where the writers are
Excerpt from THE LOST BATTALION
THE LOST BATTALION WAS ON TV IN 2002

(Note: When non-English speaking

people speak - Germans, French, etc. -

it shall be in their native language,

with sub-titles)

 

FADE IN:

 

EXT. POLO GROUNDS - NEW YORK CITY (1914) - DAY

 

The crowd ROARS while a member of the New York Giants legs out a double against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

 

Move up and away from the stadium, out past Coogan's Bluff, and towards Manhattan

 

MUSIC plays, something uplifting and patriotic, a tune that seems to say, "Heed the call to adventure" during a time when America was still innocent.

 

EXT. MANHATTAN - DAY

 

An aerial view establishes the skyline of New York during a simpler time.

 

Move out past the moving trains, towards the heart of the city.

 

EXT. WALL STREET - DAY

 

The hustle and bustle of the financial district.

 

Model T's honk their horns, a policeman directs traffic, and stockbrokers move swiftly towards their offices.

 

Settle on a NEWSIE, about 13 years old, a big hat perched on his head, wearing knickerbockers, CALLING OUT the news of the day. The headline on the newspapers reads, "KAISER RATTLES WAR SABRES." Businessmen pass by without bothering to look or buy the paper.

 

NEWSIE

GERMANY THREATENS WAR!  READ ALL ABOUT IT! 

 

Two STOCKBROKERS casually approach.

 

STOCKBROKER 1

(to other

stockbroker)

Doesn't Wilhelm know war's bad for the economy?

 

STOCKBROKER 2

A quick war can create a nice short-term gain.

 

STOCKBROKER 1

(dropping change on newsie) 

A month or two?

 

NEWSIE

Thank you, sir.

 

STOCKBROKER 2

(they head

off to

work)

That's about it.

 

NEWSIE

KAISER RATTLES WAR SABRES!  WAR

DRUMS IN EUROPE!  READ ALL ABOUT

 

EXT. OFFICE BUILDING © DAY

 

 

Move away from the newsie and up a fancy office building, past rows and rows of windows, each window revealing office activity inside, until a particular window is settled on.

 

Inside sits CHARLES WHITTLESEY.

 

Whittlesey is in his 20s, a picture of Wall Street polish in his suit and tie and starched collar, the time-honored pinstripe and suspenders look, his hair slick back revealing a boyish, innocent face, the face of a man who would not kill a fly.  

 

He wears horn©rimmed glasses which give him the owlish appearance of the bookish academic he is; a stern, upright New Englander, tall, gawky and far too thin, with long, reedy bird legs.

 

INT. WHITTLESEY'S OFFICE - DAY

 

Framed on the wall is his Williams College degree, in the name of "CHARLES WHITTLESEY."   Next to that his law degree from Harvard.  Next to that his Delta Psi pledge pin. 

 

Whittlesey reads the same newspaper being sold on the street below, and his eyes reflect a disquieting thought resting somewhere in the recesses of his mind.

 

Whittlesey finishes reading about the possible European war, puts the paper down, and shifts his attention to a legal brief.

 

There is a KNOCK on his door.

 

End MUSIC.

 

WHITTLESEY

(eyes still

on brief)

 

The door opens, and his law partner, a man of Whittlesey's age named J. BAYARD PRUYN, just dripping with Harvard polish (with the accent to boot) peeks his head in.The judge bought it, Chick!

 

WHITTLESEY

(still on brief)

It was the shortest argument I

¡

ever heard.

 

Whittlesey says nothing,

 

PRUYN

I suppose I'd've mucked it up with platitudes and redundant case law.

 

Whittlesey reads intently.

 

PRUYN (cont.)

Of course you won't - The Count being anti-social and whatnot

but a few of the chaps are meeting at the Harvard Club at six if

you care to join.

 

WHITTLESEY

(reading)

No, thank you.

 

Pruyn's expression tells the story.  Whittlesey may be anti-social, but he is also a terrific lawyer.  The door closes behind him. 

 

Whittlesey puts his brief down and returns to the newspaper headlines.

 

As he reads, he gets a more worried look on his face.  It is the face of a man who keeps his feelings bottled up inside.

 

The sound of distant, martial DRUMS is heard.

 

Whittlesey gets up and looks out his window, beyond the hustle and bustle of Wall Street, beyond the YAWKING newsie, and he looks to the east.

 

EXT. NEW YORK CITY - DAY

 

Move out of Whittlesey's office building, aerially traversing the city.

 

The DRUMBEATS are louder, more powerful.

 

EXT. LONG ISLAND SOUND - DAY

 

Move out past the Sound, the DRUMBEATS growing steadily louder.

 

EXT. ATLANTIC OCEAN © DAY

 

Establish a view of the vast ocean.  Move swiftly over the water, the DRUMBEATS ringing with fervent, warlike intensity.

 

FADE TO BLACK:

 

The drums grow silent.

 

Then, POW.  The sound of a single, very loud gunshot.

 

At first, there is silence, then scattered shouts, followed by PANDEMONIUM.

 

FADE IN:

 

EXT. SARAVEJO STREET (1914) - DAY

 

Slice through a crowd of onlookers, which breaks up to reveal a carriage, and on the ground, his aides frantically yet helplessly milling about in anguished futility, a pool of blood forming around his head which lies on the ground, is the slain ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND of Austria.

 

TITLE: "JUNE 28, 1914." 

 

The Archduke's eyes are glazed as he stares lifelessly, looking somehow still splendid in his regal attire, his fancy headdress askew next to his head, slowly drifting in a growing river of blood.

 

Powerful MARTIAL MUSIC accompanies the still-reverberating WARDRUMS.

 

NEWSIE (V.O.)

SHOT HEARD ROUND THE WORLD!

READ ALL ABOUT IT.  ARCHDUKE FERDINAND

ASSASSINATED IN SARAJEVO!

 

INSERT NEWSPAPER HEADLINES:

 

1.  "SERB NATIONALIST KILLS HEIR APPARENT."

2.  "AUSTRIA-HUNGARY AIMS TO ABSORB SERBIA."

 

The MUSIC and the DRUMS morph with the sound of rain POURING, mixed with the CLIPPETY-CLOP of horseshoes on pavement.

 

INSERT MAP OF EASTERN EUROPE.

 

INSERT MAP OF THE ARGONNE FOREST, FRANCE.

 

SUPERIMPOSE - U.S. CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR (faint).

 

 

¡

EXT. REICHSTAG - BERLIN, GERMANY (1914) © DAY

 

¡

The CLIPPETY©-LOP reveals itself to be squadron after squadron of cavalry trotting through the glistening streets.

 

The cavalry pass under the windows of the German seat of government. 

 

INT. REICHSTAG HALLWAY - DAY

 

German political and military leaders move past a huge picture which exhibits the gratifying (to them) spectacle of Kaiser

 

Wilhelm I trampling gloriously on the French flag-together with Bismarck and Field Marshal Moltke prancing upon the battlefield of Sedan, while a German soldier in the foreground stretches a French flag beneath the hoofs of the Emperor's horse.

 

The party leaders move vigorously into the main assembly hall.

 

INT. REICHSTAG ASSEMBLY HALL - DAY

 

KAISER WILHELM I addresses an assemblage of German political leaders.  He is decked out in full military dress, a large, rotund man with an enormous, upturned moustache.

 

On the wall are beautiful yet militaristic paintings, one of which depicts Bismarck's army encircling Paris in 1870.

 

KAISER WILHELM I

When the Anglos deign to cross

the channel - my mother's brother

¡is Edward, a fat cat who has cast

a shadow between the Fatherland

and the sun.  He is Satan.  You

cannot imagine what a Satan he is.

¡

The hall erupts in LAUGHTER, which turns to CHEERS.

 

The Kaiser puts up his arms, indicating that he is serious and wishes to make a point.

 

KAISER WILHELM I

(continuing)

Edward is a Napoleonic apologist,

nothing more, so taken with all

things French that when he crosses

the channel, does he make state

visits to Berlin?  No, only Paris.

(BOOS and HISSES)

Yet, I am

persona non grata

Paris.  This is an outrage!

 

 (More BOOING)

 

We waited, hat in hand, for the

British and French to reach agreement

regarding the disputed colonial

questions.  The snobs!  Perfidy!

All the long years of my reign, my colleagues,

the Monarchs of

Europe, have paid no attention

to what I have to say.  Soon,

with my great Navy to endorse

my words, they will be more respectful.

 

The crowd CHEERS wildly.  The Kaiser, sensing momentum, pulsing now with energy and ambition, conscious of the strength building among his constituency, speaks with religious fervor.  

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