Architect’s Rendition: A New Screenplay by Herb Schultz

NEW YORK, NY, USA - JUNE 9: Aerial view of Flat Iron building, b

Gerald and Wren look up at the building.

I just love the detail.

Yeah. Daniel Burnham went a little overboard on the dentils and pilasters and those things at the top that look like cartouche. Pretty much the opposite of what my firm designs. Still, it’s a marvelous structure.
It’s like a mighty plow in one of those Depression-Era WPA murals, furrowing Manhattan into Broadway and Fifth Avenue.

I never thought of it that way.

It’s more apparent from my office. Would you like to take a look?

Love to.

Architect’s Rendition Synopsis

“Determined to marry his mistress, an architect enlists three associates in a complex scheme to murder his wife, and each other.”

Set in Manhattan in the early 2000s, the action opens with a series of shots of some of New York City’s finest architectural gems: Guggenheim Museum, Seagram Building, Lever House, Whitney Museum, TWA terminal, Standard Hotel, New Museum, Hearst Building, IAC Building, Plaza Hotel, The Oculus, Chrysler Building, The United Nations Building. The final shot is of the Flatiron Building illuminated at dusk in the manner of Edward Steichen’s famous photograph. From there the action moves across Madison Square Park toward an office high-rise a couple blocks away inside which forty-something Gerald Pfalzgraf works at his desk. Gerald is the handsome, well-dressed proprietor of a high-end boutique architecture firm catering to wealthy clients in the market for sleek homes with bold lines.

Disgusted after discovering one of the architects in his high-end boutique firm in Manhattan has downloaded illegal pornography, Gerald walks the street in contemplation of how he might exploit his compromised employee, Oscar. Gerald happens upon a domestic argument and witnesses a physical altercation between a young woman, Wren and her brutish ex-boyfriend, Sinisa. Smitten with Wren from the moment she took a shot to the jaw, Gerald follows Wren at a distance until she ducks into the bar where she works. Gerald resolves to find out more about her.

With time, Gerald, a handsome man in his mid-forties develops a romantic relationship with Wren, a real beauty half his age with smooth alabaster skin and shoulder-length golden hair. Gerald knows Wren is the one for him, but his pursuit of happiness is impeded by a rocky 20-year marriage to a wealthy, manipulative woman, Morcilla. She rarely passes up an opportunity to remind Gerald that it is her largesse and influence that helped him build and grow his architecture firm, Pfalzgraf Associates. And of late, Morcilla has signaled a growing disinterest in offering further support for her husband and his business interests. If only Gerald could move Morcilla aside and confiscate her wealth.

At the bank to secure financing for office expansion, Gerald spots Tom, an old school chum whose highway construction firm is in financial trouble. Gerald recalls that Tom had been a sharpshooter in the Army. He offers to help Tom who mistakenly presumes Pfalzgraf Associates requires some form of construction service.

Wren informs Gerald that Sinisa has stepped up his abusive harassment, convincing Gerald that the ex-boyfriend poses one more impediment to his happiness. After he concludes Sinisa must also be moved aside, Gerald architects a complex enterprise of mayhem. Guided by Machiavelli, his childhood hero, Gerald wields the tools of deception, manipulation and opportunism; he knows that men who seek to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived.

Gerald coerces sharpshooter Tom to shoot Morcilla from afar in what would appear to be a random act of violence in the manner of the famous DC sniper. Holding the threat of incarceration over Oscar’s head, Gerald manipulates his employee to push Tom into the path of an oncoming subway train. Under the guise of a fixer for a client, Gerald meets Sinisa at a casino where he hires him to kill Oscar and stage it to look like suicide. In the briefcase containing Sinisa’s payoff, Gerald includes a complimentary bag of cocaine laced with poisonous ricin, knowing Sinisa cannot resist snorting the contents post haste. Within hours of dispatching Oscar, a choking Sinisa stumbles from his apartment to seek medical attention. Instead, he tumbles down a flight of stairs, suffering a mortal blow to the head at the bottom.

While convening with a big-time client far from Manhattan, Gerald learns that Morcilla has been killed, and that a deranged hillbilly has taken credit for shooting her. This unexpected turn of events is more than Gerald could hope for. By the time Gerald returns home, his plan has been flawlessly executed. But when Wren finds a casino chip in Gerald’s suit pocket, she begins to suspect Gerald may be connected to the sudden deaths of both his wife and Wren’s tormentor. Gerald convinces Wren he knows nothing.

Gerald and Wren get married. After a long honeymoon they return to Manhattan to take up residence in the luxury Fifth Avenue apartment formerly occupied by Gerald and Morcilla. All is well – until the district attorney informs Gerald that the hillbilly who confessed to the killing has recanted. And with new evidence in hand they intend to re-open the investigation of the sniper shooting. Where it may lead, nobody knows.

As his new, young wife admires the view of Central Park from the balcony, Gerald drinks a cocktail and considers his next move.

Read the screenplay.

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