Sunday, November 21, 2010

Scenes from a Pedantic Hard-Boiled Novel


Exiled pedagogue Matthew Ward once proposed a two-fisted actionfest to the BBC, based on the sort of wish-fulfilment even Robert Fisk enjoys. His synopsis ran thus:

"TEFL teacher in Latin America joins the Cymru Rouge, rises through the ranks and is eventually sent as ambassador to Rutheria with his Ukrainian spouse, where he gets involved in cachaça-induced japes and sinister episodes of physical and mental torture. Maybe Timothy Spall would take the lead? I imagine a twenty-first century Citizen Smith meets Zorra Total."

My response as his agent was to aim higher and sketch out a trailer:

Sod the BBC, that's got Hollywood treatment written all over it:

"(Rumbling Voice, over Rio scenes): Far from the Copacabana (cut to snaggle-toothed peasant riding a goat in a top hat) deep in the forests of Ruthenia, there's monkey juice that needs drinking (close-up of cachaça bottle slamming down on a table surrounded by sweaty men in ill-fitting uniforms).

"And here's the mouth that's going to do it (crash-zoom from across a cellar deep into the throat of a screaming man tied to a Medieval dentist's chair).

"(Clanging noise over smoky screen, with male silhouette slowly emerging) Sean Penn is MC Ward.

"(Unhinged woman, stomping towards camera) Helen Lederer is his made-up scary Ukrainian wife who's nothing at all like Mrs Boyo.

"(Gurning thugs yell in close-up) Keith Allen, Ray Winstone and Ralph Brown are the population of Ruthenia, in..."


I took my 12% and, at Madame Boyo's Hegelian insistence, let The Dialectic do the rest.

Three years later to the day, I've come up with the High Concept.

What makes Matt Ward different to other sheath-rending action heroes?

  • Eastwood is carved from teak
  • Jack Bauer is Dick Cheney in a wig
  • Monk is a mental

So what's Ward? Why, he's a middle-aged English teacher. So let's work his innate pedantry into the script. There's an untapped audience of librarians, Liberal (not Liberal Democrat) Party activists, jazz afficionadoes and mildly autistic teenagers to tap.

So here's some sample dialogue:

(LA police precinct, a uniformed cop hustles the standard pair of remonstrating whores past an office where some sweaty men in bad suits are discussing their new boss)

Detective 1: So, what's this Ward guy like?

Detective 2: Lootenant Ward's the kinda sonofabitch who'll rip off your prick and shove it up your ass.

Detective 1: Holy Shit!

Ward (striding through the door in horn-rims and elbow-patches): Correction, gentlemen. I am indeed the kind of son of a bitch who'll rip off your prick and shove it up your ass. But then I'd notice that the prick in question had become flaccid from loss of blood, and therefore impossible to shove up any ass without assistance. So I'd take a stick, and I'd use it to work your prick up your ass. I'd take a prick-sticking stick to stick your prick up your ass - capeesh?

Detectives: Sir!

Will there be more in the next three years? Like the French Revolution, with me it's always too soon to say.





69 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

From the prissy, affected way he talks, I would guess that Ward is a closet masochist. When it comes to the crunch he'll be more Bound than Bond.

Joe MacFarlane. said...

My screenplay "The Koala that ate Queensland" is far superior. In it, a marsupial that has become radiocative starts to destroy (cont p.9). The denouement, dealing with the stomping to death of Davina McCall has been called masterful.

No Good Boyo said...

GB, I would remind you that Ward is a Welsh and therefore defines masochism. He even signs in a choir, even though as an expat it's not compulsory. There's no closet about that man.

You follow in a noble line of B movies, there, Joe, and could win an award from the Broadcasting Standards Agency is that denouement is ever filmed. My favourite of the genre "Mant". Check it one time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y2Lbhwl23M

Anonymous said...

http://www.economist.com/node/17527250?story_id=17527250

If that's blocked:

Polls suggest that most Venezuelans disapprove of the nationalisations and firmly support private property. But Mr Chávez seems to be following the advice of Alan Woods, a Welsh Trotskyist who has become an informal adviser. Mr Woods, who is better known in Caracas than Cardiff, publicly urged the president to respond to his electoral setback by “accelerating the revolutionary process”, expropriating land, banks and the main industries. Venezuelans had better brace themselves for more nationalisation, scarcity and economic decline.

I thought our Cymru Rouge cadres required anomynity...bring him home and boil him in oil...

Dewi

No Good Boyo said...

Dewi, sometimes it's better to hide in full view, as they say. Welsh Trot, eh - I wonder whether he was at the GLC. It used to be a magnet for Cambrian wreckers. Remember Illtyd Harrington?

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Just a heads-up (to be totally authentic for Hollywood): librarians of today are different of what you are used to. The more blood, spilled guts and eyes (in the soup tureen, of course), the merrier. Don't skimp on gore, please.

Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop said...

So we have a psychotic, Trotskyite Welsh librarian inciting revolution in Caracas. Hugh Grant plays a foppish English agent sent by imperial interests to investigate, but ends up disembowelled in the backstreets of the barrios. No need for any more plot - most viewers will leave, happy enough at having seen Hugh Grant disembowelled.

Gaw said...

Illtyd Harrington, London Welsh revolutionary politician and inventor of the eponymous jacket, can still be found doing book reviews for the Islington Gazette. I suspect, Boyo, that this won't come as a surprise.

BTW I learnt the other day that my local Italian deli used to be a Welsh dairy, run by a Mr and Mrs Philips. Progress, innit?

No Good Boyo said...

I appreciate the comment on bloodthirsty librarians, Snoop, having been one myself. A particularly happy moment came when I saw a demure lady from the music section of Reading Central Library strolling into the Murder One crime bookshop on Charing Cross Rd with a blissful expression on her alabaster face.

Pop, you're right about Grant's type of pulling power. The father of an ex-girlfriend got Titantic on DVD for Christmas. He fast-forwarded to the end, watched Leonardo drown, grunted with satisfaction and put it away.

Welsh dairies were all the rage once, Gaw, rather like crack houses nowadays. You couldn't move for them in Soho before the war. I like to think their owners made tidy profits selling the premises to knocking shops before retiring to lives of pious Calvinism in Carmarthenshire.

Ron Combo said...

OK, this is all very well, but is it the goat wearing the top hat or the snaggle-toothed peasant? I do rather hope it's the former.

No Good Boyo said...

Definitely the goat, Ron. Ukraine does not allow peasants to wear their masters' garb, and the peculiar physiognomy of the average Hutsul would require extensive adaptation of any headgear.

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