The Palomar Crescendo | Skillshare Projects



The Palomar Crescendo

If I haven't yet, I'll be sure to give a read and give feedback to anyone who checks out my script and does the same. Critical feedback is the most important part of this process, and I value it regardless of whether you're new to screenwriting or are a pro.


Here is my first draft. Still some pretty big changes and edits looking to be made. Critical feedback especially welcome.

The working title of my short adaptation is The Palomar Crescendo. The source material I am adapting is from The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. I will be adapting the poem of Tom Beatty, a former dealer at an illegal poker room inside an opera house where he dealt cards for thirty years.

Original Text:

I WAS a lawyer like Harmon Whitney Or Kinsey Keene or Garrison Standard, For I tried the rights of property, Although by lamp-light, for thirty years, In that poker room in the opera house. And I say to you that Life's a gambler Head and shoulders above us all. No mayor alive can close the house. And if you lose, you can squeal as you will; You'll not get back your money. He makes the percentage hard to conquer; He stacks the cards to catch your weakness And not to meet your strength. And he gives you seventy years to play: For if you cannot win in seventy You cannot win at all. So, if you lose, get out of the room-- Get out of the room when your time is up. It's mean to sit and fumble the cards And curse your losses, leaden-eyed, Whining to try and try.

LOGLINE: An elderly dealer at an illegal opera house poker room -- attempting to redeem himself to his estranged daughter and grandson --  loses his savings on a large sporst bet to the Russian mob. He decides to take matters into his own hands in a final act of redemption. 

--Since there is not much back story given, this project leaves plenty of room for creativity. I am trying to stay true to the facts that are given in the source text as well as to the overall mood and themes that are present. But I am taking some creative license and engulfing this character in a modern day, high-stakes scenario that should hopefully ring true to readers and provide an interesting take on the source text. 



The poem deals with themes about the nature of life and man's response to it's ambivalence and cruelty. He personifies Life as a great gambler who stacks the cards against your favor and slowly chips away at you until all your chips have vanished. 

This is also a story of redemption through sacrifice. Tom is an anti-hero with redeeming qualities, as a sacrificial hero he gains our compassion and becomes likeable. We also are able to relate to his sadness, regret, and despair on a human level. By being this sacrificial hero, Tom is able to, in a way, win the game that Life has ultimately stacked against him, by helping his daughter and grandson. 


I used to play cards in a small, seedy, poker room in Southern California called the Palomar Room, it had a kind of wild west, modern day urban vibe.  I decided to draw on some inspiration from this experience and some of the characters into this screenplay. The fact that it is in back of an opera house adds a theatrical and musical aspect that I am toying with in the story structure and theme. The crescendo of a song, much like a story arc, rises in loudness as it progresses, until you hit a climax -- and as in opera and theater and most narrative forms, a denouement to give us closure and a sense of finality. 


Here is my first draft. Still some pretty big changes and edits looking to be made. Critical feedback especially welcome.


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