Save The Cat! Video Tribute 4: Annie


This week’s Save The Cat! tribute video holds a very special place in my heart.  I saw this film as a young kid with family and it was then and is now THE definition of family fun entertainment.  I was 5 or 6 when I first saw it and remember it VIVIDLY.  We saw it as a family at the Winchester theater in Lubbock, TX (one of the last true “CinemaScope ready” theaters in TX).  I remember as a kid absolutely loving the relationship between Daddy Warbucks and Little Orphan Annie.  It seemed so unconventional and unpredictable…but at the same time, irresistible.  Here was Oliver Warbucks, a seemingly all powerful billionaire in need of no one and nothing, in contrast to little orphan Annie; a “seemingly” destitute, helpless and needy orphan…in need of everything.  The power in their relationship with one another is found in their individual “character arcs”.  After watching the 1st two acts of the film, we discover Mr. Warbucks is in fact in GREAT need of someone to love, someone to pour himself and all his resources INTO, while little helpless orphan Annie is actually a very confident little girl who knows EXACTLY what she wants…her real parents.  When these two character arcs “cross” in the 3rd act, it is emotional and powerful (for kids & adults.)

The beats of this movie fall perfectly in line with the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet.

And….(drum-roll please)…you guessed it, my favorite part of the movie is the FUN & GAMES section.  This is where we really get to know the characters and start to see how their relationships and individual story-lines will collide with one another.  And may I say, Mr. John Huston does it masterfully with his camera, his direction and overall production value.  In Hollywood, they say kids and animals are the toughest things to direct…apparently not for John Huston.  The reason I love the FUN & GAMES section so much is because of all it does to support the “theme” of the movie…or as Blake Snyder would put it, “the promise of the premise”.  The “BREAK INTO TWO” beat (which leads us into the fun & games beat) is one of the strongest beats of the entire film.  In Annie, the BREAK INTO TWO beat takes us from the dingy, run-down orphanage to the huge and vastly wealthy Warbucks estate…a whole new and brilliant world for our hero to inhabit….or as Blake would put it “The upside down version of Act 1”.

And let me also take a minute to stress the importance of GOOD ACTORS!  I whole heartedly agree with Blake Snyder & all screenwriter structure teachers who say “acting and production value are NOTHING without a good story and structure”.  BUT, even a great story can be soured by bad acting or bad actors.  Not the case with Annie.  Not only is the story sound structurally and emotionally. the actors in this movie bring the experience to a whole new level.  Carol Burnett, Tim Currie, Bernadette Peters, Albert Finney…WOW!

Finally, (no pun intended) there is the FINALE, which in Annie is just a heck of alot of fun to watch.  Cop cars, auto-copters, a last minute rescue by Punjab and a truly larger than life Warbucks style party complete with elephants, circus performers and fireworks that actually spell out the word ANNIE!  For my money, that’s the kind of finale I’m looking for and this movie delivers it!



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