The Changeling (1980) Script

You're very strong. OK, push!

This is the last holiday I'm ever going on with you.

Where'd you get all those muscles?

Come on. More, more, more!

Don't quit now. How much further?

It's only a couple million more miles.

A couple of what?

Couple million more miles!

Now, right up here we're gonna stop. Keep pushing. Don't quit.

Mexico next time.

Hawaii's better. Yeah!


Hold it, hold it. That's good.


Now what are you going to do?

I'm gonna try to get us some... Help?


Come on. Let's have a snowball fight.

Oh, no! No!

Daddy! Daddy! Come on! Help me, Daddy!


Yes, do you have the number for Emergency Road Service?

Thank you, Stan.

If you want a hand with anything, just give me a shout, Mr Russell.

I will, thanks.

Mr Russell?



Mr Russell, I...

You know that this piece is going to Seattle too, Estancia?

Yes, sir.


At first, right after it happened, I was in shock.

I just functioned automatically. I didn't feel anything.

And one day, it hit me...

Joanna and Kathy are gone.

I just kept walking around the apartment saying it over and over, "They're gone, they're gone."

I guess I was about half crazy.

But that's over four months ago and... what I've got to do now is start making demands of myself.

Well, your first class is next Monday.

I'll set up a meeting for you tomorrow with some of the faculty.

You'll remember a lot of them.

11.00 OK for you?

That's fine, Robert, thanks. Thanks for everything you've done.

Come on. Everyone's very excited about you being here.

A well-known alumnus and distinguished composer like yourself.

Says who?

Distinguished or not, we're glad you came.

Give it to me! Come on! Give it to me! No!

OK, kids, keep it down.

Go into the kitchen, get yourself some cookies.

By the way, how long are you planning to stay in that hotel?

There's plenty of room for you here, you know.

No, thanks, Eva.

I think I'm going to find a house to rent. I've got some things coming out.

What I need is a place I can lock myself in and pound away at the piano all night.

A place I can work.

I have a friend who works for the Historical Preservation Society.

They have some old houses that I'm sure they rent.

We'll see what we can come up with for you.


Mr Russell? Yes.

Hello, I'm Claire Norman.

Why don't you hop in and we'll drive up?


When was the house last occupied?

Let's see. About 12 years ago.

It's been with the Historical Society for the past 12 years.

There we go.


There were plans at one time to turn it into some kind of a museum.

But I don't know. I guess a house was meant to be lived in.

Why hasn't it been lived in?

Well, I've only been with the Society for a year now.

The impression I get is that they haven't tried very hard with this place.

Of course, it does need a lot of work.


There's some pieces here that are just stored.

You'd have your pick of them.

You know, whatever you'd like.

Kitchen's in here.

What does it take to maintain a house of this size?

Oh, we have a man who looks after all these places. Mr Tuttle.


This is the music room.

This is really why I thought of you and this house.

The piano was left here when the Society took over.

Just too much trouble to move, really.

It must be in very bad shape.

What are the terms?

Sorry to disturb your composing.

That's all right, Mr Tuttle. This has already been composed.

There's a man at the front, wants to deliver a water storage tank.

Says you called him.

Oh, OK.

Have you managed to do any writing?

Yes. I'm still working on the second movement. Same old problem.

Well, maybe the lectures will help, get some new ideas going.

It's my understanding...

...that there are...

...23 students registered...

...for this series of lectures on advanced musical form.

Now, we all know that it's not raining outside.

And unless there's a fire in some other part of the building we don't know about, there's an awful lot of people here with nothing better to do.

However... we'll know more after the second lecture.

I'm sure there are many of you... who may recognise this.

Well, it sounds a little bit better with an orchestra than it does with a piano.

No, you made it sound fine. That was a great class.

John's secret is that he's a natural ham.

Don't go too far. Excuse me.

If you can't find your way back...

I'll send out a search party.


I'd like you to meet my mother.

How do you do, Mrs Norman? How do you do?

This is John Russell. You remember the Chessman house?

Oh! Oh, yes. I'm very pleased to meet you, Mr Russell.

How are you liking the place?


It's so large.


Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please?

I'd like to introduce Senator Joseph Carmichael...

My God! He's going to make another speech.

What you're hearing is a lifelong Republican commenting on a Democrat.

I see!

You know how I hate making speeches.

But sometimes, on a very special occasion... like raising money for our magnificent symphony orchestra...

And weren't they fantastic tonight?

Damn right.

I was just going to get a drink.

I think I'll join you.

I'll be right back, Mother.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Actually, he's on our board of directors at the Historical Preservation Society.

In fact, he's become our number one philanthropist.

So, you're getting settled in then?

Oh, yes. Good.

There's some things at the Society office that belong to your house.

I'll see if I can dig them up for you.

I'm glad you took the house.

Mr Tuttle?

Mr Tuttle?

Yes, Mr Russell?

You frightened me.

Is anyone else here?

Mrs Rissean cleaning today? No, sir, just me.

Thank you.

That's lovely.

The music.

Well, hello. Hi.

Has the quality of a lullaby.

Yes, it is in a sort.

Well, here we are, as promised.

These are some assorted prints that used to hang in the house somewhere.


And this... is an old restored photograph taken at the front of the house.

Isn't that remarkable? Beautiful.

I tried to call you first, but Information isn't giving your number out yet.

That's a beautiful old piece.

Did you refinish it?

I didn't, no.


Um, that was Kathy's, my daughter's.

Well, I guess I'd better be off.

I hope you like the prints.

Thank you.

You going riding?


Do you ride?


What's the matter?

I was just thinking about my daughter, Kathy.

How much she loved horses.



An air lock somewhere.

It was too loud, too rhythmic.

Well, it's starting, at least.

Why would it happen two mornings in a row?

Precisely at 6.00?

Why does it go on for about half a minute and then stop dead?

It doesn't make sense.

A furnace is like anything else, Mr Russell.

It's got habits.

It's an old house.

It makes noises.

Well, very good.

We're still not together on the off beats.

And, darling, you're retarding a little too much on the last four bars.

Otherwise, it was splendid.

Good night. Good night. See you tomorrow.

What I'm driving at is...

Has anything like this happened in the house before?

If so, to whom, when, and what did they do about it?

Since I've been with the Society, the house has been empty.

John, you're working very hard.

You've been through a terrible emotional strain.

Isn't it possible...? Hallucinating.

Is that what you're going to say? Excuse me.


Claire, there's a call for you - your mother.

Should I tell her you're busy? I'll be right there.

Excuse me, John, just for a minute.

You know there's some question about your lease, Mr Russell.

What do you mean?

That house shouldn't have been rented.

Miss Norman rushed those papers through our attorney's office.

She did not use proper channels.

Why should anyone object?

That house is not fit to live in.

No one's been able to live in it.

It doesn't want people.

Then there has been trouble in the house before?

Claire, listen, it's note for note.

Same tempo, even the same key.

What do you think?

I don't know.

It's a startling coincidence.

But that melody must have been very popular at one time or it wouldn't be on the music box.

I agree, but I swear I'd never heard it... before I played it and recorded it that day you came over.

No, there's something...


It's happened before here. I'm not the first.

I went over the files very carefully, all the way back to 1920.

Nothing out of the ordinary.

Miss Huxley.

Minnie's a highly eccentric old woman but she'd never... No.

She said the house didn't want people. She's mistaken.

Whatever it is is trying desperately to communicate.

The bangings, the water taps, the broken window panes.

All the glass fell outward. It had to be done from the inside.

Everything that's happened has been designed to get me into that attic room.

I want to see it.

Look at that book on the desk there.

"CSB. January 4, 1909."

It's a little child's writing.

1909. Who could've lived here then?

That's where I found the music box, on the mantel.

Look at this wheelchair.

Oh, my God!

It's so small.

What was this room?

Former residents William Sarachino and family. Architect.

Bought the place in 1965. Sold it in 1967.

Purchased for the Society for Historical Preservation November 1967, through a generous grant from the Carmichael Foundation. That's the senator?

Yeah. Great philanthropist.

Now, where is the rest of this file?

Previous occupants...

No previous occupants listed.

There's nothing here before 1920.

Minnie, we're looking for the Chessman house file, pre-1920.

Do you know where it is?

What is it you want to know?

We're trying to find out who lived in the house in 1909.

A man named Barnard. A doctor.

Did he have any children, do you know?

I believe a son and a daughter.

There was some kind of family tragedy, I think.

He sold the house in 1909.

1909? I'll set it up for you.

Fine, OK.

It's all ready to go. The scanner's on the right.

Thank you so much.

Let's have a look here.

February 9th. These are want ads.

Financial page...

Real estate. More want ads.

Wait, wait, wait.

"Cora Barnard, seven-year-old daughter of Dr Walter Barnard, "prominent Seattle physician, was struck and seriously injured

"when she ran in front of a passing coal cart

"outside her Chessman Park home yesterday.

"She was hastened to St Margaret's Hospital, "where her condition remains grave."

So forth and so on.

Cora Barnard. CSB.


"Cora Stuart Barnard, daughter of...

"succumbed in St Margaret's Hospital

"to injuries sustained in a February 15th accident.

"She is mourned by her parents.

"Miss Barnard will be interred in the family plot in Brookfield Cemetery."

There's the doctor.

And his wife.

There's the brother, Lloyd.

This little girl, Cora...

...was killed in the street.

It was an accident almost the same as Kathy.

What is it in that house, Claire?

What is it doing? Why is it trying to reach me?

John... Is it because of my daughter?

I can't go through all this again.

John, you must get out of that house.

I believe everything you're saying, Mr Russell.

The noises, the lights, the teleportation of objects, all very familiar.

Fascinating stuff.

But the point is... Yeah?

What do I do now? I mean...

Ah! I tell you, off the record.

We have coming here many mediums and spiritualists and so.

And we test them.

Now, 99% are the frauds.

But the 1%...


Hm! A medium. Mm-hm.


Mr Russell? Yes.

How do you do? How do you do?

My wife, Leah. Come in, please.

Thank you. It's just to your left.

Could we have these lights off, please?

Thank you.

I thought I'd record what happens.

Is that all right? Yes, yes, of course.

That's fine. Mr Russell, would you sit there, please?

Yes, of course. And I'll sit here.

Thank you.

You've suffered a cruel loss, John Russell.

You've lost a wife and child.

The presence in this house is reaching out to you through that loss.

The presence is very strong here.

It is a child's presence.

A child who is not at peace.

Who cannot rest.

The presence... is with us.

We sense that you are with us.

Will you talk to us?

Will you communicate with us?

Will you come through to us?

Will you speak to us?

We are here to help you.

What is your name?

Will you speak to us?


What is your name?

Are you the child Cora?

Are you the child killed by the coal cart?


What is your name?


Did you die in this house, Joseph?

How did you die?

Is there someone here you wish to communicate with?


Help. Help. Help.

Help. John. Help.


Mr Russell, will you sit over here now, please?

Will you speak to John?

Will you tell us why you are not at rest?

Speak to John.

John is with us.

What do you want of John?

Why do you feel no peace?

Why do you remain in this house, Joseph?

What is in this house?

Speak to John.

John is with us.

How did you die?

Did you die in this house?

Why do you remain in this house?

Joseph, how did you die?

Joseph, did you die in this house?

We are here to help you.

What is your name?

...killed by the coal cart?



Are you the child killed by the coal cart?



Are you the child killed by the coal cart?



We are here to help you.

What is your name?


What is your name?


What is your name?





Did you die in this house, Joseph?


My room.

Can't walk.

Will you tell us why you are not at rest?

My father.

Joseph, did you die in this house?

My room.

How did you die?

How did you die?

How did you die?

How did you die?



The well.


Sacred Heart.

My medal.


Father, don't.


My body.


The well.

My name... Joseph Carmichael.



I'm sorry to...


I just...

Can you c...?



My room.

Can't walk.

Will you tell us why you are not at rest?

My father.

Joseph, did you die in this house?

My room.

How did you die?

Father, don't.

My name... Joseph Carmichael.

I'm sorry, I...

I shouldn't have called you. It's just that I needed someone.

I know, I know.

I wrote some words on a paper.

I wrote "Sacred Heart".

There used to be a county orphanage... named Sacred Heart.

It was closed down years ago.



Their child, Joseph Carmichael.

He was murdered in this house in the attic.

And buried.

And then an orphan... Stop it, John!

Just for one minute, please!

Miss Huxley's on the phone, Senator.

It's the third time she's called this morning. She says it's important.

All right, I'll take it.

Hello, Minnie. How are you?

I'm fine.

They've been going through the files.

Let me have that name again.



I'm very glad to be of help, as you know.


This is the senator's campaign bio of 1960.

I got it from the main library, had them Xerox it for me.

You found something?

It's some kind of a rough retrospective that somebody drew up when they were thinking about turning the house into a museum.

Richard Carmichael and family occupied the house 1899 to 1906.

Richard was the senator's father.

His mother died when he was born in 1900.

It's all in there.

Look at the part about his illness.


"Joe Carmichael, their son, at age three

"was struck down with a form of atrophic arthritis..."

A little further down.

"It was decided to send little Joe to the famed Nordbach Sanatorium

"in Basel, Switzerland, for special therapy.

"Accompanied by his father, he embarked for Europe in October, 1906

"not to set foot on American soil again until the cessation of World War I."

See how it might have been done?

Richard's son, a sick child, was murdered by his father and buried secretly.

Then the substitute, a six-year-old orphan, was put in his place, shipped right overseas right away, with the father attending.

It all worked for them.

Even the war worked.

It kept him in Switzerland till 1918.

He came back here, he was 18 years old.

Who was going to know that he wasn't the real son?

If he wasn't crippled any more, it was because he was cured.


Do you think he knows about the murder and about the replacement?

I don't know.

How could any father do such a thing?

Richard's wife was Emily Spencer.

She was the daughter of HT Spencer, who founded the Spencer Carmichael empire.

He died in 1905. He was a zillionaire.

His will!

His will might be very interesting.

There must be a copy of it in the hall of records.

I'm also going to try to find out if there was a ranch, a Spencer or a Carmichael ranch somewhere.

Yeah, a ranch with a well.

This is the 1908 atlas of Seattle which is open to the part of the city where the Carmichael ranch was located.

Right here. What does that little mark there mean?

According to the legend, here, that was the location of a well on that property.

I see.

And in the 1914 atlas which is opened here to the same area, there's been one large lot that's apparently been sold off, but the property is very much the same and the location of the well is still given.

Right. Exactly.

The 1928 atlas was quite a change.

There's further subdivision of the property.

The symbol for the well has disappeared and a house has been built here.

The ranch is listed in the will.

It's part of the inheritance of little Joseph Carmichael, all of five years old at the time.

He got just about everything.

What about the father, Richard?


Except as his son's guardian, and therefore trustee of the estate.

Well, old man Spencer's daughter was dead and, obviously, he wasn't too fond of his son-in-law.

Yes, but wait.

Richard doesn't get any money but he still controls his son, and his son is worth a fortune.


Unless, for some reason, the boy dies before attaining the age of 21.

In that case, the entire estate goes to charity.

That would have shut Richard out completely and there he was with a son who was weak, sickly, bedridden, couldn't even walk.

He must have decided not to take a chance on the boy.

The money was just too tempting.

What are you going to tell her?

About the well under the house and the body.

And the medal with the name on it?

No. Nothing about Carmichael.

She'll think you're crazy.

You'll tell her I'm not.


Good evening, Mrs Grey. I'm John Russell. This is Miss Norman.

Mr Russell, I wouldn't have listened to your story for two minutes.

I wouldn't have let you in here, but for something you said on the phone earlier.

You said that this séance affair of yours happened three nights ago.

Right? That's right.

Well, three nights ago, on Monday night...

...Linda, my daughter, woke up screaming just after midnight.

She'd had a nightmare.

When I went in to her, she was hysterical, she was sobbing.

I'd never seen her like that before.

Oh, I mean, she'd had nightmares before, but not...

She said she'd seen a boy.

Very small, very thin.

Almost gnome-like.

And he was trying to come up through the floor.

And he kept staring at her.

Here, in the middle.

She hasn't been in this room since, won't come near it. She sleeps with me.

What we want is...

What you want, Mr Russell, is to tear this room apart.

Well, I have your phone number, Mr Russell. I'll have to think about it.


What the hell's going on? Linda!

They're still digging.

But they found the well.


Did you find anything?

No, nothing yet. This is Tony, Mrs Grey's son. Miss Norman.

Hello. Hi.

Give me that flashlight, will you?


I think I found something.

What is it?

It's a hand.


It's a hand.

I'll call the police.

There's nothing more?

Doesn't look like it.

You think there might be something else down there?


Assistant coroner said those bones had been down there maybe 50 years.

Do you have some idea who that child was?

No, not really.

What's "not really" mean?


I'm going to want statements from everybody.

Mrs Grey, do you have some other place you could stay for tonight?

Yes, it's all been arranged. Good.

I think you should have told them.

It's gotta be there. Without that medal, there's no evidence, there's nothing.

You have the tape.

Tapes can be altered. They know that. Did you see the expression on his face?

It was obvious you were holding something back.

I'll say.

Look, it's very late. Let me go get some rest, and I'll talk to you in the morning.

Fine. Drive carefully. You too.

What's the matter?

"St Paul's Church, September 8, 1900.

"Joseph Patrick Carmichael."

It was there.

It was there.

You have to show it to the police.

It's the only piece of solid evidence we've got.

They didn't see me dig it up, they couldn't find it.

Why should they believe it was there?

You can't just ignore them.

The police aren't going to trouble themselves with a 70-year-old case.

Still, it's an unsolved murder. Nah.

Whatever's to be done has to be done by me.

I've got to get to Carmichael.

He won't see you now. He'll see me.


Hey, hold it right there! Hold up. Mr Carmichael!

Senator... Wait a minute, now.

Get the hell out of my way.

Senator, I'm John Russell. I'm living in your house.

Senator, look.

I want to show him that. I want to talk to him.

Let me go! Senator!

Look at this medal. It's a baptism medal.

It's got your name on it.

You got him? We got him.

It was buried with a body.

A little boy.

Senator! The police know about it.

Who was that? Some kind of crackpot?

I've no idea.

Never mind. Come on.


I want you to radio back to police headquarters, Captain DeWitt.

Ask him to call me in Spokane at this number.

Yes, sir.

You goddamn son of a bitch.

What is it you want?

What do you want from me?

I've done everything I can do!

There's nothing more to do.

Mr Russell?


My name is DeWitt, Captain DeWitt.

Oh, yes.

I'd like to talk to you if I may.

All right. Come in.

Quite a house.


You're a musician, a composer, is that right, Mr Russell?


You're teaching a course at the faculty of music out of the university?

That's right.

Is this where you held your séance?

What was it you wanted to talk to me about?

You were out at Boeing Airfield this morning, Mr Russell.

They tell me you caused quite a scene, screaming, yelling, acting like a lunatic.

Sergeant Durban tells me you were up to some strange things last night too.

Seems you dug up some bones under a lady's house that some ghostly voice told you were there, is that correct?

Only Sergeant Durban said you told him you had no idea who those bones were, no idea at all.

Now, it seems...

It seems a little odd, then, don't you think, that you'd go charging across that airfield this morning making crazy accusations against Senator Carmichael?

I made no accusations.

Senator Carmichael, who has served this state for 36 years...

I didn't accuse him of any... and is not about to give in to any dirty little blackmail scheme.

Blackmail? You heard me.

What are you talking about?

I understand you lost your wife and daughter a little while ago.

Maybe it shook you up.

Maybe too much.

Maybe you need help.

I'd like you to leave now.

We can see that you get it.

Do you understand what I'm saying?

Out, now.

Listen to me, Russell.

You've got something of the senator's. He wants it back.

It's a little gold medal, a family heirloom. He lost it.

He thinks you've got it.

I don't know what you're talking about.

I'm sorry to barge in on you like this, but I am so damn mad.

This morn...

This is Captain DeWitt. He's with the police.

You're... Miss Norman?


I take it now, or I come back in an hour with a warrant and a crew and we tear this place apart.

Tear this place apart? What's going on here?

I'll be here.

Suit yourself.

Well, what was that all about?

Senator Carmichael thinks he's being blackmailed.

They've cancelled your lease.

They've forced me to resign from the society.

No explanation, no reason, nothing, just "get out".

I have an appointment with the head of the board of directors.

I'll see what I can find out.

I'll call you and let you know.


Yes, Claire?

I was driving by, and I recognised the car.

I don't know how it happened.

I don't know how it could have happened. There are no other cars. There's nothing.

And it's upside down in the middle of the road.

It's that man, that policeman who was just at your house.

DeWitt. He's dead.

Carmichael. Any messages?

Oh, yes. Captain DeWitt. What'd he say?



Oh, my God!




All right.

Let me have that number.

John Russell.

The senator's expecting you.

Still busy? Yes.

Where are you going?

I'll be back in a little while, Mum. Claire!

All right. Just what the hell do you want?

You must have some idea.

Otherwise I wouldn't have got past the door.

Well, I'm a busy man. Make it fast.

The house on Chessman Park.

Your family lived there until 1906.

It's had a history of... strange happenings.

There's something in that house, a manifestation.

This afternoon, Captain DeWitt came to see me, presumably on your behalf... you must have known what's happened, at least as much as DeWitt could tell you.

The disturbances, the séance, the bones found in the well.

I tried to talk to you at the airport.

I showed you this.

DeWitt said you'd lost it.

I found it in the grave...

...where the child is buried.

There's no logical explanation for what I'm going to say to you now.

The boy was badly crippled.

I believe he was killed in an attic room of that house.


I saw what happened.

And I believe it was Richard Carmichael, your father...

...who murdered the boy, his natural son.

Joseph Carmichael.

Then there was a substitution from the Sacred Heart Orphanage.

The boy was taken to Europe, cured miraculously and returned to inherit an empire.

That changeling was you.

So... that's your story.

Whatever you want to call it.

How much?

My God!

All right, how much do you want for this farce that you've concocted?

This isn't blackmail.

I've been dealing with vermin like you for years.

You wait your chance, then you come in with a story so patently incredible...

Truth terrifies you, doesn't it?

It's the truth.

It won't be buried. Get out.

None of this belongs to you.

Get out of here with your filthy lies.

I should have gone to that dead child.

You suspected something was wrong all your life.

You're not Joseph Carmichael.

You're the beneficiary of the cruellest kind of murder. Murder for profit.


My father was not a murderer.

Nobody in this world can say that.

My father was a great man.

He was a loving man.

And for you to come in here and accuse him of...

How can you?

Damn you!

I will not allow you to slander his good name.

These documents are on file with the city.

This is a tape of the séance.

There's no copy.

Take it. I've done what I had to do.

I'm sorry.


If I find that you've breathed one word of this... one word to anyone... you'll wish you'd never come into this world.

What was all that shouting about?


Get out.

Leave me alone.


I tried to call...


This isn't like me.

John, where are you?

John, what are you doing?




I don't want to come up there.




I called you. I called you.

I thought you were here.

I thought you were here.

I kept calling you and calling you.

It's OK. Just calm down.

I want you to wait in the car for me.

No, you're not going back in there!

No, please, please, don't!

Claire, Claire. Get ahold of yourself.

Go on. I'll be right back. Don't worry.

Joseph, no!


My medal!

My medal!

Father, Father!

Father! My medal!

My medal!

My medal!



Father! Father!


Father, don't!