' ' Cinema Romantico: Pitch Meeting: Gale Force

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Pitch Meeting: Gale Force

I should clarify right up front: this is not my movie pitch. In a minor breach of protocol, I am pilfering someone else’s pitch. But, what choice do I have? See, in doing a little post-“Cliffhanger” research, I discovered that “Cliffhanger” only came to be when a previous would-be Sylvester Stallone vehicle, after multiple attempts, foundered. That abandoned project was “Gale Force”, a screenplay originally written by David Chappe and that Carolco Pictures producer Daniel Melnick bought for $500,000 in 1989, according to Anne Thompson’s reporting for Entertainment Weekly in October 1991. “Gale Force,” Thompson writes, “(was) a tale about a lone man defending a seacoast town from a band of marauders during a hurricane.” I mean, yes, absolutely, sign me up. Carson Reeves, writing for ScriptShadow in 2010, said “of all the Die Hard rip-offs I’ve read and seen throughout the years, this is clearly the best.” Yet that screenplay ultimately did not work for Melnick, who, as Thompson went on to report for EW, at some point sought a fresh take in the form of none other than Joe Eszterhas, who “scrapped the Chappe story,” per Thompson, for “an arty love triangle.” But that apparently didn’t work either, leading to more cracks at a reworked screenplay, all of which led Harlin to eventually opt for “Cliffhanger” instead

The first iteration of “Gale Force” makes sense; it would have been Sly’s answer to “Die Hard” a few years after “Die Hard.” Maybe then there never would have been a “Daylight.” And while Sly in an arty love triangle, never mind one set during a hurricane, doesn’t really seem to make sense, after the 3,327th social media kerfuffle of 2021, one involving Sharon Stone and Meryl Streep, I also kind of like imagining Stone and Streep as the two women involved in this stormy love triangle. Can we retroactively make this a go picture, just by dumping Sly and having, say, Andy Garcia take his place? Can we have two retroactive “Gale Forces”, like “Use Your Illusion I” and “Use Your Illusion II?” 

Alas, this is not 1990; this is now. And I’m looking to get “Gale Force” up and off the ground again for, say, summer of 2023. Problem is, we really don’t have someone who can do Sylvester Stallone stuff anymore. Liam Neeson, I suppose. We could put him in the arty love triangle “Gale Force II” with Julianne Moore and Nastassja Kinski. Or we could just put him in “Gale Force I” and have him reprise the whole “Taken” thing. But I don’t know. None of this feels like A Cinema Romantico Fake Movie.

The issue, I think, is that the actual Chappe script, as Reeves notes, does not contain pirates, not in the Warner Bros. swashbuckler vein, “just boring old modern day pirates.” That simply won’t do, not for this phony movie studio. When I think “Gale Force”, I think of that Capital One commercial, the one from over 20 years ago when the marauding pirates magically plunked down in the 21st Century are briefly thwarted by interest free plastic. So, with all due respect to my usual cast, for “Gale Force”, I’m seeing Mark Duplass as the owner of a ramshackle diner on a North Carolina cape who refuses to close in the face of an oncoming hurricane and then is forced to fend off Walton Goggins’s pirate cosplaying as Basil Rathbone in “Captain Blood.” Maybe Abbi Jacobson could be a tourist as a Tyler Endicott-like surfer in town to catch some Category 5 waves.

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