‘The American Dream, Overrated Freedom’ Original Script by Ross McNeil



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‘The American Dream, Overrated Freedom’ Original Script by Ross McNeil

an Original Script

by Ross McNeil

FADE IN:
INT. A CHURCH IN A WEALTHY SUBURB OF NYC. –- DAY


There is a man and a woman at the alter declaring there vows. The sun is beaming through the church window, making the church glow. The man is THOMAS CRAWFORD, 36, medium build, handsome, dressed impeccably in a tuxedo and extremely happy (smiling). Opposite him is the soon to be Mrs. ELIZABETH CRAWFORD, 30, beautiful, dark hair and dressed in a typical expensive wedding gown. Behind them is the priest and to their right stands the best man ANDREW JACKSON, 35, good looking, athletic build, he is also smiling. As the camera moves back down the aisle, we see the church is full of family and people tearfully happy.
THOMAS (V.O)

August 15th 1996. The happiest day of my life. I could see the joy in my fathers face, as he got to see his only son get married.

(beat)

He had cancer and passed away 2 days later.


EXT. THE FRONT ENTRANCE OF THE CHURCH -- DAY
The happy couple leave arm in arm to cheers from family and friends and upon exit confetti is thrown, reflecting in the sunlight as it falls. The couple share a kiss on the steps of the church.
THOMAS (V.O) My mother had died during childbirth, but I am sure she would have been as happy as Dad, just more tears.

(beat)


Elizabeth shone in that dress, she lit up the church. I believed my love would never end. Little did I know.

(beat)


Little did I know.
BLACKOUT:
CUT TO:
EXT: DARK ALLEY IN THE BACKSTREETS OF NYC – EVENING (COLD/RAIN)
FIVE YEARS LATER
In the alley we see THOMAS CRWAFORD. He has a long beard, dressed in rags and has blistered, bleeding feet. His hair is long and unkempt down to his shoulders and his face is dirty. He is a homeless man. We can see his breath clearly in the street light, it almost freezing. A small dog, 8 years old, is at his feet.

THOMAS is stacking up crates that he has gathered from other alleys underneath a fire escape landing. He is drinking from a whiskey bottle as he works. He pulls down the ladder from the fire escape landing and begins to climb it. Once at the top he starts to tie a length of rope to the landing lowering it down above the crates. The camera pans down to a noose at the end of the rope, we realize he is going to hang himself. The odd car rolls by in the background.


He climbs the crates, puts the noose over his head, looks skywards and kicks the wooden crates out from under him. The rope goes tight.
He hangs for about 5 seconds. Dog barking.
BLACKOUT: (During the blackout we hear a snap and then the sound of the crates being broken) Up comes the title of the movie ‘THE AMERICAN DREAM’
EXT: ALLEY IN THE BACKSTREETS OF NYC –- DAY
The opening credits roll over shots of THOMAS awakening and realizing that the rope had broken the night before. He is lying on the smashed crates that broke his fall, where he passed out. We get a good shot of his face that is cut and dirty. The dog licks his face, waking him up. He sits up.
EXT: A TYPICAL BUSY NYC STREET – DAY (WINTER- RAINING AND COLD)
The credits continue to roll as THOMAS is shown to be wandering the streets dazed with his dog by his side. He is physically thrown out of shops and verbally abused. He is limping.
Across the street he sees a group of 4 homeless men gathered around, drinking soup. He limps over.
THOMAS

(Nervous)

Where did you get that soup from?
HOMELESS MAN 1

Does this look like soup to you boy?

This aint no damn soup, just heated water with ketchup init’. Tasted motherfuckin’ dirt that be better.
Another member of the group speaks, he is an old man.
HOMELESS MAN 2

Its in there son. Better be quick there though, they is nearly out.


THOMAS

Thanks.
He hurries off into the building nearby. The dog follows him.


INT: HOMELESS SHELTER – DAY


The shelter (A makeshift church) is packed with vagrants. There is a crucifix on the wall and on the far side a table, with a soup kettle on it. A huge line of people dressed like THOMAS extends to the other end of the room. There are three Salvation Army workers handing out cupfuls of soup. In the middle of the room there are long tables where people are sitting almost in dead silence drinking their soup. On the near side, to the right of the entrance are 3 fold-away beds, each of which are being slept upon. Men are also sleeping on the floor. THOMAS joins the queue watched by GILBURT SULIVEN (GIL), from across the room.
GILBURT (V.O)

I first laid eyes on THOMAS CRAWFORD in early December 2003. He looked a broken man. I remember OSCAR, his dog, by his side, obviously a pedigree and in far better health than his owner.


Thomas looks around nervously.
GILBURT (V.O)

I don’t know why, but he looked intelligent, still had that sparkle in his eyes which meant the street hadn’t quite beaten the living shit out of him. I thought he’d be easy pray.

(beat)

The best thing I ever did in my life was meet THOMAS CRAWFORD.



A Salvation Army worker approaches.
SHELTER WORKER

I’m sorry but there are no animals allowed in in here.


THOMAS He has never been on his own before ...
SHELTER WORKER Well ... These are the rules.
THOMAS

(Getting Angry) Come on! Its freezing out there, give him a break, he’s just as cold and hungry as me.


GILBURT SULIVAN (Impatient) Are you gonna’ get that fuckin’ thing outta here so I can get my soup.
THOMAS feels a tap on his shoulder and turns to see GILBURT SULIVAN, 59, African American, unshaven, wearing a torn raincoat and rain hat.
THOMAS (Now really angry)

Would you excuse me sir, I am trying...

GILBURT

(Interrupts)



--I knows what you is trying and it aint hapnin’ while the soup is runnin’ out. You understands me son.—
SHELTER WORKER

(Firmly)


Would you keep your voice and language down. This is a house of God.
THOMAS

(Calming down)

Well, would you take him outside and see he is alright? I don’t want him stolen.
SHELTER WORKER

(Softly Spoken)

I’ll put him in the back out of sight, he should

be alright there.


THOMAS

Thank you.


Gilburt rolls his eyes
GILBURT

You aint’ been on the streets for long have you boy.


THOMAS

Five months, what’s it to you?


GILBURT

Bullshit! You aint’ been out here for more than three weeks.


THOMAS

What would you know?


GILBURT

Way you talk. That pedigree dog you drag around. Heck no one called me sir in 15 year and that was the cops, you just a poor, down on your luck yuppie boy, prob’ly blew all ya green on crack, sumthin’. Take a look around, these guys were born into this shit. You stand out like gold on a nigga. If I were you, I’d stop talkin like that son, that shit get ya killed.

THOMAS

What do I care?


GILBURT

--You’ll care when the fuckers in here get to know you must be carrying about $3000 worth of gold round you finger--


THOMAS covers his wedding finger up with his other hand. He looks around the shelter and sees a group of four vagrants staring at him.
THOMAS Maybe I want to die?

GILBURT If ya wanted to die my white brother, ya would av’ done it already. Got no fuckin’ balls.


Both men keep moving as the line keeps moving.
THOMAS

I’ve already tried.


GILBURT

When ... ?

(laughs)
THOMAS

Last evening.


GILBURT

What the fuck happened?


THOMAS

(Almost under his breath)

Rope broke.
GILBURT is really laughing now
GILBURT

The rope broke! The fuckin rope broke!


THOMAS

(Getting quieter)

Yes.
GILBURT

The rope doesn’t just break man. You knew it would snap. You are just one more sorry fucker, looking for a way out. When you are ready you’ll blow your fuckin’ head off or jump your white ass of the Broklyne Bridge someday. If your serious you don’t use rope.


The two vagrants move closer to the table.
GILBURT (cont’d) Sure, you may have choked to death, but most of the time that shit breaks, especially if you used some old rope out the garbage. Why do ya think people throw that shit out.
THOMAS Why are you telling me this?
GILBURT

I like ya kid. Stick wit me, I can help.

THOMAS

(agitated)



I don’t believe you, your only speaking to me for my wedding ring. This is a scam. Leave me alone.
GILBURT

Easy man, don’t want you killin’ youself.

(laughs)

Both men move to the front of the queue. THOMAS gets the last cup of soup as the shelter has just run out. GILBURT realizes as he approaches the table.


Gilburt appears to snap.

GILBURT


You yuppie son of a bitch. Give me my fuckin’ soup. You stole fuckin’ my soup, ya ungrateful bastard.
He lunges at THOMAS, but THOMAS is much younger and quicker and avoids his advancing fists, causing GILBURT to fall to the ground, knocking over a table and others soup. Thomas exits quickly and whistles causing the dog to follow him out.
FADE OUT:

FADE IN:


EXT. 5th AVENUE NYC RUSH HOUR —- EVENING (LIGH RAIN – COLD)
CUT TO:
INT. MERCEDES SALOON CAR – EVENING
The car, a brand new Mercedes, is being driven by ELIZABETH CRAWFORD. She is dressed in a business suit and talking on a cell phone.
ELIZABETH

(Angry)


Fire him. I don’t give a... I told him to have those figures on my desk by 5.00pm, it is now—

(looks at watch)

--8.02 and your telling me they are not there. I am not running a day care here. I know this is common threat but I mean it, if he is there Monday, you wont be there Tuesday.
She hangs up the phone.
ELIZABETH (Cont’d)

Fucking asshole.

(to herself)
ELIZABETH (Cont’d)

What is up with the traffic! Come on!


Gives 2 long blasts on the horn.
CUT TO:
EXT. A LARGE SUBURBEN HOME –- EVENING
ELIZABETH pulls into the driveway.
CUT TO:
INT. A LARGE SUBURBAN HOME (Lobby/Hall) -- EVENING
ANDY (O.S)

(Loudly from another room)

Honey is that you?
ELIZABETH

(Her mood lightens)

Yeah. Is dinner ready?
ANDY (O.S)

Sylvia is just putting it on the table now. We’ve got lobster.


We see ANDREW JACKSON, now 40, sitting in the living room in front of a roaring fire place. He is watching football on a large screen television. There is a large brandy on a side table next to ANDY’S chair. We see the maid, SYLVIA, 65, placing the food on the table in the background.
ELIZABETH enters the room behind ANDY. He cant see her, so she moves slowly up behind.
ANDY

Oh. You scared the b’jesus out of me.


ELIZABETH

Scary good or scary bad?


She leans over and they share a passionate kiss.
ANDY

Scary good.

SYLVIA

(Polite and cheerful)



(Latino accent)

Mrs. Jackson good evening. Dinner is ready.


ELIZABETH

O.K. Sylvia. Give me 1 minute ...

(irritated)
ELIZABETH (Cont’d)

Cant I just have 2 minutes to relax when I get in?


ANDY

Give this one a chance hey. She does a good job.


ELIZABETH stands up, gives ANDY a small kiss and leaves the room.
ELIZABETH

Just got to get out of these work clothes.


ANDY also gets up and enters the dining room.
ANDY

This looks wonderful. You’ve done another great job.


SYLVIA

Oh! Thank you Mr. Jackson.


ANDY takes a seat.
ANDY

Sylvia. What wine do we have? Bring in two bottles of red would you.


SYLVIA returns and displays two bottles of red wine.
ANDY (Cont’d)

Ah! The ‘76’. That will be fine. Thank you.


SYLVIA

Your welcome Mr. Jackson.


ELIZABETH returns.
ANDY

Hard day at work?


ELIZABETH

You have no idea. I fired Bradbury, Financial Analyst for the Jameson Project.


ANDY

Why? What did he do?


ELIZABETH

Missed a deadline.


ANDY


(Sarcastic)

How dare he?


ELIZABETH

Don’t start O.K.I am not going to let some lazy asshole screw my company out of clients. He seems to think we are the only financial advisors in New York.


ANDY

Well, honey you just need to relax. Let one of the other partners do the work for the change.


ELIZABETH

(Drinking wine)

I can’t relax. If I relax I lose control.
ANDY Oh, the bank wanted you to call.

ELIZABETH

They found me. Which reminds me. They faxed over our account papers which I need your signature on.
ANDY I’ll sign it tomorrow.
ELIZABETH No, I’ll get it now, one of us will forget tomorrow.
She leaves the table.
ANDY Sylvia! You haven’t got a spare napkin in there have you? I’ve got lobster all over me.
ELIZABETH returns.
ELIZABETH Just sign where the cross is.
ANDY

Honey, have I got sauce all over me? Sylvia must be in the laundry room. She can’t hear.


ELIZABETH

(Begins to wipe his face)

I’ll clean you up. You get this thing signed so I can drop it into the bank tomorrow morning.
ANDY

You’re the expert.


He signs. We see ELIZABETH smile
Both ELIZABETH and ANDY take bites of the lobster dinner and sip their wine.
WE MATCH CUT TO:

EXT. A CONCRETE AREA UNDER AN OVERPASS – EVENING


THOMAS picks an old sandwich out of a garbage can. (Contrast of the two different worlds) He begins to eat it, sits back and looks around. He tries to clean up his bleeding feet. The camera pans round and we see various other homeless people.
Two homeless people, a man and a woman are just having sex. Others just lay wrapped in what ever they can find.
Suddenly THOMAS gets hit across the head with an iron bar. He falls to the ground bleeding, dropping the moldy sandwich. Lying in a rain puddle he looks up. He is still conscious. He realizes that it is the same group of four men that were eyeing him up in the homeless shelter.
THOMAS

Dazed.


No. Don’t --
The vagrant jars the butt end of the iron bar into THOMAS’ stomach. The four men drag THOMAS to his feet and push him up against the wall. We see one man drop his trousers.
TIGHT ON THOMAS’ FACE
THOMAS’ face shows pain as he is raped by each of the four men. When they are finished they drop him to the ground, spit on him, laugh and walk off. THOMAS passes out.
BLACKOUT
FADE IN:
THOMAS awakens. The puddle that he lays in is now red with blood. In his blurred vision he sees someone lying on the ground without a blanket. He moves over. As he gets close we realize that the person is just a small boy, maybe 15 years old. He shakes him, but gets no response. We see no breath into the cold air. THOMAS checks his pulse.
THOMAS

(Frantic)

HELP, HE’S NOT BREATHING, HELP! --
No one moves.
THOMAS (Cont’d)

--HELP! Will no one help.


No one moves. THOMAS sees a payphone and runs towards it. OSCAR the dog stays with the boy.
We move to shots of an ambulance showing up. THOMAS is wrapped in a blanket that the ambulance crew have given to him. They are dressing his wounds.
THOMAS (V.O)

About 5 years prior, I was on my way to work and I passed a homeless man, who was being robbed. I did NOTHING, the police officers across the street did nothing, I gave it no more thought, I was late to work. Now here I am. All of the homeless, the bums, the hobo’s, the tramps, swept in under bridges. Out of sight out of mind.


We see the boys body being zipped up in a body bag on a gurney.
THOMAS (Cont’d V.O)

The boy, that had probably been dead for a day or so, was picked up and taken away. He died from exposure, meaning he froze to death. There will be no obituary in the paper or report on the local news. No flowers laid where he died. It’s just easier to believe he was just some crack head junkie, one less to warp our children’s minds.


THOMAS leans back and closes his eyes.
FADE OUT:

FADE IN:
EXT. A CONCRETE AREA UNDER AN OVER PASS -– DAY


THOMAS wakes up and notices that OSCAR, the dog, is missing.
THOMAS

Oscar, Oscar, here boy!

(Whistles)
THOMAS (Cont’d)

Hey Oscar, where are you boy.


Begins searching around.
CUT TO:
EXT. A TYPICAL NYC SIDE STREET –- DAY
We see, OSCAR, searching around in a garbage can for some food.
EXT. A TYPICAL BUSY NYC MAIN STREET –- DAY
OSCAR is trotting along the street. The camera is just above him, following him.

CUT TO:
EXT. A TYPICAL BUSY NYC MAIN STREET --DAY


A shot of GILBURT SULLIVEN smoking, leaning against the wall. He looks on the ground about 20 yards away and notices something shiny, it looks like a small purse. Just as he is about to pick it up, OSCAR, grabs it and runs off.
GILBURT

Hey! What the fuck.


Begins to chase
GILBURT (Cont’d)

Stop that dog!


We see the dog cut down an alley, with GILBURT running out of breath behind. GILBURT slows and leans against a wall, then continues to chase.
EXT. A CONCRETE AREA BELOW AN OVERPASS -- DAY
The dog runs up to THOMAS who is still looking for him.
THOMAS

There you are boy. What have you got?


The dog doesn’t want to drop it. So Thomas begins to tug on it.
THOMAS (Cont’d)

OSCAR! Drop it!


The dog relents and drops the purse on THOMAS lap. It is a small purse about 5 inches with a brass clip.
GILBURT comes round the corner and sees THOMAS with the purse.
GILBURT

You son of a bitch. You stole my soup and now your taken my ...


THOMAS

Your what?


Hides the purse.
GILBURT

Aggressively approaches


My coin purse. You stoles my coin purse.
THOMAS

Oh yeah! How much is in it?


Stands up

GILBURT


Bout’ 10.
THOMAS shakes the purse
THOMAS

There isn’t any coins in here.


GILBURT

Alright, but I’s found it first.


THOMAS

If you found it first then you would be holding the purse.


GILBURT

Well what the fuck is in it, man?


Brings the purse out from behind his back. GIL tries to grab it.
THOMAS

What the hell are you doing?


THOMAS pushes him away.
GILBURT

Alright just open it.


THOMAS opens the purse nervously.
THOMAS

(Loudly)


Holy ... There must be $500 in here!

GILBURT


Would you keep your fuckin’ voice down. You start shoutin’ that shit, we be dead before we hit the ground.
THOMAS

Well we better hand this in.


GILBURT

You crazy boy. You gone and lost your damn mind.


THOMAS

Well, this belongs to someone.


GILBURT

You damn right ... us!


THOMAS

No, this could be someone’s rent money or something.

GILBURT Man, you really don’t know shit. You think this is some little old ladies savings! Who carries around 500, in a small black purse, with no motherfuckin’ I.D., credit cards, or change in it?
THOMAS

I ... I ... don’t –-


GILBURT

Dealers boy. This is drug money!


THOMAS

What are we going to do with it?


GILBURT

We are going to keep it and we aint gonna say nothin’ to nobody.


CUT TO:
EXT. OFFICE BUILDING IN NYC –- DAY
We see a shot of an expensive office building. Outside the main entrance is a revolving sign ‘JACKSON, HOLDEN, MCINTYRE Consultancy’.
INT. BOARDROOM – DAY
ELIZABETH is at the head of a large oval table. We see the room is very grand. There is a chandelier hanging above. You can almost smell the rich mahogany wood that encumbers the room. There are 15 other business men and women sitting around. Giving a presentation at the front of the room is GARETH DICKERSON, 31, Hispanic decent.
GARETH

The change is simple. We are not focusing on the correct areas and are losing clients who are perceiving us as not being state of the art in offshore banking. Our turnover last quarter was 6.34 million dollars --


ELIZABETH is looking disinterested causing GARETH to lose his focus.
GARETH (Cont’d)

-- Um yes, this figure is under that of other consultancy firms, such as TRANS GLOBAL, that have released the previous quarters income statement to stockholders.


Turns to the graphics projected behind him
GARETH (Cont’d)
Our market —-
ELIZABETH interrupts
ELIZABETH

--And what market might that be Mr. Dickerson?


GARETH

(Nervous)

Our market, Ma’am, is that of big business who need their finances to work for them.
ELIZABETH

And, why do you think they come to us?


GARETH

Reliable invested expertise, sound advice and peace of mind.


ELIZABETH

Is there any information coming from you that I couldn’t get from our brochure or commercials?


GARETH

Is there a problem ma’am?


ELIZABETH

Two actually. First, don’t call me ma’am. I am not your grandmother. Secondly, our clients come to us because we are experts in one particular area of finance.

(beat)

And what is that?


GARETH

Mergers and takeovers?


ELIZABETH

Good guess. Mergers and takeovers. If we lose focus on that and start switching to other areas, our clients lose, our stockholders lose, and therefore I lose. You said it yourself we are not known for off-shore taxes, and I am not going to risk my company by spreading ourselves too thin. Steven, Alec would you like to add anything?


STEVEN

Not from me? Alec?


ALEC

No. Anybody who has a question?


Nobody wants to answer.

ALEC (Cont’d)


O.K. We’ll end here and meet again on Wednesday 1600 hours.
The two gentleman speaking are STEVEN HOLDEN, 61, and ALEC MCINTYRE, 65. Both men are equal partners in the company with ELIZABETH.
All the middle level managers get up and begin to leave the boardroom. ELIZABETH gets up out of her chair.
STEVEN

Excuse me ELIZABETH, can I speak with with you in private for a moment.


ELIZABETH

Can it wait until tomorrow?


STEVEN

No. I really must ...


Steven is interrupted by a young man, he knocks on the door and enters.
JOSHUA

Mrs. Jackson, you have a phone call.


ELIZABETH

Who is it?


JOSHUA

Sir Stanley Rickman. He’s calling from L.A.


On her way out of the room.
ELIZABETH

Steven, I must take this phone call. He’s our most valuable west coast client. I’ll speak to you later.


She leaves.
The man interrupting is JOSHUA BUCKLEY, 28, tall, dark and handsome. He is ELIZABETHS personal assistant.
ELIZABETH walks down the office corridor.
INT. LARGE OFFICE –- DAY
JOSHUA is waiting. ELIZABETH enters and he closes the door behind her. They both share a long passionate kiss, moving over to the desk. She sits on the desk and he starts to unbuttons her shirt, revealing her bra.

ELIZABETH

What about the call?
JOSHUA

There was no call.


She smiles and they continue to kiss.
JOSHUA (Cont’d)

Did he sign the papers?


ELIZABETH

Yes. I have them.


JOSHUA

Then we are in the clear.


In between kisses
JOSHUA (Cont’d)

You ...


(beat)

Can ...


(beat)

Leave ...

(beat)

Him now.
ELIZABETH



Not yet.
JOSHUA pulls away.
JOSHUA

What do you mean not yet? You said once

he signed we could be free to be together.

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