Black Like Me (1964) Movie Script

What you looking
like that at me for?
Excuse me. I'm sorry.
I meant no harm.
They get sassier every day.
You give them an inch
and they take miles.
Don't you know better, man,
than to show them manners.
They is more
comfortable standing.
5-minute stop.
Hey, boy, where you going?
Hey, you boy!
I'm talking to you!
- Where do you think you're going?
- Restroom.
- What stop are you getting off at?
- Birmingham.
Then you can get back in your seat
and don't you move till we get there.
I can't be bothered rounding all you
people up when we get ready to go.
Some of them got off.
Are you arguing with me?
There ain't no call
for him to act like that.
They usually lets us off here.
Did you hear me call you?
No, sir, I sure didn't.
- You deaf?
- No, sir, I ain't deaf.
You mean to stand there and
tell me you didn't hear me call you?
No, sir.
Were you calling me?
I heard you calling "boy",
but I didn't think
you were calling me.
Hey, you.
I thought I told you
to get back to -
I'm getting off here.
Say, excuse me, could you tell me
where I could find a room?
You know anybody here?
Not a soul. I'm just
hitchhiking through town.
- Oh, a stranger.
- Yeah.
Well, that's bad.
In this town you just can't go out
and get a room just like that.
What about a hotel or a Y?
This is a mean place. I got
a married sister I stay with.
I'd ask you along, only she's
got 6 kids and no room at all.
- I'm Bill Mason.
- John Horton's my name.
Look, Mr Mason,
all I want to do is a rent a room.
Oh, you ever been
in this state before?
- No, I haven't.
- Oh, that's bad again.
You see, you...
You got to watch yourself
pretty close, until you catch on.
They claim this is the most lied-about
state in the union, and that's a fact!
Only it's them right here
that does all the lying!
Well, I'm from Texas.
Oh, now that's a million
to one, Texas and this place.
I'd better take care of you.
See, there's been
some trouble here.
Now, let me see,
where can I put you?
Well, I know,
let's go to Doc Collins'.
He'll find you
a place.
Well, I don't want to
cause you any trouble.
Oh, this is one place you don't
want to be found walking alone.
Plenty of people in this town,
white and colored,
knock you in the head if they
think you got any money on you.
- Don't do that.
- What?
In this town you can't even look
at a picture of a white woman.
Somebody will sure say,
"Hey, boy, who do you think you are,
looking at a white gal like that?"
Then wham,
you in a mess of trouble.
I surely appreciate
your putting me wise.
Well, any time I get over to
your county you do the same for me.
I sure will.
- Have you eaten?
- No.
We can get a bite
at Doc Collins'.
Oh, fine.
Well, now you seen them.
That's still going strong, eh?
Yeah, nearly caught us out there.
Evening, all.
- Evening, Mrs Hodges.
- Good evening, Mr Mason.
This is Mr Horton from Texas.
- Oh?
- How do you do? Nice to know you.
Doc Collins thought maybe you
could put him up for the night,
being that he's a
stranger in town.
Fine. Welcome.
Been trouble ever since we
started signing up to vote.
The other night they caught
a young boy out there alone,
beat him up and was gone
before he knew what happened.
Uh, I guess I can put you up.
It'll cost you $2.75
a night, all right?
That's all right.
Thank you.
Well, take care, Mr Horton.
Yes. See you around.
Thank you, Mr Mason.
Thanks for your trouble.
- Sure thing.
- I'll see you to your room.
- Good night, ladies.
- Good night.
I'll get you some water.
Thank you.
You're perfectly safe here.
We got us a rifle club.
Practise every Sunday.
They know about it, too.
I say, let them play
around all they want,
if they stay away from me.
I guess I'm not used
to this kind of thing.
You'll get a good
sound sleep here.
They know better to mess
around with this black man.
Good night.
Good night.
It's a crazy idea.
It's a hell of a crazy idea.
I thought you'd see it my way.
But it's out of the question.
I want to do a series
of articles, diary fashion.
They way I did on the school
integration in Shelby.
I've got to do it, Eli.
I was perfect for black and tan.
Will you carry?
- Nope.
- But it's timely.
This whole situation's
exploding right in our faces.
You go through with
this damn fool thing
and your little old hometown
of Shelby, Texas,
is going to explode right
in your face.
Fairfax, bring us
a couple of bourbons.
Johnny, just because you
got away with it once.
This is different.
This is different.
That was an assignment.
I was neutral, a reporter.
But this has got me
hooked personally.
I got to live it from the inside.
You lost a lot of friends then.
This time they're going to go after
your wife, your mother, your kids.
Your neighbors won't know you.
Your name will be mud.
You can't get away
with it twice, Johnny.
I don't expect
to "get away" with anything.
Weren't you the man,
the first man in this state,
to run a magazine
with a Negro staff?
I'm an eccentric millionaire.
A character.
It's a scoop, but it's
much too dangerous.
You've got to forget it.
You'd be in the worst
kind of neighborhoods,
fist fights... knifings.
- I ain't even worried about that.
- Oh, thank you, friend.
It's those rednecks that bother me.
I know that ignorant bunch.
They catch you just once
in that disguise and...
Well, it looks as though I'm going to
have to get somebody else
to run these articles.
You ain't going to
forget this, are you?
I figured you wouldn't.
You know you're a damn fool.
I know.
It'll make a great story.
When do you start?
You'll get the first installment
in a couple of months.
I plan to start right away.
- Johnny, will you do me one favor?
- Yeah.
Don't get yourself killed.
I'll do my best.
Why can't you stay
home and write?
I feel as though my whole
life has led up to this,
growing up here in Texas.
You know what that means, Lucy.
Things never mentioned,
but always there.
That deep undercurrent
always there.
And then France and studying there,
and a whole new world opening up.
Then the war, seeing
the Nazis in action.
Seeing the ultimate
consequences of hatred.
Then being blinded,
changing worlds again.
Lucy, I've got to do this.
Please try and understand.
It frightens me.
These things that other people do,
at least they have each other.
My way is not the way of others.
How will I know you're safe?
I'll write to you and I'll phone.
There's nothing to worry about.
I guess I can handle it.
This coffee stinks!
Damn punk niggers!
Look at you all!
You don't know how to act!
You don't know how to dress!
You don't deserve any better!
"Mein kampf."
- Do you speak German?
- No.
You're ignorant!
You make me sick.
You know where Juarez is?
Not really.
Juarez, is it in old Mexico
or New Mexico?
- Hmm?
- Old Mexico.
- I've been there many times.
- Don't lie to Christophe.
Christophe's got brains.
You never have
been to Juarez.
Sit down, man!
Sit down!
I'm glad you hit him.
I'd have to take his part.
Are you threatening me?
Look here, why don't you two
just agree not to talk, huh?
He don't say another word
to me, you promise?
He won't.
Will you?
- I guess not.
- Don't speak!
- Don't speak!
- All right.
You don't dig
the blues, do you, daddy?
I'm not sure.
I bet you'll dig this, daddy.
Tantum ergo Sacramentum
(Down in adoration falling)
Veneremur cernui:
(Lo! the Sacred Host we hail,)
Et antiquum docu-
(Lo! o'er ancient forms departing)
That got you,
didn't it... Father?
I'm not a priest.
Were you an altar boy?
I wanted to be a priest.
Don't believe anything he says.
I told you not
to talk to me. Shut up!
I came to sit by you
because you look like
the only one here with
sense enough to carry on
an intelligent conversation.
Thank you.
I'm not pure Negro.
My mother was French.
Part French.
My father... part Indian.
She was Portuguese,
my mother, a lovely woman.
Gee, I wonder what kind
of blood you got.
Give me a minute.
Christophe never makes a mistake.
I can always tell what kind
of blood a man's got in him.
No please.
I have it now.
Florida Navajo.
Your mother was
Florida Navajo, wasn't she?
Well, you're pretty sharp.
Christophe never misses.
I hate us, Father.
Look at those punks.
Those ignorant bastards.
I'm not a priest.
Ah, you can't fool Christophe.
I tell you the truth.
I am just out of
the pen. Four years.
I found my wife
with another guy.
Have you told
your priest about it?
I haven't been inside
a church for 17 years.
That is the only peace.
It's never too late to go back.
Now, I got to shoot up
a couple of guys.
Don't worry, daddy...
I'm going to watch out.
Come with me, we shoot
up these bastards
and have ourselves a time, eh?
Good-bye, Father.
- Mr Hodges.
- Mr Horton.
- Good afternoon.
- Afternoon.
Well, hard work.
It's about the Romans.
I like it.
I'll let you keep at it.
It makes me kind of homesick.
Do you play?
Oh, a little bit, sure.
Play something, please?
Nobody ever plays.
Yeah, do.
How long will it take, doctor?
Now, you can't rush this.
There's danger
of damage to the liver.
We'll keep a close check
for several weeks
to see if your system
can take it.
You can put your clothes on.
I'm anxious to get started.
Look here, this is a fairly
unprecedented procedure,
I'm sure you realize.
The only experience we have to
go on are cases of Vitiligo.
And then it's just 2 or 3
white spots we're trying to darken.
This is more complex.
I'll give you these
shots once a week.
You can supplement them with
sun lamp treatments at home.
I'm a long ways away from home.
Yeah, I know.
Incidentally, I need
your local address.
It's 25 Magnolia Drive.
I'm using a friend's apartment
while he's out of town.
He has no idea
what I'm trying to do.
Doctor, where can
I get a sun lamp?
They sell them
at the drugstore.
Now, you use it
morning and night.
10 minutes to start with.
We'll increase
the doses later on.
You take these pills twice a day.
In a few weeks you'll be black enough
your mother wouldn't know you.
How long will
the color last, doctor?
A few months.
Remember, if you leave off
the pills, your skin
will gradually get lighter.
You've got blue eyes.
I can't help you with that.
Well, I'll just have to
take my chances on that.
Personally, I don't think
you're going to stick it.
Is that a scientific
prognosis, doctor?
It's my considered medical opinion,
you're going to end up
with a knife in your back.
Well, thank you, doctor.
I suppose you know
why you're doing this.
Well, there are many reasons.
One of them is that
I was blinded in Korea.
It took me 6 years
to regain my sight.
I don't know quite how that has anything
to do with it, but it certainly does.
See, doctor, when you're blind,
there are no color differences.
You learn to see differently
and judge differently.
What good's it going to do,
whatever you find out?
Well, what I write
may make some people think.
It might, you know,
just because it is such a crazy idea.
I don't disagree with that.
Take care of yourself.
How do you do, Mrs Ingram?
You seem to know
everybody around here.
I never forgets a face,
nor a pair of shoes.
Well, I suppose it's
good for business.
I'm a stranger here myself.
I don't know a soul.
Well, there's lots to tour.
Well, I'm not exactly a tourist.
I'm a writer.
I'm doing a series of articles
on the South for a magazine.
Well, ain't that grand.
I guess I'm trying to find out
about living conditions,
race relations, changes.
How are things here
for the Negro?
Uh, this is a good town.
We ain't had no
trouble here, no, sir.
Everybody tends
their own business.
That's the way to get along,
tend to your own business.
Of course.
No, sir, I can't complain.
I makes a living, just tending my own
little business right here, that's all.
Thank you.
Nice job!
Keep the change.
Incidentally, my name's Horton.
I suppose you'll remember
me when I come back?
Just try me out, Mr Horton.
You'd be amazed.
- Hey, how you doing?
- All right.
- What is your name?
- Burt.
No, I mean your last name.
Well, thank you, Mr Wilson.
I'll see you again.
I'd be glad to
see you, Mr Horton.
Do come back.
And... anything you want to know
about this town, you just ask me.
Well, thank you, I will.
I will.
How are you, Burt?
Oh, mighty fine, thank you.
How are you?
New in town?
Maybe so.
What do you mean
"maybe so"?
Yes or no?
I've been here a few weeks.
Well, why didn't you say so then?
This town ain't half bad.
Least ways, they let you live.
What kind of business
you in, man?
I'm a writer.
You don't say.
Anything familiar
about those shoes?
Well, yeah.
I done shine some just
like this for a white man.
A fellow by the name of Horton?
That's right.
You know him?
I'm him.
Ah, nah.
You're kidding me.
Go on!
I thought you were the man who never
forgot a pair of shoes... or a face.
Well, I'll be darned.
I'm truly a son of a bitch.
Now, wait a minute,
you can't fool me.
You're a colored man
and you been passing.
Well, ain't that something.
Well, how did you ever -
That ain't shoe black?
No. No, it's done with drugs,
and dye, and sun lamp treatments.
I take them. I don't know
how they work, but they do.
Well, I'll be...
Well, what's the big idea?
I want find out what it's like
to be a Negro in the South.
You're kidding.
No, I'm not.
You going to be stuck
that way, Mr Horton?
No, it'll wear off as soon
as I stop taking the pills.
The name is John.
John, huh?
I guess you're really serious.
You're the one
person who can help me.
- Me?
- Yes, you.
How come?
What can I do?
Break me in.
Now, after that, I don't
want anybody to know,
but you can teach me
how to - how to act right.
If I could... just
hang around here.
I could learn to
shine shoes, maybe.
You, Mr Horton?
John, excuse me.
I wouldn't expect
any money for it.
You wouldn't get
rich around here,
but you could keep
your tips if you made any.
You sure you want to do this?
It ain't simple, you know.
I know that.
Well, why not?
Let's go.
First, you've got to
look different.
Take off your coat.
Now take your tie off.
Roll up your sleeves.
You're still too well dressed.
You got to learn how to act.
You talk too educated in one way
and in another way
you got to get smarter.
Ah, you're going to be a problem.
You think it's
easy being colored?
For instance, man comes up,
and say...
"I'm here writing
an article on race relations."
What you say?
Uh, well...
"If there's anything I can tell you,
sir, I'd be only too glad to help."
You're through right now.
I must have
sounded kind of stupid.
Yeah, kind of.
Can I help you, sir?
Yes, I'd like some shoe laces.
Black or brown?
Oh, make them black.
- How's business?
- Can't complain, sir.
You been in
this neighborhood long?
Quite a few years.
Say, how'd you like
to make an easy buck, boy?
Do you know where I can
get a girl around here?
Now, I'm not particular.
She don't have to be a high yellow.
Just as long as she's clean.
The best girly shows
is over on King Street.
You'll find just what
you're looking for there.
That'll be 10 cents, sir.
They can get real democratic
when they wants to sin.
There's lots of
angles to this business.
It ain't simple.
You got a lot to learn.
This man comes up and say,
"Hurry up, boy, I ain't got no time."
What you say?
Then this other man
comes up and say,
"Damn niggers, you can't
trust none of them."
What do you do?
There's plenty of angles.
Man, you got so much to learn.
You got to act different.
You got to talk different.
You even got
to think different.
I can see that.
Anything else you wants
to know, you just ask me.
What about churches?
What denomination?
There's a Catholic church
two blocks over on Mercer.
Where's the nearest men's room?
Well, now, man, what you
want to do, pray or spray?
Well, I guess it doesn't hurt for
a man to do both once in a while.
You are so right.
Lordy, you're so right.
You stick around
this town long enough
and you'll end up doing most of
your praying for a place to go.
You can go at the station
and places like that, you
just have to locate them.
But I trained myself
to wait till I gets home.
Don't drink no water.
Ok, John, I guess I'd better learn
you how to shine some shoes.
How about you take them
brushes there...
and you brush
the dirt off first.
You're a musician.
Oh, no, not really.
Yeah, no, man, you're good.
Well, thank you all
for letting me play.
How's it going?
Well, you know
this town, Mr Hodges.
I'll be pushing on
in a few days.
Well, we're sorry
to see you leave so soon.
Well, I never planned to stay.
I've got a long ways to go.
All that stuff you hear about traveling
salesman, don't you believe it.
I'm away from home
8 months out of the year.
Sure, you got your variety,
but, what the hell, I get tired
of restaurant food and motels.
Anyway, I like the city life.
Mobile, St. Louis, that's
where the big time is.
You ever lived in the city?
Oh, yeah? What'd you do?
Get a job in a hotel?
I did all kinds of work.
Were you in the service?
I was in the last war myself,
France, Tank Corps.
Mmm, those French girls,
I'm telling you.
Lot's of them over there shacking up
with colored soldiers, too.
You'd be surprised.
What were you, truck driver?
- Yeah.
- Tough.
Tell me, did you ever
get a white woman?
I hear they're nuts about colored
fellows over in Australia.
Well, I've never
been to Australia.
Did you ever get a white woman?
Do you think I'm crazy?
I didn't ask if you was crazy,
I asked if you ever had one.
Ever really wanted one?
There's lots of white
women around here
that would like
a good buck nigger.
Well, I don't see why.
I prefer my own kind.
Well, that's
what you're telling me,
but I'll bet inside
you think different.
Nice farm country
around here, isn't it?
Now, you can tell me.
Hell, I don't care.
I already told you!
You're lying in your teeth.
This is as far as I go.
Better luck next time.
Here's company!
Come in.
Join the party.
Hey, pop.
Not so loud!
Good evening.
Don't you try it.
Crappy old hotel
won't even give me water.
Better have a drink.
No, thank you,
I'm not a drinking man.
Oh, one of them uppity darkies.
Are you waiting to take a bath?
Well, I want to wash my hands.
Well, just step over here.
Reach in.
- Well, thank you kindly.
- Ok.
All right, Pop, ready for you.
Man, are you crazy?
I'm not going to let you give
me my death of dampness.
- Will you turn that off please?
- Sure.
Oh, Pop, go get some clothes on
or you're going to end up
in an ambulance, for sure.
A man your age
sitting around here
getting stewed
in his birthday suit.
Come on, Pop, let's go.
Come on.
- Don't push!
- That's it.
I'm going.
Give a colored man his liquor
and that's all he wants.
- You staying in this dump a while?
- A while.
Me? I'm from Chicago.
I get down here
once or twice a year.
Selling burial insurance.
Mount Holly Associates.
The best sickness and burial
insurance you can buy.
You wouldn't be in
the market by any chance?
- No!
- Well, anytime you are...
I'm area manager
for six Southern states.
Got 23 salesmen
to take care of.
That's some job.
Traveling around
in these dumpy towns.
Give me Chicago
any old time.
Oh, this isn't half bad.
The dives they call hotels in some
of these other towns...
Come on, Pop. Pop.
Come on. Up.
Here we go.
Give me your hand. That's it.
Come on now.
Ain't you ashamed, Pop?
Making this fancy hotel look
like a low-down, stew-bum dive.
Come on.
- It's all right. I'll get him upstairs.
- You sure?
Yeah, I'll take care of him.
Good night.
And don't forget -
any time you feel
the need, Mount Holly.
Mount Holly Associates, ok?
All right.
Ok, Pop, come on.
That's it.
Come on, Pop.
Excuse me, could you tell me
where I could find the manager?
Yes, right over there.
Thank you.
Excuse me, sir.
I'd like to apply
for the position of clerk.
I don't have a thing for you.
But your sign says
"clerk wanted".
I'm sorry, I don't
make the policy.
I'm experienced.
We conform to local custom.
I'm sure your Negro
patrons would approve.
I might have an opening in the
stock room later in the month.
It could be good for business.
You seem like an educated man.
I'm sorry, but I am
just the manager.
I understand.
Thank you.
You'd better find yourself
another place to sit.
Well, I sure
appreciate your stopping.
Any luck getting
rides through here?
No, not much.
Say, that's a pretty bird.
Yes, a surprise for my wife.
The man at the five-and-dime
says he's a guaranteed
warbler or your money back.
You from around these parts?
No. Texas.
Then you ought to know
enough to say "sir."
Yes, sir.
We got two parakeets and
a mynah bird at home.
Regular bird house.
Yeah, I got me quite a family,
all these birds, three dogs,
don't know how many cats.
Our kids are all grown up.
I got five grandchildren.
- You married?
- Yes, sir.
Any kids?
Yes, sir.
Boy, 5.
You got a pretty wife?
Yes, sir, I think so.
She ever had it
from a white man?
Nigger women know
they can't get jobs
unless they put out
to their bosses.
I've hired lots of them to pick crops
and work in the house.
I guarantee you I've had
every one of them
before they ever got their pay.
Then you must have lots
of colored children.
God, no!
Do you ever consider the woman?
A nigger woman?
One thing about them...
down here they
never go to the cops
or say anything about it.
They know better.
You think that's pretty bad.
Do you?
Yes, I do.
Why, we all do it around here.
We figure we doing
your race a favor,
putting a little white blood in it.
Where did you say you was from?
Come down here to
stir up trouble, did you?
No, no, no, sir.
You know what we do
to troublemakers here.
Kill a nigger and toss him
in one of these swamps,
nobody would ever
know anything about it.
This is where you get off.
I'll tell you
how it is down here,
we'll do business
with you and your women.
Other than that, as
far as we're concerned,
you're completely
off the record.
Boy, you just close
that door very gently now.
Do like I say, boy.
The hell with you,
you black bastard.
You got a pretty wife?
... got a pretty wife?
She ever had it
from a white man?
She ever had it
from a white man?
You ever get a white woman?
Did you ever get a white woman?
Did you ever get a white woman?
She ever had it
from a white man?
From a white man?
Lucy, if I was
to come home suddenly,
how would you feel?
Delighted to see you.
No, no, no, I mean,
while I'm changed?
You always did
look good with a tan.
I'd be a Negro.
I don't understand.
If I were to stay with you,
would it be like sleeping with a Negro?
That excites the hell out of me.
Now, stop it, John.
You'd better not go.
No, we've got to talk
this thing through. All of it.
Aren't you worried
about our marriage?
When I come back, will it
ever be the same again?
I don't know...
But I think we can
solve it - whatever it is.
I'm going to be out there
somewhere changed.
For you back here everything
will be the same.
Will you think of me as the man
you've lived with all these years,
or will you think of me as some strange
colored man in a furnished room?
You make everything
so complicated.
You take away a man's identity,
his face, his color, what's left?
Lucy, I've got
to know what you think
because if you do think of me
as some strange black man...
How will I know who I am?
You'll be you, and that's
how I'll think of you.
I'm just going to Littlepiece.
You're welcome to ride
that far if you want to.
Thank you.
Boy, I'm late.
I couldn't get
this rattle trap to go.
Didn't even have time
to eat breakfast.
You can help yourself to a donut.
My wife made them.
They're really good.
Don't worry about that.
That's for possums. There's a
lot of them along this road.
You can get one sometimes,
if you get out early enough.
Go ahead, help yourself.
They're really good.
Thank you.
You married?
Yes. To a good woman.
And I got a child,
and he's mine!
What are you fighting me for?
I'm married too.
And I think it's great.
I got three kids.
I guess that's the only thing
that keeps me going.
How old's yours?
Got any pictures?
What kind of father are you?
I got three boys.
One's 3, one's 6, one's 7.
That one in the middle
there, that's Butch.
Smart as a whip.
He knows his ABC's
and his figures already.
I guess he takes
after his mama.
I aim to see he gets
through high school.
Boy, I sure feel sorry for people
that ain't got a family.
Well, I work right over yonder,
so I'm going to let you off here,
because I think
you'll get a better ride.
You know, Saint Augustine said,
"Love, and then do what you will."
You're a joy to the heart, mister.
So long.
John, come in here a minute.
Some of these
bastards won't let you live.
I just went over the money.
I'm $10 short.
You know what happened
to it, don't you?
Mr Pierce, you know we're not allowed
to go near the cash register.
Well, $10 just
don't walk away.
- You were working around here.
- Are you accusing me?
I just asked,
did you see the money?
I've held responsible
jobs before this one.
I knew I never should have bothered
with one of you educated Negroes.
I just asked,
did you see the money?
No, sir.
Well, that's all.
You know best,
did you take it or not.
I got to keep my eye
on everything around here.
Evening, John.
Oh, hi, Stretch.
Ain't you ashamed to spend a
Saturday night all alone in your room?
Well, some of us aren't
as lucky as you are.
Vertell Sterling, John Horton.
- How do you do?
- It's going to be a big night.
We're having us
a ball, Vertell and me.
Why don't you come on along,
Mr Horton? We going to the Club Ruby.
I got a girlfriend
I can bring along.
As a matter of fact,
I'd like that very much.
Can I meet you there?
In about an hour?
So, then she comes in
with this fancy white dress
on a hanger, and
she tells me to iron it.
You know, just when
I'm fixing to get out.
It never fails.
So, then I know it's going
to take me 20 minutes
at least, you know.
And here I've got to meet Vertell.
So, I says to her,
real innocent like,
I says, "Ain't you going
to Mrs Hutchinson's party?
"Because if you is,
well, uh, my friend Vertell
"says that her Mrs Hutchinson
has got a fancy white dress
"that seems almost
like the same kind."
So, then she says,
"Well, maybe I ought to wear
my print dress then, Georgie."
Man, I beat it out of
there in no time at all.
Man, I'm telling you!
They sure like to pile
it on come quitting time.
Same way at our place.
You two been friends long?
Vertell and me?
Years and years.
Of course, she don't
say much, but she's -
Just like you.
I see you got my number already.
I just like it lively,
that's all.
You know, I always got the radio
on in my room, too.
Don't you like to dance?
Oh, sure.
Do you like to dance?
I ain't seen you around.
I haven't been around.
Tied up?
Well, I got a husband
around somewhere, too.
I ain't seen him
in 2 or 3 years.
Let me show you the way
they're doing it now.
Hi, honey.
- Well.
- This is Tippy.
Hi, Tippy.
How are you?
Say, hi.
- Can I hold him?
- Sure.
Hi, Tip.
So you like dogs?
Boy, I'm a regular
fool about him.
- You know, I raised him from a pup.
- Oh, did you?
He likes you.
A dog can tell.
You know he could tell about
that husband of mine.
You think that's crazy?
Well, he never would
take nothin' from Bud,
and I don't care
how hard he tried.
You want to come in?
You're really
tied up, aren't you?
Don't be so serious.
You're too serious
about everything.
I can't help it.
It's the book learning.
It ruins a fellow
for having fun.
I really had fun tonight.
Well, I guess I'll
see you around, huh?
Boy, you sure give
the girls a hard time.
Good night.
Good night.
That'll be a dollar.
You coming along?
Oh, hi, Stretch.
I'm picking up the girls.
It's Georgie's night off.
Let's go down to Ruby's.
No, count me out.
I've done too much
partying lately.
Stay cool.
So long.
Hey, nigger!
You can stop right along
about there anyplace!
There ain't no nice people on this
street for you to hide behind, man.
Hey, why do you keep walking
when I told you to stop, nigger?
Hello there, fuzz head.
Hey, nigger.
Hey, burr head!
The way I see you...
We're going to get you.
Excuse me, sir.
I'm in trouble.
There's two men
chasing me.
I don't know what they want,
but they're chasing me.
Who is chasing you?
Two men. Just around
the corner there.
I don't see nobody.
Sir, could you tell me where
I could find a policeman, please?
I don't see anyone chasing you.
Well, they're there.
Believe me. Sir?
There ain't no way you can get
away from us, fuzz head.
You may as well
stop right there.
Hey, nigger!
You can stop right along
about there anyplace!
There ain't no nice people on this
street for you to hide behind, man.
Hey, why do you keep walking
when I told you to stop, nigger?!
All right, white boys, this is just
what I've been looking for!
Now, you come on in here!
Come on in, I'm waiting for you!
Ah... I don't dig you, daddy.
Well, you just come in
here and you will!
Come on!
I'm waiting!
Dear Saint Jude...
Keep them away from me.
Well, John.
Oh, it's been a long time.
Come on in.
I'd have known you anywhere.
Any trouble?
No, I picked him up right
in front of the drugstore.
A couple of dirty looks is all.
All you need now
are colored visitors.
You're quite a sight, all right.
I know the trouble
you've been having
and you shouldn't
have let me come here.
Now, you make yourself at home.
Come on, sit down, John.
You'll never know how
wonderful it is to be here.
This experience has been so...
Why don't you tell us later?
I'm going to fix
you some cold chicken.
Sit down, John.
Come on.
Well, Ed, how's it with you?
Oh, don't worry about me.
I'm bent, but not broken.
Well, I wrote what
I thought in my editorials.
Now I got three subscribers
left in the state.
Well, you got one in
Shelby, Texas, you know.
I got enough readers out of
the state to pay the printers.
You know, it's getting kind of
hard to maintain the illusion
that the South is waiting
for my liberal message.
- Bourbon?
- No, nothing.
It takes courage, Ed,
and I've just about run out of mine.
You got guts.
Me? No, I'm one of the last genuine
cowards left in this world.
I stopped by a red light in traffic
in town the other day.
This character pulls up alongside of me
and yells, "Aren't you Ed Saunders?
"If you get out of that damn car,
I'll mop up the street with you."
Well, lucky for me, the traffic
light changed just then,
so I says, "Well, you don't offer
a man much inducement, do you?"
You should have seen the look
on his face when I drove off.
One of my former
readers no doubt.
Come on and eat, John.
- I bet you had no dinner.
- Thank you, Mary.
I had no intention of calling you,
but I couldn't stand it another minute.
You know I wanted this thing
to go on for several months.
You don't have to explain
a thing. Just relax.
But I want to quit.
Now, that's what's been
happening to me.
Several months and here
in the sixth week
I sit and I'm asking
you to take me back.
I want to escape.
I'm saying take me back
to the white world.
You look beat, John.
Will you take me in?
Mary, set out the guest towels -
the black ones.
John's going to stay the night,
and longer, if necessary.
And I thought I'd seen every form
of human degradation before.
Now, both of you stop talking.
Come and enjoy your food.
Come on, John.
Sit down.
I'm sorry.
It's just too...
too much.
Get a good night's sleep
and everything will
look different tomorrow.
Ed, do you know that
when you're a black man,
it doesn't matter
who you are or what you are.
The color of your skin
is all that matters.
I don't know how they
stood it all their lives.
Well, that's simple.
They have no choice.
I want you to tell me
something very honestly,
your newspaper and what you
and Mary have sacrificed...
Is it worth it?
Worth it?
Well, let me list
the advantages.
You will no longer be
bothered by invitations,
and parties and telephone calls from
friends and other distractions.
Your own relatives
won't know you.
Your lawn will be
regularly improved by...
... handsome decorations,
bed-sheet parades,
and other attractions.
Your wife and kid will have to get
used to anonymous phone calls,
bomb scares,
hate letters.
You might get interviewed on TV.
Or win a brotherhood award
and get a free trip to New York.
Let me ask you something.
If you did nothing,
if you glad-handed everybody
and tried like hell
not to offend one
single prejudiced,
bigoted idiot in town,
the way I did for years,
let me ask you...
could you sleep at night?
Well... I sleep like a rock, friend.
And my
conscience is healthy.
Don't worry, John.
You've got what it takes.
I'll see you down
at the bowling alley.
See you.
- Mr Wilson?
- Yes?
My name is Horton. The secretary
said I could find you here.
I'm answering your
ad for office help.
I think I have
the qualifications you want.
I can type, do
all kinds of office work.
Can you write
a letter with no mistakes?
Yes, sir, I'm
a college graduate.
I worked for
a magazine in Texas.
I can get references
if you like.
Never mind.
Can you make up a payroll?
Yes, sir, I can.
Well, you can't get
any job like that here.
But your ad -
I know you'd be satisfied
with my work, but...
I'll work for less.
That wouldn't
make any difference.
Well, I promise you
I'll do a good job.
We don't want you people.
But you do have colored here.
I'll let you in on something.
We're gradually
weeding you people out.
We're taking it slow,
but we're doing it.
Whose going to do
your dirty work for you?
There'll always be a few jobs
a white man wouldn't want.
That was what you were
looking for, wasn't it?
No, sir.
How are we supposed to live?
That's the whole point.
I hear there's plenty
of jobs for you
with the bleeding hearts
up North.
Don't come around here
asking for white men's jobs.
Like I told her...
"Now, if all the
colored, for one day,
"stopped everything,
what would happen?"
You should have seen her face.
"Why, Willa, that's impossible.
It could never be."
I said, "Don't be too sure,
Mrs Peterson, it just might happen.
"And you know what?
This nation would go down.
"Nothing could
go on, that's sure.
"You know who's the
backbone of this nation?
"You know it's
the colored people.
"Before there was a white man,
there was colored.
"Oh, it's right in the Bible.
All you got to do is read it.
"You didn't bear me, I bore you."
Did you really tell her
that, Mrs Townsend?
I sure did.
I told her we was here first.
And you know, there
never was a colored child
that was puny and sickly.
Never one.
Ah, we're better off
than they is because
all our children
are strong and healthy.
And why? There's only one answer
and you know it.
The good Lord
protected my children.
Have some more pie.
No, thank you,
but it was delicious.
Oh, good clean
Better than you get in all them
fancy eating places, huh?
You ever notice, in the white man's
eating places, who's in the kitchen?
He want good food,
the man know how to get it.
Oh, I've been dealing with
white folks all my life.
Still dealing with them now.
And you know, I feel
kind of sorry for them,
seeing how good the good Lord
is to his colored children.
Well, I don't feel
sorry for them at all.
Not at all. I think
they're cruel and vicious.
And they seem to
have a million ways
of making you
feel like nothing.
My child, ain't you used to it yet
in all your years of living?
Just a cup of coffee, please.
Thank you.
You seem like a smart man.
Did you ever think, if all
us colored, just one day,
stop, stop everything,
what would happen?
Well, this nation
would go down.
Nothing could go on,
that's sure.
Operator, I'd like to call
long distance please. Yes.
Shelby, Texas.
Collect call...
You read the newspapers?
how the army's taking all
the boys from the South?
And most of the white boys
can't read or write,
and the colored
mostly know how?
And why?
Because the white man's so busy
keeping his children bossing mine,
they ain't got
time for studying.
And when they does get around
to studying, they don't know how.
Just sitting there,
bossing my children.
Operator, I want to cancel
that call to Texas.
I'm sorry,
I've changed my mind.
Ain't none of them women
worth moping over.
You trust in the Lord.
Then you won't lack a helping hand.
Great cook, that lady!
Fascinating theories, too.
I enjoy eating here.
You've eaten here before?
Oh, yes, yes.
God, this town!
It gets me down.
I'm from up North doing
research on my PhD.
This idiotic segregation,
what a nuisance!
Hey, what do you do here at night after
you've seen the one movie in town, huh?
Not much.
What's your research on?
The urbanization
of rural populations.
It will be a cross-cultural study,
a comparison of Southern whites,
Southern Negroes,
and Puerto Ricans...
if that means anything to you.
I managed to follow you.
Mrs Townsend!
Hey, listen, I'd like to talk
to you some more.
Why? I'm not a rural Negro.
In fact, I've got to get going.
Hey, wait a minute.
It isn't every day I get a chance to
talk to an intelligent man like you.
- I'm Charles Maynard, by the way.
- John Horton.
Now, Mrs Townsend,
what do I owe you, please?
That'll be $1.70.
Here you are.
Thank you very much. Bye.
Here you are. Bye.
Listen, I've got an idea.
I'm staying at a motel
down the street.
Why don't you just come
on over there for a while?
We can have a drink and talk.
I bet there's a lot
I can learn from you.
Well, Mr Maynard,
I don't know about that.
Call me Charlie.
Well, all right,
Charlie, all right.
Come on, let's go.
Come back and see us!
How about another, huh?
No, thank you.
You're an odd one, aren't you?
Don't you like your liquor?
Usually, you people don't have
the same inhibitions that we do.
We're all basically Puritans -
You know, we try
and give our children
a decent set of values,
a good education.
Our ministers preach sin
and hell the same as yours.
Oh, sure, sure, sure.
Still, I understand
you people have more
realistic views
of sex than we do.
You don't get so damn many conflicts,
and that's a fact.
There's no real difference, Mr Maynard.
No real difference at all.
Thank you for the drinks.
I got to be going.
Now, wait a minute.
Wait a minute.
We're just getting started.
You have to understand, John,
I have a scientific interest.
I'm trying to write
an honest thesis.
Come on, sit down,
please. Come on.
Tell me, will you, what
your research methods are?
Do you use open-end
questions, subjective tests?
Are you in the field
or something?
I manage to read
a book now and then.
And you don't think
there's any difference?
The point is, Negroes regard
sex as a total experience.
Anything that makes you feel good
is morally right for you.
Personally, I wish
I could live that way.
I cannot agree that
there is any difference
between our morality and yours.
Well, how can you debate that?
Now, if you'd read
the Berkley study.
That's one of the books
I managed to get through.
Well, then, what about the low
value placed on virginity?
The large number
of illegitimate births,
the general instability
of the Negro family.
You know,
these are all facts, John.
That may be, but I contend
that it's due to environment
and not to inherent differences.
If you will just compare
the sexual attitudes
of low-income whites with
those of low-income Negroes,
I think you'll find
a definite correlation.
Well, that's exactly the kind of
comparison I'm interested in.
The trouble is
I usually can't find
any of you people to talk to.
Half the time all they do
"yes, sir" you to death
and the rest of the time they can't
even get out a straight sentence.
That's because you question low-income
groups and ignorant slobs like me.
Hey, you just got to stick
around and answer my questions.
Professor, you are a... a find!
Hey, hey, let's have another drink.
No, thank you, I've had enough.
All right.
Now, the Berkley study
definitely proves that the Negro
has more frequent sex contacts,
more frequent orgasms.
I've read it, I told you.
Well, then.
But you can very easily argue about
the sampling techniques.
You can question the
veracity of the informers.
All right, forget
about the Berkley study.
Just tell me how you
like to do it, John.
How often? With the
same dame or what, huh?
You've had
too much to drink.
Oh, come on.
This is man to man.
It's just between us, John.
I have a scientific interest.
For instance,
it's a scientific fact
that the Negros' organs
are larger, huh?
That's absolute nonsense.
Prove it to me, John.
Hey, we're about the same age.
Come on.
You filthy drunk!
You think you can say
anything to a man
just because
his skin is black.
- You're so scientific!
- No. Wait.
- Don't pretend you're not!
- Don't! No, please...
You're just scum!
Let me go!
I'm no queer.
Honest, I'm no queer.
Oh, Father, may I talk
to you some more please?
Come with me.
Have a seat.
What I have to say to you
may sound very strange.
As I confessed to you just now,
I did try to kill a man.
Under provocation,
influence of drink,
but there's more
to it, much more.
Do you wish to
confess again, my son?
What I have to say I don't think
properly belongs in confession.
You see, I'm a white man.
I changed the
color of my skin,
and for 3 months now I've been
traveling through the South.
I'm a writer.
If you don't believe me,
I can show you my driver's license.
You would not lie to me.
It's just that it's such
an extraordinary situation.
I'm never sure how
people are going to react.
Ever since I started,
something has happened to me
that I hadn't foreseen.
And it horrifies me.
It's as though
I was no longer myself.
I look like a stranger,
I live like a stranger.
Now, I'm beginning to
feel like a stranger.
It's as though I've
lost my immortal soul.
You cannot lose
your immortal soul.
The soul is of God,
and returns to God.
You are in a state of grace
having made your confession.
You must pray
for peace of mind.
What you have lost
is your pride of self.
Everything I've done, I've done
for the sake of brotherhood.
How could self enter into it?
On this journey,
your goal was -
To see how it felt to be
a Negro in the South.
Father, Maritain's words,
"To prepare a new age of the world,
"martyrs to the love of neighbor
may first be necessary."
Those words were like a command
to me when I started out.
But now... Now I find
myself acting like
an inferior colored man
filled with anger and hatred.
An "inferior colored man"?
That, too, has happened.
I'm filled with prejudice, Father.
It's like a poison.
I thought I'd purged myself.
But I had not.
Son, are you so certain this
singular act is required of you?
All of us at one time
or another have had to wrestle
with this question,
especially here in the South.
I have worked with both races
in this community for some 30 years.
It's tough work.
I sometimes wonder if it
adds up to anything at all.
You're right, Father.
It was pride of self...
and the desire
for the singular act.
For the best of motives,
One must have large doses
of faith and patience
to do the small, ordinary
jobs that must be done.
When you go home, my son,
you will be stronger because of
the ordeal you have passed through.
I will remember you
in my prayers.
Thank you, Father.
God bless you, my son.
You're stepping on my porch.
Oh, I'm sorry. I thought
that was your garden
and I could stand
in your garden.
The garden's back here.
- Can't you see?
- Oh. I can see now.
Say, would you like to decorate
your castle with these?
Ok. You help me.
I sure will.
Loretta, come here!
Loretta, come here
this instant, I say!
I'm talking to my friend.
You'd better go, Loretta.
Oh, all right.
Are you all right, honey?
Are you sure you're all right?
Excuse me.
When is the next bus
for Medford, please?
One leaves in 10 minutes.
Another at 9:30.
I'd like a one-way
ticket, if you will.
That'll be $1.60.
I can't change that.
Well, I'm sorry,
that's all I have.
I'd like a ticket
to Medford, please.
I can't change that big a bill.
I told you so.
Now, there must be someone
in this great big bus system
who can change
a $10 bill.
Perhaps the manager.
Lady, do you know
what you've got?
We call it the hate stare.
And I must say you've got
the best one I ever did see.
I feel sorry for you.
- Mind if I sit down?
- Oh, sure, go ahead.
Thank you.
This is a nice place.
Nobody bothers you.
Interstate commerce.
Oh, the name's Newcomb.
Frank Newcomb.
My boy Thomas is studying to be
a teacher over at Fletcher's.
I don't know if he
going to make it though, 'cause...
he's been in jail twice
for his integrating work.
The sheriff put the dogs
on him right here in town.
That's terrible.
John Horton.
It's a pleasure
to know you, Mr Newcomb.
You must be
proud of your boy.
Oh, I sure am.
You going to be in town long,
Mr Horton?
Oh, 3 or 4 days, I guess.
Hey, you wouldn't know of
a place that I could stay?
Well, there's a hotel in town.
Oh. Terrible place.
It's full of gambling
and whoring.
Cost you an arm and a leg, too.
Are you a nice man,
Mr Horton?
Well, my wife thinks so.
Well... you can stay
with me if you like.
That is, if you don't
mind sharing a bed.
I wouldn't want to put you out.
Ohh. I'm just a gabby old man.
I like company.
Come on.
I see you've
got a typewriter.
It's Tom's.
You want
to write a letter?
Help yourself.
Well, I'd appreciate
using it later.
Not tonight.
See, Mr Newcomb,
I'm doing a series of
articles for a magazine.
Are you a reporter?
Sort of.
I'd like to talk
to the people who are
in the demonstrations here
in town, do a story on them.
I wonder if you'd
introduce me to them.
Well, I suppose so.
Oh, come on.
There's plenty of room.
Thank you.
You ever figure how come
God tell us that we...
got to love
the white man?
No ifs, ands,
or buts about it?
Now, suppose, when we started
integrating this town,
that we decided
to fight with the man,
and went out to buy a gun...
Why, no colored man
in this section could buy...
even a bullet for hunting,
much less a gun.
But the Lord knows
what he's doing.
Then he'd tell us, to get integration
we got to love that man.
If we was
to hate the white man...
Then we'd be...
dragged down
to his level.
And our race...
would be ruined for sure.
And then the sheriff says
to this little colored boy,
"Nigger, don't let the sun
shine on you in this town."
And that little colored boy
spits right in his face.
And then,
and then he says,
"All who's going to disperse...
And then Reverend Ingall...
started commencing praying
Oh, tell him about
Mrs Tomkins, Paul.
Oh, yeah!
Well, she's about 97 years old,
and she's spry
as a chicken.
- And she -
- And she walks right up to the sheriff,
and she says, in that
little squeaky way of hers,
"Sheriff, I want to disperse
in the worst way.
"But I can't figure out which way
you all wants me to disperse
"with all them polices
and them dogs around."
And the sheriff showed her which way,
and she thanked him very politely,
and walked right up
to the head of the line.
Right in front
of Reverend Ingalls.
And you know, she was the
first one they put on the wagon,
and the first one
they let out,
'cause they was afraid she was
going to die on 'em in jail.
Oh, Seda Tomkins ain't going to
never die until she sees freedom.
Good morning, Tom.
That's not necessary.
Well, I'm a pro.
I worked in a shoe shine
stand a while back.
I thought you were a reporter.
That's right.
Now, when does
your trial come up?
Well, we're out on bail now.
They might not
even put us on trial
till after the appeals court
decision over in Middleton.
I'm not worried.
I don't suppose anybody
likes to go to jail?
If it's necessary to go
to jail, you go to jail.
You know,
I must tell you,
that I admire the courage of
you people here very much.
I hear you've been
interviewing everybody.
You making a lot of money
on all those stories
you've been writing
about us brave people?
I want people to understand
what you're doing here.
And I make a living.
Some people get a thrill
out of reading about it
when they beat us over the
head, set the dogs on us.
Some of those Negroes up North
are worse than the whites.
They wouldn't give a thin dime
to support you,
but, boy, they sure
like to read about it.
We even got a few
of them in school.
I tell you, it really
wears you down.
Tom, what I write,
I write for the South.
Well, how do you like that?
I knew there was
something phony about you.
You got a lot of nerve,
coming into people's homes
pretending you're folks.
Take a look at that, pop.
- Let me explain.
- Just take a look at that.
Would you let me
explain to you please?
Sneaking in here,
all painted up!
Will you let me explain?
And I let you
sleep in my own bed!
The other week, when
they hauled us all in,
there wasn't one white man,
woman, or child from this town,
opened his mouth in support!
Put 29 of us in jail
for disturbing the peace.
What peace?
You know what it would
have meant for one white man
to support us at that time?
And I don't mean just talk!
I do now!
Why don't you read what I've written
before you twist it all around?
Because it won't make any
difference. They're just words.
You'll read what I've written,
won't you, Mr Newcomb?
I know you'll
understand. Please?
Didn't you tell us you
were from Shelby, Texas,
or was that a lie, too?
Isn't that where they had that
school integration riot, in Shelby?
- Yes. Yes, it was.
- Where were you then?
- Well, as a matter of fact -
- What were you doing then?
I had an assignment
to do a story on it.
It was just straight
stuff and factual.
Believe me,
that's all I could do.
One single white man
in each county willing
to give up his life for justice.
Do you know what a
difference that would make?
The white Southerner has to know
what it's like to be a Negro.
Really know.
And you know
what it's like, huh?
After 10 weeks or 3 months
or whatever it is? You know?
No, I don't know.
And I can never know...
any more than you can know
what it's like
to be inside my skin.
Tom, the point is that
we got to keep trying.
Mr Horton...
that blackness on your face,
it'll come off, won't it?
If you wipe that blackness off...
they'll treat you like a man.
We black in a white man's country.
There ain't nothin'
we can do about it.
If you don't understand that,
you don't understand nothing.
I know how Tom feels.
I know how come
he talk that bitterness.
Tom know, though, that
that ain't no way to talk.
He been taught different.
Tom, the man trying to help.
We don't need his help.
What we want we'll get
by our own strength.
I'm doing this for myself.
I want the South to be a fit place
for my children to live.
Can't you understand that?
There'll be an
understanding between us
the day we get all our rights.
That day and not
a minute sooner.
You're right. But until that day
comes, we got to keep talking.
At least we both
want the same thing.
Tom talk that way on account
of what he been through.
Still, it...
It don't seem right, now...
you... staying on with us.
Mr Horton, I think you'd best go
on back home where you belong.
I've been getting ready to go home
for some time, Mr Newcomb.
Oh, it... it ain't that
we don't appreciate what you...
Mr Horton, the white folks
that read this,
the folks back home...
they'd believe you,
won't they?
Now that you done found
out how it is.
I don't know that.
I don't know that at all.
Well, it's time
that they did.
All I know is...
I'll tell them.