Bite the Bullet (1975) Movie Script

Heard your paper
was running an honest race.
You heard right, Mr. Gebhardt.
Well, who in hell handicapped
this owlhead as a favourite?
- The smart money.
- That's what we come to get.
She's all finished, boy.
Yeah, she's all finished.
Must be the dude from London.
How's he going to win a 700-mile race,
sitting on a postage stamp?
He won't win.
Wonderful journey, wonderful.
Miss Jones?
Reporter for the Western Press.
- You the one said I wouldn't show up?
- I'm pleased to be wrong.
In that case, pleased to meet you.
Don't you never touch me. Never.
How much?
Civil War? South?
These days, medals from losers
is worth nothing. No offence, mister.
$300's a bet.
$250? Call.
Two pair.
You drew to an inside straight?
- I think it's rather sporting.
- I hope your horse doesn't run as lucky.
My horse is the luckiest horse in the West,
but he never plays cards for money.
We've had more than sixty letters to the
editor asking why is a woman in the race.
- Written by men?
- Mostly women.
They figure
you must have a special reason.
Two thousand reasons.
How about you, Mr. Carbo?
Can your horse
stand up against thoroughbreds?
My bronc only has to be
half as good as them hotbloods...
...'cause I'm twice as good
as these oldbloods.
I've never been committed to defeat
quite so tactfully.
This race will be won by a horse.
Not a mouth.
Won by a bronco.
No thoroughbred has the speed,
wind or bottom of a mustang.
Not for 700 miles,
and that includes your Arabian.
$5,000. My horse against the field.
- Even money?
- How about you?
- $3,000.
- I'll cover the rest.
There's plenty more, if you're game.
One game at a time, Mr. Parker.
Where is this great horse of his, anyway?
Coming aboard next stop.
- Good to have you with us. Mr. Parker.
- Thank you.
- Where the hell is my horse? Seen her?
- Was she here?
- She's supposed to be.
- Was I supposed to see her?
You can't miss her.
She's got "champion" written all over her.
I see. That explains everything.
I don't read.
Hold your damn horses!
We're running late.
You're not leaving without my horse.
- You know the rules, Mr. Parker.
- The hell with your rules.
Can you spare some milk
for a hungry orphan?
He don't know anything
but his mom's teat.
You like horses?
You got one of your own?
You want one?
You got one, then.
- Don't I got to pay something?
- Yeah.
Don't ever treat him bad.
You're in the big time.
I'm in the shithouse.
- Out.
- For what?
- Hustling.
- That's a crime? They're all hustlers.
They work for me. You don't.
That makes it a crime.
Ride him, cowboy! Ride him!
Whiskey for me, and beer for my horse.
Cowboy always tends to his horse first.
Telegraph Chicago.
You're covered, $15,000 at 7-to-5.
$12,000 in Kansas City, even money.
- Call off all bets.
- Can't be done, baby. It's play or pay.
- Get through to my son.
- On his way. He'll be here before dark.
- Your father left about an hour ago.
- What about Tripoli? He show yet?
- No, sir.
- He's stupid.
$40,000 bet on a missing horse,
in the hands of a fool.
- Two important regulations. Rule One...
- Win!
Rule One: Each horse
must carry no less than 160 pounds...
...including rider, saddle and extras.
Rule Two: You'll be issued a compass
and a map for every leg of the race.
On it, you'll find the safest route.
You don't have to take it.
You do have to make every checkpoint.
Miss one, you're disqualified.
Out of the race.
Any questions?
Jump-off time: 6:00 in the morning.
Hey, British.
Drink to the winner!
Thank you. I haven't really
won the race yet. However...
Damn fine shooting, sir.
- The best, right?
- Lf you say so.
What do you say, pop?
Never saw a man yet
could hold his liquor like a bottle.
Hey, you. What's your name,
what do you say?
You're pretty good calling a poker hand.
You care to call this hand?
You going to pass?
Nobody wants to play.
Tex, fetch a jackass.
- Anybody killed?
- Just the quart.
You done right.
A boy looking for a reputation
is the most dangerous thing alive.
It certainly wasn't worth dying for.
What is?
Even if you do it, what's it going to prove?
Proves I can do it. That's what it proves.
That your jackass?
Then it ain't your business!
Never heard of Sam Clayton?
Champion of dumb animals,
ladies in distress, lost kids and lost causes.
- How you been?
- Fine, till you come along.
- You want it sudden?
- Drag it out.
Palm Sunday.
Matthew 5:44.
Just like old times.
You start trouble, and I start bleeding.
- Get up, damn it!
- Palm Sunday's over.
Hurts, don't it?
Something personal?
My eyes ain't as good as his.
I might miss. You'd be dead, and I'd be
out of the race for abusing a dumb animal.
Bad for you, worse for me.
Okay, pop.
- You look like a man of property.
- When I shook you, my luck changed.
- Big things?
- New things.
- Easy living?
- Right.
- Who wants easy living?
- I do.
You. You're fired.
Your job was to get J.B.'s horse
on the train. That was your job.
You gave all the others
a 70-mile advantage.
He was handled real easy, Mr. Parker.
Perfect condition.
Then she'll win.
If she could have won before today,
she'll still win.
- Except for one thing: Me.
- And me.
Me, too.
- You'll need moving money.
- Who said I'm moving?
Staying takes even more money.
I got a month's pay coming.
A hot bath costs $5.
I guess I just won't bathe.
It takes $15 just to get drunk.
I'm going to stay sober.
$30 for an all-night woman.
Seventy miles in six hours?
Could he go 100 miles
every day for a week?
That might be enough to win this race.
I came 5,000 miles to try it.
- Why?
- To beat the best.
You must be either rich or crazy.
A little of both, I'm afraid.
I came 3,000 miles for the Kentucky Derby.
Another 2,000
to see Joe Gans box Battling Nelson.
Forty-two fantastic rounds.
It was bloody marvellous.
- You know who won?
- I'm not interested.
Not interested in who won?
That's not only unbelievable...'s positively un-American.
What does interest you?
Right now? Just a job.
What did Parker pay you?
$50 a month? $60?
You win this race,
and you'll get three years' pay.
What's the horse get out of it? Colic?
Cracked bones?
You ever see a horse run himself dead just
to please the man on his back? What for?
- Get his picture in the paper? For glory?
- Some men live for it.
Horse don't give a damn who wins a race.
Me, neither.
In the interest of the West's
greatest horse, the bronco...
...and myself, who grows them,
I'm putting up an extra $1,000... the bronco rider who wins!
I'd like a chance
to win back some of my das money.
I figured you would.
- How do you like the joint?
- It ain't Kansas City.
Would you believe so many chumps
in the middle of Nowhere, U.S. A?
Like shooting fish in a barrel.
- Nice, fat sucker fish.
- All you need is the right bait, Rosie.
It takes more than a deck of cards
and a pair of knockers.
Horse race pulled them in.
This crowd, their hustle's the fast buck.
- What's yours?
- The same.
And if you don't win, which you won't...
...I'll lend you the $2,000.
You can work it off in Kansas City.
Bang bang, you're in the chips.
At $20 a bang, out of which you get half,
that's one hell of a lot of banging.
It's a hell of a lot easier on your ass
than 700 miles in a saddle.
The money's for Steve.
He won't care how you got it.
- How many times you been married?
- Eleven. Ten without a preacher or license.
- Well, did you love any of them?
- All of them. Every one of them.
The good and the bad.
It's a shame to waste all that prime beef
on a guy serving three to five in prison.
You two keep in touch?
- He's kind of a lousy letter writer.
- Lousy bank robber, too.
You have anything for a toothache?
Latest thing in miracles: Heroin.
One of these painkillers,
and a chaser of whiskey:
Four hours of joyhouse!
Have you tried this heroin yourself?
Mister, I tried everything
except confession.
Even God wouldn't believe it!
I've forgotten how good
a bad woman feels.
Flattery and money will get you anything!
Two of the best, for two of the best.
Truly a wonderment.
- You drink with greasers?
- Only seoritas.
My grandpa was Mexican.
I bathed that old man
every day till he died.
It's a funny thing, though.
I never did find a greasy spot on him.
- Pure Mex ain't bad.
- Breed. You can smell it.
Well, that must be why I can't smell it.
- I'm half Cherokee.
- I'm a squaw man, myself.
Anybody pays, gets drinks.
Anybody don't like it, throw them out!
Mr. Matthews?
I'll miss your company.
Ninth, and final entry:
Clayton, riding a coldblood.
Attention. For all contestants,
everything is on the house...
...except booze, betting and bawds.
What else is there?
We've got a problem.
We both can't win.
No. That's not the problem.
- The problem is, I can't afford to lose.
- Who won the Gans-Nelson fight?
Gans, on a foul, in the 42nd round.
The greatest fighter I ever saw in my life,
black or white.
Won me $300, which I ran into $2,000.
Most of it old Parker's money.
- Anyway...
- you know, I'm un-American?
What's that?
I don't know exactly.
Except, if you're not the best...
...or the first and the greatest,
if you don't win...
...then you're not American.
- Which brings us to the problem.
- I didn't know Joe Gans was a black man.
I just bet everything on this race.
I got 7-to-1.
You bet $2,000?
- On yourself?
- Who else?
Well, that's not so serious.
All you got to do is beat
J.B. Parker's champion horse...
...and J.B. Parker's champion rider,
and J.B. Parker's champion disposition.
No. That ain't all.
My bet says no other rider
in the race will beat mine.
That's in writing and that's a problem.
You got nothing to worry about.
You admit that you can out-drink...
...out-fight, out-shoot, out-jump...
...out-luck, out-ride any man
born of woman, don't you?
Except you.
I never said I could out-ride you.
- Do we eat now, or after?
- Just so it's not during.
Class. For a natural-born loser,
you certainly got lots of class.
You just be at that finish line,
with that $16,000.
He expects to win.
You saying this race is fixed?
All I know is, no matter what the game,
cards, craps, racing, boxing, whatever...
If you can bet on it, it can be fixed.
Can be.
And that's all I know.
Well, all I know is I'm winning this race,
so don't crowd me.
- How do you like it, mister?
- Without conversation.
Don't forget my bed. Get all the tables.
Don't forget the booze. Strip the joint!
Get a horse!
Maybe. Maybe that'll save a couple miles.
Is he all right?
Boy, what did I do to you?
It was damn stupid of me, wasn't it?
A little over eight hours.
They ought to be strung out...
...from here to about here.
How far we come?
Halfway, I think.
- Halfway?
- To the first checkpoint.
The father of your father.
He was truly a Mejicano?
But you are simptico.
I had a toothache once.
I've had it. Good luck.
So long. Good luck.
What happened to the miracle painkiller?
He took six pills in one hour,
instead of one every four hours.
Killed the pain all right, but he almost died.
I made him throw up the pills.
Now his toothache is back.
Can you get a dentist on that thing?
If he could, and if the dentist comes,
by the time he gets here, we'll be gone.
The nearest town's 100 miles
in any direction.
- He wants it pulled.
- Who by?
- By us.
- He's crazy.
- He's got a lot of faith.
- That proves he's crazy.
Checking out.
- Christie just rode out.
- So did I.
Hold this, will you?
Tooth's chipped.
That nerve is open.
Cover the tooth, and the pulling can wait.
- What about the poison?
- That goes first.
Do I cut it from the inside,
or from the outside?
I'll do it.
What calibre's that tooth?
The bullet size.
Use the casing to cover the tooth.
- Smaller.
- Smaller. Okay.
Checking out.
Crank out a round for me, will you?
After you doctor him up...
...suppose he goes out and wins?
Then, what do you say?
I'd have to say, "you're out $2,000."
Checking out.
You're losing time.
Right. You won't think it unsporting?
Hell, racing for money ain't sport. It's war.
This liniment's going to burn for a week.
Put a little right there.
Careful of my vitals.
- Seems you're not worried about this race.
- Yeah, seems like it.
You know,
missing that train like you did yesterday...
...that's not like your kind of man.
You must have had a good reason.
I must have had.
Well, I don't give a damn about the reason.
I was out of hand.
I just wanted you to know that.
- What's on your mind, Mr. Parker?
- I want you to come back on our team.
You get a bonus and a raise. Deal?
You just take the rest of the week off.
With pay.
How about it?
I'll look you up after the race, Mr. Parker.
- Get any sleep?
- Not much.
- They gone long?
- Three, four hours.
We'll catch them before dark.
Drop it!
Drop it.
Hogtie her.
Turn around.
Morning, neighbour.
- You fixing to stay?
- No, just passing through.
Then you ain't my neighbour.
- Been here long?
- Ever since I come.
This trail here. Where does it go?
Ain't going nowhere that I know of.
Always been there.
Well, how far is it to town?
Don't know. Never measured it.
Well, you don't seem to know much.
I said, "you don't seem to know much. "
I don't know a damn thing about nothing.
But I ain't the one who's lost.
Much obliged.
He is generous today.
One of us better know the way.
Hold him, damn it!
Muzzle that stump-sucking bastard.
I ought to bust your ass wide-open!
Lousy whore.
- Don't.
- Shut up, damn it!
You ain't nothing
but a lousy crib-alley whore.
Get back that rope.
Don't say it.
Don't say it.
Don't! What he said don't bother me.
Now, quit!
Nothing to do with you.
I know you can pull this over here.
How in the hell do I pull you over there?
Good evening.
- Good evening, gentlemen.
- Good evening.
Miss Jones.
And how was the shorter road?
I'll go have a look.
Watch the sport.
Miss Jones, going to need a blanket.
He's crazy! He's got to be crazy.
- Is that so?
- He tried to kill me.
Well, he couldn't have tried very hard.
Son of a bitch tried to kill me!
Why don't you tell me
the story of your life.
Just skip everything
but the last few minutes.
What the hell you doing down here?
By God, I'm shivering.
- Is it busted?
- What's busted is my pump.
- How do you know?
- Army doc. Couple of years back.
He said, "When that pain hits your arm,
that's the alarm bell.
"When it hits your pump right after,
that's it. "
Can you make it to the checkpoint?
Come on, it's only a couple of hours.
Easy ride.
Let's try.
You certainly have a knack
of provoking a man to violence.
- All I said was that she was...
- It was the way you said it.
Like an insult.
- When a woman does it for money...
- A man gets the best of the bargain.
Before you take her to bed,
she's a thing of beauty.
In bed, an angel of mercy.
- Afterwards, she's a...
- Whore.
- A pillow of peace.
- A whore!
That's what Clay married in the war.
Cuba, '98.
She's the only woman Clay ever loved.
How about you?
I was never that lucky.
Let go. I don't want them to know.
I ain't run out of my string yet.
- Evening. Thank you.
- Old man, I thought sure you'd cashed it in.
- Not till I'm back in Oklahoma.
- I'd rather be in hell than Oklahoma.
Every man to his own country.
Why didn't you take the barge across?
Against your religion?
You know Injun ponies. Said if he couldn't
go on a canoe, he'd rather swim.
- Well, I saved you some supper.
- That's good.
I want it served by one of them nice ladies
wearing nothing but a big smile.
Why, in damn it, would a sick old man
like you get tangled up in all this?
Why, in the name of sweet Jesus?
What is so important about
this gut-twisting, back-busting... goddamn race?
- The money?
- The prize.
- The prize is the money.
- The prize is winning.
Lose, you're nothing.
Who remembers a loser, or even cares?
Win, you're somebody.
What you done, it's printed.
It's in a newspaper.
And when it's printed, it ain't brag.
It's real.
Suddenly, everybody knows you,
or wants to.
Strangers shaking your hand.
"Pleased to know you.
"Have a drink, have a cigar.
Meet the wife. "
Everybody's friendly and welcome.
I got a lifetime hunger for being welcome.
No family?
You know saddle tramps. They sign on... the beef 1,000 miles,
make your mark...
...draw your pay,
and move on to the next ranch.
Another round up. Another drive.
Hired, fired, and move on.
Never bothered me none.
No. Me neither,
when I was 30 years lighter.
Ever prospected?
Ever hit pay dirt?
I've dug for gold, silver, lead, mercury.
I've dug more holes than
a whole regiment of gophers.
I never dug out a decent day's wage yet.
God, what ain't I tried.
Pony Express rider, overland stage driver...
...lawman, gambler, river man, rancher... hand, barman...
...spittoon man. Old man.
Nothing much to remember.
Of course,
there ain't nothing much to forget, either.
Nobody's got much use for an old man.
I can't blame them much.
That's why I'm going to win me
this here newspaper race.
When I cross that finish line,
I get to be a big man.
Top man.
A man to remember.
I didn't even know your name, mister.
A couple of miles out from here,
47 miles of desert. Nothing but sand.
An ocean of it. By night, cold.
Hostile, but easier going.
By day, a blazing hellhole.
Halfway across, water stop.
The only one.
Miss that water, you're in trouble.
If you're lucky,
eight hours in the devil's own frying pan.
Railroad. We'll wait here till noon.
Can you beat the desert before sunup?
Well, how does it shape up?
You're not worried? Who by?
An old man, a girl, a punk kid.
Where's the class?
Kids and old men don't respect class.
And don't sell the girl short.
- Lf she ever cut that brute of hers loose...
- Why would she hold back?
Probably too green to know better,
but the Mexican's not. And he's tough.
- Anytime we can't beat a Mexican...
- Horseshit.
- And that stubborn Englishman...
- He'll never keep up the lick.
Tell that to him! I lose him, I look around,
he's biting my ass.
- Sand dunes will finish him.
- The tougher it gets, the better he likes it.
The same goes for Matthews.
What he hasn't got in horse,
he makes up for in brass.
Cuts every corner,
takes a lot of chances, and he's lucky.
That cowboy you fired...
- So far, he's showed nothing.
- So far, maybe he ain't tried.
His bronc's a real stayer. Tough hide.
He's got the heart.
Cowboy's got the know-how.
He's the sleeper. The one to beat.
- We'll beat him.
- Yeah.
News. We're big news everywhere.
"Chicago. Adding $250 to purse and will
headline winner in my Wild West Show.
"Signed, 'Buffalo' Bill Cody. "
- Wasn't he the fastest gun in the West?
- Only in bed, kiddo.
"London. To Sir Harry Norfolk,"
our Englishman:
"Up the British. Signed, Prince of Wales. "
Invitations to the winner from
Rome, Paris, Moscow. All expenses paid.
And, get this.
From the President of the United States:
"To all the intrepid contestants.
Bully for you!
"To the two Rough Riders, Clayton and
Matthews, who served with me in Cuba...
"... remember San Juan Hill.
Charge, boys, charge!"
Look him over. Fast!
- What happened to the old man?
- He's dead.
Get moving. I'm going out.
- This horse is running a temperature.
- It's nothing that will bother him.
I'll be fine.
Son of a bitch.
I'm going to catch me that champion.
Yes, sir. I'm going to catch him
before this day is done.
Could I ask you something? Your wife...
...where is she?
I was wondering how you met.
I work for Rosie. Off and on, about a year.
I guess that don't surprise you none.
The only thing that surprises me
is the people some people marry.
Because she was a whore?
A Cuban.
Paula was a Cuban insurrecto.
Guerrillas, fighting the Spanish,
just like we was.
That's where we met. On the battlefield.
That was our wedding bed till that day.
We came out of the jungle,
and there it was, San Juan Hill.
Spanish guns looking right down our throat
and sharpshooters picking us off.
We just charged right up that hill.
That's not the way it happened at all.
It wasn't anything like it was
in San Antonio, where we did our training.
That's where I ran into Luke...
...and a lot of other men
from every other country...
...that wanted to be Rough Riders.
Bakers and barbers.
Congressmen and cattlemen.
Ballplayers, farmers, reporters, cowboys.
No, we didn't rough ride up that hill...
...'cause we didn't have any horses.
We didn't charge up there, either.
We crawled up there on our scared bellies.
There was only one horse and one rider.
That was Colonel Teddy.
He went charging up that damn hill.
They shot his glasses off.
He put on another pair.
They nicked him in the elbow.
And he said, "Follow me!"
And we did,
'cause we were too damn ashamed not to.
After the Hill, came the church.
There was a French 75 out front.
Every window had a rifle sticking out of it.
There was a Gatling gun in the bell tower.
We could have called the artillery boys in
to blow it to pieces...
...but outside, along the walls...
...they'd tied all these people up.
Roped them together, hogtied them.
Looked like a bunch of sandbags.
Women and children, nuns and prisoners.
My Paula among them.
Neither me nor Luke nor anybody else
knew what to do.
Inside the church, they knew what to do.
They opened up on us and we fell back.
All of a sudden, I heard Paula scream out:
"Asalto, Cubanos, asalto!"
Then, a Spanish bullet.
The rest of the women took up the cry.
"Attack, Cubans, attack! Attack!"
Her own band of guerrillas led the way.
The people some people marry.
I wasn't worth her spit.
Bury him.
- What with?
- Your goddamn hands.
See he does it.
You see to it.
What he said. Is it that important?
It must be. He said it twice.
It was Gans in the 42nd round!
Anyway, he's walking in
from a couple of miles back.
Didn't want me to carry the extra weight.
He said it wasn't sporting.
- Hey, kid!
- Yes, sir.
- I'm going to lay a chore on you.
- Yes, sir.
Take the old-timer's horse there.
We got a problem with those prisoners.
They're all maximum-security.
Our plan still holds.
Look for this mark on the left front hoof.
No horse passes through
without this mark.
List of riders.
To you, this race is worth about $2,000.
To me, it's worth $14,000.
Now, say it's you and me in front...
...coming down the stretch.
Got the picture?
You hold back. Make it look good,
of course. I win.
I collect my bet, turn the prize money
over to you. Nobody gets hurt...
...except old Parker, who's out $14,000,
which is only justice.
Yeah, you're right.
- I could never do that to my best friend.
- Only friend.
- So we split 50-50. Deal?
- No deal.
- You want more than me?
- What I want is...
Name it.
What I'm going to do is win this race.
That is the greediest,
most selfish thing that...
Do you realise you're betraying a friend?
If it ain't by a friend, it ain't betrayal.
Thank you.
Got it.
Not hungry?
Sorry about all those things I said.
All this hardware.
I ain't never been in a gunfight.
Killing a man don't prove you're a man.
I ain't never been a cowboy, either,
like I said.
I know.
I've been around a lot of cowhands,
one way or another.
Cowboy dresses from the top down.
First thing on is his hat.
And he undresses from his boots up.
Last thing off, hat.
Another thing. To be a cowpuncher.
That don't mean
you got to go around punching them.
Yes, ma'am.
Supposed to make you sexy-sleepy.
Well, I've got no such problems.
I got to get me some sleep. I can't sleep.
Guilty conscience.
Why? 'Cause I won't throw the race?
Nothing so hard on a man as virtue.
How could you know?
According to
the Gospel of Old Luke Matthews.
"Virtue is its own punishment. "
You might say this is our Last Supper.
Beyond that next mountain,
it's all downhill to the finish line.
And you, Mr. Norfolk.
Will you be with us at the finish?
I wouldn't miss it.
To the West!
Awesome, but inspiring.
What the hell's inspiring
about a flash flood or a blizzard?
Or a landslide or sandstorm or dust storm?
Any sudden disaster, personal or financial?
Today, the desert broiled you raw.
Tomorrow, the mountain'll freeze you stiff.
That's your West. Violent, treacherous.
Where every prairie dog hole is a goldmine.
Every molehill is a mountain. Every creek
is a river, and everybody you meet is a liar.
"When you call me that, smile, stranger. "
The Virginian, Owen Wister. Another liar.
For a family who don't know a jackass
from a mule, you know about the West.
We don't have to know about it.
We own it.
Bastard! You poisoned him!
- Wait, Miss Rosie.
- Who paid you?
- Him?
- Nobody.
- Bitch! Where'd you get this?
- A couple of days ago.
For me! For when I can't sleep.
Neither could he. Ask him!
No, she's right!
It's just supposed to make you sleepy.
That's all.
Mix it with booze... get one hell of a Mickey Finn.
See you.
Bet your ass!
- Your name?
- Jones.
Stretch! Face down.
Kate. The rifle!
What about those two, Steve?
Just where the hell do they fit in?
I need them. They're coming with us.
- You're not taking this horse.
- His and two more. That's the plan.
The plan was us! Nobody else!
You and me, out of here on my horse.
Will you for Christ's sake shut up?
Dirty business.
You never think, maybe,
to win this damn race?
They hurt you?
I have seen many bullets.
Too many.
But this one...
Truly, did you ever know...
...a bullet that is good for the health?
The key!
How do you start it? How do you
make it go and how do you stop it?
Take your hand off the clutch!
- I'd like to go with them.
- This horse stays here.
That makes it a one-horse race.
That's not the kind of race I wanted to win.
Set a reasonable time for them
to get back with their horses.
If they get back.
If he gets into those woods...
Hey, kid! The horse!
Miss Jones.
The people some people marry.