Latest Work Completed! Read the Opening Scene

My apologies for not updating in a while. I have been very busy with latest writing work, taxes, job hunting, etc. Eh, it’s a life.

My latest screenplay has finally reached Draft 1. I’m very excited about this because it combines two of my favorite subjects: MAGIC and NOIR. I was a huge fan of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and RPGs like “Justice, Inc.”  that combined detective mysteries with the fantastic. Here’s the opening description I wrote for the one-sheet (the query usually sent to agents and producers):

Inspired by BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and GRIMM comes a cheeky tale of a Hollywood detective whose world is full of magic and murder. In a 1948 Los Angeles, movie stars and ordinary folks rub elbows with the Three Arcana: the Craven (vampires, succubae and things that live on the life force of others), the Fey (elves, dwarves and other fairy creatures) and Demons (you don’t want to go there).

In celebration, here are the opening scenes for my latest screenplay. Enjoy!

(PARENTAL WARNING: The language of this excerpt is rated PG-13)

MURDER BY MAGIC — by Anthony Russo


A huge CROWD in front of the theater stands behind velvet ropes. They cheer MOVIE STARS as they head inside. Dazzling camera flash bulbs POP while searchlights stab at the night sky…




An exhausted JESSIE COOPER (22) climbs out of her beat-up rust bucket of a car and retrieves a brown sack of groceries from the back seat. Her arms full, she heads for the front door of her rented bungalow, FUMBLES with keys from her purse.

A can of soup falls from the bag. CURSING to herself, she bends down, picks up the can and pushes her way inside…



Jessie kicks the door closed with her heel. More fumbling as she fights to find the light switch on the wall. The place is tiny but comfy: a few pieces of furniture face a kitchenette while a tiny hallway leads away from the living room.

She sets the sack of groceries down on the counter. The same can DROPS to the kitchen floor. Jessie bends down, picks up the soup can and GROANS. The can is dented.

She leaves the sack, hangs her coat and purse from the back of a chair, kicks off her heels and disappears down the hallway…


At waist height, the CAMERA emerges from behind the sofa and traverses the living room. Trade magazines are on a coffee table. A copy of DAILY VARIETY is left open with jobs circled.


CAMERA checks purse hanging from chair.


CAMERA ducks inside the kitchen, behind swinging door.

Jessie reappears wearing only a bathrobe. She goes to her purse, finds pack of cigarettes and lighter, then heads back down the hallway. Shadow of bedroom door swings closed.

CAMERA examines the dented soup can on the counter. A tiny hand swaps the can with … a used left shoe.

Moving back into living room, CAMERA spots TV remote control on sofa arm. Tiny hand swaps remote with … a used left shoe.


CAMERA moves down the hallway, passes partially-opened closet door. Door OPENS further, revealing an electric iron on shelf. Tiny hand steals iron and replaces it with … a shoe.

CAMERA moves past closet door to bedroom door. Bedroom door is pushed OPEN wider…


CAMERA examines bedroom: bed, side table, lamp, closet door and door to bathroom. There is a window and a patio door on the far wall, both are covered by blinds.

CAMERA moves around bed, walks up to TICKING alarm clock. Tiny hand is about to steal clock, but is slapped by another hand.

CAMERA turns around. Jessie’s clothing is scattered on the bed. Tiny hand takes brasserie and replaces it with … a used left shoe.

CAMERA moves to bathroom door. The door is pushed open, revealing bath fixtures. The shower is running and there’s a dark shape behind the translucent shower curtain. Steam FLOATS about the ceiling.


A tiny hand grasps the shower curtain and pulls it back.

It’s not Jeannie, but fully-dressed private eye CAVANAUGH (30s). He’s holding the shower sprayer in his hand.

CAVANAUGH: Looking for Alfred Hitchcock?

He turns the sprayer on the CAMERA.

A trio of drenched tiny little MEN screeches in high-pitched voices and stumble out of the bathroom.

GNOME 1: (clutches face) Oh! I’m melting! Melting!

CAVANAUGH: Gnomes. I should have known. Come back here, ya little twerps!

Cavanaugh climbs out of the bath to go after them. One of the gnomes sticks out his foot at the doorway and trips Cavanaugh. He falls like a tree on the floor. Little legs hop over him.

GNOME 3: Scram, fellas! We’ve been had!

Getting on his knees, Cavanaugh grabs one gnome by the leg and lifts him up in the air by his foot.

GNOME 2: Put me down! Put me down!

CAVANAUGH: (snatches stolen bra from him) What the hell are you doing with this?

GNOME 2: This is little people abuse! (bites Cavanaugh on the wrist)

CAVANAUGH: Ow! You want abuse? Try this! (ties bra around gnome’s head and heaves him down the hallway)

Cavanaugh knocks the other two gnomes right off their feet.

CAVANAUGH: And he makes the split!

The gnomes shake their heads and get up on their tiny feet.

GNOME 3: Get him! He’s just one guy!

GNOME 2: (holds up gun) I got his gun! I got his gun!

CAVANAUGH: (comes down hallway) Hey! Be careful with that thing.

GNOME 3: Ventilate him!

Gnome 2 aims and pulls the trigger. The gun is a cigarette lighter.

GNOME 2: What kind of dick are you?

Cavanaugh takes a few steps and kicks Gnome 2 in the gonads with his shoe. SCREAMING, he goes soaring into the kitchen.

CAVANAUGH: (picks up lighter) The kind that kicked the winning extra point for Oklahoma State.

Gnome 1 leaps from the top of a bookcase in the living room and lands on Cavanaugh’s back. He scratches and bites him on the neck.

GNOME 1: You kicked Kenny! You bastard!

Cavanaugh grabs the gnome from his back and tosses him. The little acrobat lands on the sofa, does a victory jig and gives Cavanaugh the middle finger.

GNOME 1: Screw you!

Cavanaugh snatches a fake Oscar statuette off the bookcase and knocks the little dancing man off the sofa.

GNOME 1: Ow!

CAVANAUGH: And the Best Choreography award goes to the little jerk with the splitting headache.

Cavanaugh scans the room. A WAIL of pain comes from Gnome 1 on the floor. A CRASHING sound comes from inside the kitchen. That leaves Gnome 3…

Way stronger than his size suggests, Gnome 3 rips the rug out from underneath Cavanaugh’s feet. Cavanaugh performs a somersault and hits the floor with his chin. Dazed, he MOANS.

CAVANAUGH: Great. Spade gets a case about a black bird. I get the Three Stooges.

GNOME 3: Come on fellas, let’s get the hell out of here!

Gnome 3 helps up Gnome 1. They almost make it to the front door until …

Gnome 3 is FLATTENED by Cavanaugh wielding a fly-swatter. The gnome staggers and drops to the floor, knocked cold.

Cavanaugh NAILS Gnome 1’s gardening overalls to the wall with a thrown letter opener. His legs dangle there, helpless.

CAVANAUGH: (rubs his chin) I’m going to add you two to my dead cockroach collection.

Cavanaugh STORMS into the kitchen.

Gnome 2 points a carving knife at him.

GNOME 2: (snarling) Come at me, flatfoot! I dare you! I’ll cut your nut sack off! And I’m just tall enough to do it!

Cavanaugh yanks the knife from his hands, hoists the gnome up in the air and throws open the door to the newest kitchen appliance for 1948–a microwave.

CAVANAUGH: (tosses him in, slams door shut) You’re about the size of a Cornish game hen, aren’t you Larry?

GNOME 2: (throws hands against glass door) No! No! No! You wouldn’t!

CAVANAUGH: My finger’s on the fricassee button. Are you going to behave?

GNOME 2: Yes! Yes! We give up! Don’t do it! Oh the humanity!

Cavanaugh opens the microwave door.

The gnome gives him an angelic expression and offers up his wrists for handcuffs.



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