I was tempted — just for a moment — to call this The Lost Oeuvre, but it really doesn’t rate such a highfalutin title. (And until just now, I had no idea “highfalutin” was a single, hyphen-free, word.) Considering that “works” can refer to drug-taking gear, that word seems just right.
Going through some old stuff, I came across typewritten copies of a few scripts from my film student college days. Not just film, but television production, too. I ended up becoming a computer programmer, but for a while I aspired to be the next George Lucas (or more likely, Quentin Tarantino).
For fun, I thought I’d share one of the ones I’m not too embarrassed by all these years later.
Keep in mind that: [A] I was in college; [B] It was Los Angeles in the mid-1970s; [C] We smoked a lot of weed; [D] And were entirely too full of ourselves (as most college students tend to be).
What follows is a short teleplay I wrote and directed for my Junior year Television Production class.
I stumbled across it while cleaning this morning and found myself reading it with fond memories. A lot of the stuff I did back then will absolutely never again see the light of day, but this one didn’t seem completely awful.
Anyway, without further ado, I give you:
A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to Purgatory
INT ELEVATOR – DAY
We see an empty elevator, the type of elevator that one might find in a large downtown office building. The door slides open, and STANLEY steps into the elevator. He pushes the button for his floor, and stands watching the numbers over the door. Suddenly, the lights go out, and the elevator is plunged into darkness! When the lights come back on, we see that Stanley is no longer alone in the elevator; he has been joined by PETER FINCH. Finch carries a notebook…
Do I know you?
No, not directly anyway. My name is Finch, Peter Finch. You may call me Finch.
Pleasure to meet you,… I guess.
Ah, well you might ask, Stanley. I don’t really know how to tell you this,… but, you’re dead, Stanley.
Stanley stares at Finch for a moment. Then enlightenment crosses his face.
Oh! I get it! Where’s the camera?
Stanley peers into the elevator buttons.
Hi Mom! Hi Dad!
I think you’re getting hysterical. I don’t blame you, of course, but you’ve got to accept this, Stanley.
I don’t feel very dead!
How would you know? Have you ever been dead before?
I’ve been really tired…
Doesn’t count, Stanley.
Stanley is beginning to accept.
How did I die?
Well, do you remember when the lights went out a little while ago?
FINCH (waxing poetic)
That was a power failure that plunged the whole city into darkness..
It was two o’clock in the afternoon.
Well then it didn’t plunge the whole city into darkness. This elevator, however, did plunge; down, down, down…
I was only on the third floor.
You forget the six sub-basements.
No safety brakes?
It was beyond terrible, Stanley. You were crushed beyond recognition…
Stanley makes a last bid for his life.
I think one of us is going crazy. Who in the hell are you?
Actually, you hit it right on the nose. I represent one of the Afterlife Alternatives.
Heaven and Hell.
STANLEY (eyes wide)
Which are you?
You’re the Devil?
Oh, no! Perish the thought. I am a Devil. In fact, I only started today.
I don’t want to got to Hell!
It really isn’t that bad. Besides, you might not even be going.
At that moment the elevator doors slide open and the ANGEL steps in. She also carries a notebook.
Hello, Stanley! How are you… considering?
FINCH (to Angel)
Hi! My name is Peter Finch…
Peter Finch. Yes, I know.
Well now, Stanley, let’s see how your mortal life has been.
He hasn’t been to church in four years…
The Angel consults her notebook.
True, but he does send his children…
The fact remains…
…And he has been good to his wife
Now Finch consults his notebook.
What about the Seaside Motel two years ago?
That only happened once!
ANGEL and FINCH (together)
Alright, three times.
And it did end up helping his marriage.
Oh, come on now. If he breaks the fifth commandment, he breaks the fifth commandment.
You mean the sixth.
I really wouldn’t know.
Down to business, Finch. I’ll trade you the last two times at the Seaside Motel for…
…that hanky panky with his new secretary.
Hey! Nothing happened…
Exactly. It really was a minor offense.
Well,… how about all three times at the Seaside Motel for not going to church?
Throw in that perfectly harmless stag party last September, and you got a deal.
Perfectly harmless? Are we talking about the same Stanley, I wonder?
Compared to the others, Stanley was a… a perfect angel.
By this time, Stanley, who is largely being ignored, has sunk to the floor of the elevator, head in hands.
Who disappeared with the girl in the cake?
They didn’t do anything.
FINCH (starting to yell)
And why not? Stanley was too drunk. That’s why not.
ANGEL (yelling, too)
A Little Wine For Thy Stomach’s Sake!
FINCH (still yelling)
It sure didn’t help the rest of him!
ANGEL (also still yelling)
Hardly the sin of the century!
I never said it was!
They both stop to catch their breath and glare at each other.
I’ll trade you that phony land deal and not going to church for all three times at the Seaside Motel.
ANGEL (still mad)
That’s hardly any deal at all. I’ll trade you one of the times in the motel for the stag party.
We hold on Stanley on the floor and begin to fade out as the two Representatives continue to argue.
All three times, and you’ve got a deal.
Two times. I’ll throw in the secretary.
Oh, no. That’s too easy. How about…