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Novel to Film | Daniel and Bonnie Dee

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Daniel and Bonnie Dee
From The Ponder Heart by Eudora Welty
excerpted from chapter 2

Meantime! Here traipsed into town a little thing from away off down in the country. Near Polk: you wouldn't have ever heard of Polk -- I hadn't. Bonnie Dee Peacock. A little thing with yellow, fluffy hair.

The Peacocks are the kind of people keep the mirror outside on the front porch, and go out and pick railroad lilies to bring inside the house, and wave at trains till the day they die. The most they probably hoped for was that somebody'd come find oil in the front yard and fly in the house and tell them about it. Bonnie Dee was one of nine or ten, and no bigger than a minute. A good gust of wind might have carried her off any day.

She traipsed into Clay all by herself and lived and boarded with some Bodkins on Depot Street. And went to work in the ten cent store: all she knew how to do was make change.

So -- that very day, after Uncle Daniel finished turning the tables and was just through telling us about it, and we were all having a conniption fit in here, Uncle Daniel moseyed down the street and in five minutes was inside the ten cent store. That was where he did all his shopping. He was intending to tell his story in there, I think, but instead of that, he was saying to the world in general and Bonnie Dec at the jewelry counter in particular, "I've got a great big house standing empty, and my father's Studebaker. Come on -- marry me."

You see how things happen? Miss Lutie Powell, Uncle Daniel's old schoolteacher, was in there at the time buying a spool of thread, and she heard it -- but just didn't believe it.

I was busy, busy, busy with two things that afternoon -- worrying about what I'd say to Grandpa when he got back, and conducting my rummage sale in the yard. I might as well have been in Jericho. If Uncle Daniel had told me what he was going in the ten cent store to say -- but I doubt strongly if he knew, himself, he's so sudden quick -- I could have pretty well predicted the answer. I could have predicted it partway. Because -- Uncle Daniel can't help it! -- he always makes everything sound grand. Home on the hilltop! Great big car! Negroes galore! Homegrown bacon and eggs and ham and fried grits and potato cakes and honey and molasses for breakfast every morning to start off with -- you know, you don't have to have all the brilliance in the world to sound grand, or be grand either. It's a gift.

The first thing I knew of what transpired was two hours and a half later, when I was two dollars and ninety-five cents to the good of the heathen, selling away to the Negroes as hard as I could and dead on my feet in the yard. Then bang up against the hitching post at the curb pulls in that Studebaker. It honks, and the motor huffs and puffs, and the whole car's shaking all over like it does if you stop it too quick after running it too long. It's been going all day, too. I shade my eyes and who do I see but old Narciss at the steering wheel. She's the cook out at the place. She's looking at me, very mournful and meaning and important. She always does look like that, but I never in my life knew she knew how to drive.

"Oh-oh," I says to the rummage sale. "Don't anybody touch a thing till I get back," and march out to meet it. There in the back seat sat Uncle Daniel big as life and right beside him Bonnie Dee Peacock, batting her eyes.

"Uncle Daniel, dear heart, why don't you get out and come in?" I says, speaking just to him, first. And Eva Sistrunk, the one that's a little older than me, just passing by with nothing to do, stopped in her tracks and politely listened in.

"Eva, how's your family?" says Uncle Daniel.

He was beaming away for all he was worth and shooting up his arm every minute to wave -- of course Saturday traffic was traveling around the Square. Those people had just spent the morning waving him good-by, seeing him off to the asylum with Grandpa. By next time around they'd know everything. I look straight at Narciss.

Narciss is biding her time till she's got a big crowd and an outside ring of Negroes; then she sings out real high and sad, "Mr. Daniel done took a new wife, Miss Edna Earle."

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Daniel and Bonnie Dee
From the screenplay by Gail Gilchriest

Exterior. Clay jewelers. Day. Medium shot.
Daniel tries to open door. Pan right as he walks right. Knocks on window.

Medium shot. Bonnie Dee exits door on right.
Rear angle, Daniel. Knocks on window.

Bonnie Dee: What are you doing, Mr. Ponder?

Medium shot. Daniel. Takes off hat. Tips it.

Daniel: Trying to scare up somebody to sell me a ring.

Medium shot. Over the shoulder on Bonnie Dee. She points right.

Bonnie Dee: They all went to your wedding. I weren't invited.

Medium shot. Daniel. Holds hat. Walks to foreground.

Daniel: Well, I'm sure it was an oversight.

Medium shot. Bonnie Dee. Looks down.

Bonnie Dee: I know where you can get a ring. Right sparkly, and at a good price.

Close up. Daniel.

Bonnie Dee [off screen, continues]: Come on, I'll show you.

Daniel: Okay.

Medium shot. Bonnie Dee walks left into Leota's. Daniel follows.

Interior. Leota's parlor. Day. Medium shot. Side angle, Daniel enters parlor. Bonnie Dee follows.
Crosses in foreground to tip jar. Reaches in. Puts money in gumball machine.

Bonnie Dee: I first saw one of these at the county fair over in Silver City. Did you ever go there? I rode the Ferris Wheel, went around nine times.

Close up. Over the shoulder on Bonnie Dee.

Bonnie Dee [continues]: From the top, the lights down below twinkled just like the stars in heaven.

Close up. Over the shoulder on Daniel.

Daniel: Really?

Close up. Over the shoulder on Bonnie Dee. Looks down right.

Close up. Over the shoulder on Daniel.

Medium shot. Side angle, Daniel and Bonnie Dee.

Bonnie Dee: See...

Medium shot. Gumball machine. Back of Bonnie Dee's hair. Daniel leans down into frame.
Bonnie Dee taps on gumball machine. Daniel looks left.

Bonnie Dee [continues]: The prettiest one is down at bottom, where most people can't see it.

Daniel: What's that smells so good?

Bonnie Dee: They call it, "Evening in Paris."

Daniel: That's mighty fine.

Medium shot. Side angle, Daniel kneels next to machine. Bonnie Dee stands. Daniel then stands.
Bonnie Dee holds out hand. Daniel places ring on her finger.

Bonnie Dee: Ta-da! Not bad for three cents. But I don't think it's a real diamond.

Daniel: Let's see how it looks on you. Beautiful.

Bonnie Dee: It's just a hand.

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Daniel and Bonnie Dee
From the film, directed by Martha Coolidge

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