The Landlady by Roald Dahl
INT. DETECTIVE'S OFFICE. SUBURBAN LOS ANGELES. DAY.
CLOSE UP - DETECTIVE STERLING'S FACE:
DETECTIVE GEORGE STERLING, 40s, is in a low lit office,
smoking a cigar and looking out of a window. Slats from the
Venetian blind cast shadows across his thoughtful face. It
is obvious he's been awake for a long time due to his
unwashed appearance and the stubble on his chin.
A jazz record can be heard to be playing softly in the
A TELEPHONE BEGINS TO RING SHRILLY, breaking Sterling's
repose, but not startling him.
That'll be Weaver's girl.
CUT TO A WIDE SHOT. LOW ANGLE:
On the walls is it clear to see several awards and
accolades. STERLING is an influential man.
POLICE OFFICER JACK GIBB, 27 is standing next to STERLING'S
desk. He's younger and less jaded than STERLING with a
playful look in his eye.
You gonna answer it, boss?
PAN TOWARDS THE RINGING TELEPHONE:
(Looking at the phone)
And tell her what? We're runnin' on
empty? He's just disappeared? I
don't know about you, Gibb, but I'm
not ready to ruin my reputation
Sterling walks slowly towards the desk, casually sitting
So, what you found out? Anything
Like you said boss, runnin' on
empty. We've been workin' flat out
lookin' for Weaver. So far,
We'll find him. That rascal ain't
ruining my career, that's for sure.
THe telephone ringing fades out.
EXT. TRAIN STATION. SUBURBAN LOS ANGELES. NIGHT.
BILLY WEAVER, 23, is in a dark train station. Back lit by
the dim lighting revealing his silhouette. His trilby hat
obscures his face and his trench coat gives the appearance
that it is cold. It is quiet, apart from the sound of the
wind. A large clock above his head reveals that it is 9pm.
PAN SHOT OF BILLY'S GAZE INTO THE DARKNESS:
Betty, 21, steps out of the shadows, beautiful and
glamorous. Her raven hair is immaculate, and her bright red
lipstick is in stark contrast to the cold, dark setting. She
is softly spoken and despite the cold, is not wearing a
Billy starts slightly and moves into the glow of a street
lamp. His young, attractive face and skinny frame are
Didn't see you there, miss. Say,
should you be out at this time, all
I can take care of myself, Mr...
Weaver. Billy Weaver.
So, Billy Weaver, what are you
doing in a place like this?
Me? Just looking for somewhere to
stay. I'm here on business.
You happen to know of anywhere
I know of just the place.
She laughs again, tinkling and light.
The Bell and Broadway. It's not
far, if you walk fast. Do you have
CLOSE UP OF BILLY'S HANDS IN HIS POCKET:
Billy searches for his map, pulling out a creased up paper
and bits of change.
Damn it, I must have left it on the
MEDIUM CLOSE UP:
That's OK. You'll find it. Just
follow the road as far as it goes,
then turn right.
PULL FOCUS AS BETTY RETREATS BACK INTO THE SHADOWS.
EXTREME WIDE SHOT:
Reveals that Billy is once again alone.
(Quietly, to himself)
What the hell is this place?
EXT. STREET. SUBURBAN LOS ANGELES. NIGHT.
Billy begins to walk down the dark street, a perplexed
expression on his face.
CUT TO TRACKING CRANE SHOT, BEHIND BILLY:
The street is empty and isolated, lined with empty bars. It
is clear that they were once grand, yet now they look grotty
and it is obvious they are not looked after.
Rain can be seen beginning to come down in the light from
the street lamps.
A sudden gust of wind blows a door from one of the old bars
CUT TO THE DOOR OF THE BAR. MID SHOT:
Raucous, echoing laughter can be heard, the lights flicker
for a second, then all is silent once more.
Billy is unaware of this.
TRACKING CRANE SHOT:
Billy continues walking down the lonely street.
INT. DETECTIVE'S OFFICE. SUBURBAN LOS ANGELES. DAY.
STERLING is looking down on a beautiful young woman who is
tearfully clutching a white handkerchief, her hands shaking
slightly. Her blonde hair is is slight disarray and her
clothing and jewellry suggest that she is fairly wealthy.
You sure there's nothing you ain't
No sir, Billy's a good boy. He was
meant to call Mr. Marlowe on
Tuesday, let him know he'd got
settled and was ready to work,
Sterling moves towards Lynn, appearing slightly
intimidating. The difference in height is made all the more
You'd only been datin' two months,
you sure you knew everything about
him? Maybe he'd crossed someone in
his line of work?
Forgive me sir, but I don't think
that people in retail make many
You'd be shocked, Miss.
(Takes a drag from his cigar.)
It seems awful strange to me that
he wouldn't tell you where he was
He didn't know where he was
staying! He was gonna get find
somewhere once he was there, get
settled, he wasn't gonna be there
Calm down, Miss. Hudgens. We'll
find him. Scamps like him go
missing ten-a-penny in a big city
like this, they always turn up
sometime or another.
So long as he doesn't turn up with
his throat cut. Or, or worse.
STERLING looks pensive, deep in thought and begins looking
through the case files once more, until the words become a
EXT. STREET. SUBURBAN LOS ANGELES. NIGHT. OUTSIDE THE BELL
Billy looks in the window of The Bell and Broadway. Jovial
music plays loudly inside and fresh flowers brighten the
CLOSE UP OF THE WINDOW:
A small dog relaxes in front of a warm, inviting fire.
Several people talk in hushed groups, drinking alcohol
around a dimly lit bar.
CUT BACK TO WIDE SHOT:
Billy smiles and nods slightly. This is the place.
A creaking noise begins, quietly at first and gets louder.
The music fades to nothing.
DEEP-FOCUS SHOT OF THE ENTIRE STREET:
PULL FOCUS ON A SWINGING SIGN:
The sign reads "Bed and Breakfast". Billy is drawn to it,
and begins walking towards it.
It appears as though Billy is being pulled, towards the
place, and his focus is entirely on the sign.
CLOSE UP OF THE BED AND BREAKFAST SIGN:
The black lettering appears to jump out and appears almost
alive as Billy moves closer and closer towards it.
CONTINUOUS CUTS BETWEEN THE TRACKING SHOT AND THAT OF THE
OVER THE SHOULDER:
Billy is on the doorstep.
Billy presses the doorbell. The tuneless buzz of the
doorbell is heard within the building.
The black door. Billy's finger is still on the doorbell when
it immediately swings open to reveal a woman, 45. She is
small and skinny, with painted red nails and red lipstick.
She is wearing slightly too much rouge, and vaguely
resembles a clown. Despite this, she is not intimidating and
has a warm smile, and kind eyes.
Please, come in.
She gestures towards the empty hallway.
Billy enters, but shows restraint. It is almost as though he
does not want to be there.
I was wondering about a room.
He follows her down a dimly lit corridor. There are pictures
of farmyard scenes covering the walls. It is oppressive,
The room is ready.
How much do you charge?
She turns to smile, the shadowy lighting causes her to look
even more clown-like.
$3.50 a night, including breakfast.
Billy looks slightly pleased with himself, it is obvious
this is cheaper than he was prepared to pay.
Sounds good to me.
Billy notices a hat and coat stand with nothing upon it, in
juxtaposition with all the various items on the walls.
Am I your only guest?
The Landlady is now on the stairs looking down at Billy.
Oh yes, you are. I get a lot of
applicants, but very few are just
PAN AS SHE LOOKS BILLY UP AND DOWN:
THE LANDLADY (CONT'D)
I'm always ready, though. For the
ones that are.
The Landlady continues up the steps, stopping at a door.
She opens the door, revealing a modest but pleasant room. A
typical hotel room.
Billy steps into the room.
THE LANDLADY (CONT'D)
This one is all yours. I hope
you'll like it, Mr. Perkins. That's
your name, isn't it?
No, I'm Weaver. Billy Weaver.
How nice. Just right.
Thank you for the room.
Billy moves closer to the door, putting his hand on it in a
polite effort to encourage her to leave.
MID SHOT OF THE LANDLADY IN THE DOORWAY, AND BILLY IN THE
The Landlady appears to get the hint, and moves to leave.
She puts a hand on Billy's face.
CLOSE UP OF BILLY'S FACE:
Billy looks mildly perplexed.
I'm so glad you finally arrived.