Brother’s Keeper by John Iannucci | Script Revolution

Brother’s Keeper

While searching for his outlaw brother, a legendary Texas Ranger must confront an evil land barren, racism and apathy while also finding the woman of his dreams.

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113pp

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“Brother’s Keeper” is in the classic western tradition, telling a story of good versus evil and the thin line that separates the two. What sets “Brother’s Keeper” apart is its relevance to contemporary issues – family dysfunction, abuse, racism, isolation, greed, corruption, and the perennial search for love and acceptance.

Our hero is Jeremiah “Whit” Whitlock, a legendary Texas Ranger whose exploits are celebrated in dime novels. Fellow rangers consider fighting with him “a great day to die.” Hidden behind this charismatic persona, though, is an all-consuming obsession that prevents any real human connection: to capture and bring to justice the equally famous outlaw Jake Fuller – who’s also Whit’s older brother.

The story opens with Whit having captured Jake in a Texas backwater after a wild gunfight that demonstrates Whit’s legendary skills. But, through a series of twists that illustrate Jake’s cunning, Whit ends up badly wounded and Jake escapes once more. With both body and reputation severely damaged, Whit turns in his badge. Determined even more now to catch his brother, Whit subjects his maimed body to a brutal trek from the Texas prairies to the Dakota Badlands – where Jake is now rumored to be.

On the journey, Whit has two life-altering encounters. In the first, Whit stops the lynching of one Jacoby Brown, an Afro-American. Quickly discovering a mutual penchant for sarcastic banter – similar to how Whit and Jake converse – they decide to ride together. In the second encounter, Whit and Jacoby come upon the stranded Sue Draper, a widow with two young sons, who’s being accosted by Nap Neilsen, the spoiled, violent, younger son of Swede Neilsen. After making short shrift of Nap and his cohorts, Whit and Jacoby accompany Sue to her brother’s farm.

Arriving at the farm, the group finds the brother gone and charred remnants overseen by Max Neilsen, the older – but equally violent – son of Swede Neilsen. With the facts of the farm’s destruction unclear, they decide to seek answers in Bixby, Montana – the next to last stop before the Dakota Badlands.

It’s quickly evident that Bixby is controlled by Swede Neilsen, the local land baron who’s gobbling up acreage by any means necessary to profit from the coming railroad expansion. Ruthless, he murders a man because of an insult. A bully, he debases everyone who crosses his path. Supremely confident, he attempts to assuage Sue by offering a seemingly worthless piece of land in place of the farm.

Secrets are soon exposed. Swede physically and verbally abuses his sons to encourage violent and misogynistic behaviors that, in the end, always benefit Swede. The town madam is the mother of Max Neilsen. The barely-of-age sheriff furtively worships Whit. Roscoe, the town drunk, was once deputy to Whit and Jake’s father. Teenaged Jake took the rap for the younger Whit’s killing their alcoholic father – spending years in prison and becoming an outlaw upon release.

Submitted: January 16, 2019
Last Updated: August 10, 2020

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The Writer: John Iannucci

After 45 years of successful coaching at the college and high school levels, I took a bold step, deciding to exchange my whistle and clip for pen and paper and return to my childhood love of writing. My very first completed script, "7 days in La Suerte," finished in the top 20% in the prestigious Nichols and was a finalist in the Austin Table Reads. Since then I have written four more unique, dynamic, high concept scripts that feature complex arcs, unique characters and situations and deep human themes and am right now looking for possible production. Finished, polished scripts: THE LAST GOOD MAN (Most recently finished 8/20) GENRE : Crime drama LOGLINE: A man, who wakes up in a basement... Go to bio

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