The Azalea Saloon


Revisionist Western thriller - spec script.

A fearless young cowgirl kills a group of outlaws after they gun-down her parents, who refuse to give up the family's saloon. She spares and falls for one of the bandits, but a bloodthirsty survivor and his cunning wife manipulate the girl’s alcoholic brother to seek revenge.


Hazel Johnson is a tough fifteen-year-old white-Indian sharp-shooting cowgirl. After her parents are murdered by a notorious group of misfit bandits after their saloon, she takes it on herself to protect her home and brothers by shooting the entire gang to death. The youngest member of the mob, Geoffrey, is spared by Hazel after he takes pity on the siblings and decides against revealing their hideout. Another outlaw, James, survives and manages to escape. Despite Hazel’s drunken, reckless older brother Bobbie insisting Geoffrey be killed, Hazel takes him under her wing at The Azalea.

Five years later, Hazel and Geoffrey marry and lead the running of a refreshed Azalea. Meanwhile, James and his overbearing wife, Cheryl, having been on the run, plot to murder the Johnsons to avenge the killings and Geoffrey’s betrayal of the gang. Bobbie descends into complete alcoholism and is taken advantage of by James and Cheryl, who prey on his fragility and jealousy of Hazel and Geoffrey.

Throughout the story, Hazel courageously leads by example as the head of the family. She fights for The Azalea’s uncompromising acceptance of all races and commitment to non-violence. Ultimately, Bobbie redeems himself at the death, and the family survive, but The Azalea goes up in flames.


The Azalea Saloon is a revisionist comment on the Western genre, which seeks to distance from glorifying the white supremacist, male dominated, confederate, anti-Indian sentiments of many classic films in the genre. The azalea is the state flower of Georgia, where the story is based; it’s symbolic because it shows unionism, with the pink colour reflecting the mixed Indian-white main characters. While this is in many ways a classically American story, many alternative European locations could be used as the setting for the film.

Having the story told from the point of view of a strong, white-Indian young woman adds gravitas to this forward-thinking Western. The Azalea Saloon does not flippantly attempt to rewrite the annals of the Wild West, nor trivialise the racist, violent atrocities of the era, but aims to expose and examine the reality of the landscape. This is a modern rethinking of the Western genre akin to 'Unforgiven' and 'Dances with Wolves', which tells a story of family pride, honour, betrayal, redemption and humanitarian progression.