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The Landlady
by Marc Hendriks (marc_hendriks_2000@yahoo.co.uk)

Rated: PG-13   Genre: Drama   User Review:
NOT YET
RATED

Another adaptation. This one is based upon the short story The Landlady by Roald Dahl. Unlike my other adaptations I am serious about turning this one into a short film. So if anyone likes what they read and would like to help out one way or another, don’t be shy.


the copyrights of the original short story belong to the Dahl estate.



FADE IN:

EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DAY
                                                            
While the song "Oro" by Máire Brennan plays, we see a
beautiful hill in the Irish countryside. A small cabin made
of stone stands on top of the hill. Clothing pinned to a
clothes-line flutters in the rising wind.

Slowly the title appears on screen:

The Landlady - from the story by Roald Dahl
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. OFFICE BUILDING - DAY
                                                            
A very impersonal office. Rows of people are doing company
administration on small typewriters.

On screen it reads: Belfast, 1954.
                                                            
 
INT. GREENSLADE'S OFFICE - DAY
                                                            
CLOSE UP:

JACK TOWNSEND, sitting on a chair, looking less than happy.
Behind him a door opens and closes and we hear approaching
footsteps.
                                                            
                       GREENSLADE (OS)
Well now, Jack...
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. OFFICE BUILDING - DAY
                                                            
We quickly dolly in on:

BILLY WEAVER, 24 years old, sitting behind his desk. With a
troubled expression, he looks past the camera.

BILLY'S POV:

About ten meters away from him is Greenslade's office and
through the large picture windows Billy sees (but cannot
hear) an argument between his boss, MR. GREENSLADE, who is
a big balding guy in a suit, and Jack Townsend.

2.


ON BILLY

A pretty female colleague, JANICE REDFIELD, walks by and
stops at Billy's desk. She puts her hand on his shoulder and
looks at Greenslade's office.
                                                            
                       BILLY
Janice, what is going on in there?
                                                            
                       JANICE
Greenslade still yelling at
people?
                                                            
                       BILLY
Yes.
                                                            
                       JANICE
The poor guy is getting himself a
new house build up north. He had a
fight with the contractor and now
the missus is afraid they
might get stiffed. So Greenslade
is desperately trying to talk a
minimum wage employee into going
up there for a few weeks to
oversee the final stages and
report to him on a daily basis.
                                                            
At that moment, the door of Greenslade's office flies open
and out comes an outraged Jack Townsend, who storms out of
the building.
                                                            
                       JANICE
      (wryly)
Of course, no one is exactly
burning with desire to do old man
Greenslade such a favor.
                                                            
Greenslade appears in the door opening of his office.

MEDIUM SHOT:

Greenslade.
                                                            
                       GREENSLADE
Weaver! Billy Weaver!
                                                            
ON BILLY AND JANICE
                                                            
                       JANICE
      (wryly)
O, dear, I guess your number is
up. And I wonder how many people
            (MORE)

3.

                       JANICE (cont'd)
around here have a last name that
starts with a X, Y or Z.
                                                            
Billy sighs. Janice offers him an encouraging smile. Slowly
he gets up and walks over to Greenslade, who smiles
insincerely and puts his hand around Billy's shoulder,
guiding him into the office.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. GREENSLADE'S OFFICE - DAY
                                                            
CLOSE UP:

Billy Weaver. Absent-mindedly, he stares into the camera.
                                                            
                       GREENSLADE (OS)
O, don't give me that look, Billy,
it's not like I'm doing this to
punish you, even though I know
that you and that Redfield girl
have become more acquainted than
our company policy allows.
                                                            
Billy considers him for a moment.

ON THE SCENE:
                                                            
                       GREENSLADE (CONTINUED)
Ballymena is not on the dark side
of the moon. If you take the train
you can be there before nightfall.
In fact, I already got a first
class ticket for you right here in
my drawer. First class, Billy,
first class. I also booked a room
for you at the Bell and Dragon,
which happens to be one of the
finest four star hotels in
Northern Ireland.
                                                            
That doesn't sweeten the deal for Billy. The cold stare
seems to be plastered on his face.
                                                            
                       GREENSLADE (CONTINUED)
Okay, Billy, have it your way.
Look sulky all you want but you
are going to Ballymena anyway. I'm
not asking you, I'm telling you. I
really need someone up there to
make sure things are okay. And it
is just for two weeks for crying
            (MORE)

4.

                       GREENSLADE (cont'd)
out loud. Three weeks at the most.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. OFFICE BUILDING - DAY
                                                            
JANICE'S POV:

Through the picture window, we see Billy looking defeated
and Greenslade smiling.

CLOSE UP:

Janice, as she stares at Billy and Greenslade.

ON BILLY

As he leaves Greenslade's office. He stops for a second when
he sees Janice staring at him.

BILLY'S POV

Janice, standing in the distance, staring at him. She hold
her fist by her ear and straightens her thumb and little
finger.

JANICE'S POV:

Billy nods and leaves the building.
                                                            
                                         FADE OUT
                                                            
                                         FADE IN:
                                                            
 
EXT. RAILROAD - DAY
                                                            
Music: "In a lifetime" by Clannad (instrumental intro
only).

A train passes by.

                                                            
 
INT. TRAIN - DAY
                                                            
Billy is staring out the window, looking at the sky and the
sunset.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 

5.

EXT. TRAIN STATION, BELLYMENA - NIGHT
                                                            
Slowly the train comes to a stop.

The doors open en Billy steps out. He is the only passenger
on the platform.

In the distance a PORTER is strolling by.
                                                            
                       BILLY
Excuse me?! Excuse me!!
                                                            
The porter turns around.
                                                            
WIDE SHOT:

(shot from other platform) capturing both Billy and the
porter as they talk.
                                                            
                       BILLY
Excuse me, I'm looking for the
Bell and Dragon.
                                                            
OVER THE SHOULDER SHOT BILLY:

(shot with a long focus lens to make the porter appear
closer than he actually is)
                                                            
                       PORTER
Ah, yes, the Bell and Dragon. It's
about 3 kilometers from here. Just
keep walking straight ahead!
                                                            
                       BILLY
Thank you!
                                                            
The porter nods and when he turns around to walks away, we
cut back to the WIDE SHOT of the platform.
                                                            
                                         DISSOLVE TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. STREETS - NIGHT
                                                            
Nigh has fallen in Bellymena. It is dark and foggy. The
diffused light from the lanterns are glowing balls that
float in the dark.

ON BILLY:


6.

Billy is getting more and more annoyed. He is tired, hungry
and in a town where he doesn't even want to be.

Sighing, he puts down the suitcase and hangs his coat over
it. He takes out his handkerchief and wipes the sweat of his
forehead. Then he notices a sign in the garden of the house
on his right.

The sign reads: "BED & BREAKFAST".

Billy frowns and turns to the house. It is a small, cozy,
fairly old place. The garden looks well kept, the grass is
mown and there is a nice arch of ivy above the front door.

The thin curtains in front of the windows are closed, but
Billy sees dancing shadows inside, probably caused by the
flames in the fireplace.
                                                            
                                         INTERCUT WITH:
                                                            
 
INT. HOUSE - NIGHT
                                                            
Through the curtains, we look at Billy as he stands in front
of the garden. In the background, we hear the sounds of the
fireplace, the flames eating at the logs.

ON BILLY

Billy knows the Bell & Dragon is more fancy and offers more
privacy, but damn, it is late, he still has a few kilometers
to walk and what a tired man needs is not decadency, but a
place to put down his head.

Hm, what to do? His choice is not very time consuming. He
picks up his suitcase and walks into the garden. As he goes
underneath the arch of ivy, the darkness seems to swallow
him.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. HOUSE, FRONT PORCH - DAY
                                                            
Billy puts his suitcase down again and presses the doorbell.
The moment his finger touches it, the door is answered.

An old lady appears in the doorway. This is THE LANDLADY.
She is in her early seventies. Normal posture, her age has
made her smaller but she is still not Your Average Elderly
Dwarf.

The Landlady smiles at Billy, who is a bit taken aback.
                                                            

7.

                       LANDLADY
Good evening, young man, please do
come in.
                                                            
                       BILLY
Erm, I was on my way to the Bell
and Dragon when I noticed the sign
in the garden -
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
-- But of course you did...
                                                            
                       BILLY
I was wondering, how much do you
charge?
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
Two Pounds fifty, which includes
breakfast. But if you prefer to
have the most important meal of
the day in a restaurant where you
pay twice as much for something
that isn't even half as nutritious
as my beans and eggs, I'll charge
you fifty pence less.
                                                            
She laughs very loud, very fake. Billy barely manages to
raise the corners of his mouth. This woman is clearly not
all there, but hey, 2 Pounds for a night isn't bad at all
and Billy is still very tired.
                                                            
                       BILLY
Well, that sounds very reasonable.
I'd love to spend the night here.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
I already thought you would, young
man. Please come in and mind your
step there.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. HOUSE - NIGHT
                                                            
Billy enters the house.
Straight ahead is a steep stairway that leads into darkness.
An archway leads to a small, cozy living room.

Billy takes off his hat and look around him. The hat-rack is
empty.
                                                            

8.

                       BILLY
Am I your only guest tonight,
ma'am?
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
Let me take your coat and your
hat, please.
                                                            
Billy, a bit puzzled, gives her his coat and his hat.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
Yes, it will just be the two of
us. I lost a lot of potential
guests when they built that darn
Bell and Dragon down the road five
years ago.
      (shrugs)
But please, follow me upstairs and
I'll show you your room.
                                                            
The landlady starts to go up the stairs. Billy is about to
follow her when he senses something. He turns to the left,
facing the living room.

Music: "Riverdance" by Celtic Spirit (soprano intro only)

A fire burns in the fireplace. In front of the fireplace, a
small, curdled up dog is sleeping.
In the left corner of the living room, next to the window
stands a birdcage with a parrot in it.

CLOSE UP (seen from the back):

The dog and the flames (flames dancing in slow motion; no
sound)

CLOSE UP:

Billy, looking a bit troubled.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY (OS)
Are you okay down there?
                                                            
ON THE SCENE:

Billy turns around and looks up the stairs. The landlady
stands on the landing, looking down. She is just a
silhouette in this light.
                                                            
                       BILLY
Yes, I'm fine.
                                                            

9.

He starts going up the stairs while the landlady walks
through the corridor to a door at the end of the hallway.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. SECOND FLOOR - NIGHT
                                                            
Billy comes to a stop on the landing. He turns around and
sees the landlady standing in the door opening at the end of
the corridor. Light comes pouring out of the room.
Because the landlady is back lit by the light from the room,
she is, once again, a silhouette. Does she smile? Does she
have a blank expression? Does she look angry or annoyed?
Billy can't make it out from where he is standing and it
makes him feel uneasy.
Then, ever so slowly, Billy walks towards the woman.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT
                                                            
Billy enters the bedroom, followed by the landlady who
smiles motherly at him. The room is small, old fashioned and
sober. The ceiling is kinda tall, and the small chandelier
hanging from the ceiling creates a somewhat harsh
light...but the room is clean, has a bed and a roof.
Through the three windows we see the foggy night. The
lanterns outside create three balls of diffused light,
seemingly floating in front of the windows.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
It's been quite a while since my
last guest set foot through this
door, but you'll find the sheets
to be fresh. I clean all the guest
rooms twice a week and I think
you'll be rather comfortable in
here. If you need anything, my
room is down the hall, last door
on the left.
                                                            
Billy places his suitcase on the bed and opens it.
                                                            
                       BILLY
Thank you, you're very kind.
                                                            

10.

                       LANDLADY
You are very welcome, young man.
Excuse me, what was your name
again? You were Mr. Perkins,
right?
                                                            
                       BILLY
No, ma'am, I'm Billy Weaver.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
Ah, yes. Mr. Weaver. O, I know you
are tired but before you go to
sleep, would you mind signing the
guestbook in the living room?
                                                            
                       BILLY
Certainly, no problem at all.
      (beat)
Oh, by the way, do you happen to
have a telephone here?
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
No. I used to have one, but with
my lack of income, it was best to
get rid of it. I'm sorry.
                                                            
Billy nods.

The landlady is starting to leave. On the threshold she
turns around to Billy.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
      (serious)
I'm so glad you're here. I was
starting to get worried.
                                                            
                       BILLY
Just mustn't worry about me. I'm
fine.
                                                            
She nods, hesitates for a moment and then leaves the room.
Billy starts to unpack. Then he senses something and looks
over his shoulder.

There she stands, on the other side of the hallway, half in,
half out of her room, looking at him. Once again, her face
is in the darkness.

MEDIUM CLOSE UP:

The Landlady, as she moves into her room. But the movement
seems slightly unnatural, as if she slides into her room.


11.

ON BILLY

He slowly turns around and finishes unpacking.
Then he walks to the window on the left and opens it.

Sitting on the window silk, he reaches inside his breast
pocket and takes out a small picture of Janice.
                                                            
                       BILLY
Tomorrow. I promise.
                                                            
He puts the picture away and smokes a cigarette.
                                                            
                                         FADE OUT
                                                            
                                         FADE IN:
                                                            
 
INT. BATHROOM - DAY
                                                            
Billy is washing his hands and face.
A small light bulb hangs from the ceiling and illuminates
only parts of the mirror and leaves the rest of the bathroom
in darkness.
Billy stares into the mirror.
                                                            
                                         INTERCUT WITH:
                                                            
 
INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
                                                            
CLOSE UP of the dog in front of the fireplace. This time in
regular speed and with sound. The sound of the flames are
very loud, very menacing.

ON BILLY

As he stares in the mirror, completely motionless,
completely silent.
                                                            
                                         FADE OUT
                                                            
                                         FADE IN:
                                                            
 
INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
                                                            
Through the arch, we see Billy coming down the stairs.

The guest book lays opened on a display near the fireplace.

Billy takes a pen and swiftly puts down his autograph.
Then he notices that on the same page, there are only two

12.

more names.

CLOSE UP GUESTBOOK:

"Christopher Mulholland, October the first, 1950

Gregory W. Temple, august the fifth, 1952"

ON THE SCENE:
                                                            
                       BILLY
      (to himself)
Mulholland...Mulholland...
                                                            
                       LANDLADY (OS)
Ah, Mr. Mulholland...such a
polite, handsome young lad, just
like yourself.
                                                            
Billy turns around. The landlady enters the sitting room,
holding a silver dish with two cups, a pot of tea and a
crystal plate of cookies.
                                                            
                       BILLY
The name has such a familiar ring
to it.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
Being a traveler, it maybe reminds
you of that road in Los Angeles?
                                                            
                       BILLY
Well, maybe, but the weird thing
is that I seem to remember that
these two names in here,
Mulholland and Temple, are somehow
connected. Could it be that they
were famous people? I think I read
a news paper article about them.
Were they singers or something? A
duo: Mulholland and Temple?
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
O, I wouldn't know. I don't listen
to that loud music you young
people seem to enjoy so much these
days. But I doubt if famous people
would want to spend the night in a
humble little bed & breakfast like
this. Besides, they didn't spend
the night here together. Mr.
Temple arrived two years later.
                                                            

13.

                       BILLY
Maybe it was before they got
famous, before they knew each
other. Maybe they met each other
after spending the night here.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
O, you young people are always
putting so much worries into your
heads. Even when it is late and
you should be relaxing before
going to bed.
                                                            
                       BILLY
Maybe you are right.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
Of course I am. Now, why don't you
join me right over here for a nice
hot cup of tea?
                                                            
Billy sits down next to her. He looks at the dish.
                                                            
                       BILLY
You shouldn't have gone through
all that trouble just for me.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
O, believe me, Mr. Wilkens, it was
no trouble at all. I'm just very
happy to have you as my guest.
                                                            
                       BILLY
My name is Weaver.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
I'm sorry, you have to forgive me.
In one ear and out the other.
                                                            
She smiles and pours him a cup of tea. He takes the cup from
her and takes a sip, while looking at the dog and the
parrot. Then, his eyes widen.
                                                            
                       BILLY
O, my God....I almost fell for
it...
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
I beg your pardon?
                                                            

14.

                       BILLY
The dog and the parrot. They are
stuffed, aren't they?
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
Why, yes.
                                                            
                       BILLY
The person who did this must have
been very talented. I mean, they
still look so lifelike. Not
artificial at all.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
O, thank you so much. That is such
a nice thing to say.
                                                            
                       BILLY
      (surprised)
You did this yourself?
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
Taxidermy is my hobby. It helps
passing time.
                                                            
                       BILLY
Yes, I guess you must have put
quite some time in that.
                                                            
Billy takes another sip of his tea.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
Sugar? Milk?
                                                            
                       BILLY
No, thank you.
                                                            
Billy is getting a bit silent. We slowly zoom in on Billy as
the sounds around him seem to slowly fade away.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
Is everything alright?
                                                            
                       BILLY
Excuse me? O, yes, I'm sorry. I
guess I am more sleepy than I
thought. A bit dizzy even.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
      (smiling)
I completely understand. O, by the
way, you did sign the guestbook,
            (MORE)

15.

                       LANDLADY (cont'd)
didn't you?
                                                            
                       BILLY
Yes, I did.
      (beat)
I think I remember something....I
did read about Mulholland and
Temple in the newspapers. But not
because they were famous. I
think...I think it was because
something happened to them.
                                                            
                       LANDLADY
Young man, you really worry too
much. Look at you. You ought to
give your head some rest and enjoy
a good night's sleep. Here, let me
take that cup from you before it
falls out of your hand.
                                                            
With slightly trembling hands, Billy very slowly hands her
the half-empty cup and leans forward. He looks at the dog in
front of the fireplace and desperately tries to focus.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. HOUSE - NIGHT
                                                            
Music: "Lord of the Dance" by Michael Flatley.

We see the house. In the room next to Billy's, the lights
are on.

Through the window of the room, we see two shadowy figures
sitting there. Motionless.
                                                            


FADE OUT.


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