Cassidy’s Girl, a 1950's bestseller, set on the backstreets of poverty torn America, where hopeless despair and alcoholism rules. James Cassidy, first a WWII pilot, then an airline captain and dashing New York playboy, his glory ripped out from under him when his plane went down.
New Orleans, 1954: James Cassidy, former WWII bomber pilot, NY Playboy has fallen from grace. Cassidy now drives a crummy bus and gages his time by long, lusty nights of fighting, drinking, and violent sex, with his wife Mildred, a true creole tramp with anger as deep as Cassidy’s. They are perfectly suited to one another, living on the side of the tracks where no one gives a damn. Tonight, Cassidy arrives home to find Mildred wanting a change, so after he rapes her, she leaves him for the arms of an overweight traveling salesman, Haney Kenrick, who flashes his wad of cash as often as his glistening smile. Cassidy follows her to the local bar, where he picks up Doris, a sometime burlesque dancer. First, he beats up Kenrick, then leaves with Doris.
Convinced he is finally in love, he embarks on a clean new life. His bus serenely makes the journey to Baton Rouge, and he returns to the arms of Doris. Meanwhile, Mildred is miserable both by her husbands’ happiness and the lack of passion she feels for Kenrick. Kenrick, desperate to win over Mildred, begins a series of attacks which ultimately cause Cassidy’s bus to crash, killing all aboard except the two men. After Kenrick successfully frames him, and after the police chase him through the swamps and fury of the lower Mississippi basin, Cassidy is left a fugitive on the lam, wanted for the vehicular homicide of his 26 dead passengers. His friends arrange transportation on a freighter to South Africa, but before the boat can leave port, Mildred finds him and knocks him out in a fight over Doris.
Cassidy awakens in room over the local bar, trapped by police searches of the area. Convinced that Mildred has engineered the entire scenario, his hatred for her reaches a boiling point. But, when she makes her reappearance, his lust for her rekindles, and the two fall back into each other’s arms. Cassidy awakens alone, and conflicted. He ultimately cannot believe in his love for Mildred, so he decides to make a break for freedom, alone.
During his escape, however, he witnesses ‘the bum’s court’ over Kenrick, where his friends press Kenrick to confess his treachery to the police. Mildred threatens Kenrick with a knife. In a sudden twist, Kenrick rips the knife away, and seconds before he uses it, Cassidy rescues her. This moment of passion causes Cassidy to realize Mildred is really his true love.
Cassidy’s Girl is about a man’s unconscious quest to find himself, and the hell he must endure to face up to it. Cassidy’s odyssey begins with fear and disgust. Blaming his wife, he can only find sexual release through violence. He is too selfish to realize her need for him is mixed with love, and only after a deep epiphany can he discover the truth within their relationship. All the action and anguish he suffers through the story is a mere prelude to this defining moment. This is our source author's only ‘happy ending’. It comes unsentimentally, and hits you like a brick, turning on a dime in the last minute.
The story moves with an unconscious psychological force. Cassidy cannot be defeated. He’ll take all the punches life gives him, and he lives with no answers, no questions asked. He is the quintessential existential hero. This undercurrent is crucial to the exposition. The visuals and handling of memories are key elements to delving into his psyche, and will transform the piece from a mere action flick to a deliberation on human will.
Beyond theme, the visuals will mirror the pulp cover art: a strong vibrant oversaturated color pallet, reflecting the periods’ color scheme. Mustard yellow, Moss Green, Cerylian blues, Chinese red, Deep rose, Peachy fleshtones, and dense Blacks will be roughly drawn, but intensely focused. Wide angle will orient us into the surroundings, and emphasize their inert claustrophobia and loneliness.
First Person camera is a devise to be used from the bus crash until the escape from the police, to show Cassidy has entered a new unreal world, and is hyperfocused on his current reality. We will be forced to see his world, his beliefs, and to be part of it. This drives the power of the switch ending even more.
Flashback and memory are key devises. I intend to show memory as blinks of the eye, where images shoot quickly and strangely (black and white, out of time sync.), and reappear in staccato flash cuts until they become clear. When a human remembers an event, he sees in flashes triggered by the senses, a smell he recognizes, a sound, or maybe a hand or photograph. These memory triggers uphold particular significance to me, and I feel are key to story development.
Cassidy also has a fertile imagination. His fantasies are detailed studies of pulp cover art, not surprising coming from our source author. They are fun diversions from the otherwise direct story line and add another dimension to the piece. These are also handled as flashbacks even though they may be in the future or past.
Not since the 1950’s has this source material been produced in English(nearly a dozen films exist), which is unfortunate because this writer has the depth of Harold Pinter, the eloquence of Tennessee Williams and is as powerful as Elmore Leonard ever was. Whatever the reasons for his obscurity, he remains a luminary in noir fiction and deserves current film.
JAMES CASSIDY, doesn’t ask questions or have any answers. 36, he possesses a compact stocky muscular frame; dark, grey eyes; a nose broken twice; red leathery skin, and dark hair. He is now a functional alcoholic, though he was a collegiate scholar and football player(guard). Cassidy became a WWII war hero(Bomber Captain), and star Commercial Pilot(until the unfortunate crash of his high profile plane, for which he was wrongly blamed). His career over, he plummeted into a downward spiral which ultimately landed him in New Orleans as a small time bus driver for a crummy 3 bus operation based on Tchoupitoulas Street.
Sexually obsessed with his wife, he thinks in fundamentals because everything else is too complicated. He needs his job in order to have any kind of life direction, the bus being the one constant which enables him some degree of control. He is angry about the injustices life has dealt him, yet he hopes he can change his fate. He drinks heavily, to calm down, or to fuel his anger. He likes to fight, which he uses as a catharsis.
When he faces his greatest challenges, he retreats into flashbacks and fantasies for his future, which reveal his deep sense of hope against all odds. Ironically, these tragedies cause him to find his inner voice, and ultimately allow him an emotional epiphany that gives him his life back.
MILDRED CASSIDY, Jim’s Wife of four years, 32, works as a hairdresser and drinker. She is a cheap Cajun slut with a bodacious body, who can pack a mean punch, and isn’t afraid to use either. She is an even match for Cassidy, and treasures the violent sexual relationship they have. Her long raven black hair, long legs, large breasts, which she uses like weapons, her ample shapely ass, slim waist, luscious red lips, and dark brandy colored eyes with long lashes indicate her intense passion. They are compelled to be with one another. She exerts an outwardly dominant, tough presence, yet inwardly she has a need to be conquered, as only Cassidy can take her. She can be possessive, fierce, strong, and stubborn. She seems self involved and thrill-crazy, but she ultimately realizes how much she loves her husband, and she finally will do anything to make the marriage succeed.
HANEY KENRICK, 43, Cassidy’s nemesis, who desperately craves Mildred, sells merchandise door to door on the installment plan (very successfully). He weighs in at over 200 pounds, mostly blubber, stands 5’11”, has a fat shiny face, sparse light brown hair (greased down), and likes to wear loud, hard pressed, cheap suits with shoes polished like enamel. He spends his free time at Lundy’s bar, which is located near the small rooming house where he lives. He hangs out there so he can be the big man, flashing money around. He needs the ego gratification and the sense of superiority it gives him. He needs Mildred for these same reasons, but beyond everything else, he must satisfy his intense singular desire which now rules his life. Mildred taunts and teases him, but will not allow him the sexual release he hopes for.
DORIS, 27 years old, a sometime burlesque dancer at the Shim-Sham Club on Bourbon Street. She is frail, small breasted, ninety eight pounds, blond hair, an angelic air, is a hard-core alcoholic, drinking herself to death. From war-torn Europe, she married and moved to Nebraska, where she was responsible for the fire which consumed her husband and children. She will never escape her bloody past. She has a short-lived affair with Cassidy, which brings her a temporary hope for redemption, but ultimately, her guilt and dependency issues prove too strong, and she returns to her downward cycle.
PAULINE, Spann’s girlfriend, thin, small, firm breasts, secretly lusts after Cassidy. She likes to tell it like it is, and she can spot bullshit a mile off. She likes to gossip and meddle in people’s lives. She also drinks heavily, and has for most of her life. She loves to provoke Spann to the point of violence, with her sarcastic verbal battery She is a professional bum, who can always get a free drink or cigarette. Her personal style could be termed a celebrated wacky.