Arliss Coates: Why did you shoot Rosemary? Travis Coates: She was sick. Arliss Coates: Well, you were sick. How come we didn’t shoot you? Travis Coates: That was different. —Old Yeller
I have two alternate plotlines for classic movies. I’ve been sitting on them for a while. I thought I’d take this time to share them with you. One of them is darker than the original; the other is lighter so yin-yang and all that rot. The affected movies would be Old Yeller and Sophie’s Choice. If you’ve yet to see these movies. Do so now. If you can. My guess is you probably can’t or you would’ve by now. Regardless, this post contains spoilers. There’s nothing worse than spoilers. I’ll never forget the time someone ruined The Passion of The Christ for me by telling me how it ended…how do you kill-off the main character? Anyhow…I’m rambling. He landed on his feet, he now fights crime preemptively on CBS.
I don’t remember the whole of the movie Old Yeller, but I do recall that it was about a boy and the dog he loved. The dog’s name was Old Yeller. He was yellow. At first the boy doesn’t accept Yeller, but the dog’s persistence pays off, when–in the midst of a dangerous encounter with a bear–Yeller turns from scamp to hero. It is then that you realize you too have fallen for this lovable loser. Enter the rabid wolf. It comes about that the boy and his family realize that their cow has rabies which escalates into a situation where-in Yeller must protect the boy from a rabid wolf. In the midst of the scuffle Yeller contracts the disease. These events lead to the point where the boy must shoot the dog he loves in order to protect his family. In this we all witness the boy’s first step into manhood. Which is every boy’s first clue that manhood just sucks.
My re-write is more compelling. It is also much darker. The story remains much the same, except for when the wolf scene happens we are left to wonder if Yeller contracted the disease. The boy is needed at another farm while the family puts Yeller on lock-down while they wait to see if the dog is okay. The boy leaves unsure of what the future holds for this lovable scamp. After a few days the boy returns home. His mother meets him at the edge of the property. She is holding a gun and she tells the boy that the news about Old Yeller is not good. He indeed has rabies and the boy needs to put him down. She tells him that she knows it is sad, but she didn’t want to be the one to put the dog out of its misery. She knew that the dog was too important to the boy. The boy takes the gun and heads toward the barn. The mother stays back and the audience sees a smile spread across her face. The boy goes into the barn as the mother heads toward the barn. She is walking quickly…still smiling. Off screen we hear the blast of the shotgun. The woman’s smile disappears and is replaced with a horrified look as she breaks into a run toward the barn. “It was just a joke!”, she screams as she careens through the doorway of the barn. “I wanted to surprise you that Yeller was okay!” “What did you do?”, the mother screams. The boy falls to his knees as the camera pans out and we are left to see the mother crying as the sobbing boy holds his dog.
I warned you…it is very dark. I’m not even sure how I feel about myself right now. But let’s lighten the mood. My re-write for Sophie’s Choice would not make sense in the context of the actual movie, but it would be brighter. Much brighter.
Sophie’s Choice is a movie about a woman named Sophie who is distant and unhappy. Eventually we find out that she was interned in Auschwitz. We also find out that when she arrived at Auschwitz she was given the ultimatum that one of her two kids, a boy and a girl, would be allowed to live if the Nazis could kill the other. Sophie chooses to save her son over her daughter and is haunted by this choice for the rest of her life.
In my version Sophie is warned ahead of time that the Nazis are coming for her and her kids. She is warned that the Nazis will never abide by her having two kids and so she knows about “the choice” ahead of time. When inspiration pays her a visit, she immediately finds a sewing kit and transforms her two children into one conjoined twin. The Nazis have no idea what to do and so the twin is allowed to go to the work-camp. Somehow they survive the internment, and are liberated. They were afflicted by mild mental-illness as a result of the fact that they were affected at different levels with “Stockholm Syndrome” and spent their days debating the issue tirelessly. They move to New York City and, after an agent hears one of their debates, are signed-on to do an off-Broadway one-man-show. They do this show for many years until one day they realize that they can be separated with no medical risk whatever on account of the fact that their joining is merely superfluous. They are fired. But the money that they’d managed to save is enough to offer a comfortable retirement. They buy a Bed and Breakfast in the Catskills under which they run a dog-fighting ring.
So there it is…please don’t judge these ideas…please don’t steal these ideas. I want to produce these movies. I need the money. You’ve essentially just read my daughters’ college funds. I feel good knowing that my own little American Dream rests comfortably in the darkened creased recesses of my creative mind. Where they wait…