WATER FOR ELEPHANTS
APRIL 16, 2009
EXT. MODERN CIRCUS GROUNDS - PRESENT DAY - NIGHT
An upstate New York town. A CIRCUS is being dismantled...The
Big Top falls and is gathered up by workmen...Trucks are
being loaded with animals.
EXT. PARKING LOT - CIRCUS GROUNDS - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
AN ELDERLY MAN , JACOB JANKOWSKI - 93 year old - stands
alone, with a walker in the middle of the empty parking lot.
His shirt is stained with sweat - as if it took great effort
for him to get there. As he watches the Circus disappear,
Jacob looks lost, bewildered and fragile.
CHARLIE, 50's circus manager, and RUSS, a tattooed teen with
rings through his eyebrows, approach him with a wheelchair.
Excuse me sir, can we help you?
(No reply from Jacob)
Did you miss your ride?
I missed the Spec.
Yes, I'm afraid you did. Can we
call someone for you?
Where'd it all go?
He's seriously old.
Did you come with the folks from
the retirement home?
No, I came on my own.
Let's go inside and we can call
them to pick you up.
Charlie motions for Russ to get Jacob in the wheelchair.
No, I told ya, I came on my own and
I'm not going back. Get your hands
(as if talking to a child)
It's OK. We're gonna call the home
so they can come pick you up.
Why don't you pick some of those
rings out ya head maybe you won't
be so stupid, ya dumb little shit.
Woah! The language. Uncalled for.
Sir, we need to get you out of this
parking lot. My trucks have to come
through here. Please...
He offers the wheelchair. Jacob relents and sits.
I got it Russ. Take the walker.
Finish closing up the ticket booth.
Russ takes the walker and exits as Charlie wheels Jacob.
In my day, they had old timers in
the ticket wicket and freaks like
him in the sideshow. Damn kid
didn't even know what the Spec was.
You sound like you know circuses.
Charlie checks his watch, impatient to get Jacob home.
I should. I was on two.
(Calling OS to Trucks)
Malcolm, tell them to come through!
(Patronizing, to Jacob)
Two circuses. Wow, that's
Ringling, of course, but that was
I'll need your name when I call the
...First one was called Benzini
Brothers Most Spectacular Show ...
Charlie suddenly stops upon hearing that name.
What?...Wait a minute! Did you say
you were with the Benzini Brothers?
"31?...You're saying you were there
I was in the middle of it.
I don't believe this. After the
Hartford Fire and the Hagenback-
Wallace Wreck, that's the most
famous circus disaster of all time.
I remember it like yesterday...
Better - cause I don't remember
Charlie O'Brien the third.
Jacob Jankowski the only.
Mr. Jankowski, I would be honored
if you would have a drink with me
in my trailer.
INT. CHARLIE'S TRAILER -CIRCUS GROUNDS - TWILIGHT
A bottle of expensive, Laphroaig scotch sits on the table.
Charlie pours them each a shot. Jacobs drinks. It feels good.
(to the Scotch)
Ah, I remember you...Camel would've
loved this stuff.
Camels drink scotch?
Jacob laughs, shaking his head No. Charlie pours another;
You really got here on you're own?
The Great Escape! But I got lost.
I should call the home, let them
know where you are.
I don't know why they call it a
"home". You don't know anybody
there. They fill you so full of
drugs, you don't care...Five kids
and not one has a place for me
since their mother died. They take
turns visiting me on weekends. They
forgot whose turn it was today so
nobody showed up..
I had a life, ya know. A big
life...It isn't right.
Charlie empathizes. Pours another. Changes the subject.
So, how did the Benzini Brothers
stampede start? The story is two
guys got thrown off the train and--
No point in telling a story if all
you want to know is the end.
Sorry. From the beginning.
Now, let's see...the beginning...
Well, everything began the same day
everything ended...Ha, isn't that
how it always works?...
INT. JANKOWSKI HOUSE - JACOB'S BATHROOM - 1931 - MORNING
A mirrored medicine cabinet closes revealing the reflection
of JACOB JANKOWSKI - 23 years old, handsome, full of energy.
It was a big day. My final exams.
INT. JANKOWSKI HOUSE - CONTINUOUS - MORNING
Jacob bounds down the stairs and into the kitchen.
JACOB'S MOTHER AND FATHER are finishing up breakfast. The
Father tunes a Philco Radio while smoking a pipe...The Mother
pours coffee wearing a cardigan sweater and pearls.
Late for class, Jacob grabs a piece of bread and bacon and
downs a coffee as his mother sweetly scolds him in POLISH...
His father says something supportive in POLISH as well. Jacob
thanks him in POLISH. He kisses his mother and exits.
EXT. JANKOWSKI HOUSE - ITHACA NY - 1931 - MORNING
A simple, clapboard house in a middle class neighborhood.
Jacob runs out, passing his father's sign on the front lawn:
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
EXT. CORNELL UNIVERSITY CAMPUS - 1931 - ITHACA, NY - DAY.
The beautiful campus of Cornell University. Jacob runs.
After six years of dissections,
castrations, foalings and shoving
my arm up a cow's ass more times
than I cared to remember, I was
finally going to graduate Cornell
in Veterinary Science. I was summa
cum laude...ha,ha and the oldest
male virgin on campus.
INT. CORNELL UNIVERSITY LECTURE HALL, 1931 - ITHACA, NY - DAY
Jacob sits beside a beautiful Blonde who distracts him with
her legs. She notices him staring, crosses her legs and
smooths her skirt.
VETERINARY SCIENCES FINAL EXAMS is written on the board of a
Lecture Hall. The Proctor announces from his desk.
You may begin.
Jacob, the Blonde and fifty other students open their exam
booklets and begin under The PROCTOR's supervision.
I had my whole life planned. I knew
exactly where it was taking me...
And then, with the opening of a
door, it all vanished.
The Lecture Hall door opens and DEAN WILKINS enters. The Dean
walks to the Proctor and they confer privately. Then:
Mr. Jankowski? May we have a word?
Fifty pairs of eyes turn to look at Jacob, who looks up.
EXT. LECTURE HALL - CONTINUOUS - DAY
Jacob steps outside with Dean Wilkins.
Jacob, it's your parents. I'm
afraid there's been a car accident.
INT. BASEMENT HALLWAY - ITHACA HOSPITAL - NIGHT
Jacob walks down a dimly lit hall with a Police Chief and a
Chaplain to the Morgue led by a Nurse. We follow them inside.
INT. CORONER'S MORGUE - ITHACA HOSPITAL - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
The room is windowless and bare except for TWO GURNEYS, each
with a sheet-covered body. A CORONER stands between them.
Jacob sees a steel table upon which lay his parents
belongings; wedding rings, pearl necklace, his father's pipe.
Are you ready?
The Chaplain places a comforting hand on Jacob's shoulder.
Jacob nods. The Coroner exposes first Jacob's father, then
Jacob's mother. We see only Jacob's expression:
Is there any other family to call?
No. Just me.
INT. EDMUND HYDE LAW OFFICES - DAY
Jacob, in a black suit. Mr. Hyde is seated opposite him.
I know this is difficult for you,
but there's been no mistake. The
house and all their assets,
including your father's practise,
are now property of the bank in
default of the mortgage.
But I'm telling you, my father put
away every penny he ever earned.
They owned that house outright. Why
would he have a mortgage?
My guess is because he let people
pay him in beans & eggs or whatever
they had, instead of money.
And so he's penalized for not
turning away people who couldn't
afford his help? He was a doctor.
Yes, I know, he was a very good man
but in banking terms, in the
reality of what makes this world
actually function, he was an
irresponsible man. I'm sorry, but
you oughta to know the truth. This
Depression is going to last for a
..And the only ones who will be
standing at the end of it, are the
ones who fight to take what they
need to survive. Everyone else is
going to disappear. Don't make the
same mistakes as your father.
Jacob is disturbed by this description of his father.
EXT. RESIDENTIAL STREET - OUTSIDE ITHACA, NY - DAY
Jacob in his black suit walking home..looks up ahead to see:
EXT. JANKOWSKI HOUSE - CONTINUOUS - DAY
All the family possessions are on the lawn being scoured over
by strangers: father's Philco radio, mother's jewelry...A
foreclosure sign hangs beside his father's business sign:
Things happened so fast, my head
was spinning. And that mortgage...I
just couldn't figure it out.
A DELIVERY TRUCK pulls up at the curb. It is met by A BANK
REPRESENTATIVE, who receives a package and carries it to
Jacob, meeting him halfway.
This just came for you, Jacob.
Whatever it is I'm going to have to
include in the bank's report of
assets. Sorry. You OK?
I also have documents to sign..
The Bank Representative continues MOS as Jacob opens the
I didn't believe the lawyer or the
bank. My mother worked. They had
savings. We were never broke. So
why would they need a mortgage?
And then it hit me...
Jacob opens the package revealing a BRAND NEW SIGN, reading;
E. JANKOWSKI AND SON
DOCTORS OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
They did it to pay for my Ivy
For a moment Jacob can't move. This thought stuns him. With
his house being picked apart and the Bank Representative
speaking about papers, Jacob can't take it any longer. He
drops the sign and walks away. The Bank Rep calls after him:
Jacob? Jacob they need these signed
by the end of the business day.
Jacob walks away from the Bank Rep, pulling off his tie and
tossing it. He is crying - the reality finally hitting him.
I walked and I kept on walking...
It's a strange feeling becoming an
orphan the same time you're
becoming a man...To have this
freedom to be anything you want at
the same time everything you were
is taken away. So I just walked
...Then all of a sudden, I stopped.
EXT. A CLEARING NEAR A STREAM - OUTSKIRTS OF ITHACA - NIGHT
Jacob stands with his feet in a clear stream. He is no longer
crying. There are dense woods, pitch black, all around him.
Like I'd been sleepwalking and I
woke up. I had no idea where I was.
Jacob can hear the buzz of insects, the glow of fireflies and
the cries of distant animals in the woods. It unnerves him.
Far off beyond the dense woods Jacob sees A MOVING FLICKERING
LIGHT - like a distant, silent star moving past the trees.
The Light is moving around the woods until it curves towards
Jacob's direction. He hears a distant CLANK-CLANK...
Curious, Jacob puts his shoes on and walks back to a gravel
path that leads to TRAIN TRACKS just as:
THE MASSIVE TRAIN ENGINE EXPLODES INTO VIEW PASSING HIM.
Jacob is so close, he is hit by a wall of wind that nearly
knocks him down. It is dark and the train is moving fast.
JACOB (V.O.) (CONT'D)
What is it inside of us makes us
decide to grab onto life again and
again, no matter how many times it
abandons us without a second
thought?...What is it makes us
hungry for more of the same?
Somebody smart should figure that
Jacob makes his decision: He runs parallel to the
train...stumbling over gravel, pitching forward and losing
his balance, recovering, then running faster, scanning for
something to grab hold of to hoist himself up. He sees:
AN OPEN STOCK CAR IS THREE CARS BEHIND HIM...As it catches up
to him, he lunges forward, reaching for the iron grab hold
and flings himself upward. He clings on with his left leg,
elbow and chin. His right hand clings to the grab hold. With
his left hand, he claws the floorboards of the stock car, but
the aged wood scraps off under his fingers. His right leg is
dangling, beneath the train itself, dangerously close to the
tracks. Jacob is slipping...slipping...
With everything he's got, Jacob makes one final "life or
death" effort, managing to get his left knee up over the
edge. Using foot, knee, chin, elbow and fingernails, he
scrapes his way inside the stock car and lies panting...
INT. STOCK CAR - EN ROUTE - NIGHT
A dim light barely illuminates the interior. Jacob breaths a
brief sigh of relief and accomplishment when suddenly: A HUGE
HAND CONNECTED TO A EVEN LARGER ARM COMES OUT OF THE
DARKNESS, GRABBING JACOB BY HIS COLLAR, HOISTING HIM UP.
Jacob swings at this Brute with his free arm but it's blocked
easily, as the Brute moves him to the open car door.
OLD TIMER (O.S.)
Oh, don't go messin with Blackie.
Throwing people off of trains is
one of the perks of his job.
Jacob can now see THREE MEN playing cards by a kerosene lamp.
ONE MAN HAS A RIFLE, aimed at Jacob. Another, A SHRUNKEN,
STUBBLE FACED OLD TIMER, drinks out of a jug...
Blackie holds Jacob out on the edge of the open stock car, as
trees slam against the train almost cutting Jacob's face.
We don't need no bums on this train
brother. You can get off right now
and keep running.
Old Timer rises with a lantern and hobbles on one bad leg,
inspects Jacob and his nice suit with the lantern...
Now everybody calm down here. Grady
put that damn rifle away. BLACKIE
LET'IM GO...And I mean on the
inside of the train!
Jacob struggles as Blackie pins one arm behind him.
OLD TIMER (CONT'D)
I'm tellin ya, ya can't red light
him, we don't need that trouble.
Look at them clothes - he's no bum.
Blackie scans Jacob's clothes, then tosses him inside the
train and returns to the card game. Jacob pants, relieved.
OLD TIMER (CONT'D)
Don't be sore kid. It's more like a
reflex with Blackie. I'm Camel..And
that there's Grady. And Bill.
Jacob. Jankowski. Nice to meet you.
You're pretty young for the rails.
You running from something boy? You
on the lam?
No. Nothing like that.
Where you headed?
I don't know.
Hungry? Outta work?
No shame in it. What can you do?
About anything I guess.
Camel gives him the once-over look then offers the jug.
We land in Deposit in the morning.
We'll find you some work. And if
you're still alive by the end of
it, I'll get you some food and take
you to Uncle August.
Jacob drinks and chokes on the liquor.
August Rosenbluth...Lord and Master
of the Known and Unknown Universes.
Jacob looks baffled. Camel laughs as he drinks more;
Oh kid, don't tell me you didn't
Grady and Bill laugh though Blackie remains un-amused.
Ha, he really don't know.
HA! You didn't just jump a train
boy. You jumped the Flying Squadron
of the Benzini Brothers Most
Spectacular Show on Earth...
You done landed your ass on a
PRE-LAP: The Circus Train brakes screeching to a halt!
INT. STOCK CAR - DEPOSIT, NY - DAWN.
Jacob is rolled awake as the train stops. He is disoriented
as Blackie, Grady and Bill jump out through the open stock
car door. Camel is fast asleep, drunk from the jug.
EXT. CIRCUS TRAIN/CIRCUS GROUNDS - DEPOSIT, NY - DAWN.
The Train has stopped adjacent to a huge grassy lot. Beyond
it, the scattered buildings of Deposit, NY backlit by dawn.
Jacob jumps out of the stock car, in awe of what he sees::
Hundreds of dirty, unshaven men pouring out of the train
like ants on candy. The wagons of the train are painted
scarlet red with gold trim and sunburst wheels. Emblazoned on
each wagon; BENZINI BROTHERS MOST SPECTACULAR SHOW ON EARTH.
Jacob wanders as the Circus is being created: Canvas tents
are raised, the Big Top laying sprawled on the ground. Men
standing over seams, lacing pieces together...Eight man
sledge teams pound stakes into the ground at breakneck
speed....Teams of men are raising enormous poles with their
combined weight, chanting: Pull it! Shake it! Break it!
Again!...Now down stake it!...Several teams horses pulling
wagons are charging right for Jacob..
Jacob jumps out of the way, nearly being run down. He is out
of place...in the way of this finely tuned machine.
Jacob ducks into a LARGE TENT for safety.
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - CONTINUOUS - MORNING
Jacob enters. A stillness takes the place of the chaos
outside: The translucent tent is as tall as the sky. It has
barely been set up - just the tent and:
Jacob is in awe. Camels, llamas, zebras and horses stand
behind low ropes slung between iron stakes, some with their
heads in mounds of hay.....Two giraffes stand within a chain-
link fence....lions, tigers, panthers, jaguars, bears, chimps
and an Orangutan.
The animals stop moving, as if to give Jacob an
acknowledgement. Jacob responds with a nod or a smile.
The Orangutan is stretching it's arm outside it's den for
something out of reach. Jacob tries to understand.
What is it? What do you want?
The Orangutan strains its arm. Blinking at him. Pointing.
Jacob looks around and sees A HALF SQUASHED ORANGE on the
ground in front of the cage. He picks it up.
Jacob opens the den and hands the Orangutan the orange. She
takes it and sets it on the floor of her den. She returns and
reaches out for Jacob again.
Jacob hesitates, not knowing what she wants. But deciding to
trust her, Jacob extends his hand to hers.
The Orangutan wraps her long fingers around Jacob's hand and
holds it for a beat, looking to his face. Jacob returns the
gaze, realizing she is thanking him. He is touched.
You're welcome, ma'am.
The Orangutan lets go and returns to the orange in her den.
What the hell you doing in here?
Get outta there!! You ain't a
menagerie man. Only menagerie men
is allowed in there.
Jacob runs out to Camel.
EXT. MENAGERIE TENT - CONTINUOUS - MORNING
Camel escorts Jacob through the grounds to a baggage car.
Gonna try to get you set up with
Do I call him Crazy Joe?
It has been said Crazy Joe went to
prison for killing a man who spit
into the wind and hit the back of
Joe's neck. So no, I would not call
this man Crazy Joe to his face.
Camel and Jacob walks on to an open stock car door, where
CRAZY JOE stands - a burly man, missing three fingers.
Hey Joe! I got a First of May here.
Think you can use him?
Crazy Joe scans Jacob, shoots an oyster of dark brown tobacco
juice then disappears back inside. Camel tells Jacob;
You're in, kid.
INT/EXT. BAGGAGE STOCK CAR - DEPOSIT, NY - MORNING
Jacob and another Young Man, WADE, with their shirts off, are
shovelling tons of horse manure. Jacob is queasy, blinking
from the stench. The Young Man doesn't seem bothered.
I've never seen so much manure!
Baggage stock horses. They pack'em
in 27 a car.
How do you stand the smell?
EXT. CIRCUS GROUNDS - DEPOSIT, NY - MORNING
Jacob and several other Flying Squadron men struggle to pull
on cables hoisting up the canvases on the Big Top. It takes a
tremendous effort. Jacob uses every bit of strength.
When the Big Top is raised, Jacob can't help but be impressed
with the accomplishment as the local townsfolk (rubes) cheer.
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - DAY
Jacob struggles to shovel LLAMA manure out of the menagerie.
He checks his hands - they are blistered and bleeding.
EXT. SIDESHOW TENTS - MIDWAY - DEPOSIT, NY - AFTERNOON
CECIL, THE BARKER, is "speechifying" from a platform beside
the sideshow entrance, strutting back and forth, as a crowd
gathers... Jacob and other working men, including Wade, are
positioned around the perimeter of the crowd.
When Cecil gives the signal ya
gotta push the rubes in towards the
entrance but without them catching
on or else they'll be a fight.
Jacob, Wade and the other men position themselves equidistant
around the perimeter of the crowd facing Cecil.
When Cecil pulls his ear (the Signal)...Jacob and the other
men move forward, inching the crowd into the sideshow tents.
EXT. MENAGERIE TENT - DAY
Jacob shovels YAK manure more easily having taped his
EXT. BARBARA'S SHOW TENT - DEPOSIT, NY - LATE AFTERNOON.
Grady hands Jacob a long lead pipe.
Stand inside the tent and smack the
sides with this when you see a head
trying to peek in without paying.
Jacob follows Grady into the tent...
INT. BARBARA'S SHOW TENT - CONTINUOUS - LATE AFTERNOON.
Jacob enters and is paralyzed by what he sees:
Camera angles behind BARBARA - a topless woman on stage alone
in front of rows of ogling men - as she maneuvers her breasts
in circles flipping the tassels attached to them...The men
hoot and holler for more as Barbara smiles encouragingly,
hiding her routine boredom.
Jacob is paralyzed by the sight of a naked woman.
Grady frantically motions for Jacob to snap out of it and use
the pipe at the heads sneaking under the tent to peek in...
Startled out of his enthrallment, Jacob lifts the pipe too
quickly and hits his own forehead. OW!..then proceeds to do
his job, banging the heads thru the flaps.
INT. CIRCUS GROUNDS/MENAGERIE TENT - DEPOSIT, NY - TWILIGHT
Jacob shovels ZEBRA manure, no longer affected by the scent.
By this point, the menagerie tent has been fully installed:
Ten chandeliers hang and twinkle from the roof illuminating
the a gloriously bannered candy stand in the tent's center.
Jacob hears someone entering the menagerie. He turns to see;
Behind the rows of beautiful black and white horses, Jacob
catches flashes of pink sequins...pink tights...pink sequined
gloves of a WOMAN caressing and whispering to them.
She is MARLENA. Her shimmering eyes and hair. Her porcelain
skin. Her pink sequins make her glisten and sparkle...
Jacob is spellbound as he watches Marlena's gift with horses;
Marlena uses signals with her whip or clicking sounds with
her tongue to communicate with the horses: they line up at
her subtle command, they raise their hooves, they bow down to
her, rise up on their hind legs...
She clicks her tongue and one White Silver Maned Horse lifts
a hoof for her to inspect. She clicks for him to take a step.
Jacob notices the Silver Maned Horse walks tenderly on the
foot. He decides to help....Approaching the shimmering
Marlena, Jacob looks like he's been shovelling shit all day.
Excuse me, ma'am? Hi. I'm Jacob.
Marlena doesn't respond. She looks at him with suspicion.
May I? He may be foundering.
Marlena nods. Jacob also clicks his tongue as he glides his
hands up Silver Star's fetlock. To Marlena's surprise, the
horse trusts Jacob, lifting its hoof. Jacob examines it.
He should be all right for tonight.
But I'd put him on stall rest as
soon as possible.
He clicks his tongue and eases the hoof down. Marlena looks
both impressed and insulted. Jacob smiles. Marlena does not.
She clicks and assembles her horses in formation, then leads
them out of the menagerie....Jacob looks after her adoringly.
UNCLE AUGUST (V.O.)
LAAADIIIEEESS AND GENTLEMENNNNN!
AND CHILDREN OF ALL AGES.
INT. BIG TOP - DEPOSIT, NY - CONTINUOUS - TWILIGHT
Camera follows Jacob into the Big Top ...
WELCOME TO THE MOST EXTRAVAGANT
EXTRAVAGANCY THE HUMAN EYE CAN
BEHOLD...WELCOME THE STARS OF THE
BENZINI BROTHERS MOST SPECTACULAR
SHOW ON EARTH!!!
Jacob arrives as we reveal:
THE EXTRAORDINARY GRANDEUR OF THE SPEC - EVERY ACT, EVERY
ANIMAL - IN FULL REGALIA, PARADE FOR THE AUDIENCE AS THE BAND
PLAYS. IN THE CENTER RING IS:
Jacob can barely contain himself...The Audience - young and
old - is captivated. Faces of poor Depression era townspeople
light up with joy and amazement;
During Jacob's lines we see; Clowns, jugglers, acrobats,
exotic animals, Marlena with her Horses, high divers on fire
diving into a tank of water...it is truly spectacular:
You never saw anything like it. You
could hardly take it all in without
fearing you might go blind from the
shine. From one kind of world too
hard to bear came some kind a
heaven no one knew existed.
End on Jacob seeing: Marlena gloriously atop her horses who
form a tableau, as a curtain of sparks falls behind them.
EXT. CIRCUS GROUNDS - DEPOSIT, NY - MIDDLE OF NIGHT
The Big Top drops. Poles topple. Horses, men and equipment
dismantle the great city of tents.
And then just as quickly, heaven
was packed away and gone.
INT. PERFORMER'S CAR - TRAIN EN ROUTE - MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
As the train travels, a worn out Jacob sits cramped under a
bunk beside A CONTORTIONIST taking up little space. Jacob
voraciously eats a plate of food Camel snuck in for him.
You like the food? You deserve it.
You done good, I hear..
..Woah, you better take a breath
before it all comes back up on ya.
Here. Have a hit of Jake.
He offers Jacob his "Jake". Jacob drinks and chokes.
It's an acquired taste. Now get
yourself outta there. I'm gonna
take you in to see August.
As Jacob squeezes out, the Contortionist unwinds himself and
takes up more space.
But it's the middle of the night.
Only time circus people live - when
they don't have to work. Come on...
INT. SLEEPING CARS/ PLATFORM - TRAIN - MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
Camel leads Jacob through various sleeping cars, revealing
the lowly conditions of life on the road...wooden bunks, no
private space, one bathroom for a dozen to share.
THROUGHOUT THIS NARRATION WE JUMP CUT INTO VARIOUS CARS:
- The Musicians Car: Men smoking, cleaning
instruments...looking at Jacob with suspicion and wry humor.
The Trumpet Player plays TAPS. Jacob doesn't understand why.
I got a son about your age. Lives
outside of Reading, PA. Haven't
seen him for years. Fix your shirt
Jacob shoves in his shirt. Camel smiles. He likes the kid.
- The Clown Car: Clowns without make-up reading or playing
cards. They look at Jacob as if he were walking the last
mile. One Clown waves goodbye.
Remember, when you meet August let
him do the talking and don't ever
mention Ringling. He hates them
bastards worse than the Depression.
- Barbara and the Coochie Girls Car; Girls in various forms
of undress, negligees, sheer robes. Barbara exits a bathroom
and bumps into Jacob, who fumbles seeing her half-nude;
How's your pipe, kid?
Camel leads the slack-jawed Jacob away.
BARBARA AND GIRLS
INT. PERFORMER STATEROOM CARS - TRAIN EN ROUTE - NIGHT
Slightly more upscale and private quarters with a passenger
aisle outside individual doors and windows.
Hey Camel - who's that woman who
works the horses?
Now stop right there. That's
Marlena. She don't talk to nobody
and you don't talk to her. And
don't mention her to August. Ain't
no right way to talk about
somebody's wife and make it sound
like a compliment.
Camel takes this opportunity to drink some Jake and ask:
Look, kid, before we do this, I
gotta ask... ..I ain't tryin to
know your business but I do know
you ain't been on the road too
long. You're too clean, your
clothes too nice and you don't got
a possession on you. See, a man on
the road collects little things.
It's not a big life I can tell ya.
So before you start, I ask: if you
got any kind of life to go back to,
that's what you should do.
Jacob stops. He tries to not sound emotional when he says:
Camel studies him, as if understanding what isn't said.
I am sorry to hear that.
They move on.
EXT. AUGUST'S PRIVATE CAR PLATFORM - TRAIN EN ROUTE - NIGHT
They reach a platform facing the fanciest car yet. Standing
upon it is an enormous, muscular BALD MAN, EARL...
This here's Earl. He's gonna take
you in. Earl, this here's Jacob.
(shakes hands w/Camel)
I don't know how to thank you.
HA! You may not want to after you
been on a show long as I have. Good
luck to ya, kid.
Camel exits OS. Alone with Earl, Jacob asks:
Do I look OK?
Then, with one hand Earl slides back the door and with the
other hand, violently grabs Jacob by the neck and throws him
head first into the car.
INT. AUGUST'S PRIVATE CAR - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
Jacob falls into Uncle August's opulent private car, with
wood panelling, cushioned furniture and chandeliers.
Sitting at a table playing cards are CECIL the Barker,
DIAMOND JOE (menagerie and ring stock), MR. ERWIN (talent
booker), CRAZY JOE (baggage stock) and, with his back to us
in a high wing back chair, (UNCLE) AUGUST ROSENBLUTH.
Earl shoves him against the wall, dangling him off the floor.
As August speaks to Jacob, all we see is the back of his head
and smoke from his cigar as he plays cards throughout...
That stowaway the old drunk took
under his wing. College boy.
Jacob tries to explain but Earl bangs him against the wall.
(to the game)
I'll see your three and raise you
I don't believe I've had the
Jacob Jankowski, sir.
And what is a "Jacob Jankowski" and
why he is on my train?
Just looking for work, sir.
Can you fly? Set yourself on fire?
Ever worked a show, son?
Ever been to a show?
Jacob, sensing where this is going, gets August's attention;
August stops playing cards. The others react with sudden
apprehension. Earl casually shakes his head to warn Jacob.
August finally rises and turns to Camera: handsome,
charismatic, fiercely intelligent...matinee idol looks that
mask a darker nature.
Ringling, you say?
Yes. But it was terrible.
Really? Have you seen our show?
What was your favorite act?
Jacob sees a CIRCUS POSTER with Marlena and her Horses.
The uh...the one with the black and
white horses. And the girl in pink.
Ah, our Star Attraction. Well, I
believe we're looking for a boy to
carry water for the elephants,
aren't we Diamond Joe?
We don't have an eleph-
I would do that, sir. I'd like to
work with the animals.
August and the others chuckle. Jacob doesn't understand why.
August crosses to Jacob, as he ridicules:
And you'd carry water for
elephants? Ha, ha...you have any
idea how much water an elephant
drinks, kid? College! Pfft! Never
met a college man yet who knew his
own ass from shinola.
You eat my food and you ride my
train like you're entitled to
survive. But you see, nothing
survives here without my
permission...Maybe if you tell me
you're nothing, I'll let you stay,
although my bet is you won't last.
Jacob refuses to let August demean him. He stays silent.
You smell like every kind of shit.
Why would a college boy want that?
Times are hard for everybody...And
I guess because ... out of all the
dirt and sweat and shit and working
with fellas you don't want to be
caught dead meeting in the
daylight, comes...so much beauty.
We think August and the men are moved by Jacob's words.
That's beautifully put.
Toss him off, Earl. And make sure
you see the red light before you
red light him.
As Earl drags Jacob in tow, August derides him to the others;
Another sonny boy mad at mommy and
daddy for paying the bills. Sounds
like he studied poetry.
I got no use for people who rhyme.
(shouts as he is dragged)
It was veterinary science! And I
can tell you one thing - that Star
Attraction horse of yours won't be
walking in a few days let alone
performing center ring!!
August stops and turns.
Earl stops with Jacob. Now all the men are intrigued...
(Earl stops with Jacob)
May I ask what school?
You're a Cornell graduate?
Jacob lies and nods...August wonders whether to trust Jacob.
Marlena did want a vet to take a
look at Silver Star. They cost.
He worked the rubes for me this
afternoon. Pretty good.
He shovelled horse shit. Don't make
him a horse doctor.
August looks reluctant. Until Jacob caps it:
I hear Ringling has its own vet.
The other men can't believe Jacob spoke up like this. But it
amuses August, who faces him and smiles;
All right, Cornell. Come with me.
August leads Jacob out.
EXT. PLATFORM - TRAIN EN ROUTE - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
August and Jacob exit onto the platform.
Are you sure-footed, Jacob
I believe so.
Without missing a beat, August leans forward, catches hold of
something around the side of the car and disappears.
The train jerks a curve. Jacob almost falls.
COME ON THEN!
Jacob looks up to see:
August is on the roof of the train: his face moonlit, his
hair blowing wildly in the wind...He points downward.
Jacob, none too pleased, advances to the edge of the platform
as the train speeds by, and looks where August is pointing;
He can see the edge of a thin iron ladder. He wipes his hands
on his thighs. Focuses. Then leaps...
Jacob's right hand meets the ladder. His left grasps wildly
until it ensnares the other side. His feet jam into the
rungs. Jacob climbs to the roof.
EXT. ROOF OF TRAIN - TRAIN EN ROUTE - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
August gives Jacob a hand up and they sit cross legged.
POV; THE LENGTH OF THE TRAIN AHEAD OF THEM STRETCHES LIKE A
GIANT SNAKE MOVING IN THE NIGHT, BENDING ROUND A CURVE.
It's a breath taking sight, isn't
it? Always gets me.
I can't get a new Liberty Horse mid-
season. So you make sure this horse
performs and the job's yours. Nine
bucks a week. If you cross me, I'll
feed you to my meat eaters and
there won't be a trace left of
Jacob hangs on every word. August smiles;
You do right by me, Jacob
Jankowski...I'll show you what it's
like to travel every inch of this
country, every inch of this world,
and be welcomed home in every
street, be loved in every
town...I'll give you a life most
suckers can't dream of.
Jacob is mesmerized by August. August stands and tap dances
across the roofs. Jacob has no choice but to follow...
The two men dance and leap atop the train from car to car
across the moving train...Jacob grows increasingly confident
and euphoric following August's exultant lead.
INT. RING STOCK CAR - TRAIN EN ROUTE - NIGHT
August drops into the Ring Stock Car followed by Jacob. On
one side is a line of Marlena's Black and White Show Horses.
The other side, there is a makeshift door.
August kicks through the door, revealing a small room;
INT. KINKO'S ROOM - TRAIN EN ROUTE - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
This makeshift room is lit by a kerosene lamp on a crate next
to a cot, propped up by a wall of trunks.
A DWARF "KINKO" (WALTER) is reading on his cot. He has red
hair. He and August greet each other with polite disgust...
This is Jacob. He's going to bunk
with you a while.
How do you do?
What is he?
I said his name is Jacob.
I asked what, not who.
He's going to help out in the
A menagerie man? Performers don't
bunk with working men.
There's a growl from his loyal Russell terrier, QUEENIE.
Well there are performers..
(his hand indicates high
And then there are performers..
(his hand indicates lower
Considering we used to keep the
goats in here, I'm sure Marlena's
horses out there object to now
sharing their quarters with you. Of
course I can always change that and
send you back to a bottom bunk with
the other kinkers who sorely miss
your sunny personality and
(Kinko knows this threat)
This gentleman is the show's new
veterinarian - Ivy League no less -
which puts him a good deal higher
than you in my estimation. Perhaps
you'd like to offer him your cot.
As the kerosene lamp light flickers in August's face, Kinko
knows he has no choice. August smiles and turns to leave.
I'll find you in the morning. Sleep
August exits....Jacob is left staring at resentful Kinko and
Queenie, who snarls at him. Jacob tries to be friendly:
A Jack Russell. They're very smart.
Queenie jumps at Jacob, growling, hunch backed. Jacob is
pressed against the wall. Kinko returns to his book.
KINKO (WALTER) (CONT'D)
You're not getting the cot.
EXT. CIRCUS GROUNDS - LIBERTY, NY - DAWN.
Jacob is washing himself with dirty water out of a bucket
beside Camel. Camel starts hitting his leg. He laughs:
Ha, this gam of mine keeps falling
asleep on me. Pretty soon the only
place for me is going to be selling
tickets but I'm too ugly for that.
Camel straightens up when August appears, clearly on his
guard. He turns his back to continue washing.
We can do better than this for our
new vet. I'll arrange for you to
start getting your own water bucket
like the performers and bosses. Two
buckets per person. Come...
August walks away as Jacob hurries to follow...
See ya Camel.
(sips his Jake)
Yeah, take care kid.
INT PERFORMER'S TENT - LIBERTY, NY - CONTINUOUS - TWILIGHT
August and Jacob enter a more upscale tent where male
performers are washing from personal buckets of water.
You'll need new clothes too. I'll
set you up with the Monday Man.
What day of the week did your
mother hang out the wash to dry?
He takes other people's clothes?
It's the Depression, Cornell. Where
have you been? Oh right - Cornell.
Kinko is bathing with his two buckets when August snatches
one of them away.
Here, use Kinko's second bucket for
You barely use up one.
Kinko fumes. Jacob tries to placate.
August, it's all right, I'll--
If you need a razor, there are some
back there with my name on them.
August walks away. Jacob follows August away from Kinko.
When August stops, Jacob is caught off guard...
It's good to have an educated man
like you around. I need one other
sane individual in this operation.
Thank you for everything, August.
August pats his back and exits. Jacob heads for the bucket.
August wants Jacob to follow him to the horse. Jacob thought
he was going to bathe.
Oh! Yes...The horse.
Jacob follows behind August's commanding stride.
EXT. RING STOCK CAR - LIBERTY, NY - MORNING
Diamond Joe and GREG, a ring stock man in overalls, are
leading the Marlena's horses out of the ring stock car...
I'm sure it's nothing serious.
Don't tell my wife I said this but
she coddles them too much. She has
a particularly strong affection for
Silver Star. I don't encourage it.
It's unhealthy to love an animal
that much...Here she is.
Marlena runs up to them, still in her bed clothes/robe.
Darling, meet Jacob Jankowski,
Benzini Brothers own veterinarian.
It's a pleasure to meet you.
Marlena barely acknowledges Jacob - keeping their previous
meeting a secret (for which Jacob is grateful). August puts
his arm around her and they kiss.
Last stall. Lead the way, doc.
They enter the ring stock car...
INT. RING STOCK CAR - CONTINUOUS - LIBERTY, NY - MORNING
Jacob, Marlena and August arrive at the stall to see Silver
Star is laying down. He is breathing heavily, his rib cage
rising and falling. Jacob immediately senses the worst.
Jesus, Marlena, he wasn't this bad
in the show.
Jacob moves to examine the horse, but he flinches in pain.
Marlena takes over, by sitting besides Silver Star's head,
and stroking his head while singing a soft lullaby.
Jacob registers Marlena's soothing effect causes Silver Star
to relax...his breathing grows calmer. So Jacob begins to
examine him as Marlena watches protectively.
Jacob runs his right hand down the leg to the fetlock. He
lays his hand on the hoof then place his thumb and forefinger
on the back of the fetlock. He looks at the sole of the hoof,
which is bulging and dark with a red line around the edge.
Jacob's expression tells us this is a bad sign.
Is that the problem?
Do you need any hoof testers?
Diamond Joe has them...
Well, how are you going to fix it?
Marlena looks at him coolly, expecting an explanation. Jacob
doesn't want to tell her the truth.
Jacob looks to August and rises, leaving Marlena with the
horse. Jacob pulls August away to whisper.
I didn't want to say anything in
front of... Mrs. Rosenbluth...he's
This horse isn't getting back on
his feet, August. If there was
anything I could do, I would but
we're going to have to put him
down...I'm real sorry.
Beat. August's stares at Jacob - or rather, stares through
him. A dead stare that lasts just a beat or two too
long...And then just as suddenly, the look is gone:
I know you are. Come with me.
August exits. Jacob doesn't know what this means. He follows.
EXT. COOKHOUSE TENT - LIBERTY, NY - TWILIGHT
TWO BUCKETS FILLED WITH PUTRID MEAT. Flies buzzing on top.
Diamond Joe finishes filling the buckets as August grabs one.
Joe, bad report for Silver Star I'm
afraid. Jacob here says there's no
hope. We're going to have to put
Diamond Joe registers a concerned, anxious look to Jacob.
...So I need you to round up Pete
and Greg, get a wagon and a harness
stretcher. He has to be hauled.
A harness what?
Jacob and I'll take care of the
cats. We'll meet you back at the
Grab the other bucket, will you?
Diamond Joe seems uneasy about this as we follow August and
Jacob, who comments on the putrid meat.
August, this stuff has gone off. Do
the cats really eat this?
No, they really love goats.
(Jacob looks to him)
We're all out of goats.
EXT. CAT CAR - MOMENTS LATER - LIBERTY, NY - TWILIGHT
Jacob waits with the buckets outside the car. August is
inside unlocking the padlocks, then reappears and jumps out.
Go ahead. They get a bucket each.
Apprehensive, Jacob hops up. August hands him the buckets.
INT. CAT CAR - CONTINUOUS - TWILIGHT
The cat dens have two compartments: to the left is a pair of
lions. To the right, a tiger and a panther. All are massive.
As soon as Jacob appears, they lift their heads ominously.
August has unlocked the dens but left the padlock hanging on
the cage bars. The animals can smell the buckets now. They
growl. Jacob is a bit unhinged:
What do I do, just open the door
and toss it in?
Unless you think a formal sit-down
Jacob approaches the tiger first. The six hundred pound cat
rises then roars, his massive head hitting the cage and
rattling the lose padlock. Jacob freezes.
Why don't you start with Rex...
that's him on the left.
August is pointing to one of the lions - with a ratty mane
and visible rib cage. Smaller than the tiger, Jacob has a bit
more nerve. He reaches for a bucket...August suddenly shouts,
unnerving Jacob even more:
Not that one, that one.
He points to a difference bucket. Jacob can see no difference
between them, but no matter. He lifts the bucket and
approaches the lion's cage. Rex, the lion, lunges at the den
door. Jacob freezes.
What's the matter? Didn't they
cover this in school?
August is having a grand time. Jacob smirks. Rex is rubbing
his mangy coat against the cage bars.
Jacob fumbles, removing the padlock and laying it at his
feet. He lifts the bucket and waits. When Rex turns away from
the cage door, Jacob swings it open. But before he can spill
out the contents of the bucket:
Rex turns and chomps his huge jaw down on Jacob's arm. JACOB
SCREAMS. The bucket drops, spilling the entrails inside which
cause Rex to release Jacob's arm and attack the food.
Jacob slams the cage shut and checks to see if he has an arm.
He does but it is dripping with saliva and as red as if he'd
dipped it in boiling water. But no skin is broken.
August is hysterically laughing. Furious, Jacob storms off;
What the hell is wrong with you?
You think that's funny?
Yes I do! Aw Jacob wait! Don't be
sore! I was having a little fun!
FUN! I could have lost my arm!
Rex hasn't got any teeth...
Jacob feels more foolish and walks away, when, just as
quickly, August's tone of voice turns darker:
AUGUST (O.S.) (CONT'D)
Jacob stops and turns. August isn't laughing any more. He has
that sniper's stare of August's darker side...August moves
towards Jacob, almost menacingly, as he speaks;
..people want their money back when
the Star Act on the poster isn't in
the ring! A Star Attraction keeps a
circus alive. Without it, animals
eat that and men eat nothing. It
takes time to find and train
another horse so without Silver
Star, I have no Star Act.
I don't know how he's been
performing August, but you don't
have a Star Act now. That horse
can't walk and if he does you'll
lose him. He's in a lot of pain.
August squeezes Jacob's sore arm from Rex's attack. Jacob
cries out in pain as August holds his grip yet speaks calmly;
We always have choices, Jacob - a
choice between our pain and someone
else's. That horse was performing
before you came and he will
continue to perform until he drops
dead. I'm telling you to keep it
alive and that's what you'll do or
you'll be red lit like anyone else
who doesn't obey the law here.
Every nation has it's own laws
under God, Jacob. You left America
the second you jumped my train. I
like you. Believe me, I do. I'm
only thinking of your future.
August lets go of his arm and walks away. Jacob is angry.
INT. RING STOCK CAR - CONTINUOUS - TWILIGHT
Angry, Jacob inspects his arm - swollen and red from Rex's
mouth. He hears: O.S. murmuring coming from Silver Star's
stall. He approaches to find Marlena sitting at Silver Star's
head, stroking his nose and humming the lullaby.
Marlena strokes Silver Star as Jacob appears. And Marlena
speaks to him for the first time;
Tell me the truth. What's wrong
Jacob hesitates before answering, then:
The connective tissues between the
hoof and the coffin bone are
compromised and the coffin bone
rotates toward the sole of the
hoof. If he keeps walking, it'll
puncture through...He's in a lot of
And if he rests?
You'll lose him anyway. I'm sorry.
Marlena breaths in this bad news and braces herself, tears
welling up in her eyes.
Then you have to put him down.
Jacob is impressed by her...and a little surprised.
It's the right thing to do.
But August won't let you.
If I'm the show's vet then it's my
decision, isn't it?
But August won't like it.
Then it'll be my last decision.
Marlena is impressed by Jacob. And surprised. She doesn't
quite know what to make of him.
EXT. STOCK CAR - LIBERTY, NY - MOMENTS LATER - TWILIGHT
A determined, pent-up Jacob marches towards Bill and Grady
who are taking a break, smoking. Camel is drinking Jake...
Hey kid. What are you doing on the
wrong side of the tracks?
I need a gun.
It can't be that bad...
They laugh but Jacob insists boldly.
I need a gun! Or a rifle! Now!
Grady leans inside the open car door and gets him a rifle.
Jacob takes it and marches back. They watch him, curiously.
Jacob passes Blackie on the way and boldly ignores his
intimidating stance....Performers and workmen sense a drama
brewing and follow Jacob to see what is happening.
INT. RING STOCK CAR - CONTINUOUS - TWILIGHT
Jacob jumps into the Ring Stock car with the rifle as Kinko
exits his room with Queenie. Queenie growls.
What do you think you're doing?
Shut-up! Both of you!
Jacob continues on to Silver Star and Marlena.
You should go.
No. I'll keep him calm.
Jacob respects Marlena's fortitude...Jacob raises the rifle
and aims, trembling...Stoic Marlena, tears in her eyes, turns
her face away...Jacob pauses, upset...then...shoots.
Jacob's distraught expression tells us everything as the
rifle slides to his side. He looks to Marlena. This is their
first moment of intimacy. She rises and takes the rifle from
his grip. She sees his arm bruised from the cats. She seems
to know what it means. She offers a respectful farewell.
I'll be sorry to see you go, Mr.
She exits O.S. with the rifle.
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - LIBERTY, NY - LATER - EVENING.
The yaks are motionless. Flies buzz around their head and
ears. Jacob swats them away...The Polar Bear is on his
stomach, breathing heavily. Jacob smooths his coat....Jacob
leans down and hoists a bucket of ice, scattering the ice
near the polar bear who rolls closer to it.
Jacob sees Rex, lying on his side in his cage, panting with
thirst. He brings a bucket of water to Rex's cage and opens
it. Rex gets to his feet but this time Jacob doesn't flinch.
He isn't frightened. He gives Rex the bucket of water. Rex
drinks as Jacob strokes his mane, which Rex allows...
August calmly enters the menagerie with the rifle. He walks
to the center and stops, staring at Jacob.
Jacob goes about caring for the animals - moving from one to
the next - trying not to be unnerved by August's presence.
Then August does a surprising thing: He sits in the center of
the menagerie, crossed legged, with the rifle beside him.
You've got a gift for them. Like
Marlena with horses. It's God-
given. I can always spot it.
Jacob takes Bobo out of his den. Bobo hugs him tightly. He
continues on as he replies;
My father used to say that to me.
He must have been a wise man.
This stops Jacob. Beat. He turns to August.
How is Marlena?
August tilts his head curiously, with a smile.
You're a genuine curiosity Jacob
Jankowski. What am I to do with
you? ... I threaten to throw you
off a moving train, feed you to my
lions and you go ahead and shoot my
star horse anyway. So I think -
Jacob's an educated man. For Jacob
to disobey me and shoot that horse,
that horse must have been in pretty
bad shape. Perhaps bad enough to
injure my Marlena during the show.
And so I think Jacob Jankowski
might be a valuable person to have
Tell Diamond Joe the animals need
more water when the humidity's this
bad if I don't see him before I go.
You're not going anywhere. You
belong here. These animals..they've
been waiting for you.
Jacob doesn't know whether to believe him or not. Then:
But don't ever disobey me like that
again. I'll give you this one. I'll
call it "respect"...Next one I call
I do thank you though. You and
Silver Star solved a much bigger
problem for me.
August pulls a pack of Camels from his pocket.
August lights, inhales, blows smoke then:
The cats. You see, meat eaters are
always more valuable to a circus
than hay burners. And you saw what
we had to feed them.
What does Silver Star have to do
with the cats?
We should have just enough food for
them to get us to the next show,
thanks to you. Of course Marlena
won't speak to me for a day or two
but she'll come around...So, I was
right. You are a valuable man.
As he walks away, rifle over his arm, Jacob is unnerved;
August, what did you do? August?
INT. KINKO'S ROOM - EN ROUTE TO GOSHEN - MORNING
Queenie sleeps. Kinko reads comic book porn inside a book of
Aristotle's Poetics. Jacob sits on his bed thinking.
I couldn't stop thinking about
Marlena. I didn't see her for three
days. Our shows were cancelled and
we kept moving because, word was,
August found a "dead one"...
The train wheels screech as it begins to stop. Jacob rises
and looks out of open train car doors..
EXT. FOX BROS CIRCUS GROUNDS - GOSHEN, NY - MORNING
The train is pulling into the site of a "ghost town"
abandoned circus; a dilapidated Big Top, broken wagons and
tents, desolate performers walking about idly or sitting in
INT/EXT. RING STOCK CAR - GOSHEN, NY - MORNING
As the train pulls into Goshen, performers stick their heads
out the window to see....Jacob sits in the open stock car
with Kinko and Queenie:
Why are we stopping?
August loves his sideshow freaks.
There's a guy with this outfit who
has a parasitic twin growing out of
his chest. He dresses it in a tiny
tuxedo and black patent leather
shoes. No talent but a real money-
maker with the rubes. Calls himself
the Man and a Half. Goddamn
August'll pay him double what he
pays me just for the irony.
What happened to this circus?
Went belly up. Pretty common
nowadays. Circus bosses see the end
coming and they'd pull a runner
with all the money. Menagerie
belongs to the town now. August can
get anything he wants for a song.
Jacob and Kinko watch August striding through the grounds as
desperate performers hopeful for work rush up to him.
Most of them will never belong to
another show. And they know it.
August is helped by Earl, who pushes the performers aside so
August can head straight for the Goshen TOWN OFFICIALS,
standing beside an Oldsmobile. They exchange greetings.
EXT. FOX BROS CIRCUS GROUNDS - GOSHEN, NY - LATE MORNING
Crazy Joe is organizing the Flying Squadron to take whatever
parts of the Fox Circus remains that they can use.
Jacob is checking baggage stock horses when he sees:
Marlena sitting alone outside her stateroom. He walks to her.
Just as he reaches her, Marlena turns to him, looking as if
she hadn't slept in days. Before they can speak, they hear:
MARLENA! JACOB! AUGUST WANTS YOU!
EXT. FOX BROS CIRCUS GROUNDS - GOSHEN NY - NIGHT
A CHAMPAGNE BOTTLE IS POPPED OPEN...
A deliriously happy August is walking and holding the
champagne, pouring glasses held by Earl who then hands one
each to Marlena, Jacob, Diamond Joe and Crazy Joe as they all
walk towards the Fox Bros. Menagerie Tent.
We have a new star!
The Man and a Half?
Nah, lousy Ringling got here first.
But we got better! A bull!
A bull elephant! Her name is Rosie,
she's fifty-three and she's
brilliant. The best bull they had.
I'm going to come up with a whole
new Star Act around her and
You can ride her in the Spec from
now on, since we have no Liberty
August smiles at Marlena who looks back contemptuously, upset
about Silver Star. August ignores her. Jacob notices the
exchange between them.
(Pours himself a glass.)
...Our own bull! Ringling can't
hold that over us now. I'm
renovating an entire car just for
Just for the elephant! But the
bunkers are at capacity! I've got
roustabouts three to a bunk.
August tosses off this concern.
We'll find places for everyone. And
when our new star sells tickets,
we'll buy another car! We're a show
to be reckoned with now!
...TO THE BENZINI BROTHERS MOST
SPECTACULAR SHOW ON EARTH!
INT. FOX BROS. MENAGERIE TENT - GOSHEN NY - NIGHT
CAMERA POV: Dozens of Benzini Brothers work men are
dismantling and taking what they need...As our characters
walk through, this crowd of working men in constant motion
part the way to reveal:
ROSIE THE ELEPHANT: She is gargantuan. Ten feet tall at the
shoulder. Her skin is mottled and cracked from the tip of her
trunk down to her feet. Only her ears are smooth. She has
deeply set, amber eyes with extremely long lashes. She stands
tall behind a rope, chained to a stake in the ground.
Jacob, Marlena, August, Diamond Joe and Greg observe her.
She has such long eye lashes.
She's a hundred if she's a day.
We're lucky if she can move.
Darling, what do you think? She's
magnificent, isn't she?
Marlena keeps her rage silent, but it is all the more potent.
August decides to ignore it. Jacob keeps his eyes on Rosie
but feels the tension between them.
ROSIE'S CARETAKER approaches: filthy shirt behind suspenders.
You the bull man?
(Refers to Diamond Joe)
This is my menagerie man.
Where's your bull man? Ya got no
bull man, I gotta tell the township
or else they can't sell her to ya.
August grabs Jacob's arm and shoves him forward;
Here he is. He's my bull man..
Rosie's Caretaker looks at the surprised Jacob, then:
All right. See this animal...this
here's the stupidest Goddamn animal
on the face of God's good
earth....Here's your bull hook.
You're gonna need it.
He tosses A BULL HOOK - a wooden rod about three feet long
with a four inch metal pick coming off the end - to Jacob.
I don't believe it. The mayor said
she was the best bull you had.
If she was the best bull, why is
she the only one left? You think
you're the first show to turn up
picking on the bones?
August is annoyed. As the Caretaker gathers his things:
ROSIE'S CARETAKER (CONT'D)
Some elephant tramp who dropped
dead in Genesee sold her for a song
which still ain't no bargain cause
she ain't done a damn thing since
but eat everything in sight.
(Starts to walk away)
Well, good luck to ya. And if I
don't ever see another dumb bull in
my life it'll be too soon.
Rosie pulls her trunk from the trough. She lifts, aims, and
blasts the Caretaker with such a force, his hat sails off his
head in a stream of water.
Jacob, August, Diamond Joe and Greg bite their lips from
laughing. Marlena just stares into Rosie's eyes.
The Caretaker stops, his hair and clothes dripping. He
doesn't turn, just stands still for a moment - then moves on.
August's enthusiasm is slightly dampened.
Joe, you and Greg come with me. We
have to find a car to renovate.
See what you can do with her.
They exit. Jacob and Marlena are left alone with Rosie as
Flying Squadron men continue to work in the tent. There is an
awkward pause between them...then:
Mrs. Rosenbluth, I hope I'm not
speaking out of turn here but - but
I had no idea they were going to do
that to Silver Star.
I know....Thank you.
This relaxes Jacob, but he senses she is still sad.
And please, call me Marlena. I'm
not a snob like everybody thinks.
Jacob smiles. He faces Rosie and tries to cheer Marlena up.
Hello Rosie, I'm Jacob Jankowski.
This is Mrs. Marlena Rosenbluth.
Can you say Mrs. Marlena
Marlena smiles as she watches Jacob stroke Rosie's hide.
You're a beauty, huh. Skin's a
little dry, you oughta take care of
that. First thing you notice about
a woman's age is her skin.
Rosie lifts her trunk and begins to explore Jacob's body.
Marlena giggles. Jacob plays it up to make her laugh.
Are you flirting with me young
lady? I usually like to make the
(Her trunk taps his head)
I like to get to know a girl
first...take her out. Meet her
(Her trunk goes lower)
Of course, aggressive women can be
a nice change...
(She tickles him)
Jacob and Marlena laugh, her mood lightened because of Jacob.
I think you two are engaged.
They laugh. Jacob is thrilled to have this effect on Marlena.
A HARMONICA PLAYS A TUNE in the distance. They turn towards
the sound and see that the two of them are alone in the tent.
All the workmen have left.
Jacob and Marlena turn back to Rosie who stands between them.
There is a awkward, lovely moment of intimacy between the
three as Marlena strokes Rosie's trunk. Her hand and Jacob's
come very close to overlapping. When their eyes meet, one of
them quickly averts their glance...There is clearly a growing
attraction between them. But it's uncomfortable.
I think Rosie likes music. That
harmonica song is lovely.
I'm confessin that I love you.
Marlena stops, her face flushed by Jacob's "confession".
The name of the song. "I'm
Confessin' That I Love You."
--"Confessin' that I love you."
Beat. Jacob tries not to laugh. They return to stroking
Rosie, trying not to look at each other.
Louis Armstrong. Right.
INT. KINKO'S ROOM - GOSHEN, NY - LATE AFTERNOON.
Jacob enters. Kinko is on his bed reading his "Aristotle" but
quickly shuts the book. Queenie growls at Jacob.
Queenie stops. Kinko returns to his book. Jacob sees a NEW
BED ROLL AND PILLOW, upon which sits a LETTER. He reads it:
"MR. & MRS. AUGUST ROSENBLUTH REQUEST THE PLEASURE OF YOUR
COMPANY IN STATEROOM 3, CAR 48, FOR COCKTAILS AND SUPPER.
Jacob looks up to find Kinko staring at him.
What is it?
It's trouble, that's what. Not that
I give a damn, but you're playing
with dynamite with those two and
you're gonna blow all of us up.
August is the meanest sonofabitch
I've ever met.
I admit he has his moments of
insanity but he's really a very
generous, charming guy.
You don't get it, do you? When
August feeds your arm to a lion -
that's the real August. The one
who's generous and charming -
that's the insane August.
They hear a fight outside the car. They move to investigate:
INT/EXT. RING STOCK CAR - CONTINUOUS - LATE AFTERNOON.
Jacob and Kinko look out of the open ring stock car to see:
August is standing before A MAN who is being held by
Blackie's Men and punched by Blackie himself. The Man is
bleeding and bruised. Various other performers and working
men also watch the brutality;
Six men got red lit last night.
Cancelling shows and that damn
elephant cost August. He needed to
clean house to save on payroll...
It's a lousy day when an animal
gets paid and men don't.
Why are they beating him?
He hid one of the men who was
supposed to be tossed. Word was the
train was over a trestle instead of
land. Nobody comes back from that.
Get rid of him. He comes back on my
property, you can shoot him.
August walks away, with Earl and his men in tow. Blackie and
his men drag the beaten Man away. As they turn, Jacob
recognizes the Man;
It is WADE who worked Jacob on his first day.
INT. MARLENA AND AUGUST STATEROOM - GOSHEN, NY - NIGHT
August, wearing a tuxedo, opens the door on the platform.
JACOB! Come in, come in!
Jacob enters their Stateroom which takes up half the car,
with an additional room, cordoned off by a velvet curtain.
The main room is paneled in walnut and outfitted with damask
furniture, a dinette and a Pullman kitchen.
Darling, our guest has arrived.
Jacob's eyes go wide upon seeing Marlena who appears looking
radiant in a rose silk, off the shoulder evening dress.
I'm so glad you could come. Would
you like a beer? Or champagne?
I'm not dressed for champagne.
We can fix that, can't we darling?
August winks at Marlena who giggles at their secret as August
ushers Jacob to the velvet curtain...
We're celebrating our new star,
Rosie. My plan is to have the act
ready for the Manhattan/Jersey show
so she can start selling tickets.
Unfortunately we had to let some
men go last night...
Jacob listens to how August will explain this:
...I don't like doing it, not one
bit. But to keep hard working men
working, I had to get rid of lay-
abouts and thieves who are dead
weight. If I had the funds to pay
them all I would, but times being
as they are...I regret it though.
Jacob believes him. August turns to him, with cheer:
So tomorrow, my faithful bull man,
we begin! But tonight - we dine!!
Tonight, we all deserve champagne!
August whisks the velvet curtain aside:
A tuxedo for Jacob, who smiles, impressed.
MONTAGE: A PERIOD SONG COVERS THE IMAGES TAKING US OVER THE
COURSE OF THE EVENING ALONG WITH JACOB'S NARRATION:
- Three white-gloved waiters remove the domes off of silver
platters revealing oyster bisque, prime rib, boiled potatoes,
asparagus in cream.
- Marlena's dress barely covers her shoulders, exposing her
porcelain skin and the curves of her breasts. Jacob can
barely keep his eyes off of her during dinner...
- Jacob is wiping his plate clean as August proudly offers
more. Marlena laughs at Jacob's embarrassment when he
realizes his plate is clean...
- Wine is poured over and over...as the evening continues.
- August is at the center of conversation entertaining
Marlena and Jacob. They are drunk from the wine!
Jacob, I want to apologize to you,
in front of my darling Marlena so
she can witness how truly sorry I
am for any bit of nastiness between
us...Running this show, the many
pressures...It can get the best of
me sometimes I'm afraid.
People don't realize how much
August does holding everything
together. How difficult it is in
these times. The whole company is
like a family to him.
Thank you my love.
He kisses her hand then turns to Jacob;
From now on I shall trust your
judgement in all things
veterinarian. Please say you accept
Jacob is enamoured with August again, especially seeing
Marlena smiling in agreement.
Of course I do, August. You've been
nothing but swell to me.
I could truly use a friend I can
Jacob once again beams at the compliment as August pours more
wine. But Jacob feels a twinge of guilt. He stands to make a
dramatic statement. August and Marlena look up to him.
I have to tell you something. You
may not trust me after you hear it.
August and Marlena pause - giving Jacob their attention.
I never took my final exams at
Cornell. I'm not a real vet.
Beat. Then August and Marlena burst into laughter at the dire
earnestness with which Jacob made his statement.
But it's true. I never got my
degree. I'm not a licensed vet.
They laugh even harder.
BAH! A worthless piece of paper
from the ivy bush league! Of course
you're a vet. You have the gift.
You're idealism is just so...sweet.
When are you going to learn that
the rules written of, by and for
these united states of suckers do
not apply to us.
Not about this, August.
All right, let me ask you - do you
honestly think this is the most
spectacular show on earth?
(Beat. Then laughs)
No. It's nowhere near. Lucinda, our
Fat Lady, isn't 800 pounds. Four at
the tops. And you really think the
Tattooed Man got tattooed by
headhunters in Borneo? He's from
Pittsburgh. Took him nine years to
ink himself. And you know what I
did when the hippo died? Swapped
out her water for formaldehyde and
kept showing her. For two weeks, we
travelled with a pickled hippo..
(Jacob & Marlena laugh)
..The world is run on tricks - in
here and out there. So trust me,
it's having a talent that counts.
In this world, it's all that's
real. Look at this country, these
dead, God awful towns we play.
Talent and illusion bringing life
to what is dead...Even for just a
matinee. How wonderful is that?
Jacob believes he's right. Marlena smiles in agreement.
August rises to toast. Jacob and Marlena follow.
To talent and illusion!
And Silver Star.
August takes a beat and smiles warmly at Marlena...
To all we love.
He leans over and kisses Marlena longer than appropriate in
front of a guest. Jacob downs his wine, closing his eyes.
Suddenly, August grabs Jacob and Marlena and pulls them up to
dance, throwing his arm around them both as we hear: Louis
Armstrong's DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME.
August starts singing along, imitating Satchmo's voice,
encouraging Jacob to join in...August is a great performer,
filling up the space with his impersonation. Jacob can only
Come on Jacob! It's customary to
sing for your supper!
Jacob joins in to perform with August. Marlena applauds them.
August breaks away to dance with Marlena as Jacob sings. They
begin to slow dance, very intimately.
Jacob gives up singing and plops himself on an upholstered
chair, drinking more champagne. Jacob watches them dance:
He looked like a different man when
he looked at her. I said to myself,
maybe love does that to a man. I
didn't know much about it.
Suddenly, August kisses Marlena - a bit too aggressively.
Darling. Darling, please..
Gently. We have a guest.
August stares at her. His expression darkens - locking his
eyes on Marlena and tilting his head as if he is examining
her. Marlena smiles and strokes his face. August doesn't
respond. He remains intense...
Darling, what is it?
August takes her face by the chin and tilts it with complete
control, as if searching for proof of something he can't
trust. His grip tightens, hurting her.
Alerted, Jacob sits up, prepared to intervene...But Marlena
shows no sign of fear. She knows exactly what to do.
She manages to moves his hand to her mouth and kisses it.
You don't know your own strength,
And then, just as quickly, August's expression softens,
relaxes, almost into sadness...as if he's about to
cry....Marlena senses it immediately. She whispers lovingly.
August stops and eyes the bed beyond them. He leaves Marlena
and throws himself face first on the bed.
Excuse me, Jacob.
Jacob watches as Marlena attends to August, lifting his legs
onto the bed, taking off his shoes. August begins snoring.
Marlena smooths the hair out of his face then closes the
curtains and returns to Jacob in the main room.
Is everything all right?
Marlena puts a finger to lip and keeps it there, as she
returns to her Victrola and selects another record. She
cranks it on and plays it low. A RUTH ETTING SONG.
Oh yes. He's just had too much to
drink, that's all. I hope you had a
good time tonight. I wanted so much
to make things up to you.
Tonight was your idea?
Oh Auggie wanted it too, he felt
horrible about what happened. He
really does like you Jacob. But
it's hard for him. He's under a lot
of pressure. He does more than
people realize holding things
You said that.
Well it's true...
(Opens her arms to him.)
One dance before you go?
Jacob cautiously approaches. Marlena takes his hands but when
Jacob presses closely against her and places his hand against
her bare back, he almost swoons. They slow dance. Both tipsy.
Jankowski is Polish isn't it?
Is that all right?
Yes, of course, sorry...I just
think it's interesting. I don't
know what I am, besides August's
wife....I grew up in foster homes
since I was a baby.
Kentucky, Oklahoma, Kansas,
Texas...I must have covered a dozen
states by the time I was 17. I'd
make up stories about who my
When I was five, I pretended for a
whole year my mother was an
They both laugh.
I did! ... and I pretended that I
was really an Appaloosa filly...and
that I was just dreaming I was a
girl and one day, I'd wake up...and
I'd run home.
Anyway, I was a lot safer inside
those stables than I ever was
inside those homes...
Marlena stops, not wanting to continue. Jacob finds a new
route for her conversation.
What happened at 17?
There was a parade for the circus.
At the head, there were six black
Fresians, 17 hands high wearing red
tassles. So proud! So beautiful.
And August was leading them. The
second he looked at me, the way he
looked at me, I knew I'd never live
with strangers again. And the way
he talked. Told me "I'd find a home
in every city..welcomed in every
town...and he'd give me--
-- a life most suckers can't dream
Ha, you too, huh?
It's a wonderful lie, isn't it?
But he said he'd make me a Star
Attraction and he did. I'm pretty
lucky he found me.
Jacob, lost in her eyes and her voice, blurts out:
He was pretty lucky to find you.
Marlena is surprised by the compliment...and endeared.
You're sweet to say so.
Beat. Feeling exposed, Jacob searches to change the subject:
Don't tell him what happened...
Jacob takes this as an intimate moment between them.
Oh no Marlena, I won't ever tell.
Marlena smiles, laughs, using Jacob's joke back on him;
That's the name of the song. "Don't
Tell Him What Happened To Me". Ruth
Etting. She's one of my favorites.
Jacob's head starts spinning. Marlena takes care of him;
Are you much of a wine drinker?
I have no idea.
Maybe you should go to bed.
Marlena laughs. Jacob's bow tie is undone - she ties it;
Here, let me...We can't let you go
out there all untied. A circus is a
small town. What will people say?
As Marlena ties his tie, Jacob's eyes simply rest on
Marlena's face - sinking deeper in love. When Marlena
finishes, she looks up to Jacob...She can tell Jacob is
enamoured. She smiles warmly, touching his cheek...
Sweet, sweet Jacob...
I'm not that sweet.
(Lowers her hand)
Marlena turns and disappears behind the velvet curtain. Jacob
stands still for a moment, then exits.
EXT. RING STOCK CAR - CONTINUOUS - GOSHEN, NY - NIGHT
A drunk Jacob sees the ring stock car door open, filled with
people's legs hanging out and loud voices from within.
INT. RING STOCK CAR - CONTINUOUS - GOSHEN, NY - NIGHT
Jacob hops up into the car. Kinko is giving a party, with a
bottle in his hand and drunken hospitality on his face.
Thirty performers cram the area usually occupied by Marlena's
horses, including BARBARA and another Coochie girl, NELL.
Kinko and Queenie are performing tricks. Jacob watches. He
admires the talent and humor of Kinko and Queenie's act. At
the end, the girls laugh and applaud. Jacob joins in:
BRAVA QUEENIE! BRAVA!
But the sound of Jacob's voice immediately makes Queenie stop
and growl at him. Jacob stops.
Kinko, Barbara and the Coochie girls stop laughing and stare
the drunken young man, with his shirt out of his pants. He is
ripe for the picking! They get an idea!
JACOB MY FRIEND!! Folks, this is my
friend and roommate Jacob. I'd like
you all to make him feel at home!
Kinko starts laughing uncontrollably and before Jacob can
protest or escape, Barbara and Nell approach him, moving in
for the kill. Blurry-eyed, Jacob staggers back but the others
refuse to let him leave. In fact, he is picked up bodily,
raised above their heads and transported to Silver Star's
empty stall as Barbara and Nell disrobe him.
IN BLACK OUT....WE HEAR A SCRAPING NOISE THEN SEE A SLIVER OF
LIGHT AS A LID IS OPENED.
INT. TRAIN CAR/CLOWN ALLEY CAR - EN ROUTE - MORNING
Kinko opens the lid of a trunk, speaking to someone inside;
Where am I?
Kinko moves about a car filled with racks of costumes, props
and an open trunk containing the hidden Jacob.
Where are you right now or where
are you in an Aristotelean context
because right now you're in a
Inside the trunk, O.S. Jacob lifts his arm to Camera and
discovers he is dressed in a red silk dressing gown...
Where are my clothes? I'm not
wearing anything underneath this---
OH MY GOD...SOMEBODY SHAVED MY...
As Jacob struggles out of the trunk, we only see his arms.
What the hell did I do last night?
You threw up on Barbara...And maybe
I feel sick.
You look a little pale.
Kinko holds the mirror to Jacob. We see for the first time:
JACOB'S FACE HAS BEEN PAINTED AS A CLOWN.
INT. TRAIN CARS - CONTINUOUS - MORNING
Jacob races through each car - past musicians, clowns and the
Coochie Girls - clutching his robe, rubbing the make-up off.
Along the way, the circus company taunt and tease him with
sexy hoots and hollers. Kinko follows him, delighted.
INT. KINKO'S ROOM - TUXEDO PARK, NY - MORNING
Having cleaned up, Jacob is dressing in his own clothes.
Kinko sits on his cot "reading Shakespeare" with a melancholy
Queenie at his side. When Jacob scratches his shaven balls...
Your balls itchy?
YES THANK YOU!
Pissed off, Jacob continues to dress.
It'll grow back. Aw come on, you
still store about last night? Now I
figure we're even. In fact, I
probably owe you one. Feel free to
borrow a book.
Let's just drop it.
Kinko opens a book to read. Jacob notices Queenie's quiet.
What's wrong with Queenie?
What do you mean "wrong"?
I mean she's not hating me.
(Concerned, pets her)
Yeah, she's been like this all day.
I don't know...she must have eaten
something. She did her business and
it was kind of...watery.
Her stool? Did you look at it for
I don't like looking at my own.
Get some honey from the cookhouse.
And if you can find any slippery
elm powder. But the honey should do
it. If not, we'll check her for
Jacob starts to exit. As Kinko reads his book;
He moves to exit again. Kinko never looks up from book;
My real name's Walter.
They never look at each other but a friendship is formed.
EXT. RING STOCK CAR - CIRCUS GROUNDS - MORNING
When Jacob hops out, he sees performers and roustabouts all
gathered by a performer train car, huddling and discussing.
He crosses to investigate, meeting up with August Diamond Joe
and Mr. Erwin...
We got big trouble. Lucinda died.
Now we've got no center ring star
act and no sideshow star...
How did she die?
I don't know where we're gonna find
a fat lady this late in the season.
I don't care where you find one,
but find one.
(To Diamond Joe)
Better get some kind of rig set up
to lift her out of the car. How did
you carry Silver Star out?
(considers for a second)
No, no, of course, don't be silly!
Right. Well, figure something else
out Joe but get it down for the
performance. Put her in the hippo
tank for now.
You better start on that elephant.
We need her performing yesterday.
EXT. ROSIE'S TRAIN CAR - MORNING
Out of the darkness of her car, the enormous elephant
emerges, being led down a ramp by Jacob.
EXT. TRAINING RING - TUXEDO PARK, NY - LATE MORNING
Jacob - cleaned, dressed and hung over - sits crossed legged
in front of Rosie. The two stare at each other. Rosie's nose
searching the ground for something to eat. Jacob, without
energy or focus, his head pounding, orders her;
Rosie just looks at him without moving.
Up. Rosie. Up.
Rosie's trunk starts to sniff around Jacob.
Rosie's trunk investigates Jacob's body, tapping his head.
Rosie please. My hair hurts.
Rosie's trunk snakes around him.
No...No more Cracker Jack until you
Rosie curls her trunk around Jacob and slowly topples him
sideways, turning him over as he weakly threatens;
I'm getting really mad now....I
mean it...Rosie stop...
Rosie gets the Cracker Jack from his back pocket...
You just can't get enough of
somebody in your pants, can you?
Jacob quickly gets up as August strides towards him;
AUGUST (V.O. (CONT'D)
Heard you had a rough night?
Does everybody know what happened?
Can somebody tell me?
August suppresses a laugh.
I'm opening the midway and the
menagerie this afternoon for some
extra cash before the show tomorrow
night. We'll see how she does with
the crowd. She got any skills?
Finding food? But I don't really
know how to do this.
Well, first of all, you can't do
anything with a bull without the
August takes the BULL HOOK from the ground.
It's the only way to train them.
Jacob steps back.
UP!..UP!...COME ON UP!
August stabs Rosie behind the shoulder..Jacob winces. Rosie
lifts her foot a little.
August keeps jabbing her with the hook...dotting her flesh
with blood. Jacob gets upset.
August, there's got to be another
We don't have the time! She has to
start earning her keep MOVE! UP!
August stabs her other shoulder...harder...continuing to
shout. Rosie is getting agitated...pulling away from him but
constrained by her chain. Her eyes fearful.
Other performers rehearsing in the area begin to watch as
August strikes Rosie harder and harder. She begins to bleed.
Jacob tries to stop August by going for the bull hook...
Please, August, let me try again.
But August angrily pulls it away and turns on Jacob:
Don't tell me my business! You
don't want to watch this, get the
hell out! Making love to it ain't
going to work. Besides, from what I
hear, you're not that good at it.
GET UP! UP!!!
Jacob watches, upset and furious at August's treatment.
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - TUXEDO PARK, NY - LATER THAT DAY
Rosie's flesh is dotted with wounds from August's bull hook.
Jacob is applying zinc ointment to them.
I'm so sorry girl. Just a few more
here. Hold still.
The un-staked canvas flaps behind Rosie wave up with the
breeze....Rosie's trunk rises. She smells something from
outside the tent.
When Jacob bends down for more ointment, Rosie tries to turn
around but her chain is still staked into the ground. As
Jacob straightens up, he sees:
Rosie's trunk carefully wrap itself around the stake and pull
it up out of the ground....She then manages to turn herself
around, her butt to Jacob. Rosie's trunk then dives down and
up under the canvas flaps.
EXT. MENAGERIE TENT/MIDWAY - TUXEDO PARK - CONTINUOUS - DAY
A VAT OF LEMONADE LEFT ON THE CONCESSION STAND, which is in
the process of being dismantled. Work men are carrying items
back to the train.
WE SEE: Rosie's trunk come out from under the canvas, her
body hidden, searching for the lemonade.
Jacob peers out to see: Rosie's trunk dip itself into the vat
of lemonade and drink the entire contents.
Jacob is amazed. He looks around: Workmen are some distance
away loading the train. No one else sees her.
Rosie finishes then turns back into the menagerie.
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - TUXEDO PARK, NY - CONTINUOUS - DAY.
Rosie's trunk gathers up the stake and then stakes it back
into the ground. Jacob can't believe his eyes. He laughs.
EXT. TRAIN - EN ROUTE T0 NEW JERSEY - DAY
As the train travels to Weekhawken, New Jersey...Jacob is
looking out of open car to NYC skyline across the river.
We were on our way to the
Manhattan/ Jersey show and Mr.
Erwin still hadn't found a fat
lady. Tickets sales were low. So
August, ha,ha...August pulled a hat
EXT. STREET PARADE - WEEHAWKEN, N.J. - DAY
August is sitting atop Rosie, smiling, waving his top hat,
then forlornly placing it against his chest and lowering his
head in respect for Lucinda. Manhattan is in the distance.
A parade like you never saw, a
funeral and a celebration, saying
goodbye to one star, introducing a
new one...playing those rubes dying
to get a peek like he was rolling a
coin over his finger tips...
Rosie leads a small parade of clowns, including Walter and a
perky, healthy Queenie down the main street. Marlena sits
atop a Percheron, in full costume. Jacob walks astride.
Lucinda's Wagon, carrying "the dead Lucinda", follows.
JACOB (V.O.) (CONT'D)
It wasn't really Lucinda in there.
It was Barbara in a fat suit and
wig inside the hippo den. We buried
the real Lucinda by the railroad
tracks between towns. Cemeteries
cost too much. We were the only
family she knew.
People line up to cheer and offer their silent respects...and
satisfy a ghoulish fascination at the "dead" fat lady.
JACOB (V.O.) (CONT'D)
August sure was right about Rosie.
She pulled the people right in.
Rosie played that crowd like a pro.
The rubes love the exotic Rosie...kids run up to pet her with
As Rosie passes, we see AN OLD WOMAN standing in front of her
green shuttered house waving with delight. We see she has a
abundant vegetable garden which Rosie eyes covertly.
EXT. BIG TOP - SPEC LINE UP - WEEHAWKEN, NJ - DAY
WE HEAR: The Band playing from inside the Big Top as the
performers and ring stock are lined up for the Grand Spec.
But as soon as the Spec started, we
all knew it was too soon for
Rosie heads the line. Marlena sits atop her, in her sequins
and headdress, grabbing onto Rosie's leather halter.
August stands beside with the bull hook. His face is cold and
still. His fingers clutch and release the bull hook.
The SPEC MUSIC begins and everyone makes last minute
adjustments...Kinko and Queenie included....August shouts
into Rosie's ear.
Rosie hesitates so August strikes her right shoulder with the
bull hook. The pain sends Rosie flying through the Big Top
flap, causing Marlena to adeptly flatten her back atop Rosie
so as not to hit her head on the pole that runs across the
Big Top flap.
Others gasp at the near accident. August is already furious.
Jacob senses danger ahead. He follows in, curling the edge of
the sidewall so as not to impede the Spec performers.
INT. BIG TOP - WEEHAWKEN, NJ - CONTINUOUS - DAY
Jacob watches as Rosie makes it twenty feet down the
hippodrome track then stops.
Without missing a beat, Marlena yanks herself upright, beams
a smile and thrusts her hands in the air, her back arched,
her toes pointed - as if it were all a part of the act.
The crowd goes wild - clapping, throwing peanuts, whistling.
Rosie only moves in fits and starts, causing the rest of the
Spec to pass them by at times. She trots ahead of August and
then when August reaches her she stops, making August halt
awkwardly. August feels humiliated until:
The crowd laughs, thinking it's the act. They applaud.
August realizes the crowd loves it. So August, the performer,
starts to play the infuriated fool to the audience, acting
comically angry and frustrated with Rosie..
But when he turns back to Rosie, he is red-faced with real
anger, poking under her shoulders with the bull hook.
After three stops and starts, August plunges the bull hook
sharply into her shoulder blade...and Rosie takes off at a
faster speed, curling her trunk in the air. The crowd cheers!
Marlena grasps Rosie's halter as they fast approach the
dangerous pole above the entrance. If Marlena doesn't bail,
she'll be knocked off by the pole.
Jacob, August, the Spec and the audience watch enthralled as
Rosie charges toward the entrance...when suddenly:
Marlena lets go of the halter and leans hard to the left.
Just as Rosie bolts out of the Big Top, Marlena grabs hold of
the pole above the entrance and is left hanging there as
Rosie exits the Big Top...
For a moment, the audience doesn't know if this is part of
the act. Jacob wants to run to help her...
But Marlena quickly decides what to do; She lets go of the
pole with her left hand and quickly swings around so she is
facing the audience, still hanging from the pole.
Her face lights up and she points to her toes. The Band
Leader takes this as a signal and conducts the band into a
drum roll. The crowd relaxes and applauds.
Marlena begins swinging, gaining momentum as the band roll
mounts. Soon, in one final burst of performance inspiration,
she releases herself from the pole, sails through the air
tucking her body into a ball, rolling twice, uncurling for
one sideways rotation and lands firmly in the sawdust in her
feet. She straightens up and thrusts her arms in the air.
The crowd goes wild. The Band plays victory music. Coins are
thrown from the bleachers. Even the Spec performers cheer.
August acknowledges the audience's response by bowing as if
it were all his creation.
But after a moment, Jacob can see Marlena is in pain as she
turns and subtly limps out of the Big Top. He follows her.
EXT. BIG TOP - WEEHAWKEN NJ - DAY
Jacob rushes to her. Marlena, in pain, collapses in his arms.
August rushes out and is stopped cold by the sight of
Marlena in Jacob's arms. He immediately tenses up.
August, she's hurt.
August takes her in his arms. Barbara appears to help.
I'm here, darling, I've got you.
Bring her to my tent, it's closer.
Jacob, send Joe for ice. You go and
find that Goddamn bull before we're
run out town. And take the hook!
August is seething, his expression cold, as he carries
Marlena O.S. Jacob, concerned, takes the hook and runs O.S.
EXT. OLD WOMAN'S GREEN SHUTTERED HOUSE - WEEHAWKEN - DAY
Rosie is standing in a vegetable garden calmly feeding
herself cabbages. The owner is the OLD WOMAN who was
delighted by Rosie in the parade. She is now screaming
hitting her with a small garden shovel...Jacob runs up.
I'm sorry ma'am. I'll get her.
You better before she gets at my --
AAHHH, MY TOMATOES! YOU MONSTER!!
Rosie has helped herself to tomatoes. Jacob steps in.
Rosie, no! Stop!
Rosie pauses for a moment, flapping her ears at Jacob, then
shoves a bush of tomatoes in her mouth. Jacob almost laughs.
Bad elephant, that's not nice. This
kind lady hasn't invited you.
ARE YOU CRAZY TALKING TO AN
ELEPHANT!? SHOOT IT! BEFORE IT EATS
MY HOUSE! I'M CALLING THE POLICE!
She exits into the house as Rosie wraps her trunk around
cabbages, uprooting them, as Jacob tries to battle her trunk.
Greg arrives with a bucket he places in front of Rosie. Her
trunk stops fighting Jacob and sniffs inside the bucket.
What's in the bucket?
Gin and ginger ale. Elephants love
booze. One whiff of this and she's
not thinking about cabbages no
(Bats her trunk away)
... moj malutki paczuszek?
Greg, right? Are you Polish?
Greg again pushes Rosie's trunk away from the bucket.
Last show I worked, one bull faked
a belly ache just to get the
whiskey...Better grab the hook.
Are you a bull man? August would
hire you in a minute.
Don't want the job. Not for him.
Besides, I'm not bull man. I just
like big beasts.
Jacob gets it and follows Greg who carries the bucket.
Is she following?
Jacob turns around to see and sure enough:
Rosie is leaving the garden and trotting behind to catch up
to the bucket of gin and ginger ale. Jacob's impressed.
EXT. CIRCUS GROUNDS - WEEHAWKEN, NJ - TWILIGHT
The show is still in progress - we can hear the band playing
for the aerialist act in the background.
As Jacob makes his way to Marlena's stateroom he crosses
paths with August, whose face is "dark as thunder".
A little shaky. Sore wrists.
Bruised heel. Doc says she'll be
fine. Did you catch the bull?
She's in the menagerie.
August takes the bull hook from Jacob and walks with cold
blooded intent towards the menagerie. Jacob panics, realizing
what August about to do. Jacob follows to stop him;
August! Wait! She was good! She
came back on her own! Besides, you
can't do anything now! The show is
still going on.
Good. The band will drown it out.
Jacob touches August's arm. August turns on Jacob with a
murderous expression, shoving him to the ground. Jacob is
about to get up to fight but August cautions him with the
bull hook to stay down. August smiles slightly. Would he
really use that bull hook on Jacob or is he kidding? Jacob
stays down. August continues on, entering the menagerie tent.
Jacob sees Marlena running towards him.
EXT. CIRCUS GROUNDS - CONTINUOUS - WEEHAWKEN - TWILIGHT
Jacob and Marlena run across the grounds to the menagerie as
workmen are running out of the menagerie tent, hearing August
screaming from inside. They enter the menagerie tent to see:
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - CONTINUOUS - WEEHAWKEN - TWILIGHT
August is beating Rosie, who cries out with each blow. The
animals are panicking from inside their cages - the lions
roaring, the monkey's squealing. Marlena freezes at the
entrance as Jacob runs to August.
August turns to see her. Enraged, he stops Jacob with:
Get her out of here! NOW!
Jacob wants to help Rosie but can not disobey August in this
moment. He returns to Marlena and ushers her out, as August
continues to beat Rosie.
EXT. MENAGERIE TENT - CONTINUOUS - WEEHAWKEN - TWILIGHT
Marlena and Jacob step away, hearing Rosie cry out. Marlena
can't bear it. She grabs Jacob's hand for support. Jacob
tentatively holds onto her waist, guiding her away. She leans
into him. Jacob loves being this close to her.
The screams of August O.S. pull their attention to see:
Earl and his men physically dragging a maniacal August out of
the tent, his bull hook and clothes bloodied by his rage. He
is kicking and struggling against them like a madman.
Jacob is shocked by August's behavior. But Marlena has seen
it before. She pulls away from Jacob and exits O.S. alone.
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - WEEHAWKEN, NJ - LATER THAT NIGHT
Rosie is lying on her side, her foot still chained to the
stake. She is quivering, riddled with bloodied holes.
Jacob is kneeling, applying zinc ointment, not knowing where
he can touch that won't hurt her. He is heart broken.
Rosie, what am I going to do with
Rosie's eyes look up to him, her lashes blinking. Her trunk
lifts and wipes at her own eye.
Greg appears with a bucket and several bottles of whiskey. He
begins pouring whiskey bottles into a bucket.
Here this will help. Poor beast. He
really hurt her. Told you about
(Curses August in POLISH)
Don't understand why a man like
that wants to be around animals in
the first place. He shouldn't have
the right, if you ask me.
Listening to Greg, Jacob gets increasingly angry. He sees the
bull hook. He grabs it and marches out of the menagerie.
EXT. CIRCUS GROUNDS - CONTINUOUS - WEEHAWKEN, NJ - NIGHT
Earl's men are smoking, when one sees Jacob marching angrily
towards August's stateroom, carrying the bull hook. Alerted;
Somebody better find Earl.
INT. MARLENA AND AUGUST STATEROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
Jacob reaches the platform to find the door ajar. He moves
through it. The stateroom is in a shambles. An open suitcase
of women's clothes lies strewn across the floor.
August appears from behind the curtain ; he looks
uncharacteristically distraught...teary eyed and unkempt.
Do you know where Marlena is? Did
she send you?
She won't speak to me...
He can't finish. He sits, burying his head in his hands.
...She won't let me apologize...
She won't forgive me.
Jacob is astounded by August's sad, pitiable state.
I don't know what happens to me,
Jacob. When I saw that bull running
wild with Marlena, I...I lost my
mind. But it's because I love her.
Why can't she understand that?
(Jacob stands coldly)
Isn't there anyone who understands?
(Jacob remains silent)
Ah, it's all my fault, I know it
is. I've spent too much money on
that bull. I can't pay the workmen.
Our debts are piling. We're losing
attendance at every show. I have no
Star Attraction. I don't know
what's going to happen to us if
Rosie doesn't sell tickets.
If I lose this circus, I'll lose
Marlena - I know it.
Jacob softens, seeing August in this helpless, humble light.
I'm sure that's not true.
Maybe you can talk to her. She's
tired of my apologies but, this
pressure I'm under...Of course,
that's no excuse for what I did...
(Rubs the images away)
...I can't believe what I did. Is
she all right? The bull. Rosie.
She'll be OK.
Would you tell Marlena? And tell
her...tell her I'll do anything.
Anything she wants.
August, I can't...
I'm sure she'll forgive you...She
loves you...Anyone can see that.
August wants to believe him. He seems more hopeful.
Thank you. My friend.
Jacob nods, confused, his anger diffused. As he exits;
Jacob stops and turns back as August asks:
What were you planning to do with
that bull hook?
Jacob realizes he's holding the bull hook. August smiles.
Ha. You look like me.
Jacob looks in the mirror and indeed - with Rosie's blood on
his open shirt, bull hook in hand - he looks like a violent
Maybe there is someone who
August smiles. But Jacob is unnerved by the smile...and the
comparison. Suddenly, Earl enters and looks around, on alert;
What's going on?
Everything's fine, Earl.
August nods to Jacob, who pushes past Earl to exit.
EXT. TRAIN - CONTINUOUS - WEEHAWKEN, NJ - NIGHT
Jacob jumps down off the platform. Confused and disgusted, he
takes the bull hook, wedges it under the train and breaks it
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - WEEHAWKEN, NJ - MOMENTS LATER - NIGHT
Jacob enters to find Greg still treating Rosie.
How's she doing?
Oh she's a strong one, this one.
Jestes dobra dziewczynka
Jacob watches as Rosie lifts her foot and Greg rubs ointment.
Jacob sees the many empty whiskey bottles.
Is she drunk?
She's four tons..she'll just sleep
(Screwing ointment top)
Jacob watches as Rosie puts her foot back on the ground.
Masz, moja piekna
Jacob watches as Greg digs in his pocket and pulls out a
mint, brushing off the lint. Rosie's trunk investigates, then
nimbly plucks it out of his hand and into her mouth.
SUDDENLY, JACOB HAS AN EPIPHANY.
Oh my God...
EXT. MIDWAY - WEEHAWKEN, NJ - LATER THAT NIGHT
An excited Jacob is leading August to the menagerie tent.
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
Jacob leads August to Rosie. A curious Greg stops tending to
Rosie. Jacob hands August a slip of paper with Polish words.
Just read those out loud. To Rosie.
August reads the words in Polish with Jacob's help...
Rosie does nothing. August looks to Jacob. Jacob is worried.
Greg suggests, in a low whisper;
Might help if he said please.
Say...Prosze Rosie daj noge.
Pros--Prozze Rosie...daj noge.
Rosie lifts her foot. August's eyes gleam.
(Reads and recites)
Rosie puts her foot down. August starts to understand.
(Reads and recites)
Do tylu, Rosie! Do tylu!
Rosie sighs, shifts her weight, then takes a couple of steps
backward. August is amazed. Jacob is thrilled.
That Fox Bros bull man didn't tell
us was the elephant tramp who sold
Rosie to them was Polish...
August grabs Jacob and kisses him on the mouth.
We've got a new star!
Greg remains cautious.
PRE-LAP : LIVE JAZZ BAND MUSIC.
INT. NEW YORK CITY SPEAKEASY - LATER THAT NIGHT
The live band plays on a raised platform. The dance floor is
jammed with couples.
Tables and U-shaped booths surround the dance floor. Tuxedoed
bartenders serve from a wooden bar lined with hundreds of
bottles in front of a smoky mirror.
August, Jacob and Marlena sit in a booth. They are drunk on
their third bottle of champagne. Marlena is wearing a
beautiful, low cut beaded red gown. Jacob can barely keep his
eyes off of her.
Marlena is particularly drunk - we've never seen her this
wild or spontaneous. She sings along with the band...she
keeps rhythm by banging her hands on the table.
However, she is acting distant to August.
August is happy she is having a good time. When he slides
next to her and puts his arm around her, Marlena stiffens;
Would you like to dance, darling?
No, thank you.
Awkward beat. Marlena takes her champagne glass and drinks
the last of it. August tries to make light of it.
We need more champagne.
I'll get it.
No, you stay with Marlena.
August kisses her cheek, but Marlena is clearly still upset.
August lets her be. He exits O.S.
You ever going to let him off the
Hook? That's an unfortunate choice
Rosie's going be great. He won't
hurt her again. I know it.
Jacob, what you know about August
is pretty much nothing.
Jacob feels put down. Marlena realizes that came out too
brusquely. She softens, and explains with vulnerability;
You know how many star acts we've
had? How much money we've made and
lost and made...? Silver Star paid
for our new stateroom and look what
happened to him. Everything August
touches gets fed to the cats one
way or another.
He'll never change.
Jacob is moved. Marlena shifts gears and rises.
I want to dance.
Maybe you should wait for August.
I want to dance now!
She pulls him up onto the dance floor. Marlena dances light
as air. She spins from Jacob then returns to his arms, so
that her back is to him. Jacob's forearm is on her collarbone
- skin to skin. Her chest rises and falls under his arm. Her
hair under his chin, Jacob can smell her fragrance - then she
unwinds away from, like a ribbon.
When the music stops, everyone applauds their dance -
including Marlena. Jacob beams. He looks up to the bar:
August stands stock still. His eyes glaring at Jacob. The
dark expression we've come to know. Seething with quiet rage.
Jacob takes a step back from Marlena when suddenly they hear;
OFF CAMERA SHOUT
RAID!! RAAAAID!!! EVERYBODY OUT!!!
PANDEMONIUM: Jacob is swept by a crush of bodies. People
scream, shoving their way towards the exit. Marlena is shoved
along with them, a few heads in front of Jacob.
Jacob reaches through the sea of flesh and grabs a hand. By
Marlena's expression, we know he has grasped her hand. Jacob
scans the panicked crowd for August but all he sees are
strangers running in every direction, people screaming..
Jacob's hand is ripped apart from Marlena at the doorway.
EXT. NEW YORK CITY ALLEY - NIGHT
Jacob is thrown into the alley. People are piling into cars,
engines are starting, wheels squealing.
Suddenly, Marlena appears, grabbing Jacob's hand. She takes
off her shoes. They run through back streets.
EXT. IRON FIRE ESCAPE - NEW YORK CITY ALLEY - NIGHT
They run under a fire escape, panting, out of breath. The
sirens and screams of the crowd are distant.
Lord, that was close...Aw, look at
my stockings! And they're silk too.
I wonder if August got out...
Marlena looks up at Jacob and starts laughing hysterically,
as if for no reason. They are both still drunk.
...I don't know how we're going to
get home. I've never been in New
York, have you?
Marlena's laughing subsides as she gets an idea.
I want to see the Empire State
What...what about August?
I don't know where he is, do you?
And he doesn't know where we are.
It's not our fault. Like you said,
who knows how long it'll take us to
Jacob is hesitant. Marlena takes his hand and softly pleads;
Just a few hours, Jacob. For just a
few hours, we don't belong
anywhere...we don't belong to
Jacob looks in her eyes and knows he shouldn't, but...
I was doomed.
He smiles. Marlena beams. They run off.
EXT. TOP OF THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING - NYC - NIGHT
A summer storm with thunder and lightening is coming towards
them from over the Hudson River.
Marlena and Jacob are looking out at the expansive 1931 view
of New York City. Other couples stroll about the sky deck.
Marlena breathes in deeply...
I've never seen so far. Have you?
(Jacob shakes head)
Look at it. As far as the eye can
see and it's nowhere near all
that's out there.
Jacob notices tears in her eyes.
Are you all right?
Yes. No. Yes, hahaha I'm fine. I'm
a complete mess...ha...
THE THUNDER BREAKS AND THE RAIN BEGINS TO POUR...
Suddenly, MARLENA SCREAMS as loud as she can, startling the
other couples. Jacob laughs. Beat of silence, then:
But Jacob understands; He screams and Marlena joins in.
The other couples leave the sky deck to get out of the rain
and away from "that crazy couple".
Marlena and Jacob stop, wet, panting, laughing from the
release. Then, looking out at the view, not at each other...
Marlena begins to confess what she needs Jacob to know.
Jacob? I need you to do something
for me. Promise me you will.
I want you to go. I want you get
away from us, from the show. You're
smart Jacob. You deserve better
than us. Leave as soon as you can
or something terrible's going to
Why are you saying this?
It's all right. No one can hear.
We'll never get another chance to
say it all.
Marlena looks into Jacob's eyes and finally addresses what
they're both thinking;
Nothing can ever happen with us,
you know. It's too dangerous.
August will never let me go. You
don't know what he's capable of.
How can you be with a man you're
I'm not. I don't have to feel
afraid of him if I don't feel
anything...After all these years,
I've learned how to do it so well.
I tell myself, "I'm managing. I can
manage him. August loves me. Nobody
else ever did. Who am I to say it's
the wrong kind of love?" .. See,
there's no place for a woman like
me in any decent kind of world. You
know where they found me when I was
a baby? ...
...In an alley behind a whore house
in Baltimore wrapped in newspaper.
No one even bothered to leave a
note...This circus, my horses -
this is the only kind of life I can
August made a woman like me a star
attraction...I'm lucky. And I'm
safe...And I was fine - before you
Jacob feels sorry and hopeful at the same time...
There's nothing that can cause a
woman so much trouble as a good
I'm not that good. And I don't want
Don't say that.
No, I don't. Good men don't wind up
with much in the end except their
goodness. Isn't worth much, is it?
See? ... Look what we've done to
She touches Jacob's face gently. Until this moment, they
didn't realize how close they are to each other tracing
Jacob's face with her hands, as he leans in closer...
You deserve as good a life any
Am I still a girl? I feel so old.
They kiss. They stop and silently acknowledge where this is
going. As they move towards a secluded spot, they continue to
kiss in between lines;
This can only be tonight. We have
to go back. Promise me you
Promise me you'll suffer.
I already am.
Promise you'll look in my eyes the
Jacob kisses her with his eyes locked onto hers...With
Marlena's back pressed against the entrance, Jacob reaches up
and locks the door. They sink to the ground.
EXT. FERRY - HUDSON RIVER - NYC TO WEEHAWKEN - NIGHT
Marlena sits inside Jacob's embrace on the ferry, her head
leaning against his chest - their hands entwined.
If I had money, if I could take
care of you, would we be going
You'd have to be a Rockefeller...
August would find me. He always
Have you tried to get away before?
Jacob you promised. You said you
understood it was only tonight.
I know. I do....I'm sorry.
EXT. WEEHAWKEN FERRY PORT - NIGHT
Jacob walks Marlena out of the port to a waiting cab. They
stop a few feet from the cab. Jacob gives her all the money
in his pockets. Marlena looks at him as if for the last time.
Where were you when I was 17?
Jacob smiles. They kiss not wanting to let go. Marlena pulls
away and runs into the cab. Jacob watches it drive away.
EXT. MENAGERIE TENT - WEEHAWKEN, NJ - PRE-DAWN.
Jacob reaches the circus. Everyone is asleep.
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - CONTINUOUS - WEEHAWKEN, NJ - PRE DAWN.
Jacob enters the menagerie, heading straight for Rosie. He
gets on the ground beneath her and lies down...Rosie raises
her trunk to allow Jacob to lie beneath her.
SAME LOCATION - DAWN
Jacob is asleep under Rosie when Walter wakes him up.
Why are you sleeping here?
Somebody's looking for you.
INT. CANVAS CAR - WEEHAWKEN, NJ - PRE-DAWN.
Jacob and Walter enter to find Bill and Grady hiding an
ailing Camel in a dimly lit car. Jacob kneels down to him.
Hey kid. How nice to see ya.
Hey, Camel. What's wrong?
I don't know, kid. Woke up a few
days ago and my feet was all
floppy. Jes can't feel'em right...
...It ain't just that though. It's
other stuff too.
Like down there...man stuff?
Camel, his eyes wide and fearful, nods slowly.
What's wrong with him, doc?
I don't know.
Jamaica ginger paralysis.
Jake leg. I've seen it before.
No such thing. Is there Doc?
Walter looks at Camel's empty "Jake" bottle.
The manufacturer started putting
this plasticizer in it, or
something, to get around
regulations that Jamaica ginger
extract not be sold as booze.
You're not supposed to drink this
stuff, ya know.
Well what the hell am I supposed to
drink to stop the shakes? It's
Prohibition and I ain't no Astor.
It's OK Camel. Tomorrow's payday.
We'll get you some moonshine.
Grady don't lie to the man. If men
were getting paid, Blackie wouldn't
have tossed four of "em between
Boonton and Weehawken.
Four?...Will he get better?
Walter looks at him, his expression says No.
We can't leave him here. They'll
red light him for sure.
Jacob understands. He gets an idea and turns to Walter.
Walter understands and reacts with an adamant:
EXT. CIRCUS GROUNDS - MOMENTS LATER - WEEHAWKEN - DAWN
Walter is walking quickly back to the performer train. Jacob
follows, trying to reason with him. Throughout the scene,
they are looking out for Blackie's men and speaking low.
Walter, please. Blackie and his men
only patrol the roustabout cars.
They don't work the performer
train. We can hide him easy until-
Until when? What are we going to do
with him? Shoot him like Silver
Star? Because that's what he is
Jacob. In a week, he won't be able
to move his legs at all.
He has a son in Pennsylvania. Near
Reading. We're playing there in
three weeks. That's all he needs.
Walter doesn't want to do this, but clearly can't say no.
I was right about you. You're going
blow us all up...August got home
tonight before you and Marlena.
People are talking.
Walter stalks off leaving Jacob unhinged by the news.
I shouldn't be a clown. I should be
a Goddamn fortune teller.
INT/EXT. COOKHOUSE TENT - WEEHAWKEN, NJ - MORNING
The cookhouse tent is divided into two sections by a curtain.
One one side: working men and the buffet table of food. It is
made up of benches and bare wood tables with salt and pepper
The other side of the curtain is filled with performers. The
tables have a checkered tablecloth and flowers.
Marlena is sitting alone, drinking a cup of coffee. Jacob
approaches. He sits opposite her.
Good morning Jacob, how are you?
Marlena smiles. Jacob senses others eavesdropping...but the
table is far enough away, so they can't be heard.
I wanted to, uh...Is there any
chance I could speak with you
About what? Is something wrong?
No, I...I just wanted to...Walter
said people are talking about what
Oh Jacob, champagne completely
overwhelms my senses..I always feel
the better for it when I abstain.
All I remember is getting pushed by
the crowd and then running and
getting a hole in my stocking. I
don't even know how I got home. I
don't remember a thing.
Well, I want to apologize for--
Ha,ha Jacob, it's silly of you to
apologize for my torn stockings.
You weren't even there.
Jacob is crushed by her reaction. Marlena maintains her
upbeat facade. August enters with his tray of food and
crosses to them. He is smiling like a man who has spent the
night having great sex.
August kisses Marlena right in front of Jacob. It is a long
sensual kiss...a holdover from their night together.
I slept like a baby after last
night. Thank you my darling.
August, please. We're in public.
Jacob understands his meaning and is quietly devastated.
Ah, nothing to be ashamed of. Man
and wife reuniting in the most
sacred of marriage places.
My Marlena has forgiven me. All's
well with the world again, right
That was quite an adventure last
night. I'm glad I didn't have to
bail you out. How did you get home?
I don't know. I just ran.
How did you two get separated? You
were so close on the dance floor.
I told you, sweetheart. We got
pushed apart by the crowd. This
older married couple brought me to
I'd like to look them up and invite
them to the show free of charge...
...I'll even pay for their
transportation. I'd pay it a
hundred times over to anyone who
helped my wife to safety. Thank
goodness she had chaperones. If
anyone had harmed her, or even
touched her, there's no knowing
what I might do.
Jacob makes note of the implication. Marlena ignores it.
EXT. TRAINING RING - ASBURY PARK, NJ - DAY
While Jacob coaches August from the sidelines, the company of
performers and workmen watch August command Rosie in Polish.
...August said he would create an
act for Marlena and Rosie that
would have'em line up for miles...
August and the company are delighted when Rosie lifts her
foot...or walks forward, then backward..
JACOB (V.O.) (CONT'D)
His accent was awful but Rosie
obeyed without fail.
Marlena watches, full of excitement and praise for August. He
instructs Marlena where to stand. He commands Rosie who lifts
Marlena up with her trunk.
Everyone cheers and applauds. Those near Jacob pat him on the
back, grateful that he saved the circus. Jacob smiles.
JACOB (V.O.) (CONT'D)
I was finally a part of them.
PRE-LAP - CHEERS AND APPLAUSE, AS ROSIE LIFTS MARLENA ONTO
HER BACK AND WE CUT TO:
INT. BIG TOP/MARLENA AND ROSIE'S ACT - ASBURY, PARK - NIGHT.
MARLENA ATOP ROSIE IN FULL COSTUME MAKING THEIR ENTRANCE TO A
PACKED HOUSE AS AUGUST LEADS THE WAY TO CHEERS AND APPLAUSE.
When they enter the center ring, they stop. August gives
Rosie the command to lift Marlena down with her trunk.
But Rosie hesitates. August commands her again, with more
force. But Rosie doesn't move forward...she shuffles a foot
backwards. August grips his silver tipped cane. Oh-oh...
Jacob and other performers watch anxiously. Will Rosie fail?
Then August turns to the audience and mimes apologizing to
the crowd. When he back is turned, Rosie hits his butt with
her trunk. August freezes. The crowd laughs uproariously.
Jacob and the others realize it's all part of the act. Walter
slaps his back. Barbara kisses his cheek.
August displays great performance skills. He turns to Rosie
acting suspicious. Rosie lifts her head away, as if to say
"It wasn't me".
August turns back to the crowd to apologize and once again,
Rosie flicks his behind with her trunk. This time August
knows it her. He turns to her, tips his hat over his brow and
shakes his finger, scolding, as if to say, "No, no, no"
Rosie responds by waving her trunk, mocking him.
And the crowd bursts into applause.
August commands Rosie, who lifts Marlena with her trunk and
places her on the ground.
EXT. NEW EGYPT, NJ - NIGHT
Posters of ROSIE and MARLENA highlight the act COMING SOON!
Blackie and his men are covering up the Posters of other
circuses and town events.
August could have given Barnum a
run for his money. He spent the
payroll money on expensive posters
promoting that act like it was
bigger than Ringling. And we sold
out every performance in every
INT. BIG TOP/MARLENA AND ROSIE'S ACT - NEW EGYPT, NJ - DAY
Marlena blows kisses to the audience. She skips theatrically
around the ring, with Rosie trotting behind her, August
Marlena stops and wipes her brow, feigning exhaustion, and
sits on a small ball.
Rosie observes her with a smile and a raised trunk. Rosie
copies Marlena's actions, placing her enormous rear down on a
much larger ball.
The crowd screams with laughter.
Marlena stands in mock outrage, wagging her finger at Rosie.
She turns her back on her, folding her arms.
Rosie also stands and presents Marlena with her rear end
facing the other way. The audience loves it.
In that center ring, Rosie became a
guaranteed star attraction...
INT. ROSIE'S CAR - EN ROUTE - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
Jacob sits alone facing Rosie, in her massive stock car made
of steel, talking to her, in Polish...
Alone with me, telling her every
thing I couldn't tell anyone else,
she became the closest thing I had
INT. BIG TOP/MARLENA AND ROSIE'S ACT - FRIENDSHIP, NJ - DAY
Marlena looks back and scowls. With dramatic flair, she
raises one foot and places it on the small ball as if to say,
"Take that, elephant!"
Rosie, not to be out done (guided by August's Polish
commands) curls her trunk, lifts her foot and places it on
her larger ball.
Marlena straightens out both arms and extends her other leg,
like a ballerina's, toe pointed. She place the foot alongside
the other, so that she is now standing atop the ball.
Rosie waits a moment, then lifts her other front foot onto
The crowd explodes! August pretends to be outraged with
Marlena. But as showers of coins and money rain upon them,
August and Marlena stand beneath showers of glittering coins.
And August! Ha, August was a new
EXT. CIRCUS GROUNDS - ELMER, NJ - DAY
The workmen set up the circus with energy and renewed spirit.
August treating them with pats on the back of gratitude.
..treating everybody first class,
spreading the word his Rosie act
would finally get the men paid..
INT. KINKO'S ROOM - EN ROUTE - NIGHT
Jacob, Walter and a Camel enjoy a card game and moonshine.
..And with business so strong,
nobody was worried about getting
tossed, so we didn't have to worry
so much about old Camel.
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - FRIENDSHIP, NJ - DAY
August is filling a bucket with gin and ginger ale for Rosie.
And nothing was too good for Rosie.
When August found out she liked gin
and ginger ale, he made sure she
got both every day, treating her
like some favorite child...
INT. BIG TOP/MARLENA AND ROSIE'S ACT - SALEM, NJ - DAY
Marlena does a double take, then lifts up her finger as if to
say "I have an idea!". With a rising drum roll, she shuffles
her feet atop the ball, moving herself around the ring...
Rosie places all four of her feet onto the larger ball and
rolls herself around the ring...Marlena and Rosie go faster
and faster, along with the music...
THE CROWD GOES WILD....August takes Marlena's hand and kisses
it as they take their bows.
But I didn't trust the new August.
I kept waiting for the real one to
EXT. ROSIE'S CAR - SALEM, NJ - MORNING
Out of the darkness of the car, Rosie appears in the light,
being guided down the ramp by August, who gently pets her
trunk, whispering in her ear. Her ears flapping, she purrs
with affection. Jacob watches.
It was when I saw Rosie purring
under his touch as if nothing had
happened between them, that the
worst thought occurred to me.
INT. MARLENA AND AUGUST STATEROOM - EN ROUTE - NIGHT
Marlena and Jacob are laughing, listening to August telling a
story after a private dinner. Jacob glances at Marlena...
Maybe, I was the man not to be
Marlena moves to August's lap. They kiss...Jacob watches
JACOB (V.O.) (CONT'D)
Marlena looked happy...And it broke
The circus is nothing without it's
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - SALEM, NJ - DAY
August has gathered all the performers and trainers in a
circle. Jacob stands in the center. Marlena beside August.
..It's a family. And like any
family, when a new member is born,
it's arrival must be greeted with
celebration and gratitude. Now,
we've been a little busy with sold
out performances, thank the Gods..
..but right now I want to take this
moment before today's show to
gather together..We close our
Everyone closes their eyes.
..and we thank whoever's up there
that sends desperate men running
for the rails..
..because it was a lucky day when
Jacob Jankowski jumped our train.
Because of him - together with our
beautiful Rosie and my beloved
Marlena - we have the greatest star
attraction in Benzini Brother's
history. He found a way to save us
all. And so, to officially welcome
Jacob into the family, we open our
Everyone opens their eyes.
..And we give him the traditional
Benzini Brothers baptism.
SUDDENLY, EVERY CLOWN PULLS OUT A SELZTER BOTTLE AND DOUSES
JACOB..BARBARA AND ALL THE GIRLS THROW HALF A DOZEN PIES INTO
HIS FACE AND BODY. OTHERS THROW CONFETTI, STREAMERS...
Jacob is a mess, covered in pies, seltzer and confetti. The
company breaks up with laughter, applauds and cheers...Walter
and Barbara bring Jacob towels, embracing and kissing him.
The rest of the company follows suit.
August motions for Marlena, who retrieves a large mens
clothing box and carries it to Jacob as August watches from a
distance...The crowd parts as Marlena hands him the box.
August watches Jacob open the box to find his own TUXEDO.
Now you don't have to borrow mine.
Everyone applauds, hugging and kissing Jacob:
Thank you, August.
It's from both of us.
Jacob looks to Marlena. It is awkward between them. They
can't kiss each other. Jacob nods and says courteously;
Thank you, Marlena.
You're welcome, Jacob.
As Marlena exits with the others, we discover August watching
from them a distance;
August's expression tells us he knows what they are hiding.
EXT. BIG TOP - SALEM, NJ - DAY.
Marlena and Rosie exits the Big Top. We hear tumultuous
applause coming from inside. Jacob awaits them, as usual.
Jacob commands Rosie, who lifts Marlena off his back and
places her carefully on the ground. Jacob pets and commands
Rosie to follow him, but stops when:
I wonder if you could help me.
I've planned a surprise for August.
He's been so wonderful, don't you
Could you make sure Rosie is staked
in my tent after the show?
Thank you so much...Oh, and I'm
sure it would be nice for August if
you were there too.
Marlena turns and exits O.S. Jacob isn't sure what to think.
INT. MARLENA'S DRESSING TENT - SALEM, NJ - NIGHT
Rosie is staked into the grass inside Marlena's tent, happily
occupied with a pile of watermelons.
Marlena wears a silk beaded dress with the diamond necklace.
There is a serving table with silver domed platters and wine
bottles. Marlena is trying to open a champagne bottle when
Oh, he'll be here any second.
Jacob, can you open this for me?
Jacob takes the champagne bottle and manipulates the cork.
Rosie's trunk is curious, inspecting the bottle in Jacob's
hand. Jacob laughs. Marlena sees and laughs as well.
Rosie continues fooling around, causing Marlena and Jacob to
laugh even harder when the cork pops...
What is this?
Jacob and Marlena turn to see August enter, laying down his
hat and coat, his shirt unbuttoned at the top.
Jacob pours the champagne into two flutes, which Marlena
rushes up to August, handing him a glass and kissing him.
Did you show Jacob the opening
night present I gave you?
Marlena turns to Jacob and indicates the diamond necklace.
(indicating the necklace)
Oh. No...Do you see Jacob?
It looks stunning on you.
They kiss again. Marlena raises her glass of champagne.
To August - an authentic miracle
man because he made a star
attraction out of me.
August nods in gratitude. They tilt their glasses and drink.
Many thanks. Forgive me for
arriving too soon and spoiling the
August takes out a cigarette and lights it.
Don't be silly. I couldn't wait for
you to come.
I could go back out to give you
more time...or better yet, yell
RAID and clear the place out so you
two can be alone.
In a split second, Jacob and Marlena know the danger present.
August gave no sign of it coming.
I'm sorry. I'm probably wrong. I
assumed that night after the RAID
was the first time you two fucked,
but obviously it's been going on
longer than that.
Auggie, you're being silly.
Did you think I didn't know?
August don't do this!
Shut-up. SHUT UP!
Marlena gets frightened. August saunters over to the silver
tipped cane leaning against the flap. He picks it up as
Marlena and Jacob remain still. Suddenly they hear:
Rosie peeing where she is staked. She too is frightened.
How long did you think you could
keep this from me?
August, please, there's nothing-
GO ON! INTERRUPT ME ONE MORE TIME!
August swipes the tables with the cane, knocking all the
platters and glasses to the floor.
We should go!
WE!...So you two are a couple?
NO! I just don't think you're safe
to be around a woman right now.
A woman? This is not a woman. This
is my wife you Ivy League lying
piece of shit! Say, I bet the
authorities would like to know you
practise without a license.
Auggie, please... Don't you see how
much I love you?
I see you. I see you too clearly.
Always have. I have to admit that
was a nice touch when you got back
from the speakeasy. Being with me
in our bed, after being with him.
Covering your tracks. I should have
known a whore only performs for a
man like that when she wants
Marlena, come with me...
YOU DON'T EVEN DENY IT! LOUSY
Marlena drops the fluted glasses, crying:
STOP IT!..AUGGIE STOP IT..PLEASE!
Suddenly, he's quiet. He stands still. Marlena approaches him
now, cautiously but tenderly.
Auggie? Are you all right now?...
August looks at her. Marlena's expression is one of care and
concern. Jacob watches carefully. Has it passed?
Suddenly, August flicks his lit cigarette into Rosie's open
mouth - Rosie reacts and Jacob moves to help her - as August
grabs Marlena, shoving her so hard she falls against the
table, knocking it and her to the ground. He attacks her,
trying to rip off her diamond necklace.
Jacob attacks August, pulling him off of Marlena.
JACOB AND AUGUST FIGHT: savagely pounding each other's faces,
crashing against broken plates and spilled gravy, banging
their heads viciously against the ground, rolling over each
other as they alternately share domination...
Marlena screams for them to stop. Rosie bellows, pulling on
her leg chain.
The FIGHT SPILLS OUT OF THE TENT INTO THE CIRCUS GROUNDS.
EXT. MARLENA'S DRESSING TENT - CONTINUOUS - SALEM, NJ - NIGHT
Jacob and August continue beating each other as they roll out
into the crowd.
August's madness empowers him. He manages to overpower Jacob
in a choke hold. Jacob is losing consciousness.
Because of Marlena's screams - Earl and his men run to the
tent. Within seconds, they are pulling August off of Jacob.
August gets to his feet. His cool expression is even more
frightening as he re-enters Marlena's tent.
LET ME GO!! HE'LL KILL HER!!!
From inside the tent, they hear a crash. Marlena screams.
HE'S HURTING HER!!LET ME GO!
No he won't, kid. Come on.
Earl disperses the crowd that has gathered, which includes
Walter, who sees Jacob's bloodied face and goes to him.
FROM INSIDE THE TENT, THEY HEAR: Two soft thuds..then a
louder one...Then an unnerving silence.
See, it's over. Can we let you go?
Jacob pants and nods. Earl and one of his men let Jacob go in
degrees, until he is standing up. Walter holds his waist.
Come on Jacob. Walk away.
With Walter's help, he tears his eyes from the billowing flap
and walks away, passing rubes who watch with fascination.
INT. KINKO'S ROOM - SALEM, NJ - LATER THAT NIGHT
Walter uncorks a jug of moonshine and hands it to Jacob, who
holds a towel to his bloody, beaten face. Jacob drinks from
the jug, panting, until the pain subsides. Camel speaks from
behind the trunks.
The only thing that's keeping you
alive right now are the rubes who
saw everything. August can't risk
getting rid of you here. But you
better not get back on this train
when we leave tomorrow night.
What happened? Somebody turn me
around. Share some of that jug!
Well, what the hell...!
Camel uses whatever strength his has to push aside the trunk
and see bloody Jacob.
Jesus Christ! Who did that to you?
Is it true?
Jacob wants to deny it but his silence speaks the truth. He
can only manage to shake his head NO...But Walter can read
between the lines....He lowers his head in despair.
THE TRAIN STARTS TO MOVE. All three react with surprise.
Why are we moving? We have a
Something's gone wrong.
SUDDENLY, A KNOCK ON THE DOOR. The three men immediately are
on alert. Walter grabs his knife from beneath his pillow.
Camel tries to shove himself behind the trunks. THE KNOCK
COMES AGAIN as we hear:
Jacob? Jacob, it's Marlena.
They breath a sigh. Jacob opens the door to reveal.
Marlena with a black eye. Jacob rises to her.
I'm sorry. I had nowhere to go. I
told him I'm leaving him.
My God. Are you all right?
Looks worse than it feels.
(Re: Jacob's face, laughs)
Ha, look at the two of us.
Marlena awkwardly enters the room to Walter and Camel's
stares. She sees the moonshine and breaks the ice.
Can I have a swig of that?
Walter throws her the moonshine. Marlena drinks like a pro.
Why is the train moving?
Marlena sits with the jug, casually talking:
We're being run out. Apparently,
August was so optimistic about
money coming in for Rosie, he
figured he'd double down and find
himself a new fat lady to put him
really toe to toe with
Ringling...So he sent Mr. Erwin
into town who finds this rather
large woman in a restaurant and
offers her the job. Except, she...
...she was the police chief's wife.
Mr. Erwin got a left hook in the
jaw and we got til morning to get
out of town.
This cracks everybody up. Laughter. A release of tension.
But the laughter turns to quiet sadness as the reality of
their situation sinks in....Marlena looks to Jacob and leans
into his arms. He holds her, clearly in love, then ushers her
out of the room for privacy.
Walter sees what he knew all along. He kisses Queenie:
Aw girl. We're all in it now.
INT. RING STOCK CAR - EN ROUTE - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
Marlena and Jacob exit Walter's room outside of which Marlena
placed her small suitcase. They pass by Marlena's horses..
Why are you hiding that roustabout?
Because Blackie and his men don't
work the performer train and
they'll red-light him if they find
him. He can't work anymore.
They come upon Silver Star's stall - empty - right before the
door to the next car. They stop.
Does August know where you are?
No. He thinks I'm with Barbara and
the girls. He won't go there.
He can't find you. As soon as we
stop - before we stop - we'll jump
off and I'll take you to a hotel in
And after that? August has all our
money. Where will I go?
Marlena, I'm not leaving you. We'll
find a way together. I won't let
you go back to him. I promise.
Marlena smiles, needing to hear him say those words. She
embraces him, grateful. Jacob holds her tight, assuring;
..I'll call my dean at Cornell..If
I can take my finals again, get my
degree, I can get my license.
They lay in the Silver Star's empty stall. Moonlit through
the wooden slats. Making plans...
Oh Jacob, that would be wonderful.
You know, I bet Ringling would take
us both then - they'd be getting a
vet and a star attraction - that's
a sweet deal for them. Although I
won't be a star but I don't care.
I'll take no billing at all...We'd
be safe from August if we were with
Don't worry about him.
Of course, I'd have to wait a while
until I can work again...
What do you mean?
Jacob...I'm going to have a baby.
Jacob is stunned...then confused...
It's yours. Please don't ask me how
I know...Is it all right? You can
change your mind. I'd understand.
Overwhelmed, Jacob keeps kissing her. Marlena lets go of all
the anxiety she had about him. He loves her. She knows it.
Change my mind??? Oh Marlena,
please...please be happy.
I will...I promise...as soon as I
stop being terrified.
Jacob kisses her. He guides her to the ground, against the
hay. She nestles in his arms.
I'm so tired.
Rest...I've got you now.
Marlena tries, closing her eyes.....Then, without warning;
FROM THE ROOF, AUGUST, BLACKIE & HIS MEN JUMP IN THROUGH THE
OPEN STOCK CAR DOOR. THEY CHARGE INTO THE ROOM CAUSING THE
HORSES TO PANIC. THE THUGS DRAG JACOB AWAY FROM MARLENA,
BEATING HIM. AUGUST FORCIBLY TAKES MARLENA, HITTING HER...
DON'T HURT HIM!!!AUGUST NO!! MARLENA! MARLENA!...
AS BLACKIE AND HIS MEN DRAG JACOB PAST WALTER'S MAKESHIFT
DOOR, JACOB FIGHTS EVEN HARDER TO PULL THEM AWAY FROM
BREAKING INTO WALTER AND CAMEL'S ROOM.
FAST CUT TO:
INT. KINKO'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS - BRONX
Kinko sits against the door, holding a trembling Queenie
hearing the screams and struggle. Camel quivers in fear
behind the trunks.
FAST CUT BACK:
INT. RING STOCK CAR - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
AUGUST IS DRAGGING A SCREAMING MARLENA THROUGH THE DOOR TO
THE PLATFORM - TAKING HER THROUGH THE TRAIN BACK TO HIS CAR.
BLACKIE BEATS JACOB WHO CRIES OUT FOR MARLENA'S SAFETY,
HOLDING ONTO THE OPEN CAR DOORS. THE MEN BANG HIS HANDS WITH
THEIR FISTS UNTIL JACOB LOSES HIS GRIP AND BLACK TOSSES HIM
OFF THE FAST MOVING TRAIN.
EXT. TRAIN TRACKS - GRAVEL/GROUND - NIGHT
JACOB ROLLS DOWN THE GRAVEL. BLACKIE AND HIS MEN JUMP OFF THE
TRAIN AND RUN TOWARDS HIM. JUST AS JACOB GETS TO HIS FEET,
THE MEN REACH HIM - AND BEGIN TO BEAT HIM.
WITH A SINGLE BLOW TO THE BACK OF HIS HEAD, JACOB IS THROWN
EXT. WOODS/STREAM - ALLENTOWN, PA - LATER THAT NIGHT
A heavy rain pours. A bloodied, battered Jacob is semi-
conscious face down in a stream in the woods.
Jacob, his eyes almost swollen shut, wakes out of
unconsciousness. He looks up through blurred vision.
Through the trees, he can see A DISTANT FLICKERING RED LIGHT.
He stands. His knees buckle and he crawls out to the ground.
He stands again. And he walks out of the woods towards the
He stumbles and falls. He rises and fumbles forward...using
all his strength to get himself out of the woods.
EXT. CLEARING TO TRAIN TRACKS - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
Jacob struggles out of the woods to a clearing. Squinting
through the rain with swollen eyes, he sees:
THE FLICKERING RED LIGHT IS A SIGNAL LIGHT ON A TRAIN TRACK.
He walks, with legs barely able to move. He climbs up the
gravel to the train tracks and begins to walk...
EXT. TRAIN TRACKS - PRE DAWN
Jacob is walking on the train tracks in the direction of
Marlena's train. He has walked all night and into the day.
EXT. TRAIN TRACKS - A PENNSYLVANIA TOWN - DAY
Jacob - beaten, bloodied, exhausted - looks up ahead:
THE BENZINI BROS. TRAIN and THE BIG TOP TENTS already set up.
EXT. CIRCUS GROUNDS - A PENNSYLVANIA TOWN - DAY
It's pre-matinee. All the tents have been set up. The rubes
are filling the grounds. The midway is packed with people.
EXT. TRAIN - BEHIND THE CIRCUS GROUNDS - CONTINUOUS - DAY
Nell is sitting by an open window fanning herself from the
heat when she sees:
Jacob wandering behind the back of the train where no one can
see him....Nell watches as Jacob tries to reach the train,
then falls unconscious.
Nell quickly brings Barbara to the window. Barbara sees Jacob
and immediately takes charge.
Camera tracks Barbara and the girls through the windows, as
they walk through the car...Barbara is organizing a plan with
EXT. CIRCUS GROUNDS - CONTINUOUS - DAY
Nell and two Coochie Girls hold their robes closed as they
walk among the crowd. The Coochie girls head for Blackie and
his security men...They talk to them to distract them.
We see Nell approach Walter in full clown make-up doing
tricks with Queenie for the crowd. Nell whispers to Walter.
His expression tells us what we know.
EXT. TRAIN - BEHIND THE CIRCUS GROUNDS - DAY
Barbara and the Tattooed Man sneak to the fallen Jacob with a
blanket. They turn him over, shocked by his condition.
Jacob's eyes open - he's delirious.
Poor Kid...Help me with him..
(delirious to Tattoo man)
Don't you work the matinee?
Not today. I'm fading. I gotta re-
Jacob nods. They cover him, pick him up and carry him off.
INT. KINKO'S ROOM - TRAIN EN ROUTE - NIGHT
Jacob opens his eyes. Walter is applying wet cloths to his
head. Camel watches nearby. Jacob suddenly rises;
Sshh. Lie back.
Where is she? Did he hurt her?
I don't know. Your pupils are two
Jacob pushes himself up onto his elbows but his world spins.
I have to get Marlena. What if he--
Jacob, look at me. You've got a
concussion and you're on a moving
train. There's nothing you can do.
Marlena can handle him. She's done
it for years...
I have to get her.
Jacob, you can't.
She's going to have a baby.
Walter is stopped. Camel shakes his head.
Does August know?
(Jacob shakes his head)
What have you done to us?
We're going to Ringling. Me,
Marlena. You can too.
I'm a fifth rate clown when second
rate circuses are folding all over
the place. Doesn't put me on top
of Ringling's list. They've got a
dozen of me in the wings. I
couldn't even go if I wanted to.
August won't pay anyone. Says the
show's debts have to come first.
First time in Benzini Bros history
performers haven't been paid.
People are starving out there,
Jacob. In the United States of
America. Starving. Where am I going
What about family? Like my son.
Gotta have somebody...a mother.
Not a woman I have any use for.
She's sold me to this outfit when I
She sold you?
I'm not exactly cut out for farm
work. Don't worry about me..
..If you and Marlena go, if August
doesn't kill you first - I'll know
what to do...I'll tell August how
well I got to know you and how I
can help him find you. Might even
get myself a better room out of the
bargain... It won't be anything
personal, you understand.
Beat. Each wants the other to survive at any cost.
Do whatever you have to, Walter.
You too, Jacob.
They exchange a final look, which is a goodbye. Walter turns
away from Jacob, holding Queenie to his chest.
Camel looks compassionately at Jacob and says:
Ya poor kid. The night this train
passed ya...you shoulda kept on
running, I guess.
INT. KINKO'S ROOM - EN ROUTE - LATER THAT NIGHT
Camel and Walter are snoring, asleep with their backs to
Jacob. Queenie is asleep, nestled in Walter's arms.
Jacob struggles to raise himself up. His world spins. He
holds tight to the bedroll, until the spinning subsides.
Jacob is a man with a mission. His eyes focus on: Walter's
Knife, sticking out from beneath Walter's pillow.
EXT. ROOF OF TRAIN - EN ROUTE - NIGHT
The train is moving fast. The rain has returned.
Jacob is making his way towards the back of the train, as it
moves forward. He holds the knife in his mouth...moving like
a tightrope walker over the wet train roof, as rain pours.
When he reaches the car's end, he takes a deep breath. With
all his strength, he leaps across the divide between the cars
and lands, clinging to the top rail, panting like a dog.
He removes the knife from his mouth, having cut his lip. He
licks the blood back and replaces the knife, this time
keeping his lips retracted.
JACOB MAKES HIS WAY ACROSS SIX CARS...LEAPING FROM CAR TO CAR
BY LANDING ON THE ROOF, GETTING TO HIS KNEES THEN TO HIS FEET
AND MOVING ON TO THE NEXT...
EXT. ATOP MARLENA AND AUGUST'S STATEROOM CAR - NIGHT
Jacob leaps to the roof of Marlena and August's car. At this
moment, the train is making a curve.
Jacob climbs down over the side ladder. Beyond him, we see:
THE TRAIN IS TRAVERSING OVER A TRESTLE, FORTY YARDS ABOVE THE
BOULDERS OF A RIVERBANK ILLUMINATED BY MOONLIGHT.
Jacob jumps to the platform. He can see the rocky waters far
below the trestle. He catches his breath and waits, as the
train straightens out onto land again.
Jacob turns the knob of the door to the stateroom, slowly,
hearing a click, pausing, then opening it.
INT. MARLENA AND AUGUST STATEROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
Jacob enters the stateroom, leaving the door open. He creeps
towards the velvet curtain which is closed. He grips the
knife. When he reaches it, he pulls the edge and peeks
August is asleep on his side, his arms locked around Marlena,
who is awake facing the curtain.
Jacob and Marlena's eyes meet. She sees the knife in his hand
August suddenly moves, pulls Marlena closer to his chest,
burying his face in her neck.
Jacob steps forward, raising the knife. His hands tremble.
The moonlight glints off the blade, throwing off light.
Marlena is looking up at him, tears in her eyes. She subtly
shakes her head "NO"...She doesn't want him to do this.
Jacob's hands are shaking now. The knife gripped in his hand.
He wants to rescue her, he's so close. We hold the moment...
Marlena's expression convinces Jacob not to do it...not to
cross that line and kill August.
Defeated, Jacob kneels beside her and hangs his head. Marlena
reaches out to touch him...this time she really is saying
goodbye. But Jacob can not bear it. He looks at her for the
last time, then rises and exits.
INT. RING STOCK CAR - EN ROUTE - LATER THAT NIGHT
Jacob returns to the ring stock car, hopping down from the
roof. The Horses are stirring, agitated. He calms them...
And then Jacob sees: the door to Walter's room is open. He
INT. KINKO'S ROOM/ RING STOCK CAR - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
Jacob enters to find the room in a shambles. A terrible
realization comes over him:
Walter and Camel are gone. They have been red-lighted.
He finds Queenie, shaking with fear curled in a ball. He
takes her in his arms. Jacob panics.
With Queenie, he rushes back into the ring stock car...he
checks everywhere calling out their names. He stops at the
open stock car door. The rain continues to fall. Jacob
collapses, holding Queenie to his chest. Tears fill his eyes
as he tries to hold it together, looking out the moving
train, his worst nightmare realized.
POV; IN THE DISTANCE, THE TRESTLE THE TRAIN PASSED OVER
JACOB (V.O.) (CONT'D)
I wanted to believe taking Walter's
knife didn't make a difference. But
still. I left him without a
fighting chance. Maybe they
survived. Maybe they were tossed
over grassy land...I couldn't let
myself believe what I already knew.
Jacob falls apart, crying without shame.
EXT. CIRCUS GROUNDS - ALTOONA, PA - LATE MORNING
A sunny day. The circus is completely set up. Townsfolk,
rubes, are already buying tickets for the matinee.
I waited almost til matinee time so
I could let myself be seen by as
many people from town.
EXT. RING STOCK CAR - CONTINUOUS - ALTOONA, PA - LATE MORNING
Jacob opens the ring stock car and jumps out, holding
Queenie. He hasn't slept all night.
As he walks through the circus grounds, working men like Greg
and performers like Barbara are shocked to see him alive.
With a fool's courage, he brazenly walks past Blackie and his
men, cutting a path through performers and working men, right
up to August, who stands with Earl at his side. He is dressed
and ready for the matinee's performance.
Jacob stops and they exchange looks. August glances at
Queenie in Jacob's arms. He says nothing.
I'm not here to cause any trouble.
Funny, I thought you already left.
I'd like to say goodbye. To the
menagerie. Just a few minutes and
then I'll go.
August's eyes narrow. Earl waits for the outcome.
There's nothing more you can do to
me. Killing me'll be more trouble
than it's worth, now that the rubes
have seen me. You were right about
me from the start August, when you
said I wouldn't last...I can't
I am nothing.
August feels victorious and therefore benevolent.
Earl, take him to the menagerie.
Thirty seconds. Then escort him out
of my circus, into Altoona. And if
he comes back, you can shoot him,
as that is within our lawful rights
with regards to trespassers.
August walks away. Earl escorts Jacob to the menagerie. On
the way, they pass Barbara. Jacob pauses to hand Queenie to
her. She has tears in her eyes. Jacob continues with Earl.
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - MOMENTS LATER - ALTOONA, PA - DAY
Jacob enters alone. He takes in all the animals who look back
at him. He crosses to Rosie and stands before her. Her trunk
greets him, stroking him. He presses his head against her.
Rosie comforts him. It makes Jacob fall apart all the more...
After a few moments, Jacob turns and walks away. He stops in
the center of the menagerie. He looks at each animal in their
den - in the same way as when he first met them - this time
Each animal is at the front of it's den or cage, looking at
Jacob. There is a silent exchange between them. Earl enters.
Come on kid.
When Jacob starts to exit again, something happens:
ALL THE ANIMALS BEGIN BANGING AGAINST THEIR CAGES AND SHAKING
THEIR BARS OR STOMPING THEIR FEET, SCREECHING OR ROARING OR
BELLOWING, AS IF IN PROTEST OF THEIR JACOB'S DEPARTURE.
The lock on Rex's cage busts a little as he rams against it.
EXT. SIDESHOW TENTS/MIDWAY - ALTOONA, PA - DAY
As Earl escorts Jacob, they walk against the tide of audience
members walking to the Big Top entrance. Earl speaks low.
It's good you're going. They must
have known you got back on the
train last night. He tossed more
than half a dozen working men.
Kinkers never get tossed. Never. So
that was meant for you.
We hear the GOUNOD WALTZ starting in the Big Top.
A few of the guys that got tossed
caught up with us again.
Walter! Is he---?
Instantly, Earl's expression tells Jacob it's bad news.
Jacob's breathing almost stops as he listens;
Keep walking...They got tossed off
the trestle, if you can believe it.
Camel's head hit the rocks. He died
Jacob is heartbroken and dreads what he's about to hear. Earl
pauses for a beat...this part is harder to tell:
...Walter...Walter's legs were
smashed up real bad..They had to
They don't reckon he lasted the
Jacob is in shock. He can barely walk on...
The ones that came back...Bill...
Grady.. I don't know how but, one
way or another they're taking down
Hearing this, Jacob stops to face Earl.
Why are you telling me?
Earl can not find the words: it's clear the killing of these
men does not sit well with him.
SUDDENLY, WE HEAR THE BIG TOP MUSIC COME TO A CRASHING HALT,
FOLLOWED BY AN UNGODLY COLLISION OF BRASS THAT FINISHES WITH
A CYMBAL'S HOLLOW CLANG.
Earl shifts his focus - he's alarmed.
Earl, what was that?
All the performers and work men on the midway are on alert.
WE HEAR THE BIG TOP BAND START PLAYING AGAIN...THIS TIME IT'S
"STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER".
Oh Christ! Oh Shit...
Earl runs back towards the Big Top.
What is it?
The Disaster March!
Everyone with the show barrels towards the Big Top when Greg
appears amongst them and calls to Jacob:
JACOB! IT'S THE MENAGERIE!! THE
ANIMALS ARE LOOSE.
JACOB RUNS THROUGH THE PANICKED CROWD, THE GROUND RUMBLING
BENEATH HIS FEET...THE SOUNDS OF HOOVES ON HARD DIRT.
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT
Jacob shoots through the tent flap and is immediately flung
up against the sidewall as:
THE YAK THUNDERS PAST HIM, HIS HORN INCHES FROM JACOB, THE
HYENA ON HIS BACK. Jacob looks to the menagerie and faces;
A FULL FLEDGED STAMPEDE:
- ALL THE ANIMAL DENS ARE OPEN.
- CREATURES OF EVERY SORT...CHIMP, ORANGUTAN, LLAMAS, ZEBRA,
LION, GIRAFFE, CAMEL AND HORSES... RUN IN A MAD TERROR AS
THEY SCREECH, SCREAM, SWING, WHINY AND ROAR...
- MONKEYS ARE SWINGING ON ROPES, SLITHERING UP POLES
- THE CENTER CONCESSION STAND IS CRUSHED UNDER FOOT.
- A TOWERING POLAR BEAR SLASHES WITH HIS SKILLET-SIZED PAWS,
MAKING CONTACT WITH THE LLAMA, KNOCKING IT FLAT.
Jacob is scanning the tent for Marlena when:
- THE ORANGUTAN RUNS THROUGH THE STAMPEDE DIRECTLY TO JACOB
AND CLUTCHES ONTO JACOB'S LEG. JACOB MOVES TO PICK HER UP
WHEN BOBO SWINGS FROM A ROPE AND JUMPS ONTO JACOB'S BACK.
Jacob manages to hold Bobo in one arm and the Orangutan in
the other as his eyes sweep the tent, searching for Marlena:
Then Jacob sees - THE PANTHER MAKES IT'S WAY THROUGH THE
CONNECTED WALKWAY TO THE BIG TOP AUDIENCE.
- SECONDS LATER, AUDIENCE SCREAMS OF TERROR ARE HEARD. THE
CROWD EXPLODES THROUGH THE BIG TOP, TRAMPLING OVER FELLOW
AUDIENCE MEMBERS...THEY CHARGE INTO THE MENAGERIE ONLY TO
FACE THE STAMPEDE..
- THE MASS OF ANIMALS CHANGE DIRECTIONS AND THERE IS AN INTER-
SPECIES FLOCK; LIONS, LLAMAS AND ZEBRAS RUNNING SIDE BY SIDE
WITH THE CHIMPS AND ORANGUTANS..A HYENA SHOULDER TO SHOULDER
WITH A TIGER...TWELVE HORSES AND A GIRAFFE WITH A SPIDER
MONKEY ON IT'S NECK...THE POLAR BEAR NOW ON ALL FOURS,
CHARGING...ALL OF THEM HEADING FOR THE CROWD OF PEOPLE...
- THE CROWD SHIFTS, RIOTING BACK INTO THE BIG TOP. CLOGGING
THE ENTRANCE...PEOPLE BANGING ON THE BACKS OF THOSE IN FRONT
- THE CLOG BURSTS. PEOPLE AND ANIMALS FLEE IN EVERY
- A BENGAL TIGER FORCES ITSELF BETWEEN A WOMAN'S LEGS,
SWEEPING HER TO THE GROUND...
Searching and dodging animals, Jacob sees a flash of pink
sequins. He sees August with Marlena standing beside him, in
front of Rosie.
Marlena sees Jacob and makes a run for him, but August
quickly grabs her arm and flings her to the ground. She falls
out of view from Jacob.
Jacob runs to them, dodging the fleeing animals, when
suddenly: A BULL HOOK FLIES FROM OUT OF THE AIR ACROSS THE
ANIMALS AND PIERCES JACOB'S SHOULDER. He cries out.
Rosie cries out. She begins to stamp her feet. Marlena lies
with her face in the dirt, crawling beneath the ropes to get
under Rosie for safety.
August pulls Jacob with a new bull hook, tossing him the
ground. August glares at him, his eyes full of rage;
YOU! YOU DID THIS!!
He attacks but Jacob dodges the next blow, grabbing onto the
bull hook and twisting it with such strength, it topples
August who refuses to let it go...
JACOB AND AUGUST FIGHT SAVAGELY, AMIDST THE STAMPEDE. Like
madmen fighting with the intention to kill.
Jacob unleashes a rage and a strength we have yet to see in
him, as he beats August without mercy...
But August manages to overpower Jacob, unleashing his own
maniacal fury. By taking advantage of the bull hook wound,
August gets Jacob into a death grip around his neck.
Marlena screams out, unable to help as animals stampede
around the two men locked in combat.
Only Rosie, who towers above them, knows what to do.
Jacob, choking under August's grip, looks up at Rosie. She
raises her trunk to smile at him. Jacob looks down and sees
that ROSIE'S STAKE HAS BEEN PULLED OUT OF THE GROUND.
Jacob fights August to breathe as Rosie reveals she is
holding the stake loosely, resting it's end on the dirt. The
chain still attached to her foot.
Jacob flips himself which forces August to turn his back on
Rosie in order to keep his grip on Jacob.
Marlena covers her head in her arms, not wanting to see.
Jacob can not breathe..August is squeezing the life from him
Rosie lifts the stake as if it weighs nothing and brings it
down onto August, splitting his head in one clean move. She
continues to hold the stake until August topples forward,
dead, his skull opened like a hardboiled egg..
Released of August, Jacob rolls himself under the ropes just
A HERD OF ZEBRAS RUN PAST, CRUSHING AUGUST BENEATH THEM.
Rosie then slides the stake back to the ground. Marlena, head
hidden under her arms, sees nothing. The menagerie is clear
of the stampeding animals.
Marlena lifts her head up from beneath her arms, remaining
under Rosie. She sees August lifeless body. She looks to
Jacob. He rises, bloodied and beaten, but alive.
WIDE ANGLE: The empty menagerie except for: Jacob standing,
Marlena under Rosie and the two monkeys inspecting August's
EXT. RESTAURANT - ALTOONA, PA - DAY
The polar bear is walking calmly down main street.
It took days to round them up. Some
we never did get back.
INT. HOUSE - CHILDREN'S ROOM - ALTOONA, PA - DAY
Two Children are delighted that a GIRAFFE is eating from
their second story window.
INT. RESTAURANT - ALTOONA, PA - DAY
Camera discovers a DISHWASHER and REX THE LION, both
quivering, huddled opposite each under beneath a sink.
I don't know who was more scared -
the rubes or the animals.
EXT. NESCI BROS. TRAIN - CIRCUS GROUNDS - ALTOONA, PA - DAY
THE NESCI BROS. CIRCUS TRAIN is pulling up alongside the
"ghost town" of the Benzini Bros - the ruins of the circus
are highlighted by strong winds blowing up dust and dirt.
When the Nesci Bros. Circus showed,
we were officially belly up.
A MAN SCREAMS after unrolling a canvas and making a discovery
inside. A crowd forms. When Jacob reaches it, he sees:
BLACKIE, DEAD, WITH A MAKESHIFT GARROTTE AROUND HIS NECK.
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - ALTOONA, PA - DAY
DICK NESCI and the Sheriff fight with Jacob over Rosie...
...These animals are now the
property of Altoona and we're here
to sell them to Mr. Nesci.
Not all of them! Some of these
animals are mine, like this bull.
Do you have any proof?
Jacob is stalled. Greg appears.
He's right. He's just an elephant
tramp. The bull is his.
You don't want her anyway. She
can't do anything. Dumb as a box of
Skeptical, Dick Nesci steps up to Rosie.
What's her name?
Jacob and Rosie exchange eye contact. Nesci is skeptical.
Gertrude! Gertrude, step up! UP!
Rosie blows and swings her trunk, throwing dirt across the
people around her.
Dick Nesci takes the bull hook and prods under her leg,
ordering her UP! Rosie just swings her ears and sniffs Dick
Nesci with her trunk. Then checks his pockets for treats.
Jacob exchanges a look with Rosie.
EXT. CIRCUS GROUNDS - ALTOONA, PA - LATER - DAY.
Jacob is walking Rosie, holding the Orangutan, with Bobo
atop Rosie. Through the wind and dust, they look for Marlena.
FROM OUT OF A WALL OF WIND BLOWN DUST APPEARS MARLENA AND SIX
OF HER BLACK AND WHITE HORSES. Marlena looks spent - shocked,
relieved, tearful, hopeful. She reaches Jacob.
What happens now?
I wish I knew.
Marlena exhausted, eases into Jacob's arms. It's over.
WIDE ANGLE: Jacob and Marlena and their animals, as the giant
tent of the Benzini Bros. Big Top falls to the ground.
INT. CHARLIE'S TRAILER - PRESENT DAY - NIGHT
Jacob is finishing his story. Charlie is enthralled. The
first bottle of scotch is gone. The second half full.
I convinced my dean to let me take
my finals. Marlena was right. With
my degree, our animals and
Marlena's acts, Ringling got a
sweet deal. Our son was born our
first season. We named him Walter.
He spent the first seven years of
his life with Ringling.
That's why I...I just can't
understand how he forgot to show up
(His eyes glitter
There was a circus in town.
Charlie understands. He looks affectionately at Jacob.
By the time our third son came,
we'd had enough. Rosie was tired.
(Charlie smiles. )
Luckily, the vet at the Albany Zoo
dropped dead, so I got the job.
We bought some property so we could
keep the horses...Rosie...then five
kids...Bobo and that
Orangutan...Never named that
Orangutan. Nothing ever sounded..
elegant enough for her. Just called
(Smiles with great joy)
Man oh man that was...that was a
life, boy, I'll tell ya...
Charlie smiles, appreciating this old man's big life.
And then before you know it, the
kids are borrowing the car and
moving out. Marlena and I on our
own again...until she passed.
This moment causes Jacob to pause. He still loves her.
I never told Marlena it was Rosie
who got August. I didn't want her
to know. When Rosie passed on, she
cried for days. I owe that bull my
whole life...my kids, everything..
A KNOCK. Charlie peeks through the window and sees a COP:
It's the heat.
They're here for me.
Charlie and Jacob exchange a look. Charlie understands.
INT/EXT. TRAILER DOOR - MOMENTS LATER - NIGHT
Charlie opens the door to greet a LOCAL COP.
Hi Officer, can I help you?
Yes, I'm hoping you can. An elderly
gentleman went missing from the
nursing home down the street. Staff
seems to think he came here.
We had a lot of folks from the home
today. But no, I haven't seen him.
The Cop peers past Charlie and sees Jacob.
Excuse me, but who is that?
Oh....that's my Dad.
The Cop is suspicious. Charlie covers:
He can't talk. Had a major stroke a
few years back. But he's doing
well. Ain't ya Pop?
Understanding the ruse, Jacob starts to play the part of a
stroke victim: he opens his mouth, his jaw quivers. He
reaches for his glass with a shaking arm. Charlie helps him.
Jacob holds out his tongue like a parrot's as Charlie helps
him drink. The Cop watches with a blank expression. Jacob
swallows and nods speechless, smiles and manages to drool.
Beat. The Cop wonders. Then, pulling out his card:
OK, well, thanks for your time.
Here's my number in case you hear
of anything. Sorry to bother you.
The Cop exits. Charlie returns to sit opposite Jacob. They
consider this unspoken proposal:
You sure about this?
Beat as Charlie pours another shot. Then:
I wonder if we can get you into the
book of records. "Oldest man who
ever ran away with the circus".
Nah, I'm not running away. Just
INT. MENAGERIE TENT - PRESENT DAY - NIGHT
Old Jacob uses his walker to enter the menagerie. He moves to
each animal meeting his eyes with theirs. Each animal gives
him a look of acknowledgment.
He comes to an ORANGUTAN...younger than the one from his
Benzini days. Jacob stops. He steadies himself.
Jacob lets go of the walker and reaches his arm out to the
The Orangutan studies him for a moment. Judging.
Jacob keeps his arm extended, which isn't easy for him.
The Orangutan then extends his hand through the bars to
Jacob's fingers entwine around the Orangutan's hand. They
hold for a moment. Jacob smiles.
Thank you, Ma'am.