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Screenplays

BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS

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This is a PDF scan of Roger Ebert’s 1970 screenplay for “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls”, the cult classic that was directed by Russ Meyer. It is personally annotated by Meyer in the margins.

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Screenplays

FILM AS A SUBVERSIVE ART

filmsubversive

About a decade ago, for my original “Subterranean Cinema” site, I created an internet version of the classic Amos Vogel book, “Film as a Subversive Art”, with scans of the many images in it. A few years ago, I located a site online with a PDF version of my adaption that someone had created! It is also available thru Bittorrent, but you can read it directly here on Scribd.

Categories
Screenplays

ROLLING THUNDER

rollingthunder

“Rolling Thunder” (1977) is a cult classic, directed by John Flynn, and starring William Devane (Major Charles Rane) and Tommy Lee Jones (Sergeant Johnny Vohden) as two POWs who return home after enduring several long years of horrific captivity and relentless torture in a North Vietnamese prison camp.

When Rane’s wife and child are murdered by a group of thugs in a home invasion robbery (which also costs him one of his hands that he has replaced with a stainless steel hook), he tracks them down and, with the help of Vohden, he carries a murderous rampage of revenge against them in a seedy Mexican brothel.

The original screenplay was written by Paul Schrader, with a violent ending that was obviously influenced by the final scenes of “Taxi Driver”. Bickle even makes a tongue-in-cheek cameo appearance in this script, watching a porno film at a drive in!

Intended as a “metaphor for the American racism in Vietnam”, the Schrader version was (in the author’s words) about “a Texas trash racist who had become a war hero without ever having fired a gun”, and it ended not only with Rane killing dozens of Mexicans (guilty and innocent), but also with his own death.

These elements were changed by the filmmakers and screenwriter Heywood Gould, without any participation by Schrader, and he strongly disapproved of the final film.

Quentin Tarantino has said that “Rolling Thunder” is his alltime favorite movie.  He even named his distribution company after it.

Schrader’s original script for “Taxi Driver”

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Screenplays

EL TOPO

eltopobf

This is a PDF version of a web adaption of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “El Topo – A Book of the Film” that I created for my original “Subterranean Cinema” website, with the complete text of the book + scans of every image contained in it. Included at the end is my transcription of a 1970 Penthouse interview with Jodorowsky. His footnoted interpretations of the film are sprinkled throughout the narrative, in brackets and red print.

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Screenplays

BEING HUMAN

beinghuman

In the tragic history of maltreated cinema, there are few example worse than the 1994 film “Being Human” created by Bill Forsyth,   the director of “Gregory’s Girl” and “Local Hero”, who wrote a fantastic screenplay about the gentle soul of a simple man’s journey thru the ages, seeking happiness, love, and peace.

Unfortunately, the vapid suits at Warner Brothers (already infamous in my eyes for their quashing of George Romero’s “The Stand”, the screenplay of which is also available for viewing on this site) didn’t understand his vision, and so they forced him to slash over 40 minutes from the film, and to add one of the worst narration tracks ever (by Theresa Russell) in a pathetic attempt to help the audience understand what they felt was an overly confusing storyline that took place in an incoherent timeline.

This totally ruined the theatrical print of the film: it’s like having a mentally unbalanced woman sitting next to you in the theatre, talking happily back to the screen, until you want to take your popcorn box and shove it down her throat to shut her up.

Forsyth disowned the film, which got universally negative reviews, and with the exception of an unfortunate attempt at a “sequel” to “Gregory’s Girl” in 1999, he has never created another film due to his deep disillusionment.

Fortunately, the original screenplay still exists, and here it is.

This is a brilliant “fan edit” created by Stephen Dorian Kutos, which removes all of the terrible narration from the soundtrack, bringing the film much closer to Forsyth’s original vision, and it improves the film’s overall quality immeasurably.

BEING HUMAN – FAN EDIT / REDUX

Categories
Screenplays

ATUK

kinisonatuk

This is one of the most infamous scripts in the history of Hollywood. I think that it’s a very funny screenplay that might have been a good vehicle for Sam Kinison, who it was obviously adapted for in this draft (numerous cries of “Oh! Oh!”).

The script is infamous for allegedly being “cursed”, and partly responsible for the deaths of several major comedic actors in the 1980s and 1990s.  The “Atuk Curse” has become one of the better known “urban legends” in Hollywood over the last few decades. 

It’s first victim was said to be John Belushi, who had read the script and was reportedly enthusiastic about taking on the role of Atuk in 1982.  Shortly after, he was dead of a drug overdose.

Years later, the part was offered to Kinison, who accepted it in 1988. This is the final shooting script, which was used on the first (and last) day of shooting on the film.  Christopher Walken and Ben Affleck were also scheduled to be appearing in it.

Kinison actually got into an Eskimo costume and filmed at least one scene, before he grew dissatisfied with the script and angrily demanded that parts of it be re-written on the spot, halting production.  Then he left the set in disgust, refusing to return.

The production company filed a breach of contract lawsuit against him, which was a large part of what made him so financially destitute when it was settled a couple of years later.  Not long after that, while talks were underway for him to continue the project and finish the film, Kinison died in a shocking car crash in the arid and remote Nevada desert.

The “curse” struck again in 1994 when John Candy, who had been approached for the role of Atuk, was rumored to have actually been reading the script when he died of a heart attack on March 4th, the day before the 12th anniversary of Belushi’s death.

It was around this point in the production’s history that the press began to speak of a “curse”. Some believe that the curse struck twice that year, since in November, Michael O’Donoghue died of a cerebral hemorrhage.  O’Donoghue was a writer / comedian who was also a friend of Belushi and Kinison and, the story goes, had read the script (in some version of the tale they even worked on it together) before recommending it to the both of them.

The final victim of the “curse” was said to be Chris Farley, who idolized John Belushi.  Like his idol, he was up for the role of Atuk, and he was allegedly about to accept it when, also like his idol, he suddenly died of a drug overdose in December of 1997. 

According to some versions, the curse would strike twice more: six months later in May 1998, when Farley’s friend and former SNL cast-mate, Phil Hartman was murdered by his wife. Farley is said to have shown the “Atuk” script to Hartman, before his death, and was encouraging him to take a co-starring role.

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Screenplays

THE PASSION OF ANDY KAUFMAN

andyslap

I created this “fan tribute film” in 2006.

“The Passion of Andy Kaufman” has achieved something of a “cult” reputation on the internet in the subsequent years.

It is “Andy’s Greatest Hits”.

Produced by Alan Graham and Roman Wilderness Productions, here is “The Passion of Andy Kaufman”, free for all.

THE PASSION OF ANDY KAUFMAN

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Sounds

SORCERER

sorcerer11.jpg“Hymns/Spheres” is an album by pianist Keith Jarrett that was released in 1976 on the ECM label, which was recorded at the Benedictine Abbey in Ottobeuren, Germany. This solo album consists of hauntingly surreal and eerie improvisations on the massive Karl Joseph Riepp “Trinity” Baroque pipe organ.

The 3rd movement was used in William Friedkin’s “Sorcerer”.

It was NOT included on the film’s official soundtrack, which was made up exclusively of Tangerine Dream tracks. However, it was probably the single most memorable piece of music in the film. 

This is an edit of it that I created.

Sorcerospheres

The original Walon Green screenplay, with many scenes and long dialogue passages that didnt make it to the final print.

The very rare (and excellent) 1977 novelization by John Minahan.

https://www.scribd.com/document/520410981/Sorcerer-John-Minahan

Categories
Screenplays

NOBLE ROT

If you have ever read “Wired”, Bob Woodward’s compelling (and very controversial) biography of John Belushi, then you are no doubt aware that Belushi was attempting to write a screenplay called “Noble Rot” with Don Novello (most famous for his Saturday Night Live portrayal of “Father Guido Sarducci”). I am a fan of that book, I have read it many times over the years and decades, and I have always wondered about the screenplay.

By early 1982, Belushi’s notorious drug habits had worsened significantly – to the point where, even in the era of carefree recreational usage, there was no denying he was out of control. Feeling his career had already peaked and there was nowhere to go but down, Belushi decided to take the creation of his next film into his own hands. Despite the fact that he was not a writer, he teamed up with Novello to reconfigure an existing movie script called “Sweet Deception” (written by Jay Sandrich) into “Noble Rot”, a comedy about winemaking. Together with Novello, Belushi spent nearly a year tweaking the plot and reduxing the entire script to fit his wacky and madcap onscreen style.

It was a romantic comedy/adventure about a young, unsophisticated guy named Johnny Glorioso, who takes an elite new California wine to a New York wine tasting contest (the wine has a much desired and very rare fungus named Botrytis or “noble rot” of the film’s title, that can either destroy an entire crop or turn it into a legendary smooth and sweet wine), falls in love with a very untrustworthy but sexually desirable young woman named Christine (who is responsible for the multiple thefts of his beloved few wine samples for the competition), becomes involved with a diamond smuggling ring, and maybe grows up a little and loses his naivete in the process, while getting the last laugh in the kind of final scene that audiences loved seeing Belushi have. Belushi considered it the role he was born to play, and he became obsessed with getting it produced.

However, Paramount Pictures (the studio that would potentially be producing “Noble Rot”, headed at that time by Michael Eisner) was unimpressed with the script, and was instead pushing Belushi to star in a sophomoric comedy based on the popular book, “The Joy of Sex”, to be directed by Penny Marshall of “Laverne and Shirley” fame, from a script by John Hughes. Belushi hated it. (It was a totally different version than the one created by director Martha Coolidge years later).

Meanwhile, Aykroyd had also intended for Belushi to star in the supernatural comedy, “Ghostbusters”, which he was co-scripting with Harold Ramis. By this time, Belushi was heavily into punk rock (especially the raw L.A. punk band FEAR, who’s members he was hanging around with at the time, and who had an infamously subversive Saturday Night Live appearance at Belushi’s belligerent insistence) – to the point of alienating friends who would not listen to it and didn’t appreciate his overbearing insistence that it was brilliant. Belushi moved out to Hollywood to continue writing the film with Novello, feeling it had a good chance to restore his waning cinematic mojo.

Holed up in a bungalow at the Chateau Marmont hotel (located on the Sunset Strip), Belushi hit the L.A. party scene more intensely than ever before – which, not surprisingly, resulted in a frustrated Novello usually having to write and revise the script alone while John was MIA on a drug binge. At the same time, Paramount made it known that the “Noble Rot” drafts they were seeing were unacceptable to them. Feeling the pinch, Belushi put himself into overdrive and let go of the controls, diving into unrestrained excesses. During the nights spent scoring drugs and partying till dawn on the Sunset Strip at such clubs as the Roxy and the Rainbow, Belushi met a former backup singer (and girlfriend of Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot) named Cathy Smith. Smith, a sleazy junkie, introduced Belushi to the next step on the chemical ladder: heroin. Always afraid of needles and knowing that heroin was the point-of-no-return, Belushi still began experimenting with the dangerous opiate, combining it with cocaine into the ultra-rush “speedball”. With Aykroyd secretly planning a flight to the West Coast to bring his troubled friend back home, Belushi began a non-stop three-day binge.

On March 5, 1982, after Hollywood pals Robin Williams and Robert De Niro left his bungalow in the early morning hours, Smith administered the umpteenth speedball to Belushi. In the morning, allegedly seeing him still snoring and alive, she took his car and left to run errands. Later in the morning while she was gone, Belushi’s personal trainer, Bill Wallace, showed up to rouse his friend to do a work out; instead, he discovered that Belushi was not breathing. After frantically applying CPR and summoning medical help, Wallace knew it was too late for Aykroyd to help his doomed friend. John Belushi was dead, and Johnny Glorioso would never come to life on the big screen.

Though it was definitely not finished by any means (and some parts of it are obviously rushed and confused), this is not nearly as bad as the reputation that has dogged this final project of Belushi for decades. With some more re-writing, (this draft is dated two months before Belushi’s death and the team’s frantic last minute re-write attempts in the days leading up to Belushi’s death), this might have ended up as a rather witty and sophisticated light comedy, and Belushi’s improvisations during many of the scenes could have ended up as much more than appears on the page (as is often the case with rough draft screenplays). Once again, this is a case of a script and a concept that never really got a fair shake from the producers, and that is largely what frustrated Belushi into doing that final, fatal binge. 

Categories
Screenplays

THE TONY CLIFTON STORY

tony-clifton-and-andy-kaufman-at-carnegie-hall

A screenplay by Andy Kaufman and Bob Zmuda, about the venemous conflict between Andy and his brash alter ego, the subversively uncouth and politically incorrect Tony Clifton.

The screenplay contains many of Andy’s classic stand-up routines, and several moments that will cause you to literally laugh out loud, like the “Hunchback” premiere, the Jerry Lewis-inspired White House visit, and the mention of a statue of Tony pouring a glass of water on the head of a certain statue …

There are also moments that are rather touching: Tony’s deep love for a hooker with a heart of gold, Andy’s yearning for a little girl that he had a crush on as a boy … and then there is the chilling moment when film “breaks the fourth wall” and the camera pulls back to reveal Andy, who tells the audience that Clifton died of lung cancer at Cedar Sinai Hospital … which turned out to be the exact scenario that would actually befall Andy, just a few years later. This is what sparked off the bizarre “hoax” rumors that he might have faked his own death.