Mel's Boarding House

Original Screenplay
Diana J. Dell & Carol A. Dingle & Clara Dell Yacura

WGA Registration Number: 1034029

Log Line: Based on a true story, "Mel's Boarding House" is a timeless and inspiring comedy/drama of the tenacity and spirit of a diverse group of people living together during the Great Depression.

Synopsis: The year is 1937. Workers are unemployed, banks and businesses have failed, people line up at soup kitchens, and families lose their homes. But somewhere in the heart of Pittsburgh, Mel's Boarding House provides an oasis for its residents from the miseries of the Great Depression.

Pre-World War II America may seem an unlikely setting for a fun-loving, nostalgic story about a group of friends sharing a house and jitterbugging their way through a memorable year. The denizens of Mel's Boarding House and their friends and family -- a group made up mostly of teens and 20 and 30-somethings -- swoon over and fall for girls or guys, head off to the movies or a burger joint, plan the next party and generally enjoy the time of their lives amid great hardship in the country. But if not even the Great Depression can dampen the spirits of Mel's lodgers, that does not mean they are indifferent to the troubles around them. On the contrary, what is obvious at the boarding house is truly the very utmost in human kindness and virtue, a spirit of goodness that stands out in sharp contrast to the cynicism that has infested society in recent decades and made people wary of their fellow man.

The beggar, social reject, those in need of money, compassion, or assistance could not possibly be in better hands than in those of the noble residents of Mel's Boarding House and their kin, who never hesitate to put a friend's interest ahead of their own. Truly, this is "The Greatest Generation" on display in all its glory, whether it's helping a Jewish man and fellow boarder who needs money to get his family out of Nazi Germany or defending another lodger from her abusive, Hitler-sympathizing husband. Through it all, the boarders band together and help one another overcome obstacles, remain positive, and fulfill each other’s dreams. Brother, can the occupants of Mel's Boarding House spare a dime? No they really can't, but yes they always do!

Based on a true story, "Mel's Boarding House" celebrates the values of friendship, loyalty and selflessness, a kaleidoscopic montage, weaving several plot strands, with characters who represent the ideological and class factions at that time. Of the main characters, the most heroic and most representative of "The Greatest Generation" is a Rose Bowl-winning University of Pittsburgh football player nicknamed Petro, who is at the center of almost all the acts of kindness in the story. As a focal point for much of the humor, he is a ladies' man majoring in PE who thinks Hamlet is a musical.

This inspiring and timeless comedy/drama, filled with the heartbreaks and joys of life, is a salute to individuals facing the challenges of a bygone age with humor and dignity, tenacity and courage at a time when the nation was crippled by economic misery and the world was on the brink of a cataclysmic military conflict.

"Mel's Boarding House" was one of the top 200 screenplays in the FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards and a semi-finalist in the WinFemme Monthlies.

Another script, "My Name is Anna Busch," a World War II drama, has been optioned by producer LaMont T. Cain and is in development.

Published writer Carol Dingle is the owner of

Diana J. Dell is the author of “Memories Are Like Clouds” and “A Saigon Party: And Other Vietnam War Short Stories.” She also owns the web site,


Books by Diana J. Dell

Books by Carol A. Dingle

Original Screenplays by Carol A. Dingle & Diana J. Dell