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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    One Week Challenge    July 08 One Week Challenge  ›  The Ballad of Uncle Sam
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  Author    The Ballad of Uncle Sam  (currently 4498 views)
Don
Posted: July 26th, 2008, 9:45am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Ballad of Uncle Sam: An Anarchistís Medley by Bryan Mora - (Pignut Hickory) - Short, Drama - Grown weary to the established order of society, a man introduces a motivating idea of his very own in perilous ways. - pdf, format


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Revision History (1 edits)
Don  -  August 5th, 2008, 3:51pm
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Breanne Mattson
Posted: July 26th, 2008, 1:01pm Report to Moderator
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Iím sorry. I just couldnít get past thinking of the Joker from Batman here. Youíve got a guy in white face paint robbing a bank and tossing out one liners. One line, for example; ďI like that,Ē just instantly made me think of the Joker. And I just couldnít shake the comparison.

The script is written well enough. And I can usually shake off comparisons to other characters because Iíve been around long enough to know that a lot of characters are really similar. But the Ripper practically IS the Joker with a slightly modified name.

I couldnít get past it. Sorry.

On a technical note, I found it difficult  to buy that SWAT team officers barge into a bank full of hostages and fire weapons and throw grenades. The hostages seem to be forgotten until the firefight is over. None of the robbers try to use a hostage for leverage. I donít know; I just didnít buy it.

This one was just okay for me.


Breanne


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stebrown
Posted: July 27th, 2008, 11:58am Report to Moderator
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I enjoyed reading this, it was pretty action-packed. Although, I see where Breanne is coming from with the Joker comparison I still liked his character. He wasn't so similar that it affected the story for me.

I didn't see the relevance of the quote either -- it's a bank not a post-office -- and what wouldn't they believe and why? Didn't make any sense to me that.

What did affect the story was the believability of the end. That's not how this situation would finish and I kind of felt a bit robbed of an exciting climax. Build-up was great and I thought Ripper had a lot of depth.

I'd love to see a rewrite that has an ending that does the build-up justice and maybe some character development for someone else -- as this all kind of hung on Ripper -- I'd have liked to have seen someone for him to play off.

Well written and a breeze to read. I think you should have had O.S not V.O at the start though.

Ste


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pwhitcroft
Posted: July 27th, 2008, 2:44pm Report to Moderator
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I think I understand what you are trying to do with this - a kind of high impact monologue told by a strong character in exceptional circumstances. If that is your objective you are brave to even attempt it because they either hit the right note or go down in grenadey bulletty flames. In this case I think you made a nice effort but ended up with the flames.

Having said that you have much of what you need to nail this but youíd need to rework the background story and really strengthen the monologue element to make this work.


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Higgonaitor
Posted: July 28th, 2008, 3:41am Report to Moderator
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Hey friend.

I agree with Breanne.  It seems like you were a big fan of tdk and couldn't let the jokers character go.

I'd overlook it, but it's difficult as this piece is built on that character.  It seemed to me, while reading this, that every other action, every other line of dialogue, from every other character was just a set up for the jo- um, the ripper.  While it is difficult to be detailed with more than one or two characters in a 15 page drama, and that a really good strategy is to explore the mind of a single character and have him reach some sort of epiphany, it doesn't mean you don't need to work at all on the other characters.  They all seemed so fake that it took away from really experiencing the rippers thoughts.

So my advice is to work on the characters: the bank executive, the swat agent, brains, and possibly even the accomplice.  It will really round out this piece.

Also, this one will seem more original in a few months when the Joker buzz has gone down.

One more thing ishow you just sort of tossed in the post office line.  that sort of bugged me, it didn't fit at all.


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Moroh
Posted: July 28th, 2008, 5:00am Report to Moderator
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Saw all the Joker complaints but I haven't seen "Dark Knight" yet (shame on me huh?), so i figured I could maybe give a more objective review.

- However, most of my thoughts were already echoed by other posts.

- Ripper character was okay for me.  Had some interesting things to say.  Could have just ditched the make-up aspect and it would have helped diminish the Joker connection.

- Agree that the swat invasion was far fetched.  Could have entered the bank in a more creative (and more responsible) way.

- Also agree that another main character would have been helpful.  Take the load of Ripper to carry the whole story.  Maybe do a little more with the SWAT team as they assemble and assess the situation.  Maybe the leader of the SWAT team knows the Ripper and how dangerous he can be.  He could be used to reveal things about the Ripper's character without having to explain everything through the Ripper's long speeches.

- Very anti-climatic resolution.  Ripper built up throughout the story but in the end he comes off as just some blowhard who is weak and easily defeated.

- Honestly got the feeling that this was something bigger you were working on and crammed it down to fit the challenge. (post office line definately forced in there)  Or maybe you just had an idea about the Ripper and threw some story around him just to allow him to speak.

- Overall, I didn't completely dislike the piece.  The action was told well and I can tell you have an understanding of appropriate screenplay language.  Based on your dialogue, you are obviously a thoughtful person with some things to say, just think you need a better story to bring your Ripper idea to life.

Peace    


"Who am I to judge and strike you down?" -- Tool
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Blakkwolfe
Posted: July 28th, 2008, 8:50pm Report to Moderator
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Like the opening scene, moving from the happy family into the bank...The writing was good, if not a little over poetic...Only in the movies do bank robbers wax philosophical with their hostages, However, Ripper does wax well...

Pet Peeve: Accomplices should have thier own names and distinct characteristics, according to the Henchman'S Union. Brains gets a name, cause he's the techno-geek that always has to crack the code in these kinds of pictures...But the others...Just expendable red shirts, i guess...

Liked the response to the guys at the post office line...He does have some good lines...
(It's never any fun until you hear those words...)

Good action sequences, too as the swat team moves in and takes down team Ripper.

It seemed a stretch that he was a criminal only to support his daughter...Surely he's smart enough to know that he wouldn't do her any good being in jail...More so he's just a maniac who is into for the thrills more than the money.

Overall, good job. Liked it.


Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently - Dove Chocolate Wrapper
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bobtheballa
Posted: July 29th, 2008, 12:13am Report to Moderator
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As everyone else mentioned, the first thing I thought of while reading this was The Joker.

Overall I really liked the story though, I think it has a lot of potential. It was well written, enjoyable to read and I think you pulled off the "one character narrating the whole thing" bit better than everyone else has given you credit for.

I wasn't too big on the use of the line, it definitely felt like a throw-in (the only thing I could think of to connect it was that maybe he used to be a post office worker before he started robbing banks, but then he said something about counting other peoples' change).

Also I wasn't a big fan of the use of the grenade by the swat team. Realistically I would think that would be too dangerous with hostages involved and I think it would make more sense if it was changed to a smoke bomb.
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Takeshi
Posted: July 29th, 2008, 8:11am Report to Moderator
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This was an enjoyable read. I thought the Ripper was an insightful character who obviously suffered from the same type of depression as me. LOL

But seriously, the dialogue had me mesmerized and worked in well with the action as it unfolded. I laughed at the Olsen and choir lines and I thought the insights into the soul destroying nature of mundane work were good, as were the insights on parenting.

As for the similarities with the Joker, that wasn't really an issue for me. In fact while I was reading it I actually started thinking about that Bill Murray heist movie where he dressed liked a clown and then took of his make up and pretended to be hostage.

SPOILER WARNING

When the cops came I thought the Ripper was acting calm because he had something up his sleeve that was going to help him escape and I was waiting for it to happen, so I was pleasantly surprised when it didn't turn out that way.

You nailed the theme (assuming that his crappy old job was in a post office ) and the genre, but more importantly you wrote an entertaining story. Well done.
      
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sniper
Posted: July 29th, 2008, 8:15am Report to Moderator
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This has Joker written all over it. I won't go as far as calling you a copycat, though it would be so easy, but a guy with face paint robbing a bank while spewing all sorts crazy dialogue? Well...you're just asking for it.

Not much of a story here. If you take out all of The Joker's, um, Ripper's rambling, all you have is a bank robbery gone sour with the ever so predictable outcome.

This is The Dark Knight meets Dog Day Afternoon, and it doesn't really fit.


Down in the hole / Jesus tries to crack a smile / Beneath another shovel load
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Takeshi
Posted: July 29th, 2008, 8:22am Report to Moderator
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Hahaha. Compare my review to Sniper's. Isn't it amazing how two people can look at the same thing and have a completly different take on it?
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sniper
Posted: July 29th, 2008, 8:28am Report to Moderator
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Just the way it should be, Chris


Down in the hole / Jesus tries to crack a smile / Beneath another shovel load
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mcornetto
Posted: July 30th, 2008, 5:20am Report to Moderator
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Definitely inspired by the most recent Batman movie.  Even down to the whinging.  

You did ok with it, there is definitely some good stuff inside.  But, I think it was a bit uneven.  Initially you should be building continous tension.  You built tension then you let it slide as the Joker whinged on.  Then you built it up again.  The result was that when the big bang hit the tension level was minimal when you could have had me on the edge of my seat.  

I think you let the Joker go on too much about himself.  It made him weaker than he could have been.  And that guy you kill, the one before the big bang, maybe it would be better to wait until the bang happens and make him the first victim.  Because you killed him tension was released and that was tension you really wanted to build on when that grenade came down the duct.  

Anyway,  it wasn't bad, definitely inspired by Batman, but an interesting take on it anyhow.
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Sandra Elstree.
Posted: July 30th, 2008, 6:16pm Report to Moderator
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This is a well written script. It doesn't have any real technical flaws except a few typos.

One thing that felt off:

When The Band Executive is "In tears" I just don't feel it was a good choice here.

What I can offer here is only that if your surface writing such as what is exhibited here, remains good and consistent and you develop the characters, your writing will be at a very high level.

My job here is to critique; so what I'm going to do is make some suggestions, not because there's much basicallywrong with this, but in order to promote the move to that next level.

When I was reading this, I felt like I was in "The Dark Night" script and Ripper was "The Joker". Ripper's dialogue was written perfectly for the kind of bad guy he'd turned into.

Ripper, just like Conrad, in "Delivery", gives "the big talk," "the bad guy spiel" and I think it works: In movies, it works. It might be considered a screenwriter's sin, but "dems da breaks, eh Brains? Gotta wave doze guns and knives around, 'splain the reason 'round i dall."

It does, it works. It might not be a deep and serious film style, but it works.

What I'm trying to think of here, is how you can raise the stakes in this. How maybe you can make people care more about the villain in this.

What if his daughter, has been dragged into this bank heist? And she is shouting "No! Dad! Please!"

What if we see this Ripper character before he flips out? Does the girl need surgery? Is she on a waiting list? Does Ripper want to take her on her dream trip before she dies? Any of these possibilities might make Ripper into more than he currently is. You might even give a credible reason for why he's called "Ripper".

I liked some of the raw humor in this: Like the way you used the line:

The guys at the post office are never gonna believe this!

And then:

Wait! I killed the guys at the Post Office!

My feeling about this script is that it lives up to what it was intended for.

It's not meant to be a deep film. It feels like it's got a comic edge to it and I have a guess who the writer is.

Excellent job!!!!

Sandra





A known mistake is better than an unknown truth.
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CindyLKeller
Posted: July 31st, 2008, 9:35am Report to Moderator
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I loved this dialogue: A good theif is a master of body language. and you - you're just screaming for attention.

I think this script has a lot going for it, and was quite good for a OWC, but it still needs some more work.

When I read the part about the granade, I was like what?
What if the cops and SWAT killed a hostage?

Yes, I think this one needs some tweaking. Get some more into the bank robbers head. Maybe get into some of the hostages heads, too.

My two cents,
Cindy


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