The Butler

Synopsis: The Butler is a 2013 American historical drama film directed and produced by Lee Daniels and written by Danny Strong. It is inspired by Wil Haygood's Washington Post article "A Butler Well Served by This Election".
Genre: Drama, History
Year:
2013
140 Views

INT. WHITE HOUSE - ENTRANCE HALL - DAY - 2009

CECIL GAINES, 90, kind, elegant and much wiser than he lets

on, sits in the Entrance Hall of the White House. It’s been

many years since he’s been here, but it’s as he remembers.

QUICK CUT TO - an image of two black men HANGING from a pole,

they’ve just been lynched. The American flag waves in the

wind behind their limp bodies.

CUT BACK TO - CECIL IN THE WHITE HOUSE. He is emotionless as

he contemplates his dark past. We hear his voice...

CECIL V.O.

The only thing I ever knew was

cotton.

FADE CUT TO:

EXT. COTTON FARM - DAY - 1926

The sun pounds down on a beautiful cotton field. Brilliant

reds and alabaster whites intermix with green foliage along a

blue river bed. Twenty or so black FIELD WORKERS lace the

cotton field baking in the heat.

CHYRON:
MACON, GEORGIA, 1926

CECIL V.O.

It was hard work. But I didn’t mind

because I got to spend all day with

my daddy.

Cecil Gaines, now 8, sits in the field with his dad, EARL

GAINES, 30, tough, who teaches him how to pick cotton.

EARL:

...and you know the cotton is ready

when the bulb splits, and the bulb

is star shaped, like a big old star

in the sky. Like your big ol’ head.

Earl rubs cotton all over young Cecil’s head as Cecil laughs.

EXT. WESTFALL HOUSE - PORCH - DAY - 1926

THOMAS WESTFALL, 25, an attractive white man with bad skin

sits with his grandmother ANNABETH, 70’s, sharp and stern,

reading on the kitchen porch as he heads to the field. Thomas

looks over his property and his workers. It’s a good day.

EXT. COTTON FARM - DAY - 1926

Cecil’s friend, ABRAHAM, 9, holds a worn old camera as Earl

positions his wife, HATTIE PEARL, 25, beautiful, together

with Cecil.

EARL:

Hurry up and take this picture.

ABRAHAM:

Why don’t everybody smile?

2 The family barely smiles as Abraham snaps the camera. 2

Then - Thomas walks into the field, towards Hattie Pearl.

THOMAS:

Hattie, come on. Come on!

Little Cecil and Abraham both look up with concern to Earl.

Hattie Pearl reluctantly follows Thomas to the shed.

CECIL:

Pa, where is he taking ma?

THOMAS:

Get back to work!

Earl looks frustrated. He goes back to the cotton. His pace

quickens as he picks the cotton. Sweat drops from his lip.

Cecil heads for the shed. Earl snatches him mid-stride.

CECIL:

(Yelling)

Mamma!

EARL:

Look at me boy. Don’t lose your

temper with that man. This is his

world. We just be living in it.

You hear me? Now get on back to

work!

Cecil watches his mother enter the shed. Stares a beat, then

sadly goes back to work with Abraham.

We hear some commotion, then Hattie Pearl’s piercing SCREAM.

The workers don’t look up. Everyone continues picking cotton.

Annabeth stands from the porch. She looks towards the shed.

Thomas stumbles back to the field. None of the workers dare

look up except for Earl.

2.

CECIL:

Pa...What you goin’ do?

Earl turns to Thomas defiantly.

EARL:

Hey! Don’t you ever do that to my

wife.

Thomas pulls his revolver out. Cecil looks terrified, as

everyone watches in silence. Then -

Thomas SHOOTS Earl square in the eye!

CECIL:

Dad!

The WORKERS on the field freeze. Little Cecil stares in

shock at his father’s body twitching against the cotton, a

chunk of his head in the dirt. A fly lands on Cecil’s brow.

Annabeth runs towards the field as Thomas heads back to the

house waving his gun around.

THOMAS:

What are you looking at?! Huh? Who

wants to go next? You get back to

work!

Cecil trembles in utter shock as Annabeth approaches him.

ANNABETH:

Hey you! Men! Get some of the hands

to help dig a hole for his pa.

She points to an area taken over by weeds near the shed. Then

leans down toward Cecil, feels sorry for him.

ANNABETH (CONT’D)

Stop crying.

(Then)

I’ma have you working at the house

now.

She bends down to face him.

ANNABETH (CONT’D)

I’m gonna teach you how to be a

house nigger.

Little Cecil stares at her in pure sadness.

TITLES:

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Danny Strong

Daniel W. Strong (born June 6, 1974) is an American actor, film and television writer, director, and producer. As an actor, Strong is best known for his roles as Jonathan Levinson in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doyle McMaster in Gilmore Girls. more…

All Danny Strong scripts | Danny Strong Scripts

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"The Butler" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 23 May 2019. <https://www.scripts.com/script/the_butler_24131>.

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