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"O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU"



			 "O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU"

					  By

			   Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

	BLACK

	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

	BLACK

	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 
	down.

	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.

	BARNYARD

	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 
	men.

	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 
	arm.

	AFTERNOON CAMPFIRE

	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.

	TRACKING

	Laterally with the clanking, running feet.

	The chugging sound is very loud.

	RUNNING

	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 
	Everett.

	As he dusts himself off:

				EVERETT
		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.

				EVERETT
		Or, if not smithies per se, were you 
		otherwise trained in the metallurgic 
		arts before straitened circumstances 
		forced you into a life of aimless 
		wanderin'?

	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.

	OUTSIDE

	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.

				EVERETT
		Jesus - can't I count on you people?

	The second con is Delmar.

				DELMAR
		Sorry, Everett.

	Everett looks desperately about.

				EVERETT
		All right - if we take off through 
		that bayou-

	The third con, Pete, bald but also with beard stubble, angrily 
	cuts in.

				PETE
		Wait a minute! Who elected you leader 
		a this outfit?

				EVERETT
		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!

				PETE
		Suits me! I'm votin' for yours truly!

				EVERETT
		Well I'm votin' for yours truly too!

	Both men look interrogatively to Delmar.

	He looks from Pete to Everett, and nods agreeably.

				DELMAR
		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 
	them.

	As it draws closer it resolves into a human-propelled flatcar. 
	An ancient black man rhythmically pumps its long seesaw 
	handle.

	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.

				EVERETT
		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.

				DELMAR
		You work for the railroad, grandpa?

				OLD MAN
		I work for no man.

				PETE
		Got a name, do ya?

				OLD MAN
		I have no name.

				EVERETT
		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 
		startlements...

	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 
	horizon.

								FADE OUT

	DAY

	A hot dusty road leading up to a lone farmhouse.

	The three men walk, clanking and abreast.

				DELMAR
		How'd he know about the treasure?

				EVERETT
		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-

				PETE
		He said we wouldn't get it! He said 
		we wouldn't get the treasure we seek!

	Everett grows testy:

				EVERETT
		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.

				CHILD
		You men from the bank?

				PETE
		You Wash's boy?

				CHILD
		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.

				DELMAR
		Well, we ain't from no bank, young 
		feller.

				CHILD
		Yassir! I'm also suppose to shoot 
		folks servin' papers!

				DELMAR
		Well we ain't got no papers.

				CHILD
		Yassir! I nicked the census man!

				DELMAR
		There's a good boy. Is your daddy 
		about?

	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.

				WASH
		'Lo, Pete. Hooor yer friends?

				EVERETT
		Pleased to make your acquaintance, 
		Mister Hogwallop. M'name's Ulysses 
		Everett McGill.

				DELMAR
		'N I'm Delmar O'Donnell.

				PETE
		How ya been, Wash? Been what, twelve, 
		thirteen year'n?

	Still looking sourly at his whittling:

				WASH
		You've grown chatty.

	He tosses the stick aside and sighs.

				WASH
		I expect you'll want them chains 
		knocked off.

	THE HOGWALLOP KITCHEN

	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.

	WASH

	They foreclosed on Cousin Vester. He hanged himself a year 
	come May.

				PETE
		And Uncle Ratliff?

				WASH
		The anthrax took most of his cows. 
		The rest don't milk, and he lost a 
		boy to mumps.

				PETE
		Where's Cora, Cousin Wash?

	Wash glances at the little boy.

				WASH
		Couldn't say. Mrs. Hogwallop up and 
		R-U-N-N-O-F-T.

				EVERETT
		Mm. Must've been lookin' for answers.

				WASH
		Possibly. Good riddance, far as I'm 
		concerned...

	The three men slurp their stew.

				WASH
		I do miss her cookin' though.

				DELMAR
		This stew's awful good.

				WASH
		Think so?

	He sniffs dubiously at his spoon.

				WASH
		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.

				ANNOUNCER
		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 
		sunshine...'

	Everett clears his throat.

				EVERETT
		Well, guess I'll be turning in...

	He screws the lid back on the pomade.

				EVERETT
		Say, Cousin Wash, I guess it'd be 
		the acme of foolishness to inquire 
		if you had a hairnet.

				WASH
		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.

				EVERETT
		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.

				DELMAR
		What inna Sam Hill...?

				EVERETT
		Pete's cousin turned us in for the 
		bounty!

				PETE
		The hell you say! Wash is kin!

	An unamplified voice echoes up from the yard:

				VOICE
		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:

				PETE
		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.

				EVERETT
		Damn! We're in a tight spot!

	Pete is enraged:

				PETE
		Damn his eyes! Pa always said never 
		trust a Hogwallop-COME'N GET US, 
		COPPERS!

				BULLHORN VOICE
		So be it! You boys're leavin' us no 
		choice but to smoke you out.

				EVERETT
		Oh no! Lord have mercy!

	Men approach the barn with torches.

				DELMAR
		What do we do now, Everett?

				EVERETT
		Fire! I hate fire!

				PETE
		YOU LOUSY TIN-WEARIN' MOTHERLESS
		BARNBURNIN' COCKROACHES-

	Everett cuts in, his voice breaking:

				EVERETT
		NOW HOLD ON, BOYS-AINTCHA EVER HEARD 
		OF A NEGOTIATION? MAYBE WE CAN TALK 
		THIS THING OUT!

				DELMAR
		Yeah, let's negotiate 'em, Everett.

	The hayloft is filling with smoke. Flames lick downstairs.

				PETE
		YOU LOUSY YELLA-BELLIED LOW-DOWN 
		SKUNKS-

				EVERETT
		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 
	congregation.

	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.

				VOICES
		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 
	flames:

				BOY
		Come on, boys! I'm gonna R-U-N-N-O-F-
		T!

	Pete, Everett and Delmar pile in.

				DELMAR
		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.

				BOY
		You ain't the boss a me!

	The car speeds for the far wall, sheeted in flame, and bursts 
	through.

	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:

				BOY
		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:

				PETE
		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 
	engine.

				PETE
		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.

				PROPRIETOR
		I can get the part from Bristol; 
		it'll take two weeks. Here's your 
		pomade.

	Everett is stunned.

				EVERETT
		Two weeks! That don't do me no good!

				PROPRIETOR
		Nearest Ford auto man's Bristol.

	Everett picks up the tin.

				EVERETT
		Hold on there - I don't want this 
		pomade, I want Dapper Dan.

				PROPRIETOR
		I don't carry Dapper Dan. I carry 
		Fop.

				EVERETT
		No! I don't want Fop! Goddamnit - I 
		use Dapper Dan!

				PROPRIETOR
		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.

				EVERETT
		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 
		town...

	He stalks into frame and plops disgustedly down by the fire.

				EVERETT
		...but try getting a decent hair 
		jelly.

				DELMAR
		Gopher, Everett?

				EVERETT
		And no transmission belt for two 
		weeks neither.

				PETE
		Huh?! They dam that river on the 
		21st.  Today's the 17th!

				EVERETT
		Don't I know it.

				PETE
		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.

				PETE
		We ain't gonna make it walkin'.

				DELMAR
		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 
	hair.

	We hear distant singing - one lone tenor voice.

				EVERETT
		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 
	Pete.

				EVERETT
		-for the transportation, that is; I 
		don't know how I'm gonna keep my 
		coiffure in order.

	Pete looks at the watch, puzzled.

				PETE
		How's this a plan? How're we gonna 
		get a car?

				EVERETT
		Sell that. I figured it could only 
		have painful associations for Wash.

	Pete pops the front and reads the inscription.

				PETE
		To Washington Bartholomew Hogwallop.  
		From his loving Cora. Ay-More Fie-
		dellis.

				EVERETT
		It was in his bureau.

	He screws the lid back on the pomade.

	Delmar whistles appreciatively.

				DELMAR
		You got light fingers, Everett. 
		Gopher?

				PETE
		You mis'able little sneak thief...

	He lurches threateningly to his feet.

				PETE
		You stole from my kin!

	Everett scrambles up.

				EVERETT
		Who was fixing to betray us!

				PETE
		You didn't know that at the time!

				EVERETT
		So I borrowed it till I did know!

				PETE
		That don't make no sense!

				EVERETT
		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.

				VOICE
		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 
	voice:

				VOICES
		Oh Brothers, let's go down, down to 
		the river to pray...

	Delmar gazes wonderingly at the white-robed figures as he 
	answers Everett:

				DELMAR
		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:

				EVERETT
		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.

				DELMAR
		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.

				VOICES
		Oh, sisters, let's go down, come on 
		down, don't you want to go down...

				DELMAR
		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:

				WOMAN
		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:

				VOICES
		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.

				EVERETT
		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.

				EVERETT
		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.

				PETE
		Well, I'll be a sonofabitch. Delmar's 
		been saved!

				EVERETT
		Pete, don't be ignorant-

	Delmar is slogging back through the water.

				DELMAR
		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!

				EVERETT
		Delmar what the hell are you talking 
		about? - We got bigger fish to fry-

				DELMAR
		Preacher said my sins are warshed 
		away, including that Piggly Wiggly I 
		knocked over in Yazoo!

				EVERETT
		I thought you said you were innocent 
		a those charges.

				DELMAR
		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!

	LATER

	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 
	pomade.

				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:

				PETE
		The preacher said it absolved us.

				EVERETT
		For him, not for the law! I'm 
		surprised at you, Pete. Hell, I gave 
		you credit for more brains than 
		Delmar.

				DELMAR
		But there were witnesses, saw us 
		redeemed!

				EVERETT
		That's not the issue, Delmar. Even 
		if it did put you square with the 
		Lord, the State of Mississippi is 
		more hardnosed.

				DELMAR
		You should a joined us, Everett. It 
		couldn't a hurt none.

				PETE
		Hell, at least it woulda washed away 
		the stink of that pomade.

				EVERETT
		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.

				EVERETT
		Baptism. You two are just dumber'n a 
		bag of hammers. Well, I guess you're 
		my cross to bear-

				DELMAR
		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.

				HITCHHIKER
		You folks goin' through Tishamingo?

	Delmar pushes open the back door.

				DELMAR
		Sure, hop in.

	Everett looks at the man in the rearview mirror as he pulls 
	out.

				EVERETT
		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.

				HITCHHIKER
		Thank you fuh the lif', suh. M'names 
		Tommy. Tommy Johnson.

	Delmar is genuinely friendly:

				DELMAR
		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:

				TOMMY
		I had to be at that crossroads las' 
		midnight to sell mah soul to the 
		devil.

				EVERETT
		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 
		unaffiliated!

				DELMAR
		This ain't no laughin' matter, 
		Everett.

				EVERETT
		What'd the devil give you for your 
		soul, Tommy?

				TOMMY
		He taught me to play this guitar 
		real good.

	Delmar is horrified:

				DELMAR
		Oh, son! For that you traded your 
		everlastin' soul?!

	Tommy shrugs.

				TOMMY
		I wudden usin' it.

				PETE
		I always wondered-what's the devil 
		look like?

				EVERETT
		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.

				TOMMY
		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.

				PETE
		And he told you to go to Tishamingo?

				TOMMY
		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.

				EVERETT
		How much does he pay?

	TISHAMINGO

	The car is pulling into the parking lot of a single-story 
	cement-block building with a hundred-foot antenna and a 
	handpainted sign:

	WEZY 
	LISTENING AIN'T NEVER BEEN 
	SO EASY NOR 
	SO FINE

	As the men get out of the car, Everett snaps his suspenders.

				EVERETT
		All right boys, just follow my lead.

	INSIDE

	Everett strides up to a portly middle-aged man who wears 
	dark glasses and holds a white cane.

				EVERETT
		Who's the honcho around here?

				MAN
		I am. Hur you?

				EVERETT
		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.

				MAN
		Well that all depends. You boys do 
		Negro songs?

	Everett grimaces, thinking.

				EVERETT
		Sir, we are Negroes. All except our 
		a-cump- uh, company-accompluh- uh, 
		the fella that plays the gui-tar.

				MAN
		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-

				EVERETT
		Sir, the Soggy Bottom Boys been 
		steeped in ol'-timey material. Heck, 
		you're silly with it, aintcha boys?

				PETE
		That's right!

				DELMAR
		That's right! We ain't really Negroes!

				PETE
		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 
	Sorrow'.

	When they finish Everett whoops and slaps Tommy on the back.

				EVERETT
		Hot damn, boy, I almost believe you 
		did sell your soul to the devil!

				MAN
		Boys, that was some mighty fine 
		pickin' and singin'. You just sign 
		these papers and I'll give you ten 
		dollars apiece.

				EVERETT
		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.

				DELMAR
		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!

				PAPPY
		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.

				JUNIOR
		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.

				ECKARD
		Finest governor we've ever had in 
		M'sippi.

				SPIVEY
		In any state.

				ECKARD
		Oh Lord yes, any parish'r precinct; 
		I was makin' the larger point.

	As Pappy brushes by them, Junior wheedles:

				JUNIOR
		Aintcha gonna press the flesh, Pappy, 
		do a little politickin'?

	Pappy slaps at the young man with his hat.

				PAPPY
		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.

				PAPPY
		We ain't one-at-a-timin' here, we 
		mass communicatin'!

				ECKARD
		Oh, yes, assa parful new force.

				SPIVEY
		Mm-mm.

	The men head for the station, with Junior lagging.

				PAPPY
		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:

				DELMAR
		Why don't we bed down out here 
		tonight?

				PETE
		Yeah, it stinks in that ol' barn.

				EVERETT
		Suits me...

	He stretches out.

				EVERETT
		Pretty soon it'll be nothin' but 
		feather beds'n silk sheets.

	Pete swishes his coffee as he stares into the blaze.

				PETE
		A million dollars.

				EVERETT
		Million point two.

				DELMAR
		Five... hunnert... thousand... each.

				EVERETT
		Four hundred, Delmar.

				DELMAR
		Izzat right?

				EVERETT
		What're you gonna do with your share 
		of the treasure, Pete?

				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:

				PETE
		An' all my meals for free...

				EVERETT
		What about you, Delmar? What're you 
		gonna do with your share a that dough?

				DELMAR
		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.

				PETE
		What about you, Everett? What'd you 
		have in mind when you stoled it in 
		the first place?

				EVERETT
		Me? Oh, I didn't have no plan. Still 
		don't, really.

				PETE
		Well that hardly sounds like you...

	A distant Voice:

				VOICE
		All right, boys, itsy authorities!

	The three men tense up. Tommy stops singing.

				VOICE
		Your sitchy-ation is purt nigh 
		hopeless!

	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.

				EVERETT
		Damn! They found our car!

	The man with the bullhorn continues, directing his comments 
	at the distant barn:

				MAN
		We ain't got the time-and nary 
		inclination-to gentle you boys no 
		further!

	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.

				MAN
		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.

				DELMAR
		Damn! We gotta skedaddle!

				EVERETT
		I left my pomade in that car! Maybe 
		I can creep up!

				DELMAR
		Don't be a fool, Everett, we gotta R-
		U-N-O-F-F-T, but pronto!

				EVERETT
		Where's Tommy?

				PETE
		Already lit out, scared out of his 
		wits. Let's go!

	DAYTIME ROAD

	The three men shuffle down the dusty road.

				PETE
		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!

				EVERETT
		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.

				DELMAR
		Yeah, look at me.

				EVERETT
		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.

				EVERETT
		...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.

				DRIVER
		Is this the road to Itta Bena?

				PETE
		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.

				EVERETT
		Itta Bena, now, uh, that would be...

				PETE
		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.

				EVERETT
		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.

				PETE
		...Nah, that ain't right... I'm 
		thinkin' of...

				EVERETT
		...I believe, unless I'm very much 
		mistaken - see, we've been away for 
		several years, uh...

	The driver pushes open the passenger door.

				DRIVER
		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.

				DRIVER
		Any a you boys know your way around 
		a Walther PPK?

				DELMAR
		Well now, that's where we cain't 
		help ya. I don't believe it's in 
		Mississippi.

	The man stops withdrawing the gun and appraises his 
	passengers. Delmar reacts to the paper currency fluttering 
	inside the car:

				DELMAR
		Friend, some of your folding money 
		has come unstowed.

				DRIVER
		Just stuff it down that sack there. 
		You boys aren't badmen, I take it?

				DELMAR
		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.

				DRIVER
		George Nelson. It's a pleasure.

	He opens his door and steps onto the running board, giving 
	Everett a casual:

				NELSON
		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.

				NELSON
		Hand up that Thompson, Jack.

	Delmar gropes in the footwell.

				DELMAR
		Say, what line of work are you in, 
		George?

	EXT. CAR

	Nelson sends a spray of bullets back at the pursuit car.

				NELSON
		COME AND GET ME, COPPERS! YOU 
		FLATFOOTED LAMEBRAINED SOFT-ASSED 
		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:

				NELSON
		...cows...

	He swings the tommy gun over with a whoop.

				NELSON
		I hate cows worse than coppers!

	He lets loose a spray. One of the cows drops and the rest 
	stampede toward the road.

				DELMAR
		Aww, George, not the livestock.

	Energized, Nelson resumes bellowing:

				NELSON
		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.

				NELSON
		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.

				NELSON
		OKAY FOLKS! HOLD THE APPLAUSE AND 
		DROP YER DRAWERS - I'M GEORGE NELSON 
		AND I'M HERE TO SACK THE CITY A ITTA 
		BENA!

	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.

				DELMAR
		He's a live wire though, ain't he?

				NELSON
		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.

				NELSON
		It's a kick and a quarter, ain't it 
		boys?

	Distant sirens again.

				EVERETT
		Pardon me, George, but have you got 
		a plan for gettin' outa here?

				NELSON
		Sure boys, here's m'plan!

	He whips open his suitcoat to reveal a half-dozen sticks of 
	dynamite.

				NELSON
		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.

				VOICE
		...it's Babyface Nelson...

	George whirls.

				NELSON
		WHO SAID THAT?!

	The customers stare mutely back.

				NELSON
		WHAT IGNORANT LOWDOWN SLANDERIZING 
		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.

				DELMAR
		They didn't mean anything by it, 
		George.

				NELSON
		GEORGE NELSON! NOT BABYFACE! YOU 
		REMEMBER AND YOU TELL YOUR FRIENDS!  
		I'M GEORGE NELSON, BORN TO RAISE 
		HELL!

	OUTSIDE THE BANK

	The siren grows louder as the four men emerge.

				EVERETT
		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-  

				NELSON
		Aww, I'm all right-

	He shrugs off Everett's hand and lights the fuse on a stick 
	of dynamite.

				NELSON
		This'll put me right back on top!

	The car squeals up and, as sirens approach once again, the 
	three men pile in.

				NELSON
		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.

	CAMPFIRE

	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:

				DELMAR
		Damn but that was some fun though, 
		won it George?!

	George responds, barely audible and without brightening:

				GEORGE
		...yeah...

	Everett and Pete exchange significant looks. Delmar, however, 
	is less sensitive to the Babyface's mood.

				DELMAR
		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!

				GEORGE
		...it's okay...

				DELMAR
		Whoa doggies!

	At length George swishes the coffee around his cup, shrugs, 
	tosses the coffee and rises.

				GEORGE
		...Well, I'm takin' off.

	He digs into a pocket and tosses his car keys to a dumbfounded 
	Delmar.

				GEORGE
		You boys can have the automobile.

	Glassy-eyed, he continues to dig in his pockets and lets his 
	money fall to the ground.

				GEORGE
		'N might as well take my share a the 
		riches.

				DELMAR
		What the - where you goin', George?

	George has turned woodenly and walks away, leaving the 
	campfire's flickering circle of light.

				GEORGE
		...I dunno... who cares...

	Delmar stares at Everett, who looks appraisingly at George's 
	retreating back. Pete scrambles to pick up the loose money.

				DELMAR
		Now wuddya suppose is eatin' George?

				EVERETT
		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 
		Nelson.

	Delmar, gazing out at the blackness that has closed over 
	George Nelson, hasn't really been listening. He turns sadly 
	back.

				DELMAR
		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:

				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.

				VOICE
		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.

				MIDGET
		Greetings, brother! Vote for Stokes!

	The voice tails away:

				MIDGET
		Clean gummint is yours for the askin'!

	Our pan with the passing truck comes to rest on the WEZY 
	radio building.

	INSIDE

	We are pulling back from a close shot of the portly blind 
	man.

				MAN
		Hang on! Lemme slap up a wire.

	He turns away to load a recording as he talks into a 
	microphone.

				MAN
		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.

				MAN
		Now what can I do you for, Mister 
		French?

				FRENCH
		How can I lay hold a the Soggy Bottom 
		Boys?

				MAN
		Soggy Bottom Boys - I don't precisely 
		recollect, uh -

				FRENCH
		They cut a record in here, few days 
		ago, old-timey harmony thing with a 
		guitar Accump-accump-uh-

				MAN
		Oh I remember 'em, colored fellas I 
		believe, swell bunch a boys, sung 
		into yon can and skedaddled.

				FRENCH
		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!

				MAN
		It was a powerful air.

				FRENCH
		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!

				MAN
		Oh mercy, yes. You gotta beat that 
		competition.

	'I'll Fly Away' mixes up to play full over the following.

	MONTAGE

	- 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 
	pods.

	- 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'?

				CLERK
		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 
	verse.

	- 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.

				PETE
		...Shutup, Delmar.

	Delmar and Everett exchange glances; Everett shrugs and Delmar 
	desists.

	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:

				PETE
		PULL OVER!

	Everett, startled, does so.

	EXT.

	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.

				EVERETT
		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:

				PETE
		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:

				PETE
		Maybe I could help you with the, uh-

	He realizes he is holding ladies' undergarments.

				PETE
		Ahem. I, uh...

	He drops them back in the basket.

				PETE
		I don't believe I've, uh, heard that 
		song before...

	Everett and Delmar have arrived; Everett is loud and jovial:

				EVERETT
		Aintcha gonna innerduce us, Pete?

	Pete's eyes stay glued on the women as he hisses out of the 
	corner of his mouth:

				PETE
		Don't know their names. I seen 'em 
		first!

	Everett laughs lightly.

				EVERETT
		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.

				EVERETT
		Why, thank you dear, that's very, 
		uh...

	He takes a swig.

				EVERETTE
		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.

				DELMAR
		Pleased to meet you, ma'am.

	The singing continues. The stream gurgles. Somewhere, in the 
	distance, flies lazily buzz.

				PETE
		Damn!

								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 
	continues.

	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 
	gone.

	After looking blearily about for a moment, Delmar starts and 
	staggers to his feet.

				DELMAR
		Holy Saint Christopher!

	He toes Everett urgently in the ribs.

				EVERETT
		Whuhh...

				DELMAR
		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.

				EVERETT
		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 
	falling.

				DELMAR
		Sweet Jesus, Everett! They left his 
		heart!

	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.

				EVERETT
		What on earth is goin' on here! What's 
		got into you, Delmar!

				DELMAR
		Caintcha see it Everett! Them sigh-
		reens did this to Pete! They loved 
		him up an' turned him into a horney-
		toad!

	The toad hops down the river bank.

				DELMAR
		Pete! Come back!

	He slides down the bank after the toad, Everett watching in 
	perturbation.

	The toad plops into the river and Delmar dives in after him. 
	He emerges a moment later with the toad wriggling in his 
	hand.

				DELMAR
		Don't worry, Pete! It's me, Delmar! 
		Oh Everett! What're we gonna do?!

	DRIVING

	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:

				EVERETT
		...I'm not sure that's Pete.

				DELMAR
		Course it's Pete! Look at 'im!

	The frog croaks.

				DELMAR
		We gotta find some kinda wizard can 
		change 'im back!

	A beat. Delmar continues to whimper.

	Everett squints and shakes his head.

				EVERETT
		...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.

				EVERETT
		You can't display a toad in a fine 
		restaurant like this! Why, the good 
		folks here'd go right off their feed!

				DELMAR
		I just don't think it's right, keepin' 
		him under wraps like we's ashamed of 
		him.

				EVERETT
		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.

				EVERETT
		-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.

	BACK TO EVERETT AND DELMAR

	Still heatedly discussing.

				DELMAR
		The two of us was fixing to fornicate!

	The waitress has just arrived for their order. Everett gives 
	her an ingratiating laugh:

				EVERETT
		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.

				EVERETT
		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 
	pat.

	BACK TO EVERETT AND DELMAR

	As Everett closes his menu.

				EVERETT
		...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.

				WAITRESS
		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.

				EVERETT
		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.

				EVERETT
		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 
		friend?

				DELMAR
		Uh, we uh-

				EVERETT
		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.

				EVERETT
		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-
	room.

	INSIDE THE PRIVATE ROOM

	Pappy O'Daniel sits smoking a cigar, nursing a glass of 
	whiskey, and soliciting the counsel of his overweight retinue.

				PAPPY
		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 
		walk!

				JUNIOR
		Well he's the reform candidate, Daddy.

	Pappy narrows his eyes at him, wondering what he's getting 
	at.

				PAPPY
		...Yeah?

				JUNIOR
		Well people like that reform. Maybe 
		we should get us some.

	Pappy whips off his hat and slaps at Junior with it.

				PAPPY
		I'll reform you, you soft-headed 
		sonofabitch! How we gonna run reform 
		when we're the damn incumbent!

	He glares around the table.

				PAPPY
		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.

				ECKARD
		Okay, Pappy.

	Pappy whips him back down with his hat.

				PAPPY
		I'm just makin' a point, you stupid 
		sonofabitch!

				ECKARD
		Okay, Pappy.

	As he settles back Eckard looks around the table and helpfully 
	relays:

				ECKARD
		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.

				EVERETT
		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 
		we?

				DELMAR
		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.

				DELMAR
		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.

				EVERETT
		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.

				EVERETT
		...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:

				EVERETT
		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 
	pockets.

				BIG DAN
		Do unto others before they do unto 
		you!

	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 
	inside.

				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:

				DELMAR
		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.

				DELMAR
		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.

				DELMAR
		Pete... Pete... Pete...

								FADE OUT

	PAN DOWN FROM BLACK TO BRING IN A TORCH

	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:

				VOICE
		Where are they?!

	There is the sound of a lash and a scream.

				VOICE
		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 
	bullwhip.

				INTERROGATOR
		Your screams ain't gonna save your 
		flesh! Only your tongue is, boy!

	Another lash, another scream.

				INTERROGATOR
		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.

				COOLEY
		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.

				COOLEY
		Sweet summer rain. Like God's own 
		mercy.

	He looks back down at Pete.

				COOLEY
		Your two friends have abandoned you, 
		Pete.  They don't seem to care 'bout 
		your hide.

	He shrugs, looks off.

				COOLEY
		...Okay.

	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.

				COOLEY
		Stairway to heaven, Pete.

	The two henchmen fit the noose over Pete's neck. Cooley licks 
	his lips. His dog slobbers.

				COOLEY
		We shall all meet, by and by.

				PETE
		Goddamnit!

	Cooley holds up one hand. The two men pause in fitting the 
	noose.

	Pete is sobbing:

				PETE
		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:

				EVERETT
		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 
		sentimentality.

	Delmar doggedly shakes his head.

				DELMAR
		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:

				EVERETT
		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 
	thread:

				EVERETT
		...and about... life in general...

	The prisoners look like phantoms in the heat and dust.

				EVERETT
		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:

				EVERETT
		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.

				EVERETT
		Pete have a brother?

				DELMAR
		Not that I'm aware.

	Everett shakes his head as if to clear it.

				EVERETT
		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 
	rustics.

	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.

				STOKES
		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:

				MIDGET
		He ain't lyin'!

				STOKES
		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 
	waves.

				STOKES
		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:

				STOKES
		An' now - the little Wharvey gals!  
		Whatcha got for us, darlin's?

	The oldest girl is about ten.

				LITTLE GIRL
		'In the Highways'!

				STOKES
		That's fine.

	The haytruck has pulled into the square and Everett and Delmar 
	are climbing out.

	Everett stares at the stage.

				EVERETT
		Wharvey gals?! Did he just say the 
		little Wharvey gals?

	Delmar shrugs. For some reason, Everett is enraged:

				EVERETT
		Goddamnit all!

	Onstage, the three girls are singing in untrained but 
	enthusiastic harmony:

				GIRLS
		In the highways, In the hedges...

	Everett stomps toward the stage, fighting his way through 
	the crowd. Puzzled, Delmar follows.

				DELMAR
		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.

				YOUNGEST
		Daddy!

				MIDDLE
		He ain't our daddy!

				EVERETT
		Hell I ain't! Whatsis 'Wharvey' gals? - 
		Your name's McGill!

				YOUNGEST
		No sir! Not since you got hit by a 
		train!

				EVERETT
		What're you talkin' about - I wasn't 
		hit by a train!

				MIDDLE
		Mama said you was hit by a train!

				YOUNGEST
		Blooey!

				OLDEST
		Nothin' left!

				MIDDLE
		Just a grease spot on the L&N!

				EVERETT
		Damnit, I never been hit by any train!

				OLDEST
		At's right! So Mama's got us back to 
		Wharvey!

				MIDDLE
		That's a maiden name.

				YOUNGEST
		You got a maiden name, Daddy?

				EVERETT
		No, Daddy ain't got a maiden name; 
		ya see -

				MIDDLE
		That's your misfortune!

				YOUNGEST
		At's right! And now Mama's got a new 
		beau!

				OLDEST
		He's a suitor!

				EVERETT
		Yeah, I know 'bout that.

				MIDDLE
		Mama says he's bona fide!

	This worries Everett:

				EVERETT
		Hm. He give her a ring?

				YOUNGEST
		Yassir, big'un!

				MIDDLE
		Gotta gem!

				OLDEST
		Mama checked it!

				YOUNGEST
		It's bona fide!

				MIDDLE
		He's a suitor!

				EVERETT
		Hm. What's his name?

				MIDDLE
		Vernon T. Waldrip.

				YOUNGEST
		Uncle Vernon.

				OLDEST
		Till tomorrow.

				YOUNGEST
		Then he's gonna be Daddy!

				EVERETT
		I'm the only damn daddy you got! I'm 
		the damn paterfamilias!

				OLDEST
		Yeah, but you ain't bona fide!

				EVERETT
		Hm. Where's your mama?

	Stokes is announcing from the stage:

				STOKES
		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:

				MIDDLE
		She's at the five and dime.

				YOUNGEST
		Buyin' nipples!

	WOOLWORTH'S

	The faces of a six-year-old girl and her four-year-old sister 
	light up.

				GIRLS
		Daddy!

	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.

				EVERETT
		Who the hell is that?!

				WOMAN
		Starla Wharvey.

				EVERETT
		Starla McGill you mean! How come you 
		never told me about her?

				SIX-YEAR-OLD
		'Cause you was hit by a train.

				EVERETT
		And that's another thing - why're 
		you tellin' our gals I was hit by a 
		train!

				WOMAN
		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?

				EVERETT
		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.

				BOATER
		'Lo Penny... This gentleman bothering 
		you?

				EVERETT
		You Waldrip?

				BOATER
		That's right.

	Everett sniffs and, catching a scent, squints.

	Waldrip's hair, protruding from under his boater, is plastered 
	against his scalp.

				EVERETT
		...Have you been using my hair 
		treatment?

				WALDRIP
		Your hair treatment?!

	Everett covers his anger with an exaggerated politeness.

				EVERETT
		S'cuse me...

	He draws Penny aside.

				EVERETT
		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 
		daughters.

				SIX-YEAR-OLD
		Seven, Daddy!

				PENNY
		That ain't your daddy, Alvinelle. 
		Your daddy was hit by a train.

				EVERETT
		Now Penny, stop that!

				PENNY
		No - you stop it! Vernon here's got 
		a job. Vernon's got prospects. He's 
		bona fide! What're you?

				EVERETT
		I'll tell you what I am - I'm the 
		paterfamilias! You can't marry him!

				PENNY
		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!

				EVERETT
		...Why you... lyin,... unconstant... 
		succubus!

				WALDRIP
		You can't swear at my fiancee!

				EVERETT
		Oh yeah? Well you can't marry my 
		wife!

	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:

				BYSTANDERS
		Who is that man?

				PENNY
		He's not my husband. Just a drifter, 
		I guess... Just some no-account 
		drifter...

	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:

				EVERETT
		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 
		spent!

				DELMAR
		Okay, Everett.

				EVERETT
		Hit by a train! Truth means nothin' 
		to Woman, Delmar. Triumph a the 
		subjective!  You ever been with a 
		woman?

				DELMAR
		Well, uh, I - I gotta get the family 
		farm back before I can start thinkin' 
		about that.

				EVERETT
		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!

				DELMAR
		Everett, I never figured you for a 
		paterfamilias.

				EVERETT
		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 
	attention:

				VOICE
		Do not seek the treasure! It's a 
		bushwhack!

	Everett and Delmar turn and stare, saucer-eyed. In the middle 
	of the frontmost row of convicts sits Pete - bald, haunted 
	Pete.

	After a long, disbelieving stare:

				DELMAR
		...Pete?

	Pete whispers again, urgently:

				PETE
		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:

				DELMAR
		...Pete?

				PETE
		Do not seek the treasure!

	Everett's face remains frozen in horrified disbelief, but 
	Delmar finally accepts Pete's corporeal reality.

				DELMAR
		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 
	movements:

				DELMAR
		We thought... you was... a toad!

	Pete shakes his head - didn't catch it - and repeats, also 
	overarticulating:

				PETE
		Do not... seek... the treasure!

	A guard murmurs:

				GUARD
		Quiet there. Watcha pickcha.

	VERANDA

	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.

				PAPPY
		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' 
		livestock?!

				JUNIOR
		We cain't do that, Daddy, we might 
		offend our constichency.

				PAPPY
		We ain't got a constichency! Stokes 
		got a constichency!

				ECKARD
		Them straw polls is ugly.

				SPIVEY
		Stokes is pullin' ah pants down.

				ECKARD
		Gonna pluck us off the tit.

				SPIVEY
		Pappy gonna be sittin' there pants 
		down and Stokes at the table soppin' 
		up the gravy.

				ECKARD
		Latch right on to that tit.

				SPIVEY
		Wipin' little circles with his bread.

				ECKARD
		Suckin' away.

				SPIVEY
		Well, it's a well-run campaign, 
		midget'n broom'n whatnot.

				ECKARD
		Devil his due.

				SPIVEY
		Helluva awgazation.

				JUNIOR
		Say, I gotten idee.

				ECKARD
		What sat, Junior?

				JUNIOR
		We could hire us a little fella even 
		smaller'n Stokes's.

	Pappy whips at him with his hat.

				PAPPY
		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.

				ECKARD
		Problem a p'seption.

				SPIVEY
		Ass right.

				ECKARD
		Reason why he's pullin' ah pants 
		down.

				SPIVEY
		Gonna paddle ah little bee-hind.

				ECKARD
		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.

				SPIVEY
		No, I believe he's a-gonna paddle 
		it.

				ECKARD
		Well now, I don't believe assa 
		property scription.

				SPIVEY
		Well, that's how I characterize it.

				ECKARD
		Well, I believe it's mawva kickin' 
		sichation.

				SPIVEY
		Pullin' ah pants down...

				ECKARD
		Wipin' little circles with his 
		bread...

	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.

				PETE
		I could not gaze upon that far 
		shore...

	He reacts quizically to a whispered:

				VOICE
		Pete!

	A moment later Everett rises over the lip of his bed. His 
	face is blacked and he sways as if standing on a boat.

				EVERETT
		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 
	sway:

				DELMAR
		...Cain't stand much longer.

	Pete's eyes burn into Everett's.

				PETE
		It was a moment a weakness!

				EVERETT
		Quitcha babblin' Pete - time to 
		skedaddle.

	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.

				PETE
		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.

				EVERETT
		I shoulda guessed it - typical womanly 
		behavior. Just lucky we left before 
		they came for us.

				DELMAR
		We didn't abandon you, Pete, we just 
		thought you was a toad.

				PETE
		No, they never did turn me into a 
		toad.

				DELMAR
		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.

				PETE
		Well I - I ain't had it easy either, 
		boys.  Uh, frankly, I - well I spilled 
		my guts about the treasure.

				DELMAR
		Huh?!

				PETE
		Awful sorry I betrayed you fellas; 
		must be my Hogwallop blood.

				EVERETT
		Aw, that's all right, Pete.

	Pete is shaking his head, miserable.

				PETE
		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.

				EVERETT
		Aw, that's all right.

	Pete starts weeping.

				PETE
		You boys're true friends!

	He hugs a stunned Delmar.

				PETE
		You're m'boon companions!

	He hugs Everett, who looks profoundly uncomfortable.

				EVERETT
		Pete, uh, I don't want ya to beat 
		yourself up about this thing...

				PETE
		I cain't help it, but that's a 
		wonderful thing to say!

				EVERETT
		Well, but Pete...

	He clears his throat.

				EVERETT
		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 
	Everett.

				EVERETT
		Fact of the matter - there never 
		was!

				PETE
		But... but...

				DELMAR
		So - where's all the money from your 
		armored-car job?

				EVERETT
		I never knocked over any armored-
		car. I was sent up for practicing 
		law without a license.

				PETE
		But...

				EVERETT
		Damnit, I just hadda bust out! My 
		wife wrote me she was gettin' married! 
		I gotta stop it!

	Pete stares vacantly off.

				PETE
		...No treasure... I had two weeks 
		left on my sentence...

				EVERETT
		I couldn't wait two weeks! She's 
		gettin' married tomorra!

				PETE
		...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.

				DELMAR
		Huh. I guess they'll tack on fifty 
		years for me too.

				EVERETT
		Boys, we was chained together. I 
		hadda tell ya somethin'. Bustin' out 
		alone was not a option!

				PETE
		...Eighty-four years old.

	Delmar brightens.

				DELMAR
		I'll only be eighty-two.

	Pete lunges at Everett.

				PETE
		YOU RUINED MY LIFE!

	He tackles him and, with his hands wrapped round Everett's 
	throat, the two roll over.

				EVERETT
			(strangled)
		Pete... I do apologize.

				PETE
		Eighty-four years old! I'll be gummin' 
		pab-you-lum!

	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 
		gentlemen!

	Everett hisses:

				EVERETT
		It's Tommy! They got Tommy!

				DELMAR
		Oh my God!

	It is indeed Tommy Johnson.

				TOMMY
		I ain't never harmed nobody!

	Pete is staring aghast at the makeshift gibbet.

				PETE
		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-
	hole.

	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 
	sightlessness.

	Everett, still crouched behind the bushes, notices something. 
	He hisses and points.

				EVERETT
		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.

				WIZARD
		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.

				WIZARD
		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 
		heritage!

	A roar from the crowd.

				WIZARD
		Izzat your culture'n heritage?

	Another roar.

				WIZARD
		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:

				EVERETT
		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:

				EVERETT
		Hey Tommy!

	Tommy looks back over his shoulder.

				TOMMY
		...Huh?

	Everett is oblivious to the big man approaching from behind.

				EVERETT
		It's us! We come to rescue ya!

				TOMMY
		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!

				PETE
		Tommy, you don't wanna get hanged!

				TOMMY
		Naw I don't guess I do, but that's 
		the way it seems to be workin' out.

				EVERETT
		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 
	blackface.

	From the crowd:

				VOICE
		The color guard is colored!

	Big Dan roars.

	The crowd roars.

	Everett screams:

				EVERETT
		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.

				STOKES
		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.

				STOKES
		Damn! Can't let that flag touch the 
		ground!

	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.

	Big Dan sets and...

	WHAP! He snaps his hands up and together.

	He has caught the flagpole. The flag has not touched the 
	ground.

	The crowd cheers.

	Big Dan looks around, beaming acknowledgement of the cheers.

	From somewhere, another BOINK.

	As Big Dan's look reaches front again, his smile fades.

	His eye tracks up - up-

	CREEEEEEK! The fiery cross is twisting and starting to fall.

	At the foot of the cross Everett snaps its last guy wire 
	with his pincers - BOINK - and the four men sprint off.

	WHOOOOSH - As the crowd scatters, the cross descends toward 
	Big Dan, frozen, looking up.

	It crashes in a shower of sparks and embers that obliterates 
	Big Dan Teague.

	A PACKARD

	It is pulling up in front of a town hall from which party 
	sounds filter out.

	Pappy O'Daniel emerges from the car with his retinue - Eckard, 
	Spivey and Junior.

				PAPPY
		I'm sayin' we har this man away.

				ECKARD
		Assa good idea, Pappy.

				SPIVEY
		Helluva idea.

				ECKARD
		Cain't beat 'em, join 'em.

				SPIVEY
		Have him join us, run our campaign 
		'stead a that pencil-neck's.

				ECKARD
		Enticements a power, wealth, settera.

				SPIVEY
		No one says no to Pappy O'Daniel.

				ECKARD
		Oh gracious no. Not with his 
		blandishments.

				SPIVEY
		Powas p'suasion.

				PAPPY
		What's his name again?

				ECKARD
		Campaign manager? Waldrip.

				SPIVEY
		Vernon Waldrip.

				ECKARD
		Vernon T. Waldrip.

				PAPPY
		Hmm... His folks from out Tuscarora?

				SPIVEY
		Tuscarora? Might be. I b'lieve they 
		is.

				ECKARD
		Not a doubt in my mind.

	Pappy is disgusted:

				PAPPY
		You don't know where his goddamn 
		folks from; you speakin' outcha 
		asshole.

				ECKARD
		Well now Pappy I wouldn't put it 
		that strong...

	As the three men make their way up the steps, Eckard's voice 
	is fading:

				ECKARD
		...but p'haps yaw right...

	In wide shot, they disappear into the building.

	A reverse shows the wide shot to have been the point-of-view 
	of Everett, Pete, Delmar and Tommy, who peek out from the 
	mouth of an alley. Everett hisses his intelligence:

				EVERETT
		Well, it's a invitation-only affair; 
		we'll have to sneak in through the 
		service entrance-

				PETE
		Wait a minute - who elected you leader 
		a this outfit? Since we been followin' 
		your lead we got nothin' but trouble! 
		I gotten this close to bein' strung 
		up, n'consumed in a fire, 'n whipped 
		no end, 'n sunstroked, 'n soggied -

				DELMAR
		'N turned into a frog -

				EVERETT
		He was never turned into a frog!

	Delmar sulks:

				DELMAR
		Almost loved up though.

	Everett is stunned.

				EVERETT
		So you're against me now, too!... Is 
		that how it is, boys?

	Silence. No one wants to meet Everett's eye. He is saddened.

				EVERETT
		The whole world and God Almighty... 
		and now you. Well, maybe I deserve 
		this. Boys, I... I know I've made 
		some tactical mistakes. But if you'll 
		just stick with me; I need your help. 
		And I've got a plan.  Believe me, 
		boys, we can fix this thing! I can 
		get my wife back! We can get outta 
		here!

	Headlights play; the men suck back into the alley as a car 
	passes by.

	The car tools up to the banquet hall and Homer Stokes emerges 
	with his midget. The midget tosses his balled-up white hood 
	into the car and both men shrug into their suitcoats.

	Stokes is angry:

				STOKES
		...goddamn disgrace. Made a travesty 
		of the entire evenin'...

	They too start up the stairs. Stokes's pace is brisk and the 
	midget hops awkwardly to keep up.

				STOKES
		...what I wouldn't give to get my 
		hands on those agitators. Whoever 
		heard a such behavior. Even among 
		culluds. Or mulattos, maybe - I 
		suspect some miscegenation in their 
		heritage... how else you goin' explain 
		it - usin' the Confed'it flag as a 
		missile...

	BANQUET HALL KITCHEN

	Everett, Pete, Delmar and Tommy are entering through the 
	back door. The blackface has been scrubbed off but all four 
	now wear long gray beards as disguise, clumsily affixed with 
	spirit gum. Each is carrying a musical-instrument case.

	They elbow past the bustling kitchen help.

				EVERETT
		Scuse me... scuse me... we're the 
		next act...

				DELMAR
		Everett, my beard itches.

				PETE
		This is crazy. No one's ever gonna 
		believe we're a real band.

				EVERETT
		No, this is gonna work! I just gotta 
		get close enough to talk to her. 
		Takin' off with us is got a lot more 
		future in it than marrying a guy 
		named Waldrip.  I'm goddamn bona 
		fide. I've got the answers!

	HEAD TABLE

	Out in the banquet hall Penny and Waldrip sit side-by-side 
	at the head table, surrounded by the Wharvey gals. Penny and 
	Waldrip are facing the hall with their backs to the stage as 
	the four bearded band members - Everett, Pete, Delmar and 
	Tommy - take their places.

	Pappy O'Daniel stands by Waldrip's chair with an arm draped 
	over his shoulder, leaning in to murmur confidentially.  
	Waldrip sits stiffly erect as he listens, frowning at a spot 
	in space.

	Suddenly Waldrip erupts:

				WALDRIP
		Well that's a improper suggestion!  
		I can't switch sides in the middle 
		of a campaign!  Especially to work 
		for a man who lacks moral fibre!

				PAPPY
		Moral fibre?!

	He waves his cane, outraged.

				PAPPY
		You pasty-faced sonofabitch, I 
		invented moral fibre!

	Up on the stage, the band has launched into a song.

				PAPPY
		Pappy O'Daniel was displayin' 
		rectitude and high-mindedness when 
		that pencil-neck you work for was 
		still messin' his drawers!

	A hissed Voice:

				VOICE
		Psst! Penny! Hey! Up here!

	As the two men continue to exchange sharp words, penny turns 
	her head to look steeply up over her shoulder.

	Everett is up onstage just behind her. As the rest of the 
	band continues to play, he is parting his beard to hiss down 
	at her:

				EVERETT
		Penny! It's me!

	Dismayed, she shakes her head and tries to unobtrusively 
	wave him away. He is undeterred:

				EVERETT
		No, Penny, listen! We're leavin' the 
		state! Pusuin' opportunities in 
		another venue! I got big plans! Not 
		minstrelsy; this-here's just a dodge - 
		I'm gonna be a dentist! I know a guy 
		who'll print me up a license! I wanna 
		be what you want me to be, honey! I 
		want you and the gals to come with 
		me!

	She shakes her head vigorously and looks down at her plate 
	as Everett continues pleading to her back:

				EVERETT
		They're my daughters, Penny! I'm the 
		king a this goddamn castle!

	Stokes has ambled up to the head table.

				STOKES
		What're you doin' here, Pappy? I 
		guess someone let on there was free 
		liquor, heh-heh.

				PAPPY
		Yeah, you'll be laughin' out the 
		other side your face come November.

				ECKARD
		Pappy O'Daniel be laughing' then.

				SPIVEY
		Not out the other side his face, 
		though.

				ECKARD
		Oh no, no, just the reg'la side -

	This byplay is interrupted by a roar from the crowd.

	The band has launched into 'Man of Constant Sorrow', 
	precipitating the huge reaction. Everett, still trying to 
	get Penny's attention, looks up, stunned at the ovation.

	Cry from the crowd:

				VOICE
		Hot damn! Itsa Soggy Bottom Boys!

	Everett and the boys, still singing, exchange bemused looks. 
	A shrug, and they lean into the song with a will.

	Everett performs an impromptu buck-and-wing, bringing the 
	crowd to new heights of hysteria.

				PAPPY
		Holy-moly. These boys're a hit!

				JUNIOR
		But Pappy, they's inter-grated.

				PAPPY
		Well I guess folks don't mind they's 
		integrated.

	Stokes is also staring at the band, frowning. He murmurs to 
	himself:

				STOKES
		Wait a minute...

	Everett catches Stokes' look. The two men look at each other, 
	aghast.

	Stokes raises his voice accusingly:

				STOKES
		...you's miscegenated! All you boys!  
		Miscegenated!

	Everett raises the volume of his singing. Stokes cries out:

				STOKES
		Get me a mike-a-phone!

	A mike is thrust into his hand and he bellows into it, 
	overwhelming the music, which the boys eventually abandon. 
	Stokes continues bellowing into the silence:

				STOKES
		These boys is not white! These boys 
		is not white! Hell, they ain't even 
		ol'-timey! I happen to know, ladies'n 
		gentlemen, this band a miscreants 
		here, this very evening, they 
		interfered with a lynch mob inna 
		performance of its duties!

	The crowd stares at him, stone-faced. Stokes plows on:

				STOKES
		It's true! I b'long to a certain 
		society, I don't believe I gotta 
		mention its name, heh-heh...

	Nobody joins in the laugh; Stokes slowly strangles on it.

				STOKES
		...Ahem. And these boys here trampled 
		all over our venerated observances 
		an' rich'ls!  Now this-here music is 
		over! I aim to -

	Boos start up among the crowd.

				STOKES
		I aim to hand these boys over to - 
		listen to me, folks!

	The boos are growing in volume. There are cries of 'More 
	music!' and even one 'Shut up, pencil-neck!'

				STOKES
		Listen to me! These boys desecrated 
		a fiery cross!

	More boos. Waldrip approaches and nudges the microphone away 
	to murmur confidentially in Stokes' ear. Stokes excitedly 
	retrieves the mike and struggles to be heard:

				STOKES
		And they convicts! Fugitives, folks, 
		escaped off the farm!

	This cuts no ice; the boos have become overwhelming.

				STOKES
		Folks, these boys gotta be remanded 
		the 'thorities! Criminals! And I 
		happen to have it from the highest 
		authority that that Neegra sold his 
		soul to the devil!

	He is hit by a tomato.

	The boos are deafening; the Soggy Bottom Boys, sensing 
	opportunity, launch back into the interrupted verse of 'Man 
	of Constant Sorrow'. The boos become wild cheers.

	Stokes is being pelted by foodstuffs. Shielding himself with 
	one arm, he bellows into the mike:

				STOKES
		Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Is you 
		is or is you ain't my constichency?

	INT. RUSTIC CABIN

	Far up some sleepy holler. An old man in overalls and his 
	wife sit hunched before a crystal set, listening to the tinny 
	voice. They look at each other wordlessly, look back at the 
	crystal set.

	BACK TO BANQUET HALL

	Stokes is almost drowned out by the music as his midget looks 
	apprehensively on.

				STOKES
		Is you is or is you ain't -

	A disgruntled audience member yanks out the microphone plug; 
	Stokes continues to mouth the inaudible words.

	Pappy is considering the crowd.

				PAPPY
		Goddamn! Oppitunity knocks!

	He starts clambering up onto the stage.

	Two men advance through the clapping audience holding high 
	either end of an eight-foot rail. When they reach Stokes, 
	other audience members help load him onto the rail.

	Onstage, Pappy claps along with the audience.

	As they play, the band members fearfully eye Pappy, who 
	advances on them.

	Pappy joyfully shakes his fat ass in time to the music and 
	does a little two-step. The audience roars. The band relaxes, 
	performing with even more gusto.

	Stokes is being through the crowd on the rail, jeered at and 
	pelted with comestibles until he bangs out the exit.

	As the songs rolls into its big finish the audience roars 
	approval, and Pappy elbows in to the microphone, beaming.

				PAPPY
		That's fine, that's fine!...

	He drops one arm around Everett, the other around Delmar.

				PAPPY
		...Ladies'n gentlemens here and 
		listenin' at home, the great state 
		of Mississippi (Pappy O'Daniel, 
		Gov'nor) thanks the Soggy Bottom 
		Boys for that won-a-ful performance!

	Cheers.

				PAPPY
		Now it looks like the only man in 
		our great state who ain't a music 
		luvva, is my esteemed opponent in 
		the upcomin', Homer Stokes -

	Boos.

				PAPPY
		Yeah, well, they ain't no accountin' 
		f'taste. It sounded t'me like he 
		harbored some kind a hateful grudge 
		against the Soggy Bottom Boys on 
		account a their rough'n rowdy past.

	Boos.

				PAPPY
		Sounds like Homer Stokes is the kinda 
		fella gonna cast the first stone!

	Boos.

				PAPPY
		Well I'm with you folks. I'm a f'give 
		and f'get Christian. And I say, well, 
		if their rambunctiousness and 
		misdemeanorin' is behind 'em - It 
		is, ain't it, boys?

	Everett hesitates, not sure where this is going.

				EVERETT
		Sure is, Governor.

				PAPPY
		Why then I say, by the par vested in 
		me, these boys is hereby pardoned!

	Loud cheers prod Pappy to another level of inspiration:

				PAPPY
		And furthermore, in the second Pappy 
		O'Daniel administration, why, these 
		boys - is gonna be my brain trust!

	Raucous cheers.

	The band beams, but Delmar leans into Everett, worried:

				DELMAR
		What sat mean exactly, Everett?

				EVERETT
		Well, you'n me'n Pete'n Tommy are 
		gonna be the power behind the throne 
		so to speak.

				DELMAR
		Oh, okay.

				PAPPY
		So now, without further ado, and by 
		way of endorsin' my candidacy, the 
		Soggy Bottom Boys is gonna lead us 
		all in a chorus of 'You Are My 
		Sunshine' - ain't ya, boys?

	He gives Everett a meaningful look, which Everett holds for 
	a considering beat.

				EVERETT
		...Governor - that's one of our 
		favorites!

	Pappy returns a considered appraisal:

				PAPPY
		Son, you gonna go far.

	The song begins.

	LATER

	The steps of the meeting hall. People stream out of the 
	concert into the warm summer night.

	Everett, now relieved of his beard, is walking down the steps 
	with Penny.

				EVERETT
		I guess Vernon T. Waldrip is gonna 
		be goin' on relief. Maybe I'll be 
		able to throw a little patronage his 
		way, get the man a job diggin' ditches 
		or rounding up stray dogs.

				DELMAR
		Is the marriage off then, Miz Wharvey?

				PENNY
		McGill. No, the marriage'll take 
		place as planned.

				EVERETT
		Just a little change of cast. Me and 
		the little lady are gonna pick up 
		the pieces'n retie the knot, 
		mixaphorically speakin'. You boys're 
		invited, of course. Hell, you're 
		best men! Already got the rings.

	He raises Penny's left hand with his own to display their 
	wedding bands - but Penny's finger is bare.

				EVERETT
		Where's your ring, honey?

				PENNY
		I ain't worn it since our divorce 
		came through. It must still be in 
		the rolltop in the old cabin. Never 
		thought I'd need it; Vernon bought 
		one encrusted with jewels.

				EVERETT
		Hell, now's the time to buy it off 
		him cheap.

				PENNY
		We ain't gettin' married with his 
		ring!  You said you'd changed!

				EVERETT
		Aw, honey, our ring is just a old 
		pewter thing -

				PENNY
		Ain't gonna be no weddin'.

				EVERETT
		It's just a symbol, honey -

				PENNY
		No weddin'.

				DELMAR
		We'll go fetch it with ya, Everett.

				EVERETT
		Honey, it's just - Shutup, Delmar -
		it's just -

				PENNY
		I have spoken my piece and counted 
		to three.

	She walks off.

				EVERETT
		Oh, goddamnit! She counted to three!  
		Sonofabitch! You know how far that 
		cabin is?!

	His attention, and everyone else's, is drawn by a procession 
	on the street below. A crowd carrying torches jogs behind a 
	man in clanking leg irons and wrist manacles who is being 
	escorted by four policemen trotting alongside, their 
	nightsticks held across their chests in riot-ready formation.

	Everett and the rest of the Soggy Bottom Boys descend the 
	last couple of steps to meet the oncoming criminal. Delmar 
	cries out:

				DELMAR
		George!

	It is indeed George Nelson, grinning and game despite his 
	heavy restraints.

				GEORGE
		'Lo, boys! Well, these little men 
		finally caught up with the criminal 
		a the century! Looks like the chair 
		for George Nelson. Yup! Gonna 
		electrify me!  I'm gonna go off like 
		a Roman candle!  Twenty thousand 
		volts chasin' the rabbit through 
		yours truly! Gonna shoot sparks out 
		the top of my head and lightning 
		from my fingertips!

	As he passes he turns to call back over his shoulder:

				GEORGE
		Yessir! Gonna suck all the power 
		right outa the state! Goddamn, boys, 
		I'm on top of the world! I'M GEORGE 
		NELSON AND I'M FEELIN' TEN FEET TALL!

	Delmar, smiling, shakes his head as he watches him go.

				DELMAR
		Looks like George is right back on 
		top again.

	BLACK

	In the black we hear snuffling, growing louder, closer, 
	slobberier.

	A crack of light. We are inside a cupboard. Its door is being 
	nosed open by an eagerly sniffing snout.

	As the door swings wide the inside of the cupboard is washed 
	with light. It contains, next to a tangled bunch of hairnets, 
	several neatly stacked tins of Dapper Dan pomade.

	PINEY WOODS

	Everett, Pete, Delmar and Tommy are walking through the woods.

				EVERETT
		Well, at least you boys'll get to 
		see the old manse - the home where I 
		spent so many happy days in the bosom 
		of my family - a refugium, if you 
		will - with a mighty oak tree out 
		front and a happy little tire swing...

	They emerge into a clearing. The cabin stands before them. 
	It is indeed a peaceful-looking haven with a mighty oak tree 
	in front. There is, however, no tire swing; instead, three 
	nooses hang from one stout limb.

				DELMAR
		Where's the happy little tire swing?

	Two shotgun-wielding goons fall in behind the four men and 
	push them forward.

	Moving forward reveals, next to the oak tree, three fresh-
	dug graves. Standing at the far lip of each grave is a rough 
	pine coffin.

	The sheriff with mirrored sunglasses, Cooley, steps off the 
	porch, the drooling hound at his heels.

				COOLEY
		End of the road, boys. It's had its 
		twists and turns -

				EVERETT
		Waitaminute -

				COOLEY
		- but now it deposits you here.

	The goons are shoving them toward the tree. Three 
	gravediggers, having just finished their work, emerge from 
	the three graves. They are shirtless black men with bandannas 
	round their necks.

				EVERETT
		Waitaminute -

				COOLEY
		You have eluded fate - and eluded me - 
		for the last time. Tie their hands, 
		boys.

				EVERETT
		You can't do this -

				COOLEY
		Didn't know you'd be bringin' a 
		friend.  Well, he'll have to wait 
		his turn -

				EVERETT
		Hang on there -

				COOLEY
		- and share one of your graves.

				EVERETT
		You can't do this - we just been 
		pardoned!  By the Governer himself!

				DELMAR
		It went out over the radio!

				COOLEY
		Is that right?

	The leering goons, who have been lashing the men's wrists 
	behind their backs, pause, their sadism stymied. They look 
	to Cooley for guidance.

	So too does the drooling hound.

	Silence.

	Finally:

				COOLEY
		...Too bad we don't have a radio.

	The goons recover their leering grins and resume their happy 
	task.

	The gravediggers stand next to the graves, leaning on their 
	shovels. They begin to sing a slow and dirgelike 'You've Got 
	to Walk That Lonesome Valley'. Sweat glistens on them and 
	trickles down their faces like tears.

				PETE
		God have Mercy!

				TOMMY
		It ain't fittin'!

				EVERETT
		It ain't the law!

				COOLEY
		The law. Well the law is a human 
		institution.

	Cooley gives the faintest smile.

				COOLEY
		Perhaps you should take a moment for 
		your prayers.

				PETE
		Oh my God! Everett!

				DELMAR
		I'm sorry we got you into this, Tommy.

				PETE
		Good Lord, what do we do?

	Pete is in tears. Tommy is terrified. Delmar bows his head 
	to silently pray.

	Everett bows his head as well. He murmurs:

				EVERETT
		Oh Lord, please look down and 
		recognize us poor sinners... please 
		Lord...

	The singing of the gravediggers begins a mournful swell.

				EVERETT
		...I just want to see my daughters 
		again.  Oh Lord, I've been separated 
		from my family for so long...

	The mournfully building song is now supported by a bass more 
	palpable than audible - the song, it seems, rising out of 
	the earth itself.

				EVERETT
		...I know I've been guilty of pride 
		and sharp dealing. I'm sorry that I 
		turned my back on you, Lord. Please 
		forgive me, and help us, Lord, and I 
		swear I'll mend my ways... For the 
		sake of my family... For Tommy's 
		sake, and Delmar's, and Pete's...

	The rumble is building.

				EVERETT
		...Let me see my daughters again. 
		Please, Lord, help us... Please help 
		us...

	The rumble erupts into a deafening roar.

	A wall of water is crashing through the hollow.

	It engulfs everything and everybody. The cabin itself is 
	ripped away; the Soggy Bottom Boys are knocked off their 
	feet and all is noise and confusion.

	UNDERWATER

	A silent world. Everett tumbles in the current in natural 
	slow motion.

	Suspended around him are scores of tins of Dapper Dan pomade.

	Other objects spin slowly by; framed sepia-tinted family 
	portraits, tree limbs, a fishing pole, an outhouse door, a 
	frying pan, a noose, an old banjo, the wild-eyed frantically 
	paddling bloodhound, a tire with a rope tied around it.

	FURTHER DOWNHILL

	The churning torrent opens into a lowland to become a newly 
	created river, fast-moving but no longer violent.

	After a beat of hold on the rippling waters, the surface is 
	broken by the up-bob of a pine coffin.

	The coffin floats downstream for a beat and then Everett 
	pops out of the water next to it, gasping for air, shaking 
	his head clear of water, and moving his shoulders to finish 
	freeing himself from the rope round his wrists.

	Pete and Delmar emerge nearby, gasping for air.

	The men hang onto the coffin, which bears them downstream. 
	Dazed, they look around.

	The inundated valley shows only the occasional roof- or 
	treetop poking out of the newly formed river. All is quiet 
	except for the gurgle of water.

				DELMAR
		A miracle! It was a miracle!

				EVERETT
		Aw, don't be ignorant, Delmar. I 
		told you they was gonna flood this 
		valley.

				DELMAR
		That ain't it!

				PETE
		We prayed to God and he pitied us!

				EVERETT
		It just never fails; once again you 
		two hayseeds are showin' how much 
		you want for innalect. There's a 
		perfectly scientific explanation for 
		what just happened -

				PETE
		That ain't the tune you were singin' 
		back there at the gallows!

				EVERETT
		Well any human being will cast about 
		in a moment of stress. No, the fact 
		is, they're flooding this valley so 
		they can hydro-electric up the whole 
		durned state...

	Everett waxes smug:

				EVERETT
		Yessir, the South is gonna change.  
		Everything's gonna be put on 
		electricity and run on a payin' basis. 
		Out with the old spiritual mumbo-
		jumbo, the superstitions and the 
		backward ways. We're gonna see a 
		brave new world where they run 
		everyone a wire and hook us all up 
		to a grid. Yessir, a veritable age 
		of reason - like the one they had in 
		France - and not a moment too soon...

	His voice trails off as he notices something.

	A cottonhouse in the middle of the river is submerged to its 
	eaves. A cow has taken refuge on its roof. It stands staring 
	at Everett, who returns the stare.

	He shakes off the vision and clears his throat.

				EVERETT
		Not a moment too soon. Say, there's 
		Tommy!

	Tommy has indeed just surfaced downstream, clinging to a 
	half-submerged piece of furniture.

				EVERETT
		What you ridin' there, Tommy?

	The furniture beneath him begins to rotate in the current 
	and, to keep his head above water, Tommy climbs in place 
	like a hamster on a wheel. As the chest exposes its ribbed 
	upper half:

				TOMMY
		Rolltop desk...

	STREET

	Everett and Penny walk arm in arm, the seven Wharvey gals 
	behind. The girls sing 'Angel Band' as the grown-ups talk.

				EVERETT
		All's well that ends well, as the 
		poet says.

				PENNY
		That's right, honey.

				EVERETT
		But I don't mind telling you, I'm 
		awful pleased my adventuring days is 
		at an end...

	He fumbles in his pocket.

				EVERETT
		...Time for this old boy to enjoy 
		some repose.

				PENNY
		That's good, honey.

				EVERETT
		And you were right about that ring. 
		Any other weddin' band would not do. 
		But this-here was foreordained, honey; 
		fate was a-smilin' on me, and ya 
		have to have confidence -

	He is slipping it onto her hand.

				PENNY
		That's not my ring.

				EVERETT
		- in the gods - Huh?

				PENNY
		That's not my ring.

				EVERETT
		Not your...

				PENNY
		That's one of Aunt Hurlene's.

				EVERETT
		You said it was in the rolltop desk!

				PENNY
		I said I thought it was in the rolltop 
		desk.

				EVERETT
		You said -

				PENNY
		Or, it might a been under the 
		mattress.

				EVERETT
		You -

				PENNY
		Or in my chiffonier. I don't know.

	Everett shakes his head.

				EVERETT
		Well, I'm sorry honey -

				PENNY
		Well, we need that ring.

				EVERETT
		Well now honey, that ring is at the 
		bottom of a pretty durned big lake.

				PENNY
		Uh-huh.

				EVERETT
		A 9,000-hectacre lake, honey.

				PENNY
		I don't care if it's ninety thousand.

				EVERETT
		Yes, but honey -

				PENNY
		That wasn't my doing...

	Indignation quickens her pace. Everett keeps up, and the two 
	are pulling forward out of frame.

				EVERETT
		Course not, honey, but...

	We are now on the Wharvey gals who follow in a ragged bunch, 
	still singing. From somewhere distant, through the song, we 
	can just hear a rhythmic clack of metal on metal.

	The second-to-last girl is the oldest; she holds a piece of 
	string along which we travel, still listening to Penny and 
	Everett, off:

				PENNY
		I counted to three, honey.

				EVERETT
		Well sure, honey, but...

	We reach the end of the piece of string; it is wrapped around 
	the waist of the toddler, who lingers in frame. She gazes 
	down a quiet street at the edge of town that ends in an open 
	field.

				EVERETT
		...finding one little ring in the 
		middle of all that water...

	His voice, and that of the singing girls, recedes.

				EVERETT
		...that is one hell of a heroic 
		task...

	The string is given a tug and the little girl waddles out of 
	frame.

	A train track is thus revealed in the distance. The rhythmic 
	clack is from the hand-pumped flatcar.

	The blind seer pumps the car along the distant track, singing 
	harmony under the Wharvey gals' receding voices.

	THE END



O Brother Where Art Thou?



Writers :   Joel Coen  Ethan Coen
Genres :   Adventure  Comedy  Crime


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