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.
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
FOUR COWBOY PUNKS,
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
CATES Quietly sips his beer. The other occupants of the bar
watch Hammond herd the four Punks to the end wall.
A BIG COWBOY
when Hammond isn't looking, he dashes toward the exit,
Cates puts out a leg. Sends the Cowboy crashing into a
Turns around at the noise.
That wasn't necessary, buddy. I
got this under control.
Some of us citizens are with you
all the way, Officer.
The Redneck Punks are now spread-eagled against the
wall. Hammond searches the first. He drops a wallet on
the floor and moves to the second. A switchblade, some
credit cards and another wallet fall to the floor. The
last Punk has only a roll of bills. Hammond holds the
money up to his face.
You're in trouble, big trouble, so
you better start talking. Where'd
a boy like you make a score like
It's mine, what the hell...
You must a rolled somebody. They
don't let punks like you take jobs
that pay this much ... you sure
you don't know a dangerous Indian,
because unless you start talkin'
I may just have to start looking
down your pants with a
What kind of cop are you, anyway?
I am your most terrible nightmare
... a bad nigger with a badge that
entitles him to kick your ass...
Hammond turns to the Bartender...
One of them is under-age. Another
attacked a police officer. And you
know I ain't found what I came
lookin' here for yet...
Walks back to the Bartender.
The tall one had a weapon ... you
want me to keep on makin' a list,
or you got the picture yet?
He reaches for a towel under a pyramid of bar glasses.
Jerks the towel, the pyramid capsizes onto the floor.
Huge crash as the glasses break into a million
Looks like you're on your way to
bein' outta business, redneck...
Now, let's see what can we fuck
The Bartender doesn't have the look of a happy man.
Okay, okay. The Indian hangs out
with a girl down the block. Right
where Chinatown starts. She lives
on top of the hardware store.
Hammond turns, grins at Cates. As far as he's
concerned, he's won the bet. Cates nods, slips out
I don't give a damn about his
Look, give me a break, you're
going to have to settle for her
place. It's the only thing I know.
He looks desperate.
I'm tellin' ya, I'm giving you all
Try obeyin' the law once in
awhile, and I won't have to hassle
Turns to go, then turns back.
But remember this, cowboy, there's
a new sheriff in town.
Smiles, turns and goes.
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.