Tin Mine by Jim Boston | Script Revolution

Tin Mine

Looking to get their musical careers out of a rut in 1939 New York City, a song plugger and a radio organist become composers.



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It's Wednesday, May 3, 1939...a day where 27-year-old Los Angeles native SUE ELLEN CORNWALLIS is hard at work as a song plugger for Maxwell Music Company in her adopted burg, New York City.

Sue Ellen's a flashy, exuberant pianist...but that isn't what her boss, gruff JOHN MAXWELL, wants: "I want you to give it to 'em straight. Got that?"

That's a tall order for this spoiled daughter of a dairy magnate.

That same morning, 26-year-old organist BARBARA "BABS" STEUART wraps up another installment of her three-day-a-week radio show, "Songs by Steuart," on the Big Apple's WAPP.

Station manager VINCENT VALENTINE, a worry wart, loves Babs' show the way it is, with its flowery, sentimental, soothing melodies...but she wants to do jazzier material. In fact, she's on the lookout for novelty organ music.

Babs searches all over New York City for organ novelties...and can't find what she's looking for, not even at Maxwell Music.

So this unflappable Alabamian-turned-Floridian decides to compose her own material...but that's a laugh to her folksy husband, 28-year-old LAIRD, the native North Carolinian who runs a grocery store. And John himself threatens to call the police if he finds Babs in his own store again, despite her initially pitching her songs to him.

The next day, Sue Ellen comes to Maxwell Music early to work on "giving it to 'em straight." But that effort morphs into Sue Ellen herself scratching out a self-written tune, "Eventually." At the same time, Babs goes to Radio City Music Hall, whose Mighty Wurlitzer dwarfs the WAPP organ.

Having a ball playing the legendary RCMH organ despite a ROCKETTES rehearsal, Babs tries out her first two originals, "Swamp Stomp" and "I Spent All Saturday at the Movies."

She gets thrown out of the place...but not before she's got enough material to sell to John.

John isn't impressed by Babs' music...but Sue Ellen is. And when the increasingly-disenchanted song plugger clashes with her boss in support of the organist's original ditties, John fires Sue Ellen.

Outside the store, Sue Ellen and Babs conclude they've got enough in common to justify a partnership. After all, it's all about the twosome advancing their musical careers.

Babs and Sue Ellen get off to a shaky start as music's newest songwriting duo, but they come up with enough material to bring to Tin Pan Alley's attention...only to fail to get industry bigwigs on their side, with Sue Ellen chalking it all up at first to Babs' love of novelties. When the two composers cool their heels in a restaurant, Sue Ellen persuades Babs to perform all those originals on "Songs by Steuart."

The WAPP switchboard lights up, all right...with mostly negative calls. And after the station cancels Babs' show, Babs cancels her relationship with Sue Ellen over the demise of the WAPP show.

While Babs basically shuts her own musical career down, Sue Ellen redoubles her own efforts...by offering piano lessons, then buying a recording machine to throw down the twosome's compositions. The Californian travels Manhattan to try and drum up interest in her homemade platters...but only Laird bites.

He decides to sell the acetates at his own grocery store...on one condition: That Sue Ellen have a talk with Babs.

That talk gets off to an awkward start, but Sue Ellen relates to Babs how, "Because of you...you've given me the strength to go on trying to make it as a composer. And the drive."

In addition, Sue Ellen tells Babs that Vincent was behind "Songs by Steuart's" getting the axe.

And when Babs tells Sue Ellen of local bandleader EARLE NYMAN'S interest in "Swamp Stomp," that does it.

The twosome decide to give their partnership another try.

Submitted: October 12, 2019
Last Updated: October 12, 2021

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The Writer: Jim Boston

I first got interested in screenwriting as a college student in 1979 (Iowa State University); an additional impetus was the paperback version of the "American Graffiti" screenplay. From 1980 to 1994, I pursued screenwriting with a vengeance...but other things happened in my life. Since 2016, I've been back chasing the dream...and it's only because I inherited a Power Mac from one of the codirectors (Nick Holle) of a documentary I was in: "The Entertainers," about the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest and Festival. (Nick received the computer from the husband-and-wife couple who helped produce the film, Brent and Jackie Watkins.) The Power Mac has a copy of Final Draft 6... Go to bio

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