THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN
INT MEETING HALL NIGHT
The meeting ha11 is over-filled 200 unemployed, blue-collar W0RKERS. Their angry SH0UTS bounce off the bare walls and reverberate through the room.
The MODERATOR BANGS a wooden gavel to restore order.
Alright ! Alright ! Shut up for
a second, will ya? Sit down
There’s no response from the unruly crowd.. The moderator tracks the room with his eyes.
A door opens in back and the moderator’s face shows a slimmer of hope as he sees the new arrival. He calls out, pleadingly.
Hey Sol! Sol! Get up here.
There’s a MURMUR from the crowd. Heads turn. They follow the Moderator’ gaze to SOL GANN, a rugged, square-built man with a tough exterior and an intense, calm manner.
Sol’s 13 year old daughter, NATTY GANN, gives him a shove from behind and launches him toward the podium. She beams with pride as she watches the crowd make way for him. She thinks he’s about the most handsome man in the world, better even than any of those movie stars. She even dresses like him in worn trousers, leather jacket and an old cap with a bill that she pinches between her fingers from time to time just like he does.
Natty is obviously a tom-boy…a street-urchin with a charming sparkle .
As Sol takes his place at the front, the room begins to quiet. He searches the faces of his fellow workers.
I talked to them. But there’s
nothing I can say you don’t
already know. They’ll pay 30
cents for day work. No more.
30 cents won’t even pay the
We ought to hang the bastards.
The crowd AGREES ANGRILY.
That won’t feed your kids.
Sol tracks the room with his eyes, probing the faces of his fel1ow workers. His stare slowly quiets them.
Times are hard, sure. But you
Can’t let it eat up your
insides.You’re honest people,
hard working. Stay proud of it.
Don’t let them beat you down,
make you give up being who you
are, make you feel small.
They’re trying to tell us we’re
not worth much, but that ain’t
Natty begins to fidget. Adult talk gets pretty boring after a while even if it is So1 doing the talking. She signals to a friend.
LOUIE, a boy Natty’s age, turns. Natty motions him to follow her. She signals to another boy, FRANKIE. The boys slip quietly from their places and follow her through the hall to the men’s room.
INT MEN’S ROOM NIGHT
Natty, Frankie and Louie crowd into one of the stalls and throw the latch on the door.
Sure I got it.
Natty reaches deep in her pocket and proudly retrieves a crumpled cigarette butt.
Hey she got it.
I said I would. (to Frankie) You
got the matches?
Frankie looks suddenly sheepish. He searches through all his pockets then shrugs.
Natty flashes him a look of utter contempt.
Natty pushes deep into her own pocket and triumphantly pulls out a box of matches. She lights the cigarette and coughs as she inhales. She passes the butt to Louie who takes a puff and passes it to Frankie.
They turn slightly green around the edges as the cigarette passes between them again.
The outer bathroom door opens and they hear approaching FOOTSTEPS. Louie whispers to Natty who whispers back loudly.
Hold your ears.
Don’t be dumb. I’ve heard a man
Louie’s face goes red with embarrrassment as they HEAR pee hitting the urinal outside. He can’t look Natty in the eye. He seems to relax again as the FOOTSTEPS recede and the outer door opens. Snatches of Sol’s TALK drift in through the open door before it closes again.
If you’re working hard, you
ought to be paid for it. An
honest wage for honest work.
But the only way to get that is
by sticking together. Fighting
back. If we don’t fight back,
together, we fall. One by one.
Your Dad’s giving them hell.
My Dad says he’s a Red.
Says they ought to ship him to
Russia cause he’s a Commie.
He is not !
My Dad says he is.
Well your Dad’s as dumb as you
You calling my Dad dumb?
You calling my Dad a Commie?
Yeah! You want to make
Something of it?
Natty hauls back and strikes out, shoving her fist into Frankie’s belly with a pounding THUD. He fal1s backwards but gets up in an instant and leaps at Natty.
They roll out of the stall and across the floor scratching and hitting. Louie tries unsuccessfully to break up the fight.
Hey! Knock it off. Frankie!
The NOISE of the struggle brings adults from the meeting room. They step into the middle of the fight and with some difficulty pull Natty and Frankie apart.
END PART 1
Monday, 11/22/ Part 2
A script analysis of her favorite childhood novel – written as a USC class assignment – led Jeanne Rosenberg to her first Hollywood writing assignment on The Black Stallion. Switching from documentary filmmaker to narrative screenwriter, Jeanne studied her craft while working as a script supervisor on numerous films before completing her first original screenplay, The Journey of Natty Gann. She has been writing as well as producing and directing ever since. In addition, Jeanne has taught graduate screenwriting at USC and National University.