Monday, January 21, 2013

Countdown to PARKER

Okay, I'm back!

After returning from the holidays I got swamped with a pile of things - and pulled a muscle in my back. Oh, and it was (literally) freezing cold in Los Angeles... which makes me want to stay in bed and watch movies and drink cocoa. The main thing I did was see HOW DO YOU WRITE A JOE SCHERMANN SONG (winner at Raindance) again at a cinema just down the street from me - Los Angeles Premiere. Director Gary King and uber-cute star Christina Rose and that actor who made me cry twice with his performance Mark DiConzo and composer Ken Lampl flew in from New York and did Q&A afterwards, then we all went across the street to the Federal Bar. Oh, Victoria Westcott producer of TRAPPED IN A GARAGE BAND also showed up... from Canada. I rode my bike, she probably flew (though I once drove to Vancouver - so that's possible). The movie was great the second time around, and it was great to meet Mark (who wasn't in London for Raindance). A few days later my parents blew through town... and I've been trying to get this Act Two Blue Book finished...

My New Year's Resolution was to write more blog entries - and so far I seem to have failed. But I promise some new stuff is coming - including some new Fridays With Hitchcocks... I hope to finish them off this year and start on something new.

But Friday, a new film comes out... PARKER starring Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez and directed by *Taylor Hackford*. Oh, and based on a book by my favorite writer, Don Westlake (in his Richard Stark disguise). This is *not* a filmed update of PARKER LEWIS CAN'T LOSE, it's a crime drama from the same series as POINT BLANK with Lee Marvin. So, I'm excited by that.

In the planning stages is the First Ten Pages Blue Book, and one of the new articles is going to be about the first *sentence* in your screenplay. The Parker novels always began with a great first sentence... so here they are:


Hunter (1962): "When a fresh-faced guy in a Chevy offered him a lift, Parker told him to go to hell."

The Man With the Getaway Face (1963): "When the bandages came off, Parker looked in the mirror at a stranger."

The Outfit (1963): "When the woman screamed, Parker awoke and rolled off the bed."

The Mourner (1963): "When the guy with the asthma finally came in from the fire escape, Parker rabbit-punched him and took his gun away."

The Score (1964): "When the bellboy left, Parker went over to the house phone and made his call."

The Jugger (1965): "When the knock came at the door, Parker was just turning to the obituary page."

The Handle (1966): "When the engine stopped, Parker came up on deck for a look around."

The Seventh (1966): "When he didn't get any answer the second time he knocked, Parker kicked the door in."

The Rare Coin Score (1967): "Parker spent two weeks on the white sand beach at Biloxi, and on a white sandy bitch named Belle, but he was restless, and one day without thinking about it he checked out and sent a forwarding address to Handy McKay and moved on to New Orleans."

The Green Eagle Score (1967): "Parker looked in at the beach and there was a guy in a black suit standing there, surrounded by all the bodies in bathing suits."

The Black Ice Score (1968): "Parker walked into his hotel room, and there was a guy in there going through his suitcase laid out on his bed."

The Sour Lemon Score (1969): "Parker put the revolver away and looked out the windshield."

Deadly Edge (1971): "Up here, the music was just a throbbing under the feet, a distant pulse."

Slayground (1971): "Parker jumped out of the Ford with a gun in one hand and the packet of explosive in the other."

Plunder Squad (1972): "Hearing the click behind him, Parker threw his glass straight back over his right shoulder, and dove off his chair to the left."

Butcher's Moon (1974): "Running toward the light, Parker fired twice over his left shoulder, not caring whether he hit anything or not."

Child Heist (1974) (a Parker book they read in the Dortmunder novel Jimmy the Kid): "When the guard came to open the cell door, Parker said to the big man named Krauss, 'Come see me next week when you get out.'"

Comeback (1997): "When the angel opened the door, Parker stepped first past the threshold into the darkness of the cinder block corridor beneath the stage."

Backflash (1998): "When the car stopped rolling, Parker kicked out the rest of the windshield and crawled through onto the wrinkled hood, Glock first."

Flashfire (2000): "When the dashboard clock read 2:40, Parker drove out of the drugstore parking lot and across the sunlit road to the convenience store/gas station."

Firebreak (2001): "When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man."

Breakout (2002) : "When the alarm went off, Parker and Armiston were far to the rear of the warehouse, Armiston with the clipboard, checking off the boxes they'd want."

Nobody Runs Forever (2004): "When he saw that the one called Harbin was wearing a wire, Parker said, 'Deal me out a hand,' and got to his feet."

Ask the Parrot (2006): "When the helicopter swept northward and lifted out of sight over the top of the hill, Parker stepped away from the tree he'd waited beside and continued his climb."

Dirty Money (2008): "When the silver Toyota Avalon bumped down the dirt road out of the woods and across the railroad tracks, Parker put the Infiniti into low and stepped out onto the gravel."

Great stuff, huh? PARKER is based on the novel Flashfire, where Parker pulls a robbery with a crew he has never worked with before... then gets stiffed when they tell him this robbery was just to get the money to do the next robbery... and they need his share. So, Parker pulls a string of small robberies to make enough money to go after these guys to get the money they owe him. In the book (though - it doesn't look like they're doing this in the movie) Parker has to play a role as a trust fund idiot in order to blend into Palm Beach society... which is great fun in the book, since this is the opposite of Parker's personality.

One of the great things about the Parker books is that they are all armed robberies, and all completely different. Probably four or five deal with armored car robberies - and each is done differently and has a completely different story. How Westlake could take the same situation and find an original way to do it again and again is a great example of creativity and originality. Could you come up with five *completely different* ways to rob a bank?

- Bill

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Sundance Film Fest & Indie Films
Yesterday’s Dinner: Carnitas burrito @ Chipotle, black beans, brown rice.
Pages: Working on the Act Two Blue Book!

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