"EIGHT SCENES FROM THE LIFE OF HANK WILLIAMS"

Screenplay by

Paul Schrader

Draft Script

UNPRODUCED



CREDITS

The camera opens tight on Hank Williams' face: cold, puffy,
ghostly white.

In the background, a male quartet sings an off-key version
of "I Saw the Light."

Hank wears his white double-breasted suit with black piping.
His lips are pinched without expression. He says nothing.

The camera pulls back, revealing Hank Williams stretched out
in his coffin. A wail is heard in the distance.

A floral arrangement in the shape of an open Bible stands at
the head of the casket; a guitar-shaped arrangement at the
foot. Between them is a large pillow of white carnations
studded with quarter notes fashioned from gold foil.

Continuing to boom, the camera pulls away from Hank's body,
over the stage and tilts to face the 3,000 mourners crammed
into Montgomery's Municipal Auditorium.

It is January 4, 1953. Standing with their backs to the
camera, the quintet continues to sing: Roy Acuff, Little
Jimmy Dickens, Carl Smith, Ernest Tubb and Red Foley. Hank's
band, The Drifting Cowboys, accompanies them.

The camera tracks through the quintet, over the casket and
past the tearful faces of those who have played roles in
Hank Williams' short life: his mother Lillian, his first
wife, Audrey, and children, Randall and Lycrecia. In the
second row are Billie Jean, his second wife, and Miss Ragland,
the governess. Further back are friends and associates: Fred
Rose, Lum York, Minnie Pearl, Ray Price, Jim Denny, Vic
McAlpin, Faron Young, Nudie, Dudley LeBlanc, and Billy Walker.

But, mostly, the camera passes sad rows of simply-dressed
people who have traveled hundreds of miles to pay homage to
a man who they only knew by the sound of his voice.

OUTSIDE, a throng estimated at 20,000 persons crowds into
the streets surrounding the red brick, neo-classic Auditorium.
Two flatbed trucks of flowers wait the funeral procession.
Perry Street is a sea of somberly dressed men and women.

Hank Williams' funeral was the largest single outpouring of
public grief in Montgomery's history, equaled only by that
for Martin Luther King fifteen years later.

END CREDITS

FADE TO A TITLE READING:

THE HONKY TONKS

Spring, 1945

INT. CLUB 31 - NIGHT

HANK WILLIAMS, 21-years-old and in the full prime of his
life, whips out a long leg, hunches over and sets into "Honky-
Tonkin'." He looks awkward and gangling, like a good meal
and a little love would do him. His voice cuts through the
room like a buzz saw through new pine:

"Just come to see me baby, and bring along some dough, and
we'll go honky-tonkin'..."

Hank wears a western shirt with a double-breasted weskit, a
Cattleman hat over his forehead, cowboy slacks and boots.
The "Drifting Cowboys" wear whatever they want. DON HELMS
plays steel guitar. LUM YORK, the bass player who doubles as
a comedian, wears polkadot makeup, a blacked-out tooth and
pants cut from a potato sack.

Club 31 was a roadhouse on U.S. 31, the two-lane blacktop
which leads south from Montgomery toward the rural Alabama
towns where Hank Williams was born and raised. It was one of
those honky-tonks where, Don Helms later said, "they sweep
out the eyeballs with the glass in the morning."

The room is stripped to the essentials: walls, tables, bar,
stage. Everything else has been broken in weekly brawls.

The crowd is an unstable mixture of hillbillies, factory
workers and servicemen from nearby Maxwell Air Force Base.
Wartime tarts rub elbows with roughhewn country women in
print dresses.

Hank's wife, AUDREY, 22, takes tickets at the door.
Attractive, but not beautiful. Her shoulder-length auburn
hair gives Audrey a distinctive appearance -- as does her
dress: a blouse and vest, jodhpur breeches and cowboy boots.

A steady stream of customers pass in and out of the club.

CUT TO:

EXT. CLUB 31 - NIGHT

A group of young bucks cluster around their cars, pouring
their Co'-Colas on the ground. One young man then assists
the others, refilling their Coke bottles from a "spot bottle"
of bootleg whiskey. Lownes County, like most of Alabama, was
legally dry -- a fact which raised Southern manhood to rare
heights of resourcefulness.

CUT TO:

INT. CLUB 31 - NIGHT

The crowd is getting "ripe." The band members exchange nervous
glances.

But not Hank. Hitting the second stanza of "Honky-Tonkin',"
he juts his right shoulder out and wobbles his knees back
and forth. His thin, angular face ripples with an emotional
wail.

These are not unconscious mannerisms. Hank knows exactly
what he's doing: he's playing to the ladies. He lays those
lonesome brown eyes on each woman as if she's the only one
in the room.

The effect is not lost on the women in the audience -- nor
on their husbands and dates.

One drunken LOCAL BRUISER, fed up with watching his wife
moon over Hank, pulls himself to his feet, staggers over to
the stage and calls out:

LOCAL BRUISER
My wife listens to your goddam show
on the radjo every morning, and I
tol her if she listened to you again
I wuz gonna hit her right square
upside the head.

The Drifting Cowboys stop playing. Lum pulls a blackjack out
of his baggy pants. Don Helms tucks his glasses into his
shirt pocket.

Hank picks a Coke off an upright speaker, takes a swig (his
grimace indicates it contains more than soda pop), and turns
to the drunk:

HANK
Well, boy, why don't ya just turn it
off? That's why they put knobs on
the thang.

LOCAL BRUISER
Come to think about it, I'ma gonna
beat the shit outa you rat now.

The bruiser charges toward Hank. The Drifting Cowboys, packing
their instruments, head toward the rear exit.

Hank defends himself the only way possible -- with his guitar.
The Local Bruiser catches a Sunburst right square in the
face as the club breaks into bedlam.

CUT TO:

EXT. ALABAMA ROAD - NIGHT

Hank and Audrey's 1939 grey Chevy makes its way down the
dark country roads toward Montgomery. Lum's bass protrudes
from the trunk. The old car slows down, sputters and starts
up again.

CUT TO:

INT. CAR - NIGHT

The occupants rock with the car. Hank is slouched in the
rear seat with Audrey and Lum. Don Helms is at the wheel.

The Bailey Brothers sing "The Sweetest Gift" over the static-
filled radio. The jerking car near spills the whiskey from
the bottle cradled between Hank's legs.

HANK
Damn, Shag. What all was that?

DON HELMS
Jus be happy if this heap makes it
at all, Hank.

HANK
Where we goin' this weekend?

AUDREY
'Round home. Andulusia, Enterprise,
Camden.

HANK
Good folks in Andulusia. Momma always
booked me there. Play for them folks
all night. Not like these boys back
here. They don't come to listen,
they come to fight.

Hank slips his hat off, cradles his head against Audrey's
shoulder and tries to sleep.

DON HELMS
Don't worry. Won't be long we'll see
the light from the Montgomery beacon.
Then we'll know we'll make it.

CUT TO:

EXT. LILLY'S BOARDING HOUSE - NIGHT

The Drifting Cowboys straggle into Lilly's two-story wood-
frame house on Katoma Street in downtown Montgomery.

CUT TO:

INT. LILLY'S BOARDING HOUSE - NIGHT

The band members drag-ass down the hallway. The air smells
of musty wood, yellowed wallpaper and cheap perfume. A young
soldier, saying goodnight to a "girlfriend," steps out of a
room and passes them.

Hank, Audrey and various Cowboys stayed at Lilly's until
they moved to Shreveport in 1948. The boarding house was
also home base for a number of single girls without visible
means of support. The War brought servicemen to Montgomery,
and with the servicemen came indigent girls from outlying
communities. On a single night in 1945, the police picked up
350 girls for prostitution in downtown Montgomery. Not
coincidentally, Lilly's boarding house was down the block
from The Jefferson Davis, Montgomery's largest hotel.

LILLIAN STONE, 47, standing in the black dress she wore all
her life, waits in the hall for her son. Mrs. Stone stood
5'11", weighed 200 pounds and was, by the most generous
accounts, decisive, tough-talking and high-tempered. "She
had a strong punch and would lay you out just like a man,"
Lum York recalls.

LILLIAN
(ignoring others)
Hiram.

Hank embraces her.

HANK
Momma.

LILLIAN
Where's your gui-tar?

HANK
Lost it again, Momma.

Hank, tired and drunk, heads for his room. The Drifting
Cowboys file into another room as Lilly corners Audrey:

LILLIAN
How much did you get?

AUDREY
Fifty-five bucks.

LILLIAN
Where is it?

CUT TO:

INT. HANK AND AUDREY'S ROOM - NIGHT

Hank removes the .38 he wore to the honky-tonks from his
waistband and sets it on the walnut dresser. He pulls off
his boots, unbuttons his shirt and plops down on the bed.

Snapshots of Lilly and other relatives stand on the dresser
next to Hank's pistol. Two shotguns rest against the floral
wallpaper.

Hank can hear Audrey and Lilly through the door:

AUDREY (O.S.)
I had to pay the boys.

LILLY (O.S.)
So?

AUDREY (O.S.)
Then Hank and me.

LILLY (O.S.)
Where's my boarding money?

AUDREY (O.S.)
You'll get it. Hank broke a guitar.
He has to get a new one.

LILLY (O.S.)
Where's Hiram? I'll ask him.

AUDREY (O.S.)
Don't bother him. He's got to be on
radio by six.

Lilly calls out in her sing-song "poor me" voice for Hank to
overhear:

LILLY (O.S.)
Hiram wouldn't do that to his Momma.
I'll see him. I need the money
tomorra.

AUDREY (O.S.)
Don't be giving me that crap. You
liquor him up so you can take his
money.

LILLY (O.S.)
Somebody has to look out for him.

AUDREY (O.S.)
That's just what I'm doin.

There are sounds of footsteps as Lilly heads towards Hank's
room and Audrey grabs her. Scuffling and fighting are heard
outside the door. Hank pulls his pale white "Cattleman" cowboy
hat over his eyes and drifts off to sleep.

CUT TO:

INT. DOTHAN RADIO STUDIO - DAY

The local DOTHAN DJ sits at the oversized WAGF microphone
with PEE WEE KING. The station's small second-floor studio
gives them a panoramic view of Dothan, a sleepy peanut-farming
town.

Pee Wee, 31, wears a grey-and-black double-breasted western
suit and slicked down hair. MINNIE PEARL, 33, wearing a print
dress, stands behind them.

DOTHAN D.J.
(obsequious)
Again, we'uns want to thank Pee Wee
King for takin' tahm out of his busy
schedule to drop by WAGF, the Voice
of Southeast Alabama, to chew a few
words with us. Pee Wee and his Golden
West Cowboys will be with the Camel
Caravan gang over at the Arm'ry
tonight at 8 o'clock. Thank ya again,
Pee Wee.

PEE WEE KING
Anytime, Riley. It's my pleasure and
honor to be entertainin' you folks
in Dothan and hope to enjoy you'all
in person tonight.

DOTHAN D.J.
Along with Pee Wee will be appearin'
Becky Barkly singin' her new song,
"My Cowboy's Riding Now for Uncle
Sam" and also a gal known well to
all you folks, "The Gossip of
Grinder's Switch," Cousin Minnie
Pearl.

Pee Wee gets up and walks off as Minnie takes his seat by
the mike.

MINNIE PEARL
How-dee!

DOTHAN D.J.
How's thangs in Grinder's Switch,
Minnie?

CUT TO:

INT. DOTHAN STATION CORRIDOR - DAY

Pee Wee walks out of the studio and runs into Hank and Audrey
waiting in the narrow corridor. Hank, wearing an oversized
double-breasted brown suit, boots and a Stetson, gets up off
his haunches as Pee Wee approaches.

Minnie Pearl's voice is heard in the background:

MINNIE PEARL (O.S.)
Thangs hain't so well at the Switch,
Riley. Uncle Nabob has done takin'
hisself plumb sick and sez he hain't
a-gonna till no land no more. He jus
wants to dis-till it...

Hank approaches Pee Wee King:

HANK
King?

PEE WEE KING
Howdy, Hank. What brings you here?

HANK
Me an' the boys playing a schoolhouse
in Slocomb. Got some new songs here,
King, thought you might take a listen.

PEE WEE KING
You know that poem you wuz playing
in Montgomery, "Waitin' for the Day
Peace'll Come"?
(Hank nods)
I've been thinkin'. Maybe Becky could
use that.

HANK
If you want it, King, it's yours.
Take it. You can be co-writer.

PEE WEE KING
Can't do that, Hank. Got to make it
legal. Make it for "one dollar and
other considerations."

HANK
Not a buck, King. Can't you make it
a little more?

Minnie steps out of the studio and walks up to them.

PEE WEE KING
Minnie, you know Hank Williams?

Minnie Pearl, off-mike, drops her exaggerated accent and
becomes plain old Sarah Cooley, graduate of Ward-Belmont
College.

MINNIE PEARL
No, but I've heard his name
hereabouts.

PEE WEE KING
This here's Hank and his wife Audrey.

Hank, in awe of no one, makes a polite introduction. Audrey's
eyes reflect a different reaction: she is greatly impressed
by those with more, power or "culture."

HANK
Pleased to meet you, Miz Pearl.

AUDREY
How you feeling?

MINNIE PEARL
Not so good. Got the worse kind of
headache.

AUDREY
Let's go to the drugstore and get
some 'monia.

Audrey and Minnie walk off and Hank turns back to Pee Wee:

HANK
I'll tell you, King, you make it ten
bucks and I know a boy who can get
us some Southern Comfort.

CUT TO:

EXT. SLOCOMB SCHOOLHOUSE - NIGHT

During the day the white, tin-roofed one-room building serves
as a classroom for grades 1-12; during the evenings it's the
social center for eastern Geneva County.

Fifty cars, trucks and pick-ups are parked along the red-
dirt road. A sandwich sign in front of the schoolhouse reads:
"Hank Williams Tonight."

CUT TO:

INT. SLOCOMB SCHOOLHOUSE - NIGHT

The thirty pew-like rows of seats are crowded with all manner
of country folk: from plain-faced women in gingham dresses
to obese "good ol' boy" caricatures in their Sunday-go-to-
meetin's.

Hank, on stage with the Cowboys, wears a bright hand-painted
tie to offset his somber double-breasted suit. Hank preferred
double breasted suits with padded shoulders -- in fashion or
not -- because they filled out his spindle-shanked frame.
His tie is slightly off-center.

Audrey, dressed in a fringed cowgirl outfit, stands behind
Hank. Lum York, wearing black-face and baggy pants, stands
by Hank, who plays the straightman.

No microphone is needed: every word echoes through the small
room.

LUM YORK
(shuffling)
Whys, Mistuh Hank, you don' beleeb
in dose ghosts?

Hank is a seasoned stage performer. He's been playing
churches, schoolhouses, bus stops and honky-tonks since he
was fifteen. He knows all the ways to manipulate crowds,
when to evoke laughter or tears, when to set their heels a-
clicking. In fact, he feels more at home on stage than
anyplace else.

HANK
Why no, Rasmus, I don't.

LUM YORK
Missus Cholly's grand-daddy he
ceaseded and become a ghost an goes-
a thump-thumpin' all ober de house.

Hank points to the guitar behind Lum:

HANK
Rasmus, hand me that guitar.

Don Helms motions to Hank as Lum turns around to pick up the
guitar. When Lum turns back, Hank is gone.

Hank crouches behind the podium and calls out:

HANK
What was you sayin' about ghosts,
Rasmus?

Lum, confused, looks from side-to-side:

LUM YORK
Mistuh Hank? Mistuh Hank?

HANK
I'm right here, Rasmus, hand me that
guitar.

Lum extends the guitar toward the thin air. When his hand
accidentally passes over the strings, the guitar player picks
a loud twang.

HANK
(angry)
I didn't say play, Rasmus! I said
give it here.

Lum rolls his eyeballs in mock fright as the audience cracks
up. Audrey, standing in the background, cringes. She thinks
Hank and Lum's black-face routine is "low-toned."

LUM YORK
Oh, Lawdy, Lawdy.

Lum drops the guitar and dashes off to the amusement of
everyone. Hank stands up, walks around the podium, picks up
the guitar and hits an opening chord.

Lum walks back to his bass as Hank motions for the crowd to
give him a hand. They do, and Lum tips his hat in
appreciation.

Hank hits the second chord and the band goes directly into
"Lost Highway":

"I'm a rolling stone, All alone and lost, For a life of sin
I have paid the cost. When I pass by people say, Just another
guy on the lost highway."

FADE OUT TO A TITLE READING:

FRED ROSE

Fall, 1946

EXT. WSM BUILDING - DAY

Hank and Audrey enter the old WSM building in Nashville.

CUT TO:

INT. ACUFF-ROSE HALLWAY - DAY

Guitar case in hand, Hank, wearing a black suit and white
Fedora, waits as Audrey knocks on a door reading "Acuff-Rose,
Music Publishers."

Acuff-Rose is now a powerful music conglomerate, but in 1946
it was a small one-room office (preserved, intact, in the
company's Franklin Road office). Acuff-Rose had been founded
four years earlier by Fred Rose, a Tin Pan Alley songwriter
from Indiana, and Roy Acuff, a Grand Ole Opry regular. In
1946 Acuff-Rose may have been small, but it was the only
music publisher south of the Mason-Dixon line, and the only
place for an itinerant songwriter like Hank Williams to sell
his material professionally.

Audrey knocks again. There's no answer.

FRED ROSE and WESLEY ROSE, ping-pong paddles in hand, walk
down the hall toward Hank and Audrey.

Fred Rose, 48, balding, wears thick glasses, loose trousers
and striped suspenders. Ten years before Rose, composer of
"Red Hot Mama," was broke, alcoholic and suicidal when he
became a devout Christian Scientist. Hard times brought him
to Nashville and, before he died in 1954, Rose had in large
measure determined the course of modern country music. His
son Wesley, 28, pudgy with black hair and mustache, kept the
books for his father's small company.

AUDREY
Mr. Rose?

FRED
Yes?

AUDREY
This is my husband Hank Williams.
We're from Montgomery. He's a
songwriter and would like to sing
some songs for you.

FRED
(awkward)
Well...
(to Wes)
Do we have the time?

WES
Except for lunch.

FRED
(acquiesces)
Okay. Sure, why not?

Fred tucks his paddle under his arm and, after some fumbling,
unlocks the office door and opens it.

CUT TO:

INT. ACUFF-ROSE OFFICE - DAY

Two metal desks face each other in the rectangular office.
Several framed sheet music covers hang on the pine-paneled
walls.

Hank, finishing a song, sets down his guitar and looks across
at Fred Rose, who sits against the edge of his desk. Fred,
extremely near-sighted, strains to see him through his
glasses.

AUDREY
(breaking the silence)
Hank doesn't just sang sad songs.

Fred stands and takes a short step toward Hank:

FRED
How old are you, son?

HANK
Twenty-two.

FRED
How long you been playing?

HANK
You mean regular?
(Fred nods)
'Bout seven years, I reckon.

AUDREY
He plays WASF in Montgomery.

FRED
Who taught you to sing?

HANK
My mama. And a nigger name of Tee-
Tot.

FRED
Roy mentioned you once. Can you set
this music down?

HANK
You mean write music?
(Fred nods)
No. But I got more songs.
(no response)
I do a song like Acuff...

FRED
Well, we're interested in the gospel
songs. We're lookin' for something
for Molly O'Day.
(a beat)
Look, why don't we just take these
songs you've got now, what is it?
Six of them?
(Hank beams)
I can't promise Molly'll cut any of
them, but I won't cheat you either.
We'll get you a regular contract and
if this works out, maybe we could
use some more songs.

CUT TO:

INT. LILLY'S BOARDING HOUSE - DAY

It's about noon -- but you couldn't tell by looking at Hank
and the Drifting Cowboys. They've been on the road two weeks;
each seems to stagger out of the car in a different direction.

The '39 Chevy has been replaced by a used grey Chrysler;
otherwise little has changed for Hank and his Drifting
Cowboys.

They lug their equipment up the wood steps.

CUT TO:

INT. LILLY'S BOARDING HOUSE - DAY

Lilly's boarding house clan sits around the dining room table.
Several girls, Hank's WATERHEAD COUSIN and the ever-silent
MR. STONE sit with Hank, Audrey and the boys.

There's no decorum here. Diners get up or sit down as they
wish. The Cowboys bump elbows reaching across the table for
bowls of food.

Hank dumps a quarter bottle of ketsup over an over-cooked
piece of meat and starts to eat. Dots of ketsup spot his
wrinkled, sweat-stained white shirt. Ernest Tubb sings
"Rainbow at Midnight" over the old box radio.

Audrey counts a wrinkled stack of bills:

AUDREY
You did fifteen shows and come home
with two hundred and twenty dollars?

There's a silence around the table. SAMMY PRUETT, now one of
the Drifting Cowboys, offers:

SAMMY PRUETT
We had to buy some clothes.

AUDREY
(to Sammy)
How dare you bring him home in this
condition?

Sammy says nothing. Hank, a little pie-eyed, tries to ignore
what's going on around him.

AUDREY
And you keep telling me about the
money we'll be making. You can't
even support yourself.

Hank stands up crookedly (a childhood back injury had
permanently ruined his posture), fishes through his pockets
and comes up with a wrinkled twenty dollar bill. He drops it
on the table and goes back to his ketsup.

AUDREY
Big screwy deal.
(to Cowboys)
How much you boys hid for him?

Lilly, watching from across the room, interjects:

LILLIAN
Don't talk to my son that way. He
ain't feeling good.

AUDREY
(to Lilly)
You shut up. You only fight with
him.

LILLIAN
I've been fighting with him longer
than you have.

Hank turns to his mother:

HANK
Shut up, Momma. Can't you see me an'
Audrey's fightin'?

AUDREY
Yeah.

LILLIAN
(holding her heart)
Oh, Hiram, how dare...

HANK
Shut up.
(to Audrey)
You too.

The Cowboys, knowing what comes next, start to silently rise
and file out of the dining room.

AUDREY
Hank Williams! You ungrateful S.O.B!

Audrey grabs a pan of collard greens and chucks them across
the table at Hank. She rushes around the table and starts to
beat him about the head.

Hank stands and swings wildly back. If he wasn't drunk, he
might land some of his blows. But then, if he wasn't drunk,
he wouldn't have the guts to stand up against Audrey either.

They fight their way out of the dining room and into the
small water closet at the end of the hall.

CUT TO:

INT. WATER CLOSET - DAY

The 4 x 5 cubicle contains only an old-fashioned flush toilet.
Bits of poems and songs are scribbled on the faded wallpaper.

Hank and Audrey are fought out. Crying, Hank wraps his arms
around her like a child.

HANK
Audie, why you treat me this way?

Tears come to Audrey's eyes as she looks at Hank's pleading
face. She starts to kiss him:

AUDREY
I'm sorry, darling. I really am.

HANK
I've been in that goddamn car so
long and we broke down and my back
hurts and I had to pay the boys and
nobody...

AUDREY
That's alright, baby.

HANK
I'll do better next time. I just
need a little lovin'.

AUDREY
I love you, Hank. I truly do.

Pulling him tighter, Audrey gives Hank a long, sexual kiss.

CUT TO:

EXT. OPEN FIELD - DAY

Five hunters walk through an open field in the lush, rolling
pine-covered hills north of Montgomery.

Hank, wearing a baseball cap, flannel shirt and cowboy slacks,
carries a bolt-action shotgun slung on his arm. Sammy Pruett
and TILMAN, a good old boy, walk along side him. Ahead, two
other GOOD OLD BOYS talk as they walk.

Hank sings a chorus from a spiritual as he goes:

"Are you ready to meet the Angel of Death?"

He turns to Sammy:

HANK
What's the matter, boy? Can't you
carry a tune?

It didn't matter that Sammy was older than Hank: everyone
was "boy" or "son" to him -- everyone, that is, except Fred
Rose, who he came to call "Pappy."

SAMMY PRUETT
I didn't come to sing, I came to
shoot.

HANK
I hope you shoot better'n you sing.

One of the Good Old Boys calls back:

GOOD OLD BOY #1
I thank one of the dogs done spotted
hisself sumpin'.

They all stop.

GOOD OLD BOY #2
Quail.

TILMAN
That's no quail dog, that's a coon
dog.

As Tilman speaks, a flock of quail fly from the brush. They
aim and fire.

CUT TO:

EXT. RESTING SPOT - DAY

They sit around the deserted share-cropper's cabin where the
car is parked. A string of quail hangs from the Chrysler's
door handle.

Tilman sits on the steps, drinking a Coke, discoursing on
life in general.

Hank, absorbed in his own thoughts, sits crouched beside the
car. A loner by nature, Hank was self-assured around men --
either cocksure -- almost arrogant -- or totally withdrawn.
If he wanted to talk, the others would listen; if he didn't,
nobody could make him. "A lot of people didn't like Hank as
a person," recalled Lum York. "You had to be around him to
understand him."

As Tilman and the others talk, Hank takes a scrap of paper
from his pocket, writes something on it, and tucks it away.

TILMAN
...that was like that crazy Irma-Lee
Presswood, daughter of one of those
Presswoods in Covington County by
Gantt Lake where the bass are like
to jump in the boat. You know those
people, Hank?
(no answer)
Well, Irma-Lee had the pilot light
turned up all the time. She could
fling herself a cravin' on jus' about
anythang whut could get itself in a
male pair of pants. Jus' go walkin'
like a young cat hound by the saw-
mill ev'ry day. Got to the point
where her daddy had to do something --
or he's gonna have hisself some new
inlaws. So he sent her off to New
Or'lons where she went to a doctor,
but it wasn't no reg'lar doctor...

GOOD OLD BOY #1
A city doctor?

TILMAN
No, worse. It was one of those pointy-
head doctors.

GOOD OLD BOY #1
Shit, I never seen a reg'lar doctor.

GOOD OLD BOY #2
That's why you're still alive.

TILMAN
So this New Or'lons doctor said she
was sick in the head. She was sick
aw-right, but it weren't in the
head...

Hank, irritated about something, stands and walks over:

HANK
(interrupting)
You boys gonna sit and chew all
afternoon or are you gonna go out
and get something to drink?

They look at each other: they had instructions not to bring
along any booze.

HANK
Well?

TILMAN
I got me a Co-Cola.

HANK
Tilman, I ain't know'd you to ever
drink no Co-Cola.

Sammy offers an explanation for the group:

SAMMY PRUETT
You know how you get when you get to
drinking, Hank. Go two, three days,
sit with your paw, then have to go
to the hospital to dry out and Miss
Audrey says we're going to
Nashville...

HANK
Did Audrey tell you not to bring any
beer?

SAMMY PRUETT
She'an your mama hide my ass if you
come back lickered up, Harm. You
gonna cut those records. You don't
want to screw that up, do you?

HANK
(angry)
Are you telling me what to do, Sammy?

SAMMY PRUETT
(cowed)
No, Hank.

Hank looks accusingly at the others. They mumble denials:
"we ain't telling you nothing, Hank."

HANK
I just wanted to make sure.

GOOD OLD BOY #2
(volunteers)
Want us to get some beer, Hank?

HANK
Nope. We're goin' up to Nashville to
cut some sides tomorrow.
(heads toward car)
But don't tell me what I can't do. I
just don't want a drink.

CUT TO:

EXT. LILLY'S BOARDING HOUSE - DAY

Hank and Audrey's Chrysler, packed and ready to go, waits on
Katoma Street.

Hank, wearing a white double-breasted suit and Stetson,
remembers something and crawls out of the back seat:

HANK
I forgot to say goodbye to Momma.

CUT TO:

INT. LILLY'S BEDROOM - DAY

Hank enters his mother's bedroom. Lilly, wreathed in her
black sack dress, is stretched out on the bed.

LILLIAN
I wuz wonderin' if my son cared enough
to say goodbye to his Momma.

HANK
You feelin' aw-right, Momma?

LILLIAN
My heart's real weak-like.

Hank sits on the bed beside her:

HANK
Don't worry. You're aw-right. Mr.
Stone will look after you.

LILLIAN
You don't forget your Momma when
you're gone, do you Hiram?

HANK
No, Momma. You don't have to worry.
It won't be long you won't have to
take in no laundry or boarders, you
won't have to move again. I'm gonna
be a big singer, Momma. The world's
jus' about lonesome enough for Hank.
Remember, every time you hear me
sing on the radio or on a record,
I'm singing every song for you.

Hank's feelings for his mother are so confused that he has
no idea whether he is lying or telling the truth.

CUT TO:

INT. FRED ROSE'S ATTIC - DAY

Fred Rose moved a piano into his attic and used it as a
"studio." Fred could sit here alone by the hour, mull over
songs, or chew the fat with writers. It was here that many
of the Hank Williams songs were "written."

Fred sits on the piano bench. Hank walks around pulling
various scraps of paper out of his many arrow-darted western
pockets.

He places seven or eight pieces of paper on the piano top:

HANK
I got some po'ms here, Pappy, I ain't
too sure of. Some of them I've been
singing, and they do work pratty
well.

FRED
Play a little something. Let's see
how it sounds.

Hank picks up the battered studio guitar and strums a few
bars.

FRED
We've got the studio all morning
tomorrow and I'd like to work out a
few more songs.

HANK
(walking around)
"I just don't like this kind of
livin', When I..."
(starts over)
"I just don't like this kind of
livin', Where you do all the takin'
and I do all the givin'..."

Fred plays a few basic chords on the piano. Hank stops; he
has something else on his mind. He picks up one of the scraps
of paper off the piano:

HANK
(reading)
What do you think of this, Pappy?
"Did you ever see a robin weep when
the leaves turn to fly, I'm so
lonesome I could die. I could cry."
(a beat)
Do you think anybody would understand
that, Pappy?

A sad look passes over Fred's face.

FRED
I think so, Hank.
(plays piano)
You got some more, Hank?

TIMECUT: Fred sits on the couch thinking. Hank strums the
Gibson on the piano bench. There is a knock on the door.

FRED
Who is it?

ROY ACUFF
Roy.

FRED
Come on in.

Roy Acuff, wearing a checkered coat and a tie, walks in
flashing the already famous Acuff smile.

ROY ACUFF
Howdy, Fred, Hank. I was driving by
so I thought I'd come in. Lurleen
said it was aw-right to come on up.

Fred and Roy may be good musicians, but actors they're not.
Roy has "dropped by" by pre-arrangement.

FRED
Hank and I were working on some
material we might cut tomorrow.

ROY
Don't let me interrupt.

FRED
No, I'd like you to hear some of
this. All right, Hank?

HANK
(flattered)
Sure.

Hank slouches on the sofa with his guitar as Fred steps over
to the piano. After a few false starts, they begin a slow
version of "Move It On Over": "Came in last night half past
ten, That baby of mine wouldn't let me in, So move it on
over..."

Before long, Acuff and Williams start swapping songs. When
Hank does a couple lines from "Wabash Cannonball," Roy returns
with "Honky-Tonkin." Hank turns to "Great Speckled Bird,"
and Acuff follows with a line from "Move It On Over."

The session closes with Fred and Hank doing a final run-
through of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry": "Did you ever hear
a robin weep, When leaves begin to die, That means I've lost
the will to live, I'm so lonesome I could cry."

As Hank finishes, alone and unaccompanied, tears drop from
his cheeks, spattering against the pale varnish of his Gibson
Sunburst. Fred and Roy watch silently, their emotions a
mixture of pity and awe.

Hank finishes, wipes the tears from his cheeks, looks up and
says unemotionally:

HANK
Well, whatja think?

CUT TO:

EXT. FRED ROSE'S HOUSE - DAY

Fred and Roy wave as Hank drives off in Fred turns to walk
Roy back to his car:

ROY ACUFF
That's a good boy, Fred. You gotta
look out for him.

FRED
I'd like to get him on one of the
big radio shows. The Barn Dance, the
Jamboree, maybe even the Hayride.
The Opry won't touch him.

ROY ACUFF
Cause of the drinkin' problem?

FRED
Yeah. The boy's already got himself
a real bad reputation. Worse than
yours, boy.

ACUFF
(laughs)
I got a problem, but I ain't got a
reputation. There's a difference.

FRED
He's been a drunk since he was about
fifteen. Can't seem to moderate
himself. Maybe if he gets a regular
spot, he'll straighten out.

FADE OUT TO A TITLE READING:

THE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE

Fall, 1948

EXT. DOWNTOWN SHREVEPORT - DAY

Cleveland and Boston are playing the third game of the World
Series on the car radio. One billboard promotes the
Truman/Barkley ticket. Another extolls the merits of Gov.
Earl Long.

They pull up in front of the Commercial National Bank
Building, which housed the KWKH studios. Hank gets out of
the car and, in a characteristic mannerism, pops his shoulders
up and down before he ambles toward the door. Audrey follows.

CUT TO:

INT. KWKH STUDIOS - DAY

Hank walks into the studio offices and looks around. A DJ
broadcasts live through a pane of glass. The SECRETARY catches
Hank's attention:

SECRETARY
Can I help you?

HANK
I'd like to speak to Henry Clay.

The Secretary's tone of voice indicates that Mr. Clay is not
the sort of man to speak to any hillbilly who wanders in off
the street:

SECRETARY
Do you have an appointment?

HANK
My name's Hank Williams. I record
for M-G-M Records. I've come from
Montgomery to play on the Hayride.

CUT TO:

EXT. MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM - EVENING

A long line stretches around Shreveport's Municipal Memorial
Auditorium, a massive red-brick "WPA Deco" structure.

It's Saturday night and they've come from miles around to
attend the Louisiana Hayride, country music's second largest
live radio show. Each week KWKH, a 50,000-watt clear channel
station, broadcast the Hayride live to every community from
San Antonio to Birmingham.

The Hayride liked to call itself "The Cradle of the Stars."
The big boys at WSM's Grand Ole Opry just referred to it as
"the farm club." In either case, there's no doubt that many
of country music's biggest stars got their start as regulars
on the Hayride: Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Johnny
Horton, Faron Young, Red Souvine, Webb Pierce, Lefty Frizzell,
George Jones, David Houston, Kitty Wells -- and Hank Williams.

And at 30 a seat, there was no hotter ticket in Shreveport
on a Saturday night.

CUT TO:

INT. LOUISIANA HAYRIDE - NIGHT

Two thousand hillbilly fans fill the floor and double
balconies of the Municipal Auditorium. Shreveport is only a
"long spit" from Texas, and the Louisiana audience sports
more cowboy hats and boots then those in Alabama.

On stage, a painted canvas backdrop bears the legend: "KWKH
Louisiana Hayride KWKH." The backdrop depicts a pastoral
scene: a red barn, a water pump, several trees, and a large-
uttered cow. A large sign advertising JAX Beer (that segment's
sponsor) hangs above the performer's heads.

Unlike the Opry, the Hayride did not have individual hosts
for each sponsor segment. The announcer would bring each act
for one song twice in the course of the show. If the act was
encored, it could do a second number. Since the attraction
of the Hayride was "exposure," not money, performers competed
fiercely for their encores.

An air of anticipation fills the auditorium: this is the big
time.

On stage, the Bailes Brothers conclude their best-known song,
"Dust on the Bible." The Bailes, from West Virginia, came
from a long tradition of rock-ribbed bluegrass groups such
as the Monroe Brothers, the Delmore Brothers and the Blue
Sky Boys. Their style was straight-forward, sentimental and
sacred in tone. When Hank Williams came to Shreveport, the
Bailes Brothers were the biggest act on the Hayride; today
they are remembered only by folk archivists.

HORACE LOGAN, the announcer, helps the crowd give the Bailes
Brothers a hand as they walk off. The Jax Beer advertisement
is raised and replaced by one for Light Crust Flour.

HORACE LOGAN
The Bailes Brothers ladies and
gentlemen, Johnny, Walter and Homer.
(watches advertisement)
Now to begin the Light Crust Flour
segment of the Louisiana Hayride,
we'd like to bring out a Montgomery
boy who's made quite a hit since
coming to Shreveport. It's that
"Lovesick Blues" boy and his Drifting
Cowboys. And right now he's got
himself a big hit on his hands for M-
G-M records, so come on out here
Hank Williams and "Move It On Over!"

The Drifting Cowboys assume their positions as Logan speaks.
Don Helms has left the group and BOB McNETT, a Pennsylvania
boy, has replaced Pruett at lead guitar. Lum York still wears
his baggy pants and plays bass fiddle.

The Cowboys now wear matching brown western outfits. Audrey
is not on stage.

There's a short pause, and Hank, dressed in a flashy white
suit and hat, ambles out on stage, swinging his guitar like
a club along side him. He wears a bright, hand-painted tie
and black boots with large red-and-yellow eagles stitched
across the front.

He stops beside the painted cow, pretends to milk one of her
nipples, then dashes for the large KWKH mike. The audience
howls.

Before the audience stops laughing, before he even reaches
the microphone, Hank bursts into the opening chords of "Move
It On Over." The song bears little resemblance to the slow
ballad Hank played in Fred's attic. It is now an up-beat,
hard-driving honky-tonk song: "She told me not to play around,
But I done let the deal go down, So pack it on over, tote it
on over, Move over nice dog, 'cause a bad dog's movin' in."

The audience goes wild. Hank is rocking the huge auditorium
in the same way he rocked the roadhouses of South Alabama.

Whether the crowd at the Hayride realized it or not, they
were watching the first wave of a music revolution: honky-
tonk style had gone big time. The contrast between Hank and
the Bailes Brothers could not be more radical: Hank hunches
over the mike, popping his shoulder up and down and wobbles
his skinny legs back and forth.

Allen Rankin, a Montgomery columnist, described it shortly
after Hank's death: "Hank didn't have much of a personality
except when he was singing. He'd come slopping and slouching
out on stage, but when he picked up the guitar and started
to sing, it was like a charge of electricity had gone through
him. He became three feet taller. He had a voice that sent
shivers up your spine and made the hair rise on your neck
with a thrill."

Within eight years, the Hank Williams' style, emulated by
singers like Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis
would sweep the country under the name of "rock and roll."

The audience cheers and cheers for more. Hank smiles and
looks from side to side. He loves it.

CUT TO:

EXT. FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF SHREVEPORT - DAY

Hank, his brown Stetson set back against his head, walks
into the bank. The sleeves of his blue western shirt are
rolled up; it has a yellow yoke with red-and-blue embroidered
flowers.

INT. BANK - DAY

Hank steps over to a young TELLER and hands her a check:

HANK
I'd like to cash this, honey.

She looks at the check, then back at Hank, discombobulated:
Hank already has quite a reputation in the Shreveport area.

TELLER
(bashful)
I'll haff to get this okayed, Mr.
Williams.

The cashier has the check approved by her boss and returns.

HANK
I'd like that in one dollar bills,
if you don't mind.

TELLER
(looks at check)
I don't think we carry that many
singles, Mr. Williams.

HANK
That's aw-right. I'll wait. How long
will it take?

TELLER
I reckon we could haff it by this
afternoon.

Hank nods.

CUT TO:

EXT. BANK - DAY

Later that day, Hank walks out of the bank with a small cloth
bag and throws it into the front seat of his shiny 1949
Packard. The top of the dark blue limousine is mounted with
two loudspeakers. The Cowboys will now be able to travel in
"comfort" and broadcast their shows as they go.

Hank drives away.

CUT TO:

EXT. MODICA STREET HOUSE - DAY

The blue Packard is parked outside Hank and Audrey's house
on Modica Street in Bossier City, Shreveport's twin city to
the east. Hank has moved twice since coming to Shreveport
four months before; as his fortunes have improved, so have
his living conditions. The Modica house is a modest three-
bedroom ranch home with yellow awnings.

CUT TO:

INT. MODICA HOUSE - DAY

Hank empties the cloth bank bag and spreads the dollar bills --
thousands of them -- across the living room floor. The room
is decorated with department store furniture with a few
western touches: a sunset landscape, two mounted shotguns.

HANK
(calling)
Audie, Audie!

Audrey, wearing a plaid skirt and western shirt with a floral
yoke, enters and looks around in amazement:

AUDREY
Hiram, what are you doing?

Hank smiles like a naughty child:

HANK
I got my first check for "Move It On
Over."
(looks around room)
Five thousand one hundred and seventy
dollars.
(kisses her)

AUDREY
All in one dollar bills?

HANK
I just wanted to see what it looked
like, all at one time.

Lycrecia, hearing the commotion, walks in.

LYCRECIA
What's all this?

Hank teasingly takes his step-daughter by the shoulder, wraps
his skinny arm around her neck and rubs his knuckles on the
top of her head.

HANK
(teasing)
Hiya, Jughead. Whatja think?

LYCRECIA
(not amused)
Stop it, Hank! That hurts.

Hank sets Lycrecia free and she leaves the room, unimpressed
by the five thousand dollar bills.

But nothing can dampen Hank's feelings. He wraps his legs
underneath him and squats on the floor in the middle of the
money. He takes his Stetson off and throws it on a chair.
His hair is visibly thinning.

HANK
(almost to himself)
I wish Momma was here, now.

He lets the money run through his fingers with child-like
wonder. Then thinking of something, he looks up at Audrey
and says seriously:

HANK
Why doesn't she ever call me Daddy?

AUDREY
Who?

HANK
Lycrecia. We've been married four
years and she never has called me
Daddy or Dad.

AUDREY
Gee, I don't know, Hank. I never
thought of it that way. I'll tell
her to start calling you "Dad."

HANK
(goes back to money)
No, no. Don't tell her anything. Let
her do as she wants.
(a beat)
I was jus' wonderin'.

CUT TO:

EXT. TEXARKANA - DAY

Hank's blue Packard, pulling a matching trailer, drives down
Texarkana's "strip." The loudspeakers proclaim:

PACKARD LOUDSPEAKER
...Auditorium. That's Hank Williams,
folks, the Lovesick Blues Boy, star
of the Louisiana Hayride, and his
Drifting Cowboys will be at the
Arkansas High School Auditorium
tonight at 8:00. Along with Hank
will be the whole Hayride gang,
including the Bailes Brothers, Johnny
and Jack and Miss Kitty Wells. All
for only 75 for adults, 35 for the
kids. That's tonight at...

CUT TO:

INT. PACKARD - DAY

Bob McNett is at the wheel. Beside him, another of the
Drifting Cowboys broadcasts over a hand mike.

Hank, Lum and another Cowboy are stretched out in the back
seat. The limo has two radios; one on the dash, another on
the back of the front seat. Each plays a different football
game. The car is littered with the paraphernalia of boredom
and traveling: comic books, candy bar wrappers and a couple
of baseball mitts. M-G-M records are stacked in the rear
window.

MCNETT
(driving)
I can't find Harvey Street.

Hank, hunched over his guitar, strums to himself:

HANK
"...lights all grow dim, And the
dark shadows creep, And when your
loved ones are gathered to weep..."

Lum points and calls out:

LUM YORK
There it is. KADO.

HANK
(looking up)
Pull over, boy.

McNett pulls to the curb.

BOB MCNETT
Shall we wait, Harm?

HANK
No, jus' go 'round broadcastin' some
more. I'm just gonna see this ole
boy and be out in fifteen minutes.

Hank takes a 78 record out of the window and gets out of the
car. He straightens his brown striped western suit and walks
toward a two-story nondescript building. A folded copy of
Billboard, tucked in a back pocket, flops against his "gimly-
ass" as he walks.

He spots a liquor store, stops, goes back and enters.

CUT TO:

INT. KADO - DAY

BILLY BOB, KADO's afternoon DJ, sits at the broadcast desk
as Hank enters. Moon Mullican's "Sweeter Than The Flowers"
plays over the studio monitors.

A bottle of Dewer's Scotch sits on the counter next to the
MGM 78 record.

BILLY BOB
Why thank you, Hank. Nice of you to
stop on by.

HANK
How's the coon huntin' been this
year, Billy Bob?

BILLY BOB
Didley-squat, but the pike's been
just a jumpin' out on Texarkana Lake
this year.

HANK
Then we gotta go.

BILLY BOB
I'll take Lydell's boat.
(interrupts)
Just a second.

"Sweeter Than The Flowers" reaches its saccharine conclusion
and the DJ switches on the studio mike. Hank sits down beside
him.

BILLY BOB
"Sweeter Than The Flowers," Moon
Mullican on King Records number 673.
Love that song. And it's available
right through here, Radio Kay-do, K-
A-D-O, the Voice of Ark-La-Tex. Now
I've got a real special surprise for
you folks that just happen to be
listenin' in this afternoon. Hank
Williams who has that big hit "Move
It On Over" out on M-G-M, available
through Radio Kay-do, jus' happen to
walk into the studio to say hello.
Hank, if for some ignorant reason
you hain't heard, will be playing at
the high school auditorium tonight
at 8:00. Hank, say hello to the folks.

HANK
Howdy, friends and neighbors. Pleasure
to be with you Billy Bob and the
folks in Texarkana again.

BILLY BOB
Hank, I wanted to ask you about that
song you been singin' on the Hayride
ev'ry Saturday that's got the folks
all stirred up, "Lovesick Blues." Is
that the record you brought by today?

HANK
No, Billy Bob, I've been so busy
playing the Hayride and going here
and there to entertain folks I hain't
taken time to put that "Lovesick
Blues" on record yet. But I got a
new one here, so new the wax hain't
even dry yet, called "Mansion On The
Hill," and me and the boys plan to
be singing it tonight at the
auditorium.

BILLY BOB
(picks up record)
We'll play it for the folks in just
a second, but I'll have to warn 'em
first that this is a brand new record
and we hain't got any copies yet at
Radio Kay-do, but when it comes out,
we'll be the first to git it fer
you...

CUT TO:

EXT. KADO - DAY

Hank walks out of the station and enters the waiting Packard.

CUT TO:

INT. PACKARD - DAY

They pull into traffic.

BOB MCNETT
Let's go to the ho-tel.

LUM YORK
I gotta git some real sleep.

HANK
(nods)
You know that bastid up there, Billy
Bob Cullum, what's the DJ here, you
know what that asshole once told
Henry Clay? He said, "That Hank
Williams, he won't be such a big
singer if it weren't for all them
sad and morbid songs he sings." Well,
look at this:
(pulls Billboard out
of pocket)
"Move It On Over" Number Four on
Billboard. Fuck him and the President,
too. What does he know? He ain't
worth the shot it'd take to send him
to Hell. Number four on Billboard.
People jus' like to spit behind your
back.
(a beat)
Lum, turn that radio over to Kay-do
and see if that prick's plugging our
show.

Hank, having said his piece, slouches back into the seat.
His little tirade draws no response from the Cowboys: they've
heard it all before.

CUT TO:

INT. FRED ROSE'S ATTIC - DAY

Hank slouches in his wrinkled white suit on Fred's sofa. He
crosses one spindly leg over the other, flashing his new
butterfly-emblazoned boots.

Fred takes a few steps, scratches his head and says:

FRED
It just ain't a hillbilly song, Hank.
It ain't your kind of song. It's
some Tin Pan Alley tune.

Hank pushes his hat back so Fred can see his eyes.

HANK
Look, Pappy, all I know is ev'ryware
I go folks ask me for that goddamn
"Lovesick Blues" and ev'ry time I
sing it on the Hayride I get four or
five encores. Hell, I could throw my
hat out on stage and get an encore.
You tell me I shouldn't cut a song
like that?

FRED
(in Yankee innocence)
But it ain't country. If you record
that song, Hank, I won't go in the
studio with you. You'll have to cut
it alone.

HANK
I may just do that.
(pause)
Did you talk to Stone?

FRED
About the Opry? I don't think it's
much use, Hank.

HANK
What do they want from me? I have
been fully straight the last five
months. Ask anybody in Shreveport. I
hain't had but four or five drinks,
I never missed a show, I never did
no cuttin' up 'cept the one time I
ran the curtain down on the Bailes
and ev'rybody know'd that was a joke.
(pleading)
Pappy, I'll crawl on my belly from
Bossier City to be on the Opry.

FRED
I'll try again. Maybe we'll get a
guest slot.

HANK
Get me a chance. You know I kin whup
'em. I've been real good in
Shreveport. Even on the road. Just
ask somebody.

FRED
I know.

HANK
You do?

FRED
I talk to Henry Clay on the phone.

Hank takes his hat off and brushes his hair back.

HANK
(exonerated)
See, I tol' ya.

Fred notices something on the back of his head.

FRED
What you got on the back of your
head?

HANK
(sensitive)
Don't joke about my hair.

FRED
(looks closer)
You got a big cut there, Hank.

HANK
(shakes his head)
Oh, it's that Audrey. She done conked
me one. Took one of those lamp things
and jus' conked me right square
backside the head.

Fred goes to the piano bench and looks over some bits of
paper Hank has laid out. Even though he is the only person
beside Lilly Hank could confide in, Fred knows better than
to pry into his life. If Hank wants some advice, he'll ask.

HANK
(awkward)
Maybe you can hep me, Pappy.

FRED
How?

Hank fumbles for the right words:

HANK
It's this music thing again. Audrey
wants a music contract.

FRED
But she can't sing.

HANK
You know that, I know that, but try
tellin' her. She'll jus' haul off
and whop you one. She can make a
feller's life pretty rough. She wants
to sing with me on stage, on radio.
You could get her a contract, Pappy.
I'll pay for it.

FRED
I'll talk to Paul Kohn at Decca. He
owes me a favor. Maybe we can work
it out.

HANK
Now that she's pregnant, it don't
make things any easier.

Fred turns around, startled. A boyish grin spreads across
Hank's face.

FRED
Audrey's pregnant?

HANK
Yep.

FRED
How many months?

HANK
Four.

FRED
You never told me.

HANK
You never asked.

Fred, happy for Hank, walks over to him:

FRED
Congratulations, Hank.

Hank, blushing, stands as Fred takes both his hands.

FRED
You're gonna be a father, Hank. You
finally made it.

HANK
(bashful grin)
Yep, been throwin' a lot of pitches,
Pappy. Finally got one across the
plate.

CUT TO:

EXT. KWKH STUDIOS - DAY

Hank's Packard and trailer are parked outside the eleven-
story white Commercial National Bank Building at the corner
of Market and Texas. In 1948, the KWKH studios were on the
second floor.

INT. KWKH STUDIOS - DAY

The Louisiana Hayride section closes with an abbreviated re-
creation of the "Johnny Fair Show," Hank's morning radio
show. The 15-minute morning radio show was a staple of
southern life for over fifty years. The show's format was
fixed by time-honored convention: it mattered little who was
the host or sponsor, or what city it was broadcast from.

The large clock reads 6:15 inside the small broadcast studio.
The red light flashes "On The Air."

The Drifting Cowboys, looking worn and tired, stand in front
of an advertisement for Johnny Fair Syrup. Audrey, wearing a
new cowgirl outfit, stands with them.

The SOUND ENGINEER signals Hank and he steps up to the mike
and says:

HANK
"When I die bury me deep,
In a bucket of Johnny Fair
From my head to my feet.
Put a cold biscuit in each of my
hands
And I'll sop my way to the Promised
Land."

Hank speaks in his radio voice, a slow, friendly drawl:

HANK
(continuing)
Good mornin', friends and neighbors,
this is the old Syrup Sopper Hank
Williams for Johnny Fair. I hope
you'all done et your biscuits this
morning 'cause if you hain't, well,
I'll talk about that later. First,
let's start it off with a song. This
here's a new tune I recorded for M-G-
M records 'bout a po' feller who got
a invitation. It's a sad, pathetic
sort of little song and I hope you
never have to go through anything
like this. Me and the boys have to
do it quite often. Boys, let's give
'em a little "Wedding Bells Will
Never Ring For Me":
"I have the invitation that you sent
me,
You wanted me to see you change your
name,
I couldn't stand to see you wed
another,
But dear I hope you're happy just
the same."

As Hank wraps a shortened version of "Wedding Bells", the
Cowboys burst into applause. Hank is a natural salesman. He
was selling patent medicines from the back of a flat-bed
truck when he was 14, and has been selling something or other
ever since.

HANK
(back at the mike)
Why, thank ya very much. Those old
wed-ding bells. The other morning me
an' the Cowboys was on the road and
I was watchin' Lum York, he's the
short feller over here what plays
the bass fiddle, I was watchin' Lum
et his breakfast. And ol' Lum would
take a biscuit right in his hand and
then bore a big hole right in the
middle of it with his thumb. Then
he'd set that biscuit down and fill
it up with that delicious Johnny
Fair Syrup. It jus' looked so good I
couldn't stop myself, and between us
we et up all those biscuits -- and I
can taste 'em yet. Um-mm. And sticks
to yer bones, too. 'Specially when
you're on the road so much like me
and the boys. Tonight we'll be over
at Rob's Place in Robstown, Texas. I
know that's a mighty long spit from
hereabouts, but if you've got any
friends down that way, you might
tell 'em Old Hank's coming down
tonight to do some pickin' and
singin'.
(looks at clock)
Lookin' up at that old clock, I can
see it's time to move along. Right
now I'd like to bring out a young
lady that can sing mighty fine --
and pretty too. I think you know who
I'm talkin' about, Miss Audrey. Hello,
Audrey.

Hank and the Cowboys applaud as Audrey joins Hank at the
mike.

AUDREY
Howdy, Hank.

HANK
I think you folks know Audrey's my
wife, but you may not know, she's
also the mother of a big baby boy.
That's right, me an' Audrey had a
boy a couple weeks back and I'm mighty
proud.
(the Cowboys applaud)
Audrey's gonna join me an' the boys
to sing a tune I wrote a little while
back. Some folks like to think I
write this song for this one, or
that song for that one, but I don't
write 'em for anybody particular. I
just write 'em to be writin' 'em.
The title of it is "If You Mind Your
Own Business You Won't Be Mindin'
Mine":

Audrey and Hank crowd around the mike. Fred is right: Audrey's
singing is godawful. Her timing is wrong, her voice off-key.

Despite their many quarrels, despite Audrey's singing, it's
clear Hank loves her. And the words of his song leave no
doubt what anybody else can do about it:

"If the wife and I start fussin', Brother, that's our right,
Cause me and that sweet woman's got a license to fight.

Why don't you mind your own business, Cause if you mind your
own business, You won't be mindin' mine."

FADE OUT TO A TITLE READING:

THE GRAND OLE OPRY

Summer, 1949

EXT. RYMAN AUDITORIUM - EVENING

A long line of patrons stretches down Fifth Avenue waiting
to get into the Saturday Night Opry. It's a hot summer night,
but no one seems to mind. They've waited, saved and planned
for months to come to the Grand Ole Opry.

The red-and-white brick facade of the Ryman Auditorium has a
stately, righteous quality about it, and, in fact, the Ryman
was built in 1892 as a revival tabernacle. WSM's "Grand Ole
Opry" show, which had outgrown two previous homes, moved to
the Ryman in 1941.

CUT TO:

INT. RYMAN AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

The Grand Ole Opry is an entertainment phenomenon. In 1949,
two hundred thousand persons paid to travel and wait in line
to watch a radio show. They sat on hard pews in an uncooled
sweatbox and bought hand fans decorated with advertisements.
They watched a show constantly interrupted by commercials
and played in front of billboard-like advertisements. The
artists who attracted these crowds were paid scale: $30 a
week. Yet no one complained: the artists were proud to belong;
and the patrons, like good guests, were polite and cleaned
up after themselves. It was -- and continues to be, in
Opryland -- a near perfect money-making machine.

The three-hour Saturday night Opry was divided into twelve
15-minute segments, each with a separate host and sponsor.
Each host sang three songs and introduced three guests,
usually a comedian, a singer and a bluegrass group. Each act
was pre-timed for air time requirements, and the whole show
ran like clockwork.

On stage, Roy Acuff and his Smoky Mountain Boys are pickin'
and grinnin '. Roy balances the bow of his fiddle on his
nose and a few rebel cheers go up from the "Confederate
Gallery" (balcony). In 1949, country music and the Opry were
still "hillbilly": the audiences were younger, poorer and
openly chauvinistic. There was no Opryland, no Music Row and
no national image to worry about.

EXT. RYMAN AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

A cheer goes up from the crowd inside. Hank, Audrey, Fred
and Wes Rose walk up Fifth and turn into the alley beside
the Ryman.

Audrey wears a two-piece suit with a pleated skirt. Hank,
nervous, carries his guitar case and glances at his watch.

They stop at the backstage door.

CUT TO:

INT. RYMAN AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

Backstage is bedlam. The Ryman was never intended as a concert
auditorium; there are only three closet-sized dressing rooms
for the fifty-plus performers who appear on Opry night.
Artists stand in every possible spot, tuning their
instruments, checking their appearance and swapping small
talk. One object brings order to this chaos: the typed
schedule which states which artists appear in which show at
what time.

Hank, Audrey, Wes and Fred elbow their way through the crowd.
Most of the artists nod hello to Fred, a few recognize Hank.

Fred introduces Hank to JIM DENNY, manager of the Opry. Denny
says a few words and moves on.

Hank takes out his guitar and finds a nook in which to wait.

ON STAGE, the painted "Prince Albert Tobacco" backdrop is
lowered signaling the Red Foley 9:00-9:15 segment. The Stoney
Mountain Cloggers, a square dance team dressed in gingham
and plaids, do bluegrass turns as GRANT TURNER, the announcer,
introduces the Prince Albert segment.

To the right of the stage, behind a glass window, WSM
technicians monitor the broadcast. On stage, the atmosphere
is intentionally informal. Performers walk back and forth
setting up their instruments. Friends of WSM and the
performers sit in two pews against the backdrop. A large
clock -- time is critical -- hangs on the side of the
announcer's podium.

RED FOLEY, dressed in a dark suit and light Fedora, steps
out, introduces his Cumberland Valley boys and starts to
sing "Tennessee Saturday Night."

BACKSTAGE, Hank nervously puffs on a cigarette. The bare
lightbulb on the low ceiling is just inches above his head.

AUDREY
Are you nervous?

Hank shakes his head. Audrey straightens his hand-painted
tie.

AUDREY
You'll do fine.

HANK
It's just another show.

Minnie Pearl's familiar voice echoes from the stage:

MINNIE PEARL (O.S.)
...I've got to go now, but you know,
Red, a long time ago, the first time
I got Brother to town, all t'other
boys got to pointin' at him. "What's
wrong with that ole boy, he got the
Small Pox? He's got spots all over
his face." "No," I says, "We jus'
been teachin' him how to eat with a
fork!"

The Cumberland Valley Boys "fiddle" Minnie off stage as the
audience applauds.

Hank snuffs out his cigarette and pulls his tie off-center.

RED FOLEY (O.S.)
Now I'd like to bring out an Alabama
boy from down Montgomery way. This
boy hasn't been on the Opry before,
but he's got a pretty big song on
his hands, "Lovesick Blues." Come on
out, Hank Williams!

Hank walks out on stage. His new white western suit glistens
in the footlights. His hat is pulled tight against his
forehead.

There is a polite smattering of applause, then it dies out.
Nobody knows who he is.

Hank looks back to the band and they strike up "Lovesick
Blues."

HANK
"I've got a feelin' called the blu-
oo-oo-oo-ues, Oh Lord, Since my baby
said good-bye..."

The audience responds in a roar, then a standing ovation.
They knew the song, but not the singer. Hank's eyes flash
and his thin lips break into a smile as his nervousness
disappears. He buckles his knees, leans into the mike and
begins to sway: "I don't know what I'll do-oo-oo, Oh Lord,
All I do is sit and cry..."

TIMECUT: Finishing the song, Hank walks off stage to a massive
ovation and cries of "More!" Fred wildly signals Hank to
turn around. Foley calls him back for an encore.

The applause is undiminished. All Hank can do is sing
"Lovesick Blues" again.

TIMECUT: Hank walks off again, but the audience won't let
him go. Foley has to call him back on stage.

TIMECUT: the Sound Engineer stands in the booth, pointing to
his watch. All Foley can do is shrug.

TIMECUT: ten minutes later, the audience is still calling
for another encore. Grant Turner, Jim Denny and the Sound
Engineer are all gathered around the podium, trying to figure
out how to get Hank off stage.

Finally, as Hank leaves, Foley walks out and tries to wave
the crowd quiet. He is only partially successful. He shouts:

RED FOLEY
That's wonderful folks. My, my. We've
got to keep the show going.
(many shouts of protest)
Alright, folks, we'll bring him out
here one more time. Hank, come over
here, boy.

Hank, who has already removed his double-breasted jacket and
loosened his tie, walks out in his sweat-stained shirt. Foley
tries to calm the crowd:

RED FOLEY
My, my, you created quite a stir,
boy. I can't right remember anybody
getting five encores. Got the sponsors
all agitated. You know any other
songs, Hank?

HANK
Yeah, I do, Mr. Foley. But I think
I'll just stick with this one here.

The crowd goes wild again and Foley steps back:

RED FOLEY
All right then, take it away.

Hank, on top of the world, leans over and lets out a long
throbbing wail which brings the house down:

HANK
"I've got a feelin' called the blu-
oo-oo-ues, O Lord..."

It is June 11, 1949. Oldtimers say it was the most memorable
night in the Grand Ole Opry's history until Richard Nixon
came to the opening of Opryland in Spring, 1974.

CUT TO:

EXT. FRANKLIN ROAD HOUSE - DAY

Hank and Audrey have moved into a red brick ranch house on
Franklin Road. Although the house is not the "estate" Audrey
claimed, it certainly ain't a shack either.

A new yellow Cadillac convertible stands in front.

CUT TO:

INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY

Hank's new success as an Opry star has allowed he and Audrey
to indulge their whims. Hank's taste ran to things like guns,
horses and spacious cars; Audrey's gaudy jewelry, furs and
oriental decor. Hank's fantasies were fulfilled by icons of
the "West,"; Audrey's by symbols of the "East" -- New York
and Tokyo.

Hank, Audrey and Lilly stand in the newly-decorated living
room. Audrey wears a forties dress with a diamond brooch,
Hank blue western slacks and a loose shirt.

The decor is simply awful. Nouveau riche, unauthentic,
inorganic -- all the words which make designers wince. The
carpet is pink, the piano white, the curtains black with a
yellow-and pink oriental pattern. Chinese figurines and
miniature trees stand on the mirrored mantel and bookshelves.

Lilly, wearing her black sack with a lace insert, looks like
she's stepped off on the wrong planet. Audrey shows her a
porcelain figure of a Chinese dancer:

AUDREY
This dancer is over two thousand
years old -- not really this dancer,
but this kind.

Lilly looks around, impressed. Hiram has made the big time.

HANK
Come out here, Momma, and look at
this.

Hank opens the front door for her.

CUT TO:

EXT. FRANKLIN ROAD HOUSE - DAY

Hank walks Lillian over to the new Cadillac.

HANK
Four thousand bucks. I bought it for
Audrey.
(opens door)
Go on, Momma, sit inside.

Hank and Lilly sit in the back seat of the open Cadillac.
Hank, happy as a little kid, puts his blue leather boots up
on the front seat. Lillian seems a little worried:

LILLIAN
Hiram, can you really afford all
this?

HANK
Don't worry. Audie takes care of
everything.

That's exactly what worries Lilly.

LILLIAN
She's spending a lot of money.

HANK
I'm makin' a lot, Momma. I'm big
now. We get $600 a show, four shows
a week plus two nights at the Opry.
Plus the records and song rights. I
got $1200 in my pocket right now.
(gestures)
I'm livin' in high cotton.

LILLIAN
I just don't think it's right. All
this, and your poor Momma still
running a little boarding house.

HANK
You don't have to do that.

LILLIAN
No, no, waste not, want not, the
Lord says. There's a bigger place
for sale on McDough Street. If I had
that house...

CUT TO:

INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

Audrey rocks the baby as Hank sets his suitcases and guitar
out for the next morning. Lilly walks toward the bedrooms:

LILLIAN
I'm going to bed now, Hiram. Audrey.

AUDREY
Goodnight.

HANK
Night, Momma. I'll be gone by five
in the morning.

LILLIAN
I'll be up. I wouldn't miss that.

Lilly hesitates a second, then walks off. Audrey waits for
the bedroom door to close.

AUDREY
Hank, I have to talk to you.

HANK
What?

AUDREY
Did you give your Momma any money?

HANK
(lying)
No, Audrey.

CUT TO:

INT. GUEST BEDROOM - NIGHT

Lilly lies in the darkened bedroom listening.

AUDREY (O.S.)
You're a goddamn liar, Hank Williams.
(a beat)
Don't walk off. Stay in here.

HANK (O.S.)
I'll do what I damn please.

AUDREY (O.S.)
Like Hell you will. Besides, I hid
the liquor what was in your room.
How much did you give her, Hank?

HANK (O.S.)
She needs to get another boardin'
house.

AUDREY (O.S.)
Like Hell she does.

CUT TO:

EXT. JUSTICE OF THE PEACE - DAY

It's morning. Fred Rose drives his blue Cadillac into Lake
Charles, a Cajun town of 50,000 in Southwestern Louisiana.

Fred pulls up to a house with a sign reading "R. Thibodaux,
Justice of the Peace." Don Helms and JERRY RIVERS, a crewcut
boy about 18, tired and still wearing their Drifting Cowboy
outfits, meet Fred as he gets out of the car.

FRED
Hello, Don.

DON HELMS
Hank's been bent for a couple days,
Mr. Rose.

FRED
Can he continue on tour?

DON HELMS
He wasn't in shape to come out at
all last night. Then later, he got
to claimin' he was George Morgan.

Fred shakes his head as he walks inside with Don and Jerry.

CUT TO:

INT. JUSTICE OF THE PEACE - DAY

Hank sits mildly beside a uniformed Police Officer in the
small office. His white fringed jacket with blue piping and
rhinestones is wrinkled and dirty.

The JUSTICE OF THE PEACE looks up as Fred enters.

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
Mr. Fred Rose?

FRED
Yes.

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
Do you represent Acuff-Rose, Mr.
Williams' legal representatives?

HANK
(interrupting)
George Morgan.

FRED
Yes.

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
Are you willing to take custody of
Mr. Williams?

FRED
Yes.

Hank starts singing George Morgan's hit, "Candy Kisses":

HANK
"Candy kisses, wrapped in paper,
Mean more to you than my love,
dear..."

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
Mr. Williams.

The Police Officer removes Hank's cowboy hat and stands him
up.

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
Calcasie Parrish hereby fines you
$100 for Disturbing the Peace and
remands you to the custody of Fred
Rose, of Acuff-Rose.

Fred pays the Justice as Don and Jerry take Hank out the
door. The Justice of the Peace takes a hundred dollar bill
from his desk and gives it to Fred.

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
You better take this. Mr. Williams
gave it to me this morning. I didn't
want to see him get in any more
trouble.

FRED
You're an honest man, your honor.

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
No, just smart. He was giving them
out to everybody last night.

CUT TO:

EXT. JUSTICE OF THE PEACE - DAY

Fred meets up with Hank, Don and Jerry outside. Fred walks
with Hank for a couple steps before saying anything:

FRED
You didn't last very long, did you
Hank?

HANK
Me and this ole boy was working on a
tune last night, Pappy. You want to
hear it?

FRED
No.

Hank pulls up his sleeve and tries to make out the words
scribbled over his shirt cuff.

HANK
It goes like this. Let's see...

CUT TO:

EXT. KENTUCKY LAKE - DAY

Hank and VIC McALPIN, 29, a song-writer, sit "nigger fishing"
in a small rowboat. Hank is wearing jeans, a fancy western
shirt and his baseball cap.

Hank sets his pole down and turns toward Vic:

HANK
McAlpin, whatja think of this?

VIC
What?

Hank stands and paces across the rocking boat.

HANK
Here's the story. This ole boy and
his gal have split up. He ain't seen
her for a bit. Then, he's walking
down the street and he sees her
comin'. "Today I passes you on the
street," he says. What comes next?

VIC
You're rocking the boat.

HANK
What comes next?

VIC
(thinking)
"And I smelled your rotten feet?"

HANK
No, boy.

VIC
"And I beat my meat?"

HANK
Christ, boy, you got a foul mind.

VIC
Sit down, Harm. You're gonna flip
this thang.

HANK
It's my back. I can't sit still long.
It starts hurtin'.
(to himself)
"Today I passed you on the street."

VIC
Did you come to fish or did you jus'
come to watch the fish swim by?

HANK
Hey, that's good, Vic.

VIC
What?

HANK
"Did you come to watch the fish swim
by?" What comes after that? Let's
see...

VIC
"I went to the river to watch the
fish swim by..."

HANK
"I went down to the river to watch
the fish swim by, but the river was
dry..."

Vic is now up on his feet pacing too. Seen from the distance,
they stand walking in the boat, both animatedly talking and
gesturing.

CUT TO:

INT. CASTLE STUDIOS - DAY

WSM's live radio shows originated from Castle Studios in the
Tulane Hotel, which seated 200 persons. These shows, usually
fifteen minutes long, featured a mixture of songs, jokes,
folksy talk and relentless commercial plugs. They were known
just by the name of the sponsor: the Jefferson Island Show,
the Martha White Show, the Royal Crown Cola Show.

Hank's show, the Mother's Best Show, aired every morning
from 7:15-7:30. (When traveling, which was all the time,
Hank and the Cowboys would record four or five shows at a
time.)

A Mother's Best Enriched Flour advertisement is tacked against
the sound-proofed wall behind the band. Sacks of Mother's
Best Cow Feed, Hog Ration, Laying Mash and Growing Mash are
set out for the audience to see.

Hank, at the mike, wears his new western jacket, a pale blue
gabardine with a navy suede fringe and switched collar. Behind
him, wearing checkered slacks, white shirts and ties, are
the latest version of The Drifting Cowboys: Don Helms, steel
guitar; Jerry Rivers, fiddle; Bob McNett, lead guitar; and
HILLOUS BUTTRAM, bass fiddle and comedian.

Audrey, standing with the boys, wears a dark two-piece cowgirl
outfit with white fringe. Rhinestone "A" 's are stitched
along the hem and yoke.

Hank looks at LOUIS BUCK, the announcer:

HANK
Thank you, Cousin Louis, for those
wise words about new "phosphated"
Mother's Best Flour.

Hank looks at the clock as Don starts a soft wail on the
steel guitar, indicating that:

HANK
Friends, it's hymn time on the show,
the time when me an' the boys gather
'round the mike, take our hats off,
and do one of the old hymns. This
morning I'd like to do a song I wrote
a while back. It's one of those "Mama"
songs everyone seems to like so well,
and rightly so. I'm going to ask
Miss Audrey and the boys to help me
on the chorus. We're gonna do a song
I wrote a while back. There's a lot
of meaning in this song and it's
called, "Take a Message to My Mother."

The steel guitar intros and Hank leans over the mike. He
does not remove his hat:

"The tears and sorrow I have caused her, How I wish I could
repay, But tell her I'll be waiting for her, We'll meet in
heaven some glad day.

Audrey and the boys crowd round for the chorus. Hank leans
closer to minimize the sound of Audrey's voice:

"Take this message to my mother, It will fill her heart with
joy, Tell her that I've met my Saviour God has saved her
wanderin' boy."

FADE OUT TO A TITLE READING:

THE OPRY TOURS

Summer, 1950

The "Opry Tours" section is a montage of people, places and
events interwoven with the words and lyrics of "Ramblin'
Man."

"I can settle down and be doin' just fine, 'Til I hear an
old train rollin' down the line, Then I hurry straight home
and pack.

And if I didn't go I b'lieve I'd blow my stack, I love you,
Baby, but you gotta understand, When the Lord made me He
made a Ramblin' Man."

-- A new green Cadillac, pulling a silver tear-drop trailer,
speeds down a two-lane highway.

-- Hank and the boys arrive in a small Midwestern town in
the afternoon and stop in front of the main hotel.

-- Hank, wearing a new grey outfit with red fringe, performs
in an auditorium with the Drifting Cowboys.

-- Three in the morning. The Cowboys pack their instruments
into the trailer outside the auditorium. Hank curls up on
the back seat.

-- The Cadillac limousine speeds through the night.

INT. ADOLPHUS HOTEL - AFTERNOON

The Cowboys, car-sore, straggle into the Adolphus Hotel in
downtown Dallas. Jerry Rivers talks to the DESK CLERK.

JERRY RIVERS
We're with Hank Williams.

The Clerk checks the register:

DESK CLERK
I'm sorry. There's no Hank Williams
registered here.

JERRY RIVERS
That's impossible.
(calls Don Helms)
Hey, Don, they ain't got Hank
registered here.

LATER, the Cowboys stand in the lobby beside their
instruments, not quite sure what to do. The HOTEL DETECTIVE
walks over to them:

HOTEL DETECTIVE
You boys lookin' for Hank Williams?

DON HELMS
Yeah.

HOTEL DETECTIVE
The singer?

JERRY RIVERS
He's supposed to be here.

HOTEL DETECTIVE
He checked in alright. He's up in
room 506. He's using another name.
Herman P. Willis.

CUT TO:

INT. ADOLPHUS HOTEL ROOM - DAY

Don knocks on the door to room 506. Hank, drunk and bleary-
eyed, wearing his undershirt, opens the door.

DON HELMS
Hank, what the shit you doin'? You
scared us.

HANK
What do you want?

DON HELMS
Let us in.

Don and Jerry push their way in.

HANK
Who you lookin' for?

JERRY RIVERS
You. Hank Williams.

HANK
I don't know anybody by that name.
I'm Herman P. Willis.

They both look at him: he's serious.

JERRY RIVERS
Com'on, Hank.

HANK
What are you talkin' about? Who's
this Hank Williams?

DON HELMS
He's a singer who's gotta sober up
so he can do a show at eight tonight.

HANK
Never heard of him. I'm Herman P.
Willis.

DON HELMS
If you ain't Hank Williams, then how
come you're wearin' his gun belt?

HANK
Huh?

Don turns Hank's black hand-tooled gun belt with double
holsters around so he can see the large inscription, "Hank
Williams." Hank seems befuddled.

HANK
This ain't mine.

DON HELMS
We're in real trouble, Mr. Willis.
This Hank Williams is supposed to
perform tonight. Do you think you
could fill in for him?

HANK
Maybe.

Don and Jerry relax; Hank's starting to come around. Helms
picks a fifth of Jack Daniels off the bureau and pours it
down the drain.

DON HELMS
What's the "P" stand for, Hank?

HANK
(arrogant)
Presswood, by gum.

CUT TO:

INT. DALLAS AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

An unhappy ANNOUNCER looks at his watch and walks to the
mike. Behind him the DRIFTING COWBOYS wrap up an instrumental.
He looks over the large crowd:

ANNOUNCER
I want to thank you good folks for
waiting to see this man. He hasn't
been feeling too good...

A voice calls from the audience:

HECKLER
You mean he's drunk!

ANNOUNCER
...not feeling so well, but he's
going to make it anyway
(a loud cheer goes up)
and I'm sure he won't...

The Announcer turns and sees why the cheer has gone up: Hank,
tired and a little groggy, strolls out on stage. His coat is
wrinkled and his tie loose. He gives the band no time for
its usual fanfare.

HANK
Thank you, hoss.
(turns to Jerry)
Burrhead, give me that guitar.

Hank takes the guitar from Rivers and slips the strap around
his neck. The Cowboys look worried: Hank doesn't even seem
to know where the audience is.

But this is just part of his act. Rivers breathes a sigh of
relief as Hank tugs his hat down an inch, stands in front of
the mike and tightens his knees.

HANK
Howdy, friends. They tell me you
good folks been waiting four hours
to see Old Hank. I appreciate it. I
hain't been feelin' too well...

HECKLER
You mean you've been drunk!

Hank looks over the audience then points out the Heckler:

HANK
Did you folks come to hear him or
me?

Many cries of "You, Hank."

HANK
Then would somebody get a shovel and
some sand and move that out of here?

Ten burly farm boys climb from their seats and drag the
Heckler out of the auditorium.

The audience loves it. Hank's antics only add to his
popularity.

HANK
(satisfied)
I wanna do a little tune I jus' wrote,
then me an' the boys will play
whatever you want for as long as you
want.
(cheers)
This one's about a fella whut's in
love with a woman with a "Cold, Cold
Heart." Boys, get me started.

Hank closes his eyes, grits his teeth and sets into a soulful
moan that makes "the hair grab at the back of your neck."

HANK
"I tried so hard, my Dear, to show
that you're my ev'ry dream, You're
afraid each thing I do is just some
evil scheme. A mem'ry from your
lonesome past keeps us so far apart,
Why can't I free your doubtful mind
and melt your cold, cold heart..."

The audience listens in rapt silence. "You could hear a pin
drop when Hank was working," Little Jimmy Dickens said
wistfully, "He just seemed to hypnotize those people."

CUT TO:

-- Strains of "Ramblin' Man" blend with those of "Cold, Cold
Heart."

-- The long, green Cadillac speeds through the night.

INT. CADILLAC LIMO - DAY

Hank hunches over his Martin, writing and humming to himself.

The car hits a pothole and Hillous, at the wheel, cusses:

HILLOUS BUTRUM
Goddamnit all.

Hank looks up and says sharply.

HANK
That tears it, Mule. Pull over. Right
up here.
(gestures)

Hillous pulls in front of a country store and Hank walks out
and goes in.

A MOMENT LATER, he returns with an empty cigar box. He gets
back in without saying anything as he cuts a hole in the top
of the box. Hillous drives back onto the road.

Hank shows the boys the box.

HANK
I don't want to hear any more cussing
or taking the Lord's name in vain.
Anybody whut does has got to put two-
bits in the box.

DON HELMS
Which words you mean, Harm?

HANK
You know, any that use the Lord's
name.

DON HELMS
How'bout other words? My mouth ain't
no prayer book, you know.

HANK
There's two words I don't like to
hear.

HILLOUS BUTRUM
I know "shit" is one of them.

Hank recoils as if struck by a stick.

HANK
Ooh, don't say that word, Mule.

DON HELMS
What's the other one?

JERRY RIVERS
Does it start with F?

Hank does not answer.

DON HELMS
Is it "fuck?"

HANK
Ooh, ooh, Shag -- don't say that
word!

Hank gives the box to Jerry and settles against the seat
with a triumphant air.

CUT TO:

-- Hank sits backstage somewhere working on a song. His hat
is pulled over his eyes and his legs are folded atop each
other. He looks like a man wrapped in his own cocoon.

-- A GUN SHOP OWNER shows Hank a pair of pearl-handled
revolvers.

-- Hank makes a long distance call from his hotel room. There
is no answer.

-- It's late afternoon and the Caddy speeds down those never-
ending roads. Hank, pissed and a little drunk, makes a crack
from the back seat. Hillous quickly turns around and hands
him the cigar box. Hank pulls out a five-dollar-bill and
stuffs it in as if to say, "So there."

EXT. MADISON HOSPITAL - NIGHT

Don Helms drives the Cadillac through the gates of the
"Madison Hospital" and stops in front.

Hank, wedged between Hillous and Jerry in the back seat, is
dead to the world.

DON HELMS
Harm, we're home.

Jerry shakes Hank.

HANK
(waking up)
Huh, you said we wuz gonna git
sumptin' to eat. We gotta play
already?

JERRY RIVERS
We ate six hours ago. We're back in
Nashville.

Hank, very drunk, looks out his window:

HANK
This ain't home. Let me alone.

JERRY RIVERS
Com'on, Hank. We're getting out.

Jerry nods to Hillous who helps him pull Hank out of the
car. Hank looks around and recognizes the hospital.

HANK
Oh no, it's the hut. No sir, you
hain't takin' me to the fuckin' hut.
I won't go.

DON HELMS
I called Audrey. She said not to
bring you home in bad condition.
Jus' to bring you straight here.

Two white-coated HOSPITAL ATTENDANTS walk toward them. Don
nods to the first. The Hospital Attendant takes Hank's arm.

1ST HOSPITAL ATTENDANT
Com'on, Mr. Williams. Let's get some
sleep.

HANK
(pleading)
Burrhead, Mule, don't let 'em take
Old Hank. Not to the hut again,
please.

The Attendants pull Hank off as Don calls:

DON HELMS
See you tomorrow, Harm.

The Cowboys turn and get back into the Cadillac.

CUT TO:

EXT. FRANKLIN ROAD HOUSE - DAY

Hank, Audrey and the Drifting Cowboys pose for publicity
photos in the pasture behind Hank and Audrey's house.

The Cowboys, wearing black western shirts and white ties,
lean to their right against the white slat fence. Hank and
Audrey stand at the end of the row. Hank wears his brown
double-breasted, white Stetson and a broad grin.

The STILL PHOTOGRAPHER takes several shots. Hank poses on
his quarter-horse, Hi-Life. He rides around a bit, then holds
his back and grimaces in pain. Don and Audrey help him
dismount.

HANK
Dam that back.
(to photographer)
Let's git a picture of Bocephus.
Where's that boy? Get Miss Raglin,
hon.

Audrey walks back to the house.

Hank poses with his chubby 1 1/2-year-old son. Hank Jr. wears
jean overalls and a 99 plastic guitar around his neck. There
was never a more bewildered child -- nor a prouder father.

MISS RAGLIN, the stout governess, watches in her white
uniform.

CUT TO:

INT. FRANKLIN ROAD HOUSE - DAY

Hank stands in the KITCHEN with Don and Jerry. The kitchen
and breakfast nook are lined with the latest copper-plated
built-ins: dishwasher, oven, stove.

Hank taps out a tune on the counter top:

HANK
"...If you're lovin' me like I'm
lovin' you, BA-BY, we're really in
love..."

Don laughs.

HANK
Go 'head and laugh, hoss, you jus'
watch. We'll sell a million songs.

Hank hears Audrey, Bob and Hillous walk in.

HANK
Com'on into the living room. I got a
suprise for you.

Hank, Don and Jerry walk into the living room and join the
others.

HANK
(to Audrey)
Get Bocephus. I want him to hear
this.

Hank takes an MGM 78 out of a drawer and puts it on the Hi-
Fi. The Cowboys sit on the sofa as Audrey and Miss Raglin
walk in with Hank Jr.

HANK
(calling)
Lycretia! Jugghead, git on in here.

Audrey sits on the piano bench with Hank Jr. as Lycretia,
now 10, joins them. Hank turns on the record player.

HANK
Listen to this!

There's a scratchy silence, followed by a lush string
orchestration and the melifluous voice of Tony Bennett: "I've
tried so hard my dear, to show you're my every dream..." To
any lover of Hank Williams and country music, Bennett's
schmalzy pop "cover" seems like the worst sort of
bowdlerization, but Hank didn't see it that way. It was proof
that he was more than a hillbilly writer -- his songs had
"crossed over."

HANK
Pappy got Columbia to cut "Cold,
Cold Heart." Listen to that. Tony
Bennett doin' one of Hank's songs.
Isn't that something?
(to Hank Jr.)
Fred says if this is popular, I can
sell more songs. Old Hank's done
crossed over. Ain't that the damndest
thing?

CUT TO:

EXT. RYMAN AUDITORIUM - EVENING

The faithful wait in line for the Saturday Night Opry.

CUT TO:

INT. RYMAN AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

Red Foley stands in front of the Prince Albert "The National
Joy Smoke" backdrop and introduces:

RED FOLEY
"...I think you all know who I'm
talkin' about, 'The Gossip of
Grinder's Switch,' Cousin Minnie
Pearl!"

Minnie bustles out wearing her familiar puffed sleeves, pouch
bag and straw hat with a $1.69 tag.

MINNIE
How-dee! I'm so proud to be here...

BACKSTAGE, Hank sits in one of the closet-sized dressing
rooms with HANK GARLAND and COWBOY COPAS. Red and Minnie's
voices occasionally echo backstage.

HANK
Whatja think of this, Copas? I've
been thinkin' 'bout writin' something
for you to record:
(sings)
"If you're lovin' me like I'm lovin'
you, Baby, we're really in love, If
you're happy with me like I'm happy
with you, Old Cupid just gave us a
shove..."

Copas listens with great interest. Although 48-years-old,
Cowboy Copas has just had his first hit and would love to
record a Hank Williams song. Hank Garland was then one of
the masters of country guitar. It's apparent from their
attitudes that Hank already commands the respect of his elders
at the Opry.

COPAS
That's great, Hank.

Hank pulls a whiskey "miniature" out of his boot and takes a
swig. He offers a drink to Copas, who accepts.

HANK
You like it, boy, it's yours.

COPAS
I think maybe you should work in
some more instrumentation. A few
guitar licks. Garland, show 'im some
"Fingers on Fire."

Garland just laughs, but Hank takes it personal.

HANK
You think that fast-fingered shit is
so great? Here, I'll show you some
real pickin'.

Hank opens the door and calls into the crowded backstage
area.

HANK
McNett, git on over here.

Bob McNett breaks away from the other Cowboys and walks in.

HANK
This here's Bob McNett. Got him off
a mountain in Pennsylvania. McNett,
this is Cowboy Copas and Hank Garland.

McNett is impressed -- and worried. Hank is unpredictable.

HANK
Play a little "Sally Goodin," boy.

BOB MCNETT
(embarrassed)
I've only been playing lead for a
year, Mr. Garland. I'm not really...

HANK
Don't give us that. Play it.

McNett, scared shitless, plays a few rudimentary chords. He
makes no attempt at frills -- he's not good enough to impress
anybody.

Hank stands and turns triumphantly to Copas and Garland.

HANK
(points to McNett)
See that, Copas, now there's a boy
who can play country and play all
the notes at the same time.

Hank turns and walks out, leaving McNett to apologize.

ONSTAGE, Red looks at the clock and says to Minnie:

RED FOLEY
Now, Minnie, I'd like to bring an
old friend of ours out here, and a
mighty popular one he is too. It's
that tall drink of water from
Montgomery, Alabama, Hank Williams!

Hank waits a moment for effect, pulls his tie to the side,
and strolls out.

Flashbulbs flare from every part of the auditorium as a cheer
goes up. Opry visitors dash to the stage, take snapshots and
go back to their seats. Lewis Crook, the Opry's oldest member,
recently recalled that "it was Hank that started the flashbulb
and screamin' thing. There wasn't too much of it before him."

HANK
Howdy Red, Minnie.

MINNIE PEARL
(mock-spoony)
Oh, there's that Hank Williams.
(to audience)
Don't he look like something?

HANK
You're pretty good lookin' yerself,
Minnie. For two cents I'd just haul
off an' kiss you.

MINNIE PEARL
Anybody got change for a nickel?

Minnie makes a big show of puckering up, and Hank, blushing,
leans over and pecks her on the cheek.

The crowd loves it -- and most of all the women. They watch
with open mouths and "bedroom eyes." Many of Hank's
mannerisms, the blushing, the crooked tie, the rocking and
moaning, were calculated to appeal to the ladies. "The sexual
thing was there alright," Minnie Pearl later said, "but most
of the women just wanted to mother him." Hank turns to the
audience with his little boy smile.

MINNIE PEARL
Wait 'til they hear 'bout this at
the Switch.

The Cumberland Boys strike up as Minnie runs offstage.

RED FOLEY
I hear you've been doin' some
travelin', Hank?

HANK
That's right. We've been out to the
midwest part of the country. Oklahoma,
Iowa, Michigan, Ohio.

RED FOLEY
Some mighty fine folks out that way.

HANK
That there are, Red.

RED FOLEY
What song they been askin' for lately,
Hank?

HANK
Well, mostly Red, they've been asking
for that new song I've put out on
the M-G-M label called "I Can't Help
It If I'm Still in Love With You."

RED FOLEY
Well, don't let me stop you.

Foley steps aside as the Drifting Cowboys hit the opening
chord.

HANK
"Today I passed you on the street,
And my heart fell at your feet, I
can't help it if I'm still in love
with you..."

CUT TO:

-- The lyrics of "I Can't Help It" turn again to those of
"Ramblin' Man":

"Some folks might say that I'm no good, That I wouldn't settle
down if I could But when that open road starts to callin'
me, There's somethin' o'er the hill that I gotta see.

Sometimes it's hard but you gotta understand, When the Lord
made me, He made a ramblin' man."

-- Hank's Cadillac and trailer speed across a wide expanse
of desert.

-- Hank sits in the back seat jotting notes on scraps of
paper. Tears roll down his cheeks.

INT. HANK'S ROOM - ROSSMORE HOTEL - DAY

Hank, sitting on the edge of the bed, talks over a bad long
distance connection:

HANK
Hello, Momma?
(a beat)
It's Hiram. I'm in Los Angeles.
(a beat)
That ain't so. I've been singing
every night. You must not of been
home. Have you seen little Bocephus?
(a beat)
Don't go saying that. How you been?

CUT TO:

INT. ROSSMORE HOTEL HALLWAY - DAY

NUDIE Cohn, 48, Hollywood's "Rodeo Tailor," walks toward
Hank's room. Although Nudie became a character in his own
right in later years, affecting outlandish styles of "western"
dress, in 1950 he was just a transplanted Brooklyn schneider
trying to make a buck.

CHARLIE SANDERS, a private guard hired by WSM, stands at the
door to Hank's room.

NUDIE
Hi, Charlie. Hank in?

CHARLIE SANDERS
Yep.

NUDIE
Hank wanted to talk about some clothes
and go for a ride.

CHARLIE SANDERS
Okay, I'll tell him. Now, he's gonna
be in your keepin', Nudie. If he
shows up drunk or causes any trouble,
you're gonna have to answer to Mr.
Denny.

NUDIE
We're just gonna drive around.

CHARLIE SANDERS
Okay.

CUT TO:

EXT. ROSSMORE HOTEL - DAY

Hank and Nudie get into Nudie's white 1950 Hudson (with water
buffalo horns on the hood) and drive off. Hank wears a
wrinkled western shirt and dark Stetson.

CUT TO:

INT. NUDIE'S CAR - DAY

Hank turns to Nudie:

HANK
Nudie, last night I wuz working on
this song. I thought it might be
good for Little Jimmy Dickens. What
do you think of this:
(beats tune on dash)
"If you're lovin' me, like I'm lovin'
you, Baby we're really in love."

NUDIE
You can't fool me, Hank. You already
recorded that song.

HANK
What do you mean?

NUDIE
I heard it on the radio.

HANK
Oh. Well, what do you think of this...

Hank starts to beat another tune on the dash when he sees a
store out the window.

HANK
Pull up over here, hoss, I want to
get myself some Co-Cola.

Nudie slows down and looks at the small market.

HANK
It's just a reg'lar market. They
don't sell no booze. My mouth's dry.

NUDIE
(pulls to curb)
Alright.

HANK
I'll be right back.

Nudie waits a moment while Hank runs inside and buys a six
pack of Coke.

Hank gets back into the car and they head out Sunset toward
the ocean. Hank opens a Coke on the "horseshoe" door handle
and takes a drink:

HANK
I swear, boy, you're about as sus-
picious as that goddamn Audrey.

NUDIE
I don't want to get WSM on my ass.

HANK
Don't worry about them.

NUDIE
How is Audie?

HANK
Awh, I tried to call her again.

Hank looks away, despondent.

NUDIE
She gone out again?

HANK
What business is it of yours?

NUDIE
Who's asking?

HANK
It don't take much to stay around
the house, would you think, boy? Is
your wife always out?

NUDIE
It ain't my business, Hank.

HANK
Damn straight.

Hank opens a second Coke and takes a long swig.

NUDIE
You want to meet some girls tonight?
Audrey don't have to be the only
one.

HANK
(testy)
You saying something against Audrey?

NUDIE
Nope.

HANK
If anybody says anything against
her, it'll be me. That bitch.

NUDIE
What's she got for you?

HANK
She's the only one I care about.
These squirrels don't do shit for
me.
(opens another Coke)
Audie taught me everything. When I
met her I was just a boy. I'll tell
ya, when I ain't with her I miss her
so much it's almost as bad as being
with her.
(maudlin)
Her and little Hank.

Hank has started to slur his words. Nudie sniffs the air and
looks over. Hank props his knees against the dash and pushes
his hat over his eyes.

NUDIE
You feelin' alright, Hank?

HANK
Yeah, why?

NUDIE
(suspicious)
Could I have a sip of your Coke?

Hank finishes the bottle.

HANK
It's empty.

NUDIE
Open another for me, Hank.

HANK
It ain't much good. We'll save it
for later.

Nudie pulls to the side of the road and opens one of the
cola bottles.

HANK
What you doing?

Nudie takes a swig and spits the contents out the window.

NUDIE
Shit. What is this? Half rot-gut?

HANK
(innocent)
What are you talking about?

NUDIE
You know what. This here's more booze
than soda. How the hell you get this?

Hank reaches in his shirt pocket and pulls out several large
bills.

HANK
Here you go, boy. Let's go to some
hamburger joint.

Nudie tosses the remaining bottles out the window. Hank
watches them a moment, then pulls his hat over his eyes and
curls up.

HANK
Jus' leave me alone. Why can't anybody
do that?

CUT TO:

INT. RIVERSIDE RANCHO - NIGHT

In the late Forties and early Fifties, the Riverside Rancho
was the country and western club, a watering hole for Cliffie
Stone and Spade Cooley and a must waystop on every major
tour.

The room is packed from wall-to-wall. Eager young faces hang
over the stage, their wide eyes fixed on their idol. Sammy
Pruett has rejoined the band, replacing Bob McNett.

Hank sports his new Nudie outfit -- a white doublebreasted
suit with large black quarter notes down the legs, sleeves
and across the yoke -- as he rips through the last chorus of
"Howlin' at the Moon":

"I know there's never been a man in the awful shape I'm in,
I can't even spell my name, my head's in such a spin, Today
I tried to eat a steak with a big old tablespoon, You got me
chasin' rabbits, walkin' on my hands and howlin' at the moon.

LATER, Hank is standing with Nudie and the MANAGER by the
door. A SNUFF QUEEN eyes him from across the room. He turns
to the Manager and says secretively:

HANK
Hey, boy, who is that filly whut's
been givin' us the bedroom eyes?

MANAGER
Com'on, I'll introduce you.

The Manager leads Hank across the room and introduces him.

LATER, Hank pulls Jerry aside:

HANK
Burrhead, I'm going up the road a
piece to a place called the Court
Motel. Get the boys and pick me up
in about a half hour.

Jerry shrugs and nods.

CUT TO:

EXT. COURT MOTEL - NIGHT

The Cowboys, silent and tired, wait in the Cadillac outside
the Court Motel.

After a moment, a door slams. They all turn.

Hank dashes from a bungalow putting on his shirt and
straightening his half-cocked hat.

The Snuffie, wearing only a bra and panties, stands in the
door behind him.

SNUFF QUEEN
You fuckin' one-way bastard!

Hank jumps in the car.

HANK
Let's git.

CUT TO:

INT. CADILLAC LIMO - NIGHT

Hank and the boys ride along silently. Nobody knows what to
say.

Finally, Jerry breaks the silence:

JERRY RIVERS
What all was that, Hank?

HANK
Nothing.

DON HELMS
(teasing)
What you mean, nothing? Some Snuffie
comes running after you in her
underthings. What did you do to her?

HANK
I didn't do nothing.

DON HELMS
That's cause 'nuff right there.

HANK
Go ahead. Get funny, Shag.
(pause)
That was a very crazy girl. I didn't
know what she was doin'.

Everyone's curious now.

HANK
We go into this motel, you know, and
she takes her clothes off. I take my
clothes off and we fool around a
little bit. Then, just when we was
going to make love, she crawls right
up on me and shoves her pussy right
in my face. I didn't know what the
fuck she wanted, so I got my ass
out.

It takes a little while for this to sink in. Jerry ventures
a comment:

JERRY RIVERS
Well, Hank, you kinda like it when a
woman does that to you, you know,
goes down on you?

HANK
(thinks)
Yeah?

JERRY RIVERS
Well, maybe women like that too.

HANK
(a beat)
I never quite looked at it that way.

CUT TO:

INT. BALTIMORE HIPPODROME - DAY

Strains of "Ramblin' Man" are heard as a long line waits in
front of the Hippodrome. A large sign proclaims:

HANK WILLIAMS

Grand Old Opry Show

Four Shows a Day

Plus moving picture feature

CUT TO:

INT. COWBOYS' ROOM/BALTIMORE HOTEL - DAY

The Cowboys, wearing their stage clothes, sit around an
unkempt hotel room. The instruments stand nearby. Sammy Pruett
plays solitaire on the bureau.

JERRY RIVERS
If you hear snorin', it'll be Don at
steel.

Don motions to the next room.

DON HELMS
If he can make it, I can.

HILLOUS BUTRUM
I saw Rodney crackin' jokes to the
curtain yesterday.

JERRY RIVERS
Twenty-eight shows in seven days. I
never thought it would be like this.

HILLOUS BUTRUM
Jim Denny sent for Miss Audrey to
see if she can get Hank into shape.

DON HELMS
That sure is bringing fat to the
fire.

JERRY RIVERS
Old Charlie Sanders gonna catch hell.
He was supposed to watch over Hank.

HILLOUS BUTRUM
(imitates Duke of
Paducah)
"I'm goin' back to the wagon. These
shoes are killin' me."

INT. HALL/BALTIMORE HOTEL - DAY

Jim Denny confronts Sanders outside a hotel room.

CHARLIE SANDERS
I checked everything, Mr. Denny. It
just seems like he can get drunk
leaning out the window. I took his
guns.

Audrey walks down the hall toward them.

JIM DENNY
Hello, Audrey. Sorry to ask you to
fly up here like this. It isn't right
for audiences to see an Opry star
like this. He hurts the whole Opry.
And we can't drop him 'cause he's
the headliner.

AUDREY
Let me talk to him.

CUT TO:

INT. HANK'S ROOM/BALTIMORE HOTEL - DAY

Hank jumps up as soon as he hears Audrey at the door. He
grabs the bottle of Dewar's from the table, takes a swig and
stashes it in the toilet tank.

Hank is fiercely drunk -- out of control, unlike anything
we've seen before. His eyes veer erratically from left to
right, spittle drips from his mouth. "It didn't take much to
put him out of commission," Sammy Pruett recalls, "I've seen
him drunk to where he couldn't even hold water in his stomach.
He'd be foaming at the mouth like a goddamned mad dog."

To anyone unfamiliar with the extremes of alcoholism, it is
a terrifying sight. Jim Denny's jaw drops as he opens the
door. Audrey just grimaces; she's been through this before.
Hank staggers toward them. He has little idea where he is or
what he's doing.

AUDREY
Hiram! What are you doing?

HANK
(to Denny)
Why you bring her to me? Why can't I
get out of my room?
(to Audrey)
They got me locked up, Audie, like
some animal.

AUDREY
How you been getting the booze?

HANK
What are you doing here? Where's my
boy, where's Bocephus? What you done
with him?

AUDREY
He's at home, Hank.

HANK
You whore! How come you're never
home? Do I have to have every DJ
telling me about some picker who's
been a-screwin' my wife? Pulling out
the back seat of the car and going
into the woods.

Audrey doesn't hesitate: she hauls back and takes a swing at
him.

Hank grabs her by the throat and starts choking. Audrey's
screams bring the Cowboys running in from the next room.

Sanders pulls Hank away from his wife's throat. Audrey rubs
her neck as she staggers toward Denny. Jerry just stares:
"It was a shock to all of us in the band because none of us
had seen him drunk for a long while. But he was as bad that
time as I ever saw him later."

AUDREY
(to Denny)
It's just the liquor talking. There's
nothing I can do.

Denny turns to the band as Sanders wrestles Hank to the bed.

JIM DENNY
There's no use trying to get him in
shape. Take him back to the hospital
in Nashville.

CUT TO:

EXT. MADISON HOSPITAL - NIGHT

As Hank's Cadillac and trailer pull up the drive to Madison,
we hear the sounds of "Ramblin' Man" echoing from a distance.
There is no other sound:

"I love to see the towns a-passing by And to ride these rails
'neath God's blue sky.

Let me travel this land from the mountains to the sea, 'Cause
that's the life I b'lieve He meant for me.

And when I'm gone and at my grave you stand, Just say God's
called home your ramblin' man."

FADE OUT TO A TITLE READING:

THE HADACOL CARAVAN

Fall, 1951

The Hadacol Caravan was the strangest and most extravagant
traveling variety show in American history. In August and
September of 1951, Louisiana State Senator Dudley LeBlanc
assembled a menage of performers and show-biz types to promote
Hadacol, his 24-proof cure-all and elixer.

The Hadacol regulars included Dick Haymes and the Tony Martin
Orchestra, Cesar Romero, Jack Dempsey, Carmen Miranda, Minnie
Pearl, Ted Evans ("The Tallest Man in the World"), Emile
Parra ("The Man Who Skates on His Head"), Sharkey's Dixieland
Band, the Chez Paree chorus line, colored comics Pork Chops
and Kidney Stew, Candy Candido ("The Man of a Thousand
Voices") -- and Hank Williams and the Drifting Cowboys.
Special one-night guests included Milton Berle, Bob Hope,
Mickey Rooney, Burns and Allen, Jimmy Durante and Arthur
Godfrey.

The sales of Hadacol ($1.25 for eight ounces) had begun to
lag and "Couzan Dude" devised the "Caravan Good Will Tour"
to revive interest. The show traveled on a seventeen-car
train supplemented by six trailer trucks through Louisiana,
Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio and Iowa, until, in
Dallas, LeBlanc ran out of money and called the whole thing
off. Admission was one Hadacol box-top.

Few of the performers were actually paid the money promised
them, but, looking back, none regret joining the Caravan. It
was the last medicine show, the last vaudeville tour, the
first variety program -- and one hell of a good time.

Hadacol also marked a turning point in Hank Williams' life.
He was at the height of his career and popularity (making
upwards of $1200 a night). Hadacol proved he wasn't just a
hillbilly singer, but a national star. His act overshadowed
those of TV and movie entertainers like Hope and Berle. His
songs were covered on the pop charts by artists like Bennett,
Rosemary Clooney, Frankie Laine and Jo Stafford.

Yet success only aggravated Hank's insecurity and paranoia.
During the Hadacol days, he let his marriage and friendships
fall apart, established a reputation as a no-show, and became
increasingly dependent on drink.

EXT. THIBODAUX STREET - DAY

The Hadacol section begins August 16th on the main street of
Thibodaux, Louisiana. On arriving in each new town, the
Caravan sent its performers and equipment down the main drag
to advertise that night's show.

An odd assortment of Packards, DeSotos and Cadillacs lead
the way. Alongside walk chorus girls, clowns, magicians and
a cowboy doing rope tricks. A midget and Ted Evans, the 7'3?
giant, wear signs identifying themselves as "Before" and
"After" consuming Hadacol. The Dixieland band follows, playing
the "Hadacol Boogie." Six tractor trailers bearing the legend
"Hadacol: Men-Women-Children" and a calliope bring up the
rear.

Hank, Don and Jerry sit in back on an open DeSoto bearing a
sign reading, "Hank Williams and the Drifting Cowboys." Hank
waves to the crowd.

CUT TO:

INT. THIBODAUX AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

The banner above the stage reads: "Hadacol for a Better
Tomorrow." Two large cardboard cut-out bottles of Hadacol
flank the stage.

Clowns work their way through the crowd, keeping everyone in
a festive mood. One clown, dressed as a policeman, carries a
large bottle of Hadacol. Every time he takes a drink, his
glasses light up.

The Chez Paree girls dance off stage as the HADACOL ANNOUNCER
steps out.

HADACOL ANNOUNCER
Couzan Dudley LeBlanc and the folks
at Hadacol are proud to continue the
Good Will Caravan. Coming up tonight
we have Dick Haymes, Carmen Miranda,
Cesar Romero, Hank Williams, Minnie
Pearl, and George Burns and Gracie
Allen. A little later in the tour
such nationally known entertainers
as Bob Hope, Milton Berle and Jimmy
Durante will be joining the Caravan.
I'd like to take just a second to
read a testimonial about Hadacol,
the dietary supplement to give you
pep, strength and the energy of
bouyant health. An 80-year-old man
from Mississippi writes: "I was
disable to get over a fence, disable
to get up out of a chair without
help, but after I took eight bottles
of Hadacol, I can tie my own shoes
and feel like I can jump over a six-
foot fence and getting very sassy"...

BACKSTAGE, Hank, Jerry and Hillous are sitting with ROCHESTER,
Jack Benny's sidekick, and one of the Chez Paree girls.

HILLOUS
"Eight bottles!" I'm surprised the
old codger ever came down.

Hank slouches back in a folding chair, his hat low on his
forehead. His eyes pan up the long legs of the plumed
showgirl. She gives him a flirtatious wink.

JERRY
(to Hank)
You riding back with us tonight,
Hank?

HANK
Nah, Burrhead, I'm gonna fly back
with Minnie and Henry. My back's
botherin' me again. This plane ridin'
is the best thing ever happened. I
should buy me one of those things.

ROCHESTER
You boys drive back to Nashville
tonight?

JERRY
Yeah, Rochester. Hank's gotta go to
the Saturday Night Opry.

HILLOUS
Get off this here merry-go-round for
a day.

The Hadacol Announcer's voice grows louder:

HADACOL ANNOUNCER (O.S.)
And here's a boy you all been waiting
for. The number one hillbilly artist
in America today...

Hank and the boys get ready.

HADACOL ANNOUNCER (O.S.)
...The Lovesick Blues Boy, Hank
Williams!

Don and Sammy crowd around as they prepare to go out. Hank
turns to them:

HANK
Let's hit 'em real hard tonight.

Hank gives a final wink to the chorus girl and walks ON STAGE.

Hank steps up to the mike and limbers his shoulders.

HANK
Thank you, cousins. Couzan Dude been
taking me 'round your part of the
country here, and I've got mightly
partial to it. Went out t'other day --
after we'd had our Haddycol --
(laughter)
to a picnic and a goat killin'. And
I wrote a song about it. Little tune
I call "Jambalaya On the Bayou":

The crowd starts cheering and doesn't seem to stop.

HANK
"Goodbye, Joe, me gotta go, me oh my
oh, Me gotta go pole the piroque
down the bayou, My Yvonne, the
sweetest girl, me oh my oh, Son of a
gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou."

A LITTLE LATER, Hank and the Cowboys walk backstage to a
thunderous applause.

They immediately start packing their gear. DICK HAYMES waits
for the cheering to die down.

The Announcer tries to quiet them. Chants of "Hank, Hank."

Hank, guitar case in hand, steps over to Haymes:

HANK
Hey, Haymes, think you can beat that?

Hank turns and walks away before Haymes can respond. "It
just tickled Hank pink when a 'popular' star couldn't follow
him on stage," Jerry Rivers remembers about the Hadacol tour.
"He'd get that crowd all excited, then just sit back and
grin."

EXT. FRANKLIN ROAD HOUSE - NIGHT

A sedan drops Hank off in the driveway. He waves goodbye and
walks toward the front door with his guitar case. He wears a
long white western trench coat with black piping.

CUT TO:

INT. HANK'S LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

Hank, a grin spread from ear-to-ear, whirls his two-year-old
son in his arms. Miss Raglin watches on disapprovingly. Audrey
has dyed her hair platinum blond.

AUDREY
Maybe you ought to let him get back
to sleep.

Hank looks at Bocephus -- he is already sleeping.

HANK
Awh, I want my son to know his old
man. I'm gonna buy him a baseball
bat and mitt.

AUDREY
He's only two.

MISS RAGLIN
I think he's already asleep.

Hank gives Bocephus to Miss Raglin and she carries him toward
the bedroom.

Hank plops on the sofa and stretches out. He removes his hat
and tie and throws them on a nearby chair. His hairline
continues to recede.

HANK
Had a big week, hey baby?

AUDREY
Not 'specially.

HANK
Been doin' some travelin'?

Audrey tries to appear innocent -- although she isn't even
sure of what Hank is going to accuse her of.

HANK
Couldn't get you on the phone Tuesday
or Wednesday.

AUDREY
I was just out. I tried to get you
at the Hotel Fredrick in New Iberia
but you were never in.

HANK
I just took a look at the car, Audie.
You put three hundred and fifty miles
on the speedometer. Where'd you go?

AUDREY
I went nowhere, Hank. Don't talk to
me that way.

HANK
Where you gonna go fifty miles a
day?

AUDREY
It's ten miles just downtown.

HANK
I wouldn't try that righteous stuff
on Old Hank. Ev'rybody in Nashville
knows about you but me.

AUDREY
Shut your filthy mind.

Hank fumbles in his pocket and pulls out a handful of
cigarette butts. He lines them up on the coffee table.

HANK
Lookee-here, Audrey. I found these
in the ashtray. There ain't but two
of 'em that's got any kind of lipstick
on 'em at'all.

AUDREY
I'm supposed to ride in the car alone
all the time?
(calling out)
Lycretia, come in here. Miss Raglin,
get Lycretia.

HANK
(standing)
Don't you get Lycretia up. Just so
you don't have to account for
yourself.

AUDREY
I won't listen to any more of this,
Hank Williams.

Lycretia, rubbing her sleepy eyes, appears at the door.

HANK
(kind)
Go back to bed, Lycretia.

AUDREY
(holds out arms)
Come over to Momma.

Hank points at Audrey:

HANK
You either put Lycretia back to bed
or I'm gonna take you out in the
garage.

Audrey, angry, goes to the closet and grabs her coat.

AUDREY
Don't bother, Hank. I'm going out.

HANK
Go ahead and leave. Leave.
(as she does)
If you don't leave me, I'll find
somebody that will!

Audrey slams the door behind her. Miss Raglin walks in to
take Lucretia back to bed.

MISS RAGLIN
Miss Audrey leave?

Hank pulls a thick wad of dollar bills out of his pocket and
throws them on the kitchen table.

HANK
Don't worry. She'll be back. She
forgot to take my money.

Hank opens the cabinet and looks around for a whiskey bottle.

CUT TO:

INT. CASTLE STUDIOS - DAY

The Duckhead Overalls Show was one of WSM's Saturday Night
Opry "warm-up" shows. Each Saturday one of that night's Opry
stars would host a 5:00 - 5:15 segment, do a few songs, plug
Duckhead, plug the Opry and plug himself.

Hank hunches over the mike finishing "Men With Broken Hearts,"
one of the pathetic recitations he did under the name of
Luke the Drifter. When asked about the "true" Hank Williams,
his closest friends often refer the inquirer to the
recitations and hymns. "Listen to that morbid, sentimental
stuff," said Vic McAlpin. "That was the real Hank Williams."

HANK
(recitation)
Life sometimes can be so cruel that
a heart will pray for death, God,
why must these living dead know pain
with every breath, One careless step,
a thoughtless deed, and then the
misery starts, And to those who weep,
death comes cheap, These men with
broken hearts.

Tears form in Hank's eyes as he finishes the song. He looks
out over the audience. Several women are dabbing their moist
eyes with handkerchiefs.

Hank steps back as Don wrings the last tearful chord out of
the steel guitar:

HANK
Take it on the turnaround, Shag.

Helms starts "Broken Hearts" up again as Hank walks back to
the mike and resumes the recitation. Jerry and Hillous look
quizzically at Don.

CUT TO:

INT. MOM'S - NIGHT

Mom's was the favorite hang-out of the Opry entertainers; it
had a back room where a performer could drink undisturbed,
and its rear door was only a five-second sprint from the
Ryman stage exit. In 1960, Tootsie Bess bought Mom's and
renamed it "Tootsie's Orchid Lounge." For many years,
Tootsie's was a Country and Western institution, then it
became a shrine, soon it will be a relic.

Hank, Red and Don sit around a table. Red and Don are drinking
beers, Hank a Coca-Cola. Hank lights a cigarette as Lefty
Frizzell sings "Always Late" on the "coin machine."

DON
Why'd you go through "Broken Hearts"
again, Harm? We 'bout ran outta time.

HANK
Well, damn it, Shag, did you look
out at the audience? Wasn't enough
cryin'. Jus' a couple ladies dabbing
at their faces. That recitation got
to bring out the crying.

HUGH CHERRY, 29, a local DJ, walks past with a beer.

HANK
Hey, Cherry, come here, boy.

Cherry steps over.

CHERRY
Yeah, Mr. Williams.

HANK
Cherry, I hear you got a kid born
whut's got a hair lip, a cleft mouth?
(gestures)

CHERRY
Yeah.

HANK
How much it cost to fix up your kid?

CHERRY
Two-three thousand dollars.

HANK
You got that kind of money?

CHERRY
No.

HANK
I'll tell you what to do. You go to
a doctor and get that kid all fixed
up. Don't spare no expense. And send
Old Hank the bill.

Cherry is flabbergasted. He starts to protest:

HANK
I don't want to hear no refusin'.
You jus' take care of that boy. That's
all. If you don't take my money I
won't talk to you again.

CHERRY
(effusive)
Thank you, Hank. It's...

HANK
And come by later backstage and see
me. You know?

Hank's demeanor indicates he wants Hugh to bring him a drink
backstage -- something Red Foley doesn't miss.

RED FOLEY
That was white of you, Hank.

Red Foley's "Peace in the Valley," then a hit, comes on the
jukebox. Hank listens to the opening chords:

HANK
I sure like the way you sing that
song, "Peace in the Valley." I don't
think I've ever heard singing as
beautiful.
(pause)
I wanna ask you a favor, Foley.

RED FOLEY
Anything, Hank.

HANK
You know, if a feller does some
drinkin', like you and me, it don't
mean he don't believe in God.

RED FOLEY
I know that.

HANK
Will you sing that song "Peace in
the Valley" at my funeral?

Foley just looks at Hank:

RED FOLEY
(flabbergasted)
What are you talking about, Hank?

HANK
If I go before you, I wondered if
you'd sing "Peace in the Valley" at
my funeral.

RED FOLEY
Why, Hank, I'll be gone long before
you. How old are you, 29?

HANK
27.

RED FOLEY
I got a lot of years on you. I'll be
singing for God by the time you die.

HANK
Yeah, maybe.
(a beat)
Just the same, Foley, I'd... 'preciate
it.

Hank's mood casts a morbid glow over the table.

CUT TO:

EXT. RYMAN AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

Hugh Cherry, wearing a top coat, walks over to the rear door.
Charlie Sanders stands guard.

CHARLIE SANDERS
Hey, Cherry. Put up yer arms a minute.

Cherry raises his arms as Sanders frisks him.

CUT TO:

INT. RYMAN AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

Cherry and Hank crowd into the small MEN'S ROOM. A single
bulb illuminates the narrow wedge-shaped closet. A long trough
of soldered tin serves as a urinal.

Hank turns Cherry around, lifts up his coat and pulls a pint
of Jack Daniels from Hugh's waistband.

HUGH CHERRY
Jim Denny'd kill me if he found out.

HANK
(taking a drink)
Don't worry about him boy.

LATER, Hank stands alone as Pee Wee King and his Light Crust
Doughboys sing "Slow Poke" on stage.

Hank walks over to STEVE SHOALS, 40, ERNEST TUBB, 37, EDDIE
ARNOLD, 33, and RED FOLEY, 42. Shoals was a record executive
for RCA.

HANK
(ornery)
Hey, Shoals.

They all turn.

STEVE SHOALS
Yeah, Hank.

HANK
Hank Snow said that you wouldn't let
him record my song for RCA. You said
it was low class.

Hank is het up to fight -- the last thing anybody wants.

STEVE SHOALS
(defensive)
We didn't think it was right for
Hank.

HANK
Since when is a Hank Williams' song
too low class for you?

RED FOLEY
Now, Hank.

Hank lifts his guitar over his head like a club.

HANK
I oughta break your fuckin' head
open right now, you goddamn Jew
bastard.

Red lunges over and grabs Hank's guitar. Tubb and Arnold
restrain him.

HANK
Shoals, you take these boys here,
Red Foley, Eddie Arnold, Ernest Tubb,
you go out on the street and stack
up their new records, then you stack
up a stack of new Hank Williams
records, and see which one people
will buy first. You just see.

Hank turns to the others for confirmation:

HANK
Which one would they buy?

Foley, Tubb and Arnold -- the three most prestigious names
in country music -- all murmur assent ("They'd buy yours,
Hank") and look at each other. Nobody wants to tangle with
Hank, although the implications of his statement are somewhat
staggering: it would be as if Norman Mailer, at the age of
27, had insisted that Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner all
jointly agree that he was the best American novelist.

Shoal's eyes catch Jim Denny's as Denny walks over.

JIM DENNY
What's the problem, Hank?

Denny walks off with Hank, leaving Foley, Arnold, Tubb and
Shoals to shrug and shake their heads.

HANK
It's nothing.

JIM DENNY
You're drunk again, Hank.

HANK
Yeah, but I got reason to be.

JIM DENNY
What's that?

HANK
She's standing right over there.

Denny turns and sees Audrey dressed in a white, sequined
gown. Her hair whirls in a bouffant style above her head.

JIM DENNY
Oh, no. Audrey ain't going on the
Opry tonight. You gave me your word,
Hank. You said she'd never be on the
Opry again.
(Hank just shrugs)
She can be on the Duckhead Show, but
not the Opry.

HANK
Well, hoss, you gotta look at it
this way. Either she goes on the
Opry tonight or I can't go home.

JIM DENNY
This is the last time.

HANK
I swear it, Mr. Denny. As God is my
witness, I swear it.

LATER, Hank and Audrey stand next to Red Foley in front of
the Prince Albert backdrop.

RED FOLEY
...later Grant Turner will tell us a
little about Hank and Audrey's Corral.
You opened up a store, huh Hank?

HANK
Yeah, see if you can sell somethin',
Red.

RED FOLEY
But right now, I want you to do that
song that you got up there on the
charts. It always seems like you've
got one song or another up there.

HANK
Yeah, this one's called, "Hey, Good
Lookin', what you got cookin', how's
about cookin' somethin' up with me."

RED FOLEY
And you've got somebody pretty good
lookin' to sing it with.

HANK
That's right. Miss Audrey's gonna
hep me out on this song. As pretty
and fine a wife as any feller could
want -- and got a mighty pretty voice,
too. So, c'mon, hon, let's sing 'em
that song.

Hank and Audrey step over to the mike. As the Cowboys start
to play, Hank twists the microphone to favor his voice:

HANK AND AUDREY
"Hey, Good Lookin', whatcha got
cookin', How's about cookin' somethin'
up with me."

CUT TO:

INT. FRED ROSE'S ATTIC - DAY

Hank, pen in hand, sits at Fred's desk. Rose paces across
the room.

HANK
I got to get on the road, Pappy. The
Caravan's in Augusta tonight.

FRED
First you'll write this apology to
Steve Shoals. Why did you call him a
"Jew bastard?"

HANK
I'm sorry, Pappy. I was drunk.

FRED
He ain't even Jewish.

HANK
I didn't know.

FRED
What's wrong with you, Hank? Can't
you moderate yourself at all?

HANK
That's my business.

FRED
Mine, too.

HANK
I'm gettin' better. I'm takin' these
pills now.

FRED
I was the worst drunk in the whole
music business until I found Christian
Science.

HANK
I may be just a drunk, but you should
of seen my Daddy. Now there was a
drunk.

FRED
You've got to control yourself. You're
in trouble, Hank.

HANK
I can't help it, Pappy. It's that
goddamn Audrey and Momma. They're
pullin' me apart from separate sides.
I can't sleep. They're at me. They
both need the money. If I quit for
two weeks I'd be broke.

FRED
That's not true.

HANK
It's like they're pulling right at
my body, Pappy. I'm in pain.

FRED
You've got to have that back
operation.

HANK
I'm in that kinda pain, too.

FRED
I'll warn you. The Opry is very upset.
Henry Stone himself called me. You're
giving WSM a bad reputation.

HANK
They're just jealous.

FRED
Who?

HANK
Everybody. And those business
executives, they're the worst of
all. You've been to New York, Pappy,
you know what I'm talking about.

FRED
(confused)
They treat you great in New York.
You've got Mitch Miller, Columbia,
MGM all pushing your songs...

HANK
That's not what I'm talking about.
You know what I mean. You go to New
York and they look down on you like
some hillbilly. Don't matter how
many records you sell. On the Caravan,
I can shut down any act: Hope, Berle,
you name it. But they still look
down on you.

FRED
Who?

HANK
Everybody.

CUT TO:

EXT. MONTGOMERY - DAY

The Hadacol motorcade heads up Perry Street past the red
brick Municipal Auditorium.

Hank and Lilly ride in the back of an open white convertible.
A poster on the side of the car reads: "Montgomery's Hank
Williams" and "Mrs. Williams."

Hank, wearing his white fringe and rhinestone jacket, waves
to the crowd.

W.A. Gayle, the "Mayor of Montgomery," rides in a dark Packard
followed by the majorettes and the marching band of Sydney
Lanier High School.

CUT TO:

INT. MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

The orange-and-white Hadacol banner stretches across the
stage, flanked by the now-battered Hadacol bottle displays.

The Hadacol Announcer stands at the mike with Hank, Lilly
and JAMES WORTHINGTON, an officious man in a brown double-
breasted suit and bow tie. Lilly wears her black dress, lace
collar and short "bubble" hair-do.

Hank slings his guitar to the side as Worthington reads an
official proclamation:

WORTHINGTON
"...therefore I, James E. Folsom,
Governor of the sovereign state of
Alabama, do hereby designate Hank
Williams an official Good Will
Ambassador from the state of Alabama."

The Announcer leads the applause. Hank smiles and shifts his
shoulders.

HANK
Thank you very much, Mr. Worthington.

Lillian looks at Hank adoringly. He leans over and kisses
her. No mother was ever closer to Heaven than Lilly Stone at
that moment.

HADACOL ANNOUNCER
Say something to the folks, Hank.

HANK
Well, hoss, hain't got too much to
say. Jus' to thank the Guv'ner and
the folks here in Montgom'ry.

HADACOL ANNOUNCER
Then maybe you'll sing a song for
us.
(many cheers)

HANK
Be glad to, boy. I'd like to do a
new song I jus' wrote, a sad little
thing called, "What Can I Do, You
Win Again."
(to band)
Let's hit it, boys.

Hank chooses this moment to sing one of his most personal
and melancholy songs. His voice leaves no doubt that the "I"
of the song is none other than the Good Will Ambassador
himself, Hank Williams:

HANK
"The news is out all over town, That
you've been seen a-runnin' 'round, I
know that I should leave, but then,
I just can't go, you win again.

This heart of mine could never see what ev'rybody knew but
me, Just trusting you was my great sin, What can I do, you
win again."

CUT TO:

EXT. FRANKLIN ROAD HOUSE - DAY

Christmas decorations and lights are strung along the bushes
and railings. A cardboard Santa Claus, his sack bulging with
gifts, has one foot already in the chimney. His faithful
reindeer wait on the roof.

CUT TO:

INT. FRANKLIN ROAD HOUSE - DAY

The Williams' BEDROOM is decorated in Audrey's progressively
tasteless style. Her white "antiqued" Louis Seize bedroom
set has no relation to Hank's life or tastes.

Hank, wearing a back brace, sits up in bed reading a "Vault
of Horror" comic. Hank Jr., wearing a western-styled jumper,
plays on the floor with large blocks. A radio, a glass of
water, several vials of medicine (one labeled "morphine")
and a surgical syringe sit on the night table. Little Jimmy
Dickens sings "They Locked God Outside the Iron Curtain" on
the radio.

Hank looks over his comic book at his son. He sets his comic
aside, placing it atop a dozen or so other comics -- all of
the grotesque E.C. horror series.

HANK
Hey, Bocephus.

Hank Jr. continues playing.

HANK
Come here. Come over to Daddy, Bo.

Hank Jr. doesn't seem to hear him. Like many men raised
without a parent or in poverty, Hank idolized his son. He
wanted Bocephus to have everything he didn't.

Hank tries to reach over and touch his son, but is restrained
by his brace.

In the LIVING ROOM, ROSE SHAPIRO shows Audrey her new diamond
bracelet. Rose Shapiro, a close friend of Audrey's is draped
with expensive jewelry. Mrs. Shapiro, of Shapiro's Jewelers,
encouraged and cultivated Audrey's taste for "fashion design"
jewelry and clothes.

Brightly-wrapped presents have been placed around the
Christmas tree. A plastic guitar is placed atop the tree in
place of the traditional star.

Hank calls out from the bedroom:

HANK
Audie!

Audrey calls to Miss Raglin.

AUDREY
Miss Raglin, see what he wants.

Miss Raglin walks into the BEDROOM to find Hank half-stretched
out on the floor.

HANK
Help me up.

MISS RAGLIN
(helping him up)
You shouldn't be trying to get out
of bed yet, Mr. Williams.

HANK
I just wanted to hold Bocephus. Bring
him over.

Miss Raglin picks Hank Jr. up and places him beside his
father.

MISS RAGLIN
How you feeling?

HANK
(playing with Bo)
I don't think I've ever been this
happy. I'm feeling so good I haven't
written a song in two weeks. Where's
Audie?

MISS RAGLIN
She's in the living room with Mrs.
Shapiro. Should I get her?

HANK
Nah. I don't like that Mrs. Shapiro.
She puts the wrong ideas in Audrey's
head -- and that ain't hard.
(gestures)
Open that drawer there.

Miss Raglin turns to the dresser.

MISS RAGLIN
Here?

HANK
Yeah, the second drawer. I wanted to
give Bo one of his toys.

MISS RAGLIN
Before Christmas?

HANK
I'll buy him another. I'll get him a
train.

Miss Raglin pulls out the drawer. This is clearly "Hank's
drawer": an unsorted collection of clothes, souvenirs, guns,
and money -- two or three thousand dollars in loose bills
are scattered among the other objects.

MISS RAGLIN
You know that Hank Jr. isn't old
enough for a train yet.

Hank looks disappointed. "I always regret I never let him
buy that train," Miss Raglin said twenty-five years later.
"Because I knew he didn't want it for Hank Jr., he wanted it
for himself."

HANK
There's a toy gun set I got in
Charleston in there.

Miss Raglin picks up a hand-tooled chrome-plated Colt .44.

HANK
No, that's a real one.

She finds the toy holster set. She gives it to Hank who puts
it on Hank Jr. A smile breaks across his face.

CUT TO:

INT. JERRY RIVERS' HOUSE - NIGHT

JUNE RIVERS, Jerry's wife, answers the phone. Open Christmas
presents are spread under their tree.

JUNE RIVERS
Yeah, Hank.
(a beat)
You want to talk to Jerry?
(a beat)
No, that's alright.
(a beat)
What's wrong?
(a beat)
Where's Audrey?
(a beat)
Where's Miss Raglin?
(a beat)
Don't you have anybody to cook
anything for you?
(a beat)
Look, I'll come over and make some
soup.
(a beat)
No, no, Hank. We'll be right over.

She hangs up and turns to Jerry.

JUNE RIVERS
There's something wrong with Hank.
Let's go over.

CUT TO:

EXT. FRANKLIN ROAD HOUSE - NIGHT

Jerry and June pull into the drive. Hank, barefoot, is
drunkenly wandering around the front yard in his pajama
bottoms and back brace.

Gifts and food have been thrown all over the yard. A large
Christmas ham, several pistols, and a pair of women's shoes
lie on the grass. Hank bends over and picks up a mink coat.

Jerry and June rush over to him.

JERRY RIVERS
(supporting him)
What's wrong, Harm?

HANK
Just leave all this other shit. I
was gonna just leave the coat, but I
figur'd I paid for it, so I better
get it.

JERRY RIVERS
Where's Audrey?

HANK
I don't know. She left. Miss Raglin's
on vacation. What kind of woman would
throw a mink coat out on the lawn
like this?

JUNE RIVERS
You've got to get back in bed.

Jerry motions to June to open the front door as he helps
Hank back inside.

JERRY RIVERS
(to June)
Make some strong coffee.

CUT TO:

EXT. FRANKLIN ROAD HOUSE - DAY

Hank pulls his new baby blue Cadillac convertible in front
of the house. "Auld Lang Syne" plays on the car radio.

Hank gets out stiffly and notices Audrey's yellow Cadillac
in the garage. He walks over and examines it.

He straightens his Stetson and walks inside.

CUT TO:

INT. FRANKLIN ROAD HOUSE - DAY

Hank walks in and sees Audrey sitting with Rose Shapiro and
DORIS DAVIS. All three are overdressed for the holidays.

Anger flashes across Hank's face.

HANK
There you are.
(points to Rose)
And you too. Get out of my house,
Rose.

AUDREY
Shut up, Hank.

HANK
(to Rose)
Jus' 'cause you screw around on your
husband don't mean you can go around
telling everybody else to. I don't
want you in my house.

AUDREY
Hank Williams, you bastard! Apologize.

Hank walks into the bedroom, leaving three angry women in
his wake. Audrey looks at Rose Shapiro as if to say, "He
won't get away with this."

A moment later, Hank walks back in with his cannon-sized
Colt revolver.

HANK
Get out of my house! You bitch!

Hank fires a shot into the ceiling. The women scream and
scramble for the front door.

He fires two more shots over their heads as they leave.

FADE OUT TO A TITLE READING:

END OF THE OPRY

Summer, 1952

EXT. MADISON HOSPITAL - DAY

Hank walks out of the sanitarium with Don Helms and RAY PRICE,
25. He is wearing a single-breasted navy sport jacket and
grey fedora.

Price walks alongside Hank with fawning admiration. Williams
first heard Price on the Big D Jamboree in Dallas, took him
on tour, helped him get a recording contract and a spot on
the Opry.

Williams and Price get into Hank's blue Cadillac, wave goodbye
to Don and drive off.

CUT TO:

EXT. FRANKLIN ROAD HOUSE - DAY

Price drives slowly past Hank's old house. Hank, slouching
in the seat, looks to see if there are any strange cars in
the driveway. There are.

CUT TO:

EXT. NATCHEZ TRACE HOUSE - DAY

Price parks in front of the two-story red brick house Hank
has rented on the outskirts of Nashville.

They get out and walk inside.

CUT TO:

INT. NATCHEZ TRACE HOUSE - DAY

Hank's house looks as if two hillbilly singers live there.
Clothes, guitars, guns, sheet music, awards, photos and
clippings are generously spread around the room. A crooked
painting of the Grand Tetons hangs over the sofa. Hank finally
has a house he can decorate any way he chooses. And he's
made a mess of it.

Hank plops down and dials the phone:

HANK
(on phone)
Hello, is this...?

There's a long pause as Hank cups the receiver and looks
away with disgust. Audrey -- on the other end of the line --
won't speak to him.

HANK
(on phone)
Miss Raglin?
(a beat)
Is Momma there? Put her on.
(a beat)
Yeah, Momma. It's alright. You
bringing Bo over?
(a beat)
I'll send Ray to pick you up.

CUT TO:

EXT. NATCHEZ TRACE HOUSE - DAY

Hank waits as Price drives up with Lilly and Hank Jr. He
greets his mother with a kiss as he takes Bocephus into his
arms.

They walk toward the house; Price drives off.

CUT TO:

INT. NATCHEZ TRACE HOUSE - DAY

Lilly opens a box wrapped in pink paper as Hank plays on the
sofa with his son.

Lilly removes a mink fur piece. Hank watches her a moment,
then says drolly:

HANK
Happy Mother's Day, Lilly.

Lilly, in her own Marjorie Mainish way, is overcome with
emotion:

LILLIAN
Oh, Hiram. This is so beautiful. Too
beautiful for me.

HANK
Trade it in. At least Audie didn't
get it. She got ev'rything else. I
thought if I gave her half, she'd
come back.

Lilly sits down beside Hank and Bo. The years of performing,
hustling and drinking have taken their toll on Hank's body.
Each year his eyes seem to sink further into his head. His
clothes hang loosely on him, his hairline has receded another
inch. His smile is less contagious than before; each grin
seems to take more effort. He's been on the road fourteen
years, more than half his life.

LILLIAN
Don't let it trouble you. You're
better off now, Hiram. She ain't
worth it. Some women are good for
their husbands, other women don't
seem to care at all.

HANK
I came by the house and she wouldn't
let me see Bo.

Lilly looks at an autographed photo of Hank and Perry Como
taken on the set of Como's CBS TV show.

LILLIAN
Look on the bright side. There ain't
ever been an Alabama boy did well
like you.

Lilly telling Hank to "look on the bright side" has the
persuasive force of Niobe advising Jeremiah to "cheer up."
Hank just nods.

LILLIAN
(continuing)
You'll always have your Momma. They'll
never take your love from me.
(a beat)
What is Perry Como really like?

Hank's mood brightens as he massages Hank Jr.'s head.

CUT TO:

INT. RYMAN AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

Hank stands at the WSM mike wearing his white Stetson, navy
blue western suit with yellow arrow epaulets and red-and-
silver hand-painted tie. He waits for this cue from the steel
guitar, slips a tear into his voice and finishes the final
chorus of his new hit, "Half as Much":

HANK
"If you missed me half as much as I
miss you, You wouldn't stay away
half as much as you do, I know that
I would never be this blue, If you
only loved me half as much as I love
you."

Hank tips his hat, takes his guitar by the neck and ambles
off stage.

As he steps BACKSTAGE, he passes Ray Price, who waits
nervously in the wings.

HANK
(to Price)
Got 'em real prime for you, boy.

RED FOLEY (O.S.)
I want to bring out a Texas boy that
you've come to like. That young fella
from Dallas, Ray Price. Come out
here, boy...

As Ray walks out, Hank spots a pretty red-headed girl sitting
in the pew at the rear of the stage. She gives Hank the eye.
He runs his eyes over her, then walks over to the radio booth
where Minnie Pearl is sitting.

ON STAGE, Ray sings his first hit, "Talk to Your Heart."

IN THE BOOTH, Hank steps over to Minnie:

HANK
Say, Minnie, you see that gal over
there?
(gestures)
Ain't she the prettiest thing? Who's
she here with?

MINNIE PEARL
I don't know, Hank.

Hank nods and walks over to the girl, BILLIE JEAN JONES
ESHLIMAR, 19. Billie Jean, the daughter of a Bossier City,
La., policeman had quit high school the year before to marry
Harrison Eshlimar, a soldier. The marriage hadn't worked out
and she was now working as a switchboard operator in
Nashville. She was, by the accounts of her contemporaries, a
sight to behold: "so pretty you could hardly look at her."
Billie Jean offers a more blunt description: "I had the
biggest tits in Bossier City when I was 12. I was what they
call an early bloomer."

Price is at the mike as Hank strolls over to Billie Jean.
The ON STAGE Opry atmosphere is informal: Hank talks to Billie
Jean in full view of the audience.

HANK
(cock-of-the-walk)
Hey, girl.

BILLIE JEAN
Me?

HANK
What's your name?

BILLIE JEAN
Billie Jean Jones.

HANK
You married?

BILLIE JEAN
No, sir.

HANK
Who you here with?

BILLIE JEAN
Faron Young.

Billie points to where FARON YOUNG is standing.

HANK
You gonna marry him?

BILLIE JEAN
No, sir.

HANK
Well then, Old Hank jus' might marry
you. You're about the purtiest thing
I ever seen.

Hank smiles and ambles across the stage. Billie Jean watches
with great interest.

Hank steps over to Faron BACKSTAGE.

HANK
You that Faron Young boy?

FARON YOUNG
(awed)
Yessir, Mr. Williams.

Faron Young, then 20, was a Shreveport native who had come
up from the Hayride for a guest spot on the Opry. "Hank was
my idol," Faron remembers, "I would have laid on the floor
just to have him walk over me."

HANK
(gestures)
That your gal?

FARON YOUNG
Yessir, Mr. Williams.

HANK
Me an' Don and a big ol' gal I met
from Philadelphia gonna go out after
the Opry. Why don't you join us?

CUT TO:

EXT. NOCTURNE CLUB - NIGHT

A blue neon cocktail glass lights up the entrance. Hank's
Cadillac is parked out front.

CUT TO:

INT. NOCTURNE CLUB - NIGHT

Don and HAZEL HELMS, Faron, Billie Jean, Hank and a wellbuilt
GIRL IN A RED DRESS sit at a table inside the night club. A
small combo plays pop music as couples dance.

Faron, seeking Hank's approval, speaks impulsively. Hank
only listens with his ears; his eyes are all over Billie
Jean.

FARON YOUNG
You wouldn't remember, but one night
me and a couple of friends from high
school were hanging out by the back
steps of the Hayride and you came
out and I yelled, "Hank, someday I'm
gonna be a singer like you."

HANK
Yeah, I think I do remember that,
boy.
(to Billie Jean)
Where you from, Billie Jean? You
from Shreveport, too?

Billie gazes back into Hank's eyes with all the innocence
she can muster. Billie Jean says she was "just a barefoot
girl who didn't know didley-squat about sophistication" when
she met Hank. Perhaps she didn't know much about
sophistication, but she knew plenty about men: she was well-
known around the Officers' Clubs in Shreveport, had sported
with many of the Hayride stars, and was now being kept by
Faron in Nashville.

But she doesn't need any wiles to win Hank. He couldn't see
through her if she was a pane glass window.

BILLIE JEAN
(nods)
Bossier City. Me and my Momma and
Daddy used to live right down the
street from you and Audrey in Bossier.
We lived at 912 Modica. Of course it
wasn't as high-tone as your place.
It was across Rat's Alley. I used to
stand at the window and watch you
drive down the gravel in your long
blue Packard.

Hank is hooked.

HANK
You lived on Modica? By damn.

BILLIE JEAN
I used to ride to school with
Lycretia. The bus'd come right down
the street. She didn't know me, of
course, 'cause I was older, but I
knew who she was.

Hank, already a little tipsy, stands and announces:

HANK
Why don't y'all come over to my place.
Me an' Ray Price rentin' this little
place on Natchez Trace. Ray's probably
out roaring with the billies. Let's
go on over.

Faron and Billie Jean can hardly believe it. They've just
met the crown prince of country music, and he's inviting
them to his home.

DON HELMS
Me and Hazel got to get home, Harm.

FARON YOUNG
Sounds great.

CUT TO:

INT. NATCHEZ TRACE HOUSE - NIGHT

Hank has opened a large suitcase and spread it across the
coffee table. Inside are rows and rows of fancy pistols.

Billie Jean picks up a Lugar by the barrel:

HANK
That's a German Lu-gar. Bought that
in Germ'ny when we were entertainin'
the troops.

Faron pours himself another drink and hands one to Hank.
Hank's date looks docilely on. The only thing Helms, Young
and Billie Jean remember about her was that she had big
breasts and a red dress.

Billie puts the Lugar back and takes out a Colt .44.

BILLIE JEAN
Is this a .38?

HANK
No, hon, that's a Colt .44 like in
the movies. That's the kind they
used to shoot the Indians with.

Faron walks over to Hank's new 45 rpm record player.

FARON YOUNG
Hey, you got some of these 45's.
(looks at records)
What you got? Let's put something
on.

Hank looks across the room at Faron cross-eyed:

HANK
Hey, Young, come over here.

Hank walks into the bedroom. Faron puts one of his own songs
("I Knew You When") on the player and follows Hank.

Faron walks into the BEDROOM to find the large barrel of a
Colt pistol pointed squarely in his face.

Hank, holding the pistol with both hands, weaves from side-
to-side.

FARON
Hank!

HANK
Close the door.
(Faron does)
I'm in love with that girl out there,
Faron. I'm gonna marry her.

FARON YOUNG
(scared)
Put the gun down, Hank.

HANK
How hooked on her are you, son?

FARON YOUNG
It's alright, Hank. We ain't been
getting along as it is.

HANK
Let's go down to the Midnight
Jamboree. You put Billie Jean in the
back seat and I'll sit with her.
Then you drive.

FARON YOUNG
Okay. Put the gun down, Hank.

HANK
You won't hit me if I put the gun
down, will you, boy?

FARON YOUNG
No.

HANK
Promise?

FARON YOUNG
I promise, Hank.

CUT TO:

EXT. ERNEST TUBB'S RECORD SHOP - NIGHT

Faron drives down Broadway toward the famous yellow
guitarshaped sign. Post-Opry crowds stand outside the
brightlylit store.

INSIDE THE CAR, Hank is kissing Billie Jean as Faron parks
the car. Ernest Tubb's familiar bullfrog voice, live from
the "Midnight Jamboree," comes over the car radio.

FARON YOUNG
This car here squeaks, Hank.

HANK
Yeah, I bet you'd like to have one
that squeaked like this.

They get out of the car and push their way toward the store.

From 1941 to 1976, each Saturday night when the Opry signed
off at midnight, the faithful would move down the block to
the original Ernest Tubb Record Store for another hour of
live radio music. The store had no stage. The staff simply
pushed back the record racks to make room for the performers.
Tubb himself was the Master Of Ceremonies when he was in
town. When he wasn't, another Opry regular could be relied
on to take the stage. Like the Opry, the "Midnight Jamboree"
survives in a sanitized version at the new Ernest Tubb Record
Store #2 off Music Row.

Faron spots Hank turning slowly in circles and pulls Hank's
arm over his shoulder to support him.

Several people recognize Hank as they squeeze their way
inside.

CUT TO:

INT. ERNEST TUBB RECORD STORE - NIGHT

Ernest Tubb wraps up a song and drawls into the WSM mike:

TUBB
Mighty glad to do that for you. That's
"Missing In Action" available here
at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, 417
Broadway, Nashville, Tennessee on
Decca 78 number 46389 and 45 rpm
number 46389.

A rumble of excitement goes through the elbow-to-elbow crowd.

TUBB
Looks like we got an old friend comin'
up to see us. It's Hank Williams and
that young feller from Shreveport...
ah... Far-on Young.

Hank takes Faron's arm from around his shoulders:

HANK
(to Faron)
Take your arm off me, boy. These
folks'll thing Old Hank's drunk.

Hank and Faron walk over to Tubb. Hank steps directly to the
mike:

HANK
Howdy, friends, this is Old Hank
comin' out of your radio. I got my
old friend Faron Young with me and
we're gonna do that number you've
all been requestin'. Boys, git me
started.

There's an awkward pause. Tubb leans over:

TUBB
What song is it, Hank?

HANK
(confused)
Yeah. It's that old favorite... "Kaw-
liga" and if you don't know it, boys,
it starts in C and if you get lost,
just go to G and wait.

Tubb and Young join in:

HANK, FARON AND TUBB
"Kaw-liga was a wooden Indian standing
by the door..."

CUT TO:

EXT. TENNESSEE COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

Hank and Billie Jean ride through the green hills of middle
Tennessee. The top of Hank's baby blue Cadillac is down and
Billie's long, dark red hair flies in the breeze.

Hank wears a white shirt and baseball cap. Billie, bare-
footed, wears "shorts a size too small and a shirt a size
too small tied up in the middle."

Billie slurps at a vanilla ice cream cone as the ice cream
blows on her face, in her hair and over her clothes.

Billie puts her feet on the dash and wiggles her toes in the
wind. Hank keeps turning his head to look at her. He's as
happy as a kid in a candy store.

CUT TO:

EXT. SMALL TOWN 5 & 10 - DAY

Hank waits by the car outside a Five-and-Ten.

Billie Jean walks out wearing new shorts and tying the tails
of her new size-too-small shirt across her smooth, brown
stomach.

They get into the car and drive down the main street.

CUT TO:

EXT. TENNESSEE COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

Hank's tapping the dash with his right hand as he looks over
to watch Billie Jean licking on a chocolate cone. The ice
cream spatters on her new shirt. Hank looks over, beaming.

HANK
Tell you one thing, babe, Old Hank
could never be ashamed of you.

He gets an idea:

HANK
You know what I'm gonna do? Old Hank's
gonna write you a song. Get a piece
o' paper an' pencil outa the glove
compartment there and take this down
for me. Ain't got time to do it
myself.

Hank starts beating out the tune of "Your Cheating Heart" on
the dash. Hank pretends to improvise the song as he goes. He
isn't much of an actor. Fortunately for him, Billie Jean is
easily and willingly fooled.

HANK
You know I wuz telling you about
that Audrey -- about her cheatin'
heart. Well, that's what I'm gonna
write about. You take this down for
Old Hank. "Your cheatin' heart will
make you pay" -- no, "weep, will
make you weep. You'll cry and cry
and try to sleep." You like that,
hon?

Billie Jean, very much impressed, writes as fast as she can.
Hank is quite impressed with himself.

CUT TO:

EXT. NATCHEZ TRACE HOUSE - LATE AFTERNOON

Hank and Billie Jean get out of the Cadillac and walk toward
the house.

The storm door is broken and ajar. Broken glass lies on the
steps.

CUT TO:

INT. NATCHEZ TRACE HOUSE - LATE AFTERNOON

A pair of high heels sit on the living room chair.

HANK
(looking around)
That damn Reba's moved herself in.
I'll git her out.

Billie, confused, watches as Hank storms upstairs. A moment
later there are the sounds of fighting and screaming.

Hank, his spindly arms and legs flying every which way, comes
tumbling down the steps. He pulls himself up and charges
back.

Another moment later, REBA STEWART, wife of country singer
Red Stewart, comes crashing down the steps followed by Hank.

HANK
Get your country ass outa here.

REBA STEWART
I ain't leavin', you bastard! You
promised.

Hank takes a swing at her as she kicks him. Billie yells:

BILLIE JEAN
Who is this, Hank? There ain't gonna
be no fish fry tonight. I'm going
home!

Hank turns to Billie Jean and says angrily:

HANK
I ain't done nuthin'.

BILLIE JEAN
Don't lie to me, Hank. I can see.

HANK
Oh, yeah? Who you gonna believe? You
gonna believe Old Hank or are you
gonna believe your own goddamn lying
eyes?

Reba takes another swing at Hank and he hauls her kicking
and screaming out the front door.

BILLIE JEAN
(following them)
I ain't ever gonna be second! You
get rid of her, Hank. I ain't comin'
back 'til you get rid of her!

CUT TO:

EXT. NATCHEZ TRACE HOUSE - LATE AFTERNOON

Hank turns to grab Billie as she walks away. As he does,
Reba makes a dash back inside. He grabs her by the arm and
throws her off the stoop.

Reba gets up and yanks Hank off the stoop. Falling to the
ground, he takes a wild swing at her.

Billie Jean disappears around the corner and keeps going.

CUT TO:

EXT. SAN DIEGO AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

Assorted cars, vintage 1952, park along a row of palm trees.
The San Diego Auditorium announces the "Grand Old Opry Show:
Minnie Pearl, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams"

CUT TO:

INT. SAN DIEGO AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

Minnie Pearl says "Thank-ee kindly" and scoots off stage
holding her straw hat and pouch bag.

BACKSTAGE, Minnie passes the Drifting Cowboys as they carry
their instruments on stage. Don Helms looks worried:

DON HELMS
Minnie, you'd better go see Harm.

MINNIE PEARL
What's wrong?

DON HELMS
(futile gesture)
You know.

Minnie heads toward the dressing rooms.

Inside Hank's DRESSING ROOM, she finds this chilling sight:
Hank, curled in a fetal position, hides under a small lamp
table. The STAGE MANAGER and his ASSISTANT pull at his spindly
legs and arms.

Yellow vomit has dried on the front of his white suit. His
whole body shakes. He looks at Minnie and cries:

HANK
(pleading)
Tell them, Minnie. I'm sick. I can't
work. Tell them I can't go out,
Minnie. Please.

Minnie screams and pounds her fists against the Assistant's
back.

MINNIE PEARL
You can't make him go out like that!
Leave him alone!

The Stage Manager and Assistant pull Hank from under the
table and set him upright.

MINNIE PEARL
He can't play!

The Stage Manager puts Hank's hat on his head and straightens
his tie as they lead him out of the room toward the stage.

A.V. BAMFORD, the tour promoter, walks in as they leave.

MINNIE PEARL
Don't let them take Hank out there
like that, A.V. Don't.

Bamford tries to console her. Applause echoes through the
room as the announcer intros Hank.

A.V. BAMFORD
What can they do? They got five
thousand people out there who have
paid three dollars each to see Hank
Williams.

MINNIE PEARL
I know, but...

A.V. BAMFORD
Hank brings this on himself. He didn't
play at all in Bakersfield. If he
misses any more dates, I won't be
able to book him at all.

Minnie and Bamford walk BACKSTAGE. They watch Hank from the
wings.

Hank hunches in front of the mike in a parody of his former
style. His is not simulated suffering, this is real. "During
the last six months," says Minnie, "he became a different
person. He was no longer the Hank Williams I once knew."

A huge cheer goes up from the crowd as the Cowboys lead off
with the familiar chords of "Lovesick Blues." Hank instead
sings "Crazy Heart." The band quickly adapts.

HANK
"You thought she cared for you so
you acted smart, Go on and break you
crazy heart."

But after a line, Hank, confused, slips in "Lost Highway."
Don shakes his head as he again changes chords:

HANK
"I was just a lad, nearly twenty-
two, Neither good or bad, just a kid
like you, And now I'm lost too late
to pray, I've paid the cost on the
lost highway."

Hank's come a long way from the Slocomb Schoolhouse. Bamford
turns to Minnie as Hank sings:

A.V. BAMFORD
Minnie, why don't you stay with him
between shows? Maybe you can sober
him up -- at least keep him from
getting any worse. He'll go with
you. You and Maxine drive him around.

CUT TO:

EXT. SAN DIEGO - NIGHT

A CHAUFFEUR and MAXINE BAMFORD sit in the front of Hank's
dark green Cadillac limo. Hank and Minnie are in back.

Hank scrunches into the corner of the seat, his legs folded
at eye level. Maxine and Pearl lead Hank in singing:

MAXINE BAMFORD AND MINNIE PEARL
"I saw the light, I saw the light,"
c'mon, Hank.

Hank joins in for a couple lines, his cheek pressed to the
window pane, "and then," says Minnie, "he turned around and
his face just broke up. His voice was like the cry of a child
or a wounded animal:

HANK
That's the problem, Minnie. I don't
see no light.
(looks out window)
There just ain't no light. There
ain't no light.

CUT TO:

EXT. MADISON HOSPITAL - DAY

Helms walks out of the sanitarium with Williams. Hank's drying-
out sessions always gave him a false appearance of health.
He wears a black single-breasted sport coat and striped tie.

They get into Hank's blue Cadillac and drive off.

CUT TO:

FRANKLIN ROAD HOUSE - DAY

Don pulls into the drive and waits as Hank goes to the door.

Hank rings the bell. A moment later, Miss Raglin comes to
the door.

Hank speaks with her a moment, then turns and walks back to
the car. He punches his fist against his thigh as he steps
over to Don's window:

HANK
(repressed anger)
Damn her. Take me home, Shag.

CUT TO:

EXT. NATCHEZ TRACE HOUSE - DAY

Ray Price loads a cardboard box of his personal things into
his car and walks back inside.

CUT TO:

INT. NATCHEZ TRACE HOUSE - DAY

Price picks up another box as Hank walks into the LIVING
ROOM. Hank, wearing a torn shirt and baseball cap, looks
tired.

HANK
You don't have to go, boy.

RAY PRICE
I called Jimmy from your Western
store. He came over and checked out
all your outfits and boots -- to
make sure I didn't take anything.

HANK
Since when do I care about that crap?
Take it all if you want it.

RAY PRICE
You don't know how you get when you're
drunk.

HANK
It ain't that bad.

RAY PRICE
I can't take it anymore.

HANK
Don't leave me. I'm gonna be alright.

RAY PRICE
I got to.

Ray turns and carries the box outside.

CUT TO:

EXT. NATCHEZ TRACE HOUSE - NIGHT

A number of cars are parked along the road. Party noises
come from inside.

Jim Denny gets out of his car and walks in.

CUT TO:

INT. NATCHEZ TRACE HOUSE - NIGHT

A motley assortment of hillbilly hangers-on party in the
dimly-lit living room. Margaret Whiting's cover of "I Can't
Help It" plays on the record player.

Denny walks past the partiers looking for Hank.

He finds him in the KITCHEN, drunk, hanging over the table.
His grey Stetson is crooked.

JIM DENNY
Hank, they told me you were putting
on a bender.

Hank is barely coherent. He holds his stomach as if sick.

HANK
Them bones done riz again, Mr. Denny.
I got this back problem.

JIM DENNY
The Opry won't put up with you
anymore, Hank. The Opry audience are
like guests in the singer's home.

Hank doesn't answer.

JIM DENNY
Do whatever you want to yourself
this week, but I expect to see you
sober for the Friday Night Opry. If
you ain't there, you're fired from
the Opry.

HANK
Don't worry. I'm jus' feelin' a little
sick jus' now. I'll be there.

CUT TO:

NATCHEZ TRACE HOUSE - DAY

Hank dials the phone. The LIVING ROOM is a mess. Hank,
brutally hung-over, runs his hand through his thinning hair.

HANK
Hello, Mr. Denny. This is Hank.
(a beat)
I'm alright. I wanted to...
(a beat)
I know I didn't make it last night.
I'm sorry...
(a beat; apologetic)
I was sick and I wanted to come, but
I looked at my watch and it was too
late.
(a beat; contrite)
I woulda called, honest. I got
confused, you know, Mr. Denny. I'll
be there tonight.
(a beat: unbelieving,
sad)
You can't do that to Old Hank. He's
the star of the Opry. He don't need
the Opry, the Opry needs him.
(a beat)
I'm sorry.

Denny says something and Hank starts to cry. Large tears run
down his cheeks.

HANK
(on phone)
I promise, Mr. Denny. I'll do
anything. I'm getting better. I swear
to God. Just my word between you, me
and God. I swear on my own soul in
Hell that I'll never miss another
show.
(a beat)
Please, please, don't do this to me.
This'll kill Old Hank. I'll never be
late again.

CUT TO:

INT. JIM DENNY'S OFFICE - DAY

Denny sits at his desk on the phone. Tears are also flowing
down his cheeks.

JIM DENNY
I'm sorry, Hank. There's nothing I
can do about it. Come down to the
station and talk to Mr. Stapp.
(a beat)
I'm sorry.

Denny hangs up and slowly wipes the tears from his face.

CUT TO:

EXT. WSM PARKING LOT - DAY

Hank's Cadillac, the top up, sits in the WSM parking lot.

Fred Rose notices Hank slouched in the back seat and walks
over. Hank looks up. He is emotionally rung dry. No longer
crying, he's cold, almost distant from his own life.

HANK
Well, Pappy, they fired Old Hank.

FRED
I know. I met with Denny and Stapp
this morning. I couldn't do anything.

HANK
I don't blame you. It's my own fault.
My own goddam drinking. I gotta
straighten myself out.

FRED
What are you gonna do now?

HANK
I'm going back to Shreveport. The
Hayride will take me back. I'm
breaking up the band. No sense makin'
the boys work cheap. I told 'em if
they can get good money, to work for
somebody else.

ROSE
Are you sure you should stay on the
road? Maybe you should stop working
for a while.

HANK
(feigns indifference)
Don't worry, Pappy, don't worry about
anything -- nothin's gonna be alright
anyhow.

They just stare a moment at each other.

FADE OUT TO A TITLE READING:

THE LAST DAYS

Winter, 1952

EXT. MONTGOMERY - DAY

Lum York, three years older, turns the corner at the Jefferson
Davis Hotel and walks up the street.

He stops at the barber shop window, looks inside and opens
the door.

CUT TO:

INT. BARBER SHOP - DAY

Hank, having his hair trimmed, looks up as Lum enters.
Wildroot and Prince Albert signs hang on the white plank-
wood wall.

LUM YORK
Hank.

HANK
Hey, boy, what you got to say for
yourself?
(gestures)
Sit down.

LUM YORK
Your muther said you were back in
town.

Lum takes a seat in the chair next to Hank. The colored
shoeshine boy walks over, but Lum waves him off.

HANK
I'm goin' back to the Hayride. Who
needs the Opry? I'm gettin' a new
bunch of boys together. You can start
this week.

LUM YORK
I'm working for Frizzell now.

HANK
Lum, 'member when I told you you'd
always have a job with Old Hank?

Lum thinks, but doesn't remember Hank's offer. On the
barbershop radio, a local news commentator lauds the "great
work" being done by Senator McCarthy and his Committee on
UnAmerican Activities.

LUM YORK
How much you gonna pay me, Harm?

HANK
Seventy-five a week.

LUM YORK
I'm makin' $95 with Lefty right now.

HANK
Well then, forget it. I couldn't
afford to pay you the seventy-five
anyhow.
(suspicious)
Where'd you see my mother?

LUM YORK
She called me.

HANK
(more suspicious)
Why'd she do that?

LUM YORK
(evasive)
I dunno.

HANK
Don't lie to me, boy. What'd she
say?

LUM YORK
She jus' said you wuz thinkin' of
gettin' married and she wanted me to
try to talk you outta it.

HANK
What did you tell her?

LUM
I tol' her it wasn't none of my
business.

HANK
That's right. Besides, I'm gettin'
myself straight. I've got a doctor
takin' care of me now. He jus' works
with alcoholics. I'm alcoholic, which
means my blood needs to maintain a
certain level of alcoholic fluid.
When the alcohol dries out, you start
to cravin' it. That's why I take
these pills from this doctor I met
in Oklahoma. They maintain the
alcoholic fluid. If you drink any
more, you jus' puke it up.

Lum listens to this baloney, then nods.

LUM YORK
I'm glad to hear you're finally
gettin' some good treatment, Harm.

CUT TO:

EXT. DOWNTOWN SHREVEPORT - DAY

Hank, alone in his blue convertible, drives down a Texas
street and parks in front of the Commercial Bank Building.
It was just four years earlier that he had arrived here with
Audrey, Lycrecia, Lum and a mattress tied atop his old
Chrysler.

The billboards for Truman and Dewey have been replaced by
ones promoting Eisenhower/Nixon or Stevenson/Sparkman. Earl
Long is running for Governor again.

CUT TO:

EXT. MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

Crowds line up outside the Auditorium for the Saturday night
Hayride.

CUT TO:

INT. LOUISIANA HAYRIDE NIGHT

A tremendous ovation goes up as Horace Logan introduces "Hank
Williams and the Drifting Cowboys." Hank crosses in front of
the familiar Hayride barnyard backdrop, barely looking at
the audience.

The "Drifting Cowboys" -- an assortment of unemployed
musicians from the Shreveport area -- take the stage. Billie
Jean's brother, SONNY, 21, plays guitar. Gone are the matching
uniforms and the camaraderie. Their ages vary greatly. The
new Drifting Cowboys are more like the day-to-day bands Hank
assembled when he played the schoolhouses and honky-tonks.

Hank steps up to the KWKH microphone. Gone also is the
Montgomery fireball who tore down the Hayride roof four years
before. He moves and stands like an old man. His face is
drawn and without expression. His eys are empty black holes.

He marshalls his strength and smiles. He looks backstage:

HANK
C'mon out here, honey. C'mon, and
let the folks have a look at you.

He waves at Billie Jean, who bashfully clings to the curtain
backstage.

HANK
C'mon, baby.

Billie Jean, wearing a day dress and white shoes, walks on
stage. Hank puts his arm around her.

HANK
(to crowd)
Ain't she something'? You know I've
been singing about that "Yvonne"
what lives on the bayous? Well this
here is my Yvonne. Old Hank's been
robbin' the cradle.
(applause)
Me an' Billie Jean's gonna get married
in New Or'lons and y'all are invited
to come.

There's more cheering. Billie Jean smiles "thank you" and
hurries off stage. The steel player intros "I Can't Help
It."

CUT TO:

EXT. MODICA STREET - DAY

The steel guitar version of "I Can't Help It" continues as
Hank and Billie Jean play catch on the dirt road outside her
mother's house.

Hank is wearing dirty western pants, cowboy boots, an old
white shirt and a baseball cap. Billie Jean is barefoot in
shorts and a size-small man's shirt.

An old stand-up Zenith radio has been pulled on the porch at
912 Modica. The N. Y. Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers are playing
the World Series. DiMaggio is at bat.

Hank uses an old mitt while Billie catches barehanded. All
things considered, their skills are about equal.

Billie Jean tosses the ball awkwardly. It bounces off Hank's
mitt, hits his head and knocks off his cap.

HANK
(childish)
You're trying to hit Old Hank.

Hank steps over with an impish smile, then playfully throws
the ball at her. Billie Jean laughs and ducks.

Billie, barefooted, could easily outrun Hank if she wanted
to -- but she doesn't want to. Instead, she pretends to run
and trips Hank as he passes. Laughing, Hank grabs her foot.

They fall onto the grass together, wrestling like a couple
of grade school kids. Hank is all bones; Billie provides the
padding. They roll over and over.

A couple of neighbor kids watch from across the street.

CUT TO:

EXT. OKLAHOMA CITY AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

The sign advertises Hank Williams and the "stars of the
Louisiana Hayride."

CUT TO:

INT. OKLAHOMA CITY AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

Hank, on stage, wears his Nudie-tailored suit with quarter
notes running down the sides.

HANK
(to audience)
Now I've got a little surprise for
you folks. Miss Audrey flew all the
way here from Nashville so I could
see my son, Bocephus.
(beaming)
Boys, bring little Bocephus out here.

A couple members of the band head Hank Jr., wearing a suit,
on stage.

HANK
I started calling him Bocephus right
after he was born and it got to be
so he won't answer to anything else.

Hank lifts his son up and shows him off. Bo, frightened by
the noise and lights, starts crying. Hank unsuccessfully
tries to soothe him.

Hank, surprised, turns to see Audrey coming on stage.

HANK
(recovering)
Here's Miss Audrey now.

Audrey waves hello to the crowd and takes Bo from Hank.
Although Audrey (never a good actress) tries to appear
friendly and casual -- "show business" -- her ill-temper
seethes just below the surface.

She walks off with Hank Jr. without speaking directly to
Hank. He watches her a second, then motions to the band to
continue.

HANK
Alright, boys, let's set those woods
on fire:
(sings)
"Comb your hair and paint and powder,
You act proud and I'll act prouder,
You sing loud and I'll sing louder,
Tonight we're settin' the woods on
fire."

CUT TO:

INT. OKLAHOMA AUDITORIUM BACKSTAGE - NIGHT

Hank plays with Bo between shows. Audrey, sullen, just watches
them.

Audrey has flown to Oklahoma City for a purpose -- and it
wasn't to make Hank happy.

AUDREY
(after a moment)
I've got to fly back to Nashville in
a couple hours.

HANK
(surprised)
Why?

AUDREY
Got to work on my singing.

HANK
You ain't got no singing. I ain't
seen Bo in three months. Why'd you
come here if you were jus' gonna
rush him away? I gotta go back on
stage in a hour.

AUDREY
Maybe if you were more of a father,
you'd see your son more.

HANK
What's that supposed to mean?

AUDREY
You know what I mean.

HANK
See that feller with the black bag
backstage? That's Dr. Marshall. He's
got my drinkin' under control.

AUDREY
If you came to Nashville more often,
a son might even know he had a father.
(a beat)
Instead of blowing all your money on
little whores saying you gonna marry
'em.

Hank catches on.

HANK
You flew all the way here to keep me
from marrying Billie Jean, didn't
you, Audrey?

AUDREY
I don't know what her name is.

HANK
(angry)
Well, I love that little girl.

AUDREY
(incensed)
That ain't love, Hank -- and it sure
ain't that other thing 'cause you
ain't no good at the other thing.
You just want someone to treat you
like a baby and let you drink.
(stands)
You marry that little bitch, Hank
Williams, I'll go to New Orleans
with Bocephus. See what you think of
that.

Audrey grabs Hank Jr. by the arm and storms out.

CUT TO:

INT. OKLAHOMA CITY BAR - NIGHT

Hank steps up to the bar. Sonny dutifully follows. Hank pulls
out a ten-dollar bill and slaps it on the counter.

The BARTENDER brings a Jax.

SONNY
(reaches in pocket)
Here. I'll pay for it.

BARTENDER
(holds $10)
I'll take it out of this.

SONNY
No.

BARTENDER
What's this for then?

Hank tries to get the beer into his stomach as quick as
possible. As soon as he does, it comes flying up again. Hank
pukes all over the bar. Sonny now gives the Bartender the
ten-dollar bill.

SONNY
It's to clean up after him.

TOBY MARSHALL, 43, walks into the bar. Dressed in a black
suit, he carries his ever-present "little black bag."

Horace R. Marshall first became acquainted with alcoholics
when he was arrested for forging checks while representing
himself as working for Florida A.A. He bought a diploma from
a magazine salesman and devoted himself full-time to
"alcoholic therapy." His treatment included, by his own
admission, Dextro-amthetamine sulphate, Seconal and Chloral
Hydrate, a "knockout" sedative. It also included, by the
testimony of others, heroin. Marshall was investigated by
the State of Oklahoma when, shortly after Hank's death,
Marshall's own wife died of a mysterious overdose. At the
time he was treating Hank, Marshall had already served a
term in San Quentin for armed robbery, and was on parole
from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, McAlester on a forgery
charge. Later in life, he went on to serve prison terms in
El Reno, Oklahoma, and La Tuna, Texas.

SONNY
(to Marshall)
You're too late.
(looks at Hank)
We've got to be on stage in a half-
hour.

Marshall sets his bag on the bar and looks into Hank's eyes.

MARSHALL
He'll make it.

CUT TO:

EXT. MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

Again Saturday night. Again the Hayride.

CUT TO:

INT. LOUISIANA HAYRIDE - NIGHT

Hank exchanges a few words with Horace Logan as Logan walks
on stage.

HORACE LOGAN
(at mike)
And here he is again, that boy you've
been waitin' for, Hank Williams!

The audience applauds, Logan throws out his arm, but Hank
just stands still. Logan tries again:

HORACE LOGAN
That Grand Ole Opry Star with that
big hit "Jambalaya" on the charts
right now, Hank Williams!

Still, not a move from Hank.

HORACE LOGAN
(thinks)
Yes, that Montgomery boy that
everybody's proud of, Hank Williams,
also know to his friends as Herman
P. Willis!

Hank nods and saunters out. As he passes Logan, he says:

HANK
At least you got it right this time.

He steps over to the mike:

HANK
I wanna do a little tune here I wrote
t'other night, a song about a man
with a woman with a "Cheatin' Heart":
(sings)
"Your cheatin' heart will make you
weep, You'll cry and cry and try to
sleep, But sleep won't come the whole
night through, Your cheatin' heart
will tell on you."

CUT TO:

EXT. MILAN CAFE - NIGHT

The Milan Cafe, across the street from the Auditorium's rear
exit, doubled as a hang-out for Hayride performers between
performances.

CUT TO:

INT. MILAN CAFE - NIGHT

PAUL HOWARD, a western dance band leader, sits across a small
table from Hank sipping coffee. He notices something on the
right side of Hank's head.

PAUL HOWARD
What's this, Hank?

HANK
(shrugs)
Awh, just some scratches.

PAUL HOWARD
How'd you get that?

HANK
It's that goddamn Audrey. Audrey and
Lilly. They were here a couple nights
ago.

PAUL HOWARD
Audrey was here with your Momma? I
thought they hated each other.

HANK
It's this marriage thing. It's brought
them together.

PAUL HOWARD
What do you mean?

HANK
They don't want me to marry Billie
Jean. Audrey clawed the Hell outta
me. They'll go to any lengths to
stop this thing. She's gonna be in
New Orleans tomorrow. She'll stop
the wedding.

PAUL HOWARD
How can they stop a wedding?

HANK
You don't know Aud'ry and Momma.

PAUL HOWARD
You want to marry Billie, don't you?

HANK
(nods)
I love Billie. She's the only one
who showed me any consideration.
She's the only one who took care of
me.

PAUL HOWARD
Then you can go off and get married
right now. Just go out and get a
J.P. Then if Audrey comes down to
New Orleans tomorrow and tries to
stop the wedding, you'll already be
legally married.

HANK
That's a good idea. You're my best
man, Howard. We'll go after the
Hayride.

CUT TO:

EXT. NEW ORLEANS - DAY

A poster nailed to a telephone pole reads:

HANK
Jambalaya Wedding - October 19
Rehearsal 3:00 P.M. Wedding 7:00
P.M. Each Show $1.50 New Orleans
Municipal Auditorium

CUT TO:

EXT. NEW ORLEANS MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

Young boys huckster "Jambalaya Wedding" programs as the crowds
file into the Auditorium.

YOUNG BOY
Get your programs while they last.
Only one dollar. It's the souvenir
of a lifetime. Hank Williams' wedding!

CUT TO:

INT. NEW ORLEANS MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

The dressing room is crowded with friends and hangers-on.
Hank and Sonny sit on a small sofa. The lamp table is littered
with empty champagne bottles and glasses.

An announcer's voice echoes from the stage:

DISC JOCKEY (O.S.)
Here's that "Wild Man from Texas,"
Billy Walker!

Hank's face is strangely puffy. His cheeks seem bloated and --
extraordinary for him -- his stomach is slightly potbellied.
Instead of giving Hank an air of health, this extra weight
makes him look sicker.

All the members of the wedding party wear tuxedos except
Hank. He wears his black-and-green fringed western suit.

SONNY
You'd better change into your tux,
Hank.

HANK
Nah, Herman. I don't...

SONNY
Cut that out. Don't call me Herman.
I'm Sonny. Your brother-in-law.

HANK
(kidding)
I know you're Sonny. Where's Dr.
Marshall?

SONNY
He ain't here.

HANK
I pay him $300 a week, and he ain't
around when I need him. Did that
Audrey come in?

SONNY
She ain't comin'.

HANK
Why not?

SONNY
You said you'd kill her if she came.
Besides, you're already legally
married.

HANK
You wanna hear a song? It's gonna be
a hit.

OSCAR DAVIS, a promoter, interrupts:

OSCAR
They're getting ready for the weddin',
Hank.

Hank, buoyed, stands and smiles:

HANK
Well, boy, let's get married.
(to Davis)
How much am I making on this weddin'?

OSCAR DAVIS
About $13,000.

HANK
That sounds purty good. I may just
get married again next month.

CUT TO:

INT. NEW ORLEANS MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM STAGE - NIGHT

Sonny, singer BILLY WALKER, 20, REV. SHELDON and others stand
around the WBOK microphone. Potted palms decorate the stage.

The band strikes up the "Wedding March" as Billie and her
FATHER walk down the aisle.

Hank sees Billie coming down the aisle and steps off the
stage. Her father looks worried.

Hank steps up to them, lifts Billie's veil and kisses her.
The faithful ooh and awh.

Then Hank turns, smiles and waves to the crowd.

CUT TO:

EXT. BROWNSVILLE - DAY

Hank's entourage pulls up in front of the main hotel in
Brownsville, Texas.

Billy Walker, Sonny and several other musicians drag-ass out
of an Oldsmobile and trudge into the hotel.

Toby Marshall tucks his black bag under his arm and helps
Hank out of the Cadillac. Hank's white suit is filthy and
wrinkled. Toby takes his upper arm and walks him to the hotel
door.

Hank is becoming increasingly schizophrenic. Sometimes, he
is his old arrogant self; at other times, like now, he is
dependent and pre-senile. He likes Marshall to lead him from
place-to-place. He wants someone else to take responsibility
for his life: he's given up.

"He didn't care how he lived at that point," Oscar Davis
told a journalist. "He couldn't cut out the drugs and booze.
I'd tell him, 'You ought to think of the boy,' and he'd cry
and ask for another drink."

CUT TO:

INT. BROWNSVILLE HOTEL LOBBY - DAY

Sonny, Walker and the others wait at the front desk to check
in.

Marshall escorts Hank through the lobby and into the elevator.
Hank doesn't bother to look up.

CUT TO:

INT. BROWNSVILLE HOTEL CORRIDOR - NIGHT

Hank, now full of pep and braggadocio, entertains a couple
sidemen in the corridor outside his room.

HANK
If you boys plan to drink any beer
tonight, you'd better get it in
bottles. I've played this club before.
I know these ol' boys. They like to
fight.

Hank gestures as he walks off.

HANK
There was a boy name a' Arby Williams --
no kin to me -- from South Alabama
who always carried a knife and loved
to cut folks up...

Toby Marshall steps into the doorway as Hank walks off. Billy
Walker steps over to him.

Walker was then just a green and unknown singer (his first
hit, "Charlie's Shoes" came ten years later), but he was
smart enough to be suspicious. "I didn't know anything about
drugs back then, but I knew this doctor wasn't helping Hank
none. Looking back, I realize Hank was a junkie."

BILLY WALKER
(tentative)
Dr. Marshall?

TOBY MARSHALL
Yeah, Billy?

BILLY WALKER
(curious)
What do you give Hank that peps him
up so?

TOBY MARSHALL
Why? You feelin' tired?

BILLY WALKER
No. I was just curious.

TOBY MARSHALL
I give him vitamins. Vitamins and
injections.

BILLY WALKER
What kind of injections? 'Cause they
really get him goin'. I swear most
nights he won't make it, then all a'
sudden he'll be all afired.

TOBY MARSHALL
I give him straight adrenaline.

BILLY WALKER
Is that those red pills?

TOBY MARSHALL
No, that's Chloral Hydrate. It's for
alcoholism.

BILLY WALKER
Billie's upset. She took four of
them things like Hank did and puked
out her guts.

TOBY MARSHALL
(shakes his head)
She doesn't understand anything about
medicine or alcoholics. She's just a
child.
(tries to explain)
Alcoholics need special treatment.
Most people won't take the time to
care about an alcoholic. Most people
won't put up with 'em. That's why
I've devoted my life to the treatment
of alcoholics. They're not like other
people. They need someone to take
care of them.

CUT TO:

EXT. MODICA STREET - DAY

Hank and Billie have moved into 915 Modica, a small one-story
white house across from Billie's parents.

The front window is open. Two large boots stick out the
window.

CUT TO:

INT. 915 MODICA - DAY

Hank sits in a hard-backed chair, his feet on the window-
sill. He wears a sleeveless T-shirt, pajama bottoms and his
embroidered eagle boots.

Hank's atypical puffiness has vanished. In fact, he's
dramatically lost weight. He's wasting away.

But, for the moment, Hank feels no pain. He sits in a stupor,
an idiot's grin spread from ear-to-ear.

In the background, a radio plays Hank's current hit, "I'll
Never Get Out of This World Alive."

A car pulls in front of the house and Sonny and his brother
AL get out. Hank checks the pistol in his waistband as he
watches them walk toward the house.

HANK
(calling)
Billie Jean.

Billie Jean walks into the room as Sonny and Al near the
door. Hank looks over and smiles:

HANK
Billie, would you get Old Hank his
hat? It looks like he's a-goin' to
the horse-pital again.

Hank looks with resignation out the window.

Sonny and Al walk in as Billie places Hank's hat on his head.
Sonny reaches over, removes Hank's gun and gives it to Al
who sets it aside.

Sonny, bending over to pick up Hank, feels something unusual.
He walks toward the bathroom.

SONNY
Billie, you got some towels?

BILLIE JEAN
(following him)
Why?

SONNY
He's pissed on hisself again.

BILLIE JEAN
He ain't crapped, has he?

SONNY
No.

Billie hands Sonny a stack of towels.

BILLIE JEAN
Sonny, you got some money?

SONNY
A little.

BILLIE JEAN
For the hospital.

SONNY
Don't you have any?

BILLIE JEAN
Not a cent. Hank's broke. They don't
give him any money.

SONNY
Not even the wedding money?

BILLIE JEAN
He ain't seen any of it yet. They
jus' give him enough to keep him in
booze.

SONNY
(walking back)
Jesus.

Sonny dries Hank. He and Al bend down and pick Hank up in
their arms.

They carry him out the front door. Gone also is the Hank
Williams who had to be dragged kicking and screaming into
Madison Hospital. He now goes to Hyland Hospital as
compliantly as any lobotomized out-patient.

CUT TO:

EXT. 915 MODICA - DAY

Sonny and Al carry Hank to the car as Billie watches from
the door. Hank sings as he goes:

HANK
"Goodbye Joe, me gotta go, me oh my
oh, Me gotta go pole the piroque
down the bayou..."

CUT TO:

EXT. MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

Hayride night.

CUT TO:

INT. LOUISIANA HAYRIDE - NIGHT

Hank, seriously drunk, stumbles around the stage. His white
hat falls off his head. Stooping down to pick it up, he almost
trips.

The band just plays segue riffs, waiting for Hank to start a
song -- any song.

The audience snickers and laughs. There are several hoots
from the rear -- then a few boos.

Hank doesn't realize that they are not laughing with him,
but at him:

HANK
You like that, huh? Pretty good,
huh? Well, Old Hank's gonna sing you
another one jus' like it.

The crowd breaks up in derision and ridicule. Horace Logan
standing at the side of the stage, has had about as much of
this as he can take.

Horace rushes on stage and puts his arm around Hank to support
him. Holding Hank in this manner, Logan says into the mike:

HORACE LOGAN
(angry)
You folks been entertained by this
man for hours and weeks and years.
You have seen and felt this man's
genius and ability. When he's
straight, you all know how great he
is. But when he's having problems, I
will not stand for you laughing at
this man.

Horace leads Hank off stage to where Toby Marshall and Lillian
are waiting.

CUT TO:

INT. MILAN CAFE - NIGHT

Lilly sits with Horace Logan.

LILLIAN
They've taken him to dry out again.
My boy's real sick.

HORACE LOGAN
He's losing weight. For a while he
seemed to be getting better.

LILLIAN
That little whore claims she was
feeding him up.

HORACE LOGAN
It was just bloat.

LILLIAN
He don't keep food down. He needs
full-time medical care. I'm a lay
nurse.

HORACE LOGAN
Just water retention.

LILLIAN
I'm paying Dr. Marshall now. Hank
can't take care of his expenses
anymore.

HORACE LOGAN
We'll put him on temporary release
from the Hayride right now. As soon
as he finishes the South Louisiana
tour, he's got to straighten up.

LILLIAN
I'll take care of him.

CUT TO:

EXT. BAYOU ROAD - DAY

Hank, Billy Walker and another musician are squeezed into
the back of Hank's blue Cadillac. Hank, wearing blue pants,
an old shirt and baseball cap, looks like a mess. "Nobody
took care of him at that time," Walker remembers. "His clothes
were always a mess and he stank."

Hank pulls a pill bottle out of his pocket, shakes a "yellow
jacket" out and pops it into his mouth. Walker watches
disapprovingly.

HANK
It's my chest, Herman. I can't hardly
breathe. It's all squeezed.

BILLY WALKER
You know that Doctor ain't no good
for you.

HANK
(confidential)
I'm goin' back on the Opry, son. I
talked to Jim Denny on the phone
last night. It's all a secret. It's
going to be a surprise comeback.
I've got to play out this tour -- to
show 'em I'm in shape -- then get
some rest. I'm goin' to the Bahamas.
You ever been there, Herman? The sun
shines there all year. You jus' lay
around. When I get there, I'll be
alright. I got a whole head full of
songs. Gotta get 'em down. I'm gonna
write one jus' for you, boy. Gonna
get rid of all these squirrels hangin'
around me: that quack, Billie Jean...

BILLY WALKER
But Billie loves you, Hank.

HANK
She's jus' like Audrey and Lilly.
All they want is my money. They'll
do anything to keep me working. It's
like I'm some goddamn nigger slave.

BILLY WALKER
That's great news about the Opry.

HANK
Yeah, me an' Miss Audrey gonna get
back together. I called her yesterday.
I'm gonna be a father to my son again.
Stop playing these honky-tonks. I
hate these clubs. I'll never play
them again.

BILLY WALKER
You seen 'em all.

HANK
(nods)
When I was jus' a boy, twelve years
old, Momma would book me in the tonks
'round Greenville so I'd send the
soldier boys over to her boarding
house afterwards.

This conversation, recounted by Walker, was very unusual for
Hank. Not only was he open and frank, he was also critical
of his mother in the presence of an "outsider." Although
most of Hank's friends have heard about Lilly's "boarding
houses," Walker is the only one who heard Hank admit that
his mother was a lay Madam as well as a lay nurse.

BILLY WALKER
You'll be alright.

HANK
Yeah. I'm gonna go to them Bahamas.

CUT TO:

INT. LAKE CHARLES CLUB - NIGHT

Hank, drugged and drunk, stands before the large Cajun dance
crowd.

HANK
We're gonna slow it down a little
bit now, hope you don't mind. Jus'
get close and close your eyes. A sad
little thing... I wrote, oh, some
time ago called "Take These Chains
From My Heart and Set Me Free."

Hank, sinking fast, starts through a halting, pathetic
rendition of "Take These Chains From My Heart."

"Take these chains from my heart and set me free, You've
grown cold and no longer care for me, All my faith in you is
gone but the heartaches linger on, Take these chains from my
heart and set me free."

Once or twice, Hank sinks his head back, gets woozy and
struggles to stay on his feet. After the final chorus, Hank
turns and walks off stage.

The band is startled. The Cajuns yell for him to come back.

The CLUB OWNER leads Hank back by the arm. "Lovesick Blues,
Lovesick Blues," the cry goes up.

The Club Owner has made a mistake. Hank is in no condition
to continue. He looks at the hostile crowd and says to the
Owner:

HANK
Screw 'em.

And walks off.

CUT TO:

EXT. LAKE CHARLES CLUB - NIGHT

A dozen or so drunk local "coon-asses" attack Hank's blue
Cadillac. They rock the car, thump the hood and yell Cajun
curses.

Inside, Hank cringes on the floor in the back seat. Billie
huddles against the seat, screaming:

BILLIE JEAN
Get going, Sonny. These coon-asses
gonna kill us!

HANK
I ain't gonna sing "Lovesick Blues,"
Billie. I ain't gonna sing "Lovesick
Blues."

Sonny, behind the wheel, gets the car in gear and drives
away from the crowd.

CUT TO:

EXT. DOWNTOWN MONTGOMERY - DAY

The Jefferson Davis Hotel looking down Katoma.

CUT TO:

EXT. LILLY'S MCDOUGH BOARDING HOUSE - EVENING

Lilly now lives in the boarding house Hank bought her at 318
N. McDough. A Christmas wreath hangs on the door.

Hank's blue Cadillac stands at the curb.

CUT TO:

INT. MCDOUGH KITCHEN - EVENING

It's a familiar scene around the table in Lilly's kitchen:
some old faces, some new -- the same unpleasant ambience.
Mr. Stone sits Sphinx-like alongside Lilly's new boarders.
Billie passes a bowl of potatoes to Hank's Waterhead Cousin.
Lilly stands watch by the stove.

Christmas carols play on Lilly's old radio.

Hank, wearing his grey Stetson, pokes lethargically at a
tough piece of meat.

LILLIAN
Eat up, Hiram.

Billie spoons a dab of her mashed potatoes onto his plate.

BILLIE JEAN
Here, Hank.

Lilly flashes her cold eyes at Billie -- Billie flashes back.

Hank reluctantly places a forkful of potatoes in his mouth.
The reaction is just as he feared: his face pales as the
food passes down his esophagus.

He grabs his stomach, hurries into the water closet and closes
the door behind him.

The boarders try to eat despite the sounds of retching which
come from the bathroom. Billie wants to run to Hank's side,
but is afraid to confront Lillian.

CUT TO:

INT. MCDOUGH HALLWAY/BEDROOM - NIGHT

Hank, still wearing his hat, sits on the edge of the bed as
his mother rolls up his sleeve. She prepares a syringe, rubs
alcohol on Hank's emaciated arm and gives him an injection.

Billie, standing in the corridor, watches through the ajar
door.

She waits for Lilly to step outside, then closes the door
behind her.

Down the hallway, behind Billie Jean, a decorated Christmas
tree is lit up in the living room.

BILLIE JEAN
What are you giving him?

LILLIAN
(hostile)
Large vitamin doses. They're
prescribed by Dr. Marshall.

INSIDE THE BEDROOM, Hank's face relaxes as pain-killing relief
fills his tortured body. He curls up on the bed, pulls his
hat tight over his eyes and tries to block out the
conversation outside the door:

BILLIE JEAN (O.S.)
Did he promise to buy the boarding
house across the street?

LILLY (O.S.)
That's none of your business. He's
my son.

BILLIE JEAN (O.S.)
When?

CUT TO:

EXT. ST. JUDE'S CHURCH - DAY

St. Jude's is a large Catholic Church on Fairview Ave.

CUT TO:

INT. ST. JUDE'S CHURCH - DAY

Hank and Billie sit together in the back of the nearly empty
church. A parishoner kneels in front, crosses himself, and
walks out.

During the last week of his life, Billie Jean says, she and
Hank sat in St. Jude's most everyday. Although nominally a
Baptist, he spent his final days in a Catholic church. Perhaps
it was because St. Jude's was open every day, perhaps it was
because they didn't make Hank take off his hat.

In either case, it was revealed after Hank's death that he
had given five thousand dollars to St. Jude's the last year
of his life.

Hank shakes hands with the priest as they leave.

CUT TO:

EXT. MCWILLIAMS, ALABAMA - DAY

Billie watches as Hank, Christmas present in hand, knocks on
the door of a small backwoods house.

After several unanswered knocks, Hank gives up.

BILLIE JEAN
He's not home?

HANK
He's probably on a drunk somewhere.

BILLIE JEAN
I wanted to meet your father.

HANK
Yeah, I shoulda known he wouldn't be
home.
(a beat)
We'll leave the present at my cousin's
house.

They walk back to Hank's waiting Cadillac.

HANK
Old Hank's goin' back to the Opry.
We're gonna build a big house in
Nashville -- jus' for you and me.

BILLIE JEAN
(excited)
That would be wonderful.

HANK
First I'm goin' to the Bahamas and
rest up. I got some new songs.

CUT TO:

INT. SKIPPERS' HOME - DAY

Hank stands by the Christmas tree in the Georgiana home of
Taft Skipper, his first cousin.

Neighbors and relatives have gathered 'round to see Hank and
hear him sing. Hank's present for his father sits on the
table.

Hank, unaccompanied and completely sober, plays an old hymn,
"How Can You Refuse Him Now?" His voice is straight, simple
and sincere -- for a moment the old energy returns.

He is one with the words of the song. His voice aches as he
sings:

HANK
"As they nailed His hands, He cried
they don't understand, As the blood
flowed from His side.
How can you refuse Him now?
How can you refuse Him now?
How can you turn away from His side?
With tears in His eyes on the cross
there He died, How can you refuse
Him now?"

CUT TO:

INT. HANK'S MCDOUGH BEDROOM - NIGHT

The words of "How Can You Refuse Him Now?" bleed into the
bedroom where Billie lies awake. The bedstand clock reads
2:00 a.m.

Hank, wearing his pajamas, bounces on the balls of his feet,
shadow boxing.

BILLIE JEAN
Come to bed, Hank. You've got to
catch a plane in the morning.

HANK
I can't sleep, Billie.

BILLIE JEAN
Try again.

Hank sits on the edge of the bed, starts to lie down, then
sits up again.

HANK
I can't sleep, Billie. I'm afraid.

Hank stands and paces around the small room.

BILLIE JEAN
Afraid? Afraid of what?

HANK
I don't want to sleep. I can't sleep,
Billie.
(walks over to her)
Ev'ry time I lie down and close my
eyes, I see the Lord comin' down the
road. Comin' after me.

Billie reaches out and takes his hand.

BILLIE JEAN
You're just lonely, Hank. Take some
pills. You need to sleep.

Billie gestures to the bottle on the dresser.

HANK
(walking over)
I already took a couple.

Hank shakes four red capsules of Chloral Hydrate out of the
bottle and swallows them.

He crawls in bed and lies alongside Billie Jean, nestling
his head in her breast like a baby.

CUT TO:

INT. HANK'S MCDOUGH BEDROOM - MORNING

Hank, already dressed in his white double-breasted suit,
wakes Billie Jean up.

HANK
Billie?

BILLIE JEAN
Huh?

HANK
The planes are fogged in. I've hired
a driver. Maybe I'll be able to pick
up a plane to Charleston if it clears.
Toby'll meet me there.

BILLIE JEAN
(waking up)
Driver?

HANK
Momma got one for me.

Billie Jean looks at her negligee, then sniffs. She touches
her negligee and sniffs her fingers. She runs her fingers
across her matted hair:

BILLIE JEAN
(panic)
I got piss all over me! Hank, why'd
you do this?

Hank, embarrassed, cringes.

BILLIE JEAN
You pissed all in my hair.

HANK
(defenseless)
I can't help it, Billie.

Billie Jean gets out of bed, opens the dresser drawer and
throws some of her clothes on the floor dramatically.

BILLIE JEAN
Hank Williams, you have pissed on me
for the last time. Go off to
Charleston and Canton, but don't
expect me to be waiting when you
come back. I'm goin' back to my Momma
and I don't know if I'm gonna come
back.

HANK
Oh, Billie, don't treat me like this.

BILLIE JEAN
Go on. Don't miss your ride.

Hank turns sadly and walks out the door.

CUT TO:

EXT. MCDOUGH BOARDING HOUSE - MORNING

CHARLES CARR, an 18 year-old Montgomery taxi driver, stands
alongside Hank's blue Cadillac convertible.

Hank kisses his mother goodbye, then, thinking, goes back
into the house.

CUT TO:

INT. HANK'S MCDOUGH BEDROOM - MORNING

Billie Jean stands looking in the mirror, her back to Hank,
as he walks in.

Hank sits on the edge of the bed and looks at her. Billie,
without turning around, says:

BILLIE JEAN
What do you want, Hank?

HANK
Old Hank jus' wanted to look at you
one more time.

Billie Jean refuses to turn around.

After a moment, Hank gets up, steps behind her and kisses
her on the side of the cheek. She doesn't look at him.

Hank turns and walks out the door.

CUT TO:

EXT. MCDOUGH BOARDING HOUSE - MORNING

Hank gets in the back seat of the Cadillac as Charles Carr
starts the engine. Lilly kisses her son goodbye.

The blue Cadillac drives away.

CUT TO:

EXT. KNOXVILLE - NIGHT

Hank's car is parked outside the foggy Knoxville airport.

Carr shrugs and gets back into the driver's seat.

CHARLES CARR
We ain't gonna get a plane tonight,
Mr. Williams.

Hank jots lyrics down on a scrap of paper.

HANK
Alright, let's drive on to Canton.
We'll never make Charleston anyway.

Carr puts the Cadillac in gear and drives off.

HANK
There's a doctor on t'other side of
Knoxville. I want you to stop there
and wait. I need a shot. My back's
killin' me. My bones are risin' again.

CUT TO:

EXT. KNOXVILLE DOCTOR'S OFFICE - NIGHT

Hank, rubbing his hand, walks out of the doctor's office (to
this day, Carr claims to have forgotten the doctor's name or
address) and gets back into the car. His legs are wobbly.

The Cadillac pulls away. Light snow is falling.

Hank slumps into the back seat. He takes out his bottle of
Chloral Hydrate and swallows several pills.

His hand is bandaged where he has received the injection.

Guy Lombardo's band plays "Auld Lang Syne" on the car radio
as the New Year's ball falls in Times Square.

Hank pulls his hat over his eyes and tries to sleep.

CUT TO:

U.S. 11 - NEW YEAR'S EVE, 1952 - NIGHT

Light snow falls in the Smokeys as the Cadillac speeds north
on old U.S. 11.

Near Rudledge, a Tennessee Highway Patrol car pulls Carr to
the side of the road.

About 2:00 a.m. State Highway Patrol Cpl. SWANN KITTS gets
out of his flashing squad car and walks over to the Cadillac.

He pulls out his ticket book and writes a speeding fine.

CPL. SWANN KITTS
That'll be twenty-five dollars.

Cpl. Kitts hands Carr the ticket and Carr gives him twenty-
five dollars.

Kitts, curious, looks at Hank sleeping in the back seat.
Hank's hat is pulled over his pale face.

CPL. SWANN KITTS
(to Carr)
That guy looks dead.

CHARLES CARR
He's just sleeping.
(a beat)
He ain't dead. He's Hank Williams.

Cpl. Kitts, satisfied, walks away.

Charles Carr puts the Cadillac in gear and drives into the
snowy night.

The camera closes in on Hank's half-obscured face. The red
veins bulge from his white cheeks: he is dead.

His frozen face does not have the distant peace of an icon.
Instead it is locked in grotesque passion, like the face of
one suspended on a gothic crucifix.

FADE OUT:

BEGIN FINAL CREDITS

FADE IN:

Hank, age 26, at the height of his success, stands on the
Grand Ole Opry stage at the Ryman Auditorium.

Behind him, the Drifting Cowboys -- Don, Jerry, Sammy,
Hillous, Bob -- lead into "I Saw the Light."

Hank, full of energy and passion, jumps into his best-known
hymn:

HANK
"I wandered so aimless, life filled
with sin, I wouldn't let my dear
Saviour in.
Then Jesus came like a stranger in
the night, Praise the Lord, I saw
the light."

FINAL CREDITS - CONT.

As Hank and the Cowboys sing, they are joined by the actors
who portray those who have played an important role in the
film: Minnie Pearl, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Faron Young,
Billy Walker, Ray Price, Billie Jean, Wesley Rose, Lum York,
Grant Turner, A.V. Bamford, Oscar Davis, Little Jimmie
Dickens, Hugh Cherry, Nudie, Vic McAlpin, Hank Jr., Lycrecia
and Miss Raglin.

"Just like a blind man I wandered alone, Worries and fears I
claimed for my own, Then like the blind man that God gave
back his sight, Praise the Lord, I saw the light."

Then, behind each actor, steps his or her real life
counterpart. Minnie Pearl steps behind the actress who
portrays her. Don Helms behind his actor, Acuff behind his
and so on. They all join in the singing.

Before long, the wide panavision screen is filled with musical
legends: fifty years of country music in a single frame.

This is how his friends chose to remember him: Hank Williams
dressed in white, at the peak of his powers -- the living
legend.

HANK'S APOTHEOSIS:

"I saw the light, I saw the light, No more darkness, no more
night, Now I'm so happy no sorrow in sight, Praise the Lord,
I saw the light.

END FINAL CREDITS

FADE OUT:

THE END