Two Bits (1995) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • It's a hot summer day in 1933 in South Philly, where 12-year old Gennaro lives with his widowed mom and his ailing grandpa, who sits outside holding tight to his last quarter, which he's promised to Gennaro and which Gennaro would like to have to buy a ticket to the plush new movie theater. But grandpa's not ready to pass on the quarter or pass on to his final reward: he has some unfinished business with a woman from his past, and he enlists Gennaro to act as his emissary.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • A hot summer day in South Philadelphia, 1933, the Great Depression at its worst.

    Gennaro remembers this day when he was 12, because he was excited about the opening of a new movie theater in town called La Paloma. He chats with his Grandpa in the backyard, who has promised him a certain quarter if he dies.

    Gennaro meets his pal Tullio, and the two of them discuss what to do that day. They go to a church where they luck into a dramatic fracas of a funeral interrupting a wedding.

    Gennaro returns home where he wakes up his sleeping Grandpa. Gennaro says he feels bad waiting for him to die just for the quarter, and they talk more about what death must be like. Grandpa tells him that God is building a house in heaven for him. Gennaro leaves, determined to find another way to get a quarter and go to La Paloma.

    Gennaro tries singing on a street corner, until his aunt comes along and takes the only 3 cents he's earned.

    Gennaro goes by a dry goods store to see if he can work there. A desperate woman comes in and steals a bag of potatoes for her kids. The storeowner gives Gennaro a nickel for trying to help.

    Gennaro comes home to find a doctor tending to Grandpa, who has injured himself in a fall. Grandpa tells him when he was unconscious, he saw a vision of heaven, and it looked like La Paloma. The doctor tells Gennaro's mother that Grandpa should be kept in bed.

    Gennaro later encounters the doctor, who offers him a dime to clean the ashes out of his basement furnace. Gennaro goes to his house and has a strange encounter with the doctor's wife, who reveals that she and the doctor are sexually frustrated. She offers him a dime to come upstairs with her, but he runs away.

    Gennaro tells Tullio about the incident, and they agree to go back to her house together. There they find the doctor's dead wife hanging from a rope.

    Gennaro tells Grandpa what happened, and he reassures him he was not at fault.

    Gennaro's mother first shows sympathy, then gets mad at him for still thinking about money for the movies. She then tells him of her recurring dream that his father had not died, but she came to accept that was impossible.

    Gennaro is captivated by Grandpa's tale of how he resisted having sex with his first girlfriend before he got married to her, but he had sex with another girl instead, leaving him feeling guilty ever since. Grandpa asks Gennaro to find the woman and apologize for him, because she was later beaten and shamed for losing her virginity to him.

    Gennaro goes to the elderly woman's house and tells her that Grandpa is sorry, asking her to forgive him. She asks him to kiss her and she will forgive him, which Gennaro does.

    Gennaro runs home to tell Grandpa this news, and his mother gives him a dime for his service, so he runs to La Paloma... where he finds they are charging 50¢ for the evening. He walks around the neighborhood until night falls, then goes home to find relatives gathered and his mother crying.

    Gennaro walks around his grandfather's bedroom, thinking he has died, but Grandpa is being attended to by a new doctor in the backyard. Grandpa tells Gennaro that he still might be able to get to a late show at the movies. The relatives gather around Grandpa and badger the doctor for not helping him more.

    Gennaro goes out and sees people dancing in the streets, wondering how they can be so happy. He goes to a church to pray.

    Gennaro goes home to find Grandpa lying on the ground with relatives watching him. Grandpa tells Gennaro to not let him fall asleep, while he tells him to promise to always want. Having said this, he dies. A moment later, the Standing Liberty quarter rolls out of Grandpa's hand, and Gennaro picks it up.

    Gennaro goes to La Paloma, where he can now buy a movie ticket with his 50¢. As he enters the theater, he hears Grandpa's voice from heaven, saying it looks like La Paloma.

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