Sturgill Simpson’s ‘The Ballad Of Dood & Juanita’ Should Be Made Into A Quentin Tarantino Movie

Text

Sturgill Simpson has done it again.

I’ve always loved albums that tell a story and this obviously takes that to an extreme. Dood & Juanita is an epic tale of Appalachian revenge, great dogs, hard men and what a man will go through for a woman he loves.

While this album obviously needs nothing from me, I felt there was some potential to make this story bigger… I’d previously felt the same way about Eric Church’s Heart & Soul, which I turned into a musical, but this is different.

The idea I have needs something bigger than a stage. It needs a movie set. A movie set directed by none other than…

Quentin Tarantino.

The man who tells stories as wild as the action he puts in them, the man who creates lasting characters and dialogue that will be ever quotable until all humans die off and are replaced by aliens or whatever is coming next. That is the man who can take this vision of mine and make it shine.

So without further ado, here’s my adaptation of The Ballad Of Dood & Juanita.

The movie takes place in 3 settings, all different time periods. The first is “Present Day” Scranton, Pennsylvania, 1954. The cecond is Cuba, 1898 in the Spanish American War. The third is the expanses of Post-Civil War Appalachia, 1866, starting in Kentucky but going where ever it has too.

Before we go further, I do have to note that although Sturgill mentions the year 1862 in the album’s first song, that’s smack dab in the middle of the Civil War, and kind of throws a wrench in my idea, so just for this movie I’m moving the story of Dood and Juanita to 1866, a year after the Civil War ended. Creative license, some would call it… I just prefer historical accuracy (to some degree).

We’ll start with a character list by setting and who I believe should be casted for the role. For the most part, I stuck to actors who had previously been in Tarantino movies, but did pick a few that were just to perfect to pass up.

Only major roles were casted, since hey, I’m not a director…

Settings

Appalachia, 1866

Dood – Jason Momoa
Juanita – Margaret Qualley
Seamus McClure – Michael Madsen
Cherokee Chief – Wes Studi
Shamrock – Horse
Sam – Dog
Dood’s Grandfather
Dood’s Father
Dood’s Mother
Dood Daughter
Dood Son
Cherokee Natives

Scranton, 1954 (Present Day)

Old Grandpa – Samuel L Jackson
Grandson

Spanish American War, Cuba, 1898

Young Grandpa – Sammi Rotibi
Soldiers – Brad Pitt (Main Story Teller), Steve Buscemi, Sturgill Simpson (Older soldier at end), Misc. Others
Captain – Kurt Russel

Script Summary

Now for the fun part…

The songs from the album will be the soundtrack to this movie, playing as the scenes unfold, not a musical like my last endeavor.

Opening Scene

(Present) In Scranton, Pennsylvania, 1954, a grandson is visiting his grandfather (Samuel L. Jackson) for his 70th birthday. They start looking through old pictures and one of the grandfather in his military outfit catches the grandson’s eyes.

“That was me in the Spanish-American War.” Grandpa said.  “I was part of a group that supported the Rough Riders, lead by none other than Teddy Roosevelt himself. Teddy had insisted his soldiers be integrated, so that’s where they sent me. We had some good times down in Cuba…”

His grandson asks him to tell some stories from the war.

“Sure, but I’ll just stick to the good parts. Let’s start the first day I got there…”

(War) Scene cuts to a young soldier (Sammi Rotibi) arriving at camp on his first day. He gets pushed around going through the check-in processes, not really talking to many people. After getting his bunk and putting away his few things, he wanders the camp, to meet the rest of his unit.

Sun is setting as he notices some soldiers gathered around a fire. He walks over and awkwardly puts himself in the circle. The guys had been arguing over a hypothetical situation in a story he had never heard. When he asks what they’re arguing about, they realize he’s never heard the legend before.

The guys make fun of him a bit for not knowing, but say they like him and, since he’s going to be fighting along side them, they’ll tell him. But just as a soldier (Brad Pitt) starts, a hard-ass Captain (Kurt Russel) walks by and yells at the men. “It’s 10 o’clock, get your asses in bed! We have Cubans to free tomorrow”

They promise they will tell him in the morning. The soldiers go to bed and we see grandpa extremely uncomfortable in the Cuban heat and flies. The scene cuts to morning, where the men are all together, marching to a drummer.

“Prologue”

After being yelled at by the Captain to “Shut the hell up and march”, the soldiers go on until they make camp again at night. The group gathers again around the fire.

Grandpa asks “Okay, so who is this Dood guy?” One of the soldiers takes the lead and starts telling the story.

“Ol’ Dood (Part I)”

(1866) The scene cuts to Dood (Jason Momoa), a massive man born of a mountain miner and a Shawnee maiden. He seems to have inherited just the positives of both of those sets of genes: The size and strength of a mountain miner, the toughness, wisdom and warrior attitude of the Shawnee.

We see him growing up, being taught by his grandfather how to live off the land and take a scalp, him cutting down trees and running wild through the woods. His mean side is also shown as he gets older, especially when someone called him half breed, both whites and Indians.

He can get quite violent when someone makes that comment…

(War) Scene quickly cuts to the captain again yelling at the that it’s 10 o’clock and they have to go the hell to bed.

(Present) Cuts back to Grandson and Grandpa.

Grandson says “Grandpa, are you going to talk about what you did in the war?” Grandpa says “Trust me, boy, I’m telling you the best parts. You don’t want to hear about the bad.”

Grandson puts on a little pout so grandpa adds “This story is so good you’ll forget all about that silly war, I promise you. Now where was I…”

(War) Scene cuts back to soldiers marching in the hot Cuban heat, flies and feces everywhere. The voice of the grandson is heard asking “Was there fighting while you we’re there?” Grandpa answers “Oh yes there was.” Scene cuts to the end of a battle, with dead and maimed bodies lying all around, the group of soldiers looking at each other, all bloodied.

Grandpa is visibly shaken, the others not so much. At the end of the night, the soldiers gather around the fire again, grandpa is still upset about the day. A soldier says “Hey, why don’t you tell the next part of Dood and Juanita to get Grandpa’s mind off the battle.”

“One In The Saddle, One In The Ground”

(1866) The story of the night Dood and Juanita met is told. Dood had gone to town after a long week’s work and started drinking. A new barmaid (Margaret Qualley) was going around, cleaning the place up and he immediately locked eyes on her and felt things he’d never felt before. He stays the whole night, watching her and drinking. He notices she’s been catching his eye too. At first she would look away quickly, but the glances got longer and more flirtatious as the night got later.

When everyone else had left, he stands up (A bit drunken wobbly) and introduces himself. She is shy at first, but then glances up at him with lusty eyes. Scene briefly cuts to them passionately getting-it-on on the bar table. Scene cuts again to their wedding day, where she is pregnant with their first child, a son. He builds them a home by himself and a farm to go with it and while he’s doing this, their son is born, Juanita gets pregnant again and their daughter is born.

The scene cuts to a few years later. The whole family is at their home, working the farm, and, while it’s hard work, everyone is happy because it’s everything they’ve ever wanted. Then one day, as Dood is in the field working his plow, a bandit named Seamus McClure (Michael Madsen) appears at the farm, kidnaps the beautiful Juanita and shot Dood when he rushed from the field to try and save her.

Dood, having passed out after being hit, woke up to the tearful faces of his children, who thought he was dead. They’re so happy to see him awake, but so confused as to why their Mama was taken. Dood realizes the bullet went right through and, after having his dog Sam lick the wound to clean it, knew what he had to do. He told his son to watch out for his sister, packed his bags, grabbed his rifle and sets out, with Sam, to find Juanita on his horse, Shamrock.

(War) Cuts back to captain yelling at the soldiers that it’s 10 o’clock, go the hell to bed. Cuts to sleeping, then to waking, then to marching, then again to the end of a battle, with disgusting death and maimed bodies. Grandpa is shaken again, but slightly less this time. Cuts to night around the fire.

Grandpa asks “Can someone tell me the next part of Dood and Juanita?” Another soldier says “Yeah, (Brad Pitt’s character), tell him about Shamrock.” “What’s Shamrock?” Grandpa asks. They all laugh. “It’s his horse, dumbass.”

“Shamrock”

(1866) The scene during the song is a heroic highlight film of what Shamrock can do and the journey Dood is taking to find Juanita. They stomp out snakes and coyotes, jump over creeks, climb insane mountains and ford raging rivers. The few times they come across people, Shamrock shows nothing but hate for them, letting only one man even come near.

(War) Scene cuts back to the captain yelling at them to go the hell to bed, it’s 10 o’clock. Scene cuts to the guys sleeping, waking, marching and again after after battle. This time Grandpa is only barely shaken by the sights of gore around him. Again, the soldiers that night come around the fire, where Grandpa, more eagerly this time, asks for them to continue the story. “I have to warn you” one of them said, “It’s a sad part…”

“Played Out”

(1866) Scene cuts to Dood, Sam and Shamrock searching all over the land, looking for any signs of Seamus McClure or Juanita. They follow paths and Sam picks up scents for a while, but it always turns up a dead end or they lose track and have to start over.

They go for many hard days and many hard miles. Food and water are scarce. Everyone is growing weary, worn down and weak. Sam is having an especially hard time keeping up.

Shamrock does as well as he can, but even the noble beast can’t go through these conditions without affect. Dood is having difficulty keeping his faith, just plodding on with a wavering determination. Suddenly, Sam is nowhere to be found. Dood looks around then looks behind him, where he sees his dog, the greatest dog in the whole world, laying in a heap.

He runs over to him but it’s too late. His paws are worn raw, he’s bleeding and broken. With one final howl, Sam lets out his final breath. Dood is completely heartbroken and buries him on the spot.

(War) Scene cuts to the soldiers, where there are many sniffles around fire and outright tears flowing from Grandpa’s eyes. “How unfair… How unfair” is all he can muster. One man starts singing a song for Sam and very quickly all join him, Grandpa left to do nothing but listen and weep.

“Sam”

(1866) Scenes of Dood’s memories with Sam play while the soldiers sing. The first day he got him as a puppy, Sam playing with his children, hikes and walks and hunts and it’s all just too much for him…

(War) Scene cuts to the captain coming over to yell at the soldiers again. “What the hell is going on around here?! Why is everyone singing, it’s almost 10 o’clock for gods-sake.”

He then notices the sniffles and tears and pauses. One soldier quietly speaks up, his voice breaking. “Sorry sir, we were just telling Grandpa here the story of Dood and Juanita, it was the Sam part…”

The captain immediately changes his stature. “Well shit boys, why didn’t you say that? Have you told of his near hopeless days after, longing for Juanita without even Sam for comfort?” “No, sir” came the reply from the same broken voice.

The captain took a deep breath, then took off his hat and sat with the men. “I’ll tell that part”

“Juanita”

(1866) Scene cuts to Dood lying awake at night, unable to sleep even though he’s exhausted. He hopes she’s alive and this trip isn’t for nothing. Their memories flash through his mind, the best parts of their life played out in crystal clear detail, he can almost feel her touch…

He even chuckles wondering the question he never got an answer too: What caused her mother to name her Juanita? There were no senoritas in the mountains where she was born. It cuts back to his face and slowly zooms out, showing more and more empty space, no one else in sight. Just him, his horse and his quickly fading hopes…

(Present) “Grandpa, are you ever going to tell me a story of you in the war?” Grandpa snapped from his gloomy daydream of the agony of Ol’ Dood and was frustrated, ever so slightly, at his grandson’s disinterest in the story of Dood and Juanita. ” I’m telling you the best part!” “But I want to hear about the fighting, Grandpa.” “Okay, fine, you want to hear a war story? I’ll tell you a war story…”

(War) Scene cuts to the middle of a battle. Grandpa and his friends are absolute savages, killing untold numbers of  people in insanely cruel and disgusting ways. They seem to be enjoying themselves.

This is the classic Tarantino scene, just twisted violence shown in all it’s gorey detail…

(Present) Scene cuts back to Grandson’s face. He’s appalled and a little nauseous… skin pale and eyes wide open, he’s unable to vocalize a response. Grandpa leans back, smirks and says “Well, I guess that would be the second best part of the war…”

(War) Scene cuts back to the group of soldiers… yhere’s not a dry eye around the fire now. After hearing the tragedies of Dood, they’re all thinking about people they love and left behind to fight in this war. “Does it end well? What happens to him?”

The captain dries his eyes and says “It’s 10 o’clock, but I’ll grant an exception for tonight. Boys, finish this story for me, I’m hitting the hay.”

Without another word, he stands up and walks as diplomatically as he can muster into his tent, where a few muffled sobs are heard. Grandpa, at this point absolutely needing to hear the rest, asks “Can someone tell me what happens please?” The soldier who’s told most of the story to this point says “Yeah, I can…”

“Go In Peace”

(1866) Dood wakes up to a group of Cherokee Natives staring at him. He’s frozen, unsure at first if it was a dream, then, when he realizes it’s not, understands there is nothing he can do, so he stays put. The Cherokees notice his tomahawk and skins and, knowing that he is a Shawnee, take him to their Chief for questioning.

The natives are fierce, on edge. This situation can go downhill very quickly if Dood doesn’t play his cards right… The Chief is blind, but has powers from nature which allow him to see something even better: a person, and their intentions, for who they truly are.

Dood asks him if he’s seen Juanita and he says yes, a man named McClure traded her for horses so he could flee. Dood tells him the story of how she was taken from him and his struggles to come and find her. Nature stirs around The Chief. Something in him is believing this Shawnee stranger.

He says they must go see Juanita immediately. The very second she sees him she starts uncontrollably sobbing and leaps into his arms. The Chief knows for certain then that he was telling the truth and lets them both go free to live out their days in peace.

(War) Scene cuts to around the fire. Grandpa sat and thought it over for awhile, then slowly looked up and said “That Dood is one lucky dude. And those are some pretty honorable Cherokee, they did the right thing.

Is that the end of their story? They live happily ever after?” “Well, not quite…” the soldier said, “But it’s getting late and we have battle in the morning. Let’s finish it tomorrow.” They went to bed. Cuts to waking and then to marching.

Grandpa asks “Can you tell me some of the rest now?” They start singing along to the drummer…

“Epilogue”

After the battle, they once again sit around the fire. “No need to ask, Grandpa, we’re all dying to hear the ending again as well.” And the soldier began the final chapter of the story.

“Ol’ Dood (Part II)”

(1866) Scene cuts to Dood taking care of Juanita and nursing her back to complete health. He asks her “Why would he take you?” She answers “Well, his family has a history of liking each other, if you know what I mean, and I went to grade school with his sister, who looks like a horse and I kind of told her that in front of the class.

She got very mad and embarrassed and said she was going to get her boyfriend to beat me up. Well, when Seamus, her brother walked in the whole class laughed for an hour. They never quite recovered from it…”

When Junaita had healed up, Dood packs his things and heads out to find Seamus. It doesn’t take that long, because McClure heard Juanita had been freed from the Cherokee and wanted her back. Dood saw him from a while off, and even though it was about 300 yards away and the only light was the moon, Dood hit Seamus cleanly with one shot from his rifle.

He goes to inspect the body and notices that Seamus was playing possum, holding a knife and waiting to attack when Dood got close. He kept slowly walking toward him to not let Seamus know that he was ready. When they were about 20 feet apart, the bandit tried to quickly jump up and surprise Dood, but Dood was ready…

(Present) Scene cuts to grandpa finishing the story. “With the speed of a Shawnee and the confidence of a white man in the west, Dood grabbed his tomahawk and threw it straight through the skull of McClure. It hit him right between the eyes, splitting his face in two, blood and brains splattering all around.”

Grandson’s face was half grossed out and half smiling ear to ear. “Then what did he do, Grandpa?”

(1866) Scene cuts too Dood but Grandpa’s voice is narrating. “Dood walked over, pulled the tomahawk from Seamus’ face, cleaned it off and put it back on his waist. Without speaking a word, he straightened his saddle, dusted himself off and got on Shamrock. He gave a quick smirk at the body of Seamus, looked at the horizon, smiled and headed back to Juanita and his children, riding into the sunset as a cowboy does…”

Scene fades to black.

Or, you know… something like that, but with upwards of about five hundred f-bombs.

Tarantino… have your people call my people.

A beer bottle on a dock

STAY ENTERTAINED

A beer bottle on a dock