Genre: Crime/Heist.
Premise: In 1960’s Dallas, a desperate wife of a losing gambler forms the Dollfaces, a group of misfit bandits who go on a spree of robbing underground card rooms run by the mafia to win back her husband’s losses.
About: This script competed in January’s Scriptshadow Logline Showdown. It was beaten by the behemoth that was Call of Judy. But it crawled its way off the battlefield and made it back to my computer, determined to get reviewed.
Writer: Alex Beattie
Details: 95 pages

So I was sitting there looking for a script to review. I had a few older spec sales that were in the running. As well as the scripts on the most recent Black List. But after Friday’s Logline Showdown Review, I realized that that poker logline from the Logline Showdown was still dancing around in my head. And I thought, “Why don’t I just review that?”

That’s the cool thing about Logline Showdown. If I like an idea, regardless of whether it wins or not, I can still review it! So that’s what I’m going to do gosh darnnit. I hope you all join me.

20-something Peggy Abbot lives in Dallas in the 1960s. Her husband is the world’s biggest loser. In more ways than one. The main way is that he’s gambled his family into an insane amount of debt via these local underground poker games that the mafia holds. It’s gotten so bad that he’s had to pawn his wife’s most expensive piece of jewelry, a pendant necklace.

Peggy is trying to keep it together despite being a month away from being kicked out of her home and having to raise two young children. She’s at her wit’s end. One night she follows her husband to one of these poker games wearing a mask, watches him lose the last of their money, then holds up the whole table with a gun. Due to a convenient distraction, she’s able to scoop up a few thousand dollars and make a run for it.

Peggy then meets a few people. There’s her snobby neighbor, Connie, who bothers Peggy about her unkempt yard. There’s Rhonda, a black woman who performs voodoo themed magic shows downtown. And there’s Rhonda’s roommate, Gertrude, a buff Hungarian woman who could probably beat up all of the Avengers and still have enough strength left for leg day.

Peggy explains what she was able to do all by herself and pitches them becoming a group that routinely crashes these underground games and steals their money. All three women have their own reasons for needing money so they’re in! The team grabs themselves three more masks, becomes the dollfaces, and starts robbing card games.

Everything is going swell until one of the mobsters, a hot dude named Vincent who knows Peggy through other circumstances, figures out she’s a dollface. He takes her out to the middle nowhere to kill her but then, inexplicably leaves her there. It’s then that she realizes Vincent is working undercover for the Feds. But, Vincent says, in order to keep that cover, he’ll have to kill her the next time she tries to rob them. Will Peggy and the Dollfaces listen? Or will she hang up her mask for good?

Loglines are funny things.

Sometimes, you see in them what you want to see rather than what’s actually there.

And with this logline, what I was most attracted to was this idea of a group of women infiltrating these poker games, a traditionally male activity, and beating them at poker. So, basically, beating them at their own game. I thought that would be a really fun movie. Sort of a twist on that movie, “21,”

But it turns out the women just go into these games with brute force and rob the men.

I’m not saying that’s a bad idea. There’s still a movie there. If there’s one thing that sets this logline apart from its competition, it’s that it’s exactly what Hollywood is looking for right now.

One of the things Hollywood loves is when you lean into a trend but find a way where it doesn’t feel so obvious. For example, if everything was the same with this concept, except it was set in 2023, it would be too on-the-nose. It would be, “#METOO #WOMENSEMPOWERMENT.” By setting in the 60s, it feels more genuine and like its own thing.

But the reason I think brute force robbery isn’t as good as the women playing poker games is that brute force robbery does’t take any thought. Indeed, the majority of these robberies require zero thinking whatsoever. It’s literally, “Okay, you act strong. You distract them. You keep the car running. I’ll yell and collect the money.”

It’s so much more satisfying for audiences when your heroes have to outthink the antagonists. Or, in the case of what I was hoping for, beat them at their own game.

Screenplays are a funny thing.

Because when they don’t give you what you hoped for, they never quite recover. Even when the writing is strong. And I do think the writing is strong here.

Alex introduces us to our characters. He sets up their dire circumstances. He shows the bad guys taking advantage of people, so that we’ll want to see them go down. He throws in the occasional twist. And he keeps the story moving at a brisk pace. Maybe the first act could’ve moved a little quicker. But once we got to the second act, we were constantly moving forward.

So why isn’t this a “worth the read?” Is it just because I wanted a different movie?


I don’t think Peggy was set up well. Her introductory scene has another character, Connie, outshine her (Connie is upset because Peggy’s uncut lawn is driving down the value of Connie’s home). That’s unacceptable. I cannot stress how unacceptable that is.

This is f***ing screenwriting, man. Nobody gives you the benefit of the doubt. You don’t get to introduce the most important character in your story in a passive capacity where she’s outshone by another character.

If you have HBO Max, go watch the opening scene of Enlightened. Watch how that character is introduced. Better yet, here it is.

I’m not saying that every character needs to have a breakdown to have an impactful introduction but you need SOMETHING. A character needs to POP when you introduce them. I was 20-30 pages into his when I realized, “Oh, I guess Peggy is our main character.” That shouldn’t be something I gradually realize.

Another problem here is that the robberies all felt the same. This is why I wanted them playing poker rather than robbing. Because poker allows for unique scenarios every time. Sticking a gun in someone’s face and saying, “Give us the money” can’t evolve that much.

There were some small developments like the bad guys bringing over some OG mafia men from the old country. But the robberies (minus the climax) still felt the same. Also, since they’re robbing the same people over and over again – trained Mafia mind you – you would think that our Mafia would be more prepared. Yet they never are.

You want to do the opposite of that in screenwriting. You want to make things hard for your heroes. Not easy. I would’ve made their second robbery 10 times more difficult than their first. And their third robbery 10 times more difficult than their second. Make your heroes have to work for it. Everything’s too easy here.

This script has some good bones. But it needs to be stuffed inside a nuclear reactor. It’s all a little too casual. Regardless, I wish Alex luck with it. Especially because I can see agents and production companies being interested in a movie like this. So I hope something comes of it.

Screenplay Link: Poker Dollface

[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: “I Need To Set Her Up Syndrome” – I Need To Set Her Up Syndrome is when you’re so focused on ticking all the boxes that you want the reader to know about your hero that you forget to actually introduce them in a powerful memorable entertaining way. Sure, I know that Peggy has two young children and her yard isn’t well-kept because they’re low on money and that her husband kinda sucks. Great, I’m glad I have that information. But guess what? I’m bored. That’s the scratch you have to itch first – MAKING YOUR READER NOT BORED. Not the exposition scratch. That should always be the secondary scratch.