The Whole Wide World (1996) - full transcript

In Texas in the 1930s, young schoolteacher Novalyne Price meets a handsome, eccentric, interesting young man named Robert Howard. He's a successful writer - of the pulp stories of 'Conan the Barbarian'; she's an aspiring one. A friendship develops into a sort of courtship. Based on a memoir by Novalyne Price. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
I met Bob Howard today.

My old sweetheart
Clyde brought him over.

It's Clyde.

Keep that joker outside.


Hi, Clyde.

Why don't you sit down?

No, I can't stay too long.

Bob and I are headed
up to Cross Plains.

May I?

Bob who?


You wanted to meet him?

Your writer friend?

Ooh, possibly.

Yeah, I want to meet him.

Why don't you bring
him up to the house,

and I'll go get another chair?

Can't you just
come out to the car?


He's scared of your grandmother.

What did you tell him?

Only the truth.

Ah, forget it I'll bring
him by another time.

Wait I'm coming.


Bob, I'd like you to
meet Novalyne Price.

Novalyne, this is Bob Howard,

also known as Robert E. Howard.

Bob's the greatest pulp
writer in the whole world.

Clyde tells me you write.

I try.

I haven't sold anything yet.

You going to
Daniel Baker College?

Mm-hmm, every other year.

I teach for my tuition money.

I was too dumb for college.

So, what kind of
yarns do you write?

I've sent a couple stories
to the confession magazines.

I think the editor meets
them at the post office

and throws them right
back in the return mail.

It's tough getting started.

How'd you get started?

I had lots of other jobs,

None of them any good.

Clerking in a store's got to be

one of the worst damn
jobs a man can have.

I decided the only way I
could keep from working

was to start writing.

That's working, isn't it?

You're damn right it is,

only I stay at home.

I'm the boss typewriter's
the employee no arguments.

Do you practice?

I read the
magazines I write for.

The pulps.

They don't pay much.

Half a cent a word mostly
so I stretch my yarns.

That's easy for me
though I'm verbose.

I got plenty of words.

Do you try to write like
the guys in the magazines?

Hell, no.

Let them try to write like me.

Bob's got a character
going now called Conan.

Conan's the damnedest
bastard there ever was.

Where can I find your stories?

Weird Tales
publishes most of them.

Novalyne would never
pick up a copy of that.

How much are you willing to bet?

What kind of
magazines do you read?

In high school I read
Smart Set, Cosmopolitan,

Saturday Evening Post, what?

H.L. Mencken's rags.

Man who looks in the mirror.

Thinks he's
shaving the face of God.

Thank you.

I've enjoyed meeting you, Bob.

I'd looked forward to
it for a long time.


I've enjoyed it too.

Keep writing.


Bye, bye, now.

Good afternoon.

As most of you know my
name is Booth Adams.

I'm the town mayor at
least for the time being.

I take a great interest
in Cross Plains High.

We've got a great school,

and we're gonna have
a great school year.

You as teachers are
responsible not only for the

education of the children
entrusted into your care,

but for their spiritual
welfare as well.

These children must
have good examples,

and teachers are their examples.

Now, that is a man, Ethel.

Oh, my, yes.

Yes, yes, yes.

Mrs. Smith
will be right with you.

Oh, look they've got pecan pie.

Sorry, Ethel, the school board

won't allow us to have pie.

That's enough, Novalyne.

Who's that?
That's Dr. Howard.

Do you know Bob Howard?

I know Robert Howard.
That's the one.

Robert Howard, the writer.

That's his daddy.

Does Bob ever come in here?

No, he doesn't.

I'll see him in the
post office sometimes.

I've been told that
he's kind of odd.

You got that right.

Well, I've met Bob
and he's very nice.

Well, I'll tell you one
thing he's not very friendly.

And the stories he writes, well

Well, what?

Well, Dr. Howard
brought one in one time.

It was filthy not something
a young lady would read.

Do you have a telephone?

It's right over there.


Yes, Howard residence please.

I'll connect you.

Hello, who is this?

This is Novalyne Price.

I'm a new teacher here in town.

Is Bob there?

Robert's in Brownwood.

Can you have him call
me when he gets in?

I'm boarding at Mrs. Hemphill's.

He can call me there.

I'll tell him goodbye.

Is he still writing?

Of course he is.

Oh, well, I'm interested
in writing too, so.

Sure you are.

Have you
heard from that young man?

You mean Robert Howard no.

Well, he's shy I hear.


I'm the one who's
supposed to be shy,

and I've called him
about a zillion times.

Every single time
his mother tells me,

"Oh, he's writing he
can't come to the phone",

or "He's out of town but
I'll tell him you called."

"I'll tell him you called."

You know, I bet she's never
told him that I called.

I bet that's it.

I'm sorry but that just
makes me so damn mad.

Oh, God, Ethel, you've
never said damn on a Sunday?

Well, Lord, no.

Think of the children.

What children?

Do you see any children in here

for me to defile with my damns?

Good, let's get going.

Morning, cousin.

Girls and I are gonna take
a little ride after church.

Would you like to join us?

Yes, yes, I would.

Oh, I'm sorry, Ethel.

There's not room for
you maybe next time.

Shouldn't go running
over to a man's house,

especially one who's not returned
any of your phone calls.

He's not interested
in you, Novalyne.

Enid, I'm only gonna ask
Bob a question that's all.

I'm not gonna ask for
his hand in marriage,

and I'm not throwing
myself at him.

How do I look?

Well, to ask a question
you look just fine.

He stepped closer as if impelled

by a powerful fascination.

Without the slightest warning

he grabbed her up in
a bearlike grasp.

She screamed a very
ungoddess like scream,

and there was a
sound of ripping silk

as with one ruthless wrench
he tore off her skirt.

Goddess, ha.

You're Muriela,
Zargheba's dancing girl.

This crescent-shaped birthmark
on your thigh proves it.

I saw it once when
Zargheba was whipping you.

A year ago I saw you and
Akbitana with that swine.

I don't forget faces
or women's figures.


Uh, hi.

I'd like to see Bob, please?


Yes, I'd like to talk to Bob.

Mama, somebody out here
wants to see Robert.

She can't, can she?

Who is it?

It's Novalyne Price.

Well, Robert's busy.



Come in how you been?

Hi, fine.

Well, come on in
and meet my folks.


This is Novalyne Price.

How do you do?

How do you do?

This is my dad.

How do you do?

Well, I guess we'll
go into the other room.

Have a seat.
Have a seat.

Thank you.

I can't.
Would you like something to?

Go ahead that's all right.

I was just gonna say that
I can't stay very long.

I've got some people
waiting for me in the car.

Well, tell them to
leave I'll take you home.

Would you?
Hell, yes.

All right.

Be right back.

Really, Novalyne.

You girls can go on.

Bob says he'll take me home.

So, what brought you over?


I wanted to ask you a question.

I'm still getting notes
and rejection slips.


Well, everybody gets them.

I still get them.

Yeah, but you sell.

Well, a man's got to
make a living some way.

I was writing when you
knocked on the door.

Didn't you hear me?

Do you always tell a
story as you're writing it?

It's a hell of
a noise, ain't it?

I find if I talk them
out, hear the words,

the yarn goes a little smoother.

Oh, so the voice
brings the words to life.

You're absolutely right.


Listen, why don't I
take you home now?

We could ride around a while.

Okay, I'd like that.

Well, let's ride.

All right.

So, how was Brownwood?

Brownwood I don't know.

I haven't been in months.

You haven't?

I called last week
your mother told me

you'd gone to Brownwood.


I could have misunderstood her.

That must be it.

I might have been working
right then and couldn't talk.

Oh, I see.

My folks are
pretty good about me

staying at home all the time.

Just pull right there.

That's it.

Every bastard in
this two-bit town

thinks I ought to
be out working.

That's hard on my family.

Ha, I say to hell
with what they think.

When I'm writing I am working.

You know that.

I get to going on a yarn,

I can't be disturbed.

You just misunderstood.

I'm sure I did.

It's a pretty night.

Yes, ma'am.

Things are in the
sear and yellow leaf.

That's a beautiful harvest moon.

I suppose
you're responsible for it.

By all means I designed
that specially for you.

Oh, you knew I was coming over.

You're damn right I did.

I was going along with old Conan

and suddenly you popped
out of the typewriter.

I said to myself, "Robert
Howard, you big, ugly lummox,

"there's a girl who's gonna
appreciate your moonlight."

I think you're a poet.

Well, girl, there's
not many women

that can appreciate
a thing like that.

I do.

Well, you're one in a million.

One in a million.

Why don't you tell me
about your character, Conan?


Conan is the damnedest
bastard there ever was.

He's got a long black mane
of hair, crystal blue eyes.

He's a fighter.

Born on a battlefield.

To him combat's a way of life.

It's all he's ever known,

all he ever wants to know.

He's no soldier who
was taught to fight.

To him fighting is an instinct.

It's a part of him,

like his legs, his arms,

his chest, his bull neck.

And believe me he don't
take it from nobody.

He'll fight man,
beast, devil, or god,

and when those women feel those

tree-trunk firm arms
around their waist,

well, they melt like
butter on a hot skillet.

Aw, hell.

I've been blabbing
all night long.

Hey, girl, why don't
you tell me to shut up?

Let you talk for a while.

Tell me about teaching school.

Those kids ever give
you any trouble?


Not if they know
what's good for them.

I don't take it from nobody

man, beast, devil, or student.

I'll bet you don't.

Novalyne, I want to
ask you a question.

If it's none of my business,

you tell me pretty damn quick.

Don't you worry I will.

I want to know
about you and Clyde.

I was wondering if...

Well, you might still be
carrying a torch for him.

Clyde happens to be married,

in case you haven't heard.

He's a good friend of mine,

and he always will
be but that's all.

You're not heartbroken?

I've got a strong heart, Bob.

Well, good.

Now that's settled how
about tomorrow night?

Well, I don't have a
date for tomorrow night.

Well, girl, you've got one now.

I'll be by about 7:00.


About that moon I'll
order another one for you.

Okay, sure do appreciate them.


Your publisher
called from New York

while you were out
with that girl.

What did he say?

He wanted to know how
your story was going

and if you were going
to meet his deadline.

Did you say I would?

Well, I told him he was
foolish to think otherwise.

You've never missed a deadline.

That's right.

Hang on.

They're thinking of using it

for the February cover story.

As well they should.

Oh, son, I hope I
did the right thing.

Mr. Wright wanted to
know if it was okay

to give out your address
to a Mr. Lovecraft?

He said that he was
a big fan of yours

and wanted to write you.

H.P. Lovecraft?

Yes, I believe
that was his name.

The gentleman was
from Rhode Island.

Well, Jesus, yes.

Did you say yes?

Yes, of course I said yes.

Hey, you'd better hurry
up he'll be here any second.

Calm down.

He can wait.

A girl has to look her
best on a first date.

He's here.

How do I look?

Just beautiful.


Have a good time.
I will, I hope.

Oh, he's fine.

He's working hard as usual.

Oh, he's a great doctor.
Pardon me.

Well, I didn't know.

I at least thought you'd
have on a coat or a tie.

Well, I got on a clean
white shirt by God.

I brought this for you.

You said you wanted to
read some of my stuff.

I brought this.

It's called The Devil in Iron.

Thank you I sure
do want to read it.

Well, okay, there it is.

I'm sorry I didn't
get all dressed up.

I didn't think we'd go
to a show or anything.

I just thought we'd
drive around a while,

and I'd shoot my
mouth off some more.

If there's one
thing I'm good at,

that's driving and blabbing.

When I got a pretty
girl with me,

it makes it that much better.

What's that story about
the one that you gave me?

The Devil in Iron.


Well, what do
you think it's about?

I don't know a
devil made of iron.


Evil lord baits a trap for
Conan on this desolate island.

Guess what the bait is.

A pretty girl.

You read this yarn before, girl?

No, swear I didn't.

Conan, he finds
this fantastic city

which has been mysteriously
rebuilt overnight.

Now, he creeps in
No, don't tell me.

I want to read it.

It sounds exciting.

Excitement's my specialty.

Your specialty, huh?

Uh-huh, that's right

excitement and adventure.

That's what the readers want.

That's what I give them.

What kind of stories
you been writing lately

adventure, romance,
teaching school?

I write down conversations

that I hear in my
journal for practice.

Sometimes I try a confession.

You got a lot to confess?

It depends whether I
write about what I do

or what I think about doing.

No luck, though it still
all gets sent back.

Thank you.

What was your last one about?

It's a little hard to explain.

It was called I Gave
My Daughter Movie Fame.

What did you say?

It's for the confessions.

Aren't those stories
a little bizarre?

What's it called?

I Gave My Daughter Movie Fame.

Really, what's it about.

I'm not gonna tell you
until you stop laughing at me.

A woman has an illegitimate
child a daughter.

The child is
adopted by her aunt,

but the mother
can't give her up,

so she keeps helping
her in secret and...


Eventually she helps
her become a movie star

and very famous.

Stop laughing.

It's not that silly, is it?

Don't pay any attention to me.

I don't know a thing about
illegitimate daughters

or movie fame.

Well, it seemed like
a good idea at the time.

Well, I haven't seen
any giant snakes

or big-busted naked
women frolicking

through the West
Texas hills lately.

Oh, but I have.

You look more closely next time.

I try to write about

people with ordinary
problems, real people.

No, that's where
we're different.

I write about another
age, another way of life.

Man struggling to survive
that's my formula.

Well, you know
those tiny farmhouses

we passed on the way out?

Those are the people
I wanna write about.

Not me.

I can't write about men
who toil along on a farm,

get drunk, beat up a wife
who can't fight back.

Uh-huh, I can't write
about hate like that.

Well, just 'cause you're poor

and you work hard doesn't
mean you're hateful.

You've lived a sheltered life.

You don't know these
people out here I do.

Well, your stories sell,

so people must wanna
read about muscle men

who wrestle monsters and
girls in skimpy dresses

who don't do a darned thing
but sit around and watch.

You stick with me, girl,

I'll teach you about
writing and men.

Although I was completely

disappointed by his appearance,

there was something
appealing about him.

Maybe it was the way
he laughed at my story.

He's asked me to go to the
picture show this Sunday.

I think I might go.

How's my best gal?

You ready to go?

You look great.

Well, this fool hat
kind of bothers me.

Ain't the kind of hat
I ought to be wearing.

Why not?

Well, you take those hats
the Mexicans wear sombreros.

There's a hat.

Keeps the sun off real good.


Well, are you ready?

You look mighty pretty today.

I like that perfume
you're wearing.

Thank you, sir.

Oh, and I hope you'll have your

picture made for
me in that suit.

You mean with this hat on?
Yes, with that hat on.

You look very handsome.

I got a weak chin you see
how it recedes into my neck?

You do not.
Yes, I do.

My friend, Truett, he's
got a really weak chin.

One little tap he'd be out cold.

Mine's weak but it would take

a hell of a blow
to knock me out.

Well, do you know many
people in Brownwood?

Well, I know a few.

I know some girls.

You do?

Name one I might know her.

I know this girl foreign
gal Jasmina Divine.

Never heard
of her name someone else.

I don't know.

Let me see.

Oh, I know most the beautiful
girl I've ever seen.


Miss Dolores of
the House of Dalton.

Yeah, she rings a bell.

Listen old Clyde and I
were in Woolworth's shopping.

We saw this stunning girl.

Blonde hair, sparkling
eyes, flawless skin it was

Dolores Dalton.
That's right.

I just dropped dead right
there in the aisle, thump.

She walked like a queen.

Shoulders straight,

golden hair bouncing
down her back.

Yeah, I've heard she was pretty.

The most beautiful
girl I've ever seen.

Beautiful big bosoms.

This girl she was
the most beautiful.

Hey, girl.

Hey, hell, you be
careful with that.

That thing is loaded.

Give me that.
No. No.

Why do you have a gun, Bob?

Let go.

You never know who you'll
run into around here.

Now give it here.

I've been around guns before.

I have.

You carry it all the time?

Hell, yes.

You think it's just for Sundays?

Look here.

See how dressed up I am?

I look like I got a
lot of money, right?

Well, you look like a
million but I don't think

Suppose we got a flat

and I get out and fix it.

Some half-baked
gunman drives by.

I'd gotta be ready
to shoot first.

Oh, I got you.

This is a dangerous
part of Texas.

Those outlaws and
vagrants they're all here.

Yeah, I've got a gun.

You do?


You got it with you?

No, I don't have it with me.

Well, good I'd hate to try
and kiss you and get shot.

Novalyne, look.

Only in Texas do you ever
see a sunset like that.

Girl, I hope you appreciate

everything I've
done for you today.

Now, that's a beautiful
sunset if I do say so myself.

That crazy guy?
He is not crazy.

He's a writer.

Enid, you're an English teacher
you should respect that.

Not what he writes.

I wouldn't touch one of
those trash magazines.

He uses words beautifully.

He read me one of his
poems the other day.

It was so amazing.

I can't believe how he can


Look at that guy
across the street.

What on earth is he doing?

Novalyne, come here
get a look at this.

Come on.

Now, isn't that the strangest
thing you ever did see?

What do you suppose he's doing?

I guess he thinks he's Max
Schmeling or something.


Jesus, girl, I
almost walloped you.

Yeah, you sure did.

Why ain't you teaching school?

I am I'm on my lunch break.

I just thought I'd say hi.

You almost got a broken
nose for your trouble.

Yes, I did.

What were you doing just now
with that punching thing?

I got this boxing yarn

I been thinking about
going in my head.

Come with me I wanna
show you something.

Come on.

So this is your
stomping ground, huh?

For now.

How's that after-school
play coming along?

Good, we're gonna
perform it real soon.

Do you wanna come see it?

Maybe, if I'm not too busy.

Still more a fool I shall appear

by the time I linger here.

With one fool's
head I came to woo,

but I go away with
two, sweet adieu.

I'll keep my oath
patiently to bear my wroth.

Very nice.
Thank you.

You ever directed
any Shakespeare?

We do a couple scenes in class,

but he's a little bit heavy
for this neck of the woods.

You know, when I read his plays,

I can't see that men have
changed much since the 1500s.

Men still hate other men.

Well, in the
civilization we live in,

men become more depraved
and demonic all the time.

Oh, it's not that bad.

Girl, when they discovered
oil in Cross Plains,

you wouldn't believe the
scum that moved in here.

Novalyne, I...
Thieves, drunkards,

wife-beaters, sex deviants

not a decent man among them.

What about your father?

He's a good man, isn't he?

You're damn right he is.

He's the only one I know.
What about your friend Clyde

and your other friend Truett?

Well, you don't
stick to the subject.

You bring up a bunch
of irrelevant nonsense

to keep yourself from
seeing the truth.

Maggots of corruption
are all around you.

Hospitals and schools.

Hospitals and schools.

They heal, they
teach you use them,

but you don't give
society credit for them?

We men made a hell of a mistake

when we sent women to college
and gave you the vote.

You just watch it.

See you Friday.

Now that's beauty
that's the kind of beauty

my ancestors love.


do you think it's
possible for a woman

to love just one man forever?

I don't know, Bob.

But you know this is
the first time I've ever

talked about love in the
middle of a field

during a thunderstorm.

Whew, I'm in the mood
to write a love story.

We're here.

Hey, mama.
Oh, baby.

This is Bob Howard.

Bob's the writer I've
been telling you about.

Mama, Mammy.

Howdy, Mammy, nice to meet you.

You too, Bob.

Nice to meet you,
too, Mrs. Price.

Welcome, Bob.

Take a seat.
Thank you.

I understand you've
been lending a hand

with Novalyne's writing hopes.

Well, I been holding it out,

but so far she ain't
took hold of it.

That is not true.

I listen to every
word you say, Bob.

Well, your ears must
be keeping it a secret,

'cause your hands ain't
been typing it out.

I think Novalyne should teach.

That's what she's good at.

Well, maybe I'll do both.

Well, it don't work that way.

Hey, something
smells good in here.

Good deeds in this house
do not go unrewarded.


Thank you for bringing
Novalyne home, Bob.

Hello, honey how you
doing you feel alright?

Hi, my throat's a little sore.

Well, goddamn if you just
stayed home like I told you,

you'd be feeling fine now.

When will you be up and around?

By Saturday I hope.

And what happens then?

Mayor Adams is throwing
a Christmas party,

and, Bob, I want
you to come with me.

I'm sorry I can't go.

Why not?

I don't have time
for some tea drinking,

cookie pushing party.

That's not
what it is, you bastard.

A bastard.

You calling me a bastard after
everything I done for you.

Don't I wear a tie and
that goddamn full hat

every time we go out.

Bob, you're gonna have to
learn how to mix with people.

You can't just...
If I listened to you

my writing would go to hell.

It would not.

Sure it would
you're not a writer.

If I wrote like you ill
be wasting my damn time.

Scribbling down conversations
of every Tod, Dick

and jackass I met.

That ain't writing
that's copying.

I still want you to go with me.

Aw, Christ I'll see those
sons of bitches in hell

before I make one
of their parties.

You wanna learn to be a writer

I'll show you what it takes.

Mama, the car won't start.

Goddamn bastard.

Dear Novalyne,

the French have one gift

the ability to gild decay

and change the
maggots of corruption

to the hummingbirds of poetry

as demonstrated by this volume.

Hey, what you got there?

It's a book.

Bob sent it to me.

Next time I see him
I'm going to kill him.

You needed to act
like whores I swear it.

Why you sacrilegious
little hussy.

Do you not fear God's craw?

Is there no honesty anywhere?

And she danced
just like the spin

of a desert whirlwind,

like the leaping of
a quenchless flame.

Her white feet spurned
the blood-stained deck.

Sweat beaded the forehead
of the man facing her,

and his eyes were
like burning coal.

Smite as he would, he
could not break past

nor beat down her guard.

She stepped back
to draw him out,

felt her thighs lock
in an iron grip.

His breath came in gusty gulps.


You have a phone call.

Hi, it's me.

Novalyne, are you back?

No, I'm still at home.

Merry Christmas, by the way.

Merry Christmas to you too.

Are you still mad at me?

Yes, but not as much.

Hey, Bob, the
Pierre Louis book...

What are you doing now?

Well, not much.

I'm coming over.

Oh, Bob, you don't have to.

Now, you read that book.

No, that book is horrendous.

I can't imagine the
fool who wrote it.

A fool?

My Conan yarns are full of sex.

They are?

Hell, yeah.

That's what he did.

Drinking, whoring, fighting

what else is there
to do in life?

I'm sorry, but I don't
see anything sexy

about a naked woman dancing
around a pirate ship.

You don't?

Well, for God's sakes

I mean she was dancing
the mating dance.

I mean what could be
more sexy than that?

God I thought she
was crazy like you.

Then what do you think
would make a sexy story?

Naked women aren't sexy
what is, naked men?

I'd look the other way.

You probably would.

A few years ago,

I had a hard time
selling sex yarns.

Now I got to work double time

just to keep up with the market.

Before long there won't
be nothing held back.

Sex will infest everything
books, radio, newspapers.


Hell, yes.

That's the way it
was when Rome fell.

Rape and murder took
place on the stage.

Damn people loved it.

I'm sorry I can't
come in my mother's...

Expecting her medicine I know.

Here's another
Christmas present.

Thank you.
I hope you don't

stick this one under the house.

I walked around the
Santa Anna mountains

a few days ago, beautiful.

I believe that we
carry around the lives

of our former ancestors
deep in our memories.

You ever read something in
history and felt you knew it?


Maybe something bet
involving Indians?

Oh, yeah I had this
vision of an Indian girl

gazing out over the
prairie all the time.

Well, there you go.

That's an ancestral memory.

I don't understand
why would I have

ancestral memories about Indians

if there are such things?

Remember during the
Christmas holidays

my mother saw you shopping.

She asked me if you
had any Indian blood,

maybe as much as half Indian?

I wonder why she'd think that.

It's the shape of your face.

Do you know how much
Indian blood you have?

None that I know of.

I bet you got a drop or two.

We are human because our
ancestors were human.

That's one thing that persuades
me the bible was right.

I can imagine a lot of things,

but I can't imagine
man was once a monkey.

Hey, have you heard from
that writer friend of yours


I did get something
in the pouch.

Read down in the middle there.

What's it say there, Novalyne?

He says that you are the
modern master of fantasy.


A letter like that makes
it worthwhile to be a writer.

Yeah, I see it does.

The next best thing
to a Texas sunset

is a Texas rain shower.

One of the things life
does have to offer

a simple thing but a good thing.


If you ask me you
spend too much time

getting them kids ready.

You look worn out.
I'll be alright.

Well, hell I've got
to go out to Temple

at the end of the week
for my mother's operation.

I don't need another
sick girl around.

So soon when are
you gonna be back?

I'll stay as long as I have to.

Thanks for the time
you've given me, Novalyne.

I've enjoyed

every minute with
you knowing you.

Well, I look forward
to having you back.

Come on wake up.

Come on hard head wake up.

Dr. Howard.

How's Mrs. Howard?

Yep, she's holding her own.

Robert will be alright now.

Has he been sick too?
No, no he hadn't.

You really like
my son, don't you?


But Bob he...

Robert's real close
to his mother.

We're all real
close to our mothers.

But we manage to get along
without them eventually.

We do.

Robert's a stranger
to me, Miss Price.

He's in his own little
world most of the time.

I'm not privy to it unlike you.

This one went smooth as silk.

Hell, I can write shoot-em ups.

I got a hankering to
write something bigger.

Yeah, a novel, maybe.

Hey, girl.

Let me walk ahead here.


I got to keep an eye
out for rattlesnakes.


Don't worry I can
handle reptiles,

especially giant
diamond-back rattlers,

two-foot fangs
dripping with poison.

Oh, yes.

That is a, oh.

Ah, just joking that's all.

That's enough.

Robert E., you lead
on and keep quiet.

It's beautiful.

You can see the whole
world from up here.

And others as well.

There you are.

Why don't you tell
me about that novel?

Set in Texas.

It's gonna be about the
hardships of the early pioneers,

and their conflict
with the Indians

who were trying to save
the land they loved.

I figure it'll be
the best damn book

ever written about
frontier life.

It sounds fascinating.

I know what I can do.

No one can write about
this country like I can.

I'll be nicer to the
Indians in this novel.

Thank you.

I'll have this beautiful,

fully-dressed Indian girl.

The hero will fall
in love with her.

He'll be this morose,
ungainly misfit among men.

Why does he have to be a misfit?

Why can't he be
handsome and kind?

You're still a dreamer, girl.

He's got to be handsome, huh?

Well, to hell with it.

He'll be the most
handsome man in the west,

with the fastest gun
boom, boom, boom.

Christ Almighty slow down, girl.

If you were Mojave I'd have to
shoot you for wasting water.

You'd shoot your
best girl for that?

I can't help it that's
the law of the desert.

I swear why do
I go out with you?

You got me there.

If I was you I'd
a high-tailed it

away from me a long time ago.

You don't give
yourself enough credit.

You have some
wonderful qualities.

Is that so?

Like what?


your thoughtfulness,

your loyalty,

your intelligence,



I could go on and on.

If you don't think a woman

is attracted to that
you're mistaken.

That's what I see in you.

Well, I...

I appreciate it, girl.

Don't be fooled.

I'm the kind of man
that needs to be free.

I can't be tied down.

No, the road I
walk I walk alone.

It's funny how women are attracted
to that quality as well.

Hi, I'm here to
pick up a package.

The name's Truett Vinson.


Oh, yeah here it is.

Thank you, sir.

Excuse me.


Did you say your
name was Truett Vinson?

Yes, ma'am.

Well, hi, I'm Novalyne Price.

I believe we have
a mutual friend.

Oh, who's that?
Bob Howard.

Bob, really.

How do you know Bob?

Well, I teach in Cross Plains.

We're friends.

So do you see a lot of Bob
up there in Cross Plains?

Off and on whenever he has time.

But you two weren't
serious or anything?

Oh, no, no.

He's made it very
clear to me many times

that he is not
the marrying kind.

He has to be free.

The road he walks...
He walks alone.


That's what he says,
alright, isn't it?

How often did you
go to the movies?

Every now and then.

You think Bob will
ever go by himself?

Only if the picture was
some wild action movie

with lots of sword-fighting
and stuff like that you know?

Who is it?

It ain't no tramp.


What are you doing here?

I thought you might
like to take a ride.

It's 5:30
in the morning.

I know.

Come on, get dressed I got
something special to show you

something you might appreciate.

Come on.

Hold on.

So, how's your
summer been going?


We had some rain
about a week ago.

Yeah, the farmers
sure needed it.

I met Truett
Vinson this weekend.

Oh, yeah, how's
he getting along?


You know, he and Clyde
work for the same company.

Poor fool's a bookkeeper.

Pushing papers all day long

that's a job you'd
never catch me doing.

When's the last time the
three of you were together?

Long time.

Too long I ought to give
them iron heads a call,

see if they don't wanna
go out on the prowl.

What exactly do you
do out on a prowl?

Drink beer and talk about girls.

Lie about them is more like it.

Don't you talk about
any serious subjects?

That is serious.

Sure we do.

We argue plenty.

I wanna wring Clyde's neck
sometimes he makes me so mad.

What do you argue about?

You ever read The
Vicar of Wakefield?

Did you like it?
Yes, I did.

Well, that's too damn bad.

I thought it was the
sorriest book I ever read.

I wonder what you'd do if
a student told you that.

If he told me I didn't know
what I was talking about?


it depends on his attitude.

The vicar was a
lousy old bastard.

The villain seduced and
raped his daughters,

and the old fool
took it piously.

No, he had a sweet
and generous nature.

He forgave and then he
repented his mistakes.

You know I thought
you'd say that.

They offer you a
spoonful of manure,

and you gulp it on down.

I know exactly

what you'd if a kid disagreed.

You'd bawl him out.

If he was being rude, I would,

but if we were just
talking about something...

Sure you would.

It's thanks to teachers like
you that there's no room

for individual thought
in schools today.

Oh, really?

Oh, really?

Well, yeah, that's right.

Thanks indeed thank God.

If it wasn't for
teachers like me,

there would be more
individuals like you

socially inept,
hating the world,

prattling off pompous ideas

that nobody wants to
hear in the first place.

Bob Howard, if you do
not take some initiative,

you are gonna end up
a miserable old man

sitting at home with
no friends and no life.

And another thing.

Don't you ever, ever imply

that I do not know how to teach,

because then you really
are talking about something

that you know nothing about.

Now, why don't you run on home?

Your mama's waiting for you.


Novalyne, get in the car.

Get in the goddamn car.


Hell, come on,
girl, get in here.

Go away.

I'll keep chasing
you all day long.

Now, get in the damn,
get in the goddamn car.

Ugh, men.

All men can go to hell.

We are.

Every damn one of us.

Guess who came by
my house this morning?

I don't know who?

He wants me to go down
to New Mexico with him.

Do you think Bob
knows we're dating?

Mm, yeah, he does now.


Yeah, I mentioned to him

that we met at the post office,

and we'd been to the
movies a couple times.

What happened was he mad?

No, I don't think so.

Well, Truett, either
he was or he wasn't.

Well, he kind of ignored me.

He didn't say a word.

He didn't seem mad.

He asked me if I'd read
The Vicar of Wakefield.

Dear Novalyne,
the weather is good.

The beer is lousy.

Hoping you are the same, Bob.

Dear Bob, summer's flying by

as it always seems to do.

Where have you been?

I hope you're not
still mad at me.

If so, I apologize.

Let me know the next time
you'll be coming down,

hopefully at a reasonable hour.

Love, Novalyne.

Dear Novalyne,

thank you for your
invitation to call,

but you honestly can't expect me

to enjoy ridicule
and contempt so much

that I'd come back
for another dose.

You understand me I think,

but I'll make myself clear.

You and Truett haven't
played fair with me,

concealing the fact that
you were going together.

Both of you had plenty of
opportunities to tell me,

but instead you
made a secret of it,

and no doubt laughed
at me because of it.

Taking advantage of a
friend's trust to try

and make a fool of him
seems a poor triumph,

Robert E. Howard.
Robert E. Howard.

Obviously, I made a grave error

in befriending a pathetic
man like yourself,

and I now consider
my association

with you over and finalized.

My only regret is the time
wasted spent in your company.

Sincerely, Novalyne Price.

Well, say something.

Seemed like such a nice man.

It's a shame he won't
be coming over any more.

Mama, what do you think?

You said it now tear it up.

Why after that hateful letter,

I should tell him to go to hell.

Don't end the
friendship, Novalyne.

He's been a good friend.

Why don't you write
another letter?

Say what you really wanna say.

Dear Bob,

although you leave
nothing for me to say,

being a woman I'll
say something anyway.

During the time I went with you,

I realized perfectly how
you felt about women.

Freedom was the first
law you recognized.

Strange as it may seem,
I too demand my freedom.

I didn't think you'd resort
to middle-class melodrama,

and I can't believe that
you really in your heart

feel that we've betrayed you.

In my last letter,
I was of the opinion

that we were still friends,
and invited you to call,

assuming that our
friendship would continue

as it had in the past.

I apologize for having
made that mistake.

Please know that you will
always have my sincere wishes

for your continued
success and happiness.

Sincerely, Novalyne Price.

Mr. Howard called.

Dr. Howard?

No, Robert Howard.

What'd he say?

He said he'd be over tonight.

Hm, did he want me to
call him back and confirm?

No, ma'am.

Well, I am gonna
call Mr. Howard

and tell him where he
can really go tonight.


I am.

Believe me straight to hell.


Hi, Bob, how you doing?


Everything's fine.

So, what do you think of
my buttermilk catcher?

You remember that Kipling
yarn you told me about?


What was it that girl said?

She said kissing a
man without a mustache

was like eating
eggs without salt.

You like your eggs
with salt, don't you?

No, I'll have mine plain.

How are things at home?

Not good.

My mother's getting
weaker by the day.

I can never repay her for
all she's done for me.

Well, she's not
expecting to be repaid.

She believed in my
writing from the beginning.

She had faith.

You made her very proud, Bob,

but now you've got to
lead your own life.

I lead my own life.

Don't think for
a second I don't.

I'm thirsty let's go into town.

I made some lemonade.

I want something
more substantial.

You got something better to do?

Last month I sold yarns
to Action Stories,

Top Notch, and Weird Tales.

I sold a grand old Conan
yarn to Mr. Wright.

I think it's the best
work I ever done.

Conan is after this
hardheaded warrior woman,

a real spitfire of a girl.

They find a city that's
inhabited by two tribes.

One's ruled by an
evil sorceress.

She drains the youth
from young, nubile women

Good heavens.

Which the tribe sacrifices

in an orgy-like ceremony,

stripped naked, chained
to a bloody altar.

I would like to go home now.

Orgies and chained
naked women my God, Bob.

Aw, hell, you pay too much
attention to what people think.

If they don't feed you or
put clothes on your back,

then what they think
ain't worth a damn.

That's right I care.

I care what those people think.

Why did you come here tonight?

Huh, why?

Miss Price, imagine
meeting you here.

Hey, how about it nice?

Hey, girl.
Oh, God.

Jesus, girl, wait up.

What are you in
such a hurry for?

I have to be somewhere.
Yes, he does.

Well, I'll walk you home.

Heard you and Truett are
saving lives these days.


Yeah, I heard you took
some people to the hospital

after they'd been
in an accident.

Yeah, that's true.

Good heavens.

I also hear you
took off your jacket

so nobody would bleed on it.

It was my new
white pigskin jacket.

I didn't wanna ruin it.

Well, I've always said we're
really an advancing society

when we're so
willing to save lives

we don't want to endanger
our white pigskin jacket.

You make me sound
like a monster.

I am not a mean person.

I just didn't want somebody
who wasn't really badly hurt

bleeding all over my new
white pigskin jacket.

If he was bleeding he was hurt.

Oh, shut up, Bob, just shut up.

Hello, Hemphill residence.

Miss Price, please.


Oh, it's you I didn't
recognize your voice.

Hi, how've you been?

Good, good.

Hey, would you like
to see a show tonight?

Well, I've got an awful
lot of work to do tonight.

Come on I just took my suit out.

I'm all dressed up.

Have you shaved that mustache?


I need you in here.

How's my mama?

Okay, all right.

Here we go.

Here we go.

Come on.

Come on.

Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Okay, I'm setting you down now.


Thank you.
All right.

Don't you run away.

I'm cold.


Let's get this wet thing off.


All right, mama,
let me get this.

Arms up.

There you go.

Okay, now, you can go
ahead and lean back.

Here you go.
Here you go.

Here you go.
Here you are.

Thank you.
There you are.

Are you going out with that
little Indian girl tonight?

No, what and leave my best gal?

I don't wanna
spoil your evening.

You ain't spoiling it.

Where our life this forever,

you'd only too little to give.

But here tonight we sever

for life loves life to live.

And the higher a man may
travel the lower may he fall.

And the scheme
that I must unravel

it was never meant for all.

I'm gonna miss you, son.

I'm gonna miss you most of all.

You ain't going nowhere.

Will you stay with me
until your father gets home?

And bring that girl
around the house sometime.

I'd like to meet her again.


So you made it, huh?

I'm sorry.

Something came up.

We're gonna miss our show.

That's all right.

We could drive around
for a while if you want.

Okay, that'll be good.

So, what you been up to?

Same old thing.

My students have been a
little restless lately.

Oh, yeah?


when you're young
you feel the lust

for adventure buried
in your subconscious.

You don't want to be bothered

with dreary things like school.

I see.

How's your mother?

Not well at all.

I can't write

or do anything

except take care of her.

What do you mean
you can't write?

My mother requires
my constant care.

She has these
terrible night sweats.

I changed her gown
three times last night.

That's not your job.

Aw, damn it, you do
what needs to be done.

I can't let her lay there
wet and uncomfortable.

Why don't you hire a nurse?

You've got the money.

You are not required...
No, you can't...

To give up your life.
Listen to me.

I'm required to give up anything

and do whatever
needs to be done.

Not your work.

Not your livelihood, Bob.

What's work?

A man can do any kind of work.

Work ain't worth a damn

unless you do it for
somebody you love.

I'm losing her damn
it I know that.

I want a woman to love,
a woman to believe in me.

Is that so much to ask?

No, it's not.

It's not.

And I'm sure you'll find one.

You're an extraordinary man.

If you don't love me, say so.

I know you loved me once.

I believe in you, Bob, I do.

I do.

And do you love Truett?

If it's Truett you love, say so.

Say it, goddamn you.

Say it.

I don't love anyone.

I don't love anyone at all.

I don't love anyone.

I did love you but
you weren't ready.

You told me so yourself.

You said, "I can't
be tied down."

You said so yourself.
Well, I didn't know

what I was talking about.

I know but there's
other reasons too.

We have all these differences
and they're gone be there.

But differences can
be overcome, can't they?


Yeah, they can.

Tell me that you'll
change your attitude.

Tell me that you'll get
out once in a while,

and that you'll try to
let go of your mother.

Tell me that now.

Bob, tell me that now.

I'm going to Louisiana
State this summer.

I've been accepted.

You made good with your writing,

and I'm gonna make good
with something too.

I'm gonna teach.


You dedicate yourself to

kids in some small,
apathetic town

what will you get out of it?

Not even a thank you.

I'm not doing it to be thanked.

Well, you got a great cause.

To make life worth
living a man or a woman

you got to have a great
love or a great cause.

I have neither.

Don't say that that's not true.

That's a colorful
sweater you got there.

It's an LSU sweater.

The other teachers gave it to me

so I'd be ready
when I got there.

Hell, I know you'll be ready.

Question is will they be
ready for a spitfire like you?

I'm sure they've seen
their share of spitfires.

I don't know about that.

Texas spitfires and
Louisiana spitfires

are two entirely
different breeds.


Come on get in I'll
take you for a drive.

Suppose you were a
lonely, beautiful girl

who came out here to
take in the sunset.

While you were watching it

a handsome Indian brave stepped
out of them trees there.

Now, what you do about it

would be the yarn
that you'd write.

See I can imagine the sunset,

and I can see the Indian brave,

but that's as far as I go.

That's where the story ends.

Why stop when it
just gets interesting?

Because the next thing you know,

I'd be telling him to
wash off the war paint

and get a good suit of clothes

and accompany me
to Sunday School.

Something tells me he just
wouldn't wanna do that.

When I saw that house,

I thought about the
yarns that you write.

Your dream.

The dream that brought you
over to my house that day.


Thanks for bringing me out here,

and thanks for telling me
what's wrong with my stories.

I mean that.

Well, you're welcome.

It's only my opinion you
don't have to listen to it

if you don't want to.

I'd be a fool not
to listen to the

greatest pulp writer in
the whole wide world,

Robert E. Howard.

Well, that you would by God.

That you would.

Let's ride.

Now, you be sure to write.

You know my address
old lock box 313.

I'll write as soon
as I get settled.

Don't you get into any trouble

with those wild ideas of yours.

You run into any of that voodoo,

you make sure you
find a Catholic,

hold up a cross say
a prayer for you.

Okay, I will.

Hey, girl.

Take a look at that
sunset I ordered for you.

I sure do appreciate it.

That morning
the attending physician,

Dr. Dill had told us that Mrs.
Howard would never recover.

Robert looked at me,

and he went to his room
and he began to type.

A minute later our
cleaning lady saw him

walk through the
back door to his car.

She said he raised his
arms and began praying,

then she heard a shot

and saw him slumped
over the steering wheel.

I carried my boy
back into the house.

He lived for eight hours.

His mother passed
away the next day.

Thank you for the time you
gave my son, Miss Price.

I know how much
he cared for you.

Five-minute stop, folks.

You've been doing
a lot of crying.

Who you crying for?

A friend.

Gone, is he?

Passed on?


He took his own life.

That's tough.

He was a writer.

He made his living
writing stories.

Could spin a yarn, could he?

That's what he called them.

What's your name, dear?

Novalyne Price.

Let me ask you
something, Novalyne.

Are you glad you had
the chance to know him?

And even though you won't
see him for a while,

is he still your friend?


Yeah, he sure is.

Novalyne, look.

It's gonna be a
beautiful sunrise.