Film Treatment Paper—“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor

  1. Concept

After receiving some time off of work, Bailey’s family decides to drive down to Florida from Georgia. As the family drives to Florida, Bailey’s mother tries to convince Bailey that a vacation in Tennessee would be better. She tells him that the children would enjoy a trip to Tennessee more than Florida because they had never been there. Throughout the drive, she attempts to convince Bailey and even shows him a newspaper article about The Misfit, a criminal that escaped the Federal Prison and is heading towards Florida. Awhile later, the family stops by The Tower, a diner ran by a veteran named Red Sammy. Grandmother and Red Sammy begin to reminisce about the kinder attitudes of the past as they watch Bailey’s children, John Wesley and June Star, acting rudely. After lunch, the family returns to driving down the Georgia highway and Grandmother tells the children a story about a house with a secret panel. The story excites the children and they insist on going to the house. Bailey gives in after a little resistance, and they drive off to a dirt road. Bailey takes a sharp turn, which results in a car accident in the middle of nowhere. The Misfit and his henchman show up and Grandmother immediately recognizes him. Even though she tries to convince The Misfit that he is a good man, the family meets an unfortunate end.

A couple of the exciting aspects of the adaptation would be the car accident and The Misfit’s manipulation over Grandmother. There a few moments throughout the story where someone in the family foreshadows a possibility of an accident before the car accident occurs. One example is that Grandmother dresses nice on the drive because she wants to be recognized as a lady in case something occurs on the drive. The scene when the family meets The Misfit and Bobby Lee, the henchman, the tone of the story takes a darker turn. The adults know that chances of escaping are slim, but Grandmother still tries to convince The Misfit that he is a good man. The Misfit manipulates the whole scene even though Grandmother continues to try to talk her way out of the situation. These are a couple of scenes that would have an interesting aspect to the story.

  1. Characters
  • Grandmother: A stubborn, old southern woman, who was born in Tennessee. She is widowed and lives with her only son, Bailey, and his family. She has a good sense of humor and loves to talk, but tends to be forgetful about places and problems. Although she helps take care of her grandchildren, she is not too close to them or her daughter-in-law. However, she deeply cares for her son and her cat, Pitty Sing. Her motives are to keep her family safe from The Misfit.
  • Bailey: A middle-aged man, married with three children. He lives in Georgia with his family and mother. He has a beer-belly, bald, and does not care for his appearance too much. Throughout the film, he should only be wearing comfortable clothing, such as T-shirts and khakis. He does not care too much about his mother or her opinions and likes to argue with her. His motives are similar to his mother, but he does not know how to manipulate the situation in his direction.
  • The Misfit: A runaway criminal who escaped from prison a week before running into the family. He is old enough to have strikes of gray hair. He wears silver-rimmed, round glasses that make him look educated. The children make him nervous and he does not like talkers. He grew up in a strict, religious home, but he does not believe in anything anymore. His motives are to take the family’s car and keep away from the authorities.
  • Red Sammy: An old, fat man who owns The Tower, a diner where the family stops to eat lunch. He is a veteran. Also, he is married to the family’s waitress, a tall, brunette woman. He bonds with Grandmother over the past. His motives are to warn the family about The Misfit.
  1. Themes

The major themes of the film would be manipulation, nostalgia, guilt, and dysfunctional family. Manipulation would be both humorous and threatening at the appropriate times. When the family is on the road and Grandmother tries to convince Bailey to go the house with secret panel, the tone of the scene would be humorous manipulation. However, when the family meets The Misfit, the tone changes to threatening manipulation. The Misfit tries to manipulate Grandmother’s intentions as Grandmother attempts to change The Misfit’s perspective. Nostalgia is one of the central themes that is featured in every scene in any form. Grandmother’s and Red Sammy conversation is filled with jokes about the past. Guilt is another theme that would appear during the family’s car rides and during their meeting with The Misfit. Every person in the film has some aspect of dysfunctional family affecting them. The family’s attitude towards each other is dysfunctional and they show it verbally and non-verbally.

  1. Location

The three locations of the film are inside the family’s car, The Tower (Red Sammy’s diner), and a dirt, abandoned road. The first location would be the inside of the family car. The car is an old five-seater car. The family is cramped into the car because it is too small for them to feel comfortable. The back seats are a mess with John Wesley and June Star’s comics and toys. There is barely enough room for Grandmother’s purse. The second location is The Tower, Red Sammy’s diner. Instead of a dance hall, as indicated in the short story, The Tower is a 50s-style diner. It is spacious and has many memorabilia from the 50s. There is a small jukebox at every table that plays classical 50s and 60s music. It appears ran down and less than pristine. Only one or two other customers are inside when the family enters the diner.  The final location is a dirt, abandoned road, located somewhere off the Georgia highway. A photo of the proposed location can be seen in the appendix. It is a wooded area, slightly hilly with an endless dirt road in both directions.

  1. Action Scene

The dirt road that Bailey is driving on has many potholes and bumps, which he attempts to avoid. The car’s lights are on high beam because there is a thick fog around the area.  One sharp turn makes the car drive off the dirt road and towards the edge of the hill. It is too late to regain control over the car and it falls down the hill. The car flips over once, and everyone gets thrown towards the front window. The car lands sideways on the edge of the hill, where there is another dirt road a few feet away. The engine groans, the car lights begin to blink on and off until the car engine dies. In the distance, there is another car coming down the dirt road, towards the family. The noises coming from the unfamiliar car gives the family some hope for help.

  1. Dialogue Scene

The Misfit—Good Afternoon, I see you’ve had a little accident here.

Grandmother—We turned twice!

The Misfit—Once, actually. We saw it happen. Hey Bobby Lee, would ya check their car? See if it runs?

John Wesley—Why do you have a gun? Whatcha gonna do with it?

The Misfit—(turns towards Mother)Lady, do you mind telling your kids to sit? Children make me nervous.

Mother—Come here.

Bailey—Now listen here, We’re in a little predicament, but we’re…

Grandmother—(interrupting, yelling) You’re The Misfit!

The Misfit—Yes madam. But it probably would’ve been best if you had kept shut. (Grandmother cries) Now, now, don’t get too upset, Madam.

Grandmother—You wouldn’t shot a lady, would you?

The Misfit—I would sure hate to.

Grandmother—Now, listen, I know you’re a good man. You don’t look a bit bad at all. I know you must have come from a good family.

The Misfit—Yes Madam, had the finest parent in the world. Ma was the kindest lady God ever made and Pop had the pure gold heart.  (Turns to Bobby Lee) Watch the kids, Bobby Lee, you know I ain’t too fond of kids.

  1. Pitch

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor would adapt well into film because it has many themes that can easily translation to film. Instead of an original story, a literary adaptation would show the visual aspect of the story. Even though it is a short story, it has many parts that could be developed in a film. It is a detailed story that could explore the relationships of the characters more in a film adaptation. The adaptation would focus more the characters and their attitudes. There is little that could be omitted in the film adaptation without losing the major themes of the short story. A couple of the parts that would be omitted are the beginning scene of the short story, which takes place in the family’s home, and the dance hall restaurant. The beginning scene in the short story could easily take place in the car instead of the family’s home. Red Sammy’s dance hall restaurant would be turned into a rundown 50s diner. The themes of guilt, manipulation, nostalgia, and dysfunctional family would carry over to the adaptation. The audience that enjoys mystery and humor would like this type of film. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” explores the changes over time in a twisted way that would be worth a film adaptation.

Maayan Rosen

June 22, 2015

Appendix

Photo of the Dirt Road

dirt road

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