Thursday, January 06, 2011

Script review – “The Getaway” (1972) by Walter Hill

Early work of Walter Hill not typical of his later scripts: it does start with a literary quote (from Hemingway), but then gives several pages of back story for the two lead characters, plus another short page for the main villain, Rudy. This is very unlike Hill, who liked to describe characters through action – his road to Damascus moment happened after he wrote this, when he read Alex Jacobs' script for Point Blank and changed his style.

This was a second draft, and it is still set in 1949, the time of the original novel. (Peter Bogdanovich, the original director on the project, may still have been attached.) Carol, the wife, has a big chatty monologue on page 17 about how hard life was with her husband in prison. The robbery sequence is very exciting – I loved technical detail of a 1949 robbery.

It ramps up the suspense, with Doc going into the sewers to turn off electricity, and cars engines conking out at important times, etc; later on, when they get away, there’s a sequence at the train station and on a train where Carol is tricked by a con man into losing the bag of money. Hill mentioned in an interview that Bogdanovich wanted to make the piece more of a Hitchcock-type film so maybe that had something to do with it.

My favourite bit is when Doc sees pictures of himself being wanted on television in the TVs in a display store, then goes and buys a gun that moment and shoots his way out of trouble with some incoming police officers. The finale is exciting as well – it’s an excellent script all round.

Some random notes: I think Hill re-used the idea of someone hiding a gun in a bag, thereby avoiding a trap, in The Driver. In this version the abducted vet doesn’t kill himself he’s killed by Rudy, a very effective villain.

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