First On Last Off by Michael F Donoghue | Script Revolution

First On Last Off

A cinema studies major inherits a treasure trove of iconic Hollywood props when she is named executor in a famous set designer’s will.



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Synopsis by
Michael F Donoghue

I wrote this screenplay as a graduation gift for my daughter, Rose. She recently earned her Theater Performance Degree at the University of Toronto, Canada. Bravo, Rose!
Rose Donoghue is among a unique cohort who are about to graduate into a post-COVID world. On the eve of her final exam, Rose gets a call from her mother. Rose’s great aunt has suddenly passed away. It’s a shock to Rose because of the close relationship she and Angie shared.
Still it comes as a surprise when Rose learns she has been named Executor and Sole Beneficiary in the famed set designer’s will. Angie lived in LA, and Rose is now left with only memories of her many visits to Hollywood, sometimes with her mother, sometime on her own. A graduation trip was in the works for this summer.
Touching down in Hollywood, Rose meets with Angie’s lawyer. The funeral is tomorrow, and the house now belongs to her, however the most intriguing item in the will arrives in the form of a key being slid across the table. Rose glances from the key to the lawyer. A road trip is in order.
An award-winning career spanning forty years might explain why Angie had a few things in storage, but when Rose discovers the key opens not one but five storage lockers, she is stunned to find herself the proud owner of a treasure trove of props spanning the golden era to present day. Rose knew that Angie had been granted her own exhibit at the newly built Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, so one or two lockers made sense, but why five? The lawyer connects the dots. When her former studio went insolvent, and everything went to auction, Angie leveraged her house in order to save the iconic props from being dispersed into a myriad of bars and basement rec rooms. They meant that much to her.
It’s a lot to take in, and Rose is lucky to find someone willing to listen to her plight. His name is Emilio, and it’s a chance encounter at the diner where he works. Emilio explains he is a COVID victim too. The well-known Hollywood restaurant he worked at succumbed to the pandemic a few months back. He had risen to maitre d’ before being laid off.
Angie’s funeral is the following morning, and Rose is touched by the number of people in attendance. Coworkers, collaborators, even famous actors have turned out to pay their respects. Rose gives a heartfelt eulogy, but when she returns to the lockers that afternoon, she discovers the true extent of what she’s inherited. Rose is treated to a parade of A-list actors who had contributed to Angie’s museum exhibit. The items were on loan, and with the exhibit now in limbo, they are in need of a little reassurance. Rose has to admit there isn’t a plan, she only arrived yesterday. She does however buy herself some time. Doing so, she finds herself in possession of some of the most iconic props Hollywood has ever produced. And if that encounter isn’t enough, the afternoon concludes with one final visitor. His name is Mr. Giza, and he is acting on behalf of a wealthy client.
The Peter Lorre type character (Mr. Cairo from the Maltese Falcon) informs Rose that Angie had been bequeathed one of the most iconic props of all time, the black statuette known as The Maltese Falcon. A well-known Hollywood executive, who perished from COVID-related symptoms, willed it to Angie before he died. With the falcon set to be the centerpiece of Angie’s exhibit, and the family of the executive contesting his will, the museum decided to defer the exhibition until things are sorted out.
That evening, Emilio takes Rose to dinner at the restaurant where he used to work. It’s boarded up, and a For Sale sign is posted on the front lawn, but he still has a key to the backdoor. The Hollywood landmark is a throwback to the golden era of movie making. It also serves a venue for the pair to take their relationship to the next level.
Rose finds the black-enamelled bird in Angie’s safety deposit box the next morning. Citizen Kane’s snow globe and the Heart of the Ocean are also within. A flashback reinforces what the stunning necklace means to Rose, but it’s the bank manager that gets her heart beating. Angie was to provide a detailed list of her acquisitions. Rose knows one exists. Angie was a stickler for details. She just has to find it.
When Rose finds the ledger tucked away in a storage locker, it’s everything she expected. and more. It documents every prop, the movie in which it was featured, and the price. It also contains a detailed business venture for a Hollywood prop museum. Revenue, expenses, even potential locations are listed. It seems Angie had plans for after the museum exhibit.
It’s at this point that Rose meets Joe, the storage facility owner. He’s a former actor, and he knew Angie well. He wants Rose to know she has options, and he gives her an out. He could help her sell everything off. He knows about the falcon and on whose behalf Mr. Giza is working. It’s Jim Bravos, the owner of Rain Forrest Studios. With Joe’s help, Rose could be on her way home sooner than she thought.
A break in at Angie’s house further tests Rose. She believes the thieves were looking for the falcon, but the event represents something more, a rallying point. Rose just has to sell Emilio on her plan. It requires a little convincing, but if it means Rose is staying in LA, Emilio is all in. Angie’s ledger is detailed, however Rose has something else in mind, a different venue, and it will require Emilio to use his imagination.
But when the pair drive out to the location the next morning, Rose is crushed to find the venue has been sold out from under her. It’s the restaurant where Emilio used to work. A restaurant filled with famous Hollywood props would honor Angie’s legacy in a very unique way. But enter Jim Bravos once again. Rose learns that it’s Bravos who bought the restaurant. The setback strengthens her resolve.
Rose knows the Rain Forrest Studio lot well. It’s the same one Angie worked at for forty years. Rose barges into the bungalow where Bravos is holding a meeting. The makings of a deal ensue. Rose will sell the falcon to Bravos on two conditions. One, he has to agree to her plan of transforming the restaurant into a coveted Hollywood dining experience. Two, he must return Emilio to the posting he once held, maitre d’. Bravos admires Rose’s confidence, her courage as well. In front of our eyes, Rose has been transformed from a young woman struggling to find her place in the world to someone with vision, determination, and passion for her goals. Bravos can’t help but offer her a job at his studio.
The grand reopening is an event Hollywood will remember. Movie stars, paparazzi, one has to be on a very short list to get in. The A-list actors turn out for Angie as well. Props are displayed in cabinets and wherever space will allow. Emilio is leading man material from any era, but it’s Rose who steals the spotlight. Her amazing dress, her retro look. The Heart of the Ocean around her neck seems worthy of the person she’s become.
When the evening finally winds down, Rose and Emilio wonder how to celebrate. Should they take in a movie? There’s a Bogart festival playing downtown. Walking toward the exit, Emilio stops, looks at Rose. “There’s one thing I gotta try before we go.”
Rose watches Emilio walk over to a cabinet displaying a number of props. They’re all familiar, but it’s the most famous prop from the modern era that has caught his eye. “No, Emilio” Rose exclaims. A boyish grin persists. After fading to black, and pleading further, what is Rose left to say, other than: “I have a bad feeling about this.”

*A note about the cameos contained in First On Last Off. Any number of actors with familiar props would suffice. I chose some of my favorites. Feel free to cast your own.

Submitted: May 9, 2021
Last Updated: April 25, 2022

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The Writer: Michael F Donoghue

I am thrilled to find a platform that showcases the work of aspiring writers. I started writing late in life, self-publishing three novels, including one historical fiction and two sci-fi dramas. It was during the process of adapting the historical fiction into an eight episode series, (I've completed Episode One and a Series Bible) and the second sci-fi into a feature length script, that I realized I enjoyed the art of screenwriting more than novel writing. I just completed an original screenplay, entitled, First On Last Off, which I wrote as a graduation gift to my daughter. She recently earned her degree from the University of Toronto's Theater Performance Program. I was happy to hear... Go to bio

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