Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Ed Wood Summit Podcast #7 by Greg Dziawer and W. Paul Apel

Knute Rockne (left) hands the sacred Notre Dame football program over to Frank Leahy.

The cover to Ed's script.
This week on The Ed Wood Summit Podcast, it was my privilege to speak to Wood superfan W. Paul Apel, whom I met through a private Facebook group. Our topic of conversation was the newly-unearthed screenplay The Frank Leahy Legend, a sports biopic originally written by Ed in the mid-1970s but never actually produced. As you'll soon see from the video, this unusual document provided a lot of fodder for speculation and discussion. Even in a career as varied as Ed Wood's, this script stands out.

As a prelude to the two-hour-plus podcast, however, Paul himself shares his thoughts:
Perhaps one of the most confounding entries on Ed Wood’s resumé is the mysterious unproduced screenplay The Frank Leahy Legend, written for the equally mysterious Scotty Williams Entertainment, and based on a book by the same name by Bernard J. Williams.

Up until now, no Ed Wood experts have read the screenplay or reviewed it, let alone published their findings, but that’s not where the mystery ends. How did Wood, an underdog who wore his quirks on his (angora) sleeve, end up writing about macho, win-at-all-costs Notre Dame coach and Knute Rockne protégé Frank Leahy?

We may never know. However, Greg Diawer and I finally secured a copy of the lost Wood screenplay and thoroughly dissected, reviewed and discussed it here. Now, Woodologists everywhere will finally get a glimpse into this once obscure line on Wood’s resumé and find out if Wood’s irrepressible personality and unique style make it into Leahy’s life story – or if this is ultimately a work for hire, devoid of Woodian weirdness.

Thanks, Paul. And now, on with the show.

Although we cannot share the script itself in full, I would like to provide a few snippets from it. Here, for instance, is a brief passage from early in the screenplay when the title character is a mere infant. This scene gives you some sense of what the character's domineering father, Frank Leahy, Sr., is like. You might compare him to Glen's sports-loving father (Captain DeZita) in Glen or Glenda (1953).

Born to be a boxer? Time will tell.

This next passage, taken from later in the screenplay, is interesting because it mentions both alcohol and women's garters. Also note that Ed Wood didn't necessarily plan on directing The Frank Leahy Legend himself. He stipulates that the staging of the scene is left "to the discretion of the director." Similar notations can be found through the 1958 screenplay for Trial By Terror.

What would a football picture be without fancy garters?

Lastly, I include the following excerpt for reasons that should be obvious to any Ed Wood fan.

Ed Wood is Ed Wood, no matter what the case may be.

Yes, even in a biopic about Notre Dame football coach Frank Leahy, Eddie manages to work in a reference to angora.

NOTE: All previous installments of The Ed Wood Summit Podcast can be found here.