From the late 1920s onward, Carole Lombard was noted for her sharp sense of story -- although as far as I know, Lombard herself never attempted to write a screenplay. (Had that infamous automobile accident that prematurely ended her tenure at Fox been even slightly more severe, thus dooming her career as an actress, she might have pursued a different path to remain in the industry she loved. Perhaps that path might have been as a screenwriter.)
So while Carole didn't write screenplays, nearly 90 years later, I'm trying my hand at the game. It won't be a lead-pipe cinch by any means -- the competition is fierce, and you can see many folks honing their scripts while using their laptops at the local Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (SoCal's equivalent of Starbucks, and since I drink tea and not coffee, my preferred hangout).
I've partially completed one romantic comedy, and have finished another. And that latter, completed script has earned semi-finalist status at the Los Angeles CineFest, a monthly competition. And here's where you come in...you can help me win the event.
Simply go to http://www.lacinefest.org/page-9-52
So what's "Stand Tall!" all about? Well, remember the 2013 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tournament, a competition Carole won on her third try? I promoted her successful campaign, and in one of my ads I used a bit of trick photography to show Lombard was one of Hollywood's larger-than-life figutes:
Yep, it's a "giant woman" story, a tall tale Hollywood has liked telling many a time since the late 1950s (in addition to 50-foot women, there have been 50-foot cheerleaders, 60-foot centerfolds and 30-foot brides). What makes "Stand Tall!" stand out from the rest of the queen-sized pack? A few things. Colleen Cossitt, our story's heroine, is rather puny compared to her towering cinematic predecessors, a mere 16 feet, 3 3/8 inches. She's generally too good-natured to "attack" anybody (although any bully should beware; as she says, "I look out for the little guy -- I used to be one myself"). And this is a full-fledged romantic comedy, with Colleen's target of desire one Keswick Fletcher, a regular customer of hers at the Bryson casino in Las Vegas, where she is a singing and dancing waitress.
When Colleen, whose ex drained her bank account and also physically abused her, needs to moonlight at a gentlemen's club to raise money for her 8-year-old nephew Ivan's medical expenses, she's rejected by its smarmy owner, Vito Cortez, who tells her to "get bigger" (a reference to her bustline, folks). Keswick, who's devised a machine that isolates and enlarges body parts, offers to enlarge her bust for free -- but at the moment Colleen undergoes the experimental treatment, a minor earthquake causes everything to go awry. Instead of the volume of her breasts being tripled, her entire body is made three times larger. She has to hide in Keswick's lab (a converted trucking warehouse) as he seeks to undo the process. Meanwhile, they gradually fall in love and equally struggling older sister Maureen and Ivan move in (to Colleen's relief, he loves that she's "fee-fi-fo-fum size").
Colleen is soon tracked down by Ernest Sanderson, the casino's eccentric billionaire owner, who accedes to her demand that he pay her nephew's hospital bills. Ecstatic, she picks him up and kisses him, saying she's so happy she "could sing and dance" -- and he signs her to do just that in his showroom (for a million dollars), with Keswick as her manager. After a clumsy beginning, she becomes beloved by young and old alike in Sin City, literally the biggest star in Vegas. (The above is from a one-sheet I commissioned early in the story process; were I to suggest a poster today, it would be of Keswick, on a stepladder, kissing and embracing the giant Colleen in her dressing room.) Meanwhile, Ernest is smitten with Maureen. Life is good.
But a secret in Keswick's past threatens their romance, and when he's kidnapped, Colleen must come to his rescue. Since this is a romantic comedy, there's of course a happy ending, with twists and turns you might not expect.
I've even proposed music for the story -- the girl-group sound of the '60s, which would wonderfully complement the script. One of the songs I "suggest" would involve Colleen performing with kids (at a special family "Team Colleen" weekend matinee). Try to imagine this 1963 gem from Brill Building legends Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry (who released this under the name "The Raindrops") as a dance routine. As Colleen later tells Keswick in her dressing room, "Isn't that the perfect song for a kids' chorus? OK, the lyrics are a bit ancient, but it's so cute." I hope that can be said of the entire screenplay.