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BULLY! (Teddy Roosevelt and the Panama Canal)

CHARGE! Rough Rider President Teddy Roosevelt takes on all comers – Banana Republics, Wall Street bigwigs and Congress – to build the Panama Canal. The real story. Can be expanded to TV miniseries. Professional Coverage: “Recommend” Dave Trottier (Author “The Screenwriter’s Bible.”) SEMI-FINALIST Fade In Awards rue Story/Bio Competition

Theodore Roosevelt (TR) becomes president of the United States when William McKinley is assassinated in September 1901. TR heads to Washington with his wife Edith, and rambunctious family of six children including his beautiful but rebellious daughter Alice, 17.

TR upsets the staid Washington political scene with his enthusiasm and progressive ideas. His first project: the interoceanic canal between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, either through Panama or Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan route is popular and is being championed by Congress. TR says he’s neutral (Or is he?) and insists Congress decide the route. But he’s suspicious of foreign involvement and a Panama beset by revolutionaries seeking secession from Colombia.

Meanwhile French promoter Philippe Barilla enlists the service of Washington lobbyist William Nelson to change the national mood about Panama. Nelson believes this can be done but will require “something big” to make it happen.

Nelson then secures the monetary support of Financier J.P.Morgan, who sees it as an opportunity to own a country!

Anticipating potential military action in Panama, TR sends two Army spies to survey the military options. The spies verify the involvement of Germany operatives.

A volcanic eruption on Martinique galvanizes world-wide fear of volcanoes. Then, on the eve of approval of the Nicaraguan route, it is reported that Mount Momotombo, in Nicaragua, has also erupted. (Or did it?) Nelson and Barilla follow-up with anti-Nicaraguan pamphlets and, with Morgan’s money, they intimidate Congress. The Panama route is approved.

Then, Colombia, in hopes of getting more money from America, reneges on permission to build a canal. TR, enraged, plans an invasion to seize Panama from Columbia. But the revolutionary movement, funded by J.P. Morgan, seizes the moment, secedes from Colombia and announces the new of Republic of Panama. They’re backed-up by the American Navy sent to Panama to protect the Panamanian railroad, by treaty.

TR immediately recognizes the Republic of Panama and begins successful negotiations for building the canal. Roosevelt maintains the revolution was spontaneous and he had no involvement. (Hah!)

Throughout the story TR exhibits the strengths and foibles of America’s most fascinating president: • He changes the name of the Executive Mansion to “The White House.” • He leads bodyguards on a horseback chase through Rock Creek Park, shooting his pistol. • He spars with ex-heavyweight boxing champion John L. Sullivan. • He swims the icy Potomac River completely naked. • He leads his cabinet in a musical romp on the Presidential yacht. • He invites Black activist Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House. • He submerses in the first American submarine, the U.S.S Plunger.

As the story ends, TR is asked to mediate the Russo-Japanese war. “That’s a bully idea,” he says, “absolutely bully!”

Script Excerpt
Written by:
Format:
Screenplay
Budget:
Modest
Posted:
07/08/2018
Updated:
10/03/2020
Author Bio:
Jim Saunders is a New York City-based professional writer, playwright, optioned screenplay writer and multiple contest winner. He has many years’ experience writing stage presentations, corporate films and multimedia projects; also a director and occasional actor.

Screenplays

Jim specializes in screenplays based on historical true events (including musicals), bio/pics and/or disasters. In alphabetical order:

“BOJANGLES, EUBIE AND BERT!” Three black musical legends of the past – Bert Williams, Eubie Blake and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson – relive their show business success in spite of racism and theatrical bigotry.

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Contest Results:
Big Apple (First Place) [2019]
New York Screenplay (First Place) [2019]
Emerging Screenwriters Feature (Semifinalist) [2019]
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