Monday, December 28, 2015

TODAY'S NUGGET: The Night of the Hunter (1955) - Menance; Rooting for a Protagonist; Upping the Ante

[Quick Summary: A thief only marries a widow only to get to her children, who know where stolen money is hidden.]

Dear Thriller Writers Everywhere,

If you've ever had trouble with writing menace...
If you want to write a protagonist we continue to root for...
If you've never seen a story that ups the ante, with thrills, without blood...

I highly recommend that you read this script.

- Menace

ex. "INSERT - THE PREACHER'S LEFT HAND

Labled H-A-T-E in tattoo across four knuckles, it grips and flexes.

INSERT - HIS RIGHT HAND

Before we see the lettering he slides it into his pocket.

EXTREME CLOSE SHOT - PREACHER

His head slants; a cold smile; one eyelid flutters."

- A protagonist we continue to root for

ex. "CLOSE DOWNWARD TWO-SHOT - JOHN AND PEARL HARPER

They sit in the grass, a sentimental picture. JOHN is nine; PEARL is five. They are working togheter on PEARL's doll; PEARL is dressing her, while JOHN gets on a difficult shoe.

PEARL: Stand still, Miss Jenny!

JOHN (across her): There! What's so hard about that!

He proudly exhibits the shod foot.

They hear the sound of an auto engine O.S.  They look O.S.  and get up, PEARL dangling the doll."

- Upping the ante

ex. "CLOSE SHOT - RACHEL

She takes him in. He doesn't take her in."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Scripts of this era are more restrained, yet more fleshed out, than today's scripts.

I think the constrictions of this era are better for story, i.e., What do you do when there's no fast solution (guns, explosives, etc.)?

The Night of the Hunter (1955)
by James Agee
Based on a novel by Davis Grubb

No comments: