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The Great Silence (1968) Poster

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Ending title card: The massacres of 1898, year of the Great Blizzard, finally brought forth fierce public condemnation of the bounty killers, who, under the guise of false legality, made violent murder a profitable way of life. For many years there was a clapboard sign at Snow Hill which carried this legend: MEN'S BOOTS CAN KICK UP THE DUST OF THIS PLACE FOR A THOUSAND YEARS, BUT NOTHING MAN CAN EVER DO WILL WIPE OUT THE BLOOD STAINS OF THE POOR FOLK WHO FELL HERE.

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Pauline: Once, my husband told me of this man. He avenges our wrongs. And the bounty killers sure do tremble when he appears. They call him "Silence." Because wherever he goes, the silence of death follows.

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Governor: This manhunt is inhuman. An amnesty will end it, if that's what the voters should decide on. The old West is finished. We must learn to live with people of all races and persuasions, and unite to make a new West.

[to his advisers]

Governor: Yes, use that in my next speech.

Sheriff Burnett: [jokingly] Yeah, a politician would promise amnesty to the murderer of his own father to win an election!

Governor: [annoyed] Do you infer that I do, sheriff? What do you mean, sir?

Sheriff Burnett: [sheepishly] N-Nothin'. Excuse me, governor. I was just thinking out loud.

Governor: Thinking is not your business.

Sheriff Burnett: Yes, governor, you're absolutely right, sir.

Governor: Now, get out there, and do your job.

Sheriff Burnett: Yessir, yessir!

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Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: [after shooting Pauline's husband] Now, say "goodbye" to your husband - always respect the dead!

[he mounts his horse while she runs to the body]

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: Now, pack your husband in the snow. That'll keep him fresh 'till I collect his bounty. So don't you bury him, you hear? Well, Petes. What times we live in... when a black's worth as much as a white man!

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Sheriff Burnett: What do you want?

Walter, Leader of the Outlaws: We just want that horse of yours.

Sheriff Burnett: You want my horse, there's an awful lot of ya. What are you gonna do with just one horse, anyhow?

Walter, Leader of the Outlaws: Eat it. We're gonna feed off that beast for at least a week.

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Sheriff Burnett: Hey, you. That's no way to transport the dead. Against regulations. I'm Gideon Burnett, the new sheriff of Snow Hill.

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: I gathered, from your star. I thought you sold horse meat. But with that on, you look more like a sheriff who sells horse meat.

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Sheriff Burnett: Tell me something, old-timer. Are we within the jurisdiction of Snow Hill County?

Coachman: Yep. You can arrest or hang anyone you want.

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Sheriff Burnett: You ain't by some chance one of them no-good bounty hunters, are ya?

[Silence doesn't respond]

Sheriff Burnett: I asked you a question, so answer. I'm a sheriff. Well? Where you come from? How long you intend to stay?

[annoyed]

Sheriff Burnett: If you think you're bein' smart, just watch yourself. Now then, stranger, let's have it...

[grabs him by the arm]

Pauline: He can't answer, sheriff. He's a mute.

Sheriff Burnett: [turns to Silence, embarrased] Well... I'll be. At least you coulda told me. I mean... you coulda let me know, ya know what I mean?

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Regina: A hard-working man like you should be served by a lady like me.

Sheriff Burnett: Yeah, I guess.

[drinks]

Sheriff Burnett: Pretty good coffee... but it'd taste a lot nicer if you'd come on over, and pour it for me... regularly.

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: That's a big request, sheriff. She waits on the whole west territory of the U.S. and Mexico.

[giggles as Regina leaves in anger]

Sheriff Burnett: I'll teach you to talk to a lady like that!

[punches the bars of Loco's cell, hurting his hand]

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: Oh, I'm sorry. I hope you didn't hurt yourself.

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Sheriff Burnett: Set a wagon outside of town and put as much food on it as you can spare. If they eat, they'll behave. And you women, all of you, stay inside. Understand? Now let's get moving. C'mon.

Pollicut: Fill a wagon. So now, these bandits gotta be fought with bread and butter. When are we gonna see some law and common sense in this town?

Regina: When somebody hangs you.

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Sheriff Burnett: Listen to me, friends. Be patient. There'll be an amnesty soon, and you can all go home, so best leave Loco to the law. I guarantee ya', there's food for all of ya' at Snow Hill so go there, and feed yourselves. But take my advice: In the future, go easy on the horse meat; it's not all as tender as mine.

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Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: Can't a man provide for his old age?

Sheriff Burnett: I don't think you're gonna make it.

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[last lines]

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: [after his men murder all the outlaws in the saloon] There's a bounty on each one. We'll come back and collect 'em later... all according to the law.

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[Silence remembers his first encounter with Pollicut... a candle in the present match-cuts to a candle burning several years earlier, as Pollicut and two bounty killers ride towards Gordon's house, who is loading a rifle]

Silence's Mother: No, dear. You can't... you'd better surrender!

[Pollicut and the two killers walk up to the house]

Fake Sheriff: Gordon, I've got a warrant for your arrest. There's no sense for resistin'. Better let a lawyer prove you're innocent! I'll answer for your safety before you come to trial. Now act sensible. Safer for you if you're put in prison! But if you're not... some bounty hunter'll kill you for the reward!

Gordon Sr.: Okay, sheriff. I'm surrenderin'.

[Pollicut gestures to the two bounty killers to kill Gordon and his wife, and they do so by shooting them]

Silence as a Boy: Ah! Dad, dad! Mama! Mama! Mama!

[as Gordon's son cries over the body of his mother, the bounty killer disguised as a sheriff enters, and throws away his star]

Fake Sheriff: Well, Pollicut? You got no call to worry about Gordon now.

Pollicut: Maybe not. But the kid...

Fake Sheriff: Nah...

[the fake sheriff pulls out a bowie knife]

Fake Sheriff: He'll never talk again.

[Match cut from candle in flashback to candle in the present: Gordon's son is Silence himself]

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[Burnett, Loco and Silence are riding the stagecoach to Snow Hill]

Sheriff Burnett: [referring to Loco's wanted posters and the corpses on top of the stage] Hey, which are they? According to these posters, there ought to be four. Who are the two on top?

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: The second and the third... there's another one, waiting to be buried, soon as I've been paid.

Sheriff Burnett: You know what it says here? "Dead or Alive"... I'll lay a bet you never take 'em alive.

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: Those are dangerous men, Sheriff. They're enemies of God and Man. The things they preach... what if one had his say in court and got acquitted? They'd be all be using the courts to spread, whatchamacallit. Nah, it's our patriotic duty to exterminate 'em.

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Walter, Leader of the Outlaws: [after Miguel has shot an bounty killer] C'mon. It's safe now.

[the outlaws come out of hiding]

Walter, Leader of the Outlaws: You're all afraid of these confounded bounty killers, even if they're dead?

[to Silence, who he hands some money to]

Walter, Leader of the Outlaws: Silence, you bagged them polecats just in time. Take this, you earned it. Y'know, we're obliged to come down for food, and they're always laying for us in the valley. They know we can't hold out for long in this weather without supplies. Still, if we fought for our rights, they'd raise the price on our heads, and we'd be massacred.

Miguel: You could at least thank me for my trouble. Didn't you see he was about to fire?

[Silence rides off]

Walter, Leader of the Outlaws: All you did was waste a good shot, I'd say. Why, that fella there had both his thumbs shot off; he never would have fired another pistol as long as he lived. That's why Silence didn't wanna shoot him. Because when he shoots anyone, it's always in self-defense - that's right. And them bounty killers are afraid of him. He's faster on the draw!

Miguel: But why do we pay a professional fighter? We all been in the army, so let's fight back, then! I say we should fight it out with those bounty killers - once and for all! I'll be damned if I'm freezing to death up here!

Outlaw: He's right!

[outlaws argue]

Walter, Leader of the Outlaws: Now listen here - I say we're all better off staying right where we are. The price on our heads, sooner or later, will be removed. They say the new Governor will declare an amnesty, and we'll be able to think as we want. Now, we don't want to spoil our chances.

Miguel: I can't take it no more... I'm going back. I'd rather be taken alive... so, turn myself in. It's better.

[hands his shotgun to Walter]

Miguel: Sorry, Walter.

[walks away from the group]

Outlaw: Hey, wait. I'm coming too.

[follows Miguel]

James Middleton: I wanna see my wife.

[follows]

Outlaw: [to Walter] I reckon they'll be in jail when the pardons come.

Walter, Leader of the Outlaws: Or the graveyard...

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[first lines]

Hunter: [after Silence has killed four other bounty killers] W-Wait! I-I surrender! Don't kill me! I-I won't do it again! I'm through with bounty hunting! Don't kill me, Silence!

[Silence shoots both of the man's thumbs off; the killer moans in pain]

Hunter: Damn you! You've... crippled my hands!

[tries to shoot Silence with his pistol, but is shot in the back by Miguel]

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[Loco has been dragging an outlaw through the snow to torture him]

Outlaw: Stop! Stop! I swear, Loco... I don't know nothin'!

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: [shows him a wanted poster] Tell me where he is, and I'll let you go.

Outlaw: I-I don't know...

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: Aw, no. You know alright - he was with you in the mountains.

Outlaw: I don't know where he went to - I swear I don't - let me go...

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: HIYA!

[continues dragging him through the snow on horseback]

Outlaw: Stop! I swear to God, Loco... I don't know nothin'! I don't know nothin'!

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: Why don't you tell me? Tell me now, or don't you wanna live?

Outlaw: [choking] I-In the mill... at, the edge of town... near - there's a wife's house... I think he's got a gun there...

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: Thank you.

[shoots him]

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Pollicut: [showing his mutilated hand to Silence while raping Pauline] You cripple just to spite the men you hate... so nobody'll be able to use a gun - against you. Maybe you ruined my hand, but still, what I come here to get, it won't matter much!

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Regina: [aims Pollicut's revolver at Loco] If you come here, Loco, you'll find out I can shoot a pistol too!

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: Oh, come on. Drop that, Regina, you're wasting your breath on us.

Regina: If I kill you... I'll be glad, ya hear?

[shoots Loco's hat off his head]

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: You saw that woman shoot first!

[shoots Regina]

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Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: [to Pauline after capturing the outlaws] I want the mute to come shoot it out with me. Just him an' me. Tell him if he don't... I'm gonna shoot every one of these people here. My friends won't interfere. So it's my life against every one of theirs. Go fetch him; you know where he is.

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[Silence has been waiting for Pauline]

Pauline: There wasn't time! I'm sorry. I tried... but that Loco had captured 'em. He'd taken them all as hostages to the saloon. He wants to shoot it out with you, just you and him. He said to tell you... if you don't, he'll kill every one of them!

[Silence prepares to leave]

Pauline: But... you can't, Silence! You're hurt real bad. Besides - I'm certain it's a trap. You can't trust him. Don't get involved. You're just one man. Please don't go. Let's run for it. There must be some place we can go. They're gonna kill 'em either way, they're all gonna die! I don't want you dead. I love you.

[Silence walks out of the barn]

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Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: [to Silence] And now, boy... I've been waitin' a long time for an amusin' day like this.

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[Pauline has tried to sell her house to Pollicut, only for him to try and forcefully seduce her]

Pauline: [to Silence] I didn't get the money... but I still want my revenge. I don't want you to work for nothing. There is one who'd give me the money, right away... if I wanted to... do what he wants. Well... what he wants in exchange is too high a price for me to pay... but I'm willing to pay you. Now, before, after, whenever.

[Silence leaves for the saloon]

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Martin: [to Pauline while she waits for Pollicut] Cold, ain't it? I reckon I'd head for a better climate if I was you... more like Haiti. Oh, I meant no offence, Pauline, no offence...

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Pauline: [pours Silence a drink] I sent for you 'cause I want you to kill a man. How much do you want for him?

[Silence drinks, but doesn't answer. He pours another drink]

Pauline: You could at least answer me! Well? Can't you talk?

[Silence pauses, then pulls back his scarf, revealing a long scar]

Pauline: Oh... I'm sorry, I didn't know. Please excuse me.

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Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: No - if you want me to kill him, put a good price on his head.

Pollicut: You ought to do this for nothin'! It's in your own interest, Loco. Have you forgotten who he is?

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: I know him. He picks a fight, and when somebody draws, then, he shoots them!

[chuckles]

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: Then the law calls it "self-defence". Now, I'm no fool... he's too fast for me.

Pollicut: But you're the man he's here to get. He's paid by Pauline. He'll pick a fight with you.

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: I can control my temper; he won't shoot off my thumbs.

[wiggles his thumb in front of Pollicut, who cringes]

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: Uh-uh. And he ain't gonna kill me in self-defence, either.

[chuckles]

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: What did you want to get rid of Pauline's husband for? I shot him 'cause that's what you paid me for, but nothin' more. If you want people shot, you pay.

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Pauline: [to Silence] My husband was a good man. They forced him to steal, to give me a decent life. Because... Pollicut could put a price on his head. He thought if I became his mistress... well, he thought wrong.

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[Loco is aiming a rifle at the sheriff as he stands on a frozen lake]

Sheriff Burnett: Loco! Now listen: killing a sheriff will cost you plenty. If I were you, I'd think it over!

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: Uh-uh, I don't need to. You're on the side of the law. We, we're on the side of the law of survival... survival of the fittest!

[shoots part of the frozen lake, the sheriff screams as he falls in]

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Pollicut: [about Silence] Well, Martin, will he come out of it? Alive?

Martin: I doubt it. When he left, he was leaking his blood all over the sidewalk.

Pollicut: Let's hope that he lost it all. Where is he?

Martin: He's at the girl's house.

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Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: [to his gang] Now, in Snow Hill... we can't miss a couple of opportunities. First, all those outlaws in the mountains are headin' there. There's a modest price on their heads. Still, it's a powerful lot... when you add 'em all together, and it's nice and legal, too. But then we have this other one...

Sanchez: Who's that?

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: The mute who shoots thumbs off. The one who hates bounty killers...

Sanchez: Uh-uh. Since you murdered Sheriff Burnett, I don't go for that.

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: But it was the mute who killed your brother...

Sanchez: The *hell* did you say?

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: He had no chance to defend himself.

Sanchez: [to the others] C'mon!

[the killers ride to Snow Hill]

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Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: [to his gang] Calm down, friends. Since when are wolves afraid of wolves?

Sanchez: Never, Loco.

[laughs]

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Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: It's all according to the law, you should know.

Pollicut: Yes. You see sheriff, since our friend here has to have, er... irrefutable proof of identity, as the law requires, he, ah, shows the bodies and the reward posters when he collects. It's all quite precise.

Sheriff Burnett: Correct, huh? But, er... what's your interest in this? You're just a banker, and all you gotta do is advance me the money to pay off this man.

Pollicut: Oh, true, true, of course, but aside from my small percentage, all cash is required to change hands in my presence... to make sure the bounty killer has been honest. The law is quite precise, sheriff.

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: In this town, as in the whole United States, the law's the important thing. Am I right?

Sheriff Burnett: All right! Pay him off and get rid of him.

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Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: [after hauling bodies onto a stagecoach] What's wrong, sheriff? Why can't a man provide for his old age?

Sheriff Burnett: I don't think you're gonna make it. Sooner or later, you're gonna meet up with someone faster than you.

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: Well, that'll be an amusing day. Mighty!

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[Silence is trying to provoke Loco]

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: Say, boy... you're trying to force me to draw, ain't you? I know your system. And I know you're supposed to try and kill me... but I'm not losing my temper; of that, I'm sure. If anybody draws first, it's gotta be you.

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Pollicut: Pauline. A pleasure to see you. What can I do for you? Is there something you wanna buy?

Pauline: I didn't come to buy. I came to sell.

Pollicut: And what are you sellin'?

Pauline: Our house. It cost at least five thousand dollars. I'll give it to you for a thousand... 'cause you like cheap things.

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Pollicut: [with a wad of cash in hand] May I ask what you need this for? It's a pretty good sum.

Pauline: No.

Pollicut: I shouldn't have brought it up. Just the same... is this to pay a man for a certain crime?

Pauline: That's my business. Just tell me "yes" or "no"? Are you interested in my offer?

Pollicut: Not really. You know you shouldn't crawl for money like this. I wouldn't take advantage of your situation for a thousand dollars. I want you to have it...

[He hands the money to Pauline and forcefully kisses her. She pushes him off her, spits at him and discards the money]

Pauline: I wish it were poison!

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Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: Hey, Pull up here!

Stage driver: Whoa. What's the matter?

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: I've got another piece of freight to collect.

[Trudges through snow to collect another bounty killing.]

Tigrero, a.k.a. Loco: Give me a hand and I'll buy you another drink.

Sheriff Burnett: [Whispers to Silence] How many has he got?

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