he wants me to 
                         take over the family business.

                                     THERAPIST
                         And how do you feel about that?

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         I don't wanna take over the family 
                         business.

                                     DR. EVIL
                         But Scott, who's going to take over 
                         the world when I die?

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         Not me.

                                     THERAPIST
                         What do you want to do, Scott?

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         I don't know.  I was thinking, maybe 
                         I'd be a vet or something, cause I 
                         like animals and stuff.

                                     DR. EVIL
                         An evil vet?

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         No.  Maybe, like, work in a petting 
                         zoo or something.

                                     DR. EVIL
                         An evil petting zoo?

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                              (shouting)
                         You always do that!
                              (calm)
                         Anyways, this is really hard, because, 
                         you know, my Dad is really evil.

                                     THERAPIST
                         We don't label people here, Scott.

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         No, he's really evil.

                                     THERAPIST
                         Scott.

                                     DR. EVIL
                         No, the boy's right.  I really am 
                         evil.

                                     THERAPIST
                         Don't be so hard on yourself.  You're 
                         here, that's what's important.  A 
                         journey of a thousand miles begins 
                         with one step.

                                     SCOTT EVIL
                         I just think, like, he hates me.  I 
                         really think he wants to kill me.

                                     THERAPIST
                         OK, Scott, no one really wants to 
                         "kill" anyone here.  They say it, 
                         but they don't mean it.

               The group LAUGHS.

                                     DR. EVIL
                         Actually, the boy's quite astute.  I 
                         am trying to kill him.  My Evil 
                         Associates have cautioned against 
                         it, so here he is, unfortunately, 
                         alive.

                                     THERAPIST
                         We've heard from Scott, now let's 
                         hear from you.

                                     DR. EVIL
                         The details of my life are quite 
                         inconsequential.

                                     THERAPIST
                         That's not true, Doctor.  Please, 
                         tell us about your childhood.

                                     GROUP
                         Yes, of course.  Go ahead, etc.

                                     DR. EVIL
                         Very well, where should I begin?  My 
                         father was a relentlessly self-
                         improving boulangerie owner from 
                         Belgium with low-grade narcolepsy 
                         and a penchant for buggery.  My mother 
                         was a fifteen-year-old French 
                         prostitute named Chloe with webbed 
                         feet.  My father would womanize, he 
                         would drink, he would make outrageous 
                         claims, like he invented the question 
                         mark.  Sometimes he would accuse 
                         chestnuts of being lazy.  A sort of 
                         general malaise that only the genius 
                         possess and the insane lament.  My 
                         childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, 
                         luge lessons.  In the spring we'd make 
                         meat helmets.  If I was insolent, I was 
                         placed in a burlap bag and beaten with 
                         reeds.  Pretty standard, really.  At the 
                         age of twelve I received my first scribe.  
                         At the age of fifteen, a Zoroastrian named 
                         Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles.  
                         There really is nothing like a shawn 
                         scrotum.  At the age of eighteen, I went 
                         off to evil medical school.  From there...

               ANGLE ON THE THERAPIST AND THE GROUP.  They are stunned.

Here is the scene from the movie:

Not many differences, some additional lines for Dr. Evil and the therapist. Why? Probably to give Mike Myers and Carrie Fisher a bit more flavor within the scene. Interesting to note that Dr. Evil’s long monologue is pretty much delivered by Myers word for word. He probably worked over that speech a long time and liked where it ended up.

Any Austin Powers fans out there?

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.