Classic Scene : Zodiac (2007)

“I’m not the Zodiac. And if i was, i certainly wouldn’t tell you.”

David Fincher’s epic crime drama surrounding the unsolved case of the Zodiac serial killer in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s California. One of the finest films in the last decade, with Fincher engaging you from the opening scene with simple but highly effective film making matched with brilliant performances from Robert Downey Jr (perfect as journalist/junkie Paul Avery), Mark Ruffalo as the unsatisfied cop on the case and Jake Gyllenhaal – in what is a difficult part to play as cartoonist Robert Graysmith who became obsessed with the Zodiac.

SETTING THE SCENE : Prime suspect (even to this day) Arthur Leigh Allen (meticulously played by John Carroll Lynch) is interviewed at his place of work by Inspector Armstrong (Anthony Edwards), Sergeant Mulanax (Elias Koteas) and Inspector Toschi (Mark Ruffalo). Forever to be held in the memories of crime film lovers.

Armstrong : Mr Allen, i’m Inspector Bill Armstrong. This is Inspector Dave Toschi and Sergeant Jack Mulanax. Were investigating the Zodiac murders in San Francisco and Vallejo. Please sit down.

Allen takes a seat with the three Police officers sitting opposite him in an interrogation like position.

Armstrong : The informant notified us that you made certain statements 11 months prior to the first Zodiac murder. If they’re true they’re quite incriminating. Do you recall having such conversation ?
Allen : No.

Mulanax : Have you ever read or heard anything about the Zodiac ?

Allen : When it was first in the paper. But i didn’t follow it after those first reports.

Armstrong : Why not ?

Allen : Too morbid. I… i told all this to the other officer.

Armstrong : Which other officer ?

Allen : From Vallejo.

Armstrong : Do you remember his name ?

Allen : No, but it was right after the murder at the lake.

Mulanax : And what did you tell this officer ?

Allen : (changing posture and attitude) I told him that i’d gone to Salt Point that weekend to skin dive. That i was alone but i met a couple there. I have their names at home if you want them.

Mulanax : That would be great, Arthur.

Allen : Leigh.

Mulanax : What ?

Allen : (arrogantly) Leigh. Nobody calls me Arthur. (pause). Also, that day when i came home, my neighbour saw me. It was around 4. But i forgot to tell the other officer that.

Armstrong : Neighbour’s name ?

Allen : Bill White. (pause). He died a week or so afterwards, heart attack. So i didn’t think to call to follow up. The knives i had in my car with blood on them, that blood came from a chicken i killed for dinner.

The three police officers all look at each other slightly bewildered.

Malanax : What ?

Allen : I had knives in my car that weekend. Maybe Bill saw them and called the other officer on me.

Malanax : Well, we’ll be checking in on that. Let me ask you something else. Were you ever in Southern California at any time in 1966 ?

Allen : Is this about the Riverside killing ?

Malanax : Yes.

Allen : Well, i guess i was there around that time. I use to go down there a lot. I like the auto races.

Armstrong : Informant says your ambidextrous ?

Allen : No, that’s untrue.

Armstrong : You can’t write with both hands ?

Allen : My teachers tried to make me when i was a kid, but i couldn’t. I’m left handed.

Malanax : He also said that you made statements about killing school children.

Allen : (defiant) That is… That is horrible. That is… That is a horrible thing to say.

Malanax : So you weren’t angry about being fired from Valley Springs for touching your students ?

Allen : (long pause). I’m not the Zodiac. And if i was, i certainly wouldn’t tell you.

Toschi : That’s a nice watch.

Allen : Thank you.

Toschi : May i see it ?

Allen shows him the watch whilst still on his wrist.

Toschi : (demanding). May i see it ?

Allen takes off the watch and hands it to Inspector Toschi.

Toschi takes a look at the watch which is a ‘Zodiac’ make.

Toschi : Where did you get it ?

Allen : It was a gift from my mother two years ago.

Toschi : That’s very sweet. So, tell me something Arthur. You don’t remember anyone you might have had a conversation with regarding the Zodiac ?

Allen : Maybe Ted Kidder or Phil Tucker at Vallejo Recreation. But i couldn’t be positive. I used to work there when… (pause).. Oh ‘The Most Dangerous Game.’

Armstrong : What ?

Allen : ‘The Most Dangerous Game.’ That’s why your here, isn’t it ? It was my favourite book in high school. It’s about this man who waits for people to get shipwrecked on this island. Because he was tired of hunting animals, he hunted the people for the challenge.

Toschi : And man is the most dangerous animal of all ?

Allen : That’s the whole point of the story. Great book. Or at least that’s what i told Phil.

A bell rings in the factory.

Allen : May i go ?

Toschi : Sure.

Allen gets up and collects his watch back from Inspector Toschi.

Toschi : Thanks for your time.

Allen : I’m willing to help in any way possible. I look forward to the day when police officers are no longer referred to as pigs.

Armstrong : Thanks. We’ll be in touch.

Allen walks out the room.

Inspector Toschi stands up and watches Allen walk away, with both men sharing eye contact. Toschi then turns round to the other two officers.

Toschi : So does anyone think this suspect warrants further investigation ?

© 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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