Murder By Word Of Mouth

 

Overview:


Intense drama written to help the 20% or so of the population adversely affected by alcohol fallout in the family, based on the successful one-act play produced at the Greenwich Street Theatre in NY which grew out of a Writers Workshop sponsored by the Lila Acheson, Reader’s Digest Foundation and the Alcoholism Foundation and mentored by playwright Christopher Durang.  Unique inspirational movie explores and illustrates the methods, techniques and benefits of professional Art and Drama Therapy. 


Can the verbal abuse of a child result in accidental suicide? ... “murder by word of mouth?”   


Summary/Synopsis:


In a cityscape, a man of forty has been rebuilding his life after a lifelong bout with chronic alcoholism.  He seeks the guidance of a therapist who uncovers the developmental damage in this man's early inner city life ... the effects of a traumatic vehicular accident ... the suspicious death of his brother ... at last, a user-friendly universe in a stirring, surprising conclusion.


Reminiscent of such moving and successful films as “The Prince of Tides,” “Precious,” “The Day of Wine and Roses.” 


Gut-wrenching, heart-wrenching ...deeply touching ...


Feature script by T. D. White and Paula Brancato


Genre: Drama

Budget: $2,000,000

Shares/Units:

$2,500   


Opening:


“Children of Chaos”, based on the play “Murder by Word of Mouth” by T. D. White, copyright (c) 1995, with excerpts from the short story, “Red Hot Broken Girl,” copyright (c) 2008, by Paula Brancato.


INT. - A BAR, THE BISTRO - NIGHT

An old bartender is working at a fair pace.  A man is trying to get his attention.


MAN 1

Excuse me.  Excuse me.


The bartender nods dismissively and finishes the task at hand, collects money, returns.


BARTENDER

What can I get you?


MAN 1

I’m fine (lifts a mug) ... this is out of left field I know ... but have you ever been in Englewood Hospital?  I think I know you.


BARTENDER

My daughter was born there.


Bartender tidies the area.


MAN 1

No, I mean years ago, MANY years ago (chuckles).


BARTENDER

Yea, I spent six weeks in there when I was seven.  Bus accident.


LOUD SCREECH of BRAKES


INT. - A HOSPITAL FLOOR - EVENING


Double doors suddenly open.  Three or four doctors and nurses in scrubs are rushing a gurney down the corridor.  POV of gurney on lights on ceiling passing by rapidly.


INT. - A LONG, HOSPITAL CORRIDOR - DUSK


Shiny floors.  Waxer and worker visible.  At top of frame, suddenly, two wheelchairs appear whipping and turning a corner and racing speedily toward camera.  Two  boys about seven and eight years old apply the brakes and “burn rubber” as this among many races between them every day concludes.  The younger is strawberry-blond, blond, or fair-haired.  The older boy, very freckled, has dark red, auburn hair


O.S. NURSE

BOYS!


INT. - THE BAR - NIGHT


MAN 1

Bob Freed.


BARTENDER

Good God. Bobby Freed. Tom. Geez, I remember how sad I was when you got to go home.


Bartender tries to dry his hand as they extend their right arms across the bar.


EXT. - AN URBAN NEIGHBORHOOD STREET - DAY


A small boy, 8 or 9, whom we will know as TOMMY, is wearing a leg brace and obsessively throwing a ball against a townhouse stoop and limping about trying to catch it.  A woman with small daughter in hand is walking by.


SMALL GIRL

Look Mommy, look! That boy has polio. 


TOMMY is humiliated.


INT .- A PLACE FOR READINGS - NIGHT


Like the Cornelia Street Cafe or KGB Bar.  Polite APPLAUSE as a woman finishes reading an obscure poem. TOM, say 40, the bartender, a younger version than in SCENE ONE above, steps up and reads from his own work.  


TOM

I wrote a lot about drinking people since I’ve been around so many in my life. So I call this little collection “Wet Money.” This one’s about let’s call her Terry whom I heard at an A.A. meeting.  Very big jolly-looking woman.


INSERT -- A big woman is sitting at a table facing an audience of people sitting on metal chairs which reacts as she speaks --


TOM V.O

“She sat there celebrating her eighth year of sobriety, wearing a blue print dress, it was a tent really, and she has this nice old world kind of laugh, you know, gutty, hearty, rich, and she’s got glasses that are pretty thick, and she told us that the way it was with her is that she would sneak- drink out of a pint bottle “like it was nuthin’” when she was fourteen maybe when her father caught her.  So you’d expect some trouble, but her father said ‘Oh no, Terry, we don’t do it like that. We do it like this,’ and he smacked down two shot glasses on the formica table in one of hell’s kitchens and he poured her some and him some, and they got whacked together, and if you, like me, might wonder what Freud might have said about all this, well, it seems to me that ducks when they hatch just follow the leader, too.  Terry said the week before she died her mother asked the kid to hug her, and she did it she said, but it felt funny she said, and then she felt guilty about feeling funny for a lot of years, like ‘I feel like a louse, like shit, I can’t even hug my mother good on her death bed.’  So you drink.  Because it is innate, inescapable, that you drink if you are born in Hell’s Kitchen and you got the chromosome.”        


Polite unenthusiastic APPLAUSE.


EXT. THE NATIONAL ARTS CLUB, GRAMERCY PARK, NEW YORK - DAY


INT. - THE NATIONAL ARTS CLUB, GRAMERCY PARK, NEW YORK - DAY


Eight or nine people are in a big room on the second floor.  A warm but professional-looking woman, PAULA EVERETT, 40’s, 50’s,  motions them all to the center. They gather like a football huddle and begin to sway back and forth.  TOM is among them.


EXT. - ANY MIDTOWN PARK AVENUE BUILDING - DAY


INT. - AN OFFICE - DAY


TOM is sitting across from a slightly younger woman who is taking notes. 


TOM

I guess.  Yea.  I can make those dates.


BEATRIZ GONZALEZ

There are close to 50 other applications, children of alcoholics who are also writers. So you know, we can only take about seven.  So.  Interview.  How long

are you sober?


INT. - SECOND FLOOR ROOM, NATIONAL ARTS CLUB - DAY


A man, about 35, looks about the group supervised by PAULA, and approaches TOM. 


PETER

You’re a bit young for this, but I guess you’ll have to be my grandfather.


A man in work clothes with work belt, ALAN, dips his hand into a big box and pulls out a cane and gives it to TOM.  TOM sits.


PETER (CONT’D)

He was in a wheelchair because of a stroke ...


TOM slumps a little to left or right.


PETER  (CONT’D)

but that was after he ... he ...


PAULA

Go for it, Peter.  After what ...