THE LAST WESTERN
Junction, Virginia—1862. In the heat of battle, Col. Evelyn
Tyner, a hard-bitten man of impeccable moral stature, makes a mistake
that sends him to the bowels of Federal Prison for the next ten years.
Beaten but not defeated, he emerges from prison to find a scurrilous
group of “hangers on” waiting for him. Men he had all
but forgotten. With his unit in place, he—surprisingly—finds
himself in the servitude of the general who sent him down.
a new west in Virginia City, Nevada. All the rules have changed. Will
these two men, who were schooled at West Point together and later
fought back-to-back for the Union forces, lay the past to rest and
ride the Iron Horse to wealth and fame as it steams its way toward
a new age? Or is the steam of the Iron Horse only a cloud of deception
hiding crimes so heinous that a man possessed of true character and
moral fiber can no longer choke back the bile of emerging progress?
Of course justice must be served—but at what cost?
AUTHOR’S NOTE: the texture of this piece is intended to reflect
the era: muddy streets, cloudy skies, unkempt and disheveled towns
and people, and lots of locomotive soot.
powerful work is dedicated to the memory of Sam Peckinpah. It is something
of a cross between MCabe and Mrs. Miller and The
Unforgiven. Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country
also lurks in the background. Strong char-acterizations, sweeping
vistas, contemporary moral and ethical dilemmas stirred into a tale
of greed, retribution, honor, courage and rebirth mark this work as
a return to the epic filmmaking of John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, David
Lean and George Stephens.
and Karl Grey
boom through the night and the smell of gunpowder and death blanket
Union Army encampment. Wet, black, fog hangs in the air.
the other side of the river, Lee’s army writhes like an angry
the light of his tent’s kerosene lantern, EVELYN TYNER, Col.,
Grand Army ofthe Republic, plots a return to battle. Dark-eyed, intense,
the burly, full-bearded Tyner pays no attention to his injured arm.
Blood oozes through the once-white bandage.
cavalry’s got ta get ta them rebs ‘fore they cin flank
our main force. It’ll happen here—at Purgatory Hill just
above them railroad tracks. Questions? (pointing; off their silence)
Alright, get back to your units. A young lieutenant hesitates, clearly
scared by what he has already seen and will see.
understand what you are to do, Lt.?!! Now do it.
Lt. cannot even open his mouth.
Tyner raises himself to his full height and swats his young officer
across the face with his glove. The other officers, including the
surgeon, C.J. “Doc” Rivers are aghast.
in the tent opening, Gen. Zachariah Sheridan, brother of the great
union general—Phil Sheridan—witnesses the young Lt’s
gentlemen. Back to your units. (the other officers hurry out) Col.,
you are a disgrace to the uniform...
no patience with cowards.
confined to quarters. Guards!!! (two guards enter; salute) This man
is under house arrest until further orders.
starts to rip the epaulets off Tyner’s shoulders. Tyner backs
see to it that you never again wear the epaulets of an officer of
the U.S.Army, Tyner. (grinning) Fact is, I got a lot more in store
young Lt., and his unit ride up to the front. Withering gun fire cuts
their horses out from under them. Cannon balls explode all around
INT. COL. TENT—NIGHT
can hear the screams of his men as cannon shot pours into them near
the river. He is at wits end. He looks toward the back of his tent.
lifts the flap at the rear of the tent and quietly escapes making
his way to the corral. He gets himself a horse, mounts it, then follows
the railroad line leading to the battle.
EXT. PURGATORY HILL—FIRST LIGHT OF DAWN
rebs are on the move as Tyner peeks though the bushes. The battered
flag of his unit, 3RD MICHIGAN CAVALRY, still flies. His men surrounded,
Tyner slips away.
EXT. UNION ARMY CAMPGROUND—DAWN
to his camp, he gathers a half-dozen broken down old soldiers together.
locomotive, tender and two freight cars sit on a siding, idling. Tyner
appears. He and his men overpower the crew and disguise themselves
as Confederates. They board the loco-motive and chug toward the front.
pass though the rebel lines moving slowly, seeming unconcerned, arriving
at a siding near purgatory hill.
EXT. HIGH GROUND OVERLOOKING THE RIVER—EARLY MORNING
men in his unit fire sporadically. The scared Lt. urges them on, despite
having lost an eye. His arm is badly damaged at the elbow.
appears carrying a flag of truce. He instructs the Lt.’s men
to give the ap-pearance of surrendering. Together, they amble past
the taunting rebs, board the train and again pass through the Confederate
EXT. RAILROAD TRACK—MORNING
arrive safely at the Union Army Encampment. All the men in camp cheer
their arrival. They come to a halt.
helps unload the wounded. A wounded man puts out his hand.