Daily Dialogue — March 24, 2013

March 24th, 2013 by

RUSSO: Will you stop it!
POPEYE: I’ll bust you!
RUSSO: Come on!
POPEYE: Will you let me at him! I want to bust him! I want to bust him!
RUSSO: Let me talk to him.
POPEYE: You got a friend here, buddy. You got a friend!
RUSSO: You gonna tell us who your man is?
POPEYE: When’s the last time you picked your feet, Willie? Who’s your connection, Willie, what’s his name?
WILLIE: What?
RUSSO: Answer us!
WILLIE: No! No, man, no!
POPEYE: Is it Joe the barber? Joe the barber, right, that’s who it is, isn’t it? Now don’t give us any shit! What’s Joe’s last name?
WILLIE: I don’t know, man.
RUSSO: Give him a chance, just give him a chance.
WILLIE: All I know is he lives on 125th St. man, above the barber shop.
RUSSO: What side of the street does he live on, north or south, north or south?
WILLIE: I don’t know what you’re talking about man, I don’t know from north or south.
RUSSO: I’m asking you what side of the street he lives on!
POPEYE: Hey, shithead. When’s the last time you picked your feet, huh?
WILLIE: What’s he talking about?
POPEYE: I got a man in Poughkeepsie wants to talk to you. You ever been to Poughkeepsie, huh? You ever been to Poughkeepsie?
WILLIE: Hey c’mon man give me a break, I don’t know what you’re talking about.
POPEYE: C’mon say it, let me hear you say it, c’mon. Have you ever been to Poughkeepsie? You been to Poughkeepsie, haven’t you? I want to hear it, c’mon!
WILLIE: Yes, I’ve been -
POPEYE: You’ve been there right? You sat on the edge of the bed, didn’t you? You took off your shoes, put your fingers between your toes and picked your feet, didn’t you? Now say it.
WILLIE: Yes!
POPEYE: All right. You put a shiv in my partner, you know what that means? Goddamnit! All winter long I got to listen to him gripe about his bowling score. Now I’m gonna bust your ass for those three bags, and I’m going to nail you for picking your feet in Poughkeepsie!

The French Connection (1971), screenplay by Ernest Tidyman, novel by Robin Moore

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week is arrest, suggested by Teddy Pasternak. Today’s suggestion by JasperLamarCrab.

Trivia: An article quoted some of the performers as admitting that they pretty much ignored the dialog in the script and used terms and phrases the police advisers gave to them during rehearsals. Ironically, the screenplay won an Oscar. (Note: Owen Roizman, the film’s cinematographer, maintains that the dialog in the finished film is almost exactly the same as that in the screenplay he read during production).

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by JasperLamarCrab: “This is a study in mixing comedy with brutality made when Tarantino was still in shorts, albeit with a realistic tone and documentary feel. Popeye and Russo completely unbalance the suspect – and the audience – by swapping roles as bad cop and worse cop with the finesse and timing of a veteran comedy team. The real lesson is to get dialogue from real life (the “picking your feet” routine was actually used by Eddie Egan, the model for Doyle) and let brilliant actors go to town.”

One thought on “Daily Dialogue — March 24, 2013

  1. FWIW, here’s the scene from the revised script I found online, dated April 26 1971 and credited to Tidyman and Friedkin… I haven’t had time to read the whole thing, but I’d bet both the actors and Roizman are right…. some scenes may have been more improvised than others.

    In Eric Sherman’s DIRECTING THE FILM, Friedkin says it was the first day of shooting, and after 30 takes, the scene was still laying an egg. In the course of the sleepless night that followed, Friedkin had the inspiration to stage the scene outside the confines of the car and to let the actors improvise. The next day, two cameras, one take, and the scene was in the bag.

    INT. DOYLE’S CAR – DAY

    3-shot of BLACK PUSHER sitting between DOYLE and RUSSO.
    DOYLE is at the wheel. BLACK PUSHER is sitting on his
    hands, wrists manacled behind him, his head down and dripping
    blood onto the jacket and the canary-yellow turtleneck. All
    three are breathing hard.

    DOYLE
    What’s your name, asshole?

    BLACK PUSHER
    Fuck you, Santa Claus!

    DOYLE hits him across the face.

    4.

    RUSSO
    Your name is Willie Craven.

    BLACK PUSHER doesn’t look up.

    DOYLE
    Who’s your connection, Willie?
    What’s his name?

    No response.

    RUSSO
    Who killed the old Jew in the
    laundromat?

    BLACK PUSHER’s brow furrows, looks up just a little.

    BLACK PUSHER
    I don’t…

    DOYLE
    Ever pick your feet in Poughkeepsie?

    BLACK PUSHER
    What?

    DOYLE
    Did you ever pick your feet in
    Poughkeepsie?

    BLACK PUSHER
    I don’t know what you’re talkin’
    about.

    DOYLE
    Were you ever in Poughkeepsie?

    BLACK PUSHER
    No… yeah…

    DOYLE
    Did you ever sit on the edge of the
    bed, take off your socks and stick
    your fingers between your toes?

    BLACK PUSHER
    Man, I’m clean.

    DOYLE
    You made three sales to your
    roaches back there. We had to
    chase you through all this shit and
    you tell me you’re clean?

    5.

    RUSSO
    Who stuck up the laundromat?

    DOYLE
    How about that time you were
    picking your feet in Poughkeepsie?

    The BLACK PUSHER’S eyes go to RUSSO in panic, looking for
    relief from the pressure of the inquisition.

    RUSSO
    (in pain)
    You better give me the guy who got
    the old Jew or you better give me
    something or you’re just a memory
    in this town.

    BLACK PUSHER
    That’s a lot o’ shit. I didn’t do
    nothin’.

    The BLACK PUSHER’s eyes are on DOYLE, frozen in confusion
    and fear.

    DOYLE
    You put a shiv in my partner. Know
    what that means? All winter I
    gotta listen to him gripe about his
    bowling scores. Now I’m gonna bust
    your ass for those three bags -
    then I’m gonna nail you for pickin’
    your feet in Poughkeepsie.

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