Brown Paper Bag (2019) Script

(moody piano music)

I always wanted to be in the movies.

I was almost a star. (chuckles)

Almost.

Then something happened that took my dream away.

(lively jazz music)

[Woman] I liked standing, I thought it was romantic.

If you think I was gonna let some guy run off with my girl while I fight a bunch of crabs, you must be dizzy.

Well, every gal wants a guy that's gonna sacrifice himself for her, it's romantic.

You see, that's the problem.

Bogart used to play the tough guy, now he just plays a sap.

Well, you're my tough guy.

Hey, what're you doing in here?

I'm talking to you.

Get outta here, go on, go.

People gotta learn their place.

(car door closes)

(chuckles) Hey, don't look now, but I think I see Mona Lane sitting over there in a booth drinking a milkshake.

Where? I said don't look.

(chuckles) I don't want you to embarrass me.

And I think I see Jimmy Stance over there with her.

I've read that those two are an item.

I guess it's true.

Movie stars are people just like us, they've gotta put their pants on one leg at a time, just like me.

Hey, I told you to get outta here, boy.

Oh, don't shoot.

(gun fires)

[Narrator] That's how things went down at the Moonlight Cafe, the night Mona Lane got kidnapped by a gang of Negros.

Or at least that's how the newspapers told it.

But we got plenty of time to get to that.

This story is as much about me, as it is about her.

(upbeat piano music)

(gun fires)

As a kid, I could still remember goin' to the pictures, watchin' gangsters and cowboys on the big screen.

I wanted to be up there, bigger than everyone.

Bigger than life, on top of the world.

(guns fire)

I always liked pretending to be other people.

That's me, Archie Glass.

Just a few months from hoboing my way from Georgia.

It wasn't long before I found myself on Central Av.

The center of Negro life in Los Angeles.

I fell in love with Los Angeles that night.

I started busing tables, then worked my way up to doorman at the Dun Bar Club, which was the hottest spot in South LA.

Every night was like a party.

You never knew who would walk in.

Leroy Tucker was a black man from Compton, who had Indian in him from his momma's side.

It was enough for him to pass as Mexican, and get work as an outlaw bandit in westerns.

Big Nadine Lomax worked a lot.

Whenever the studios needed someone to play a maid, they called Nadine.

She played maids in so many pictures, they gave her an Oscar for it.

These people?

No one cared about them in Hollywood.

They were overlooked, or they was just a butt of jokes.

But down on Central Av, they were treated like stars.

There was magic in every gesture they made.

Every smile was a window into a new kind of freedom.

And the biggest of them all?

Ennis Matthews.

They called him the brown clown, he had a series of short films where he played America's favorite Negro clown.

Ennis always dressed sharp, and smoked these fancy cigars from Cuba.

I looked up to him.

I wanted to be just like him.

What's your name, kid?

[Archie] Archie.

Archie Glass.

Well, Archie Glass.

You don't look like a man who wants to be a doorman all his life.

I wanna be like you.

I wanna be in the pictures.

I got a hot tip for you, if you want it.

Sure, I mean...

Yes.

Go down to Central Casting.

They got a new Negro office open.

Tell 'em I sent you.

They're lookin' to put colored folks in movies.

Thank you, thank you.

I just need one break, mister. (moody jazz music)

One chance to do something big in this world.

If you give me that chance, I promise you, I promise you, you won't be sorry.

Wait.

Is that a gun?

Why are you pointing a gun at me?

Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang!

(chuckles) Look at me, Ma, I made it!

Top of the world!

Are you going to keep playing gangster in that mirror?

Or are you gonna come over here and keep me warm?

(chuckles)

[Archie] The first time I saw Sandra, was standin' outside the Dun Bar Hotel.

She was like a peacock struttin' down the street.

She sang four nights a week at the Foxtrot Cafe.

I'm not sure what was sweeter.

Her voice on stage...

Or her kisses in bed.

That was real fine, baby.

You sure know how to make a fella feel good.

You're a good sweet talker.

I'm a good actor.

I mean, I'm a doorman right now, but, I'm gonna be in the pictures soon.

I can't believe I hopped in bed with an actor!

(laughs)

My mama would whoop me good!

What's wrong with being an actor?

Nothin'!

If you're Clark Gable or Betty Davis.

Then you could be a pirate or a princess, or even a cowboy.

That come and save the day.

But, if you are black,

the movies is just like real life.

You're just the maid or somebody's go-fetch boy.

I know there ain't a lot of work for a Negro man, but that's gonna change and when it does, I wanna be the first.

You're gonna be waiting a long time for that.

Not for too long.

I got me an audition at Victory Studio.

They're lookin' for Negro actors.

Soon, you're gonna see my name at the Ricaknie.

"Archie Glass, the greatest American actor alive."

(both chuckle)

(jaunty piano music)


(knocks)

Come in.

Sit down.

What's your name?

Glass, sir.

Archie Glass.

How'd you hear about this job?

Fella I met in a bar said y'all was lookin' for black folks, so I figured I fit the description and came on over.

So, here's the skinny, okay?

The studio wants to start usin' Negro folk instead of white actors who are dressed up as Negros in makeup.

Now, a lot of good white actors have lost their jobs because of it, but, what the studio wants, the studio gets.

All right?

Turn to your right.

Look up.

The other side.

Oh, okay, you look black enough to me to be a real Negro.

I'm a man, sir, and an actor.

Not a hothead, are you? No, sir.

I don't need any hotheads.

No? Okay.

Okay, you ever been in front of the camera before?

Have you ever acted?

A little, sir, one or two church plays.

Well, I've seen eight other guys just like you today.

What makes you different than them?

When I was a little young pup, I got myself in some trouble, wind up in jail.

I was in there with grown men and I wanted to cry every day.

I was afraid, but I couldn't let them see that.

So, I guess, sir, I can say I've been actin' my whole life.

Yeah, well, you're not gonna be doin' any Shakespeare.

All right?

Just a line or two here and there, keep the story moving around, keep the audience laughin'.

Got it? Yes, sir.

You know how to read?

Yes, sir.

All right, read this.

When you're ready.

"All the world is a stage, "and all the men and women, merely players.

"They have their exits and an entrance.

"And one man plays many parts."

Not bad for a colored.

I mean, you've gotta hear the guys comin' here.

I don't understand a damn thing they're sayin'.

Okay.

Take this slip down to wardrobe.

They're gonna get you fitted for a porter uniform.

And then I want you to come back here, tomorrow.

Stage seven at 6:30 AM.

Got it? Yes, sir.

Thank you, sir.

You won't regret it. Oh, I know, go.

Next.

(peaceful piano music)


Cheers.

(Sandra chuckles)

[Sandra] Oh, Donny!

How are you?

I'm better now.

Where have you been keeping yourself?

I haven't seen you at the club in a week.

Oh, I've been around.

Donny, this is Archie Glass.

Like I said, where have you been?

I thought we had a good time the last time we went out.

Who is this clown?

Keep your cool, nigga.

This is a nice place, for nice folks.

(Sandra chuckles) It's always my pleasure.

(chuckles)

I said, who was that?

That's Donny Obrex.

He leads the orchestra that I used to sing in.

He's been wantin' me to get back with the band.

I think he wants more than that.

We were together once.

Before you came along.

So, tell me, how did you get the part?

What did you do to beat all those other guys that were better than you?

I just told that fat cat casting director what he wanted to hear.

And what was that?

A sob story about having to pretend to be other people in order to survive when I was young.

It wasn't true?

Sure it was.

(chuckles)

You're awfully good at play acting.

But sometimes, I wonder.

Who is the real Archie Glass?

Hey.

I see somebody at the bar I know.

I'll be right back, baby.

Hey, Ennis!

Hey, I owe you a drink.

That tip you gave me really paid off.

I'm in a movie now.

It's a small part, but it's a start.

And I owe it all to you.

Congratulations.

What's your name again?

Archie Glass.

To Archie Glass!

The greatest actor, on Central Avenue.

Come on, Ennis, we gotta go do that thing.

Man, get your stuff, let's go.

(upbeat jazz guitar music)


(jazz piano music)


All right, camera rolling? Cameras are rolling!

Sound speeding?

Actor ready?

Okay, now listen, all you need to say is, uh, "I don't know, boss, I thinks this place is haunted!"

Okay?

And action!

I don't know, boss, I think this place is haunted.

Cut.

All right, I think that was swell.

Okay, let's try another one.

This time, I want you to say, um, "I thinks this place is haunted and I'm afraid of ghosts!"

Action!

I thinks this place is haunted and I'm afraid of ghosts.

All right, all right, that was great.

Now, try this one on.

"I is afraid of ghosts.

"I think I might get so scared, I may just turn white!"

(chuckles) Give it all you got, all right?

And action!

I is afraid of ghosts.

I get so scared, I think I may just turn as white.

(chuckles) And cut.

Good, good, good, all right, all right.

They definitely brought us the right boy for the job.

You know, this is the first time not using a white man with blackface.

Think I like using a real Negro.

All right, great.

Next scene, okay.

(jazzy piano music)

Hungry?

(chuckles)

That's all right.

Tell me your favorite song. (chuckles)

What do you think you're doin' there, boy?

Get away from that gal. I ain't done nothin', sir.

Just me and the girl, we're just right here sharing a laugh.

I saw you--

[Archie] I was just sharing a piece of fruit.

You callin' me a liar, boy? (lively percussion)

[Archie] Punching a white man would get you hung in the South, and though I was far from home, if you stepped outta line in Hollywood, there would be somebody to put you back in place.

(groans)

Like Mr. McCoy.

The singer who liked dark rum and white gals, until he was found in bed with a producer's wife.

(gun fires)

Three days later, he was washed up on a beach with his throat cut.

Then you had Lenore Carole, who was about to marry leading man Danny Faroe until he discovered his bride-to-be was half-black and crushed her skull with a golf club in their living room.

The judge let him go on a technicality.

But I was lucky, all they did was give me a beatin' and throw me off the lot.

I had been blacklisted. (moody jazz music)


Mister, you got a light?

No.

Well, gee, it look like somebody done stole your lunch.

Something like that.

How about...

You buy Sugar a drink?

And I'll help you forget all about it.

(rooster crows)

(rooster crows)

(Archie groans)

This road you're going down is not an easy one.

You have to show the world that you are a man, and that you have the humanity that can mirror all men.

That is your job as an actor.

You desire.

You sacrifice.

You love.

You hate.

You hurt.

You bleed.

You live.

You die.

Mr. Glass, would you like to share with the class today?

We're all just here wasting our time, and you know it.

They don't care about who we are.

[Teacher] Mr. Glass, don't leave.

(moody jazz music)


(upbeat piano music)


[Radio Host] I hope you are enjoying another cool and sunny day in California.

The US Army wants you to be vigilant.

Japan has spies everywhere.

Remember, if you see something, say something.

In other news, don't count on seeing Hollywood starlet Mona Lane on the streets of Tinsel Town anytime soon.

Victory Studios says she has eloped to Mexico.

No word if it's with Bo Jimmy Stance, who is she is often seen with.

Support the war effort and buy bonds.

These streets are hard for a man.

I thought you was gonna be a big movie star one day.

What happened?

Got tired of playin' the butler?

I'll tell you what, though.

Everything you hear ain't true.

They talkin' 'bout that girl Mona goin' to Mexico.

She ain't in no Mexico, she got into trouble, messin' with them bad boys down on Central.

If she kidnapped, I'll eat my shoe.

Whoa, whoa, wait, wait, wait, go back, go back.

What did you just say?

I'll eat me shoe. No.

About the actress.

That girl ain't in no Mexico.

She got in a fix with some fellas I used to know.

(suspenseful percussive music)

(man coughs)

(man coughs)

What's your name?

Archie Glass.

[Man] You know who I am?

You're Jack Wingate, head of Victory Studios.

I got something you want.

Something you're looking for.

I told you he's some sort of nut-job.

Let me bust him up some more, and I'll go throw him down a hole in the desert.

Do that, you'll never find Mona Lane.

And what do you know about Mona Lane?

[Archie] I know she's not down in Mexico getting married.

(Jack chuckles)

The town talks.

It's not just gossip.

And you're hiding it from the press, but once word get out, everybody's gonna know.

And what is it that you want?

I'm an actor.

Or at least I was, until I got blacklisted.

I need you to take me off the blacklist, so I can work again, or better yet, put me in one of your pictures.

Why would I wanna do that?

I can find Mona Lane for you.

Why the hell would I need you, when I have my own security staff?

Where you need to go, these big ugly white men are gonna stick out like a sore thumb.

[Jack] And where is it that I need to go?

Down in South Los Angeles.

A place I'm pretty sure you've never been.

Can you read?

[Archie] Yes, sir, I can read.

[Jack] This was left on my doorstep last evening.

"If you are reading this, "then you already know that Mona Lane is missing.

"We will kill her if we don't $10,000

"by the day after tomorrow.

"Leave the money in a brown paper bag at the bus stop

"at Central and Jefferson, do not delay in payment, "if you want to see her alive again."

(Jack coughs)

It seems that Miss Lane got herself into trouble frequenting jazz clubs.

And Miss Lane likes a certain kind of company.

(coughs)

I don't follow.

She likes Negro men.

Now, the studio has invested a lot of resources and money, into the image of Mona Lane.

She's one of our up and rising stars.

I can't risk her image to be tarnished by people thinking that she's a nigger lover.

Do you follow me now, Mr. Glass?

(coughs)

Yeah.

I guess I do.

If you can do what you say, I'll reward you.

I'll take you off that blacklist, and I'll put you in one of my films.

Now, you call when you find her, and O'Neal here will go and fetch her, before some rogue reporter with an itch to make a name for himself can write about it.

Can I trust your word? (Jack chuckles)

That's a funny thing to ask a man.

Yes, you can trust me.

Then you have a deal.

Just one thing.

[Jack] Yeah, what's that?

Why don't you just pay the kidnappers?

I'm pretty sure you can afford it, and you got plenty to spare.

Let me tell you something.

I am not about to let some hoodling gang of Negros think that they can boss me around.

They won't get a wooden nickel out of me.

Do you follow me now, Mr. Glass?

Yeah.

I guess I do.

Glass.

You find the girl, I'll deal with the coked-up coons.

If you're so bad, why don't you just find her yourself?

Just because the boss made you a promise, doesn't mean I won't knock out some of your teeth along the way.

I'll be waiting for your call.

(moody jazz music)

♪ Crazy ♪

♪ I am ♪

♪ For you ♪

♪ You make me feel good ♪

♪ Yet I am still blue ♪

♪ I want ♪

♪ More ♪

♪ From ♪

♪ You ♪

(Archie claps)

Sam?

Give me 10.

Where have you been?

You think you can just disappear on me and come back whenever you want?

I just been trying to figure some things out, that's it.

Oh, well why don't you go talk to your girlfriend about your problems?

I don't have a girlfriend.

I mean, you're the only one I wanna be with.

I think you're my girlfriend, I mean--

You sound confused.

Go get yourself a drink.

It just ain't fair what they did to me.

This world ain't fair.

And you'd better get used to it.

There ain't nothin' fair about this town.

I need to borrow your car.

My car?

For what?

I got a chance, a second chance, really.

A shot at the big time.

[Sandra] What are you talkin' about, Archie?

I can't tell you everything right now, but I need to find this white gal.

(chuckles) A white girl?

When I was in lockup, there was this old black Joe, and I reckon he was some kind of actor or somethin'.

'Cause at nighttime, he would recite these plays,

and I would close my eyes and imagine all the people and the places this old buster used to talk about.

So, when time come again and I'm free, I say I'm going to Hollywood to become an actor.

That's my dream.

And if findin' this white gal for some old cracker's gonna get me closer to that dream, then damn it all.

Damn it all.

Who knows?

I could become a star.

(Sandra chuckles)

A star?

(chuckles) Now I know you're dreamin'.

I'm just asking you just to trust me a little bit.

(chuckles) You are not the only one with their back against the wall.

We all have hard choices that we have to make.

(sighs)

I have to go.

[Sandra] I know.

You're chasing a girl, when you have one standing in front of you.

(upbeat piano music)

[Archie] Nadine was a gossip hound.

She knew who was sleepin' with who, when and where.

People liked tellin' her secrets, I was hopin' that someone had whispered in her ear about Mona.

How'd you get in here? The gate was unlocked.

I rang the bell, but no one answered.

Who are you?

I'm Fattius Quickstep, I'm with the Hollywood Negro Press, and I have some questions I wanna ask you about an article I'm writing.

An article! (chuckles)

Why didn't you say so?

You sayin' something about doing a story on me?

[Archie] A feature.

A feature!

Yes, we have some questions your fans would like to know.

Go on.

What's your favorite color? Pink.

But that's too racy, so let's just say yellow.

What's your favorite flower?

Roses, of course.

Martini? No, thank you.

I never drink on the job.

Shame.

[Archie] Who is your favorite actor to work with?

I don't wanna get in any trouble, so, let's just say all of 'em.

That's fine.

So, tell us, what do you like to do on your typical Friday night?

Well, me and my girls like to go out.

Hm.

Where?

Over on Central Avenue.

Dun Bar Hotel.

That place really swings.

You've been seen with your gal pal, Mona Lane.

Tell us about you guys' friendship.

I met Mona on a night out.

She likes jazz and so do I, so we hit it off fine.

Mona Lane has not been seen out on the town lately.

Do you happen to know where she is?

Say, I thought this story was supposed to be about me.

It is, Miss Lomax.

We just have to answer questions for our readers.

You're no reporter.

Hey, didn't you used to work the door down at Dun Bar?

Okay.

I'm gonna shoot it to you straight.

Mona Lane's gone missing, I've been hired to find her.

[Nadine] Missing?

We believe she's been kidnapped.

Who's "we?" The studio.

The studio hired a nigga to find a white girl?

They think she's been kidnapped by a trumpet player that plays down on Central Av.

I thought you might know something about it.

You're kinda cute.

I'll tell you what you wanna know for a kiss.

(moans)

(clears throat)

So...

This trumpet player, what's his name?

Tweet Jackson.

That's his name.

He's from somewhere back east, but, who the hell isn't in this town?

That's all you know about him?

Where does he live?

(Nadine chuckles)

You wanna know more, Mr. Fattius Quickstep, you're gonna have to meet me in my bedroom.

(jazzy piano music)


All I know is that he play that horn so well, it's like he put a spell on a woman.

He run with a rough crowd, though, so, he plays an angel, but he's still a nigga from the street.

[Archie] Is that all you got?

For you...

I got a lot more.

Come on, mister.

Everybody want me to make them laugh, and make them forget about they troubles, forget about they pain in life, but what about me?

I need somethin', too.

I need to feel good, too.

(doorbell rings)

[Man] Mona!

Who is that?

[Man] Mona!

Sounds like Jimmy Stance. (doorbell rings)

He got a crush on Mona somethin' bad.

The studio set 'em up on a date, just for publicity.

Ever since then, he thinks Mona's really his girl.

Why the hell he come here?

He been lookin' all over town for her.

[Jimmy] Hey, Mona?

I guess he finally made it here.

The boy's in love, I guess.

He must have really fallen for her.

[Jimmy] Mona?

I don't have the heart to tell him that it's not real.

Well you better tell him somethin', before he knock your gate down.

Mona, are you in here? Please do somethin'.

(suspenseful percussive music)

Mona.

Mona.

Hey, where is she, where's my Mona?

I know you know where she is.

She ain't here.

I don't believe you, and you know what, boy?

I'm not gonna leave until I find her.

Suit yourself.

(Jimmy yelps)

I left Nadine's house no better off than when I came in.

Strike one, I had aimed high and missed.

Now it was time to aim low.

Blackie Philips was an old actor who came up through Vaudeville.

He played every type of song and dance you could think of.

In his day, he had starred in over a dozen movies.

But when his knees went bad and he couldn't dance no more, his Hollywood career was over.

Now in his old age, he kept a quiet card game in the back of his house behind the kitchen.

The only way I know to make some real money in this world is workin' on them trains, being a porter.

That's good money.

I'd rather be a porter in pictures than to be one.

Them white boys want a man to bend over too much.

Hell, I've been in 15 pictures.

Been a busboy, a shoeshine boy, a train porter.

Don't matter the part, I always say the same thing.

"Yes, sir, boss.

"You sure is right, boss.

"I don't know, whatever you say, boss."

Cut the shit and give me a card.

I've been in all three Tarzan movies, and all I ever say is, "ooga booga booga."

But me, I don't care.

Damn monkey get more lines than I do.

As long as they pay me at the end of the day.

Just make sure they don't pay you in bananas.

'Cause you know, if they could, they would.

Damn, must be exciting being in the pictures.

You fellas get to be right there with the movie stars.

Tell me, what is it like workin' with James Cagney?

Cagney?

Yeah, he's all right.

Sold him some reefer once.

Where'd you say you was from again?

Just got off the bus from Walla Walla, Washington.

Thought I'd see the ocean before I die.

How'd you hear about our card game here?

Somebody in Walla Walla must have a big mouth.

No, fella I met named Tweet, forgot his last name.

Oh, Jackson, that's it, Tweet Jackson.

Man say he play the horn.

Told me about this here card game.

Thought I'd try my luck.

Yeah, well, your luck ain't so good today.

(chuckles)

How about this horn player, Tweet Jackson?

You fellas know where to find him?

You ask questions make people nervous.

You sound like the police.

Just that he owe me money from a pool game, that's all.

That right?

I beat him three games out of five, last Tuesday.

He owe me £23.

That's a lie.

Tweet Jackson wouldn't be there last Tuesday, all day.

Then it must Wednesday I'm thinkin' of, yeah. (chuckles)

Try again, mister.

Aw, hell, I don't know what day it was.

I just know the nigga owe me money.

Cut the bullshit, motherfucker, who the fuck are you?

And don't tell me no tales, 'cause you might just get your face blown off.

So you don't blow me face off.

Let him go, Slick.

I ain't never had no man killed here before, and I ain't gonna start now.

I keep a nice quiet card game.

The last man who got shot in my place was shot by me.

So, mister, you got some place to be, I'd be gettin' there, if I was you.

I'll leave.

I just need a question answered.

Have you seen Tweet Jackson?

You want somethin' from me?

This world turns off everybody gettin' a piece.

I gotta eat, too.

The last time I seen Tweet, he was talkin' about makin' some money, said he had to go meet some white broad.

He was acting crazy.

This white broad, you ever see her?

Yeah, this one time, she was in the car with him.

Saw her from the across the street, she didn't get out.

This her?

Yeah, that's her.

Pretty as hell, look like a movie star.

Where Tweet stay at? I done said enough.

All right, he always with another horn player at the Cadillac Club playin' pool.

Horn player, what horn player?

Nigga named Booker.

He got a process and always wear yellow.

The Cadillac Club, huh?

Yeah, that's all I know.

[Blackie] Mister Walla Walla?

Mm-hm?

Your time is up.

You got to go.

(tense percussive music)

See y'all in the funny papers.

Where Tweet stay at?

[Slick] He always with another horn player at the Cadillac Club, playin' pool.

What horn player? Nigga named Booker.

He got a process and always wear yellow.


What you following me for?

Hey, I'm Archie Glass.

[Man] Nigga, I don't know you.

Yes, well, I'm with the Samwel Insurance Company.

Insurance?

Yes, I'm in charge of finding family members who have money coming to them from recently-deceased relatives.

What the hell are you talkin' about, man?

I'm talkin' about a check, a check, which I'm tryin' to put into the hands of one Tweet Jackson.

You see, Mr. Jackson's Aunt Buttercup has passed and she left him some money from an insurance policy she took out.

So, you see, I'm tryin' to find Tweet Jackson.

A check?

How much?

$300, to which I'm able to pay a finder's fee to anyone that can help me find Mr. Jackson.

We're tryin' to get matters off our books.

The sooner, the better.

I don't know, you don't look no insurance man to me.

Tell me where Mr. Jackson is, and you will receive a finder's fee of $5.

Shit, I make more than that giggin' at the Coconut Grove in one night!

What's the name of the insurance company you say you work for?

Archwell.

Doberman.

You lyin' motherfucker.

(groans)

Where can I find Tweet?

I ain't no rat!

You play horn, right?

How you gonna play horn with a busted lip?

All right, all right!

There's a walk up at Hoover Street, over the liquor store.

You can find him there.

(suspenseful percussive music)

[Boy] Pow, pow.

Pow, pow.


Pow, pow.

Pow, got you, mister.

Hey, kid.

You see the man that live in the apartment up there?

No, but I see a lot of people go in and out of a garage in the back.

[Archie] Thanks, kid.

(dog barks)


(groans)

Fuck.

Where is she?

Where is she?

Who're you talkin' about? Mona, damn it, where is she?

You know, I asked around, until somebody told me that she come here.

Now, why would she come here?

Why would my Mona do that to me, hm?

Look, man, I don't know nothin' what you talkin' about.

But you should ask him.

Who's he?

[Archie] I don't know, he ain't talking.

No, something's goin' on here, man.

Somethin' that somebody ain't telling me!

You know, Mona's my girl, my girl!

And I love her and you better tell me where she is, right now, or you're gonna end up just as dead as he is!

Better start talking, boy.

You better start talk...

(groans)

(thud)

Thanks, mister.

You're lucky I'm a nosy reporter.

If I hadn't got a lead on where Mona Lane likes to hang her stockings, you might be dead as Dillinger.

A reporter, huh, like for the paper?

Skip Slater with the LA Trumpet.

Snoopin' around tryin' to get a lead on a story.

What kinda story?

Listen, bother, I'm hip to what's goin' on.

I may not know everything, but I know Mona Lane isn't in Mexico.

And she hasn't been in her penthouse for the last three days so where is she?

Look, I'm gonna tell you the same thing I told loverboy here, I don't know.

Huh, well, who are you then?

What're you doin' here?

I was hired to find Mona.

Seems like we all lookin' for the same person.

Well, half of Hollywood knows she's got the hots for colored jazz players.

If an idiot like this guy can figure it out, you know the rest of Tinsel Town will soon be figuring out, too.

I'm just tryin' to get ahead of the story, you know?

Get the scoop.

Looks like we all come to a dead-end, huh?

I know you're not telling me somethin'.

But if you change your mind, here's my number.

Give me a call with some info, I'll make it worth your while.

Hey.

What about these two?

Well, one's dead, the other's gonna come to in a few minutes, and I wouldn't be here when he does.

Nadine say Mona liked to look at famous dead folk.

I figure I had nothin' to lose by killin' an hour at the local cemetery with dead movie stars layin' next to their fans.


Mona?

I don't know you.

You Archie Glass?

Maybe, depends on who wants to know.

Somebody wants to see you.

Hey, I don't owe you fellas any money, do I?

(suspenseful percussive music)

No, no.

The world does not see you as a man.

Hollywood does not see you as a man.

That's why they call you boy, and son.

They tell you to bug out your eyes and stick your lips out.

See, they don't think you have a heart, or that you're intelligent.

That your soul is the soul of God.

Cut the sermon, preach, why am I here?

You are here because you are working for the enemy.

[Archie] I'm workin' for Jack Wingate.

[Preacher] As I said, public enemy number one.

What's all of this about?

I am the leader of the United Negro Movie Coaliltion, and we want you to join us.

You got a hell of a way of recruitin' a fella.

Well, it's a rough world out there, Mr. Glass, and, a man must meet force with force.

There's a revolution goin' on, and every black man must stand up for himself.

You cannot fight these Jim Crow laws in these streets bein' a buffoon on that movie screen.

Come and join us and help us change Hollywood.

How're you gonna do that?

You ain't nothing but a bunch of angry church folk!

We have power, and if we boycott, and organize, we can bring this town to its knees.

Boycott? (chuckles)

Nobody's gonna do that.

You're a fool, preach, you're a fool.

Well, I'm sorry to hear you think so.

What kind of black man are you?

I'm not a black man, just a man.

(preacher chuckles)

Wait, wait, wait, wait!

Hey, I've already been circumcised!

Every revolution needs some blood.

[Archie] I was gettin' nowhere fast.

Time to check in with O'Neal.

I gave him a call from a payphone at Pico and Olympic.

Glass, where the hell have you been?

You were supposed to check in with me over three hours ago.

This ain't like goin' around a country club, askin' for a tennis partner.

Watch your lip, boy.

Don't call me boy.

I've had about enough of your mouth, boy.

(Archie grunts)

(Archie groans)

Now, tell me what you got.

Right now, nothin'.

Just a dead body and whole bunch of people stickin' guns and knives in my face.

Well, that ain't enough.

Let me remind you we're on a deadline.

The tabloids are gonna be on this in a day or so.

Hey, that's another thing.

I've been goin' around here, knockin' on people doors, which nothin' to back me but just a smile.

I need some protection.

What the hell did you just say?

I need a gun.

[Archie] As a white man, the last thing you ever wanted to do was give a nigga a gun.

It was against everything he stood for, but Jack Wingate was on his ass just like he was on mine.

Do you know how to use it? Hey, don't worry about me.

Just be ready next time I call you.

I headed south then east to Englewood.

I was on my way to see Ennis Matthews.

(suspenseful percussive music)

(knocks)

Archie?

How do you know where I live?

You brag about this place all the time at the club.

It wasn't too hard to find.

I'm sorry I pulled the pistol on you.

I thought you were one of the neighbors come a-callin'.

What you doin' in the dark, Ennis?

Your lights don't work?

They work fine.

But I just keep 'em off just the same.

That way, they can't see inside.

I've been havin' some troubles.

[Archie] What kinda troubles?

When I bought this house, the man told me all about the wonderful friendly neighbors.

I reckon they ain't so friendly when a colored man moves in.

And I've had rocks thrown through my window.

Mean letters put in my mailbox, and my wife, she took my boys back to New Orleans, after they killed the dog.

So, I bought this pistol.

I saved every cent I had,

to buy this house.

I'm lookin' for a girl, Ennis.

Ain't none here.

You heard of Mona Lane?

She's been kidnapped, by some trumpet-playin' Negro named Tweet Jackson.

(Ennis chuckles)

What were you doin' at Tweet's apartment today, Ennis?

What're you talkin' about?

You're the only Negro I know that can afford to smoke these fancy Cuban cigars.

[Ennis] You're crazy, plenty of folk smoke 'em.

Yeah?

Well, that pistol you got in your hand is missin' a bullet.

And I bet it's the same bullet that was in that dead body I found today.

I broke.

(chuckles)

As soon as I bought this house, the studio cut my contract.

Tell me what happened.

Some folks came to see me.

Said, uh, they needed someone to pick her up.

She knew me from the studio.

They needed someone that she would feel comfortable with.

They said it would be big money when it was over.

So, I took her over to the apartment on Hoover.

Tweet's apartment.

When we got there, Tweet was missing.

There was an argument about what to do next.

Someone pulled a gun, I had mine, fired first.

When I got up, Mona was gone.

I just, I just hauled ass outta there.

Who hired you?

It don't matter, Archie.

They beat me, man.

When I was a boy in New Orleans, there was this restaurant that all the white folks would go to.

It was real nice, Archie, I mean real nice.

They had candles on the table, man.

There was fancy, fancy pictures on the wall.

They had this man who stood at the door.

With a brown paper bag.

He'd hold it up, and if you were darker than the bag,

you couldn't get in.

I promised myself I'd get into that place.

But now I know that no matter how rich, or famous I get, (chuckles)

they ain't lettin' me in.

(clock chimes)

Just tell me what happened, I gotta know.

(clock chimes)

You can't help me, Archie, can't nobody help.

Ennis, no!

(gun fires)

(body clunks)

Ennis was somebody I looked up to.

The truth was, I wanted to be just like him.

Whatever secret he had, he took with him to hell.

I thought about Ennis's neighbors havin' to wash the blood off his walls, but it didn't make me feel any better.

I was talkin' to this girl at the bar last night.

Skinny girl from Alabama.

She had on these glasses and hair in a little bun, like a little poodle.

I was waitin' for her to bark, so I could buy her a drink.

Then I remembered I had a bone in my pocket.

(audience laughs)

That's a cheap date out here in California. (chuckles)

Whatever it is, it's gonna be all right.

I'm just tryin' to be somebody, be a good man.

You are a good man, Archie.

It's just, you're chasing a dream, when the best thing in life is right in front of you.

I gotta go to work.

(moody jazz music)

Look like you're havin' a rough time there, young bud.

You know about the three seats of power in this country?

There's three.

You got Wall Street, controls the money.

You got the White House, controls the military.

And you got those who control our images.

You know who controls the image?

Hollywood.

That's who controls your image, young bud.

My man, Archie Glass. (chuckles)

How Hollywood treatin' you, baby?

Not good.

But I'm still on my feet, you?

Man, you know me, just giggin' around.

Was up in San Francisco last week.

Tomorrow, down in San Diego.

Tryin' to stay two steps ahead of that devil.

Well, you better stay the hell away from me, 'cause he's nippin' at my ass. (friend laughs)

[Friend] Archie, I heard you lookin' for Mona Lane.

Yeah?

What about it?

Man, I saw her in the back room and she is messed up.

At least, she looks that way.

Archie Glass.

(woman sniffs)

[Archie] She was a dead ringer for Mona.

I know she had something to do with all of this.

(woman chuckles)

A lot of people think I look like her.

Where is she?

He tried to kill me.

Who?

I don't know his name.

Just some fella I met last week at the High Hat Bar.

He wasn't as good-lookin' as you, daddy.

What did he say?

Said we were goin' to his friend's place, score some junk.

[Archie] What happened when you got there?

There was nobody there. (chuckles)

No friend, no junk.

Then he took a gun out and tried to shoot me.

I bit him on the hand and got out of there.

This man that tried to kill you, where does he live?

Took me into a house.

In Venice, close to the water.

Yeah, it had red shutters.

And a round window on the front door.

Like a ship.

(knocks)

(knocks)

What you want, mister?

Evenin', brother.

I'm Deacon Lovechild from the most holy First Baptist Church of Compton.

Sorry to bother you.

I know you must have been helping yourself to some dinner, but I wanna talk to you about the lord Jehovah.

I don't know nothin' about that!

I just wanna save your soul, brother.

My soul don't need no savin', but y'all's might, if you don't get off my porch!

Perhaps it'd be better if I talked to lady of the house?

Perhaps if you don't get the hell outta here, before you get hurt.

(door slams)

(phone dial clicks)

O'Neal, it's me. Glass.

Damn it, where the hell have you been?

Shut up and listen, I'm standin' across the street from a house in Venice on Pacific Avenue.

I think Mona's on the inside. Are you sure?

No, I'm not sure.

But I tried to get a look on the inside, I didn't see much.

You better get down here now before they leave.

[O'Neal] Don't let them out of your sight.

I don't care what Wingate may have promised you.

If you let them get away, I will bust you up bad.

I'll put you under the jail.

(phone dial clicks)

[Sandra] Hello?

Archie?

(moody jazz music) Archie, is that you?

I just wanna say I'm sorry, Sandra.

I should had done right by you.

[Sandra] Archie.

[Archie] Yeah.

[Sandra] You never told me what you went to jail for.

[Archie] Yeah, I did.

[Sandra] No, you didn't.

Tell me.

I killed a man.

The truth is, I was just a dumb nigga, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But that's not important.

[Sandra] Tell me what's important.

Makin' it, baby.

Seein' myself on the screen.

I want people to see me.

If I can't do that, then I'm just another dumb nigga.


(suspenseful percussive music)


(thud)


(moody horn music)


I knew they'd send somebody.

What'd they offer you?

(gun fires)

(moody jazz music)

(gun fires)

(guns fire)

(guns cock and fire)


(dark atmospheric music)

I knew they'd send somebody.

What'd they offer you? (gun fires)

(Mona screams)


(suspenseful percussive music)

(dogs bark)

(gun fires)

(gun fires)

(gun fires)

Don't do it.

Don't do it.

(gun fires)


I can't believe it.

I didn't think I would ever find you folk.

You'll be back at your penthouse in no time, with all your Hollywood friends.

Nobody will ever know this happened.

You get to go home, I get to be back in the movies.

That's right, I'm an actor.

Nothin' like you, but who knows?

Maybe someday, someday...

Hey.

If I were you, I would be celebrating.

Celebrating what?

You killed him.

You killed Tweet.

Wingate said you were kidnapped, he showed me the letter.

He showed you a letter?

You like to pretend to be other people?

Me too.

Growing up in Kansas, we were just poor white trash.

I would dream about getting away.

Guess that's how I wound up here.

But this town, it ain't right.

They wanted to use me and cut me up into a million pieces.

But Tweet, he was somehow different.

He was the first Negro...

The first man to treat me good.

You and Tweet were together this whole time?

We tried to keep it a secret, but I knew it wouldn't be long before the studio found out, so we decided to run away.

You were gonna run away from being a movie star?

Crazy, huh?

All your hopes and dreams.

I guess your dreams don't mean much, if you got nobody to share them with.

We were gonna take the money and go someplace where it didn't matter who you were.

It was Tweet's idea to fake the kidnapping.

Make it look real so that Wingate would pay the ransom.

Instead, he sent you.

(gasps)


(sobs)

(Jack coughs)

That's right.

I used you to get to her.

And I would do it again if I had to.

You see, when you sign a contract with a studio, we own you.

The studio decides what color your hair is.

The studio decides what movies you make.

And the studio decides who you're seen with in pubic.

All to sell the people an all-American image.

And America is not ready for a movie star who is married to a nigger.

You lied to me and told me she was in some kinda trouble.

She was in trouble, and I saved her.

You saved her.

From a life of despair and disgrace.

I don't like being lied to.

What difference does it make whether you knew the truth or not?

You came to me, remember?

You wanted to be a star.

Well, now you can.

And don't worry, Mr. Glass.

I intend to keep my promise to you.

For your remarkable service to me,

you've earned a part in one of my films.

And as for Mona,

who allowed herself to be dragged through the mud, I'll clean her up.

Oh, and just in case you're, uh, gettin' any ideas of changing the terms of our agreement, forget it.

If I'm willin' to do this to her, just think what I'd be willin' to do to you.

(bell tolls)

(coughs)

No.

Get your hands off of me.

(slap)

(thud) (moody jazz music)

(gun fires)

(thuds) (groans)

(gun cocks)

Get away from him! (suspenseful music)

Get away.

[Archie] I knew when I punched Jack Wingate, I would never work as an actor in this town again.

It didn't matter, there are plenty of others left to play Sambos in the movies.

Not me.

There is no place in this town that I won't be able to find you.

I own you.

I created Mona Lane.

You were nothing but a freckle-faced farm girl when you came to me.

You go ahead and run, but I'll be right behind you.

(Archie sighs)

Are you okay? Yeah.

It ain't the first time I got my ass kicked.

(sighs)

You really loved Tweet, huh?

I mean, you heard him play.

Of course I loved him.

(sighs)

Where are you gonna take me?

Outta this damn town.

(moody piano music)

Thank you very much.

The next train to Kansas City leaves in half an hour.

What will you do?

Stay here, I guess.

I got no other place to go.

My real name's Mary Hayden.

Come on.

(train whistles)

Are you Mona?

Can I have your autograph?

I saw your last picture, it was a real ride.

Thank you so much!

Hey, Mona, where you been?

Everybody's been lookin' for ya.

Hey, oh, come on, Mona, what's the big deal?

A nigger?

You've been sleeping with a nigger, Mona?

Just let me get one more.

Jimmy!

Jimmy, calm down.

You want me to calm down, when you've been sleeping with a nigger?

Go and play her.

(gun fires) (moody jazz music)


I just stayed there, watching her bleed on the ground.

There was nothing I could do.

Just thought that somebody should tell the truth, about what really happened.


♪ Oh ♪

♪ You make ♪

♪ Me feel good ♪

♪ That I am ♪

♪ Still blue ♪

♪ I ♪

♪ Run ♪

♪ From you ♪

(smooth jazz music)


(jaunty piano music)


(moody orchestral music)


[Actor] Dad.

(chuckles) Dad.

I love you.

But you think of yourself as a black man, and I, I think of myself as a man.

(jazz piano music)

♪ Oh, crazy ♪

♪ I am ♪

♪ For you ♪

♪ Oh ♪

♪ You make ♪

♪ Me feel good ♪

♪ That I am ♪

♪ Still blue ♪

♪ I ♪

♪ Run ♪

♪ From you ♪

♪ Oh, pity ♪

♪ I am ♪

♪ For you ♪

♪ Oh ♪

♪ I love ♪

♪ When you say ♪

♪ That you ♪

♪ Don't do ♪