The Cannes Story

October 1999

INTERIOR DAY An Air France jet somewhere over the Atlantic. A Midwestern couple is seated in business class eating dinner. JOHN is a faded middle-aged high school athlete desperately trying to keep a second chin at bay. He is seated next to his wife, the beautiful and charming DIANE.

DIANE: Boy, can you believe it? You and Mary Sweeney write a screenplay called The Straight Story and now we are going to the Cannes Film Festival.

Amazing! I sure hope my gown fits.

JOHN (mouth full): Gee, this French cheese is really good.


INT. DAY Cannes, France. Hotel room. The Savoy on the Riviera.\

DIANE: I hardly have much jet lag at all! Let’s go to the museum. Let’s get a meal. Let’s see if they have an art gallery.

JOHN (with binoculars): Sure. Or we could stroll the beach.

DIANE (snoring): Gzzmfft.


INT. EVENING Cannes, France. A cocktail party at a private club. In attendance are the key cast members including director DAVID LYNCH, producer/writer/editor MARY SWEENEY, actors RICHARD FARNSWORTH, SISSY SPACEK and HARRY DEAN STANTON, as well as supporting actors and Madisonians JOHN and KEVIN FARLEY, their recently widowed mother MARY ANN and Mary Sweeney’s charming sister PAT.

KEVIN FARLEY: Geez, Johnny can you believe we are here in France?

JOHNNY FARLEY: This is tres cool. Is there something on my shirt?

MARY ANN FARLEY: I just met Sissy Spacek. She is darling. And just beautfirul. I invited her to play bridge with my club if she ever came to Madison.

PAT SWEENEY: I invited her to the Farmers’ Market. (In a whisper) I’ve heard she likes fresh produce.


EXT. EVENING Cannes, France. The red-carpeted stairs leading up to the Palais du Festival, the theater in which The Straight Story will be debuted.

DIANE: My God, look at all those photographers! I have to stay calm or I am going to perspire. Look at all those stairs. Is my gown wrinkled in back?

This is just wild. Where do we walk? Where do we look?

JOHN: Just follow David and Mary and smile. (Pauses.) I wish the kids were here.


INT. THEATER The film is showing. The camera moves down the aisle revealing the faces lit by the light of the film. We see the FARLEYS, PAT SWEENEY, and finally JOHN and DIANE. JOHN has a pleasantly stunned look on his face.

DIANE is dabbing her eyes with a tissue. The camera moves to the floor to reveal a pile of tissues at her feet.


EXT. NIGHT The stairs leading down from the theater. The music from the soundtrach plays out into the warm Riviera evening as a crowd stands below.

MARY ANN FARLEY comes up to JOHN, MARY SWEENEY, KEVIN and JOHNNY FARLEY and embraces each of them, a tear in her eye.

MARY ANN FARLEY: I am so proud of you kids. Richard Farnsworth was marvelous. David did such a wonderful job directing. The scenes of those country roads were beautiful. (She pauses, her eyes welling.) My Tom used to drive those roads. (Everyone reaches for a tissue.)


INT. EVENING Air France jet somewhere over the Atlantic. A tired JOHN and DIANE are settling down for the final hours of their return flight to the U.S. and home.

DIANE: This was all like a fairy tale. What an experience. We have so much to tell the kids. I can’t wait to get the pictures developed. David and Mary sure did a wonderful job. And so did you, dear.

JOHN (reclining his seat to sleep): Thank you, Di.

DIANE: And honey—remember when we get home—it’s trash day.

JOHN (eyes closed): Right.


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