The Painted Fan
by PJ Braley
The Painted Fan is a film about identity and how the past – whether real or imagined – can influence the direction of the future.
The film begins with Ruby Stevens, a young woman in her twenties, ecstatic over her very recent status as a newly-engaged woman.
Ruby wakes up in the early morning darkness. She is no longer in a law office, but a post-war saloon. When she tries to leave the building, she is found. Before she can explain, Police officer Jerry Hughes claims her as his sister. Needing help, the saloon owner hires her to work in the kitchen. Afraid to leave the building, she takes the job.
Ruby finds three women tied together in one of the rooms on the second floor. Unable to get the women out of the building without implicating Remington, Jerry contacts the Louisiana Highway Patrol for their cooperation. When Lorenz walks into Remington’s saloon to confront Remington, he learns that Jerry was the one who alerted the Federal Marshals. Gunshots ensue as both Jerry and Remington are ready for them. Remington has a wound to the shoulder, Jerry is unharmed, but Shannon falls, hitting her head against the edge of the bar.
DENOUEMENT – Return to current time – Law 0ffice – The Next Morning
Ruby awakens to find her friends hovering over her. As she is being helped up, her fiancé Alex rushes in. Angry at being stood up, he does not (at first) believe that she is injured. Confused and unsure of her surroundings, Ruby breaks her engagement with Alex and rushes into Ron's office. Ron Wilkinson follows her. Discovering she is no longer engaged, he takes a chance and his admiration and affection for her.
Ruby/Shannon Stevens, Heroine
Young, ambitious, well-bred but not well-moneyed, her dedication to social justice and resourcefulness keeps her balanced throughout the film.
Policeman and WWII veteran, he is basically good, struggles against the easy money to be had by being a mob informant. Unknown to him, befriending Ruby is the single most important event of his life.
Alex is arrogant and successful, he sees the world as his oyster and delights in every bite. Alex, and his grandfather Rafe, are alike in their world view, but Rafe has an uncontrollable temper and a mean streak where women are concerned.
Newly on his own, his father’s hard earned success has given him an advantage, but he has not forgotten that his family, while genteel, was not born to privilege.
Believing he is on his way up Trafficante’s chain of command, Arturo is arrogant, savvy, and has no problem muscling Remington into doing whatever benefits the mob.
Growing up as a Florida cracker, Eddie has an uneducated southerner’s stubbornness and feelings of self-importance. Wanting the good life, but unwilling to wait – or work - for it, Eddie has a gambling problem.
Eddie’s daughter, she has worked in the building all her adult life. A fixture in Ron’s law office, she rules with efficiency of a southern etiquette master.
Tricked into marriage, she makes the best of things as Eddie’s wife. Smart, pretty, and independent, she catches Remington’s eye.
Educated black northerner. Simultaneously respectful and suspicious, Ezra tries to look the other way until one evening, he just can’t anymore..
A singer at The Painted Fan, Betty is sweet, but uneducated. Loving Rafe is the last thing she ever does.
Ruby Brackett, Remington’s Cook
40-50 years old, feisty, very protective of Remington...when she's sober.
16. INT. – REMINGTON’S SALOON 1947 – FRONT ROOM
Who the hell are you?
REMINGTONEddie, you’ve got work to do.(to Ruby)
Beg your pardon, Miss, how did you get in here?
The door…the door was open.
(walks over to the door, it is unlocked)
Forgive me. Apparently it is open…
(looks at Arturo)
Did you open this?
Can I help you with something?
Um, yes…Ruby said I should come over here and work while she’s in Valdosta.
How do you know Ruby?
I don’t know her exactly, she was um, talking to my brother and mentioned she would be going and he volunteered me.
‘Volunteered’ you? You’re not from around here, are you?
Oh, no sir. I’ve been living with my grandparents in Charleston.
Sir? Hey Remi, you’re coming up in the world.
What’s your name?
Unable to tell them her real name, Ruby glances around, looking for a suggestion.
RUBY’S POV: Glances quickly around the bar, stops on the picture of the lady holding the painted fan.
Shannon. My name is Shannon.
Hughes. Shannon Hughes…she’s my kid sister, Remi.
Well, Shannon, er., Miss Hughes, you could not have gotten here at a better time, almost a life saver,
You’d ‘say?' You’re not from around here, are you?
You didn’t tell me you had a comedian for a sister.
Yeah, she’s so funny we had to send her to Charleston to cool her heels for two years. Grace still hasn’t forgiven her, which is why Ruby being out of town right now comes in handy for us, too.
What’d you do, Shannon, rob a bank?
(glances at Jerry)
Um, I’m not supposed to talk about it.
Damn right you’re not. Now get in the kitchen and see if you can make yourself useful. I’ll come back tonight and pick you up. You will not leave without me.
(looks at Remington)
Remi, downstairs help only. She’s not going upstairs, not even to dust.
Never go upstairs. If anyone tries to get you to go up there, yell for Jerry. If he’s not here, yell for me.
(looks at her hard)
I am serious about this.
Yes, sir. I understand.
See you later…Jerry.
Thanks for meetin’ me here this mornin’, Jerry. You bring anything besides your sister?
Yeah, I got a bag, don’t I always?
Shouldn’t you be captain by now?
Hell, no! Desk jobs‘ll kill ya.
Four tomorrow morning, Remi.
I’ll be here.
You don’t want to know and I can’t tell you.
Why don’t you just get out? You don’t need the money anymore.
(makes a sweeping gesture with his hand towards the painting)
I can’t Jerry. She’s all I have. This is the longest I’ve been in one place since I was eleven, and I am not leaving. I can’t. It’s, she’s home to me.
I can’t let her go.
Sure, Remi, I understand. It’s a beautiful place.
Keep an eye on my...sister, will ya? I’ll pick her up tonight after work. I know you’re busy, but try not to let her run off, okay?
Sure, but she doesn’t look like she’d be any trouble.
Yeah, ain’t they always the ones?