Charles Brackett

Billy Wilder

D.M. Marshman, Jr.

March 21,1949


A-l-4 START the picture with the actual street sign:

SUNSET BOULEVARD, stencilled on a curbstope.

In the gutter lie dead leaves, scraps of paper,

burnt matches and cigarette butts. It is early


Now the CAMERA leaves the sign and MOVES EAST, the

grey asphalt of the street filling the screen. As

speed accelerates to around 40 m.p.h., traffic de-

marcations, white arrows, speed-limit warnings, man-

hole covers, etc., flash by. SUPERIMPOSED on all

this are the CREDIT TITLES, in the stencilled style

of the street sign.

Over the scene we now hear MAN'S VOICE

sirens. Police squad cars Yes, this is Sunset

hurtle toward the camera, Boulevard, Los Angeles,

turn off the road into a California. It's about

driveway with squealing five o'clock in the

brakes. Dismounted motor- morning. That's the

cycle cops stand directing Homicide Squad, com-

the cars in. plete with detectives

and newspaper men.

A-5 PATIO AND POOL OF A murder has been re-

MANSION ported from one of those

great big houses in the

The policemen and news- ten thousand block.

paper reporters and You'll read all about

photographers have it in the late editions,

jumped out of the cars I'm sure. You'll get

and are running up to it over your radio,

the pool, in which a and see it on tele-

body is seen floating. vision -- because an

Photographers' bulbs old-time star is in-

flash in rapid suc- volved. one of the big-

cession. gest. But before you

hear it all distorted

and blown out of

proportion, before those

Hollywood columnists

get their hands on it,

maybe you'd like to

hear the facts, the

whole truth...



Angle up through the If so, you've come to the

water from the bottom right party... You see,

of the pool, as the the body of a young man

body floats face down- was found floating in the

ward. It is a well- pool of her mansion, with

dressed young man. two shots in his back and

one in his stomach. No-

body important, really.

Just a movie writer with

a couple of "B" pictures

to his credit. The poor

dope. He always wanted a

pool Well, in the end

he got himself a pool --

SLOW DISSOLVE TO: only the price turned out

to be a little high...

Let's go back about six

A-7 HOLLYWOOD, SEEN FROM months and find the day

THE HILLTOP AT IVAR when it all started.


It is a crisp sunny I was living in an

day. The voice con- apartment house above

tinues speaking as Franklin and Ivar.

CAMERA PANS toward Things were tough

the ALTO NIDO APART- at the moment. I hadn't

MENT HOUSE, an ugly worked in a studio for

Moorish structure ofsat a long time. So I

stucco, about four there grinding

stories high. CAMERA out original stories,

MOVES TOWARD AN OPEN two a week. Only I

WINDOW on the third seemed to have lost

floor, where we look my touch. Maybe they

in on JOE GILLIS' APART- weren't original

MENT. Joe Gillis, bare- enough. Maybe they

footed and wearing no- were too original.

thing but an old bath- All I know is they

robe. is sitting on didn't sell.

the bed. In front of

him. on a straight

chair, is a portable

typewriter. Beside

him, on the bed, is a

dirty ashtray and a

scattering of type

written and pencil-

marked pages. Gillis

is typing. with a

pencil clenched bet-

ween his teeth.


It is a one-room affair with an unmade Murphy bed

pulled out of the wall at which Gillis sits typing.

There are a couple of worn-out plush chairs and a

Spanish-style, wrought-iron standing lamp. Also a

small desk littered with books and letters, and a

chest of drawers with a portable phonograph and some

records on top. On the walls are a couple of repro-

ductions of characterless paintings, with laundry

bills and snapshots stuck in the frames. Through an

archway can he seen a tiny kitchenette, complete with

unwashed coffee pot and cup, empty tin cans, orange

peels, etc. The effect is dingy and cheerless --

just another furnished apartment. The buzzer SOUNDS.



The buzzer SOUNDS again. Gillis gets up and opens

the door. Two men wearing hats stand outside one of

them carrying a briefcase.

NO. 1

Joseph C. Gillis?


That's right.

The men ease into the room. No. 1 hands Gillis a

business card.

NO. 1

We've come for the car.


What car?

NO. 2

(Consulting a paper)

1946 Plymouth convertible. Calif-

ornia license 97 N 567.

NO. 1

Where are the keys?


Why should I give you the keys?

NO. 1

Because the company's played ball

with you long enough. Because

you're three payments behind. And

because we've got a Court order.

Come on -- the keys.

NO. 2

Or do you want us to jack it up

and haul it away?


Relax, fans. The car isn't here.

NO. 1

Is that So?


I lent it to a friend of mine.

He took it up to Palm Springs.

NO. 1

Had to get away for his health,

I suppose.


You don't believe me? Look in

the garage.

NO. 1

Sure we believe you, only now we

want you to believe us. That car

better be back here by noon tomorrow,

or there's going to be fireworks.


You say the cutest things.

The men leave. Gillis GILLIS' VOICE

stands pondering beside Well, I needed about two

the door for a moment. hundred and ninety dollars

Then he walks to the and I needed it real

center of the room and, quick, or I'd lose my car.

with his back to the It wasn't in Palm Springs

CAMERA, slips into a and it wasn't in the

pair of gray slacks. garage. I was way ahead

There is a metallic of the finance company.

noise as some loose

change and keys drop

from the trouser pockets.

As Gillis bends over to

pick them up, we see that

he has dropped the car

keys, identifiable be-

cause of a rabbit's

foot and a miniature

license plate attached

to the key-ring. Gillis

pockets the keys and as

he starts to put on a





I knew they'd be coming

A small shack-like build- around and I wasn't tak-

ing, it stands in the ing any chances, so I

corner of a public park- kept it a couple of

ing lot. Rudy, a blocks away in a parking

colored boy, is giving lot behind Rudy's Shoe-

a customer a shine. shine Parlor. Rudy

never asked any quest-

ions. He'd just look at

your heels and know the


PAN BEHIND the shack to GILLIS' CAR, a yellow 1946

Plymouth convertible with the top down. Gillis enters

the SHOT. He is wearing a tweed sport jacket, a tan

polo shirt, and moooasins. He steps into the car and

drives it off. Rudy winks after him.



I had an original story

Gillis drives into the kicking around Paranount.

alley and parks his car My agent told me it was

right behind a delivery dead as a doornail. but

truck. PAN AND FOLLOW I knew a big shot over

HIM as he gets out, walks there who'd always liked

around the corner into me, and the time had

Bronson and then toward come to take a little

the towering main gate of advantage of it. His

Paramount. A few loafers, name was Sheldrake. He

studio cops and extras are was a smart producer,

lounging there. with a set of ulcers to

prove it.



It is in the style of a Paramount executive's office --

mahogany, leather, and a little chintz. On the

walls are some large framed photographs of Paramount

stars, with dedications to Mr. Sheldrake. Also a

couple of framed critics' awards certificates, and an

Oscar on a bookshelf. A shooting schedule chart is

thumb-tacked into a large bulletin board. There are

piles or scripts, a few pipes and, somewhere in the

background, some set models.

Start on Sheldrake. He is about 45. Behind his wor-

ried face there hides a coated tongue. He is en-

gaged in changing the stained rilter cigarette in

his Zeus holder.


All right, Gillis. You've got

five minutes. What's your story



It's about a ball player, a rookie

shortstop that's batting 347. The

poor kid was once mixed up in a hold-

up. But he's trying to go straight --

except there's a bunch of gamblers

who won't let him.


So they tell the kid to throw the

World Series, or else, huh?


More or less. Only for the end

I've got a gimmick that's real good.

A secretary enters, carrying a glass or milk.

She opens a drawer and takes out a bottle of pills for



Got a title?


Bases Loaded. There's a 4O-page



(To the secretary)

Get the Readers' Department and

see what they have on Bases Loaded.

The secretary exits. Sheldrake takes a pill and

washes it down with some milk.


They're pretty hot about it

over at Twentieth, but I

think Zanuck's all wet. Can

you see Ty Power as a

GILLIS (cont'd)

shortstop? You've got the best

man for it right here on this lot.

Alan Ladd. Good change of pace for

Alan Ladd. There's another thing:

it's pretty simple to shoot. Lot

of outdoor stuff. Bet you could

make the whole thing for under a

million. And there's a great little

part for Bill Demarest. One of the

trainers, an oldtime player who

got beaned and goes out of his head


The door opens and Betty Schaefer enters -- a clean-

cut, nice looking girl of 21, with a bright, alert

manner. Dressed in tweed skirt, Brooks sweater and

pearls, and carrying a folder of papers. She puts

them on Sheldrake's desk, not noticing Gillis, who

stands near the door.


Hello, Mr. Sheldrake. On that Bases

Loaded. I covered it with a 2-page


(She holds it out)

But I wouldn't bother.


What's wrong with it?


It's from hunger.


Nothing for Ladd?


Just a rehash of something that

wasn't very good to begin with.


I'm sure you'll be glad to meet

Mr. Gillis. He wrote it.

Betty turns towards Gillis, embarrassed.


This is Miss Kramer.


Schaefer. Betty Schaefer. And

right now I wish I could crawl

into a hole and pull it in after



If I could be of any help...


I'm sorry, Mr. Gillis, but I

just don't think it's any good.

I found it flat and banal.


Exactly what kind of material do

you recommend? James Joyce?



Name dropper.


I just think pictures should say

a little something.


Oh, you're one of the message

kids. Just a story won't do.

You'd have turned down Gone With the



No, that was me. I said, Who

wants to see a Civil War picture?


Perhaps the reason I hated Bases

Loaded is that I knew your name.

I'd always heard you had some



That was last year. This year

I'm trying to earn a living.


So you take Plot 27-A, make it

glossy, make it slick --


Carefull Those are dirty words!

You sound like a bunch of New

York critics. Thank you, Miss



Goodbye, Mr. Gillis.


Goodbye. Next time I'll write

The Naked and the Dead.

Betty leaves.


Well, seems like Zanuck's got

himself a baseball picture.


Mr. Sheldrake, I don't want you

to think I thought this was going

to win any Academy Award.


(His mind free-wheeling)

Of course, we're always looking

for a Betty Hutton. Do you see

it as a Betty Hutton?


Frankly, no.


(Amusing himself)

Now wait a minute. If we made

it a girls' softball team, put

in a few numbers. Might make a

cute musical: It Happened in

the Bull Pen -- the story of a



You trying to be funny? -- because

I'm all out of laughs. I'm over a<


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