Meet Joe Black

Synopsis: Bill Parrish (Anthony Hopkins), businessman and devoted family man, is about to celebrate his 65th birthday. However, before he reaches that landmark, he is visited by Death (Brad Pitt), who has taken human form as Joe Black, a young man who recently died. Joe and Bill make a deal: Bill will be given a few extra days of his life, and Joe will spend the same time getting to know what it's like to be human. It seems like a perfect arrangement, until Joe falls in love -- with Bill's daughter.
Production: Universal Pictures
  3 wins & 6 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
178 min


A patch of water. PULL BACK TO REVEAL more water. BACK

FARTHER TO REVEAL an expanse of river, up the bank to

massive lawn running up to a great, classic Hudson River

manor house; the country estate of William Parrish.


MOVE THROUGH French doors that lead from a wide terrace into

an expansive living room, DOWN wide corridors lined with

Bierstadt and Cole paintings, the Hudson River School, mists

and trees and small boats and distant humans.


MOVE THROUGH the doorway to reveal a master bedroom furnish-

ed with exquisite simplicity, revelatory of its sleeping

occupant, WILLIAM PARRISH, 64, a warm but commanding face, a

man of maturity yet who exudes a glow of enthusiasm.

Although asleep, there is an uncommon restlessness to him.

Parrish grips his upper arm as if in pain. Now the severity

of the pain wakes him, he squeezes his arm. The wind comes

up, through the wind a VOICE is heard distantly, or is it the

wind itself:


... Yes.

Parrish blinks, has he heard something, has he not, he is

not sure, he releases his arm, his grimace of pain fades,

the discomfort seems momentarily to have subsided.

He rises now, crosses to the bathroom. As he pees, a breeze

outside the window, the wind again, but then the Voice comes




It is unmistakably a Voice, it is not the wind, Parrish has

heard something, he looks around, but no one is there. He

can't finish peeing, turns back to his bedroom. All beweild-

ered, Parrish looks around once more, climbs back into bed,

trying to trace the source of what he has heard or hasn't

heard; he is not sure.

He pulls the covers up now, not a SOUND, tries to close his




Parrish sits up again, frightened, but still there is no one

there, he seems fraught with indecision, should he get up,

should he not, what is happening? He looks out: absolute

stillness and silence, CRICKETS chirp down by the river, a

light FLICKERS from a shadboat, Parrish closes his eyes but

then they flutter open, he glances up at the ceiling and

finally, exhausted, falls back asleep.


The great lawn infested with workmen, planting stakes, un-

rolling a huge canvas tent, gardeners fashioning topiary and

adding landscaping of their own, crews setting up platforms,

speakers, lights. Ubiquitous is ALLISON, 35, Parrish's

older daughter, foremen competing for her attention and she

relishing every moment.

A Painter approaches.


The big tent, Miss Allison --


Paint is rust and moss green.

Medieval colors -- Daddy's like

an old knight.

A Florist stops her.


The head table --?


What about it?


The flowers, ma'am--?


Freesia, freesia, everywhere. Daddy

loves freesia -- and you, over there,

lights. Not too bright. I'm looking

for a saffron glow -- sort of tea-

dance twenties.


Parrish, groomed for the day, trots down the stairs, observ-

ing the activity outside through the windows. He checks his

watch, strides down the hall, encounters MAY, 50, a family

retainer who is opening the doors to the terrace as Parrish



What do you think of all this, May?


It's going to be beautiful. And

Miss Allison says the President may



Oh, the President's got better

things to do than come to my

birthday party.




Parrish grins, continues on, is intercepted by Allison who,

on catching sight of him, bounces in from the terrace.




Hi, Allison --


Have you got a minute?


Not much more. Big day in the big

city. What's on your mind?


Fireworks. Update -- we're con-

structing the number '65' on the

barge, archers from the State

College at New Paltz will shoot

flaming arrows at it, when it

catches fire it will give us the

effect of a Viking funeral with none

of the morbidity... The Hudson River

Authority says, for you, they'll

make a special dispensation - of

course there'll be an overtime bill

for the Poughkeepsie Fire Dept...


Allison, I trust you. This is your



But it's your birthday.

Parrish smiles complaisantly, they continue on into a break-

fast room where SUSAN, 30, Parrish's younger daughter, is

grazing at a table laden with cereals and fruits and coffee.


Good morning, Dad.


Hi, honey.


(to Susan)

I'm Allison, you're 'honey'.



Drew called from the AStar, they're

still two minutes away.


Drew's aboard?


He wanted to ride back down with

you. Now sit and relax, get some-

thing in that flat tummy of yours --

But Parrish only pours coffee.

SUSAN (cont'd)

(to Allison)

You coming?


You've got patients waiting, I've

got three hysterical chefs, one

loves truffles, the other hates

truffles, the third one doesn't know

what truffles are. I'd better drive


Parrish gazes at the going-on outside which are increasing

in intensity.



I hate parties --


Calm down, Daddy, you'll see, you're

going to love it.


Isn't it enough to be on this earth

sixty-five years without having to

be reminded of it.

Rate this script:2.5 / 2 votes

Bo Goldman

There are but a few select screenwriters who are spoken of with the kind of reverence usually reserved for film Directors - Robert Towne, Alvin Sargent and Bo Goldman. Goldman is a screenwriter's screenwriter, and one of the most honored in motion picture history. The recipient of two Academy Awards, a New York Film Critics Award, two Writers Guild Awards, three Golden Globes, additional Academy Award and Writers Guild nominations and, ultimately, the Guild's life achievement Award - The Laurel. Born in New York City, Goldman was educated at Exeter and Princeton where he wrote, produced, composed the lyrics and was president of the famed Triangle show, a proving ground for James Stewart and director Joshua Logan. On graduation, he went directly to Broadway as the lyricist for "First Impressions", based on Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice", produced by composer Jule Styne and directed by Abe Burrows, starring Hermione Gingold, Polly Bergen and Farley Granger. Moving into television, Goldman was mentored by the redoubtable Fred Coe (the "D.W. Griffith of dramatic television") and became part of the twilight of The Golden Age, associate producing and script editing Coe's prestigious Playhouse 90 (1956)'s, "The Days of Wine and Roses", "A Plot to Kill Stalin" and Horton Foote's "Old Man". Goldman went on to himself produce and write for Public Television on the award-winning NET Playhouse. During this period, Goldman first tried his hand at screen-writing, resulting in an early version of Shoot the Moon (1982) which stirred the interest of Hollywood and became his calling card. After reading Shoot the Moon (1982), Milos Forman asked Goldman to write the screenplay for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). Goldman's first produced film won all five top Academy Awards including Best Screenplay for Goldman. "Cuckoo's Nest" was the first film to win the top five awards since Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (1934). Goldman also received the Writers Guild Award and the Golden Globe Award for his work on the film. He next wrote The Rose (1979), which was nominated for four Academy Awards, followed by his original screenplay, Melvin and Howard (1980), which garnered Goldman his second Oscar, second Writers Guild Award and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Screenplay of the Year. Goldman's first screenplay, Shoot the Moon (1982), that started it all, was then filmed by Alan Parker, starring Diane Keaton and Albert Finney, the film received international acclaim and was embraced by America's most respected film critics including Pauline Kael and Richard Schickel. For Shoot the Moon (1982), Goldman earned his third Writers Guild nomination. Over the next few years, he contributed uncredited work to countless scripts, including Milos Forman's Ragtime (1981), starring James Cagney and Donald O'Connor, The Flamingo Kid (1984), starring Matt Dillon, and Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy (1990). Goldman tried his hand at directing an adaptation of Susan Minot's novel "Monkeys", and a re-imagining of Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries (1957) (aka "Wild Strawberries") as a vehicle for Gregory Peck, but for budgetary and scheduling reasons, both movies lost their start dates. Goldman returned solely to screen-writing with Scent of a Woman (1992), starring Al Pacino. Goldman was honored with his third Academy Award nomination and his third Golden Globe Award. He followed this with Harold Becker's City Hall (1996), starring Al Pacino and John Cusack, and then co-wrote Meet Joe Black (1998), starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins. More recently, Goldman did a page one uncredited rewrite of The Perfect Storm (2000). It was Goldman's script that green lit the movie at Warner Bros. and convinced George Clooney to star in the film, which went on to earn $327,000,000. In 2005, he helped prepare the shooting script for Milos Forman's Goya's Ghosts (2006), produced by Saul Zaentz and starring Natalie Portman and Javier Bardem. He wrote a script for a remake of Jules Dassin's Rififi (1955) (aka Rififi), for director Harold Becker, starring Al Pacino. Goldman is married to Mab Ashforth, and is the father of six children, seven grandchildren and one great grandchild. He resides in Rockville, Maine. more…

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    "Meet Joe Black" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 19 May 2024. <>.

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