Straight From the Horrors of D-day: War Is Heck!
By Jeff Danziger
Under our new "moral values" standards, you can show war is hell, but you must leave out the word "hell."
Up the beach we go, through enemy fire, crawling over bodies and wrecked materiel. Finally unable to stand any more carnage, Tom cries out: "Darn these Germans, anyhow!"
In one of my favorite scenes, Tom is approached by a fresh-faced young corporal. "I'm worried, sir," the soldier says. "We've run out of ammunition!" "Fudge!" Tom says.
"What?" asks the young lad, appropriately shocked.
"I mean fiddlesticks!"
It's not easy writing this stuff, trying to be accurate and yet OK for prime-time TV. But I and my fellow script doctors have done our homework, and we've based the best lines on actual soldiers' memoirs. Some of these lines are just great, punctuating the fire and smoke of battle with pithy, yet morally valuable, sentiments. For example, "Drat, there goes my leg!"; "I'd like to kick Hitler in the pants!"; and the searing, "By Jiminy, we're all going to die."
Finally, Private Ryan is located, ("There you are, you son of a biscuit!") and a happy ending is appended. The audience is happy, the FCC is happy and the execs at the ABC affiliates are happy.
Most important, the true picture of men at war is provided to a country now somewhat fearful about the nature of armed conflict, even when led by men of towering faith. The lesson is that if soldiers are fighting for freedom and democracy they can get the job done without a lot of bad words.
It's been fun, giving a positive tone to a great American war movie. I reread my own words and even I am uplifted. My agent is happy too. He's gotten me a gig rewriting a made-for-television biopic on Dick Cheney.
Monday, November 15
From the Word Processor of: Jeff Danziger
Yes, our favorite polititoonist picks up a keyboard and does an op-ed piece in today's LA Times where he gets to rewrite Saving Private Ryan for the bible belt TV stations. An excerpt:
Posted by Howard Hoffman at 7:55 AM