South by North Thriller Screenplay
SOUTH BY NORTH by Robert T. Roe 503-998-2479
LOGLINE: “A heavily drugged US Marshall on the run for his life gets picked up by a lost paranoid and the two of them must battle the bad guys on a high speed chase through the desert.”
US Marshal ERIC BUCKMAN found his man, CARLOS SANCHEZ, in the sights of his binoculars. Yet before he could call it in two of Carlos’s men, NORMAN AND ALFREDO, sneak up and knock Eric out. They haul Eric out to a lonely spot in the desert on Nevada Highway 95 and inject him with a substance designed to destroy memory. After pouring a fifth of alcohol over Eric to make it look as though he had abused himself, they drive away fairly confident that Eric would never bother Carlos again. But there was this one little problem. Norman wasn’t able to give Eric a full dose of the memory loss drug but felt it was adequate to do the job. Eric wakes the next morning in pain, confused, and very much alone in the middle of nowhere. It appears that Norman and Alfredo had done their job well.
Doctor TJ ACHERMAN was headed north on Highway 95 when he saw Eric standing by the road and immediately saw in this an opportunity for himself. He would pick this hitchhiker up and elicit his help to make it all the way to Canada without stopping. TJ had left for Canada three days earlier but kept waking hundreds of miles south from where he stopped to sleep each night. He could only see two reasons for this- he was either having delusions or he was into some kind of conspiracy. He saw in this hitchhiker a solution for his own problem and gave him a ride.
It didn’t take long for the two of them to discover the other one’s traumatic problem. TJ exclaims, “Great, I’m crazy and you have amnesia!” That’s right. Eric was at a complete loss as to who or what he was. He was only able to utter the name “Eric” but was still not sure that name applied to him. Once TJ understood the reality of Eric’s problem he suggested he go with him to Canada to see a “shrink” named JONATHAN. To Eric, who welcomed any solution, this seemed like a good idea and so joins TJ on his journey to Canada.
Meanwhile, Norman and Alfredo are thinking about that short dose of the memory loss drug and approach Carlos. Carlos is taking comedy lessons and makes a joke about it, but sends them out with new orders to just finish Eric off. Forty miles south Eric’s boss, GANNON, shows up at a small airport where Eric’s girlfriend, BOBBIE JOHNSON, works as a small aircraft mechanic. Gannon is worried that Eric has turned up missing and so Bobbie agrees to join in the search for Eric along with his jeep that he took out into the desert. Joining the search is Norman and Alfredo but with murder on their minds.
TJ and Eric burn rubber north on 95 and so finally get stopped for speeding by DEPUTY FRY. Only he looses control of his car and flies out into the desert where he knocks himself out- his car catching fire. Eric jumps into action while TJ wonders if the whole thing is even real. Eric saves Fry’s life though after he wakes he doesn’t believe it. He accuses the two of being weirdoes who torched his car even though they are rushing to the nearest hospital a hundred miles away. Eric has a gun- one stuffed in his belt under the back of his jacket that Norman and Alfredo never searched for. TJ grabs the gun and demands that Eric and Fry leave his car as he is refusing to alter his plan from going directly to Canada. Fry pulls his service weapon and opens fire but misses. Eric take’s Fry’s gun making Fry sort of a prisoner. Things go further out of control when Fry goes for his gun again and it gets tossed out the window. It goes off when it hits the road and blows out a tractor tire belonging to an OLD FARMER who is flipped from the tractor out in the desert. TJ and Eric find that he is unharmed but persuade Fry that his gun killed the farmer. Fry agrees to drop any charges against them and so things look good again for TJ and Eric. Then it turns bad when some of Carlos’s men show up in a helicopter and open fire- killing Deputy Fry. Eric skillfully maneuvers the car as they are being chased and the helicopter hits a giant cactus and crashes.
Mad now at Norman and Alfredo for messing up, Carlos comes in his airplane with more men to finish the job. He flies over – shooting and drops grenades from the airplane down on TJ and Eric as they speed along in the Mercedes. Then Bobbie shows up and figures out the Eric is in that Mercedes. In an attempt to help her boyfriend she flies down at Carlos’s plane. It surprises them and they catch their wheels on a sand dune and crash. Still ahead of the Mercedes, Carlos runs from his downed plane to the highway and waits for the Mercedes with a rocket launcher. Yet what looks like an easy win for Carlos turns in Eric and TJ’s favor in a final battle where Carlos bites the asphalt.
Now, with the bad guys off their backs, TJ and Eric finish their trip to Canada. TJ is happy now that he has made it to Jonathan, the one doctor that he feels can help him. Within minutes of their arrival things change for Eric when his memory comes back to him and Bobby shows up. It is then that Eric realizes that he got to kill his old enemy, Carlos, in a gunfight without rules because he had no memory of being a cop.