"THE LOST WEEKEND"
Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder
Based on a novel by
Charles R. Jackson
A-1 THE MAN-MADE MOUNTAIN PEAKS OF MANHATTAN
on a sunny day in October, 1938. THE CAMERA PANS ACROSS the
distant ridge of midtown buildings, then slowly FINDS A
FOREGROUND: THE REAR OF A SMALL APARTMENT HOUSE on East 55th
It is a 4-story affair of brick, housing some eight
apartments, half of them giving on the garden or rather on
the routine back yard with a sumac tree, a stone bench, and
some mouldy flower boxes in which geraniums are dying.
THE MOVING CAMERA CONCENTRATES on the 4th-floor apartment,
which boasts three windows. Two of them give on the living
room, one on the bedroom of the brothers Birnam. THE CAMERA
NARROWS its interest to THE BEDROOM WINDOW.
It is open, like a million other windows in New York that
warm day. What gives it individuality is that from an awning
cleat there dangles down the outside wall something which
very few people hang from their windows: a bottle of whiskey.
Through the window we can see the brothers Birnam packing.
A-2 INT. BEDROOM
It is a smallish room with twin beds in opposite corners,
both of them unmade. There are books on the night tables,
two chests of drawers with some of the drawers open, and the
closet is open too. One door leads to the living room, another
to the cramped entrance hall.
(Maybe this is the time to describe the apartment. You've
seen that living room a hundred times if you know literate,
artistically inclined people. On one wall are bookshelves
surrounding a marble fireplace, on which stands a tiny plaster
bust of Shakespeare. In the shelves, art books and serious
works of fiction: Thomas Mann, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James
Joyce and the like. There are Picasso, Van Gogh and Utrillo
reproductions on the other walls. A comfortable, elderly
armchair stands near one of the windows. There is a studio
couch, a low, tiled table -- oh, you know.
Off the living room is the familiar kitchenette for the light
housekeeping of two bachelors -- i.e. coffee and coffee.
The bathroom, inconveniently enough, is off the entrance
hall. A floor plan, authenticated by the author of the book,
will be furnished on request).
To get back to the bedroom and the Birnam brothers: a small
suitcase lies open on each bed. DON, the brother nearest the
window, is bent over one, putting in socks, shirts, etc. He
is thirty-three, an extremely attractive guy, but ten pounds
underweight, and in his eye there is something rebellious,
WICK, two years younger, is much sturdier, kindly,
sympathetic, solid gold. He wears glasses and is smoking a
cigarette. He is on his way from the closet to his suitcase
with some stuff. He throws a sweater across to Don.
Better take this along, Don. It's
going to be cold on the farm.
How many shirts are you taking?
I'm taking five.
I told them at the office I might
not be back till Tuesday. We'll get
there this afternoon. That'll give
us all Friday, Saturday, Sunday,
Monday. We'll make it a long weekend.
Sounds long, all right.
It'll do you good, Don, after what
you've been through.
Don has crossed to the chest of drawers and fished out more
shirts and socks.
Trees and grass and sweet cider and
buttermilk and water from that well
that's colder than any other water.
Wick, please, why this emphasis on
liquids? Noble, upstanding, nauseating
DON, his back toward Wick, is bent over the suitcase, packing.
His eyes travel to the window.
Think it would be a good idea if we
took my typewriter?
To write. To write there. I'm going
to get started on my novel.
You really feel up to writing?
I mean, after what you've been
I haven't touched the stuff for ten
I know you haven't. Where's the
In the living room closet, kind of
towards the back.
Bent forward tensely, he watches Wick go into the living
room. Left alone, he acts with lightning rapidity. He takes
the sweater, goes over to the window, pulls up the whiskey
bottle, wraps the sweater around it so that only the top
with the string around it shows. He tries to loosen the noose
but he's nervous and loses a precious second.
From the living room has been coming the sound of Wick opening
the closet door and ransacking. Now comes:
You sure it's in the closet? I can't
Look by the big chair.
Isn't it under your bed?
Don sees he can't loosen the string in time. In the last
fraction of a second before Wick enters, he manages to lower
the bottle back down the wall. With what nonchalance he can
muster he bends down and looks under the bed just as Wick
enters, a sheaf of white paper in his hand.
Of course. Here it is.
He pulls out a Remington portable, 1930 model.
Here's some paper.
He puts it in Don's suitcase.
We'll fix a table on the south porch.
Nobody to disturb you -- I'll see to
it. Except maybe Saturday night we'll
go over to the Country Club.
I'm not going near that Country Club.
Because they're a bunch of hypocrites
and I don't like to be whispered
about: Look who's here from New York.
The Birnam brothers -- or rather the
nurse and the invalid.
Stop that, Don. Nobody there knows
No? We get off the train and the
alarm is sounded: The leper is back.
Better hide your liquor.
Footsteps have been racing up the stairs outside the flat,
and now there is a distinctive ring of the doorbell: short,
short, long, short.
I'll take it.
He goes toward the door while the bell resumes short, short,
From the bedroom we see him open the door. It's HELEN, all
right. She is a clean-cut, good looking girl of twenty-six.
Her face is brave, gay piquant. She's wearing a three-quarter-
length leopard coat. The Indian Summer day is a good ten
degrees too warm for the coat, but that doesn't stop Helen
from wearing her beloved. In her hand are two books wrapped,
and another small package. She enters breathlessly.
Hello, Wick. Where's Don?
Seeing him, she crosses to the bedroom.
Glad I made it. I was afraid you
might be gone. Presents.
She puts the packages in the suitcase.
The new Thurber book, with comical
jokes and pictures, and a quiet little
double murder by Agatha Christie.
(Putting in the second
Cigarettes and chewing gum.
Now have a good time, darling. And
remember -- lots of sleep, lots of
And sweet cider and some of that
nice cold water from the well.
It's a running gag between these two. Don bends so that she
can kiss him on the cheek.
I'd better be going. I've missed ten
minutes of the concert already.
Carnegie Hall. Barbirolli conducting.
They gave me two tickets at the
Who are you going with?
Something flickers in Don's eye.
What are they playing?
Brahms' Second Symphony, something
by Beethoven, something by Handel,
and not one note of Grieg.
Goodbye, boys. See you Monday.
(Holding Helen by the
Just a minute. Wick --
Wick looks up.
I just had a crazy idea.
As for instance.
Who says we have to take the two-
forty-five train? We could go on the
What are you talking about?
I just thought we could take a later
train and Helen wouldn't have to go
alone to the concert. She's got two
tickets, hasn't she?
No. I'm not upsetting any plans.
You're going on that two-forty-five.
But Helen, it's so silly! A whale of
a concert and an empty seat next
No, Don. Everything's all set. They'll
be at the station to meet us.
Dinner'll be waiting.
So what? We put in a call that we're
taking the late train, have supper
at nine o'clock, be in bed by ten.
Nothing doing. We're going.
Wick's right. And don't worry about
that empty seat. I'll find myself a
very handsome South American
There. Did you hear her? And now
we'd have to break our necks to catch
the train anyway.
(Looking at her wrist
All right. Go ahead.
Wait a minute. I'm not going.
Then what are we talking about?
I want you to go. You and Helen.
Me and Helen?
Yes. That was the idea. Who likes
Brahms, you or I?
Since when don't you like Brahms?
I'll stay right here and finish
packing. Take a little nap maybe.
Nonsense. If anybody goes... Helen's
There is an exchange of suspicious looks between Wick and
There's something in that, Don.
What's more, I don't think you should
be left alone.
Why? I can't be trusted. Is that it?
What I meant to say --
After what Don's been through --
After what I've been through, I
couldn't go to a concert. I couldn't
face the crowd. I couldn't sit through
it with all those people around. I
want to be alone for a couple of
hours and kind of assemble myself.
Is that such an extraordinary thing
Don't act so outraged, would you
All right. Anything else?
Wick, who has been smoking a cigarette throughout the scene,
throws it out the window. None of the three see, but we do,
that it doesn't fall out the window but ricochets against
the opened casement to the window sill, where it lies
Come on, Helen.
You'll stay right here, won't you?
Where would I go?
Then you'll be here when we come
I told you I'm not leaving this
You've told us a good many things,
Furious, Don takes a bunch of keys from his pocket.
All right, if you don't believe me,
why don't you take my key and lock
me in like a dog.
We've got to trust Don. That's the
Here we go.
So long, Don.
(Pulling him by the
His face is now close to hers. She kisses him. Wick turns
away. His eyes fall on the cigarette still smouldering on
the sill. He goes toward the window.
Don, held by Helen, watches him tensely. Wick flips the
cigarette into the garden and is about to turn back into the
room when his eyes fall on the cleat and the string. He leans
from the window.
Don lets Helen go, staring at Wick, panic in his eyes. Helen,
sensing something amiss, looks from one brother to the other.
(Hauling up the bottle)
What's this, Don?
Helen and Wick watch Don. Don's face relaxes into an innocent
That? That's whiskey, isn't it?
How did it get there?
I don't know.
I suppose it dropped from some cloud.
Or someone was bouncing it against
this wall and it got stuck.
I must have put it there.
Yes, you must.
Only I don't remember when. Probably
during my last spell, or maybe the
His eyes meet Helen's. Hers are infinitely distressed.
Don't look at me like that, Helen.
Doesn't mean a thing. I didn't know
it was there. And if I had, I wouldn't
have touched it.
Wick has twisted the string off the bottle.
Then you won't mind.
Won't mind what?
Wick, the bottle in his hand, goes through the living room
toward the kitchenette. Don looks after him, then follows
him, a stubborn smile on his lips. Helen trails after them,
Wick has stepped to the sink. He opens the bottle, turns it
upside down and lets the whiskey run out. Don and Helen come
to the door from the living room and stand watching. Don has
something of the feeling of a man watching the execution of
a very good friend, but he senses Helen's eyes upon him and
preserves his nonchalant expression. The bottle emptied,
Wick puts it in the sink.
Now you trot along with Helen.
Why? On account of that?
(Pointing at the bottle)
You think I wanted you out of the
apartment because of that? I resent
that like the devil, and if there's
one more word of discussion, I don't
leave on your blasted weekend.
Wick shrugs and goes to the hall for his hat.
Be good, won't you, Don, darling?
She turns to go, but Don holds her back.
Of course, Helen. Just stop watching
me all the time, you two. Let me
work it out my way. I'm trying, I'm
We're both trying, Don. You're trying
not to drink, and I'm trying not to
She kisses him on the mouth, a woman hopelessly in love.
Then, so that he won't see her moist eyes, she turns and
hurries into the entrance hall.
A-4 LITTLE ENTRANCE HALL - BIRNAM APARTMENT
Wick stands, hat in hand, holding the door open. Helen comes
out quickly and taking a handkerchief from her bag, hurries
past Wick into the hall. Wick turns toward Don, who has
followed Helen to the entrance hall.
You call the farm, Don. Tell them
we're taking the six-thirty train.
He goes out, shutting the door behind him. Don steps quickly
to the door, presses his ear against it to hear what the two
are saying outside.
A-5 FOURTH FLOOR HALL AND STAIRCASE - APARTMENT HOUSE
It is narrow and simple. There is no elevator. A skylight,
somewhat obscured by dirt and dust, lights the fourth floor
back. Every so often down the stair there is a light bracket,
Helen stands at the top of the stairs, blowing her nose.
Wick takes her arm quickly.
Come on, Helen.
Oh, Wick, what are we going to do
about him ever.
He'll be all right.
What if he goes out and buys another
With what? He hasn't a nickel. There
isn't a store, there isn't a bar
that'd give him five cents' worth of
They descend a few steps.
Are you sure he hasn't another bottle
Not any more, he hasn't. I went
through the apartment with a fine-
toothed comb. The places he can figure
They go on down the stairs.
A-6 INT. THE APARTMENT
Don stands at the door, panic in his face. Has his brother
discovered the other two bottles? He puts the chain on the
door to insure his privacy, then dashes into the bathroom.
A-7 BATHROOM - BIRNAM APARTMENT
It's old-fashioned, with a bath tub on claw feet, a shower
cutain above it -- all the plumbing on that scale. Don dashes
in, takes a nail file, kneels beside the grille of a register
in the side wall, pries it out with the file, looks inside,
puts his hand in. The bottle is gone. He looks at the hole
wide-eyed, pushes back the grille and runs out.
Don comes running in, goes to the couch, pulls it away from
the wall, throws himself on his belly on the couch and reaches
under the side of it which was towards the wall. His hand
explores among the springs. There is no bottle there. He
sits up. His face is covered with sweat. He takes out his
handkerchief and wipes his face.
Just then, from the direction of the entrance door, there is
the noise of a key being turned in the lock. Don freezes,
his eyes turning towards the door, horrified.
A-9 ENTRANCE DOOR TO THE APARTMENT (FROM DON'S ANGLE)
It opens as far as the chain will allow, stops with a sharp
bite of metal on wood. There is another try. Then the doorbell
He has not stirred. He rises slowly from the couch, takes a
few steps towards the entrance door.
Who is it?
No answer. Just the doorbell being rung again.
WHO IS IT?
A-11 CORRIDOR OUTSIDE BIRNAM APARTMENT
At the door stands MRS. FOLEY, a middle-aged charwoman with
a large utility bag over her arm. Her key is in the door,
which is open as far as the chain will permit.
Mrs. Foley. Come to clean up.
(His nerves on edge)
Not today. Does it have to be today?
A-13 MRS. FOLEY
I ought to change the sheets, and
today's my day to vacuum.
You can't come in. I'm not dressed.
A-15 MRS. FOLEY
Shall I wait, shall I come back, or
You come on Monday.
All right, Mr. Birnam. Is your brother
No, he isn't.
How about my money? Didn't he leave
He stands galvanized. The word "money" has sent an electric
current through his mind.
My five dollars. Didn't he leave it?
(Stalking his prey)
Probably. Where would he leave it?
MRS. FOLEY'S VOICE
In the kitchen.
Where in the kitchen?
MRS. FOLEY'S VOICE
In the sugar bowl.
Don breathes like one who's found the combination to the
safe with the crown jewels.
Just a minute.
He goes to the kitchenette.
On the counter under the cupboards stands the sugar bowl.
Don lifts the lid. There's nothing but sugar in the bowl,
but lining the lid is a folded five-dollar bill. Don takes
it out, goes into the entrance hall and even though Mrs.
Foley can't see him, instinctively holds the five dollars
behind his back.
Sorry, Mrs. Foley. It's not there.
He must have forgotten.
A-18 MRS. FOLEY
Oh, Putt! I wanted to do some
You'll get it Monday all right.
Goodbye, Mr. Birnam.
She closes the door, takes the key and starts down the stairs.
He brings the five dollars from behind his back. He looks at
it, folds it neatly, pockets it, puts on his hat, then, with
an afterthought, goes into the living room. He pushes the
couch back against the wall with his foot, then goes out.
A-20 FOURTH FLOOR HALL AND STAIRS
Don goes to the balustrade, looks down.
A-21 STEEP SHOT OF THE STAIRS
Don's head in the foreground. The coast is clear of Mrs.
Foley. Like a convict escaping, Don slips down the stairs.
SLOW DISSOLVE TO:
A-22 BROPHY'S LIQUOR STORE - (TRANSP.) - CLOSE SHOT OF LIQUOR
A rackful of them, filling the screen. THE CAMERA IS BEHIND
the rack of liquor in a store on Third Avenue. THE CAMERA
MOVES slowly toward them so that only about eight bottles
fill the screen and we can see, between them, the shop, its
window on Third Avenue, its entrance door. No one is visible
in the shop.
Through the glass door we see Don Birnam hurrying up. He
gives a quick glance in each direction, to see that he's not
observed. He peers into the shop to make sure there are no
other customers, then quickly steps inside and stands
A salesman rises in the foreground, his back to the CAMERA.
Don points to two bottles in the foreground.
(With all the
nonchalance he can
Two bottles of rye.
I'm sorry, Mr. Birnam.
What are you sorry about?
Your brother was in here. He said
he's not going to pay for you any
more. That was the last time.
He won't, huh?
He takes the five dollars from his pocket and unfurls it,
like a card trickster.
Two bottles of rye.
You know what brand, Mr. Brophy. The
None of that twelve-year-old, aged-
in-the-wood chichi. Not for me. Liquor
is all one, anyway.
The salesman has taken two bottles from the rack in the
foreground and put them on the counter. Don gives him the
money and picks up the bottles like a miser grabbing gold.
Don't you want a bag?
Yes, I want a bag.
The salesman hands him a bag and steps out of the shot towards
the cash register. We hear the ping of its bell, the opening
of its drawer. Meanwhile, Don thrusts the bottles in the
bag. It is a little short and the necks of the bottles
protrude. The salesman hands him his change. Don pockets it.
You know, your brother asked me not
to sell you anything even if you had
money, but I can't stop nobody, can
I, not unless you're a minor.
I'm not a minor, Mr. Brophy, and
just to quiet your conscience, I'm
buying this as a refill for my
Another customer enters the shop. Don takes the package and
walks past the newcomer towards the door, hiding it from him
gracefully, like a football in a sneak play.
A-23 THIRD AVENUE, OUTSIDE BROPHY'S LIQUOR SHOP
Don comes out with the bottles in the paper bag. He wants to
start down the street but about twenty-five feet away stand
two middle-aged Hokinson ladies, one of them kerbing her dog
on a leash. They are chatting.
Don stops. He'll have to pass them if he goes down the street
and he doesn't want to, not with these bottles peeking out
of that bag. He turns back and approaches the grocery store
next door to Brophy's. In front of it is a fruit stand.
Screening his gesture from the ladies with his back, he picks
up three apples and puts them in the top of the bag, to
camouflage the bottles. He puts down a coin, then walks down
the street toward the ladies, flaunting a paper bag which is
obviously full of apples.
The lady with the dog sees him. Don removes his hat in a
courtly bow, very much at ease with the apples.
Good afternoon, Mrs. Deveridge.
Hello, Mr. Birnam.
Don passes the ladies.
That's that nice young man that
The other lady tsk-tsks. They both look after Don.
Don is about ten feet beyond them. Perhaps he has overheard
the remark. In any case, he is looking back. His look meets
theirs. Embarrassed, they turn. Mrs. Deveridge jerks on the
Come on, Sophie. Let's go.
They walk down the street in the opposite direction from
He looks after them. He is just in front of NAT'S BAR. He
steps hurriedly into the bar.
A-25 INT. NAT'S BAR
A typical dingy Third Avenue bar. The sun slants dustily
into the walnut-brown room. There is a long bar with a mirror
behind it, some marble-topped tables and bentwood chairs.
The woodwork, the furniture, the plaster of the place have
absorbed and give forth a sour breath of hard liquor, a stale
smell of flat beer.
As Don enters with the two bottles and the apples, there are
three people in the bar. Nat, the bartender, a broad-
shouldered, no-nonsense type of guy, squeezing lemons in
preparation for the evening trade; and, sitting at a table
in the corner, a girl named GLORIA, with an out-of-towner
who hasn't bothered to take off his hat. He's about fifty
and the manager of a hardware store in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Gloria is a shopworn twenty-three. She's brunette, wears net
stockings and a small patent leather hat, and is a little
below the standards of the St. Moritz lobby trade.
Don crosses to the bar.
And how is my very good friend Nat
Yes, Mr. Birnam.
Don sits on a bar stool, putting down the paper bag.
This being an especially fine
afternoon, I have decided to ask for
your hand in marriage.
(Wiping his hands)
Look, Mr. Birnam --
If that is your attitude, Nat, I
shall have to drown my sorrows in a
jigger of rye. Just one, that's all.
Can't be done, Mr. Birnam.
Can't? Let me guess why. My brother
was here, undermining my financial
I didn't tell him nothing about the
wrist watch you left here, or your
Thank you, Nat. Today, you'll be
glad to know, we can barter on a
He takes the bills and change from his pocket, puts it on
(Reaching for the
bottle and the jigger)
One straight rye.
That was the idea.
Nat pours the drink, then returns to squeezing lemons. Don
picks up the glass, is suddenly acutely aware of the people
at the table, of Nat's eyes. The glass freezes halfway to
his mouth. He puts it down and starts playing the nonchalant,
casual drinker -- the man who can take it or leave it. He
fingers the glass, turning it round and round. He takes a
pack of cigarettes from his pocket and shakes one out, lights
it. As he puts the match in the ashtray, his eyes fall on
that jigger of whiskey. It's hard to resist it any longer.
He takes a handkerchief from his pocket, wipes his forehead,
then his parched mouth. The time has come now. He puts the
handkerchief back in his pocket, lifts the glass and drains
it in one gulp. Actually, Don doesn't like the taste of
liquor, actively hates it indeed, as a one-legged man might
hate the sight of his crutches but need them in order to
Now that he has the drink in him, a kind of relieved grin
comes back to Don's face. He holds the empty jigger in his
hand. Nat has come up with the bar towel to wipe off the wet
ring left by the glass.
Don't wipe it away, Nat. Let me have
my little vicious circle. The circle
is the perfect geometric figure. No
end, no beginning... What time is
Quarter of four.
Good. That gives us the whole
(He holds out his
glass for another
Only remind me when it's a quarter
of six. Very important. We're going
to the country for a weekend, my
brother and I.
From the table in the background comes Gloria, headed for
the powder room. Passing Don, she runs her finger through
the neckline of his hair.
Hello, Mr. Birnam. Glad to have you
back with the organization.
She goes on. Don turns back to Nat.
Not just a Saturday-Sunday weekend.
A very long weekend. I wish I could
take you along, Nat. You --
(With a gesture towards
the liquor shelves)
and all that goes with you.
Without a change of expression, Nat pours the second drink.
Not that I'm cutting myself off from
He points at the bag with the apples showing. Nat looks, but
doesn't get it. Like a magician, Don takes two apples out,
revealing the necks of the bottles.
(Gulping down the
Now of course there arises the problem
of transportation into the country.
How to smuggle these two time bombs
past the royal guard. I shall tell
you how, Nat, because I'm so fond of
you. Only give me another drink.
Nat pours one.
I'm going to roll one bottle in a
copy of the Saturday Evening Post,
so my brother can discover it like
(He snaps his fingers)
And I want him to discover it, because
that'll set his mind at rest. The
other bottle --
Nat leans over the bar towards --
That one I'm tucking into my dear
brother's suitcase. He'll transport
it himself, without knowing it, of
course. While he's greeting the care-
taker, I'll sneak it out and hide it
in a hollow of the old apple tree.
Aw, Mr. Birnam, why don't you lay
off the stuff for a while.
I may never touch it while I'm there.
Not a drop. What you don't understand,
all of you, is that I've got to know
it's around. That I can have it if I
need it. I can't be cut off
completely. That's the devil. That's
what drives you crazy.
Yeah. I know a lot of guys like that.
They take a bottle and put it on the
shelf. All they want is just to look
at it. They won't even carry a cork-
screw along, just to be sure. Only
all of a sudden they grab the bottle
and bite off the neck.
Nat, one more reproving word and I
shall consult our lawyer about a
He points to the empty glass for Nat to fill it. Nat pours
Quarter of six. Don't forget. My
brother must find me at home, ready
Gloria is back from the powder room. On her way to her
gentleman friend at the table, she runs her finger through
the neckline of Don's hair. She is almost past him when he
catches her hand and pulls her towards him.
Shall we dance?
You're awfully pretty, Mr. Birnam.
You say that to all the boys.
Why, natch. Only with you it's on
Is it? Whatever became of your
I've still got it. Only I find I
can't work more than four hours a
day, three days a week. It's too
tough on your eyes, all those little
No thanks. Thanks a lot, but no
thanks. There's somebody waiting.
Don looks off toward the table.
Him? I bet he wears arch supporters.
He's just an old friend of the folks.
Lovely gentleman. Buys me dimpled
He should buy you Indian rubies, and
a villa in Calcutta overlooking the
Don't be ridic.
Gloria, please, why imperil our
friendship with these loathsome
I could make myself free for later
on if you want.
I'm leaving for the weekend, Gloria.
Maybe another time.
And as she leans over, she runs her forefinger again through
the neckline of his hair.
Just crazy about the back of your
She returns to the table. Don drinks his drink, puts down
Nat, weave me another.
You'd better take it easy.
Don't worry about me. Just let me
know when it's a quarter of six.
And have one yourself, Nat.
Not me, Mr. Birnam.
I often wonder what the barman buys,
one-half so precious as the stuff he
Nat has poured the drink. Don points at it.
Come on, Nat. One little jigger of
You don't approve of drinking?
Not the way you drink.
It shrinks my liver, doesn't it,
Nat? It pickles my kidneys. Yes. But
what does it do to my mind? It tosses
the sandbags overboard so the balloon
can soar. Suddenly I'm above the
ordinary. I'm competent, supremely
competent. I'm walking a tightrope
over Niagara Falls. I'm one of the
great ones. I'm Michelangelo moulding
the beard of Moses. I'm Van Gogh,
painting pure sunlight. I'm Horowitz
playing the Emperor Concerto. I'm
John Barrymore before the movies got
him by the throat. I'm a holdup man --
I'm Jesse James and his two brothers,
all three of them. I'm W. Shakespeare.
And out there it's not Third Avenue
any longer. It's the Nile. The Nile,
Nat, and down it moves the barge of
Cleopatra. Listen: Purple the sails,
and so perfumed that The winds were
love-sick with them; the oars were
silver, Which to the tune of flutes
kept stroke, and made The water which
they beat to follow faster, As amorous
of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggar'd all description.
During the last two lines he has picked up the jigger of
rye. THE CAMERA is on the wet rings which the wet glass has
left on the bar.
Gradually the music swells under the Shakespearean quotation
and drowns it out. In two QUICK DISSOLVES we see the five
rings, then six, then nine. Over the last, the light has
A-26 THE BAR AGAIN
It is dusk. The electric lights are on. The place is about
half filled -- eight customers at the bar, five tables
occupied. Gloria and her friend are still there.
Don, an empty jigger in his hand, stands at the same spot,
only now leaning with his back against the bar. He is doggedly
quoting Shakespeare, more to himself than to the others at
the bar, who are ignoring him.
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous
palaces, The solemn temples, the
great globe itself --
Nat puts drinks before some other customers, then goes over
to Don, taps him on the shoulder.
Mr. Birnam, you ought to go home.
Yea, all which it inherit shall
Nat leans forward as tactfully as possible.
You ought to be home, on account of
Don half turns to him.
Who says so?
You said so yourself. On account of
you're going away somewheres.
Don't you remember?
He pushes the bag with the bottles and the apples towards
Don. Don looks at them. Suddenly it penetrates. He is seized
What time is it?
Ten past six.
Why didn't you tell me?
What do you think I've been doing
for half an hour?
Don snatches up the bag, the apples spilling out as he does
so. He turns to go. Nat points at the few coins which is all
that is left of Don's money.
Take your change.
Don scoops up the money, a few dollar bills and some silver,
and hurries out.
A-27 THIRD AVENUE, CORNER OF 55TH STREET - (EVENING)
Don comes from Nat's bar, runs around the corner to his house.
A-28 APARTMENT HOUSE WHERE THE BIRNAMS LIVE
Don, clutching the bag with the bottles, runs into the house.
A-29 FIRST FLOOR HALL, APARTMENT HOUSE
Don dashes in and starts upstairs. After a few steps he stops.
What if his brother is up there already? He stands undecided,
then sneaks down the steps and walks to the rear of the
entrance hall, where there's a glass door leading into the
A-30 GARDEN IN BACK OF APARTMENT HOUSE - (DARK)
Don comes out, walks far enough to be able to look up at the
back of the building. Are the lights on in their apartment
on the fourth floor? There is a light on the second floor,
nothing on the third, and on the fourth the lights are on in
the living room and the bedroom windows, all of which are
Don stands looking up. What shall he do? Go up and face the
music? Run away? Weakly he walks over to the stone bench and
sits down, putting the bottles on the bench next him. He
takes out his handkerchief, mops his forehead. His eyes go
up to the lighted windows again.
A-31 THE LIGHTED WINDOWS, FROM DOWN BELOW
Someone has stepped to the bedroom window. It's Helen. He
can recognize her, silhouetted against the light of the room.
A-32 DON, SITTING ON THE BENCH
His eyes fixed on the window above. Instinctively, he draws
back into the shadow of the sumac tree, as though Helen could
see him through the darkness.
A-33 EXT. BEDROOM WINDOW, FROM DON'S POINT OF VIEW
Helen disappears from the window into the room.
A-34 INT. BEDROOM
Helen is moving away from the window. Wick stands before his
suitcase, which is open and all packed save for slippers and
bathrobe, which he is rolling together.
Do you suppose he's at Morandi's, or
Nat's bar, or that place on Forty-
What difference does it make?
You're not really going, Wick.
I certainly am.
He puts the robe with the slippers inside it into the case.
You can't leave him alone. Not for
Wick slams shut the suitcase, snaps the lock.
Wick, for heaven's sake, if he's
left alone anything can happen! I'll
be tied up at the office every minute,
All Saturday. All Sunday. I can't
look out for him. You know how he
gets. He'll be run over by a car.
He'll be arrested. He doesn't know
what he's doing. A cigarette will
fall out of his mouth and he'll burn
in his bed --
Oh Helen, if it happens, it happens.
And I hope it does. I've had six
years of this. I've had my bellyful.
You can't mean that.
Wick takes his suitcase, goes into the living room.
Yes, I do. It's terrible, I know,
but I mean it.
Helen follows him.
A-35 LIVING ROOM
Wick comes into the living room, sets down the suitcase and
during the ensuing scene takes a topcoat from the closet.
For heaven's sake, Wick --
Who are we fooling? We've tried
everything, haven't we? We've reasoned
with him, we've babied him. We've
watched him like a hawk. We've tried
trusting him. How often have you
cried? How often have I beaten him
up? We scrape him out of the gutter
and pump some kind of self-respect
into him, and back he falls, back
in, every time.
He's a sick person. It's as though
he had something wrong with his lungs
or his heart. You wouldn't walk out
on him because he had an attack. He
needs our help.
He won't accept our help. Not Don.
He hates us. He wants to be alone
with that bottle of his. It's the
only thing he gives a hang about.
Helen turns away from Wick, leans against the wall, hoping
he won't see that she's crying.
Why kid ourselves? He's one of the
(OR, ALTERNATE LINE:)
Why kid ourselves? He's a hopeless
Wick leans into the bedroom, snaps off the light. He picks
up the suitcase, puts the topcoat over his arm, takes her
very gently by the arm.
He leads her towards the entrance door.
A-36 DON, ON THE BENCH IN THE DARK GARDEN
He stares towards the windows.
A-37 THE WINDOWS, FROM BELOW
The bedroom window is dark. In the next second the lights in
the living room go off.
A-38 DON, IN THE GARDEN
He picks up the bottles, rises, walks across the garden
towards the glass door to the hall, peers through it
A-39 STAIRCASE AND HALL, FIRST FLOOR OF THE APARTMENT HOUSE
(FROM DON'S POINT OF VIEW)
Wick and Helen come down the stairs, Wick carrying the
suitcase and topcoat. They go out the front door.
A-40 EXT. APARTMENT HOUSE
Wick and Helen have come out. Wick is hailing a taxi.
I'll give you a lift as far as Grand
No thanks, Wick. I'm going to wait
Because I won't give up? Maybe I am.
A taxi drives up.
Oh Helen, give yourself a chance.
Let go of him.
Wick opens the door of the taxi.
A-41 DON, AT THE GLASS DOOR TO THE GARDEN
He stands with the bag of bottles in his hand, peering through
the entrance hall out to the street.
A-42 STREET (SHOT FROM BEHIND DON)
Wick gets in the taxi, it drives off. Helen paces up and
down in front of the house.
Don opens the glass door, steps cautiously into the entrance
A-43 ENTRANCE HALL
Squeezing close to the staircase wall so that Helen won't
see him, Don gets to the staircase, then leaps up the stairs
as though pursued.
A-44 EXT. APARTMENT HOUSE
Helen waits outside the house. A couple of kids chasing each
other on roller skates almost run into her. She steps back
and stands in the doorway, looking up and down the street.
A-45 STAIRS BETWEEN THE THIRD AND FOURTH FLOORS
Don is hurrying up on tiptoe, two steps at a time. Suddenly
the door of a third-floor apartment toward the street is
opened. Don flattens himself against the wall, not to be
seen by Mrs. Deveridge, who is coming out with her dog,
Sophie, to give Sophie her evening airing. Sophie gives one
bark in the direction of Don, but Mrs. Deveridge pays no
attention and descends the stairs. Don starts up the stairs
again, as silently and as fast as he can.
A-46 FOURTH-FLOOR LANDING
Don gets to his door, opens it cautiously, slips inside.
A-47 INT. LITTLE ENTRANCE HALL OF BIRNAM APARTMENT
The only light is the light from outside, coming from living
room and bedroom. Don steps inside, closes the door. He
doesn't turn on the light but very carefully adjusts the
chain on the door, puts his hat away.
A-48 LIVING ROOM
Dim but for the light outside. As Don enters, he slips the
bottles from the paper bag and puts them on a table next the
armchair. He crumples the bag and throws it in the fireplace.
He takes one bottle, starts towards a bookcase and is about
to hide it behind the books when he changes his mind. He
looks around the room. His eyes fall on the ceiling. He goes
to the table next the couch, pulls it into the middle of the
room, brushes some magazines to the floor, takes a small
chair, puts it on the table, climbs to the table, from the
table to the chair. He is now directly below the ceiling
lighting fixture, an inverted metal bowl about two and a
half feet in diameter. Don reaches over the edge and deposits
the bottle inside the bowl so it can't be seen from the room.
He climbs down, readjusts the table, the chair, and puts the
magazines back. Don picks up a glass which is over a carafe
on the mantelpiece. He puts it next the bottle by the wing
chair. He opens the bottle, pours a glass about three quarters
full, puts the glass down. He loosens his tie and lets himself
fall into the easy chair. He looks through the open window
on the lights of New York. His eyes slowly wander to the
glass. He smiles. It's a smile of relief, of contentment at
being alone with his vice. There's a little pain in his smile,
A-49 THE GLASS OF WHISKEY
THE CAMERA MOVES TOWARD IT until the glass isn't visible any
more -- just a smooth sea of alcohol, with a little light
playing on it. THE CAMERA plunges deep into that sea.
END OF SEQUENCE "A"
B-1 STAIRCASE AND LANDING, FOURTH FLOOR - DAY
Through the skylight streams a dazzling shaft of sunlight,
falling square on the door to the Birnams' apartment.
On the threshold lies a copy of the New York Times, and beside
it stands a quart of milk. Pinned to the door is a piece of
paper from a notebook.
From inside there is the sound of the chain being detached,
and the door opens slowly. Don emerges. He is dressed exactly
as he was the day before -- same suit, same shirt, same tie.
He has slept in them and they are wrinkled. He hasn't shaved.
As he comes out and the sun hits his face, he squints in
agony. As he carefully closes the door, his eyes fall on the
note. He reads it.
"Don dear: I waited for you to come home. Please be careful.
Get some sleep. Eat. And call me, call me, call me. Helen"
There's a sly expression on Don's face as he closes the door,
leaving everything just where it is -- note, milk bottle,
paper. Peering down, he assures himself that the coast is
clear, slips down the stairs.
B-2 EXT. APARTMENT HOUSE - DAY, SUNNY - LIGHT TRAFFIC
The entrance door is half open and Dave, the janitor, an
Italian-looking man about fifty-five, is sweeping the side-
walk in front of the house. Don comes to the doorway, waits
until Dave's back is turned, then hurries out and slips down
the street, CAMERA WITH HIM.
Two houses down, in a semi-basement, is MRS. WERTHEIM'S HAND
LAUNDRY. Don goes down the steps into it.
B-3 INT. MRS. WERTHEIM'S LAUNDRY
The outer room is a kind of office, with a counter and shelves
of clean laundry in boxes and paper packages. Steam issues
from the actual laundry at the rear.
MRS. WERTHEIM, a gray-haired, stocky woman, is sorting
laundry. The shop's bell rings as Don comes in. His nerves
are on edge but he manages to work up a little nonchalance.
Guten Tag, Mrs. Wertheim. How's
Business he is good, thank you. There
isn't a fortune in it, but you know:
small fish, good fish. And I keep
young and healthy. Why shouldn't I,
sitting in a Turkish bath all day
She has picked a package from the shelf, puts it on the
Three dollars and ninety.
I wonder if you could do me a favor,
Always glad, Mr. Birnam.
My brother's gone away for the weekend
and he took the checkbook along...
Oh, you want a blank check?
It's not that. It's just that I'm a
(Sizing up his stature)
What do you mean, you're short?
I wonder if you could let me have a
little cash, bitte schoen?
A little cash?
I thought about twenty dollars, maybe.
Only till Monday, when my brother
You thought... No, Mr. Birnam. I
cannot. Not that I don't want to,
because I want to, but I cannot. And
when I say not, I mean absolutely
Her eyes fall on his tortured face. It's too much for her.
She rings open the cash register.
I'll let you have five dollars.
That's all right.
She hands him the five dollars.
Danke schoen, Mrs. Wertheim.
He turns and leaves, doesn't even hear:
Your laundry, Mr. Birnam! How about
She looks after him but there's only the ringing of the shop
bell as he leaves.
B-4 NAT'S BAR - BRILLIANT SUNSHINE OUTSIDE
No one is in the bar but Nat: he is cooking some ham and
eggs for himself on an electric plate behind the bar. The
floor has been mopped and is still shiny. The chairs are
piled on the tables.
Into the bar comes Don. He is walking rather slowly but it's
a tremendous effort not to race in and yell for what he needs
Don goes to the bar and sits. He takes the five dollars from
his pocket, puts it on the bar.
Thought you were going away for the
No answer from Don. He sits holding his head in his hands.
The bar is silent except for the sizzling noise of the eggs
and ham. Suddenly Don pounds the bar and explodes.
For the love of Pete, what are you
doing, Nat. Give me a drink!
Right with you, Mr. Birnam. Just
fixing my lunch.
Well, stop it and come on and give
me a drink, for heaven's sake.
(Banging the bar)
Come on, come on!
He stirs the food once more and takes the skillet off the
stove, snaps off the electricity with a slowness agonizing
(Quietly, though his
nerves are cracking)
Can't you hurry it up a little, Nat?
Nat pours a jiggerful.
Here you are, Mr. Birnam.
Thank you, Nat.
Don chokes it down and holds out the jigger for another. Nat
That young lady stopped in last night,
looking for you.
What young lady?
The one with the leopard coat.
She was acting like she just happened
to drop in, but I know she was making
the rounds after you.
What did you say to her?
I said you hadn't been in for two
Good. I can't let her see me. Not
now while I'm "off" like this.
Then why in the name of -- Why don't
you cut it short?
You're talking like a child. You
can't cut it short! You're on that
merry-go-round and you've got to
ride it all the way, round and round,
till the blasted music wears itself
out and the thing dies down and clunks
to a stop.
Nat brings over the plate of ham and eggs.
How about you eating this?
Take it away.
You got to eat something sometime.
Give me another drink.
Look, Mr. Birnam, this is still
He pours another drink. Don downs it.
That's when you need it most, in the
morning. Haven't you learned that,
Nat? At night this stuff's a drink.
In the morning it's medicine.
Okay if I eat?
Move it a little to one side.
Don taps with the jigger. Nat fills it, then sits down to
his ham and eggs.
Nat, are you ever scared when you
wake up? So scared the sweat starts
out of you? No, not you. With you
it's simple. Your alarm clock goes
off and you open your eyes and brush
your teeth and read the Daily Mirror.
That's all. Do you ever lie in your
bed looking at the window? A little
daylight's coming through, and you
start wondering: is it getting
lighter, is it getting darker? Is it
dawn or dusk? That's a terrifying
problem, Nat. You hold your breath
and you pray that it's dusk, so you
can go out and get yourself some
more liquor. Because if it's dawn,
you're dead. The bars are closed and
the liquor stores don't open till
nine. You can't last till nine. Or
it might be Sunday. That's the worst.
No liquor stores at all, and you
guys wouldn't open a bar, not until
one o'clock. Why? Why, Nat?
Because we got to go to church once
in a while. That's why.
Yes, when a guy needs it most.
He drinks his jiggerful.
How about those two quarts? Did you
polish them off last night?
What two quarts?
The two bottles you had.
An electric current runs through Don.
That's right, I did have two bottles,
didn't I? I hid one of them. I've
still got it. I'm a capitalist, Nat!
I've got untapped reserves. I'm rich!
He taps the glass on the bar.
(Pouring another drink)
Mr. Birnam, if you had enough money
you'd kill yourself in a month.
From the street enters Gloria, wearing a shirtwaist and skirt,
another foolish little hat, and high-heeled shoes with bows.
Say, Nat, was there a gentleman --
(She sees Don)
Hello, Mr. Birnam. Didn't you go
away for the weekend?
Apparently not, Gloria.
(Back to Nat)
Was there a gentleman in here asking
Not to my knowledge there wasn't.
He is drinking his coffee.
He was supposed to come around twelve
o'clock. He's from Albany.
Another friend of the folks?
More a friend of a friend of the
folks type. A fellow telephoned me
about him. Wants me to show him the
Like Grant's Tomb for instance?
Amazing, ain't it, how many guys run
down from Albany just to see Grant's
Sometimes I wish you came from Albany.
Where would you take me?
Oh, lots of places. The Music Hall,
and then the New Yorker Roof maybe.
There is now being presented at a
theatre on Forty-fourth Street the
uncut version of Hamlet. I see us as
setting out for that. Do you know
I know Forty-fourth Street.
I'd like to get your interpretation
of Hamlet's character.
And I'd like to give it to you.
Dinner afterwards, I think. Nothing
before. Always see Shakespeare on an
Not even a pretzel?
Don shakes his head.
But afterwards, dozens of bluepoints
in the Rainbow Room. And a very light
wine. Vouvray perhaps. Do you care
We may blindfold the orchestra so
that I can dance with abandon.
Aren't you going to dance with me?
Of course, little Gloria.
A man has entered the bar, a round-faced, middle-aged man
with pince-nez. There is a Guide of New York sticking from
his pocket. He's the guy from Albany, all right.
Could I have a glass of water?
Why, sure. And what shall it be for
Tell me: this is Nat's Bar, isn't
That's what the man said.
I'm looking for a young lady name of
With his thumb, Nat indicates Gloria.
Are you Miss Gloria?
Who, me? No, I'm not. I just live
with Gloria. She's not here.
And she won't be. She's down to the
Feeding bubble-gum to the jelly fish.
Ruptured appendix. Middle of last
night. Went like that!
(She lets out her
breath with an
Scared the life out of me.
He takes a couple of steps towards the door, turns.
Could I have a word with you?
No thanks. Thanks a lot, but no
You're welcome, I'm sure.
He walks out, bewildered.
Wasn't that rather rude, Gloria, to
send that nice man all alone to
When I have a chance to go out with
you? Don't be ridic.
Oh, is our engagement definite?
You meant it, didn't you?
He downs the jigger of rye.
I'm going to get a facial, a
fingerwave, a manicure. The works.
(With a sudden thought)
You're going to call for me, aren't
you? If you are, what time?
What time do you suggest?
How about eight?
I live right in the corner house.
You know where the antique shop is,
the one with the wooden Indian
outside? They've got the Indian sign
on me, I always say.
I'll be there.
Second floor. Oh, Mr. Birnam, all
I've got is a semi-formal. Will that
be all right?
That'll be fine.
She starts for the door, turns.
You know, this show you're taking me
to. If it's too highbrow, I can just
lean back and look at the back of
your neck, can't I? Eight o'clock.
One last one, Nat. Pour it softly,
pour it gently, and pour it to the
Look, Mr. Birnam, there's a lot of
bars on Third Avenue. Do me a favor --
get out of here and buy it someplace
What's the matter?
I don't like you much. What was the
idea of pulling her leg? You know
you're never going to take her out.
Who says I'm not?
I say so. You're drunk and you're
just making with your mouth.
Give me a drink, Nat.
And that other dame -- I mean the
lady. I don't like what you're doing
to her either.
You should've seen her last night,
coming in here looking for you, with
her eyes all rainy and the mascara
all washed away.
Give me a drink!
That's an awful high class young
You bet she is.
How the heck did she ever get mixed
up with a guy that sops it up like
It's a problem, isn't it. That nice
young man that drinks, and the high-
class young lady, and how did she
ever get mixed up with him, and why
does he drink and why doesn't he
stop. That's my novel, Nat. I wanted
to start writing it out in the
country. Morbid stuff. Nothing for
the Book-of-the Month Club. A horror
story. The confessions of a booze
addict, the log book of an alcoholic.
(Holding out the jigger)
Come on, Nat. Break down.
Nat does break down and pours a drink.
Do you know what I'm going to call
my novel? The Bottle -- that's all.
Very simply, The Bottle. I've got it
all in my mind. Let me tell you the
first chapter. It all starts one wet
afternoon about three years ago.
There was a matinee of La Traviata
at the Metropolitan --
SLOW DISSOLVE TO:
B-5 EXT. METROPOLITAN OPERA HOUSE - AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON,
HIGH CAMERA, SHOOTING DOWN past the glass-and-iron marquee
towards the entrance, beside which is a billboard announcing
Verdi's LA TRAVIATA. A crowd of people is streaming into the
building. They are wearing raincoats, carrying umbrellas.
B-6 THE VESTIBULE AND CLOAKROOM WINDOW AT THE METROPOLITAN
It is doing a land-office business, checking dripping
umbrellas and apparel. Among the crowd is Don Birnam. He is
alone and wears a bowler and a straight raincoat. He takes
off his hat and shakes the rain from it, then peels off his
raincoat. In the side pocket of his suit is a pint of liquor.
It bulges and the nose projects. For a second Don considers
whether it'll pass muster, but it's a little too prominent.
With a quick gesture he transfers the bottle to the pocket
of the raincoat, rolls the raincoat up like swaddling clothes
around a precious infant. Seeing an opening in the line at
the cloak room counter, he steps into it.
There is a great confusion of hands, coats, coat checks,
customers and overworked attendants. Don hands his coat to
an attendant. His eyes linger on its pocket with a certain
tenderness, then he turns and starts towards the door of the
B-7 A SECTION OF SEATS AT THE METROPOLITAN
Don sits about five seats from the aisle. He is under the
pleasant spell of the overture of La Traviata.
He sits between an elderly daughter and her age-old mother,
and a middle-aged man and wife. He is glancing through the
program as the curtain rises (changing the light on our
group). Don looks up.
B-9 THE STAGE
The set is a Louis XIVth salon, in the year 1700. It's
Violetta's supper. The guests are singing "Libiamo, libiamo,"
which is a drinking song in waltz time.
He loves music and especially Italian opera, but maybe he'd
have come late if he'd remembered the content of the first
B-11 ON THE STAGE
Powdered footmen are pouring wine into the glasses of the
Thirst in his eyes, he looks away from the stage, tries to
concentrate on the ceiling of the Metropolitan. No go. His
eyes wander back to:
B-13 THE STAGE
Alfred and Violetta are batting the drinking song back and
forth, as the chorus, glasses in hand, stands slowly swaying,
echoing each couplet.
That thirst is coming up again. The first drops of sweat are
gathering on his forehead. As he looks at the stage, his
imagination is working at top speed.
The swaying echelon of choristers SLOWLY DISSOLVES to a row
of raincoats, exactly like the one Don wore. They hang from
hangers and sway slowly to Verdi's rhythm.
B-16 DON'S FACE
His eyes glued to what he sees on the stage. He takes the
handkerchief from his pocket and wipes his forehead.
B-17 THE STAGE
The raincoats swaying slowly. THE CAMERA APPROACHES one of
them. From the pocket projects a bottle of whiskey.
He is wiping his parched mouth. He puts the handkerchief
back. He fishes the coat check from his pocket, buries it in
his fist, fighting the foolish impulse. It's a short struggle,
which he loses. He rises and, to the irritation of his
neighbors, leaves his seat amid some disapproving shushings
from the row behind.
B-19 CLOAK ROOM AND VESTIBULE
It is completely empty save for the elderly attendant, who
is dozing over his paper. From inside comes Verdi's music
and Don Birnam. He puts the check on the counter. The
attendant looks up from a newspaper.
Did you forget something?
No. Going home, if it's all right
The attendant takes the check and leaves. Don rolls his
program and sticks it into the sand of the cuspidor. He is
filled with a nervous anticipation of the drink which is on
its way. The attendant returns.
Say, this isn't yours.
Don looks. The attendant holds a short leopard coat and a
lady's small umbrella.
No, it certainly isn't.
(Comparing the check
with the number on
That's what it says though -- 417.
I don't care what it says.
The checks must have got mixed up.
Maybe they did. Find me my coat.
It's a plain man's raincoat and a
Are you kidding? Do you know how
many plain men's raincoats we have
on a day like this? About a thousand.
Let me get back there. I can find
That's against regulations, sir.
I'm not going to wait till the end
of the performance.
You can get your coat tomorrow.
Don's nervousness is mounting. He is searching his pockets.
Look, man, there's something in the
pocket of that coat I -- It so happens
I find myself without any money and
I need that coat. And I need it now.
Listen, if everybody went in there
digging through those coats... There's
regulations. There's got to be
What do you suggest?
You just wait till the other party
comes and then you can swap.
I want my coat.
As far as I'm concerned, that's your
He shoves the leopard coat and umbrella close to Don.
You're a great help.
He is biting his lips, unable to find another argument. The
attendant has returned to the other end of the counter and
resumed his doze. Don gets out a cigarette. Without opening
his eyes, the attendant calls it.
I thought so.
He puts the cigarette away, leans back on the counter, arms
B-20 VESITBULE, NEAR CLOAK ROOM
Empty, save for Don, who paces up and down nervously, carrying
the leopard coat and the umbrella. He glances over the coat
a little, at the initials inside, at the label. Over the
scene comes a muted aria from the second act.
B-21 A STAIRCASE LEADING TO THE GALLERY
Empty, save for Don, who sits on a step, the coat next him.
With the umbrella he is nervously tracing the pattern in the
carpet. Inside, the music rises to a finale and the first
people start streaming down from the gallery. Don grabs up
the coat and hurries towards the cloak room.
B-22 VESTIBULE AND CLOAK ROOM
People are streaming up from all sides to get their
belongings. Don comes into the shot and, standing on his
toes, tries to locate the claimant of his coat and hat.
B-23 VESTIBULE AND CLOAK ROOM
It is almost empty. Don still stands with the coat, looking.
As the last few people leave, at the far end of the counter
he sees Helen, in a little leopard hat, his coat over her
arm, his derby in her hand. She sees him with her coat and
her umbrella and the two approach slowly.
(Trying to control
That's my coat you've got.
And that's mine, thank heaven. They
mixed up the checks.
They certainly did. I thought you'd
He takes his coat rather brusquely, thrusts the leopard coat
You can't have been waiting so long.
Only since the first aria of the
first act. That's all.
Do you always just drop in for the
Don takes the coat, feels it hurriedly to make sure the bottle
is still there, and starts away.
Helen is left with the leopard coat and his bowler.
(Waving the hat toward
Hey, wait a minute!
Don comes back, takes the hat, starts away again.
My umbrella, if you don't mind.
His patience exhausted, Don stops again, takes the umbrella
and tosses it in Helen's direction. Helen, who is getting
into her coat, can't catch it. It falls right next to her.
Thank you very much.
Don stands abashed. He goes back, picks up the umbrella.
I'm terribly sorry.
You're the rudest person I ever saw.
What's the matter with you?
Just rude, I guess.
Really, somebody should talk to your
They tried, Miss St. John.
My name's not St. John.
St. Joseph, then.
First name Hilda or Helen, or Harriet
You come from Toledo, Ohio.
How do you know?
I've had three long acts to work you
out from that coat of yours. Initials,
label -- Alfred Spitzer, Fine Furs,
Maybe I should have explored your
But you didn't.
Didn't have time.
Good. My name is Don Birnam.
As they go on talking, they walk from the cloak room, through
the vestibule, to the street, Don carrying his coat over his
How do you like New York?
How long are you going to stay?
Oh, sixty years, perhaps.
Don doesn't get it.
I live here now. I've got a job.
I'm on Time Magazine.
Time Magazine? In that case perhaps
you could do something for me.
Could you help me to become Man of
Delighted. What do you do?
Yes, what do I do? I'm a writer.
I've just started a novel. I've
started quite a few novels. I never
seem to finish one.
In that case, why not write short
I have some of those. The first
paragraph. Then there's one-half of
the opening scene of a play. It all
takes place in the leaning tower of
Pisa and explains why it leans. And
why all sensible buildings should
They'll love that in Toledo.
Are you by any chance coming here to
Lohengrin next week?
I don't know.
Because if you are, I'm not going to
let this coat out of my hands.
I do, though. To be really safe,
maybe we should go together.
Are you in the telephone book?
Yes, but I'm not home very much.
Then I'll call you at the office.
Editorial Research. If Henry Luce
answers the phone, hang up.
They have reached the curb outside the Metropolitan. It is
dark and the rain has settled to a drizzle.
No, thank you. I'm taking the subway.
As a matter of fact, I'm going to an
extremely crazy party on Washington
Square. If you want, I'll take you
There is a split second of indecision but it is ended by
Don's awareness of the bottle in his raincoat.
Thank you very much, Miss St. James,
but I have to see a friend uptown.
Goodbye, Mr. Birnam.
He is unfurling his raincoat in order to put it on before he
steps from under the marquee. Helen is about a step and a
half away when there is a crash. She stops and looks down,
as does Don. On the sidewalk lies the pint of whiskey, broken.
Who threw that?
It fell out of my pocket.
Do you always carry those things?
You see... that friend, the one
uptown, he has a cold. I thought I'd
take this along and make him a hot
Now he gets hot lemonade and some
She goes. Don looks at the broken bottle, then after Helen.
With sudden decision he calls after her.
Miss St. James!
What kind of a party was that you
asked me to?
A cocktail party.
Invitation still stand?
Of course. Come on.
He joins her, takes the umbrella out of her hand and holds
it over them both as they go down the street.
B-24 NAT'S BAR
As we have left it, empty save for Nat and Don. Sunlight
outside. Nat is now taking the chairs from the tables and
arranging the bar for the afternoon and evening trade, while
Don leans back against the bar, the jigger of whiskey in his
hand, and goes on talking.
How's that for a first meeting, Nat?
Cute, full of laughs. A charming
girl, an extra special girl. Her
coat-check might just as well have
been mixed up with the coat-check of
a solid citizen, the son of the
chairman of some insurance company,
highly eligible, no vices except
that sometimes he plays the cello.
But oh no, that would have made
everything too simple. It had to be
that young man with the bottle.
Listen, once that bottle smashes,
doesn't she catch on?
No, she doesn't.
Okay. So they go to that cocktail
party and he gets stinko and falls
flat on his face.
He doesn't. He's crazy about that
girl by then. He drinks tomato juice.
Doesn't touch liquor for that whole
week -- for two weeks, for six weeks.
He's in love, huh?
That's what's going to be hard to
write. Love's the hardest thing in
the world to write about. So simple.
You've got to catch it through
details, like the early morning
sunlight hitting the gray tin of the
ashcans in front of her house. A
ringing telephone that sounds like
Beethoven's Pastoral. A letter
scribbled on her office stationery
that you carry in your pocket because
it smells of all the lilacs in Ohio.
And no drinking?
He thinks he's cured. If he can get
a job now, they can be married and
that's that. Only it's not, Nat. Not
quite. Because one day, one terrible
(He taps the jigger)
Pour it, Nat.
Well, go on.
You see, that girl's been writing to
her family in Toledo They want to
meet this young man. So they come to
New York. They stay at the Hotel
Manhattan. Their very first day,
she's to introduce him to her parents.
One o'clock. Lobby of the hotel...
SLOW DISSOLVE TO:
B-25 INT. LOBBY OF THE MANHATTAN HOTEL - (MIDDAY)
It is filled with the routine activity of a big commercial
hotel on a hot summer day.
Don Birnam, in a light summer suit, paces up and down the
lobby. Under his arm is a florist's box. He keeps eyeing the
doors to the elevators. He walks toward one of those circular
plush settees common to hotels, sits down, puts the flower
box next to him and adjusts the knot of his tie, his eye
still on the elevator doors.
On the other side of the settee are a middle-aged couple.
Don can't see them, they can't see him, as he overhears their
conversation, and it takes him a little time to realize that
they are Helen's parents.
MR. ST. JAMES is wearing a linen suit and a good but yellowing
panama hat, the brim turned up. MRS. ST. JAMES is a cheerful
little woman with glasses pinned to her dress, the kind that
pull. Mr. St. James is fuming a little.
MR. ST. JAMES
Just walked in for a simple haircut.
No, that wasn't enough, not for New
York. They gave me a shampoo, a scalp
massage, a manicure. Thought they'd
tear my shoes off and paint my
Mrs. St. James laughs comfortably.
MRS. ST. JAMES
I had a lovely morning. Just did a
little window shopping. I didn't
want to get all tired out.
MR. ST. JAMES
On account of meeting that young
man? Now, Mother.
MRS. ST. JAMES
Who did you get a haircut for?
MR. ST. JAMES
Wonder what's keeping Helen.
MRS. ST. JAMES
She'll be here.
MR. ST. JAMES
This Birnam fellow went to Cornell,
MRS. ST. JAMES
I believe so, but Helen says he never
MR. ST. JAMES
I wonder why. How old is he?
MRS. ST. JAMES
MR. ST. JAMES
He has no job. As far as I can find
out, he never had one. I wish Helen
wasn't so vague.
By now Don knows only too well that he is the subject of
their discussion. He leans his head against the back of the
settee, acutely uncomfortable.
MRS. ST. JAMES
Maybe he has a little money. Some
people do, you know, Father.
MR. ST. JAMES
He ought to have a job anyway.
MRS. ST. JAMES
He's a writer.
MR. ST. JAMES
A writer? What does he write? I never
heard of his name.
MRS. ST. JAMES
Now Father, relax. You always expect
the worst. I've made up my mind he's
a well-brought-up young man who wipes
his feet before he enters a house
and doesn't even smoke.
MR. ST. JAMES
I hope he realizes Helen's our only
daughter and we ought to know a few
things about him.
MRS. ST. JAMES
Those'll all come out -- his
background, his prospects, his church
Don can't take any more of this. He picks up the florist's
box, rises and moves away from the settee. When he has reached
the security of some potted palms, he looks back. Through
one of the revolving doors comes Helen, in a new spring suit.
She looks around, sees her parents, goes up to them. There
is a greeting, some conversation apparently about Don and
the fact that he'll get there any minute. She sits on the
settee between her parents, all three of them waiting for
Don stands undecided, then looks around, locates the public
telephone booths, steps into one of them.
B-26 INT. TELEPHONE BOOTH
Don deposits a nickel and dials the number of the Hotel
Manhattan, which is above the mouthpiece of the phone.
Manhattan Hotel?... Will you page
Miss St. James? She must be in the
He holds the phone and looks through the glass door of the
B-27 LOBBY, FROM DON'S POINT OF VIEW - (SILENT, AS IT IS
SHOT THROUGH THE GLASS OF THE PHONE BOOTH)
A bell-hop crosses the lobby, paging Miss St. James. Helen
rises and follows him over to the line of house phones on a
shelf. She picks up the phone, speaks.
B-28 DON, AT THE PHONE
Helen?... Don. I'm terribly sorry
but I can't get there for a while.
Please go ahead with your lunch and
apologize to your parents... No,
nothing serious. I'll be there.
B-29 LOBBY, FROM DON'S ANGLE, THROUGH THE GLASS OF THE PHONE
Helen has hung up too. She goes towards her parents, her
face a little crestfallen. As she joins them she evidently
starts to explain.
B-30 EXT. TELEPHONE BOOTH
Don emerges with the florist's box, careful not to be seen.
He leaves through one of the side doors.
B-31 LIVING ROOM, BIRNAM BROTHERS' APARTMENT - TWILIGHT
SHOOTING TOWARDS hall and entrance door. In the dim fore-
ground stands a small table, beyond it the vague contours of
Don lying on the couch. On the floor beside him an empty
bottle, in his hand a half-filled glass. There are footsteps
from the stairs. A key is turned in the lock, and Wick enters.
He wears a hat and carries a brief-case. He switches on the
light in the little entrance hall, flips his hat jauntily to
a hook on the coat-rack and comes into the living room. As
he crosses the threshold he becomes aware of Don's presence.
He snaps on the light, sees Don on the couch, drunk. Don
doesn't move an inch, only his eyes close.
Turn off that light.
For heaven's sake, Don.
Turn it off!
Wick snaps off the light. From now on the scene plays in
dimness, save for the shaft of light from the entrance hall.
Wick throws the briefcase into a chair.
I thought you were with Helen and
her father and mother.
Still no answer. Wick goes and sits beside Don, takes the
glass from his hand.
Come on, Don.
I couldn't face it.
You couldn't face what? Didn't you
go to see them?
Certainly I went. One o'clock sharp.
And I saw them, all right. Only they
didn't see me.
How was that?
Such nice, respectable people. I
couldn't face them, Wick, and all
the questions they'd ask me. I
couldn't face them. Not cold. I had
to have a drink first. Just one.
Only the one didn't do anything to
So you had another and another. You
poor idiot, Don. Won't you ever learn
with you it's like stepping off a
roof and expecting to fall just one
Don puts his arm over his face.
You're right, you're right. There's
nothing I can say.
There is a long second of silence, Wick looking at Don.
Go ahead. Bawl me out, Wick, let me
have it. Why don't you take that
bottle and smash it over my face.
There is another pause. Wick speaks very quietly.
It's a quarter of eight. I suppose
they're still in that hotel, waiting
Call her up, Wick, will you? Tell
her something. Tell her I'm sick.
Tell her I'm dead.
Wick has bent over Don and loosened his tie.
Will you call her?
Yes, I'll call her.
She must have written them a lot of
nice things about me. What a gentleman
I am. A prince.
Which hotel is it?
The Manhattan. Mr. and Mrs. Charles
St. James from Toledo, Ohio.
Paying no attention to the sound of steps which has been
coming from the staircase, Wick rises, puts the glass of
whiskey on the table and is about to cross towards the
telephone when the doorbell rings -- short, short, long,
short. Wick freezes. Don sits up on the couch. They know
that ring. There is a helpless look in Don's eyes.
Get up, Don.
Don, clinging to Wick's arm, pulls himself up. Wick pushes
him through the doorway to the dark bedroom, closing the
door after him. The bell rings again, that same ring.
Just a minute, Helen.
He snaps on the lights in the living room, rolls the empty
bottle under the couch, takes the glass of whiskey, puts it
behind the pile of records. As he is starting towards the
door, the bottle rolls from under the couch. Wick stops and
rolls it back again, then goes into the hall and opens the
door. Helen, in a great hurry, stands outside, nervous.
Hello, Wick. Is Don here?
Helen comes into the living room.
Any idea where he could be?
Wasn't he meeting you?
B-32 DON, IN THE DARK BEDROOM
He stands leaning against the wall, breathing heavily. His
eyes gleam with anxiety. Coming from the living room, stabbing
him deep, is:
He was supposed to meet us for lunch,
then he telephoned he'd be late.
Mother's beginning to think I just
made him up.
B-33 LIVING ROOM
Do you suppose something's happened
But surely he'd have called back if
he were all right.
Where did he call you from?
I don't know.
I think I've got an idea. He called
from out of town.
Out of town? Where?
What's he doing in Philadelphia?
There's an opening on the Philadelphia
Inquirer, The Book Section. Don wrote
them. He wired. I think this morning
early he just took a train.
He never told me a word about it.
I'm not supposed to tell you either.
He wanted it to be a surprise.
B-34 DON, IN THE DARK BEDROOM
He suffers like a dog as he hears what's being said in the
He probably couldn't get to the right
people right away, missed a train.
You know how it is.
Oh, it would be just wonderful if he
got the job and started working. Or
would it, Wick, with him in
Philadelphia and me in New York?
B-35 LIVING ROOM - WICK AND HELEN
Don't ever tell him I said that
though, will you?
Of course not.
Suddenly his eyes are transfixed. From under the couch has
rolled the bottle. As Helen speaks, he tries to get near it
without her noticing.
I could never understand why somebody
like Don, a person with so much
talent, such flashes of real
brilliance... Maybe I'm a little
Suddenly she sees Wick trying to kick the bottle back under
What are you doing, Wick?
Where'd that bottle come from?
It just rolled out.
From under the couch?
(With an attempt at
It's my guess that Don caught an
(A wild guess)
Is that Don's bottle?
What makes you think that?
There was a bottle the first time we
It fell out of Don's pocket.
It was for me, Helen.
B-36 DON, IN THE DARK BEDROOM
He stands with his head against the door post, listening,
This one is mine, too. You might as
well hear the family scandal. I drink.
B-37 WICK AND HELEN IN THE LIVING ROOM
Don thinks I drink too much.
He walks over to the records and picks up the glass.
I had to promise I'd go on the wagon.
That's why I hid the bottle, so he
wouldn't see it.
He takes a drink.
I'm so sorry, Wick. I shouldn't have
started asking questions. It was
none of my business.
B-38 DON, IN THE DARK BEDROOM
His brother's gesture has shaken him.
I'd better be getting back to the
hotel. Don may be there already. And
don't worry, Wick, I won't mention
this to him.
Thank you, Helen.
She must be on her way to the front door. With sudden decision
Don opens the door to the living room and walks slowly out.
B-39 LIVING ROOM & ENTRANCE HALL
Almost at the door to the entrance hall, Helen turns back.
Wick stands, the glass of whiskey in his hand, startled taut
at the sight of Don who comes in, not too steady on his feet.
I'm sorry, Helen. I can't let you
go. Not like that.
Shut your mouth, Don.
I'll take you downstairs.
Thank you very much for your
Philadelphia story, Wick. Nice try.
Helen comes back into the room, staring at Don. She is
beginning to realize that he's drunk. Don looks at the glass
in Wick's hand.
That looks so silly on you.
He takes the glass out of Wick's hand.
Don't listen to him.
You don't have to. Just look at the
two of us.
Yes. What's all this covering up?
All that happened is that Don was
nervous at the idea of meeting your
parents and so he took a couple of
Come on, Wick, she'd have found out
sooner or later.
Stop it, both of you. Don's a little
tight. Most people drink a little. A
lot of them get tight once in a while.
Sure. The lucky ones who can take it
or leave it. But then there are the
ones who can't take it, but can't
leave it either. What I'm trying to
say is I'm not a drinker. I'm a drunk.
They had to put me away once.
He went to a cure.
Which didn't take. That first day we
met, you see, the dirty trick was I
should have had the decency to get
drunk, just for your sake.
For my sake? We're talking about
(Turning to Wick)
Is it really that bad, Wick?
Yes, it is.
Can't we go over this tomorrow, Don
when you're feeling more like
Helen's heard the facts. That's all
there is to it.
I've heard them and they're not very
pleasant. But they could be worse.
After all, you're not an embezzler
or a murderer. You drink too much.
That's not fatal. One cure didn't
take. There are others.
Of course there are.
This has a familiar ring.
There must be a reason why you drink.
The right doctor can find it.
I'm way ahead of the right doctor. I
know the reason. The reason is me.
What I am. Or, rather, what I'm not.
What aren't you that you want to be,
A writer. Silly, isn't it? You see,
in college I passed for a genius.
They couldn't get out the college
magazine without one of my stories.
Boy, was I hot. Hemingway stuff. I
reached my peak when I was nineteen.
Sold a piece to the Atlantic Monthly.
It was reprinted in the Readers'
Digest. Who wants to stay in college
when he's Hemingway? My mother bought
me a brand new typewriter, and I
moved right in on New York. Well,
the first thing I wrote, that didn't
quite come off. And the second I
dropped. The public wasn't ready for
that one. I started a third, a fourth,
only about then somebody began to
look over my shoulder and whisper,
in a thin, clear voice like the E-
string on a violin. Don Birnam, he'd
whisper, it's not good enough. Not
that way. How about a couple of drinks
just to put it on its feet? So I had
a couple. Oh, that was a great idea.
That made all the difference. Suddenly
I could see the whole thing -- the
tragic sweep of the great novel,
beautifully proportioned. But before
I could really grab it and throw it
down on paper, the drink would wear
off and everything be gone like a
mirage. Then there was despair, and
a drink to counterbalance despair,
and one to counterbalance the
counterbalance. I'd be sitting in
front of that typewriter, trying to
squeeze out a page that was halfway
decent, and that guy would pop up
What guy? Who are you talking about?
The other Don Birnam. There are two
of us, you know: Don the drunk and
Don the writer. And the drunk will
say to the writer, Come on, you idiot.
Let's get some good out of that
portable. Let's hock it. We'll take
it to that pawn shop over on Third
Avenue. Always good for ten dollars,
for another drink, another binge,
another bender, another spree. Such
humorous words. I tried to break
away from that guy a lot of ways. No
good. Once I even bought myself a
gun and some bullets.
(He goes to the desk)
I meant to do it on my thirtieth
He opens the drawer, takes out two bullets, holds them in
the palm of his hand.
Here are the bullets. The gun went
for three quarts of whiskey. That
other Don wanted us to have a drink
first. He always wants us to have a
drink first. The flop suicide of a
All right, maybe you're not a writer.
Why don't you do something else?
Yes, take a nice job. Public
accountant, real estate salesman. I
haven't the guts, Helen. Most men
lead lives of quiet desperation. I
can't take quiet desperation.
But you are a writer. You have every
quality for it. Imagination, wit,
Come on, let's face reality. I'm
thirty-three and I'm living on the
charity of my brother. Room and board
free, and fifty cents a week for
cigarettes. An occasional ticket for
a concert or a show, out of the
bigness of his heart. And it is a
big heart, a patient heart.
Now, Don, I'm just carrying you along
for the time being.
Shut up, Wick. I've never done
anything, I'm not doing anything, I
never will do anything. Zero, zero,
Now you shut up. We'll straighten it
Look. Wick has the misfortune to be
my brother. You just walked in on
this, and if you know what's good
for you, you'll turn around and walk
out again. Walk fast and don't turn
Helen looks at him for a second, then takes off her hat and
throws it into a nearby chair.
Why don't you make some coffee, Wick?
Strong. Three cups.
Wick goes into the kitchenette.
Do yourself a favor, Helen. Go on,
Because I've got a rival? Because
you're in love with this?
(She points at the
You don't know me, Don. I'm going to
fight and fight and fight. Bend down.
He doesn't bend. She raises herself to her tiptoes and kisses
DISSOLVE BACK TO:
B-40 NAT'S BAR - LATER IN THE DAY
Nat and Don alone. Nat is behind the bar, putting tooth-picks
into olives which he takes from a bowl and arranges in a row
on a plate. Don, about ten wet rings in front of him and
what's left of Mrs. Wertheim's five dollars, is playing with
a full jigger of rye.
That was three years ago, Nat. That's
a long time to keep fighting, to
keep believing. They'd try a health
farm, a psychiatrist, a sanatorium
in New Jersey, No go. She'd be
patient. She'd be gay. She'd encourage
him. She'd buy a new ribbon for his
typewriter -- a two-color job, black
and red. Just write, Don. Keep
writing. That first paragraph came
off so well... There was no second
paragraph. There were drinks. Drinks
sneaked in secret. In the bathroom,
here, in Harlem. Promises again,
lies again. But she holds on. She
knows she's clutching a razor blade
but she won't let go. Three years of
And what? How does it come out?
I don't know. Haven't figured that
Want me to tell you? One day your
guy gets wise to himself and gets
back that gun. Or, if he's only got
a dollar ten, he goes up to the Empire
State Building, way up on top, and
(he snaps his fingers)
Or he can do it for a nickel, in a
subway under a train.
Think so, Nat? What if Helen is right,
after all, and he sits down and turns
out something good -- but good --
and that pulls him up and snaps him
out of it?
This guy? Not from where I sit.
Don jumps up.
Shut up, Nat. I'm going to do it.
I'm going to do it now. It's all
there. You heard it.
Yes, Mr. Birnam.
That's why I didn't go on that
weekend, see, so I can be alone up
there and sit down at my typewriter.
This time I'm going to do it, Nat.
I'm going to do it.
By gosh, maybe you will.
Thank you, Nat.
(he's up on his feet)
Am I all paid up?
Yes, Mr. Birnam.
Goodbye, Nat. I'm going home. This
time I've got it. I'm going to write.
Good luck, Mr. Birnam.
B-41 INT. BIRNAM APARTMENT - (DAY)
Don enters, the fire of real purpose in his eye. He hangs
his hat on the hatrack, goes to the bedroom, picks up the
typewriter, grabs the sheaf of typewriter paper Wick has
laid on top of his suitcase and carries them into the living
room. He puts the typewriter on the desk. Sitting down, he
inserts a sheet of paper in the roller and begins to type:
A Novel by Don Birnam
He pauses, then types underneath:
For Helen - With All My Love
He rolls the sheet of paper up, studies what he has typed as
though it were a painting. Then he begins to try and formulate
that first sentence of his book. To do so is absolute agony
for him. He gets up, puts a cigarette in his mouth, takes a
match from a folder, lights the cigarette, throws the folder
on the small table next to the big chair. As he does so his
eyes fall on the empty bottle and glass. He looks at them
for a minute, then goes over to the bookcase, puts his arm
in back of the books and runs his hand along the rear of the
shelf, looking for that bottle. It's not there.
He runs into the bedroom, hurries to his bed, where his
suitcase lies packed but not closed. He wipes the suitcase
from the bed, the contents spilling over the floor. He pulls
up one end of the mattress, looks under it. Nothing.
He goes back into the living room, pulls the couch from the
wall and, lying on his stomach, probes among the springs.
Nothing there. He lies on the couch, breathing heavily.
You had another bottle, you know you
did. Where did you put it? You're
not crazy. Where did you put it?
He jumps up, runs back to the bookcase, starts pulling out
books, row by row. He goes to the closet, opens it wide,
pulls out all its contents, throwing them on the floor.
He goes back to the big chair, throws himself down, exhausted.
His eyes fall again on the empty bottle and the empty glass.
Behind the glass lies the folder of matches. Something is
written on it but it is distorted by the glass. However, it
attracts Don's attention enough to make him push the glass
to one side. The folder reads:
HARRY'S & JOE'S
Where Good Liquor Flows 13 W. 52nd St.
B-42 INT. HARRY'S & JOE'S ON 52ND ST
You know how those places look: the lower floor of a
brownstone house, narrow, intimate, smoky. One side is a
bar. Along the other wall there is a long, built-in bench
with individual tables in front of it. At a miniature piano
a guy is playing and singing "It Was So Beautiful."
Don Birnam sits on the bench at one of the small tables. In
front of him is an empty cocktail glass. It is about his
fourth. At the next table on the bench sits a couple -- a
show girl type, about twenty-four, and a man about thirty-
five. They are nuts about each other and are holding hands
as they listen to the hoarse pianist. However, to Don the
music means little. He is very much the man of the world,
holding his alcohol superbly, smoking a cigarette. He snaps
his finger at a waiter, who is passing with a tray of drinks.
The waiter stops.
Where is my check.
Right here, sir.
The waiter takes the check which is thrust between his vest
and his stiff shirt and puts it face down in front of Don,
then hurries on with the tray of drinks. Don turns the check
over. It's for four dollars. Suddenly his financial situation
dawns on Don. He puts his hand in his pocket and pulls out
what cash he has. He does it very cautiously, under the table,
so that no one else can see it. He hasn't enough -- only two
one-dollar bills and some small change. Panic seizes him. At
that moment the waiter returns, expecting to be paid.
(A little stiffly)
One more gin vermouth.
Taking the check, the waiter leaves. Don has gained a little
time, but what shall he do with it? He considers the
situation. The door is some thirty feet away, and the check-
room girl stands in front of it. Don looks around. Nobody in
the bar he knows. Next him the couple is cooing away like
Spring, -- but on the bench between him and the girl lies
her bag. It's a handsome leather bag with gold initials, M.
M. It's about a foot and a half away from him, but it seems
like a mile and a half to Don. There must be some money in
that bag. Don looks around the room, his plan forming. No
one is looking at him. As though inadvertently, he drops his
hand on the bench beside the bag.
The man is whispering something into the girl's ear. She is
shaking her head. Don pulls the purse imperceptibly closer
to himself. Guests and waiters are passing by. Very calmly
Don smokes his cigarette, a great gentleman. The bag moves
very close to his coat. Now, switching his cigarette, Don
crosses his other arm so he can pull the bag up under his
coat. He pulls it to his armpit and holds it there, tucked
close to his ribs. Nothing in his face betrays him.
The lovers are still at it. The waiter comes back with the
(The young Duke)
Thank you. Where is your wash room?
Over there, sir.
He points to a door at the other end of the room. On its
panel is the stylized profile of a gentleman with a top hat.
Don starts to rise. The waiter pulls the table away for him.
Don carries the bag under his open coat by the pressure of
his upper arm. Between his fingers is a cigarette, so that
the whole thing looks fairly natural. There is a tiny puzzled
look from the waiter as Don walks slowly towards the wash
B-43 INT. WASHROOM
It's a two-wash-basin affair, with a colored attendant who,
as Don enters, is brushing a customer.
How's about a carnation, sir?
For your buttonhole, sir.
On the shelf above the washstand between talcum powder, nail
files and brushes, there stands a tumbler with carnations.
The attendant takes one, puts it into the customer's lapel.
The customer tips him and walks out.
Don is left alone with the attendant, who points to the other
bowl, runs fresh water in it.
Right here, sir.
Don steps to the wash bowl. His brain is functioning
Wipe my shoes, will you?
As Don picks up the cake of soap, he watches the attendant
get a polishing rag and bend down to dust off his shoes. Now
Don doesn't lose a split second. He plays his cards like a
master. He puts down the cake of soap, pulls out the bag,
opens it. There, between a compact, lipstick and keyes, are
some bills. He fishes out a ten-dollar bill, thrusts it in
his pocket and is about to close the purse when he sees the
carnations. He can't help smiling at the idea which flashes
into his mind. He takes one of the carnations, puts it into
the purse, closes the purse and thrusts it back under his
coat. Just as the attendant straightens up, Don puts both
hands into the water. The attendant holds out a towel, Don
wipes his hands.
How's about a carnation?
(Raffles by now)
I took one.
You did, sir?
He looks at Don's lapel, mystified,
Yes, for a very kind lady.
Don tips the attendant with a fifty-cent piece. The attendant
doesn't get the joke but chuckles automatically and opens
the door into the bar.
B-44 THE BAR
The piano isn't being played and the place is strangely quiet.
Don walks from the wash room, slowly towards his table.
Suddenly he stops. The space where the lovers sat is empty
now. That's the storm signal. Don looks around. Near the
little piano stands Don's waiter, the head waiter, the piano
player and the lovers. They're staring at Don. In fact, he's
suddenly aware that he is the focus of every eye in the room.
In the next second the storm breaks.
That's him. That's the man.
You were sitting here, sir?
I beg your pardon.
He doesn't play it very well now. M.M.'s escort is right at
him, grabbing him by the coat.
You took this lady's bag, didntcha?
Come on, give it back.
(With very little
hesitation and a wan
He takes the bag out from under his coat and hands it to the
Somebody call a cop.
No, George, no. It doesn't matter as
long as I have the bag.
Well, look in it. Maybe he's taken
Ten dollars, to be exact.
Don holds out the bill. M. M.'s escort snatches it from his
I ought to kick your teeth in.
George, George! He's drunk.
Get out of here.
How about the check?
Exactly. That's why I had to borrow
from the lady. I didn't have enough.
He fishes what money he has left from his pocket. The waiter
snaps it up.
I'll come back and pay the rest.
Don't you show your face here again
(Shouting towards the
Come on, Charlie.
He and the waiter grab Don, start him towards the door. From
the street comes Mike, the huge doorman-bouncer. He helps
with the ejection.
(To the entire bar)
I assure you I'm not a thief. I'm
not a thief!
As they drag him toward the entrance door, the pianist, in
an access of delicate humor, begins to pound the piano and
sing, "Somebody stole my purse, Somebody stole my purse."
By this time they've got Don to the door. The headwaiter
gets Don's hat from the checkroom girl's hand. He puts it on
Don's head, the bouncer pulls him through the door.
B-45 EXT. FIFTY SECOND STREET (NIGHT)
A line of waiting taxis along the brilliantly lighted night
club street. The bouncer, dragging Don from Harry's and Joe's,
gives him one last shove down the street.
Don comes to a stop and leans heavily against an iron railing,
wiping his face with his hand. He straightens his hat, looks
back. The doorman and the taxi drivers are staring after
him. Don turns, straightens himself as best he can and starts
for home, shame weighing down every limb.
B-46 STAIRCASE & FOURTH FLOOR LANDING, BIRNAM APT. HOUSE
It is meanly lighted by the wall brackets. The newspaper,
the bottle of milk, Helen's note -- are all as they were.
Don drags himself up the last few steps, unlocks the door
and goes in, leaving paper, bottle and note untouched.
B-47 INT. BIRNAM APARTMENT - DARK
Don has entered. Automatically he switches on the light in
the corridor. In a stupor of shame and misery he stumbles
over to the living room couch, flings himself down on it and
lies covering his face with his arms. After a time he brushes
the tears from his eyes with his sleeve and as he does so,
catches sight of something which rivets his attention, brings
a half-crazed smile to his lips.
On the ceiling is the shadow of the bottle which he hid in
the light fixture.
With new strength Don gets to his feet, nervous laughter
shaking him. He pulls the coffee table under the light
fixture, puts the chair on it, climbs up and retrieves his
bottle. He climbs down again, opening the bottle fiercely.
He goes to the table where his empty glass stands, pours it
half full. Over his face as he looks at the glass of whiskey
comes the uplifted peace of a worshipper at the high altar.
There the glass stands, gleaming in the light from above.
Again the CAMERA SLOWLY MOVES TOWARD IT, immerses in its
depths. Oblivion again.
END OF SEQUENCE "B"
C-1 THE BIRNAM APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM
About 9:30 the next morning. The living room is in the same
wild disorder -- books on the floor, a table on the chair
under the ceiling fixture, the couch moved from the wall,
clothes and shoes spilled from the closet. Two empty bottles
and a sticky glass stand about, and the portable, with its
almost virgin sheet of white paper in the roller.
It's a nasty sight, and its nastiness is emphasized by the
sunlight streaming in and mixing with the yellow pallor of
the electric light, forgotten and burning on.
Don is not in sight. Only the telephone, which stands on the
desk next the open portable, is alive. It is ringing at the
top of its bell.
C-2 BIRNAM APARTMENT - BEDROOM
Here reigns the same confusion: the suitcase flung on the
floor, the window shade flapping, and on the unmade bed, not
in it, fully dressed -- shoes, suit, tie -- lies Don, the
comforter and bedspread pulled up over him.
The telephone rings remorselessly. Don opens his eyes slowly.
The brightness of the day stabs them, he shuts them. Again
Don gets up. He is weaker than he thought. Steadying himself
on the bedpost and holding the door frame, he slowly moves
out of the bedroom.
C-3 LIVING ROOM
Don enters. He seems to be going straight to the ringing
telephone, only he isn't. He passes it and goes to the open
window. He puts his arm against the window frame, presses
his forehead against it, stands there, every vibration of
the telephone bell shaking his nerves.
Stop it, Helen, stop it, stop it.
I'm all right. I just can't talk.
There is another ring and another, then the phone stops.
Don's eyes fall on the bottle and the glass by the big chair.
He moves slowly towards it, picks up the bottle, holds it
upside down over the glass. One slow drop is all it yields.
Don puts down the bottle, goes to the other bottle on the
mantel shelf, picks it up, goes to the kitchen.
C-4 KITCHEN - BIRNAM APARTMENT
In the sink is the bottle Wick emptied that first afternoon.
Don picks it up, goes back into the living room.
C-5 LIVING ROOM - BIRNAM APARTMENT
Don goes to the glass, holds the two bottles upside down
over it. Two more meagre drops emerge, like thick syrup.
They barely stain the bottom of the glass.
Don puts down the two bottles, picks up the glass, empties
the pitiable three drops into the parched desert of his
throat. For a second it seems that he has found some relief.
That's not true. His need for alcohol has been multiplied
tenfold by that mockery of a drink. He's got to get another
bottle, another drink.
What are his finances? Quickly he goes through his pockets.
In the palm of his hand there are exactly two cents. He looks
around the apartment. There on the desk stands the typewriter.
Don walks towards it, rips the sheet of paper from the roller,
slams the lid of the cover shut, picks up the typewriter. It
is heavy, terribly heavy. He drags it to the little hall,
picks up his hat and puts it on.
At the door, weakness overcomes him. Dragging his hand with
it, the typewriter sinks to the floor.
You'll never make it. You'll never
make that hock shop. It's a block
and a half away.
He is crouched helplessly against the door. At that moment
the telephone shrills again. Once more Don straightens
himself, opens the door and leaves.
C-6 OUTER DOOR - BIRNAM APARTMENT
The note from Helen is still pinned to the door. There are
now two newspapers, two bottles of milk. Don steps over them
carefully, closes the door and starts down the stairs.
C-7 EXT. BIRNAM APARTMENT - (SUNNY MORNING)
Mrs. Deveridge and her dog Sophie are outside the apartment
house. Mrs. Deveridge is talking to Dave, the janitor, who
leans on his broom.
Don comes from the house with the typewriter. He stops to
make sure the two are absorbed in conversation, then steps
quickly past them down the street toward Third Avenue. Looking
back to see whether they have seen him, he turns into Third
Avenue and starts uptown.
C-8 THIRD AVENUE
This is to be Don's Via Dolorosa, this black, roaring,
perilous street up which he, drags the hellish weight of
that portable -- that portable which grows heavier with every
step -- in quest of a pawn shop which will give him a few
dollars for it. A few dollars which will mean drink, drink
which he needs to live.
Setting his jaw and whipping on his will, he reaches the
first hock shop. A steel gate is drawn across its entrance.
Don stares at the obstruction, completely mystified. There
is a woman standing nearby, wheeling a baby in a baby
carriage. Don turns to her.
This isn't Sunday, is it, lady?
I asked is this Sunday.
No, Sattaday. Why?
Because it's closed.
Nothing else is closed.
Well, somebody passed away, most
Don stands helpless for a moment, then, feeling the woman's
intrusive stare, straightens up. In the next block, miles
and miles away for the way he feels, is another pawn shop.
He starts for it.
Again every step is agony. Overhead the elevated thunders
excruciatingly. Sweat pours from his forehead. He changes
the typewriter from one hand to another.
At last he makes the second pawn shop. It too is closed. He
peers through the iron gate into the dark shop, turns around.
Across the street, in the same block, is the third pawn shop.
He must make it, but to get there he must cross the raging
torrent of Third Avenue.
He makes a pillar of the el, leans against it, shaking. When
a trolley car gets out of his way, he continues to cross the
That pawn shop is closed too. Don takes a bar and shakes it.
What's going on? What is it? Did you
all go to a funeral, all of you?
Maybe it's you that died, Don Birnam.
Maybe it's your funeral.
He pulls himself away and recrosses the street.
Reason has entirely deserted him, but blind instinct drives
Sixty-first Street, Seventy-first Street. Four more pawn
shops, all of them closed. Seventy-ninth Street. He's almost
struck by a car. The typewriter falls from his hand. A truck
runs over it but straddles it. Don gets it again.
Up the street, up the street, up the street. One pawn shop
closed after another. His feet are burning, as if the sidewalk
were hot lava. His ears are bursting.
Eighty-ninth Street, Ninety-fifth Street. Past bars, funeral
parlors, children on roller skates, and always the recurrent
torture of the elevated overhead. On and on, unable to stop.
Finally, half dead, he reaches a pawn shop on 120th St., and
finds the answer to his crucifixion. Two men in dark suits
with black bowlers and prayer books under their arms watch
him as he rattles the closed gate of the pawn shop, almost
out of his mind.
What's the matter with you?
Why are they all closed? They're all
closed, every one of them.
Sure they are. It's Yom Kippur.
It's Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday.
That makes sense to him. Or does it?
What are you talking about? How about
Kelly's? How about Gallagher's?
They're closed too. We've got an
agreement. They keep closed on Yom
Kippur and we don't open on St.
The two men stand grinning.
That's a good joke. That's funny,
that's very funny.
He picks up the typewriter, turns and starts walking back.
THE CAMERA goes slowly up to a sidewalk clock with a diadem
of three balls, which stands outside the hock shop. The time
is twenty minutes of one.
VERY SLOW DISSOLVE TO:
C-9 THE CLOCK IN NAT'S BAR
It says five minutes of four. THE CAMERA PANS DOWN. Nat is
at the bar. He and two or three customers are listening to
race results on a little radio. Don drags himself in, drenched
in sweat, his breath as short and agonized as that of a dying
man. He goes to the end of the bar closest the door, hoists
the typewriter on it with a final awful effort, leans his
head on it.
Nat comes to him.
What's the matter, Mr. Birnam?
Let me have one, Nat. I'm dying.
I thought you were home writing that
They're playing a trick on me. A
dirty trick. Give me one, Nat. I'll
pay you when I can. Just don't let
me die here.
No credit, and you know it.
All right, so it's charity. I'm
begging you for one. Give me one.
(Pouring a drink)
One's too many and a hundred's not
He shoves the drink at Don.
Don is shaking so that he can't pick up the glass. He bends
down, sucks half of it, then lifts the glass, drains the
rest. He holds out the empty glass to Nat, his eyes imploring.
Come on, Nat, come on. I'll let you
have my typewriter.
I'm no writer. You're the writer.
Now go. Go away.
I mean it. Get out.
Don takes the typewriter, drags himself out of Nat's place.
C-10 THIRD AVENUE, OUTSIDE NAT'S
Don emerges, starts dragging himself up the street towards
home. As he passes the antique shop, suddenly he stops. There
stands the wooden Indian Gloria spoke about, pointing up.
That's where Gloria lives. Second floor, this same house.
Don walks into the house.
C-11 STAIRS AND HALLWAY OUTSIDE GLORIA'S DOOR
This is a really crummy Third Avenue house -- dark woodwork,
paint peeling from the walls. Beside the door at the head of
the stairs there are about three bells, for the several
occupants of the apartment within. Don drags himself up the
stairs, puts down the typewriter and inspects the name tags
by the bells. One of them says: GLORIA DE VRIES. Don rings
the bell beside it. From inside comes:
Who is it?
Don rings again.
Who is it?
The door is opened by Gloria. She is wearing a dressing gown
and bedroom slippers. Her hair is the ruined elaborate
hairdress of yesterday, and her eyes are blazing with anger.
Why, Mr. Birnam, as I live and
breathe! Only if you're coming for
our date, you're a little late, aren't
you, Mr. Birnam? And if you're coming
to apologize -- no thanks. Thanks a
lot, but no thanks.
Save your saliva. I've had enough of
you. Def, but def. What do you think
I am? I break a business date. I buy
an evening purse, a facial, a new
hair-do. Well, maybe you can do that
to your ritzy friends. You can't to
Okay, what do you want, Mr. Don Birnam
I need some money.
Could you let me have some money?
Say, you out of your mind? Don't be
ridic. Get out of here. Make with
those stairs. Go on!
She starts back into the apartment, but Don gets her by the
hand, pulls her towards him and kisses her. At first she
resists, then her hand creeps up to the back of his neck,
clutches it hungrily.
I was waiting half the night, like
it was the first date I ever had.
And the other half I was crying.
(She looks at him)
How much money?
Could you let me have ten or five,
She slips into the apartment, leaving the door about three
inches a jar. Don leans against the door jamb, breathing
After a couple of seconds Gloria reappears with a wallet.
She takes five dollars out, gives it to him. Don takes it
with a shaking hand.
You look awful sick, honey. You got
a fever or something?
She brushes his forehead with the back of her hand.
I'm all right now.
He takes her hand and kisses it. Gloria looks at him, then
at her hand.
Thank you a lot. You do really like
me a little, don't you, honey?
Why, natch, Gloria. Natch.
He bends, picks up the typewriter and starts downstairs.
Gloria looks after him. From inside the apartment comes:
NAGGING WOMAN'S VOICE
Gloria, where are you?
She reenters the apartment, closing the door.
C-12 STAIRCASE - GLORIA'S HOUSE
Don is coming down, holding the banister with his left hand,
the typewriter in his right. Up the staircase comes a little
girl about seven, running a stick along the spindles of the
banister and singing the Hut Sut Song. The sound makes Don
wince, and as the child gives no sign of yielding precedence
to him, he switches the typewriter to his other hand and
leans against the stair wall.
The child passes him. As Don goes on, he slips, starts
falling, clutches a light bracket trying to check his fall.
It pulls from the wall under his weight and he falls,
clutching the typewriter, down the long flight of stairs. A
terrible, back-breaking fall.
The little girl stands horrified, then starts crying and
runs up the stairs. For an instant Don lies at the foot of
the stairs, still clutching the typewriter. His hat has fallen
off. He struck his head. It is in wild pain. He gets to his
knees, to his feet, lunges towards the door to the street,
taking the five dollars from his pocket.
C-13 THIRD AVENUE
Don comes out of Gloria's house, staggers towards Nat's bar,
the typewriter in one hand, the five dollars in the other.
Nat! I've got money now, Nat, I've
The fall has been too much for him. He sinks to his knees,
drags himself a few feet.
I need a straight one, Nat! Quick,
He collapses. People become aware of him -- one, two, four.
A crowd closes in.
Don lies on the sidewalk, looking up helplessly. His eyes
are dim. He tries to hold the money up but is too weak. His
hand drops back. The ring of faces looks down at him, among
them the familiar face of Nat.
Nat. I got the money, Nat.
There is the clang of an ambulance, the shriek of brakes.
The faces part to let two stretcher-bearers bend over Don
and take him on a stretcher.
Don is carried to the ambulance as the crowd watches.
The doors of the ambulance are closed. The ambulance starts
off, bell ringing like mad.
Nat has picked up the typewriter and looks after the
ambulance, his eyes full of pity.
C-14 INT. MOVING AMBULANCE
Don lies half-conscious, his eyes staring through the
C-15 TO C-25 OUT OF THE AMBULANCE WINDOW - (TRANSPARENCIES)
Fleeting impressions of a wild `U' turn on Third Avenue --
the elevated, the Chrysler Building, the tall midtown
structures, the lower houses of downtown, a high iron fence,
the entrance of Bellevue Hospital.
C-26 DON - IN THE AMBULANCE
His eyes close. He loses consciousness.
END OF SEQUENCE "C"
D-1 A WIRE BASKET WITH FOUR MILK BOTTLES IN IT
moving away from the CAMERA. Gradually we see that it is in
the hand of a milkman ascending the stairs of the Birnam
apartment house. He leaves a bottle by the door of the rear
apartment on the third floor, one in front of Mrs.
Deveridge's, then starts up to the fourth floor.
As he gets halfway up, he stops momentarily in surprise.
In the embrasure by the banister at the top of the stairs,
wrapped in her leopard coat, is Helen St. James, dozing
wearily. Beyond her is the door to the Birnam apartment,
Helen's note still pinned to the panel, two milk bottles and
the newspapers of the last two days on the threshold.
The milkman resumes his walk, careful not to wake up the
young lady. He deposits a milk bottle beside the others and
descends carefully. As he reaches the third floor, Mrs.
Deveridge, in a kimono, has just opened her door and is taking
in her milk bottle.
The milkman gestures to her not to speak so loudly, then
makes a mysterious gesture of the thumb indicating the upper
hall. Mrs. Deveridge looks up. The milkman proceeds down the
stairs. Mrs. Deveridge sets down the milk bottle and goes up
the stairs. As she goes, she calls sharply.
Anything wrong up there? Anything
Helen wakens at the first syllable, orientates herself as to
where she is, and gets up.
Are you all right?
I'm fine, thank you.
Have you been here all night?
I've been waiting for Mr. Birnam.
Mr. Don Birnam?
Yes. I suppose he must have stayed
overnight with -- some friends. He
has some friends on Long Island.
Now, now, what kind of story is that?
I beg your pardon?
Look, I'm his landlady. I know what
goes on in this house. I know Mr.
Don Birnam. I knew all about him the
first week they moved here, three
years ago. Heard those bottles rattle
in their garbage can. I know all
about you. You're Don Birnam's girl.
I also know he's not staying with
any friends in Long Island. He's off
on another toot and you know I'm
darned right. Now come on down and
I'll make you some breakfast.
I don't care for any breakfast, nor
do I care for that kind of talk,
even supposing you were right.
Which I am. Now you're going to have
They start downstairs, Mrs. Deveridge talking as they descend.
I could have kicked him out fifty
times. The last when two taxi drivers
dumped him into the entrance hall,
out cold on the floor, with all my
tenants going in and out, and children
leaving for school.
Oh please, please!
Well, I didn't put him out, not as
long as his brother could pay the
rent. You couldn't help liking him
anyway. He was so good-looking, he
had such nice manners. He always had
a little joke.
Stop talking about him as if he were
Did I? I didn't mean to. Hope it
wasn't bad luck.
D-2 THE ALCOHOLIC WARD
We start on Don Birnam's face. He is lying on a cot, his
eyes closed. He has a three-day growth of beard. His face
has the pallor and immobility of death.
Over the shot come curious sounds of moaning, of incoherent
mumbling, of slippered feet shuffling along a concrete floor,
of a mysterious metallic chattering.
Don isn't dead. The sounds reach his ears at last. His eyes
open for a second. Then his gaze is directed emptily upward.
D-3 THE BILE-COLORED CEILING OF A LARGE ROOM
Over it the same strange noises. Don's eyes (i.E. THE CAMERA)
slowly descend the bile-colored walls, broken by opaque leaded-
glass windows and the large glassed swinging door leading to
an outer room. At last the nature of the room itself is
revealed. It is filled with rows of strangely low cots, about
thirty of them, standing on dwarf legs. Eight of them are
occupied by men whose ages range from 20 to 60. Six of them
are white, two of them colored, All are unshaven and dressed
in shabby flannel hospital pajamas.
Don's dull eyes don't quite comprehend. His head aches
furiously. In the cot next him is a man about 50, burrowing
into the mattress in drunken sleep, his mouth fallen open.
In the cot opposite him, a very thin young fellow lies shaking
and sweating profusely. His entire frame, all of it, trembles
as if a fine motor operated somewhere beneath the mattress
On the other side of Don's cot, a huge negro lies babbling
incoherently. No words are audible, save now and then a
number. His voice has the sound of infinite worry.
Against the wall, not far from Don, stands a man about 30,
in a faded terry-cloth bathrobe. He has an incredibly
sensitive face. One ear is bandaged. He looks as though he
wanted to crawl into the wall from shame. The rest of the
men in the cots are sleeping lumps.
Don addresses the man standing against the wall.
What's this place?
The man looks at Don but doesn't answer.
Hey, you, what's this place?
The man stands staring at him, terrified.
I'm talking to you.
The man drifts away eerily.
From the opposite direction comes a male nurse. He is a robust
guy with a sarcastic mouth. He makes constantly with the
jokes, all of them at the listener's expense. His name is
Good morning, merry sunshine. How's
Where am I? What is this?
This? This is the Hangover Plaza.
What hospital is this?
Alcoholic Ward. How's the head?
We thought you'd fractured her till
we seen the X-rays. All in one piece.
Just a concussion.
Why did they put me in the Alcoholic
Are you kidding? We took a peek at
your blood. Straight applejack. Ninety-
What day is this?
(He holds out the key-
These yours? They fell out of
somebody's pocket. You and the colored
fellow was being undressed at the
Bim throws them at him.
Are you a doctor?
Nope. I'm a nurse. Name of Dolan.
They call me Bim. You can call me
He gets a pad and pencil from his pocket.
What's your name?
What kind of Birnam?
Where do you live?
Two hundred and nine East Fif --
Say, what do you need that for?
For the post card.
What post card?
To your folks, so's they'll know
where honey-boy is and where they
can pick him up when he's feeling
Okay. We'll get it out of the
telephone book, or the directory, or
maybe you've got it in your wallet.
(On his feet)
No post card. Understand? Nobody's
going to pick me up.
The management insists. If we let
you guys go home alone a lot of you
don't go home. You hit the nearest
bar and bounce right back. What we
call the Quick Ricochet.
Listen, I'm as well as you are. I
can leave right now.
You think so?
Where are my clothes?
How do I get out of this place?
(Pointing to the glass
Right through here.
Don has risen. He is wearing flannel pajamas like all the
rest of the patients. There are canvas slippers on his feet.
He is not quite as steady on his pins as he thought. However
he manages to make the swinging glass door.
Bim stands quietly watching him, a great big grin on his
D-4 THE ANTE-ROOM
It is L-shaped, about fourteen feet wide. Along the walls
are benches and a collection of wheel-chairs. Sitting on
them and milling aimlessly around, are some thirty alcoholics.
They wear terry-cloth bathrobes over their pajamas, canvas
slippers on their feet. They are well on their way to
normality, but they are still not a pretty sight -- unshaven,
In the listless, burned-out collection, Don is the only person
who moves with purpose. He scarcely notices the men as he
passes them, intent on finding the door. He goes around the
bend of the ell and there is the door, a heavy wooden one
with a grated peep-hole and beside it a uniformed guard. Don
goes to the door, tries to open it.
Where do you think you're going?
To get my clothes.
You got your discharge?
I'm all right. Let me out.
At this moment the door is opened by another male nurse,
carrying a pile of clean sheets and pillow cases. Don tries
to take advantage of the opening of the door to get out, but
the guard pulls him by the arm, while the entering nurse
locks the door with his own key.
Go on, get back.
Keep your hands off me.
Over the shot comes:
Don turns, At the bend of the corridor stands Bim, with a
tumbler of medicine in his hand.
Come here, Birnam.
Don approaches him slowly.
Is this a jail?
Well, this department -- it's kind
of halfway hospital, halfway jail,
but we run it more like a flophouse.
He guides Don back toward the ward, CAMERA AHEAD OF THEM.
Listen, Bim, in my clothes there's
five dollars. That's for you if only
you won't send that post card.
I don't want anybody to know.
Listen, your folks might as well get
used to our little post cards,
What are you talking about?
There'll be more of them, You'll be
Shut your face.
Listen, I can pick an alky with one
eye shut. You're one and you'll come
back. They all do.
He points at a man in a wheel-chair,
Him, for instance. He turns up every
month, just as sure as the gas bill.
(He points at another
And him there. That's another
repeater. This is his forty-fifth
time. Big executive in the advertising
business, A lovely fellow. Been coming
here ever since 1927. Good old
prohibition days. You should have
seen the place then. Say, this is
nothing. Back then we had really a
turnover. Standing room only.
Prohibition! That's what started
half these guys off. Whoopee!
They have reached the ward by now.
D-5 THE WARD
Bim seats Don on his bed.
Now lie down like a good boy and
What is it?
Doctor's orders. It'll calm you down.
I don't want it.
You better take it. Come the night
there's apt to be a little floor
show around here. Might get on your
Didn't you ever have the D.T.'s?
You will, brother.
Want to make a small bet? You're
just a freshman. Wait till you're a
sophomore. That's when you start
seeing the little animals.
(He holds out the
I don't want it.
That stuff about pink elephants,
that's the bunk. It's little animals.
Little tiny turkeys in straw hats.
Midget monkeys that come through the
key-holes. See that guy in the corner?
He points to the man with the sensitive face, who stands
against the wall.
With him it's beetles. Comes the
night, he sees beetles crawling all
over him. Has to be dark, though.
It's like the doctor was saying to
me, "Delirium is a disease of the
night." Well, good night.
And on the grinning face of Bim,
D-6 THE WARD - (NIGHT)
It is lighted by a faint blue light, but the lights are on
in the anteroom and some light comes through the glass doors.
There are the sounds of a ward full of drunken men -- sighs,
heavy breathing, snoring, babbling, moaning. On his cot lies
Don, his eyes wide open. Suddenly there comes a sharper sound --
a violent slapping of a bed. Don pivots in the direction of
On a cot in the corner is the man with the sensitive face
and the addiction to beetles. He is slapping wildly at his
bed, moaning. He rises and begins to slap the wall and scream.
Don stares at him through the dimness.
Through the glass doors come two male nurses with flashlights.
They run to the cot of the D.T. victim. There is a wild
scrabble as he fights them off. One of the nurses races back
to the door and calls:
Straitjacket! And the doctor!
By now, from several other beds in the ward comes demented
screaming. A third nurse races in, throws a straitjacket to
the first nurse, hurries to one of the other beds.
Seen through the glass doors, a doctor comes running down
the ante-room, followed by another male nurse with a cart on
which are hypodermic syringes, etc. The doctor must have
been in another building, because over his shoulders is flung
a dark blue overcoat. He enters the ward and dashes in the
direction of the beetle patient. As he goes, he tosses the
overcoat on the empty cot next Don.
Don looks after the doctor, then is fascinated by the coat
lying beside him. In the corner the three nurses and the
doctor are working over the beetle patient, the doctor giving
him a hypo, the nurses getting him into the straitjacket.
The ward is now really going off like a bunch of firecrackers.
(To the nurses)
Get him up to the violent ward.
From the cot on the other side of the ward, the third male
3RD MALE NURSE
Help me with this one, will you,
The doctor goes to him while the nurses drag the beetle
patient through the swing door into the ante-room.
Don slips from his bed and, crouching on the floor, pulls
the doctor's coat from the cot and, holding it tight, crawls
to the swinging glass doors and slides through them.
D-7 THE LIGHTED ANTE-ROOM
It is empty save for the two nurses, who are leading the
beetle patient around the bend of the ell. In a crouching
position, Don makes his way down the ante-room, holding the
coat close. At the bend he looks.
The two nurses with the beetle patient have reached the outer
door, beside which stands a night guard.
Violent ward. Get the elevator.
The guard opens the door and leads the way. The nurses drag
the patient out.
Don makes his way to the door, glances through the peephole,
then sneaks out.
D-8 CORRIDOR OUTSIDE THE WARD
The guard, the two nurses and the patient are at the elevator.
Don sneaks behind them, through the door to the fire stairs.
D-9 FIRE STAIRS
Don runs cautiously down, putting the coat on as he goes. He
feels something in the pocket, takes out a package of
cigarettes, matches, a couple of nickels. He hurries down
D-10 GROUND FLOOR CORRIDOR OF HOSPITAL
A guard stands at the steps leading from the main entrance
to the psychiatric hospital. He is talking with three female
nurses. Don slides behind them and out the entrance, which
is by now grey with the cold dawn.
D-11 EXT. ENTRANCE TO PSYCHIATRIC WARD
Don comes out, orientates himself quickly, runs through the
gate and up the deserted street.
D-12 A STREET IN THE 20'S
Deserted except for a water wagon. Don runs up it toward the
entrance of the elevated.
D-13 THE STAIRS OF THE ELEVATED
Don runs up them just as a train rattles in. THE PANNING
CAMERA catches the train as it leaves for uptown.
D-14 DON - IN THE ELEVATED (PROCESS)
He sits watching the first rays of sunlight strike the tall
buildings in the East 40's. The train comes to a stop and
Don gets up.
D-15 43RD STREET - ABOUT 6:30 IN THE MORNING
Don comes from the elevated, hurries down the street. CAMERA
PANS with him. Don stops in front of a shop. On its window
is painted LIQUOR AND WINES, and a couple of bottles are in
the foreground. It is closed. Don crosses the street and
stations himself in front of the building opposite, leaning
against an iron railing.
Elderly people pass him and go up some steps. Slowly Don
becomes aware that he is standing in front of a church and
the people are going to morning mass.
THE CAMERA PANS up the church to the cross on its gable,
then SWINGS ACROSS to the Chrysler Building opposite, now
bathed in bright sunlight. As the CAMERA PANS along the clear
THE CAMERA CONTINUES DOWN to the one-story building which
houses the liquor shop. It is 9 o'clock by now and the owner,
a middle-aged man in hat, coat and muffler, is just unlocking
Don, tormented by the long wait, sees him open it and starts
to cross the street.
D-17 INT. THE LIQUOR STORE
The proprietor enters, hangs up his hat, takes off his muffler
and is about to take off his coat when Don comes in. The
scene between the two is played very quietly.
I want a quart of rye. Quick.
All right if I take off my coat first?
The proprietor senses that there is something wrong. He looks
at Don. As his gaze reaches Don's pajama trousers and canvas
slippers. Don speaks.
No cracks, no questions. Just a quart
The proprietor grasps that this is no joking matter. He picks
up a bottle.
That'll be two fifteen.
Give it to me.
Come on. I need that liquor, I want
it, I'm going to get it. I'm going
to walk out of here with that quart
of rye, understand. One way or
There is murder in his eyes. The proprietor is completely
under the spell of that terrible glance. He hands over the
bottle. Don takes it and walks out. The proprietor takes a
few steps toward the door as if he were about to summon help
and catch Don, then he thinks better of it. With a what-the-
hell gesture, he starts taking off his coat.
D-18 EXT. THE BIRNAM APARTMENT HOUSE
Don, holding the bottle under his blue coat, slips quietly
past Mrs. Wertheim's laundry and into the entranceway. He
looks inside, to be sure he is not observed, then fishes the
keys from his pajama pocket, where Bim dropped them, and
opens his mail box. The post card is there. He takes it out,
crumples it and, putting it in the pocket of his over-coat,
goes inside the house.
D-19 INT. THE BIRNAM APARTMENT
Don enters, looks around the apartment, which is still in
utter disorder. The electric lights, burning on heedlessly,
offend him and he snaps off the light switch. Automatically
he takes the chain to hook it into its socket, but misses
the socket. The chain slips down and dangles.
Don, not noticing, walks to his big chair. On the small table
next it stand the three empty bottles. He sweeps them to the
floor. He takes the new bottle from his pocket and, sinking
into the big chair, starts opening it.
On the desk behind him, the telephone starts ringing. He
doesn't seem to hear it. Without winking an eyelash, he pours
his glass half full, lifts it so that glass and hand obscure
D-20 THE APARTMENT (NIGHT)
In the dark sits Don, passed out. The bottle next him is
four-fifths empty. He opens his eyes, still in a half-stupor,
stares straight before him. Out of the corner of one eye he
sees something and slowly and with difficulty turns his head.
In the wall above the couch, close to the door, there is a
hole in the plaster, as if left by a large nail carelessly
withdrawn so that some of the plaster went with it. Out of
the hole peers a small mouse.
At first Don draws back, repelled, but the mouse is such a
friendly, harmless creature that after a moment his face
relaxes and he half smiles at it.
Just as he does so, from the direction of the window there
whirs past him a strange winged thing. It is a bat, swooping
in slow loops around the room. Don crouches into the back of
his chair, staring in wild distaste. The top of the bat's
hooked wing nicks his forehead as it speeds in swift but
fluttering flight straight at the mouse.
Don stiffens against the back of his chair.
The bat has made another swoop and spread its wings over the
mouse. Beneath those black wings some hideous pygmy struggle
is going on. Apparently the bat has seized the mouse in its
Don gives a cry of horror.
Now from behind the struggling wings comes a spurt of blood.
Don cries out so hard his throat seems to burst apart, buries
his horrified eyes in the back of his chair.
From downstairs comes the barking of Mrs. Deveridge's dog.
D-21 STAIRCASE TO THE FOURTH FLOOR AND THIRD FLOOR LANDING
Mrs. Deveridge stands about four steps up, looking at the
door to the Birnam apartment. She must have been listening
from Don's first scream. Sophie, standing beside her, is
barking wildly. Beyond her, the door to her apartment is
Shut up, Sophie! Shut up!
Dragging Sophie after her, she hurries into her apartment.
D-22 LITTLE ENTRANCE HALL OF MRS. DEVERIDGE'S APARTMENT
The telephone is on the table by the door, a memorandum pad
beside it. Mrs. Deveridge picks up the phone and, glancing
at the pad, dials a number.
Miss St. James?... He's back. He's
upstairs... This is Mrs. Deveridge.
He's back! In the apartment. I heard
him yelling. He's just got to remember
that there are other tenants... Miss
St. James? Miss St. James?
Helen has obviously hung up. Mrs. Deveridge, a little
indignant, does the same.
D-23 INT. BIRNAM APARTMENT
Don still cowers in his chair, his face hidden in his arms,
his breathing heavy with terror. From outside comes the sound
of footsteps racing upstairs toward his door, then the door-
bell: short, short, long short.
Don's eyes turn slowly toward the door. His brain is still
functioning, for there is new terror in those eyes.
D-24 EXT. DOOR OF BIRNAM APARTMENT
Helen stands outside, ringing the bell. No answer.
Don, open the door. Open it, please.
Still no answer and she raps on the door.
D-25 DON, INT. APARTMENT
He sits staring at the door, holding his breath not to betray
Don, won't you let me in? I know
you're there. Please open the door.
Don doesn't move, doesn't answer.
D-26 HELEN, AT THE DOOR
Don, don't you hear me? I want to
She bangs on the door, rattling the doorknob helplessly.
staring at the door.
I won't go away, Don. Do I have to
get the janitor with the pass key to
let me in?
Don sits bathed in sweat, tears of terror in his eyes.
D-28 HELEN AT THE DOOR
She turns and runs down the stairs. Mrs. Deveridge stands in
her door, peering up. She hurries to the stairwell and calls
Yes, Mrs. Deveridge?
Come on up with the pass key.
D-29 DON, INT. APARTMENT
His eyes are on the door. Now they focus ON THE DOOR CHAIN.
It is not hooked in place but hangs limply. Don realizes
he's forgotten to put it up, but it's not too late, is it?
With a desperate effort he flings himself to the floor and
starts inching his way to the door.
D-30 STAIRS LEADING TO THE FOURTH FLOOR
Dave, the janitor, a ring with labelled keys on it in his
hand, leads Helen and Mrs. Deveridge up the stairs.
D-31 INT. BIRNAM APARTMENT
Don is almost at the door. There is the sound of ascending
footsteps. With his last strength Don raises himself against
the door, stretches out his hand, gets the door chain, tries
to slip it in its notch, but misses. The foot-steps have
stopped by now. There is the noise of a key being pushed
into the key-hole. Don tries again, but by this time the
door is open. Don throws all his weight against the door but
it is no use.
D-32 OUTSIDE THE DOOR
Dave has opened the door and holds it open as far as he can.
Helen slips into Dave's place in the doorway. From behind
the door comes the sound of Don's agonized breathing.
(Holding the doorknob)
Thank you very much.
You'd better let us come too. You
can't go in there alone.
I'll be fine, thank you.
She stands waiting until Dave and Mrs. Deveridge start
D-33 INT. THE APARTMENT
Don crouches behind the door. A shaft of light comes from
the corridor. Helen enters, closing the door behind her. She
kneels down beside Don.
Don, darling --
Go away, Helen.
I'm here to help you, Don.
Look at you. How long is it since
you've had anything to eat?
Don doesn't answer.
You want to get up, Don. Put your
hand on my shoulder.
Don blindly does as she says.
You'll have a bath. I'll help you
shave. You'll eat and sleep, and
when Wick comes back everything will
be all right.
They are beside the light switch. Helen snaps it on.
No, Helen, no!
What's the matter, Don?
The wall. Don't look.
Don gestures toward the spot where the bat and the mouse
The mouse and the bat.
What mouse? What bat?
That hole in the wall --
There isn't any hole in the wall.
She leads Don toward it. He stares at the smooth, unstained
Don runs his hand over the wall.
You had some kind of a nightmare.
She leads him into the bedroom, talking as they go.
Stop shaking, Don. Everything will
be all right. I'll stay right with
She seats him on the bed. Don is panting hard, completely
oblivious of the fact that Helen is in the room.
Little animals. It's always little
animals. That's what Bim said.
You're not making much sense.
She turns on the bed lamp.
And do you know what Nat said about
the ending? Like this.
(He snaps his fingers
Or like that.
(He snaps them
He goes on repeating the gesture, growing despair in his
END OF SEQUENCE "D"
E-1 A WINDOW IN THE BIRNAM APARTMENT - TUESDAY MORNING
It is raining outside and from the eaves comes a steady drip
in the exact rhythm in which Don snapped his fingers -- "like
this, or like that, like this or like that."
THE CAMERA PANS to include the whole living room. Helen lies
asleep on the couch, using the pillow and the comforter from
Wick's bed. She is wearing Wick's foulard dressing gown. The
room is all tidy now. On the armchair near the kitchen door
lies Helen's leopard coat.
In the door to the bedroom stands Don. Now that he is shaved,
we can see how pale his face is. He wears the dark suit (the
one he wore to the opera) and as his eyes shift from Helen
to the coat, he is just tying his tie. He has not yet buttoned
the buttons on the points of his soft collar. Very cautiously
he begins to tiptoe toward the chair. He picks up the leopard
coat and starts towards the entrance door. He opens it
carefully but it does creak a little.
Just as he is slipping out, comes --
Don shuts the door behind him. In the next second Helen
hurries into the shot. She is barefooted, just wearing the
foulard dressing gown. She flings open the door and runs
E-2 FOURTH FLOOR LANDING AND STAIRS
Helen runs to the banister and looks down. Don has already
reached the second floor and is hurrying down the stairs,
the fur coat over his arm, not paying any attention to Helen.
Where are you going, Don?
E-3 EXT. PAWN SHOP, THIRD AVENUE - LIGHT RAIN
Don is just coming from it. He walks down the street about
ten steps when Helen comes up to him. She wears the dress
she wore last night. No hat, no coat.
All right, Don. Give me the pawn
Don disregards her, tries to go on. Helen overtakes him and
blocks his way.
No scene, please.
No scene. Just give me the pawn
I don't want you to go in there now
claiming it. It would look queer.
You're ashamed of what the pawn broker
may think, is that it? It doesn't
matter what I think.
Wick'll get you back your coat.
You couldn't have taken my bracelet
or my pay check? It had to be that
You mean the one that brought us
together? Stop being sentimental.
I have, Don, I assure you. It's
finished. It's dead. For three years
they couldn't talk me out of you. I
was the only one who really understood
you. I knew there was a core of
something... And there was a core,
and now I know what it is. A sponge.
And to soak it full you'll do anything
ruthless, selfish, dishonest.
I asked you not to make a scene.
Then give me the ticket.
No, Helen, not now I told you. Cut
I don't want the money. You can get
as drunk as you like for all I care.
He goes on. Helen stands looking after him for a moment,
then turns angrily and proceeds toward the pawn shop.
E-4 INTERIOR PAWN SHOP #1
The pawn broker has put Helen's coat on a hanger and is
brushing it. Helen enters, very matter-of-fact.
A gentleman was here a while ago.
How much did you give him for that
I want it back. It's my coat.
It's your coat?
It's all right. He had my permission.
How much did you give him?
He didn't want any money. He wanted
to swap it.
Something he hocked here a long while
A gun. Now if you want that coat I
Helen is already out of the shop and running down the rainy
E-5 DON'S DESK
On it lies a revolver and the second page of a letter on
which Don is writing:
...But amid all the grimness can we share one little joke,
dear Wick: I did finish something, didn't I? Goodbye. Don.
E-6 THE BIRNAM APARTMENT
Don is seated at the desk. As he has been out in the rain,
his hair is still a little damp. He puts down the pen, gets
up, stands the letter conspicuously on the desk, picks up
the revolver, gets the cartridges from the drawer and loads
the gun. With a last look at the room, he walks into the
Don stands and looks at himself in the mirror, the gun in
his hand. He notices the unbuttoned points of his collar and
with a rueful smile at the funny timing of his urge for
tidiness, buttons one. As he is buttoning the second, there
is a sound from outside. Startled, Don puts the gun into the
empty wash bowl.
The door is being opened. Dave, the janitor, is letting Helen
in. She looks around wildly. She is breathing hard from her
race to get there. There is rain on her hair and her face,
and her dress is wet.
Don comes from the bathroom. Helen stands staring at him,
wiping the rain from her face, and maybe some tears too.
What is it, Helen?
(To the janitor)
Thank you very much.
That's all right, Miss.
He leaves, closing the door. Don and Helen are alone. During
the following scene, Helen's eyes are constantly on the
lookout for the gun.
What's the matter? Come on.
Nothing's the matter, except the
rain's worse and I can't get a taxi.
Perhaps you can lend me a coat under
Sure. How about my raincoat?
He takes it from the hook.
Funny, after all these years we should
wind up just as we met -- I with
your raincoat --
And I with your leopard coat. I always
got the best of the bargain. Goodbye,
She stands looking about.
What are you looking for?
I just thought if you had anything
for my head --
Would you care to wear my black
Some old scarf or something.
He steps to the chest of drawers in the bedroom.
Helen, looking around desperately, sees something reflected
in the shaving mirror: THE GUN IN THE WASH BOWL.
Before she can step toward it, Don is back with the scarf.
Here you are.
Oh, Don, there was still some whiskey
left in the bottle when I cleaned up
Would you like to know where I put
Don't you want a drink, Don?
Helen goes to the umbrella stand, takes out the bottle.
Just one. Look, it's right here.
She puts down the raincoat and the scarf and goes to the
kitchen for a glass.
What are you up to?
Nothing. I'm just ashamed of the way
I talked to you, like a narrow-minded,
insensitive, dried-up, small-town
I don't feel like a drink. Not now,
I told you.
Come on, Don. Just one. I'll have
one with you. I'm in no hurry. This
is my easy day at the office.
Helen, there are a few things I want
to put in order before Wick comes.
Let me stay.
He picks up the raincoat and the scarf.
I'm sorry. You'll have to run along.
He bends down for a kiss. Helen stands looking at him.
Don't let me bend for nothing.
Helen holds out the glass.
You need this, Don. Drink it. I want
you to drink it. I'll get you some
more. I'll get you all you want.
What kind of talk is that?
It's just that I'd rather have you
drunk than dead.
Who wants to be dead?
Stop lying to me.
She turns and runs into the bathroom and picks up the gun.
Don follows her.
Give it to me.
Helen holds it behind her.
Helen turns toward the window, lifting her arm to throw the
gun out. Don catches her arm and twists it.
Helen drops the gun.
Don picks up the gun.
Go on now.
He half pushes, half leads her into the entrance hall.
And no fuss, please. Don't call in
the neighbors. It won't do any good,
I promise you.
I won't. You've made up your mind.
Could you tell me exactly why?
Because it's best all around, for
everybody. For you, for Wick, for
That's not true. We love you, Wick
All right. Just for me, then. Selfish
That's a sad final word, Don.
Look at it this way, Helen. This
business is just a formality. Don
Birnam is dead already. He died over
Did he? What did he die of?
Of a lot of things. Of alcohol, of
moral anemia, of fear, of shame, of
Oh, that Don Birnam. And now you
want to kill the other one.
There were two Dons. You told me so
yourself. Don the drunk and Don the
Let's not go back to a fancy figure
of speech. There's one Don, and he's
A wave of weakness overcomes him and he sags against the
(With a gesture toward
He pushes her away.
I'm all right. I have enough strength
I know you have. I can see it. Don't
waste it on pulling a trigger, Don.
Let me get it over. Or do you want
me to give you another one of my
promises that I never keep?
I don't want you to give me your
promise. I don't want you to give
your promise to anybody but Don
To me? It's too late. I wouldn't
know how to start.
The only way to start is to stop.
There's no cure besides just stopping.
Can't be done.
Other people have stopped.
People with some purpose, with
something to do.
You've got your talent, your ambition.
Talent. Ambition. That's dead long
ago. That's drowned. That's drifting
around with a bloated belly on a
lake of alcohol.
It's not. You still have it.
Oh, Helen, I couldn't write. What do
you expect, a miracle?
Yes, yes, yes! If I could only make
you see --
The buzzer sounds.
Who is it?
It's me, Mr. Birnam.
What is it, Nat?
I got something for you.
Don goes to the door and opens it. Nat stands outside holding
something under his wet raincoat.
You know when you had your accident?
Well, afterwards I found this floating
around on the Nile.
He pulls out Don's typewriter.
Thank you, Nat.
She writes real good. I oiled her up
a little. And I didn't oil her up so
you can hock her.
Helen comes up.
I'll take it, Nat.
Helen takes the typewriter, carries it toward the desk.
(Discreetly, to Don)
How's all them lilacs in Ohio?
Well, Don. here it is. What do you
Say about what?
This. Someone, somewhere, sent it
back. Why? Because He means you to
stay alive, because He wants you to
write. I didn't ask for a big miracle.
Write! With these hands?
(He holds them out;
they are trembling)
And a brain that's all out of focus?
It'll clear up again. You'll be well.
And I'll be sitting there in front
of that white piece of paper, scared.
She puts a cigarette in his mouth, lights it.
No you won't. You've forgotten what
it feels like to be well.
And what will I write about? What?
What you always wanted to write.
Where's that page?
(She picks it up)
"The Bottle. A Novel by Don Birnam."
What was that going to be?
About a messed-up life. A man, a
woman and a bottle. Nightmares,
horrors, humiliations, things I want
Put them on paper. Get rid of them
that way. Tell it all, to whom it
may concern. It concerns so many
I'll fix us some breakfast.
She starts into the kitchen.
We have quite a supply of milk.
Helen goes into the kitchen, puts the gun away, runs water
into the percolator.
You'll notice I didn't even find a
Of course you couldn't write the
beginning because you didn't know
the ending. Only now --
She looks into the living room and her face freezes.
Don has risen from the couch and has picked up the glass of
whiskey. There's a second of hesitation, then he uses it for
an ashtray, dropping the cigarette into it.
A smile of relief comes on Helen's face.
Only now you know the ending.
Don has sunk back on the couch again.
I'll send one copy to Bim, one to
that doctor who loaned me his coat,
and one to Nat. Imagine Wick standing
in front of a book store. A great
big pyramid of my books. A Novel by
Don Birnam. "That's my brother, you
Helen enters the shot.
That's by my fellow. Didn't I always
I'm going to put the whole weekend
down, minute by minute.
The way I stood in there, packing my
SLOW DISSOLVE TO:
E-7 FIRST SHOT OF THE PICTURE
Only this time in reverse: We start with Don standing on
that sunny day in the bedroom, packing. THE CAMERA MOVES
AWAY, GOES DOWN THE WALL to the bottle hanging there, and
MOVES ON ALONG THE BACK OF THE FACADE OF THE APARTMENT to
the splendid panorama of New York.
Only my mind wasn't on the suitcase,
and it wasn't on the weekend. It
wasn't on the shirts I was putting
in, either. My mind was hanging
outside the window. It was suspended
about eighteen inches below the
sill... And out there in that great
big concrete jungle, I wonder how
many others there are like me. Poor
bedevilled guys, on fire with thirst.
Such comical figures to the rest of
the world, as they stagger blindly
towards another binge, another bender,
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