Stefano Boscutti

Author, Screenwriter, Creative Consultant

 

Stefano Boscutti - Boscutti's ORson Welles - Screenplay

 

“Boscutti’s Orson Welles” (Screenplay)

Can you ever truly know another person?

Wunderkind director, producer, actor, writer, narrator and magician Orson Welles turned his life into a masterpiece. From his bold adventures on the stage as a young man to one daring film after another.

“Boscutti’s Orson Welles” takes the central theme and structure of Welles’ cinematic masterwork “Citizen Kane” to parallel the true story of his life. From all the heady triumphs to every spectacular failure.

A sensational biography told in a series of overlapping flashbacks that intimately reveal Welles’ prolific life and loves. Maddening, thrilling, dazzling and ultimately moving.

Step behind the camera and into the life of a true American original.

‘I wanted to look beyond the Welles mythology of the bombastic egoist who squandered his ethereal talents, the misunderstood genius. I wanted to delve deeper into what drives a man to take on the world and become an artist. Into how art becomes life.’ Stefano Boscutti

★★★★

‘Incomparable take on Orson Welles’ mercurial life.’ Owen Gilmann

‘Brilliant scene-stealing biography expressed in a daring, stylized screenplay.’ Anne Pereira

‘As unique and engaging as the great man himself. Exhilarating.’ Ray Jeakins

“Boscutti’s Orson Welles” is based on a true life story. Features improved screenplay format to make it easier and more enjoyable for you to read.

Rated PG / ISBN 9780987446503 / 26,000 words / 104 minutes of luminous reading pleasure

Prefer to read free online? Scroll on to read the complete screenplay.

 


‘Human madness is oftentimes a cunning and most feline thing. When you think it fled, it may have but become transfigured into some still subtler form.’ Herman Melville

 

STEFANO BOSCUTTI

BOSCUTTI’S ORSON WELLES

 

 

Author Edition
Copyright 2013 Stefano Boscutti
All Rights Reserved ISBN 9780987446503

Discover new stories, screenplays, novels and more by Stefano Boscutti at boscutti.com

 

 

EXT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - DAWN

Fade in from black to rusted sign on spiked steel fence that declares PROTECTED BY GUARDIAN SECURITY SYSTEMS.

Sounds of rising traffic from Hollywood Boulevard slip past.

The black steel gate across the driveway is open. Snake past it and through tangled vines to reveal a large two story house silhouetted in the faint dawn light. The path to the front door is worn. The garden is overgrown.

Sounds of a distant ambulance siren fades away.

A breeze blows past, leaves ripple. A branch creaks. Shadows breathe.

The house is Southern colonial with four columns rising high above the front veranda. All the windows are dark, except one where a light glows.

A newspaper page flits across the lawn.

Float off the ground towards the glowing light. Past the branches, past the columns, past the shutters. Suddenly the light within snaps out.

In the glass panels of the window is reflected the garden below, dawn light drawing closer.

 

INT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - WELLES’ BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS

An enormous bed is silhouetted against the window. Sounds of paper being pulled out of a typewriter roll.

Full white as sheet of typed paper is placed face down on a stack of script pages by an old man’s hand. The pages are on a large wooden desk littered with books, a glass of water half full. The lamp is switched off.

ORSON WELLES, 70, is seated at the desk, shoulders hunched, tired. A giant white terry toweling bathrobe swathed around his giant body. His breathing is shallow. He tries to stand, but sways. Something is wrong.

He puts his hand down on the manual typewriter to steady himself but the machine slips from under his weight and crashes on the floor, ribbon unspooling across the floor.

KIKI, his little black poodle, trots over to the metal ribbon reel and sniffs it.

Welles is doubled over, clutching his chest, trying to catch his breath. Kiki tilts her head and looks up at him.

Welles feels death coming. He greets it with a smile, a wry smile. He opens his mouth to say something. But all that comes out is his last quiet breath.

His body slumps back in the chair. His arm falls by his side. His fingers relax.

Kiki steps over and gently licks the tips of his fingers.

Dawn breaks into the room as the door opens.

PAUL STEWART, 77, looks in and sees the body of Welles at the desk. He lowers his eyes, then lowers his head.

Fade out on the dead silhouette against the window and rising dawn light.

 

INT. 1985 - TELEVISION SCREEN

Television static zaps to life as a gleaming “Entertainment Tonight” title bleeds against a purple background. It’s the intro after a commercial break, backed by a synthesized fanfare.

Cut to the television studio with attractive female anchor MARY HART trying to look serious. Behind her lies the night lights of Los Angeles. Over her shoulder is a black and white still of an older Orson Welles, smiling and bearded. It’s captioned Orson Welles 1915-1985

MARY HART
Tonight comes word that actor Orson Welles has died in Los Angeles at the age of seventy.

She wears a navy dress, full hair, shoulder pads, black necklace. The colors are over saturated, exaggerated. It could be the camera or the make up.

MARY HART
We’ll have details later.

Cut to male anchor ROBB WELLER backed by the same twinkling Los Angeles, a sea of lost lights. Over his shoulder is a color still of a smiling Yul Brynner. It’s captioned Yul Brynner 1920-1985. Weller wears a gray suit, white shirt and pale lavender tie. He is trying to hide his smile.

ROBB WELLER
Actor Yul Brynner died of lung cancer early today in a New York hospital --

Television static twitches to a different studio shot with Hart behind a white desk, clutching her hands. Over her shoulder is a large framed color still of an older, bearded Orson Welles. It’s captioned Orson Welles 1915-1985.

MARY HART
Orson Welles, who made radio history with “War of the Worlds” and gave us the film classic “Citizen Kane,” died today of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles. He was seventy. Senior correspondent Rona Barrett is here for a look back at an extraordinary career, Rona ...

Cut to Rona Barrett in the studio, backed by the dark lights of Los Angeles. She wears a violet dress, gold earrings. Over her shoulder is the color still of Welles.

RONA BARRETT
Thank you, Mary. He was an extraordinary larger-than-life figure who lived life to its fullest. At age twenty-six, he knocked Hollywood on its ear with his first film, “Citizen Kane,” for which he won an Oscar for Best Screenplay.

Color still dissolves to black and white still from “Citizen Kane” when Welles as Kane meets the old newspaper editor for the first time. Barrett’s delivery is almost breathless.

RONA BARRETT
It was a triumph he could never equal.

Black and white still dissolves back to color still of Welles.

RONA BARRETT
But he did go on to leave his mark with such films as “The Magnificent Ambersons,” “Lady from Shanghai,” “The Third Man,” and “Touch of Evil.” He was married three times, including once to Rita Hayworth, who gave him a daughter.

Color still dissolves to a glamorous 1943 black and white still of young Welles and Hayworth enjoying themselves in a nightclub.

RONA BARRETT
In the last twenty-five years of his life, many of his film projects were left uncompleted.

Black and white still dissolves back to color still of Welles.

RONA BARRETT
But he continued to work steadily as an actor. In everything from films like “The Muppet Movie” to wine commercials.

Color still dissolves to color publicity still of Welles holding up a glass of Paul Masson wine.

RONA BARRETT
But his name will be forever linked to “Citizen Kane.”

Cut to office scene from “Citizen Kane” with Kane in his gaslit newspaper office at dawn, a loose sheet of paper in his hands. Standing in shirt sleeves by the window as dawn rises. Jedediah Leland, played by Joseph Cotten, and Mr. Bernstein, played by Everett Sloane, look up to him, worn out after a long day.

Newsboys can be heard from the street below. Kane starts to turn off the gaslight.

KANE
I’ve got to make the “New York Inquirer” as important to New York as the gas in that light.
LELAND
(quietly)
What’re you going to do, Charlie?
KANE
Declaration of Principles. Don’t smile, Jedediah.

He steps to the desk, slips into shadow.

KANE
Got it all written out. Declaration of Principles ...
BERNSTEIN
You don’t want to make any promises, Mr. Kane, you don’t want to keep.
KANE
(gently)
These will be kept.

He looks at what he has written.

KANE
“I’ll provide the people of this city --
RONA BARRETT (V.O.)
Director, actor, producer, a living legend in Hollywood.

Cut to ferris wheel scene from “The Third Man” where Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles, grins at Holly Martins, played by Joseph Cotten.

RONA BARRETT (V.O.)
A legend that will continue.

Cut to 1984 Directors Guild of America Awards. Welles is at the podium having just been presented the D.W. Griffith Lifetime Achievement Award. He shares the small stage with band musicians wearing tuxedos.

WELLES
When I first came to this town I suppose I was the most unpopular boy in Southern California. For one thing, I was the only working member of the film industry who wore a beard.

Murmurs from the audience.

WELLES
Can you imagine how shocking that was? Look around you tonight. I wish I could claim I have done as much for movies as I have for beards.

Laughs and claps from the audience.

Cut to Rona Barrett in the studio backed by the lights of Los Angeles. Over her shoulder is the color still of Welles. She is smiling.

RONA BARRETT
The L.A. County Coroner’s Office is saying Welles died of natural causes.

But in recent years he has suffered from diabetes and a heart ailment. Welles last role was to introduce a black and white episode of ABC’s “Moonlighting,” which will air next Tuesday night.

Television image shudders to a freeze frame. Sounds of match being struck.

 

INT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD - PARAMOUNT STUDIO - STAGE 28 - PRODUCTION CONTROL ROOM - DAY

Move back from frozen television image to reveal a video monitor wall playing a multitude of silent images and graphics. PHILIP RAWLINGS, 40, lights his cigarette and spews out a stream of smoke. Tosses the match aside.

He is in shadows along with TELEVISION REPORTERS and EDITORS, including ALAN WILIAMS, 25. Rawlings shakes his head.

RAWLINGS
That’s it? That’s all we got!?
WILLIAMS
That’s all we got time for.
RAWLINGS
Seventy years of a man’s life --
EDITOR
It’s a busy show --
RAWLINGS
It’s Orson Welles, for chrissakes. We ought to do a special, go a little deeper. Williams, it’s not enough to tell us what he did. You’ve got to tell us who he was.
REPORTER
An angle?

Rawlings smacks the palm of his hand.

RAWLINGS
Sure! What were Welles’ last words?
ANOTHER REPORTER
His last words on earth?
RAWLINGS
Maybe he gave himself away on his deathbed.
WILLIAMS
Maybe he didn’t. Maybe he just --
RAWLINGS
All we saw on that screen was an American celebrity.

One of the editors groans. Rawlings plows on.

RAWLINGS
How was he different from Ford or Capra or John Doe? I tell you Williams, his dying words, a man’s dying words --
WILLIAMS
Rosebud?
EDITOR
I doubt it.

Rawlings takes a deep drag of his cigarette.

RAWLINGS
You know what Rosebud was?
REPORTER
Wasn’t it a sled?
RAWLINGS
It was Randolph Hearst’s nickname for his mistress’ clitoris.

All the men laugh low.

REPORTER
Somehow I don’t think Welles would have been thinking about Marion Davis’ clit when he died.
EDITOR
Who knows?
RAWLINGS
That’s what we have to find out. What were his final words?
REPORTER
Didn’t he do ‘The Merv Griffin Show” in the afternoon?
RAWLINGS
All right! Grab the tape, find those last words.
REPORTER
Maybe the “Moonlighting” introduction?
RAWLINGS
Good, good! Did he make any other recordings?
ANOTHER REPORTER
Maybe he left a message on someone’s answering machine?

The men laugh again.

RAWLINGS
Williams, get in touch with everybody that ever knew him or knew him well. That manager of his, uh, Houseman. His wives -- they still living. That mistress of his?
WILLIAMS
Oja Kodar?
REPORTER
She has an artist studio downtown.
RAWLINGS
See them all. Grab a cameraman and sound guy. Get in touch with everybody that ever worked for him, who ever loved him, who ever hated his him.

Rawlings looks over the men with a smile.

RAWLINGS
I mean, don’t go through the LA 411 Directory, of course.

Rawlings laughs. Williams grabs his jacket.

WILLIAMS
I’m on it, Rawlings.
RAWLINGS
Good. Welles’ last words.

Williams leaves. Rawlings crushes out his cigarette.

RAWLINGS
It’ll probably turn out to be a very simple thing.

 

 

EXT. 1985 - LOS ANGELES DOWNTOWN - OLD WAREHOUSE - OJA KORDA’S STUDIO - NIGHT

Sounds of snarling traffic below.

Move across old warehouse rooftop. Ladders, tarpaulins and paint tins are stacked in a pile. Light glows faintly from the skylight. Drift through the ladders towards the skylight. See Oja Korda’s artist studio below. Sounds of telephone ringing.

Pass through the glass.

 

INT. 1985 - LOS ANGELES DOWNTOWN - OLD WAREHOUSE - OJA KORDA’S STUDIO - CONTINUOUS

Sounds of telephone ringing becomes louder. Canvases are stacked against the wall, an empty easel is pushed against the corner. An unfinished clay bust of Orson Welles sits on a table in the center of the studio, lit by a solitary lamp.

The phone is ringing on another table littered with art books.

 

INT. 1985 - LOS ANGELES AIRPORT - GATE LOUNGE - CONTINUOUS

Williams is at the payphone on the wall. He hangs up and dials another number.

WILLIAMS
(into phone)
Hello? This is Williams. Let me talk to Rawlings.

Williams looks at the passengers starting to line up to board the plane. His CAMERAMAN and SOUND GUY are sharing a joke

WILLIAMS
(into phone)
No, no answer. Tomorrow I’m going to Boston to the Houghton Library. That’s right, the private papers from Welles’ lawyer Weissberger. They’re expecting me. Then I’m coming back to Malibu. I’ve got an appointment with Welles’ manager, what’s his name? Houseman. Then I’ll try Kodar again.

The passengers start to shuffle on board. His Cameraman and Sound Guy join the end of the line.

WILLIAMS
(into phone)
If they’re alive, I’ll see them.

Williams hangs up and joins the end of the line too.

 

INT. 1985 - HARVARD - HOUGHTON LIBRARY - DAY

Walls are lined with glass fronted bookshelves. The air is dry, controlled. At the desk sits senior librarian MISS ANDERSON, an elderly, mannish spinster. She is on the phone. Williams and his crew are standing before her.

MISS ANDERSON
The directors of the Houghton Library have asked me to remind you again, Mr. Williams, of the conditions under which you may inspect certain papers from Mr. Weissberger’s unpublished memoirs.

Williams tries to cut in.

MISS ANDERSON
(into phone)
Yes, Manz, I’ll bring him right down.

She hangs up.

MISS ANDERSON
Under no circumstances are direct quotations from his manuscript to be used by you.

Williams nods okay.

She rises and heads to the elevator. Williams and crew follow her as the elevator doors open. They step in and the doors slide close. The elevator descends.

 

INT. 1985 - HARVARD - HOUGHTON LIBRARY - UNDERGROUND - CONTINUOUS

Elevator doors slide open and Miss Anderson strides out into the dark concrete labyrinth.

MISS ANDERSON
Under no circumstances are photographic lights to be used by you.

Williams and crew follow her around a corner towards a reading room.

 

INT. 1985 - HARVARD - HOUGHTON LIBRARY - UNDERGROUND - READING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

MANZ, the security guard, lowers a journal to the table.

MISS ANDERSON
Mr. Williams, you will be required to leave this room at four-thirty promptly. You will confine yourself, it is our understanding, to the chapters regarding Mr. Welles.

She walks away.

WILLIAMS
That’s all I’m interest in, thank you.

Williams sits down and looks up at the unsmiling security guard. Behind him, Miss Anderson stops and turns sharply.

MISS ANDERSON
Pages eighty-two to one-hundred-and-forty-one.

Glide over Williams’ shoulder as he starts to read the handwritten manuscript. Follow the words written tightly in sharp pencil that read ‘George Orson Welles received his favorite present on his ninth birthday in 1924.’ Sound of gift paper being frantically unwrapped.

 

INT. 1924 - CHICAGO - WELLES FAMILY APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

Orson Welles has just turned nine and is furiously unwrapping a present on his lap. Cherubic face, glistening eyes, pudgy body.

Surrounded by older men including his father, RICHARD.

WELLES, 52, wearing spats and holding a glass of whiskey. DR. BERNSTEIN, 42, squats by Orson’s side, attentive. His older bother, Richard is absent.

Someone is at the piano, tinkling out tunes and melodies. Much hubbub and mirth. Swirls of cigar smoke.

Other birthday presents have already been opened and discarded. Conductor’s batten, electric train set, violin, marionette, paints, puppet theater, pipe, books. Lots of books.

Young Orson rips away the wrapping paper to reveal a black buckram case with a sloped front and metal handle. His eyes widen.

He unclips the latch and slowly opens the lid to reveal a brand new Corona 4 portable typewriter. Vibrant, scarlet enamel paint. White keys that almost glow. His smile widens.

He hears his father’s voice boom above him, laughing.

RICHARD WELLES
We’ll make writer out of you yet, Orson.

MAID walks in carrying a birthday cake. There are nine candles flickering on top. Young Orson claps his hands. Piano player hits some keys. Men laugh.

DR. BERNSTEIN
Why don’t you take that to your mother, Pookles?

Young Orson’s eyes saddens. He stands and takes the birthday cake, and leaves the room.

 

INT. 1924 - APARTMENT HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS

Young Orson carries the birthday cake towards an open bedroom door at the end of the long, deep hallway. A dim light seeps from the open door.

 

INT. 1924 - APARTMENT BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS

Young Orson swallows as he enters the bedroom. Pale light falls from a lamp on the bedside table. His mother, BEATRICE WELLES, 42, is in bed, ill. A cool, self-centered woman.

Hair swept back. Medicine bottles and tinctures on the bedside table.

Beatrice Welles is dying from hepatitis.

BEATRICE WELLES
A lovely boy, stol’n from an Indian king, Who ever had so sweet a changeling?

She gently pats the side of the bed. Young Orson sits.

She turns off the bedside lamp.

The dancing light from the candles plays between them.

BEATRICE WELLES
Look at this silly birthday cake. Just another silly cake. Orson, you will have all the cakes you ever want. But see those candles?

Young Orson nods his head.

BEATRICE WELLES
Those candles are a fairy ring. And you will never again in your whole life have just that number to blow out.

Young Orson blushes.

BEATRICE WELLES
You must puff very hard, you must blow out every one of them.

Young Orson takes a deep, deep breath.

BEATRICE WELLES
And you must make a wish.

Young Orson blows out all the candles.

And everything falls into darkness.

 

EXT. 1924 - KENOSHA - GREEN RIDGE CEMETERY - MORNING

It’s autumn. It’s raining. A handful of mourners under black umbrellas watch the casket of Beatrice Welles being lowered into the ground. Fallen leaves on the soft lawn. The priest leaves.

Young Orson is sobbing. Dr. Bernstein has his arm around his shoulders. Richard Welles stands to one side, checking his fob watch.

RICHARD WELLES
Orson, Dadda Bernstein is going to look after you while I’m gone, do you understand?

Orson nods. Dr. Bernstein holds him closer.

Dissolve.

 

EXT. 1927 - KENOSHA - GREEN RIDGE CEMETERY - AFTERNOON

It’s the end of winter. It’s overcast. Dr Bernstein stands in the same position with an older Orson Welles as the casket of Richard Welles is lowered into the ground. Orson is twelve years old, and crying.

There are no mourners except the boy and his guardian. Dr. Bernstein looks older, sadder. He is wearing glasses now.

He pats Orson gently on the shoulder.

Fade away.

 

INT. 1930 - CHICAGO - ART INSTITUTE - EXHIBITION ROOM - DAY

Close on Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “La loge” (The Theater Box). A sheen of gold light from the gilded frame spills across the impressionist masterpiece. An elegantly dressed woman in a theater box lowers her opera glasses, revealing herself directly to her admirers. She looks remarkably like Beatrice Welles.

Behind her in the painting sits her male companion in evening clothes, looking out elsewhere. You can almost hear the flutter of the audience.

Orson Welles stands in front of the painting, transfixed. He is now fifteen years old. He wipes a tear away from his eye.

He is wearing his Todd School uniform. A brown blazer with shirt and tie, long pants.

He is the only person in the exhibition room. In the passageway behind him, a fleet of rowdy Todd School STUDENTS sails past. Laughing and jostling among themselves. One of them calls out to him.

STUDENT
C’mon, Orson.

He doesn’t follow them. He doesn’t even look at them.

 

INT. 1935 - NEW YORK CITY - WEISSBERGER LAW OFFICE - DAY

L. ARNOLD WEISSBERGER is a thin, uptight lawyer. Anxious, urbane and possessing extraordinary integrity.

He is standing by the window, carnation as always well placed in his svelte jacket’s button hole, dictating a letter to an attractive male SECRETARY.

WEISSBERGER
In closing, may I again remind you that your twentieth birthday, which is now approaching, marks your complete independence from the family trust, as well as the assumption of your full responsibility of all available holdings. Have you got that?
SECRETARY
‘ ...all available holdings.’
WEISSBERGER
Yes -- Orson, I don’t think you quite realize the full importance of the position you are about to occupy. I am therefore enclosing for your consideration a complete list of your holdings, including literary and theatrical properties, and more significant assets, extensively cross-indexed.

Flip.

 

INT. 1935 - NEW YORK CITY - WEISSBERGER LAW OFFICE - DAY

Weissberger is sitting behind his desk, tapping the tips of his fingers together.

Male secretary is standing, reading a short letter. He holds the opened envelop in his other hand.

SECRETARY
‘Dear Mr. Weissberger --’ it’s from Mr. Welles.
WEISSBERGER
Go on.
SECRETARY
‘Sorry, but I’m not interested in coal mines, real estate or trademarks --’

Weissberger can’t believe his ears. He snaps on his glasses.

WEISSBERGER
Not interested!

He snatches the letter and reads it for himself.

WEISSBERGER
‘Not interested -- but one item on your list intrigues me... Jupiter Theater in New York, a small playhouse I understand we acquired in a foreclosure proceeding. Please don’t sell it. I’m coming back to America to take charge. I think it would be fun to run a theater.’

Weissberger peels off his glasses.

WEISSBERGER
‘I think it would be fun to run a theater!’

 

EXT. 1936 - NEW YORK CITY - THEATRICAL POSTER - MACBETH - NIGHT

Blood red poster with a macabre illustration of a golden goat head. Bold black type reads ‘The Negro Theatre presents Macbeth by William Shakespeare - A startling modernistic adaptation written and directed by Orson Welles with Voodoo dances and primitive chants staged by Asadata Dafora at the New Lafayette Theatre - Popular Prices 15c 25c 40c’

Sounds of excited audience gathering outside theatre.

Dissolve

 

EXT. 1936 - NEW YORK CITY - THEATRICAL POSTER - HORSE EATS HAT - DAY

Hay colored poster with a cartoon illustration of a horse chomping on a woman’s straw hat. Silver and brown slab type reads ‘WPA Federal theatre Project 891 presents Horse Eats Hat - Maxine Elliott Theatre - 25c 55c 83c’

Sounds of theatre foyer bell clanging and eager audience shuffling to their seats, spatter of clapping.

Dissolve.

 

EXT. 1937 - NEW YORK CITY - THEATRICAL POSTER - FAUSTUS - NIGHT

Black poster with lurid green Gothic drawing of a deranged skeleton banging a drum, an hour glass by his side. Red serif type reads ‘WPA Federal Theatre Presents Faustus by Christopher Marlowe - Maxine Elliott’s Theatre 109 West 39th Street’

Sounds of clapping erupting wildly with manic audience rising to their feet, cheering and whistling.

Dissolve.

 

EXT. 1937 - NEW YORK CITY - THEATRICAL POSTER - CRADLE WILL ROCK - EVENING

White and coral poster with thin art deco type that reads ‘WPA Federal Theatre Project 891 presents The Crade Will Rock by Marc Blitzstein - Maxine Elliots Theater’

Sounds of sirens and police barricading a theater as angry audience try to force their way in, screaming accusations.

Hands tear half the poster off the wall.

Dissolve.

 

INT. 1937 - NEW YORK CITY - WEISSBERGER’S APARTMENT - NEW YORK TIMES DRAMA PAGE - MORNING

An announcement at the top of the page is framed in stars and reads ‘Plan for a New Theatre ...’

Weissberger sits at his breakfast table. He slips on his glasses and reads the newspaper announcement aloud.

WEISSBERGER
‘When its doors open early in November, the Mercury Theatre will expect to play to the same audience that during the last two seasons stood to see “Doctor Faustus,” “Murder in the Cathedral” and the “Negro Macbeth.”

Weissberger peers closer as he continues reading.

WEISSBERGER
‘By filling out the questionnaires we placed in their programs during the run of Doctor Faustus, some forty thousand of them made their theatrical confessions to us. We asked for specific suggestions: the overwhelming majority of their requests was for “more classical plays,” “classical plays excitingly produced,” and “great plays of the past produced in a modern way.”

Weissberger coughs.

WEISSBERGER
‘This is the audience the Mercury Theatre will try to satisfy. We shall produce four or five plays each season. Most of these will be plays of the past - preferably those which seem to have emotional or factual bearing on contemporary life.

Weissberger scoffs and continues reading.

WEISSBERGER
‘We prefer not to fix our program rigidly too far ahead. But we do know that our first Mercury production will be ...

Dissolve.

 

INT. 1937 - NEW YORK CITY - NATIONAL THEATRE - CAESAR - EVENING

Top half of printed theatrical playbill with clean type that reads ‘The Mercury Theatre presents the Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare - A modern production by Orson Welles - Music by Marc Blitzstein - Dramatis Personae - Julius Caesar played by Joseph Holland - Marcus Antonius played by George Coulouris - Publius played by Jospeh Cotten - Marcus Brutus played by Orson Welles

Weissberger closes the playbill, straightens up in his seat and looks around. Sounds of theatre audience settling in as light dims and darkness falls.

 

INT. 1937 - NEW YORK CITY - WEISSBERGER’S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

Desk lamp skews light and strange shadows across the room as Weissberger tunes in his upright radio. Sounds of scanning through the crackling airwaves until he settles on station CBS.

Sounds of haunting, drawn music creeps out as the bitter voice of Ken Roberts as the announcer asks the opening question.

ANNOUNCER
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows ...

Weissberger glances over his shoulder.

Dissolve.

 

INT. 1938 - NEW YORK CITY - OFFICE BUILDING FOYER - NEWSTAND - MORNING

Time magazines are pegged on a strand of wire. The red framed color covers have a portrait of the twenty-three years old Orson Welles made up as the eighty-eight year old Captain Shotover from George Bernard Shaw’s “Heartbreak House” with full gray beard and swept back hair.

The headline reads ‘George Orson Welles - Shadow to Shakespeare, Shoemaker to Shaw.’

Sounds of dozens of office workers rushing past.

Dissolve.

 

INT. 1938 - NEW YORK CITY - WEISSBERGER LAW OFFICE - NIGHT

Weissberger is sitting at his desk, correcting some contract notes. The window is open and the sounds of the city below float in. The small wooden Philco radio is tuned to NBC and playing an incidental piece by the Arturo Toscanini’s NBC Symphony Orchestra.

Weissberger rubs his eyes, gets up and moves to the radio. He tries to tune into another station and slides on a swing band in full flight. This makes him smile.

He turns to go back to his seat when a desperate radio Announcer cuts in with a news flash.

ANNOUNCER
We take you now to Grovers Mill, New Jersey --

Weissberger looks at the radio. Sounds of anxious crowds and swirling police sirens. Sounds of breathless journalist Carl Phillips.

PHILLIPS
I wish I could convey the atmosphere -- the background of this -- fantastic scene. Hundreds of cars are parked in a field in back of us. Police are trying to rope off the roadway leading to the farm. But it’s no use. They’re breaking right through. Cars’ headlights throw an enormous spot on the pit where the object’s half buried. Some of the more daring souls are now venturing near the edge. Their silhouettes stand out against the metal sheen.

Sounds of faint metallic humming. Weissberger reaches to turn up the volume.

PHILLIPS
One man wants to touch the thing -- he’s having an argument with a policeman. The policeman wins --

Weissberger slowly lowers his hand. He can’t believe his ears.

PHILLIPS
Now, ladies and gentlemen, there’s something I haven’t mentioned in all this excitement, but now it’s becoming more distinct. Perhaps you’ve caught it already on your radio. Listen --

There is no sound. Just a long, dead pause.

PHILLIPS
Do you hear it? It’s a curious humming sound that seems to come from inside the object. I’ll move the microphone nearer. Now we’re not more then twenty-five feet away. Can you hear it now? Oh, Professor Pierson!

Sounds of faint metal rasping becoming louder.

PIERSON
Yes, Mr. Phillips?
PHILLIPS
Can you tell us the meaning of that scraping noise inside the thing?
PIERSON
Possibly the unequal cooling of its surface.
PHILLIPS
I see, do you still think it’s a meteor, Professor?
PIERSON
I don’t know what to think. The metal casing is definitely extraterrestrial -- not found on this earth. Friction with the earth’s atmosphere usually tears holes in a meteorite. This thing is smooth and, as you can see, of cylindrical shape.
PHILLIPS
Just a minute! Something’s happening! Ladies and gentlemen, this is terrific! This end of the thing is beginning to flake off! The top is beginning to rotate like a screw! The thing must be hollow!

Weissberger is riveted. Sounds of scared voices from the crowd.

VOICES
She’s movin’! Look, the darn thing’s unscrewing! Keep back, there! Keep back, I tell you! Maybe there’s men in it trying to escape! It’s red hot, they’ll burn to a cinder! Keep back there. Keep those idiots back!

Wiessberger’s hand shivers. Sounds of a huge piece of metal slicing and falling to the ground.

VOICES
She’s off! The top’s loose! Look out there! Stand back!
PHILLIPS
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the most terrifying thing I have ever witnessed -- Wait a minute! Someone’s crawling out of the hollow top. Someone or -- something. I can see peering out of that black hole two luminous disks -- are they eyes? It might be a face. It might be --

Sounds of awe from the crowd.

PHILLIPS
Good heavens, something’s wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now it’s another one, and another. They look like tentacles to me. There, I can see the thing’s body. It’s large, large as a bear and it glistens like wet leather. But that face, it -- Ladies and gentlemen, it’s indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate. The monster or whatever it is can hardly move. It seems weighed down by -- possibly gravity or something. The thing’s raising up. The crowd falls back now. They’ve seen plenty. This is the most extraordinary experience. I can’t find words -- I’ll pull this microphone with me as I talk. I’ll have to stop the description until I can take a new position. Hold on, will you please, I’ll be right back in a minute --

Sounds of filler piano music.

ANNOUNCER
We are bringing you an eyewitness account of what’s happening on the Wilmuth farm, Grovers Mill, New Jersey --

Sounds of more piano music.

ANNOUNCER
We now return you to Carl Phillips at Grovers Mill.
PHILLIPS
Ladies and gentlemen -- Am I on? Ladies and gentlemen, here I am, at the back of a stone wall that adjoins Mr. Wilmuth’s garden. From here I get a sweep of the whole scene. I’ll give you every detail as long as I can talk. As long as I can see. More state police have arrived. They’re drawing up a cordon in front of the pit, about thirty of them. No need to push the crowd back now. They’re willing to keep their distance. The captain is conferring with someone. We can’t quite see who. Oh yes, I believe it’s Professor Pierson. Yes, it is. Now they’ve parted. The Professor moves around one side, studying the object, while the captain and two policemen advance with something in their hands. I can see it now. It’s a white handkerchief tied to a pole -- a flag of truce. If those creatures know what that means -- what anything means! -- Wait! Something’s happening!

Sounds of metallic hissing and humming becomes louder and louder until it cuts out. Completely.

Dead air.

Weissberger is staring at the radio. From the open window comes the sounds of a car in the street below rapidly accelerating then a horn blaring then an almighty crash. Sounds of people wailing and screaming, fleeing.

Weissberger looks mortified.

 

INT. 1938 - 1940 - NEWSPAPERS - DAY

Sounds of frantic newsboys screaming out extra, extra, read all about it as they shout out the headlines.

Newspapers land on top of each other. Each front page features a blazing headline and subsequent story and picture on Welles rise.

New York Times reads ‘Radio Listeners in Panic, Taking War Drama as Fact - Many Flee Homes to Escape Gas Raid from Mars - Phone Calls Swamp Police at Broadcast of Welles Fantasy’

Wall Street Journal reads ‘Campbell’s Soup Sponsors Mercury Theatre on the Air - Orson Welles Directs and Stars’

New York Post reads ‘Welles Falls for Beautiful Ballet Dancer - Boy Genius Grabs a Keptive’

Variety reads ‘Hypo Orsie Snags Whammo RKO Contract - Writer! Producer! Director! Star!’

Hollywood Reporter reads ‘Mr. Genius Comes to Town’

 

INT - 1940 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO - SELZNICK STUDIO - DAY

Flames dance inside a large furnace. Sounds of 35mm movie camera purring.

ORSON WELLES (O.C.)
Cut! Cut! Cut, cut, cut!

Cinematographer GREGG TOLAND, 36, looks up from behind his blimped 35mm Mitchell BNC movie camera mounted on top of a small crane. He looks older than he is, thin and pale. Shoulders bent.

ASSISTANTS, GRIPS and other CREW MEMBERS drop their heads, exhausted on the set of “Citizen Kane.” ACTORS dressed as laborers. One of them is holding a boy’s sled in his hand. PAUL STEWART, 32, in character as the sinister butler is casually smoking a cigarette.

Mr. Weissberger is visiting the set. He looks out of place in his formal suit, overcoat draped over his arm. He is frantically pointing at Toland.

WEISSBERGER
Thirty-seven takes! Is this really your idea of how to make a motion picture?

Orson Welles, 24, is leaning back on his canvas director’s chair, sipping his tea. His name is painted is swirling script on the back of the chair. He is dressed as Charles Foster Kane and made up to look twice his age. He turns to look at Weissberger, and smiles.

WELLES
I don’t know how to make a picture,

Mr. Weissberger. I just try everything I can think of.

JOHN HOUSEMAN, 38, hurries in with typed pages in his hand. Welles stands and hand his cup of tea to a waiting assistant. At six feet tall he cuts quite an imposing figure.

WELLES
Hello, Jack.
HOUSEMAN
I have the script notes --

Houseman notices Weissberger.

HOUSEMAN
How do you do, Mr. Weissberger?

Before Weissberger can answer JOSPEH COTTEN, 35, in costume as Jedediah Leland, reaches in and takes one of Welles cigars.

COTTEN
I’ll just borrow one of these.
WELLES
Jo ...

Cotten looks up at Weissberger.

COTTEN
Hello!

Houseman holds up the script notes.

HOUSEMAN
-- from the front office.

Weissberger looks relieved. Welles takes the notes with a grin and tosses them straight in the furnace. They immediately catch alight. He calls out to his crew, voice booming.

WELLES
Flames! Flames! I need more flames!

Assistants scatter everywhere. Toland rubs his eyes. SECOND CAMERA ASSISTANT wipes off the shot number from the blackboard clapperboard, chalks in a new one.

Assistants start throwing more timber into the furnace, whatever they can get their hands on.

WEISSBERGER
Still the college boy, aren’t you?
WELLES
Oh no, Mr. Weissberger, you remember I never went to college?
WEISSBERGER
Orson, I think I should remind you of a fact you seem to have forgotten. According to your contract with RKO Pictures, you are already late on the completion and delivery of this, your first film. I have secured three extensions already. It is highly unlikely I can secure another without RKO invoking their right to ‘consultation’ in the postproduction process.
WELLES
Trouble is you don’t realize you’re talking to two people.

Welles turns his head.

WELLES
As the producer Orson Welles I am aware that Article Twenty-Four, Section Twenty-Four dash one-hundred-and-two states ‘The distributor shall be entitled to confer with the producer on the final cutting and editing of each of the pictures prior to the delivery thereof, but the control of such cutting shall vest in the producer’ -- you see, I do have a general idea of my contract -- I sympathize with you. Orson Welles is a scoundrel.

Weissberger doesn’t understand.

WELLES
He’s profligate, irresponsible, and should be run out of town. A committee should be formed to boycott him.

Weissberger taps his fingers.

WELLES
You may, if you can form such a committee, put me down for a contribution of one thousand dollars.
WEISSBERGER
(angrily)
Orson, my time is too valuable for me --

Welles becomes serious.

WELLES
On the other hand, I am the writer and director and star of this picture. I’ll let you in on a secret, it’s also my pleasure to see to it that decent, hard-working people in the community are given the chance to see something more than another Shirley Temple picture.

Weissberger puts on his overcoat. Welles helps him.

WELLES
I’ll let you in on another little secret, Mr. Weissberger. I think I’m the man to do it. You see, I have money and properties and ideas.

Welles screams at the crew.

WELLES
I need more flames!!

Toland reframes and refocuses the camera on the mouth of the furnace. Motions to his FIRST CAMERA ASSISTANT to get ready.

WEISSBERGER
Yes, yes, yes! Properties! Well, I happened to see your list of literary and film properties today.
WELLES
Oh did you.
WEISSBERGER
Tell me, honestly, don’t you think it rather unwise to try and make a film a year?

Welles nods.

WELLES
You’re right, Mr. Weissberger, I’ll make a film this year. I expect to make a film next year.

Weissberger thinks the point has registered at last.

WELLES
You know, Mr. Weissberger, at the rate of a film a year ...

Welles smiles to himself.

WELLES
I’ll have to stop in sixty years.

Welles is smiling at Weissberger who turns and leaves. Welles screams out at the top of his voice.

WELLES
Roll camera!!

Toland triggers the camera.

TOLAND
Speed!
WELLES
Action!!

Crane glides down towards the mouth of the furnace. Welles snatches the boy’s sled from the actor and tosses it into the leaping flames.

The sled is engulfed in flames. Move in to see the faded painted rose and the word ‘Rosebud’ blister and shrivel in the heat.

Flames devour the sled.

 

INT. 1985 - HARVARD - HOUGHTON LIBRARY - UNDERGROUND - READING ROOM - DAY

Follow the words written tightly in sharp pencil in Weissberger’s journal that read ‘then in the year of 1978.’ Sound of flames dying.

 

INT. 1978 - NEW YORK CITY - WEISSBERGER LAW OFFICE - BOARDROOM - AFTERNOON

Flames are withering amongst the coals in the fireplace.

Welles, 63, stands at the window, looking out at the sun setting on the city. A bear of a man, dressed completely in black.

Weissberger is at the boardroom table, initialing a lengthy contract. He reads a subsection out aloud.

WEISSBERGER
‘With respect to the said literary and film rights, the said George Orson Welles hereby relinquishes all control thereof, and of the trusts pertaining thereto and any and all other theatrical, radio, literary, documentary, television and film properties of any kind whatsoever, and agrees to abandon --’
WELLES
I’ve read it, Mr. Weissberger.

Welles turns. He looks like his portrait of the old man on the cover of Time magazine back in 1938. Gray hair combed back, gray beard. Smoking a cigar.

Welles walks towards the boardroom table, resigned to his fate.

WELLES
Let me sign it, and I’ll go home.

Weissberger slides the contract towards him.

WEISSBERGER
You’re too old to call me Mr. Weissberger, Orson.
WELLES
You’re too old to be called anything else. You were always too old.

Welles picks up the pen.

WEISSBERGER
Do you know, Orson, you never made a single proper investment. Always used your money to --

Welles starts signing the contract.

WELLES
To make things.

Welles finishes signing. Discards the pen

WELLES
You know, Mr. Weissberger, if I hadn’t been a genius, I might have been a really great man.
WEISSBERGER
Don’t you think you are?
WELLES
I think I did pretty well under the circumstances.

 

INT. 1985 - HARVARD - HOUGHTON LIBRARY - UNDERGROUND - READING ROOM - DAY

Williams is at the table with Weissberger’s journal, glances at his watch. Mutters under his breath.

WILLIAMS
Damn!

The security guard looks up.

MANZ
I beg your pardon, sir?
WILLIAMS
What?
MANZ
What did you say?
WILLIAMS
(more to himself)
Nothing.

Williams rises and turns to confront the senior librarian who has come into the reading room to shoo him out.

MISS ANDERSON
It is four-thirty. You have enjoyed a very rare privilege, young man. Did you find what you were looking for?
WILLIAMS
No.

Williams looks at the librarian, tilts his head.

WILLIAMS
You wouldn’t happen to know what Orson Welles’ dying words were, would you?
MISS ANDERSON
What!?

Williams looks over the at security guard.

WILLIAMS
How about you? Any clues? No?

Williams turns and leaves. Cameraman And Sound Guy follow.

WILLIAMS
Goodbye, everybody. Thanks for the use of the crypt

 

INT. 1985 - MALIBU - HOUSEMAN’S HOME - STUDY - DAY

Move back from an illustration of young and fierce looking Orson Welles to reveal it’s the original “Citizen Kane” poster, framed and hanging on a wall. Welles is standing astride as Charles Foster Kane. His fists are clenched. Vignettes of the character’s life are overlaid at his feet with the title and his name in capital letters. A headline behind his left shoulder declares ‘It’s Terrific!’

JOHN HOUSEMAN, 83, is seated in front of the poster at his desk, sipping tea. He looks very much like the Dean of Harvard Law School he played in “The Paper Chase” film and television series. Gray suit and vest, trim black bow tie.

HOUSEMAN
A busy man? Me? I have nothing but time. What would you like to know?

Houseman’s accent is Mid-Atlantic, his demeanor far from stern. Williams sits opposite him as the Cameraman and Sound Guy set up.

WILLIAMS
Well, Mr. Houseman, we thought maybe you had some idea about his last words, his dying words.
HOUSEMAN
His Rosebud, yes? Did you boss tell you it will probably be a very simple thing?

Williams nods. Houseman smiles.

HOUSEMAN
It might have been something to do with “Citizen Kane,” but I doubt it.
WILLIAMS
Because of the controversy?
HOUSEMAN
What controversy? Mankiewicz wrote a script, Toland was a wonderful cameraman and all that, but it was Orson’s film completely.

Houseman shakes his head.

HOUSEMAN
It was his own fault. He wanted to be given all the credit because he was a hog. It was his nature.
WILLIAMS
But Pauline Kael said --
HOUSEMAN
I was with Mankiewicz when he wrote it. I was with Orson when he worked on it. It’s an idiotic controversy. It’s Orson’s film. It will always be Orson’s film.

Houseman gets up and steps over to a side table, pours himself another tea. It’s a vast study. Framed posters of films Houseman has produced line one wall. “The Bad and the Beautiful,” “Executive Suite,” “Lust for Life,” “They Live by Night.” “All Fall Down.” Even “Julius Caesar.”

WILLIAMS
Do you think Welles had many regrets?
HOUSEMAN
We all have regrets, Mr. -- Mr. Williams. Tea?

Houseman offers Williams a cup. Williams shakes his head.

HOUSEMAN
You take me. One day back in nineteen thirty-one I was crossing Broadway to the Tillman Theatre. I was walking against the traffic lights.

Houseman remembers.

HOUSEMAN
A girl passed me by. She was wearing a white dress, carrying a small white purse. I saw her for only a second. She never saw me at all.

Houseman smiles at the memory.

HOUSEMAN
Not a month has gone by since that I haven’t thought of her.

Houseman sips his tea.

HOUSEMAN
Who else have you been to see?
WILLIAMS
I tried to call Oja Kodar.
HOUSEMAN
I called her myself the day after he died. I thought perhaps somebody ought to. She couldn’t even come to the phone.
WILLIAMS
I’m going to try and see her in a couple of days.

Houseman smiles.

WILLIAMS
About Welles’ last words, Mr. Houseman? If you could just talk about anything connected with Mr. Welles that you can remember. After all, you were with him from the beginning.
HOUSEMAN
From before the beginning, young man. And now ...

Houseman looks at his framed film posters.

HOUSEMAN
Have you tried to see anybody except Oja?
WILLIAMS
No one. I’ve been through L. Arnold Weissberger’s journal.

Houseman waves him off.

HOUSEMAN
The man was an idiot.
WILLIAMS
He made an awful lot of money.
HOUSEMAN
Like the man said, there’s no trick to make a lot of money if all you want to do is make a lot of money.

Houseman points at the portrait of Welles looming on the “Citizen Kane” poster.

HOUSEMAN
You take Orson. It wasn’t money he wanted. Weissberger never did figure him out. Sometimes even I couldn’t.

Houseman sits back down behind the desk.

HOUSEMAN
You know who you ought to see?

Joseph Cotten. Jo was Orson’s closest friend.

WILLIAMS
They did a play together. “Julius Caesar,” wasn’t it?

Houseman folds his arms together.

HOUSEMAN
“Julius Caesar,” “The Shoemaker’s Holiday,” “Danton’s Death.” There were a lot of plays.

Houseman sighs.

HOUSEMAN
Jo never had a dime. One of those old families where the father is worth ten million, then one day he shoots himself, and it turns out to be nothing but debts.

Houseman remembers.

HOUSEMAN
He was with Orson and me the first day Orson came to RKO.

 

EXT. 1940 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIO - ENTRANCE - MORNING

Sounds of passing traffic. Move down from a clutch of metal lightning bolts atop a radio transmission tower. Down past the metal letters that spell RKO. Down to the gigantic concrete globe on the corner of the triple story Art Deco building that houses the sound stages.

Down past the cubic metal letters that spell RKO over the polished bronze frame and the glass doors, gleaming with an etched geometric sunburst.

A speeding Packard taxi screeches to a stop out front. Welles and Cotten are in the back seat, looking up at the building. Well dressed, grinning. Excited.

WELLES
Take a good look, Jo. It’s going to look a lot different one of these days. Come on.

They leap out, sprint up the steps and into the building.

Taxi pulls away. A removal truck with an open tray laden with bedroom furniture pulls up. Houseman is in the back, sitting in a lounge chair amongst the furniture reading a film script.

The DRIVER looks up, pushes back his cap and scratches the back of his head.

DRIVER
There ain’t no bedrooms here.
HOUSEMAN
Are we paying you for interior design or hauling?

Driver shakes his head.

 

INT. 1940 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIO - OFFICES - CONTINUOUS

Door opens onto the front half of the second floor of the administration offices. Despite the brilliant sunshine outside, very little of it is actually getting in because the windows are small and narrow. There are about a dozen tables and desks. Promotional signs for older films like “What Price Hollywood?” and “Of Human Bondage” and “The Last Days of Pompeii” lean against one wall, gathering dust. OLDER STAFF are pottering around.

Two PRETTY SECRETARIES. One typing absentmindedly, the other painting her nails red. Welles grins at her.

WELLES
Joseph?
COTTEN
After you, Mr. Welles.

They enter. There is a larger desk in the centre and an open door to one side leading to a private office.

Joseph swings around a pole. Welles looks around. There is a new golden sign wrapped in paper leaning against a wall. The paper has been torn and peeled back so it looks like a giant candy bar. Only half of the words can be seen. They read ‘Quality Pictures at a --’ Blinds are drawn under the skylight to keep the sun away.

Welles approaches an AGING GENT at the desk.

WELLES
Excuse me, sir, but I --

The man looks startled. He jumps to his feet and starts clapping. Eight other OFFICE MEN stand and join in. MR. SANFORD, 55, bumbles his way through them, anxious and perspiring. Waving the clapping away.

SANFORD
Welcome, Mr. Welles. Welcome

Sanford shakes Cotten’s hand warmly.

SANFORD
Welcome to RKO, Mr. Welles.
COTTEN
Oh, this is --
SANFORD
I’m Ernest Sanford. Mr Schaefer apologizes he couldn’t be here to greet you personally. He’s been called to New York on --

Welles steps forward.

WELLES
Thank you, Mr Sanford, but this is Mr. Cotten, a --

Sanford vigorously shakes Cotten’s hand

SANFORD
Well, how do you do, Mr. Cotten?

Welles looks a little lost.

WELLES
-- a new leading man. I hope I haven’t made a mistake, Jo. It is a leading man you want to be, isn’t it?
COTTEN
You know that’s right.
WELLES
Are they standing for me?

Sanford looks confused.

SANFORD
You? Oh, Mr. Welles. Standing? Uh --
WELLES
How do you do?
SANFORD
Oh, how do you do? I thought it would be a nice little gesture for the --
WELLES
Ask them to sit down, will you, please?
SANFORD
-- the new star? Uh, uh, you may resume your duties, gentlemen.
WELLES
Thank you.
SANFORD
I didn’t know your plans so --
WELLES
I don’t know my plans myself.
SANFORD
-- so I haven’t been able to make any preferential --
WELLES
Matter of fact I haven’t got any plans, except to make a motion picture.

Sounds of loud crash at the door as Houseman collapses under the weight of a tall lamp, two chairs and typewriter he was trying to carry. The script he was reading flies out in front of him.

WELLES
Jack?
HOUSEMAN
Yes, Orson.
WELLES
Mr. Sanford, this is Mr. Houseman.

Houseman picks up the script and brushes himself down. Sanford nods and tries to keep up as Welles heads to the private office.

WELLES
Is this your private office, Mr. Sanford?
SANFORD
My little, uh, private sanctum is at your disposal. But --
WELLES
Glad to hear that.
SANFORD
But I don’t understand --
WELLES
Mr. Sanford, I’m going to live right here in your office as long as I have to.

Houseman, Cotten and the Driver keep interrupting the conversation between Welles and Sanford as they carry more furniture into the office.

SANFORD
Live here -- Mr. Welles -- we’re a studio. We’re practically closed for twelve hours a day.
WELLES
Mr. Sanford, that’s one of the things that’s going to have to change around here. There’s twenty-four hours in a day.
SANFORD
Mr. Welles, Mr. Welles, it’s impossible, we --

 

INT. 1940 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIO - PRIVATE OFFICE - NIGHT

Welles is in shirt sleeves, pouring himself a single-malt scotch. He’s whirring film through an upright Moviola.

A frazzled Sanford looks on. There’s a crucifix leaning against a wall. A model of Kurtz’s jungle cabin from the abandoned “Heart of Darkness” project. Six sharp blades wedged into the wall as part of a knife throwing act. Heaps of film scripts all over the floor, desks, chairs, any flat surface.

Illustrated storyboard frames are pinned to the wall. Cotten walks in clutching a worn film script turned to page thirty-two, shaking his head.

COTTEN
That’s what I mean. I’m no good as the journalist.
WELLES
You certainly aren’t. You’re playing Jedediah Leland.
COTTEN
Are you still drinking?
WELLES
I’m still thirsty.

Cotten takes a seat. Welles stops the film and points out a shot on the tiny, dim screen.

WELLES
Now look, Mr. Sanford. Here’s another shot with a ceiling.

Welles rattles the films forward then stops it again.

WELLES
And another. Why can’t I make a picture with ceilings.

Sanford looks flustered.

SANFORD
Because it’s not how we’re running a studio --
WELLES
Tommy!!
SANFORD
-- we’re not one of those damn independents.

TOMMY JOSEPH, 35, a bartender in Chasen’s uniform steps in with a fresh bottle of Welles’ favorite scotch. Move to reveal Houseman hunched over a desk, scribbling notes on a script.

WELLES
I’m absolutely dying of thirst.

Welles glances down at the Moviola screen.

WELLES
Look, Mr. Sanford, here is a timber roof. Here is a tin roof. Here is a plaster roof.
SANFORD
Expense, expense, expense.

Welles reaches behind Sanford’s ear, rubs his fingers together and pulls out silver dollar.

WELLES
(beaming)
It’s only money, Mr. Sanford
SANFORD
It’s technically too difficult.
TOLAND (O.C.)
No it’s not.

Everyone looks around. GREGG TOLAND has just walked in. Sanford almost swallows his tongue.

TOLAND
I can shoot all the ceilings you want, Mr. Welles.

Welles reaches out his hand. They shake firmly.

WELLES
You’re Gregg Toland, aren’t you?
TOLAND
None other.
WELLES
Why in God’s name would you want to work with me?
TOLAND
I want to work with somebody’s who never made a movie before.

Welles gives him a funny look.

TOLAND
You don’t know what you can’t do.
WELLES
I don’t know the first thing about a camera.
TOLAND
I’ll teach you everything you need to know tomorrow. We can start with some tests.
SANFORD
But we have a studio cameraman.

Welles smiles at Toland.

WELLES
Fire him!
SANFORD
I can’t see the function of a respectable --

Houseman looks on, smiling.

WELLES
Thank you for understanding. Thank you so much, Mr. Sanford, and, er, goodbye.
SANFORD
Goodbye!?

Sanford leaves the office.

 

EXT. 1940 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIO - CONTINUOUS

Sanford, slumps out the front entrance into the lonely Los Angeles night. Past the giant illustrated billboard posters plastered on the wall on corner of Gower Street and Melrose Avenue. The posters advertise RKO’s latest releases. “Kitty Foyle,” “My Favorite Wife, “Stranger on the Third Floor,” “Too Many Girls,” “Reno.”

Light spills out of Welles’ private office window on the top floor.

Dissolve.

 

EXT. 1940 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIO - AFTERNOON

A few months later the illustrated billboard posters have been replaced to promote new films like “Dance Girl Dance” and “Married and in Love.” WORKMEN in overalls are papering up a new poster for “Vigil in the Night.”

Dissolve.

 

EXT. 1940 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIO - EVENING

Some months later there are new illustrated billboard posters for new films like “Dreaming Out Loud” and “Curtain Call.” Two cars drive by.

Dissolve.

 

EXT. 1940 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIO - MORNING

Months later those illustrated billboard posters have been replaced with new films like “That Certain Something,” “They Knew What They Wanted,” “I’m Still Alive.”

The gates open. Cotten, Welles and Houseman amble out into the day. They’ve been shooting all night. Cotten and Welles are in costume. Welles is scrawling notes on a scrap of paper. Cotten is rubbing his eyes. Houseman yawns.

RKO STUDIO WORKERS are arriving for the day. Tommy steps in with a tray of martinis. The men take one each, and clink to celebrate. Welles downs his and puts the empty glass back on the tray.

HOUSEMAN
Thirty-three days late but we did it.

Cotten raises his glass to the passing workers. They all looked startled and a little shocked. Two passing secretaries Cotten met on the first day start giggling.

WELLES
Tired?
COTTEN
A tough day.
WELLES
A wasted day.
HOUSEMAN
Wasted! You did forty-four takes on the last shot!
WELLES
I changed the angles a little, Jack. That’s not enough. No, there something I’ve got to get into this film besides deep focus and some camera tricks.

Welles looks at the sun rising, splaying into the city.

WELLES
I’ve got to make “Citizen Kane” as important as the sun.

Houseman rolls his eyes. Cotten smiles.

COTTEN
What are you going to do, Orson?
WELLES
I’m going to recut the trailer. Don’t smile, Jo.

Welles scribbles on the paper.

WELLES
Got it all written out. I’m going to open on a boom mic, swinging in out of the shadows to capture my voice. Introduce the actors, introduce the film.

Welles reads what his written in his rich, luscious voice. There is a smile in the words.

WELLES
(announces)
“Citizen Kane” is a modern, American story about man called Kane, Charles Foster Kane. I don’t know how to tell you about him, there’s so many things to say. I’ll turn you over instead to the characters in the picture and you’ll see they feel very strongly on the subject.
COTTEN
Can I have that, Orson.
WELLES
I’m going to record it.

Welles turns and shouts into the grounds of the studio.

WELLES
Al!!

Third Assistant Director ALBERT EBAN, 30, hurries over. He too has been working all night. He is rubbing his eyes, dog tired but happy.

AL
Yes, Mr. Welles.

Welles hands him the scrap of paper.

WELLES
Here’s a new script for the trailer, Al.
AL
The trailer we already finished, Mr. Welles?
WELLES
That’s right, Al. That means we going to have to remake again, doesn’t it, Al?

Al kind of smiles.

AL
Yes.
WELLES
You better go and tell them.
AL
All right
COTTEN
Al, when you’re through with that, I’d like to have it back.

Al leaves. Cotten turns to Welles.

COTTEN
I’d like to keep that particular piece of paper myself. I have a hunch it might turn out to be something pretty important.

Welles smiles, shakes his head and wanders back into the studio grounds.

More workers file past.

Dissolve.

 

EXT. 1941 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIO - DAY

It’s autumn. All the illustrated billboard posters have been replaced with giant posters for “Citizen Kane” featuring Welles as a strident young Kane atop key scenes from the film.

All the people outside the studio have disappeared.

Dissolve.

 

EXT. 1941 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIO - NIGHT

It’s winter. All the illustrated “Citizen Kane” billboard posters have been replaced with posters for new films like “Suspicion,” “Who’s a Dummy?” “Ball of Fire,” “Lady Scarface,” “The Gay Falcon.”

Workmen in overalls are papering over the last “Citizen Kane” poster with a poster for a B-picture titled “Look Who’s Laughing.”

 

EXT. 1941 - HOLLYWOOD - INQUIRER DINER - DAY

Welles and Cotten are reflected in the plate glass window of the diner. The name is painted in gold Gothic letters on the glass.

On the other side of the glass JACK MOSS, 35, and LLOYD WRIGHT, 37, are seated at a table, slurping down bowls of chile. Both fleshy, sweaty men. They look like thieves in suits. They’re devouring their meal as if it’s their last. There are food stains on Moss’s shirt.

Welles holds a pipe, a scarf is swathed around his neck. Cotten looks on, amused as always.

COTTEN
Which one’s the lawyer again?

Welles points to the man on the right.

WELLES
Lloyd Wright.
COTTEN
Other fellow’s Jack Moss?

Move in to the men chewing away. Moss picks up his bowl and pours whatever’s left down his throat.

WELLES (O.C.)
He’s a magician, you know. Gary Cooper’s manager too. I’m going to convince him to become my business manager, my general factotum.
COTTEN (O.C.)
And Houseman?
WELLES (O.C.)
Houseman doesn’t understand Hollywood. All Moss understands is the small print on a contract. He’s a fine fellow.
COTTEN (O.C.)
He’s certainly a hungry fellow.

Dissolve.

 

INT. 1942 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIOS - SOUNDSTAGE - NIGHT

Moss and Wright are slurping away on bowls of soup, dressed in tuxedos. Sounds of much merriment surround them. They put down their bowls and smile, slyly.

Flash of light as STILLS PHOTOGRAPHER snaps the two men. Move back to reveal they are seated at an incredibly long dinner table spanning much of the decaying set of the once magnificent Amberson’s mansion. Cast are in fine evening wear and crew are celebrating the end of shooting. The table is overflowing with food and drink. Silver punch bowls with silver cradles.

Welles strides in front of them, beaming.

WELLES
Welcome, gentlemen, to the wrap party of our second Mercury motion picture.

Welles smirks at the photographer.

WELLES
Make an extra print of that and send it to the Hollywood Reporter will you.

Much laughter. More drinking. A band is playing a soft waltz in the background. Joseph Cotten and DOLORES COSTELLO, 38, are seated together at one end of the table. Very close. They look resplendent as Eugene and Isabel. They look in love.

WELLES
It will make you happy to learn we only went a little over schedule, a touch over budget in the making of this magnificent production.

More laughter and clapping and whooping. Publicist HERBERT DRAKE, 33, cups his hand over his mouth and yells out from the other end of the table

DRAKE
This daring dramatic sensation from Hollywood’s amazing new hit-maker!!

More laughter, even from Welles.

WELLES
Right. Having welcomed you, forgive my rudeness in taking leave of you. I’m going abroad next week to shoot another picture. I promised our president I’d leave for Latin America when I could. I now realize that I can.
DRAKE
Say, Orson, as long as you’re promising, there’s lots of pictures you haven’t announced yet.
WELLES
You can’t blame me, Mr. Drake. They’ve been writing stories for two-thousands of years, and I’ve only been shooting them for two.
DRAKE
Promise me, Orson.

Welles bows.

WELLES
I promise you, Mr Drake.
DRAKE
Thank you.
WELLES
Mr. Drake?
DRAKE
Yes?
WELLES
You don’t expect me to keep that promise, do you?

Cast and crew exploded into laughter. Drake shakes his head.

WELLES
(shouts)
Now ladies and gentlemen, your complete attention, if you please!

Welles slips two fingers between his lips and let’s out a shrill whistle. Waiters rush out of the way. The band stands and strikes up the opening of “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo” in 2/4 Samba time. All brass and booming drums. Lively, rolling rhythm.

Welles leans over to Cotten and shouts.

WELLES
Are you coming to Brazil with me, or are you not?

Welles whistles again and a regiment of beautiful SAMBA SHOWGIRLS shimmer out, feathered headdresses and bejeweled bikinis. Flesh glistening.

Welles salutes them. Cast and crew leap to their feet, clapping wildly.

DRAKE
Oh, mama, here they come.

Cast and crew burst out cheering, whistling. Welles leans over to Joseph again.

WELLES
I said, are you coming with me to Brazil, or are you not?
COTTEN
You don’t want me in Brazil.
WELLES
Why you long-faced, overdressed ... Republican.
COTTEN
I am not overdressed.

Cast and crew are standing with glasses raised. Art Director MARK-LEE KIRK, 43, cries out.

KIRK
Let’s have a song about Orson.

Move down the partying cast and crew. Sound recordists BAILEY FESSLER, 41, and JAMES GRAHAM, 35, look confused.

FESSLER
Is there a song about Orson?
GRAHAM
Is there a song about you, Mr. Welles.

Welles tries to brush them off.

WELLES
You buy a bag of popcorn in this town and they write a song about you.

Welles falls in with the cast and crew, enjoying himself immensely. Samba Showgirls strut into formation. More cheering, hollering.

An OLD VAUDVILLE SINGER in a candy striped jacket razzle dazzles in. He tips his cane hat to Welles.

SINGER
Good evening, Mr. Welles.

Singer leads the Showgirls into song. The sly Samba version of “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo” with new lyrics tailor-made to embarrass Welles.

SINGER
(singing)
I’ve just got here, through some mistress, from the sunny George Schaefer / I to RKO-O went, just to raise my winter spend / Dame Rockefeller smiled upon me as she’d never done before / And I’ve now such lots of money, I’ll relent / Yes, I’ve now such lots of money, I’ll relent

Showgirls break out the chorus.

SHOWGIRLS
(singing)
As I turn the corner with Charles Koerner / Like an independent heir / You can hear the girls declare / “He must be a Zillionaire”

Showgirls leap on Welles and drag him up to dance with them. They lean into the Cast and Crew and continue belting out the chorus.

SHOWGIRLS
You can hear them sigh and wish to try / You can see them kink the other eye / At the man who broke the bank at RKO-O

Showgirls start to swing Orson around as they sing on. Cotten looks a little drunk, a little sad.

Cast and Crew are loving it. Welles tries to tap out the song. Dolores Costello takes Cotten’s hand in hers.

COSTELLO
Isn’t it wonderful? Such a party.

Cotten isn’t so sure.

COSTELLO
What’s the matter?

Welles tries to smooch one of the Showgirls. She shoos him away. More laughter. More singing.

Cotten looks over at Moss and Wright, who are whispering to each other.

Welles takes off his jacket and swings it wildly over his head. Cotten leans into Costello.

COTTEN
These men who are now with Welles were with Gary Cooper until yesterday ...

Welles hurls his jacket at Cotten.

WELLES
Jo, catch.

He does. More yelling. More rousing.

COTTEN
These men who were with Cooper, weren’t they just as devoted to Cooper as they are now to Orson?
COSTELLO
They’re just like anybody, Jo. They’ve got work to do, they do it.

Welles spins around with the Showgirls.

COTTEN
Do they believe in what Orson believes?
COSTELLO
I doubt it. But you know Orson, he’ll have them changed to his way of thinking in a week.

Cotten isn’t so sure.

COTTEN
Of course, there’s always the chance they’ll change Orson. Without him knowing it.

A grinning Welles, arms outstretched and surrounded by Showgirls.

 

INT. 1942 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIOS - MERCURY OFFICES - DAY

OFFICE BOY, 19, racing through the offices, huge telegram in hand. People are busy at work.

OFFICE BOY
Mr. Moss! I got another cable from Mr. Welles! Mr. Moss! Mr. Moss!

Jack Moss is in Welles’ office, his feet up on Welles’ desk. He waves in the Office Boy.

 

INT. 1942 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIOS - MERCURY OFFICES - WELLES’ OFFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Joseph Cotten sits on the other side of the desk, looking forlorn. There’s a typed letter in front of him.

MOSS
It’s already written, just sign it.

Office Boy steps in.

OFFICE BOY
I got a cable here from Mr. Welles!

Moss reaches out his hand, snaps his fingers. Office Boy hands him the thirty page telegram. Moss dumps it in the wastebasket without looking at it. Office Boy backs out.

MOSS
It’s too late. RKO are already recutting Ambersons. They’re not going to be sending another dime down to Welles in Brazil. He’s gone fuck crazy down there. He doesn’t want to come back. He’s left everyone high and dry.
COTTEN
You’re supposed to be his manager.
MOSS
You can’t manage the unmanageable. He’s out of control down there. He’s not even shooting a picture any more. He’s just fucking chorus girls morning, noon and night. Why would he want to come back to this shit hole? Schaefer’s no longer running the studio. Ross Hasting’s on my ass over contracts every day.
COTTEN
Schaefer’s no longer running the studio?
MOSS
You heard it here first.

Moss uncaps a cheap pen and passes it to Cotten.

 

INT. 1943 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIOS - MERCURY OFFICES - DAY

Most of the desks are empty. There’s one SECRETARY typing away. Cotten is amusing himself making patterns with a piece of looped string between the palms of his hands. Herbert Drake is polishing a small silver trophy with the cuff of his shirt. The trophy is inscribed with Welles’ welcome home message.

DRAKE
(reads it to himself)
‘Welcome home, Orsie, from all the employees of Mercury Productions.’

Office Boy is at the window.

OFFICE BOY
Here he comes!

Moss steps out of Welles’ office. Cotten looks up.

Welles rushes in wearing a white suit, white hands.

In a terrible hurry. Doesn’t even look at Moss.

COTTEN
You got a mustache.
WELLES
I’ve got a mustache? I know.

Welles reaches into his pocket and pulls out a rumpled note. Looks at Drake.

WELLES
Ah, Drake, I’ve been away so long I don’t know your routine. I, uh --

He hands Drake the note. Takes it back. Hands it back again.

WELLES
I’ve got a little social engagement. A small announcement for the trade papers.

He tries to turn and flee. Drake stops him with the trophy.

DRAKE
Orson, Orson, I’ve got a little something on behalf of all the employees at Mercury --
WELLES
Drake, thank you very much everybody, I -- uh, I --

He turns to run away. Stops and retrieves the trophy and leaves.

WELLES
I can’t accept it now. Goodbye.
SECRETARY
Gosh, he was in an awful hurry.

Office Boy rushes over to the window. A limousine is parked outside.

OFFICE BOY
Hey! Hey, looky out here.

Cotten and Secretary rush to the window. Drake is quickly reading the note.

DRAKE
Jo!
COTTEN
Yes, Herbert?
DRAKE
This announcement! ‘Mr. Harry Cohn proudly announces the engagement of Miss Rita Hayworth to Hollywood film impresario Orson Welles.’

Moss is shocked, Cotten is all smiles.

The back door of the limousine swings open and RITA HAYWORTH leans out, kisses Welles with all her heart. Welles looks back everyone at the window.

Office Boy whistles appreciatively.

OFFICE BOY
Rita Hayworth!

Welles waves. Cotten waves back.

OFFICE BOY
What I wouldn’t give to be in his shoes!

Everyone laughs, everyone waves

 

INT. 1985 - MALIBU - HOUSEMAN’S HOME - STUDY - DAY

Houseman is seated in front of the poster at his desk, sipping tea, remembering.

WILLIAMS
It didn’t end well, did it?

Houseman puts down the tea cup.

HOUSEMAN
It ended. There was Paola. That ended too.

Houseman gets up and walks to a window, looks out.

HOUSEMAN
You know, Mr. Williams, I was thinking about the last words you’re trying to discover ...
WILLIAMS
Yes.

Houseman thinks for a moment.

HOUSEMAN
Perhaps they weren’t about something he lost. Perhaps it was something he found. It’s rare in this life to be touched by real genius. Orson Welles was the real thing - the only real genius I’d ever known. You ought to see Jo Cotten.

Houseman nods.

HOUSEMAN
They were dear friends, although they didn’t always see eye to eye.

Houseman smiles.

HOUSEMAN
Orson was the hardest worker I ever knew. He wouldn’t stop, always wanting to make it better. He could work miracles. It wasn’t simply vanity and ambition.

Move back.

HOUSEMAN
Of course, he was a monstrous egoist, incapable of grasping anything but his own terms. But where would cinema be without him?

Sorrow.

HOUSEMAN
I wish I knew where Mr. Cotten was. Perhaps he’s dead.
WILLIAMS
I case you’d like to know, Mr. Houseman, he’s at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs.
HOUSEMAN
Well, you don’t say. I had no --
WILLIAMS
He’s recovering from a stroke.

Houseman looks down.

HOUSEMAN
You know, Orson was afraid to sleep, always driven to do more. He was afraid to stop.
WILLIAMS
Afraid of death?

Houseman smiles.

HOUSEMAN
I find it easier to deny its existence.

 

EXT. 1985 - PALM SPRINGS - EISENHOWER MEDICAL CENTER - POND VERANDA - DAY

Williams leans back in the shadows. Cotten, wrapped in a blanket, is in a wheelchair by the side of the shallow pond. He is wearing sunglasses, talking to Williams. His voice is frail, like it’s almost run out.

COTTEN
I can remember absolutely everything, young man.

Other STOKE PATIENTS are in wheelchairs in the backgrounds, sunning themselves. Along with SEVERAL NURSES and PHYSICAL THERAPISTS.

COTTEN
That’s my curse. That’s one of the greatest curses ever inflicted on the human race - memory. I was his oldest friends, and as far as I was concerned, he behaved like a swine.

Move in.

COTTEN
Not that Orson was ever brutal. He just did brutal things.

Cotten smiles.

COTTEN
Maybe I wasn’t his friend. But if I wasn’t, he never had one.

He chortles, drags off his sunglasses.

COTTEN
Maybe I was what you nowadays call a chump.
WILLIAMS
You were going to say something about his dying --

Cotten leans in.

COTTEN
Uh, you don’t happen to have a cigarette, do you? I’ve got a young physician who thinks I’m going to give up smoking.
WILLIAMS
I don’t smoke.

Cotten leans back, laughing to himself.

COTTEN
I changed the subject, didn’t I? What a disagreeable old man I have become. You’re a reporter. You want to know what I think about Orson Welles.

Cotten considers for a moment.

COTTEN
Well, uh, I suppose he had some private sort of greatness, but he kept it to himself.

He shakes his head.

COTTEN
He never gave himself away. He never gave anything away. He just, uh, left you a tip. Hmmm, huh.

He smiles at his line.

COTTEN
He had a generous mind. I don’t suppose anybody ever had so many opinions.

He lived on power and excitement. But he never believed in anything except Orson Welles. He never had a conviction except Orson Welles and his life.

Cotten nods.

COTTEN
I suppose he died without one. That must have been pretty unpleasant.

He coughs.

COTTEN
Of course, a lot of us depart without having any special convictions about death, but we do know what we’re leaving. We do believe in something.

He looks sharply at Williams.

COTTEN
Are you absolutely sure you haven’t got a cigarette?
WILLIAMS
Sorry, Mr. Cotten.
COTTEN
Never mind.
WILLIAMS
Mr. Cotten, what do you think his dying words would have been?

Cotten looks away.

COTTEN
His Rosebud? Hmmm, you know his first wife married Marion Davies’ cousin?

Williams looks confused.

COTTEN
I don’t think his last words would have been anything to do with “Citizen Kane.” Orson wasn’t really one for nostalgia.

He never liked living in the past. He was always onto the next thing.

Cotten leans back.

COTTEN
Anything else? I can tell you about Rita Hayworth. I acted with her. I was very slim. Uh, we were talking about the second Mrs. Welles and --
WILLIAMS
What was she like?
COTTEN
A very beautiful girl, very beautiful.

He clears his thoughts.

COTTEN
Well, after the first couple of months, she and Orson didn’t see much of each other, except at breakfast.

Dissolve away.

COTTEN
It was a marriage, just like any other marriage.

 

INT. 1943 - BRENTWOOD - WELLES HAYWORTH HOME - BREAKFAST ROOM - DAWN

RITA HAYWORTH, 25 dressed in an evening gown is sitting down to breakfast. She looks like a million dollars. Welles is in an expensive tuxedo. He places her breakfast down for her. They look like the couple from Renoir’s “La loge” (The Theater Box) painting. He kisses her on the forehead.

WELLES
You’re beautiful.

Hayworth blushes.

WELLES
Yes, you are. You’re very, very beautiful. Extremely beautiful.
HAYWORTH
I’ve never been to the opera before.
WELLES
We enjoyed ourselves. Didn’t we?
HAYWORTH
Darling, I don’t see why you have to go straight off to the studio?
WELLES
You shouldn’t have married a genius. They’re worse than newspapermen. I can’t live without you.
HAYWORTH
Oh, Orsie, even geniuses have to sleep.

He grins and kisses her again.

 

INT. 1944 - BRENTWOOD - WELLES HAYWORTH HOME - BREAKFAST ROOM - EARLY MORNING

Rita Hayworth is dressed in a nightgown, tired. Welles is in a suit, and open shirt, reading a script. Sounds of a newborn baby crying in another room.

HAYWORTH
Orson, do you know how long you kept me waiting last night while you went to the studio for ten minutes? What do you do at the studio in the middle of the night?
WELLES
Rita, my love, your only correspondent is the movie camera.

Hayworth rolls her eyes.

HAYWORTH
Then why do you have to keep writing the columns and the radio plays and the rest of it? All the political stuff. No one appreciates it.
WELLES
Well, I can assure you some people in Washington are grateful.
HAYWORTH
They’re just politicians. They’re not real people.

Welles looks up.

WELLES
Someone has to keep them honest.

 

INT. 1945 - BRENTWOOD - WELLES HAYWORTH HOME - BREAKFAST ROOM - MORNING

Rita Hayworth is in a dressing gown. Welles is scribbling notes on a legal pad, concentrating.

HAYWORTH
Sometimes I think I’d prefer a rival of flesh and blood.

Welles doesn’t look up.

WELLES
Oh, I don’t spend that much time at the studio.
HAYWORTH
It isn’t just the time. It’s what you say, attacking Columbia!
WELLES
You mean Uncle Sammy.
HAYWORTH
I mean the president of Columbia Pictures.
WELLES
He’s still Uncle Sammy, he’s still a mean-spirited little dictator running Columbia like a private police state. This whole booking scandal --
HAYWORTH
He happens to be the president, Orson, not you.
WELLES
That’s a mistake that will be corrected one of these days.

 

INT. 1946 - BRENTWOOD - WELLES HAYWORTH HOME - BREAKFAST ROOM - LATE MORNING

Rita Hayworth is in a dress. Welles is sketching some storyboards in a pad, ruminating.

HAYWORTH
Your Mr. Truman sent Rebecca the most incredible atrocity yesterday. I simply can’t have it in the nursery.
WELLES
Mr. Truman might pay a visit to the nursery.
HAYWORTH
Does he have to?
WELLES
Yes.

 

INT. 1947 - BRENTWOOD - WELLES HAYWORTH HOME - BREAKFAST ROOM - DAY

Rita Hayworth is dressed in jeans and a shirt, eating a late breakfast by herself.

 

EXT. 1985 - PALM SPRINGS - EISENHOWER MEDICAL CENTER - POND VERANDA - DAY

Williams is still in the shadows. Cotten looks out over the water.

WILLIAMS
Wasn’t he ever in love with her?
COTTEN
He married for love.

He thinks for a moment.

COTTEN
Love, that’s why he did everything. That’s why he wanted to get into politics. It seems we weren’t enough.

He wanted all the voters to love him too. All he really wanted out of life was love.

WILLIAMS
How about that affair of his?
COTTEN
Lili St. Cyr?

Leland laughs to himself.

COTTEN
You know what Orson called her? The day after he met her, he told me about her.

Williams shakes his head.

COTTEN
He said she was a voyeur’s delight. I guess he couldn’t help it. She must have had something for him.

Leland remembers.

COTTEN
Well, that first night, according to Orson, all she had was her dry cleaning.

 

EXT. 1944 - DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - CORNER DRY CLEANERS - NIGHT

The street is wet after recent rain. Cars drive by. Sounds of splashing once, twice.

LILI ST. CYR, 26, shimmers out of the dry cleaners in a cheap, tight-fitting dress. She is carrying a freshly pressed dress on a hanger. Tall, busty, highly painted blonde. Ravishing even with all her clothes on.

She only walks a few steps before she starts giggling.

She scurries past Welles standing at the curb, drenched in mud.

WELLES
What are you laughing at?

Welles takes out a white handkerchief. Tries to wipe off the mud from his trousers.

Lili giggles again.

LILI
You’ve got dirt on your face.
WELLES
It’s not dirt, it’s mud.
LILI
Would you like some hot water? I live right here.
WELLES
What’s that?
LILI
Are you deaf?
WELLES
No.
LILI
I said, if you want some hot water, I could get you some, hot water ...

Lili starts off. Welles follows her.

She steps up to a small apartment block, opens the front door and walks in. So does Welles.

 

INT. 1944 - DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - APARTMENT BLOCK - HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS

From the hallway the door to Lili’s room is open.

It’s not a very classy room, but what you’d expect in 1944, for $25 a week including breakfast. There’s a bed, couple of chairs, chiffonier, and handful of books.

Orson is wiping down the front of his trousers with a damp cloth.

Lili steps up to the door and closes it gently.

 

INT. 1944 - DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - APARTMENT BLOCK - LILI’S ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Lili looks coy. Welles smiles at her.

WELLES
Why don’t you try laughing at me again?
LILI
Oh, you don’t want me to laugh at you again.
WELLES
Yes, I do. I happen to like the sound of your laughter.

Lili giggles.

WELLES
That’s it. Should I tell you a joke? How about a magic trick?

Welles snaps his fingers behind her ear and retrieves a silver dollar. Lili laughs.

LILI
You’re not a professional magician are you?
WELLES
No, not professional.
LILI
Oh, I was joking.
WELLES
You know who I am, don’t you?
LILI
Everybody in this town knows who you are.
WELLES
Everybody?

Lili nods.

LILI
I know who you are and I don’t know anybody.
WELLES
I know too many people.

Welles smiles.

WELLES
I guess we’re both lonely. Do you know what I was going to do before I ruined my best Sunday clothes.
LILI
Oh, I bet they’re not your best Sunday clothes. I bet you’ve got lots of clothes.
WELLES
I was just joking. I was on my way to a theater to see a play.

Lili is a little bewildered.

WELLES
There’s not many theaters in this town. Tonight I was going to go to one. You know, a sort of sentimental journey.

Welles is smitten.

WELLES
I make films. What do you do?
LILI
Me?
WELLES
How old did you say you were?
LILI
I didn’t say.
WELLES
I didn’t think so. I’d have remembered.

They laugh.

WELLES
How old?
LILI
Pretty old.
WELLES
Out with it?
LILI
Twenty-six. In June.
WELLES
That’s a ripe old age. What do you do?
LILI
Why I work at The Follies. I’m a performer --
WELLES
A stripper --
LILI
A striptease performer, if you will.
WELLES
Is that what you want to do?
LILI
No, I wanted to be an actress, I guess. Well, I didn’t. My mother did.
WELLES
What happened to the acting?
LILI
Well, mother always thought -- she always talked about the theater, the classics, imagine. But my voice isn’t that kind. It’s just -- well, you know what mothers are like.
WELLES
Yes, I know. Have you got any Shakespeare?
LILI
Shakespeare?

Kane nods.

LILI
There’s a library in the parlor.
WELLES
Would you play some lines for me.
LILI
Oh, you wouldn’t want to see me act.
WELLES
Oh yes, I would.

 

INT. 1944 - DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - APARTMENT BLOCK - PARLOR -CONTINUOUS

Welles is in a lounge chair, almost swooning. Lili holds open an old hardcover book, reciting lines. It’s Shakespeare’s “Romeo And Juliet”. She’s self-conscious. Her voice trembles.

LILI
Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow’d night / Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die / Take him and cut him out in little stars / And he will make the face of heaven so fine / That all the world will be in love with night / And pay no worship to the garish sun!

Dissolve

 

INT. 1945 - WEST HOLLYWOOD - GARDEN OF ALLAH - VILLA - PARLOR - NIGHT

Far more up market than Lili’s apartment. Welles is in a leather armchair, enraptured. Lili is made up to the nines, overacting terribly as she plays Juliet.

LILI
O, break, my heart! Poor bankrupt, break at once! / To prison, eyes, ne’er look on liberty! / Vile earth, to earth resign; end motion here; / And thou and Romeo press one heavy bier!

She finishes, catching her breath. Welles claps proudly.

 

INT. 1946 - MADISON - SILVER BAR - DAY

Cotten is buying drinks at the bar. A good many DRINKERS are throwing them back.

COTTEN
Only one man can rid the politics of the great state of Wisconsin of the rise of Evil Joe McCarthy.
DRINKER
Yay!

The Drinkers shoosh him. Move into the Cotten, loudly proclaiming.

COTTEN
I am speaking of Orson Welles, the fighting liberal, the friend of the workingman, the next senator of this state, who will enter upon this campaign --

Cotten seems a little unsteady on his feet.

 

EXT. 1946 - MADISON AIRPORT - TARMAC - DC-3 - MORNING

Burst of light as a PRESS PHOTOGRAPHER fires off his flash. Welles is holding an impromptu press conference on the polished aluminum stairs pressed up against the open door of an American Airlines DC-3. He’s a few steps up, surrounded by PRESS PHOTOGRAPHERS and REPORTERS.

WELLES
-- with one purpose only -- to point out and make public the downright dishonesty, the downright villainy of Evil Joe McCarthy’s political machine.

Welles shakes his head in disgust. Spits out the words.

WELLES
He is not fit to run for the office of Senate. He is nothing but a tin-pot tyrant, intent on smearing anything and everything in his way to the ultimate office.
YOUNG REPORTER
But McCarthy’s a decorated soldier.
WELLES
He is nothing but a tail gunner from hell. Nothing but a cheap, petty war monger. A demented demagogue.
OLDER REPORTER
And you, Mr. Welles?

Welles smiles.

WELLES
Gentlemen, I am no man of war. I am sick of the stench of battle, the endless bleeding, the immeasurable pain. I do not want to tear men apart. I want to bring war to an end. I want to build a free world.
REPORTER
You’re sounding awfully like a communist?
WELLES
I am an American. I’ll always be an American.

Welles voice carries across the tarmac.

WELLES
My political affiliations are with the ordinary, faithful American. The hard working American who yearns for a better America. Not the tyranny of fear and despair.
REPORTER
McCarthy reckons actors shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near politics.
WELLES
And I reckon McCarthy shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near women and children.

Press Photographers and Reporters share a laugh.

WELLES
If I decide to run against him, he won’t stand a chance.

Across the tarmac a heavyset man is about to board a smaller, faster plane. He is at the top of the stairs. This is JOE MCCARTHY, 37. He looks down towards Welles

WELLES
For a man of peace, I’m going to slaughter him.

More laughs from the Press Photographers and Reporters. McCarthy takes off his hat and steps aboard. Door shuts and seals behind him as the plane taxis for takeoff.

REPORTER
When will you decide?

Press Photographer screws in a fresh flash bulb into his camera.

WELLES
When I get back to Los Angeles.
REPORTER
When will that be?
WELLES
As soon as you let me get on this plane.

Welles chuckles. Press Photographer snaps another blinding shot.

 

EXT. 1946 - LOS ANGELES AIRPORT TARMAC – AFTERNOON

American Airlines DC-3 lands and steers towards a white art deco hangar. Other planes are dotted about.

Propellers on the polished aluminum aircraft back spin and slow as it pulls forward. Polished aluminum stairs are rolled across the warm bitumen towards the rear door.

Gleaming maroon 1942 Lincoln Continental swerves across the tarmac towards the plane. A sleek, elegant limousine driven by SHORTY CHIRELLO, 50, a hunchback dwarf in full chauffeur uniform. Chirello clambers out of the car, opens the rear passenger door and stands at attention.

Passenger door on the plane opens and Welles steps out, breathes in the California sun. Dances down the stairs as a taxi sweeps onto the tarmac. The back door opens and Rita Hayworth slips out.

Welles waves at her, beaming. A NURSE holding their infant daughter REBECCA steps out of the taxi. Hayworth motions them to Chirello with a nod. They climb into the back seat of the limousine and Chirello drives off.

Hayworth waits by the taxi, arms folded, cold.

She’s clutching a torn envelop with a note inside.

Welles looks confused as he approaches.

WELLES
Why, I thought we --
HAYWORTH
I’m sending Rebecca home in the car, Orson.

Welles watches the limousine drive off.

WELLES
Why did you send our daughter home in the car, Rita?

Hayworth slips into the backseat of the taxi.

WELLES
What are you doing in the taxi?
HAYWORTH
There’s someone I want you to call on with me, Orson.

Welles looks worried.

WELLES
What’s this all about, Rita?
HAYWORTH
Hopefully nothing at all.
WELLES
Where are you going?
HAYWORTH
Garden of Allah. If you like, you can come with me.

Welles’ reaction indicates that the address definitely means something to him.

He swallows and steps into the back of the taxi. Slams the door shut.

Taxi drives off.

 

INT. 1946 - WEST HOLLYWOOD - GARDEN OF ALLAH - VILLA - PARLOR - EVENING

Hayworth and Welles are at the front door. Kane is pressing the bell.

WELLES
I had no idea you had this flair for melodrama, Rita.

The door is opened by a BLACK MAID, who recognizes Welles.

MAID
Come right in, Mr. Welles.

They enter, Hayworth first.

Lili St. Cyr stands at the far end of the living room, hesitant.

LILI
Orsie?

Rita holds her composure.

LILI
He forced me to send your wife the letter. I didn’t want to. He’s been saying the most terrible --

Joe McCarthy strides out of the kitchen. A big, heavyset man, looking older than his years. Wearing a drab overcoat. He takes off his hat, nods sightly towards Hayworth.

MCCARTHY
Mrs. Welles, I don’t suppose anybody would introduce us. I’m Joe McCarthy.
HAYWORTH
My name is Rita Hayworth.

Hayworth steps into the room.

MCCARTHY
I made Miss St. Cyr send you the note, Miss Hayworth. She didn’t want to at first, but she did it.
LILI
Orsie, the things he said to me, he threatened me.

Welles moves towards McCarthy.

MCCARTHY
McCarthy I don’t think I will postpone slaughtering you until I’m elected.

I think I’ll start by snapping your neck.

Two FBI Henchmen step out from the kitchen.

MCCARTHY
You’re not on stage on now, Mr. Welles.
HAYWORTH
Orson, you breaking this man’s neck would hardly explain this...

Hayworth slides the note out of the envelop, starts to read.

HAYWORTH
‘Serious consequences for Mr. Welles, for yourself, and for your daughter.’
LILI
He just wanted to get her to come here.
HAYWORTH
What does it mean? Miss?
LILI
I’m Lili St. Cyr. I know what you think, Mrs. W --
HAYWORTH
What does this note mean, Miss St. Cyr?
MCCARTHY
She don’t know, Miss Hayworth. She just sent it because I made her see it wasn’t smart for her not to send it.
WELLES
In case you don’t know, this gentleman --
MCCARTHY
I’m no gentleman. Your husband’s only trying to be funny calling me one.

McCarthy is tense, full of hatred.

MCCARTHY
I don’t even know what a gentleman is. You see, my idea of a gentleman, is that if I didn’t like the way somebody was doing things, some politician, I’d fight him with everything I had.

McCarthy almost spits.

MCCARTHY
But I wouldn’t slander him in newspapers and magazines. I wouldn’t write no columns about him so his own mother --
WELLES
You’re a cheap, crooked --
MCCARTHY
We’re talking about you.

McCarthy turns to Hayworth.

MCCARTHY
Miss Hayworth, I’m fighting for my life, not just my political life, my life.
LILI
Orsie, he said if you run against him, he’ll tell everybody --
MCCARTHY
That’s what I said. Here’s a chance I’m willing to give him, more of a chance than he’d give me. Unless Mr. Welles makes up his mind that he’s so sick he can’t run against me, every paper will carry the story I’m going to give them.
HAYWORTH
What story?
MCCARTHY
The story about him and Miss St Cyr.
LILI
There isn’t any story.
MCCARTHY
Shut up!

He snarls at Welles.

MCCARTHY
We’ve got evidence that will look bad in the headlines. Do you want me to give you the evidence, Mr. Welles?

McCarthy turns to Hayworth.

MCCARTHY
I’d rather Mr. Welles didn’t go up against me without having to get the story published. Not that I care about him, but I’d be better off.
LILI
But what about --

McCarthy dismisses her with a look.

MCCARTHY
So would you, Miss Hayworth.
LILI
Well, what about me?

Lili is lost.

LILI
Orsie, he said my name would be dragged through the mud, that everywhere I went from now on --
HAYWORTH
There seems to be only one decision you can make, Orson. I’d say it had been made for you.
WELLES
You can’t tell me the voters of --
HAYWORTH
I’m not interested in any voters right now. I’m interested in our daughter.
LILI
Orsie, if they publish this story, it will be all --
HAYWORTH
They won’t. Good night, Mr. McCarthy.

Hayworth turns to leave. She stops at the door.

HAYWORTH
Are you coming, Orson?

McCarthy looks at him

WELLES
No.

Beat.

WELLES
I’m staying here. I can fight this all alone.
HAYWORTH
Orson, if you don’t listen to reason, it may be --
WELLES
Too late? Too late for what? For you and this public thief to take the love of the people away from me?
LILI
Orsie, you got other things to think about now. Your little girl. You don’t want her --

She looks at him. He starts to work himself into a rage.

WELLES
There’s only one person in the world who’s going to decide what I’m going to do, and that’s me.
HAYWORTH
You decided what you were going to do some time ago, Orson.

Hayworth leaves through the front door. McCarthy looks genuinely surprised.

MCCARTHY
You’re making a bigger fool of yourself than I thought you would, Mr. Welles.
WELLES
I’ve got nothing to talk to you about.
MCCARTHY
You’re licked, why don’t you --
WELLES
Get out! If you want to see me, have the warden write me a letter.
MCCARTHY
For anybody else, this would’ve been a lesson. But you’re going to need more than one lesson, and you’re going to get more than one lesson.

McCarthy dons his hat and leaves through the door, followed by both FBI Henchmen.

WELLES
Don’t worry about me, McCarthy.

Welles screams out after him.

WELLES
Don’t worry about me!

Even louder.

WELLES
I’m Orson Welles!

Welles slams the front door shut. Freeze.

Dissolve.

 

INT. 1946 - LOS ANGELES - LOS ANGELES EXAMINER NEWSPAPER - DAY

Medium shot of the front door of Lili St. Cyr’s villa at the Garden of Alah printed in the newspaper.

NEWSBOY’S VOICE
Extra! Extra!

Move back to reveal the masthead of Walter Winchell’s column with inset head shots of Welles and Lili in love hearts and Hayworth in a broken love heart, and a headline that screams THE GENIUS AND THE STRIPPER

NEWSBOY’S VOICE
Read all about the Orson Welles Scandal! Extra!

There are a lot of exclamation points in the breathless story beneath the headline.

NEWSBOY’S VOICE
Orson Welles Sex Scandal!

 

EXT. 1946 - HOLLYWOOD - MERCY STREET BAR - DAY

Cotten skulks down the street, dejected.

NEWSBOY’S VOICE
Paper?
COTTEN
No, thank you.

Cotten heads into the bar to get drunk.

 

INT. 1946 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIOS - MERCURY OFFICES - NIGHT

Herbert Drake is holding up a press releases.

The headline reads ORSON WELLES ANNOUNCES ELECTION CAMPAIGN AGAINST WISCONSIN TYRANT IN EXCITING RACE TO SENATE!

DRAKE
After all the bad press, I’m afraid we’ve got no choice.

Drake drops the first press release. ASSISTANT points to the second press release.

ASSISTANT
This one?

The headline on the second press release reads ORSON WELLES ANNOUNCES THRILLING MOTION PICTURE BASED ON MURDEROUS SHAKESPEARE CLASSIC!

DRAKE
That one.

 

EXT. 1946 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIOS - MERCURY OFFICES - NIGHT

CLEANERS are sweeping up.

Cotten staggers in. Tosses his campaign button into a trash can, stumbles up the steps and through the front door.

 

INT. 1946 - HOLLYWOOD - RKO STUDIOS - MERCURY OFFICES - NIGHT

TIRED ASSISTANTS gather their coats and leave. Drake picks up his coat too.

Welles comes out of his office, defeated.

DRAKE
Is there anything I --
WELLES
No, thanks, Herb.

He tries to smile.

WELLES
Better go home and get some sleep.
DRAKE
You, too.

Drake leaves.

DRAKE
Good night, Orson.

Kane is all alone. Cotten stumbles in.

WELLES
Hello, Jo.
COTTEN
I’m drunk.
WELLES
Well, if you got drunk to talk to me about Lili, don’t bother. I’m not interested.

Welles gathers his coat.

COTTEN
You couldn’t leave well enough alone, could you?
WELLES
I could have done so much, Jo. I could have done so much for the people.
COTTEN
The people? You talk about the people as though you own them, as though they belong to you.

Cotten can’t mask his disappointment.

COTTEN
Goodness, as long as I can remember, you’ve talked about giving the people their rights, as if you can make them a present of liberty.

Cotten takes a step forward.

COTTEN
Remember the workingman?
WELLES
I’ll get drunk too, Jo, if it will do any good.
COTTEN
It won’t do any good. Besides, you never get drunk.

Cotten smiles awkwardly.

COTTEN
Remember all the theater you made for the workingman.
WELLES
Go on home, Jo.
COTTEN
He’s turned into organized labor. It means your workingman expects something as his right, not as your gift.

Welles turns away.

COTTEN
What are you going to do when your precious underprivileged no longer want what you’re selling? Sail away to a desert island, probably, and lord it over the monkeys.
WELLES
I wouldn’t worry about it too much, Jo.

Welles tries to humor him.

WELLES
There will probably be a few of them there to let me know when I do something wrong.

Cotten smiles.

COTTEN
You may not always be so lucky.
WELLES
You’re not very drunk.
COTTEN
Drunk, what do you care? You don’t care about anything except you.

Welles walks away.

COTTEN
You just want to persuade people you love them so much they ought to love you back, only you want love on your own terms.

Cotten walks up to him.

COTTEN
It’s something to be played your way according to your rules.

The truth hurts.

COTTEN
Orson, I want you to let me work with David Selznick.
WELLES
What?
COTTEN
Well, you said yourself he’s got a keen eye for successful entertainment on the grand sale, uh, scale. I am drunk.

Cotten shakes his head.

COTTEN
I want to sign with Selznick.
WELLES
You’re too valuable here.
COTTEN
Well then, Orson, there’s nothing to do but to ask you to accept my --
WELLES
All right. You can go to Selznick.
COTTEN
Thank you.
WELLES
I guess I better try to get drunk anyway.

Welles snatches an open bottle of scotch and glass, pours away. He tries to make light of it.

WELLES
I warn you, Jo, you’re not going to like working with David O. Selznick. You’ll have to eat in the studio commissary, and God only knows if they’ve ever heard of Lobster Newburg.
COTTEN
Will Monday after next be okay?
WELLES
Any time you say --
COTTEN
Thank you.
WELLES
A toast, Jo, to love on my terms. The only terms anybody ever knows.

Welles nods the glasses to Cotten, then downs the lot.

 

EXT. 1946 - LAS VEGAS - CUPID’S WEDDING CHAPEL - DAY

A white timber chapel between two casinos. It has a large red sign in the shape of a love heart.

Welles and Lili emerge from the front door. She’s wearing a wedding dress and holding a small bouquet of plastic flowers. He’s dressed in a tuxedo, wondering where the press photographers and reporters are.

LILI
But Orsie you said all the press would be here?

Welles swats away some flies.

WELLES
Seems Las Vegas is a little too exotic for them.
LILI
Then why did we have to come all this way?
WELLES
Love makes a man do strange things, Lili. I have told you I love you?
LILI
Well, you just married me didn’t you?
WELLES
You know, Lili, you’re going to make a wonderful actress.

 

INT. 1947 - REPUBLIC STUDIOS - STUDIO TWO - MACBETH SET - DAY

Leftover sets from some Western pictures have been remodeled to invoke the barren Scottish highlands. Lights weep over head. Frantic CAST and CREW are rushing into position. Western costumes have been reworked to fit the medieval tragedy.

Horses are being led out of the background by an OLD COWBOY.

In the foreground a very nervous Lili is full Lady Macbeth regalia is scanning the script, trying desperately to remember her lines. MAKEUP MAN’S hands brushes some powder under her cheeks. HAIRDRESSER’S hands adjust her black wig. COSTUMER’S hands alters the scarf wrapped around her shoulders.

STAGEHAND (O.C.)
Offstage, everybody! Places, please! Quiet, please!

Everyone shuffles out of the way.

CAMERA OPERATOR (O.C.)
Mark it!

Open clapperboard swings in chalked with the production details. Macbeth Screen Test: Scene No. 24. Shot 2. Take 7. Director: Orson Welles. A beam of light focuses as a hush descends on the set.

CAMERA ASSISTANT (O.C.)
Scene twenty-four! Shot two! Take seven!

Clapperboard slaps shut and swings away to reveal a very frightened Lili blinking into the camera, like a small deer into headlights.

WELLES (O.C.)
(growls)
Action!!
LILI
Come, you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here / And fill me from the crown to the toe topful / Of direst cruelty!

Move through the set as her thin voice fades away. Crew is looking away embarrassed. TWO COWBOYS are watching her performance. One of them is chewing tobacco. He turns away and spits out in distaste.

Lili’s voice continues to fade away until its gone.

LILI (O.C.)
Make thick my blood; / Stop up the access and passage to remorse / That no compunctious visitings of nature!

 

INT. 1948 - REPUBLIC STUDIOS - EDITING BAY - NIGHT

Sounds of Moviola whirring through reels of film. A YOUNG EDITOR is at the controls, rattling through frames of Lili’s screen test.

He pauses on a frame, lifts up his clipboard and jots down a note about Lili’s performance. Yawns.

To one side an OLDER EDITOR is asleep, head in his arms at the controls of another Moviola. Cans of film are everywhere.

Welles walks into the darkened room. Smoking a cigar, fuming.

YOUNG EDITOR
Mr. Welles!

Welles looks over the cans of films.

YOUNG EDITOR
This is a surprise.

Welles looks at the sleeping Older Editor.

YOUNG EDITOR
He’s just catching some shut-eye. We’ve been pulling double shifts to get the cutting done. Front office says --

Young Editor tries to rouse the Older Editor. Welles points at the Older Editor’s clipboard.

WELLES
What does it say there? The editing notes. What’s he written?

Young Editor looks over the handwritten notes, swallows.

Then begins to read.

YOUNG EDITOR
‘Miss St. Cyr, a beautiful but incompetent amateur...’

Young Editor looks up at Welles who is staring straight ahead. Looks down at the notes and continues reading.

YOUNG EDITOR
‘Is attempting to play the role of Lady Macbeth in a new motion picture of “Macbeth” ...’

He looks up, imploringly. Draws a deep breath. Looks down and continues reading.

YOUNG EDITOR
‘Her voice, happily, is no concern of this department. Of her acting, it is absolutely impossible to ...
WELLES
Well, go on. Go on.
YOUNG EDITOR
(soft)
That’s all there is.

Kane rips the clipboard out of his hands. He smothers a laugh and reads on.

WELLES
‘Of her acting it is absolutely impossible to say anything except that in the opinion of this editor, it represents a new low.’

Welles looks at the Young Editor.

WELLES
Have you got that? ‘In the opinion of this editor --’
YOUNG EDITOR
I didn’t see that.
WELLES
It isn’t here. I’m dictating.

Young Editor is confused.

YOUNG EDITOR
Huh, Mr. Welles, I --
WELLES
Get me a pen.

Welles looks at the small screen on the Moviola. A frozen, scared Lili is staring straight at him.

WELLES
I’m going to finish his report.

Close on the report as a pen writes out the letters ‘w’ ‘e’ ‘a’ ‘k’.

Older Editor stirs and looks up from his Moviola. He puts a cigarette to his lips. Welles is in an outer office, shoulders hunched, filling out the report.

Young Editor strikes a match and leans in.

OLDER EDITOR
Hello.

Older Editor lights his cigarette. Young Editor blows out the match.

YOUNG EDITOR
Hello.
OLDER EDITOR
Where’s my report?

Older Editor looks around a little frantically.

OLDER EDITOR
I -- I’ve got to finish my report.
YOUNG EDITOR
Mr. Welles is finishing it for you.
OLDER EDITOR
Orson?

Young Editor looks out to the outer office. Older Editor follows his eyes.

OLDER EDITOR
Orson? Orson is out there?

Older Editor gets up and freezes at the open door. Laughs.

OLDER EDITOR
I guess he’s fixing it up. I knew I’d never get that through.

Young Editor slides up next to him.

YOUNG EDITOR
Mr. Welles is finishing your report just the way you started it.

Older Editor can’t believe his ears.

YOUNG EDITOR
He’s writing a bad report, like you wanted.

Older Editor looks out at the outer office.

YOUNG EDITOR
I guess that’ll show you.

Older Editor turns and heads out to the outer office.

 

INT. 1948 - REPUBLIC STUDIOS - EDITING BAY - OUTER OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Welles is writing on the clipboard in the foreground.

Older Editor picks his way across the office to Welles’ side.  Welles goes on writing, without looking up. After a pause, Welles speaks.

WELLES
Hello.

Older Editor smirks.

OLDER EDITOR
Hello, Orson.

Beat.

OLDER EDITOR
I didn’t know we were speaking.
WELLES
Sure we’re speaking.

Welles stops his writing.

WELLES
You’re fired.

Welles keeps writing, the expression on his face doesn’t change.

Older Editor, stunned, leaves the office.

Fade to black.

 

EXT. 1985 - PALM SPRINGS - EISENHOWER MEDICAL CENTER - POND VERANDA - SUNSET

Williams is still in the shadows. Cotten lifts his blanket to his chest. The area is deserted. The sun is about to slip away.

WILLIAMS
Everyone knows that story, Mr. Cotten. But why did he do it? How could a man write a report like that?
COTTEN
You just don’t know Orson.

Cotten is serious.

COTTEN
He thought that by finishing that report he could show the world he was an honest man. He was always trying to prove something.

Cotten knows what he’s talking about.

COTTEN
That whole thing about Lili being an actress, that was trying to prove something. Prove that he knew best.

Cotten turns and calls out.

COTTEN
Hey, nurse!

And back to Williams

COTTEN
Five years ago he wrote from that place down there of his, uh, where was it? Century City? MacArthur Park? Mulholland Drive --

Cotten laughs at being caught out.

COTTEN
All right. Hollywood Hills. I knew it all the time. You caught on, didn’t you?

Cotten laughs some more.

COTTEN
I guess I’m not as hard to see through as I think.

Cotten looks out over the water.

COTTEN
Well, I never even answered his letter. Maybe I should have.

Cotten marks regret.

COTTEN
I guess he was pretty lonely down there with Oja. He wanted to turn his house into a film studio, shoot all those projects there. He never finished them, he never finished anything.

Cotten nods.

COTTEN
Of course, he made them for her.
WILLIAMS
That must have been love.
COTTEN
I don’t know, he was disappointed in the world, so he built his own.

NURSE arrives in starched uniform. He yells without seeing her.

COTTEN
Nurse!
NURSE
Yes, Mr. Cotten?

ANOTHER NURSE arrives.

Cotten leans into Williams.

COTTEN
Listen, young fellow, there is one thing you can do for me.
WILLIAMS
Sure.
COTTEN
Stop at the gift shop on your way out will you, and get me a packet of cigarettes.

Cotten gets up slowly.

WILLIAMS
I’ll be glad to.
COTTEN
Send them right up, thank you.

First Nurse moves closer. Cotten shoos away the Second Nurse.

COTTEN
One is enough.

He leans towards Thomson

COTTEN
You know, when I was a young man, there used to be an impression around that nurses were pretty. Well, it was no truer then than it is today.
FIRST NURSE
I’ll take your arm, Mr. Cotten.
COTTEN
All right, all right.

Cotten leans back to Williams.

COTTEN
You won’t forget about those cigarettes, will you? Have them wrap the pack up in a newspapers, or something, or they’ll stop them at the desk.

Cotten turns away.

COTTEN
You know that young doctor I was telling you about, well, he’s got an idea he wants to keep me alive.

Cotten laughs, shuffles off with the Nurses. Williams looks at his Cameraman and Sound Guy.

 

EXT. 1985 - LOS ANGELES DOWNTOWN - OLD WAREHOUSE - OJA KORDA’S STUDIO - MORNING

Sounds of snarling traffic below.

Move across old warehouse rooftop. Ladders, tarpaulins and paint tins are stacked in a pile. Light glows faintly from the skylight. Drift through the ladders towards the skylight. See Oja Korda’s artist studio below. OJA KODAR, 44, is seated at the center table, working on the clay bust of Orson Welles. Williams is seated opposite her. Cameraman and Sound Guy are recording the interview

Pass through the glass.

 

INT. 1985 - LOS ANGELES DOWNTOWN - OLD WAREHOUSE - OJA KORDA’S STUDIO - CONTINUOUS

Canvases are stacked against the wall, an empty easel is pushed against the corner. A table to one side is littered with art books.

Oja is strikingly beautiful. Jet black hair pulled back tightly, high cheekbones, exotic eyes.

WILLIAMS
I’d rather you just talked. Anything that comes into your mind, about yourself and Mr. Welles.

Oja laughs.

OJA
About myself and Mr. Orson Welles? We met on a film set. He was such fun, such energy. All he wanted to do was make films, paint, write.

She thinks.

OJA
We worked together on so many projects. I loved him very much, you know.

She laughs again.

OJA
He was not like other men.
WILLIAMS
Projects?

Oja smiles through him.

OJA
Everyone thinks “Citizen Kane” was the only film he ever made, and the rest of his career was nothing. They are so wrong. He never stopped working. He loved working.
WILLIAMS
But wasn’t “Macbeth” the last film he made in America.
OJA
All those years ago, it was not easy for him to be here. He left his lovers, he left his America, he left everyone.

She stops working for a moment and looks at Williams.

OJA
He left for Europe, for freedom.

 

INT. 1948 - VIENNA - PALAIS PALLAVINCI - LOBBY - DAY

A man is sitting down reading a broadsheet newspaper, surrounded by arc lights, dolly tracks, black cutters, and bounce boards of a film crew. The newspaper is covering his face, but his beautiful hands are carefully and expensively manicured. His shoes are handmade of fine leather.

Next to him is an empty canvas chair with a name painted in white script that reads ORSON WELLES.

ORSON WELLES (O.C.)
It’s good to see you, Jo.

The man lowers the newspaper. It’s Joseph Cotten in costume as alcoholic pulp fiction writer Holly Martins in “The Third Man.” Overcoat slung over the shoulders of his suit. He looks a little startled to see Welles, 33. CREW MEMBERS and ASSISTANTS flit past.

COTTEN
You’ve shaved off the mustache.

Welles is in a dark overcoat, black hat.

WELLES
I’ve shaved off the mustache? I know.

Cotten folds the newspaper.

COTTEN
And you’re two weeks late.

The vast lobby is clad in rich marble and looks more like the foyer of a palatial hotel than the entrance of an upscale apartment block in the shadows of postwar Vienna.

WELLES
Yes, well, I’ve been a busy boy, Jo.
COTTEN
You know Selznick wants to fire you?
WELLES
And who could blame him?
COTTEN
Reed too?
WELLES
But not Korda.

Welles presses his sternum, pained.

WELLES
Anyway, I’m here now. Let’s save the melodrama for the screen.

Cotten raises an eyebrow.

WELLES
Oh, the same old indigestion.

Welles pops a tablet in his mouth, sucks on it.

WELLES
Jo, these are the only things that help - these tablets. These are the last. Can’t get them anywhere in Europe any more.
COTTEN
What about your girl?

Welles looks away, either bored or distracted.

WELLES
Oh, Jo, what fools we are, talking to each other this way ...

Welles smiles.

WELLES
As though I would do anything to you - or you to me.

Welles looks as if he’s peering out a window.

WELLES
You’re just a little mixed up about things, in general. Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don’t, so why should we? They talk about the people, and the Proletariat.

He steps closer to his friend.

WELLES
I talk about the suckers and the mugs. It’s the same thing. They have their five-year plan, and so have I.
COTTEN
You used to believe in God.

Welles looks around the grand lobby.

WELLES
I don’t want to bore him with my prayers. The dead are happier dead. They don’t miss much here, poor devils.

Welles taps his sternum again, smiles away the pain.

WELLES
Don’t be so gloomy. After all, it’s not that awful. In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and the Renaissance.

Welles draws a pair of delicate leather gloves out of his overcoat pocket, slips them on.

WELLES
In Switzerland, they had brotherly love. They had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

Welles turns and leaves, laughs.

WELLES
So long, Jo.

 

EXT. 1949 - MOGADOR - FORTRESS - STEPS - DAY

Welles, 34, is in character as Othello, standing on a small wooden dais in full Moor make up, darkened skin and wiry beard. Chomping on an unlit cigar while costumer MARIA DE MATTEIS adjusts a metal breast plate.

MARIA
That’s it!
WELLES
That’s all the costume?
MARIA
Nothing more has come from Roma, Signoro Welles. Niente.

Welles looks down at the breast plate, then over to his idle Italian crew. All well dressed with expensive sunglasses, trying to find pockets of shade under the burning Moroccan sun. Behind him the fortified 18th-century seaside town with its stone battlements and ancient ramparts makes a perfect backdrop for his “Othello.

Welles looks up at the sun.

WELLES
Alex!

Production Designer ALEX TRAUNER, 43, a thickset Hungarian, rushes over. The sleeves of his paint-smeared shirt are screwed up to his elbows. He looks more like an unemployed artist than Europe’s leading film designer.

WELLES
We’re going to shoot the murder of Roderigo in a Turkish bath.
TRAUNER
What!?
WELLES
We’re shooting a costume movie without costumes, what choice do we have? We have to improvise, Alex.

Trauner is not sure he understands where Welles is coming from.

WELLES
It’s a big scene, a lot of actors. There’s only one possible place where people could be nude, and that’s a Turkish bath.

Trauner looks around.

TRAUNER
Here there are no Turkish baths.

Welles looks around, points to an old warehouse by the shore.

WELLES
We’ll shoot in the fish market.

Trauner mops the sweat off his brow with the back of his hand. Has Welles gone mad?

WELLES
We’ll borrow some incense from the cathedral, some towels from the hotel. You dress the place up and voila! We have our Turkish bath.

Welles strikes a match off his breast plate, and lights his cigar triumphantly.

WELLES
Don’t worry, Trauner. We’ll shoot from the waist up. Get me Achise!
TRAUNER
He went back home.
WELLES
To Italy?

Trauner nods.

TRAUNER
Yesterday. You got a new cameraman now.

Welles smiles.

WELLES
Well, let’s hope I don’t break this one.

 

EXT. 1955 - SEGOVIA - ALCÁZAR - TERRACE - DAY

Welles, 40, is in character as Gregory Arkadin, standing tall amongst bounce boards on the grounds of the medieval Spanish castle. Looking larger than life with a full-blown false nose and beard, fuming on a cigar.

ACTORS dressed for a party in lace and finery are milling about, drinking tall glasses of wine. They’re in good spirits, ready to shoot the next scene in “Mr. Arkadin.” Actor AKIM TAMIROFF, 54, playing the decrepit Jakob Zouk is in the background.

Welles is holding a tall glass of brandy, confiding with cinematographer JEAN BOURGOIN, 42. A thin anxious man wearing wire frame glasses, checking and double-checking his spot light-meter.

Welles motions his cigar to the film camera.

WELLES
Keep it at eighteen-point-five and we won’t need any extra light.
BOURGOIN
But Monsieur Welles you shoot everything with the eighteen-five lens.

Welles laughs.

WELLES
It’s not a crime, is it?
BOURGOIN
No one shoots everything with the eighteen-five lens.

Welles arches his false eyebrow. Bourgoin checks his light meter again.

Welles circles the air in front of him.

WELLES
We’ll get the actors to surround me like this, and I’ll do the scorpion story.

Welles begins an impromptu rehearsal as Mr. Arkadin in a thick Russian accent as he imagines the actors around him.

WELLES
And now I’m going to tell you a story about a scorpion. This scorpion wanted to cross a river. So he asked the frog to carry him.

Welles looks at the actors who aren’t there.

WELLES
‘No,’ said the frog. ‘No, thank you. If I let you on my back you may sting me, and the sting of a scorpion is death.’ Now where is the logic in that, says the scorpion looking for logic because a scorpion is always trying to be logical. ‘If I sting you, you will die and I will drown.’

Welles nods to himself.

WELLES
So the frog was convinced to allow the scorpion on his back, but just in the middle of the river, he felt a terrible pain and realized that, after all, the scorpion had stung him. ‘Logic,’ cried the dying frog as he started taken the scorpion down with him. ‘There is no logic in this.’

Welles smiles at the invisible actors.

WELLES
‘I know,’ said the scorpion. ‘But I can’t help it. It’s my character.’

Bourgoin shakes his head and chuckles. Welles joins in, lifting his glass in the air.

WELLES
Let’s drink to character.

Welles roars with laughter, and gulps down the brandy.

 

EXT. 1957 - VENICE, LOS ANGELES - GRANDI HOTEL - BASEMENT - NIGHT

It’s late. Welles, 42, is in character as the ruined Captain Hank Quinlan in “Touch of Evil.” Made up to look obese, hat slouched over his head, face damp with sweat. Next to him is CHARLTON HESTON, 35, in character as Mexican drug agent Miguel Vargas.

Both men are standing in a dingy corner, pissing into a drain. They are lit by a single, grimy overhead globe.

Welles looks over the run-down basement. Paint is peeling off the worn walls, old pipes overhead look blistered.

WELLES
You know, this really looks great down here.

Heston isn’t so sure.

WELLES
We ought to use this. It’d be great for the scene between you and Joe when he gives you my cane.

Heston sees the point.

HESTON
It’d be great except the studio’s got it scheduled for Monday.

Welles looks around.

WELLES
Yes, but this is far better.
HESTON
They’ve already built the set.
WELLES
Let’s get Joe down here.
HESTON
Orson, he going to be in bed.
WELLES
What?!
HESTON
It’s two in the morning!
WELLES
Perfect! He’ll be all upset, all stumbling when he gets down here.

Welles zips up his fly and cries out to the Assistant Director.

WELLES
Phil, get Joe Calleia down here right now!!

 

INT. 1960 - ROME - CERVANTES CINEMA - NIGHT

Small, empty, forgotten cinema. Welles, 45, is a ball of energy, painting out a scene for FRANCISCO REIGUERA, 61, in character as Don Quixote. Reiguera looks like he has stepped out of an Albrecht Dürer woodcut of the errant knight in his shabby armor, his long drawn face, his thin tapered beard. Mournful.

YOUNG CAMERAMAN is looping and feeding a roll of 16mm film into a magazine. He slips the magazine onto a 16mm camera as if loading a gun. Slots the camera on a tripod as it it’s a machine gun.

Welles has been shooting “Don Quixote” is Mexico, Spain and Italy for several years. Much of it improvised on the run. Reiguera is struggling to keep up with Welles’ vision.

WELLES
Akim will enter from the back, drawing applause from the theater audience --
REIGUERA
Akim? Who is Akim?
WELLES
Akim Tamiroff plays your faithful squire, your Sancho Panza. He sits next to Dulcie --
REIGUERA
Dul --
WELLES
Dulcie, she’ll be an American Dulcinea. She’s the little girl I begin telling the story of Don Quixote to at the start of the movie.
REIGUERA
The movie on the screen?
WELLES
No, no, the movie “Don Quixote.” The movie on the screen will be one of those Italian sword-and-sandal sagas.

Reiguera turns to look at the blank screen. Sounds of his armor creaking.

Welles points to the center row of empty seats.

WELLES
Dulcie will offer Sancho a lollipop, showing him how to eat to without chewing the wrapper. We’ll cut away to you mesmerized by the sight of a battle of charging horses. Cut back to Dulcie and Sancho taking in the movie, excited, saddened, enthralled, amazed, shocked. Back to you staring up at the screen not understanding it’s only a movie, light and shadows from the screen flickering over you. You think it’s real. There’s a woman being crucified. You want to save her, you must save her. You climb onto the stage. The audience boos you down, but you don’t care. Chivalry and virtue is at stake. You draw your sword to fight. Young boys up in the balcony holler and hoot, and cheer you own. You slash at the soldiers on the screen with your sword, fighting wildly. Nothing can stop you.
REIGUERA
I have to save her?

Young Cameraman focuses on Reiguera.

WELLES
Her life is in your hands.

Welles leans back and screams out to the projectionist.

WELLES
Roll movie!!

Light splashes onto the screen. Countdown leader starts counting down.

WELLES
Roll camera!!
YOUNG CAMERAMAN
Speed!!

Roman centurions on horses burst to life on the screen, startling Reiguera. Welles yells at him.

WELLES
Climb, climb! Climb onto the stage.

Reiguera staggers onto the stage.

WELLES
Draw out your sword! Draw out your sword!!

Reiguera slides out his sword, holds it aloft as images of marauding soldiers ride over him. Ducks down as horses leap.

On the screen two soldiers on horses draw out their swords and clash. Reiguera tries to join in. A femme fatale glances at the soldiers. Reiguera is momentarily stunned.

The soldiers clash again, then ride off. More soldiers arrive. Spears are hurled. Soldiers are thrown off horses.

WELLES
Thrust!! Thrust!! Thrust your sword!

Reiguera slashes at the screen, slicing into the image.

He slashes again and again.

On the screen a hero arrives on horseback to free the crucified woman. Her ropes are cut. Reiguera is cutting the screen to pieces, slashing away to reveal the giant speakers behind the screen.

WELLES
Cut!! Cut!!!

 

INT. 1961 - ZAGREB - INDUSTRIAL FAIR GROUNDS - EXHIBITION HALL - NIGHT

Hundreds of secretaries seated at hundred of desks in the cavernous hall start banging away on hundreds of typewriters. Sounds like a factory gone mad.

Move along with ANTHONY PERKINS, 29, in character as the unassuming Josef K. in “The Trial” as he hurries past.

He clutches his hands, pulls down the hem of his jacket.

Crane up to reveal more desks with more secretaries furiously typing away on more typewriters.

Welles, 46, is perched on top of the camera crane with Cinematographer EDMOND RICHARD, 34. Welles spots something in the crowd. He motions TWO GRIPS to lower the crane, and deftly steps off as it glides to the ground.

He marches past the rows of desks, past the clattering secretaries. He arrives behind a young woman who is busy typing a screenplay. Her long black hair cascades down her back.

WELLES
Who are you?

The young woman turns around. It’s OJA KODAR, 20. She is a dark, exotic Croatian beauty. She smiles at Welles.

OJA
Everyone calls me Oja.
WELLES
You’re stupendously beautiful, you know?

Oja smiles wider. Welles is smitten.

WELLES
Would you do me the honor of joining me for lunch?
OJA
But it is past midnight?
WELLES
Are you hungry?
OJA
I am starving.

Welles laughs.

WELLES
Me too.
OJA
But no restaurant is open.
WELLES
That’s why God invented room service.

Welles pulls back the chair as Oja stands, and straightens the front of her skirt. She smiles again, dark eyes sparkle.

OJA
I always wonder what he did on the seventh day.

Welles laughs out loud as they leave together. Sounds of church bells pealing out across time.

 

INT. 1964 - ÁVILA - HILLSIDE - AFTERNOON

KEITH BAXTER, 31, in character as Prince Hal in the Shakespearean “Chimes at Midnight.” Armed and standing his ground, his tunic and shield show the royal fleur-de-lys and a heraldic lion. He carries his helmet under his arm, preparing for the bloody battle to come.

KNIGHTS and SOLDIERS on horses jostling behind him are obscured by clouds of dust blown by the cold, barren wind. Their lances stand tall.

Welles, 49, emerges from the dust in character as the portly, drunken Falstaff. He wears armor to his waist, and stands behind him.

WELLES
I would ‘twere bedtime, Hal, and all well.

Baxter looks straight ahead, his voice cold.

BAXTER
Why, thou owest God a death.

Welles doesn’t think so.

WELLES
’Tis not due yet. I would be loath to pay him before his day. What need I be so forward with him that calls not on me? Well, ’tis not matter, honor pricks me on.

Wind howls and dust blows past them.

WELLES
Yea, how if honor prick me off when I come on? How then?

Baxter looks away.

WELLES
Can honor set a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honor hath no skill in surgery then? No. What is honor? Air --

Baxter looks back him.

WELLES
-- a trim reckoning! Who hath it? He that died a Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No.

Baxter looks away.

WELLES
’Tis insensible then? yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why?

Baxter looks back at Welles.

WELLES
Detraction will not suffer it.

Therefore I’ll none of it. Honor is a mere scutcheon - and so ends my catechism.

More dust billows past them.

 

EXT. 1968 - PARIS - DINESEN CINEMA - NIGHT

It’s been raining. The streets and city lights glisten, glimmer. Welles, 53, is dressed in black and standing outside the small cinema. TWO YOUNG LOVERS slip inside.

Behind him is a French landscape movie poster of “Une histoire immortelle.” Plain black title over an unadorned shot of JEANNE MOREAU, 38, lying in bed with ROGER COGGIO, 36. Lying on his chest, gazing out. Welles’ name sits it red above the title.

Welles looks to one side. Can’t believe his eyes.

WELLES
My God, Oja!

Oja Kodar, 27, strides along the sidewalk wearing a very modern, very short dress. She is unbelievably stunning.

She shakes her head in disbelief.

OJA
My God, Orson!!

He opens his arms to hug her. She punches him on the shoulder, hard.

OJA
You bastard!!

Welles is stunned.

OJA
Do you know how many times I wrote to you? From you, not one letter. Nothing.
WELLES
You don’t understand.

Oja strides off.

OJA
I understand, Mr. Welles. I understand very well.
WELLES
Wait, wait.

Oja isn’t waiting for anybody. Welles stumbles off after her, struggles to catch up. Doubles over wheezing, pulls a small open envelop out of his jacket. Oja stops and turns around. She thinks she recognizes the envelop.

OJA
Is that --
WELLES
It’s the first letter you sent me.

Oja is surprised.

OJA
(soft)
You keep it after all these years.
WELLES
I carry it with me everywhere.

Oja smiles softly.

WELLES
I have to show something.

Welles smiles.

WELLES
Back at my hotel.
OJA
Up to your old tricks.
WELLES
No, really you must come. It’s terribly important.
OJA
Why?
WELLES
I might never see you again.

Oja cocks an eyebrow.

OJA
Still with the drama.

Welles bows before her.

WELLES
The fate of kings and fools.

 

INT. 1968 - PARIS - HOTEL MUERICE - BELLE ETOILE SUITE - LATER

PRIVATE BUTLER opens the door to the vast, fabled suite that overlooks the Tuilieries and the entire Parisian skyline. The Eiffel Tower twinkles in the distance.

Oja steps in, followed by a smiling Welles.

WELLES
This way, Oja.

She follows him out the entrance hall through the dining room and past the sitting room into the master bedroom. The décor is early 19th century Charles X style, regal, refined.

 

INT. 1968 - PARIS - HOTEL MUERICE - BELLE ETOILE SUITE - MASTER BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS

Oja glances at the spacious bed with the midnight-blue canopy, the spectacular view takes in the Place Vendôme column, the Opéra Garnier and the Sacré Coeur.

Welles heads into the magnificent walk-in closet and returns with a leather doctor’s bag. Places it on the bed and snaps it open, reaches in and retrieves a sealed envelop. Hands it to Oja.

She takes it. It’s addressed to her in Zagreb. It’s been marked return to sender.

WELLES
Oja, I wrote to you every day. Some times more.

Oja’s not sure whether to believe him.

Welles picks up the doctor’s bag, tips it upside down and shakes out dozens of returned letters onto the bed.

Each addressed to Oja. She scoops them up into the air.

Falls back onto the bed.

OJA
You love me?
WELLES
I’m afraid it’s worse than that.

Oja looks at him.

WELLES
I’d love to make a film with you.

She smiles at him.

 

INT. 1969 - HVAR - THE PALACE HOTEL - TERRACE SUITE - MORNING

Morning air drifts into the beautiful suite with views over the boats in Hvar Bay and out to the Adriatic sea.

Sheer voile curtains breathe open. Oja and Welles are in bed. Oja is naked, reading and typing up a film treatment of “The Deep.” Welles, 54, is in love.

OJA
‘We are out in the Atlantic Ocean. A newly wedded couple --’
WELLES
That’s you and Michael Bryant.
OJA
‘-- are here on their small yacht, cruising up the west coast of Africa to the Mediterranean.’
WELLES
You have such beautiful feet, did you know that. Women so seldom do, especially European women.

Oja keeps typing up the treatment.

OJA
‘There is no wind, it is dead calm. To save gas, they are not using their auxiliary engine.’
WELLES
I’ve often wondered if Gauguin didn’t run away to Polynesia simply because he was revolted by the feet of European women.
OJA
‘Out in these waters they might expect to be very much alone. But there is someone else out there – another boat, sinking in the water. Somebody is rowing over to them --’
WELLES
In a dingy.
OJA
‘-- a stranger --’
WELLES
Either Peter O’Toole or Laurence Harvey.
OJA
‘-- with a very strange tale to tell. He is alone – everyone else on that boat of his is dead.’
WELLES
On screen we see a series of shots that show your husband getting into the stranger’s dingy and rowing over to the sinking boat and climbing aboard, where he meets a man below deck who starts to attack him --

Oja is furiously typing away.

OJA
You!?

Welles grins.

WELLES
Then he hears you calling out his name – the stranger has overpowered you, started the engine of your small yacht and is sailing away.
OJA
He is trapped there on a boat that is taking on water fast, and his young wife is trapped on their boat with a raving maniac! What happens next?

Welles chuckles.

WELLES
Well, we’ll have to leave that to the ticket buyers, won’t we?

A faint breeze licks the sheer voile curtains.

 

EXT. 1971 - CAVE CREEK - CLIFF ESTATE - SUNSET

Burn orange, blood red and crimson light washes across the sky. Welles’ voice roars through the desert wind.

WELLES (O.C.)
Cut! Cut!! It looks too fake.

 

INT. 1971 - CAVE CREEK - CLIFF ESTATE - CONTINUOUS

Welles stands in the hallway of a massive house he has hired as the main location for “The Other Side of the Wind.” A film camera is pointed out though the open front door to the setting sun. A man’s voice spills over him.

HUSTON (O.C.)
Too fake to be true, my friend.

Welles smiles and turns to greet film director JOHN HUSTON arriving on set. They embrace. Huston, 65, is long, lanky with a full beard. He’s also drunk.

Welles, 56, is also bearded with this grey hair swept back. He is rotund and swathed in a giant purple robe, imperial.

WELLES
Goddamnit, I can’t believe I’m giving you this role?

Cast and crew are huddled in the immense living room.

Dozens of people including production manager FRANK MARSHALL, cinematographer GARY GRAVER, and actors RICH LITTLE, EDMOND O’BRIEN, MERCEDES MCCAMBRIDGE, SUSAN STRASBERG, PAUL STEWART. They all look tired and worn.

Oja Kodar drifts past. Huston smiles at her. Welles laughs.

WELLES
It’s such a good role, I should have it.
HUSTON
Have you decided on a story?
WELLES
It’s about a bastard film director who’s full of himself, who catches people and creates and destroys them. It’s about us, John. It’s a film about us.
HUSTON
Sound like a film about you?
WELLES
That’s what everyone will say. It’s not completely autobiographical.

Huston kinks an eyebrow.

WELLES
It started out as a script called “Sacred Beasts,” about a young bullfighter and an old film director who admires him.
HUSTON
Admires?

Welles nods his head.

WELLES
Then I met my Oja and everything changed. We rewrote it, made it new. Changed the title too. It’s now called “The Other Side of the Wind.”
HUSTON
No more bullfighter.

Welles shakes his head.

WELLES
It’s now about an aging film director and the young male lead, who is starring in his new Hollywood comeback movie.

Huston laughs.

WELLES
People are following this legendary director around, shooting his life, and that’s what we’re going to see on the screen.

Huston is intrigued.

WELLES
I’m going to use several voices to tell the story. You hear conversations taped as interviews, and you see quite different scenes going on at the same time. People are writing a book about him, different books, documentaries, still pictures, film, tapes. All these witnesses.

Welles nods.

WELLES
The movie is going to be made up of all this raw material. Can you imagine how daring the cutting can be, how much fun?
HUSTON
Where’s the screenplay?

Welles taps his temple gently.

WELLES
It’s all up here. I’ve worked on it for years. I know everything that’s happened to this man. Complicated, charismatic, larger than life. I love him.

Huston grins.

WELLES
And I hate him.
HUSTON
He sounds like a Hemingway character lost in a Dostoyevsky novel.

Welles smiles at Huston, excited.

WELLES
It all centers around a disastrous Hollywood birthday party for the director. It’s his seventieth birthday, it’s the last day and night of his life, surrounded by members of the media, younger filmmakers, and old cronies as he tries to raise money for his with-it film with arcane symbolism, nudity, radical-chic violence.
HUSTON
And you’ll cut it from all these sources?
WELLES
From books, from stills, from interviews. From all that footage shot by the TV and documentary filmmakers, and the students, critics and young directors who bring their own cameras to his birthday party. I’ll sketch a film likeness of the man himself as he looked -- through all those different viewfinders.

Welles leans in.

WELLES
Even his own unfinished motion picture will be part of the testimony.

 

EXT. 1973 - PARIS - CHARTRES CATHEDRAL - TWILIGHT

A black fedora moves away from the front of the gables of the south portal. Welles’ voice is barely a whisper over the different shots of the spectacular Gothic cathedral as he narrates from his film essay “F for Fake.”

WELLES (V.O.)
This has been standing here for centuries.

South portal and rose window of stained glass rise towards the spires.

WELLES (V.O.)
The premiere work of man, perhaps in the whole western world. And it’s without signature.

Royal portal central tympanum of Christ in majesty. Statue of Philip Hurepel.

WELLES (V.O.)
Celebration to God’s glory, and dignity of man.

Welles, 58, in black fedora and cape, peers up at the great cathedral. Then looks away.

WELLES
All that’s left, most artists seem to feel these days, is man. Naked. There aren’t any celebrations.

Colonnette towards the spires. Statues of prophets, pilgrims.

WELLES (V.O.)
Ours, the scientist keep telling us, is a universe that’s disposable.

Move back from spire to reveal the cathedral in all its wonder.

WELLES (V.O.)
You know, it might be just this one anonymous glory of all things. This rich stone forest, this epic chant, this gaiety, this grand quiring shout of affirmation, which we choose when all our cities are dust to stand intact, to mark where we have been.

Statue of a king.

WELLES (V.O.)
To testify to what we have in us, to accomplish.

Cathedral in the skyline as night falls.

WELLES (V.O.)
Our works in stone, in paint, in print are spared for a few decades or a millennium or two. But everything must finally fall in war, or wear away into the ultimate and universal ash. The triumphs and the frauds, the treasures and the fakes.

Welles swallows.

WELLES
A fact of life, we’re going to die.

Three statues.

WELLES (V.O.)
Be of good heart, cry the dead artists out of the living past. Our songs will all be silenced.

Cathedral amidst the city at night.

WELLES (V.O.)
But what of it? Go on singing.

 

INT. 1974 - BEVERLY HILLS - EDITING SUITE - DAY

35mm motion picture film print slicks through the reels on a flatbed Moviola. Color frames of Orson Welles stagger on the Moviola screen.

WELLES (V.O.)
This is a Moviola.

Welles, 59, steps in behind the Moviola. Wearing black, looking dogged.

WELLES
A machine for editing film, but you know, when we say we’re editing or cutting a film, we’re not saying enough. Movies aren’t just made on the set. A lot of the actual making happens right here.

Welles pats the machine.

WELLES
A Moviola like this is very nearly as important as the camera. Here films are salvaged, saved sometimes from disaster, or savaged out of existence. This is the last stop on the long road between the dream in a filmmaker’s head and the public when that dream is addressed.

Welles nods.

WELLES
Carlyle said that almost everything examined deeply enough will turn out to be musical. Of course this is profoundly true of motion pictures. The pictures have movement - the movies move. Then there’s the movement from one picture to another. There’s a rhythmic structuring to that - there’s counterpoint, harmony and dissonance.

35mm motion picture film print spins through the reels on the flatbed Moviola, slips through the editing heads.

WELLES (V.O.)
A film is never right, until it’s right musically. This moviola, this filmmaker’s tool, is a kind of a musical instrument. It’s here that other film instruments are tuned or finely orchestrated, so as we’re finally ending up our conversation here, you’ll understand that as a filmmaker I’m speaking to you from my home.

 

EXT. 1980 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - NIGHT

The house Welles and Oja share near Hollywood Boulevard has been transformed into a 19th century villa in Milan.

WELLES (V.O.)
This house will always be here. Awaiting the return of Pellegrina. But Pellegrina says before that happens, weeds will break through that piano.

 

INT. 1980 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

The interior has been transformed into a 19th century villa with delicate sconces, brass light fittings, draped curtains, splayed ferns. The garden outside the large window is lit.

Oja is leaning towards a light, dressed in costume as the tormented opera singer PELLEGRINA LEONI from “The Dreamers.” Cinematographer Gary Graver is filming with a 35mm Camaflex camera.

LEONI
You’ll never hear her speak to you again.
WELLES (O.C.)
More energy.
LEONI
You’ll never hear her speak to you again!
WELLES (O.C.)
More on ‘speak.’ Slower.

She takes a breath and hits the word.

LEONI
You’ll never hear her speak to you again.

Sounds of crickets outside.

WELLES (O.C.)
You’re entering the continent.

She looks away, breathes deep. Looks back up.

LEONI
You’ll never hear her speak to you again.
WELLES (O.C.)
That’s good!

Pan to reveal Welles, 65, seated on a high back timber pew in a corner propped to look like a Swiss monastery. He is wearing a black cape, his beard long. He looks down.

Beat.

Welles puts on a pair of spectacles and a tall, black hat.

He looks up, instantly transformed into Pellegrina Leoni’s Dutch friend and patron, the old Jew, MARCUS KLEEK.

He looks around at three imaginary ex-lovers who have gathered after her last great scene, her death scene.

KLEEK
The truth? Now that you’ve cornered her and killed her, you want the truth?

He looks away.

KLEEK
Pellegrina Leoni, the Prima Donna Assoluta, had in her-life two great devouring passions. And what was the first of these? It was for Pellegrina. She was a devil to the other women in the opera. It was a terrible and jealous love.

He considers one imaginary ex-lover in particular

KLEEK
Her other passion? It was not for me, young gentleman. I was, for the first half of life, just such an unhappy young man as you are. I was rich, and traveled much. I kept my own corps de ballet to perform before me and my friends, or before me alone.

He remembers.

KLEEK
I had thirty young girls who used to dance before me naked. And I was bored to death, young gentleman. I might well have died of boredom, had I not happened to hear, on a small theatre stage in Venice, the voice of Pellegrina Leoni.

He stops for a moment, as though listening.

KLEEK
Then I understood the meaning of heaven and earth, of the stars, of life and death and eternity.

Beat

KLEEK
She took you out in a rose garden filled with nightingales. Then lifted you with her, higher than the moon.

 

INT. 1981 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - KITCHEN - DAY

Oja is cutting onions, preparing a meal. Welles, 66, sits at the large kitchen table, painting concept art of the interior monastery set for “The Dreamers.”

He works quickly in ink. More than a dozen sheets of heavy paper lie about. Arched vaults, heavy wooden beams in the ceiling, stone floor.

WELLES
Moonlight will drift in through the high windows at the back, light you in silver from behind.
OJA
What did the studio say?
WELLES
What do you think?
OJA
Too literary?

Welles nods with a smile.

WELLES
They couldn’t understand why I would want to make a film from two short stories. They had no idea who Karen Blixen is.
OJA
They did not know Isak Dinesen?
WELLES
They wouldn’t know a nom de plume if it was served with a double entendre.
OJA
So they did not like the script?

Welles highlights an arch in the painting, laughs.

WELLES
They never do.

 

INT. 1983 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - DINING ROOM - DAY

A roll of white butcher paper has been thumb tacked around three wall. Notes on the chapters from Jim Thompson’s noir novel “A Hell of a Woman” have been written up in black marker in boxes on the paper. Two of the chapter notes have been cut out and moved around. Lines and arrows and asterisks and stars and underlines are scrawled all over.

A table is full of pages torn from the Jim Thompson novel as well as pages and pages of script notes. Welles’ manual typewriter is almost buried in paper.

Gary Graver is trying to match up consecutive pages ripped from the novel. Welles, 68, holds Chapter 22 notes cut from the butcher paper in his hand. He is fuming on a cigar.

WELLES
Gary, what if we move the last chapter where his mind splits into two to the very beginning.
GRAVER
Start with two points of view?
WELLES
Split the screen like his mind.
GRAVER
Two points of view, ide by side?
WELLES
Obviously you’d have to alternate the dialogue or else the audience will go mad.
GRAVER
You can’t hear two things at once.

Welles thinks for a moment. Kiki the miniature poodle trots past.

WELLES
Maybe you can?

Welles steps up, taps the start of the butcher paper.

WELLES
Maybe shoot the vision straight but have each voice in each channel, overlapping. Coming together into the one voice, one character. You know, let the audience hear how fragile his mind his, how is mind is being torn apart right from the very beginning.

Graver thinks this is a brilliant idea. Welles keeps looking at the notes spread out across the walls.

WELLES
Gary, you know Thompson’s “Pop. 1280” would make a better film, don’t you?
GRAVER
But, Orson, you said it would be too expensive to make. You said we had to burn down a whole town.

Welles blows out a plume of smoke.

WELLES
You don’t know any town we could torch, do you?

 

INT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - LIVING ROOM - DAY

Three tables overflowing with projects. First table has scripts, outlines, character studies, drawings, paintings, portraits, actor headshots for “The Cradle Will Rock.”

Second table has scripts, outlines, character studies, drawings, sketches, location maps, paintings, portraits, actor headshots for “The Big Brass Ring.”

Third table has scripts, outlines, character studies, concept drawings, sketches, storyboards, location maps, paintings, portraits, actor headshots, film cans for “The Dreamers.”

Welles, 70, is working away on “The Dreamers” script.

WELLES
Timothy Dalton would be perfect for one of your lovers in “The Dreamers.” I’ve written new lines.
OJA (O.C.)
Is the car here?
WELLES
Your carriage awaits, my darling.

Oja walks in from the front reception where her luggage is piled. She has a silk shawl over her shoulders. She looks beautiful.

WELLES
No rehearsal?

Oja shakes her head.

OJA
I have to catch my plane.
WELLES
You shatter my heart.
OJA
I will be back next week. Are you doing the interview this afternoon?
WELLES
The Merv Griffin Show? Yes, it tapes at four.
OJA
Will you have fun without me?
WELLES
Not at all.

Kiki the miniature poodle looks up at him.

WELLES
Kiki and I will miss you terribly.

Oja kisses him gently, lovingly. Sounds of knocking on the front door. Oja walks to the front reception and opens the door to the CHAUFFEUR. He takes the luggage.

 

INT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - FRONT RECEPTION - CONTINUOUS

Welles steps into the front reception. There is a vintage French style phone on a small side table. He looks at Oja, and softly delivers a line from “The Dreamers” in character as Marcus Kleek.

KLEEK
It is true, then?

Oja decides to play along in character as Pellegrina Leoni in the 19th century drama. Sounds of traffic from the Hollywood streets seep in.

LEONI
Yes
KLEEK
Alone, like this? And in the dead of night?
LEONI
Pellegrina is dead. Even the servants think so. I had no chance to say goodbye. Will you do that for me?
KLEEK
I do not ask where you are bound for.
LEONI
Many places.
KLEEK
Little lioness, you will need money.
LEONI
I will earn my money, whoever I will be. I will be many persons.

Welles pulls an imaginary gold ring from his pocket.

It’s heavy, large, solid gold. He slips it on her delicate finger.

KLEEK
Let this go with you, little lioness. I should like you to be easy. This ring will carry you left or right, in all of your directions.

Oja admires the imaginary ring.

LEONI
Left or right. But never home again.
KLEEK
Not -- ever?

Welles turns and walks back towards the living room, past a tall mirror.

Oja has tears in her eyes.

 

INT. 1985 - LOS ANGELES DOWNTOWN - OLD WAREHOUSE - OJA KORDA’S STUDIO - MORNING

Oja Kodar is seated at the center table of the studio, working on the clay bust of Orson Welles. Williams is seated opposite her. Cameraman and Sound Guy are recording the interview.

She stops working on the bust.

OJA
Of course we had disappointments and sad moments. Orson would to say the black dogs are barking at the door. But he never allowed them to enter, to win over our moods.

Oja smiles.

OJA
He would immediately invent a story to chase them away.

Oja remembers.

OJA
You cannot imagine what sort of theater we had in our house. All Shakespeare was played there. He was a great Romeo, and, you know, a great Juliet too. What energy, what fun he had.
WILLIAMS
But Mr. Welles was never really accepted --
OJA
What do you mean accepted? He takes a script to a studio that refuses to make it, then of course he was not accepted. But otherwise, he was accepted very much so. He had a lot of friends, he made new friends, young movie directors, new actors. He had a great time, he loved to be around young people.
WILLIAMS
Regrets?

Oja shakes her head.

OJA
All these thing he was trying to do and could not do, did not turn him into a bitter old man. He always told me sour grapes is not his dish. Sometimes it is more my dish, but it never was his dish.
WILLIAMS
But the past --
OJA
Orson was someone who did not like to talk about the past, and things that didn’t work. He was an unbeatable man, he had an enormous courage and nothing was going to stop him from making movies.

Beat.

OJA
I kept a lot of drawings and paintings, and pictures. Orson hated to keep things and he would doodle and so on and then, aggghh, just squash it and throw it away. I was always trying to save things but I do not have as many as you would think through twenty years.

Oja looks at Williams.

OJA
So are you going to the house in Hollywood Hills?
WILLIAMS
Tomorrow. We’ve got to grab some shots.
OJA
If you are smart you will get in touch with Paul Stewart. You know he played the butler in “Citizen Kane,” the butler who found him dead.

Williams knows now.

OJA
Orson did not keep memorabilia. Orson always said the two most important things for him were a good pair of shoes, and a good typewriter.

She smiles, and looks up through the skylight.

 

EXT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - GATE - AFTERNOON

Television network broadcast vans are parked, scattered over the road. CREWS and TELEVISION REPORTERS are streaming in and out of the house, along with REMOVALISTS hauling out boxes of material.

 

INT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - STAIRWAY LANDING - CONTINUOUS

PAUL STEWART, 77, is standing on the dark landing with Williams. He lights a match.

STEWART
His last words?

He lights his cigarette.

STEWART
I can tell you his last words. How much is it worth to you? Ten thousand dollars?

He takes a step down the staircase into the light. His short cropped hair is white but he looks and moves remarkably like the cynical butler he played in “Citizen Kane.”

Williams follows him.

WILLIAMS
Okay.
STEWART
Well, I tell you Mr. Williams. He acted kind of funny sometimes, you know.
WILLIAMS
No, I didn’t.
STEWART
Yes, he did crazy things sometimes. I’ve been working with him for forty-six years, so I ought to know.

Stewart ashes his cigarette.

STEWART
His last words --
WILLIAMS
Yes?
STEWART
Well, like I tell you, he acted kind of funny sometimes, but, uh, I knew how to handle him.

 

INT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - WELLES’ BEDROOM - NIGHT

Welles is swathed in a giant white terry toweling bathrobe, wiping make up off his face with a cotton pad. He tosses the pad into the trash can near a large wooden desk.

Steps over to the enormous bed against the window and straightens the bedspread, picks away a piece of lint. Smooths the bedspread over Oja’s pillow.

Straightens the painting hanging over the mantelpiece above the fireplace. Pushes two books together so they line up perfectly. Takes one, two, three, four, five, six, seven books off the mantelpiece and drops them on to the desk. Pours himself a glass of water.

Welles opens the curtains and the window and looks out into the night, up to the moon. He picks up the phone on the desk and dials. It rings three times before the call is answered by an answering machine.

Sounds of beep from the answering machine.

HENRY JAGLOM’S VOICE
(on answering machine)
This is Henry, don’t forget to leave a message.

 

INT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - FRONT RECEPTION - CONTINUOUS

Stewart gently picks up the vintage French style phone on small side table, covers the mouthpiece as he lifts the receiver to his ear. He hears Welles’ voice through the phone.

WELLES’ VOICE
(through phone line)
This is your friend, don’t forget to tell me how your mother is.

Sounds of Welles hanging up. Stewart cradles the phone without making a noise.

He looks up towards Welles’ bedroom.

 

INT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - WELLES’ BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS

Welles sits down at the desk, and snaps on the lamp.

He rolls a sheet of white paper into his manual typewriter and begins to type.

It sounds like music.

 

INT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - STAIRWAY LANDING - CONTINUOUS

Stewart looks at Williams.

WILLIAMS
That’s it.

Stewart nods towards the phone on the small side table in the front reception.

STEWART
He just said, uh, ‘This is your friend, don’t forget to tell me how your mother is.’ And then he hung up.

Stewart looks up to Welles’ bedroom, tries to smile.

STEWART
When I saw him next, I knew he was dead.
WILLIAMS
Sentimental fellow, aren’t you?

Stewart shrugs.

STEWART
Hmmm, yes and no.
WILLIAMS
Well, that isn’t worth ten thousand dollars.

Williams walks down the stairs.

STEWART
You can keep asking questions if you want.

 

INT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - FRONT RECEPTION - CONTINUOUS

WILLIAMS
We’re leaving tonight, as soon as we’re through.

PHOTOGRAPHER pops a flash as he snap a shot. Stewart follows Williams into the living room.

 

INT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

STEWART
Allow yourself plenty of time. The traffic these days is hell.

Williams’ Cameraman and Sound Guy are packing up their gear. Williams looks at the Removalists carting away the last of the boxes.

REMOVALIST
He sure liked to work.
STEWART
A regular crow, huh?
WILLIAMS
All that’s missing are the jigsaw puzzles.
SOUND GUY
Did you ever find his last words?
WILLIAMS
No, I didn’t.

Cameraman folds up his tripod.

CAMERAMAN
I bet that would have explained everything.
WILLIAMS
I don’t think so.

Williams readies to leave.

WILLIAMS
Orson Welles was a man who got everything he wanted, and then wanted more. He overcame himself.

Sound Guy closes the lid on his recording equipment.

WILLIAMS
Maybe his last words were a tragedy, or a comedy. Anyway, they wouldn’t have explained anything.

Williams looks around the empty house.

WILLIAMS
I don’t think any words can explain a man’s life.

Move up as Williams begins to leave. Crews and Television Reporters are leaving, along with the last Removalists.

 

INT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - FRONT RECEPTION - CONTINUOUS

Williams leaves with his Cameraman and Sound Guy.

 

INT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - STAIRWAY - CONTINUOUS

Float up the stairway, up through the shadows.

 

INT. 1985 - HOLLYWOOD HILLS - 1717 NORTH STANLEY AVENUE - WELLES’ BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS

A breeze breathes through the curtains. Ripples across his desk.

Lifts the top sheet of paper on the stack of script pages.

It flips and turns and lands face up. It’s the last page of the “Caesar” script Welles was working on when he died. Drift in to the final lines of dialogue.

ANTONY
This was the noblest Roman of them all. He only, in general honest thought and common good to all, made one of them. His life was gentle, and the elements so mix’d in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This was a man!’

Under that are typed just two words.

The End

 

 


Bio

Stefano Boscutti is an award-winning writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Stefano is also a highly experienced creative consultant specialising in world-changing creative projects and campaigns for Ford, Foxtel, Lexus, Porsche, Qantas, SBS, Warner Bros. and more. McKinsey & Co? Not after the consultancy’s role in helping Saudi Arabia target online critics. Questions? Email stef@boscutti.com

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