By Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond
FADE IN: 1. CITY AT NIGHT.
1. A hearse of Late Twenties vintage is proceeding at a dignified pace
along a half-deserted wintry street. Inside the hearse, there are four
somber men in black - and a coffin, of course, with a wreath of chrysanthemums
One of the men is driving, another is in the seat beside him. The other
two are sitting in the rear of the hearse, flanking the coffin. All
four seem fully aware of the solemnity of the occasion. Now they hear
a SIREN, faint at first, but rapidly growing louder.
The driver and the man next to him exchange a nervous glance. The other
two men move tensely toward the rear door of the hearse, raise the black
curtain over the glass panel, and peek out cautiously.
Through the glass panel, they see a police car bearing down on them,
the red light blinking, the SIREN screaming. The two men at the rear
window gesture to the driver to step on it. He does. The hearse, obviously
a souped-up job, instantly picks up speed, weaves crazily through traffic,
the police car in hot pursuit.
The hearse careens around a corner at eighty miles an hour, the police
car right on its tail. By this time the policemen are leaning out of
their car with drawn guns, firing at the hearse. The two men in the
rear of the hearse, flattened against the sides, pull a couple of sawed-off
shotguns out of a hidden overhead rack.
Police bullets smash the glass panel and whistle through the hearse.
The driver and the man next to him duck, but the hearse continues at
the same breakneck speed. The two men in back shove their guns through
the shattered glass, fire at the police car. Despite the hail of lead,
the police car - its windshield cobwebbed with bullet holes - gains
on the hearse.
Suddenly the car skids out of control, jumps the curb, comes to a screeching
stop. Policemen leap out, fire after the hearse. In the speeding hearse,
the last of the police bullets thud into the coffin. Instantly three
geysers of liquid spurt through the bullet holes.
As the firing recedes, the two men in the back put away their guns,
remove the wreath from the coffin, take the lid off. The inside is jam-packed
with bottles of booze, some of them shattered by the bullets. As the
men start to lift out the broken bottles -
SUPERIMPOSE: CHICAGO, 1929 DISSOLVE TO: 2. EXT. INTERSECTION OF STREETS
2. Traffic is light. All the shops are dark except one - a dimly lit
establishment, from which drift the mournful strains of an organ. A
circumspect sign reads: MOZARELLA'S FUNERAL PARLOR 24 Hour Service.
In the window, a sample coffin is on display. There seem to be some
rites going on inside, because a number of mourners, singly and in couples,
are hurrying from the cold, windy street into Mozarella's parlor. Meanwhile,
the hearse with the damp coffin draws up to the delivery entrance at
the side of the building.
The driver honks the horn - one long and two short - as the other men
step down and start to slide the coffin out. The side door opens, and
a dapper gent emerges. He wears a tight-fitting black suit, a black
fedora, and gray spats. The spats are very important. He always wears
spats. His name is SPATS COLOMBO.
He cases the street, motions the men inside. As they carry the coffin
past him, he removes his fedora, holds it reverently over his heart.
Then he follows the men in, his head bowed. Across the street and around
the corner, three police cars draw up silently, and about fifteen uniformed
policemen and plain-clothes men spill out.
A Captain gives whispered orders, and the men scatter and discreetly
take up positions around the funeral parlor. Out of one of the cars
steps MULLIGAN, a tough Federal Agent - in plain clothes, of course.
With him is a little weasel of a man, shivering with cold and fear.
They call him TOOTHPICK CHARLIE for two reasons - because his name is
Charlie, and because he has never been seen without a toothpick in his
[indicating funeral parlor] All right, Charlie - this the joint?
And who runs it?
I already told you.
Refresh my memory.
[uneasily] Spats Colombo.
That's very refreshing. Now what's the password?
I come to Grandma's funeral. [he hands him a folded piece of black crepe]
Here's your admission card.
If you want a ringside table, tell 'em you're one of the pall bearers.
Okay, Charlie. The police captain joins Mulligan.
We're all set. When is the kickoff?
As Mulligan consults his watch, Charlie, the toothpick working nervously
in his mouth, tugs Mulligan's sleeve.
Look, Chief - I better blow now, because if Spats Colombo sees me, it's
Charlie scoots up the dark street, disappears.
[to the police captain] Give me five minutes - then hit 'em with everything
They synchronize their watches. Then Mulligan crosses to Mozarella's
parlor, unfolding the black crepe Charlie gave him. It is a mourning
band, and he slips it over the left sleeve of his overcoat.
3. INT. MOZARELLA'S FUNERAL PARLOR - NIGHT.
3. It looks legitimate enough - with potted palms, urns and funeral
statuary. A harmless gray-haired man is playing the organ with appropriate
feeling. Daintily arranging a funeral spray is the proprietor himself,
MR. MOZARELLA. His heavyweight build, bashed-in nose and cauliflower
ears don't quite jibe with his mourning coat, striped pants, ascot and
carnation. Dusting one of the marble angels is another funeral director,
in the same somber uniform.
[with grave sympathy] Good evening, sir.
I come to the old lady's funeral.
[looking him over]
I don't believe I've seen you at any of our services before.
That's because I've been on the wagon.
[looking around] Where are they holding the wake? I'm supposed to be
one of the pallbearers.
[to funeral director] Show the gentleman to the chapel - pew number
This way, sir.
He leads Mulligan past the organ toward the black-paneled wall, where
there is no evidence of a door. The organist, without missing a note
in his playing, reaches over to the end of the keyboard and pulls out
a stop. One of the panels slides open, and there is a blast of MUSIC
from the chapel. It's jazz - and it's SWEET GEORGIA BROWN. Mulligan
rears back momentarily, then follows the funeral director in. The organist
pushes the stop in again, and the panel slides shut.
4. INT. SPEAKEASY - NIGHT.
4. Grandma must have been quite a person, because she left a lot of
condoling friends behind, and they are holding a very lively wake. The
chapel is jumping. A small band is blaring out SWEET GEORGIA BROWN.
The musicians are not the slick, well-fed instrumentalists you would
find in Guy Lombardo's band - they have all been through the wringer,
and so have their threadbare tuxedos.
On the stamp-sized dance floor, six girls in abbreviated costumes are
doing a frenetic Charleston. Crowded around the small tables, mourners
in black arm-bands are drowning their sorrows in whatever they drink
out of their coffee cups.
[looking around] Well, if you gotta go, this is the way to do it.
The funeral director leads Mulligan to a table next to the bandstand.
As he moves off, a waiter comes up.
What'll it be, sir?
Sorry, sir, we only serve coffee.
Scotch coffee, Canadian coffee, sour-mash coffee ...
Make it Scotch. A demitasse. With a little soda on the side.
As the waiter starts away, Mulligan stops him.
Haven't you got another pew - not so close to the band? [points to a
better table] How about that one?
Sorry, sir. That's reserved for members of the immediate family.
He winks, goes off. Mulligan scans the room. From a side door comes
Spats Colombo, followed by the four hearsemen. They walk cockily toward
the table 'reserved for the immediate family.'
A DRUNK, standing with a cup of booze in his hand, is in their way.
Colombo pushes him aside, and the contents of the cup slop over. Colombo
freezes in his tracks, glances at his feet. The other four men have
also stopped, and stare in the same direction, horrified. Spats Colombo's
immaculate spats are no longer immaculate. There is a whiskey stain
on one of them. Colombo throws his henchmen a sharp look. They grab
the offending drunk, hustle him toward the exit.
[waving empty cup] Hey - I want another cup of coffee. I want another
cup of coffee.
Colombo proceeds toward the table, seats himself, crosses his legs,
takes a handkerchief out of his breast pocket, and meticulously mops
the moist spat. His four companions, their mission accomplished, join
him at the table. Mulligan, who has been studying Colombo, consults
his wrist-watch. The waiter comes up with his order - a demitasse half
full of Scotch, and a split of club soda.
Better bring the check now - in case the joint gets raided.
Who's going to raid a funeral?
Some people got no respect for the dead.
The waiter moves off. Mulligan sips from the cup, winces, takes a cigar
out of his pocket and starts to light it. His eyes wander to the chorus
girls. The girls have gone into a tap-dance. The captain of the chorus
looks toward the bandstand, grins and winks at - JOE, the saxophone
player. He winks back. JERRY, who is thumping the bass-fiddle behind
him, leans forward and taps Joe on the shoulder.
Say, Joe - tonight's the night, isn't it?
[eye on tap-dancer] I'll say.
I mean, we get paid tonight, don't we?
He takes the mouthpiece out of his saxophone, wets the reed.
Because I lost a filling in my back tooth. I gotta go to the dentist
Dentist? We been out of work for four months - and you want to blow
your first week's pay on your teeth?
It's just a little inlay - it doesn't even have to be gold ...
How can you be so selfish? We owe back rent - we're in four eighty-nine
bucks to Moe's Delicatessen - we're being sued by three Chinese lawyers
because our check bounced at the laundry - we've borrowed money from
every girl in the line -
You're right, Joe.
Of course I am.
First thing tomorrow we're going to pay everybody a little something
No we're not.
First thing tomorrow we're going out to the dog track and put the whole
bundle on Greased Lightning.
You're going to bet my money on a dog?
He's a shoo-in. I got the word from Max the waiter - his brother-in-law
is the electrician who wires the rabbit.
What are you giving me with the rabbit?
[pulling form sheet out of pocket] Look at those odds - ten to one.
If he wins, we can pay everybody.
But suppose he loses?
What are you worried about? This job is going to last a long time.
But suppose it doesn't?
Jerry-boy, why do you have to paint everything so black? Suppose you
get hit by a truck? Suppose the stock market crashes?
Jerry, slapping the bass, is no longer listening. His eyes have strayed
to - Mulligan, sitting at his table, puffing on the cigar. It isn't
drawing too well. Mulligan reaches under his coat, unpins his Department
of Justice badge from his vest. Using the pin of the shining badge,
he pokes a hole in the wet end of the cigar. Jerry has stopped playing,
and is watching Mulligan's operation with morbid fascination. Joe, completely
unaware, continues talking.
Suppose Mary Pickford divorces Douglas Fairbanks?
[nudging him] Hey, Joe!
[paying no attention] Suppose Lake Michigan overflows?
Don't look now - but the whole town is under water!
He nods toward Mulligan. Joe looks off. Then, without a word, they both
start packing their instruments. Mulligan pins the badge back on, checks
[to himself] ... four, three, two, one ...
He glances toward - the door from the funeral parlor. Right on the dot,
a pair of police axes smash through the door. Instant pandemonium breaks
loose in the speakeasy. MUSIC stops, women scream, customers, chorus
girls and waiter scramble toward the side doors. But they too are splintering
under the assault of the police axes. The crowd falls back, milling
around frantically. Mulligan stands up, cups his hands to his mouth,
and roars at the top of his voice.
All right, everybody - this is a raid. I'm a federal agent, and you're
all under arrest.
Policemen come streaming through the splintered doors. Carried in on
the tide is the Drunk who was just tossed out, reeling unsteadily, and
waving his empty coffee cup aloft.
I want another cup of coffee!
The policemen start rounding up the customers and employees, are herding
them toward the exits. On the bandstand, Joe and Jerry have packed their
instruments, and start to fight their way through the melee, toward
some stairs leading up. Mulligan, a couple of policemen in tow, comes
up to Spats and his henchmen, sitting calmly at their table, with five
glasses of white liquid in front of them.
Okay, Spats - the services are over. Let's go.
A little country club we run for retired bootleggers. I'm gonna put
your name up for membership.
I never join nothin'.
You'll like it there. I'll have the prison tailor fit you with a pair
of special spats - striped!
[to his companions, dead-pan] Big joke. [to Mulligan] Who's the rap
Embalming people with coffee - eighty-six proof.
Me? I'm just a customer here.
Come on, Spats - we know you own this joint. Mozarella is just fronting
Mozarella? Never heard of him.
We got different information.
From who? Toothpick Charlie, maybe?
Toothpick Charlie? Never heard of him.
He picks up Spats' glass, sniffs it suspiciously.
All right - on your feet.
[getting up slowly] You're wasting the taxpayers' money.
If you want to, you can call your lawyer.
[pointing to his four hoods] These are my lawyers - all Harvard men.
Mulligan and the two policemen lead Spats and his Harvard men out.
5. EXT. FUNERAL PARLOR - NIGHT.
5. Policemen, under the supervision of the captain, are herding customers
into a paddy-wagon. Fighting his way out of the wagon is our Drunk,
waving his coffee cup in the air.
I want another cup of coffee.
He staggers into the alley, toward the side entrance of the speakeasy,
CAMERA MOVING with him. Through the smashed-up side door, policemen
are ushering more customers, waiters, musicians and the dancing girls.
CAMERA MOVES UP TOWARD a fire escape on the second floor. Joe and Jerry,
carrying their instruments and overcoats, have just climbed through
a window onto the fire escape, and are inspecting the scene below. The
shot-up hearse is parked directly beneath them. stealthily they climb
down the ladder, drop to the roof of the hearse. Then they scramble
over the radiator, steal down the alley away from the street. They stop
in the shadows to put on their coats.
Well, that solves one problem. We don't have to worry about who to pay
Quiet - I'm thinking.
Of course, the landlady is going to lock us out - Moe said no more knackwurst
on credit - and we can't borrow any more from the girls, because they're
on their way to jail -
Shut up, will you? I wonder how much Sam the Bookie will give up for
Sam the Bookie? Nothing doing! You're not putting my overcoat on that
I told you - it's a sure thing.
But we'll freeze - it's below zero - we'll catch pneumonia.
Look, stupid, he's ten to one. Tomorrow, we'll have twenty overcoats!
DISSOLVE TO: 6. EXT. CHICAGO STREET - DAY.
6. The street is covered with snow. Joe and Jerry, without overcoats,
the collars of their tuxedos turned up against the bitter cold, come
down the steps of the elevated, carrying their instruments. The only
thing that keeps Jerry from freezing is that he is boiling over inside.
As they proceed along the sidewalk, Jerry finally can't hold it any
Greased Lightning! Why do I listen to you? I ought to have my head examined!
I thought you weren't talking to me.
Look at the bull fiddle - it's dressed warmer than I am.
They come up to a building in front of which are gathered several small
groups of shivering musicians, also equipped with instruments. Joe and
Jerry exchange frozen waves with their colleagues, start through the
DISSOLVE TO: 7. INT. CORRIDOR OF MUSIC BUILDING - DAY.
7. Joe moves down the corridor, Jerry tagging along grimly beside him.
Other job-seeking musicians mill around, and a melange of musical sounds
and singing voices issues from the various offices, studios and rehearsal
halls. Joe and Jerry come up to a door marked: KEYNOTE MUSICAL AGENCY
- BANDS, SOLOISTS, SINGERS. Joe opens the door, revealing a crummy office,
with a secretary behind a desk.
Joe shuts the door, and they shuffle along to the next agency, which
is marked: JULES STEIN - MUSIC CORPORATION OF AMERICA. Joe opens the
door. This is like the other office - except a little crummier. There
is a secretary behind the desk.
He opens the door to the next agency. On the door it says: SIG POLIAKOFF
- BANDS FOR ALL OCCASIONS. There is the usual secretary behind the usual
desk, and her name is NELLIE. She is a brunette, somewhat past her prime,
but still attractive.
[looking up] Oh, it's you! You got a lot of nerve -
He shuts the door quickly, starts to move on.
[from inside] Joe - come back here!
Joe stops in his tracks. With a resigned shrug to Jerry, he opens the
door again, and the two of them start in.
8. INT. POLIAKOFF'S OUTER OFFICE - DAY.
8. Beside Nellie, there is another secretary pecking away at a typewriter.
Nellie's face is grim as Joe and Jerry come up.
Now look, Nellie - if it's about last Saturday night - I can explain
[to Jerry; pointing at Joe] What a heel! I spend four dollars to get
my hair marcelled, I buy me a new negligee, I bake him a great big pizza
pie ... [to Joe] - and where were you?
Yeah - where were you?
Don't you remember? [to Nellie] He has this bad tooth - it got impacted
- the whole jaw swole up ...
It did? [Joe throws him a look] Boy, did it ever!
So I had to rush him to the hospital and give him a transfusion ...
[to Jerry] Right?
Right. We have the same blood type ...
- Type O.
Nellie baby, I'll make it up to you.
You're making it up pretty good so far.
The minute we get a job, I'm going to take you out to the swellest restaurant
How about it, Nellie? Has Poliakoff got anything for us? We're desperate.
[slyly] Well, it just so happens he is looking for a bass and a sax
- [to the other secretary] Right? [she winks at her]
[going along] Right.
[all excited] Did you hear that, Joe?
What's the job?
It's three weeks in Florida -
The Seminole-Ritz, in Miami. Transportation and all expenses paid ...
Isn't she a bit of terrific? [busses Nellie on the cheek; to Jerry]
Come on - let's talk to Poliakoff.
They start toward the door of the inner office.
You better wait a minute, boys - he's got some people in there with
That stops them. 9. INT. POLIAKOFF'S INNER OFFICE - DAY. 9. The room
is small and cluttered, and the walls are covered with photographs of
Poliakoff's clients - bands, vocalists, trios, radio personalities.
Sitting behind the desk, speaking urgently into the phone, is SIG POLIAKOFF,
a gruff, likable man in his fifties.
Pacing up and down on the other side of the desk is SWEET SUE, flashily-dressed
broad, who has seen thirty summers and a few hard winters. As she paces,
she nervously flips a large white pill from one hand to the other. Slouched
in a chair is BIENSTOCK, a somewhat prissy man of forty wearing thick
glasses. He has a card file on his lap, is thumbing through it.
[into phone] Look, Gladys, it's three weeks in Florida - Sweet Sue and
Her Society Syncopators - they need a couple of girls on sax and bass
- what do you mean, who is this? Sig Poliakoff. I got a job for you
- Gladys, are you there? [hangs up] Meshugeh! Played for a hundred and
twelve hours at a marathon dance, and now she's in bed with a nervous
Tell her to move over.
She has poured herself a glass of water from a pitcher on the desk,
and now she plops the pill into her mouth, washes it down.
[looking up from file] What about Cora Jackson?
The last I heard, she was playing with the Salvation Army, yet. [consulting
list on desk; into phone] Drexel 9044.
Sue has wandered over to one of the framed photos on the wall. It shows
Sue posed in front of her band - sixteen girls, all blonde, all in identical
gowns. On the drum it says SWEET SUE AND HER SOCIETY SYNCOPATORS.
Those idiot broads! Here we are all packed to go to Miami, and what
happens? The saxophone runs off with a Bible salesman, and the bass
fiddle gets herself pregnant. [turning to Bienstock] I ought to fire
Me? I'm the manager of the band - not the night watchman.
[into phone] Hello? Let me talk to Bessie Malone - what's she doing
in Philadelphia? -- on the level? [hangs up] Bessie let her hair grow
and is playing with Stokowski.
Black Bottom Bessie?
Schpielt zich mit der Philharmonic.
How about Rosemary Schultz?
Did you hear? She slashed her wrists when Valentino died!
We might as well all slash our wrists if we don't round up two dames
by this evening.
She picks up her handbag. Bienstock rises, takes his glasses off, puts
them in his pocket.
Look, Sig, you know the kind of girls we need. We don't care where you
find them - just get them on that train by eight o'clock.
Be nonchalant. Trust Poliakoff. The moment anything turns up, I'll give
you a little tingle.
Bye, Sig. [feels her tummy] I wonder if I have room for another ulcer?
Bienstock opens the door, and follows Sue into the outer office. Joe
and Jerry, who have been biding their time outside, slip in and shut
the door after them.
Hey, Sig - can we talk to you?
[into phone] Nellie, get me long distance. [to the boys] What is it?
It's about the Florida job.
The Florida job?
Nellie told us about it.
We're not too late, are we?
What are you - a couple of comedians? Get out of here! [into phone]
Long distance? Get me the William Morris Agency in New York.
You need a bass and a sax, don't you?
The instruments are right, but you are not. [into phone] I want to speak
to Mr. Morris.
What's wrong with us?
You're the wrong shape. Goodbye.
The wrong shape? You looking for hunchbacks or something?
It's not the backs that worry me.
What kind of band is this, anyway?
You got to be under twenty-five -
We could pass for that.
- you got to be blonde -
We could dye our hair.
- and you got to be girls.
We could -
No, we couldn't!
[into phone] William Morris!
You mean it's a girls' band?
Yeah, that's what he means. Good old Nellie! [starting toward door]
I ought to wring her neck!
[into phone] Yes, I'm holding on.
Wait a minute, Joe. Lets talk this over. [to Poliakoff] Why couldn't
we do it? Last year, when we played in that gypsy tearoom, we wore gold
earrings. And you remember when you booked us with that Hawaiian band?
[pantomiming] Grass skirts!
[to Joe] What's with him - he drinks?
No. And he ain't been eating so good, either. He's got an empty stomach
and it's gone to his head.
But, Joe - three weeks in Florida! We could borrow some clothes from
the girls in the chorus -
You've flipped your wig!
Now you're talking! We pick up a couple of second-hand wigs - a little
padding here and there - call ourselves Josephine and Geraldine -
Josephine and Geraldine! [disgustedly] Come on!
He drags Jerry toward the door.
Look, if you boys want to pick up a little money tonight - [they stop
and turn] At the University of Illinois they are having - you should
excuse the expression - a St. Valentine's dance.
We'll take it!
You got it. It's six dollars a man. Be on the campus in Urbana at eight
[protesting] All the way to Urbana - for a one night stand?
It's twelve bucks. We can get one of the overcoats out of hock.
[into phone] Hello, Mr. Morris? This is Poliakoff, in Chicago. Say,
you wouldn't have a couple of girl musicians available? A sax player
and a base?
[at the door] Look, if William Morris doesn't come through -
Come on, Geraldine!
He pulls him into the outer office.
10. INT. POLIAKOFF'S OUTER OFFICE - DAY.
10. Joe leads Jerry out.
It's a hundred miles, Joe - it's snowing - how are we going to get there?
I'll think of something. Don't crowd me.
[brightly] How did it go, girls?
We ought to wring your neck.
Please, Jerry - that's no way to talk. [turning on the charm] Nellie
baby - what are you doing tonight?
Because I got some plans -
I'm not doing anything. I just thought I'd go home and have some cold
And you'll be in all evening?
[melted by now] Yes, Joe.
[brightly] Good! Then you won't be needing your car.
My car? Why, you -
Joe silences her protest with a kiss. Jerry shakes his head with mock
Isn't he a bit of terrific?
DISSOLVE TO: 11. EXT. CLARK STREET - DAY.
11. Joe and Jerry, carrying their instruments, are coming along the
snow-covered sildewalk toward a garage entrance, above which is a sign
reading: CHARLIE'S GARAGE. Their shoulders are hunched up against the
We could've had three weeks in Florida - all expenses paid. Lying around
in the sun - palm trees - frying fish ...
Knock it off, will you?
They step over the chain blocking the entrance, start into the garage.
12. INT. CHARLIE'S GARAGE - DAY.
12. There are rows of parked cars, a lube rack and a gas pump. Against
the wall under a naked electric light bulb hanging from a cord, five
men are playing stud poker. A couple of mechanics, in grease-stained
coveralls, are watching the game. The dealer is Toothpick Charlie, the
inevitable toothpick in his mouth.
[dealing] King high-pair of bullets-possible straight - possible nothing
- pair of eights -
Joe and Jerry come in from the street. One of the mechanics notices
them, nudges Toothpick Charlie. Charlie looks up, and seeing the instrument
cases, leaps to his feet, drawing a gun from his shoulder holster. The
other four players also jump up, and pulling their guns, level them
at Joe and Jerry.
All right, you two - drop 'em.
[stops; puzzled] Drop what?
We came to pick up a car.
He nods to one of the mechanics, who steps up to Joe and Jerry, starts
to open the instrument cases.
Nellie Weinmeyer's car.
[as the bass and sax are revealed] Musicians.
He mops his brow with the back of his sleeve, and putting his gun back
in the holster, picks up the deck of cards again.
Let's go. Pair of aces bets.
The other players resume their seats. Joe and Jerry follow the mechanic
toward the parked cars.
It's a '25 Hupmobile coupe. Green.
The mechanic leads them up to the car, which is parked near the gas
Need some gas?
Yeah. [takes some coins out of pocket] Like about forty cents' worth.
The mechanic unscrews the cap of the gas tank, inserts the rubber hose
from the pump.
Put it on Miss Weinmeyer's bill?
Why not? [signals Jerry to put coins away] And while you're at it -
fill 'er up.
From the street outside comes the loud squeal of tires. Jerry glances
off casually toward the entrance. A black Dusenberg bursts the chain
hanging across the street entrance, skids into the garage, takes to
a screeching stop some ten feet from the card players.
Toothpick Charlie and his cronies leap up and reach for their guns.
Too late. Four men have scrambled out of the car, two armed with submachine
guns, the other two with sawed-off shotguns. We recognize them as Spats
All right, everybody hands up and face the wall.
The frightened poker players start to obey. Jerry is watching the scene,
open-mouthed. Joe grabs his shoulder, pulls him down behind the Hupmobile.
The Second Henchman notices the mechanic standing petrified beside the
[waving machine gun] Hey - join us!
[continues] Okay, boss.
A pair of men's feet step down from the limousine. They are encased
in immaculate spats. Jerry, crouching behind the Hupmobile with Joe,
grabs his arm.
[whispering] It's Spats Colombo -
Joe clamps his hand over Jerry's mouth. Spats Colombo joins his armed
henchmen, who are covering the seven men facing the wall with their
[very blase] Hello, Charlie. Long time no see.
[glancing over his shoulder nervously] What is it, Spats? What do you
Just dropped in to pay my respects.
You don't owe me no nothing.
Oh, I wouldn't say that. You were nice enough to recommend my mortuary
to some of your friends ...
He has strolled over to the table, and picking up the deck of cards,
starts to deal out another round to the abandoned poker hands.
[sweating] I don't know what you're talking about.
So now I got all those coffins on my hands - and I hate to see them
go to waste.
Honest, Spats - I had nothing to do with it!
Spats deals Toothpick Charlie's fifth card, then turns up the hole card.
Too bad, Charlie. You would have had three eights. [flips cards away]
[knowing what's coming] No, Spats - no, no, no - [a scream] NO!
Spats nods, and the two machine-gunners raise their weapons, start to
fire methodically at their off-scene victims. Behind the Hupmobile,
Jerry screws his eyes shut painfully as the steady chatter of bullets
I think I'm going to be sick.
The machine guns stop firing. There is a moment's silence. Suddenly,
the bas tank of the Hupmobile overflows, and the rubber hose from the
pump whips out, gushing gasoline over the floor. Spats and his henchmen,
hearing the SOUND, whirl around and catch sight of Joe and Jerry squatting
behind the car.
All right - come on out of there.
Joe and Jerry emerge quakingly from behind the Hupmobile. They try to
raise their hands, but find this rather difficult to manage while holding
on to their instruments. Jerry darts a horrified glance toward the foot
of the wall.
[quickly] We didn't see anything - [to Jerry] - did we?
[to Spats] No - nothing. Besides, it's none of our business if you guys
want to knock each other off -
Joe nudges him violently with his elbow, and he breaks off.
[studying them] Don't I know you two from somewhere?
We're just a couple of musicians - we come to pick up a car - Nellie
Weinmeyer's car - there's a dance tonight - [starting to edge away]
Come on, Jerry.
Wait a minute. Where do you think you're going?
To Urbana. It's a hundred miles.
You ain't going nowhere.
[quavering] We're not?
The only way you'll get to Urbana is feet first.
During this, one of the bodies huddled grotesquely against the foot
of the wall begins to stir. It is Toothpick Charlie. He is covered with
blood, but there is still a spark of life in him, and his toothpick
is still clutched between his teeth. Painfully, he starts to worm his
way across the floor toward a phone on a wooden shelf. Spats and his
gang, facing Joe and Jerry, are not aware of Charlie's activity.
I don't like no witnesses.
We won't breathe a word.
You won't breathe nothing, not even air.
He motions lazily to the Second Henchman. The henchman slowly levels
his machine gun at Joe and Jerry, who stand frozen. At that very moment,
Toothpick Charlie reaches up for the phone. But he is too weak to hold
on, and the receiver drops from his limp hand, and clatters to the asphalt
Instantly, Spats and his henchman wheel around. Spats grabs the machine
gun from the Second Henchman, and perforates what is left of Charlie
with a hail of lead. Toothpick Charlie crumbles in a heap. He is quite
dead. Spats' bespatted foot comes into SHOT, disdainfully kicks the
toothpick out of Charlie's mouth.
Joe and Jerry have taken advantage of this momentary diversion. Like
scalded jackasses, they are sprinting toward the entrance, hanging on
to their instruments. Spats and his boys pivot, see the two running.
They let go with a salvo of shots, just as Joe and Jerry scoot through
the garage door and disappear down the street. A couple of henchmen
start after them. There is the SOUND of an approaching police SIREN.
Come on - let's blow. We'll take care of those guys later.
They all pile into the black Dussenberg. The driver shifts into reverse
and the car shoots backwards out of the garage.
13. EXT. ALLEY - DAY.
13. Joe and Jerry come skidding around the corner from Clark Street,
race down the snow-covered alley. In b.g. there is the SOUND of squealing
tires and police sirens.
[as they run] I think they got me.
They got the bull-fiddle.
[feeling himself all over] You don't see any blood?
Not yet. But if those guys catch us, there'll be blood all over. Type
They start running even faster.
Where are we running, Joe?
As far away as possible.
That's not far enough. You don't know those guys! But they know us.
Every hood in Chicago will be looking for us -
They reach the end of the alley. A couple of motorcycle policemen, their
sirens wailing, flash by in the direction of the garage. The word must
have spread, because pedestrians are also running in the same direction.
Joe stops, looks around quickly, and seeing a cigar store on the corner
drags Jerry inside.
14. INT. CIGAR STORE - DAY.
14. Joe hurries to a wall telephone near the entrance. Jerry follows
Got a nickel?
He sets the saxophone case down, and taking a coin from Jerry, inserts
it in the slot.
You going to call the police?
The police? We'd never live to testify. Not against Spats Colombo. [into
phone] Wabash 1098.
We got to get out of town. Maybe we ought to grow beards.
We are going out of town. But we're going to shave.
Shave? At a time like this? Those guys got machine guns - they're going
to blast our heads off - and you want to shave?
Shave our legs, stupid.
Stupid is right. Jerry still doesn't get it.
[into phone; his voice a tremulous soprano] Hello? Mr. Poliakoff? I
understand you're looking for a couple of girl musicians.
Now Jerry gets it. DISSOLVE TO: 15. EXT. CHICAGO RAILROAD PLATFORM -
NIGHT. 15. Two pairs of high-heeled shoes, unusually large in size,
are hurrying along the platform. CAMERA FOLLOWS them and PANS UP gradually,
revealing rather hefty legs in rolled stockings, short dresses, coats
with cheap fur pieces, and rakish cloche hats. One of the pair carries
a saxophone case, the other a bull-fiddle case, and each has a Gladstone
bag. A train, with steam up, is loading for departure. Redcaps, passengers,
Florida Limited leaving on Track Seven for Washington, Charleston, Savannah,
Jacksonville and Miami. All aboard. All aboard.
Our two passenger accelerate their pace. But evidently they are not
too adept at navigating in high heels. Suddenly the one with the bull-fiddle
twists her ankle - or we should say his ankle - because it's Jerry.
He stops and faces his girlfriend - Joe.
[rubbing his ankle] How can they walk on these things? How do they keep
Must be the way their weight is distributed. Come on.
As they proceed along the platform, a gust of wind sends their skirts
billowing. Jerry stops again and pulls his skirt down.
And it's so drafty. They must be catching colds all the time.
[urging him on] Quit stalling. We'll miss the train.
I feel so naked. Like everybody's looking at me.
With those legs? Are you crazy?
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