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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Homage To Harry Zimm

Part of today has been spent helping Debbie with part of her course work. This involves her transcribing three – five minutes of dialogue from television noting dialogue, other verbal communication such as tone, non-verbal communication such as facial expressions and body language and their implied meanings.

In lieu of Debbie’s all-time favourite movie (Withnail and I) which was inexplicably missing from the shelves in the red room, she chose Get Shorty. The scene chosen is one that always makes us smile. Movie producer Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman) is in hock to a couple of hoods. He asks Chili Palmer (John Travolta) to help him out of a tough spot. Of course Harry only ends up makes things worse. The moral of the story is when you’re in a hole stop digging.

The Harry Zimm’s of this world are legion. No matter how good the advice may be, no matter how much they express a need for that advice, they are incapable of paying heed to that advice.


As Harry moves away from the window.

HARRY: Jesus . . .

Chili tosses the script on the desk, moves between a pair of fat red leather chairs.

CHILI: All right, Harry, make sure the limo guys sit here, not over on the sofa.

Harry is tugging the string to lower the blinds behind the desk.

CHILI: No leave 'em up, we want the light in their eyes. I'll be at the desk . . . but don't introduce me, let it go, just start talking. You're gonna be here, behind 'em when they sit down.

HARRY: They'll be looking at you. They don't know who you are.

CHILI: That's right, they're wondering, who's this guy? You don't tell 'em. Understand, Harry? Do not tell 'em who I am.

Harry glances off as we hear RONNIE SINGING down the hall.

RONNIE: (O.S.) In the year 2525 . . . if man is still alive . . .

HARRY: So what do I say to them?

CHILI: You don't say any more'n you have to. You say, 'Well, I'm glad you assholes stopped by, so I can set you straight.'

HARRY: You're kidding, right?

RONNIE: (O.S.) If woman can survive . . .

CHILI: You tell 'em the movie's been postponed. Say, till next year, if you want. But don't tell 'em why or what you're doing. Understand, Harry? You don't tell 'em anything about Mr. Lovejoy.

And the door opens. Chili sits behind the desk, watching the two of them come into the office. Ronnie singing . . .

RONNIE: They may find . . .

He looks about the office . . . at the old photographs . . .

RONNIE: Harry, what year is it, man? We enter a time warp? I feel like I'm back in Hollywood of yesteryear.

Harry waves them right into the two cracked red leather chairs facing the desk. Chili watches as Catlett comes first. Sitting down, he nods to Chili who ignores him.

HARRY: Have a seat . . . right over here . . .

Ronnie sits down in the chair and hooks one leg over the arm, swings it up and down, his motor running on some chemical. He too stares at Chili.

HARRY: This is my associate, Chili Palmer, who'll be working with me.

Harry already forgetting his instructions. Chili can't believe it. The limo guys nod to Chili and Chili nods back, trying to catch Harry's eye.

HARRY: I want to make sure there's no misunderstanding here. Despite rumors you might have heard, your investment in Freaks is as sound as the day you signed your participation agreement.

Ronnie has his face raised to the ceiling.

RONNIE: I can hear you, but where the fuck are you, man?

BO CATLETT: (looking at Chili) What I been wondering is where's he been.

RONNIE: Yeah, where've you been? We haven't heard from you lately.

Harry comes around to stand at one side of the desk, his back to the window . . .

HARRY: I've been off scouting locations. Interviewing actors in New York.

Chili's gaze moves from Ronnie the fool to Bo Catlett the dude, the man composed, elbows on the chair arms, his hands steepled in front of him.

HARRY: The main thing I want to tell you, the start date for Freaks is being pushed back a little, a few months.

Ronnie stops bouncing his leg.

RONNIE: A few months?

HARRY: Maybe longer. We need prep time.

RONNIE: Hey, Harry? Bullshit. We have an agreement with you, man.

HARRY: We're gonna make the picture. I've just got another project to do first, that's all. One I promised this guy years ago.

Chili shakes his head, he can't believe he's hearing this. Ronnie sits up straight.

RONNIE: I want to see your books, Harry. Show me where it is, a two with five zeroes after it in black and white, man. I want to see your books and your bank statements.

CHILI: Hey, Ronnie? Look at me.

Boom. Ronnie looks over. So does Bo Catlett for that matter.

CHILI: You have a piece of a movie, that's all. You don't have a piece of Harry. He told you we're doing another movie first. And that's the way it's gonna be.

RONNIE: Excuse me. But who the fuck are you?

CHILI: I'm the one telling you how it is. That's not too hard to figure out, is it?

Ronnie turns to Bo Catlett, the man not having moved or changed his expression the last few minutes.


Bo Catlett takes his time, gives it some thought. He looks at Harry . . .

BO CATLETT: What's this movie you're doing first?

CHILI: Harry, let me answer that.

Catlett looks at Chili again.

CHILI: But first I want to know who I'm talking to. Am I talking to you, or am I talking to him?

BO CATLETT: (beat, smiles) You can talk to me.

CHILI: That's what I thought. So let me put it this way

Now it's between them. The guy studies Chili, thinks about whether or not to make a move, when Harry steps in, reaches over the desk and picks up a script . . .

HARRY: This is the project, Mr. Lovejoy. I'm not trying to pull anything on you guys. This is it, right here.

Chili looks at Harry, wonders if there's a way to shut him up without punching him in the mouth.

RONNIE: Mr. Loveboy? What is it, Harry, a porno flick?

He reaches for the script. Harry backs away, holds the script to his chest. Bo Catlett notices this.

HARRY: It's nothing. It's fluff. Nothing you'd be interested in.

Bo Catlett eyes him a beat, then pushes out of his chair . . .

BO CATLETT: Harry, you think we go to see your movies? I've seen better film on teeth. Makes no difference to me which one our money's in. So how 'bout you take our twenty points out of Freaks and put 'em in this other one, Mr. Loverboy.

HARRY: I can't do it.

BO CATLETT: You positive about that?

HARRY: It's a different kind of deal.

Bo Catlett nods, gets up.

BO CATLETT: Okay. Then be good enough to hand us our money back, or you think about us coming in on this new one.

RONNIE: By Friday, man, or you're fuckin' dead as disco.

Ronnie opens his coat so that Harry can see a gun tucked in his belt . . .

RONNIE: You hear me?

Bo Catlett gives Ronnie a look.

BO CATLETT: Take your time, Harry. (closes Ronnie's jacket) We're not animals. Are we, Ronnie?

Bo Catlett glances once more at Chili then follows Ronnie out the door. Harry stares at the door a moment, senses Chili staring at him . . .

HARRY: What?

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