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In a remote woodland cabin, a small town doctor discovers Nell - a beautiful young hermit woman with many secrets.
Nell: Chicka, chicka, chickabee. / T'ee an me an t'ee an me. / Ressa, ressa, ressa me, / Chicka, chicka, chickabee.
Jerry: [translating for Nell to the court] You have big things. You know big things. But you don't look into each other's eyes. And you're hungry for quietness.
[Jerry plays music making Nell cry] Paula: Turn that thing off! What the hell do you think you're doin'? She's never heard music before. Jerry: Hey! Sometimes people just do things! It's called impulse. Try it some time. Paula: It's called doin' what you want when you want to, and not giving a shit about anybody else! I grew out of it by the age of six!
Jerry: She lives here all alone, huh? Sheriff Todd Peterson: That's what hermits do, Lowell. They live alone and they die alone.
Paula: It's called doing whatever the hell you want whenever the hell you want to, and I grew out of it 'round about the age of six!
Dr. Paley: Even caring has an ulterior motive.
[Jerry found the Bible with the note from Nell's mom for the stranger to look for her Nell] Jerry: What kind of deal is this? The first who finds her is supposed to look after her? Sheriff Todd Peterson: [matter of factly] That means you, Jerry. Sheriff Todd Peterson: Oh sure. Just what I need. Sheriff Todd Peterson: [bemused reading from the note] 'The Lord led you here.' There you have it. Jerry: *You* led me here. Sheriff Todd Peterson: You want the Lord to take care of her now? Jerry: The last time I saw the Lord was in church of my wedding and look how *that* turned out.
Jerry: Let's take this one step at a time. Stay here. I'm gonna go back inside. Sheriff Todd Peterson: Jerry, I can't let you go back in there. We don't even know what that thing is. Jerry: It's a human being and she's frightened. Sheriff Todd Peterson: Well, what are you gonna do? Jerry: Talk to her... if I can.
Nell: Trouble go away at nigh', an' Nell caw Mi'i - an' Nell an' Mi'i - ye', Nell an' Mi'i - like t'ee in the way! [Sways with her arms outstretched]
Jerry: Is this for real? No electricity, no phone, no running water. Jerry: [sees a spindle, impressed] Wow. [walks up to it and carefully, slowly turns the wheel a bit]
Sheriff Todd Peterson: Well, she's definitely overage. So I guess we need to find her an adult protective service. Jerry: She doesn't need a social worker. She needs a padded cell. That is one seriously disturbed lady. Sheriff Todd Peterson: Well, I'm afraid that's gonna be your territory, Jerry. Jerry: Thanks. Sheriff Todd Peterson: [reciting the letter] The Lord led you here, stranger.
Paula: To think I was going to be the one to change her life. Jerry: Me too. Mary: Don't you know? You were the first. Paula: The first what? Mary: To need her.
Paula: All the research shows that children who perceive their parents enjoying a good sex-life grow up to have far better sexual relationships themselves. Jerry: Is that so? Paula: Yea, that's so.
[discussing what is going to happen to Nell, supposing she needs someone to look after her] Dr. Paley: Who's gonna look after her? You? Jerry: [disgusted] Me? Why me?
Sheriff Todd Peterson: I guess she's what you'd call a hermit. She talked kinda funny, too. She was kinda like: 'Durr murr muh...'. Jerry: Only one side of her face was working. You try talking out of one side of your face.
Jerry: Nothing and everything, it just hits her sometimes.
Paula: [seeing the Sheriff's wife crying] What happened to her? Jerry: Nothing and everything. It hits her once in a while. Paula: Is there any obvious cause? Jerry: You want a list? Life's tough. But she's luckier than some. Got a good husband there.
[Jerry ringing the bell of Paula's boat] Paula: Hey. Jerry: You sure can make it, roughin' it like this? I don't see an air conditioning unit. You ok about breathing raw air? [Paula knocks on a box on the ceilling] Jerry: Oh.
Paula: [into her mic] She's been completely isolated. Almost certainly mentally retarded. A blood test will pick up childhood disease and any metabolic disorder. Paula: [to Jerry] Oh, you carry a blood kit? Jerry: You think she's gonna sit there and let me stick a needle in her? Paula: [laughing, then matter of factly] I'll hold her. [Paula takes off her jacket]
Jerry: I like it here. It's a quiet place. You've got the right idea, Nell. You live with people, you get problems. First they screw you up, then they leave you, right?
Dr. Paley: Let me give you a little peek into the future, Paula. One day soon some hiker or fisherman is gonna walk out of those woods with a story about a wild woman. And that'll bring the news reporters and the reports will bring the crowds, who will bring the talk-show hosts. Nell will find she's hired a lawyer, an agent, a manager, and three bodyguards. You think she can handle that?
Jerry: I've got someone to cover for me. Everybody's replaceable.
Paula: We shouldn't be watching this. Jerry: Why not? I think she's beautiful. Paula: Mmm-hmmm... Jerry: You think I'm planning to abuse the doctor-patient relationship. Paula: Are you? Jerry: No. Just because I think she's beautiful doesn't mean I want to have sex with her. I mean, I think you're beautiful, but... Paula: Thanks! Jerry: No, wait. I didn't mean... I'm sorry... Paula: It's ok, I'm a big girl!
Paula: What is it with you and Nell? Jerry: It's like... there's no one else in the world. Like she doesn't need anybody. Can you live your whole life that way, or does it drive you crazy in the end?
Janet Baring: Do you reckon he ought to be in the hospital? Jerry: No, Ma'am. My advice is: don't go near those places, unless they pay you a heap of money. Your father is 87 years old, Janet. Just be there for him. Janet Baring: Don't worry. I a-gonna go nowhere.