Vangie O’Toole, protagonist of Graceland Express, is the lead character in the screenplay CJ Godwin is scripting from the novel. Vangie has a pretty tough life, and often when she has no one else to confide in, she talks to the life-sized Elvis mannequin in her bedroom. Vangie tells him about her difficulty in dealing with a mother who is convinced that she’s been stolen by Gypsies if Vangie leaves her alone. When the K-Mart’s alcoholic boss piles his work on Vangie’s shoulders, it’s Elvis she talks to. When a potential love interest shows up, Elvis is her confidant.
A little strange, perhaps, but a number of lead characters in plays and movies share Vangie’s habit of talking to inanimate objects or invisible people. Take Jimmy Stewart in his role as Elwood P. Dowd. With his imaginary friend, the giant rabbit, Harvey, Elwood goes into a bar and has a drink or two while he and Harvey chat. Soon the other patrons turn his way and begin to smile. Suddenly, Elwood no longer feels alone. He finds that other people are eager to share with him their stories, their problems, their hopes and dreams. A favorite line from the movie: “We entered as strangers,” Elwood says, “and soon we have friends.” The psychologist who’s trying to delve into Elwood’s obsession with Harvey asks if he’s ever known someone with that name. “No,” Elwood says, “that’s why I have such high hopes for it.”
The movie, “The Sixth Sense,” presents a darker, more tragic aspect of the invisible confident. Psychologist Malcolm Crowe, played by Bruce Willis, begins treating a nine-year-old boy, Cole Sear, (played by Haley Joel Osment) who bears a resemblance to another patient Crowe once treated with tragic results. After Crowe earns the boy’s trust, Cole confides to him, “I see dead people . . . walking around just like real people.” Not to give away the movie’s OMG ending for those who haven’t yet viewed it, the boy’s claim proves eerily convincing in an unexpected way.
In a lighter vein, there is Doctor Doolittle who talks to the animals. A couple of favorite lines: Listen, I’m a doctor. Maybe I can help you. If I can’t, then you can eat me. The animals also talk back. The assertive Rat has this snippy comment: Take a hike! You want gratitude? Get a hamster!
Finally, an all-time favorite, The Little Shop of Horrors, a huge success on both stage and screen. Seymour Kelborn works at a florist shop that is about to fold, but the owner is persuaded to allow Seymour to display a plant guaranteed to attract customers. The plant, which Seymour names “Audrey” after his secret girlfriend, achieves its purpose and the shop remains open, but the plant has a more sinister side—it requires human blood to flourish, which Seymour is forced to provide. But there is never enough to feed Audrey’s voracious appetite and soon Seymour becomes not the plant’s owner but its slave. Does the hapless Seymour escape Audrey’s ever increasing demands? A bizarre twist at the end gives the answer.