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My adaption of Bass Reeves’s life in “Marshal Bass Law” centers around the beginning of his US Marshal career. Note, I stated his US Marshal career, because long before Bass Reeves was a US Marshal, he was an escaped slave, a scout for soldiers and other Marshals, all this was before he was a farming family man, father of 10 head of children, only after all this did he become a US Marshal. “Marshal Bass Law” has placed as an official selection in the 2020 True Story Screenplay Competition, which basically means it was one of the top 25 screenplays of the over 1400 screenplays submitted and Finalist of Top 100 (Feature or TV Pilot), Table Read My Screenplay Genre Screenplay Competition 2021 2022 Official Selection True Story Showcase.
Logline: Late 19th Century, Bass Reeves is a black middle-aged farmer with a large family. Due to the vicious and allusive outlaws that terrorize Indian Territory, Judge Parker (The Hanging Judge) enlists the services of Bass Reeves. Bass Reeves embarks on an unlikely new career as a lawman out shooting and outwitting outlaws. Bass becomes conflicted with leaving his family to hunt outlaws.
Synopsis: Late 19th Century, Indian Territory, the large territory divided by five Indian Tribes that would later become Oklahoma, is overrun by vicious outlaws. They are seamlessly worry-free of capture knowing that Indian police, the Lighthorse have no authority over them and the white lawmen aren’t able to pursue them in such a vast dangerous country. Judge Isaac Parker, who would later earn the reputation as the hanging judge, takes over jurisdiction of the territory and bows to bring back law and order.
One of Judge Parker’s first acts is to appoint James Fagan as US Marshal of the hostile territory. James Fagan insists the recruitment of a former scout Bass Reeves, was crucial to bringing dangerous outlaws to justice. Reluctantly, Judge Parker authorized the hiring of Bass Reeves, a middle-aged black man to hunt down white outlaws. Bass Reeves now a farmer has a history of scouting for white lawmen, but now he had the authority to make an arrest himself.
Defying the protest of his wife, Bass embarks on what he plans to be a one- time mission to rescue a senator’s niece and to bring in some train robbers. He is to be accompanied by a green Marshal Deputy Floyd Wilson and a cook with a wagon. Mostly single-handedly Bass is able to apprehend or kill all the outlaws he is pursuing. Armed with his wits and pistols, he is able to escape a sticky situation as well as, turning an ambush to his advantage...
Bringing all the criminals back to Fort Smith for trial after their capture proves to be as dangerous as capturing them for Bass. He finds himself somehow hexed by the old Indian Medicine Man Yah-Kee, that he has arrested for bootlegging. Bass becomes weak and almost dies on the trail back to Fort Smith, but manages to free himself from the old man’s spell.
While Bass is out on the trail hunting outlaws, his close friend William Steward is cold-bloodedly murdered by a local rancher foreman, Jim Webb. Bass returns home to his farm and family bowing he is now finished being a lawman having successfully completed his mission. Jenny, Bass’s wife, conceals from him the knowledge of his friend’s death until she has enlisted from him to never leave his family again on such a dangerous mission as a lawman. Bass is outraged once he learns of this deception but stands by his promise. Realizing that she was being selfish Jenny releases Bass from the promise.
Bass returns to be a US Marshal but James Fagan informs him that he had to be all back in and not just going after Webb on some personal mission. Bass accepts and is teamed this time with newly appointed Marshal Grant Johnson. Grant Johnson is half African American and Creek Indian, with strong Indian features. His tracking skills are only outmatched by those of Bass.
Bass and Grant race across Indian Territory to intercept Webb and his small gang before they can escape to the border. Along the way, they run across Belle Star, a known outlaw with a history of harboring other outlaws but also an unlikely old friend of Bass Reeves.
Finally in the end, Bass has a shoot-out with Webb that leaves Webb dying. Webb with his dying breath declares Bass’s bravery and he intended to make Bass his11th victim.