Burning Hellzapoppin’

Burning Hellzapoppin

[Warning – actual film stock was destroyed in the “making” of this post. I didn’t do it. I was just a witness. Please don’t do this at home.]

This all took place on a Saturday morning. I was not scheduled to work at the Fifth Avenue theater (not the matinee anyway). We had some time set aside to shoot some film. We had a script and some actors on call (all friends connected to the UA Cinemas).

My friend Pat and I drove out to Walt Coy’s house to pick up the Auricon camera and his camera dolly/crane. Walt brought us into his shop where he stored his equipment. He pulled them out from their places, and ran over what we needed to know to use them. And though the Auricon could record sound, he advised us to use his Nagra recorder instead. It had a pulse that synched with the camera. Somehow we got on to the topic of nitrate film. Probably, he had asked us what kind of stock we planned to use for the day. We told him, but all I can remember now was that it was black and white. Any other details such as ASA, etc., I do not recall.

Keying off of this discussion, Walt treated us to a “science experiment.” He pulled out a big white five gallon bucket and filled it with water. He rummaged around and came up with a spool of film – a little bigger than the size of your fist. He told us it was some footage from the film “Hellzapoppin.’” (This was was an Olsen and Johnson musical comedy from 1941. I surmise that he had played it at one of his theaters back in the day, needed a replacement reel, and kept the damaged one).

He held onto one end and let the rest unspool into the bucket. The bulk of the coil hit the bottom of the bucket and sat there. Walt took out a lighter, struck it, and set the flame to the end in his hand. We watched in amazement as that film end burst into flames. It looked like a burning fuse, the kind you see in old WB cartoons or movie serials. And raced down the length still exposed to the air.

The flame reached the surface of the water, and rather than being extinguished, actually seemed to speed up, following the ribbon of film and continuing to burn under water. It was eery seeing those white hot flames under water like that. Soon it hit the ball of film at the bottom and the flames flared in intensity. There were so many bubbles coming up that it looked to be boiling.

“The thing about nitrate film is,” Walt explained, “it creates its own oxygen in the very act of combustion.” He then went on to regale us with horror stories about projectionists dying in projection booth fires. Of note was a local example. The projectionist in this case, he told us, was suicidal. He unspooled every stitch of nitrate film onto the booth floor. He then got out a cigar, struck a match, lit the cigar and dropped the flaming stick into the mass. The resultant conflagration triggered the safety mechanisms that sealed the booth, automatically entombing him.

Oh, yes, I now recall one other thing about our film stock. It was “safety” film.

Clip from Hellzapoppin’

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Under the Spreading Cement Tree

Link to pertinent scene from Finian’s Rainbow

It really wasn’t made of cement. It just looked like it.

While Francis Ford Coppola and Howard Kazanjian were busy filming location footage up in the Bay area, the construction crews back at the studio were prepping sets both on the sound stages and in the backlot. One of the structures of note was a tree at the center of the setting for the fictional town of Rainbow Valley. It was scheduled to be used over a period of several days. Though not actually cement it was built of some other sturdy materials and plastered over. It had to be sturdy to support the weight of up to three actors (in one instance, Fred, Petula, and Barbara were all up in its branches). Also, one of the show’s song and dance numbers was scheduled for the platform built around the base of this “tree.”

Filming this number (“Look to the Rainbow”) featuring Fred Astaire and Petula Clark took place over a two day period. A bit of film history occurred under this tree, other than which was recorded on celluloid. On the day that they were working on the dance, Howard got a call from a former USC classmate and DKA Honor fraternity brother – George Lucas. Just two years prior to this, WB had set up an annual 6 month scholarship for a lucky student at USC. George was the second recipient.  (Howard – The first was Joyce Gellar. While there she wrote a script called the Cool Ones, which WB bought. I worked as 2d AD on that film. One of the actors on a day rate was unknown Glen Campbell). George reported to the studio on the day his “internship” was to begin, was assigned an office on the lot, but was given nothing to do. George called down to Howard to tell him of his plight – he was sitting there bored out of his skull.  Howard invited him down to the set.

Gratefully George joined Howard on the set, and between takes Howard introduced George to Francis.

As part of their production routine Howard would accompany Coppola back to his office at the end of a day of shooting, and there they would debrief, talking over the day and planning for the next. Sometimes these sessions led to extra work for Howard. One time Francis casually mentioned that they would be using a crane for a shot the next day – the only thing was, none had been requested on the equipment call sheet. This was the first Howard had heard of it – so he had to put in an order for it immediately. Sometimes the crisis involved people that he would have to line up last minute. If it were for instance the corps dancers, he had to track them all down by phone. It was a terrible chore, and could take hours, not to mention the costume department that needed to be alerted also. But it was also a fun time. George accompanied Howard to the meeting that day. They listened to Coppola with keen interest. Coppola had some strong opinions – he hated Hollywood, its system, and wanted to be out on his own. George was definitely a kindred spirit. Later, George showed Francis his student film THX 1138.  Coppola encouraged him to turn the script into a feature, and then got WB to buy it and he himself stepped up to produce it.

George stayed on, but just as an observer and later was given the privilege of attending the dailies. (Howard – there was one thing that George got to do for the production.  Francis needed to review a particular film clip. Howard couldn’t leave the set, so he asked George to go fetch it from the editor).

Coppola took George on the road with him for his next project, The Rain People. Howard almost went along too – but that’s a story for another day.

Rebel Treasure fifty eighth post

Image

ABOVE THE IRONCLAD
With a final teeter, the ship falls forward onto the catwalk and begins to skid down this “track” straight for the swirling water.

BEN (O.S.)
Hang on! It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The ironclad picks up speed and from the moment it impacts the water, the current takes hold and sucks her down and through the hole.

Her forward momentum puts her sideways to the current in the river tunnel, which proceeds to roll her over on her side.

FORWARD DECK
Bodies tumble en masse as the ship heels over. Only two manage to grab onto something solid. Ben and Rance have hooked onto the capstan and are now being hoisted in the air as they hang on.

Water gushes in from every crevice and gap in the outer shield, which drenches the two and threatens to wash them from their perch. Rance, having lost his handgun, tries to maul Ben and loosen his hold. But the steepening pitch of the ship carries Ben away from his reach.

But as the ship rights itself, Ben lets go with one hand, and strikes Rance full force in the face. And as the stunned Rance looses his grip, Ben retrieves the map-case and Rance bounces from the capstan.

THE ANTE-CHAMBER TO THE CAVERN
Is now smaller, the opening having been sealed by the bunker buster bombs. And a sea of water now covers the railroad tracks.

Out from the tunnel the ironclad serenely and regally floats on the smooth surface.

FORWARD DECK
Sadusky’s agents have things well in hand with agent Howie brandishing the Navy Colt revolver over the prisoners.

TOPSIDE OF THE IRONCLAD
Ben and Abigail, Riley and Sadusky check out the destruction from this higher vantage point.

Riley looks back from whence they came, and calls his companions’ attention to the golden hue of the water.

RILEY
I think I’ll take up panning for gold.

Ben looks off into the distance.

Final Jeopardy music.

INT JEOPARDY GAME SHOW SET
Applause. Ben smiles.

ALEX TREBEK
Ladies and gentlemen, we have with us today, Mr Benjamin Franklin Gates of Baltimore, Maryland.

More applause. Ben humbly lowers his gaze.

Abigail blows him a kiss. Riley, Sadusky and Dean Cargile join in the applause.

ALEX TREBEK (CONT’D)
Mr. Gates, we have you here today to offer our apology. We were wrong and you were right. We are going to reinstate your winnings and by so doing, we hope, your reputation.

From the back of the auditorium, the Pompadou sisters emerge. Marguerite holds up a salvage document and waves.

CECI
Riley Poo!

FADE OUT.

THE END

[PS – alternate beginning]

Rebel Treasure fifty seventh post

Rebel Treasure fifty seventh post

ON TOP OF THE IRONCLAD
Battered, but determined, Rance has worked his way up to the top of the casement. Crawling to the hole left by the detached cylinder, he peers down into the darkness. He sees nothing. Grabbing the edge of the opening, he lowers himself full length before dropping to the deck below.

UNDERWATER
The force of the water is eroding a larger opening and gushing into the passageway carrying the subterranean river, filling it completely.

The water commences to swirl, forming a vortex.

THE IRONCLAD BRIDGE

SADUSKY
Maybe, if we float free, we can maneuver her.

ABIGAIL
Maneuver her where?

BEN
(to Abigail)
He’s thinking of lining her up with the entrance to the lift chamber.

RILEY
Maneuver, how? There’s no engine in this beast. Not even any oars.

SADUSKY
Let’s do something!

A shudder runs through the deck, and all nearly topple.

INSERT
The keel of the ship settles into the center of one of the catwalks and is left teetering on the edge of a section that slopes down to the burgeoning hole.

BACK TO SCENE

ABIGAIL
We’re no longer rising? That’s good isn’t it?

Riley catches sight of the forming whirlpool through the slotted windows.

RILEY
Oh, oh!

Ben follows his gaze.

BEN
The decision is about to be made for us.

He bolts for the ladder, calling back:

BEN (CONT’D)
Get everyone aft, now!

FORWARD DECK
All of Sadusky’s agents and Morgan’s soldiers are seated on the deck, backs toward him, when Ben rushes up.

Rance, standing guard, trains one hand gun in their direction, and turns another on Ben.

RANCE
Ah, Mr. Gates. Please have a seat.
(sees the red map-case)
I’ll take that.

BEN
We can’t stay here!

RANCE
I agree, but for now–

Rance hands one gun to the Third Soldier and takes the map-case from Ben.

BEN
(seeing the others approaching)
No! Don’t!

Too late.

[next pt 58]

Rebel Treasure fifty sixth post

Rebel Treasure fifty sixth post

INT FORT AREA
A series of dull booms becomes a flashing ROAR, as the combination of explosions punch through a section of the dome. Spider web-like cracks spread in every direction. Then, pieces of the dome fall inward, bit by bit, until it becomes an avalanche, leveling the walls of the fort and anything in its path.

CATWALK
Everything around Rance quivers and shakes. He drops to his seat and wraps his arms and legs around a railing support.

POV RANCE
In contrast, overhead all looks steady and solid, until a jet of water spurts out from the area around the descending cylinder. The stream grows in volume and the ironclad’s descent slows.

DECK OF THE IRONCLAD
All aboard the ship have lain down on the deck in an attempt to secure themselves against being thrown about. The ship stops with a jerk.

RILEY
What was that?

Ben bounds to the gunport to look out, where he sees a veritable waterfall spilling down and filling the hollow areas around the silos.

BEN
Everyone! We’ve got to cut ourselves loose from the spiral staircase.

To make his point he springs to the latches holding the cylinder to the deck and commences swinging away with the fire ax. Abigail waves the others over to a tool box and passes out wrenches, saws, hammers, etc., to all comers.

CATWALK
Rance watches in disbelief as the water level rises up along the sides of the silos. A lot of hammering and similar noise fills the air above his head; and he notices the ironclad start its descent again, but this time swinging towards his end of the catwalk. He leaps to his feet and runs.

DECK OF THE IRONCLAD
With several attachments now loosed, the deck is listing and down by the bow.

SADUSKY
Just two left.

BEN
Hold off a sec. This is real dicey. Everyone forward we’ll let our weight do the work.

They all move forward away from the creaking cylinder.

ABOVE THE IRONCLAD
The ship hangs off center to its normal plane. With a tearing of metal, she slips free of the cylinder and falls to the catwalk, taking it at an angle, wrenching it from its anchors and forcing breaches in the tops of the silos.

The contents of the breached silos slide out into the water.

CATWALK
Hanging on for dear life, Rance rides the bouncing catwalk. Then, the section to which he clings, flips to the vertical, the upper end over the rear of the ironclad. Seeing his chance, he drags himself up and over the top and onto the deck outside the casement.

THE IRONCLAD BRIDGE
Ben, followed by Abigail, rushes to look out the forward slits. Riley and Sadusky join them from below. The water is rising rapidly and consequently contributing to the disintegration of the silos. The ironclad slides further forward, meeting the water and raising the bow.

RILEY
Looks like we’re on our way back up.

ABIGAIL
We’ll be crushed.

THE COUNTERWEIGHT
Snaps loose from its chain and plummets into the water. It strikes the out-of-position catwalk and caroms into the chamber wall, punching a hole through to the underground river on the other side.

[next pt 57]

Rebel Treasure forty ninth post

Rebel Treasure forty ninth post

BASEMENT OF THE OTHER GUARD HOUSE
Rance ushers the Gateses in behind the Slidells. They gather around a giant metal tread wheel situated in the center of the room.

MORGAN
What’s this? A giant hamster wheel?

BEN
Check to see if there’s a belt attached.

SOLDIER THREE
Negative.

Ben slips around to the back of the wheel.

BEN
Here it is, on the floor unhooked.

He picks it up and loops it around the wheel’s axle. Morgan climbs up into the wheel.

MORGAN
Which way does it turn?

BEN
Hold on while I throw the clutch.

Ben grabs the rail yard like switch and depresses it forward, then hops around to the front and joins Morgan. Nothing happens.

BEN (CONT’D)
(to Horatio)
Are the portals still open into this area?

HORATIO
One of them. What of it?

BEN
We need to shut it. Lon designed it so the outer doors couldn’t be open at the same time as the vault.

HORATIO
(to Rance and soldier three)
See to it.

MRS. SLIDELL
You’ll have to move the Hummer.

MONTAGE OF THE SOLDIERS
Ordered by Rance out through the portal.

They mount the Hummer and drive it off of the pressure plate and the portal slides shut.

Rance viewing it from the front gate tower calls down to the third soldier:

RANCE
Tell them all’s clear.

BASEMENT OF THE OTHER GUARD HOUSE

SOLDIER THREE
(to Horatio)
Portal secure, sir.

BEN
(to Morgan)
This way.

Ben and Morgan begin to walk and soon their walk becomes an all out run. From deep below them the GROAN of machinery answers the WHIR of the cage. Then, the sound of RUSHING WATER lights a smile on Ben’s sweaty face. He winks at Abigail, and sees behind her:

BEN’S P.O.V.
Through the cellar window, a cylindrical column rises from the central area, like the plug in a bathroom sink.

VAULT ENTRANCE
The Slidells, Gateses, and Rance ring the darkened entrance, staring into its gaping maw, none daring move.

BEN
Well, what are we standing here for?

He grabs Abigail’s hand and moves to step in, but Morgan and Rance quickly squeeze in ahead of them with the Slidells following.

MORGAN
Hug the outside. It’s a spiral staircase.

HORATIO
What kind of mechanism is it?

BEN
Lon Turner was somewhat of a hydraulic genius. A stream is diverted into a chamber below and raises a flotation device attached to the entrance.

MORGAN (O.S.)
Hey, there’s no access to the silos down here!

The rest arrive at the bottom of the stair and spread out onto the deck of ironclad warship, encased on all sides by iron armor.

HORATIO
What? There’s got to be! Keep looking!

Rance props open one of the portholes.

RANCE
There they are. About sixty feet below.

ABIGAIL
Maybe all of this is just an elevator or escalator or something.

Mrs. Slidell muscles Rance out of the way to get a look.

MRS. SLIDELL
They’re huge! I make out four here.

HORATIO
(from the other side)
And six more over here.

MRS. SLIDELL
And just think, this amounts to just one third of all the caches.

RANCE
But we’ll need the contents of the archive to lead us to the others.

PASSAGEWAY
Sadusky and Agent Dawes help the last of their party out of the tube tunnel.

SADUSKY
Which way?

Riley shines his light on the passage wall, revealing a group of stick figures carved into the stone, shown “walking” back down the way he came.

RILEY
Walk, don’t run to the nearest exit.

SADUSKY
(holds up an empty forearm)
What time is it?

RILEY
(checking his watch)
We’re pressing one PM.

SADUSKY
We had better run. We need to get to your buddy and hope his wife is already with him and get out of here.

Riley’s look questions his sanity.

SADUSKY (CONT’D)
In fifteen minutes we’ll be overdue and this place will be the target of six bunker buster bombs.

[next pt 50]

Rebel Treasure forty sixth post

Rebel Treasure forty sixth post

INT THE HUMMER
Abigail downshifts to slow the behemoth as the tunnel ahead goes into a long curve. Both women have flashlights in hand searching the walls as they pass.

MRS. SLIDELL
Stop!

Abigail slams on the brakes and comes to a complete halt beside another bas-relief carving.

MRS. SLIDELL (CONT’D)
Looks to me like Alexander Stephens.

ABIGAIL
Who?

MRS. SLIDELL
Jeff Davis’ vice president.

A loud CLUNK announces that the weight of the vehicle has depressed a pressure plate.

The section of the wall with the bas-relief carving slides open, and at the same time Abigail notices SOLDIERS emerging from around the tunnel to their rear.

ABIGAIL
And here come his acolytes!

Seeing the opening, the soldiers break into a run. Abigail slams the Hummer into reverse, heading straight for them. Then, brakes into a skid that lines up the vehicle with the entrance. And with their pursuers closing in and the gnashing of gears she squirrels the Hummer through the opening.

THE OUTER VAULT AREA
It is a short trip, for Abigail can’t stop in time to avoid hitting a capstan that runs the door mechanism. The crash sends it flying, and consequently slingshots the door shut behind them, right in the faces of their pursuers, and plunging them into darkness.

MRS. SLIDELL
Well, that was fun. Are we safe or stuck?

ABIGAIL
Safe from their huffing and puffing…for now.

THE CRYSTAL CHAMBER
Water can be heard gurgling somewhere in the dark alongside of the boys as they emerge from a passageway. They stop on a high ledge and watch the water cascade down into a pool that fills most of the chamber. To one side they discover an old wooden stair, and climb down to the lower level. A blank wall greets them on all sides.

RILEY
End of the line?

Ben flashes his light in an arc from side to side. The only obvious entrance is that by which they came, then it lights on stone steps cut in the rock and leading down into the water.

RILEY (CONT’D)
Not another underwater passage!

Ben spots something.

BEN
No. I don’t believe so.

He forges his way over to some machinery in a far recess.

Ropes run from the machinery up into the ceiling. Another huge, unwieldy machine stands nearby with octopus like arms radiating out of its core off into all directions. One pipe along the side hisses harshly. Ben takes a whiff.

BEN (CONT’D)
Gas. For gas lamps. They must have tapped into a natural source.

Ben closes a valve. The hissing ceases and a string of lamps overhead spring to life.

They gasp. The chamber glows an emerald green, accented with clusters of white crystals everywhere.

RILEY
Beautiful!

BEN
Lovely, yes. But not as lovely as my wife. I only pray we haven’t warned anyone that we’re coming.

They follow the path illuminated by the overhead lights, and discover another passage on a blind turn at the back.

THE OUTER VAULT AREA
To their surprise the girls watch as one by one lights begin to ignite around the periphery of the chamber. To their front rank upon rank of cannons stand their vigil around a massive stone fort at their center.

MRS. SLIDELL
Shall we head over there next?

ABIGAIL
You go on ahead. I’m going to make sure there isn’t another open door.

She sets off at a run, picking her way among the parked artillery.

She arrives at a niche in the wall that forms a well. At the bottom she sees another capstan like object and an open door. She bounds down the wooden stairs and seizes the lever release.

HORATIO (O.S.)
You’re too late Mrs. Gates.

Horatio steps out of the shadows, and as she turns to face him, Morgan grabs her from behind.

ABIGAIL
Run! Mrs. Slidell!

The brothers look at one another and smile.

[next pt 47]

Rebel Treasure forty fifth post

Rebel Treasure forty fifth post

UNDERWATER TUNNEL
Ben has taken to the water like an otter. Riley, on the other hand, maintains the grace of a drowning cat.

Ben breaks the surface and feels his way towards the ledge. Riley follows suit, helped along by the taut rope.

LEDGE
Ben flops out of the water and bounds to his feet, braces himself and begins to pull on the line. However, it comes too easily as the line has gone slack, and he can see the form of his friend being swept towards the roaring waterfall.

Then, before he can react, the rope has reached its limit and drags him back into the water.

EDGE OF THE WATERFALL
The bottom half of a stalagmite parts the waters at the lip of the waterfall. Riley tumbles through the white water to one side of the stubby rock while Ben goes down the other channel, snagging a hand-hold on the other side.

Riley’s descent is arrested by the rope between them, momentarily, then begins to drop inch by inch.

BEN
Hang on, Riley! I think I’ve got you!

RILEY (O.S.)
Uh. You can let go now. I’m down.

BEN
What?

RILEY (O.S.)
I’m on terra firma. Pay off the rope and come on down. It’s a short drop.

Ben descends in a smooth, controlled fall, landing on his feet just to the other side of Riley. They splash over the ledge and climb up to the passage. Ben takes out the helmets and gives one to Riley.

BEN
Onward and downward.

THE RING TUNNEL
Abigail lumbers along in her Hummer, with Mrs. Slidell bringing up the rear. Her head swivels as she catches sight of a carving on the wall. She motions to Mrs. Slidell and they both slow to a stop. Abigail hops out and runs to the second Hummer. She halts in front and directs Mrs. Slidell forward onto a pressure plate, which is lined up with a carving of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

INT THE HUMMER
Abigail runs through the gears quickly and barrels down the tunnel.

ABIGAIL
Okay, pop the hood, then bring the keys and come with me.

MRS. SLIDELL
Are you going to tell me what we’re doing?

ABIGAIL
Getting us into the vault. Watch for carvings on the wall.

MRS. SLIDELL
Carvings?

ABIGAIL
Yeah. Like, maybe Jeff Davis or Robert E. Lee.

ANTE-CHAMBER TO THE CAVERN
Sadusky and his crew have fanned out in a semi-circle and press hard upon one of Horatio’s teams.

SADUSKY
You’re cut off, gentlemen, the game is up.

ONE OF HORATIO’S TROOPERS
You have no authority here.

A couple of Sadusky’s men chuckle under their breath at this. Then, from behind them:

HORATIO
He’s right. No one move!

Sadusky and his men freeze. Sadusky looks to his men and a red laser dot has settled on each of them.

HORATIO (CONT’D)
Put your weapons down, slowly!

SADUSKY
Stand down, men. They have the advantage.

STONE DUNGEON
Horatio and Morgan have herded Sadusky and his men into a stone cell, fitted with an iron grate.

HORATIO
(to Morgan)
And have our other prisoners “escaped” as planned?

MORGAN
(nodding)
I expect my team should be calling in any time now.

[next pt 46]

Rebel Treasure forty first post

Rebel Treasure forty first post

INT THE UNLOADING AREA – PRESENT
The bluish white glare of halogen lamps on stands sets the whole area awash in a sea of light, all attention focused on the chute. Rance kneels beside it, peering down its throat with the aid of a flashlight. A SQUAD OF SOLDIERS in climbing gear stand at attention behind him.

Hard by its side, a tent has been pitched, with an honor guard of TWO NEO-NAZI SKINHEADS flanking the entrance.

Suddenly, Horatio emerges from the tent, bulling through the tent flap, not bothering to hold it for his brother. Morgan brushes the flap aside, struggling to hide his aggravation.

HORATIO
Do we have another volunteer?

Rance glances up and points to the FIRST SOLDIER in line. The others breathe a sigh of relief as their comrade obediently steps forward.

Morgan drags the cable from the SUV’s winch over to him and with Rance’s help secures the end to the soldier’s harness.

RANCE
(peering back down the chute)
Just look at all that gold!

MORGAN
Let’s try it real slow this time.

HORATIO
And head first.

The first soldier drops to all fours and crawls head first into the chute. The cable remains taut as it pays out slowly.

FIRST SOLDIER
I can see a catwalk at the bottom. And I count – four, five, six more silos–

His report is cut short by a blood curdling SCREAM, and the cable falls slack.

MORGAN
Bring him back up!

The cable reverses and comes whipping back up out of the chute. All that is attached is the harness, the front of which is cut to ribbons.

MORGAN (CONT’D)
That’s it. No more. I am not going to lose any more men down that trap.

HORATIO
(reluctantly)
OK. Seal it up, we’ll find another way in.

MORGAN
Are you sure there is one?

A warning HONK precedes the RUMBLE of a Hummer in low gear, emerging out of the darkness of the tunnel leading into the loading area. It parks by the SUV and two uniformed PARK RANGERS hop out and drag two women out of the back seats, Abigail and Mrs. Slidell, both bound and blind-folded.

PARK RANGER ONE
(to Horatio)
We found these two poking around on the lower level.

MRS. SLIDELL
How about taking these blinders off?

PARK RANGER TWO
The young one had some interesting documents. The older is just plain trouble.

He hands Horatio a packet.

HORATIO
Good work. I’ll talk to the old bag first.

ABIGAIL
(clutching Mrs. Slidell’s arm)
Don’t you hurt her. You’ll be sorry.

Morgan disengages her arm from his mother’s.

MORGAN
Shut up and sit down!
(to the rangers)
You two can return to patrol.

Horatio removes his mother’s blindfold and ushers her into the tent.

INSIDE THE TENT
Horatio holds up the documents.

HORATIO
Is this the key in, Mother dear?

MRS. SLIDELL
(in a low reproving voice)
Better keep up the “old bag” routine.
(in a loud voice)
I’m not telling you a thing until you tell me who you are.

HORATIO
(loud)
I’m asking the questions. What are you doing here?
(low voice)
Does she know how to get in?

MRS. SLIDELL
(low and accusing)
She seemed to know where she was going before your men stopped us.

HORATIO
(low and contrite)
I see. And now our best bet is for you to stay in her good graces.

MRS. SLIDELL
(loud while nodding)
I’m not speaking to you!

HORATIO
(loud)
So, either it’s torture
(soft)
to blackmail the goods out of her,
(loud)
or–

MRS. SLIDELL
(loud)
Or what?
(soft)
Allow us to escape and I’m sure she can get us in.

[next pt 42]

Rebel Treasure fortieth post

Rebel Treasure fortieth post

THE OUTER VAULT AREA
A stone fort rises from the center of a spherical cavern, hewn from the very rocks of its surroundings. Avenues of access radiate from it like spokes of a wheel, and weapons of all kinds are stacked row upon row between them; stands of rifles and carbines; and artillery parks of light and heavy cannon. The ramparts of the fort are festooned with banners and battle flags, and two Gatling guns in towers flank the entrance.

Lon strides purposefully down the main avenue his red leather map-case slung over his shoulder.

FORT ENTRANCE
TWO GUARDS, armed with rifles and fixed bayonets, snap to attention and step aside for Lon. As he mounts the stairs that traverse the gate, the MUFFLED CLANG of hidden machinery commences deep beneath his feet and a column begins to rise in the center of the fort.

THE FORT AREA
The column reaches its limit, disclosing another entrance. Lon pauses to check that he is alone before plunging through the opening.

THE FORT ENTRANCE
The two guards again come to attention at Louis’ approach.

LOUIS
(returning their salute)
What’s all the commotion?

GUARD ONE
Commander Turner is in the vault, sir.

Louis tries to push pass them, but they lock rifles and block his way. At this affront, Louis’ knife hand twitches.

GUARD TWO
Sorry sir. No one is allowed in, when the Commander is present.

LOUIS
By whose order?

GUARD ONE
The highest, sir. You can wait here if you like. He shouldn’t be long.

LOUIS
Be pleased to inform the Commander that I beg to see him in the guardhouse.

THE VAULT INTERIOR
Lon deposits his map-case on a shelf of a safe. He swings the door shut, and twists three dials. With a sigh of relief he departs.

THE FORT ENTRANCE
At Lon’s KNOCK, the two guards open the gate to him, just as Jonah and another arrive, suited up for guard duty.

LON
Just in time for the change of the guard, I see.

The guards exchange positions and the original duo are about to march away.

GUARD TWO
Lieutenant Toussaint left a request to see you in the guardhouse.

LON
Very well.

Lon and Jonah warily watch their retreat.

JONAH
All’s secure, sir. The workers have been liberated and are now on the way to the rendezvous.

LON
Excellent. Pass the signal to blow the train entrance. I’ll lock down the vault and throw away their “key,” so to speak. All that after I send our friend Louis away.

JONAH
Why? Why not leave him here?

LON
I know he wouldn’t hesitate to abandon us, but I can’t do the same to him.

JONAH
Let’s hope we don’t live to regret it.

[next pt 41]