BEFORE THE BIG FIGHTDownload Screenplay Excerpt (PDF)
This locker room scene leads us into the climatic fight with Sailor Mike. Mickey is now torn between throwing the fight to save Angelo, who has run up massive gambling debts with Gazzo’s mob, or keeping the only pure thing he has left in himself – his dignity. He can’t win the fight without Angelo and Angelina being murdered, but resigns himself to give it all he’s got and “not lay down like some mongrel!” But then something happens in the ring that is SO amazing that it will throw everything in this movie ON ITS HEAD!
EXT. MIKVEH SYNAGOGUE, NORTH 44TH STREET – MORNING
Mickey bolts down the pebbly road before coming to a breathless halt outside the red-bricked house of worship. He centers himself momentarily before disappearing up the steps that lead into the shul.
INT. MIKVEH SYNAGOGUE – CONTINUOUS
Mickey paces slowly around the impressive surroundings, taking in the splendor of the synagogue.
MICKEY I see a lot a’ bad things in this world that sometimes makes me doubt all this religious stuff. But then I see other things that makes me think that, maybe, you’re hangin’ around this place after all. I always tried to do what’s right by ya’ pa. Lived my life the best way I could.
Mickey slowly approaches the lectern of worship and takes off his cap. He is dignified and solemn in his speech.
MICKEY (CONT’D) I know I got to lose this fight. But that guy’s gonna’ have to kill me before I go down. I ain’t gonna’ be beaten like no dog. And he’ll have to give it everything he’s got to earn the right to take away the most precious thing I got left from you. But I’m gonna’ do the right thing by ya’ pa. By God. By Angelo. By Angel… and me.
Mickey lowers his head and strolls respectfully away.
MICKEY (CONT’D) (tearful) By the grace of God go I.
EXT. PHILLIES BALL PARK, BROAD STREET – EVENING
A BUZZING CROWD of assorted FIGHT FANS hustle and bustle through the busy entrance – smoking and chewing gum in electrified anticipation of the brutal spectacle ahead.
SUPERIMPOSITION – July 30th, 1934
A red and yellow POSTER displays the headline fight:
“BENNY BASS VS JOHNNY JADICK II”
In smaller lettering below sits the secondary attraction.
“’SAILOR’ MIKE FALCONETTI VS ‘MIGHTY’ MICKEY GOLDMILL.”
INT. DRESSING ROOM, BALL PARK ARENA – EVENING
Mickey sits in the dank dressing room. He wears an ill-fitting, brown shabby robe. Angelina kneels at his feet. She wraps Mickey’s hands with pre-fight bandages.
ANGELINA I never could do this right.
MICKEY You’re doin’ swell.
They share a nervous exchange.
ANGELINA How many rounds?
Mickey climbs to his feet and walks over to an iron rack. He picks up a pair of battered boxing gloves that have seen better days. He slips his hands into the shoddy leather mitts. Angelina laces them up carefully for him.
The dressing room door swings open. Gazzo and a FEW MOBSTERS stand in the shadowy doorway. Gazzo puffs away, looking every bit the ‘wiseguy’ in his plush long coat and panama.
MASSIMO GAZZO If it ain’t the champ. You feeling strong, Mickey?
Mickey doesn’t answer. Gazzo is clearly not welcome.
MASSIMO GAZZO (CONT’D) I know you’re gonna’ give the crowd a great show out there, tonight. And don’t worry, Goldmill, there’ll be a few bucks in it for ya’.
(to MOBSTERS) Well, you know what these fuckin’ Jews are like?
Gazzo’s MOB CHUMS cackle. Gazzo’s mood turns borderline intense as he addresses silent, brooding Mickey.
MASSIMO GAZZO (CONT’D) Have a party out there… just do the right thing, Goldmill. Looking good there, Angel. Real pretty.
The seriousness of Gazzo’s intent is very clear.
MASSIMO GAZZO (CONT’D) Let’s hope you stay that way. A rose should have all its petals.
Gazzo turns to leave, continuing his previous conversation.
MASSIMO GAZZO (O.S.) (CONT’D) So, as I was sayin’ – this dumb fucker came up to me yellin’ “Mister Gazzo, my sister just got graped” So I says to him, “Don’t you mean raped?” So he cries out, “Fuck no, there was a whole bunch of ‘em!”
Gazzo and his cronies cackle and disappear down the corridor.
A suited and booted RING OFFICIAL stops on his way down the hallway and pokes his head around the door.
RING OFFICIAL Goldmill? You’re on.
He disappears as Mickey’s DARKLY-CLAD ADVERSARY strolls ominously past the entrance and into the murky shadows.
Mickey climbs to his feet and stares at a TORN POSTER of ex-champ JACK DEMPSEY hanging from the paint-flaked wall. He gazes at his own distorted image in a cracked mirror. No matter where he looks he sees broken fighters and shattered dreams.
ANGELINA You ready, Mickey?
Mickey turns to her, straight-faced and resolute.
MICKEY I’m ready.
INT. CORRIDOR – CONTINUOUS
Mickey and Angelina enter the dark hallway. They walk a few quiet steps before they spot a SHADOWY FIGURE hovering in the distance.
It is Angelo. He stands holding a spit bucket and towel. They approach the solemn man and stop a few feet away. Angelo hesitates momentarily before speaking his peace.