[Quick Summary: "A private detective is hired by an unloving wife to find her rich drunk husband." *]
I saw this video interview with writer/director Terry George. George recommended:
1) Reading William Goldman's Absolute Power script (which I did; it is faboo!)
2) Getting my grubby paws on anything Goldman's ever written, even unproduced scripts.
Hmmm. I realized then how little I knew of Goldman's lesser known works (to be rectified in the coming weeks.)
So I begin with Harper, Goldman's first produced film.
It's a noir, so I expected violence.
What I didn't expect was it was "good" story violence, i.e., violence that I could justify.
ex. Harper is bound and tied in a shed. A thug keeps watch.
Harper insults him, and gets backhanded. ["Shut up, Harper," I thought.]
"You stink," Harper says. Another backhand. [What are you doing?]
"You're afraid of me." Gut punch. [Shut up NOW.]
The thug pummels Harper into mush. [Pleeease stay down.]
Then the stupid thug unties him and says, "Now try to trick me." [Don't take the bait!]
Harper manages to barely stand.... [Don't do it!]
...and proceeds to trick the thug. [Wow!]
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Here, violence has a defined STORY purpose.
The fight built up the thug's confidence ---> increases the payoff when Harper reverses the situation.
by William Goldman
Adapted from the novel The Moving Target by Ross McDonald
*This is William Goldman's own logline. I couldn't improve on it any better.