TITLE OVER BLACK: 1957.
The height of the Cold War. The United States and the Soviet
Union fear each other’s nuclear capabilities - and
intentions. Both sides deploy spies - and hunt for them.
INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS
CLOSE ON AN ELDERLY MAN
Reflected in a grimy mirror. The mirror is propped up on a
chair next to an open window looking out from the fourth
floor onto a Brooklyn skyline.
Pull back to show the man sitting in a shabby
workshop/studio. He looks from the mirror down at a canvas
in front of him as he daubs paint onto a self-portrait.
The telephone rings.
The old man rests his brush on the easel and walks to a table
cluttered with papers and shortwave radios. He picks up the
phone and listens but doesn’t say anything.
The old man, Rudolf Abel, emerges from the building, walks
along the street.
An Agent follows Abel.
SUBWAY TRAIN INTERIOR
The Agent watches Abel as the train stops at Broad Street.
The Agent, now joined by a second Agent, follows him at a
distance. Abel dabs at his nose with a handkerchief. The
agents lose him in the crush of commuters. They emerge from
the station and consult two other Agents. No sign of Abel.
First Agent heads back down the stair, smashing BANG right
into Abel, who’s coming up the stairs.
Abel looks up, surprised. Then mildly:
The agent equally surprised watches as Abel makes his way
12.17.14 FINAL SHOOTING SCRIPT 2.
A distant siren fades up and crosses the cut to:
The Agents drive past Abel, who is seated on a park bench
overlooking the East River, painting.
Go ahead and park around the corner.
AT THE RIVERSIDE
Abel sets down his palette.
Close on his hand, adjusting his easel, then feeling under
the bench. His hand closes on something held by a magnet to
the bench’s steel frame below the wood seat-slats: it is a
Back to Abel sitting. Picks up his palette...
A seedy part of town. Abel walks toward a building, the
INSIDE THE ROOM:
As Abel lets himself in. A very modest room. He sets down
his portable easel and case. Sets his work-in-progress
canvass on a standing easel, drapes his jacket over a chair,
hangs his hat on the easel. He turns on a table fan.
He fishes the nickel from his pocket, retrieves a razor from
the bathroom and uses it to carefully to open it. It is
Inside is a piece of paper, folded accordion-style into a
Abel unfolds it. Holds it up to a magnifier lamp. Written
on the paper, a sequence of numerals.
STREET OUTSIDE HOTEL
Two government cars skid to a stop and the Agents pour out.
The Agents run down the corridor.
12.17.14 FINAL SHOOTING SCRIPT 3.
Its door is being busted in.
The Agents swarm in. They have guns. They come up short.
The small room is empty. The easel with a work in progress
upon it stands before the window, which stands open, gentle
wind playing at the sheers.
Outside, a fire escape. The man seems to have left.
An Agent inspects a closed door. The bathroom --Rudolf
Abel steps out, in his briefs. Standing in the doorway,
cigarette in mouth, we see him as a frail, vulnerable old
He freezes, not scared, just surprised. He looks at the men.
They look at him.
At last he speaks, with colorless, quasi-British accent.
...Would you mind if I fetch my
Two of the agents, Blasco and Gamber, look at each other,
confused. Abel gestures back towards the bathroom.