YOUR VERY OWN RICKY RUBATO Opening sequence before main titles

From my awardwinning screenplay YOUR VERY OWN RICKY RUBATO Full copy available from richardkheller@hotmail.com

INT. THE 21 CLUB, BACKSTOP. DAY

BEFORE MAIN TITLE AND CREDITS

The 21 Club is a rundown nightspot in a depressed provincial American town. Ricky Rubato is seated at the piano, simultaneously practising passages of cocktail music and speaking to an unseen interviewer. Opening CU of Ricky’s hands, so we cannot see the depressing surroundings.

RICKY (o.s.)
Yes, you could describe me as a child
prodigy. I had a very strict classical
training. I won many awards. I made
recordings. You can look them up under my
“classical” name – Richard Morgan. I won a
scholarship to the Jollihard School of Music.

Camera back slowly so that we can see Ricky’s face. He is a
faded heartthrob but holding onto his looks.

RICKY (cont’d)
But I always felt there was more to the piano
than just playing the notes. You have to play
with your heart as well as your head and your
hands. I always wanted to put personal feeling
into my work. That’s how I developed my style.

INT. THE JOLLIHARD SCHOOL OF MUSIC. DAY

FLASHBACK to a young Ricky at the piano with a stern music teacher, Mr Metronome.

MR METRONOME
Mr Morgan, did Mr Bach use the term “rubato”
in this music? Does he encourage you to play
it at varying speeds? Or is it that you cannot
manage the hard passages without slowing down?
This is a music college, Mr Morgan, not a
cocktail bar.

INT. THE 21 CLUB, BACKSTOP. DAY

BACK IN THE PRESENT, Ricky at the piano, surroundings and interviewer still unseen.

RICKY
I got my nickname at college. Ricky Rubato.
I liked it so much that I have used it
throughout my career. I learnt a lot at
college. But I also found it very constricting.

EXT. THE DOORS OF THE JOLLIHARD SCHOOL. DAY

FLASHBACK Mr Metronome saying goodbye to young Ricky, who is carrying luggage including a music case.

MR METRONOME
Don’t feel too badly, Mr Morgan. There are
places for your style of playing. Unfortunately, they
do not include the Jollihard School of Music.

INT. THE 21 CLUB, BACKSTOP. DAY

BACK IN THE PRESENT, again ON Ricky at the piano.

RICKY
So I had my second musical education in low
dives and bars all over the city. It taught me
to be an accompanist.

INT. A CHEAP BAR, NEW YORK. DAY

FLASHBACK A terrified young Ricky trying to accompany a huge drunk singing One For My Baby.

INT. THE 21 CLUB, BACKSTOP. DAY

BACK IN THE PRESENT, again ON RICKY at the piano.

RICKY
But it was in one of those bars that I met
my mentor, the legendary Stanley Crowne.

INT. A CLASSIER BAR, NEW YORK. DAY

FLASHBACK young Ricky playing a piano duet with an older man. Ricky is good but the older man, Stanley, is outstanding. ON Stanley’s right hand, fizzing out giant chords and runs.

INT. THE 21 CLUB, BACKSTOP. DAY

BACK IN THE PRESENT, Ricky at the piano.

RICKY
Thanks to Stan, I was soon in demand as a
session pianist. When they could not get
Stan, they settled for me.

(laughs modestly. Looks
round for response from
interviewer. Sees none).

RICKY (con’t)
I accompanied Guido Zabaglione. Carl Pancetta.
Grace Harper. Mel Torme. Robert Goulet. I’ll
never forget my session with Frank Sinatra.

INT. A STUDIO. DAY

FLASHBACK young Ricky accompanying an unseen Frank Sinatra in One For My Baby.

SINATRA (o.s.)
Cut! Who hired this bum? Can we find a
piano player somewhere who can at least
keep time?

INT. THE 21 CLUB, BACKSTOP. DAY

BACK IN THE PRESENT, camera slowly pulls away from Ricky at the piano and shows two photographs above his shoulder. One is of Ricky and is inscribed “To all my friends at 21” and is signed extravagantly “Ricky Rubato” with an added treble clef. The second has a matching inscription, but shows Beppo the Wonder Dog. It is signed with a paw print.

RICKY
It was thrilling to accompany these great
artists, but in the end I just wanted to
interpret songs in my own way. I went solo
so that there was no one between my heart and
the song. I would like to feel that I have
always added something to the notes the
composer left on the music sheet.

FLASHBACK SEQUENCE: We see advertising posters of Ricky, intercut with Ricky playing solo in a series of lounges. ON first poster “Ricky Rubato Plays Burt Bacharach.”

INT. A PIANO LOUNGE. NIGHT

Ricky is playing a souped-up Burt Bacharach number to a largely bored audience. Suddenly the real Burt Bacharach walks out.

ON second poster “Ricky Rubato Plays Stephen Sondheim”

INT. ANOTHER PIANO LOUNGE. NIGHT

As before, Ricky playing a souped-up Sondheim tune. Suddenly the real Stephen Sondheim walks out.

ON third poster “Ricky Rubato Plays George Gershwin”. We hear
Ricky playing a souped-up Gershwin number.

EXT. THE TOMB OF GEORGE GERSHWIN. NIGHT

From within the tomb, the sound of groaning.

INT. THE 21 CLUB, BACKSTOP. DAY

BACK IN THE PRESENT, camera shows us more singed photographs of artists who have appeared at the 21 Club – The Great Merluza, The Edsels, Andrea Doria, Mac The Knife Thrower (with vacancy for assistant), Chevy Cheese. We see more of the cheap surrounds, reinforcing the message of the photographs, but not the interviewer.

INTERVIEWER (o.s.)
Mr Rubato, you’ve worked on the piano at
Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, and in Europe,
and in all those society parties, and cruise
ships and all…

INT. CAESAR’S PALACE. DAY

FLASHBACK to young Ricky with other furniture movers, helping to shift a grand piano.

INT. THE 21 CLUB, BACKSTOP. DAY

INTERVIEWER (cont’d, o.s.)
After all those places, is it a bit of
a come-down to play here?

RICKY
Oh no. Definitely not. I have always believed
that folks in towns like, like…

INTERVIEWER (o.s.)
Backstop.

RICKY
Towns like Backstop have the same right to
good music as the crowd in Las Vegas. The
people of Backstop have always been special
to me. I love coming here. I wish I could come
more often. Now son, have you got enough copy?
When does your school magazine come out?

Finally we see that the interviewer is a bored young boy.

RICKY (cont’d)
Any more questions?

INTERVIEWER
Who was Frank Sinatra?

28. August 2011 by rkh
Categories: Belles-Lettres, movies | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on YOUR VERY OWN RICKY RUBATO Opening sequence before main titles