DOUBLE ENTENDRE: Action Spy Thriller/Comedy - Completed Treatment.
While on a business trip, happily married businessman John Smith is
mistaken by law enforcement officials and foreign agents for spy-
turned-international-hitman John Smith, a person bearing the same
name and similar looks to John Smith, married businessman. While
good-guy Smith struggles to prove his true identity and innocence,
confusion and further mistaken identities and crises abound.
" D O U B L E E N T E N D R E "
Patrick P. Stafford
Synopsis and Treatment For
A Romantic Action Thriller
For Motion Pictures or Television
(Approximately 100 - 120 Minutes in Length)
Patrick P. Stafford
1775 Southgate Way
Grants Pass, OR 97527
COPYRIGHTED (C) BY PATRICK P. STAFFORD
CAST OF CHARACTERS
John Smith ("John")
Clifford Jones, Sr.
Mark & Jim
John Smith ("Smith")
Captain Knowles (S.F.P.D.)
1st Taxi Driver (S.F.)
2nd Taxi Driver (Arizona)
Clifford Jones, Jr.
Inspector Sands (F.B.I.)
Eleanor (Joyceís mother)
Police in S.F.
3rd Taxi Driver (L.A.)
SETTING OF STORY
The present. In Los Angeles and San Francisco, California, and in Phoenix, Arizona.
SYNOPSIS OF SCRIPT
John Smith is quite the generic name and often a cursed one. And, for the thousands of individuals who bear that name and live in close proximity to one another--it can be a real pain in the butt!
One John Smith--this storyís hero--works at a high-tech company called Master Tronics. Don Zargus, senior vice president of the company, is vying to become its president. He has gained control of Johnís father-in-law, Howard Hathaway, by administering a new mind-control drug into the elderly man who is the drugís inventor.
Zargus has free rein of the company and ample time to profit from his stealing of vital top secret data and hardware developed at Master Tronics, which he sells to foreign powers. But he knows that the authorities are closing in on him, so he hatches a plot to make his son-in-law the fall guy.
John Smith enters Zargusí dark world of murder and espionage when he confronts his namesake at an airport bar. His namesake drugs John and in the airport restroom exchanges identification papers with him and also plants incriminating documents on the unsuspecting victim. Johnís only reason for being in the wrong place at the wrong time is because he is flying from San Francisco during a business seminar back to Phoenix, Arizona to surprise her at home in the hopes of catching her with another man.
But unknown to John, his wife Joyce is on her way to San Francisco to surprise him as well-- perhaps even in his hotel room with a mistress or some call-girl, or even in the middle of a full-scale orgy!
DOUBLE ENTENDRE starts out as a story about two newlywedsí extent to prove each otherís infidelity. It evolves into a humorous drama of crime, espionage, deadly pursuit, hand-to-hand combat, murder, kidnapping and special-effects depiction of high-tech weaponry.
Like those two ships passing in the night, or perhaps as any two persons who just keep missing each other in between two elevators--DOUBLE ENTENDRE is a deliberate tale about half-a-dozen near misses and close encounters between two romantic lovers struggling madly to connect. The elements of spies, thugs and policemen are interwoven to heighten action and plot and further entangle John Smithís crisis of mistaken identity. All are tantamount to his finding is faithful wife and she finally finding him--not in the arms of other lovers--but in each otherís. DOUBLE ENTENDRE is a story about missed appointments and missed rendezvous, misunderstanding and miscues, mistaken identities and misguided good intentions--told at action pace with plenty of adventure, drama, snappy dialogue, and double entendre.
TREATMENT OF SCRIPT
John Smith (hereinafter "John") is a junior executive at Master Tronics, a large aerospace corporation located in Los Angeles, California. John is young, attractive and successful. His wife Joyce is also young and attractive and quite successful--her father, Howard Hathaway, is owner and president of Master Tronics. She and John have been married two years. They are happily married, but each keeps a firm rein on the otherís fidelity, realizing there are many other young, attractive fish warming the world pond.
John Smithís major problem is not his or his wifeís jealousy, but his name: it is the most popular name in the English language and John has often been mistaken for other people bearing the same exact name. In journalism and in police files, much has been made of the name. Its closest relative is "John Doe," a deliberate title to reflect oneís mistaken or unknown identity.
In DOUBLE ENTENDRE John experiences manís worst nightmare of mistaken identity. Strangely enough, it is jealousy which rescues him from the clutches of this mistaken identity and saves him from consequential involvement with elements of espionage, corporate treason, zealous police and murderous henchmen.
One day, while in San Francisco at a seminar for Star Wars technology (for which Master Tronics does research and development), John and his best friend Peter Nookie engage in a humorously-masculine conversation (laden with double entendre) concerning the fidelity of women. During the lunch hour and in between seminar sessions, John and Peter are seen enjoying cocktails and having their conversation in the lounge of the St. Angeles Hotel where they are staying and the seminar is being conducted.
John and Peterís relationship goes back a long way, as both attended Phoenix University, graduated together and joined Master Tronics at the same time. Both met Joyce in Johnís senior year; she was one year behind the pair, and later helped them to obtain jobs at Master Tronics shortly before she and John married. Peter, becoming quite inebriated, confesses to John his espying Joyce in the arms of another man at a recent cocktail party for Master Tronics executives. Peter adds fuel to this fire by telling John about Joyceís former beau from college, Clifford Jones. Peter, now carried away with the conversation, challenges John to disprove the allegation by John surprising his wife at their home on any day he is supposed to be at work or out of town on business.
The conversation entices John to action--and he immediately accepts Peterís challenge. John finds a telephone in the lounge and quickly calls his wife, who is seen answering from their home in Los Angeles. Overlapped or interspaced during John and Peterí conversation is shown a similar conversation between Joyce and her mother Eleanor at their same home in Los Angeles. Joyceí father, Howard Hathaway, who is still the owner and president of Master Tronics, divorced Joyceís mother years earlier, having to settle out of court in her favor since evidence clearly proved his infidelity. This fact, her mother uses to good advantage in discussing Howard, John and men in general; and she also subtly questions Joyce about the many recent business trips, seminars and long work hours John has kept.
She hints that Johnís absence undoubtedly allows him much time and freedom to delve into extracurricular activities. On the telephone John informs Joyce he has to remain in San Francisco over the night and that he will be staying at the St. Angeles Hotel. Unsuspected by her, John intends to hop the next flight out of San Francisco and fly to Los Angeles in order to drive to their home and catch her there in the arms of another.
While on the telephone, Joyce thinks about her recent conversation with her mother, and at the same time gazes upon a photograph on the mantle depicting John a few years younger in a Stanford football uniform surrounded by and in the arms of a half dozen scantly-clad cheerleaders.
John hangs up, then immediately calls an airline service to acquire a seat on the next available flight to Los Angeles. Joyce is seen hanging up the phone at her home and, with a suspicious look upon her face, smiles and expresses the familiar sign of one who has suddenly come upon a fantastic idea. She explains it to her mother: what if she immediately were to take a flight to San Francisco, then drive to the St. Angeles Hotel and surprise John in his hotel room? What would she find? Her husband in the arms of a mistress? Or even perhaps, John, and his old buddy Peter along with other Master Tronics executives engaged in a giant orgy of wine, naked women and song? She telephones L.A.X. and reserves a seat on the next flight to San Francisco. Her mother smiles and proudly exclaims an end men and male chauvinism.
John returns to the lounge and finds Peter drunk and passed out at the bar. He drags his friend from the lounge, through the lobby to an elevator, and takes him to their room and places him in one of the twin beds inside the hotel room (the room is in Peterís name). John then calls for a taxi and we CUT TO: Joyce with her mother at the L.A. Airport, where they bid each other goodbye, and Joyce is seen as she boards her flight.
John leaves the St. Angeles Hotel and is seen followed by a rough and sinister-looking man. After John arrives at San Francisco Airport and checks in, he stops at an airport lounge to have one last drink before boarding his plane. While there, he becomes engaged in conversation with a stranger whose name also happens to be John Smith.
They laugh and joke about their names and even view each otherís expense account and identification cards. While Johnís attention is diverted the other John Smith (hereinafter referred to as "Smith") places a knockout drug in Johnís drink. John takes a swallow and then moments later becomes semi-conscious, incoherent and barely able to stand. Unseen, Smith exchanges his own expense account and I.D. papers with Johnís, places a tracking device in Johnís carry-on bag, and inserts some papers inside Johnís left inside coat pocket.
Smith brings John to his feet then walks him aboard the plane, pretending to the airline attendants and onlookers that John is inebriated and he is assisting him into the plane. He informs the stewardess of this, setting her and the attendantsí fears to rest by stating to them John should be sober by the time he arrives in Los Angeles.
John sits in a window seat, awakening and dozing intermittently. At one moment he gazes out the window and across the tarmac to another airline terminal where he imagines he sees his wife Joyce disembarking from a plane which has just docked. Two men enter Johnís plane separately just before takeoff and are seated in nearby seats across from him. The first is the rough, sinister-looking man who followed John from the hotel; the other: a middle-aged but athletically-built man dressed in dark slacks, tie and trench coat and with a stern, official demeanor--similar to that of a policeman--about him. Each man spots John immediately, though the rough-looking one has also taken notice of the other in the trench coat.
Johnís involvement in the world of crime and corporate espionage has commenced! Inspector Sands (wearing the trench coat) has been told by an informant that he must look to find a man who is to be at a particular location in the airport--a man who will be pretending he is drunk and who will board Johnís flight. A man called simply Mark is the rough, sinister-looking person who has followed John from the hotel. Mark works for Don Zargus. Don Zargus is Senior Vice President and the next-in-line to become the President of Master Tronics.
Mark is one of Donís henchmen; the other two being Smith and a murderer named Jim. Smithís expense account and M.O. have been used in a series of crimes and are directly tied to acts of espionage, treason and murder. The expense report will prove to the authorities that its bearer is the culprit in this series of major felonious and espionage crimes including the sale of vital military secrets to enemy governments. These secrets are stolen documents consisting of the newest and most lethal Star Wars technology--all recently developed at Master Tronics. Don Zargus has hired Smith to drug John and exchange identifications and expense accounts with him. Zargus also wishes to seize control of the company from Johnís father-in-law as well as shift suspicion away from himself as he has been stealing corporate secrets from the company and selling them to foreign powers.
John will be framed to appear as the mastermind behind these crimes. An anonymous tip to Inspector Sands which has brought him to be seated across from John, is from Zargus himself. For some time Sands has been investigating the sale of secret information developed at Master Tronics. Now with John before him, he now has a person with a face and a name and who happens to be an employee of Master Tronics and, as well, fits the description of the mastermind of the espionage ring.
Meanwhile, Johnís wife has traveled to San Francisco and by a few minutes misses running into him at the airport. A strange feeling comes over her while she is at the baggage claim department: she suddenly glances up and looks outside to notice an airplane lifting off.
Unknown to her, it is the plane carrying her husband back to Los Angeles. Smith has left the airport and travels to the St. Angeles Hotel where he checks into a room. We see him moments later in his recently acquired room, frolicking with two semi-naked call girls.
Joyce exits a taxi and enters the hotel, introduces herself to the hotel clerk and asks for the number to her husbandís room. She is told, and she quickly takes an elevator to that floor. Inside the room Smith is on the phone conversing with Don Zargus. Zargus orders him to immediately meet him at the San Francisco airport where he and Jim are waiting.
Smith, still dressed, leaves the room and enters the elevator at the end of the hall just as Joyce exits it. Joyce knocks on Smithís door twice. It is opened by one of the prostitutes. She walks in and stares incredulously at the two scantly-clad hookers. She becomes angry and commences questioning both women about her husband.
They respond, stating in derogatory terms that her husband had just left a few seconds earlier after receiving a telephone call from his office in Los Angeles. She interprets this to mean her John Smith, when in fact, they are the actions of the other John Smith--Don Zargusí henchman.
She exits the room, returns through the lobby and enters the same taxi taken from the airport--ordering the driver to take her back to the airport.
John slowly awakens as his plane touches down in Los Angeles. He remarks about the last drink he had in San Francisco being a "killer" and rubs his head to relieve the hangover incurred from the knockout drug.
John exits LAX via a taxi and returns to his home. He is followed by both Inspector Sands and Zargusí henchman Mark who are both seen driving separate vehicles. Joyce arrives back at San Francisco Airport. Don Zargus, also at the airport, spots her, and engages her in conversation.
She is surprised to see him, but not too much since she knows many of Master Tronics employees are in town attending the seminar. Zargus informs her that he had to send her husband on an extended business trip to Phoenix, Arizona, and adds that she is welcome to follow and join him there if she wishes.
He graciously purchases a ticket for her for the next flight to Phoenix. During this period she is silent and unsure of what to believe, since the memory of her husbandís supposed escapade in Smithís hotel room is still vivid in her mind. Zargus convinces her to fly to Phoenix and tells her he will telephone ahead and leave a message at the Desert Sands Hotel for her husband to expect her. She is seen boarding the plane and soon the plane departs.
John at his L.A. home meets his mother-in-law who is somewhat of a semi-permanent resident of their house. There is an instant discord between the two, since each represents to the other the worst found in male or female. He finally is able to learn from her his wifeís whereabouts, then immediately telephones for another taxi--which he plans to use to travel back to LAX.
Meanwhile, Joyce arrives in Phoenix and is promptly met at the airport by two men whom she does not know. They inform her that Mr. Zargus sent them to meet her and that they will convey her to the Desert Sands Hotel to join her husband. She enters their vehicle and it is seen driving out from the airport. She notices the rough, crude exteriors of both men and begins to feel uneasy.
In a few seconds the vehicle has left other traffic and suddenly takes a turn down a dirt road. She becomes suspicious and immediately begins to protest their course of travel. The thug in the front passenger seat suddenly reaches back and grabs hold of her and inserts a gag in her mouth, laughing at her struggles while remarking that her husband has ordered her abduction. CUT TO:
Don Zargus abducts Joyce to prevent her from interfering with his plans to use John as a scapegoat. Also, he considers the possibility he may need leverage or a control factor to use against John, so he kidnaps his wife.
Zargus meets a large transport plane in the Arizona desert each month. Arizona is where he sells the stolen technical and scientific hardware. In the desert not far from Phoenix and the Desert Sands Hotel, he periodically meets various agents and "buyers" from foreign powers and conducts an auction to sell his goods to the highest bidder. Zargus acquires his merchandise from Master Tronics in Los Angeles; makes contact with potential buyers in San Francisco and elsewhere, then rendezvous in Phoenix to conduct the sale.
Incredibly, John returns to San Francisco, and is still being followed separately by Inspector Sands and Mark. It is now evening.
Leaving the airport, John returns to the St. Angeles Hotel and asks the hotel clerk about his wife. The clerk does not know Joyce by sight but mentions a woman had been there earlier inquiring about a John Smith. He tells John that he sent the woman up to Johnís room. John informs the clerk that he never had a room in his name but one that was in his friend Peter Nookieís name. This exchange continues for a short while until John becomes exasperated and simply decides to check the room out himself.
John finds the room in question and knocks upon the door. There is no answer, so he decides to try to enter. It is unlocked, so he enters and immediately looks over the entire room for any sign that might indicate Joyce had been there.
Suddenly, a huge man stands in the doorway. It is Bob Brown, alias bounty hunter and former Green Beret. He asks John his name. The moment John responds by simply saying the words "John Smith," Brown leaps across the room to subdue John.
John quickly drops to the floor, and Brown soars over him and out through a glass window beyond. John looks out the window and spots Bob Brown rising slowly to his feet from where he had fallen on to a side roof a flight below Smithís hotel room. As Brown gets to his feet, he frowns up to John screaming: "Iíll get you! Iíll get you! I always get my man!" He then suddenly pulls out a large revolver with a silencer and begins firing it at where John is looking out the window. John quickly ducks inside and immediately rushes out of the room
John is pursued by the bounty hunter because Brown believes him to be "Smith"--the real criminal and ex-con--and has a large bounty to collect by capturing the thug. In the meantime Inspector Sands continues tailing John in the hopes that he will lead him to others in his employ and involved in the corporate espionage. And Zargusí man, Mark, continues following John to keep close tabs on him and Sands, and to keep Zargus apprised of events.
John returns to L.A., followed separately of course by Sands and Mark, but now with Bob Brown also in hot pursuit. Once again home, John receives a phone call from a Clifford Jones, who telephones to speak to Joyce. Clifford and Joyce hadnít seen each other since college, and Clifford hopes to rekindle the romance he and Joyce shared, not knowing that Joyce is now married. As they talk, John glances at a photograph upon the mantle which depicts Joyce and Clifford in each otherís arms some years earlier when college students.
Learning John is Joyceís husband, the two have a jealous argument and Clifford insultingly jokes/hints that he and Joyce have had an affair for months on end and are rendezvousing that very evening at the Palms Lounge in the Desert Sands Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona where they use to meet when they were enrolled at Phoenix University! The telephone conversation ends in an exchange of insults and moments later John is seen again traveling back to the airport to now catch a plane to Phoenix.
Meanwhile, Joyce has escaped from her captors and is seen wandering through the dark desert towards the lights of Phoenix.
Clifford Jones is a musician and has a rock band, and coincidentally is performing presently at the Desert Sands Hotel, from which location he telephoned Johnís home in L.A. John arrives in Phoenix (it is later that evening) and takes a taxi directly for the Desert Sands Hotel. Joyce finally reaches the outskirts of the city and is seen eventually walking up a main Street where nearby the Desert Sands Hotel is located. She spots Cliffordís name on the marquee and immediately enters the hotel and goes into the lobby. Her clothes are dusty and a little tattered, but she does not appear too out of place.
Johnís taxi arrives, and John immediately enters the hotel. Elsewhere strolling through the lobby we see Don Zargus and his henchmen escorting an elderly man as they make their way through the lobby and to the nightclub.
John stands at one entrance to the club and spots his wife near the dance floor conversing with Clifford Jones on stage. Suddenly, at that moment, directly across from John, Zargus and the others enter the club. The elderly man with Zargus (under Zargusí control from a new mind-control drug created at Master Tronics) is Joyceís father and company president, Howard Hathaway. The instant John recognizes his father-in-law from outside, Joyce sees her father and screams his name.
She rushes over and embraces her father. He appears semi-comatose--his face placid and his actions stilted. Zargusí hoods grab her, receiving only a few looks from other patrons.
John begins running through the lobby to get across the club to reach his wife. Midway across the club he encounters Clifford, who he instantly hits and knocks to the dance floor.
Zargus and his men, along with Hathaway and Joyce, exit the club and are seen entering a large limousine parked outside. John finally disentangles himself from the dance crowd and exits the club to see the limousine the moment it drives off.
He yells for a taxi, jumps in and directs the driver to follow the speeding limousine. Behind John we see the ubiquitous Inspector Sands, sinister Mark and tenacious bounty hunter Bob Brown arrive at the hotel in time in separate rented vehicles to see John leave in the taxi. As they turn to follow John in pursuit, Clifford Jones is seen outside and entering his car to join in the pursuit.
DOUBLE ENTENDRE is a story of two ships constantly missing each other in the night. It is a mystery within a mystery since John and Joyceís infidelity and jealousy are firmly planted inside Johnís current ordeal of mistaken identity and framed fall guy status--but which becomes of secondary consequence to his more dire circumstance of which he remains long unaware.
He pursues his wife and his wife pursues him. Both end up being pursued by everyone else. Yet each only reunites at the very end of the story when once again Joyce journeys to San Francisco--this time to confront Zargus and secure her fatherís release--with John following not far behind, still hoping to catch up with her and at least learn what all the jet-setting is about!
DOUBLE ENTENDRE finishes with a happy ending: Zargus is apprehended, his men subdued; John is exonerated--his true identity finally revealed to all; Bob Brown captures the "bad" or real John Smith; Inspector Sands solves his case by arresting Zargus and his band of thieves/agents; Captain Knowles and Clifford Jones contribute to the capture of the antagonists; Howard Hathaway is rescued with his health intact; Joyceís mother is reunited with Howard and becomes promptly convinced that not all men are all that bad; Clifford Jones still plays in his rock band in Arizona (a decent band, too!) and we see our two faithful lovers disembarking from a taxi in Phoenix.
They enter the Palms Lounge at the Desert Sands Hotel to do some spry dancing and hard partying, and put to rest once and for all the unfounded jealously that got them in trouble in the first place. After all, they have earned a little time off from their otherwise boring, sedentary lives. Besides, a little dancing and nightclubing can do wonders for such a dull and unexciting marriage!
DOUBLE ENTENDRE is interlaced with plenty of action, chase scenes, humor, and clever, dialogue (with a lot of double entendre), but still remains a serious drama. It is a romantic story which involves the same unconnected but familiar principles whose ongoing encounters revolve around the simple theme of being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong name.
It is a story that should interest, stimulate, entertain and amaze--If not for all the John Smiths of the world, then certainly for all of us fortunate enough to be named anything but!
A further treatment can be provided in a short period of time (one week, if so optioned); a completed script can be written and provided within a month, if necessary.