brill film 455 outline

Written by
Rebecca Brill
CHARLIE BACHMANN sits at his desk, typing diligently on a typewriter and trying to
concentrate. ISAIAH POPE is a few feet away from him, lying on the couch. Isaiah is
frustrated and says he feels like all Charlie does is work these days. Charlie says he’s
sorry he’s so busy, but he really needs to find a summer job. Isaiah says Charlie needs to
stop being so uptight. He’s always moving on to the next thing and never even celebrated
his acceptance into law school. He needs to let himself loosen up for once. Charlie gets
defensive and says now that they’re out of college it’s not all about having fun. He
suggests that it would behoove Isaiah to look for a job himself. Isaiah takes offense and
says Charlie knows how difficult it is for him to find work. Charlie says he knows and
he’s just a bit stressed out. He reassures Isaiah that they will find him a job soon. Isaiah is
understanding and brushes off Charlie’s insensitive comment. Then, he gets flirtatious
with Charlie and says he can make it up to him by going out. Charlie gives in after some
reluctance, kisses Isaiah, and steps away from his typewriter. He reaches for his wallet,
throws on a jacket, and they head out the door. Isaiah expresses enthusiasm that they are
having a wild night for once. They are going to the Stonewall Inn, “the gay bar in the
GREGORY JONES, a bouncer, stands at the door and inspects Charlie and Isaiah from a
peephole. He opens the door to let them in and greets Isaiah warmly. It is clear that they
have known each other for a while. Isaiah introduces Gregory to Charlie and jokes that
Gregory will be seeing more of Charlie around here. Charlie laughs nervously and is
visibly uncomfortable. They pay for their tickets. As Isaiah prepares to head in with
Charlie trailing behind him, Gregory places a hand on his shoulder and warns him he has
heard rumors that Betty Badge may be on the scene tonight. As they walk, Charlie asks
Isaiah who Betty Badge is, but Isaiah assures him it is nothing to worry about and
everything will be fine. They walk down a long hallway toward a very dark dance floor.
We can barely see anything in far-away shots, but once we get closer to the action, we
see two FLAMOYANTLY DRESSED MEN say hello to Isaiah. Isaiah greets them back
and it is clear that he knows them from before. Then, he introduces them to Charlie, who
is stiff and uncomfortable. After the men walk away, Charlie tells Isaiah that he thinks he
should probably leave but encourages Isaiah to stay and have a fun night. Isaiah insists
that Charlie get a drink with him. They head toward the bar. The BARTENDER greets
Isaiah and takes a bottle of liquor from a cabinet under the bar. Isaiah asks why he is
being more secretive than usual about alcohol, and the bartender echoes Gregory’s
statement about the prospect of a run-in with Betty Badge. Isaiah brushes it off, saying
it’s nothing the people at Stonewall have not been able to handle before. The bartender is
skeptical and expresses that things have been rather tense between Betty Badge and the
gay community recently. Charlie seems to catch on about the meaning of Betty Badge.
He seems angry, and drags Isaiah outside the loud dance floor room. A TRANSVESTITE
dancing on a table ogles at Charlie as they walk back into the hallway.
Now in the hallway, Charlie tells Isaiah that he doesn’t think the Inn is safe. Isaiah
reassures him that everything is fine and since there are police raids at the Inn nearly
every month, the bar is prepared for these situations. Charlie says he has no interest in
having contact with the police and accuses Isaiah of having poor judgment. Isaiah knows
that Charlie is going to law school in a few months and any run-in with the cops could
jeopardize his future as a lawyer. Isaiah tells Charlie he thinks he’s not afraid of a run-in
with the cops so much as presenting as gay in a public place. He says Charlie has to show
some courage for once and that he doesn’t know how much longer he can be in a
relationship with someone who won’t even hold his hand in public. Charlie gets very
defensive. Isaiah says he is tired of having the same fight over and over again and tells
Charlie to go home if he wants to. Charlie tells Isaiah to have a good night and heads out
the door. Isaiah stands contemplatively for a moment, then heads back toward the dance
floor, where he is seen exchanging greetings with other people and dancing.
PETER VINSON sits at his typewriter, alternating between editing a text and chatting
with the new film editor, JACK SANDERS, about the increasing tension between the
police and the gay community. Sanders makes an off-handed remark about how the gays
should just keep to themselves. Peter gets offended and suggests that Sanders shouldn’t
work at The Village Beat, a liberal paper, if he is going to be bigoted. Sanders suddenly
tenses up, uncomfortable about Peter’s reaction. He begins to apologize, saying he has
absolutely nothing against the gay community. Clearly, he thinks Peter is gay. Peter says
nothing as Sanders continues rambling apologetically, obviously getting a kick out of the
whole thing. Over a cubicle divider, he exchanges a knowing smile with JANE “MOSKO”
MOSKOWITZ, a writer and a friend of Peter’s. Mosko chimes in to explain to Sanders
that Peter is not gay, just a recent Columbia graduate still in his post-adolescent idealistic
phase. This is not to say that Peter has actually done anything to further the gay liberation
movement, or any social justice movement for that matter. Peter defends himself and says,
glaring at the crunchy-looking Mosko, that social justice is about more than just burning
your bra. It’s a highly complex system. Peter intends to study it from all angles before
entering it. Mosko is skeptical and suggests that perhaps Peter, the people pleaser, is just
afraid of causing controversy. People are going to stop caring about civil rights before he
knows it, and if he doesn’t act soon, he’s not going to get the opportunity to make any
real impact. Peter gets defensive and takes particular offense not to Mosko’s dubiousness
of his devotion to civil rights, but to the claim that he is too agreeable. Just then,
outspoken editor-in-chief NORMAN CASTLES walks by and notices that Peter and
Mosko aren’t working. He yells at them to quit goofing off and get to work since they are
now not two, but three stories short for tomorrow. And while they’re at it, Norman asks
as he thrusts a pile of paper at Peter, would someone edit this goddamn incoherent profile
of the girls from that Warhol semi-porno. Peter apologizes profusely for his
inattentiveness and says he’ll edit piece right away. Still annoyed, Norman goes off
huffing about how sanctimonious and trivial the writing have been lately. Mosko shoots
Peter a “told-you-so” look and Peter looks slightly ashamed about his eagerness to please
Norman. He commences with his work.
Isaiah is drinking, dancing, and socializing with a large group of ACQUAINTANCES. In
the distance, we hear two voices announce, “Police! We’re taking the place!” The bar
becomes noisy with panic, and suddenly, bright lights come on and the music stops. Most
people are very confused about what is going on. Isaiah and TWO MEN he was talking
to decide to make a run for the back exit. They run down the hallway and encounter
THREE OTHER PEOPLE at the back exit, but a POLICEMAN has barred the door. The
group of five heads toward the bathroom now in the hopes of escaping out the window.
Once they reach the bathroom, they encounter TWO POLICEMEN. One is handcuffing
the transvestite from earlier and guiding him out of the bathroom, toward the bar. The
second policeman demands that Isaiah and his group get in line with the other men and
show identification. They head back toward the main room, panicked and angered.
It’s been a long night at The Village Beat office and Peter and Mosko are preparing to
head home. As Mosko grabs her bag and heads toward the door, Norman pulls her aside.
He says he’s been told there’s a police raid going on at the Stonewall Inn and asks if she
can throw together some kind of bullshit exposé about the gay scene. Someone else has
failed to produce a lead, and he needs a filler fast. Mosko questions if a police raid at the
Stonewall really counts as news since they happen every month, but Norman is desperate
and impatient. He tells her to get something together and leaves. Peter and Mosko head
toward the door. Mosko complains that she’s exhausted and in no mood to stay up all
night working on this civil rights piece when last month, he wouldn’t let her cover the
New York Radical Feminist protest. She goes off about how Norman’s dismissiveness
toward the cultural relevance of the feminist movement is degrading and offensive. Peter
nods sympathetically, but his mind is clearly elsewhere. He says he is headed in that
direction anyway and says he’ll walk with Mosko toward the Stonewall Inn. Mosko can
read him though. She asks him if he wants to cover the piece, and he agrees. They begin
walking over together.
In the main room, the police are separating women and people dressed as women from
the group. They demand that the men get in line and show identification. At first, people
abide. Many men stand straight in line and hold out their ID cards. Isaiah is visibly
angered and refuses to show ID. He screams and curses at the policemen. Suddenly, other
men start to follow his lead. The neat lines of people soon turn into a screaming mob, and
the policemen are no longer in control. The policemen use physical force to try to get
everyone back in line, but they can no longer control the crowd. A few men begin to
physically assault the police. Isaiah stands on a chair in the corner of the room with a
large group of people surrounding him. He says firmly they will not succumb to the
police tonight and they’ve had enough of these invasive attacks. The people cheer.
Peter and Mosko are surprised to find a crowd of OBSERVERS and a few POLICEMEN
in front of the Stonewall Inn. They look at each other in disbelief. This has clearly not
been the nature of past police raids at the Stonewall Inn. From Peter asks an
ONLOOKER how long this has been going on, and she says only fifteen minutes or so
but that the crowd has been amassing rapidly. Mosko jokes that Peter’s bullshit filler
expose about pissed off drag queens might have a little substance after all. Just then,
another influx of onlookers arrives at the scene. Peter asks Mosko if she wants to change
her mind and write the piece since it looks like it’s going to be pretty major after all.
Mosko is much more experienced than he is, and Peter says he is not prepared to do that
since he doesn’t want his article to read as juvenile or blindly idealistic. Mosko jokes that
it will inevitably come across that way if Peter’s the one writing it. She places a
reporter’s notebook in Peter’s hands, wishes him good luck, and heads off. Peter is taken
aback and with a slight smile on his face, grabs a pen from behind his ear.
The police continue to shout at the crowd to get in line and show identification, but the
people are far too engrossed in their chanting to hear what the policemen are saying. The
chanting is basically incoherent at this point since the people are not shouting in unison.
Sentiments like, “Gay power!” and “This shit has got to stop!” can occasionally be heard.
Finally, one policeman announces that the wagon has arrived and shouts “Send ‘em out!”
The crowd rushes out of the bar. There is a close up on Isaiah, who starts running out of
the room with the rest of the people. One cop motions to an UNDERCOVER COP closer
to Isaiah to stop him from leaving the room. The undercover cop bars the doorway and
pushes Isaiah toward the other cop. Isaiah fights back and nearly gets out of the doorway
leading into the hallway, but they ultimately get him on the ground. They blame him for
getting the crowd riled up and not letting them perform their duty. Once he is lying on his
stomach, they handcuff him.
Peter watches as the crowd from inside the bar surges onto the street. The police
physically force some people out of the bar and drag them onto the street. The people
from the bar join the crowd that is already gathered outside, which has grown
significantly from the time he first arrived. The crowd cheers wildly and as the police
release the people they have dragged out, the cheering gets even louder. After the main
crowd from the Stonewall is in the crowd on the street, the policemen escort THREE
HANDCUFFED MEN out of the building. Peter asks a nearby MAN who had been
inside the Stonewall Inn who the three handcuffed men are. The man explains they are
part of the Mafia and turned the Stonewall Inn into a gay bar three years before. The man
turns back to his chanting, and Peter jots down a note. People are yelling but most of
what they are saying is incomprehensible since they are not cheering in unison. A patrol
wagon arrives, and the crowd grows quiet. The POLICEMEN get out and begin escorting
the Mafia members into the wagon. As this is going on, the cops from the Stonewall Inn
begin escorting another group of handcuffed people, including the bartender and the
bouncer, GREGORY, out of the bar. The policemen begin dragging these employees
into the wagon and the crowd erupts once again. Peter decides to get closer to the action.
He walks toward the entrance to the Stonewall Inn. First, he attempts to interview
Gregory, but a policemen pushes him away and tells him to go back to the crowd. Then,
he tries to interview a policeman at the side of the crowd, but he is scolded and told to
move away. Peter is discouraged and is not sure how to go about getting his story. He
seems overwhelmed by the chaos of the event. He is visibly intimidated by the people in
the crowd, and no one pays much attention to him. They are too engrossed in the scene:
the employees are being pushed into the patrol wagon. The crowd grows louder and
people are shouting slogans like “Gay power!” A man next to Peter begins singing “We
Shall Overcome,” and others start to chime in. Peter is visibly moved, stopping his notetaking for a moment to take in the scene. The scene is cut short when a man announces
that the patrons inside the bar are being beaten. The crowd grows angry and begins
hurling objects at the wagon and the policemen alongside it.
Isaiah and several other patrons stand handcuffed in the back of the bar. A few policemen
hit them repeatedly with billy clubs and yell homophobic slurs at them. This continues
for a while, and Isaiah is in visible pain. A cop at the front door of the Stonewall Inn
announces that the wagon is ready for them to bring the rest of the patrons. The
policemen guide the patrons out the front door. We see Isaiah struggling to get away once
he reaches the entrance. He nearly gets away, but the policeman grabs him just in time
and pegs him to a nearby wall. Just as the policeman is about to strike him with a billy
club, another patron attempts to get away in the midst of being handcuffed. The
policeman strikes the patron making a break for it very hard, and Isaiah lets out a sigh of
relief. He is surprised when he looks up at the large crowd before him.
Peter stands toward the back of the crowd all the way on the side. He jots down some
notes when he notices Isaiah. He recognizes him from somewhere but it takes him a
minute to place his face. Once he realizes it’s Isaiah, he makes his way toward the
entrance of the Stonewall Inn to try and reach him. Meanwhile, Isaiah still struggles to
get away from the cops. Every time he gets close to escaping, the policemen beat him.
Peter gets pretty close up to Isaiah, but once he is a few feet away, two policemen block
him. They ask if he knows Isaiah, and Peter pauses for a moment, clearly very nervous.
He replies no, he is just a journalist trying to observe the event. The police tell him to
back away, but he pauses for just a moment before walking away. He and Isaiah, now
panting, exchange eye contact. Peter races toward a payphone down the street.
Charlie drinks coffee and works at his typewriter with the radio in the background
announcing news about the police raid at the Stonewall Inn. The phone rings. It’s Peter.
He asks if Charlie knows what’s going on at the Stonewall Inn. Charlie lies and says he’s
been asleep. Peter asks if he knows that Isaiah is there tonight, and again, Charlie lies.
Peter explains the situation vaguely so as not to make Charlie too nervous about Isaiah.
He tells Charlie he’d better come down. Charlie begins to ask Peter to elaborate but Peter
urgently tells him once again that he’d better come over right away. Charlie says okay,
he’s on his way. He begins to put on his shoes, but after contemplating for a moment, he
returns to his typewriter.
The police begin forcing Isaiah and the other patrons into the wagon. Isaiah is too worn
out to fight back. Peter watches from a distance and looks down the street to see if
Charlie has arrived. The crowd is still large but is much less verbal than it was earlier.
Instead, the people are watching the scene in shock, much the way Peter is. The police
guide a handcuffed WOMAN toward the wagon that Isaiah’s standing in front of. She
screams at the policemen to release her immediately and complains that her handcuffs are
too tight. The policemen throw her to the ground and members of the crowd gasp, but
continues staring in shock. The woman asks, “Why don’t you guys do something?” as the
policemen hit her in the head with a billy club and then shove her toward the wagon. The
crowd erupts. The woman and Isaiah, who is being held in front of the wagon by
policemen, are shoved into the wagon. Peter frantically searches for Charlie and then
goes back to the payphone to call him.
The phone rings, but Charlie does not pick up. It rings several more times and annoyed,
he finally answers. Peter asks him where the hell he is and tells what just happened to
Isaiah. Charlie begins to explain to Peter that he knows the situation is bad but he can’t
openly be at the Stonewall Inn. There are journalists there and he can’t run the risk of his
family seeing a photo of him in the paper. His parents pretty much pay for everything he
has and if they knew about Isaiah, they’d probably disown him. Peter gives him an
idealistic speech about how now is the time to have the courage to stand up for what he
believes in and be open to the world. If he lets himself be free, things will work out.
Charlie is visibly moved by Peter’s words but undercuts them nonetheless. He tells Peter
to cut the crap and asks why he hasn’t done any social justice work if he is so passionate
about it. Peter, in a self-righteous tone, tells Charlie that he happens to be covering the
police raid right now. Charlie says he’ll see Peter around and is unclear about whether he
will come to the Stonewall Inn.
The crowd is wildly cheering and hurling objects at the policemen. The policemen have
abandoned the wagon and are trying to repress the crowd. But the policemen are
outnumbered by the hundreds, and the crowd keeps screaming slurs at them and hurling
objects. One group lights garbage on fire and uses it to break the windows of the Inn.
Another group uproots a parking meter and uses it to break down the door. Meanwhile,
we get a close-up of the now abandoned wagon. We hear the shatter of glass and then
watch as one of the windows of the patrol wagon is broken from the inside. Isaiah has
used a wrench to shatter the glass. He clears out as much glass as he can from the
window frame and then reaches his arm down to open the door. The crowd of people
shoved inside the wagon fall out all at once, and the crowd cheers in victory as they hit
the ground. Isaiah stands up with his arms up in victory and then helps the rest of the
patrons up. The cops try to get over and stop them, but at this point they are blocked by
the massive crowd of people.
Peter runs over to Isaiah and asks if he’s okay. Isaiah is out of breath, exhausted, and
visibly injured. He falls to the ground. Peter helps him over to a bench and gives him
some water. Isaiah asks what Peter is doing there and Peter explains he is covering it for
The Village Beat. Isaiah says he fears the papers, even liberal ones like Peter’s, are going
to portray the event in a negative light and criticize the gay community. But he says at
least Peter had the guts to show up to the event. Peter says he’s optimistic about change
too and hopes Charlie will come around. A member of the crowd comes over and hands
them protest signs to hold up. Isaiah gets up and makes his way toward the crowd. Peter
begins to say he’s a journalist so he must remain objective, but he is overcome with
emotion and joins in the protest alongside Isaiah.
The crowd begins to thin out, but a core group of protesters, including Isaiah, is still
going strong. Peter heads out to write his article, but introduces Isaiah to a RADIO
REPORTER he knows and suggests Isaiah speak about his experience directly so he can
represent it as he sees it.
Charlie hears Isaiah’s voice on the radio talking about his experience with police. Isaiah
speaks passionately about he’s proud of what the gay community is accomplishing and it
was about time there was change. Charlie sits, pensive, hesitant, and nervous. He hastily
starts a new page on his typewriter and takes a swig of coffee. Just then, the phone rings.
Charlie turns off the radio and picks up this time, assuming it is Isaiah. Instead, it is his
cousin, NAOMI, a Vassar student home for the summer. Naomi heard about what was
going on in Charlie’s neighborhood and wanted to make sure he was okay. Charlie tells
her he is fine and that he hopes things will calm down soon. Naomi seems surprised
about Charlie’s lack of passion and asks him why he isn’t more excited about the
impending social change. She’d thought he’d be supportive of the movement and maybe
even involved. Charlie gets very defensive and says he doesn’t see any transformation in
society, just chaos. In the real world, not everybody gets treated nicely and it’s something
people have to deal with. He wants things to go back to how they used to be. Naomi says
that’s ridiculous, and anyway, she’s been meaning to tell him that she’ll be coming to the
city this summer. She’ll be staying with FRANKIE, a friend who dropped out of Vassar,
but Frankie is traveling now. She asks Charlie if it’d be okay if she stayed with him for
the next few days. When Charlie hesitates to answer, she assures him she’ll be spending
most of her time taking photographs, especially if the riots keep up. Charlie says yes
weakly. Naomi thanks him profusely. But just a few days, Charlie restates. He hangs up
the phone and throws his coffee mug in the sink. He turns the radio back on and hears
more news about the Stonewall Riots. He puts on his shoes and heads out the door.
Down on the other end of the street, Charlie spots the now-smaller Stonewall Inn crowd.
He takes the scene in and then enters the diner.
Charlie sits down at the counter and orders a cup of coffee. He turns halfway so he can
look out the window and still catch a glimpse of the riot. “It’s a new world out there,
man,” an older man says to him from the opposite end. Charlie nods. From outside, he
hears the crowd singing “We Shall Overcome.” A WAITRESS places his coffee in front
of him.
The crowd sings “We Shall Overcome” as the sun rises. Close-up on Isaiah, who is
standing toward the front and singing along. Close-up on Peter, who is closing his
notebook and seems moved by the experience.