Script to Screen: “48 Hrs.”

The Black Russian scene, a break-out moment for Eddie Murphy.

Die Hard is perhaps the most paradigmatic example of an action movie, but for awhile when buddy movies were all the rage, everybody in Hollywood was looking to do a ‘similar but different’ version of this 1982 movie: 48 Hrs., written by Roger Spottiswoode by and Walter Hill & Larry Gross and Steven E. de Souza.

Setup: Reggie Hammond [Eddie Murphy] is a convict pulled out of prison for 48 hours by cop Jack Cates [Nick Nolte] to locate some bad guys and a missing briefcase full of cash. In this scene, Hammond and Cates enter a hillbilly bar with Hammond impersonating a cop.

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Takes a deep breath, moves toward the bar. Smiles at
the good ol' boys. They don't smile back. He sits down
at the bar.



Maybe you better have a Black

No, man, I think I'll have a vodka.

Hamnond looks around the room.


places a glass in front of him, picks up the dollar as
Harmond flashes Cates' shield.

You know a big Indian named Billy
Bear? He used to work here.

The Bartender shakes his head, gives him a scowl.

Never heard of him.

Hammond lifts the shot glass and throws it through the
mirror behind the bar. Sudden silence throughout the

Now how's your memory doin'?

Fuck off. I don't know what the
hell you're talkin' about.

Maybe I better ask around, see
what your pals think.

I don't give a shit who you ask.

The Bartender walks down toward Cates.


Moves away from the bar. He stops at a booth occupied


one a very big man. Hammond grabs him by the arm and
pulls him up.

Up against the wall, cowboy.

The Punk breaks free, aims a massive haymaker at
Hammond. Gets a right to the stomach for his trouble.

Now, I said get over there by that
wall ... You hear me,

Looks at the others.

Move it, rednecks. On your feet...

He grabs the next by the arm, yanks him up.

Over there...move your ass. Some
of you rednecks seem a little hard
of hearing, so I'll repeat it for
everybody... I need word on the
whereabouts of an Indian that goes
by the name of Billy Bear. It's a
police matter and you all look
like you'd just love to


Here is the movie version of the scene:

Trivia: The bar scene in K-9 was an homage to this scene.

Some nice improvisation by Eddie Murphy. What other differences do you notice between script and screen?

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script To Screen, a weekly series on Go Into The Story where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

For more Script To Screen articles, go here.

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