Leaving Heaven | Skillshare Projects

Craig Maddux

MA Film Student at Raindance.org/Staffordshire Uni



Leaving Heaven

Selecting the Text

I chose to build a story around ALLEN HUENEKER, a minor character in the story of Rosa and Maria Lopez in John Steinbeck’s “The Pastures of Heaven.” Rosa and Maria struggle to make ends meet on the unproductive plot of land they inherit from their father. They start a restaurant of sorts in their home, but still cannot make ends meet. While Maria is away, Rosa “encourages” a customer who eats a large meal with sexual favors. The sisters both begin encouraging their customers in this way and business soon booms. They rationalize their actions by only charging for the food - never for the “encouragement” - and by promptly confessing their sins to the Mother Virgin.

Allen is only briefly described in the story:

“Far ahead Maria saw a man walking in the road. Before she caught up with him, she knew from the shambling, ape-like stride that it was Allen Hueneker, the ugliest, shyest man in the valley. Allen Hueneker not only walked like an ape, he looked like an ape. Little boys who wanted to insult their friends did so by pointing to Allen and saying, “There goes your brother.” It was deadly satire. Allen was so shy and so horrified at his appearance that he tried to grow whiskers to cover up his face, but the coarse, sparse stubble grew in the wrong places and only intensified his simian appearance. His wife had married him because she was thirty-seven, and because Allen was the only man of her acquaintance who could not protect himself. Later it developed that she was a woman whose system required jealousy properly to function. Finding nothing in Allen’s life to be jealous of, she manufactured things. To her neighbors she told stories of his prowess with women, of this untrustworthiness, of his obscure delinquencies. She told these stories until she believed them, but her neighbors laughed behind her back when she spoke of Allen’s sins, for everyone in the Pastures of Heaven knew how shy and terrified the ugly little man was.”

In the story Maria gives Allen a ride to the bus station in her buggy. They are seen by Bert Monroe, who implies that he may tease the jealous Mrs. Hueneker that he saw Allen and Maria “running off.” Mrs. Monroe tells him not to do it, but the next thing you know, the sheriff has paid a visit to the Lopez sisters. They must close their doors or face arrest. The Lopez sisters decide to move to San Francisco and face their fate as “bad women.”

“Leaving Heaven” will tell the story of Allen Hueneker, and what he does when he finds out that his wife is responsible for the complaint that sets the ouster of the only two people who treat him nicely in motion.


A new draft (v7) posted to Google here:


Thanks all!  I'll do my best to return reviews comments, etc in the short time we have left AND AFTER.  I'm still very interesting in hearing your feedback.  I'm hoping the "end" of this contest isn't the end of the collaboration and encouragement I have seen.  

Logline:  When Allen learns that his wife has caused the ouster of the Lopez Sisters from town he must decide if he's had enough of the Pastures of Heaven.


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