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Маджестик/ Majestic

IN BLACK...

... the insistent, persistent, eight-to-the-bar beat of BOOGIE-WOOGIE. Hot, exciting, pulsating rhythm, ramping up.

THEN...

... in the blackness, falling s-l-o-w-l-y, tumbling g-e-n-t-l-y, a picture-postcard:

"GREETINGS FROM HOLLYWOOD!"

Then another... and another, each one dropping through frame, a gentle rain.

In these old postcards, Hollywood is a dream town where movie stars glide out of big cars to press their hands-and- footprints in the wet cement.

Another postcard:

"I'M MEETING THE STARS AT HOLLYWOOD & VINE!"

In this postcard myth, you'd toddle down to Hollywood and Vine, bump into Bogie and Bacall, and join them for dinner at the Brown Derby. Or Ciro's. Or the Coconut Grove...

More postcards. Pictures of movie theaters, but not the ones that you and I know today. These are palaces. Temples. Grauman's Chinese and Egyptian. The Carthay Circle. The Paramount, the Million Dollar. From a time when moviegoing was a complete experience, not a trip to the local mall. The ushers were friendly and helpful and wore gold brocaded jackets and guided you to your seat. The popcorn was hot and fresh and buttered with real butter, not 30-weight motor oil.

CUT TO:

THE PILE OF POSTCARDS

a wild jumble. Then, one LAST POSTCARD drops lazily on top of the pile. It's a view of Hollywood at night, a carpet of lights under the yawning, protective smile of Mt. Lee's most famous resident, the fully-lit HOLLYWOOD SIGN. We PUSH INTO THE PICTURE OF THE SIGN, DISSOLVING UNTIL WE'RE...

... PUSHING INTO THE REAL HOLLYWOOD SIGN, closer and closer, until we fly right through it -- then crazily loop up and behind it until we're looking down at...

EXT. HOLLYWOOD (AERIAL VIEW) - NIGHT

SUPER TITLE: 1951

A gigantic aerial shot. Postwar autos fill the muggy midsummer evening air with the sounds of thousands of HONKING HORNS, a mere precursor to the traffic yet to come. Darkened outlying neighborhoods are evidence of the postwar home construction boom, as scores of stucco bungalows are being built in the areas surrounding the beating heart of the town, a swath of garishly bright concrete called

HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD.

PETE'S NARRATION (V.O.) Of course, it's not like the postcards say it is. This is what it's like. I'm Pete Appleton, and this is my town.

Still in the same shot, we rocket down into the center of the intersection of Hollywood and Vine, then head west along the boulevard, skimming just above the traffic -- past Musso and Frank's Grill and the Hollywood Canteen, past the Egyptian Theater and a rumbling Pacific Electric Red Car, across Highland Avenue, past the Paramount Theater, and across the street to

GRAUMAN'S CHINESE THEATER.

PETE'S NARRATION (V.O.) Born and raised here, thank you very much. Sometimes, it seems like everyone here is from somewhere else. But everyone loves the movies, so Hollywood is everyone's town, and they come here by the busload. To them, Grauman's Chinese Theater is just about the most exciting place on the planet. To me, it's the theater that's playing "The African Queen."

And like the man said, the film on the marquee is "THE AFRICAN QUEEN." Still the same shot, buses disgorge TOURISTS, who move into the forecourt of the theater. The MEN doff their hats and mop their brows. The WOMEN pull their blouses away from their chests, fanning themselves with movie-star maps as they marvel at the signed cement blocks. We MOVE AMONG THEM, until we pick up A COUPLE, and we stay behind them as they work their way through the crowd, on their way to

THE THEATER ENTRANCE,

where an ornately attired DOORMAN smiles and tears their tickets.

DOORMAN Newsreel's just starting, folks.

PETE'S NARRATION (V.O.) That's me and my girlfriend. Her name is Sandra Sinclair, and this is her town, too -- she's from Cleveland. She came out here to be an actress, and that's just what she's doing. The first picture I ever wrote, a little potboiler called "Sand Pirates of the Sahara." Okay, it ain't "Citizen Kane," but you gotta start somewhere.

MOVING INTO THE LOBBY

an explosion of glitz mixed with Chinese myth and legend. Everywhere you look, it's red and orange and plush carpeting and golden light. We MOVE THROUGH the lobby, still in the same shot, still tracking the couple, heading for the auditorium doors, which are swept open by two ramrod-erect USHERS and we move into

THE DARKENED THEATER.

As the couple, Pete and Sandra, find seats, we HEAR the soundtrack of the film before we see the screen, the unmistakable strains of a march, and then -- still in the same shot -- we see the screen...

A NEWSREEL.

As the march SWELLS to a crescendo, we HEAR THE NEWSREEL ANNOUNCER'S SONOROUS VOICE:

NEWSREEL ANNOUNCER Bringing the news of the world to you!

Over a newsreel shot of a packed Congressional Committee Hearing Room, a title blares "HOLLYWOOD REDS GO TO JAIL!"

NEWSREEL ANNOUNCER Four years ago, in one of filmland's darkest hours, ten men, the so-called "Hollywood Ten," were called to testify before the House Committee of Un-American Activities, investigating the proliferation of the dreaded Red Menace in Hollywood.

We see several shots of WITNESSES engaged in heated verbal battles with congressmen, especially Committee Chairman T. JOHNSTON DOYLE and the Majority Counsel, ELVIN CLYDE.

NEWSREEL ANNOUNCER Refusing to answer the lawmaker's questions, cowering behind the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination, the ten motion picture writers dared Congress to come after them. Well, come after them they did! And after years of court wrangling, it's now time to pay the piper!

Over shots of several of the "Hollywood Ten" being led to jail in handcuffs, the newsreel narration continues.

NEWSREEL ANNOUNCER And so, it's off to jail, the charge: Contempt of Congress! This should give you fellas something to write about now! A new round of investigations begins this fall, the mandate: Get the reds out of Hollywood!

In the audience, one man YELLS "Lock up the commie bastards!," and a few others cheer and laugh. As the newsreel moves on to a somewhat more innocuous subject, we WHEEL AROUND AND...

ENDFRAME ON PETE APPLETON AND SANDRA SINCLAIR.

Pete's a handsome fellow in his 30s, and Sandra's a starlet pretty girl in her mid-20s. As she rummages in her purse, Pete watches the newsreel.

SANDRA Pete, there's time before the picture starts, you want to get some popcorn?

PETE You bet, honey.

Pete kisses Sandra on the cheek, then stands and sprints up the aisle to the concession stand, a big unworried grin on his face.

PETE'S NARRATION (V.O.) We were young, we were in love, and we were working in pictures. Life... was good.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. UNITED PICTURES STUDIOS - MAIN GATE - MORNING

Pete pulls up to the guard kiosk in his spiffy yellow convertible Plymouth. The Guard, RAY, steps out to meet him. Pete lights up a cigarette. We get a better sense of him now. Though earnest, he's jocular, and a bit of a fast talker.

PETE (very chipper) Mornin', Ray. Whaddya know whaddya say? Me and Sandra caught "The African Queen" at the Chinese last night. Great picture, great picture.

Ray is nonplussed. Tips his hat. Regards Pete suspiciously.

RAY Mr. Appleton.

PETE What's with this "Mr. Appleton" crap? Your boss hiding in there?

RAY You're clear to go in.

PETE What's that mean?

Ray heads back to his kiosk, shaking his head.

RAY Have a pleasant day.

Pete, covering his worry well, drives onto the lot.

EXT. UNITED PICTURES STUDIOS - WRITER'S BUILDING - MORNING

Pete pulls up, hops out, grinds out his cigarette, looks around and goes inside.

INT. WRITER'S BUILDING HALLWAY - MORNING

Pete comes down the hall a few steps, stops. Something's wrong. It's awfully quiet. He pokes his head into the door marked "TYPING POOL."

INT. TYPING POOL - MORNING

A sea of black Underwoods -- all silent. The lights in the room are off, and hard shafts of morning sun stream in through the windows. One typists, LOUISE, is going from machine to machine, pulling covers over them.

PETE Louise... what gives?

She looks up, startled.

LOUISE Oh Pete... they, uh, they gave everybody the day off... while they sort things out.

PETE Sort what out? Are my pages done?

LOUISE They took 'em.

PETE They took 'em? Who took 'em? Louise, what's going on...

LOUISE Pete, I'm not even supposed to be talking to you...

She rushes past him. Pete doesn't quite know what to think.

MAN'S VOICE (O.S.) Good morning, Peter.

Pete turns. The voice belongs to Pete's agent, LEO KUBELSKY, a rotund man in his fifties. He wears a perfectly tailored silk suit.

PETE Leo... what's going on?

CUT TO:

EXT. STUDIO STREET - DAY

FROM FAR AWAY, we watch as Leo and Pete come out of the Writer's Building and join a flood of DRESS EXTRAS, all done up in Puritan pilgrim garb and heading for the commissary.

As they move through the mob and emerge on the other side, it's clear that Pete is reeling from something he's just been told.

PETE AND LEO

LEO Peter, their hands are tied. You see that, don't you?

PETE I... I don't believe this.

LEO Are you saying it's a mistake, that you didn't go to any meetings? They say you did.

PETE Who the hell is this "they?"

LEO Congress, the FBI, Red Channels, it don't matter who the hell "they" is. "They" know who "they" are, that's all that matters. (deliberately) Now, did you go to any meetings?

PETE (on the spot) No. Yeah... I... I don't know. Maybe I did. Leo, this was before Pearl Harbor. I was in college. It was a bunch of kids, and I was just one of 'em. I didn't believe in what they were saying. Hell, I didn't even know what they were saying!

LEO So, you're saying that it's true. You went to a meeting of a known communist organization.

PETE Leo, I was trying to impress a skirt. You know me, I'm non- political. Republican, Democrat, Communist, there's not a dime's worth of difference between 'em anyway.

LEO You should watch what you say.

PETE I don't know who fingered me, but I'm not a communist!

LEO Kid, that cuts no ice with them.

PETE (frustrated) What? That I'm accused of being a communist when I don't happen to be one?

LEO They know you were at that meeting, Peter. They've been told, and they know.

PETE Leo, you're my agent. Tell "them" to take a flyin' piss. I didn't do anything wrong. I fought in the war, for crissakes!

LEO Fought? Come on, Pete, you ran the PX at Fort Dix.

PETE I was decorated.

LEO I know. A Purple Heart.

PETE Exactly.

LEO You broke your arm. You were coming out of a bar. You were drunk.

PETE At least I was on our side! Look, they want me to testify? I'll testify. I'll tell 'em anything they want to hear! Jesus, Leo, this is my career!

LEO You can't testify.

PETE Why not?

Leo takes a gold cigarette care from his breast pocket, offers a cigarette to Pete and takes one for himself.

LEO Don't take this personally, kid. If it were up to me, I'd have you testify wearing your uniform and your medal, wrapped in a flag with one hand on your heart and the other hand on a bible. What can I say? I like you.

Leo lights Pete's cigarette and his own. Puts a fatherly hand on his shoulder.

LEO They don't want you to testify because you're not a big enough fish for them. They just don't want you writing pictures for now. That's all.

PETE (under his breath) Yeah, well, that's enough.

LEO Peter, I believe in you. More to the point, I read your new script... um...

PETE "Ashes To Ashes?"

LEO That's the one, "Ashes To Ashes." I think it's great. But it'll never get made with this communist business hanging over your head. You can't work until you're cleared -- and believe me, starting right now, I'm gonna do everything I can to make that happen.

PETE So, it is a blacklist.

LEO (defensive) Don't say that. There is no such thing as a blacklist. (calm) Now, are you gonna play ball?

PETE (sullenly) Yes. (then, pissed) Leo, goddammit... this isn't fair!

Leo blows out a thin stream of smoke.

LEO (hand on Pete's shoulder) Kid, this is the United States Government we're talkin' about. Fair ain't the point.

CUT TO:

INT. WRITER'S BUILDING/PETE'S OFFICE - DAY

Prominent on the wall is a framed "SAND PIRATES OF THE SAHARA" poster. Pete reaches up and takes it down. He leans it up against the desk, then sits heavily in the wooden swivel chair. He swivels around to see

A STUDIO SECURITY GUARD

standing by the door. He's watching Pete's every move.

Two boxes sit on the desk, partially packed with Pete's belongings. Pete lights a cigarette and opens the lower desk drawer. He pulls out a stack of scripts and sets them on the desk. He looks at the cover of the first one:

"SAND PIRATES OF THE SAHARA" By Peter Appleton A United Pictures Production February 19, 1951

Pete shuffles the scripts and looks at the cover of the second one:

"ASHES TO ASHES" By Peter Appleton

He jams the scripts into one box and turns to the other box, which contains somewhat more personal items. A ragged gold pillow with tassels. Legal pads of notes. An old tin-toy fire truck, its bright red paint chipped and worn. He turns it around in his hands.

PETE (musing) Huh. Red...

Footsteps approach, and Pete swivels toward the door.

SANDRA (O.S.) Pete? Pete...?

Sandra appears in the doorway. She's in costume -- a Louis XIV courtier. She bustles past the Guard, rushes to Pete and embraces him.

SANDRA Oh, Pete...

They kiss. The Guard watches their every move.

SANDRA What happened?

PETE What exactly did you hear?

SANDRA That you got let go.

PETE I wasn't alone. Wasn't Frankie Ruskin directing the picture you're in?

SANDRA He was, but he got sick. We got a new director today. Why?

PETE Well, whatever Frankie's got, it's catching.

SANDRA You mean, he was... let go, too?

PETE (sotto, an appeal) They're saying I'm a communist, Sandy. But I'm not, you know that. I'm gonna fight 'em, and I'm gonna win, but I'll need your help.

During this last, Sandra has been ever-so-slightly pulling away from Pete.

PETE A lot of good people are being accused of things they didn't do. Hell, even if I was a communist, this is America, goddammit, a person should be able to be whatever they want to be! Right?

Sandra glances at the Guard, who is watching everything.

SANDRA (nervously) Of course, but I... I don't know how I... how much help I can be to you. This is the sort of thing... someone saying you're a communist... it can ruin your career.

Pete sees where this is going. She's edging toward the door.

PETE Will you help me, Sandy?

SANDRA I'll have to think about this. I have to get back... I should go...

And she's out the door and gone in the blink of an eye. Pete looks at the Guard.

PETE So nice to be a pariah.

The Guard turns away. Pete moves back toward the boxes. Rummaging again, he comes up with a bottle of Jack Daniels with barely one swig left. He regards the bottle for a moment, looks to see if the Guard is watching (he isn't), pops the cork, puts it to his lips and drains it. He looks at it thoughtfully as we

CUT TO:

A HALF-FULL BOTTLE OF JACK DANIELS setting down on a bartop.

WIDER

INT. THE FROLIC ROOM - NIGHT

The bottle is in front of Pete, who sits at the bar, quietly getting stewed. The Frolic Room is a classic Hollywood dive, dimly lit and full of character and characters. It's a quiet night and getting quieter, as several PATRONS are just leaving, waving goodbye to the bartender, JERRY, early 40s. Jerry turns to Pete, eyes him suspiciously from the end of the bar. Pete picks up the bottle and pours another shot. Good boy, he got most of it in the glass.

JERRY Pete. You think maybe you've had enough?

PETE Bought the bottle, didn't I? (raises the shot) To the United States of America. Long my she wave.

He knocks it back and Jerry pours him another.

PETE (trying to light a smoke) Thanks, Jerry. Tell me something.

JERRY What.

PETE You tight with J. Edgar Hoover?

JERRY (helps Pete light his cigarette) The G-man?

PETE (thickly) Zackly.

JERRY Pete, if J. Edgar Hoover walked in here wearing a dress, I wouldn't know him.

PETE Too bad. He says I'm a communist.

JERRY (glancing around) You should watch what you say. You don't know who's listening.

PETE You know I'm not a communist, don't you, Jer?

JERRY Sure, I suppose. That why you're on a bender?

PETE This is not a bender yet. This is the start of a bender. But I can see how you were confused, they look a lot alike.

Pete drains his shotglass, puts it back on the bar. He watches Jerry, who is not about to refill it. Pete reaches for the bottle, but Jerry is faster.

JERRY Pete... go home. Come on, I'll call that girlfriend of yours, what's her name... Sandy?

PETE (laughs) Sandra Sinclair.

JERRY Gimmee her number, I'll have her pick you up.

PETE Sandra Sinclair. Wanna know her real name? Bella Iskowitz. No one's who they really are, Jer. Everyone's someone else. Even you. Even me. Especially me. I'm Peter Appleton, the communist who's not really a communist.

JERRY I wanna close up soon. C'mon, let's call her.

Peter stands, stubs out his smoke, drops a few crumpled bills on the bar and grabs his hat.

PETE Nope. Can't. We're through.

JERRY Then I'll call you a cab.

PETE I'll save you the trouble. (beat) I'm a cab. There. Did it myself.

Pete's preoccupied with putting on his hat and getting his car keys out of his coat pocket, a daunting task in his condition.

PETE 'Sides, car's right outside. I'll be seein' ya, Jer.

JERRY Pete...

And he's out the door.

EXT. FROLIC ROOM - NIGHT

Pete takes a few steps, stumbles, stops, takes a deep breath, then totters briskly towards his car. He hauls the door open and sits inside heavily.

INT./ EXT. PETE'S CAR - NIGHT

Sitting slumped against the steering wheel, Pete looks as though he could fall asleep right there, which would probably be a good idea.

PETE (mumbling) Drive. Drive. Bad idea. Too drunk to drive.

He looks at his watch.

PETE One-thirty. Huh! Early. Can't go home yet.

He turns the key and hits the starter. The engine hums to life. Pete sits up, opens his eyes wide, shakes off the haze and puts the car in gear.

The Plymouth lurches forward a few yards, screeches to a halt and stalls.

PETE Oops.

He re-starts the car, puts it in gear, and pulls away and down the deserted boulevard.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. SANTA MONICA BEACH, AMUSEMENT PIER - NIGHT

The full moon is low over the ocean. Pete's car is parked at the edge of the sand, the water fifty yards away. The ferris wheel and the roller coaster of the amusement pier are dark and eerie silhouettes, lit only by moonlight. Pete is asleep in the driver's seat, head tilted back, his hat covering his face, snoring.

The waves CRASH against the pilings and startle Pete awake.

PETE Huh? Whatsa...

Instantly, he grabs his head.

PETE'S NARRATION (V.O.) I had no idea how I got to Santa Monica, but it certainly was a good idea. I don't think I could've faced the headache I had alone in my apartment. At least I had the ocean air.

Pete takes a deep breath... and starts coughing. He gets out his cigarettes and lights up. He takes a puff and glances at his watch.

PETE'S NARRATION (V.O.) Three forty-five. I had only been there for a couple of hours at most. Truth be told, I was still fairly drunk.

He starts the car and heads for the highway.

PETE'S NARRATION (V.O.) I'd head north until the sun came up or I ran out of gas, whichever came first.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY - NIGHT

Pete drives along the moonlit two-lane blacktop. Waves crash to the shore below the roadway.

INT./ EXT. PETE'S CAR (DRIVING) - NIGHT

Pete is finally relaxed. He takes off his hat and jams it down in the back seat. He takes a deep breath -- with the wind in his hair, a smile grows on his face and he seems at peace. He glances down at the speedometer -- then at the fuel gauge.

INSERT - FUEL GAUGE

Pinning on "empty."

PETE Shit.

PETE'S NARRATION (V.O.) Guess which came first.

He scans the road ahead -- nothing. Glances to his right.

PETE'S POV

The lights of a small town can be seen off in the distance.

Pete veers the car off the highway and makes the turn that will take him toward the lights. He passes a hand-painted sign that gives him hope: "GAS - 1 MI."

CUT TO:

EXT. RORY'S GAS STATION - NIGHT

Pete's car rolls up and stops. There's a light on the sign and another in the station's window, but the place is deserted.

PETE'S NARRATION (V.O.) I should've known better than to think that a service station in the sticks would be open at this hour, but it wasn't like I had a lot of choices.

Pete looks ahead toward the town. Its few lights twinkle in the distance.

PETE'S NARRATION (V.O.) What the hell. At least there'd be a diner opening in a couple of hours. I'd get some pie and coffee, and then I could worry about the gas.

Pete pulls out onto the road.

EXT. ROAD - NIGHT

Pete's car trundles along, blowing past a hand-painted roadside sign which reads:

SLOW! NARROW BRIDGE - SINGLE LANE - NO GUARDRAIL USE CAUTION!

INT./ EXT. PETE'S CAR (DRIVING) - NIGHT

Pete's headlights catch a glimpse of another sign, reading "LAWSON WASH," just in front of a small wooden auto bridge.

Barely reducing his speed, Pete heads onto the bridge...

HIS POV - THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD

... his headlights pick up the glowing eyes of a hapless possum...

Pete swerves to avoid the animal, and a wheel drops off the edge...

EXT. BRIDGE - NIGHT

... and the Plymouth careens over the side of the bridge and into the rapidly-moving water below!

EXT. UNDERWATER - NIGHT

The water is flowing very quickly, and the current is intense. Pete pulls himself out of the driver's seat (thankfully, it's a convertible) and swims over the windshield.

But... his left sleeve is caught on the door handle. Nearly out of breath and panicking, Pete shucks off the jacket and heads for the surface.

EXT. THE WASH - NIGHT

Pete breaks the surface and gasps for air. His fight isn't over yet, as the current is pulling him rapidly downstream. He swims with all his might toward the far bank.

EXT. FAR BANK OF THE WASH - NIGHT

Drained, Pete pulls himself out of the water and staggers to his feet.

PETE (gasping) Oh my god! I don't believe... oh my god...

He stumbles along backwards a couple of steps... and his heel hits a rock...

Pete falls backward -- and his head strikes a glancing blow on another rock. He rolls down the bank, unconscious, and lands face down in the mud.

CUT TO BLACK.

IN BLACK, we slowly become aware of a panting, breathing sound -- the sound of a dog...

FADE IN:

ON A DOG'S FACE

A yellow labrador, full frame. It takes a couple more sniffs, then starts licking furiously.

OLD MAN'S VOICE (O.S.) Maggie, whatcha got there? Huh, girl? Whatcha find?

EXT. FAR BANK OF THE WASH - DAWN

Pete is still laying face down on the bank, being fervently licked in the face by the dog.

ON THE OLD MAN

A no-nonsense sort in his late-60s, he wears overalls and an old railroad cap. He comes down to Pete, and using his walking stick, pokes him in the side.

OLD MAN Mister, who are ya? my dog likes you, but that don't mean much, she likes skunks, too. Sweet n'stupid, that's why I keep her.

Pete blinks up at the Old Man, his mouth gaping open.

OLD MAN Mister, you okay? You look wet. You in an accident or somethin'?

PETE I... I don't know.

He sits up, and the Old Man gets a look at his head, which is caked with mud and blood on one side.

OLD MAN You best come with me. Can ya walk?

PETE I... yes, I think so.

He stands up shakily. The Old Man gives Pete a hand.

OLD MAN Come on, we'll have the Doc look you over.

PETE My head hurts.

OLD MAN I shouldn't be surprises. You smell like that was quite a night before you had there. (to the dog) Maggie! Let's go now!

And they head toward the road to town. BOOMING UP, we SEE them pass a roadside sign:

ON THE SIGN:

WELCOME TO LAWSON, CALIFORNIA EST. 1869 ELEV. 275 POP. 1755 THE TOWN THAT GAVE ITS ALL

OLD MAN (STANTON) Name's Stanton Lawson. My ancestors founded this town.

PETE Ancestors?

STANTON Actually, my grandpap. But "ancestors" sounds better, don't it? (hands Pete a handkerchief) Here.

Pete takes the handkerchief and wipes the mud and some of the blood off his face.

PETE I suppose. Thanks.

STANTON You look familiar, fella. What's your name?

Pete stops, thinks for a moment.

PETE I'm... I... I honestly don't know.

CUT TO:

EXT. COMMERCE STREET - LAWSON, CALIFORNIA - DAY

Pete and Stanton walk along Commerce Street, the main drag through the center of the small town. Lawson is a bit run down, creeping inexorably toward decrepit. Despite that, there's a timeless quality to the small buildings, a familiar All-American feel.

Several of the PEOPLE walking along the street take notice of Pete and nod to Stanton, who nods back.

PETE They all know you?

STANTON 'Course they all know me. And I know all them. Town's got my name, don't it?

They pass the window of the drug store, COLE'S PHARMACY. Pete looks down and sees

TWO FADED GOLD STARS

in the window with two faded photos, all decked in tattered black crepe. Two boys, no more than 18 and 19, who went off to war and didn't come back.

Stanton notes Pete stopping to look at the stars and photos.

STANTON Ernie Cole here just got himself elected mayor. Lost both his boys in the war. Kenny at Anzio and Willie at Normandy.

PETE (thinking) The war...

STANTON (points across the street) Mabel over there at the diner lost her husband Max. Okinawa, I believe.

ANGLE - MABEL'S DINER

A typical small-town greasy spoon -- with one faded star prominent in the window.

CLOSER

On MABEL LANIER, a sweet-faced woman in her 30s. She stares vacantly into space, her reverie broken by a customer needing a coffee refill.

STANTON All told, this little town gave sixty-two of its finest to the war. Seventeen of 'em at Normandy alone. More'n its share, I should say. Got us a letter from President Truman. City council commissioned a war memorial. Been sittin' in the basement of city hall these six years. Town never had the heart to put it up. Place just hasn't been the same since the war.

STANTON AND PETE

Pete looks longingly toward the diner. Stanton takes note.

STANTON You hungry, son?

PETE Yes. Very.

STANTON Got any money?

Pete rummages in his pants pockets, and comes up with three quarters.

STANTON Six bits. More'n enough to buy some breakfast. C'mon.

And they head across the street.

CUT TO:

A PLATE WITH TWO PIECES OF APPLE PIE

A fork comes into frame and tears into one of the slices.

WIDER

INT. MABEL'S DINER - DAY

Pete is fairly shoveling the pie into his mouth, pausing only to wash it down with gulps of coffee.

MABEL

stands nearby, watching in amazement as her pie is consumed in record time.

Pete notices that Stanton and Mabel -- and the other PATRONS, for that matter -- are watching his feeding frenzy. He stops in his tracks, and starts chewing leisurely. He smiles at Mabel.

PETE (mouth full) Pie's... good.

MABEL (wryly) Like you could tell. (to Stanton) Where'd you find him?

STANTON Down by the wash.

MABEL We gotta put a rail on that thing before someone else gets killed. (to Pete) Three people have died there, Mister. You're lucky to be alive.

PETE (draining the coffee cup) Thanks. More coffee?

Mabel obliges. As she pours the coffee, she looks at Pete.

MABEL You know, you look familiar. You ever been in here before?

Pete shakes his head.

STANTON He don't remember who he is, Mabel. Gonna take him to the Doc, as soon as he gets in.

MABEL (distractedly) Doc should be in for his coffee and bear claw any minute... (to Pete) You sure you never been in here?

Pete looks up at Mabel and smiles winningly.

PETE I'd remember this pie.

Mabel, thoroughly charmed, smiles back at Pete.

MABEL (patting his hand) I'll just get you another piece.

EXT. COMMERCE STREET - DAY

A stoop-shouldered little man in his late 60s, HARRY TRUMBO shambles along the street, headed for Mabel's Diner. There's a sadness about Harry, the world-weary melancholy of a man who has little to smile about because he has little to care about. After a couple of steps, he's met up by DOC BEN LARDNER, a vigorous man in his 50s. He comes up behind Harry and claps him on the back.

LARDNER 'Mornin' Harry. Fine day, isn't it?

HARRY Morning, Doc. Yes, yes it looks just fine.

LARDNER Plenty to do today?

HARRY (vaguely) Oh, yes, plenty. Plenty.

They're at the door of the diner. Doc opens it for Harry.

LARDNER After you.

INT. MABEL'S DINER - DAY

Lardner comes over to Mabel, who hands him a tall paper cup of coffee and bags him a bear claw.

LARDNER Mornin' Mabel, Stan.

MABEL Mornin' Doc. Got some new business for you today.

Lardner and Pete make eye contact, and the doctor notices the bump on his head.

LARDNER Hello, son. How'd that happen?

STANTON He don't know. And he don't know his name, neither. Found him down by the wash.

LARDNER You'd better come with me, son. (to Mabel, indicating the coffee and danish) On my tab?

MABEL You bet.

Lardner, Stanton and Pete rise and move to the door. Pete turns back, takes the three quarters out of his pocket, and puts them on the counter, smiling brightly at Mabel.

PETE Thanks. Great pie.

MABEL (blushing) You're welcome. Come again.

ON HARRY

seated at the opposite end of the counter. He glances up at Pete.

HARRY'S POV

as Pete smiles at Mabel and turns to go.

ON HARRY

His mouth falls open, his hand moves to cover it. He's just seen a ghost...

HARRY'S POV - SLOW MOTION...

... as the three men pass by the diner's window.

CLOSE - HARRY

HARRY (wide eyed) Sweet Jesus...

CUT TO:

A FINGER --

moving left-to-right, right-to-left through space.

LARDNER'S VOICE Follow my finger. Just use your eyes. That's it. Good.

WIDER

INT. EXAMINATION ROOM - DAY

Doc Lardner is checking Pete's eyes. Pete sits on an examination table, his shirt off, his head freshly bandaged. Stanton lurks in the corner, Maggie curled at his feet.

STANTON He was passed out cold. Maggie woke 'im.

LARDNER Uh-huh. He looks familiar. (to Pete) Open your mouth. Say "ah."

Pete does. Lardner has a look as Stanton pulls out a pocket watch.

STANTON Said as much myself, Doc. Can't place him, though. To look at him, you'd think the cheese slid off his cracker. (looks at his watch) Well, morning's half-over. I'm off.

PETE Thank you, Mr. Lawson.

STANTON Don't mention it. Whoever-you-are.

Stanton and Maggie exit. Lardner checks Pete's ears.

LARDNER Any idea how you got here, son?

PETE No, sir.

Lardner sniffs him.

LARDNER Been drinkin' a bit, have we?

PETE I don't remember. I guess so. Smells like it. (smacks his lips and frowns) Tastes like it.

LARDNER Well, you've been wet to the skin. You must've fallen in.

PETE I guess I did.

LARDNER Lucky you got out, that water's got quite a pull, and it empties straight into the ocean.

Lardner takes a shirt off his counter and hands it to Pete.

LARDNER Here, one of mine.

PETE Thanks.

Pete puts on the shirt.

LARDNER Do you remember if you were driving a car? Maybe you went over the bridge. No guard rail there, it's easy to do. It's happened before.

PETE It's possible. I just don't remember.

LARDNER And you don't know your name or who you are, that right?

PETE (frustrated) I... no, I... I just can't...

LARDNER (gently) It's okay, son. We just need to call you something. That's all.

Pete stifles a laugh.

LARDNER What is it?

PETE Call me... Ishmael?

LARDNER Well, at least you remember "Moby Dick."

CUT TO:

INT. DOC LARDNER'S PRIVATE OFFICE - DAY

Lardner is on the phone, sipping his coffee and nibbling his bear claw. Pete is standing, nosing around the office -- diplomas, photographs, knick-knacks. He zeros in on one photo in particular.

ON THE PHOTO

one of Lardner and a beautiful YOUNG WOMAN. They've been fishing, and the young woman displays a much larger catch than Lardner.

LARDNER (into phone) Stanton found him by the wash. Not hurt too bad, but he took a nasty bump on the head and he can't remember who he is. We both think he looks familiar, but we can't place him. You bet. He'll be here.

Lardner hangs up and watches Pete looking at the pictures.

LARDNER That's me and my daughter Adele. My pride and joy. Charms the fish right out of the lake, she does.

PETE She's very pretty.

LARDNER Thanks. Well, Sheriff's on his way over, and maybe we can get to the bottom of who you are...

Lardner stares at him. Pete takes note, turns toward him.

LARDNER ... sorry 'bout that, but you do look familiar to me.

PETE Wish I could say the same thing.

CUT TO:

EXT. DOC LARDNER'S OFFICE - DAY

The Sheriff's sedan pulls up to the office and SHERIFF CECIL ELDRIDGE, 45, gets out. As he gets a few steps from the door, Harry Trumbo jumps out from around the side of the building and stops him.

HARRY (excited) Cecil! Cecil, there's a young man in there...

ELDRIDGE (startled) Lord love a duck, Harry, you wanna give me a heart attack right in front of the doctor's office?

HARRY Listen to me! The young man in there...

Eldridge keeps moving to the door.

ELDRIDGE (interrupting) Stan Lawson found him unconscious by the wash this morning, and I'm here to investigate, and if we find anything interesting, it'll be in the paper, so why don't you just...

Harry jumps in front of Eldridge and grabs him by the shoulders.

HARRY Cecil, listen to me!

The sheriff stops.

HARRY (breathless) It's Luke.

CUT TO:

INT. DOC LARDNER'S PRIVATE OFFICE - DAY

Sheriff Eldridge is seated across from Pete. He's staring at him intently. Silence.

ELDRIDGE No wallet, huh?

LARDNER No identification at all. (beat) What're you thinkin', Cecil?

ELDRIDGE What I'm thinkin' is we got us one a'two things here. A mystery or a damn miracle. And by god I can't tell which. (to Pete) Boy, you say you have no idea who you are? That right?

PETE Yes.

ELDRIDGE You ever been in this town before, to your knowledge?

PETE No. But...

ELDRIDGE But what?

PETE Well, this place sorta reminds me of something.

ELDRIDGE What's that?

PETE "It's a Wonderful Life."

ELDRIDGE The Jimmy Stewart picture? I remember that one. Saw it over at the Bijou. So, you remember that, huh?

PETE "It's a Wonderful Life?"

ELDRIDGE Or the Bijou. Either one.

PETE I remember the picture... but I don't remember where I saw it.

The Sheriff rises and crosses to the door.

ELDRIDGE Doc, with your permission, I want to bring someone in here. Maybe it'll jar this young man's memory.

LARDNER By all means.

Eldridge opens the door.

ELDRIDGE (to someone offscreen) Harry, why don't you come on in here.

Harry enters the office, doffs his hat, revealing a full head of snow-white hair. He nods to Eldridge and Lardner, and slowly turns to face Pete. He looks closer... and closer. Hesitantly, he takes a couple of steps towards Pete, who slowly rises out of his chair to meet the old man's gaze. Finally, they're standing practically toe-to-toe.

PETE

looks a bit puzzled, but the old man has such a sweet face...

HARRY

has tears forming in his eyes. A smile turns up the corners of his mouth, and quickly lights up his whole face.

LARDNER (softly, to Eldridge) Are you saying that he's...

ELDRIDGE (smiling broadly) Shhhhhh.

Harry takes Pete in his arms and hugs him tightly, burying his face in Pete's shoulder and sobbing.

HARRY I knew all along. I knew you were alive! Oh, Luke...

Pete doesn't quite know what to think. He clearly has no idea who this old man is.

LARDNER (mouth agape in disbelief) Mother o'god...

ELDRIDGE (to Pete) Give the man a hug, boy! That's your father!

Pete looks at Harry. It's not so much that he remembers anything -- he's swept up in the moment.

PETE My father...?

Pete wraps his arms around Harry and hugs him tightly, glancing over at

ELDRIDGE AND LARDNER

who look on goofily, fighting back tears. They smile at Pete, who smiles back tentatively.

CUT TO:

EXT. DOC LARDNER'S OFFICE - DAY

Harry, Pete, Eldridge and Lardner come outside.

ELDRIDGE C'mon, I'll give you two a lift back to the Bijou.

PETE The Bijou?

LARDNER That's where you live.

PETE We live in a theater?

HARRY Only one in town. (he opens the car door for Pete) Get in, son.

ELDRIDGE (sotto, to Lardner) Ben, when's Delly due back?

LARDNER (sotto) Tomorrow afternoon... (seized by a thought) ... oh my god...

ELDRIDGE (sotto) Exactly. Break it to her gently.

Eldridge and Harry get in the car. Lardner comes over to Pete's back seat window.

LARDNER Get plenty of rest, Luke. You took a pretty big wallop there.

He turns to move away, then turns back.

LARDNER Good to have you back.

Eldridge starts the car and they drive away.

(NOTE: Henceforth, "PETE" will be known as "LUKE." It'll be easier to keep track of things, since everyone's now calling him Luke, anyway. Trust me.)

CUT TO:

INT. ELDRIDGE'S CAR (DRIVING) - DAY

Harry sits next to the Sheriff, and Luke has the back seat all to himself. He leans forward toward the front seat and taps Harry on the shoulder.

LUKE Excuse me... what's your, um, your name?

HARRY Harry, son. Harry.

LUKE And... what's my name again?

HARRY Albert Lucas Trumbo. But you've been "Luke" since you were a baby.

LUKE Ah. (taking it for a spin) Luke. Luke. I like it.

Luke looks at the town as they drive down Commerce Street.

HIS POV

Shops are open for business, TOWNSPEOPLE are going about their lives. A few stop and watch as the Sheriff's car goes by.

LUKE How long have I been gone?

Eldridge looks at Harry, who stares ahead.

LUKE How long?

Pause. The silence is too thick, and Harry has to answer. He turns around in his seat and faces Luke.

HARRY (gently) You never came back from the war. We were told you were missing and presumed dead.

LUKE When did I leave?

HARRY You joined up one month to the day after Pearl Harbor. January seventh... nineteen forty-two.

Luke sits back against the back seat and lets this sink in.

HARRY Nine and-a-half years ago.

LUKE Nine and-a-half years...

ELDRIDGE Comin' up on the Bijou, gents.

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE BIJOU - DAY

Eldridge's car rounds the corner, pulls up and stops.

ELDRIDGE Here we are.

HARRY Well, son, you're home!

Luke peers across the street... his mouth gapes open...

HIS POV - THE BIJOU.

The Bijou is a decaying, Dada-esque, grab-bag of building styles. It's as though the architect took random parts of a Chinese temple, a Mosque, a Pagoda, a Sphinx, a symphony hall and a slaughterhouse, put them in a bag, gave it a good shake, tossed the contents out onto a blueprint and promptly built the result.

As a matter of fact, if you didn't know that the place was "The Bijou," you'd probably wonder what the cryptic message

" HE B J U"

was trying to convey from atop the crumbling parapet.

And now, the reason for the deteriorated state of the " HE B J U" sign becomes apparent. Train tracks run right behind the building on an elevated trestle. As we watch, a TRAIN ROARS BY. Everything shakes. It's not an earthquake, it's a trainquake. The "J" teeters at a jaunty angle, threatening to dislodge and tumble down to join its fallen brothers.

LUKE

stares at the monstrosity. His face is ashen. His heart has sunk to somewhere below his knees.

The Bijou.

Harry jumps out of the car excitedly.

HARRY Thanks for the lift, Cecil.

ELDRIDGE Don't mention it. Welcome home, Luke.

LUKE (faint smile) Thanks.

Luke opens the back door and slowly steps out. Harry grabs his arm and pulls a ring of keys from his pocket.

HARRY Wait'll you see the inside!

LUKE (deadpan) Can't wait.

CUT TO:

INT. BIJOU LOBBY - DAY

The interior of the theater fulfills every promise made by the exterior. Moth-eaten velvet-flocked wallpaper hangs in shards and pieces from the walls. It's sort of a cross between a gaudy cathouse and a mausoleum, served up with generous helpings of dust and grime, an almost unbeatable combination of questionable taste and neglect.

Above the center of the lobby hangs what was -- and is -- probably the only truly beautiful item in the whole theater --

A DELICATE CRYSTAL CHANDELIER.

Even under a veneer of dust, the fragile droplets of cut crystal seem to pick up every available point of light and scatter it in a hundred directions.

TILT DOWN TO REVEAL

Luke and Harry standing below. Luke is lost in a gulf somewhere between surprise and disgust.

HARRY We've been closed for a while.

LUKE (smiling wanly) Ah.

Luke walks toward the auditorium doors and slowly, cracks one open.

INT. AUDITORIUM - DAY

The ocean of two hundred or so seats on the main floor seem to be, for the most part, intact -- although the occasional row seems to have loosed itself from its moorings and heaved itself up against the row behind or in front.

THE SCREEN

is really not much more than a tatty bit of yellowing muslin, framed by ragged red velveteen drapery.

In the tiny orchestra pit, as we will see later, is an old upright piano.

Luke walks a few steps down the aisle. He picks a seat on the aisle near the middle of the theater and sits. As he does, a CAT, an orange tabby, leaps out from under another seat, jets past Luke and disappears down the aisle and backstage. Harry comes over and sits behind him.

LUKE (turning to Harry) Exactly how long has the Bijou been closed?

HARRY Hmmmm... after you left, it was difficult, and then Lily -- that's your mother -- she took ill and died... we haven't shown a picture since forty-eight.

LUKE Why?

HARRY (deep breath) Well, after the war, with so many of the town's boys killed, people around here didn't much feel like going to the movies, I guess. Some of 'em moved away -- Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco. Wasn't much to keep 'em here, I expect. And now with this "television" thing -- people just aren't going out as much as they used to.

LUKE Didn't you have any help?

HARRY Oh, I had Irene and Old Tim but they really couldn't help much. Broke their hearts when we closed up. Broke mine, too. (brightening) But now that you're back, well, things will be different around here, that's for sure. (rises, grabs Luke's arm) C'mon, I'll show you where we live.

CUT TO:

INT. BIJOU APARTMENT - DAY

The small apartment above the projection booth is quite a contrast to the rest of the theater. It's neat as a pin, and fairly lit, as Harry has just pulled back the curtains, allowing the sun to flood the room.

A beam of golden light falls across a table, atop which are

SEVERAL FRAMED PHOTOS.

One of the photos is of the real, much-younger Luke. It's a Norman Rockwell scene, at a train depot, with an army-issue olive drab duffel bag slung over his shoulder. He has one arm around Harry and the other around his mother.

(And by the way, Pete's resemblance to the real Luke -- even in a nearly 10 year old photo -- is pretty damn startling...)

HARRY The day you shipped out. That was a proud day for your mother and me. Last time you saw her. Last time I saw you.

He smiles.

HARRY Till today.

Luke sets it down and picks up another photo, that of a fine looking woman. It's a formal portrait, dating perhaps from the 30's.

HARRY That's Lily. Your mother, rest her soul.

LUKE (repeating) Mother. (to Harry) She's beautiful.

HARRY (coming over) Well, yes, that she was. She certainly made this place a home.

He takes the picture from Luke, kisses it, and gently replaces it on the table. Luke goes over to the sofa and sits.

HARRY (brightly) Can I get you anything? I can put some coffee on or some...

Harry looks at Luke, who has almost instantly fallen asleep on the sofa.

He goes to him, gently picks his feet off the floor, lifts them onto the sofa. Removes his shoes, sets them on the floor.

CUT TO:

A BLANKET

being drawn up Luke's chest.

HARRY

stands, looks down warmly at his son. Then, suddenly, he's seized by a thought. He turns and crosses to the window.

CLOSE - THE WINDOW

There's a small picture frame in the window. Harry reaches down, gingerly picks it up and turns it around.

ON THE FRAME

It's a single, faded gold star. One war casualty.

Harry clutches it to his chest, looks over at the sleeping Luke and smiles.

HARRY (softly) When I woke up this morning, my son was dead. Now, I have my boy again. (closes his eyes) I have my boy again.

FADE TO BLACK.

FADE IN:

INT. BIJOU APARTMENT - MORNING

It's early morning. Luke is sound asleep, still in his clothes. In the distance, a train sounds its HORN.

Luke rolls over on his back, still asleep, snoring lightly. Slowly, he starts to wake up, eyes still closed.

Something's strange, though. He frowns. The train is GETTING CLOSER. Luke's eyes POP OPEN.

LUKE'S POV

As the train RUMBLES BY, shaking everything in the room, Luke looks up to see three ancient cherubs staring down at him. Harry, an elderly WOMAN, and an elderly BLACK MAN.

HARRY (smiling) 'Morning, Son.

ELDERLY WOMAN (smiling) Good morning, Luke.

ELDERLY BLACK MAN (no expression) 'Mornin'.

HARRY Sleep well?

Luke is speechless. It he dreaming this?

HARRY They couldn't wait to see you.

LUKE Who... are they?

HARRY This is the staff of the Bijou.

LUKE Oh. What... what time is it?

HARRY Six-thirty. I thought we'd get an early start.

Luke sits up on the sofa and tries to get a little more awake. He rubs the side of his head that is still bandaged. The elderly woman nudges Harry gently.

HARRY Oh, I'm sorry, they know you, but you don't... you need to be re- introduced. Luke, this is Mrs. Irene Terwilliger.

Luke stands and shakes MRS. TERWILLIGER'S hand. She's tiny, seventy if she's a day. She smiles and curtsies slightly. Her eyes sparkle brightly, her manner almost coquettish.

MRS. TERWILLIGER Head cashier and refreshments clerk. So glad to have you back, my boy! (to Harry) Much more handsome than I remember him.

HARRY And this fine fellow is our head usher, resident fix-it man and custodian. Luke, meet Old Tim. (to Old Tim) You remember Luke, don't you?

OLT TIM is -- well, old. His clothes are a tad shabby, but well maintained, though they hang loosely on his gangly frame. He wears an old blue knit cap, which he quickly removes as he shakes Luke's hand. He's a man of few words, his manner is painfully shy -- and he never smiles.

LUKE Is there a young Tim?

OLD TIM No.

LUKE Well, then, why do they call you "Old Tim?"

Pause.

OLD TIM I'm old.

Harry steps forward, takes Luke's arm.

HARRY Well, lots to do, so we'd better get a move on...

CUT TO:

INT. AUDITORIUM - DAY

Luke, Harry and Mrs. Terwilliger walk down the aisle toward the screen. Old Time lags a few steps behind. At the orchestra pit, Harry climbs the steps, crosses the pit. The screen is a sea of repair patches. Harry pats it. Dust flies.

HARRY 'Fraid this has seen better days. Well, I was meaning to get a new screen, anyway.

OLD TIM I n-need me a new uniform.

Luke looks at Old Tim, then at Harry.

HARRY (to Luke) I promised him a new uniform when we re-opened. (to Old Tim) And you'll get one, too.

LUKE You know, I hate to bring this up, but screens and uniforms and paint and repairs are going to take money, which I'm willing to bet none of us has.

Silence from the group.

LUKE I thought so.

Beat. Harry brightens, clambers down the steps and races up the aisle.

HARRY Anyone want to see the projector?

CUT TO:

TWO CARBON ARCS

are squeakily being cranked together above the din of a fan motor. A puff of smoke, then -- BZZZZZZZZZTT -- LIGHT. A metal door is closed over the arcs.

INT. PROJECTION BOOTH - DAY

Harry dances around to the other side of the projector and adjusts the focus on the beam of light. The others look on as he gazes at the screen through the tiny window.

HARRY Beautiful. Bright and even from edge to edge. See for yourself.

The carbons sputter and die. The light flickers out. Harry is crestfallen, turns off the motor.

HARRY She's always been a bit tricky.

CUT TO:

INT. BIJOU LOBBY - DAY

Mrs. Terwilliger is dusting the concession stand with a ragged feather duster, a hopeless task. Old Tim is on a rickety ladder, replacing burned-out bulbs in the chandelier. The orange tabby cat scratches itself on the leg of the ladder.

Old Tim climbs down and catches his breath. Mrs. Terwilliger sneezes.

OLD TIM Bless.

MRS. TERWILLIGER Thank you, Timothy.

They both stop their work and glance warily at the door marked "OFFICE."

MRS. TERWILLIGER (sotto) What do you suppose they're talking about?

OLD TIM Dunno. Boy's smart.

MRS. TERWILLIGER (brightly) Yes, he seems to be.

OLD TIM Bad for us.

INT. BIJOU OFFICE - DAY

Luke is poring over the ledger books, adding up figures on an old manual adding machine.

LUKE Um... Harry? Did I ever keep the books here?

HARRY No, your mother did, then I did after she passed.

LUKE Well, I'm the first one to admit that I don't know anything about bookkeeping, but there are some very interesting things in here.

He scans down a page.

LUKE (reading) "February 10, 1942. Picture 'Ball of Fire.'"

HARRY (appreciatively) Gary Cooper. And Barbara Stanwyck. Yowsa.

LUKE (reading) "Eight p.m. showtime, ninety-six admissions, receipts including concessions, $84.75... plus one fryer and two-dozen eggs."

He closes the book and looks expectantly at Harry.

HARRY Yes?

LUKE "one fryer and two-dozen eggs?"

HARRY Forty-two was a lean year around here. The war had just started... you were gone less than a month... and we were coming off a bit of a drought as I recall. Not everyone could ante up the price of a ticket, and a chicken's as good as money if you ask me. At that time, it meant a lot to the folks around here to be able to come to the pictures.

LUKE Yeah, I know, but poultry...?

HARRY (rhapsodically) I know it's hard to believe, son, but this place, this little place this wasn't a theater then, this was a palace! Any man, woman, child, you, me, it didn't matter, you bought your ticket and you walked in and you...

Harry puts his hand on his chest and sighs.

HARRY ... you were in a palace. It was like a dream. It was like heaven, like you died and went to a palace in heaven, that's what it was like. And spotless, too.

Inspired, Harry stands, takes Luke by the arm.

HARRY Come with me!

He drags him out of the office and into the lobby.

INT. BIJOU LOBBY - DAY

Mrs. Terwilliger and Old Tim watch as Harry leads Luke through the lobby.

HARRY (smiling) Maybe you had problems and worries out there, but once you came through that door, they didn't matter anymore. In here, you were safe. Maybe it was just an escape from reality, but... oh, god... it was beautiful.

Harry leads Luke into the auditorium. The car follows, but Mrs. Terwilliger and Old Tim stay behind.

INT. AUDITORIUM - DAY

Harry trots down the aisle and looks up at the screen.

HARRY (exuberant) Charlie Chaplin. Keaton and Lloyd. Swanson. And later on, Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert and Jimmy Stewart and James Cagney and Bogart and Becall and Judy and Mickey... and Fred and Ginger.

He turns to Luke.

HARRY (emphatically) They... were... like... gods!

He points to the screen.

HARRY And that... was the altar. Would you remember if I told you, we felt lucky to be here, to have the privilege of watching them? (sadly) This television thing. Why would you want to sit at home and watch a little box with a little screen? Because it's convenient? Because you don't have to get dressed and put on a coat and a tie and a hat? Because you can just... sit there? How can you call that "entertainment," all alone in your living room? Where are the other people? Where's the audience?

Harry comes over to Luke.

HARRY (emphatically) Where's the magic?

He stands behind Luke and whispers in his ear.

HARRY I'll tell you. In a place like this, the magic is all around you. All the time. Everywhere. In every thing.

He turns Luke around and looks him in the eye.

HARRY The trick... is to see it.

Pause.

LUKE But I...

HARRY Son, I think you loved the Bijou even more than I did. You've got to remember that. You've got to.

Still looking at Luke, Harry takes a step back, then slowly walks up the aisle, disappearing into the lobby.

Luke walks down the aisle. At the edge of the orchestra pit, he stands looking up at the screen. The orange tabby cat MEOWS, and Luke glances toward it, standing onstage by the edge of the screen. They exchange looks as we

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. LARDNER LIVING ROOM - EVENING

Doc Lardner is seated in an easy chair, his feet up, reading Life magazine. The radio is on, and Patti Page is singing "The Tennessee Waltz."

There's a noise offscreen, and Lardner looks up. In the entrance hall, the front door opens.

ADELE "DELLY" LARDNER

enters. She's a strikingly beautiful woman in her late 20s. She takes off a felt cap, and her long, auburn hair cascades down.

ADELE Dad?

LARDNER Delly? In here.

Lardner rises as Adele comes into the living room. They embrace warmly.

LARDNER How'd it go?

ADELE Not as bad as I thought it would. I think I passed.

LARDNER (kisses her forehead) That's my girl! (he hugs her again) Did you...?

ADELE No hiccups, which was good. Who wants an attorney who gets the hiccups when she gets nervous? ("serious" lawyer voice) "Your (hic!) honor, I (hic!) object!"

They laugh.

LARDNER I always told you, baby... (taps her head) ... it's all up here.

Lardner gives her an extra squeeze, continues to hold onto her just a bit too long. Adele detects something amiss.

ADELE Dad? What is it?

Beat.

LARDNER Well, it's...

Adele breaks away from him.

ADELE (extreme concern) Oh my god... who died?

CUT TO:

A GLASS OF WATER

on a kitchen table. Offscreen, we HEAR A HICCUP. Then another. Adele's hand reaches into frame.

WIDER

INT. LARDNER KITCHEN - EVENING

Lardner stands over Adele, who is seated at the table, holding the glass of water.

LARDNER Drink slowly.

She raises the glass to her lips.

LARDNER From the other side of the glass.

It's a particularly gymnastic way in which to drink water, but Adele accomplishes it with aplomb. She waits for a moment -- then hiccups again.

ADELE I think (hic!) it's worse (hic!) now.

LARDNER That always used to work.

ADELE Yeah, well it's not everyday you get (hic!) news like this. You're sure he's (hic!) okay? Other than the (hic!) bump on the head?

LARDNER (hedging) Well...

ADELE (hic!) Dad... (hic!)

Lardner sits at the table and takes Adele's hand.

LARDNER He doesn't remember anything, Delly. Doesn't know how he got here, doesn't remember his father, the town, the Bijou, anyone...

ADELE ... including me. Right? (hic!)

LARDNER I'm afraid not. He looked right at your picture without batting an eye. But it's probably temporary. He got all the way to Lawson, so he clearly knew who he was and what he was doing until he hit his head. I'm sure it'll all come back to him. It just takes a catalyst.

ADELE You mean, (hic!) me?

LARDNER It's possible.

Off Adele's thoughtful hiccuping, we

CUT TO:

EXT. COMMERCE STREET - EVENING

Luke and Harry, walking along, make a turn onto Commerce Street, heading for Mabel's. It's still light out, and a soft breeze skitters some leaves along the sidewalk.

HARRY I take breakfast and supper at Mabel's every day except Sunday. Have for years, since Lily died. If it weren't for Mabel, I'd probably starve to death.

ERNIE COLE, a slight, balding man in his 50s, is locking the door of his pharmacy across the street, when he spots Harry and Luke.

ERNIE Harry! Hold on a second!

Ernie runs across the street and, slightly winded, stands before Luke, staring. Luke shoots a glance at Harry, who taps Ernie on the shoulder.

HARRY It's really him, Ernie.

ERNIE (agape) Well, I'll be...

He sticks his hand out and Luke takes it. Ernie pumps it enthusiastically.

ERNIE By god, Luke, if it isn't good to see you again.

LUKE (uncertain) Uh, thanks. Good to see you again, too, uh...

HARRY Ernie.

LUKE ... Ernie.

ERNIE (still at a lose) Well, I'll be...

HARRY We were just gonna get some supper. Would you like to join us?

ERNIE Would I ever!

The three walk toward the diner, but before they get two steps, they hear:

WOMAN'S VOICE Is that Luke Trumbo?

They turn to see a stout woman, KATIE RUTHERFORD, 40s, rushing toward them. She rushes right into a very surprised Luke's arms and hugs him tightly.

KATIE Oh, Luke, it's so good to have you back!

HARRY Katie, would you like to join us for dinner? The more, the merrier.

CUT TO:

EXT. MABEL'S DINER - NIGHT

The diner is packed. In addition to Ernie and Katie, MEN, WOMEN and CHILDREN occupy every seat and table, and many more are standing, even hanging out the door.

At the focus of the crowd are Luke and Harry, seated at the counter. Harry is leisurely eating a chicken dinner, while Luke is working on a steak. A young man seated at the opposite side of the counter is speaking. He's CARL LEFFERT, 30s.

CARL (eagerly) Hey, Luke, remember the time you and me, we was playing with firecrackers and the one you was lighting blew up too soon and singed all the hair offa my head?

A few people shake their heads, smile and laugh.

LUKE Uh, no. What happened?

CARL (deflated) Well... um, all the hair got singed offa my head. It was pretty funny.

A couple of TITTERS are heard.

LUKE Oh.

CARL Even my eyebrows. But they grew back.

Luke leans toward Harry, who never looks up from his chicken.

HARRY Carl. Friend of yours from high school. Everybody calls him "Cueball."

LUKE (sincerely) Oh, hi Cue... Carl. Sorry.

CARL (brightening) Oh, heck, that's all right. It's just good to have you back. Isn't that right, Bob? Hey, Luke, you remember my brother Bob? You two joined up the same day.

Luke smiles and nods at the young man sitting next to Carl.

BOB LEFFERT

is a good-looking fellow, a few years older than Carl. His face is pale and downcast, and he wears a cap pulled down on his forehead. He looks up at Luke with hollow eyes. Brings his right hand up, pushes the brim of his cap up. Except there's no hand there -- it's a hook.

LUKE (quietly) Hey, Bob. Good to meet you.

Bob doesn't react. He glances away, and for a moment, his eyes meet Mabel's. She smiles warmly. He turns away.

Ernie Cole pipes up.

ERNIE Luke, I know there's a question that's on everybody's mind.

LUKE What's that?

ERNIE Well, now that you're back, what're your plans?

All eyes on Luke. He freezes, having just taken a forkful of food in his mouth. Harry jumps in.

HARRY Gonna re-open the Bijou, that's what.

A MURMUR goes through the crowd. Stanton Lawson, standing behind Luke, taps him on the shoulder.

STANTON That true?

LUKE (on the spot) Well... we're gonna try.

ERNIE That's a lot of work, son. Place's been closed, what, three, four years now. Gonna be tough.

HARRY If it's tough, that means it's worth doing.

Someone shouts "That's the spirit!," another shouts "Hear, hear!," and a chorus of VOICES join in agreement.

ERNIE Hey, where's Spencer Wyatt?

SPENCER'S VOICE Uh, back here, Mr. Mayor.

ERNIE Well, come on out here so's we can see you.

SPENCER WYATT steps around from the back of the crowd near the door. He's a tall, dark-haired, gangly, bespectacled kid, no more than 19 or 20. Painfully shy, he clutches a clarinet case to his chest. He timidly smiles and waves at Luke, who smiles and nods back.

SPENCER Hey, Luke.

LUKE Hi, Spencer.

ERNIE Spence, that band of yours -- you think they're ready to play? (to Luke) Spencer and his pals went ahead and got together a good ol' big band.

SPENCER We've been practicing... uh, sure, I guess.

ERNIE Well, how about tomorrow night, eight p.m., in city hall square? What I'm proposin' is a "Welcome Home Luke" celebration.

Vociferous general AGREEMENT from the crowd -- which is quickly quieted by a MURMUR, which starts at the front door. The crowd parts and grow silent, revealing a woman standing in the doorway.

ADELE

She locks eyes with Luke. Her hand goes to her mouth and her eyes well up. Slowly, she moves around the counter, the crowd moving aside for her.

She stands in front of Luke, who has stood up to meet her. Her eyes moist, she looks up at him.

ADELE Do you... remember me?

LUKE I've seen you before. Your picture...

Mabel, clutching a napkin, leans over to Katie.

MABEL (sotto) Look!

LUKE ... but I don't think I remember you.

Adele leans up and kisses him softly. He looks at her.

LUKE But I'll sure try.

As Mabel and Katie dab at their eyes, we

CUT TO:

EXT. COMMERCE STREET - NIGHT

Adele and Luke stroll down the street side by side. She looks at him for a long moment.

LUKE What.

ADELE No, I... I just wondering where you've been all this time.

LUKE Me too.

ADELE You look... different.

LUKE I do?

ADELE Yeah, a little. I think you grew an inch or so. And you've lost weight.

LUKE I did? Huh!

Tentatively, she takes his hand and holds it. From behind them, we HEAR A SHUFFLING SOUND. Adele turns...

ADELE'S POV

Keeping a discreet distance, EVERYONE from the diner is following them. Adele turns and addresses the crowd.

ADELE (to the group) You can all go home, now. He's not going anywhere.

LUKE Go on home, folks. And thanks for the welcome.

Harry comes over.

LUKE I'll be home in a little while, Harry. Don't wait up.

HARRY You two have a lot of catching up to do, I guess.

LUKE You bet.

HARRY Goodnight, son. (tips his hat) 'Night, Delly.

And the rest of the crowd disperses, variously wishing the pair goodnight. Luke and Adele watch them disperse.

LUKE There. We're alone.

They turn and start walking.

ADELE Then why do I feel like we're still being shadowed?

LUKE Well... where can we go?

Adele brightens.

ADELE I know a place. Come on!

She grabs his hand and they run toward the town square.

EXT. LAWSON CITY HALL - NIGHT

Adele and Luke stand by the front steps.

LUKE City hall?

ADELE You must not remember anything. Come on.

She grabs his hand and they run to the side of the building.

EXT. SIDE OF CITY HALL - NIGHT

Adele and Luke stand by a basement window, inches off the ground. She looks around. Certain the coast is clear, she pounds on the window in three "special" places, and it pops up and open. She looks at Luke.

ADELE You first.

LUKE Why me?

ADELE Be a gentleman. You have to help me down.

AS LUKE CLIMBS IN, WE

CUT TO:

A LARGE, MUSLIN-COVERED OBJECT.

Slowly, the muslin is drawn off, revealing A STATUE OF A KNEELING SOLIDER, praying before a soldier's grave. We slowly PAN DOWN from the top of the statue...

INT. CITY HALL BASEMENT STORAGE ROOM - NIGHT

ADELE (O.S.) When we were kids, my Dad was mayor, and you and me and a bunch of others used to come down here all the time.

ON ADELE AND LUKE

looking up at the statue in this city hall basement storage room, lit only by a single shaft of moonlight from the window. The muslin covering lay bunched at their feet.

ADELE Of course, there was a lot more room before they stuck the memorial down here.

LUKE (looks at the door) How'd they get it inside?

ADELE Through the door. It comes apart.

She moves to the memorial. Squinting, she examines its base.

ADELE Your name's on here. See?

Luke comes over.

ON THE BASE OF THE MEMORIAL -- LUKE'S NAME

ADELE Right here. "Albert Lucas Trumbo." And all the others. I knew them all. So did you. We went to school with most of them.

LUKE It doesn't seem right, this being down here. It ought to be where people can see it.

ADELE After they commissioned it, no one could ever agree on where to put it. The Methodists wanted it in front of the Methodist Church, the Presbyterians wanted it in front of the Presbyterian Church, the city council wanted it in the lobby of City Hall. Everyone finally got tired of the fighting. So they stuck it down here.

He looks at her for a long moment. There's an electricity between them, and they both feel it.

LUKE So, you're really gonna be a lawyer?

ADELE (suddenly defensive) And why not?

LUKE Whoa.

ADELE (smiling) Sorry. You don't know how many times I've heard that. "A lady lawyer? Are you crazy?" Like a woman couldn't be as good a lawyer as a man. Or better, in fact.

LUKE Have you always wanted to be a lawyer?

ADELE You... don't remember, but yes, ever since I was a little girl.

LUKE What did... what did I want to be?

ADELE (gently) Oh, well... I guess you... in high school, you were a pretty good first baseman. And we were on the debate team together. But... I think you were gonna run the Bijou. You were brought up there, and you loved it so much. And I think you knew how much the town needed a place like that.

He turns away, rubs his head.

LUKE I just wish I could remember some of this.

He turns back to her.

LUKE You don't have a boyfriend or anyone... you know... like that?

ADELE Actually, I was married. For four years. But... well, we didn't fit together. I'm divorced now.

LUKE I'm sorry.

ADELE No, it's okay. See, when two people belong together, the other person should be the... the key that unlocks the rest of you... I'm not making sense, am I?

LUKE (moving toward her) No, you are. I know exactly what you mean. It's not that you're missing something. It's that the other person gives something to you... that you had all the time. You just didn't see it until they came along.

ADELE (smiling) Yeah...

Pause.

LUKE We were in love... weren't we?

ADELE (quietly) Yes. (then:) Hic!

She instantly covers her mouth, but it's no good. She has the hiccups again.

LUKE What was that?

ADELE Nothing. (hic!)

LUKE Do you have the...

ADELE I'm (hic!) fine. Really. (hic!)

Luke smiles and watches Adele as she makes the decision to not struggle against the hiccups. She has them, and that's just the way it is.

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