Classic Scene : Ghost Dog – The Way Of The Samurai (1999)

“Did you say he contacts you through a bird ?? Did i just hear you say that ?”

Love him or hate him, the movies from offbeat film maker Jim Jarmusch will leave your mind contemplating and deliberating with itself for weeks, months and even years after watching them. His 12th film is about a professional hitman – Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) who contracts to the Mafia and has carried out a dozen ‘perfect’ assassinations.

SETTING THE SCENE : When his latest hit goes wrong, the Gangster who is responsible for Ghost Dog, Louie (John Tormey) finds himself being interrogated from the Mobsters he works for – with hilarious results…

Sonny : We got a really big problem here Louie. Seems like your directly responsible for it. Your mystery man fucked up.

Louie : Marine told me he put the girl, he.. Mr Vargo’s daughter on the bus.

Sonny : He did. But she got off the bus and went to handsome Frank’s house.

Louie : You wanted handsome Frank wacked, so he got wacked – from outside. I set it all up, no traces, no nothing. Marine said she was on the bus.. Jesus it was lucky he didn’t do her too, right ?

Mr Vargo : (assertively) If he had, you would be fuckin dead.

Sonny : This is not a good situation Louie.

Louie : Well, where is she now ? Is she alright?

Sonny : Don’t worry about Mr Vargo’s daughter, what we need to do is eliminate the scum bag who wacked Frank. Frank was one of us.. his killer needs to be neutralised. Erased from the face of the planet.

Louie : For the past 4 years, this guy has done maybe 12 perfect contracts. Perfect – like a ghost. He’s very valuable, he’s totally untraceable. I’m sure he didn’t realize anyone was gonna be there when he did handsome Frank, he woulda backed off. He’s sure as hell didn’t know she was.. gonna be there.

Sonny : Louie, unless you wanna be buried next to Frank, now is the time to tell us everything you know about this mysterious, ghost like, untraceable fuckin button head.

Louie : Okay, okay. Lets see, umm.. i don’t pay him by the job. He’ll only work if i pay him once each year – always on the first day of autumn, that’s the way he wants it. On the first day of autumn i settle up for all the contracts he’s done for that past year see ?

Sonny : The first day of autumn.. okay, okay.. Lets just skip that part for now – where does he live ?

Louie : Fucked if i know, that’s the next strange thing – i cant just call him up cos well he contacts me only through a.. bird. You see once i first started contracting stuff out to this guy, the bird comes every single day.

Sonny : (bewildered) Hold it. hold it, hold it. Did you say he contacts you through a bird ?? Did i just hear you say that ?

Mr Vargo : (curious) What particular species of bird ?

Louie : It’s a pigeon. Must be like a carrier pigeon or whatever.

Old Consigliere : (shouting) Passenger pigeon ! Passenger pigeon ! Been extinct since 1914 !

Sonny : (perplexed) Am i fuckin dreaming here or what ? Alright Louie, forget about the bird, okay. Let me ask you this – tell me, what does this mysterious guy look like – could you maybe tell me that much ?

Louie : He’s a big guy. A big black guy.

Sonny : He’s what ?

Old Consigliere : He said the guy’s a nigger.

Louie : (explaining) You see, maybe about 8 years ago i saw a guy, this guy – he was more of a kid really, he was in a bad situation.. so i straightened things out. Anyway, then about 4 years ago, this big guy comes to my door, a big black guy, he’s gotta fuckin pigeon on his shoulder, fuck if i know how he found me but he said he owed me. I only saw him once after that and well we made this arrangement.

Sonny : Thats very touching Louie. Let me just back track here for just a second. You said this fuckin bird comes to your house every day. Did he come today ?

Louie : Yes the bird was there this morning.

Sonny : Did he have a message ?

Louie : Yea, the usual mission accomplished message.

Sonny : And did you send a message back ?

Louie : (slightly nervous) No.. no, i knew you were gonna call me in, so i figured it was best to leave things alone.

Mr Vargo : Did you try and follow this bird, put a bug on it, anything like that ?

Louie : No, i never had a reason to do anything like that. Like i said, i realize the arrangement i’ve made with this guy is pretty weird but he’s always shown me complete respect.

Sonny : Well, a whole new century is coming Louie and Mr Vargo wants every member of his family to make it a priority to erase this weirdo.

Louie : (firmly) This guy is a professional.. going after him could be very dangerous.

Sonny : Handsome Frank was one of us, so now were gonna peel this niggers cap back… Better him than you, right Louie ?

© BRWC 2010.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.



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