The Power of the Dog (2021) - full transcript

Severe, pale-eyed, handsome, Phil Burbank is brutally beguiling. All of Phil's romance, power and fragility is trapped in the past and in the land: He can castrate a bull calf with two swift slashes of his knife; he swims naked in the river, smearing his body with mud. He is a cowboy as raw as his hides. The year is 1925. The Burbank brothers are wealthy ranchers in Montana. At the Red Mill restaurant on their way to market, the brothers meet Rose, the widowed proprietress, and her impressionable son Peter. Phil behaves so cruelly he drives them both to tears, revelling in their hurt and rousing his fellow cowhands to laughter - all except his brother George, who comforts Rose then returns to marry her. As Phil swings between fury and cunning, his taunting of Rose takes an eerie form - he hovers at the edges of her vision, whistling a tune she can no longer play. His mockery of her son is more overt, amplified by the cheering of Phil's cowhand disciples. Then Phil appears to take the boy under his wing. Is this latest gesture a softening that leaves Phil exposed, or a plot twisting further into menace? - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
[pensive music playing]

[boy] When my father passed,

I wanted nothing more
than my mother's happiness.

For what kind of man would I be
if I did not help my mother?

If I did not save her?


[cowhand shouting indistinctly]

[cowhands whistling, yelling]

[door closes]

You're not eating?


[housekeeper sighs]


Have you figured it out yet, fatso?

- [man] What?
- [plucking banjo]

How many years
since we took over the ranch

from the Old Gent and Old Lady?


Oh hell, think about it.

[playing melody on banjo]

You ever try the house bath, Phil?

No, I have not.


[Phil] Early up tomorrow, brother.
Big old drive.

[cow mooing in distance]

[pensive music playing]

- [cows mooing]
- [cowhand whistles]

[indistinct chatter]

[Phil] There's a dead cow.
Keep our cattle away.

- [cowhand] What happened?
- [Phil] Anthrax. Don't touch.

Well, guess this is it.

What's "it," Phil?

What's "it"? All right, fatso,
I'll tell you what "it" is.

Twenty-five years
since our first run together.

Nineteen hundred and nothing.

That's a long time.

Well, not too damn long.

Know what we should do?

What's that?

Go camping again in the mountains
and shoot ourselves some fresh elk liver.

Cook it right there on the coals
like Bronco Henry taught us.

You got a sore gut?


You act like it pains you
to hitch two words together.

[cowhands shout indistinctly]

[piano music playing]

[woman humming]

[doorbell jingles]

There'll be 12 for tonight.

Do you what they'd prefer to eat?

They like the fried chicken dinner.


[boy] Yes?

I'm going to need your room.

[boy] All right.

[door opens]

What are you doing?


Is that an album?

Not really.

- [woman] May I?
- Sure.

[woman gasps]

- [boy] Do you like the mansion?
- [woman] Too much to clean.

You wouldn't have to clean it.
There would be cleaners.

[both chuckle]

Oh, she's beautiful.

I like her flowers.

Oh! That's clever, Peter.

They're so lovely.


[woman] For the tables?


- I need three chickens. Can you do them?
- All right.

[sighs] You're gonna have
to move your stuff to the shed.

I'll make a bed for you on the floor.

[uneasy music playing]

- [cows mooing]
- [cowhands whistling]

[cowhands shouting indistinctly]

[pensive music playing]

[cowhands shouting indistinctly]

[dog barks]

[indistinct chatter]


[men chattering indistinctly]

- [Phil] He there?
- Nope.

Well, we can't wait forever.
The cattle are in the yards, so drink up.

- You gonna say something?
- Nope.

Not without my brother.

[breathes deeply]

Where were you?

I couldn't make
the boys hold back forever.

That's fine.


Checked the power, and it's held up.
Not coming till morning.

Oh, no, thanks. Phil, they're ready for us
next door at the Red Mill.

Dinnertime, boys.

[indistinct chatter]

[man] Let's get a move on.

Twenty-five years ago,
where were you, Georgie Boy?


- With you.
- I'll tell you.

A chubby know-nothing
too dumb to get through college.

People helped you, fatso.

One person in particular
taught you and me ranching

so we damn well succeeded.

- Bronco Henry.
- Hmm.

[clears throat] So…

So, to us brothers, Romulus and Remus,
and the wolf who raised us.

- [cowhand 1] Bronco Henry.
- [cowhands] Bronco.

- Il Lupo.
- [George] Bronco.

- [cowhand 2] Bronco Henry.
- [cowhand 3] Bronco Henry.

[glasses thudding on table]


- [cowhand 4] Boss is leavin'.
- [cowhand 5] Dinner, boys.

[George] Much obliged.

[indistinct chatter]

Rose? Rose, play piano for us please.

[Rose] I can't!

- [diners] Play! Play! Play!
- [woman 1] Come on!

[diners banging on table]

[diners groaning]

- Is everything all right?
- [George] Yes, ma'am. Fine.

[man] I can play the piano.

[diners laughing]

[indistinct chatter]

Well, well…

Ain't them purdy.

[cowhands chuckle]

[diners laughing]

[woman 2] "I've never seen a woman
behind the wheel of a car."

[indistinct chatter]

[diners laughing]

[woman 2] I said, "Have you never seen
a lady drive a car before?"

[indistinct chatter]

He thought the dog was driving.

No. No.

- No!
- [laughing]

Oh, yeah.


I wonder what little lady made these.

[cowhands chuckle]

Actually, I did, sir.

My mother was a florist.

So I made them
to look like the ones in our garden.

Oh, well, do pardon me.

They're just as real as possible.

[cowhands chuckle]

[sniffing] Mmm.


All right. Now, gentlemen, look.
See, that's what you do with the cloth.

[cowhands gasping]

- It's really just for wine drips.
- [Phil] Ooh, you got that, boys?

Only for the drips. [lisps]

[all laughing]

Now get us some food.

- Did Bronco ever eat here?
- No, he did not.

So where did you eat?

Uh, back then we had herring at the saloon
and a whole lot of alcohol.



I remember this one time, Bronco made
this wager that he could jump any horse

over the tables and chairs of the saloon
piled up in the street.

Well, we chose him a nag all right.

[all chuckle]

It didn't bother him.

He took off his saddle,

walked the horse
up to the tables and chairs,

talking to him all the while,

stroking his big, ugly head
while the horse sniffed.

[Phil clicks tongue]

And then he swung on
and rode him back and… [exhales]

[cowhand 1] What?

Flew over.

- [all chuckling]
- [cowhand 2] He jumped it?

- [cowhand 2 groans]
- [all laughing]

But to get a nag to jump… ain't heard of.

Put it down to amour. [sighs]

What do you say, George?


[hesitates] What… I don't know
what you're talking about.

[all laughing]

- [piano playing]
- [diners singing indistinctly]

Do you mind quietening? We're eating.

[diners continue singing]

Shut that down, or I will!

[piano stops playing]

[doorbell jingles]

[indistinct chatter]

[cowhand whistling]

[running thumb over comb]

[Rose] Are you all right, Peter?

Where are you going?


[all laughing]

[George] Go on over. I'll settle up.

Settle in the morning.

[George] I'll be along.

[footsteps receding]

[doorbell jingles]

[door closes]

[Rose crying]

[Rose continues crying]

[clears throat]

[Rose continues crying]

Shall I settle up now, Mrs. Gordon, or…

[Rose continues crying]

[Rose sniffling and crying]

[breathes shakily]

Please, you can…

Send the bill, and I'll post a check.

[all singing and exclaiming]

[all] ♪ Please, oh, please
Oh, do not let me fall ♪

♪ You're all mine
I love you best of all ♪

♪ You must be my girl
Or I'll have no girl at all ♪

♪ There'll be a hot time
In the old town tonight ♪

[all exclaim]

[all] ♪ When you hear
The bells a-dinglin' ♪

♪ All join 'round
And sweetly you must sing… ♪

[all continue singing indistinctly]

[indistinct chatter]

[horse whinnies]

[cowhand] Come over here. I love you.

- [door opens]
- [doorbell jingles]

[door slams]

[spurs jingle]



[cowhands cheering in distance]




[clatter in distance]


[footsteps approaching]


[sniffs] Where have you been?

What you said about her boy tonight, Phil…

Made her cry.

She had her ear to the door?

She was crying, Phil.

[Phil] What the hell?

I said her boy needed
to snap out of it and get human.

Pointed it out, that's all.

She should damn well know.

[indistinct chatter in distance]

[cowhands cheering]

[uneasy music playing]

[cowhands cheering]

[cowhand 1] Hold it.

[cowhand 2] He's got it! [cheers, groans]

He was better before.

[cowhand 3] He's getting there.

Is that how Bronco Henry learned it?

I never saw him out on a lunge,
that's a fact.

[cowhand 4] What is it
you see up there, Phil?

Are animals up there?

Has anyone else seen
what you've seen, Phil?


Nah, not him.

Come on, Phil. What is it?

There is something there, right?

Not if you can't see it, there ain't.

[cowhand 5] Gotta be an animal.

[pensive music playing]

[knocking on door]

Hello, Mr. Burbank.

Hello, Mrs. Gordon.

How can I help you?

[hesitates] I really just came to see you.


I'm quite busy.


"This most wholesome sauce is excellent

with meats, fish, and cheese."

[diners laughing and cheering]

They have wine with them.

I wish they wouldn't do that.

I don't like drinking.

I'd say they have more in them than wine.
Sounds like booze.

They're early.

I should have never put
the pianola in there.

- [diners talking indistinctly]
- [piano playing]

[door opens]

- [Rose] Here's the water.
- [diners cheering]

[Rose sighs]

I see… I see the Herndon doctor
and the undertaker, Mr. Weltz.

Oh, goodness. [sighs]
I wish Peter were here. [chuckles]

He should be serving the salad,
and I need to fry the chicken.

Sometimes if you get food on the table…

Um, Mr. Burbank,

I'm gonna run and get Peter.

[door opens]


[piano continues playing]

- Uh, looks like I'm the new waiter.
- [piano stops playing]


Mr. Burbank.

[George] Mr. Weltz.

[banjo playing]

[vehicle approaching in distance]

Run into any snow down below?

[George] None to speak of.

[smacks lips]

Well, I guess I'll roll me a smoke
since I'm woke up.

[Phil sighs]

How far did you get?

Beech. That's where I aimed for.


Whatcha doin' down there, Georgie Boy?

Little tomcatting?


I was speaking to Mrs. Gordon.

Oh, yes.

She cried on your shoulder.

[George sighs] So she did.

Give her half a chance,

and she'll be after some dollar
for Miss Nancy's college fee.

Remember how the Old Lady
brought those girls out to the ranch

as soon as we could get hard-ons?

[chuckling] Oh my God.

Remember the tomato soup queen?


Wasn't it her that wrote you,

"I always will remember the western moon"?


Well, guess you coulda taken her out

without first putting
a sack over her head.

[chuckling] Unlike some others.


Well, night, Phil.

[Phil] It's a piece of ass
you're after, fatso,

I'm damn sure
you can get it without a license.

[footsteps receding]

[Phil grunts]

Hold it.


[uneasy music playing]

[cowhand] What do you do with these?



Do you cut 'em up or something?

[Phil] George has…

He's gone again?

[Phil] …got himself… tangled

with a suicide… widow…

…and her half-cooked son.

A little desk for your big desk.

[George] Phil.

Yep, got you, old-timer.

- [sighs]
- Did you write to the Old Lady?

Yeah, I dropped 'em both a line.

Did you say something about Rose?

Yeah, Rose…

Well, you know as well as I do
what the Old Lady would feel

if she thought
you were getting mixed up with her.


She'd likely have a hemorrhage.

The Old Lady would feel
as one Mrs. Burbank would feel

for another Mrs. Burbank.

Come again?

We were married Sunday.

She got rid of her property in Beech.

[uneasy music playing]

Quit it.

[horse grunts]

Stand steady, you little bitch, huh?

- Come on.
- [horse snorts]

Look at me, you little bitch!
Huh? [grunts] Yeah?

Quit it! You fat-faced bitch!


[horse whinnying]

[woman] My school boarders eat dinner
at 6:00 p.m. sharp.

No dish-washing duty if he has homework.

Oh. No shoes inside.

[Rose] Maybe you'd like to come
to the ranch sometimes?

Won't that be nice?

[Peter] May I keep
some of these rose petals?

[George] Hey, ho.

Take the rest for later.


[George] I've been thinking
we should have some sort of dinner party

to introduce you to my parents.

And perhaps we could invite
the governor and his wife too.

I saw them in Herndon today, and, uh,

I… I kind of already mentioned it to them.


Uh, maybe you'd be kind enough
to play something on our old piano.

But, George, I'm not very good.

- I only played for the moving pictures.
- [chuckles]

You are plenty fine enough for us.

The Old Lady can't play a note,
so… [chuckles]

If that's what you want.

This looks like a good spot.

Pull over here, please.

[George] A good spot for what?

[Rose chuckles softly]

You are marvelous, Rose.

[chuckles softly]

Stand beside me, George.

[George] What's happening? [chuckles]

[Rose] Follow me.

Left foot forward.

One, two, three. And to the side.

One, two, three. And back.

One, two, three.

- To the side again. One, two…
- Sorry, I… I really can't.

- I really can't dance. I… [chuckles]
- You're dancing. [chuckles]

Here. This foot forward.

Don't think.

One, two, three. To the side.

One, two, three. And back.

One, two, three.

I told you I'd teach you. [chuckles]

Forward, two, three.

Side, two…


[breathes deeply]

What is it, George?

I just… [sighs]

I wanted to say how nice it is

not to be alone.

[somber music playing]

[thunder rumbling]

[engine idling]

[George] Go on up and get out of the cold.

[car door closes]

[thunder rumbling]

[door closes]

Hello, Phil.

You remember Rose?

- Oh, hello there.
- Hello.

- Something wrong with the furnace?
- Search me.

- I'll go down and shake it up.
- I've been hanging around for you all day.

There's a deed
the Old Gent wants sent to him.

Well, I figure that can go till morning.

- You all right?
- I'm perfectly fine, George.


[muttering softly]

Well, brother Phil,

we had such a nice trip...

I'm not your brother.

You're a cheap schemer.

[housekeeper humming]

[playing banjo]

[mockingly] "We had such a nice trip."

[switch clicks]

[footsteps approach]

[lock clicks]

[footsteps receding]

[whispers] Come on in.

This is the bathroom.
Just make yourself at home.

Yeah, that's fine.

All right.


[doorknob squeaking]

- [tap squeaking]
- [water running]

[Rose brushing teeth]

[toothbrush tapping on sink]

[footsteps receding]

[George speaking indistinctly]

[Rose] Mm-hmm.

[George speaking indistinctly]

[Rose chuckles]

[bed squeaking]

[George moaning]

[George and Rose moaning]

[uneasy music playing]

Now, you just make yourself comfortable.

Now, I'm going to bring you a surprise.

What is it?

Well, then it won't be a surprise.


[housekeeper] When the rains come,
the cellar gets flooded.

So, the rats all drown.
They float to the surface.

I have to get the young lads in
to scoop 'em all up with a…

Please keep talking. [chuckles]

Don't mind me.

I like to keep busy.

[dogs barking]

[cowhands panting]

[George] Easy.

[cowhand 1] We got it.

[George] Head to the right.

[indistinct chatter]

- [George] Turn it around that way.
- [young housekeeper] Please, I'll take it.

- What is it?
- [George] Head to the front door.

[Rose panting] George. Is that…

Is that a grand?

- [George] You got it?
- [cowhand 2] Yeah, I got it.

- [cowhand 3 grunting] Whoa, hold it.
- It's a Mason & Hamlin baby grand.

Oh no, it's… it's too good for me. I'm…

I'm just very average.
I… I only know tunes.

That's what I want, tunes.

The governor too.

We don't want a concert.
We just wanna hear you play, Rose.

- I should like to look on the governor…
- [George] Easy.

[housekeeper] …as he drives up
and gets out of his vehicle.

[cowhands grunting]

- [cowhand 4] One step at a time, ready?
- [cowhand 5] Two, three, four.

[wind howling in distance]

[piano playing]

[stops playing abruptly]

[continues playing]

[plays incorrect note]


[door creaking]

[wind howling]

[floorboard creaking]

[resumes playing]

[banjo playing same melody in distance]

[piano and banjo resume playing]

[banjo continues playing]

[banjo stops]

[piano and banjo resume playing]

[banjo continues playing expertly]

[uneasy music playing]


- [cowhand] You make a rope with these?
- [Phil] These strips? Yeah.

You boys find something needs doing.

[cowhands] Yes, sir.

[cowhands speaking indistinctly]

I just came over to speak about something.

Come on, partner.
Open your talker. What is it?


His Nibs will be here for dinner
and the Old Gent and the Old Lady.

Well, sir, ain't we going into society.

[both chuckle]

[Phil] She on the pinano again?

Setting your teeth on edge?

No. Uh…

No, I… I like to hear Rose play.


Well, old-timer, what is it?

What's in the noodle?

[George] Well…

Phil. [hesitates] I, uh…

- I just…
- Go on, spit it out.

- Well, it's about His Nibs, the governor.
- [Phil] All right.

And, uh…

Well, it's not so much about His Nibs

but His Nibs' wife, actually, uh…

I was thinking His Nibs
probably wouldn't mind so much,

but his missus might.

What, for dear Christ's sake?

Well, it's sort of a hard thing…
[exhales sharply]

…to say.


She might mind if you come
to the table without a washup.


[pensive music playing]

[George] Hello, Mother, Father.

[Old Gent] Hello.

The car's around the side.

Is there anyone with you?

My wife.

The napkin is fanned, so…


Light the fire.

- Yes, ma'am.
- Yes, ma'am.

We may as well try and warm this place.

Water, white wine…

Use your hand. Use your hand like so.

[young housekeeper] They're here.

You keep warm. I can bring them in.

[indistinct chatter, cheering]

[woman chuckling] Oh, how sweet.
They have their own umbrella.

- [George] Orange blossoms.
- It's an island of civilization here.

[woman] Mmm.

I was, uh, telling Georgie
about your brother.

Phi Beta Kappa at Yale, wasn't it?

Yes, in classics.

That's right.

So, uh… he swears at the cattle
in Greek or Latin?

[woman and George chuckle]


Uh, Rose plays the piano very well.

Do you?

That's a nice surprise.


I'll just go have a look-see
out the back for Phil.

Oh, good. I want to meet this brother.

[George] Yes.

[woman] I suppose
there was some sort of an injury.

[Old Lady laughing] Oh, Edward, Georgina.

Ah! Here are two people we can't fool.

Oh no, you cannot. We know everything.
We're walking encyclopedias.

At least I am.
I have nothing to do but read.

[Old Gent] She's been reading
"The Curse of Tutankhamun" in The Digest.

So, uh, you believe in the curse?

Oh, no, no, I'm not drinking
George's concoction.

Yes, I do. But did you know
that Tutankhamun was just a boy?

Only 18.

[George] Phil, are you here?

I was looking for you.

Well, you found me.

Everyone's here.
And we're just about to eat.

They're asking after you.


Yes, we're counting on your conversation.

I shouldn't have said
what I said to you about...

You two can keep your apologies
to yourself. I'm not coming.

And what will I say?

The Old Lady wants to see you too.
She's come a long way.

You can tell them the truth.

That I stink and I like it.

[Old Lady] Nothing could have happened
to Phil, could it?

[George] No, he'll be fine.
Something just must've come up.

[Georgina] So, Rose…

Are you going to play for us?

[Old Lady] Yes, George told me
you play very well.

- Oh no, I'm terribly out of practice.
- [Edward] Yes, we'd love that.

Come now, you've been playing a lot.

You know you have.

I don't know what to play.

[George] Why,

play the one I like.

- What one?
- Why, the… the one about the Gypsy.

I… I can't seem to remember that one.

Just play anything. [chuckles]


[clears throat]

[Rose sighs]

[playing discordantly]

I'm so sorry.

I can't seem to play. [chuckles]

I… I played in a cinema pit
for hours and hours.

I'm… I'm so sorry.

Well, she got you halter trained,
right, George? That's the main thing.

- [laughing]
- [Rose] I'm so sorry.

No, it was a lovely, lovely evening.

Thank you.

[Phil whistling melodically]

Oh, you're Phil.

So, you weren't eaten by a cougar.

[Phil] Not yet.

I am sorry
to have missed your conversation.

I've heard you're brilliant.

You're gonna want to keep your distance.
I'm just off the horse.

Anyhows, you don't want conversation.

You've been listening to the pinano
and dancing, I guess.

You dance?

You didn't play?

You sure did practice a terrible lot.

See, you wouldn't think
there was much difference

between a cinema pit and a dinner party.

[Old Lady] Where have you been, Phil?

I could hardly eat worrying about you.

I didn't get washed up, so I didn't come.

[Old Lady chuckles] You didn't wash?

Oh, he's a ranchman, isn't that right?
That's honest dirt.

- Thank you, again.
- Thank you.

[indistinct chatter]

[George] I'll just run and grab you
a blanket for the ride.

[whistling melodically]

[continues whistling]

[George] All right, goodbye.

[uneasy music playing]

[Rose] I wondered
if you didn't think about

leaving your medical books here
for the summer.

I thought about it, but…
but you understand they were Dad's.

Turn around.

Are you eating?

I made a new friend.

He calls me Doctor,
and I call him Professor,

'cause that's what we wanna be.

Why don't you invite your friend
to the ranch?

[scoffs] No, Rose.

Why not?

Thank you.

I don't want him to meet a certain person.

[dramatic music playing]

[cowhand 1] A bull calf, boss!

[cowhand 2] Keep that leg stretched out!
You got him?

[cowhand 3] Grab his head!

[cowhand 4] I got it! I got it!

[cows bleating]

[cowhand 5] How come
you don't wear gloves?

[Phil] How 'bout
'cause they're not needed.

Castrate 1,500 head,
then nick your thumb on the last.


Well, fatso, I think we're finished.

Who's that?

Miss Nancy.

Our waiter?

Yep, that's him.

You're gonna see him
creeping all over the place now.

Big eyes goggling.

Little Lord Fauntleroy.

[Rose speaking indistinctly]


[George] Rose?


[George] Does he like his room?

[Rose] Mm-hmm.

I think so.

[Phil] Watch your fires. Summer's coming.

Which also means any Indians camping
need to be moved off the property.

No exceptions.

- We got animals they want to eat. Got it?
- [dog barking]

[cowhands] Yes, sir.

We don't sell hides.

We don't sell anything here.


[cowhands laughing]

Keep your eyes and ears open.

Maybe find yourselves
an arrowhead up by them aspens.

[cowhands laughing]

[uneasy music playing]

[objects clattering]


I have a headache.

Have a seat.

I'm not eating tonight.

It's George's week in town,
so it's just Phil.

[Peter] Mm-hmm.

I made a trap.

Oh no. It's… it's not a snake, is it?

[Rose chuckles sweetly]

It's a bunny.

Oh. Oh! [shushing]

You're okay. [kissing]

[chuckles, kisses]

[laughs, exclaims]

No, no, it's scared.

- [Peter] Come here.
- Get it, Peter.

[Peter] Come here. Come here. Come here.

Bring him to me.


[Rose murmuring indistinctly]

[door opens]

[footsteps approaching]

Don't worry about him.

You can eat in your room.

[housekeeper] They dug up that graveyard
to make way for the new highway.

Among those buried there
was a friend of mine.

A clumsy tractor driver
broke open the coffin,

and they found her hair
had continued to grow after her death.

The whole coffin just stuffed
with her lovely golden hair.

Except for a few feet from the end,

where it was gray.

Can I take it up?

- [housekeeper] Some say she was a beauty.
- What?

[housekeeper] Golden braids
on top of her hair.

Oh! Yes, go and see. It's very sweet.

- [knock on door]
- [door opens]

- No, please. Get out of my room.
- Where's your rabbit?

[young housekeeper squeaking]

I got it a carrot.

It doesn't want one.




Holy hell.

[clicks tongue] Shut the door.

[door closes]


Now, even if you're happy
being in your room all day,

it's good for me.

- Mom, I have a lot to do.
- Come on.


I thought you liked rabbits.

Yes. I do.

But if I want to be a surgeon,
I have to practice.


Well, you're not to kill them
in the house, Peter.

No, I'm putting my foot down.

Oh, where'd a man be
if he always did what his mother told him?

I'll score.

[Peter] Whoa!

Point to Mrs. Burbank.

I know, Lola. You don't have to…

You don't have to narrate it.
I'll just… remember.

- Whoo!
- [Lola] Yeah, that was definitely out.

[indistinct chatter]



Lola, can you please take over?
I have a migraine.

[Lola] Yeah.

- [cowhand 1] Where do you want me?
- Back there.

[cowhand 1] Yes, ma'am.

- I hit that way.
- I was aiming for you.

[cowhand 2] Don't listen to Bobby.

[Peter] Are you all right, Mother?

[Rose sniffles] I feel like my eyes
are going to pop out of my head.

[breathing heavily]

It's Phil, isn't it?

He's cold.

He's just a man, Peter, only another man.

You go ahead.



- [flies buzzing]
- [retches]


[exhales sharply]

[bottles clinking]

[Rose sighs]

[Phil whistling melodically]

[Phil resumes whistling]


[indistinct chatter]


Yeah? You want 'em off, do you?

- [laughing]
- You want 'em off?

Yeah, come on.

Yeah, you want 'em?

Yeah, you got 'em!

[uneasy music playing]

[music continues playing]


[water splashing]



Get out of here, you little bitch!

You hear me?

[Peter grunts]

[Phil] Get out of here!

[guitar playing]

[cowhand] ♪ Oh, Lord, oh, Lord ♪

♪ Put whiskey in my bottle ♪

♪ Let the snow melt off
Wash away my sorrow ♪

♪ I feel ♪

♪ That honeymoon on me ♪

[man] I know you. Good worker.

[cowhand]♪ I said, "Oh, Lord, oh, Lord" ♪

♪ "Oh, Lord, oh, Lord" ♪


♪ I said, "Oh, Daddy, oh, Daddy
Oh, Daddy, oh" ♪

♪ I said, "Oh, Daddy, oh, Daddy
Oh, Daddy, oh" ♪

- [singing fades out]
- Jesus.

[cook] You boys wanna eat,
come get it now.

[George] Whoa, whoa.

No one tell him to soak those jeans?

[cowhand 1] Howdy, ma'am.

[cowhand 2 whistles]

- [cowhand 3] Little faggot.
- [cowhands laugh]

[cowhand 4 whistling]

[all laughing and whistling]

[cowhand 5] Little Nancy.

[birds chirping]

[Phil] Pete.

Hey, Pete.


[Peter] You want me, Mr. Burbank?

[Phil] Well, I don't see
any Mr. Burbank here.

I'm Phil.

Yes, Mr. Burbank.

I guess it's hard for a young'un like you
to call an old fella like me

just plain Phil, at first.

Now come and take a look at this.

Have you done any braiding
or plaiting yourself, Pete?

No, I never have, sir.

Peter, we kind of got off
on the wrong foot.

- Did we, sir?
- [Phil] Forget the "sir" stuff.

That can happen to people.

People who get to be good friends.

Well, you know what?

What? What, Phil?

Now, you see? You did it.

You called me Phil.

I'm gonna finish this rope and give it
to you and teach you how to use it.

Sort of a lonesome place out here, Pete.

Unless you get in the swing of things.

Thank you… Phil.

How long do you expect it would take
to finish that rope?

I could get it finished
before you go back to school.


[Peter] Well…

It won't be very long then, Phil.

[uneasy music playing]

[dog barking]

[Phil whistles]

[door closes]

[Phil] Get on it.

You can sit on it, Pete.

Get yourself used to it.

You got any boots?

- [Peter] Yes.
- You should wear 'em.

Don't let your mom make a sissy of you.

[Peter] That's impressive, Phil.

Well, just by sitting there,

you're soaking up all the riding know-how
you'll ever need and then some.

That saddle belonged to Bronco Henry.

Greatest rider I ever knew.

There's a cliff way out back of the ranch
with initials and 1805 carved into it.

Must have been some fella
from the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

They were real men in those days.

Let's say just you and me
go out for a couple of days.

Find those trails
and follow them to the end.

Wouldn't be surprised if there were gold

or precious minerals in them there rocks.

[Peter] Do many of the calves
die from wolves?

There's always a few that get…
tore up or hamstrung or die of anthrax.

Call it blackleg.

You know, you talk like a Victrola record.
You know that?

No, I didn't know.

Yeah, well, you do.

- Did Bronco Henry teach you to ride, Phil?
- [Phil] Yep.

He taught me to use my eyes
in ways that other people can't.

Take that hill over there.

Most people look at it
and just see a hill.

Where Bronco looked at it,
what do you suppose he saw?

A barking dog.

- The hell, you just saw that now?
- No.

When I first came here.

See, it looks like a dog
with its jaw wide open.

You… you just saw that?


[running thumb over comb]

- [door opens]
- [Rose] Peter.

[uneasy music playing]


Can't you come in and talk for a little?

You've gotten to be quite friendly
with Phil, haven't you?

Is he nice to you?

[running thumb over comb]

He's making a rope for me.

Making a rope?

Peter, I wish you wouldn't make that sound
with your comb.

I wasn't aware.

[Rose] When I was little, I…

I felt a chill in my spine when I heard
the chalk squeak on a blackboard.

Oh, Miss… [chuckling]
Mrs. Merchant, that's who it was.

She… she drew chalk stars
by our names on the blackboard.

I wonder why it was stars she gave us.

Why not diamonds? Why not hearts?

Why not spades? [laughs] Why…

I wonder why it was always stars.

Because stars are supposed
to be unreachable.

[chuckles softly]


But they weren't unreachable
because she gave them to us.

- And, Peter?
- [Peter] Hmm?

We had this valentine box,
and it was covered with white crepe paper.

And we would paste big, red hearts on it.

Lopsided hearts. [chuckles]

And you had a great many valentines.

A great many?


Because you're beautiful.

Is there a sound that makes you shiver?

[running thumb over comb]

I don't remember.

We're not unreachable.

[Peter whispers] Hey.

No, we're not unreachable.

Mother, you don't have to do this.

I'll see you don't have to do it.

[running thumb over comb]

[cowhands laughing]

[indistinct chatter]

- [Phil] This his first week?
- [cowhand 1] Nope, third.

[Phil] Third?

Open up the gate. Let him out.

- You sure? He's not ready.
- Go on. Let him out.

[cowhands laughing]

[Phil grunts]

- [cowhand 2] Yeehaw, cowboy! Whoo!
- [all laughing]

There you go!

[cowhand 3] Grab her by the reins!

- [Phil] What you doing?
- Going to give him a hand.


- Let him figure it out.
- [cowhand 4] Oh, oh!

[Phil] Or not.

[cowhands laughing]

Fall off, you get back on.

[cowhand 5] Get her over!

[all laughing]

[uneasy music playing]




[yelps and shudders]

[flies buzzing]

[flesh cutting]

- [dog barks]
- [horse whinnies]

[George in distance]
Any happenings while I was away?

[Phil] Boys dug the ditch.

Water's flowing good.

Fixing that stack there.

[whistles] Hey, Pete!

[whistles] Come here.

Peter? Peter?

[George] Where are you two off to?

[Phil] We're going to the far field
to fence off the stack there.

[Rose breathing heavily]


- Rose?
- Peter!


Rose, what's the matter?

[grunts, panting]

[George] Rose?

Can't Peter go with you today?

Well, he could, but him and Phil
have kinda paired up.

I don't want that.

- I don't want him to be with Phil at all.
- But, Rose…


[splutters] He's helping him.
He taught him how to ride.

[uneasy music playing]

Hey, Pete, my pal.

Hey, Pete, my pal.

You gonna help?

You know who started riding
as late as you?

- Who?
- Bronco Henry.

Hadn't done any of it
till he was about your age now.

Hello, Mr. Cottontail.

Hey, Peter, let's see how long it takes

before Mr. Cottontail
makes a run for the open.

Now, as kids,
we used to take bets… [grunts]

…on how many poles we'd remove

before the animals ran out
and made a run for it.

Oh, he's still in there.

Gutsy little bugger.

I guess he has to be gutsy.

[Phil] Damn son of a bitch.

[Peter] Come on, now. Come on.

Think it broke his leg.

Well, put him out of his misery.

[Peter] Hmm.

It's all right.

[rabbit neck snaps]

[groans softly]

[Peter] That's deep.

You okay, Phil?

Yeah, what the hell?

Must be a splinter.

You got a tan.
That's a cowboy tan you got.


Bronco Henry told me that…

A man was made
by patience and the odds against him.

[sighs] My father said…


And you had to try and remove them.

[Phil] Another way to put it.

Well, you've certainly got obstacles.
That's a fact, Pete, me boy.

- [Peter] "Obstacles"?
- Well, take your ma.

Today or any day…

How she's on the sauce.

[Peter] "On the sauce"?

Drinking, Pete.

Boozing it up.

I guess you know
she's been half-shot all summer.

Yeah, I know.

She never used to drink.

- Oh, didn't she now?
- [Peter] No.

- She never did.
- But your pa, Pete?

[Peter] My father?

Yeah, your father.

I guess he hit the bottle pretty hard?

The booze?

Until right at the very end.

Then he hung himself.


I found him.

Cut him down.

He used to worry I wasn't kind enough.

That I was too strong.

You, too strong?


He got that wrong.

Poor kid.

Things will work out for you yet.

[Rose clears throat]


Where's Mrs. Lewis?

She's with the Indians.

What Indians?

These ones.

- [speaks Shoshone]
- You shouldn't even be here.

He won't like it.

Go now. Go.

[footsteps approaching]

[Mrs. Lewis panting] Water!

They were standing right in front
of the damn things asking,

"Do we have any hides?"

"Do we have any hides?" Are they leaving?

Yes, they've got their horse going.

[Mrs. Lewis panting] I told them
the hides are gonna be burned.


Why are the hides going to be burned?

Phil doesn't want anyone else to have 'em.

Waits till there's a big pile
and sets fire to the lot.

[chuckles] He'd blow up
if they even touched 'em.


What's she doin'?

[uneasy piano music playing]


Please, please.

Wait! Please!

Wait! Please, stop.

Please wait.



Come back.

Take the hides.

It would be my honor
if you would take them.


My husband owns the ranch.

Come back. Take them.

[man speaking Shoshone]

[uneasy music playing]

[chuckles softly]

They're so soft.

[crying softly] So deliciously soft.

So beautiful.


[breathing heavily]

[gasps, grunts]

- [cowhand 1] You all right, ma'am?
- [cowhand 2] Is she breathing?

[cowhand 1] Ma'am.

- Ma'am.
- What happened?

[cowhand 2] She just collapsed, sir.


[Rose groaning]

[Lola] Sorry, sir.

Thank you, Lola.

[Rose grunting]

[softly] Mine.

- [cowhand 1] Almost done.
- [cowhand 2] Howdy.

- [cowhand 3] Hey, boss.
- [cowhand 4] All right.

[cowhands speaking indistinctly]

[Phil] I'll be damned.


- [dramatic music playing]
- [Phil continues grunting]

[breathing heavily]

- [thud]
- [Phil grunts]

Is there something wrong, Phil?

[Phil] Wrong?

For Christ's sake.

Every goddamn hide is gone!

Oh, she really put
her foot into it this time.

You think she did it?

- She sold them?
- Bloody tootin'.

- Or maybe even gave them away.
- [Peter] Why? Why?

Why would she do that, Phil?
She knew that we needed the hides.

Because she was drunk!

Pie-eyed! She was smashed!

I'd think you'd know
from the books your pa left you

that your ma's got a… a whatchamacallit.

Alcoholic personality.
It comes under the letter A!

- You're not gonna say anything to her?
- [Phil] Say anything?

I won't say nothin'.

But sure as one good hell,
brother George is going to.

[George] Rose is not well, Phil.

She's ill.

Not well?

[breathing heavily]

It is high time
that that bozo and you got next to a few…

What do you ever call them? Facts!

She stashes alcohol all around the place,
even drinking in the stinking alley.

Look at your face in the mirror!

Is it that she could like?
Or our money? Wake the hell up!

That's enough, Phil.

Well, what is the harm?

The hides were only going to be burned.

I needed them.

I needed them.

Well, I apologize.

They were mine!

I needed them!


- Phil?
- Huh?

[Peter] Phil, I've…

I've got rawhide to finish the rope.

[Phil] You've got it?

What are you doing with rawhide?

I cut some up.

I wanted to be like you.

Please take what I've got.


That's damn kind of you, Pete.

Tell you something.

Everything's gonna be plain sailing
for you from now on in.

And you know what?

I'm gonna work.

Finish up that rope tonight.

You'll watch me do it?

[uneasy music playing]


How old were you
when you met Bronco Henry?

About the age you are now.

Was he your best friend?

Yeah… he was.

He was more than that.

Once, he saved my life.

We were way off up in the hills
shooting elk, and the weather turned mean.

Bronco kept me alive
by… lying body against body in a bedroll.

Fell off to sleep that way.



[match lights]

[uneasy music playing]

- [cowhand 1] Phil left already?
- [cowhand 2] No, he's not here.

He say he was settin' out early?

[cowhand 2] No.

[George] Good mornin'.

Have you seen your brother?

He's not had breakfast?

He's not been down at all.

[cowhand 3] Can I get
some of that coffee please?

I'll run you into Herndon
to see the doctor.

[Phil groans softly]

[George] Phil…

What happened to your hand?

Let's get your boots off.

[Phil grunts]

I'm… I'm good.

[George] I'll get the car.

[door closes]

[footsteps approaching]

[somber music playing]

[George] Let's go, Phil.

Where's the boy?


I'll get it to him.


[running thumb over comb]

[engine splutters]

I'll take this one.


[indistinct chatter in background]

[somber music playing]

[faucet squeaks]

[water running]

[bell tolling]

[indistinct chatter]

Rose would like you to join us
for Christmas, if you care to.


Thank you, George.

I'm afraid I'm mystified.

I'll know in a day or two
when the results come back.

Those last convulsions…

- Yes?
- Terrible, truly frightful.

You know what I'm thinking?



But he never handled diseased animals.

He was particular on that.

[dog barking]

[Peter] "Deliver my soul from the sword,

my darling from the power of the dog."

[uneasy music playing]

- [dog barking]
- [vehicle engine splutters]

[vehicle doors closing]

[pensive music playing]

[calm music playing]

[uneasy music playing]