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SCREENPLAYS

BOOKWORM! (short horror-comedy)

(co-written with Al Hunter)

https://wp.me/pzvIo-FQ

 

EXTRA (short comedy)

(conceived by Zvi Arav, based on a short story by Ephraim Kishon)

https://wp.me/pzvIo-Gf

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BOOKWORM!

by Al Hunter & David Lefkowitz

(c)1988

 

CHARACTERS:

Melissa: A pretty, highly extroverted college student in her early twenties.

Wilma: Melissa’s friend. A woman of limited intelligence but more common sense than Melissa.

Pete: A good-looking stockbroker trainee in his mid-twenties. Though not evil, he’s still basically a jerk.

Cliff: A male version of Wilma. Possibly better looking.

Fireman: Tired, dedicated, and in full uniform.

Mabel de la Cruz: Melissa’s cousin. A plain, slightly odd-looking woman in her late twenties. Unmarried and unfriendly, she spends much of her time reading . . .

 

ACT I

FADE IN

ENT. SMALL COLLEGE TOWN – LATE AFTERNOON

A crisp, sunny afternoon in late fall.

We see a figure approaching a large boarding house.

The figure, weighed down by a bundle, moves awkwardly but with determination.

EXT. BOARDING HOUSE

An unfriendly edifice, but not seriously dilapidated.

The front badly needs a paint job, but the omnipresent ivy helps hide the worst flaws.

We see frumpy MABEL DE LA CRUZ trundle up to the front door. She gets to the front steps, stumbles, and drops a huge stack of library books.

Mabel carefully dusts off each one and methodically restacks the pile.

She then fishes a key out of her black handbag and opens the front door.

INT. FRONT PARLOR

We hear the Smithereens blasting from an upstairs stereo.

Mabel slides the door closed with her leg and gently lays her books down on a nearby table.

Mabel hurriedly hangs up her coat and turns a light on in the parlor.

She rummages through the stack of books until she finds the one she wants. Then she scuttles over to the old, beat-up sofa.

Mabel hungrily begins skimming the book, but the noise from upstairs distracts her.

She slams the book shut and is about to head toward the stairs when the music stops suddenly.

Mabel sighs and returns to her book.

She is immediately interrupted by the sound of two pairs of feet galloping down the stairs.

STAIRS

MELISSA and WILMA, two friends in their early twenties, run downstairs, giggling and dressed to party.

As soon as they notice Mabel, their mood darkens.

WILMA: (whispers) Maybe we should ask her.

MELISSA: Oh, come on!

WILMA: But she never goes out. Except to that stupid library.

Mabel, absorbed in her book, ignores the conversation.

MELISSA: You know, if she comes along, we’ll just have to dump her on somebody.

WILMA: You’re so cruel, Melissa. I mean, she is your cousin.

MELISSA: You wanna ask her? Be my guest.

Mabel doesn’t even look up from her book.

MABEL: Ask me what?

WILMA: Uh, Mabel . . . Me and Melissa are going to that new rock club. The Underworld. You’re welcome to come.

MABEL: No.

After a second, Mabel looks up and actually smiles.

MABEL: But thanks. I have to do some research.

WILMA: All you ever do is read those old books. It’s not healthy.

MABEL: I’m just not cut out for the party scene. I don’t know what to say, what to wear, how to make new friends. I’m much more comfortable staying home and communing with old friends.

MELISSA: Get a life! Don’t you ever want to be somebody? Meet a nice guy? Have kids?

WILMA: You can read to them.

MABEL: I guess I never think about that. We’re different.

MELISSA: I’ll say. What’s in those books anyway? (reads) “White Magic”? Is that like a  sequel to Less Than Zero?

Melissa tries to sneak a peek, but Mabel flinches defensively.

MELISSA: Hey, suit yourself.

WILMA: Are you sure you don’t wanna come to The Underworld?

MELISSA: I think she’s already found it! Come on, Wilma.

Melissa heads for the door.

MABEL: Have a good time.

Wilma leaves with Melissa.

Mabel turns off the lamp and goes to the parlor table.

She collects the stack of books and trudges upstairs.

INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY

Mabel passes by the open door to Wilma’s room and notices clothes and album covers all over the floor.

Mabel groans and walks to her own room.

INT. MABEL’S ROOM

The room would be meticulously neat if it weren’t for the overflow of musty books on shelves, in piles, and generally everywhere.

The faded red curtains and dim light from scattered candles heighten the dinginess of the windowless room.

Mabel scans one shelf in search of a book.

We notice that all the titles are non-fiction works dealing with science, medicine, and the occult.

Mabel chooses one book titled, “The Ancient Art of Black Magic,” and settles down to read it by candlelight.

END OF ACT I

 

ACT II

From the eerie dimness of Mabel’s room, we turn to the funky dimness of the Underworld nightclub.

INT. THE UNDERWORLD – EVENING

The Rolling Stones’s Sympathy for the Devil blasts from the PA as young people dance, drink, and carouse.

In one corner, Melissa and Wilma sit with CLIFF and PETE, two attractive guys in their twenties.

All four have already consumed healthy quantities of alcohol.

CLIFF: You girls into dancing again?

WILMA: Not to this. I wanna wait for some Bangles or Talking Heads.

PETE: Stuff they’ve been playing, you may have to wait all night.

MELISSA: Well . . . we’ve got a lot of good albums back at our place.

WILMA: Melissa!

CLIFF: You got MTV?

WILMA: No.

CLIFF: Oh.

Pete shoves Cliff as if to say, “If you blow this, I’ll kill you.”

MELISSA: But we have beer and microwave popcorn.

Pete slides his arm around Melissa.

PETE: Sounds good to me.

WILMA: Melissa! What about Mabel?

MELISSA: What about her?

CLIFF: Who’s Mabel?

WILMA: Don’t you think she’d mind?

MELISSA: That’s her problem. We invited her, remember?

CLIFF: Who’s Mabel?

WILMA: Our landlady.

PETE: (laughs) What, some 90-year-old woman with glasses and a hump?

MELISSA: Just about. It’s embarrassing that she’s actually part of my family.

WILMA: Stop it. (to Cliff and Pete) She just likes to keep to herself, that’s all.

MELISSA: Weird, Melissa. She’s weird. (to Cliff and Pete) We’ve been living there a month. Every night she locks herself in her room and she reads. Old books. Only time she leaves the house is to go to the library.

PETE: I knew a kid like that in high school. Me and my friends used to beat the hell out of him.

CLIFF: So is the bookworm gonna be a problem?

PETE: (mocking) I dunno, Cliff, she sounds like a real hardcover bookworm.

WILMA: (to Melissa) Maybe we shouldn’t . . .

PETE: Okay, okay! We promise to keep the noise down at Mabel’s dungeon.

MELISSA: Then let’s go!

The quartet rise and prepare to leave.

INT. MABEL’S ROOM – NIGHT

Mabel has fallen asleep, her book open.

She is rudely awakened by noises from downstairs.

INT. PARLOR ROOM

Four drunk people having a party. Their exaggerated attempts to be quiet only end up making worse noise.

Pete’s hands have already found their way around most of Melissa’s body.

Pete tries to find a more comfortable position on the sofa, and he knocks over a Stroh’s in the process.

MELISSA: (giggles) Shh!

PETE: So where’s this Mabel you’re so worried about?

MELISSA: Probably upstairs reading the Bible.

Pete laughs.

MELISSA: I’m not joking.

Wilma shrieks. The other three jump.

WILMA: Take it easy, Cliff! I have to get in the mood.

Cliff scoops a handful of popcorn.

CLIFF: I’m in the mood.

WILMA: It’s different for a guy.

CLIFF: Yeah, it hurts!

Pete turns back to Melissa.

PETE: Maybe we better leave them alone. Is there a place we can . . . ?

MELISSA: Subtle, Pete. My room is upstairs.

INT. STAIRCASE

PETE: There’s no one else in the boarding house except the landlady?

MELISSA: Yeah, the other rooms are all vacant. I guess her folks left her enough money to run things the way she wants.

INT. MABEL’S ROOM

Mabel lights three black candles and opens a bible that rests on an antique drawer.

Also on the dresser is a framed picture of Melissa’s parents.

Mabel places a candle next to the picture.

MABEL: Mom, dad . . . I’m sorry. I try to keep a respectable place, to keep your memory pure. but—what? Yes, they are sinners. I know there can’t be sin in this house. Oh no. Don’t ask me to do that again. I won’t!

Mabel throws her hands over her ears and grabs her bible.

MABEL: (reads) “O Lord, rebuke me not in Thine Anger. Neither chasten me in Thy wrath.” Stop! NO! (faster) “Return, O Lord, deliver my soul; Save me for Thy Mercy’s sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee . . . ”

A cold gleam comes into Mabel’s eyes.

INT. MELISSA’S BEDROOM

Pete and Melissa, still clothed (this IS television, after all), begin foreplay. Pete stops in mid-fondle.

PETE: You hear that?

MELISSA: What?

PETE: Sounded like somebody talking and then—How’s your plumbing?

MELISSA: At the moment, confused. Come on!

Melissa grabs him, and they suck face.

INT. HALLWAY

Of course, the noises are for real.

We hear a squeaky, sloshing kind of sound coming from Mabel’s room.

The door flies open with a bang.

INT. MELISSA’S ROOM

PETE: (startled) What was that?

MELISSA: I told you. It’s Mabel. She’s reading.

PETE: Since when does reading go thump and squish?

MELISSA: You want me to go out and take a look?

PETE: (thinks) No.

MELISSA: Good.

They return to their passionate embrace.

INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY

We see the ominous shadow of the monster as it slithers closer and closer to Melissa’s room.

INT. PARLOR ROOM

Cliff finally puts his arm around Wilma.

CLIFF: So . . . how about those Mets?

He moves in for the kiss . . .

WILMA: (jumps up) Wait!

Wilma begins rummaging through her purse.

CLIFF: What’s the matter?

WILMA: Damn! Where is it?

CLIFF: What?

Wilma gives Cliff a dark look.

CLIFF: Oh.

WILMA: I don’t suppose you carry . . . ?

CLIFF: It melted.

WILMA: Don’t panic. Melissa keeps a couple hidden in the medicine cabinet upstairs.

Wilma darts over the the staircase and climbs a few steps. Then she turns back.

WILMA: Is the front light out? Mabel freaks if we leave  the front light on.

CLIFF: You go `head. I’ll turn it off.

Wilma bounds downstairs towards the front parlor.

WILMA: Nah, you’d never find the switch. Why don’t you go up and get—you know.

CLIFF: In the medicine chest?

WILMA: In a box of cotton balls. I’ll meet you in my room —

She is interrupted by the odd sounds from upstairs.

WILMA: (smiles) The quiet one on the left.

Cliff nods. He grabs the half-finished bowl of popcorn.

INT. STAIRCASE

Cliff looks up with a mild sense of dread.

CLIFF: Wilma. Is there a light for the st— (he spots a switch) Never mind.

Cliff flips the light switch. It doesn’t work.

Cliff groans and climbs slowly up the dimly lit stairs.

INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY

We vaguely see the back view of a large, strange figure slowly opening the door to Melissa’s room.

INT. MELISSA’S ROOM

Pete and Melissa have gotten down to basics.

INT. STAIRCASE

Cliff, munching popcorn, notices the figure in the doorway.

He also hears the weird sucking sound it makes.

CLIFF: Mabel?

Big tactical mistake on Cliff’s part.

INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY

The creature responds to its name.

It turns to face Cliff.

Cliff tries to scream, but his mouth is filled with popcorn.

He tries to spit the popcorn out but is violently snatched by the horriblest monster of them all:

THE GIANT MISSHAPEN BUT HUMANOID WALKING WORM CREATURE!!!!

Cliff twists and writhes, but the monster latches on with its jaw-like pincers.

The GMBHWWC squirts a blinding acid slime into Cliff’s eyes.

The creature grips Cliff tighter and tighter until he can no longer breathe.

As the GMBHWWC begins to consume its prey, slowly pan across the popcorn kernels that litter the hall and stairs.

Then pan back as the sated creature returns to Mabel’s room.

INT. PARLOR ROOM

Wilma returns and heads for the darkened stairs.

WILMA: Cliff?

INT. STAIRS

WILMA: I forgot to tell you, the bulb blew. Cliff?

Wilma feels something crunchy under her feet. She looks down and notices the popcorn.

WILMA: I can’t believe you’re such a slob! Mabel’ll go berserk if she sees this! What the — ?

Wilma becomes aware of the slime at the top of the stairs.

WILMA: Ugh!

Wilma tries to wipe the gooey slime on her blouse, but her hand sticks to the material.

She tries to climb away, but her feet are stuck.

The door to Mabel’s room opens, and out steps Mabel—returned to normal.

She sees Wilma and gasps.

MABEL: Wilma!

Mabel runs to the closet and grabs a broom.

She holds it out towards Wilma.

MABEL: Hurry! Grab on!

Wilma reaches, but the slime pulls her back.

She stumbles and falls forward.

Now her hands are stuck to the floor.

WILMA: Help me!

A gob of slime drips off the ceiling and falls onto Wilma’s head.

Before she can scream, the slime stretches itself over her face.

Mabel watches in powerless horror as the slime envelopes and digests poor Wilma.

The slime then dissolves, leaving nothing but a few scattered popcorn kernels.

END OF ACT II

 

ACT III

INT. MABEL’S ROOM

A distraught Mabel slumps against a corner. She looks up.

MABEL: Mom, dad, why?

Pete steps out of Melissa’s room.

He is bare chested and has just finished putting on his pants.

He notices Mabel, considers whether to ignore her, but thinks better of it.

PETE: Hi. You must be Mabel.

Mabel nods.

PETE: Isn’t it a little late to be cleaning up?

Mabel looks down and realizes she’s still holding the broomstick.

MABEL: I like to wait until everyone’s asleep to . . . clean up.

Pete looks down from the top of the stairs.

PETE: Whoa! Sorry about the mess.

Pete lights up a cigarette.

PETE: You smoke?

MABEL: No. And I don’t allow smoking in this house, either.

Pete drops the cigarette and crushes it with his foot.

PETE: Okay, it’s out. Jeez!

MABEL: Why did you do that?

PETE: What?

MABEL: The cigarette. On the floor?

Pete groans and picks up the butt.

PETE: Sorry. Look, if you don’t mind my saying so, what you really need is a good—

MABEL: Get out.

PETE: Hey, I didn’t say I was offering.

MABEL: I want you out of this house now.

PETE: All right! Lemme just get my shirt.

Mabel’s voice begins to turn rough and squeaky.

MABEL: Don’t go back in that room. You have SINNED in that room!

PETE: Everybody sins, honey.

MABEL: THERE IS NO SIN HERE!

Mabel grabs Pete and tries to throw him over the staircase railing.

Pete struggles, but Mabel’s strength is nearly superhuman.

Melissa, hearing the noise, steps out of her room.

MELISSA: What are you doing?

She tries to grab Mabel from behind, but Mabel easily flings her off.

PETE: Help! Melissa!

Melissa reaches for the broom and hits Mabel with it from behind.

She hits Mabel again, but the blows have little effect.

Mabel swivels around and this time, the broom handle comes down on Pete’s head instead of Mabel’s.

A stunned Pete loses control and begins stumbling backward, precariously near the edge of the stairs.

Mabel grabs the broom and pokes at him.

Her last jab does the job.

He falls backwards down the stairs, a la Psycho.

(For the people playing at home, that’s Death #3 so far.)

Melissa, paralyzed with fear, stares at Mabel.

Mabel’s body has begun the initial process of turning into the worm creature.

MABEL: Melissa! Go get my Bible!

Melissa can’t move.

MABEL: The Bible, Melissa! Hurry!

Melissa snaps out of it and runs into Mabel’s room. She slams the door.

MABEL: No, don’t!

Mabel grows bigger and becomes more wormish.

MABEL: Please, get the Bible!

INT. MABEL’S ROOM

A terrified Melissa notices an enormous, old black book with a bookmark sticking out of it.

The title on the tome is “Ancient Spells and Curses.”

Against her better instincts, Mabel opens the book to the book-marked page.

She beholds a tremendous, full-color drawing of a GIANT MISSHAPEN BUT HUMANOID WALKING WORM CREATURE (!!!!!!)

INT. HALLWAY

Mabel’s transformation continues.

MABEL: I’m under a curse. It’s an ancient spell passed on through the ages . . . from blood relative to blood relative—LISTEN TO ME!

Mabel pounds against the door.

MABEL’S ROOM

Melissa pushes a chair against the door.

MABEL’S VOICE: All my life I’ve been looking for the answer. But the only cure I discovered was the Bible.

Melissa searches frantically for a bible.

MABEL: The word of God is the only thing that keeps it under control.

INT. HALLWAY

Mabel undergoes further change.

MABEL: Ohhhh, I’m in so much pain!

Her mind begins to drift.

MABEL: What, father? No. No! Father this has to stop!  The Curse of the Worms—make it stop!

INT. MABEL’S ROOM

Melissa sits and frantically reads.

MELISSA: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now, the earth was unformed and void, and darkness—“

The squeaks, groans, and pounding against the door get louder.

MELISSA: “And darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God—“

The pounding takes its toll, and the door begins to splinter.

The creature sneaks one of its pincers through a hole.

Melissa throws a book at the pincer, wounding it.

INT. HALLWAY

The GMBHWWC squeals with agony and anger.

INT. MABEL’S ROOM

Melissa pushes a cabinet in front of the door.

The movement knocks a litl candle off the cabinet and onto the floor. The flame ignites a throw rug.

INT. HALLWAY

The creature pounds a big hole through the door.

INT. MABEL’S ROOM

Melissa hurls the blazing rug at the creature.

INT. HALLWAY

GMBHWWC: (squeals) HELL FIRE!!!

The creature effectively smashes what’s left of the door.

INT. MABEL’S ROOM

Melissa hurls the framed photo of Mabel’s parents at the creature.

It hits the doorjamb and shatters.

A shard of glass cuts the creature, causing it to shoot a stream of extremely gross reddish-green blood.

Meanwhile, the smoke and flames spread throughout the room.

Melissa crouches low for air.

MELISSA: (awkwardly trying to remember) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to . . . to . . . lie down in green pastures.

The creature pushes the obstacles out of the way and enters the room.

MELISSA: He . . . He restoreth my soul.

The creature hurls a slimeball at Melissa.

She dodges the gob as it burns a tiny hole through the wall.

The GMBHWWC stretches to its full height and crashes through the ceiling.

EXT. BOARDING HOUSE

We see a hole punched through the roof.

INT. MABEL’S ROOM

The GMBHWWC grabs Melissa with one of its pincers.

The more Melissa struggles, the tighter the creature pinches.

The monster then raises her off the floor and lifts her towards the ceiling.

EXT. BOARDING HOUSE

We see Melissa sticking out of the hole in the roof.

The creature slams against the sides of the hole.

THE GMBHWWC accidentally loses its grip on Melissa.

She hits the roof and rolls down.

She falls several feet and lands in a section of wild-growing shrubbery.

INT. MABEL’S ROOM

The fire advances upon the creature.

We see the photo of Mabel’s parents, now out of its smashed frame, beginning to burn.

The more the picture burns, the smaller the creature becomes.

The GHBHWWC starts to look more and more human.

EXT. BUSHES

Melissa lies unconscious.

Slowly, she begins to stir.

INT. MABEL’S ROOM

Mabel stands in the midst of the fire and wreckage.

MABEL: Mother, father. The curse is off! I am released.

Mabel faints.

EXT. BUSHES

Melissa awakens, but her movements are awkward.

A sudden, horrified look crosses her face.

She emits a blood-curdling scream.

INT. MABEL’S ROOM

The fire engulfs the room.

Mabel’s clothing and body start to catch fire.

The rest of the ceiling caves in.

EXT. BOARDING HOUSE

We see the wreckage from the outside.

It is only a matter of time until the entire boarding house is destroyed.

We pan over to the bushes where Melissa was.

She is no longer there.

DISSOLVE TO

EXT. BOARDING HOUSE – THE FOLLOWING DAWN

The last firefighter leaves the premises.

He stands on the front lawn and communicates through his walkie-talkie.

FIREMAN: Yeah, the fire is completely extinguished. So are the occupants.

We hear an angry but garbled response.

FIREMAN: I’m sorry. You’re right. That was inexcusable. It’s just that humor is the only way I can—

More static.

FIREMAN: We found two bodies. One was a male caucasian in his mid-twenties, the other, a female, same age. Both were burned beyond recognition, but we assume the female was the owner of the place.

More static.

FIREMAN: Yes, there was another girl living there, but I guess she got lucky and never came home last night. I’m on my way back to the station, and I’ll file my report there. Over and out.

EXT. STREET – CURB

The firefighter heads back to his truck and drives away.

EXT. BOARDING HOUSE

We scan the burnt remains of the house and the debris along the grounds.

We see kitchen utensils, bits of furniture, record albums, and, of course, books.

Also lying on the grass is Mabel’s bible.

Scorched but not destroyed, the book is open to Numbers 21:6 (authors’ in-joke).

Anyway, nearby on the grass, not far from the wild-growing bushes, inching its way up the spine of Mabel’s bible is an average-sized earthworm.

But it’s not just any earthworm.

Earthworms don’t have pincers.

Earthworms don’t squeal.

Earthworms aren’t evil.

But this one is.

THE END

***********

NOTES & BACKSTORY:

Just a few years out of NYU, I collaborated with Al Hunter, an actor who produced and appeared in my one-act play, Blind Date, when it debuted at Jason’s Park Royale in the mid-1980s. Al had an idea for a horror script, which we teased out into a screenplay for a short film. Since horror is far from my genre, he did the heavy lifting on the plot, while I concentrated on dialogue and creating overall scenes.

I like the asides in the directions and even chuckled a few times reading this. Nothing came of the script, but it’s a cute piece of juvenilia, all things considered. 

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SCREENPLAY: Extra

SCREENPLAY: Extra

EXTRA

(c) 1987 by David Lefkowitz

Story outline and script consultant: Zvi Arav.

Based on the short story, “Continuity,” by Ephraim Kishon, as translated by Yoav Goren.

*

CHARACTERS

Morris Horowitz: mid-30s, our hero.

Allen: mid-30s, Morris’s neighbor.

Mr. Ford: Morris’s boss.

Norman Caesar: lead actor, “Sam.”

Beth Powell: lead actress, “Trish.”

Onlooker.

Another Onlooker.

Director (Michael): young and energetic.

Maria: the pretty script girl.

Black Man: the next Eddie Murphy.

Woman: a frustrated songstress.

Bill: the cameraman.

Frank Bonfante: the effeminate makeup man.

Victor: the sound man.

Kim: mid-20s, production assistant.

Deborah Horowitz: Morris’s wife.

George: gaffer and gofer.

Tenant: in an adjoining apartment.

Several neighbors: in nearby apartments.

Sound Engineer: at recording studio.

Stan: recording studio janitor.

Paperboy.

EXTRAS:

The members of the film crew of the final shot. The crowd viewing the initial shoot.

*

EXTRA

EXT. NEW YORK CITY APARTMENT BUILDING – EARLY MORNING

We see window after window of the rear view of a typical New York City apartment building.

We soon see an odd figure awkwardly making his way up the fire escape.

We see him climb to an adjoining fire escape and tap on the window.

INT. ALLEN’S APARTMENT

A small, tastefully appointed, rent-controlled apartment.

We hear the sound of a running shower.

As we can the apartment’s interior, we hear the sound of tapping on a rear window getting louder and louder. We hear the water being shut off.

The tapping turns into banging.

The bathroom door opens and out steps ALLEN.

He is an average looking, amiable fellow in his mid-30s.

He is still wet and nude except for a towel wrapped around his midsection.

There is still shampoo in his hair.

Allen walks towards the direction of the banging.

He stops to grab a flashlight out of a drawer, and he holds the light in a menacing, club-like manner.

Allen cautiously approaches the window, then boldly darts in front of it to confront the intruder.

He sees a tired-looking man in his mid-thirties, fearfully pounding on the window, mouthing a panicked “help!”.

Allen drops the flashlight.

ALLEN: Morris!

Allen opens the window, and in falls his friend, MORRIS.

ALLEN: My God, are you all right?

MORRIS: Close the window!

Allen does so as Morris rights himself.

ALLEN: What’s going on?

MORRIS: You gotta hide me!

Morris springs to the window and yanks the shade down.

It won’t stay down, however, and he yanks so hard, the shade tumbles off the window completely.

ALLEN: Morris, what — ?

MORRIS: Hide . . . gotta hide . . .

Keeping low, Morris limps across the room looking for cover. He ducks behind the couch.

MORRIS: I’m not here! Remember, I’m not here!

ALLEN: What is going on?

Morris peers up from behind the couch.

MORRIS: I’M AN EXTRA!

OPENING CREDITS

INT. ALLEN’S APARTMENT – A FEW MINUTES LATER

Morris trembles on the couch. Allen hands him a cup of coffee.

ALLEN: Now calm down. Does Deborah know you’re here?

MORRIS: They’re probably torturing her for information.

ALLEN: For the last time, what are you talking about?

Morris takes a sip and a deep breath.

MORRIS: It all started two days ago. I was heading down to Blimpie’s on my lunch hour when I saw this commotion . . .

EXT. NYC STREET – MIDDAY – FLASHBACK

Morris zips his coat and crosses the street to where a small crowd has gathered.

He cranes his neck to see a woman (KIM) carrying a large white bounce card. She clumsily weeds through the crow and into the eye of the action, where we see MICHAEL VERNON, a highly strung film director, bending down to talk to BILL, his cameraman.

Morris notices a well-dressed couple seated nearby. They are NORMAN CAESAR and BETH POWELL, the lead actors, and it is obvious they do not get along.

MORRIS: Are they actors?

An ONLOOKER nodes “yes.”

MORRIS: Famous?’

The Onlooker shrugs.

The Director finishes talking to Bill and impatiently calls:

DIRECTOR: Maria!

The pretty Hispanic script girl makes her way towards the Director. They confer.

Another onlooker leans over and talks to Morris.

MORRIS: What do you think they’re talking about?

ONLOOKER: He’s an artist.

We watch Michael and Maria converse as the Onlooker fills in the dialogue.

ONLOOKER: He’s probably saying, “I want this scene to be spectacular. The greatest scene in movie history.” And now she’s asking him if the camera’s exactly where he wants it. He’s thinking, “Yes,” he says. “Perfect!”

We then see and hear Michael and Maria’s real conversation.

MARIA: Michael, what are we gonna feed the crew? We can’t afford to keep giving them cold cuts.

DIRECTOR: (not paying attention) The frame’s too empty . . . I need another face for the scene.

MARIA: How about tuna salad?

DIRECTOR: What?

MARIA: I’ll have George call the caterer.

DIRECTOR: I need a face for the background.

MARIA: Then we’ll get one.

We return to Morris and the Onlooker.

ONLOOKER: Don’t you wish you were up there on the big screen? Millions of people staring at an eight-foot you. All those love scenes . .  .

They look at Beth, the lead actress.

MORRIS: (shrugs) If they asked me, I wouldn’t say no.

Maria approaches the crowd.

MARIA: All right, who wants to be in the movies?

The crowd pushes forward.

MARIA: We need an extra for this scene.

A middle-aged woman is the first to respond.

WOMAN: I can sing.

MARIA: Not here, you can’t.

Bill, the cameraman, calls to the Director.

BILL: Hurry up, MIke, we’re gonna have to change filters soon.

DIRECTOR: (annoyed) All right!

Maria stands near Morris and the Onlooker. The Director approaches.

DIRECTOR: Maria, what’ve you got for me?

MARIA: Take your pick; I like them both.

The Director eyes the pair intensely.

ONLOOKER: (whispers) Good luck.

A tense moment.

Finally, the Onlooker provides the Director with an idiotic, show-stopping smile.

DIRECTOR: You. Come on.

The Director grabs Morris’s arm and pulls him towards the set.

ONLOOKER: (mimics) Well, if they asked me, I wouldn’t say no. Son of a b—

DIRECTOR: Now, here’s the scene. Sam and Trish are in the middle of their big fight. There’s our Sam and Trish—

He points to the lead actors who yawn and wave.

DIRECTOR: So anyway, they’re fighting, and you’re just walking, you know, coming out of the building, when Sam decides to hail a cab.

MORRIS: For me?

DIRECTOR: No, schmuck, for me. He wants the cab to skip town. He sees one in the distance, runs towards it, you’re in the way, so he pushes you aside.

MORRIS: Yeah, and then what?

DIRECTOR: And then she runs after him, and they finish the scene.

MORRIS: That’s it?

DIRECTOR: Look, do you want the part or don’t you?

MORRIS: Of course I do, I was just —

DIRECTOR: Make up!

FRANK BONFANTE, the make-up man, instantly appears. He is young, friendly, and noticeably effeminate.

FRANK: Hi, my name is Frank.

MORRIS: I’m Morris —

FRANK: Don’t move, I’m putting on a base. There. Now you look like a star.

DIRECTOR: Is the star ready?

Morris nods as the Director walks away.

FRANK: Don’t let Michael scare you. He’s really a sweet guy.

DIRECTOR: All right, folks. Let’s get rolling, okay?

Norman and Beth, the leads, take their places.

Bill, the cameraman, guides Morris to his spot.

DIRECTOR: We all know what’s happening in this scene, right? We’ll take it up to where he hails the cab. Sound ready?

VICTOR looks up from his Nagra.

VICTOR: Ready.

DIRECTOR: Camera ready?

BILL: Ready!

Morris starts walking.

DIRECTOR: What are you doing?

MORRIS: I’m walking. You said I was supposed to be w —

DIRECTOR: Did I say action? Did you hear me say the word “action”?

MORRIS: No, but —

Maria guides Morris back to his spot and places tapemarks on the sidewalks in front of his feet. Frank holds Morris’s calves to make sure he doesn’t move again.

DIRECTOR: Roll sound!

VICTOR: Rolling!

DIRECTOR: Roll camera!

BILL: Speed.

DIRECTOR: (deep breath) Action!

CUT TO

INT. ALLEN’S APARTMENT

A somewhat calmer Morris sips coffee and continues.

MORRIS: I was never involved in a movie before. I always thought it was like theater; everybody puts on their costumes, does their thing, two or three hours, and it’s finished.

ALLEN: Two or three hours? It takes two or three hours to get one shot.

MORRIS: You’re telling me. But at that point I figured, what would it hurt if I popped up in a movie? I wasn’t even gonna tell my wife. One night I’d casually take her to the movies and Boom! I just didn’t realize I’d have to suffer so for my art.

ALLEN: What do you mean?

MORRIS: On the first take, I start walking like I’m supposed to . . .

DISSOLVE

EXT. FILM SHOOT – DAY – FLASHBACK

Morris walks. We see him POV through Bill’s camera. Unfortunately, Morris is looking directly at Bill’s camera.

DIRECTOR: Cut! Listen, what’s your name.

MORRIS: Morris.

DIRECTOR: Morris, look. This is not a home movie. You keep looking at the camera, that’s fine for Aunt Sophie and Uncle Josh, but everyone else is gonna get sick.

MORRIS: So where should I look?

DIRECTOR: Where do you normally look?

MORRIS: (thinks) My feet.

DIRECTOR: Fine. Just don’t look at the camera, okay?

Morris nods, and Frank leads him back to his spot.

FRANK: Don’t worry. You’ll get the hang of it. You have that certain . . . something.

Morris gives Frank a suspicious look as he hears:;

DIRECTOR: Action!

Morris starts walking, looking intently at his feet.

Norman, the lead actor, comes up behind him.

NORMAN: Taxi!

Norman bumps into Morris and shoves him aside.

MORRIS: OW!!

Morris hunches over and holds his foot.

DIRECTOR: CUT! What’s the matter with you?

MORRIS: He stepped on my foot.

NORMAN: (blase) It was an accident.

DIRECTOR: It’s a simple little scene! Why can’t we—wait a minute.

The Director approaches the cameraman.

DIRECTOR: Bill, how did that look to you?

BILL: It was pretty funny.

The Director thinks for a second and calls to Norman.

DIRECTOR: Norm, I want you to go with that foot thing. You think you can do it again?

NORMAN: (shrugs) Sure.

DIRECTOR: Okay, then let’s get this in the can! Places!

Kim, an attractive woman in her twenties (earlier seen carrying a bounce card), holds the slate in front of Morris’s face.

KIM: Scene 14, Take 3.

Kim claps the sticks, causing Morris to sneeze.

DIRECTOR: Action!

Morris walks. Norman comes up from behind and, quite vigorously, treads on his foot.

MORRIS: Auuugghhh!!!!

NORMAN: Taxi!

Norman moves off to hail the cab.

DIRECTOR: Cut! Good! Except Norman, you have to say “taxi!” before you bump into him.

Norman nods and considers the intricacies of method acting.

DIRECTOR: One more time, folks. Let’s make it a keeper, okay? Roll `em. Action!

Morris walks. We hear a voice-over of Allen and Morris as they shot plays itself out, complete with stomp and scream.

MORRIS’S VOICE: Each time I figured, “Great. That’s it.” But the director would always go, “One more, we need one more. Be a trooper.” So I trooped.

DIRECTOR: I think we really have it now. Just one more try.

Morris massages his poor leg but straightens up when he hears:

DIRECTOR: Action!

We see Norman and Beth (as Sam and Trish) quarreling.

NORMAN: I catch you sleeping with my best friend and my best friend’s wife, and all you can say is “whoops?”

BETH: But you can’t walk out in the middle of a relationship!

NORMAN: Oh yeah? Just watch me.

Norman moves away from her and heads toward the street. Meanwhile, Morris limps painfully along.

NORMAN: Taxi!

Norman bumps into Morris and steps on his foot.

Morris lets out an incredible cry of real anguish.

DIRECTOR: Cut! Beautiful! Print it!

There is scattered, sarcastic applause from the crew and the stragglers left in the crowd. Frank comes up to Morris.

FRANK: I thought you were wonderful.

Kim approaches Morris with a pen and a form to sign.

KIM: Could you please fill this out?

MORRIS: What is it?

FRANK: Contact sheet. You want us to call you when there’s a screening, don’t you?

Morris nods and fills the sheet out.

FRANK: Look, we’ll be finished here by seven. Maybe you’d like to go out and have a beer?

KIM: Don’t forget your work number.

MORRIS: (jumps) Work! Oh my God!

Morris gimpily runs off.

FRANK: I’ll take a raincheck.

INT. OFFICE BUILDING – LATE AFTERNOON

Morris hurries to the elevator bank, pounding the buttons.

INT. HALLWAY

Morris almost tumbles out of the elevator and runs to his office.

INT. MORRIS’S OFFICE


MR. FORD, Morris’s boss, is there to greet him.

MR. FORD: Are you all right?

MORRIS: (out of breath) You wouldn’t believe it!

MR. FORD: Try me.

MORRIS: Across the street . . . they’re making a movie . . . I’m in it.

MR. FORD: Congratulations.

MORRIS: If you only knew —

Morris spots a file on his desk. He opens it.

MORRIS: Oh no. What happened?

MR. FORD: Well, since I couldn’t mail the file out, I had to call Wilson to postpone.

MORRIS: You couldn’t get anyone else to mail it?

MR. FORD: That’s not the point! This was your responsibility.

MORRIS: I know —

MR. FORD: And if this happens again, I suggest you find steady work as an actor, because we won’t be needing your services here, kapish?

MORRIS: (nods) I promise. Tomorrow I’ll work triple overtime—without pay. I’ll make up for it.

MR. FORD: Go home and get some sleep. You look terrible.

EXT. NYC STREET – DUSK

INT. BUS

Morris on the bus going home. He passes marquee after marquee, poster after poster of the latest Hollywood films.

INT. MORRIS’S APARTMENT – EVENING

Morris sits in his favorite chair and soaks his foot in a blow of water. He sips a dry martini.

DEBORAH, his wife, sets the table for dinner.

DEBORAH: Did you get the license plate number?

MORRIS: Bicycles don’t have license plates.

DEBORAH: Well, were there any witnesses?

MORRIS: It was midtown during rush hour. The whole world was there, but nobody was watching.

DEBORAH: I think it’s disgraceful. Some lunatic kid on a bike comes speeding down and runs over your foot, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

MORRIS: Can we please drop the subject?

DEBORAH: Dinner’s almost ready.

Morris shifts in his chair, and the movement causes him to groan in dull agony.

DEBORAH: (sighs) I take it we’re not going to the movies tonight?

Morris spits out his martini.

INT. MORRIS’S BEDROOM – NEAR DAWN

Morris and Deborah are asleep. She snores a bit.

A light knocking is heard at the door. They don’t hear it.

Another light knocking. They still don’t hear it.

A tremendous banging is heard.

Morris and Deborah awake with a start.

MORRIS: What the — ?

DEBORAH: Maybe there’s a fire!

MORRIS: At this time of morning?

DEBORAH: (putting on her robe) Fires don’t tell time, Morris.

MORRIS: (rising) Stay calm. I’ll get it.

INT. LIVING ROOM – FRONT DOOR

MORRIS: Who is it?

FRANK’S VOICE: Guess who!

Morris’s expression turns to one of horror.

MORRIS: What do you want?

GEORGE’S VOICE: It’s very important, Mr. Horowitz. Please let us in.

DEBORAH: Appears in the hallway.

DEBORAH: Who is it?

MORRIS: Nobody, dear. Go back to sleep.

More banging.

MORRIS: Go away!

GEORGE’S VOICE: We’re not leaving until you let us explain.

Morris reluctantly chains the door and opens it a crack.

Frank and GEORGE, a P.A., are in the hall.

GEORGE: We need you.

MORRIS: I almost lost my job because of you people, and now you have to do it all over again?

GEORGE: It’s a different shot, Mr. Horowitz. We have to maintain continuity.

Deborah approaches the door. Morris shuts it hastily.

DEBORAH: Morris, what’s the matter?

MORRIS: I’m taking care of it.

DEBORAH: I heard voices.

MORRIS: Jehova’s Witnesses.

DEBORAH: At 5:30 in the morning? I’ll give them a piece of my mind! Where’s our bible?

MORRIS: I’m handling this just fine —

DEBORAH: (hurries towards the bedroom) I keep the page folded down specifically for occasions like this.

Pause. There is a light tapping on the door. Morris opens it slightly, squeezes through, and steps into the hallway.

INT. HALLWAY

MORRIS: Talk to me.

GEORGE: We have the shot of Sam running for the cab —

MORRIS: And mangling my foot!

FRANK: You were great!

GEORGE: But we forgot to get a reaction shot of Trish.

FRANK: And since you’re in the first shot, you have to be in the second. Otherwise, people are gonna say, “Where’s that cute guy who got bumped into? I smell a phony!” And they’ll want their money back.

MORRIS: (sighs) Continuity.

GEORGE: If we leave now, you’ll be finished in plenty of time to get to work.

MORRIS: Can I at least take a shower, have breakfast?

FRANK: (shakes his head) No time.

MORRIS: (pause) Just a second.

INT. LIVING ROOM

Morris runs towards the bedroom.

INT. BEDROOM

Morris runs in. Deborah searches for her bible.

DEBORAH: I can’t find it.

Morris hurriedly grabs some clothes.

DEBORAH: What are you doing?

MORRIS: What does it look like I’m doing? I’m getting dressed!

DEBORAH: You’re not going to one of their meetings, are you?

George calls from the living room.

GEORGE: Mr. Horowitz?

DEBORAH: They’re in the apartment?

Morris, still in his pajama bottoms and slippers, bundles up the rest of his clothes and hurries out of the room.

MORRIS: I’ll explain later.

Morris enters the living room and hastily motions for Frank and George to duck out. Deborah appears.

INT. LIVING ROOM

DEBORAH: Morris, what — ?

MORRIS: I’ll clear up everything when I get home. I promise.

Morris kisses Deborah and hurries out the door.

Deborah peers out the door and calls after the retreating figures:

DEBORAH: If you shave your head, I’m divorcing you!

A TENANT pokes his head out of a nearby apartment and gives Deborah an odd look.

EXT. NYC TRAFFIC – EARLY MORNING

Frank and Morris are in the back seat of a car being speedily driven by George. Morris is in the process of changing his clothes, a spectacle Frank appreciates.

EXT. FILM SHOOT – EARLY MORNING

A disheveled Morris steps out of the car and faces the crew. The Director examines him and then motions to Frank.


We see Frank shaving the left side of Morris’s face with an electric razor. He finishes.

MORRIS: Wait a minute. What about the other side of my face?

FRANK: Not in the shot.

DIRECTOR: Are we all set?

The tired cast and crew mumble assent.

DIRECTOR: Like we did in rehearsal. Ready? Action!

Beth stands on the street, and Norman walks away form her. Morris stands nearby.

Beth sighs and shakes her head.

DIRECTOR: CUt. Something wrong?

BETH: I just don’t feel connected to this scene.

DIRECTOR: You were doing fine before.

BETH: I’m sorry. Something’s missing.

A pause.

CUT TO

Norman breaks away from Beth, runs to hail a cab, pushes Morris aside, and steps on his foot.

MORRIS: Aaauuugghhh!

The Director looks pleased and is about to holler cut when Maria does it for him.

MARIA: CUT!

DIRECTOR: (angry) What the — ?

Maria hands him a Polaroid photograph.

MARIA: Look at the shirt.

DIRECTOR: Oh no.

With tremendous false calm, the Director approaches Morris.

DIRECTOR: Morris . . . this isn’t the same shirt you wore yesterday, is it?

MORRIS: (shrugs) Of course not. What do you think, I’m a slob?

DIRECTOR: FRANK! GEORGE!

EXT. NYC STREETS – MORNING

Frank, George, and Morris speed back towards the apartment.

INT. MORRIS’S APARTMENT – MORNING

Morris unlocks the door, walks in, and hurries over to the window.

We see POV, Frank and George in the car below.

Morris signals to them and runs to find his shirt.

Deborah, dressed for work, appears from the bedroom.

DEBORAH: (startled) I didn’t hear you come in.

MORRIS: (unbuttoning his shirt) Where’s the shirt I wore yesterday?

DEBORAH: Why do you want your —

MORRIS: Debbie, the shirt! Where’s the shirt?

INT. BEDROOM

We hear honking from the street below.

MORRIS: Coming!

DEBORAH: Morris, what — ?

MORRIS: Have you ever heard of something called “continuity?”

DEBORAH: No.

MORRIS: You’re lucky.

More honking. Morris frantically searches for his shirt.

MORRIS: Debbie, where’s my shirt?!

DEBORAH: It’s in the wash!

MORRIS: (stunned) What?

We hear pounding on the front door.

FRANK: Mr. Horowitz? Yoo hoo!

INT. LIVING ROOM

Morris runs towards the front door and opens it.

MORRIS: It’s in the wash.

Morris and Frank hurry off. Deborah calls after them.

DEBORAH: Morris, if you’re in trouble, I’m your wife. You should share it with me!

Several NEIGHBORS poke their heads out of nearby apartments and give Deborah an odd look.

Scraping up some pride, Deborah holds her head up, locks the door, straightens her suit, and heads for the elevator.

INT. STAIRS

Morris and Frank run down the stairs and into the laundry room.

INT. LAUNDRY ROOM

The duo frenziedly stop every washing machine, open the doors, and inspect the contents.

Underwear goes flying.
Frank empties one machine full of women’s clothes. He finds a leather bra, looks around to make sure he’s not being watched, and stuffs it in his pocket.

MORRIS: I found it!

Morris pulls a wrinkled wet shirt out of a machine.

MORRIS: You got a quarter for the dryer?

Frank grabs his arm.

FRANK: Tomorrow!

EXT. NYC STREET – MORNING

Frank and Morris run towards the waiting car, the shirt flying like a flag from Morris’s arm.

EXT. FILM LOCATION – MORNING

Frank, Morris, and George finally return.

Morris gingerly puts the wet shirt on, and the Director notices his misery.

DIRECTOR: What’s the matter?

FRANK: It’s wet.

DIRECTOR: No problem. Kim?

Kim comes over with a 1000-watt spotlight and shines it directly on Morris.

DIRECTOR: How’zat?

CUT TO

Norman walking quickly.

NORMAN: Taxi!

Norman bumps into Morris and steps on his foot. Morris howls in pain.

So begins an agonizing montage-to-music as the scene is shot and re-shot.

Either the Director is not quite happy with it, or Morris isn’t screaming loudly enough, or Norman forgets to say “Taxi!”, etc.

Soon, Morris is literally hopping through the scene like a one-legged man without a crutch.

Intercut with this, we see the usual moviemaking clips: slates, new film being wound into the camera, tape rolling on the Nagra, Maria taking down notes, the hovering boom mike.

Also intercut, we see a large clock. We pull out to see:

INT. MORRIS’S OFFICE

Mr. Ford, Morris’s boss, looks at said clock with interest.

EXT. FILM LOCATION

DIRECTOR: Action!

Morris does not move.

DIRECTOR: Action!!!

Morris shakes his head, exhaustedly.

MORRIS: I can’t take it anymore.

Maria approaches him.

MARIA: We’re almost finished. Just stick it out one or two more times.

MORRIS: I’m sorry, I can’t.

The Director approaches Morris with terrifying calm.

DIRECTOR: Don’t make me hurt you.

MORRIS: You can’t hurt me any more than I’ve already been hurt.

Pause. The Director knees Morris in the groin.

MORRIS: (wheezes) Well, I’m ready.

We see a few more run-throughs. Finally . . .

DIRECTOR: Cut! All right, it’s a wrap!

The wear crew shake hands. Morris collapses.

INT. MORRIS’S OFFICE – MIDDAY

We see the clock: 3:45PM.

Morris stumbles into the office. Mr. Ford is there.

MR. FORD: So. Actor.

MORRIS: It’s over . . . we finished. No more . . . I promise.

MR. FORD: (hands him a file) Can you type this up for me?

Morris nods deliriously and kisses his hand.

Mr. Ford flinches, sighs, and walks away.

MR. FORD: (sighs) I want you to know: I was this close to calling the employment agency.

MORRIS: Thank you.

Mr. Ford walks away as a disheveled Morris gets to work. He is uncoordinated but trying.

He begins to nod off.

Suddenly, we see two sets of hands on his shoulders.

Guess who.

GEORGE: Sorry, Mr. Horowitz.

Morris nods meekly as George and Frank guide him out.

Then . . . Morris makes a break for it!

Frank and George chase him around, behind and in between desks.

Morris jumps on a desk. George tries to climb up , as well, but Morris gleefully stomps on his hands.

George finally jumps onto the desk, just as Morris jumps over to another desk.

He jumps to another, trips, and falls over a Xerox machine.

Morris winces at the glare as the machine makes an exact copy of his face.

Just before Frank grabs him, Morris scoots off and runs into the bathroom.

INT. THREE-STALL BATHROOM

Morris pulls at the door of the first stall. Locked.

He tugs at the second door. Locked.

The third stall is also locked, but Morris yanks with all his might.

The door opens to reveal Mr. Ford on the potty.

MR. FORD: You’re fired.

Morris dashes to the second stall and pounds on the door. He again tries to open it, can’t, and attempts to crawl underneath.

A pair of unidentified legs begin kicking him as he writhes his way into the stall.

Meanwhile, Frank and George spot him, grab his legs, and pull.

EXT. NYC STREET – DAY

Morris is hustled into the car.

We see the trio on their way.

MORRIS: Hey, aren’t we going the wrong way?

GEORGE: (shakes his head) Post-sync.

Frank elaborates for the puzzled passenger.

FRANK: We’re going to the studio to lay in some extra sound.

INT. RECORDING STUDIO – DAY

The trio head towards the control room.

MORRIS: In the street, there wasn’t enough sound?

GEORGE: There was too much sound. All you hear is cars beeping and wind.

George and Frank stand Morris near a microphone and put headphones over his ears. The henchmen leave the room and watch Morris through the glass.

MORRIS: (calls out) Hey!

The unexpectedly loud sound, highly miked, startles everyone, forcing them to rip off their headphones.

The Director, equipped with his own mic for communication, waits for the echo to die down.

DIRECTOR: Yes?

MORRIS: It wasn’t important.

The Director leans over to the SOUND ENGINEER.

DIRECTOR: Let’s lower his volume a little, shall we?

The Engineer nods and pots down a few dials.

DIRECTOR: Now, it’s very simple, Morris. So simple, even you could understand it. We need to dub in the scream when Norman steps on your foot. You think you can do that?

SOUND ENGINEER: Just watch the screen, and when you open your mouth up there, that’s when you fill the sound down here. Okay? Give us a couple of seconds to get ready.

The room lights go down, and the Sound Engineer rolls the tape. Morris, getting in the mood, feels the irresistible impulse to go into his best Sinatra impersonation.

MORRIS: Start spreddin’ the nyewz. I’m leeving toodaay . . .

DIRECTOR: Morris?

MORRIS: Yes?

DIRECTOR: Shut up.

Morris nods humbly.

SOUND ENGINEER: Get ready.

The film starts. We see Kim slate the shot, and then Morris.

MORRIS: That’s me!

Frank puts his finger to his mouth and signals “Shh!”. On screen, Morris walks, Norman bumps into him, steps on him, and —

SOUND ENGINEER: NOW!!!

MORRIS: Aaghh?

DIRECTOR: Cut.

We see the film rolling backwards.

MORRIS: I wasn’t ready.

SOUND ENGINEER: We’ll try it again.

The film goes forward. The onscreen Morris opens his mouth.

MORRIS: Aaggghh.

DIRECTOR: Oh, for crying out — is that the best you can do?

GEORGE: (to Director) Nobody knows what he sounds like. Why don’t you just get someone else to dub in the scream?

DIRECTOR: Because it should be organic. Real.

MORRIS: Aagghhhh .

GEORGE: That’s realism?

MORRIS: I know I can do it. Just give me a chance.

Morris practices while the crew confer.

DIRECTOR: Any suggestions?

The Sound Engineer whispers in the Director’s ear.

We see STAN, the heavyset Polish janitor, standing next to Morris in the control room.

The film rolls onscreen, and at the appropriate moment, Stan stomps on Morris’s foot.

MORRIS: AAUUGGGHHH!!!!

DIRECTOR: That’s it! Now we’re rolling!

We see a short montage of the varied techniques Stan uses to get the most out of Morris’s foot: jumping, grinding, crushing . . .

DIRECTOR: Very good. I just want one more —

MORRIS: NO! No more! What am I, a piece of meat?

Frank considers the thought as Stan offers his own:

STAN: You’re no actor, that’s for sure.

MORRIS: Sine this film started, I’ve been pushed around, beaten up, I’ve lost my job, my wife thinks I’m crazy, and I’m starting to crack up! (breaking down) You have no right! My life is more important than your movie!

The Director considers disagreeing. Frank frowns at him.

MORRIS: I’m going home. And I’m going to apologize to my wife. And then I’m gonna call my boss and beg for my job back. And if you come so much as one mile from where I live, I’m calling the cops! Is that clear?

Morris limps out of the control room with dignity.

He stops at the front door, checks his pockets, and turns around.

MORRIS: Could somebody give me a lift to my apartment? I don’t have money for a cab.

EXT. NYC STREET – LATE AFTERNOON

Frank drives Morris home. It is raining. Morris leans on Frank’s shoulder and stares forlornly out the windshield. We hear Allen and Morris on the Voiceover.

MORRIS’S VOICE: That night, I told Deborah everything.

INT. MORRIS’S BEDROOM – NIGHT

Morris and Deborah prepare for bed.

ALLEN’S VOICE: Was she mad?

MORRIS: She was relieved. She’d been convinced I was having an affair and was setting up these elaborate schemes to cover it up. When I explained it was only a movie, she was thrilled.

We see Deborah give Morris a goodnight kiss. Lights out.

EXT. NYC STREET – NIGHT

Morris, dressed in prison-striped pajamas, is being led along a dirty downtown street. The Director holds the front of a microphone cord which is wrapped around Morris’s neck like a dog leash.

Morris has a slipper on his right foot, but his left foot looks like a cartoon: it is a huge, pink, bare foot which clumps to the ground as Morris limps along in slow motion.

Watching the parade are many of the folks we’ve grown to know and love in the last half hour: Bill, Kim, Stan, Mr Ford, etc.  They wave, take pictures, jeer and gesticulate as Morris passes by. Norman and Beth are there, wearing masks of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

On the Director’s command, all the onlookers huddle together, and, in slightly fast motion, simultaneously begin jumping on Morris’s giant foot. Morris screams again and again.

INT. BEDROOM

Morris, in bed, wakes from a nightmare. He screams.

We hear knocking on the door.
Morris’s pajamas are soaked, and he pants heavily.

Deborah puts her hand to his forehead.

DEBORAH: Are you all right?

MORRIS: It’s them!

DEBORAH: Don’t worry. You’re safe here.

The banging gets louder. Deborah throws on her robe and goes into the living room.

GEORGE’S VOICE: Uh, Mr. Horowitz. You’re not going to believe this, but you know the footage we shot yesterday? Well, we brought it to the lab (chuckle chuckle), and wouldn’t you know, they dropped it on the floor (guffaw). It’s ruined!

INT. LIVING ROOM

Deborah unlocks the door and fastens the chain.

DEBORAH: He’s not home.

GEORGE: Where is he?

DEBORAH: (struggling to close the door) He died.

GEORGE: (pushing) Our condolences.

DEBORAH: Go away, or I’ll call the police!

FRANK: Please, Mrs. Horowitz!

DEBORAH: I told you, he’s dead! Have you no respect?

GEORGE: We’re sorry to do this, Mrs. H, but you leave us no choice.

Deborah stands aside as Frank and George run into the door with their shoulders, trying to break it down. Deborah runs to the phone. She sees that the men are about to break in, so she drops the receiver and runs into the bedroom to warn Morris.

INT. BEDROOM

DEBORAH: Morris!

Deborah looks around, but Morris is nowhere to be seen.

We hear the sound of the door breaking down.

Frank and George rush into the bedroom.

GEORGE: Where is he?

Deborah shrugs. Frank and George search the room.

PAN & DOLLY TO


EXT. FIRE ESCAPE – EARLLY MORNING

Morris climbs from his fire escape over to Allen’s. We are back to the opening shot of the film.

MORRIS’S VOICE OVER
And that’s how I came to be here.

INT. ALLEN’S APARTMENT – EARLY MORNING

ALLEN: Can I get you more coffee?

MORRIS: I don’t think my nerves could take it.

ALLEN: Don’t worry. As long as you’re here, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

We hear the sound of glass breaking.

FRANK’S VOICE: Hello? Sorry about the mess.

Allen and Morris spin around to see Frank. George climbs from the fire escape through the broken window. He holds Morris’s clothes.

EXT. NYC STREET – MORNING

Frank, George, and Morris exit the building.

FADE OUT

FADE IN ON

EXT. MIDTOWN STREET – EVENING

Allen and Morris walk out of a movie theater.

ALLEN: Well?

MORRIS: Eh.

ALLEN: Oh, I liked it!

MORRIS: It had its moments.

ALLEN: The scene in the dungeon must have been a pain to film.

As they walk, the camera pulls out to show the movie they’re discussing was a big studio blockbuster.

MORRIS: Every scene is a pain to film.

ALLEN: Speaking of which: whatever happened to that film you were in?

MORRIS: I saw it.

ALLEN: They had a screening?

MORRIS: In someone’s basement. Deborah and I went.

ALLEN: Nice audience?

MORRIS: Oh yes, very nice. I forgot his name.

ALLEN: Well, come on. At least admit it was a thrill to see your face up on that screen.

MORRIS: No, it wasn’t.

ALLEN: What do you mean?

MORRIS: They cut the scene out.

They walk a little further. A well-dressed man walks behind them, apparently in a hurry and trying to cut through.

MORRIS: The Director said my screaming was so realistic, it went against the tone of the rest of the film. Hey, watch —

The briefcase-carrying man pushes through Allen and Morris.

MAN: Taxi!

Before Morris can catch his breath, the man accidentally treads on his foot.

MORRIS: Aaauuuuggghhh!!!

The camera pulls out to reveal a soundman with a boom mic, a cameraman with a camera, several film crew members fulfilling their tasks.

When he’s seen enough, the Director yells:

DIRECTOR: Cut!

BLACK.

DIRECTOR’S VOICE: It’s a wrap!

TITLES

THE END.

*********

NOTES & BACKSTORY:

While still at NYU, I met director Zvi Arav who said he wanted to adapt an Ephraim Kishon short story into a short movie. He created the story’s outline, and I worked on the actual screenplay and dialogue.

Alas, I honestly remember nothing of writing the piece, and I don’t think I was involved in any production aspects of Zvi’s movie. I do know that “Extra” was completed and won an award at NYU’s short film festival—a credit I’m proud to have on my resume to this day. In fact, I still have a letter from Zvi inviting me to the movie’s debut screening on Friday, February 27, 1987, at 721 Broadway (the main location of NYU’s film program at the time) and notification that “the film will also be shown at the NYU film fastival that will take place on March 2-6, 1987.”

Reading back over the screenplay, I definitely see places where the stage directions could be more succinct (oh, those adjectives! ugh, all those “we sees!”!. If I were writing the screenplay today, I’d try to make the director and crew’s behavior a smidgen more realistic and maybe make Morris more starstruck—which would motivate him to stay even as the abuse piles up.

I do like the way the framing device (the post-mortem kitchen conversation) weaves in and out of the action, and the way the last scene fools us into thinking Morris is talking about his own movie rather than a generic blockbuster.

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