Sunday, April 15, 2018

Don't Make a Scene: Moonstruck

The Set-Up: Another of those scenes that I see and go "classic." But I have nothing more to say about this scene from Moonstruck, other than why I love it.  It's all Nicholas Cage—not one of my favorite actors, but when he's "on," he's "on." Cage ramps up his game with good material and John Patrick Shanley wrote a great script full of indelible characters and great lines. But this scene is all Cage going over the top with high comedic result, playing a wolf of a character who hangs back in bitterness, waiting for a moment to explode in dramatic self-pity. No wonder Cher's Loretta reacts with a taken aback "who is this yay-hoo?" expression.

The whole scene is so overdone ("Bring me the big knife!""Maybe I should come back another time"), it's hilarious, and the stunted reactions of the observers only makes it more so—right to the punchline of the mousy baker-girl who professes her love for this goof-ball.

Love is over-the-top in this one.  You might say it's over the moon.

The Story: After years of widowhood, Loretta Castorini (Cher) has accepted the marriage proposal of her boyfriend Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello), who leaves for Sicily to care for his dying mother.  Johnny asks Loretta to see his estranged brother Ronny (Nicholas Cage) to invite him to the wedding.  Loretta goes to the basement bakery where Ronny works.

Action!

This script had some changes on its way to film.  Deletions are in red.  Additions are in green.

INT. THE BASEMENT OVEN ROOM - DAY


There are two coal-fired ovens, one at either end of the room. There is a large wooden table roughly center. And various pieces of baking equipment, dough-mixers, etc., scattered willy-nilly. And everywhere there is bread.

PIETRO, a baker, is working at one of the ovens with a long wooden spatula. RONNY is working at the other oven.

Actually, he is just staring in the open door at the baking bread and burning coals. He's dressed in black jeans streaked with flour, a white restaurant shirt, white cotton gloves, and around his neck, a red handkerchief. He is black-haired, handsome and intense.
ROCCO Ronny!


RONNY What!


ROCCO Somebody here to see you.
Ronny turns and takes in Loretta.
RONNY Have you come from my brother?
LORETTA Yes.
RONNY Why?
LORETTA I'm going to marry him.
RONNY You are going to marry my brother?
LORETTA Yes. Do you want...
RONNY I have no life.
LORETTA Excuse me?
RONNY I have no life. 
RONNY My brother Johnny took my life from me.
LORETTA I don't understand.


Everything in the oven room has stopped and everyone is watching.
RONNY And now he's getting married. He has his, he's getting his.
RONNY And he wants me to come?
RONNY What is life?


He picks up the wooden spatula and slides it into the oven.
LORETTA I didn't come here to upset you.


Ronny slides a bunch of loaves out of the oven on the spatula, turns them around, and slides them back in.


RONNY They say bread is life.
RONNY So I bake bread, bread, bread.

(He's picking up loaves of bread from one of the boxes on the floor, and casually tossing them across the room.)

RONNY And the years go by! By! By! And I sweat and shovel this stinking dough...
RONNY ...in and outta this hot hole in the wall...
RONNY ...and I should be so happy...
RONNY ...huh, sweetheart?
RONNY You want me to come to the wedding of my brother Johnny?!!
RONNY Where is my wedding?
RONNY Chrissy! Over by the wall!
RONNY Gimme the big knife!
CHRISSY No, Ronny!


Barbara appears in the doorway and comes down the stairs into the room.
RONNY Gimme the big knife!
RONNY I'm gonna cut my throat!
LORETTA Maybe I should come back another time.
RONNY No, I want you to see this!
RONNY I want you to watch me kill myself so you can tell my brother...
RONNY ...on his wedding day!
RONNY Chrissy, gimme the big knife!
CHRISSY I tell you I won't do it!
RONNY (to Loretta) She won't do it. 
RONNY Do you know about me?
BARBARA Oh, Mr. Cammareri!
RONNY (To Barbara) WHAT?! 
RONNY (To Loretta) Do you know about me?
RONNY  'Kay. 
RONNY Nothing is anybody's fault, but things happen.

(holds up his left hand to Loretta)

RONNY Look.


He pulls off the glove. The hand is made of wood.
RONNY It's wood. It's fake.
RONNY Five years ago I was engaged to be married.
RONNY Johnny came in here, he ordered bread from me. And I said "Okay, bread."
RONNY I put it in the slicer and I talked with him and my hand got caught cause I wasn't paying attention.
RONNY The slicer chewed off my hand. It's funny 'cause - when my fiancé saw that I was maimed, she left me for another man.
LORETTA That's the bad blood between you and Johnny?
RONNY That's it.
LORETTA But that wasn't Johnny's fault.
RONNY I don't care!
RONNY I ain't no freakin monument to justice!
RONNY I lost my hand, I lost my bride! Johnny has his hand, Johnny has his bride!
RONNY You come in here and you want me to put away my heartbreak and forget?
He goes to the big table, which is floured and covered with bread. He sweeps everything off the tabletop during the next.
RONNY Is it just a matter of time till a man opens his eyes and gives up his one dream of happiness?
RONNY Maybe.
RONNY Maybe.

RONNY All I have... Have you come here, Stranger, Bride of my Brother, to take these last few loaves from my table? Alright. Alright.
The table is bare. He stares at it blankly. He wanders away, to the back room where the flour sacks are kept. We hear a single sob escape him from that room, and then silence.
Everyone in the oven room looks after him. Then Chrissy approaches Loretta. She holds the big knife at her side.
CHRISSY This is the most tormented man I have ever known. I am in love with this man.
CHRISSY He doesn't know that. I never told him cause he can never love anybody since he lost his hand and his girl.
She holds out the knife.


CHRISSY Here. Why don't you just kill him? It would be so much more kind than coming here and inviting him to a wedding like he'll never have.


Loretta considers Chrissy, decides what she's going to do,
and goes to the flour room.


Moonstruck


Words by John Patrick Shanley


Pictures by David Watkin and Norman Jewison

Moonstruck is available on DVD from M-G-M Home Video.



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