The Woman Chaser (1999) Script

Tell the boy to sing it again.


Thank you, sir.

And God bless you.

Stand there, Captain.

Your feet hurt.

I don't think I better sit down.

[Woman sighs]

My feet are tired.

And just for a minute.

I've got a deal for you.

You don't collect more than a dollar every 5 minutes while you make your rounds, do you?

Oh, no, sir, not nearly that much.

All right, then, keep your seat and be company for a while and every 5 minutes, I'll add another dollar to your collection.

You're collecting for a worthy cause, aren't you?

Well, we aren't supposed to, uh...

I guess I could stay a few minutes.

My feet do hurt me.

Of course they do.

Bilbo!

Bucket of ice pronto.

Yo.


MAN: If it were possible, I would offer every moment, every word, every thought.

But my memory is too faulty for total recall.

Instead, I will show a sequence of events, some in order, some not.

And somewhere along the way I may discover just what it was that happened to me.

It began at the 2200 of Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood.

I'd been tracking iron for over an hour.

284 cars south, 265 north every 10 minutes.

A beautiful average and a wonderful location.

It was late July, and my San Francisco wardrobe was weighing a touch heavy on my back.

It gave me an air of prosperity.

At that moment, I was feeling prosperous.

I was about to steal a used car lot and every car on it.

Wait a minute.

Now, don't get excited, Mr. Ealers.

My name's Richard Hudson.

My business is used cars.

I'll take all of these heaps off your hands and buy your lease, too.

You don't want to work anyway.

Why not retire permanent, enjoy the sun at the beach instead of squatting in some trailer on a Cahuenga used car lot?

And what about my lease?

I said I'd take that, too.

Yeah, but you didn't mention what you'd give me for it.

That's right.

I'll give you nothing for the lease, but I'll take over your burden and the monthly payments.

Cost me a lot of dough here.

I'm not you.

Is it a deal or isn't it?

I'll take it.

RICHARD HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Honest Al could have searched the world.

He wouldn't have found a better man than me to open a lot in Los Angeles.

To me.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Except for one little thing.

I was bored.

HUDSON: Next.

William Harris, Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, retired.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: I ran an ad in the "Times" for a manager.

And it brought me an uncut jewel.

Bill had never held a civilian job of any kind.

The space provided for previous employment was a complete blank.

Quite an impressive background, Bill.

Thank you, sir.

Mr. Hudson is fine. Have a seat.

How about getting us a couple of sodas out of the machine, Bill?

Yes, sir, Mr. Hudson.

[coins going in slot]

[machine dispensing]

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Respectful independence.

What more could an employer desire?

Do you know how to run an office, Bill?

Yes, sir. I was a master sergeant for 5 years, sergeant major for 3 years, and a first...

Ok, then, my office will be your baby.

You hire yourself a good typist.

Read these.

I'll explain the interview techniques to you later.

Now, I'll work the lot along with the other salesmen.

And when we send a man or a woman through that door, they'll be sold on an automobile.

When we turn them over to you, all you have to do is keep 'em that way.

There are a lot of little tricks.

Many of the buyers will be lying because of rotten credit ratings.

Those people you will have to spot and refuse.

Think you can handle that?

Yes, sir.

Fine.

State your salary.

Well, I thought you'd do that.

No way. It's not the American way, Bill.

You're out of the army now.

The time has come for you to decide what you're worth.

If it's more than I can pay, I'll be sorry to see you go.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Now that Al's lot was purchased and my chief man was in place, I wanted to see mother.

I should have driven up to the strip to celebrate, but my desire for women was at an all-time low.

I knew this was natural in a period of transition and hard work.

But I couldn't help worrying.

If a man's sex drive evaporates, what good is he?

I tried not to think about it.

I hadn't been home in some years.

But I remembered that mother was remarried to a film director name Leo Steinberg, and ex-boy wonder who had fallen out of favor with the studios.

[Rings doorbell]

You're Leo's daughter.

Come in. Come in.

I don't think daddy was expecting you.

Hi, Pop.

Where's mother?

In bed. It's after 8:00.

Sure, sure.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Mother was a one-time ballerina who spent 5 hours a day dancing in front of a mirror.

She took very good care of herself, and it showed.

In fact, I believe mother was the most beautiful woman in the world.

How do I look?

Just wonderful, Mother, wonderful.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Swan-like neck, white, unblemished skin, firm jutting breasts which had never known the touch of a brassier.

Leo was a fortunate man, all right.

What brings my baby to Los Angeles?

Did they run you out of San Francisco?

Where are you staying?

I'm down here for good.

Starting a new division for Honest Al.

Right now I'm staying at the Bahia Lodge, but I'm gonna get an apartment as soon as I can find one.

Why don't you stay with us, Angel pants?

I don't know, mother.

I'm used to having my own place.

How about the servants' quarters above the garage?

Hasn't been live-in help for ages.

It would be fine for you.

Could have it redecorated, I suppose.

Ok, mother.

You got yourself a tenant.

Good.

It's nice to have you home again.

[rushing steam]

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: The following week it was August, and with the heat came a dozen hard-ridden repos from Al's main lot in San Francisco.

[Muttering]

Lift the phone, cool one, and call a costume company.

Any company in particular?

One that sells Santa Claus suits complete with beards.

What size?

The size worn by Evans, Cartwell, and Jodi boy, our 3 star salesmen.

You shouldn't do it, chief.

It's the middle of August.

Those guys will melt out there.

[slam]

It's the first day of August, and they'll wear those suits every damn day 'til I tell them to take them off!

What's more unusual than Santa Claus selling used cars in August?

You got me for the moment.

Nothing!

Honest Al is now Santa Claus in the middle of summer bringing the good people of the City of Angels goodies in the form of repos, your repos.

Now get those suits, get our buddy boys into them.

I want you to take out a half page in the "Times," right some decent copy for a change.

I don't want those cars on the lot by Saturday!

Yes, sir.

Oh, and, uh, by the way, cold one, you will inform our white-bearded salesmen that the Santa Claus suits were your idea.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Despite the progress of the lot, I was always glad in the evenings.

Almost every night Leo and I would go to the movies.

It didn't matter what we saw:

Melodramas, westerns, slave spectaculars.

We were fans.

Thank you, Richard.

And I was glad to take Leo as my guest.

This is all wrong.

We were a family after all.

This is wrong, too.

You got...

Didn't you learn anything at that New Jersey school except how to play with yourself?

Their constant need of encouragement and support, especially Becky, was a burden that I was glad to bear.

I bought this new cashmere sweater at Bullet's today.

How does it look on me?

Blue is blue.

No, not the color.

All right, you've got breasts beneath that sweater.

If they're real.

You...

Back at work, I just hung around, directed improvements, watching my sweltering salesmen screwing aircraft mechanics out of their cash.

[Indistinct chatter]

So what was the problem?

Honest Al was ecstatic.

I was making money hand over fist.

I mean, isn't the making of money the reason for existence?

Isn't it?

After rolling down the driveway that evening, I learned that it wasn't.

No, they haven't called me in months, and they never will call me, nor will any studio ever call me.

My films never made them a dime.

I'm broke, Richard.

I'm down to my last oil, and I can go no further.

Well, this is an original Ruwalt, isn't it, Pop?

Of course.

And all I have left.

Isn't an original Ruwalt worth about $100,000?

Worth is relative, Richard.

My painting is like a framed $1.00 bill businessmen hang on their office wall, a symbolic treatment of the first dollar they've ever made for themselves.

Well, there's a hell of a lot of difference between a framed $1.00 bill and a framed $100,000 bill.

But I know what you mean, Pop.

And I'm all for you.

You've got real integrity, artistic integrity, the only kind that means anything.

The following day I was low.

I was down.

Christmas, goddamn it!

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Way down.

Suit up!

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: I needed male camaraderie, good conversation like I never needed it before.

I needed the toast kings.

Next on the agenda, the icebreaker speech.

Nicky J. Hewlitt.

Welcome.

You have one minute to introduce yourself starting now.

Thank you.

Good evening, toast kings.

The icebreaker speech.

I suppose I feel a lot like a blender.

Ahem.

Uh, I work over there at Van Paul Restaurant Supply.

People say I'm off to a flying start, and I suppose they're right.

I've already been promoted.

I don't want to brag, but here I am today in charge of sales for sector "G."

It won't be easy, I know.

All the traveling and long hours, paperwork, but I'm willing to do what I need to to get kicked upstairs.

Sales. This country was founded on salesmanship.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Meaningless.

Christopher Columbus was our first great salesman, convincing the queen to let him make this voyage and discover our great country, and I'm happy to be continuing in that tradition as well.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Wasted lot.

What a great thought that is, a tradition carried down from generation to generation.

I mean, think about it...

MODERATOR: Time!

Atta boy, Nicky!

Ha ha!

I didn't know.

I didn't know.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Our lives were so short, so little time for creativeness.

And yet we're wasting it... letting it slip through our fingers.

Like goddamn sand!

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: But that was it.

Creativeness.

To create something.

One thing.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: That was all.

And then maybe two things.

But above all...

One thing.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: And at that very moment, I knew what I was going to do.

My thoughts were hazy, and I wasn't positive until the day I danced with mother.

You've come to dance with me.

Come on.

[Dramatic classical music playing]

All right, why not?

Uh!

Some dancer.

The hell with it.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: And so we danced, mother and me.

The longer I danced, the better I became.

I chased... I pursued, made impossible leaps and came down as lightly as a wind-wafted cigarette paper.

I pranced... cavorted... darted... turned, and glided.

And did a mad foutee until I almost lost my reason.

At last, at long, long last, the music swelled.

[grunting]

And I was done.

[Speaks French]

It was so beautiful.

So beautiful.

So beautiful.

[Panting]

So beautiful.

MOTHER: Oh, Leo, don't get so emotional.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: The next day, I did not go to the lot.

Instead I drove to Exposition Park and descended to the cool basement of the Los Angeles Museum.

I knew the time for fooling around was over.

The time had come for me to create something, one creative accomplishment that would wipe away the useless days.

I have been a single package, my reason for being here.

As an artist, I was limited to what I could do.

Painting, sculpture, music, architecture, writing a novel...

All of these art forms take years of apprenticeship.

But I knew I could write and direct a movie.

I knew it.

I knew what movies were all about.

I had seen thousands.

And Leo would help me.

Hell, yes, I would talk to Leo.


MOTHER: Richard, supper's ready.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: By the time mother shouted up the stairs, I had an entire movie outlined in my head, including the title.

The title first.

"The Man Who Got Away."

I like the title.

The title is a clue to the whole damn movie.

Now as far as the theme is concerned, the movie is about America, Mr. Average American.

The hero is a truck driver.

His job is the dullest imaginable.

He drives from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and the next day he drives back, 10 hours each way.

Worst possible existence for anybody.

In the first part of the film, his unhappiness is established.

Messy house, the screaming kids, that kind of thing.

He's always glad to get back to his truck.

At least he's alone in the cab.

The next day is supposed to be his day off.

After a few hours at home in that kind of atmosphere, he calls the dispatcher and tells them he's changed his mind.

The guy is really worn out.

The average moviegoer will recognize the foreshadowing.

You know.

I know.

The rest of the picture is now the highway, atmosphere at first.

Truck stops, coffee, the other drivers tired and defeated men, swampers, hitchhikers, blowouts, vapor locks.

Montage effect.

Not exactly.

A much slower pace, a dull, dragging pace.

The hero's inner tension builds, a near fistfight.

His disposition gets surlier.

He buys a pint, takes a few drinks.

This would really tip off the audience, get 'em interested in what comes next, and then it happened.

He's wheeling down the road like an automaton.

A child darts out onto the freeway in front of his truck, a little girl out picking wildflowers.

That's touching as hell.

And she has her dog with her, a puppy.

Bang!

He runs over the little girl, squashes her flat.

Scene couldn't be sadder than a son of a bitch.

Ok, now, here he was, a nobody.

Now all of a sudden he's the most important man in California.

Everybody in the state's interested in him.

He's done something!

Roadblocks are erected.

He plows right through them.

He has this enormous monster of a semi and nothing can stop him.

A highway patrol car gets after him.

He forces it off the road. The two patrolmen are killed.

Now they're really after him!

The entire highway is cleared all the way to Los Angeles.

He's all alone on Highway 101.

A good place to work in some symbolism a man against the world.

But down in Santa Barbara they are getting ready for the poor bastard.

The people are working like mad at the junkyard, pulling old wrecks out and piling them up on the highway to make a king-size roadblock.

Will they have it ready in time?

Back and forth our camera pans, the driver's white and frightened face, the frenzied workers, the police are lined up with rifles and machine guns.

Here he comes barreling down the highway to his doom.

The idea of deserting his truck never occurs to him.

The truck is his real home.

He only knows he has to keep driving, and there's the roadblock ahead of him, hundreds of cars piled up across the 4-lane highway and a steep wall on each side.

He can't go around it or under it, so he crashes right into it.

His truck flips over and catches fire.

He catches on fire. He's burning.

He stumbles blindly from the cab, a human torch.

There's one good Samaritan in the crowd, and he rushes over to the hero to throw a blanket over him to put the fire out, but the vicious crowd turns savagely on the Samaritan and knock hell out of him.

The police empty their pistols, rifles, and machine guns into the burning body of the truck driver.

It's all over.

The final scene, the poor guy who tried to help the driver gets to his feet.

His mouth is bleeding where someone hit him.

He's kind of dazed.

He asks a policeman, "Why did everyone turn on me?

What did I do wrong anyway?"

The policeman is very serious.

"You tried to help him, that's what."

Well?

That's the end, Pop.

That's the end?

That's the end.

Well, will it make a movie, Pop?

Yes, Richard, it would make a movie.

But how much would it cost, rock bottom?

You're gonna write the scenario?

Yes, and direct it.

I want you to produce it, Leo.

You're the producer.

You handle all the dough, the details, the paperwork.

Be your chance to get back on top again, Pop.

Let me sleep on it, Richard, do some figuring with a pencil.

We'll talk some more in the morning, all right?

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: I had him hooked, and I knew it.

I knew it.

POP: Yes, Richard, it would make a movie.

[Horse neighs]

BECKY: We don't need the light, do we?

All right, Becky, the joke's over.

You better get into your things and run back in the house before Leo finds out.

Oh, no, you don't. Ah!

I have waited a long time for this chance, and I'm never gonna get up the nerve to do it again, so you've got to go through with it, Richard, you've just got to.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: For weeks Becky had been asking me about boys.

And I had taken the time to explain the many contraceptive devices and venereal diseases she would be likely to encounter.

Go ahead and look. I don't care.

I want you to see for yourself they're real.

I knew how deceptive teenage males could be, and I didn't want Becky romanticizing them, but now she was romanticizing me.

You're going to make love to me, and I'm not leaving here until you do.

What if I don't want to?

Oh, you want to.

I know.

[Horse neighs]

All right, you win.

Let me just get up and smoke a cigarette first.

I'll get the cigarette.

I didn't want Becky involved with some immature tattooed youth who would work the word "love" into his pitch.

That would be unnecessarily emotional for her.

Never mind the damn cigarette.

[Gasps]

If I continue in this vein, how will I be able to establish a strong viewer identification?

The average moviegoer has a tendency to identify himself with the lead character, to project himself into the story and actually live the story with the thoughts, emotions, and actions of the lead character.

Poor viewer.

You better get into your things and hustle back to the house before Leo wakes up.

Thanks for the party, Kid.

Any night you feel like you want it, come on over.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Becky never came back, but then I never expected her back.

We were still friends of course.

I had solved her problem, and she had solved mine at the time.

And I saved the girl from any emotional and physical involvement with another male of any age for a long, long time.

[birds chirping]

Jesus, Pop, did you stay up all night?

Sit down, Richard.

This is rough as hell.

It's a lot to you and me, but practically nothing to a studio.

Look at the salary for the principals.

No actor would work for that.

That's where you're wrong, Pop.

For one thing, we're after nobodies.

Secondly, it's a good story.

It could make the right man.

This is much too low.

The music alone could run as high as $25,000.

I'll just hire some son of a bitch with a guitar for 50 bucks a day.

It's a solution maybe.

Pop, if your budget is anywhere near accurate, we can do it.

I can dig up 50 grand in cash, 40 of it in Honest Al's dough.

As long as he gets his checks every month, he won't investigate what I'm doing with his working capital.

And right up there, Leo...

is a clown worth 50,000 in cash at least.

My clown?

Your clown.

What the hell, Leo, you'll get it back.

With close to 50,000 in a story, you can talk to the man at Mammoth.

He still remembers you.

All you have to do is talk him into putting up the rest of the dough and loaning us some contract people he's paying anyway.

That's all I have to do?

That's all.

I've got to see the script, Richard.

Never mind the script. I'll write the script.

Can we do it?

We can do it. [pounds desk]

Call the man.

The man should really call me first.

I know that, Leo.

He doesn't know we have a story.

It's crazy.

I know.

Give me the phone.

[Dialing]

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: "The Man Who Got Away."

Synopsis by Richard Hudson from an original idea by Richard Hudson.

A truck driver driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles runs over and kills a child.

He tries to get away.

He doesn't.

Steinberg. 4:00 appointment with the man.

Sell it, Pop.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: For the next two hours I sat in a Chinese restaurant two blocks away from Mammoth drinking hot tea and nursing self-doubts.

More tea, sir?

If by chance we were in, my real troubles would begin.

I was jettisoning everything I'd worked for during my last 10 years:

A good job, Honest Al's trust, most of his dough, too.

If the movie bombed and I couldn't recoup its cost, I would not only risk being blackballed in the used car business, I might end up in jail.

LEO: We're in!

The man bought all of it:

You to write and direct, me to produce.

Mammoth will put up facilities and staff in lieu of cash which is even better than I expected.

It was such a low-budget, he didn't think twice.

We've been assigned a bungalow, Richard.

We start working tomorrow.

Ha ha!

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Except for the single highly unsatisfactory episode with Becky, there had been little time in my schedule for women, and once I became involved in full-scale work on my movie, there would be even less time.

What? What's the matter?

You're supposed to be helping me work on the script.

Don't!

You promised not to make me feel guilty.

Ok, ok.

You know something, Laura?

You seem a little too intelligent, well educated to be a writer's secretary.

A degree from Stanford?

Seems you could do better.

It's a start, Mr. Hudson.

Richard.

Richard.

I hope to be a writer someday, too.

I've done a few things already at college, and a job at the studio, any kind of job, seemed like a good place to begin.

And I can learn so much from writers like you.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: I had to laugh at myself.

[inhales deeply]

When a man starts doing weird stuff like that, he needs a woman in the worst way.

[Laughing]

[Screaming]

Aah!

Green 33, green 33, hut, hut!

Ah!

Uh!

Could you eat a horse, Laura?

No, but I could eat a small Shetland pony.

Let's drive to the hangover house instead, settle for a prime sirloin.

Oh, that would be wonderful.

Oh, but my hair looks terrible.

The steak won't mind.

I'm really anxious to start work on your script.

I read the synopsis you wrote.

And there seems to be so much leeway.

I mean, it's a really good story and all, I suppose, but there seems to be a million possibilities.

It seems that way to me, I mean.

I don't work like other writers.

Two more scotch and sodas.


Just a minute, Richard.

Before you get started, I better explain the rules.

Yeah.

Number one, you can kiss me, but not too wet.

I don't like it.

Two, you can fondle my breasts, but that's it.

When you're ready, just tell me, and I'll... I'll relieve you.

You'll what?

I'll relieve you. You know what I mean.

I'm a virgin, Richard, whether you believe it or not, and I intend to stay that way.

So you're one of those fellatio experts.

What's that?

Don't worry about it, Laura.

Well, I don't understand.

[engine starts]

I've never had any objections from anybody before.

I'm not one of your schoolboy dates, that's all.

Good night, Laura.

Don't you want to kiss me good night?

Thanks. I kiss too wetly.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: After a lukewarm shower, I changed into my pajamas.

Bored, I picked out a copy of "T.S. Eliot's Collected Poetry" and idly flipped the pages.

"And I who will inherit a son

"will proffer my deeds to oblivion, "my love to the posterity of the desert, the fruit of the gourd."

[Click]

[Dramatic classical music playing]

"Because I do not hope to turn, because I do not hope.

"Desire in this man's gift and that man's scope, "I no longer strive to strive towards such things.

Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?"

[Tires squeal]

[Crying]

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: The combination of music and poetry had unlocked a hidden spring.

To what can equal the tragedy of a strong man's tears?

Bitter.

Stick to the story, stick to the story.

The movie is 90 minutes long, 6 short reels in time.

An insane rule, I know, but there it is.

This is bungalow 19.

WOMAN: Mr. Hudson, welcome to Mammoth.

The studio assigned me a secretary, a Miss Laura Harmon.

Yes, sir, a very competent woman.

I agree. For typing maybe.

But I don't think she's quite ready to work with a writer.

I'm sending her back, but I recommend her for the typing pool.

I don't understand...

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Desperate to complete the scenario, I holed up with a Dictaphone in a downtown suite.

I was already a week behind schedule and was determined to free myself of all distractions, female or otherwise.

Hudson, over Dictaphone: The camera catches the hero...

[Knock on door]

Come in.

It's me.

How did you find me, Bill?

Your mother told me where you were.

You must have really snowed her to find out.

I told her not to tell anybody.

I did, but it's important or I wouldn't have bothered you.

What I'm doing is more important.

What are doing anyway?

I haven't seen you in over a week.

The damn cars aren't moving, the salesmen won't wear their Santa Claus suits.

Call Fred McCullers in Pasadena.

He's a jobber.

You tell him that you're working for me and that I need some creampuffs.

He won't cheat you.

He owes me a couple of favors.

Get out on the lot yourself Bill.

I know it's hot, but if you're out there watching the salesmen, they'll produce, and if they don't, fire them, hire others.

But the Santa Claus suits will be worn.

Next, take out a full-page ad in the "Times" and list new rock-bottom prices.

Cut down to exactly 100 bucks profit on every car.

At that price, all you have to do is get good credit risks.

The sellin' will take care of itself.

Feel better?

A whole lot better.

How much dough's in the bank?

About 44,000.

Withdraw a certified check made out to me for 40,000 and bring it to me here.

That's a lot of money, Richard.

Sure it is.

You'll be short on capital, but hold up on payment of your deliveries from McCuller's for a couple of weeks.

And write in your next report as to how that we needed the cash to buy new stock from the lot that's closing down in San Diego.

But what if Honest Al calls and asks me about it?

Think of a gimmick, for Christ sake.

You've got to do something for your 400 a month.

If you're really stuck, get a high school mathematics teacher to juggle your figures for you.

For a hundred dollar bill, a math teacher will do anything.

Ok, Richard.

I'm not on any secret project, Bill.

I'm writing a movie.

When I get it written, I'm gonna direct it.

Ha ha! I'll be goddamned.

I'm out of my field, all right.

I've got this story in my mind, the characters and everything.

But I've been in this room for two days, and I haven't written a single word.

Not a word.

Have you ever been in that situation?

I don't even have a conception of what you're doing.

I wouldn't know where to begin either.

But I know this much about writing.

You have to write something, anything.

When a captain of infantry tells you he wants to boot a man out of the service, for instance, the first sergeant has to do the paperwork, and the writing has to be effective, Richard, because the captain wants the guy the hell out.

It's hard work.

The first board I wrote almost drove me crazy, but the guy was bounced out of the service, and I didn't have a damn thing to go on except that the captain didn't like the man!

What's the secret, Bill?

Rewrite.

First one word at a time.

When you get enough pages done, you have something you can read.

If you can read it, you can revise it.

If you can revise it, then you'll come up with something pretty good.

All writing is like that.

Couldn't be any other way.

I'd better be going.

Ok, get me that check before you do anything else, Bill.

Keep things going down on the lot for me.

I don't know how you got into this movie business, but if anyone can come out on top, you can.

Thanks, Bill.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: The next 10 hours were the most gratifying hours and the hardest hours I ever worked.

And I was proud of the people I created on paper.

They were composites of every buyer who had bought used cars from me during the last 10 years.

I had them.

Damn it, Leo, he could read the script in a half-hour.

He's kept us sweating blood for 3 days.

Take it easy, son.

He may have a few suggestions, but I don't think he'll turn it down.

The script is good, isn't it?

I'm not worried. He'll be crazy about it.

You really think he'll like it? I do.

I hope so, Richard.

I hawked my clown this morning.

[Telephone rings]

LAURA: Darling?

Hello?

Richard, darling, I've got to see you right away.

Get the hell off the line and don't call again.

I'm expecting an important call.

Please don't hang up.

Who was it, Richard?

Laura Harmon, that sex-crazed secretary I told you about.

[Telephone rings]

Get rid of her.

Yes, this is Mr. Steinberg.

[Mouths words]

Yes, sir.

Yes, sir.

Yes, sir.

The man wants to see us, Richard.

Both of us.

MAN: I'd rather you didn't smoke.

Did you hear the story about the director who took a vacation in Miami?

No, sir, we haven't.

I believe it goes something like this.

The director flew to Florida one day ahead of his wife.

Checked into this year's hotel.

After being shown to his suite by the bellboy, he asked the bellboy to send up a little entertainment.

5 minutes later, a beautiful blonde arrived.

He asked her, "How much?"

Her price was $100, and the director was indignant.

"$100? I've never paid more than $10 in my life."

And with this dismissed the blonde.

The next day his wife arrived and they went down to the beach.

Pretty soon the beautiful blonde whore walked by.

She stops, looked at the director, looked at his wife, and said, "See what you get for $10?"

Ha ha!

Ha ha!

[Choking]

Oh, ho, that was good.

"See what you get for $10?"

I'll have to remember that one.

What about the script?

I liked it, Hudson.

Stop by the comptroller's office when you leave, Leo.

He has the budget for your production.

3 weeks. That's all the time you get...

Mr. Director.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: I needed a truck driver, and he had to be perfect...

Defeated, cynical.

The whole picture would fall flat.

I couldn't quite picture him in my mind except for a bitterly twisted mouth.

The rest of his face was a complete blank.

My new assistant director Milo knew of just such a mouth.

Where the hell are we supposed to find him?

The guy at the theater said he rides a horse.

Just have to split up and look.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: 6 years ago Milo had seen Chet Wilson act in some medieval play about witches and mountains.

If Wilson was watering orange trees for a living and he still had the acting ability Milo described, he'd have a bitterly twisted mouth, all right.

[Horse neighs in distance]

Hey, Wilson!

Over here! I want to talk to you!

You're Chet Wilson, aren't you?

[Spits]

I'm Richard Hudson from the studios.

I want you to read for me.

Shall I compare thee to a fucking turd?

Thou art more simple and more desperate.

Rough winds do shape the darling stools of maids.

And diet's peace has far too long a path...

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: His evil parody made the notion of love and tenderness obscene.

I push...

It was a real discovery.

Stomach's changing course untrimmed.

Climb down off your high horse.

I want to see how tall you are out of the saddle.

You want to hear anything else?

No, you'll do.

I've got a part for you.

What part?

I've been thinking about giving up acting altogether.

Think again, then.

You've got the starring role in "The Man Who Got Away," a Mammoth production.

A movie?

That's right.

And just who in the hell are you anyway?

The writer and director, and you're the lead.

Come on, I've got the contract in the car.

A director is not an electrician.

An electrician can pin his job down exactly.

He furnishes light where it is required.

He knows exactly what he's doing.

I was working in the abstract with nonobjective viewpoints toward a certain objective that was a nebulous idea.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Once in a while I would catch myself thinking about the difference, and then it would take great mental effort on my part to force such thoughts out of my mind.

What bothered me, though, was the sense of unreality in what I was doing.


I felt as though I was an unreal person creating a reality that might become unreal if I didn't keep my eyes open every single second.

But unreality or not, I had a schedule to go by.

The schedule was my lifeline to reality.

All in all, I think I did a pretty fair job of hanging on,

especially on one tricky scene involving Mildred Chance, a real American housewife I'd discovered in the meat section of Dale's Market on Van Nuys Boulevard.

Action.

The scene depicted the truck driver hero and his wife attempting to make love to each other before he left on his final run to Los Angeles.

Sure do wish you could make the run with me tomorrow.

The love between them had disappeared years before, and the futile attempts to find it had to be shown to establish the pathos and futility of their lives.

The children wear me out, Dear.

Cut!

Because of her lack of talent, Mrs. Chance became bored... Cut!

Tired! Cut!

Disgusted. Cut!

And developed a passionate hatred for Chet Wilson because he was so good, which was exactly what I wanted.

Except for this one tender moment.

Come away.

Oh, the talents of God.

Do it for me again.

Those children wear me out.

Good!

Try it with the sentence.

The children wear me out.

Empathize with Chet, couldn't you for his sake?

The children wear me out.

Try again. That's your best yet.

The children wear...

Excuse me. And action.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: It isn't hard to be a director, not at all.

CHET: Come on, baby. Come to Chet.

Whassup?

Why is everyone so hard on me?

What did I do wrong anyway?

You tried to help him, that's why.

How in the hell did you ever get the reaction on the faces of that mob during the crash scene?

Have you ever heard of Zelda?

She's a stripper from the Trinidad Club.

We told the extras there would be a slight delay in shooting and that we would provide them some entertainment in the interim.

[Laughter]

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: She did her disrobement act on the piled-up wrecks, and as the crowd watched, we filmed their faces.

LEO: I got to hand it to you, Richard, every face held a different reaction.

Actually their faces would probably look the same way if they were really watching a body on fire.

I know the saying is old, but it still holds true:

Movies are made on the cutting room floor.

I know, I know.

Anyone want to see it again?

I do!

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: I had the movie shown

3 more times in its entirety.

By the second run, the film no longer excited me.

By the third I managed to get my impersonal detachment back again and take notes for editing.

The pacing had gotten away from me.

It was much too erratic for good continuity.

It was impossible for me to retake any scenes, so we had to cut... and cut we did.

When we finished editing, the movie had perfect pacing.

It was exciting, realistic, and a work of art.

I was a man with a message, and my message was

"The Man Who Got Away."

What do you think, Ruggerio?

With the sound effects and music dubbed in, it'll be a little masterpiece.

I've never seen anything quite like it before.

Unfortunately, we're gonna have to put back

27 minutes of film.

3 minutes could be taken in titling, but the other 24 are gonna have to be just plain old padding.

Can we pad 24 minutes and still maintain the pace after I've set the mood and so on?

Nope, but we got no choice.

Why is that?

You know as well as I do, Mr. Hudson, that a movie is 90 minutes long, 6 full reels.

That's the business.

But unnecessary padding will ruin my movie.

Not really.

We could stretch the hell out of that chase down the highway.

We've got stock stuff that I haven't even seen yet, reel after reel of it:

City views, wildflowers, traffic jams, all kinds of stuff.

I remember a western once where I stretched out a desert chase 25 minutes with long shots of different guys riding on horseback.

Nobody knew the difference.

People like chases.

"The Man Who Got Away" isn't a western.

Yeah, but he doesn't really get away either.

It's the same thing as a big chase.

Damn it, no!

As far as I'm concerned, my movie will run as it is, 27 minutes short, period!

I'm not gonna ruin my movie because of some stupid ruling that says it has to be 90 minutes long.

That's up to you, Mr. Hudson, if you can get it by the man.

It doesn't make a difference to me.

But you can't.

I only wish you could.

Will you back me in this thing, then?

Will you go to the man with me and insist that the movie should be left as is at 63 minutes?

Nope.

I'll tell 'em the truth.

The movie's too short.

Well, I think that you are a son of a bitch, Ruggerio.

Tell me one thing, yet you'll tell the man another.

I'm not telling you any lies, Mr. Hudson.

A movie is 90 minutes long.

How would you like an upper lip full of front teeth?

I wouldn't like it, Mr. Hudson, but that wouldn't change anything either.

You want to take a swing at me? Go ahead.

But a movie is still 90 minutes long.

Mine won't be. Is that understood?

Yes, sir.

All right, attend to the title and the credits.

You keep your damn mouth shut about the length of my movie.

I'll have the music and sound effects put in myself.

You're the director, Mr. Hudson.

Oh, you're damn right I am!

Ha ha!

[Feedback]

HUDSON: Are you ready?

The juice is buzzing in the box.

Ok, Flaps, tune down fine, and I think you know all the cues.

But once again, during the opening, I want you to play as mean and lowdown as you can.

How many times have you seen the movie now?

5 times, and it's good, Mr. Hudson.

Thank you. Would you like to see it cold again before we start?

No, sir, I'm ready to play.

You want another dry run?

No, sir, I'm ready. I'm ready.

How about questions? Do you have any questions at all?

Any at all?

No, sir. Movie damn near broke my heart.

All right, well, play that way, then, Flaps.

When the movie starts, I'm gonna be in the booth, and I'll give you the finger like this.

You bang it out hard. Forget me.

Forget the people in the booth, everything else except what you see on that screen.

If you feel like humming while you play, go ahead.

I like the way you did last time.

I didn't mean to start humming like that, Mr. Hudson, Sometimes I do it 'cause I just can't help it.

That's all right, Flaps.

I like it. You're a true artist.

Did you notice during the last run-through your name sitting up there all by itself, separate frame?

"Music by Flaps Hartwell."

I almost fainted when I saw that, Mr. Hudson.

That's the way I work, Flaps.

Where credit is due, I give it.

You deserve credit for the music, and I'm giving it to you.

Millions of people all over the world are gonna see your name on that screen, and when this movie gets released, you're gonna have a tote sack full of mail from people you never heard of.

When the film starts, Flaps, you're on your own.

We're only gonna do this once because I want the music to be spontaneous.

I want to make that clear.

I won't be able to help you.

You'll just have to watch and play, watch and play, and let the emotion you feel come from this.

I'm ready, gosh darn it, and I done told you 100 times, I'm ready!

MAN, OVER P.A.: We're ready, too, Mr. Hudson.

[Bell rings]

Mammoth Studios, "The Man Who Got Away," reel one, cue one, first and last take.

[Semi truck rumbling]

[Dirty guitar playing]

[Horn honks]

All ready for the man, Pop.

Where are the other two reels?

It just so happened I didn't need 6 reels.

63 minutes were all I needed.

I was under the impression you'd have trouble cutting to 90 minutes.

But 63?

I realize it's a bit unorthodox, Pop, but I had to cut.

That's all there is to it.

You don't think maybe you could add, say, one more reel?

Another 15 minutes?

No, nothing. I couldn't add another 15 seconds.

The movie is perfect as is.

I'll stake my reputation on it.

What about mine?

Well, I'll stake yours, too.

[Dirty guitar playing]

This isn't just another movie, Richard.

I know it isn't.

It'll make people angry.

That's right.

There will be letters. Bound to be.

That little girl.

[Horn honks]

The tire marks across her white dress.

Too bad it isn't in color.

That little girl is very disturbing.

You're putting it mildly.

The music frightens me.

Good, isn't it?

The movie isn't cynical.

[Gunfire]

It's bitter.

Right. If that's how you want to put it.

Why are you so unhappy?

Oh, I'm not unhappy, Pop.

I'm the happiest man in the world.

No!

If you will please refrain from any more outbursts until I complete my plans in detail for "The Man Who Got Away."

You on his side or mine, Leo?

Can't you just listen?

For once in your life listen.

"The Mammoth Hour" will be a television series of 13 one-hour film shows starting with "The Man Who Got Away."

The entire series will attack inequities in the American way of life through adequate documentation.

Segregation, taxation, unions, any and all of the problems affecting the American people.

It's a grand plan, Richard.

Mr. Steinberg has agreed to be the executive producer of the series, and he will have free rein.

Nepotism is not unheard of in Hollywood, Mr. Hudson, and I'm certain your stepfather will allow you to direct some of the better scripts at $1,500 a show.

You'll have your choice, Richard.

Your movie contains all the elements that I was looking for in a pilot.

A shocker.

It will cause angry comments, letters, and editorials.

You'll be the most talked about writer/director on television.

Now, tell me you object.

"The Man Who Got Away" is exactly 63 minutes long.

In a one-hour television drama there is first the announcer, one minute.

He announces the host.

The host informs the audience about what they're gonna see.

Two minutes.

Then there are the commercials every 15 minutes.

That's another 10 minutes.

Not counting the station break at half-hour, and then the end, more host.

You exaggerate, Mr. Hudson.

No, I don't.

All that would be left of my movie would be about 40 minutes.

"The Man Who Got Away" is like a giant snowball going downhill and getting larger with danger and suspense until it explodes!

A single break in continuity, the effect is gone.

Now, on television, your movie will reach 50 million people.

Who can follow it?

Part of what you say is true, there will be a host and commercials.

But I'll be the host, and I'm positive the movie can be cut in many places without complete loss of continuity.

And with your approval on each cut...

I won't ok anything!

This is a movie, an m-o-v-i-e!

It was designed for movie theaters with a full audience in attendance.

If it is projected in a theater, it'll tear the guts out of the audience, throw 'em down the aisles, but it can't do that on television!

Not a chopped up with deodorant and sanitary pad commercials!

Exactly!

Your piddling one-hour movie would scare moviegoers to death in a movie theater.

It has to be broken up to destroy the realism.

But there will be enough realism left for an artistic triumph.

You had better wake up, Mr. Hudson!

I am in this chair to make money for Mammoth Studios and for no other reason.

On Leo's faith in your ability, I took a chance, and it has paid off.

Don't you think you're being a little unreasonable, Richard.

Oh, not you, Pop?

I mean, I understand this stupid son of a bitch.

All he's concerned about is making money, but you, Leo, you!

You're only thinking about yourself.

Try and understand my side.

This is my opportunity.

That's enough, Mr. Steinberg.

You are excused, Hudson.

What do you mean, "excused"?

'Cause I own a third of the movie and Leo owns another, where does that leave you?

With 2/3.

It was part of the deal.

In return for my rights, I was given a 7-year contract at the end of the series.

In my place, you would have done the same.

[Glass smashes]

You rat.

I'm sorry.

How did I splash you?

Like this?

Ah!

I've been trying to figure out what color your hair is.

It's clear.

School's over, huh, Richard?

No more grade 9, Charlie.

At least 'til next year.

WOMAN: Hi, Ricky.

Free ride on my handlebars if you come out this week.

Could we get that Coke some other time, Richard?

I really must be running.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: In one terrible moment, I realized that I had reached a point of no return.

It was nice to meet you.

In a pair of swimming trunks, I was a man in the eyes of a woman.

But on dry land on the seat of a Schwinn, the illusion was broken.

From that moment on, my childhood was over.

I began to dress the part, act the part.

And I moved into the adult world with its adult veterans.

But when I fled blindly from the office of the man almost in tears, I knew that I was still a child in an adult world.

People like Leo and the man feed on men like me.

And borrow our dreams for their own ends because they're too grown up to have any dreams of their own.

Like getting rid of a moth.

A moth will follow a light.

You can lead them right out the door if you know the trick.

Watch it, pal.

[Click]

When the porch light is finally switched off, the moth is out in the cold and cannot understand what happened to all the pretty lights.

5 minutes under a cold shower and 3 cups of instant coffee peeled away several layers of drunkenness.

I felt mildly exhilarated, light, strong, and angry.

Leo was, after all was said and done, a genius.

If his nose was to be broken, it should be done so respectfully.

Now is the time for all good and bad to come to the aid of their party.

Right-o, Mr. Hudson.

He couldn't wait.

He couldn't wait to get his damn clown back.

[Grunting]


Good evening, Mr. Hudson.

Working late tonight, huh?

Look forward to seeing your movie.

What are you doing in my office?

I wanted to see you, Richard.

Ok, you've seen me. Now get out.

Not until I've talked to you.

Go ahead and talk, then.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Throughout her little speech, I pulled out all of the mimeographed copies of "The Man Who Got Away."

The scripts would make an excellent fire.

This time you're gonna listen to me.

Talk fast. I'm leaving in a minute.

No, you're not going anywhere.

I'm pregnant.

Yeah? Go on.

You have to marry me, Richard.

No.

I've been going crazy.

I couldn't see you. I couldn't get you on the telephone.

I even wrote you a letter.

We get a lot of crank letters at the studio.

You don't understand.

I'm gonna have a baby.

Our baby, Richard.

Does the light bother you?

The studio has a campaign, you know, saving electricity.


HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Somewhere in this library in 4 cans my movie was filed away, but it would take too long to find it.

It was much easier to burn the entire library.


[siren]

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: After burning down the studio, I was thirsty and lonely.

By accident I happened to select a fairy hangout, but that didn't bother me.

It wasn't that I wanted contact companionship, male, female, or in between, I just wanted to be near people.

Tell the boy to sing it again.

Yes, sir.

It's a very popular song here.

MAN: ♪ My buddy ♪

♪ My buddy ♪

♪ Nobody... ♪ My buddy.

My buddy Leo...

♪ My pal ♪

[Jingles]

Thank you, sir, and God bless you.

One minute, Captain.

I'm gonna give you some more money, but you're gonna have to wait until the waiter brings me some change.

All ones.

♪ I dream about you ♪ How long have you been doing this?

Almost 25 years now, but my husband had more than 30 years of service before he died.

We traveled all through Europe together.

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Why should she tell me indirectly she was a widow?

I had merely asked an indifferent question to have someone to talk to for a couple minutes.

But our favorite was I.A.

Why hadn't I ever suspected Leo the way I suspected this poor, innocent woman for no reason at all?

Would you like a cold drink, Captain?

And then I had to know.

Oh, no.

Bring a Coke for the officer and another one of these for me.

I had to make the test.

And then I would truly know once and for all.

I've got a deal for you.

Who do you think you are?

How dare you.

After two more drinks apiece, it was time for the test.

Just incredibly rude.

When was the last time you had a man?

No, keep your...

I'm all right.

You might enjoy the evening.

In the end, we settled on 150 cash.

I would have gone higher, much higher.

I had no feelings of triumph.

She had her price, just like everybody else I had ever known.

Like Leo, the one man in the world I had respected for incorruptible integrity.

I had Rio over, and she clacked away, loquacious with excitement of the unaccustomed liquor.

It began to sink in:

Anyone and everyone could be bought.

I remember I used to take money from my mother's purse.

Started out with pennies, and then I moved up to nickels, and then I finally took some dimes, and I felt really bad about that.

Captain Louise Havershaw, widow, saver of souls, and now at the age of 53, call girl.

All at once I knew I couldn't go through with it.


8:00 wake-up call, room 101.

[Click]

[Telephone ringing]

Well, not the face of a failure surely.


HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: Somehow I had gotten reality mixed up with a dream, a bad dream.

Now that the dream was over, I had to get back to work, sell cars, as many of them as possible so I could get even again, get Honest Al even again.

Movies were not for me, Richard Hudson.

My kind of artistry was salesmanship, the selling of used cars.

Bill, come out here!

Are these men supposed to be salesmen?

Sure, Richard, they're working for us.

Not anymore. Tell them to turn in their suits and head for the showers.

Pay 'em off.


[Ringing bell]

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: I resolved to sell the first person who stepped on my lot an automobile whether I lost money or not.

In my mind, I set a goal of 10 cars for the first day.

[Sirens]

And then I heard the siren.

MAN, OVER POLICE RADIO: Wanted for public indecency, embezzlement, arson, assault, destruction of public property.

God rest ye merry gentlemen.

Ho ho ho!

HUDSON, VOICE-OVER: And that's what I learned about storytelling at Mammoth Studios.

A likeable and sympathetic hero, one who affords a good measure of your identification...

That's me, all right.

Is faced with the necessity of solving a serious and urgent problem which affects his vital interests.

The hero makes an effort to solve this problem, but this only succeeds in making matters worse.

MAN: That is a take.

Is it?

Finally there's an integrated series of complications which build up an intensity until a definite point of crisis is reached.

It is here the viewer cannot possibly understand how the hero can possibly succeed.

But he does.