Voila! Finally, the Finding Forrester
script is here for all you quotes spouting fans of the movie directed by Gus Van Sant and
starring Sean Connery, Rob Brown, Anna Paquin, Busta Rhymes, yadda yadda. This script is a transcript that was painstakingly
transcribed using the screenplay and/or viewings of Finding Forrester. I know, I know, I still need to get the cast names in there and I'll be eternally
tweaking it, so if you have any corrections, feel free to
drop me a line. You won't
hurt my feelings. Honest.
Jamal, are you awake?
I know you can hear me.
I'm writing all this down.
I have that thing with your teacher...
...then I'm working late. So you'll have to
take care of yourself for dinner, okay?
I thought you wanted to get up by 7:30.
Hear the chains sing?
Check that up, man.
Hold on. What up, J? Where you been?
I was up late
wondering how I'd save your ass out here.
What are you saving?
J, break him up, man.
You can't give him that.
- You can't give him that.
- I'm awake now.
You got something for me?
You got nothing for me.
A lot of good that's doing.
He's bringing something for the Window.
- You ever seen him?
- The Window?
No, but he see us, man.
Come on, man.
What's wrong with y'all?
Don't you want to play ball?
...Poe wrote his most famous piece,
A poem he wrote while he was strung out
on coke and obsessed with death.
The Raven is like the football team.
They're obsessed with death,
always get their ass kicked.
Baltimore Ravens: only pro football team
named after a classic poem.
Anyone read it?
"Once upon a midnight dreary
"while I pondered weak and weary"
Jamal, how about it?
I never read it.
Okay, I need those essays by next Tuesday.
My dad saw the Window, man.
About years ago.
Standing there like a ghost,
like the ones in our science books.
Just like that, man.
- He was white?
- Ain't milk white?
What ghost isn't white?
I'm just playing, man.
I heard he killed someone.
That's why he stays inside.
Listen, you got to kill an army
to have to hide here.
Y'all play too much. Remember Shurrita?
The one who lived below the Window?
She calls me up
this one night buggin', dog.
Saying how she heard a tapping sound
coming from the Window's place.
While she was on the phone,
she started screaming.
'Cause now the tapping has made its way
And now it was on the other side
of her door.
She could tell he was tapping
with some kind of knife.
And then the phone disconnected.
That was the last time we seen Shurrita.
Shurrita who lived across the street?
That girl is a crack ho.
No, she was nice.
All I know is the Window's bad news.
...if you went outside, you stayed away
from the Window's place.
We need to stay away from your lying ass.
You believe me, right?
You full of shit, dog.
Let me guess. You'd go up in there, right?
It's an old man looking out a window.
You'd go up there, right?
- He won't go.
- Let them know, J.
- He won't go.
- This nigga's scared.
Yo, I got the next call.
...I dare you to go up there, right?
Whatever, man. I'll go up there. Yeah.
- He's going.
- Big shot.
Bring it on.
That's my dog.
D, I believe you, dog.
Shut up. Go to class or something.
Here, man. Sit over here.
- Stop playing with me.
- This is my birthday.
Go over there.
- Fine. I won't sit near you.
- Take your apple, too.
- Miss Joyce?
- Good to see you.
- You, too. Come, sit down.
We got Jamal's test scores back.
- Test scores?
- Assessment tests.
All of the kids are required to take them.
He didn't tell you, did he?
Jamal maintains a C average...
...which means he does enough to get by
and just enough not to stand out.
What makes Jamal's case unusual
are his test results.
Oh, my God.
I see him reading these books all the time.
Books I never read.
Some I've never even heard of.
And he's always writing in his notebooks.
Ever since his father left.
But that's what I see.
All he ever talks about is basketball.
Basketball is where he gets his acceptance.
The kids here don't care about
what he can write.
Let's go! Between the yellow lines!
- How are you, Fly?
You looking for tickets, little bro?
Dead tonight. Sorry about that.
Come on. We know you got tickets.
I got four words for you:
Boss Tunn Red Sox.
The Yanks and Sox tickets
have been sold out for a month.
Okay, Mr. Fly? By the way...
...go tell Camry boy there
to back up his cheap-ass bumper...
...on that Mercedes over there.
Go handle that. Let's go, Fly!
What the hell, Jamal? Mom called.
- Told me about that test. What's up?
What do you mean, "nothing"?
This getting in the way
of your plans or something?
It was your plan first, T.
Yeah, I know. A little college ball...
...then start signing checks for everyone,
solve their problems.
Look at me, though.
Hold a minute.
Hold onto these.
I guess this makes it our plan now.
Don't tell nobody about them test scores.
Don't worry. I'm your brother, dog.
Whatever we discuss stays between us.
Love you, dog. All right?
Just remember one thing.
Mom will know when the game ends,
so you take your ass straight home.
Don't get into no trouble, man. Be careful.
Stay safe. Love, dog.
- Okay, T. Good lookin'.
- Be careful, man.
It stinks in here.
J, see that window?
He keeps that one cracked sometimes.
The light's been out for two hours.
You sure he asleep?
That Methuselah's a thousand years old.
That's all he ever do.
Yo, J, for the reals, I don't know about this.
I think I'm... Shit!
I think I'm pulling the call.
- No, I got this one.
- Yo, Fly.
- Keep it. You got to bring something out.
Man, you hear us, drop down, okay?
Don't stay in there too long.
I got you.
This is rickety.
Oh, shit! Yo, you got something?
- What happened?
You son of a bitch!
Dickheads, he wasn't asleep.
- Did you see him?
- Not for long.
Stop bouncing that damn ball in the house.
I got Michael Jordan's name
written in dirt all over my floor.
Don't worry, I'll clean it.
I got a better chance
of Michael Jordan cleaning it.
If you're thinking of a shower,
the hot water's a bit slow.
- I wasn't thinking of it.
- Where's your pack?
- I don't know.
- "Don't know"?
What do you mean, you don't know?
We wanted you to bring something,
not leave something.
Why don't you leave it alone?
What was in your bag?
I'm not talking about the damn bag.
I bet you ain't.
Let me teach you something.
Watch the eyes.
He's probably watching you now.
You don't know about that, man.
Here's how you do it.
I won't do anything to your car.
You look worried,
like I'll do something to your car.
I worry about this car everywhere.
Don't take it personally.
It's just a car, man.
No, it's not "just a car." It's a BMW.
Anyone who knows anything
about that company...
...knows that it's more than "just a car."
Anybody who knows about that company?
So I wouldn't know anything like that.
No, that's not what I meant.
Last thing I knew about BMW...
...was it made plane engines
when it first started.
A guy by the name of Franz Popp
started it all.
Franz Popp. I like that name.
Made this one engine before .
It flew six miles up.
Popp and his boys
were just getting started.
They made this one engine, the
World War II, cylinders...
... horsepower, seven miles up.
With more time, they'd have bombed
the shit out of England...
...maybe even won the war.
That's where this comes from.
White propeller zipping around a blue sky.
After the war, we told them
they couldn't make plane engines.
That's when BMW
gave some serious thought to making cars.
Kind of like this one.
You probably knew all that,
seeing as you lease one.
Thanks for the history lesson.
No problem, man.
Messin' with my stuff, man.
The other night was...
It was just this dare thing
me and my boys do.
I was wondering
if I could bring you more of my stuff...
...or maybe I could write something else.
How about words on
why you'll stay the fuck out of my home?
Come on, man. I know you're in there.
Take your goddamn hand off my door.
I just came...
...to drop off that thing you asked me for.
The words on why you wanted me
to stay out of your place.
That's kind of what you said.
Well, try remembering it
exactly as I said it.
Come on in, Jamal.
Mrs. Wallace, Jamal,
when we got your recent test scores...
...we thought the private schools
might show some interest.
Well, we were right.
- Mr. Bradley.
- My name is David Bradley.
I'm with the Mailor School in Manhattan.
That's right. You're familiar with us?
Mailor-Callow is not only
the best prep school in the city...
...it's one of the finest private schools
on the East Coast.
Only the best go there.
We're a few weeks into our fall term...
...but every year we hold some openings
until the test scores come in.
Jamal, your test scores, to put it mildly...
...caught our attention.
I'm here to see if you'd be interested
in attending our school.
Leaving for another school,
especially a private one, won't be easy.
But this isn't the right place
for you anymore.
It's not a difficult choice.
...there is no way we could pay for this.
We're not asking you to.
When Dr. Simon said
only the best go to Mailor...
...he forgot to say our commitment
to excellence goes beyond the classroom.
- I figured that.
- We thought you might.
Mrs. Wallace, of our students
have gone on to play college ball.
Three have made it to professional level.
...your play last year
and while this is a strictly academic offer...
...we won't be disappointed if you play.
All we ask is you come out,
take a look, think it over.
- Mrs. Wallace.
- Thank you.
- We'll be in touch.
I didn't knock this time.
- To whom were you speaking?
- I'll tell you if I get my words back.
Bolt the door if you're coming in.
The man in the car?
He was from this private school.
They want me to go there.
We don't have to pay anything, though.
My mom and I live
a couple of blocks from here.
My brother was there a few years ago,
but he left after my dad left.
My mom got tired of waiting
for my dad to get clean.
And my dad got tired of trying.
That's when I started writing.
What's your name?
Sounds like some kind of marmalade.
How old are you?
And you're black.
- It's remarkable.
It's remarkable I'm black? What does me
being black have to do with anything?
You don't know what to do right now,
If you say what you really want to,
I may not read any more of this.
But if you let me run you down
with this racist bullshit...
...what does that make you?
I'm not playing this game, man.
I say you are playing it.
An expression is worth a thousand words.
Perhaps in your case, just two.
Bum-ass old man.
"One hand to give, one to receive,
as we eat together in unity.
"May our minds,
bodies and spirits grow strong.
"And congratulations to Jamal. Amen."
Did you see this?
- Let me see.
- Don't mess it up.
From the cover,
this looks like the funny-man school to me.
Terrell, eat your food.
You'll be fine.
Mommy don't make nothing but soldiers.
You could have done the same thing.
I work at a parking lot,
and I'm no regular lot attendant.
I am the supervisor
of all the parking lot attendants.
You never know how much you'll make
from week to week.
One week it's $ the next it's $ .
- That's not a real job.
- Ma, leave him alone.
I rap. You know I got my rap thing going.
Don't bring up the rap. Eat your food.
- Want to hear a song?
- Eat your food.
I'll sing it for you.
"When I come due
When I blow the spot
"Your son, the supervisor
Of the parking lot"
Tell it, Jamal, my voice is hot, right?
- Hi. I'm Claire Spence.
Bradley asked me to show you around.
Don't worry about answering any questions
until you decide what you're going to do.
Besides, the teachers here...
...aren't that into student participation.
They prefer to hear themselves talk.
- What do you mean?
- You'll see.
This morning, we begin
our third required reading of the semester.
The study of a novel
that offers everything...
...and an author
who could have offered much more.
That's Robert Crawford. He's been here
as long as most of the buildings.
When William Forrester was in ...
...he set out to write his first book.
Many aspiring authors talked about
writing the great th century novel.
William Forrester did it...
...on his first try.
Have you read this?
Only about a dozen times.
This was the only book
he chose to publish.
For all we know,
it was the only one he chose to write.
Your job over the next week
is to read it and tell me why.
...will you be back tomorrow?
Yeah. They want me to spend some time
on the court.
Graduation was a little rough
on last year's team.
But it's just like college, right?
You get an education
and they get what they want.
Maybe you both get what you want.
It was very nice meeting you, Jamal.
You, too, Claire.
Will you be around tomorrow?
Not where you'll be, but...
...you might find me for lunch.
- I didn't say those two words yesterday.
- Why not?
I want you to read more of my stuff.
They talk a lot about you out there.
All this legend bullshit.
They got some stories.
People wonder if you killed someone.
That, and wondering why
you been in here so long.
I wouldn't move. It's quiet.
You don't hear nothing in here.
Our place has noisy neighbours.
Their kid is always yelling,
'cause he's a year old...
...or pops yells
'cause the kid is making noise.
Then mom, on top of that, is yelling.
But it's a different kind of yelling, 'cause...
...the old man's playing tunes for her and
she's banging her head against the wall...
...and she's screaming...
You better stir that soup.
Stir the soup before it firms up.
Why doesn't ours get anything on it?
Come on. Closer.
You got someone
doing that kind of yelling?
What I have is an adult male. Quite pretty.
Probably strayed from the park.
A Connecticut warbler.
You ever go outside to do any of this?
You should have stayed
with the soup question.
The object of a question is to obtain
information that matters only to us.
You were wondering
why your soup doesn't firm up?
Probably because your mother
was brought up in a house...
...that never wasted milk in soup.
That question was a good one,
in contrast to, "Do I ever go outside?"...
...which fails to meet the criteria of
obtaining information that matters to you.
All right. I guess I don't have
any more soup questions.
Why'd you say all that stuff
about me being black?
It had nothing to do with you being black.
I wanted to find out
how much bullshit you'd put up with.
- So you knew I'd come back?
Just like I know
you'll go to this new school.
How do you know?
Because there's a question in your writing
about what you wish to do with your life.
That is a question your present school
cannot answer for you.
Let's match up.
Wallace, you take Hartwell.
What's up? I'm Jamal.
Just check it, all right?
Check the ball.
Play him tough.
Way to go, gang.
D up. Let's go, garbage.
Why don't you leave
the trash-talking back home?
What? Get that goofy look off your face.
- I'm gonna make you my son right now.
- You gonna be my son.
- Come on.
- Come on, man.
You're too small.
A little defence would be real nice.
Coach, you're right. A little defence.
- Try to get past the line.
I said, get past the line.
I need some help!
Ten seconds. Let's go the other way.
- I'm taking your spot.
- I'm taking your spot.
- You take nothing.
My court, babe. My court.
That's how we play it down here.
John Hartwell's just a rich kid
who wants as much of the spotlight...
...as he can get in his senior year.
That's all it is.
- They take things real serious around here.
- It's a serious place.
Serious enough that I end up here
getting lunch on my books most days.
What's that you're working on?
- You said you read it a dozen times.
- I know, but look at this.
My dad got it for me. It's an early printing.
- Listen, I got to go.
- But you just got here!
I know, but, I forgot something.
I got to check up on something.
I'll see you later.
"Moved to New York
with his family in his late teens.
"Mr. Forrester was unavailable
Yeah, I bet he was.
Are we now planning
to make these visits a habit?
You said you knew I'd come back.
Yes, but I thought you meant once.
I need some help with a thing at school.
Yes. This "thing" at school.
And what "thing"
are we talking about now?
You ever read that?
I'm trying. I just can't seem to get past
the first pages.
As I recall...
...it took awhile
to get past those pages myself.
Christ, you've dog-eared one of them.
Show a little respect for the author.
That's you, isn't it?
You're the author.
I read the whole thing. It's not bad.
Especially the part...
I know what it is.
The last thing I need is another person
telling me what they think it is.
I wasn't going to say that.
What were you going to say?
I should tell you everything about me?
I told you about me.
You could learn a little something
about holding back.
If I ask you not to say anything
...about here, us...
...is that something I can trust you on?
And if I ask you to keep helping me
with my writing?
There'll be no questions about me...
or why there was only one book.
Then I won't ask.
And good night.
What's it feel like?
Writing something the way you did.
Perhaps you'll find out.
Listen, you -foot nothing...
That's what I'm saying, though.
Kenzo, how old are you?
Look at your face!
Your mom didn't do that to you?
She started you young.
Know where that comes from?
Eating too much cookie.
Teresa told me.
I like 'em big.
You got a problem with that?
- Nothing wrong with a big girl!
- That big?
It don't make a difference. It's like
when I'm with all three of your mothers.
- Not my mother.
Hold on, Oscar Mayer wiener.
Stop playing, man. You got beat like Tina
in school one day. I seen Duke smack you.
Listen, throw it at your mama.
Every day, throw it towards your mama.
Your mama. Stop throwing your mama.
It's all in your tank, brother.
Why you laughing?
Man, your glasses are like Coke bottles.
- You ever met somebody famous?
- How famous?
Like, I don't know, like...
...somebody people would know.
Nobody like that comes around here, man.
Are you here for good now?
Yeah. I'm just trying to get started.
At least they look good, right?
You'll all be pleased to know this year's
writing competition has been scheduled.
For those choosing to take part,
all entries must be turned in...
...before spring break, which means you
have a few months of procrastination left.
Feel free to experiment
with a more proactive approach.
I had a chance to review the files
sent over by your former school.
Test scores, impressive.
Actual classroom work, not so impressive.
Is this the level of work
I should anticipate?
Because, if it is...
...it will help me determine
whether to treat you as a student...
...or as someone who is here to pursue,
how should I put it...
Of course, your work will give you
ample opportunity to respond.
Good day, Mr. Wallace.
Just so you know,
you handled that the right way.
How is that?
You didn't say anything.
The ones who do run into trouble.
- John Coleridge.
- Jamal Wallace.
So, how many people do say something?
And actually stay in Crawford's class?
I missed what you said.
I didn't say anything.
You read all these?
No, I just keep them
to impress all my visitors.
All your visitors.
We've been talking
about your book at school.
People have been talking about it for years.
They just haven't been saying anything.
I think I got it down, though.
I figure you were writing about
how life never works out.
Really? You had to read a book
to figure that out?
But Crawford's messed up on it anyhow.
He says the guy having trouble
after the war is really you.
Some symbolism shit for all the problems
you were having with everybody.
Yeah. I think it's bullshit, though.
I think there really was somebody else.
Another trip to your favourite destination.
I've got four bags.
I can just leave them if you like.
Come right in.
How you doing, Mr. Johannsen?
It's at least a half hour before the sun sets.
Then you can begin
your panic-driven quest back to Manhattan.
This should last you till next week.
Your mail is in this one.
- The essentials are in...
I took care of your bills.
I put all the copies in this one.
The phone company wants to know
if you want to continue service...
...seeing as you haven't had a call
I got your socks for the next few weeks.
They're in this one.
I have your latest check from accounting.
They want to know if you cashed
the last one. It's showing up outstanding.
Not as outstanding as it once was.
I didn't realise you had company.
We were just having a discussion on...
...German automobile history.
Care to join us?
- No, I'm in the tow-away.
- Of course you are.
See you next week?
Not if I'm lucky.
Why don't you give that guy a break
and do your own shopping?
Why are your socks inside out?
Socks are badly designed.
The seams are on the inside.
They hurt the toes.
In some cultures, it's good luck
to wear something inside out.
You believe that?
No. But it's like praying.
What do you risk?
And I do go outside. How do you think
those windows get cleaned?
Now, about this professor of yours.
How did it feel having him tell you
what you can't do?
Like he knew he was better than me.
Then let's show him what you can do.
Why is it the words we write
...are always so much better
than the words we write for others? Move.
Go ahead and what?
What are you doing?
I'm writing. Like you'll be,
when you start punching those keys.
Is there a problem?
No. I'm just thinking.
No thinking. That comes later.
You write your first draft...
...with your heart.
You rewrite with your head.
The first key to writing is...
Not to think.
Is there a chance you might sit down?
"A Season of Faith's Perfection."
Start typing that.
Sometimes the simple rhythm of typing
gets us from page one to page two.
When you begin to feel your own words,
start typing them.
Punch the keys for God's sake!
You're the man now, dog.
Whatever we write in this apartment...
...stays in this apartment.
Okay, let's push it, guys.
- That's a foul.
- What do you mean? I had the spot.
I'll let you know when you got the spot.
Gentlemen, our season begins in one week.
If I see this kind of thing one more time...
...l'll have you shooting fouls
to see who runs.
Is that understood?
That was one of the most
impressive things I've ever seen.
Why do I know it wasn't good enough
for either one of you?
Shower up and get out of here.
You may think we're the same. We're not.
The latest paper you turned in...
...displayed quite a bit of improvement
from your earlier work.
- Thank you.
How long did it take to write?
I wrote it last night.
Well, I have some things to finish up here.
Good day, Mr. Wallace.
That's right. Select again.
- "Birds of a Feather" for $ .
"Vibrant in colour, its name borrows
from a Vivien Leigh character."
No, it's "What is the scarlet tanager?"
What is the scarlet tanager?
See, you have to know the rules
to play the game.
It was written by a writer
you've never heard of.
"Thy duty, winged flame of spring
"is but to love and fly
"and sing" He was writing about
the song of the tanager.
A song about new seasons, new life.
That's James Lowell, man.
I know who he is.
I'll stay with "Poor Assumptions"
for $ Alex.
Ever seen any scarlet tanagers
They don't stray that far from the park.
So, your professor wasn't exactly
full of praise this afternoon?
There's something you should know
about Robert Crawford.
He wrote a book a few years after mine.
All the publishers rejected it,
which was the right decision.
Instead of writing another one...
...he took a job
teaching others how to write.
How do you know all that?
Just remember that bitterly
...can be either very effective...
...or very dangerous.
Okay, this is the first step tonight, guys.
Mailor on three.
One, two, three, Mailor!
Straight and high, boys.
What up, J?
- You was in there tonight?
out of from the floor,
from from the line.
I'm supposed to miss that?
It was hot.
You were putting some serious ink
on that stat page.
What's going on?
Brothers are going to Red Rose.
I said we'd catch up.
Friday night. Come on.
Jamal, you plan on doing that every night?
- Worked out, I guess.
- I'd say so.
This is Fly.
Hi. I'm Claire. You a friend of Jamal's?
Claire! Come on.
Don't hold up the bus too long.
Nice meeting you, Fly.
What the hell you working there, man?
Shut up, man.
Yo, about Red Rose...
I got to go to this dude's house.
They do it every year.
Don't go off on this.
You big time. Go on.
I don't want to hold your bus up.
Will you be around this weekend?
Where do you think I'll be? The Hamptons?
Very nice talking with you.
Now, if you need anything...
...please give me a call. Okay?
Building up a collection of those things?
Yeah, a few.
Want to go outside for a while?
Yeah. You know this place?
I live in this place. Come on.
They'll be congratulating themselves
on your game till midnight.
Which means I'll have to cram tomorrow
for this test on Monday.
Test on what?
On the Sherlock Holmes books.
They have us tracking down
all this worthless stuff like:
Who introduced Watson to Holmes?
They give it to you
'cause it forces you to read everything.
Looks like it might be a while.
So this friend, Fly,
how long have you known each other?
A while. He was born there
and I was born there, too.
- The Bronx?
Must be hard.
New people, new school.
What's hard is growing up in a place
cops don't even want to be in after dark.
What's hard is knowing you're safe there.
'Cause the people you need to worry about,
know you've got nothing to give them.
So it's a good thing you're here.
These people don't think
I got anything to give them, either.
Don't let me get by you.
Once I get by you, I'll score.
Ready? Now stay in front of me, all right?
I got by you.
You're bigger than I am.
It doesn't matter. You still got to defend.
How do I do that?
How do you play defence?
I'll show you one way, here.
I feel it.
Now I know where you'll go,
because I can feel you move.
Try and move left.
See, you can't get around me.
I feel you moving left.
Try and go right.
I'm still here.
I feel when you try to go right,
so you can't go there, neither.
Now try and get by me.
You have to dribble first.
Dribble. Okay. Like...
Some of our guests are leaving.
I'll see you on Monday, okay?
It was Stamford.
At the bar in London.
He was the one
who introduced Watson to Holmes.
Might actually save you some time
after everyone's done in there.
You know how long
I've been working on that?
It ain't one season of faith's perfection.
Feels like I worked on it for two or three.
You're in that place
where you can't even hear me.
I could ask why you never left
this neighbourhood, and you wouldn't...
Paragraph three starts...
...with a conjunction, "and."
You should never start a sentence
with a conjunction.
- Sure you can.
It's a firm rule.
It was a firm rule. Sometimes using
a conjunction at the start of a sentence...
...makes it stand out. And that may be
what the writer's trying to do.
And what is the risk?
Doing it too much.
It's a distraction
and could give your piece a run-on feeling.
But the rule on using "and" or "but"
at the start of a sentence is pretty shaky.
Even though it's still taught
by too many professors.
Some of the best writers have ignored
that rule for years, including you.
Well, you've taken something
which was mine...
...and made it yours.
Quite an accomplishment.
The title's still mine, isn't it?
It was the neighbourhood that changed,
I ain't seen nothin' changed.
You "ain't seen nothin"'?
What in the hell kind of sentence is that?
In here, don't talk like you do out there.
I was messin' with you, man.
It was a joke.
Tell me about the neighbourhood back
when people were still reading your book.
What did you say?
You said "back when people
were still reading my book."
We have copies...
...but I'm sorry, they are checked out.
Thank you, anyway.
Did you get on the waiting list?
Your book was checked out.
...I did pay for dinner.
It cost me $ so you made your point.
I tried to call to see what food you wanted,
but the phone kept ringing.
I took the bell out years ago.
Let me ask you something.
Why does a guy like you...
...waste his time reading
What's wrong with it?
It's trash, man.
You should be reading
The Times or something.
I read The Times for dinner...
...but this is my dessert.
They got some writing contest at school.
- You ever enter one of those?
- A writing contest?
- A long time ago.
- Did you win?
Well, of course I won.
Like money or something?
They make all the students
read in front of everyone.
What the hell's that got to do with writing?
Writers write so that readers can read.
Let someone else read it.
You ever read your own book?
In public? Hell, no.
I barely read it in private.
You know those things they do,
that coffee shop reading shit?
Do you know why they do it?
To sell books, I guess.
Because they want to get laid.
Really? Women will sleep with you
if you write a book?
They'll sleep with you
if you write a bad book.
- Did it ever happen to you?
Did you ever get married?
Not exactly a soup question, is it?
No, I never did.
But I learned a few things along the way...
...which might help with this young lady
you always talk about.
The key to a woman's heart...
...is an unexpected gift
at an unexpected time.
You're giving me advice on women?
Unexpected gift, unexpected time.
This is so unexpected.
It's not a first printing or anything.
Oh, my gosh.
- This is a signed copy.
I can't accept this.
It must have cost a fortune.
It didn't cost that much, really.
Maybe the bookstore missed it.
Bookstores don't usually miss this stuff.
How'd you end up going to Mailor?
Mailor was originally an all-boys' school...
...so, my father did
what anyone in his position would do.
He got on the board and changed the rules.
And every kid there knows it.
They'd have done it anyway.
That doesn't change anything.
I'm still Dr. Spence's daughter.
That night at my home, after the game...
...when you were showing me
how to play basketball:
Was that all you were showing me?
That's not going to work.
Ask your father.
I'm not asking for some kind
of prenuptial agreement.
It's just a question.
Why must everything be
so black and white with you?
I forgot the question.
You don't forget anything, Mr. Stamford.
You don't think he wrote it?
That's a serious accusation, Robert.
You come to the Faculty Board with this...
I'm aware of how serious it is.
It's remarkable work.
You recognize any of it?
It smacks of something.
But I don't know.
The boy does well in my class.
He had good scores coming in.
Maybe he just needed direction.
Carl, he's a basketball player
from the Bronx.
Who happens to have won straight...
...for a school that likes winning.
Have you considered
he might just be that good?
Not this good.
Do you know
what the absolute best moment is?
When you've finished your first draft...
...and you read it by yourself.
Before these arseholes...
they couldn't do in a lifetime...
...and tear it down in a single day.
People love that book, man.
I didn't write it for them.
And when the critics
started all this bullshit about...
...what it was I was really trying to say...
...well, I decided then...
...one book was enough.
William, that was years ago, man.
I actually spent money on these tickets.
Is it still light outside?
You look good. It's not the latest stuff...
I wasn't asking how I look.
- I was asking, are we ready to go?
- Yeah. Come on, man.
We play here in two weeks.
I said, we play here in two weeks.
Hold on. Let me get a programme.
Let's get you out of here.
I got you.
You used to get out, right?
Yeah, a long time ago.
- What happened?
- How should I know?
I didn't keep track of the time.
Sorry for losing you back there.
No apology needed.
Good. I've got one more place.
It's quiet and on the way home.
You only got minutes.
"The house that Ruth built."
Why did you bring me here?
Because it's your birthday.
I looked it up in the almanac.
You're not in the dead people section yet.
I figure with all the games you watched...
...with whoever you watched them with...
...you probably never got this close.
What are they doing on the dirt?
Who cares? You acting like
they're going to play a World Series game.
My brother and I,
we were here for every game.
Till he left for the war.
I thought it'd be the same
when he came back, but...
...he talked a little less...
...and drank a little more.
I promised my mother
I would help him get through it all.
I caught up with him this one night.
I was already half a dozen drinks behind.
So we had a few more...
...and after a while,
he tells me he wants to...
...drive me back to the apartment.
I said "No, thanks."
We were all still living there, then.
I just stood there and...
...watched him drive off.
He makes it through
the whole goddamn war...
...and I let him drive.
Later that night, the nurse was typing...
...whatever it is they type...
...and you know what she tells me?
She tells me how much
my book meant to her.
My brother is getting cold
in the next room...
...and all she can talk about is a book.
Everything changed from then on.
Within five months, I buried...
...him, my ma, my father.
All of them here in the Bronx.
We'd spend our summers here.
And if we were lucky, the fall.
A lot of falls with those teams.
"The rest of those
who have gone before us...
"...cannot steady the unrest of those...
You wrote that in your book.
I realise that if I give you enough time
you'll find a way...
...to amaze even me.
Does he know?
No, he doesn't know.
This was one of the best evenings I've had
in quite some time.
All of it?
All of it.
How do you say you know this guy again?
- He's my teacher.
Seemed like a different kind of dude.
Anyone in particular?
I sometimes come here in the morning.
Just me, the aspiring...
...and all of them.
There was a note downstairs
saying I should come to see you.
...I think it's time you and I had an honest
and open discussion about your writing.
I thought you liked it.
Your recent work?
I liked it very much.
No, the question concerning
your most recent work...
...isn't whether it's good...
...it's whether it's too good.
The acceleration in your progress from
your old school to this one is unusual...
...to the point that I must draw
one of two conclusions:
Either you've been blessed with
an uncommon gift, which has kicked in...
...you're getting your inspiration
Given your previous education
and your background...
...l'm sure you'll forgive me
for coming to my own conclusions.
I wrote those papers.
Then you won't mind showing me.
The next assignment's due in two weeks.
I'll schedule some time for you
to come to my office.
I'd like to have you write it there.
In the meantime, if there's anything
you wish to talk about...
I'm not writing anything.
Which proves what?
If a two-comma kid wrote these papers,
he'd say, "Considering your background"?
- Two-comma kid?
- $ .
One comma, two commas.
No, I don't.
Do you know what
people are most afraid of?
- What they don't understand.
When we don't understand,
we turn to our assumptions.
Crawford cannot understand...
...how a black kid from the Bronx
can write the way you do.
So he assumes you can't.
Just like I assume he's an asshole.
You knew him, didn't you?
But he thought he knew me.
So what was that about his book?
A lot of writers
know the rules about writing...
...but they don't know how to write.
So Crawford wrote a book
about four authors who did know.
I was the only one still alive.
He convinced a publisher to buy it.
I made a polite telephone call...
...to this publisher, telling him and others...
...I was in the process
of writing a second book...
...and if they wanted to bid on it...
- So that's why Crawford's book went away.
But you knew
there wouldn't be a second book.
Yeah, but they didn't.
Interesting what happens
when the resources aren't close at hand.
The tradition of handing in composition
entries on the final day continues...
Ladies and gentlemen...
...may I have your attention?
Please, if you don't mind.
"Ere sin could blight or sorrow fade
"Death came with friendly care
"The opening bud to heaven convey'd"
How nice of you to join us.
That's not part of the poem.
"And bade it blossom there" Anyone?
A little more early morning reticence
How many students
would you say are here today?
I'm not sure.
Perhaps you could humour us with a guess.
And of that not one person knows
the author of that passage.
I find that remarkable, don't you?
Perhaps we should back into this.
In looking at this, what, if any conclusions,
might we be able to draw?
You mean about the author?
Do any of the words strike you as unusual?
Feel free to view this
as the appropriate time for a response.
And why is that unusual?
Because it sounds old.
It does sound old, doesn't it?
Do you know why it sounds old?
Because it is old. More than years old.
Written before your father was born,
before his father was born.
...that still does not excuse the fact
...don't know who wrote it, now, does it?
I'm sorry, sir, I don't...
You, of all people here,
should know who wrote that passage.
And do you know why, Mr. Coleridge?
I repeat, do you know why?
Just say your name, man.
Did you have something to contribute?
I just said that he should say his name.
And why would it be helpful
for Mr. Coleridge to say his name?
Because that's who wrote it.
Very good, Mr. Wallace.
Perhaps your skills do extend
a bit farther than basketball.
If we can turn to page...
You may be seated, Mr. Coleridge.
Turn to page
in the little blue book that...
You said my skills extend "farther"
than the basketball court.
"Farther" relates to distance.
"Further" is a definition of degree.
You should have said "further."
Are you challenging me?
No more than you challenged Coleridge.
Perhaps the challenge
should have been directed elsewhere.
"It is a melancholy truth that even...
"Great men have poor relations"
- "You will hear the beat of..."
- "All great truths begin..."
- "Man is the only animal...
- "That blushes
"or needs to"
- Come on, Professor...
- Get out!
Yeah. I'll get out.
- Leave it alone, Claire.
- Hold on, please.
So around here,
they kick you out if you know something?
You have no idea what Crawford could do.
You're right about that.
- Do you think you should apologise?
- Do you?
You did nothing wrong.
You just beat him at his own game.
...it would be a good time to be careful.
Careful about what?
You have a gift that should allow you
to do remarkable things in life.
That is, if you don't screw it up...
...by being a -year-old right now.
You got a call from the office.
Mr. Wallace, please.
As you know...
...Professor Matthews is on Faculty Board.
Dr. Spence is chair of the Trustees Board.
We've been reviewing the writing
We were hoping you might clarify
some points concerning your submission.
A Season of Faith's Perfection.
Your piece, correct?
Yeah, that's it.
It is standard policy to ask students
if they wish to credit any source material...
...or acknowledge any other writers
when turning in an assignment.
Do you wish to do that?
An essay titled Baseball's Best Year...
...with a subtitle that reads:
A Season of Faith's Perfection.
Published in the New Yorker
and written by...
Your version is quite original, but...
...there is the title
and first paragraph to consider.
Either you happen to have
William Forrester's permission...
Have you some other explanation?
That's my paper.
Then your entry is now withdrawn and
this is a matter for the board to consider.
The board does have the authority
to place you on academic probation...
...which would prevent you
from playing basketball in the future.
Since the board doesn't meet
till next week...
...you can play in this weekend's
But the board has a history
of taking these matters...
So we would like to suggest
what we feel is a...
...solution that may satisfy these concerns.
What matters most is to ensure
this type of violation isn't repeated.
...you will be required to write an apology
to the students you took advantage of...
...by submitting this piece...
...and you will read it in front of my class.
I'm not reading anything.
The board will consider that when deciding
whether to renew your scholarship.
You haven't left us with too many options.
Don't ever embarrass me
in front of my class.
Return the pen when you're finished.
No conventional greetings today?
Why have me rewrite something
Why didn't you tell me
some magazine ran it?
Why the hell should it matter?
You should have told me.
What did you do with it?
I turned it in.
I turned it in.
I had to show them something.
You promised me anything we wrote
in here would stay in here.
- I just thought...
- Shut up.
What are they telling you?
I go on probation unless I write a letter
saying I was wrong.
Then write the letter.
I'm not writing anything.
You got him, he gets you. Write the letter.
And you'd let him do that?
Is this supposed to be another lesson?
I'm tired of all these lessons.
Every time I come here.
The title of your essay is at the top
of my paper. What's the lesson in that?
I'm not the one who turned it in.
You talked all that trash
when all you had to say was:
"Keep this one here
'cause it got printed in the New Yorker."
That's all you had to say.
I could use a little help.
No, that's not an option.
- You don't even have to go...
- I said, that's not an option.
I'm used to people not helping me.
Not that self-pity father bullshit.
What did you say?
Man, fuck you, William!
The real bullshit
is you letting me take it on this one...
...'cause you're scared to walk out the door
and do something for someone else.
That's the only damn reason.
You don't know a damn thing
There are no reasons!
Reasons why some of us live
and some of us don't.
Fortunately for you,
you've decades to figure that out.
What's the reason for having a locked
cabinet of writing no one can ever read?
What is that, man?
I'm done with this shit.
Look, Jamal is here to pay us a visit.
What's up, y'all?
How does your first game
in the Garden feel?
A little closer than I thought.
That's why I thought
it might be a good time for us to talk.
I know it's been hard handling classes with
the time you have to spend on the court.
I couldn't handle it, not at this school.
Maybe it was unfair of us
to ask you to do it.
I talked to the board members
and to Crawford...
...we don't want to pursue this
any more than you do.
So, I'm here to present you with an offer.
We forget the whole thing.
Next year, your academic schedule
will be less demanding.
Crawford wanted that?
Crawford wants what's best for you...
...and for the school.
What am I supposed to do?
You hold up a championship trophy
at the end of this tournament.
You make that happen,
I'll make the rest happen.
Now, go finish up what you came to do.
Let's go, Pilgrims!
Let's go! Throw to Jamal!
Damn, man. Come on.
Jamal, get the ball!
Good pass, man.
Pick it up.
Offensive foul! That way!
Gold. Offensive! That way.
You got them now. Let's go.
This is still our game. We stop here,
they'll have to put us on the line.
When that happens, it's all over.
Don't lose your composure.
If they score, we don't call a time-out.
The ball goes to Hartwell or Wallace.
Okay? Hartwell or Wallace. Let's go.
What's the score?
It ain't looking good, Ma.
Foul. Blue. Two shots.
Foul, Blue team, .
Hit, two. Go line up, guys.
We're going to make these.
- I can't look.
- It's gonna be all right, Ma.
He must have come in after we left.
Let him sleep.
- I'll turn the light off.
- Turn it off and come on.
You started cleaning up your room, Jamal.
He looks very happy with himself,
Jamal, he wrote that for you.
After the game.
He's going back to the school this morning.
It's funny, though.
They always let you get but so far...
...before taking everything away from you.
God, he's such a good kid, man.
Then he gets to come back to this shit.
Is that seat open?
I think so.
This isn't where I thought I'd find you.
It's still my school.
They want me out,
they'll have to do it themselves.
"The winter's darkness and cold is but
a momentary prelude to the new spring.
"And while its grip seems endless
our own perseverance proves equal.
"We renew ourselves once again...
"...seeking out the bright moments
that will serve...
"...that will serve therefore...
as the foundation of our future."
May I read a few words?
What is he doing here?
Yes, of course, by all means.
Thank you, Professor.
My name is William Forrester.
I'm that one.
"Losing family obliges us
to find our family.
"Not always the family that is our blood...
"...but the family
that can become our blood.
"Should we have the wisdom
to open our door to this new family...
"...we will find that the wishes we had
for the father, who once guided us...
"...for the brother, who once inspired us...
"The only thing left to say will be:
"'I wish I had seen this,
or I wish I had done that, or I wish..."'
Most of you are too young...
...to know what your wishes will be.
But when I read these words...
...words of hope, dreams...
...I realise that the one...
...wish that was granted to me,
so late in life...
...was the gift of friendship.
Mr. Forrester, I'm sure I speak on behalf
of everyone in thanking you for this visit.
...of your words...
...is something we should
all aspire to reach.
May I ask to what do we owe this honour?
...I spoke here today
because a friend of mine wasn't allowed to.
A friend who had
the integrity to protect me...
...when I was unwilling to protect him.
His name is Jamal Wallace.
Jamal Wallace is a friend of yours?
Yes, he is.
I helped him find his own words
by starting with some of mine.
In return, he promised...
...never to say anything about me.
A promise which he kept.
While your visit seems heartfelt,
I'm sure you will appreciate...
...it will not change or interfere...
...with this institution reaching a fair
and proper decision in this case.
There's one more issue here.
Those words that I read today...
...I didn't write them.
Jamal Wallace did.
That has no bearing...
...on the decision concerning Mr...
As director of this competition,
I have final say in this matter.
Robert, sit down.
I have been a teacher
for more than years.
That's long enough to know
that integrity counts for something.
I'd say that Mr. Forrester has cleared up...
...very nicely for us all.
As chairman of the Faculty Board, I have...
...the last word in that matter.
You are excused
from next week's board meeting.
...should you ever be interested
in a teaching position...
Jamal, these are your words?
I'm thinking you'll make
your own decisions from here on.
I thought you'd say something like,
"I always could."
No more lessons.
I have a question, though.
Those two foul shots
at the end of the game...
...did you miss them or did you miss them?
Not exactly a soup question, is it?
Do you think our vaudeville act today
will merit the National Enquirer?
Whatever happens, I'm off.
What's the word
you and your friends would use for that?
Where are you off to?
I have a homeland
I haven't seen for too long.
You mean Ireland.
Scotland, for God's sake.
I'm messin' with you, man.
Be sure to write.
What's up, John?
You heard from William?
Yeah, but I don't know what he's doing.
He just checks up on the college recruiters.
I was just downstairs.
Looks like you got another one.
See you around.
- Steve Sanderson.
- How are you doing?
Thanks for coming down on short notice.
What school are you from?
No. I'm a lawyer.
I work with Roberts & Carter.
- A lawyer.
But congratulations on all that. It's great.
A bunch of guys in the office
are following you.
We're the legal representation
for William Forrester.
How is he?
We've received word
that William passed away.
He wanted you to have...
...these things right away.
William had cancer.
They found it a couple of years ago.
Jamal, this is crazy.
Oh, my God.
Look at all these books.
Don't touch anything.
Someone I once knew wrote
that we walk away from our dreams...
...afraid that we may fail, or worse yet,
afraid we may succeed.
While I knew so very early on
that you would realise your dreams...
...I never imagined
I would once again realise my own.
Seasons change, young man.
While I waited until the winter of my life
to see what I've seen this past year...
...there is no doubt I would have
waited too long, had it not been for you.
You gonna be here awhile, man?
Just can't watch the eyes this time.
You'll be okay, man. Come on.
Come on, man.