GROSSING OUT (excerpt)
by Terry Southern

screenplay; 1st draft; c. 1980
written for Peter Sellers and Hal Ashby; from an idea by Peter Sellers

Grossing Out, an original screenplay Terry wrote for Peter Sellers in the early 80s, was in development at Lorimar with Hal Ashby when Sellers died. The story concerns the bizarre, intrigue-filled, and coldly-fiscal world of armaments dealing. We get a Strangelovian 'insiders' view' of this world that is filled with drugs, money, and death. Terry felt this screenplay was his most important...



MURCHISON (on phone)

Ed? Okay, let's shoot straight-pool, Ed--how's it looking for the home team, over there in old Europa?

INTERCUT their conversation throughout.


Well, partner, I think we're in pretty good shape. I talked to General Mittledorf this morning--the Krauts are behind us 100 percent...I think we blew the limey-plane right out of the water with that Jordanian fuck-up...the eye-ties, of course, were out of it going in, so were the it looks like the only thing going up against us now is that frog-crate...and I just don't think they can cut it, know what I mean?


You mean their plane can't cut it? Or they can't cut a deal?

GEN. WASTEMORLAND (grinning crazily)

Now you're talkin'!

MURCHISON (earnestly)

Well Ed, I sure hope you're right. I mean, we've got one helluva bundle riding on this.


All of us have, Bert--this is a biggie!


I must tell you there's been some scuttle butt around here about that Vickers-Siddly Nighthawk--how they're going to soup it up and try to bull it through.


Where'd you hear that, Bert?

MURCHISON (hesitantly)

Well...I'm not at liberty to say--but it's a very reliable source.


The Agency?

MURCHISON (after a pause)



Well, you know those clowns are wrong about as often as they're right--in fact, I would say one helluva lot more so. Tell you what, I'll check it out with our own G-2, and call you back. Okay, Bert? Okay.

(hangs up, to Col. Bailey)

Bert Murchison at Republic Aviation -he says some horse's ass at the CIA claims the limies are about to make a big push at NATO with that modified Nighthawk. Find out if G-2 has anything on it.

COL. BAILEY (jotting it in a notebook)

Yes sir.


All right, Colonel, let's run that tape, and see what kind of clap-jiz they want us to swallow today!

He settles back at his desk, as Col. Bailey SWITCHES on the VCR, and the TV screen lights up with the face of DAN RATHER (or similar) in a news program's 'special commentary'. Their POV, the TV screen. INTERCUT the General's REACTION SHOTS (annoyance and disgust) throughout.


The annual figures for this country's Gross National Product were announced today, and an international trade deficit was revealed for the third consecutive year--largely due to increased imports in the automotive and electronic industries...

CUT TO SHOT (STOCK) PANNING, a large field of Toyotas (various models).

RATHER (continuing, V.O.)

...with Japan being the number one supplier in both cases.

CUT TO PAN a vast array of electronic equipment (TVs, radios, taperecorders, clocks, etc., etc.) and featuring brand names 'SONY', 'HITACHI', 'PANASONIC', etc.

RATHER (continuing, V.0.)

...with West Germany also very strong in automotive . . .

SHOT of VW's (various)

...and photographic equipment.

ASSEMBLY LINE SHOT of Nikkons and Leicas.


While our imports in most areas increased, and our exports shrank, there were a few surprising exceptions, in the field of export--guns, bullets, and bombs...

SERIES OF SHOTS of all manner of armaments--guns, planes, tanks, etc.: on the drawing board...on the assembly line...parked in huge holding areas...on smoldering wrecks....during Rather's Voice Over.


For the preceding fiscal year, our sale of armaments, to foreign countries, totaled thirteen point nine billion dollars. This figure is up considerably from the preceding year...In short, the manufacture and sale of military weapons, as an integral part of this nation's economy, has steadily increased over the past ten years--until we are now producing 5 times the amount of guns, planes, tanks, and explosives than we were at the height of World War II. The principal buyers of these weapons have been the troubled countries of the Mid East...South America...and the newly emergent nations of Africa...

Accompanying Rather's VOICE OVER are appropriate FILM-CLIPS (STOCK): SHEIKS in princely regalia, trying out machine-guns; SOUTH AMERICAN DICTATORS operating the gun-turret of a heavy tank, AFRICAN GENERALS (extravagantly decorated Idi Amin Types) firing grenadelaunchers at distant targets. With last image, CUT BACK TO:


Some members of Congress have been quite vocal in their opposition to our sale of weapons to foreign countries--none more than Senator Hartman, of South Dakota--as he so clearly stated during a recent appearance on 'Meet the Press'.


SENATOR HARTMAN, although liberal, is not the young good-looking stereotype one might expect, but more the 'wise old codger' a la Sam Erwin or Melvin Douglas.


Our continuing sale of military weapons, in vast quantities, to practically every country which can pay the price--is an international scandal. These weapons--which are supposedly for the purpose of protecting that country from foreign aggression--are, in fact, most frequently used to suppress opposition within the country to its present government: a government which, in many cases, is corrupt, tyrannical, and unrepresentative of its people. Even when the armaments are used for protection from foreign invasion, such indiscriminate proliferation of sophisticated weaponry can only serve to aggravate tension in the region in question, and to undermine the ever precarious balance of power between the small nations purchasing the weapons.


There are others, however, who strongly disagree. Senator Todd, for example--Chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee.

CUT TO film-clip of SENATOR TODD--older, paunchy, flamboyant.


That is the kind of talk that gives me gray hair. Not only is the Senator obviously unaware of the Communist threat to these countries we are helping, he also does not seem to know where his own bread is buttered! This marvelous defense industry of ours of which he is being so critical just happens to bring in about fourteen billion dollars of hard cash to this country--cash absolutely essential to buy oil and gasoline! It is also the industry which provides jobs--very good jobs, may I say--to more than one million law-abiding, god-fearing citizens of this country! Without it, our economy would be in very serious trouble indeed! In short, the free enterprise industry which Senator Hartman is so irresponsibly criticizing just happens to be what is saving our, pardon my French, 'A' double 'S'!


In the programs to follow, we continue to explore the question
"Weapons for the World--America's Role". We shall try to "be as objective as--

Gen. Wastemorland aims the remote, pistol-style, and SNAPS OFF the Commentator's voice, leaving the silent mouthing image on the screen.


If that had been my Colt 45, he would be tryin' to talk out of a big hole in the back of his head right now! The little Commie punk!
Whose side is that A-hole on anyway?!?

COL. BAILEY (shakes his head in dismay)
Beats me, General. Sounds pretty naive.

GEN. WASTEMORLAND (picks up phone; snarls into it)

Get me Bill Paley at C.B.S.!

The TV screen, still silent, is now showing some old Vietnam combatfootage. General Wastemorland scowls at it, then looks at Bailey.

GEN. WASTEMORLAND (continuing)

Hell, I don't think the asshole is playing with a full goddamn deck!

(c) The Terry Southern Estate; all rights reserved.

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