EXT. MCLANE’S MOUNTAIN HOME - AFTERNOON
A faint curtain of snowfall parts, revealing a luxurious mountain cottage, with a Mercedes-Benz parked in the driveway.
INT. MCLANE’S PRIVATE OFFICE - CONTINUOUS
A distinguished looking man, in his early forties, sits at his desk, sharply dressed, rings and cuff links sparkling in the lamp light. He opens a letter addressed to ALEXANDER MCLANE. It reads:
DEAR ALEXANDER: YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO A VERY SPECIAL AUCTION AT MY LAKE TAHOE ESTATE. TIME OF EVENT: NINE P.M. TOMORROW EVENING. OBJECT FOR SALE: THE RARE LOCKHEED MEMORIAL STAMP. ONE TIME ONLY. CASH ONLY. MORRIS MANCHESTER
Before there is too much time to read it, McLane sets the telegram on fire. The last bit of the message engulfed in flames are the words—ONE TIME ONLY.
INT. MCLANE’S DEN - LATER
Except for the few pieces of ornate furniture, the most prominent objects in the eerily lit room are numerous taxidermal figures — a stalking cougar, a roaring lioness, and a growling tiger. McLane opens a wall safe, revealing stacks of money. He removes several stacks, placing them into a briefcase. LESLIE, his girlfriend, sits, legs crossed, her nose in a lit-up compact. She meticulously touches up her already perfectly applied makeup.
LESLIE: But you promised to take me skiing this weekend. You know there’s a perfectly wonderful storm on its way!
MCLANE: I told you I have important business to handle. I have to go.
LESLIE: Why not just send one of your gorillas to do the job?
LAMARR, his bodyguard, sits devouring an entire cooked chicken. McLane closes the safe and swings back a hinged painting, hiding the safe from view. The painting is of a black panther perched in the branches of a tree guarding its prey. McLane calmly walks over to her. As she continues applying her lipstick, he gently strokes her hair.
MCLANE: How do you think I afford all your little luxuries, my dear? You know if there’s urgent business to take care of, I always choose to handle it myself...
He turns her head towards him, smearing her lipstick.
MCLANE (CONT’D): And since when has it been my policy to consult with you on such matters?
Story Continues Below
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Story Continues From Above
Releasing her, he starts back to his briefcase. Leslie stares dumbfounded, halfheartedly rubbing the lipstick from her face.
LESLIE (under her breath): Animal...
Lamarr spits out a piece of chicken cartilage and continues chewing happily. Leslie looks at him in disgust.
LESLIE (CONT’D): You’re all just animals.
McLane pauses at the stuffed cougar, stroking it as if it were alive.
MCLANE: What’s that, my dear? Yes, you’re quite right...
Lamarr rips another portion from the chicken carcass.
MCLANE (CONT’D): Man is an animal. His willingness to do anything to survive has made him the most ruthless predator on the planet.
McLane then steps to the open briefcase now crammed full with money.
MCLANE (CONT’D): The only thing that distinguishes us from the animals is this...
He grabs a fistful of cash and turns back toward Leslie, holding up his object lesson for her to see.
MCLANE (CONT’D): For man, this wields supreme power! The same dollar can save the Earth or destroy it. One dollar feeds a starving refugee or it supplies the ammunition for both sides of the same war!
Blankly Leslie just continues to listen. Lamarr, too, seems stupefied. His mouth is full, but he doesn’t chew.
MCLANE (CONT’D): Now stop your whining. Go wash your face. I want to talk to Lamarr alone.
He tosses a bundle of money at her, like throwing a bone to a dog.
LESLIE: I just have a bad feeling about this trip, that’s all. You’ve heard of woman’s intuition, haven’t you?
MCLANE: I said I’ll handle it.
LESLIE: Suit yourself.
Leslie picks up the money, and leaves the room.
NARRATOR: Meet Mr. Alexander McLane: shrewd business man, cunning entrepreneur, a rising star fast on his way up the ladder toward that most sought after prize of man ... power. A self-made man, McLane prides himself on knowing what is really important in life, and on being single-minded enough to carry out any plan deemed necessary in his quest. But one day, power decided to dispense a little lesson of its own to Mr. McLane, a lesson that could only be conceived and carried out, in ... A Strange World.
McLane steps over to Lamarr, who finally swallows what he’s been chewing.
MCLANE: I want you to arrange transportation for me to Lake Tahoe.
LAMARR: Word is: the weekend storm is going to make flying in even more treacherous than usual.
MCLANE: Good. That means: While everyone else is deciding whether or not to fly in, I’ll be arriving via an alternate route...
Lamarr leans forward in anticipation.
MCLANE (CONT’D): I’ll be neatly whisked in and out by a professional driver.
LAMARR: Still no piece of cake, this time of year.
MCLANE: That’s why I want a real pro — fully equipped, his own vehicle, the whole nine yards. This is no time for minor leaguers. Got it?
LAMARR: Yes, sir, right away. When do you need to be there, Mr. McLane?
MCLANE: Nine P.M., tomorrow evening.
LAMARR: I’ll get on it right away. Sounds important. What’s in Tahoe?
The expression on McLane’s face starts to sour, but suddenly he grins, apparently pleased with himself.
MCLANE: It seems a certain business associate of mine is offering a once in a lifetime opportunity. All thanks to a tiny postage stamp.
LAMARR (obviously puzzled): A stamp? Since when are you interested in stamp collecting, Mr. McLane?
MCLANE: Let’s just say there’s more to this particular stamp than meets the eye.
LAMARR: Why a stamp?
MCLANE: Just a formality, really. A stamp is the perfect place to conceal a microdot, still the best place to hide confiscated blueprints.
MCLANE: Yes, blueprints for a priceless technology. Wealth and power, all on a spot no larger than the head of a pin. Now, quickly, there’s no time to lose. Get me my wheels!
INT. MCLANE’S DEN - AFTERNOON
Leslie sits in an easy chair, glaring up at McLane, perched on his desk. Lamarr stands at attention before him.
LAMARR: Your driver will be a C.M. Strickland. He understands that he’ll be paid one thousand dollars upon your arrival in Tahoe and one thousand upon your return—no questions asked.
MCLANE: Good. He’s ready to move on such short notice?
LAMARR: You’re scheduled to leave tonight at five P.M. from his private residence right here in Bishop.
MCLANE: Fine. What’s the story on this Strickland?
LAMARR: Word is: He’s a real character.
MCLANE: What’s that supposed to mean?
LAMARR: The guy’s in touch with the land, the animals, that sort of stuff. He’s supposed to be a real mountain man, I guess.
MCLANE: Will he get me to my destination ahead of my competitors? That’s all I'm interested in.
LAMARR: Considering the highway conditions you’ll be facing this time of year, he’s as good as they get.
MCLANE: Fine. Then we leave in an hour.
EXT. HIGHWAY - LATER
McLane’s Mercedes-Benz cruises down the highway.
INT. MCLANE’S MERCEDES-BENZ - CONTINUOUS
Lamarr is at the wheel. Clearly he is all business. The car’s radio is playing at a pleasant volume. Leslie, quietly seated next to McLane in the back, is still obviously discontent. With glancing eyes, she sees that he is deep in thought. Deciding not to force the issue, she reaches for her handbag and takes out her compact.
RADIO VOICE: Another great weekend for you skiers as tonight’s late evening snowstorm is expected to drop another five to eight inches on the Sierra Nevada range.
Leslie perks up, lowering her compact.
MCLANE: Relax. I told you we’ll go skiing when I get back.
LESLIE: But I told you I had a really bad feeling about your business trip.
MCLANE: Oh, now it’s a really bad feeling, is it? You’ll say anything to get me to take you skiing, won’t you?
LESLIE: That’s not true. Never mind, then.
She buries her nose in her compact. McLane smiles glibly.
RADIO VOICE: You’re just a moment away from your own personal encounter with adventure. Are you ready to risk it all ... or die trying ... Alexander McLane?
This time, it’s McLane who perks up.
MCLANE: What the ... hey, did you hear that?
LESLIE: Hear what?
MCLANE: Lamarr, did you hear the guy on the radio?
LAMARR: Sorry, boss, I didn’t hear nothin’.
McLane just shakes his head, perplexed.