a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Great Scene I Love

There's a great scene in MALICE when Bill Pullman, trying to figure out what the hell has happened, has just learned that his wife's mother isn't dead, so he goes to talk to her.

The ultimate point of the whole scene is that Bill Pullman's character finally realizes exactly what is going on, and there are a lot of really ways that the whole sequence could have been written.

MALICE is credited to Aaron Sorkin and Scott Frank, and who's to say who penned the scene (maybe both had a little hand in it), but it's almost the perfect scene.

First of all, Anne Bancroft plays the mother, with a great little Boston accent.

The script starts off with Pullman giving her some scotch; he knows she's a drunk, and he's obviously trying to get the upper hand. She happily drinks some, but it's quickly clear that Pullman is way out of his league.

The authors do a great job layering in exposition (we learn about Nicole Kidman's childhood, her father, her pre-Pullman days) in involving fashion; Pullman pulls info out of her like we want to, while she enjoys giving it to him while still making him work a little for it.

But there's all this other stuff occurring in the screen as well. The best is a magic trick that Bancroft performs throughout the scene, having Pullman pick a card, then shuffle the deck, then trying to get him to bet money on whether or not she's going to know what the card is, all while Pullman is trying to pry more info out of her.

The button on the scene is when she pulls the card from her pocket and throws it at him.

Good writing, good acting, and what could have been a throwaway exposition scene turns into one of the script's most memorable. Bancroft blows so much life into her character that one wishes there were a whole film based around her, and she's only in the movie for about 6 minutes.

Great stuff, the kind that reminds one what we should be looking to do when we write.


At 7:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

no weekend predictions?!?!?

- Allen

At 11:30 PM, Blogger Formerly, The Dude Spoke said...

Kudos for recognizing this scene. Everyone always goes to the "I Am God" scene from that movie, but this little scene really gives the flick some flair. it's good stuff.

At 7:52 PM, Blogger Scribe LA said...

Thanks, Scott. Always neat to see examples of scenes that really work on every level. Scott Frank is one of my faves. I consistently go back to the script Out of Sight when I want to see how the big boys write.


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