Friday

Week 12: Text: TRANSCRIPT OF WIRE-TAPPED CONVERSATION BETWEEN PRODUCER STANLEY GOOCH AND DIRECTOR CHARLES TILLMAN

Ringing Tone. Receiver picks up. Sound of peanuts crunching in receiver’s mouth.
CT: Charlie Tillman. What do you want? (pause) Come on, bub, I’m a busy guy. State your business. (Pause) Stan? Stan, you fat bastard. I can hear you wheezing. Why’d you call if you weren’t going to say nothing?
SG: Ah, hi Charlie.
CT: You know, Stan, for a producer, you make one hell of a radio announcer. No dead air with you. No sir. Just both barrels blazing. Stan? Jesus, did somebody die? Oh shit. Did somebody die? Hey, I’m sorry Stan. I didn’t mean to be so…
SG: Shut up Charlie. It’s your film. Time is a Thief. That's what's in terminal condition.
Pause. Chewing ceases.
CT: I ain’t even finished cutting, Stan.
SG: I know. And everything you’ve sent me has been fantastic. The poker scenes are dynamite. Some of the best directing I ever seen. Groundbreaking stuff kid, really. Maybe just a little ahead of its time.
CT: Ahead of... Don't bullshit me, Stan. It’s the investors, ain’t it? Those lousy coots have lost their nerve.
SG: Well, what did you expect? Wall Street only crashed three months ago and you go make a movie about the evils of stock market speculation.
CT: They knew that when they first came on board.
SG: No, they thought they were getting into a supernatural mystery. That’s how we sold it to them. We told them all about the club, the poker games with the Devil where people staked years of their lives in exchange for youth, wealth and power. They loved that. But what you didn’t tell them was that these characters had lost everything they owned in the stock market crash of ’29. They’re left with nothing but their lives and they're so crazy with greed they’re willing to risk them to get rich again. And they sure as hell didn’t know that when these characters, these dramatic personations of their very own predicament, lose all the years they have left to them on a single bet they fall dead at the table. It’s spooked them, Charlie. Some of them left the screening in tears.
CT: You seem to have found your voice there Stan.
SG: All I’ve been doing today is talking, trying to save your picture.

CT: Have you told them that two thirds of the country are out of a job and on the street and got nothing better to do than cue up and pay to watch a picture in which the Wall Street finks that did ‘em over get what’s coming to ‘em? This film that so offends their delicate constitutions is gonna make ‘em rich again.
SG: Not in so many words, but yeah, I told them. But that don’t seem to matter, kid. You’ve struck a nerve and you’ve got to unstrike it. And I think I’ve found a way.
CT: Don’t you say it, Stanley. Do not even begin to tell me how to finish my picture.
SG: If you don’t listen you won’t have a picture to finish. You do not want to go up against these people, Chuck. They got friends, see? Serious friends that look out for their interests.
CT: Yeah well they ain’t half as serious as my friend, Thomas Jefferson. He’s packing the First Amendment?
SG: Calm down, Chuck. Just hear me out. The story is great. It’s genius. At the table the Devil’s the dealer. OK. That guy with the loops in his ears is brilliant, by the way.
CT: I’ll arrange an introduction, you big queer.
SG: Anyway, he’s also like a medium, yeah?
CT: Yeah, kinda. He's the DELETED Devil.
SG: Right, and the game’s like a séance, all the players are linked psychically. So when people lose a hand, the guy who wins the years they bet is charged up with the memories that the losers would have made if they'd lived their full allotment of time on earth. So far so good. Those little flashes that you cut to of all the different experiences the winner of each hand receives. Kid, they're beautiful.
CT: Yeah? But?
SG: But when a player bets all the years he’s got left to him, loses and dies, you show the death he had coming to him.
CT: So?
SG: So the penultimate scene when everyone goes all in is a DELETED massacre. It’s a horror house. One cut away after another to brutal deaths. Car accidents. Murders. Suicides. What? None of these people were gonna die of a stroke bouncing their grandson on their knee? None of them slip away peacefully in the night?
CT: Boring. They had it coming to 'em. They ain't gettin' off so light. I ain’t changing nothing.
SG: Just think about it. And, well maybe you could change the ending a little.
CT: The girl wins it all, Stan. She wins or I walk.
SG: Well sure she wins, Chuck. But here’s an idea. One of the money men’s wives came up with this.
CT: Perfect.
SG: What if, instead of her winning it all and jumping in a stretch limousine with the Devil, she sees all the memories that she’s gained from these poor dead suckers, gets a crisis of conscience and goes all in on their behalf, to restore to them their lives. You know, like a girl Christ.
CT: So the girl from the gutter, who’s had to clean up the shit of the rich all her life, who’s a million times smarter and gutsier than them, beats them at their own game but out of sympathy for them gives it all back? Screw you, Stan. And screw all you top hat bums listening in!
Receiver clicks. SG sighs.
SG: Well friends, I tried. I told you he wouldn't buy it.

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