Daily Dialogue theme for next week: Negotiations

December 16th, 2012 by

After a week of dialogue tied to delivering bad news, next week’s theme is negotiations, suggested by JasperLamarCrab:

This has a lot of angles: business, relationship, military, politics. Can we come up with 7 great examples of negotiation dialogue?

The usual drill:

* Copy/paste dialogue from IMDB Quotes or some other transcript source.

* Copy/paste the URL of an accompanying video from MovieClips or YouTube.

I’d also ask you to think about why the dialogue is notable. Is there anything about the dialogue which provides some takeaway re screenwriting?

Here is the lineup for upcoming Daily Dialogue themes:

December 24-December 30: Gift-giving [I’ll give this to plinytheelder who said we needed something for the holiday season]

December 31-January 6: Bar fights [Dean Scott]

January 7-January 13: Gangster deaths [Phil Hopersberger]

January 14-January 20: Overreacting [@davidproenza]

January 21-January 27: Answering children’s questions [BillieJeanVK]

January 28-February 3: Agents [Teddy Pasternak]

February 4-February 10: Falsely accused [churnage]

February 11-February 17: Wedding toasts [Shaula Evans]

February 18-February 24: Last laugh [Vic Tional]

February 25-March 3: Boy meets girl [TaraPhelps]

March 4-March 10: Breakups [Liri Nàvon]

March 11-March 17: Innuendo [Hawkewood]

Some of these are going to be challenges, I think, finding 7 solid examples, but as the GITS community has proven time and again, you are up for challenges. All in all, a fascinating cross-section of themes which should set us up for some great Daily Dialogue posts and some interesting conversation about writing dialogue.

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions!

This week our focus is on negotiations.

See you in comments for your suggestions!

5 thoughts on “Daily Dialogue theme for next week: Negotiations

  1. blknwite says:

    Erin Brokovitch

    Ed and Erin come out and see DAVID BAUM waiting at reception.
    Forget law school, this kid looks like he’s just out of
    twelfth grade. Not a hair on his chin. His suit and shoes
    look brand new.

    Ed stops suddenly, before being seen. Erin stops too.


    Ed’s expression upon seeing the “young” representative tells
    us he’s none too happy.


    Ed and Erin are seated across the table from Baum. To say
    this kid lacks authority is a gross understatement. He
    doesn’t talk; he squeaks.

    …in the interest of putting this whole
    thing to rest, PG&E is willing to offer
    the Irvings 250,000 dollars for their

    Ed laughs a little in disbelief.


    In terms of land value out in Hinkley,
    Mr. Masry, we feel it’s more than fair

    What about in terms of medical expenses?
    250,000 doesn’t come close to what this
    family’s gonna have to spend on doctors.

    I understand they’ve had a bad run of
    luck, health-wise, and they have my
    sympathies. But that’s not PG&E’s fault.

    You’re kidding, right?

    Baum doesn’t answer.

    ED (CONT’D)
    Look at these readings for Christ’s sake.
    PG&E’s own technicians documented toxic
    levels of hexavalent chromium in those
    test wells on numerous occasions.

    Ed shoves them across the table. Baum doesn’t look at them.

    ED (CONT’D)
    Everything the Irvings have had is proven
    reaction to exposure to hexavalent
    chromium. They’ve had…

    He stalls a moment. Erin jumps in.

    — breast cysts, uterine cancer,
    Hodgkin’s disease, immune deficiencies,
    asthma, chronic nosebleeds.

    Despite their persuasiveness, Baum parrots what is obviously
    the party line:

    A million things could have caused those
    problems. Poor diet, bad genes,
    irresponsible lifestyle. Our offer is
    final and more than fair.

    Wait a minute — I thought we were
    negotiating here.

    250,000 is all I’m authorized to offer.

    Ed looks across at this pissant little kid. Then stands.

    I will present your offer to my clients.
    I doubt they’ll accept it.

    As Ed starts out, Baum tries to take a stand;

    Mr. Masry, before you go off on some
    crusade, you might want to remember who
    it is you’re dealing with here. PG&E is
    a twenty-eight-billion-dollar

    (smiles, acting
    Twenty-eight billion dollars! I didn’t
    know it was THAT much! WOW!

    Baum suddenly realizes he’s made a mistake admitting the
    company’s wealth. Ed leaves the conference room. Erin
    follows him out.

    Is notable due to Masry’s sense of irony and the beginings of his willingness to really engage in this battle.

    then later this:

    Sanchez, Webster, Buda, and Cooper are seated.

    The door opens and Ed enters, legal pad under his arm.
    Followed by Erin, legal pad under her arm. Followed by Anna
    (looking professional in Brenda’s suit coat), legal pad under
    her arm. Followed by Donald (in a suit produced from who
    knows where), legal pad under his arm. If you didn’t know
    better, you’d assume it was a team of lawyers as well.

    Counselors —


    Ed and Erin sit down and get to work. Mario and Anna,
    clearly told to just follow along, sit down a moment later.


    Mario and Anna are sitting mutely in their seats beside Ed
    and Erin, firing blank looks across the table.

    …Let’s be honest here. Twenty million
    dollars is more money than these people
    have ever dreamed of.

    Erin has no patience for this today.

    Oh, see, now that pisses me off. First
    of all — since the demur, we now have
    more than four hundred plaintiffs…and
    (mocking her)
    “let’s be honest”, we all know there’s
    more out there. Now, they may not be the
    most sophisticated people, but they do
    know how to divide, and twenty million
    dollars isn’t shit when it’s split
    between them.

    Donald and Anna exchange a look. This is getting

    Erin —

    But there’s no stopping her.

    And second of all — these people don’t
    dream about being rich. They dream about
    being able to watch their kids swim in a
    pool without worrying they’ll have to
    have a hysterectomy at age 20, like Rosa
    Diaz — a client of ours — or have their
    spine deteriorate like Stan Bloom.
    Another client of ours.

    Ed sits now with a light smile, content to let Erin

    So before you come back here with another
    lame-ass offer, I want you to think real
    hard about what your spine is worth, Mr.
    Buda — or what you’d expect someone to
    pay you for your uterus, Miss Sanchez —
    then you take out your calculator and
    multiply that number by a hundred.
    Anything less than that is a waste of our

    Sanchez, throughout her speech, has been reacting in a
    patronizing manner – as if Erin’s words were of no import. By
    the end of Erin’s speech, Sanchez has picked up a glass of
    water in front of her and is about to drink, when Erin says:

    I think this meeting is over.

    Damn right it is.

    Erin gets up and storms out first. We see on Anna’s face, the
    first signs of respect for Erin.

    The script on IMSDB is slightly different but neither one I found had that line where Erin says “We had that water brought from Hinkley”. Which really made that scene for me. Must have been a later revision, much later. Anyone know?

  2. The Untouchables (1987)

    Ness: I want you to translate this ledger for us.

    Capone’s Man: In hell.

    Malone: In hell? You’re mucking with the G here, pal. You’re gonna hang high unless you cooperate.

    Wallace: This man could finger Al Capone. This man could put Capone behind bars.

    Capone’s Man: Why don’t you guys just fuck off.

    [Malone puches him in the face.]

    Malone: We have to have that information one way or another.

    Ness: Not that way.

    Malone: You’re gonna talk. You’re gonna be begging to talk. Or somebody’s gonna talk.

    Capone’s Man: Son of a bitch.

    Ness: Enough out of you.

    [Malone goes outside and props up a dead gangster.]

    Malone: Hey you, on your feet. We need you to translate this book, and you are going to do it for us. I won’t ask you again. What’s the matter? Can’t talk with a gun in your mouth? One… two… three…

    [Malone shoots the dead gangster through the head.]

    Capone’s Man: Don’t — I’ll tell you whatever you want to know.

    [Malone walks back inside.]

    Malone: And don’t let him clean himself until after he talks. Now, ask him what you want to know.

    Wallace: Okay, I want to know the name of the bookkeeper. I want a complete translation of the code.

    Mountie Captain: Mr. Ness! I do not approve of your methods.

    Ness: Yeah…well you’re not from Chicago.




    Takeaway: Malone continually asks Ness what he is prepared to do to get Capone. This scene demonstrates “the Chicago way”. Ness is at first reluctant, but affirms his dedication to the job by delivering that iconic last line.

  3. Win Vahlkamp says:

    “True Grit” has multiple excellent examples, including the mother of all negotiations between Mattie and Mr. Stonehill. She wipes the floor with him.

    Notable to me are several things.

    First she has a plan when she walks in that door. It’s a multi-layered, complex plan too. She opens by talking about their sale of their cotton which gets him on the hook. Then she proposes a big, hair, audacious plan (BHAP) which he initially refuses with prejudice, but he couldn’t resist the offer on the table and the urge to put her in her place. He thwarts her a little bit with threats, but she has a mastery of math beyond him and outmaneuvers him every time. She also has a ballsy approach to invoke her lawyer. She bluffs him!

    Mattie also uses the BATNA – Best Alternative to No Agreement – and is willing to walk away, which forces him into the corner she wanted. He took the bait, underestimated her (as everyone did in that story), and she trounced him so soundly that the next time she came in he was literally afraid.

    Her ability to use consistent underestimation by everyone, plus adept, complicated thinking combined with sheer guts and determination cause her to be successful at almost always getting her way. She had True Grit and met the only other person in the world with an equal amount of True Grit in Cogburn. From him she learns honor and physical toughness and her eyes are opened to the true nature of the world. She only thought she knew how the world works. He, in turn, is redeemed through her devotion to him and her father.

    What a great movie!

    I can’t find a clip, unfortunately.

    Mattie strides along, looking at facades. She stops, looking at the signage on a barnlike

    Col. G. Stonehill. Licensed Auctioneer. Cotton Factor.

    Mattie steps to the doorway of an office set in a corner of the stable.

    How much are you paying for cotton?

    Stonehill looks up from his desk. He eyes the girl up and down.

    Nine and a half for low middling and ten for ordinary.

    We got most of ours out early and sold it to Woodson
    Brothers in Little Rock for eleven cents.

    Then I suggest you take the balance of it to the Woodson

    We took the balance to Woodson. We got ten and a half.

    Why did you come here to tell me this?

    I thought we might shop around up here next year but I guess we are doing all right in Little Rock. I am Mattie Ross, daughter of Frank Ross.

    Stonehill sets his pen down and leans back.

    A tragic thing. May I say your father impressed me with his
    manly qualities. He was a close trader but he acted the gentleman.

    I propose to sell those ponies back to you that my father

    That, I fear, is out of the question. I will see that they are
    shipped to you at my earliest convenience.

    We don’t want the ponies now. We don’t need them.

    Well that hardly concerns me. Your father bought those five
    ponies and paid for them and there is an end of it. I have the bill of sale.

    And I want three hundred dollars for Papa’s saddle horse that was stolen from your stable.

    You will have to take that up with the man who stole the

    Tom Chaney stole the horse while it was in your care. You
    are responsible. Stonehill chuckles.

    I admire your sand but I believe you will find that I am not
    liable for such claims.

    You were custodian. If you were a bank and were robbed
    you could not simply tell the depositors to go hang.

    I do not entertain hypotheticals, the world as it is is vexing
    enough. Secondly, your valuation of the horse is high by about two hundred dollars. How old are you?

    If anything my price is low. Judy is a fine racing mare. She
    has won purses of twenty-five dollars; I have seen her jump an eight-rail fence with a heavy rider. I am fourteen.

    Hmm. Well, that’s all very interesting. The ponies are
    yours, take them. Your father’s horse was stolen by a murderous criminal. I had provided reasonable protection for the creature as per our implicit agreement. My watchman had his teeth knocked out and can take only soup. We must each bear his own misfortunes.
    I will take it to law.

    You have no case.

    Lawyer J. Noble Daggett of Dardanelle, Arkansas may think otherwise—as might a jury, petitioned by a widow and three small children.

    Stonehill Where is your mother?

    She is at home in Yell County looking after my sister
    Victoria and my brother Little Frank.

    I cannot make an agreement with a minor child. You are not

    Lawyer Dagget will back up any decision I make, you may rest easy on that score. You can confirm any agreement by
    telegraph. Stonehill stares.

    I will pay two hundred dollars to your father’s estate when I
    have in my hand a letter from your lawyer absolving me of
    all liability from the beginning of the world to date. The offer is more than liberal and I make it only to avoid the possibility of troublesome litigation.

    I will take two hundred dollars for Judy, plus one hundred
    for the ponies and twenty-five dollars for the gray horse that Tom Chaney left. He is easily worth forty. That is three hundred twenty-five dollars total.

    The ponies have no part of this. I will not buy them.

    Then the price for Judy is three hundred twenty-five dollars.

    I would not pay three hundred and twenty-five dollars for
    winged Pegasus! As for the gray horse, it does not belong to you! And you are a snip!

    The gray was lent to Tom Chaney by my father. Chaney
    only had the use of him. Your other points are beneath comment.

    I will pay two hundred and twenty-five dollars and keep the
    gray horse. I don’t want the ponies.

    I cannot accept that. (she stands) There can be no
    settlement after I leave this office. It will go to law.

    This is my last offer. Two hundred and fifty dollars. For
    that I get the release previously discussed and I keep your father’s saddle. I am also writing off a feed and stabling charge. The gray horse is not yours to sell. You are an unnatural child.

    The saddle is not for sale. I will keep it. Lawyer Dagget can
    prove ownership of the gray horse. He will come after you with a writ of replevin.

    A what? All right, now listen very carefully as I will not
    bargain further. I will take the ponies back and keep the gray horse which is mine and settle for three hundred dollars. Now you must take that or leave it and I do not much care which it is.

    Lawyer Daggett would not wish me to consider anything
    under three hundred twenty-five dollars. But I will settle for three hundred and twenty if I am given the twenty in advance. And here is what I have to say about the saddle—

  4. Def Earz says:

    BAD SANTA (2003)
    Director: Terry Zwigoff
    Writers: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa uncredited Joel and Ethan Coen, Terry Zwigoff

    Gin: Well, let’s face the facts. Y’all are a couple of half-bucket small-timers. You, because of your physical attributes, found a niche, and I respect that. But you also been caught… by me. So this is how it’s gonna be. I don’t want to take over. I don’t even want to change your scam. Whatever you guys do, it works. All I want is a taste. When the deed is done, we part ways. I’ll buy a little ranch in Havasu, and you all take your little medicine show back on the road.
    Marcus: How much?
    Gin: Half.
    Willie: No fucking way…
    Marcus: Just back off, Will, I got this. I got this! Okay, 30%. That’s three of us. 30%, that’s fair.
    Gin: Half.
    Marcus: I meant 33%.
    Gin: I meant half.
    Marcus: And 1/3.
    Gin: Half.
    Marcus: 35%.
    Gin: Half.
    Marcus: 40%.
    Gin: Half.
    Marcus: 42%?
    Gin: Half.
    Marcus: Um… 45%.
    Gin: [Thinks for a minute] Half.
    Marcus: 48%?
    Gin: [In British accent] Half.
    Marcus: 49%?
    Gin: Half.
    Willie: Well, what’s one point.
    Gin: We split the dough right down the middle. Any merchandise you take, I get to look at and cherry pick.
    Marcus: No. Money is one thing but you ain’t getting the sh…
    Gin: This ain’t no Chinese menu, jagoff! I tell YOU how it’s gonna be. This is pricks fix!
    Willie: Pricks fix?
    Marcus: Ah, he’s a fucking moron.
    Willie: Oh really? Is that how you got the upper hand?

    Dialogue takeaway: In a way, this isn’t even really a negotiation as Gin has the upper hand from the start, he’s basically just torturing Marcus here. For writers, it’s a study in how much comic mileage you can get out of repetition and one word – “half.”


  5. Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Screenplay by Frank Pierson.



    Sonny back in the shadows with Sylvia, looking at Moretti, appalled.


    Behind him a mob scene. Howard is being led away, weeping. Photographers, cops, a phalanx of cops have their weapons levelled on Sonny like a firing squad. It is right on the edge of violence… of blowing up. Sonny and Sylvia are in the shelter of the doorway, Moretti stands on the sidewalk, looking toward Sonny inside the bank.

    MORETTI: Sonny – come out here a minute.

    At this point, he removes his jacket and drops it to the ground, showing Sonny that he is unarmed.

    SONNY: You got these cops outta here. They’re comin’ in too close.

    MORETTI: Come on. I want you to see something.

    SONNY: You want me to give up, huh? Look, Sal’s in back with the girls. Anything happens to me – one move – and Sal gives it to them. Boom boom. How do I know you won’t jump me?

    MORETTI: I don’t forget about Sal and the boom boom room. I want you to see this.

    Sonny turns back to tell Sal he’s going outside. Moretti stands well out in the street, to reassure Sonny nobody is going to try to jump him. Sonny stares around; he nudges Sylvia out ahead of him. As they edge into sight of the Media across the street:

    NEWSMEN AND PHOTOGRAPHERS: Out in the light. Hey, Lady! You’re on TV, Lady! Smile, any… god damn thing…


    straining against police lines: this is where we begin to sense the size of the event. People are eating popsicles and ice cream. They are diverted and excited. Sonny and Sylvia begin to emerge: CATCALLS and HOOTS of greeting…


    as he looks around, and the impact of his situation really hits him: he’s not only totally surrounded, he’s an event. Some of the crowd CHEER him. An army of Cops, and guns all levelled on Sonny.

    MORETTI: Let Sal come out, take a look. What hope you got? Quit while you’re ahead. All you got is attempted robbery.

    SONNY: …armed robbery…

    MORETTI: Well, armed, then. Nobody’s been hurt. Release the hostages, nobody is gonna worry over kidnapping charges, the worst you’re gonna get is five years — you can be out in a year.

    Sonny stares at him, his face utterly blank.

    SONNY: Kiss me.

    Moretti stops, stares back.

    MORETTI: What?

    SONNY (deadpan): When I’m bein’ fucked, I like to be kissed a lot. (bursting out) Who the fuck are you tryin’ to con me into some deal? You’re a city cop, where’s the FBI? This is a federal offense, I got kidnapping, armed robbery, they’re gonna bury me! You know it, you can’t talk for them, you’re some flunky pig tryin’ to bullshit me. Now God damn it, get somebody in charge here to talk to me!

    MORETTI: Calm down, you’re not…

    SONNY: Calm down… look at this, look at him…!

    Gestures at the cops, the wall of rifles and machine guns levelled on him. It is incredible and terrifying…

    SONNY (continuing): They wanna kill me so bad they can taste it!

    He takes a defiant step into the street. The crowd SCREAMS as they get their first view, which is of Sonny telling the Cops off. They don’t need to hear the words, they can see it.

    SONNY (screaming): Attica! Attica! Go ahead! Blow off the front of the whole God damn bank!

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