The Mysterious Mr If, part 1

THE MYSTERIOUS MR IF is an unproduced feature film screenplay I wrote some years ago. Since nothing much seems to be happening with it, I thought I might try serializing it here. At any rate, here’s an installment, with suitable illustrations, and if the response is positive, there may be more.

Now read on…

EXT. OLD EDINBURGH STREET– NIGHT

SILENT MOVIE INTERTITLE:

Fog fog fog.

A city of scratchy sepia film stock.

A troupe of BOBBIES, led by the intrepid INSPECTOR RATHBONE SHINTY, stampede up the cobbles.

Shinty puts his WHISTLE to his mouth.

SILENT MOVIE INTERTITLE: Peep!

(Note: throughout this prologue, key sound effects are represented by intertitles, yet dialogue and background sounds are perfectly audible.)

The rooftops. A CAPED FIGURE reaches up for the moon. Takes it between finger and thumb.

The moonlight is suddenly extinguished and the bobbies blunder in darkness.

BOBBY

Sir, sir! He’s stolen the moon!

SHINTY

The cad! Thing’s worth a bally fortune.

A melodramatic LAUGH. Shinty double-takes: purple footprints on the paving, leading — away!

Ahead, a LEATHER-GLOVED HAND pulls shut the door of a respectable New Town house.

Hung on the door: a human finger. Shinty snatches it up..

BOBBY

He’s given us the finger, sir!

SHINTY

And also the slip. There’s only one criminal mastermind inverted enough to leave a digit as calling card. He’s mocking us, the devil!

INT.  OLD EDINBURGH DRAWING ROOM – NIGHT

Meanwhile indeed, for here is a glove with an empty finger.

In the most respectable of surroundings, DR. MICHAEL WOMAN holds the floor while a group of LADIES sit and gaze admiringly, sipping their sherries. Woman is a tall, stylish man in an opera cape, with a Mephistophelean beard positioned at a rakish angle, slightly left-of-centre.

DR. WOMAN

It is my contention, ladies, that the fabric of reality is a mere veil. A truly exceptional person might REND this veil –

He makes a violent gesture and the ladies gasp and put their hands to their breasts.

DR. WOMAN

And explore the REAL reality beneath. Which, unlike our own grey age of matter and certainty, is likely to be… interesting.

An OLD DEAR raises her hand.

OLD DEAR

Doctor Woman, how would such a person go about… rending the veil?

DR. WOMAN

By committing a series of acts of bizarre atrocity calculated to produce derangement of the senses!

Mutters of alarm.

DR. WOMAN

Be not affrighted, dear ladies. I speak only of mayhap. Only a mental madman would risk the tender globe’s destruction for the sake of music hall entertainment.

The police burst in.

SHINTY

The house is surrounded, Doctor Woman – or should I say… Mr. If!

Gasps, and a scream, from the ladies.

MR. IF – for it is indeed he – raises a suave eyebrow, removes his false beard, and pours himself a drink.

OLD DEAR

(to camera)

I am astonished that our well-loved host could possibly be the notorious Mr. If, who has been terrorizing the capital with his inexplicable crimes.

MR. IF

I apologize to you, sweet ladies, but it seems I must – AWAY!

At that moment, If/Woman turns on them with a soda siphon which sprays smoky gas.

The room fills with fumes. Impossible to see anything.

MR. IF

I vanish into Thick Air. Mwahahahahahahahahaha!

Shinty smashes a window with a fallen constable’s truncheon.

As the gas clears, Shinty beholds a scene of chaos:

The ladies have been dressed in the police uniforms, false beards and side-whiskers glued to their helpless features.

The policemen are dressed in the ladies’ clothes, whorish makeup applied to their cheeks. And the whole operation performed in seconds.

Mr. If is, of course, nowhere to be seen.

Another BOBBY bursts in, clothing humorously tattered.

BOBBY

Inspector Shinty! He’s on the roof!

EXT. OLD EDINBURGH ROOFTOP – NIGHT

Policemen blow their WHISTLES. In the dense pea-souper, indescribable confusion reigns.

Shinty emerges panting from a skylight. Looks around.

SHINTY

God in Heaven!

His arch-enemy is mounted on a ROCKING HORSE, teetering precariously on topmost pinnacle of the roof, throwing eggs at the police below. His opera cape flaps in the wind, and he wears the purloined moon in his top hat, which he raises from his head as he rocks, bronco-fashion.

MR. IF

Hi-ho, Molybdenum, and away!

An egg shatters on Shinty’s head. Examining the shell, he finds a small brass terrier within.

Enraged, Shinty draws his revolver and kisses it.

SHINTY

(soliloquy)

Our only slim prayer – Sir Frederick’s perfumed bullets of Byzantium!

(to IF)

Eat scented lead, you dastard!

He blasts away at If.

SILENT MOVIE INTERTITLE: Bang! Bang!

The horseman on the roof falls…

MR. IF

Oh, I am slain!

The young Bobby gasps –

BOBBY

He’s off his rocker!

EXT. OLD EDINBURGH STREET- NIGHT

…but only the horse shatters on the cobbles.

Mr. If is nowhere to be seen.

FOOTSTEPS echo down an empty street…

A SHADOW fades from a wall…

MR. IF

You may have trounced me this time, Inspector Shinty, but the world shall hear of me – again!

A sinister LAUGH resounds and is cut short by THUNDER…

SHINTY (V.O.)

Gone. Like a cobbler in the night. But have we seen the last of this avatar of atavism, this messiah of madness? If only we could be sure. If only… if only… if… if…

Thick, all-consuming FOG.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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17 Responses to “The Mysterious Mr If, part 1”

  1. Simon Fraser Says:

    There has been a rewrite or 2 since I last read this. I see it made in a mock 19th c. engraving cutout animation style ( using AfterEffects and still photography )
    That’s the way the imaginary David in my head would make it anyway.

  2. Fiona W Says:

    Does the ‘imaginary David’ in your head also pour soy sauce all over his sushi as if it were ketchup just like the real one? (Hi Hon!)

  3. Simon Fraser Says:

    My Imaginary David would have insisted that the fish be safely battered, fried and then left under a heat lamp for 4 hours. So the sushi floating in soy sauce kinda sounds like progress….sorta..

  4. Bravo! (for the script not the soy sushi) (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

  5. Simon Fraser Says:

    The imaginary David that I know would have insisted that the sushi be properly battered, deep fried than set under a heat lamp for 4 hours. The sushi-soy soup looks like progress to me…..ish

  6. So speaks the woman who squirts salad cream on her banana sandwiches.

    Can I have an imaginary David in my head too, or would that be committing the cartesian fallacy?

  7. Perhaps the style of Karel Zeman would be suitable. Did Harry S. Keeler, author of THE MYSTERIOUS MR. I, influence the title? Probably a Keelerian coincidence.

  8. I was certainly aware of Keeler AROUND the time of writing this. The whole thing is much influenced by Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol comics, where Mr Nobody was a bad guy.

    Karel Zeman is a good call, also Gilliam’s animations and Raoul Servais’ amazing Harpya —

  9. Waah! But a timely reminder to not go out without your hat(s).

  10. Culinary note: Don’t get invited to dinner by David and Fiona.

  11. Very Franju-esque.

  12. Thanks! Fantomas is certainly working away not too far from the surface. No Judex though, I couldn’t get excited about a super-cop.

    Tune in next week for the next exciting episode…

  13. Christopher Says:

    it appears there is nothing IF can’t do

  14. Anything but sit still. He’s a terrible fidget. To add to his other crimes.

  15. There will be — next week.

  16. […] Part the second of my unproduced feature script, THE MYSTERIOUS MR IF. For Part the First, go here. […]

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