I thought that after my last post (Seeing the [Upper] USA in a Chevrolet), it would be appropriate to drop this little item into the blog. I had not seen Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest” back then, it came much later. And when I did see it, I loved it, especially the sequence on Mount Rushmore. So when I had an idea around which to write a sequel to National Treasure, I came up with this opening. A tribute to Hitch, mainly for his tongue-in-cheek title for NbyNW – The Man in Abraham Lincoln’s Nose.
EXT. SCRUB PINE FOREST – NIGHT
The athletic figure of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN GATES dashes from tree to tree, casting hurried glances over his shoulder to check for pursuers. Though his sure-footedness over the broken ground is a great asset, his most dangerous weapon is his keen mind.
Breaking into the open, Ben drops his lanky frame beside the last of the scrub pines, taking care not to jar his pack. His chest heaving with the exertion, he peers into the darkness behind him.
He’s turned this way. Fan out.
The beams of a dozen flashlights advance towards him. They bob and weave in a criss-cross pattern, as frenzied as a pack of hounds sniffing a scent.
By Ben’s calm and confident demeanor you would think that he had them just where he wanted them, rather than the reverse. He heaves himself to his feet and continues his flight. The sound of his footfalls morph from a SOFT PATTER to a RESOUNDING SLAP, as the soft earth gives place to flinty rock.
Ahead the silvery moonlight traces the rocky edge of a cliff. Ben drops down into a trench that runs straight as an arrow for the precipice.
There he goes!
Ben hauls to a stop at the edge to gain his bearings. A gravelly path winds away to the right. Without a second thought he makes a break for it.
Keeping his back to the wall, Ben rapidly traverses the cliff face on the descending trail. As he reaches the bottom of the path, his PURSUERS appear at the top.
He’s getting away!
No, he isn’t. He’s trapped. It’s surrender or die.
The trail opens out onto a low dome. Ben continues to skirt around to the right, and descends into a crevass that defines the right side of the dome. Ben comes to the end of the crevass which overlooks a sixty-foot drop.
In a snap decision he sizes up the situation. Securing his pack to his chest, he wedges his shoulders against one wall and brings his feet up against the other and crabwalks to a point above the drop. Then, utilizes this chimney maneuver to descend the sixty feet to the ledge below.
On the ledge between Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, Ben casts about for a way down. First, he checks out the area by Teddy, then shimmies over to the area under Lincoln’s beard.
PURSUER TWO (O.S.)
Where’d he go?
PURSUER ONE (O.S.)
Look! A body!
That’s only a rock. Get out of my way, I’m going down.
Ben stands frozen and still. All of a sudden, he clamps his hands over his face to stifle a sneeze. But it’s too late.
Cue Final Jeopardy music.
[This was in the first draft only. I removed it in favor of telling a story in the past which parallels the contemporary one.]