Lone Star

Direction and Screenplay
by John Sayles


Scene 1: Learning About Where You Live [Scene begins at 00:00:39 and runs until 00:04:33 For those with DVDs, it begins 39 seconds into ch. 1.]

Two men, Cliff and Mikey, from the Army base, are collecting bullets from an old Army rifle range. They find a decayed body, a Masonic ring, and what turns out to be a Rio County Sheriff's badge. Cliff is an officer in the army, whom we will later see involved in a romantic relationship with a black woman Sergeant.

Cliff: We got cenizo, that's purple sage, agave, nopal, What's that stuff? Now that's, that's, that's whatchamacallit. That's horse crippler.

Mikey: This place is a gold mine.

Cliff: Lead mine.

Mikey: What?

Cliff: I said it's a lead mine.

Mikey: Right.

Cliff: I don't know why I'm talking to you. You've got that thing on your head.

Mikey: You finding lots of cactus and shit?

Cliff: Not just cactus. There's acacias, the yuccas--

Mikey: Looks like a lot of cactus to me.

Cliff: A man knows a hundred and fifty varieties of beer, can't tell a poinsettia from a prickly pear.

Mikey: Hey Cliff!

Cliff: You live in a place, you should learn something about it. Explore.

Mikey: Cliff, you've got to look at this.

Cliff: Don't tell me. Spanish treasure, right? Pieces of eight from the Coronado Expedition. (Walks down from where he was working to see what Mikey has found.) Jesus! (The camera moves to the ground, where there is a decayed skull. Mikey reaches down and picks up what appears to be a rock, but which turns out to be a ring with a Mason sign on it.)

Mikey: Was Coronado in the Masons?

Scene 2: Disagreements Over the Years [Scene begins at 00:16:20 and runs to 00:18:05. For those with DVDs, it occurs at the beginning of ch. 5.]

A racially mixed group of people are meeting in a classroom, town-meeting style. They are arguing over the school's history curriculum. The group is divided over how Texas history and their local history should be told. Specifically, there is a disagreement over whether the story should be told from the point of view of the winners--Texas and the United States, or from the point of view of the majority--the Mexicans. The teachers argue for n full presentation of the complexity of the story. There is a white man moderating.

First woman (from the textbook committee): Tearing everything down. Tearing down our heritage, tearing down the memory of people who fought and died for this land.

First man: We fought and died for this land, too. We fought the U.S. Army, the Texas Rangers--

Second man: Yeah, and you lost, buddy. Winners get the bragging rights. That's just the way it goes.

Moderator: People! People! It'd be best if we don't view this thing in terms of winners and losers.

First woman: Well, the way she teaches (pointing to a Mexican teacher off screen), she's got everything switched around. I was on the textbook committee, and her version is not–

Moderator: We think of the text book as a guide, not as an absolute.
First woman: It is not what we set as the standard. Now you people can believe whatever you want, but when it comes to teaching our children--

Second woman: They're our children, too. And as the majority in this community, we have the right.

Second man: The men who founded this state have the right-- the right to have their story told the way it happened, not the way somebody wanted it to happen.

Reporter: Eh. The men who founded this state broke from Mexico because they needed slavery to be legal to make a fortune in the cotton business.

Pilar (a Mexican teacher): I think that's a bit of an oversimplification.

Second man: (to the reporter) Are you reporting on this meeting, or are you running it now?

Reporter: Just adding some historical perspective.

Second man: Now you call it history; I call it propaganda. I'm sure they've got their own account of the Alamo on the other side. But we're not on the other side (noise of others trying to speak), and we shouldn't teach it that way.

Discussion becomes heated and several speak loudly and at the same time.

Pilar: Excuse me. I've only been trying to get across part of the complexity of our situation down here. Cultures coming together in both negative and positive ways.

First woman: If you're talking about food and music and all, I have no problem with that. But when you start changing (girl walks into the open doorway and overhears) who did what to who--

Another teacher: We're not changing anything; we're just trying to present a more complete picture. (The girl goes over to Pilar and speaks to her privately.)

First woman: And that's what got to stop!

Second teacher: There's enough ignorance in the world without us encouraging it in the classroom. (Pilar and the girl get up to go.)

First woman: Now who are you calling ignorant?

Scene 3: What You Mayors Do
[Scene begins at 00:27:03 and runs to 00:30:00. For those with DVDs, it is ch. 10.]

Hollis, the Rio County Mayor, is on his boat, which is still docked. He is baiting his hook, when Sam walks up to the dock. Sam is pursuing the mystery of who killed Charlie Wade, and Hollis, one of Wade's deputies, was one of the last men to see Charlie Wade alive. . According to Hollis' tale of Wade's disappearance, another deputy Buddy Deeds stood up to Wade the night he disappeared. Buddy Deeds, who was Sam's father, later became Sheriff. It has become clear that Sam suspects his father of Wade's murder. Hollis is concerned that Sam will make his suspicions public, because a public dedication in honor of Buddy Deeds is scheduled the next day.

Sam: Well, I always wondered what you mayors do when you're not cutting ribbons.

Hollis: Sam! Partner! You caught me playing hooky.

Sam: Yeah, floating around out here, playing hell with them bass.

Hollis: Sounds great! Where do I sign up? You been by your old place lately?

Sam: No.

Hollis: New people painted it some god-awful color.

Sam: Look, we found a body out by Fort McKenzie yesterday. It'd been there a long time.

Hollis: Was it Davy Crockett or Jim Bowie?

Sam: Eh. . . You recall if Charlie Wade was a Mason?

Hollis: Charlie? Yeah, I believe he used to go for Lodge meetings over to Laredo. What's Charlie Wade go to do with your body?

Sam: Well, all he was wearing was a big old Masonic ring and a Rio County Sheriff's badge. You remember anything else from that last night you saw him?

Hollis: Hell, I told the story enough times. We were just in the car. He was stewing about his fight with Buddy as we drove over to Roderick Bledsoe's.

Sam: Bledsoe?

Hollis: He owned the colored roadhouse before Otis.

Sam: He still living?

Hollis: No. I think his widow's still in their place in Darktown, though. You think it was Charlie Wade, huh?

Sam: Well, forensics people are sure of it. You got any idea who might have put him there? Besides my father, I mean.

Hollis: There's no call for that, Sam. Wade made himself a pile of enemies over the years.

Sam: Yeah, and Buddy was one of them.

Hollis: The dedication's tomorrow. It's a hell of a time to bring up old business.

Sam: Well, people have worked this whole big thing up around my father. If it's built on a crime, they deserve to know. I understand why you might want to believe he couldn't do it.

Hollis: I understand why you might want to think he could.

Sam: Thanks for your time, Hollis.

Hollis: Eh, look at all this, will ya? Tackle, boat, all just to catch a little old fish minding his own business down at the bottom of the lake. Hardly seems worth the effort, does it, Sam?

Scene 4: The Colonel and His Father [Scene begins at 00:49:54 and runs to 00:54:38. For those with DVDs, it is ch. 17.]

The scene opens at Otis's bar. The African-American Colonel, a recent transfer to Rio County, and Otis's estranged son, visits Otis regarding the incident in which one of his privates was involved. We have previously learned that the Colonel felt abandoned by Otis as a boy and intends to avoid contact with his father if possible. He arrives in uniform, giving every indication that his visit is on account of official business, and not personal. Music is playing.

Otis: Carolyn. Knock that off.

Colonel: (looking at a sign on a door) Black Seminoles?

Otis: Hobby of mine. A few artifacts, couple of pieces one of your men out on the base made. Admission's free.

Colonel: This is where he was shot? (Walking over in front of the bar, looking at the door.)

Otis: He fell right there by the door.

Colonel: You get much of that in here?

Otis: It's a bar. Folks come together, drink, fall in love, fall out of love, hear their grudges out.

Colonel: Deal drugs in the bathroom.

Otis: If I thought it would do any good, I'd put up a sign telling them not to, right next to the one about the employees washing their hands. (Pointing to a woman, who was sitting at a table and now walks over to the men.) This here is Carolyn. (To Carolyn) Honey, this is my son, Delmore.

Colonel: (Holding out his hand to shake Carolyn's hand) Nice to meet you, ma'am. (They shake hands.)

Carolyn: I'll be in the back waiting for that delivery.

Otis: So?

Colonel: So. Tell me why I shouldn't make this place off-limits.

Otis: This is an official visit then.

Colonel: I assume most of your business is with our people.

Otis: Your boys're all cooped up together out there and they need a place to let the steam out. If they black, there's not but one spot in this county where they feel welcome. It's been that way since before you were born.

Colonel: We have an enlisted man's club at the post.

Otis: You the man out there now, ain't you? It's your call.

Colonel: That's right.

Otis: You know, I've been hearing about this new command out there for a couple of weeks now. The boys say they hear that he's a hard case, a real spit-and-polish man. Full bird colonel by the name of Payne. Bet you never figured you'd end up back here.

Colonel: When the Army offers you a command, you go, wherever it is.

Otis: Right.

Colonel: I hear things, too. They call you the mayor of Darktown.

Otis: Over the years, this is the one place that's always been there. I loan a little money out, I've settled a few arguments. I got a cot in the back. Folks get scared to go home, they can spend the night. There's not enough of us to run anything in this town. It's the Holiness Church or Big O's.

Colonel: And the people make a choice.

Otis: Most of them choose both. You see, it's not like there's a borderline between the good people and the bad people. You not on either one side or the other. (The Colonel puts his hat on.)

Colonel: Right.

Otis: I'm gonna meet that family of yours?

Colonel: Why would you want to do that?

Otis: Because I'm your father. (The Colonel, who was on his way out, walks back toward Otis, who is still behind the bar.)

Colonel: You'll get official notification when I make my decision. (Otis looks very sad. Carolyn walks back in.)

Carolyn: So that's him.

Otis: Yeah, that's him.

Scene 5: Our People [Scene begins at 01:31:44 and runs to 01:35:10. For those with DVDs, it is 28 seconds into ch. 28 and runs until the end of the chapter.]

In this scene, the Colonel's son sneaks into Otis's during the day. He is looking at the Black Seminole pictures. When Otis comes into the room, the boy's back is turned. Otis puts down a box of bottles and startles him.

Otis: That's John Horse. The Spanish down in Florida call him Juan Caballo. John Horse.

Boy: Is he a black man or an Indian?

Otis: Both. He was part of the Seminole nation that got pushed down into the Florida Everglades back in the pioneer days. African people run off from the slave holders, hooked up with them, married up, had children. When the Spanish give up Florida, the U.S. Army come down to move all the Indian people to Oklahoma. A couple of them held out. That man, John Horse, his friend Wildcat, another fella named Osceola, put together a fighting band, held out for another ten, fifteen years, and beat Zack Taylor and a thousand troops at Lake Okeechobee.

Boy: So, they stayed in Florida?

Otis: One night they packed up, rode out to Mexico. Men went to work for General Santa Anna down there. After the Civil War they came north to Texas, put up at Fort Duncan, and the men joined what was called the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts. Them the best trackers on either side of the border. They chased after bandits, rustlers, Texas red necks, Kiowas, Comanches–

Boy: They fought against the Indians?

Otis: Just like they did in Mexico.

Boy: But they were Indians themselves.

Otis: They were in the Army, like your father.

Boy: (Looking down) You know who I am?

Otis: I got a pretty good guess.

Boy: That guy who got shot--

Otis: You didn't go telling your father you were here?

Boy: Are you kidding? And face a court-martial?

Otis: Pretty tough old man, huh.

Boy: Every time he moves up a rank, it's like he's gotta tighten the screws a little more. I mean, just ‘cause-- You know, he didn't have--

Otis: Didn't have a father.

Boy: He's still pissed off about it.

Otis: When you're his age, you'll still be pissed off about him.

Boy: How come you got into all this?

Otis: These are our people. There are Paynes in Florida, in Oklahoma, in Piedras Negras

Boy: So I'm part Indian?

Otis: By blood you are. But blood only means what you let it.

Boy: My father says from the day you're born, you start from scratch. No breaks. No excuses. You gotta pull yourself up on your own.

Otis: He's living proof of that, son. Living proof.

Scene 6: The Colonel and the Private [Scene begins at 01:41:03 and runs to 01:44:46. For those with DVDs, it begins ch. 31.]

The Colonel is standing facing the window of his office and looking through a file. Behind him, standing at attention is a private, a young African American woman, who along with the other soldiers, has been tested for drugs. Her test was positive.

Colonel: Private Johnson, (putting her file down on the desk) are you unhappy in the Army?

Private: No, sir.

Colonel: Then how would you explain that out of one hundred and twenty people, you were the only one who came up positive for drugs?

Private: I'm sorry, sir.

Colonel: When you were given the opportunity to enlist, a kind of contract was agreed upon. Now I think the Army has honored its part of that agreement.

Private: Yes, sir.

Colonel: Do you believe in what we're doing here, Private Johnson?

Private: I can do the job, sir.

Colonel: What exactly do you think your job is, Private?

Private: Uh, follow orders, do whatever they say.

Colonel: Who's "they"?

Private: The officers.

Colonel: And that's the job? Nothing about serving your country? These are not trick questions, Private Johnson. You'll be offered an Article 15 and you will go through the process one way or the other. I'm just trying to understand how someone like you thinks.

Private: You really wanna know?

Colonel: Please.

Private: It's their country. This is one of the best deals they offer.

Colonel: How do you think I got to be a Colonel?

Private: Being good at your job, doing what they tell you.

Colonel: "Do what they tell you"?

Private: I mean, follow orders, sir.

Colonel: With your attitude, Private, I'm surprised that you want to stay in the service.

Private: I do, sir.

Colonel: (Somewhat sarcastically) Because it's a job?

Private: (Stuttering) Outside it's such a mess. It's, um,--

Colonel: Chaos. Why do you think they let us in on the deal?

Private: ‘Cause they got people to fight. You know, Arabs, yellow people, whatever. Might as well use us.

Colonel: It works like this, Private. Every solider in the war doesn't have to believe in what he's fighting for. Most of them fight just to back up the other soldiers in their squad. They try not to get them killed. They try not to get them extra duty. You try not to embarrass yourself in front of them. (The Colonel walks over to the Private and straightens her hat.) Why don't you start with that?

Private: Yes, sir. (The Colonel salutes her, and she returns the salute.)

Colonel: Dismissed.

Private: Thank you, sir.

Scene 7: Football World [Scene begins at 01:45:18 and runs to 01:50:18. For those with DVDs, it is ch. 32.]

Sam goes to his ex-wife's house to retrieve some papers and memorabilia he needs in order to sort out both what happened to Charlie Wade and his own history. His ex-wife, Bunny, is watching a football game when Sam enters the house. She appears juvenile and wears a baseball jersey and cap.

Bunny: Longhorns are going to kick some serious butt this Saturday, you just watch. (Giggles) We got a kid, a tailback from down your way, out of El Indio–

Sam: Well, that's in Maverick County.

Bunny: Oh, right. And you're in?

Sam: In Rio.

Bunny: Right. This kid, Hosea Brown, he does the forty in 3.4. Soft hands, lateral movement, the whole package. Only a sophomore.

Sam: Still go to all the home games?

Bunny: Daddy's got his box in the stadium and I'll fly to the Cowboy away games when they're in the conference. And Friday nights there's high school, of course. Churchill's got this boy, six foot six, three hundred and ten, moves like a cat. High school we're talking. Guess how much he can bench-press?

Sam: Bunny, you, un, you on that same medication?

Bunny: Why, do I seem jumpy?

Sam: No, no. You look good. I was just wondering.

Bunny: Well, last year was awful with, you know, with Mama passing on and this whole business with O.J., I mean, it's not like it's Don Meredith or Roger Starbuck or one of our boys, but it kind of threw me for a loop.

Sam: You look good.

Bunny: Then there was that squeaker the Aggies dropped to Oklahoma, I mean, that son of a bitch stepped in some lucky shit before he kicked that goal. If they hadn't pulled me off that woman, I'd have jerked a knot in her.

Sam: Were you in a fight?

Bunny: Daddy calls it an altercation. How you doing, Sam? You look skinny.

Sam: No, I'm the same weight I always was.

Bunny: Daddy hired a pinhead to take your job. Says so himself. Says, "Even my son-in-law was better than this pinhead I got now."

Sam: Bunny, uh, uh, that stuff I left in the garage still there?

Bunny: Least he never called me that. With me it was always "high-strung." "My Bunny would've done something with her life if she wasn't so ‘high-strung.'" Or "tightly-wound." That's another one.

Sam: You haven't had one of your fires, have you? The stuff I left in the garage, some of it was my father's.

Bunny: Did you watch the draft this year? Of course you didn't. Idiot question. They try to make it dramatic, like it's a big surprise who picks who in the first round, only they been going over it for months with their experts, and their computers, doctor's reports, coaches' evaluations, highlight reels, psychological profiles-- Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if they collected stool samples on these boys, had ‘em analyzed! All that to pick a football player for your squad. Compared to that, what you know about a person when you get married to ‘em doesn't amount to diddly, does it?

Sam: No, I suppose not.

Bunny: You kind of bought yourself a pig in a poke, didn't you, Sam? That whole time we were first seeing each other, you didn't know that I was tightly wound.

Sam: It wasn't just you, Bunny.

Bunny: No, it wasn't, was it. You didn't exactly throw yourself into it, heart and soul, now, did ya? Your shit's still in the garage, if that's what you came for. (Sam gets ready to leave; Bunny sits back down on the couch, and turns the television back on to a football game. When she speaks again, it is through sighs and tears.) Three hundred and fifty pounds. That boy Churchill's got. He plays tackle both ways. Bench-presses three hundred and fifty pounds. Imagine having all that weight on you, pressing down. Be hard to breathe, hard to swallow.

Sam: I think they have another fella there to keep it off your chest. A spotter.

Bunny: "I only got my little girl, now," he says. "She's my lifeline." Then he tells me I can't sit in the box anymore if I don't control myself. Son of a bitch, doesn't even watch the games, he just sits there drinking with his business friends. Looks up at the TV now and then. I'd be better off sitting in the cheap seats with some real football people.

Sam: You look good, Bunny. It's nice to see you.

Bunny: Thanks. I like it when you say that, Sam.

Camera cuts to garage, and we see Sam looking through boxes of his father's papers. He pages through a book, finds an envelope and opens it.

Sam: (reading the letter) Dearest, Buddy.

Scene 8: The Legend and the Truth [Scene begins at 02:04:50 and runs to 2:07:29. For those with DVDs, it is the end of ch. 37.]

As Sam discovers more of the past, he suspects that Hollis and Otis know more than they have told him about Charlie Wade's last night alive, and he believes that his father, Buddy Deeds, killed Wade. When Sam does not find Hollis at his house, he drives to Otis's bar, where Otis and Hollis are together, talking. They finally describe Wade's death, which we see as a flashback. At the beginning of the next scene, we see a shocked Hollis with his gun extended. He has just shot Wade in order to save Otis's life.

Otis: (Voice over, as the scene returns to the present) Sheriff Charlie was the whip hand for old Judge Tibbs, who pretty much owned this county back then. If the truth came out, he wasn't gonna go easy on Hollis. I don't know why I trusted Buddy with it; don't know why he trusted me. The first time I talked with him was right there and then, with a dead white man leaking blood on the floor between us.

Hollis: The three of us cleaned up and took him out by the post and put him under. I can't say I was much help.

Sam: And the ten thousand?

Hollis: Widow's benefits. He figured it'd make the disappearance look better. And Mercedes was just scraping by after Charlie killed her man. Buddy and her-- didn't get hooked up until later.

Otis: Time went on, people liked the story we told better than anything the truth might have been.

Hollis: It's your call, Sam.

Sam: I don't think the Rangers are likely to find out any more than they already know. And as for me, it's just one of your unsolved mysteries. He turns and walks toward the door.

Hollis: If word gets out who the body was, people gonna think Buddy done it.

Sam: (turning back) Buddy's a goddamn legend. He can handle it. (Sam turns around again, puts his hat on, and walks out.) ‘Night, fellas.

Scene 9: Forget the Alamo
[Scene begins at 02:07:29 and runs to 02:11:15. For those with DVDs, it is ch. 38.]

Sam is sitting on the hood of his car, which is parked in front of the old drive-in movie screen, where he and Pilar used to watch movies. A car drives up, and Pilar walks up and sits with him on his hood. We have seen Sam and Pilar in flashbacks of their romance as high school students, a romance that had been rejected by their families. In an earlier scene, Sam admitted that he returned to Perdido because Pilar was there. They have since rekindled their love, but now must confront the truth of their relationship.

Pilar: Hey. When does the picture start?

Sam: Are you going to tell your mother we've been seeing each other?

Pilar: She'll find out sooner or later. I don't have to ask permission anymore, if that's what you mean.

Sam: You have any idea when your father died? Eladio?

Pilar: Couple of months before I was born.

Sam: Try a year and a half. (Sam hands Pilar a photograph of his father and her mother embracing near the water, apparently a young couple.) Buddy bought the café for her with money he took from the county.

Pilar: They can't pull this on me. It's not fair. I don't believe this. (Sam takes her hand.)

Sam: He paid the hospital bill when you were born. Your mother, she always calls you, "a beautiful daughter," in the letters she wrote to him.

Pilar: From the first time I saw you at school, all those years we were married to other people, I always felt-- like we were connected.

Sam: I remember thinking, that you were the one part of my life that Buddy didn't have a piece of.

Pilar: I can't have any more children. After Amado, I had some complications. I can't get pregnant anymore, if that's what the rule is about. So that's it? You're not gonna want to be with me anymore?

Sam: If I met you for the first time today, I'd still want to be with you. (Pilar kisses Sam's hand.)

Pilar: Start from scratch?

Sam: Yeah.

Pilar: All that other stuff and all that history, the hell with it, right? (They look at each other and nod in agreement. Then Pilar looks off.) Forget the Alamo.

The camera pans to a picture of them from behind, including the blank drive-in screen, then to a broader picture of the scene, where they are almost invisible, and then to black.

Lone Star Questions

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