Monday, September 7, 2015

TODAY'S NUGGET: Hudsucker Proxy (1994) - What Slapstick Looks Like on the Page

[Quick Summary: The Hudsucker Board hires a well meaning college graduate to run the company into the ground and drive down stock prices.]

This is what slapstick looks like on the page:

1) It will be longer than you think.
2) It needs to be more descriptive than you think (audience needs to see both actions & reactions).

ex. "Findlandsen raises his hand to look quizzically at Norville's handkerchief which he now holds himself, apparently having been given it during the handshake. [Action]

He hands it back to Norville.

NORVILLE: Thank you, sir...

He stuffs it nervouly into his outside breast pocket as Findlandsen stares at him. [Reaction] Mussburger stands watching him in the executive at-ease, hands dug into his pockets.

NORVILLE: ...I understand your concern about the down-ward you know, but I think you'll find under our strong new leadership...

As Norville's hand drops from his breast pocket the handkerchief, perhaps caught on his sleeve, whips out of the pocket and follows his hand down. [Action]

Findlandsen looks down and Norville follows his look, and stoops BELOW FRAME to retrieve the hanky. [Reaction]

Findlandsen leans quizzically forward and peers down at Norville, who continues, O.S. [Action]

NORVILLE (O.S.): We anticipate, in short order, an upward...

In rapid fire, Norville straightens up into -- crunch -- Findlandsen, whose head snaps back, eyes rolling, a hand pressed to his nose, drink sloshing [Reaction]; Norville, on hand pressed to the back of his own head and the other wildly waving his hanky for balance, takes a staggering step forward onto the toe of an elegantly-gowned MRS. FINDLANDSEN. [Action]

MRS. FINDLANDSEN: Ahhh!"[Reaction]

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Slapstick takes a bit of time to describe on the page.

Don't freak out (like me) if there's not a whole lot of white space.

Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

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