Monday, April 30, 2012

TODAY'S NUGGET: Bugsy (1991) - Three is Not a Crowd

[Quick Summary: Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel tries to build the first big casino in Las Vegas, but as costs skyrocket, his mafia financiers put the screws on him.]

I was intrigued how Toback applied "Warren Beatty's Third Intelligence Theory"* over & over to scenes.

The tension grows because there are three people instead of two.

ex. Harry Greenberg, one of Bugsy's oldest friends, has ratted on the "family" and asks Bugsy what to do.

Bugsy takes Harry for a drive, and Virginia insists on going too. [The triangle in this scene is Bugsy, Virginia, & Harry.]

In the car, Harry brings up Virginia's ex-boyfriend and Bugsy's divorce. [Ignorant Harry makes things worse.]

At the train trestle road, Bugsy and Harry walk up a path.Virginia gets impatient and yells to Bugsy.  [Virginia ups the tension now.]

Shots. Bugsy returns without Harry.  Virginia is distraught. [The tension now is HIGHER than before.]

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: A 3rd person can really push the main story forward.

Bugsy (1991)
by James Toback

* Toback writes about "Beatty's Third Intelligence Theory of Moviemaking" in the introduction to the script:

"Essentially, the idea is that three people deciding the course of a movie are better than two, since when there are two, one always emerges as the stronger and the film is left without a sufficiently tense dialectic, whereas when there are three, every idea needs to pass rigorous scrutiny."

Toback was talking about himself, Beatty and director Barry Levinson, but it can also apply to screenwriting.

** This is a very smooth read after
- 20 drafts (over 6 yrs.)
- 7 rewrites (in 4 months of pre-production), &amp
- daily re-writing of lines, moments and scenes daily (over 3 months of shooting)

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