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'Stand Tall!'...and die laughing



We discuss plenty of "what-ifs" pertaining to Carole Lombard had fate given her many years beyond Jan. 16, 1942 -- movie actress, TV actress, film producer to name a few -- but how about Carole Lombard, screenwriter?

Why not? She had a good reputation in the industry for understanding a script and was on excellent terms with many writers; heck, had Robert Riskin (Frank Capra's primary screenwriter) shown a bit more romantic interest in her, they might have married. Perhaps Carole might have collaborated with a screenwriter on some project, or she might have tried her hand at doing it all herself. But Lombard writing a script wouldn't have been all that far-fetched under the right circumstances.

Neither is the idea of me writing -- and selling -- a script, I hope. This weekend, I hope to make some progress towards a sale when I participate in the second annual Die Laughing Film Festival in Hollywood.



As its title implies, the festival salutes the genres of horror and comedy. It should come as no surprise to most of you that my "ticket" to the competition is in the latter category.



I've mentioned "Stand Tall!" a few times in recent months, but for you newcomers to Carole & Co., let me describe it once more: It's a romantic comedy spin on a popular sci-fi subgenre...




...the "giant woman" movie. (Above are Allison Hayes from the 1958 "Attack of the 50-Foot Woman," and Daryl Hannah from its comic 1993 remake.) So what makes my script different from previous tall tales of 30-foot brides, 50-foot cheerleaders and 60-foot centerfolds? (As I said, it's been a popular subgenre.)

For one thing, outsized heroine Colleen Cossitt is rather puny as cinematic giantesses go, a mere 16-foot-1 1/8. For another, she's not seeking destruction; as she tells a press conference, "I'm here to entertain people, not attack them." (After tripling in size, she's signed to a million-dollar contract as a showroom headliner at the Vegas casino where she had been a singing-dancing waitress.)

But most of all, she's in love...with scientist Keswick Fletcher, whose Resizer machine accidentally enlarged her. He adores her, too, giving her shelter in his lab (a converted trucking warehouse) after initially fearing her condition could be fatal. Colleen's fear, as she and Keswick promise to protect each other, is that her new stature has made her a freak who'll frighten people. But after a shaky public debut, she becomes a Sin City icon, beloved by young and old.

However, when he's kidnapped by a blackmailing mobster, Colleen's abusive ex and a wealthy former showgirl, the gentle giant comes to the rescue of "my little Keswick," aided by three female friends -- and making a life-changing decision in the process.

"Stand Tall!" is high-concept, retro-feminist fun, with some suggestive humor (Colleen jokes about losing her "giant virginity"), little if any raunch and vivid characters with plenty of heart. (As Keswick says, "Why settle for normal?") After numerous rewrites and suggestions, I believe I've honed a script that's marketable, even leaving room for a sequel or two. (Depending on special effects used, location shooting and star salaries, its budget probably is in the $1-10 million range.)

Here are the finalists in the comedy script division:



Those in the horror script division:



And the film selections:



If you're in Southern California this weekend, please drop by and offer encouragement to all involved. All events are at the Complex Hollywood (Dorie Theatre), 6476 Santa Monica Boulevard, in the heart of Theatre Row.

Tickets are $10 per screening, although both the Friday 3:30 p.m. screening and the 4 p.m. Saturday screenplay readings (excerpts) and awards ceremony are free. Get advance tickets at https://filmfreeway.com/DieLaughingFilmFestival/tickets. The schedule and other information is at https://www.dielaughingfilmfestival.com/.

With luck, next week I'll have good news about a deal with some A-lister's production company. (I can dream, can't I?) At the very least, I'll make some contacts that could lead to future scripts and ensuing sales. Keep your fingers crossed for me, folks...and somewhere, I'm hoping Carole can help make my "big" dreams come true.

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