Summer simmers on, but we're nice and cool and climate controlled down here in the archives. Let the actors enjoy their vacations! They're just going to miss my favorite all time scene...of scenes I've written. It's from a movie I wrote called Cast a Deadly Spell, a film noir detective picture based on the premise that H.P. Lovecraft and Raymond Chandler once collaborated on a story set in an alternative 1948 where magic and witchcraft are commonplace.
This script was written in an un-air conditioned apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens while I was working as an office temp and couldn't get arrested as a writer. I wrote it for personal encouragement as much as I did in the hope of getting it made. I needed a hero, an example, a ragged knight who'd speak truth to power...so I blended the worlds of two favorite authors and invented H. Phillip Lovecraft, private eye, then filled his personal mean streets with all manner of demons and amused myself through a hot summer of writing.
The film was made eight years after I wrote it, and this scene appears in the movie exactly as it did in the first draft. Remarkable.
Phil Lovecraft takes the case of a millionaire with a missing book and a misbehaving daughter. Things get personal when the clues lead him to a beautiful woman from his past, a night-club singer named Connie Stone. There's a lot of unfinished business between these two and plenty of residual heat when Connie shows up late one night in Phil's office.
Julianne Moore as femme fatale and nightclub canary, Connie Stone.
Fred Ward as the hard-boiled gumshoe, Phil Lovecraft
Handwritten Theatre: Summer Bonus Track #2
Performed by Fred Ward and Julianne Moore
Running Time: 6:36
Cast a Deadly Spell was made in the early 90s, and last year it was selected for screenings at The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon where I got to see the picture with an audience for the first time in more than a decade. The hard-boiled detective I invented to remind myself how important it is to keep the promises you make in hot Queens apartments is still out there, still fighting the good fight, cracking wise and taking a punch, and never giving up.
Cast a Deadly Spell hasn't been released on DVD, but there are still VHS copies hanging around out there.