O Brother, Where Art Thou?

                               "O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU"
                                 Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
               In black, we hear a chain-gang chant, many voices together, 
               spaced around the unison strike of picks against rock. A 
               title burns in:
               O muse! 
               Sing in me, and through me tell the story 
               Of that man skilled in all the ways of contending... 
               A wanderer, harried for years on end...
               On the sound of an impact we cut to:
               A PICK
               splitting a rock.
               As the chant continues, wider angles show the chain-gang at 
               work. They are black men in bleached and faded stripes, 
               chained together, working under a brutal midday sun.
               It is flat delta countryside; the straight-ruled road 
               stretches to infinity. Mounted guards with shotguns lazily 
               patrol the line.
               The chain-gang chant is regular and, it seems, timeless.
               We slowly fade out, returning to
               The last of the voices fades.
               After a long beat we hear the guitar introduction to Harry 
               McClintock's 'The Big Rock Candy Mountain.'
               A WHEAT FIELD
               A road cuts across the middle background. Noonday sun beats 
               We hear the distant picks and shovels of men at work and 
               see, rising above ground level, the occasional upraised pick 
               and spade heaving dirt. Men are digging a ditch alongside 
               the road.
               After a long beat, three men pop up in the wheat field in 
               the middle foreground. They wear faded stripes and grey duck-
               billed caps. They scurry abreast toward the camera, throwing 
               an occasional glance back at the ditch-diggers. A clanking 
               sound accompanies their run. Oddly, the wheat between them 
               sweeps down as they run. After a brief sprint they drop back 
               down into the wheat.
               In the background a man enters frame left, strolling along 
               the road, wearing a khaki uniform and sunglasses, a shotgun 
               resting against one shoulder. He glances idly down into the 
               ditch and strolls on out of frame right.
               The three men rise back up from the wheat and, clanking, 
               resume their sprint.
               THREE PAIRS OF EYES
               They are topped by three cap bills, and peer out from behind 
               a blind of greenery. We hear distant whistling.
               The men are looking at a weathered barn. A young boy, 
               whistling, is heading down the road that leads away from the 
               barn, jiggling the traces of the old plough horse that leads 
               him. He turns a corner and is gone.
               The three clanking men (we can now see their leg irons) are 
               awkwardly chasing a chicken around the yard. The squawking 
               yardbird doesn't need to move much to elude the three bunched 
               COUNTRY LANE
               It curves in a gentle S into the background. It is sun-
               dappled, pretty.
               We hear clanking footsteps approaching at a trot.
               The three men enter in the foreground and trot on down the 
               lane. The leftmost has a flapping chicken tucked under one 
               The three men sit in a side-by-side arc around a dying fire, 
               one of them contentedly picking his teeth with a small chicken 
               bone, another wiping grease off his chin with a sleeve, the 
               third idly poking at the fire with a spit.
               Each of them, still bound by chains, clinks as he moves.
               One of them abruptly cocks his head, listening.
               The others notice his attitude and also freeze, listening.
               We hear the distant baying of hounds.
               ROLLING HILLS
               From high on a ridge we see the three chained men running 
               toward us.
               In addition to their clanks we hear a distant chugging sound.
               Laterally with the clanking, running feet.
               The chugging sound is very loud.
               Next to a freight train. A boxcar door is open.
               INSIDE THE BOXCAR
               The lead convict hooks an elbow in and starts hauling himself 
               up, his two clanking friends keeping pace outside.
               Six hobos sit in the boxcar, lounging against sacks of 
               O'Daniel's Flour. They impassively watch the convict clamber 
               in as his two confederates run to keep up.
               The convict hauls himself to his feet. In spite of his stubble 
               he has carefully tended hair and a pencil mustache. He is 
               As he dusts himself off:
                         Say, uh, any a you boys smithies?
               The hobos stare.
               Everett gives an ingratiating smile as, behind him, the second 
               convict starts to haul himself into the boxcar, the third 
               convict still keeping pace outside.
                         Or, if not smithies per se, were you 
                         otherwise trained in the metallurgic 
                         arts before straitened circumstances 
                         forced you into a life of aimless 
               The convict running outside the boxcar door stumbles and 
               disappears and the middle convict is yanked out immediately 
               after. Everett, just finishing his speech, flips forward in 
               turn, smashes his chin onto the floor and is sucked out the 
               open doorway, his clawing fingernails leaving parallel grooves 
               on the boxcar floorboards.
               The hobos impassively watch.
               The three men tumble, clanking, down the track embankment.
               Squush - they come to a rest in swampland at the bottom.
               They shake their heads clear, then rise to their feet in the 
               muck and watch the train recede.
               Its fading clatter leaves the baying of hounds.
                         Jesus - can't I count on you people?
               The second con is Delmar.
                         Sorry, Everett.
               Everett looks desperately about.
                         All right - if we take off through 
                         that bayou-
               The third con, Pete, bald but also with beard stubble, angrily 
               cuts in.
                         Wait a minute! Who elected you leader 
                         a this outfit?
                         Well, Pete, I just figured it should 
                         be the one with capacity for abstract 
                         thought. But if that ain't the 
                         consensus view, hell, let's put her 
                         to a vote!
                         Suits me! I'm votin' for yours truly!
                         Well I'm votin' for yours truly too!
               Both men look interrogatively to Delmar.
               He looks from Pete to Everett, and nods agreeably.
                         Okay - I'm with you fellas.
               Everett makes a sudden hushing gesture and all listen.
               The baying of hounds is louder now, but through it we hear a 
               distant scrape of metal against metal, like the workings of 
               a rusty pump. The men turn in unison to look up the track.
               A small, distant form is moving slowly up the track toward 
               As it draws closer it resolves into a human-propelled flatcar. 
               An ancient black man rhythmically pumps its long seesaw 
               The three convicts look out at the swampland which begins to 
               show movement, the bowing grass trampled by men and dogs.
               The flatcar draws even and slows.
                         Mind if we join you, ol' timer?
                                     OLD MAN
                         Join me, my sons.
               The three men clamber aboard and the old man resumes pumping.
               The three men exchange glances; Delmar waves a clanking hand 
               before the old man's milky eyes. No reaction.
                         You work for the railroad, grandpa?
                                     OLD MAN
                         I work for no man.
                         Got a name, do ya?
                                     OLD MAN
                         I have no name.
                         Well, that right there may be why 
                         you've had difficulty finding gainful 
                         employment. Ya see, in the mart of 
                         competitive commerce, the-
                                     OLD MAN
                         You seek a great fortune, you three 
                         who are now in chains...
               The men fall silent.
                                     OLD MAN
                         And you will find a fortune - though 
                         it will not be the fortune you seek...
               The three convicts, faces upturned, listen raptly to the 
               blind prophet.
                                     OLD MAN
                         ...But first, first you must travel 
                         a long and difficult road - a road 
                         fraught with peril, uh-huh, and 
                         pregnant with adventure. You shall 
                         see things wonderful to tell. You 
                         shall see a cow on the roof of a 
                         cottonhouse, uh-huh, and oh, so many 
               The cloudy eyes of the old man stare sightlessly down the 
               track as the seesaw handle rises and falls through frame.
                                     OLD MAN
                         ...I cannot say how long this road 
                         shall be. But fear not the obstacles 
                         in your path, for Fate has vouchsafed 
                         your reward.  And though the road 
                         may wind, and yea, your hearts grow 
                         weary, still shall ye foller the 
                         way, even unto your salvation.
               The old man pumps - reek-a reek-a reek-a - as all contemplate 
               his words.
               Loud and sudden:
                                     OLD MAN
                         IZZAT CLEAR?
               The men start, then mumble polite acknowledgement.
               The railroad tracks wind to the setting sun. Reek-a reek-a 
               reek-a - the flatcar rolls, in wide shot, toward the golden 
                                                                   FADE OUT
               A hot dusty road leading up to a lone farmhouse.
               The three men walk, clanking and abreast.
                         How'd he know about the treasure?
                         Don't know, Delmar-though the blind 
                         are reputed to possess sensitivities 
                         compensatin' for their lack of sight, 
                         even to the point of developing para-
                         normal psychic powers. Now clearly, 
                         seein' the future would fall neatly 
                         into that ka-taggery. It's not so 
                         surprising, then, if an organism 
                         deprived of earthly vision-
                         He said we wouldn't get it! He said 
                         we wouldn't get the treasure we seek!
               Everett grows testy:
                         Well what does he know - he's an 
                         ignorant old man! Jesus, Pete, I'm 
                         telling you I buried it myself, and 
                         if your cousin still runs this-here 
                         horse farm and has a forge and some 
                         shoein' impediments to restore our 
                         liberty of movement-
               Bang! A rifle shot kicks up dust in front of the men.
                                     CHILD'S VOICE
                         Hold it rah chair!
               The front of the farm house shows only a harshly shaded front 
               porch and a dark screen door.
               The screen door swings open and a child emerges on to the 
               porch and steps down into the sunlight, holding a gun almost 
               bigger than he is. The grimy-faced boy, about eight years 
               old, wears tattered overalls.
                         You men from the bank?
                         You Wash's boy?
                         Yassir! And Daddy tolt me I'm to 
                         shoot whosoever from the bank!
               He pokes his rifle at the three men, who raise their hands.
                         Well, we ain't from no bank, young 
                         Yassir! I'm also suppose to shoot 
                         folks servin' papers!
                         Well we ain't got no papers.
                         Yassir! I nicked the census man!
                         There's a good boy. Is your daddy 
               THE BACK OF THE HOUSE
               Wash Hogwallop, a sour-looking bald man, sits near a rusted 
               bathtub in a yard littered with ancient car parts and farm 
               implements overgrown with weeds. He is whittling artlessly 
               at a stick.
               He glances up as the three convicts clank around the corner, 
               then returns to his whittling.
                         'Lo, Pete. Hooor yer friends?
                         Pleased to make your acquaintance, 
                         Mister Hogwallop. M'name's Ulysses 
                         Everett McGill.
                         'N I'm Delmar O'Donnell.
                         How ya been, Wash? Been what, twelve, 
                         thirteen year'n?
               Still looking sourly at his whittling:
                         You've grown chatty.
               He tosses the stick aside and sighs.
                         I expect you'll want them chains 
                         knocked off.
               The four men and little boy sit around the kitchen table 
               eating stew. A Sears Roebuck catalogue on the boy's chair 
               brings him to table height. The cons are now rid of their 
               chains and are dressed in ill-fitting farmer's wear.
               They foreclosed on Cousin Vester. He hanged himself a year 
               come May.
                         And Uncle Ratliff?
                         The anthrax took most of his cows. 
                         The rest don't milk, and he lost a 
                         boy to mumps.
                         Where's Cora, Cousin Wash?
               Wash glances at the little boy.
                         Couldn't say. Mrs. Hogwallop up and 
                         Mm. Must've been lookin' for answers.
                         Possibly. Good riddance, far as I'm 
               The three men slurp their stew.
                         I do miss her cookin' though.
                         This stew's awful good.
                         Think so?
               He sniffs dubiously at his spoon.
                         I slaughtered this horse last Tuesday; 
                         'm afraid she's startin' to turn.
               LIVING ROOM
               Later. The four men sit about listening to a big box radio. 
               Wash is whittling once again; Everett dips his comb into a 
               pomade jar and carefully works on his hair; Pete is digging 
               around with a toothpick; Delmar dreamily waves one hand in 
               time to the music.
               The music ends.
                         Well, that's the last number for 
                         tonight's 'Pass the Biscuits Pappy 
                         O'Daniel Flour Hour.' This is Pappy 
                         O'Daniel, hopin' you folks been 
                         enjoyin' that good old-timey music, 
                         and remember, when you're fixin' to 
                         fry up some flapjacks or bake a mess 
                         a biscuits, use cool clear water and 
                         good pure Pappy O'Daniel flour for 
                         that 'Pass the Biscuits, Pappy' 
                         flavor.  So tune in next week folks, 
                         and till then whyncha turn to your 
                         better half and sing along with Pappy: 
                         'You are my sunshine, my only 
               Everett clears his throat.
                         Well, guess I'll be turning in...
               He screws the lid back on the pomade.
                         Say, Cousin Wash, I guess it'd be 
                         the acme of foolishness to inquire 
                         if you had a hairnet.
                         Got a bunch in yon byurra.  Mrs. 
                         Hogwallop's, matter of fact.  
                         Hepyaseff; I won't be needin' 'em.
               THE THREE MEN
               Sleeping in a hayloft. Everett wears a hairnet over his 
               painstakingly arranged hair.
               Pete snores on the inhale. Delmar whistles on the exhale.
               A spotlight plays over the hayloft ceiling and a voice booms:
                                     BULLHORN VOICE
                         All right boys, itsy authorities.
               The three men rouse themselves.
                                     BULLHORN VOICE
                         We gotcha surrounded. Just come on 
                         out grabbin' air!
               Everett shrugs his shoulders and peeks down into the barnyard.
                         Damn! We're in a tight spot!
               From high we see a foreshortened lawman holding a bullhorn 
               surrounded by armed deputies.
               Next to the man with the bullhorn, a tin-starred sheriff 
               watches impassively through mirrored sunglasses, a bloodhound 
               drooling at his side.
                                     MAN WITH BULLHORN
                         And don't try nothin' fancy - your 
                         sitchy-ation is purt nigh hopeless.
                         What inna Sam Hill...?
                         Pete's cousin turned us in for the 
                         The hell you say! Wash is kin!
               An unamplified voice echoes up from the yard:
                         Sorry Pete! I know we're kin! But 
                         they got this Depression on, and I 
                         gotta do fer me and mine!
               Pete screams down from the hayport:
                         I'M GONNA KILL YOU, JUDAS ISCARIOT 
                         HOGWALLOP! YOU MIS'ABLE HOSS-EATIN' 
                         SONOFABITCH! YOU-
               RAT-A-TAT-A-TAT- Everett pulls Pete down as a tommy gun spits 
               lead into the hayloft.
                         Damn! We're in a tight spot!
               Pete is enraged:
                         Damn his eyes! Pa always said never 
                         trust a Hogwallop-COME'N GET US, 
                                     BULLHORN VOICE
                         So be it! You boys're leavin' us no 
                         choice but to smoke you out.
                         Oh no! Lord have mercy!
               Men approach the barn with torches.
                         What do we do now, Everett?
                         Fire! I hate fire!
                         YOU LOUSY TIN-WEARIN' MOTHERLESS
                         BARNBURNIN' COCKROACHES-
               Everett cuts in, his voice breaking:
                         NOW HOLD ON, BOYS-AINTCHA EVER HEARD 
                         OF A NEGOTIATION? MAYBE WE CAN TALK 
                         THIS THING OUT!
                         Yeah, let's negotiate 'em, Everett.
               The hayloft is filling with smoke. Flames lick downstairs.
                         YOU LOUSY YELLA-BELLIED LOW-DOWN 
                         Now hold on, Pete, we gotta speak 
                         with one voice here - CAREFUL WITH 
                         THAT FIRE NOW, BOYS!
               Pete grabs a flaming faggot and hurls it down at the deputized 
               It lands harmlessly in some scattered straw.
                                     BULLHORN VOICE
                         You choose it, boys - the prison 
                         farm or the pearly gates!
               The straw curls, lights, and the fire scuttles over to a 
               parked Black Maria.
               With a loud airy WHOOOF! the undercarriage of the police van 
               pops into flame.
               The man with the bullhorn sees it.
                                     MAN WITH BULLHORN
                         Holy Saint Christopher - OUTA THAT 
                         VEHICLE, CHAMP, SHE'S LICKIN' FAR!
               Tommy guns are stored in the back of the van. The drum of 
               one starts spinning.
               Flames lick up the outside of the van as - chinka-chinka-
               chinka - bullet holes walk across the body.
                                     MAN WITH BULLHORN
                         Take cover, boys, THAT AIN'T POPCORN!
               Yelling men scurry away.
               The vehicle rocks and chatters under the force of the many 
               tommy guns now firing inside. Tires pop, hiss and settle; 
               doors pop open; glass shatters.
                         Who's that?
               An oncoming car is bouncing crazily across the yard, horn 
               blaring. Deputies leap out of its path.
               The car shoots past the chattering van which still bucks and 
               bounces on its shocks, its interior strobing and flashing as 
               if filled with trapped lightning.
               The speeding car heads directly for the flaming barn door 
               and crashes through in a shower of sparks.
               The car brakes inside the barn and the driver's door flies 
               open. The little Hogwallop boy yells over the roar of the 
                         Come on, boys! I'm gonna R-U-N-N-O-F-
               Pete, Everett and Delmar pile in.
                         You should be in bed, little fella.
               The doors slam shut and the boy grinds into gear. He has 
               wood blocks strapped to his feet so that he can reach 
               accelerator, brake and clutch. He sits on a Sears Roebuck 
               catalogue to give him a view over the dash.
                         You ain't the boss a me!
               The car speeds for the far wall, sheeted in flame, and bursts 
               COUNTRY ROAD - DAY
               The little Hogwallop boy walks away in long shot down the 
               middle of the empty road. His walk is unsteady, the wood 
               blocks still strapped to his feet.
               He turns to face us and hollers:
                         You candy-butted car-thievin' so's 
                         'n so's! I curse yer names!
               Pete enters in the foreground and throws a dirt clod at the 
               boy. It lands shy as Pete yells:
                         Go back home'n mind yer pa!
               We pan Pete over to the shoulder where the car is stopped, 
               its hood propped open. Everett and Delmar are looking at the 
                         What's the damn problem?
               DRYGOODS STORE
               The proprietor is a bespectacled middle-aged man wearing 
               sleeve garters and a visor. Behind him are stacked, among 
               other necessaries, sacks of O'Daniel Flour. He pushes a small 
               tin across the counter.
                         I can get the part from Bristol; 
                         it'll take two weeks. Here's your 
               Everett is stunned.
                         Two weeks! That don't do me no good!
                         Nearest Ford auto man's Bristol.
               Everett picks up the tin.
                         Hold on there - I don't want this 
                         pomade, I want Dapper Dan.
                         I don't carry Dapper Dan. I carry 
                         No! I don't want Fop! Goddamnit - I 
                         use Dapper Dan!
                         Watch your language, young fellow, 
                         this is a public market. Now, if you 
                         want Dapper Dan I can order it for 
                         you, have it in a couple of weeks.
                         Well, ain't this place a geographical 
                         oddity-two weeks from everywhere!  
                         Forget it! Just the dozen hairnets!
               PETE AND DELMAR
               On a wooded hillside. They sit at a twig fire, roasting a 
               small creature on a spit.
                                     EVERETT (O.S.)
                         It didn't look like a one-horse 
               He stalks into frame and plops disgustedly down by the fire.
                         ...but try getting a decent hair 
                         Gopher, Everett?
                         And no transmission belt for two 
                         weeks neither.
                         Huh?! They dam that river on the 
                         21st.  Today's the 17th!
                         Don't I know it.
                         We got but four days to get to that 
                         treasure! After that, it'll be at 
                         the bottom of a lake!
               He grimly shakes his head.
                         We ain't gonna make it walkin'.
                         Gopher, Everett?
               Everett has taken out a can of near-empty Dapper Dan. He 
               scrapes the last of it onto his comb and starts combing his 
               We hear distant singing - one lone tenor voice.
                         Well, you're right there, but the 
                         ol' tactician's already got a plan-
               Everett fishes a gold watch from his pocket and tosses it to 
                         -for the transportation, that is; I 
                         don't know how I'm gonna keep my 
                         coiffure in order.
               Pete looks at the watch, puzzled.
                         How's this a plan? How're we gonna 
                         get a car?
                         Sell that. I figured it could only 
                         have painful associations for Wash.
               Pete pops the front and reads the inscription.
                         To Washington Bartholomew Hogwallop.  
                         From his loving Cora. Ay-More Fie-
                         It was in his bureau.
               He screws the lid back on the pomade.
               Delmar whistles appreciatively.
                         You got light fingers, Everett. 
                         You mis'able little sneak thief...
               He lurches threateningly to his feet.
                         You stole from my kin!
               Everett scrambles up.
                         Who was fixing to betray us!
                         You didn't know that at the time!
                         So I borrowed it till I did know!
                         That don't make no sense!
                         Pete, it's a fool looks for logic in 
                         the chambers of the human heart. 
                         What the hell's that singing?
               We can make out the words now, sung by the lone tenor.
                         Oh Brothers, let's go down, come on 
                         down, don't you wanna go down...
               People in white robes are drifting down the hill, through 
               the woods behind the campsite. They join in with the lead 
                         Oh Brothers, let's go down, down to 
                         the river to pray...
               Delmar gazes wonderingly at the white-robed figures as he 
               answers Everett:
                         Appears to be... some kinda... con-
                         gur-gation. Care for some gopher?
               Everett too watches the white-robed people following in the 
               wake of the tenor. He answers absently:
                         No, thank you Delmar - a third of a 
                         gopher would only rouse my appetite 
                         without beddin' her back down.
               There are more and more white robes drifting through the 
               woods, all of them strangely oblivious to the three men.
                         You can have the whole thing - me'n 
                         Pete already had one...
               There is an endless stream now, drifting through the 
               foreground, the background, the campsite itself.
                         Oh, sisters, let's go down, come on 
                         down, don't you want to go down...
                         We ran acrost a gopher village...
               The drifting worshipers wear beatific expressions. One only, 
               a middle-aged woman, notices the three convicts around whom 
               the rest of the flock blindly drifts. She calls to them:
                         Come with us, brothers! Join us and 
                         be saved!
               THE RIVER
               White robes stream down the hill, out of the woods, and down 
               the riverbank. The voices swell in a great chorus:
                         We went down to the river one day, 
                         Studying about that good old way, 
                         And who shall wear that robe and 
                         crown, Oh Lord, show us the way...
               We are booming down to reveal a minister in the foreground. 
               He stands belly-deep in the river, easing a white-robed man 
               back-down into the water. Behind him a line of robed singers 
               lengthens steadily as people stream out of the woods.
               Pete, Delmar and Everett emerge from the woods and gaze down 
               at the river. White-robed people continue to drift past them.
                         I guess hard times flush the chumps.  
                         Everybody's lookin' for answers, and 
                         there's always-
               Delmar wades out into the stream, cutting in line.
                         Where the hell's he goin'?
               Delmar has reached the minister and holds his nose as the 
               minister incantates over him and lowers him into the water.
                         Well, I'll be a sonofabitch. Delmar's 
                         been saved!
                         Pete, don't be ignorant-
               Delmar is slogging back through the water.
                         Well that's it boys, I been redeemed!  
                         The preacher warshed away all my 
                         sins and transgressions. It's the 
                         straight-and-narrow from here on out 
                         and heaven everlasting's my reward!
                         Delmar what the hell are you talking 
                         about? - We got bigger fish to fry-
                         Preacher said my sins are warshed 
                         away, including that Piggly Wiggly I 
                         knocked over in Yazoo!
                         I thought you said you were innocent 
                         a those charges.
                         Well I was lyin' - and I'm proud to 
                         say that that sin's been warshed 
                         away too!  Neither God nor man's got 
                         nothin' on me now! Come on in, boys, 
                         the water's fine!
               The smoldering twig fire. A bloodhound on a leash circles 
               into frame, its tail fiercely wagging.
               We follow it as, nose to the ground and straining against 
               its leash, it waddles over to an empty tin of Dapper Dan 
                                     A VOICE
                         All tight, boys! We got the scent!
               A CAR
               Everett drives, shaking his head with a forebearing smile. 
               Pete, sitting next to him, and Delmar, in back, are both 
               dripping wet.
               Pete is sullen:
                         The preacher said it absolved us.
                         For him, not for the law! I'm 
                         surprised at you, Pete. Hell, I gave 
                         you credit for more brains than 
                         But there were witnesses, saw us 
                         That's not the issue, Delmar. Even 
                         if it did put you square with the 
                         Lord, the State of Mississippi is 
                         more hardnosed.
                         You should a joined us, Everett. It 
                         couldn't a hurt none.
                         Hell, at least it woulda washed away 
                         the stink of that pomade.
                         Join you two ignorant fools in a 
                         ridiculous superstition? Thank you 
                         anyway.  And I like the smell of my 
                         hair treatment - the pleasing odor 
                         is half the point.
               He shakes his head and laughs.
                         Baptism. You two are just dumber'n a 
                         bag of hammers. Well, I guess you're 
                         my cross to bear-
                         Pull over, Everett - let's give that 
                         colored boy a lift.
               A thirtyish black man in worn go-to-meetin' clothes stands 
               on the shoulder, waggling his thumb at the passing car. He 
               grabs his battered guitar case as the car pulls over and 
               trots up to the open window.
                         You folks goin' through Tishamingo?
               Delmar pushes open the back door.
                         Sure, hop in.
               Everett looks at the man in the rearview mirror as he pulls 
                         How ya doin', boy? Name's Everett, 
                         and these two soggy sonsabitches are 
                         Pete and Delmar. Keep your fingers 
                         away from Pete's mouth-he ain't had 
                         nothin' to eat for the last thirteen 
                         years but prison food, gopher, and a 
                         little greasy horse.
                         Thank you fuh the lif', suh. M'names 
                         Tommy. Tommy Johnson.
               Delmar is genuinely friendly:
                         How ya doin', Tommy. I haven't seen 
                         a house in miles. What're you doin' 
                         out in the middle of nowhere?
               Tommy is matter-of-fact:
                         I had to be at that crossroads las' 
                         midnight to sell mah soul to the 
                         Well ain't it a small world, 
                         spiritually speakin'! Pete and Delmar 
                         just been baptized and saved! I guess 
                         I'm the only one here who remains 
                         This ain't no laughin' matter, 
                         What'd the devil give you for your 
                         soul, Tommy?
                         He taught me to play this guitar 
                         real good.
               Delmar is horrified:
                         Oh, son! For that you traded your 
                         everlastin' soul?!
               Tommy shrugs.
                         I wudden usin' it.
                         I always wondered-what's the devil 
                         look like?
                         Well, of course there's all manner 
                         of lesser imps'n demons, Pete, but 
                         the Great Satan hisself is red and 
                         scaly with a bifurcated tail and 
                         carries a hayfork.
                         Oh no! No suh! He's white-white as 
                         you folks, with mirrors for eyes an'  
                         a big hollow voice an' allus travels 
                         with a mean old hound.
                         And he told you to go to Tishamingo?
                         No suh, that was mah idea. I heard 
                         they's a man there pays folks money 
                         to sing into a can. They say he pays 
                         extra effen you play real good.
               Everett's eyes narrow as he studies the man in the rearview.
                         How much does he pay?
               The car is pulling into the parking lot of a single-story 
               cement-block building with a hundred-foot antenna and a 
               handpainted sign:
               SO EASY NOR 
               SO FINE
               As the men get out of the car, Everett snaps his suspenders.
                         All right boys, just follow my lead.
               Everett strides up to a portly middle-aged man who wears 
               dark glasses and holds a white cane.
                         Who's the honcho around here?
                         I am. Hur you?
                         Well sir, my name is Jordan Rivers 
                         and these here are the Soggy Bottom 
                         Boys outta Cottonelia Mississippi-
                         Songs of Salvation to Salve the Soul. 
                         We hear you pay good money to sing 
                         into a can.
                         Well that all depends. You boys do 
                         Negro songs?
               Everett grimaces, thinking.
                         Sir, we are Negroes. All except our 
                         a-cump- uh, company-accompluh- uh, 
                         the fella that plays the gui-tar.
                         Well, I don't record Negro songs. 
                         I'm lookin' for some ol'-timey 
                         material.  Why, people just can't 
                         get enough of it since we started 
                         broadcastin' the 'Pappy O'Daniel 
                         Flour Hour', so thanks for stoppin' 
                         by, but-
                         Sir, the Soggy Bottom Boys been 
                         steeped in ol'-timey material. Heck, 
                         you're silly with it, aintcha boys?
                         That's right!
                         That's right! We ain't really Negroes!
                         All except fer our a-cump-uh-nust!
               THE STUDIO
               The three singing convicts form a semi-circle behind Tommy, 
               who plays his guitar into a can microphone. They are 
               performing a hot and harmonized version of 'Man of Constant 
               When they finish Everett whoops and slaps Tommy on the back.
                         Hot damn, boy, I almost believe you 
                         did sell your soul to the devil!
                         Boys, that was some mighty fine 
                         pickin' and singin'. You just sign 
                         these papers and I'll give you ten 
                         dollars apiece.
                         Okay sir, but Mert and Aloysius'll 
                         have to scratch Xes - only four of 
                         us can write.
               THE LOT
               A caravan of two oversize cars is pulling into the lot just 
               as Tommy and the three convicts burst out of the station 
               door, whooping it up.
               A sixty-year-old man in enormous seersucker pants held up by 
               suspenders and the outward pressure of a blooming belly is 
               getting out of the first car. His face is familiar from 
               countless sacks of Pass the Biscuits Pappy O'Daniel Flour.
               Delmar waves a fistful of money at him.
                         Hey mister! I don't mean to be tellin' 
                         tales out a school, but there's a 
                         man in there hands out ten dollars 
                         to anyone sings into his can!
                         I'm not here to make a record, ya 
                         dumb cracker, they broadcast me out 
                         on the radio.
               A big shambling man of about thirty has followed him out of 
               the car. He has the sloping shoulders, the pasty skin, and 
               the aimlessly bobbing head of an intellectual flyweight.
                         That's Governor Menelaus 'Pass the 
                         Biscuits, Pappy' O'Daniel, and he'd 
                         sure 'preciate it if you ate his 
                         farina and voted him a second term.
               Two other members of the retinue, older men whose girth rivals 
               the governor's, are Eckard and Spivey.
                         Finest governor we've ever had in 
                         In any state.
                         Oh Lord yes, any parish'r precinct; 
                         I was makin' the larger point.
               As Pappy brushes by them, Junior wheedles:
                         Aintcha gonna press the flesh, Pappy, 
                         do a little politickin'?
               Pappy slaps at the young man with his hat.
                         I'll press your flesh, you dimwitted 
                         sonofabitch - you don't tell your 
                         pappy how to cawt the elect 'rate!
               Pappy waves his hat at the radio building as singers in faux 
               hillbilly outfits with various musical instrument cases get 
               out of the second car.
                         We ain't one-at-a-timin' here, we 
                         mass communicatin'!
                         Oh, yes, assa parful new force.
               The men head for the station, with Junior lagging.
                         Shake a leg, Junior! Thank God your 
                         mama died givin' birth-if she'd a 
                         seen ya she'd a died of shame...
               A CAMPFIRE
               It is night.
               Tommy sits in the background, playing and singing a slow 
               blues. The three convicts, holding coffee cups, gaze into 
               the fire.
               Over the dreamy song:
                         Why don't we bed down out here 
                         Yeah, it stinks in that ol' barn.
                         Suits me...
               He stretches out.
                         Pretty soon it'll be nothin' but 
                         feather beds'n silk sheets.
               Pete swishes his coffee as he stares into the blaze.
                         A million dollars.
                         Million point two.
                         Five... hunnert... thousand... each.
                         Four hundred, Delmar.
                         Izzat right?
                         What're you gonna do with your share 
                         of the treasure, Pete?
                         Go out west somewhere, open a fine 
                         restaurant. I'm gonna be the maider 
                         dee.  Greet all the swells, go to 
                         work ever' day in a bowtie and tuxedo, 
                         an' all the staff'll all say Yassir 
                         and Nawsir and in a Jiffy Pete...
               He gives his coffee a thoughtful swish and murmurs:
                         An' all my meals for free...
                         What about you, Delmar? What're you 
                         gonna do with your share a that dough?
                         Visit those foreclosin' sonofaguns 
                         down at the Indianola Savings and 
                         Loan and slap that cash down on the 
                         barrelhead and buy back the family 
                         farm. Hell, you ain't no kind of man 
                         if you ain't got land.
                         What about you, Everett? What'd you 
                         have in mind when you stoled it in 
                         the first place?
                         Me? Oh, I didn't have no plan. Still 
                         don't, really.
                         Well that hardly sounds like you...
               A distant Voice:
                         All right, boys, itsy authorities!
               The three men tense up. Tommy stops singing.
                         Your sitchy-ation is purt nigh 
               Pete shovels dirt onto the fire as Delmar and Everett scramble 
               to peek over a low ridge.
               Their point-of-view shows a lone barn with their car parked 
               to one side. Various police vehicles have pulled up facing 
               the barn, and armed men, their backs to us, train guns on 
               it, some taking cover on the near side of their parked cars.
                         Damn! They found our car!
               The man with the bullhorn continues, directing his comments 
               at the distant barn:
                         We ain't got the time-and nary 
                         inclination-to gentle you boys no 
               The three convicts notice the sheriff who once again stands 
               impassively next to the man with the bullhorn, holding a 
               leash against which a bloodhound strains.
                         It's either the penal farm or the 
                         fires of damnation-makes no nevermind 
                         to me!
               The sheriff makes a signal to a man holding a torch, who 
               skitters up to the barn and lights it.
                         Damn! We gotta skedaddle!
                         I left my pomade in that car! Maybe 
                         I can creep up!
                         Don't be a fool, Everett, we gotta R-
                         U-N-O-F-F-T, but pronto!
                         Where's Tommy?
                         Already lit out, scared out of his 
                         wits. Let's go!
               DAYTIME ROAD
               The three men shuffle down the dusty road.
                         The hell it ain't square one! Ain't 
                         no one gonna pick up three filthy 
                         unshaved hitchhikers, and one of 'em 
                         a know-it-all that can't keep his 
                         trap shut!
                         Pete, the personal rancor reflected 
                         in that remark I don't intend to 
                         dignify with comment, but I would 
                         like to address your general attitude 
                         of hopeless negativism. Consider the 
                         lilies a the goddamn field, or-hell!- 
                         take a look at Delmar here as your 
                         paradigm a hope.
                         Yeah, look at me.
                         Now you may call it an unreasoning 
                         optimism. You may call it obtuse. 
                         But the plain fact is we still have... 
                         close to... close to...
               He loses his drift as all three men turn, reacting to the 
               sound of an approaching speeding car.
                         ...close to... three days... before 
                         they dam that river...
               The car comes into view cornering on two wheels. It crashes 
               back onto all four and, as it speeds along, dollar bills 
               snap and flutter out its windows. The car roars up to the 
               three men as Delmar waggles a hopeful thumb. It screeches to 
               a halt.
               The driver, a young man in a sharp suit with a round, babylike 
               face, leans over to call through the passenger window.
                         Is this the road to Itta Bena?
                         Uh... Itta Bena...
               Delmar plucks a fluttering dollar bill out of the air and 
               looks at it wonderingly. He holds it stretched between two 
               hands, brings the two sides together, then gives it an 
               appraising pop.
                         Itta Bena, now, uh, that would be...
                         Isn't it, uh...
               Like a child gazing at soap bubbles, Delmar looks around at 
               the wafting currency, and yanks another fluttering bill out 
               of the air.
                         I'm thinkin' it's uh, you could take 
                         this road to, uh...
               There is the sound of a distant siren.
               The driver, still patiently leaning over to hear out the two 
               brainwrackers, shoots a quick look in his rearview mirror.
                         ...Nah, that ain't right... I'm 
                         thinkin' of...
                         ...I believe, unless I'm very much 
                         mistaken - see, we've been away for 
                         several years, uh...
               The driver pushes open the passenger door.
                         Hop on in while you give it a think.
               The three men climb in and the car squeals out.
               INT. CAR
               The driver shoots a glance up to the rearview mirror as the 
               sirens grow louder, then gropes inside his coat.
                         Any a you boys know your way around 
                         a Walther PPK?
                         Well now, that's where we cain't 
                         help ya. I don't believe it's in 
               The man stops withdrawing the gun and appraises his 
               passengers. Delmar reacts to the paper currency fluttering 
               inside the car:
                         Friend, some of your folding money 
                         has come unstowed.
                         Just stuff it down that sack there. 
                         You boys aren't badmen, I take it?
                         Well, funny you should ask-I was 
                         bad, till yesterday, but me'n Pete 
                         here been saved. My name's Delmar, 
                         and that there's Everett.
                         George Nelson. It's a pleasure.
               He opens his door and steps onto the running board, giving 
               Everett a casual:
                         Grab the tiller, will ya buddy?
               Everett slides over, startled. George Nelson, now fully 
               outside and facing the pursuit vehicles, has one hand clamped 
               on the car roof and waves to Delmar with the other.
                         Hand up that Thompson, Jack.
               Delmar gropes in the footwell.
                         Say, what line of work are you in, 
               EXT. CAR
               Nelson sends a spray of bullets back at the pursuit car.
                         COME AND GET ME, COPPERS! YOU 
                         SONOFABITCHES! NO ONE CAN CATCH ME!  
                         I'M GEORGE NELSON! I'M BIGGER THAN 
                         ANY JOHN LAW EVER LIVED! HA-HA-HA-HA-
                         HA! I'M TEN-AND-A-HALF FEET TALL AND 
                         AIN'T YET FULLY GROWED!
               Nelson fires wildly as the pursuit cars gain on him, returning 
               fire. He suddenly notices a herd of cattle grazing at the 
               roadside and murmurs:
               He swings the tommy gun over with a whoop.
                         I hate cows worse than coppers!
               He lets loose a spray. One of the cows drops and the rest 
               stampede toward the road.
                         Aww, George, not the livestock.
               Energized, Nelson resumes bellowing:
                         HA-HA! COME ON YOU MISERABLE SALARIED 
                         SONSABITCHES! COME AND GET ME!
               In bovine ignorance of the conventions of high-speed police 
               pursuit, some of the cows have wandered up onto the road. 
               The lead police car broadsides one. George Nelson, cackling 
               wildly, fires into the air as his car recedes.
               SMALL TOWN
               The car is speeding into town, dodging and weaving through 
               light traffic as George fires into the air - perhaps a means 
               of clearing a path, perhaps an expression of high spirits.
               The car screeches to a halt and George hops out, and the 
               three convicts emerge to follow him.
                         COME ON BOYS! WE'RE GOIN' FOR THE 
                         RECORD-THREE BANKS IN TWO HOURS!
               Jowls shaking in a full run, George Nelson bursts through 
               the door of the bank, followed by the three men.
               He fires into the ceiling and leaps up onto a table.
                         OKAY FOLKS! HOLD THE APPLAUSE AND 
                         DROP YER DRAWERS - I'M GEORGE NELSON 
                         AND I'M HERE TO SACK THE CITY A ITTA 
               He leaps down, fires into the air again, and sweeps a young 
               woman standing in line into a full V-J dip, kissing her on 
               the lips.
               Delmar nudges Everett.
                         He's a live wire though, ain't he?
                         Thanky dear! All the money in the 
                         bag, and you can tell your grandkids 
                         you were done by the best! I'M GEORGE 
                         NELSON AND I'M FEELIN' TEN FEET TALL!
               He winks at the three men who obediently wait.
                         It's a kick and a quarter, ain't it 
               Distant sirens again.
                         Pardon me, George, but have you got 
                         a plan for gettin' outa here?
                         Sure boys, here's m'plan!
               He whips open his suitcoat to reveal a half-dozen sticks of 
                         They ain't never seen ordnance like 
                         this!  WELL, THANK YOU, FOLKS, AND 
                         REMEMBER: JESUS SAVES, BUT GEORGE 
                         NELSON WITHDRAWS!  HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-
                         HA! GO FETCH THE AUTO-VOITURE, PETE!
               He sends a burst into the ceiling, and heads for the door as 
               customers murmur.
                         ...it's Babyface Nelson...
               George whirls.
                         WHO SAID THAT?!
               The customers stare mutely back.
                         SONOFABITCH SAID THAT?! MY NAME IS 
                         GEORGE NELSON, GET ME?!
               The customers shuffle their feet and glance uncomfortably 
               about. Delmar lays a hand on George's shoulder and tries to 
               steer him toward the door.
                         They didn't mean anything by it, 
                         GEORGE NELSON! NOT BABYFACE! YOU 
                         REMEMBER AND YOU TELL YOUR FRIENDS!  
                         I'M GEORGE NELSON, BORN TO RAISE 
               OUTSIDE THE BANK
               The siren grows louder as the four men emerge.
                         You gotta be a little tolerant, 
                         George; all these poor folk know is 
                         the legend.  Hell, they can't be 
                         expected to appreciate the complex 
                         individual underneath-  
                         Aww, I'm all right-
               He shrugs off Everett's hand and lights the fuse on a stick 
               of dynamite.
                         This'll put me right back on top!
               The car squeals up and, as sirens approach once again, the 
               three men pile in.
                         OR-VOIR, ITTA BENA! GEORGE NELSON 
                         THANKS YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
               As the car peels out - KA-BOOM! - the dynamite blows a crater 
               in the street behind.
               It is night.
               George Nelson, now strangely quiet, holds a coffee cup and 
               stares gloomily into the fire.
               After a long beat, Delmar, also staring into the fire, slaps 
               one knee and ejaculates:
                         Damn but that was some fun though, 
                         won it George?!
               George responds, barely audible and without brightening:
               Everett and Pete exchange significant looks. Delmar, however, 
               is less sensitive to the Babyface's mood.
                         Almost makes me wish I hadn't been 
                         saved! Jackin' up banks - I can see 
                         how a fella could derive a lot a 
                         pleasure and satisfaction out of it!
                         ...it's okay...
                         Whoa doggies!
               At length George swishes the coffee around his cup, shrugs, 
               tosses the coffee and rises.
                         ...Well, I'm takin' off.
               He digs into a pocket and tosses his car keys to a dumbfounded 
                         You boys can have the automobile.
               Glassy-eyed, he continues to dig in his pockets and lets his 
               money fall to the ground.
                         'N might as well take my share a the 
                         What the - where you goin', George?
               George has turned woodenly and walks away, leaving the 
               campfire's flickering circle of light.
                         ...I dunno... who cares...
               Delmar stares at Everett, who looks appraisingly at George's 
               retreating back. Pete scrambles to pick up the loose money.
                         Now wuddya suppose is eatin' George?
                         Well ya know, Delmar, they say that 
                         with a thrill-seekin' personality, 
                         what goes up must come down. Top of 
                         the world one minute, haunted by 
                         megrims the next. Yep, it's like our 
                         friend George is a alley cat and his 
                         own damn humors're swingin' him by 
                         the tail. But don't worry, Delmar; 
                         he'll be back on top again. I don't 
                         think we've heard the last of George 
               Delmar, gazing out at the blackness that has closed over 
               George Nelson, hasn't really been listening. He turns sadly 
                         Damn! I liked George.
               A FIELD
               A ploughing farmer has paused to look for the source of 
               distant string-band music, growing closer. There is also an 
               approaching amplified voice:
                         Don't be saps for Pappy; vote for 
                         Stokes and responsible gummint!
               A stakebed truck approaches along the road bordering the 
               field. It is festooned with Stokes banners showing the 
               candidate holding high a broom. Pickers perform in the bed 
               of the truck, along with a dancer doing a two-step as he 
               pushes a broom. A midget in overalls waves his arms, as if 
               conducting the music.
                         He's against the Innarests and for 
                         the little man!
               This, the driver's voice, is amplified through a flared 
               speaker mounted on the roof of the cab. As the oncoming truck 
               draws near, the midget bellows out at the farmer, who has 
               removed his hat to scratch his forehead.
                         Greetings, brother! Vote for Stokes!
               The voice tails away:
                         Clean gummint is yours for the askin'!
               Our pan with the passing truck comes to rest on the WEZY 
               radio building.
               We are pulling back from a close shot of the portly blind 
                         Hang on! Lemme slap up a wire.
               He turns away to load a recording as he talks into a 
                         Folks, here's my cousin Ezzard's 
                         niece Eudora from out Greenwood doin' 
                         a little number with her cousin Tom-
                         Tom which I predict you're just gonna 
                         enjoy thoroughly.
               He switches off the microphone as the song, a duet of 'I'll 
               Fly Away', scratchily issues from a monitor. He turns his 
               attention back to a well-dressed man sitting nearby.
                         Now what can I do you for, Mister 
                         How can I lay hold a the Soggy Bottom 
                         Soggy Bottom Boys - I don't precisely 
                         recollect, uh -
                         They cut a record in here, few days 
                         ago, old-timey harmony thing with a 
                         guitar Accump-accump-uh-
                         Oh I remember 'em, colored fellas I 
                         believe, swell bunch a boys, sung 
                         into yon can and skedaddled.
                         Well that record has just gone through 
                         the goddamn roof! They're playin' it 
                         as far away as Mobile! The whole 
                         damn state's goin' ape!
                         It was a powerful air.
                         Hot damn, we gotta find those boys!  
                         Sign 'em to a big fat contract! Hell's 
                         bells, Mr. Lunn, if we don't the 
                         goddamn competition will!
                         Oh mercy, yes. You gotta beat that 
               'I'll Fly Away' mixes up to play full over the following.
               - The three men walk down a flat delta road, the sun 
               shimmering off the rough pavement. Their bank loot, wrapped 
               in a bandanna, is knotted to the end of a stick slung over 
               Delmar's shoulder.
               - A different road under a threatening sky. The three men 
               stand in the middle distance, waiting. In the foreground two 
               little black boys are walking home, each carrying a block of 
               ice. A horse-drawn cart rumbles in from offscreen and Everett 
               waggles his thumb. Thunder rumbles.
               - A spinning 78 on a green felt turntable. The crude black 
               label identifies it as 'Man of Constant Sorrow' by the Soggy 
               Bottom Boys.
               - A high shot looking down through the rain past the dripping 
               eave of a barn, under which Everett, Pete and Delmar have 
               taken cover. The three hold their coats pinched shut at the 
               neck as they look forlornly up at the weather.
               - The three men walk along a red dirt road elevated through 
               a bayou.
               - The three men sit around a campfire. Everett sits on a 
               stump, expressively telling a ghost story as Pete and Delmar 
               gaze at him from below, wide-eyed and rapt.
               - The three men walk past a cotton field dotted with burst 
               - A Woolworth's interior. A sad-faced woman in a calico dress 
               addresses the clerk:
                                     SAD-FACED WOMAN
                         Do you have the Soggy Bottom Boys 
                         performing 'Man of Constant Sorrow'?
                         No, ma'am, we had a new shipment in 
                         yesterday but we just can't keep it 
                         on the shelves.
               The sad-faced woman is crestfallen.
                                     SAD-FACED WOMAN
                         Oh, mercy. Then - just the purple 
                         toilet water.
               - The three men walk down a road excavated through banks of 
               clay, from which gnarled tree roots protrude.
               - A pie rests on a windowsill, steam wafting from it. A hand 
               enters from below the sill outside and disappears with the 
               pie. A moment later we see Everett's and Pete's backs as 
               they scamper away across the yard. A short beat, and then 
               Delmar peeks over the sill. He ducks back down and then his 
               hand reaches up to leave a dollar bill. Moments later we see 
               him scampering away after Pete and Everett.
               - Another campfire. The three men sit around it laughing as 
               they enjoy the pie, each with a slab on a plate improvised 
               of old newspaper. Everett finishes his piece, licks his thumb 
               and tosses the newspaper onto the fire.
               We jump in to look at the soiled newspaper as flame begins 
               to curl its edge. A story is headlined 'TVA Finalizing Plans 
               for Flooding of Arktabutta Valley'. The flame curls the page 
               away, briefly revealing the page beneath - with a story 
               headlined 'Soggy Bottom Boys a Sensation - But Who Are They?' - 
               before it too is consumed.
               - A little general store. We are very high, looking down at 
               a foreshortened Everett, Pete, Delmar and store clerk, who 
               is wielding a long telescoping pole that stretches toward 
               us. Everett is pointing up, directing the man with the pole. 
               He moves it tentatively to and fro until, at a certain point, 
               Everett nods vigorously.
               A reverse shows the end of the pole - a long stock-pincher - 
               as it closes over a tin of Dapper Dan pomade, resting on a 
               high shelf.
               The exterior of the store shows it to be on a corner of a 
               little crossroads town. The three men are emerging from the 
               store just as a car pulls up to one of the two bubble-topped 
               gas pumps out front. A fancyman in a boater hat gets out of 
               the car and heads for the store, passing the three; Everett 
               glances at him and, as the man disappears inside, he dives 
               into his car, waving for Delmar and Pete to follow. Delmar, 
               initially reluctant, is hauled into the car by Pete, and the 
               men take off.
               - The spinning 78 recording, as the song enters its last 
               - A spinning car wheel.
               - A panoramic boom up as the car toodles away, down a road 
               that winds through scrub grass toward a distant sunset.
               THE CAR
               The three men are driving through the heat of the day. Everett 
               drives; Pete is slouched in the front passenger seat; Delmar, 
               in back, picks out 'I'll Fly Away' on a banjo.
               Pete listens to something, squints, tilts his head.
                         ...Shutup, Delmar.
               Delmar and Everett exchange glances; Everett shrugs and Delmar 
               We can faintly hear a high, unearthly singing. Barely human, 
               the sound seems to agitate Pete. He looks desperately out 
               the window.
               His hinging point-of-view shows, down the declivity from the 
               road and half hidden by trees, three women washing clothes 
               in the river.
               Pete's reaction is enormous. He jams a fist into his mouth, 
               eyes widening. He yanks the fist out and screams:
                         PULL OVER!
               Everett, startled, does so.
               Before the car has even come to a stop Pete's door flies 
               open and he is stumbling down the bank to the river.
               Everett and Delmar follow more casually, Everett chuckling.
                         I guess o' Pete's got the itch.
               AT THE RIVER
               The unearthly singing, full volume here, comes from the three 
               women, beautiful but marked by an otherworldly langor as 
               they dunk clothes in the stream and beat them against rocks.
               Pete is all awkward smiles and deep, burning eyes:
                         Howdy do, ladies. Name of Pete!
               Strangely, the three laundresses do not answer, though they 
               do smile at him as they continue to sing.
               Pete tries again as he reaches into their laundry basket:
                         Maybe I could help you with the, uh-
               He realizes he is holding ladies' undergarments.
                         Ahem. I, uh...
               He drops them back in the basket.
                         I don't believe I've, uh, heard that 
                         song before...
               Everett and Delmar have arrived; Everett is loud and jovial:
                         Aintcha gonna innerduce us, Pete?
               Pete's eyes stay glued on the women as he hisses out of the 
               corner of his mouth:
                         Don't know their names. I seen 'em 
               Everett laughs lightly.
                         Ladies, you'll have to pardon my 
                         friend here; Pete is dirt-ignorant 
                         and unschooled in the social arts. 
                         My name on the other hand is Ulysses 
                         Everett McGill and you ladies are 
                         about the three prettiest water lilies 
                         it's ever been my privilege to admire.
               None of the women respond but, as all continue to sing, one 
               brings a jug marked with three Xes to Everett.
                         Why, thank you dear, that's very, 
               He takes a swig.
                         Mm. Corn licker, I guess, uh, the 
                         preferred local uh...
               He passes the jug to Pete as the woman runs her fingers 
               through his hair.
               The other two women are approaching to likewise tousle Pete 
               and Delmar.
               Delmar's woman caresses his face and, by squeezing his cheeks, 
               smushes his mouth into a pucker.
                         Pleased to meet you, ma'am.
               The singing continues. The stream gurgles. Somewhere, in the 
               distance, flies lazily buzz.
                                                                   FADE OUT
                                                                    FADE IN
               CLOSE ON DELMAR
               We are very tight. Delmar's eyes are closed. We hear loud 
               snoring. At length his eyelids flutter open, but the snoring 
               Delmar groggily props himself on one elbow.
               It is late afternoon. He is still on the riverbank. Everett 
               snores nearby.
               The ladies are gone. The hamper of laundry is gone. Pete is 
               After looking blearily about for a moment, Delmar starts and 
               staggers to his feet.
                         Holy Saint Christopher!
               He toes Everett urgently in the ribs.
                         Oh sweet Lord, Everett, looka this!
               Pete's clothes are laid out on the ground, not in a heap, 
               but mimicking the human shape, as if he had been simply 
               vaporized fron within them.
               Everett rouses himself and looks at the clothes: He scans 
               the opposite river bank.
                         PETE! Where the heck are ya! We ain't 
                         got time for your shenanigans!
               Delmar stares horrified at the pile of clothes: a spot in 
               the middle of the shirt is rising and falling, rising and 
                         Sweet Jesus, Everett! They left his 
               Everett joins Delmar to look. The rhythmic rising and falling 
               now travels up the shirt. A large yellow toad sticks its 
               head out from under the collar.
               Delmar keens. Everett is bewildered.
                         What on earth is goin' on here! What's 
                         got into you, Delmar!
                         Caintcha see it Everett! Them sigh-
                         reens did this to Pete! They loved 
                         him up an' turned him into a horney-
               The toad hops down the river bank.
                         Pete! Come back!
               He slides down the bank after the toad, Everett watching in 
               The toad plops into the river and Delmar dives in after him. 
               He emerges a moment later with the toad wriggling in his 
                         Don't worry, Pete! It's me, Delmar! 
                         Oh Everett! What're we gonna do?!
               We hear soft whimpering as Everett drives, sneaking worried 
               glances over at the passenger seat.
               Delmar has the toad in his lap. He whimpers as he pets it.
               Everett hesitantly offers:
                         ...I'm not sure that's Pete.
                         Course it's Pete! Look at 'im!
               The frog croaks.
                         We gotta find some kinda wizard can 
                         change 'im back!
               A beat. Delmar continues to whimper.
               Everett squints and shakes his head.
                         ...I'm just not sure that's Pete.
               FINE RESTAURANT
               The tables are formally laid with linen. Delmar and Everett 
               sit at a table, a shoebox between them, deep in conversation.
                         You can't display a toad in a fine 
                         restaurant like this! Why, the good 
                         folks here'd go right off their feed!
                         I just don't think it's right, keepin' 
                         him under wraps like we's ashamed of 
                         Well if that is Pete I am ashamed of 
                         him.  The way I see it he got what 
                         he deserved - fornicating with some 
                         whore a Babylon.  These things-
               He points a knife at the shoebox.
                         -don't happen for no reason, Delmar.
                         Obviously it's some kind of judgment 
                         on Pete's character.
               ANOTHER PATRON
               We are looking over the shoulder of a broad-shouldered man 
               in a cream-colored suit and a shirt with powder-blue collar. 
               He is digging into a huge plateful of steak and eggs. Sensing 
               something, he looks up, cocks his head, and then slowly turns 
               to look back.
               He thus reveals a cream-colored eyepatch with powder-blue 
               trim; his good eye is looking intently off - at Everett and 
               Delmar, who continue arguing, out of earshot.
               Still heatedly discussing.
                         The two of us was fixing to fornicate!
               The waitress has just arrived for their order. Everett gives 
               her an ingratiating laugh:
                         Heh-heh. You'll have to excuse my 
                         rusticated friend here, unaccustomed 
                         as he is to city manners.
               He ostentatiously fans some of his money.
                         Well mamzel I guess we'll have a 
                         couple a steaks and some gratinated 
                         potatoes and wash it down with your 
                         finest bubbly wine-
               BIG MAN
               Watching Everett fan his money. The big man stops chewing 
               and slowly raises his napkin to his lips to give them a dainty 
               As Everett closes his menu.
                         ...And I don't suppose the chef'd 
                         have any nits or grubs in the pantry, 
                         or - naw, never mind, just bring me 
                         a couple leafs a raw cabbage.
                         Yes sir.
               The big man appears as she leaves.
                                     BIG MAN
                         Don't believe I've seen you boys 
                         around here before! Allow me 
                         t'innerduce myself: name of Daniel 
                         Teague, known in these precincts as 
                         Big Dan Teague or, to those who're 
                         pressed for time, Big Dan toot court.
                         How d'you do, Big Dan. I'm Ulysses 
                         Everett McGill; this is my associate 
                         Delmar O'Donnell.  I sense that, 
                         like me, you are endowed with the 
                         gift of gab.
               Big Dan chuckles as he draws up a chair.
                                     BIG DAN
                         I flatter myself that such is the 
                         case; in my line of work it's plumb 
                         necessary. The one thing you don't 
                         want is air in the conversation.
                         Once again we find ourselves in 
                         agreement.  What kind of work do you 
                         do, Big Dan?
                                     BIG DAN
                         Sales, Mr. McGill, sales! And what 
                         do I sell? The Truth! Ever' blessed 
                         word of it, from Genesee on down to 
                         Revelations! That's right, the word 
                         of God, which let me add there is 
                         damn good money in during these days 
                         of woe and want! Folks're lookin' 
                         for answers and Big Dan Teague sells 
                         the only book that's got 'em! What 
                         do you do - you and your tongue-tied 
                         Uh, we uh-
                         We're adventurers, sir, currently 
                         pursuin' a certain opportunity but 
                         open to others as well.
                                     BIG DAN
                         I like your style, young man, so I'm 
                         gonna propose you a proposition. You 
                         cover my check so I don't have to 
                         run back up to my room, have your 
                         waitress wrap your dinner picnic-
                         style, and we'll retire to more 
                         private environs where I will explain 
                         to you how vast amounts of money can 
                         be made in the service of God Amighty.
               Everett rises and digs in his pocket.
                         Well, why not. If nothing else I 
                         could use some civilized conversation.
               As the three men start to move off, Big Dan gives Delmar a 
               tilt of the head and a crinkling smile.
                                     BIG DAN
                         Don't forget your shoebox, friend.
               We hear bellowing issuing from a curtained private dining-
               Pappy O'Daniel sits smoking a cigar, nursing a glass of 
               whiskey, and soliciting the counsel of his overweight retinue.
                         Languishing! Goddamn campaign is 
                         languishing! We need a shot inna 
                         arm!  Hear me, boys? Inna goddamn 
                         ARM!  Election held tomorra, that 
                         sonofabitch Stokes would win it in a 
                         Well he's the reform candidate, Daddy.
               Pappy narrows his eyes at him, wondering what he's getting 
                         Well people like that reform. Maybe 
                         we should get us some.
               Pappy whips off his hat and slaps at Junior with it.
                         I'll reform you, you soft-headed 
                         sonofabitch! How we gonna run reform 
                         when we're the damn incumbent!
               He glares around the table.
                         Zat the best idea any you boys can 
                         come up with? REEform?! Weepin' Jesus 
                         on the cross! Eckard, you may as 
                         well start draftin' my concession 
                         speech right now.
               Eckard grunts as he starts to rise.
                         Okay, Pappy.
               Pappy whips him back down with his hat.
                         I'm just makin' a point, you stupid 
                         Okay, Pappy.
               As he settles back Eckard looks around the table and helpfully 
                         Pappy just makin' a point here, boys.
               A MEADOW
               The car boosted from the general store has been pulled off 
               the road and parked a few yards into a field littered with 
               bluebonnets and rimmed with moss-dripping oak.
               Everett, Delmar and Big Dan sit on a blanket around a large 
               picnic hamper. Big Dan is just sucking the last piece of 
               chicken off a bone.
               He tosses the bone over his shoulder, belches, and sighs.
                                     BIG DAN
                         Thankee boys for throwin' in that 
                         fricasee. I'm a man a large appetite 
                         and even with lunch under my belt I 
                         was feeling a mite peckish.
                         Our pleasure, Big Dan.
                                     BIG DAN
                         And thank you as well for that 
                         conversational hiatus; I generally 
                         refrain from speech while engaged in 
                         gustation. There are those who attempt 
                         both at the same time but I find it 
                         course and vulgar. Now where were 
                         Makin' money in the Lord's service.
                                     BIG DAN
                         You don't say much friend, but when 
                         you do it's to the point and I salute 
                         you for it.
               Delmar is pleased and embarrassed.
                         Oh, it weren't nothin', I-
                                     BIG DAN
                         Yes, Bible sales. The trade is not a 
                         complicated one; there're but two 
                         things to learn. One bein' where to 
                         find your wholesaler - word of God 
                         in bulk as it were. Two bein' how to 
                         reckanize your customer - who're you 
                         dealin' with? - an exercise in 
                         psychology so to speak.
               He rises to his feet and tosses down his napkin.
                                     BIG DAN
                         And it is that which I propose to 
                         give you a lesson in right now.
               He reaches up and with one hand easily rips a stout limb off 
               a tree. He casually strips its twigs.
                         I like to think that I'm a pretty 
                         astute observer of the human scene.
                                     BIG DAN
                         No doubt, brother - I figured as 
                         much back there in the restaurant. 
                         That's why I invited you out here 
                         for this advanced tutorial.
               His club is ready. He swings at Delmar who staggers back 
               with a grunt.
               Everett wears a puzzled smile.
                         ...What's goin' on, Big Dan?
               Delmar, though stunned, is faster to size things up. He 
               charges Big Dan and wraps his arms around him.
               Delmar roars.
               Big Dan rears back and whacks at his head.
               Everett is still puzzled, but willing to be instructed:
                         Big Dan, what're you doin'?
               Big Dan walks awkwardly over to Everett with Delmar still 
               attached to him like a hunting dog locked on to a bear. Big 
               Dan takes a break from whacking at Delmar to deliver a blow 
               to Everett.
               The blow catches Everett on the chin and sends him reeling.
                                     BIG DAN
                         It's all about money, boys! Atsy 
                         answer! Dough re mi!
               Big Dan bear hugs Delmar and tosses him away. He whacks 
               Everett into a semi-conscious heap and then paws through his 
                                     BIG DAN
                         Do unto others before they do unto 
               He pulls out their wad of cash.
                                     BIG DAN
                         I'll just take your show cards...
               He walks over to Delmar who is on the ground moaning, and 
               kicks him several times.
                                     BIG DAN
                         ...and whatever you got in the hole.
               He takes Delmar's shoebox and flips off the top.
               Inside is a bed of straw with the toad resting on it.
                                     BIG DAN
                         What the...
               He pokes around the straw with his finger; nothing else 
                                     BIG DAN
                         It's nothin' but a damn toad!
               Delmar, moaning, looks blearily up through swollen eyes.
               Big Dan has the toad in his enormous fist.
               Delmar moans through cracked and bloody lips:
                         No... you don't understand...
                                     BIG DAN
                         Don't you boys know these things 
                         give ya warts?
               He squeezes the frog, crushing it, and tosses it away against 
               a tree.
                         Oh Lord... Pete...
               Big Dan is over at the car, cranking it up.
                                     BIG DAN
                         End of lesson.
               He climbs in.
                                     BIG DAN
                         So long, boys! Hee-hee! See ya in 
                         the funny papers!
               The car belches and pops and toodles off down the road.
               Delmar staggers to his feet and stumbles over to the carcass 
               of the frog, weeping.
                         Pete... Pete... Pete...
                                                                   FADE OUT
               Flickering in the night. We hear the rumble of distant thunder 
               as the continued pan down brings the torch's bearer into 
               frame - a man with the slavering grin of the dim-witted 
               sadist. He watches as we hear:
                         Where are they?!
               There is the sound of a lash and a scream.
                         Talk, you unreconstructed whelp of a 
                         whore! Where they headed?
               Another lash brings another scream.
               The screams come from Pete. His arms, stretched high over 
               his head, are tied to a tree limb. His interrogator wields a 
                         Your screams ain't gonna save your 
                         flesh! Only your tongue is, boy!
               Another lash, another scream.
                         Where they headed!
               A third man walks into the torchlight, a hound drooling at 
               his heels. He is Cooley, the sheriff with mirrored sunglasses 
               whom we remember from previous barn confrontations.
                         Lump. I.O.
               The two men acknowledge by backing away from Pete.
               We hear a pat... pat... and then the accelerating pitter-
               patter of arriving rain.
               Cooley looks up.
                         Sweet summer rain. Like God's own 
               He looks back down at Pete.
                         Your two friends have abandoned you, 
                         Pete.  They don't seem to care 'bout 
                         your hide.
               He shrugs, looks off.
               Looking up, into black: a rope is tossed up - it recedes out 
               of the torchlight into black night - and then drops back 
               down into the light, a noose bouncing at its end.
                         Stairway to heaven, Pete.
               The two henchmen fit the noose over Pete's neck. Cooley licks 
               his lips. His dog slobbers.
                         We shall all meet, by and by.
               Cooley holds up one hand. The two men pause in fitting the 
               Pete is sobbing:
                         Godfer gimme!
               Thunder crashes.
               BACK OF A HAYTRUCK
               Everett and Delmar sit disconsolately on a haybale as the 
               stakebed truck bounces along a rough country road. They are 
               both ill-kempt and heavily bruised.
               Though still an undammable river of verbiage, Everett now 
               seems to be talking out of weary habit, not conviction:
                         Believe me, Delmar, he would've wanted 
                         us to press on. Pete, rest his soul, 
                         was one sour-assed sonofabitch and 
                         not given to acts of pointless 
               Delmar doggedly shakes his head.
                         It just don't seem right, diggin' up 
                         that treasure without him.
               We distantly hear picks ringing and male chanting. Hollow-
               eyed, Everett tries to convince himself as much as Delmar:
                         Maybe it's for the best that Pete 
                         was squushed. Why, he was barely a 
                         sentient bein'. Now, soon as we clean 
                         ourselves up, get a little smell'um 
                         in our hair, we're just gonna feel a 
                         hunnert per cent better about 
                         ourselves and about...
               His voice trails away as he looks out at the road.
               They are passing a line of chained men in prison stripes and 
               duck-billed caps wielding pickaxes and shovels at the side 
               of the road. Guards bearing shotguns amble back and forth.
               As he stares at the line of men Everett tries to pick up his 
                         ...and about... life in general...
               The prisoners look like phantoms in the heat and dust.
                         Jesus. We must be near Parchman Farm.
               The men, giving throat to a dolorous chain-gang chant, do 
               not look up at the passing haytruck.
               Everett is haunted:
                         Sorry sonsabitches... Seems like a 
                         year ago we bust off the farm...
               The last man in line swings his pick and, as he grows smaller, 
               looks up. Everett stares.
               It is Pete.
               Lone and lorn, he returns Everett's slack-jawed stare until 
               heat ripples and the truck's dusty wake dissolve him away.
               Everett blinks.
                         Pete have a brother?
                         Not that I'm aware.
               Everett shakes his head as if to clear it.
                         Heat must be gettin' to me.
               The truck rattles on.
               TOWN SQUARE
               Ithaca, Mississippi. On a bunting-covered stage a pencil-
               necked man with round rimless glasses addresses a crowd of 
               The pencil-neck is identified on posters as 'Homer Stokes, 
               Friend of the Little Man', and, in life as in the pictures, 
               he shakes a broom over his head. A midget in overalls stands 
               next to him.
                         And I say to you that the great state 
                         a Mississippi cannot afford four 
                         more years a Pappy O'Daniel - four 
                         more years a cronyism, nepotism, 
                         rascalism and service to the 
                         Innarests!  The choice, she's a clear 
                         'un: Pappy O'Daniel, slave a the 
                         Innarests; Homer Stokes, servant a 
                         the little man! Ain't that right, 
                         little fella?
               The midget enthusiastically seconds:
                         He ain't lyin'!
                         When the litle man says jump, Homer 
                         Stokes says how high? And, ladies'n 
                         jettymens, the little man has 
                         admonished me to grasp the broom a -
                         ree-form and sweep this state clean!
               The midget waves his little midget broom in time with Stoke's 
                         It's gonna be back to the flour mill, 
                         Pappy! The Innarests can take care a 
                         theyselves! Come Tuesday, we gonna 
                         sweep the rascals out! Clean gummint - 
                         yours for the askin'!
               He beams amid cheers and then, as three girls in gingham 
               frocks run out to join him:
                         An' now - the little Wharvey gals!  
                         Whatcha got for us, darlin's?
               The oldest girl is about ten.
                                     LITTLE GIRL
                         'In the Highways'!
                         That's fine.
               The haytruck has pulled into the square and Everett and Delmar 
               are climbing out.
               Everett stares at the stage.
                         Wharvey gals?! Did he just say the 
                         little Wharvey gals?
               Delmar shrugs. For some reason, Everett is enraged:
                         Goddamnit all!
               Onstage, the three girls are singing in untrained but 
               enthusiastic harmony:
                         In the highways, In the hedges...
               Everett stomps toward the stage, fighting his way through 
               the crowd. Puzzled, Delmar follows.
                         You know them gals, Everett?
               Everett reaches the stage and climbs up into the wings just 
               as the song ends. The midget starts buck-dancing to a fiddle 
               tune as the three little girls, filing off, notice Everett.
                         He ain't our daddy!
                         Hell I ain't! Whatsis 'Wharvey' gals? - 
                         Your name's McGill!
                         No sir! Not since you got hit by a 
                         What're you talkin' about - I wasn't 
                         hit by a train!
                         Mama said you was hit by a train!
                         Nothin' left!
                         Just a grease spot on the L&N!
                         Damnit, I never been hit by any train!
                         At's right! So Mama's got us back to 
                         That's a maiden name.
                         You got a maiden name, Daddy?
                         No, Daddy ain't got a maiden name; 
                         ya see -
                         That's your misfortune!
                         At's right! And now Mama's got a new 
                         He's a suitor!
                         Yeah, I know 'bout that.
                         Mama says he's bona fide!
               This worries Everett:
                         Hm. He give her a ring?
                         Yassir, big'un!
                         Gotta gem!
                         Mama checked it!
                         It's bona fide!
                         He's a suitor!
                         Hm. What's his name?
                         Vernon T. Waldrip.
                         Uncle Vernon.
                         Till tomorrow.
                         Then he's gonna be Daddy!
                         I'm the only damn daddy you got! I'm 
                         the damn paterfamilias!
                         Yeah, but you ain't bona fide!
                         Hm. Where's your mama?
               Stokes is announcing from the stage:
                         And now let's fetch back the Wharvey 
                         gals to sing 'I'll Fly Away'.
               The girls call over their shoulders as they run back onstage:
                         She's at the five and dime.
                         Buyin' nipples!
               The faces of a six-year-old girl and her four-year-old sister 
               light up.
               Next to them is a two-year-old girl with a string wrapped 
               around her waist. The other end of the string is held by a 
               woman in her thirties with a haggard, careworn face. The 
               woman also holds a babe-in-arms.
               Everett, entering, goggles at the infant.
                         Who the hell is that?!
                         Starla Wharvey.
                         Starla McGill you mean! How come you 
                         never told me about her?
                         'Cause you was hit by a train.
                         And that's another thing - why're 
                         you tellin' our gals I was hit by a 
                         Lotta respectable people been hit by 
                         trains. Judge Hobby over in Cookeville 
                         was hit by a train. What was I 
                         supposed to tell 'em - that you was 
                         sent to the penal farm and I divorced 
                         you from shame?
                         Well - I take your point. But it 
                         leaves me in a damned awkward position 
                         vis-a-vis my progeny.
               A man in a straw boater joins them.
                         'Lo Penny... This gentleman bothering 
                         You Waldrip?
                         That's right.
               Everett sniffs and, catching a scent, squints.
               Waldrip's hair, protruding from under his boater, is plastered 
               against his scalp.
                         ...Have you been using my hair 
                         Your hair treatment?!
               Everett covers his anger with an exaggerated politeness.
                         S'cuse me...
               He draws Penny aside.
                         Well, I got news for you case you 
                         hadn't noticed - I wasn't hit by a 
                         train. And I've traveled many a weary 
                         mile to be back with my wife and six 
                         Seven, Daddy!
                         That ain't your daddy, Alvinelle. 
                         Your daddy was hit by a train.
                         Now Penny, stop that!
                         No - you stop it! Vernon here's got 
                         a job. Vernon's got prospects. He's 
                         bona fide! What're you?
                         I'll tell you what I am - I'm the 
                         paterfamilias! You can't marry him!
                         I can and I am and I will - tomorrow! 
                         I gotta think about the little Wharvey 
                         gals! They look to me for answers! 
                         Vernon can s'port 'em and buy 'em 
                         lessons on the clarinet! The only 
                         good thing you ever did for the gals 
                         was get his by that train!
                         ...Why you... lyin,... unconstant... 
                         You can't swear at my fiancee!
                         Oh yeah? Well you can't marry my 
               With this he takes a wild swing which Waldrip easily eludes.   
               Waldrip adapts a Marquess of Queensbury stance and prances 
               about, delivering stinging punches to the nose of a stunned 
               and outclassed Everett.
               A crowd is gathering and voices murmur:
                         Who is that man?
                         He's not my husband. Just a drifter, 
                         I guess... Just some no-account 
               EXT. WOOLWORTH'S
               Its glass doors swing open and Everett is hurled out and 
               bellyflops into the dust of the street.
                                     BRAWNY MANAGER
                         ...And stay out of Woolworth's!
               MOVIE THEATER
               Romantic music tinnily plays as Delmar and Everett watch, 
               Everett slumped down and angrily hissing:
                         Deceitful! Two-faced! She-Woman! 
                         Never trust a female, Delmar! Remember 
                         that one simple precept and your 
                         time with me will not have been ill 
                         Okay, Everett.
                         Hit by a train! Truth means nothin' 
                         to Woman, Delmar. Triumph a the 
                         subjective!  You ever been with a 
                         Well, uh, I - I gotta get the family 
                         farm back before I can start thinkin' 
                         about that.
                         Well that's right! If then! Believe 
                         me, Delmar, Woman is the most fiendish 
                         instrument of torture ever devised 
                         to bedevil the days a man!
                         Everett, I never figured you for a 
                         Oh-ho-ho yes, I've spread my seed. 
                         And you see what it, uh... what it's 
                         earned me... Now what in the...
               The screen is flickering down to black as the music slows to 
               sludge and stops.
               The theater is dark and quiet.
               Everett and Delmar, and the rest of the sparse audience, 
               look restively about.
               A man carrying a shotgun enters the auditorium.
               He walks halfway down the aisle and stops several rows behind 
               Delmar and Everett. He scans the theater, then brings a 
               whistle to his lips.
               At his whistle the back doors burst open and a line of chained 
               men trot in at double-time. With much clanking they file 
               into one row and then, that row filled, the one behind it. 
               They remain silently on their feet.
               The first guard and two others who escorted in the convicts 
               scan the theater. The first guard again blows his whistle.
               The two rows of chained men sit.
               After another silence:
                                     FIRST GUARD
                         ...Okay boys! Enjoy yer pickcha show!
               One more whistle cues the movie to grind back up to speed.
               A hissing whisper from behind draws Everett and Delmar's 
                         Do not seek the treasure! It's a 
               Everett and Delmar turn and stare, saucer-eyed. In the middle 
               of the frontmost row of convicts sits Pete - bald, haunted 
               After a long, disbelieving stare:
               Pete whispers again, urgently:
                         They're fixin' a ambush! Do not seek 
                         the treasure!
               Everett, jaw hanging open, can only stare, as if at a ghost. 
               Delmar stares also, but finally brings out another:
                         Do not seek the treasure!
               Everett's face remains frozen in horrified disbelief, but 
               Delmar finally accepts Pete's corporeal reality.
                         We thought you was a toad!
               Pete squints and cocks his head as if to say, What was that?
               Delmar repeats the whisper slowly and with exaggerated mouth 
                         We thought... you was... a toad!
               Pete shakes his head - didn't catch it - and repeats, also 
                         Do not... seek... the treasure!
               A guard murmurs:
                         Quiet there. Watcha pickcha.
               Pappy O'Daniel sits on the veranda of the Governor's Mansion, 
               smoking a cigar and sipping from a glass of bourbon as the 
               evening sun goes down.
                         I signed that bill! I signed a dozen 
                         a those aggi-culture bills! Everyone 
                         knows I'm a friend a the fahmuh! 
                         What do I gotta do, start diddlin' 
                         We cain't do that, Daddy, we might 
                         offend our constichency.
                         We ain't got a constichency! Stokes 
                         got a constichency!
                         Them straw polls is ugly.
                         Stokes is pullin' ah pants down.
                         Gonna pluck us off the tit.
                         Pappy gonna be sittin' there pants 
                         down and Stokes at the table soppin' 
                         up the gravy.
                         Latch right on to that tit.
                         Wipin' little circles with his bread.
                         Suckin' away.
                         Well, it's a well-run campaign, 
                         midget'n broom'n whatnot.
                         Devil his due.
                         Helluva awgazation.
                         Say, I gotten idee.
                         What sat, Junior?
                         We could hire us a little fella even 
                         smaller'n Stokes's.
               Pappy whips at him with his hat.
                         Y'ignorant slope-shouldered sack a 
                         guts!  Why we'd look like a buncha 
                         satchel-ass Johnnie-Come-Latelies 
                         braggin' on our own midget! Don't 
                         matter how stumpy! And that's the 
                         goddamn problem right there - people 
                         think this Stokes got fresh ideas, 
                         he's oh coorant and we the past.
                         Problem a p'seption.
                         Ass right.
                         Reason why he's pullin' ah pants 
                         Gonna paddle ah little bee-hind.
                         Ain't gonna paddle it; he's gonna 
                         kick it real hard.
               With his mouth forming an O around his dropping cigar, Pappy 
               looks sadly from one to the other, like a spectator at a 
               particularly boring tennis match.
                         No, I believe he's a-gonna paddle 
                         Well now, I don't believe assa 
                         property scription.
                         Well, that's how I characterize it.
                         Well, I believe it's mawva kickin' 
                         Pullin' ah pants down...
                         Wipin' little circles with his 
               A NOOSE
               In slow motion it is dropping... dropping... dropping through 
               the night. We hear distant thunder and the howl of a hound. 
               The sounds recede, and the black background dissolves into a 
               pan down from a raftered ceiling as the noose fades away.
               The continued pan down shows that we are in a barracks-like 
               cabin. It is night. Convicts are ranged in bunk-beds. Their 
               snores stand out against the chirp of crickets.
               In the upper berth of the foreground bed is Pete. His hands 
               are clasped behind his head. A manacle and chain links one 
               wrist to a rail that serves as headboard.
               He stares up, haunted, at the phantom noose.
                         I could not gaze upon that far 
               He reacts quizically to a whispered:
               A moment later Everett rises over the lip of his bed. His 
               face is blacked and he sways as if standing on a boat.
                         Hold still.
               He is raising a large, long-armed, short-nosed pincering 
               tool. He locks the nose onto Pete's chain and levers the 
               arms. As his hand chinks free, Pete does not react to his 
               newfound liberty.
               We hear an agonized voice from off as Everett continues to 
                         ...Cain't stand much longer.
               Pete's eyes burn into Everett's.
                         It was a moment a weakness!
                         Quitcha babblin' Pete - time to 
               THE THREE MEN
               We track with them as they walk through the moonlit woods. 
               Delmar's and Everett's faces are thoroughly blacked; Pete is 
               just finishing blacking his, and he hands the shoe polish 
               back to Everett.
                         They lured me out for a bathe, then 
                         they dunked me'n trussed me up like 
                         a hog and turned me in for the bounty.
                         I shoulda guessed it - typical womanly 
                         behavior. Just lucky we left before 
                         they came for us.
                         We didn't abandon you, Pete, we just 
                         thought you was a toad.
                         No, they never did turn me into a 
                         Well that was our mistake then. And 
                         then we was beat up by a bible 
                         salesman and banished from 
                         Woolworth's. I don't know if it's 
                         the one branch or all of 'em.
                         Well I - I ain't had it easy either, 
                         boys.  Uh, frankly, I - well I spilled 
                         my guts about the treasure.
                         Awful sorry I betrayed you fellas; 
                         must be my Hogwallop blood.
                         Aw, that's all right, Pete.
               Pete is shaking his head, miserable.
                         It's awful white of ya to take it 
                         like that, Everett. I feel wretched, 
                         spoilin' yer play for a million 
                         dollars'n point two. It's been eatin' 
                         at my guts.
                         Aw, that's all right.
               Pete starts weeping.
                         You boys're true friends!
               He hugs a stunned Delmar.
                         You're m'boon companions!
               He hugs Everett, who looks profoundly uncomfortable.
                         Pete, uh, I don't want ya to beat 
                         yourself up about this thing...
                         I cain't help it, but that's a 
                         wonderful thing to say!
                         Well, but Pete...
               He clears his throat.
                         Uh, the fact of the matter is - well, 
                         damnit, there ain't no treasure!
               Now it is Pete's turn to be stunned. He and Delmar stare at 
                         Fact of the matter - there never 
                         But... but...
                         So - where's all the money from your 
                         armored-car job?
                         I never knocked over any armored-
                         car. I was sent up for practicing 
                         law without a license.
                         Damnit, I just hadda bust out! My 
                         wife wrote me she was gettin' married! 
                         I gotta stop it!
               Pete stares vacantly off.
                         ...No treasure... I had two weeks 
                         left on my sentence...
                         I couldn't wait two weeks! She's 
                         gettin' married tomorra!
                         ...With my added time for the escape, 
                         I don't get out now 'til 1987... 
                         I'll be eighty-four years old.
               Delmar, not angry himself, is trying to work it out.
                         Huh. I guess they'll tack on fifty 
                         years for me too.
                         Boys, we was chained together. I 
                         hadda tell ya somethin'. Bustin' out 
                         alone was not a option!
                         ...Eighty-four years old.
               Delmar brightens.
                         I'll only be eighty-two.
               Pete lunges at Everett.
                         YOU RUINED MY LIFE!
               He tackles him and, with his hands wrapped round Everett's 
               throat, the two roll over.
                         Pete... I do apologize.
                         Eighty-four years old! I'll be gummin' 
               They have rolled through some brush and their bodies are now 
               halfway into a clearing. They abruptly stop.
               Pete, lying on top of Everett, looks up, startled by loud 
               chanting. Everett, lying on his back, tries to see as well, 
               his eyes rolling back in his head.
               Their point-of-view shows a great open field where men in 
               bedsheets parade in formation before a huge fiery cross.
               Pete and Everett hastily crabwalk back into the bushes and 
               then push through with Delmar.
               The ranks of hooded men, chanting in a high hillbilly wail, 
               intersect and shuffle like a marching band at halftime. At 
               length they stop in perfect formation, still chanting, to 
               face the Imperial Wizard, who stands in front of the burning 
               cross dressed in a red satin robe and hood trimmed with gold.
               An aisle leads through the middle of the formation to the 
               burning cross, before which a gibbet has been erected. The 
               backmost row has stopped, facing away, only a few yards from 
               the bushes that hide Delmar, Pete and Everett.
               As the chanting continues, two Klansmen lead a black man, 
               whom they grasp by either arm, up the aisle toward the gibbet.
                                     BLACK MAN
                         I ain't never harmed any you 
               Everett hisses:
                         It's Tommy! They got Tommy!
                         Oh my God!
               It is indeed Tommy Johnson.
                         I ain't never harmed nobody!
               Pete is staring aghast at the makeshift gibbet.
                         The noose. Sweet Jesus! We gotta 
                         save 'im!
               A broad-shouldered man in the middle of the ranks of Klansmen, 
               sensing something, slowly turns to look back over his 
               shoulder. He thus reveals that his hood has only one eye-
               He slowly draws off his hood. It is, of course, Big Dan 
               Teague. His one good eye looks about; his other eye, now 
               revealed, is hideously clouded and stares up and off in fixed 
               Everett, still crouched behind the bushes, notices something. 
               He hisses and points.
                         The color guard.
               Off to one side is a robed and hooded three-man color guard 
               displaying a Confederate flag.
               In front of the crowd the Imperial Wizard raises one satin-
               draped arm, and the chanting stops.
                         Brothers! We are foregathered here 
                         to preserve our hallowed culture'n 
                         heritage!  From intrusions, inclusions 
                         and dilutions!  Of culluh! Of creed! 
                         Of our ol'-time religion!
               Over in the bushes Everett, Delmar and Pete are straightening 
               up and adjusting their appropriated robes and hoods, having 
               disposed of the color guard.
                         We aim to pull evil up by the root! 
                         Before it chokes out the flower of 
                         our culture'n heritage! And our women! 
                         Let's not forget those ladies, y'all, 
                         lookin' to us for p'tection! From 
                         darkies! From Jews! From Papists! 
                         And from all those smart-ass folk 
                         say we come descended from the 
                         monkeys!  That's not my culture'n 
               A roar from the crowd.
                         Izzat your culture'n heritage?
               Another roar.
                         And so... we gonna hang us a neegra!
               A huge roar - and now the ranks resume their chanting.
               The color guard hustles up the aisle to draw up behind the 
               two men leading Tommy to the gibbet. Everett hisses:
                         Hey Tommy! It's us!
               Behind Everett in the deep background someone emerges from 
               the ranks into the middle aisle. He approaches with a strong, 
               purposeful stride - Big Dan Teague, bareheaded, holding his 
               hood under his arm.
               Everett hisses again:
                         Hey Tommy!
               Tommy looks back over his shoulder.
               Everett is oblivious to the big man approaching from behind.
                         It's us! We come to rescue ya!
                         That's mighty kind of ya boys, but I 
                         don't think nothin's gonna save me 
                         now - the devil's come to collect 
                         his due!
                         Tommy, you don't wanna get hanged!
                         Naw I don't guess I do, but that's 
                         the way it seems to be workin' out.
                         Listen to me, Tommy, I got a plan -
               Whoosh - arriving Big Dan whips the hood from Everett's head. 
               Everett is exposed - in blackface.
               The chanting abruptly stops. The crowd is stunned.
               Big Dan whips off the other two hoods - Delmar and Pete, in 
               From the crowd:
                         The color guard is colored!
               Big Dan roars.
               The crowd roars.
               Everett screams:
                         Run, boys!
               Pandemonium breaks out, and the Imperial Wizard takes off 
               his red satin hood for a better view.
               He is the reform candidate Homer Stokes. Next to him, his 
               midget also pulls of his midget hood.
               Stokes is peeved.
                         Who made them the color guard?
               Everett, Pete, Tommy and Delmar, bearing the Confederate 
               flag, are retreating across the neutral ground separating 
               the mob of Klansmen from the burning cross. The mob pursues 
               in full cry.
               When the intruders reach the foot of the cross, Delmar turns. 
               He javelins the flagpole up and out toward the pursuing crowd.
               Homer Stokes is mortified.
                         Damn! Can't let that flag touch the 
               The crowd gasps and watches, heads tilted back, in silence.
               The only sound is the fluttering flag.
               Homer Stokes' eyes rise, hesitate and start to fall as the 
               flag reaches its zenith and starts to descend.
               We boom down with the hurtling flag toward a sea of upturned 
               white hoods. Dead in the middle is bareheaded Dan Teague.
               His arms are tensed out at his sides like a waiting kick-off 
               returner. He squints up with his one good eye, judging 
               distance and trajectory.
               From somewhere we hear a loud BOINK, as of a wire popping.
               The flag flutters.
               The crowd is silent.