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Adapted from: The Witch's Season, also by Terry Frei

 

Read more about the novel here. In the adaptation process, the screenplay is compressed into a shorter time period than in the novel and in the additional consolidation of characters Jake, the rebellious anti-Vietnam War campus activist, switches positions -- going from linebacker to quarterback.      

 

 

 

EXT. CAMPUS STREET -- DAY

 

TITLES:

            Cascade, Oregon

            August 1968

 

Students and Townspeople wander past record and drug paraphernalia shops. On a telephone pole, a long-haired Activist nails up a Morse For Senate flyer...next to an RFK campaign poster that remains up, months after the shooting.

 

JAKE Powell, 20, athletic build, hair flying, runs down the sidewalk, dodging pedestrians or stepping around them into the street. He wears a black denim collared shirt with a “RE-ELECT SENATOR MORSE” pin on it, and blue jeans. A medium-sized box, closed with flaps, is under his arm.

 

A Professor, carrying a satchel, passes a Cascade Times-Register newspaper rack. Headline: "Packwood Leads Morse in Poll."

 

Jake runs by him.

 

Outside the university bookstore, a sandwich board sign on the sidewalk advertises: AVOID THE RUSH, BUY YOUR FALL SEMESTER BOOKS NOW. A PRANKSTER takes a magic marker, draws a line through "RUSH" and scribbles "DRAFT" above it.    

 

Jake runs by.

 

 

EXT. ADMINISTRATION BUILDING -- DAY

 

ANNIE Laughlin, 21, who looks more sorority girl than radical, is on the building steps. She has a homemade sign attached to a yardstick resting upside down at her side. It says: “No More Grapes, No More Strawberries.”   

 

A bearded TROUBADOUR is near her, with his guitar. He begins singing, “Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man.” Annie turns to him. Still singing, the Troubadour lets the guitar drop out of hands to the end of the strap. He quickly reaches down to his guitar case, snatches a bunch of wildflowers and hands them to Annie.

 

Jake charges up the stairs, still carrying the box under one arm. He has witnessed the exchange. 

 

JAKE

Nice flowers. Sorry I’m late.

 

 


INT. PRESIDENT’S OFFICE, RECEPTION AREA -- DAY

 

SECRETARY types furiously. On the closed door beyond her:

             

DR. NEAL HASSLER

University President

 

 

INT. PRESIDENT’S OFFICE, INNER OFFICE -- DAY

 

Neal HASSLER, mid-40s and bespectacled, is behind his desk. Among the many pictures and diplomas on Hassler’s wall is a framed, grainy shot of several grinning military pilots, in flyers’ helmets.

 

The door opens, and Secretary sticks her head in.

 

SECRETARY

They’re set up on the stairs. And they’re not alone.

 

Hassler sighs, stands and starts out of the office.

 

 

EXT. ADMINISTRATION BUILDING STEPS – DAY

 

Holding her sign, Annie faces a crowd of protesters. Jake still holds his box.

 

CROWD

No more grapes! No more strawberries!

 

ANNIE

(to the crowd)

Every table grape and strawberry this university buys condones the horrible treatment of the migrant workers! Support Cesar Chavez!

(cues the crowd)

No more grapes! No more strawberries!

 

The Crowd joins in. Hassler suddenly appears behind her. The crowd notices before she does and starts directing the chant at him. He holds up his hand to ask for quiet. Annie has seen him now, but continues to lead the chant. Jake takes a slight step over and, taking a hand off the box, holds it up, asking for quiet. Annie keeps chanting, but the crowd gradually heeds the request. Annie stops, too.

 

HASSLER

Your appointment was for a meeting in the office. Not for a show on the steps.         

 

JAKE

We were on our way in with the petitions.

 

Annie talks over Jake. 

 

ANNIE

You think this is a show? I went to those camps. I saw how they lived. I saw the way the growers treated them. And the students know it. You’ll see all the signatures we got – and it’s summer school! 

 

HASSLER

Miss Laughlin, I don’t doubt your sincerity. I –

 

Annie turns this into a speech for the crowd. 

 

ANNIE

If you don’t order the university to stop buying grapes and strawberries, there will be trouble! And the same with the military recruiters. They don’t belong on campus!

 

ROARS from below. Hassler continues to talk as if this just the three of them, and only the closest students can hear.

 

HASSLER

Threatening me won’t work. And give me credit: I’ve heard about these petitions you’ve been passing around. On the grapes and strawberries, there will not be a boycott. You seem to forget that students already have voices in what the university orders. The cafeteria lines. Menus. But I'll think about whether there's something besides a boycott that recognizes some individual students are concerned.

 

ANNIE

That’s nothing!

 

VOICE FROM THE MOB

That’s bullshit!

 

Four campus police officers appear behind Hassler. He motions them further back. He speaks up louder now, addressing the crowd more directly.

 

HASSLER

And the military recruiters will be allowed on campus on selected days, like any other corporate recruiters.

 


ANNIE

They say you’re different.

(points at Jake)

He says you’re different. Maybe you are. You’re worse because you’re in a position to do something and you won’t!

 

HASSLER

I’ve told you what I thought. Now I have some work to do.

 

He starts back into the building, escorted by the campus police and followed by chants and derisive taunts. Jake follows, carrying the box of petitions. They talk as they walk.   

 

JAKE

Please think about this.

 

HASSLER

Oh, I will.

(beat)

Don’t you have to get to practice? 

 

Jake looks at his watch.

 

JAKE

Oh shit!     

 

He rushes through the office suite doorway, drops the box outside the entrance to Hassler’s inner office and starts back out. As he passes Hassler, he turns and talks on the run, moving backwards.

 

JAKE

If I’m late, will you put in a word for me with Coach Benson?

 

HASSLER

Sure. But I’m not sure you’d like the word.

 

Jake bolts out the door. KIT Dunleavy, a student reporter, long hair, big round glasses that make her so much more alluring, you wonder if they’re an affectation, is in his path and tries to stop him. She’s holding a notebook and a pen and is poised to take notes.

 

KIT

Jake, can I ask you about a couple of things?

 

Jake slows down and talks as he walks backwards, toward the steps.

 


JAKE

Sorry, Kit. I’ll have to let Annie speak for us alone this time.

 

KIT

You sure you want to do that?

 

JAKE

No. I said I had to.

 

Jake turns around and charges down the stairs.

 

 

EXT. FOOTBALL PRACTICE FIELD -- DAY

 

With Hobson Court, the basketball arena, in the background, the Cascade Fishermen are going through an intra-squad scrimmage. Even the players not involved in the play at the moment are wearing their helmets. Because of the hair hanging out of helmets, many of these guys wouldn’t look out place playing bass in a psychedelic rock band.

 

The offense is in blue, the defense in white. They’re playing under game conditions, except the quarterbacks – Jake Powell, RICK Bouton and DONNIE Dawson – are wearing red vests, marking them as off-limits from contact.

 

Larry BENSON, mid-40s, crewcut, and his coaching staff are gathered about 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage on the field. Among the eight assistants, Howie HALLSTROM, Pete SALISBURY and Stan ALEXANDER are in their early 30s, Rex GAMBERG and Carl STEELE in their late 20s.

 

Jake is standing in the group, too, holding a clipboard and a pencil.

 

Rick throws a deep-down-and-out to end KEITH Oldham along the sideline.

 

Jake scribbles.

 

TIMMY Hilton – tall, black and quick -- takes a pitchout, skirts left end, dances a bit and gains about 10.

 

Rick fakes a handoff to the fullback, rolls to the right, turns back to his left and tosses down the other sideline to Timmy, who has drifted out of the backfield. He’s alone, makes the catch and scampers in for a touchdown.

 

The four defensive coaches, including Steele, are chewing out the defensive players, making hand motions about where players should have been, but weren’t.

 

Hallstrom pats Jake on the shoulder pad, hits Timmy on the butt, and animatedly congratulates the whole unit. Gamberg, the offensive line coach, is more subdued. Gamberg goes through the motions of congratulating his linemen, but his heart doesn’t seem to be in it.

 

As the squad moves back up the field to begin the next series, Gamberg is walking with Hallstrom.

 

GAMBERG

Let’s work on running it down their throats.

 

HALLSTROM

What we just did didn’t work?

 

GAMBERG

We won’t be going against our defense all the time. And if Bouton gets hurt, we’ve got to use the fuckup quarterback.

 

Gamberg motions toward Jake.

 

Benson blows his whistle.

 

BENSON

OK, second offense! Second defense!

 

Jake is excited. He tries to hand his clipboard to someone, but drops it. 

 

 

EXT. FOOTBALL PRACTICE FIELD – DAY

 

Now it’s the second offense, with Jake at quarterback.

 

Jake scrambles out of the pocket and runs for 15.

 

The Backup Fullback barrels up the middle for 5.

 

Jake throws a slant pattern across the middle to a Backup End for 17.

 

The Backup Tailback takes a pitchout and runs for 8.

 

Jake throws a nice sideline route to the Backup End for 14.

 

The Backup Fullback runs for 2.

 

Jake throws an incompletion over the middle.

 

Jake is sacked for a loss of 6.

 

Jake holds for the field goal attempt, and the kicker – coming straight at the ball – boots it through from 42 yards. Barely.

 

 

EXT. FOOTBALL PRACTICE FIELD – DAY

 

Now the players are lining up on one goal line for post-workout wind sprints. Helmets are off.

 

Jake, hair flying, finishes a sprint with a group of about 15 offensive backs. He is well behind Timmy, who has an Afro Jimi Hendrix would be proud of. But Jake is in the middle of the pack and that’s not bad for a quarterback.

 

Benson lifts the whistle to his mouth and lets loose with a blast.

 

BENSON

Bring it in!

 

Hooting and hollering in celebration of the end of the sprints, the players trot over to converge in a haphazard semi-circle around the head coach. Steele and Hallstrom remain at his side. The other coaches are among the players.

 

Jake is standing with the other two quarterbacks, Rick and Donnie.

 

BENSON

Good work! We’ve made a lot of progress in a week and it helped that most of you reported in good shape.

 

A Scrub is bent over at the waist among the players. He feels something coming on – or, rather, up – and quickly charges over to an empty garbage can on the sideline. The Scrub loses breakfast into the garbage can. There is mild laughter among the players, and Benson gestures toward the Scrub.

 

BENSON (cont.)

Most of you.

 

He pauses to survey the faces.

 

BENSON (cont.)

Now, I think most of you have met Bill Wyden, who was promoted last spring to athletic director. He’s asked to speak to you. . .

(beat, and this is barbed)

. . . and he will keep it brief.

  

Bill WYDEN steps out from among the players.  

 

WYDEN

Thanks, Coach Benson.

(Now to the players)

I’m looking forward to great things from you this season. I’m proud to tell you that the booster contributions are up 35 percent this year after we finished second in the conference last season!

 

Jake snorts scornfully.

 

JAKE

Where’s our cut?

 

The players LAUGH.

 

BENSON

Jake, zip it. 

 

JAKE

But he just said they –

 

Benson blows the whistle. It can be heard in Idaho.

 

BENSON

Back on the line! Two hard!

 

Alexander, the big defensive line coach, is the “starter” with his whistle. The players run a 100-yard sprint. Timmy and Keith lead the way.

 

Gamberg, the big offensive line coach, is the “starter” at the other end. He is about to send them back.

 

REX

Be sure you let Powell know how much you appreciate this!

 

Gamberg blows his whistle. When the players finish the second sprint, Benson blows his whistle again and announces . . .

 

BENSON

OK, that’s it! Powell, be in my office after you shower.

 

Wyden is exasperated. He turns to Benson.

 

WYDEN

But I wasn’t through!

 

Benson doesn’t acknowledge him.

 

Jake is in a group with Rick Bouton; Timmy Hilton; linebacker ALEX Tolliver; Keith Oldham; and offensive tackle TODD Hendricks. Todd stands out because he has a crewcut.

 

ALEX

Ecclesiastes says there’s a time and a purpose for everything. You need to learn that.

 

TODD

He means shut the fuck up sometimes.

 

Timmy laughs.

 

TIMMY

Don’t you see what coach was doing? He was just trying to cut off Wyden’s speech.

 

KEITH

Yeah, Wyden was about to tell us to get haircuts, stay out of campus politics and show we’re real jocks by beating up some hippies. I’ll trade two more sprints for listening to that shit any day.

 

Todd stops in his tracks and puts one knee to the ground, assuming the traditional football resting position. He’s gassed.

 

The other three walk toward the middle of the field.

 

KEITH (cont.)

You seem to forget sometimes that if Todd decides to miss a block, he can get you killed.

 

Jake laughs.

 

JAKE

If I ever play.

 

Sequence of shots of the quarterbacks -- including Jake, Rick, and Donnie -- tossing passes to Timmy, Keith, and the other receivers, working on their routes in informal post-practice work.

 

They finish. Managers pick up the balls as the quarterbacks and receivers walk off the field.

 

 

EXT. FOOTBALL PRACTICE FIELD -- DAY

 

Benson is standing with a grizzled reporter, Dusty HARRIS. This guy looks as if he should be squinting over a poker hand, deciding whether to stay in or fold. He’s got a notebook in hand and he’s taking notes.

 

BENSON

. . . and I’m confident the defense will come around.

 

Harris stops writing and puts his notebook down to his side.

 

HARRIS

Was that extra running because Khruschev popped off?

 

BENSON

I assume you mean Powell.

 

HARRIS

Shit, he is head of the Young Communists.

 

BENSON

Campus Coalition.

 

HARRIS

Same thing. Christ, Larry, how do you put up with him? You, of all people? How many missions did you fly?

 

BENSON

Everybody who came back flew the same number.

 

HARRIS

Huh?

 

BENSON

Not one too many.

 

He walks away.