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

"WARM SPRINGS"

Written by

Margaret Nagle

Shooting Draft: 9.14.2004



FADE IN:

EXT. A BODY OF WATER - LATE AFTERNOON

A glimpse of sunlight desperately tries to force its way
through a gray sky before being obliterated.

A MAN, sunburned and bearded, lets himself fall from the
edge of a boat and into the ocean.

UNDERWATER, through shafts of light, white limbs are FLAILING.
The MAN struggles, alone. Bubbles stream upward.

He breaks the surface and gasps for air.

He begins to swim. His massive arms and shoulders grab at
the tide in large, hard strokes. His legs and feet are buried
beneath the dark ocean water.

EXT. HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS

A floating tenement.

A crane LOWERS a fishing net into the water. The MAN swims
into it. The net is RAISED as he lays, motionless, within
its grip.

EXT. BOAT DECK - CONTINUOUS

The crane swings around with the MAN in the net.

He is EMPTIED out onto the deck like a fish.

SHIVERING on the rotting wooden planks he FLIPS himself over
on his stomach. Slowly, using the palms of his hands, he
DRAGS his trunk and withered limbs across the deck in a
labored lobster-walk.

He uses his chest muscles to swing his legs around the edge
of the boat. They dangle like pieces of rope, his feet white
and flaccid.

A towel, a bottle and a glass are wordlessly placed next to
him by a CREW PERSON. He pours himself a generous amount of
scotch and begins drinking.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. HOTEL SUITE - NIGHT

The same MAN is illuminated by the light of a single candle.
He is dancing, holding on tightly to a WOMAN.

Though the light is dim it is clear that he is clean shaven,
with his hair neatly trimmed.

Their connection is powerful and alive. They stop dancing,
overwhelmed with mutual desire.

He holds the WOMAN's face in his hands and KISSES it all
over, moving into a realm of feeling that is foreign to him.
He kisses her passionately on the mouth.

MAN
Oh, my dear...

His fingers run softly over the outside of her breasts. She
begins to undo the back of her dress and slips it down around
her ankles. Wearing only her tight corset she brings his
hands to the laces and together they undo it.

WOMAN
(whispering softly)
It's all right, darling. It's all
right.

INT. HALLWAY - MORNING

OSCAR, a manservant, is carrying both a silver tray and a
pair of pants over his extended arm.

A VOICE (O.S.)
Oscar! Where the devil are you?

Deftly, Oscar opens the door to a spacious bedroom.

OSCAR
My apologies, Mr. Roosevelt.

INT. BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS

There with his bare legs, muscular and lean, sporting black
socks held up with garters is FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, 39.
He projects a natural elegance and the confidence of a man
who can have anything he wants.

Right now... he wants his pants.

FRANKLIN
I've been standing here for five
minutes.

Oscar offers the tray to Franklin which bear cuff links and
a Tiffany watch which Franklin grabs.

OSCAR
Did you sleep well, sir?

FRANKLIN
Don't remember. That's good, isn't
it?

OSCAR
Yes, sir.

Franklin takes his pants from Oscar and steps into them,
pulling the suspenders up and over his shoulders.

INT. DINING ROOM - MORNING

Striding into the dining room, Franklin lifts a silver lid
off a breakfast plate. He dismisses it and instead pours
himself a cup of coffee from a silver pot on the sideboard.
He overhears a voice from the nearby sitting room.

WOMAN (O.S.)
I could not be more delighted to
have received your most charming
letter. It has been far too long
since we last corresponded. However,
it is with great reluctance I must
decline your kind speaking
invitation...

INT. SITTING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, 34, is dictating a letter. Her enormous
eyes, liquid and blue, reveal a woman of extraordinary
intelligence and depth.

ELEANOR
Unfortunately, I would be of little
assistance to the Junior Assistance
League. Particularly if my purpose
were to appear as an alumna who is
gifted at public speaking.

She is dictating to LUCY MERCER, 27, deeply feminine with a
head of soft dark hair and an accommodating nature. She is
Eleanor's social secretary and closest friend.

She is also the WOMAN dancing with Franklin the night before.

LUCY
And what do you really want me to
say?

ELEANOR
Thank you and if you ask again I
shall scream?

They share a laugh -- which is not shared by the homely
rumpled mess of a man draped over a sofa in the corner.

LOUIS
Why don't you ask your husband for
some pointers? He's a pretty gifted
public speaker, don't you think?

LOUIS HOWE, 48, is a wizened man of limited stature and
unlimited soul. Franklin's political advisor extraordinaire --
part consiglieri and part priest. He is the mastermind behind
what he believes will be the greatest political career of
the twentieth century.

He gets up and leans in closely to Eleanor. A cigarette
dangles off his lip and the smoke rises up and curls in her
face.

LOUIS
You should get out once in a while.
Accepting that invitation would be
good for Franklin's career.

ELEANOR
Mr. Howe, wouldn't you be more
comfortable waiting for my husband
outside?

LOUIS
In the street, Mrs. Roosevelt?

ELEANOR
If you like.

Eleanor smiles oh-so politely at Louis, as Franklin enters
from the dining room.

FRANKLIN
I see it's not even eight a.m. and
already the gloves are off.
(kissing Eleanor on
the cheek)
Good morning, Babs. Hello, Miss
Mercer.

LUCY
Good morning, sir.

Quickly, she lowers her eyes to her work.

LOUIS
(annoyed)
You're late. Honestly, why do you
enjoy keeping people waiting?

FRANKLIN
Because they always seem more grateful
to see me when I arrive.

He leans in and kisses Eleanor on the cheek.

FRANKLIN
Have a lovely day, Babs.

ELEANOR
Should I expect you for dinner?

FRANKLIN
I have the Navy reception this
evening. I'll be home quite late.
Unless you've changed your mind about
coming?

Louis looks up from his paper at Lucy who is writing
furiously.

ELEANOR
Do you wish me to come?

FRANKLIN
Well... whatever you'd like.

ELEANOR
(a beat)
Thank you, no.

FRANKLIN
Very well then.
(tipping his hat)
Good day, Miss Mercer.

Lucy nods and Franklin exits. Then Louis tips his hat to the
ladies and follows him out.

EXT. WASHINGTON, D.C. SIDEWALK - DAY

A car pulls over and Franklin is first out, followed by Louis,
walking at a brisk pace as they cross the opposite side of
the street. Louis struggles to keep up while consulting a
small appointment book.

LOUIS
At ten you've got a meeting with
representatives from Pittsburgh Steel.
Their bid on the ship building
contract has already been turned in
and is on your desk for approval.

FRANKLIN
What did I think of it?

An AFRICAN-AMERICAN man steps off the curb, letting Franklin
and Louis pass.

LOUIS
You had some problems with it.

FRANKLIN
I better read it. Steel workers tend
to vote democratic. Next.

LOUIS
Lunch with Secretary Daniels.

FRANKLIN
Must I?

LOUIS
He's your boss.

FRANKLIN
Anything else?

LOUIS
(a beat)
What if she'd said yes?

FRANKLIN
Who?

Louis shoots him a look that says "you know who."

LOUIS
People know. It's time to stop.

FRANKLIN
I can handle my own affairs, Louis.

LOUIS
Not this one. This is Washington,
D.C., not the Harvard Club.
(off-put by Franklin's
arrogance)
How can you be so cavalier?

FRANKLIN
You say that like it's a bad thing.

Louis takes a quick last drag on his cigarette and follows
him inside a building.

INT. FRONT HALL - NIGHT

A large grandfather clock reads 3:00.

The sound of a key in the front door turns and Franklin
quietly enters. His hair is a mess and his clothing is
slightly askew.

As he comes through the hall two eyes shine in the darkness.
They belong to Eleanor sitting rigidly on a settee, listening
to the sound of Franklin's footsteps going up the stairs.

INT. UPPER LANDING - CONTINUING

Franklin goes into his bedroom. Eleanor quietly comes up the
stairs and stops for a brief moment by Franklin's door, then
goes off to her bedroom closing the door behind her.

INT. FRANKLIN'S BEDROOM - EARLY MORNING

Franklin lays sleeping in his bed as Eleanor enters quietly
so as not to wake him.

Carefully she picks up a set of keys on the dresser then
turns and notices a packet of letters sitting on top of an
open duffle bag.

Tentatively she reaches for them. She brings the packet,
tied with a piece of ribbon, up to her nose. She is shocked
by their familiar scent.

With trembling hands she unties the ribbon. Tears flood down
her cheeks as she reads.

Franklin opens his eyes.

CUT TO:

EXT. HYDE PARK - DAY

Springwood is the three-story Roosevelt mansion. It is
surrounded by a thousand acres of forests, fields, bridal
paths and a glorious view of the Hudson River.

THE FIVE ROOSEVELT CHILDREN are screaming on the front lawn
playing a boisterous game of croquet.

INT. SPRINGWOOD - DINING ROOM - DAY

SARA ROOSEVELT, 65, sits at the head of the table. She is
one for whom the expression "Grande Dame" was coined.

Franklin is at the opposite end of the table, looking pale.
Louis, as always, is by his side.

Eleanor, like a prisoner who has accepted her fate, sits
across from them, calm and composed.

ELEANOR
I have offered Franklin his freedom.

FRANKLIN
And I have accepted.

SARA
(to Eleanor)
His freedom is not yours to offer!

FRANKLIN
I am in love with Miss Mercer, Mama.

LOUIS
Lord save us from fools in love.

SARA
Falling in love is out of the
question. Why do you think men have
mistresses? Duty. Duty to their
families and their careers.

Eleanor rises from the table.

SARA
Where do you think you're going?

ELEANOR
It's obvious that my input in this
matter is of little importance.

She begins to exit the room, but Franklin is up like a shot.

FRANKLIN
Babs!

SARA
Come back here! Both of you!

INT. ENTRY HALL - CONTINUOUS

Franklin chases Eleanor. Midway up the stairs, she turns.

ELEANOR
I don't know whether to hate you or
thank you.

FRANKLIN
For what?

ELEANOR
For forcing me to face my life
honestly for the first time.

FRANKLIN
I didn't mean to hurt you, Babs.

ELEANOR
You never do. You live your life
skimming the surface... never aware
of the attachments beneath.
(finding her anger)
It must be a luxury.

She goes up the stairs without looking back.

INT. DINING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Franklin slowly walks back into the room.

SARA
Divorce will finish your career in
politics. How do you intend to support
yourself?

FRANKLIN
My trust fund.

SARA
Divorce Eleanor and there is no trust
fund.

Franklin turns away. He looks out the large picture window
and attempts to light a cigarette, but his hands shake.

LOUIS
We've come so far, boss. State
Assembly, Assistant Secretary of the
Navy -- all pages right out of Cousin
Teddy's play book. We're on the road
to the White House. Don't do this.

Franklin sees his son, ELLIOT, 10, playing separately from
the rest of his siblings. Elliot looks up at his father as
Franklin bares his best politician's smile at him.

A ROAR begins to fill his ears. It becomes clearer that it
is the sound of a CROWD CHEERING.

CROWD NOISE (O.S.)
Rose-velt! Rose-velt! Rose-velt!

INT. DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION HALL - SAN FRANCISCO - NIGHT

CONVENTIONEERS shout out Franklin's name holding up PLACARDS
emblazoned with:

"COX/ROOSEVELT IN '20!"

Franklin BOLTS, running vigorously down the center aisle of
the hall lit by the circle of a spotlight. The CROWD goes
wild over this unconventional entrance.

When he reaches the edge of the stage he LEAPS onto it. This
final act of daring pushes the crowd into frenzy.

CLOSE UP - FRANKLIN

Smiling for no one. For everyone.

FRANKLIN
(breathless)
I humbly accept your nomination for
Vice-President!

The CROWD roars back in reaction to his less-than-humble
stance.

FRANKLIN
They say the best way to get rid of
a man is to have him run for Vice-
President.
(he holds for the
laugh)
You might well have asked my cousin
Teddy if that's how they got rid of
him!

Franklin stands on the stage, the music rising, the crowd
cheering. Slowly, the sound of the convention fades to
something far more delicate...

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. TEA ROOM - WASHINGTON, D.C. - AFTERNOON

A harp playing in an elegant tea room. The hushed tones of
polite conversation wafts through the air.

Franklin sits with his cousin, ALICE ROOSEVELT, 36, daughter
of Teddy. Brilliant and acerbic, she would have had a career
in politics had she been born a man.

ALICE
Of course you lost. A Roosevelt on
the democratic ticket? Our ancestors
are turning in their graves.

FRANKLIN
Cousin Alice, if Teddy were alive
he'd be a democrat -- and you know
it.

ALICE
Rubbish. But I do know one thing:
You're exactly like him. My father
was born wanting only one thing: to
be President.

FRANKLIN
And what's wrong with that?

They both share a laugh.

ALICE
Do you know what they're saying about
you?

Franklin's smile fades.

FRANKLIN
No, but I'm sure you'll tell me.

ALICE
They say F.D.R. stands for
"featherduster." That you're a
lightweight. A dilettante with no
substance; no point of view.

FRANKLIN
Is that what you think?

ALICE
You lead with your vanity. You talk
when you should listen. Unless these
are the qualities of a democrat?

FRANKLIN
The democratic party is the party of
the people. I am a man of the people.

ALICE
Darling, you're a Roosevelt. What do
you know about people?

She leans in conspiratorially.

ALICE
Of course, I can think of one person
you did manage to find the time to
invest in. A Miss Mercer, I believe?

FRANKLIN
Alice, stop.

ALICE
Don't misunderstand me, Franklin.
Being married to Eleanor I think you
deserved some fun. But you made the
right decision. Especially since
Miss Mercer has gone on with her
life.

FRANKLIN
What are you talking about?

ALICE
Edward Rutherford is a wonderful
catch for a girl like her.

FRANKLIN
(stunned)
She's married?

ALICE
Last week. A small event, of course.

FRANKLIN
When I last heard she was governess
to his children.

ALICE
(with a smile)
And then love bloomed. As a "man of
the people," I wouldn't be too hard
on her, Franklin. We can't all have
trust funds you know.

EXT. STATEN ISLAND BOY SCOUT CAMP - DAY

Franklin, Louis and a PHOTOGRAPHER disembark from a touring
car.

LOUIS
We're not taking this defeat lying
down, boss. We'll run you for Governor --

FRANKLIN
(kidding)
Really? Of which state?

Louis shoots him a look.

LOUIS
Very funny. No, this buys you time.
It buys you experience.

FRANKLIN
What about Al Smith?

LOUIS
He's vulnerable. You're still a fresh
face, boss. We'll use that to our
advantage.

They walk down a hill towards some waiting Boy Scouts as the
PHOTOGRAPHER follows them.

FRANKLIN
Boy Scouts, Louis? Hardly my political
base.

LOUIS
They've got parents. Besides they're
photogenic.

Franklin begins glad-handing the assembled group of mostly
underprivileged children.

FRANKLIN
Franklin Roosevelt, happy to meet
you.

Franklin masks his thinly veiled discomfort with an artificial
good cheer. Meanwhile, Louis, in full political mode, makes
sure the Photographer gets everything.

LOUIS
Over here!

Franklin poses with two Scouts. The picture is taken.

SCOUTMASTER
Okay, boys, lunch. Line up to wash!
(to Franklin)
Will you be joining us?

FRANKLIN
Of course!

Franklin steps into a line before a large communal water
barrel and glances sideways at GUISEPPE, 9, an immigrant
child of the city streets. He wears his uniform proudly and
smiles at Franklin.

FRANKLIN
What's your name, son?

GUISEPPE
Guiseppe.

Franklin puts his arm around Guiseppe, forcing the moment
between them. He waits patiently as the cameras click away.

FRANKLIN
Guiseppe! Come sta, ragazzo?

GUISEPPE
(puzzled)
Okay, I guess.

The SCOUTS begin washing their hands together in the water
barrel and Franklin joins in as Louis looks on admiringly.

As Guiseppe splashes some of the water on his face, Franklin,
not to be outdone, does so as well. It's all for the cameras.

ESTABLISHING SHOT - CAMPOBELLO ISLAND

EXT. ROOSEVELT SUMMER HOME - DAY

A large but unpretentious house with a sweeping lawn that
looks out over the icy waters of the Bay of Fundy.

EXT. PORCH - LATE AFTERNOON

Eleanor sits quietly on the front porch knitting -- in a
world of her own.

A few feet away -- also in a world of his own -- sits Louis,
overdressed for summer in a three piece suit. An overflowing
ashtray is by his side and piles of newspaper lie at his
feet.

He holds up a paper to Eleanor with the photo of Franklin
and the Boy Scouts.

LOUIS
He's a natural.

Eleanor gives it a cursory glance then looks out to where
Franklin and the children come bounding up the lawn.

Franklin and Elliot break out from the rest and begin racing
up the lawn. Franklin, no match for his son's speed, loses.
He doubles over, trying to catch his breath.

ELLIOT
Vae victis! ("Woe to the conquered!")

Caught up in his victory, Elliot doesn't see Franklin sneak
up behind him and tackle him to the ground.

FRANKLIN
Festina lente! ("Not so fast!")

One by one the other children all pile on top of Franklin
and Elliot.

ELEANOR
Dinner is in one half-hour! Come in
and change, children!

FRANKLIN
Up! Up, chicks! You heard your mother!

Everyone runs up the porch stairs and into the house except
Franklin.

ELEANOR
Go wash up.

Utterly spent, Franklin lays on the grass, not moving.

LOUIS
Hey, boss! Are you all right?

Slowly, Franklin gets up and walks with great effort up the
porch stairs.

FRANKLIN
I'm fine.
(re: her knitting)
Oh, that's pretty, Babs.

He puts his hand on Eleanor's shoulder and leans in to buss
her cheek but Eleanor quickly stands.

ELEANOR
I must check on dinner.

There is a cursory formality to her words and little warmth.

FRANKLIN
Very well.

She goes into the house. Louis then hands Franklin letters.

LOUIS
Tired?

FRANKLIN
Of you? Never.

Wearily, he sorts through the envelopes.

LOUIS
Why don't you nap before dinner?

FRANKLIN
Yes, dear.

Franklin heads into the house leaning heavily against the
screen door struggling for control.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. SUN ROOM - DAY

Franklin lays on a chaise being examined by a DOCTOR, who
leans over him holding out his hand.

DOCTOR
Can you take my hand?

Franklin tries, but can't. Almost his entire body is
paralyzed. He can only breathe and blink.

The Doctor glances at Eleanor, Louis and Sara indicating
they should follow him out.

EXT. SCREENED PORCH - DAY

As the door from the sun room opens onto the porch, Elliot
is there waiting. Seeing them coming, he dashes off into the
yard so as not to be seen as Eleanor, Louis, Sara and the
Doctor enter.

DOCTOR
He has Infantile Paralysis. Polio.

Sara sinks into a chair.

SARA
I knew it. I knew it.

ELEANOR
I thought it only struck children.

DOCTOR
Not necessarily.

LOUIS
How did he get it?

DOCTOR
Some experts believe it is linked to
contaminated water. But that theory
is speculative at best.

LOUIS
It was the visit to that god damned
Boy Scout Camp!

DOCTOR
In all honesty you need to be looking
forward, not back.

ELEANOR
What is the prognosis?

DR. LOVETT
The damage to his leg muscles is
extensive. I suspect he will be
paralyzed from the waist down.

ELEANOR
Dear God.
(beat)
And the children?

DR. LOVETT
If they don't have any symptoms by
now then they have been spared.

Sara stands -- her bearing once again erect and proud.

SARA
Then we must count our blessings.

DR. LOVETT
You will need to prepare yourselves.
There is a deep depression that
follows an illness of this magnitude.
I'm afraid life as he knew it is
over.

Their discussion is suddenly interrupted by the sound of a
child crying. Eleanor rushes off the porch to the bushes.

EXT. BUSHES - CONTINUING

Eleanor finds Elliot, having heard everything, curled up in
a ball, weeping. She leans down and wraps her arms around
him.

INT. BEDROOM - WEEKS LATER

CLOSE-UP - WALLPAPER

A pink background covered in small white flowers with red
centers and green leaves. There is a seam in the paper. A
tiny white spot where glue has soaked through.

PULL BACK TO REVEAL - Franklin in bed.

This is all he stares at -- hour after hour after hour.

His lips are dry.

A glass of water sits tantalizingly on the night stand. He
reaches for it but it's a few inches out of his reach.

Slowly, he begins to rock his torso back and forth.

INT. HYDE PARK - PARLOR - CONTINUOUS

Sara, Eleanor and Louis are in heated conversation.

SARA
Now that politics are out of the
question he can stay here at home
with me.

ELEANOR
But what kind of life is that?

LOUIS
I've rented him an office downtown.
He can still practice law.

SARA
Why would you want to do that?

LOUIS
Because he needs it.

ELEANOR
He can pursue a career, Mama.

SARA
A man as proud and vital as
Franklin... you're inviting him to
be hurt. And you, Mr. Howe, engaged
in the fantasy of a political future
for my son... is there nothing you
won't do to keep your job?

Sara leaves as Eleanor goes after her.

ELEANOR
Mama! That's not fair!

INT. BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS

Franklin, still rocking his torso, has now gained some
momentum, managing to have moved just a few inches.

INT. SUN ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Sara busies herself arranging flowers.

SARA
What kind of life is it to be pitied
and stared at?

ELEANOR
What kind of life is it to be hidden
away? I know you believe that what
you are suggesting for Franklin is
best. But I think you are making it
harder for him.

SARA
I think I know what's best for
Franklin. I am his mother!

ELEANOR
And I am his wife.

Sara stares at Eleanor in disbelief. Eleanor stares back --
unflinching.

INT. BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS

Franklin reaches his arm towards the glass only to fall from
the bed to the floor with a thud. Frustrated beyond words,
Franklin lunges at his wheelchair and shoves it across the
floor letting out an anguished cry.

In agony, from both the pain and the humiliation, he stares
up and fixes his gaze on the ornate ceiling overhead.

Then, closing his eyes, a POUNDING in his head starts to get
louder and louder --

CUT TO:

INT. BOAT - DAY - BACK TO PRESENT

Franklin, on his back, his face and body drenched with sweat,
is asleep in his bunk in the boat. He awakens to the sound
of the POUNDING. Voices are calling him accompanied by FISTS
smashing at the door. He opens his eyes and is disoriented.

He tries to sit up -- momentarily forgetting that he can't.
He lifts the sheet and visibly WINCES in disgust at the sight
of his crippled legs. BONES covered by FLESH with barely an
ounce of muscle.

Finally the door BURSTS open. Two young crewman, EUGENE and
STANLEY enter.

EUGENE
Mr. Roosevelt, we got a storm comin'!

He lifts Franklin over his shoulder. Stanley grabs clothes
and pulls a set of long iron leg braces from a hook off the
wall. Eugene grabs a bucket and holds Franklin up to urinate.

FRANKLIN
(while peeing)
Leave me here. Let the ocean swallow
me up. Burial at sea. Perfect for a
navy man.

Stripped to his underwear Franklin is laid across the bunk.
Eugene kneels and puts on Franklin's socks and shoes. Then
he and Stanley slide on his braces and pants.

Their hands zipper, clasp, buckle and tie. Each hand works
in synchronicity with the other.

Clumsily they lift Franklin up, struggling under his weight.

EXT. BOAT - DAY

Eugene and Stanley carry Franklin off in the driving rain.

INT. DINER OFF THE FLORIDA COAST - DAY

Kerosene lamps light the diner which is filled with people,
mostly fishermen, seeking refuge from the coming storm.

Franklin, soaked-to-the-skin and wrapped in a blanket, is
being pushed through the door by Eugene in a wheelchair.

The restaurant collectively pauses to take them.

Franklin is slowly wheeled across the restaurant. He shrinks
from the stares of the patrons.

A LITTLE GIRL eating with her parents gets excited when she
sees Franklin's braces and points. Franklin gives her a hard
look and she is hurt.

What he can't see is that under the table she wears a set of
braces like his.

Franklin is wheeled up to his table and EUGENE and STANLEY
sit down with him.

Louis enters resembling a drowned rat. He rips off his hat
and raincoat and puts down his suitcase.

FRANKLIN
(genuinely surprised)
Louis?

LOUIS
I never miss Florida in the rainy
season.

FRANKLIN
No letter? No wire?

LOUIS
Why? Would you have answered it?

FRANKLIN
What the hell are you doing here?

LOUIS
Good to see you too. Nice whiskers.
You look like Chester Arthur.

FRANKLIN
Stanley, this is Mr. Howe. He gets
sea-sick at the mere sight of a boat
so he's probably happy that it's
being destroyed right now.

LOUIS
Boys, I need to talk to Mr. Roosevelt
alone. Find your own breakfast. Here's
a five spot. Make it a feast.

They look at the money and take their leave.

FRANKLIN
You're always so generous with my
money.

LOUIS
You mean your mother's, don't you?

The Waitress puts down two cups of coffee. Franklin pulls
out a flask and pours some into his cup. He then lights a
cigarette and begins smoking, but doesn't offer one to Louis.

Without asking, Louis helps himself.

FRANKLIN
So Mama financed this fool's errand,
has she? Well, it's a waste of a
trip.

LOUIS
It was Eleanor's idea.

Franklin's face is immobile.

WAITRESS
What can I get you?

LOUIS
I'd like some ham and eggs, sunny
side up, please?
(to Franklin)
What's your fancy, boss?

FRANKLIN
Nothing. I fancy nothing.

LOUIS
He'll have the same.

The Waitress grabs their menus and scurries away. Louis opens
his briefcase and hands Franklin a stack of mail. Franklin
glances it, but doesn't open any.

LOUIS
There are a few from your children.

FRANKLIN
I can still read.

Franklin flips through the mail and finds a letter that
interests him, opening it.

LOUIS
Your wife wants you to come home.
(choosing his words)
She's concerned. I'm concerned. This
life on a boat... where is it getting
you?

FRANKLIN
Getting me? For one thing, no one
gets to see me and I don't get to
see them.

LOUIS
Don't say that. Everyone's waiting
for you to come home. The kids...
they're aching to see you.

FRANKLIN
(reading)
Really?

Louis looks sadly at his friend.

LOUIS
What's that?

FRANKLIN
(skimming the letter)
From George Foster Peabody. He owns
a resort in rural Georgia for
investment purposes. Hot springs or
something. He claims that only
recently a crippled boy swam in the
waters and can walk again.

LOUIS
Oh, for Chrissake...

FRANKLIN
(reading)
"The high magnesium content of these
natural springs will hold anyone up.
Although it is not a resort for infirm
types I am extending you my personal
invitation to come visit in the
offseason."
(putting the letter
aside)
I'm only welcome in the "offseason."

Eugene and Stanley approach the table.

EUGENE
Mr. Roosevelt, we got bad news.

FRANKLIN
What?

STANLEY
It's the boat... it got banged up
real bad tied to the dock.

FRANKLIN
How bad?

STANLEY
I don't think you can stay there
anymore.

Franklin absorbs this.

EUGENE
Maybe it's a blessing in disguise,
Mr. Roosevelt. I don't know about
you, but I'm homesick.

FRANKLIN
And I'm sick of home.
(to Louis)
Where's the letter from Peabody?

LOUIS
You can't be serious?

He hands Franklin the letter who rereads it.

FRANKLIN
Why not miracle waters? I've drunk
the oil of monkey glands, been zapped
with electricity and hung upside
down in harnesses. After all that,
this sounds downright peaceful.

LOUIS
I can't quite picture you in the
back woods of Georgia.

FRANKLIN
Where do you picture me, Louis?

LOUIS
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

FRANKLIN
President, Louis? I can't visit the
bathroom without a team of associates
to help pull my pants down.

LOUIS
Give it a little time.

FRANKLIN
There's a reason they say a man runs
for office.
(a beat)
I'm going to Georgia.

CUT TO:

INT. A TRAIN CAR - DAY

Franklin and Eleanor sit next to one another. Franklin is
now shaved and cleaned up considerably.

However, the tension between them is palpable. Eleanor knits
furiously while talking. Franklin looks out the window at
African-American FIELD HANDS hard at work in the red clay
hills of Georgia.

ELEANOR
James has been doing so much better
now that Elliot has joined him at
Groton. They've put their differences
behind them and have become a real
team.

Franklin observes two YOUNG BOYS, African-American, running
alongside the slow-moving train.

ELEANOR
Two peas in a pod. Last week they
were both in the infirmary with the
same cold.

Franklin eyes a wagon pulled by a mule. The driver, a FARMER,
takes off his hat and wipes his brow in the hot sun.

ELEANOR
Meanwhile, any suggestion I make to
Anna for her future -- she dismisses
me. I am going to have to enlist
your support in this, Franklin. She
listens to you.

She looks over at Franklin and sees that he is staring out
the window, deep in thought -- not having heard a word she's
said.

EXT. BULLOCHVILLE TRAIN STATION - GEORGIA - DAY

TOM LOYLESS, 39, stands waiting by a car dressed in a white
suit. Laconic, with a dry sense of humor, Tom is a man of
few words whose poker face hides a true desperation. He holds
a telegram from Franklin in his hand.

As the train pulls in Tom looks for Franklin among the
passengers making their exit.

There are two different exits on the platform clearly marked
WHITE and COLORED. Whites exit from the front of the train
and Blacks from the rear.

LIONEL PURDY, tiny, and dressed in a mailman's uniform,
approaches Tom. Of indeterminate age and dubious intellect,
his mail bag is almost as big as he is.

LIONEL
Someone important?

TOM
You might say so, Lionel.

LIONEL
Who?

TOM
A Mr. Roosevelt.

LIONEL
Teddy?

TOM
(patiently)
No, he's dead.

LIONEL
Oh.

The STATIONMASTER approaches.

STATIONMASTER
Tom, your guest needs some assistance.
We're gonna need some able-bodied
men to move him.

TOM
(to Lionel)
Go over to the livery stable...

LIONEL
...and get the Collier boys.

EXT. A TRAIN CAR - DAY

Franklin exits the train slung in a fireman's carry over the
shoulder of ROY COLLIER, African-American, 29. His brother
PETE, 27, is close behind, carrying luggage -- both hover at
around 6'4".

Tom approaches. Franklin attempts to hide his embarrassment
with good cheer.

FRANKLIN
Hello! Hello! Mr. Loyless?

TOM
Tom, Mr. Roosevelt.

FRANKLIN
Then you'd better call me Franklin.

Still in the fireman's carry, Franklin extends his hand for
Tom to shake.

TOM
Franklin.

FRANKLIN
And this is the Misses.

ELEANOR
Call me Eleanor.

TOM
Pleased to make your acquaintance.

Roy then carries him over to Tom's car and gingerly places
him inside. Pete follows.

ROY
(to Tom)
There's a trunk and a chair with the
wheels, too.

TOM
I'll send a wagon right over.

PETE
We got a wagon, sir.

EXT. A COUNTRY ROAD - DAY

Tom drives Franklin in front, Eleanor sits in the back.

Pine trees tower over the sides of the dirt road. In
occasional clearings, Franklin spies barefoot children playing
out in front of broken-down shacks. They stop their play to
look at the car.

FRANKLIN
(covering his
discomfort)
Beautiful country.

ELEANOR
How long have you been manager of
the Inn?

TOM
Not long.

They BANG over a large pothole. They all fly up and land
hard.

FRANKLIN
Got any paved roads?

TOM
No we don't.

EXT. THE MERIWETHER INN - DAY

Tom's car turns into a driveway. Franklin has a brochure for
"The Meriwether Inn" opened in his lap. He tries to spy the
building through the trees but cannot.

He looks back at the brochure. The picture is of a lavish
Victorian Hotel and the words, "Our renowned mineral hot
springs can cure whatever ails you!"

Franklin looks up and sees a three-story hideous green and
yellow monstrosity leaning slightly to one side. Paint is
peeling everywhere. What once were flower beds are overgrown
with weeds.

The car pulls to a stop.

TOM
You'll have a great deal of privacy.
There are only a few guests right
now as it's the offseason... I'm
hoping to make some improvements by
next Spring --

Franklin puts out his arm preventing Tom from getting out of
the car.

FRANKLIN
(panicked)
I... I can't stay here. This place
is a wreck.

ELEANOR
Franklin!

TOM
Look on the bright side. Most of
your time will be spent in the water.
(a beat)
It's true, we've fallen on some hard
times...

FRANKLIN
Hard times? This is a disaster! It
should be condemned!

Tom's southern manners are being put to the test, but he
stays remarkably calm.

TOM
Yes, we've seen better days.
(a beat)
But then I imagine so have you.

Franklin blinks incomprehensibly at Tom and what he has just
said.

TOM
I'm happy to drive you back to the
train station right now, if that's
what you want.

They lock eyes. Franklin wonders if Tom's bluffing, but he
can't tell.

FRANKLIN
(in a low voice)
Fire. I'm frightened of fire. I can't
get out if I'm upstairs.

TOM
We've got options.

EXT. MERIWETHER INN GROUNDS - DAY

Tom's car is now parked in front of a group of small cottages.
Roy and Pete's horse drawn wagon is behind it.

EXT. COTTAGE - DAY

Tom and Pete open a set of shutters over the windows of a
tiny cottage.

Franklin and Eleanor sit in the car, watching.

INT. COTTAGE - DAY

Sheets cover the furniture, cobwebs span the beams and dust
particles fill the air.

As Tom maneuvers the wheelchair through the front door,
Franklin notices a broken window.

FRANKLIN
(caustic)
Well ventilated, at least.

Roy enters with a suitcase.

ROY
Where do you want this, Mr. Roosevelt?

FRANKLIN
The bedroom, Roy, thank you.

He looks after Roy as he exits.

FRANKLIN
Tom, this young man appears quite
competent. Would you ask him if he'd
like to stay on as my valet?

TOM
(politely)
Why don't you ask him yourself?

He tips his hat and goes outside.

EXT. DRIVEWAY - DAY

Pete, alone, drives the wagon past the Inn and out onto the
road.

INT. COTTAGE - DAY

Eleanor stands in the middle of the tiny living room stunned
by the squalor. She speaks to Franklin who is changing in
the other room.

ELEANOR
This is madness.

FRANKLIN (O.S.)
No doubt.

ELEANOR
Tell me again, Franklin, why are we
here?

Franklin is wheeled out by Roy, now changed into a bathing
suit.

FRANKLIN
For the waters. Are you coming?

EXT. A DIRT PATH - DAY

Roy wheels Franklin while Tom walks in front of them leading
the way.

TOM
Mrs. Roosevelt want to swim?

FRANKLIN
Mrs. Roosevelt doesn't know how.

Franklin takes in the surroundings. Deserted horse stables
in total ruin and tennis courts covered with underbrush mar
the landscape.

EXT. POOL - DAY

An immense, T-shaped pool rimmed in concrete. The bluish
water is clear and sparkling and a delicate steam rises out
of the warmth.

A MOTHER, eyeing Franklin approaching in his wheelchair,
comes to the edge of the pool and coaxes her CHILDREN out of
the water.

AUNT SALLY, an ancient, gaunt, African American woman, stands
guard by the edge of the water.

TOM
Mr. Roosevelt, I'd like you to meet
Aunt Sally.

FRANKLIN
Aunt Sally.

AUNT SALLY
Good day, sir. I have towels for
you.

Roy wheels Franklin as close to the rim of the pool as
possible. Tom lends his assistance and both he and Roy HOIST
Franklin out of the chair and place him at the edge, letting
his feet dangle in the warm water.

Twisting on his massive arms, Franklin lowers himself
cautiously.

TOM
Now give it a minute. You'll see
that the mineralization makes the
water more buoyant. The crippled boy
who swam here was actually able to
walk in the water.

Franklin's legs flop as his useless feet touch the shallow
bottom. Crushed, all hope drains from his face.

FRANKLIN
I can't even stand.

AUNT SALLY
Well, not yet.

EXT. CABIN - NIGHT

Roy sleeps on a couch on the front porch. Crickets hum.

INT. CABIN - CONTINUING

Eleanor tosses and turns on a roll away bed.

INT. CABIN BEDROOM - CONTINUING

Franklin lies in bed staring up at the ceiling.

INT. MERIWETHER INN - DINING ROOM - DAY

A handful of guests are spread out in a huge dining room.

Franklin and Eleanor sit together. He is eating heartily,
but Eleanor merely moves her food around.

ELEANOR
This is simply revolting.

FRANKLIN
It's not very good, but it is
mysterious.
(holding out his plate)
What in the world do you think they've
poured over this chicken? Or is it
possum?

Eleanor sizes Franklin up. She knows this is a preamble.

ELEANOR
You want to stay.

FRANKLIN
Yes.

ELEANOR
New York has the best doctors and
hospitals in the country.

FRANKLIN
I need something new.

ELEANOR
This isn't about getting better is
it? You don't want to come home. You
don't want to live with us.

FRANKLIN
I refuse to be a burden to anyone.

ELEANOR
You're not a burden, you're my
husband.

He reaches out and takes her hand in his.

FRANKLIN
I want to offer you the freedom you
once so generously offered me.
(she pulls it away)
All you've ever known is duty. To me
and to a political career that unless
I can walk no longer exists. You've
been exemplary. Now I'm telling you
you're free to go.

ELEANOR
(her voice rising)
No.
(a beat)
I don't want freedom. I want a
marriage. I want a life with you.

Franklin won't let himself believe it.

FRANKLIN
I can't imagine what you think that
life is going to be.

This takes the wind out of Eleanor.

ELEANOR
Oh Franklin... it's not up to me to
imagine, it's up to you.

Eleanor folds her napkin and gets up from the table.

EXT. COTTAGE DRIVEWAY - DAY

Pete helps Eleanor into his livery wagon.

Franklin watches from the porch as Eleanor rides away. Her
suitcase slides across the open wagon bed, as the wagon makes
the tight turn from the driveway onto the main road.

ON ELEANOR

Looking out -- straight ahead.

ON FRANKLIN

Alone and scared as he watches the wagon fade from sight.

INT. HYDE PARK - DAY

Eleanor is pouring tea for Louis, who is seated.

ELEANOR
Thank you for stopping by, Mr. Howe.

LOUIS
I thought you might want to see a
friendly face.
(off the silence)
So how's our boy doing?

ELEANOR
Well, he's enjoying the waters very
much. He...
(suddenly overwhelmed)
I think we've lost him.

Her pent-up tears burst in a free-flow. Louis leads her to a
nearby settee and hands her his handkerchief.

ELEANOR
Please excuse me, Mr. Howe.

LOUIS
Don't you think it's time you called
me Louis?

ELEANOR
Louis.

LOUIS
Maybe we've been going about this
all wrong. He's down there to be
alone so let's give him what he wants.
We change our focus.

ELEANOR
To what?

Louis smiles, knowingly.

LOUIS
To you.

EXT. COTTAGES - SUNSET

The row of abandoned cottages look strangely pretty, aglow
in the setting sun.

EXT. COTTAGE - CONTINUOUS

Franklin is seated on the ramshackle porch in his chair. His
cigarette hangs from his lip as he mixes martinis in a glass
milk bottle. He pours one for Tom, then himself.

FRANKLIN
To your mineral pool, or whatever
you call it.

TOM
Warm Springs.

They clink their glasses. Tom takes a polite sip, then chokes
back the bad taste.

FRANKLIN
Too strong?

TOM
Haven't been in a drinking mood
lately.

FRANKLIN
I have.

TOM
Actually, its the most god-awful
martini I've ever tasted.

FRANKLIN
Are you always this direct, Tom?

TOM
Well, I never tasted a martini this
bad before.

Franklin takes another sip, checking. It tastes fine to him.

FRANKLIN
(hurt)
Everyone likes my martinis...

TOM
So they say.

INT. COTTAGE - MORNING

Franklin's bed is already empty.

EXT. POOL - MORNING

Aunt Sally is seated, talking with Roy while Franklin lies
on his back in the water, swimming. All his movement comes
from his shoulders and arms. The morning sun streams down on
him.

Tom sits off to one side reading the newspaper.

FRANKLIN
Tell me more about what that boy
did, Aunt Sally.

AUNT SALLY
Well, first he'd always swim over to
the side of the pool and hold himself
there -- make sure he righted himself.
Then... before he knew it... he'd be
standing.

FRANKLIN
If it was only that easy.

AUNT SALLY
Well, you make it hard. Get over to
the side of that pool and grab it.

FRANKLIN
(humoring her)
Yes, ma'am.

AUNT SALLY
Now you got to remember how you did
it.

Franklin holds the edge of the pool, closing his eyes.

For a long moment there is silence. Almost without realizing
it, Franklin lets go of the edge of the pool.

When he opens his eyes -- he is standing -- all by himself
in the water.

FRANKLIN
(a nervous laugh)
I'm standing.

His laughter gets stronger. Tom, Aunt Sally and Roy look on.

FRANKLIN
I'm standing.

The release is powerful as Franklin dissolves into tears.

EXT. COTTAGE PORCH - EVENING

Tom, who's been mixing cocktails, hands Franklin a drink and
lifts his glass.

TOM
To standing on your own two feet!

They clink and drink.

FRANKLIN
This water could be the cure -- the
cure! In six months I could be up
and walking!

Lionel, the mailman, comes down the path carrying a
flashlight, reading an open letter.

LIONEL
Evening folks.

FRANKLIN
Cocktail, Lionel?

LIONEL
I can't. I'm working for the federal
government.

FRANKLIN
All the more reason.
(shoving a drink at
him)
Sort of late for the mail, isn't it?

LIONEL
Not for me it isn't. Got a whole
packet of clippings for you, Mr.
Roosevelt. From a Mr. Howe. New York
Times, Journal-American... don't
know what else.

He hands an already opened letter to Franklin.

LIONEL
Your mother wants to know when you're
coming home. She says they got
swimming pools in Hyde Park. She's
mad as all hell.

FRANKLIN
Reading other people's mail is not
only impolite, it's illegal.

LIONEL
Sheriff don't mind. He likes I read
his mail. Saves him the time. Plus a
lot of folks around here can't read,
so it's more a public service, really.

FRANKLIN
Astonishing. Thank you, Lionel.

He hands Lionel a letter.

LIONEL
(reading)
"Miss Missy LeHand." Who's she?

FRANKLIN
If you must know, she's my social
secretary.
(to Tom)
I'm having her come down.

Lionel reaches into his bag.

LIONEL
Almost forgot... your wife wrote the
nicest letter. She's gonna make a
speech at the League of Women Voters.

FRANKLIN
Give me that.

He hands the letter to Franklin who immediately begins
reading.

LIONEL
(to Tom)
Says she's gonna keep the Roosevelt
name alive. Least till he starts
walkin' and all.

Lionel takes the letter Franklin just handed him, opens it,
flicks his flashlight back on and continues on his way.

FRANKLIN
(studying the letter)
This is so unlike Eleanor. She's
terrified of crowds.

CUT TO:

INT. HALLWAY - DAY

Louis and Eleanor approach a set of double doors.

ELEANOR
We are facing imminent disaster.

LOUIS
I take full responsibility if you
hyperventilate or faint.

They enter the room.

INT. MEETING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

At a lectern, behind which a banner reads "LEAGUE OF WOMEN
VOTERS," the CHAIRWOMAN sees them and waves them forward.

CHAIRWOMAN
Ah, here she is now. Ladies, Mrs.
Franklin Roosevelt.

A small crowd of about two dozen women offer up polite, but
scant applause for Eleanor.

ELEANOR
Good afternoon. I am so pleased to
be invited here today.
(looking down at her
cards)
Too often....

A PHOTOGRAPHER snaps a picture which throws Eleanor off.

ELEANOR
Too often...

She stops. The pause is deadly. Louis looks ready to jump
out a window. Eleanor continues, her voice still pitched too
high.

ELEANOR
Too often the great decisions are
originated and given form in bodies
made up wholly of men...

Slowly, she begins to find her voice.

ELEANOR
So that whatever political value
women have to offer is shunted
aside... without expression. This is
a mistake.

She looks up from her cards and stares at the audience...
and for the first time speaks spontaneously.

ELEANOR
I think this might be the reason I
am having such a difficult time giving
voice to my own thoughts here today.

The immediacy of her self-effacing comment charms the room.

ELEANOR
I'm reminded of what someone once
said about looking at an elephant.
That it is impossible to ever see an
entire elephant from one place --
you must walk around it. If our
elected leaders are to be truly
effective then they must be willing
to go out of their way to look beyond
what is right in front of them. To
see the entire elephant. And for
that... they need our help.

The ladies applaud her, much to her relief. Louis beams.

LATER

At a reception following the speech, Eleanor and the
Chairwoman are drinking tea.

CHAIRWOMAN
That was so moving, Mrs. Roosevelt.
The Child Welfare Amendment could
use someone with your passion. You
must consider being our spokesperson.

Eleanor looks to Louis who nods.

ELEANOR
Oh. It would be an honor.

CHAIRWOMAN
Wonderful.

EXT. POOL - DAY

Franklin is attempting to walk in the water, working
diligently. Tom watches him from a few paces back.

TOM
Morning.

FRANKLIN
I walked five steps today!

TOM
Congratulations. Listen, Franklin, I
got word a local reporter wants to
do a story on you.

FRANKLIN
I'm hardly newsworthy these days.
(a beat)
How did he find out I'm here?

TOM
Small town -- word gets out. It
probably won't amount to more than a
provincial puff piece but it might
give us some free publicity for the
Inn.

Franklin looks at Tom knowing full well he's arranged this.

TOM
All right, I know the gentleman. I'm
doing him a favor. You know, I used
to be a journalist.

FRANKLIN
Do you mean all this time I've been
talking to a newspaper man?

TOM
Not anymore. I got in a bit of trouble
in Atlanta. Seems some of the
editorial pieces I wrote offended
the sensibilities of a local civic
group. So I needed to lay low for a
while.

FRANKLIN
(a beat)
You mean the Klan? Good God, Tom...

TOM
Thankfully, Mr. George Foster Peabody
gave me this job...

FRANKLIN
Well, that explains a few things.
For the life of me, I couldn't figure
out why someone like you was running
this --

TOM
Rat-trap?

FRANKLIN
(laughing, swimming
off)
I was going to say dump, but rattrap
fits nicely.

EXT. FRANKLIN'S COTTAGE - FRONT PORCH - DAY

Franklin is seated -- but not in his wheelchair. He wears
long pants even though it's blisteringly hot.

CLEBURNE GREGORY, 28, sits across from Franklin -- a second
string reporter in a three-piece suit.

GREGORY
Now in 1920 when you were running
for Vice-President...

FRANKLIN
I can't imagine your readers are
interested in ancient history. Cox
and I lost the election by a wide
margin.

GREGORY
It was only a few years ago, Mr.
Roosevelt...

FRANKLIN
Now it's the waters extra minerals
plus its warmth that makes all the
difference. At 90 degrees I can work
my muscles for hours and not get
cold.

GREGORY
As Assistant Secretary of the Navy
during the Great War did you condone
the use of...

FRANKLIN
I forgot one more thing you will
need to write down. Poor circulation
is a chronic problem for people in
my condition.

Gregory looks at Franklin. It's clear he's not going to get
the interview he came for.

GREGORY
So... you think it could be a cure?

FRANKLIN
I don't know.

GREGORY
But you're hopeful?

FRANKLIN
Yes. I am.

INT. COTTAGE - NIGHT

Franklin is laid out on the bed as Roy slides the braces off
his legs. Roy unlaces his shoes and slips them off his feet.
He is about to put them under the bed when Franklin motions
for Roy to hand them to him.

Still flat on his back, Franklin luxuriates in the rich
leather cobbled by hand. He examines their smooth, immaculate
soles... worn but never walked in.

INT. COTTAGE - MORNING

A newspaper clipping of Eleanor in her speech to the League
is taped to the wall.

We hear the sound of an Underwood typewriter clacking away
and Franklin's voice, dictating.

FRANKLIN
Therefore, a formal questionnaire
should be composed in order so we
may hear from all recent delegates
as to how we can do better in '28 to
present a more united front. Signed,
Franklin Roosevelt, etc., etc.

MISSY LE HAND, 30, is sitting at a card table, typing.
Brunette with some early gray, she is sturdy in build with a
plain but friendly face.

MISSY
Very good. Do you want this out today?

FRANKLIN
Tomorrow will be fine.

MISSY
Alright.

FRANKLIN
Thank you, Missy, and c.c. that to
Louis.

Missy rises with a stack of envelopes and heads out.

Roy enters with a plate of pancakes in front of Franklin.

ROY
Hungry, Mr. Roosevelt?

FRANKLIN
Not really.

ROY
Who do you write to every morning?

FRANKLIN
Different people I knew in politics.
Just in case they ever want me back.

ROY
So you'll be ready when you get your
legs workin' again?

FRANKLIN
Exactly.

There is a knock at the screen door. An earnest young man,
BENJAMIN PRENDERGAST, 18, is peering in. He has a newspaper.

PRENDERGAST
Excuse me, are you Mr. Roosevelt?

FRANKLIN
Yes. Who are you?

Roy opens the door to Prendergast, who enters.

PRENDERGAST
My name is Benjamin Prendergast.
I've come to see if you could speak
at this year's graduation ceremony
at the schoolhouse. You being so
famous and all.

Prendergast unfolds the newspaper. There is a picture of
Franklin under the heading "FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT SWIMS HIS WAY
TO HEALTH!"

FRANKLIN
I'll be damned.

PRENDERGAST
Would you be available?

FRANKLIN
(looking up)
When? Next spring?

PRENDERGAST
Next week. We only have a four month
school year.

FRANKLIN
How is that possible?

PRENDERGAST
Tax dollars only cover that much.

FRANKLIN
Are you graduating?

PRENDERGAST
No, sir. I'm the principal.

FRANKLIN
I see.

But Franklin doesn't see.

EXT. SCHOOLHOUSE - DAY

A small breeze or a decent rain would knock it to the ground.

INT. SCHOOLROOM - CONTINUOUS

A bookshelf with four books.

A few FARMERS and their WIVES sit with large groups of filthy
children. They look at Franklin askance.

Prendergast stands proudly beside three GRADUATES-TO-BE. Tom
stands in the back observing.

Franklin, in his wheelchair, sits uncomfortably before the
gathering. He notices a FATHER staring at his legs.

PRENDERGAST
Now that we're all here let me
introduce to you to our guest speaker
today, Mr. Franklin Roosevelt.

FRANKLIN
Good afternoon.

A fly begins buzzing around his head. He laughs derisively,
almost to himself.

FRANKLIN
At Groton, where I graduated from
high school, our beloved Headmaster
encouraged his students to enter
public life...

He looks up and catches the glazed eyes of an undernourished
child which unsettles him.

FRANKLIN
I chose to attend Harvard for my
undergraduate work and then Columbia
for my law degree.

He takes in their uncomprehending expressions.

FRANKLIN
I followed my Headmaster's advice
and sought a career in public life.
But circumstances beyond my control
have made that... very difficult...

He stares at his tiny audience, all of whom know something
about circumstances beyond their control.

FRANKLIN
I've given many speeches in my life...
I don't know why I'm having such a
hard time making this one...

Horrified and unable to speak, Franklin seems temporarily
lost, but the tiny audience doesn't seem to notice. They
just see Franklin.

INT. TOM'S AUTOMOBILE - DAY

FRANKLIN
My God did you see how they were
looking at me?

TOM
They welcomed your company, Franklin.

FRANKLIN
Don't patronize me.

Tom is losing his patience.

TOM
Don't patronize them. These people
go to bed night after night with
half-empty stomachs -- your legs are
the least of their worries.

They continue to drive in silence.

EXT. POOL - DAY

It's a cold day and Franklin is swimming in the pool.

Roy is wearing a sweater. Aunt Sally is there, too, wearing
a patched up coat with a scarf around her neck. Tom is nearby
raking leaves.

AUNT SALLY
Mr. Roosevelt, aren't you cold?

ROY
Mr. Roosevelt, you're gonna catch
the chill if you don't get out of
the water.

Franklin ignores them and dips under the water as Tom comes
over.

AUNT SALLY
You got to tell him, Mr. Loyless. He
won't listen to us.

Franklin comes up from under.

TOM
Franklin, we need to talk... Normally
we close up this time of year and
the staff goes home for the holidays.

Franklin looks at Tom, then at Roy and Aunt Sally,
acknowledging.

The sound of a TRAIN WHISTLE is heard.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. HYDE PARK, NEW YORK - LIVING ROOM - DAY

The WHISTLE is coming from a MODEL TRAIN as it zooms around
a track set up on a table in the Roosevelt living room.
Elliot, now 15, is mesmerized.

Sara sits at a piano between FRANKLIN, JR., 9, and JOHN, 7.
They are finishing a rousing rendition of "Angels We Have
Heard on High" as an enormous Christmas tree gets decorated.
JAMES, 18, is at the top of a ladder while his sister, ANNA,
19, decorates from the lowest rung.

Eleanor holds up a tiny porcelain ornament to Anna.

ELEANOR
Grandmother Delano brought this from
China.

Franklin, working from his wheelchair is filling out the
lower branches of the tree, his lap filled with ornaments.

ELLIOT
Have you ever been to China, Father?

FRANKLIN
No, Elliot. Just your grandmama.

SARA
I adored China. It smelled of ginger
cookies.

FRANKLIN, JR.
Let's go in the backyard and dig our
way there!

SARA
That sounds like an adventure.

Anna looks over at her father, sadly and Franklin catches
her eye. She quickly looks away.

From behind his back, John, pulls out the Christmas star and
places it on his father's knee.

JOHN
Put it on top.

Silence descends over the room. No one dares to breathe.

ELEANOR
Give it to James. He's the tallest.

JOHN
No.

ANNA
John, give it to him!

JOHN
Papa always does it.

FRANKLIN
I can do it.

Franklin tosses the star in an attempt to reach the top. It
almost catches, but it falls to the floor.

Quickly, aiding to avoid his father's embarrassment, James
climbs back up and puts the star on top. Sara sensing the
awkwardness of the moment begins to play and sing an overly
cheery rendition of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."

INT. STUDY - LATER

Roy is spotting Franklin as he pulls himself along a set of
parallel bars. Eleanor observes as Franklin uses his arms to
drag his legs behind him.

ELEANOR
It was an extraordinary turnout this
afternoon. Louis says there were
over two hundred people in the
audience.

FRANKLIN
That's marvelous, Babs.

Eleanor is flushed with pride. Franklin, catching her look,
slips slightly on the bars as Roy grabs hold of him.

ROY
I've got you, sir.

Franklin then takes note that Eleanor's expression has turned
to one of pure heartbreak.

FRANKLIN
You wonder why I want to go back to
Georgia... it's to avoid people who
look at me the way you just did.

ELEANOR
You truly believe the waters...
(with difficulty)
...that they are helping?

FRANKLIN
Don't talk to me as if I were a child.
Choosing your words so carefully...

ELEANOR
How am I supposed to talk to you?

FRANKLIN
Like I was! Talk to me like I was!

Roy turns Franklin around on the bars and they begin walking
away from Eleanor.

ELEANOR
I don't know how anymore.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. COTTAGE - DAY

Franklin is being lifted out of Pete's wagon by Roy and placed
into his wheelchair. He sees Tom approaching.

TOM
You're a sight for sore eyes...

FRANKLIN
We missed you at the station...

The smile on Franklin's face slips to a look of shock as he
takes in Tom's changed appearance. His face is sallow and
his trademark white suit is hanging on him.

FRANKLIN
(concerned)
Tom, are you all right?

TOM
It's just an ulcer. I can't eat
anything I like anymore.

Roy carries the luggage into the cottage.

FRANKLIN
(covering)
My father had ulcers. Damn irritating.

TOM
Yes, they are.

A silence hangs in the air.

TOM
Ready to swim?

EXT. POOL - DAY

Franklin now dressed in his bathing suit is being wheeled by
Roy. Tom follows.

TOM
We've got some new guests. Some
paying, some non-paying...

As they get closer, Franklin is stunned by what he sees -- A
DOZEN PEOPLE -- all in different groupings -- some on
crutches, others in wheelchairs, are gathered around the
pool.

FRANKLIN
What in blazes?...

TOM
The interview you gave was syndicated
in Sunday papers all over the country.

Franklin looks up at Tom, dumbfounded.

TOM
They're here to see you.

This news hits Franklin with the force of a sledgehammer.
PAT DOYLE, 50, is stuffed into his wheelchair with a huge
cigar between his fat lips.

His eyebrows have a life of their own. He wheels himself to
Franklin.

PAT
Mr. Roosevelt, Pat Doyle. I've come
all the way from Minneapolis to shake
your hand, sir.

He reaches out his hand to Franklin.

PAT
Stuck in this chair I do nothing but
read. Newspapers, mostly. Usually
I'm just looking for something --
anything -- that'll tell me there's
even the slightest chance I'll walk
again.

Franklin is uncomfortable, especially as Pat won't let go of
his hand.

FRANKLIN
I really don't know what to say.

PAT
Well, you're here. And we're here.
Together... we'll think of something.

Franklin looks to Tom and gestures for him to come closer.

FRANKLIN
(whispering)
Get me out of here.

EXT. MERIWETHER INN - GROUNDS - DAY

Franklin is pushing the chair himself along the dirt path,
his anger propelling him away from Tom.

FRANKLIN
I want no part of this. I come here
for privacy!

TOM
This isn't your personal spa! I have
a business to run.

FRANKLIN
Exactly. You have a business to run,
not I!

TOM
No one's asking anything of you!

FRANKLIN
Of course they are!

TOM
Do you know what it took for most of
them to get here?

FRANKLIN
It's not my concern. I want to be
left alone!

TOM
My God, you're afraid of these people.

FRANKLIN
Afraid? What you're talking about?

TOM
You look at them with the same
repulsion and pity as everyone else.

FRANKLIN
Don't be ridiculous. I resent your
trying to --

TOM
You don't want to be around them
because then that would make you one
of them, wouldn't it?

Franklin furiously wheels himself back towards the cottage,
getting stuck on the dirt path along the way.

FRANKLIN
God damn it!

Tom comes to his aid but he is brushed off by Franklin.

FRANKLIN
Out of my way! Get out of my goddamn
way!

Franklin wheels himself off.

EXT. BULLOCHVILLE TRAIN STATION - DAY

Franklin, in his wheelchair, smokes a cigarette. His bags
are next to him, as is Roy. A train's whistle BLOWS and pulls
in.

ROY
Right on time.

Franklin sees someone else on the platform. He squints in
the distance. It's Tom.

He walks closer towards Franklin and Roy.

TOM
Good evening.

Franklin nods in Tom's general direction. Tom has a telegram
in his hand which peaks Franklin's curiosity.

FRANKLIN
Expecting someone?

TOM
Yes.

The train comes to a complete stop. A CONDUCTOR steps out
onto the platform. A single ELDERLY WOMAN gets off the train.

TOM
(to the Conductor)
I'm looking for a young gentleman by
the name of Botts. Fred Botts?

CONDUCTOR
Don't know anything about that.

TOM
I expect he would be in a wheelchair.

CONDUCTOR
You mean the cripple? He's in the
baggage car.

EXT. BAGGAGE CAR - DAY

Tom, Franklin and Roy are in front of the large door as the
Conductor pushes it back slowly.

INT. BAGGAGE CAR - DAY

Amongst crates and luggage is FRED BOTTS, a young man of
fifteen lying on the floor, unconscious. A wheelchair is
next to him, turned over on its side.

FRANKLIN
Mother of God.

Tom leaps up and into the car as does Roy leaving Franklin
below. Tom takes his wrist.

TOM
His pulse is slow.

EXT. STATION PLATFORM - DAY

Roy lays Fred on a bench. Franklin wheels himself over.

FRANKLIN
Son, can you hear me?

Tom brings a cup of water. Franklin puts it to Fred's lips.

FRANKLIN
Fred?

Fred opens his eyes. They are large and brown with a sweetness
to them. His face comes alive when he recognizes Franklin.

FRED
Mr. Roosevelt?...

FRANKLIN
It's going to be all right, son.

He hands Franklin a worn newspaper clipping from his pocket.
The headline reads: "FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT SWIMS HIS WAY TO
HEALTH!"

FRED
The conductor wouldn't let me ride
in the passenger car with my chair.

Franklin looks at the clipping, then at Fred.

FRANKLIN
When did you last eat?

FRED
Knoxville.

TOM
Knoxville had to be three days ago.

FRANKLIN
Roy, take him to the car.

As Roy lifts Fred in his arms, Franklin wheels himself to
the engine car. Tom follows as they approach the CONDUCTOR.

FRANKLIN
Who in their right mind let's a child
ride in the baggage car! You could
have killed that boy.

CONDUCTOR
He had polio. Probably still
contagious.

The Conductor walks away, dismissively. Franklin pushes his
chair up and stops the Conductor in his tracks.

FRANKLIN
Don't dismiss me because I sit in
this chair!

CONDUCTOR
Get away from me.

Franklin pushes the wheels of his chair with such force he
knocks the Conductor over.

FRANKLIN
You ignorant son of a bitch. If I
could, I'd get up right now and lock
you in that box car! See how you
like it!

TOM
Franklin...

The Conductor struggles to get up.

CONDUCTOR
Get this lunatic off me!

Franklin wheels himself towards Tom's car where Fred is now
lying across the back seat. The sight of Fred drains all
anger from Franklin's face.

FRANKLIN
Where's the nearest hospital?

TOM
Atlanta.

FRANKLIN
What about a doctor?

TOM
Closer, but not by much.

The train whistle BLOWS.

ROY
Train's ready.

Franklin looks at Fred, then at Roy and Tom.

FRANKLIN
(quietly)
Let's go home.

INT. COTTAGE - NIGHT

Fred lays in Franklin's bed while Franklin sits by the
bedside. Roy lays a cold compress on Fred's forehead. Franklin
is using his watch to take Fred's pulse.

Roy pulls back the sheet to give Fred air revealing his
withered legs. Alabaster skin stretched over bones. Franklin
looks away.

INT. COTTAGE - DAY

Franklin sits at a card table with his check book in front
of him. Tom stands before him, shifting uncomfortably.

FRANKLIN
How many can pay?

TOM
Fewer than half.

Franklin opens the check book and begins writing.

FRANKLIN
I want these people in the cottages,
not in the inn. It's safer.

TOM
Well, it's the way it has to be.

FRANKLIN
What do you mean?

TOM
I've already had some complaints.
(awkwardly)
This is the start of the season,
Franklin. I've got regulars who have
come for years. Healthy folks over
all... They're threatening to check
out, afraid they might catch polio.

FRANKLIN
Such ignorance! Don't they know that
after the fever breaks we are no
longer contagious?

TOM
I'm going to have to ask that you
not use the pool during regular hours.
I'll put time aside for you late in
the day... and it won't be possible
for you to eat in the dining room
either. But I promise I'll find
someplace suitable.

FRANKLIN
They don't want us to eat in their
presence?

TOM
Of course for you I can make other
accommodations.

FRANKLIN
(a beat)
That won't be necessary.

Franklin goes back to writing out the check. Tom stands
waiting, the sound of the pen scratching seemingly
interminable. Their mutual discomfort is obvious.

Franklin rips the check from the ledger and holds it for
Tom.

TOM
Thank you.

FRANKLIN
We still need a doctor here.

TOM
For Fred?

FRANKLIN
(pointedly)
For everyone.

EXT. COTTAGE - NIGHT

Franklin is in his wheelchair, writing.

FRANKLIN (V.O.)
"Dear Babs, Things are very different
upon my return."

INT. HYDE PARK - DAY

Eleanor sits in a chair reading Franklin's letter.

FRANKLIN (V.O.)
I am taking on responsibilities which
none of my schooling in the spheres
of higher learning or politics could
have prepared me for... I have seen
the casualties of war. But I have
never seen this, a suffering so
insidious, so silent, that it rattles
my soul."

INT. COTTAGE - NIGHT

Franklin is tucking Fred in for the night.

FRED
When can I swim?

FRANKLIN
Soon. When you're a little stronger.

FRED
When I'm asleep, in my dreams, I can
still walk.

FRANKLIN
Me too.
(a beat)
How long has it been... since you
walked?

FRED
Nine years. I'd just learned to ride
a bike. After I got sick my mom was
sure that the bike had caused it.

FRANKLIN
Did she sell it?

FRED
No. She took it out back and shot
it.

Franklin howls with laughter, joined by Fred.

EXT. POOL - DUSK

Franklin is in the pool with the new guests. They are all
nervously waiting to test the water.

From the looks on their faces it's clear they only want to
take their cues from Franklin.

A MOTHER carries her adorable 4 year old GIRL into the water.

FRANKLIN
And who is this delightful child?

DAISY
(giggling)
Daisy.

FRANKLIN
All right Daisy, try and kick your
legs.

Daisy wiggles back and forth in her MOTHER's arms giving it
her very best effort.

FRANKLIN
Excellent, Daisy!

JAKE PERRINI, 32, Bronx-born with an upper body of steel
wheels over to Roy who is fixing a wheelchair.

JAKE
Jake Perrini, Bronx, New York.

ROY
Roy, sir.

JAKE
How you doin'?

Jake reaches out his hand to shake. Roy is unsure what to
do.

JAKE
C'mon -- I won't bite.

ROY
(shaking his hand)
Mighty fine, sir. Mighty fine.

JAKE
Hey, would you mind pulling me outta
this trap, Roy? I wanna get airborne.

Roy gently lifts Jake up and out of his chair, into his arms
like a child.

JAKE
Do me one more favor? Throw me in?

Roy tosses Jake to the heavens and he SAILS through the air
emitting a jungle cry of pure emotional release before
SPLASHING down hard in the water.

He bobs up to the surface. There is applause.

FRANKLIN
Now folks, these exercises are of my
own devising so bear with me.

Some laugh, some are confused. This is new territory for
everyone.

FRANKLIN
My hope is that in repeating these
movements over and over in the water
I'm in some way causing the muscles
to regenerate themselves and repair
the damage.

He swims to the edge of the pool.

FRANKLIN
So everybody grab the edge of the
pool and move what you can!

They disperse, eagerly ready to do what Franklin tells them.

FRANKLIN
Go ahead now, do your best!

Their legs barely rise up to splash the surface. Undeterred,
Franklin leads them on, spiritedly.

In the distance we see Tom, leaning against a tree, watching
everything.

INT. DINING ROOM - NIGHT

Tom oversees the dinner service of paying guests -- none of
whom have disabilities.

INT. BACK ROOM - NIGHT

Segregated in a back room, all the polio guests are gathered
for dinner seated around a couple of sawhorses with old doors
thrown across them serving as makeshift dining tables.

Roy carries DAISY in and places her in the chair next to
Franklin.

FRANKLIN
Do you have a reservation?

She begins to giggle. It's infectious and soon everyone has
a smile on their face, overriding the awkwardness of the
situation.

FRANKLIN
Whether in here or our there, I
guarantee you the food will taste
the same... terrible.

DAISY
Shouldn't we pray first?

FRANKLIN
By all means. Would you do us the
honor?

Franklin bows his head for grace.

DAISY
Bless the food on our table. Keep us
healthy, strong and able. Amen.

ALL
Amen.

EXT. FACTORY - DAY

With Louis in tow, Eleanor is touring the exterior of an
ironworks factory. She is the only woman in a large gathering
of men.

ELEANOR (V.O.)
"My dear Franklin, I too am embarking
on an altogether remarkable
experience."

EXT. BUILDING - DAY

Eleanor stands against a banner that reads "CHILD WELFARE
LEAGUE." She is passing out pamphlets to a small crowd that
has gathered.

ELEANOR (V.O.)
"It seems everywhere I go there are
more people in dire need of help. It
would be overwhelming if not for my
deep belief that help is possible..."

INT. NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY - DAY

Eleanor is being introduced by Louis to members of the New
York State Assembly -- all men -- eager to shake her hand.

ELEANOR (V.O.)
"Louis's latest flash of brilliance
is to take me 'mainstream.' He said
that you would know what he means by
this."

EXT. POOL - DAY

Franklin is in the water. Roy lifts Fred out of his wheelchair
and gently puts him in the shallow end. Franklin receives
him. Fred's face is ecstatic as he floats on his back in the
water.

ELEANOR (V.O.)
"I hope you are finding your work to
be gratifying in both mind and heart.
Your beloved, Eleanor."

EXT. MERIWETHER INN - DAY

A very old car comes coughing in, steam hissing from its
engine.

HELENA MAHONEY, 43, gets out of the driver's seat. Her iron
will is matched only by her deep reserves of empathy. She
gets a good look at the Inn. This is what she has come for?

EXT. COTTAGE PORCH - DAY

Franklin and Roy, having finished lunch, are playing checkers.
Fred is sitting nearby eating a piece of pie.

Helena approaches. Roy pulls off a triple jump.

FRANKLIN
Damn!

ROY
King me.

Franklin reluctantly tops Roy's checker.

FRED
You're losing, Doc.

HELENA
Doc? I'm sorry, you're Franklin
Roosevelt, aren't you?

FRANKLIN
Depends.
(suspiciously)
Are you a lawyer?

HELENA
No.

FRANKLIN
Then Roosevelt it is. Wait!

He jumps one of Roy's checkers.

HELENA
I'm Helena Mahoney. I'm a physical
therapist.
(off their blank looks)
You have no idea who I am, do you?

FRANKLIN
Should I?

HELENA
I wrote you a letter right after I
saw the article in the paper. Didn't
you read it?

FRANKLIN
It got read, I assure you. But
probably not by me.

Helena glances down at the checkerboard and points to it.

HELENA
(to Roy)
He's open right there.

ROY
He sure is.

Roy trounces Franklin with three swift moves.

ROY
Thank you, ma'am.

Helena sits at the table with them.

HELENA
I've been studying the effects of
moist heat on polio patients and I
think with repeated exercise in warm
water...

FRANKLIN
It can help them regain lost strength.

HELENA
Yes.

FRANKLIN
Incredibly I've come to the same
conclusion myself.

HELENA
(a half-smile)
Well, you're the doctor.

EXT. MERIWETHER INN - DAY

Helena is wheeling Franklin around the grounds.

HELENA
No ramps, no running water, no
doctors... from the article in the
newspaper I assumed this was a
rehabilitation center.

FRANKLIN
Don't believe everything you read.

HELENA
I feel like I was brought here under
false pretenses.

FRANKLIN
Join the club.

INT. A BARN - DAY

Franklin lies across a makeshift examining table. Helena's
examination is in progress.

She is completely absorbed -- all business -- pouring over
his muscles inch by inch. She kneads, bends and stretches
them with a laser-like focus, finally picking up Franklin's
leg and rotating it out and around.

HELENA
Push against my hand.

Franklin, with difficulty, tries to do so.

FRANKLIN
Give me the good news first.

HELENA
Your gluteus maximus is better than
I hoped. It will serve you well.

FRANKLIN
Must be all that sitting.

HELENA
I'm serious. Your right leg has some
movement along the thigh. That's
good because we can use it to help
extend your hip, flex your knee and
rotate your tibia.

FRANKLIN
I'm supposed to walk on one side?

HELENA
The water may help build some strength
I'm not able to see yet. But to do
that you would need to swim in the
water much of the day. Not the limited
hours you have now.
(a beat)
Why should this place cater to a few
able-bodied folk when it could be
opened year round with polios?

EXT. MERIWETHER INN - DAY

Tom is pushing Franklin in his wheelchair.

FRANKLIN
There's a need for a place like this,
Tom. Are you aware that in the last
epidemic over 16,000 people got polio
in the New York area alone?

TOM
Sounds like you've been reading up.

FRANKLIN
I wish there was more to read. Damn
few things being written about any
of this. To think of someone like
Fred... locked away... his mind and
heart so vibrant...

TOM
It's a waste. An awful waste.

Franklin takes a beat -- the weight of this sinking in.

FRANKLIN
What's the acreage here?

TOM
Roughly twelve hundred or so. Why?

FRANKLIN
I want to buy it. I think it would
make one hell of an investment.

TOM
Investment?

FRANKLIN
Twelve hundred acres? Enough for two
resorts, don't you think?

TOM
It would take money. There's a lot
of land, rebuilding the inn, adding
ramps and so many people can't pay...

FRANKLIN
(undeterred)
Do you think old Peabody will sell?

TOM
He'll sell.

FRANKLIN
How can you be so sure?

TOM
Have you taken a look at this place?

INT. TOM'S OFFICE - DAY

Franklin sits in his chair at a desk.

FRANKLIN
(full of charm)
Peabody you old reprobate! How are
you?

Tom is pacing back and forth.

FRANKLIN
You'll never guess why I'm calling.

EXT. MERIWETHER INN - MAIN ENTRANCE - DAY

Helena is training a group of YOUNG MEN how to lift and carry
using a raven haired young woman, ELOISE HUTCHISON, 18, as
the test model. She sits shyly in her wheelchair before them.

HELENA
Woodhall, this is Eloise. Lift her
gently.

WOODHALL BUSEY, 17, has bright red hair and a face full of
freckles. Over six feet tall he has spent his life working
in the fields.

WOODHALL
Yes, ma'am.

He picks Eloise up effortlessly, then sets her back down.

HELENA
Very good! Watch her braces.

Woodhall kneels before Eloise like Prince Charming, carefully
straightening out her legs.

WOODHALL
You're light as a...

He notices the long jagged scars along Eloise's wrists.

Eloise, sensing his eyes, self-consciously pulls down her
sleeves. He stares at her questioningly.

ELOISE
(looking away)
I was a dancer...

Tom and Franklin come out. Franklin gives a questioning look
to Helena, pondering how these boys have suddenly appeared.

HELENA
Good news... I raided the pool hall.
I call them my Push Boys.

FRANKLIN
Welcome Push Boys! Good day, Eloise.

ELOISE
Hello, Mr. Roosevelt.

TOM
Want to tell them your good news?

Franklin is smiling like the cat that ate the canary.

FRANKLIN
It's hardly a done deal, but for
better or worse, you may be looking
at the new owner of this Godforsaken
place.

INT. COTTAGE - EVENING

A free wheeling game of poker. Heavy with cigarette and cigar
smoke, Franklin, Tom, Fred, Jake and Pat are playing.

PAT
Polio's always going to be a losing
financial proposition, but it doesn't
mean you shouldn't buy the place.

FRANKLIN
I am buying it. Make no mistake about
that.

PAT
Good for you, Doc.

FRED
If you don't mind my asking, how
will people pay for the services you
are going to offer here? Most people
with polio have a hard enough time
making ends meet as it is.

TOM
(gently)
The boy makes a good point, Franklin.

FRANKLIN
Not everything in this world has to
be about profits.

TOM
I'll see your twenty-five and raise
you twenty-five.

JAKE
C'mon will ya! The night's still
young.

TOM
It's twenty-five cents not twenty-
five dollars.

PAT
Don't mind him, Tom. He's a cheap
bastard.

Fred and Pat fold immediately as does Franklin.

FRANKLIN
Too rich for my blood.

JAKE
(to Tom)
Fine! Here's your twenty-five! You
better have something.

They eyeball each other. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

TOM
Take it. I was bluffing.

Gleefully, Jake slaps his hands together and rakes in the
pot.

PAT
(handing Franklin a
fresh deck)
Your deal, Doc.

FRANKLIN
Very well. Gentlemen, the game is
Five Card Stud, sevens are wild.

Everyone groans.

FRANKLIN
Sevens are wild and you can all go
to Hell!

EXT. MERIWETHER INN - GROUNDS - DAWN

The sun is about to rise. Tom's car is parked in front of
the Inn, pulled up very close to the main entrance. The trunk
is open.

Tom, struggling with a suitcase, comes down the ramp. He
deposits it in the trunk and then walks precariously back up
the ramp, having difficulty navigating the incline.

He goes back into the house for one last bag. When he comes
out, he's surprised by what he sees --

FRANKLIN (O.S.)
Where do you think you're going?

Franklin is being pushed by Roy in his wheelchair. They are
both dressed in pajamas and bathrobes, though Franklin has a
blanket around his shoulders to shield him from the morning
chill.

Tom is caught. This is everything he wanted to avoid.

TOM
Going to Asheville to see my parents.

From the sight of Tom's car stuffed with luggage, it is clear
he is not coming back.

FRANKLIN
I can't do this without you... we're
only just beginning.

TOM
You. You're beginning, not me.
(a beat)
I've got cancer, Franklin. It's spread
everywhere.

Franklin is stunned -- utterly thrown.

FRANKLIN
I... I'll take you to the best
doctors. We'll go to Atlanta right
now --

TOM
I've seen the best doctors. When you
were in New York they opened me up
for the second time. Now I just want
to die in the bed I was born.

Franklin is struggling with this.

TOM
You're going to do great things.
This place has an identity now -- a
purpose. It has you.

Any guard Franklin had is gone. He reaches out and takes Tom
by the sleeve slipping his hand into Tom's gripping it
tightly.

TOM
Take care of yourself, Roy.

ROY
God be with you, Mr. Loyless.

Tom takes one last look at Franklin.

FRANKLIN
You never pitied me. Thank you for
that.

TOM
On the contrary, I envy you.

FRANKLIN
I will miss you all the days of my
life.

Tom gets into his car and looks at Franklin with a smile.

TOM
Good luck, Franklin.

With a wave he slowly lurches down the long driveway and
turns onto the main road. Franklin watches the car until it
is out of sight.

INT. HYDE PARK, NEW YORK - LIBRARY - DAY

Sara paces wildly, waving a letter at Eleanor and Louis.

SARA
He wants to use his entire trust
fund to buy that... leper colony!

ELEANOR
Franklin has invited Louis and me to
see the work he's been doing.

SARA
(derisively)
Work! Playing in a pool all day long?
Squandering his birthright on a group
of fawning strangers? I consider
this your fault, Eleanor!

ELEANOR
I beg your pardon, Mama?

SARA
You have indulged him and this is
the result.

ELEANOR
(challenging her)
Indulged him? I have indulged him?

Sara looks away.

ELEANOR
He's a grown man who makes his own
decisions.

SARA
But he does not need to buy it.

ELEANOR
If it's of any comfort to you, I
agree.

LOUIS
I'm against it as well. It will
consume too much of his time and
energy.

SARA
Then it is settled. We tell him no.

ELEANOR
No, it is not settled. We must hear
him out. Louis and I must see for
ourselves the work that he has been
doing then we will all discuss this
further.
(a beat)
And tell him no.

They all look at each other for a moment. For once they agree.

SARA
Perhaps I have underestimated you.

ELEANOR
Perhaps you have. But that has been
my fault, not yours.

EXT. MERIWETHER INN - DAY

Fred, on crutches, swings himself up using one side and then
the next under Helena's supervision.

HELENA
Excellent, Fred! Keep going...

They are surrounded by many others, Franklin, Eloise,
Woodhall, Pat and Jake.

The BEEPING of a car horn gets their immediate attention.
Roy leaps off the porch, skipping the stairs as his brother
Pete drives up in Tom's car. He parks it and steps out.

PETE
Morning, Mr. Roosevelt.

FRANKLIN
Peter, what are you doing with Tom's
car?

PETE
I was as sorry as anyone to hear
about Mr. Loyless's passing. Wished
he coulda' lived to see this!

FRANKLIN
What are you talking about?

PETE
Mr. Loyless had me come up and fetch
this right after he brung it to
Asheville. "Pete, he said, "Take
this home and fix it up for Mr.
Roosevelt."

FRANKLIN
Pete... I can't drive a car.

PETE
You can now.

Roy opens the passenger door and lifts Franklin into the
driver's seat.

PETE
Get on in and I'll teach ya'!

He begins showing off a system of pulleys and levers that
have been attached to both pedals. They thread through holes
in a second dashboard, attached to polished wood knobs.

It's a hand-controlled automobile.

PETE
That one there is your brake.

FRANKLIN
Got it.

PETE
And this here's the gas.

FRED
Hot damn! You got hand controls.

PAT
That is a thing of beauty!

Franklin begins running his hands over the polished wood
knobs.

PETE
Now you got to push it real smooth
or it goes all herky-jerky.

Franklin excitedly turns the key and starts it up.

PETE
Wait, Mr. Roosevelt, you're not ready
to drive yet!

FRANKLIN
Oh, yes I am!

Franklin hits the gas as the car begins HALTING and JERKING
the whole way down the driveway. Pete is yelling out
instructions but Franklin ignores him.

They all watch as he pulls away.

As the car hits the end of the driveway Franklin reaches
across Pete and opens his passenger door pushing him out.
Franklin tears off alone -- out on his first solo spin.

OVER MUSIC:

EXT. COUNTRY ROAD - DAY

Franklin is driving by himself with the top down, thrilled
to be moving on his own. No one is pushing him. He's free.
The car covers miles of farmland, passing pine forests, peach
orchards and cotton fields.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. BULLOCHVILLE TRAIN STATION - MORNING

A spent and anxious Eleanor, with Louis in tow, stands on
the station platform, suitcase in hand.

LOUIS
It's a far cry from Grand Central
Station.

They are both silent for a moment.

ELEANOR
The wire said someone would be here
to pick us up.

The sounds of tires screeching and a car horn cause them to
turn around.

It is Franklin, sitting in the driver's seat of his car.

FRANKLIN
Your chariot awaits, Madame!

Louis promptly drops the luggage. Then he and Eleanor walk
over to the car, taking in the hand-controls.

LOUIS
When did you learn to drive this
thing?

FRANKLIN
Tuesday!

EXT. COUNTRY ROAD - DAY

Franklin drives wild and fast. Louis hat flies right off his
head. Eleanor just holds on.

EXT. MERIWETHER INN - DAY

Franklin, Eleanor and Louis pull up to the Inn. Though the
brush has been cleared and the trees are newly trimmed, it's
still a wreck. Franklin is too proud to concede Louis and
Eleanor's disappointment.

FRANKLIN
Can't wait to give you the tour!

EXT. GROUNDS - DAY

Franklin wheels himself along the circular driveway, pointing
things out, almost manic in his energy.

FRANKLIN
A small schoolhouse will go there.
We need it badly as many of the
children are barred from the local
schools due to their infirmities.

He points to a dilapidated gardener's shed.

FRANKLIN
We also require a blacksmith's shop
so we can craft braces here on the
premises. I've found a wonderful
local man who can make crutches and
canes. His work is outstanding. Of
course what is most desperately needed
is a hospital. That's going to put
my fund raising abilities to the
test.

Franklin wheels himself up a ramp to the Inn as Eleanor and
Louis follow.

INT. LOBBY - CONTINUOUS

Surrounded by peeling wallpaper and threadbare furniture
Eleanor and Louis exchange glances.

ELEANOR
What exactly are you proposing,
Franklin?

FRANKLIN
That this will be the first polio
rehabilitation and treatment center
in the world. My personal trust almost
covers the price of the Inn and the
surrounding land. There will be a
modest tuition charged to the patients
which should hold us over while I
seek out investors.

LOUIS
Franklin, you're risking everything
you have...

ELEANOR
And there are other costs to consider.

FRANKLIN
Mama will see that the children are
provided for.

ELEANOR
I'm not speaking of money.

FRANKLIN
I have found something here which
makes waking up in the morning
remotely bearable and the two of you
stand there...

ELEANOR
Franklin, I need for you to be
practical and realistic.

FRANKLIN
(furious)
Practical? I am trapped inside a
body that no longer moves of my own
volition. I am trying to be practical.
Now either you're with me or against
me. In or out!

ELEANOR
I don't care for ultimatums disguised
as debate.

Eleanor starts to leave.

FRANKLIN
Where are you going? Eleanor! Get
back here.

ELEANOR
I will see you gentlemen tonight.

She leaves.

LOUIS
You can't talk to her like that.

FRANKLIN
Oh really? Are you an expert on this
now? How should I speak to my wife,
Louis?

LOUIS
With the respect she deserves.
(a beat)
Look, I don't deny the work you're
doing here could be important --

FRANKLIN
Could be?

LOUIS
The issue is whether you want to run
a rehabilitation center or whether
you want to run for office again.

FRANKLIN
When I can walk, I'll run.

EXT. POOL - DAY

Eleanor approaches the pool. It is as quiet as a church. She
is stunned to observe over a dozen tables set up in the water.

On each table is a child or an adult polio wearing their
bathing suit. Next to them is a Physical Therapist also in
bathing attire conducting therapy. In hushed tones the
Physical Therapists encourage and work the distressed limbs
of the patients as Helena swims to each table overseeing the
work being done.

Eleanor sits down in a chair and watches fascinated.

INT. DINING ROOM - EVENING

The camera pans various tables revealing legs in braces,
legs in wheelchairs, shapely legs, flaccid legs, children's
legs... some reveal illicit romances, betrayed by secret
hand holding and hands on thighs.

Jake and a new physical therapist, MARY BETH, are particularly
cozy.

FRANKLIN (O.S.)
This is a very special night we're
celebrating. At last we are together
eating in this dining room!

The hands come up and out from under the table, applauding.

ON FRANKLIN

He is in his wheelchair dressed in a jacket and tie.

FRANKLIN
Now please join me in welcoming Miss
Jackie Mills, a new arrival along
with her father, Samuel, all the way
from Oakland, California.

CLOSE-UP ON JACKIE

Eight years old with black hair. Her legs are in braces and
she grips her father's hand tightly.

ON FRANKLIN

FRANKLIN
Let us also take this opportunity to
welcome our two able-bodied guests,
Mr. Louis Howe and my better half,
Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt.

ON ELEANOR AND LOUIS

Waving politely from their seats.

FRANKLIN
Now for the musical portion of our
program...

JAKE
Wait a minute! I can't let this
opportunity pass without saying out
loud what a lot of us feel in our
hearts right now.
(a beat)
You're a man among men, Franklin.

A WOMAN'S VOICE
And women!

DAISY
And children!

JAKE
(laughing)
It's a real democracy at Warm Springs --
everybody gets heard!
(to Franklin)
You listening?

Eleanor, seated next to Franklin, watches as Franklin, in a
rare moment of emotional nakedness, is at a loss for words.

JAKE
All right then, if I may do the honors
of presenting to you the lovely Miss
Eloise Hutchison of Cottage C.

Eloise wheels herself out. In a sweet, but untrained voice,
she begins the introduction to her song:

ELOISE
(singing)
"Think of what you're losing by
constantly refusing to dance with
me. You'd be the idol of France with
me. And yet you stand there And shake
your foolish head dramatically, While
I sit here so ecstatically. You just
look and say emphatically: Not this
season! There's a reason!"

Some members of the audience begin to smile, knowing what's
coming. Various STAFF step out from the kitchen to watch.

Eloise is joined by three others -- all of them in
wheelchairs.

ELOISE & CHORUS
(singing)
"I won't dance! Don't ask me! I won't
dance! Don't ask me; I won't dance,
monsieur, with you."

Simple, but clever choreography utilizing the wheelchairs,
has the audience cheering.

ELOISE & CHORUS
"My heart won't let my feet do things
they should do."

CHORUS
"You know what? You're lovely."

ELOISE
"And so what? I'm lovely."

CHORUS
"But oh! What you do to me! I'm like
an ocean wave that's bumped on the
shore; I feel so absolutely stumped
on the floor!"

This is too much for the crowd, including Franklin, Eleanor
and Louis. They laugh and cry in equal measure at the sight
of Eloise and her Chorus.

The song finished, Franklin quiets down the crowd.

FRANKLIN
Before we say good night, I understand
our Royal-Taskmaster-in-Residence,
Miss Mahoney, insists on having the
last word.

Helena rises from her seat.

HELENA
I don't think words describe
adequately what Daisy and I would
like to show all of you.
(calling out)
Are you ready, Daisy?

Daisy's mother, Cecile, carries Daisy to the center of the
room where Helena meets them. Helena bends down and removes
Daisy's braces.

The room is hushed.

Daisy then begins to WALK tentatively towards her mother.

ON FRANKLIN

Overwhelmed by what is taking place. He looks around and
takes in the sight of so many different faces...

Some are beaming, some are fighting back tears, some look
away... the sight of it almost too painful... a reminder of
their own private battles.

ON DAISY

Only a step or two away from her mother she FALLS the short
distance and lands in her mother's outstretched arms.

WILD CHEERS go up in the room while Daisy's face glows with
pride. She connects with Franklin, who matches her smile
with his own -- genuine and beatific.

INT. COTTAGE - BEDROOM - NIGHT

Roy lifts Franklin out of the wheelchair and on to the bed.
Eleanor enters holding a lit candle.

Roy is about to begin Franklin's bedtime routine, but Eleanor
gently reaches out and touches him on the arm.

ELEANOR
Let me.

Roy looks to Franklin, who nods it's all right, and exits.
Eleanor closes the door and puts the candle on the bureau.

After a beat, Franklin begins to unbuckle his pants. He then
lies back on the bed.

ELEANOR
What is your most pressing concern?

Eleanor kneels before him and tugs the pants down, slowly,
so as not to catch on the braces.

Eleanor folds the pants and carefully places them over the
back of a chair.

FRANKLIN
Getting a doctor to live on the
premises full-time. Someone who, at
the very least, could monitor our
progress. Make us legitimate.

She begins to take off Franklin's braces -- a series of
intricate buckles.

Eleanor slides the braces off his legs. His legs, though now
deeply tanned are withered and spindly. He is still wearing
his shoes.

ELEANOR
And that costs more money.

FRANKLIN
Yes.

Eleanor puts the heavy braces against the wall and kneels
once again to untie his shoelaces.

FRANKLIN
But the real problem is no one is
interested. The annual Orthopedics
Convention is being held in Atlanta
this weekend and I offered to speak.
(his anger surfacing)
They turned me down flat.

Eleanor takes Franklin's pajama bottoms off the bed and with
tender care pulls them up his legs.

ELEANOR
A few weeks ago, the conditions at a
garment factory on West 27th Street
were brought to my attention. The
owners claimed everything was
satisfactory, but would never let
anyone in to conduct a proper
inspection.

She reaches for Franklin's hands and pulls him up to a seated
position. They are now face to face.

ELEANOR
It took awhile, but we finally got
in.

FRANKLIN
We?

He searches her face for clues as to the woman she's become.

He starts to unbutton his shirt and put on his pajama top.
Eleanor sits in a chair across from him.

ELEANOR
I showed up with someone from the
Labor Board and we refused to leave
until they let us in.

FRANKLIN
What are you suggesting?

ELEANOR
At the risk of my good standing with
the Junior Assistance League, I
suggest we crash the party.

She stands and walks over to Franklin and runs her hand
through his hair.

ELEANOR
Good night, Franklin.

She goes to the door and opens it letting in a shaft of light
against the candle-lit room.

FRANKLIN
Good night, Babs.

She blows the candle out and closes the door.

EXT. ATLANTA STREET - DAY

Franklin's car pulls up to a massive stone building built in
Greek revival style. Franklin looks intimidated -- there are
two dozen stairs leading up to the main entrance.

EXT. CONVENTION CENTER - CONTINUOUS

Roy climbs the stairs like a stevedore with Franklin slung
over his shoulder. Using enormous force, Eleanor is pulling
the chair up and over each step while walking backwards up
the stairs.

INT. AMPHITHEATER - DAY

The stage is lit with a skeleton hanging on a stand and large
projections on a screen of spinal discs while a DOCTOR, in a
dull litany, intones a prepared speech.

DOCTOR
A clinical situation where the
radicular or nerve root is compressed
by the prolapsed disc is referred to
as a radiculopathy.

Double doors fly open with a BANG as all heads turn to see
Franklin and Eleanor.

ELEANOR
So sorry we're late!

FRANKLIN
Good afternoon!

Eleanor talks quickly while wheeling Franklin down the aisle.

ELEANOR
(introducing herself)
Eleanor Roosevelt, niece of the late
President Theodore Roosevelt and
this is my husband, Franklin, former
Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

FRANKLIN
(sotto to Eleanor)
Are you sure this worked on 27th
Street?

ELEANOR
(under her breath)
It seemed to at the time.

They reach the befuddled Doctor on stage whose name tag reads,
"Dr. Bissell."

ELEANOR
Thank you, Dr. Bissell for agreeing
to let us share the stage with you
today. It was so generous of you.

Dr. Bissell smiles limply, saving face. The audience vaguely
applauds. Franklin and Eleanor are now center stage.

ELEANOR
My husband, as many of you may have
read, is a victim of polio. However,
victim is only a definition, not a
state of mind. Franklin?

He looks at her completely amazed. Eleanor gives him an
encouraging nod to take over.

FRANKLIN
We all know that poor circulation is
a chronic problem for limbs damaged
by polio... I've never been able to
swim more than a few minutes without
becoming too cold. But there's a
place, gentlemen... a miraculous
place not three hours from here where
the water is filled with natural
minerals at a temperature of almost
90 degrees. That place, gentlemen,
is called Warm Springs.

CLOSE-UP

One DOCTOR in particular, 60's, leans forward in his chair,
listening with great interest.

FRANKLIN
Patients can stay in these waters
for up to an hour. This is essential
in allowing them the time to work on
strengthening their muscles.

ELEANOR
We have come to the shared conclusion
that research for the cause and the
cure for infantile paralysis is
paramount. However, until that day
arrives more emphasis has to be placed
on rehabilitation. We personally
invite you to Warm Springs to come
and take a look. Thank you.

ON THE AUDIENCE

These "men of science" are mesmerized by Eleanor's style,
both warm and immediate. She has disarmed them with her lack
of pretension.

ON FRANKLIN AND ELEANOR

Their two separate journeys intersecting -- lightning in a
bottle.

INT. LOBBY - DAY

There is a receiving line in place to get a last word or an
autograph with Franklin and Eleanor. DR. WILLIS, bespectacled,
speaks with them.

DR. WILLIS
I saw you speak at the Legion Hall
in Cleveland last Spring.

ELEANOR
For the League of Women Voters?

DR. WILLIS
You created quite a stir. Not sure
you'll be asked back.

Franklin is ready to intervene but Eleanor puts her hand on
his shoulder stopping him.

ELEANOR
(all smiles)
Well, I believe you must say what
you feel in your heart -- what you
feel is right, for you'll be
criticized anyway. Damned if you do --
damned if you don't.

DR. HEBERT, military in bearing -- the doctor who listened
so intensely -- steps up in line and shakes hands with Eleanor
and then Franklin.

DR. HEBERT
Dr. Peter Hebert. I've been doing my
own studies in this area. If it is
possible I'd like to come and make
an evaluation for the Journal of
Orthopedic Medicine.

Franklin looks to Eleanor, elated.

FRANKLIN
The sooner the better.

EXT. FRANKLIN'S CAR - TWILIGHT

Roy is fast asleep tucked around the wheelchair in the back
seat.

Franklin smiles in Eleanor's direction. She looks back at
him shyly and smiles in return. But her expression changes
when she sees something in his eyes -- something she hasn't
seen for a long time.

ELEANOR
What is it?

FRANKLIN
(a beat)
Who are you?

Franklin reaches out and takes her hand, pulling her close.

He stretches his whole arm around her and places her hand on
one of the driving knobs, his hand on top of hers.

ELEANOR
I don't know how to drive.

FRANKLIN
I'll teach you.

They operate the car together -- their connection complete.

EXT. TRAIN STATION - DAY

Franklin and Eleanor are sitting in the front seat of the
car. Louis is already up on the train platform.

ELEANOR
I'll break the news to Mama.

Franklin smiles as they look at each other like two naughty
children.

ELEANOR
I think it's going to be fun.

Eleanor bursts out laughing, Franklin joins in.

FRANKLIN
Babs... words fail me.

ELEANOR
You? Franklin Roosevelt?

She leans in and kisses Franklin on the mouth.

ELEANOR
I do so love you.

She slides out of the car and goes up to the platform and
boards the train while Franklin watches her.

A Farmer and his Wife from the school house graduation
approach Franklin.

FARMER
Mr. Roosevelt you lookin' mighty
fit.

FARMER'S WIFE
Fine day, isn't it.

FRANKLIN
It is. How's the Boll Weevil
situation?

FARMER'S WIFE
I expect the Boll Weevil is always
gonna be a situation, Mr. Roosevelt,
but thanks for askin'.

Franklin's energy and vitality are infectious. The politician
within him is being reborn.

INT. TRAIN CAR - DAY

A beaming Eleanor sits down next to Louis. He too is looking
very pleased. Eleanor takes notice.

ELEANOR
Why do I get the feeling we're not
smiling about the same thing?

The train begins pulling out.

They both look out at Franklin. Locals are coming up to his
car surrounding him -- he is a magnet.

LOUIS
He's ready.

INT. STATE ASSEMBLY, N.Y. - VIEWING SECTION - DAY

Louis is seated in the front row of the balcony of the State
Assembly, his feet up on the railing, eating pistachio nuts.
Also seated are two politicos, JAMES HASTINGS and STEPHEN
TELLER.

HASTINGS
You can't kiss babies from a
wheelchair. It'll scare their mothers
half to death.

TELLER
Al Smith's got a lock on the
presidential nomination.

LOUIS
Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't
you think even after all these years
that old Al's still a little rough
around the edges?

They laugh knowing this is a huge understatement.

LOUIS
Franklin can help soften his image.

HASTINGS
How?

LOUIS
Let him put Smith's name in
nomination.

Teller and Hastings are none to sure.

TELLER
Well, he is a helluva speech maker.

HASTINGS
Yeah, but is your man up to it?

LOUIS
It's in the bag, guys. Count on it.

Bluffing is one of Louis's strong suits and it looks like
they're buying it.

Just then, Louis notices a familiar face down on the floor.

LOUIS
Hey, Stansbury, give my best to the
Misses!
(to Hastings and Teller)
He's lost weight. Must've been the
prison food.

INT. MERIWETHER INN - HALLWAY - MORNING

A line stretches outside with patients waiting to be seen.
Among them is Franklin, chatting with everyone else, expecting
and receiving no priority attention.

INT. MERIWETHER INN - DAY ROOM - MORNING

Dr. Hebert is examining Daisy. Helena is by his side, filling
him in on her case history.

INT. MERIWETHER INN - NIGHT

Helena, dressed in a robe, walks the halls of the Inn.
Something is amiss.

EXT. GROUNDS - NIGHT

An empty wheelchair, illuminated by a sliver of moonlight.
On a blanket nearby are Jake and Mary Beth.

She unbuttons his shirt and runs her hands over his
impressively developed upper body. They begin to kiss
hungrily, passionately -- completely in their own world.

Several yards away, across the lawn, Eloise is in Woodhall's
arms -- they are dancing. He is singing softly into her ear
as they sway, her feet never touching the ground.

INT. MERIWETHER INN - NIGHT

Helena, in a nightgown, is looking out a window into the
distance. Fiercely protective and slightly envious of her
charges, she pulls a pack of cigarettes from her bathrobe
pocket and steals a solitary smoke.

EXT. COTTAGE - NIGHT

Franklin seated alone on the porch in the darkness. He drags
on his cigarette and the red glow illuminates the contours
of his face in repose.

FADE OUT:

INT. MERIWETHER INN - FRONT DESK - DAY

Franklin is on the phone. Roy stands by his side.

FRANKLIN
Hello, Souders. How are you?...
Couldn't be better. I was wondering
if you'd found a buyer for my naval
prints?
(clearly not)
I see. Well, they're in marvelous
condition... All right, Souders. Oh
one more thing... I have some
beautiful pieces of my Grandfather's --
T'ang Dynasty... Really?... An auction
in the Fall? That sounds promising.
I'll be in touch.

Franklin hangs up and sits deep in thought. He rubs his
perspiring forehead with the back of his hand. He looks down
at his hand and sees that it is shaking.

EXT. GROUNDS - DAY

Franklin is walking on crutches aided by Roy. Nearby, a group
of children practice on parallel bars with Helena.

FRANKLIN
What am I going to tell these people
if I have to close things down?

ROY
That you did the best you could.

Franklin gives Roy a look of gratitude, then notices Lionel
approaching with his mail bag.

Lionel hands Franklin a fistful of open envelopes.

FRANKLIN
Any good news?

LIONEL
Creditors are gettin' cranky.

FRANKLIN
The operative word was good.

LIONEL
Oh, yah, almost forgot. The doctor
that came and studied ya'll sent his
report.

Lionel offers up the envelope, but then pulls it back before
handing it over.

LIONEL
Save me the stamps?

Franklin nods then grabs it from Lionel. He rips it open and
begins devouring the report.

FRANKLIN
(reading)
"...therefore, in conclusion, my
research has shown that the
overwhelming majority of patients
here have shown some improvement.
Enough for me to recommend warm water
therapy as the standard post polio
treatment to the Orthopedics Society
of America!"
(he grips Roy's arm)
Roy!

Something catches Franklin's eye and his smile begins to
fade.

ROY
What is it, sir?

INT. COTTAGE - NIGHT

Helena entering the cottage.

HELENA
It's not as bad as you think.

Franklin slams the door behind her and wheels over to the
table. He throws back a drink -- clearly not his first.

FRANKLIN
Read it. Out loud. Page twenty-nine.

HELENA
I already...

FRANKLIN
(angrily)
Read it!

HELENA
"Of the twenty three patients examined
only one, a forty-four year old male,
showed little visible signs of
improvement..." This is one doctor's
opinion, Franklin.

FRANKLIN
Keep reading.

HELENA
"There is marked falling away of the
muscle masses on either side of the
spine in the lower lumbar region.
His lower extremities present a most
depressing picture."

She brings the pages down, but Franklin gestures her to
continue.

HELENA
"I feel after studying him that the
psychological factor in his management
is paramount. He has such courage
and ambition. Yet at the same time
he is such an extraordinarily
sensitive emotional mechanism...

It is difficult for her to continue.

FRANKLIN
Please.

HELENA
... that it will take all the skill
which we can muster to lead him
successfully to a recognition of his
severe physical limitations without
crushing him."

FRANKLIN
Patronizing son-of-a-bitch! I wanted
to walk again.

HELENA
And you still might. This report
legitimizes we've worked so hard
for. We can raise funs now. It could
change everything!

FRANKLIN
It won't change anything for me.

HELENA
Franklin, I won't play this game. I
won't feel sorry for you.

He reaches for the bottle, but Helena grabs on to it, stopping
him.

HELENA
I met a boy today, ten years old.
He's paralyzed from the waist down.
Why don't you go regale him with
vivid tales about your trips to Europe
and playing football at school. Tell
him how you courted your wife and
fathered children. Tell him of a
life he can only dream of.
(a beat)
I can't help you out of a hole if I
climb in with you. Then we're both
stuck.

INT. MERIWETHER INN - FRONT DESK - DAY

Fred, wearing a bow tie and an oversized jacket, is proudly
polishing off a desktop sign that reads: "FRED BOTTS: DIRECTOR
OF ADMISSIONS."

Helena is behind him reading a file.

LIONEL
(entering)
Here's another one he's refusin'.

He throws a telegram onto an already large stack.

HELENA
Why don't you read it?

LIONEL
Don't like telegrams. All them STOPS
and stuff.

HELENA
Make you dizzy, Lionel.

LIONEL
A little bit.

Fred eyes the telegram, then impulsively grabs it, ripping
it open.

FRED
"Would be honored if you place my
name in nomination for President.
STOP. The party needs you. STOP.
Yours sincerely, Al Smith."

LIONEL
Who's he?

HELENA
The Governor of New York.
(handing it to Lionel)
Why don't you slide it under his
door?

LIONEL
All right. Probably slide it right
back.

Lionel leaves. Fred and Helena are silent for a moment.

FRED
He won't go. He doesn't want to be
seen walking on crutches or being
wheeled to the podium.

HELENA
The millions listening on radio won't
be able to see that.

FRED
But all the people at the convention
will.

Helena nods, "That's right."

CUT TO:

INT. COTTAGE - AFTERNOON

Responding to a knock at the door, Roy gets up from sitting
on the couch with Franklin, sullen and inattentive.

He opens the door to Louis who walks right in.

ROY
Good afternoon, Mr. Howe.

LOUIS
Hello, Roy.

Roy takes his hat and coat and exits to the bedroom.

LOUIS
I can't believe you've made me come
all the way back to this hell hole!

FRANKLIN
I've done no such thing.

LOUIS
I'm here to take you to Houston. You
started your speech yet?

FRANKLIN
I'm not going.

He stares at Franklin, drinking. Shaking his head, he goes
over to the sidebar and pours one for himself.

LOUIS
You know what this is, don't you?
It's a golden opportunity. A
springboard for you to run for
Governor.

Franklin is silent. Frustrated, Louis takes a seat in
Franklin's empty wheelchair.

LOUIS
Ever hear of a Civil War General
named Francis Nicholls?

FRANKLIN
No.

LOUIS
Well, I never heard of him either.
But this was one brave son-of-a-bitch.
Fought for the Confederacy and lost
his left arm in one battle and his
left foot in another. Then after the
war he ran and won the Governorship
of Louisiana -- twice!

FRANKLIN
He was a war hero.

LOUIS
(with emphasis)
Twice.
(a beat)
Look, I've worked like a dog to keep
your name in play, grovelling at the
feet of the powers-that-be in back
rooms.

FRANKLIN
As much for you as for me.

LOUIS
I'll be damned if I'm going to let
you pass up a chance like this. It's
time -- and you're ready.

EXT. COTTAGE - AFTERNOON

Waiting on the porch are Eleanor and Helena, who are seated,
talking. Louis exits the cottage, defeated.

LOUIS
Your turn.

Eleanor rises and goes into the cottage as Louis takes her
seat next to Helena.

INT. COTTAGE - CONTINUING

ELEANOR
Roy, so good to see you.

ROY
Very good to see you, Mrs. Roosevelt.

She approaches a surprised Franklin. Leaning in, she runs a
hand across his stubbly beard. He looks up at her.

ELEANOR
You're a mess.

FRANKLIN
The report. I'll never...

She sits by his side and Franklin begins to cry. His sobs
grow louder connecting to the despair deep inside him. It
unleashes an avalanche of grief.

ELEANOR
Oh my darling...

FRANKLIN
I'm useless, Eleanor. I feel so
useless.

ELEANOR
That's not true. No one can make you
feel inferior without your consent.

Finally, his sobs subside.

ELEANOR
You have done a brilliant thing here --
a magnificent thing.

Eleanor picks up the doctor's report and puts it in the fire.

ELEANOR
Let's get you in the water.

EXT. THE POOL - DAY

Franklin is wheeled down to the pool by Roy and Eleanor.
When they get closer, Franklin makes out someone already
swimming.

ELLIOT
Hi, Pop!

FRANKLIN
(squinting)
Who's that?

ELLIOT ROOSEVELT is now 17 years old. He has his mother's
enormous blue eyes and his father's natural charisma.

FRANKLIN
Elliot!

ELLIOT
Come on! You getting in?

Louis and Helena approach the pool.

FRANKLIN
I sense a conspiracy.

LOUIS
You ain't seen nothin' yet.

Franklin smiles, warily.

EXT. A CLEARING - DAY

Elliot is climbing a rope dangling high from a tree as
Franklin and Eleanor look up at him. Franklin is standing on
crutches.

Elliot descends with a flourish as Helena approaches Franklin
with a single cane.

HELENA
Franklin, let go of your crutches.
You're not going to need them.

FRANKLIN
What?

HELENA
We're going to make your arms function
as your legs.

FRANKLIN
How is that possible?

HELENA
Elliot, go to your father and stand
on his left side.

ELLIOT
Think this may work, Pop.

HELENA
Eleanor, take the crutch.

Eleanor takes one crutch as Helena takes the other, replacing
it in Franklin's hand with a cane.

Then, with Elliot on Franklin's left side she bends Elliot's
arm at a right angle, like a parallel bar, and hooks
Franklin's left arm around his.

Going over to Franklin's right side she puts a cane in his
hand.

HELENA
(to Franklin)
Now use your right shoulder and pull
your left leg forward.

He does so.

HELENA
Good! Now with the muscles in your
left shoulder, pull your right leg.

FRANKLIN
One small bump and I'll land right
on my keister!

HELENA
That's what Elliot is for. He's going
to hold you up. Hitch your leg! Come
on!

Franklin and Elliot attempt to walk. It requires immense
strength and effort on both their parts.

HELENA
(ever the taskmaster)
Elliot, don't lean in -- stand up
straight. Pull against him. He needs
you!

After one or two steps the enormity of it overwhelms Franklin.

FRANKLIN
I can't.

ELLIOT
I'm strong, pop. You can't hurt me.

HELENA
You can do this, Franklin! Keep going!

They start the walk again. It's awkward... difficult... but
it's working.

LOUIS
(under his breath)
I'll be damned.

Franklin stops, exhausted.

ELEANOR
Franklin, are you all right?

FRANKLIN
I'm fine. I'm just...

Roy runs in with a chair and helps Franklin into it as Helena,
Eleanor, Louis, Elliot and Roy all look at him, concerned.

HELENA
This isn't a replacement for the
real work we're doing to get you on
your feet again, understand? No one
is throwing in the towel or even
agreeing with that doctor's report...

FRANKLIN
I know, I know.

HELENA
I know it's not practical --

FRANKLIN
No, it's not.
(a beat)
It's political.

Franklin looks at Louis, then to Eleanor, and realizes that
this could be it.

EXT. GROUNDS - AFTERNOON

Franklin and Elliot are walking. Helena is close behind,
coaching.

HELENA
Use Elliot, not the cane. Switch
your weight to Elliot... good! Keep
your head up.

Off to the side Pat, Jake, Eloise, Woodhall and Daisy are
having an informal picnic, observing Franklin.

ELOISE
Why is he working so hard to hide
it?

JAKE
He doesn't have a choice.

ELOISE
Oh, I disagree.

JAKE
How can you disagree? "There but for
the grace of God goes us," that's
what they're saying. As if our bodies
is who we are, but it's not. It's
our souls is who we are, but they
don't know that.

ELOISE
I wish he could just wheel himself
out there in front of everybody.

PAT
He can't do that Eloise, it's
politics.

JAKE
It's not gonna matter if he hides
his legs as long as he don't hide
what he knows. And what he knows is
what it's like to be one of us.

Franklin, getting closer, raises his cane in greeting.

FRANKLIN
Good afternoon, everyone!

Off-balance Franklin goes down hard bringing Elliot down
with him.

Eleanor, Louis and Roy all rush to his aid, but Helena is
there first.

HELENA
Take a moment to catch your breath...

FRANKLIN
Damn. You okay son?

ELLIOT
I'm fine, Pop.

DAISY
You fell down.

FRANKLIN
Yes, I did, Daisy. Twelfth time today.
Must be a new record!

Daisy laughs as do the others, though some can't hide their
concern.

Franklin struggles hard as Roy and Elliot help him to his
feet.

INT. COTTAGE - NIGHT

Eleanor is packing Franklin's suitcase while Franklin, sitting
up in bed dressed in pajamas, works on his speech.

FRANKLIN
(reading aloud)
And so America must find...
(reconsidering)
No, America needs a pathfinder...

Louis, pacing in shirtsleeves, nods approvingly.

LOUIS
That's good.

FRANKLIN
To emblaze the trail along a high
road that will avoid... avoid the
bottomless morass...

Discouraged, Franklin pushes aside the pages.

LOUIS
What is it? What's wrong?

FRANKLIN
What if I fall... trying to get to
the podium.

LOUIS
If you fall, you show them how to
get up.

FRANKLIN
No, if I fall in front of thousands
of people I lose everything but their
pity.
(a beat)
They'll be writing my obituary before
I get up off the floor.

LOUIS
Elliot won't let you fall, he'll be
there. All the arrangements have
been made, boss. It'll be fine.

FRANKLIN
Who are we fooling? This will never
work. They'll never let me back into
politics. They'll never see past my
legs.

ELEANOR
My darling, they'll never see past
your legs unless you do.

EXT. MERIWETHER INN - MORNING

Franklin is settling into the driver's seat of his car, aided
by Roy. Eleanor is seated next to him; Louis and Elliot in
back.

Franklin's attention is diverted by something he sees straight
ahead.

It is the entire Warm Springs group coming down the driveway
in chairs and on crutches.

All the patients, the Push Boys, the physical therapists,
Helena, Jake, Fred, Aunt Sally, Eloise and Lionel.

FRED
Don't worry, Doc -- we're not coming
with you.

FRANKLIN
Oh, you'll be with me. No question
of that.
(a beat)
I am proud more than you will ever
know to be part of this community.
(his voice growing
stronger)
A community based not on birthright
or privilege, but on compassion and
courage. The true power of these
waters is that they brought us all
together. Our ability to help one
another is what will make our victory
over polio endure. Our ability to
survive... despite the odds.

Franklin looks out at the sea of faces.

FRANKLIN
What we have done and will continue
to do until this disease is defeated
is come together -- like a family --
and do what we do best...
(his voice breaking)
Lift each other up.

Franklin starts the car as the crowd begins to disperse.
Then, spying Helena, Franklin calls out to her.

FRANKLIN
Miss Mahoney I need to speak with
you, please.

HELENA
Sure, Doc.

Off her smile, Franklin reaches into his pocket and withdraws
a small box.

FRANKLIN
Thank you.

He hands it to Helena. She just stares at it, at a loss for
words.

FRANKLIN
Open it.

She does so, tentatively, revealing a ladies watch.

HELENA
It's beautiful.

FRANKLIN
Don't wear it in the pool.

HELENA
I'll try not to. Good luck, Franklin.

FRANKLIN
I'm throwing myself to the wolves.

HELENA
You've faced worse. And if they bite,
you can come back here.

FRANKLIN
I'll always come back here.

Helena steps away and Franklin pulls out and down the
driveway.

CUT TO:

INT. HOUSTON TRAIN STATION - NIGHT

Dark and deserted Roy is carrying Franklin down a flight of
stairs. Louis is hastily checking over his shoulder. If
possible, Eleanor appears even more nervous than Louis.

FRANKLIN
You're being superstitious, Louis.
There aren't any reporters here.

Suddenly out of the darkness a FLASHBULB POPS revealing a
dozen or more REPORTERS staring incomprehensibly at the sight
of a six foot, 200 lb. man being carried like a baby in the
arms of a black man.

No one does or says a thing. The PHOTOGRAPHER who had the
wherewithal to snap the one picture raises his camera to
take another.

But DAN REED, a reporter for The New York Herald Tribune and
a gentle giant at over six foot-four, reaches out and places
a massive hand over the lens.

Slowly, but firmly, he pulls the camera down.

REED
(quietly)
No.

Louis and Eleanor stand stock still, tense, watching the
scene unfold.

Roy is sweating; his arms growing weak. Elliot brings the
chair around and Roy gently lowers Franklin into it. It's a
measure of Reed's standing with this group that his authority
is unquestioned.

But the Photographer raises his camera again. Only now Reed
isn't as kind. He grabs the camera from him and opens the
back, pulling out the film and exposing it.

PHOTOGRAPHER
Hey!

REED
(tipping his hat)
Good to see you, Mr. Roosevelt.

FRANKLIN
Thank you.

INT. CONVENTION HALL - HOUSTON - NIGHT

The enormous arena is empty but for some maintenance WORKERS
and JANITORS. Louis enters and makes his way to the stage.

He approaches dead center and stands behind the podium looking
out. GRIPPING the podium hard he ROCKS it back and forth.

Taking no chances, he pulls a hammer out from the rear of
his waistband and a bunch of nails from his coat pocket.

Looking around to see if anyone is paying any attention to
him he quickly ducks down behind the podium.

The sound of HAMMERING fills the hall as Louis, on his knees,
NAILS the podium to the floor.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. CONVENTION HALL - DAY

Twenty thousand CONVENTIONEERS are roasting in the hall. It
is Houston in the summer and it's broiling hot. A sea of
handheld red, white and blue fans are being waved all at
once -- most bearing the words "SMITH FOR PRESIDENT."

Near the stage is a long table where the new breed of RADIO
REPORTERS are seated, each in front of a primitive looking
microphone.

Hovering in a group off to the side are Dan Reed and the
REPORTERS from the previous night.

INT. BACKSTAGE - CONTINUING

Franklin is standing ramrod straight holding onto Elliot's
arm. He looks handsome in a navy pin-striped suit. As everyone
else is sweating no one notices that Franklin is perspiring
more than most.

FRANKLIN
Where is she seated?

Louis, a human train wreck himself, reaches over to mop
Franklin's brow with a handkerchief.

LOUIS
In a box stage left. Give me your
hand.

Franklin takes his hand off his cane. It's soaking wet. Louis
wipes it, gently.

FRANKLIN
Louis, what the hell am I doing?

LOUIS
Putting your big toe in the water.

Just then, a VOICE booms out from the loudspeakers:

LOUDSPEAKER (V.O.)
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like
to introduce to you a man who as
Assistant Secretary of the Navy served
our country with distinction. A member
of an illustrious family of long-
standing political commitment to our
great nation... Ladies and gentlemen:
Franklin Delano Roosevelt!

Franklin turns to Elliot and they both take deep breaths.

FRANKLIN
(to Elliot)
Let's go.

The curtains part and they begin moving forward.

INT. THE STAGE OF THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION - CONTINUING

A BLINDING SPOTLIGHT picks up Franklin and Elliot. The
SPOTLIGHT follows them as they make their way to the podium.

Franklin is hitching each leg forward, slowly. The tip of
his cane hits the floor with pinpoint accuracy for balance
and support.

He leans heavily on Elliot's arm. The walk appears effortless.
He chats with Elliot the whole way, still managing to flash
the CONVENTIONEERS his million dollar smile. But the walk is
slow and the ovation is beginning to fade.

INT. BACKSTAGE - CONTINUING

Louis stands in the wings clutching the curtain with one
hand and covering his eyes with the other.

INT. DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION BOX - CONTINUING

Eleanor sits looking down at her lap, afraid to even breathe.

INT. THE STAGE - CONTINUING

Franklin and Elliot are still ten steps away from the podium.
Sensing the crowd noise weakening, he whispers to Elliot.

FRANKLIN
Laugh as if I'm making a joke.

Elliot throws back his head and laughs. The crowd, wanting
to be in on it, rise as one in a sustained CHEER!

But a puddle of sweat caused by the dripping perspiration
from Franklin's hands is causing the tip of his cane to slip.
Elliot, ever aware, grips him tighter, averting disaster and
finally they reach the podium.

Franklin grabs one side of the podium while Elliot, with a
sleight of hand Houdini would admire, LOCKS his father's
braces, whisks the cane away, pulls his father's speech from
his breast pocket and lays it smoothly on the podium.

THE VIEW FROM BEHIND displays how Franklin's legs are spread
wide for stability as he clutches the podium. He holds on
tightly, as if the wood might snap from his grip.

FROM OUT FRONT the crowd sees only a powerful man standing
tall amidst the flashbulbs POPPING.

Franklin has made it. He is home.

INT. MERIWETHER INN - LOBBY - CONTINUOUS

All the denizens of Warm Springs are crowded around the radio.

RADIO ANNOUNCER (V.O.)
Here on the stage is Franklin
Roosevelt... a figure tall and proud
even in suffering; a face of classic
profile; a frame nervous and yet
self-controlled. A man oftened,
cleansed and illumined with pain.

INT. WARWICK HOTEL, HOUSTON - SMITH'S SUITE - CONTINUOUS

GOVERNOR AL SMITH, 51, is seated by a radio, surrounded by
CRONIES. An overblown Irishman with gold capped teeth and
heavy New York accent. He chomps on a lit cigar that never
leaves the side of his mouth.

CRONY #1
Hell of an ovation, Al. Couldn't
have asked for anything more.

Smith sits silently puffing on his cigar.

CRONY #2
You may have to be careful though.
Looks like you're raising up a rival.

SMITH
(after a beat)
Mark my words. He'll be dead in a
year.

INT. DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION BOX - CONTINUING

Eleanor applauds Franklin as a REPORTER leans in.

REPORTER
Mrs. Roosevelt, one last question.

ELEANOR
Yes?

REPORTER
Do you think polio has affected your
husband's mind?

ELEANOR
(smiling)
Yes, I do. I certainly do.

INT. CONVENTION STAGE - CONTINUOUS

Franklin stands before the crowd. His magnetism is
incontestable. He radiates infinite possibility.

He looks up to Eleanor's box and they smile at one another
as the crowd continues to applaud.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. WARM SPRINGS - DAY

The mineral springs gently ripple as Franklin appears in the
water. As the following words appear on the screen, Franklin
slowly and confidently swims out of frame.

CRAWL

Four years later, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected
President of the United States. He was elected three more
times -- unprecedented in U.S. History.

During his years as President, he saw the country through
the Great Depression and a world war waged on six continents.

On April 12, 1945, in the thirteenth year of his presidency,
at the age of sixty-three, Franklin Roosevelt died in his
cottage at Warm Springs.

The beneficiary of his $562,000 life insurance policy was
Warm Springs... which continues to flourish as a
rehabilitation center to this day.

THE END

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