< Light Millennium: "A Kiss For Joe" (Treatment) by Pedro Mallol
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"A Kiss For Joe"

by Pedro MALLOL

City of Iquique, early 1920's. A boy named Arturo Godoy watches his father, a poor fisherman, glide off shore on a boat. A big storm breaks and the boat  never returns. As the eldest son, Arturo must take care of his mother and his little brothers. The survival entanglement of those times force Arturo to transit through a long list of low-paying jobs such as stevedore, fisherman, smuggler and ultimately a sort of paid street fighter.  A sports journalist sees one of Arturo's fights. Shortly after Arturo is "discovered" and enters professional boxing under the wing of the once prominent manager Louis Bouey. Some time later Arturo wins the national games of 1931 as a medium heavyweight.

Bouey decides to take Arturo to Buenos Aires to get him into major league fighting. There, Arturo makes an excellent campaign with a substantial wave of victories. After earning money and a reputation, Arturo meets Leda Urbinati, an Argentinean actress who later becomes Arturo's first wife. Surprisingly Arturo defeats a boxing living legend:  Firpo, the notorious "raging bull of the Pampas". Right around this time Arturo has an intense affair with a mysterious woman curiously referred to as "Madame O". She, an eccentric and strikingly beautiful Chilean aristocrat, demands both her identity and her relationship with Arturo to remain secret.

Louis Bouey is now thinking big, so he decides to take Arturo to try his luck in the United States. Shortly after the arrival to New York, Bouey dies of a heart attack. This hurts Arturo badly, but he commits himself to fight whenever opportunity calls. Leda, his brand-new wife, already tired of him and the Northern Hemisphere winter decides to go back to Buenos Aires on her own. Arturo wants to make some money, hoping to get at least one decent rival. Then he meets Al Weill, a streetwise, pushy boxing manager who sees potential in Arturo's fists. However, Arturo goes to Buenos Aires where he learns about Leda's infidelity. Disappointed, Arturo goes back to Chile. A few years pass.

Back in Iquique Arturo gets a wire from Al Weill saying that he has arranged a match for the world's crown against the heavyweights champ, the unbeatable "Brown Bomber", Joe Louis. Arturo can hardly believe the news. With his characteristic happy-go-lucky style Arturo leaves for New York with a group of friends as his personal crew. There he finds Weill and Leda, who has come from Buenos Aires in a reconciliation mood, but he has lost all interest in working out the relationship with her. Meanwhile, Arturo meets "O"secretly.

The actual fight with Louis takes place in the Madison Square Garden.  Arturo surprises the boxing world with an excellent performance. Brave rather than skillful, Arturo stands up to the last round, an unusual feat given Joe Louis's fearsome record. He even ridicules the fight by kissing Louis on the face a couple of times. In the end, the jury makes Arturo lose in a divided verdict. The spectators are not happy about the outcome and even the Bomber's matchmaker talks about giving Arturo a second chance, a re-match. There also, Arturo meets Gabriel Meredith, a young Chilean-American who made himself notable during the match by constantly yelling: get down Godoy!. Arturo, Meredith and the whole crew go out to celebrate.

Partly thanks to the press and Meredith, Arturo gets his re-match officially scheduled for June. It is decided that  Arturo will have to train intensely until then. During this period Arturo becomes very close to Meredith and, at the same time, tries to stay away from both Leda and "O". Arturo's personal crew is also a source of tension: Galvarino and Evaristo can't help constantly disputing, while Leda hates both of them because of their poor background. Fernandito, the sparring, simply doesn't get involved. The core of this troublesome situation is that Arturo is unable to get "O" off his mind and Leda off his back. As the re-match date gets closer, Weill makes every effort to keep Arturo focused on it. Arturo himself asks Meredith to take care of "O" while he trains. Inevitably, Meredith will be mesmerized and ultimately seduced by the attractive woman.

The Louis-Godoy re-match has an almost tragic ending: more than a dozen policemen intervene to keep Arturo from getting crushed by a raging Joe Louis. Strangely, this eloquent defeat does not seem to affect Arturo so badly. The whole group, Meredith included, return to Chile. There, Arturo is welcomed like a national hero. After a few months in Iquique, Arturo finally divorces Leda. Meredith has to go back to New York, but he has neither the money nor the nerve to ask Arturo for it. He goes to see "O". She agrees to pay for Meredith's trip, but with extraordinary coldness, she tells him their relationship is over. Some time after these events Arturo retires from boxing.

Years go by. Arturo returns to boxing as an instructor and opens a family restaurant with his new wife. Alcohol had finally killed Galvarino. Meredith has been living in Iquique for years. While teaching in the military academy, Arturo has a sour dispute with Officer Augusto Pinochet. Around that time Joe Louis calls Arturo to tell him that he's in a bad financial shape and wants to come to South America to fight for money. Arturo gladly accepts to help. Meanwhile, Meredith comes to Santiago and visits "O" once more. Harsher than ever, she declares that she has completely erased him and Arturo from her life. Meredith decides not to tell anyone about it. He attends the Godoy-Louis match, which turns out to be more of a boxing exhibit. After the "show", Arturo, Louis and Meredith go around Santiago. The scene is rather sad; Louis looks old, beaten and confused. At one point Meredith tells Arturo about his meeting with "O". Arturo asks Meredith for details as he refuses to believe the degree her "O" bitterness. But he knows Meredith is telling the truth. A few days later, visibly wretched, Arturo storms into an exclusive social club and finds "O". Before getting kicked out and making sure that everyone hears, Arturo calls her by her real name "Olivia Uribarri- and then exposes their secret and old love affair. For the first time "O" loses her self-control; she's humiliated, speechless.

Arturo organizes a barbecue to reunite his old pals. There, Fernandito and Evaristo hassle Meredith about working in a communist newspaper. Even when the accusation is somewhat true, Meredith refuses put up for an argument and leaves. Then Arturo explodes destroying almost every single object near him. The violence of his reaction scares his friends away. The 1973's military coup takes place. Arturo watches TV to learn about the country's new situation. Suddenly he recognizes former officer Pinochet's face behind the frightening dark shades of the new dictator.

Weeks after the coup Arturo shuffles old books from a street stand. Unexpectedly he sees "O" right in front of him. In silence they stare one another for a moment: there is something both familiar and lost in her gaze. Then she turns around and walks away.

Iquique. Meredith looks physically wasted and very thin. Knowing he's in the new authority's black list, Meredith ships a manuscript entitled "Life and combats of Arturo Godoy" to Al Weill in New York. Later Meredith walks along the dusty streets of an abandoned mining town, with a deadpan expression. Meredith enters an empty house and hangs himself.

Years go by. Arturo is a guest in a sports TV show. The main dish: a clown-like kickboxing fight. Arturo is asked to comment, but he has nothing serious to say about it. Then they talk about his fights with Joe Louis, asking Arturo what he would say to him if he were watching the show. "That I send him a kiss" is his answer. The last image is a frozen, classic Arturo Godoy's smile. His facial expression is weary and slightly sad.

* * *

Biography of Pedro Mallol

After studying Architecture at Universidad de Chile (Santiago, Chile), Pedro gradually shifted to filmmaking starting at the Arts and Communication Sciences Program (Universidad ARCIS, Santiago) and continuing to the New School University, New York. Since then, Pedro has written and directed four short films, written awarded scripts and worked in several feature films projects in South America as well as in the US.

As a screenwriter, Pedro has been the recipient of several awards and grants such as the Luchino Visconti Award (funded by the Italian government), best script for "Día de Pago", 1997; the Fondart Grant, (Chilean Board of Education) for the making of the short film "Día de Pago", 1998, Hubert Bals Grant, (Rotterdam Film Festival), short list finalist for project development of feature film "Un beso para Joe", 1999; Corfo Grant (Chilean Economy Ministry) project development of feature film "Amor que mata", 1999; Ibermedia Grant, (Spanish Government), project development of feature film "Un beso para Joe", 2000.

Amongst Pedro’s production credits we can mention his participation as either a Director Assistant or a Line Producer in the successful Chilean feature films "El hombre que imaginaba", "Mi Famosa Desconocida"and "Sueños de Verano".

While attending school in NYC (91-95), participated in the making of several short films and the independent feature films "Bagel & Lox",  "Ticket to Freedom" and "The Beauty of things".

_ . _

E-mail to Pedro Mallol: pmallol@hotmail.com
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