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THE WORD ON THE STREET

While trying to keep her family together, a young Catholic widow must also deal with prejudice as black families start moving into their all-white parish in 1950s West Philadelphia.

Caitlin and Bill OConnell are the loving parents of two sons. Brian is a sensitive, introspective sixth- grader while his brother, Sean, is a rebellious, intolerant 16-year-older, who constantly tests his parents patience.

Tragedy strikes one day when Bill, a railroad conductor, is killed in a train accident, leaving Caitlin with the daunting task of raising her sons on a meager widows pension.

Meanwhile, St. Brendan's is facing the prospect of black families trying to move into the parish. In order to thwart their efforts, the pastor, Monsignor McGowan, with the approval of the parish council, decides to buy all houses for sale with parish funds.

But the plan backfires as too many houses go up for sale, thus using up all the parish's financial resources. In order to prevent panic selling, the Monsignor and the council then urge parishioners to sign a document promising not to sell their homes. Caitlin scoffs at the document when it is presented to her by her brother-in-law, Joe Gallagher, a member of the council, and her over-bearing sister, Maura.

Eventually, that plan fails, too, and black families begin moving into the neighborhood.By spring, nearly everyone is moving out of the neighborhood, including some of Brian's best friends. Even Maura and Joe decide to move, and now ironically urge Caitlin to do the same before property values plummet even further.

Then one fateful night, Caitlin learns that Sean has secretly married his girlfriend, Cindy. Caitlin throws them both out of the house just as Brian rushes in to tell his mother that St. Brendan's church is on fire.

As Caitlin and Brian leave on the city bus, Brian looks out the window at his neighborhood for the last time, passing the corner stores with their white and black shoppers, and finally passing St. Brendan's Church, which is a burnt-out derelict of a building.

Written by:
Format:
Screenplay
Genres:
Budget:
Modest
Starring Roles For:
Carla Gugino
Joel Courtney
Jacob Tremblay
In the Vein Of:
A Raisin in the Sun
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
To Kill a Mockingbird
Posted:
11/09/2006
Updated:
01/26/2020
Author Bio:
An award-winning playwright and screenwriter. Recipient of three writing fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. A number of plays produced and several published. Several screenplays have been optioned. Also a member of SAG-AFTRA.