First-Place Winner, May - October 2012
Screenplay Contest -
" A Gentleman’s Game "
Written by Mandel E. Holland
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mandel has completed the graduate film program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. His journey to NYU was a long one. After high school, Mandel attended Florida A & M's School of Business and Industry. But after his freshman year, he was forced to leave due to financial hardship. He worked as a handyman and pumped gas before joining the U.S. Army. There, he distinguished himself and was awarded seven (7) service medals and commendations, as well as becoming a U.S. Paratrooper during his two years in the Sixth Ranger Training Battalion before his Honorable Discharge. Mandel then returned to New York and started work as a Paralegal at the law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley &McCloy with plans of becoming an attorney. He resumed his education at Fordham University as a full-time student, while maintaining his full-time job. In his senior year, Mandel decided against a legal career and instead looked into becoming a filmmaker.
Mandel graduated from Fordham with a B.A. in U.S. History, a Minor in African-American Studies, and a 3.0 GPA. Upon graduation, he devised a plan to go to NYU film school and make his first feature film in his third academic year. He continued working and took nonmatriculated writing courses before putting his plan into effect. The plan resulted in the feature film The Other Brother, (2002), starring MehkiPhifer of "8 Mile", "Clockers", "Soul Food" and TV's "ER". Mandel served as writer, producer, director, 1st A.D., and actor on the film.
Since then, Mandel has written ten (10) feature-length screenplays; two of which have been produced independently. Today, his challenge is to continue in a career as a "full service.
Additional Writer Information:
When chasing the American Dream, there are no rules.
A poverty-stricken boy pursues a life of honor... by becoming a criminal.
This crime drama chronicles the life of Frankie Dobbs, an uneducated bookie, and his 40-year rise in the New York City Numbers Racket. Frankie’s desire to live life as a noble man in a criminal career keeps him conflicted to the point of madness. A madness displayed in the rationalization of his illegal enterprise and the manner in which he maintains it. Even as his pursuits destroy everything he cares for, Frankie continues on, chasing the unattainable.
This classic gangster tale is an intimate look at an American sub-culture no historian can depict with accuracy. The author of A Gentleman’ s Game grew up a child of this world and has a one- of-a-kind perspective on the players, bosses, and intrigue that millions are aware of, but no outsider can ever know.
Audiences will love scenes like the one set in the back room of the protagonists’ bar, where a group of friends are playing cards. They’re laughing, and joking and having a great time when suddenly one of them pulls out a gun blows another man’s brains out!... the murder has nothing to do with the game...
The A Gentleman’s Game screenplay, copyright, and story idea below are owned by Mandel E. Holland. No copying of any of the below pages is allowed unless approved by owner.
INT. APARTMENT - NIGHT
“Got To Be Real” By Cheryl Lynn plays as score while HORACE
(Black, large build, dark skin, 30’s) moves about the room in
a jovial fashion. He’s getting ready for a night out on the
town. He checks himself out one last time in the mirror.
SOLID! He leaves. CARD OVER PICTURE (IN MIRROR) READS:
Horace struts down the street, moving with a purpose. He
passes a man he knows who tries to pull him into a
conversation. But Horace keeps going. He pauses to admire a
good-looking woman before going into “The Rendezvous”.
Horace is greeted by the bartender and a couple of the
regulars. The bartender gives these last few patrons the bums
rush. The clock on the wall reads 3:40.
INT. GAME ROOM - MOMENTS LATER
Three men are at a table, laughing and talking while playing
cards. They’re showing no signs of quitting.
Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, you can’t
You can’t look at the cards he
I wasn’t looking at his cards. I
was just moving ‘em, they was on
top of the money.
Junior, was he looking at the cards
you threw in?
Hell yeah he was looking at the
cards I threw in. He been doin’
that shit all night.
No I wasn’t--
Yes you was. You been doin’ that
shit all night.
You think I’m cheatin’?
Nigga I know you cheatin’. Junior?
There’s a knock at the door.
How y’all gone say that?
Same way you gone sit up there and
tell a bold face lie.
Was that the door
I don’t know. How could I be cheatin’ and
be down damn near two-hundred
Another knock at the door.
Cause you stink nigga!
Frankie laughs as he goes to the door.
Why you think we always calling yo’
ass to play.
Frankie looks through the peep-hole before opening the door.
Horace walks in.
Hey! There he is! My main man
Horace walks toward the table, smiling.
What’s happenin’ baby?
Frankie and Junior in here ripping
Frankie and Junior laugh.
Maybe with you playin’ I can get
some of my money back.
(raising his glass)
Frankie whips out a Colt 45 and BANG! (Music Stops) The
bullet snaps Deacon’s head back, shattering his glass. BANG!!
BANG!!! BANG!!!! BANG!!!!! BANG!!!!!!
Deacon falls back in his chair, kicking over the card table
on his way to the floor.
Junior, still seated, uncovers his ears and looks down at
Deacon. “Stagger Lee” By Lloyd Price starts to play.
The night was clear...
Deacon’s contorted body lies dead on the floor.
And the moon, was yellow...
The Colt 45, still smoking in Horace’s hand.
And the leaves-came-tum-bling-
Frankie takes a drag from his cigar, looking at Deacon. He
pauses for a moment before exhaling the smoke.
The horns sound, “DA DA, DA DA...”
TITLE CARD OVER BLACK: A GENTLEMAN’S GAME
INT. CARPET STORE - DAY
“Stagger Lee” plays on the radio as a boy stares out the
large storefront window (FRANKIE DOBBS, Black, 15 yrs.).
TITLE CARD OVER PICTURE: 1959
I remember the first time I ever
saw a Cadillac.
EXT. CARPET STORE
A big black Cadillac is parked right in front of the store.
I was with my Mother and we were
coming back from my Aunt Muzz’s
house in Brooklyn. We got off the
subway in Mid-Town to see the
Christmas displays. I musta seen
ten Caddies that day.
A BLACK MAN approaches the car. He’s handsome, distinctive,
and well dressed. He gets in the car and takes off. The music
fades away as the car disappears.
INT. CARPET STORE
Frankie watches the car for as long as he can before it
But that was the first time I’d
ever seen one uptown.
A MAN grabs Frankie’s arm.
Boy what I tell about gettin’ lost!
Didn’t you hear me callin’ you?
RUFUS DOBBS (Black, 40’s), Frankie’s father, drags him away
from the window.
Get your butt to the storeroom and
get this lady’s rug! She been
waitin’ ten minutes!
Rufus gives Frankie a shove before apologizing to the WOMAN.
(“HEY LITTLE GIRL” By Dee Clark plays as score.) Frankie
looks angry as he steals glances at the PRETTY TEENAGED GIRL
with the Woman(ALTHEA PAYNE, 15 yrs.). His look softens.
I worked for tips at my Father’s
job on the weekends. And every weekend
he’d have something to yell at me about.
Most of the time I deserved it.
EXT. CARPET STORE
Frankie loads the rug into the woman’s car.
What made it so bad this time was
that he did it in front of Althea
Payne. The prettiest and most
popular girl in school.
Frankie finishes and finds himself staring at Althea. Her
grandmother catches him.
Althea get in the car.
Althea leaves. Nana Payne gives Frankie a coin tip, then
gives him a look that would melt steel.
I’ll thank you not to be lusting
after my granddaughter.
Embarrassed, Frankie goes back into the store.
I was always getting in trouble at
work because it wasn’t what I
wanted to do.
Inside the store, Rufus is apologizing to his BOSS for
Hauling carpet worked for my
father. But it didn’t work for me.
INT. APARTMENT - NIGHT
“Lonely Teardrops” By Jackie Wilson plays as Frankie sits on
his bed doing a pencil drawing of Radio City Music Hall in
his notebook. His tip money is on the bed near his feet.
The final straw was when my father
decided it was time for me to learn
the facts of life.
Rufus walks into the room and over to Frankie.
RUFUS FRANKIE (V.O.)
Frankie, I think it’s about From now on, I had to give
time you start learning the my father half my tip money.
facts of life. The first is,know You for rent, food,
nothing in this world is everything I was getting up
free. You’re a man now, until now for free.
earning money... It’s time
you start paying your own way.
Rufus divided up the coins, then took half of them.
This was supposed to make me take
my job more seriously.
This will make you take your job
Rufus continued to pontificate.
Only thing it did was make me hate
that job even more.
Frankie goes back to drawing, nodding periodically as Rufus
One day, a teacher I had saw some
of my drawings...
Frankie looks at his drawing of Radio City, then looks off
into the distance.
EXT. RADIO CITY - DAY
From the same perspective as the drawing, Frankie stands on
6th Avenue looking at the building.
And got me a job at her husband’s
company, where they design
buildings to be built all over the
We hear, “Ding”.
INT. OFFICE BUILDING - DAY
Frankie gets off the elevator looking for the architect’s
office. He finds it. (“Maybe” By The Chantels plays as
Since I was out of school for the
summer, I worked there all day
Frankie is inside taking lunch orders.
I still kept my weekend job at
Sloan’s, since I wasn’t getting
paid at all here.
Frankie is cleaning the staff kitchenette.
Mrs. Perry never told me
internship means you work for free.
Frankie comes back from picking up a package.
Still, I was downtown. I figured,
I’ll pay my dues for a few weeks,
then I’ll get some real work. But
when a few weeks passed, and I
hadn’t seen pencil nor paper the
first, I spoke up.
Mr. Perry. You think I’ll get to do
some drawin’ soon?
Frankie, you’re not going to be
doing any drawing here.
But Mrs. Perry said--
Mrs. Perry is a teacher. She
doesn’t know how the world of
architecture works. You have to
have a college degree to draw here.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t
have a place here. You continue to
work hard as you have been these
past weeks, and you’ll easily become
our residen‘Guy Friday’.
EXT. OFFICE BUILDING - DAY
Frankie wanders out of the building. He looks dazed and
MR. PERRY (O.S.)
Yeah. You know, making deliveries,
keeping the office clean, fixing
things, a ‘Jack-of-all-Trades’ if
Frankie drifts into the street.
MR. PERRY (O.S.)
And who knows, with your smarts and
‘go-getter’ attitude, you may even
grow up to become my personal
A Big Black Car comes screeching to a halt, inches before
killing Frankie! Frankie looks over at the car... It’s a
Cadillac. FREEZE ON FRANKIE.
That was my last day at that job.
And the last time I ever worked
below a hundred and tenth street.
EXT. FRANKIE’S BUILDING - DAY
(“Yakety Yak” By The Coasters plays as score.) Frankie is on
the side of the stoop with a half-dozen other boys in the
throws of a dice game.
That summer, our hustle day was
Monday. I started working at
Sloan’s during the week, but the
showroom was closed on Mondays. My
Father still worked because they
took in shipments and cut carpets
for installs on Mondays.
Among the boys is JUNIOR EDMONDS (Black, 15 yrs.).
Junior worked in the laundry on
Morningside and they were closed on
Another one of the boys is HORACE CARTWRIGHT (Black, husky,
Horace didn’t have a job. So he
pretty much hustled everyday.
Frankie, Junior, and Horace are winning. The others get
upset, but keep playing.
We’d roll dice on the stoop, play
cards in the park, whatever was
clever, we was doin’ it. It was
only chump change mostly. But
anything that got some fool to put
his money in our pockets, was cool
Frankie is shaking the dice in his hand when he looks over
his shoulder and sees a Big Black Cadillac pull up and stop
at the light.
Frankie turns toward and pauses, staring at the car. He sees
the driver as the driver sees him. It’s the same guy that was
parked outside the carpet store.
Green. The car pulls off. “Good Golly Miss Molly” by Little
Richard cranks up full blast as Frankie drops the dice and
chases the car.
Hey Frankie! Where you goin’?
He can’t leave. He gotta give me
chance to win my money back!
Game over nigga.
Horace punches the Kid in the face! Junior joins in on the
vicious beat-down as Horace takes his money and the other
kids take off running.
Frankie is trotting at first, then starts running. Struggling
to keep the car in sight.
Frankie chases the Caddie for blocks before it pulls over
(music from radio stops). The man gets out of the car. As he
reaches the curb, Frankie comes barreling up to him.
Whoa! Goddamn boy! What the hell
you doin’ runnin’ up on me like you
(catching his breath)
Sorry sir. I saw you... back
there... at the light.
You mean way back there on one
Well, you caught me. What chu’
That’s a... Really nice car.
You ran behind me all this way to
tell me something I already know?
Frankie searches for an answer.
You really like this car don’t you
What’s your name?
Frankie Dobbs sir.
What chu’ do for money when you
ain’t shooting dice?
I work for tips down at Sloan’s
Carpet and Rugs.
You like that job?
Reece looks him up and down, then smiles slightly.
Come down to a hundred thirty
second, between seventh and eighth
tomorrow. Ask for Reece.
He reaches in his pocket and pulls out a wad of cash the size
of a grapefruit! He peels off a twenty dollar bill and hands
it to Frankie.
We’ll see if we can put some real
money in your pocket.
Reece walks away.
Thank you Mr. Reece!
Frankie stares down at his new dub. A smile overwhelms his face.