One of the world’s most popular screenwriting books, Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat has brought clarity and a sense of direction to thousands of screenwriters, many of whom were looking for the logical extension of Syd Field’s work.
If you’re not familiar with it, the book delivered a structural screenwriting roadmap for mainstream movies: not quite a full-blown join-the-dots guidebook, but in some ways, close.
With fully 15 story beats to hit over 90-120 pages Save the Cat gave writers both a well-lit pathway through those dark narrative woods and a way to quickly filter out the stories worth developing to full screenplay stage.
But how well do the theories hold up?
In Blake’s 2nd book, Save the Cat Goes to The Movies, he attempted to firm up and solidify his thesis, by analyzing various classic films.
And whilst this analysis proved for the most part effective, the doubters (largely, let’s face it, from the independent-slash-art-house sector of the industry) remain…
So whilst Snyder’s greatest gift to screenwriters probably remains the pithy maxim “give me the same, just different”, here at Industrial Scripts we thought we’d really stress-test the theories, against a range of films of varying quality.
“The pithy ‘give me the same just different’ remains Snyder’s greatest gift to screenwriters…”
If you’d like to view all the articles in our Save the Cat Analysis Series please do so at the link, and simply read on for the next instalment in the series!
Save the Cat Analysis Series #7: HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1978)
FILM: HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1978)
STORY TYPE: “Out of the Bottle” / (“Golden Fleece”) / (“Buddy Love”)
ANALYSIS: HEAVEN CAN WAIT matches Snyder’s paradigm very closely. The Catalyst, Debate, Break Into Act Two, B Story, Fun and Games, Bad Guys Close In and All is Lost beats match Snyder’s structure almost exactly (in some cases they either occur precisely when he says they should, or if not only a couple of minutes out). It’s also fair to say that some of the other beats – such as Theme Stated, Set-Up, Break into Act Three and Finale – feel very Snyderian too, without matching quite as well as the others. The one (major) area in which this film doesn’t really resonate is in terms of theme, and character change. Although the theme is explicitly stated early on, we’re never particularly convinced that the film’s about anything much. Where this film fits into the Snyder story types is also not entirely clear. The more magical elements suggest that it’s an “Out of the Bottle” tale, but then again once could also classify it in terms of a “Golden Fleece” movie (Joe’s goal throughout the film is to win the superbowl playing quarterback) but it could also come under “Buddy Love” (although actually Joe and Betty share very little screen time). Structurally though, HEAVEN CAN WAIT matches the Snyder paradigm better than any film assessed thus far in the series.
Save the Cat Analysis: HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1978)
- Opening Image (p. 1)
– Opening image: an idyllic mountaintop vista, the sun beating down. This is a positive, happy image for a light-hearted, generally comedic film. The beginning and end of this film hardly show a “change so dramatic it documents the emotional upheaval that the movie represents” however – the ending is positive, as is the beginning. Not particularly Snyderian.
- Theme Stated (p. 5)
– “I’m stuck”, Joe says, 5 minutes in, “it just feels like I’ve been working my whole life to try to get the chance to do something, and I don’t know if I’m ever gonna get the chance to do it”. This moment feels Snyderian on several levels. Firstly, it defines what the film is about: fate, chance, opportunity. It also conforms to Snyder’s theory in the sense that is poses a very obvious dramatic question – will Joe get the chance to fulfill his dream? That this moment occurs precisely 5 minutes ensures that it ticks just about all the beat-boxes outlined by Snyder.
- Set-Up (p. 1 – 10)
– In the first 10 minutes we meet: Joe, Max, the Rams coaches, The Escort, and Jordan. However, within this time-frame we haven’t met: Betty, Leo Farnsworth, or Abbott (the aide). So in terms of character introductions, HEAVEN CAN WAIT’s opening 10 minutes is only partially Snyderian. Various call-backs are introduced during this period, however: Joe’s enthusiasm for the saxophone, his “trick” where he plucks a coin from someone’s ear, and his ability to fix Max’s back/neck by twisting it. However the first 10 minutes of this film is at pains to outline the “rules” of its world: it even has a character (The Escort) who is seemingly only there to outline the rules to the protagonist. We’re also told a lot about the tone of this movie during this period – we know that this movie is going to stretch our suspension of disbelief, and for the Snyderians among us we know that this movie is going to contain elements of the “Out of the Bottle” story type.
- Catalyst (p. 12)
– The catalyst moment in this film actually happens unusually early, around 7 minutes in, when Joe rides his bike into the tunnel. Apart from its positioning so early in the story, this is a classic catalyst moment – it quite literally “knocks down” (Snyder) both the hero and his current world, and sends him off into a new one. It’s a real “Boom!” moment, on several levels.
- Debate (p. 12 – 25)
– The debate section of this film basically consists of Jordan and The Escort trying to figure out a way of fixing their error by finding Joe a suitable body to enter. Snyder insists that the debate section “must ask a question of some kind” and HEAVEN CAN WAIT’s does indeed do this – can they find a body suitable for Joe to enter? In typical Snyder fashion, the debate section here thus becomes showing how Jordan, The Escort and Joe go about answering that question, by scoping out suitable candidates. Very Snyderian.
- Break into Act Two (p. 25)
– Another beat in keeping with Snyder’s paradigm. 22 minutes in and Joe emerges from the bathroom as Leo Farnsworth. This moment is Snyderian in every sense: it’s a suitably “big” moment; it represents the hero stepping into a “new world” (ie. Act Two), of his own accord (Joe chooses Farnsworth, over the other candidates); and it even represents the antithesis of the first act, as Joe emerges as completely different person.
- B Story (p. 30)
– The B Story here occurs 25 minutes in, so 5 earlier than Snyder suggests, but it’s otherwise very much in keeping with his theories. Firstly, it’s the start of the love story, as Joe and Betty meet for the first time. It’s also a “booster rocket” to the story, as we move into a brand new world. The B story here also is “a brand new bunch of characters” – all Farnsworth’s servants, his wife, Abbott the disloyal aide et al. These characters are also the antitheses of the characters (ie. the Rams players) in Act One – they’re stiff, they’re passive, they’re cowardly, they’re greedy. They’re bad and so’s the world, basically, and it’s down to Joe to fix the problems.
- Fun and Games (p. 30 – 55)
– A classic Fun and Games sequence. We see the hero genuinely “playing” (very much in the spirit of the phrase “Fun and Games”) – taking the helicopter to the board meeting, antagonising his wife and Abbott by playing the sax, trying on his new wardrobe and vast range of hats and generally fooling around. We also see him messing up the order of the world he’s entered, by summoning the press into the board meeting, and generally upsetting the apple cart as far as Farnsworth’s various (dodgy) companies go. The Fun and Games sequence here also delivers in terms of “the promise of the premise…the core and essence of the movie’s poster”. The movie’s poster in this case shows Warren Beatty as an angel – we’ve come to the film to watch him “play God”, and that’s precisely what he does in this sequence. It’s also a canny move from the screenwriter(s) to put Joe into a millionaire’s body, because then he can behave like God, but with the financial clout that means we don’t have to stretch our imaginations as much as we might (Farnsworth owns a helicopter, after all, so we don’t have to have a scene where Joe flies to a board meeting). This device grounds the story in a greater reality. A sequence very much in keeping with Snyder’s theories.
- Midpoint (p. 55)
– The Midpoint in this film isn’t entirely clear-cut. It seems to be the moment when Joe comes back into contact with his “old” world, persuading Max to train him to prepare for the Superbowl. This is a noticeably “up” Midpoint – Joe is like an excited kid as he decides on his plan of action and tries to fulfill his dream. However this is a false victory really, as Joe can never realistically expect to play in the Superbowl with Farnsworth’s ageing limbs. This moment occurs 56 minutes in. However, a more clear-cut Midpoint may occur 60 minutes in, when Joe buys the Rams, with a view to instating himself as quarterback. This is a “bigger” moment than the former, and also feels Snyderian in that it really is a false victory, and the stakes are more noticeably raised at this point (Joe has made a lot of enemies buying the team). On reflection, the film’s Midpoint is probably this latter moment, although it arrives slightly later than Snyder would prefer…
- Bad Guys Close In (p. 55 -75)
– Bad Guys do Close In when Joe gets smashed at training, but after this moment, the section doesn’t feel particularly Snyderian. In fact, it’s quite a happy sequence initially, in which Joe and Betty spend a lot of time together, and get on well. The forces of evil don’t appear to be tightening their grip on Joe until later in the sequence, when (70 minutes in) The Escort comes to tell him that his time is up in Farnsworth’s body. Joe is very upset by this because it appears to be the death-knell for his hopes of playing in the Superbowl. He also escorts Betty off the property at this point, and although they kiss for the first time, a sense of tragedy does loom in the air as the result of a brief shot of Abbott preparing a sniper rifle for use…
- All is Lost (p. 75)
– The All is Lost moment occurs in this film 73 minutes in, when Joe is shot and falls into the well. This moment adheres closely to Snyder’s arguments. Firstly, it’s a “down” moment in contrast to the “up” of the Midpoint. It most certainly includes the “whiff of death” aspect, in that the protagonist appears to be dead. The hero’s dreams also appear to be dashed at this point – how is he going to play in the Superbowl without a body, if he’s even “alive” at all? A true All is Lost moment, which occurs only a couple of minutes out from where Snyder argues it should.
- Dark Night of The Soul (p. 75 – 85)
– Is this the end of the movie? It almost feels like it when a more ghostly version of the protagonist emerges from the well, nods solemnly to Jordan, and walks off into the distance. It also feels like the end when the various characters in Joe/Farnsworth’s life go looking for him and can’t find him anywhere. However, this isn’t a vintage Dark Night of The Soul – we don’t see the hero beaten, yielding control of events over to Fate, admitting his humility and humanity. In fact, this is one of the weakest sections of film, as the bumbling Lt. Krim conducts a rather tedious interrogation of the staff at the Farnsworth mansion. Not a particularly Snyderian beat.
- Break into Act Three (p. 85)
– 82 minutes in and Joe strides onto the pitch and resurrects the fallen quarterback, Jarrett. Although this is a noticeable Act Break, in that the action spins off from here into a new, positive direction, it’s not very Snyderian in the sense that the hero hasn’t exactly “dug deep to find the solution”, he’s merely pitched up, seen a suitable body to enter, and gone right in. It’s also dubious what the hero has learnt, in order to apply it here. Also, has Betty given him “the clue” as to how to succeed? Not really. Not particularly Snyderian.
- Finale (p. 85 – 110)
– Joe triumphs in his goal of guiding the Rams to Superbowl glory AND gets the girl. He hasn’t changed the world (he possibly did that earlier, when he inverted Farnsworth’s dodgy business dealings and “saved” people in faraway places), but he has fulfilled his dream and won the heart of his beloved.
- Final Image (p. 110)
– As suggested, hardly the opposite of the opening image, but a classic “happy couple walks off into the distance” synonymous with the story type.
Scene-by-Scene Breakdown: HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1978)
- Opening image: an idyllic mountaintop vista, the sun beating down.
- JOE PENDLETON (Warren Beatty) jogs out of his house, carrying an American football, to the sound of people playing American Football…
- Cut to the Los Angeles Rams training, with Joe throwing a good pass to his wide receiver, as the coaches look on approvingly. “Pendleton, he’s looking awful good”, comments one of them.
- Cut to Pendleton sprinting up a hill, and lifting weights on an injured knee.
- These scenes (the training with the Rams and the training as an individual) continue over the next minute or so.
- In total 3 coaches all remark that Pendleton is “looking awful good”. The head coach then reveals that he’s thinking of starting their next match with Pendleton, and also enquires whether the quarterback is still taking any painkillers (presumably for his knee). However another coach says: “I never seen a knee heal like that without surgery coach”.
- After training Pendleton walks off the pitch and is quizzed on the team’s prospects by a journalist. Pendleton believes that the Rams are going to the Superbowl and they’re going to win. We’re also made aware of Pendleton’s competition for the quarterback position, a guy named JARRETT.
- Pendleton is at home playing the saxophone and watching American football footage. He’s visited by MAX CORKLE (Jack Warden), who brings him a birthday cake. “I didn’t think anybody knew”, says Pendleton. He blows out his candle, and then says: “at my age, in another business, I’d be young”. “I’m stuck”, he says, “it just feels like I’ve been working my whole life to try to get the chance to do something, and I don’t know if I’m ever gonna get the chance to do it”. Max then tells Pendleton that the coaches have decided to start with him against Dallas on Saturday.
- Cut to Pendleton out cycling. He cycles into a tunnel but coming from the other side are two vehicles, with one trying to overtake the other. There’s a crash, and the next thing we see is…
- A white ball of light. This scene changes to some clouds, with Pendleton and THE ESCORT (Buck Henry) walking across them. “I’m dreaming, huh?” says Joe, before performing a trick whereby he produces a coin from behind The Escort’s ear.
- They approach a giant white plane, where there’s a queue of people waiting to board it. The Escort tells Pendleton to wait in line, but then Pendleton announces that he’s not going to board the plane. Joe is convinced that he’s in the middle of a “really weird dream”.
- Another suited man (MR. JORDAN – James Mason) then appears, and tells Joe that he’s in a place that “comes after life, and after dreams”. Joe maintains that there’s been some mistake, and that he isn’t meant to be there. Jordan asks his aide to investigate Joe’s “check out” date, and sure enough, they have made a mistake: Joe is meant to die until 2025. The Escort then confesses that he “took Joe out” just before the accident, because he didn’t think there was any chance of Joe surviving. “This man must be put back into his body at once”, says Jordan.
- Cut to Joe and The Escort arriving at Joe’s funeral, where they see Joe’s ashes being scattered on the grave. He can’t have his body back now, and no-one on Earth can see or hear him, either.
- Cut back to the clouds, and Jordan explains that what they can do is put Joe back into someone else’s body, providing the person’s death hasn’t been discovered.
- We now see Joe and Jordan observing various deaths, to try and find a suitable body for him to return in. They see a high-wire artist plunge to his death at the circus; a German racecar driver and a millionaire, FARNSWORTH, who lives in huge mansion.
- We see Farnsworth’s wife JULIA and his aide, and Jordan informs us that they’ve drugged Farnsworth in a conspiracy, and he’ll die soon.
- Joe tries to alert people in the house to Farnsworth’s impending demise, but none of them can see or hear him.
- Julia and Farnsworth’s aide are arguing when the butler comes in and informs them that BETTY LOGAN (Julie Christie) has arrived to see them. Joe sees Betty, and is lovestruck.
- Julia leaves Farnsworth’s aide alone with Betty, who reveals why she’s come to see Farnsworth: one of his companies is going to pollute the small English town where Betty’s mother lives, and she has a petition signed by all the town’s residents. Farnsworth wouldn’t see her at his office, so she had to turn up at his home. “Somebody ought to help her”, says Joe. “You can help her Joe”, replies Gordon. However Joe doesn’t want to be Farnsworth permanently, but merely temporarily. Gordon says that he can do that, but Joe must be quick before the body’s found.
- Cut to Joe getting out of the bath (as Farnsworth). People can hear him now and Gordon explains that inwardly he’s still Joe Pendleton – that’s what he and Gordon can see – but outwardly, Joe’s now Farnsworth, and that’s what everyone else will see.
- Joe comes out of the bathroom and is helped into his clothes by his assistants.
- Meanwhile, Julia Farnsworth argues with Farnsworth’s aide a bit more. They’re waiting for Farnsworth’s body to be found.
- Joe comes downstairs and meets Betty, who launches into her tirade against the pollution of her mother’s town. Julia Farnsworth and Farnsworth’s aide then enter the room, and Julia begins screaming when she sees her husband, still alive, standing before her.
- Farnsworth’s aide drags her from the room and shoves her in a cupboard, telling Joe and Betty than Julia saw a mouse, which was why she screamed.
- After the aide’s gone, Betty continues her rant, but Joe stops her by telling her that he isn’t really Leo Farnsworth. She thinks he’s ridiculing her, and gets up and leaves, after threatening to bring some unsavoury details about his company’s dealings to light at Thursday’s board meeting. After she’s gone, Joe tells Jordan: “well, I guess you’ve got until Thursday’s board meeting to find me a body that can play quarterback”.
- Cut to Julia and the aide out in the garden, despairing about their situation. “He’s probably got enough evidence to lock us away for the rest of our lives”, she wails. “Darling I don’t understand this”, says the aide, “I saw him inhale the nose spray: two full squirts in each nostril”. Another man then appears, and asks the aide to come and see Mr. Farnsworth.
- The aide comes to see Joe, and states that he’s sure everything Betty plans to raise at the board meeting is legal. Joe is less fussed about legal or illegal and more concerned with what’s right and wrong. He tells the aide to look into whether they’re “hurting anybody” in the small English town.
- Cut to Joe practising on the saxophone, much to the bemusement of his wife and the aide, who think that he’s toying with them, just waiting to confront them about the poisoning.
- Cut to Joe eating dinner with his wife and the aide – he wolfs down his meal and then leaves.
- Joe is upstairs watching TV, hearing about the Rams’ success, and particularly the exploits of Jarrett, his replacement in the quarterback shirt. Joe’s fuming.
- The night before the board meeting, and Joe has dinner with his wife and the aide, and the aide explains to Joe that leaking information about a merger can cause the stock of a company to rise. Joe is shocked by the underhand nature of big business, and the aide is shocked by Joe’s new naivety. After Joe leaves his wife says: “I think we should do it tonight”, to the aide.
- Cut to Joe in bed, preparing for the board meeting the next day. He puts down his notes and starts to play the sax, to the continued amazement of his wife and the aide (who are in bed together).
- The next morning Joe heads off to the meeting by helicopter.
- There, he’s greeted by some journalists who quiz him about the English town situation, amongst other dodgy dealings. The aide rushes Joe through, but then Betty turns up with a new accusation, and Joe decides to invite all the reporters into the board meeting.
- In the meeting, Joe’s fellow board members are baffled to see the reporters inside and kick up a stink about it. An argument then ensues about the safety of one of Joe’s power plants, and Joe takes the side of the eco-friendly reporters. Joe proposes a radical ethical overhaul of the company’s policies, via an American Football analogy: “let’s be the team that plays fair”. Joe’s boardmembers look on in horror, but Betty definitely seems to be warming to him.
- Joe rushes home to catch the football news, and the Rams have made the Superbowl.
- The aide and Julia decide to try and kill Joe that night.
- Jordan and The Escort then appear, and Joe talks to them in front of a maid, and she looks at him like he’s insane. Joe takes his two otherworldly allies off to a broom cupboard.
- Inside the cupboard, Joe asks them what bodies they’ve found for him to move into, as now he’s helped Betty he wants to move on. The chambermaids listen in on Joe (seemingly) talking to himself.
- Another of Joe’s employers knocks on the door of the broom cupboard and tells him that Betty is downstairs. He rushes down to see her, telling Jordan to “do the best he can” on finding him a new body.
- Downstairs, Betty apologises for her rudeness and praises Joe for his behaviour in the boardroom. He then invites her out for dinner and they head out…to a fast food restaurant. She asks him if he eats here often, and he replies: “I just didn’t think you’d want people to see you out with a guy like me”. They stare at each other, and a mutual attraction seems to be growing. “You know, even when I was trying to hate you earlier, I couldn’t help seeing something else”, she tells him, “something in your eyes, does that sound silly?” Joe seems moved, and tells her that he needs to talk to somebody immediately.
- He drops her home and also tells her that he and his wife are getting a divorce.
- He returns home and tells The Escort that he doesn’t want a new body after “something happened” that night. The Escort is outraged, claiming that he and Jordan have put a lot of work into finding Joe a suitable athlete to move into. He says that he’s going to get Farnsworth’s body into shape instead.
- He leaves the cupboard and runs past the servants (who’ve been gossiping about him talking to himself) and knocks on the door of his wife’s room.
- Inside the room, the aide gets out of bed and hurriedly hides behind the curtains, as Joe enters. “I’m sorry to bother you so late”, he says, “but I don’t love you and you don’t love me so let’s get a divorce alright?” Joe also makes it clear that he knows that the aide is in the room.
- Joe goes downstairs, and throws his jacket on the bed, triggering a trap which causes the roof to fall down, crushing the bed.
- Downstairs Julia and Abbott rejoice as they think they’ve killed Joe, but then he appears again, and they’re livid.
- Max Corkle then arrives, and Joe greets him warmly. “Have we met before?” asks Max. Joe then asks Max to a) train him, and help him get into shape, and b) help him get a try-out for the Rams. Max refuses, even when Joe offers him money to try and get him a trial. Joe then tries to explain to Max (in very long-winded terms) what’s happened, but Max (understandably) thinks Joe is crazy and tries to leave. Finally he tells Max straight, that he’s not Leo Farnsworth, and is in fact Joe Pendleton. Max is still hell-bent on leaving, so Joe plays his trump card, revealing secrets about him that only Joe or another very close friend would know (ie. that he’s got a scar under his tongue). “I still know the moves, you just help me with the body”, says Joe. Max looks stunned, and then tries to talk to Jordan, who’s now gone.
- Cut to a montage of Max training Joe, and all the servants who live in the house. Occasionally Max chips in with a quip like “I don’t know what I’m going to say to him” (ie. the Rams coach) or “this is never going to work”, as the servants drop pass after pass.
- Max walks alongside Joe telling him that his plan isn’t going to work, but Joe counters by revealing that he’s bought the Rams.
- Inside the Rams locker room, the coach tells the players that Farnsworth has bought the team and wants to play quarter-back in the Super Bowl. The coach adds that at Wednesday’s practise Farnsworth is going to play quarter-back, and that he and the coaches will decide then whether he’s up to the job. Farnsworth himself has said that he doesn’t want the players to “hold back”, so the coach urges them to “play Wednesday’s scrimmage like it’s the Superbowl”.
- The Rams’ owner then reveals what swayed his decision to sell the team – Joe offered him $67m. “Ruthless bastard”, says the coach.
- Abbott then riles one of the offensive linemen by advising him to “ignore Mr. Farnsworth’s racial statements”.
- Joe/Farnsworth sets the huddle and calls the play, but is subsequently smashed by the opposition, because his defensive line aren’t willing to protect him. This happens again. And again.
- We cut to one of Joe’s boardmembers in the crowd, fuming about what he’s seeing, as the company’s stock has fallen dramatically as a result of Joe’s purchase of the Rams.
- Joe calls his defence in, and makes them an offer: “ok, if you want me to quit, give me the ball just one time and if I don’t hit Evans, then I’ll quit”.
- In the next play, Joe gets the ball and throws a great pass to Evans, and Max rejoices on the touchline, to the disapproval of the other coaches.
- In the next play, Joe throws another good pass, and is beginning to win over his team-mates.
- Montage of Joe throwing great passes, and the coach repeats his line from the beginning of the film: “he’s looking awful good”.
- In the locker room afterwards, Max tells Joe: “you really pulled it off”.
- Cut to the Farnsworth mansion, where Joe is throwing a party for the ecology group that Joe is funding.
- Julia and Abbott are watching out of the window and Julia convinced that Joe is “getting ready to spring something…it’s all part of some plot…the only thing he hasn’t announced is our divorce”. “If we don’t do something right away we’re going to lose it all…I need my head examined for signing a pre-nuptial agreement”, she says.
- Cut to the party, and Joe and Betty staring at each other, before walking off into the grounds together later on.
- Joe and Betty come to a wishing well, and he asks her if she wants to make a wish. He then produces a coin from behind her ear (the trick he played earlier), and she makes one.
- They walk on and discuss Joe’s football aspirations. “I think you can do anything you want”, she says, “because you’re not afraid of anything”. “You wanna know the only thing I’m afraid of”, says Joe, “how I’d feel if I couldn’t be with you”. Joe then asks Betty to marry him, but they’re interrupted by The Escort.
- The Escort tells Joe that he won’t be able to use Mr. Farnsworth’s body anymore. Joe isn’t having any of it, however, and tells The Escort that he wants to speak to Jordan personally.
- Joe returns to Betty and explains that he needs to “straighten something out”, and walks her to her car.
- Meanwhile, we see a brief shot of Abbott preparing a sniper rifle in his bedroom, as Julia Farnsworth brushes her hair.
- Back to Joe walking Betty out. He tells her that “we got a great life ahead you and me, and no-one’s going to take that away from us”. He tries to explain his situation, but fails, and then they kiss for the first time. “It’s alright, there’s nothing to be afraid of”, he tells her. She gets in the car and it drives away. Joe turns round and Jordan is standing there. “You must abide by what is written…there’s a reason for everything, there’s always a plan”, says Jordan. “How can you expect me to give up Farnsworth now?”, says Joe, “you said we were going to get to the Superbowl?” Jordan then argues that Joe only wanted a “temporary” arrangement, but Joe tells him that he’s going back on a deal for the first time in his life. “She loves me, Mr. Jordan”, he pleads, but Jordan reiterates: “you must abide by what is written”.
- Cut to the canon going off in the garden, and simultaneously Abbott shooting Joe, who falls into the wishing well.
- Joe (as Joe, tracksuit from the beginning of the film), then re-emerges from the well and walks off with Jordan.
- Dissolve to Jordan walking along with Jordan, up in the clouds. “Don’t be afraid Joe, there’s always a plan”, Jordan tells him.
- Quick montage of the main characters all looking for Farnsworth/Joe, and being unable to find him.
- “Millionaire’s absence baffles police” reads the headline in the newspaper at the police precinct, where LT. KRIM is under pressure to find Farnsworth.
- Cut to the coaches of the Rams. One describes Farnsworth as “the craziest nut I’ve ever had to deal with”, and the other says “he wasn’t just fooling around, if he was alive he’d still be here”.
- Back to Lt. Krim’s office, where Betty is telling the officers that Farnsworth asked her to marry him, and that he was going to get a divorce. He was going to call her, she says, but then “something happened”.
- Cut to Julia and Abbott in bed together, hearing about the impending Superbowl and Farnsworth’s disappearance on TV.
- Back to Lt. Krim’s office, where Max is telling the officers about Julia and Abbott’s plan to kill Farnsworth (which Joe told him about). Max wants Krim to get them in for questioning, promising that he can “make them crack”. Krim agrees, but the Superbowl is about to start…
- The coach delivers the Rams final pre-match talk.
- Meanwhile, over at the Farnsworth mansion, the servants are grilled by Krim, but have clearly been primed to say nothing controversial.
- Brief shot of a workman snooping around the wishing well.
- Back to the office, and Krim informs Julia that Joe/Farnsworth had told Betty that he intended to marry her. Julia says “I don’t doubt it”, going to on state that Farnsworth would “do anything to make a conquest”. By now Joe, The Escort and Jordan have appeared in the room, unbeknownst to the others. “They’re going to try and pin it on Betty”, mutters Joe, before Betty accuses Julia of lying. The inept Krim then continues with his inane line of questioning, prompting an outburst from Max. Krim agrees to turn the TV on so Max can see the game, and we observe the Rams quarterback Jarrett going down injured.
- Cut to a very brief scene of the workman winching something out of the well.
- Back to the inquest, and finally Max can’t take it anymore and stands up and accuses Julia and Abbott of killing Farnsworth.
- Cut to Joe and Jordan on the side of the pitch, watching the Superbowl. They see Jarrett being stretchered off, and it doesn’t look good for the quarterback. Joe runs over to Jarrett however, and the next thing we know Jarrett/Joe has got to his feet and taken the field again.
- Back at the mansion, Max knows it’s Joe retaking the field, and the workman comes in brandishing Farnsworth’s jacket (which he found down the well). This triggers a “rat’s off a sinking ship” style argument between Julia and Abbott, who both start blaming each other for killing Farnsworth. Max then leaves, telling Krim to “shove the investigation up yer ass”.
- Joe throws a great pass for a good yardage gain as…
- Max drives to the stadium, listening to the game on the radio. We learn that it’s gone into sudden death overtime. Intercut between the car and the game, as Jarrett/Joe is sacked for a loss.
- On the next play, the ball bounces loose and Jarrett/Joe picks up the ball and strolls in for the touchdown, unopposed. The crowd goes berserk, and Jarrett/Joe is lifted onto his team-mates’ shoulders.
- Riotous scenes in the changing room afterwards, and Max makes his way into the stadium and down to the dressing room. They hug, and Joe confirms that it is him in Jarrett’s body.
- Jarrett/Joe is interviewed by TV, but during the interview Jordan appears, and tells him that he is going away, and after he’s gone Joe won’t remember any of the people he’s been or the past lives he’s had, and will simply be Jarrett. “You’re back on your own road now Joe”, says Jordan before disappearing. Jarrett/Joe walks off in a daze…
- Later, Max comes looking for Jarrett, and someone says to him: “it’s a pity about Farnsworth, poor son of a bitch”. He looks across to Jarrett’s place in the locker room, and instead sees Joe’s saxophone.
- Jarrett then enters, and it’s that Joe has gone, only Jarrett is left now (he doesn’t recognise the saxophone as his). Max then calls him Joe and Jarrett says “hey, I’m the guy that got hit in the head, you sure you’re alright coach”. When Max asks him to play a tune, Jarrett accuses him of being drunk. Eventually Max asks Jarrett to look at him, and when he looks in his eyes realises that Joe isn’t there anymore. Jarrett asks him why he keeps calling him Joe, and Max replies that he’s thinking of Joe Pendleton. Jarrett affectionately pats the old man on the back, and then leaves.
- In the hallway outside, Jarrett meets Betty coming in. She’s looking for Max. They stare at each other and he asks if they’ve met, and she says that they haven’t. They get to talking and she mentions Leo Farnsworth, and what a close friend he was to her. The lights then go off, because the stadium’s shutting down, and Jarrett says to her “don’t be afraid”. This echoes Joe/Farnsworth’s earlier line, and spooks Betty. Jarrett then asks her to go for a cup of coffee with him, and she realises that he’s the quarterback. She agrees to go for coffee with him.
- Final image: Betty and Jarrett walk across the pitch in the empty stadium, as the lights gradually shut down.
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