Quickflash: The original Star Wars trilogy (1977, 1980, 1983)

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The Random Remake
No remake here; it’s my unsolicited spec script for Star Wars Episode 7: A New Force

Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han (Harrison Ford) Solo travel with their teenage daughter to the lawless planet of Endor. With the vacuum created by the destruction of the Empire, the galaxy has turned into a loose connection of tribe planets, all battling among themselves for territory and power. Leia leads a nascent unification effort (a United Federation of Planets, if you will) and sought out representatives on Endor about a treaty. Endor is considered a savage but vital planet that, according to Alliance advisers, could be brought into the light with help from a democratic regime. Han, begrudgingly moving into senior citizen status, comes along, and so does their daughter Breha Solo (AnnaSophia Robb).

At the same time Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is teaching his twin son and daughter Ken (Jesse Plemons) and A-pel (Saoirse Ronan), respectively, the ways of the force in chosen remote isolation on Dagobah after the tragic death of the twins’ mother. A-pel pleads with Luke to help his sister in the reunification efforts but he declines, saying that his involvement in bringing down the Empire and his mastery of the Force have made him a god and he wants Leia and the people to help themselves, not rely on an aging wizard – plus he is constant heartache over the death of his wife.

Back on Endor, the Solos are attacked by a clan of warriors clad in costumes reminiscent of stormtroopers. Some in the mix wear dark robes and wield lightsabers. Leia, trained a little by Luke, uses a Force push and grab to fight her way out of the ambush. Han makes a joke about missing the action when a laser grenade destroys their convoy, killing him and Leia. Breha is captured by the clan.

Luke, sensing the disturbance in the Force, reluctantly decides to leave for Endor and rescue his niece. He and his faithful R2-D2 unit bring an old X-Wing fighter out of hiding. Luke is in agony over not being there for his extended family. Ken and A-pel prepare for the trip but Luke tells them to stay behind and that this journey is his alone to face.

Along the way to Endor, Luke skirmishes with other lawless planets, runs into a family of Hutts, etc. Lightspeed is not an option in the galaxy as warring planets have set traps and tolls along the way. By using their combined Force powers, Ken and A-pel hide from their father’s consciousness that they have run away from Dagobah and have been following him, bringing the family’s C3-PO droid with them.

On Endor, Luke makes his way into a temple and finds Breha, only to realize she has been possessed by the Dark Side. Breha, with dead eyes and stunning reflexes, is too much for Luke. She repeatedly talks of her “Sith master’s return.” “Who is your master,” a defeated, exasperated Luke asks. “Darth Afollo,” she responds, and a massive Force Ghost face (Lars Mikkelsen) appears surrounding the temple. Luke is spellbound, and Afollo talks of being the one who originally harnessed the Force and spread it to the population. He tells Luke that in order to cultivate the Force he had to nurture both a Light and Dark side, and that by striking down the Emperor, Luke created an imbalance that infected Afollo and forced him to the Dark Side. “There will always be two sides,” Afollo says. Ken and A-pel, who just arrive, look at each other.

Just then Breha strikes Luke down with a lightsaber blow to the chest. Luke’s body disappears and his empty robes fall to the floor. Ken and A-pel scream in anguish and attack Breha. Ken is full of rage as he fights his cousin; the Force Ghost of Afollo grows to consume the whole planet, causing it to destabilize. Ken is about to kill Breha when the Force voice of Luke pleads against it and A-pel stops him, dragging him away from the crumbling earth. Breha is about to fall into a newly created crevice but Afollo levitates her and forces her again on her cousins. Ken and A-pel loosen their attack stances and instead meditate, combining their Force powers mentally against Afollo. They break his hold on Breha, who collapses. Afollo, enraged, then summons a team of neo-Sith in the Stormtrooper-like outfits, whom the twins have to fight and defeat before reaching their ship with Breha in tow, the planet disintegrating. The three return to Dagobah, and summon Luke’s Force Ghost, who tell the trio this is now their fight. Roll credits.

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Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

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Original plot
A no-holds-barred P.I. gets into an incendiary case when a naked dame in a trench coat flags down his hot rod.

Big thoughts
I wonder if you could write a whole essay on this flick being the bridge between classic and modern cinema, what with the controversy around it and the shift to 60s cinema. The pacing and camera work are totally old-school while the effects and the setpieces are better than anything prior to 1955. But for now you’ll just have to settle for a half-baked remake.

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The Random Remake
Michael Hammer (Samuel L. Jackson) is a retired cop whose years of aggressive detective work are showing. He’s moody, cantankerous. He didn’t make a lot of friends on the force due to his old-school nature and tendency to work outside the lines. Now too old to be on the beat but too much of a loose cannon to be at a desk, Hammer has taken to artificially spiking his adrenaline. This comes in the form of fast cars and hard living. It’s on one of his coastal drives in a vintage Shelby Cobra that he swerves to miss a woman staggering in the road. He picks her up and she tells him she’s Christina Bailey (Lucy Hale) and that she’s on the run but can’t tell him why. In a mysterious tone she asks him to take her to a bus station. “If I make it to the station forget about me. If I don’t, remember me.” Just then two cars speed to catch up to Michael’s car and smash into, sending it careening into a ditch. A pair of white sneakers walks up to taunt Michael. Michael is sent to the hospital while Christina ends up in the morgue.

Soon everyone in town is after Michael, including the police and local hoodlums. Against the police’s orders, Michael decides to investigate Christina, breaking hearts and arms along the way. He has to shake off tails from shadowy government vehicles, slap around a few people for information, and evade attempts on his life. One of the leads is Christina’s friend Lilly (Claire Danes), who seems a little too neurotic too Michael. Lilly tells Michael her life is in danger and he takes care of her. The investigation’s strings lead to FBI agents saying Christina was an informant but Michael doesn’t have anything to add. Then he’s led to reports of a shady scientist. And then Michael deciphers a lyric of Christina’s favorite song “Kiss Me Deadly” about holding your secret inside yourself that leads him to discover the coroner found a key in Christina’s stomach that he held on to see if it was worth anything.

Michael finds the key is to a gym locker that contains a metal briefcase. Lilly begs Michael to open it but when he doesn’t she grabs his gun from a table and shoots him. She then calls for someone to come over, and it’s the white sneaker guy – a scientist at a research lab (John Slattery) who tells Lilly she did the right thing by returning the case to him. But Lilly decides to double-cross him and wants half of what’s in the case. The scientist says what’s in the case can’t be split and Lilly shots him dead. She opens the case against Michael’s pleas as Michael drags himself out of his apartment and pulls the fire alarm. Just as the building’s residents flee Lilly opens the case to a blinding light that encapsulates her in fire and blows up the house. The FBI agents turn up in Michael’s hospital room as he’s about to leave to needle him further about interfering with the case and saying they should take him into custody. “Arrest me?” Michael says. “Way I see it, you dipshits owe me an apartment.” The agents leave and Michael hobbles out of the hotel to his Cobra, driving along the California coast.

The pitch
Kiss Me Deadly: Finding the truth means not letting go

Next up: Sadie McKee (1934)

Torch Song (1953)

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Original plot
Joan Crawford plays a Joan Crawford-esque actress who ridicules, fires and then falls in love with a blind dude.

Big thoughts
Goddamnit there’s some kind of blackface scene in this stupid thing! Let me reiterate my platform that old movies need to have a BF rating warning unsuspecting users that said film contains blackface (“This movie has been rated BF for a putrid blackface scene; don’t watch on the bus at the 1-hour, 3-minute mark“). That plus the blind dude stuff – this might be the most offensive inoffensive movie ever made.

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The Random Remake
Jenny Stewart (Naomi Watts) is an obnoxious pop singer-turned-Hollywood starlet that everyone kowtows to on account of her movies being popular. We see her on magazine covers and be nice to fans on the street and give glowing interviews on glitzy shows such as Access Hollywood. But on the set she’s a terror and screams at everyone who she thinks isn’t up to her high standards (namely, everyone). She evens manages to have a grip fired for being too loud when arranging props on the soundstage.

We follow Jenny as she frowns her way through her life, contemptuously regarding everyone around her. The director of the movie, Joe (Dennis Quaid), begrudgingly follows her commands. Jenny is set to record a new song for the movie, and when she gets to the sound booth she’s in her typical mood. She starts to get ready when she notices a producer behind the mixing board, Tye Graham (Harold Perrineau), wearing sunglasses. She begins her standard rebuke – castigating the man for thinking he’s “too cool for the room.” Then she notices him feeling around with his hands, realizes he’s blind, and further goes into a tirade. “I thought we were getting the best, not this charity case.”

Jenny and Tye reluctantly agree to work together after she hears Tye’s arrangement and deems it up to her standards. We learn the reason behind his blindness (an IED in Afghanistan) and see that Tye isn’t afraid of Jenny – in fact he gives her direction and critiques that others in her sphere don’t dare to. The two become closer and eventually give up on their respective significant others. “I feel like you know me,” Jenny says to Tye, “even though we just met.” “But we haven’t,” Tye answers, and gives her a copy of the first CD Jenny recorded – the one that made her a huge hit. Tye’s name is on the CD. He produced one of her major hits before he went into the military and Jenny never even bothered to learn his name or remember his face she was so superficial. Jenny starts to see the error of her ways when Tye confesses another surprise: He wrote the film’s signature track as a love song (a torch song, if you will) for his secret love: her. He can see the best of her that even she can’t see in herself. Fade to black as the two end up in each other’s arms.

The pitch
Torch Song: Who can see what we really are?

Next up: Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

It’s a Great Feeling (1949)

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Original plot
Two Hollywood hucksters try to turn country girl Doris Day into the next big thing.

Big thoughts
Edward G. Robinson! Joan Crawford! Ronald Reagan! and two male leads I’ve never heard of before. Also, how do you go 40 minutes before Doris Day starts singing in your movie?

The Random Remake
Anne Hathaway (Anne Hathaway) wants to direct a movie. Great, the studio says! Starring Anna Kendrick (Anna Kendrick), Anne says. Great, the studio says! A big, grand musical, Anne says. Hold on there, the studio says. See, Anne’s idea is to bring back the Technicolor musicals, with random interludes of singing, etc. But the studios don’t want to finance it. “Come back when you’re a superhero” they say.

Anne and Anna are about to dash their hopes when they hear a barista, Jason Adams (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), singing along with making orders in a Los Angeles coffee shop. Jay’s from rural Wisconsin and came out to LA to sing but gave it up when he got no breaks. The two create a plan to turn Jamie into a star and use their movie to do so. First they have to sell him on acting, which takes some convincing. Then they have to sell him on the movie, which takes some convincing. Then they try to sell him on each as a love interest – which takes a lot of convincing.

Thus ensues Hollywood hijinks as the trio try to arrange financing by staging impromptu sing-alongs in front of producers they hassle in restaurants, at parties, etc. We get cameos, flash mobs, etc. Anne and Anna throw themselves at Jay, to varying degrees of success. The trio breaks off their attempts, and Jay says he’s going back to Wisconsin to patch things up with his ex, Jamie Bushdinkle. Anne/Anna finally arrange to convince the mother of a powerful Hollywood producer (Doris Day) to put pressure on her son to back the movie. At the end of the movie, just as Anne/Anna fly off to Wisconsin to tell Jay the good news they interrupt him proposing to his supposed countrified high school sweetheart – Jamie Bushdinkle (George Clooney).

The pitch
It’s a Great Feeling: And they said musicals were dead!

Next up: Torch Song (1953)