Posted by Laz Rojas
Written by Laz Rojas
Screenplay, 124 pages (Action, Drama)
Viewed by: 12 Members
Uploaded: Nov 03, 2011
Latest Draft: Feb 17, 2018
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In 1965, a British pop singer recruited as an intelligence agency's first female operative proves herself in a man's world by discovering and foiling a terrorist plot to destroy London with a stolen nuclear warhead.
The "ABSOLUTELY SMASHING" Franchise
Written by Laz Rojas
Other Genres: International, Spy, Star vehicle
Sub-genres: Espionage, Period
Set during the second half of the 1960s, the "Absolutely Smashing" franchise revolves around Darla Chandler, a mod British pop singer who also works as a secret agent for S.M.A.S.H. (Strategic Measures Against Soviet Hegemony), an elite, clandestine UK intelligence service. A young woman who leads two completely different lives -- one highly public, the other highly secret -- and who manages to deal with the complications of each and maintain this dual existence with cool British style, wit, and aplomb.
At first glance, Darla seems the least likely candidate for a secret agent -- a petite and pixie-like woman who looks like a cross between Twiggy and Audrey Hepburn. But appearances can be very deceiving, and in Darla's case, her physical appearance combined with her strong-willed personality and highly independent nature serves her well as S.M.A.S.H.'s only female agent. She is never taken seriously by male villains because of her gender and size, and they fail to realize their mistake until they have been foiled by her considerable intelligence, by her formidable espionage skills, and by their own misguided chauvinism.
Picture a combination of Petula Clark, Lady Penelope, and Emma Peel, and you have a good idea of who Darla is. A plucky, tenacious, and highly emancipated heroine who is as unconventional as she is utterly charming. A dynamic, resourceful, and highly independent trailblazer who juggles two completely disparate careers with style and panache and succeeds at both. A working-class Liverpudlian who was orphaned as a little girl during World War II and survived an entire year on the streets by her wits and by thievery, was adopted and raised by an aristocratic family, found fame as a pop singer, and then became a secret agent to serve her country. In short, Darla simply lights up the screen -- a stylish, witty, and feisty heroine capable of winning the hearts of audiences everywhere and generating a variety of spin-off products and tie-ins.
Of course, such a leading lady deserves to be paired with a worthy leading man, one who brings out both the best and the worst in her and keeps her on her toes. Teamed up with Darla throughout the entire franchise is Nigel Wilkins, her former instructor and current supervisor at S.M.A.S.H. -- and a handsome and dashing ladies' man whose philandering ways completely annoy her. Descended from a noble family and graduated from Oxford with triple first honors, Nigel is the quintessential overachiever, S.M.A.S.H.'s best agent, and an international playboy. But if appearances are deceiving in Darla's case, they are just as deceiving in Nigel's as well; for despite all of his efforts to resist it, Nigel has fallen in love with Darla during the process of training her and is prepared to finally become a one-woman man. He has no idea how to adequately convey his feelings to her in a manner that she can recognize or appreciate, however, and he falls back upon his tried-and-true methods of pursuing and seducing a woman when dealing with her, tactics which stand little chance of success with someone like Darla.
The last thing a self-reliant woman like Darla needs or wants is to be somebody's plaything, and she mistakenly believes that is Nigel's sole interest in her. Despite the fact she feels an attraction to him as well, she has absolutely no intention of becoming another notch on his bedpost and the latest in his long list of conquests. Misinterpreting his attempts to reveal his feelings as a sophomoric campaign to get into her pants, she hides her own feelings from him, denies them to herself, and vigorously rebuffs him at every opportunity. And when Nigel expresses any over-protectiveness towards her in a professional capacity because of his personal feelings for her, Darla's feisty independent nature causes her to resent his actions as the overbearing bossiness of a superior toward his subordinate.
That this team could work well together seems quite dubious at first glance, for while Darla comes from working-class Liverpool roots and can be reckless and headstrong, Nigel is an upper-class London blue blood and as meticulous and disciplined as she is impulsive. One would think they have absolutely nothing in common and that their highly different personalities and backgrounds would make them completely incompatible, yet they are soulmates brought together by destiny to fulfill a very important mission in life. And as the events they are faced with throughout the franchise unfold, their professional and personal relationships continuously evolve and they are both forced to grow in ways they never anticipated. Progressing from teacher-pupil to supervisor-underling to equal partners in the end, they are forged into a an elite team who become S.M.A.S.H.'s front line in defending Britain and Europe from a variety of menacing villains and dangerous plots.
The franchise offers an iconic lead role that could make the right actress a global star and this era's Audrey Hepburn, as well as a charming Cary Grant-like male supporting role in her fellow spy and eventual husband. It is highly commercial, international in both scope and flavor, and has tremendous blockbuster and tentpole potential. It also comprises a combination of elements that appeal to all demographics and age groups. There is something in it for everyone, especially audiences who miss the style and sophistication of Hollywood's golden years, and it is capable of attracting a diverse global audience and becoming a pop culture phenomenon.
Unlike the Austin Powers series and many spy movies set in the era of the Sixties, this franchise is neither a campy spoof nor a self-conscious parody of the genre. It is played straight and presented as a series of stylish and sophisticated period espionage movies with equal measures of action, adventure, humor, drama, intrigue, and romance.
The first installment, "Absolutely Smashing", takes place in 1965 and is set in London, Paris, and the Bavarian Alps. It introduces the main characters and sets up their world, and it follows Darla's adventures as an ambitious and fiercely independent junior agent struggling to prove herself while caught up in a twist-laden investigation during which she ultimately uncovers and foils a terrorist plot to destroy London with a nuclear warhead. Along the way, her tumultuous relationship with Nigel evolves from a stand-off of sexually-charged tension, humorous bickering, and mixed messages, to the acknowledgement of their feelings for each other and the decision to become romantically involved after Darla is promoted to full operative status and they are assigned as partners in the field.
The second installment, "Positively Shambolic", takes place in 1966 and is set in Paris, Geneva, Venice, and Rome. Further developing their professional and personal relationships, it takes Darla and Nigel on a confusing and whimsical adventure across Europe after their vacation is interrupted by a seemingly innocent incident. As they try to unravel what soon appears to be a mysterious and dangerous international plot, they ultimately fall into the hands of an adversary from Nigel's past who has secretly manipulated them every step of the way and leads them into a trap that nearly costs them their lives. They survive the events solely because of their strengthening love and their excellent teamwork, and they get married as soon as they defeat their nemesis and return to London.
The third installment, "Absobloodylutely Fabtastic", takes place in 1967 and is set entirely in London except for a brief sojourn in Brighton. It thrusts Darla and Nigel into an investigation of a music and television mogul who has been blackmailed into assisting a KGB plot against England, a man who discovers Darla's secret identity as a spy and offers to produce her own musical variety program in an attempt to distract her from her mission. As the mission proceeds and she is torn between the investigation and the mogul's offer to advance her singing career, it puts immense pressure on Darla and her marriage, threatens to break her both emotionally and psychologically, and sets her twin careers as a spy and a singer on a long-delayed and inevitable collision course.
The fourth installment, "As Cold As Any Stone", takes place in 1968 and is set in London, Paris, and the Caucasus Mountains. When Darla and Nigel destroy a Soviet facility involved in the creation of a highly toxic nerve gas, it triggers a personal vendetta against their boss by a legendary KGB agent and sets off a chain of events that includes the assassination of a wealthy British industrialist, the return of three of Nigel's former paramours to his life, and the tragic consequences of a horrible secret concerning the origins of S.M.A.S.H. that has remained hidden for the past twelve years.
The fifth installment, "Song Of The Swan", takes place in 1969 and is set in London, Paris, Vienna, Athens, Bombay, and Cape Kennedy. When Darla and Nigel follow a trail of clues across Europe and Asia in search of a ballerina/KGB spy who has been assisting S.M.A.S.H. for several years as a double-agent, they discover to their horror that she is being forced to participate in an audacious plot to destroy Apollo 11 on the launch pad and prevent the United States from landing the first man on the moon.
The sixth and final installment, "Once More Unto The Breach", takes place in 1982 and is set in London, Paris, Düsseldorf, Sarajevo, and Cairo. A week before their scheduled retirement from active field duty, the murder of a fellow agent and friend compels Darla and Nigel to undertake one last mission to investigate her death -- a mission which leads to their discovery
of an elaborate plot by a legendary MI6 spymaster who disappeared twenty years earlier to assassinate the British Royal Family and destroy the UK government in a series of terrorist attacks.
All six installments are quite different from each other. There is no "more of the same" as in other franchises and sequels where the main characters remain basically unchanged and are simply involved in different stories. As each installment unfolds, Darla and Nigel are constantly developing, evolving, and maturing as they find themselves in new and challenging situations which test them both individually and as a team. In fact, the events which face them throughout the course of the franchise are specifically intended to spur their growth both professionally and personally, to lead them from the people they are at the outset to the people they become by the end. So despite the highly different circumstances of each installment's plot, the six of them combined pursue an overall story arc that depicts the Darla-Nigel partnership from its beginnings to its final resolution.
MAIN CHARACTERS IN ALL INSTALLMENTS
There are four characters who appear in all six installments:
Darla Chandler -- female, British, 25 years old, pop singer and S.M.A.S.H. agent;
Nigel Wilkins -- male, British, 30 years old, S.M.A.S.H. field operative and Darla's instructor and supervisor;
Sir Percival Hawthorne -- male, British, 55 years old, Director of S.M.A.S.H.;
Fiona Desmond -- female, British, early 20's, Hawthorne's secretary.
SUPPORTING CHARACTERS SCATTERED THROUGHOUT INSTALLMENTS
Various supporting characters appear in the installments, some of them in more than one:
Lord Edmund Taylor -- male, British, 56 years old, HM Ambassador to United States, personal friend of Hawthorne and Darla's adoptive father;
Lady Edith Taylor -- female, British, 27 years old, international fashion model, Edmund's daughter and Darla's adoptive sister;
Eleanor Hawthorne -- female, British, 52 years old, Hawthorne's wife;
Chloe Sellers -- female, British, early 20's, presenter of musical television program "Pop! Goes London";
John Lennon -- male, British, mid-20's, leader of The Beatles and Darla's childhood friend;
Nikolai Grishenko -- male, Russian, 54 years old, former Soviet Army general and leader of M.U.S.H. terrorist organization;
Vasily Godunov -- male, Russian, 38 years old, assassin and Grishenko's right-hand man;
Eric Sommerville -- male, British, 40 years old, owner of West End art gallery and night club, black marketer;
Pierre Morrisette -- male, French, early 30's, spy employed by French counter-intelligence agency C.E.R.T.;
Antoine LeBeque -- male, French, mid-50's, owner of casino and Marseilles-based container-shipping company, double-agent employed by C.E.R.T.;
Étienne -- male, French Algerian, late 30's, LeBeque's right-hand man;
Derek Hendry -- male, British, 30 years old, leader of criminal organization and Nigel's Oxford mate;
Sir Peter Rice-Davies -- male, British, 40 years old, media mogul; president of Cheshire Cat Productions, White Rabbit Records, and Blue Caterpillar Films;
Yevgeny Volkov -- male, Russian, 50's, legendary KGB operative;
Sergei Krasinski -- male, Russian, 30's, KGB spy and Volkov's protege;
Sir Jeremy Winston -- male, British, 58 years old, president of Winston Industries, personal friend of Hawthorne;
Felicia Winston -- female, British, 32 years old, Sir Jeremy's second wife;
Claude Godot -- male, French, 35 years old, field operative employed by French counter-intelligence agency C.E.R.T.;
Chantal Thierry -- female, French, 30 years old, field operative employed by French counter-intelligence agency C.E.R.T., one of Nigel's past lovers;
Tatiana Veranova -- female, Ukrainian, 27 years old, ballerina, KGB spy and double-agent assisting S.M.A.S.H., one of Nigel's past lovers;
Philippe Gaston -- male, French, 40's, president of Gaston Chimiques (Gaston Chemical Company of France);
Alexei Mishkin -- male, Russian, 38 years old, KGB agent and assassin;
Anatoly Stefanov -- male, Russian, late forties, Tatiana's primary KGB handler;
Valentin Orlovsky -- male, Russian, mid-forties, KGB agent;
Jack Ross -- male, American, mid-thirties, CIA operative;
Klaus Friedmann -- male, German, 40 years old, arms smuggler;
Radovan Danovic -- male, Serbian, 43 years old, arms smuggler;
Lucy Wickham -- female, British, 44 years old, Second Secretary at British Embassy in Cairo, MI6 agent;
Muhammed Gammal -- male, Egyptian, 30's, field operative employed by GIS (Egyptian Intelligence Service);
Alistair Beckett -- male, British, 72 years old, former MI6 officer and current arms smuggler for the Soviets;
Abdul Habib -- male, Eyptian, 40 years old, Beckett's right-hand man.
As the franchise is set in the Sixties and the main character is a pop singer, the music of that era plays a large role throughout the entire six-chapter story arc. Not only in the form of the songs the main character sings, but in the careful selection of specific songs that were popular at the time and are used in various ways. Sometimes they are simply heard on a radio in the background of a scene; other times they serve as soundtrack music for sequences ranging from a car chase to a love scene. In fact, the music of the time is interwoven throughout each installment in such a manner that it qualifies almost as a member of the cast, supporting both the characters and the story and inseparable from the overall structure.
Needless to say, each installment has a soundtrack album tie-in as a result, featuring songs by singers such as Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark, and Sandie Shaw, and groups such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Zombies, The Hollies, Herman's Hermits, The Yardbirds, and The Moody Blues. The songs used in each installment are specifically chosen from the year the installment takes place in, further grounding each installment in the moment in time in which it is set. In addition, the incidental score composed for each film, like every other aspect of the franchise, will evoke the 60's as fully and authentically as possible by being a retro-space-age mixture of jazz, lounge, bossa nova, and soft tempo.
Filled with vibrant characters, crackling dialog, and captivating plots, the "Absolutely Smashing" franchise recreates the world of the 1960's in meticulous detail and casts as its protagonist an indomitable heroine unlike anyone currently on the screen. Combining the intrigue and mystery of an Alfred Hitchcock film, the romantic comedy and repartee of a Stanley Donen film, and the action and thrills of a James Bond film, it mixes together various elements of Sixties cinema in one pot to create something which is at once familiar and nostalgic to the audience, and something entirely fresh, vibrant, and new. It is also a celebration of British pop culture of the Sixties, with many references and nods to television shows such as The Avengers and The Thunderbirds, to singers such as Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield, and to bands such as The Beatles and The Kinks. Each installment is intended not only as a veritable time capsule of the year it is set in, but as a cultural event that will shake up the pop culture landscape and inspire trends in fashion, music, and more.
The timing for this franchise could not be more propitious. As evidenced by the success of the television series "Mad Men" and the proliferation of all manner of retro-themed sites across the Internet, there is a resurgence of interest at this time in the fashion, music, movies, and culture of the Sixties. Baby boomers in particular seem increasingly disenchanted with a confusing and uncertain Twenty-first Century world, and there is a growing sentiment of nostalgia and pining for days gone by that this franchise would tap into completely. To this end, my entire approach in the creation of this project has been to envision it as a series of films made at the time their events take place, with the kind of cinematography, art direction, costume design, and production values that evoke the most classic films of that era -- making the audience feel it has stepped into a time machine rather than looking back from the perspective of today.