City Hall

Directed by

Harold Becker

Scene 1: Fortune [scene runs for the first minute and five seconds of the film.]

The voice in this opening scene is that of Kevin Calhoun, deputy Mayor of New York City, also known as the Mayor's boy.

Kevin: New York City -- so many things have been said about it. But there's only one I really like. "New York, it can destroy you or fulfill you depending a good deal on luck."

Scene 2: Deal Making [scene runs from 34:30 to 37:26. For those with DVDs it begins one and half minutes in to ch. 9.]

The Mayor of New York attends a musical and makes a point of meeting party boss and old acquaintance Frank Anselmo in the lobby of the theater.

Frank: We're missing the best part.

Mayor: Well, you know it by heart anyway. I saw you lip synching.

Frank: Well, lucky I do. I couldn't hear all the words. I mean I don't know if it's my old ears or the subway running underneath. Did you like the Billy Bigelow?

Mayor: He's good. Good voice. What did you think of the Julie Jordan?

Frank: Good act, no voice. My Neddie can sing better. You know we met twenty-five years ago, Westbury Musical¼

Mayor: I heard about that.

Frank: Yeah?

Mayor: Speaking of performances, Frank, I don't want to hear about another one like that one you gave this morning.

Frank: Your boy embarrassed me.

Mayor: You're gonna have to live with it.

Frank: Why?

Mayor: Because he's my boy.

Frank: Ha.

Mayor: There is oil under that vacant lot, Frank. Jobs.

Frank: You don't need to politic me. I run King's county.

Mayor: Jobs for people of the city, Frank, lot leases for Lenny, Laska, Murray, Saphire, all your greedy bastards.

Frank: What's happening here, John? Just 'cause this kid thinks he's gonna elect you president, you're gonna forget who got you here?

Mayor: I don't forget anything. You're developing a very short memory, or a very selective one. You want me to refresh it for you?

Frank: I'm sorry John.

Mayor: Here it is: the off-ramp cost me five million, another thirty-five million for the subway stop. Now, you're gonna get three and a half from me. The rest, I'm gonna have to go beg Albany. Now, I've got better things to beg for from Albany.

Frank: I've got a solution. How about a spur off the Carnarsie line.

Mayor: Are you crazy? A spur is a hundred and twenty million. Bank exchange is good for the poor. It's good for the jobless. It's good for the whole goddamn city. As for subway stops, infrastructure, off ramps - we can't afford them.

Frank: Then you're gonna have to forget the whole thing. I love the second act opener.

Mayor: Good then you're not gonna want to miss it.

Frank: This was a real nice clam bake.

Mayor: taking Anselmo by the arm: I'm building up my IOU's with Albany. Next year the Governor is gonna have to step up with a new subway stop or I won't support him for reelection.

Frank: And the off ramp?

Mayor: Next year. It's already factored into the budget.

Frank: Next year is too far away.

Mayor: You're only a boss Frank, I'm the ****ing mayor. Mayors rule. Bank exchange -- my way or the highway.

Frank: Why do I get the feeling you're getting the bigger half?

Mayor: Let me ask you something, if I'd have offered you less, would you have been polite and taken it?

Frank: Of course.

Mayor: You got what you wanted. They laugh. Mayor leans over, whispers something in Anselmo's ear, and kisses his cheek.

Scene 3: Menschkite [scene runs from 47:32 to 48:55. For those with DVDs. It occurs during the last minute and a half of ch. 12.]

In this scene a distinguished Judge has been implicated in some wrongdoing. The judge is a friend of the Mayor.

Kevin: You read this? Today's Times' editorial?

Mayor: Yes.

Kevin: reading, Judged or be judged.

Mayor: Yes.

Kevin: He reads: Notwithstanding Judge Stern's distinguished record, one must ask the question, "Would he be on the bench if he were not a former law partner of the mayor's?"

Mayor: Oh! I didn't appoint him. He was nominated like everybody else.

Kevin: Sure, but everybody knows the party arranges the nomination of judges.

Mayor: Whose side are you on?

Kevin: I'm on yours, and I always will be. But I smell a hanging party. I think we should put a little bit of distance between ourselves and Walter Stern.

Mayor: Distance. Distance is something you do to your enemies. It's a thing of the nineties to make friends extinct. Distance is the absence of Menschkite.

Kevin: Translate that for me.

Mayor: You don't know what Menschkite means?

Kevin: Nope, I don't.

Mayor: Menschkite, you know, something between men. It's about honor, character. Untranslatable -- that's why it's Yiddish.

Kevin: I didn't know you'd taken up the language.

Mayor: Abe laid it on me.

Kevin: Abe's a good man.

Mayor: You're a good man, Pappy. Underneath that Louisiana cane syrup, plain red dirt. Not all that different from the pavements of Astoria where I come from. You and me are sticking by Judge Walter Stern.

Scene 4: Politics is a disease [scene runs from 1:11:09 to 1:13;51. For those with DVDs, it occurs one minute into ch. 19.]

Mary Beth is the lawyer for Elaine Santos, the wife of a good cop who was killed in the line of duty. The circumstances surrounding his death, and the death of an innocent six-year-old boy, implicate that officer in some wrongdoing. It is this same scandal that has raised suspicion about Walter Stern, the judge whom the Mayor insists Kevin and he stick by. Mary Beth and Kevin have found a witness who could clear the name of the deceased cop, Eddie Santos. They have interviewed him where he works in upstate New York, and stop at a diner on the way back to NYC.

Kevin: It's like a sauna in here.

Mary Beth: For you maybe, my toes are like icicles.

Kevin: Warming up?

Mary Beth: Slowly.

Waitress: What'll it be?

Mary Beth: Oh, um, I'll have Burger, fries and a coke.

Kevin: How is the lemon pudding?

Waitress: Home made.

Kevin: I'll give it a shot. Everything to go.

Mary Beth: Hey, why is this called The Floyd Diner, instead of Floyd's Diner?

Waitress: Because you're in Floyd New York, miss.

Mary Beth: Who'd have thunk it? Floyd, New York. Like Clyde, New Jersey. Can you imagine spending your entire life in a place like this?

Kevin: I can. I grew up in one. Ferriday, Louisiana. There is something special about small town life.

Mary Beth: So then, what are you doing in New York?

Kevin: Well, you know, every Louisiana boy catches politics like a disease?

Mary Beth: No, I didn't know that.

Kevin: That's a fact, and I was no exception. So after law school, I headed where else?

Mary Beth: Floyd, New York.

Kevin: Washington. Leaped back and forth from committee staffer to Congressional Assistant until the Mayor of New York City came down to testify. And he gave a speech that day on the floor, I remember, that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I went up to him afterwards and told him I admired him and what he stood for, and while I was thanking him he asked me if I liked stone crabs. Half way through dinner I had a new job, at the end of dinner, I felt like I had a new home.

Mary Beth: And here we go.

Kevin: All right, I hear the curve in your voice. Let me tell you something, I've been with John Pappas for three years. I finally found a place in government where, you'll pardon the expression, you can make a difference.

Mary Beth: Well, you did. You did. You certainly made a difference to Elaine Santos. You found Wakely. We'll clear Eddie's name, get them their pension.

Kevin: Yeah, but not so fast. We've got to keep Wakely on ice until I find that report.

Mary Beth: But, we don't need the report. Just take Wakely's deposition.

Kevin: No that's all you need. I've got to get that report. See what is on it. See where it leads.

Mary Beth: But, what if, while you're playing detective, James Wakely suddenly decides it would be healthier to just disappear? Then we're left with nothing. How's Elaine Santos supposed to feed her kids?

Kevin: That's a risk we're gonna have to take.

Mary Beth: That's a risk you're gonna have to take, because, I don't need you to get Wakely's deposition.

Kevin: If you insist on talking to James Wakely on your own, I guarantee you, you will feel the full weight of the mayor's office bearing down upon you. It's not a pleasant feeling.

Mary Beth: You're a mean prick, you know that?

Kevin: Where I come from that's a compliment. Mary Beth gets up to go. Hold on a minute.

Mary Beth: To what? Your ambition? John Pappas's coattails? I'll take these and the mayor's boy gets a lemon pudding.

Scene 5: Menschkite, revisited [scene occurs from 1:33:30 to 1:42:44. For those with DVDs, it begins a half minute into ch. 26 and runs through ch. 28.]

Mayor: Where have you been? I was looking for you a half and hour ago.

Kevin: Trying to get through to Senator Marquand.

Mayor: Well, he got through to me.

Kevin: Yeah?

Mayor: They're moving the convention to Miami.

Kevin: Miami, why?

Mayor: They like Miami. They like Miami, lots of glamour. You got Whoppie Goldberg, Madonna, just bought houses in South Beach. Who knows, maybe we can nominate them.

Kevin: I thought it was all cut.

Mayor: Cut, not cut. Politics, Pappy, nothing's cut.

Kevin: Where you going?

Mayor: To pay my respects to Nettie Anselmo.

Kevin: Do you think that is wise?

Mayor: What's wise got to do with it?

Kevin: Because the perception's going to be

Mayor: Oh, **** perception. Perception. I'm talking Menschkeit. Stuff between men. You know, the "there," that's there. The thousand telephone calls, the bouquets, and the brick bats. The space between a handshake. You know. The stuff that goes with you to your grave.

Kevin: There's space between a handshake for right and wrong?

Mayor: Why are you pressing me tonight? What's up?

Kevin: I'm looking for an answer.

Mayor: You want an answer? OK, Pappy. Think of it as colors. There's black and white and in between is mostly gray. That's us. Now gray is a tough color, because it's not as simple as black and white. And, for the media, it is certainly not as interesting. But, it's who we are.

Kevin: What are you going to do now?

Mayor: You mean "we"? We are going to fight these sons of bitches, we're going to come out swinging. We're gonna tell them, "hey, we're only human, everybody makes mistakes. Frank Anselmo is dead, he was a friend; but the last of the clubhouse bosses is gone." We're gonna clean up the Augean stables. We're gonna show up in Miami, have them on their knees, begging me to make the keynote speech.

Kevin: And then?

Mayor: A short sojourn in Albany, followed by a long one at the White House.

Kevin: If I didn't know better, I'd be bursting with admiration. I thought I'd come here and find you on your knees, instead you're ready to turn adversity into triumph.

Mayor: Oh. That's just a reflex, an old habit of mine. But it's good to hear you say it -- the way you say it too -- adversity into triumph. It's good to know you still believe in me.

Kevin: Did I say that?

Mayor: I don't know, that's why¼ I thought you did. Don't fathers listen to their sons? How is your father these days? I haven't heard you mention him for quite a while. Where is he?

Kevin: He's in a nursing home in Crowley, Louisiana. Plays dominos with orderlies. Fulminates over his cream of wheat.

Mayor: Don't be too hard on him. We can't dictate our finishes you know.

Kevin: I don't like the sound of that.

Mayor: Of course you don't. Because, underneath all that need to believe, under all the concrete you poured into my pedestal, something is crying to get out.

Kevin: What?

Mayor: You know I called Judge Walter Stern.

Kevin: Yes.

Mayor: Anselmo called me. I knew the Mafioso had called him, but in this business you don't trade names. And I called Walter. That was all there was to it. I was doing Anselmo a favor. I've run caution lights all my life.

Kevin: This time you ran red. And someone cut across the intersection. A cop and and six-year old child.

Mayor: That's with me forever.

Kevin: That's not good enough.

Mayor: Not good enough, you think I don't know that?

Kevin: I hope so, John.

Mayor: It scares me when you call me John.

Kevin: Yeah, why is that?

Mayor: Because I thought a minute ago we were off to the White House. And I thought I could feel you come aboard. You know, that old Menschkeit.

Kevin: Horseshit. Menschkeit is horse shit. It's a hundred and twenty years of graft, and sweetheart contracts, and feather beds, and inside information, and golden parachutes, and everywhere people in power gather up to carve up the turf. That's your Menschkeit. It's horse shit. And you know where you can put it. Maybe spread it out all over the fields. If we cross our fingers, get a little rain, maybe a flower will grow.

Mayor: It has. Out of all this crap, you emerged. You're the only voter I ever cared about.

Kevin: I'm getting that old con feeling, John, like you're copping a plea.

Mayor: No plea. I'm just a pol who kept rolling along until I ran into a stone wall. And you were that wall. Just like me when I was a kid -- young, ambitious, go-getter, but fair; trading up of course, but always the right causes; you're doing good, not putting money in your pocket, you're just trying to maintain your position, your power, because what good are you to the people without it? But down deep, you know there's a line you can't cross. After a thousand trades, one deal too many, the line gets rubbed out. I had the fire in the belly just like you, Kevin. And the odd thing is I still have it, it never left me. I had the dream. And I had the weight.. Like one of those guys before me said, if a sparrow dies in Central Park, I feel responsible. Well said. I feel that way. And I was going to take that feeling with me all the way to Washington.

Kevin: The things you could have done.

Mayor: ****ing things I could have done.

Kevin: You're gonna take yourself out, John. You're gonna take yourself out. Take a long vacation in Greece. Pick up the law again. Go the way of William O'Dwyer, he ****ed up and played ambassador to Mexico.

Mayor: I'm not that ambitious.

Kevin: Then suck it up and find some other way.

Mayor: Listen to you. I thought I'd see a boy's tears.

Kevin: The tears are there. You just can't see them right now. (Mayor approaches Kevin, and hugs him.]

Mayor: You got the stuff, Pappy. I love to see it in a guy.

City Hall Questions

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