THE SCREEN IS
We hear a young man's voice in
casual conversation with friends.
"No, this guy told me you can go down across the border
and buy a girl and bring her back
and that's what I'm goin' to do,
I'm gonna go down there and buy one of them
and bring her back and marry her. I am."
An older woman's voice
"Billy, are you completely crazy?"
We hear the good-natured laughter of the woman, a man and another friend
as Billy's insistent voice rises through saying:
"No, it's true. Really.
This guy told me. It's true.
I'm really gonna do it."
The film changes to COLOR.
A couple sit at a small table in a simulated border town nightclub.
It is a CLOSE shot, reminding us possibly of Picasso's "Absinthe
The atmosphere is suggested by peripheral sounds such as boisterous
curses in a foreign language, the tinkling of glasses and music from
a small rock band.
Perhaps a dancer is visible in the background.
An anonymous waitress could enter the frame and leave,
The HERO is drunk and he's
trying to persuade an attractive
Mexican girl, a waitress in the bar, a whore, to cross the
border and marry him. The girl tolerates him.
She is working, hustling drinks,
and has to listen but also she likes him.
In some way, he interests her.
"I bet only reason you won't come with me
is because I ain't got any money.
Well, listen. I'm tellin' you.
I'm gonna go back up there and get me some money,
lots of it, maybe even ten thousand.
And then I'm comin' back for you.
I'm comin' back."
He weaves offscreen, determined, drunk, camera hold on girl,
smiling wistfully and ironically after him.
Then she grabs another young American and pulls him down beside her.
"Hey, man, you want to buy me a drink?"
(An American Pastoral)
Film changes to BLACK and WHITE.
It is dawn on the American desert;
it's cold, and he stands hunched in his jacket, by the side of the highway.
The sun is rising.
We hold on him as a few cars go by at long intervals.
We hear the car coming,
watch his eyes watching, he sticks his thumb out.
CUT TO profile shot, as a car swishes by.
The third car stops and he runs,
not too energetically and get inside.
Middle-aged man in a business suit.
He asks the hitchhiker where he is going.
He is obviously reluctant to do any talking.
"I can take you as far as Amarillo
and then you'll have to go on from there."
(No reply. No recognition.)
"What are you going to do when you get to L.A.?
Have you got a job lined up?"
(No answer. He is beginning to nod.)
The man drives on.
We see glimpses of the American land scape out the window of the car.
The man glances sideways occasionally at Billy who is sleeping.
CLOSE UP of the man's right
hand moving snakelike to wards the hiker's left leg.
He hesitates and then touches it above the knee.
Immediately, a .38 revolver appears from Billy jacket and points at
Profile of car,
extremely long shot.
We hear a shot.
The hitchhiker comes around the rear of the car,
opens the door,
and pulls the driver toward camera,
his corpse that is,
to the gully, and, after stripping his wallet of all the cash,
gets into the car and drives away.
The kid is standing beside
the car with his thumb out.
The hood is raised.
The engine has failed.
A State Patrolman (we learn this from his uniform, western hat, and
badge) stops in his own unmarked car.
Billy gets in the car.
The sheriff is friendly. He talks a lot.
He tells Billy that he's just getting back home after delivering two
lunatics from his local jail to the state asylum.
"I had to put them both in straight jackets
and throw them in the back of the wagon.
I had to. They were totally uninhibited.
I mean, if I let 'em loose,
they just start jerking off and playing with each other,
so I had to keep them tied up."
The killer is trying to stay awake.
He's strung out on ben nies,
and also just plain exhausted, and he's fighting to fol low the man's
The sheriff rambles on.
Billy is in that weird state between what's being said in reality and
what he hears in his dream.
The sheriff asks a question.
He an swers and then jerks up suddenly to realize that he's been inventing
his own dialogue inside his head.
Finally, he can take it no longer.
He pulls the gun out and orders the sheriff to pull over to the side
of the road.
Then he forces him to unlock the trunk,
orders him inside and slams the lid.
INTERIOR of car.
The hitchhiker is driving on.
As the car slows down for
the trunk flies open and the sheriff tumbles out into the dust.
Billy sees it in the rearview mirror.
He slams on the brakes,
jumps out of the car and runs back to the spot.
From off in the desert, we see the sheriff racing insanely toward the
He suddenly leaps and throws himself flat on the ground behind a sand
dune, next to the camera.
From this point of view, the sheriff crouched and breathing in heavy
we watch the kid stand on the side of the road,
stare out into the desert and finally get back into the car and drive
Billy is hitchhiking again.
Obviously, he has ditched the sheriff's car somewhere along the way.
A car pulls over.
There is a young man driving and in the back seat are his wife and two
a boy and a girl.
The driver is friendly,
tells him he used to hitchhike a lot himself and volunteers the information
that he has just returned home from two years in Viet Nam, where he
was a pilot.
Billy pulls out the gun and lets them know immediately that he wants
them to take him anywhere he wants to go.
Other wise, he'll kill them.
It is NIGHT.
They pull into a gas station.
Billy is hungry, so are the kids.
So he goes with the exaviator into a small country store that's
part of the station.
He warns the family to keep quiet or he'll kill everyone.
INSIDE the country store.
A seedy old man behind the counter.
They ask him for a bunch of ham sandwiches.
In closeup, we watch him slice the meat,
the knife hesitating minutely, deciding on the thickness of each slice.
The two men stand there watching him.
Suddenly, the husband wheels around and gets a grip on the hitchhiker
They whirl madly around the store, the father screaming for the proprietor
to call the police.
"Stop him! He's got a gun!!
He's gonna kill us!!!
Billy somehow manages to get his gun out and forces the man to the car.
The store owner stares after him, mouth agape,
then picks up the receiver to call the police.
A young boy finds the car,
pulled off on a side road, splattered with blood.
He opens the door and sees the little girl's baby doll,
the naked, fleshcolored rubber kind, and in closeup, we see
blood on it.
The EXTERIOR of a run-down
shack in the country.
We hear the sounds from inside.
INTERIOR of shack.
Televi sion and radio and newspaper reporters,
including an attrac tive woman with a notebook,
are interviewing the killer's father.
He's a very old man, an alcoholic,
who is slightly pleased to be thrust suddenly into the spotlight,
but who treats the situation with a grave sense of public image and
"He was always a pretty strange boy,
specially after his mother passed away.
Then he got real quiet.
He didn't have many friends.
Just his brothers and sisters."
"Mr. Cooke, is there anything you'd like to tell your son?"
"Yes, there is.
Billy, if you can hear me, son, please turn yourself in.
Cause what you're doin',
it just ain't right.
You're not doin' right, son.
And you know it."
During this appeal, the camera has moved slowly into a CLOSEUP
of the old man's face.
Car. Night. Rain. A car radio.
The light glows yellow in the dark car.
The radio is playing a country gospel hour.
A revival meeting.
The preacher and his flock.
As Billy listens, we flash back into his past,
over the rain and wind shield wipers.
We see an old man and a young boy in the woods.
The man is Billy's father and the boy is Billy himself at about age
seven or eight.
The father teaches his son how to shoot a gun.
He tell him to aim at a rabbit.
"Don't be afraid, son.
Don't be afraid.
Just squeeze one off."
We see a rabbit pinioned in a rifle's telescopic sight.
A small town high school,
3:30, bell rings, school is out.
The kids gush from the building and flow like a human stream to the
favorite drive-in restaurant.
INTERIOR of car.
Billy is eating a cheeseburger and Coke.
Through his windows he watches the movements of one of the carhops.
She is wearing slacks and with him we watch her ass and thighs.
When she comes to collect, he asks her to come for a ride with him.
We hear him say this but the ensuing dialogue is shown in pantomime.
The actual voices are drowned out by the sounds of radios,
They are driving up a mountain
The Rolling Stones' "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" comes on
Billy sings along with the record with wild abandon and squirms in his
seat like a toad.
The car is parked on a rocky
view overlooking the ocean.
He gets out of the car and dances around it,
acting crazy, and howling like an Indian.
He ducks up and down, appearing and reappearing in different windows.
She laughs at his clowning.
The couple are in the back
seat, vaguely we see their move ments,
hear them whispering, laughing, talking.
CUT TO outside of car.
They get out of the back of the car,
hair and clothes disarranged and move side by side into a rough ter
rain behind some rocks.
Camera holds on the rocks.
A pri meval rock formation.
At a rhythm that is peculiarly excruciating,
we hear three gunshots.
A rest room in an LA service
Billy enters rest room.
INTERIOR rest room.
Billy shaves with soap in rest room mirror,
runs his wet hands through his hair.
EXTERIOR, downtown LA.
Camera follows him from a car,
as he wanders through the downtown crowds of Broad way and Main Street.
Many times he is lost to our view.
We see him in an arcade,
where he plays a pinball machine.
CLOSE-UP of pinball game
Billy in photo booth.
Flash of the lights.
CLOSE-UP of four automatic
flash flash flash flash.
Four faces of Billy.
Billy in downtown hamburger
He is eating, seen from behind,
Gun enters frame left.
He turns and sees it, stares back blankly.
CUT TO EXTERIOR, street.
In handheld confused close up sequence,
we see him dragged and shoved into the back seat of a car (police car).
He is kicked and beaten.
During the struggle, we hear many men's voices,
gloating righteous ex clamations.
"So you're the little bastard that killed all those people!
(Kick) You had a good time, didn't you?
(Kick) You really killed 'em, didn't you?"
Hands cuffed behind his back, he looks up with a confused expression
"But I'm a good boy."
The men laugh.
Film switches to COLOR.
A montage of extant photo graphs representing death.
The body of Che Guevara,
a northern Renaissance Dutch crucifixion,
bullfight, slaugh terhouse,
mandalas and into abstraction.
A nature film of a mongoose killing a cobra,
a black dog runs free on the beach.
FADE INTO BLACKNESS.
On the steps of City Hall of Justice we see the hitchhiker descend dreamlike
in slow motion,
move languorously across a deserted city square toward the camera until
he covers the lens and seems to pass through it.
Seen now from behind, as
he moves away from lens,
he enters a desert outskirt region where he finds an automobile graveyard.
He is wandering in Eternity.
In the junkyard, three people squat around a small fire.
They're cooking po tatoes in the coals,
an older man named DOC pokes the fire with a stick.
There is an older woman, funky, glamorous, and the third person is a
young boy, a mute, of indeterminate age.
He is slightly made up with white makeup.
They are hoboes in Eternity and are not surprised to see him.
He nears the fire.
"Well, how ya doin', kid?
I see you did it again. Ya hungry?
There's some food here if ya want it."
Billy doesn't speak.
He stares at the moon.
The woman has kept her head down, her hair covering her face.
Blue Lady, didja hear me?
I said Billy's back."
She looks up for the first time.
"Hello, Blue Lady."
He looks at the boy.
Hiya, Clown Boy.
CLOWN BOY claps his hands
his face contorted grotesquely in greeting.
They sit for a while like this, and stare at the fire.
They eat the potatoes.
Then Doc rises and says:
" The sun's gonna be up in a while.
I guess we'd better move on."
Slowly, one by one, the other two rise.
Doc puts out the fire with dirt and says:
"Ya comin' with us, Billy?"
"I don't know, Doc, I just don't know."
Well, we'll see ya later, kid.
The rest of the gang will be real glad to see ya.
They sure will.
Doc, Clown Boy and the Blue Lady start moving toward the rising sun
into the mountain desert.
Every now and then they turn and wave,
Clown Boy leaping up and down madly and waving goodbye.
As they slowly disappear,
camera changes focus to Billy, the hitchhiker, the kid, the killer,
hunkered over the dead smoldering fire.