How much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck (1976) Movie Script

How did you learn to speak so fast?
"I used to go to a lot of auctions
with my dad.
In our area,
there was this brilliant auctioneer.
I was fascinated
by his ability to hold the attention
of 400 or 500 people.
I wanted to do that someday too.
So I would listen to him.
I began by practicing with numbers."
"Then you move on to tongue twisters,
for example,
in German:
A big black bug bit a big brown bear."
"Or: How much wood
would a woodchuck chuck.
Then you start with numbers.
You start building up speed
and establishing a rhythm."
"It takes a lot of practice
and you really have to love to talk."
Have you got another example?
Can you try saying it in slow motion?
Can you decode
what you just said for us?
"Well, I'm selling.
In slow motion, I'm saying,
'I bid $30.
Would you give me $30.50?
Would you give me $30.75?'
And so on."
"More so than that,
it's the personal feeling I get."
"I've managed to reach a goal
I've had since I was six years old.
That one day I'd become
World Champion Livestock Auctioneer."
"I can hardly believe
that I've done it."
"Well, I started practicing
when I was a student
at the National Auction Institute.
I also took lessons
with an opera teacher
to learn breathing techniques.
He taught me to breathe properly,
to develop my volume and stamina.
I used to drive down the motorway
and try to sell
to every telegraph pole that went by.
I'd pretend
they were bidders at an auction."
"Then at every junction
it would start again."
"This broke the monotony of traveling
and gave me the chance to practice."
"I have a few friends in this trade.
They are real, true friends.
They tell me when I make mistakes."
How did you turn professional?
"It always takes practice
to make perfect."
"When I started out
as an auctioneer in 1965,
I was just a kid from the country.
Uncle Sam got me.
After that I started auctioneering."
"And just like Ralph here,
I used to hold auctions with myself."
"You can never get too much practice."
"But where I really started from...
You probably won't believe this.
I was the only one in our family
who would milk the cows."
"I'd sit down on a bucket
and every time I pulled on the udder,
I'd take a bid."
"And then I'd be through milking."
The world championships take place
in the village
of New Holland, Pennsylvania,
one of the centers
for cattle farming in the US.
We thought it important
to show some of the surrounding area
because it is home
to a community of Amish people.
Here they till the soil
and raise the cattle the biblical way.
The Amish are a sect
who originally come from Switzerland.
However, they mainly consist
of a group of German immigrants
who arrived from the Palatinate
around 200 years ago.
These days, they still speak
an old Palatinate dialect.
Their most remarkable trait
is their puritanical attitude
towards developments in our society.
The Amish reject the ideas
of capitalism and competition.
So they are the very antithesis
of the world championships
that are being held
in their region this year.
The Amish also reject progress.
They dress the same
as they did 200 years ago
and still follow
many of the same customs.
The orthodox Amish
even reject electricity and cars.
Today, they still drive
horse-drawn carriages.
It may appear strange at first,
but there's a lot to be said
for their way of life.
They have refused
to participate in war.
They don't suffer
from the pollution problems
that afflict the rest of the US.
The Amish
don't normally like being filmed.
They turned away
as soon as they saw us.
They viewed the championships
with an air of mistrust.
Even so, they still pitched a tent
outside the auction room
and handed out
free snacks from their farms.
The venue for the championships
is an arena in this building.
Inside, we eavesdropped
on an auctioneer
while he warmed up.
"We only have about an hour left now
until the contest starts
and there are 53 competitors here
from all over the US and Canada.
In fact, we don't have enough cattle
for all the auctioneers
and each has just three to six
minutes to show what they can do.
That's not enough time.
Normally, we need
ten to fifteen minutes
so that we can really warm up
and satisfy the buyers
and the judges."
And which of you gentlemen
is going to win?
"The best. That guy over there."
How do you find out
who is going to bid?
"No idea, you can just tell.
They wink, signal with a piece of card
or do this with their fingers."
How do you pick them out
from the crowd?
"I just find them. It's a gift."
We were curious to see
if the Amish could understand us
when we spoke German.
"I couldn't understand it."
What kind of work do you do here
during the auction?
"I open the door
and let the stock off the scales."
What is telling
is that their dialect has no way
of saying "world championship".
Before the auction, which sold
cattle worth two million marks,
you could inspect the produce
in stalls behind the auction room.
This contest is sponsored
by the "Livestock Market Digest",
a trade magazine,
published in the US each week.
This is the 13th annual World
Livestock Auctioneering Championship.
I must point out
one thing about the jury.
Their decisions
are based on professional criteria.
They are organizers and buyers.
They select the contestant
they would most like to work for them.
We'll start
by showing a scene from above
to make it clear
how proceedings work.
The stalls are behind the auctioneers,
who take it in turns to lead.
The cattle enter the arena
from the right, over the scales
and leave to the left.
The buyers are dotted about
in the crowd.
The most interested buyers
sit in the front row.
The auctioneer is handed a note
stating the weight.
Buyers bid
per 100 pounds of live weight
and for all cattle in the arena
at that particular point in time.
When a bid is accepted,
it is written on the note
and then sent via a conveyor belt
to the main office.
The competition is underway.
Needless to say, we were unable
to film all 53 competitors,
but we were lucky enough
to catch the overall winner.
Look out for slight hand movements.
This is how you spot buyers.
They too are competing
against each other,
just not as openly as the others.
This is the first time
that a woman has ever competed.
The cattle have ground to a halt
on the scales.
The auctioneer says
that all this waiting
has made him nervous.
This is Ralph Wade
from Miami in Oklahoma.
He came in second.
The next auctioneer
adds a little variety.
He's been working for 50 years.
He starts by miscounting
the number of cattle.
He announces Canadian Steve Liptay,
who later goes on
to win this world championship.
This type of language
is somehow frightening,
but fascinating at the same time.
What frightens me personally
is the idea that our system
has managed to produce a language
that almost surpasses
the boundaries of extremity.
Sometimes I ask myself,
"Where did church liturgy come from?
Where did the language of propaganda
come from?
And how did our economic system
spawn this language?"
But at the same time,
it exerts a deep, musical fascination.
Sometimes I think
that this here could be
the last remaining lyrical form.
This auctioneer
was the final contestant
after only three hours.
From this we can work out
that each slot
lasted no more than three minutes.
The afternoon ended with buyers
paying and loading up their cattle
while bystanders bid for cakes.
The awards ceremony took place
in the evening
in the town of Herschey,
an hour's drive away.
Leon Wallace from West Monroe,
Louisiana, came third.
Ralph Wade from Miami, Oklahoma,
came second.
And here is the new world champion,
Steve Liptay.
It took him a long time
to grasp that he had really done it.
Steve thanks everyone
and says
he knows of no other profession
where the best come together
and compete against each other
for the title of World Champion.
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Published 10/20/2013