Eric Bergren, Christopher De Vore & Nicholas Kazan
BLACK. We HEAR the soft voice of Frances Farmer.
No one ever came up to me and said,
'You're a fool. There isn't such a
thing as God. Somebody's been stuffing
EXT. PUGET SOUND - DAY
On an expanse of water, calm and undisturbed. After a moment,
it begins to ripple as something rises toward the surface. A
girl's face breaks through.
It wasn't a murder. I think God just
died of old age. And when I realized
He wasn't any more, it didn't shock
me. It seemed natural and right.
The girl, FRANCES, is 16, blond, very pretty: she seems like
the most persuasive proof imaginable of God's existence. She
swims toward the shore with long graceful strokes... then
climbs the steps of the old wood jetty on West Point Beach.
And yet I began to wonder what the
minister meant when he said, 'God,
the Father, sees even the smallest
sparrow fall. He watches over all
his children.' That jumbled it all
up for me.
EXT. PUGET SOUND - LATER
The banks of Puget Sound, dotted with elm trees. Frances
sits comfortably in the fork of a tree writing in her diary.
Towel around her neck, her hair splayed out and drying golden
in the sun.
But still sometimes I found that God
was useful to remember, especially
when I lost things that were
important. 'Please God, let me find
my red hat with the blue trimmings.'
INT. FARMER HOME - FAMILY ROOM - EVENING
Frances is now reading aloud from her diary, gently swaying
back and forth in a rocking chair. An older woman, LILLIAN
FARMER, sits opposite on the couch, listening and nodding
from time to time. A small suitcase stands by the front door.
It usually worked. God became a
superfather that couldn't spank me.
But if I wanted a thing badly enough,
He arranged it.
ERNEST FARMER appears in the doorway and hesitates, listening
to his daughter read.
But if God loved all of His children
equally, why did He bother about my
red hat and let other people lose
their fathers and mothers for always?
Ernest goes to Frances and kisses her softly on the top of
her head. She looks at him briefly, smiling slightly.
See you next weekend, Dad.
He goes to the door and picks up his suitcase, glances at
Lillian. She doesn't look up. He leaves.
I began to see that He didn't have
much to do about hats or people dying
or anything. They happened whether
He wanted them to or not, and He
stayed in Heaven and pretended not
INT. AUDITORIUM - DAY
Frances stands at a podium. Other STUDENTS and TEACHERS sit
to either side of her on folding chairs. Above the proscenium
is engraved: West Seattle High School. Below that a banner
hangs: "NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL ESSAY COMPETITION, 1931."
I wondered a little why God was such
a useless thing. It seemed a waste
of time to have Him. After that He
became less and less, until He was...
The AUDIENCE consists of parents, students, and local
dignitaries. We SEE several shocked faces. Lillian is there
also, smiling. Seated next to her is a distinguished-looking
woman, ALMA STYLES. Ernest sits on the other side of the
auditorium, looking a little worried.
I felt rather proud that I had found
the truth myself, without help from
anyone. It puzzled me that other
people hadn't found out, too. God
was gone. We had reached past Him.
Why couldn't they see it? It still
Frances closes her notebook and looks up, waiting for some
response. There is a deep shocked silence, then a smattering
of applause. Lillian claps enthusiastically, then rises to
her feet. In the back a WOMAN also stands.
You're going straight to hell, Frances
A stately man sitting next to her, her husband JUDGE BENJAMIN
HILLIER, puts a restraining hand on her arm. The woman
continues to glare at Frances.
Frances stares back, dumbfounded.
SMASH CUT TO:
EXT. SEATTLE STREETS - DAY
The screen erupts into violence. A large unruly MOB skirmishes
with POLICE in a cobblestoned square. On a truckbed addressing
the crowd -- which carries placards reading: "Organize Now!",
"Workers of the World Unite!", and "Elect Kaminski!" stands
MARTONI KAMINSKI. By his side, leading the crowd's responses,
stands a younger man with sharp piercing eyes, HARRY YORK.
And do you think it's radical for a
man to have a job and feed a family?
YORK & CROWD
Is it radical for you to have a hand
in shaping your future, and the future
of your children?
YORK & CROWD
Is it radical for the wealth of this
country to be turned back to the
people who built the country?
YORK & CROWD
Good! Because, Brothers, that's you!
The crowd cheers. Harry York gives Kaminski the thumbs-up
sign as a banner unfurls: "Today Seattle -- Tomorrow the
FADE TO BLACK:
A TITLE COMES ON SCREEN: GOD'S IN HIS HEAVEN AND ALL'S RIGHT
WITH THE WORLD? 'NOT SO!' SAYS YOUNG FRANCES FARMER
We realize we've been watching a newsreel. We SEE the SCHOOL
SUPERINTENDENT presenting Frances with an award.
Seattle is in the news again as a
high school junior wins a national
competition and a hundred dollar
prize with an essay denying God.
City Hall steps. Judge Hillier and other BIGWIGS speaking
heatedly to reporters.
This prompts civic officials to charge
that left-wing politicians are
encouraging atheism in the city's
schools. Miss Frances Farmer was
unavailable for comment, but her
mother Lillian --
Lillian stands in front of her wood frame house addressing a
small CROWD of reporters, photographers, and curious
Farmer, a well-known local dietician,
stepped to her daughter's defense.
Frances has not turned her back on
the Lord, they're just having a
momentary difference of opinion.
What child hasn't questioned the
Lord's mysteries in order to better
understand them? To paraphrase Mr.
Voltaire, I may not agree with what
she says, but I'll defend to the
death her right to say it. Freedom
of speech, unlike in the dark
countries to the east, still lives
in America! And in my home.
Among the AUDIENCE in the cinema, we SEE Frances and her
father. Frances slinks down in her seat until she's hidden
EXT. SUBURBAN STREET (SEATTLE) - DAY
Frances carries library books and a small grocery bag. Her
hair and skin gleam in the sun. People in their yards stare
at her as she passes. She walks on, coming to a group of
CHILDREN slightly younger than herself who are playing in
front of a union hall. A girl, EMMA, 13, glances up.
Emma looks away quickly, returns to her play.
Frances shakes her head as she walks on.
Frances hesitates, then turns to look:
A man in his twenties whom we recognize as Harry York,
Kaminski's compatriot, leaves a group of men in front of the
union hall and walks toward her.
C'mere. I wanna talk to you.
Frances keeps walking. Harry hurries after her.
Momma told ya not to speak to
(reaches her, grabs
Don't touch me.
I'm not gonna hurt you. I just wanna
She stares at him. He's got a newspaper wedged under one
Well... you're causin' trouble, you
I'm causing trouble?! You're a pain
in the butt! You newshounds've been
after me and my folks ever since I
won that dumb contest. I'm just
sixteen, you know? Who the hell cares
what I think?
Not me. But other people seem to.
Yeah. Well if you didn't put it in
the papers -- nobody'd even know
Now wait a minute, sweetie. Do I
look like a newshound to you?
No... Actually, you look more like a
That's rich. Hey, if I was a cop,
I'd be packing, right?
(holding coat open)
You see a gun? Go on, search me. Pat
Frances hesitates, leans toward him as though about to frisk
him. Their eyes meet, and she pulls away, suddenly
I'll... take your word for it. So
who are you, then?
Harry York. I work for Martoni
Kaminski, he's running for Congress
(smiles & points to
Oh yeah! I saw you in the newsreel!
Yeah, well --
You know, my Dad's done some work
Now you're catchin' on. Don't wanna
get your Daddy in hot water, do you?
Well... see the papers've got us
pegged as pinkos, then you come along,
the friendly neighborhood atheist --
But I'm not. The newspapers're --
Right again. You're no more an atheist
than my man's a Red, but what they're
doin', see, they're addin' up their
version of your ideas with their
version of ours. Could look bad for
Yeah. Could look bad for you and
Kaminski too, I guess.
Sure don't talk like you're sixteen.
Well aren't you the smoothie. Now
you're going to ask for my number, I
I suppose not. Gotta ask you this,
though: for all our sakes, you better
keep your trap shut.
Well... I'll give it a try, Mr. York.
They half-smile, awkwardly, as if neither really wants this
encounter to end. Then Harry doffs his hat.
She nods shyly and starts up the path toward the house.
Sure don't walk like sixteen, neither.
INT. COURTROOM - LATE AFTERNOON
CLOSE ON Judge Hillier in his robes, identified by a nameplate
on the bench.
These are perilous times. With the
economic collapse comes hopelessness
and desperation; and people turn to
dangerous ideas --
The CAMERA PULLS SLOWLY BACK. We SEE that the courtroom is
Those of us who represent law and
order must be vigilant. Who's behind
this, her mother?
Now we SEE who he's talking to: Alma Styles, the woman who
sat with Lillian at the school auditorium.
Impossible. As her attorney, I've
known her for years.
What about the father, he's a little
pink. Maybe he wants to show our
schools in a bad light, shift some
support to Kaminski and those jackals.
(shaking her head)
He's no influence; he doesn't even
live at home. No, I think Frances
wrote that essay with no mischief
intended. It was her teacher who
entered it in the competition.
Well, the publicity must stop. It's
no good for Seattle and no good for
Keep an eye on this, will you, Alma?
Of course, your honor.
He nods with satisfaction. Two right-thinking people fighting
for what they believe in.
INT. FARMER HOUSE - DINING ROOM - NIGHT
Ernest Farmer sits alone, motionless, at the table. Between
two candles, facing him, is Frances' check for a hundred
We HEAR bustle from behind the kitchen door, then Lillian
and Frances enter juggling several hot dishes. Ernest rises.
They set down the dishes, Frances intentionally placing the
bread between the check and her father.
It always amazes me, Lil, how you
can whip up a hot, hearty meal out
of thin air.
I can thank you for that. It was a
She moves the bread so Ernest again faces the check. As
Lillian slices the bread, father and daughter eat grimly.
(offering to Ernest)
(taking a piece)
When's the last time you saw a hundred
dollars, Ernest Farmer?
(pushing back her
I'm not hungry. You two just enjoy
yourselves. After all, this is a
She leaves. A long silence.
They both glance slightly awkwardly at the check.
Frances takes it, folds it, and puts it in her pocket, out
I'm... I'm really proud of you,
An essay contest... a national
contest. That's pretty impressive.
I didn't have much to do with it.
You wrote it, didn't you?
Yeah, I suppose... Dad, who's Harry
Well, Harry York is a guy who...
well, he does a lot of things. Why
do you ask?
He talked to me today. Told me to
keep my mouth shut or I'd get
everybody in trouble.
Yeah... well... it's possible. Harry
York and I both work for Mr. Kaminski
right now, and... well... There are
lots of folks in this country who
never got a square break. That's the
way of things, but Mr. Kaminski wants
to change it, and when it comes to
new ideas, the people in power get
Is Kaminski a Communist?
No, no, no. All he wants to do is
see the common man get a little
He's a socialist, then?
INT. STUDY - LILLIAN - NIGHT
Sitting at a rolltop desk. She's looking through a large
scrapbook. We SEE articles about nutrition and diet, some
featuring Lillian's picture, others with her name in the
heading. She listens to the conversation in the other room.
The label's not important, Francie.
What's important is: this country's
got nine million unemployed and
something's gotta be done about it.
Besides: left-wing, right-wing, up-
wing, down-wing... they don't mean
much. All a label is usually is a
way to call somebody a dirty name.
Lillian's face becomes set. She looks down at the book. An
article titled "Girl Denies God" is there, freshly pasted.
She lays a hand on the blank page opposite.
It's already started, Dad... with
INT. DINING ROOM - NIGHT
And I can't understand how it can
hurt to be honest, but the more I
tried to explain --
(what I meant)
Lillian appears in the doorway.
Don't listen to him, little sister.
When you're proud of what you are,
you don't refuse the label,
And you... should be proud. You won
that contest and made a name for
She stomps out. Frances and Ernest push back their plates.
EXT. BACK GARDEN - NIGHT
Lillian is watering tomatoes in the dark and talking to them
quietly. As Ernest approaches, she senses him and grows
silent. She speaks without turning around.
You're poisoning that child's mind.
I have a right to talk to her. She's
my daughter, and she's beginning to
understand why I've sacrificed so
much in order to achieve...
You've sacrificed?! If you'd practice
law for decent folk instead of
Communists and indigents --
They need help, Lil. They pay me
back in other ways.
How? What do they do for you, Kaminski
and his friends? They're all
No, Lil. It's just you can't
understand their brand of patriotism.
That's right. I can't understand a
man who puts strangers over his
family, a man who gives up a good
career to become a shiftless inkhorn
I'm going back to the hotel.
See you next weekend?
As usual. Everything as usual, Mr.
Farmer. Just give me my due.
Ernest starts back toward the house. He sees Frances watching
them and slows down, turns...
Lillian... I'm more than willing to
meet you halfway.
Don't make me sick. I'd sooner drown
myself in Puget Sound.
(under his breath)
That's a thought, Lil. That sure is
He trudges back toward the house under Frances' eye.
A WOMAN'S VOICE comes from behind the fence.
Are you all right, dear?
I'm fine, perfectly fine.
EXT. FRONT PORCH - NIGHT
Ernest stands on the porch holding his little bag.
Dad, please, don't leave early. Just
because of Mama --
Francie, you'll learn that sometimes
it's best to stay low and just walk
He trudges out and down the walk.
Frances watches him, shaking her head. That is not a lesson
she wants to learn.
FADE TO BLACK:
INT. THEATRE LOBBY - NIGHT
Opening night. Harry is reading a playbill displayed in a
theatre lobby: "1934 Spring Production... University of
Washington Players Present: 'Uncle Vanya' by Anton Chekhov."
Frances is playing Sonia. Harry turns and enters the theatre.
INT. UNIVERSITY THEATRE STAGE - NIGHT
Frances on stage seen from a distance.
What can we do, we must live! We
shall live, Uncle Vanya...
Frances is acting with a nervous young man, CHET. As her
speech progresses, the camera moves in nearer and nearer,
ending with a close-up. It is as if we are being drawn in by
And then we shall rest, we shall
rest. We shall hear the angels, we
shall see the whole sky all diamonds,
we shall see how all earthly evil,
all our sufferings, are drowned in
the mercy that will fill the whole
world. And our life will grow
peaceful, tender, sweet as a caress...
(wipes away tears)
Poor, dear Uncle Vanya, you are
(through her tears)
In your life you haven't known what
joy was; but wait, Uncle Vanya,
wait... We shall rest...
We shall rest!
Curtains close. AUDIENCE bursts into applause.
As the curtain opens and the players take their bows, we SEE
in the audience: Lillian and Ernest, Lillian clapping madly,
crying, nudging Ernest to clap harder.
And in the back stands Harry York.
Not bad, Farmer. Not half bad.
INT. UNIVERSITY READING ROOM - NIGHT
A celebration in progress. Masks of Comedy and Tragedy hang
on the walls. DRAMA STUDENTS lounge about: eating, drinking,
talking noisily. Bing Crosby is on the record player, singing
"I've Got The World on a String." The Drama Teacher is holding
court to a group of attentive students.
Art is a constant struggle. Some of
you have the will but not the ability.
For others, the opposite. I don't
wish to be harsh, but only one of
you on stage tonight combined the
The front door opens. Frances and Chet enter.
The young men rush over to congratulate her. Frances takes a
mock bow. She laughs as people cheer. TWO GIRLS observe from
I could really learn to hate her.
Stand in line.
INT. UNIVERSITY READING ROOM - SEVERAL HOURS LATER
Things have quieted down. The Drama Teacher has cornered
Frances and is gesticulating drunkenly, waving a copy of
"Voice of Action." Frances is also tipsy, but pays close
attention to her mentor.
This is the answer: a subscription
drive to "Voice of Action!" First
prize is a trip to Moscow! You could
visit the art theatre, maybe even
But I'll never win that.
Yes, yes, it's all arranged.
Everyone's collecting subscriptions
in your name. And the best part is:
the trip returns you to New York.
New York, Frances! Broadway! This is
your chance! You belong on the stage!
A door opens quietly and Harry slips in. He smiles at Frances,
who disentangles herself from her teacher and rushes over.
Hi, Harry. Did you see the play?
You think I'd miss it?
Well? What'd you think?
I just wanted to see how you looked.
How'd I look?
Don't be a rat, Harry.
You looked okay.
Joint's pretty dead. How 'bout I
take you home?
She hesitates, looks around and sees Chet passed out, snoring
in a chair. She takes Harry's arm.
EXT. WEST POINT BEACH - NIGHT
The beach is very dark, but the sweep of the lighthouse picks
up an old Chevrolet parked near the shore.
You really think so?
INT. CHEVROLET - NIGHT
Frances and Harry are sitting in the back seat.
Honest. When you were up there, you
were really... there, know what I
mean? Everyone else looked stupid.
I don't know... I did... feel
Yeah, it's a gift. You gotta do
something with it.
Yeah, but if I win this trip, Mama'll
kill me. She hates Russians. I do
want to go, though... to New York,
especially... but I wanted to do
You're not the quiet type, Frances.
They are silent for a while.
You know, my old man was an inventor.
Spent his whole life down in the
basement trying to design
railroads, stuff like that. Well, I
was supposed to be his partner. When
I told him the smell of his workshop
made me sick, I thought he was going
to die right there.
What happened to him?
He retired to Florida... made a
killing in vending machines.
He grins ironically and Frances laughs.
I kick myself sometimes, but the
thing is, I would have been miserable
living his life.
...So you think I should go.
Sure. Try this acting thing. You can
make good money at it.
I don't know, Harry. I... I want so
You don't know what you want.
She looks at him, smiles wistfully.
Not in the long run, anyway.
She starts to unbutton her blouse. Harry is pleasantly
surprised, but unnerved.
Well... don't you think it's up to
Come on, Harry. This is America,
land of the free.
I thought we might go skinny dipping.
Harry can't believe his good fortune.
INT. FARMER HOUSE - DAY
Lillian's face, distorted.
Communists?! No daughter of mine is
going to Communist Russia!
Lillian is in her apron, canning peaches.
You act like I'm a bomb-thrower,
Mama. It's just a trip.
She leaves. Lillian follows her down the narrow -- almost
institutional -- hallway.
But they're using you!
Oh Ma, they're not using me. It's
just a chance to travel, see things.
Besides, it's the only way I can get
to New York.
They've reached Frances' room. She puts on her coat.
I'll pay your way to New York. I'll
work, I'll slave. I'll sell my
vegetables to the truck farmers, or --
Oh, Mama, don't you understand?
She stares out the window. We see Ernest mowing the lawn.
I have to do this on my own. You
see, I've learned your lesson very
well. To do what I think is right
and everyone else be damned.
Frances turns and heads back down the hall. Lillian follows.
I never taught you that!
Frances keeps walking.
Little sister, if you don't wise up
soon, it's going to be out of my
They've reached the kitchen. Ernest is there, sweating,
It isn't in your hands, Mama. It's
Yes, but important people are
concerned about this. Judge Hillier
spoke to Alma Styles --
I don't care.
She storms outside. Frances sighs, looks at her father.
What do I do, Dad?
You really want to go?
And you think it's worth all this?
If I didn't, I wouldn't put you
EXT. SEATTLE BUS STATION - DAY
Lillian has a few reporters drawn off to one side. Alma Styles
and a MINISTER stand nearby. A CROWD has gathered. Inside
the station, more reporters are milling around Frances.
The authorities tell me there's no
legal way I can stop her, but the
way I see it, it's bigger than me or
(the following is
heard faintly as
b.g. to the scene
American integrity, that's what's at
stake here. They're sending my
daughter to the heartland of darkness.
. .the dark forces that would
overthrow our country. Your country.
INT. BUS STATION - FRANCES AND REPORTERS - DAY
Ernest and the Drama Teacher stand at Frances' side.
Has your earlier denial of God led
you to Communism?
I'm not a Communist.
But Frances, you said --
I said all countries are of cultural
interest. Besides, Russia has the
greatest theatre company in the world.
Better than any American company?
What do you think of Stalin?
Not much. Ask me about Stanislavski.
Help me save my daughter! Save the
children of America.
A TALL SPECTRAL MAN dressed in black adds:
TALL SPECTRAL MAN
Repent, Frances, Repent!
Their cries seem weird, almost deranged, and Lillian is taken
EXT. BUS STATION - DAY
Passengers climb onto the bus. As Frances is hugged by her
Drama Teacher, the Tall Spectral Man approaches her. In his
arms he carries a potted plant, a Bible, and a flashlight.
TALL SPECTRAL MAN
Bless you, sister, bless you.
(dignified, as though
Here is a Bible for solace... and
this plant to remind you of the
eternal seed in all of us... and
finally, a flashlight to illuminate
your path through darkest Russia.
Frances accepts the gifts, bewildered. The Tall Spectral Man
stares at her through hollow eyes. She staggers on toward
the bus, looking like a bedraggled Statue of Liberty. The
Tall Spectral Man sings an ethereal hymn.
Lillian blocks Frances' path. Frances looks at her tearfully.
I love you, Mama.
(turns to her father)
I love you, Dad.
Be careful, Francie.
As Frances climbs on board.
Frances, I'm warning you. I'm gonna
throw myself beneath the wheels.
I'll do it, Frances. Frances!
Inside the bus, Frances stares out the window and shakes her
The bus starts. Everyone looks at Lillian. She is
motionless... Furious. Frances sighs, and the bus moves off
There is a homicidal rage in Lillian's eyes as she stares
after the vehicle. Then the Reporters rush toward her.
What do you say now, Mrs. Farmer?
She looks down, her lip quivering. Humiliated, crumbling...
As the reporters shout unanswered questions, Ernest puts his
arm around his wife and leads her away.
FADE TO BLACK:
INT. FARMER STUDY - DAY
Lillian is happily thumbing through her scrapbook. Her hand
runs down the page, and we SEE a series of headlines, with
MOTHER UNABLE TO HALT GIRL'S TRIP TO RUSSIA
(Photo Lillian & Frances)
MOTHER WARNS AGAINST REDS IN SCHOOLS
Next is a SNAPSHOT of Frances on board on ocean liner.
Then TWO SNAPSHOTS of her in what is clearly Moscow. She
wears a Russian hat. The Kremlin stands behind her.
Then SNAPSHOTS of her in New York, with a small clipping
from the "New York Times":
Visits Moscow Art Theatre...
YOUNG ACTRESS RETURNS FROM RUSSIA, ASPIRES TO THE BROADWAY
Below this is a magazine advertisement showing Frances in a
glossy Chesterfield ad. Her hair is swept up off her head,
and she looks glamorous, artificial, very different from how
we've seen her.
Lillian takes up the paste brush and liberally swabs the
opposite -- blank -- page of her scrapbook. A handwritten
letter from Frances lies beside her. She removes a clipping
from the letter and spreads it out. The clipping says: "STARS
OF TOMORROW" and shows a semi-circle of girl's faces inside
Lillian circles Frances' photo and sits back to admire it.
EXT. HOLLYWOOD - DAY
We SEE the Hollywood sign in the distance... then CHANGE
FOCUS to see the front of the studio...
INT. PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO - HOLLYWOOD - DAY
Frances' hair is tightly curled. She is dressed in a
grotesquely ruffled white gown and seated on a small stool.
Behind her TWO ASSISTANTS fuss with bunches of white
carnations hanging on a grid. A seasoned PUBLICIST kneels
nearby and a woman with a coffee cup, CLAIRE, surveys the
One more time.
Frances stares dramatically off into space.
The camera clicks.
Oh, I swim some... play the piano
badly... and I read like a fiend: I
No, no, people don't want that. Now
listen: you spend lots of time at
the beach. You're crazy about dancing.
And you're the kind of girl who's
just a little in love with love. Get
it? Now try again? Hobbies?
(writing in notepad)
Beach... dancing... in love with
The camera clicks again. MR. BEBE -- a tall, brooding, well-
dressed man -- ENTERS.
Good morning, Mr. Bebe!
Frances Farmer, contract player, six-
Okay. Good tits. Can't we show them
off a little more?
I guess so, sir.
(nods, stares again
Very fine bone structure.
He leaves. Claire stares after him with profound contempt.
(coming up to Claire)
Not much to work with. How's this:
'The most interesting thing about
Frances Farmer is that her road to
Hollywood was 12,000 miles long.
After winning a beauty contest, the
first prize of which was a trip to
Europe...' She made some deal with
the Commies and went to Moscow, but
I'm not going to say that, am I?
Heavens no. Go on.
Um... 'Miss Farmer returned to New
York City and had a brief fling with
the Broadway stage before coming
west to seek stardom.'
Well, actually she couldn't get hired,
but lucky for her, some guy in our
New York office saw her. She says
soon as she gets a stake, she's going
Claire rolls her eyes. She's heard this before.
The Camera clicks again. Frances is frozen in time.
INT. STUDIO ACTING CLASS - DAY
TWO STUDENTS are doing a scene from "Design For Living."
Others sit around watching, whispering, flirting, sleeping...
but Frances is paying very close attention, making notes.
The MAN next to her rubs her arm and whispers something. She
grimaces and pays no attention. Then she notices, two rows
in front, a young handsome student, DICK, who's also making
notes. She stares at him for a second, then back at the stage.
EXT. LAUREL CANYON COTTAGE - DAY
A tiny rustic cottage, dogs everywhere. Two identical old
Fords are parked out front.
INT. COTTAGE - DAY
Frances sits on the couch talking on the phone.
Did you get the check?... Oh my God,
it opened?!, what'd you think?
Water lands on her face. She grimaces playfully.
Well, I hope I get bigger parts,
they don't come much smaller.
The last line is garbled as water streams in her mouth. She
fumbles for something on the floor.
No, I'm fine. I just have water in
She finds a water pistol on the floor, picks up the phone,
and starts searching for her assailant.
No, Mama, I'm not changing my name.
They can't actually make you, you
know? Most people don't realize that.
She flings open the bathroom door and finds him: Dick from
drama class. A furious water battle ensues.
No, no, nothing's going on.
I love you too, Mama. Give my love
to Dad. Bye!
She hangs up, lowers her gun as Dick squirts her. She's
getting wet. Her shirt clinging to her breasts. She likes
Okay, handsome. You win.
INT. HOLLYWOOD SCREENING ROOM
On the small screen we SEE Frances in the arms of a MAN IN
FIRE CHIEF'S HAT.
Oh, Angela! Go with these trappers!
They'll lead you safely down the
But, Kurt, I...
No, No arguments. Be my good girl
and go. There's a forest, a burning
forest, and you know what I have to
Oh Angela, my own... Angela!
ON SCREEN the corners of Frances' mouth begin to tremble,
but her eyes remain wide and innocent. The Fire Chief slowly
inclines his head toward hers. The brim of his hat hits her
forehead. Frances covers her face with her hands and bursts
out laughing. The Fire Chief looks stunned. She tries to
(looking into camera)
I'm sorry, let's go back.
Laughter inside the screening room. A small light flicks on,
and from behind we dimly SEE TWO MEN.
What the hell is that? What's she
That's talent, Andy.
(after a beat)
EXT. CATWALK - DAY
Frances smiles and eases shut the screening room door. We
HEAR the Laughing Man inside shout: "Let's see that again!"
Frances puts a cigarette in her mouth and fishes for a match.
A man's hand appears, holding a lighter. She looks up: It's
Harry, wearing a garish Hawaiian shirt and a Panama hat.
Harry! Harry-god-damn-York! A real
Frances throws her arms around him. They hug warmly.
How ya doin', Farmer?
Me? Look at you! What're you doing
Came to get a tan.
They compare forearms.
Not bad. But come on, Harry; what's
the real reason?
Yeah, I read about that. Terrible
Since when do you believe the papers?
They killed him, kid.
They killed him. They threw him out
She stares down two stories to the ground, imagining:
(also staring down)
Yup. Poor bastard lay there on the
sidewalk and he couldn't die. Too
god damn much heart. He just didn't
want to die.
But... but why, Harry...? Why'd they
He wouldn't play ball. What can I
tell ya... it's done.
Anyway, I didn't want to be next, so
I skipped town; came down here to
work for some big-wig. Tail and nail
I'm sort of a non-gentleman's non-
displaying his shirt)
How d'ya like the camouflage?
(pushing him down the
C'mon, let's get out of here.
EXT. STUDIO LOT - DAY
Harry and Frances walking arm in arm.
Not bad. It was slow at first, but
I'm doing bits now.
I always told ya, Frances. You got
I know what ability you're interested
Hey, I'm a man, aren't I? Whattaya
say we have dinner, then maybe head
out to the beach, rub some of this
tan off each other.
(off her sober
For old time's sake.
Harry... I met someone.
Yeah? What is he -- muscleman?
Frances shakes her head.
Good. Then it's temporary.
All actors are phonies.
He's joking, but she doesn't respond.
Hey that's great, Farmer, just great.
She smiles wistfully, seeing him cover up his disappointment.
She squeezes his arm and they continue walking.
INT. SOUND STAGE - SET (RHYTHM ON THE RANGE) - DAY
Lights being adjusted, cameras set, actors walking through
their blocking. In the midst of this we SEE Frances, dressed
in western attire, making a point to the WARDROBE MISTRESS,
who is listening without enthusiasm.
(spreading her arms)
These creases... I look like I just
came from the laundry! I'm supposed
to be hiding out in boxcars, sleeping
This is the suit we fitted on you,
Oh, I know that. But it could look
more realistic, don't you think?
(looking her over)
It'll do. No one will notice.
We HEAR a man conspicuously clearing his throat. Both women
turn as Mr. Bebe steps forward.
Oh, Mr. Bebe, good morning.
He nods imperceptibly.
Come along with me, Fanny.
She hesitates, then goes.
That's Frances. I'm not the cookbook.
(leading her off)
You see: We've got to change that
EXT. STUDIO LOT - DAY
Frances and Bebe come through the sound stage door into the
light. He gestures to indicate what direction they're going,
but remains silent, watching her. She's uncomfortable,
blinking like a bird.
I like your looks. You have the
classical bone structure of the very
great beauties... Garbo, Dietrich --
Thank you --
I intend to make a great deal of
money off you.
Frances is taken aback. This is all rather blunt.
Since we have you on a seven year
contract, I'm planning long-range.
I'm going to loan you out to Sam
Goldwyn to make a picture called
"Come and Get It."
Really? That's a very good book.
It'd make a terrific --
Never mind that. I'm concerned about
you. Your attitude.
They hear a ruckus in the distance and turn and look:
PICKETERS are fighting with POLICE. It is raucous, brutal.
Bebe turns back to her with a stern look:
Society is falling apart, Miss Farmer,
and people have to buckle down, do
their jobs. You see, I view myself
as the Henry Ford of motion picture
industry, and I can't have the fellow
who puts on the wheels arguing with
the man who installs head-lights,
now can I?
But I'm concerned with everything,
(fierce but very muted)
No, I'm concerned with everything.
But I'm the one up there on the
That's right. You're an actress,
Miss Farmer and your job is to act.
She's about to reply, but he quickly takes her hand and raises
it to his lips. Kisses it very formally, like a suitor. Then
turns and walks into the sumptuous executive office building.
She watches him go.
EXT. THEATRE MARQUEE - NIGHT
Brightly colored bulbs flashing, causing the wisps of fog
around them to glow. The bulbs spell:
"COME AND GET IT" WITH SEATTLE'S OWN FRANCES FARMER
A noisy CROWD is gathered outside the theatre, straining
against velvet cordons. Big black limos disgorge couples in
formal evening wear, to the applause of the crowd. All
slightly small-town, off-key.
Harry, now sporting a mustache, hat pulled down over his
face, stands across the street.
(puffing his cigarette)
Not bad, Farmer.
EXT. STREETS - NIGHT
Two limousines streaking through the night.
INT. SECOND LIMOUSINE - NIGHT
Frances sits next to a faceless STUDIO EXECUTIVE. She's all
dolled up. She looks uncomfortable. Silence. She glances up
at the limo ahead of them.
INT. FIRST LIMOUSINE - NIGHT
Dick sits between Lillian and Ernest A REPORTER and
PHOTOGRAPHER crouch in front of them.
I guess it's no secret that I'm proud.
Only twenty-one years old, and look
at all she's done.
As for her looks, I flatter myself
that she gets them from me.
He winks at the reporters.
And not only has Frances come home a
star; she's also brought me this big
handsome lug of a son-in-law!
Mr. Farmer, what was your reaction
when Frances told you she had
Dwayne. Dwayne Steele.
What...? Oh. Well, I was pleased, of
course. Richard... uh, Dwayne, is a
Dick smiles and hugs them both.
Well, all I can say is: I feel like
I've known these two for years!
This is like a fairy tale!
They're stopped at a light. Outside their window we SEE
DERELICTS, casualties of the depression, huddled in the night.
INT. FRANCES' LIMO - NIGHT
She's staring at the derelicts. We feel her sympathy for
them. Almost like she'd rather be out there. A MAN WITH HOLLOW
EYES shouts something at them.
What'd he say?
She rolls down her window. The Studio Executive beside her
looks at her like she's crazy.
Let's go. We'll be late.
The limousine lurches forward. Frances settles back in her
seat, letting the night air sweep over her face.
EXT. THEATRE - NIGHT
The two limos pull up, the second emptying first. As Frances
gets out, the CROWD cheers wildly. She walks past them, eyes
glazed. She doesn't see Harry, who is held back by cordons.
Lillian is posing and signing autographs. In her tight, formal
dress, Frances looks radiant but constricted. As she walks,
voices assault her:
There she is!
REPORTER #1 (O.S.)
How does it feel to be back in
A little strange.
Isn't she gorgeous?
STUDIO EXECUTIVE (O.S.)
REPORTER #2 (O.S.)
How's the movie, Frances?
Smile, little sister, smile.
Frances sees her mother smiling nervously. They have entered
INT. LOBBY - NIGHT
Again there is a cordoned area in the center where Seattle
luminaries are sipping champagne. Reporter #1 lurches forward:
Can you make some statement about
Seattle, how the city helped you, or
the schools --
Well, the truth is the city had
nothing to do with it. I was lucky.
And what wasn't luck was hard work.
Judge Hillier's Wife, whom we recognize as the Woman who
shouted at Frances in the auditorium, steps forward in a
garish gown. She's holding a large key.
JUDGE HILLIER'S WIFE
Miss Farmer, I can't tell you how
proud I am to meet you.
She embraces and kisses Frances, who's more than a little
put off. After the kiss, she takes firm hold of Frances'
hand and won't let go. Judge Hillier steps to his wife's
side. Lillian also approaches.
JUDGE HILLIER'S WIFE
On behalf of the Seattle Ladies Club,
as a token of our vast admiration --
JUDGE HILLIER'S WIFE
Don't I know you?
JUDGE HILLIER'S WIFE
I don't believe so.
Sure. You shouted at me in the
auditorium when I read my essay.
JUDGE HILLIER'S WIFE
No, my dear. You must be mistaken.
I beg your pardon?
(to the dignitaries)
Listen, I'm still the same girl that
wrote that essay, the same girl who
went to Russia, and you people aren't
proud to meet me at all.
A hideous silence. Judge Hillier is fuming. His wife is
aghast, the key to the city extended awkwardly in front of
her. She shoves it into Frances' arms.
Frances moves to leave, but her arm is taken by the Studio
Executive, who escorts her into the theatre. The crowd
follows. Lillian is utterly mortified.
EXT. THEATRE - NIGHT
We TRACK along the side of the theatre. An exit door is thrown
open, and Frances storms out. As she does, she trips over an
OLD INDIAN BEGGAR. She stops and looks at him. He peers up
at her with large forlorn eyes... then holds out his hand. A
connection is made. All the anger drains out of her. She
gives him money, several bills. He breaks into a wonderful
crooked grin. She starts away, hesitates, then hands him the
key to the city. He stares at it, bewildered.
She strides away toward her limousine, which is now parked
with several others at the end of the alley. The CHAUFFEURS
are talking and smoking a cigarette. Her chauffeur sees her
and hurries to his limo. As it pulls into the street, we see
Harry drift back to the curb and stare after it.
EXT. WEST POINT BEACH - NIGHT
Frances sits on the old wood jetty staring out at the water,
the lighthouse... Harry approaches.
...It's one thing to marry the guy,
but did you have to sleep with him?
She cracks up. Harry laughs at his mistake.
Shit. I meant the other way around.
Well, the studio told me not to.
Is that why you did it?
Who ever thought they'd be right for
once? Jesus, Harry... it's a zoo
back there --
You're telling me.
Dick... and my mother! She acts like
she's on Mars or something --
Well, she's back to earth now. They're
all pretty huffed up about your
leaving. I think you better go back,
He looks at her thoughtfully, then sits.
You know, the funny thing is: it's
not a great movie. I mean it could've
been, but they screwed it up, gave
it a happy ending. And all my friends,
I know they're going to smile and
say they loved it.
If they say they love it, they'll
probably love it. Not everybody lies,
(warmly, to him)
No, they don't, do they?
Frances, you're a movie star now. If
you give them what they want, you
can get anything.
I don't have what they want, Harry.
(stares at the water)
Harry, will you tell me something?
How can I keep making movies when
people in the streets are starving?
Some people starve, kid. Until we
can do something about it, they might
as well see a movie. Makes 'em feel
But I don't want to be like that. I
want to do something...
What're you gonna do, waste your
talent? Why not use it to make
something worthwhile. You can do
that, you know?
Yeah, if I don't make too big an ass
They start to walk now along the beach. We see Harry's car
and the chauffeured limousine parked above.
Tell you what. Let's ditch the limo.
Let me drive you up to that red carpet
in my beat up Chevy.
The hell you will, Harry York.
Come on, Cinderella, your pumpkin
She shakes her head mischievously... moves backward
unbuttoning her coat.
(like a clock striking)
Bong... bong... bong...
The coat falls.
Don't start, Farmer.
(dropping her scarf)
It's midnight, Harry. My glittering
raiments are dissolving.
The chauffeur. He's watching.
He deserves a show. He missed the
I'm serious, Frances. This is
(kicking off a shoe)
She kicks off another shoe, sailing it into the water.
Frances is zipping off her dress.
Harry bends to pick up the first shoe.
A single glass slipper left glittering
on the pearly sands. Who was that
Harry watches her, mesmerized. The dress is off.
'Come and get it,' Harry.
She skips off down the beach, her dress strewn on the sands.
After a moment, from the darkness, we SEE her underclothes
fly into view. Harry can restrain himself no longer.
He drops the shoe and runs after her, tearing off his clothes.
After a moment, from the darkness, we hear her squeals of
EXT. STUDIO - HOLLYWOOD - DAY
The street outside the Studio Main Gate. Actors, directors,
etc. arrive in their shiny expensive autos. Among them is
Frances in her old battered Ford. She waves to the Guard and
EXT. STUDIO LOT - DAY
As Frances pulls into her parking space, Claire, the woman
from the photo session, strolls up.
Hi Frances, got a minute?
Sure, Claire. If you don't mind
walking my way.
They walk toward the dressing room.
Well, I suppose I should just say
it. It's your clothes.
Yeah, I mean slacks... and work
clothes... and that awful car --
It's a perfectly good car. It runs.
Yes, but... Really, I hate to sound...
it's just that the public expects
something different from its stars.
People won't take you seriously.
I don't care if my clothes are taken
seriously. Or my car.
You know what I mean.
Uh-huh. You mean what if the public
finds out I perspire? And wear slacks.
And drive an old jalopy? What if
they find out I'm a real person. Oh
no! Say it ain't so! Not a real
Claire is laughing. They go inside.
INT. FRANCES' DRESSING ROOM - DAY
Posh, fit for a star. Frances smiles at the MAKEUP MAN.
As Frances sits at the table and Eddie goes to work:
That's not all, Frances. Mr. Bebe is
very concerned about your politics.
He hears you've been donating money,
speaking at rallies.
Yup. Claire... please, please tell
Mr. Bebe that if he worried half as
much about his scripts as he does
about my private life, we'd make a
lot better movies.
I'm sorry, Frances. It's my job, you
'This is a factory and we each have
our jobs. The writer writes, the
director directs, and the actress...'
...acts. I'll relay your message.
INT. FRANCES AND DICK'S COTTAGE - NIGHT
Dick is talking on the phone in the living room.
Yes, of course she'll make a statement
on women's rights. Call back tomorrow,
He hangs up. Immediately the phone rings again. He stares at
it wearily, then answers:
Dwayne Steele's residence.
Through the half-open door to the bedroom we see Frances
dozing, an open script laid out beside her.
Yes. Yes, I'll tell her.
He hangs up. Stares off. Slowly enters the bedroom.
Frances looks up.
You learn your lines?
There've been some calls.
Well... about half an hour ago that
woman from the talent department
called, what's her name?
Yeah, Claire. She said she was fired.
Too bad, huh?
Yeah. She said she delivered your
message and that you'd understand.
Frances looks stricken.
Dick presses on.
There was another call too. From
your agent. He says your summer stock
deal is all set. So you're going
back east, huh?
You weren't going to tell me, were
you? Just pack up and leave, is that
Dick, we need some time apart --
Hey, I'm not a complete fool, you
know. I can see you're going sour on
me, and when I try to do something
about it, you turn your back and say
Dick, I can't even breathe here...
Dwayne! I'm Dwayne now! And you damn
well better get used to it!
I don't suppose it occurred to you
that I might want to leave too, that
I might want to do theatre? No, 'cause
you don't want me along, do you? And
the reason has nothing to do with
No. It's all about that night, isn't
The premiere. I never pressed you
about it but god damn it, you're
gonna tell me right here and right
now what happened and where the hell
You want his name?
Dick is crumbling inside.
We watch it sink in. Confusion... self-pity... building
gradually to resentment and rage. He starts to throw a
tantrum. Hurling things around the room.
Frances just sits there.
My God... I think you're overplaying
this a bit...?
He hurls a pillow against the wall and rushes out.
Frances looks after him, then turns. She's now facing the
A mirror sits on top of the bureau. She looks into it. Doesn't
like her expression. Turns the mirror away.
INT. THEATRE LOBBY - NIGHT
A playbill in a theatre lobby reads: "Mt. Kisco Playhouse,
1937 Summer Season: 'THE PETRIFIED FOREST'." Among the names
listed is: "Frances Farmer, the 'Come And Get It' Girl.
Suddenly we HEAR an eruption of applause.
INT. THEATRE - AUDIENCE - NIGHT
TIGHT SHOT on two men: HAROLD CLURMAN -- a thoughtful
aristocratic man -- and CLIFFORD ODETS, who is taller,
slimmer, with black hair and intense dark eyes. Around them
we see (mostly HEAR) the AUDIENCE going crazy, leaping to
its feet, yelling "Bravo! Bravo!" Clurman and Odets sit
impassively. As the hurrahs die down and the audience files
out, the two men sit there. Finally Clurman turns to Odets.
Odets nods very slightly.
INT. DRESSING ROOM - NIGHT
Frances sits in the cramped room, listening intently to
Clurman. Occasionally she sneaks a glance at Odets, who is
pacing like some caged beast.
The Group is more than a theatre
company. It's the embodiment of an
ideal. Our approach allows the actor
to be an artist in the fullest sense,
a creative individual and an
instrument of change. You see --
Really, Mr. Clurman, you don't have
to sell me.
Forgive my indulgence. Seems we always
lecture those who are on time for
those who are tardy. The point is,
Mr. Odets here has written a wonderful
play. Most of the roles are cast,
but we haven't found our female
Who is she?
She's a tramp from Newark.
Forgive me, but I think you'd be
perfect for the part.
Odets is pacing furiously, seizing their attention. He stops,
looks at her, then resumes.
Miss Farmer, for me this is not a
play: it's an assault... a
seduction... a plea for understanding.
I think we live in a time when new
art works should shoot bullets...
and you make very attractive
He stops. Tentatively, almost boyishly, he smiles.
She returns it. She's charmed.
And what's the title of this seduc...
EXT. BELASCO THEATRE MARQUEE - NIGHT
It reads "Golden Boy". Crowds of people streaming out of the
lobby. A sign over the box office reads: "Tomorrow's
performances sold out."
Odets sits on the curb. Behind him the lights in the theatre
lobby flicker off. PEDESTRIANS stroll by: an odd mix of
affluent theatre crowd and 1930s bums.
Frances emerges from the theatre, sees him sitting there.
Sits beside him.
You wanted to talk?
Another nod. He's silent. He peers up the street. A GIRL,
16, selling pencils catches his eye.
You see that girl?
She looks like a waif: tough, vulnerable, pleading with a
WEALTHY COUPLE, following them down the street. A drama being
played out in the distance, out of earshot.
That's who my play is about.
Frances watches the girl.
That's me, Clifford.
I know, but I'm not seeing it. It's
there, Frances, the fire is there,
but it's not coming through. You're
INT. WORKING CLASS BAR - LATER
The same conversation continuing:
Yes, you win them, you bring them
into your heart, touch them, but you
don't set them on fire!
But I want to. I'm trying!
I need an incendiary! An arsonist!
Then show me! That's what I'm here
for, to learn, to grow!
Good. Then it's very simple. You
have to stop being afraid, Frances.
It's in you.
EXT. PLATFORM - SPANISH EMBASSY - DAY
Clurman is delivering a speech in the background as
PHOTOGRAPHERS snap pictures. Behind them on the platform
Frances and Odets continue their conversation in whispers:
I can see it. You just have to let
it out. Trust it. No one will quash
you here, but it's still a fight, a
struggle! Being true to your art,
being honest, is always a struggle!
We now HEAR Clurman's speech. The initial words below were
background to the above. What we HEAR now is underlined:
...Not only an artist, but an
instrument of change. We must look
to the world around us, not content
to observe, but to take an active
hand in redressing its wrongs. We
will not stand idly by as Fascist
bombs obliterate democracy. We
contribute our profits, for if fascism
is not stopped in Spain, it will
spread across Europe, jeopardizing
the struggle of civilized man to
(presenting check to
The artist, to be vital, must be a
I'm not afraid of struggle, Clifford.
Yes you are. We all are. The first
step is to acknowledge our fear.
EXT. NEW YORK CITY STREETS - NIGHT
They're walking. The conversation continues.
Face it! Confess it! You're weak!
You don't want to show your whole
soul -- ugly, mis-shapen, and pitiful --
you don't want to show it --
God damn it, Clifford, will you shut
up! I tell you, I want to give these
things! I want to give them to the
audience, and I can give them, I
will give them, so shut up!
She is seething. Gorgeous. Alive.
He smiles, watching her.
Good, good. Give them that.
As she feels the anger coursing through her body she realizes
what he's talking about. She looks at him, still breathing
heavily. Gradually her face turns toward a smile.
He reaches out and, with exquisite tenderness, kisses her.
INT. ODETS' APARTMENT - NIGHT
Later. They enter slightly drunk, laughing. He takes her
She's looking at the apartment. He sees her. A dark thought
flickers across his face, and he breaks into an exaggerated
Oh my God! Frances, I'm such a cad.
I can't go through with this. My
wife is in Europe, but this is her
her bedroom. I can't ask you to...
Oh well. I guess I better leave then.
She starts to put on her coat. He watches her.
Okay, but come here first.
(Leading her down
Come here. I want to show you
He opens the bedroom door.
INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT
The bed is drawn back, and the sheets are sprinkled with
Frances' eyes are large.
The kiss is very hungry now.
INT. BEBE'S PANELLED OFFICE - HOLLYWOOD - DAY
Bebe's huge desk. Variety Headline: "ACTRESS FIGHTS FASCISM!"
Next to the newspaper are a dozen pencils which Bebe is lining
up precisely parallel. His expression is totally obsessive,
Behind him a woman (TORA) is cutting his hair. A STUDIO LAWYER
And on top of her political
activities, now she's got a lawyer.
She wants out of her contract, Mr.
Bebe. She says she's through with
I'm sure it wasn't me, it wasn't
Excuse me, sir?
I don't know who she fucked to get
where she is, but I don't think it
Tora is massaging the back of Bebe's neck. He's oblivious.
Well... you could always dump her,
Mr. Bebe. Teach her a lesson. There
are a million beautiful girls out
there who don't give a damn about
That's not the point. Frances Farmer
has the world by the tit because of
this studio, and now she thinks she
can waltz off without a thank you.
No. No, that young lady has a
contract, and she's going to honor
Oh. I mean, good.
I think it's time to take the gloves
(scowls, speaks into
Get me some reporters.
Particularly Louella Parsons!
During this conversation, Bebe has been drawing on the
Variety. We now see his work. Beneath the headline was a
photo of Frances, on whom Bebe has drawn a mustache.
EXT. BELASCO THEATRE - NIGHT
The marquee for "Golden Boy" reads "Held Over". USHERS are
opening the glass doors from the empty lobby onto the street.
We HEAR thunderous applause from the inside.
EXT. BACKSTAGE DOOR - ALLEY - NIGHT
Frances emerges from the stage door to a throng of AUTOGRAPH
SEEKERS. She smiles tiredly, but good-naturedly complies. A
little ways back stands a boyish YOUNG MAN holding a single
red carnation. When the Autograph-seekers are satisfied and
all but a few have trailed away, the Young Man steps forward.
Miss Farmer... I've never done this
before... but... I had to tell ya'
He shyly hands her the flower.
Thank you very much. I'm glad you
liked the play.
She smiles and begins to walk away. The Young Man follows
I'm really sad it's closing. Now
what am I gonna do on Tuesday nights?
You can always come see it in London.
Only if you were in it. Are you?
I wouldn't miss it.
Boy, I'd love to... but I'm going to
Are you an actor?
Hell yes!... well, okay, I'm still
in school. But as soon as I
graduate... California, here I come!
(after a pause)
Are you really serious? About acting?
Then don't go to Hollywood.
I'm telling you straight, if you
have any serious ambitions, stay
clear of the place. It'll crush you.
You sound as if you hate it.
No, I don't hate it.
Again she walks on. He follows.
Aren't you ever going back?
...Not if I can help it.
Gosh! You'll break a lot of hearts.
(after a pause)
What about your husband?
Frances stops walking, her eyes shoot to the Young Man's
Will you be getting back together?
When you quit Hollywood, I mean.
What is this?
The Young Man suddenly seems much older, and there is no
sign of the awkward boyishness.
Is it true you're getting a divorce?
Why, you... you little bastard!
The Young Man grins.
Thanks for our chat, Miss Farmer. Be
He begins to walk away.
Just one minute...
You're wasting your time, lady.
Nothing's off the record with me.
He is gone.
INT. WORKING CLASS BAR - NIGHT
Odets sits at a table in back, drinking and writing in a
notebook. Frances comes up to him.
He smiles, draws her to him for a hug.
How'd it go?
She hesitates, still affected by the incident outside the
'But how do I know you love me?'
Your big speech?
'How do I know it's true? You'll get
to be the champ. They'll all want
you, all the girls! But I don't care.
I've been undersea a long time. When
they'd put their hands on me I used
to say, "This isn't it! This isn't
what I mean!" It's been a mysterious
world for me! But Joe, I think you're
it! I don't know why, I think you're
it. Take me home with you.'
I already have.
She nods, turns her back to him.
How's it sound?
The speech? Real good.
You think I got it?
You got it.
Yeah. Yeah, tonight I think I got
She is crying.
INT. ODETS' APARTMENT - DAY
Frances comes in the front door with a bag of groceries,
removes her key. Walks into the living room, stops short.
Clurman is sitting on the couch, a bottle and two glasses in
front of him.
He's not here.
He pours. She drinks hers, watching him.
I hear you're meeting with the studio
lawyers to get out of your contract.
That's right. I don't want them
breathing down my neck while we're
Well... well, you see, that's the
point. You won't be opening in London.
Frances looks like she's been punched in the stomach.
You don't think I'm good enough?
What?! Good Lord no, it's just...
It's money. We needed backing and...
well, we found it.
A rich actress.
Yes. That's the deal. She plays Lorna.
But... but wait a minute. We're
supposed to be different, right?
Clifford says... This theatre is
supposed to be different! And this
play... this play is all about what
greed and money do to people!
I know, but --
(over his line)
What does Clifford say?
Right now we have to be practical.
Does Clifford even know?
(off his silence)
You didn't tell him, did you?
I'm gonna tell him. Where is he?
He knows, Frances.
She collapses back into her seat. Her head is swirling.
He approved it.
She's glaring at him. He hands her a letter.
I'm very sorry, but... well, Hollywood
wants you back, right?
Her eyes fill with rage. She hurls her drink in his face.
He stands and, with as much dignity as he can muster, leaves.
Frances is shaking. She rips open the letter he gave her.
Stares at it in horror...
INT. BOOKIE JOINT - DAY
Plain room. A few tables with phones, men on the phones
writing down numbers. Behind them are blackboards with horses'
names and prices. Off to one side Harry is conferring with
Of course it can be done, "Mr. Jones,"
but it's how you do it. There's a
way to pay off L.A. cops and a way
to get yourself arrested. First you
gotta know who to approach --
A Man at one of the phones looks up, calls.
MAN AT PHONE
You Harry York?
Harry nods, startled. The Man at the table holds up the phone
and goes to his next call.
Harry takes the phone.
INT. ODETS' APARTMENT - NEW YORK - NIGHT
Frances on the phone. A half-packed bag lies on the bed. A
bottle and glass sit beside her. She's been crying and
Harry? Harry, where are you?!
Jesus, Frances, how'd you find me?
I called your god-damned office! I
want you to kill him, Harry. You'll
do that for me, won't you? I loved
him, I loved him... that bastard.
INT. BOOKIE'S OFFICE - NIGHT
Calm down, Frances.
Don't tell me what to do, just give
me his head on a platter!
INT. ODETS' APARTMENT - NEW YORK - NIGHT
Frances unfolds the crumpled letter Clurman gave her.
Two lines! Two fucking lines! 'My
wife returns from Europe tomorrow. I
can't see you any more.' Just like
Harry, I hate being in love. I don't
ever want to be in love again. I
just hate it!
INT. BOOKIE JOINT - DAY
With the patter of the bookie taking bets beside him, Harry
listens to Frances' sobs.
I know, Frances... I know.
He HEARS a CLICK on the other end. He hangs up and heaves a
long slow sigh.
INT. SOUND STAGE - FLOWING GOLD SET - DAY
Frances, in a pair of overalls, falls face down into mud.
INT. SOUND STAGE - FLOWING GOLD SET - LATER
We SEE the slate: 'Flowing Gold', Scene 31A, Take 11... then
the same action is repeated from a slightly different angle.
Next to her is an old car, its wheels mired in mud.
INT. SOUND STAGE - FLOWING GOLD SET - LATER
Slate: Take 12. She falls again, this time splattering mud
all over her face and hair. She lies still for a moment,
gritting her teeth.
Sitting comfortably in a nearby director's chair is a DIRECTOR
reading Daily Variety. The headline reads: "STUDIO WINS FARMER
WAR ON HOLLYWOOD." Behind the Director, off to one side,
stands Bebe. The A.D. tugs on the Director's sleeve:
How was that?
Good, good. One more time.
For God's sake... why?
Because we want to get it perfect...
just the right combination of fury
and confusion. You can understand
that, can't you, Miss Farmer? We're
serious artists here, right? Right.
The Director glances toward Bebe, who nods with satisfaction.
Frances watches this interaction. She hesitates, then
approaches Bebe. She wipes some mud from her face and drops
it at her feet.
Look, Mr. Bebe, you can hold me to
my contract, but you can't break me.
I'm back, and I'm gonna make the
best of it.
I'd like nothing better.
She turns and walks, with an air of pride, to her wardrobe
EXT. ELEGANT BEACHFRONT HOME - NIGHT
Lights everywhere. Cars line the driveway. We HEAR the SOUND
of a large party.
A car pulls up. BOB BARNES gets out, goes around to open the
door for Frances. She's exhausted. She doesn't move.
Well... come on.
This is a mistake. No. This is a
Come on, it's just what you need!
Let everyone see you. Talk to them,
live it up!
But we've been at it since six this
morning. At least you could've let
me go home and change.
Look, Frances, I didn't want this
job. Think I'm crazy? But you begged
me: improve your image. So please...
lemme try, huh?
You're right. I'm sorry.
Okay, let's go get 'em.
(taking pills from
Here, take a few of these. Studio
makes 'em in the basement. They keep
the fat off.
So not only am I a troublesome bitch,
but I'm fat too?
Come on. They make you feel nice and
She nods, takes a few. They head for the door.
INT. HOUSE - ENTRY HALL - NIGHT
The DOORBELL CHIMES. The hostess, CONNIE, a pleasant-looking
woman, answers the door.
Hi! Bob Barnes! Looks like a swell
As they embrace, Frances looks around with trepidation:
God, who's here?
The usual vermin, I'm afraid.
Barnes tries to pull Frances inside.
She sees a flurry of waiting faces. Everyone's watching her.
Get me a drink.
Barnes nods, concerned, and crosses to the bar.
Some people seem amused, some curious, some scornful. The
Director from the mud scene nods to her. Connie is at her
side for support. A voice from somewhere pierces the chatter:
So nice to have you back, Frances.
As Barnes returns with her drink, she turns to Connie:
Connie, can I use the upstairs
INT. UPSTAIRS BATHROOM - NIGHT
Later. Frances lies in a bubblebath, relaxing, sipping her
drink. She obviously feels a lot better. Someone knocks.
A FAT MAN ENTERS, stares at her.
He is dumbfounded. He slowly retreats into the hall.
INT. DOWNSTAIRS LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
Barnes is talking to a Young Man whom we recognize as the
reporter who tricked Frances in New York.
You wouldn't believe the offers!
Just piling in. I mean piling. Some
of the best scripts I've read in
Yes? My employer will be glad to
Louella? Is she here?
How could you miss her?
He nods toward a hard-faced OLDER WOMAN surrounded by
Louella's here and I'm talking to
INT. UPSTAIRS BEDROOM - NIGHT
We SEE the open door to the bathroom. Frances, with a towel
around her, is going through Connie's closet. Barnes KNOCKS.
(enters, sees her)
Refill my drink, will you, Bob?
What're you doing?
Putting on my armor.
Come on, Frances. Louella Parsons is
here. She wants to talk to you, help
Louella... didn't she call me a
spoiled little bitch?
Come on, she's an important columnist!
What's the matter? I thought you
wanted these people to forgive you.
'Forgive'...? For What?
I'm sorry... that was an unfortunate
choice of words.
Frances pulls down a dress and inspects it.
You're not kidding.
Get me a refill, Bob. I'll be down
in a minute.
He nods and retreats out the door.
INT. DOWNSTAIRS LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
Everyone chattering away... then hushing slightly. Heads
turn: Frances is descending the stairway in one of Connie's
dresses. She looks absolutely radiant... like some kind of
Barnes, looking very pleased at her appearance and the others'
reaction, hands her the drink.
Then the Young Reporter steps forward.
(his callow youth act)
Gee, awful good to see ya again,
Frances bristles. Barnes looks on nervously: It's all becoming
My employer would like to know
something very important: is it true
your friend Clifford sleeps in the
Frances is broiling. She stares at him. Under her steady
gaze, the snide smile gradually fades from his face.
You seem like an intelligent young
Can't you find a more dignified way
to make a living?
He blanches. This hits home. Frances turns on her heel and
EXT. HOUSE - NIGHT
Frances rushes out, followed by Barnes and a few curious
partygoers. She is very upset. Tight. Holding it in. Barnes
pleads with her, tries to stop her, but she leaps in the car
and speeds off, spewing gravel over him. The partygoers salute
her with their drinks.
EXT. A CLIFFSIDE COCKTAIL LOUNGE - NIGHT
In the pale moonlight we SEE the dim outline of a poster
tacked to the outside wall. The highway disappears down to
the sea glittering dully in the distance. We HEAR the RISING
SOUND of an approaching car. Its headlights crest the hill,
illuminating the poster, showing a woman driving an open
car, seated beside the outline of a familiar mustached figure.
The poster reads, "When You're Riding Alone, You're Riding
with Hitler." The lights grow brighter, almost blinding. The
car, accelerating furiously, flashes by. Then we HEAR a
motorcycle start up. It emerges from the blackness and speeds
off in pursuit. A roadsign reads: "Dimout Zone."
Frances drives fast, tears running her face.
The MOTORCYCLE COP pulls up alongside and shouts, "Pull over!"
She hesitates. He waves insistently. Gradually she slows. He
gets off his bike and walks over, preparing the usual lecture.
He leans over the car and sees Frances, her hair wild and
Hey, where's the fire, sister?
In my eyes, officer.
Cool off, beautiful. Didn't you see
the sign says "Dimout Zone?"
(switching off her
There's a war on, you know?
Come on. You're seriously trying to
tell me the Japs can't find Los
Angeles without my headlights?
I didn't make the law, lady. I just
She switches her headlights back on.
God, you bore me.
She starts the car. The Cop, angry now, lunges in and grabs
Don't touch me!
She leaps out of the car. The Cop turns off the car lights.
As Frances passes his motorcycle, she switches on its lights.
He runs after her, turning off the motorcycle lights on the
way. When he catches her, he grabs her arm. She struggles,
grabs the flashlight from his belt. She switches it on and
holds it high, its beam spearing wildly out to sea. He lunges
for it, knocks her down. They struggle. He rolls on top of
her, pinning both her arms with one hand... trying to handcuff
her. She writhes, knees him in the balls. She crawls away,
desperately clawing at loose stones. The Cop, angry now,
hurls her down again and manages to get the cuffs on. As
they dig into her wrists, she tries to bite him. The Cop,
winded from the battle, yanks her to her feet and drags her,
kicking and screaming, to his motorcycle. He pulls out his
Santa Monica, this is motor six-sixty-
six. I got a live one here.
EXT. BEACH HOUSE BALCONY - DAY
CLOSE ON front page of the Los Angeles Times, October 1942.
The headlines read: "24 Jap Ships Sunk", "Errol Flynn Sex
Trial Delayed", "Frances Farmer Arrested on Drunk Driving
Charge -- Actress Gets $250 Fine and Six Months Probation."
CAMERA PULLS BACK to show several newspapers spread out on
the balcony of Frances' beach house. As the papers ruffle in
the wind, a little kitten swipes at them.
Frances sits in the sun writing in her diary, the same one
we saw at the opening of the film. A man's shoes COME INTO
Got any ginger beer?
She turns, surprised and pleased to see him.
Take a look.
He walks off into the kitchen. She puts her diary away.
How the hell do you find me anyway?
No ginger beer. What's this red stuff?
What's left of my blood.
Think I'll have a glass.
Help yourself. Everyone else has.
Harry returns, sipping the drink.
Nice joint. Can you afford it?
Nope. The studio pays. Thank you,
For not chopping off his head and
serving it to me on a platter.
Well, I would have, you know? I just
didn't know how to cook it.
Six months' probation...? You gotta
learn when to do battle, Farmer.
You're not going to win many bouts
with 200 pound cops.
I took the early rounds.
I don't know. It hurts, Harry. Some
things, no matter what you do with
them, they just hurt.
So you drink, and you fight with a
Yeah, and you look at people and you
wonder who the hell they are, what's
going on inside their heads. Sometimes
you can hear it, like a buzzing, the
things that happen in their heads.
And you wonder: does anybody ever
love anybody, really?
I gotta get outta here. I gotta get
out of this town.
We see a thought come to him.
Hey look, I got some business down
in San Diego. Whattaya say you come
with me, stay a few days?
No, Harry, I can't --
INT. SAN DIEGO BAR - NIGHT
Waterfront bar, full of SAILORS, WHORES, and HEAVY DRINKERS.
Hanging over the bar is San Diego paraphernalia.
Frances and Harry sit at a table. Heavy boozing has led to
You know... when I started acting,
you know what I wanted?
He grunts: what?
I just wanted to be part of
something... one thing, one play or
one movie, something that was really
fine... memorable. And I could say:
I did that, I made something good.
Well... to get a crack at something
good, you gotta earn it, you gotta
climb the ladder first. So you do,
you work hard, and all these people
behind you are pushing you up,
shouting you on. And then one day
you realize you are, you're at the
top... and there's nothing there.
And you look behind you and there's
no one below. You're just left there
all alone... swaying in the god-damned
In the background, we SEE a DRUNKEN SAILOR lurching toward
Well, like the man said: "You can
make a fresh start with your last
The Sailor trips and falls across their table, spilling beer
on Frances and knocking things over.
Hey, watch it.
Get away from me, you foul slime.
That's no way for a lady to talk.
Take a walk, pal.
Who said I was a lady?
Sorry I insulted you... bitch.
Ahhh, go eat a toilet seat.
The Sailor goes berserk, takes a swing at Frances. Harry
leaps in to protect her, starts to fight with the Sailor.
Frances joins in; she's not going to let anyone fight her
battles. The Sailor's BUDDY enters the fracas. Everyone's
getting hit. As the melee continues we:
EXT. FRANCES' BEACH HOUSE - DAY
A cab pulls up. Frances gets out. She looks weary and has a
bruise on her cheek. A car is parked in the driveway. She
frowns at it, shrugs, and carries her suitcase toward the
INT. BEACH HOUSE - DAY
She enters with her bags, then drops them, stunned. The house
is stripped bare. A MAN holding a measuring tape comes out
of the bedroom.
What happened? Who're you?
I live here.
You're Farmer? Oh... Well, look,
they took your stuff out. Moved it
to some hotel, I think.
I'm preparin' it for the next tenant,
he's coming in tomorrow.
Frances stares at him, dumbfounded.
SMASH CUT TO:
INT. HOTEL SUITE - DAY
Frances on the phone. Boxes spread out, their contents strewn
over the floor, tables, etc. Frances is going through various
piles, again and again, looking for something...
God damn it, god damn it...
Yes, I'll wait, I'm waiting...
I don't believe this. They can't do
this to me!
She takes a long drink, sifts through a pile, then throws it
on the bed in disgust. We HEAR a voice on the phone.
Barnes? It's my diary! They stole my
fucking diary! Find it, will you?
Find it! God damn it, that's my life!
She slams down the phone.
INT. STAGE - MOVIE SET - DAY
The crew is idle and the Director paces, muttering:
Never. Never again. I swear, I swear
I will never work with this broad --
Frances, looking pretty hung-over, enters blithely.
You're four hours late! It's insane!
I'd say I'm behaving as professionally
as anyone else in this town.
Where were you?!
Terribly, terribly sorry; I overslept.
What's the name of this fine
entertainment we're all so involved
The Director clenches his fists as though about to punch
(looking blearly at
Oh yes. "No Escape." That's it.
There's no escape.
She walks to her dressing room as the Director explodes anew.
INT. FRANCES' DRESSING ROOM - DAY
Small, cramped; not like the earlier one we saw. The
Hairdresser -- whom we recognize as Tora, the woman who cut
Bebe's hair -- stands waiting, holding her brushes and looking
vexed. Frances enters.
It's about time! You're not the star
on this show, y'know!
Frances sits. Tora begins brushing her hair, yanking Frances'
head back with each stroke. Building tension...
Of course, it's not up to me to say
anything. I'm just crew... Y'know,
you hair's so fine you'll lose it if
you're not careful. Wonder you all
don't, the things you do to
yourselves. In fact, I think you are
already... Fact, I think you better --
Frances cries out and twists around suddenly. Tora is thrown
back: stumbling... falling... hitting her jaw against a chair.
That's it! I'm not taking this any
more! I quit!
She storms out. Tora is left moaning, holding her jaw.
INT. STAGE - MOVIE SET - DAY
Frances marches across it. Everyone stares.
Goodbye!... goodbye!... goodbye!...
When she reaches the exit door, she turns and bows to them
INT. FRANCES' HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT
She's snoring in bed. Face down, spread-eagled. The light is
on. A whiskey bottle (three-quarters empty), a tumbler (three-
quarters full), and a bottle of pills sit on the night table.
The phone RINGS. She winces, groans, tries to open her eyes
then squeezes them together: hung over. Her arm flails out,
finds the light and turns it off.
The phone keeps RINGING. Her arm gropes for it.
A loud POUNDING at the door.
What the hell's going on here?
(we HEAR a dial tone)
The POUNDING at the door becomes violent. Someone's breaking
The door splinters.
Men stream into the room. Back-lit from the hall they look
like monsters, phantoms. They're carrying sticks.
Frances screams and runs naked into the bathroom.
Don't kill me! Don't kill me!
She slams the door on the advancing figures.
INT. BATHROOM - NIGHT
Frances leans her weight against the door.
Mama, help me, help me, Mama! Don't
let them kill me!
It's too much for her. She's shoved back, falling to the
floor. The door flies open revealing THREE LARGE COPS. Leering
at her. Frances clutches at the shower curtain, trying to
Get your clothes on.
You have no right! You have no fucking
right, you bastards! Get the hell
out of here --
Get your clothes on, lady --
You're under arrest.
INT. SANTA MONICA POLICE STATION - NIGHT
Frances is being led to the booking desk. All around her
Photographers snap her picture, and Reporters walk alongside
subjecting her to a never-ending barrage of questions. Frances
just smokes a cigarette and smiles grimly at the dour-faced
SERGEANT facing her.
I don't believe this! You jerks drag
me down here in the middle of the
night and you don't even know who
the hell I am!
The Photographers laugh.
Just put me down as a avg -- a vagrant
vagabond. Come on, this is a joke!
Assault and battery? I barely touched
Frances considers for a moment, then smiles matter-of-factly.
The Sergeant reddens. Frances laughs as the Photographers
snap their shots.
INT. WOMEN'S JAIL - CELL BLOCK - NIGHT
TWO MATRONS escort Frances to her cell. She shakes their
hands off her arms and enters. They slide the door shut.
Photographers press up to the bars. Frances calls after the
Hey! I'd like to leave a wake-up
call for say, ten? Hey! I'll have my
bread and water in bed!
Frances looks disgustedly at the Photographers and lies down
heavily on the cot.
Hey Frances! Why don't you comb your
...Take me the way I am.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Frances, looking disheveled, dazed, and over-tired from a
sleepless night in jail, stands alone before the JUDGE. Next
to the PROSECUTOR sits Tora, her jaw heavily bandaged, glaring
at Frances. The spectator's section is packed.
...Is that not true?
(under her breath)
Who's writing this guy's lines?
Answer the question! Have you driven
a car since you were placed on
No, I couldn't get my hands on one.
Have you reported to your Probation
Officer as directed?
I never saw him. Why didn't he show
Did you expect him to look you up?
Why, certainly. I wanted to get a
peek at his face...
Suppressed laughter ripples through the courtroom.
You're on your way to a contempt
citation, young lady.
That's fine with me...
(turning to spectators)
Get it? Fine. A fine! Hey c'mon,
c'mon, what is this, an audience or
Miss Farmer, is it true you fought
with the policeman who arrested you
Sure it's true. I was fighting for
my country as well as myself.
Miss Farmer, you were advised at the
last hearing that if you took one
drink of liquor or failed to be a
law-abiding citizen --
Frances moves closer to the bench.
Are you telling me you didn't have a
little rum in your pineapple juice
this morning? I can smell it from
here, Your Honor.
The courtroom erupts into surprised laughter.
Frances laughs triumphantly and spears the air with her
finger, pointing at the Judge.
It's the truth! I can smell it from
here -- you old hypocrite!
The laughter grows. The Judge bangs his gavel.
Miss Farmer! In light of your flagrant
disregard for the conditions of your
probation, coupled with the
unwarranted assault on the Plaintiff
here... I am forced to order you to
begin serving a sentence of 180 days
in the County Jail.
You are a deeply troubled young
lady... I only hope you change your
course before it's too late.
The Judge pounds his gavel. Frances is about to say something
when suddenly the realization of what's happening hits her.
The Judge is leaving the bench. A REPORTER runs out of the
Wait a minute... I haven't got a
The Judge ignores this.
What I want to know is do I have any
The Judge closes his chambers door behind him. Frances turns
slowly. The Matrons are coming toward her.
I want to make a phone call...
She lunges at the Matrons, trying to get past them.
I have a right to make a phone call!
INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE COURTROOM - A ROW OF PHONE BOOTHS - DAY
The Reporter is phoning in his story. The hallway is
(from his notes)
"The kleig-lighted road to fame and
fortune is strewn with heartbreak
and despair. Today film star Frances
Farmer, tarnished by alcohol and
drugs" -- 'm I going too fast for
In the next phone booth we SEE Harry listening to the
Reporter's spiel. He regards the confusion around him with
EXT. THE COURTROOM DOORS - DAY
They burst open. The Matrons and Two Cops come out carrying
Frances. Reporters and Photographers rush past her.
They're stealing my civil rights!
Help me! I'm being kidnapped! Oh
God, help me! Help me!
She suddenly sees the phone booths. Her eyes fill with tears,
her shoulders slump forward and her lower lip begins to
tremble. She no longer struggles.
(to a Matron)
Haven't you ever had a broken heart?
The Matron relaxes her grip and gives Frances a handkerchief.
Frances dabs at her eyes... wraps the kerchief around her
knuckles... and slugs the Matron in the jaw, sending her
sprawling. Frances runs to the phones.
Oh my God, she's loose!
Frances throws herself at the door of the booth. The Reporter
is delirious with joy: what a story!
She's attacking your correspondent!
Right here in the Court Building!
Good God, this bitch is crazy! Someone
Frances pounds at the door a few more times, then moves to
the next booth... into the arms of Harry.
Harry shakes his head. Before he can speak, Frances is grabbed
from behind and dragged toward the elevator.
I have a right! I have a right!
With what must surely be the final
act of madness, the curtain falls on
Frances Farmer's once promising
career. The crazed blonde who at
Harry opens the door to his booth. The Reporter looks up at
Hold it a second, Bub...
Harry says not a word, but punches the Reporter hard in the
face. The Reporter sags, out like a light. In the confusion,
no one has noticed a thing. Harry pulls the door shut.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Frances is sitting in a wooden chair. The venetian blinds
over the tall windows are almost completely closed. The room
is dim and terribly quiet. A WOMAN is murmuring something to
a kindly-looking JUDGE. Another MAN is standing beside her.
Frances can't quite make out the words.
...and we feel that this would be
...a difficult decision, but, I'm
sure, the proper one.
He nods to the other Man who, together with the Woman, turn
away from the bench. As they pass in front of one of the
tall windows, Frances recognizes the Woman. It is Alma Styles.
She feels an arm slip around her shoulders and she stiffens.
Her mother's face appears by hers.
It's alright now, little sister,
everything's going to be just fine.
Shhh, shhh. You're not going to jail,
Frances. The Judge has put you under
my care. I'll see you get the rest
You're taking me home!
Two other WOMEN appear at either side of Frances and Lillian.
Lillian tenderly takes her daughter's face in her hands.
First things first, little sister.
She kisses Frances on the forehead. Frances looks at the two
Women. They are smiling understandingly at Lillian. Frances
looks a little alarmed.
EXT. ENTRANCE DRIVE - DAY
A wood-panelled station wagon turns the corner of a tree-
lined road and heads up toward tall wrought-iron gates. On a
white-washed wall are black letters: "MEADOW WOOD CONVALESCENT
HOME". The Station wagon, a similar sign on its door, pulls
up. The gates swing slowly open, and it travels up a long
tree-lined driveway. As it goes by, we see Frances sitting
in the back seat between Lillian and one of the Women from
the previous scene.
The car heads up toward a large Spanish-style building set
back among some trees.
INT. A SMALL OFFICE - DAY
Frances sits in front of a desk nervously smoking a cigarette.
Lillian stands at a window looking out at a broad expanse of
well-manicured lawn ending at a row of oaks in the distance.
Why it's beautiful here! What a view!
Lillian smiles enthusiastically at Frances, who stares
accusingly back: she's not falling for that.
An awkward moment of silence. Lillian fidgets, doesn't know
what to say. She is rescued when the door opens and DR.
SYMINGTON (early 30s, glasses, white coat and ingratiating
smile) enters. He holds his right hand out to Frances.
Good afternoon, Miss Farmer. I'm Dr.
Frances stares at the proffered hand. Lillian steps in quickly
and takes it.
Good afternoon, Doctor.
The Doctor winks at Frances and puts a hand on Lillian's
I'm very pleased to meet you, Mrs.
Farmer. I'm sure we'll have more of
a chance to talk later. Right now I
think it's important that your
daughter have a chance to settle in.
Perhaps it would be best if you said
your goodbyes here.
He smiles pleasantly. Lillian is obviously very put off by
the idea. She looks at Frances who stares unseeingly out the
Oh. Well, I have some background
that you should probably know about
I have no doubt, Mrs. Farmer. If
you'll speak to the girl at the desk,
she'll arrange an appointment.
He goes to the door and opens it. Lillian is momentarily at
a loss, but she acquiesces. She bends down and tightly hugs
Frances, who pats her on the back a couple of times.
I'll be back real soon, little sister.
You be a good girl.
She waits for a reply and then, getting none, starts out the
(staring out window)
Lillian turns back expectantly.
...I want to go home, Mama.
Lillian looks to the Doctor, who nods sympathetically at
You'll see, little sister. Everything
will be fine. The doctors know best.
She goes out and down the hall. The Doctor closes the door.
I find these initial meetings to be
much easier without the concerned
relatives in attendance.
Am I supposed to say 'thank you'?
Thanks are hardly necessary.
Aw, shucks, ma'am. T'weren't nothin'.
I'm glad to see you haven't lost
your sense of humor.
It ain't for lack of trying.
So it seems. May we be serious for a
Why, Doctor! We've only just met!
He reddens ever so slightly and looks away.
I feel I've known you for a long
time... you see, I've followed your
career... you're a fascinating case...
I'm looking forward to resolving
Frances' face begins to set in hard planes.
Oh! Are you really?
Among persons such as yourself,
creative people under great stress,
erratic behavior is not at all
uncommon and certainly nothing to be
ashamed of. It's just that the
neuroses which fuel your talent can
also generate certain character
(can cripple your
ability to function...)
He stops as Frances rises and leans over his desk:
Do you expect me, for one moment, to
believe you have greater insight
into my personality than I do?
Please sit down...
You may discuss my predicament,
Doctor. You may discuss it with anyone
you like, but not with me. I'm not
interested. I can solve my problems
without recourse to a veternarian.
Besides, I don't want to be what you
want to make me.
And what's that?
All right. Will you please sit down
...Did you really say that?
Just a little joke, Miss Farmer.
This whole thing is a joke!
Stay calm, please.
No, you stay calm, Doctor! But you're
finding that difficult, aren't you?
Why, are you attracted to me? Perhaps
later, in some of our more intimate
sessions... after we know each other
a little better...
and you've torn my personality to
shreds, and I'm weeping and
then you'll really get your kicks,
won't you, "Doctor?"
I'll have someone show you to your
Oh, that's good, very professional.
In control. But the tiny beads of
sweat on your upper lip give you
Symington stares at her. With a careful, almost scientific
gesture he moves thumb and forefinger over his lip, then
rubs the two fingers together. Yes, there is sweat.
You really should get some rest now.
Nurse will meet you outside. Good
He pushes a button on his desk and reaches for a folder.
Frances hasn't moved. She gazes at him evenly.
Is there something else?
You didn't say 'Symington says'.
His eyes are very calm now, he smiles at her patronizingly.
INT. FRANCES' ROOM - DAY
Small, white, spartan and rather pleasant. Lillian is standing
by the window, testing the locks. She turns and goes to the
bed, fussing with the pillow, seeming very uncomfortable.
She pulls at the corners of the mattress.
The door opens and a tall, sullen-looking MATRON walks in.
Lillian doesn't pay much attention to her.
Not much on hospital corners, are
Something in her tone makes Lillian look up. The Matron closes
the door behind her and advances. Lillian assumes her full
INT. HALLWAY - DAY
Frances is walking with a NURSE. They pass a variety of other
patients, some of whom look old or beaten but few of whom
seem overtly crazy.
So this is the nuthouse...
The Nurse smiles confidentially at her.
Honey... take my word for it. This
is a resort.
They get to the door and HEAR Lillian's protesting voice:
You have no right!
They enter and SEE the Matron struggling to get Lillian's
coat away from her. Lillian pleads with Frances.
Tell them who I am! Tell them who I
Are you crazy? Unhand that woman!
That's Amelia Earhart!
Frances bursts out laughing. The Matron releases Lillian and
comes for Frances.
INT. FRANCES' ROOM - DAY CLOSE-UP OF A HYPODERMIC NEEDLE
A little fluid squirts out the tip.
But what is it?
CAMERA PULLS BACK TO REVEAL Frances strapped down on a white
cot. The Nurse is holding the syringe while a THIN NURSE and
an ATTENDANT stand by.
You've got to tell me what it is!
It's insulin. It throws your body
Frances looks at her suspiciously, uncertain whether to
believe this, and turns toward the Nurse with the hypodermic.
NURSE WITH HYPO
It's just vitamins.
This sounds more reasonable. Frances relaxes somewhat.
NURSE WITH HYPO
A, C, B-Complex, certain minerals...
Just stay relaxed... Good, now open
your mouth a sec.
Frances does. The Attendant jams a rubber bar between her
teeth. Frances squirms, fights. The Attendant holds the bar
in place. And the Nurse pushes the plunger on the hypo.
Frances goes rigid. Her eyes widen, her back arches. With a
loud hoarse cry she starts to convulse. The SCREEN BEGINS TO
FADE into bright white light. She is unconscious. The SCREEN
IS NOW BLANK.
EXT. COURTYARD - MEADOW WOOD - DAY
Frances sits beside Lillian on a bench. Other patients with
ground privileges wander aimlessly about.
There is an open carpet bag at Lillian's feet and, in her
lap, a bundle of letters and telegrams that she's showing to
Frances. Frances seems restless.
...and here's the one from Duluth. A
war widow with five children. She
works in a defense plant and she's
very worried about you. I answered
her that she shouldn't let worry
over you affect her vital work; and
that you'd be back on the silver
screen in no time.
She hands it to Frances, who lets it drop beside her on the
And here's one from nice Mr. Zeiss.
He says that...
Why are these all opened?
Well, they needed immediate answers,
Frances. It's good manners and good
sense. You shouldn't be bothering
yourself with these right now.
Then why did you bring them?
It's your fan mail, little sister.
(looking off, under
You kill me, Mama.
Frances sighs. She looks for something to divert her
INT. SYMINGTON'S OFFICE - DAY
Frances is alone in the room. The door is ajar. She's standing
over Symington's desk, which is empty except for a doodle
pad. The doodle she's looking at is extremely bizarre,
sadistic... After a moment, Symington ENTERS holding several
folders. Frances' manner changes very subtly.
...I'm sorry to keep you waiting,
the staff review ran over. Did you
enjoy your mother's visit?
Yes. It was very good to see her.
Really? Any problems?
Symington puts the folders in a drawer. All except Frances'.
Not at all. She brought me my fan
I had no idea there were so many
strangers concerned about me. But I
guess that's the best thing about
working in the movies. You make so
many friends. I want to go back and
show them that the faith they put in
me wasn't a mistake.
You're telling me you feel guilty.
No... What I mean is... I'm just
very excited by the prospect of
getting on with my life, that's all.
(after a pause)
Do you really believe your mother's
trying to kill you?
She told me you said, "Mama, you
want to kill me."
I never said... Oh look. That's just
a figure of speech. She said something
funny, and I said...
And you accused her of tampering
with your mail.
Oh for Christ's...
Frances is wrapping and unwrapping a handkerchief around her
knuckles. Looks a little crazy. Symington's watching it. She
I'm sorry. She misunderstood, that's
But you tell me you had a pleasant
visit and your mother says you were
sullen and uncommunicative. Whom do
you think I should believe?
Doctor, I hate to break this to you,
but my mother is a little batty.
Frances, you're still filled with
anxiety. You feel guilty and hostile
toward your family and friends.
Consequently, I didn't recommend
your release at the staff review.
Mental illness is an elusive thing,
and though I'm pleased you're feeling
more... capable, it's perhaps
unrealistic to expect you to be
completely cured after so short a
time. Don't you agree?
Frances stares at him. Stunned. Horrified.
I'm sure you'll see it my way in the
Dr. Symington, how big is your dick?
'Cause if it's long enough, which I
doubt, why don't you wrap it around
and fuck yourself in the ass!
Symington smiles patronizingly.
I want outta here, you understand?
I'm ready to get out! So you go back
there... you go back and you tell
them to let me out!
Frances, I'm warning you...
No, I'm warning you! Who do you think
you are, God? You bumble around with
(she knocks her folder
to the floor)
...and your pencils...
(she grabs some pencils
and throws them at
...and your god-damn buttons...
(she pounds on the
inter-com; a voice
says, 'Yes, Doctor?')
...all your badges of authority! But
you have no authority! You're nothing!
You're a zero!
She tears open the door. Two huge ORDERLIES are waiting.
Frances tries to barrel past, but they easily restrain her.
Symington sits forward, his hands smoothing his hair.
Frances smiles sarcastically at him:
They haul her away.
EXT. MEADOW WOOD CONVALESCENT HOME - DAY
A few PATIENTS stroll about, visiting with relatives. Frances
lies on a chaise lounge. She's wearing a robe and dark
glasses, a big hat, and she seems to be sleeping. THE CAMERA
APPROACHES. Her hair is a mess, her skin splotchy. And
something is moving: her hand... one finger on one hand is
moving in agitated little bursts. We realize she is not
sleeping at all...
Hi there. How 'bout a walk in the
She looks to one side and sees him. Frowns. Takes off her
glasses and runs her fingers nervously through her hair.
Oh my God, I look awful.
You've looked a whole lot better.
EXT. MEADOW WOOD GROUNDS - DAY
Frances and Harry walking in a relatively secluded area. She
glances around continuously... suspiciously.
They're doin' stuff to me, Harry.
Can you see it? You feel it? They're
putting stuff in my food or something,
my water, and they're using it to
put thoughts in my head. You
understand? They're trying to re-
arrange what's in my head, they're
trying to drive me crazy! Oh, Harry!
She breaks down and weeps on Harry's shoulder. Harry looks
I can't stay here anymore, you
understand? I can't, I can't. I gotta
get home. I gotta get somewhere else,
Harry nods, squeezes her arm firmly -- a warning -- as a
white-coated ATTENDANT APPROACHES. Frances straightens up.
Oh, Miss Farmer! Time for your bath,
Listen: to the left. Straight through
the trees and over the wall to your
left. My car is there.
The Attendant reaches them.
(as if to a child)
It's time for your bath!
Oh good. I love my baths.
Come along now.
Frances starts to move off with the Attendant. For an instant
Harry -- and we -- wonder if she really is crazy.
Frances! Did you hear what I said?
She turns. The Attendant turns. She smiles sweetly, madly.
Of course, Harry.
The Attendant is between her and Harry. We SEE her face turn
dark. She shoves the Attendant toward Harry and shouts:
Over the walls!
She runs. The Attendant staggers toward Harry, who knocks
him down with two punches. ANOTHER ATTENDANT runs up. Harry
whips out an icepick and brandishes it at them:
You want crazy? I'll show you crazy!
The Attendants hold their ground. Harry runs after Frances.
EXT. GROVE OF TREES - DAY
Frances and Harry crash through bushes, come to a high wall.
(offering to lift her)
Frances hugs him tightly, kisses him. He lifts her by the
waist, and she grabs the top of the wall and hauls herself
up. Harry joins her. We SEE, over the wall, a Lincoln Zephyr
waiting on a dirt road. Harry and Frances jump down as we
HEAR the Two Attendants burst through the underbrush and
haul themselves up. As their heads pop over the top of the
wall, they see the Lincoln disappearing down the road in a
cloud of dust...
INT. LINCOLN - DUSK - DAY
Harry, eyes bleary and shoulders hunched, tries to concentrate
on the road ahead. The RADIO DRONES quietly, a lazy saxophone
ballad. After a while, there's movement in the back seat and
Frances sits up. She yawns and stretches as Harry watches
her in the mirror.
That sure looks like fun...
(leaning over front
You know how long it's been since I
was behind the wheel?
Forget it, Frances. You're not
Have I told you how mean you're
Harry smiles. Frances climbs over the seat and starts to
fiddle with the radio.
Where are we, mean man?
Couple hours from Idaho. We'll cut
across to Montana. I've got friends
there with a ranch.
I should've known...
This is another one of your schemes
to get me off alone...
...Take advantage of me.
They pass a poster: "BUY WAR BONDS!" Frances stares at it.
I don't think I'd be much good in a
Whattaya think you're in now?
I don't know. Not a war exactly.
It's more a... a misapprehension
A misunderstanding, people taking
the wrong meaning from things. I
wasn't declaring war, Harry. I was
just saying my prayers.
Harry looks at her quizzically.
Harry, I have to go home. I have to
talk to Mama.
Frances, you're fulla drugs. You
don't know what you're saying. Who
do you think put you into Meadow
Wood? Your mother thinks you're crazy
and she'll keep on thinking it as
long as it suits her.
No, she just didn't want me going to
jail, that's all.
Yeah? She's a shark, Frances. I'm
not taking you there, and that's
She rubs his neck and his attitude seems to soften.
She looks at him fondly, thoughtfully.
You know something, Harry?
Aside from meanness, you're almost
perfect. There's only one other thing
wrong with you.
You can't drink.
SMASH CUT TO:
EXT. ROADHOUSE - NIGHT
The Lincoln is parked beside a few other cars.
INT. ROADHOUSE - NIGHT
Frances and Harry sit at a table cluttered with empty glasses.
The JUKEBOX PLAYS, a few COUPLES dance. Frances is gulping
down a tall Scotch.
Ohhh, that's lousy Scotch!
Hey! Another shot for the lady and a
double for me!
What a man!
Hey, you're a good quarter-horse,
kid, but you can't go a route of
(hoisting her glass)
No. To thoroughbreds.
He knocks back his drink.
A hand puts a nickel in, and we HEAR Bing Crosby singing
"Love Is So Terrific." We PAN across the dance floor, where
Harry and Frances are dancing.
Love is so terrific Such a funny
feeling Makes you want to cuddle And
Frances squeals with delight when she hears the song. She
holds Harry forcefully and starts to lead him around the
floor. Harry starts to sing along:
BING & HARRY
Makes you sentimental, Makes you
kinda gentle Ouch!
(Frances pinches Harry)
Around them an infection is spreading: all the women are
leading their men. For an instant it is magical, liberating...
She leans her head against his shoulder.
Why are you always leaving me, Harry?
You should stickaround sometimes.
Look out for me.
Look, Frances, I'm only gonna ask
this one time. I mean it. I swear
after this, I'll never ask again:
Will you marry me?
(after a long pause)
I know a thing or two about marriage.
You... you understand me more than
anyone, Harry... maybe even more
than Mama. But... you're too important
to me. I'd fail you. I don't know
how or why, but I would. And that's
a chance I just can't take. Do you
(a bitter smile)
Well... I'll act like I do until I
They are silent for a moment.
There's just one more thing.
Will you marry me?
She laughs happily. He joins her, but his seems a little
She leans her head on his shoulder and holds him tight. They
EXT. FARMER HOUSE - SEATTLE - DAY
The Lincoln, Harry at the wheel, drives up and stops. Harry
shakes his head.
It's not too late to keep going, up
to Vancouver? Be the smartest thing.
Thanks, Harry, really, but... I can't
explain it. She's my mother. She's
just... I can't give up on her that
You give up on her?
Yeah. It's just... something I gotta
do, I guess.
Frances, You're crazy.
I know. Don't tell anyone.
He laughs. We SEE Lillian come out onto the porch with
Anyway... if you need me...
I got your number, Mister Man.
She gets out, waves to him, and walks toward the house. Harry
drives off. As Frances reaches the top step, Lillian suddenly
opens her arms:
Welcome home, little sister.
INT. FARMER HOUSE - DAY
Frances and Lillian enter. On the sofa sits Alma Styles.
Alma and Lillian seem slightly furtive. Caught in the act.
Well, who have we here...?
Frances, you remember my lawyer,
Hello, Frances. You seem to be having
quite a time of it.
I called Alma because I think we'll
Frances, the doctors at Meadow Wood
have petitioned the court for your
return. Your mother has asked me to
intervene so you can stay here.
I swear I didn't know what they were
doing to you. I wouldn't have let
She bursts into tears. Frances takes her in her arms and
rocks her like a child.
It's okay, Mama. It's okay.
You realize, of course, your mother
is now your legal guardian. In the
eyes of the law, you no longer have
any rights as an adult. You're going
to have to hold your tongue and be
selective about whom you mix with.
That man who drove you here, for
You leave him out of this!
Frances, please don't...
Never mind. We won't have to worry
about him much longer.
EXT. LINCOLN - END OF FRANCES' STREET - DAY
Harry pulls up at a stop sign. He rubs his forehead wearily
as a car crosses the intersection. It stops dead in front of
him. Another pulls up alongside. Another behind. Harry thinks
about this. His hand slides down slowly under the seat. We
SEE the handle of his ice pick. Harry turns to smile at the
MAN in the next car. The Man flashes an FBI badge, points
How ya doin', Al?
You got the wrong guy. Name's Slocum.
No, it ain't. And it ain't Harry
Look, I'm tellin' you...
The FBI Man pulls the hammer back on the revolver. ANOTHER
MAN opens the passenger door.
I'd give you till ten, Al, but we
ain't got the time.
SMASH CUT TO:
INT. JUDGE'S CHAMBERS
Judge Hillier walking... out of the chamber and down a
corridor. His stride is long, his demeanor purposeful. The
corridor leads into a courtroom. Harry standing at attention.
We hear Hillier climb onto the bench and be introduced by
the court official. Harry stares up at the judge.
Alvin Hanson, a.k.a. Ronald Burns,
Thomas Slocum, Harry York... Mr.
Hanson, this warrant has been
outstanding for many years. Normally
that circumstance would prompt me
toward leniency, but the crime you
committed -- inciting to riot -- and
the cause you sought to promote -- a
worker's rebellion -- are such
anathemas to this court that I feel
compelled to mete out the full
sentence. I only wish it were longer.
Six months in the state penitentiary.
INT. FARMER HOUSE - DAY
Frances sits at the piano playing "You Are My Sunshine".
Lillian is lounging on the couch, leafing happily through
Frances, play 'Flow Gently Sweet
Frances' brows mesh.
Oh Mama, I'm so... tired of that
Please. I want you to. It would make
me so happy.
Frances sighs and begins to play it. Lillian scrunches down
and begins to hum along.
It's just a flow gently sweet Afton
day. Life has been so good to me.
Why, I have just about everything
one could wish... but I still have
so many blank pages in my scrapbook.
She smiles warmly at Frances. Frances abruptly stops playing.
I think I need a little air.
Nothing. I think I'll just go out
Where are you going?
For a walk, Mama. Just a walk.
She gets up and Lillian rouses herself.
How long will you be?
Frances goes down the hall for her coat. Lillian follows
I'll have lunch ready by one.
I'll be back.
At one. Promise?
Frances returns wearing the coat. Lillian half-blocking her
Say you promise.
I promise I'll... I promise, Mama.
Lillian nods, moves aside. As Frances heads for the door:
You know, the surest way to lose an
appetite, is to drink, little sister.
I don't want you drinking, Frances.
Lillian enters and re-establishes herself on the couch with
a happy smile. She begins to hum "Flow Gently Sweet Afton"
INT. FLEA-BAG HOTEL LOBBY - DAY
DERELICTS sleep on broken couches and armchairs. In a corner
by a pay phone Ernest Farmer sits at a rickety desk piled
high with briefs. Frances sits across from him. They've been
...So what do you think?
I don't know, honey. Your mother has
such big plans for you.
I know that, Dad, but --
What you have to understand, Francie,
is that she... well... she wanted so
much for herself too, and for me,
and she never really got to... The
only time I ever saw her happy was
if her name was in the papers... but
she could have been... if times were
different she could have been a
politician or... I don't know.
But Dad, I'm asking about me. What
do you think I should do?
(after a pause)
Well, Francie, sometimes after you
get your hands on something you want,
it just doesn't look the same. Then
you have to be real smart to know if
you should hold onto it because it's
all you've got... or just let it go.
This is the way of things, but I
guess you already know that.
Dad... whatever I decide, will it be
okay with you?
Frances rises from her chair, looking around the room to
hide her tears. Ernest rises too.
I'm sorry, I... I don't have a desk
in my room, and...
(it's not a proper
I don't care, Dad. I love you.
I love you too, Francie.
They look at each other across the desk for an uncomfortable
moment, then Frances slowly leaves. He looks sadly after
EXT. FLEA-BAG HOTEL - DAY
Frances exits and starts across the road. Ernest comes to
the window to watch her leave. It is raining and the water
on the glass distorts his view.
INT. FARMER HOUSE - FRANCES' ROOM - DAY
Lillian is straightening up Frances' room, rearranging things
to suit herself. She hears the door slam downstairs.
I'm back, Mama.
(coming into hall)
Oh Frances, do I have news for you!
Guess who --
Wait, Mama, wait. I have something
to tell you. I've decided... well...
I'm not going to make movies anymore.
I thought that's what I wanted, and
I went after it with all my soul,
the way you taught me, but I was
miserable, Mama, and it nearly killed
me. So now... now it's over. I want
a different kind of life, something...
simple. I want to live someplace
quiet and peaceful... in the country
maybe, and I'll have dogs and cats --
I feel so light suddenly, so clear
for the first time in... It's going
to be okay, Mama, I know it. And I
She goes to hug her mother, but Lillian has changed. Frances'
news has chilled her.
(coming down stairs)
Don't... talk crazy.
(entering living room)
They want you back! Your agent called
today! Don't you understand? He's
sending the scripts. He wants to fly
up here in a week with the publicity
people! Frances, you can't do this
to your fans! Why, they've been
praying for you all through this
nightmare. You can't turn your back
on them now! Look at this fan mail
I've been answering!
She points to a stack of letters on the table.
Haven't you heard what I said?
I told him to come up! I told him
you wanted to show them all that
there's nothing wrong with you any
more, that you're completely cured!
I'm not cured. I was never sick!
They had no business putting me in
there! My only responsibility is to
You... you selfish, selfish child.
At least talk to him, hear what he
has to say.
You want to throw it all away, is
that it? You had everything, little
sister. Beauty... a brilliant
career... a wonderful husband. You
were a movie star!
Mama, shut up!
And now you're throwing everything
away? You're gonna be a nobody!
Nobody! You know what that's like?!
You... You'd send me back, wouldn't
you? You would.
Frances grabs her coat.
Where are you going?
I'm going out!
You're not going anywhere!
Yes, I am, and you can't stop me!
You can't tell me what to do, mother.
I'm a grown woman, and I can decide
about my own life.
They're wrestling, Lillian trying to prevent her from leaving.
Don't you try and stop me. Don't you
She grabs Lillian's wrists and twists them, throws her back.
If you follow me, Mama, I swear I'll
fucking kill you!
Frances storms out. Lillian sits back in the chair, suddenly
looking very old. She massages her wrists...
That's it. You've done it now, little
INT. LARGE OFFICE - DAY
Dark. Blinds drawn. We SEE a single light with a green shade,
HEAR the soft coo of Lillian's voice. The CAMERA SHIFTS
gradually onto her earnest face.
All my life, I've tried to live up
to my parents' example. To have the
independence of mind and fortitude
of spirit that have made this country
great. I taught that to Frances:
Speak out. Aspire. Make something of
yourself, something --
(to be proud of)
Yes, yes, Mrs. Farmer --
Frances has always been a
DR. DOYLE, a psychiatrist, and the others are seated with
Judge Hillier around a table.
The point is: it's your opinion that
Frances is getting steadily worse?
Doyle fills in a line on the printed form before him.
And you feel you're unable to control
her any longer?
No... I mean, yes, Doctor.
Alma holds up Lillian's bruised wrists as evidence.
And the only course open to you is
to commit your daughter for a period
of time to a mental institution?
Well, Alma told me that...
Alma looks coolly at Lillian.
Hillier nods slightly, approvingly, toward Alma.
(closing his folder)
I believe that's all I need to know
about Miss Farmer.
I think in all future documents she
should be referred to as Mrs. R. H.
Her married name?
Yes. It's less recognizable. I'm
sure you'd prefer to keep unpleasant
publicity to a minimum.
Now. Can you tell us where we might
INT. DOWNTOWN SEATTLE BAR - NIGHT
It's late. Frances stands at the bar acting out a joke for a
small audience of devoted DRINKERS.
...Looking for a drink, and the town
is deserted, he can't understand it.
Finally he finds a bar, goes in --
the place is empty, bartender's
closing up. Salesman says, 'Gimme a
martini.' Bartender's real nervous,
he says, 'No, no, no, I gotta close.
Big Otis is coming to town.'
Behind them is a large window covered by a gauzy curtain. In
the street a police car cruises slowly past.
Salesman says, 'I don't care. I gotta
have a martini.' So the bartender
fixes him a martini real fast, grabs
his money, and runs out the back.
Salesman sits there sipping his
martini,... he's got the bar all to
himself... Then he hears it. This
big roaring in the street.
(stomping her feet)
Gigantic footsteps... coming closer.
We SEE the police car again... It stops out front.
Enormous hands reach in, grab the
swinging doors and rip them off their
hinges. This huge man stomps in.
Picks up a chair and hurls it over
the bar, smashing the mirror --
whiskey and glass flying everywhere.
TWO COPS appear at the window, looking in.
He turns to the salesman: 'What the
hell're you doing in here!' Salesman
says, 'I'm just drinking a martini.'
'Oh yeah?' the guy says. 'Well you
better get outa here! Big Otis is
coming to town!'
Everyone laughs. A long moment of enjoyment. Then Frances
turns, looks out the window and sees the cops.
INT. COURTROOM - DAY
Hillier behind the bench. Doyle sits at a table with Alma
Styles. A COURT RECORDER taps out his notes in an odd, jerky
style. (NOTE: This scene is INTERCUT, where appropriate,
with shots of FRANCES in a bare room, wearing a strait
...From her history, it's apparent
the patient suffers from a paranoid
reaction with pronounced egotism.
Her violent responses have recently
included aggression against her
mother. In view of the deep-seated
nature of her ailments and her failure
to respond satisfactorily to insulin
shock, it is my opinion she may
ultimately require permanent
Counsellor, as Guardian ad litem for
Mrs. Richardson, do you waive jury
Yes, your Honor.
She signs a paper which is passed to Hillier.
Having heard the testimony of a
legally qualified and reputable
physician... and being further
satisfied of the truth of all matters
set forth in the certificates of
said physician, I do hereby order
that the said Mrs. R. H. Richardson,
an insane person, be confined to the
Western State Hospital for the Insane
He bangs his gavel.
So ordered! Are the gentlemen from
EXT. STEILACOOM - DAY
Huge, dark-red brick buildings with barred windows, loom out
of the fog and trees. A van pulls up to the front entrance.
Two MEN get out, open the back doors and assist Frances out.
She is strapped into a strait-jacket. She yells and struggles
violently but a piercing SCREAM stops her. She looks up at
From a top floor window, a thin, white hand protrudes from
the bars and waves "hello".
INT. STEILACOOM HALLWAY - DAY
Frances is dragged kicking and screaming down the shiny
linoleum-covered hallway. There are many patients here,
talking to imaginary birds, laughing at unheard jokes. A few
of them notice Frances, most do not. The two Orderlies arrive
at a door and throw it open. A bare 6'×10' room is revealed
with a narrow cot and no windows. Frances is pushed inside
and the door locks shut with a resounding click.
INT. TREATMENT ROOM - DAY
A MEDICAL STUDENT wheels a small electrical machine up to a
table. On the table Frances is securely strapped down. TWO
DOCTORS grease Frances' temples and put two metal electrodes
on them. The electrodes are connected to the machine.
What's she getting, anyway?
Standard series to start.
Doctor #2 nods and jams a rubber bar into Frances' mouth.
The Medical Student steps forward.
Can I push the button on this one?
Doctor #1 shoots a silent query to Doctor #2.
The Medical Student pushes the button with great gravity.
Frances' body immediately begins to convulse. It seems as if
it will never stop.
INT. STEILACOOM - A WOMAN'S WARD - DAY
Beds three inches apart. Women patients lie on them in varying
stages of madness and decay. Some are bound to their beds
with coarse cloth strips. One bed is empty, the bonds chewed
through. We find Frances sitting on the floor staring at a
hissing radiator. Her lips are caked with blood. Her eyes
are glazed. She is dreaming. Or remembering...
FRANCES ACTING (HER MEMORY)
A scene from one of her movies or plays. Soundless. She looks
radiant, vivacious, alive...
INT. STEILACOOM - THE HYDRO-THERAPY ROOM - DAY
A NURSE ushers Frances and two ATTENDANTS into a sparse tiled
room with dilapidated plumbing and fungus growing between
the tiles. In the center are three steel baths with hammocks
suspended above them. The Attendants strap Frances into a
bath as Dr. Doyle enters.
Doctor, it may sound odd, but I
believe I've profited from my stay
here. It's just what I've needed, to
get away like this. But I'm
recuperated now. I've had lots of
time to think and I've made a few
decisions about my life. I'm ready
to get on with it.
I know you believe that.
I'm afraid not. You see, we observe
things that you're unaware of: signs,
indicators. Your problem cuts very
deep, Frances, and we have to get at
that deeper stuff so that when you
do get out, you'll really feel secure.
Does that make sense?
The Attendants lower her into the empty tub.
No. Cut this runaround, Doctor. I
Listen to yourself, Frances. The
resistance, the anger in your voice.
You... I'm sorry, forgive me. Doctor,
tell me honestly, what do I have to
do to get out of here?
Be patient, that's all. Take an
interest in your treatment and don't
dwell on your resentments. You'll be
yourself again, I assure you.
We'll talk more about this. I'll see
One question. If I'm not myself now,
just who do you think I am?
The Doctor smiles sympathetically.
As he turns to leave, Frances laughs triumphantly. The two
Attendants lower her into the bath and begin to fill it with
What the hell!
They shove a rubber bit between her teeth. She immediately
spits it out and defiantly starts to sing in order to keep
her teeth from chattering.
INT. STEILACOOM - DINING HALL - DAY
Everyone eating gruel. A parade of lunatics. The edge of
incipient violence is palpable. Frances eats listlessly.
Others are playing with their food, devouring it ravenously,
fondling each other. Suddenly a call starts up at the far
end of the hall. Other voices join in. At first we don't
understand it, but gradually the words become clear:
Come and get it! Come and get it!
Come and get it!
The whole hall joins in. The Nurses make no effort to stop
it. Others at Frances' table smile at her, try to push her
to her feet. When they succeed, the hall breaks into applause
and a new chaotic chant:
We want Frances! We want Frances!
The chant is quickly silenced by hushing sounds. Everyone is
watching Frances. She climbs up on her bench. Her eyes are
glazed, her face expressionless. This feels like some kind
of automatic behavior. She takes an exaggerated posture and
speaks in almost a whisper:
Come and get it...
The hall breaks into riotous applause, catcalls, stomping.
Frances climbs down from her bench. That was the entire
EXT. STEILACOOM - NIGHT
Two dark FIGURES move stealthily along the shadow of the
main building. A little ways ahead, a door opens, sending a
shaft of light across the ground. The two Men duck back into
the shadows. Five young SOLDIERS EXIT, paying off and waving
goodbye to one of the Orderlies. The door closes. They head
off down the road laughing and joking together.
The two Men emerge from the shadows and approach the door.
They try the handle. It opens. The first one in is Harry,
followed by the other Man carrying a rolled-up bundle.
INT. STEILACOOM - NIGHT
We SEE Harry and the other Man, now wearing a white Doctor's
coat, walking quickly down a dim hallway. They come to a
large door with a barred window. The Man fiddles with a
keyring and unlocks the door. They enter. We HEAR the door
lock behind them.
INT. WARD - NIGHT
Just inside the door the Doctor flicks on a flashlight and
they walk down the center of the room. The beam of light
sweeps over women PATIENTS in their cots, crammed side-by-
side. Some are asleep, others stare blankly at the ceiling.
A few smile invitingly at the two Men, whispering obscenities.
The light falls on a bedraggled woman hunched over in a corner
between the wall and a cot. It is Frances. Harry goes to
her, putting his arms around her. She is very heavily sedated.
Tears spring to Harry's eyes.
Frances, it's me, Harry?
...Touch me again and I'll kill you,
Watch out, Harry. Let me look her
Harry is on the verge of tears.
Oh, God! Let's get her out of here
tonight, right now! Let's take her
The hearing's tomorrow. If she gets
out legally, they can't come after
Look at her! She'll never pass that
sanity test tomorrow...
I'm taking care of that, Harry. Just
(pulling a hypodermic
from his pocket)
Reserpine. I guarantee you this'll
clear her head. She'll wake up feeling
smart and sailright through the
Harry holds her around the shoulders and straightens out her
arm. Frances starts to struggle and moan loudly.
Yeah... she knows about these. Shut
Harry glares at the Doctor, but puts a hand over her mouth
and the Doctor injects her. Her arm is covered with sores.
You'll be okay, honey. He's just
givin' you something to make you
think, so that tomorrow you can tell
'em what they want to hear, okay?
Tell 'em you were crazy as a loon
and they cured you and you're
The Doctor withdraws the hypo and massages her arm.
This stuff takes pretty quick. Let's
Please! Take me!
Other women in the ward cry out: "Take me! Take me!!"
Let's get out of here! I'll lose my
Frances, we gotta do it this way.
Just remember tomorrow, remember
what I told you. What're you gonna
I'm grateful... grateful.
WOMEN IN WARD
I'm grateful! I'm grateful!
I gotta go now.
INT. HALLWAY - NIGHT
The two Men come out and the Doctor quickly locks the door.
We're all square now, Harry. Right?
All square, Doc.
Good. 'Cause I don't want to see you
Frances' face appears at the tiny barred window. We can just
I love you, Harry. I love you.
I love you too, Frances.
Behind Frances we HEAR the Women screaming: "I love you,
Harry!" The Doctor takes Harry's arm and pulls him down the
INT. WARD - NIGHT
Frances turns to face the women in their cots. Collects
herself. Looks repentant. She is practicing tomorrow's speech.
I realize now that I was a very sick
WOMEN IN WARD
Sick! She's sick!
I couldn't relate to others in a
She's... not... normal...!
The others laugh. We realize that if Frances can handle this,
she can sail through it tomorrow. The catcalls gradually
diminish as she concludes her speech.
And I was not taking responsibility
for my actions. But now, thanks to
your treatment, I feel ready to face
myself, ready to resume the career
which I so single-handedly shattered.
I only hope... I hope I can make you
all proud of me. Thank you. Thank
you so much.
The room is silent now. A very odd moment. To their
astonishment, the other patients seem to believe her...
EXT. FARMER HOUSE - SUNNY DAY
The vegetable garden is overgrown, the paint peeling. The
house is in disrepair, but we can tell from the freshly-mowed
lawn that some effort has recently been made...
A car pulls up. Frances kisses Ernest on the cheek and gets
out. As he drives off, she walks into the yard and looks
around, heaves a sigh; she's home. Then Christmas lights
spring on over the porch. Lillian comes out grinning broadly,
followed by REPORTERS. Frances blanches.
INT. FARMER HOUSE - DAY
Frances sits on the couch next to Lillian. They're sipping
tea and answering questions. Frances is uncomfortable.
Of course, she hasn't anything
definite in mind.
No. No, it all depends on what offers
Who did your hair, Frances?
She touches it shyly. It's swept up in a continental style.
Well, I like to try different styles.
Sometimes if you're old-fashioned
enough, you find you're modern. Right,
What do you think of all this, Mrs.
It's a miracle. Just a miracle.
EXT. FARMER HOUSE - NIGHT
The porch light goes out. Shadows pass over the curtained
windows. Across the street a match flares. Harry is leaning
against a tree. He lights a cigarette and settles back to
INT. FARMER HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
Lillian walks from room to room turning off lights. Frances
is neatly stacking the dessert dishes on a tray. Very
domestic, out of character. She carries the tray into the
Oh, just leave those things for now.
No, Mama, I'll take care of it. I'll
wash them in the morning.
Lillian smiles warmly at her.
You know, little sister, I never
resented you for refusing to see me
in the... the hospital. I knew you
had to manage on your own before you
could come back.
Thank you for understanding, Mama.
Lillian links her arm with Frances' and they go upstairs
Little sister, I don't want you to
feel any rush to get back to work. I
want you to rest... for a while
I will, I promise.
They hug each other.
Good night, dear.
Lillian waits until Frances has shut her door before closing
EXT. FARMER HOUSE - NIGHT
The front door opens and Frances, suitcase in hand, slips
out onto the porch. She eases the door shut behind her,
tiptoes down the steps and, without looking back, starts
down the road.
EXT. STREET - NIGHT
Frances rounds the corner, then sees him: Harry, standing by
his car, smiling.
She approaches him tentatively.
This is it, kid. This is our chance.
When you got a chance, you better
Yeah. I don't know.
You don't need to screw around
anymore. You don't need Dwayne Steele
or Odets or your mother. You need
I know, but... There were so many
people in there, Harry. Every time I
turned around someone was pressing
against me... watching, looking over
my shoulder, touching me, grabbing,
sticking things into me. When I feel
somebody near me now... anybody...
my skin starts to crawl.
Long beat. She turns and stares at him sadly.
You can't change the things they did
to me, Harry. Only I can do that...
He nods slowly.
Been a lot of years, you know. A
long time waiting. For what? End up
feeling like a sap.
Oh please, Harry... don't even think
it. You're the only person who ever...
It's just... Can't you wait for me?
I don't know.
Yes you do. If you love me you can
wait, right? A month, six months,
whatever it takes.
Right. Except... time has a way of --
No, Harry, it's not time, it's us.
You and me. And I'm telling you now
that I'll come to you, okay? I'll
find you. I will.
I hope so, Frances.
They hug. Together for an instant. Then she shivers as if
the contact were too much.
He nods, looks at her.
I'll be seeing you, kid.
He turns and walks slowly to his car.
EXT. HIGHWAY - DAWN
Barren desert. The middle of nowhere. A lone male HITCHHIKER,
poor, stands at a crossroads. A car coming the wrong direction
raises dust along the highway. It slows, stops, and lets
Frances out. She is now dressed in jeans and a workshirt.
She has a heavy tan.
She glances across at the Hitchhiker and nods casually. He
responds in kind. A relaxed silence follows. Two strangers
passing. His voice, when he speaks, is gentle, calm:
It's always beautiful at this time.
And no people.
Where you goin'?
Wherever they're going, I'm going.
Yeah, I know what that's like...
Where you been?
Well, I was picking fruit with some
migrant workers until...
She stops. She sees now that the car heading toward her is a
cop car. She averts her face... then tries to hide her
What's the matter?
Frances sighs as the cop car speeds away.
They're looking for you, huh?
She's uncertain whether to trust him. Takes the plunge:
What'd you do?
You know, I've never been able to
figure that out.
He laughs. She shivers slightly, pulls her clothes around
her. He takes out a small flask and offers, no strings:
I've got a little whiskey here, warm
She smiles, truly grateful:
Then she sees a ball of dust nearing... a car on his side.
Wait. Maybe they'll pick you up.
The car stops. Its lights flashing. COPS jump out.
She does. She's pursued. The Hitchhiker makes an effort to
impede the Cops' progress, but is tossed aside. The Cops are
slowly, inevitably, gaining on her.
EXT. SMALL TOWN JAIL - DAY
Frances and Ernest walk out the door followed by a portly
SHERIFF. He watches them get in Ernest's car and drive off.
His expression says very clearly: I'm glad that's over with.
INT. CAR - DAY
Ernest's at the wheel, Frances at his side. Silence, then:
Dad...? Why don't you stop at a side
road and let me out?
Ernest writhes slightly with discomfort.
Francie, you know I can't do that.
Why? It's such a simple thing. You
just let me out and I disappear down
a road and you never have to see me
They'll just catch you again, Francie.
Besides, your mother will know.
We SEE them approaching a side road.
Dad, here! You don't have to stop,
just slow down. You can tell Mama I
jumped out. She knows that's the
kind of thing I'd do. She won't blame
But I gave her my word. Besides,
she's still your legal guardian. My
hands are tied.
They are nearer the side road.
You know where you're taking me. You
know what she'll do. Just give me a
minute, slow down, give me an instant
for once in your life, please?
They pass the side road. It disappears behind them. All the
life seems to drain from Frances.
I'll try to protect you, Francie. I
will, I'll talk to her. We'll have a
Frances buries her face in her hands.
Are you... are you hungry?
I pity us, Dad. I pity us both.
INT. FARMER HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - DAY
Lillian is sitting on the couch, waiting. We HEAR A CAR PULL
UP outside and stop. Doors slam. Steps come up the walk and
onto the porch. The door opens and Frances and Ernest enter.
Lillian rises to face her daughter.
Do I go right away or do I have time
to take a bath?
I was hoping for a kind word, little
You were hoping for a kind word?!
You're my mother! You're supposed to
nourish me! Support me!
Through the window we SEE a white van pull up outside.
No! All you've done is try to break
my spirit, try to turn me into you!
But I'm not you, mother, and I never
will be, and thank god for it!
That goes for you too! And frankly,
I don't know how, with the two of
you, I turned out as sane as I am --
(to the MEN IN WHITE
COATS who are at the
Wait right there, gentlemen, I'll be
with you in a minute... and believe
me, I don't want to stay here one
second longer than I have to!
But I've got to tell you, Lillian,
that one day before you die, you
will realize what you've done and
hang your head in shame. In shame!
But what --
(have I done?)
No! You're not talking now. You
listen. You can send me away, Lillian,
you can pretend I'm crazy and pretend
I'm still your little girl who can't
take care of herself, but one thing
you can't pretend anymore. You can't
pretend I love you because I don't.
I can't. Not after what you've done
to me. Because you see... I'm still
me... I'm trying real hard all this
time to be me... and you, 'little
sister', you haven't been any help
(walking out the door)
Okay, boys, I'm ready.
The way she goes out that door we know she's never coming
INT. STEILACOOM - VIOLENT WARD - NIGHT
The ward is a huge room packed with nearly naked women, their
hair cropped very short. The walls are corrugated tin nailed
to bare wood framing. The place looks like an enormous tool
shed. The SOUND OF GARBLED VOICES and SCREAMING never stops.
These are the forgotten ones... beyond hope. Everyone here
has lost any notion of what they might have once been. Their
faces are slack, only their eyes glow with an animal ferocity.
Some wander aimlessly about, unheeding of others who are
pushing, kicking and screaming at them. Many squat in the
dirt by the walls, mired in their own urine and excrement,
chanting wordlessly to themselves. Some appear lifeless,
their prone bodies shoved out of the way. Some women are
involved in violent sex with themselves or each other, some
in mindless fist-fights. In a far corner we SEE a group of
men in various military and medical uniforms, their backs to
us, facing the wall, grouped around something. We HEAR their
cheering and laughing and joking, slapping each other on the
We SLOWLY MOVE CLOSER and can see over their shoulders the
object of their hilarity. It's Frances, lying naked and spread-
eagled on the floor. Four hospital ATTENDANTS pin her arms
and legs. A SOLDIER, his pants down around his ankles, is
squirming violently on top of her. Frances' eyes are open
but glazed, her face turned away from her attacker. She is
passive and unresisting. She is reciting to herself, over
We shall hear the angels, we shall
see the whole sky all diamonds...
Two of the SOLDIERS, waiting their turn, are smoking
cigarettes and chatting idly.
...Best deal I ever made. Twenty
bucks to fuck a fuckin' movie star.
Yeah, it's worth it I guess.
What's she saying, anyway?
Who knows. She's crazy, ain't she?
Frances keeps reciting as one rapist gets off. The Soldiers
cheer as another quickly takes his place.
EXT. STEILACOOM - DAY
A heavy snow is falling. From the corrugated-tin Violent
Ward, a thin white hand protrudes from a narrow window to
catch a snowflake.
As it opens and closes, capturing individual flakes, a VOICE
BEGINS TO SING "You Are My Sunshine...". We recognize Frances'
voice, still surprisingly strong and steady.
INT. STEILACOOM - TREATMENT ROOM - DAY
TWO NURSES discuss Frances' condition as we SEE, background,
that she is getting electroshock treatments from a pair of
I don't know why they even bother.
She's had enough of this to knock
sense into a bull elephant.
I checked the files. This one holds
the record for shock treatments.
Four hundred seventeen and no end in
(indicating the doctors)
Yeah, well, you know doctors. They
sure hate to use that word.
INT. STEILACOOM - HOLDING WARD - DAY
Frances, barely conscious, lies strapped to a bed. Doyle and
an ORDERLY approach her. Doyle nods toward her as if to say:
that one. He and the Orderly unstrap her.
Harry? Oh Harry, I knew you'd come.
I love you, Harry. I love... Take me
We'll get you home, Frances.
Thank you, Harry.
She's untied. The Orderly helps her up onto a gurney.
She lies down. Doyle nods to the Orderly, who starts pushing
She is wheeled out and down:
Past other patients, doctors, etc. We see some of this from
her point of view.
She goes through two swinging doors, down another hall... at
the end of which a man opens a door. She is pushed onto a:
She is wheeled into a row... between two other patients. In
the background we HEAR a voice:
DR. HARLINGTON (O.S.)
One merely inserts the leucotome
beneath the eyelid and presses up
into the prefrontal lobe, manipulating
it so as to sever the nervous
connections between the thalamofrontal
radiation and the body of the brain.
The lights are bright, on her and the other patients. We
cannot see, but we sense, an audience watching.
DR. HARLINGTON (O.S.)
Because of the speed and simplicity
of the operation, I am able, as you
are seeing, to perform the procedure
on ten patients in less than a half
Frances stares up at a fan in the ceiling. It's moving round
and round. The voice drones on.
DR. HARLINGTON (O.S.)
The operation is completely painless
and can be performed without any
We now see vaguely that DR. HARLINGTON has moved to the
patient on the adjacent gurney.
We have always known that this form
of radical treatment was effective,
but until now it couldn't be applied
on a large scale. The old procedure
required a full day's work by a
surgical team to perform a single
operation. In the same time, working
alone, I can treat fifty.
Frances turns and stares mutely, without emotion, at what's
happening next to her: the leucotome (an ice-pick-like
instrument) is inserted into a woman's eye socket...
This procedure works best on patients
with extreme over-reactions to
emotional stimuli. It can also be
used as a last resort on those who
seem impervious to other forms of
The leucotome is then shoved up into the brain and twisted.
In plain language, my technique severs
the nerves which give emotional energy
to ideas. Along with the cure comes
a loss of affect... a kind of
Frances turns away and stares at the fan again. There is
something simple and pleasing about its rhythmic whirring...
...with diminished creativity and
imagination. Patients become like
good solid cake with no icing. But,
after all, it is their emotions and
imaginations that are disturbed.
We glimpse the leucotome being withdrawn.
These patients will soon be leaving
Harlington's face moves vaguely into Frances' view.
Lobotomy gets 'em home.
He moves directly over Frances, his pleasant face obscuring
the fan. As the leucotome descends, we:
EXT. FARMER HOUSE - DAY
Total disrepair: peeling paint, broken steps, fallen
shingles... This house is easing slowly back to nature...
INT. FARMER HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - DAY
Neglect is just as evident inside. Dust, faded rugs, torn
yellow curtains. Lillian sits on the couch staring out a
window. She has aged and looks tiny, frail, with no trace of
her old formidability. The scrapbook is open on her lap.
What was I saying? Oh yes, it was
the Communists that did it to Frances.
Ernest is hunched in a chair by the stone fireplace. FOUR
REPORTERS crouch on the floor, totally bored. Yesterday's
headlines are now old news.
They capture the mind by first
seducing the heart. I suppose I never
taught Frances to close her heart...
Two Reporters rise and edge toward the door.
Uh... excuse us, Mrs. Farmer. We're
going to have to... uh...
Yeah, I better pack it in too.
Pardon? Oh, would you like more
The last Reporter gets to his feet.
I think we've had enough. Thank you,
Mrs. Farmer. Goodbye.
He follows the others out. Lillian climbs wearily to her
feet and goes to the window, looks out. Ernest stares into
You know, Ernie, I think we should
have Frances' room repainted for
when she comes home. That'll brighten
Ernest looks at her wearily, as if she is stark raving mad.
He knows damn well Frances isn't coming home...
FADE IN ON: A TELEVISION SCREEN against a dark background
The show is "This Is Your Life". We SEE a smiling RALPH
EDWARDS, reading from a large black book. Next to him stands
Frances. She has aged dramatically, but is still a very
handsome woman. She seems uncomfortable.
...Dwayne Steele divorced you, and
from this point on, your story takes
a darker turn. Shunned by the
Hollywood you criticized so harshly,
alienated from your family and
friends, you turn your back on
professional commitments in New York,
and alcohol and drugs enter your
life. These are sad, desperate times
Throughout this, Frances' jaw works slowly back and forth,
not from anger, but in embarrassment and doubt.
...until finally your mother finds
it necessary to commit you to a state
mental institution. Were you mentally
...No, Ralph. I don't believe I ever
was sick. But when you're treated
like a patient long enough, you're
apt to act like one...
We MOVE AWAY from the screen to see that the TV set is in
the living room of a comfortable, tastefully furnished home.
On the couch in front of the set sits Harry York. He still
looks athletic, young for his age. Tears stream down his
Were you an alcoholic?
Were you a drug addict?
ON THE SCREEN Edwards has moved Frances over to a seating
area where various people from Frances' life are waiting,
smiling at her. We've never seen any of them before.
...and over 200 producers have been
invited to watch your appearance
here tonight... so who knows, Frances
Farmer, anything's possible on your
And since your friends tell me they
have to drive you everywhere, look
what we've got for you!
The curtains behind them open to reveal a car in a spotlight.
A brand new 1958 Edsel!
The audience applauds. Frances smiles guardedly.
Thank you, Ralph.
Thank you, Frances. And after the
show we're hosting a reception for
you and your friends at Hollywood's
own Roosevelt Hotel!
So, Frances Farmer, this is your
life. Good night. God bless you.
The audience applauds. Frances smiles wearily and accepts
EXT. ROOSEVELT HOTEL - HOLLYWOOD - DAY
A group of PEOPLE are coming down the front steps, Frances
among them. They all talk happily, Frances is silent but
Where shall we drop you, Frances?
No... no, someone's picking me up.
The people all excuse themselves, calling goodbye. Frances
waits by herself for a few moments, but soon begins to walk
away down the sidewalk.
She turns. Harry is leaning against the side of a building,
looking much as he did when they first met. But there is
very little light of recognition in Frances' eyes.
C'mere. I want to talk to you.
Oh. Why, Harry York. How nice to see
Harry is a little puzzled by her reaction.
How... how ya doin', Farmer?
Fine, thank you. Did you watch the
Sure I did, that's why I'm here.
How did I look?
(a glimmer, but she
does not pick up on
Well... you're looking well.
They are both silent a long moment.
I got a new car. Only it's red. Did
you know Mama died?
Yeah. Yeah, I heard about that.
Dad, too. I sold the house. I'm a
faceless sinner, Harry...
Why do you say that?
I'd ask you to take me home, but I'm
a faceless sinner.
...You smell good, Harry. Familiar,
you know? I'd ask you to take me
Harry is alarmed now.
(taking her by the
She angrily bares her teeth; then just as suddenly she relaxes
and becomes lucid.
Don't get mad at me, Harry. Please.
It's just... Some things happen for
She takes his hand as if to shake it.
Harry clasps hers tenderly.
She holds on like an old woman, stroking his hand. For an
instant she gets lost in time, just holding his hand. Then
she looks up.
It's going to be slow from now on.
Do you know what I mean, Harry?
I'm not sure.
But we're not going to stop, are we?
No, we're not.
It is as if she is able to express in words the last remnant
of her indomitable will... but the words bear no emotional
Goodbye, Harry. It was very good to
see you again.
Yes. Would you like me to walk a
little way with you?
That would be okay.
Just a little way.
He offers his arm. She takes it. All rather formal. They
stroll on together.
FADE TO BLACK: