Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
In this play, the question of the worth of a commodity is made the center of the conflict. Far from being useless, worthless property, as in Glengarry Glen Ross, here the “product” is a film script more or less guaranteed to make money versus a very questionable project that has no real value but is valuable to the spirit of the men involved.
Bobby Gould, a newly promoted production executive, is visited by an old “friend and associate,” Charlie Fox. Gould has “a new deal” with the money man, Ross (offstage). In a power position, Gould is constantly “promoted” by other producers who want him to approve their film deals. He is wary of being “promoted,” but Fox, an old friend and business associate, brings him a perfect project—a name actor has agreed to “cross the street.” Fox does not “go through channels”—a metaphor for the disguises, the safeguards between people and their emotions—not because he trusts his friendship with Gould, but because he is sure that his film opportunity will appeal to Gould on a business level.
Money versus people is the theme, as Gould and Fox themselves agree: When the “deal” starts to slip away, what are the real values? The question of loyalty and friendship versus the world of business, as in Glengarry Glen Ross and American Buffalo, comes up again. “It’s only words unless they’re true,” says Fox. Another property, by an Eastern...
(The entire section is 677 words.)
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Speed-the-Plow opens in Bobby Gould’s new office in the morning. Gould, the newly promoted head of production at a movie studio is reading a book when Charlie Fox enters. Fox is very excited about something, but Gould continues to leaf through the book he is reading, making fun of its contents. Gould becomes suspicious when Fox asks if he can ‘‘greenlight’’ (approve) a movie deal, but his fears are quickly abated as Fox elaborates. Fox was visited earlier in the morning by a big movie star, Doug Brown, who is free to do a movie with him based on a prison script that Fox had sent him earlier; the star has given Fox until 10 am tomorrow to come up with a deal. Gould immediately calls his superior, Ross, and while he waits for him to call back, he and Fox discuss the Doug Brown story.
Ross calls back and says they will meet in ten minutes. In the meantime, Gould and Fox discuss the script, which is a prison movie/buddy picture, with ‘‘action, blood, and a social theme.’’ Before Fox can ask, Gould assures him that he will get a coproducer credit. Gould thanks Fox for his loyalty because he could have taken the deal elsewhere. They discuss the strategy for the meeting. Gould will do the talking, summarizing the script in one line for Ross. Before they can finish, Ross calls telling Gould that he has to be out of town until tomorrow morning. Fox worries that his option will expire before they can talk to...
(The entire section is 1245 words.)