Monday, February 10, 2014

Grosse Pointe Change-up

One of the most fascinating aspects of film-making (at least to me as a screenwriter) is the way scripts change throughout the process of development. There will be that certain something in a story that will draw together the group of people necessary to bring it to life, but as those people move forward, the script begins to change - often drastically.

What once seemed an essential part of the narrative will be discarded with a few strokes of a keyboard. Scenes will shift their places, or get cut entirely. Characters will appear and disappear.

I found a great example of this today in a draft of the script for the 1997 movie Grosse Pointe Blankstarring John Cusack and Minnie Driver. As a quasi-pacifist, I should probably be embarrassed to be a fan of such an insanely, un-apologetically violent film. But I'm not, because humans are ridiculously inconsistent, and I am a human who loved Grosse Pointe Blank.

Anyways, the version I found was dated May 4, 1994, and varies wildly from the finished product. It starts with a series of scenes that aren't in the film at all, and for some reason does not include Joan Cusack's character.

This is crazy.

In the movie, Joan Cusack plays the matter-of-fact secretary for John Cusack's character's assassination business, and she is easily one of the best parts of the whole film, as she blithely schedules hits, badgers her brother's character into attending his ten-year high school reunion, and goes ape-excrement at a munitions-supplier over the phone. And the scene where she "closes up the office" by destroying everything thing and setting it on fire...? Priceless.

What I find especially interesting is that this draft (which you can read HERE, if you're interested) wasn't even the first draft of the screenplay. The fact that it has John Cusack and two others listed as co-writers seems to indicate that it is in fact a fairly late draft, which means that they were well down the production-road before anybody thought to write in such an essential, film-elevating character.

At some point someone thought, "Wait... wouldn't it be funny if this hit man had an office and a secretary, just like any other business?" and then that was it. They called up Joan Cusack and made cinematic history.

It's a valuable lesson for any Creative too stuck on his or her own vision to be willing to take input from others.

Anyways, if you're interested in watching the movie, it's up for free on hulu right now.

Click THIS LINK to enjoy the violence for yourself.

I'm still not sorry.


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