Twenty-four Story Lines, by William Dale Jennings
a collection of stories, scripts, screenplays, and more
Left to the Tangent Group by William Dale Jennings
The following list was discovered on a floppy disk that Jennings left to the care of the HIC Archives. The source file is dated Oct. 29, 1993. The full screenplays of these story lines are available in the HIC Archives, in West Hollywood, CA.
All budget notes are based on William Dale Jennings estimates before 1995. We have included them to preserve the history and authenticity of the works of WDJ, but advised that all productions be recalculated for today’s dollars.
Budget 3 million plus two stars.*
A disastrous coincidence starts the ball rolling. In two upper middle-class homes miles apart two couples that haven’t yet met are having their usual bicker for breakfast. Because both women are thoroughly contemporary, they blame their husbands’ view points on male chauvinism, and the husbands look on everything their wives say as sheer Women’s Lib. Thus the husband of one pair and the wife of the other are in no mood to be crossed as they get in their cars and start for work. The freeways are jammed. Our two drivers refuse to use them and decide to wing it by using side streets and intuition.
They find themselves at opposite sides of a vast field on a one-lane road heading for a steep hill in the middle. They step on the gas and meet head-on in a cloud of dust an inch apart. The hill is so steep that it offers only two alternatives, but the lady refuses to back up and the gentleman refuses to back down. They work themselves up to the point where both are determined not to budge an inch.
Hiking cross country, they phone to their offices. Her boss, a woman, says, “Don’t for an instant give in, dear!” and his boss shouts, “Don’t give an inch, my boy! I married one of them myself.” The antagonists are pleased when these bosses arrive with picnic lunches and back-slapping. Everyone is mistakenly pleased when the media move in. It is a classic confrontation between Male and Female to both local and national newspapers and TV.
A carnival moves in with balloons, flags, banners, stickers and noisemakers, pink for the women and blue for the men. Around the world, husbands and wives discuss the problem and end up shooting, stabbing and divorcing one another. Famous people make pungent and emotional comments. There are sweepstakes, copycat confrontations, cartoons and stand-up comic wisecracks. Everybody puts in two cents’ worth.
The two antagonists begin to get embarrassed and then chagrined at the luxurious tents and outing equipment donated, the banquets, the glee clubs and cheerleaders who serenade them, the vaudeville shows on a fully equipped stage and the idiotic arguments put forth by their own constituents. The two break all the rules and talk secretly. They are surprised to find one another kind, considerate and attractive people. They fall in love.
It begins to rain hard. They get shovels and encourage a landslide which rolls both cars through the carnival, then they take off for parts unknown.
After Mama dies, the old man invites his divorced daughter and her children to move in with him. He loves the company of young people and the house is big enough for everybody—except him. After denting a couple of his daughter’s fenders and making too many social appearances with his fly open, she sends him off to a retirement home which combines all the delights of a P.O.W. camp and a gerontologist’s waiting room.
He is outraged at everything about it except an orderly named Jerry. The young fellow is a better listener than talker, and quite willing to smuggle in schnapps for the old man and place bets for him. They have great fantasies about what they’d do with the money and live on the hopes that that weekly dollar buys.
They are put to the test when the old man wins thirty million dollars in the lottery. Unable to claim the money himself because he knows his daughter would confiscate the whole thing, he gives the ticket to Jerry with the agreement that they’ll split the yearly 300 thousand and when the old man dies the remainder will be Jerry’s.
The old man is stunned when Jerry doesn’t come back. The big adventure begins when the angry old man sets out to find the young rascal. With the police following to take him back to the home, he does some slick hiding and develops a following of thieves who want a piece of the action and a few real friends who want to protect him from the thieves. A series of close calls takes him to Las Vegas where Jerry is just spending the last of the first installment. Jerry is truly repentent but unable to do anything about it when snatched by the worst thief of all, a scheming beauty who wants to marry him and keep him as a permanent hostage. With everyone in town after them, the pair steals a scooter and zooms through all of the better casinos.
They seek refuge back at the retirement home where they only have to wait ten more months for the next installment.
Little Mrs. Moffatt barely makes it on her Social Security checks, which are static while prices are upwardly mobile.
She is irritated at the well-dressed shoppers who eat their way through the market in addition to shoplifting little nicknacks to give their days a bit of zing. Talking to a cart collector, she finds that the store pays over $1.50 apiece for each cart returned to the store. He remarks that he makes two thousand a month from one apartment house alone.
Mrs. Moffatt is incensed and begins mentioning this to the people she sees making off with carts. They tell her that the store expects them to borrow the carts, that their use has nothing to do with grocery prices and suggest that she drop dead at her earliest opportunity. She goes to the store manager and asks him why they don’t carry out their threat to prosecute shopping-cart thieves and is told they don’t want to alienate their customers.
“You prefer to simply add the loss to the cost of groceries so that the majority of honest customers pays for the thefts of the few?” He protests heatedly: “I didn’t say we did that!” and she replies, “Is this a business or a charitable institution?”
In no time, the little lady has alienated people on both sides of the fence. She discovers a third side when she passes out little slips explaining how customer dishonesty contributes to higher prices. Honest folk commend her and say, “I wish I had your guts, Mam.”
The cart thieves are furious at being called dishonest. They start fights. Pairs of old men and women haul off. Mrs. Moffatt is knocked about by a little gang of teenaged girls: “Cut the crap, Granny, or we’ll really work you over.” She is rescued by some boys who, outnumbered, are roughed up by the girls.
The incident gets on the news. Mrs. Moffatt states her case in an interview and starts a furor. The Board of the supermarket chain is horrified and offers to pay her to stop “agitating.” She describes their offer on TV.
The next time she shops, store detectives plant an expensive item in her pocket and arrest her for shoplifting. She is outraged and vocal. Her constituents rescue her in a small riot, and the store backs down. She organizes a picket line demanding prosecution of shopping chiselers like any other thieves. The store brings in box-boys from another community to break it up. During the ruckus, the shoplifters go wild. They are mobbed.
Little Mrs. Moffatt detests violence and leaves the scene. She declares on television that she washes her hands of the whole thing.
War is declared as the first fruit is thrown in the produce department. Merchandise is smashed. Never have combatants had so much fun. The store is burned to the ground.
Accused of being behind the whole thing, Mrs. Moffatt is mobbed. In the hospital, she is approached by a wealthy trio that wants her to head a committee for honest shopping at a handsome salary. They smack of management. She says quietly, “Up yours…and yours…and yours.”