Monday, August 12, 2013

TODAY'S NUGGET: Remember the Night (1940) - Minor Characters Aren't Small Parts

[Quick Summary: A prosecutor takes a female defendant to his hometown during Christmas break.]

You should know (if you didn't already):

1) Sturges writes brilliant minor characters. 
2) He doesn't waste any of them.

 ex. After the prosecutor (Sargent) sleeps in a field, he's brought to a judge for trespassing.

"SARGENT (very amiably): Good morning, Your Honor, I'm afraid there's been a little misunderstanding here all around. This gentleman... (He indicates the owner).....found my car parked in his field and naturally came to the conclusion.....

THE JUSTICE (interrupting): What's the charge, Hank?

THE OWNER: Trespass on posted property, wanton destruction of fence and petty larceny.

SARGENT (indignantly): That's a ga....

THE JUSTICE (interrupting): What'd they steal?

THE OWNER: They were milking one of my cows when I caught them."

Note how funny and well-rounded they are:
- The judge interrupts with confidence. He's in charge here.
- The owner isn't afraid to speak up. He's a complaining comic relief.

Also note how they move the story forward:
-  The judge treats Sargent (who is a lawyer) as a potential criminal.  He turns Sargent's world upside down.
-  The owner's accusations push Sargent and the defendant closer and work as a team.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I often forget to fully flesh out minor characters.  No more.

Remember the Night (1940)
by Preston Sturges

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