By Cory Everett | @modage January 9, 2013 at 12:04PM
In the film, we cut to The Master and Freddie in the desert digging up the manuscript without any context or explanation, but in the screenplay, the Phoenix trip is set up as a mission for Freddie. When Freddie returns to the house, he is confronted by the group to stop boozing. Once he agrees, Master decides to send him to Phoenix to help protect them from potential dark forces like “CIA, Russians, Catholic Church, [etc.].” The Master tells Freddie that once he arrives he should dig up a box containing “valuables, personal and confidential” which is buried underneath the house. (In the film, The Master and Freddie dig up these up together in the desert). In the screenplay, we follow a newly-sober Freddie on the flight to Phoenix as he begins to detox, sweating and shaking.
When he arrives, he finds that The Master’s “large ranch-style home” has been ransacked. There are “holes in the walls, sockets ripped out [and] floor boards ripped up” which means either The Master has coordinated this himself (which seems excessive even for a showboat of his caliber) or he’s not completely paranoid after all. Freddie digs up the mystery box (supposedly containing The Master’s latest manuscript) from under the house and takes it to the bank to deposit in a safety deposit box. At the bank, Freddie calls The Master to tell him about the break-in and The Master suggests that Val could be responsible or perhaps just some “crazed lone lunatic for all we know. Certain atomic agencies wouldn't mind a crack at it, I’m sure.”
After the break-in at the house, The Master tells Freddie to head to a local motel to keep his prized possession safe. After checking in, we see a brief sequence where Freddie imagines himself opening the box and flames burst forth from inside, engulfing his head and body before “blowing his head off.” We cut back to reality where he continues to detox, sweating and throwing up throughout the night. Flames erupting from the suitcase can be glimpsed in a deleted scene in the film, though Freddie appears to be in an office, not a hotel. In the morning, Freddie leaves his hotel room only to catch a mysterious figure lurking nearby.
In the one major action sequence in the screenplay, Freddie chases after this figure “in full-ready-for-anything-mode,” looking in rooftops, alleys, etc. before finally giving up and depositing the box at the bank. After this, we see Freddie speaking to a group of 20 or so followers about the Universe Process Congress of the Cause, handing out flyers and doing a radio promo (as seen in the film) before meeting The Master and co. who have arrived at the airport. By this point, Freddie is finished detoxing, he's now “clean cut and wearing a nice suit.” Back at the house, Freddie gives The Master the key to the safety deposit box, and The Master informs him that his son-in-law Clark has been sent away to Denver for a “secret mission.”
11. BILL & FREDDIE GET INTO A SCUFFLE (101-105)
In the film, Freddie gets into a fight with Bill White after he suggests that The Master's new book might've been better as a pamphlet after the convention in Phoenix. In the script, Bill White arrives at The Master’s home in Phoenix and finds Freddie on the front porch. Bill asks why he hadn’t been invited to the Phoenix congregation and begins to get agitated about the workings of the organization. “You know what this all is? Huh? It’s mental cruelty. That’s what it is," Bill fumes, explaining he feels scammed by the Cause for continually having to pay more money to get to the next step. (This moment is one of many that have been called out for explicitly recalling the S-word). "It’s just mental cruelty to invent all these new ideas and never follow through on it and just keep adding and subtracting and I gotta pay for this and that level and more and more... and Book II’s coming. All the answers... if you had that, it’s no good ‘cause here’s the new thing...and noh no...you don’t need that... that’s old... this is new.” As Bill goes to leave, Freddie attacks him and the two get into a fist fight much like in the film.
In the screenplay, The Master’s speech at the convention in Phoenix is nearly identical to the version in the finished film but the scene plays quite differently on the page. In the screenplay, as Freddie becomes disillusioned with The Master's speech, he approaches the stage and cuts off The Master’s head. Well, technically it’s a daydream but would’ve still been a pretty jaw-dropping moment in the context of the story. After The Master rattles on about the secret to the universe being “laughter,” Freddie imagines himself walking up to The Master, pulling out a large saber and cutting his head clean off as it rolls out into the audience. Along the way Anderson must’ve gotten shy about some of the more flamboyant moments in the script and stuck to a more grounded direction. Though we can't imagine the film would've been better with this sequence, we’d still be fascinated to know how close this came to being filmed.