Ask the Dust

Synopsis: L.A. in the early 1930's: racism, poverty, and disease color the Bunker Hill neighborhood where Arturo Bandini, a lover of men and beasts alike, has arrived from Colorado to write the great Los Angeles novel. After six months and down to his last nickel, he orders a cup of coffee, served by Camilla Lopez, beautiful, self-possessed, and Mexican. Arturo gets advice, encouragement, and an occasional check from H.L. Mencken, so he keeps writing and he keeps seeing Camilla. But, he's mean to her for no apparent reason, so the relationship sputters. A housekeeper from back East suggests a way out of his jealously and fears. "Camilla Bandini": is it in the cards?
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director(s): Robert Towne
Production: Paramount Pictures
  1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
117 min

Good evening.

The following are

the lowest temperature estimates

for California citrus areas.

Lowest temperatures tomorrow night

will be somewhat higher than tonight

and only light scattered firing late

in the morning should be necessary.

Corona District:
Corona 29,

Arlington 28, Riverside 27,

Highgrove 27, Elsinore 26, Marino 26.

Clear and calm, firing for lemons will be

necessary beginning about 2:00 a.m.

And for oranges, about 4:00 a.m.

High ceiling. Dew point 31.

Redlands District: Hemet 28,

Redlands 26,

Highlands 26, Rialto 25,

Bloomington 25,

Colton 25, Fontana 25. Ukipa 26...

Well, the night before I met her,

I was in my hotel room on Bunker Hill

down in the very middle of Los Angeles.

It was called the Alta Loma.

It was built on a hillside in reverse

so that the main floor

was on a level with the street.

My room was down on the fifth floor

so that my window was on a level

with the green hillside,

and there was no need for a key.

The window was always open.

I'd been going over the plans I'd made,

since I'd come here like everyone else

in search of fortune, fame, good health

and glamorous women.

Only I was going to be different.

Only I was going to be different.

I wasn't here to search for my future.

I was here to create it.

I'd write the first great novel

about this place

and everybody who came here

from somewhere else.

The Road to Los Angeles

by Arturo Bandini.

It would bring me everything

I ever wanted.

Now, after five months, I was trying

to make a very important decision.

What to do with my last nickel.

"Mr. Bandini, it has now been six weeks

since you've paid the rent.

"Four dollars per is mounting

like the national debt.

"Either you pay $24, every penny,

or pack up and leave."

It was her sixth note in six weeks.

Pretty humiliating.

My landlady was getting

more writing done than I was.

She was the kind of woman

who increased her height

by rising on tiptoe

and peering at me over her glasses.

- I'd like a room.

- Do you have a job?

I'm a Writer.

I'll be with you in a moment, Mr. Archer.

wrote that.

Here. What's your name?

Mrs. Hargraves, why?

"For Mrs. Hargraves.

"A Woman of ineffable charm,

"With lovely blue eyes

and a generous smile.

"From the author, Arturo Bandini."

"The Little Dog Laughed."

I hate dog stories.

Bandini. Young man,

are you a Mexican?

Me, a Mexican?

I'm an American, Mrs. Hargraves.

And that isn't a dog story, either.

We don't alloW Mexicans in this hotel.

I'm not a Mexican,

and there isn't a dog in the whole story.

We don't alloW Jews, either.

I got that title after the fable, you know,

"And the little dog laughed

To see such sport"

So you're an author. How nice.

Here we are, Mr. Bandini.

This is one of my very favorite rooms.

There are windows on two sides,

which makes it extremely airy.

It's $4 a week,

and I expect to be paid in advance.

Now that includes cleaning

but no laundry. we never do...

Through that window,

I saw my first palm tree

not six feet away,

but the palm was blackish

at its branches.

- And no girls in the room.

- I'll take it.

Stained by carbon monoxide

coming out of the Third Street Tunnel,

its crusted trunk choked

with dust and sand

that blew in from the Mojave

and Santa Ana deserts.

what jerk's gonna believe

I made it all the way

from Colorado to downtown L.A.

without seeing one goddamn palm tree?




Do you like milk?

Yes, Hellfrick. I like milk.

Okay, then.

Here's the plan.

The Adohr man's a friend of mine.

Rvery morning at 4:00,

he parks his truck behind the hotel

and comes up to my room for a while.

- That's not much of a plan, Hellfrick.

- No, kid, no.

while he's having one with me,

you get 10 minutes

to help yourself to the milk.

So what do you think?

If he's your friend,

why not just ask him for it?

Kid, come on. who's kidding who?

He knows I don't drink milk.

I'm doing this for you.

No, thanks, Hellfrick.

I like to consider myself an honest man.

It certainly makes me wonder

about your ideas of friendship.


Only trying to do you a favor.

You wanna do me a favor?

Pay me the money I loaned you.

- How much was that?

- Fifteen cents.

- Don't have it.

- Well, how about 10 cents? A nickel?

Can't give you any hard cash, kid,

but I'll see you get all the milk you need.

Mencken. Editor of the greatest

magazine in the country.

Do you wanna let him down?

Good evening,

Mr. And Mrs. North and South America

and all the ships and clippers at sea.

Akron, Ohio.

A big strike in the Goodrich

rubber plant here was called off today

when workers agreed

on a six cent raise in pay per hour.

Boston, Massachusetts.

The condition

of Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr.,

who was hurt today in a motorcar crash

near Walpole, Massachusetts,

is not serious.

Think of something

besides stealing a bottle of milk.

You're an author, not a thief.

The streets are full of them,

blondes and brunettes.

One in a red fox fur just getting out

of a fancy foreign car.

Girls in the plaza.

They're everywhere,

and none of them mine.

One glance and they know

I'm an inexperienced jerk,

ignorant of women and life,

and afraid of both.

You have nice hands.

I do?



You're Italian.

That'll be two cents a day

every day it's overdue.

St. Teresa, when I was little,

I prayed to you for a fountain pen.

Rate this script:0.0 / 0 votes

Robert Towne

Robert Towne (born Robert Bertram Schwartz; November 23, 1934) is an American screenwriter, producer, director and actor. He was part of the New Hollywood wave of filmmaking. His most notable work was his Academy Award-winning original screenplay for Roman Polanski's Chinatown (1974), which is widely considered one of the greatest movie screenplays ever written. He also wrote its sequel The Two Jakes in 1990, and wrote the Hal Ashby comedy-dramas The Last Detail (1973), and Shampoo (1975), as well as the first two Mission Impossible films (1996, 2000). more…

All Robert Towne scripts | Robert Towne Scripts

0 fans

Submitted on August 05, 2018

Discuss this script with the community:



    Translate and read this script in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this screenplay to your bibliography:


    "Ask the Dust" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 24 Jun 2024. <>.

    We need you!

    Help us build the largest writers community and scripts collection on the web!

    Watch the movie trailer

    Ask the Dust


    The Studio:

    ScreenWriting Tool

    Write your screenplay and focus on the story with many helpful features.