Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TODAY'S NUGGET: 48 Hours (1982) - Humor in Action

[Quick Summary: A cop teams up with one criminal for 48 hours in order to track down another criminal on the run.]

I remember this film was huge in 1982.

People couldn't stop talking about it and laughing.

How do you insert humor into an action script?  It's not as easy as joke-joke-joke.

I'm no expert on comedy, but after reading this script, I do know high stakes help.

For example, in the scene below, Cates has just revealed Ganz (common antagonist for Cates and Hammond) is out of prison.

The stakes are high for Cates. Hammond is his last lead.

The stakes are also high for Hammond.  He wants something on the outside.

ex.  [Cates] turns, goes out [of Hammond's cell].
The door clangs behind him.
Hammond jumps up and bangs on the bars, shouts at Cates' back...

HAMMOND: Cates! Come back here!

Cates turns, saunters back, leans against the door.

CATES: Yeah?
HAMMOND: I can deliver Ganz. On a plate. But you gotta get me outta here first.
CATES: Bullshit.
HAMMOND: You heard me. Get me a furlough...a pass. There's ways...sick mother, national emergency...
CATES: You're crazy.
HAMMOND: It's the only way I'm gonna help. Get me out.
CATES: What's so important about you gettin' out?
HAMMOND: Who said it was important?

I like that the scene never stops for the comedy.

Both sides desperately need each other, and are pretending they do not.

Somehow that's ironic, funny and still moves us forward, all in one.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Keep the stakes high. It will help the comedy.

48 Hours
by Walter Hill & Larry Gross

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