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Murder in a Small Town top navigation

Murder in a Small Town

The Screenplay.

MURDER IN A SMALL TOWN

Can't wait to see the show? Here's a sample of Gene Wilder's screenplay, but we've removed the ending.

If you'd like to download the script, click here (for PC, use your right mouse button; Macintosh users should click and hold) - select "save this link as.

PART 1
OVER BLACK WE HEAR

A jazzy combo from the late 1930's, playing something full of bounce and pep.

FADE IN:

JIMMY CAGNEY'S SMILING FACE (from a black & white 1930's gangster film).

CREDIT SEQUENCE BEGINS

As the song continues, we see"

CLARK GABLE, all smiles and charm.

Then a 30's film clip of HITLER. Not a ranting and raving lunatic, but a charming Hitler (maybe something from the '36 Olympic Games.)

And now, black and white clips of our favorite movie stars of the late thirties: MYRNA LOY, looking seductively at WILLIAM POWELL, or BOGART (as a villain). JEAN HARLOW trying to seduce someone - maybe PAT O'BRIEN or SPENCER TRACY. MARGARET SULLIVAN crying over JIMMY STEWART; CAGNEY SHOOTING BOGART. And, not to be left out ... GEORGE RAFT.

We see VIOLENT SHOOT-OUTS, ROMANTIC CLOSE-UPS, PRISON CELLS and brutal MURDERS.

As the song nears it's end:

William Powell, with tears in his eyes, puts out his hand to say farewell to Clark Gable, before Gable walks the 'last mile' to the electric chair. ("Manhattan Melodrama")

Pat O'Brien walks alongside Jimmy Cagney, as Cagney walks the 'last mile' to the electric chair. ("Angels With Dirty Faces")

During this last film clip, the song ends and we hear the SOUND of a movie projector.

CUT TO:
INT. DARKENED THEATRE - 1938

A SHAFT OF LIGHT coming from the projector.

C.U. - LARRY 'CASH' CARTER

A man in his mid-fifties. His eyes are intense as he watches.

ON SCREEN

Cagney leaving Pat O'Brien and walking with the guards towards the 'chair'

ON CASH

As he HEARS Cagney pretending to be a coward and screaming for his life:

CAGNEY (O.S.) No, please! Oh please, I don't wanna die. Please, Oh God, PLEASE! Don't let me die.(etc.)

The LIGHTS ON CASH DIM and FLICKER as Cagney is being electrocuted. (We can't ever see the electric chair because the Hayes Office wouldn't allow it in those days.)

SLOW DISSOLVE TO:
EXT. MOVIE THEATRE - STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT - 1938 - NIGHT

A storm is brewing. STRONG WINDS and the beginning of RAINDROPS as people exit the theatre.

CASH comes out of the theatre, passing a LARGE POSTER of Cagney on his way to his car. He buttons up his overcoat and tugs his hat down.

The WIND seems to blow him down the dark street as he passes in and out of SHADOWS from the street lamps.

END OF CREDIT SEQUENCE
DISSOLVE TO:
EXT. THE EDGE OF A WOODS - EARLY MORNING
MUSIC suggesting VIOLENT EMOTIONS

The WIND from last night has become more violent as it blows late September leaves into fierce swirls. The camera follows the LEAVES as they fly and twist ... bringing us eventually to:

EXT. SIDNEY LASSITER'S STUDY - DARIEN, CONNECTICUT - 1938

The leaves slap against a large ground floor window of the study - cling there for a moment - and then move on. We stay to watch - through the window - as a tall, powerful man in his early sixties, SIDNEY LASSITER, waves a letter in his hand and screams at his very handsome and very frightened 23 year old son, ALBERT.

Albert is near tears as his father whiplashes him with words, (which we can barely hear against the sound of the wind and the continuing music.)

SMASH CUT TO:

INSIDE STUDY - LASSITER'S FACE

LASSITER
YOU'RE WHAT? YOU'RE JUST WHAT?

ALBERT
I'm just -- trying to be honest with you, for maybe the first time in my life.

LASSITER
HONEST? I READ THIS FILTH IN A LETTER --

ALBERT
(trying to interject) That was my letter --

LASSITER
-- AND YOU'RE TRYING TO BE HONEST? YOU WANT TO THROW YOUR LIFE AWAY ON THIS PIECE OF SCUM AND YOU THINK IF YOU TELL ME ABOUT IT - THAT MAKES IT HONEST?

ALBERT
That was my letter, dad.

LASSITER
You're my legacy -- do you understand that?

ALBERT
Yes, I do.

LASSITER
You say you're in love? -- I SAY YOU'RE SICK! -- And I'm not leaving my fortune and my business for the benefit of some gold digging scum who's no better than a whore!

ALBERT
Dad, please --

LASSITER
A WHORE!

LASSITER
Now listen to me: You give up this person or you'll get nothing from me. Not a penny! I swear to God.

ALBERT
Oh Dad ...

LASSITER
I'll give you 'til tomorrow to decide. Now get out of here -- I've got to go to work.

ALBERT
May I have my letter? ...

LASSITER
I said get out of here.

Albert, trying not to cry, rushes out of the room, almost bumping into the Butler - CHARLES, a good looking, cocky, olive complexioned man in his thirties.

Charles watches from outside the study door as Lassiter rips the letter in half, and then in half again and tries to rip it even more. He throws all the small pieces into his wastepaper basket.

DISSOLVE TO:
INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT

A cheaply attractive woman sets a bag of groceries down in a large, obviously lower class 1930's kitchen.

She takes off her autumn raincoat, opens a closet door and reaches for a hanger. As she is hanging up her coat we see a pair of man's shoes, off to one side. As the woman walks away - leaving the closet door open - THE SHOES MOVE slightly.

The woman closes her refrigerator door - having put away some groceries - and takes off her blouse. She has a beautiful body.

IN THE CLOSET we travel up from the man's shoes, past some clothes, to the MAN'S EYES - staring out at her.

The woman turns on the faucet over her kitchen sink, takes the cap off of a large bottle of shampoo, fills it and pours it over her head. She begins to lather her hair.

The man comes out of the closet. He has a thin body and a hard, bony face. His hair is close cropped. He very quietly locks the door leading to the outside.

The woman's hair is full of lather.

The man lifts a rosary off of a small statue that sits on a sideboard.

The woman sticks her head under the water and begins rinsing as the man approaches behind her. He takes the towel near the sink and throws it to the floor. He opens a drawer and pulls out a LARGE BUTCHER'S KNIFE.

The woman reaches for the towel, can't find it, and begins blindly reaching all around her. The man dangles the rosary in the path of her hands. When she feels the beads she lets out a startled cry, clutches the beads nervously and looks up - trying to wipe her eyes with her arm.

WOMAN
Johnny ...? Is that you, Johnny?

THE MAN
Hello Esther.

WOMAN
What're you doing Johnny?

THE MAN
Got a heavy date tonight?

Next

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