Ellen Foster (1997) Movie Script

High and inside for ball one.
Doesn't look like Leonard
was trying to get...
...but it just didn't want
to break for him.
Toes the rubber,
starts his wind-up
and delivers a fastball
low and outside.
Just missed the corner
for ball two.
Looks like he's
a little bit uncomfortable
with his rotator.
Still having trouble
with that shoulder.
Certainly seems to have trouble
finding the plate
that's for sure.
Come on.
He's already walked
four batters.
It appears
that's going to be all
as Leonard is going to be pulled
by manager Frank...
Sometimes I think
the day he made my daddy
God wasn't thinking straight.
She's coming
home today.
She's coming home?
How come?
They've done all they can
for her for now.
What's romantic fever,
Aunt Nadine?
What Mama has...
romantic fever.
It's not "romantic fever. "
It's rheumatic fever.
What is it?
It's a heart thing.
She's had it
since she was your age.
I thought you knew that.
I thought it
was "romantic. "
What are you doing?
Mama's with her.
We can't go in yet.
Hi, Ellen.
Well, can I go in?
Well, move over.
If I was my mother, I'd stay
right here in the hospital...
folks patting your head
and bringing you fruit baskets.
I would stay right here.
You don't look to me
like you should
be leaving here.
You look like
the dickens.
I'm okay.
The doctor told me
you need
plenty of bed rest
and no exertions.
Now, I want...
I want you to come
home with me.
What for?
The same reason
as always...
to live.
What about Ellen?
My offer is the same
as always, too.
You expect me to go
and live with you
and leave her with him?
Well, she's his daughter.
She's my daughter, too.
Trash begets trash.
It don't matter
who he sires it on.
I'm too tired
for this, Mama.
It's the last time
I make the offer.
Well, that'll
be a relief.
Thanks, honey.
Looks like Charlotte
turned her down again.
You don't have
to come in.
Are you sure?
I'm fine.
We'll call you later.
Okay. Bye.
It's off the wall,
inside corner...
Hey. How you doing?
Not too bad.
Well, you're just in time
for lunch.
What we having?
I had to cook for my own self
the whole time you was gone.
Maybe you can lie down
a bit first.
I'm fine, honey.
Let's go see
what we got, huh?
This place is a mess
since you been gone.
It needs a good cleaning-up.
I can't stand
being in a mess.
It reminds me
of when I was a kid.
I tried to keep it
cleaned up.
I know.
I could see that
when I first came in.
Well, you ought to teach her
how to do it right.
What are you looking at?
Why don't you eat?
I don't have
an appetite.
What was it you turned
your mama down about?
What, honey?
At the hospital.
Aunt Betsy said
you turned your mama
down about something.
You can tell she was
real ticked off.
Well, she wanted me
to come and live
with her.
Well, why don't we...
you and me?
We'd be much better
off over there.
But why not?
She's got that
humongous house
and you wouldn't have to be
cooking or cleaning or whatnot.
Are you okay?
I'm just catching
my breath.
I don't think you should've
turned her down, Mama.
Had to, hon.
Always had to.
How come?
Oh, 'cause...
she won't take you in, too.
I don't like you
knowing that.
Why won't she
take me in, too?
She thinks you're more
your daddy's daughter than mine
and she has an intense dislike
of your daddy.
I think you know that.
She's sure got it wrong
about me and him.
If you wasn't here,
I'd run away.
You know
you're my favorite person
in the whole world.
You know that?
You're my favorite
person, too.
You're smart
and you're strong
and you can get along
no matter what happens.
I absolutely know that.
You remember I told you
that, won't you?
Here. You want
anything else?
No, thank you, hon.
I'll read you
something, okay?
From the Bible?
My favorite part.
You want to hear
my favorite part?
Sure do.
"To everything
there is a season
"and a time to every purpose
under the heaven.
"A time to be born
and a time to die
"a time to plant
"and a time to pluck up
that which is planted
"a time to kill
and a time to heal
"a time to break down
and a time to build up
"a time to weep
and a time to laugh
a time to mourn
and a time to dance. "
I think I'll just have myself
a little nap.
You sure you don't
want nothing else?
No, thank you, hon.
I'm fine.
I'll stay here with you.
Just for a little while,
I'll stay here with you.
I hate it so
when people say they're fine.
You know they're not
and they know it, too.
Why's all the lights out?
How's a man supposed to see
in the pitch dark?
Come on, get up.
Other people got to get in here,
I'll sleep where I want to.
Get up.
You can go sleep in your truck.
I sleep where I want to!
I sleep where I want to!
Mama, get back in the bed.
It's okay. Shh.
Shh, Mama.
The first day
of every month
my daddy's brother Rudolph
would bring some cash money
in an envelope
and I would make sure I would
get it before my daddy did.
I figured out
what I needed and I took it.
You got the lights and the gas
to be paid up, food and extras.
And I'd let him have the rest.
I should have taken
better care of her.
I should have just
put my foot down and said
"Look here, Mama,
you can't be doing
"all this cooking
and cleaning up and what-not.
You have to be in bed getting
rested like Aunt Betsy said. "
I should have put my foot down.
I think that'll be on my mind
for quite a long time.
Mama, I have to go.
Not now, sweetie.
Can't we stop?
Hold it, pumpkin,
all right?
"... Surely goodness and mercy
shall follow me
all the days of my life... "
My baby.
"Earth to earth
"ashes to ashes, dust to dust
"in sure and certain hope
of the resurrection
"to eternal life
through our lord Jesus Christ
"who shall change
our mortal body
"that it may be like
"unto his glorious body
to the mighty work
whereby he is able to subdue
all things to himself. "
Oh, you rotten piece of trash!
You're the one who
should be in that box
you scum!
Why is it that
somebody like my daughter dies
and you don't?!
You took off
and ruined her!
Ruined her life!
Broke her heart!
Scarred her soul!
May God in his wisdom
strike you dead
If somebody else
don't do it for us first!
Seemed to me
she might have got hold
on her natural meanness
for her own daughter's funeral
at least.
I guess she hated my daddy
more than she loved my mama.
It didn't seem proper to me.
I think at a funeral everybody
should love everybody else.
Starletta, wait up.
My mama says
your mama passed on.
That's why
you wasn't at school?
My mama said to say
she's real sorry
and she hopes
she'll come by soon
to say it her own self.
You're going to have to catch up
on your homework.
How you doing?
What's in the box?
Just some beads
And things.
My Mama used to let me
play with that.
She won't be letting you
play with it anymore.
You tell your daddy
the message is
plain and simple.
Now get it right.
You listening?!
You tell him
that I'd rather some tramp
had my Charlotte's things
than any of you bunch
that drink and carry on
like trash.
I'm sorry, hon.
Hi, honey!
I just stopped by
to see how you
getting along.
Is your daddy here?
He's not home much anymore.
Where is he?
I don't know.
Sometimes he comes
home to sleep
but I think
all he's doing now
is drinking and sleeping.
What you doing?
Playing catalog.
What's that?
First I pick out
a little family
and then house stuff
and clothes.
Sleepwear and fancy jackets
for the man and pantsuits
and I outfit everybody...
the mom and the dad
and the kids.
The kids are cute.
Next, they get some camping
equipment and a waffle iron
and bedroom suits and some toys.
And the daddy
who works in a factory
and the mama...
she works at a bank.
They like to dress up
after work.
And I also find the best values.
That's real clever.
How you doing
for food?
You eating regular?
What are you eating?
Frozen stuff
from the store
in tin things.
TV dinners?!
I guess.
How are you fixed
for money?
Uncle Rudolph's
still bringing it.
He is?
Not as much as before, though.
Why is he giving us
the money anyway?
It's not Rudolph
giving you the money.
I thought
you knew that.
How am I supposed to know?
Nobody tells me anything.
Who is?
Your grandma.
She's the one
that's been giving us
all the money?
For your mother.
Mama's dead.
Well, I guess
she just...
doesn't have it
in her heart
to starve a child,
despite her feelings.
Don't tell her
I told you that.
It's supposed
to be a secret.
Well, how could
I tell her?
She hasn't hardly said
two words in a row
to me in my whole life.
Well, she never been
too good about children
even her own.
Except for your mother,
She was her favorite.
The sun never set
on Charlotte.
Which one
of these hats
do you think looks
better on her?
This one or...
or this one?
We got to do something.
Like what?
I don't know. Something.
She can't be on
her own over there
with that drunk,
eating TV dinners.
It's Charlotte's fault
for marrying him
in the first place.
That's water and
bridges, Nadine.
We're talking about now.
Well, there's nothing
we can do about it.
Why not?
He's her father.
He needs a stepstool
to look a worm
in the eye.
He's still her father.
She should be
with real family.
Why don't you take her?
Might do you good
to have a kid around.
Why would you say that
knowing how I feel
about children?
If I wanted a kid,
I would have gotten married.
Besides, if I took her
I'd have to deal
with Mama all the time.
The less I do
with Mama, the better.
Why can't you take her?
No. Dora hates her.
My nerves couldn't stand it.
Also, she makes me nervous.
I guess I know
what you mean.
She can be weird
She reminds me
of Charlotte sometimes
when Charlotte was her age.
You were always
jealous of Charlotte.
Oh, look who's talking.
Let's not get into it.
Water and bridges.
Big smile now.
Do you believe
in Santa Claus?
Sure I do. You?
Uh-uh. I'm glad I don't.
Like my daddy says
"Wish in one hand
and spit in the other.
See which one
gets filled up first. "
I won't be going
spitting in my hand.
That's disgusting.
My mama said she believed
in Santa Claus
lots longer than I did.
I think she wanted me
to believe in him longer.
But that was
in the old days
when she was little.
Things change.
I think you're
missing something
not believing
in Santa Claus.
I'm going to
believe in him
as long as I can.
Then you got
a good wishing hand.
You want to see
what I got
for your Mama and daddy?
It's pretty.
What's it for?
Putting spoons in.
I believe
my mom's got one of them.
Well, now she's got two.
Hey, boy, hey!
A merry Christmas!
It is Christmas Day,
isn't it?
Why, of course.
I knew I hadn't
missed it!
All the spirits
have done it all
in one night!
It couldn't be like
it used to be with Mama
but it's a long time
till next Christmas.
Maybe things will turn around
by then.
Well, would you look
here at this?
Always use
one of these.
Keeps your spoons
from dripping on the stove.
I figured maybe
you can use one.
Never can have enough
of these.
Well, it looks to me
like we got
one more present here.
Says... "To Ellen, from Santa. "
I think this child here
is the only one
we know called "Ellen. "
Ain't that right?
Right as rain.
For me?
You have been a good girl,
What is it?
Well, open it up, child.
Open it up!
Open it up!
Oh, it's a sweater!
It sure is.
Can I put it on?
I'd like to put it on right now
if that's okay.
Put it right on.
pretty, Mama, ain't it?
Oh, it just suits
her perfect.
Couldn't be prettier.
I was sort of in need
of a sweater.
I have to go
pretty soon.
Got to get home.
Your daddy
home tonight?
Haven't seen hide
nor hair of Daddy
in two or three days.
Well, why don't you
stay here?
What are you gonna
when you get back?
I'll stay busy.
You come on back here
whenever you want to.
If your daddy
ain't home
when you get there
you come right on back
over here, you hear?
You come right on back.
To stay?
How do you mean, honey?
To stay, all the time,
Why would you want
to stay here
all the time,
I like it
much better here
now that my mom's
not home anymore.
You got to be missing
your mama real bad.
We know that.
Honey, we would take you in
in a minute if we could.
Why can't you?
Don't you like me enough?
'Course we like you.
We're very fond, Ellen.
You know that.
It's okay
if you don't.
No hard feelings.
Truth of it is,
we wouldn't be allowed
to take you in
Allowed by who?
Other folks.
What other folks?
Who'd care?
There's folks that just
wouldn't tolerate it.
Well, why the heck not?
'Cause we're different colors,
you and us.
But that don't matter anymore.
We got integration.
Not altogether,
Not altogether.
But it wouldn't be
anybody's business but us.
There's those would make it
their business
and that's just the way of it.
Now you're welcome
to come here
and visit us
anytime you please
but that other part...
Well, it ain't in the cards
just yet.
Now y'all finish
your food
so we can get
some of that
sweet potato pie.
"To everything
there is a season
"and a time to every purpose
under the heaven.
"A time to be born
and a time to die;
"a time to plant
"and a time to pluck up
that which is planted;
"a time to kill
and a time to heal;
"a time to break down
and a time to build up;
"a time to weep
and a time to laugh;
"a time to mourn...
and a time to dance. "
This one's for you.
This one's for
your lowlife brother.
May he choke on it.
Thank you, ma'am.
Thank you.
Now, who told you
you could do that?
Who told you you could do it?
Nobody told me.
I had to.
Oh, you had to.
You had to steal my money.
I wasn't stealing.
Stuff had to be paid.
They shut down the
electric last month.
Don't you remember?
Get in the closet.
Get in there!
Get in there!
I pay the bills
around here!
Any bills to be paid,
I pay them!
You understand that?!
I'm the man
of this house!
I didn't hit you.
You hear me?
I didn't hit you.
Remember that.
In the dark I gathered my head
and all that spinning
and flying out from me
and wondered.
Oh, you have to wonder
what this world's come to.
This is Ellen.
I-I'm fine.
How are you?
I was wondering
if I-I could come stay with you.
What do you want to do
this weekend?
Well, do you still have
that fancy bathtub
with the thing in it?
The Jacuzzi?
I guess.
Must be neat to have
a bath in that.
You want to take a bath
in my Jacuzzi?
You got it.
Just make yourself
right at home.
Then we'll go shopping.
What happened to your face?
I fell.
Having fun?
We're going to have
a lovely day tomorrow
and then I'll take
you back after supper.
Take me back where?
After supper tomorrow.
I asked if I could come
and stay with you
and you said fine.
And I got all the stuff
I brought back
in your bedroom closet.
Oh, hon, I meant you could
stay for the weekend
and then go back home.
What did you
think I meant?
That I could come
and stay with you.
Well, sorry about
that misunderstanding.
Me, too.
Little more clay slip, Jocelyn.
These are looking great,
you guys.
Try a little more color
right in there
why don't you?
Which color?
Surprise me.
What happened
to your face, Ellen?
I fell.
Let me see.
It's okay.
We only want to help you, Ellen.
You understand that, don't you?
We know things have been
a bit difficult for you
since your mother passed on.
We just want to do
whatever we can
to help you
through this difficult time.
You can tell us the truth,
You don't have to be frightened.
You remember last winter
when the lady
from Social Services came by
to talk to your dad?
Well, she did.
We understand
you've been having
some difficulties at home.
Now, did you really
fall down the stairs?
My daddy did it.
But I'm used to it.
Don't everyone get in an uproar
about it.
Do you have somewhere
you could spend the night, hon?
Well, I live in a house
just like everyone else.
No, Ellen,
not your house.
Let's get someone to come
pick you up after school
and I'll take care of getting
your things from your house.
Who do you know to call?
Do you have
any aunts or uncles, say?
I already wore out my welcome.
Can I have a word, gentlemen?
Okay, hon, it's settled.
We've decided
what to do with you.
Home sweet home, kiddo.
What about my daddy?
We'll take care of that.
Don't you worry, okay?
He probably won't miss me
for about a month, anyways.
Miss Hammond, I presume.
This is my husband, Ellen.
Roy, say hello
to Ellen Hammond.
Hello, Ellen Hammond.
Two's company,
three's a joy.
Come in.
Come in, come in,
come in, come in.
This is the guest room.
So here's what's happening.
Social Services is going
to talk to your dad tomorrow.
You know what
Social Services is?
They take care of folks
who need taking care of.
Right. Then I'm going
to go over to your house
with one of them
and we're going
to get your stuff
and bring it over here.
You can make a list
of anything you especially want
any of your stuff,
and we'll get it.
Well, I could go with you.
It'd be lots quicker.
No, uh-uh.
It'll take some time
to work things out
but everything's going
to be fine, okay?
Just... go with the flow.
Bathroom's downstairs.
So when you're ready
why don't you come down
and help me fix dinner?
What's he doing out there?
Drying lettuce.
You're not from
around here, are you?
We're from Connecticut.
We always liked the South.
So when we finished college
we decided to
settle down here
and have a family.
I used to be
a flower child.
You know what
a flower child is?
A kid with flowers.
Not exactly.
Close, though.
But now I have
to be low-key
so I can hold
a steady job.
Oh, boy,
when I was young, kiddo
I wanted to save the world.
What from?
From people like your father.
You mean there's
more like him?
Lots more. Too many.
My Aunt Nadine says
my daddy was a mistake
for a person.
Right on, Aunt Nadine.
So, you have a
birthday coming up.
Boy, I forgot.
How'd you know?
Your school records.
I looked it up.
What do you have in mind
by way of a celebration?
What would you do
if you was me?
Were me.
Were me.
How about a party?
The only girl good enough
to invite is Starletta.
Starletta wouldn't be a party
by herself.
We'll find out.
Hey, do you like gardening?
We have a vegetable garden.
I used to help my mama.
She liked to work
in the garden
in the morning
when it was cool.
She would pull up the weeds
and put them in little piles
along the rows
and my job was to pick up
the piles and dispose of them.
When the beans were grown,
ready to pick
she'd let me help pick them.
She'd give me an example
of a good bean
to hold up in one hand
while I picked with the other.
If I wasn't sure
about a particular bean
if it was at the right stage
for picking
I could just hold up my example
of a good bean and know.
It took a long time
to pick that way.
My Mama always hummed
in the garden.
That was when I was little.
What's a flower child?
I didn't have a birthday
last year.
How come?
My mama was too sick.
Okay, have a look-see.
What am I looking at?
You're looking
at euglena.
It's my favorite.
I think it might make
a nice name for a girl.
I might keep it in mind
if I ever get a baby girl.
I also have diatoms on a slide
and one of a paramecium
but euglena's my favorite.
Come and get it, birthday girl.
Thank you, guys.
Starletta, hold on.
Cake, balloons.
Thank you.
Bye, darling.
I'm real pleased you
looked up my birthday.
Me, too.
Watch out, you dummy!
# The Tennessee Waltz. #
What in the world?
Ellen Hammond!
You better get out here
right now!
You better
get on out here!
Ellen, you better get out here
right now!
You don't want me
coming in there.
Call the police.
You all get back
to your desks.
Back to your desks
right now.
Do you know
this person?
He's my daddy.
You get your little britches
out here right now
before I count to three
or you're going to rue the day!
Daddy, go home! You're getting
everyone in an uproar.
Go home.
Hey! Hey, I'm counting here!
I said three.
Get out here!
Oh, you're asking for it now.
You're asking for it!
Hey, I just want
my kid out of there.
Ain't nobody going
to stop me, all right?
Mr. Hammond, please.
I will get my little
baby girl out, all right?
Mr. Hammond, please.
Please, nothing.
That's my baby girl
in there.
You understand?
I'm going to get her out.
I can take care of her.
Hey! I got money.
I got money.
I understand, sir...
That's a public school.
My girl is
in a public school.
You want some of me?!
Want a piece of me?!
Oh, my.
Get your damned hands
off of me!
They stole
my little girl!
She's in for it now.
You ain't got the right!
They stole my little girl!
I'm her father!
Hey! They stole
my little girl!
That's my little girl!
You're sure there isn't
going to be any problem?
That would be
very unlikely.
I don't want there
to be any problems.
It would be
very unlikely.
Who believes it?
The authorities...
the legal authorities.
They generally believe
that children should be
with their families
when it's
at all feasible.
Well, if we were walking
down the street
everybody would think
we was a family.
We think so, too.
This is such a bummer.
They going to send me
back to my daddy?
No. Not your daddy.
Well, who, then?
Your Honor,
I just want you to know...
I'm not really interested...
He has no right
to say anything...
Would you...?
Would you please sit down?
They just want to take her...
Sir, sit down!
They talked
mainly above my head
and usually, I can jump in
and hang on
to what people are saying
but I felt so dazey in my head
that not a word made sense.
Then the judge
who was up in the box
he talked right to me
for the first time.
Ellen, honey
I have grandchildren of my own...
six of them,
to be exact...
and if any
solitary one of them
was ever in a,
in a difficult situation
and needed caring
in a special way
because of that situation
I wouldn't hesitate
for one minute
to clasp him or her to my bosom
and cherish and protect
him or her.
The family is
the cornerstone of society
and when it begins to crumble
we are bound to rush in
with mortar
and bricks and whatever
else there is to hand
to shore it up.
I know that
you're old enough
and clever enough
to understand
and I'll say it again:
The family is
the cornerstone of society.
Do I get a chance
to say something?
No, you don't. Now, hold
it right there, please.
But, Judge...
Just hold, please.
What could she possibly
have to say, Judge?
This matter
has been concluded
as far as I can see.
Can't we please find out
what's on her mind?
After all she is the bone
of contention here!
And I think it's only fair
that she gets to put
her two cents in.
Now you speak right up, honey.
All that stuff you've
been saying about the family
and the cornerstone
of society?
I heard about that in school
but if you don't mind me
saying as families
you've got us mixed up
with a different bunch of folks.
Ever since my mama died
things have been
like she used to say sometimes:
"Up in the air. "
When I asked her
what was going to happen
about one thing or another,
she'd often say
"Well, that's up in the air
just at this moment. "
Well, then, along came
Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs
and they just pulled me
right down
from all that floating.
Judge, I protest!
Mrs. Nelson.
I can't figure out why
my mama's mama wants me.
She don't even like me.
I don't even remember her
looking at me nice
in my whole life
though I don't know why.
Have we had enough of this?
Have we?
Mrs. Nelson,
justice for all in my court.
Please. Justice for all!
Plus, it beats me
why a person can't live
with whoever they like best
and who likes them best
so I'm just hoping
you'll let me.
I guess that's all my two cents.
Kid's got a mouth on her,
ain't she?
Honey... Ellen.
I surely do appreciate
your giving us
your side of the story,
and you may be even right
about a couple of things
here and there
but the fact of the matter is
that when it comes to family
blood is blood
and the law
is the law.
When you grow up,
you'll understand
and I surely hope
you'll thank me for it.
My ruling stands.
This hearing
is concluded.
That's okay.
I'd rather go
to reform school
or get on a chain gang
than go stay with her.
So would we.
She makes a knot in me
just thinking
about her face.
We'll have visits.
I wouldn't count on letting
her visit if I was you.
Were you.
Were you.
When does school
start again?
Well, it just ended
and I sure am looking forward
to the summer at your house.
I asked you
when school starts.
I do not need
the commentary.
If I'd have known then
all I know about her now
I would have jumped out
of that big car moving
and hightailed it.
It's big.
Good thing, too.
You won't be under my feet
every minute of the day.
Show her where
she's staying.
Maybe some of her mama
will rub off on her
staying in that room.
Yes, ma'am.
How you doing,
Miss Ellen?
Remember me?
We done met before.
I'm Mavis.
my mama's clothes.
That's me.
Come on along, then.
This place is heaps fancier
than the one you was living in.
Does anyone else
live here?
Just your grandma...
till you, now.
I ain't much
to fill it up.
Need a lot more
like you to fill up this place.
Don't you live here?
Lord, no, child.
Me and Alvin
got our place out back.
Who's Alvin?
Alvin's my husband.
Drives your grandma's car.
Here you go.
Used to be
your mama's room.
You knew my mama?
Since she was about
like you are now.
And this was
her bedroom?
Sure was.
Not a lot of changes, neither.
Not since the night
she run off.
Run off where?
To be with your daddy...
'fore he was your daddy
of course.
Yeah, I know Miss Charlotte
good as I know myself.
I never knowed nobody
sweet like your mama.
Smart as a whip, too.
She was?
Lord, yes.
Maybe you're
smart like her
since you were
her little girl.
I don't know.
Yep, your mama
was her mama's favorite
of the bunch
and you know, the others
didn't care for that...
not Miss Nadine,
Miss Betsy
Not even Mr. Robert.
Who's he?
Mr. Robert?
That was your grandma's boy.
He passed a long time ago.
Throwed off a horse
at the age of 16.
Between me and you
and the fence post
I'd say your grandma
went peculiar
the night Miss Charlotte run off
and since she passed...
rest her soul...
well, I'd call her
downright touched
your grandma.
Don't you go telling her
I said that.
Lord, child.
You look just like your mama.
Got them beautiful eyes.
Why don't you
go wash up a bit
then come on down
to the kitchen
and I'll introduce you
to Rosaleen.
Rosaleen does the cooking
I do the taking care.
how is your missus?
Much better.
Thanks for asking.
I'm so glad.
Good morning,
Miss Ellen.
Good morning.
You go sit down and
give this baby to me.
Here we go.
We're going to sit down.
Yes. We're going to sit down.
Things are going
to be okay.
Stop that.
Aw, yeah, girl.
You'll be fine.
Yes, you are.
You're going to be fine.
my little honey bun.
You'll be having your dinner
in here on Sundays.
The other days, you'll eat
in the kitchen with the help.
You hear me?
That's trash talk.
Say, "yes, ma'am. "
Yes, ma'am.
And in case
you have it in your mind
that you'll be lazing
around here
like the Queen of Sheba,
get it right out.
Idle hands do
the devil's mischief.
Don't you break that.
Why aren't you eating?
I'm not awful hungry
just at present.
I hate picky eaters.
We'll need
to work you up an appetite.
Am I going to be working?
Oh, you bet.
Am I going to get paid?
You're getting
your room and board.
You're a greedy one, aren't you?
What will I be working at?
She didn't pay me a cent
but I kept figuring up
how much I was worth
by the hour.
You being
real careful, child.
She hasn't broken a thing yet
in these couple of weeks.
Don't bear thinking
about it if she did.
Can I make
a telephone call?
You're not to be
calling far.
I don't know
anybody far.
Who you calling,
Just a friend
of mine.
I'd say you better
be doing it
while your grandmama's
not home.
I'd say
that's the way.
It's me... Ellen.
Oh, it's so good
to hear your voice.
How you doing, sweetie?
I was wondering
if you want to visit my mama.
What do you mean, hon?
Well, it would have
to be Thursday
this one coming.
It'll be the first year
since she's passed.
Thursday is when her mama
gets her hair fixed
so she won't know.
I don't think
your grandmother would mind
you going to visit
your mother, hon.
Don't count on it.
There ain't much
she doesn't mind.
Isn't much.
Isn't much.
Can we get some flowers
to put down?
There it is, over there.
I would have loved
to have known your mom.
She would have been
real fond of you.
I'm going to take
a little walk.
Why don't you hang out here
for a while?
I think the two of you
would have gotten along
real good.
Maybe you're looking down on me
and feeling fairly okay
about me being her friend
but she ain't anything like you.
She could never be
my mama like you.
But Julia, she'd be my...
first second choice
if you know what I mean.
But don't you worry
about me being with your mama.
I'm going to manage it
one way or another.
And like you used to say,
"Nothing's forever"
Though it does seem like it
I'm doing okay in school.
Don't worry, okay?
He's been put
away for a long time
your trash of a father.
Beat a man to death
fighting in a tavern.
They threw the book at him.
As long as
they threw away the key
after they threw the book.
One, no trump.
That's 700 points
for our side.
You want to
play another?
Excuse me, ma'am.
There's somebody
here to see you.
Mr. Rudolph, ma'am.
Excuse me, ladies.
Oh, thank you.
What the devil
do you want?
Our business
is concluded.
Yes, ma'am.
I understand.
I just come by
to drop something off.
Uh, something
for Ellen.
Her... Bill's medal.
What are you
talking about?
The medal he
got in 'Nam...
Bill was a veteran, you know.
And should have
come back in a box.
Not walking to torment
my daughter some more
till the day she died.
Well, with the house
up for sale
I've been over there
cleaning up some
and that's how I come
across it... the medal.
I thought
it'd be nice
for Ellen
to have it...
Her daddy's Purple Heart.
Get out of my house.
Get out!
Y-Yes, ma'am.
I'll just leave that
right there.
That's for you, Ellen.
Well, we need to make up.
Have another one here.
Thank you, honey.
I hope nobody's peeked
a look at my cards.
What in the dickens
is that woman doing?
She didn't have
to do that.
# O perfect love #
# All human thought
transcending #
# Lowly, we kneel #
# In prayer before thy throne #
# That theirs may be #
# The love
which knows no ending #
# Whom thou
for-er-more doth join #
# In one. #
Please be seated.
Please listen
as I read
Chapter four,
Verse five...
Who's that lady?
What lady?
That one there
with all the kids.
What do you care?
I was just wondering.
She looked
like a real special mama.
I bet she was the perfect one
for all those kids.
She was like someone
having a nice dream
and they turn out to be real.
Don't know what happened, ma'am,
but we got her into bed though.
Mavis is seeing
to her right now.
Well, did you call a doctor?
Sure did... same doctor was here
when she had the flu
last winter.
Says he's on his way over.
She still alive?
What's happened?
Your mama
has suffered a stroke.
Shouldn't she be
in the hospital?
Have you made arrangements?
She wouldn't let me.
Wouldn't let you
put her in a hospital?
Adamant refusal
was her response
to my repeated suggestion.
Says hospitals
are where you die.
How bad off is she?
It was a relatively
mild incident.
Can we see her?
I've given her
a sedative.
I'll leave a couple
of prescriptions.
Fill them
as soon as possible.
Give them to me.
I'll go get them
at the drugstore.
I'll be back
in the morning.
Prevail on her
to be hospitalized
if you can.
What a bummer.
Well, isn't this a mess?
It could have been
worse, I guess.
I-It didn't kill her.
I've heard of people
with strokes...
they'd rather be dead.
Not to mention the people
who have to take
care of them.
The timing's rotten.
My trip... New Orleans...
I'm leaving Monday.
Do you think you
might want to think
about canceling
that, Betsy?
Let's see how it goes.
He said it was mild.
Probably one of us should
move in here for a while.
Who did you
have in mind?
What about you?
Well, I'm
not doing it.
A nurse, then...
around the clock.
Fine. There's no refund
on the airfare.
I wonder if she
made a will.
She'd better have.
Maybe you should call
the lawyer.
You helped him, didn't you?
Helped who? What?
Your daddy, that lowlife.
Helped him how?
To kill my Charlotte.
I never did.
There. You best take
better care of me
than you did your mama.
Can I ask you
a question?
Like what?
Well, I know you hated my daddy.
But what about me?
Can't you see I'm not like him?
All I know is, when I look
at your face, I see that trash
and everything
he did to my Charlotte.
But I didn't do anything.
You set up there in that house
like the world owed you a living
and you left her to die.
Then someone comes
to my house
and tells me
that they found you
all laid up next to her
like a little idiot.
That lowlife never got
what was coming to him
but I swear...
you will never stop paying
for your part.
I've got you now.
Sometimes I was scared
that she was right
about me not taking
better care of my mama.
So I tried the best I could
to take of her
figuring maybe Jesus
would give me a break
when it came my time to pass.
Aunt Nadine?
This is Ellen.
She's passed.
Well, at least you didn't die
and lay up in the house
all alone
no one to hear you
stop breathing.
I think everyone should have
someone there
to know
when they stop being alive.
So here I am.
You'll look nice when they come,
pretty as a picture.
I don't want a soul to say
that I didn't do my part...
to the fullest.
Later on I reminded Jesus
that I did lots better
for my grandma
than I did for my mama.
I hoped
he'd give that some thought
and help me find somebody good
who could love me.
If you do
I'll run away!
Now calm down,
Calm yourself down.
How could you
do that to me?
Well, because
somebody has to.
I hate her!
Oh, now listen...
I'm not too crazy
about her myself.
Oh, but if there was
any other solution
I'd jump at it,
believe you me.
But the judge says
we have to take her...
and we're stuck
with it, baby.
I think that room's
going to do you fine...
don't you, Ellen?
Though I'm getting
real weary
of packing and unpacking
my stuff in so many places.
Is that bag everything you have?
All my worldly possessions.
Just stay out
of my room, is all.
Well, why shouldn't I?
We have to pick you up a few
more things... some clothes.
Would you
like that?
I'm growing out of stuff.
Maybe some of Dora's dresses
might fit you
that she doesn't
wear anymore.
She's not wearing my clothes.
Well, there's some things that
you don't wear
anymore, pumpkin.
I don't care if
I wear them or not.
She's not wearing
any of my clothes.
Well, who wants to wear
your old clothes anyways?
Girls, girls.
We'll go shopping
next week.
You'll need new things
for school anyway
which, need I remind you
starts again
the week after next.
Who wants to be reminded
of that?
Well, I kind of favor school.
You would.
Well, you could turn me loose
in the store with some money
and I could get exactly
what I have to have.
We'll see.
Come and get it.
Is that my imagination
or are your hands shaking
the teensiest
little bit?
They've been doing that
now and again of late.
Wonder what that could be?
Are you feeling nervy?
Could you please
pass me the bread?
Stay out of my room.
How many doughnuts did it take?
You got new jeans.
They're cool.
Where you at now?
At my Aunt Nadine's.
She's Sora Banning's mother.
She stay there, too?
It's her house.
Poor you.
She told me to stay out
of her room...
so I went right in
the first chance I got
when they were gone.
I rambled through that room
top to bottom.
Romance books in the back
of her underwear drawer.
You name it.
She ain't got
a secret from me.
Her mama would be shocked
at the stuff I came across.
Isn't the first day
of school
just about
the worst day
of the year?
You can say
that again.
How you doing,
How are you,
Miss Hobbs?
I'm very well,
thank you.
Ellen, stay after class
for sec, okay?
ll right.
So then what
did he say?
Honey, you don't
want to know.
We're talking nightmare.
Okay, everybody,
smocks in the basket.
Don't forget to bring in
autumn leaves tomorrow.
Ellen, I'll see you
after school, okay?
So, Que pasa?
It's Spanish.
It means
"What's happening?"
What's happening...
Que pasa?
How's it going?
Well, Dora hates my guts.
What's your Aunt Nadine like?
She wouldn't be anyone's
first pick for a mama
if you had your pick.
She got me some new clothes.
This is new.
I found the most
beautiful dress
I ever saw.
And it was just with
the ordinary dresses
and I said,
"This is the dress for me. "
And the price was right.
And it's like...
it's just the kind of dress
you catch someone's eye with.
And when
I put it on
and I looked
in the mirror
I just said
"Lord, I could just fall
right in love with myself. "
I have something
to tell you.
Roy and I
are going away.
Well, where to?
Atlanta, Georgia.
An old friend of ours
from college
has a terrific
job for Roy.
So, we're
going to go.
And we're going to have a baby.
You are?
Around next spring.
Well, if it's a girl baby,
Euglena's a good name.
We'll put it on the list.
I wish you weren't going.
We'll write to you.
Will you
write back?
Boy, are we going to miss you.
Thanks for wanting
to keep me that time.
You're a keeper.
Hello, Mrs. Abigail.
Hello, Reverend.
Do you know that lady?
What lady?
Her with
all the girls.
It's a foster family.
A foster family?
Mama says she'll
take in anything
from crippled orphans
to stray cats.
Oldest girl has a baby
out of wedlock.
Take them in where?
In her house, stupid.
You know where
she lives?
In a big blue house
by the school
the little kids go to.
Just wondering.
I'm trying
to figure out
how to get
a new mama.
Can't get a new mama.
Only got one mama
and your one's dead.
I think maybe
you can get a new one
if you figure it out right.
I was a bit confused.
Then I figured out the way
it must be.
It must be that
the foster family lived in it
but somebody named Montford
owned it.
And then I knew
I'd got it right.
Are you looking
for somebody, darlin'?
No, ma'am.
Just riding around
hither and yon.
You see what I mean?
It's most curious.
When did
this start?
Last week sometime.
She does it on everything
she turns in.
Have you asked her
about it?
No. I try to be
careful about her.
She's had a hard time,
this child.
Her family dying off
right and left.
You know, I never once
seen her smile.
How has she progressed
since last term,
would you say?
Same as ever,
as far as I can tell.
The only child she seems
at all close to
is that colored girl,
Starletta Douglas.
Emotionally isolated...
insecure as to her
social skills...
home environment.
You're the doctor.
So how are you today, Ellen?
I understand
from Mrs. Cudahy
and some of your other teachers
that you still don't seem
to be making any progress
in the social way.
I don't want to be social.
I might after I get
my own business straight.
What business is that?
Personal stuff.
I think he liked it
when I wasn't too friendly...
because if everyone was
friendly and sweet
he wouldn't have a job.
I understand from your teachers
that you've taken to signing
your papers differently.
Did you realize that?
Well, sure I realized it.
You've been signing "Foster"
as your last name.
You do realize that?
Well, I guess I know
my last name, all right.
Uh-huh, okay...
Then tell me your name.
Ellen Foster.
But that isn't your last name.
Your name
is Hammond.
Ellen Hammond.
Would you like
to talk about it?
About what?
About why you're
using that name.
You see, Ellen...
sometimes children
such as yourself
who've experienced
a high degree
of distress
tend to have
identity problems.
It's not uncommon
for such a child
to pretend he's...
She's somebody else, you see?
So what matters is
that you open up
and talk to me.
Get that pain out
of Ellen Hammond
and she won't have
to be Ellen Foster.
Tell me what you're thinking.
It's okay.
It may not be the name
God or my mama gave me
but that's my name now.
My old family
kind of wore the other one out.
And I figured
I could start practicing
my new name
of my new family
for when they are
my new family.
It's a clean, fresh name.
I notice your hands
are trembling a bit.
Are you frightened,
I used to be scared
but I'm getting to be
not so scared anymore.
See, Ellen, the problem
isn't in the name.
The problem is
why you think
you need a new name.
Well, I just told you.
You're the one who's mixed up.
Well, why don't we discuss it
some more next week.
I don't plan on discussing
anything with you next week
or any other time.
Excuse me.
So long.
Oh, yes!
Sweet pumpkin, that's
a perfect place for that one.
It's pulling down the branch?
So what?
Ellen, what would you like
for Christmas
by way of a present?
Well, you already got me
all that stuff
and clothes and all.
But it's Christmas!
Everybody in this house
gets a present
don't they, pumpkin?
Well, I could use
a handypack of white paper.
Oh! Writing paper?
No. The painting kind?
I only got four sheets left.
Is that all?
It's all I can think of
right now.
How you doing
with that tinsel, sweetie?
It's sweet.
All that mattered was that
this time would be different
from last year.
And what with Christmas spirit
I figure maybe they'll both
get to like me after all...
though you have to be careful
with dreaming like that
especially with people
you don't know good.
I'm going to make them
a present.
What you going to make?
I'm going to make them
a picture
for them to hang
on the wall.
Miss Hobbs always said
you were real good
at picture painting.
It has to be a picture
of something friendly
they'd like.
Maybe some cats
or a bunch of flowers.
I don't think they'd care for
one of my experiment pictures
or a brooding ocean.
A what?
Well, that's where the ocean
looks real strong and beautiful
and sad all at the same time.
They wouldn't like it
'cause it looks so evil
when you first look at it.
They would miss the point.
I paint a lot
of brooding oceans.
And I can paint cats
a heap easier
than brooding oceans anyways.
So, they get fuzzy cats.
King me.
Let me see how you're
doing there, sweetie.
Oh, you're
the Christmas angel.
Look how perfect
that is.
Um, I want to give you
my present tonight
instead of waiting
for tomorrow, okay?
Oh! Well, that'd be
very nice, Ellen.
You bet.
So, what do
you think?
Well, Ellen,
that's really nice.
Did you trace it?
No, I didn't trace it.
I painted it my own self
for you and your mama to hang
anywhere you see fit.
Why, it's awful
sweet of you, honey.
We'll hang that up first
thing in the morning.
What's wrong with right now?
Well, that picture
needs a frame, honey.
A picture as pretty as that
calls for a nice frame.
I already got
some nice frames
I made out of
colored paper.
You can pick
the one you like best.
We can assemble
the whole business tonight.
We going to put some old
tacky paper frame
on our wall?
Oh, Dora, be nice.
This is so cute!
It's not supposed to be cute.
She's lying, Mama.
I bet she traced those cats.
No, I did not trace them.
I painted them my own self
and you're just too stupid
and selfish and fat
to appreciate a present
made special for you
instead of spending a fortune
on something out of the store!
How dare you speak to my Dora
in that manner!
You need a good
Touch me, I'll kill you.
I had enough getting beat up
from my own daddy.
Don't you dare
kill my Mama!
You killed your own
mama and my grandma.
I want you out of here.
Do you hear me?!
I didn't want you to begin with
and neither did Betsy;
nobody wants you.
I'll call that judge
first thing in the morning
right in his own home,
Christmas or no Christmas
and get you
out of my house.
Mama, there's
butter in my hair.
Oh, baby,
I'm so sorry.
You won't have to be calling
any judges.
# Joy to the world! #
# The Lord has come #
# Let earth receive her king #
# Let every heart
prepare him room... #
Hi, pookie... hi...
# And heaven and nature sing #
# And heaven and heaven
and nature sing #
# Joy to the world! #
# The Savior reigns #
# Let men their songs employ #
# While fields and floods,
rocks, hills and plains #
# Repeat the sounding joy... #
Is Mrs. Foster home?
You must have the wrong house.
Nobody named Foster
lives here.
Isn't this the
Foster family house?
Oh, well, yeah,
we're the foster family
but her name is Montford.
It says it right
on the mailbox.
Didn't you see
the mailbox?
I guess I had it
figured out wrong.
Is she home?
What's this?
Somebody looking for you.
# What child is this... #
Are you looking
for me?
Why don't you come on in
out of the cold
for starters?
What's your name?
Are you lost, honey?
No, ma'am.
And you're looking for me?
You look a bit familiar.
Have I seen you
someplace before?
Maybe at church.
And I was outside
your house one time.
Yes, now I remember.
Well, why don't you
take your coat off
and tell me
what's happening?
"Que pasa?"
Who taught you that?
A friend of mine.
Oh, my, what
a pretty dress!
I wanted to look good.
You like hot chocolate?
I'm very fond
of hot chocolate.
My mama used to say
that hot chocolate's
one of the most comforting
things in life...
on-on a cold day.
Tell me, honey, have you
run away from home?
No, but I need
a place to stay.
What do you think
about me staying here?
Are you sure you
didn't run away?
I bet your
mama and daddy
are pretty worried
about you right now.
My mama's dead
and my daddy's in jail
and I've been thrown
out of my aunt's house.
She showed me the door.
I see.
And how did you know
to come here?
I seen you in church,
you and your girls
and I asked Dora who you
were and she told me...
that's my cousin...
and I figured since you already
got some girls my size
you might be able
to squeeze
me in, too.
I see.
Well, I usually have children
referred to me by the court.
I never had a situation
like this.
Well, I got something
to help you make up your mind.
It's $166 there.
You can count it.
I saved it up from when before
my daddy was in jail.
Various sources
here and there.
Julia and Roy gave
me an allowance.
They've gone off now.
They're friends of mine.
I want to pay you
this money
so we can keep this
all on the up and up.
That way, you and
me can be even.
You get the money
and I can stay here till
I graduate from high school.
How does that sound to you?
Look, you put this
back in your pocket.
No deal, huh?
Tell you what
I'm going to do.
I have to get lots more
information about this situation
and first thing
in the morning
I'm going to call
County Social Services
and see if we can't
get the ball rolling.
I can't promise you anything.
That's okay.
I'm used to it.
It's okay, honey.
You're safe here.
Nobody else put up a fight
to get me.
Surprise, surprise.
There've been more
than plenty of days
when my new mama
has put my hands in hers
and said if we relax
and breathe slow together
I could slow down shaking.
And it always works.
Every day,
I try to feel a little better
about all that went on
when I was little.
I will eventually get it
straightened out in my head.
I came a long way to get here.
That will always amaze me.
Done by dCd / January 2015