The Public Eye script
Synopsis: The Public Eye is a 1992 Universal Studios neo-noir film produced by Sue Baden-Powell and written and directed by Howard Franklin, starring Joe Pesci and Barbara Hershey. Stanley Tucci and Richard Schiff appear in supporting roles. The film is loosely based on New York Daily News photographer Arthur "Weegee" Fellig, and some of the photos in the film were taken by Fellig.

FADE IN:
BEGIN TITLES

In murky light, a piece of paper sinks in a shallow tin tub.

By degrees, faces and forms appear on the page: a swooning

woman, (circa 1940) a cop who tries to catch her, a crowd of

onlookers standing in the shadows of a tenement house in the

aftermath of a murder. Before the photograph has completely

developed, it seems to fade in a dreamy

DISSOLVE TO:

Another submerged page. A new images begins to appear: a

thick-ankled stripper (again, 1940) sleeping between shows

in her dingy dressing room. Before it has fully developed,

this photo also

DISSOLVES TO:

A new page on which appears a billboard attached to a burning

building. It advertises a 1930's sunburn medication: "Put

out the flames with SunzoCaine!" Painted flames rises from a

sunbather's burnt back, mixing with the real ones.

We continue sensuously to DISSOLVE THROUGH black and white,

high-contrast photos as they come hauntingly to life (all of

them depicting New York, at night, in the late 30's or early

40's) till we END TITLES.

We PAN TO the dim red darkroom bulb, under which we begin to

hear a faint siren and

DISSOLVE TO:

...another red bulb, this one atop a patrol car.

EXT./INT. POLICE CAR [APRIL, 1942] - NIGHT

We hear a Dispatcher's monotonous voice over a hissing police

radio.

DISPATCHER (V.O.)

Signal 30. Two-three-six Thompson

Street.

Inside the car, the Young Cop who's driving angles forward

in his seat, pressing heavily on the gas.

His older partner stares forward, blankly.

CUT TO:

EXT. 236 THOMPSON STREET - SAME

A respectable working-class block. Neighbors are clustered

by the stoop in robes, pajamas, undershirts. A woman with

young children holds them to her nightgown. All watch as The

Cops pull up by the curb and rush from their squadcar. They

push their way through the crowd.

TEENAGER:

(in an undershirt,

grinning)

Third floor.

The Cops continue into the building.

INT. STAIRWELL - 236 THOMPSON

The Cops move stealthfully up the dim stairwell, guns drawn.

On the third-floor landing, a door is ajar. Light spills out

onto the floorboards.

As they ascend, the Cops can see the corpse of a smartly

dressed young man inside:

It lies face down, its features rudely pressed and bloody

against the floor. A freshly-blocked hat lies a few feet

from the dead man; he was shot as he came home.

On the landing, the Cops move carefully to the door, hugging

the wall.

They hear someone moving inside the apartment. They freeze,

barely breathing.

The older Cop cocks his gun, crosses himself, wraps his hand

around the doorframe. He jumps into

THE APARTMENT:

crouching, gun drawn. A crackling, blistering sound is heard

as a flash of light fills the room, blinding him.

COP:

(blinking as he stands)

Jesus.

REVERSE:

A flashbulb hits the floor hollowly.

BERNZY (whose real name is Leon Bernstein and whose

professional name is "The Great Bernzini") inserts a new

bulb in the giant chrome flash attachment of his Speed Graphic

press camera. A cigar is planted in the corner of his mouth.

Bernzy cuts a curious figure: He wears an oddly oversized

suit that has capacious pockets to accommodate camera lenses,

film plates and flashbulbs. His thick-soled shoes are sensible

to a fault. He wears a hat but no tie.

His face is alert and ironic, his movements rapid and

purposeful.

BERNZY:

(to the Cop, deadpan)

You scared me.

He reaches into his jacket to extract a new 4 x 5 glass film

plate (from a bag of plates hung over his shoulder) with a

well-practised, unhurried speed.

The older cop, O'BRIEN, is annoyed; his comment sounds like

an accusation.

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Howard Franklin

Howard Franklin is an American screenwriter and film director, known for such films as The Name of the Rose and Quick Change, his collaboration with Bill Murray. His other films include The Public Eye, about a 1940s tabloid photographer modeled on the photojournalist Weegee and starring Joe Pesci; Someone to Watch Over Me and The Man Who Knew Too Little. more…

All Howard Franklin scripts | Howard Franklin Books

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"The Public Eye" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 13 Dec. 2017. <http://www.scripts.com/script/the_public_eye_1014>.

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