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WHITE JAZZ. Screenplay and Current Revisions by Matthew Michael Carnahan & Joe Carnahan 9/16/07. Based on the novel "White Jazz" by James Ellroy

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WHITE JAZZ Screenplay and Current Revisions by Matthew Michael Carnahan & Joe Carnahan 9/16/07 Based on the novel White Jazz by James Ellroy Legend: Recife, Brazil, INT. HILLSIDE VILLA - MORNING
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WHITE JAZZ Screenplay and Current Revisions by Matthew Michael Carnahan & Joe Carnahan 9/16/07 Based on the novel White Jazz by James Ellroy Legend: Recife, Brazil, INT. HILLSIDE VILLA - MORNING 1 Stare at my broken face in a gilded mirror. The breaks occurred a lifetime ago, healed uneven. I wear a white tropical button-down, a Republican-gold Rolex, a pirate-patch over what was my left eye. (V.O.) I m old. And all I have left is the will to remember... I reach into a dresser drawer, pull out a yellowed black & white picture of HER: this beatific blonde, sleeping. Below me is a week-old L.A. Times with the headline: Matriarch of Television Series, Empire Ridge, Retires. The Matriarch s picture in the middle. * (V.O.) (CONT'D)...and the fear I ll forget... Slide HER over the Matriarch s picture: the Matriarch 30 years younger now. Lift my eyes back to my reflection. (V.O.) (CONT'D) I killed innocent men. I betrayed sacred oaths. I reaped profit from horror. The names are dead or too guilty to tell. The events so brutal they beg to be re-told... Legend: Los Angeles, Fall INT. OLYMPIC AUDITORIUM - FIGHT NIGHT 2 The battered face of an Irish Pug. Same guy? No. A hard jab bashes the Pug out of frame. And there I am: next to the Ring Magazine Reporter chewing the ass out of his cigar. (V.O.) Lieutenant Dave Klein, Vice Division. LAPD. That s what my face looked like before. My point of view now: Irish Pug on the business end of this bantam Black s combos. Standing to my left: SERGEANT RICHARD JUNIOR STEMMONS. Twenty-six. 2. (V.O.) (CONT'D) Junior Stemmons. A partner I never asked for. The scowl meant to hide a shit-scared kid who d been teaching evidence classes three months ago. His Old-Man was an LAPD lifer who never got past Sergeant. JUNIOR STEMMONS We should make our move now. Mid-fight? Look at the crowd: you wanna be at the center of a riot? JUNIOR STEMMONS I don t wanna be here when Noonan and the Feds show up. I point at the bantam Black: We let Sanderline finish this beating, we get his gratitude. * Junior eyes the exits clockwise, nervous, waiting for Untouchables to break the doors down. I hate the way panic smells when I stand this close to it. JUNIOR STEMMONS We gonna let Rock-a-bye fight too- -relax Junior. 3 INT. LOCKER ROOM - MONTS LATER 3 The Bantam Black: SANDERLINE JOHNSON. Led through the double doors. He sees me, then his gaze shifts to Junior popping jabs inches from REUBEN RUIZ: a muscled middle-weight, fighttaped hands cuffed behind his back. I smile big: Sanderline, I m Lieutenant Klein of the LAPD and a real big fan- JUNIOR STEMMONS -you re under arrest. Sanderline spooks, steps back. Turn and make sure Junior sees the fire in my eyes, keep staring at Junior as I speak to Sanderline again: 3. No you re not. Reuben is- REUBEN RUIZ -Lieutenant Dave why you arrest- -for being a ranked fighter who still steals hubcaps. Shut up. (off Ruiz, back to Sanderline) If I was gonna arrest you, I wouldn t have let you finish: and that hook-uppercut combo you got is something special. (from Reuben, beat) Reuben s in custody. But you could be our Guest. Whaddya say? 4 EXT. OLYMPIC AUDITORIUM - MONT LATER 4 Me, Junior, Reuben, and Sanderline aim for the nearest exit. Behind the stands. Reuben and Sanderline in street clothes, hats pulled down tight. Feature the Announcer: RING ANNOUNCER Ladies and Gentleman...due to circumstances beyond our control, Rock-A-Bye Ruiz will not fight this- -BOOS drown the PA. Beer and lit cigars shell the Announcer. Fights erupt in the stands. I can t stifle a chuckle. Three exits down: day late-dollar short Feds. WELLES NOONAN, elbowsout, surveying the scene like a half-assed Rommel. Move faster. (V.O.) Welles Noonan, US Attorney. Ivy League Crimefighter. Launching a big boxing probe as a way to begin prying into everything else crooked and corrupt in LA. (V.O.) (CONT'D) Unaware the LAPD was walking away with his two big witnesses. As we near the side exit I stop. Junior pauses, less than a foot from my face, pointing up at Noonan, pure panic. 4. JUNIOR STEMMONS C MON-JESUS-HE S RIGHT THERE! My P.O.V.: second row, washed-up gangster Mickey Cohen with a Blonde far too beautiful for his world, a woman you ve seen before, but only in a yellowed B&W picture 30 years in the future. I can t take my eyes away...five seconds- JUNIOR STEMMONS (CONT D) -HE SEES US! Noonan s gaze strafes us. I see him squint. Then you can stop pointing at him. Double-time out the double-doors. 5 INT. AMBASSADOR HOTEL - NIGHT 5 9th floor suite. All four of us. I order room service. Hungry Sanderline? Sanderline digs the digs: sports the Ambassador robe over his street clothes, reading the Bible. SANDERLINE JOHNSON If they got shrimp. (into the phone) Shrimp cocktail. (over to Reuben) You want something Reuben? REUBEN RUIZ To know why the fuck I m here- JUNIOR STEMMONS -mind your tone, Shitbird... REUBEN RUIZ Shitbird went out with Vaudeville. You get your badge in a cereal box? You re here because we want you to remember where you live. 5. SANDERLINE (grade-school mind) City of Angels. Excellent Sanderline. What? REUBEN RUIZ You live in LA, Asshole. You do not live in Federal Government. Ruiz turns caught-me pink...i nod to Junior: split em. Playing adjoining hotel rooms like sweat boxes. JUNIOR STEMMONS We get to spend time alone now. REUBEN RUIZ Want some perfume? Junior shoves Ruiz through the inner-door connecting the rooms. Sanderline giggles. Close the door behind them. Sit down inches from Sanderline, change my tone: Instant quiet. Stop laughing. (CONT D) What were you gonna tell Welles Noonan? (watch as he flinches) He has a subpoena with your name on it, Sanderline. Why would someone like you need to talk to the U.S. Attorney? Sanderline staying silent... (CONT'D) You re a legbreaker for the Mob. I know the Men that pay you for that will murder you if they hear you re about to talk to the U.S.- SANDERLINE JOHNSON -but they don t know... 6. (beat, small smile) And they don t have to. Now tell me what you were gonna tell Noonan- -phone rings. Sanderline flinches for the second time. SANDERLINE Bet you they ran outta shrimp. I stand, step, answer it: Yeah. UNIDENTIFIED VOICE (O.S.) The Spook with you? Mild shock. Catalogue potential who s... UNIDENTIFIED VOICE (CONT D) C mon, we know he is. We re just trying to be mysterious- -who s we? UNIDENTIFIED VOICE (O.S.) Me and Sam G. (V.O.) G for Giancana. I owe him favors for the rest of my life. UNIDENTIFIED VOICE (O.S.) We re out at the place in Palm Springs. You should come out for the weekend. Tell Sam if I get minute- UNIDENTIFIED VOICE -yer gonna have to make a minute for him. Now. See, we think the Spade might testify that Sam owns him and how we was grooming him for a title shot he was gonna tank. A fight everybody woulda got flush off of, including the Spade. * (beat, quieter) Have him look out the window Klein. 7. Click. A breath. Drop the phone on the cradle...step to the window...open it...then I chuckle genuine: Sanderline, you gotta see this... Trusting puppy Sanderline steps to the window: What m I- SANDERLINE JOHNSON -smash his head against the frame using his forward motion. He loses muscle control for the split-second it takes me to pitch his legs up and out. My face a quick-change evil mask. Feature Sanderline s nine-story fall. That Ambassador Hotel robe billows behind him like a cape. He detonates an overhead streetlight with a bomb sound, then hits the driveway. Unzip my fly, hustle into the bathroom, screams from outside now. Flush the toilet as Junior and Ruiz pile through the door. Step out, play it baffled: look at the bed where Sanderline sat, then the open window, screams floating up... DID THAT MUTT JUST JUMP? Lunge to the window: Sanderline post-mortem. Head shattered. Valets sprinting. Junior on the phone. Ruiz steps-up next to me: horrified. I keep staring at the smashed body...whisper: (CONT D) Remember where you live. Reuben has to use both hands to steady himself. 6 INT. POLICE HEADQUARTERS - BRADLEY'S OFFICE - MORNING 6 Spartan space appointed with high-ticket items like the mahogany table around which we sit. Outside: echoes of a protest filter through the windows: MUFFLED PROTEST AMALGAM (O.C.) XICAN BROTHERS SI! IMPERIAL DODGERS NO! Four of us at the table glued to the T.V, watching U.S. Attorney Welles Noonan lambasting the LAPD. (V.O.) LA s version of the Young Turks, only meaner. (MORE) (V.O.) (cont'd) Boyce Bradley, Chief of Detectives. Smartest man in town. And one of the richest: Dad was a Real Estate Developer who owned a strip of land that s now known as the Santa Monica Freeway. On either side, Bradley s book-ends: D.A. Bob Gallaudet, not the smartest man in town: Gas Chamber Bob cribbed my notes at USC Law. And Tom Bethune, running for a City Council seat that ll decide if this Mexican slum called Chavez Ravine gets bulldozed and renamed Dodger Stadium. * BRADLEY Turn it off. Bethune leaps like a lapdog, hits the power. I was pissing. He was jumping. Bradley picks up a newspaper: BRADLEY US Attorney Noonan is accusing the Los Angeles Police Department in general, and Lt. David Klein in particular, of murder at worst, gross incompetence at best... Noonan had Sanderline scared. After he sang to me he panicked & jumped. TOM BETHUNE He did spend a month in Camarillo Mental Hospital last year- GAS CHAMBER BOB -and wearing that hotel robe over his clothes makes him look even more looney-bin. TOM BETHUNE Plus, Reuben Ruiz recanted. So Noonan s Boxing Probe is dead. He s got nothing- BRADLEY -but time, a mandate and new targets...i need to speak to the Lieutenant alone. 8. 9. Bob and Tom nod, pat my back on the way out: proud uncles lending support before Dad drops the hammer. Door closes. I stand, step to the window, big Pro-Mex protest below: Geeks and placards: BASEBALL IS AS ARICAN AS THE TRAIL OF TEARS! BRADLEY (CONT D) Describe to me your duty, as you understood it, regarding Sanderline Johnson and Reuben Ruiz. Take both men into custody before Noonan and the Feds could, and find * out what they were going to tell- BRADLEY -and why did I choose you for this? Because I m a Cop with a law degree, and you thought my legal- BRADLEY -because your a thug with a law degree. Because I thought by now you d be so indebted to this Department for not indicting and/or * imprisoning you, that diligent, honest discharge of duty would be assured. (beat) And I made a horrible misjudgment. * Bethune and Gallaudet don t think so. BRADLEY Bob s happy because he wants to be State Attorney General and his most likely opponent will be Welles Noonan. Tom s happy because Morton Diskant, who s leading their City Council race, is endorsed by Noonan. Thus, they re not seeing the larger play. (with calculated emphasis) Noonan s new target will likely be the LAPD itself. How do you know that? 10. I wave it all off: BRADLEY Because that s where I would aim: a subpoenaed Federal witness plummets to his death in the company of two LAPD detectives? (beat) This screams Police Corruption. * This offers Noonan the possibility of payback in the form of national headlines. Johnson did that stint at the Nut House -- leak his file to your friends at the times- -and Bradley drops his bomb: Coroner s file. I stare...guess the contents...try to keep my heart rate in-check... BRADLEY My friends would be more interested in this. (beat, flipping file open) Coroner s preliminary: white paint chips found embedded in Sanderline Johnson s scalp. A matching dent on the white window sill. I checked with the hotel switchboard and found a call was patched to your room at about the same time Johnson flew out of it. (beat, proclamation:) It shocks and sickens me that your allegiance to the Chicago mob would take precedence over the LAPD. (fuck drawing this out) Alright. Where s this going? * (pull my badge, table it) Gun? Shield? What? BRADLEY The appearance of disciplinary measures taken against you are mandated post-sanderline Johnson, * so your suspension will be recorded but sealed...and kept quiet for now- * 11. So if the papers or Noonan come sniffing around- BRADLEY -we can provide adequate proof of your dismissal. But you re not dismissing me. BRADLEY Just on paper. (closes the file) Since I misjudged the Cop I thought you were, I m going to leverage the Cop that you are. Bradley slides the morning paper over. Front page: Candidate Diskant Hears The Hue and Cry of The Underclass... The photo shows a smiling Diskant, rolled shirt-sleeves, in the middle * of a sea of LA Immigrants, all smiling back. * BRADLEY (CONT'D) Morton Diskant is to be removed from the City Council race. The means and methods implemented to that end I will entrust to you. (throw a thumb at Bethune) You want me to torpedo Diskant so your buddy Bethune can win a City * Council seat uncontested- BRADLEY -or spend the next month in lock-up * before being arraigned on charges * of gross misconduct and dereliction * of duty. The preamble before you * face life in prison for murder. * I stare back. Feel myself getting fitted for strings... BRADLEY (CONT'D) Diskant works Saturdays. Late. Bradley waves me out. I intentionally drag my badge back across the desk, scratching his Mahogany heirloom. * 12. 7 INT. MY 1955 PONTIAC - MORNING 7 Hollywood Hills loom in the distance. (V.O.) Bradley s stooge now. A smart play suspending me: a built-in shield * for him if things go sideways. Traffic teeming up Fairfax, tourettes-like glances in my rearview...a Black Buick...maybe mirroring my lane changes. (V.O.) (CONT'D) Black Buick...five Cars back...feels like a tail... Brake hard. They hang a left on Fountain. (V.O.) (CONT'D)...or maybe I just need sleep. Cruising up Nichols Canyon to the pad, cameras and copywriters loom on my front lawn. (V.O.) (CONT'D) Press camped out post-sanderline, looking for quotes to hang me with. * Slouch in the seat, accelerate, keep looking back...dig that geek from the Hearld pissing in my hedges. 8 EXT. WESTWOOD COTTAGE - MORNING 8 Up the walkway. (V.O.) Retreat to Meg s. My kid sister and only living family. Mom and Pop died in 51 when their first plane ride became their last. Scoop Meg s LA Herald of the ground. Headlines condemn me. Tuck it under my arm as Meg opens the door: G (glances from paper to me) I already got the Times inside. 13. 9 INT. WESTWOOD COTTAGE - MONTS LATER 9 Silver tea-pot over blue flame on olive-drab stove. The Times open on the table between us...same shitty headlines. G How much is true? How many times have I lied to you? Zero. G Shrug. Play aloof. Hope it suffices. You ve always liked your Men mean. She looks up at me. Feels the shame I shun... * What would Mom and Dad say? Nothing. That s where I learned it. She stands, goes to the stove. Poor you. G Yeah, pour me...a cup please. Black, no sugar. Meg stares darts. I smile to defuse. (CONT'D) Pretty please. She fetches cups and saucers. (CONT'D) How s work? * G It s work. How s Pete? 14. G More work. Quiet while we wait for the pot...and quiet always means creeping sleep: an Enemy I never stop fighting. Force my eyes open, shift in my seat: I ve been exhausted for years. I drift despite my best efforts and for a split second you see the Hell I see when sleep wins: 10 INT./EXT. NIGHTMARE 10 Fire where the clouds should be -- POP -- in a backseat, point-blank Tommy-gunning two smiling men -- POP -- Marine fatigues soaked in blood, plunging my bayonet into a cheesecake-white belly -- POP -- that beautiful blonde from * the Olympic, smiling -- POP- * 11 INT. WESTWOOD COTTAGE - SA MONT 11 -awake. My leg jerks, kicks a big Wing-Tip. A cup of coffee pipes in front of me. Then voices. I turn: PETE BONDURANT has his hands on my sister s shoulders. Meg cackles. (V.O.) Big Pete Bondurant. One-time LA Sheriff. Bounced when he beat-dead a Prisoner who spit at him. A duly impressed Howard Hughes hired him on as his full-time muscle. My Sister s new Hump. My oldest living Friend. PETE (turns back at me) You look like Death taking a shit. G He s still got that MGM-face. PETE You re still the only guy who ever traded movie-potential for Police work. G Because in the movies they make you pull your punches. 15. Drain my mug. To Pete: Wanna do LAPD a favor tonight? G No. We re going to the Cocoanut- -Pete puts an extended index finger in front of Meg s lips, which she bends backwards. PETE Favor mean free? Means $500 an hour. G Gimme the phone so I can find another Date- -you re the only Woman I know who calls Men- G -you re the only Man I know who doesn t call Women. Pete laughs, then: * PETE What are we doing? 12 EXT. LOW RENT OFFICE BUILDING, EAST LA - NIGHT 12 Me and Junior in the car. Pete street-side, tucked into the shadows -- mimes jacking off, checks his watch. Everybody bored. Glance again at the file in my lap: (V.O.) Morton Diskant, a man who preferred migrant workers to million dollar ballparks. Beating Bethune in their City Council Race despite getting outspent 10 to 1. (beat) If he wins, the Dodgers don t get a Stadium, Mexicans get to keep raising chickens two miles from City Hall and Bradley makes sure I * burn for Sanderline Johnson. * 16. Junior in the backseat, penning in a steno, mouthing something to himself. (V.O.) (CONT D) Junior brought along because he begged. Already hip to how many ways you can make money with a badge. JUNIOR STEMMONS You got a birthday coming up. What? JUNIOR STEMMONS On the 16th, right? How old? Old. What are you writing? * Head down, scribbling mid-sentence, makes me wait a beat. JUNIOR STEMMONS Just notes...about work- -what work? JUNIOR STEMMONS Mostly compare and contrast stuff. Street work versus textbook- -chapter 1: don t write shit down. Chapter 2: or other Cops might kill * you. Junior s look practiced in a mirror: clicks the pen, slides the steno away. JUNIOR STEMMONS So you think Noonan will come after you for the Sanderline thing? He seems like a real hard charger. Bait him, see if he bites. (the deadest deadpan) I heard he was coming after both of us. 17. Feature real concern from Junior. What? JUNIOR STEMMONS Indictments. Prison time. Whole nine. JUNIOR STEMMONS Holy Jesus. Is this true? I m seriously thinking about turning Junior...testifying against you. Junior goes sour...gets he s being goosed. I laugh, glance out the windshield: see Diskant finally exiting the office. (CONT D) Here we go. I start the car, slow-roll up the street. My Hamilton says 11:04 PM. Streets deserted. Pete walking in Diskant s direction now as I continue to roll toward both. Pete close, dig his giant head nodding hello. (V.O.) Seen Pete do this a dozen times and every time the same thought: Pete suddenly puts his back into an left hook: hammers Diskant from nowhere as they pass. Instant-ugly crumble. (V.O.) (CONT'D) God help me if he ever hits me like that. Pete hoists Diskant by his waist-band, tosses him in the backseat. I accelerate out, obeying every law. CUT TO: PITCH BLACK. Then a series of strobe-flashbulbs: maybe flesh, maybe two bodies, maybe both hairy/pale. Then groaning, then flickering fluorescent lights make it all look jaundiced. 13 INT. LOW RENT FUCK-TEL ROOM - SA MONT 13 Lights now. Diskant awake, trying to loosen his jaw. 18. (V.O.) Junior picked up this Quiff jocking other Fags in a Men s Room. But Quiff was a Law Student who wanted his record kept clean. Quiff nervous but cooing, dick out, on Diskant s thigh. Junior just as nervous...reloading a camera. JUNIOR STEMMONS He should suck his dick. Y know? Put the icing on it. A baffled moment as the comment registers. What? PETE JUNIOR STEMMONS Tell me that wouldn t sell it...plus he s a Communist. We re ruining his career, not his soul. Reload the camera. Diskant finally speaks: marble-mouthed. Pushes Quiff away: Off me! MORTON DISKANT Don t waste a second: grab Diskant by the hair, narrate his immediate future. Drop out of the City Council race or I send these pictures to the papers. Diskant rips his head free
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