Written by Robert Riskin

based on a story by Richard Connell and Robert Presnell

Ext. Bulletin Office - Sidewalk.

Close-up: Of a time-worn plaque against

the side of a building. It reads:


"A free press for a free people."

While we read this, a pair of hands

come in holding pneumatic chisel which

immediately attacks the sign. As the

lettering is being obliterated,

Dissolve to: Close-up: A new plaque

on which the lettering has been changed



"A streamlined newspaper for a streamlined


Cut to: Int. Bulletin outer office.

Full shot: Of a mid-western newspaper


Med. shot: At a door at which a sign-painter

works. He is painting HENRY CONNELL's

name on the door. It opens and a flip

office boy emerges. The painter has

to wait until the door closes in order

to resume his work.

Full shot: Of the outer office. The

activity of the office seems to suddenly

cease, as all eyes are centered on the

office boy.

Med. shot—panning: With the office boy—who

has a small sheet of paper in his hand.

He walks jauntily to a desk, refers

to his paper, points his finger to a

woman, emits a short whistle through

his teeth, runs a finger across his

throat and jerks his thumb toward managing

editor's office. The woman stares starkly

at him while her immediate neighbors

look on with sympathy. The office boy

now goes through the same procedure

with several other people. All watch

him, terror written in their eyes.

Med. shot: Toward CONNELL's office door

where painter works. It opens and three

people emerge. Two men and a girl. The

girl is young and pretty. All three

look dourful. The painter again has

to wait for the door to shut before

resuming his work. The two men exit.

The girl suddenly stops.

Close shot: Of the girl. Her name is

ANN MITCHELL. She stands, thinking,

and then suddenly, impulsively, wheels

around. Camera pans with her as she

returns to CONNELL's office door, flings

it open and disappears. The painter

remains poised with his brush, waiting

for the door to swing back. There is

a slight flash of resentment in his


Int. CONNELL's office. Full shot: CONNELL

is behind his desk on which is a tray

of sandwiches and a glass of milk, half

gone. Near him sits POP DWYER, another

veteran newspaperman. ANN crosses to

CONNELL's desk.


(on phone)

Yeh, D. B. Oh, just cleaning out the

dead-wood. Okay.

? 580 ?



Look, Mr. Connell . . . I just can't

afford to be without work right now,

not even for a day. I've got a mother

and two kid sisters to . . .

Secretary enters. (Her name is Mattie.)


More good luck telegrams.


Well, you know how it is, I, I've just

got to keep working. See?


Sorry, sister. I was sent down here

to clean house. I told yuh I can't use

your column any more. It's lavender

and old lace![1]

(flicks dictograph button)


(over dictograph)



Send those other people in.


(over dictograph)



I'll tell you what I'll do. I get thirty

dollars a week. I'll take twenty-five,

twenty if necessary. I'll do anything

you say.


It isn't the money. We're after circulation.

What we need is fireworks. People who

can hit with sledge hammers—start arguments.


Oh, I can do that. I know this town

inside out. Oh, give me a chance, please.

She can get no further, for several

people enter. They are cowed and frightened.

ANN hesitates a moment, then, there

being nothing for her to do, she starts

to exit. She is stopped by CONNELL's



All right, come in, come in! Come in!

(to Ann)

Cashier's got your check.

(back to others)

Who are these people? Gibbs, Frowley,

Cunningham, Jiles—

(to Ann at door)

Hey, you, sister!

Ann turns.

? 581 ?


Don't forget to get out your last column

before you pick up your check!

ANN's eyes flash angrily as she exits.

Int. Outer Office. Med. shot: ANN storms

out. The painter again has to wait for

the door to swing back to him.

Int. ANN's office. Full shot: ANN enters

her office and paces around, furious.

A man in alpaca sleeve-bands enters.

His name is JOE.


You're a couple o' sticks[2] shy in

your column, Ann.


(ignores him, muttering . . .)

A big, rich slob like D. B. Norton buys

a paper—and forty heads are chopped



Did you get it, too?


Yeah. You, too? Oh, Joe . . . oh, I'm

sorry darling . . . why don't we tear

the building down!


Before you do, Ann, perhaps you'd better

finish this column.


Yeah. Lavender and old lace!

Suddenly she stops pacing. Her eyes

widen as a fiendish idea strikes her.


Wait, Joe—wait!

She flops down in front of her typewriter.



Wants fireworks, huh? Okay!

She begins to pound furiously, her jaw


Close-up: Of ANN. Eyes flashing as she


Close-up: Of JOE, watching her. The

wild look in her eye and the unnatural

speed of her typing causes him to stare

dumbly at her.

Med. shot: ANN bangs away madly. Finally

she finishes. She whips the sheet out

of the typewriter, hands it to JOE.



As JOE takes it, ANN begins to empty

the drawers of her desk.

Close-up: Of JOE reading what ANN has


? 582 ?



"Below is a letter which reached my

desk this morning. It's a commentary

on what we laughingly call the civilized

world. 'Dear Miss Mitchell: Four years

ago I was fired out of my job. Since

then I haven't been able to get another

one. At first I was sore at the state

administration because it's on account

of the slimy politics here we have all

this unemployment. But in looking around,

it seems the whole world's going to

pot, so in protest I'm going to commit

suicide by jumping off the City Hall

roof!' Signed, A disgusted American

citizen, John Doe.'"

JOE pauses to absorb this.


(continues reading)

"Editor's note . . . If you ask this

column, the wrong people are jumping

off roofs."

JOE glances up toward ANN, in mild protest.


Hey, Ann, this is the old fakeroo, isn't


Full shot: ANN has just about accumulated

all her things. JOE stares at her, knowing

it's a fake.


Never mind that, Joe. Go ahead.

JOE shrugs, shakes his head, and exits.

ANN stuffs her things under her arm

and also goes.

Int. Outer office: Med. shot: Voices

ad lib—"Awfully sorry you're not going."

"Good-bye." (Laughing)

ANN comes out. Suddenly, she stops,

gets another idea, picks up a book from

a desk, and reaches back to heave it.

Med. shot: At CONNELL's office door.

The sign-painter has just finished CONNELL's

name, and as he leans back, pleased,

wiping his brushes, the book flies in.

The painter lifts his head slowly, his

wrath too great to find utterance.

Dissolve to: Int. GOVERNOR JACKSON's

office: Close-up: Of two of GOVERNOR'S



(reading newspaper)

" . . . and it's because of the slimy

politics that we have all this unemployment



There it is! That's D. B. Norton's opening

attack on the Governor!


Why Jim, it's just a letter sent in

to a column.


No, no. I can smell it. That's Norton!

While he speaks, the GOVERNOR has entered.

? 583 ?


Good morning, gentlemen. You're rather



'Morning. 'Morning, Governor.


You're here rather early.


(pushes paper over to him)


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