Panther script
Panther (1995)
Synopsis: In this semi-fictionalized account of the origins of the Black Panthers, Vietnam vet Judge (Kadeem Hardison) returns to his hometown of Oakland to find it beset by violence and police discrimination against African-Americans. Judge's friend Cy tells him about a vigilante group that's organizing against the police and introduces him to its leaders, Bobby (Courtney B. Vance) and Huey (Marcus Chong). Judge joins the movement but is soon beset by police pressure to inform against Huey.

BLACKOUT:

The SCREEN stands BLACK, like a chalkboard... or a grave.

A SOUND builds, like a RADIO surfing channels. Snippets of

SONGS -- Joan Baez' "Blowin' in the Wind," James Brown's "I

Feel Good." The music of a different time.

FOOTAGE:

IMAGES hit the screen: ROSA PARKS, Peace Demonstrators

stuffing FLOWERS in the barrels of National Guard rifles.

Protesters in Birmingham, rallies on the White House Lawn.

Mixed in with the MUSIC comes NEWS BITES -- quick catchwords

of 60's turmoil -- "More troops to Vietnam," "Bus Boycott,"

"Sit ins," "Draft Dodgers," "Malcolm X speaking."

Then a SINGLE PHOTO settles on screen -- a ROW of BLACK

PANTHERS, fists raised, standing defiantly together.

The IMAGE FREEZES.

VOICE:

(over)

The Black Panthers...

As the PHOTO FADES, LIGHTS APPEAR. A SHAPE takes form. The

BAY BRIDGE arcs over silent water, spanning two worlds.

VOICE:

(over)

People still ask me how it all

started? How things went so far? And

like a lot of questions about the

Panthers, there are different answers.

Different beginnings...

Rising behind the voice, the noise of a CROWD can be heard.

VOICE:

(over)

What became the Black Panthers really

started with just two guys -- Bobby

Seale and Huey Newton -- saying two

words:
"Defend Yourselves..." Legend

has it they met at some coffee house

where Bobby was running down a

rhyme...

CUT TO:

EXT. COFFEE SHOP (BLACK/WHITE) - 1966 - DAY

TITLE:
MARCH 17, 1965

BOBBY SEALE -- a skinny, kinetic black man sporting an Afro --

teeters on a chair in front of a small CROWD. He reads from

a crumpled sheaf of papers.

At the side of the crowd, HUEY NEWTON -- well-built, magnetic --

watches, grooving on the rhythm of the words.

BOBBY:

Oh yeah. Yeah it's easy to see right

on your black and white TV. Black

man. Blue cop. Red blood. Niggers

watch other niggers die. That's right

Niggers watching niggers die. That's

the American way...

A COMMOTION starts at the rear of the crowd. TWO UNIFORMED

COPS roughly make their way to Bobby. They pull him off his

chair, cracking his head against the ground.

The cop over Bobby raises his NIGHTSTICK...

A BLACK HAND grabs the club, stopping its arc.

Shocked, the cop turns. It's HUEY. With honed precision, he

DECKS the cop with his free hand.

CUT TO:

INT. POLICE CAR (BLACK/WHITE) - 1966 - DAY

Bruised and bloody, Huey and Bobby sit next to each other as

the car moves through the streets.

VOICE:

(over)

Pigs threw them in jail. There they

starting talking about black folks

oughta start standing up. No master

plan, no pot to piss in, nothing

like that. Just two fed-up brothers...

Next thing you know, you got the

Black Panther Party for Self

Defense...

CUT TO:

BLACKOUT:

Again, the SCREEN goes BLACK.

VOICE:

(over)

For me, it started different. A lot

different. You may as well say The

Panthers started in my front yard...

The black screen DISSOLVES into...

EXT. CLOSE-UP:
SIDEWALK - DAY

CONCRETE, cracked and dirty, fills the frame. A BICYCLE whips

past, gliding down the pavement.

TITLE SEQUENCE:

EXT. 55TH AND MARKET STREETS - OAKLAND - 1967 - DAY

TITLE:
OAKLAND 1967

Teeming with life on a bright day, the Ghetto moves to its

own unique cadence. A YOUNG BOY, no older than ten, pedals

down the street on his BICYCLE.

A gust of wind brushes a SHAPELY WOMAN. She GRABS a HAT and

holds tight, ignoring her DRESS rising in the wind. The BOY

ogles her juicy thighs.

SHAPELY WOMAN:

Shucks I see you staring, but I ain't

letting go. Them hips is almost forty

years old but the hat is brand new!

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Melvin Van Peebles

Melvin "Block" Van Peebles (born August 21, 1932) is an American actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, novelist and composer. more…

All Melvin Van Peebles scripts | Melvin Van Peebles Books

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