Lasseter

by Paul Rybak

Feature Film
Email: p.rybak@bigpond.com

Classic underdog and dreamer finally realises Gold reef quest in one of the biggest cons of all time involving America and Australia. 'Lasseter,' a fictional film for a strong male lead set in early Australia (1870-1930), explores the life and times of real life confidence man Harold "Shortnin" Lasseter and his quest to find the legendary 10 mile Gold reef in the Northern Territory of Australia. Lasseter is a rollicking modern adventure involving conflict, adventure, intrigue, suspense and romance in the vein of such Cinema greats as 'Gunga Din', Raiders of the lost ark and 'The treasure of Sierra Madre jam-packed with attention-grabbing characters and scenery told with panache, humour and lack of restraint. Set between 1870 and 1930 with present day interludes, Lasseter presents a dreamer and underdog who finally makes his dreams come true and gains redemption from the monotony of a dreary life.

"LASSETER THEME" PLAYS TO BLACK SCREEN.

 

DISSOLVE TO:

Sydney 2005. The sky is blazing Gold with the intensity of the Sun. The beautiful harbor is depicted - Harbor Bridge. Modern Buildings, Parks, Circular Quay and the Manly Ferry.
A large sun ray points directly to the CBD.   It centers upon - EXT. HAMPTON HOTEL,CBD SYDNEY -- AFT
Parked outside are new Sports cars and a vintage Villiers motorcycle with sidecar.

 

INT. HAMPTON HOTEL,CBD SYDNEY -- AFT

CUT TO:

The Hotel is retro modern with glistening chrome. A trio of "SUIT'S" are standing at the Bar. The background music is Neil Young's "Heart of Gold.'

SUIT 3
Three Lasseter's thanks.
SUIT 1
I told you to buy at 350. Gold's now up to 425 and I've made a killing.

SUIT 2
I've invested in Belgrove mines. Straight from the source as they say.

SUIT 3
I'll hedge between you two.

 

ANGLE ON

EXECUTIVE CHEF ANTOINE, An old dandy aged at 125 years old! He is remarkably well preserved with inquisitive eyes dressed in a tailored suit of Almond-green and holding a teak walking stick it's tip glowing like a blue hydrangea.          He suddenly stands up straight,bangs the stick on the bar and stamps his feet.     He has a high shrill French voice.

ANTOINE
Dom Perignon for Antoine immediately!

The SUITS look at him and laugh.

 

SUIT 1
Hope you are not eavesdropping. (Takes his Lasseter)
Hmm,Vodka, Goldwasser and Pineapple juice. Four of these should see me out.

ANTOINE
Monsieur,your tales hold no interest to me. I am of another age.

SUIT 1
No offence intended but your times don't matter anymore. Nobody cares. It's 2005.

The BARTENDER gives the bottle of Dom to ANTOINE who carefully lays four One hundred dollar notes down upon the bar making a cross of them.                      He moves back to his table,pours a drink and stares intently at his wedding finger.       On it is a ring, it's oversize crystal holding a single tear.     ANTOINE disappears into his own world.        He stares directly towards the screen.

ANTOINE
Let's see if we disagree with Monsieur Suit.          I wish to tell you a little fable.          But first a little lesson.

DISSOLVE TO:
CGI: An Old World Map appears dated 1776.     It has a line appearing first in Plymouth England then traveling all the way to Botany bay Australia.

ANTOINE (CONT'D)
Australia was the last big Island we all wanted to find. Finally a bunch of
(snorts)
Englishmen found it in their wooden boat. I would have sunk it with a cannon. However, just like America the new continent was opened up.

A montage of Sepia photos appear - Convicts making houses.
Horse carts driven on a rough dirt road near the harbor.

 

Men and women tilling the ground. Sheep and cattle grazing.
ANTOINE (CONT'D)
Now back to my little fable. However amusing it is to speak ill of one's enemies, it is even more delectable to speak ill of one's friends.
(He swigs from the Dom bottle)
Some people just sleep through life.       However...Monsieur Shortnin', well...

DISSOLVE TO: INT. AN OLD HOUSE 1890 SYDNEY -- AFTERNOON
HAROLD LASSETER, a young boy of twelve lies on his old bed reading in awe two books, "Captain's loot" and "Cut throat Jack and the golden doubloons."

 

EXT. SCHOOLYARD,1890 SYDNEY -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO:

LASSETER is getting a good beating by schoolboys.
SCHOOLBOY
Your fathers dead! Your mothers poor,you'll be nothing ever more!

CUT TO:

INT. SCHOOLROOM, 1890 SYDNEY -- AFTERNOON
An insolent looking LASSETER is regarding the NUN who yells at him.

NUN
Tell me monkey what is four times six?

LASSETER
Twenty one.
NUN
Go outside and THINK!!!
Lasseter looks at the crucifix on the wall.

 

LASSETER
Mr. Jesus knows what I think of you. He probably thinks it too.

The NUN screams and races after LASSETER with her stick.    She trips over her habit and the kids laugh.

CGI: Of an accelerated clock showing the passing hours.
CUT TO:

EXT. SCHOOL BELL -- AFTERNOON
LASSETER is staring at the ground. OLIVE MAY, a schoolgirl with red flowing hair walks up to him and smiles.        She gives him a lolly and smiles.

ANTOINE
You must admit young Lasseter had it a bit hard and was mighty dumb at maths but never with the ladies. Especially Miss Olive May Belgrove from the Araluen Goldfields and finally Goulburn. Rumor had it she held out with the bushranger Ned Kelly but found him smelly and a touch not all there. With Lasseter it was love at first sight.     By God he could talk too.

 

INT. SCHOOLROOM, 1890 SYDNEY -- MORNING

CUT TO:

LASSETER is back with his classmates. He is reading aloud and writing on the blackboard. They are all mesmerized by his dexterity in English.

LASSETER
Scholars, the quixotic nuances of "Treasure Island" can be depicted thus...

 

INT. LASSETER'S DESK -- MORNING

CUT TO:

A sign reads "Mr. Harold Lasseter, 1st Prize English."
CUT TO:

 

INT. LAW SCHOOL 1896 SYDNEY -- EVENING
An eighteen year old LASSETER is being praised by the selection committee.           LASSETER however, shakes his head and leaves.

ANTOINE
Shortnin' knew that every hick village, provincial town and major city in the world has slimy, sniveling, back stabbing snake faced lawyer bastards and most of them aren't worth a dogs backside. What the world does not have enough of is unique individuals...Lasseter was. You may see that he was short for his age. My memories a bit slow but he told me he did all sorts of wondrous things...

The following Sepia montage of LASSETER portrays on the screen.

Armed robbery stealing comic books.
At a Christian reform school praying and being beaten senseless by the Priest.

Leading a World War One battle charge in a Colonels uniform. Crossing the Atlantic in the First class smokers room.
Sharecropping in Kansas with a pregnant wife.
Surveying and engineering in 1920's skyscraper New York.
ANTOINE (CONT'D)
...But in reality which most of us hate, I reckon he did the following.

 

EXT. ALICE SPRINGS, 1897 WORK GANG -- DAY

DISSOLVE TO:

LASSETER is bashing pivots into railway sleepers with a mallet.        The BOSMAN leads them into a work song whilst swinging a mighty big truncheon.

BOSMAN
"We boys workin' way down south. We love workin' for cash,if not Bosman will us bash, bash, bash."

 

LASSETER Is starting to struggle with his mallet.
BOSMAN (CONT'D)
Shortnin' hurry up there! Help him along boys.

All of a sudden the whole work gang breaks out into the old Black spiritual "Mammas little baby loves shortnin' bread." LASSETER throws down his mallet and tackles the nearest man. A mighty good fight occurs with LASSETER at first winning.
He then runs off towards the hot desert.
BOSMAN (CONT'D)
Shortnin' you'll be dead in two days!

 

EXT. DESERT -- MORNING

CUT TO:

LASSETER is stumbling along the railway tracks. He suddenly falls prostate upon the line. (O.S.) a buggy is heard. The BOSMAN appears picking him up.

BOSMAN
Don't die on me son. I'll say this for you shortnin' you sure are different to them other gorillas back there.

ANTOINE V/O
And young shortnin' earned enough to...

DISSOLVE TO: EXT. ALICE SPRINGS, 1897 -- STORE MAIN STREET AFTERNOON
LASSETER is dressed in prospectors gear. He hugs OLIVE MAY who has some dressmaking material.        He leaves the store and is about to mount his horse when the STOREMAN beckons to him.

STOREMAN
I've seen plenty of fools in my time but you take the cake.

LASSETER
Well now Shakespeare's fool came out a winner in the end.

 

STOREMAN
Bet that fool feller died in the goldfields or came back a ravin' drunkard. Does he live here?

LASSETER
(sarcastically)
No, he went to England. Tell you what mister, I'll make a deal with you.  I'll come back with enough gold for you to make a golden horseshoe. You can nail it to the wall and put on it, "Given to me by a fool."

STOREMAN
How old are you son?
LASSETER
Some say I'm twenty-one, others say twenty-four.         Me I reckon around seventeen.

OLIVE MAY
Don't make me a widow shortnin'.
STOREMAN
If them Aborigines don't spear him the sun will.

LASSETER
Tell you one last thing mister. If I were you I'd set up a cattle corral, cathouse, bank, hotel, funeral parlor and a doctor's room. Put them all together like. That's the future.     I call em' Malls.

LASSETER smiles, doffs his hat and nearly falls as the horse gallops off.

STOREMAN
What's the horses name?
LASSETER
Julius Caesar!

 

 

CUT TO:

 

EXT. CENTRAL AUSTRALIAN DESERT -- AFTERNOON
LASSETER is slowly riding in the hot sun west of Alice Springs towards the foreboding MacDonnell Ranges.       The land is wild with mulga, sand and spinifax.

LASSETER
Well Julius, Rome wasn't built in a day. Do you reckon we will conquer this great barren horseshit of a place in a day?

JULIUS rears up at the Horse insult throws LASSETER and gallops off.

LASSETER (CONT'D)
Now boy, don't take it personally. Come back here!

LASSETER runs off to find Julius. As he climbs a windy sand dune, he trips, falls down a narrow valley and lands in golden sand suffering concussion.            As he comes to his senses he is surrounded in a Golden haze.      All around him is Gold, Gold, Gold - a glistening reef as far as he can see.

LASSETER (CONT'D)
Julius! Thank you!
CGI: Of JULIUS talking.
JULIUS
I'm not to sure I should have bucked you. This is going to change your life Son.

LASSETER virtually swims in the gold dust and showers with it.   He stuffs as much as he can in his tuckerbag and tries to roughly peg out a claim.               He starts to walk in an easterly direction back to Alice Springs. He stumbles in the heat and drinks his last drop of water.     As he falls his dehydrated brain sees-

Pirates shaking his hand and then beheading him with cutlasses.

Himself in a harem.
Himself as King of England.
From LASSETER'S P.O.V we see a camel ridden by an Afghan Trader coming towards him.

 

LASSETER
Are you Sinbad? A wise man?
The camel trader smiles, jumps off and at first speaks in his native Pashto saying hello.

CAMEL TRADER
Staray më she!
LASSETER

What?

CAMEL TRADER

Me Dost. You lost.
LASSETER
I've found what no man has ever found.
(Pause)
Freedom and ecstasy!
DOST
You talk with the sun. If you no go to Alice you die.

DOST makes a hammock from some canvas in his sack, places LASSETER upon it, gives him water and covers him from burning.         He regards him and shakes his head.

DOST (CONT'D)
Dost read Arabian Nights. He search for ecstasy too and never find.     Even at night.

They slowly make their way towards Alice Springs amongst picturesque red sandstone gorges, enticing water holes lined by red river gum and ghost gum trees.    Unseen by LASSETER and DOST they are observed by three Aboriginals.

LASSETER
Julius!  We have to find him.
DOST

Julius?

LASSETER

Julius Caesar. He was with me all the way.

DOST
You should not be here boy. Dost know what happen to Julius.

 

 

What?

LASSETER

DOST

He stabbed.
LASSETER
No!  He ran off the coward. He left me to fry in the heat.

DOST just ignores him and prods the camel to move more quickly.

LASSETER (CONT'D)
I must write letters, maps, drafts.
LASSETER falls in and out of sleep as DOST regards him with mirth.

DOST
Dost here seventeen years and see no mile of gold....plenty dead men and men who tell lies...            Not even one inch of gold.

DOST halts observing the harsh terrain.
DOST (CONT'D)
We stay here tonight. I look after you.

LASSETER
I have to get back!
DOST
I take you back dead then.
DOST makes camp and a fire. From the bush a rustle is heard as HARDING a rough looking young man enters the campsite.  He looks at DOST.

HARDING
Don't mind me Ghan. That boy looks like a dead man.

DOST
He rest.  Tomorrow we go.
HARDING
I said don't mind me. I'm just a surveyor. Just checking out things.

LASSETER tries to rise up.

LASSETER
Surveyor?  You might be able to help me.

DOST
Stay down boy.
Harding looks at LASSETER'S Tuckerbag.
HARDING
How can I help you boy?
LASSETER falls down again.
DOST
Me cook emu. You want?
HARDING
Don't mind if I do.
They sit down and eat and then settle in for the night. HARDING slides over to LASSETER who is dead to the world and opens his tuckerbag.           He sifts the gold dust through his hands.

From DOST'S P.O.V we see him watching HARDING.
CUT TO:

EXT. DESERT -- MORNING
DOST is arguing with HARDING. LASSETER is watching them and regards it as funny and throws Emu meat at them.

DOST
I see you look in tuckerbag.
HARDING
So what Ghan?
DOST
Dost no like you.
HARDING
Gold has no friends.
LASSETER
I don't think I'll find the place again.

HARDING
Well maybe my instruments can help.

 

HARDING pushes DOST

 

HARDING (CONT'D)

Get lost Ghan.
DOST suddenly throws HARDING to the ground in a perfect judo throw.

LASSETER
You know Karate?
DOST
No. Just Dost.
LASSETER
Maybe we should go?
DOST picks LASSETER up and places him on the makeshift bed.
CGI: DOST'S camel kicks HARDING and says "That's one from me!"

CGI: As they start for Alice Springs two little Devils wearing Cowboy hats, one White, the other Black appear on LASSETER'S Shoulder.

BLACK DEVIL
Don't be greedy boy. Share with charity.         Life is short for you shortnin'
(laughs at his own joke)
Be greedy open up a cat house or something people really want.

WHITE DEVIL
With your gold start an orphanage for the children of dead prospectors.

The BLACK DEVIL punches the WHITE DEVIL off his shoulder. LASSETER shakes his head.
LASSETER
Must be the heat.

DISSOLVE TO: EXT. ALICE SPRINGS, PROSPECTORS STORE -- MORNING
DOST dismounts and tends to LASSETER who is regaining his senses.        OLIVE MAY stares out the window, puts down her dressmaking and runs outside caressing LASSETER.

 

OLIVE MAY
Look at you! I'm at least half a widow!

LASSETER
(whispers) Pretend to cry.

OLIVE MAY
Pretend?  I'm not crying over a fool like you. I'm crying because I'm stuck here.

LASSETER
(pats his tuckerbag which glitters yellow)
If I was you I'd be crying rivers.
OLIVE MAY wails. DOST tries to comfort her.
DOST
Me Dost. Dost look after boy. Boy crazy with lies. Dost can take no more.

OLIVE MAY
I know. Help me get him to his room. He'll have to rest for a few days.

 

INT. HOTEL -- MORNING

CUT TO:

Together they carry him up some stairs with his head banging on each stair.

 

Ow!

LASSETER

OLIVE MAY

That's for being such a fool!
LASSETER is thrown on the bed. Some Gold dust falls from his bag and he picks it up and gives it to DOST

DOST
No need boy. Me just happy you better.

LASSETER
Take it and go and see the big city.

 

DOST
Tell you what maybe I do. Get more camels for Dost and rent out. Dost see you again one day thank Allah.

He bows and says goodbye in Pashto.
DOST (CONT'D)
Manana. Khudây pë âmân!
DOST leaves.

OLIVE MAY
You and me can buy a nice place near Sydney Harbor.

LASSETER
A house?  No more adventure?
OLIVE MAY
I'll be a lady and make dresses for low and high society.

LASSETER
I'll design an arched harbor bridge.

OLIVE MAY
They'll never make an arched bridge.

LASSETER
Olive May with all this Gold I found we could buy all of New South Wales and half of Victoria. My reefs eighty miles long.

OLIVE MAY
Don't be greedy.
LASSETER
Well maybe ten miles.
OLIVE MAY
We only need a little of it.
LASSETER
I guess it's around one mile. Never again will I be called shortnin'
I will be Lord Lasseter! King Lasseter! Prime Minister Lasseter!

 

OLIVE MAY
You sure you're not telling me a long one?

LASSETER
There's no need to anymore.
He is in his own world of dreams and desire.
LASSETER (CONT'D)
(beat)
All of those Pirate books I read while being beaten black and blue by a Nun and other fools has come true. If I stop now I'll be nobody.

LASSETER hums the tune "Aura Lee " later to be made famous as "Love me tender" by Elvis.

OLIVE MAY
You and I walking down George Street.        You in a Gentleman's outfit. Me in a sequined silver dress with pearls and a green belt of Gold.       The smell of steak, perfume, wine and dancing the waltz.

The sublime sound of a soprano is heard. She sings an aria from Pucinni's La Bohome.

LASSETER and OLIVE MAY look at each other.    They then walk down the hall and pause at a doorway where a beautiful woman, NELLIE MELBA is singing.

OLIVE MAY (CONT'D)
It's an angel.
NELLIE
No.  It's Nellie Melba.
LASSETER
Nellie what are you doing in a dump like this?

NELLIE
I gained fame in Paris and London only to be hoodwinked by a dastardly cad who took all my money. Dastardly he was.

OLIVE MAY kicks LASSETER.

 

OLIVE MAY
Believe me I know the type.
LASSETER
Miss Nellie, never have I heard such a voice.        Let us help you.

OLIVE MAY
I don't believe it. You said us.
NELLIE
I am a woman who needs no help Sir. I'll just make another comeback.

LASSETER
One day people will say, They have had more comebacks then Nellie Melba.

NELLIE starts to cry. OLIVE MAY comforts her.
OLIVE MAY
You sure do have a way with the ladies.

NELLIE
Men can go to hell! (Pause)
Well maybe one is okay. Mr. Henry Ford of American automobile fame.

LASSETER
Automobiles?
NELLIE
Yes.  Henry said one day soon they would be everywhere.          You just hop in them, put in some petrol and drive wherever your little heart desires.

LASSETER
I could make a place to store them in the Cities.        I'd call them Multi level parking stations and charge them like rent.

OLIVE MAY laughs.

OLIVE MAY
Whoever would go for that?

 

LASSETER
(wounded)
I am a man of vision!
OLIVE MAY
Talking of vision. We can't stay here.       Forget Sydney. We can go to Araluen where I was born.  It's a big town near the sea and full of Gold. I know people there.

LASSETER
I'll be the Mayor.
OLIVE MAY
We could buy a little property.
NELLIE
Time for me to move on. Maybe Italy and La Scala.

LASSETER
Miss Nellie lets meet up in ten years and tell all.

OLIVE MAY
Shortnin' do you know about hydraulic sluicing and dredging?

LASSETER

Sure do!

OLIVE MAY

Can we go by Cobb and Co? It will be so romantic. The railway seems so modern.

LASSETER
We can fly!
NELLIE
With wings?
LASSETER
They're called aeroplanes. I've seen them in books.              One day people will travel quickly all over the world in them.

OLIVE MAY
If that happens I'll ride down the street naked like Lady Godiva.

 

NELLIE
And I'll somersault on stage during an aria.

LASSETER
Let's go! We're young, nothing can stop us.

 

EXT. MAIN STREET -- AFTERNOON
ANGLE ON

DISSOLVE TO:

A dirty pair of boots. Gold dust is falling on them.

Camera rises to show the surveyor HARDING who smiles with black teeth.

HARDING
Dumb ass boy. We'll meet again.
CUT TO:

INT. ALICE SPRINGS, HOTEL 1897 -- MORNING
LASSETER is looking out his bedroom window.   He seems pleased with himself.

(O.S) The stomping of boots on a wooden floor is heard. LASSETER reaches for a gun.         He realizes he doesn't own one.
LASSETER
Well, it was fun while it lasted.
OLIVE MAY rushes in with a Newspaper.    LASSETER tackles her.
OLIVE MAY
What the hell is wrong with you? The sun's made you crazy.

LASSETER
I thought you was a nefarious man come to do me dishonor.

OLIVE MAY
What?  Never mind look at this.
LASSETER regards the newspaper headline

 

" YOUNG FOOL FINDS TEN MILES OF GOLD!"
LASSETER

That's me.

OLIVE MAY

Look at the photo.
It is photograph of LASSETER being carried up the stairs by DOST and OLIVE MAY.

OLIVE MAY (CONT'D)
Look how fat I look.
LASSETER
Let's get on the first coach out of here.       There will be people everywhere soon.

CUT TO: EXT. ALICE SPRINGS, PROSPECTORS STORE -- AFTERNOON
The STOREMAN is smiling and hanging up his golden horseshoe. A photographer is about to take his photo.

STOREMAN
Yes sirree. I Thought he was a mighty dumb shirker type...I was wrong.

CUT TO: EXT. BEAT UP DIRT ROAD. NEW SOUTH WALES -- MORNING
The Cobb and Co stagecoach is laboring up a steep hill. A hot wind is blowing up a dust storm. The COACHMAN peers inside.

COACHMAN
Sorry Sir, but gentlemen are required to walk alongside hills to relieve the effort on the horses.

LASSETER
Ain't no gentleman.
OLIVE MAY
Yes you are. Remember Nellie?

CUT TO:

 

LASSETER Is sweating profusely in the heat and dust as the stagecoach slowly makes it's way uphill.

CGI: An emu and kangaroo look at him laugh and shake their heads.

EMU
Damn dumb boy.
KANGAROO
Say that again.
EMU
Damn dumb boy.
The Kangaroo kicks the Emu.

 

 

 

 

 

CUT TO:

EXT. CANBERRA AUSTRALIA'S CAPITAL -- AFTERNOON
The coach has stopped for lunch. LASSETER looks towards where the world famous Lake Burley Griffin will one day be.

LASSETER
I reckon a lake should go there.
OLIVE MAY
With no water around better make it a park.

LASSETER
You just wait and see. It could be man made and probably some damn yankee will beat us to it.                 I'll find my reef again and Australia will make me Prime Minister.

Birds sing. The sun is mild and the land green.
LASSETER (CONT'D)
A cup of tea and a tomato sandwich is all I want.

OLIVE MAY
If time would just stay still right here we'd be happy ever after.

LASSETER
We'd die of boredom. Let's descend on this town of yours.

CUT TO:

EXT. MAIN STREET ARALUEN -- AFTERNOON
Araluen is situated in a deep valley. The only access is by way of a track so steep that goods have to be dragged up and down on sleds.               OLIVE MAY and LASSETER slide down followed by their meager belongings.

 

EXT. MAIN STREET ARALUEN -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO:

Bedlam reigns supreme. Chinese are shooting whites. Whites shooting Chinese.          Men and Women are vomiting in front of the hotel.      Women are hitting men and in turned being punched by men.      Hangings are commonplace and the Undertaker is smiling counting bloodied pound notes.

OLIVE MAY
What vile mannered people. When I'm mayoress I'll have them all horsewhipped!

LASSETER
They should go to the sea and cool off. Matter of fact I will. Is it within walking style?

OLIVE MAY
(embarrassed)
Sure.  It's just forty miles east as the crow flies.

A shot is heard and a crow falls on her head.
LASSETER
You should be dog whipped for such a whopper.

OLIVE MAY
With that gold you have left, we can buy a house and rent it to boarders.     Why, there must be hundreds of them.

LASSETER
From what I see a cat house is the answer.        Cool em' right down. Maybe one for the girls too.

OLIVE MAY slaps him.
CGI:The WHITE and BLACK devils appear on his shoulder again.

 

BLACK DEVIL
Silly cow will send you broke with boarders.          A cat house is the go.

LASSETER

Silly cow!

OLIVE MAY

Who is a silly cow?
LASSETER
The one over there in the pasture.
WHITE DEVIL
Stay with borders son. Girls will see you stirring up a soup bowl of trouble.

BLACK DEVIL punches off the WHITE DEVIL
BLACK DEVIL
Wuss!  Wuss!  Wuss!
LASSETER
Wonder of they have a head doctor here.       Olive May you win. A boarding house it is.

 

EXT. COURTHOUSE -- DAY

CUT TO:

The cells are full and people are lined up and yelling at OLIVE MAY to hurry up and sign her House contract.

LASSETER
What's wrong? Just sign.

 

Can't.

OLIVE MAY

LASSETER

Why the hell not?
Suddenly she grabs the pen dips it in ink and signs with a large X.

OLIVE MAY regards the crowd.

 

OLIVE MAY
Might not be able to read and write but own my first building at nineteen!

 

INT. ARALUEN HOTEL -- NIGHT

CUT TO:

Relative peace abounds except for a few brawls and shootings. LASSETER is holding court with his new found friends.

LASSETER
Boys seventy miles long it is. I was blind from the gold's reflection for three days. With your help we can all be mighty rich.  Just need two hundred pounds. I'm not a greedy man.

SUCKER
You sound like a liar to me.
LASSETER
You look like a dogs backside to me.

The SUCKER pulls a gun and is shot dead by a one eared and one eyed man.     He approaches LASSETER.

LASSETER
Thanks Sir. As I was saying only five hundred pounds and a few good men.

ONE EAR puts his smoking gun in his holster.
ONE EAR
Heard about that reef in 1880. Three hundred men died trying to find it,I was nearly one of em'. Why don't you go down to Wollongong harbor, stop in at the Brighton Hotel and ask for a
(laughs)
Thing called Antoine. He is the only man in the world who can sniff out gold.   You can't miss him.

LASSETER
What's the quickest way?

 

ONE EAR
Down Macquarie Pass. Built by convicts with plenty of corners. Drives horse's crazy.

LASSETER
I'll go by velocipede.

CUT TO: EXT. ARALUEN, QUONG'S PROVISION STORE -- MORNING
OLIVE MAY and LASSETER are regarding a Penny Farthing an ordinary bicycle and a horse.

QUONG
If it was me I say horse.
LASSETER
Penny farthing?
LASSETER tries to ride it and falls off.
OLIVE MAY
Shortnin' you are crazy.
QUONG
Horse!
LASSETER rides the bike and looks at the horse.
LASSETER
I'll take them all.
QUONG
I hear you clever boy. Forget gold, go Sydney.          Quong start tea shop in Sydney. Very fancy, very money.

LASSETER
When we find the gold Olive May and I will be your guests of honor.

QUONG
By then Quong in a box.
LASSETER
You have to have faith Quong.
LASSETER takes the Penny Farthing and gives it to OLIVE MAY.

 

LASSETER
I reckon the world's a better place when riding a penny farthing.

OLIVE MAY
Me?  On that?
LASSETER
Damn shirker!
OLIVE MAY hops on and rides off.
LASSETER
I'll be back in two weeks or so.
OLIVE MAY is riding well.
OLIVE MAY
How the hell do you get off it?
CUT TO:

EXT. MACQUARIE PASS. -- MORNING
LASSETER is looking from the top of the Pass down to the sea. Birds are chirping and a fine mist surrounds the area

He approaches a tree where his Horse and bicycle are tied. Lasseter takes a deep breath.

LASSETER
What a time to be alive!
LASSETER attaches a long rope from the back of the bike tying it to his horses mouthpiece.      He gets on the bike and gingerly starts to ride down the windy road. The horse rides past him and he falls off the bicycle.

LASSETER
No! Hannibal stop! I'm trying to make it easier for you and me both. When we get to the bottom then you can have a go.

HANNIBAL V/O
CGI: Where did I find you pal?
LASSETER tries again and rides slowly with Hannibal behind.
They gradually make perfect unity of balance and time. They reach the last corner and stop to rest.

 

LASSETER
Damn.  Forgot to take a camera to prove it can be done.          Well Hannibal you'll just have to back me up.

HANNIBAL V/O
No one will believe us.
LASSETER lifts the bicycle, ties it sideways to Hannibal and they trot off.

CUT TO: INT. BRIGHTON HOTEL WOLLONGONG HARBOR -- AFTERNOON
The Hotel is mysteriously empty. Only the BARMAN is present cleaning the bar.

LASSETER
Where is everyone?
BARMAN
At the races.
LASSETER
Where's the racetrack?
BARMAN
(points his finger towards the beach)
On the beach.
LASSETER
Got a room for a few nights?
BARMAN

Nope.

LASSETER

Anywhere else?
BARMAN
Most people first camp out on the hill overlooking the harbor. Can hire you a tent if you want.

CUT TO:

 

 

EXT. FIRST FLOOR BRIGHTON HOTEL--AFT
A man is standing on the railing and staring towards the beach.        Suddenly he falls to the sidewalk dead.

BACK TO SCENE

BARMAN (CONT'D)
Got a room now.
LASSETER
What was wrong with that feller?
BARMAN

Race one.

LASSETER

By the way do you know of a man called Antoine?

BARMAN
(cries)
He gave me a little wooden box as a present.       "For the your bar."    He said.    In it was a viper!

LASSETER

Why?

BARMAN

Because I criticized his Lobster Supreme.
(Pause)
He makes life easier mister. We call him the Professor of beauty. King of transcendental gastronomy. No mess pots cooked here.

LASSETER
(confused)
Only here for a couple days. Be back later.

CUT TO: EXT. BRIGHTON BEACH WOLLONGONG HARBOR -- AFTERNOON
LASSETER ties up Hannibal to a horse stock and observes the beauty of the area.

 

LASSETER
Hannibal if this place had gold we'd be in heaven.

 

A sepia montage of the area. Women bathers.
Horses swimming in the ocean. Gentleman walking the boardwalk. Children playing cricket in the sand.

DISSOLVE TO:

CUT TO: EXT. BRIGHTON BEACH WOLLONGONG HARBOR -- AFTERNOON
A distinguished looking couple are partaking in luncheon on the green grass.

They are being fussed over by Executive Chef ANTOINE tailored in a suit of Almond-green, White top hat and gloves.

ANTOINE V/O
At last I appear.

ANTOINE
I propose to you Poulet San Michel, beignets de fromage de chevere and crepes a la Antoine.

The diners smile in ecstasy and Antoine starts to prepare his cuisine.  Suddenly he stops sniffing loudly.

ANTOINE (CONT'D)
I smell Gold.

 

CUT TO:

FULL SHOT BRIGHTON BEACH WOLLONGONG HARBOR -- AFTERNOON
LASSETER hesitantly walks towards ANTOINE.
ANTOINE
Yes it is I you are after.
LASSETER
I hear you can sniff out gold?

 

ANTOINE
(sniffs)
Antoine can sniff anybody and do anything.

LASSETER
I'll make it short. I found a reef forty miles long up at the MacDonnell ranges in the Northern Territory.  Need you to help me find it again.

ANTOINE
In short no.
LASSETER
In short a Fifty fifty split.
ANTOINE
Antoine detests the heat.
LASSETER
Well, I'll be at the hotel. Think it over.

ANTOINE returns to his guests and pours some champagne. He walks to his preparation table and presents his beignets de fromage de chevere to his guests and stamps his feet.

ANTOINE
Antoine demands your verdict!
The couple smile in ecstasy.

CUT TO: EXT. BRIGHTON BEACH WOLLONGONG HARBOR -- AFTERNOON

A long camera shot of the horse race.

CUT TO:

EXT. CLIFF ROAD WOLLONGONG HARBOR -- MORNING
LASSETER is sitting on the cliffs edge.  He is despondent.
LASSETER
Well, son you will just have to do things on your own just like always.

CUT TO:

 

EXT. BRIGHTON BEACH WOLLONGONG HARBOR -- SAME TIME MORNING
The sun is shining the sky blue. ANTOINE is dressed in a frilly shirt, shiny black boots and a hat with an ostrich feather on it. He is about to hang himself from a tree.              In his left hand is a copy of the famous cuisine book, "The Physiology of Taste" and in his right "The Bible". Scattered on the ground are numerous race tickets.

ANTOINE
What a waste. The world needs Antoine.         I wish for a sign.

CGI:Suddenly thunder is heard and a lightning bolt hits the rope and ANTOINE falls to the ground and the race tickets disappear.   A voice from the clouds is heard.

VOICE
Last chance son.

CUT TO: EXT. CLIFF ROAD WOLLONGONG HARBOR -- MORNING
O/S the sound of a motorcycle is heard.  LASSETER looks down the road.     ANTOINE is riding towards him on a Pink Villers motorcycle with sidecar. The unusual thing is that ANTOINE is standing in the sidecar and leaning over with his hands to control the bike. LASSETER shakes his head.

LASSETER
Now I've seen it all.
ANTOINE stops next to LASSETER
ANTOINE
Antoine has made his decision. All night I cried in the hotel but have decided to grace you with your request under two conditions.

LASSETER

Tell me.

ANTOINE

I can create not mess but cuisine and that my motorcycle accompany me.

Lasseter goes to shake ANTOINES hand. ANTOINE first puts on a glove.

LASSETER
Shake like a man.
ANTOINE
I shake like Antoine.

 

 

 

CUT TO:

EXT. BRIGHTON HOTEL WOLLONGONG HARBOR -- MORNING
ANGLE ON
A group of well and not so well dressed men are talking to each other in a serious manner.                   There is some paper on the table.        An old man stands up.

OLD MAN
Agreed Gentlemen?
MEN

Agreed.

OLD MAN

Well I'd like to say we conceived a mighty fine thing today.        A business idea unlike any other.
History will remember us.
LASSETER and ANTOINE come down the stairs and a young man quickly grabs the paper on the table and burns it in an ashtray.

LASSETER regards the men. ANTOINE regards them with a sniff.
LASSETER
Morning Gentlemen.
Some of them grumble.
LASSETER
Thank God I'm not a gambling man.
CUT TO: EXT. BRIGHTON HOTEL WOLLONGONG HARBOR -- DAY
LASSETER is counting some money. He looks at his horse Hannibal.

 

LASSETER
Well Hannibal old Mr Bond reckons you're too big to be a mine draft horse.   So you can end your days as a swim horse for kids on the beach. How about that?

HANNIBAL
CGI: Thanks Shortnin'. It's a lot better than going with you on a wild goose chase where I'd probably die of thirst.

ANTOINE regards HANNIBAL
ANTOINE
I will make Steak Tartare of him.
HANNIBAL kicks out at ANTOINE narrowly missing him.
HANNIBAL
Damn fancy boy.
LASSETER
Now boys. Let's just depart as friends.

ANTOINE hisses at HANNIBAL who launches a kick at him.
CUT TO:

EXT. ROAD TO ARALUEN -- AFTERNOON
ANTOINE is dressed extravagantly and LASSETER is sitting in the sidecar.
Lasseter is writing down names - Prime Minister Lasseter? King Lasseter the First?      He regards ANTOINE.

LASSETER
By the way did you get a farewell from the Hotel staff and guests?

ANTOINE
In short no. But I left them one.
DISSOLVE TO: INT. BRIGHTON HOTEL WOLLONGONG HARBOR -- EVENING
Food is on the table but Staff and guests are vomiting everywhere.

CUT TO:

 

EXT. FULL SHOT MAIN STREET ARALUEN -- AFTERNOON
LASSETER and ANTOINE are arriving at OLIVE MAY'S boarding house.        Two miners regard ANTOINE and make disparaging remarks like -

 

Sissy!

Nancy boy.

MINER 1

MINER 2

ANTOINE pulls out a Pearl handled ladies revolver and shoots them in the toes.

 

FULL SHOT
EXT. MAIN STREET ARALUEN -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO:

LASSETER tells ANTOINE to pull over next to a house with a sign - "Miss Olive May's Boarding house for respectable Miners". Lasseter hops off and runs into the house.                 OLIVE MAY is mending a dress.        She also has a number of books in an exquisite Edwardian bookcase.

OLIVE MAY
Shortnin'  You came back!
LASSETER
Did you think I wouldn't?
OLIVE MAY
There's no knowing with you.
They embrace.
LASSETER
I'm only stopping for supplies. Tomorrow I'm off to find my reef.

OLIVE MAY

With who?

LASSETER

It's too much for a delicate one like you.          I'll be back right soon.

O/S intense foot stomps are heard. ANTOINE walks in.

 

LASSETER
Miss Olive May,I present to you Executive Chef Antoine Professor of cuisine and beauty.

ANTOINE bows and presents her with a golden lily.
ANTOINE
For the most beautiful one.
OLIVE MAY

Oh my.

LASSETER

Olive May, Antoine is the only man in the world who can sniff out gold.

OLIVE MAY
Come on now!
ANTOINE sniffs and goes to her bodice.
ANTOINE
I smell gold.
OLIVE MAY

You cad.

LASSETER

What you hiding?
OLIVE MAY takes out a bag of gold.
OLIVE MAY
I thought it the best place.
LASSETER
When we come back you'll have to find a bank vault.

OLIVE MAY
Talking of that I bought this bookcase from a broke prospector. I's the real thing.                    Edwardian.

LASSETER
Must be worth a fortune!
OLIVE MAY
It is.  It can be our little nest egg if it all goes wrong.

 

LASSETER
Nothing will go wrong.

 

INT. ARALUEN BOARDING HOUSE -- NIGHT

 

CUT TO:

LASSETER and OLIVE MAY lie in bed. He is in a serious mode.
LASSETER
(beat)
Not many people believe in Me. In fact many laugh at me. Makes me believe in myself even more. It's time to find my reef.

OLIVE MAY
I always believe in you.
LASSETER
You sure do. With Antoine I may very well do it.

OLIVE MAY
And maybe the sun will kill you or make you crazy like last time.

LASSETER
Olive May the world and cemeteries are full of people who dream and drift through life and no one remembers them. I don't want to be one of them.

OLIVE MAY
Shortnin' I can't bear to see you go again. Just leave whilst I am sleeping.

 

EXT. MAIN STREET ARALUEN -- MORNING

CUT TO:

LASSETER and ANTOINE leave on the motorcycle which is full of supplies.  ANTOINE jumps off.

ANTOINE
One moment.

CUT TO:

 

INT. ARALUEN BOARDING HOUSE -- MORNING
ANTOINE kisses OLIVE MAYS hand.
ANTOINE
My dearest treasure should you ever wish to find me just send a letter to Paris simply addressed to "Antoine Professor of Beauty." It will find me.

OLIVE MAY cries and ANTOINE gathers some tears in a little bottle.

DISSOLVE TO:
CGI: A MAP OF AUSTRALIA WITH A LINE STARTING AT ARALUEN AND GOING TOWARDS CARNARVON IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA SHOWING THEIR WAY TO THE REEF.

ANTOINE V/O
We had a few adventures on the way but not much to do with me so it is not worth showing.

 

EXT. CARNARVON HOTEL -- DAY

CUT TO

Lasseter and Antoine pull up and sniff the air.
ANTOINE

Nothing.

LASSETER

It's seven hundred miles to the east.

ANTOINE
Antoine can just smell it.
LASSETER
I can smell a beer.

 

INT. CARNARVON HOTEL -- DAY

 

 

CUT TO:

An old prosector is looking at LASSETER and shaking his head. ANTOINE is busy brushing his hair in a mirror and smiling at his coiffure.

 

PROSECTOR
You'd be better using a string of camels or horses.

LASSETER
Don't have much luck with horses. And camels make me go crazy.

PROSECTOR
The heat son, the heat. It's called the Devil's heat.           A motorcycle will blow.

LASSETER
I know.

 

Never!

ANTOINE

LASSETER

The old boy might be right.
ANTOINE
Antoine never rides horses.
LASSETER
Come on!  Don't quit now.
PROSECTOR
You can keep it in my shed.
ANTOINE
Shed?  Never!
PROSECTOR
Nothing in there but fishing gear.
ANTOINE
Merci then. Time to go.
LASSETER
Camels or Horses?
PROSECTOR
Camels will see you come back.

CUT TO:
INT. CARNARVON HOTEL -- DAY
LASSETER and ANTOINE are preparing to leave.  A DRUNK takes exception to Antoine's clothes.

 

DRUNK
Damn Sissy boy.
ANTOINE slaps him across the face with his gloves.
ANTOINE
Antoine challenges you to a duel.
The Drunk whacks Antoine on the nose.
LASSETER
No!  Anywhere but there!
LASSETER jumps the drunk and an all in brawl occurs stopped only by ANTOINE holding his ladies revolver to the stock of beer barrels.

ANTOINE
Attention animals! Attention animals!

ANTOINE shoots six shots into the barrels and beer flows all over the floor.

ANTOINE
It is only drink for the scum! I prefer Champagne nectar for the superior.

 

EXT. DESERT -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO:

LASSETER and ANTOINE slowly travel amongst red dirt, mulga bush and spinifax.

LASSETER
How's the snout?
ANTOINE
It will never be the same.
LASSETER
Oh yes it will. We need it.
As sudden sand storm crops up. From a distance a snorting camel is heard.

LASSETER (CONT'D)
Maybe we got company. And, I reckon the reefs around here.

HARDING appears through the storm.

 

HANRDING
What did you say boy?
LASSETER
Well the ghost reappears.
HARDING
Where's the Ghan?
LASSETER
Made his money and left.
HARDING
I can help.
LASSETER
Maybe.
HARDING pats his saddle and brings out a sextant and a compass.         He regards ANTOINE.

HARDING
Got the right tools. Who's the flop?

ANTOINE
Executive Chef Antoine, professor of beauty and sniffer of Gold.

HARDING

Sniffer?

LASSETER

Look boys let's just get on with it.     Plenty for everyone.

HARDING

Lets go.

Where?

LASSETER

ANTOINE sniffs loudly.
ANTOINE
This way.
ANTOINE leads the charge as the sky and surrounds are bathed in a haze of Gold.

CUT TO:

 

EXT. LASSETER'S REEF -- DAY
LASSETER
Told you it was true!
ANTOINE
Antoine will create a culinary empire.

 

What?

HARDING

LASSETER

It must be a hundred miles long,
HARDING
First lets check nobody else is around.

HARDING rides off. LASSETER hugs ANTOINE and twists his nose.

LASSETER
Antoine your nose is a genius!
ANTOINE
And Antoine?
LASSETER
I'll be Prime Minister by Christmas.

HARDING returns.

HARDING
Nobody.  Let's stake out a claim.
HARDING brings his sextant and compass and regards the sun.
HARDING (CONT'D)
Hey dreamer! Help me.
They perform some measurements.
HARDING (CONT'D)
What is the exact time? I make it twelve midday.

LASSETER
Twelve midday.
ANTOINE
Twelve thirty.

 

HARDING
You sure your not fast?
ANTOINE
Antoine is exact.
HARDING
Never had a problem with my watch.
LASSETER
Me either. Sorry Antoine.
ANTOINE
This watch is German. It is always exact unlike your English watches.

LASSETER
Look let's not argue now. We'll go back to Carnarvon and get a miners party together.

 

FULL SHOT- CARNARVON -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO

LASSETER is riding in the sidecar and ANTOINE accelerates to the Hotel where HARDING is sitting outside.

LASSETER
(regards watch) I make it two PM.

HARDING

Me too.

ANTOINE

Two thirty.
ANTOINE points to the town clock. It says two thirty.
LASSETER
We'll ask someone.
An old drunk walks by.
LASSETER (CONT'D)
Got the time boss?
OLD MAN
Two thirty. Time for a beer.
An old lady walks by.

OLD LADY
Two thirty. Time for scones and tea.

A Priest walks by.

LASSETER
This one we can trust.
PRIEST
Two thirty my Son. Time for Confession.

LASSETER
Okay boys let's do some maths.
They work out the measurements and LASSETER falls down as if dead.

LASSETER (CONT'D)
According to these the reef lies one thousand miles east of here.

HARDING
That's in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

LASSETER
Our Compasses varies 21 and a quarter degrees to the east.

ANTOINE sniffs.

HARDING
Shut up or I'll cut that snout right off your grinning face.

LASSETER
Who's going to gamble on a group of men with slow watches?

LASSETER regards HARDING and his saddle bag.  It glitters with Gold.

HARDING
Took some to help out my sick Daddy.

LASSETER looks at ANTOINE. His bag glitters.
ANTOINE
For a little cafe.

 

LASSETER
Damn thieves both of you.
HARDING kicks open LASSETER's bag.    Some nuggets fall out.
LASSETER (CONT'D)
Just to prove it to myself.
HARDING
Tell you what. Reckon I got enough here to have a nice little life.
Might shake hands and move on.
LASSETER
If that's what you want.
HARDING and LASSETER shake hands. HARDING regards ANTOINE
HARDING
Shake hands?
ANTOINE puts on his gloves.
HARDING (CONT'D)
Okay.
They shake and HARDING mounts his Horse and gallops off.
LASSETER

Trust him?

ANTOINE

I shall poison him slowly with a dish of Emu surprise.

LASSETER
What you going to do?
ANTOINE
Go overseas and open up a restaurant in Paris for a while.

LASSETER
Well you earned it. Me, well I can't go back to Olive May empty handed.

 

Try again.

ANTOINE

 

LASSETER
Might get some proper education on this matter.      I'm only twenty three.

ANTOINE takes off his gloves and shakes LASSETER by the hand.
ANTOINE
Till we meet again.
ANTOINE starts his motorcycle and rides off into the distance.          LASSETER just sits down with his head down.

LASSETER
Well, I wrecked it again.
ANTOINE V/O
I felt terrible and sad. Shortnin' even more so...but things soon changed.

CUT TO: EXT. "HMS POWERFUL" INDIAN OCEAN -- AFTERNOON
Able Seaman LASSETER is tying down provisions in a storm. Another Seaman smiles.

SEAMAN
Tomorrow we'll be in Capetown. Girls, drink and fun.

LASSETER
Do they have mines and gold in South Africa?

SEAMAN
Sure.  Diamonds, gold and rubies for miles.

LASSETER
Already knew. Just testing a monkey like you.

The SEAMAN good naturedly punches LASSETER
LASSETER (CONT'D)
Not so hard!

CUT TO

 

FULL SHOT CAPETOWN HARBOR -- MORNING
The gang of Sailors disembark and are about to hit town.
CUT TO

FULL SHOT. CAPETOWN STREET -- DAY
LASSETER pokes the driver in the back.
LASSETER
Let me off here. Boy's I'll catch you later.

They jeer him and LASSETER walks along the busy thoroughfare. He sees a shop with a sign Mining Supplies and enters.

CUT TO:

EXT. SUPPLY STORE -- MORNING
The owner looks at him.
OWNER
What are you after?
LASSETER
Sir, I'll be brief. I found a reef back home in Australia and I'm looking for a way to find it again. Technical like.

OWNER
Best to read these books here. How long you been in the Navy?

LASSETER
Just about to finish.
OWNER
Tell you what. You can stay here and read to your heart's content. I'll try to answer your questions.

LASSETER
Thank you Sir.
CGI: LASSETER devouring the books and the OWNER talking to him.

OWNER
If you ever back this way call in and I'll give you a job.

 

They shake hands.

 

LASSETER

Thank you Sir but I got a reef to find.

SUDDENLY the White Devil appears on his shoulder.
WHITE DEVIL
Haven't you forgotten someone?

 

EXT. ARALUEN BOARDING HOUSE -- DAY

CUT TO:

OLIVE MAY walks to the mailbox. She is pregnant.
There is no mail and tears stream down her face.   A woman goes by.

WOMAN
He'll be back.
OLIVE MAY
I think he's dead.
WOMAN
Come to the dance with me tonight?
OLIVE MAY
How can a pregnant girl dance the fox-trot?

 

EXT. LONDON PORT -- DAY

CUT TO

"HMS Powerful" is docked. LASSETER and the sailors are smiling.

LASSETER
We have only one day may as well go drinking.

SEAMAN
That's the go. Next week we'll be in America.

LASSETER
I want to see California.
SEAMAN
Gold!

 

LASSETER
Got me an idea.
SEAMAN
Never seen Gold.
LASSETER

Me either.

 

INT. BEAT UP BAR -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO:

LASSETER is concentrating on a book he stole from the Capetown store.          There is a group of tough looking foreign men drinking next to him.     He smiles and one smiles back.

LASSETER
Where you from?
The man reply's in broken English.
MAN

Russia.

LASSETER

Are you sailors?
MAN
Revolutionaries.  We are off to London for the Communist Convention.

LASSETER
I'm just a seaman. Politics does not interest me.

LASSETER observes a man with piercing eyes looking at him. The man smiles.         LASSETER motions to him if he wants a drink. The man nods.

MAN
My friend says you have eyes that look into the future. You have a dream.

LASSETER
Have to have one of you want to survive.         What's his name?

The man smiles.

 

MAN
We call him Stalin.
The man goes to buy some drinks. LASSETER observes STALIN who pretends to shoot the other man with his finger.   STALIN looks at LASSETER who shakes.

LASSETER
(to himself)
Wonder if this Stalin will ever amount to anything?        He gives me the shivers.

 

FULL SHOT NEW YORK -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO:

LASSETER is stunned by the developing skyscrapers and size of the City.     He walks along and sees an advertisement.

THE ADVERTISEMENT READS: "FOR A WEEK ONLY, MR. HENRY FORD INTRODUCES HIS AUTOMOBILE FOR EVERYBODY. FREE ADMISSION. BE EARLY."

 

INT- AUDITORIUM -- EVENING

CUT TO:

LASSETER is sitting down and listening to HENRY FORD.   He is leaning on a Model T prototype.

FORD
Mr Thomas Edison believed in me. And I believe in the American dream and it's people.     If money is your hope for independence you will never have it.            The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability. I'm going to democratize the automobile. It's called the Model T!

When I'm through, everybody will be able to afford one, and about everybody will have one as long as you like the color in black.

People stand and clap. LASSETER is mesmerized by Henry Ford's personality.  NELLIE MELBA is in the audience and spies LASSETER.

 

Shortnin'

NELLIE

 

 

Nellie!
They embrace.

LASSETER

 

NELLIE

What are you doing here?
LASSETER
I saw an advertisement about Automobiles down at the wharves.

NELLIE
Mr Ford is the one to meet! His Model T will revolutionize the world.  Where's Olive May?

LASSETER
(sheepishly)
Well, to tell the truth we have had a little argument.

NELLIE
You're a fool if you let her go.
LASSETER
Don't worry we're still together.
NELLIE
Nobody stays together when they're overseas.          I should know.

HENRY FORD comes over and offers his hand to LASSETER.
FORD
When can I deliver your model T?
LASSETER

Yesterday.

FORD

I like you already son. What is your name?

LASSETER
Harold Lasseter Sir.
NELLIE
We met in Australia. Shortnin' and his girl rescued me from a cad.

 

FORD
Australia?  It's a wild country just like America.   Ideal for the Ford automobile.

LASSETER
Mr Ford, I've invented a multi level car park.           It saves space.

FORD
(clearly impressed) Can you sell?

NELLIE
He can sell anything. In fact he found a Gold reef.         Whoops, sorry.

LASSETER
Don't worry. It's two hundred miles long.

FORD
How would you like to set up Ford in Australia for me?    It'll make you very wealthy.

LASSETER

Well...

FORD

It's a quick dream fulfilled.
LASSETER
Mr Ford I'd rather concentrate on finding my reef again.            Maybe then I'll take up your offer.

FORD
No time like now.
LASSETER
Would you like to invest in my reef? You too would be very wealthy.

FORD
How long did you say it was?
LASSETER
Ten miles minimum.
FORD
Have you heard of Thomas Edison?

 

LASSETER
He's the inventor.
FORD
He told me if you have something nobody else has and it can sell in volume you're on your way.

LASSETER
My gold's in volume.
FORD
I'll give you till tomorrow Mr Lasseter.          Please excuse me I have to meet some important people.

NELLIE
Take this dream.
LASSETER
I have to have my own dream Nellie.
NELLIE
By the way did you arrive here by aeroplane?

LASSETER
Sure did. So, now you'll have to do a somersault whilst singing.

NELLIE
I read that they will start next decade.

LASSETER
Could be very well right.
NELLIE
Next week Henry is trying to break the land speed record on ice.
It'll do wonders for publicity. Come along?

LASSETER
Sure, see you all there.
NELLIE leaves and sings an aria. An attractive waitress offers LASSETER a drink.

LASSETER (CONT’D)
What's your name?

 

WAITRESS
Elizabeth Scott.
LASSETER
Glad to meet you Miss Scott.
WAITRESS
What make you think it's Miss?
LASSETER smiles and the WHITE and BLACK DEVILS appear on his shoulder.

WHITE DEVIL
Don't do it son.
BLACK DEVIL
Forget Olive May she's probably married a Gold Prosector by now.

WHITE DEVIL
She's probably in bed right now crying her eyes out for you to return.

BLACK DEVIL
Plenty of fish in the sea.
WHITE DEVIL pushes off the BLACK DEVIL.

 

INT. ARALUEN BOARDING HOUSE -- NIGHT

 

 

CUT TO:

A huge drunken boarder WARTH in Wellington boots is stumbling down the hallway yodeling. He stops outside a door and kicks it in. OLIVE MAY is sitting there shocked.

WARTH
Where's my bloody dinner?
OLIVE MAY
I made it three hours ago you drunkard.

WARTH
Make it again!
He vomits and OLIVE MAY hits him with a gold prospectors pan.
OLIVE MAY
Get the hell out of my house and don't come back!

WARTH
I'll kill you!
He tackles her and she grabs a revolver from her pocket.
OLIVE MAY
I'll kill you!
WARTH
I'm leavin' and never comin' back.
OLIVE MAY

Good!

WARTH

You'll be sorry letting me go.
OLIVE MAY
I've been sorry ever since I've been here.

WARTH leaves and OLIVE MAY sits down, pours a huge brandy and sobs.

 

EXT. ARALUEN BOARDING HOUSE -- DAY
A Policeman knocks on her door.
OLIVE MAY
Yes Officer?
OFFICER
Miss Olive May do you know a Mathias Warth?

OLIVE MAY

CUT TO:

No.

OFFICER

A Marthias Warth was found floating in the creek.

OLIVE MAY

So?

OFFICER

Floating face down.
He points to a cart where a body is covered with only dirty black boots protruding.

 

OFFICER (CONT'D)
He has your house down as a residence.

OLIVE MAY
My God I only knew him as The yodeler. Always yodeling. He came here drunk, bashed down my door and hit me.

OFFICER
Not your fault ma`am.
OLIVE MAY
Does he have any kin?
OFFICER
None that we can find.
OLIVE MAY
If you can't find anyone I'll pay for his burial.

OFFICER
You don't have to do that. The Govt will pay for a paupers funeral.

OLIVE MAY
It won't be the first time.
You have to have a little bit of dignity even in death.

 

EXT. ARALUEN BOARDING HOUSE -- NIGHT
OLIVE MAY is in bed doing her accounts.
OLIVE MAY
Shortnin' please come back.

CUT TO:

There's something you must know.
She pays her growing stomach.

 

INT. DUMP ROOM NEW YORK -- NIGHT
LASSETER and the WAITRESS are embracing.

CUT TO:

 

 

CUT TO:

 

FULL SHOT NEW YORK -- DAY
A series of sepia montages portray LASSETER in the big city. Coney Island.
Brooklyn Bridge. Central Park.
City skyscrapers. Fifth avenue.
CUT TO:
EXT. LAKE ST CLAIR -- DAY
Henry Ford tries for a land speed record run on the ice of Lake St. Clair during the winter.         This happened on Jan. 12, 1904, when Ford and Huff set a flying-mile record — timed and sanctioned by the AAA — of 91.37 mph. By this time, the car was being referred to variously as the "new 999" or the "Red Devil 999" in newspapers and advertising.

Ford’s record was broken by William K. Vanderbilt at Ormond Beach, Fla., Less than a month later, but that was plenty of time to generate widespread publicity for Ford and his new company.  Henry Ford gets out of the car to admirers and later goes to LASSETER who wildly congratulates him.

FORD
Well have you thought out my offer?
LASSETER
Yes and I thank you for it. But, like you I must follow my own dream.

FORD
Fair enough Son but as of tomorrow I'll be finding somebody to go to Australia and set up Ford there.

LASSETER
I understand that.
FORD observes LASSETER keenly.
FORD
I assure you that you and I will meet again.

 

LASSETER
I hope so Maybe I'll be riding in one of them Model T's!

FORD
Give me a year or two and it'll be true.

LASSETER
I reckon they will be so fast that in the cities they'll have to put in road speed bumps.

FORD
Never!
NELLIE hugs LASSETER.
NELLIE
Well, it's goodbye again.
LASSETER
We'll meet again.
NELLIE
Look after him Florence.
FLORENCE

I will.

 

INT. NEW YORK WEDDING CHAPEL -- DAY
LASSETER and FLORENCE are married. ANTOINE V/O

CUT TO:

I don't know what happened to shortnin' but he just completely forgot about Olive May.           Maybe it was just a young thing. Even the Gold reef dream was gone.

 

EXT. NIAGARA FALLS -- DAY

CUT TO

LASSETER and FLORENCE are walking around the falls.
LASSETER
What a place for a honeymoon!
FLORENCE
It's just so beautiful and natural.

 

LASSETER
Florence, I'm not an impulsive man by nature but when I saw you I knew you were the one.

FLORENCE
I did too. But I'm worried.
LASSETER
About what?
FLORENCE
I don't have much to offer you. What we had is pretty much in trouble.

LASSETER
Well let me see if I can fix it.
FLORENCE
You don't have to. Maybe I'll be able to get rid of the     hired help.

LASSETER
Florence I never did have a family and it gave me deep sorrow and pain.

CUT TO:
EXT. A TRAIN IS RUSHING PAST RURAL KANSAS -- AFTERNOON
CUT TO:

FULL SHOT. KANSAS FARM -- AFTERNOON
LASSETER and FLORENCE are in a taxi that drives them up the path to an old dilapidated farm.

 

INT. KANSAS FARMHOUSE -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO:

LASSETER is introduces to FLORENCE'S Mother who is bedridden.
LASSETER
Please to meet your acquaintance mama.

GRANDMOTHER
(coughs) Likewise.

 

FLORENCE
We have had this farm for generations, since dad has gone it's a bit too much now.

LASSETER
Well I'll give it a go. I know about farms from Australia.

 

INT. KANSAS FARMHOUSE -- NIGHT

CUT TO:

A tremendous country dinner has been prepared. LASSETER is about to woof it down when FLORENCE stops him.

FLORENCE
Grace first. "Lord thank you for your gifts that we are about to receive amen."

LASSETER woofs it all down to the amazement of FLORENCE.
LASSETER
Man's got to have an appetite if he's going to work on      a far.

ANGLE ON
EXT. KANSAS FARMHOUSE -- MORNING
Montage of LASSETER at work on the farm. Fixing fences.
Mending a barn.
Putting Potatoes in a sack. Chasing cows.
Sitting under a tree exhausted enjoying lunch. ANTOINE V/O
It was like shortnin' finally found a family and a real job. His deep sorrow gave way to happiness and real toil. But as usual time would darken it.

 

INT. KANSAS FARMHOUSE -- DAY
FLORENCE gives birth to a baby girl.

CUT TO:

 

LASSETER
I'll call her Ruby!

 

INT. KANSAS FARMHOUSE -- DAY
FLORENCE gives birth to a baby boy.
LASSETER
I'll call him Arthur!

 

INT. KANSAS FARMHOUSE -- AFTERNOON

 

CUT TO:

 

 

 

CUT TO:

ARTHUR is dead and covered up. LASSETER is crying.
CUT TO:

EXT. KANSAS FARMHOUSE -- DAY
ARTHUR is buried.

LASSETER
He was only nine days old.

 

EXT. INT- AUDITORIUM -- DAY

 

CUT TO:

The farmhouse is in pristine condition and has a 'For Sale' sign on it.

ANTOINE V/O
I didn't hold it against him.  He fixed the place up like new.          After Arthur died Grandma did too.       I don't know if Shortnin' thought his past had caught up with him or he just had to get away with Florence to somewhere else.

 

EXT. NEW YORK HARBOR -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO

LASSETER and FLORENCE and Ruby are about to get on board the SS Arabic for Australia.

LASSETER
It's our best chance.

 

 

Is it?

FLORENCE

LASSETER

You know it is. I'll find my reef and we'll be rich.

FLORENCE
All I want is some happiness.

 

EXT. PARIS -- EVENING

CUT TO:

A busy restaurant with distinguished clients.
ANTOINE V/O
A little of what happened to me after leaving Shortnin' and Australia.     How was I to use my intelligence, brilliance and culture?

ANTOINE observes the presentation of his cuisine and stamps his feet.

ANTOINE
Your views?
They smile with approval.
CGI: A series of dishes and customers.
ANTOINE V/O
I created Lobster Thermidor, Beef Bourgeois and Steak Josephine Later to be called Steak Diane for the masses.

 

EXT. PARIS CHAMPS ELLYESS -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO:

ANTOINE dressed in Top hat cane and lavish coat and parades along the famous elegant avenue and all around him bow and scape to him.

 

INT. PARIS RESTAURANT -- EVENING

CUT TO:

ANTOINE is cooking in pink shorts with his underlings amazed.

 

ANTOINE V/O
I was the first to cook in shorts because of the heat and use copper pots.    I even became Detective Antoine.

CUT TO FULL SHOT PARIS RESTAURANT KITCHEN -- EVENING
CGI: Hundreds of Chickens are stored, quickly they disappear. Antoine is waving good-bye to Chefs in their long hats.
ANTOINE V/O
All over Paris we were running out of Coq au vin. Tempers were running high.

ANTOINE is tasting some soup. He spits it out and throws a pot at the sous Chef.

ANTOINE
Fit only for the dead!
The pot misses the sous chef and hits a passing chef on the head.       His top hat falls off and on his head are three chickens that fall and roll along the floor.         He runs and is tackled.

ANTOINE V/O
It was an organized racquet. And it helped me to create the Chicken Roll.  For this heroic feat I was awarded the French medal of culinary honor class one and promoted.       And I even invented the short Chefs beret to stop them.

Quick shot of chef throwing out their long hats and placing berets on their heads.

 

INT. PARIS PALACE -- NIGHT

CUT TO:

The French President and German Chancellor are dining. ANTOINE presents his plat de resistance and stamps his foot next to the German chancellor who looks up at him.

ANTOINE
Sorry, it is a medical condition.

 

The Chancellor tastes the dish and immediately falls face first into it dead.

ANTOINE V/O
I was accused of poisoning him and starting World War one!   Narrowly did I miss the firing squad. I was demoted from Chef to the rich to cook for the scum.

 

INT. PARIS SANTE PRISON -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO:

ANTOINE is cooking slop and stamps his feet.  The prisoners throw the slop at him.

ANTOINE
The professor of beauty to put up with this?      No!

 

INT. PARIS SANTE PRISON -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO:

A poster is thrown under ANTOINE'S cell door.    He picks it up and reads.     "Attention scum! Prison or the front. You decide!"

CUT TO EXT. PARIS CHAMPS ELLYESS WAR MOBILIZATION. -- DAY
Crowds of Soldiers are marching. ANTOINE is amongst them.
CUT TO:

EXT. THE FRONT -- DAY
Battles are being fought and an ambulance stops to pick up the dead and wounded. ANTOINE steps out with hot soup. He tends to the slightly wounded.

ANTOINE V/O
I was employed at my suggestion as angel of cuisine.       A little hot onion soup works wonders.

Another ambulance arrives and a burly man steps out.
MAN
Anything I cab do?

 

ANTOINE
Thank you all is being done.
The man shakes Antoine's hand.
MAN
Ernest Hemingway. Writer to be.
ANTOINE
Antoine, Professor of cuisine. In better times I could have told you a tale of the search for a fabulous Gold reef in Australia.

HEMINGWAY
Adventure is for me!
Bullets fly and they drive off.

 

FULL SHOT THE FRONT -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO:

It is Christmas day and French and Germans are eating together.

 

Insanity!

ANTOINE V/O

A German soldier is woofing down Antoine's onion soup.  He replies.

SOLDIER
Das ist gut!
ANTOINE
Of course!
SOLDIER
My name is Adolf Hitler.
ANTOINE V/O
If I only had known. I would have poisoned him there and then and become President of France.

CUT TO:

 

EXT. THE FRONT -- AFTERNOON
ANTOINE is sitting in the ambulance.     He takes out a letter and it reads -     'Antoine, Professor of Beauty Paris."

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. ARALUEN BOARDING HOUSE -- DAY
OLIVE MAY is sitting in a rocking chair surrounded by children and a man mending a wall.

OLIVE MAY V/O
My dear Antoine, how cruel this war is.  I have never seen Shortnin' and wonder have you? I could not wait I met a kindly man, a bricklayer who gave me four wonderful children.

The oldest boy smiles and hoists a young girl on his shoulders and says.

BOY
Madeline I'll take you to the store and buy you a doll for your birthday.

He strides off down the road with her.
OLIVE MAY V/O
The oldest Roy, is Shortnin's but he'll never know I suppose.      Oh, Antoine if we could all meet again and find that blasted gold reef.
Always Olive May.

 

EXT. THE FRONT -- DAY

DISSOLVE TO:

ANTOINE is giving soup to some soldiers. He hears moaning. He gently touches a young soldier.
ANTOINE
Help is on the way.
The soldier tries to get something from his pocket.     ANTOINE helps him. It is a photo. It is Olive MAY and her family. ANTOINE is in tears.

ANTOINE (CONT'D)
Who are you?
SOLDIER
Corporal Roy Belgrove Australia.
ROY dies and ANTOINE cradles him in his arms.
ANTOINE V/O
A dead boy in the mud in a foreign land?  A boy who's mother I knew? Why couldn't I have told him that last comfort?    After the "Great War" had ended Australia lost it's innocence and became a more mature nation.       Not so Shortnin'.

 

EXT. FARM NSW -- DAY
A  montage of LASSETER at work. Tending to a large vegetable garden. Working on a road gang.

CUT TO:

Mending fences with a young lady smiling admirably at him.
CUT TO:

EXT. FARM NSW -- AFTERNOON
Men are bringing their Horses to Lasseter he pockets some pound notes.

LASSETER
Yes Sir, agistment is the answer. You always need a spare horse to come back too.               Never know when the other one's going to go lame.

 

EXT. OCEAN LOADING RAMP -- DAY

CUT TO:

LASSETER is busy with some men loading horses on a cattle boat.

LASSETER
How many today boys?

 

 

Forty.

MAN

LASSETER

A tidy sum indeed to be made. Well, horses it's off to Sydney with you.

 

EXT. OCEAN -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO:

The cattle boat is making it's way in rough seas towards Sydney.

 

EXT. CIRCULAR QUAY -- MORNING
LASSETER is being paid by some men.

 

INT. SYDNEY HOTEL -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO:

 

 

CUT TO:

A dapperly dressed LASSETER is talking to an attractive woman and they leave arm in arm.

 

INT. SYDNEY HOTEL -- EVENING

CUT TO:

LASSETER in a different Hotel does exactly the same thing.
ANTOINE V/O
Damn boy had no shame. Florence and Ruby were left on that farm and he never went back.
(Sniffs)
He even convinced more greedy fools to find that reef. They had a good time.

 

EXT. DESERT -- DAY
A montage of sepia shots of the prosectors fate. Dead in the desert heat.
Falling down ravines to their death.

CUT TO:

 

Speared by Aboriginals.
Being blown up by short fuses. Killing each other with greed. ANTOINE V/O
Mind you he did try to educate himself and Australia.
CUT TO:

INT. CITY LIBRARY -- DAY
LASSETER is reading books and starts to write a letter. " My Dear Prime Minister, We need to cut ties with Great
Britain.  She can never defend her empire from so far away and I predict that Japan our ally will become our enemy and one day invade us.         We must turn towards the United States."

He writes another:
"Dear Chief engineer, I propose and submit my design for an arched bridge for Sydney Harbor and not a flat one as is planned.

As Sydney is now full of traffic I suggest speed humps to slow cars down and multi level car parks to store them."

ANTOINE V/O
Trouble was it all came true and there was know way Shortnin' could prove a thing.       It had to come down to finding that blasted Gold reef once and for all.        This is how I found out.

DISSOLVE TO: EXT. 1930 PARIS RITZ HOTEL BAR -- AFTERNOON
ANTOINE is finishing a bottle of Dom. The bar is empty and he has a folded newspaper next to him.      Outside argumentative voices are heard.

ANTOINE
Felix, he must not be let in!
FELIX
Not in this establishment Professor.

ANTOINE
You know my name.

 

FELIX
Everyone knows you. Since the financial crash they allow anybody who can talk their way in.

ANTOINE
No talking! Take them immediately to the wall for shooting.

The door flies open and a large man stumbles in.   He sees ANTOINE,

MAN
Professor!  It's Earnest Hemingway.
ANTOINE is amazed.

ANTOINE
You must write my biography.
HEMINGWAY
I'm strictly fiction.
ANTOINE
Felix, two magnums of Dom.
HEMINGWAY sits down and looks around.
HEMINGWAY
Is the depression this bad? I can remember not so long ago you couldn't get in for the crowds.

ANTOINE
Earnest, I only have quarter the number of cafes.

HEMINGWAY
The depression will go. Always does.

ANTOINE
To think all those years ago we were Ambulance officers.     All of those dear dead boys.

ANTOINE cries.
HEMINGWAY
That is why we must go on. Live our lives for them never let evil win.

 

CGI: ANTOINE and HEMINGWAY drinking through ten bottles of DOM. HEMINGWAY falls to the floor.     ANTOINE starts to sniff uncontrollably.  He looks at the newspaper.

ANTOINE
All depression.
He is about to join HEMINGWAY on the floor when the newspaper mysteriously blows open to a headline reading - "EXPEDITION IN AUSTRALIA TO FIND WORLD'S BIGGEST GOLD REEF" and a photo of LASSETER.

ANTOINE (CONT'D)
Shortnin' you need me.
ANTOINE falls unconscious to the floor.

 

EXT. ARALUEN MAIN ROAD -- AFTERNOON

 

 

CUT TO:

LASSETER is driving up the road. He stops gets out and looks around trying to remember the past.

 

INT. ARALUEN MAIN ROAD -- AFTERNOON
LASSETER is the only one at the bar.
LASSETER
Where is everybody?
BARMAN

CUT TO:

No one here anymore. Gold's all dredged out. People are growing orchards now.

LASSETER
I remember this place when it was roaring.

BARMAN
(laughs)
People have told me great tales.
LASSETER
Listen there was once a boarding house here.
(Nervous pause) Olive May's?

 

BARMAN
Still here.
Lasseter drops his glass.
BARMAN (CONT'D)
Get you another one...It's moved to
92 Bradley street, it's a private home now.

 

I see.

LASSETER

BARMAN

Wouldn't go there today. Heard the Lady has some trouble.

 

INT. ARALUEN BOARDING HOUSE -- NIGHT

DISSOLVE TO:

THOMAS her husband, and OLIVE MAY are sitting around the kitchen table.

THOMAS
No more boarders, no more gold.
OLIVE MAY

I know.

THOMAS

Maybe we should go to Sydney like the others?

OLIVE MAY
Let's stay here. We'll see it through.   I can make dresses again.

The light globe breaks.
THOMAS
I'll just fix it.
THOMAS climbs to the table top, puts in the globe and slips falling heavily to the floor cutting his head.       OLIVE MAY rushes to him.

 

I'm okay.

THOMAS

 

CUT TO:

 

EXT. ARALUEN MAIN ROAD -- DAY
THOMAS is walking home with some groceries.   He is stumbling from a brain hemorrhage. Two women walk by.

WOMAN
Disgusting it is. Drunk at midday.
CUT TO:

INT. ARALUEN BOARDING HOUSE -- DAY
THOMAS is eating with OLIVE MAY and their children. He looks very sick.      THOMAS smiles.

THOMAS
You are all so...
He drops dead.

 

FULL SHOT ARALUEN MAIN ROAD -- EVENING

CUT TO:

It is foggy and rainy. OLIVE MAY is leading her children to the funeral parlor like a mother goose leading her flock.
Nobody offers her a lift.
From the hotel window LASSETER looks on shaking and crying in guilty grief.

 

ARALUEN HOTEL ROOM -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO:

LASSETER is about to hang himself from a tree.
ANTOINE V/O
He told me that it was his fault. If he stayed with her nothing would have happened.      Roy would not have died or Thomas.         He did not have the courage to face her.

LASSETER jumps off the chair but it jams and he is just suspended in mid air.

 

ANTOINE V/O (CONT'D)
He told me it was a sign to finally find that blasted gold reef and make amends to all he had hurt and there were many.            He was helped along by

 

INT. NEW YORK WALL STREET 1929 -- DAY
The Stock Exchange falls.
ANTOINE V/O
In the popular imagination the Great Depression was started by the "Crash of 1929" also known as the Black Tuesday, share prices on Wall Street collapsed catastrophically, setting off a chain of bankruptcies and defaults that quickly spread overseas. The events in the United States were the final shock in a worldwide depression, which put hundreds of millions out of work across the capitalist world throughout the 1930s.

ANGLE ON
EXT. NEW YORK STREET -- DAY
A shabbily dressed young man declares -
MAN
Brother, can you spare a dime?
A montage of images. Empty heavy industry.
Families on the road looking for work. Soup Kitchens.

 

 

 

DISSOLVE TO:

ANTOINE V/O
In Australia it was just as bad.
EXT. ROAD TO MELBOURNE -- DAY
Men are trying to hitch a ride with a cardboard suitcase and a cardboard sign around their necks "Will do any work."

CUT TO:

 

INT. 1930 HAMPTON HOTEL,CBD SYDNEY -- AFTERNOON
LASSETER is drinking with new found mates and observes a young woman smiling at him.      He suddenly puts his beer down and walks outside.

LASSETER
(to himself)
Not this time. Last chance.

 

 

CUT TO:

EXT.  SYDNEY GEORGE STREET BUILDING -- DAY
Lasseter is looking at a sign that says "AUSTRALIAN WORKERS UNION" third floor.

LASSETER
(to himself)
You can do it. You have done it to other fools before. These ones are just bigger.

CGI: The White and Black Devils appear.
WHITE DEVIL
Don't do this to the country.
BLACK DEVIL
You're telling the truth. What's better than helping out your country and yourself at the same time?

CUT TO: INT. AUSTRALIAN WORKER UNION OFFICE -- DAY
LASSETER approaches the secretary with all his charm.
LASSETER
Good Afternoon Miss. Mr Harold Lasseter Esquire for Mr Bailey.
(Pause)
I have a two o'clock appointment.
SECRETARY
Have a seat Mr Lasseter.
LASSETER
Don't mind if I do. I've traveled five thousand miles to meet him.

 

SECRETARY
My God that far? Would you like a cup of teas and some biscuits?

LASSETER
Thank you kindly Miss.
SECRETARY
My names Madelaine.
LASSETER
That's them most beautiful name I have ever heard.

The door opens and out comes JOHN BAILEY a big gruff yet astute looking man wearing shirt suspenders.

BAILEY
Miss Madeline we seem to have run out of Tea.

He observes LASSETER.
BAILEY (CONT'D)
Hello.
LASSETER rushes over to him and offers his hand.
LASSETER
I have a proposition for you Mr Bailey it'll make Australia the richest nation in the world.

Bailey shakes his hand and shows him to the office.
BAILEY
(winks)
Madelaine, we need tea straight away.

INT. BAILEYS OFFICE -- DAY
BAILEY tells LASSETER to sit down and he then sits behind his desk.

BAILEY
That tea will refresh you.
LASSETER
I'm sure it will.

BAILEY
Now how do we save this great country?

The door opens and MADELINE bring in beer.
BAILEY
Our special name for tea. Sometimes we have them shirker, prissy types and we do indeed give them tea.

LASSETER and BAILEY open the bottles and toast.
LASSETER
Well I've discovered and pegged the claim for a gold reef's that's ten miles long.     It's about five hundred miles west of Alice Springs.  In fact I kept a bit go gold dust to show you.

BAILEY leans forward from his chair.
BAILEY
I'm listening.
CGI: Accelerated time Of Lasseter telling Bailey his yarn. Bailey and Lasseter are now quite drunk.

BAILEY
I'll tell you what. I'll do a bit of investigation on mining records. Then we might find a company.    We don't want may blunders.           Come back in a fortnight.

LASSETER is overjoyed and as he is about to leave replies.
LASSETER
We will go down in History.
LASSETER leaves and BAILEY looks at his appointment book.
BAILEY
Well how about that? He never even had an appointment.

CUT TO:

 

INT. BAILEYS OFFICE -- AFTERNOON
A fortnight later. The office is full of men. LASSETER is smiling.

BAILEY
Lasseter, we'll be delighted to start an expedition.          Looks like you are telling the truth.

LASSETER
(putting his hat to his chest)
I've never told a long one in my life.

The men cheer and drink beer and whisky.
BAILEY
Well call it Cage.
The Central Australian Gold Exploration Company.             Boys let's first settle on shares, directors and how much we need.

CGI: Accelerated time and drinking. A drunkard is mixing Vodka, Pineapple juice and water with gold specks in it.

He drinks it and smiles.
DRUNKARD
I've just created the Lasseter!
Finally a drunken BAILEY declares.
BAILEY
Okay, with a working capital of five thousand pounds and equal shares,this reef will make us the richest union in the world, build cooperatives and rescue people from poverty.         Let's get this show on the road.

 

INT. HAMPTON HOTEL,CBD SYDNEY -- EVENING

CUT TO:

LASSETER is with a young woman and so drunk he can hardly stand.        He falls and she and a barman take him upstairs.

CUT TO:

 

EXT. BANK OF AUSTRALIA SYDNEY -- EVENING
LASSETER leaves an envelope with the Bank Manager.
LASSETER
It's only to be opened on my safe return or my death.

MANAGER
Yes Mr Lasseter and let's hope it's when you return. You might wish to leave some gold with us.

LASSETER
I sure will. Could I possibly use your phone?

MANAGER
By all means.
The Manager steps outside and closes the door. Lasseter opens a letter and dials a number.
LASSETER
Nellie?  Have I got a way to make you rich.        All you need is two thousand pounds.

CGI: The white devil appears on his shoulder.
WHITE DEVIL

I give up!

 

INT. HENRY FORDS OFFICE -- DAY

CUT TO:

FORD is reading a newspaper article headlined.
"Search in Australia to find worlds largest gold reef."
He looks at the accompanying photo and recognizes Lasseter.
HENRY FORD
Well I'll be goddamned if it isn't that feller I met with Nellie Melba.

He calls to his Secretary.
FORD
Get me Howard Hughes on the line.

 

He picks up the receiver as it rings.
FORD (CONT'D)
Howard, I have a proposition to make to you as long as you have a plane we can use, I'll supply the car.

He listens to Hughes and replies.
FORD (CONT'D)
Howard,it's like I said years ago, History is more or less bunk.       It's tradition.           We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history we make today.  And.    We'll sot those filthy unionist and communists to sort out.

FORD puts down the phone and calls to his secretary.
FORD (CONT'D)
Miss Fisher call the engineering department and see if they can make me a hot model T like the Red Devil. It has to be suitable for rough terrain.   I'm off for an adventure.

 

EXT. ALICE SPRINGS -- DAY

CUT TO:

A newspaper crew are busy taking photos of the C.A.G.E. Team. Fred Blakely - Leader.      Lasseter. Phillip Taylor- Driver.
Micky - Aboriginal Guide. They move to the front of a Thorneycroft, a huge six wheel truck.

Everyone except Micky who seems bemused by the whole thing jostle for the best photo position.

NEWSMAN
Easy boys! We don't want you to perish here!

LASSETER
We'll live on damper bread and meat.

 

BLAKELY
When we come back it'll be fillet steak everyday.

LASSETER
I'll try to find Antoine my chef.
NEWSMAN
Okay boys, smile.
A series of sepia shots are taken.
NEWSMAN (CONT'D)
Where's the pilot?

 

EXT. ALICE SPRINGS SMALL AIRPORT -- DAY

CUT TO

One of the famous planes in the world, a Gypsy Moth bi- plane is being inspected by Errol Coote the pilot and Charles Ulm an aviation pioneer.

ULM
You don't want a high compression job, that's for racing.      You need a working outfit and there's no better one than a Moth.

COOTE inspects the plane
COOTE
How many are there?
ULM
Over two thousand worldwide. I've flown her and she has a good turn of speed and ideal for the job ahead.

COOTE
Take her for a run?
ULM
Off you go!
ANGLE ON
ALICE SPRINGS SMALL AIRPORT -- DAY
COOTE takes off and starts flying low completing acrobatics.

 

ULM
Damn brash boy will come a cropper doing that.

COOTE lands the plane and ULM comes up to him.
ULM (CONT'D)
No speed record need to be beaten.
COOTE jumps out smiling.
COOTE
The boys need the fuselage painted black with red wings. We'll call her the Golden Quest.

 

EXT. NORTHERN TERRITORY -- DAY

CUT TO:

The Thorntcroft and other truck are making good way. There is a bicycle tied to the already overloaded truck. MICKY the Aboriginal guide is sitting on to of the Thornycroft      as a lookout.  All are sweating profusely.

LASSETER
What's the bicycle for?
BLAKELY
If we have to search for water in trackless country.

LASSETER
We got plenty of water.
BLAKELY
Who's boss here?
LASSETER
We all are.
BLAKELY
(ignores him)
How far away you reckon this reef is?

LASSETER
About four hundred miles west of here.

 

BLAKELY
We gotta watch out for sandy blight. If we all get it we're done for.

TAYLOR the driver turns around
TAYLOR
We gotta watch for spinifex snakes, sand storms, Aboriginals, bogs and now sandy blight?

BLAKELY
Ain't a cricket match boys.
LASSETER
Well I heard Micky has the blight.
BLAKELY
What?
Blackely leans out of the truck and looks at MICKY.
BLAKELY (CONT'D)
Micky you got the blight?
MICKY
Yeah Boss, but I can still see for water. See bird and animal tracks real well.   Can speak other language too.

BLAKELY

Okay.

MICKY

Got other things to lookout for boss.       Plenty of tribes around here. Some good feller, some bad feller.

BLAKELY
Well I got a gun.
MICKY
Gun only good for some boss. Spear, boomerang and nulla nulla quick too.

LASSETER
I got a cure for the blight.
LASSETER brings out a small flask of water.

 

LASSETER (CONT'D)
Lourdes water. Straight from the source.        Blessed it is.

BLAKELY

Nonsense.

We'll see.

LASSETER

Suddenly there is a thunder crack.
LASSETER (CONT'D)
Told you he's on my side.
BLAKELY
Let's hope he's on all our sides.
CUT TO

FULL SHOT NORTHERN TERRITORY -- AFTERNOON
The sun is burning with intensity and the vastness and barrenness of the land is overpowering.           A group of Aboriginals observe the expedition Trucks as they lumber along.

 

EXT. NORTHERN TERRITORY -- EVENING
The expedition is camping overnight.
BLAKELY

CUT TO

We are already over six weeks late. Gotta watch that sun.

LASSETER
I seen it rain for days here.
BLAKELY

When?

LASSETER

During my last three finds.
BLAKELY
Thought it was two?
LASSETER
I meant two.

 

BLAKELY
Your a bit to shifty for me.
TAYLOR
Listen Coote can you land in rain?
COOTE
Easy! But not sure about stopping though.

LASSETER
Relax boys. Soon we'll all be rich beyond our imagination.

BLAKELY
(regards Lasseter)
That's what I'm worried about.
MICKY
Keep quiet. Black feller around.
BLAKELY reaches for his revolver.
MICKY (CONT'D)
Stay still. Just go to sleep.
COOTE
Should all have a gun.
MICKY
They just look boss. Walkabout. Look for Dingo and Kangaroo.

A group of Aboriginals walk past the camp so silently and closely that the team don't even see them.

CUT TO
EXT. NORTHERN TERRITORY -- DAY
The trucks have stopped near a creek.    All of the crew are examining the area for a landing strip.

TAYLOR
Not bad.  Three hundred miles in nine days.

BLAKELY
Reckon we'll call it Taylor's creek then.       Coote can you land the Golden Quest here?

 

COOTE
It's flat enough. (Looks around)
Got enough landing points.
LASSETER
Hey Coote reckon you can land it?
COOTE
Survived the war in France and acrobatic school.

LASSETER
Reckon you'll roll it.
COOTE
Want to bet on it loser?
LASSETER
Name the bet.
COOTE
Bet my share I won't roll it.
LASSETER
If you land you can have mine.
BLAKELY
You two shutup. Micky can we clear the mulga away here?

MICKY
Yes boss.
TAYLOR starts to improvise using the Thornycroft as a bulldozer by tying a log to it's bumper bar.             He starts to charge the mulga trees and is nearly speared by the incoming branches.

BLAKELY
Okay, boys get to work.
CGI: Many hours later and a small landing strip is starting to make shape.    The only trouble is that the roots of the trees are still in the ground.

COOTE
Can't land with them like that.
MICKY just smiles and grabs a shovel and quickly digs one out by the root.

MICKY
Nobody asked me boss.
They all laugh and applaud MICKY.
BLAKELY
Could have been finished by now.
MICKY
Stop soon boss. Mulga make good fire and windbreak.

A series of gunshots ring out. BLAKELY looks for his gun and it's gone.

FULL SHOT AIRSTRIP -- AFTERNOON
COOTE is busy running and shooting snakes.
COOTE
Run! They'll kill you.
They all laugh at COOTE. LASSETER grabs a camera and takes a series of pictures.        COOTE returns to the group.

MICKY
Good shooting boss. That ones Spinifex snake. Kill you in a minute.

COOTE
Not landing here.
LASSETER
Now you've lost your share.
TAYLOR
I'm staying in the Thornycroft tonight.

MICKY
Just burn big fire. Snake doesn't like fire.

 

EXT. AIRSTRIP -- EVENING

CUT TO

A big fire is burning. The billy is boiling and they are eating some canned food.

 

BLAKELY
Coote first thing in the morning take the truck and get the Golden Quest. Get here as soon as you can.

 

Okay.

COOTE

MICKY is sitting next to LASSETER.
MICKY
I been here for over forty years boss.       Never seen no Gold reef but seen it in the dreaming.

LASSETER
I'm telling the truth Micky. See if you seen it in the dreaming it must be true.

MICKY
Could be, Could be. Maybe Spinifex tree, mulga and sandstorm hide it.

LASSETER
I never lie. You just wait and see.

MICKY
(smiles)
I believe you boss. Micky like an adventure.

LASSETER good maturely throws some bully beef at him. BLAKELY is reading the newspaper article of the expedition.

BLAKELY
Get to sleep boys. Lot of work ahead of us.           We gotta find that reef soon.           Wouldn't be surprised if another group are looking too.

LASSETER starts to sing some Spirituals.
BLAKELY (CONT'D)
Suns got you fool.
CUT TO

 

FULL SHOT. ALICE SPRINGS AIRSTRIP-- DAY
HENRY FORD and HOWARD HUGHES get out of a hot Model T "Red Devil" Ford and are looking at a racing aircraft.

FORD
We have to beat them to it Howard.
HUGHES
We will with this baby.
HUGHES approaches the pilot and opens his wallet.
HUGHES (CONT'D)
How much?
PILOT
Twelve hundred pounds.
HUGHES counts out the money and gives it to him.
PILOT (CONT'D)
That's too much.
HUGHES
Keep it.  Don't like this colonial money prefer good old uncle sam's dollars.

HUGHES jumps into the plane and takes off and does a series of scary acrobatic maneuverers.

PILOT
Who the hell is that feller?
FORD
That's  Howard Hughes one of the richest men in America.         I'm Henry Ford.

The Pilot is stunned.
PILOT
Mr Ford I still have one of your model T's.       It goes like a flash.

FORD
Should try this one son.
They hop into the hot model and Ford races it all around the landing strip.

 

PILOT
Say what are you two doing here so far away.

FORD
It is no secret we're here to find Lasseter's Gold reef.

PILOT
The expedition already left two weeks ago.

FORD brakes hard and stops the car.
FORD
Two week ago?
PILOT
Don't worry. The Pilot hasn't returned for his search plane yet.

FORD
We'll beat them son. We're Americans.

HUGHES dives down over the car and does a perfect turn and lands.

HUGHES
Handles like a dream.

 

INT. EXT NORTHERN TERRITORY -- DAY

 

CUT TO:

COOTE is about to leave. As he enters the truck BLAKELY grabs him.

BLAKELY
See you soon. Don't get on the drink.

COOTE
I'll be back as soon as I can. I want some of that Gold too.

LASSETER
Bring me back some Argarol.
COOTE
What the hell is that?

 

LASSETER
For sandy blight. With Lourdes water and Argarol we'll be right.

COOTE drives off.

BLAKELY
Okay, lets get some bearings for your reef.

LASSETER opens up a map.
LASSETER
Here we are and the reefs about 150 miles west of here.       Between Ayers Rock, Mount Connor and Mount Marjorie.

BLAKELY
Still a way to go.
LASSETER
Coote will find it in a day. I'll go with him when he gets back.

 

EXT. ALICE SPRINGS SMALL AIRPORT -- DAY

CUT TO:

COOTE is smiling next to the Golden Quest for some photographers.

COOTE
Boys I'll come back a rich man and the grog will be on me!

COOTE slowly turns for the runway, He guns the engine and flies down the runway.       A man runs from the office yelling after him.       COOTE does not hear him.

MAN
Watch out for a man called Howard Hughes and his mate Henry Ford!
They bought a racing moth to find the reef too!

CUT TO
EXT. NORTHERN TERRITORY SKY -- AFTERNOON
COOTE is flying towards Ayers Rock. The sun is a brilliant red reflecting off the immense red desert.    All of a sudden the racing moth buzzes him with HUGHES giving him the finger.

 

COOTE
Who the hell is that?
HUGHES completes a turn and is on the backside of COOTES moth.

COOTE (CONT'D)
What the hell? Okay mate I'll show you!  I was a Somme Air ace!

They enter into a spectacular aerial dogfight over Ayres rock often coming perilously close to colliding.

CUT TO

EXT. ALICE SPRINGS -- DAY
FORD is driving his hot Model T along the rough roads towards the expedition.     He does not get far as the mulga and spinifax stop him in his tracks.

FORD
Goddamn!  These Australian roads are worst than the American west.

Unseen by FORD a group of Aborigines observe the foolhardy man.

ABORIGINE
Damn crazy men around lately.
CGI:Emu and Kangaroo.
EMU
Always thought those humans were damn fools.

KANGAROO
Sure do agree. Remember that fool we saw way back walking alongside a stagecoach?

EMU
Sure do!  Wonder what happened to him?

KANGAROO
Bet his lying drunk in the gutter like we saw the other flops back in Darwin.

CUT TO

 

EXT. ALICE SPRINGS -- AFTERNOON
FORD IS driving back to Alice Springs.
FORD
Not beaten! Just changing ideas. I'll call on a dealership, introduce myself and drive this sucker all over the country for folk and show how tough a Ford is.

CUT TO:

EXT. NORTHERN TERRITORY SKY -- AFTERNOON
COOTE is now flying solo.
COOTE
Well whoever he is he ain't bad. He's got a faster plane though. Wonder where he is going?

 

EXT. NORTHERN TERRITORY SKY -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO

HUGHES is flying towards the west. He looks at a map.
HUGHES
Money buys anything. Especially from journalists.

All of a sudden the sky glows gold. Even the sun seems ready to burst.    He looks down and there is the reef glowing gold for miles.

HUGHES (CONT'D)
Well I'll be goddamned. Thought the whole thing was a pack of lies.

HUGHES does a dive and circuits the reef.     He looks for a landing spot. He gingerly lands the plane near the reef.

HUGHES (CONT'D)
Even the landing strip is gold. Howard your a lucky man.

HUGHES takes some bags from the plane and packs gold nuggets and dust in them and place them back in the plane.

He then notices an old pegged out claim with the name Lasseter 1897.

 

HUGHES
Someone beat me to it.
He buries the claim in goldust.
HUGHES
Stake my own.
He continuously loads the plane with gold till it is dangerously overloaded.

HUGHES
Bit heavy but she'll make it.
HUGHES takes off very slowly.
HUGHES
Come on you can do it!
As he flies over the reef he suddenly dives and a crash is heard.

 

EXT. NORTHERN TERRITORY -- DAY

CUT TO

The Expedition crew are getting on each others nerves.
LASSETER
Where's my mug?
BLAKELY
Who cares? They're a dime a dozen.
LASSETER
My mother gave it to me.
BLAKELY
Looks new to me.
LASSETER
Well my brother did.
TAYLOR
Who cares? Where the hell is Coote? Bet he got on the drink.

LASSETER

Yeah.

BLAKELY

Not him.  Coote's reliable.

 

TAYLOR
Listen I reckon I saw your mug in the back of the Thorny.

LASSETER goes to look for it.
BLAKELY
He's getting on my nerves.
TAYLOR
Me too.  If he's lying about this reef I'm gonna shoot him.

BLAKELY
Not before me.
LASSETER returns with the mug.
LASSETER

Found it.

BLAKELY

So we ain't liars.
LASSETER
Guess not. Okay boys lets not have any more hot words.

LASSETER opens up a can of bully beef and throws meat at both of them.

 

That's it!

BLAKELY

TAYLOR

You're a dead man.
They jump LASSETER and a brawl occurs.      MICKY watches grinning and then joins in helping LASSETER.         An aeroplane engine is heard overhead. They look up and see COOTE. He flies low and waves to them.

LASSETER

Coote!

BLAKELY

Now we'll find the reef!

 

Gold!

TAYLOR

 

 

Trouble.

MICKY

 

CUT TO

FULL SHOT MAKESHIFT AERODROME -- DAY
COOTE makes a low sortie and prepares to land.
COOTE
Steady, steady!
Suddenly the engine stalls and COOTE loses control, somersaults and lands upside down on the ground trapping him in the cockpit.

 

Run boys!

BLAKELY

LASSETER

I've just got another gold share.
TAYLOR
Shut your trap.
The plane is smoking fumes and steam.
BLAKELY
Get him out before she blows up.
LASSETER
Coote can you hear us?
COOTE just moans as BLAKELY and TAYLOR lift him out.
LASSETER
It won't blow.
TAYLOR
Give us a hand with him.
They take him to the campfire where MICKY is preparing some bush medicine.      MICKY examines COOTE.

MICKY
No good boss. He got broken leg, arm and ribs.

BLAKELY
Can you fix him just here?

MICKY
A little. He must go to hospital in Alice.

 

How?

LASSETER

MICKY

I'll drive him.
BLAKELY

Okay. COOTE is raving.

 

COOTE

The red baron shot me down. The red baron shot me down.

MICKY starts to wrap COOTE in some tree bark.
MICKY
Stop shock boss.
BLAKELY
Listen Micky we can't just wait here.       You know the route. Just tell the new pilot to stick to it. He'll find us.

MICKY
Okay boss. But watch out for black fellers.         Not all friendly like me.

CUT TO EXT. AUSTRALIAN WORKER UNION OFFICE -- DAY
A telegraph boy brings in a telegram.    MADELINE takes it and approaches BAILEYS door. She takes a quick look at the message.

 

Mr Bailey?

Yes?

MADELINE BAILEY

MADELINE
There's a telegram for you.
BAILEY stands up from his desk and smiles.

 

BAILEY
The boy's have found the reef!
BAILEY reads the telegram and looks defeated.
BAILEY (CONT'D)
Coote has crashed the plane and is off to hospital.  Madeline call an urgent meeting with the executive committee.   We have to find another plane and pilot fast.

MADELINE
Yes Mr Bailey. I'll schedule it for tomorrow morning.

CUT TO INT. AUSTRALIAN WORKER UNION OFFICE -- MORNING
BAILEY is on the phone. It is two weeks later.
BAILEY
Well that will have to do...certificates of safety? Leave all that to me.  Make sure the first pilot goes with this Hall feller.        Don't want to waste any more time.

MADELINE arrives with a pot of "Tea". BAILEY  signals for her to wait.

BAILEY (CONT'D)
Pay by cheque and send the boys out there right away.

BAILEY puts down the receiver.
BAILEY (CONT'D)
Just bought a new plane. I'm sure it's fine.

CGI: of a pristine Gypsy Moth and then a shot of the "Golden Quest" 2 which is ratty and has paint peeling from it.

BAILEY (CONT'D)
Ahh...tea.  Madeline it's all getting too much.

MADELINE opens the window and lets in some fresh air.
CUT TO

 

EXT. ROUGH TERRAIN WEST OF ALICE SPRINGS -- AFTERNOON
A wild sand storm is occurring and the Thornycroft is making very slow way continually being bogged down.     BLAKELY yells at LASSETER through the storm.

BLAKELY
How the hell can you recognize landmarks in this weather?

LASSETER
I know where my reef is.
BLAKELY
Our reef!
LASSETER
We'll find it by the end of the week. It's near a pond and the bean tree markers will still be there.

BLAKELY
How long ago was that?
LASSETER
Ten years ago.
BLAKELY
One day it's ten years the next twenty!

The Thornycroft nearly rolls.
BLAKELY (CONT'D)
In ten days we have only traveled one hundred miles.     You and the whole expedition is getting on      my nerves.

LASSETER
You think I'm lying?
BLAKELY

Yes.

LASSETER

Here have some Dingo!
LASSETER throws a piece of meat at BLAKELY and they come to blows.        The truck leans over to an angle and they all fall to the side. TAYLOR the driver yells out -

 

TAYLOR
All out!  We'll have to hand dig her out of the bloody sand.

CUT TO
EXT. ROUGH TERRAIN WEST OF ALICE SPRINGS -- AFTERNOON
Everyone is hand digging the sand away from the Thornycroft's wheels.  As soon as they make a hole it is covered up again by the swirling sand.

TAYLOR
Watch out for sandblight! Protect your eyes!

BLAKELY pushes LASSETER.
BLAKELY
I ain't the one whose blind here.
CUT TO:

INT. THORNEYCROFT -- AFTERNOON
All aboard are exhausted and beaten.     BLAKELY stares at LASSETER.

BLAKELY
We have no choice we have to go back to Ilibila and restructure.

LASSETER

No.

BLAKELY

Well I ain't dying for a wild goose chase.

LASSETER
I tell you the reefs real. Years ago I had the same problems finding it.

BLAKELY throws down a map.
BLAKELY
No good in a sandstorm.
He watches LASSETER write in his diary.

 

BLAKELY (CONT'D)
What the hell you doing with that? We are lost.

LASSETER ignores him and keeps doodling and writing.
BLAKELY (CONT'D)
Where the hell is the new plane? With the plane we'd find it in days...if it exists.

LASSETER

Shutup!

BLAKELY

Anyway we have already soured relations with the Aboriginals. They don't want any more white men into their land. Maybe we're cursed?

Suddenly a punch of thunder and dark skies loom.
LASSETER
Shutup!  You'll be scaring everyone off.

BLAKELY
Taylor head back to Illibila.

 

FULL SHOT NORTHERN TERRITORY -- DAY

 

CUT TO:

The Thorneycroft drives laboriously through the desert. The camera presents them as virtual toy trucks compared to the enormity of the desert.

 

EXT. ILLIBILA -- DAY

CUT TO:

The Thorneycroft and crew park at the campsite.    MICKY arrives from Alice Springs.        He gets out and looks scared. He jumps back in the truck.

MICKY
Trouble coming boss.
BLAKELY
Really?  How unusual.

 

 

Look.

MICKY

A group of aborigines surround the truck.     They beckon to MICKY.

 

Stay here.

BLAKELY

MICKY

Must talk boss find out what they want.

LASSETER
Tell em' were just passing through.

 

Brilliant!

TAYLOR

BLAKELY

Shut up!  Okay Micky go but I got the rifle aimed at them.

MICKY jumps out and speaks to them. They seem not to understand him and he changes dialect.

MICKY
White feller just look around.
ABORIGINE
Look for bright God!
MICKY
They can't find it.
ABORIGINE
Other tribe look for us. Make war.
MICKY
We must stay here. Leave for Alice tomorrow.

ABORIGINE
We stay here too.
LASSETER hops out of the truck and a tight situation arises.
MICKY

Go back.

LASSETER

Tell em' they can have some gold as well.

 

MICKY
Bad time boss.
LASSETER
Every one likes Gold.
ABORIGINE
Tell him better to leave in ground. Upset nobody then.

LASSETER goes to the truck and brings out some tin food and clothes.

LASSETER
Tell them it's a peace offering.
MICKY talks to them and they give LASSETER a Churinga a stone knife and a Kulpidji.

MICKY
Sacred boss. Better give back.
LASSETER
Micky just keep them from killing us.

From the air the "Golden Quest" 2 flies low and the aborigines flee from terror.           The plane lands and COOTE in plaster and HALL hop out.

LASSETER (CONT'D)
Good timing boys.
MICKY
Plane look crook boss.
BLAKELY comes out of the truck.
BLAKELY
What sort of plane is this? Looks dirty and hasn't had a paint job in years.

COOTE
Best they could do considering.
BLAKELY
How can you help with a broken leg?
COOTE
Good to see you to Blackely.

 

HALL
Look, lets do a reconnaissance tomorrow and then we'll fly back to Alice and get her modified.

LASSETER
Everyone relax and get some sleep.
BLAKELY
Should shoot you now and get it over with.

LASSETER
Then you'll go back a broke and defeated man.

 

EXT. NORTHERN TERRITORY SKY -- DAY

CUT TO:

The 'Golden Quest" 2 is flying low over some mountains. LASSETER is grinning like a boy.

LASSETER
What a machine!
HALL
Not as bad as it looks.
He looks at the fuel gauge which registers low.
HALL
See anything? We're a bit low on fuel.

LASSETER
I do!  Can you get between those three small mountains?            I can make some measurements.

They fly down low and a group of Aboriginals are on walkabout.

LASSETER
Hey fly down and scare the hell out of them.

HALL grins.

HALL
Watch this!

 

The plane flies down so low it clips some mulga and the Aboriginals flee in terror.            As the plane descends LASSETER is in a fit of laughter.

LASSETER
Do it again!
HALL
No petrol...hurry up and get those coordinates.

 

EXT. ILLIBILA -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO

The plane lands and LASSETER and HALL approach the campsite.
LASSETER
Listen Blackely I found the three sisters.         Know where the reef is now.

BLAKELY
Can't use the trucks. Okay boys take the plane back to Alice and get her modified quickly and come back.

HALL is checking the tanks.
HALL
Just a gallon left.
BLAKELY
Plenty in the cans in the truck. Listen send a telegram to Sydney and see what the hell they want us to do.

They fuel the plane and COOTE and HALL take off.
BLAKELY (CONT'D)
Coote ain't saying much.
LASSETER
Got too knocked around in the crash.

BLAKELY
Well we better settle down here and wait.       What else can we do? The landscape is impassable by truck.

 

From the mulga a dingoe trapper, JOHNS come in with five Camels.

LASSETER
Maybe our prayers have been answered.

ACCELERATED TIME IMAGE: LASSETER takes JOHNS aside and tells him about the reef.

JOHNS
Camels will find it.
LASSETER talks to BLAKELY and points out the camels and JOHNS.

BLAKELY
Don't worry you will get your share. Just hurry up and find it!

CUT TO FULL SHOT. CENTRAL AUSTRALIAN DESERT -- MORNING
LASSETER and JOHNS are riding Camels and have three more following them.           The Camera pans to show them as virtual ants compared with the enormity of the desert and its heat.

LASSETER
We are not far from the mountains I saw from the air.

JOHNS
Even Dingoes would keep away from this hell.

They ride towards a narrow pass and all of a sudden there are explosions and dust making it impossible to go through. They reach for their guns.       A motorcycle engine is heard coming towards them and out of the dust comes ANTOINE.        JOHNS aims his gun at him.

LASSETER
No!  He's a friend.
JOHNS
Looks like a ghost.
ANTOINE pulls up next to LASSETER.
ANTOINE
I sniffed Gold from Paris.

LASSETER
The camels are the answer. The trucks bogged down and the plane was good for location points.

CGI: A camel declares.
CAMEL
Where'd this fancy boy come from?
ANTOINE
Camels are impossible for cuisine. Too much fat.

LASSETER
What the hell are you blowing up?
ANTOINE
Got stuck in some mulga. (Pats his dynamite)
Suddenly no more mulga.
LASSETER
How did your bike get this far?
ANTOINE
Special petrol. A secret.
LASSETER
Well follow us. We're nearly there.

LASSETER, JOHNS and the camels head due west. ANTOINE follows them and then impatiently accelerates past them. Thunder cracks, lightning strikes and a wild sandstorm starts. They all stop and the ground gives way underneath them and they fall down a deep ravine - THE GOLD REEF IS BEFORE THEM!        Even they glitter from the Gold!

ANTOINE
Impossible.
JOHNS
We're suffering heat stroke.
LASSETER
I'm saved!!
ANTOINE regards his smashed bike.
ANTOINE
My boy!

 

 

My boy?

JOHNS

LASSETER

I'll buy you thousands more.
ANTOINE
(cries)
It was special...
JOHNS
Lasseter you better peg out a claim.

 

Right!

LASSETER

He walks around and sees a pegged claim and falls to the ground.

LASSETER
We're finished.
He looks at it - "Howard Hughes USA"
LASSETER
Who the heck is Howard Hughes?
He then destroys it burying it in the golden sand.
LASSETER
Wasn't there in the first place. Sand covered it up.

The White and Black devils appear on his shoulder.
WHITE DEVIL
Can't believe it he was telling the truth.

 

He isn't.

BLACK DEVIL

They jump off and roll in the gold dust. LASSETER shakes his head.

LASSETER
Could have sworn I heard voices.
He pegs out his claim and returns to JOHNS and ANTOINE. The heat is unbearable and they all are looking dazed.

 

JOHNS
Gotta leave now or we'll die.
LASSETER
What a place to die in.
ANTOINE
Paris is better.
LASSETER
Antoine hop on a camel. Quickly!
ANTOINE tries to get on but falls. JOHNS pushes him back up and he rides back to front.       They all leave the reef and from ANTOINES P.O.V he is the last person to see the reef as they head for Illibila.

CUT TO EXT. NORTHERN TERRITORY CAMPSITE -- AFTERNOON
BLAKELY, TAYLOR and MICKY are around the campfire bored to tears.        Through the mulga camels arrive carrying LASSETER and JOHNS.

LASSETER
We found it! We found it!
JOHNS
It goes for miles and miles!
LASSETER
The camels made all the difference.
They dismount. LASSETER shows gold nuggets to BLAKELY.
LASSETER (CONT'D)
I'm gonna make them Camels gold horse shoes!

JOHNS
Don't need them.
LASSETER
Doesn't matter they earned them.
BLAKELY
Was any one there before you?
JOHNS
Not a soul.

 

 

Lasseter?

BLAKELY

JOHNS

He's tellin' the truth.
There is a rustle behind the mulga and a camel appears with the unconscious ANTOINE.    BLAKLEY gets his rifle.

LASSETER
No!  He's a friend.
ANTOINE falls to the ground. CGI: CAMEL.
CAMEL
All I heard was this was wrong and that was wrong! Should have bucked him off miles ago and let him eat emu and berries.

BLAKELY
How many more friends you got? Takes a share away.

LASSETER
I'll give him some of mine.
The DEVILS appear.

WHITE DEVIL
Me too!  I want my share.
BLACK DEVIL
Me too!  I want my share.
BLAKELY
I'm hearing voices.
LASSETER
Always thought you were a bit slow in the head.

BLAKELY points his gun at LASSETER.
BLAKELY
Don't reckon we'll be needing you now.      Johns take a camel and go to Alice and telegram CAGE in Sydney.

JOHNS
Go tomorrow. I'm tired.

 

 

Go now.

BLAKELY

JOHNS grumbles, mounts a camel and leaves.
LASSETER
You need me Blackely. I'm the only one who knows the exact coordinates.

BLAKELY
Yeah I guess I do.
Puts down the gun.

BLAKELY
What a shame.
MICKY looks at ANTOINE.
MICKY
Fix him up boss?
LASSETER
Okay Micky.

 

EXT. CAMPFIRE -- NIGHT

 

 

 

 

 

DISSOLVE TO:

The fire burns low and snoring is heard. Slowly LASSETER gets up and makes some provisions and mounts a camel and ties another behind him.      He silently steals out west in search of the reef.          ANTOINE wakes and sees him. He is to weak to stand and tries to speak but his voice is hoarse.

ANTOINE
No Shortnin' Please don't go on your own.

 

EXT. CAMPFIRE -- MORNING

CUT TO:

The crew awaken. BLAKELY notices that all the camels are missing and no LASSETER.

BLAKELY
Always knew he was a liar.
ANTOINE tries to get up.

 

ANTOINE
He'll die out there.
BLAKELY
How the hell are we gonna find that bloody reef now?

He looks to where Lasseter slept and there are the gold nuggets.

BLAKELY (CONT'D)
Where's the bloody plane?

 

EXT. ALICE SPRINGS AIRPORT -- DAY

 

CUT TO

The "Golden Quest" 2 is in pieces. COOTE and HALL look despondent.  A MECHANIC looks at them.

MECHANIC
Take three weeks to get the propeller parts and tail wing.

COOTE
Told you we shouldn't had done that bootleg liquor trip and clipped the runway.

HALL
Don't worry the boys will be alright.         I just have that good felling about it.

 

EXT. DESERT -- DAY

CUT TO

LASSETER is drinking water profusely and seems disorientated. He falls from the camel.

LASSETER
(to himself dazed)
Gotta find it. The other fools will wreck everything.    I'll stay there to they come for me.   That way it'll still be ours.

He slowly mounts the camel and rides off west.     He falls again and the camels run and leave him alone in the desert to be doomed.           LASSETER takes out the bottle of Lourde's water, he puts it on his eyes and sees better.

 

LASSETER (CONT'D)
It might be for sandy blight, but I Gotta drink that Lourdes water.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. THE GOLD REEF -- DAY
LASSETER is dying in the sand and heat from starvation and dehydration.  He thinks he is at the reef but is in fact many miles from it.     In his deranged mind he sees MICKY.

MICKY
In the dreaming now...come with me...no more greed here...come.

As LASSETER dies his last vision is of the time when he was a schoolboy sulking next to the school bell and OLIVE MAY comes over to him.

 

EXT. DESERT -- AFTERNOON

CUT TO

An old camel trader has captured the two camels.   It is DOST.
DOST
Where you from?
DOST notices some an old notebook and newspaper article tied to the camels saddle belt.       He reads it and tears stream down his face.

DOST (CONT'D)
Shortnin' I must find you.
CGI: Of accelerated days as DOST tries to find LASSETER.
DOST rides over a sand dune and sees birds and animals fighting on the ground.             As he comes closer they scatter and he sees bones, tattered clothes and an unrecognizable body. He knows however who it is.

DOST (CONT'D)
(tearfully)
Why didn't you listen to Dost? Marry beautiful young lady and just stay happy with a little of gold.

DOST makes a grave in the sand and buries what is left of Lasseter.  He bows.

 

DOST (CONT'D)
Goodbye friend to we meet again in Paradise. Manana. Khudây pë âmân!

He mounts a camel and leaves a defeated man.
DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. THE GOLD REEF -- MORNING
The reef just glimmers with Gold as ANTOINE speaks.
ANTOINE V/O
Despite months of searching they never found Shortnin'.            The Central Australian Gold Exploration Company formally closed the books in late 1932 with just under twenty pounds in the bank and no dividend to the Country or shareholders. The         boys all had their own lies and truths to tell.       The only one who became famous was John's.

 

EXT. HITLER RALLY 1938 -- EVENING

CUT TO

The Fuhrer is raving and ranting. JOHNS is behind the stage with German Shepherds looking like Dingoes.

ANTOINE V/O
Turns out he was a Nazi spy sent to find a cross breed of superdog.       I spent years as the top chef in France and

CUT TO: FULL SHOT: ANTOINE FRENCH RIVERA -- MORNING
ANTOINE is lying in the sand with girls, wine, cuisine and books.

ANTOINE V/O
Lived the life of the just as they say.

DISSOLVE BACK TO:

 

EXT. THE GOLD REEF -- MORNING
ANTOINE V/O
The Churinga, stone knife and the kulpidji all ended up at the museum and later on were returned to their rightful owners.                 Except for one dear person -

 

EXT OLIVE MAY'S HOUSE GOULBURN -- DAY

CUT TO

She is walking towards the post box and collapses and dies.
ANTOINE V/O
Olive May moved to Goulburn lived to be eighty nine years old and lived a rare life of love, kindness and honesty. She never married again after Thomas died but had plenty of suitors.

 

EXT. OLIVE MAY HOUSE GOULBURN -- EVENING

CUT TO

Men are lined up with flowers and chocolates. OLIVE MAY just smiles and close the door.

ANTOINE V/O
The small supply of Gold soon ran out. It was me not Shortnin' who sent it to her.

 

EXT OLIVE MAYS FUNERAL -- AFTERNOON
ANTOINE V/O
And, she was buried with her Thomas and young Roy. She always believed in Shortnin' and to this day somewhere in Goulburn there is that bookcase worth hundred of thousands of dollars.

CUT TO:

 

 

 

 

ANGLE ON

 

 

FULL SHOT - THE OLD ELABORATE BOOKCASE. -- MOMENTS LATER
The camera zeroes in to the books in the case and one in particular - "Shortnin' by Anonymous.

ANTOINE V/O
If that damn Shortnin' was more honest he and Olive May could have led an easy life.                  Whilst ordinary it'd saved a lot of trouble for folks.

 

EXT NORTHERN TERRITORY -- DAY

CUT TO:

Men are leading further expeditions to find the reef.
ANTOINE V/O
And, plenty of other greedy fools tried and failed to fins Shortnin's reef. I know it exists because I saw it and I am a Frenchman who never lies.

 

EXT. NORTHERN TERRITORY -- DAY

CUT TO:

Lasseter makeshift grave where sand is gently blowing.
ANTOINE V/O
And of Shortnin'? All sorts of things were said.  But as you know dead is dead and you are not coming back.  A lot of fools told me that they saw.

A montage of LASSETER sightings. As a Mormon preacher in Utah.
Working with Henry Ford. Flying with Howard Hughes.
As President of the United States.
As a Las Vegas tycoon counting gold bars.

As an old man dining in Paris at Antoines restaurant where he stamps his feet in front of a couple of diners.       LASSETER walks up to him.

LASSETER
I tell you, you should retire to Australia the sun and sea will do wonders for your Arthritis.

 

EXT. NORTHERN TERRITORY -- DAY

CUT TO:

Lasseter's makeshift grave where sand is gently blowing.
ANTOINE V/O
All I saw was a man who had a go in life and did not die in bed alone and bitter with regret from not trying.        Maybe Micky was right the reef belongs to the earth and never should have been found.        And ,so I come to the end of my little tale. Oh, one more thing.        Shortnin' was right about Aeroplanes changing the world. So Nellie Melba and Olive May.

 

INT. LA SCALA OPERA HOUSE ITALY -- NIGHT

CUT TO

Nellie Melba does a somersault during "La Bohome"
CUT TO

EXT. ARALUEN MAIN ROAD -- NIGHT

OLIVE MAY rides a horse a la Lady Godiva.
ANTOINE V/O
Thankfully it was four in the morning and no one saw her but she would have been stunning.

 

 

 

DISSOLVE TO:

POINT MATCH: WE ARE BACK WHERE THE STORY BEGAN. INT. HAMPTON HOTEL,CBD SYDNEY -- NIGHT
ANTOINE puts down his glass of DOM and looks at his ring with the tears and himself becomes teary.

 

ANTOINE
They are Olive May's tears. Tears of a woman who just wanted to live with love.           Not a hard request really.

The SUITS walk towards their cars, yelling "Lasseter's" They are quite drunk.

EXT. HAMPTON HOTEL,CBD SYDNEY -- NIGHT
As the sports cars roar off, ANTOINE tries to start his Villiers Motorcycle it won't start.         A random breath test catches the SUITS.         ANTOINE stamps his foot and it mysteriously starts up.

He rides off towards the Harbor Bridge.  As he rides over it the sky suddenly glows golden and ANTOINE is illuminated.

ANTOINE V/O
I prefer the old ways. Single carburetor...a slow fable...I hope you enjoyed my little tale about Shortnin' By the way Today I turn
125 years of age and feel it's time to join my friends.

APPEARING IN THE GOLDEN SKY ARE THE MAJOR CHARACTERS OF THE TALE.

ANTOINE V/O
As I said in the beginning, however amusing it is to speak ill of one's enemies, it is even more delectable to speak ill of one's friends.     I may have added a few long ones here and there but for what really happened that's for another time and day.

ANTOINE suddenly dissolves and the sky becomes more golden.
DISSOLVE TO: THE FOLLOWING EPITAPH APPEARS ON THE SCREEN.
"It is not the critic who counts,or how the strongman stumbled and fell, or where the doer of deeds could have done better...The credit belongs to the man who is actually on the arena.. Who knows the great enthusiasms...so that he may never be one of those timid souls, who know neither victory nor defeat."

 

Theodore Roosevelt, US PRESIDENT. CREDITS

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