Mr. Smile Mr. Smile
An Unmade Alan Parker Film

Mr. Smile

London: Alan Parker Film Co., N.d. [c.1972]

8vo., pp. 68, with an additional 23 typed pages, lettered and bound in, and a duplicate p.11. Handwritten contact details for Petter Fetterman of Associated London Films to title page, as well as the number '16', handwritten and inked out to top right hand corner. Bound with split pins in pale blue stiff paper wrappers, window to front wrapper to reveal title page beneath. Oversized wrappers a little sunned, and with some light edgewear.

Draft screenplay for an unmade film by Alan Parker.

Alan Parker's began his professional life as an office boy with the London advertising agency Maxwell Clarke. Rising quickly to copywriter, in the late 1960s he and his art director Paul Windsor moved to Collett Dickinson Pearce. There he worked alongside Charles Saatchi and David Puttnam, who encouraged him to write is first full-length screenplay. (Melody was filmed in 1971, directed by Waris Hussein.)

In 1970 Parker was encouraged by his bosses to leave CDP and start his own commercial production company, which they would underwrite: with admirable self-confidence, he called it The Alan Parker Film Company.

This unmade screenplay, a mawkish tale of a sad clown, dates from this period -- the early 1970s. It carries the new company's name on the title page, under which is written by hand the contact details of Peter Fetterman at Associated London Films. ALF was the film production arm of Associated London Scripts, the writers' agency founded by Eric Sykes and Spike Milligan. The company made a number of films in the 60s and 70s by writers from the ALS stable, among them The Spy With A Cold Nose(1966) and Steptoe and Son (1972) by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, Til Death Do Us Part (1968) by Johnny Speight -- and a number of films starring Frankie Howerd, among them Up Pompeii (1971) and The House in Nightmare Park (1973).

Howerd is the connection here, this script having emerged from his estate. Although not a writer himself, Howerd was an important figure in the early days of the ALS company. Almost its entire roster wrote for him at one time or another, and in 1962 they combined together to write the act he performed at Peter Cook's club The Establishment, a legendary performance which resurrected Howerd's career.

Parker almost certainly sent Howerd this copy of the script in the hope of securing him to play the title role. Nothing came of the approach -- probably a blessing for both parties.

The script contains 23 pages of typed rewrites, a few strokes of a ball point pen to delete rewritten printed passages, and a single note in Parker's hand to p.43 ('We watch the two of them. We hear music over.').

Alan Parker made his first film for television, The Evacuees, in 1975; his first feature, Bugsy Malone, appeared the following year. This screenplay precedes them both.

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