The man was A.P. Giannini who was said to be who Capra modeled the character of George Bailey as well as the bank president in Capra’s 1932 movie, American Madness, after. At the age of 14, Giannini left school and began working with his step father, Lorenzo Scatena, in the produce industry as a produce broker. By the time he was 31, he was able to sell much of his interest in this company to his employees and had planned to retire. However, one year later, he was asked to join the Columbus Savings & Loan Society, which was a small bank in North Beach, California.
Once he joined up, he found that almost nobody at the Savings & Loan, nor other banks, were willing to give loans to anyone but the rich or those owning businesses. At first, Giannini attempted to convince the other directors at the Savings & Loan to start lending to working class citizens, to give them home and auto loans, among other things. He felt that working class citizens, though lacking in assets to guarantee the loan against, were generally honest and would pay back their loans when they could. Further, by loaning them money, it would allow working class citizens to better themselves in ways they would not have been able to do without the money lent to them, such as being able to buy a home or to start a new business. He was never able to convince the other directors to begin lending to the working class.
Not to be dissuaded, he then set out to start his own bank. With $150,000 raised from various friends and family, Giannini founded the Bank of Italy in 1904, which would be a bank specializing in loaning money to the common man. The first Bank of Italy branch was in a converted saloon across the street from the Savings & Loan he had formerly been a member of. The assistant teller at the Bank of Italy was the former bartender of that very saloon.
Had a nice date night with the fetching Mrs. P on Saturday, and we caught the Clooney/Bullock movie Gravity. If you are going to see this movie, make sure you catch it while it is still in theatres. Beautiful cinematography, incredible effects, and you really feel like you are there in space. We felt that the first 10 minutes of so of the movie was designed to have the viewer get their "space legs", as the camera movement, tumbling of the actors, etc. is really similar to what one would expect to feel in zero gravity. There is an option for 3D (we went 2D), that is probably even more intense.
We gave it two thumbs up, with half a thumb due to the experience of the giant screen.
It’s not déjà vu. Summer movies are often described as formulaic. But what few people know is that there is actually a formula—one that lays out, on a page-by-page basis, exactly what should happen when in a screenplay. It’s as if a mad scientist has discovered a secret process for making a perfect, or at least perfectly conventional, summer blockbuster.
When Snyder published his book in 2005, it was as if an explosion ripped through Hollywood. The book offered something previous screenplay guru tomes didn’t. Instead of a broad overview of how a screen story fits together, his book broke down the three-act structure into a detailed “beat sheet”: 15 key story “beats”—pivotal events that have to happen—and then gave each of those beats a name and a screenplay page number. Given that each page of a screenplay is expected to equal a minute of film, this makes Snyder’s guide essentially a minute-to-minute movie formula.
Here are a few examples from recent films:
Let’s take a journey through this year’s blockbusters and blockbuster wannabes and see the big trailer-ready ways in which Snyder’s beat sheet pops up over and over again. Look at January’s Gangster Squad. After an opening image that sets up the conflict between Josh Brolin’s hard-charging cop, Sgt. John O’Mara, and the criminal forces of mob boss Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), O’Mara is called in to see his gruff police superior. “We got rules around here, smartass,” the chief growls. “Do yourself a favor. Learn ’em.” That’s Snyder’s second beat, theme stated. And it’s right at the seven-minute mark, almost exactly when it’s supposed to happen in a 110-minute movie. The rest of the Snyder playbook is there, too: a story-starting catalyst midway through the first act, a shootout at the midpoint that ups the ante, an all-is-lost moment—including a death—between the 75- and 80-minute mark, and a concluding finalact in which the baddies are dispatched in ranking order, just as Snyder instructs.
Or look at March’s Jack the Giant Slayer. There’s an opening image that sets up each of the young protagonists’ problems and states the theme at the five-minute mark, a catalyst at the 12-minute mark, an act break between the 25- and 30-minute mark when Jack climbs the beanstalk, and a false victory 90 minutes in, when it looks as if the evil giants have been definitively defeated.
Oz the Great and Powerful is a fun riff on director Sam Raimi’s quirky early horror films. But check your watch a quarter of the way through and you’ll find a tornado that whisks Oz, and the movie, into its first act. Once Oz has landed, he meets Theodora, the love interest—and the B-plot. Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby adaptation was reorganized to fit the formula, with a party-filled fun and games second quarter that leads to the decline of the third, in which tragedy looms as the bad guys close in.
Like so much in life, once you know how the magician does the trick, you don't fall for the deflections:
Yet once you know the formula, the seams begin to show. Movies all start to seem the same, and many scenes start to feel forced and arbitrary, like screenplay Mad Libs. Why does Kirk get dressed down for irresponsibility by Admiral Pike early in Star Trek Into Darkness? Because someone had to deliver the theme to the main character. Why does Gina Carano’s sidekick character defect to the villain’s team for no reason whatsoever almost exactly three-quarters of the way through Fast & Furious 6? Because it’s the all-is-lost moment, so everything needs to be in shambles for the heroes. Why does Gerard Butler’s character in Olympus Has Fallen suddenly call his wife after a climactic failed White House assault three-quarters of the way through? Because the second act always ends with a quiet moment of reflection—the dark night of the soul.
And if the villain of the past few years of movies is the adolescent male for whom it seems all big-Hollywood product is engineered, Snyder’s guidelines have helped that bad guy close the door to other potential audiences. Save the Cat!doesn’t go so far as to require that protagonists be men. But the book does tell aspiring screenwriters to stick to stories about the young, because that’s “the crowd that shows up for movies.” Following this advice to its logical conclusion means far more stories about young men—since that’s who shows up at the multiplex the most. It’s not an accident that the chapter on creating a hero is called “It’s About A Guy Who … ” not “It’s About A Person Who … ” And with a young male protagonist, women are literally relegated to the B-plot—the love interest, or “helper,” who assists the male protagonist in overcoming his personal problems. It’s not an accident that Raimi’s megabudget Oz movie featured not Dorothy but a male protagonist.
This is why the films that break the mold (and do it well) stick out as so much better than the rest. It should also be noted that movies that do follow the formula aren't all bad-some do it better than others (or maybe follow the steps out of order).
Next time you feel like you've seen this movie before, now you know why.