Rebel in the Rye (2017) Movie Script

[projector clicking]
[instrumental music]
Dear Whit..
...I regret
to inform you
that Holden Caulfield
is dead.
I know you thought
he could protect me.
Or, at the very least
give me refuge
from my sarcasm.
But Holden
is gone forever.
And I don't know
if anything
can save me now.
[drum music]
Oh, where's your girl,
Jerry? Where'd she go?
Ah, she wanted to dance
with her brother.
Oh, it's a tight family.
You know, the Lusitania
making it to England
Oh, I don't know,
spoiled rich girls
love college dropouts.
"He's not only broke,
daddy, he's also a Jew."
Hey! Half-Jew.
Oh, God. Why do we
keep coming here?
I can't stand all these
flits and phonies.
To give girls
like that the time.
- Who is that?
- Oona O'Neill.
What? As in
Eugene O'Neill?
That's her dad.
Rumor is, she's got
a thing for writers.
Maybe I can get her drunk
and read her
one of my stories.
The drunk part, yes, not
so sure about the second
I've read your work.
You're a real
prince of a guy.
Who are the bodyguards?
Blythe Chaucer
and Carol Flourentine
her protectors
from morphine addicts
and boys
without trust funds.
If you even try
to give Oona the time
they'll take
your watch away.
I'm going in.
- Oona.
- Hello.
Jerome David Salinger.
My friends
call me Jerry.
It's a pleasure
to meet you,
Jerome David Salinger.
I'm a huge admirer
of your father.
I'm a writer myself,
and his plays have been
a great source
of inspiration to me.
What do you write?
I, uh..
I write short stories.
- Really? Have you --
- Have you been published?
Come on, Oona,
I want to introduce you
to Billy Chanler.
- He's here?
- Yes.
Oh, right now?
- Great.
- Let's go.
Until we meet again,
Jerome David Salinger.
Come on, Oona doll.
Excuse me, sir,
do you happen to know
the time?
That went well.
[instrumental music]
Through the course
of my fascinatingly
dull life
I've always found fiction
so much more truthful
than reality.
And, yes,
I'm aware of the irony.
He had neither
the looks, personality,
or good clothes
to gain
Shirley's interest.
He didn't
have a chance.
And as I said before
to write a really good
boy-meets-girl story
it's wise to have
the boy meet the girl.
I can't concentrate
with you staring
at me like that.
Well, do you like it?
- It's really good.
- You can tell me
the truth.
I am. It's...terrific.
Tie your shoes, honey.
So, what do you
think, mom?
I love the kids.
I love the way they talk.
Yeah, 'cause in
the slicks, the teens
always sound phony
because they're written
by 50-year-old drunks.
You know,
it just kills me.
Well, you're
really talented.
I think I want
to try to publish.
How would you do that?
I want to go back
to school, to study
creative writing.
You what?
You get kicked out
of every school
I send you too
because of that
smart alec mouth
of yours.
How do you
possibly believe
you could be
a professional writer?
I don't know,
I just like doing it.
He's very
talented, Sol.
Even if he is,
it's impossible to make
a living at it
even for the best
of students
and you're not even
a good student.
I can't do
anything right.
Ah -- ah, sonny, sonny..
Come here, sit down.
Sorry. Please.
I -- I -- I just
don't want you
to be disappointed
when it doesn't
work out.
And it won't.
It never does.
Listen to me, meat
and cheese distribution
has been very good
to this family.
Six years ago,
Buddy Richman
was practically broke.
He buys a slaughterhouse
and now he's
king of the bacon.
That could be you,
sonny boy!
Jerry is not
going to sell cheese
or pigs,
or cows, or milk.
He is not going to be
the king of the bacon.
He is going to go
to Columbia.
He is going
to study writing.
That's what Jerry
is going to do
and you are going
to pay for it.
I bet if I never walked
into your class that day
then Holden Caulfield
probably wouldn't
even exist.
So, in a way,
this whole mess
is as much your fault
as it is mine.
There is nothing
more sacred
than story.
The Bible, the Koran,
the Torah.
The stories contained
in these books
are so powerful
that people
actually believe
they were written
by a God.
That is the power
that a story can hold.
And in the course
of this semester
you will be
given the tools
and the techniques
to be able to create
your own stories
so that you can
enrapture people, move..
I was always
a lousy student.
Even when I wanted
to be there.
It was pretty
embarrassing, if you
want to know the truth.
How does that sound,
Mr. Salinger?
I'm so sorry,
you lost me at Bible.
Oh, I'm sorry,
Mr. Salinger
did you think
that this course
was a study in atheism?
No. No, I didn't.
But I'm hoping
there really is a God
that'll give you something
interesting to say.
- Oh!
- Oh!
Funny, I had
the same thought
when I read your
admissions essay.
Although they still
let you in
it must be a very
lean year for Columbia.
Mr. Salinger wrote
an essay
very funny
brimming with exactly
the sort of sarcasm
that he so beautifully
displayed here
in the first five minutes
of the course.
And yet, after that
Mr. Salinger failed
to turn that
clever voice of his
into an actual
Which is a shame,
because there is
some potential there.
But this is the work
we will all be
striving to achieve.
And by the end
of the semester
God willing,
or in Mr. Salinger's
case, unwilling
you will all understand
the difference between
wanting to be a writer
and actually being one.
My countrymen,
and my friends
I had hoped against hope
that some miracle
would prevent
a devastating war
in Europe
and bring to an end
the invasion of Poland
by Germany.
I have said many times
that I have seen war
and I hate war.
I hope
the United States
will keep out
of this war.
I believe that it will.
Oh, Mr. Salinger.
Come in, have a seat.
Would you like a drink?
- Coffee, please.
- Coffee, please.
So, how did you
find me here?
Oh, I used to go to NYU,
and I always saw you
grading papers
in the window.
Hey, why do you come
all the way down
to the Village?
I couldn't think
of a better place
to read the work
of the next Fitzgerald
or Hemingway
than right here
in Greenwich Village.
- Sir.
- Thank you.
And what about you?
What happened at NYU?
They kick you out
for that mouth of yours?
No, it was
a mutual understanding.
They wanted me gone,
and I wanted them dead.
Well, you're not
the first wise-ass
I've taught, you know.
You act out
at authority figures
like me
because you're emotionally
repressed at home
and you also think
you're the cleverest boy
that ever walked
the planet, and no one
recognizes what a genius
you are.
It's pretty typical stuff,
if you want
to know the truth.
But enough of my
dime-store Freud.
What can I do for you,
Mr. Salinger?
Uh, well, I -- I -- I
wanted to ask about
what you talked about
in class.
You know, my voice
overwhelming the story.
I always thought my voice
is what defines me
as a writer.
Your voice is what makes
your story unique.
But when that voice
overwhelms the story
as it did in your
admissions essay
then it becomes
an expression
more of your ego
than of the emotional
experience of the reader.
Does that make sense?
Kind of.
Kind of..
I'd apologize
for being late, but since
I'm going to be late
for every single class
this semester
I'm going to instead
save my strength
for the reading
of your pages
and heavy drinking.
Now, today
I want to focus on
the writer's voice.
And to illustrate this,
I'm going to read
a passage to you
from William Faulkner.
Alright, now I want you
to listen carefully.
In fact,
close your eyes.
"The jailer cut her down
"and then, revived her.
"Then he beat her
"and whipped her.
"She had hung herself
with her dress."
Alright, so,
what happened?
A woman in jail
tried to commit suicide
and after the jailer
saved her, he beat her.
Exactly. This is why
I let women
audit my classes.
Hopefully, the rest
of the university
will soon follow suit.
Alright, now,
I read this passage
in as dull a voice
as I could possibly muster
and yet you were
still all engaged
by the passage. Why?
Because the events
of the story
were compelling
thematically layered,
and dramatic.
Now, of course,
Faulkner is famous
for his voice,
with its unique,
regional style.
And so therefore,
even the non-writer thinks
that they love Faulkner
but in fact it is
the events of the story
the attempted suicide,
the beating
that draws us in.
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And then Faulkner
uses his voice
to make the story
uniquely his own.
Does that make sense?
For our next class,
I want you all to write
a five-page story.
Ask yourselves,
if I were to read
this in a monotone
would I still keep
the class' attention?
Okay, well, I'm really
not going to do any better
than that today.
So, that's it, you can use
the rest of the time
to write your story,
or masturbate.
Just try not to confuse
the former
with the latter.
God knows,
there is many an author
who has failed
at that very task.
Have a good weekend.
See you later, children.
The one good thing
about being stuck
in a nut house
is everyone here
is in the same
lousy shape as I am.
Truth be told, I never
really fit in anywhere
in the whole
goddamned world.
Uptown, I was a Jew.
Downtown, I was a square.
But on occasion,
I could fool the girls
into thinking
I was
Clark Gable's cousin.
Bravo! Bravo!
Keep giving 'em hell,
You know what,
I actually think
'cause I love how much
it pisses my father off.
That's hilarious.
You need to go with that.
You should write
your story about that.
- You got your watch on?
- Yes. Why?
Because you need to give
that girl the time.
Yes, I do.
- Hi.
- Hi.
- So, you like jazz?
- What do you think?
So, um, what do you do
most of the time
on weekends?
I don't know. What do you
do most of the time
on weekends?
This and that.
This and that?
I know that's code
for sowing your wild oats.
"Sow your wild oats?"
I'm sorry.
I don't follow.
Oh, please.
Chase around.
Joe College.
Sow the wild oats?
"I don't think
I get your drift."
"You know, chase around.
Joe College."
Suddenly, from the
other side of the room
a small blond
shrieked with laughter.
Yes. It was very good.
Your voice was present
and entertaining
but it helped
tell the story,
it didn't become it.
I -- I felt it,
you know, I could tell
when something I wrote
was too clever.
- Was it true?
- Hmm, some of it.
Some, I made up.
Well, you know
what we call that?
- What?
- Writing.
So, how do I
get it published?
Well, that's
a bit ambitious
for your first outing,
don't you think?
Well, a real writer
publishes, right?
That's the only way
to make a living at it.
Oh, wait, let me guess,
your father told you that.
Well, why don't you try
"The New Yorker?"
I'm sure
that would impress him.
I was actually thinking
"Story Magazine."
I love their pieces.
Do you know who the editor
of "Story" is?
Well, yeah. You.
And on behalf of "Story,"
I would like to thank you
for your submission.
Unfortunately, we're going
to decline at this time.
But we do look forward
to reading your
future submissions.
Mr. Salinger, you're about
to learn the second most
important lesson
on having a career
as a writer.
Learning to deal
with rejection.
Well, I'm going straight
to "The New Yorker"
and they're going to
publish it, and you're
going to be sorry!
I already am!
- Hi, I'm here to --
- Submit a short story.
Fill this out.
Leave your story.
We'll get back to you
in four to six weeks.
This is the...first story
I've ever submitted.
Well, that's
a historic day for us all.
What's the J.D.
stand for?
It's juvenile
Don't write that.
And I want
those re-writes
before next week.
And do not get used
to the idea of me
staying for each class
my dinner
plans canceled.
Oh, it's your first
rejection letter.
You have to
get that framed!
- So, what do I do now?
- You're a writer.
What do you think
you do now?
Write another story?
Yes. And then write
another one after that.
And then another one
after that.
And then another one
after that.
- Okay.
- And then another one
after that!
Perhaps my dreams
of literary triumph
were the delusions
of an egotistical
and overly-ambitious
boy who should
have listened
when he was offered
the chance to be
the king of the bacon.
I could've been
a king, Whit.
I don't know
if I'm cut out for this.
Yeah. Maybe you're not.
- You -- you don't
think I am?
- Well..
Let me ask you
a question.
Why do you want
to do this?
Be a writer.
Why do you
want to write?
Because I..
I get angry about
a lot of things.
When I'm writing,
I feel like I'm doing
something about it.
Like I'm finally getting
to speak my mind.
You see, Jerry, this is
what you need to be doing
in your writing.
Explore what it is
that makes you angry
and then put that
into a story.
- But --
- No, no, no,
but here's the catch.
You still may
never publish.
- Never?
- Nope.
You may spend
the rest of your life
being rejected.
And now, you have to
ask yourself a question.
Are you willing
to devote your life
to telling stories
knowing that you may get
nothing in return?
And if the answer
to that question is no
well, then, you should
go out there
and find yourself
something else to do
with your life
because you're not
a true writer.
Good day.
Thank you very much.
No, no, no, no.
Take your rejections
with you.
Would you look
at this place,
it's beautiful.
You -- you'll find
something else
you like to do,
sonny. You'll see.
And it'll be something
you can actually
make a buck at.
Try not to worry about
anything this week, dear.
It's a vacation,
and you should relax.
[instrumental music]
[music continues]
She had immense eyes
that always seemed
in danger
of capsizing
in their own innocence.
She was with a small
boy, unmistakably
her brother
and it was only when
his sister spoke to him
that he came around
and applied
the small of his back
to his chair.
Now, there are two kinds
of femme fatale..
The noisy young people
she'd invited..
[indistinct chatter]
Jerry, your sister
didn't drive
all the way up here
to watch you write
in a lobby for five days.
Now, put that away
I will, in -- in one hour.
I'm almost done, okay?
What makes you think
you have anything
to say to people?
Grow up!
[instrumental music]
Oh, Jerry, why don't you,
uh, hang back
for a minute?
Yeah, thanks.
Now that you have made
a true commitment
to your craft,
I think it's time.
Time for what?
For you to be published.
This is the first
damned story I gave you.
Oh, I loved it
right away.
I just had to be sure
you were a real writer
before I published it.
This is your first check
as a real writer.
Thank you.
Thank you so much.
You're welcome.
Now go write
another story.
- To publishing!
- To publishing!
Oh, your old man
finally impressed?
No, when I showed him
the check, he told me
I could finally afford
a suit to get a real job.
To hell with him.
He's just jealous because
you're a paid writer
he's nothing but a lousy
Jew pig-seller.
You know, he hides
the fact that he's Jewish
from our neighbors?
Always has.
The first phony I ever met
was on the day I was born.
What the hell
are they doing?
The Stork Club
that Oona comes here
'cause of her dad
but they only photograph
her drinking milk
because she's underage.
That could be the most
pathetic thing
I've ever seen.
Alright, that's my cue.
- Going in.
- Ooh!
- Oona.
- Hmm!
So lovely
to see you again.
Carol. Blythe.
- I'm Blythe!
- Great.
If you don't mind,
I'm going to give
the most beautiful girl
in the world a twirl.
I read your piece
in "Story."
- You read "Story?"
- I read everything.
And what did you think?
I thought
it was marvelous.
No, it was simply
Thank you,
you're without a doubt
the most special girl
I've ever seen.
And you're very handsome
Jerome David Salinger.
- What do you think?
- I love it.
Just a few months.
But I don't think
I'll be here much longer.
Why? Where are you
going to go?
If I want to get
into pictures, that's
the place to be, right?
You know, I -- I used to
want to be an actor.
- Really?
- But I hate Hollywood.
It's a bunch
of jaguar-driving jerks
making crap
for knuckleheads
that can't read.
You're funny.
And you're so talented.
I love talent.
- Don't go to California.
- Why?
I -- I think it's better
if you stay here.
Stay here
and do theatre.
Have you asked your dad
to put you
in any of his plays?
We don't speak.
We don't speak very often.
I'm -- I'm sorry.
I didn't..
It's alright.
You know, I haven't
seen him since I was
a little girl, actually.
You know, I don't know
why he doesn't love me.
I never did
anything wrong.
You know, my -- my -- my
dad doesn't
love me either.
- I -- I should -- I
should probably go now.
- Jerry.
- No, I..
- Jerry, you
don't have to.
I.. If I -- if I get back
to my writing
I can get
a lot done tonight.
- Okay.
- Um..
- Do you want to
go dancing, Friday?
- Yes.
- Yes?
- Yes.
- I'd love to.
- Alright, me too.
- Good.
- Okay.
That's the thing
about girls.
Every time they do
something pretty
you fall half in love
with them.
And then you never know
where the hell you are.
Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!
Hang in there, my love.
I know it can be a slog,
but you've got
to stick out
these dry spells.
loves the writing.
I get terrific feedback
every time I submit you.
That's terrific,
but I haven't
had a story published
in eight months.
Well, have you thought
about writing something
with a little more
pop to it?
More "Post"
than "New Yorker?"
No, I hate the "Post,"
it's a bunch
of sentimental crap.
- I know.
- I wanna be
a "New Yorker" writer.
And you will be, but it's
never easy, my love.
And there's no harm
in dumbing it down
once in a while.
We just got to get you
published again.
is everything.
Oh, I don't even know
what I should write about.
Oh, Jerry.
First of all,
you need to relax.
You're not gonna
do better work
being so stressed.
Take that pretty
girlfriend of yours
on a date.
Have some fun.
How's it going with her?
[doorbell buzzing]
Hey, Pearl.
I'm sorry, Jerry,
but Oona isn't here.
She left for the Hamptons
this morning.
She did what?
- We had a date.
- You know Oona.
Yeah. Okay. Thanks.
Maybe I'm just
not capable
of experiencing happiness
like the fella that works
at a lousy job
and has a pretty wife,
and a bunch
of stupid kids.
Maybe I didn't
lose my mind at all.
Maybe I never had it
in the first place.
You should get
out of here, kid.
He made his way
into the men's room
and filled both washbowls
with cold water.
"You want a towel,
fella?" asked
the piano player.
"Not me," said Holden.
"Why don't you
go home, kid?"
Holden Caulfield
went on drinking.
Hello, it's me,
Jerry Salinger, I just
wanna speak to Oona.
She's asleep. Why are you
calling so late?
"This is me,
Holden Caulfield, can I
speak to Sally, please?"
It doesn't have
to be anything serious.
- You're just
such a phony! You are!
- No. I'm not a phony.
You go to hell!
Don't say that..
- Oona?
- What?
can I call you tomorrow?
His teeth
chattering violently
Holden Caulfield
stood on the corner
and waited for
the Madison Avenue bus.
It was..
...a long wait.
No, we -- we didn't
order champagne.
I did.
I asked you here
so we could celebrate.
Uh, ce -- celebrate
I have some
exciting news.
"The New Yorker" read
"Slight Rebellion
Off Madison."
And they want
to publish it.
- "The New Yorker?"
- Yes!
They love your
Holden Caulfield character
they feel he's
completely original.
I'm so happy
for you, Jerry.
"The New Yorker."
I can't believe it!
Well, believe it,
my love.
To publishing.
It really is everything.
Now, they have
a couple of notes
that they want you
to address.
- Notes?
- Yes.
All writers have to
go through this
with every magazine
and "The New Yorker"
has more notes than most.
They want all their
stories to have
a "New Yorker"
signature to them.
What if I don't want
to do the notes?
They told me their
problems with the story.
Should I tell you?
Sure. Sure. Okay.
Tell me their problems.
First off, they think
Holden's drinking
comes out of nowhere.
They want it to be clearer
he's an alcoholic.
No, but...he's not
an alcoholic, he's..
He's just getting drunk
because he's depressed
about the girl.
Well, they think
that's unclear.
I don't, I think
that's perfectly clear.
Well, maybe you can make
a slight adjustment
so it's not confusing
for some people.
Also, they think it would
be nice if, in the end
Holden and Sally
got back together.
They specifically said
we don't need to see it
we just want the reader
to have a sense that
they'll end up --
But they don't
end up together.
That's not what happens.
- Why not?
- Because people
don't end up together.
It usually
doesn't work out.
Okay, look, I know
in every goddamn story,
and every goddamn magazine
the couple always
falls in love
with a stupid kiss
to make us feel
all warm and fuzzy
and full of
Christmas cheer,
but that's not
what happens
in real life.
Someone always gets
their heart broken
and has a hard time
getting over it.
Sometimes, they drink
because they're upset,
even though they're
not alcoholics.
I just want my writing
to be truthful.
That's all.
So, what would you like me
to tell them?
Tell them I'm very
open to notes
but Holden's not
an alcoholic, and they
don't end up together.
Those are the only
notes, Jerry.
Well, tell them I won't
make those changes.
You're so talented.
Give Oona
a little twirl?
So, get this, I told Oona
about "The New Yorker.."
- And?
- We've already
been out three times.
- To "The New Yorker!"
- To "The New Yorker!"
Did they have any notes?
- Who?
- "The New Yorker."
Did they have any notes
on the story?
Well, I'm not surprised
they loved it.
That Holden character
is fantastic.
It's exactly what
I've been telling you
about digging deeper.
Yeah. Yeah, I -- I felt it
when I was writing him.
It...just flowed out
of me.
I want to keep
writing stories about him.
You should.
- You okay there, boss?
- Ah..
Between you and me, things
aren't great at "Story."
Money is tight.
I mean, Martha watches
the finances, and me.
Apparently, I'm still
spending too much money.
You'll have to
shut it down?
No, no, we'll be
alright for now.
But it's been
tough on us.
I got an eye.
I can spot talent
coming a mile away.
Saroyan, Cheever,
I discovered them all.
Of course, it would
be nice if somebody
discovered me.
Hey, come on,
you've been published.
I not only
discovered them
I shaped them.
I challenged them.
This is me.
You should..
...continue to write
about Holden
but not
as a short story.
Well, hang on, wait.
Wait, wait, wait.
What do you mean?
I think Holden Caulfield
is a novel.
No, I -- I couldn't
write a whole novel.
I'm a dash man,
not a miler.
You only say that
because you're lazy.
Holden Caulfield..
...deserves an entire
book, all on his own.
Well, a novel
is a lot of words.
It's just more words.
Imagine the book
that you would
want to read.
And then go write it.
Hey! Mom.
What's wrong?
Hey, what is it?
What's happened?
We interrupt this
broadcast to bring you
this important bulletin
from the United Press.
We have witnessed
this morning
the attack
of Pearl Harbor
and the severe bombing
of Pearl Harbor
by army planes.
Undoubtedly Japanese.
It's no joke.
It's a real war.
I don't care what you say,
I'm sending you socks
every week, and you had
better wear them.
Please, you'll
embarrass me.
They're gonna supply
everything I need.
Everyone, can I have
your attention, please?
As you all know,
tomorrow morning
our son, Jerry,
is going off to war.
Perhaps this will turn him
into the man
I know he is
destined to become.
And I would like
to propose a toast
to the best student
I've ever had.
To Jerry!
A wonderful writer,
an inspiration
and a great friend.
To Jerry!
- To Jerry!
- To Jerry!
This may not be
the best timing
but I have
some bad news.
Really? What?
"The New Yorker"
isn't going to run
the Holden Caulfield
Um, why not?
They think
it's too frivolous
now that we've
entered the war.
I'm sorry, Jerry.
No. It's fine.
Promise you'll
wait for me.
- I promise.
- Really?
Of course, Jerry.
Well, she is an actress.
Hey, hey, mark my words,
I will marry that girl.
Well, it's a good thing
her father is
a comedy writer.
Anyway, how's everything
at the home front
with you?
You, uh, good with Martha?
Chewing your ear?
Everything in my home
is fine
because what you'll learn
about having a wife
is that, occasionally,
she just needs to yell
to feel better.
Oh, and by the way,
I'm awfully sorry
about "The New Yorker."
How'd you know
about that?
Oh, please.
They canned
the Caulfield story
because you wouldn't take
any of their notes.
You know, you cannot be
a pain in the ass
until you're a success.
Oh, yeah?
Well, to hell
with "The New Yorker."
You know what?
I'll put it in
an anthology
with the other short --
No, no, no! Don't do that!
Don't do that!
Don't do that
to Holden Caulfield!
He deserves a novel!
- You really think so?
- I know so!
He's a fantastic
Listen to me.
While you're over there,
you know, uh
getting the clap from
all those French whores
do me a favor..
I want you to
write about him.
I want Holden Caulfield
to be your best friend.
And listen to me.
Stay alive! Alright?
Stay alive!
No matter what!
After I enlisted
in the army, I bounced
from base to base
until they finally
shipped me off
to England.
I knew army food
would be bad
but they promised us
a steak dinner
the night before
the big invasion.
I just couldn't start
the Caulfield novel.
That's why I kept
sending you short stories
for the anthology
I was writing instead.
I had never written
anything so personal.
That's why he was
a first-person character.
I didn't want to
begin Holden's story
because I was scared
I wouldn't live
long enough to finish it.
[dramatic music]
Hey, Jerry.
How's your girlfriend?
I wish they'd all just
forget about it.
- Bye, lover boy.
- Come on, Jerry.
You're the first guy
to ever get dumped
on the front page
of every newspaper
in the country.
It's pretty nuts.
Chaplin's old enough
to be her father.
Well, what can I say?
Everyone loves
that little tramp.
In a scandal that has
rocked the nation
the biggest movie star
in the world,
Charlie Chaplin
has married
the 18-year-old daughter
of famed playwright
Eugene O'Neill,
who has declared that
she has finally met
her true love.
[Oona chuckles]
It's just more words.
"Holden Caulfield,"
she said.
"It's marvelous to
see you. It's been ages."
She had one of those
very loud,
embarrassing voices
when you
met her somewhere.
She got away with it
because she was
so damned good-looking
but it always gave me
a pain in the ass.
"It's swell to see you,"
I said.
I meant it too.
"How are you, anyway?"
"Grand," she said.
If there is one word
I hate, it's grand.
It's so phony.
This is a momentous
hour in world
history. D-Day.
The men of General
Dwight D. Eisenhower
are fighting their
way up the beaches
in fire and blood
into the fortress
of Nazi Europe.
Casualties in this
mammoth operation
may reach
a dreadful toll.
I had stormed Normandy
with six chapters
in my back.
And I'd be lying
if I didn't tell you
Holden got me through
some rough spells.
He gave me something
to focus on
when things weren't
going so hot.
That's one of the things
I love the most
about writing.
Your mind keeps on
working on your stories
whether you've got a pen
or a gun in your hand.
It just never
stops creating.
Hey, you okay?
You gotta shoot me!
Shoot me!
Hey, hey..
I did everything I could
to keep on writing.
I really did.
No pen. No typewriter.
To hell with them.
I kept on telling
Holden's story
even if it was
only to myself.
I thought I'd get
pneumonia, and then
I'd probably die.
M -- millions of..
...j -- jer -- jerks
at my funer..
f -- funeral.
[footsteps approaching]
Jerry! Jerry!
You're gonna be
alright, okay?
Alright? You just got to
warm up a bit, okay?
Come on. Here we go.
Hey. Hey, you just
got to warm up.
How about the socks
your mom sent you?
She's a smart lady,
Jer, alright?
Take 'em.
They'll keep you
warm, alright.
I'm not going anywhere.
[instrumental music]
[music continues]
Jerry? Can you hear me?
Jerry, I want you
to look at me.
Could you look
at me, Jerry?
Squeeze my hand
if you can hear me.
[dramatic music]
I'm truly sorry
you wasted all that
time on me.
But you gotta believe me
when I tell you
I have nothing
left to say..
Holden Caulfield
or anything else,
for that matter.
Sincerely yours
Jerry Salinger.
[doorbell ringing]
He's here!
- Is he still crazy?
- Shh!
Welcome home, sonny!
All the way home
from Germany!
Hey, mom.
- Doris, hey.
- Jerry.
Uh, this is my wife.
Well, this is
my mom, Miriam.
This is my sister,
And that's
my father, Sol.
So, sonny,
you were, uh..
You were interrogating
Nazis after the war?
Yeah, yeah, we were
trying to find out
where all the Nazis
were hiding.
That sounds exciting.
So, Sylvia,
what do you do?
She's a rodeo clown.
It's a joke.
I'm an ophthalmologist
by trade.
Before the war.
When did you two
get married?
About six months ago.
Oh. That's when you
stopped responding
to our letters.
I know.
Well, I..
I haven't written a word
in over a year.
Well, I hope you're gonna
write stories again.
Maybe after Whit publishes
"The Young Folks"
It's the only reason
why I came home.
And to see all of you.
[instrumental music]
[no audio]
Most of these, I wrote
before I went to Europe
but a few, I wrote
during the war.
And what about
the Caulfield novel?
Where are you with that?
About halfway.
When do you think
you're gonna finish?
I just..
I can't work
on it anymore.
- Why not?
- It brings back
too many memories..
I want to forget it all.
Well, have you
written anything
since you got back?
I tried, I ju..
I just can't do it.
Well, we'll publish
your anthology
and I'll bet before long
you'll be back
at that typewriter.
I hope so.
I'm not getting
enough sleep, so it's
hard to concentrate.
And sometimes, I..
I wake up, and I'm -- I'm
s -- screaming.
Well, these are
all very common
post-war symptoms, Jerry.
And have you been
painting, at all?
No. No, 'cause I'm not
a painter, I'm a writer.
Yes, of course. Writer.
No, with the nightmares,
I just..
Sometimes, I have
flashbacks of the camps
during the day too.
It's almost like
I'm there.
I can smell..
Is there anything
I can do for that?
No, these are all
very common occurrences
from soldiers
returning from combat.
It's just a phase.
[instrumental music]
So, you've been
No. No, I haven't touched
a drop in years.
Oh, that's right. You
joined a temperance union.
Joined? You mean,
I also joined
the divorce union.
Well, kind of more...
annulled, if you want to
get technical about it.
- What happened?
- Something that
never should've.
I think she might
be a Nazi.
Are you serious?
[Jerry chuckles]
I don't know. Maybe.
I ju..
Well, now see,
that is something
you should write about.
Have you
started up again?
No, um..
You know...I think once
the anthology is published
that'll hopefully
get me going again.
The anthology has
just turned out to be..
...a little
more complicated
than I thought.
Well, you know we don't
publish on our own
we don't have the money
for it, so we have this
relationship with
Lippincott to finance
the long form, and..
They've rejected
the book.
They -- they don't
want to publish it.
So, y -- you're not
going to publish
"The Young Folks" --
I -- I nearly ended
the relationship with --
You nearly ended
the relationship?
How nearly brave of you
that must have been!
- Come on.
- No. No, no, that
means a lot to me.
I mean, you know
that was the only reason
I came back from Germany.
You knew how much
it meant to me.
- How much I needed that!
- At least it
brought you home.
I didn't want
to come home!
Jerry, I'm sorry,
there's nothing
I can do, alright?
I went to war
with these guys over this.
War? War?
- War? You went to war
with these guys?
- I'm sorry.
No, that was a bad
choice of words.
I didn't mean --
- I landed on D-Day!
- I understand --
No, no, no, no, no.
You have no idea.
I'm only alive because
we missed our landing
by a thousand yards.
But I saw them
all get killed.
I saw every single
one of them get killed!
- I should be dead too.
I shouldn't be here.
- Jerry, I'm sorry.
Don't sit there
and tell me how
you fought for this!
You are a liar!
You're a goddamn liar!
And I never want to
see you again!
Hey, mister.
I have a question
for you.
Where do you think
the ducks go in the winter
when the pond
freezes over?
I'm sorry, pal,
I ain't got no idea.
Hey, you, uh,
do you wanna smoke?
Yeah, thank you.
Hey, you want a,
you want a nip?
Don't mind if I do.
- Have you got a light?
- I think I do.
[Jerry groans]
Hey! Hey! I'm a veteran!
I'm a veteran,
goddammit! Stop..
[indistinct chatter]
[instrumental music]
[people humming]
What are you all doing?
[instrumental music]
I keep having nightmares
about the war,
almost every night.
I wake up screaming.
And you also see it
during the day.
How'd you know?
Before I studied
the teachings
of Ramakrishna
I was a Freedom Fighter
in India against
the British.
It was the violence
I witnessed that led me
on the same path
that has led you to me.
Do you think
the nightmares
will ever go away?
Oh, yes.
But first, you must heal
from the violence
that has been inflicted
upon your soul.
But how?
Our religion
consists of meditation
on the spirit
of full consciousness.
Come. Remove your shoes.
This is how we will
begin to heal the pain.
Those are very
handsome shoes.
Thank you.
Come. Sit.
Very good.
Now, close your eyes.
It's alright.
It won't hurt you.
Ultimate reality
is an all-pervading..
...eternal spirit.
It is the consciousness
that animates
all conscious beings.
[instrumental music]
I, I try to write.
Every day, I sit
at the typewriter,
but I can't start.
What do you think about
when you stare
at the blank page?
Well, that it
won't be good.
That I've lost
my talent.
So, what if you have?
Then I shouldn't write.
You write to show off
your talent?
Or to express
what's in your heart?
I finally
started yesterday.
- Good.
- No, it wasn't good.
I mean, the writing
was terrible, and I
only managed one page.
Then what happened?
Did you enjoy it?
- Writing?
- No, ripping up the page.
I ripped up
five pages yesterday.
Sounds like fun.
[instrumental music]
[music continues]
Seymour Glass.
"Are you going
in the water,
Seymour Glass?" she said.
He suddenly
got to his feet.
He looked at the ocean.
"I'll tell you
what we'll do.
"We'll see if we can
catch a bananafish.
This is a perfect day
for bananafish."
[knock on door]
Well, I love what you've
done with the place.
You're writing again?
The Caulfield novel?
Uh, no. No,
I -- I tried.
- But..
- Thank you.
You know,
it's just some..
...short stories,
I've been working on them.
They're not very good,
but at least
I'm getting pages done.
Well, that's why
I'm here.
You remember that story
that "The New Yorker"
was going to publish?
"Slight Rebellion
Off Madison."
My first
Caulfield story.
Well, they've been
reviewing all their
past submissions
from before the war,
and they are considering
publishing it.
- Yes, really.
- Oh.
I don't know
if you remember
but they had
specific notes
you didn't want to take.
And if you want them
to publish it
you're going to have to
make their changes.
Oh, come on,
at least hear them out.
is everything.
Well, "The New Yorker"
holds a special place
in American literature
and it's important to us
that our stories
have a uniform vision.
We want the reader to be
able to read a story
and know that
it could only run
in "The New Yorker."
Well, that's exactly
what I don't want.
You don't want
to be...published
in "The New Yorker?"
No. No, I love
"The New Yorker."
I just don't want
to write stories
like everyone else.
You know, the war hero
doesn't always
get a parade.
Sometimes, he blows
his head off.
I want to create
a new form of writing
a modern form
about modern society
in which the pain
of our existence
is laid out truthfully
for everyone to see.
I'll make
a deal with you.
If you try the notes
and don't feel they make
your story better
then I'll submit
your original version.
I don't want
Holden and Sally
to end up together.
That's not what happens
in real life,
at least not in my life.
Well, that's fine.
It was just
a thought we had.
I thought it was
a big sticking point
for you.
Not if you feel that
it destroys the integrity
of the piece.
Look, Jerry, I'm not
trying to take
your story over
or write it for you.
You have
a wonderful voice,
but you over-explain.
You know, trust that
the reader is going
to understand you.
What do you mean
I over-explain?
[instrumental music]
It's better.
Your notes worked.
You're welcome.
I'll submit it to
Harold Ross and the team.
It should take a few weeks
to get an answer.
I wanted to give you
another story I wrote.
I thought you could
help me make it better.
Well, shouldn't
"Bananafish," be
two wor --
- No, it has to be one.
- Why?
Because two words would
make too much sense.
Dear Jerry, I've sent you
several letters
but you never respond.
I hope you believe me
when I tell you there
was nothing I could do.
I begged them
to publish it,
I really did.
And now I'm begging
for your forgiveness.
Because I -- I truly..
I've read several
of your stories
and they're very
for someone your age.
My writing changed
a lot after the war.
The war changed
a lot of writers.
The ones that survived.
Jerry, I brought you here
today because I wanted
to tell you personally
that "The New Yorker"
would like to publish you.
Uh, which -- which
All of them.
All of them?
I would like
to offer you a
first rejection contract.
We'll pay you
a handsome yearly salary
and in return,
we get to read
all of your stories first.
The ones
we don't publish
you're free to sell
to other magazines.
It's the most
prestigious contract
in American publishing.
Congratulations, Jerry.
You did it.
I love to hear
our laughter mingle
Hah hah ho ho
Gliding through
the snow
May I present
Jerry Salinger?
Peggy Siskin.
"The New Yorker's"
incipient Great man
of American Letters.
Jerry, if I may,
I am also a writer.
I thought "Uncle Wiggily
In Connecticut"
was marvelous.
I'm simply dying
for your next story.
When Seymour Glass
shot himself
you weren't just
talking about the war
you were talking
about the bourgeois
capitalist infrastructure
of a modern plutocracy.
Or maybe it was the war.
But it's really
up to the reader.
Jerry is in
the very beginnings
of his first novel.
And Bill says you may be
writing a novel.
So, when are you going
to write a novel?
- Hopefully, it won't
be too long.
- Let's get a picture.
Ooh, thank you so much.
The main picture.
Here we are.
Jing a ling jing
a ling jing a ling
There's one thing that's
been weighing on me.
A novel I'm trying to..
Wanting to finish,
but can't.
I'm scared if I work
on it, the nightmares
will come back.
Is it about the war?
No, it's about
a character I wrote about
during the war.
He was with me
everywhere I went.
Every time you attempt
to work on it
you feel the war again.
You know, you never
really get the smell
of burning flesh
out of your nostrils.
Perhaps finishing
this book is the way
for you to move on.
There's just
so many distractions
everywhere, I..
Then you must
remove distractions.
[instrumental music]
Well, this is it.
It gets a little drafty,
but the price is right.
What are you gonna
do up here?
Oh, just
a little writing.
I'll just tell you about
this madman stuff
that happened to me
around last Christmas..
...just before I got
pretty run-down.
Finally, what I decided
I'd do, I decided
I'd go away.
I decided I'd never
go home again.
I'd never go away
to another school again.
That way, I wouldn't
have to have any
goddamned stupid
useless conversations
with anybody.
I keep picturing
all these little kids
playing some game
in this big field
of rye and all.
Thousands of little kids,
and nobody's around
nobody big, I mean,
except me.
And I'm standing
on the edge
of some crazy cliff.
What I have to do,
I have to catch everybody
if they start to go
over the cliff.
I mean, if they're
running, and they don't
look where they're going
I have to come out
from somewhere,
and catch them.
And that's all
I'd do, all day.
I'd just be the catcher
in the rye and all.
I know it's crazy
but that's the only thing
I'd really like to be.
- Jerry!
- Hi.
Thanks so much
for stopping by.
- Well, thank you.
- It's great to meet you.
- Mr. Giroux, a pleasure.
- Robert. Please
call me Robert.
- Have a seat.
- Thank you.
It's such an honor
to have you here.
Well, I'm sorry for
stopping by unannounced.
I just wanted to speak
to you personally.
No apologies necessary.
I don't know
if you remember,
but a year ago
you sent me the kindest
letter about my writing
asking if you could
publish a book
of my short stories.
Of course.
I love those stories.
Uh, I just completed
my first novel, and, um..
If -- if -- if you like,
I -- I -- I..
I'd like you
to publish it.
Ah, I am honored
you'd think of me.
When can I read it?
You know, the pages
of this book
were with me
when I stormed
the beaches of Normandy.
I wrote them
in Hitler's death camps
and in the hospital,
where I could barely
remember my own name.
I don't think I'd be
alive if it wasn't
for this book.
I'm really
flattered, Jerry.
Is it a war story?
No, it's about
a troubled kid
the Christmas holidays.
Well, I know you wanted us
to give you some helpful
notes on the novel
but the truth is,
we both think it has
a lot of problems.
I just don't buy Holden.
That's the whole book.
Well, he seems phony,
as he would like to say.
He's so negative
all the time, it just
doesn't feel real.
And your style is too
I feel you're trying
to be clever
on almost every page.
Well, did you at least
think it was funny?
Yes, but in a way
where I feel the writer
is being too witty.
You're making
a real name for yourself
and I would hate
for this book to throw
that goodwill away.
The best note I can
give you, is to just
put it in a drawer
for a year or two.
- It's that bad?
- I'm afraid it is.
[lighter clicks]
I loved it, Jerry,
I really did.
Thank God.
But these things
are never easy.
What do you mean?
My boss didn't get it.
But I fought for it
and he said he'd be
willing to publish
if you did
a major re-write.
What does he
want re-written?
He doesn't
understand Holden..
...what makes him tick,
and...I gotta admit
I found him
confusing at times.
He hates everything.
And he -- he's always
so sarcastic. Holden
supposed to be crazy?
Are you okay?
No, I've thought
about it, and I can't
do a re-write.
I won't do it, I'm not
gonna change a word.
Holden would
never approve.
You might not have to.
What do you mean?
but I sent it
to one person, just
to test the waters.
- Who?
- John Woodburn
at Little, Brown.
Well, how was the water?
- Very hot.
- He -- he liked it?
No, he loved it!
He thinks it's
an American masterpiece.
He -- he --
he said, "Masterpiece?"
That's what he said.
And, wait,
you told him I wouldn't
make any changes?
Yes, I told him that
that could be a problem,
and he still wants
to meet with you
to discuss marketing
and distribution.
Hold on. Marketing?
We also love this one
for the cover.
Holden in his
red hunting hat.
I hate it.
So what's wrong
with this one?
The reader needs to
imagine for themselves
what they want
Holden to look like.
What if we just use
it for the galleys?
- I think
it would be really --
- Unh-unh. No.
I don't want
any galleys sent out.
Advance copies
are crucial
for publicity purposes.
I don't want
any publicity.
You don't want
any publicity?
I don't care
if it's successful
I just want it
to be good.
The less attention
the book gets
the more the story
will affect people.
It won't affect anyone
if they don't read it.
This isn't about me
or publicity, or reviews.
This is about Holden.
Jerry.. you want us
to publish this book
or merely to print it?
Because if you
just want a printer
then I suggest you type up
a few hundred copies
and send them
out yourself!
Fine, you can
send out galleys
for advance reviews.
Thank you, Jerry.
That's very generous
of you.
But I don't want to read
a single review, so don't
send them to me, okay?
Receiving rapturous
reviews, the debut novel
of J.D. Salinger
is being heralded
as the break-out
book of the year.
If a body
meet a body
Comin' through
the rye
If a body
kiss a body
Need a body cry?
Every lassie
has her laddie
None they say
have I
Yet all the lads
they smile at me
When comin' through
The rye
And all the lads
They smile at me
When comin' through
The rye
And do you feel peace?
Excuse me. Mr. Salinger?
E -- excuse me.
Um. Uh, I -- I just
wanted to talk to you.
I -- I feel like..
...I'm Holden Caulfield.
An -- and I just..
Now, I -- I need
to talk to you
a -- about the book.
About Holden.
Why, everything
I have to say,
I wrote in the book.
But.. do you know
so much about me?
Well, I -- I don't.
It's a -- it's just
a work of fiction.
I'm -- I'm just
a fiction writer.
Hey, tha -- thank you
for saying hello.
Bu -- but I'm Holden!
Uh.. Um.. Uh..
I -- I'm
Holden Caulfield!
You're a phony!
Like everyone else!
Sorry. I didn't
want to wake you.
No, no, no.
You -- you -- you didn't.
I was always worried
you wouldn't
be able
to pay your rent.
Now, I gotta worry about
deranged fans
attacking you.
You should
take your photo off
all those book covers.
I never knew
you worried at all.
Since the day
you were born.
When I was a boy, I..
I -- I wanted
to be a pianist.
I loved playing so much.
But my father
was a Rabbi
so he just couldn't
understand how I..
...I would be able
to support myself
and he -- he forced me
to stop playing.
I was upset.
But...I -- I knew
he loved me.
He just -- he just
wanted me to be okay.
I've never even
heard you play.
But I was good.
You're Holden Caulfield,
Your mother was right.
You are..
...very talented.
Thank you.
Now, you just gotta write
another one even better.
No pressure.
Goodnight, sonny.
[indistinct chatter]
I hear people
talking about "Catcher"
everywhere I go.
Everyone just loves it.
I'm so excited
to read your next book.
I'll be back.
Is your steak okay?
I -- I'm just
not very hungry.
Oh. Uh, Could you eat
something else, maybe?
No. Excuse me.
You okay?
Yeah, I'm fine.
You know, there's
a dinner party
going on in there.
Yeah, I'm just a little
uncomfortable right now.
It's just a book.
I didn't even like it
that much, if you wanna
know the truth.
What didn't you
like about it?
Well, it was just like all
those other phony books.
A lot of whining,
and the ending
was a lousy bore.
You shouldn't
take yourself
so seriously, you know.
It's not like
you're the first guy
to write a hit book.
Can I get
your phone number?
Got a pen?
I got some...paper, too.
What's your name?
- Claire.
- Claire.
You're the first person
that's ever said
they hated it.
To your face.
Thank you.
You have captured
the consciousness
of the nation.
You've tapped into
the way many feel
and have given a voice
to their pain.
I can't go home anymore.
I wrote the book
to get over the war.
Now, I feel like I'm going
crazy all over again.
Have you not yet learned
how to remove distraction?
New Hampshire is
really beautiful
this time of year.
It's 90 acres,
mostly woods.
The house is modest,
but very nice.
There's also
a small bunker
that can be converted
to a guest house.
- Or an office.
- Whatever you want.
I think you'll be
really happy here.
I hope so.
keys clacking]
An artist's
only concern
is to shoot for
some kind of perfection.
And on his own terms,
not anyone else's.
Excuse me. Mr. Salinger?
Since you write
about teenagers
I thought you might be
interested in running
a youth group.
I think the kids
would love it.
- I would too.
- Great!
Yeah. They're right
over here. Well..
Yet a real artist,
I've noticed
will survive anything.
You invite me
all the way out here
and then walk away
as soon as you see me?
No. I'm...sorry.
I thought you
were one of those
crazed Caulfield fans.
You should be so lucky.
Hey, you look beautiful.
What do you think?
It's just as you said
in your letters.
It's like the city
without the city.
Do you hate it?
I grew up
in foster homes, Jerry.
As long as you're here,
it's perfect.
Her skin was lovely.
And her features
were delicate.
No one could have
missed saying
that she was
a first-class beauty.
He's overjoyed with
his new spiritual life.
And he goes on
saying his prayer
and telling everyone
he happens to meet
how to say it too.
Hey, Mr. Salinger.
I know you're
very private,
but I -- I was wondering
if I could interview you
for my school newspaper.
They want me to write
an article about someone
I admire and,
and you'd be perfect.
Well, I stopped
doing interviews
a while ago.
But for a school paper
I can certainly
make an exception.
- Really?
- Of course.
The kids at school
are gonna love it!
Thank you. Thank you.
Is "Catcher In The Rye"
Sort of.
My boyhood was very much
the same as that
of the boy in the book.
You know, I had
problems in school
just like he did.
To be honest,
it was a great relief
telling people about it.
And why do most
of your stories
center on young people?
they're innocent.
And they haven't
been destroyed
by the world yet.
I guess part of me
wishes I could still
be that innocent
but I've seen the things
I've seen, and..
I know I'll never have
that innocence again.
That girl who interviewed
you the other day
was very pretty.
So, you seem to like
pretty, young girls.
Yes, that would
put me in that
special classification
known as a man.
Well, I hope you'll
still love me when I'm not
a pretty young girl.
Of course I will.
- No.
- What?
That interview..
The interview
with the girl, it was..
It was printed
in the local paper
not the school paper.
- So?
- So..
She lied to me,
she said it was
for the school paper.
- She lied!
- It's okay, Jerry.
- It's gonna be okay.
- No. I trusted her!
- Now, Jerry, it's okay.
- I trusted her!
And she betrayed me!
Even the goddamn children
betray me now!
When people become
the distraction..
...then, I suppose
you remove the people.
There hasn't been
a single mention
of me or "Story Magazine"
in any of the press.
Not a single mention.
That's because you have
no official involvement
in the book.
But I published
his first story.
I'm the one
who convinced him
that Holden Caulfield
should be a novel.
Well, you would've
been the publisher
of the hottest
novel of the year
if you'd published
his anthology
like you promised him.
I haven't slept
for six months.
And I miss him.
Well, I'm sorry
about that.
Lippincott says
that they'll publish
an anthology now.
Anything he wants.
Everyone wants
an anthology.
But we're going
with Little, Brown,
out of loyalty
although I hate
the title.
"Nine Stories."
It's such a bore.
Do you think
Jerry would write
a piece for "Story?"
It doesn't have to be
a new piece.
It -- it can be
an old story.
It -- it -- it's fine.
We're...we're just
really struggling.
I already asked him.
He said no.
How can he still
be angry with me?
He's a huge success now.
It hasn't been
easy on him.
The war made him
a better writer
but it really
messed him up.
keys clacking]
It seems to me,
indisputably true
that artists and poets
who have a reputation
for producing a great
or fine art
have something
garishly wrong
with them as persons.
A spectacular
flaw in character
or an extreme
And the public's thirst
for their next
supposed masterpiece
only makes them want to
hide from distractions
even more.
You've been in that studio
for over a week, Jerry.
A week writing
about the Glass family!
We're alone here, Jerry!
You can't just leave us
alone like this!
We are your family too.
[baby crying]
I have no friends here.
I have no one
to talk to.
I am all alone.
[baby crying]
I'm alone.
He's absolutely
unfit for marriage
or anything
halfway normal.
It's a sad fact
that the end of one story
always seems to grow into
the start of a new one.
And the tragedy is
there is simply nothing
he can do about it.
Please, you know
you're not supposed
to bother me in here.
I know.
But you have a phone call,
and he says
it's important.
Why? Who is it?
Whit Burnett.
No. No, I -- I don't
want to talk to him.
You'd think with
all that meditation
you'd have learned
to forgive by now.
- Hello?
- Jerry. Hi.
It's been a long time.
Yes, it has.
Li.. Uh, I never got
a chance to tell you
but I just loved
"Catcher In The Rye."
Thank you. It was
your idea to write it.'s one thing
to have an idea.
It's another thing
to execute it, and you did
so brilliantly.
- Thank you.
- Ho -- how's life
in the country?
- I -- I unders --
- It's fine, Whit.
What can I do for you?
Are you still angry
about what happened?
Is that why you called?
No. No,
I called because..
Look, "Story Magazine"
is going to do
an anthology
of short stories
and since you're
our most famous alumni
I...just thought
it would be fitting
if -- if you did
the introduction for us.
- O -- okay, what?
- Okay, I'll do it.
Yeah, you
sound surprised.
No, no,
I'm just thrilled.
I -- I..
Thank you.
Well, thank you
for buying my first story.
Well, it was the best
$25 I ever spent.
When I was 20, I was
a student for a time
in Whit Burnett's
short story course
up at Columbia.
I often have my doubts
whether any good
and conscientious
writing course conductor
can humanly do more.
He was there,
in the service
of the story.
It isn't too quiet
for you out here?
No, it's perfect.
But don't you miss
the action in the city?
It's just a distraction.
It's all a distraction.
It's important
I remove anything
that can interfere
with my writing.
Yeah, but don't you
have less to write about?
You're so isolated.
I mean, look, I liked
"Franny And Zooey."
It's just, it felt
a little bit more like
reading a religious
textbook than a story.
You always told me
to dig deeper.
- Correct?
- Yes.
I couldn't have
written "Catcher"
without the war.
But now I'm seeking
a higher calling
than a boy
and his hunting hat.
Wait a minute, Holden
changed the country.
There's now young people
all over the world
who feel they
finally have a voice
they never had before.
I know, yes,
and they're not afraid
to come here
and tell me.
Sometimes, I wish
I never wrote it.
I know, it's made me
a prisoner here.
I'm shackled by
my own creation.
Oh, come on, does it
have to be like that?
If I want to
keep writing, it does.
And that's the only time
I feel any sense of peace.
It's nice to see you
again, but I'm..
...curious why
you wanted to come
all the way up here
to talk to me.
It's about
the introduction
you wrote.
Look, I...I loved it.
It's beautiful,
I was very flattered.
Well, I'm glad
you enjoyed it.
But unfortunately,
I can't use it.
- You can't use it?
- No.
Because it's not about
"Story Magazine"
or the other writers.
It's just about me,
and it's just..
...inappropriate to use
as an introduction
for an anthology.
Why are you laughing?
Ever since we've met,
all you've done is
reject my writing.
I guess I was
foolish to think
that would end now.
Well, I never said
life as a writer
was going to be easy.
And as always,
you were right.
Goodbye, Whit.
[instrumental music]
As always, there are
multiple offers
for the film rights
to "Catcher."
Elia Kazan, Billy Wilder,
they both keep calling.
Tell them no.
And to stop calling.
It'd never
work as a movie.
Why not?
Because I'm the only one
that can play Holden.
I'm too old.
Little, Brown called
about your next book.
They asked if you were
still writing about
the Glass family.
They'll take anything.
Literally anything.
There is something I want
to talk to you about.
It's actually
the reason why
I came back to the city.
What is it?
I don't want
to publish anymore.
But people really love
to read your stories.
You'll have so many
disappointed fans.
Well, writing's..
It's become my religion.
Publishing, it -- it gets
in the way
of the meditation.
It corrupts it.
I don't know how to be
a husband or a father.
Or even a friend.
All I know
is how to be a writer.
If -- if I -- if I
can truly do this
if I can dedicate
my life to writing
and -- and get
nothing in return..
...then I think I can
find some happiness.
Then don't
publish anymore.
I love you, and I want
you to be happy.
And it's like
I always said..
isn't everything.
[dramatic music]
keys clacking]
[music continues]
Dear Whit, so to answer
the question you asked me
all those years ago..
I am willing to write
for the rest of my life
and get nothing
in return.
Sincerely yours,
J.D. Salinger.
[instrumental music]
[music continues]