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"Captain Jack"
IndustryCentral ScreenWriters Exchange: Drama: "Captain Jack"
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By Jay Spears / Rob Mendel (Jspears) on Tuesday, March 21, 2000 - 04:53 pm:

The story of Captain Jack is the true story of the Modoc war, the only Indian war fought in California. It is the tragedy of Macbeth set in 1870's California -- greed, magic, war, assassination, betrayal, and revenge. In two men, Captain Jack and Alfred B. Meacham, the national tragedy disastrously plays out on a horrifyingly personal level. Captain Jack, a man of peace, not a warrior, is the tragic hero of the Modocs. A skillful leader betrayed by his own ego, he is forced into war then goaded into atrocity by his warriors, who, when all seems lost, promptly turn traitor and betray him. Captain Jack is an Everyman doomed by a fatal collision of civilizations. Alfred B. Meacham is the Indian Commissioner whose fate binds him to the Modocs and Captain Jack. Genuinely concerned, heroic, yet a real man of the people, Meacham shows us what it's like to be caught in a vise of implacable destiny, where no right answers exist; a well-meaning man who brings calamity to the Modocs and to himself.
Captain Jack's story is the story of his people: Scarface Charlie, his closest friend and military genius, the fanatical medicine man Curly-headed Doctor, the bloodthirsty and terrifying Hooker Jim, and Captain Jack's two wives and baby daughter. Meacham leads the distinguished General Canby, doomed by his gallantry, the doughty Lt. Boutelle, Col. Jefferson C. Davis, who carries a horrifying secret, Judge Steele, a Californian and true friend of the Modocs, Toby Riddle, the courageous Modoc squaw who risks her life as interpreter, and the greedy land-hungry cattleman Applegate.
Captain Jack and his people assimilated with the whites, even dressing like them and working in town and on ranches. When war inevitably breaks out, his warriors, outnumbered twenty to one by the U.S. Army, hold out for months in the savage and beautiful lava beds near Tule Lake. Only fifty in number, they bewilder the Army and confound the strategies of distinguished veteran officers of the recent Civil War. Yet a tragic flaw brings about his own ruin in a burst of treacherous mayhem which enmeshes Captain Jack and Meacham both in a bloodbath neither can control. Not even Meacham's incredible death and resurrection can buy redemption for Captain Jack. Set in historic Fort Klamath, Oregon, restored today to its 19th century splendor, in rowdy gold-rush Yreka, California, and of course, in the hauntingly severe and beautiful lava beds of Tule Lake, the sensational dramatic twists of this true story could not have been conceived by the imagination of the screenwriter. Only the denouement is inevitable: catastrophe on the scale of an epic Shakespearean tragedy. Captain Jack is ultimately the story of two ordinary, best-intentioned, honorable men brutally crushed in a collision of civilizations. With the savage ritualistic inevitability of a Greek tragedy, the Modoc war unfolded as part of our Manifest Destiny, which was the "civilizing" of the North American continent from sea to shining sea.

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More info, photos, etc. about CAPTAIN JACK is available on our website. (see our profile)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By Alan A. Armer (Alana) on Tuesday, March 21, 2000 - 04:59 pm:

MODERATOR ANALYSIS

Captain Jack - This is a tragic and beautiful story, reminiscent of a TV series I once produced. In Broken Arrow, Indian Agent Tom Jeffords and Apache chief Cochise had a relationship that seems to parallel that of Meacham and Captain Jack. Your story is intensely dramatic and heartbreaking - but one that I feel you will have a tough time selling.

Tragic stories about Native Americans have done badly at the boxoffice. Most producers won't touch 'em, alas.

You two use words beautifully and you have described your story extremely well. My advice: put it in a drawer and take it out when the market looks more promising. Perhaps next year!

I wish you well.

Critique by Alan A. Armer


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