Behind the main title and the credits:
1EXT. PLAINS COUNTRY - CLOSE SHOT - MOVING JUST ABOVE GROUND
LEVEL - A STUDY OF HOOFPRINTS - LATE AFTERNOON
The hoofprints are deeply etched in the ground, picking
their way through scrubby desert growth. An occasional
tumbleweed drifts with the light breeze across the pattern
of prints; and lightly-blown soil and sand begin the work
of erasing them. The CAMERA FOLLOWING the hoofprints
raises slowly to:
2EXT. PLAINS COUNTRY - LONG SHOT - LATE AFTERNOON
We see the rider now. BACK TO CAMERA, jogging slowly along
-- heading down a long valley toward a still-distant ranch
house with its outlying barn and corrals.
3EXT. PLAINS COUNTRY - MED. SHOT - MOVING - LATE AFTERNOON
The CAMERA FRAMES and MOVES with the lone horseman. He is
ETHAN EDWARDS, a man as hard as the country he is crossing.
Ethan is in his forties, with a three-day stubble of beard.
Dust is caked in the lines of his face and powders his
clothing. He wears a long Confederate overcoat, torn at
one pocket, patched and clumsily stitched at the elbows.
His trousers are a faded blue with an off-color stripe down
the legs where once there had been the yellow stripes of the
Yankee cavalry. His saddle is Mexican and across it he
carries a folded serape in place of the Texas poncho...
Rider and horse have come a long way. The CAMERA HOLDS and
PANS the rider past and we see another detail; strapped
onto his saddle roll is a sabre and scabbard with a gray
silk sash wrapped around it...Horse and rider pass, moving
closer to the ranch as a little girl and a small dog come
tearing around the corner of the house.
4EXT. THE YARD OF THE EDWARDS RANCH - MED. SHOT - DEBBIE -
She is staring wide-eyed at the distant horseman o.s.
Her little dog has seen him too and is barking excitedly.
DEBBIE quickly reaches to grab the dog by the scruff of
the neck, crouching over him. Debbie is 11 years old with
a piquant, memorable face.
5EXT. THE YARD - CLOSE SHOT - DEBBIE
Here we must establish and dramatize what it is about her
face that is memorable, so that if we were to see her again
five or six years later, we would know it is she -- perhaps
the eye color or the slant of eyebrow, or a trick of
scratching bridge of nose with crooked forefinger.
6EXT. THE EDWARDS HOUSE - MED. SHOT - AARON - LATE AFTERNOON
The ranch house is of adobe, solidly built, with a sod and
cross-timbered roof, deep windows. A small gallery or porch
extends across the front. AARON EDWARDS comes through the
door, attracted by the dog's barking -- and then he, too,
sees the approaching horseman and comes farther out --
curious but not at all apprehensive. Aaron is a lean,
weathered and tired man, with a down-swept mustache; a
gentler-looking man than Ethan and possibly a few years
As he squints off, studying the rider, his older daughter,
LUCY, comes out to stand behind him. Lucy is from 16 to
18 -- a pleasant, feminine girl. She is carrying a mixing
bowl with some sort of batter in it, which she now
completely forgets to whip in her interest in the approaching
In the next instant MARTHA EDWARDS follows the daughter onto
the porch. Martha is a still-lovely woman, although the
years have etched fine wrinkles about her eyes and mouth,
and work has worn and coarsened her hands. Those hands will
never be idle when Martha is on scene...And now, while she
shares the family's interest in the approaching horseman,
she automatically notes that Lucy has forgotten her task --
and she takes the mixing bowl from her and stirs the
7EXT. YARD OF THE EDWARDS HOUSE - FULL SHOT - LATE AFTERNOON