"In writing fiction, the more fantastic the tale, the plainer the prose should be. Don't ask your readers to admire your words when you want them to believe your story." - Ben Bova [ more quotes ]

BARTON FINK

Screenplay

By

Ethan Coen & Joel Coen



FADE IN:

ON BARTON FINK

He is a bespectacled man in his thirties, hale but somewhat
bookish. He stands, tuxedoed, in the wings of a theater,
looking out at the stage, listening intently to end of a
performance.

In the shadows behind him an old stagehand leans against a
flat, expressionlessly smoking a cigarette, one hand on a
thick rope that hangs from the ceiling.

The voices of the performing actors echo in from the offscreen
stage:

ACTOR
I'm blowin' out of here, blowin' for
good. I'm kissin' it all goodbye,
these four stinkin' walls, the six
flights up, the el that roars by at
three A.M. like a castiron wind.
Kiss 'em goodbye for me, Maury!
I'll miss 'em – like hell I will!

ACTRESS
Dreaming again!

ACTOR
Not this time, Lil! I'm awake now,
awake for the first time in years.
Uncle Dave said it: Daylight is a
dream if you've lived with your eyes
closed. Well my eyes are open now! I
see that choir, and I know they're
dressed in rags! But we're part of
that choir, both of us – yeah, and
you, Maury, and Uncle Dave too!

MAURY
The sun's coming up, kid. They'll be
hawking the fish down on Fulton
Street.

ACTOR
Let 'em hawk. Let 'em sing their
hearts out.

MAURY
That's it, kid. Take that ruined
choir. Make it sing!

ACTOR
So long, Maury.

MAURY
So long.

We hear a door open and close, then approaching footsteps. A
tall, dark actor in a used tweed suit and carrying a beat-up
valise passes in front of Barton: From offscreen stage:

MAURY
We'll hear from that kid. And I don't
mean a postcard.

The actor sets the valise down and then stands waiting int
he shadows behind Barton.

An older man in work clothes – not wardrobe – passes in front
of Barton from the other direction, pauses at the edge of
the stage and cups his hands to his mouth.

OLDER MAN
FISH! FRESH FISH!

As the man walks back off the screen:

LILY
Let's spit on our hands and get to
work. It's late, Maury.

MAURY
Not any more Lil...

Barton mouths the last line in sync with the offscreen actor:

MAURY
...It's early.

With this the stagehand behind Barton furiously pulls the
rope hand-over-hand and we hear thunderous applause and shouts
of "Bravo!"

As the stagehand finishes bringing the curtain down, somewhat
muting the applause, the backstage actor trots out of frame
toward the stage.

The stagehand pulls on an adjacent rope, bringing the curtain
back up and unmuting the applause.

Barton Fink seems dazed. He has been joined by two other
men, both dressed in tuxedos, both beaming toward the stage.

BARTON'S POV

Looking across a tenement set at the backs of the cast as
the curtain rises on the enthusiastic house. The actors take
their bows and the cry of "Author, Author" goes up from the
crowd.

The actors turn to smile at Barton in the wings.

BARTON

He hesitates, unable to take it all in.

He is gently nudged toward the stage by the two tuxedoed
gentlemen.

As he exits toward the stage the applause is deafening.

TRACKING SHOT

Pushing a maitre 'd who looks back over his shoulder as he
leads the way through the restaurant.

MAITRE 'D
Your table is ready, Monsieur Fink...
several members of your party have
already arrived...

REVERSE

Pulling Barton

FINK
Is Garland Stanford here?

MAITRE 'D
He called to say he'd be a few minutes
late... Ah, here we are...

TRACKING IN

Toward a large semi-circular booth. Three guests, two me and
a woman in evening wear, are rising and beaming at Barton. A
fat middle-aged man, one of the tuxedoed gentlemen we saw
backstage, is moving out to let Barton slide in.

MAN
Barton, Barton, so glad you could
make it. You know Richard St.
Claire...

Barton nods and looks at the woman.

MAN
...and Poppy Carnahan. We're drinking
champagne, dear boy, in honor of the
occasion. Have you seen the Herald?

Barton looks sullenly at his champagne glass as the fat man
fills it.

BARTON
Not yet.

MAN
Well, I don't want to embarrass you
but Caven could hardly contain
himself. But more important, Richard
and Poppy here loved the play.

POPPY
Loved it! What power!

RICHARD
Yeah, it was a corker.

BARTON
Thanks, Richard, but I know for a
fact the only fish you've ever seen
were tacked to a the wall of the
yacht club.

RICHARD
Ouch!

MAN
Bravo! Nevertheless, we were all
devastated.

POPPY
Weeping! Copius tears! What did the
Herald say?

MAN
I happen to have it with me.

BARTON
Please Derek –

POPPY
Do read it, do!

DEREK
"Bare Ruined Choirs: Triumph of the
Common Man. The star of the Bare
Ruined Choirs was not seen on the
stage of the Belasco last night –
though the thespians involved all
acquitted themselves admirably. The
find of the evening was the author
of this drama about simple folk –
fish mongers, in fact – whose brute
struggle for existence cannot quite
quell their longing for something
higher. The playwright finds nobility
in the most squalid corners and poetry
in the most callused speech. A tough
new voice in the American theater
has arrived, and the owner of that
voice is named... Barton Fink."

BARTON
They'll be wrapping fish in it in
the morning so I guess it's not a
total waste.

POPPY
Cynic!

DEREK
Well we can enjoy your success,
Barton, even if you can't.

BARTON
Don't get me wrong – I'm glad it'll
do well for you, Derek.

DEREK
Don't worry about me, dear boy – I
want you to celebrate.

BARTON
All right, but I can't start listening
to the critics, and I can't kid myself
about my own work. A writer writes
from his gut, and his gut tells him
what's good and what's... merely
adequate.

POPPY
Well I don't pretend to be a critic,
but Lord, I have a gut, and it tells
me it was simply marvelous.

RICHARD
And a charming gut it is.

POPPY
You dog!

RICHARD
(baying)
Aaa-woooooooo!

Barton turns to look for the source of an insistent jingling.
We swish pan off him to find a busboy marching through the
restaurant displaying a page sign, bell attached, with
Barton's name on it.

TRACKING IN TOWARD A BAR

A distinguished fifty-year-old gentleman in evening clothes
is nursing a martini, watching Barton approach.

PULLING BARTON

As he draws near.

BARTON
I thought you were going to join us.
Jesus, Garland, you left me alone
with those people.

GARLAND
Don't panic, I'll join you in a
minute. What's you think of Richard
and Poppy?

Barton scowls

BARTON
The play was marvelous. She wept,
copiously. Millions of dollars and
no sense.

Garland smiles, then draws Barton close.

GARLAND
We have to talk a little business.
I've just been on the phone to Los
Angeles. Barton, Capitol Pictures
wants to put you under contract.
They've offered you a thousand dollars
a week. I think I can get them to go
as high as two.

BARTON
To do what?

GARLAND
What do you do far a living?

BARTON
I'm not sure anymore. I guess I try
to make a difference.

GARLAND
Fair enough. No pressure here, Barton,
because I respect you, but let me
point out a couple of things. One,
here you make a difference to five
hundred fifty people a night – if
the show sells out. Eighty five
million people go to the pictures
every week.

BARTON
To see pap.

GARLAND
Yes, generally, to see pap. However,
point number two: A brief tenure in
Hollywood could support you through
the writing of any number of plays.

BARTON
I don't know, Garland; my place is
here right now. I feel I'm on the
brink of success-

GARLAND
I'd say you're already enjoying some.

Barton leans earnestly forward.

BARTON
No, Garland, don't you see? Not the
kind of success where the critics
fawn over you or the producers like
Derek make a lot of money. No, a
real success – the success we've
been dreaming about – the creation
of a new, living theater of, about,
and for the common man! If I ran off
to Hollywood now I'd be making money,
going to parties, meeting the big
shots, sure, but I'd be cutting myself
off from the wellspring of that
success, from the common man.

He leans back and chuckles ruefully.

BARTON
...I guess I'm sprouting off again.
But I am certain of this, Garland:
I'm capable of more good work. Maybe
better work than I did in Choirs. It
just doesn't seem to me that Los
Angeles is the place to lead the
life of mind.

GARLAND
Okay Barton, you're the artist, I'm
just the ten percenter. You decide
what you want and I'll make it happen.
I'm only asking that your decision
be informed by a little realism – if
I can use that word and Hollywood in
the same breath.

Barton glumly lights a cigarette and gazes out across the
floor.

Garland studies him.

GARLAND
...Look, they love you, kid –
everybody does. You see Caven's review
in the Herald?

BARTON
No, what did it say?

GARLAND
Take my copy. You're the toast of
Broadway and you have the opportunity
to redeem that for a little cash –
strike that, a lot of cash.

Garland looks at Barton for a reaction, but gets none.

GARLAND
...The common man'll still be here
when you get back. What the hell,
they might even have one or two of
'em out in Hollywood.

Absently:

BARTON
...That's a rationalization, Garland.

Garland smiles gently.

GARLAND
Barton, it was a joke.

We hear a distant rumble. It builds slowly and we cut to:

A GREAT WAVE

Crushing against the Pacific shore.

The roar of the surf slips away as we dissolve to:

HOTEL LOBBY

A high wide shot from the front door, looking down across
wilting potted palms, brass cuspidors turning green, ratty
wing chairs; the fading decor is deco-gone-to-seed.

Amber light, afternoon turning to evening, slopes in from
behind us, washing the derelict lobby with golden highlights.

Barton Fink enters frame from beneath the camera and stops
in the middle foreground to look across the lobby.

We are framed on his back, his coat and hat. The lobby is
empty. There is a suspended beat as Barton takes it in.

Barton moves toward the front desk.

THE REVERSE

As Barton stops at the empty desk. He hits a small silver
bell next to the register. Its ring-out goes on and on without
losing volume.

After a long beat there is a dull scuffle of shoes on stairs.
Barton, puzzled, looks around the empty lobby, then down at
the floor behind the front desk.

A TRAP DOOR

It swings open and a young man in a faded maroon uniform,
holding a shoebrush and a shoe – not one of his own – climbs
up from the basement.

He closes the trap door, steps up to the desk and sticks his
finger out to touch the small silver bell, finally muting
it.

The lobby is now silent again.

CLERK
Welcome to the Hotel Earle. May I
help you, sir?

BARTON
I'm checking in. Barton Fink.

The clerk flips through cards on the desk.

CLERK
F-I-N-K. Fink, Barton. That must be
you, huh?

BARTON
Must be.

CLERK
Okay then, everything seems to be in
order. Everything seems to be in
order.

He is turning to a register around for Barton to sign.

CLERK
...Are you a tranz or a rez?

BARTON
Excuse me?

CLERK
Transient or resident?

BARTON
I don't know... I mean, I'll be here,
uh, indefinitely.

CLERK
Rez. That'll be twenty-five fifty a
week payable in advance. Checkout
time is twelve sharp, only you can
forget that on account you're a rez.
If you need anything, anything at
all, you dial zero on your personal
in-room telephone and talk to me. My
name is Chet.

BARTON
Well, I'm going to be working here,
mostly at night; I'm a writer. Do
you have room service?

CLERK
Kitchen closes at eight but I'm the
night clerk. I can always ring out
for sandwiches.

The clerk is scribbling something on the back of an index
card.

CLERK
...Though we provide privacy for the
residential guest, we are also a
full service hotel including
complimentary shoe shine. My name is
Chet.

He pushes a room key across the counter on top of the index
card.

Barton looks at the card.

On it: "CHET!" Barton looks back up at the clerk. They regard
each other for a beat.

CLERK
...Okay

BARTON
Huh?

The clerk.

CLERK
Okey-dokey, go ahead.

BARTON
What –

CLERK
Don't you wanna go to your room?!

Barton stares at him.

BARTON
...What number is it?

The clerk stares back.

CLERK
...Six-oh-five. I forgot to tell
you.

As Barton stoops to pick up his two small bags:

CLERK
...Those your only bags?

BARTON
The others are being sent.

The clerk leans over the desk to call after him:

CLERK
I'll keep an eye out for them. I'll
keep my eyes peeled, Mr. Fink.

Barton is walking to the elevator.

ELEVATOR

Barton enters and sets down his bags.

An aged man with white stubble, wearing a greasy maroon
uniform, sits on a stool facing the call panel. He does not
acknowledge Barton's presence.

After a beat:

BARTON
...Six, please.

The elevator man gets slowly to his feet. As he pushes the
door closed:

ELEVATOR MAN
Next stop: Six.

SIXTH-FLOOR HALLWAY

Barton walks slowly toward us, examining the numbers on the
doors.

The long, straight hallway is carpeted with an old stained
forest green carpet. The wallpaper shows faded yellowing
palm trees. Barton sticks his key in the lock of a door
midway down the hall.

HIS ROOM

As Barton enters.

The room is small and cheaply furnished. There is a lumpy
bed with a worn yellow coverlet, an old secretary table, and
a wooden luggage stand.

As Barton crosses the room we follow to reveal a sink and
wash basin, a house telephone on a rickety night stand, and
a window with yellowing sheers looking on an air shaft.

Barton throws his valise onto the bed where it sinks,
jittering. He shrugs off his jacket.

Pips of sweat stand out on Barton's brow. The room is hot.

He walks across the room, switches on an oscillating fan and
struggles to throw open the window. After he strains at it
for a moment, it slides open with a great wrenching sound.

Barton picks up his Underwood and places it on the secretary
table. He gives the machine a casually affectionate pat.

Next to the typewriter are a few sheets of house stationary:
"THE HOTEL EARLE: A DAY OR A LIFETIME."

We pan up to a picture in a cheap wooden frame on the wall
above the desk. A bathing beauty sits on the beach under a
cobalt blue sky. One hand shields her eyes from the sun as
she looks out at a crashing surf.

The sound of the surf mixes up.

BARTON

Looking at the picture

TRACKING IN ON THE PICTURE

The surf mixes up louder. We hear a gull cry.

The sound snaps off with the ring of a telephone.

THE HOUSE PHONE

On the nightstand next to the bed. With a groan of bedsprings
Barton sits into frame and picks up the telephone.

VOICE
How d'ya like your room!

BARTON
...Who is this?

VOICE
Chet!

BARTON
...Who?

VOICE
Chet! From downstairs!

Barton wearily rubs the bridge of his nose.

VOICE
...How d'ya like your room!

A PILLOW

As Barton's head drops down into frame against it.

He reaches over and turns off the bedside light.

He lies back and closes his eyes.

A long beat.

We hear a faint hum, growing louder.

Barton opens his eyes.

HIS POV

A naked, peeling ceiling. The hum – a mosquito, perhaps –
stops.

BARTON

His eyes move this way and that. After a silent beat, he
shuts them again.

After another silent beat, we hear – muffled, probably from
am adjacent room – a brief, dying laugh. It is sighing and
weary, like the end of a laughing fit, almost a sob.

Silence again.

We hear the rising mosquito hum.

FADE OUT

EXECUTIVE OFFICE

Barton Fink is ushered into a large, light office by an
obsequious middle- aged man in a sagging suit.

There are mosquito bites on Barton's face.

REVERSE

From behind a huge white desk, a burly man in an expensive
suit gets to his feet and strides across the room.

MAN
Is that him?! Barton Fink?! Lemme
put my arms around this guy!

He bear-hugs Barton.

MAN
...How the hell are ya? Good trip?

He separates without waiting for an answer.

MAN
My name is Jack Lipnik. I run this
dump. You know that – you read the
papers.

Lipnik is lumbering back to his desk.

MAN
Lou treating you all right? Got
everything you need? What the hell's
the matter with your face? What the
hell's the matter with his face,
Lou?

BARTON
It's not as bad as it looks; just a
mosquito in my room –

LIPNIK
Place okay?

To Lou:

LIPNIK
...Where did we put him?

BARTON
I'm at the Earle.

LIPNIK
Never heard of it. Let's move him to
the Grand, or the Wilshire, or hell,
he can stay at my place.

BARTON
Thanks, but I wanted a place that
was less...

LIPNIK
Less Hollywood? Sure, say it, it's
not a dirty word. Sat whatever the
hell you want. The writer is king
here at Capitol Pictures. You don't
believe me, take a look at your
paycheck at the end of every week –
that's what we think of the writer.
(to Lou)
...so what kind of pictures does he
like?

LOU
Mr. Fink hasn't given a preference,
Mr. Lipnik.

LIPNIK
How's about it, Bart?

BARTON
To be honest, I don't go to the
pictures much, Mr. Lipnik –

LIPNIK
That's okay, that's okay, that's
okay – that's just fine. You probably
just walked in here thinking that
was going to be a handicap, thinking
we wanted people who knew something
about the medium, maybe even thinking
there was all kind of technical mumbo-
jumbo to learn. You were dead wrong.
We're only interested in one thing:
Can you tell a story, Bart? Can you
make us laugh, can you make us cry,
can you make us wanna break out in
joyous song? Is that more than one
thing? Okay. The point is, I run
this dump and I don't know the
technical mumbo-jumbo. Why do I run
it? I've got horse-sense, goddamnit.
Showmanship. And also, and I hope
Lou told you this, I bigger and meaner
than any other kike in this town.
Did you tell him that, Lou? And I
don't mean my dick's bigger than
yours, it's not a sexual thing –
although, you're the writer, you
would know more about that. Coffee?

BARTON
...Yes, thank you.

LIPNIK
Lou.

Lou immediately rises and leaves. Lipnik's tone becomes
confidential:

LIPNIK
...He used to have shares in the
company. An ownership interest. Got
bought out in the twenties – muscled
out according to some. Hell, according
to me. So we keep him around, he's
got a family. Poor schmuck. He's
sensitive, don't mention the old
days. Oh hell, say whatever you want.
Look, barring a preference, Bart,
we're gonna put you to work on a
wrestling picture. Wallace Beery. I
say this because they tell me you
know the poetry of the street. That
would rule out westerns, pirate
pictures, screwball, Bible, Roman...

He rises and starts pacing.

LIPNIK
But look, I'm not one of these guys
thinks poetic has gotta be fruity.
We're together on that, aren't we? I
mean I'm from New York myself – well,
Minsk if you wanna go way back, which
we won't if you don't mind and I
ain't askin'. Now people're gonna
tell you, wrestling. Wallace Beery,
it's a B picture. You tell them,
bullshit. We don't make B pictures
here at Capitol. Let's put a stop
to that rumor right now.

Lou enters with coffee.

LIPNIK
...Thanks Lou. Join us. Join us.
Talking about the Wallace Beery
picture.

LOU
Excellent picture.

LIPNIK
We got a treatment on it yet?

LOU
No, not yet Jack. We just bought the
story. Saturday Evening Post.

LIPNIK
Okay, the hell with the story. Wallace
Beery is a wrestler. I wanna know
his hopes, his dreams. Naturally,
he'll have to get mixed up with a
bad element. And a romantic interest.
You know the drill. Romantic
interest, or else a young kid. An
orphan. What do you think, Lou?
Wally a little too old for a romantic
interest? Look at me, a writer in
the room and I'm askin' Lou what the
goddamn story should be!

After a robust laugh, he beams at Barton.

LIPNIK
...Well Bart, which is it? Orphan?
Dame?

BARTON
...Both maybe?

There is a disappointed silence. Lipnik looks at Lou. Lou
clears his throat.

LOU
...Maybe we should do a treatment.

LIPNIK
Ah, hell, let Bart take a crack at
it. He'll get into the swing of
things or I don't know writers. Let's
make it a dame, Bart, keep it simple.
We don't gotta tackle the world our
first time out. The important thing
is we all have that Barton Fink
feeling, but since you're Barton
Fink I'm assuming you have it in
spades. Seriously Bart, I like you.
We're off to a good start. Dammit,
if all our writers were like you I
wouldn't have to get so goddamn
involved. I'd like to see something
by the end of the week.

Lou is getting to his feet and signaling for Barton to do
likewise.

LIPNIK
...Heard about your show, by the
way. My man in New York saw it. Tells
me it was pretty damn powerful. Pretty
damn moving. A little fruity, he
said, but I guess you know what you're
doing. Thank you for your heart. We
need more heart in pictures. We're
all expecting great things.

TRACKING SHOT

We are in the sixth-floor hallway of the Earle, late at night.
A pair of shoes sits before each door. Faintly, from one of
the rooms, we can hear the clack. clack. clack. of a
typewriter.

It grows louder as we track forward.

EXTREME CLOSE SHOT – TYPEWRITER

Close on the typing so that we see only each letter as it is
typed, without context.

One by one the letters clack on: a-u-d-i-b-l-e. After a short
beat, a period strikes.

BARTON

Elbows on his desk, he looks down at what he has just written.
He rolls the paper up a few lines, looks some more.

THE PAGE

It says:

FADE IN:

A TENEMENT BUILDING

On Manhattan's Lower East Side. Early morning traffic is
audible.

BARTON

After a beat he rolls the sheet back into place.

EXTREME CLOSE SHOT

The letter-strike area. It is lined up to the last period,
which is struck over by a comma. The words "as is" are typed
in and we cut back to –

BARTON

– as he continues typing. He stops after several more
characters and looks.

Silence.

Breaking the silence, muffled laughter from an adjacent room.
A man's laughter. It is weary, solitary, mirthless.

Barton looks up at the wall directly in front of him.

HIS POV

The picture of the girl on the beach.

BARTON

Staring, as the end-of-the-tether laughing continues. Barton
looks back down at his typewriter as if to resume work, but
the sound is too insistent to ignore.

WIDE SHOT

The room, Barton sitting at his desk, staring at the wall.

The laughter.

Barton pushes his chair back, goes to the door, opens it and
looks out.

HIS POV

The empty hallway, a pair of shoes before each door. At the
end of the hall a dim red bulb burns over the door to the
staircase, punctuating the sick yellow glow of the line of
wall sconces.

The laughter, though still faint, is more resonant in the
empty hall.

Perhaps its quality has changed, or perhaps simply because
it is so insistent, the laughter now might be taken for
weeping.

Barton pauses, trying to interpret the sound. He slowly
withdraws into his room.

HIS ROOM

Barton looks down at his typewriter for a beat. The
laughter/weeping continues.

He walks over to his bed, sits down and picks up the house
phone.

BARTON
Hello... Chet? This is Barton Fink
in room 605. Yes, there's uh, there's
someone in the room next door to
mine, 604, and he's uh... He's uh...
making a lot of... noise.

After a beat:

BARTON
...Thank you.

He cradles the phone. The laughter continues for a moment or
two, then abruptly stops with the muffled sound of the
telephone ringing next door.

Barton looks at the wall.

The muffled sound of a man talking.

The sound of the earpiece being pronged.

Muffled footsteps next door.

The sound of the neighbor's door opening and shutting.

Footsteps approaching the hall.

A hard, present knock at Barton's door.

Barton hesitates for a beat, then rises to go get the door.

ON THE DOOR

As Barton opens it. Standing in the hall is a large man – a
very large man – in short sleeves, suspenders, and loosened
tie. His face is slightly flushed, with the beginnings of
sweat.

MAN
Did you... Somebody just complained...

Hastily:

BARTON
No, I didn't – I mean, I did call
down, not to complain exactly, I was
just concerned that you might – not
that it's my business, but that you
might be in some kind of... distress.
You see, I was trying to work, and
it's, well, it was difficult –

MAN
Yeah. I'm damn sorry, if I bothered
you. The damn walls here, well, I
just apologize like hell...

He sticks his hand out.

MAN
...My name's Charlie Meadows. I guess
we're neighbors...

Without reaching for the hand.

BARTON
Barton Fink.

Unfazed, Charlie Meadows unpockets a flask.

CHARLIE
Neighbor, I'd feel better about the
damned inconvenience if you'd let me
buy you a drink.

BARTON
That's all right, really, thank you.

CHARLIE
All right, hell, you trying to work
and me carrying on in there. Look,
the liquor's good, wuddya say?

As he enters:

CHARLIE
... You got a glass? It's the least
I can do.

BARTON
Okay... a quick one, sure...

He gets two glasses from the wash basin. Charlie sits down
on the edge of the bed and uncorks his flask.

CHARLIE
Yeah, just a nip. I feel like hell,
all the carryings-on next door.

BARTON
That's okay, I assure you. It's just
that I was trying to work –

CHARLIE
What kind of work do you do, Barton,
if you don't mind my asking?

BARTON
Well, I'm a writer, actually.

CHARLIE
You don't say. That's a tough racket.
My hat's off to anyone who can make
a go of it. Damned interesting work,
I'd imagine.

BARTON
Can be. Not easy, but –

CHARLIE
Damned difficult, I'd imagine.

As he hands Charlie a glass:

BARTON
And what's your line, Mr. Meadows?

CHARLIE
Hell no! Call me Charlie. Well Barton,
you might say I sell peace of mind.
Insurance is my game – door-to-door,
human contact, still the only way to
move merchandise.

He fills a glass with whiskey and swaps it for the empty
glass.

CHARLIE
...In spite of what you might think
from tonight, I'm pretty good at it.

BARTON
Doesn't surprise me at all.

CHARLIE
Hell yes. Because I believe in it.
Fire, theft, and casualty are not
things that only happen to other
people – that's what I tell 'em.
Writing doesn't work out, you might
want to look into it. Providing for
basic human need – a fella could do
worse.

BARTON
Thanks, I'll keep it in mind.

CHARLIE
What kind of scribbler are you –
newspaperman did you say?

BARTON
No, I'm actually writing for the
pictures now –

CHARLIE
Pictures! Jesus!

He guffaws.

CHARLIE
...I'm sorry, brother, I was just
sitting here thinking I was talking
to some ambitious youngster, eager
to make good. Hell, you've got it
made! Writing for pictures! Beating
out that competition! And me being
patronizing!

He gestures toward his face:

CHARLIE
...Is the egg showing or what?!

BARTON
That's okay; actually I am just
starting out in the movies – though
I was pretty well established in New
York, some renown there,

CHARLIE
Oh, it's an exciting time then. I'm
not the best-read mug on the planet,
so I guess it's no surprise I didn't
recognize your name. Jesus, I feel
like a heel.

For the first time Barton smiles.

BARTON
That's okay, Charlie. I'm a
playwright. My shows've only played
New York. Last one got a hell of a
write-up in the Herald. I guess that's
why they wanted me here.

CHARLIE
Hell, why not? Everyone wants quality.
What kind of venue, that is to say,
thematically, uh...

BARTON
What do I write about?

Charlie laughs.

CHARLIE
Caught me trying to be fancy! Yeah,
that's it, Bart.

BARTON
Well, that's a good question. Strange
as it may seem, Charlie, I guess I
write about people like you. The
average working stiff. The common
man.

CHARLIE
Well ain't that a kick in the head!

BARTON
Yeah, I guess it is. But in a way,
that's exactly the point. There's a
few people in New York – hopefully
our numbers are growing – who feel
we have an opportunity now to forge
something real out of everyday
experience, create a theater for the
masses that's based on a few simple
truths – not on some shopworn
abstractions about drama that doesn't
hold true today, if they ever did...

He gazes at Charlie.

BARTON
...I don't guess this means much to
you.

CHARLIE
Hell, I could tell you some stories–

BARTON
And that's the point, that we all
have stories. The hopes and dreams
of the common man are as noble as
those of any king. It's the stuff of
life – why shouldn't it be the stuff
of theater? Goddamnit, why should
that be a hard pill to swallow? Don't
call it new theater, Charlie; call
it real theater. Call it our theater.

CHARLIE
I can see you feel pretty strongly
about it.

BARTON
Well, I don't mean to get up on my
high horse, but why shouldn't we
look at ourselves up there? Who
cares about the Fifth Earl of Bastrop
and Lady Higginbottom and – and –
and who killed Nigel Grinch-Gibbons?

CHARLIE
I can feel my butt getting sore
already.

BARTON
Exactly, Charlie! You understand
what I'm saying – a lot more than
some of these literary types. Because
you're a real man!

CHARLIE
And I could tell you some stories –

BARTON
Sure you could! And yet many writers
do everything in their power to
insulate themselves from the common
man – from where they live, from
where they trade, from where they
fight and love and converse and –
and – and... so naturally their work
suffers, and regresses into empty
formalism and – well, I'm spouting
off again, but to put it in your
language, the theater becomes as
phony as a three dollar bill.

CHARLIE
Yeah, I guess that's tragedy right
there.

BARTON
Frequently played, seldom remarked.

Charlie laughs.

CHARLIE
Whatever that means.

Barton smiles with him.

BARTON
You're all right, Charlie. I'm glad
you stopped by. I'm sorry if – well
I know I sometimes run on.

CHARLIE
Hell no! Jesus, I'm the kind of guy,
I'll let you know if I'm bored. I
find it all pretty damned interesting.
I'm the kind schmoe who's generally
interested in the other guy's point
of view.

BARTON
Well, we've got something in common
then.

Charlie is getting to his feet and walking to the door.

CHARLIE
Well Christ, if there's any way I
can contribute, or help, or whatever–

Barton chuckles and extends his hand.

BARTON
Sure, sure Charlie, you can help by
just being yourself.

CHARLIE
Well, I can tell you some stories –

He pumps Barton's hand, then turns and pauses in the doorway.

CHARLIE
...And look, I'm sorry as hell about
the interruption. Too much revelry
late at night, you forget there are
other people in the world.

BARTON
See you, Charlie.

Charlie closes the door and is gone.

Barton goes back to his desk and sits.

Muffled, we can hear the door of the adjacent room opening
and closing.

Barton looks at the wall.

HIS POV

The bathing beauty.

From offscreen we hear a sticky, adhesive-giving-way sound.

BARTON
He looks around to the opposite –
bed – wall.

HIS POV

The wallpaper is lightly sheened with moisture from the heat.

One swath of wallpaper is just finishing sagging away from
the wall. About three feet of the wall, where it meets the
ceiling, is exposed.

The strip of wallpaper, its glue apparently melted, sags and
nods above the bed. It glistens yellow, like a fleshy tropical
flower.

BACK TO BARTON

He goes over to the bed and steps up onto it. He smooths the
wallpaper back up against the wall.

He looks at his hand.

HIS HAND

Sticky with tacky yellow wall sweat.

He wipes it onto his shirt.

We hear a faint mosquito hum.

Barton looks around.

FADE OUT

A TYPEWRITER Whirring at high speed. The keys strike too
quickly for us to make out the words.

SLOW TRACK IN

On Barton, sitting on a couch in an office anteroom, staring
blankly. Distant phones ring. Barton's eyes are tired and
bloodshot.

HIS POV

A gargoyle secretary sits typing a document.

The office door opens in the background and a short middle-
aged man in a dark suit emerges.

To his secretary:

EXECUTIVE
I'm eating on the lot today –

He notices Barton.

EXECUTIVE
...Who's he?

The secretary looks over from her typing to consult a slip
of paper on her desk.

SECRETARY
Barton Fink, Mr. Geisler.

GEISLER
More please.

BARTON
I'm a writer, Mr. Geisler. Ted Okum
said I should drop by morning to see
you about the –

GEISLER
Ever act?

BARTON
...Huh? No, I'm –

GEISLER
We need Indians for a Norman Steele
western.

BARTON
I'm a writer. Ted O –

GEISLER
Think about it, Fink. Writers come
and go; we always need Indians.

BARTON
I'm a writer. Ted Okum said you're
producing this Wallace Beery picture
I'm working on.

GEISLER
What!? Ted Okum doesn't know shit.
They've assigned me enough pictures
for a goddamn year. What Ted Okum
doesn't know you could almost squeeze
into the Hollywood Bowl.

BARTON
Then who should I talk to?

Geisler gives a hostile stare. Without looking at her, he
addresses the secretary:

GEISLER
Get me Lou Breeze.

He perches on the edge of the desk, an open hand out toward
the secretary, as he glares wordlessly at Barton.

After a moment:

SECRETARY
Is he in for Mr. Geisler?

She puts the phone in Geisler's hand.

GEISLER
Lou? How's Lipnik's ass smell this
morning?... Yeah?... Yeah?... Okay,
the reason I'm calling, I got a writer
here, Fink, all screwy. Says I'm
producing that Wallace Beery wrestling
picture – what'm I, the goddamn
janitor around here?... Yeah, well
who'd you get that from?... Yeah,
well tell Lipnik he can kiss my
dimpled ass... Shit! No, alright...
No, no, all right.

Without looking he reaches the phone back. The secretary
takes it and cradles it.

GEISLER
...Okay kid, let's chow.

COMMISSARY

Barton and Geisler sit eating in a semicircular booth. Geisler
speaks through a mouthful of food:

GEISLER
Don't worry about it. It's just a B
picture. I bring it in on budget,
they'll book it without even screening
it. Life is too short.

BARTON
But Lipnik said he wanted to look at
the script, see something by the end
of the week.

GEISLER
Sure he did. And he forgot about it
before your ass left his sofa.

BARTON
Okay. I'm just having trouble getting
started. It's funny, I'm blocked up.
I feel like I need some kind of
indication of... what's expected –

GEISLER
Wallace Beery. Wrestling picture.
What do you need, a road map?

Geisler chews on his cottage cheese and stares at Barton.

GEISLER
...Look, you're confused? You need
guidance? Talk to another writer.

BARTON
Who?

Geisler rises and throws his napkin onto his plate.

GEISLER
Jesus, throw a rock in here, you'll
hit one. And do me a favor, Fink:
Throw it hard.

COMMISSARY MEN'S ROOM

Barton stands at a urinal.

He stares at the wall in front of him as he pees. After a
moment, he cocks his head, listening.

We hear a throat clearing, as if by a tenor preparing for a
difficult passage. It is followed by the gurgling ruch of
vomit.

Barton buttons his pants and turns to face the stalls.

There is more businesslike throat clearing.

Barton stoops.

HIS POV

We boom down to show the blue serge pants and well-polished
shoes of the stall's kneeling occupant.

A white handkerchief has been spread on the floor to protect
the trouser knees.

The toilet flushes. The man rises, picks up his handkerchief
up off the floor and gives it a smart flap.

BARTON

He quickly straightens and goes to the sink. He starts washing
his hands. We hear the stall door being unlatched.

Barton glances over his shoulder.

HIS POV

The stall door opening.

BARTON

Quickly, self-consciously, he looks back down at his hands.

HIS POV

His hands writhing under the running water. We hear footsteps
approaching.

BARTON

Forcing himself to look at his hands. We hear the man reach
the adjacent sink and turn on the tap.

Barton can't help glancing up.

THE MAN

A dapper little man in a neat blue serge suit. He has warm
brown eyes, a patrician nose, and a salt-and-pepper mustache.
He smiles pleasantly at Barton.

BARTON

He gives a nervous smile – more like a tic – and looks back
down at his hands. We hear the man gargling water and spitting
into the sink.

After a moment, Barton looks up again.

THE MAN

Reacting to barton's look as he washes his hands. This time,
a curt nod accompanies his pleasant smile.

BARTON

Looks back down, then up again.

THE MAN

Extends a dripping hand.

MAN
Bill Mayhew. Sorry about the odor.

His speech is softly accented, from the South.

BARTON
Barton Fink.

They shake, then return to their ablutions.

We hold on Barton as we hear Mayhew's faucet being turned
off and his foot-steps receding. For some reason, Barton's
eyes are widening.

BARTON
...Jesus. W.P.!

The dapper little man stops and turns.

MAYHEW
I beg your pardon?

BARTON
W.P. Mayhew? The writer?

MAYHEW
Just Bill, please.

Barton stands with his back to the sink, facing the little
man, his hands dripping onto the floor. There is a short
pause. Barton is strangely agitated, his voice halting but
urgent.

BARTON
Bill!...

Mayhew cocks his head with a politely patient smile. Finally
Barton brings out:

BARTON
...You're the finest novelist of our
time.

Mayhew leans against a stall.

MAYHEW
Why thank you, son, how kind. Bein'
occupied here in the worship of
Mammon, I haven't had the chance yet
to see your play –

He smiles at Barton's surprise.

MAYHEW
...Yes, Mistuh Fink, some of the
news reaches us in Hollywood.

He is taking out a flask and unscrewing its lid.

BARTON
Sir, I'm flattered that you even
recognize my name. My God, I had no
idea you were in Hollywood.

MAYHEW
All of us undomesticated writers
eventually make their way out here
to the Great Salt Lick. Mebbe that's
why I allus have such a powerful
thrust.

He clears his throat, takes a swig from the flask, and waves
it at Barton.

MAYHEW
...A little social lubricant, Mistuh
Fink?

BARTON
It's still a little early for me.

MAYHEW
So be it.

He knocks back some more.

BARTON
...Bill, if I'm imposing you should
say so, I know you're very busy – I
just, uh... I just wonder if I could
ask you a favor... That is to say,
uh... have you ever written a
wrestling picture?

Mayhew eyes him appraisingly, and at length clears his throat.

MAYHEW
...You are drippin', suh.

Barton looks down at his hands, then pulls a rough brown
paper towel from a dispenser.

Mayhew sighs:

MAYHEW
...Mistuh Fink, they have not invented
a genre of picture that Bill Mayhew
has not, at one time or othuh, been
invited to essay. I have taken my
stabs at the wrastlin' form, as I
have stabbed at so many others, and
with as little success. I gather
that you are a fresh-man here, eager
for an upperclassman's council.
However, just at the moment...

He waves his flask.

MAYHEW
...I have drinkin' to do. Why don't
you stop at my bungalow, which is
numbah fifteen, later on this
afternoon...

He turns to leave.

MAYHEW
...and we will discuss wrastlin'
scenarios and other things lit'rary.

THE NUMBER "15"

We are close on brass numerals tacked up on a white door.

Muted, from inside, we hear Mayhew's voice – enraged,
bellowing. We hear things breaking. Softer, we hear a woman's
voice, its tone placating.

REVERSE TRACKING SLOWLY IN

On Barton, standing in front of the door.

The noise abates for a moment. We hear the woman's voice
again.

Barton hesitates, listening; he thinks, decides, knocks.

With this the woman's voice stops, and Mayhew starts wailing
again.

The door cracks open.

The woman looks as if she has been crying.

WOMAN
...Can I help you?

BARTON
I'm sorry, I... My name is Fink...
Uh, Bill asked me to drop by this
afternoon. Is he in?

WOMAN
Mr. Mayhew is indisposed at the
moment–

From inside, we hear Mayhew's wail.

MAYHEW
HONEY!! WHERE'S M'HONEY!!

The woman glances uncomfortably over her shoulder and steps
outside, closing the door behind her.

WOMAN
Mr. Fink, I'm Audrey Taylor, Mr.
Mayhew's personal secretary. I know
this all must sound horrid. I really
do apologize...

Through the door Mayhew is still wailing piteously.

BARTON
Is, uh... Is he okay?

AUDREY
He will be... When he can't write,
he drinks.

MAYHEW
WHERE ARE YOU, DAMMIT! WHERE'S
M'HONEY!!

She brushes a wisp of hair out of her eyes.

AUDREY
I am sorry, it's so embarassing.

BARTON
How about you? Will you be alright?

AUDREY
I'll be fine... Are you a writer, Mr
Fink?

BARTON
Yes I am. I'm working on a wres –
please call me Barton.

Audrey reaches out and touches Barton's hand.

AUDREY
I'll tell Bill you dropped by. I'm
sure he'll want to reschedule your
appointment.

BARTON
Perhaps you and I could get together
at some point also. –I'm sorry if
that sounds abrupt. I just... I don't
know anyone here in this town.

Audrey smiles at him.

AUDREY
Perhaps the three of us, Mr. Fink.

BARTON
Please, Barton.

AUDREY
Barton. You see, Barton, I'm not
just Bill's secretary – Bill and I
are... I love. We-

MAYHEW'S VOICE
M'HONEY!! WHERE'S M'HONEY!!

Audrey glances back as we hear the sound of shattering dishes
and heavy footsteps.

BARTON
I see.

AUDREY
...I know this must look... funny.

BARTON
No, no –

Hurriedly:

AUDREY
We need each other. We give each
other... the things we need –

VOICE
M'HONEY!!... bastard-ass sons of
bitches... the water's lappin' up...
M'HONEY!!

AUDREY
I'm sorry, Mr. Fink. Please don't
judge us. Please...

Flustered, she backs away and closes the door.

CLOSE ON A SMALL WRAPPED PACKAGE

Hand-printed on the package is the message:

"Hope these will turn the trick, Mr. Fink. – Chet!"

The wrapping is torn away and the small box is opened.

Two thumbtacks are taken out.

BARTON'S HOTEL ROOM

Late at night. The swath of wallpaper behind the bed has
sagged away from the wall again, and has been joined by the
swath next to it.

Barton enters frame and steps up onto the bed.

He smooths up the first swath and pushes in a thumbtack near
the top.

EXTREME CLOSE SHOT

On the tack. As Barton applies pressure to push it in, tacky
yellow goo oozes out of the puncture hole and beads around
the tack.

ON BARTON

Smoothing up the second swath.

As he pushes in the second tack he pauses, listening.

Muffled, through the wall, we can hear a woman moaning.

After a motionless beat, Barton eases his ear against the
wall.

CLOSE ON BARTON

As his ear meets the wall.

The woman's moaning continues. We hear the creaking of
bedsprings and her partner, incongruously giggling.

Barton grimaces, gets down off the bed and crosses to the
secretary, where he sits. He stares at the paper in the
carriage.

HIS POV

The blank part of the page around the key-strike area, under
the metal prongs that hold the paper down.

We begin to hear moaning again.

BACK TO BARTON

Still looking; sweating.

HIS POV

Tracking in on the paper, losing the prongs from frame so
that we are looking at the pure unblemished white of the
page.

The moaning is cut short by two sharp knocks.

THE DOOR

As it swings open. Charlie Meadows leans in, smiling.

CHARLIE
Howdy, neighbor.

BARTON
Charlie. How are you.

CHARLIE
Jesus, I hope I'm not interrupting
you again. I heard you walking around
in here. Figured I'd drop by.

BARTON
Yeah, come in Charlie. Hadn't really
gotten started yet – what happened
to your ear?

– for Charle's left ear is plugged with cotton wadding. As
he enters:

CHARLIE
Oh, yeah. An ear infection, chronic
thing. Goes away for a while, but
it always comes back. Gotta put cotton
in it to staunch the flow of pus.
Don't worry, it's not contagious.

BARTON
Seen a doctor?

Charlie gives a dismissive wave.

CHARLIE
Ah, doctors. What's he gonna tell
me? Can't trade my head in for a
new one.

BARTON
No, I guess you're stuck with the
one you've got. Have a seat.

Charlie perches on the corner of the bed.

CHARLIE
Thanks, I'd invite you over to my
place, but it's a goddamn mess. You
married, Bart?

BARTON
Nope.

CHARLIE
I myself have yet to be lassoed.

He takes his flask out.

CHARLIE
...Got a sweetheart?

BARTON
No... I guess it's something about
my work. I get so worked up over it,
I don't know; I don't really have a
lot of attention left over, so it
would be a little unfair...

CHARLIE
Yeah, the ladies do ask for attention.
In my experience, they pretend to
give it, but it's generally a smoke-
screen for demanding it back – with
interest. How about family, Bart?
How're you fixed in that department?

Barton smiles.

BARTON
My folks live in Brooklyn, with my
uncle.

CHARLIE
Mine have passed on. It's just the
three of us now...

He taps himself on the head, chuckling.

CHARLIE
...What's the expression – me myself
and I.

BARTON
Sure, that's tough, but in a sense,
we're all alone in this world aren't
we Charlie? I'm often surrounded by
family and friends, but...

He shrugs.

CHARLIE
Mm... You're no stranger to
loneliness, then. I guess I got no
beef; especially where the dames are
concerned. In my line of work I get
opportunities galore – always on the
wing, you know what I'm saying. I
could tell stories to curl your hair
– but it looks like you've already
heard 'em!

He laughs at his reference to Barton's curly hair, and pulls
a dog-eared photograph from his wallet. As he hands it to
Barton:

CHARLIE
...That's me in Kansas City, plying
my trade.

THE PHOTO

Charlie smiles and waves with one foot up on the running
board of a 1939 roadster. A battered leather briefcase dangles
from one hand.

CHARLIE
...It was taken by one of my policy
holders. They're more than just
customers to me, Barton. They really
appreciate what I have to offer them.
Ya see, her hubby was out of town at
the time –

BARTON
You know, in a way, I envy you
Charlie. Your daily routine – you
know what's expected. You know the
drill. My job is to plumb the depths,
so to speak, dredge something up
from inside, something honest. There's
no road map for that territory...

He looks from Charlie to the Underwood.

BARTON
...and exploring it can be painful.
The kind of pain most people don't
know anything about.

He looks back at Charlie.

BARTON
...This must be boring you.

CHARLIE
Not at all. It's damned interesting.

BARTON
Yeah...

He gives a sad chuckle.

BARTON
...Probably sounds a little grand
coming from someone who's writing a
wrestling picture for Wallace Beery.

CHARLIE
Beery! You got no beef there! He's
good. Hell of an actor – though,
for my money, you can't beat Jack
Oakie. A stitch, Oakie. Funny stuff,
funny stuff. But don't get me wrong
– Beery, a wrestling picture, that
could be a pip. Wrestled some myself
back in school. I guess you know the
basic moves.

BARTON
Nope, never watched any. I'm not
that interested in the act itself –

CHARLIE
Okay, but hell, you should know what
it is. I can show you in about thirty
seconds.

He is getting down on his hands and knees.

CHARLIE
...You're a little out of your weight
class, but just for purposes of
demonstration –

BARTON
That's all right, really –

CHARLIE
Not a bit of it, compadre! Easiest
thing in the world! You just get
down on your knees to my left, slap
your right hand here...

He indicated his own right bicep.

CHARLIE
...and your left hand here.

He indicated his left bicep.

Barton hesitates.

CHARLIE
...You can do it, champ!

Barton complies.

CHARLIE
...All right now, when I say "Ready...
wrestle!" you try and pin me, and I
try and pin you. That's the whole
game. Got it?

BARTON
...Yeah, okay.

CHARLIE
Ready... wrestle!

With one clean move Charlie flips Barton onto his back, his
head and shoulders hitting with a thump. Charlie pins Barton's
shoulders with his own upper body.

But before the move even seems completed Charlie is standing
again, offering his hand down to Barton.

CHARLIE
Damn, there I go again. We're gonna
wake the downstairs neighbors. I
didn't hurt ya, did I?

Barton seems dazed, but not put out.

BARTON
It's okay, it's okay.

CHARLIE
Well, that's all that wrestling is.
Except usually there's more grunting
and squirming before the pin. Well,
it's your first time. And you're out
of your weight class.

Barton has propped himself up and is painfully massaging the
back of his head. This registers on Charlie.

CHARLIE
...Jesus, I did hurt you!

He clomps hurriedly away.

CHARLIE
...I'm just a big, clumsy lug. I
sure do apologize.

We hear water running, and Charlie reenters with a wet towel.

Barton accepts the towel and presses it to his head.

CHARLIE
...You sure you're okay?

Barton gets to his feet.

BARTON
I'm fine, Charlie. Really I am.
Actually, it's been helpful, but I
guess I should get back to work.

Charlie looks at him with some concern, then turns and heads
for the door.

CHARLIE
Well, it wasn't fair of me to do
that. I'm pretty well endowed
physically.

He opens the door.

CHARLIE
...Don't feel bad, though. I wouldn't
be much of a match for you at mental
gymnastics. Gimme a holler if you
need anything.

The door closes.

Barton crosses to the secretary and sits down, rubbing the
back of his head. He rolls up the carriage and looks at the
page in the typewriter.

HIS POV

The page.

FADE IN:

A TENEMENT BUILDING

On Manhattan's Lower East Side. Early morning traffic is
audible, as is the cry fishmongers.

BACK TO BARTON

He rubs the back of his head, wincing, as he stares at the
page.

His gaze drifts up.

HIS POV

The bathing beauty.

BARTON

Looking at the picture. He presses the heels of his hands
against his ears.

HIS POV

The bathing beauty. Faint, but building, is the sound of the
surf.

BARTON

Head cocked. The surf is mixing into another liquid sound.
Barton looks sharply around.

THE BATHROOM

Barton enters.

The sink, which Charlie apparently left running when he wet
Barton's towel, is overflowing. Water spills onto the tile
floor.

Barton hurriedly shuts off the tap, rolls up one sleeve and
reaches into the sink.

As his hand emerges, holding something, we hear the unclogged
sink gulp water.

BARTON'S HAND

Holding a dripping wad of cotton.

BARTON

After a brief, puzzled look he realizes where the cotton
came from – and convulsively flips it away.

FADE OUT

FADE IN:

ON THE TITLE PAGE OF A BOOK:

"NEBUCHADNEZZAR
BY
W.P. Mayhew"

A hand enters with pen to inscribe: "To Barton –

May this little entertainment divert you in your sojourn
among the Philistines. – Bill"

The book is closed and picked up.

WIDER

As-thoomp!-the heavy volume is deposited across the table,
in front of Barton, by Mayhew.

Barton, Mayhew, and Audrey are seated around a picnic table.
It is one of a few tables littering the lot of a small stucco
open-air hamburger stand.

It is peaceful early evening. The last of the sunlight slopes
down through palm trees. Barton, Mayhew, and Audrey are the
only customers at the stand.

Mayhew's black Ford stands alone at the edge of the lot.

Mayhew leans back in his chair.

MAYHEW
If I close m'eyes I can almost smell
the live oak.

AUDREY
That's hamburger grease, Bill.

MAYHEW
Well, m'olfactory's turnin' womanish
on me – lyin' and deceitful...

His eyes still closed, he waves a limp hand gently in the
breeze.

MAYHEW
...Still, I must say. I haven't felt
peace like this since the grand
productive days. Don't you find it
so, Barton? Ain't writin' peace?

BARTON
Well... actually, no Bill...

Barton looks nervously at Audrey before continuing.

BARTON
...No, I've always found that writing
comes from a great inner pain. Maybe
it's a pain that comes from a
realization that one must do something
for one's fellow man – to help somehow
to ease his suffering. Maybe it's a
personal pain. At any rate, I don't
believe good work is possible without
it.

MAYHEW
Mmm. Wal, me, I just enjoy maikn'
things up. Yessir. Escape... It's
when I can't write, can't escape
m'self, that I want to tear m'head
off and run screamin' down the street
with m'balls in a fruitpickers pail.
Mm...

He sighs and reaches for a bottle of Wild Turkey.

MAYHEW
...This'll sometimes help.

AUDREY
That doesn't help anything, Bill.

BARTON
That's true, Bill. I've never found
it to help my writing.

Mayhew is becoming testy:

MAYHEW
Your writing? Son, have you ever
heard the story of Soloman's mammy-

Audrey, anticipating, jumps hastily in. She taps the book on
the table.

AUDREY
You should read this, Barton. I think
it's Bill's finest, or among his
finest anyway.

Mayhew looks at her narrowly.

MAYHEW
So now I'm s'posed to roll over like
an ol' bitch dog gettin' ger belly
scratched.

AUDREY
Bill –

BARTON
Look, maybe it's none of my business,
but a man with your talent – don't
you think your first obligation would
be to your gift? Shouldn't you be
doing whatever you have to do to
work again?

MAYHEW
And what would that be, son?

BARTON
I don't know exactly. But I do know
what you're doing with that drink.
You're cutting yourself off from
your gift, and from me and Audrey,
and from your fellow man, and from
everything your art is about.

MAYHEW
No son, thisahere moonshine's got
nothin' to do with shuttin' folks
out. No, I'm usin' it to build
somethin'.

BARTON
What's that?

MAYHEW
I'm buildin' a levee. Gulp by gulp,
brick by brick. Raisin' up a levee
to keep that ragin' river of manure
from lappin' at m'door.

AUDREY
Maybe you better too, Barton. Before
you get buried under his manure.

Mayhew chuckles.

MAYHEW
M'honey pretends to be impatient
with me, Barton, but she'll put up
with anything.

AUDREY
Not anything, Bill. Don't test me.

BARTON
You're lucky she puts up with as
much as she does.

Mayhew is getting to his feet.

MAYHEW
Am I? Maybe to a schoolboy's eye.
People who know about the human heart,
though, mebbe they'd say, Bill over
here, he gives his honey love, and
she pays him back with pity – the
basest coin there is.

AUDREY
Stop it, Bill!

He wanders over to a corner of the lot between two palm trees,
still clutching his bottle, his back to Barton and Audrey,
and urinates into the grass.

He is singing – loudly – "Old Black Joe."

Audrey walks over to him.

BARTON

Watching her go.

HIS POV

Audrey touches Mayhew's elbow. He looks at her, stops singing,
she murmurs something, and he bellows:

MAYHEW
The truth, m'honey, is a tart that
does not bear scrutiny.

She touches him again, murmuring, and he lashes out at her,
knocking her to the ground.

MAYHEW
Breach my levee at your peril!

BARTON

He rises.

AUDREY

Coming back to Barton.

MAYHEW

Stumbling off down the dusty road, muttering to himself and
waving his bottle of Wild Turkey.

AUDREY
Let him go.

BARTON
That son of a bitch... Don't get me
wrong, he's a fine writer.

He looks down the road. Mayhew is a small lone figure, weaving
in the dust.

MAYHEW
I'll jus' walk on down to the Pacific,
and from there I'll... improvise.

BARTON
Are you all right?

We hear distant bellowing:

MAYHEW
Silent upon a hill in Darien!

Audrey bursts into tears. Barton puts his arms around her
and she leans into him.

BARTON
Audrey, you can't put up with this.

Gradually, she collects herself, wiping her tears.

AUDREY
...Oh Barton, I feel so... sorry for
him!

BARTON
What?! He's a son of a bitch!

AUDREY
No, sometimes he just... well, he
thinks about Estelle. His wife still
lives in Fayettesville. She's...
disturbed.

BARTON
Really?...

He considers this for a moment, but his anger returns.

BARTON
...Well that doesn't excuse his
behavior.

AUDREY
He'll wander back when he's sober
and apologize. He always does.

BARTON
Okay, but that doesn't excuse his –

AUDREY
Barton. Empathy requires...
understanding.

BARTON
What. What don't I understand?

Audrey gazes at him.

MAYHEW

He is very distant now, weaving but somehow dignified in his
light summer suit. "Old Black Joe" floats back to us in the
twilight.

FADE OUT

BARTON'S HOTEL ROOM

From a high angle, booming down on Barton.

The room is dark. Barton lies fully clothed, stretched out
on the bed, asleep. The hum of the mosquito fades up in the
stillness.

Suddenly Barton slaps his cheek. His eyes open, but he remains
still. The hum fades up again. Barton reaches over and turns
on the bedside lamp. His eyes shift this way and that as he
waits, listening.

The hum fades down to silence.

Barton's eyes shift.

HIS POV

The typewriter sits on the secretary, a piece of paper rolled
halfway through the carriage.

THE TYPEWRITER

Barton enters frame and sits down in front of the typewriter.

HIS POV

Next to the typewriter are several crumpled pieces of paper.
The page in the carriage reads:

FADE IN:

A TENEMENT HOTEL

On the Lower East Side. We can faintly hear the cry of the
fishmongers. It is too early for us to hear traffic; later,
perhaps, we will.

BACK TO BARTON

Looking down at the page.

CLOSE ON BARTON'S FEET

Swinging in the legwell.

One foot idly swings over to nudge a pair of nicely shined
shoes from where they rest, under the secretary, into the
legwell.

We hear typing start.

THE PAGE

A new paragraph being started: "A large man..."

BARTON'S FEET

As he slides them into the shoes.

THE PAGE

"A large man in tights..."

The typing stops.

BARTON

Looking quizzically at the page. What's wrong?

HIS FEET

Sliding back and forth – swimming – in his shoes, which are
several sizes too large.

We hear a knock at the door.

BARTON

He rises and answers the door.

Charlie stands smiling in the doorway, holding a pair of
nicely shined shoes.

CHARLIE
I hope these are your shoes.

BARTON
Hi, Charlie.

CHARLIE
Because that would mean they gave
you mine.

BARTON
Yeah, as a matter of fact they did.
Come on in.

The two stocking-footed men go into the room and Barton
reaches under the secretary for Charlie's shoes.

CHARLIE
Jesus, what a day I've had. Ever had
one of those days?

BARTON
Seems like nothing but, lately.

Chalrie perches on the edge of the bed.

CHARLIE
Jesus, what a day. Felt like I
couldn't've sold ice water in the
Sahara. Jesus. Okay, so you don't
want insurance, so okay, that's your
loss. But God, people can be rude.
Feel like I have to talk to a normal
person like just to restore a little
of my...

BARTON
Well, my pleasure. I could use a
little lift myself.

CHARLIE
A little lift, yeah...

Smiling, he takes out his flask.

CHARLIE
...Good thing they bottle it, huh
pal?

He takes a glass from the bedstand and, as he pours Barton a
shot:

CHARLIE
...Did I say rude? People can be
goddamn cruel. Especially some of
their housewives. Okay, so I've got
a weight problem. That's my cross to
bear. I dunno...

BARTON
Well it's... it's a defense mechanism.

CHARLIE
Defense against what? Insurance?
Something they need? Something they
should be thanking me for offering?
A little peace of mind?...

He shakes his head.

CHARLIE
...Finally decided to knock off early,
take your advice. Went to see a doctor
about this.

He indicates his ear, still stuffed with cotton.

CHARLIE
...He told me it was an ear infection.
Ten dollars, please. I said, hell, I
told YOU my ear was infected. Why
don't YOU give ME ten dollars? Well,
THAT led to an argument...

He gives a rueful chuckle.

CHARLIE
...Listen to me belly-achin'. As if
my problems amounted to a hill of
beans. How goes the life of the mind?

BARTON
Well, it's been better. I can't seem
to get going on this thing. That one
idea, the one that lets you get
started – I still haven't gotten it.
Maybe I only had one idea in me – my
play. Maybe once that was done, I
was done being a writer. Christ, I
feel like a fraud, sitting here
staring at this paper.

CHARLIE
Those two love-birds next door drivin'
you nuts?

Barton looks at him curiously.

BARTON
How did you know about that?

CHARLIE
Know about it? I can practically see
how they're doin' it. Brother, I
wish I had a piece of that.

BARTON
Yeah, but –

CHARLIE
Seems like I hear everything that
goes on in this dump. Pipes or
somethin'. I'm just glad I don't
have to ply MY trade in the wee-wee
hours.

He laughs.

CHARLIE
...Ah, you'll lick this picture
business, believe me. You've got a
head on your shoulders. What is it
they say? Where there's a head,
there's a hope?

BARTON
Where there's life there's hope.

Charlie laughs.

CHARLIE
That proves you really are a writer!

Barton smiles.

BARTON
And there's hope for you too, Charlie.
Tomorrow I bet you sell a half-dozen
policies.

CHARLIE
Thanks, brother. But the fact is, I
gotta pull up stakes temporarily.

BARTON
You're leaving?

CHARLIE
In a few days. Out to your stompin'
grounds as a matter of fact – New
York City. Things have gotten all
balled up at the Head Office.

BARTON
I'm truly sorry to hear that, Charlie.
I'll miss you.

CHARLIE
Well hell, buddy, don't pull a long
face! This is still home for me – I
keep my room, and I'll be back sooner
or later...

Barton rises and walks over to his writing table.

CHARLIE
...And – mark my words – by the time
I get back you're picture'll be
finished. I know it.

Barton scribbles on a notepad and turns to hand it to Charlie.

BARTON
New York can be pretty cruel to
strangers, Charlie. If you need a
home-cooked meal you just look up
Morris and Lillian Fink. They live
on Fulton Street with my uncle Dave.

We hear a tacky, tearing sound.

Barton looks toward the door.

Charlie rises and walks over to the stand next to where Barton
sits.

The two staring men form an odd, motionless tableau – the
slight, bespectacled man seated; the big man standing in a
hunch with his hands on his thighs; their heads close
together.

THEIR POV

A swath of wallpaper in the entryway has pulled away from
the wall. It sags and nods.

CHARLIE
(off)
Christ!

THE TWO MEN

Frozen, looking.

CHARLIE
...Your room does that too?

BARTON
I guess the heat's sweating off the
wallpaper.

CHARLIE
What a dump...

He heads for the door and Barton follows.

CHARLIE
...I guess it seems pathetic to a
guy like you.

BARTON
Well...

CHARLIE
Well it's pathetic, isn't it? I mean
to a guy from New York.

BARTON
What do you mean?

CHARLIE
This kind of heat. It's pathetic.

BARTON
Well, I guess you pick your poison.

CHARLIE
So they say.

BARTON
Don't pick up and leave without saying
goodbye.

CHARLIE
Course not, compadre. You'll see me
again.

Barton closes the door.

He goes back to the desk, sits, and stares at the typewriter.
After a beat he tips back in his chair and looks up at the
ceiling.

We hear a loud thump.

HIS POV

The ceiling – a white, seamless space.

As we track in the thumping continues – slowly, rhythmically,
progressively louder – the effect, it seems, of odd doings
upstairs.

LOOKING DOWN ON BARTON

From a high angle, tipped back in his chair, staring at the
ceiling.

We track slowly down toward him. The thumping continues,
growing louder, sharper.

HIS POV

Moving in on the ceiling. We close in on an unblemished area
and cease to have any sense of movement.

With a blur something huge and dark sweeps across the frame
to land with a deafening crash, and an instant later it is
gone, having left a huge black "T" stamped into the white
ceiling.

We are pulling back from the white, past the metal prongs of
the key-strike area on a typewriter. More letters appear
rapid-fire, growing smaller as the pull back continues. The
thumpimg becomes the clacking of the typewriter.

BEN GEISLER

Is emerging from his office. As he enters the secretary
stops typing, glances down at a slip of paper, and murmurs
tonelessly, without looking up:

SECRETARY
Barton Fink.

GEISLER
Yeah. Fink. Come in.

The clack of the typewriter resumes as Barton rises.

GEISLER'S OFFICE

The two men enter.

This office is considerably smaller than Lipnik's, done in
grays and black. There are pictures on the wall of Geisler
with various celebrities.

Geisler sits behind his desk.

GEISLER
Wuddya got for me – what the hell
happened to your face?

BARTON
Nothing. It's just a mosquito bite.

GEISLER
Like hell it is; there are no
mosquitos in Los Angeles. Mosquitos
breed in swamps – this is a desert
town. Wuddya got for me?

BARTON
Well I...

GEISLER
On the Beery picture! Where are we?
Wuddya got?

BARTON
Well, to tell you the truth, I'm
having some trouble getting started–

GEISLER
Getting STARTED! Christ Jesus!
Started?! You mean you don't have
ANYthing?!

BARTON
Well not much.

Geisler leaps to his feet and paces.

GEISLER
What do you think this is? HAMLET?
GONE WITH THE WIND? RUGGLES OF RED
GAP? It's a goddamn B picture! Big
men in tights! You know the drill!

BARTON
I'm afraid I don't really understand
that genre. maybe that's the prob-

GEISLER
Understand shit! I though you were
gonna consult another writer on this!

BARTON
Well, I've talked to Bill Mayhew-

GEISLER
Bill Mayhew! Some help! The guy's a
souse!

BARTON
He's a great writer –

GEISLER
A souse!

BARTON
You don't understand. He's in pain,
because he can't write-

GEISLER
Souse! Souse! He manages to write
his name on the back of his paycheck
every week!

BARTON
But... I thought no one cared about
this picture.

GEISLER
You thought! Where'd you get THAT
from? You thought! I don't know
what the hell you said to Lipnik,
but the sonofabitch LIKES you! You
understand that, Fink? He LIKES you!
He's taken an interest. NEVER make
Lipnik like you. NEVER!

Some puzzlement shows through Barton's weariness.

BARTON
I don't understand-

GEISLER
Are you deaf, he LIKES you! He's
taken an interest! What the hell did
you say to him?

BARTON
I didn't say anything-

GEISLER
Well he's taken an interest! That
means he'll make your life hell,
which I could care less about, but
since I drew the short straw to
supervise this turkey, he's gonna be
all over me too! Fat-assed sonofabitch
called me yesterday to ask how it's
going – don't worry, I covered for
you. Told him you were making progress
and we were all very excited. I told
him it was great, so now MY ass is
on the line. He wants you to tell
him all about it tomorrow.

BARTON
I can't write anything by tomorrow.

GEISLER
Who said write? Jesus, Jack can't
read. You gotta TELL it to him-tell
him SOMEthing for Chrissake.

BARTON
Well what do I tell him?

Geisler rubs a temple, studies Barton for a beat, then picks
up a telephone.

GEISLER
Projection...

As he waits, Geisler gives Barton a withering stare. It
continues throughout the phone conversation.

GEISLER
... Jerry? Ben Geisler here. Any of
the screening rooms free this
afternoon?... Good, book it for me.
A writer named Fink is gonna come in
and you're gonna show him wrestling
pictures... I don't give a shit which
ones! WRESTLING pictures! Wait a
minute- isn't Victor Sjoderberg
shooting one now?... Show him some
of the dailies on that.

He slams down the phone.

GEISLER
...This ought to give you some ideas.

He jots an address on a piece of paper and hands it to Barton.

GEISLER
...Eight-fifteen tomorrow morning at
Lipnik's house. Ideas. Broad strokes.
Don't cross me, Fink.

SCREEN

Black-and-white footage. A middle-aged man with a clapstick
enters and shouts:

CLAPPER
DEVIL ON THE CANVAS, twelve baker
take one.

Clap! The clapper withdraws. The angle is on a corner of the
ring, where an old corner man stands behind his charge, a
huge man in tights who is a little too flabby to be a real
athlete. His hair is plastered against his bullet skull and
he has a small mustache.

VOICE
Action.

The wrestler rises from his stool and heads toward center
ring and the camera. He affects a German accent:

WRESTLER
I will destroy him!

He passes the camera.

VOICE
Cut.

Flash frames.

The clapper enters again.

CLAPPER
Twelve baker take two.

Clap! He exits.

The wrestler moves toward the camera.

WRESTLER
I will destroy him!

VOICE
Cut.

The clapper enters

CLAPPER
Twelve baker take three.

Clap!

WRESTLER
I will destroy him!

SLOW TRACK IN ON BARTON

Seated alone in a dark screening room, the shaft of the
projection beam flickering over his left shoulder.

As we creep in closer:

WRESTLER
(off)
I will destroy him!... I will destroy
him!... I will destroy him!... I
will destroy him!...

Another off-microphone, distant voice from the screen:

VOICE
Okay, take five...

THE SCREEN

A jerky pan, interrupted by flash frames. The wrestler is
standing in a corner joking with a makeup girl who pats down
his face as he smokes a cigarette.

A cut in the film and another clapstick enters.

CLAPPER
Twelve charlie take one-

ON THE CLAP:

BACK TO BARTON

Staring at the screen, dull, wan, and forlorn.

VOICE
(off)
Action.

THE SCREEN

The angle is low – canvas level. We hold for a brief moment
on the empty canvas before two wrestlers crash down into
frame.

The German is underneath, on his back, pinned by the other
man.

The referee enters, cropped at the knees, and throws counting
fingers down into frame.

REFEREE
One... two...

WRESTLER
AAAAHHHH!!

The German bucks and throws his opponent out of frame.

VOICE
Cut.

CLAPPER
Twelve charlie take two.

Crash.

REFEREE
One... two...

WRESTLER
AAAAHHHH!!

BARTON

Glazed.

WRESTLER
(off)
AAAAAAHHHHHH!!... AAAAAAHHHHHH!!...
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!...

PAGE IN TYPEWRITER

The screaming drops out abruptly at cut. We hear only the
sound of heavy footfalls on carpet.

Below the opening paragraph, two new words have been added
to the typescript:

"Orphan?"

"Dame?"

The foot falls continue.

THE HOTEL ROOM

Night. Barton paces frantically back and forth.

He looks at his watch.

HIS POV

It is 12:30.

CLOSE ON THE PHONE

It is lifted out of the cradle.

BARTON
Hello, Chet, it's Barton Fink in
605. Can you try a number for me in
Hollywood... Slausen 6-4304.

We pull back to frame in Barton as we hear his call ring
through. Barton sweats.

BARTON
Pick it up... Pick it up. Pick it-

AUDREY
Hello.

BARTON
Audrey, listen, I need help. I know
it's late and I shouldn't be calling
you like this – believe me I wouldn't
have if I could see any other
alternative, but I – I'm sorry -
listen, how are you – I'm sorry. You
doing okay?

AUDREY
...Who is this?

BARTON
Barton. I'm sorry, it's Barton Fink.

Through the phone, in the background, we hear Mayhew's drunken
bellowing.

MAYHEW
Sons of bitches! Drown 'em all!

We hear various objects dropping or being thrown to the floor.

AUDREY
Barton, I'm afraid it's not a good
time-

MAYHEW
Drown all those rascals...

BARTON
I'm sorry, I just feel like –I know
I shouldn't ask, I just need some
kind of help, I just, I have a
deadline tomorrow-

MAYHEW
I said drown 'em all! Who is that?

There is more clatter.

Audrey's voice is hushed, close to the phone:

AUDREY
All right Barton, I'll see if I can
slip away-

MAYHEW
Who is that?! Gaddamn voices come
into the house... sons of bitches...

BARTON
If you could, I'd –

AUDREY
If I can. He gets jealous; he-

MAYHEW
Goddamn voices... DROWN 'EM!

BARTON
I need help, Audrey.

AUDREY
I'll try to slip out. If he quiets
down, passes out... I'm afraid he
thinks – well, he said you were a
buffoon, Barton. He becomes
irrational–

MAYHEW
Hesh up! Be still now! DROWN 'EM!
DROWN 'EM! DROWN –

WIDE ON THE ROOM

Later. It is quiet. We are craning down toward the bed, where
Barton lies stretched out, his head buried beneath a pillow
as if to blot out the world.

The track reveals the wristwatch on Barton's dangled arm:
1:30.

THE HALLWAY

At the end of the dimly lit corridor a red light blinks on
over the elevator, with a faint bell.

BACK TO BARTON

With two violent and simultaneous motions he whips the pillow
off his head and throws out his other wrist to look at his
watch.

There is a knock at the door.

Barton swings his feet off the bed.

THE DOORWAY

Barton opens the door to Audrey.

AUDREY
Hello, Barton.

BARTON
Audrey, thank you for coming. Thank
you. I'm sorry to be such a... such
a... Thank you.

They enter the main room, where Audrey perches on the edge
of the bed.

AUDREY
Now that's all right, Barton.
Everything'll be all right.

BARTON
Yes. Thank you. How's Bill?

AUDREY
Oh, he's... he drifted off. He'll
sleep for a while now. What is it
you have to do, exactly?

Barton paces.

BARTON
Well I have to come up with – an
outline, I'd guess you call it. The
story. The whole goddamn story. Soup
to nuts. Three acts. The whole goddamn-

AUDREY
It's alright, Barton. You don't have
to write actual scenes?

BARTON
No, but the whole goddamn – Audrey?
Have you ever had to read any of
Bill's wrestling scenarios?

Audrey laughs.

AUDREY
Yes, I'm afraid I have.

BARTON
What are they like? What are they
about?

AUDREY
Well, usually, they're... simply
morality tales. There's a good
wrestler, and a bad wrestler whom he
confronts at the end. In between,
the good wrestler has a love interest
or a child he has to protect. Bill
would usually make the good wrestler
a backwoods type, or a convict. And
sometimes, instead of a waif, he'd
have the wrestler protecting an idiot
manchild. The studio always hated
that. Oh, some of the scripts were
so... spirited!

She laughs – then stops, realizing that she has laughed. She
looks at Barton.

AUDREY
...Barton.

She shakes her head.

AUDREY
...Look, it's really just a formula.
You don't have to type your soul
into it. We'll invent some names
and a new setting. I'll help you
and it won't take any time at all. I
did it for Bill so many times –

Barton's pacing comes up short.

BARTON
Did what for Bill?

Guardedly:

AUDREY
Well... THIS.

BARTON
You wrote his scripts for him?

AUDREY
Well, the basic ideas were frequently
his-

BARTON
You wrote Bill's scripts! Jesus
Christ, you wrote his – what about
before that?

AUDREY
Before what?

BARTON
Before Bill came to Hollywood.

Audrey is clearly reluctant to travel this path.

AUDREY
Well, Bill was ALWAYS the author, so
to speak-

BARTON
What do you mean so to speak?! Audrey,
how long have you been his...
secretary?

AUDREY
Barton, I think we should concentrate
on OUR little project-

BARTON
I want to know how many of Bill's
books you wrote!

AUDREY
Barton!

BARTON
I want to know!

AUDREY
Barton, honestly, only the last couple-

BARTON
Hah!

AUDREY
And my input was mostly... EDITORIAL,
really, when he'd been drinking-

BARTON
I'll bet. Jesus – "The grand
productive days." What a goddamn
phony.

He resumes pacing.

BARTON
...W.P. Mayhew. William Goddamn
Phony Mayhew. All his guff about
escape. Hah! I'LL say he escaped!

Barton sighs and looks at his watch.

BARTON
...Well, we don't have much time.

He sits down next to Audrey. Audrey's tone is gentle.

AUDREY
It'll be fine... Don't judge him,
Barton. Don't condescend to him...

She strokes Barton's hair.

AUDREY
...It's not as simple as you think.
I helped Bill most by appreciating
him, by understanding him. We all
need understanding, Barton. Even
you, tonight, it's all you really
need...

She kisses him.

As Barton tentatively responds, we are panning away.

We frame up on the door to the bathroom and track in toward
the sink. We can hear the creak of bedsprings and Audrey and
Barton's breath, becoming labored.

The continuing track brings us up to and over the lid of the
sink to frame up its drain, a perfect black circle in the
porcelain white. We track up to the drain and are enveloped
by it as the sound of lovemaking mixes into the groaning of
pipes.

BLACK

FADE IN:

BARTON

The hum of a mosquito brings us out of the black and we are
looking down at Barton, in bed, asleep. It is dawn.

Barton's eyes snap open.

HIS POV

The white ceiling. A humming black speck flits across the
white.

BARTON

Slowly, cautiously, he props himself up, his look following
the sound of the mosquito.

His gaze travels down and to one side and is arrested as the
hum stops.

HIS POV

Audrey lies facing away on her side of the bed, half covered
by a blanket.

BARTON

Gingerly, he reaches over and draws the blanket down Audrey's
back.

HIS POV

The alabaster white of Audrey's back.

The mosquito is feeding on it.

EXTREME CLOSE ON BARTON'S EYES

Looking.

EXTREME CLOSE ON THE MOSQUITO

Swelling with blood.

WIDER

As Barton's hand comes through frame and slaps Audrey's back.

She doesn't react.

Barton draws his hand away. Audrey's back is smeared with
blood.

ON BARTON

He looks at his hand.

HIS POV

His hand is dripping with blood. Too much blood.

BACK TO BARTON

Eyes wide, he looks down at the bed.

HIS POV

Blood seeps up into the sheet beneath the curve of Audrey's
back.

BARTON

He pulls Audrey's shoulder.

AUDREY

She rolls onto her back. Her eyes are wide and lifeless.

Her stomach is nothing but blood. The top sheet, drawn to
her waist is drenched red and clings to her body.

BARTON

He screams.

He screams again.

We hear rapid and heavy footfalls next door, a door opening
and closing, and then a loud banging on Barton's door.

Barton's head spins towards the door. He is momentarily
frozen.

Another knock.

Barton leaps to his feet and hurries to the door.

THE DOORWAY

Over Barton's shoulder as he cracks the door.

Charlie stands in the hall in his boxer shorts and a
sleeveless tee.

CHARLIE
Are you all right?

Barton stares dumbly for a moment.

CHARLIE
...Can I come in?

BARTON
No!... I'm fine. Thank you.

CHARLIE
Are you sure –

BARTON
No... no...

Barton is nodding as he shuts the door in Charlie's face.

He walks back into the room.

HIS POV

Audrey's corpse, in long shot, face up on the bed.

BARTON

He walks toward the bed, wheels before he reaches it, and
starts back toward the door.

He stops short and turns back again to the room. He averts
his eyes – as it happens, toward the secretary.

He walks stiffly over and sits, his back to Audrey.

CLOSE ON BARTON

As he sits in. He stares emptily down at the desk, in shock,
totally shut down. Behind him, we can see Audrey on the bed.

He stares for a long beat.

Strange, involuntary noises come from his throat. He is not
in control.

Becoming aware of the noise he is making, he stops.

He lurches to his feet.

THE DOORWAY

As Barton enters, opens the door, and sticks his head out.

HALLWAY

Barton peers out the see if the coast is clear.

HIS POV

The long hallway.

In the deep background, Chet, the night clerk, is stooping
in front of a door to pick up a pair of shoes. Next to him
is a castored shoe caddy.

All of the doorways between us and Chet are empty of shoes.

CHET

Close on him as, mid-stoop, he looks up.

CHET'S POV

Up the long hall. In the deep background a door is closing.

CHET

He pauses, then straightens up and puts the shoes on the
shoe caddy. It squeaks as he pushes it on down the hall.

BARTON'S ROOM

Barton stands at the door, listening to a very faint squeak.
Eventually it becomes inaudible.

He cracks the door again, looks out, and exits.

HALLWAY

Barton goes to Charlie's room and knocks.

Footfalls end as the door is cracked open.

CHARLIE
Barton. Are you all right?

BARTON
No... Can I come in?

CHARLIE
Why don't we go to your room-

BARTON
Charlie, I'm in trouble. You've gotta
help me.

Once again he is breathing hard.

Charlie steps out into the hall and shuts the door behind
him.

CHARLIE
Get a grip on yourself, brother.
Whatever the problem is, we'll sort
it out.

BARTON
Charlie, I'm in trouble – something
horrible's happened – I've gotta
call the police...

Charlie leads him towards his room.

BARTON
...Will you stay with me till they
get here?

CHARLIE
Don't worry about it, Barton. We can
sort it-

He is pushing Barton's door open, but Barton grabs an elbow
to stop him.

BARTON
Before you go in – I didn't do this.
I don't know how it happened, but I
didn't... I want you to know that...

Charlie looks into his eyes. For a moment the two men stare
at each other – Charlie's look inquisitive, Barton's
supplicating.

Finally, Charlie nods.

CHARLIE
Okay.

He turns and pushes open the door.

BARTON'S ROOM

The two men enter.

Barton lingers by the door. Charlie walks into the foreground
to look off toward the bed.

His eyes widen and he screams.

He turns and disappears into the bathroom. We hear vomiting,
then the flush of a toilet.

CHARLIE
Jesus... Jesus... Jesus have mercy...

His reaction has not encouraged Barton, who is more and more
agitated.

Charlie emerges from the bathroom, sweating.

CHARLIE
...Jesus, Barton, what the hell is
this? What're we gonna do?

BARTON
I've gotta call the police – or you
could call for me –

CHARLIE
Hold on –

BARTON
You gotta believe me –

CHARLIE
Hold on –

BARTON
I didn't do this, I did NOT do this–

CHARLIE
Hold on. Stop. Take a deep breath.
Tell me what happened.

BARTON
I don't know! I woke up, she was...
God, you gotta believe me!

Charlie, in spite of himself, is sneaking horrified glances
back into the room.

CHARLIE
I believe you, brother, but this
don't look good.

BARTON
We gotta call the police –

CHARLIE
Hold on. I said hold on, so hold on.

BARTON
Yeah.

CHARLIE
What do you think happened?

BARTON
I don't know! Maybe it was her...
boyfriend. I passed out. I don't
know. Won't the police be able to –

CHARLIE
Stop with the police! Wake up, friend!
This does not look good! They hang
people for this!

BARTON
But I didn't do it – don't you believe
me?

CHARLIE
I believe you – I KNOW you. But why
should the police?

Barton gives him a dumb stare.

CHARLIE
...Did you... Barton, between you
and me, did you have sexual
intercourse?

Barton stares at Charlie. He swallows.

Charlie shakes his head.

CHARLIE
Jesus... They can tell that...

BARTON
They GOTTA believe me, Charlie! They
gotta have mercy!

CHARLIE
You're in pictures, Barton. Even if
you got cleared eventually, this
would ruin you.

He turns and starts toward the bed.

CHARLIE
...Wait in the bathroom.

BATHROOM

Later. Barton, still in his underwear, sits leaning against
the wall, staring glassily at his feet.

From the other room we hear the creak of bedsprings and the
sounds of bed clothes being torn off.

Finally there is a last creak of bedsprings and the sound of
Charlie grunting under great weight.

We hear heavy footsteps approaching.

Barton looks up through the open bathroom door.

HIS POV

Charlie is groping for the front doorknob, cradling the
sheetswaddled body in his arms.

BACK TO BARTON

His neck goes rubbery. His eyes roll up. His head lolls back
to hit the wall.

BLACK

Slap! Slap!

We are low on Charlie, who is following through on a slap
and backing away, having aroused Barton. Charlie is now
wearing pants but is still in his sleeveless tee, which has
blood flecks across the belly.

CHARLIE
You passed out.

Barton looks groggily up.

BARTON
...Uh-huh... Where's Audrey?

CHARLIE
She's dead, Barton! If that was her
name.

TRACKING IN ON BARTON

He stares at Charlie.

CHARLIE
(off)
Barton, listen to me. You gotta act
like nothing's happened. Put this
totally out of your head. I know
that's hard, but your play from here
on out is just to go about business
as usual. Give us some time to sort
this out...

Barton looks at his watch.

THE WATCH

7:45.

CHARLIE
(off)
...Just put it out of you head...

TRACKING

Toward a pool set in a grand yard with shaped hedges and
statuary set amid palms trees.

Sunlight glitters angrily off the water; we are approaching
Jack Lipnik who sits poolside in a white deck chair.

LIPNIK
Bart! So happy to see ya!

REVERSE

Pulling Barton, who is being escorted by Lou Breeze.

Barton is haggard, sunken eyes squinting against too much
sun.

LIPNIK
Sit! Talk! Relax for a minute, then
talk! Drink?

As Barton sits:

BARTON
Yeah... rye whiskey?

LIPNIK
Boy! You writers! Work hard, play
hard! That's what I hear, anyway...

He laughs, then barks at Lou Breeze.

LIPNIK
... Lou.

Lou exits.

LIPNIK
Anyway. Ben Geisler tells me things're
going along great. Thinks we've got
a real winner in this one. And let
me tell you something, I'm counting
on it. I've taken an interest. Not
to interfere, mind you – hardly seems
necessary in your case. A writer – a
storyteller – of your stature.
Givitta me in bold strokes, Bart.
Gimme the broad outlines. I'm sitting
in the audience, the lights go down,
Capitol logo comes up... you're on!

He beams expectantly at Barton. Barton licks his parched
lips.

BARTON
Yeah, okay... well... we fade in...

Lipnik is nodding, already involved in the story.

BARTON
...It's a tenement building. On the
Lower East Side...

LIPNIK
Great! He's poor, this wrestler!
He's had to struggle!

BARTON
And then... well...

Barton looks back out at the pool, his eyes closed to slits
against the sun. He looks back at Lipnik.

BARTON
...Can I be honest, Mr. Lipnik?

LIPNIK
CAN you? You damn well better be.
Jesus, if I hadn't been honest in my
business dealings – well, of course,
you can't always be honest, not with
the sharks swimming around this town
– but if you're a writer, you don't
think about those things – if I'd
been totally honest, I wouldn't be
within a mile of this pool – unless
I was cleaning it. But that's no
reason for you not to be. Honest, I
mean. Not cleaning the pool.

Lou has entered with a drink, which he sets next to Barton.
Lou sits.

Barton looks around, takes the drink, sips at it greedily,
but must finally take the plunge.

BARTON
Well... to be honest, I'm never really
comfortable discussing a work in
progress. I've got it all worked
out in my head, but sometimes if you
force it out in words – prematurely
– the wrong words – well, your meaning
changes, and it changes your own
mind, and you never get it back – so
I'd just as soon not talk about it.

Lipnik stares at him. His smile has disappeared. There is a
long beat.

Lou Breeze clears his throat. He apparently feels obliged to
fill the silence.

LOU
...Mr. Fink. Never mind me. Never
mind how long I've been in pictures.
Mr. Lipnik has been in pictures just
about since they were invented. HE
practically invented them.

Lipnik has turned to look curiously at Lou.

LOU
...Now I think if he's interested in
what one of his contract employees
is doing while he draws pay, I think
that employee ought to tell him, if
he wants to stay an employee. Right
now the contents of your head are
the property of Capitol Pictures, so
if I were you I would speak up. And
pretty goddamn fast.

Lou looks at Barton, expectantly. Lipnik continues to stare
at Lou.

There is a long silence, terribly heavy.

Finally, Lipnik explodes – at Lou.

LIPNIK
You lousy sonofabitch! You're telling
this man – this ARTIST – what to
do?!

Lou Breeze is stunned.

LOU
Mr. Lipnik, I –

LIPNIK
This man creates for a living! He
puts food on your table and on mine!
THANK him for it! Thank him, you
ungrateful sonofabitch! Thank him or
YOU'RE fired!

Barton is staring, aghast.

BARTON
Mr. Lipnik, that's not really necessar-

Lipnik, still staring at Lou, gives no sign of hearing Barton.
He rises and points.

LIPNIK
Get down on your knees, you
sonofabitch! Get down on your knees
and kiss this man's feet!

LOU
Mr. Lipnik, please –

BARTON
I – Mr. Lipnik –

LIPNIK
KISS THIS MAN'S FEET!!

Lou, aghast, looks at Barton.

Barton, aghast, can only return the same stunned look.

Lipnik snarls at Lou:

LIPNIK
...Okay, get out of here. You're
fired, you understand me? Get out
of my sight.

Lou gets stiffly to his feet and stumbles away.

BARTON
Mr. Lipnik, I –

LIPNIK
I apologize, Barton.

BARTON
No no, Mr. Breeze has actually been
a great help –

LIPNIK
You don't have to cover for him.
It's noble of you, but these things
happen in business.

BARTON
Mr. Lipnik, I really would feel much
better if you could reconsider –

LIPNIK
Ah, forget it, kid. I want you to
pull this out of your head. If that
sonofabitch wouldn't apologize to
you, goddammit, I will. I respect
your artistry and your methods, and
if you can't fill us in yet, well
hell, we should be kissing your feet
for your fine efforts.

He gets down on his knees in front of Barton.

LIPNIK
...You know in the old country we
were taught, as very young children,
that there's no shame in supplicatin'
yourself when you respect someone.

Barton stares, horrified, at Lipnik, on the ground at his
feet.

LIPNIK
...On behalf of Capitol Pictures,
the administration, and all a the
stockholders, please accept this as
a symbol of our apology and respect.

BARTON'S POV

Lipnik kisses his shoe and looks up at him.

Behind Lipnik the pool glitters.

BARTON'S ROOM

The cut has a hard musical sting. Out of the sting comes a
loud but distorted thumping noise.

We are looking down, high angle, form one corner of the room.
We are presented with a motionless tableau: Barton sits,
hunched, in the far corner, elbows on knees, staring at the
bed in front of him. He wears only trousers and a T-shirt
and his body and face glisten with sweat. The bed's sheets
have been stripped and the ratty gray mattress has an enormous
rust-red stain in the middle.

After a beat, in the foreground, the only motion in the scene:
A bead of tacky yellow wall-sweat dribbles down the near
wall.

Silence, then the thumping repeats, resolving itself to a
knock at the door.

Barton rises slowly and crosses to the door.

THE DOOR

Barton opens it to Charlie, who is dressed in a baggy suit,
his hair slicked back, a tan fedora pushed back on his head.
It is the first time we have seen him well turned out.

A battered briefcase is on the floor next to him. He holds a
parcel in his left hand, about one foot square, wrapped in
brown paper and tied up with twine.

CHARLIE
Barton. Can I come in?

Barton stands back from the door and Charlie picks up his
briefcase and enters.

THE ROOM

As the two men enter.

BARTON
Jesus... You're leaving.

CHARLIE
Have to, old timer. Just for a while.

Barton sounds desperate:

BARTON
Jesus, Charlie, I...

CHARLIE
Everything's okay, believe me. I
know it's rough mentally, but
everything's taken care of.

BARTON
Charlie! I've got no one else here!
You're the only person I know in Los
Angeles...

He starts weeping

BARTON
...that I can talk to.

Charlie, also disturbed and unhappy, wraps both arms around
Barton.

Barton sobs unashamedly into his shoulder. Charlie is somber.

CHARLIE
It's okay... It's okay...

BARTON
Charlie, I feel like I'm going crazy
– like I'm losing my mind. I don't
know what to do... I didn't do it,
believe me. I'm sure of that, Charlie.
I just...

His breath comes in short gasping heaves.

BARTON
...I just don't know what... to do–

CHARLIE
You gotta get a grip on, brother.
You gotta just carry on – just for a
few days, till I get back. Try and
stay here, keep your door locked.
Don't talk to anyone. We just gotta
keep our heads and we'll figure it
out.

BARTON
Yeah, but Charlie –

CHARLIE
Dammit, don't argue with me. You
asked me to believe you – well I do.
Now don't argue with me.

He looks at Barton for a beat.

CHARLIE
...Look, pal – can you do something
for me?

Charlie hands him his parcel.

CHARLIE
...Keep this for me, till I get back.

Barton, snuffling, accepts the package.

CHARLIE
...It's just personal stuff. I don't
wanna drag it with me, but I don't
trust 'em downstairs, and I'd like
to think it's in good hands.

Still snuffling:

BARTON
Sure, Charlie.

CHARLIE
Funny, huh, when everything that's
important to a guy, everything he
wants to keep from a lifetime – when
he can fit it into a little box like
that. I guess... I guess it's kind
of pathetic.

Wallowing in self-pity:

BARTON
It's more than I've got.

CHARLIE
Well, keep it for me. Maybe it'll
bring you good luck. Yeah, it'll
help you finish your script. You'll
think about me...

He thumps his chest.

CHARLIE
...Make me your wrestler. Then you'll
lick that story of yours.

Barton is tearfully sincere:

BARTON
Thanks, Charlie.

Charlie solemnly thrusts out his hand.

CHARLIE
Yeah, well, see you soon, friend.
You're gonna be fine.

Barton shakes. As they walk to the door:

BARTON
You'll be back?

CHARLIE
Don't worry about that, compadre.
I'll be back.

Barton shuts the door behind Charlie, locks it, and turns
around.

HIS POV

The room. The bed. The blood-stained mattress.

Barton walks across the room and sits carefully at the edge
of the bed, avoiding the rust-colored stain. For a long beat,
he sits still, but something is building inside.

Finally, when we hear the distant ding of the elevator
arriving for Charlie, it erupts:

Barton sobs, with the unself-conscious grief of an abandoned
child.

HIGH WIDE SHOT

Barton weeping, alone on the bed, next to the rust-colored
stain.

FADE OUT

FADE IN:

BATHING BEAUTY

With the fade in, the sound of the surf mixes up.

We pan down the picture to discover that a snapshot has been
tucked into a corner of the picture frame: it is the snap of
Charlie, smiling and waving, with his foot up on the running
board of the 1939 Ford roadster.

BARTON

Sitting at the desk, staring at the picture. From his glazed
eyes and the way his mouth hangs open, we may assume he has
been staring at the picture for some time.

He notices something on the desk and picks it up.

HIS POV

The Holy Bible – Placed by the Gideons.

Barton opens it, randomly, to the Book of Daniel. The text
is set in ornately Gothic type.

"5. And the king, Nebuchadnezzar, answered and said to the
Chaldeans, I recall not my dream; if ye will not make known
unto me my dream, and its interpretation, ye shall be cut in
pieces, and of your tents shall be made a dunghill."

BARTON

Staring at the passage. His mouth hangs open.

THE BIBLE

Barton riffles to the first page.

In bold type at the top:

"THE BOOK OF GENESIS"

Underneath, in the same ornately Gothic type:

"Chapter One 1. Fade in on a tenement building on Manhattan's
Lower East Side. Faint traffic noise is audible; 2. As is
the cry of fishmongers."

BARTON

Squinting at the page through bloodshot eyes.

His mouth hangs open.

BARTON'S ROOM – DAY

At the cut the harsh clackety-clack of typing bangs in.
Sunlight burns against the sheers of Barton's window, making
it a painfully bright patch in the room which itself remains
fairly dim.

Barton sits at the secretary, typing furiously.

He finishes a page, yanks it out of the carriage, and places
it face-down on a short stack of face-down pages.

He feeds in a blank sheet and resumes his rapid typing. He
is sweating, unshaven, and more haggard even than when we
left him the previous night.

The telephone rings. After several rings Barton stops typing
and answers it, absently, still looking at his work. His
voice is hoarse.

BARTON
Hello... Chet... Who?...

He puts the receiver down on the desk, leans over the
typewriter, and examines something he has just written.

He picks the phone back up and listens for a beat.

BARTON
... No, don't send them up here.
I'll be right down.

ELEVATOR

A small oscillating fan whirs up in a corner of the elevator.

We pan down to Barton, who is riding down with Pete, the old
elevator operator. Barton's voice is hoarse with fatigue.

BARTON
...You read the Bible, Pete?

PETE
Holy Bible?

BARTON
Yeah.

PETE
I think so... Anyway, I've heard
about it.

Barton nods.

They ride for a beat.

LOBBY

Late afternoon sun slants in from one side. The lobby has
the same golden ambiance as when first we saw it.

Barton is walking toward two wing chairs in the shadows,
from which two men in suits are rising. One is tall, the
other short.

POLICEMAN
Fink?

BARTON
Yeah.

POLICEMAN #2
Detective Mastrionotti.

POLICEMAN #1
Detective Deutsch.

MASTRIONOTTI
L.A.P.D.

BARTON
Uh-huh.

All three sit in ancient maroon swing chairs. Mastrionotti
perches on the edge of his chair; Deutsch slumps back in the
shadows, studying Barton.

DEUTSCH
Got a couple questions to ask ya.

MASTRIONOTTI
What do you do, Fink?

Still hoarse:

BARTON
I write.

DEUTSCH
Oh yeah? What kind of write?

BARTON
Well as a matter of fact, I write
for the pictures.

MASTRIONOTTI
Big fuckin' deal.

DEUTSCH
You want my partner to kiss your
ass?

MASTRIONOTTI
Would that be good enough for ya?

BARTON
No, I – I didn't mean to sound –

DEUTSCH
What DID you mean?

BARTON
I – I've got respect for – for working
guys, like you –

MASTRIONOTTI
Jesus! Ain't that a load off! You
live in 605?

BARTON
Yeah.

DEUTSCH
How long you been up there, Fink?

BARTON
A week, eight, nine days –

MASTRIONOTTI
Is this multiple choice?

BARTON
Nine days – Tuesday –

DEUTSCH
You know this slob?

He is holding a small black-and-white photograph out toward
Barton.

There is a long beat as Barton studies the picture.

BARTON
...Yeah, he... he lives next door to
me.

MASTRIONOTTI
That's right, Fink, he lives next
door to you.

DEUTSCH
Ever talk to him?

BARTON
...Once or twice. His name is Charlie
Meadows.

MASTRIONOTTI
Yeah, and I'm Buck Rogers.

DEUTSCH
His name is Mundt. Karl Mundt.

MASTRIONOTTI
Also known as Madman Mundt.

DEUTSCH
He's a little funny in the head.

BARTON
What did... What did he –

MASTRIONOTTI
Funny. As in, he likes to ventilate
people with a shotgun and then cut
their heads off.

DEUTSCH
Yeah, he's funny that way.

BARTON
I...

MASTRIONOTTI
Started in Kansas City. Couple of
housewives.

DEUTSCH
Couple of days ago we see the same
M.O. out in Los Feliz.

MASTRIONOTTI
Doctor. Ear, nose and throat man,.

DEUTSCH
All of which he's now missin'.

MASTRIONOTTI
Well, some of his throat was there.

DEUTSCH
Physician, heal thyself.

MASTRIONOTTI
Good luck with no fuckin' head.

DEUTSCH
Anyway.

MASTRIONOTTI
Hollywood precinct finds another
stiff yesterday. Not too far from
here. This one's better looking than
the doc.

DEUTSCH
Female caucasian, thirty years old.
Nice tits. No head. You ever see
Mundt with anyone meets that
description?

MASTRIONOTTI
But, you know, with the head still
on.

BARTON
...No. I never saw him with anyone
else.

DEUTSCH
So. You talked to Mundt, what about?

BARTON
Nothing, really. Said he was in the
insurance business.

Deutsch indicates Mastrionotti.

DEUTSCH
Yeah, and he's Buck Rogers.

MASTRIONOTTI
No reputable company would hire a
guy like that.

BARTON
Well that's what he said.

DEUTSCH
What else?

BARTON
He... I'm trying to think... Nothing,
really... He... He said he liked
Jack Oakie pictures.

Mastrionotti looks at Deutsch. Deutsch looks at Mastrionotti.
After a beat, Mastrionotti looks back at Barton.

MASTRIONOTTI
Ya know, Fink, ordinarily we say
anything you might remember could be
helpful. But I'll be frank with you:
That is not helpful.

DEUTSCH
Ya see how he's not writing it down?

MASTRIONOTTI
Fink. That's a Jewish name, isn't
it?

BARTON
Yeah.

Mastrionotti gets to his feet, looking around the lobby.

MASTRIONOTTI
Yeah, I didn't think this dump was
restricted.

He digs in his pocket.

MASTRIONOTTI
...Mundt has disappeared. I don't
think he'll be back. But...

He hands Barton a card.

MASTRIONOTTI
...give me a call if you see him. Or
if you remember something that isn't
totally idiotic.

BARTON'S ROOM

We are tracking toward the paper-wrapped parcel that sits on
the nightstand next to Barton's bed.

Barton enters and picks it up. He holds it for a beat, looking
at it, then brings it over to the secretary and sits.

He shakes it.

No sound; whatever is inside is well packed.

Barton holds it up to his ear and listens for a long beat,
as if it were a seashell and he is listening for the surf.

Finally he puts it on his desk, beneath the picture of the
bathing beauty, and starts typing, quickly and steadily.

DISSOLVE

THROUGH TO:

REVERSE

Some time later; Barton still types. He is face to us; beyond
him we can see the bed with its rust-colored stain.

The phone rings. Barton ignores it. It continues to ring.

Barton rises and exits frame; we hold on to the bed in the
background. We hear Barton's footsteps on the bathroom tile
as the phone continues ringing.

Barton sits back into frame stuffing cotton into each ear.
He resumes typing.

ANOTHER ANGLE

Barton typing. The desk trembles under the working of the
typewriter. Charlie's parcel chatters.

Barton takes a finished page out of the carriage and places
it face down on the growing stack to his right. He feeds in
a new page. We hear the muted ding of the elevator down the
hall. Barton resumes typing.

We hear a knock on Barton's door. Barton does not react,
apparently not hearing.

THE DOORWAY

We are close on the bottom of the door. Someone in the hallway
is sliding a note beneath the door; then his shadow disappears
and his footsteps recede.

The note is a printed message headed: "While You Were Out...
" Underneath are the printed words: "You were called by"
and, handwritten in the space following: "Mr. Ben Geisler."

Handwritten below, in the message space:

"Thank you. Lipnik loved your meeting. Keep up the good work."

Barton's offscreen typing continues steadily.

FADE OUT

HALLWAY

A perfectly symmetrical wide low angle shot of the empty
hall. Shoes are set put in front of each door except for
one in the middle background.

At the cut in we hear faint, regular typing.

We hold for a beat. There is no motion. The long, empty hall.
The distant typing.

We hold.

The typing stops. There is a beat of quiet.

It is broken by the sound of a door opening. It is the
shoeless door in the middle background.

A hand reaches out to place a pair of shoes in the doorway.

The hand withdraws.

The door closes.

A short beat of silence.

The distant typing resumes.

The long empty hall. The distant typing.

FADE OUT

OVER THE BLACK

We hear the distant sound of a woman's voice, tinny and
indistinct.

WOMAN
Just a minute and I'll connect you...

FADE IN:

CLOSE ON BARTON

His eyes are red-rimmed and wild. He sits on the edge of his
bed holding the phone to his ear.

His voice is unnaturally loud:

BARTON
Hello? Operator! I can't... Oh!

He stops, reaches up, takes a cotton wad out of his ear.

We hear various clicks and clacks as the telephone lines
switch, and then a distant ring. The phone rings three or
four times before it is answered by a groggy voice.

VOICE
...Hello.

BARTON
Garland, it's me.

GARLAND
Barton? What time is it? Are you all
right?

BARTON
Yeah, I'm fine, Garland – I have to
talk to you. I'm calling long
distance.

GARLAND
Okay.

Muffled, we hear Garland speaking to someone else.

GARLAND
...It's Barton. Calling long distance.

Back into the receiver:

GARLAND
...What is it Barton? Are you okay?

BARTON
I'm fine, garland, but I have to
talk with you.

GARLAND
Go ahead, son.

BARTON
It's about what I'm writing, Garland.
It's really... I think it's really
big.

GARLAND
What do you mean, Barton?

BARTON
Not big in the sense of large –
although it's that too. I mean
important. This may be the most
IMPORTANT work I've done.

GARLAND
Well, I'm... glad to hear that –

BARTON
Very important, Garland. I just
thought you should know that. Whatever
happens.

GARLAND
...That's fine.

BARTON
Have you read the Bible, Garland?

GARLAND
...Barton, is everything okay?

BARTON
Yes... Isn't it?

GARLAND
Well, I'm just asking. You sound a
little –

Guardedly:

BARTON
Sound a little what?

GARLAND
Well, you just... sound a little–

Bitterly:

BARTON
Thanks, Garland. Thanks for all the
encouragement.

He slams down the phone.

OVER HIS SHOULDER

A one-quarter shot on Barton from behind as he picks up the
cotton wad and sticks it back in his right ear.

He resumes typing, furiously.

After a beat he mutters, still typing.

BARTON
...Nitwit.

THE BATHING BEAUTY

Later. We hear typing and the roar of the surf.'

CLOSE ON TYPEWRITER

We are extremely close on the key-strike area. As we cut in
Barton is typing:

"p-o-s-t-c-a-r-d-."

The carriage returns a couple of times and "T-H-E–E-N-D" is
typed in.

The paper is ripped out of the carriage.

CLOSE ON A STACK OF PAGES

Lying face down on the desk; the last page is added, face
down, to the pile. The pile is picked up, its edges are
straightened with a couple of thumps against the desktop,
and then the pile is replaced on the desk, face up. The
title page reads:

"THE BURLYMAN
Motion Picture Scenario
By
Barton Fink"

Barton's right hand enters frame to deposit a small cotton
wad on top of the script.

Barton's left hand enters to deposit another small cotton
wad on top of the script.

We hear Barton walk away. We hear bath water run.

THE BATHING BEAUTY

Still looking out to sea.

USO HALL

We are booming down to the dance floor as a raucous band
plays an up-tempo number.

BARTON

Dancing animatedly, almost maniacally, his fingers jabbing
the air.

The hall is crowded, but Barton is one of few men not in
uniform.

USO GIRL

Giggling, dancing opposite Barton.

GIRL
You're cute!

BARTON

Caught up in his dancing, oblivious to the girl.

A white uniformed arm reaches in to tap Barton on the
shoulder.

SAILOR
'Scuse me, buddy, mind if I cut in?

Barton glares at him.

BARTON
This is MY dance, sailor!

SAILOR
C'mon buddy, I'm shipping out
tomorrow.

For some reason, Barton is angry.

BARTON
I'm a writer! Celebrating the
completion of something GOOD! Do
you understand that, sailor? I'm a
WRITER!

His bellowing has drawn onlookers' attention.

VOICES
Step aside, four-eyes! Let someone
else spin the dame! Give the navy a
dance! Hey, Four-F, take a hike!

Barton turns furiously against the crowd.

BARTON
I'm a writer, you monsters! I CREATE!
He points at his head.

BARTON
...This is my uniform!

He taps his skull.

BARTON
...THIS is how I serve the common
man! THIS is where I –

WHAPP! An infantry man tags Barton's chin on the button.
Bodies surge. The crowd gasps. The band blares nightmarishly
on.

HOTEL HALLWAY

Quiet at the cut.

After a beat, there is a faint ding at the end of the hall
and, as the elevator door opens, we faintly hear:

PETE
This stop: six.

Barton, disheveled, emerges and stumbles wearily down the
hall. He stops in front of his door, takes his key out, and
enters the room.

BARTON'S POV

Mastrionotti is sitting on the edge of the bed reading
Barton's manuscript.

Deutsch stands in front of the desk staring at the bathing
beauty.

MASTRIONOTTI
Mother: What is to become of him.
Father: We'll be hearing from that
crazy wrestler. And I don't mean a
postcard. Fade out. The end.

He looks up at Barton.

MASTRIONOTTI
...I thought you said you were a
writer.

DEUTSCH
I dunno, Duke. I kinda liked it.

BARTON
Keep your filthy eyes off that.

Deutsch turns toward Barton and throws a folded newspaper at
him.

DEUTSCH
You made morning papers, Fink.

Barton opens the paper. A headline reads: Writer Found
Headless in Chavez Ravine. The story has two pictures – a
studio publicity portrait of Mayhew, and a photograph of the
crime scene: two plainclothes detectives stare down into a
gulley as a uniformed cop restrains a pair of leashed dogs.

MASTRIONOTTI
Second one of your friends to end up
dead.

DEUTSCH
You didn't tell us you knew the dame.

With a jerk of his thumb, Mastrionotti indicates the
bloodstained bed.

MASTRIONOTTI
Sixth floor too high for you, Fink?

DEUTSCH
Give you nose bleeds?

Barton crosses the room and sits at the foot of the bed,
staring at the newspaper.

DEUTSCH
Just tell me one thing, Fink: Where'd
you put their heads?

Distractedly:

BARTON
Charlie... Charlie's back...

MASTRIONOTTI
No kidding, bright boy – we smelt
Mundt all over this. Was he the idea
man?

DEUTSCH
Tell us where the heads are, maybe
they'll go easy on you.

MASTRIONOTTI
Only fry you once.

Barton rubs his temples.

BARTON
Could you come back later? It's
just... too hot... My head is killing
me.

DEUTSCH
All right, forget the heads. Where's
Mundt, Fink?

MASTRIONOTTI
He teach you to do it?

DEUTSCH
You two have some sick sex thing?

BARTON
Sex?! He's a MAN! We WRESTLED!

MASTRIONOTTI
You're a sick fuck, Fink.

DEUTSCH
All right, moron, you're under arrest.

Barton seems oblivious to the two men.

BARTON
Charlie's back. It's hot... He's
back.

Down the hall we hear the ding of the arriving elevator.

Mastrionotti cocks his head with a quizzical look.

He rises and walks slowly out into the hall. Deutsch wathces
him go.

HIS POV

Mastrionotti in the hallway in full shot, framed by the door,
still looking puzzled.

MASTRIONOTTI
...Fred...

Deutsch stands and pushes his suit coat back past the gun on
his hip, revealing a pair of handcuffs on his belt. He
unhitches the cuffs and slips one around Barton's right wrist
and the other around a loop in the wrought iron footboard of
the bed.

DEUTSCH
Sit tight, Fink.

THE HALLWAY

As Deutsch joins Mastrionotti.

DEUTSCH
Why's it so goddamn hot out here?

MASTRIONOTTI
...Fred...

Deutsch looks where Mastrionotti is looking.

THE WALL

Tacky yellow fluid streams down. The walls are pouring sweat.

The hallway is quiet.

MASTRIONOTTI AND DEUTSCH

They look at each other. They look down the hall.

THEIR POV

The elevator stands open at the far end of the empty hall.

For a long beat, nothing.

Finally Pete, the elevator man, emerges.

At this distance, he is a small figure, stumbling this way
and that, his hands presseed against the sides of his head.

He turns to face Mastrionotti and Deutsch and takes a few
steps forward, still clutching his head.

MASTRIONOTTI AND DEUTSCH

Watching.

PETE

He takes on last step, then collapses.

As he pitches forward his hands fall away from his head. His
head separates from his neck, hits the floor, and rolls away
from his body with a dull irregular trundle sound.

MASTRIONOTTI AND DEUTSCH

Wide-eyed, they look at each other, then back down the hall.

All is quiet.

THE HALLWAY

Smoke is beginning to drift into the far end of the hall.

We hear a muted rumble.

MASTRIONOTTI AND DEUTSCH

Mastrionotti tugs at his tie. He slowly unholsters his gun.
Deutsch slowly, hypnotically, follows suit.

DEUTSCH
... Show yourself, Mundt!

More quiet.

THE HALLWAY

More smoke.

LOW STEEP ANGLE ON ELEVATOR DOOR

The crack where the floor of the elevator meets that of the
hall.

It flickers with red light from below. Bottom-lit smoke sifts
up.

CLOSE ON MASTRIONOTTI

Standing in the foreground, gun at ready. Sweat pours down
his face.

Behind him, Deutsch stands nervously in the light-spill from
Barton's doorway.

The rumble and crackle of fire grows louder.

THE HALLWAY

More smoke.

PATCH OF WALL

Sweating.

A swath of wallpaper sags away from the top of the wall,
exposing glistening lath underneath.

With a light airy pop, the lathwork catches on fire.

MASTRIONOTTI AND DEUTSCH

Sweating.

DEUTSCH
...Mundt!

THEIR POV

The hallway. Its end-facing-wall slowly spreads flame from
where the wallpaper droops.

LOW STEEP ANGLE ON ELEVATOR DOOR

More red bottom-lit smoke seeps up from the crack between
elevator and hallway floors.

With a groan of tension relieved cables and a swaying of the
elevator door, a pair of feet crosses the threshold into the
doorway.

JUMPING BACK

Wide on the hallway. Charlie Meadows has emerged from the
elevator and is hellishly backlit by the flame.

His suit coat hangs open. His hat is pushed back on his head.
From his right hand his briefcase dangles.

He stands motionless, facing us. There is something monumental
in his posture, shoulders thrown back.

MASTRIONOTTI

Tensed. Behind him, Deutsch gulps.

MASTRIONOTTI
There's a boy, Mundt. Put the policy
case down and your mitts in the air.

CHARLIE

He leans slowly down to put the briefcase on the floor.

CLOSE ON MASTRIONOTTI

Relax. He murmurs:

MASTRIONOTTI
He's complying.

BACK TO CHARLIE

He straightens up from the briefcase, a sawed-off shotgun in
his hands.

BOOM! The shotgun spits fire.

Mastrionotti's face is peppered by buckshot and he is blown
back down the hallway into Deutsch.

Bellowing fills the hallway over the roar of the fire:

CHARLIE
LOOK UPON ME! LOOK UPON ME! I'LL
SHOW YOU THE LIFE OF THE MIND!!

THE HALLWAY

The fire starts racing down the hallway.

CLOSE STEEP ANGLE ON PATCH OF WALL

Fire races along the wall-sweat goopus.

TRACK IN ON DEUTSCH

His eyes widen at Charlie and the approaching fire; his gun
dangles forgotten from his right hand.

HIS POV

Charlie is charging down the hallway, holding his shotgun
loosely in front of his chest, in double-time position. The
fire races along with him.

He is bellowing:

CHARLIE
LOOK UPON ME! I'LL SHOW YOU THE LIFE
OF THE MIND! I'LL SHOW YOU THE LIFE
OF THE MIND!

DEUTSCH

Terrified, he turns and runs.

REVERSE PULLING DEUTSCH

As he runs down the flaming hallway, pursued by flames, smoke,
and Karl Mundt – who, also on the run, levels his shotgun.

BOOM!

PUSHING DEUTSCH

His legs and feet spout blood, paddle futilely at the air,
then come down in a twisting wobble, like a car on blown
tires, and pitch him helplessly to the floor.

PULLING CHARLIE

He slows to a trot and cracks open the shotgun.

PUSHING DEUTSCH

Weeping and dragging himself forward on his elbows.

PULLING CHARLIE

He slows to a walk.

BARTON'S ROOM

Barton strains at his handcuffs.

HIS POV

Through the open doorway we see Charlie pass, pushing two
shells into his shotgun.

PULLING DEUTSCH

Charlie looms behind him and – THWACK – snaps the shotgun
closed.

Deutsch rolls over to rest on his elbows, facing Charlie.

Charlie primes the shotgun – CLACK.

He presses both barrels against the bridge of Deutsh's nose.

CHARLIE
Heil Hitler.

DEUTSCH

Screams.

CHARLIE

Tightens a finger over both triggers. He squeezes.

BLAM!

TRACK IN ON BARTON

He flinches.

The gunshot echoes away.

Barton strains at the handcuffs.

We hear Charlie's footsteps approach – slowly, heavily.

THE DOORWAY

Charlie, walking down the hall, glances in and seems mildly
surprised to see Barton. The set of his jaw relaxes. His
expression softens. He pushes his hat farther back on his
head.

CHARLIE
Barton!

He shakes is head and whistles.

CHARLIE
...Brother, is it hot.

He walks into the room.

BARTON'S ROOM

As Charlie wearily enters.

CHARLIE
How you been, buddy?

He props the shotgun in a corner and sits facing Barton, who
stared at him.

CHARLIE
...Don't look at me like that,
neighbor. It's just me – Charlie.

BARTON
I hear it's Mundt. Madman Mundt.

Charlie reaches a flask from his pocket.

CHARLIE
Jesus, people can be cruel...

He takes a long draught from his flask, then gives a haunted
stare.

CHARLIE
...if it's not my build, it's my
personality.

Charlie is perspiring heavily. The fire rumbles in the
hallway.

CHARLIE
...They say I'm a madman, Barton,
but I'm not mad at anyone. Honest
I'm not. Most guys I just feel sorry
for. Yeah. It tears me up inside, to
think about what they're going
through. How trapped they are. I
understand it. I feel for 'em. So I
try and help them out...

He reached up to loosen his tie and pop his collar button.

CHARLIE
...Jesus. Yeah. I know what it feels
like, when things get all balled up
at the head office. It puts you
through hell, Barton. So I help people
out. I just wish someone would do as
much for me...

He stares miserably down at his feet.

CHARLIE
...Jesus it's hot. Sometimes it gets
so hot, I wanna crawl right out of
my skin.

Self-pity:

BARTON
But Charlie – why me? Why –

CHARLIE
Because you DON'T LISTEN!

A tacky yellow fluid is dripping from Charlie's left ear and
running down his cheek.

CHARLIE
...Jesus, I'm dripping again.

He pulls some cotton from his pocket and plugs his ear.

CHARLIE
...C'mon Barton, you think you know
about pain? You think I made your
life hell? Take a look around this
dump. You're just a tourist with a
typewriter, Barton. I live here.
Don't you understand that...

His voice is becoming choked.

CHARLIE
...And you come into MY home... And
you complain that I'M making too...
much... noise.

He looks up at Barton.

There is a long silence.

Finally:

BARTON
...I'm sorry.

Wearily:

CHARLIE
Don't be.

He rises to his feet and kneels in front of Barton at the
foot of the bed.

The two men regard each other.

Charlie grabs two bars of the footboard frame, still staring
at Barton. His muscles tighten, though nothing moves. His
neck fans with effort. All of his muscles tense. His face
is a reddening grimace.

With a shriek of protest, the metal gives. The bar to which
Barton is handcuffed had come loose at the top and Barton
slides the cuff off it, free.

Charlie gets to his feet.

CHARLIE
I'm getting off the merry-go-round.

He takes his shotgun and walks to the door.

CHARLIE
...I'll be next door if you need me.

A thought stops him at the door and he turns to face Barton.
Behind him the hallway blazes.

CHARLIE
...Oh, I dropped in on your folks.
And Uncle Dave?

He smiles. Barton looks at him dumbly.

CHARLIE
...Good people. By the way, that
package I gave you? I lied. It isn't
mine.

He leaves.

Barton rises, picks up Charlie's parcel, and his script.

THE HALLWAY

As Barton emerges. Flames lick the walls, causing the
wallpaper to run with the tack glue sap. Smoke fills the
hallway. Barton looks down the hall.

HIS POV

Charlie stands in front of the door to his room, his briefcase
dangling from one hand, his other hand fumbling in his pocket
for his key.

With his hat pushed back on his head and his shoulders slumped
with fatigue, he could be any drummer returning to any hotel
after a long hard day on the road.

He opens the door and goes into his room.

BACK TO BARTON

He turns and walks up the hallway, his script in one hand,
the parcel in the other.

A horrible moaning sound – almost human – can be heard under
the roar of the fire.

BLACKNESS

STUDIO HALLWAY

We are tracking laterally across the lobby of an executive
building. From offscreen we hear:

BARTON
Fink! Morris or Lillian Fink! Eighty-
five Fulton Street!

Filtered through phone:

OPERATOR
I understand that, sir –

BARTON
Or Uncle Dave!

Our track has brought Barton into frame in the foreground,
unshaven, unkempt, bellowing into the telephone. In a hallway
in the background, a secretary gestures for Barton to hurry
up.

OPERATOR
I understand that, sir, but there's
still no answer. Shall I check for
trouble on the line?

Barton slams down the phone.

LIPNIK'S OFFICE

Barton enters, still clinging on to Charlie's parcel.

Lou Breeze stands in one corner censoriously watching Barton.
Lipnik is at the far end of the room, gazing out the window.

LIPNIK
Fink.

BARTON
Mr. Lipnik.

LIPNIK
Colonel Lipnik, if you don't mind.

He turns to face Barton and we see that he is wearing a
smartly pressed uniform with a lot of fruit salad on the
chest.

LIPNIK
...Siddown.

Barton takes a seat facing Lipnik's desk.

LIPNIK
...I was commissioned yesterday in
the Army Reserve. Henry Morgenthau
arranged it. He's a dear friend.

BARTON
Congratulations.

LIPNIK
Actually it hasn't officially gone
through yet. Had wardrobe whip this
up. You gotta pull teeth to get
anything done in this town. I can
understand a little red tape in
peacetime, but now it's all-out
warfare against the Japs. Little
yellow bastards. They'd love to see
me sit this one out.

BARTON
Yes sir, they –

LIPNIK
Anyway, I had Lou read your script
for me.

He taps distastefully at the script on his desk, which has a
slightly charred title page.

LIPNIK
...I gotta tell you, Fink. It won't
wash.

BARTON
With all due respect, sir, I think
it's the best work I've done.

LIPNIK
Don't gas me, Fink. If you're opinion
mattered, then I guess I'd resign
and let YOU run the the studio. It
doesn't and you won't, and the
lunatics are not going to run THIS
particular asylum. So let's put a
stop to THAT rumor right now.

Listlessly:

BARTON
Yes sir.

LIPNIK
I had to call Beery this morning,
let him know we were pushing the
picture back. After all I'd told
him about quality, about that Barton
Fink feeling. How disappointed we
were. Wally was heartbroken. The man
was devastated. He was – well, I
didn't actually call him, Lou did.
But that's a fair description, isn't
it Lou?

LOU
Yes, Colonel.

LIPNIK
Hell, I could take you through it
step by step, explain why your story
stinks, but I won't insult your
intelligence. Well all right, first
of all: This is a wrestling picture;
the audience wants to see action,
drama, wrestling, and plenty of it.
They don't wanna see a guy wrestling
with his soul – well, all right, a
little bit, for the critics – but
you make it the carrot that wags the
dog. Too much of it and they head
for exits and I don't blame 'em.
There's plenty of poetry right inside
that ring, Fink. Look at "Hell Ten
Feet Square".

LOU
"Blood, Sweat, and Canvas".

LIPNIK
Look at "Blood, Sweat, and Canvas".
These are big movies, Fink. About
big men, in tights – both physically
and mentally. But especially
physically. We don't put Wallace
Beery in some fruity movie about
suffering – I thought we were together
on that.

BARTON
I'm sorry if I let you down.

LIPNIK
You didn't let ME down. Or even Lou.
We don't live or die by what you
scribble, Fink. You let Ben Geisler
down. He liked you. Trusted you. And
that's why he's gone. Fired. That
guy had a heart as big as the
outdoors, and you fucked him. He
tried to convince me to fire you
too, but that would be too easy. No,
you're under contract and you're
gonna stay that way. Anything you
write will be the property of Capitol
Pictures. And Capitol Pictures will
not produce anything you write. Not
until you grow up a little. You ain't
no writer, Fink – you're a goddamn
write-off.

BARTON
I tried to show you something
beautiful. Something about all of
US –

This sets Lipnik off:

LIPNIK
You arrogant sonofabitch! You think
you're the only writer who can give
me that Barton Fink feeling?! I got
twenty writers under contract that I
can ask for a Finktype thing from.
You swell-headed hypocrite! You
just don't get it, do you? You think
the whole world revolves inside
whatever rattles inside that little
kike head of yours. Get him outta my
sight, Lou. Make sure he stays in
town, though; he's still under
contract. I want you in town, Fink,
and outta my sight. Now get lost.
There's a war on.

THE SURF

Crashing against the Pacific shore.

THE BEACH

At midday, almost deserted. In the distance we see Barton
walking.

The paper-wrapped parcel swings from the twine in his left
hand.

BARTON

He walks a few more paces and sits down on the sand, looking
out to see. His gaze shifts to one side.

HIS POV

Down the beach, a bathing beauty walks along the edge of the
water. She looks much like the picture on the wall in Barton's
hotel room.

BARTON

He stares, transfixed, at the woman.

THE WOMAN

Very beautiful, backlit by the sun, approaching.

BARTON

Following her with his eyes.

THE WOMAN

Her eyes meet Barton's. She says something, but her voice is
lost in the crash of the surf.

Barton cups a hand to his ear.

BEAUTY
I said it's a beautiful day...

BARTON
Yes... It is...

BEAUTY
What's in the box?

Barton shrugs and shakes his head.

BARTON
I don't know.

BEAUTY
Isn't it yours?

BARTON
I... I don't know...

She nods and sits down on the sand several paces away from
him, facing the water but looking back over her shoulder at
Barton.

BARTON
...You're very beautiful. Are you in
pictures?

She laughs.

BEAUTY
Don't be silly.

She turns away to look out at the sea.

WIDER

Facing the ocean. Barton sits in the middle foreground, back
to us, the box in the sand next to him.

The bathing beauty sits, back to us, in the middle background.
The surf pounds.

The sun sparkles off the water.

THE END

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