"THE PUBLIC EYE"
FADE IN: BEGIN TITLES
In murky light, a piece of paper sinks in a shallow tin tub.
By degrees, faces and forms appear on the page: a swooning
woman, (circa 1940) a cop who tries to catch her, a crowd of
onlookers standing in the shadows of a tenement house in the
aftermath of a murder. Before the photograph has completely
developed, it seems to fade in a dreamy
Another submerged page. A new images begins to appear: a
thick-ankled stripper (again, 1940) sleeping between shows
in her dingy dressing room. Before it has fully developed,
this photo also
A new page on which appears a billboard attached to a burning
building. It advertises a 1930's sunburn medication: "Put
out the flames with SunzoCaine!" Painted flames rises from a
sunbather's burnt back, mixing with the real ones.
We continue sensuously to DISSOLVE THROUGH black and white,
high-contrast photos as they come hauntingly to life (all of
them depicting New York, at night, in the late 30's or early
40's) till we END TITLES.
We PAN TO the dim red darkroom bulb, under which we begin to
hear a faint siren and
...another red bulb, this one atop a patrol car.
EXT./INT. POLICE CAR [APRIL, 1942] - NIGHT
We hear a Dispatcher's monotonous voice over a hissing police
Signal 30. Two-three-six Thompson
Inside the car, the Young Cop who's driving angles forward
in his seat, pressing heavily on the gas.
His older partner stares forward, blankly.
EXT. 236 THOMPSON STREET - SAME
A respectable working-class block. Neighbors are clustered
by the stoop in robes, pajamas, undershirts. A woman with
young children holds them to her nightgown. All watch as The
Cops pull up by the curb and rush from their squadcar. They
push their way through the crowd.
(in an undershirt,
The Cops continue into the building.
INT. STAIRWELL - 236 THOMPSON
The Cops move stealthfully up the dim stairwell, guns drawn.
On the third-floor landing, a door is ajar. Light spills out
onto the floorboards.
As they ascend, the Cops can see the corpse of a smartly
dressed young man inside:
It lies face down, its features rudely pressed and bloody
against the floor. A freshly-blocked hat lies a few feet
from the dead man; he was shot as he came home.
On the landing, the Cops move carefully to the door, hugging
They hear someone moving inside the apartment. They freeze,
The older Cop cocks his gun, crosses himself, wraps his hand
around the doorframe. He jumps into
crouching, gun drawn. A crackling, blistering sound is heard
as a flash of light fills the room, blinding him.
(blinking as he stands)
A flashbulb hits the floor hollowly.
BERNZY (whose real name is Leon Bernstein and whose
professional name is "The Great Bernzini") inserts a new
bulb in the giant chrome flash attachment of his Speed Graphic
press camera. A cigar is planted in the corner of his mouth.
Bernzy cuts a curious figure: He wears an oddly oversized
suit that has capacious pockets to accommodate camera lenses,
film plates and flashbulbs. His thick-soled shoes are sensible
to a fault. He wears a hat but no tie.
His face is alert and ironic, his movements rapid and
(to the Cop, deadpan)
You scared me.
He reaches into his jacket to extract a new 4 x 5 glass film
plate (from a bag of plates hung over his shoulder) with a
well-practised, unhurried speed.
The older cop, O'BRIEN, is annoyed; his comment sounds like
We weren't six blocks from here when
it come over the radio.
Bernzy is lining up another shot; he speaks from behind both
cigar and camera.
I killed him. To get the pictures.
The Young Cop has entered. Bernzy waves him back.
You're casting a shadow.
He backs up, obligingly. Bernzy takes his shot.
The Young Cop kneels by the corpse. He finds a gun in the
waist-band of its suit trousers.
Second one this week.
Who'd this guy work for, Bernzy?
But Bernzy hears a car pulling up outside, a car door
slamming. He peers down into the street through the window.
Another Photographer is arriving. He crosses the street,
lugging a press camera.
I think Farinelli. But he's not
lookin' his best tonight... Could
you move his hat closer?
His hat. The hat. People like to see
a dead guy's hat.
O'Brien grudgingly picks up the hat, drops it closer to the
The flashbulb fires.
EXT. ALLEY - NIGHT
Bernzy, in the alley alongside the building, is hunched over
the open trunk of his sedan on a camp stool.
The car trunk has been turned into a darkroom. The truck
lamp has been replaced with a darkroom bulb. A drying line
is suspended over a shallow tub. (Also in the trunk are two
dozen boxes of Wabash super-flash photo lamps, an open box
of cigars, a pot of glue, various cameras and lenses, and a
tiny, battered typewriter.)
Bernzy looks up into the apartment window as the explosion
of a flashbulb-fills the window.
Bernzy unpins four nearly dry photos on the line, fans them
in the air, lays them face down on the trunk floor, and stamps
their backs with his identifying imprint:
Deco lettering is surround by the stamped outline of an eye,
like something on an optometrist's sign. Around the upper
and lower lids of the eye it says "CREDIT PHOTO TO - THE
GREAT BERNZINI". In the center of the eye it says "THE PUBLIC
He slams the trunk shut.
INT. DAILY NEWS BUILDING - NIGHT
CLOSE ON a Daily News check, made out to Leon Bernstein. On
a stub, the check is carefully accounted for.
1 Corpse (2 bullets @ $1.50 each)............$3.00
Bernzy, riding down in an elevator, folds the check into his
INT. DAILY NEWS LOBBY
The elevator doors open, Bernzy steps out.
The Photographer we saw leaving Thompson St. steps into the
He only has to see Bernzy to know he's too late.
INT./EXT. BERNZY'S SEDAN/STREET - NIGHT
Bernzy drives, his eyes intently scanning the nighttime
A steady, low hiss is emitted from a police radio, that is
gerry-rigged under his dusty dashboard, swaying on its wires.
A metal plate on the radio says FOR POLICE VEHICLES ONLY.
Bernzy's Speed Graphic, with flash, sits on the seat next to
As Bernzy reads every shadow and doorway for potential
We see what he sees out the window (buildings and people) in
black and white, slightly overcranked: the POV of Bernzy's
INT. TENEMENT HALLWAY - NIGHT
On the landing of the stairwell, a young Puerto Rican Woman
wails hysterically as two Cops try to calm her down. She's
in her nightgown. A flashbulb fires over her.
The narrow stairway is packed with Policemen and Puerto Rican
neighbors in their T-shirts, pajamas and robes.
A COP leads two Ambulance Attendants, with a stretcher, up
the stairs shouting as he goes.
Clear the way, get back, c'mon, c'mon,
Now he passes Bernzy, near the top of the stairs --
Bernzy, clear outta here.
Bernzy is taken aback --
But I hear this guy's walkin' around
with a meat cleaver in his head -- !
-- as if it's every man's God-given right to photograph such
a rare sight.
Get the Hell out.
As the Cop heads into the Woman's apartment, he speaks to
the ambulance Attendants, but looks at Bernzy as he does so.
Throw a sheet over him.
The Cop is suspiciously keen to thwart Bernzy: Bernzy smells
He turns to a Puerto Rican MAN, the next door neighbor, who
watches in his T-shirt and boxers.
Who is this guy, anyway?
(Puerto Rican accent)
Working for the Mayor. Visits at
Bernzy sizes up the elements of the tragedy as the Orderlies
bring the victim out of the apartment. He looks at the
hysterical mistress and then at her victim/paramour, who is
covered with a sheet, but moving (with a comically high
protrusion where the meat cleaver is lodged).
Bernzy -- his eyes as keen as a fox's -- takes a last look
at the covered stretcher -- not a good picture -- then heads
quickly down the stairs.
EXT. TENEMENT HOUSE - NIGHT
Bernzy opens the cavernous trunk of his car. He sorts through
a cigar box containing various tools of the photographer's
trade, including a scissors he uses to crop prints. He picks
up the scissors.
He strips off his coat.
EXT. TENEMENT HOUSE - MOMENTS LATER
The Attendants load the stretcher into the back of the waiting
limousine. People watch, Bernzy not among them.
One of the Attendants climbs in back, the other gets in the
front, next to the Driver.
The ambulance pulls out. Siren.
INT. AMBULANCE - SAME
Bernzy sits in the back of the ambulance. He has cut a square
in the back of his jacket collar, then put the jacket on
backwards, to simulate a clerical collar.
(to the Attendant)
Better uncover him, son.
The Attendant complies. We don't see the corpse, but the
handle of the meat cleaver juts up ludicrously into the frame
and it moves back and forth as the victim moans. Even Bernzy
is taken aback.
Not the thing a priest would say; he crosses himself to cover.
Bernzy begins to mutter piously, indecipherably, over the
ailing man. He waves something over the man, like a bottle
of Holy Water when the last rites are administered.
We see what he's waving: a light meter. Still muttering,
Bernzy reads the meter.
The Attendant looks perplexed -- a dawning realization.
...Wait a second.
From his oversized pocket, Bernzy withdraws a 35 mm camera.
He gets his shot fast, before the Attendant can react.
SHOCK CUT TO:
EXT. STREET - NIGHT
A Man in a hat watches as the ambulance comes to an abrupt
halt. The Man watches as The back doors open and a "priest"
spills out -- half leaping, half pushed. The "priest" lands
on his ass in the street (careful to protect his camera) as
the Attendant slams the ambulance doors.
The ambulance takes off again.
The "priest," unfazed, dusts himself off as he hails a cab
with a cheerful serious determination.
As the cab squeals away with the "priest", the Man in the
hat wonders what he just saw.
INT. PHOTO DESK - DAILY MIRROR - NIGHT
A photo editor, EDDY, studies the picture of the meat-cleaver
victim (we don't see it).
This is a new low, even for you,
Flatter me all you want. It's still
You got a release on this guy?
You got a spirit medium on staff?
You checked with the hospital?
Eddie opens the big ledger-style checkbook, starts to write
Didn't even make it to Bellvue, poor
bastard. Thank God I was able to
administer his last rites.
INT. ALL-NIGHT DRUGSTORE - NIGHT
In black and white, overcranked, we watch a Sailor and his
Girl necking in the rear-booth of a drugstore.
WOMAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
That's not very polite.
At normal speed, in color, we see Bernzy, sitting at a booth
near the counter of the drugstore, staring at the young
couple. He has a cup of coffee, a plate of eggs and his camera
on the table.
Bernzy, caught staring, looks up at the WOMAN.
I know what it's like. I work nights
She takes a seat across from Bernzy.
She has plain, well-scrubbed features, and wears a raincoat.
A Nurse and a Doctor are at the next booth.
(he puts the camera
to his eye)
Break-time comes, there's nobody to
talk to, you feel lonely, right?
How much you got on you?
Bernzy looks at her a beat before picking up the camera again.
He shoots the Girl and the Sailor, rather than answer her.
'Tomorrow He Sails' -- That's the
C'mon, how much? There's no harm in
My wife wouldn't like it.
Bernzy throws a dollar on the table, collects his camera:
he's in a hurry to get away. Meantime:
Honey, you're not married and you
don't have a girl: I saw how you
were looking at those two.
Bernzy gets up to go.
Your socks don't even match.
He pretends not to hear her, as he heads for the door. She
Calls after him, with a plaintive sweetness.
Oh, c'mon -- come back!... It's lonely
INT./EXT. BERNZY'S SEDAN/STREET - NIGHT
Bernzy drives, his gaze unflagging. The Dispatcher
monotonously intones a series of drab numbers on the hissing
INT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - DAY
The police radio continues to hiss, O.S., without
interruption, as we pan Bernzy, asleep on top of his bed.
He's curled up in his clothes.
Still panning, we see the apartment. It's exceedingly
cluttered -- as unkempt and eccentric as its occupant. The
shades are drawn against daylight.
On the crowded table Bernzy uses for a desk, there is a
payroll check from Time, Inc.:
TWO MURDERS. . . . . .$35.00
Pinned to the bulletin board over the desk, there are covers
from the New York Daily News, Mirror, World-Telegram, Post,
Sun and Journal-American, all featuring Bernzy's photos of
classic tabloid subjects: fires, corpses, handcuffed hoods.
Piled against a wall are two four-foot-tall stacks of cigar
boxes with masking tape labels across their front flaps.
These are marked with laundry pencil: "Vagrants," "Drunks,"
"Strippers," "Rich & Poor," "Coney Island," "Gangsters -
Dead," "Miscellaneous Crowds," "Bowery - Night," "Gangsters -
Still panning, we see a series of photos clothes-pinned to a
laundry line. They show the Bum, sleeping in the box: he
seems isolated and diminished in the high contrast of the
Speed Graphic photo -- a bright island in a sea of blackness.
Pulling back from the photo we see the photos of the curled
up bum in the foreground and Bernzy curled up on his bed in
the near distance, the police radio on his nightstand.
We begin to hear Big Band music over the hissing as we
EXT. CAFE SOCIETY - NIGHT
We hear the Big Band music as we see a red awning lettered
LOU LEVITZ'S CAFE SOCIETY. It shows the club's trademark
since the 30's: a squat coffee cup (a remnant of Prohibition,
when gin was served in the guise of legal beverages).
On the sidewalk outside the polished revolving doors, there
is a crush of out-of-towners who wait to enter, dressed in
their best. But they'll never be let in.
A few Tabloid Photographers, behind a velvet rope, grip their
big cameras, waiting for celebrities to come or go. One of
them spots Bernzy as he threads his way through the crowd.
Hey, Bernzy, y'just missed Eleanor
Roosevelt French-kissin' the Aga
I'll catch 'em inside.
That'll be the day.
Bernzy approaches the beefy Irish doorman, in red livery,
who mans the ropes.
Behind the ropes, Bernstein.
Bernzy parks his cigar in his mouth and extracts a piece of
paper from the inside pocket of his ill-fitting suit.
The Doorman reads a handwritten note on Lou Levitz's personal
stationery. In a woman's hand: "Danny, Please direct Mr.
Bernstein to my office, Mrs. Levitz."
As the Doorman reads, a patrician-looking Couple in evening
clothes push their way to the front.
Evening, Mister-missus Armstrong.
The Doorman lifts the rope. Mr. Armstrong slips him a bill
as they pass through. Bernzy starts to follow, but the Doorman
hooks the rope before he can pass.
He looks over at the other Photographers, as he hands Bernzy
back the note.
Kitchen door. Check the camera.
INT. CAFE SOCIETY - NIGHT
The band music swells, O.S., as the kitchen door swings open
and a Waiter exits, tray in hand. It stays open as a Chinese
Bus Boy points Bernzy in the direction of the hat check,
across the front of the club.
CAFE SOCIETY - HAT CHECK
Bernzy, all eyes in this New York Mecca, takes up the claim
ticket for his camera, steps down into
CAFE SOCIETY - MAIN ROOM
The big band plays on a bandstand, raised and set back from
the tables. A black SINGER is performing, whose double
entendres and risque stage manner lend a cultivated air of
the illicit to things.
In Cafe Society, as in The Stork Club or El Morocco, the
seating arrangements clearly denote the "importance" of
The dreaded Outer Circle belongs to rich but garrulous
businessmen with flashy dates or wives in furs. The Middle
Circle is for show biz types, pretty women, professionals,
the up-and-coming. The coveted Inner Circles comprises the
well-born and the famous, e.g., Social Register types, stars
of Broadway, prize-fighters and movie stars.
Every table has a white cloth, a red rose and a ceramic
ashtray that says LOU LEVITZ'S CAFE SOCIETY. Those who eat
eat steaks or chops. Everyone drinks champagne or Scotch.
Bernzy's eyes drink in the rich atmosphere. They seem to be
taking photographs without benefit of a camera: DOYENNE WITH
GIGOLO, FAT MAN OGLING CIGARETTE GIRL, ACTRESS IN SUNGLASSES,
etc., again through the black and white of Bernzy's trained
The MAITRE D' approaches Bernzy, intending to evict him; his
eyes scornfully size up Bernzy's clothes, his overall
demeanour. He has an Italian accent.
You have reservations, sir?
I can see you got some.
The Italian looks at him, utterly perplexed by the idiom.
Bernzy shows him the note from Kay. Recovering from his gaffe,
the Maitre d' bows his head graciously. He crosses to a
section at the back of the room where The club's Hostess --
a beauty -- is pointing out salient features of the room to
a delegation of men in business suits (not evening clothes.)
She charms them all with some witty remark. As they laugh,
the Maitre d' points out Bernzy.
She excuses herself, crosses to Bernzy. She looks impossibly
elegant next to him, or he looks impossibly unkempt next to
Thanks for coming, Mr. Bernstein.
KAY (Mrs. Lou) LEVITZ is in her early 30's, a dancer/actress
plucked from some show or chorus by her husband years ago,
now groomed like a rich lady.
Bernzy follows her toward a set of stairs at the back of the
club. As they move, she looks across at the men in suits.
Those're Publicity men from the War
Department. They wanna shoot a
newsreel in here for War Bonds.
INT. NIGHTCLUB OFFICE - SAME
They enter. She closes the door behind them. The music is
still audible from downstairs, but muted.
A professional Hostess, in full control of her charm, she
immediately crosses to a drinks caddy and pours him a Scotch.
There's never been a camera inside.
Lou always said "It's like Heaven,
that way: they're dyin' to see it."
Bernzy smiles, but he looks ill-at-ease, holding his hat.
The back wall of the office has a big curtained window that
looks down on the nightclub. Memorabilia lines the other
Bernzy is studying a photo-portrait of Kay -- a professional
glamour shot from her show business days. He looks at a framed
photo of Kay with the late Lou Levitz -- squat, bald, nattily
She hands him the Scotch and indicates the short couch.
He sits at one end. She sits at the other. The shabbiness of
his clothes is especially apparent in these sleek
surroundings. He's still uncomfortable. It shows.
Is everything alright, Bernzy?
I'm still in shock.
She doesn't understand...
If I'd of snuck in, I'd feel more
(a slow smile)
Me too. Half the people down there
feel more sure they belong than I
Now he smiles, half-disbelieving. He takes a cigar out of
(she shakes her head)
Lou told me you know everybody in
New York, Bernzy: all the crooks and
all the cops...
He shrugs modestly as he unwraps his cheap cigar.
And he said you never take sides,
because all you care about is getting
pictures: taking sides might get in
the way. Please -- take one of Lou's.
They're just going t'hell here.
She opens a humidor on the coffee table and takes out a big
Cuban. As she hands it to him, she seems to study him.
I guess you've read about Lou's
brother contesting the will. If
Lou'd've wanted to leave Cafe Society
to a rug salesman, he'd of left it
He sells toupees? or carpets.
It's hard to tell.
He smiles, she smiles... She grows more serious.
People say some pretty lousy things
about me, Bernzy: she's a cold-hearted
girl who married and buried an old
man. You've heard that?
Bernzy looks at her. He shrugs.
I loved my husband. I love this place.
It's mine now... It's mine.
She seems to want some affirmation of this fact.
Right. It's yours, now.
She gets up abruptly and walks to the window overlooking the
club. She draws back the curtain with her hand.
D'you know this man?
He joins her at the window. He looks down:
A young, dark-faced Man, whose heavy, thuggish features
contrast with the fine cut of his suit, sits at a table with
a woman in decolette. They laugh in an ugly way.
Never saw him. I'd take a stab in
the dark he ain't Society League.
On the desk blotter, Kay finds a legal paper, then comes
back to the window.
He says he was my husband's partner.
She hands him the pages. A vulgar, gilt embossed business
card is clipped to the top page with a name -- EMILIO
PORTIFINO -- and an East Side address.
He says Lou owed him money, and now
he's my partner.
Never heard of him.
Bernzy shakes his head.
Lou didn't need money --
(examining the pages)
'Offered as collateral in exchange
for services rendered.'
-- and he didn't keep secrets from
How would you know?
I mean if they're secrets.
You know how it is -- when you're
intimate with someone.
Bernzy's smile freezes; he doesn't know.
I know Lou bootlegged in the old
days. Who didn't? And I know every
booking agent who comes in here isn't
strictly on the up and up. But Lou
was a reputable businessman.
This is his signature?
She nods. She looks out the window, again, at Portifino.
He's here every night, not ten feet
from the Governor or Walter Winchell.
Couldn't you just -- ?
Throw him out? I want to. But he
says he'll go to my brother-in-law,
and help him prove Lou's will is
No! but -- I'm a second wife, there
aren't any women in this business,
and we both know what people say
about me. I can't take the chance.
As she looks out the window, staring at Portifino, she bites
her lip, fretfully -- nothing like the cool elegant hostess
she was on the floor of the club. This unnerves Bernzy. If
she's just acting (vulnerable) she's doing a good job.
(clearing his throat)
I could find out who he is.
She takes his hand in hers.
He looks at his hand in hers. Either feeling that she is
being over-emotional, or sensing he is uncomfortable being
touched, she lets go of him, grows more matter-of-fact.
I really don't know what's
appropriate, but I'd like to pay you
I just thought --
He shakes his head. A beat.
Danny, downstairs, 'suggested' I
come in through the back.
Looking at Bernzy, she can understand why the Doorman
insisted: anybody could.
I'm sorry. I'll talk to him about
He nods. This doesn't seem like quite enough.
Why don't you stay and have dinner?
She indicates the club, below.
(he smiles, starts to
It ain't that big a favor.
Next time, then.
(as he goes out)
CAFE SOCIETY - MAIN FLOOR - LATER
Bernzy, rather amazed, wearing a half-smile, stands waiting
for his camera at the hat-check, looking out over the club.
He looks up to the office window where Kay stands, looking
down, smoking unhappily.
Bernzy's smile fades: he's enjoying this too much.
EXT./INT. BERNZY'S SEDAN/N.Y. STREETS - NIGHT
Bernzy drives up lower Broadway, his eyes scanning the street,
a steady low hiss being emitted by the police radio...
EXT. MEAT DISTRICT - NIGHT
A Butcher hauls a bloody carcass on his back. He looks over
when the flashbulb fires.
Bernzy has planted himself among a row of bloody carcasses
hanging on hooks to get the shot.
EXT./INT. BERNZY'S SEDAN/STREETS - NIGHT
It's nearly dawn. Bernzy is still driving. His jacket is
soaked in beef blood.
INT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - DAWN
Bernzy sits at his desk. On it is one of his file boxes, the
cigar lid swung open. He's studying a picture from the box.
It is of Kay and Lou Levitz, taken at a Broadway opening
night. Under it is a typewritten caption that is yellowed
with age. It says "Beauty and the Beast."
As pins the picture on his bullet board we
INT. BERNZY'S APT - AFTERNOON
In the bathroom, Bernzy is knotting a necktie, quickly but
poorly. The bathroom is also the kitchen: it has a hotplate
and a shelf of canned soup, canned chile, canned spaghetti.
which Bernzy passes on his way out, has been turned into a
EXT. STREET OUTSIDE BERNZY'S - DAY
Bernzy hurries up the street, fidgeting with his tie.
He is greeted by TOM HAYWARD, 30, a man in a seersucker suit
with a wry manner and an Ivy League air. He holds a furled
newspaper under his arm.
Bernzy! Just coming to see you.
I'm late. Walk with me.
What's with the tie? Somebody die?
Hayward unfurls the newspaper, a Daily Mirror. The banner
headline (no photo) reads: KILL MOTHER IN JERSEY WITH AX.
Came off the wires. Couple of
seventeen-year-old kids in Greenport,
New Jersey. They're screwing in the
girl's mother's kitchen, when who
should walk in but mom. She starts
screaming her head off and --
Yeah, yeah: everybody already guessed
what comes next.
The local police won't let anybody
near 'em: no pictures, no interviews.
I don't leave New York.
They approach Bernzy's parking garage. A long line of cars
extends out into the street, waiting to enter. But Bernzy
and Hayward take no notice of it; it's business as usual.
INT. GARAGE - SAME
Now we see that the cars are queuing for gasoline. In the
filling station of the garage's ground floor, a posted sign
HAVE YOUR GAS RATION COUPONS READY
(No Coupons, No Gas)
It's half an hour, over the bridge.
(hurrying to keep up)
There's gotta be 30 bucks in this
for each of us if the wires pick it
up. You telling me this thing's paid
He drags a finger through the dust atop Bernzy's sedan.
As Bernzy thinks about it, Hayward pulls a silver whisky
flask from his jacket, unstops it, drinks.
Alright. Call Greenport. Find out
when the D.A.'s in court. Find out
when the arresting officer's in the
station house. In a two-bit town
like this, he might even work the
desk. When the cop's in and the D.A.'s
out, gimme a call.
Bernzy gets into the car.
Tell me where you're going dressed
Bernzy pulls the door shut without answering.
INT. EASTSIDE OFFICE BLDG. - UPPER FLOOR CORRIDOR - DAY
In a panelled hallway, Bernzy reads the name on an oak door
as he adjusts his tie. He goes in; we read the name on the
H.R. RINEMAN & SONS, PUBLISHERS
INT. ANTEROOM - RINEMAN PUBLISHING - SAME
Bernzy gives his name to a RECEPTIONIST.
Is it a pick-up or a delivery?
I have an appointment.
The door to the inner offices and a sympathetic bespectacled
young man of 24, RICHARD RINEMAN, comes out, pulling into a
Bernzy approaches him, smiling.
Mr. Bernstein. How are you. It's my
father who'll see you today. I've a
doctor's appointment, I'm afraid.
Bernzy already suspects something is amiss, but hides it.
Sure, that's all right.
Well, then -- goodbye.
He goes out. Bernzy seems to know the same door is going to
It does. H.R. RINEMAN appears, an athletically vigorous 60
INT. RINEMAN'S OFFICE - LATER
Rineman leads Bernzy into his book-lined office: all dark
wood and rich leather.
Now does one call you Mr. Bernstein
or Mr. Bernzini? Or is it just
I was born Leon Bernstein. But I got
the name 'The Great Bernzini' from
the gals at World-wide, the big photo
agency? They said I had t'be a
magician to get to so many disasters
He shows Bernzy to a chair in front of his desk, speaking as
he takes his own seat, behind it.
I know my son spoke to you
optimistically about publishing your
book. That's why he wanted me -- why
I wanted to speak to you rather than
tossing it back into the mail.
Bernzy's eyes narrow almost imperceptibly but with a kind of
anger: he's suffered this particular humiliation before.
Bernzy's book is on Rineman's desk. It's a "dummy book" -- a
manuscript made up of stiff pieces of paper onto which
photographs, printed on good paper, have been glued, along
The book lies open to a photograph of a black man with an
agonized expression, a fire-truck behind him, his face lighted
by the unseen flames of his tenement afire.
Of course, from a technical point of
view, this is fine work, fine work.
It's simply that we don't publish
books of this type.
Listen, Mr. Rineman, please don't
hand me that -- please -- 'cause
everybody knows Rineman & Sons
publishes more photograph books than
Well, sir, we publish books of
photography. And to my mind, this is
instead a most admirable picture
book about New York. Not an inferior
genre, just different.
No. You're wrong. This is a book of
If I may explain --
I know what you mean. Still lifes,
naked women gettin' out of bath-tubs,
fruit on a plate -- it's a photo,
but let's pretend it's a painting.
We now see a row of tasteful framed photos on the wall behind
Rineman, in precisely the style Bernzy describes. They include
a woman getting out of her bath and fruit on a plate.
I know how to do that, too. I really
do. But let's face it, you publish
enough of them books already.
Everybody does. C'mon, Mr. Rineman:
show those other guys. This is the
Rineman is appalled by Bernzy's boastfulness, but hides it.
May I say you're not being fair to
the photographers we do publish --
Dick Arlen, Harold Briley, Val
I'm sure they're nice guys, but those
arty-farty shots are easy to get
compared to something like this
(he leans over, points
to the open book,
feature by feature)
-- where you got a big shiny fire
truck in front of you, and a whole
building on fire behind you, so the
light's every which way, and mean-
time, this poor son-of-a-bitch is
watching his life go up --
Really, I don't doubt the difficulties
you must've faced... You're
(hiding his distaste
But what I see here is a batch of
pictures that's too -- sensational
and too -- vulgar to justify printing
a fine book of photography, which is
an expensive thing to do.
What's vulgar, exactly? This guy? or
Since you obviously have great talent,
I'd like to suggest that you apply
it to a subject matter that --
No -- huh-nh, no.
(finally letting his
Please listen, Mr. Bernstein -- !
Don't you think I heard this advice
before? I just happen to be right
about all this, see? Don't you think
I'd rather be shooting flowers or
beautiful dames than campin' out
Maybe you should ask yourself.
Sensationalism has its allure. It's
potent. It can desensitize a man to
the beauty of flowers -- or women.
What're you, a shrink?
Hardly. But the men who do what you
do don't usually feel the need to
rationalize it like you -- much less
be celebrated for it.
Nobody does what I do.
Bernzy takes up the book as Rineman watches.
He moves to the door, seizes the knob, but pauses.
I figure your boy really did wanna
publish my book. Tell him I won't
hold this against him when I have my
big retrospective over at the modern
(his interest piqued,
You're having a show at the Museum
of Modern Art?
(a thin smile)
(his certitude restored)
If you really disdain the publishing
establishment so, why do you crave
Who the hell else is gonna publish a
He slams the door behind him.
INT. POLICE STATION - NIGHT
A door opens and a dozen flashbulbs blaze as a young HOOD,
handcuffed to a Cop, enters the room.
However, the Hood is covering his face with his unchained
hand, so nobody gets a shot. Several Photographers, Bernzy
not among them, are clustered at the door.
Give us a shot, son!
Clear the way!
C'mon, one picture!
The Hood, his face still shielded, kicks blindly in front of
him, clearing the way. He is led toward the booking post.
BERNZY, meantime, is perched on a Sergeant's desk, as the
Sergeant reads over a file. Bernzy watches the commotion
with the young Hood with interest but no urgency.
There's two guys called Portifino
with records. But nobody that age or
Not in New York, anyway.
Hm. Maybe he is Society League.
As Bernzy gets up, he gives a few cigars to the Sergeant.
I gotta go take this kid's picture.
The Sergeant scoops the cigars into his desk drawer. He looks
over at the snarling, defiant Hood.
I don't think he wants it took.
(taking up his camera)
Everybody likes to have his picture
Bernzy approaches the Hood, whose handcuffs have been removed
so that he may be fingerprinted. He still covers his face.
(to the Hood)
Can you write?
The Hood nods.
The Hood takes the pen and signs the form, still careful to
keep his face concealed.
You ever heard of The Great Bernzini?
I shot Dutch Schultz, Legs Diamond --
these guys never covered their face
I said fuck off.
I get everybody's picture, while
he's alive or after... I ain't met
the guy yet looks better after.
(after a beat)
You that freak, drives around in a
sedan all night?
I heard about you.
In your line of work, I'm the
photographer to the stars.
Yeah, yeah, I heard of you. Them
other creeps around?
Bernzy looks over to make sure the other Photographers have
They're over there, smoking.
The Hood uncovers his face. The police have worked him over.
He has a mean cut under one eye. He gives Bernzy his fiercest,
most defiant post.
Bernzy squeezes the shutter.
When the flash fires, all the other Photographers look over
But the Hood has covered his face, again.
EXT. EAST SIDE - NIGHT
In his parked car, Bernzy reads Portifino's gilt business
card under the dashboard light, then looks out at Portifino's
A high-priced building with a Moderne facade and a Doorman.
Bernzy gets out, tosses his cigar away, stows his camera in
the trunk, crosses and enters.
INT. BUILDING LOBBY - SAME
We watch from outside the glass as Bernzy speaks to the
Doorman, bribes him, is directed to the elevator.
INT. HALLWAY - SAME
Bernzy comes off the elevator, heads down the hallway to APT
7G. The door is barely ajar; a sliver of light falls through
the crack, onto the hallway carpet.
Bernzy rings the bell. No response. He rings again. Waiting
he glances downward casually --
A shimmering dark ribbon of blood seeps under the doorway.
Bernzy pushes the door open a few inches before it hits
something solid. He forces the door another few inches, and
pulls himself through the opening.
INT. PORTIFINO'S APT. - SAME
The luxury apartment has a few pieces of furniture and some
unopened boxes in it; Portifino has just moved in.
But it is Porfitino who lies dead by the door.
He is tangled in piano wire. The wire was rigged around the
still-living Portifino so that any movement caused it to dig
more deeply into him. He killed himself by dragging himself
to the door to seek help.
Bernzy goes to the telephone, dials a number.
beat. Then a voice:
Hey, Conklin, it's Bernzy.
What's up, Bernzy?
I was paying kind of a social call
on a guy called Emilio Portifino.
There is an odd silence on Conklin's end -- and then an edge
to his voice.
The guy's been murdered. I'm standin'
here in his apartment now.
(he glances at the
Professional job. I never saw anything
Alright, stay where you are.
I gotta leave for a few minutes.
Just downstairs, to get my camera.
(he looks at the corpse)
This is somethin' you don't see alot.
No. Stay put! We'll be there in five
Alright. The address is one-fifteen --
But the phone clicks off. Bernzy sets down the receiver. He
looks at the corpse.
He knew your address already.
He picks up the phone, dials another number.
Kay Levitz, please...
PHONE VOICE (O.S.)
Leon Bernstein -- Bernzy.
INT. CAFE SOCIETY - NIGHT
A Waiter plugs in a telephone by a table where Kay chats and
laughs with some Society Types. He hands her the telephone.
INT. PORTIFINO'S APT.
Bernzy looks at the corpse as he speaks on the phone.
You're not gonna have no more trouble
with Portifino in the good seats.
INT. CAFE SOCIETY
Kay is stunned as the other people at the table laugh gayly,
obliviously, around her.
He's was what?... My God.
Hearing her, one of the Men at the table looks at her. She
forces a smile.
INT. PORTIFINO'S APT.
Bernzy looks at his watch.
Anything you better tell me? Anything
I better know before the cops get
INT. CAFE SOCIETY
At the table, the Man smiles at Kay, again. She smiles back
only fleetingly, before shifting in her seat, so she can
speak more privately into the phone.
Bernzy, all I know about him is what
I told you. If you're asking what I
think you are --
I'm not askin' that...
INT. PORTIFINO'S APT.
The Mob did this guy in, it's obvious.
INT. CAFE SOCIETY
(weak, as if from a
INT. PORTIFINO'S APARTMENT
Bernzy can hear how upset she is. He wants to say something
comforting, but he wants to get his picture. He looks at
Yeah. Alright, look, I -- I'll be in
touch. I gotta go.
INT. PORTIFINO'S BLDG. - 7TH FLR HALLWAY - LATER
CONKLIN, in a suit, comes swiftly off the elevator, with two
Uniformed Cops and a Man in a gray suit and hat behind him.
INT. PORTIFINO'S APT. - SAME
Bernzy, having ignored Conklin's request, stands over the
corpse, taking a picture. He smokes a cigar.
Conklin and the others burst in. Conklin leads the man in
the suit to Bernzy as the others set to work, dusting for
(taking another picture)
(to the man in the
Mr. Chadwick, this is Leon Bernstein,
commonly known as The Great Bernzini.
Bernzy, this is Inspector Chadwick
of the Federal Bureau of
Surprised, Bernzy looks over from his viewfinder.
Pleased to meet you.
EXT. FEDERAL BLDG. (CHURCH ST.) - NIGHT
Low angle: Tires squeal as an unmarked sedan pulls up to the
Bernzy is quickly and closely escorted from the car, up the
stairs, like a star witness or a criminal in custody. He
raises his eyebrows wryly, wonders what the hell is going
INT. FBI - CHADWICK'S OFFICE - LATER
Bernzy is in front of the desk in Chadwick's clean, non-
descript office. One one side of him, a Young Agent takes
notes; on the other side of him an Older Agent (gray-haired)
says nothing, merely observes.
Chadwick stands behind his desk, in front of two steel filing
cabinets. He interrogates Bernzy in the humorless G-Man style.
What was your business with Portifino?
I told you. I was just calling on
him as a favor to a friend.
Right. What did you say your friend's
I didn't say.
Chadwick waits a beat: Bernzy offers nothing.
What're you investigating here,
anyway? I mean, what was this guy --
Did your friend have business dealings
Detective Conklin tells us you know
many members of the mob in New York.
I also know a lot of cops and wash-
room attendants. It's the only way a
photographer stays in business. I
mean a tabloid photographer, not a
Steiglitz or a Steichen.
(for his notes)
Excuse me. Steigle or -- ?
The second and third best
photographers in the country.
Nobody asks who's first.
Don't mobsters sometimes say they
won't let anybody but you take their
That's right. I'm sure you get t'know
a lot of criminals in your line of
Chadwick, impervious to humor, stares.
Was Portifino with the mob?
I dunno... Was he?
I ask the questions here... How did
he do it? How did he come to town
and set himself up so fast?
Look, you know more about this guy
than I do, that's obvious. I call
Conklin, right away you guys know
the address, now you're tellin' me
he's in business --
Chadwick brings his fists down hard onto the desk, rattling
the lamps, ashtray and desk-set.
Tell us how Portifino made his money!
I don't know anything. I see the guy
once for five seconds, next time I
see him he's dead.
(he looks around)
I have to get to work now.
Oh? You have a job?
I'm a free-lance photographer. If
I'm not on the street at midnight,
the world passes me by.
Tough way to make a living... You
were hoping to get money from
Portifino, is that right?
You intended to blackmail him.
This is a joke.
(he looks to the others)
It's a gag, right?
Mr. Bernstein, you came to this
country from Russia when you were
six years old.
(getting up, putting
on his hat)
Alright, that's it. I got my cell
meeting in half an hour.
He reaches for his exposed film plates on the desk. But
Chadwick traps his hand there.
Where you going? How d'you know you're
not a suspect in the murder of Emilio
This is the stupidest interrogation
I've ever seen. You're telling me
more than I'm telling you. Already I
know this guy got rich quick doing
something the Feds don't like. Already
I can see you're tryin' to keep it
quiet, and when you bring up Russia,
I figure it's something treasonous.
Chadwick begins to speak, but the Older Agent -- alarmed by
Bernzy's perspicacity -- takes over.
Mr. Bernstein, thanks for your
cooperation. We're sorry if we've
taken you away from your work. This
is a time of war, and we hope you'll
keep your conjectures about Mr.
Portifino to yourself. Fact is, we
know nothing about the man, and hoped
perhaps you did.
Bernzy doesn't believe the last part, but keeps it to himself.
Yeah, okay. So if I could just get
my film plates back...
We can't give them to you. Not for a
He's news tonight. I won't be able
to sell 'em in a few days.
Stop back here at Inspector Chadwick's
office in the morning. He'll give
you the proper forms to fill in.
Bernzy looks from face to face, seeing he has no choice in
EXT. FEDERAL BUILDING - NIGHT
Bernzy comes down the stairs of the F.B.I. building and begins
walking, camera in hand.
Across the street, a car starts up as Bernzy heads up the
block. It begins to follow him, keeping a discreet distance.
Bernzy turns off the avenue, onto the sidestreet. The car
makes the turn too.
As Bernzy moves along the dark sidewalk, he realizes the car
is following him. He picks up his pace, but the car follows
suit. Almost reflexively he begins to load a film plate into
his camera, but the car accelerates, and overtakes him on
the sidewalk. Two MEN get out -- thick-featured and thuggish --
while a third Man stays behind the wheel.
The Men close in around Bernzy. Each takes one of his arms.
The camera falls to the ground; the lens shatters. They drag
Bernzy gruffly into the car.
You boys work for Farinelli, right?
(recognizing one of
It's Tonio, right?
Bernzy's attempt at affability is futile: grimly serious,
they push him into the car.
(as he's stuffed into
At least pick up the damn camera!
EXT. STREET - NIGHT
The same car pulls up and parks.
As one of the Thugs pulls Bernzy out, Bernzy reaches back to
pick up his smashed camera.
INT. FARINELLI'S OFFICE - NIGHT
The panelled office might belong to a well-off insurance
agent with a weakness for ugly nick-nacks.
Farinelli rises to his feet as Bernzy is pushed into the
room. He is an overweight, mid-level capo of 55. Two of his
lieutenants are sitting on a couch.
(to his goons)
What're you pushin' him around for?
We know this guy.
(he shakes his head)
Have a seat, Bernzy. Want a drink?
You got coffee?
He gestures to one of the Hoods to fetch coffee.
You know Mikey and Sal?
The two lieutenants nod from the couch. SAL is lean, with a
particularly arresting face (we will see him again).
Bernzy, you found the body of this
punk Portifino, right?
So what d'you know about him?
'Nothin.' Then why'd you call the
I found the body. Not the first I
ever found. I called the cops, like
I always do. They called the F.B.I.
Annoyed, Farinelli turns to his lieutenants, speaks in
Italian. After a brief tirade, he turns back to Bernzy.
Okay, so you didn't call the Feds,
we was misinformed by a police stooge.
I'd still like to know how you knew
I didn't. Not really.
The Hood returns with coffee from someplace outside. But
Farinelli, annoyed by now, directs him to put it on a side
table (instead of giving it to Bernzy).
You didn't, not really... Then what
were you doin' in his apartment, if
I may ask?
Bernzy studies Farinelli a beat before answering. He can see
how agitated Farinelli is about all of this.
I met him the other night. At Cafe
Society. He said he needed somebody
to take his picture. He offered good
You don't do commissions. I offered
you plenty when my sister's boy took
communion two years ago.
Close on Bernzy, caught in a lie.
That's right, I don't. Do commissions.
But I got a nose for news. Talkin'
to this kid, it smelled like there
might be somethin' in it.
Oh! So that's all there is to it?
Bernzy nods; he watches as Farinelli moves next to his seat,
looms over him, smiling. But his face turns fierce as
Farinelli kicks the chair out from under Bernzy, who flops
onto his back and hits his head on the tiles.
Bernzy lies on the floor, more stunned and humiliated than
hurt, and looks up at the half-circle formed around him by
Farinelli and his thugs.
Bernzy stares up at Farinelli. He raises his right hand to
After a long beat, Farinelli extends his hand, to help him
Okay, Bernzy. As it is, I gotta trust
you. You never crossed nobody, got
no interest in dough, do nothin' but
take pictures, noon and night.
He circles his arm around Bernzy, and walks him to the door.
What is it with you, anyway? Dope
fiends live better than you do. You're
a fuckin' freak, you know that?
Yeah, well, like the guy who shoveled
the elephant shit said to the circus
owner, 'What? And give up Show
Farinelli laughs but grips Bernzy a little too tightly.
Don't go around talkin' about this
dead little fuck, awright?
We begin to hear lively music play, anticipating the
EXT. CAFE SOCIETY - NIGHT
The usual crowd is gathered by the ropes. The other
Photographers watch sullenly as the rope is raised for Bernzy.
INT. CAFE SOCIETY - SAME
Bernzy is looking upward, toward the windowed office as he
crosses the club. He is therefore taken unawares when a Man
at a good table catches him by the sleeve --
Surprised they let you in here,
Bernstein. I'll complain to the
Bernzy sees ARTHUR NABLER, a likable man, 57-years-old,
overweight, seemingly unaccustomed to the dinner clothes
he's wearing. At the moment, he's drunk.
A Woman is with him at the table, much younger than he is,
attractive in flashy way.
Siddown, c'mon, sit!
Bernzy glances up at the office again --
Half a minute.
Don't be a pill! How else you ever
gonna sit right here... 'Hack makes
good,' eh Bernzy? Meet Vera Hixon.
Vera, this guy's the best shutterbug
in New York.
You seen my show?
It's on my calendar. 'Brooklyn
Rhapsody,' Winter Garden Theatre.
But I work nights.
It's a beautiful show.
She squeezes Nabler's arm in her hands and rubs her cheek
against his shoulder.
I know what you think: why should I
go see a bunch of Arty's old columns
dramatized when I already read 'em.
Nabler drains his Scotch.
Untrue... I never read 'em.
But Nabler's mood is turning sour as his high winds down. He
can't seem to find a Waiter to bring him a new Scotch.
(getting no response)
I'm dyin' here... I'm 57 years old.
You think she'd've looked at me six
Best shutterbug in New York. You
know what that means? It means his
pictures are catching birdshit at
the bottom of the cage six hours
after the papers come out. Just like
my columns used to do.
Nabler tries to attract the Waiter, again, but seeing what's
happening, Vera tries to ease the glass out of his hand.
Arty -- ?
He pulls the glass away from her.
At least if you write books or paint
pictures they say, Alright, he had
no money, no life, not even a steady
girl, but look what he painted, look
what he wrote. (he answers his own
question) She wouldn't of pissed on
me, six months ago.
Excuse me --
(half rising, politely)
(to Nabler, when she's
Arthur, I think you better apologize
to the lady.
Bernzy gets up, but Nabler grabs his hand.
You're giving me advice about my
Eager to escape, Bernzy tries to wrest his hand away. But
Nabler clings to it: he's as deadly earnest as a dying man.
Listen to me, Bernzy, listen to one
who knows: Nobody could love you. No
woman could ever love a shabby little
guy who sleeps in his clothes and
eats outta cans and cozies up to
corpses so much he starts to stink
Bernzy, sucker-punched, attempts to remove his hand.
Arty, you better get a refund from
that charm school --
(he won't relinquish
And for what? Drunks and stiffs --
Y'mind? -- I got a bird in the oven --
Bernzy pulls his hand away, but Nabler is not in control,
blubbering and shouting, melancholy and drunk.
-- thugs and bums and whores and
He draws attention: it sounds like he's shouting epithets.
We move with Bernzy, who is stoical and swift, past the
glittering crowd. Nabler is blubbering and shouting under
the music but Bernzy isn't hearing him.
We see what he sees, but this time it's in color -- it's
Men and women laughing, drinking champagne, eating steaks,
hands held across tables, words whispered into lovers' ears,
the music smooth and gay. The music rises.
INT. KAY'S OFFICE - LATER
It's suddenly quiet. The band is on its break.
Bernzy staring out the window, sees into the club where Nabler
is trying to get Vera to sit down with him again, but she
pulls away, stalks out.
You should know I got worried. I
called the police -- two hours ago.
He looks at her -- annoyed.
What'd y'do that for?
Obviously, she meant well. He softens.
Look, I -- I don't do favors f'r
people, I can't. Y'see what happens?
I walk in here with an invitation,
you give me a drink, it's beautiful
up here, I'm feelin' good about myself --
next thing I know I'm rollin' around
on some gangster's floor.
They look at each other.
She goes to get a cigarette by the desk. He looks down into
the club, sees Nabler, then asks --
Why'd you ask me up here in the first
...Lou trusted you, Bernzy. I told
you, he --
C'mon. Lou thought I was just like
the flies outside, buzzin' around to
get Rita Hayworth's picture --
It's not true.
-- A little parasite, preyin' on
people's misery. You're not the only
one knows what people say about you...
It doesn't matter what they say about
you, Bernzy. Not unless you believe
He looks at her. Her words seem to get to him, or maybe just
He looks away, down into the club again. He watches NABLER,
as struggles to his feet, throws money on the table, and
It's not over because Portifino's
dead. Somebody else is gonna come in
and tell you he's Lou's partner.
By the desk, holding a cigarette, she speaks quietly.
She takes a seat on the desk, as if for support.
I think Lou was involved in somethin'
She nods, determined to be strong, determined not to be
emotional, although she knows she's in trouble.
He looks back into the window.
I could prob'ly find out what it is.
I could do that.
He sees her reflection in the window. She stares off
somewhere, trying not to cry.
You don't have to.
Bernzy is staring at her reflection. He sees himself, too:
the ill-fitting suit, the ludicrous pockets.
EXT. EASTSIDE DRIVE - NIGHT
In black and white, we see a stretch of walkway by the East
River, thick with couples who stroll and kiss.
Bernzy drives by slowly, watches keenly, afflicted by the
strong feelings Kay has stirred up in him.
EXT. FEDERAL BLDG. - CHURCH STREET - DAWN
The building to which Bernzy was brought for interrogation.
INT. FEDERAL BLDG. - LOBBY - SAME
In the overscaled marble lobby, Bernzy pleads his case to a
He's gone? He promised he'd give me
back my plates this morning.
Then why don't you come back when it
really is morning?
It's morning at the Daily Mirror.
It's morning at the Post. I gotta
make a living, just like you.
Sit over there while I phone somebody.
The Watchman gestures to a marble bench by the elevator
He himself goes to the marble reception desk, to make the
As the guard dials, Bernzy walks straight past the bench,
into the elevator. The doors close behind him.
INT. 4TH FLOOR HALLWAY (FBI) - SAME
Bernzy comes off the elevator, onto a long hall with offices
on either side. Some doors are open; we can hear the vacuum
cleaner of a janitor.
Bernzy comes quickly down to the hallway, to the office at
the head of it -- Chadwick's. A pail and mop stand outside,
but when Bernzy peeks into the open door, the office is empty.
INT. CHADWICK'S OFFICE
Bernzy hurries behind the desk, to a steel filing cabinet,
one of two. It is locked. He studies the lock. His only light
comes from the hallway, through the frosted glass. He jiggles
the lock. It won't budge. He searches for the key in the
desk drawers. Can't find it.
He looks at the other filing cabinet. It has no lock, but is
marked "UNCLASSIFIED MATERIAL." This seems less than promising
but Bernzy unrolls the top drawer, anyway.
He takes out his cigarette lighter, strikes the flame. It
throws a wavering flame over the file tabs. He finds the one
he WANTS: "PORTIFINO, EMILIO."
INT. FEDERAL BUILDING - LOBBY - SAME
Chadwick charges in.
Where is he?
The Watchman, who by now has two other Uniformed Guards with
him, points to the clock-style indicator on one of the
elevators: 4TH FLOOR.
They all get into the available elevator.
INT. CHADWICK'S OFFICE
Bernzy opens the file. We read it with him. The pages are
attached to a manila folder from the top, like a medical
ALL FILES EXPUNGED, TRANSFERRED TO WASHINGTON, D.C. 6/3/42.
In frustration, he turns the page, to see if there's more.
There is a second page, on which all the print is blacked
out. A third page is likewise obliterated.
INT. 4TH FLOOR HALLWAY
Chadwick and the three Guards come hurriedly off the elevator.
INT. CHADWICK'S OFFICE
As the footsteps of Chadwick et. al. echo down the hallway,
Bernzy pages past several more blacked-out pages, before
coming to the last page, on which a single sentence remains:
SEE ALSO "CL(assified) FILE #42784 -- "BLACK GAS"
The waving lighter flame excites a sense of evil as we come
close to these sinister sounding words -- "BLACK GAS."
Bernzy knits his brow -- but has no time to wonder: the
silhouettes of Chadwick et. al. are on the frosted glass.
As he digs into the file cabinet to re-insert the goods, we
watch the silhouettes growing nearer and nearer on the glass.
Bernzy rolls shut the drawer just as the door swings open,
plops himself into Chadwick's chair, puts his feet on the
desk (a more insolent, but less incriminating pose).
What is this?
I'm not leaving till I get back my
Chadwick looks at Bernzy suspiciously. He plunges his hand
into his pants pocket, extracts a ring of keys, moves swiftly
to the locked file cabinet, opens it.
He pulls out Bernzy's plates (in a pouch), spreads them on
the desk, counts them. Then he puts them back in the pouch,
back in the file, and locks it.
He turns back to Bernzy, seething.
Should I call the cops, Inspector?
Chadwick is thinking about it.
INT. PARKING GARAGE - DAWN
OPEN CLOSE on a poster which shows G.I. Joe -- his weary
face smudged black with battle. The enemy advances from a
distant hill. Joe stands beside his jeep with a gas can --
but only a last drop of fuel is left.
"DO YOUR PART! SAVE A GALLON FOR G.I. JOE!" proclaims the
poster's bold slogan. Then, in lesser letters: "Rationing
Saves American Lives."
Bernzy stands in his underground parking garage, studying
the poster, his brow knitted.
By the concrete wall beyond the pumps, a teenage grease-monkey
reads a "Shadow" pulp on a folding chair.
You got any Black Gas, Freddy?
What kinda gas?
Black -- I dunno -- black market
Only gas we got here is Texaco.
(he sees it's futile)
There's somebody was lookin' for
you, Mr. Bernstein.
INT. STAIRWELL - BERNZY'S APT. - SAME
As Bernzy comes up the stairs he sees a man in a tweed sports-
coat with leather arm patches hunched against his front door,
reading the New York Times. He looks up from his paper when
he hears Bernzy, comes to his feet, smiles pleasantly.
What're you doin' up at this hour?
Like I don't know the answer.
Bernzy is unlocking his door. AARON is his younger brother.
INT. BERNZY'S APT - SAME
Aaron is unfazed by the disarray of the apartment.
I'm not comin' with you. Coffee?
Aaron has the same New York accent as his brother but uses
the grammar of an educated man.
It's inconceivable to you I just
came over for a little visit?
Aaron examines the photographs on Bernzy's desk as Bernzy
fixes coffee in the bathroom: he pours coffee grinds into a
Yeah it is.
(he joins Bernzy)
Just come sit with him for half an
Bernzy imitates the voice of an aged, immigrant Jew from the
Lower East Side, via Russia, i.e., his father.
'Such a vaste, Leon. Vit' your
beckground, it's a tregedy. Your
bruther Aaron's a learned men, a
professor, vit' a beautiful vife --
end you? you drife eround in a car
all the night teking pornogrephic
pictures, eating in drugstores all
alone. Breaks my heart, Leon, it
breaks en old men's heart.'
He goes back to the coffee, uselessly stirring the grounds.
I don't know what to say. I spend my
life defending you. But when it comes
down to it, I don't know what the
hell you're doing down here --
See for yourself; it's no big secret.
Believe me, you look around this
place it leaves you with a few
What's that s'posed to mean?
Forget it... He's a professional
immigrant. He's the ultimate outsider.
But he's an amateur, compared to
Yeah? I wonder if you'd say that if
you'd seen me at Cafe Society last
night. I mean inside.
Bernzy strains the coffee, and pours it.
Yeah? So who invited you? Lou Levitz?
He's dead, Professor... How would
you know him, anyway. I thought guys
like you didn't read the tabloids.
He moves into the main room. Aaron follows.
I read the tabloids, Leon. I take an
interest in my brother. I'm glad
you're an insider now. What's that
got to do with Pa, rotting on his
ass down on Delancey Street?
Other people're startin' to take an
interest in me, too, alright? When
the time comes, when I get my book
published, I'll go see Pa.
D'you really think your own father's
opinion of you needs to be validated
by a publishing house?
No less than anybody else's.
They look at each other, as Bernzy hands him a mug of coffee.
INT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - DAY
The shades are drawn against the daylight. The police radio
hisses at low volume. We find Bernzy, slumped asleep in his
clothes, in a chair. On the armrest is one of his cigar box
files marked "Prizefights." Around Bernzy there is a litter
of photos of Kay with her husband, ringside.
Bernzy holds a picture of Kay in his hand. He fell asleep
The telephone rings, shrilly. Bernzy answers it, groggily.
Oh yeah? Right.
He hangs up the phone. He looks at the picture in his hands --
then at the squalor around him -- then at Kay, again.
EXT. HAYWARD'S CAR/HIGHWAY - DAY
Bernzy rides in the passenger seat of Hayward's sportster on
the Palisades Parkway. Hayward drinks from his flask.
The D.A.'s in court till five.
We'll be finished by three.
EXT. GREENPORT, NEW JERSEY POLICE STATION - DAY
Bernzy and Hayward climb the steps of the almost rustic police
station. Bernzy has his camera.
How you gonna do this?
Don't worry about it. Everybody likes
to have his picture took.
INT. GREENPORT POLICE STATION - SAME
Bernzy is talking to the earnest, red-haired SERGEANT POINTER.
Hayward stands in the background, watching.
We had a whole crowd of boys in from
New York last week. Nobody gets to
see those kids.
I don't see how the kids matter,
Sgt. Pointer. Do you?
What're you talkin' about?
I don't see that it takes a whole
lot of courage to hit an old lady
with an ax.
It's sick, is what it is.
That's what I'm sayin'. It's sick.
But to walk into a house with some
sick kid runnin' around with an ax --
What're you gettin' at?
We'd like to meet that man arrested
That'd be me.
It was you? Then it's your picture I
wanna take. My colleague, Mr. Hayward,
would like to take down your words.
What it was like. You've prob'ly
seen our series in the Saturday
Evening Post. 'Brave me in blue'?
Yeah. Oh yeah.
INT. SERGEANTS' OFFICE - LATER
In an office with three desks, Bernzy has just taken a picture
of Pointer in uniform. He is lining up another one. Pointer
smiles -- pleased by the attention -- and swells his chest.
Suddenly Bernzy breaks off in seeming exasperation.
No. No, this upsets me. This really
What's wrong? I do somethin' wrong?
You? No. You should be on the $50
bill. It's just not gonna work.
Bernzy smiles sadly, starts to pack up his camera; Pointer
Mr. Bernzini, I think you owe me an
...Who said no pictures of those
kids? It was the D.A., right?
All of us agreed.
But it was the D.A. said it first.
Pointer doesn't deny it.
You see what I'm saying? You ever
caught a fish on vacation?
You get a pictue of yourself after
you caught him?
With the fish, or without him.
No pictures of those kids. That's
And I'll tell you why, Sgt. Pointer.
There'll be plenty of pictures of
those kids when the D.A. gets his
conviction. You caught the fish only
he's in the picture.
(turning to Hayward)
Pointer watches as they go out the door.
INT. GREENPORT STATION - LATER
Pointer stands alongside the two 17-year-old prisoners. The
girl is a pretty redhead; her Boyfriend a good-looking
athlete. All three are posing: the Girl pouts like a starlet;
the Boy sneers; Pointer is corn-ball stern.
This is beautiful. Just like I
IN Bernzy's viewfinder: Pointer is not in the shot. As the
shutter clicks, we
EXT. HAYWARD'S CAR/ROAD - DAY
They ride back to New York.
He wasn't even in the shot?
They'd just crop him, anyway. I got
one of him, too. I'll send it to his
mother. 'Case I ever gotta drive
Chuckling, Hayward sees a roadside filling station.
I gotta stop in here.
EXT. HAYWARD'S CAR/FILLING STATION - LATER
An Attendant is filling the tank.
Hayward takes a large sheet of gas rationing coupons from
Bernzy's eyes narrow. He knows the coupons are significant,
but plays it cool.
How'd you get so many stamps?
Guy at my garage sold me some extra.
As Hayward pays the Station Attendant, Bernzy takes the
stamps, examines them.
Extra? Where's he get extra?
(drinking from his
I don't look a gift horse in the
Bernzy continues to study the stamps as Hayward starts the
car, moves toward the highway.
What's so interesting about those
As Hayward pulls out onto the highway, we hear a car horn
scream as we
SHOCK CUT TO:
EXT. LOWER WEST SIDE - NIGHT
The horn comes not from an oncoming car, but from a parked
one: the head of a Man murdered while driving is pressed up
against the steering wheel, causing the horn to blow
ceaselessly. The front end of the car is wrapped around a
O'Brien, the cop we saw in the first scene leans into the
car (parked in a deserted quarter, near the docks) and guides
the dead man's head back onto the seat (his hat falls off).
The horn stops.
Beside O'Brien stands his partner, the Young Cop. There are
bullet holes piercing the driver's door. The windshield is
O'Brien swings around when he hears someone coming up behind
It's Bernzy. He takes up his camera to get a wide shot --
the car in all it's devastation.
His hat fell off.
Could you put it back on, please?
People really like to see a dead
O'Brien replaces the hat, begrudgingly, again.
Maybe I should pull his dick out.
Maybe they'd like to see a dead guy's
The News'd prob'ly buy it.
(he squeezes the
I might have some trouble over at
(of the corpse)
Who'd he work for, Bernzy?
Spoleto and Farinelli. Spoleto and
Farinelli, all month long. Like rabid
dogs fightin' over some stinkin'
Bernzy says nothing, keeps his eye to the viewfinder.
EXT. RIVERSIDE DRIVE - EARLY MORNING
Bernzy is sitting on the stoop of a magnificent Beaux-Arts
townhouse. He consults his watch.
A long black sedan pulls up to the cub, on the opposite side
of the street.
Kay gets out, followed by a middle-aged Italian Man in a
suit and hat.
Bernzy sits up, watches keenly as they talk, with evident
Now the Man catches sight of Bernzy, takes Kay's arm rather
gruffly, and walks her across the street to him.
Bernzy, I want you to tell Kay who I
Kay Levitz, Marc-Antony Spoleto.
Spoleto's Lieutenant gets out of the car, stands in the
No -- you to tell her who I am.
Mr. Spoleto has the East Side of
Manhattan all to himself.
Lucky for us we're on the West Side.
That's no way to talk to your new
You tell her, Bernzy.
He walks off. He joins his Lieutenant, who walks him back to
Bernzy gonna set her straight?
If he's thinkin' straight.
(as they climb into
Why wouldn't he be?
Look at him, over there: it's like
that movie with the Hunchback and
Bernzy, in his rumpled clothes, stands with Kay, in her
(he signals the Driver)
They pull out.
INT. KAY'S TOWNHOUSE - KITCHEN - LATER (MORNING)
Bernzy and Kay sit at the kitchen table. A black Maid is at
the other end of the enormous room, working; Bernzy speaks
If somebody could get his hands on
the gas coupons, if somebody could
control 'em, there'd be a lot of
money in it. Like if this was
Prohibition, and there was only one
source of liquor.
Lou wouldn't of done that. He has
two nephews in the service.
I'm talking about lot of money.
He wouldn't do that.
He did it!... If there's one thing I
know it's that most people ain't
human when there's enough money
involved... I got pictures of guys
killed over 50 cents. For somebody,
that was enough.
She doesn't argue this time.
So that's it? Lou got himself involved
with these hoods and now I'm stuck
with them for partners.
They don't have partners. You'd be
He gets up. He moves as he talks.
This thing -- this Black Gas -- it's
big: the Feds are up in arms, there's
corpses poppin' up all over town,
who knows who's involved: the Mob,
definitely; the Feds, probably, maybe
the cops... What's bigger than the
War? What's uglier than somebody
stealing from the fighting boys to
feather his nest? If I can get just
one incriminating photo there's a
front-page uproar, not just tabloids:
they're exposed, humiliated, indicted.
And I get to keep the club.
Bernzy nods. She thinks, and then she looks straight at him.
Why're you doing this?
He looks at her, unwilling or unable to answer.
The Maid brings them coffee. When she's gone, Bernzy sits
across from Kay again.
I need to know what Spoleto said to
you. Don't leave out nothing.
He had two men with him, an accountant
and somebody rough, to intimidate
me. He said he wanted to see the
books, and when I refused he said
"You'd better ask your boyfriend
Yeah... He meant you.
Bernzy nods. He tries to be matter-of-fact about it.
He knew you'd been there, up in my
office -- he seemed to know a lot.
He's got at least one waiter on the
payroll by now.
I guess so. Whichever one heard
Portifino ask you to take his
He said Portifino offered you cash.
Portifino never offered me -- I never
even talked to Portifino.
Bernzy gets up; he starts pacing.
I'm just telling you what he said.
That was something I made up when
Farinelli asked me how I knew
Portifino... Christ Almighty.
He is agitated -- knows he onto something.
I don't get it.
There was just four or five of us in
that room -- Farinelli, two of his
lieutenants, two of his hoods.
I'm sorry, I -- ?
One of Farinelli's men is selling
information to Spoleto. How else
could he know that? I made it up on
What're you gonna do?
INT. CAMERA SHOP - DAY
The clerk rings up a sale for Bernzy in a shop crammed with
film, cameras, lenses...
Bernzy pays the Clerk as he drops a few boxes of film marked
INFRA-RED into a paper sack.
You gonna get some more shots in a
Someplace even darker, I think. Will
I don't know. Can't say, really.
The Clerk staples the bag.
INT/EXT. BERNZY'S CAR/SUBURBAN STREET - NIGHT
The bag of film from the camera store lies on the seat, torn
open. Bernzy is already gone from the car.
EXT. SUBURBAN STREET
Bernzy walks in shadow, on a self-important Long Island street
of mock-Tudor houses and stone villas behind low walls.
Bernzy climbs a six-foot wall, legs waving maladroitly. At
the top, he peers over, manges to pull himself flat onto the
wall, then swiftly drops down into
where he almost breaks his neck: the property drops off
steeply inside the wall, where a storm drain is covered in
old ivy. Bernzy squats among the shrubs which are set two
feet inside the wall. He looks:
The stone house is guarded by a few men in suits.
In the bushes, Bernzy extracts a camera from one of his pants
pockets and a long lens from the other. He begins to screw
the lens onto the camera body, but freezes when he hears a
Guard's footsteps crunching on the gravel.
Bernzy's POV: the Guard swings a flashlight back and forth
over the path, onto the shrubs, up along the wall.
When the Guard has passed, Bernzy screws on the lens. He
aims the camera at the house.
VIEWFINDER POV: The silhouettes of two men are visible behind
curtains in a front room, but the laughter of many men can
be heard. Panning, we see the stone arched entranceway to
A Guard sits on a stone bench on the front porch. He sits
beneath a tile plaque that says VILLA SPOLETO, illuminated
by a tiny bulb. This is the only illumination on the porch;
the rest of it is in near-darkness.
The front door opens, the Guard stands. It's too dark to see
the faces of the two men who exit, but Bernzy takes a shot
anyway -- "blind." The Men then veer camera left to the
driveway, crossing an area of total darkness.
He looks at his watch: 11:28.
EXT. GARDEN - LATER
Bernzy consults his watch, again. 2:12. He hears noises from
the house, seizes the camera.
VIEWFINDER POV: The door opens. This time, several men exit,
alone or in groups of two or three: the meeting is breaking
up. Bernzy can see no faces, shoots blind.
They all veer off into the darkness of the driveway.
He clicks the camera, advances the film -- click, click,
ON THE PATH
two Guards on their rounds hear the soft clicking in the
shrubs. They move nearer, carefully. The 1st Guard takes the
gun from his holster, cocks it.
IN THE BUSH
Bernzy hears their footfalls, freezes.
ON THE PATH
the Guards hear a soft rustling in the bush. The 1st Guard
takes the gun from his shoulder holster. The two Guards
advance slowly, shining their lights.
The 2nd Guard moves to the bush where Bernzy is hiding while
his partner covers him, gun cocked and aimed. In a swift,
decisive move, he parts leaves and branches of the bush,
exposing the ground behind it. REVERSE:
Bernzy is not to be seen.
The 2nd Guard shines his beam into the bush, then up along
Shooting low from the other side of the bushes, we see the
dirty, ivy-covered storm drain cut into the drop-off at the
edge of the property. Only Bernzy's white-knuckled hands can
be seen as he holds on from inside the drain.
The 2nd Guard drops to his knees, shines his light along the
base of the wall, under the bushes: he is right over Bernzy.
We see into the drain, where Bernzy is having a hard time
holding on. The Guard is painstakingly thorough in his
examination of the area behind the bushes. After an eternity:
Must be them squirrels.
He releases the bush and he gets up.
INT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - LATER
Bernzy works feverishly in his darkroom. He coaxes a print
to life by agitating a tub. In fact, he has two tubs, and he
moves from one to the next in his zeal to see the pictures.
We see into one of the tubs:
The lighter parts of the picture have appeared -- the stone
bench, the plaque which says VILLA SPOLETO... Now slowly the
faces of two men come into view, i.e., what was invisible to
the naked eye is visible to the infra-red.
Bernzy grasps the print with tweezers, hangs it onto the
INT. DARKROOM - LATER
Now the drying line is filled with shots of men leaving
Bernzy is still over the chemical tub; he hasn't found the
face he seeks.
C'mon -- come on!
Now a face comes slowly into view, on the dark part of the
porch. It is SAL, the lean-faced lieutenant who was sitting
on the couch in Farinelli's office when Farinelli grilled
Bernzy. He is on Spoleto's arm in the picture.
Sal, you beautiful jerk.
He lifts the photo out of the tub, triumphantly. But then
his eye catches sight of the photo now coming to life in the
A Man in a conservative blue suit -- a WASPY gray eminence --
is coming out of Spoleto's front door.
INT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - LATER (MORNING)
Bernzy, at his desk, takes up a finished print of Sal. He
puts it in an envelope. He writes on it in grease-pencil:
INT. CAFE SOCIETY - NIGHT
CLOSE ON the palm of the Italian Maitre d' as a Man slips a
bill into it.
The MAN, in a dinner jacket, has a stern but florid face;
his Wife has a supercilious bearing. As they move:
Table No. 7, Fredo.
I'm afraid Mrs. Levitz is at No. 7
this evening, Mr. Brown.
The Man looks across the room as they move. He sees Kay
sitting across from Bernzy; they speak intently.
(not concealing his
Who's the gentleman?
I believe he's a poet who recently
escaped Mr. Hitler.
That's still no excuse, is it.
No, sir... Exactly.
He pulls out a chair for the Wife with an old-world flourish.
ON BERNZY and KAY. Bernzy slides the envelope marked Farinelli
across the table cloth.
This is an incriminating picture of
the informer, Sal Minetto.
Kay takes the envelope. They sit in a banquette, the music
playing across the room.
You got a safe or something? At home?
If I wind up dead, you give the
picture to Frank Farinelli; but I'm
giving you the picture, which
guarantees I ain't gonna wind up
She slides the letter into a beaded pocketbook, lying on the
table, next to an open bottle of expensive Scotch.
Bernzy looks around him -- the beautiful nightclub, its well-
dressed patrons, the polished musicians.
My father's been in this country 27
years, it's like he never left Russia.
Sittin' here, I know just what he
must feel like.
Means you need another drink.
(she pours him one)
That's how they all get the impression
That's all it takes, huh?
She nods. They drink. A beat.
It's startin' to work.
She smiles. The music plays, something lush and evocative.
For a long, exquisite moment he really does believe he
But then a dapper Man in dinner clothes leans over Kay, drapes
his arm over her.
Henry, how are you?
(she comes to her
Please meet my friend Leon Bernstein.
Bernzy, this is Henry Haddock, Jr.
(turning instantly to
I've half the M.G.M. brass over there,
dying to meet you.
She turns back to Bernzy.
She scoops up the bag with the letter, nods soberly to Bernzy
(i.E., she let's him know she won't let go of it) and walks
off with Haddock, who circles his arm around her. He whispers
in her ear and she laughs musically.
We hold on Bernzy, alone at the table, watching Kay -- ever-
charming, ever-beautiful, meeting half a dozen men in dinner
jackets. Bernzy is suffering.
He gets up abruptly, heads for the door.
We hold for a moment on the glittering club, as the music
swells and people laugh, and then abruptly we
EXT. QUEENS APARTMENT HOUSE - NIGHT
Bernzy stands in a dreary silent street in Queens. The club
could be a million miles away.
He holds a page from the phone book. A name, address and
phone number are underlined -- those of SALVATORE MINETTO.
INT. APARTMENT HOUSE HALLWAY - SAME
A Woman holds the door partly ajar to speak to Bernzy.
Hold on. I'll get him.
Bernzy waits. We can hear a comedy program on somebody's
radio echoing down the hall. Now Sal comes to the door, in
I'm Bernzy. The photographer --
I know who you are.
I'd like to come in.
It has t'd do with Mr. Farinelli.
And Mr. Spoleto.
Sal opens the door. Bernzy enters.
He follows Sal through a foyer, into a salon, with high dark
furniture and worn doilies.
Sal's wife, listening to "Amos 'n' Andy" on the radio, watches
Sal closes the door behind them, hooks the latch. Bernzy,
meantime, takes an envelope marked "SAL" from his pocket.
You got your nerve comin' here, little
Bernzy gives the envelope to Sal.
Sal stares at Bernzy angrily for a beat. He takes up a steak
knife from the counter, lets it rest ominously in his palm.
But then he uses to knife to slice open the envelope.
Seeing the picture of himself with Spoleto, he merely stares.
There's three others just like it,
in sealed envelopes marked
'Farinelli.' I gave 'em to people I
trust. Anything happens to me, they
get sent to Farinelli.
Sal continues to stare at the photo.
I don't have no money.
I don't want any.
INT. KITCHEN - LATER
Bernzy paces, listening keenly.
Sal sits at the plain wood table, with a bottle of beer,
running through the story quickly, in the present tense.
Portifino's just a stupid punk in
D.C. but he's fronting for somebody
willing to sell him the stamps from
inside the A.P.O.
Office of Price Administration.
Yeah, right. But then he can't figure
how to unload 'em. Knows nobody. The
heads of the Five Families won't
touch 'em on account of their gettin'
amnesty from the Feds to work with
the Italian mobs against Mussolini.
Then he hears Lou Levitz on some
radio show: Friend to the Stars, one-
time bootlegger, Mr. New York... He
figures maybe an old-timer like Levitz
knows how to unload hot coupons.
Levitz is interested, alright: he's
got a hot young wife to support --
Bernzy looks up keenly --
and he sees there's maybe millions
in it. He don't have to lift a finger:
he just turns the stamps over to
Spoleto for a fat percentage. Would
you siddown, please?!
(he doesn't siddown)
Levitz' wife knew about it?
I didn't say that.
How should I know.
Then Levitz dies.
I guess the old Jew was makin' so
much he figured he was in Heaven
Bernzy stops pacing; Sal realizes his "gaffe," which seems
Whoops... Anyway, Portifino's such a
half-wit he figures with the middle-
man dead he's free to sell the stamps
to somebody else. By this time, he's
met Farinelli, so he goes to him.
Never mentions Spoleto. The asshole.
He signed his death warrant. End of
He throws up his hands with finality, gets out of the chair.
Wait a second. Didn't they lose the
source? The inside man?
They tortured him first, got the
name of the source.
Who's they? Who killed him?
Who knows. Everybody was after this
Who killed him?
Bernzy paces, cogitates.
So Farinelli gets the name and kills
him. Which means Spoleto doesn't
know the name till you tell him.
Sal goes to the ice-box. He blinks nervously.
Yeah, I guess so.
Gee, Sal: isn't Farinelli gonna be
upset about that?
(getting a bottle
opener from the drawer)
Bernzy reaches into his pocket, takes another print of Sal,
tosses it into the drawer.
'Who knows'? You're not stupid. What's
Spoleto gonna do to protect you?
Sal snatches the picture from the drawer, stuffs it in his
Bernzy takes out another print, wedges it between the salt
and pepper shakers.
What's Spoleto gonna do?
(snatching up the
Would you stop?! I told you what I
Bernzy drops a print to the floor.
Sal is about to retrieve it, but sees it's futile. Bernzy is
already holding another print.
Is Spoleto gonna assassinate
Farinelli? Is that it?
No. It's worse. Much worse.
Tell me, Sal.
Sal sinks back into the kitchen chair, drops his face into
Bernzy flips another print; it flutters to the floor, lands
at Sal's feet, where he stares down, head in hands.
Sal mutters two words into his hands. We don't hear them,
But Bernzy seems to hear them. His face grows keen.
Sal looks up angrily, filled with self-disgust.
A massacre, you son of a bitch, a
massacre! Spoleto's gonna wipe out
Farinelli's whole gang -- all my
paesan -- and I'm gonna tell him
where and when.
Bernzy stares at Sal with astonishment as he slowly takes a
seat across from him. He is silent. This is more than he
bargained for. Eventually he speaks, quietly.
I need to know where and when too,
Sal. You're gonna tell me where and
when too, okay?
Whaddo you wanna know for? If you're
thinkin of goin' to the Feds, they
just wanna cover this up.
Bernzy is thinking. Sal shouts.
Whadda you wanna know for?!
Bernzy looks up. A beat. Then:
I wanna take some pictures.
INT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
Bernzy is hunched over his portable typewriter, pecking away.
He pulls the page out of the matchine -- a single-spaced
letter -- and reads it, mumbling and pacing.
He sits back at the desk, signs the letter, takes up an
envelope (beneath which Kay's photo still lies on the desk),
puts the letter inside, and seals it. On the envelope he
writes: MR. ARTHUR NABLER, BEEKMAN APARTMENTS, then TO BE
OPENED IN THE --
At which point the telephone rings.
Awright, don't move: I'm coming.
INT. KAY'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Kay, in a bathrobe, visibly shaken, opens the door, and Bernzy
comes in. He takes her by the arms.
What happened? What'd he do?
He backs her deeper into the foyer, back toward the imposing
He was here with three men... thugs...
and he kept asking --
He eases her onto the stairs, where they sit --
-- "Who's the source, Kay? Who's the
Did he hit you?
(she shakes her head)
He says that comes next time.
It's bullshit. He knows the name.
Sal told him. He just wants to know
if you know. You're trouble if you
know... You don't know, right?
No! I didn't even know what he was
I know, I know, I didn't mean that...
Lou had no right t'do this thing to
you. He didn't deserve you. He didn't
know what he had -- he didn't --
Bernzy draws up short when he realizes what he's saying,
what boundary he's crossed. A beat. He clear his throat.
He digs in his pocket and takes out the picture of the gray
eminence on Spoleto's porch.
Know this guy?
Thatcher White. He comes to the club.
He's a big lawyer in Washington.
He was the Governor of Philadelphia.
He had cabinet posts in two Republican
administrations. He has an honorary
post at the Office of Price
He my partner, too?
When Bernzy says nothing -- merely puts the picture away --
she realizes it's true, realizes how big this thing is.
Don't worry about it. They're finished
when I get the pictures. They're all
a bunch of bums when I get the
Pictures of what, Bernzy?
INT. MOVIE HOUSE - NIGHT
OPEN ON the screen, which shows a newsreel about the War
effort. It is strong stuff -- Nazis on the march, smudge-
faced G.I.'s in foxholes, coffins of Americans, draped with
Bernzy sits alone in the giant movie house -- but he looks
anxiously up the aisle -- expecting somebody.
The newsreel concludes with a fervent pitch for fuel
conservation: "Remember, every gallon you save could mean
the life of a boy Over There."
As the cartoon comes on, Sal slinks into the theatre, takes
the seat next to Bernzy's.
Farinelli takes all the boys to dinner
every so often. He's takin' us Friday.
That's when he's hit.
Where? What time?
Dinner's at eight. I get up to take
a leak at 8:15. Spoleto's men come
in a minute later.
I don't know where, yet. We never
do. He always calls us around 6:30,
the day of the dinner.
(with bitter irony)
F'r safety... It's usually some little
family place or other. In Little
Don't worry. He takes the whole place
over f'r the night.
Call me as soon as you hear on Friday.
Even before you call Spoleto.
(shaking his head)
Spoleto's lieutenant's gonna be with
me when the call comes. But he'll
leave right after. Then I call you.
Don't fail me, Sal.
We see the cartoon on the screen: some creature gets blown
up with dynamite, or has a safe fall on his head.
INT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
We are on the door as Bernzy's key scratches in the lock. He
comes in, wearily, closes the door behind him. He is startled
when he hears a voice behind him.
Bernzy swings around, startled.
A figure sits in the darkness, at Bernzy's desk. He switches
on the light. It's Arthur Nabler.
I came to apologize for the other
Bernzy looks at his desk: Nabler's hat sits over the spot
where the letter is (or was) lying.
The crazy thing is, I'm in love with
Yeah. I kinda figured... You didn't
by any chance --
Nabler lifts his hat off the envelope: it's torn open, now.
It was addressed to me. It said "To
be opened --"
"In the event of my death." Only I
got kinda busy. I didn't get that
I figured -- once I opened it...
Why're you doing this, Bernzy?
Why? It's what I do, ain't it?
(he gestures at the
Murders, fires, drunks: Life, as it
happens. My motto for 23 years.
This is death as it happens.
That's the main thing about life,
isn't it? Death? I mean, half the
shots are get are somebody just Before
or just After. For once I'll get
You could stop it. Go to the cops.
Really? Think that'd stop it? You
been spendin' too much time at Cafe
Society. It's a war, Arty, these
guys aren't gonna lay off. They're
gonna do it fast or they're gonna do
it slow, but they're gonna do it...
Why don't you tell them photographers
in Europe to stop the War?
It's not their war --
This ain't mine.
What's that supposed to mean?
I thought you never took sides,
What're you gettin' at?
You're doing it for her.
Bernzy looks at Nabler a beat -- incensed by his glib
certitude -- then grabs one of his cigar box files and empties
its contents onto the desk: the photos rain down in abundance,
covering the desk and spilling onto the floor. They all show
fires: buildings ablaze, people running from blazes, firemen
carrying children from blazes. As the camera plays over this
fantastic display, Bernzy goes to grab another file.
Here it is, Arty: the whole history
of New York here with me in this
dump, and it ain't because I went
around interferin' -- hosing down
fires or tellin' people to behave
Bernzy unloads an equally plentiful load of dead gangsters
onto the desk and floor -- growing more and more passionate
in his own defense --
They pay people to do that stuff --
cops, firemen... I'm an artist --
you're fuckin' right, I am -- and I
let people do whatever the hell
they're gonna do 'cause that's the
only way I can do it right!
Nabler grabs Bernzy's arm just as he's about to unload a
Stop it!... Jesus, Bernzy, I may be
the only one in New York who thinks
you are an artist instead of some
kind of animal -- and even I'm not
so sure about this thing. It has a
stink to it...
(he shakes his head)
Still, if I thought you were doing
it for some kind of crazy fame or
glory, I wouldn't say a word. I know
how much it hurts to be ignored --
not even reviled, just ignored. But
if you're doing it for her, you're
risking your life for nothing. For
less than nothing.
You're gettin' me and you mixed up.
I hope so. She's cold, Bernzy. She
took old Lou Levitz for everything
he was worth and everybody knows it.
She's just like everybody else in
New York, makin' the best of what
No... Maybe I have been spending too
much time at Cafe Society -- just
like you've been on the street too
long... You give your whole life to
something nobody could love and you
wind up a sitting duck. You know
everything about everything, except
what other people take for granted.
That's enough, Arty.
A mansion on the West Side, a place
on the South Shore -- she milked
Levitz so dry he sold himself to a
worm like Spoleto. I wouldn't be
surprised if she was in this thing
from the first.
Bernzy, incensed, grabs Nabler by the collar --
You don't hit people, Bernzy. You
can stare at things that'd make a
brute squeamish. But you don't hit
people. That's not what we do, people
Bernzy looks at Nabler. He knows he's right. He lets go of
him, walks to the door, opens it.
G'night, Arty. Thanks for the apology.
Nabler puts his hat on. He moves to the door. He speaks with
Do me a favor, Bernzy. Tell her what
you're gonna do. Tell her you're
gonna attend a shootout. If she has
any feelings at all for you, she'll
try and stop you.
Nabler goes out the door.
INT. CAFE SOCIETY - NIGHT
Bernzy stands near the entrance, holding his book of
photographs. He stares across the room to a far table where
KAY sits with a large group of well-dressed Men and Women.
They're drinking champagne and martinis. A Man is telling a
story. Everyone -- Kay included -- laughs riotously.
Bernzy turns to the Italian Maitre d' at his side.
Give this to Mrs. Levitz, wouldja?
Tell her I'll pick it up Saturday.
You don't wish to -- ?
Changed my mind.
Bernzy watches as everyone at the table laughs again.
INT. BOWERY BAR - NIGHT
A toothless WOMAN sings the last line of a ribald bar song
in a filthy place with sawdust on the floor. Those drunks
who are still conscious (many lie with their heads on the
tables) applaud haphazardly.
Bernzy takes a flash shot and the Woman raises her glass to
him. He finds his own glass and raises it to her. He's in
his element, here.
INT. CAFE SOCIETY - NIGHT
CLOSE ON Bernzy's book. A female hand turns the pages. As we
see one vivid, ironic or profound vignette after another (a
cleaning woman mopping the floor in Grand Central, her human
scale diminished by the overspreading dome; Puerto Rican
teenagers sleeping on a fire escape; an old man carrying all
his possessions from his burning tenement) we begin to
understand the power of the book as a book: it's a complete
Some of the pictures have captions, e.g.: a picture of a
corpse -- THE STAR ATTRACTION -- alongside a picture of the
excited crowd which has gathered: FIRST NIGHTERS.
They're cleaning up the club around Kay; chairs are overturned
on tables. She picks up the book, and heads for the door.
INT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - DAWN
Bernzy is sleeping. The police radio hisses. He stirs.
Kay stands over him, still in her evening clothes. She's
holding the book.
Why're you giving this to me?
Bernzy clears his throat as he pulls a pair of trousers from
a chair next to the bed, drags them on, gets out of the bed.
You shouldn't be here, Kay. This is
really no place f'r you t'be.
Disconcerted by her presence here, he drags the cover over
the bed, makes a rushed and futile attempt to tidy the place
up. (The photos he dumped onto the desk and floor still lie
on the desk and floor.)
Didn't -- didn't that maitre d' tell
you? I just wanted you to hold onto
this, that's all. Just till after --
He trails off.
After what, Bernzy?
He looks at her. Nabler's advice is ringing in his head.
It's somethin' nobody ever got
pictures of before. Nobody else ever
If I guy could get pictures of a
live volcano, say, that would be
worth it, right?
What're these pictures, Bernzy? Why're
you afraid to tell me?
He takes a seat on the bed. He can't look at her.
So far you don't seem to go along
with the popular view that I'm some
kind of an insect.
Is it gonna be so much worse than
what I've seen in here?
(She's still holding
Yeah. Yeah it's worse.
Spoleto's wiping out Farinelli's
whole gang. A massacre.
He watches her, watches keenly for her reaction. But it's
hard to read: she seems stunned, but keeps it to herself.
What happens if they see you?
I know what I'm doing.
Then why're you giving me the book?
They ain't gonna see me.
Bernzy -- why're you doing this?
She looks at him, and he looks at her. Perhaps he doesn't
know the answer.
It -- it's what I do, that's all.
She looks at him.
Is she disappointed -- or relieved.
Don't ask me that.
Bernzy, please --
Do you wanna make love to me, Bernzy?
Why're you asking? 'Cause you think
I'm gonna die?
She starts to leave; he grabs her hand.
I didn't mean that.
He brings her face to his almost urgently and kisses her on
Wait -- please --
She walks to the police radio, still crackling, and switches
it off. We hold on the radio as she steps out of frame.
Okay, Bernzy. Now.
Still holding on the radio, we begin a
INT. BERNZY'S APT. - DAY
OPEN ON the day-date calendar on Bernzy's desk. It's torn to
FRIDAY. Panning, we find Bernzy's hands, rummaging on the
desk for something.
Amid two or three open boxes of INFRA-RED film, and two roll-
loading cameras, Bernzy finds a ball of string. He is holding
a doorstop (a graded piece of wood).
With the string, he deftly ties the camera piggyback to the
doorstop, sets the timer, puts the camera on the floor. The
lens is angled up toward body level.
The shutter kicks down toward zero, making a distinct sound,
ki-ki-ki-ki-ki. But it stuck around five seconds.
He picks it up, finds an oil can, puts a drop of oil on the
timer, sets it again. Ki-ki-ki, etc. This time it ticks down
to zero, and the shutter clicks.
INT. BERNZY'S APT - LATER
Bernzy, pacing, consults his watch. It's almost 6:30.
INT. SPOLETO'S OFFICE - SAME
Spoleto paces behind his desk, consults his watch. His office
is more richly furnished than Farinelli's.
INT. SAL'S APARTMENT - EVENING
Sal paces the hallway of his apartment, consults his watch.
Spoleto's LIEUTENANT watches him. The phone, sitting on a
high table in the hallway, rings. Sal seizes it.
(into the phone;
Hello? Hi, Mr. Farinelli. d'Angelo's
Cafe. Sure, I know it. See y'later.
He hangs up the phone, his artificial cheeriness gone.
d'Angelo's -- I guess you heard.
You're feelin' kinda rotten, huh?
You know it.
(putting on his hat)
You'll get over it.
The Lieutenant pulls a gun, wrapped in a rag, from his coat.
We hold on Sal's uncomprehending eyes as the gun fires twice.
Sal falls to the floor as the Lieutenant flees.
Sal's wife comes into the hallway, begins shrieking.
INT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - EVENING
Bernzy, muttering nervously, occupies himself by gathering
up the photos he spilled onto the desk, collecting them back
into their cigar box files...
C'mon, Sal, come on...
He consults his watch. 7:08.
INT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - LATER
The alarm clock says 7:20.
Bernzy paces. The files have been completely restored and
sit neatly on the desk.
Bernzy moves briskly to a chair with a pair of trousers draped
over its back. He goes through the pockets, unfolding scraps
of paper and old flashbulbs, till he finds what he wants:
the page of the phone book with Sal's name, address and phone
He goes to the phone, dials.
Lemme speak to Sal, please.
Oh. God. I'm sorry.
Bernzy hangs up the phone. He sinks into his chair, stunned
and defeated. He knocks the newly re-filed boxes of pictures
off the desk; they go scattering in every direction.
EXT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
The Lieutenant of Spoleto who killed Sal pulls up across
from Bernzy's apartment. He kills the engine, sets the
INT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - SAME
Bernzy, still sunk into his seat, suddenly comes up, infused
with new vigor.
He rummages through a disorganized bookshself, seized by
some sort of inspiration, mumbling to himself.
...'he takes the place over'...
'always takes the place over'...
He finds a book, plonks it onto the desk, takes a seat.
ON the PHONE BOOK: he pages through quickly till he finds a
page headed RESTAURANTS. The numbers are listed
geographically, i.e., EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE, CHINATOWN.
Bernzy's finger finds the column titled LITTLE ITALY. He
starts from the top, dials a number. As it rings, he consults
his watch. Twenty of eight.
PHONE VOICE (V.O.)
I need a reservation f'r tonight.
PHONE VOICE (V.O.)
Of course, for what time?
Bernzy hangs up. His finger moves to the next number. He
consults his Timex, again.
INT. /EXT. LIEUTENANT'S CAR/STREET - SAME
Spoleto's lieutenant is wrapping his gun in a fresh rag.
INT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - SAME
Bernzy holds the phone.
ITALIAN VOICE (V.O.)
I need a reservation for tonight.
ITALIAN VOICE (V.O.)
Yes, and what's the name, please?
Bernzy hangs up the phone, again.
EXT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - SAME
Spoleto's Lieutenant holds the door for an Old Woman leaving
Bernzy's apartment. He tips his hat, and enters.
INT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - SAME
Bernzy is on the phone, checking his watch, as the phone
We see the page of the phone book: seven restaurants have
been crossed off.
I need a reservation for tonight.
WOMAN'S VOICE (V.O.)
We all booked tonight.
WOMAN'S VOICE (V.O.)
Private party tonight.
(sitting up keenly)
Oh yeah, sorry to hear that. Maybe
tomorrow... You still at the same
INT. HALLWAY - SAME
The Lieutenant approaches Bernzy's door quietly.
INT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - SAME
Bernzy tears the page from the phone book, grabs his hat,
his camera, the camera affixed to the piece of wood...
Someone knocks on the door.
He looks up.
INT. HALLWAY - SAME
The Lieutenant waits. He knocks again.
INT. BERNZY'S APT - SAME
Bernzy is frozen, as he sees the doorknob rotate, one way,
then the other.
INT. HALLWAY - SAME
The Lieutenant picks the cheap lock almost effortlessly.
He takes his gun out as he enters the darkened apartment. He
swings around when he hears a Voice.
It's the police radio.
He moves stealthfully past the darkroom -- sees the photos
hanging on the line...
Then into the bathroom. Now he sees Bernzy's silhouette,
behind the shower curtain, cowering in the stall. He aims
his gun at it, then swiftly draws back the curtain.
It isn't Bernzy: it's an old fashioned portrait camera, with
a hood, on a tripod.
The Lieutenant returns, switches on the light. He sees the
curtain swaying in the breeze. He crosses to the window,
parts the curtains. HIS POV:
Bernzy has descended the fire escape.
INT. EXT/BERNZY'S CAR - NIGHT
Bernzy watches in frustration as a Workman guides a truck
which is backing up into the street, blocking traffic in
both directions. Bernzy slams the wheel, curses his luck.
He looks at his watch. Four minutes before eight.
The moment the narrowest semblance of a lane is clear, he
passes two other cars and drives through the narrow gap,
passes it, and speeds away.
INT. BERNZY'S APARTMENT - SAME
The Lieutenant is on the phone.
I looked. He ain't here.
INT. SPOLETO'S OFFICE - NIGHT
Spoleto, on the other end of the line.
(he thinks; into phone)
No matter; we'll get him later.
He hangs up the phone. He looks over to THATCHER WHITE, the
Republican gray eminence.
Bernstein got away.
White glares, as if at an incompetent servant.
We'll go ahead with the hit, as
Is that really wise, Mr. Spoleto?
He don't know where it's gonna happen.
He don't know it's d'Angelo's. We're
EXT. D'ANGELO'S CAFE - NIGHT
d'Angelo's is a simple storefront building with a plate glass
window, filmy curtains, a plainly-lettered sign. A neon clock
in the window says TIME TO EAT.
Right now it's two minutes before eight.
BERNZY stands across the street from d'Angelo's. He has his
camera around his neck, the time release camera in hand.
Through the filmy curtains he can see that no one is eating
inside, i.e., no one from Farinelli's gang has arrived yet.
One door down from d'Angelo's, he sees a gap between the
buildings which leads to a rear alley. He looks both ways
before crossing the street quickly.
EXT. ALLEY BEHIND D'ANGELO'S
Through the screen door, Bernzy can see a black Scullion in
an apron. He scrapes potato peelings into a metal can by the
door. Beyond him, we can see d'ANGELO and MRS. d'ANGELO, the
middle-aged couple who run the place. They are preparing
food at the stove.
Bernzy gestures to the Scullion, trying to lure him out into
the alley with bills he waves in his hand.
The Scullion looks at his boss, back at Bernzy. He picks up
the metal can, and walks it back into the alley.
Listen, whaddo they pay you here?
The Scullion empties the trash into the dumpster.
Two-fifty? Three bucks a week?
The Scullion just stares.
(giving him three
Here's two month's pay.
(and another one)
Here's three months, I got no time
The Scullion re-enters. He picks up a tray of water glasses
and looks to the Chef. The Chef nods. The Scullion carries
them toward the dining room, passing through a narrow
that connects it to the kitchen.
Four square tables have been pushed together to create a
single rectangular table in the center of the restaurant.
The cafe's other tables have been pushed to the outside walls,
for tonight's private party.
The Scullion sets the tray with water glasses on one of the
tables pushed to the side.
EXT. D'ANGELO'S - SAME
Bernzy stands pressed against the front door, looking at his
watch. It's 8 o'clock. He watches the street nervously as A
DARK SEDAN turns the corner onto the street, up the block.
The Scullion unlocks the door behind him and Bernzy ducks
INT. DINING ROOM
The Scullion leads Bernzy through the dining room back toward
the hallway, cautioning Bernzy to wait while he makes sure
the coast is clear.
The car pulls up in front.
INT. D'ANGELO'S HALLWAY
Bernzy is moving one of the tables pushed to the side of the
restaurant closer to the hallway. Through the curtained
window, he sees FARINELLI getting out of his car.
Bernzy ducks down beneath the level of the windows. He adjusts
the table cloth of the table he just moved, bringing it closer
to the floor on the dining room side.
The Scullion opens the door of a closet in the hallway, and
beckons Bernzy to come.
Bernzy looks behind him, to the door, as he scurries, low,
toward the closet door.
is ridiculously cramped -- filled with mops, brooms, buckets,
lightbulbs. Just as FARINELLI opens the cafe's front door
The Scullion lifts a broom in the closet and Bernzy ducks
Farinelli sees the Scullion replacing a broom in a closet,
and closing the closet door.
The Chef hurries down the hallway, past the Scullion, to
greet Farinelli and his Men. There is a great deal of
obsequiousness and hand-kissing. Everyone speaks in Italian.
Another car pulls up, and four more of Farinelli's men get
out of it.
Bernzy, impossibly cramped in the dim closet, gingerly lifts
a roll loaded camera on a strap out of his oversized jacket
pocket. He can hear the Italian voices. A bucket wobbles and
he has to freeze. He secures the bucket, and lifts the camera
strap over his head and onto his shoulders.
INT. DINING ROOM
Farinelli and his men are sitting down as three more gang
Bernzy looks at his watch. It's ten past eight. He's soaked
in sweat and very cramped. He can hear the muffled voices of
Farinelli and his men. We can feel the heat, the darkness,
the anxiety of this claustrophobic eternity.
INT. DINING ROOM
The Chef is serving wine around the table as Farinelli, at
its head, speaks in subtitled Italian.
I got some news just before I left
the house... This time it's Sal.
The Men take the news without evident emotion.
(to the Chef)
The Chef nods, and heads up the hallway.
Bernzy checks his watch. He gingerly shifts his position, in
order to remove the time-release camera, on its graded piece
of wood, from his other suit pocket. He can hear the muffled
Italian voices, outside: they're discussing how to avenge
EXT./INT. ALLEY BEHIND D'ANGELOS/CAR
A long car idles in the alley.
Inside are four of SPOLETO'S MEN, carrying automatic weapons,
and a Driver. The Lead Assassin studies his watch.
Bernzy studies his watch, then sets the timer on the time-
The d'Angelos set the last few pieces onto an antipasto
The screen door is yanked back: Spoleto's men run through
the back door. d'Angelo, Mrs. d'Angelo and the Scullion drop
their utensils and duck down behind the counter.
Mrs. d'Angelo crosses herself.
Bernzy hears the running footsteps of the Assassins. In one
hand he holds the time-release camera; the other grips the
knob of the closet door.
As Spoleto's Men come into the dining room, a few of
Farinelli's men see them and go for their guns. But Spoleto's
men already have their guns ready and aimed.
Don't try it. On your feet.
Behind him, we see the broom-closet door sway open slowly.
The d'Angelos and the Scullion crawl out by the screen door.
INT. DINING ROOM
Spoleto's men are arrayed (weapons aimed) on either side of
the table, i.e., looking across the table, not toward the
kitchen and not toward the street.
As Farinelli's men stand, ostensibly obedient, some dive,
some upend furniture for cover, others go for their weapons.
One races for the front door.
Spoleto's Men open fire, even as Bernzy rushes to the edge
of the dining room, already taking his first shot.
[N.B.: The sudden, brutish violence of the scene has the
paradoxical effect of making it feel longer, in the
inexplicable way a car wreck seems prolonged for the drivers.
A series of inter-locking cuts -- hand on gun, shells on
floor, splattering of tablecloth, flare from gun, hand on
camera, etc. -- extenuates time like a slowed-down nightmare
in which the dreamer tries to flee something menacing.]
Bernzy kneels behind the table set against the wall outside
next to the hallway -- the one he moved earlier.
Bernzy kicks the time-release camera: it slides out toward
the side wall, aimed upward at the killers and ticking down.
The scene is sensational, nearly surreal, with bright lights
flaring in every direction... spent shells bouncing off the
ground... food, wine and blood spattering onto the white
Bernzy stands for his second shot as The Assassin opens fire
on Farinelli's bodyguard, who has managed to pull his gun.
Then he spots Bernzy. Bernzy's camera is aimed at the Assassin
even as the Assassin turns to kill him. Brazenly, Bernzy
continues to shoot.
Through Bernzy's viewfinder, we see what he's seeing: his
Just before the Assassin pulls the trigger, one of Farinelli's
Men, who has managed to pull his gun, shoots him.
Bernzy, seemingly impervious (or possessed) is already
advancing the film.
Bernzy is only partly hidden by the table and its overhanging
cloth: his feet show, he must stand half-erect every time he
takes a picture. We feel is protected not by the table as
much as by his single-mindedness: he is an appendage of the
A bullet tears into the lip or leg of the table Bernzy uses
for cover. There is a violent shudder. He is not sure, and
we are not sure, if he has been hit by a bullet, or stung by
the table itself. He just keeps shooting pictures.
By now there is a horrible litter of wood, cloth, food, blood
and corpses on the floor.
ON the time-release camera, next to a corpse: it is stuck,
at five seconds, as it was at Bernzy's apartment.
The Lead Assassin gives the signal. The shooting ends as
abruptly as it began. Farinelli and all his men are dead.
They leave by the front door. But the last Gunman to leave
looks curiously over his shoulder, as if he thinks he saw
something. Then he hurries off, to catch up with the others.
The Assassins' car is parked in the street. The last Gunman
approaches it but still seems dissatisfied. Sirens are heard,
INT. DINING ROOM
Bernzy rises unsteadily to his feet. He winces, but whether
he is wounded, or merely reacting to the devastation around
him, we still don't know. He cocks his ear as he judges how
far off the sirens are, i.e., how much time does he have.
He begins to take pictures of the massacre's aftermath.
Hearing someone crunch over glass, he looks up.
The curious Gunman has returned. As the sirens draw nearer,
the Gunman raises a pistol.
A distinctive noise is heard from the side of the room: ki-
The Gunman swings around, thinking it is one of Farinelli's
men, wounded but not dead. As he fires into a corpse --
Bernzy makes a run for the back hallway.
The Gunman whirls around again, to fire at Bernzy, but
As the sirens draw very close now, the Gunman flees by the
A police car rounds the corner --
Low Angle, on the running board of the getaway car, as the
curious gunman jumps into the car, even as it squeals away.
The police car screeches to a stop in front of d'Angelo's.
INT. DINING ROOM
Bernzy has re-entered. He kneels down to get the time-release
camera. We see a GUN aimed at him, at the end of an arm.
Bernzy looks up. It's O'Brien, the cop.
O'Brien puts down the gun when he sees Bernzy's face.
(he looks around the
room; he's horrified)
What the hell is this?
Bernzy snatches up his camera, starts to move toward the
Where you goin'? What the hell's
goin' on here?
Berzny keeps moving, then turns and runs.
INT. NABLER'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
Nabler, asleep by the radio (which plays an opera), is aroused
by somebody pressing his doorbuzzer, frantically.
Nabler opens the door.
C'mon, Arty. Now.
INT. ELEVATOR - NABLER'S BLDG.
Bernzy and Nabler ride down. Nabler's pulling on his coat.
Bernzy is unloading the time-release camera, shielding it
from the light within the ample folds of his oversized jacket.
What if Spoleto finds you?
He's finished the second you get
these to the papers.
He caps the film in a can and gives it to Nabler.
I'll get arrested first, with any
Now Bernzy reachs into his pants pocket to get out a roll of
film already in a can. When he does so, his coat swings open.
Jesus, Bernzy: You're bleeding.
Indeed, a spreading stain of blood soaks Bernzy's shirt on
the right side of his torso.
Bernzy presses the roll of film on Nabler.
Take those to the Mirror, The Post,
The Telegraph, The News, Life Magazine --
I know the routine.
EXT. NABLER'S BLDG. - NIGHT
As Bernzy and Nabler come out of the building they see Two
police cars -- one astride and one nose-to-nose with Bernzy's
sedan. The Policemen are on the street.
The eldest of them approaches Bernzy, gently pulls Bernzy's
hands behind his back, and cuffs him: like every other cop
in New York, he knows Bernzy.
He is led toward a police car.
F'r God's sakes, he's bleeding!
(as he disappears
into the squad car)
Go, Arty. Now!
Nabler hails a cab.
EXT. FEDERAL BLDG. (CHURCH STREET) - NIGHT
Bernzy is led up the steep stairs.
INT. FBI CONFERENCE ROOM - LATER
Bernzy sits at a table in a large conference room. The table
is packed with law enforcement personnel, mostly in suits.
Some of them we recognize: Chadwick, the FBI agent; Chadwick's
superior, the Older Agent; Conklin, the homicide detective.
Various men are smoking and various ashtrays are filled.
Somebody's yawning. Time has passed.
(to a D.A.)
Read him the statues about with-
holding evidence again.
Bernzy is beginning to look weak.
I told you, I had no evidence.
Then how'd you happen to be there?
How am I anywhere? I'm psychic.
One of the Cops smiles.
The Older agent, seeing it, is incensed.
You're out of your league here, Mr.
Bernstein. The police may take this
lightly but I'll be goddamned if the
Bureau's gonna let a picture peddler
create a scandal in the O.P.A. that's
gonna undermine morale and hurt the
Bernzy removes a blood-soaked handkerchief from his side,
crumples it up.
(groggy but annoyed)
I didn't create the damn scandal.
(tossing him a fresh
Just tell us where the pictures are,
Bernzy. Nobody here's enjoying this.
(looking at the Older
I'm not so sure.
Put him in jail.
Sir, he's bleeding.
Put him in jail!
As two uniformed Cops go to Bernzy's chair, an officiously
swift WOMAN enters and whispers in the Older Agent's ear.
Hold it... The Chief of Police is
The CHIEF OF POLICE enters, carrying a stack of newspapers.
A Young Cop in a suit follows him, carrying a larger stack
The Feds stay put, but the police personnel all rise in
recognition of his rank.
The Chief and his Assistant deal the newspapers onto the big
As they hit the table, and various people seize them eagerly,
we cut from tabloid cover to tabloid cover.
All of them carry full size front page photos of the shooting.
The pictures are grainy, owing to the infra-red film, but
this gives them an even more nightmarish aspect.
The rigidly set faces of the killers are plainly visible.
The bullets flaring from the gun barrels are seen like streaks
One tabloid shows a mesmerizing shot of the murdered Assassin
staring straight at the camera, when he had a bead on Bernzy.
Others show the staggered, falling, or crumpled bodies of
At least two tabloid have the fortuitous shot (taken by the
late-functioning timer camera) of the Curious Gunman shooting
Bernzy: the Gunman is in the foreground, with his back to
us, his shooting arm extended, his hand and gun plainly
visible; Bernzy is in the background as he waits for the
trigger to be pulled.
The double-bold headlines read as follows: GAS WAR!!!!!
SHUTTERBUG SHOOTS MOB SHOOTERS POISON GAS! PHOTOS SHOW: THEY
KILL THEIR OWN SHUTTERBUG SEZ: "I DID IT FOR G.I. JOE!" MOBFIA
The shot with Bernzy in it is headlined -- THE GREAT BERNZINI!
Another tabloid splits the page between two photos -- Thatcher
White -- HE SOLD OUT G.I. JOE -- and Bernzy -- HE SAVED HIM!
Finally, we see a copy of the New York Times, without a
photograph, and with a non-bold headline over a discreet
column below: PHOTOGRAPHER'S PICTURES SAID TO DEPICT BLACK
MARKET CONFLICT -- Ex-Governor White Implicated In Rationing
Meantime, the Chief of Police speaks.
According to the Times you're going
to be lauded on the floor of the
Senate tomorrow. Senator Watkins
will officially thank you for saving
the lives of American servicemen...
How'd you manage to get the shot of
Right... I have an advance copy of
Walter Winchell's Sunday night
broadcast, lead item.
'Good Evening, Mr. & Mrs. America,
etc. Tonight a tip of the hat to one
Leon Bernstein, better known as The
Great Bernzini. Many's the night
your reporter has seen Bernzy, the
s'posedly sorcerous shutterbug at
Hanson's all-night drug-store -- one
face among many of New York's silent
army of dedicated newspapermen...'
As they Chief reads, we pan the faces around the table. The
reactions range from amusement (among the cops) to
consternation (among the Feds) to outrage (the Older Agent).
'But Friday night, Bernzy proved
himself a great photographer, a great
New Yorker, and a great American.
His first ever photos of the Mobfia
at war nips in the bud what was
potentially one of the foulest
scandals in American history. Two
nights ago, only a select few knew
the meaning of the phrase "Black
Gas." Now, thanks to Bernzy, we all
know, and we all cry out against
this shameless profiteering. Thank
you, Bernzy, for saving the lives of
countless American's Over There.
Thank you on behalf of this reporter,
all Gotham, and all America.'
The Chief looks up from the page, to Bernzy.
Bernzy, clinging to the blood-soaked handkerchief, has passed
Get him to the hospital.
EXT. FEDERAL BLDG. - NIGHT
As Bernzy, conscious but weak from his loss of blood, is led
down the stairs outside the Federal Building, propped up by
two cops, it is he who is now in the public eye.
He is surrounded by a mob of reporters and photographers,
shouting questions and popping flashbulbs frenetically.
How'd you know about it, Bernzy/
Bernzy, give us a shot!/Why'd you do
it, Bernzy?/Bernzy, over here!/ Give
us something, Bernzy!/Mr.
Bernzy smiles as he is led down the stairs, a peculiar,
blissed out, half-delirious smile. He is half-delirious from
his blood loss, the frenzied atmosphere, the incessant flashes
Bernzy's POV: The Reporters scream, the flashbulbs pop
blindingly, until there is such a frenetic burst of bulbs,
the screen is bleached white.
The WHITE SCREEN holds for some seconds, and then we
INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - NIGHT
Bernzy, hat in hand, enters a hospital room with flowers in
it, and soft light. He approaches the bed, where Kay lies,
holding in her arms a new-born Infant.
A rather stern Nurse in metal-framed glasses waits to take
the child back to the nursery.
Almost shyly, he approaches the bed, smiling at the child.
He sits on the edge of the bed, takes the child's hand.
She looks just like you. Thank God.
Kay smiles. But then she's crying. Bernzy nods to the nurse,
who takes away the child.
What is it? What's wrong?
I was so lost... so lost.
He strokes her face.
Forget about it. It's all over...
Talk about lost. I used to think it
was like a rule. Once you gave
yourself over to something different,
something other, somethin' normal
people turned their backs on, you
lost your chance to be normal. To be
human. Just to be human.
As we hold on him, staring into space, thinking, we hear
Kay, trying to get his attention, to break his reverie.
INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - DAY
Bernzy's position and Kay's are reversed, i.e.: he's the one
in the hospital bed, she sits over him, trying to get his
This hospital room -- the real one -- is harshly lit; there
are no flowers. Bernzy is hooked up to an I.V., attached, at
the other end, to a dripping bottle.
The same stern Nurse stands over the bed.
As Bernzy comes to he sees Kay, her face close to his,
speaking quietly. He seems utterly disoriented -- not ready
to leave his dream.
Kay looks to the Nurse who nods and goes out.
The bullet went in and out. You lost
two pints of blood before they brought
you in, lousy bastards.
Kay smiles sweetly, but Bernzy is cold and unresponsive.
He stares at her face. She wonders what's wrong with him.
Bernzy? You okay?
You made a deal with Spoleto... You
told him about Sal and me so I
wouldn't get the pictures.
She looks at him.
What'd he give you? He got the Black
Gas and he gave you the club in
exchange for no pictures?
He said he wouldn't hurt you, that
was part of it, too.
Bernzy knew it was true but didn't want to believe it.
Why'd you do it?
I was afraid you'd get hurt --
I couldn't take the chance of losing
the club. It's like you with your
pictures. You'd do anything for your
She wants him to absolve her.
(a beat; quietly)
...Please say yes.
Bernzy turns his face away from her, to the wall.
Why didn't you just ask me not to
take the damn pictures?
Nothing would've stopped you from
getting those pictures. You're a
You'd be surprised what I'd of done
Then you should thank me. You got
your pictures. Now you're gonna be
rich and famous.
A beat. He can't look at her.
When did you know?
The minute I heard Sal was dead. Why
else would Spoleto take the chance
of killing him just before the big
event?... So, you see: I knew goin'
in, Kay. You don't have t'feel guilty.
I didn't do it for you... I did f'r
I wanted you to do it for me.
He won't look at her; he can't.
If just once you'd said to me, 'I'm
doing it for you, Kay,' I never would
of called him.
You really figure I'm a complete
sucker, even now.
I kept trying to get you to say it.
I tried so hard. How many times did
We hold on him, his face to the wall. He doesn't want to
believe it. It's too painful.
Everything they say about me is true,
I guess. If I loved Lou at all it
was for what he could give me, I
don't mean just money. And everything
they say about you, too: you'd run
over your grandmother to get the
right picture. But this was different.
It was different, Bernzy. You didn't
know there were gonna be any pictures
when you started to help me. And for
once I was talking to someone who
didn't want a better seat, or an
introduction. You didn't know enough
to bribe the maitre d' -- much less
judge me. The night we sat there and
had a drink I knew they were all
watching. I knew they were whispering.
For once I didn't give a damn. You
sat there in your lousy suit and you
were the only one who wasn't a climber
or a schemer or a snob, and for once
I didn't feel like one, either...
(she touches him)
This was different, Bernzy. Wasn't
(vulnerable; she needs
to know its true)
Wasn't it, Bernzy?...
Bernzy, facing the wall, closes his eyes, the pain is so
Why'd didn't you ask me, Kay? Why
didn't you just ask.
The same reason you couldn't tell
me, I guess.
She gets up and goes to the door.
Please don't hate me too much.
She goes out the door. He stares at the wall, speaks quietly
I wish I could.
He closes his eyes to hold back the pain.
EXT. HOSPITAL - NIGHT
VERY CLOSE ON a Middle-Aged Woman who shouts almost
ecstatically, her mouth rimmed with too much red lipstick.
Around her, a kind of pandemonium breaks loose.
As Bernzy, with Nabler on one side of him and Hayward, the
Ivy League, alcoholic reporter on the other, comes out the
door, The crowd -- as big as a mob -- presses in. There are
dozens upon dozens of Reporters and Photographers. The
Reporters shout for Bernzy's attention and the Photographers
take a never-ending series of flash shots.
Autograph seekers thrust tabloid covers and pens at Bernzy,
or autograph books, or copies of Life Magazine. Grinning
Teenagers and Mothers of G.I.'s just want to touch him.
Bernzy, in his street clothes and ostensibly recovered, is
emotionally muted, without his usual quick eyes, purposeful
movements, rapid steps. He offers an occasional wave, or a
tepid smile, but he seems totally overwhelmed.
As they descend the crowded stairs, a 60ish, well-dressed,
Man in the crowd is more or less pulled into their immediate
orbit by Nabler.
Nabler shouts; he has to.
Bernzy, meet my publisher, the eminent
Mr. Bernstein, I've followed your
work for years --
(cutting off the
He says if I write an intro for your
book -- what's it called? --
(looking out at the
'The Public Eye' --
Bernzy smiles at them as they pass -- but the smile is
With an Arthur Nabler introduction
for 'Public Eye' he'll guarantee a
double-sized first printing.
What was the advance you mentioned?
Gerard quotes the figure as they pass through a particularly
loud section of the crowd, a particular dense thicket of
(smiling, never missing
Smile everybody, Time Magazine.
Bernzy moves along automatically, buffeted along by the crowd:
people extend their hands, poke their smiling faces in front
So -- can we agree to this deal in
We have the greatest enthusiasm.
Are you okay?
Don't like to have my picture took.
Mr. Gerard's on the Board at the
Modern Museum. He says there's real
interest there, as well.
I have to keep mum on the matter --
conflict of interest -- but there's
more than enough support already.
Is he okay?
It's this crowd... We'll speak to
you tomorrow, Albert.
(he steers Bernzy
through the crowd)
Car's over there.
As Bernzy continues to be photographed, and shouted at, to
have autograph books and tabloid covers thrust at him by
people with pens and pencils, he and Nabler and Hayward make
their way to the curb, where Bernzy's sedan is parked.
Nabler gives Hayward the car keys.
As they get in the car, the crowd presses in: they're
desperate to make contact with Bernzy.
This'll blow over before your
Bernzy and Nabler get in back; Hayward takes the wheel, turns
back to Bernzy.
You allowed to drink?
He can have a short one. I asked
When Hayward starts the car, the police radio crackles to
It's your town, Bernzy: what'll it
be? Cafe Society?
Even in Bernzy's distracted state, this is like a slap in
Nabler takes him by the shoulders and speaks to him, low and
Goddamit, Bernzy: let it go. This is
what you've been waiting for your
whole life. Whatever it took, it's
Let it go?
Somebody pounds on the window.
Let it go.
How do you do that?
I don't know. Nobody does. Welcome
to the real world. You're just like
everybody else now. Only you're gonna
get fawned over by a lot of jerks
when our book gets published.
It's my book. I'm writin' the
(turning to Hayward)
Let's go to the Stork Club.
Hayward begins to ease the car away from the curb, but it's
hard with the mob outside.
He points to the police radio, crackling, an added distraction
he doesn't need.
How d'you turn this damn thing off.
He looks for the switch.
You can't turn it off.
Here's the switch, right here.
I said you can't turn it off!
Like I say: it's your town, Bernzy.
He puts the car in gear.
EXT. STREET - NIGHT
When we cut outside it is to black and white. We don't hear
the mob: we hear the police short-wave hissing.
As Photographers run alongside the car to poke their cameras
at the windows, as teenagers chase after the car, as the
grim-faced Policemen try to guide the car through the morass
of humanity, as an Older Woman begins to cry, it is a series
of Bernzy-like tableaux, the silent images filled in only
with the hiss of the radio.
The car gets free of the crowd and continues up the street.
We crane up to watch it, as it disappears into the New York
Copyright © WeeklyScript.com | Scripts Copyright © their respective owners