This screenplay is a drama with the following elements:

  • Inspired by a true story

  • High adventure

  • Character driven

  • Love story

  • Edgy

  • Revenge

  • Rural setting

  • A buddy film

  • Strong male/female leads


  • Locations: tax-favorable states, Alberta, Canada

  • PG-13 rating

  • Budget est. less than $3,000,000


                                ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Copyrighted May 4, 2014 by MICHAEL LANCE RITTER (USA)

No portion of this work can be performed, published, reproduced, sold or distributed by any means, or quoted or published in any medium, including any web site, without the prior written consent of Michael Lance Ritter. WGA Registry 1718322, U.S. Copyright #1-1410521141


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A United Artists VP wrote, "Your drama can be an epic film; proceed to development." A Novafilmhouse producer wrote, "It's an extremely compelling drama deserving production." A mini-series producer said, "Your story will shine on cable." 2020 Atlanta Screenplay Festival: "This is a strong, exciting script with an enthralling premise."

Baptiste moves inexorably to his day of reckoning in a life of peril, adventure, love and prejudice. 


The 1865 opening sequence has him nearly shot in a saloon. We return to 1805 to the Lewis & Clark Expedition fort where Sacagawea is birthing him.


At age two Clark gets permission to raise the boy as a son, but his wife constantly rejects him because he’s half Indian.


At age 18 he falls for elite Michelle, but her father ends their romance because he's part-Indian. She’s sent away and Clark arranges for him to go with Duke Wilhelm to Germany. While there he experiences palace life but also racism, violence and a tragic love affair. He returns to St. Louis an educated, broken man, and retreats to the wilderness.


A novice, he nearly dies in torrid heat but is saved by trapper Jim Beckwourth, who becomes his trail buddy. They carouse and trap beaver together. Rublette, his vicious main antagonist, first confronts him at a trappers' Rendezvous. Their confrontations haunt the story. He once said, "Squaw man, stay awake or it'll be me slittin' your throat."


Lonely, he longs for Michelle but their time has passed, so he leads extreme expeditions. The 1846 War with Mexico begins, and he leadsman army command to southern California. 


Unknown to him, Michelle and her son Jacob are there. The former lovers meet in an enchanting way. She finally says, "Oh come here you, I have no more questions," as their passion explodes.


They become a family and he's a post-war sheriff trying to stop Indian slavery by ranchers, causing more conflict. Being only partially successful in the effort, he resigns. He, Michelle and Jacob enter the great gold rush and settle down. His angst from prejudice is finally erased but the good times don’t last. Beloved Michelle dies in his arms from tuberculosis. 


After recovering from her death, his day of reckoning arrives. He's in a saloon with Beckwourth when Rublette enters with two men. A brutal fight ensues and Baptiste finally kills his enemy. 


He and Beckwourth head for the Montana gold rush. They're excited and chatting as they get ready to cross a river on their steeds. Baptiste looks back. His face looks tense. Still he says, "Beck, let's go for it!" They leap in.


                                        FADE OUT:



Jean Baptiste Charbonneau died on May 16, 1866 after trying to cross the Owyhee River. He's buried nearby at Inskip Station near Danner, Oregon. His gravesite is a national historic monument.

Jim Beckwourth died in October, 1866 at Denver, CO shortly after Jean Baptiste. Beckwourth Pass and Beckwourth, California are named after him.

Duke Paul Wilhelm died in November, 1860, and never saw Jean Baptiste again. He never became the king.

General William Clark, in a rare display of frontier caring, looked after the Charbonneau family until his death in St. Louis in September, 1838.


This biopic script has meaning for our times. It has subtle themes on war, greed and racism in the Old West. The drama is visceral, edgy, realistic, violent and humorous with a great love story. It's PG-13.


Wide audiences will love this powerful American saga!

Visit to read the screenplay. 


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