Shooting Draft: 9.14.2004
EXT. A BODY OF WATER - LATE AFTERNOON
A glimpse of sunlight desperately tries to force its way
through a gray sky before being obliterated.
A MAN, sunburned and bearded, lets himself fall from the edge
of a boat and into the ocean.
UNDERWATER, through shafts of light, white limbs are
FLAILING. The MAN struggles, alone. Bubbles stream upward.
He breaks the surface and gasps for air.
He begins to swim. His massive arms and shoulders grab at the
tide in large, hard strokes. His legs and feet are buried
beneath the dark ocean water.
EXT. HOUSEBOAT - CONTINUOUS
A floating tenement.
A crane LOWERS a fishing net into the water. The MAN swims
into it. The net is RAISED as he lays, motionless, within its
EXT. BOAT DECK - CONTINUOUS 3
The crane swings around with the MAN in the net.
He is EMPTIED out onto the deck like a fish.
AHIVERING on the rotting wooden planks he FLIPS himself over
on his stomach. Slowly, using the palms of his hands, he
DRAGS his trunk and withered limbs across the deck in a
He uses his chest muscles to swing his legs around the edge
of the boat. They dangle like pieces of rope, his feet white
A towel, a bottle and a glass are wordlessly placed next to
him by a CREW PERSON. He pours himself a generous amount of
scotch and begins drinking.
INT. HOTEL SUITE - NIGHT 4
The same MAN is illuminated by the light of a single candle.
He is dancing, holding on tightly to a WOMAN.
Though the light is dim it is clear that he is clean shaven,
with his hair neatly trimmed.
Their connection is powerful and alive. They stop dancing,
overwhelmed with mutual desire.
He holds the WOMAN's face in his hands and KISSES it all
over, moving into a realm of feeling that is foreign to him.
He kisses her passionately on the mouth.
Oh, my dear...
His fingers run softly over the outside of her breasts. She
begins to undo the back of her dress and slips it down around
her ankles. Wearing only her tight corset she brings his
hands to the laces and together they undo it.
It's all right, darling. It's all
INT. HALLWAY - MORNING
OSCAR, a manservant, is carrying both a silver tray and a
pair of pants over his extended arm.
A VOICE (O.S.)
Oscar! Where the devil are you?
Deftly, Oscar opens the door to a spacious bedroom.
My apologies, Mr. Roosevelt.
INT. BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS
There with his bare legs, muscular and lean, sporting black
socks held up with garters is FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, 39.
He projects a natural elegance and the confidence of a man
who can have anything he wants.
Right now... he wants his pants.
I've been standing here for five minutes.
Oscar offers the tray to Franklin which bear cuff links and a
Tiffany watch which Franklin grabs.
Did you sleep well, sir?
Don't remember. That's good, isn't it?
Franklin takes his pants from Oscar and steps into them,
pulling the suspenders up and over his shoulders.
INT. DINING ROOM - MORNING
Striding into the dining room, Franklin lifts a silver lid
off a breakfast plate. He dismisses it and instead pours
himself a cup of coffee from a silver pot on the sideboard.
He overhears a voice from the nearby sitting room.
I could not be more delighted to have
received your most charming letter.
It has been far too long since we last
corresponded. However, it is with
great reluctance I must decline your
kind speaking invitation...
INT. SITTING ROOM - CONTINUOUS
ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, 34, is dictating a letter. Her enormous
eyes, liquid and blue, reveal a woman of extraordinary
intelligence and depth.
Unfortunately, I would be of little
assistance to the Junior Assistance
League. Particularly if my purpose
were to appear as an alumna who is
gifted at public speaking.
She is dictating to LUCY MERCER, 27, deeply feminine with a
head of soft dark hair and an accommodating nature. She is
Eleanor's social secretary and closest friend.
She is also the WOMAN dancing with Franklin the night before.
And what do you really want me to say?
Thank you and if you ask again I
They share a laugh -- which is not shared by the homely
rumpled mess of a man draped over a sofa in the corner.
Why don't you ask your husband for
some pointers? He's a pretty gifted
public speaker, don't you think?
LOUIS HOWE, 48, is a wizened man of limited stature and
unlimited soul. Franklin's political advisor extraordinaire --
part consiglieri and part priest. He is the mastermind behind
what he believes will be the greatest political career of the
He gets up and leans in closely to Eleanor. A cigarette dangles
off his lip and the smoke rises up and curls in her face.
You should get out once in a while.
Accepting that invitation would be
good for Franklin's career.
Mr. Howe, wouldn't you be more
comfortable waiting for my husband
In the street, Mrs. Roosevelt?
If you like.
Eleanor smiles oh-so politely at Louis, as Franklin enters
from the dining room.
I see it's not even eight a.m.
and already the gloves are off.
(kissing Eleanor on the
Good morning, Babs. Hello, Miss
Good morning, sir.
Quickly, she lowers her eyes to her work.
You're late. Honestly, why do you
enjoy keeping people waiting?
Because they always seem more
grateful to see me when I arrive.
He leans in and kisses Eleanor on the cheek.
Have a lovely day, Babs.
Should I expect you for dinner?
I have the Navy reception this
evening. I'll be home quite late.
Unless you've changed your mind
Louis looks up from his paper at Lucy who is writing
Do you wish me to come?
Well... whatever you'd like.
Thank you, no.
Very well then.
(tipping his hat)
Good day, Miss Mercer.
Lucy nods and Franklin exits. Then Louis tips his hat to the
ladies and follows him out.
EXT. WASHINGTON, D.C. SIDEWALK - DAY
A car pulls over and Franklin is first out, followed by
Louis, walking at a brisk pace as they cross the opposite
side of the street. Louis struggles to keep up while
consulting a small appointment book.
At ten you've got a meeting with
representatives from Pittsburgh
Steel. Their bid on the ship
building contract has already been
turned in and is on your desk for
What did I think of it?
An AFRICAN-AMERICAN man steps off the curb, letting Franklin
and Louis pass.
You had some problems with it.
I better read it. Steel workers
tend to vote democratic. Next.
Lunch with Secretary Daniels.
He's your boss.
What if she'd said yes?
Louis shoots him a look that says "you know who."
People know. It's time to stop.
I can handle my own affairs, Louis.
Not this one. This is Washington,
D.C., not the Harvard Club.
(off-put by Franklin's
How can you be so cavalier?
You say that like it's a bad thing.
Louis takes a quick last drag on his cigarette and follows
him inside a building.
INT. FRONT HALL - NIGHT
A large grandfather clock reads 3:00.
The sound of a key in the front door turns and Franklin
quietly enters. His hair is a mess and his clothing is
As he comes through the hall two eyes shine in the darkness.
They belong to Eleanor sitting rigidly on a settee, listening
to the sound of Franklin's footsteps going up the stairs.
INT. UPPER LANDING - CONTINUING
Franklin goes into his bedroom. Eleanor quietly comes up the
stairs and stops for a brief moment by Franklin's door, then
goes off to her bedroom closing the door behind her.
INT. FRANKLIN'S BEDROOM - EARLY MORNING
Franklin lays sleeping in his bed as Eleanor enters quietly
so as not to wake him.
Carefully she picks up a set of keys on the dresser then
turns and notices a packet of letters sitting on top of an
open duffle bag.
Tentatively she reaches for them. She brings the packet, tied
with a piece of ribbon, up to her nose. She is shocked by
their familiar scent.
With trembling hands she unties the ribbon. Tears flood down
her cheeks as she reads.
Franklin opens his eyes.
EXT. HYDE PARK - DAY
Springwood is the three-story Roosevelt mansion. It is
surrounded by a thousand acres of forests, fields, bridal
paths and a glorious view of the Hudson River.
THE FIVE ROOSEVELT CHILDREN are screaming on the front lawn
playing a boisterous game of croquet.
INT. SPRINGWOOD - DINING ROOM - DAY
SARA ROOSEVELT, 65, sits at the head of the table. She is one
for whom the expression "Grande Dame" was coined.
Franklin is at the opposite end of the table, looking pale.
Louis, as always, is by his side.
Eleanor, like a prisoner who has accepted her fate, sits
across from them, calm and composed.
I have offered Franklin his freedom.
And I have accepted.
His freedom is not yours to offer!
I am in love with Miss Mercer, Mama.
Lord save us from fools in love.
Falling in love is out of the
question. Why do you think men have
mistresses? Duty. Duty to their
families and their careers.
Eleanor rises from the table.
Where do you think you're going?
It's obvious that my input in this
matter is of little importance.
She begins to exit the room, but Franklin is up like a shot.
Come back here! Both of you!
INT. ENTRY HALL - CONTINUOUS
Franklin chases Eleanor. Midway up the stairs, she turns.
I don't know whether to hate you
or thank you.
For forcing me to face my life
honestly for the first time.
I didn't mean to hurt you, Babs.
You never do. You live your life
skimming the surface... never aware
of the attachments beneath.
(finding her anger)
It must be a luxury.
She goes up the stairs without looking back.
INT. DINING ROOM - CONTINUOUS
Franklin slowly walks back into the room.
Divorce will finish your career in
politics. How do you intend to
My trust fund.
Divorce Eleanor and there is no
Franklin turns away. He looks out the large picture window
and attempts to light a cigarette, but his hands shake.
We've come so far, boss. State
Assembly, Assistant Secretary of
the Navy -- all pages right out of
Cousin Teddy's play book. We're on
the road to the White House. Don't
Franklin sees his son, ELLIOT, 10, playing separately from
the rest of his siblings. Elliot looks up at his father as
Franklin bares his best politician's smile at him.
A ROAR begins to fill his ears. It becomes clearer that it is
the sound of a CROWD CHEERING.
CROWD NOISE (O.S.)
Rose-velt! Rose-velt! Rose-velt!
INT. DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION HALL - SAN FRANCISCO - NIGHT
CONVENTIONEERS shout out Franklin's name holding up PLACARDS
"COX/ROOSEVELT IN '20!"
Franklin BOLTS, running vigorously down the center aisle of
the hall lit by the circle of a spotlight. The CROWD goes
wild over this unconventional entrance.
hen he reaches the edge of the stage he LEAPS onto it. This
final act of daring pushes the crowd into frenzy.
CLOSE UP - FRANKLIN
Smiling for no one. For everyone.
I humbly accept your nomination for
The CROWD roars back in reaction to his less-than-humble stance.
They say the best way to get rid of
a man is to have him run for Vice-
(he holds for the laugh)
You might well have asked my cousin
Teddy if that's how they got rid
Franklin stands on the stage, the music rising, the crowd
cheering. Slowly, the sound of the convention fades to
something far more delicate...
INT. TEA ROOM - WASHINGTON, D.C. - AFTERNOON
A harp playing in an elegant tea room. The hushed tones of
polite conversation wafts through the air.
Franklin sits with his cousin, ALICE ROOSEVELT, 36, daughter
of Teddy. Brilliant and acerbic, she would have had a career
in politics had she been born a man.
Of course you lost. A Roosevelt on
the democratic ticket? Our ancestors
are turning in their graves.
Cousin Alice, if Teddy were alive
he'd be a democrat -- and you know it.
Rubbish. But I do know one thing:
You're exactly like him. My father
was born wanting only one thing: to
And what's wrong with that?
They both share a laugh.
Do you know what they're saying
Franklin's smile fades.
No, but I'm sure you'll tell me.
They say F.D.R. stands for
"featherduster." That you're a
lightweight. A dilettante with no
substance; no point of view.
Is that what you think?
You lead with your vanity. You
talk when you should listen.
Unless these are the qualities of
The democratic party is the party
of the people. I am a man of the
Darling, you're a Roosevelt. What
do you know about people?
She leans in conspiratorially.
Of course, I can think of one person
you did manage to find the time to
invest in. A Miss Mercer, I believe?
Don't misunderstand me, Franklin.
Being married to Eleanor I think
you deserved some fun. But you made
the right decision. Especially
since Miss Mercer has gone on with
What are you talking about?
Edward Rutherford is a wonderful
catch for a girl like her.
Last week. A small event, of course.
When I last heard she was governess
to his children.
(with a smile)
And then love bloomed. As a "man of
the people," I wouldn't be too hard
on her, Franklin. We can't all have
trust funds you know.
EXT. STATEN ISLAND BOY SCOUT CAMP - DAY
Franklin, Louis and a PHOTOGRAPHER disembark from a touring car.
We're not taking this defeat lying
down, boss. We'll run you for
Really? Of which state?
Louis shoots him a look.
Very funny. No, this buys you time.
It buys you experience.
What about Al Smith?
He's vulnerable. You're still a
fresh face, boss. We'll use that to
They walk down a hill towards some waiting Boy Scouts as the
PHOTOGRAPHER follows them.
Boy Scouts, Louis? Hardly my
They've got parents. Besides
Franklin begins glad-handing the assembled group of mostly
Franklin Roosevelt, happy to
Franklin masks his thinly veiled discomfort with an
artificial good cheer. Meanwhile, Louis, in full political
mode, makes sure the L
Photographer gets everything.
Franklin poses with two Scouts. The picture is taken.
Okay, boys, lunch. Line up to wash!
Will you be joining us?
Franklin steps into a line before a large communal water
barrel and glances sideways at GUISEPPE, 9, an immigrant
child of the city streets. He wears his uniform proudly and
smiles at Franklin.
What's your name, son?
Franklin puts his arm around Guiseppe, forcing the moment
between them. He waits patiently as the cameras click away.
Guiseppe! Come sta, ragazzo?
Okay, I guess.
The SCOUTS begin washing their hands together in the water
barrel and Franklin joins in as Louis looks on admiringly.
As Guiseppe splashes some of the water on his face, Franklin,
not to be outdone, does so as well. It's all for the cameras.
ESTABLISHING SHOT - CAMPOBELLO ISLAND
EXT. ROOSEVELT SUMMER HOME - DAY
A large but unpretentious house with a sweeping lawn that
looks out over the icy waters of the Bay of Fundy.
EXT. PORCH - LATE AFTERNOON
Eleanor sits quietly on the front porch knitting -- in a
world of her own.
A few feet away -- also in a world of his own -- sits Louis,
overdressed for summer in a three piece suit. An overflowing
ashtray is by his side and piles of newspaper lie at his
He holds up a paper to Eleanor with the photo of Franklin and
the Boy Scouts.
He's a natural.
Eleanor gives it a cursory glance then looks out to where
Franklin and the children come bounding up the lawn.
Franklin and Elliot break out from the rest and begin racing
up the lawn. Franklin, no match for his son's speed, loses.
He doubles over, trying to catch his breath.
Vae victis! ("Woe to the
aught up in his victory, Elliot doesn't see Franklin sneak
up behind him and tackle him to the ground.
Festina lente! ("Not so fast!")
One by one the other children all pile on top of Franklin and
Dinner is in one half-hour! Come in
and change, children!
Up! Up, chicks! You heard your
Everyone runs up the porch stairs and into the house except
Go wash up.
Utterly spent, Franklin lays on the grass, not moving.
Hey, boss! Are you all right?
Slowly, Franklin gets up and walks with great effort up the
(re: her knitting)
Oh, that's pretty, Babs.
He puts his hand on Eleanor's shoulder and leans in to buss
her cheek but Eleanor quickly stands.
I must check on dinner.
There is a cursory formality to her words and little warmth.
She goes into the house. Louis then hands Franklin letters.
Of you? Never.
Wearily, he sorts through the envelopes.
Why don't you nap before dinner?
Franklin heads into the house leaning heavily against the
screen door struggling for control.
INT. SUN ROOM - DAY
Franklin lays on a chaise being examined by a DOCTOR, who
leans over him holding out his hand.
Can you take my hand?
Franklin tries, but can't. Almost his entire body is
paralyzed. He can only breathe and blink.
The Doctor glances at Eleanor, Louis and Sara indicating they
should follow him out.
EXT. SCREENED PORCH - DAY
As the door from the sun room opens onto the porch, Elliot is
there waiting. Seeing them coming, he dashes off into the
yard so as not to be seen as Eleanor, Louis, Sara and the
He has Infantile Paralysis. Polio.
Sara sinks into a chair.
I knew it. I knew it.
thought it only struck children.
How did he get it?
Some experts believe it is linked
to contaminated water. But that
theory is speculative at best.
It was the visit to that god damned
Boy Scout Camp!
In all honesty you need to be
looking forward, not back.
What is the prognosis?
The damage to his leg muscles is
extensive. I suspect he will be
paralyzed from the waist down.
And the children?
If they don't have any symptoms by
now then they have been spared.
Sara stands -- her bearing once again erect and proud.
Then we must count our blessings.
You will need to prepare yourselves.
There is a deep depression that
follows an illness of this magnitude.
I'm afraid life as he knew it is over.
Their discussion is suddenly interrupted by the sound of a
child crying. Eleanor rushes off the porch to the bushes.
EXT. BUSHES - CONTINUING
Eleanor finds Elliot, having heard everything, curled up in a
ball, weeping. She leans down and wraps her arms around him.
INT. BEDROOM - WEEKS LATER
CLOSE-UP - WALLPAPER
A pink background covered in small white flowers with red
centers and green leaves. There is a seam in the paper. A
tiny white spot where glue has soaked through.
PULL BACK TO REVEAL - Franklin in bed.
This is all he stares at -- hour after hour after hour.
His lips are dry.
A glass of water sits tantalizingly on the night stand. He
reaches for it but it's a few inches out of his reach.
Slowly, he begins to rock his torso back and forth.
INT. HYDE PARK - PARLOR - CONTINUOUS
Sara, Eleanor and Louis are in heated conversation.
Now that politics are out of the
question he can stay here at home
But what kind of life is that?
I've rented him an office downtown.
He can still practice law.
Why would you want to do that?
Because he needs it.
He can pursue a career, Mama.
A man as proud and vital as
Franklin... you're inviting him to
And you, Mr. RA(cont'd)
SA Howe, engaged in the
fantasy of a political future for
my son... is there nothing you
won't do to keep your job?
Sara leaves as Eleanor goes after her.
Mama! That's not fair!
INT. BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS
Franklin, still rocking his torso, has now gained some
momentum, managing to have moved just a few inches.
INT. SUN ROOM - CONTINUOUS
Sara busies herself arranging flowers.
What kind of life is it to be
pitied and stared at?
What kind of life is it to be
hidden away? I know you believe
that what you are suggesting for
Franklin is best. But I think you
are making it harder for him.
I think I know what's best for
Franklin. I am his mother!
And I am his wife.
Sara stares at Eleanor in disbelief. Eleanor stares back --
INT. BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS
Franklin reaches his arm towards the glass only to fall from
the bed to the floor with a thud. Frustrated beyond words,
Franklin lunges at his wheelchair and shoves it across the
floor letting out an anguished cry.
In agony, from both the pain and the humiliation, he stares
up and fixes his gaze on the ornate ceiling overhead.
Then, closing his eyes, a POUNDING in his head starts to get
louder and louder --
INT. BOAT - DAY - BACK TO PRESENT
Franklin, on his back, his face and body drenched with sweat,
is asleep in his bunk in the boat. He awakens to the sound of
the POUNDING. Voices are calling him accompanied by FISTS
smashing at the door. He opens his eyes and is disoriented.
He tries to sit up -- momentarily forgetting that he can't.
e lifts the sheet and visibly WINCES in disgust at the sight
of his crippled legs. BONES covered by FLESH with barely an
ounce of muscle.
Finally the door BURSTS open. Two young crewman, EUGENE and
Mr. Roosevelt, we got a storm
He lifts Franklin over his shoulder. Stanley grabs clothes and
pulls a set of long iron leg braces from a hook off the wall.
Eugene grabs a bucket and holds Franklin up to urinate.
Leave me here. Let the ocean
swallow me up. Burial at sea.
Perfect for a navy man.
Stripped to his underwear Franklin is laid across the bunk.
Eugene kneels and puts on Franklin's socks and shoes. Then he
and Stanley slide on his braces and pants.
Their hands zipper, clasp, buckle and tie. Each hand works in
synchronicity with the other.
Clumsily they lift Franklin up, struggling under his weight.
EXT. BOAT - DAY
Eugene and Stanley carry Franklin off in the driving rain.
INT. DINER OFF THE FLORIDA COAST - DAY
Kerosene lamps light the diner which is filled with people,
mostly fishermen, seeking refuge from the coming storm.
Franklin, soaked-to-the-skin and wrapped in a blanket, is
being pushed through the door by Eugene in a wheelchair.
The restaurant collectively pauses to take them.
Franklin is slowly wheeled across the restaurant. He shrinks
from the stares of the patrons.
A LITTLE GIRL eating with her parents gets excited when she
sees Franklin's braces and points. Franklin gives her a hard
look and she is hurt.
What he can't see is that under the table she wears a set of
braces like his.
Franklin is wheeled up to his table and EUGENE and STANLEY sit
down with him.
Louis enters resembling a drowned rat. He rips off his hat
and raincoat and puts down his suitcase.
I never miss Florida in the rainy
No letter? No wire?
Why? Would you have answered it?
What the hell are you doing here?
Good to see you too. Nice whiskers.
You look like Chester Arthur.
Stanley, this is Mr. Howe. He gets
sea-sick at the mere sight of a
boat so he's probably happy that
it's being Ldestroyed right now.
Boys, I need to talk to Mr. Roosevelt
alone. Find your own breakfast. Here's
a five spot. Make it a feast.
They look at the money and take their leave.
You're always so generous with my
You mean your mother's, don't you?
The Waitress puts down two cups of coffee. Franklin pulls out
a flask and pours some into his cup. He then lights a
cigarette and begins smoking, but doesn't offer one to Louis.
Without asking, Louis helps himself.
So Mama financed this fool's
errand, has she? Well, it's a waste
of a trip.
It was Eleanor's idea.
Franklin's face is immobile.
What can I get you?
I'd like some ham and eggs, sunny
side up, please?
What's your fancy, boss?
Nothing. I fancy nothing.
He'll have the same.
The Waitress grabs their menus and scurries away. Louis opens
his briefcase and hands Franklin a stack of mail. Franklin
glances it, but doesn't open any.
There are a few from your children.
I can still read.
Franklin flips through the mail and finds a letter that
interests him, opening it.
Your wife wants you to come home.
(choosing his words)
She's concerned. I'm concerned.
This life on a boat... where is it
Getting me? For one thing, no one
gets to see me and I don't get to
Don't say that. Everyone's waiting
for you to come home. The kids...
they're aching to see you.
Louis looks sadly at his friend.
skimming the letter)
From George Foster Peabody. He owns
a resort in rural Georgia for
investment purposes. Hot springs or
something. He claims that only
recently a crippled boy swam in the
waters and can walk again.
Oh, for Chrissake...
The high magnesium content of
these natural springs will hold
anyone up. Although it is not a
resort for infirm types I am
extending you my personal
invitation to come visit in the off-
(putting the letter aside)
I'm only welcome in the "off-
Eugene and Stanley approach the table.
Mr. Roosevelt, we got bad news.
It's the boat... it got banged up
real bad tied to the dock.
I don't think you can stay there
ranklin absorbs this.
Maybe it's a blessing in disguise,
Mr. Roosevelt. I don't know about
you, but I'm homesick.
And I'm sick of home.
Where's the letter from Peabody?
You can't be serious?
He hands Franklin the letter who rereads it.
Why not miracle waters? I've drunk
the oil of monkey glands, been
zapped with electricity and hung
upside down in harnesses. After all
that, this sounds downright
I can't quite picture you in the
back woods of Georgia.
Where do you picture me, Louis?
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
President, Louis? I can't visit the
bathroom without a team of
associates to help pull my pants
Give it a little time.
There's a reason they say a man
runs for office.
I'm going to Georgia.
INT. A TRAIN CAR - DAY
Franklin and Eleanor sit next to one another. Franklin is now
shaved and cleaned up considerably.
However, the tension between them is palpable. Eleanor knits
furiously while talking. Franklin looks out the window at
African-American FIELD HANDS hard at work in the red clay
hills of Georgia.
James has been doing so much better
now that Elliot has joined him at
Groton. They've put their
differences behind them and have
become a real team.
Franklin observes two YOUNG BOYS, African-American, running
alongside the slow-moving train.
Two peas in a pod. Last week they
were both in the infirmary with the
F same cold.
ranklin eyes a wagon pulled by a mule. The driver, a FARMER,
takes off his hat and wipes his brow in the hot sun.
Meanwhile, any suggestion I make to
Anna for her future -- she
dismisses me. I am going to have to
enlist your support in this,
Franklin. She listens to you.
She looks over at Franklin and sees that he is staring out the
window, deep in thought -- not having heard a word she's said.
EXT. BULLOCHVILLE TRAIN STATION - GEORGIA - DAY
TOM LOYLESS, 39, stands waiting by a car dressed in a white
suit. Laconic, with a dry sense of humor, Tom is a man of few
words whose poker face hides a true desperation. He holds a
telegram from Franklin in his hand.
As the train pulls in Tom looks for Franklin among the
passengers making their exit.
There are two different exits on the platform clearly marked
WHITE and COLORED. Whites exit from the front of the train
and Blacks from the rear.
LIONEL PURDY, tiny, and dressed in a mailman's uniform,
approaches Tom. Of indeterminate age and dubious intellect,
his mail bag is almost as big as he is.
You might say so, Lionel.
A Mr. Roosevelt.
No, he's dead.
The STATIONMASTER approaches.
Tom, your guest needs some
assistance. We're gonna need some
able-bodied men to move him.
Go over to the livery stable...
... and get the Collier boys.
EXT. A TRAIN CAR - DAY
Franklin exits the train slung in a fireman's carry over the
shoulder of ROY COLLIER, African-American, 29. His brother
PETE, 27, is close behind, carrying luggage -- both hover at
around 6' 4".
Tom approaches. Franklin attempts to hide his embarrassment
with good cheer.
Hello! Hello! Mr. Loyless?
Tom, Mr. Roosevelt.
Then you'd better call me Franklin.
Still in the fireman's carry, Franklin extends his hand for
Tom to shake.
And this is the Misses.
Call me Eleanor.
Pleased to make your acquaintance.
Roy then carries him over to Tom's car and gingerly places
him inside. Pete follows.
There's a trunk and a chair with
the wheels, too.
I'll send a wagon right over.
We got a wagon, sir.
EXT. A COUNTRY ROAD - DAY
Tom drives Franklin in front, Eleanor sits in the back.
Pine trees tower over the sides of the dirt road. In
occasional clearings, Franklin spies barefoot children
playing out in front of broken-down shacks. They stop their
play to look at the car.
(covering his discomfort)
How long have you been manager of
They BANG over a large pothole. They all fly up and land hard.
Got any paved roads?
No we don't.
EXT. THE MERIWETHER INN - DAY
Tom's car turns into a driveway. Franklin has a brochure for
"The Meriwether Inn" opened in his lap. He tries to spy the
building through the trees but cannot.
He looks back at the brochure. The picture is of a lavish
Victorian Hotel and the words, "Our renowned mineral hot
springs can cure whatever ails you!"
Franklin looks up and sees a three-story hideous green and
yellow monstrosity leaning slightly to one side. Paint is
peeling everywhere. What once were flower beds are overgrown
The car pulls to a stop.
You'll have a great deal of
privacy. There are only a few
guests right now as it's the off-
season... I'm hoping to make some
improvements by next Spring --
Franklin puts out his arm preventing Tom from getting out of
I... I can't stay here. This place
is a wreck.
Look on the bright side. Most of
your time will be spent in the
It's true, we've fallen on some
Hard times? This is a disaster! It
should be condemned!
Tom's southern manners are being put to the test, but he
stays remarkably calm.
Yes, we've seen better days.
But then I imagine so have you.
Franklin blinks incomprehensibly at Tom and what he has just
I'm happy to drive you back to the
train station right now, if that's
what you want.
They lock eyes. Franklin wonders if Tom's bluffing, but he
(in a low voice)
Fire. I'm frightened of fire. I
can't get out if I'm upstairs.
We've got options.
EXT. MERIWETHER INN GROUNDS - DAY
Tom's car is now parked in front of a group of small
cottages. Roy and Pete's horse drawn wagon is behind it.
EXT. COTTAGE - DAY
Tom and Pete open a set of shutters over the windows of a
Franklin and Eleanor sit in the car, watching.
INT. COTTAGE - DAY
Sheets cover the furniture, cobwebs span the beams and dust
particles fill the air.
As Tom maneuvers the wheelchair through the front door,
Franklin notices a broken window.
Well ventilated, at least.
Roy enters with a suitcase.
Where do you want this, Mr.
The bedroom, Roy, thank you.
He looks after Roy as he exits.
Tom, this young man appears quite
competent. Would you ask him if
he'd like to stay on as my valet?
Why don't you ask him yourself?
He tips his hat and goes outside.
EXT. DRIVEWAY - DAY
Pete, alone, drives the wagon past the Inn and out onto the
INT. COTTAGE - DAY
Eleanor stands in the middle of the tiny living room stunned
by the squalor. She speaks to Franklin who is changing in the
This is madness.
Tell me again, Franklin, why are we
Franklin is wheeled out by Roy, now changed into a bathing
For the waters. Are you coming?
EXT. A DIRT PATH - DAY
Roy wheels Franklin while Tom walks in front of them leading
Mrs. Roosevelt want to swim?
Mrs. Roosevelt doesn't know how.
Franklin takes in the surroundings. Deserted horse stables in
total ruin and tennis courts covered with underbrush mar the
EXT. POOL - DAY
An immense, T-shaped pool rimmed in concrete. The bluish
water is clear and sparkling and a delicate steam rises out
of the warmth.
MOTHER, eyeing Franklin approaching in his wheelchair,
comes to the edge of the pool and coaxes her CHILDREN out of
AUNT SALLY, an ancient, gaunt, African American woman, stands
guard by the edge of the water.
Mr. Roosevelt, I'd like you to meet
Good day, sir. I have towels for you.
Roy wheels Franklin as close to the rim of the pool as
possible. Tom lends his assistance and both he and Roy HOIST
Franklin out of the chair and place him at the edge, letting
his feet dangle in the warm water.
Twisting on his massive arms, Franklin lowers himself cautiously.
Now give it a minute. You'll see
that the mineralization makes the
water more buoyant. The crippled
boy who swam here was actually able
to walk in the water.
Franklin's legs flop as his useless feet touch the shallow
bottom. Crushed, all hope drains from his face.
I can't even stand.
Well, not yet.
EXT. CABIN - NIGHT
Roy sleeps on a couch on the front porch. Crickets hum.
INT. CABIN - CONTINUING
Eleanor tosses and turns on a roll away bed.
INT. CABIN BEDROOM - CONTINUING
Franklin lies in bed staring up at the ceiling.
INT. MERIWETHER INN - DINING ROOM - DAY
A handful of guests are spread out in a huge dining room.
Franklin and Eleanor sit together. He is eating heartily, but
Eleanor merely moves her food around.
This is simply revolting.
It's not very good, but it is
(holding out his plate)
What in the world do you think
they've poured over this chicken?
Or is it possum?
Eleanor sizes Franklin up. She knows this is a preamble.
You want to stay.
New York has the best doctors and
hospitals in the country.
I need something new.
This isn't about getting better is
it? You don't want to come home.
You don't want to live with us.
I refuse to be a burden to anyone.
You're not a burden, you're my
e reaches out and takes her hand in his.
I want to offer you the freedom you
once so generously offered me.
(she pulls it away)
All you've ever known is duty. To
me and to a political career that
unless I can walk no longer exists.
You've been exemplary. Now I'm
telling you you're free to go.
(her voice rising)
I don't want freedom. I want a
marriage. I want a life with you.
Franklin won't let himself believe it.
I can't imagine what you think that
life is going to be.
This takes the wind out of Eleanor.
Oh Franklin... it's not up to me to
imagine, it's up to you.
Eleanor folds her napkin and gets up from the table.
EXT. COTTAGE DRIVEWAY - DAY
Pete helps Eleanor into his livery wagon.
Franklin watches from the porch as Eleanor rides away. Her
suitcase slides across the open wagon bed, as the wagon makes
the tight turn from the driveway onto the main road.
Looking out -- straight ahead.
Alone and scared as he watches the wagon fade from sight.
INT. HYDE PARK - DAY
Eleanor is pouring tea for Louis, who is seated.
Thank you for stopping by, Mr. Howe.
I thought you might want to see a
(off the silence)
So how's our boy doing?
Well, he's enjoying the waters very
I think we've lost him.
Her pent-up tears burst in a free-flow. Louis leads her to a
nearby settee and hands her his handkerchief.
Please excuse me, Mr. Howe.
Don't you think it's time you
called me Louis?
Maybe we've been going about this
all wrong. He's down there to be
alone so let's give him what he
wants. We change our focus.
Louis smiles, knowingly.
EXT. COTTAGES - SUNSET
The row of abandoned cottages look strangely pretty, aglow in
the setting sun.
EXT. COTTAGE - CONTINUOUS
Franklin is seated on the ramshackle porch in his chair. His
cigarette hangs from his lip as he mixes martinis in a glass
milk bottle. He pours one for Tom, then himself.
To your mineral pool, or whatever
you call it.
They clink their glasses. Tom takes a polite sip, then chokes
back the bad taste.
Haven't been in a drinking mood lately.
Actually, its the most god-awful
martini I've ever tasted.
Are you always this direct, Tom?
Well, I never tasted a martini this
Franklin takes another sip, checking. It tastes fine to him.
Everyone likes my martinis...
So they say.
INT. COTTAGE - MORNING
Franklin's bed is already empty.
EXT. POOL - MORNING
Aunt Sally is seated, talking with Roy while Franklin lies on
his back in the water, swimming. All his movement comes from
his shoulders and arms. The morning sun streams down on him.
Tom sits off to one side reading the newspaper.
Tell me more about what that boy
did, Aunt Sally.
Well, first he'd always swim over
to the side of the pool and hold
himself there -- make sure he
righted himself. Then... before he
knew it... he'd be standing.
If it was only that easy.
Well, you make it hard. Get over to
the side of that pool and grab it.
Now you got to remember how you did
Franklin holds the edge of the pool, closing his eyes.
For a long moment there is silence. Almost without realizing
it, Franklin lets go of the edge of the pool.
When he opens his eyes -- he is standing -- all by himself in
(a nervous laugh)
His laughter gets stronger. Tom, Aunt Sally and Roy look on.
The release is powerful as Franklin dissolves into tears.
EXT. COTTAGE PORCH - EVENING
Tom, who's been mixing cocktails, hands Franklin a drink and
lifts his glass.
To standing on your own two feet!
They clink and drink.
This water could be the cure -- the
cure! In six months I could be up
Lionel, the mailman, comes down the path carrying a
flashlight, reading an open letter.
I can't. I'm working for the
All the more reason.
(shoving a drink at him)
Sort of late for the mail, isn't it?
Not for me it isn't. Got a whole
packet of clippings for you, Mr.
Roosevelt. From a Mr. Howe. New
York Times, Journal-American...
don't know what else.
He hands an already opened letter to Franklin.
Your mother wants to know when
you're coming home. She says they
got swimming pools in Hyde Park.
She's mad as all hell.
Reading other people's mail is not
only impolite, it's illegal.
Sheriff don't mind. He likes I read
his mail. Saves him the time. Plus
a lot of folks around here can't
read, so it's more a public
Astonishing. Thank you, Lionel.
He hands Lionel a letter.
"Miss Missy LeHand." Who's she?
If you must know, she's my social
I'm having her come down.
Lionel reaches into his bag.
Almost forgot... your wife wrote
the nicest letter. She's gonna make
a speech at the League of Women
Give me that.
He hands the letter to Franklin who immediately begins
Says she's gonna keep the Roosevelt
name alive. Least till he starts
walkin' and all.
Lionel takes the letter Franklin just handed him, opens it,
flicks his flashlight back on and continues on his way.
(studying the letter)
This is so unlike Eleanor. She's
terrified of crowds.
INT. HALLWAY - DAY
Louis and Eleanor approach a set of double doors.
We are facing imminent disaster.
I take full responsibility if you
hyperventilate or faint.
They enter the room.
INT. MEETING ROOM - CONTINUOUS
At a lectern, behind which a banner reads "LEAGUE OF WOMEN
VOTERS," the CHAIRWOMAN sees them and waves them forward.
Ah, here she is now. Ladies, Mrs.
A small crowd of about two dozen women offer up polite, but
scant applause for Eleanor.
Good afternoon. I am so pleased to
be invited here today.
looking down at her
A PHOTOGRAPHER snaps a picture which throws Eleanor off.
She stops. The pause is deadly. Louis looks ready to jump out
a window. Eleanor continues, her voice still pitched too high.
Too often the great decisions are
originated and given form in bodies
made up wholly of men...
Slowly, she begins to find her voice.
So that whatever political value
women have to offer is shunted
aside... without expression.
his is a mistake.
She looks up from her cards and stares at the audience...
and for the first time speaks spontaneously.
I think this might be the reason I
am having such a difficult time
giving voice to my own thoughts
The immediacy of her self-effacing comment charms the room.
I'm reminded of what someone once
said about looking at an elephant.
That it is impossible to ever see
an entire elephant from one place --
you must walk around it. If our
elected leaders are to be truly
effective then they must be willing
to go out of their way to look
beyond what is right in front of
them. To see the entire elephant.
And for that... they need our help.
The ladies applaud her, much to her relief. Louis beams.
At a reception following the speech, Eleanor and the
Chairwoman are drinking tea.
That was so moving, Mrs. Roosevelt.
The Child Welfare Amendment could
use someone with your passion. You
must consider being our
Eleanor looks to Louis who nods.
Oh. It would be an honor.
EXT. POOL - DAY
Franklin is attempting to walk in the water, working
diligently. Tom watches him from a few paces back.
I walked five steps today!
Congratulations. Listen, Franklin,
I got word a local reporter wants
to do a story on you.
I'm hardly newsworthy these days.
How did he find out I'm here?
Small town -- word gets out. It
probably won't amount to more than
a provincial puff piece but it
might give us some free publicity
for the Inn.
Franklin looks at Tom knowing full well he's arranged this.
All right, I know the gentleman.
I'm doing him a favor. You know, I
used to be a journalist.
Do you mean all this time I've been
talking to a newspaper man?
Not anymore. I got in a bit of
trouble in Atlanta. Seems some of
the editorial pieces I wrote
offended the sensibilities of a
local civic group. So I needed to
lay low for a while.
You mean the Klan? Good God, Tom...
Thankfully, Mr. George Foster
Peabody gave me this job...
Well, that explains a few things.
For the life of me, I couldn't
figure out why someone like you was
running this --
(laughing, swimming off)
I was going to say dump, but rat-
trap fits nicely.
EXT. FRANKLIN'S COTTAGE - FRONT PORCH - DAY
Franklin is seated -- but not in his wheelchair. He wears
long pants even though it's blisteringly hot.
CLEBURNE GREGORY, 28, sits across from Franklin -- a second
string reporter in a three-piece suit.
Now in 1920 when you were running
I can't imagine your readers are
interested in ancient history. Cox
and I lost the election by a wide
It was only a few years ago, Mr.
Now it's the waters extra minerals
plus its warmth that makes all the
difference. At 90 degrees I can
work my muscles for hours and not
As Assistant Secretary of the Navy
during the Great War did you
condone the use of...
I forgot one more thing you will
need to write down. Poor
circulation is a chronic problem
for people in my condition.
Gregory looks at Franklin. It's clear he's not going to get
the interview he came for.
So... you think it could be a cure?
I don't know.
But you're hopeful?
Yes. I am.
INT. COTTAGE - NIGHT
Franklin is laid out on the bed as Roy slides the braces off
his legs. Roy unlaces his shoes and slips them off his feet.
e is about to put them under the bed when Franklin motions
for Roy to hand them to him.
Still flat on his back, Franklin luxuriates in the rich
leather cobbled by hand. He examines their smooth, immaculate
soles... worn but never walked in.
INT. COTTAGE - MORNING
A newspaper clipping of Eleanor in her speech to the League
is taped to the wall.
We hear the sound of an Underwood typewriter clacking away
and Franklin's voice, dictating.
Therefore, a formal questionnaire
should be composed in order so we
may hear from all recent delegates
as to how we can do better in '28 to
present a more united front. Signed,
Franklin Roosevelt, etc., etc.
MISSY LE HAND, 30, is sitting at a card table, typing.
Brunette with some early gray, she is sturdy in build with a
plain but friendly face.
Very good. Do you want this out
Tomorrow will be fine.
Thank you, Missy, and c.c. that to
Missy rises with a stack of envelopes and heads out.
Roy enters with a plate of pancakes in front of Franklin.
Hungry, Mr. Roosevelt?
Who do you write to every morning?
Different people I knew in
politics. Just in case they ever
want me back.
So you'll be ready when you get
your legs workin' again?
There is a knock at the screen door. An earnest young man,
BENJAMIN PRENDERGAST, 18, is peering in. He has a newspaper.
Excuse me, are you Mr. Roosevelt?
Yes. Who are you?
Roy opens the door to Prendergast, who enters.
My name is Benjamin Prendergast.
I've come to see if you could speak
at this year's graduation ceremony
at the schoolhouse. You being so
famous and all.
Prendergast unfolds the newspaper. There is a picture of
Franklin under the heading "FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT SWIMS HIS WAY
I'll be damned.
Would you be available?
When? Next spring?
Next week. We only have a four
month school year.
How is that possible?
Tax dollars only cover that much.
Are you graduating?
No, sir. I'm the principal.
But Franklin doesn't see.
EXT. SCHOOLHOUSE - DAY
A small breeze or a decent rain would knock it to the ground.
INT. SCHOOLROOM - CONTINUOUS
A bookshelf with four books.
A few FARMERS and their WIVES sit with large groups of filthy
children. They look at Franklin askance.
Prendergast stands proudly beside three GRADUATES-TO-BE.
Tom stands in the back observing.
Franklin, in his wheelchair, sits uncomfortably before the
gathering. He notices a FATHER staring at his legs.
Now that we're all here let me
introduce to you to our guest
speaker today, Mr. Franklin
A fly begins buzzing around his head. He laughs derisively,
almost to himself.
At Groton, where I graduated from
high school, our beloved Headmaster
encouraged his students to enter
He looks up and catches the glazed eyes of an undernourished
child which unsettles him.
I chose to attend Harvard for my
undergraduate work and then
Columbia for my law degree.
e takes in their uncomprehending expressions.
I followed my Headmaster's advice
and sought a career in public life.
But circumstances beyond my control
have made that... very difficult...
He stares at his tiny audience, all of whom know something
about circumstances beyond their control.
I've given many speeches in my
life... I don't know why I'm having
such a hard time making this one...
Horrified and unable to speak, Franklin seems temporarily
lost, but the tiny audience doesn't seem to notice. They just
INT. TOM'S AUTOMOBILE - DAY
My God did you see how they were
looking at me?
They welcomed your company, Franklin.
Don't patronize me.
Tom is losing his patience.
Don't patronize them. These people
go to bed night after night with
half-empty stomachs -- your legs
are the least of their worries.
They continue to drive in silence.
EXT. POOL - DAY
It's a cold day and Franklin is swimming in the pool.
Roy is wearing a sweater. Aunt Sally is there, too, wearing a
patched up coat with a scarf around her neck. Tom is nearby
Mr. Roosevelt, aren't you cold?
Mr. Roosevelt, you're gonna catch
the chill if you don't get out of
Franklin ignores them and dips under the water as Tom comes
You got to tell him, Mr. Loyless.
He won't listen to us.
Franklin comes up from under.
Franklin, we need to talk...
Normally we close up this time of
year and the staff goes home for
Franklin looks at Tom, then at Roy and Aunt Sally,
The sound of a TRAIN WHISTLE is heard.
INT. HYDE PARK, NEW YORK- LIVING ROOM - DAY
The WHISTLE is coming from a MODEL TRAIN as it zooms around a
track set up on a table in the Roosevelt living room. Elliot,
now 15, is mesmerized.
Sara sits at a piano between FRANKLIN, JR., 9, and JOHN, 7.
They are finishing a rousing rendition of "Angels We Have
Heard on High" as an enormous Christmas tree gets decorated.
JAMES, 18, is at the top of a ladder while his sister, ANNA,
19, decorates from the lowest rung.
Eleanor holds up a tiny porcelain ornament to Anna.
Grandmother Delano brought this
Franklin, working from his wheelchair is filling out the
lower branches of the tree, his lap filled with ornaments.
Have you ever been to China,
No, Elliot. Just your grandmama.
I adored China. It smelled of
et's go in the backyard and dig
our way there!
That sounds like an adventure.
Anna looks over at her father, sadly and Franklin catches her
eye. She quickly looks away.
From behind his back, John, pulls out the Christmas star and
places it on his father's knee.
Put it on top.
Silence descends over the room. No one dares to breathe.
Give it to James. He's the tallest.
John, give it to him!
Papa always does it.
I can do it.
Franklin tosses the star in an attempt to reach the top. It
almost catches, but it falls to the floor.
Quickly, aiding to avoid his father's embarrassment, James
climbs back up and puts the star on top. Sara sensing the
awkwardness of the moment begins to play and sing an overly
cheery rendition of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."
INT. STUDY - LATER
Roy is spotting Franklin as he pulls himself along a set of
parallel bars. Eleanor observes as Franklin uses his arms to
drag his legs behind him.
It was an extraordinary turnout
this afternoon. Louis says there
were over two hundred people in the
That's marvelous, Babs.
Eleanor is flushed with pride. Franklin, catching her look,
slips slightly on the bars as Roy grabs hold of him.
I've got you, sir.
Franklin then takes note that Eleanor's expression has turned
to one of pure heartbreak.
You wonder why I want to go back to
Georgia... it's to avoid people who
look at me the way you just did.
You truly believe the waters...
... that they are helping?
Don't talk to me as if I were a
child. Choosing your words so
How am I supposed to talk to you?
Like I was! Talk to me like I was!
Roy turns Franklin around on the bars and they begin walking
away from Eleanor.
I don't know how anymore.
EXT. COTTAGE - DAY
Franklin is being lifted out of Pete's wagon by Roy and
placed into his wheelchair. He sees Tom approaching.
You're a sight for sore eyes...
We missed you at the station...
The smile on Franklin's face slips to a look of shock as he
takes in Tom's changed appearance. His face is sallow and his
trademark white suit is hanging on him.
Tom, are you all right?
It's just an ulcer. I can't eat
anything I like anymore.
Roy carries the luggage into the cottage.
My father had ulcers. Damn irritating.
Yes, they are.
A silence hangs in the air.
Ready to swim?
EXT. POOL - DAY
Franklin now dressed in his bathing suit is being wheeled by
Roy. Tom follows.
We've got some new guests. Some
paying, some non-paying...
As they get closer, Franklin is stunned by what he sees --
A DOZEN PEOPLE -- all in different groupings -- some on
crutches, others in wheelchairs, are gathered around the
What in blazes?...
The interview you gave was
syndicated in Sunday papers all
over the country.
Franklin looks up at Tom, dumbfounded.
They're here to see you.
This news hits Franklin with the force of a sledgehammer.
PAT DOYLE, 50, is stuffed into his wheelchair with a huge
cigar between his fat lips.
is eyebrows have a life of their own. He wheels himself to
Mr. Roosevelt, Pat Doyle. I've come
all the way from Minneapolis to
shake your hand, sir.
He reaches out his hand to Franklin.
Stuck in this chair I do nothing
but read. Newspapers, mostly.
Usually I'm just looking for
something -- anything -- that'll
tell me there's even the slightest
chance I'll walk again.
Franklin is uncomfortable, especially as Pat won't let go of
I really don't know what to say.
Well, you're here. And we're here.
Together... we'll think of
Franklin looks to Tom and gestures for him to come closer.
Get me out of here.
EXT. MERIWETHER INN - GROUNDS - DAY
Franklin is pushing the chair himself along the dirt path,
his anger propelling F
him away from Tom.
I want no part of this. I come here
This isn't your personal spa!
I have a business to run.
Exactly. You have a business to
run, not I!
No one's asking anything of you!
Of course they are!
Do you know what it took for most
of them to get here?
It's not my concern. I want to be
My God, you're afraid of these people.
Afraid? What you're talking about?
You look at them with the same
repulsion and pity as everyone else.
Don't be ridiculous. I resent your
trying to --
You don't want to be around them
because then that would make you
one of them, wouldn't it?
Franklin furiously wheels himself back towards the cottage,
getting stuck on the dirt path along the way.
God damn it!
Tom comes to his aid but he is brushed off by Franklin.
Out of my way! Get out of my
Franklin wheels himself off.
EXT. BULLOCHVILLE TRAIN STATION - DAY
Franklin, in his wheelchair, smokes a cigarette. His bags are
next to him, as is Roy. A train's whistle BLOWS and pulls in.
Right on time.
Franklin sees someone else on the platform. He squints in the
distance. It's Tom.
He walks closer towards Franklin and Roy.
Franklin nods in Tom's general direction. Tom has a telegram
in his hand which peaks Franklin's curiosity.
The train comes to a complete stop. A CONDUCTOR steps out
onto the platform. A single ELDERLY WOMAN gets off the train.
(to the Conductor)
I'm looking for a young gentleman
by the name of Botts. Fred Botts?
Don't know anything about that.
I expect he would be in a
You mean the cripple? He's in the
EXT. BAGGAGE CAR - DAY
Tom, Franklin and Roy are in front of the large door as the
Conductor pushes it back slowly.
INT. BAGGAGE CAR - DAY
Amongst crates and luggage is FRED BOTTS, a young man of
fifteen lying on the floor, unconscious. A wheelchair is next
to him, turned over on its side.
Mother of God.
Tom leaps up and into the car as does Roy leaving Franklin
below. Tom takes his wrist.
His pulse is slow.
EXT. STATION PLATFORM - DAY
Roy lays Fred on a bench. Franklin wheels himself over.
Son, can you hear me?
Tom brings a cup of water. Franklin puts it to Fred's lips.
Fred opens his eyes. They are large and brown with a
sweetness to them. His face comes alive when he recognizes
It's going to be all right, son.
e hands Franklin a worn newspaper clipping from his pocket.
The headline reads: "FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT SWIMS HIS WAY TO HEALTH!"
The conductor wouldn't let me ride
in the passenger car with my chair.
Franklin looks at the clipping, then at Fred.
When did you last eat?
Knoxville had to be three days ago.
Roy, take him to the car.
As Roy lifts Fred in his arms, Franklin wheels himself to the
engine car. Tom follows as they approach the CONDUCTOR.
Who in their right mind let's a
child ride in the baggage car!
You could have killed that boy.
He had polio. Probably still
The Conductor walks away, dismissively. Franklin pushes his
chair up and stops the Conductor in his tracks.
Don't dismiss me because I sit in
Get away from me.
Franklin pushes the wheels of his chair with such force he
knocks the Conductor over.
You ignorant son of a bitch. If I
could, I'd get up right now and
lock you in that box car! See how
you like it!
The Conductor struggles to get up.
Get this lunatic off me!
Franklin wheels himself towards Tom's car where Fred is now
lying across the back seat. The sight of Fred drains all
anger from Franklin's face.
Where's the nearest hospital?
What about a doctor?
Closer, but not by much.
The train whistle BLOWS.
Franklin looks at Fred, then at Roy and Tom.
Let's go home.
INT. COTTAGE - NIGHT
Fred lays in Franklin's bed while Franklin sits by the
bedside. Roy lays a cold compress on Fred's forehead.
ranklin is using his watch to take Fred's pulse.
Roy pulls back the sheet to give Fred air revealing his
withered legs. Alabaster skin stretched over bones.
Franklin looks away.
INT. COTTAGE - DAY
Franklin sits at a card table with his check book in front of
him. Tom stands before him, shifting uncomfortably.
How many can pay?
Fewer than half.
Franklin opens the check book and begins writing.
I want these people in the
cottages, not in the inn. It's
Well, it's the way it has to be.
What do you mean?
I've already had some complaints.
This is the start of the season,
Franklin. I've got regulars who
have come for years. Healthy folks
over all... They're threatening to
check out, afraid they might catch
Such ignorance! Don't they know
that after the fever breaks we are
no longer contagious?
I'm going to have to ask that you
not use the pool during regular
hours. I'll put time aside for you
late in the day... and it won't be
possible for you to eat in the
dining room either. But I promise
I'll find someplace suitable.
They don't want us to eat in their
Of course for you I can make other
That won't be necessary.
Franklin goes back to writing out the check. Tom stands
waiting, the sound of the pen scratching seemingly
interminable. Their mutual discomfort is obvious.
Franklin rips the check from the ledger and holds it for Tom.
We still need a doctor here.
EXT. COTTAGE - NIGHT
Franklin is in his wheelchair, writing.
"Dear Babs, Things are very
different upon my return."
INT. HYDE PARK - DAY
Eleanor sits in a chair reading Franklin's letter.
I am taking on responsibilities
which none of my schooling in the
spheres of higher learning or
politics could have prepared me
for... I have seen the casualties
of war. But I have never seen this,
a suffering so insidious, so
silent, that it rattles my soul."
INT. COTTAGE - NIGHT
Franklin is tucking Fred in for the night.
When can I swim?
Soon. When you're a little stronger.
When I'm asleep, in my dreams, I
can still walk.
How long has it been... since you
Nine years. I'd just learned to
ride a bike. After I got sick my
mom was sure that the bike had
Did she sell it?
No. She took it out back and shot it.
Franklin howls with laughter, joined by Fred.
EXT. POOL - DUSK
Franklin is in the pool with the new guests. They are all
nervously waiting to test the water.
From the looks on their faces it's clear they only want to
take their cues from Franklin.
A MOTHER carries her adorable 4 year old GIRL into the water.
And who is this delightful child?
All right Daisy, try and kick your legs.
Daisy wiggles back and forth in her MOTHER's arms giving it
her very best effort.
JAKE PERRINI, 32, Bronx-born with an upper body of steel
wheels over to Roy who is fixing a wheelchair.
Jake Perrini, Bronx, New York.
How you doin'?
Jake reaches out his hand to shake. Roy is unsure what to do.
C'mon -- I won't bite.
(shaking his hand)
Mighty fine, sir. Mighty fine.
Hey, would you mind pulling me
outta this trap, Roy? I wanna get
Roy gently lifts Jake up and out of his chair, into his arms
like a child.
Do me one more favor? Throw me in?
Roy tosses Jake to the heavens and he SAILS through the air
emitting a jungle cry of pure emotional release before
SPLASHING down hard in the water.
e bobs up to the surface. There is applause.
Now folks, these exercises are of
my own devising so bear with me.
Some laugh, some are confused. This is new territory for
My hope is that in repeating these
movements over and over in the
water I'm in some way causing the
muscles to regenerate themselves
and repair the damage.
He swims to the edge of the pool.
So everybody grab the edge of the
pool and move what you can!
hey disperse, eagerly ready to do what Franklin tells them.
Go ahead now, do your best!
Their legs barely rise up to splash the surface. Undeterred,
Franklin leads them on, spiritedly.
In the distance we see Tom, leaning against a tree, watching
INT. DINING ROOM - NIGHT
Tom oversees the dinner service of paying guests -- none of
whom have disabilities.
INT. BACK ROOM - NIGHT
Segregated in a back room, all the polio guests are gathered
for dinner seated around a couple of sawhorses with old doors
thrown across them serving as makeshift dining tables.
Roy carries DAISY in and places her in the chair next to
Do you have a reservation?
She begins to giggle. It's infectious and soon everyone has a
smile on their face, overriding the awkwardness of the
Whether in here or our there, I
guarantee you the food will taste
the same... terrible.
Shouldn't we pray first?
By all means. Would you do us the
Franklin bows his head for grace.
Bless the food on our table. Keep
us healthy, strong and able. Amen.
EXT. FACTORY - DAY
With Louis in tow, Eleanor is touring the exterior of an
ironworks factory. She is the only woman in a large gathering
"My dear Franklin, I too am
embarking on an altogether
EXT. BUILDING - DAY
leanor stands against a banner that reads "CHILD WELFARE
LEAGUE." She is passing out pamphlets to a small crowd that
"It seems everywhere I go there are
more people in dire need of help.
It would be overwhelming if not for
my deep belief that help is
INT. NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY - DAY
Eleanor is being introduced by Louis to members of the New
York State Assembly -- all men -- eager to shake her hand.
"Louis's latest flash of brilliance
is to take me 'mainstream.' He said
that you would know what he means
EXT. POOL - DAY
Franklin is in the water. Roy lifts Fred out of his
wheelchair and gently puts him in the shallow end. Franklin
receives him. Fred's face is ecstatic as he floats on his
back in the water.
"I hope you are finding your work
to be gratifying in both mind and
heart. Your beloved, Eleanor."
EXT. MERIWETHER INN - DAY
A very old car comes coughing in, steam hissing from its
HELENA MAHONEY, 43, gets out of the driver's seat. Her iron
will is matched only by her deep reserves of empathy. She
gets a good look at the Inn. This is what she has come for?
EXT. COTTAGE PORCH - DAY
Franklin and Roy, having finished lunch, are playing
checkers. Fred is sitting nearby eating a piece of pie.
Helena approaches. Roy pulls off a triple jump.
Franklin reluctantly tops Roy's checker.
You're losing, Doc.
Doc? I'm sorry, you're Franklin
Roosevelt, aren't you?
Are you a lawyer?
Then Roosevelt it is. Wait!
He jumps one of Roy's checkers.
I'm Helena Mahoney. I'm a physical
(off their blank looks)
You have no idea who I am, do you?
I wrote you a letter right after I
saw the article in the paper.
Didn't you read it?
It got read, I assure you. But
probably not by me.
Helena glances down at the checkerboard and points to it.
He's open right there.
He sure is.
Roy trounces Franklin with three swift moves.
Thank you, ma'am.
Helena sits at the table with them.
I've been studying the effects of
moist heat on polio patients and I
think with repeated exercise in
It can help them regain lost
Incredibly I've come to the same
Well, you're the doctor.
EXT. MERIWETHER INN - DAY
Helena is wheeling Franklin around the grounds.
No ramps, no running water, no
doctors... from the article in the
newspaper I assumed this was a
Don't believe everything you read.
I feel like I was brought here
under false pretenses.
Join the club.
INT. A BARN - DAY
Franklin lies across a makeshift examining table. Helena's
examination is in progress.
She is completely absorbed -- all business -- pouring over
his muscles inch by inch. She kneads, bends and stretches
them with a laser-like focus, finally picking up Franklin's
leg and rotating it out and around.
Push against my hand.
Franklin, with difficulty, tries to do so.
Give me the good news first.
Your gluteus maximus is better than
I hoped. It will serve you well.
Must be all that sitting.
I'm serious. Your right leg has
some movement along the thigh.
That's good because we can use it
to help extend your hip, flex your
knee and rotate your tibia.
I'm supposed to walk on one side?
The water may help build some
strength I'm not able to see yet.
But to do that you would need to
swim in the water much of the day.
Not the limited hours you have now.
Why should this place cater to a
few able-bodied folk when it could
be opened year round with polios?
EXT. MERIWETHER INN - DAY
Tom is pushing Franklin in his wheelchair.
There's a need for a place like
Are you aware NKLIN(cont'd)
FRA that in the last
epidemic over 16,000 people got
polio in the New York area alone?
Sounds like you've been reading up.
I wish there was more to read. Damn
few things being written about any
of this. To think of someone like
Fred... locked away... his mind and
heart so vibrant...
It's a waste. An awful waste.
Franklin takes a beat -- the weight of this sinking in.
What's the acreage here?
Roughly twelve hundred or so. Why?
I want to buy it. I think it would
make one hell of an investment.
Twelve hundred acres? Enough for
two resorts, don't you think?
It would take money. There's a lot
of land, rebuilding the inn, adding
ramps and so many people can't pay...
Do you think old Peabody will sell?
How can you be so sure?
Have you taken a look at this
INT. TOM'S OFFICE - DAY
Franklin sits in his chair at a desk.
(full of charm)
Peabody you old reprobate! How are
Tom is pacing back and forth
You'll never guess why I'm calling.
EXT. MERIWETHER INN - MAIN ENTRANCE - DAY
Helena is training a group of YOUNG MEN how to lift and carry
using a raven haired young woman, ELOISE HUTCHISON, 18, as
the test model. She sits shyly in her wheelchair before them.
Woodhall, this is Eloise. Lift her
WOODHALL BUSEY, 17, has bright red hair and a face full of
freckles. Over six feet tall he has spent his life working in
the fields. W
He picks Eloise up effortlessly, then sets her back down.
Very good! Watch her braces.
Woodhall kneels before Eloise like Prince Charming, carefully
straightening out her legs.
You're light as a ...
He notices the long jagged scars along Eloise's wrists.
Eloise, sensing his eyes, self-consciously pulls down her
sleeves. He stares at her questioningly.
I was a dancer...
Tom and Franklin come out. Franklin gives a questioning look
to Helena, pondering how these boys have suddenly appeared.
Good news... I raided the pool
hall. I call them my Push Boys.
Welcome Push Boys! Good day, Eloise.
Hello, Mr. Roosevelt.
Want to tell them your good news?
Franklin is smiling like the cat that ate the canary.
It's hardly a done deal, but for
better or worse, you may be looking
at the new owner of this God-
INT. COTTAGE - EVENING
A free wheeling game of poker. Heavy with cigarette and cigar
smoke, Franklin, Tom, Fred, Jake and Pat are playing.
Polio's always going to be a losing
financial proposition, but it doesn't
mean you shouldn't buy the place.
I am buying it. Make no mistake
Good for you, Doc.
If you don't mind my asking, how
will people pay for the services
you are going to offer here? Most
people with polio have a hard enough
time making ends meet as it is.
The boy makes a good point, Franklin.
Not everything in this world has to
be about profits.
I'll see your twenty-five and raise
C'mon will ya! The night's still
It's twenty-five cents not twenty-
Don't mind him, Tom. He's a cheap
Fred and Pat fold immediately as does Franklin.
Too rich for my blood.
Fine! Here's your twenty-five! You
better have something.
They eyeball each other. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Take it. I was bluffing.
Gleefully, Jake slaps his hands together and rakes in the pot.
(handing Franklin a fresh
Your deal, Doc.
Very well. Gentlemen, the game is
Five Card Stud, sevens are wild.
Sevens are wild and you can all go
EXT. MERIWETHER INN - GROUNDS - DAWN
The sun is about to rise. Tom's car is parked in front of the
Inn, pulled up very close to the main entrance. The trunk is
Tom, struggling with a suitcase, comes down the ramp. He
deposits it in the trunk and then walks precariously back up
the ramp, having difficulty navigating the incline.
He goes back into the house for one last bag. When he comes
out, he's surprised by what he sees --
Where do you think you're going?
Franklin is being pushed by Roy in his wheelchair. They are
both dressed in pajamas and bathrobes, though Franklin has a
blanket around his shoulders to shield him from the morning
Tom is caught. This is everything he wanted to avoid.
Going to Asheville to see my
From the sight of Tom's car stuffed with luggage, it is clear
he is not coming back.
I can't do this without you...
we're only just beginning.
You. (You're beginning, not me.
I've got cancer, Franklin. It's
Franklin is stunned -- utterly thrown.
I... I'll take you to the best doctors.
We'll go to Atlanta right now --
I've seen the best doctors. When
you were in New York they opened me
up for the second time. Now I just
want to die in the bed I was born.
Franklin is struggling with this.
You're going to do great things.
This place has an identity now --
a purpose. It has you.
Any guard Franklin had is gone. He reaches out and takes Tom
by the sleeve slipping his hand into Tom's gripping it tightly.
Take care of yourself, Roy.
God be with you, Mr. Loyless.
Tom takes one last look at Franklin.
You never pitied me. Thank you for that.
On the contrary, I envy you.
I will miss you all the days of my
Tom gets into his car and looks at Franklin with a smile.
Good luck, Franklin.
With a wave he slowly lurches down the long driveway and
turns onto the main road. Franklin watches the car until it
is out of sight.
INT. HYDE PARK, NEW YORK - LIBRARY - DAY
Sara paces wildly, waving a letter at Eleanor and Louis.
He wants to use his entire trust
fund to buy that... leper colony!
Franklin has invited Louis and me
to see the work he's been doing.
Work! Playing in a pool all day
long? Squandering his birthright on
a group of fawning strangers? I
consider this your fault, Eleanor!
I beg your pardon, Mama?
You have indulged him and this is
Indulged him? I have indulged him?
Sara looks away.
He's a grown man who makes his own
But he does not need to buy it.
If it's of any comfort to you, I
I'm against it as well. It will
consume too much of his time and
Then it is settled. We tell him no.
No, it is not settled. We must hear
him out. Louis and I must see for
ourselves the work that he has been
doing then we will all discuss this
nd tell him no.
They all look at each other for a moment. For once they agree.
Perhaps I have underestimated you.
Perhaps you have. But that has been
my fault, not yours.
EXT. MERIWETHER INN - DAY
Fred, on crutches, swings himself up using one side and then
the next under Helena's supervision.
Excellent, Fred! Keep going...
They are surrounded by many others, Franklin, Eloise,
Woodhall, Pat and Jake.
The BEEPING of a car horn gets their immediate attention.
Roy leaps off the porch, skipping the stairs as his brother
Pete drives up in Tom's car. He parks it and steps out.
Morning, Mr. Roosevelt.
Peter, what are you doing with
I was as sorry as anyone to hear
about Mr. Loyless's passing. Wished
he coulda' lived to see this!
What are you talking about?
Mr. Loyless had me come up and
fetch this right after he brung it
to Asheville. "Pete, he said, "Take
this home and fix it up for Mr.
Pete... I can't drive a car.
You can now.
Roy opens the passenger door and lifts Franklin into the
Get on in and I'll teach ya'!
He begins showing off a system of pulleys and levers that
have been attached to both pedals. They thread through holes
in a second dashboard, attached to polished wood knobs.
It's a hand-controlled automobile.
That one there is your brake.
And this here's the gas.
Hot damn! You got hand controls.
That is a thing of beauty!
Franklin begins running his hands over the polished wood knobs.
Now you got to push it real smooth
or it goes all herky-jerky.
Franklin excitedly turns the key and starts it up.
Wait, Mr. Roosevelt, you're not
ready to drive yet!
Oh, yes I am!
Franklin hits the gas as the car begins HALTING and JERKING
the whole way down the driveway. Pete is yelling out
instructions but Franklin ignores him.
They all watch as he pulls away.
As the car hits the end of the driveway Franklin reaches
across Pete and opens his passenger door pushing him out.
Franklin tears off alone -- out on his first solo spin.
EXT. COUNTRY ROAD - DAY
99 F 99
ranklin is driving by himself with the top down, thrilled to
be moving on his own. No one is pushing him. He's free. The
car covers miles of farmland, passing pine forests, peach
orchards and cotton fields.
EXT. BULLOCHVILLE TRAIN STATION - MORNING
A spent and anxious Eleanor, with Louis in tow, stands on the
station platform, suitcase in hand.
It's a far cry from Grand Central
They are both silent for a moment.
The wire said someone would be here
to pick us up.
The sounds of tires screeching and a car horn cause them to
It is Franklin, sitting in the driver's seat of his car.
Your chariot awaits, Madame!
Louis promptly drops the luggage. Then he and Eleanor walk
over to the car, taking in the hand-controls.
When did you learn to drive this
EXT. COUNTRY ROAD - DAY
Franklin drives wild and fast. Louis hat flies right off his
head. Eleanor just holds on.
EXT. MERIWETHER INN - DAY
Franklin, Eleanor and Louis pull up to the Inn. Though the
brush has been cleared and the trees are newly trimmed, it's
still a wreck. Franklin is too proud to concede Louis and
Can't wait to give you the tour!
EXT. GROUNDS - DAY
Franklin wheels himself along the circular driveway, pointing
things out, almost manic in his energy.
A small schoolhouse will go there.
We need it badly as many of the
children are barred from the local
schools due to their infirmities.
He points to a dilapidated gardener's shed.
We also require a blacksmith's shop
so we can craft braces here on the
premises. I've found a wonderful
local man who can make crutches and
canes. His work is outstanding. Of
course what is most desperately
needed is a hospital. That's going
to put my fund raising abilities to
Franklin wheels himself up a ramp to the Inn as Eleanor and
INT. LOBBY - CONTINUOUS
Surrounded by peeling wallpaper and threadbare furniture
Eleanor and Louis exchange glances.
What exactly are you proposing,
That this will be the first polio
rehabilitation and treatment center
in the world. My personal trust
almost covers the price of the Inn
and the surrounding land. There
will be a modest tuition charged to
the patients which should hold us
over while I seek out investors.
Franklin, you're risking everything
And there are other costs to
Mama will see that the children are
I'm not speaking of money.
I have found something here which
makes waking up in the morning
remotely bearable and the two of
you stand there...
Franklin, I need for you to be
practical and realistic.
Practical? I am trapped inside a
body that no longer moves of my own
volition. I am trying to be
practical. Now either you're with
me or against me. In or out!
I don't care for ultimatums
disguised as debate.
Eleanor starts to leave.
Where are you going? Eleanor! Get
I will see you gentlemen tonight.
You can't talk to her like that.
Oh really? Are you an expert on
this now? How should I speak to my
With the respect she deserves.
Look, I don't deny the work you're
doing here could be important --
The issue is whether you want to
run a rehabilitation center or
whether you want to run for office
When I can walk, I'll run.
EXT. POOL - DAY
Eleanor approaches the pool. It is as quiet as a church. She
is stunned to observe over a dozen tables set up in the
On each table is a child or an adult polio wearing their
bathing suit. Next to them is a Physical Therapist also in
bathing attire conducting therapy. In hushed tones the
Physical Therapists encourage and work the distressed limbs
of the patients as Helena swims to each table overseeing the
work being done.
Eleanor sits down in a chair and watches fascinated.
INT. DINING ROOM - EVENING
The camera pans various tables revealing legs in braces,
legs in wheelchairs, shapely legs, flaccid legs, children's
legs... some reveal illicit romances, betrayed by secret
hand holding and hands on thighs.
Jake and a new physical therapist, MARY BETH, are
This is a very special night we're
celebrating. At last we are together
eating in this dining room!
The hands come up and out from under the table, applauding.
He is in his wheelchair dressed in a jacket and tie.
Now please join me in welcoming
Miss Jackie Mills, a new arrival
along with her father, Samuel, all
the way from Oakland, California.
CLOSE-UP ON JACKIE
Eight years old with black hair. Her legs are in braces and
she grips her father's hand tightly.
Let us also take this opportunity to
welcome our two able-bodied guests,
Mr. Louis Howe and my better half,
Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt.
ON ELEANOR AND LOUIS
Waving politely from their seats.
Now for the musical portion of our
Wait a minute! I can't let this
opportunity pass without saying out
loud what a lot of us feel in our
hearts right now.
You're a man among men, Franklin.
A WOMAN'S VOICE
It's a real democracy at Warm
Springs -- everybody gets heard!
Eleanor, seated next to Franklin, watches as Franklin, in a
rare moment of emotional nakedness, is at a loss for words.
All right then, if I may do the
honors of presenting to you the
lovely Miss Eloise Hutchison of
Eloise wheels herself out. In a sweet, but untrained voice,
she begins the introduction to her song:
"Think of what you're losing by
constantly refusing to dance with me.
Aou'd be the idol of France with me.
nd yet you stand there
And shake your foolish head dramatically,
hile I sit here so ecstatically.
You just look and say emphatically:
Not this season!
There's a reason!"
Some members of the audience begin to smile, knowing what's
coming. Various STAFF step out from the kitchen to watch.
Eloise is joined by three others -- all of them in wheelchairs.
ELOISE & CHORUS
"I won't dance! Don't ask me!
I won't dance! Don't ask me;
I won't dance, monsieur, with you."
Simple, but clever choreography utilizing the wheelchairs,
has the audience cheering.
ELOISE & CHORUS
"My heart won't let my feet do
things they should do."
"You know what? You're lovely."
"And so what? I'm lovely."
"But oh! What you do to me!
I'm like an ocean wave that's
bumped on the shore;
I feel so absolutely stumped on the
This is too much for the crowd, including Franklin, Eleanor
and Louis. They laugh and cry in equal measure at the sight
of Eloise and her Chorus.
The song finished, Franklin quiets down the crowd.
Before we say good night,
I understand our Royal-Taskmaster-
in-Residence, Miss Mahoney, insists
on having the last word.
Helena rises from her seat.
I don't think words describe
adequately what Daisy and I would
like to show all of you.
Are you ready, Daisy?
Daisy's mother, Cecile, carries Daisy to the center of the
room where Helena meets them. Helena bends down and removes
The room is hushed.
Daisy then begins to WALK tentatively towards her mother.
Overwhelmed by what is taking place. He looks around and
takes in the sight of so many different faces...
Some are beaming, some are fighting back tears, some look
away... the sight of it almost too painful... a reminder of
their own private battles.
Only a step or two away from her mother she FALLS the short
distance and lands in her mother's outstretched arms.
WILD CHEERS go up in the room while Daisy's face glows with
pride. She connects with Franklin, who matches her smile with
his own -- genuine and beatific.
INT. COTTAGE - BEDROOM - NIGHT
Roy lifts Franklin out of the wheelchair and on to the bed.
Eleanor enters holding a lit candle.
Roy is about to begin Franklin's bedtime routine, but Eleanor
gently reaches out and touches him on the arm.
Roy looks to Franklin, who nods it's all right, and exits.
Eleanor closes the door and puts the candle on the bureau.
fter a beat, Franklin begins to unbuckle his pants. He then
lies back on the bed.
What is your most pressing concern?
Eleanor kneels before him and tugs the pants down, slowly, so
as not to catch on the braces.
Eleanor folds the pants and carefully places them over the
back of a chair.
Getting a doctor to live on the
premises full-time. Someone who,
at the very least, could monitor
our progress. Make us legitimate.
She begins to take off Franklin's braces -- a series of
Eleanor slides the braces off his legs. His legs, though now
deeply tanned are withered and spindly. He is still wearing
And that costs more money.
Eleanor puts the heavy braces against the wall and kneels
once again to untie his shoelaces.
But the real problem is no one is
interested. The annual Orthopedics
Convention is being held in Atlanta
this weekend and I offered to
(his anger surfacing)
They turned me down flat.
Eleanor takes Franklin's pajama bottoms off the bed and with
tender care pulls them up his legs.
A few weeks ago, the conditions at
a garment factory on West 27th
Street were brought to my
attention. The owners claimed
everything was satisfactory, but
would never let anyone in to
conduct a proper inspection.
She reaches for Franklin's hands and pulls him up to a seated
position. They are now face to face.
It took awhile, but we finally got in.
He searches her face for clues as to the woman she's become.
He starts to unbutton his shirt and put on his pajama top.
Eleanor sits in a chair across from him.
I showed up with someone from the
Labor Board and we refused to leave
until they let us in.
What are you suggesting?
At the risk of my good standing
with the Junior Assistance League,
I suggest we crash the party.
She stands and walks over to Franklin and runs her hand
through his hair. E
Good night, Franklin.
She goes to the door and opens it letting in a shaft of light
against the candle-lit room.
Good night, Babs.
She blows the candle out and closes the door.
EXT. ATLANTA STREET - DAY
Franklin's car pulls up to a massive stone building built in
Greek revival style. Franklin looks intimidated -- there are
two dozen stairs leading up to the main entrance.
EXT. CONVENTION CENTER - CONTINUOUS
Roy climbs the stairs like a stevedore with Franklin slung
over his shoulder. Using enormous force, Eleanor is pulling
the chair up and over each step while walking backwards up
INT. AMPHITHEATER - DAY
The stage is lit with a skeleton hanging on a stand and large
projections on a screen of spinal discs while a DOCTOR, in a
dull litany, intones a prepared speech.
A clinical situation where the
radicular or nerve root is
compressed by the prolapsed disc is
referred to as a radiculopathy.
Double doors fly open with a BANG as all heads turn to see
Franklin and Eleanor.
So sorry we're late!
Eleanor talks quickly while wheeling Franklin down the aisle.
Eleanor Roosevelt, niece of the
late President Theodore Roosevelt
and this is my husband, Franklin,
former Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
(sotto to Eleanor)
Are you sure this worked on 27th
(under her breath)
It seemed to at the time.
They reach the befuddled Doctor on stage whose name tag
reads, "Dr. Bissell."
Thank you, Dr. Bissell for agreeing
to let us share the stage with you
today. It was so generous of you.
Dr. Bissell smiles limply, saving face. The audience vaguely
applauds. Franklin and Eleanor are now center stage.
My husband, as many of you may have
read, is a victim of polio.
However, victim is only a
definition, not a state of mind.
He looks at her completely amazed. Eleanor gives him an
encouraging nod to take over.
We all know that poor circulation
is a chronic problem for limbs
damaged by polio... I've never been
able to swim more than a few
minutes without becoming too cold.
But there's a place, gentlemen...
a miraculous place not three hours
from here where the water is filled
with natural minerals at a
temperature of almost 90 degrees.
That place, gentlemen, is called
One DOCTOR in particular, 60's, leans forward in his chair,
listening with great interest.
Patients can stay in these waters
for up to an hour. This is
essential in allowing them the time
to work on strengthening their
We have come to the shared
conclusion that research for the
cause and the cure for infantile
paralysis is paramount.
However, until NOR(cont'd)
ELEA that day arrives
more emphasis has be placed on
rehabilitation. We personally
invite you to Warm Springs to come
and take a look. Thank you.
ON THE AUDIENCE
These "men of science" are mesmerized by Eleanor's style,
both warm and immediate. She has disarmed them with her lack
ON FRANKLIN and ELEANOR
Their two separate journeys intersecting -- lightning in a
INT. LOBBY - DAY
There is a receiving line in place to get a last word or an
autograph with Franklin and Eleanor. DR. WILLIS,
bespectacled, speaks with them.
I saw you speak at the Legion Hall
in Cleveland last Spring.
For the League of Women Voters?
You created quite a stir. Not sure
you'll be asked back.
Franklin is ready to intervene but Eleanor puts her hand on
his shoulder stopping him.
Well, I believe you must say what
you feel in your heart -- what you
feel is right, for you'll be
criticized anyway. Damned if you do
-- damned if you don't.
DR. HEBERT, military in bearing -- the doctor who listened so
intensely -- steps up in line and shakes hands with Eleanor
and then Franklin.
Dr. Peter Hebert. I've been doing
my own studies in this area.
If it is possible I'd like to come
and make an evaluation for the
Journal of Orthopedic Medicine.
Franklin looks to Eleanor, elated.
The sooner the better.
EXT. FRANKLIN'S CAR - TWILIGHT
Roy is fast asleep tucked around the wheelchair in the back
Franklin smiles in Eleanor's direction. She looks back at him
shyly and smiles in return. But her expression changes when
she sees something in his eyes -- something she hasn't seen
for a long time.
What is it?
Who are you?
Franklin reaches out and takes her hand, pulling her close.
He stretches his whole arm around her and places her hand on
one of the driving knobs, his hand on top of hers.
I don't know how to drive.
I'll teach you.
They operate the car together -- their connection complete.
EXT. TRAIN STATION - DAY
Franklin and Eleanor are sitting in the front seat of the
car. Louis is already up on the train platform.
I'll break the news to Mama.
Franklin smiles as they look at each other like two naughty
I think it's going to be fun.
Eleanor bursts out laughing, Franklin joins in.
Babs... words fail me.
You? Franklin Roosevelt?
She leans in and kisses Franklin on the mouth.
I do so love you.
She slides out of the car and goes up to the platform and
boards the train while Franklin watches her.
Farmer and his Wife from the school house graduation
Mr. Roosevelt you lookin' mighty fit.
Fine day, isn't it.
It is. How's the Boll Weevil
I expect the Boll Weevil is always
gonna be a situation, Mr.
Roosevelt, but thanks for askin'.
Franklin's energy and vitality are infectious. The politician
within him is being reborn.
INT. TRAIN CAR - DAY
A beaming Eleanor sits down next to Louis. He too is looking
very pleased. Eleanor takes notice.
Why do I get the feeling we're not
smiling about the same thing?
The train begins pulling out.
They both look out at Franklin. Locals are coming up to his
car surrounding him -- he is a magnet.
INT. STATE ASSEMBLY, N.Y. - VIEWING SECTION - DAY
Louis is seated in the front row of the balcony of the State
Assembly, his feet up on the railing, eating pistachio nuts.
Also seated are two politicos, JAMES HASTINGS and STEPHEN
You can't kiss babies from a
wheelchair. It'll scare their
mothers half to death.
Al Smith's got a lock on the
Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't
you think even after all these
years that old Al's still a little
rough around the edges?
They laugh knowing this is a huge understatement.
Franklin can help soften his image.
Let him put Smith's name in
Teller and Hastings are none to sure.
Well, he is a helluva speech maker.
Yeah, but is your man up to it?
It's in the bag, guys. Count on it.
Bluffing is one of Louis's strong suits and it looks like
they're buying it.
Just then, Louis notices a familiar face down on the floor.
Hey, Stansbury, give my best to the
(to Hastings and Teller)
He's lost weight. Must've been the
INT. MERIWETHER INN - HALLWAY - MORNING
A line stretches outside with patients waiting to be seen.
Among them is Franklin, chatting with everyone else,
expecting and receiving no priority attention.
INT. MERIWETHER INN - DAY ROOM - MORNING
Dr. Hebert is examining Daisy. Helena is by his side, filling
him in on her case history.
INT. MERIWETHER INN - NIGHT
Helena, dressed in a robe, walks the halls of the Inn.
Something is amiss.
EXT. GROUNDS - NIGHT
An empty wheelchair, illuminated by a sliver of moonlight.
On a blanket nearby are Jake and Mary Beth.
he unbuttons his shirt and runs her hands over his
impressively developed upper body. They begin to kiss
hungrily, passionately -- completely in their own world.
Several yards away, across the lawn, Eloise is in
Woodhall's arms -- they are dancing. He is singing softly
into her ear as they sway, her feet never touching the ground.
NT. MERIWETHER INN - NIGHT
Helena, in a nightgown, is looking out a window into the
distance. Fiercely protective and slightly envious of her
charges, she pulls a pack of cigarettes from her bathrobe
pocket and steals a solitary smoke.
EXT. COTTAGE - NIGHT
Franklin seated alone on the porch in the darkness. He drags
on his cigarette and the red glow illuminates the contours of
his face in repose.
INT. MERIWETHER INN - FRONT DESK - DAY
Franklin is on the phone. Roy stands by his side.
Hello, Souders. How are you?...
Couldn't be better. I was wondering
if you'd found a buyer for my naval
I see. Well, they're in marvelous
condition... All right, Souders. Oh
one more thing... I have some
beautiful pieces of my
Grandfather's -- T'ang Dynasty...
Really?... An auction in the Fall?
That sounds promising. I'll be in
Franklin hangs up and sits deep in thought. He rubs his
perspiring forehead with the back of his hand. He looks down
at his hand and sees that it is shaking.
EXT. GROUNDS - DAY
Franklin is walking on crutches aided by Roy. Nearby, a group
of children practice on parallel bars with Helena.
What am I going to tell these people
if I have to close things down?
That you did the best you could.
Franklin gives Roy a look of gratitude, then notices Lionel
approaching with his mail bag.
Lionel hands Franklin a fistful of open envelopes.
Any good news?
Creditors are gettin' cranky.
The operative word was good.
Oh, yah, almost forgot. The doctor
that came and studied ya'll sent
Lionel offers up the envelope, but then pulls it back before
handing it over.
Save me the stamps?
Franklin nods then grabs it from Lionel. He rips it open and
begins devouring the report.
"... therefore, in conclusion, my
research has shown that the
overwhelming majority of patients
here have shown some improvement.
Enough for me to recommend warm
water therapy as the standard post
polio treatment to the Orthopedics
Society of America!"
he grips Roy's arm)
Something catches Franklin's eye and his smile begins to fade.
What is it, sir?
INT. COTTAGE - NIGHT
Helena entering the cottage.
It's not as bad as you think.
Franklin slams the door behind her and wheels over to the
table. He throws back a drink -- clearly not his first.
Read it. Out loud. Page twenty-nine.
"Of the twenty three patients examined
only one, a forty-four year old male,
showed little visible signs of
improvement..." This is one doctor's
"There is marked falling away of
the muscle masses on either side of
the spine in the lower lumbar
region. His lower extremities
present a most depressing picture."
She brings the pages down, but Franklin gestures her to
"I feel after studying him that the
psychological factor in his
management is paramount. He has
such courage and ambition. Yet at
the same time he is such an
extraordinarily sensitive emotional
It is difficult for her to continue.
... that it will take all the skill
which we can muster to lead him
successfully to a recognition of
his severe physical limitations
without crushing him."
Patronizing son-of-a-bitch! I
wanted to walk again.
And you still might. This report
legitimizes we've worked so hard
for. We can raise funs now. It
could change everything!
It won't change anything for me.
Franklin, I won't play this game. I
won't feel sorry for you.
e reaches for the bottle, but Helena grabs on to it,
I met a boy today, ten years old.
He's paralyzed from the waist down.
Why don't you go regale him with
vivid tales about your trips to
Europe and playing football at
school. Tell him how you courted
your wife and fathered children.
Tell him of a life he can only
I can't help you out of a hole if I
climb in with you. Then we're both
INT. MERIWETHER INN - FRONT DESK - DAY
Fred, wearing a bow tie and an oversized jacket, is proudly
polishing off a desktop sign that reads: "FRED BOTTS:
DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS."
Helena is behind him reading a file.
Here's another one he's refusin'.
He throws a telegram onto an already large stack.
Why don't you read it?
Don't like telegrams. All them
STOPS and stuff.
Make you dizzy, Lionel.
A little bit.
Fred eyes the telegram, then impulsively grabs it, ripping it
"Would be honored if you place my
name in nomination for President.
STOP. The party needs you. STOP.
Yours sincerely, Al Smith."
The Governor of New York.
handing it to Lionel)
Why don't you slide it under
All right. Probably slide it
Lionel leaves. Fred and Helena are silent for a moment.
He won't go. He doesn't want to be
seen walking on crutches or being
wheeled to the podium.
The millions listening on radio
won't be able to see that.
But all the people at the
Helena nods, "That's right."
INT. COTTAGE - AFTERNOON
Responding to a knock at the door, Roy gets up from sitting
on the couch with Franklin, sullen and inattentive.
e opens the door to Louis who walks right in.
Good afternoon, Mr. Howe.
Roy takes his hat and coat and exits to the bedroom.
I can't believe you've made me come
all the way back to this hell hole!
I've done no such thing.
I'm here to take you to Houston.
You started your speech yet?
I'm not going.
He stares at Franklin, drinking. Shaking his head, he goes
over to the sidebar and pours one for himself.
You know what this is, don't you?
It's a golden opportunity. A
springboard for you to run for
ranklin is silent. Frustrated, Louis takes a seat in
Franklin's empty wheelchair.
Ever hear of a Civil War General
named Francis Nicholls?
Well, I never heard of him either.
But this was one brave son-of-a-
bitch. Fought for the Confederacy
and lost his left arm in one battle
and his left foot in another. Then
after the war he ran and won the
Governorship of Louisiana -- twice!
He was a war hero.
Look, I've worked like a dog to
keep your name in play, grovelling
at the feet of the powers-that-be
in back rooms.
As much for you as for me.
I'll be damned if I'm going to let
you pass up a chance like this.
It's time -- and you're ready.
EXT. COTTAGE - AFTERNOON
Waiting on the porch are Eleanor and Helena, who are seated,
talking. Louis exits the cottage, defeated.
Eleanor rises and goes into the cottage as Louis takes her
seat next to Helena.
INT. COTTAGE - CONTINUING
Roy, so good to see you.
Very good to see you, Mrs.
She approaches a surprised Franklin. Leaning in, she runs a
hand across his stubbly beard. He looks up at her.
You're a mess.
The report. I'll never...
She sits by his side and Franklin begins to cry. His sobs
grow louder connecting to the despair deep inside him. It
unleashes an avalanche of grief.
Oh my darling...
I'm useless, Eleanor. I feel so
That's not true. No one can make
you feel inferior without your
Finally, his sobs subside.
You have done a brilliant thing
here -- a magnificent thing.
Eleanor picks up the E
doctor's report and puts it in the fire.
Let's get you in the water.
EXT. THE POOL - DAY
Franklin is wheeled down to the pool by Roy and Eleanor. When
they get closer, Franklin makes out someone already swimming.
ELLIOT ROOSEVELT is now 17 years old. He has his mother's
enormous blue eyes and his father's natural charisma.
Come on! You getting in?
Louis and Helena approach the pool.
I sense a conspiracy.
You ain't seen nothin' yet.
ranklin smiles, warily.
EXT. A CLEARING - DAY
Elliot is climbing a rope dangling high from a tree as
Franklin and Eleanor look up at him. Franklin is standing on
Elliot descends with a flourish as Helena approaches Franklin
with a single cane.
Franklin, let go of your crutches.
You're not going to need them.
We're going to make your arms
function as your legs.
How is that possible?
Elliot, go to your father and stand
on his left side.
Think this may work, Pop.
Eleanor, take the crutch.
Eleanor takes one crutch as Helena takes the other, replacing
it in Franklin's hand with a cane.
Then, with Elliot on Franklin's left side she bends Elliot's
arm at a right angle, like a parallel bar, and hooks
Franklin's left arm around his.
Going over to Franklin's right side she puts a cane in his hand.
Now use your right shoulder and
pull your left leg forward.
He does so.
Good! Now with the muscles in your
left shoulder, pull your right leg.
One small bump and I'll land right
on my keister!
That's what Elliot is for. He's
going to hold you up. Hitch your
leg! Come on!
Franklin and Elliot attempt to walk. It requires immense
strength and effort on both their parts.
(ever the taskmaster)
Elliot, don't lean in -- stand up
straight. Pull against him. He
After one or two steps the enormity of it overwhelms Franklin.
I'm strong, pop. You can't hurt me.
You can do this, Franklin! Keep
They start the walk again. It's awkward... difficult... but
(under his breath)
I'll be damned.
Franklin stops, exhausted.
Franklin, are you all right?
I'm fine. I'm just...
Roy runs in with a chair and helps Franklin into it as
Helena, Eleanor, Louis, Elliot and Roy all look at him,
This isn't a replacement for the real
work we're doing to get you on your
feet again, understand? No one is
throwing in the towel or even agreeing
with that doctor's report...
I know, I know.
I know it's not practical --
No, it's not.
Franklin looks at Louis, then to Eleanor, and realizes that
this could be it.
EXT. GROUNDS - AFTERNOON
Franklin and Elliot are walking. Helena is close behind,
Use Elliot, not the cane. Switch
your weight to Elliot... good! Keep
your head up.
Off to the side Pat, Jake, Eloise, Woodhall and Daisy are
having an informal picnic, observing Franklin.
Why is he working so hard to hide it?
He doesn't have a choice.
Oh, I disagree.
How can you disagree? "There but
for the grace of God goes us,"
that's what they're saying. As if
our bodies is who we are, but it's
not. It's our souls is who we are,
but they don't know that.
I wish he could just wheel himself
out there in front of everybody.
He can't do that Eloise, it's
It's not gonna matter if he hides
his legs as long as he don't hide
what he knows. And what he knows is
what it's like to be one of us.
ranklin, getting closer, raises his cane in greeting.
Good afternoon, everyone!
Off-balance Franklin goes down hard bringing Elliot down with
Eleanor, Louis and Roy all rush to his aid, but Helena is
Take a moment to catch your breath...
Damn. You okay son?
I'm fine, Pop.
You fell down.
Yes, I did, Daisy. Twelfth time
today. Must be a new record!
Daisy laughs as do the others, though some can't hide their
Franklin struggles hard as Roy and Elliot help him to his
INT. COTTAGE - NIGHT
Eleanor is packing Franklin's suitcase while Franklin,
sitting up in bed dressed in pajamas, works on his speech.
And so America must find...
No, America needs a pathfinder...
Louis, pacing in shirtsleeves, nods approvingly.
To emblaze the trail along a high
road that will avoid... avoid the
Discouraged, Franklin pushes aside the pages.
What is it? What's wrong?
What if I fall... trying to get to
If you fall, you show them how to
No, if I fall in front of thousands
of people I lose everything but
They'll be writing my obituary
before I get up off the floor.
Elliot won't let you fall, he'll be
there. All the arrangements have
been made, boss. It'll be fine.
Who are we fooling? This will never
work. They'll never let me back
into politics. They'll never see
past my legs.
My darling, they'll never see past
your legs unless you do.
EXT. MERIWETHER INN - MORNING
Franklin is settling into the driver's seat of his car, aided
by Roy. Eleanor is seated next to him; Louis and Elliot in
Franklin's attention is diverted by something he sees
It is the entire Warm Springs group coming down the driveway
in chairs and on crutches.
All the patients, the Push Boys, the physical therapists,
Helena, Jake, Fred, Aunt Sally, Eloise and Lionel.
Don't worry, Doc -- we're not
coming with you.
Oh, you'll be with me. No question
I am proud more than you will ever
know to be part of this community.
(his voice growing
A community based not on birthright
or privilege, but on compassion and
courage. The true power of these
waters is that they brought us all
together. Our ability to help one
another is what will make our
victory over polio endure. Our
ability to survive... despite the
ranklin looks out at the sea of faces.
What we have done and will continue
to do until this disease is
defeated is come together -- like a
family -- and do what we do best...
(his voice breaking)
Lift each other up.
Franklin starts the car as the crowd begins to disperse.
Then, spying Helena, Franklin calls out to her.
Miss Mahoney I need to speak with
Off her smile, Franklin reaches into his pocket and withdraws
a small box.
He hands it to Helena. She just stares at it, at a loss for
She does so, tentatively, revealing a ladies watch.
Don't wear it in the pool.
I'll try not to. Good luck,
I'm throwing myself to the wolves.
You've faced worse. And if they
bite, you can come back here.
I'll always come back here.
Helena steps away and Franklin pulls out and down the
INT. HOUSTON TRAIN STATION - NIGHT
Dark and deserted Roy is carrying Franklin down a flight of
stairs. Louis is hastily checking over his shoulder. If
possible, Eleanor appears even more nervous than Louis.
You're being superstitious, Louis.
There aren't any reporters here.
Suddenly out of the darkness a FLASHBULB POPS revealing a
dozen or more REPORTERS staring incomprehensibly at the sight
of a six foot, 200 lb. man being carried like a baby in the
arms of a black man.
No one does or says a thing. The PHOTOGRAPHER who had the
wherewithal to snap the one picture raises his camera to take
But DAN REED, a reporter for The New York Herald Tribune and
a gentle giant at over six foot-four, reaches out and places
a massive hand over the lens.
Slowly, but firmly, he pulls the camera down.
Louis and Eleanor stand stock still, tense, watching the
Roy is sweating; his arms growing weak. Elliot brings the
chair around and Roy gently lowers Franklin into it.
It's a measure of Reed's standing with this group that his
authority is unquestioned.
But the Photographer raises his camera again. Only now Reed
isn't as kind. He grabs the camera from him and opens the
back, pulling out the film and exposing it.
(tipping his hat)
Good to see you, Mr. Roosevelt.
INT. CONVENTION HALL - HOUSTON - NIGHT
The enormous arena is empty but for some maintenance WORKERS
and JANITORS. Louis enters and makes his way to the stage.
He approaches dead center and stands behind the podium looking
out. GRIPPING the podium hard he ROCKS it back and forth.
Taking no chances, he pulls a hammer out from the rear of his
waistband and a bunch of nails from his coat pocket.
Looking around to see if anyone is paying any attention to
him he quickly ducks down behind the podium.
The sound of HAMMERING fills the hall as Louis, on his knees,
NAILS the podium to the floor.
INT. CONVENTION HALL - DAY
Twenty thousand CONVENTIONEERS are roasting in the hall. It
is Houston in the summer and it's broiling hot. A sea of hand-
held red, white and blue fans are being waved all at once --
most bearing the words "SMITH FOR PRESIDENT."
Near the stage is a long table where the new breed of RADIO
REPORTERS are seated, each in front of a primitive looking
Hovering in a group off to the side are Dan Reed and the
REPORTERS from the previous night.
INT. BACKSTAGE - CONTINUING
Franklin is standing ramrod straight holding onto Elliot's
arm. He looks handsome in a navy pin-striped suit. As
everyone else is sweating no one notices that Franklin is
perspiring more than F
Where is she seated?
Louis, a human train wreck himself, reaches over to mop
Franklin's brow with a handkerchief.
In a box stage left. Give me your
Franklin takes his hand off his cane. It's soaking wet. Louis
wipes it, gently.
Louis, what the hell am I doing?
Putting your big toe in the water.
Just then, a VOICE booms out from the loudspeakers:
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like
to introduce to you a man who as
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
served our country with distinction.
member of an illustrious family
of long-standing political
commitment to our great nation...
Ladies and gentlemen: Franklin
Franklin turns to Elliot and they both take deep breaths.
The curtains part and they begin moving forward.
INT. THE STAGE OF THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION - CONTINUING 137
A BLINDING SPOTLIGHT picks up Franklin and Elliot. The
SPOTLIGHT follows them as they make their way to the podium.
Franklin is hitching each leg forward, slowly. The tip of his
cane hits the floor with pinpoint accuracy for balance and
He leans heavily on Elliot's arm. The walk appears effortless.
He chats with Elliot the whole way, still managing to flash
the CONVENTIONEERS his million dollar smile. But the walk is
slow and the ovation is beginning to fade.
138 L 138
INT. BACKSTAGE - CONTINUING
ouis stands in the wings clutching the curtain with one hand
and covering his eyes with the other.
INT. DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION BOX - CONTINUING
Eleanor sits looking down at her lap, afraid to even breathe.
INT. THE STAGE - CONTINUING
Franklin and Elliot are still ten steps away from the podium.
Sensing the crowd noise weakening, he whispers to Elliot.
Laugh as if I'm making a joke.
Elliot throws back his head and laughs. The crowd, wanting to
be in on it, rise as one in a sustained CHEER!
But a puddle of sweat caused by the dripping perspiration
from Franklin's hands is causing the tip of his cane to slip.
Elliot, ever aware, grips him tighter, averting disaster and
finally they reach the podium.
Franklin grabs one side of the podium while Elliot, with a
sleight of hand Houdini would admire, LOCKS his father's
braces, whisks the cane away, pulls his father's speech from
his breast pocket and lays it smoothly on the podium.
THE VIEW FROM BEHIND displays how Franklin's legs are spread
wide for stability as he clutches the podium. He holds on
tightly, as if the wood might snap from his grip.
FROM OUT FRONT the crowd sees only a powerful man standing
tall amidst the flashbulbs POPPING.
Franklin has made it. He is home.
INT. MERIWETHER INN - LOBBY - CONTINUOUS
All the denizens of Warm Springs are crowded around the radio.
RADIO ANNOUNCER (V.O.)
Here on the stage is Franklin
Roosevelt... a figure tall and
proud even in suffering; a face of
classic profile; a frame nervous
and yet self-controlled. A man
softened, cleansed and illumined
42 INT. WARWICK HOTEL, HOUSTON - SMITH'S SUITE - CONTINUOUS 142
GOVERNOR AL SMITH, 51, is seated by a radio, surrounded by
CRONIES. An overblown Irishman with gold capped teeth and
heavy New York accent. He chomps on a lit cigar that never
leaves the side of his mouth.
Hell of an ovation, Al. Couldn't
have asked for anything more.
Smith sits silently puffing on his cigar.
You may have to be careful though.
Looks like you're raising up a rival.
(after a beat)
Mark my words. He'll be dead in a year.
INT. DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION BOX - CONTINUING
Eleanor applauds Franklin as a REPORTER leans in.
Mrs. Roosevelt, one last question.
Do you think polio has affected
your husband's mind?
Yes, I do. I certainly do.
INT. CONVENTION STAGE - CONTINUOUS
Franklin stands before the crowd. His magnetism is
incontestable. He radiates infinite possibility.
He looks up to Eleanor's box and they smile at one another as
the crowd continues to applaud.
EXT. WARM SPRINGS - DAY
The mineral springs gently ripple as Franklin appears in the
water. As the following words appear on the screen, Franklin
slowly and confidently swims out of frame.
Four years later, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected
President of the United States. He was elected three more
times -- unprecedented in U.S. History.
During his years as President, he saw the country through the
Great Depression and a world war waged on six continents.
On April 12, 1945, in the thirteenth year of his presidency,
at the age of sixty-three, Franklin Roosevelt died in his
cottage at Warm Springs.
The beneficiary of his $562,000 life insurance policy was
Warm Springs... which continues to flourish as a
rehabilitation center to this day.