Meet Joe Black () - IMDb
Read, review and discuss the entire Meet Joe Black movie script by Bo Goldman on catchsomeair.us manor house; the country estate of William Parrish. INT. Meet Joe Black is a American romantic fantasy film directed and produced by Martin Brest, and starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, and Claire Forlani. The screenplay by Bo Goldman, Kevin Wade, Ron Osborn and Jeff Reno is Susan meets a vibrant young man at a coffee shop. He takes an interest in her and tells . Meet Joe Black - Coffee-shop Scene Claire Forlani, Movie Lines, Movies Showing Meet Joe Black, best love scene ever<3 Famous Movies, Good Movies.
DREW What side of the industry did you say you were on?
Meet Joe Black (1998)
JOE I didn't say. I have the feeling you guys got the broad strokes already. Need any help with the details? Parrish falls silent again, looking for an answer. DREW cont'd I'm sorry -- business at dinner The doors to the dining room open, Susan appears. I'm here, aren't I? Wouldn't miss a loose end meeting. What's on the table for discussion? Party favors, flowers -- hi Dad, hi Drew -- She kisses Drew in some light, humorous way they have ob- viously done before, their heads bobbing like plastic water toys and their lips meeting mid-air.
At the kiss's conclusion Susan suddenly notices Joe is present and has been watching. She is shocked, embarrassed, pleased, conflicted, an instant and wide spectrum of emotions. The Corinth Coffee Shop. He was looking for a doctor.
DREW Joe, you do get around. Joe is happily confounded by all the interaction. So sturdy, so straight -- Joe has heard Susan's question but, as he studies her, doesn't answer. Parrish pushes his plate away. Parrish tenses, but Joe doesn't answer. You weren't so silent this morning. Drew reacts to this allusion of intimacy. Parrish stands, motions for Joe to rise. JOE It's so very nice to see you again.
Maybe it's because you found out I'm Bill Parrish's daughter. Big day tomorrow, everybody. Joe rises, follows Parrish to the door, stops: JOE to Susan Susan.
He makes an awkward little bow, then heads for the nearest door. Joe pivots, and he follows Parrish out the proper door. Susan's eyes are still on the door where Joe exited, her face reflecting her irritation and bewilderment, as well as a tinge of excitement. I'm sorry, I'm a little discon- certed, that stuff between you and Susan -- uh -- threw me. I mean that you knew her and everything -- JOE I didn't know her.
The body I took knew her. The man she met in the coffee shop this morning. I - uh - took him. I was just having such a wonderful time -- Besides, isn't this what I'm here for? Parrish suddenly looks very anxious, Joe stops. JOE cont'd You seem uncomfortable, Bill. So -- He opens a door. Chair, lamp, bed -- Parrish is in a stunned state, chatters on unconsciously: Had to stay in a station manager's house there unexpectedly - best night's sleep I ever had.
Ordered twenty, they filled a con- tainer and shipped them right over, I've put one in every bedroom here and in the country.
Meet Joe Black () movie script - Screenplays for You
Joe tests the springs. JOE What a good idea. Would you like the man's name? Parrish glances around, a room in which the occupant could not want for anything. JOE You're putting me on the spot, Bill. JOE cont'd Let's put it this way. When I go, you go. JOE That's the best I can do. I just saw my doctor, he told me everything was fine. Did he mention an irreparab- ly weak vein in the further reaches of your famous brain? Were there any prognostications about the possibil- ilites of a fatal collision on a golf cart or suffocating in an avalanche on a ski vacation in Gstaad?
Parrish keeps still, trying to cool the heat of Joe's temper. But meanwhile, you are still here. Call it gravy, frosting on the cake, whatever it is you say. JOE Not at all. JOE Good night to you, Bill. Parrish gently closes the door. Joe looks around, checks out his surroundings: Miss Allison asked if you would like to have your dinner kept warm? Black's luggage was misplaced by the airlines. Would you mind get- ting a few things together for him? A couple of suits, some shirts, ties, underwear, shoes.
Have Coyle take his measurements off what he is wearing tonight. Luisa nods, and heads back downstairs. Parrish enters his den, takes a seat in his chair, stares into the middle distance, ruminates. In the process he opens this door, steps out into the hallway.
Coyle, the butler, has his back to Joe and does not see him for a moment. In front of Coyle, an open jar of peanut but- ter which he is spreading in generous hunks of Wonder Bread.
Joe is fascinated by the process. Coyle suddenly hears the silence, looks up and see Joe, standing up embarrassedly. Nice to meet you. The staff all mumble expansive "Good evening, sir"s to Joe. He motions to them to sit, they do but Coyle does not. Coyle shifts from foot-to-foot, the staff is not used to having Parrish family or guests in this part of the house.
JOE to Coyle What are you eating. Coyle regards his peanut butter sheepishly. But miles ahead of Peter Pan. Joe nods, Coyle fashions a spoonful, offers it to Joe. But he has not yet found a comfortable way of masticating, his mouth and tongue go every which way, the staff observes him, fascinated. JOE Yes, I am. I thoroughly enjoyed this - uh - peanut butter. Joe raises the spoonful of peanut butter in a kind of toast to the staff. JOE cont'd I'll be moseying on. He heads out, with the spoonful of peanut butter, to cheer- ful "Goodnight, Mr.
Black"'s, his tongue again licking the edges of the spoon. Susan is swimming laps, looking very professional in a black Speedo suit, Joe wanders in, still licking his peanut butter. He observes her, but she is unaware of him, however now, as she makes a barrel turn, his shadow falls over a reflection from a window, she aborts her lap, looks up to see who it is.
Susan climbs out of the pool, gets halfway up the ladder, points to a stack of towels. Joe turns to the towels, but one hand is occupied with the spoonful of peanut butter, he shifts it to the other hand, can't manage the huge Turkish towel one-handed, now implants the spoon in his mouth, lifts the towel with both hands and presents it to Susan. SUSAN You appear at his side out-of-the- blue, stay at his house, eat dinner with his family, it's practically a first.
You're in the red-hot center of big business and I thought you were a regular Joe. JOE I am Joe. SUSAN Not the one I met this morning, hit- ting on me in as nice a way as I've been hit on in a long time, but the moment you find out I'm my Dad's daughter, you act like a stranger.
JOE That is not my intention. Joe continues to nibble at his peanut butter. To make little dreams in coffee shops, turn a woman's head, and I don't mind admitting it was turned, I liked it, but ten hours later I feel like a fool. I don't get it. You, my father, here in this house, the cof- fee shop, it's making me upset, and I don't like being upset.
Who are you anyway? And what are you eating? JOE mumbles Peanut butter. He finishes the spoonful. JOE cont'd But it's gone now. He shifts the spoon from hand to hand, starts to stick it in his pocket, realizes this is inappropriate.
Susan holds her hand out to him, he places the spoon in it and she sets the spoon on the table with the towels. She watches, fascinat- ed, as Joe licks his gums, enjoying every last bit of his spoonful. JOE Do you love Drew? JOE When you put your mouth to his, Susan, it seems a frequent thing. Nor is where I put my mouth. Do you live here?
Then I'm going home. JOE I don't have any. She finishes drying herself, drops the towel on a chair, and prepares to leave. I didn't mean to offend you at dinner. I'm not quite at home some- times with people. I get busy doing - uh - what I do, and I don't seem to have developed -- He drifts off. JOE I have a certain function to per- form, and that seems to take all of my time.
Bu sometimes - uh - I speculate - uh - I haven't left room for - uh - anything else. JOE Did you know you have a wet spot on your shoulder? She glances at her shoulder, he grabs a towel, touches the drops of water, pats them dry, hands her the towel. She flashes a nervous smile. JOE Goodnight to you, Susan. Susan steps towards a door, Joe takes a step in the wrong direction, they almost walk into each other.
Now she takes a step in another direction, as does Joe, again they almost collide. Joe is completely puzzled, finally Susan heads for one door, Joe for another. Susan indicates yet another door. JOE after a moment Thank you. Joe redirects himself, goes to the door.
As they both are about to exit, Joe and Susan sneak furtive looks at each other across the pool, smile at catching each other's glances. For a moment Susan's eyes remain on the door through which he has gone. Now she grips the towel over her shoulders, the one Joe gave her, pats the same spot he did.
He nods and greets them as he strides down the hall, brisk "Good morning"'s to Coyle and Luisa. JOE Good morning, Bill. How do you feel? This is the left- field thing of all time.
What do I do? What do I tell my family? You'll ruin the good start we had last night. I felt as if I were being treated like a person. Parrish regards Joe, the tie is a sorry mess now, a batwing of silk stretching across his collarbone.
JOE cont'd But I did so enjoy your family. Parrish is startled, he regards Joe carefully. This 'adven- ture' involved only me, right? Silence as Joe considers the point, Parrish quickly crosses to him, undoes the tie, and now begins tying it for him. JOE Sounds fair enough.
It's a truth exchanged between two people. JOE You've got a deal. He has now, with some difficulty, completed the tying of Joe's tie, adjusts it beautifully on Joe's collar, then spins him around in front of a mirror. Joe, catching sight of his own appearance, rises to the balls of his feet, quite taken. JOE cont'd This is great! Joe immediately extends his hand toward Parrish, but Parrish freezes on seeing the hand, stares at it, now takes it.
Joe pumps Parrish's hand vigorously, then breaks into a broad smile. Parrish senses Joe's pleasure, his slight preening, his eyes check- ing out the good-looking women headed for the offices at the top of corporate high-rises. A flicker from Joe. He has heard what Parrish has said, his eyes busy with the grift and the sparkle of the Avenue, but he is concentrating on Parrish's words. JOE When you were shaving this morning, you weren't just shaving, right?
JOE You were hatching ideas, making plans, arriving at decisions, right? JOE So you understand the concept then. When you're busy here, your work, what your task is, is being executed elsewhere. JOE So you've grasped the idea. Now multiply it by infinity and take it to the depth of forever, and you still will have barely a glimpse of what I am talking about.
Parrish falls silent, chewing over Joe's admonition. JOE Make an exception? They stride on, cutting through the crowd, Joe all at home in his new surrounding, but Parrish just the opposite, un- characteristically uncomfortable, phrases forming on his lips but unspoken, then suddenly he blurts out: I'm still young, this is not my time -- JOE That's what everybody says.
JOE That's what everybody says. Parrish is trying to control himself, glances at Joe. JOE cont'd But you can't. A sudden silence between them. Parrish's shoulders appear to have stopped slightly, the courage he displayed at rais- ing these issues has vanished. JOE What do you mean? Not an ounce of excitement, not a whisper of a thrill, this relationship has all the passion of a pair of titmice. I want you to get swept away. I want you to levitate.
I want you to sing with rapture and dance like a dervish. Or at least leave yourself open to be. I'm going to do my upmost -- He smiles.
If you don't start with that, what are you going to end up with? I say fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who'll love you the same way back. And how do you find him? Forget your head and listen to your heart. I'm not hearing any heart. Because, the truth is there is no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love -- well, you haven't lived a life at all.
You have to try. Because if you haven't tried, you haven't lived. But give it to me again. And when I tell Drew about it, he won't either. But I'm the only father you've got. She kisses him on the cheek. The passengers, Parrish paired with Quince, Drew with Susan, file off the rooftop through a door which opens into an elevator.
So what do you think, is it -- indicates Drew and Parrish -- just the 'Executive Committee' or could you guys use me? Gum up the works. Parrish is about to make some reassuring comment to Quince when the Voice suddenly intrudes: I know, it's none of my business.
A respectful silence, the elevator continues downwards, suddenly the Voice intrudes again: Parrish's eyes dart about, confirming no one has heard a thing but him. You know me -- The elevator door opens. Got my gloves on, my ears pricked. I'm ready for action. Parrish, followed by Drew, steps into a waiting limousine, Quince looks longingly after them.
Susan, blowing a kiss goodbye to her father, steps out into the street to hustle a cab. Tomorrow we sign off -- photo opportunity, you and Big John, it'll lead network news. DREW Bill, after this deal, you'll be able to afford one. Parrish smiles, they step into the elevator. I came up with something, but then it occurred to me, why don't I ask Bill? What do you think? A moment, Parrish shrugs. PARRISH Our first annual report, must be thirty-five years ago now, I owned two stations, I wrote down a state- ment of purpose, that one day you would wake up to a Parrish radio station, read a Parrish paper at breakfast, catch our news on tele- vision during the day, and go to bed with one of our books or magazines and you would always be told the truth and in the bargain, have a good time.
Wait 'til I show it to Bontecou.
Glad to hear it. Parrish, I could never buy Parrish Communications. I could pay for it, of course, but it would always have your imprint. Parrish looks around at the circle of 'suits', Bontecou holding away. Susan has squeezed into a seat in the corner. A counterman, with a smile and a greeting, places a cup of coffee in front of her. A sense this is a daily ritual, arming herself for the day; immediately she becomes aware of a man behind her speaking into the pay phone. Honey, you've got to go on The Young Man hangs up, turns around and sits down to an overflowing plate of eggs and meat, potatoes and toast, the counterman refills his cup and the Young Man ties into the breakfast, eating it with such relish that Susan can't take her eyes off him.
He senses her eyes, glances over, his cheeks filled with a mouthful of food, swallows embarrassedly. What was 'fascinating' about it? She just broke up with her boyfriend and she's thinking about dropping out of law school. That's the way with men and women, isn't it?
He was fooling around and Honey caught him at it. One girlfriend wasn't enough for him. Looking for her right now.
You might be her. I just arrived in town, got a new job -- I'm trying to get into this apartment. This apartment house is all green pajamas and slippers. The guy I'm waiting for to vacate is a doctor.
What kind of doctor? The Young Man smiles. I arrive in this big bad city and I not only find a doctor, a beautiful woman as well. Susan looks into her coffee. Please, what do you say, another cup of coffee? Two pots are warming behind the counter, he reaches over and refills her cup and his. Pushes a container and pitcher to- wards her. They smile at each other, fix up their coffee.
DREW You have a way with words. They stride to the main bank of elevators. Neither looking right or left, somehow Parrish man- ages to acknowledge their bright smiles and deferential nods despite his swift entrance. Drew is still at Parrish's heels, but now Parrish stops at the open door, turns back to him, reminding Drew that this is as far as he goes without being invited. Board convenes tomorrow, you'll recommend, we close and it's a deal, right?
Parrish disappears into his office. Drew, on his way out, glides past Jennifer's desk. DREW cont'd This is our lucky day. Jennifer acknowledges Drew with a smile, rises and moves to Parrish's doorway, waiting for the day's instructions, but Parrish only nods to the door and Jennifer quickly closes it, returns to her desk.
Leaning against the back of the couch, he stares out through floor-to-ceiling windows, surveying the Manhattan skyline: He takes a seat on the couch, opens a folder, suddenly he flinches with a spasm of pain in his shoulder. It is sharp but brief, he notices it but what it does not continue, he ignores it. Parrish resumes looking at the folder when suddenly the pain comes again. He reaches for his shoulder, tries to massage the pain, it does not subside. Parrish stands, trying to shake it off, but it refuses to go away, some- thing is unmistakably wrong.
Frozen with surprise, Parrish's eyes search the room for the source of the SOUND, it comes from no particular direction, yet surrounds him. Suddenly Parrish's symptoms sharply intensify, he is sinking to the floor but somehow grabs a corner of the desk, holds on with one hand, with the other clutches at his shoulder and arm, the pain has violently seized the upper part of his body.
He breaks out in a sweat, his pallor now waxen as the Voice repeats itself: Parrish grips the edge of the desk, the pain assaulting him on the one hand, the Voice coming at him from the outer, each aberration feeds on the other, he is beside himself, consumed with pain and bewildered by what seems to be a hallucination but which he is certain is not.
He angles his face in every direction, arbi- trarily chooses one and now embarrassedly, unconsciously, enrage, responds to the Voice. Parrish is absolutely confounded, seized up with pain and consternation at this unseen Voice which has such presence and reality. Because 'if you haven't tried, you haven't lived'. Who is this fucking guy? He holds on tight to the corner of the desk, sweat dripping, his skin ashen. Now he addresses the Voice again, searching for it in another direction: You're trying to 'handle' the situation but this is the one situation you knew you never could handle.
A spasm, the worst one yet, finally it subsides and there is an eerie silence in the room, a VOID, almost more disturbing than the voice that has filled it. Parrish searches the corner, but the room has lost the quality it had when it was inhabited by the VOICE, it is now just Parrish's office. Parrish straightens himself up, adjusts his tie, runs his fingers through his hair, blinks as he addresses the door.
Are you all right? Parrish is within himself, doesn't answer. Parrish still doesn't answer, however Jennifer is satisfied, correctly hearing his silence as an affirmative. She has her hand on the door, 'Open' or 'Closed'? He nods and she closes it. Parrish's eyes search the room, nothing there. It's kind of a pro bono job.
That means doing good -- Going to be doing good all your life? Doesn't pay very well. Depends on the woman I marry. Maybe she'd like a bigger house, a better car, lotsa kids, college doesn't come cheap -- SUSAN You'd give up what you want for the woman you marry?Meet Joe Black (1998) - Lightning Could Strike Scene (1/10) - Movieclips
Susan rises now, the Young Man with her, leaving money for their checks they head for the door. She takes care of you. Susan at the door now, pauses abruptly, her eyes on the Young Man. Susan is staring at him now, he smiles, all open and vulnerable. I don't want you to be my doctor. Because I don't want you to examine me. If I came by, could you give me the name of a doctor?
And I don't want to examine you. Now I've got to go. She hurries away down the sidewalk, the Young Man watching her. Now he turns and starts off in the opposite direction. She turns the corner and continues on. The hour is before dinner: Music, I know how you love music, Daddy, and I want to have music that pleases you -- and of course doesn't put a thousand other people to sleep -- I've agonized over this and finally settled on Sidney Brown, twenty-four men, very eclectic, plus I'm feathering in a Latin sextet on their breaks - Tito Puente, Trini Lopez-zy, I forget their names -- Parrish has tuned Allison out, he tried to stay with it, but his mind has wandered, the event of the day too much with him.
I keep talking and all you do is nod like Mr. Himmelfass in The Nutcracker. Parrish still doesn't answer. I can' tell you how much I appreciate it and how I'm looking forward to it. What songs should Sidney -- Pancho and his six men we can forget about -- what songs do you think he should play? A stab of pain, Parrish discreetly grabs his upper arm but manages to keep his attention on Allison. Suddenly, the Voice cuts in: Parrish reacts once more, aware again he is the only one who has heard the Voice, as an oblivious Allison continues: Leave it to me.
Parrish ignores her, his attention has been taken by the Voice. His eyelids flutter, nonplused, edgy and fearful. Parrish, dinner is served. Blindly and disconcerted, he follows Allison and Drew and Quince. What are you looking so provoked about?
But what do I get back? Parrish is on the edge of his seat, struggling to hide his panic. The conversation swirls on around Parrish, he is deaf to it: I sat between them at the Bronx Zoo benefit -- it was better than Seconal.
Won't someone come to the door? Parrish is in shock, still striving to gain control of himself. As Coyle serves him, Parrish turns to Luisa: DREW Good, maybe they'll drown him out. Parrish is still not hearing a word, preoccupied with the return of Luisa. A twenty-game winner or a Masters champion? Someone I could talk to.
Luisa returns to Parrish as the others' conversation drones on: There was a gentleman at the door. He's waiting for you in the foyer. Parrish, spinning with anxiety, tries to summon up his courage to go as Allison continues: Finally Parrish rises from the table, starts out. Do they seem that way to you, Daddy?
Meet Joe Black Script - transcript from the screenplay and/or Brad Pitt movie
No - uh - I don't Allison is about to press the point, but then drifts into disappointed silence as Parrish leaves the room. The door is open. He hesitates before he crosses the threshold, taking in as much as his eye can see, now tentatively, he enters. Parrish, poised in the doorway, looks around, nothing in sight. Parrish is startled, he shrinks backward for a moment, his eyes searching the room for the Voice, the timbre and pitch of which is exactly what he has heard before.
There is the sense that someone is there but Parrish cannot see him, and he does not dare look. Now a flicker of a shadow from behind a corner of the obscured glass, the section of the room most distant from Parrish, there is a shape.
Some kind of elaborate practical joke? He takes a step backwards. Although still diffused by the glass, the shape has definition, a person, a man, his features are not yet distinguishable, but he is there all right.
The man from whose lips fall 'rapture' and 'passion' and 'obses- sion' VOICE Just think of millenniums multiplied by aeons compounded by infinity, I've been around that long, but it's only recently that your affairs here have piqued my interest. Call it boredom, the natural curiosity of me, the most lasting and significant element in existence has come to see you.
Parrish struggles to make sense of what he is hearing. VOICE It requires competence, wisdom, experience -- all those things they say about you in testimonials -- and you're the one. And in return, you get Parrish squints, trying to make sense of what is happening. The question you've been asking yourself with increased regularity, at odd moments, panting through the extra game of handball, when you ran for the plane in Delhi, when you sat up in bed last night and hit the floor in the office this morning.
Am I going to die? The figure who is the Voice takes a step forward now, no longer obscured by the glass he comes into the light, re- vealing himself to be the Young Man seen previously in the coffee shop, but there is a change; he seems odd, off- center, not handsome but terrifyingly beautiful. A moment, Parrish beside himself.
He cannot bring himself to speak, finally: Another moment Are you a dream? Who the hell are you? The Young Man steps closer to Parrish, his face is inches from a shaking, sweating Parrish's face, the Young Man daring Parrish to identify him: Yes --' Parrish turns away.
But the Young Man, spectacularly, is in front of him again. Parrish is shocked, stunned, terrified at the word, by what he has comprehended. He surveys the Young Man who, at this moment, actually seems bewildered by his effect. You're just a kid in a jacket and a pair of pants. Let me ask your opinion. Do I blend in? A hopelessly confused Parrish does not respond for a moment. The Young Man nods, gently.
Parrish and the Young Man take each other in, the sense that now they understand each other. Parrish does not hear her for the moment, Luisa steps inside the Library. Parrish ignores her at first, finally he looks at Luisa then at the Young Man, then once more at both of them as if to verify the Young Man's presence has been acknowledged by Luisa.
The Young Man interjects: Luisa nods perfunctorily and exits. Parrish is frozen, dumbfounded. Parrish does not answer at first. And that's what we're doing. It's not open for discussion. Parrish is frightened by the response.
Now lead the way. Parrish hesitates, then obediently leads the Young Man out of the library, down a long hallway and across the foyer. Could I say something? Well, here's another possibility. It's a little last minute, but how does this strike you?
Some German firm went kerplunkt, Tiffany's picked these things up, they're perfect party favors, however they're not personal, they're winter scene or something, snow-flakes and dachshunds Parrish and the Young Man appear at the table, an awkward pause ensues, the unannounced guest's presence at a family dinner being noted, and the guest himself carefully survey- ed.
Finally, Allison breaks the ice: Parrish is horribly uncomfortable as the Young Man looks at each person as if he were discovering a face of the first time. PARRISH Uh -- sorry -- to have stepped away for so long -- uh -- this is a friend of mine I asked to drop by -- we got to talking and stuff -- uh -- he's going to join us for dinner -- um -- Parrish drifts into another awkward pause. And wouldn't it be nicer if my father would introduce you?
How nice to meet you. This is my daughter, Allison, and her husband, Quince, Drew, my number one, works with me Parrish drifts off as the Young Man awkwardly shakes hands with each person. Does your friend have a name?
Come on, a name. This is - uh - uh The group waits patiently. Parrish once more drifts into silence. Joe, turned on by Quince's broad smile, reacts to it as Drew squints observingly at Joe. DREW Is there any more to it?
Parrish's brow darkens and a name tumbles from his lips: Nice to meet you, Mr. Won fifteen and lost two for the Brooklyn Dodgers in I'm kind of my Rotisserie League. Let's sit down -- Luisa has set a plate in front of Joe, and Parrish's, which was taken to the kitchen to be warmed, has been returned. Joe looks over at the other guests, then picks up his uten- sils gingerly, strives to copy the others, stops, staring at his foot.
JOE As long as it takes. Drew is provoked by the response, but remains polite: JOE We have an arrangement now. DREW What side of the industry did you say you were on? JOE I didn't say. I have the feeling you guys got the broad strokes already. Need any help with the details? Parrish falls silent again, looking for an answer.
DREW cont'd I'm sorry -- business at dinner She is considering marriage, but Bill can tell she's not passionately in love. When she asks for the short version of his impassioned speech, he simply says, "Stay open. Susan meets a vibrant young man at a coffee shop. He takes an interest in her and tells her that lightning may strike. She is enamored but parts without getting his name. Unbeknownst to her, the man is struck by multiple cars in a possibly fatal accident.
Death arrives at Bill's home in the uninjured body of the young man, explaining that Bill's impassioned speech has piqued his interest. Given Bill's "competence, experience, and wisdom", Death says that for as long as Bill will be his guide on Earth, Bill will not have to die. Making up a name on the spot, Death is introduced to the family as "Joe Black".
Bill's best efforts to navigate the next few days, knowing them now to be his last, fail to keep events from going rapidly out of his control.