チェンジリング(2008年)

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[amazonjs asin=”B002AD9ENE” locale=”JP” title=”チェンジリング DVD”]FADE IN:

BLACK SCREEN

On which appears:

EVERYTHING YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE, HAPPENED

The words slowly FADE OUT, taking us hard into

EXT. COLLINS HOME – PRE-DAWN

A small, pleasant house on a tree-lined street in Los Angeles
circa 1928. 210 North Avenue 23. Not far from Dodger Stadium.

SUPERIMPOSE: LOS ANGELES, MARCH 9, 1928.

INT. COLLINS HOME – CHRISTINE’S BEDROOM – PRE-DAWN

A Bakelite alarm clock hits 6:30 A.M. and RINGS. CHRISTINE
COLLINS, thirties, attractive, rumpled, reaches INTO FRAME to
shut it off. She sits up, rubs tiredly at her face, and moves
OS, switching on a radio as she goes. Music fills the air.

INT. BATHROOM – MOMENTS LATER

She throws water on her face as the music continues. She
looks at herself in the mirror as the light flickers overhead.
She hits the wall offhandedly, something she does every day.
The flickering stops. With a last look at the mirror, she
smoothes back her hair and exits, switching off the light.

INT. WALTER’S BEDROOM – LATER
Dressed now, she flicks on the overhead light. WALTER COLLINS
is nine years old, with light brown hair, though we don’t see
much of it or him, he’s entangled in the sheets. It’s
important that we don’t see him too clearly in most of the
following scenes, but without drawing attention to that aspect.

CHRISTINE
Walter…time for school, honey.

She sits on the edge of the bed, runs a hand through his hair.

WALTER
Just ten more minutes —

CHRISTINE
Sorry, champ.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 2.


CHRISTINE (Cont’d)
You can sleep in all you want
tomorrow, that’s what Saturdays are
for. Now hurry up or your breakfast
will get cold.

WALTER
It’s cereal, it’s supposed to be
cold.

She smiles, kisses him on the forehead, and exits. He sits
on the edge of the bed, wavers, then falls back into bed again.

EXT. PASADENA AVENUE – MORNING

A street-car (known then as the Big Red) rumbles down the
street in the gray light of morning, passing Ford Model A’s
and Hudsons and Nash four-door sedans.

INT. STREET-CAR – CONTINUOUS

Christine sits on one of the benches, Walter’s face buried in
her lap, still half-asleep. She nudges him as they come to
an intersection by a grade school. It’s early enough that
only a few other kids have arrived.

CHRISTINE
We’re here, sweetie. Come on.

She hands him a sack lunch and follows as he slouches toward
the door. She watches from the curb as he heads toward the
school. Some of the teachers lounging outside nod to her as
Walter approaches, so she knows they’re aware that he’s there.

She waves, then hurriedly gets back on the street-car as it
rumbles away.


INT. PACIFIC TELEPHONE COMPANY – SWITCHBOARD ROOM – DAY
Located on Grand Avenue downtown, the huge switchboard room
is a maze of switching stations, tangles of wires and heavy
wooden headsets…a roar of buzzers, bells, circuits opening
and closing, and a hundred female operators speaking at once.

Supervisors on skates roll up and down the narrow lanes created
by the banks of switching stations, going from one operator
to another as needed. Christine is one of them. She turns
at the SOUND of a bell struck twice, then rolls down the lane
toward an OPERATOR frantically waving a pink sheet of paper.

CHRISTINE
Okay Sandy, what’s the prob–

The mortified operator hands her the headset and stalks off.

CHANGELING A True Story 3.


OPERATOR
You deal with this one, I’m not
going near it.

Christine struggles on the headset.

CHRISTINE
Hello? Yes, this is the supervisor,
ma’am, what can I —
(checks board)
Yes, I can see that you’re on a
party line, ma’am, what can I —
(beat)
I know, it’s unfortunate, but people
sometimes do listen in on party
lines. We hope to have private
lines installed by —
(beat)
Well, what’s he doing when you’re
on the phone?
(beat)
Are you sure? Maybe there’s a
problem with the phone line. He
could be asthmatic, or —
(beat)
Oh. No, I…I’ve never heard of
anything like that before either.
Guess there’s a first time for
everything, right? No, I’m afraid
there’s nothing we can do about
people abusing the equipment or…
themselves. I’m sorry. I —

She reacts to the phone being hung up hard at the other end
as the floor manager, BEN HARRIS, 30s, approaches.

MR. HARRIS
Everything all right?
CHRISTINE
Fine, Mr. Harris…fine…just
someone having a problem with a…
with the connection.

MR. HARRIS
Tell them to take the plug and shove
it in and out a few times, that’ll
usually do it.

CHRISTINE
Unfortunately that was part of the
problem. If you’ll excuse me….

She roller-skates off toward another operator waving another
pink sheet of paper.

CHANGELING A True Story 4.


EXT. PACIFIC TELEPHONE COMPANY – LUNCH AREA – DAY

Christine sits alone, eating a bag lunch and reading a thick
telephone company manual. Working hard to advance herself.

Then a bell rings: time to return to work. Other employees
gather up their belongings and start inside. As Christine
closes the book, her bookmark falls out. As she picks it up,
we see that it’s a child’s drawing: her and Walter (with arrows
indicating who is who) on a green hill, under an orange sun.

She touches the drawing and smiles as the bell rings again.
She grabs her belongs and heads back inside.

EXT. SCHOOL – AFTERNOON

Christine waits outside the school as another bell rings,
announcing the end of classes. Kids run outside, Walter among
them. He folds in alongside as they start down the sidewalk.

CHRISTINE
Hey, sport.

WALTER
Hey, mom.

CHRISTINE
So how was school?

WALTER
Okay. We learned about dinosaurs,
and I got in a fight with Billy
Mankowski.

CHRISTINE
What happened?

WALTER
He hit me.

CHRISTINE
Did you hit him back?
(he nods)
Good. Rule number one: Never start
a fight, but always finish it. So
why did he hit you?

WALTER
Because I hit him.

She stops, looks at him.

CHRISTINE
Wait…you hit him first?
(he nods)
Why?

CHANGELING A True Story 5.


WALTER
He said my dad ran off because he
didn’t like me.

CHRISTINE
Your dad never even had a chance to
meet you…so how could he not like
you?

WALTER
Then why did he leave?

Christine takes his hand, and they continue down the sidewalk.

CHRISTINE
Well, the same day you were born,
something else arrived. It came in
the mail, in a box just slightly
bigger than you. You know what was
in that box?
(he shakes head)
Something called responsibility.
Now, to some people, responsibility
is fun, it’s what you live your
whole life for. Other people think
it’s the scariest thing in the world.

WALTER
So he ran away because he was scared
of what was in the box?

CHRISTINE
Yup.

WALTER
That’s dumb.

CHRISTINE
That’s what I thought.

She turns and crouches down in front of him.

CHRISTINE
Walter, I decided a long time ago
that I would always tell you the
truth, that I would treat you like
a grown-up. I can’t expect you to
respect me unless I respect you.
(beat)
I’ve never lied to you. Your father
leaving had nothing to do with you,
and everything to do with what was
in the responsibility box.

WALTER
Pinky-swear?

CHANGELING A True Story 6.


CHRISTINE
Pinky-swear.

She takes his pinky in hers, gives a tug. He smiles.

CHRISTINE
First one to the corner store gets
ice cream!

He laughs and tears off. She runs after him, letting him
stay ahead of her the whole way.

EXT. COLLINS HOME – LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

Walter is asleep on the floor, in front of the radio, which
is playing the closing moments of Amos and Andy. Christine
enters and turns off the radio. He stirs, looks up at her.

WALTER
Did I miss Amos and Andy?

CHRISTINE
I’m afraid so, sport. Come on now,
time for bed.

She picks him up and carries him up the stairs.

WALTER
Are we still going to the movies
tomorrow?

CHRISTINE
Uh-huh. I hear there’s a new Charlie
Chaplin playing down at Grauman’s,
and a new serial called The
Mysterious Airman.

WALTER
Who’s that?

CHRISTINE
I don’t know. Nobody does. That’s
what makes him so mysterious.

WALTER
Oh. Am I too heavy for you to carry?

CHRISTINE
Not for years yet, Walter. Not for
years.

And she disappears upstairs.

EXT. COLLINS HOME – MORNING

Just enough to bring us into

CHANGELING A True Story 7.


INT. COLLINS HOME – CHRISTINE’S BEDROOM – MORNING

She’s getting ready for the day and is almost out of the room
when the phone rings. She hesitates, then picks it up.

SUPERIMPOSE: MARCH 10, 1928

CHRISTINE
Hello?
(beat)
Oh, hello, Margaret. I’m fine,
thanks. No, I was just —
(beat)
You’re kidding. When did she call
in sick?
(checks watch)
What about Myrna? I know she could
use the extra hours. Oh. No, it’s
just…I promised Walter I’d take
him to the movies today. There has
to be somebody else….
(beat)
All right, I…guess we can do it
tomorrow. I’ll get there as soon
as I can. But just until four,
okay? See you in a bit.

She hangs up. She doesn’t like this, but there’s no way out
of it. She straightens and heads out of the room.

INT. COLLINS HOME – LIVING ROOM – MOMENTS LATER

A disappointed Walter sits on the couch as Christine puts
things together quickly.

CHRISTINE
There’s a sandwich and milk in the
icebox, and I’ve asked Mrs. Riley
if her daughter can stop by in a
couple of hours, just to —

WALTER
I can take care of myself.

CHRISTINE
Of course you can. She’s coming by
to check on the house, not you.

She stops in front of him, kneels down to eye height.

CHRISTINE
Tomorrow, we’ll go to the movies.
Then we’ll ride the Big Red down to
Santa Monica and walk on the pier.
How’s that? That okay?
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 8.


CHRISTINE (Cont’d)
(he nods)
Good. I’ll be back before it gets
dark.

WALTER
I’m not afraid of the dark. I’m
not afraid of anything.

CHRISTINE
I know you’re not, honey. That’s
how I raised you.
(kisses his head)
Be good. See you in a bit.

She heads out, the screen door clattering shut behind her.

EXT. COLLINS HOME – CONTINUOUS

She crosses the lawn and turns at the sidewalk, glancing back
as Walter looks out at her from the window. She waves. He
waves back. With one last look, she continues off.

INT. PACIFIC TELEPHONE COMPANY – SWITCHBOARD ROOM – DAY

If the place was hectic before, now it’s even worse: lines
buzzing, voices chattering, operators following Christine
around with papers and question.

OPERATORS
We’ve got lines jammed from here to
Ohio…he insists on talking to
someone in charge…I’ve tried
everything and the console’s just
dead…I need your signature here
for a supply requisition….

Christine glances up at the clock, 4:39. She’s already late.
But she does what’s necessary.

CHRISTINE
All right, get me the Omaha routing
station, see if we can put the calls
through their switchers…and let’s
get that console running….

She hurries off to take care of it all, the others following.

INT. PACIFIC TELEPHONE COMPANY – HALLWAY – LATER

START on a clock which reads 5:20, then TILT DOWN as Christine
comes out of the switchboard room, pulling on a sweater, ready
to leave…as the floor manager steps out of his office.

CHANGELING A True Story 9.


MR. HARRIS
Christine…good, I was hoping to
catch you. I’ve been following
your work reports, and I just want
you to know that I’m very impressed.

She glances down the block. The street car is approaching,
but she doesn’t want to piss off her boss by running off.

MR. HARRIS
When I first suggested hiring female
supervisors, my superiors weren’t
big on the idea. But you’ve held
your own as well as any of our male
supervisors, and —

CHRISTINE
Thank you, Mr. Harris, but I —

MR. HARRIS
Ben, please. Point is, we’re looking
for someone to take on a managerial
position in our new Beverly Hills
office. If you’re interested I can —

CHRISTINE
That’s great, Mr. Harris, I really
appreciate the vote of confidence.

MR. HARRIS
Good, good…so maybe we could —

She looks up to see the streetcar right at the stop.

CHRISTINE
I’m sorry, but I really have to go.
We’ll talk on Monday. Good night!
She races out to

EXT. PACIFIC TELEPHONE COMPANY – CONTINUOUS

running after the streetcar as it closes its doors.

CHRISTINE
Wait…wait…hold on, just a —

But the streetcar rumbles away before she can catch it.
Frustrated, she glances at her watch and sighs resignedly.

INT. STREET-CAR – EARLY EVENING

Christine sits on the front bench, watching as the shadows
lengthen, then pulls the bell. The car rumbles to a stop as
she steps out onto the sidewalk.

CHANGELING A True Story 10.


EXT. STREET – EARLY EVENING

She passes a grocery store, where a clock reads 6:15, and
continues past other houses on the pleasant, green street.
We HEAR parents telling their kids to come in for dinner,
radios playing music or radio dramas. Peaceful, charming.
Christine smiles, turns the corner, looks to her house —

— and it’s dark, closed up. No lights on inside, no music
or dramas on the radio. Dead silent.

Christine pauses, then picks up her pace. No need to panic,
he could be upstairs asleep, could be in the back of the house,
where the lights wouldn’t show.

She goes to the front door. It’s unlocked. She enters —

INT. COLLINS HOME – LIVING ROOM – EVENING

It’s dark, silent. She puts her purse down. Looks around.

CHRISTINE
Walter?

Nothing. She goes into

INT. KITCHEN

switching on lights as she goes. Nothing. She checks the
refrigerator. The sandwich she made Walter is untouched.
She moves to the staircase.

CHRISTINE
Walter…?

INT. WALTER’S ROOM

She opens the door to his room. No Walter.
EXT. COLLINS HOUSE

She crosses to the sidewalk. Looks up and down the street.

CHRISTINE
Walter? Honey? Time to come in.

A little GIRL on a tricycle rolls past.

CHRISTINE
Susie honey, have you seen Walter?

GIRL
Nuh-uh.

The girl continues away. Christine’s concerned, but she hasn’t
hit the panic button, not yet. She crosses the street to —

CHANGELING A True Story 11.


EXT. RILEY HOUSE

— and rings the doorbell. The door opens and MRS. RILEY,
forties, emerges.

CHRISTINE
Mrs. Riley, I’m sorry to bother you
at dinnertime, but I was wondering
if Walter was here.

MRS. RILEY
No, I’m afraid not.

CHRISTINE
Do you know if Jamie was able to
look in on him?

MRS. RILEY
Well, I mentioned it to her, but
she was going to a dance with some
of her friends…you know how
teenagers are. Is everything all
right?

CHRISTINE
I’m sure it’s fine, I just…
(beat)
Thank you, Mrs. Riley.

Christine heads away.

EXT. STREET

Christine stops at the sidewalk in front of her house, looks
up and down the street, arms folded against the growing chill.

CHRISTINE
Walter…? Walter….
She starts walking again. Faster now. Looking around trees
and porches, anywhere a nine-year-old boy might hide. She
hears children playing. Laughing. She picks up her pace,
homing in on the sound.

She turns the corner to find three children playing, none of
them Walter. She looks down the ominously empty streets.

Her worry growing, she heads to the house. Faster now. Heels
clicking on the hard sidewalk.

INT. COLLINS HOUSE – LIVING ROOM

She bursts in, leaving the door open, looking around in case
he came in while she was out. Nothing. She crosses to the
phone, hesitates for just a BEAT, then picks up the receiver.

CHANGELING A True Story 12.


CHRISTINE
Yes, Operator, give me the police.

There’s a long pause as she waits, looks out the window, then:

POLICE DISPATCHER (on phone)
Lincoln Heights Division.

CHRISTINE
Yes, hello, my name is Christine
Collins, I live at 210 North Avenue
23…I’m calling to report a missing
child…it’s my son, he….

POLICE DISPATCHER (on phone)
How long has he been gone?

CHRISTINE
I’m not sure…I just got home from
work and…it could be since late
this morning, it could be just an
hour —

POLICE DISPATCHER (on phone)
Have you checked around the
neighborhood?

CHRISTINE
Yes, of course, I —

POLICE DISPATCHER (on phone)
Maybe he lost track of the time.

CHRISTINE
No, he always stays around the house
when it starts to get dark. Can
you please send someone down here?
POLICE DISPATCHER (on phone)
I’m sorry, but our policy is that
we don’t dispatch units on missing
child cases for twenty-four hours.

CHRISTINE
What? But that’s —

POLICE DISPATCHER (on phone)
Ninety-nine times out of a hundred
the kid shows up by morning. We
don’t have the resources to go
chasing every kid who runs off with
his pals and —

CHRISTINE
That’s not Walter, he doesn’t do
that.

CHANGELING A True Story 13.


POLICE DISPATCHER (on phone)
With all due respect, ma’am, every
parent who calls us says the same
thing.

CHRISTINE
Please, I —

POLICE DISPATCHER (on phone)
I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I
can do. I’ll take your name and
information, but that’s all until
tomorrow morning at the earliest.

EXT. STREET – MOMENTS LATER

Christine walks down the street, arms wrapped around herself.

POLICE DISPATCHER (V.O.)
I’m sure he’ll show up by then.
They always do.

She continues on, calling Walter’s name as she disappears
into the shadows.

INT. COLLINS HOME – LIVING ROOM – MORNING

Christine watches out the curtained living room windows, eyes
red rimmed from worry but not from tears, not yet, as a police
car finally pulls up. Neighbors look on as the officers get
out and approach the house. HOLD on Christine’s face, pale
and worried, UNDER:

REV. BRIEGLEB (V.O.)
Our thoughts go out again to Mrs.
Christine Collins, of Lincoln Heights —

EXT. ST. PAUL’S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH – DAY
Located at 5100 Coliseum Street

REV. BRIEGLEB (V.O.)
— whose young son, Walter Collins,
disappeared almost two weeks ago.

INT. ST. PAUL’S CHURCH – DAY

A large radio microphone with the call letters KGF is atop a
podium, where PASTOR GUSTAV BRIEGLEB stands: fifties, barrel
chested, no-nonsense, a fire-and-brimstone preacher. His
congregation sits in hard wooden pews, listening and nodding.

REV. BRIEGLEB
Though she is not a member of our
congregation, we pray for her today
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 14.


REV. BRIEGLEB (Cont’d)
as we have every day since we first
learned of her situation on the
radio, and in the newspapers.
(beat)
We are told that the Los Angeles
Police Department is doing the best
it can to reunite mother and child,
and I am sure that is true.
(beat)
But given its position as the most
violent, corrupt and incompetent
police department this side of the
Rocky Mountains, that’s not saying
a great deal.

There’s APPLAUSE and cheering from the pews. He lets it pass.

REV. BRIEGLEB
Every day, new bodies show up along
Mulholland, or in ditches, the work
of Police Chief James Davis and his
so-called “gun squad.” Every day
the needs of honest citizens are
put second to greed and personal
gain. Every day, the city sinks
deeper into a cesspool of fear,
intimidation and corruption. Once
the City of Angels, Los Angeles is
now a place where our protectors
have become our brutalizers…where
to be the law…is to be above the
law…where none dare speak truth
to power.
(beat)
But we will not be silent. We will
continue to put their offenses and
their failures in full view of the
public. We will not be intimidated.

The place erupts into applause and cheering.

INT. POLICE CHIEF JAMES DAVIS’ OFFICE – DAY

POLICE CHIEF JAMES E. DAVIS, 40s, hard-edged and tall, stands
looking out the window as the radio drones on behind him.

REV. BRIEGLEB (on radio)
Because while the “gun squad” speaks
in the only language Chief Davis
understands, we speak in the language
of compassion, truth and strength.
We speak for our fellow citizens,
beaten and killed by a renegade
police department.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 15.


REV. BRIEGLEB (on radio) (Cont’d)
We speak for an innocent child,
ripped from his mother’s arms, now
all but forgotten by the police.
And that voice, my friends, will
never be silenced.

More cheers and applause as Davis switches off the radio.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. COLLINS HOME – CHRISTINE’S BEDROOM – MORNING

The alarm goes off, but Christine is already awake. Staring
up at the ceiling. She slowly pulls herself up and moves OS.

SUPERIMPOSE: APRIL 3, 1928

INT. WALTER’S BEDROOM – MORNING

Christine walks past the door to his bedroom. Looks inside.
Goes over to the bed. Her hand lingers, touching it, UNDER:

MR. HARRIS (V.O.)
Are you sure you’re ready for this,
Christine?

INT. PACIFIC TELEPHONE COMPANY – HALLWAY – DAY

Christine and Mr. Harris, the floor manager, approach the
doors to the switchboard room.

MR. HARRIS
I mean, if you need more time —

CHRISTINE
The police are doing all they can,
and frankly I could use the money.
It’s been almost a month, and…it
wouldn’t do any good to find Walter
and bring him home if he doesn’t
have a home to come back to, right?

MR. HARRIS
Of course.

He smiles as he says it, but there’s the sense that he doesn’t
think Walter’s coming back. It’s been too long. She senses
it, but moves past it, pushing open the door and entering

INT. SWITCHBOARD ROOM – CONTINUOUS

As loud as before…until the operators see Christine, and
the noise stops. She tries to smile, as if to say, I’m okay,
but can’t quite manage it.

CHANGELING A True Story 16.


Several women approach and hug her as the noise level begins
to climb, but nowhere near what it was a moment earlier.

MR. HARRIS
Well…I’ll leave you to it, then.

She nods as he exits, then heads off herself.

INT. SWITCHBOARD ROOM – LATER

Christine moves from station to station, the noise level still
noticeably low. Every time she approaches an operator, they
lower their voices, as if not to bother her.

One operator holds up a pink request sheet. Christine starts
toward her, but then the operator glances to another supervisor
and hands it off. Knowing she has to do something about this,
she turns to the room and, in a firm, clear voice, says:

CHRISTINE
Excuse me, can I have your attention?

The room grows quiet. Everyone is looking at her.

CHRISTINE
Listen, everyone, I appreciate your
consideration, but I’m not made of
porcelain. I won’t break down and
cry if the station to station call
to Kankakee doesn’t go through.
(a thin smile)
Actually, I…promised myself that
I wouldn’t cry…wouldn’t let myself
cry…until I knew, one way or
another, what….
(beat)
Point is…I like the noise here.
So don’t be afraid to talk and…push
buttons, and drop things. If it
wasn’t noisy, how would I know I
was in the right place?

She manages a thin smile as the place returns to normal.

EXT. PHONE COMPANY LUNCH AREA – AFTERNOON

Mr. Harris steps out into the lunch area where a number of
the operators and supervisors are hanging out.

MR. HARRIS
Excuse me, has anyone seen Christine?

OPERATOR
I think I saw her in the back office.

He nods his thanks, and continues off.

CHANGELING A True Story 17.


INT. PHONE COMPANY – BACK OFFICE – MOMENTS LATER

He approaches the door, slowing as he HEARS Christine inside.

CHRISTINE (O.S.)
— well, if you do hear anything,
would you let me know? Thanks, I
appreciate it. Goodbye.

A hang-up, then dialing. He glances in the open doorway.

Christine sits at a table, phone in hand, a list of phone
numbers in front of her. The list reads LAS VEGAS MISSING
PERSONS DEPARTMENT, SACRAMENTO MISSING PERSONS DEPARTMENT,
SAN FRANCISCO MISSING PERSONS DEPARTMENT…on and on…with
each having multiple checks beside it, indicating all the
times she’s called. Her lunch sits untouched beside her.

She puts a check next to LAS VEGAS MISSING PERSONS DEPARTMENT
then looks up as someone answers at the other end of the phone.

CHRISTINE
Missing Persons department, please.
(beat)
Yes, hello, this is Christine
Collins, I…yes, fine, thank you.
I was just checking back to see if
you had found any missing or lost
children that might match the —
(beat)
I see. No, I appreciate that, it’s
just…it never hurts to make sure
all the lines of communication are
working. I mean, that’s what I do
for a living, right?
(beat)
Well, I’ll try back next week. If
you do hear anything in the meantime,
would you be sure to let me know?
Thanks. Goodbye.

She hangs up and ticks another department off the list and
dials again. Mr. Harris heads away, deciding that whatever
it was he planned to talk to her about…it can wait.

CHRISTINE
Missing persons department, please.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. DINER – AFTERNOON

A single car is parked in the dirt lot outside the small,
roadside diner.

SUPERIMPOSE: DE KALB, ILLINOIS. JULY 10, 1928

CHANGELING A True Story 18.


INT. DINER – CONTINUOUS

THe COOK who owns this dive is cleaning the griddle and keeping
an eye on the only two customers in the place: a MAN and a
young BOY, both wearing hats, as was the custom. They’re
unkempt, dirty, like they’ve been on the road a long time.
They finish the last of the food as the cook approaches, tears
off the bill and puts it on the table.

COOK
Two dollars.

The Man reaches for his wallet. Pats an empty pocket. Tries
the other pocket. Nothing.

MAN
Hell…looks like I left my wallet
at home. Can I owe it to you?

COOK
No credit. Pay up or I call the
cops. I’m tired of bums like you
coming around here.

MAN
I’m not trying to stiff you, chief.
I just left my wallet at home, that’s
all. I’ll go back and get it.
Five, ten minutes tops.

The Cook hesitates; he doesn’t want the trouble of bringing
in the cops, but he doesn’t want to get stuck, either.

COOK
You got any collateral?

The Man glances at the Boy seated beside him. The boy’s face
is dirty, partially obscured by the hat.
MAN
Can’t ask for better collateral
than a man’s own flesh and blood,
right?
(to the boy)
You stay here, son, I’ll be right
back.

BOY
But —

MAN
Now don’t give me any trouble.
He’s a good man to trust us like
this. You just sit here while I go
get my wallet. Okay?

CHANGELING A True Story 19.


The boy nods reluctantly, looks away as the man rises.

COOK
Ten minutes, then I’m calling the
cops.

The Man nods, exits and drives off. The Cook squints warily
at the Boy, then at the wall clock. It’s 2:00.

EXT. DINER – LATER

No car. Just the empty parking lot.

INT. DINER – ON CLOCK

It’s 3:15. The Cook is annoyed. He glances to the Boy, who
won’t meet his gaze. Finally:

COOK
Ah, hell….

He goes to the phone. Clicks the receiver a few times.

COOK
Hello, Myrtle? It’s Harve, down by
the diner. Would you get me Sheriff
Larsen? Yeah, I’ll wait.

He casts a sour look in the boy’s direction.

COOK
What’s your name, son? Son…?

The boy takes a BEAT, looking out at the road. Then:

BOY
I don’t remember.
COOK
Swell.

INT. PACIFIC TELEPHONE COMPANY – SWITCHBOARD ROOM – DAY

As before, Christine hurries from one station to another,
lost in the barely-managed chaos. She stops at one station,
glancing over papers, then looks over at —

— the window to Mr. Harris’ office, where he is talking with
a police officer, CAPTAIN J. J. JONES, 30s, serious, arch.

She slows, unable to look away, a growing dread settling in
her heart. Harris points out the window. Points…to her.
The police captain nods and enters the switchboard room.

As Jones heads for her, the strength goes out of Christine’s
legs. She holds onto the a desk as he stops before her.

CHANGELING A True Story 20.


JONES
Mrs. Collins?

She manages a nod. Behind her eyes is the terror: he’s going
to tell me my son is dead. The room gets very quiet.

JONES
My name is Captain J. J. Jones,
Lincoln Park Juvenile Division. My
office supervises all runaway and
missing child cases, including your
son’s, and….
(beat, a smile)
He’s alive, Mrs. Collins. He was
picked up two days ago by local
police in De Kalb, Illinois. He’s
safe and unhurt. He was in the
company of some drifter, we’ve got
an APB out for him now, and —

But she hasn’t heard anything past he’s safe and unhurt. She
almost goes to the floor as other women rush toward her, crying
and embracing her.

For the first time, Christine cries, great wracking sobs, all
the emotion she’s been fighting back all this time coming out
at last…he’s okay…he’s okay.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. UNION STATION – DAY

Jones and Christine are in a police car pulling up to the
train station. It moves through a police line holding back a
crowd of reporters who SHOUT questions at the passing car.

CHRISTINE
All these reporters…you didn’t
tell me —

JONES
Yours is a story with a happy ending,
Mrs. Collins. People love happy
endings.
(checks watch)
Train should be pulling in shortly.
We’d better get a move on.

As Christine and Jones step out, they’re mobbed by the press.
Jones smiles splendidly for the cameras, waves, one arm wrapped
around Christine, who looks stunned by it all.

JONES
Thank you…we’ll have a statement
for you in a little while.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 21.


JONES (Cont’d)
Right now the important thing is to
re-unite this little lady with her
son. So if you’ll excuse us….

Beaming, Jones escorts Christine into Union Station.

INT. TRAIN – DAY

Seated on a bench is a POLICE MATRON, and beside her, the BOY
from the De Kalb diner…who we will identify henceforth as
“Walter.” He is looking out the window at the passing scenery.

“WALTER”
Did you know that Los Angeles is
where they make the Tom Mix movies?

MATRON
No, I didn’t.

“WALTER”
His horse is named Blue.
(beat)
You think they’ll let me watch them
make a movie?

MATRON
I don’t know, you’ll have to ask.
But with all this attention, who
knows, maybe they will.

The boy turns his attention back out the window as we HEAR
the WHISTLE of the train pulling into Union Station.

INT. UNION STATION – TRAIN PLATFORM – DAY

We HEAR the same train whistle from this side as Christine
and Jones come to the ramp, POLICE CHIEF DAVIS is waiting.
The reporters are held back at the entrance to the platform.

JONES
Mrs. Collins, I’d like to introduce
you to Chief of Police James E.
Davis.

CHRISTINE
Oh, my, I didn’t expect —

DAVIS
We don’t get a lot of positive
attention from the boys in the press
these days, so it’s good to be here
when there’s a positive story, don’t
you think?

CHANGELING A True Story 22.


But she’s distracted, looking off to the end of the platform,
where the train is starting to pull in.

DAVIS
I take it you’ve been treated well
by my boys in the department?

CHRISTINE
Oh…yes, of course, they’ve been
great. Well, there was that part
about having to wait twenty-four
hours before filing a report, but —

DAVIS
Technicalities aside —

The train stops. Doors begin to open.

CHRISTINE
Yes…other than that, no complaints.
They’ve all been wonderful.

DAVIS
Good, then you won’t have any problem
telling that to the press, and how
the LAPD is concerned first and
foremost with the safety of —

But she’s already running down the platform as people start
to step off the train. Jones exchanges a look with Davis.

JONES
Women. Just a sec….

He trots off to catch up with Christine, who walks alongside
the train, looking from window to window, anxious, eager.

Then: the Matron gets off the train, her frame momentarily
blocking the view of the boy beside her…but Christine spots
them. With Jones not far behind, she breaks into a run.

CHRISTINE
Walter…Walter!

She runs toward them. The matron turns, sees her, smiles and
gets out of the way, revealing the boy.

Christine stops. Staggers so hard she almost falls. She
steps forward slowly, a hand going to her mouth. For a moment,
we’re not sure what’s going through her mind. She looks to
the matron, who smiles. Looks to the boy, who smiles.

Then she steps back a pace, horror sinking in as Jones comes
jauntily alongside her.

CHANGELING A True Story 23.


JONES
Well? Aren’t you going to —

CHRISTINE
He’s not my son.

Jones freezes at the words.

JONES
I…what are you —

CHRISTINE
He’s not my son.
(beat)
He’s not my son.

JONES
I’m…I’m sure you’re mistaken.

CHRISTINE
Mistaken?

JONES
He’s been through four long, terrible
months…he’s gone through changes,
lost weight —

CHRISTINE
I know my own son.

He glances over his shoulder to where the Chief of Police is
waiting, not aware of any of this, and beyond him…the press.

JONES
I’m just saying…I mean, you’re in
shock, and he’s changed, and —

He turns from her, stoops down to look at the boy.
JONES
What’s your name, son? Can you
tell me your name?

“WALTER”
Walter Collins.

Christine steps back as though slapped. This can’t be.

CHRISTINE
It’s a common name, it —

JONES
Do you know where you live, Walter?
Do you know your home address?

The boy considers for a moment…then:

CHANGELING A True Story 24.


“WALTER”
My house is at 210 North Avenue 23,
Los Angeles, California.
(beat)
And that’s my Mommy!

And he RUNS to her, grabbing her around the waist, which only
magnifies her horror. Jones has no idea what to make of her,
or this, or the boy. The only thing he knows is that the
chief of police is standing right over there, smiling now
that he thinks he’s seen a mother and child reunion. The
press is nearly insane trying to get through to them.

JONES
Mrs. Collins…listen to me. I
know you’re feeling uncertain right
now, but that’s to be expected…a
boy this age changes so fast…but
we’ve compensated for that in our
investigation. We’re experts in
child identification. There’s no
question that this is your son.

CHRISTINE
It’s not Walter.

JONES
It’s not Walter as you remember him.
That’s why it’s important for you
to take him home, on a…trial basis.

CHRISTINE
A trial basis?

JONES
Once you’ve put him back in familiar
surroundings, and given yourself
time to recover from the shock of
his changed condition…you’ll see
that it is him. I swear to you,
Mrs. Collins. I give you my word.
Trust me…this is your son.

She looks from him to the boy…who is not terribly dissimilar
from Walter…so that even the audience may not be entirely
sure if it’s him or not…and part of her wants desperately
to believe…the pressure is immense.

JONES
If there’s any problem, any problem
at all, come and talk to me and
I’ll take care of it.
(beat)
Mrs. Collins…he has nowhere else
to go.

CHANGELING A True Story 25.


It’s an agonizing moment, then finally:

CHRISTINE
I…look, I’ll take him home, but
only because I…might not be
thinking clearly right now, and —

JONES
Thank you.

Without giving her a moment to reconsider, he waves and the
Chief of Police approaches as the press rushes toward them.

In an instant, they’re overwhelmed by people shouting
questions, flashbulbs popping, a fever of excitement.

REPORTERS
How does it feel to have your son
home, Mrs. Collins? What did you
think when you saw him for the first
time?

CHRISTINE
It was…it’s…hard to explain.

JONES
(jumping in)
It was certainly quite a shock. At
first she hardly recognized him.
Perfectly natural, the boy’s been
through quite an ordeal.

REPORTER
How’re you feeling, son? Bet it
feels great to be home.

“WALTER”
Yeah, it’s great!
DAVIS
The Los Angeles Police Department
is thankful for all the hard work
done by the De Kalb County Sheriff’s
Department in helping to make this
joyful reunion possible. The LAPD
is dedicated to serving the public
at all times, and —

ANOTHER REPORTER
Can we get a photo of mother and
son, Captain?

CHRISTINE
I —

CHANGELING A True Story 26.


JONES
Absolutely.

He poses Christine and “Walter” so she is holding the boy in
her arms. Dazed, stunned, confused, she manages to smile for
the cameras. Bulbs FLASH and —

— time SLOWS DOWN, the SOUND MUTED, as Christine looks around
at it all as though in a dream…reporters shouting questions
she doesn’t hear…bulbs flashing…the boy beside her, smiling
at it all. He looks at her, mouths the word Mommy, as —

INT. POLICE CAR – MOMENTS LATER

— the car door SLAMS and she and the boy sit side by side.
The silence is in profound contrast to the madness of a moment
earlier. An officer gets in they drive off, passing Jones
and the Chief of Police, talking quietly off to one side.

Christine looks to the boy. He smiles at her.

INT. COLLINS HOUSE – KITCHEN – NIGHT

The only noise is the clock on the wall, ticking. Christine
sits at one end of the table, “Walter” at the other. Studying
him. He is finishing a sandwich, not meeting her gaze.

CHRISTINE
Was the sandwich all right?
(he nods)
Would you like some more milk?

“WALTER”
No.

CHRISTINE
No, thank you.
“WALTER”
No, thank you.

CHRISTINE
Now you need a bath. You’re covered
with soot from the train ride.

He turns, and heads up the stairs. She follows.

INT. HALLWAY FRONTING BATHROOM – LATER

Carrying a pair of pajamas, Christine comes into the hall and
stops in front of the bathroom door. Knocks.

CHRISTINE
I found you a pair of pajamas. I
bought them for Walter but he didn’t
like the fabric, so —

CHANGELING A True Story 27.


“WALTER” (O.S.)
Ow!

She hears him fall and pushes the door open.

INT. BATHROOM

She helps “Walter” stand, discreetly turned away from us.

CHRISTINE
Are you all right?

“WALTER”
I fell. Stupid tub.

CHRISTINE
Did you hurt yourself? Let me see —

She stops suddenly, reacting to something we don’t see.
Looks slowly looks up to his face.

CHRISTINE
…circumcised….

She takes his hand and marches him out of the bathroom.

INT. HALLWAY

She places him against the wall where she measured Walter’s
growth over the years. The marks put him four inches shorter
than the one labeled March. She looks at him, very serious.

CHRISTINE
The last time I measured Walter —
the last time I measured my son —
he was four inches taller than you
are right now.
(beat)
Who are you?
(beat)
What are you doing here?
(beat)
Who are you?

He says nothing. HOLD on her look of growing desperation.

INT. POLICE STATION – HALLWAY – DAY

Jones walks quickly down the hall, trying to look interested
in a clutch of papers in his hands, Christine following after.

CHRISTINE
He’s not my son.

JONES
Mrs. Collins —

CHANGELING A True Story 28.


CHRISTINE
I don’t know who he is, or why he’s
saying he’s Walter, but there’s
clearly been some kind of mistake.

JONES
We agreed you would give him time
to adjust —

CHRISTINE
He’s four inches shorter than Walter.
Boys his age don’t shrink. If
anything, he should be taller.

JONES
Maybe your measurements are off.
Look, I’m sure there’s a reasonable
explanation for —

CHRISTINE
He’s circumcised. Walter wasn’t.

Jones glances back, uncomfortable about discussing circumcision
with a woman in public view. He lowers his voice.

JONES
Mrs. Collins…your son was missing
for four months. For at least part
of that in the company of an as-yet
unidentified drifter. Who knows
what such a disturbed individual
might have done? He could have had
him…circumcised… might have —

CHRISTINE
Made him smaller? Captain, please —

He’s on the move again, stepping into —
INT. JONES’ OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

— and getting behind his desk as Christine follows him in.

CHRISTINE
— why won’t you listen to me?

JONES
I am listening, damn it, I —
(beat, calmer)
I am listening. And I understand
your feelings. He’s changed, no
mistake. You’ve both been through
a terrible experience. That’s why
he needs your support and love to
bounce back.

CHANGELING A True Story 29.


CHRISTINE
Captain, that boy wouldn’t bounce
back as my son if you coated him in
rubber and dropped him off the roof.

He sits, shaking his head.

JONES
Why are you doing this, Mrs. Collins?
You seem perfectly capable of taking
care of the boy, your work pays you
enough to attend to his personal
needs…so I don’t understand why
you’re trying to run away from your
responsibilities —

CHRISTINE
I’m not running away from anything,
least of all my responsibilities.
I’m even taking care of that boy
because right now I’m all he has.
What worries me is that you’ve
stopped looking for Walter.

JONES
Why should we look someone we’ve
already found?

CHRISTINE
But you haven’t found him. He’s
still out there somewhere, lost,
maybe hurt….

JONES
His identity has been confirmed by
the best minds in the field of child
identification, people who know
what they’re doing.
CHRISTINE
And I don’t? Captain, look, I don’t
want to cause trouble for you or
the department. Honestly I don’t.
I know you’ve done everything you
can…but there’s been a terrible
mistake, and I need your help if
we’re going to correct it…before
it’s too late. Please.

She exits. Annoyed, Jones paces, then picks up the phone.

JONES
Sara, get Dr. Tarr on the phone.

CHANGELING A True Story 30.


INT. COLLINS HOME – DAY

Christine is cooking dinner when the doorbell rings. She
opens the door to find a police officer and DR. EARL W. TARR,
sixties, mildly eccentric in appearance.

DR. TARR
Mrs. Collins? Dr. Earl W. Tarr.
Captain Jones sent me. I consult
with him from time to time on
juvenile cases. May I come in?

CHRISTINE
Oh…yes, of course.

She steps aside, and Dr. Tarr enters, looking around.

CHRISTINE
Thank you for coming. I’m surprised
Captain Jones moved so quickly. I
was starting to think he didn’t
believe me.

DR. TARR
Well, I’m here now, and we’ll put
all that to rights. Where is the
boy?

He looks up as “Walter” comes downstairs. Noting that he
said “the boy,” not “your son,” Christine looks relieved.

DR. TARR
Ah! There he is. A handsome young
man. He has your eyes, doesn’t he?
And a little bit of the nose. Very
fit, in spite of all his travails.
A very resilient boy you’ve got
here, Mrs. Collins.
As he bends down to look more closely at “Walter,” Christine
stiffens…she can’t have heard that right.

CHRISTINE
Doctor Tarr, I thought you were
here to help me.

DR. TARR
I am. Captain Jones said the boy
had gone through some extreme
physical changes, and asked me to
look in on him…to reassure you in
this your time of motherly concern.

CHRISTINE
My “motherly concern” isn’t for him
because he’s not my son.

CHANGELING A True Story 31.


DR. TARR
Statements like that will hardly
help the boy’s self-esteem, now
will they?
(beat)
Captain Jones said something about
a change in height…?

CHRISTINE
He’s four inches shorter than —

DR. TARR
Ah, well…hardly a mystery, Mrs.
Collins. We’ve known for some time
that trauma can affect the growth
of children. Given the stress of
the last four months his spine may
have actually shrunk. It’s uncommon,
but within the realm of possibility.

CHRISTINE
What about the circumcision?

DR. TARR
Very likely his abductor thought it
appropriate. After all, circumcision
is hygienically sound. Must have
been quite traumatic at the time.
No wonder he’s submerged the memory.

CHRISTINE
Look, doctor —

DR. TARR
As you can see, there’s a perfectly
sound medical explanation for all
of this. But it’s good for you to
raise these questions. You should
be apprised of all changes the lad
went through during his absence.

CHRISTINE
Wouldn’t I know whether or not he
was my son? I’m his mother.

DR. TARR
Which means you’re in no position
to be objective. You are looking
through the prism of extreme emotion
at a boy who has changed from what
you remember. He isn’t the same
boy that left here, just as a boy
who goes off to war and returns
isn’t the same anymore.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 32.


DR. TARR (Cont’d)
A mother’s heart, driven by intuition
and emotion rather than logic, sees
these changes and rebels, insists
that this cannot be your son. But
that doesn’t change the facts.
(beat)
I’m willing to put my theory to the
test of objectivity, Mrs. Collins…
are you?

CHRISTINE
What’re you —

Before she can react, he takes Walter by the hand and leads
him outside. Christine follows them out to —

EXT. COLLINS HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

— as Dr. Tarr strides onward, the police officer and “Walter”
walking alongside as Christine brings up the rear. A few
houses down they come to a group of CHILDREN playing.

DR. TARR
Hello, children, my name is Dr.
Earl W. Tarr. I’d like to ask you
some questions.

1ST KID
My mom says we’re not supposed to
talk to strangers.

DR. TARR
Good boy. Quite right. But as you
see I’m with the police, so it’s
all right. Now, I’m sure you know
Mrs. Collins here, and her son,
Walter. How many of you recognize
this young boy as Walter Collins?

He looks from one child to the other. They don’t reply.
Either they don’t recognize him, or they’re intimidated.

DR. TARR
Now, now, no need to be afraid.
Surely you knew Walter, and played
with him? So which of you can
identify Walter for me, for his
mother, and for the police? This
officer would want you to do the
right thing as good young citizens.

The kids exchange a glance. It’s clear they don’t recognize
the boy, but they’re intimidated by the presence of Tarr and
the police officer. A few reluctantly raise their hands.
Another of them goes to “Walter,” who is shorter than he is.

CHANGELING A True Story 33.


2ND KID
Walter was as tall as me….

DR. TARR
Yes, precisely. He was as tall as
you. Now he’s not. He’s lost a
little height, you see. It’s a
thing called trauma. With luck,
none of you will ever have to find
out about it yourselves. So other
than that, do you recognize this as
your friend, Walter Collins?

2ND KID
I guess…

CHRISTINE
Dr. Tarr —

DR. TARR
Already ahead of you, Mrs. Collins;
children can be intimidated. But
not adults. Shall we try a neighbor?

He heads off again, like some very tall, strange bird marching
down the street. Christine exchanges a look with the kids,
then heads off to follow.

EXT. RILEY’S HOUSE – FOYER – MOMENTS LATER

Tarr, Christine, Mrs. Riley, the officer and “Walter” stand
on the porch.

DR. TARR
— and we’d appreciate it if you
could make a positive identification
for us.
MRS. RILEY
I’d be happy to. I saw the boy
often. Come closer, son.

She stoops down, studies “Walter’s” face, turns it from side
to side. Squints at him. He squints back at her. Note:
she’s not wearing glasses. Finally:

DR. TARR
Take your time…be sure.

MRS. RILEY
Oh, yes…yes…that’s Walter all
right. Used to come here all the
time to play with my nephew, Roger.

CHANGELING A True Story 34.


DR. TARR
Thank you, Mrs. Riley. You’ve been
a big help, I —

CHRISTINE
Before we go…Mrs. Riley, do you
have the time?

MRS. RILEY
Certainly….

She looks at her watch. Holds it farther away. Can’t quite
focus on it. Pulls her glasses out from inside her blouse.

MRS. RILEY
My last concession to vanity; men
don’t make passes at women who wear
glasses, you know.
(checks the watch)
Five o’clock.

CHRISTINE
Thank you.

Mrs. Riley nods and heads inside as Christine looks to Tarr,
who shrugs off what was just demonstrated.

DR. TARR
A boy is much larger than a watch,
Mrs. Collins.
(to “Walter”)
Come along, son.

Tarr takes “Walter’s” hand and heads away, Christine following,
anger growing in her eyes as we HEAR:

CHRISTINE (V.O.)
This is absolutely outrageous!
INT. COLLINS HOME – KITCHEN – DAY

She is on the phone, “Walter” finishing up his dinner in BG.

CHRISTINE
Captain, I…no, listen to me, this
so-called doctor paraded me around
my own neighborhood like some kind
of derelict mother who couldn’t
even recognize her own —
(beat)
He found what he expected to find,
what you obviously told him he would
find, but it’s not —
(beat)
No, I am not reassured.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 35.


CHRISTINE (Cont’d)
I thought we had an understanding,
I —
(beat)
That I was embarrassed isn’t the
issue, the point is you’re wasting
time when you should be looking for
my son, I —
(beat)
Then I want to see this report, so
I can refute it, before it goes to
anyone else, all right? Fine.

She hangs up. Hard. The events of the day have her teetering
on the edge, but she’s holding on. She pulls herself together
and goes to the sink, furiously doing dishes for a silent
BEAT before “Walter” looks up from his now-empty plate.

“WALTER”
I’m finished. Can I go to my room
now?

CHRISTINE
Yes. Go on up.

“Walter” rises, as Christine continues to clean dishes, not
looking back at him. Exhausted mentally, physically and
emotionally. He goes to the door, stops, turns.

“WALTER”
G’night, Mommy.

Christine fumbles the plate and it SMASHES to the floor. She
turns furiously to “Walter.”

CHRISTINE
Stop saying that! I’m not your
mother! And you’re not my son!
She moves toward him, her anger coming out at last.

CHRISTINE
WHO ARE YOU? WHY ARE YOU DOING
THIS TO ME? DAMN YOU! I WANT MY
SON BACK!

He tears off as she slumps to the floor, covering her eyes.

CHRISTINE

I want my son back…god, please…
make it stop…just make it stop.

INT. WALTER’S BEDROOM – NIGHT

“Walter” is in bed, his back to the door, as Christine appears
in the hallway. She steps into the room, sits on the bed.

CHANGELING A True Story 36.


He doesn’t move. Her voice is soft, but firm.

CHRISTINE
I was wrong to yell at you. You’re
still a child, and I think you don’t
really understand what you’re doing,
the hurt you’re causing. Maybe
this is all just some big game of
pretend to you, but I need you to
understand. Walter is…he’s all I
have, he’s everything to me, and
every day we lose because of this
puts him further away from where I
can help him.
(beat)
Whatever the police think, whatever
the world thinks, we know the truth,
don’t we? We both know you’re not
Walter. Getting you to admit that
may be the only chance I have to
straighten this out before it’s too
late. Maybe you’re afraid of getting
in trouble, that you’re in too deep.
But you’re not. You don’t have to
tell me who you are, you just have
to tell them who you’re not. Just…
tell them the truth.

He doesn’t respond. She gives it a moment in case he might
open up, then rises and heads back into the hallway. She
switches off the light and heads off down the hallway.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. ST. PAUL’S CHURCH – RECTORY – PRE-DAWN

Pastor Briegleb is typing out his sermon for the day. He’s
exhausted. Looks at the clock. 6:30 a.m. He rubs tiredly
at his face when he HEARS the THUMP of the newspaper being
delivered. He stands, stretches and steps out to —

EXT. ST. PAUL’S CHURCH – CONTINUOUS

— where the newspaper is visible on the front lawn. He picks
it up and starts into the rectory as he unfolds the paper.

Then: he slows, stunned by something he’s reading. He looks
up again, and hurries back into the rectory.

INT. COLLINS HOME – CHRISTINE’S BEDROOM – PRE-DAWN

She’s in bed, asleep, as the telephone RINGS downstairs. She
glances at the clock: 6:45. She clearly doesn’t want to go
down to answer it…then reluctantly climbs out of bed.

CHANGELING A True Story 37.


INT. COLLINS HOME – LIVING ROOM – MOMENTS LATER

The telephone is still ringing as she picks it up.

CHRISTINE
Hello?

REV. BRIEGLEB (on phone)
Is this Mrs. Christine Collins?

CHRISTINE
Yes? Who is this?

REV. BRIEGLEB (on phone)
My name is Gustav Briegleb, I’m the
pastor over at St. Paul’s —

CHRISTINE
Oh, yes, I heard some of your radio
broadcasts after my son…you were
very supportive, and I appreciate —

REV. BRIEGLEB (on phone)
Mrs. Collins…have you seen the
Times today?

CHRISTINE
No, I —

REV. BRIEGLEB (on phone)
You’d better take a look. Then
come by the parish in an hour for
breakfast. I think we should meet.

She starts to reply, but the line goes dead. She hangs up
the phone, pulls her robe closer around her, and steps out to

EXT. COLLINS HOME – PRE-DAWN
where a copy of the Los Angeles Times sits on a neighbor’s
front lawn. She looks around, then dashes to pick it up.
She unfolds it as she heads back, then abruptly stops. She
can’t believe what she’s seeing.

CLOSE ON THE NEWSPAPER. The headline reads Mysterious
Transformation in Collins Boy.

EXT. ST. PAUL’S CHURCH – GARDEN – MORNING

Briegleb is eating a big breakfast. Christine, newspaper in
hand, is pacing, furious. She reads aloud from the paper.

CHRISTINE
“Acting on the request of the Los
Angeles Police Department, Dr. Earl
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 38.


CHRISTINE (Cont’d)
W. Tarr, child specialist, examined
Walter Collins to determine the
cause of his loss of weight,
paleness, confusion and run-down
condition noticed since the return
of the boy to his mother last
Saturday.”

REV. BRIEGLEB
Lovely bit of phrasing, isn’t it?
Noticed since the return of the boy
to his mother. Not only does it
state clearly that you are the boy’s
mother, one could infer from this
that you are somehow responsible
for these changes…and that the
police are concerned for the boy’s
welfare in your hands.
(beat)
You should try the eggs, they’re
very good.

CHRISTINE
(still reading)
“I examined the boy quite thoroughly,
Dr. Tarr said —

INT. POLICE STATION – NIGHT

Dr. Tarr is sitting at a desk and speaking to a handful of
reporters, enjoying the attention.

DR. TARR
— and it’s clear that he has
something to tell. I’m sure that
in time he will give his boyish
story of the entire affair, but not
until he has faith in his listener.
And that is what is lacking: faith
in the poor lad’s story. In the
course of my examination, I found
nothing to dispute the findings by
the LAPD.

REPORTER
How come he hasn’t been able to
tell anyone what happened while he
was gone?

DR. TARR
I would say that the boy has either
been coached or questioned to a
point where he is largely confused
about what happened to him during
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 39.


DR. TARR (Cont’d)
those many months. It’s possible
that his mental lapse may be the
result of a blow to the head or a
sudden shock which brought about a
possible cranial injury. I believe
that this condition will pass soon.
Until then, I recommend that the
police department continue working
with him, exposing him to whatever
elements of his previous life as
may help restore his memory.

BACK TO SCENE

As she lowers the paper, incredulous. (And yes, what you
just read was exactly what the doctor really said.)

CHRISTINE
Captain Jones promised he’d let me
see the report before it went
anywhere else.

REV. BRIEGLEB
Someone in authority at the LAPD
lied? Good heavens, I may have to
go lie down.

He laughs. She turns, looking stricken. He sobers at once.

REV. BRIEGLEB
I was not laughing at your situation,
Mrs. Collins. It’s just…after
one has this sort of conversation
enough times, a certain degree of
hysteria begins to set in. Please,
sit.
Reluctantly, she does. Shakes her head in disbelief.

CHRISTINE
Why are they doing this?

REV. BRIEGLEB
To avoid admitting a mistake…that
they brought back the wrong boy.
(off her look)
Anyone reading that with half a
brain would see through it instantly.
Sadly, that leaves out about half
the Times’ readership, but still….

CHRISTINE
Thank you.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 40.


CHRISTINE (Cont’d)
I’ve been trying to get someone to
say those words since…god, I was
starting to think I was losing my
mind.
(beat)
Thank you. At least someone believes
me.

REV. BRIEGLEB
You have no idea how many people
have sat in that very chair and
said those exact same words to me
in relation to our friends at the
Los Angeles Police Department.
(beat)
Mrs. Collins, I have made it my
mission to bring to light all the
things the LAPD would prefer no one
knew anything about…a department
ruled by violence, abuse, murder,
corruption and intimidation.

MONTAGE STARTS

INT. POLICE STATION – OFFICE – DAY

FAUX NEWSREEL FOOTAGE of Police Chief Davis speaking before a
bunch of microphones.

REV. BRIEGLEB (O.S.)
When Chief Davis took over the LAPD
two years ago, he said —

DAVIS
(overlapping)
We will hold court on gunmen in the
Los Angeles streets. I want them
brought in dead, not alive, and I
will reprimand any officer who shows
the least mercy to a criminal.

EXT. STREET – NIGHT

A crowd of police officers, armed with machine-guns, BLAST
the hell out of a group of guys lined up against a wall.

REV. BRIEGLEB (V.O.)
He picked fifty of the most dangerous
cops on the force, gave them machine
guns and permission to shoot anyone
who got in their way. He called
them the Gun Squad. No lawyers.
No trials. No questions, suspensions
or investigations. Just piles of
bodies.

CHANGELING A True Story 41.


EXT. BACK ALLEY – NIGHT

Another guy, beaten to a bloody pulp, is SHOVED out of a moving
car and left in the rain.

REV. BRIEGLEB (V.O.)
Bodies in morgues, bodies in
hospitals, bodies by the side of
the road, barely alive. Not because
the police wanted to wipe out crime,
they just wanted to get rid of the
competition.

EXT. ROADSIDE – NIGHT

A pair of cops and a couple of thugs inspect a truck carrying
booze over the border from Canada, pay the freight and watch
as the trucks drive off in the truck.

REV. BRIEGLEB (V.O.)
Mayor Cryer and half the police
force are on the take. Prostitution,
gambling, bootlegging, you name it.
(beat)
When the gloves came off, pretty
soon the rest of the department got
into the brutality act. Didn’t
want the Gun Squad to have all the
fun, after all.

INT. TENEMENT BUILDING – NIGHT

Two officers are sexually assaulting a woman on the stairs.

REV. BRIEGLEB (V.O.)
The more they got away with it, the
worse things got, because when you
give folks the freedom to do whatever
they want, as God saw in the Garden
of Eden, they’ll do just that.

BACK TO SCENE

With Christine and Briegleb, in the rectory garden.

REV. BRIEGLEB
This police department does not
tolerate dissent, contradiction…
or embarrassment, Mrs. Collins.
You have the power to embarrass
them…and they don’t like it. Not
when they became the Heroes of the
Hour the day they stood there posing
with you, having rescued a lost boy
from the wilderness.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 42.


REV. BRIEGLEB (Cont’d)
(beat)
They will do everything they can to
discredit you. I’ve seen it happen
too many times to start going blind
now. That’s why I wanted to see
you, so you’d know what you were
getting into…and how to fight
them.

CHRISTINE
Reverend Briegleb…I appreciate
what you’re saying, and what you’re
doing…but I’m not on a mission.
The only thing I want is to find my
son, that’s all, and I just —

REV. BRIEGLEB
A lot of mothers’ sons ended up
being sacrificed to expediency around
here, Mrs. Collins. Yours wouldn’t
be the first. Do this right, and
maybe yours will be the last.

She gets up from the table, paces the garden.

CHRISTINE
If they honestly thought I was wrong,
that’d be one thing…but if they
don’t care, if they’re just trying
to cover it up….

He picks up the article, waves it.

REV. BRIEGLEB
This is their attempt to win by
framing the discussion their way.
“Why, of course it’s her son…yes,
there have been changes…we’re
looking into it, and isn’t it strange
that they happened after the boy
got home?”
(beat)
They’re putting you in the position
of having to disprove what they’re
saying…and that’s hard. Most
people believe what they hear from
the police or the government. If
you play it their way, you…and
your son…are going to lose.

She closes her eyes for a BEAT, then looks to him, her voice
firmer, her decision made.

CHRISTINE
What do I have to do?

CHANGELING A True Story 43.


REV. BRIEGLEB
Change the rules of engagement. Re-
define the argument. They brought
in their expert, so you bring in
yours. You have an advantage they
don’t. You know your son better
than they ever will, and in that
knowledge is the proof you need.
(beat)
Get that information, put it out
there. Make them respond to you,
not the other way around.

He gets up, walks toward her, puts his hands on her shoulders.
Giving her strength…but also his concern.

REV. BRIEGLEB
Once people side with the police,
it’s a hard climb…but even in a
town as loud as this one, the voice
of truth can be heard…if you’re
willing to take it all the way in
spite of the dangers…and they are
very real, Mrs. Collins, make no
mistake. Once you open the book on
these people, you’re going to be
looking over your shoulder every
day, maybe for the rest of your
life.
(beat)
You up to it, Mrs. Collins?

He looks in her eyes…and she meets his gaze levelly. The
answer is evident.

INT. WAITING ROOM – ANGLE ON DOOR – DAY

We’re in a dentist’s office. Christine is waiting for a BEAT
before the door opens, and DR. JOHN MONTGOMERY emerges.

CHRISTINE
Well?

DR. MONTGOMERY
He had two cavities that needed
filling. He put up a fight, but I
took care of it.

CHRISTINE
And…?

He casts a look back at the closed door, shakes his head.

CHANGELING A True Story 44.


DR. MONTGOMERY
Your son’s upper front teeth were
separated by a small muscle. Made
them sit about an eighth of an inch
apart. The boy in that room has no
such gap.

CHRISTINE
Does a gap like that get smaller
with age? Because that’s what
they’ll say.

DR. MONTGOMERY
In some cases, yes, it’s possible.
But the muscle between Walter’s
teeth prevents that from happening.
They can never come together without
an operation to sever the muscle,
and I can tell you right now that
he has never had such an operation.

CHRISTINE
Will you be willing to sign a letter
saying that officially?

DR. MONTGOMERY
Pardon my language, but…hell,
yes.

He hears an OS moan from the inner office.

DR. MONTGOMERY
Sounds like the anesthetic is wearing
off.
(starts in, pauses)
On the other hand, maybe I’ll write
that letter first. Give the little
fella something to think about.
He smiles.

INT. CLASSROOM – MORNING

Small, with wooden desks, chalkboard, all the basics. “Walter”
stands in front of MRS. FOX, fifties, wearing severe glasses
and an equally severe expression. Christine stands nearby.

CHRISTINE
Well? What do you think? Is that
the Walter Collins that you remember?

MRS. FOX
If it is, he’s changed enormously.
(to “Walter”)
Do you know who I am?

CHANGELING A True Story 45.


“WALTER”
You’re a teacher.

MRS. FOX
Yes, but even teachers have names.
What’s mine?

“WALTER”
I don’t remember. I know you, but
I don’t remember your name.

MRS. FOX
My name is Mrs. Fox. Now, take
your seat.

“Walter” hesitates, then takes a seat. The other kids laugh.

MRS. FOX
I didn’t say take a seat. I said
take your seat. Your assigned seat.
You must know which one it is, you
sat there for over a year.

“Walter” tries another vacant seat. There are only three
vacant seats in the room. More laughter from the kids.

MRS. FOX
Try again. Here’s a hint: There’s
only one more empty seat left.

He sits. Mrs. Fox looks to Christine.

MRS. FOX
Mrs. Collins, if that’s your son,
I’ll eat my yardstick. Not only
will I put that in writing, I’ll
swear to it in a court of law and
in front of President Calvin Coolidge
himself if I have to.

For the first time, Christine allows a hopeful smile.

INT. COLLINS HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

The lights are low. Christine sits on the floor, sorting
through a box containing artifacts of affection: class projects
made by Walter, trees and houses and clay dogs; a heart-shaped
card Mother’s Day card, hand-made, with I Love You, Mommy
carefully printed on the front. She runs her finger over it,
tracing the impression left by his pencil.

She starts to cry, and a tear falls onto the pencil drawing.
She frantically dabs at it, trying to preserve it from
distortion…then sets it down and covers her face, weeping.

DISSOLVE TO:

CHANGELING A True Story 46.


EXT. CITY HALL – MORNING (RAIN)

A cold, wet knot of reporters and photographers are waiting
in the rain on the steps to City Hall. Christine sits in a
car with Briegleb, looking at it all.

SUPERIMPOSE: SEPTEMBER 6, 1928

REV. BRIEGLEB
I’ll see you tonight at eight for
my broadcast. I’ll leave the back
door open and a light on. Good
luck.

She nods, exits the car and walks up the steps to the front
of City Hall as he drives off. She stands before the press,
looks at them for a moment, then begins.

CHRISTINE
Good morning. My name is Christine
Collins. On March 10th, my nine
year old son, Walter Collins,
disappeared. A four month
investigation resulted in a boy
being brought to Los Angeles from
De Kalb, Illinois. They told me,
and all of you, that this boy was
my son. They were wrong.
(beat)
The Los Angeles Police Department
made a mistake…a terrible mistake.
The boy they found is not my son.
That is the reason for the supposed
“transformation.” I have letters
from his dentist, his teachers and
others confirming that this boy is
not my son. The letters are being
reprinted now, and I should have
them for you tomorrow.

Flashbulbs pop, dazzling her. She composes herself.

CHRISTINE
I have given the police department
every opportunity to admit their
mistake and renew the search for my
son. Since they have refused to do
so, I have no choice but to present
my case before the public. I hope
this will persuade the police to
finish the job they started, and
bring my son home to me.
(beat)
Thank you.

CHANGELING A True Story 47.


As the reporters start to shout out questions, we PAN ACROSS
to a BEAT COP who has been watching. He goes quickly to a
police call-box, unlocks it and picks up the telephone.

INT. LINCOLN HEIGHTS STATION – DAY

The glass door to Captain Jones’ office is closed, but we can
SEE him on the phone. Finally, he hangs up and comes out of
the office. His tone is cold but neutral…we think this
could go either way. He stops an officer.

JONES
Morelli, I want you to find the
Collins woman and get her here.
Bring her in the back way, and have
a couple of matrons standing by.

1ST COP
Yes, sir.

He heads off as Jones goes into his office, closing the door.

EXT. LINCOLN HEIGHT STATION – REAR ENTRANCE – DAY (RAIN)

A police car pulls up to the curb, and Christine and “Walter”
emerge from the back seat. They dash through the rain to the
back door, followed by the 1st Cop.

CHRISTINE
Why are we using the back door?

1ST COP
Captain’s orders. Front’s jammed
with reporters.

CHRISTINE
Is it?
She allows a moment of quiet satisfaction as she’s led into

INT. STATION – BULLPEN

where she’s directed to a wooden bench. A nearby clock reads
3:45. She sits, “Walter” silent beside her. In the BG, the
Desk Sergeant puts a call on hold.

DESK SERGEANT
Hey…anybody want to take a call
from the Royal Canadian Mounties?
Ybarra?

DETECTIVE LESTER YBARRA, thirties, good looking, glances up.

YBARRA
What’d they do, lose a moose?

CHANGELING A True Story 48.


DESK SERGEANT
They need a juvenile living here
illegally deported back to Canada.
He’s living with his cousin on some
ranch near Riverside, in Wineville.

YBARRA
All right, I’ll take it, got nothing
better to do….

Ybarra takes the call as Jones’ calls from his office.

JONES
Mrs. Collins.

Christine starts to take “Walter’s” hand when a matron appears.

JONES
Leave the boy for now. We’ll look
after him.

She hands “Walter” over to the matron, then enters

INT. JONES’ OFFICE

He leaves the door open and indicates for Christine to sit.
She does. He paces, working up to what he’s going to do.

JONES
You’ve put us through quite a bit
of trouble, Mrs. Collins. This
situation has become an embarrassment
for the entire department.

CHRISTINE
It wasn’t my intention to embarrass
anyone.
JONES
No, of course not. You just told
the papers we can’t tell one boy
from another as a compliment for
the months we spent working on your
case. Are you trying to make fools
out of us? Is that it? Do you
enjoy this?

CHRISTINE
No, of course not. I had to get
your attention, I had to make you
understand…he’s not my son.

He circles, closing in on her. She becomes aware that the
door is open, and he’s doing this for the benefit of anyone
who might be listening in.

CHANGELING A True Story 49.


JONES
You know what your problem is? You
want to shirk your responsibilities
as a mother. You enjoyed being a
free woman, didn’t you? Enjoyed
not having to worry about a young
son. You could do what you wanted,
go where you wanted, see anyone you
wanted. But then we found your
son. Brought him back. And now
he’s an inconvenience. That’s why
you cooked up this whole scheme, to
try and throw him to the state, let
the state raise him for you.

CHRISTINE
That’s not true!

JONES
No? Even the boy says he’s your
son. Why would he do that? How
would he know to do that?

CHRISTINE
I don’t know! All I know is that
he’s lying!

JONES
Maybe so. Maybe he is a liar. But
that’s how he’s been trained, isn’t
it? Lying was born in both of you.
You’re a liar and a troublemaker
and if you ask me you’ve got no
business walking the streets of Los
Angeles.

CHRISTINE
Just a minute —
JONES
Because either you know you’re lying,
or you’re not capable of knowing if
you’re lying or telling the truth.
So which is it, Mrs. Collins? Are
you a derelict mother? Or just
nuts? Because from where I sit,
those are the only options.

CHRISTINE
I’m not going to sit here and take
this —

Jones stands between her and the door.

CHANGELING A True Story 50.


JONES
You want to bring in experts?
Doctors? Well, I can do that too.
(calling OS)
Matron?

The door opens, and a POLICE MATRON enters. He looks back to
Christine, his voice low, his anger replaced by cool
determination. This scene is about to take an abrupt change.

JONES
Mrs. Collins…do you still insist
that the boy out there is not your
son?

CHRISTINE
Yes.

He nods to the matron, who moves to restrain her.

CHRISTINE
Wait…what are you doing?

The Matron cuffs Christine’s hands behind her back.

MATRON
Please don’t struggle, ma’am. You’ll
only hurt yourself.

A CLICK, and the handcuffs are in place.

JONES
(to the matron)
You are to convey the prisoner to
the Los Angeles County General
Hospital Psychopathic Ward.

CHRISTINE
No…wait, you can’t —

JONES
(still to matron)
Make the following entry in the
booking department: Defendant states
she has been deceived by police and
others, and that they have given
her a boy and tried to make her
think it is her son when she says
it is not.

EXT. REAR OF POLICE STATION (MONTAGE)

Christine is led, in handcuffs, into a waiting police van.
(VO has been taken verbatim from the police report.)

CHANGELING A True Story 51.


JONES (V.O.)
Mrs. Collins has been known to us
since about March 10, 1928, when
she reported her nine-year-old son
Walter missing.

INT. VAN

A stunned and dazed Christine rides in the back of the van

JONES (V.O.)
The boy was gone until July, 1928.
Since his return, she has complained
that he is still missing, and has
made repeated requests that he be
found, saying, “This is not my
Walter,” even though positive
identification has been established.

EXT. LA COUNTY GENERAL HOSPITAL – DAY

The police van enters the hospital at 1200 North State Street.

INT. LA COUNTY GENERAL HOSPITAL – RECEIVING AREA – DAY

A sterile, dreary, white-on-white place where in the
background, we can HEAR the sounds of the insane crying out.
The matron leads a stunned Christine to the front desk.

JONES (V.O.)
She suffers from paranoia, delusions
of persecution, and dislocation
from reality. She may be a threat
to herself or others. We recommend
that she be conveyed to the
psychopathic ward for treatment and
observation until her senses can be
restored.
The matron stops before the desk. The NURSE barely looks up.

MATRON
Got another code twelve.

NURSE
Name?

MATRON
Collins. Christine.

CHRISTINE
Wait…please, this is a mistake.

NURSE
(to matron)
Certifying officer?

CHANGELING A True Story 52.


MATRON
Captain J. J. Jones, Lincoln Heights
division.

CHRISTINE
(forced calm)
Please…you have to listen to me.
The police are doing this to punish
me. They tried to force this boy
on me and tell me he was my son,
but it wasn’t my son, and now they
say I’m crazy —

She stops, noting the looks exchanged between the nurse and
the matron. Her story sounds insane, even to her. She begins
to realize the depth of her predicament.

CHRISTINE
Oh, god…oh god, please, no….

NURSE
If you continue to struggle I’ll
have to put you in a straitjacket.
Do you want that?
(she shakes head)
Good. Then behave yourself.
(to orderlies)
Code twelve.

The matron turns Christine over to two large male ORDERLIES,
who take her by the arms and lead her into the psycho ward.

CHRISTINE
No, please, you have to listen to
me…wait…please!

They force-march her down the hall, the screams of the insane
growing louder, falling deeper into the nightmare.
INT. HOSPITAL – EXAMINING ROOM

Christine is ushered into the room by a NURSE.

NURSE
Take off your clothes.

CHRISTINE
Why?

NURSE
Physical examination, body cavity
search and de-lousing. Required
for all new patients.

The nurse begins putting on a pair of rubber gloves.

CHANGELING A True Story 53.


CHRISTINE
That’s not necessary —

NURSE
You can remove your clothes yourself,
or I can have the orderlies do it
for you. Which do you prefer?

Reluctantly, Christine begins to remove her clothes.

INT. SHOWER ROOM – MOMENTS LATER

ON CHRISTINE’S FACE as she stands in a spray of water and
disinfectant, some coming from the showerhead above, some
from a hose sprayed on her by the Nurse in BG. Christine’s
eyes are closed, trying to shut out the sense of violation.

NURSE
Spread your legs.
(a beat)
Wider.

Biting her lip, Christine complies.

INT. HALL – LATER

Wet hair plastered to her face, dressed in a hospital gown,
Christine is led down a long hall by the Nurse. As she passes
the closed doors, we HEAR women weeping, talking to themselves,
crying out, screaming, beating on the walls. Fingers poke
through narrow viewing slits in the doors.

The Nurse pulls out a key-ring and unlocks one of the doors.

NURSE
Inside.

Christine enters —
INT. HOSPITAL ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Bare, forbidding, four white walls and a narrow slit of a
window. It’s a two-person room. Sitting on the other bed is
another PATIENT.

NURSE
This is your room. The doctor’s
left for the day. He’ll see you in
the morning.

CHRISTINE
The morning? But…wait, I’ve got
to talk to someone in authority —

NURSE
Sorry.

CHANGELING A True Story 54.


PATIENT
My room…no, no…this is…this
is MY room….

CHRISTINE
Then if I could just use the phone.

NURSE
Phone privileges are earned by good
behavior. You’re not allowed
newspapers, magazines, radio, books
or sharp objects. This is for your
own good.

The Nurse exits, closing and locking the door.

CHRISTINE
Wait…please! There’s been a
terrible mistake!

Nothing. She’s alone with the other Patient, who doesn’t
much like the noise and disturbance.

PATIENT
My room. My room. They SAID it
was MY ROOM!

CHRISTINE
I’m sorry, I —

PATIENT
MY ROOM! MY ROOM! MY ROOM! MY
ROOM!

She starts SCREAMING. Christine covers her ears.

EXT. HOSPITAL – CONTINUOUS
We slowly PULL AWAY from the narrow window, and the sound of
screaming, into the late afternoon rain and growing darkness.

CUT TO:

EXT. OLD ROAD – EARLY EVENING

A lone truck sits beside the road, hood open, steam coming
from the radiator.

GORDON NORTHCOTT, thirties, thin and angular, finishes working
on the car as a police car approaches. The detective we saw
earlier, Ybarra, is inside. He rolls down the window.

YBARRA
Problem?

CHANGELING A True Story 55.


GORDON
Overheated, that’s all. She’ll be
fine in a bit.

YBARRA
Listen, could you give me a hand?
I’m trying to find a place called
the Northcott Ranch, up by Wineville.

As he answers, Gordon moves casually to the back of the open
truck to get a rag to wipe his hands. There is a GUN on the
floor of the trunk. Gordon picks it up inside the rag.

GORDON
Northcott Ranch…oh yeah. You’re
almost there. Follow this west for
about two, three miles. Then the
next right. That’ll bring you right
to it. Something going on?

YBARRA
Just looking into a juvenile matter.
Thanks for the help.

Ybarra drives away. As soon as he’s out of sight, Gordon
slams the hood, runs to the driver’s side and starts the truck,
still steaming. He drives off as fast as he can.

EXT. NORTHCOTT RANCH – EVENING

A long, low house, stonework and brick and wood, behind a
large open area cluttered with junked cars. At the far end
of the open area is a chicken coop, about fifteen feet long.
Ybarra drives up in front of the house, gets out, looks around.

YBARRA
Hello?
ANOTHER ANGLE – POV SHOT

Someone is watching as Ybarra moves toward the main house.

YBARRA
Anybody home?

BACK TO SCENE

Ybarra glances off to a rustling SOUND, and follows it to

EXT. CHICKEN COOP

A few chickens inside, held back by wire. An ax is nearby,
its stained edge buried in an old wooden stump. A corner of
the coop seems to have come down and been crudely repaired.

CHANGELING A True Story 56.


BACK TO SCENE

As suddenly someone runs across the dirt yard into the house,
SLAMMING the door. Ybarra runs to the porch, tries the door.
Locked from the inside. He pounds on the door.

YBARRA
This is the police. I have a warrant
for a minor named Sanford Clark.
Open the door and stand aside.

No reply. He braces himself and KICKS open the door.

INT. HOUSE – KITCHEN

The door BANGS against the wall. Flies buzz around the place.
The kitchen is in shadows, but there’s no question it’s a
mess. Ybarra moves cautiously through the kitchen. No sound
except the wood creaking beneath his feet as he enters

INT. HALLWAY – CONTINUOUS

Old, musty, shadowed. The ticking of an old grandfather clock.
There’s no one in sight. Ybarra moves down the hall, glances
into two adjoining rooms. Nothing. He continues into

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Curtains drawn, dark, cocooned against the outside world.
Ybarra makes a circuit of the room, then STOPS at a creak of
wood from a CLOSET. He moves toward it. Pauses. Reaches
for the doorknob…as suddenly a clock CHIMES loudly and the
closet explodes outward and —

— SANFORD CLARK, 15, runs out. He slams into Ybarra, knocking
him down. They go down in a tumble of limbs, wrestling on
the floor as Sanford tries to escape.
YBARRA
Stop it! Stop it or I’ll push your
face through the floor!

Breathing hard, Sanford finally stops struggling. Ybarra
cuffs Sanford’s hands behind his back.

YBARRA
On your feet.

Sanford stands, and as Ybarra leads him out, we PAN TO a mantle
and a photo that shows Sanford Clark and a man we recognize
as the one we saw by the road earlier: Gordon Northcott.

INT. YBARRA’S CAR – MOMENTS LATER

Ybarra locks Sanford in the car, then climbs in the driver’s
side. He checks a cut on his face in the rear-view mirror.

CHANGELING A True Story 57.


YBARRA
Jesus…what the hell’s wrong with
you? Don’t you know assaulting a
cop is against the law?

SANFORD
What difference does it make now?

YBARRA
We’re just sending you back to
Canada, son, it isn’t the end of
the world.

SANFORD
What?

YBARRA
You can’t just stay in the U.S. as
long as you want, pal. We’ve got a
orders to send you back home, and —

Suddenly Sanford starts laughing. It’s a nearly hysterical
laugh, half fear and half relief…Ybarra isn’t there for the
reasons he thought. Ybarra is puzzled by his reaction.

YBARRA
Didn’t know Canada was that funny.

Ybarra puts the car into gear and drives off.

EXT. ST. PAUL’S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH – NIGHT

Enough to ESTABLISH, then:

INT. ST. PAUL’S – CONTINUOUS

Gustav Briegleb sits behind the microphone, waiting to go on
the air. He looks at the clock. 7:59. Glances to an AIDE.
BRIEGLEB
No word from Mrs. Collins?
(aide shakes head)
Get on down to her house, make sure
she’s all right. If she’s not there,
call the LAPD, see what they know.

The aide hurries off as Briegleb turns back to the microphone
and touches a switch. The ON THE AIR lamp glows to life.

BRIEGLEB
This is Pastor Gustav A. Briegleb
of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church,
bringing you the Lord’s word on
radio KGF. Good evening.

CHANGELING A True Story 58.


INT. HOSPITAL – MENTAL WARD – SAME TIME

Christine is in bed, wide awake, the sounds of the asylum
somewhat lessened now. Her face is dimly lit by moonlight.

BRIEGLEB (V.O.)
I had hoped to have a guest with us
tonight, but apparently she has
been delayed. Since she can’t be
here to tell you what she told the
press this afternoon, I’ll fill in
the best I can. I’m going to tell
you what happened, and I’m going to
keep telling you right here, every
night…until someone does something
about it.

On her face, we go to

INT. UNION STATION – TICKET BOOTH – NIGHT

Gordon Northcott makes his way to the ticket booth.

GORDON
I’d like a ticket to Canada. Alberta
or Vancouver, whatever’s leaving
tonight.

TICKET VENDER
Don’t have anything going that far
tonight. Best I can do is put you
on a train for Seattle. From there
you can transfer to one of the locals
or drive across the border.

GORDON
That’ll be fine.
TICKET VENDER
Round-trip?

GORDON
One way.

The vender moves away to pull the ticket. Gordon glances at
a cop heading his way. Stiffens. The cop continues past
him. Gordon relaxes as the vender slides the ticket across.

TICKET VENDER
That’ll be fifteen dollars.

Gordon pays for the ticket and heads toward the boarding gates.

DISSOLVE TO:

CHANGELING A True Story 59.


EXT. HOSPITAL – MORNING

Just enough to establish the transition.

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM – MORNING

Christine is on top of the bed, eyes open, not having slept
all night. She’s staring at the woman on the next cot. THe
woman is staring back at her. The second-hand on a clock
behind protective chicken-wire passes 8:00 and a loud BELL
goes off, announcing the start of the day.

We hear doors being unlocked up and down the hall. Christine
stands, pulls her hair back, and catches her reflection in
the window: pale, drawn, smudged, and in a hospital gown…
looking like someone who actually belongs in this place.

The door opens and she steps into the hall as a NURSE passes.

CHRISTINE
Can I see the doctor? Or someone
in charge —

NURSE
Breakfast is half an hour.

CHRISTINE
But I —

NURSE
Down the hall. The doctor will
call for you when he’s ready.
(beat)
Go or stay, either way I lock the
door.

Christine doesn’t want to stay, so she moves off.
INT. HOSPITAL – MENTAL WARD – DINING AREA – MORNING

Christine and the other patients sit at long tables. A few
talk in quiet whispers, but most eat silently, staring vacantly
ahead. Some have scars showing lobotomies or electro-
convulsive (shock) therapy. It’s a scary bunch. Christine
isn’t eating.

Another female patient, CAROL DEXTER, thirties, watches
Christine then slides closer. A BEAT, then:

CAROL DEXTER
You should eat. Eating is normal.
You got to do everything you can to
look normal. That’s the only chance
you’ve got. Besides, you’ll need
the strength.

CHANGELING A True Story 60.


Christine is startled by the level-headedness of the advice
from someone she assumed was probably nuts. Reluctantly, she
begins eating the cold-looking oatmeal.

CAROL DEXTER
My name’s Carol Dexter. What’s
yours?

CHRISTINE
Christine. Christine Collins.

Christine reacts to the taste of the food, which is awful.

CAROL DEXTER
Finish it all. I know it’s hard,
but you have to try. Lunch isn’t
as bad. Close, but not as —

CHRISTINE
I won’t be here that long. As soon
as I can talk to a doctor, they’ll
realize there’s been a terrible
mistake and —

CAROL DEXTER
Yeah, that always works.
(beat, quieter)
I heard them talking. You’re here
on a code twelve, police action.
The doctors, the staff, they figure
that if the police sent you here,
there must be a good reason for it.

CHRISTINE
Then I’ll just have to prove that
I’m not insane.

CAROL DEXTER
Yeah? How? The more you try to
act sane, the crazier you start to
look. If you smile too much, you’re
delusional or stifling hysteria.
If you don’t smile, you’re depressed.
If you’re neutral you’re emotionally
withdrawn and potentially catatonic.

CHRISTINE
You seem to have given this a great
deal of thought.

CAROL DEXTER
I have. Don’t you get it? You’re
code twelve. So am I. We’re here
for the same reason.
(beat)
We pissed off the cops.

CHANGELING A True Story 61.


Christine sits back heavily, starting to understand the world
more than she ever wanted to.

CAROL DEXTER
What, you thought you were the only
one?
(points os)
The lady over there was married to
a cop who kept beating her up.
When she tried to tell somebody,
they sent her here. And that one?
The police beat the crap out of her
brother, broke both his arms. When
she complained to the papers, they
picked her up and…

CHRISTINE
What about you?

CAROL DEXTER
I…work nights.
(Chris doesn’t get it)
I mean, I work nights. Downtown.
In some of the clubs. You know.

It gets through. Hooker. Christine nods.

CAROL DEXTER
This one client started hitting me,
and he wouldn’t stop. So I filed a
complaint. Turns out he was a cop.
Next thing I know, I’m here.

CHRISTINE
But how can they —

CAROL DEXTER
You’re kidding right? Hey, everybody
knows women are fragile, right?
They’re all emotions, no logic,
nothin’ goin’ on upstairs. And
sometimes, like when they say
something that’s a little, y’know,
inconvenient…they just go fucking
nuts, pardon my French. If we’re
insane, nobody has to listen to us.
I mean, who are you going to believe,
some crazy woman trying to destroy
the integrity of the force, or a
police officer? Then once they get
us in here, we either learn to
behave, and shut up, or —
(beat)
Or you don’t go home…or you go
home like that.

CHANGELING A True Story 62.


She nods to an older woman whose upper temples are marred by
surgical scars. Lobotomized. Christine turns away.

CAROL DEXTER
Better finish up your oatmeal.
Want to look sane for the doctors.
Then I want to hear what they nailed
you for.

Numb with horror, Christine forces down the oatmeal.

INT. JUVENILE DETENTION HALL – DAY

Sanford Clark sits near several other juveniles being held.
Pensive, nervous, he watches a kid absently tapping a ruler
against his knees.

FEATURE the ruler. Rising. Falling. Tapping. Then back —

— on Sanford as we hear it continuing to tap OS. PUSH IN ON
his face. Then, suddenly —

FLASHBACK

— on a HATCHET, rising and falling in tune with the ruler
tapping. There’s blood on the hatchet.

Gordon Northcott’s eyes glitter insanely as he brings the
hatchet down again and just as it comes right AT US we flash —

BACK TO SCENE

As Sanford CRIES OUT with the memory. We PULL BACK to see
the others in the room staring at him. He turns away, won’t
meet their gaze. Something’s terribly wrong.

Just then, an ADMINISTRATOR comes in.
ADMINISTRATOR
Clark…Sanford Clark.

Sanford rises, goes to the Administrator.

ADMINISTRATOR
Paperwork’s come through. You’ll
be deported back to Canada day after
tomorrow. The police there will to
decide what to do with you next. I
hope your stay here has convinced
you not to try crossing the border
illegally in future.

He starts to turn and walk away when:

CHANGELING A True Story 63.


SANFORD
Wait, I…I want to talk to the
officer who brought me in.

ADMINISTRATOR
I’m sure he has far more important
things to do than —

SANFORD
Please. It’s important.

The Administrator senses that he’s sincere, and troubled.

ADMINISTRATOR
He’s off-duty until tomorrow, but…
I’ll see what I can do. No promises.

And with that, the administrator heads away.

EXT. COUNTRY ROAD – AFTERNOON

Gordon Northcott is hitch-hiking by the side of the road. A
truck approaches, passes him…then slows and stops. Gordon
runs up to the truck as the DRIVER leans out.

DRIVER
How far you going?

GORDON
Vancouver.

DRIVER
Hop in.

Gordon climbs into the truck and goes to shove his bag under
the seat…when something metallic bangs underneath. He lifts
out a short length of metal pipe.
DRIVER
Don’t worry about that, pal. Just
a little insurance. A couple of
guys tried to hijack my truck a few
years ago so they could run booze
over the border. You can’t be too
safe, you know?

GORDON
Yeah, I surely do.

Gordon smiles, moves as if to hand the pipe back…and suddenly
SLAMS it DOWN on the Driver’s head…over and over and over.
Blood splatters his face. Breathing hard, Gordon shoves the
Driver out of the truck into the undergrowth then drives off.

CHANGELING A True Story 64.


INT. HOSPITAL – MENTAL WARD – HALLWAY – DAY

Wearing a bandage on one arm, Christine is escorted down the
hall by one of the nurses. She’s led into —

INT. HOSPITAL – STEELE’S OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

— where DOCTOR JONATHAN STEELE stands as Christine enters.
He’s in his fifties, heavy-set, serious.

STEELE
Mrs. Collins…Dr. Jonathan Steele.
Please, have a seat.

The nurse leaves. Christine notes that there are three chairs
in a row. Could be a test. She sits in the middle chair.
Sits as straight as she can. Trying to look sane.

STEELE
I hope your stay has been comfortable
so far.

CHRISTINE
Fine. Thank you.

STEELE
Really? I’d think it would be quite
difficult at first.

CHRISTINE
(catching herself)
Well, it was. Difficult, I mean.
But comfortable.

He makes a note of this. She grimaces. This isn’t going
well. He motions to the bandage on her arm.

STEELE
I see they took a blood test.

CHRISTINE
Wasserman Test. To check for
syphilis. Apparently it can affect
the mind.

STEELE
The idea that someone thinks you
should be checked for syphilis…did
that upset you?

CHRISTINE
No. Not at all. I’m sure it’s…
standard procedure.

She smiles a forced smile. Trying to appear level-headed.

CHANGELING A True Story 65.


STEELE
Yes. Exactly. Standard procedure.
We have to cover all bases, and —

CHRISTINE
(covering her bases)
But…at the same time…I imagine
that it would be…would probably
be upsetting to…some people that
someone else might…suspect that
of them.
(beat)
However inappropriate that might
be.

She flashes another wan smile. He makes another note, picks
up the report on his desk, glances it over.

STEELE
According to your file, you believe
the police have substituted a fake
boy for your son. Is that true?

CHRISTINE
I didn’t say they substituted a fake
boy, just…not the right boy.
(beat)
They brought back the wrong boy.
Not my son. He’s still missing.

He starts pulling out papers from his file.

STEELE
That’s strange…you see, I have
here a newspaper article with a
photo of you at the train station,
welcoming your son home. That is
you in the photo, isn’t it?
CHRISTINE
Yes.

STEELE
So at first he was your son, but
now he’s not your son.
(beat)
Has this been going on for a long
time? People…changing, becoming
something other than what they are?

CHRISTINE
People don’t change, doctor.

STEELE
You don’t think people change?

CHANGELING A True Story 66.


CHRISTINE
That’s not what I —

STEELE
And the police…they’re not out to
persecute you?

CHRISTINE
No. Of course not.

STEELE
The police are here to protect us.

CHRISTINE
That’s right.

He nods. She’s trying to say what she thinks he wants to
hear. It’s a chess match that ends with:

STEELE
That’s odd, because according to
the head nurse, when you were
admitted you accused the police of
conspiring to do this deliberately,
to punish you. So either she and
the interns are also conspiring
against you…or you’re changing
your story.
(beat)
Do you often have trouble telling
reality from fantasy, Mrs. Collins?

He sits back. Christine’s face tells the story.

INT. JUVENILE DETENTION HALL – DAY

It’s raining. The Administrator enters with Detective Ybarra.
ADMINISTRATOR
I’m sorry to bring you out in this
weather, detective, but the boy has
been quite insistent.

YBARRA
It’s all right, I’ll just see what
he has to say so I can go home and
get dry. Where is he?

ADMINISTRATOR
Room seven.

INT. INTERROGATION ROOM – MOMENTS LATER

A single table, two chairs. Sanford sits quietly, nervously,
as Ybarra hangs his wet coat up on a hook.

CHANGELING A True Story 67.


YBARRA
It’s raining cats, dogs and democrats
out there, so this better be worth
it.

He sits across the table from Sanford, lights up a cigarette.
Sanford’s mouth works for a moment, but nothing comes out.

YBARRA
Well?

SANFORD
Look, I — this isn’t easy, okay?

YBARRA
Nothing is.

A long BEAT. Sanford composes himself, begins:

SANFORD
My cousin’s Gordon Northcott. He
owns the ranch where you found me.
He let me live there in exchange
for watching the place when he was
gone, doing chores, stuff like that.
Said I could stay on as long as I
wanted to. I figured that also
meant I could leave whenever I wanted
to, but he wouldn’t let me.

YBARRA
Are you saying he held you prisoner?
(sanford nods)
Bull. When I got to the ranch you
were running around free as a
jaybird. Could’ve left any time
you wanted. So what’s this, some
kind of story to cover why you were
in the country illegally?

SANFORD
No…no, it’s nothing like that.

YBARRA
Because I don’t have time for —

SANFORD
Listen to me, please. He said —

YBARRA
What? What did he —

SANFORD
He said that if I tried to leave,
he’d kill me!
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 68.


SANFORD (Cont’d)
You don’t understand, you don’t
know what he’s like, what he…what
we did…what he made me do.

Sanford is in tears by now. Ybarra realizes that there’s
something real going on here, and backs off.

YBARRA
Okay, lets start at the beginning.
What did he make you do?

Sanford closes his eyes. Takes a long beat. Finally….

SANFORD
Him and me…me and Gordon, we…
(beat, softly)
…we killed some kids.

Ybarra freezes, the cigarette not moving in his hand.

SANFORD
I didn’t mean to, I swear…he made
me help him, said if I didn’t he’d
kill me, too. Please, you gotta
help me…I’m scared…I don’t want
to go to Hell for killing kids.

YBARRA
What kids?

SANFORD
I don’t know…I never knew their
names.

YBARRA
How many kids?
SANFORD
All together?

He thinks about it for a moment. The fact that he has to add
them all up is almost as chilling as what follows next.

SANFORD
About…twenty, I guess.

YBARRA
You’re lying.

SANFORD
No, it’s true, I swear!

YBARRA
Twenty kids.

CHANGELING A True Story 69.


SANFORD
Yeah…thereabouts…I kinda stopped
counting after a while, and Gordon
said one or two might’ve gotten
away, but —

YBARRA
Nobody can just up and kill twenty
kids —

SANFORD
We did…yeah, we did that….

YBARRA
How?

Sanford looks off, pauses, then, softly and slowly….

SANFORD
Most times we’d bring back just one
or two…sometimes as many as three.

EXT. NORTHCOTT RANCH – FLASHBACK – DAY

Gordon is at his truck, the same one we saw earlier, checking
the engine as Sanford looks on nervously.

SANFORD (V.O.)
I always knew when he was getting
ready ‘cause he’d go through the
car and clean it up, make sure the
tires were good, the engine…he
was always afraid something’d break
down and we’d be caught.

Gordon slams the hood shut, looks to Sanford. Smiles.

GORDON
Time to go.

EXT. STREET – DAY

A kid is walking down the street, playing idly, by himself,
as the truck starts to approach from behind.

SANFORD (V.O.)
We’d go a different direction every
time, never hit the same part of
town twice. Sometimes we’d go for
hours, just driving around, until
we found somebody.

The truck comes beside the kid and Gordon leans out the window.

CHANGELING A True Story 70.


SANFORD (V.O.)
He’d use all kinds of different
stories. Sometimes he’d say he had
free tickets for the circus, or he
was looking for a lost dog…that
one worked real good. Other days —

GORDON
There you are, we’ve been looking
for you like mad.

FLASH-IMAGE: to a different kid, a different street.

KID
You have?

GORDON
Sure thing. Your folks, they got
in an accident. They sent us to
find you. They’re hurt real bad.
The police took ‘em to the hospital,
but they didn’t have time to come
find you, so we said we’d do it.
Now come on, hurry…we gotta get
to the hospital, see your folks.

FLASH-IMAGE: Yet another kid, who hesitates, looks to Sanford.

SANFORD (V.O.)
A lot of kids won’t get in a car
alone with a stranger, but when
he’s got a kid there with him, that
made it easier.
(beat)
They’d look to me, and figure if I
was safe, they would be too. That’s
why he needed me, see?
SANFORD
It’s okay. Come on in.

FLASH-IMAGE: Back to the first kid, who takes one last BEAT,
then gets into the car.

SANFORD (V.O.)
Every time they got in the truck,
it was like I wanted to die.

GORDON
Good boy! Now hold on, it’s a long
drive and we gotta fly.

And the truck heads off.

CHANGELING A True Story 71.


SANFORD (V.O.)
Then, as soon as we got back to the
ranch…they went in the coop.

EXT. NORTHCOTT RANCH – CHICKEN COOP – NIGHT

The boy, crying, is tossed into the chicken coop. There are
two other boys there, also crying and screaming.

SANFORD (V.O.)
Some days he’d do ‘em right off.
Other days, he’d wait, pick up a
few more, keep ‘em in the coop until
he had like four or five, ‘cause —
(beat)
— ‘cause he liked to hear ‘em scream
all at once. Like they were some
kinda chorus. And then….

QUICK IMAGES

Gordon, eyes insane with blood lust, stumbles toward the coop.

SANFORD (V.O.)
…and then….

The kids, screaming.

Sanford looking on, afraid to move, the single overhead light
in the coop swinging wildly.

Gordon grabbing an ax. Raising it.

On Sanford’s eyes, terrified.

The ax begins to fall in SLOW MOTION and —

BACK TO SCENE
— as the long ash at the end of Ybarra’s cigarette, TUMBLES
to the floor in SLOW MOTION, end over end, SHATTERING when it
hits the floor and bringing us back to full speed.

SANFORD
Sometimes…sometimes he’d leave
one or two of ‘em alive…barely
anyway…and tell me…finish ‘em.
Finish ‘em…or I’ll finish you.
(beat)
And I did…I did…oh god…oh,
sweet Jesus…I killed ‘em…I killed
‘em…I killed ‘em….

Then: silence, except for Sanford’s sobbing. Ybarra realizes
he hasn’t been breathing. He tries to find his voice.

CHANGELING A True Story 72.


YBARRA
These…uhm…these kids…do you
think…if you saw them again, do
you think you’d recognize them?
(sanford nods)
Just a second.

He goes to his coat and pulls out a batch of photos of missing
kids bound with a rubber band. Hands it to Sanford.

YBARRA
I haven’t updated these in a while,
but still, it should be….
(beat)
Just go through…and if you see
any faces you recognize, put it on
the table.

Sanford takes the photos. Starts going through them.

A photo, a face, goes down on the table. Then another. A
third. With each photo slapped down the SLAP gets louder,
BOOMING at us. Another photo. Another. Row after row.
He’s crying, sobbing, but still putting down photos.

Then he SLAMS down the last one and half-falls, half-stumbles
out of his chair, sobbing…goes to the corner of the room
and slides down the wall until he’s sitting in a fetal
position, hands covering his face. Sobbing uncontrollably.

Numb, Ybarra goes to the table, picks up a photo. Looks at
it. Turns it over to the name, then picks up another. Then
a third. When he picks up the fourth photo and turns it over,
he stops, staring at it.

YBARRA
…shit….
The name on the back of the photo is WALTER COLLINS.

JONES (V.O.)
He’s lying.

INT. JONES’ OFFICE – DAY

Jones is on the phone, pissed and getting more pissed by the
moment. INTERCUT between Jones and Ybarra in juvenile hall
during the conversation.

JONES
Have you gone soft in the head,
Les?

YBARRA
Sir, I —

CHANGELING A True Story 73.


JONES
He’s playing you! He knows he’s in
trouble, so he’s come up with some
cock and bull story about how he
was forced to stay in the country —

YBARRA
With all due respect, sir, I don’t
think so. You didn’t see him, the
kid’s scared half out of his mind —

JONES
He picked the Collins kid! We found
him, remember? Haven’t you been
reading the papers?
(beat)
Or maybe you have, is that it?

He backhands a newspaper on his desk, headlined DISTRAUGHT
MOTHER CLAIMS POLICE RETURNED WRONG CHILD.

YBARRA
Sir, if you’d just listen —

Just then a secretary sticks her head in the doorway.

SECRETARY
I’m sorry, captain, but he’s here
again…that reverend, Briegleb.
He’s asking about Christine Collins.

JONES
Tell the sonofabitch to get the
hell off police property before I
have him arrested for disturbing
the peace.

SECRETARY
I tried. He said he’s not leaving…
him, or his friends.

There’s a disturbance off-screen and she goes to deal with it
as Jones gets further wound up to ninety.

JONES
What the hell…?

He’s drawn to the window by the sound of voices. He peeks
through the slats. Several dozen placard-carrying parishioners
and members of the Women’s Temperance League are standing in
the street, beating drums and calling Christine’s name.

JONES
Jesus jumped down….

He realizes he’s still on the phone.

CHANGELING A True Story 74.


JONES
Ybarra? Listen. You’re not to do
anything except come back here.

YBARRA
Sir, department policy requires
that all allegations of homicide
have to be investigated. And these
are kids, for chrissakes —

JONES
Departmental policy is what I say
it is, you got that? Now I’m
ordering you to get your ass back
here with that kid, you got that?
You bring him here and you talk to
no one, got it? Nobody!

He slams the phone down. CUT BACK TO —

— Ybarra in juvenile hall, agonizing over this. Finally,
his voice resigned, he looks into the interrogation room.

YBARRA
All right, let’s go.

INT. POLICE STATION – HALLWAY – MOMENTS LATER

Jones has come out into the hall, where Briegleb, several
supporters and a handful of reporters are standing at the
receiving officer’s desk. They approach quickly.

BRIEGLEB
Are you Captain Jones?

JONES
I am.
BRIEGLEB
What the hell have you done with
Christine Collins? Don’t try and
lie your way out of it. I talked
to several neighbors who saw her
being driven off in a police car.

JONES
Mrs. Collins has been placed in
protective custody following a mental
breakdown.

BRIEGLEB
A what?!

CHANGELING A True Story 75.


JONES
Her statements and behavior have
been found to be consistent with a
delusional state of mind that could
make her a danger to herself or
others. In the public interest, we
are looking after her son while she
gets the help she clearly needs.

BRIEGLEB
Where?

JONES
Sorry, we’re withholding that
information to respect the privacy
of the family. But I can assure
you that she’s getting the best
treatment available. That’s all.

He heads back the way he came as the others shout questions
after him, held back by other police officers.

INT. HOSPITAL – MENTAL WARD – DAY ROOM – AFTERNOON

Patients are being corralled into a line that extends to a
barred window where a nurse is dispensing pills.

VOICE ON PA
Line-up for medication. Line up
for medication….

Christine is nudged forward by an orderly, Carol beside her.

ORDERLY
Go on. Move up.

CHRISTINE
What for?
ORDERLY
Medication.

CHRISTINE
What kind of medication?

ORDERLY
The kind that’s good for you. Help
you relax.

She’s nudged to the window, where a nurse hands out a pill
and water.

CHRISTINE
I don’t want to relax…I’m fine,
and I won’t take something unless I
know what it is!

CHANGELING A True Story 76.


NURSE
Orderly —

CHRISTINE
Just listen —

NURSE
— we can force-feed it to you if
that’s what you want.

Christine sees Dr. Steele, breaks away and rushes to him.

CHRISTINE
Doctor…Doctor Steele —

STEELE
I heard.

CHRISTINE
I don’t know what’s going on, but
I’m not taking anything until —

STEELE
I understand. Come with me.

He moves off into an adjoining room. Carol Dexter, next in
line, takes her pill…but keeps an eye on Christine.

INT. HOSPITAL – STEELE’S OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

He goes to his desk as she stands in the doorway.

CHRISTINE
I don’t have anything wrong with me
that I should have to take
medication.

STEELE
There’s nothing wrong with you.

CHRISTINE
That’s right.

STEELE
You’re fine.

CHRISTINE
Yes.

He pulls a typed letter out of his desk, slides it across.

STEELE
Then you shouldn’t have any trouble
signing this.

She picks it up, reads as he continues:

CHANGELING A True Story 77.


STEELE
By signing, you certify that you
were wrong when you stated the boy
returned by the police was not your
son. It further stipulates that
the police acted properly in sending
you here for observation and absolves
them of all responsibility for —

CHRISTINE
I won’t sign it.

STEELE
Then your condition is not improved.
(beat)
Sign it, and you can be out of here
first thing tomorrow.

CHRISTINE
I won’t sign it!

She tears up the sheet of paper.

CHRISTINE
I was not wrong! That boy is not
my son! And I am not going to stop
telling the truth about this! And
you’re not going to stop me, and
the police aren’t going to stop me —

STEELE
Mrs. Collins, you’re becoming
agitated.

CHRISTINE
— I will tear down the walls of
this place with my bare hands if I
have to, but one way or another —
STEELE
Orderly!

An orderly appears in the doorway.

STEELE
The patient is disturbed, hyperactive
and is threatening the staff. See
to it she is properly sedated.

CHRISTINE
No!

She BURSTS past the orderly, running into

CHANGELING A True Story 78.


INT. HOSPITAL – MENTAL WARD – HALLWAY – CONTINUOUS

running, pursued by orderlies, two more blocking her way.

CHRISTINE
No, I won’t let you! Someone,
please, help me!

They TACKLE her and bring her down. She struggles as the
others look on, and you can see in their eyes that they don’t
like what they’re seeing, there’s rage —

— and a furious Carol Dexter comes to her aid. She JUMPS
into the struggle. Biting. Kicking. Scratching.

Steele comes on the run just as the orderlies peel Carol off
the fight, spinning her around to face Steele, who SLAPS her.

STEELE
Stay out of this! This is none of
your business!
(to the rest)
This is police business! You’ll
stay out of it if you know what’s
good for you!

He looks to Carol, Christine restrained behind them.

STEELE
You’d think you had enough trouble
with the law just being a whore,
wouldn’t you?

He smiles. She gets a hand free and SLUGS him, hard, a nail
slicing his cheek. He touches his face. It comes back with
blood. Then he looks to the orderly.

STEELE
Attacking a staff member. Room
eighteen. Electro-convulsive
therapy.

The orderly hauls Carol off, kicking and screaming, as
Christine is moved toward the nurse’s station.

CHRISTINE
Carol! No, leave her alone! What’re
you —

They force a pill in her mouth, following with water as they
hold her nose, forcing her to swallow. She chokes, swallows.
They march her down the hall as Steele returns to his office.

CHRISTINE
Carol….!

CHANGELING A True Story 79.


INT. ROOM EIGHTEEN – CONTINUOUS

The electro-shock room. Carol struggles against the orderlies
who force her down onto the gurney. A nurse behind her applies
conductor jelly to her temples as another orderly shoves a
rubber bite-guard into her mouth.

Then a pair of metal pincers, points covered in cloth, are
pressed against her temples. A button is pushed…and her
body goes RIGID as a jolt of electricity blasts through her
body. (This was, remember, fairly common practice for violent
behavior in the 1920s.)

Then she passes out, her eyes rolling up in her head.

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM – MOMENTS LATER

Christine is peering out the narrow slot in her door as she
sees Carol being wheeled down the hall and put into her bed.
Christine, sobbing, collapses slowly to the floor, caught in
a nightmare and unable to wake up.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. POLICE STATION – DAY

Detective Ybarra is sitting at his desk, not happy about a
lot of his life at this moment. He’s turning over the photos
of the missing kids identified by Sanford Clark and arranging
them on his desk the way you might arrange cards, playing
solitaire. He looks up —

— to see Sanford being led out of one of the holding areas,
hands cuffed, clothes in his hands. Being transferred to a
waiting bus. The two exchange a look. Ybarra looks away.
Sanford continues toward the bus.

Finally, in agony, Ybarra can’t take it any more. He rises,
goes to the officer standing by the door to the bus.

YBARRA
It’s all right, I’ll take it from
here.

OFFICER
But —

YBARRA
We need him for questioning. Come
on….

He leads Sanford away, then stops two passing officers.

CHANGELING A True Story 80.


YBARRA
You two…you’ve just been
requisitioned for backup. I’ll
explain on the way.

He hurries off. The officers follow, not sure what’s up.

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM – EVENING

Christine sits beside Carol’s bed. She’s awake but dazed.
Christine dabs a wet cloth against her forehead.

CHRISTINE
You shouldn’t have done that.

CAROL DEXTER
(with difficulty)
Wanted…to. Felt…good.

Carol takes her hand, holds it.

CAROL DEXTER
I lost…two babies…to back alley
doctors…no choice….
(beat)
Never had…the chance…to fight
for them. You do. Don’t stop.

CHRISTINE
I won’t…I won’t.

CAROL DEXTER
Fuck them…and the horse…they
rode in on.

Christine manages a thin smile, despite her tears.

CHRISTINE
That’s hardly appropriate language
for a lady, now is it?

CAROL DEXTER
Hell, yeah…there are times…that’s
exactly the right thing to say.

CHRISTINE
And when’s that?

CAROL DEXTER
When you’ve got…nothing left to
lose.

Christine touches her face, and we know she’s heard this.

DISSOLVE TO:

CHANGELING A True Story 81.


EXT. NORTHCOTT RANCH – EVENING

Two squad cars pull up to the ranch. Ybarra and the other
officers get out, guns up, not knowing if Gordon is still
there or not.

SUPERIMPOSE: SEPTEMBER 12, 1928

They move quickly through the area, checking the house.
Everything’s dark, silent. One officer runs into the house,
there’s a long pause…then he pokes his head out again.

OFFICER
All clear.

Ybarra goes back to the car, opens the door. Sanford emerges.

YBARRA
All right. Show me.

Sanford hesitates, then starts toward a nearby barn.

INT. BARN – CONTINUOUS

He slides the door open and walks to the far end. The dirt
here is a strange white-yellow color. Ybarra follows, still
keeping a wary eye out for trouble. He looks down at where
Sanford has stopped. Several bags marked LYE are nearby.

YBARRA
This it? You’re sure?

Sanford nods. Ybarra edges toward a shovel, hands it to him.

YBARRA
Dig.
(off sanford’s look)
You put ‘em in the ground, you can
take ‘em out of the ground. Go on.

Sanford takes the shovel and starts cutting out sections of
dirt and lye, dust rising around them. Ybarra watches,
pensively, as the other officers edge their way in. He’s
looking the other way when one of the officers reacts:

OFFICER
Holy god….

Ybarra glances back…to see a child’s shoe being unearthed.
And beside it…bones. And then…a skull.

YBARRA
Call it in…get the coroner and
every officer in a twenty mile radius
here inside the hour.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 82.


YBARRA (Cont’d)
Then put out an APB on Gordon Stewart
Northcott, the info is in my car.
Go on….

The officer races out of the barn as Ybarra looks to Sanford,
who is still digging, crying as he goes.

YBARRA
You can stop now, son.
(he doesn’t)
You can stop now. It’s over. We
can take it from here. It’s over.

Sobbing, Sanford drops the shovel and collapses on the ground,
hands covering his face, crying in great, heaving sobs.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. HOSPITAL – MENTAL WARD – HALLWAY – MORNING

The patients are lined up outside their rooms for inspection.
Steele passes down them in review. Stops in front of
Christine, who looks exhausted, worn, pale, her eyes
bloodshot…but still defiant. He glances to the orderlies.

STEELE
Privacy, please.

The orderlies move all of the other patients away, except for
Christine, who shares a glance with Carol. Several other
orderlies remain. He glances at her chart in his hands.

STEELE
I see you’ve still been refusing
medication, requiring force-feeding.
I see they switched to a rubber
tube. I hear that can quite
uncomfortable.

She doesn’t answer. Her eyes never leave his. He pulls
another copy of the letter out of the folder.

STEELE
Six days, Mrs. Collins, and no
progress. We may have to go to
more…strenuous therapies.
(beat)
Unless you’re willing to prove you’re
doing better…by signing this.

He holds it up in front of her. She focuses first on it,
then on him…and finally, her spine where it needs to be
even if the rest of her is in shambles, looks at him and says:

CHANGELING A True Story 83.


CHRISTINE
Fuck you….and the horse…you
rode in on.

He nods, shrugs, puts the letter back in the folder. Turns
to the orderlies.

STEELE
Room eighteen.

They GRAB her and start muscling her down the hall, Christine
kicking and screaming as they go. Steele continues out to

INT. HOSPITAL – RECEIVING AREA – MOMENTS LATER

where he comes through the double-barred door just as Gustav
Briegleb charges in the front door, carrying a newspaper.

BRIEGLEB
I WANT TO TALK TO SOMEBODY IN CHARGE!
RIGHT NOW!

NURSE
Sir, please —

BRIEGLEB
WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE!

Steele approaches.

STEELE
I’m head doctor on duty. What’s
the problem?

BRIEGLEB
You the doctor who’s got Christine
Collins locked up in here?
Intercut with:

INT. ROOM EIGHTEEN – CONTINUOUS

They wheel Christine into the room, struggling, fighting
against the straps that pin her to the gurney.

INT. HOSPITAL – RECEIVING AREA – CONTINUOUS

Steele turns away from Briegleb, unconcerned.

STEELE
Sorry, we don’t discuss our cases
with anyone other than family —

BRIEGLEB
You’ll damned well discuss this one
with me!

CHANGELING A True Story 84.


STEELE
Sir —

Briegleb THRUSTS the newspaper into Steele’s hands.

BRIEGLEB
Read it! Read it, damn you!

Steele unfolds the paper, looks at the headline, which we
don’t see. His reaction, though, is ominous and serious.

INT. ROOM EIGHTEEN – CONTINUOUS

The nurse behind Christine applies the conductor jell to her
temples. She’s fighting the best she can, but it’s hopeless.
The nurse picks up the electro-shock pincers. Places them on
Christine’s temples. Reaches for the button —

— as suddenly the door opens, and a nurse steps in, stopping
the process. The nurse goes to the one at the controls,
whispers in her ear. The nurse then says something quietly
to the orderly, who starts to undo the straps that hold
Christine to the gurney.

NURSE
The doctor wants to see you.

They pull her up off the gurney.

INT. HOSPITAL – STEELE’S OFFICE – MOMENTS LATER

Christine is ushered inside, where Steele is waiting. He
looks upset about something.

STEELE
Mrs. Collins.

She forces herself to stand straight, not easy given what
she’s just been through. He approaches.

STEELE
One last time. Are you, or are you
not, prepared to sign that letter?

She looks up into his face, her resolve unshaken, her voice
dry but firm for:

CHRISTINE
No.

He studies her for one last BEAT, then turns his back.

STEELE
You’re free to go.

CHANGELING A True Story 85.


Christine takes a moment to process this…not sure if she
heard this right, or if it’s a trick.

CHRISTINE
…what?

STEELE
Your clothes are in the next room.
You can change there.

She hesitates a second, looks to the orderly, being careful
in case this is a set-up.

CHRISTINE
Next door.

STEELE
That’s right.
(to the orderly)
See to it.

The orderly nods. She takes one last look around, then gets
the hell out of the room. Alone, Steele picks up the newspaper
that had been laying face-down on his desk, looks at it, and
shakes his head.

STEELE
Christ….

INT. HOSPITAL – MENTAL WARD – DAY ROOM – MOMENTS LATER

Carol is there as Christine, now in her regular clothes, comes
dashing in. Carol sees her, goes to her.

CAROL DEXTER
You’re getting out?

CHRISTINE
I am out.

CAROL DEXTER
How —

CHRISTINE
I don’t know…but I couldn’t go
without saying goodbye —

CAROL DEXTER
Christine, don’t be stupid, get out
of here fast in case they change
their mind.

CHRISTINE
I will…but I want you to know:
once I have my boy back, I’m coming
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 86.


CHRISTINE (Cont’d)
back here…for you, and the others.
This is wrong, and we can stop it —

CAROL DEXTER
You are crazy.

CHRISTINE
Watch me.

They hug. Christine breaks the hug, and hurries away as Carol
looks on, crying.

INT. HOSPITAL – RECEIVING AREA – MOMENTS LATER

Christine comes to the area where she was checked in. No one
is looking at her. She passes the nurse’s station and heads
toward the door. Opens it. Fresh air comes in. Freedom.
She steps out the front door as —

— a moment later, Briegleb passes through the hallway with
an admissions official, having not seen her.

BRIEGLEB
You give me every piece of paper
you’ve got on this case, you hear
me? Every piece!

The official moves on, nervous, as Briegleb looks to the
receiving nurse.

BRIEGLEB
When does she come down?

Before she can answer, we jump out to

EXT. STREET – CONTINUOUS
Where Christine walks among the sidewalk traffic. Free.
Vindicated. She starts to pass a news-stand, where a NEWS
VENDOR is calling out headlines, peddling papers.

NEWS VENDOR
Hurricane hits West Palm Beach!
Babe Ruth hits 53rd home run!
Kids found murdered in Riverside!

The last line stops Christine…just a bad sense that grows
as she turns to the news vendor, who keeps on going.

NEWS VENDOR
Biggest Crime in Los Angeles History!
(beat)
Collins Boy Assumed Dead on Ranch!

CHANGELING A True Story 87.


Christine’s knees buckle as she hears this. She starts to go
down as Briegleb runs toward her from the hospital.

REV. BRIEGLEB
Mrs. Collins…Christine…!

CHRISTINE
No…god…no….

And she collapses into his arms, sobbing uncontrollably, as
passers-by glance over at her…and continue walking.

REV. BRIEGLEB
I’m sorry…I didn’t want you to
find out like this…I’m sorry…I’m
sorry….

But they’re just words. She doesn’t hear them.

INT. POLICE STATION – HALLWAY – DAY

Captain Jones is pacing nervously in the hallway for a long
BEAT when another officer steps out of an office with a brass
nameplate that reads CHIEF OF POLICE JAMES E DAVIS.

OFFICER
The chief will see you now.

Jones straightens his tie and steps into

INT. CHIEF DAVIS’ OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

lots of dark wood and filtered light. Davis is sitting at
his desk, looking at a series of newspapers in front of him
as Jones steps up and stands before the desk.

DAVIS
I don’t know if you’re aware of it,
Captain, but I have an exceptionally
good vocabulary. I’m a terror at
Scrabble, crossword puzzles, but
even I’m in awe of the vocabulary
that the press and the city council
have been exercising in reference
to this department courtesy of the
Christine Collins…incident.
(scans papers)
Incompetent. Cowardly. Bullying.
Reprehensible. Mendacious and
invidious…those two courtesy of
that prick Gustav Briegleb. Bonus
words in Scrabble, both of them.
Especially invidious. Hard to work
that one into a conversation. But
he managed it, all right.

CHANGELING A True Story 88.


JONES
Sir, I —

DAVIS
The key, of course, is the context
in which words like this get used.
You have to do that in scrabble,
you know, when somebody challenges
a word…show how it’s used in a
sentence. So “incompetent,” as in —
(reads)
“A department so incompetent that
they never realized that up to twenty
children were being kidnapped and
murdered under their very noses.”
(looks over)
And here: “So incompetent that they
insisted they knew better than a
mother the identity of her own child,
forced him upon her, and then
incarcerated her when she confronted
them with evidence of their own
reprehensible behavior.” That was
a two-fer. Incompetent and
reprehensible in the same sentence.
Guy must be a real terror at
crossword puzzles.

Davis gets up and crosses the room, looking out through the
slatted windows at the busy Los Angeles street outside.

DAVIS
Captain, your handling of the Collins
case has exposed this department to
public ridicule. There is even the
potential for civil and criminal
liability.
JONES
Sir, nobody could have known what
was going on up at that ranch. Not
us, not the Sheriff’s Department,
the Marshall’s Office…as for the
Collins woman….
(beat)
I’m still not convinced that her
kid is among the victims up in
Wineville.

DAVIS
No?

JONES
No, sir.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 89.


JONES (Cont’d)
There were four other photos of
missing boys that looked a lot like
him…this Clark kid could have
been mistaken.

DAVIS
Maybe he was…which raises the
obvious question: so what?

JONES
Sir?

Davis turns back to him from the window.

DAVIS
The Mayor wants this to go away. I
want this to go away. The way you
do that is to stop insisting that
Walter Collins was not among those
kids killed up at that goddamned
ranch. Because if the boy you
brought back isn’t Walter Collins,
and he’s not dead up at that ranch,
then where the hell is he? People
will want to know why we haven’t
found him. Why we aren’t we doing
our job.
(beat)
But if, on the other hand, he is,
or could be among those poor boys
killed up in Wineville…then the
inquiries stop. It’s a momentary
embarrassment that you’ll have to
live with…but better a short
inconvenience than a lingering
problem, wouldn’t you say, Captain?
Jones doesn’t like it, but he swallows his pride. Nods.

JONES
Yes, sir.

DAVIS
The boy’s been gone for nearly a
year. If he was going to be found,
it would’ve happened by now. Whether
he was up at that ranch or not, the
truth is he probably is dead
somewhere. Better his mother accepts
that now rather than later, don’t
you think?

JONES
Yes, sir.

CHANGELING A True Story 90.


DAVIS
Good. That’ll be all, Captain.

Jones starts to leave, then looks back as Davis settles back
behind his desk.

JONES
Sir, there’s talk of an investigation
by the police commission.

DAVIS
Let me worry about the commission.
But it wouldn’t hurt to find out
just who the fuck that kid is you
brought back from De Kalb and why
he did this, because the press bought
into his bullshit same as we did.
That we were all taken in by the
scheming little bastard may help
take some of the sting off this.

JONES
My boys are working on it now, sir.

And he exits as we go to

INT. INTERROGATION ROOM – DAY

Detective Ybarra is sitting on one side of a table, a notepad
in front of him, staring across at “Walter,” who isn’t very
happy right now, and is staring back with substantial venom.
His true, nasty personality is free to come out at last.
There’s a long BEAT, then:

“WALTER”
I want a glass of water.

YBARRA
Tough.

“WALTER”
(mocking)
“Tough!”

YBARRA
What’s your name?

“WALTER”
Walter Collins.

YBARRA
Walter Collins is dead.

“WALTER”
(shrugs)
I didn’t do it.

CHANGELING A True Story 91.


YBARRA
Look, let me explain something to
you. Because of your lies, you’ve
ruined a woman’s life embarrassed
the police department, and got the
whole city up in arms over this.

“Walter” considers this for a BEAT, then smiles.

“WALTER”
Got a lot done, didn’t I?

Ybarra exchanges a look with the matron, then closes up his
notepad.

YBARRA
All right, if that’s how you want
it, then I guess we’re done here.
(to matron)
Tell County Jail we’re remanding
him for trial.

“WALTER”
Wait…what’s remanding? What trial?

YBARRA
I told you, the real Walter Collins
was murdered.

“WALTER”
So? I didn’t do anything! I wasn’t
even here when it happened!

YBARRA
By pretending to be Walter Collins,
you’re interfering in a police
investigation of a kidnapping and
murder. We can try you as an
accomplice to murder after the fact.
(beat)
Too bad. County Jail is a lot worse
than juvenile hall or a foster home.
A lot worse.

“WALTER”
You can’t do that…I’m just a kid!

YBARRA
Sanford Clark is a kid, too.
Fifteen. But he’s going to jail.
All murderers and their accomplices
go to jail. Everyone knows that.
(to the matron)
Get him out of here. It’s out of
my hands now.

CHANGELING A True Story 92.


He heads for the door when “Walter” cries out, scared.

“WALTER”
Wait! I don’t want to go to jail.

YBARRA
Prove it.

And on the boy’s face, we HEAR:

YBARRA (V.O.)
Arthur Hutchins.

INT. JONES’ OFFICE – MOMENTS LATER

Ybarra is standing in the doorway to Jones’ office, speaking
to the Captain and looking at his notepad.

YBARRA
The boy’s real name is Arthur
Hutchins Junior, age twelve, a
runaway from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

JONES
Did you check the wire services?

Ybarra holds up a missing persons sheet.

YBARRA
Checks out. The report was filed
by his divorced mother, who lives
in Clinton, Iowa with the boy’s
grandmother. Apparently he didn’t
like living with the old lady, she
didn’t let him get away with the
stuff he usually got away with, and
one day…he up and left.
JONES
What about the man he showed up
with at the diner?

YBARRA
Just some drifter. The boy was
hungry, ran into this guy who said
he knew how to get some food and
not have to pay for it. Only when
they finished, he left the kid behind
while he cut out. When the police
picked him up, they started going
through the wire reports about
missing kids —

JONES
And he overheard them say the name
Walter Collins.

CHANGELING A True Story 93.


YBARRA
Bingo.

JONES
But why that one? I mean, of all
the police departments he could’ve
screwed up, why Los Angeles?

YBARRA
I asked him the same question.

INT. INTERROGATION ROOM – FLASHBACK

Moments earlier. PUSHING IN on “Walter” for:

“WALTER”
I…I knew that Los Angeles was
where they made the Tom Mix movies.
I figured maybe I could meet Tom
Mix. Maybe he’d even let me ride
his horse.
(beat)
His horse is named Blue. Did you

know that?

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. ST. PAUL’S CHURCH – RECTORY – DAY

Christine is in a bed in a small room in the rectory, a tray
beside her, still recovering from her experience. Briegleb
enters and approaches a nearby chair.

BRIEGLEB
How are you feeling?

CHRISTINE
A little better, thanks. The sleep
helped. Anything new outside?

BRIEGLEB
Nothing that can’t wait until you’re
stronger. The police still have a
car parked outside. They want to
know what your next move is.

CHRISTINE
I want to go home.

BRIEGLEB
And then?

She takes a BEAT, then slowly, gingerly gets out of bed.

CHANGELING A True Story 94.


CHRISTINE
I’ve been giving that a great deal
of thought ever since I got out of
that…place. All those women, and
what they did about Walter….
(beat)
They’re going to just keep on doing
it, aren’t they? Nothing’s going
to change…unless we make it change.

She glances out the window, to the police car parked across
the street.

CHRISTINE
I used to tell Walter, “Never start
a fight…but always finish it.” I
didn’t start this fight…but by
god I’m going to finish it.

BRIEGLEB
It’s dangerous, and you’ve already
been through a great deal, Mrs.
Collins. Right now you’re
sufficiently high-profile that the
police will hesitate to come after
you out in the open…but if they
see their position threatened, that
could change quickly.
(beat)
Your life could be in danger.

She takes a beat, then turns to him from the window.

CHRISTINE
“Always finish it. Always.”

EXT. ROW HOUSE – VANCOUVER – EVENING
A series of red-brick rowhouses line a quiet street. We see
couples walking, hand in hand, kids playing…then we notice
Gordon Northcott coming around the corner. He looks around,
then cuts across a yard, jumping over a fence to get to

INT. ROW HOUSE – LIVING ROOM – EVENING

where RACHEL CLARK, 30s, is doing dishes as the doorbell rings.

RACHEL CLARK
Just a minute….

She opens the door and finds Gordon Northcott standing outside.

GORDON
Hi, sis.

There’s a flicker of a pause…was she expecting him?

CHANGELING A True Story 95.


RACHEL CLARK
Gordon…I didn’t know you were
back in town.

GORDON
Got in a couple of days ago, figured
I’d surprise you. That okay?

RACHEL CLARK
Yes…yes, of course. Come on in.

She steps aside as he enters, looks around.

GORDON
Where’s that little niece of mine?

RACHEL CLARK
She…went into town. Should be
back this evening. Bob’s here —

GORDON
Good. Need to talk to him about
staying on for a few days.

RACHEL CLARK
Staying —

GORDON
Listen, can I use your bathroom?
It’s been a long ride and I could
use a shower.

RACHEL CLARK
Of course.

He passes her and heads upstairs. She steps to the back of
the house, where her husband, BOB, is coming in through the
back, wiping engine grease off his hands with a towel.
BOB
Is that —
(she nods, scared)
Go next door. I’ll call the police.
Hurry.

She rushes past him into the other room to do just that.

INT. ROWHOUSE – BATHROOM – LATER

Gordon is toweling off his hair when he hears a car door slam
shut. Then another. He peers out the window. Several Royal
Canadian Mounted Police cars have pulled up along the street.
Mounties are getting out, moving quietly toward the house.

CHANGELING A True Story 96.


INT. LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

Bob quietly lets the Mounties in. They signal for Bob to get
the hell out of there. Guns in hand, they climb the stairs.

Suddenly there’s the SOUND of breaking glass from above.
They race up the stairs to find the window broken, and Gordon
fleeing across an adjoining rooftop.

MOUNTIE
Go around the other side! Cut him
off!

The others take off as he and another Mountie climb through
the broken window in pursuit of Northcott.

EXT. ROWHOUSES – NIGHT

Gordon races up one rooftop, over the top, then leaps to the
next one as, below, Mounties race to keep up with him, WHISTLES
blowing furiously. He looks behind him to see the other two
Mounties running rooftop to rooftop, coming fast.

Gordon runs faster, going at angles to put more distance
between himself and the police on the ground…and making
increasingly more difficult and dangerous leaps from rooftop
to rooftop.

He leaps across one chasm, barely makes it, keeps running.
The rooftop Mounties follow. One of them makes the jump
successfully, but the other falls short, plummeting to the
ground three stories below. A leg snaps on impact. The first
Mountie hesitates, looks down. The second one waves him on.

SECOND MOUNTIE
Go on! Get the bastard!

He nods and continues the chase.
Gordon runs for all he’s worth. The Mountie keeps after him.

Gordon makes another leap. The Mountie jumps…but he’s short.
He grabs onto a rain gutter. Gordon sees his situation, runs
back, and STOMPS on the Mountie’s hands, trying to get him to
shake loose. The gutter starts to tear free —

— when a Mountie down below FIRES at Gordon, making him back
off. The Mountie clinging to the gutter starts to fall, then
grabs a nearby pipe and crawls up to the roof. Keeps coming.

Gordon keeps running…but comes to a chasm too wide to be
jumped. He hesitates, starts to cut back in another direction —

— when the Mountie TACKLES him hard. The two go down in a
tangle of limbs, fighting, punching, kicking.

CHANGELING A True Story 97.


They SLIDE down the steeply angled roof and barely avoid going
over the edge.

With nowhere else to run, Gordon fights for all he’s got, the
punches from both coming fast and furious. Finally, the
Mountie backs off just a bit —

MOUNTIE
Screw this…I’m too old for this
fightin’ shit….

— and DIVES at Gordon, taking them both off the edge of the
two-story roof and DOWN into —

— a garden below, CRASHING through carefully manicured flowers
and trees to land with a THUD, the Mountie’s impact cushioned
by Gordon.

As the other Mounties come on the run, the first one staggers
to his feet and yanks up a bruised, bleeding but otherwise
intact Gordon. Looks at him nose-to-nose.

MOUNTIE
YOU…ARE UNDER…ARREST!

And he YANKS Gordon toward the other waiting officers.

INT. CHRISTINE’S HOUSE – DAY

Christine opens the door to find Reverend Briegleb and another
man on her porch, S. S. HAHN, late fifties.

BRIEGLEB
Mrs. Collins, I want you to meet a
friend of mine, Mr. Hahn.

CHRISTINE
Hello.
HAHN
Mrs. Collins. My deepest condolences
on your loss.

REV. BRIEGLEB
Can we come in?

CHRISTINE
Yes…of course.

She steps aside to let them in, closing the door under:

CHRISTINE
Mr. Hahn, was it?

HAHN
Yes.

CHANGELING A True Story 98.


CHRISTINE
I appreciate the sentiment, but so
far they still haven’t positively
identified any of the…remains…
as Walter’s.

HAHN
But he was identified, was he not?

CHRISTINE
Yes, but…I guess I still can’t
accept it. It doesn’t feel real to
me.

HAHN
It never does. I lost a daughter
to polio five years ago. There’s
not a day goes by I don’t think, I
should mention this to Claudine…
then I remember she’s not here.

CHRISTINE
I’m sorry. Please, sit.

They do as Christine looks to Briegleb.

CHRISTINE
I’ve been on the phone all day with
the appointment secretary for the
police commission. They won’t let
me testify at the hearing, or call
witnesses. They say it’s not
necessary.

REV. BRIEGLEB
I know. My sources tell me the
police commission is going to come
out with a report that whitewashes
the whole thing. They’re going to
say that Jones and the rest of the
LAPD did absolutely nothing wrong,
that the real blame is with the
kid…and with you, for being
difficult and forcing them to put
you away for your own safety.

CHRISTINE
Then we’ll just have to hire a
lawyer…bring a civil suit and try
to get the City Council to call for
a hearing by the Welfare Board.

REV. BRIEGLEB
Jut one problem.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 99.


REV. BRIEGLEB (Cont’d)
Not one lawyer outside this room
was willing to take on the Police
Department. Too risky, they said.
So finally I went to the very best
attorney in town, a man who’s sued
the city four times and won.
Unfortunately, we could never afford
to hire him.

CHRISTINE
(crestfallen)
I see….

HAHN
Which is why I’m doing this pro
bono.
(a smile)
It would be my honor to defend your
honor, Mrs. Collins. In my fifteen
years as a lawyer, I have never
seen anyone fight as long or as
hard as you have, in what is so
clearly in the cause of justice.

REV. BRIEGLEB
Now I want you to tell Mr. Hahn
here the whole story, from end to
end, leave nothing out, he’ll need
it all if he’s going to get the
City Council involved.

CHRISTINE
Of course. One thing, though. A
personal favor. When we’ve finished
here today, could you spare a few
minutes to come with me downtown.
HAHN
Of course. Where downtown?

INT. LA COUNTY GENERAL HOSPITAL – MENTAL WARD – DAY

Hahn marches into the receiving area with Christine Collins
and Briegleb. He goes to the receiving nurse.

NURSE
Yes? May I —

She sees Christine Collins and the sentence dies midway.
Hahn pulls out a handful of papers.

HAHN
My name is S. S.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 100.


HAHN (Cont’d)
Hahn, and I have a court order for
the immediate release of all women
being detained in this institution
under the designation Code Twelve
pending a formal inquiry into the
reasons for their detainment.

NURSE
I’m sorry, but the doctor in charge
won’t be in until tomorrow morning
and —

HAHN
Let me be clearer. Either you open
those doors and produce the people
named in that court order, or you
will find yourself on the other
side of those bars…without a key.

The nurse exchanges a sour look with Christine and heads off.

EXT. HOSPITAL – DAY

One by one, the Code Twelve patients are brought out of the
hospital and into the light. One of the last to emerge is
Carol Dexter, who blinks against the light, and sees Christine.
She runs to her, embraces her, sobbing.

CAROL DEXTER
I knew you’d come…I knew you’d
come back…I knew you’d come….

CHRISTINE
It’s all right…everything’s going
to be all right now….

And in Christine’s face, we see a flicker of pride and one
simple truth: if she could not save her son, she could at
least save these women. As they move toward her, Hahn and
Briegleb, we HEAR a TRAIN WHISTLE that segues us into

EXT. UNION STATION – TRAIN PLATFORM – DAY

Gordon Northcott, handcuffed, is led out of a train by several
officers. The waiting PRESS rush toward him. He seems to
enjoy the attention. Among the shouted questions we hear:

REPORTER
Mr. Northcott, any comment on your
arrest?

GORDON
I’m feeling fine.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 101.


GORDON (Cont’d)
I’ve been on a little vacation, as
some of you know. It was a pleasant
vacation, and the police have
certainly provided me with a lot of
amusement.

REPORTER
How did you avoid capture?

GORDON
Well, I didn’t, did I? Didn’t know
anyone wanted me until just recently.
Didn’t even try. My luggage still
has my initials on it.

ANOTHER REPORTER
Did you know why the police were
after you?

GORDON
No, but I figured it would be best
if I stayed out of it.

REPORTER
Anything to say to the parents of
the children you murdered?

GORDON
No comment.

And on that the police hustle Gordon away.

INT. CHIEF DAVIS’ OFFICE – DAY

Davis is filling out paperwork as the door opens. He looks
up as LOS ANGELES MAYOR GEORGE CRYER enters, closing the door
after him again.
DAVIS
Mayor Cryer…this is unexpected.

CRYER
So was this.

He drops a series of court documents on Davis’ desk. He picks
them up, examines them.

CRYER
Subpoenas, requests for depositions,
interrogatories…all courtesy of
Mr. Hahn and his new client,
Christine Collins.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 102.


CRYER (Cont’d)
You don’t have to look them over
too closely, Chief, your own copies
should be arriving any time now.
(beat)
The City Council has also agreed to
look into this, starting immediately.

DAVIS
Goddamnit….

CRYER
I thought this was supposed to go
away. This is an election year, I
can’t afford this kind of press.

DAVIS
It is going away, sir. I instructed
Captain Jones —

CRYER
I’m afraid falling on his sword and
saying he made a mistake isn’t going
to be good enough, Chief. If we
take him out of the picture for a
while, it might help calm things
down until the hearing’s finished.
(beat)
There are several people on the
council who are planning to run
against me, and they’d love to accuse
me of allowing a renegade police
force to operate with impunity.

Cryer shakes his head, walks off a pace.

CRYER
Our friends in the press are having
a field day with this mess. I’m
getting five hundred phone calls,
letters and telegrams a day demanding
to know what the hell is going on
at City Hall that we allow our police
force to brutalize women and misplace
children. Christ, all this picture
needs now is for somebody to kick a
puppy for the cameras.
(beat)
This is a train, Chief, and we need
to either get in front of it, or be
run over by it.

DAVIS
Mayor Cryer…I stand by my men.
You know that.

CHANGELING A True Story 103.


CRYER
I do. And you know where I stand.
So the question is..are we going to
stand together…or hang together?

He lets the question sit as we go to

EXT. CITY HALL – DAY

Mayor Cryer stands beside Chief Davis and addresses a rather
noisy and worked-up press corps from behind a podium.

MAYOR CRYER
Gentlemen…gentlemen, please. As
Mayor of Los Angeles, it is my duty
to preserve the peace in our city,
which has been disrupted by recent
events in the case of Christine
Collins. As a result, we have
decided that Captain J. J. Jones of
the Lincoln Heights Division is to
be suspended from active duty,
effective immediately.

REPORTER
What’s the charge, Chief?

CHIEF DAVIS
The charge is conduct unbecoming an
officer, and using improper and
abusive language toward Mrs. Collins.
It further charges that he exceeded
his authority as a police officer
by incarcerating Mrs. Collins on
the alleged charge of insanity
without sufficient cause.

REPORTER
Mayor Cryer, are you aware that the
City Council has said it plans to
open its own investigation into the
Collins case?

MAYOR CRYER
I’ve heard this, yes. But since
one of the main purposes of such a
hearing by the City Council would
be to suspend Captain Jones, and
since that action has now been taken,
the question is moot.

REPORTER
Which makes it look like the only
reason Jones is being suspended is
to head off the City Council
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 104.


REPORTER (Cont’d)
investigation. Are you concerned
that an outside investigation might
go uncomfortably high up the food
chain?

CHIEF DAVIS
I won’t even dignify that question
with a response. Good day.

The two head back into

INT. CITY HALL – HALLWAY – CONTINUOUS

Glancing back over their shoulders at the press outside.

CRYER
Cheer up, Chief. That little show
should take the wind out of their
sails. By Monday, this issue will
be as cold as yesterday’s fish.
Never underestimate the public’s
lack of attention and potential for
apathy. Old news is dead news,
you’ll see.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. CHRISTINE’S HOUSE – NIGHT

She opens the door as Briegleb enters with three really large,
dangerous looking men, one of whom is carrying a heavy trench
coat.

CHRISTINE
Reverend, what —

BRIEGLEB
Sorry to barge in so late, Mrs.
Collins, but it took me a while to
find the right people for the right
job. These three gentlemen are
members of my congregation who,
before coming to the Lord, had lived
lives of brutality, vice and crime.
Now they are pledged to doing god’s
work…and if this isn’t it, I don’t
know what is.

CHRISTINE
I don’t understand.

BRIEGLEB
People who bring charges against
the police have a habit of
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 105.


BRIEGLEB (Cont’d)
disappearing right before the trial.
I’m a big believer in the power of
prayer, Mrs. Collins…but a little
backup from time to time never hurts.

The others nod as they make themselves comfortable in the
living room.

CHRISTINE
I see…well, I…thank you. Can I
get you anything?

BRIEGLEB
Since we don’t plan on sleeping,
coffee would be lovely.

She heads off to get some coffee. As one of the men puts his
coat behind the sofa, we see that it contains a sawed-off
shotgun. Briegleb looks out the window, to where a police
car sits, watching the house.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. CHRISTINE’S HOUSE – MORNING

She’s dressed in her best dress, putting on a hat and a pair
of gloves. Her hands are shaking. She squeezes them together,
closes her eyes. Focuses. With one final, deep breath, she
heads out.

EXT. COLLINS HOME – MORNING

The same police car is there as Christine gets into a car
with Briegleb and the two drive off. The other three men get
into another car and follow. The police car in turn pulls
away from the curb, following both cars.
EXT. DOWNTOWN STREET – BRIEGLEB’S CAR – MOMENTS LATER

He’s aware that they’re being followed, glancing in the rear
view mirror to keep an eye on things. Looks over to Christine,
smiles encouragingly. Looks ahead.

BRIEGLEB
Traffic’s getting heavy. We’ll go
up Spring.

He turns. The other cars do the same. But the traffic here
is even worse. Just then, Briegleb looks back in his rear
view mirror to see —

— another police car pulling out of a driveway and cutting
off the car with Christine’s bodyguards.

CHANGELING A True Story 106.


Briegleb turns quickly, trying to get ahead, but the street’s
too busy. He looks in the mirror to see that another police
car glide into position two cars behind them.

Traffic stops. Jammed. Briegleb is nervous, sensing the
very real possibility of a hit being set up. The traffic is
lined right up against parked cars on either side. Then
there’s a momentary break in traffic.

BRIEGLEB
Hold on.

He turns hard into the driveway of a closed shop and shuts
off the engine. Jumps out and opens the door for Christine,
who gets out.

BRIEGLEB
Start walking. Quickly.

They do. He glances back at the police car. The two inside
start to open the doors, but they can’t get them open, being
right up against parked cars on one side and traffic on the
other. They run the siren to clear traffic, but it’s too
late as —

— Christine and Briegleb hurry down the street on foot,
Briegleb glancing behind them. The foot- and car-traffic is
very heavy…we HEAR horns honking and, in the distance,
something that could be the sound of lots of people.

REV. BRIEGLEB
Almost there. Just a few more
blocks.

CHRISTINE
Where is all this traffic’s coming
from…?
Briegleb glances back. The police car has popped its doors,
and two trench-coated officers are getting out. Christine
stops a man passing in the opposite direction.

CHRISTINE
Excuse me, can you tell me what the
problem is up ahead?

MAN
Didn’t you hear? It’s the biggest
protest I’ve ever seen.

REV. BRIEGLEB
Protest?

OFFICER
Yeah…over that Collins broad, if
you can believe that.

CHANGELING A True Story 107.


He moves on. Briegleb and Collins slowly exchange a look
somewhere between disbelief and “oh shit.”

CHRISTINE
He didn’t mean…he couldn’t mean —

REV. BRIEGLEB
I don’t know…all I know is that I
think I just stopped breathing….

They walk quickly up one clogged street and down another, the
police following on foot…moving toward the SOUND of voices,
drums, and cars honking… until they turn onto Spring Street —

— and find themselves in the middle of the biggest protest
march ever recorded in the history of Los Angeles to this
date. Thousands of people crowd into the street, overwhelming
the police presence…not rioting, but making their voices
heard.

The Salvation Army, the Women’s Temperance Society, the Society
for Justice, Catholic groups, Union groups and ordinary
citizens carrying placards and signs that read WE SUPPORT
CHRISTINE COLLINS and JUSTICE FOR MRS. COLLINS and THE LAPD:
A CITY’S SHAME…it just goes on and on and on. Christine
looks out to see her boss from the telephone company, Mr.
Harris, marching arm in arm with the rest. He sees her,
smiles, tips his hat and continues marching.

Christine is stunned…Briegleb even moreso.

CHRISTINE
Oh…my….

REV. BRIEGLEB
The Lord works in mysterious ways,
Mrs. Collins.
He looks behind them, to where the police have stopped.
There’s no way in hell they can make a move in the face of
something as big as t his. Briegleb smiles.

REV. BRIEGLEB
Boy howdy, does He ever. Come on.

They continue up the street toward City Hall.

THORPE (V.O.)
Ladies and Gentlemen…can I have
your attention, please….

INT. CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS – DAY

This is a big room, and one thousand observers fill every
available chair with more standing along the wall in back.
It’s a circus. Christine sits with Hahn.

CHANGELING A True Story 108.


Briegleb is in a seat behind the main section. FLASHBULBS
pop as THORPE, a city councilman, speaks.

SUPERIMPOSE: OCTOBER 24, 1928

THORPE
There are nearly one thousand people
gathered in this chamber, more than
have ever been in this room before.

EXT. CITY HALL – PARKING LOT – CONTINUOUS

Speakers are lowered from the window into the parking lot
where hundreds of others are gathered to listen.

THORPE
(on pa)
I therefore ask you to refrain from
demonstrations of any kind. We’re
all here because we want to find
out the real facts in this case,
and everybody is going to be heard
if we have to sit here for a week.

BACK TO SCENE

As Thorpe looks to the other members of the Council, and the
area where witnesses are supposed to wait to be called upon.
A number of seats are empty.

SECOND COUNCILMAN
Mr. Thorpe, I don’t see any other
members of the Police Commission.

THORPE
That’s odd…we specifically
stipulated that we would begin our
hearings with testimony from the
police department. Are there any
representatives of the Police
Commission in the room?
(no answer)
Is Chief Davis here?
(no reply)
Is Captain Jones here? Is there
anyone here representing the police?

A REPORTER raises his hand, then stands.

REPORTER
Mr. Chairman…Richard Thomas, The
Evening Herald. Both the Police
Chief and Captain Jones are in San
Pedro for a police inspection at a
station there.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 109.


REPORTER (Cont’d)
Only reason I know is we have a
couple of our boys out covering the
thing.

THORPE
Are you telling me they directly
violated the wishes of the City
Council? That they refused to attend
a vital hearing so they could conduct
a routine inspection in San Pedro?
And what the hell is Jones doing at
an inspection after being suspended?
(beat)
I hate to call a recess before we’ve
even started, but I think a few
phone calls are in order. So we’ll
take a half hour break, then continue
with the witnesses who have appeared
here today. But let it be known
that Captain Jones and Police Chief
Davis will be subpoenaed and required
to appear here tomorrow morning.

There’s APPLAUSE from the crowd which breaks up into pockets
of discussion as a BAILIFF approaches Hahn and whispers into
his ear. Hahn nods, looks to Christine.

HAHN
Mrs. Collins, could you come across
the street with me for just a moment?

CHRISTINE
But…shouldn’t we —

HAHN
I think there’s something you should
see.
Puzzled, curious, Christine gets up and exits with Hahn.

INT. LA COUNTY COURTHOUSE – HALLWAY – MOMENTS LATER

Hahn is moving quickly down the hall toward a courtroom door,
Christine following.

HAHN
— the police decided it was best
to keep this off the main docket in
order to avoid exactly the sort of
chaos we have across the street.

He gets to the door, pauses. Looks back to her. She nods.
He opens the door and they enter

CHANGELING A True Story 110.


INT. COURTROOM – CONTINUOUS

Dead silence, in marked contrast to the city council room.
As she enters, she sees people sitting silently in the
gallery…row after row of couples, mothers and fathers, some
weeping softly. Some of them notice Christine’s entrance and
nod to her with sadness and a strange sense of common
bond…they are all carrying the same grief.

One of the couples, MR. AND MRS. CLAY, see Christine and go
to her, speaking softly. They should be distinct enough in
appearance that we will recognize them instantly when we see
them again later.

MRS. CLAY
Mrs. Collins? I’m Leanne Clay,
this is my husband, John…I just
wanted to pass on my sympathies.
What we went through, waiting to
hear anything about our son David,
was bad enough, and now this….
(beat)
But there was no call for what the
police did to you…no call at all.

She nods her thanks as a door at the other end of the courtroom
opens. They take their seats as a judge and two attorneys
take their places, preceded by a bailiff.

BAILIFF
All rise.

They do. The judge takes his seat. The rest of the room
also sits. He nods to the bailiff, who in turn opens another
door, leading to the holding area.

As Christine looks on, Gordon Stewart Northcott is ushered
into the courtroom for his initial plea. Some women break
into tears at the sight of him. He first seems startled by
the presence of so many, then he smiles. An audience.

As he takes his place beside his attorney, he looks down the
room and meets the gaze of Christine Collins. Her face pales,
as though slapped…but she doesn’t look away.

GORDON
Hey…I saw you in the papers. You
got a lot of moxie, standing up to
the police like that.

The bailiff forcibly turns him around to face the judge.
Christine’s hands grip the seat she’s in until her knuckles
turn white…but she doesn’t allow him the satisfaction of
seeing her react to his comments. The judge looks up.

CHANGELING A True Story 111.


JUDGE
Gordon Stewart Northcott, you have
been charged with three counts of
murder in the first degree, with an
additional seventeen counts under
review by the district attorney’s
office. How do you plea?

GORDON
Not guilty, your honor.

He glances back at his audience. The bailiff rights him again.

JUDGE
In light of the defendant’s penchant
for international travel, no bail
will be set. This court will receive
preliminary motions by tomorrow
morning, with a trial date to be
set for the earliest opening on the
court’s calendar.
(beat)
The defendant is remanded into
custody. Bailiff….

The bailiff removes Gordon, who shares one last look with his
audience, and Christine in particular. He winks at her. She
doesn’t give him a flicker of satisfaction with a reaction.
But once he’s gone, she sits heavily and covers her eyes,
fighting tears. Hahn puts a hand on her shoulder, but says
nothing. There’s nothing to say.

JONES (V.O.)
The boy, Walter Collins, was reported
as missing on March 10, 1928.

INT. CITY COUNCIL ROOM – DAY
Jones is at last on the stand. Hahn stands before him, the
rest of the City Council, Christine and the huge audience
looking on.

JONES
We then instituted a nationwide
search. On July 10, we received a
cable indicating that a boy matching
his description had been found in
De Kalb, Illinois. Upon questioning,
he admitted to being Walter Collins,
and we made arrangements to transport
him back to California.

HAHN
Where Mrs. Collins told you the boy
was not her son.

CHANGELING A True Story 112.


JONES
Yes. She denied his identity in
spite of all evidence pointing to
the contrary.

HAHN
But as subsequent events have
demonstrated, she was correct. So
what prompted you to send her for
psychological evaluation?

JONES
Whether or not this was in fact the
correct boy was not relevant to my
decision. Throughout this period,
she acted strangely. She was often
cool, aloof and unemotional,
especially when presented with the
boy we located in De Kalb, and in
our subsequent conversations. It
was because of her disturbing
behavior that I submitted her for
observation to the psychopathic
ward of Los Angeles County General
Hospital.

HAHN
Just like that. You snap your
fingers and an innocent woman is
thrown into the psycho ward.

JONES
She wasn’t —

Hahn turns away, playing to the council and the audience.

HAHN
Every home in this state is in grave
danger when a Police Captain can
take a woman into his office and,
five minutes later, have her thrown
into the psychopathic ward on his
own authority!

The crowd applauds and cheers. Joes fights to be heard.

JONES
(over the crowd)
She wasn’t —

HAHN
What was that, Captain?

JONES
She wasn’t thrown. She was…
escorted.

CHANGELING A True Story 113.


There’s laughter from the gallery. He doesn’t like it.

HAHN
Escorted, thrown, the verb doesn’t
matter, Captain. What does matter
is that her incarceration was ordered
without a warrant.

Hahn goes to the exhibit table, picks up several papers.

HAHN
I am holding a carbon copy of the
affidavit of insanity that was issued
in the case of the State of
California vs. Christine Collins.
Who signed the affidavit?

JONES
I did.

HAHN
And what is the date on this
document?

JONES
September 12th.

HAHN
But Mrs. Collins was incarcerated
on September 6th.

JONES
The form is backdated.

HAHN
Yes, so it would appear. The bottom
of the page is reserved for recording
where and when the warrant was
served. But it has not been filled
in. May I assume from this that
the warrant was never served?

JONES
That’s correct. There was no need
to serve the warrant since she was
at that time already in custody.

HAHN
Let me see if I have this straight.
A woman was thrown into the
psychopathic ward without a warrant,
because no warrant existed, and
when it was finally written six
days later, there was no need to
sign it or go to a judge because
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 114.


HAHN (Cont’d)
she was already in the asylum! Is
this correct, Captain?

JONES
Technically…yes.

More murmuring from the crowd.

JONES
Extraordinary steps were necessary
because we were dealing with an
extraordinary situation! Is it our
fault that we were being deceived
by the boy who claimed to be Walter
Collins? No. In light of his claims
and her behavior, who wouldn’t begin
to wonder if there was something
wrong with her?

HAHN
Because she questioned you.

JONES
Because she wouldn’t listen, because
she insisted on being obstinate and
taking matters into her own hands
best left to qualified officers,
because —

HAHN
Because she was fighting for the
life of her son! A boy who may
have still been alive while you
were wasting valuable time denying
you had done anything wrong!

This silences both Jones and the crowd. You could hear a pin
drop. Hahn approaches Jones, and now speaks softly.

HAHN
And in the end, that’s what happened,
isn’t it? At some point, while all
this was going on, Walter Collins
died along with as many as nineteen
other youths on the Northcott Ranch
in Wineville. Is that correct,
Captain?

Jones looks to Chief Davis. It’s a moment. Then:

JONES
Yes. It is.

Christine’s face falls into her hands. The place erupts.

CHANGELING A True Story 115.


HAHN
No further questions.

Hahn walks away from a devastated looking Jones.

EXT. UNION STATION – DAY

A small crowd is assembled at the front of the station, where
Chief Davis stands with the Boy who had been “Walter” as a
train pulls up before them.

CHIEF DAVIS
— so after much effort, we were
able to identify this boy, who was
has been responsible for so much
recent trouble, as Arthur Hutchins
of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Between
this, and the arrest of the man
suspected of murdering the real
Walter Collins, we have cleared up
two of the biggest mysteries in the
history of Los Angeles.
(beat)
I hope that you gentlemen of the
press will give as much space to
the good things we do as the mistakes
that are made on rare occasions.

Just then, he turns as a Matron comes off the train with JANET
HUTCHINS, middle thirties, the boy’s mother.

CHIEF DAVIS
Ladies and gentlemen, let me
introduce you to the boy’s real
mother, Mrs. Janet Hutchins.

She goes to him and hugs him. “Walter” looks like he wishes
he were somewhere on Mars. Davis moves closer to them to be
in frame while the FLASHBULBS pop. She’s in the same pose as
they got Christine to take when she “accepted” her lost son.

MOTHER
I hope he hasn’t been too much
trouble for you.

CHIEF DAVIS
Oh, no, not at all….

He towsels the boy’s head like he’d like to cut it off. Then
he nods to an aide, who approaches with a bundle of clothes.

WRIGHT
Mrs. Hutchins…Mrs. Collins, the
woman he was staying with, wanted
him to have these. They’re the
clothes she let him wear.

CHANGELING A True Story 116.


MOTHER
Well, thank you. Isn’t that nice,
Arthur? Tell the nice officer thank
you.

“WALTER”
I don’t want ‘em! Give ‘em to
somebody else!

DAVIS
Precocious little fellow, isn’t he?

“WALTER”
It’s not my fault! It was the
police! They said I was Walter
Collins, not me! It wasn’t my idea!

She yanks him away. Davis smiles gamely at the reporters.

CHIEF DAVIS
There…blame the police for your
own mistakes. We’ve seen a lot of
that lately, haven’t we?

DISSOLVE TO:

MONTAGE

Shot MOS, under MUSIC, somber and moving, INTERCUTTING between
the two trials.

Christine on the stand, speaking quietly.

Officer Ybarra on the stand.

Chief Davis on the stand.

The murder jury being shown photographs of the Northcott ranch.
Walter’s dentist showing a drawing of Walter’s teeth.

His teacher, Mrs. Fox, also testifying.

Bits of clothing entered into evidence.

Dr. Steele testifying.

Ending on Christine seated, reserved, holding it all in…
watching. We HOLD on her face to bring us into —

INT. WALTER’S BEDROOM – MORNING

Christine is sitting on Walter’s bed. She runs a hand along
the sheets, straightening and smoothing them out, her eyes
moist but not crying. We HEAR a knock on the front door
downstairs, and the door opening.

CHANGELING A True Story 117.


CHRISTINE
I’m up here, Reverend.

She continues as Briegleb comes up the stairs and enters the
room. Sees her. Takes off his hat. A show of sympathy.

CHRISTINE
When Walter was…when he was here,
I’d walk past his bedroom when he
was asleep, and even if I couldn’t
see him, or hear him, I could…feel
him in here.

REV. BRIEGLEB
Mothers and their children are
connected in amazing ways. My uncle
joined the army during the big war,
and the day he died, before we ever
heard a word about it, my grandmother
woke up in the middle of the night
and said, “Bobby’s gone.” She
just…knew.

Christine nods, taking it in, then:

CHRISTINE
That’s why I don’t think Walter is
dead. I can still feel him, in
this room.

REV. BRIEGLEB
Mrs. Collins —

CHRISTINE
I know what the police said. But
the remains…what they found on
that ranch is so…most of it can’t
even be properly identified. What
if that boy made a mistake when he
picked Walter’s picture?

REV. BRIEGLEB
I understand that you don’t want to
accept this. What mother does?
But you have to let go…and start
over. For yourself. He’d want you
to move on.

CHRISTINE
Maybe. And maybe he’d want me to
keep looking. Maybe he’s waiting
for me, somewhere.

REV. BRIEGLEB
He is, Christine.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 118.


REV. BRIEGLEB (Cont’d)
In that place where we will all be
reunited with our loved ones someday.
And on that day, he will know, front
to back, end to end, heart and
soul… that you did everything you
could, Christine. Everything.

She nods absently, finishes adjusting the sheets. He checks
his watch.

REV. BRIEGLEB
We should go.

She nods again, and stands. He heads out of the room, and
she lingers for a moment, taking one last look around before
turning off the night-light, and sees the drawing he made of
the two of them walking together beneath an orange sun. HOLD
on that image as we HEAR a gavel hammering and:

THORPE (V.O.)
This meeting will now come to order.

INT. CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS – DAY

PUSHING IN on Thorpe, at the center of the council’s long
table, addressing the crowd and Christine.

THORPE
This Committee has now heard all of
the testimony, and in light of the
facts presented, issues the following
statement.

INTERCUT WITH

INT. COURTROOM – DAY
Where Northcott stands before the judge, jury, and the grieving
family members.

JUDGE
Mr. Foreman, has the jury reached a
verdict?

FOREMAN
We have, your honor.

INT. CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS – CONTINUOUS

Still pushing in.

THORPE
While the City Council has no power
to directly remove commissioners or
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 119.


THORPE (Cont’d)
the employees who serve under them,
it nevertheless can perform the
function of making recommendations.
This committee therefore reports
and recommends:
(beat)
First, that the majority members of
the Police Commission deserve the
severest condemnation for their
decision to whitewash the Collins
case.

APPLAUSE erupts from the gallery at this.

INT. COURTROOM – CONTINUOUS

Quietly PUSHING IN on Northcott, the Judge, Jury, others.

JUDGE
Bailiff, will you bring me the
verdict of the jury?

The bailiff complies. The judge reads it, hands it back to
the Bailiff, who brings it back to the Foreman.

INT. CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS – CONTINUOUS

As before.

THORPE
Second, we recommend that the
suspension of Captain Jones be made
permanent.

Even louder applause, some cheering. The pattern continues
through the balance of the statement.
INT. COURTROOM – CONTINUOUS

Favoring Northcott.

JUDGE
Will the defendant please rise?

Northcott rises, still smiling, defiant.

INT. CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS – CONTINUOUS

As before.

THORPE
Third, that steps be taken to
investigate a change in the
prevailing laws and procedures by
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 120.


THORPE (Cont’d)
which a citizen of this city can be
subjected to incarceration in the
county’s mental facilities.
(beat)
Finally, restoration of public
confidence in the police department
can only be achieved by the removal
of its chief of police, and this
committee so recommends.
(beat)
This hearing is concluded.

The place explodes with cheers.

INT. COURTROOM – CONTINUOUS

As the foreman stands again.

JUDGE
You may read the verdict.

FOREMAN
We the jury find the defendant,
Gordon Stewart Northcott…guilty
on all counts of murder in the first
degree.

There are gasps and cries and tears…but Northcott is defiant.

JUDGE
Does the defendant wish to make a
statement before judgment is passed?

GORDON
Yeah, I want to make a statement.
I want to make it real clear that I
never once got a fair shake from
you, your “honor,” or this court.
The only one of you here worth a
goddamn is her —
(points to christine)
— ‘cause she’s the only one never
badmouthed me to the press. She
understands what it is when the
police frame you for something you
didn’t do and throw you in the hole.
Isn’t that right?

He looks to her. She doesn’t flinch.

GORDON
I want you to know, Mrs. Collins, I
never killed your boy. I —

CHANGELING A True Story 121.


JUDGE
That’s enough! Counsel, you will
get control of your client or I
will have him bound and gagged.

The defense attorney yanks Gordon around to face the judge.

JUDGE
Gordon Stewart Northcott, it is the
judgment of this court that you
will be conveyed to San Quentin
Prison, where you will be held in
solitary confinement for a period
of two years, until October 2nd,
1930. On that date, you are to be
hanged by the neck until dead. May
god have mercy on your soul.

And he brings down the gavel.

EXT. COUNTY COURTHOUSE – AFTERNOON

Christine is standing outside, putting the horrors of the day
out of her thoughts, as a door opens and Chief Davis comes
out, followed by several reporters.

CHIEF DAVIS
— no, as I said after the hearing,
I have every intention of finishing
my term as Chief of the Los Angeles
Police Department. I will not
resign. I will fight to the finish.
The Collins case was merely an excuse
for certain politicians who have
been trying to have me removed for
some time, and I —

He pauses as he sees Christine. Looks away and continues in
a lowered voice.

CHIEF DAVIS
— anyway, I remain confident that
the Mayor’s office will stand firmly
behind me. That’s all.

The press continue after him, not really noticing Christine,
who takes one last look around at it all…and walks slowly
away. Alone.

BLACK SCREEN

SUPERIMPOSE: TWO YEARS LATER. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 1930

CHANGELING A True Story 122.


INT. STREET CAR – MORNING

Christine, alone, rides the street car to work. The car stops
in front of a school. Walter’s school. She looks out the
window, to where children are playing. Then looks away again
as the street-car starts moving again.

INT. PACIFIC TELEPHONE COMPANY – SWITCHBOARD ROOM – DAY

Christine is back at work again, as she had been, though some
of the light has gone out of her eyes. She moves from station
to station, nodding her approval or checking off forms. She
glances to the clock, it’s a little after two, then goes to
Mr. Harris, who has just come out onto the floor.

CHRISTINE
Ten minute break?

MR. HARRIS
Of course.

She starts away, turning at:

MR. HARRIS
You know…one of these days you
might consider actually taking one
of these ten minute breaks. Might
be good for you.

CHRISTINE
We’ll see. Thanks, Ben.

She heads off toward a back room. He watches her go with a
combination of awe, respect and deep sadness.

INT. PHONE COMPANY – BACK OFFICE – MOMENTS LATER

Christine is on the telephone, crossing off contact numbers
on a pad of paper.

CHRISTINE
Yes, hello, this is Christine
Collins, we spoke yesterday about
my son…fine, thank you. I was
wondering if you’d had a chance to
go through the file on runaways in
your area in case anyone resembling
Walter had —
(beat)
I see. No, thank you, I appreciate
the information. Would it be all
right if I called you again, in a
month or so? Thank you. Goodbye.

She checks his number off her list as Hahn appears in the
partially open door behind her.

CHANGELING A True Story 123.


He’s heard part of the conversation, and there’s a sadness in
his eyes.

She starts to dial again when he knocks on the door. She
turns to see him, mid-dial.

HAHN
Mrs. Collins.

CHRISTINE
Oh, hello, I was just —

HAHN
I know. That’s…why I wanted to
see you.

His tone is grave, and she knows that something’s happened.
She hangs up the phone, missing the cradle the first time.

HAHN
It’s about Walter. We had…well,
we received a very strange telegram.

CHRISTINE
From who?

HAHN
Gordon Northcott. He’s…he’s asked
to see you.

CHRISTINE
Why?

HAHN
He said he knows you’re still looking
for your son, and before he dies —
(beat)
He says that he lied when he
testified that he didn’t kill Walter.
He’s willing to finally admit that
he did it. He says that if you
come up to see him, in person…he’ll
tell you the truth, to your face…so
that you can get on with your life
and have some peace.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. TRAIN – DAY

Christine is on the train headed north. The telegram is in
her hand.

CHANGELING A True Story 124.


HAHN (V.O.)
As you know, he’s set to be executed
the day after tomorrow at San
Quentin, so….
(beat)
You don’t have a lot of time.

EXT. SAN FRANCISCO – SAN QUENTIN PRISON – AFTERNOON

She gets out of a taxi in front of the prison. It’s a gray,
grim sight, and moves toward it.

HAHN (V.O.)
Took me most of the morning to make
all the arrangements. Turns out
you’re the first woman in thirty
years the state has allowed to visit
a serial killer on the night of his
execution.

INT. SAN QUENTIN – INTERVIEW ROOM – AFTERNOON

Four bare walls and a long table. Two chairs. One window,
behind bars and chicken wire. Christine waits, alone. Then:
we HEAR footsteps approaching down the hall. A moment later,
a PRISON GUARD escorts Northcott into the room. Northcott
nods to Christine, then glances to the guard, who looks to
Christine.

PRISON GUARD
I can stay in the room if you want,
ma’am.

CHRISTINE
No, I’m…sure I’ll be fine.

PRISON GUARD
All right…I’ll be right outside
the door if you need anything.
(to northcott)
Twenty minutes.

The guard exits, leaving the two alone.

GORDON
Don’t suppose you’ve got a cigarette?

CHRISTINE
No, I don’t smoke.

He nods, walks to the window to a nearby structure.

GORDON
That’s where they do it, you know.
That building right over there.

CHANGELING A True Story 125.


CHRISTINE
That’s where they do what?

GORDON
The hangings. Ten o’clock tonight,
I get to see what’s inside. I hear
there’s thirteen steps going up to
the gallows…’cause thirteen is
unlucky. Helps make sure you’re
gonna go to hell when you die. But
I got ‘em beat. I outsmarted ‘em.

He looks to Christine, smiles nervously, glances back out the
window.

GORDON
They’re gonna let me have whatever
I want for dinner. Got a steak
coming, with spinach, mashed potatoes
and green beans. I always wondered
why they did that whole last meal
thing. One of the other guys on
Death Row said when you take the
drop, you foul yourself, and
everything you ate…comes out the
other end. So maybe that’s why
they make sure you got something in
you when it happens. They like
knowing you fouled yourself on the
way to —

He stops himself. Turns from the window.

GORDON
Sure you don’t got a cigarette?

She shakes her head. He nods absently for a moment.
GORDON
The warden, Clinton Duffy, he’s a
good guy. He’s writing a book about
all the death sentences he’s carried
out in this place. Says it’s called
“Eighty-Eight Men and Two Women.”
Beats my record all to hell.

CHRISTINE
Mr. Northcott…you asked me to
come to see you. You said if I
did, you would tell me the truth
about my son. Well, I’m here.

GORDON
Yeah…yeah, you are. But see, the
thing is, I didn’t think you’d really
come, and now —

CHANGELING A True Story 126.


He’s pacing, growing more agitated and scared.

CHRISTINE
Now what?

GORDON
I didn’t expect….
(beat)
I don’t want to see you.

CHRISTINE
What?

GORDON
I can’t do this…I can’t talk to
you…not today, not tonight, not
with what they’re going to do to
me. It’s one thing to send a
telegram, that’s easy, but right
now, right here, in person, I —
(beat)
I can’t tell you what you want to
hear, Mrs. Collins. I can’t, I
can’t —

CHRISTINE
Why not?

GORDON
Because I don’t want to die with a
lie on my lips!

He turns from her, in anguish…but is he just playing her?


GORDON
I did my penance, I asked God to
forgive me for my sins…and I’ve
been good, ever since…if I commit
a sin now, if I lie now…I’m out
of time, I can’t be forgiven again…
I don’t want to go to hell —

She goes around to him, faces him.

CHRISTINE
Mr. Northcott…look at me.
(beat)
Look at me.

He turns almost against his will…meets her eyes.

CHRISTINE
Did you…kill…my son?

His eyes go wide and he CRIES OUT, stumbling back and away
from her.

CHANGELING A True Story 127.


GORDON
Get away from me…I don’t know
anything about it!

CHRISTINE
Mr. Northcott —

GORDON
I’m innocent!
(pounds door)
Guard! Guard!

The guard enters, going to Northcott.

CHRISTINE
No, wait, please —

PRISON GUARD
It’s okay, ma’am, they always get a
little nuts the day of.

She pushes past him to Northcott, grabs the front of his shirt.

CHRISTINE
Did you kill him? Did you kill my
son?

He screams in anguish, and the guard hauls him out, closing
the door after him. Christine tries to open the door, but it
won’t open.

CHRISTINE
Mr. Northcott…Mr. Northcott!

She slowly slides to the floor, crying as we HEAR the SOUND
of CHAINS clanking, and we….

DISSOLVE TO:
INT. EXECUTION AREA – NIGHT

The door to the prison yard opens and closes as Northcott is
led into the area with the scaffolding. The Warden is there,
waiting at the foot of the gallows, along with a chaplain.

Several other parents, including Mr. and Mrs. Clay, are in
the witness gallery at the back, separated from the gallows
area by a large plate glass window. Christine is among the
parents. The Clays see her, and put a hand on her arm for
strength. Christine nods, accepting it, and moves to one
side.

Northcott, legs and arms bound in chains, makes his way to
the warden at the base of the gallows. A clock reads 9:50.

CHANGELING A True Story 128.


WARDEN
Gordon Stewart Northcott, you have
been found guilty of murder, the
penalty for which is death by
hanging. There have been no stays
or reprieves, therefore the execution
will go forward as stipulated under
the laws of the State of California.
Do you have any last words?

GORDON
No…nothing.
(to chaplain)
I kept clean after I confessed,
reverend…just like I said I would.

The chaplain nods silently as the warden looks to the guards,
who begin to escort Northcott up the steps to the gallows.

GORDON
Will it…will it hurt?
(no reply)
Please…not so fast…don’t make
me walk so fast!

They struggle with him now, pushing and carrying him up the
last of the thirteen steps to the top. They tie his legs
together, and cinch his arms tightly in place.

GORDON
Thirteen steps…thirteen steps…
but I didn’t touch all of ‘em, you
bastards…I didn’t touch all of
‘em!

They start to slip a black felt mask over his head and secure
the rope. He looks desperately to the witnesses.
GORDON
A prayer! Please, somebody, say a
prayer for me!

The mask goes on and is tightened into place. The executioner
approaches the handle that will open the trap door. The warden
looks to the clock…9:59. From beneath the hood we HEAR, in
a terrified, shaking voice:

GORDON
Silent night…holy night…all is
calm…all is bright…round yon
virgin mother and child…holy infant
so tender and mild —

Just then the warden nods to the executioner who pulls the
lever and the trap door JERKS OPEN.

CHANGELING A True Story 129.


Northcott FALLS through the door six feet then there’s a
SNAP…and the body bounces in SLOW MOTION at the end of the
rope…as we HEAR the sound of his heart
slowing…slowing…until it finally stops.

Christine covers her eyes. There is no cheering in the witness
room. Only the sound of weeping.

EXT. SAN QUENTIN – NIGHT

Slowly, the witnesses exit the prison. We find Christine
among them. She nods good-night to some of them, including
the Clays, then starts off on her own, heading into the night.

DISSOLVE TO:

BLACK SCREEN

SUPERIMPOSE: FIVE YEARS LATER. FEBRUARY 27, 1935

And: SEVEN YEARS AFTER THE DISAPPEARANCE OF WALTER COLLINS

EXT. PACIFIC TELEPHONE COMPANY – AFTERNOON

Just to ESTABLISH, then:

INT. TELEPHONE COMPANY – CHRISTINE’S OFFICE – AFTERNOON

The brass plate on the partially open door announces C.
COLLINS, ASSISTANT MANAGER. She’s filling out paperwork as
there’s a KNOCK and a group of other employees and operators
appears in the doorway.

OPERATOR
Hey, Chris…we’re having an Oscar
party tonight at my apartment, you
want to come?
CHRISTINE
I can’t…I’ve got a million forms
to fill out —

OPERATOR
C’mon, please, they can wait —

CHRISTINE
Sandy, you guys blew out the phone
lines between here and Baltimore,
someone has to clean up the mess,
and that’s me. Besides, I’ve got a
radio right here, I can follow the
whole thing.

OPERATOR
You’re sure?

CHANGELING A True Story 130.


CHRISTINE
Positive. Go on, have fun.

They head off. Christine focuses on her work. There’s another
knock on the door.

CHRISTINE
I said I can’t go —

MR. HARRIS
Are you sure?

She looks up to see Ben Harris in the doorway. He smiles.

MR. HARRIS
I’m meeting some friends for dinner
at Musso and Frank’s on Hollywood.
They’re going to pipe the Oscar
ceremony through to the restaurant.
Should be quite a night. I’d love
it if you’d come.

CHRISTINE
Ben, that’s very sweet, and I wish
I could…but I really need to stay
and finish this.

He nods, taking the rejection well. Starts off when:

CHRISTINE
Ben…? I put down two dollars on
“It Happened One Night” for best
picture. Seems I’m the only one
here who thinks it has a chance
against “Cleopatra.” If I win, how
about we have dinner tomorrow night
to celebrate?
MR. HARRIS
You’ve got a deal, Christine. Good
night.

CHRISTINE
‘Night.

MR. HARRIS
How about I call you if you win?

CHRISTINE
I’ll be here.

And with a smile, he’s gone.

CHANGELING A True Story 131.


INT. TELEPHONE COMPANY – SWITCHBOARD ROOM – NIGHT

The night shift operators are working, a smaller group but
still busy. We PAN through them until we start to HEAR the
sound of radio-miked applause, then:

IRWIN S. COBB
(on radio)
Thank you. And now, it gives me
distinct honor to present the
category of Best Picture for 1934.

INT. CHRISTINE’S OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Where Christine is still working as the Academy Awards of
1935 play themselves out on the radio.

IRWIN S. COBB
(on radio)
The nominees are “The Gay Divorcee,”
“Here Comes the Navy,” “The Barrets
of Wimpole Street,” “One Night of
Love,” “The Thin Man,” “Cleopatra” —

CHRISTINE
Over-rated….

IRWIN S. COBB
(on radio)
“Viva Villa,” “The White Parade,”
and “It Happened One Night.”

CHRISTINE
Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert. I
rest my case.

IRWIN S. COBB
(on radio)
And the Oscar for Best Picture goes
to….
(beat)
“It Happened One Night.”

APPLAUSE comes through the radio…and Christine is as pleased
as if she’d just won herself.

CHRISTINE
(calling out door)
I knew it…I knew it! I told you
so!

She’s just about to go back to her work when the phone rings.
She picks it up, smiling.

CHANGELING A True Story 132.


CHRISTINE
Ben, it looks like dinner is on me,
I —

She stops. It’s not Ben on the phone.

CHRISTINE
Yes, this is she. Mrs. Clay? No,
of course I remember you, how are
you? Is everything —

She freezes at something she hears.

CHRISTINE
When? Where did they —
(beat)
No, of course…I’ll be right there.

She hangs up, grabs her coat, and races out the door.

EXT. POLICE STATION – NIGHT

Christine climbs out of a taxi and rushes into the station.

INT. INTERVIEW ROOM – VIEWING ROOM – MOMENTS LATER

Christine is ushered into a room with a long two-way mirror
that looks out into an interview room. Mr. and Mrs. Clay are
already there. In the other room is Detective Ybarra, and a
young boy, DAVID, age 13. Mrs. Clay sees her, and they
embrace.

MRS. CLAY
I wanted to go to him right off,
but they said it was important to
talk to him alone first.

CHRISTINE
Are they sure it’s —

MRS. CLAY
They’re sure, but more important,
I’m sure.
(beat)
It’s my boy, all right…it’s David.
He’s alive, Christine. They found
him up in Hysperia.

CHRISTINE
But how —

Mr. Clay motions for them to shush. They turn their attention
to the other room, where Ybarra looks up from making notes.

CHANGELING A True Story 133.


YBARRA
All right, so after you got into
the car, what happened next?

DAVID
They drove me around for a long
time, then we ended up at this ranch —

EXT. NORTHCOTT RANCH – FLASHBACK – NIGHT

David is shoved into the chicken coop. Several other BOYS
are already there, scared, crying. They lunge at the door,
trying to get out, but it slams shut in their faces.

They scream, trying to get out. Gordon SLAMS an arm against
the door, scaring them.

GORDON
SHUT UP!
(grinning)
I’ll see you boys later….

He laughs and moves off, Sanford accompanying him, looking
very guilty.

YBARRA (V.O.)
Were there other boys present?

DAVID (V.O.)
Yeah…six, I think. It was a long
time ago.

YBARRA (V.O.)
Did you speak to them? Do you
remember any of their names?

INT. CHICKEN COOP – LATER
PANNING the boys huddled against one wall, scared.

DAVID (V.O.)
Yeah…two of them were brothers, I
think their last name was Winslow,
something like that. The oldest
was Jeffrey, I think he was around
eleven….
(beat)
…and Walter.

We STOP PAN on the last kid…on Walter Collins, at last.

INT. INTERVIEW ROOM – VIEWING ROOM

As Christine REACTS to this, her hand flying to her mouth.
Not daring to breathe.

CHANGELING A True Story 134.


YBARRA
Walter.

DAVID
Yeah.

YBARRA
Do you remember his last name?

DAVID
Collins.

Christine covers her face. Can barely stand up.

YBARRA
So if you only remember some of the
names of the rest, how come you
remember his full name?

DAVID
Because of what happened.

INT. CHICKEN COOP – NIGHT

Two of the kids, Walter and Jeffrey, are sitting in a corner,
talking quietly, urgently.

DAVID (V.O.)
Walter and Jeffrey were talking
when everybody else was screaming.
They were scared, same as the rest
of us, but they weren’t scared
stupid. They kept checking around
until they found a part of the coop
where the chicken wire was all messed
up.

They pull at the wiring. Part of the roof weakens and dust
sifts down.

DAVID (V.O.)
They figured we might be able to
yank the chicken wire and bring
down the corner, maybe make enough
room to get out of there and run…
but it would make an awful lot of
noise and if it wasn’t wide enough,
we’d be stuck. It might even bring
the whole place down.

WALTER
We gotta try it!

FIRST WINSLOW BOY
No! What he hears —

CHANGELING A True Story 135.


JEFFREY
We have to get out of here!

FIRST WINSLOW BOY
I’m afraid!

And in an echo of what he told his mother the last time he
saw her:

WALTER
I’m not. I’m not afraid of
anything.
(beat)
Don’t you want to go home? Don’t
you want to see your mom again?

The Winslow kids nod, and start crying. Jeffrey and Walter
look to the rest.

JEFFREY
Anybody else?

David holds up his hand.

JEFFREY
Okay. Anybody who doesn’t want to
come, get over at that end in case
this comes down.

The Winslow boys and two others scramble to the other end,
too terrified to try and escape. Jeffrey, David and Walter
go to the weakened corner of the coop.

JEFFREY
When we get out, we split up, go in
different directions, they can’t
catch all of us. Ready?
They nod, and get into position, each taking a part of the
wire framework.

JEFFREY
Pull!

They do so, pulling for all they’re worth…struggling…the
ceiling SHIFTS above them, dirt falling all over the place…
they pull harder, the wire cutting into fingers, but still
pulling…then suddenly —

— the corner FALLS AWAY, part of the roof starting to come
down with it. The NOISE is substantial.

JEFFREY
Go!

CHANGELING A True Story 136.


They race out the opening, Jeffrey first, then Walter, then
David…but just as the first two get clear —

DAVID
Help!

Walter turns to see David stuck in the wiring. LIGHTS go on
around the ranch. He hesitates…then RUNS back to David,
helps to untangle him. They HEAR a SHOTGUN blast, and FEET
running their way.

DAVID
Hurry!

Walter gets him untangled, and the two RACE away from the
coop, running for all they’re worth as a FLASHLIGHT hits first
one, then the other. They RUN —

— and David catches one last glimpse of Walter running,
heading for the line of trees….

YBARRA (V.O.)
And that’s the last you saw of him?

INT. INTERVIEW ROOM – VIEWING ROOM – NIGHT

As the interview continues. David nods.

DAVID
That’s the last I saw of any of
‘em.

YBARRA
So you don’t know if either of the
other two were captured?

DAVID
No. All I know is, if he hadn’t
come back for me…I don’t think I
ever would’ve gotten out of there.

YBARRA
What happened after that?

DAVID
I hid in the woods for two days,
too scared to move, because I was
sure they’d find me. I finally
started walking, but every time a
car came up I was afraid it was
them. So I kept off the main roads
until I saw a train stopped at a
crossing, and I jumped in.

CHANGELING A True Story 137.


YBARRA
Why didn’t you tell anyone what had
happened?

DAVID
I was afraid! I thought they’d
come after me, or my folks…so I
didn’t tell anybody. I was on my
own until I got a free meal from
this lady, Mrs. Lansing. I told
her I was an orphan, on my own.
She said I could stay on, and…I
did.
(beat)
Every night, I’d wake up, thinking
they were right outside my window.
Then I heard the police talking on
the radio about what happened at
the ranch, and I thought, for sure
I can’t go back now.

YBARRA
Why not?

DAVID
Since I didn’t tell anybody what
happened, I was afraid they’d blame
me for those kids being dead. So I
just…stayed away.

YBARRA
So what made you come forward now,
after all this time?

David looks away, his eyes tearing up. Finally:

DAVID
I miss my mom…I miss my dad…I
just…I just want to go home.

And it’s all Mrs. Clay can take. Sobbing, she runs out of
the viewing room and into the interview room, where she goes
to her son and embraces him, holds him, the two crying into
one another’s arms.

EXT. POLICE STATION – NIGHT

Christine and Ybarra watch as Mr. and Mrs. Clay lead their
son into their car. As they drive off, Christine finally
breaks the silence.

YBARRA
Still can’t believe it. Five years,
case closed, everyone thinks he’s
dead…and there he is.
(more)

CHANGELING A True Story 138.


YBARRA (Cont’d)
And he wouldn’t be, if it wasn’t
for Walter.
(beat)
Your son did a brave thing, Mrs.
Collins. You should be very proud
of him.

CHRISTINE
I am.

YBARRA
You don’t think he’s still out there,
do you?

CHRISTINE
Why not? Three boys made a run for
it that night, Detective. If one
got out, maybe either or both of
the others did too. Maybe Walter
went through the same fears he did.
Afraid to come home or identify
himself, afraid he’d get into
trouble, that people might think it
was his fault. Either way, it gives
me something I didn’t have before
tonight.

YBARRA
What’s that?

She looks at him…and smiles.

CHRISTINE
Hope.

She turns and walks off into the night, as we SUPERIMPOSE:


Gordon Stewart Northcott was hanged on October 2, 1935

In exchange for his cooperation and a guilty plea, Sanford
Wesley Clark was sentenced to the Whittier State School for
Boys for five years. Upon being released in 1934, he returned
home to Canada, and was never heard from again.

Upon returning to duty after his suspension, Captain J. J.
Jones was demoted to Lieutenant and subsequently sued by
Christine Collins in civil court. He was found guilty and
fined $10,800 (equal to $125,000 in 2006 dollars). He never
paid.

One year after the City Council recommended the removal of
the Los Angeles Chief of Police, James E Davis resigned from
office and was replaced by Roy E. Steckel.

CHANGELING A True Story 139.


Davis reclaimed that office in 1933, where he created the Red
Squad, notorious for attacking Communists and their offices,
but was forced to resign a second time under a cloud of police
corruption.


In the aftermath of the City Council hearings, the criminal
justice system in California was revised to prevent women
from being incarcerated or institutionalized for the crime of
disagreeing with a male police officer. Strict medical
procedures were set in place to prevent future abuse.

In November 1929, Los Angeles Mayor George E. Cryer was voted
out of office after three terms. He was later found to have
been the front man for the Crawford Organized Crime Syndicate,
which ran prostitution and gambling rackets throughout Southern
California.

For the rest of his life, Reverend Gustav A. Briegleb used
his radio show to expose police misconduct and political
corruption. He also published “The Layman’s Handbook of
Daniel.”

The California community of Wineville, near Riverside, became
synonymous with the infamous Northcott Murder Ranch. In order
to shake free of the scandal, the residents changed its name
to Mira Loma.



Christine Collins never stopped searching for her son.



The fate of Walter Collins remains a mystery. If he was able
to escape the Northcott Ranch, he would be 86 years old today.

FADE OUT:
THE END [amazonjs asin=”B002AD9ENE” locale=”JP” title=”チェンジリング DVD”]




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