The Curmudgeon


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Hollywood Tales

...teeth clenched, his eyes bloodshot and protruding, he was carried out in a basket and never heard of again.

Meanwhile, back at Elasmobranch Studios, the notorious Samuel P Grumbarger had ousted his father Phineas as Acting Vice-Chairman of Creative Processes, thanks to a hideous scandal involving several dozen oysters and the starlet Mercedes Bent.* Young Samuel immediately commissioned several pet projects which he had been hoarding for decades beneath the floorboards of the broom cupboard to which his father had relegated him in 1896. Among these projects was, of course, an early fifty-seventh draft of what was eventually to become the musical Vlad the Impaler.

At this point the project had not reached the script stage, existing solely as a "treatment" or rough summary which was sketched out in stick figures and isolated camera movements on the inside front flap of a dismembered cornflakes packet. The writer, Mircea Mutilescu, was a chronic alcoholic and cornflake addict who died of cereal haemorrhage seven years before shooting began. His contribution to the finished product was, in any event, negligible.

Further delays ensued from the continued interference of the elder Grumbarger, who had not only been removed from his powerful self-created post, but had been further humiliated by being assigned a broom cupboard not even at the studios, but in a small pizza parlour some nine blocks down the road. Many Elasmobranch executives felt that this was something of a political error by Samuel P Grumbarger, especially when the embittered and violent Phineas took to appearing at the studio gates armed with a brace of anchovies with which he threatened anyone who got in his way.

In order to work Mutilescu's treatment into a proper screenplay, Samuel Grumbarger hired the famous husband-and-dog team of Molesworth and Murgatroyd, who at that time were fresh from their success with the silent film Deaf in Venice. Regrettably, owing to the decay of the original film stock, almost nothing survives of this extremely successful film apart from a few publicity stills and the second-best trousers of one of the extras. Interestingly enough, this same extra went on to work as a waldolly grip configuration bestgaff puller on several hundred productions for Elasmobranch's great rival, Stickweed Studios.

Molesworth and Murgatroyd had first come to prominence as Hollywood's most successful husband-and-dog writing team almost fifteen years earlier, with their four hundred and nineteenth collaboration, Is That a Panavision Lens or Are You Just Pleased To See Me, which anticipated not only what Foucault was later to call the Postmodern Self-Referential Bullshit Boom, but the invention of the Panavision lens itself. After the resounding success of this film, which caused the most awful...

* The story is of course extremely well known. What is less generally known is that Mercedes Bent was actually a pseudonym, the lady's original name being Minnie Cooper.


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