"TOWN AND COUNTRY"
(Working Title: "Pa's Day Out")
A Screenplay Treatment
by Marvin Arnold
It is an early fall morning. The sun is coming up over the rolling countryside. The sun silhouettes a typical midwestern farmhouse, barnyard and a windmill. The sound of birds chirping and a rooster crowing can be heard in the distance. As we approach the farmhouse, the screen door slams behind a tall, lean man named Chev Case (Pa, to his wife). He's an average to poor American dirt farmer trying to eke a living out of his farm. Chev walks out onto the front porch, pulling his bib overhaul strap over his shoulder with one hand and juggles a cup of hot coffee with the other. A woman's voice from the kitchen howlers that breakfast is almost ready. It is the voice of Goldie (so nicknamed because of her long golden hair which she usually wears up in a bun). She is a nice looking, middle-aged lady who, except for a few telling hard years, has held up well.
Chev is looking over the porch rail and off into the distance toward his pasture land. Goldie, with no makeup on and looking rather plain in her flower print dress, comes through the screen door and stands beside Chev as she dries her hands on her apron. There is a short period of silence and Chev says that he thinks he will just take the day off and drive into town to pick up some supplies that he needs for the farm. They go into the house and at the breakfast table make small talk about the price of wheat and getting the old sow bred again. Chev talks about putting the old sow in the wheelbarrow about a month ago and wheeling her down to the next farm to be bred. He asks Goldie if she thought the old sow had took and was she ready to have a bunch of squealing piglets around the farm, again. Goldie replies that she is not sure if it took, but that the old sow has came up and sat by the wheelbarrow every morning this week. Chev laughs.
From the black top road, the Case farm is seen in the distance (telephoto). Coming down the dirt road from the farmhouse, in a cloud of dust, is Chev in his old beat up faded red pickup truck. As he turns onto the black top road, he is fiddling with the radio, trying to find his favorite country western station. He looks in his rear view mirror and sees a fat cat city slicker in a late model Mercedes sedan speeding up behind him. Chev has pulled right out in front of him. The city slicker lays on his horn as he pulls out and around Chev. The sedan barely misses the pickup. The Mercedes driver gives Chev the finger and vanishes over the next hill. Chev goes back to tuning his radio as he drives down the black top road toward town, listening to his country music station and disappears over the hill.
Chev drives into the small town of Centerville where people are going about their business up and down the main street. He waves at a few neighbors he sees and speaks to several passersby, calling them by name. Chev parks his pickup in front of Jo's Cafe. A couple of old men are seated on a bench in front of the Cafe. They ask him how things are going on the farm and how is Goldie. He replies that if he wins the lottery on Saturday night, he might be able to keep on farming for a couple more years and that Goldie is fine. As he walks off, someone yells asking, has that old sow had piglets yet.
Chev goes into the Cafe and orders a cup of coffee from Jo. She is a friendly fat lady in a print dress and lace apron and they exchange comments about the weather. He hears someone call his name and looks around to see some of his old cronies sitting at one of the tables. They tell him to come over, pull up a chair and shoot the breeze with them. As he walks away Jo yells, say Chev did that old sow of your ever have piglets. Chev doesn't reply as he pulls up a chair and his cronies all laugh.
Back at the Case farm, Goldie has finished the morning dishes. She walks out to her garden at the side of the house to pick string beans and comes back into the house. It is such a beautiful day that she decides to take the beans out on the porch and sits down in her rocker to snap the beans for supper. She is enjoying the quiet when she hears a roaring sound off in the distance that is growing louder and louder. Since it is such a beautiful sun shiny morning, she doesn't think it could be a storm approaching, so she wonders what in the world could be making such a noise.
Goldie stands up, looks around the corner of the porch and sees two helicopters coming up the back road to the farm. Underneath the choppers on the dirt road, is a fleet of trucks and vans coming towards the farmhouse in a cloud of dust. A loud noise overhead startles her and she looks up to see a large twin engine airplane, a DC-3, circling as if it is going to land in the cow pasture. The first helicopter rotates and land on her front yard. The second and larger chopper lands just behind the first. Goldie, standing on the front porch with the string bean pan still in her hands, watches all this in amazement.
The rotors from the choppers throw loose straw and grass into the air. As the rotors of the nearest chopper spin down, the side door flys open and three people jump out; a middle-aged movie director, a young female assistant and a young male assistant. A half dozen people get out of the second helicopter and start looking around the farm. The large twin-engine airplane has also touched down in the pasture and is taxiing up to the barbed-wire fence just the other side of the choppers. As the airplane swings around the airstair door opens and a dozen or so more men and women pile out. By this time, several large semi-trucks (Peterbuilts) and a couple of vans are pulling into the farmyard from off of the dirt road.
A small Jewish looking man with a Van Dyke beard and a heavy Yankee accent, approaches the front porch where Goldie is standing. She has a blank stare on her face and her mouth is hanging open. String beans are scattered all over the front porch. The man introduces himself as Speil Steinberg, the famous Hollywood director. He explains that he and his film crew are in the process of shooting a movie called "Her Majesty for a Day," which is the life story of a famous game show host named Billy Growler.
The director goes on to explain that they had made arrangements to film the scene where Billy goes to congratulate a farm wife who won the grand prize in the national "Her Majesty for a Day" contest on an Iowa farm. The problem, the director continues, is that the bank has foreclosed on the farm property which they were going to use, boarded it up and told the sheriff to run off any trespassers. So now they do not have a location on which to film those scenes. The movie company had given up and was headed back to Hollywood when the director spotted the Case farm from the helicopter. It's a perfect location, the director tells Goldie, and that they will pay her $10,000 if she will let them use her property for one day to film this key scene in the movie.
Goldie is quiet for a few minutes, wishing that Pa (Chev) were here so they could decide about this together. Turning to the director, she asks skeptically, can you pay that in cash? The director, throwing his arms in the air, says sure, sure, whatever it takes. Goldie says, okay then, we have a deal and reaches out with her right hand to shake on it. The director tells Goldie that he would appreciate it if she and any others on the farm would stay out of the way as things get pretty hectic during a shot. She assures him that she is the only one on the farm right now and she will not get in their way. Turning to the truck drivers, actors and crew which have now gathered in a large semicircle around them, Steinberg yells, set it up, we're go for a shoot. A loud cheer comes from the crowd as they turn to unload the trucks and begin setting up equipment.
The film's star, Britt Branson, who plays Billy Growler's part and a starlet, Darla Dimple, are seated in director's chairs, while chaos is going on around them everywhere. They are rehearsing in preparation for their up coming scene. Britt is a stereotypical Hollywood type (complete with scarf around neck), and Darla is a Goldie look-a-like in a short tight dress and spike heels, (the same actress as Goldie with a British accent). Commotion is everywhere as the scene is being set up and Goldie is pushed aside more than once. At one point, the young male director's assistant walks up to Goldie, taking her hand and places a large brown letter size envelope in it. She looks down at the envelope with a questioning stare. Then the young man, takes Goldie by both shoulders and moves her backwards as a loaded forklift passes by before he walks off. Goldie sneaks a look into the envelope that contains $10,000 in $100 bills. Looking both ways, as if someone might see her, she stuffs the envelope into her blouse under her apron.
Back in town at Jo's Cafe, Chev and his cronies are arguing over whose frog can jump the furthest. To settle the argument, Chev and his cronies head over to the park in the center of town for a frog jumping contest. A small crowd follows them. Dilbert Clinton, the town idiot, is being handed money to hold as bets are placed on which frog will win the contest. One of the fellows is devastated when his old fat frog refuses to jump at all and the other two land within inches of each other. After the race, Chev and his cronies are laughing and congratulating the winner as they head over to the pool hall to celebrate the occasion by having a beer or two. As the group saunters leisurely over to the pool hall, one of the fellows explains that Big Bertha, a milkmaid (very large gal) from over at the big dairy farm, has come to town to challenge Slick Willy, the town's number one pool shooter, to a game of eight ball.
Back at the farm, Steinberg, the casting director and the two assistants are in a huddle discussing the the fact that they do not have enough extras for the shot where the neighbors come over to the farmhouse to congratulate the winning contestant. The director tells his assistants to round up some grips, use a sound man and oh hell, go get ol' Mrs. Case too. She can make herself useful and she looks the part anyway.
Goldie, along with the rest of the volunteer extras, is taken to the wardrobe tent and is dressed in appropriate attire for the next scene. She tells the wardrobe girl that her own clothes are more appropriate than what they are putting on her, but remarks that it probably wouldn't be a good idea to tell a famous big time Hollywood director what she thinks. The wardrobe girl smiles and says, you got it right, honey. One of the extras comments about how much Goldie looks like Darla Dimple, the lead in the next scene. Some agree and some don't, but Goldie has a good laugh, as says that she aren't no painted lady.
As the actors and extras take their places, Darla says that she is feeling really bad and that it must have been something she had for breakfast. Britt leans over to another actor and remarks about how Darla could woof down the groceries when the movie company was buying the meals. Cameras roll and the big scene begins. Steinberg is feeling great as they are ahead of schedule. Then Darla tosses her cookies. The sound man laughs out loud and the cameraman chokes back a gag. One of the grips steps towards her and she falls into his arms and he carry her to one of the vans. The actors looks at each other as if to say, what else is going to go wrong in this movie.
Back in town, Big Bertha and Slick Willy are locked in the third round of an eight ball tournament at Duffy's Cocktail Bar & Pool Hall. After several spectacular bank shots by both Bertha and Slick, Bertha leans over the pool table to make a hard shot and the leg of the pool table and Bertha go through the rotten hardwood floor of the pool hall. Bertha, standing who is now standing in a two foot hole, throws her que stick at the laughing spectators. The contest ends with Duffy buying a round of beer for everyone, and Duffy wasn't known for being free with a nickel.
Chev sits down in an empty seat next to Lili, the town floozie, which was his first mistake. Before he knew it, Lili was trying to talk him into going over to her place for the afternoon. Excusing himself, he moves to a table where Zach and Abe are seated drinking their beers. For some reason, Zach and Abe always dress in army camouflage clothes and are never far from their rifles or shotguns. Chev has often thought it was odd the way they dressed and carried their guns even when it wasn't hunting season. His second mistake for the day was asking Zach and Abe why they dressed that way.
After a lengthy dissertation on the Constitution of the United States by Zach and with Abe agreeing with every sentence, they asked Chev if he wanted to join their local militia. Now they had gotten old Chev a little fired up with all their talk and the three beers didn't help his clear thinking at all, so he agreed to join. Abe and Zach show him the secret handshake and give him the code name, Captain Midnight. Heck, says Chev to himself, guess I'm pretty good at what we do, only been in this outfit for a couple of minutes and I'm already a captain. But later in the afternoon sunlight, he thought about the militia and decided that he had always been a good Democrat so probabely wouldn't try to attend any of their meetings, even if they had made him a captain.
Back at the farm, Steinberg is pacing back and forth yelling, what the hell are we going to do now. The makeup artist (a gay male dressed in black leather and chains) whispers something in Steinberg's ear. Steinberg starts looking around the crowd as if he is looking for someone. The makeup artist has told Steinberg that with his makeup expertise, he thinks he can produce a leading lady in the person of one Mrs. Case. Steinberg finds Goldie in the crowd and motions towards her. Tossing an open right hand in the air and says to the makeup artist, go for it; when your out of ideas, your out of ideas! Goldie is grabbed under each arm by the gay makeup artist and his female assistant (who has a multi- colored mohawk hairdo) and escorted to the makeup van. Goldie puts up a good fight and slaps at them as they work on her hair and makeup. She is not sure she wants to be in a film. The makeup girl convinces her that it will be fun, besides when else in her life is she ever going to get a chance to be a movie star.
Goldie emerges from the makeup van, absolutely gorgeous in the "Her Majesty For A Day" gown. The script girl coaches her in the scene as they walk, just read the que cards honey, she tells her. The scene begins and Billy Growler (Britt) is presenting the winner (Glodie) with a crown and tells her about all the prizes she has won. Goldie looks at the actor and asks, do you mean that I really get all these prizes? Cut, cut, the director yells, Mrs. Case the film is rolling and please only say the lines that are written on the cards in front of you. As he walks away, he turns and looks back at Goldie and says, and no, no you do not get the prizes, its all just make believe! Oh, says Goldie. By now she is starting to have a little more confidence. The dress and makeup helped. As the cameras start to roll, she comes out of her shell and really plays the scene to the hilt. Goldie is starting to get the hang of this acting thing.
Back in town, Chev stops by Clyde's Hardware and Feed store to pick up the things he needs back on the farm. Talking with Clyde about how he doesn't know where he is going to get the next mortgage payment for the farm as they load the supplies in the back of his old pickup truck. Chev waves good-bye to Clyde and drives off headed for the road out of town and back to the farm. On the drive home Chev goes over what all he is going to tell Goldie about the day. He sure ain't going to mention Lili and didn't think he would mention Zach and Abe either, but the rest of the day should make for the telling of a pretty good story.
Back at the farm, the director yells, it's a wrap. Booms come down, boxes are packed and truck are being loaded. The wardrobe girl removes Goldie's gown. She is standing there in her lingerie trying to cover herself with both arms, as the tent is taken down and hauled away. Someone walks by and hands her back her print dress and apron. She looks a little sad, but then remembers that Pa (Chev) should be headed home about now and hopes all of these people will be gone before he gets back.
The crew has folded up and loaded everything in sight. The doors on the last truck are slammed shut. The helicopter blades begin to spin and the noise increases as the trucks pull onto the dirt road and the helicopters lift off. The airplane is loaded and is rolling down the cow pasture for a lift-off. As the sun sinks lower on the horizon, the helicopters fly off in the opposite direction of Chev's pickup truck coming over the distant hill on the black top road. Chev turns onto the dirt road leading up to the farmhouse and pulls up in front of the house. He goes in excitedly with the screen door slamming behind him. Goldie, he yells, I've had the greatest day in town, you are not going to believe what all happened.
Goldie, who is finishing pinning up her hair in a bun, has washed off all the makeup and is beginning to prepare supper. Goldie asks Pa (Chev) to tell her all about his day in town and what happened that was so exciting. Chev tells Goldie all about the frog race and Big Bertha falling through the pool hall floor. Chev sets down at the table with his back to Goldie. She smiles as she pulls the envelope out from under her apron and places it in a cookie jar. Chev rattles on about his day in town and Goldie set his supper on the table.
A loud noise rattles the pane windows of the farm house and Chev says, what in tarnation was that anyway. Goldie says, I think it was those two helicopters that flew over the farmhouse earlier today, maybe they were just saying good-bye. Oh, Chev says matter-of-factly, they sure are noisy, aren't they and goes back to his supper. Goldie, standing over the stove, says that it sounds like you sure had one heck of an exciting day in town today. By the way, Chev asks, how did your day go, anything exciting happen on the farm? No, Goldie says, not much at all, at least nothing much worth talkin about.
Moving out of the farmhouse door and the picking up the setting
sun on the horizon, the two helicopters are flying low above the
trucks and vans on the road as they all disappear over the next hill.
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