The Waldorf Roof after the theatre on a gala night: A well-dressed crowd, two bands, a floor show.
Camera picks up two men in tailcoats at a table near the door. One of them is trim and elderly. The other has wild, rumpled hair. They have dropped in for a quick drink and their top hats sit on the table before them. Both hold opera glasses to their eyes, through which they rather unsteadily observe the crowd.
Camera shoots between them at the crowd.
Grey Hair: Table beside the bass drum.
Rumpled Hair (moving his opera glasses): I’ve got it.
Grey Hair: What do you say?
Rumpled Hair: Let me concentrate.
A blurred dose shot of a table across the room seen through a frame shaped like this [sign] OO to suggest open glasses. The blur dears to show two young people leaning ecstatically over: the table toward each other.
Rumpled Hair: I say, engaged.
Grey Hair: Sure. Now the couple on their right.
Camera, acting as opera glasses, pans to a dull couple of thirty, utterly bored, staring for amusement anywhere bur at each other. Accidently, their eyes meet with a glazed expression and, as if startled, hastily seek other focuses.
Grey Hair’s Voice: Married.
Rumpled Hair’s Voice: That’s too easy.
Camera, as opera-glasses, pans gain to the right, picking up a devoted couple of thirty-five, happy; at ease with each other, interested in what’s outside because they are seeing it together.
Rumpled Hair’s Voice: Married?
Grey Hair’s Voice: Yes. (Pause.) Lucky devils.
Camera, as opera glasses, pans left, picking up another couple. The girl is talking earnestly, passionately to the man. The man is listening, his mouth moving uneasily. Once his eyes wander quickly from side to side, then back to her. Her eyes have swayed slightly with his.
Grey Hair’s Voice: Cheating.
The observers’table: Both men lower their opera-glasses, laughing.
Rumpled Hair: That’s obvious.
He drinks as Grey Hair raises his opera glasses again.
Rumpled Hair (calling off): Waiter—the check.
Grey Hair: Wait a minute. Close-up of Grey Hair’s face: His face tightens with interest as he looks through the glasses.
Grey Hair: Take a look at this couple. The camera shoots between them at the crowd.
Rumpled Hair (raising opera glasses as a waiter’s hand lets check fall on table): Where are they?
Grey Hair: Near the mike… where the waiter is. Seen their faces somewhere… Camera, as opera glasses, picks, up Nicolas and Althea
Gilbert at a table beside the floor show; they are a handsome, attractive, vital, well-dressed pair. Camera holds on them during following business during which their lips move appropriately but we hear nothing. They have just been served a light supper by a waiter who now retires. Nicolas makes a polite reference to the floor show which she answers with a courteous smile, such as one gives to a stranger. The smile fades rather quickly, however, and their eyes meet for a moment, gravely—but not as if they were strangers’eyes, for with a stranger, some conversation would have to go with such a look.Now Althea says something and he reacts politely and deferentially, again as to a stranger, but once again their eyes meet and hold, silent and inscrutable in the way no strangers’eyes would. They are certainly accustomed to each other; with equal certainty there is a barrier between them.
Grey Hair’s Voice: What do you make of them?
Rumpled Hair’s Voice: Brother and sister.
Grey Hair’s Voice Too polite. (Pause)
Rumpled Hair’s Voice: Married—but love somebody else.
At this point the couple’s eyes meet for the second time.
Grey Hair’s Voice: I don’t know about that either.
Rumpled Hair’s Voice: I give up. Come on. Who started this game anyhow?
A sort of wipe dissolve, as if the glasses were being laid down, disclosing: Full shot of the room from the observers’table. As Grey Hair and Rumpled Hair rise to pay their bill, the camera forgets them and moves swiftly forward through the tables with the music swelling up. It takes position for a two-shot of Nicolas and Althea Gilbert and during the rest of the scene, as a distinct innovation in treatment, it remains entirely stationary. The shot is wide enough so that we can see the entertainment on the other side of their table—enough of it to almost hold our interest by itself. In the floor show, between and beyond them, we see a soprano finishing a torch number.
There’s love outside the window.
There’s love beyond the door,
There’s love around the corner,
But I don’t go there anymore.
Nicolas and Althea clap perfunctorily. Their eyes meet but this time they avoid the glance just slightly.
Nicolas (attentive): More sherry?
Althea: No, thanks.
Some gay people pass them going out, brush against the table, excuse themselves. Nicolas looks quickly to see if Althea has been annoyed, then inclines his head slightly. The two eat in silence. With a not too emphasized gesture, Althea turns her wedding ring with her thumb. Headwaiter comes into scene.
Waiter: Everything all right, Mr. Gilbert?
Nicolas: Very nice.
Althea (almost in the same breath): Very nice. Waiter retires
Nicolas (polite): Salt.
Althea (handing it): Oh, I’m sorry.
Nicolas (using it): Thanks.
A ventriloquist number how begins on the floor—they give it mild attention.They are well-bred; their expressions are in full control. The air of constraint will transpire from what they do and say—there should be no attempt to “act”.
The Ventriloquist (to his dummy): Well, Jimmy, since you took the fatal leap, I haven’t seen so much of you.
Dummy: My wife complains of that, too. A peal of laughter from a nearby table. The Gilberts’expressions are pleasant but they do not smile. Their attitude continues through several other jokes on marriage. The ventriloquist moves our of our vision; his voice continues, faint and indistinguishable.
Nicolas: Want some coffee?
Althea: No thanks, but you have some.
Nicolas: Not for me.
Laughter at the ventriloquist comes from the tables. Nicolas turns his head slightly but isn’t much interested. He raises his hand to the waiter who, comes into the scene.
Nicolas: Check, please. (To Althea:) Or perhaps you want to see.
Althea (wakening from an abstracted mood and covering up with a polite smile): What? No—no. I’ve had enough.
Nicolas nods at the waiter who figures the check. Nicolas pays, and for the first time Althea looks around at the other tables, ending by looking directly into the camera which thereupon moves up to a dose shot of her. Her face is passive, mask-like, but we are sure she is a woman who has not found in life what she desires.
The lobby of the Waldorf: The Gilberts step out of the elevator; his attitude is protective. The other passengers cast covert glances at this notably handsome, well-dressed couple. Camera follows them out the door.
The street in front of the hotel: Nicolas stops beside a newspaper vending machine for an early morning edition. After a step, Althea stops too. In deference to her, he hurries forth the paper, stuffs it in his pocket, and they walk on together. The doorman recognizes them.
Doorman: Yes, Mr. Gilbert—your car’s here. (Signals down [unknown] and blows whistle.) Limousine draws up, chauffeur jumps out, the Gilberts get in and they drive off.
Interior of limousine; night: Althea is staring straight ahead; Nicolas takes out his paper, turns on the little light and reads. Althea’s glance is caught by an item on an inner page—an advertisement for fine laces. Nicolas adjusts the paper politely so she can see it—before he turns the page, he paid a side-glance to see if she’s finished.
Althea: I’m through. (She turns eyes front again.) Hold on Nicolas and Althea riding in silence long enough to indicate that their silence is habitual. No individual shots—the camera should emphasize their physical nervousness, yet sort of intimacy. They seem to be so perfectly mated, they would be in each other’s arms, deliriously happy. A rich but not palatial house in the East Sixties; night: Nicolas starts to unlock the door when Starks, the butler, opens it.
As camera follows them in:
Nicolas (to butler): You didn’t have to sit, Starks.
Butler: There were some phones, sir.
Camera follows them into a luxurious drawing room, in the best taste, family portaits, etc., not just Park Avenue interior decoration. These are people of tradition.
Butler: Your brother phoned from the airport in Chicago, sir. He’s arriving by plane tomorrow morning.
Nicolas: Ah, good, good, (He half turns to Althea as if to share his joy, but recollects himself immediately, enthusiasm fading.)
Althea (shedding her fur coat): That’s nice.
Butler: (reading from a list): And Mr. E.R.P. Chetton, and Senator Wade from Washington, and Mr. Morris Cauley.
Nicolas (lightly): Give me the list—I’ll dream on it.
Butler (to Althea from another list): And from the hospital (Althea is instantly alert), the superintendent—Mrs. Gostal, or—
Althea (supplying it): Mrs. Gosnell.
Butler: She phoned that she has the other trustees for ten o’clock.
Althea: Oh, thanks.
Butler: And there was Mrs. Payson calling from Southampton, and Mrs. Cromwell (she takes the list from his hand), and some gentleman who will call again. (To Nicolas:) A something to eat, sir? (Picks up Nicolas hat, stick, rtc.)
Nicolas: Thanks, we’ve eaten. Althea starts out into the hall.
Althea (looking at list as she walks): Starks, tell the new parmaid she can stay. Get her some new uniforms.
Nicolas stands out of her way. As she slowly passes the place, her fur coat catches in the projecting spike of an late andiron. She stops; detaches it in a gesture and goes on. Nicolas quietly picks up the andiron and quickly bends offending part until it breaks off. Althea, unseeing, passes to the door. Close shot of Starks looking startled at the piece of andiron which Nicolas now drops on the floor. Nicolas’face has not tangled with the effort.
The hall: Althea mounts the stairs slowly. Nicolas follows her steps behind.
Starks’s face is seen looking up at them, faintly frowning. Two open bedroom doors.
Althea (formally—a little hurried): Good-night. I enjoyed the play.
Nicolas: Good-night, Althea. She goes into her room. Nicolas looks after her for a split second. Then camera follows him into his room. Moving about, he takes off his coat, his vest and slips off suspenders. Then he looks at the list the butler has given him, crumples it, flips it absently into basket, frowns and stoops to look for it. The basket has other papers in it, and patiently he smooths out one or two. His hanging suspender, dangling on his arm, upsets the basket. He stands up and looks at it listlessly. The scene is not comic—it is to indicate and accentuate his alone-ness, his helplessness, that boyish clumsiness which makes women feel maternal.
Althea’s bedroom: Luxurious. She is taking off her necklace. Through the door, the maid is seen drawing a bath. On her dressing table is a big open jar of cold cream. She lets her dress slip off, stands on tiptoes and stretches. Then she picks up a squash racket from a chair and, in front of the mirror, makes a couple of tentative strokes, practicing form; that brings her hair tumbling down. Nicolas’room: In his pajamas, Nicolas presses a window-opening device, then he gets into bed and lies staring at the ceiling a moment before he turns off the light. Althea’s room: The maid waits. Althea is coming from the bath, ravishing in a silk nightgown, looking like love—but no lover. Camera should hold on these shots if tense mood of mystery has been successfully established.
The Maid: Is there nothing Madame wants?
Althea (turning): Nothing—absolutely nothing.
The maid leaves. Althea aims out the sidelights and gets into bed. She opens a book, reads a few lines, then lowers it and stares at the ceiling.
The camera moves up to the page of the book, open on her breast, and we read:
“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever Gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud——”
The shadow of her hand crosses the page. The light goes The Gilberts’breakfast alcove cm a May morning: A New York street outside the window. Althea, dressed in pajamas, looking very fresh and beautiful, is pulling up her chair at the breakfast table as the butler sets down two glasses of orange juice and two newspapers.
Nicolas comes in, dressed for business.
Althea: Good morning.
Nicolas (politely as he sits down): Morning. Sleep well?
Althea: Yes, thanks. (To butler as he brings over covered dish from the serving table and shows it to her:) Is this made of the new ham?
Butler: Yes, Madame.
Althea: It ought to taste of hickory smoke and molasses. (More to herself:) When I was a girl in Virginia, we had smokehouses full of it every autumn.
The butler serves her husband who drinks his orange juice, looks at the headlines and puts the paper in his pocket. Two lovebirds in a cage behind Althea cheep at her, and she gets up and goes to them. The birds perch on her finger, and she chirps back at them.
Althea: You’ll get your breakfast after a while.
She turns and looks at Nicolas. He has just forked a piece of his sausage cake. Suddenly he realizes he is being looked at and is grateful for her interest, eyes brightening.
Althea (smiling): Nicer?
Nicolas: What, nicer?
Althea: The ham.
The look in his eyes makes her turn away to return the birds to their cage, and speak in a cooler voice.
Althea: It’s sent up from the South. Nicolas’little eagerness fades.
Nicolas: Oh, yes—it’s fine. Delicious. Everything is.
The drawing room: A little later. We truck in front of them as they walk from the breakfast alcove through the drawing room, to the front hall. Her side-glance is on the room as they pass—she stops momentarily to adjust some flowers that dangle awkwardly from a vase, then catches up with her husband.
The hall: The butler is handing Nicolas his hat and holding a light coat for him.
Nicolas (realizing something): I don’t need this—it’s spring.
Butler: Yes, sir.
Nicolas: And it’s Saturday. (To Althea:) You going to the country?
Althea: To the Bancrofts’.
Nicolas (with a faint sadness): No.
Althea: You’ll have so many things to talk over with your brother—I’ll be back tomorrow night.
Nicolas (to butler): If my brother phones here,call the office immediately.
Butler; Yes, sir.
Nicolas (to Althea): Have a good time.
Althea: Thank you, Nick.
He goes out.
Drawing room: Althea walks back toward the breakfast alcove. Over the shot, comes the sound of a telephone bell.
Street: Truck Nicolas to the limousine. Inside, he takes out his newspaper. Then, involuntarily, as though propelled by a strange longing, an inner loneliness, he looks back toward the house.
Breakfast alcove: Althea, glancing out the window, sees him looking from the limousine. She waves her handkerchief in a friendly fashion—but only friendly, like everything else. Sound of telephone bell continues.
The limousine: Nicolas’reaction: His eyes almost glisten with emotion.
The breakfast alcove: Althea turns from window, unmoved. The phone in breakfast alcove is still ringing. The butler hastens to answer it.
Butler (at phone): Who is this, please? (To Althea:) A gentleman from foreign pans.
Althea (surprised): A gentleman from foreign parts? (Suddenly an expression of pleased recognition comes into her face as she crosses to the phone.)
The International Life Company; anteroom of the gigantic offices: Camera picks up Nicolas coming in from outside and trucks him through deferential clerks, typists at desks, and people waiting to see him, following him into his luxurious private office with the skyline outside the windows. He is definitely in a mood, throws his hat on his desk and wanders to the window, his eyes far away.
Miss Crane, his secretary, a neutral, not glamorous type, comes in and hangs up his hat.
Secretary: Morning, Mr. Gilbert. (She sits down with pad and pencil.)
Nicolas (abstracted): Good morning. (He looks at her.) Not yet.
Secretary (surprised at his tone): What?
Nicolas (as if in a dream): I mean, not yet. There’s something else.
Secretary (puzzled): Something I can do?
Nicolas (seeing her for the first time): Not you. No, not you. (More collected.) I’ll send for you later.
Confused, she turns, her handkerchief dropping from her lap. Nicolas takes a step and picks it up, holds it gingerly, his mind going back to his wife’s gesture of that morning.
Secretary: You don’t approve of my handkerchief?
Nicolas: Oh, yes. It’s very nice. (Hands it to her.)
Secretary (smells it): The perfume’s some you gave me last Christmas.
An office boy opens the door.
Boy: Mr. Harrison Gilbert. Immediately a burly, successful-looking man, a few years older than Nicolas, brushes by him and advances toward his brother.
Nicolas: Harry! They do a boyhood grip—first slapping, then clasping hands on the third count. Miss Crane and the office boy go out.
Harrison (smiling—referring to the grip that Nicolas fumbled): You missed it—first rime in twenty years. What’s the matter?
Nicolas (smiling): I’m just surprised. I thought you weren’t ever coming East again.
By the door: The office boy opens it, piles two expensive, shining leather grips and a bag of golf clubs inside. As the door closes—
Two-shot of the brothers.
Harrison: I wanted to see you… to see you close.
Nicolas (a little embarrassed): Well, that’s nice—
His brother turns him to the window and examines him.
Harrison: I meet people sometimes—who’ve seen you—and they say things—things that worry me.
Nicolas (scoffing): What’s this?
Harrison: They say you look like thirty—you think like forty—you always did—but you act like fifty.
Nicolas (backing away): I deny it all.
Harrison: And when a man acts like fifty, he feels like fifty. And, Nick, you’re thirty-three.
Nicolas: Am I? That’s right.
Harrison: How’s Althea?
Nicolas: Never better. Very busy—interested in this children’s ward she started at the orthopedic. She’s gone to the country for the night, but you’ll see her tomorrow. Pause. Harrison sits on desk.
Harrison: Nick, what’s the matter between you two?
Nicolas: Oh, we’re fine. Do you expect two people to go on staring at each other like a couple of love-sick calves all their lives? Do people expect marriage to be one long honeymoon? Marriage has its phases—its acts—like anything else. This is another act, that’s all.
Harrison (interrupting): Nick, what’s the matter between you and Althea? What happened two years ago? (Pause.)
Nicolas: A door closed, that’s all.
Harrison: Why? Why, Nick, up to two years ago—
At this point, with the voices continuing as an overtone, the scene dissolves to a montage composed of the following elements:
(a) Althea in a wide hat in a rope swing—Nicolas pushing and running completely under it, so that first her smiling face and then his come up to the camera.
(b) Nicolas in a room, holding a stepladder. Althea is driving a nail—She loses her balance, clutches the air wildly and falls into his arms, laughing.
(c) Nicolas and Althea, dressed as clown and harlequin, driving down a country road at dawn, his arm about her.
(d) Nicolas and Althea donkey riding in Mexico—her donkey stampedes, sending him tearing after in wild alarm.
(e) Nicolas and Althea snowballing each other in front of a big house. Nicolas ducks and a snowball knocks off the hat of a staid passerby.
(f) Nicolas at phone, his face fond and tender. Althea at phone, the same.
(g) Two hands over teacups, clasping.
(h) Nicolas and Althea entering a bedroom, arms about each other, closing a door behind them. Over this shot comes the following conversation:
Harrison (continuing): …You were the happiest pair I ever knew. The only thing that bothered me was that you were too happy.
Nicolas: It couldn’t last.
Harrison: But it didn’t have to break into bits. There was enough to last you your lifetime. People used to stare at you, envying you, wondering where you’d found it—found what everyone in the world is looking for. Pause.
Nicolas: Don’t you think I remember. On the day she sailed for Europe, two years ago—if anyone had told me it could end—
His voice fades off as the montage ends. Medium shot: The gangway of an ocean liner. A standing sign reads, “Conte di Savoia—Sailing at Midnight.” Shooting from the pier, the camera goes swiftly up the gangway,passing stewards with luggage.
Dining salon of the ship: Quite a few people supping or drinking at tables. In the foreground a well-dressed group is saying good-bye.
Ad Lib: Write me from Paris? Your summer clothes are in the country. Etc.
Steward’s Voice (calling over scene): Fifteen minutes more.
Camera trucks forward swiftly through tables, taking up a medium-close position as in the shot on Waldotf Roof. Nicolas and Althea sit opposite each other but now all has changed. The emotions are love and excitement, sadness and animation, and every emotion is shared and exchanged.
Althea (leaning over table): I don’t believe I’m going away. I never have believed it and never will. If you were leaving me, I could understand it—but that I’m going away, free and in my right mind—(She shakes her head somberly from side to fide)
Nicolas: You’re not going away. Listen, did you read_in papers about the dog they froze up in a cake of ice—
Althea: Poor dog.
Nicolas: Wait a minute—
Althea (near tears anyhow): I’m afraid I’m going to weep over that dog.
Nicolas: Wait! They thawed him out after a month, and he came to life again. That’s how it’ll be with us.
Althea: But what’ll I think about in my cake of ice?
Nicolas: Oh, you’ll look out and see the Italian scenery and watch your mother get well and write me letters.
Althea (desolately): Here are some letters. (She hands him a package—six letters, each addressed to Nicolas Gilbert, Esq.) This for the time I’m on the boat. You’re to open one every day.
Nicolas: Oh, that’s fine.
Althea: They’re not so good. They’re all about the waves and fascinating stranger I meet on the boat deck in the storm. (Pause.) You ought to see a lot of Kitty Tredwick while I’m away, or Mary Hoffman or that horrible woman with the pink hair you admire so.
Nicolas (taking out notebook and consulting it): I’m seeing her tonight. The others’ll have to wait a few days.
Althea: And please wear the knee bandage another month. And listen (leans over table) I don’t want you to write me. Send me a few cables if you like.
Nicolas (vaguely hurt): Not write?
Althea: No. I can’t explain. This is a dream, being away from you, and a cable is part of the dream, all vague arid impossible. But a letter would be like seeing you a long way off—where I couldn’t reach out and touch you.
Nicolas is shaking his head from side to side—tears are winking in his eyes.
Nicolas: You are the craziest girl.
Steward’s Voice (off scene): Five minutes more.
Nicolas: I want to see your state-room.
As they go up—
A beautiful, big, light cabin on a high deck filled with flowers, Nicolas and Althea coming in: She stands with her arms folded, looking at the floor.
Nicolas: Everything you want? (Crosses to washstand)
Nicolas (at washstand): Hot water—cold water—(Neither flows.) I guess they don’t go till the boat starts. Even ice water.
Althea: You can freeze me right now.
He comes behind her and puts his arms around her.
Nicolas: No, not yet.
Althea (unsmiling): Yes.
Nicolas (letting her go and speaking with dead seriousness): This is pretty awful, isn’t it?
Althea: This is the awfullest thing that ever happened. I can’t stand it.
She grabs his hand and begins to jump up and down. He jumps with her and, unsmiling, like two children, they jump in a circle, shouting:
Althea and Nicolas: We—can’t—stand—it. We—can’t—stand—it—
Door opens and stewardess puts her head in.
Stewardess: Is anything wrong? They stop jumping and look at her.
Nicolas and Althea (together): Ye-e-s-s-s. Everything.
Nicolas (feeling fives from a bill roll): You take care of this lady as if she was a piece of glass. She is. A tin gong beats in the hall.
Stewardess: All ashore that’s going ashore. (She exits.) Althea, wide-eyed, points suddenly to the window. Shot of the porthole and outside it.
Apparently the ship is in motion, passing the lighted port-holes of another ship. Nicolas throws up his hat in joy.
Nicolas: Yea—we’re moving! I’m a stowaway. I’ll ride as far as Quarantine.
Althea: You can’t ride to Quarantine! It’s contagious there. Althea rushes toward the porthole.
Medium shot as from the porthole: Another ship, backing into dock, is passing dose to the Conte di Savoia. It is the old Optical illusion of one’s own train moving when it is really the train beside it, moving in another direction. Two-shot of Nicolas and Althea beside the porthole.
Nicolas laughing; Althea looking relieved.
Althea: Shall I be glad or sorry?
Nicolas: It gave me an idea. I’ll ride to Quarantine with you and come back on the tug.
Althea (catching his arm and starting him out the door): You will not. I won’t have you catch some foreign disease.
Nicolas (resisting): Quarantine is only where they halt the immigrants’ships.
Althea: Then why do they call it Quarantine?
Note: Althea has no “screwball” affectations but is clinging to any talk that distracts her.
As they go out of the cabin—
The embarkation desk crowded with good-byes. Nicolas and Althea come out and make their way to the rail beside the gangplank.
Althea: They wouldn’t call it Quarantine if—
Nicolas: I tell you it doesn’t mean disease.
Althea waves at someone on the dock. His eyes follow.
Althea; There’s Charles.
Medium shot of crowd on dock. Close-up of uniformed chauffeur waving his cap. Two-shot of the deck: Nicolas and Althea waving back.
Althea: Charles wouldn’t say that about Quarantine. (She chokes back her tears, turns suddenly to Nicolas, takes hold of his upper arms and says in a quiet voice:) You’re my man—you know it, don’t you? (He looks at her unsmiling.) You know I’d die for you this second or any second, and I haven’t any life in the world apart from you. You know it, don’t you?
He smiles just slightly and nods. There is a great din from the gongs and now the crowd pushes over and through them, scrambling for the dock. Nicolas and Althea arc borne apart by the rush. Close-up of Althea, raising her voice a little to reach him.
Althea: You know it, don’t you? You’re aware of it, aren’t you, Mister?
Close-up of Nicolas borne, resisting, with the crowd, trying to stop by the gangway rope. A man bumps against him
Man: Beg pardon.
Nicolas: I beg your pardon.
(He looks back at Althea.)
Close-up of Althea: She cups her hands.
Althea: Know it? Close-up of Nicolas pushed farther down gangway. Agonized, he makes a hugging gesture with his arms. Close-up of Althea with tears on her cheeks. Medium shot of Nicolas at bottom of gangway walking backward.
Close shot of Nicolas: He trips—his chauffeur catches him. Nicolas hardly notices that he has tripped. He and the chauffeur fight their way to the dock railing.
Medium shot of the boat from the dock: Passengers waving.
Two-shot of Nicolas and chauffeur.
Nicolas: Which is she? Where is she?
Chauffeur: There—on the boat, sir.
Nicolas: Where? Where?
Chauffeur (pointing stupidly): She’s one of those people.
Nicolas (passionately): No, she’s not—she’s something entirely different! Close-up of Althea on the deck, her face in a set smile, automatically waving a handkerchief.
Close-up of Nicolas seeing her, his face lighting up. Whistles and horns are blowing. Medium shot of the ship—moving. Close-up of Althea, her handkerchief blowing from her hand. The camera follows it as it flutters down the side of the ship.
Close-up of Nicolas seeing the handkerchief, his eyes following it down. He starts from scene. Medium shot of the ship pulling away, Close-up of handkerchief landing on dock, still fluttering along under dock lights in the breeze from the boat.
Camera trucks after Nicolas as he runs out dock where the crowd is thinner. He stops, waves toward the boat and goes on. His face is serious as he pursues the handkerchief. He almost has it when with a last little jump it disappears over the side of the dock. He looks after it, then he looks after the boat.
Long shot of boat in the distance.
Nicolas raises his hand to wave but realizes the boat is too far away. It is difficult for him to realize Althea has actually gone.
Apartment house on Park Avenue.
Nicolas gets out of has car and walks in.
Magnificent duplex apartment: Starks admits Nicolas.
Note: In this retrospective, even Starks clothes are a different type than in the contemporary part of the picture.
Nicolas: Hello, Starks.
Camera trucks Nicolas through, the dining room, with Starks following.
Starks: Did Madame get off all right?
Nicolas: Don’t let’s—mention Madame for a i Phone rings.
Starks: A Mrs. Holland has called several times.
Nicolas (now at the buffet in dining room): Didn’t her Mrs. Gilbert was sailing?
Starks: She asked for you, sir.
Nicolas (mixing a drink): Asked for me? I don’t speak to her. (Drinks.) She may be beautiful to some. (Drinks.) She always reminds me of a monkey. (Finish.) I’m going to bed.
Nicolas’ bedroom: He is in pajamas, sitting on the the bed, taking off his slippers. A cigarette burns on table. Phone rings; absentmindedly, he picks it up.
Nicolas: Hello—hello. (At the response, his face starts to bang up, wishing he’d let it ring. With artificial enthusiasm:) Oh, hello. What brings you here… yes, I know you live here (curses to himself) but I thought you were away—in India or somewhere (he lowers the phone from his mouth while he picks up the cigarette from the night table. He speaks impatiently to himself:), or in the zoo.
Woman’s Voice (on phone): I read in the paper that Althea sailed today.
Nicolas: Yes, she did.
Voice: So I sprang to the phone, thinking, “Now that he’s unprotected, I can try again.”
Nicolas nods grimly at the phone. Then an idea strikes him.
Nicolas (confidentially): As a matter of fact, you can come right over. I don’t think Althea’s coming back at all.
Voice (startled): What?
Nicolas: Fact—she’s leaving me. Listen—come in by the window, will you?
Voice (startled): The window?
Nicolas (very confidentially): Climb up the side of the building. There’s a big parade of baby pandas coming in the door. That’s what Althea couldn’t understand—that’s why she left me—(A click at the other end. Nick looks at the phone, smiles and bangs up).
Insert—envelope: Nicolas Gilbert, Esq. To be opened the first day.
Insert—another envelope: Nicolas Gilbert, Esq. To be opened the second day.
And so on, with flashes of two more envelopes.
An office. Morning. It is very smart and important but not the same office that Nicolas occupies now. Nicolas—the cheery, spirited Nicolas of two years ago—comes in, just arriving for his morning’s work. A woman, apparently his secretary, is seated at a typewriter with her back to him and does not rise as he comes in. He gives her a faintly surprised glance, forgets her, sits down and opens the top drawer of his desk. Two envelopes, addressed to him in Althea’s writing, remain. He puts one back in the drawer and looks at the other.
Insert—envelope: Nicolas Gilbert, Esq. To be opened the fifth day.
Nicolas opens it and spreads it out before him. Woman at typewriter steals a side-glance at him. Iris Jones is about thirty, well preserved, healthy and with a certain charm. Any man would look at her twice, but she is cast as one who has not the special hallmarks by which privileged classes identify each other. She runs her words together in a way Althea would not, and though Althea uses a racier vernacular, her slang seems always within quotes. It is important that she be cast as a small-town girl. She turns back to the desk.
Nicolas continues to read the letter. He is absorbed and intent.
The door of the office opens very quietly, disclosing the same Miss Crane we have met before the retrospective, but, of corse, in a noticeably different costume. She looks at Iris and smiles like a conspirator.
Iris, seeing her, smiles back mischievously, hand at her lips. Miss Crane, smiling, withdraws quietly. Nicolas finishes the letter and puts it in a locked drawer which we see contains the open sheets of other letters in Althea’s writing. He snaps out of his dream and stands up.
Nicolas: Well. Miss Crane, suppose we forge onward and upward.
Close shot of Iris, her back still turned.
Iris: Yes, Mr. Gilbert.
Nicolas (pacing): The position of a Vice-President—(The fact of a strange voice suddenly penetrates bis consciousness and he stands still.) What’s that?
Iris: I only said, “Yes, Mr. Gilbert.“
Nicolas walks swiftly toward her—as he nears, she swings around, facing him, gravely smiling.
Nicolas: Iris Jones! (He takes hold of her arms.) Iris!
Iris: I fooled you. I was pretending to be pour secretary again. They look at each other. She is smiling but her eyes are a little frightened. Nicolas conceals a lot going on in his mind by retaining his mood of astonishment.
Nicolas (letting go of her arms and straightening up): Iris! Well, sit down.
Iris: I am sitting down. But I can stand up. (She does so. Smiles at him, trying to be just an old friend, but adoring him.)
Nicolas: I can’t believe it. Come here. (To conceal his momentary confusion be walks back toward his own desk and sits down. She follows and stands beside him.) Iris! (He shakes his head.) Sit down. (She looks about—there’s no chair. She half sits on desk.) Here, let me get you a chair. (He rises and goes over to chair where she’s been sitting, brings it over and points at it.) Here, sit down. (He sits down it himself.)
Note: Gag ends here—don’t plug it.
Nicolas: I haven’t seen you for five years.
Iris: Almost six years.
Nicolas: Iris! Iris (pretty upset herself): You were the first man who ever called me Iris. I used to be Irene, but the day before I got the job as your secretary, I found Iris in a book called The Green Hat.
Nicolas: Are you still Iris?
Iris: Yes—and still Iris Jones. Though perhaps it won’t be long now.
Nicolas: You’re getting married?
Iris: I think so. I came to New York to see it once more and sort of make up my mind. I live upstate.
Iris: Oh, upstate. You know—at the top of the map. In a little town.
Nicolas: Hiding out, eh? You think I’m going to pursue you there?
Iris: No, I know all about you. (Pause.)
Nicolas (thoughtfully): I didn’t forgive my father for—spiriting you away. One morning you just weren’t here—that’s all. And I got your note. It was months before I realized that father had done it.
Iris: You’ve forgiven him now, haven’t you?
Nicolas: Yes. (Seeing her face fall ever so slightly.) Not altogether. We had happy times, you and I.
A luncheon table in a crowded downtown restaurant a few hours latter. Nicolas and Iris have just finished lunch.
Iris: I’m glad your marriage is happy, and I’m glad I’m glad.
Nicolas: That’s like you.
Waiter comes into the scene. Nicolas pays the check during the next speech.
Iris: I wasn’t always glad. I hated her at first—her picture in the paper in the fur coat she was always used to—and you gave me my first one. But then I got to like her face—very brave—and loyal—and I knew she’d never let you down—she’d take care of you as long as you live.
Nicolas: Do women really fret about men—or do they just pretend to?
Iris (considering—granting it to her sex): They fret a lot.
Nicolas: If Althea had married someone else, I’d want her to come to a bad end.
Iris: Do you want me to come to a bad end?
Nicolas (affectionately): Not you.
Iris (matter of factly): Because you never cared very deeply.
Nicolas: Bunk—I hate that talk about “the only girl I ever loved.” I loved you once, Iris—for a year I thought you were the only person in the world. Why do I have to lose that? Why do I have to deny it or belittle it? It was there—it was me.
Two-shot, with the camera favoring
Iris, her eyes shining with gratitude.
Nicolas (getting up): And now, I love Althea—probably loving you taught me what love was about.
Small hotel: Night. Nicolas in dinner coat and black soft hat, helping Iris out of taxi.
Iris: Thanks, it was wonderful. It was like old times—almost. (Pause.)
Nicolas (with a friendly smile): Now wouldn’t it be silly if it was like old times—completely? Wouldn’t it? It would spoil everything.
Iris (naturally): Good heavens—I realize that. I wouldn’t even like you if you made love to me.
Nicolas: When do we meet?
Iris (rather startled): Well, I was going home tomorrow.
Nicolas (scoffing): You’ve only been here three days. And I’m lonesome. Who could be better company? I think even Althea would approve. (Lightly.) I’m phoning her tomorrow, and if it didn’t cost five dollars a minute, I’d even tell her about it!
A telephone switchboard: An operator is working.
Operator: Mr. Nicolas Gilbert is calling Mrs. Nicolas Gilbert at the Lombardi Hotel, Florence, Italy.
Operator (Italian type): Signora Gilbert—un momento, aspetti, prego… Signora Gilbert?
A luxurious hotel sitting room: Althea is at the phone in summer clothes and hat.
Althea (ecstatically): Oh, darling! Oh, darling, she’s much better… She’s up and around… We’re starting home two weeks from today.
New York: Nicolas’office (of two years ago).
Nicolas (standing at the point): I’ve played golf—I’ve played squash—I’ve laid awake thinking of you night after night.
Althea (standing at the phone): Oh, this is awful—worse than a letter. I want to get on the boat right away. Did you look at the country place?
Nicolas’ Voice (over wire): What country place?
Althea: The one I mentioned in the last letter.
Nicolas’ Voice: I didn’t get it.
Althea: The last letter I gave you at the boat.
Nicolas, in his office: He starts. His hand moves to the drawer where the last letter still reposes, unopened. He slips it in his pocket.
Nicolas: Oh, yes—ye-es. Listen, Althea, please come home.
Althea: Oh, darling, if wires can sing, these wires ought to be in opera now.
Nicolas’ Voice: We’re talking on the air.
Althea: You mean walking on air.
Nicolas’ Voice (misunderstanding): No! Talking on air.
Althea: Walking and talking. It’s grand!
Telephone switchboard: Operator, with a smile, is handing earphone to another.
Operator: Disse senti questi Americane pazzi come parlano.
Althea’s sitting room: Full shot. She hangs up and turns from the phone. Her convalescent mother, an aristocratic woman of fifty, quiet and not domineering, is coming in. from the bedroom, followed by an English nurse. The latter is a sort of feminine Arthur Treacher. Both are dressed to go out.
Althea: Oh, Mummy, it was wonderful! I actually heard his voice.
Mrs. Chilton (dryly): Whose voice did you expect?
Althea (jubilantly): Off for the races?
English Nurse: The races—I thought we were going to tea in the country.
Althea (beating her breast): I meant the races in here. (In time to her hands.) Pt-a-clop, pt-a-clop, pt-a-clop , pt-a-clop. Nicolas wins! Althea second—hurray!
Mrs. Chilton: This two-year-old ought to be back in her stable.
Althea: You know I won’t leave you till you’re stronger. Excuse me for being so happy—that he’s well and alive. (She turns to the open window and speaks more gravely.) I’ll be with you in a minute—I want to think of everything he said while I can still remember. (Her eyes art far away as she looks out)
English Nurse: The country around Florence is beautiful this—
She subsides as Mrs. Chilton’s hand covers her hand warningly. The nurse looks at Althea, only half understanding.
Close shot of Althea at window: Her expression is a gentle, kindly smile, with a trace of sadness in her eyes—a longing deep in her, passive, not dynamic.
Nurse’s Voice (over shot after pause, rather resentfully): The country is beautiful—Lady Whaley once told me—Oh, I beg your pardon.
Althea turns around.
Althea: All right—let’s go.
Mrs. Chilton (to Althea): Hm! I haven’t seen you like this since that awful summer you were fifteen.
Long shot of a hilltop restaurant just outside of Florence: A simple, picturesque local caf6, popular with visitors. (The hilly nature of the location is necessary to the story)
In front of the restaurant: The hills fall away rather steeply from a terrace on one side. There is music coming from in-side. A limousine drives up: Althea and the nurse help Mrs. Chilton out.
Interior of restaurant: Beside the door there is a cashier’s desk with postcards and souvenirs for sale. In one corner, three peasant musicians play guitars throughout the scene. At tables covered with colored napkins, two dozen customers are scattered—tourists having tea or drinks, and natives playing cards or dominoes.
Our party enters. A waiter approaches them, and the camera trucks with them to a table.
Group shot of their table: The nurse is taking off Mrs. Chilton’s wrap.
Mrs. Chilton (to Althea): Did you see who I saw?
Althea: No, who?
Mrs. Chilton: I think it’s Alex Aldrich.
Althea (looking over her mother’s shoulder, then cautiously drawing her head out of sight): Heavens! I think it is.
A table, twenty feet away: Alex Aldrich, an American in his late twenties, is looking at a map spread out on his table. He is the type played by Ralph Bellamy in The Awful Truth—handsome, attractive, worthy, thoroughly admirable, but somehow too heavy in manner to grip the sympathy of an audience if playing opposite a man of charm.
Group shot of Althea’s table: A waiter is coming into shot.
Waiter (to Althea): Tea, Signora?
Mrs. Chilton: Tea.
Althea: Tea—with lemon and biscuits. The nurse nods to waiter. He withdraws.
Mrs. Chilton (to Althea): Does he see us?
Althea: No, thank heavens. (To nurse:) Change places with me.
As they change places, the shot widens to include mocha table, five feet away. Three men sit there: one is a pudgy, “overgrown” man of thirty, an unattractive, overbearing type. He is the illbred son of a rich oil man, an undeserving heir who asserts his claims by making himself a general public nuisance—probably wanted in America for manslaughter by automobile.
He notices Althea as she changes, and winks at the two neutral parasites who accompany him.
The camera pans the room, leaving Althea’s table and taking in both Big Boy’s table and the three musicians next to it. As the camera pans, Big Boy throws a handful of big Italian copper coins practically in the faces of the musicians. They pretend to smile but obviously are infuriated. Group shot of Althea’s table.
Althea (to nurse); He wouldn’t come to my wedding.
Nurse (innocently): Perhaps he didn’t know about it.
Althea (smiling): Oh, he knew about it—that was the whole trouble,.
Mrs. Chilton: He meant a great deal to Althea once.
Althea: And suddenly Nick came along, and he meant nothing.
The waiter puts tea on the table and exits.
Mrs. Chilton (with irony): I’m glad Althea includes me in her world. She’s very good to people in her world, but those outside don’t exist.
Althea (undisturbed): Love begins at home, doesn’t it?
Mrs. Chilton (not unkindly): Well, it needn’t end there. I think we should speak to Alex.
Althea: Mother, if Nick were here, I wouldn’t mind a bit—I’d even be mean enough to show off for Alex, show him how happy I am. But after just talking to Nick on the phone—I just couldn’t.
Mrs. Chilton: Sugar please… Alex meant so much to you.
Althea: One can’t go back. All I’d have to tell him is that he means nothing at all.
Big Boy steps suddenly into the scene. The ensuing conversation is all quiet, attracting no attention.
Big Boy (ingratiatingly): Hello, Americans. (The three women glance at him, expressionless.) How would you like to be back in old New York, eh? Back in God’s country. (The nurse gestures him away, exactly as if he were a dirty child) Thought you’d like to have a drink to the Fourth of July. It’s two months off.
Althea: Thanks, we’ll wait. (Turns to her mother)
Big Boy stands uncertainly—he has had a drink but is not drunk.
Big Boy: You understand, and we’re all Americans.
Althea: We’re waiting for some gentlemen who wouldn’t understand at all.
Nurse (indignantly to Mrs. Chilton): I should call a bobby—a carbonierri.
Big Boy: If one of those boys tried to put his hands on me—
He leans, putting his hands on the table, one of them beside Althea’s cup. At the moment, she has the little pot of boiling water in her hand and now she pours a few drops on his knuckles. Angrily’the music changes quickly to a gay, taunting tune as Big Boy straightens up. He starts to speak, turns and goes off scene.
Nurse: Very good. Just what Lady X would have done.
Mrs. Chilton (a law-abiding generation): Althea!
Waiter comes into the scene.
Althea (distastefully): Another pot of boiling water.
Group shot at the desk by the door: Later. Althea, Mrs. Chilton, and the nurse are examining lace and souvenirs. Nurse carries coats.
Close shot of Alex Aldrich at his table, annotating his map from a book open before him. He closes book and looks up toward the side wall. He starts.
A mirror on the side wall showing Althea’s profile as she examines some lace.
Alex’s table: He reacts strongly, looks around to locate her, folds map hastily.
By the desk: Althea looks out the door to the terrace and, struck by the view drops the lace and walks out on the terrace.
Alex, standing by his table: He locates Mrs. Chilton and starts across the room toward her.
Big Boy’s table: Shooting toward the door by which Althea has gone out. Big Boy gets up. Camera follows him across restaurant toward door. He collides with Alex.
Two-shot of Alex and Big Boy.
Alex: Pardon me.
Big Boy says nothing—goes off scene Camera holds on Alex following him up to Mrs. Chilton.
Group shot near desk: Alex is greeting Mrs. Chilton.
Alex: Well, Mrs. Chilton—!
Mrs. Chilton: Well, Alex! What a surprise!
Two-shot of Althea and Big Boy on terrace.
Big Boy: I didn’t mind. You can’t be too hot for me.
Althea (after an annoyed pause): I suppose you’re just irresistible to some girls.
Big Boy: You look as if you like all kind of men.
Althea: No—I only like one kind. And you’re not it.
Big Boy: Go on—you like all kinds—with a mouth like that.
At the desk.
Alex (to Mrs. Chilton): I’ve been in Persia and I’m bound for Paris. This is great! I’ll get Althea and we’ll all drive back together.
As he starts out the door—
The terrace: Close shot of Althea and Alex, standing side by side, looking down with concern at something on the stone flags. Pull camera back to show Big Boy sitting down, nursing a cut in his forehead.
Note: Think avoidance of sock and merely showing result is more startling for a change.
Alex: I’m sorry I hurt you.
Big Boy: Big hero, eh? Alex picks up his book, puts Althea’s arm through his and they start along the terrace out of shot. Camera stays on Big Boy who gets up, picks up a loose stone from the rock wall and starts after them. Camera pans him up to Althea and Alex. Althea turns, cries aloud and Alex turns, swinging. His fist catches Big Boy and knocks him against the low terrace wall. Big Boy disappears over the wall.
Slope below wall: Big Boy lands six feet down, rolls over and over.
Terrace: Alex is pulling Althea away from the wall.
Alex (panting): He was a sweet specimen! (He kicks the rock at his feel.) Look at that!
Althea (evenly): Let’s go.
Alex shies the slate over the wall and again picks up his book. They start along terrace.
Cafe: Althea, Mrs. Chilton and the nurse are taking their places in the limousine. Alex stands at the side.
Mrs. Chilton (indignant): I think we ought to report that man to the police.
Althea (leaning forward): Alex—
Alex (about to get in front): Yes?
Althea: Suppose he was badly hurt and lay down there all night?
Nurse: Serve him right.
Althea: No—I don’t like it. Go tell the waiter he—fell over the wall. (Alex looks at her, unwillingly.)
Alex: He had it coming.
Althea: Please. (Alex leaves the car.)
Mrs. Chilton (patting Althea’s hand): That’s my girl.
Althea (surprised): Thanks.
Steps of the inn: Alex is speaking to a waiter.
Mrs. Chilton: You see, Alex came in very handy.
Althea (smiling): Maybe he planned it.
Alex comes into the scene and gets into front seat.
Alex (to chauffeur): All right.
Traveling shot: Alex is turned around in his seat.
Alex (rather seriously): How long are you planning to stay in Florence?
Althea (leaning forward): Another week. Then we’re going home.
Alex: I was thinking—if that man’s hurt there might be a little mess.
Mrs. Chilton: For us?
Alex: This isn’t like America. They sometimes lock up witnesses for weeks.
Althea (without smiling): Are you proposing that we flee?
Alex has taken copy of The New York Herald from his pocket. He turns a page.
Alex: The Roma sails tomorrow from Genoa.
Althea (scoffing): I wouldn’t think of it. Mother isn’t ready to go.
Nurse: Mrs. Chilton is quite able to travel. She could stand it better than any police proceedings.
Alex (still frowning): As you like.
Nurse: When I was taking care of Lady—
Mrs. Chilton (interrupting): Gracious! One would think that I attacked the man!
Long shot. A European train racing through the night.
The Wagon Restaurant (dining car) on train: Alex and Althea are at dinner.
Flash of Chianti on table.
Althea: I don’t mind sailing a week early. (With feeling:) It’ll be grand to get home—but it’s the first time I ever ran away from anything in my life.
Alex: Once you ran away from me.
Althea: I didn’t—we wore out.
Alex: Your feeling about me wore out.
Althea (lowering eyes): Alex, I don’t like the past much. (He reacts and she sees she’s hurt him.) I’m sorry.
Alex: I can understand that. But a part of me lives in the past, you see. I have no bitterness—you might have married me. It was luck. It’s an accident who you marry—even whom you fall in love with. An important accident—but an accident—or at least a sort of photographic finish.
Althea: I don’t think so. I think I’d have found Nick—or I’d have spent the rest of my life vaguely looking for him.
Alex: You think so? Think there’s just one man for every woman? (He shakes his head and draws a circle on the tablecloth with his fork handle.) Your heart is like this.
Althea (pretending alarm): Gracious!
Alex: Well, like this. (He connects the circle to a heart and takes out a big handful of coins.) These are the men she’s known. (Dropping coins of different sorts inside the heart:) Here’s the boy in dancing school; here’s the policeman she thought was so beautiful; here’s her first love; here’s her husband, her—(He lets an American fifty-cent piece drop.)
Althea: I stop there. (She points to the fifty-cent piece.)
Alex (smiling and dropping more coins): These are just for illustration. Now a girl never gets rid of any of them. All their voices are always arguing in her mind—a great psychologist said that. But a man can love one woman exclusively. His heart’s like this. (Beside the heart he piles other coins, one on top of another in a stack.) First, here’s his mother. Here’s his nurse. Here’s the pretty little girl across the street. Here’s the one he took to a college dance. Each one tops the other, see—obscures her completely—until he gets the one he loves—(looks at Althea)—or loses her. Then the others after that don’t count. (He lets the last coins scatter loosely about the table.)
Althea (defiantly touching the fifty-cent piece in the heart): 1 don’t believe it, Alex.
Alex: It’s true—there’s a little part of you, no matter how small, how buried, that belongs to me.
Althea sweeps all the other coins out of the heart with her other hand.
Wharf in Genoa beside the Conte Biancamano: People embarking.
Group shot of Althea handing a coin to a newsboy. Alex is standing beside her. Mrs. Chilton and the nurse, in background, are watching porter pile baggage.
Alex and Althea look eagerly at the paper.
Alex (pointing): There it is.
Insert of Italian paper (in Italian—don’t dissolve to English):
“AMERICANS IN FRACAS.
Florence, May 28th, 1931.
Two Americans engaged in a fracas in a restaurant this afternoon, and one of them, Signor S. Johnson, suffered a broken arm. His opponent in the trouble was not identified…”
Alex: He only broke his arm. Good! We can go on our ways with nothing on our consciences. I was the only real victim.
The horn of the boat blows loudly and four sad little boys, two with guitars, rush into the scene and surround them.
Ad Lib (in Italian): A parting song—We know American songs—A farewell for good luck—Happy marriage—
Alex (to boys): We’re not married.
Boy (in Italian): A lover then.
Boy (shrugging his shoulders): Male fortuna.
The boys play a few chords of Santa Lucia and then suddenly launch into The Music Goes ’Round and Around.
Althea (taking Alex’s arm; excitedly): Alex, that’s home—that’s home.
The First Act may be said to end here
A nightclub in New York, gay but not fashionable. Perhaps the Pennsylvania Roof with only a few men in formal clothes.
Two-shot of Nicolas and Iris dancing. His expression is entertained, if not absorbed—hers is frank adoration.
The music stops and the camera follows them to a table close at hand beside the floor.
Two-shot of Nicolas and Iris at table.
Iris (continuing a conversation): Oh, I used to cut pictures of you out of the paper Last summer you gave a party for a real queen in your house at Westbury.
Nicolas: She was a very silly queen.
Iris (nodding approvingly): But it suited you. You always said you’d be rich some day, and every time you made a step up I was glad. I wondered if you did all the things you wanted to do—have you got a room with stars on the ceiling?
Nicolas (smiling): I think we did have once.
Iris: Once they had your drawing room in Town and Country and Althea’s—Mrs. Gilbert’s—bedroom. I’ve been ah through it in my imagination—many times.
Nicolas (impetuously): Come up and I see the apartment. What could be more harmless?
Iris (quite honestly): Oh no—it would spoil me. If I get married, my sitting room, my bedroom have got to seem the best in the world.
Nicolas (grown a little careless): You’re very welcome—the guest room is yours.
Iris (dreaming of splendor): The guest room!
Nicolas (loyally): You’re just the kind of guest I’d like to have. And Althea would, too, if she knew you. Come for the weekend.
Iris (entranced): That would be-extraordinary.
Nicolas (delighted at her facet): It’s a deal. Shall we dance?
Interior of a limousine: Afternoon. Rain outside. Nicolas is alone in the seat.
A Voice: Mr. Gilbert.
Nicolas (picking up earphone): Yes, Charles.
Shot showing chauffeur through the glass.
Charles’s Voice: Your raincoat’s in the compartment.
Nicolas: Oh, thanks.
Leaning forward, he opens the compartment, bringing to light also Althea’s rubbers and little umbrella. He reacts strongly to this—not very pleasantly—feeling that this is her domain, their world together and now someone else is coming into it.
The limousine stops in front of a big apartment. Nicolas gets out and the camera follows him in.
Apartment: Nicolas is coming into the drawing room, taking off his gloves. Starks meets him and hands him the evening paper.
Starks: Good afternoon, sir. (he starts to turn away.)
Nicolas (embarrassed): Starks, I want to speak to you a minute.
Starks: Yes, sir.
Nicolas: Starks, you can—you can go off this weekend. I’m going away.
Starks: Oh, thank you, sir. We’ve had such an easy time since Madame left. We’ll be right here if you need us. (He starts off scene.)
Nicolas (a little embarrassed): No, I mean you go off duty. Go away to Atlantic City for a change. You and your wife and the maid too. Get a change. Get a rest.
Starks: Oh, no thank you, sir. My wife and I have plans right here in New York. Perhaps the maid wants to go. I’ll—
Nicolas (interrupting): Starks!
Starks (surprised): Yes, sir.
Nicolas (stubbornly, defiantly, yet scarcely able to meet Starks’s eye): I told you what I wanted.
Starks (amazed—drawing a long breath): Yes, sir.
Nicolas: It’s perfectly all right.
Starks: Oh, I don’t doubt it, sir.
Starks goes. Nicolas stares at the floor.
The same room: An agency butler—not impeccable like Starks—is going through to answer the doorbell. Camera follows him to the door where he admits Nicolas and Iris.
Nicolas: Good morning. Did Miss Jones’s bags arrive?
Butler: Yes, sir, right after I did.
Nicolas: In the guest room?
Butler: Yes, sir—is there anything else, Mr. Gilman—Gilbert?
Iris, who has been staring about wide-eyed, catches this and reacts in a close-up. First her eyes narrow with fright as she realizes this is a strange servant, then she looks from the butler to Nicolas.
Two-shot, favoring Nicolas. He looks imperturbable. He doesn’t want to discuss this.
Close-up of Iris: The first sense of guilt changes to a slight lift of the brows and shoulders—complete acceptance of the situation.
Nicolas’ Voice (over this shot): Nothing else.
Group shot of the butler retiring. Iris is taking Nicolas’arm, confident again, determined to enjoy.
Iris: This is how you live. (She stares again and speaks half seriously as Nicolas takes her coat.) What do you talk about, the furniture?
Nicolas: Yeah—and the wallpaper and how stifled we are by it all.
Iris (not smiling): Seriously—what do you talk about—art and music?
Nicolas (joking): Constantly. Even in our sleep. (Looks at her): Are you serious?
Nicolas (apologetic): Well, we talk about everything—politics, our friends, Althea has a weakness for string quartets—and I collect pictures of dogs down at the country house.
Iris: Are there any string quartets tonight?
Nicolas (taken aback): Now? I suppose so—at Carnegie Hall.
He picks up the paper—glances at her quizzically—sits down and opens the paper.
Group shot of a block of seats at Carnegie Hall, favoring Nicolas and Iris, the latter in a new dazzling dress.
We hear the last notes of a concerto, the lights come up, there is clapping and a buzz of conversation.
Nicolas: What do you say we trade the last number for a highball?
Iris nods, reaching back for her cape.
The Gilberts’apartment: The hall. Nicolas and Iris are coming in. He flips his silk hat on a table.
Medium shot of the drawing room: The camera picks them up coming in. Nicolas is just faintly flushed and rumpled. Iris, throwing aside her cape, goes to a pier glass and mounts a stool before it.
Nicolas and Iris flop down a few feet apart on a big overstaffed sofa.
Iris: Thanks. (Her hands shake.)
Iris: Not exactly. I don’t want to go to sleep. I don’t want it to be tomorrow.
Nicolas: You never liked tomorrow. When I used to talk about getting married, you’d always stop me.
Iris: I knew we never would.
Nicolas: This reminds me of another night too. (Iris nods.) You know the one I’m thinking of.
Iris: Don’t let’s talk about it.
Nicolas: Have you got unpleasant memories of it?
Iris: Oh no, no. You know I haven’t.
Nicolas: It was in June—hurdy-gurdies in the street.
Iris (pointing to an imaginary chair in front of her): You sat there (pointing to the couch) and I sat here. Only my furniture wasn’t much like this.
Nicolas: I sat there because I was frightened.
Iris: I wasn’t—I was never so sure in my life.
Nicolas: I didn’t sit there long. 1 came over—
Iris: No, you got up and first you turned off the electric fan.
Nicolas: Yes. (A pause—a gust of music from somewhere far off.) Listen—
Nicolas: I thought I heard something—hurdy-gurdies.
Iris: They don’t have them anymore. (Pause.)
Nicolas: I’m frightened now. (Pause.)
Iris: I guess now I’m frightened too.
They turn toward each other.
Iris: Old friends, Nick.
Nicolas: Old friends. Both very frightened.
The music again—but this time it is a hurdy-gurdy, playing far away in the street but easily distinguishable in the silence.
Iris (wonderingly): They do have them.
Their eyes meet—this time hopelessly melting, melting irresistibly toward each other.
The dining room of the apartment: Morning. Quiet except for a raucous whistle from the pantry. A Persian cat dozes on a chair in a beam of sunshine.
Iris, in street clothes, enters and makes a short tour of the room, examining the silver on the buffet.
Close-up of Iris bending forward, looking.
Close-up of a big tankard on which is engraved, “Althea from Dick and Marion.”
Medium shot of Iris seeing the cat.
Iris: Hello, pussy, pussy.
The cat looks at her, makes up its mind and dashes quickly for the kitchen as if a dog were after it. At the pantry door it almost upsets the agency butler, carrying a breakfast tray. He curses silently and sets the tray on the table. ’
Iris: Good morning.
Butler (a German, both sanctimonius and impertinent): Good morning. (He turns on the radio, picks up the tray, and hesitates by the head of the table.) Where are you going to sit?
Nicolas’ Voice: Right there.
Camera pans to Nicolas coming into the room, his face mask-like, his eyes just faintly bothered. Camera pans him up to the table. As he starts to sit down, the radio, now warmed up, plunges into a loud jazz tune—the same tune they danced to at the Biltmore, but now raucous and jangling.
Nicolas: And turn that off!
Butler turns to the radio, lowers the volume and turns back to the table.
Nicolas (quietly): I said off.
Butler (mumbling as he obeys): Kind of cheerful.
Two-shot of Nicolas and Iris at table. Nicolas is conscious of the disrespect but can only disregard it. The butler serves them plates of ham and eggs.
Nicolas (to Iris): Hungry?
Iris: Not very. I’m thinking of my plans. My train goes at one.
Nicolas looks sideways at the butler: the butler turns and goes to the pantry.
Two-shot of Nicolas and Iris.
Nicolas: You’re really going home?
Iris: Oh yes—really this time.
Nicolas’hand falls affectionately on hers. The gesture is not quite natural now, though, and both their hands move away. There is a little constraint between them.
Iris: You’ve given me a wonderful lime.
Nicolas: I’m glad. (He does not seem quite glad, in spite of his effort.)
Iris: I’ve always wanted to go behind the scenes—and see how it was. Now I have.
Nicolas (eating): Mm-hm.
Iris (thoughtfully): Nicolas—I want to remember this—but I want to think you’ll forget—just as if it never happened.
Iris: Yes—I want you to remember four years ago, but not this time. Pretend you dreamed it.
Nicolas: Eat some breakfast.
Iris: Yes. (She turns to her plate.)
Close-up of Iris: Her eyes look down, then look up again, then stare.
Two-shot of Iris and Nicolas. Nicolas looks up and sees Iris’expression. As he starts to turn and see what she is staring at, the camera drops them and pans very slowly around room, including the side-board, passing it and reaching the door.
Althea, motionless, stands in the door-way, regarding them. We are seeing her in a medium shot from their angle and we hold on it a moment.
Two-shot of Nicolas and Iris from Althea’s angle: Their faces are shocked and staring.
Medium shot of Althea from their angle: She turns very slowly and disappears from the doorway.
Two-shot of Nicolas and Iris: Nicolas gets up, his lips saying, “My God,” soundlessly.
The door to the pantry: The butler is standing wide-eyed, looking into the din-ins room.
Full shot of the drawing room: Althea walks rapidly through, toward front hall and door.
The hall of the apartment: Two porters have just brought in her baggage and set it down. She walks directly past them and out the door into the hall.
The drawing room: Nicolas has just entered from the dining room, looking left and right.
The outside hall: Althea is standing with her hand on elevator bell. The elevator stops. It is empty—she walks in and the door closes.
The dining room of the apartment: Iris is standing beside the table, her napkin crushed in her hand, her face stricken and aghast. The agency butler has already begun to take off the dishes with a wise expression on his face.
Butler (touching her plate): Through?
Iris does not see him. Her head shakes helplessly from side to side.
Park Avenue: Morning. The camera trucks in front of Althea as she walks, looking straight ahead.
Cross street: Althea walking.
Another street: Althea walking.
A corner: A first close shot of Althea as she hesitates, not knowing where to go. Her eyes are dazed and staring as she hails a taxi. It drives up.
Plaza Hotel: Althea is getting out of the taxi.
Desk of the hotel: Althea and clerk.
Althea: My mother, Mrs. Chilton, has her same rooms?
Clerk (smiles): Oh yes, Mrs. Gilbert. She’s all settled.
The lobby: The camera pans Althea to the elevator. Its door opens and passengers go in. Althea hesitates.
Boy: Going up?
Althea shakes her head and turns away. Camera trucks with her to door and picks her up coming out.
Outside hotel: Althea hesitates; her face is set, expressionless. Suddenly her hands go to her face, come down just as quickly. She starts off scene. Camera trucks before her along Fifty-ninth Street. She passes a sign, “Antoine: Coiffeur des Dames.” The camera picks up Althea approaching along the street. Her eyes fall on the sign and, still expressionless, she turns in, the camera turning with her and following her inside.
Antoine’s: By the desk. Althea is taking off her hat. The woman at the desk greets her respectfully.
Clerk: Well, Mrs. Gilbert. It’s good to see you.
Althea (concentrating with difficulty): I want to get—a wave—and a shampoo.
The woman has come around the desk. She looks Althea over.
Clerk: Let’s see—you have Emile.
She puts her hand toward Althea’s hair.
Clerk (surprized). Why you—why it looks as if you’d just had a wave.
Althea starts. Her face is reflected in a pier glass as she passes her hand over her hair.
Althea’s Voice: Why, yes—I had a wave on the boat.
Her reflection disappears from the glass.
Clerk’s Voice: Would you like anything else, Mrs. Gilbert?
The clerk stares at the door.
Interior of a taxi: Nicolas and Iris, both in control of themselves now but utterly miserable.
Nicolas: You’ll make it all right.
Iris: I’m not worried about the train—(Her voice breaks.} Oh, Nicolas, what have I done to you? (She sobs aloud.)
Nicolas: Please, Iris, you were always a brave girl. You weren’t to blame and everything will straighten itself out somehow.
Interior of Grand Central: Nicolas and Iris are standing beside a chair car. A porter is handing Iris back a stub. She opens her purse to put it in and something flutters out unnoticed.
Porter: All aboard! You dropped something.
Iris and Nicolas embrace.
Iris: Oh, darling, I’m so sorry.
She disappears into the vestibule of the car which begins to move immediately. The porter, swinging from the handrail, points to Nicolas’feet. After a moment, Nicolas stoops and picks it up.
Insert: The program of a nightclub.
Interior of the Gilberts’drawing room: Dusk. A big window opening on the city. Nicolas is sitting near the window in the darkness but he is not immediately visible. When the doorbell rings, we see his leg move off a chair. Then his figure blocks out the window and he stands motionless as we hear a key in the lock.
The hall: As the door opens, Althea, very weary, is momentarily visible against the lights of the outer hall. She comes in, dosing the door behind her.
Nicolas’ Voice: Althea!
Shooting into the drawing room, we see her figure approach his—then she melts into the darkness on one side and he on the other.
Nicolas: I’ll turn on the lights.
Althea: Never mind… I like the dark better.
Shooting from the window—a little light falls on each of them—enough to see his utter misery—her fatigue and despair.
Nicolas: I want you to know that this meant nothing to me. (Pause.) Nothing at all.
Althea: Was she in my room?
Nicolas: No, never. (Pause.) She was someone I knew a long time ago, many years ago.
Althea: I don’t want to talk about it.
Nicolas: We always said we’d never go to bed angry.
Shooting toward the window with Nicolas and Althea invisible.
Althea: If you talk about it, I’ll go to a hotel. (Pause.)
Nicolas: Did you bring your mother back with you?
Nicolas: I didn’t expect you for a week—I suppose you meant to surprise me.
Althea: Yes. (Pause.)
Nicolas: Do you want to go out for supper?
Althea: No, I’m going to bed in a minute.
His shadow crosses the light suddenly. His head is against the window as he kneel at her feet.
Shooting at them from window, they faces dimly visible.
Althea (with quiet scorn): You fool.
Althea: I tied myself to a fool—a fool who threw us away.
A silent montage, showing the following flashes—each one a reminiscence of our first sequence which showed the state of affairs between Althea and Nicolas:
(a) Nicolas and Althea at table on a club veranda or racing pavilion. An unheard question from him—a polite lifting of the eyebrows from her.
(b) Nicolas and Althea in an open car—Nicolas driving, the road throwing them together, Althea coolly but not too obviously moving away.
(c) Nicolas and Althea in a hotel corridor outside two doors. With them a bell-boy with bags. Both pointing out which bags for which room.
Then, faster flashes:
(d) Like (a) but in a hotel dining room.
(e) Like (b) but in a taxi.
(f) An empty corridor—two doors across from each other being closed.
Over this montage comes:
Nicolas’ Voice: She doesn’t happen to believe in divorce. She offered me a divorce.
Harrison’s Voice: I should think that would be much the best thing..
Nicolas’ Voice (wearily): I suppose so—after two years.
Nicolas’present office. A two-shot of the two men talking. Nicolas’hair is mussed, Harrison is half through a cigar. Shot favors Nicolas.
Nicolas: Still—still, you can’t tell—(he does not smile nor change expression but a beam of light from the window falls on his face) this morning she seemed very friendly. Came to the door with me, waved her handkerchief…
The Gilberts’breakfast room: Althea’s at phone; Starks picks up her handkerchief from the floor and puts it on the table beside her. He removes a tray and goes off the scene.
Althea (at phone): Naturally I’m excited, Alex—I didn’t know you were in this country—or are you? Would you like to drive down to the country for the weekend? (Pause.) No, our place isn’t open this year—these are some friends. (Pause.) Be ready at two then. I’ve got to visit my hospital on the way.
Close shot of Alex Aldrich at a telephone.
Alex: All right, Althea. Good-bye.
He hangs up and turns as camera pull-back to show the sitting room of a large hotel suite. Mrs. Chilton sits in a wheel-chair close by.
Alex (to Mrs. Chillton: Contact established.
Mrs. Chilton: Good.
Alex: I’d like to know a little more.
Mrs. Chilton: I don’t know anything more. I don’t know how young couples live nowadays, I don’t know what Nicolas did and she has never enlightened me. I only know that it’s all terribly wrong—bare and cheerless and wrong. I’d rather see her run away with a Chinaman than live this life.
Alex (laughing): Am I to be the Chinaman?
Mrs. Chilton: You? 1 don’t know what you’re to be.
Alex: You sent for me.
Mrs. Chilton: I promised I would. (Pause.) Perhaps I thought you could make her smile again—not with just her lips—in her heart.
During this speech the English nurse has entered in background with a small medicine glass which she hands to Mrs. Chilton. Mrs. Chilton waves it away.
English Nurse: Please.
Mrs. Chilton (to nurse): You think you have established a certain dominance over me.
English Nurse: Please.
Mrs. Chilton drinks the medicine. Alex rises.
Alex: I needn’t tell you my motives are entirely selfish, Mrs. Chilton.
Mrs. Chilton (making a wry face at the medicine): All right.
The nurse goes off-scene with glass.
Alex: I’m glad you’re in good health.
Mrs. Chilton: Go on—meet Althea—run away with her if she’ll run—beat her, make love to her, wake her up.
Alex: It sounds like quite an order.
He nods, lakes up his hat, and the camera pans him toward the door.
Close shot of Mrs. Chilton: As the door closes, the nurse comes back into the scene.
Nurse: Now—you’ve done what you wanted. You can relax.
Mrs. Chilton: Spanking is probably the thing for Althea—sometimes children should be spanked for being right.
Nurse: You mean for being wrong.
Mrs. Chilton: 1 said for being right.
A gasoline station where the motor parkway comes out on Long Island: Rural background with establishing signs such as SOUTH LONG ISLAND DEVELOPMENT COMPANY. A beautiful, big roadster conies to an abrupt stop; Althea is at the wheel, Alex beside her. An attendant comes into shot.
Althea: Fill it up, please.
Close two-shot of Alex and Althea.
Althea: There’s nothing mysterious about my attitude—I’m simply through. And I’m the kind of person that when I’m through, I’m through.
Alex: Do you mean also that you’re through with love?
Althea: I wouldn’t be surprised.
Alex: That would be a pity.
Althea: Alex, about two years ago, I froze up in a cake of ice—I didn’t know then I was never coming out of it.
Insert sign: HOSPITAL ZONE. NO HORNS.
The roadster is going in the gateway of a hospital. It is a modern, suburban hospital—two-story brick, definitely located in the country. The roadster stops at the front steps. Alex and Althea get out.
Althea (pausing, turning around): We gave them this land—our place is next door.
A montage shows:
(a) Alex and Althea walking along a corridor, accompanied by a deferential doctor in civilian clothes.
(b) Alex and Althea in a baby ward pausing beside several beds.
(c) Alex and Althea in a ward for older children. We note her very alive interest and also that she is a favorite with the hospital attendants and with several children she knows.
A playroom for convalescent children: A radio is playing soft music. Alex and Althea stand watching. Her smile seems softer suddenly in this scene—for the first time since we saw her on the dock in Genoa.
A nurse in white comes into the shot and up to Althea.
Nurse: Dr. Janzen will be in his office whenever you want to see him, Mrs. Gilbert. Something came up that prevents his joining you.
Althea nods, the smile still on her face, and turns toward the door.
The superintendent’s office: Dr. Janzen, an elderly physician, sits behind his desk, flanked by the superintendent of nurses, a white-haired woman. He is holding a little trial. Before him, with a gauze mask still hanging from him as if he had just finished operating, stands Dr. Paul Borden, assistant resident in surgery, an extremely attractive young man. His face at the moment wears a mocking, devil-may-care expression—he has been caught out and there’s nothing much he can do about it.
This group shot includes also a young probation nurse collapsed in an easy chair beside the head nurse. Her sniffling sob is the first sound we hear in the scene. Then Dr. Janzen pushes his chair back.
Dr. Janzen: Dr. Borden, we have no criticism of you professionally. You are, you can be, a surgeon of the highest order, but the hospital is not the place tor the exercise of—let us say, personal charm. I have warned you before. I am sorry to say that your residence in surgery is terminated.
Silence. The probationer sobs. The camera favors Dr. Borden, and we see disappointment, resentment and then a mocking insolence come into his face as he tries to think what to say. We get the impression that he is a gentleman but also that he is a wild man who is going to do nothing about the harm he has caused.
Dr. Borden: Very well. I suppose there is no one I can appeal to.
Dr. Janzen: I am the final authority in this matter.
Corridor outside: Alex and Althea.
Nurse knocking at door.
Full shot of superintendent’s room; a door opens at the far end.
Group shot of the nurse, Althea and Alex entering.
Group by the desk: Dr. Borden snaps off his gauze mask, twirls it on his finger and turns away. Simultaneously Dr. Janzen gets up, looking off scene at Althea.
Full shot of the room: Althea and Alex are coming toward the desk from one door. Dr. Borden goes away from desk toward another door. Scene should be shot so that Althea approaches the desk without seeing his face, which has turned in the other direction as he goes out.
Close shot of Dr. Borden, half stopping, looking back at Althea.
Group shot. Althea, coming up to the doctor at the desk, does not see Borden.
Althea: Afternoon, Dr. Janzen.
Close shot of Dr. Borden eyeing her appraisingly, approvingly. Obviously his interest in women transcends his interest in surgery. We like him forever for his refusal to let the dismissal get him down.
Dr. Janzen’s Voice (over shot): Good afternoon. Mrs. Gilbert.
Full shot of the room: Althea is shaking hands at desk, Dr. Borden turns and continues on out. Head nurse leads probationer out.
Althea: This is Mr. Aldrich, Dr. Janzen.
Group shot around desk.
Dr. Janzen: How do you do—Mr. Aldrich. (He flinches and looks off scene at sound of door shutting.)
Dr. Janzen: We have just made another unfortunate discovery that human frailty intrudes itself even into hospitals. (Bad line.) He motions her to a chair.
Squash court of the racket club. New York music.
Full shot of Nicolas and Harrison Gilbert finishing a game.
Close shot of Nicolas making a last successful stroke.
Nicolas: I’d still rather beat you than anybody I know.
The locker room: Nicolas and Harrison are dressing.
Nicolas: What kind of a party do you want—or if you don’t want a party—what?
Harrison (not looking at Nicolas): Couldn’t we pick up Althea?
Nicolas (casually but a little tensely): Althea is way down in the country on a weekend. And if I suddenly showed up there, nobody would be any more surprised than Althea. (Pause, then speaking in a softer voice:) After all, give me credit for a little pride. I don’t follow her around like a poodle dog.
Harrison: Excuse me.
Nicolas: Well then what’ll we do? The town is yours—what’s your taste—are you a rich big cattleman come to town? Or we can look up some of our old friends in Westchester—Chuck Havemyer or the Graces——
Harrison: If you must know, I like the rich big cattleman.
Nicolas: Well, everyone to his taste. A few months ago, I took a piece of a show for a bad debt; I’ve never asked any favors yet.
Inner office of Cudy Gray, theatrical manager: Comfortable Broadway atmosphere. A secretary has just ushered in Nicolas and his brother.
Secretary: Mr. Gray will be with you in two minutes, Mr. Gilbert.
She goes out. The two men sit down in armchairs.
Harrison: You sure we want the whole company?
Nicolas: You’re not used to our city ways, stranger.
Harrison: We’ll have to hire a ballroom.
Nicolas: I’ve got an even better idea, Harry. (He leans forward.) Two years ago there was a poor girl that wanted to see how the rich lived, so I threw my apartment open to her in a magnificent gesture.
Harrison (ironically): Yes.
Nicolas: Now I have an idle house on Long Island, inhabited only by bats, mice—and ghosts. In your honor I shall throw it open to the public tonight—the more attractive pan of the public, that is.
The door: A clamor of voices and it flings open, projecting three attractive chorus girls into the room.
Full shot of room: Seeing the two strange men, the girls stop, their expressions change, their chatter stops.
First Girl: Oh, excuse us! (They turn and scamper out.)
Nicolas (a little strained): You see—telepathy told them there was a party in the air—but what a party—they still don’t know that a fleet of Rolls-Royces is going to carry them out to Long Island, that a dozen caterers—
Harrison: Hold on now. You’re going pretty far for a country hoy like me. How would Althea like this?
Nicolas: I just hadn’t even thought of Althea—for two years I’ve done nothing but think of Althea—and talking it out of my system this morning seems to have done something to me.
Harrison: You give a blowout like this and she’ll hear about it.
Nicolas: I don’t doubt it! But I doubt she cares a snap what I do. (He stands up.) I think I’ll call the caretaker right now. (He picks up the phone on the desk.)
Interior of a gatekeeper’s lodge on Long Island: The caretaker in character-type, but not comic) is on the phone. His wife is beside him.
Caretaker: Yes, certainly, Mr. Gilbert—of course this is rather sudden notice—
He listens, hangs up, turns to his wife.
Caretaker: He hung up.
Sound of an auto horn off scene. The caretaker and his wife look toward the windows.
Exterior of the caretaker’s lodge: The gate and entrance of a big estate. Althea’s car, with Althea and Alex, is coming to rest.
Medium shot including the car: The caretaker and his wife are coming out of the cottage. This arrival, following upon the telephone call, disconcerts them both.
Two-shot of Althea and Alex in car.
Althea (ironically): This is the castle we built—up there in the trees somewhere.
Alex: Can we drive up?
Althea: I don’t think we want to.
Camera pulls back to show caretaker and wile coming up to car.
Althea: Hello, Mrs. Barnes. Hello, Peter.
Caretaker: How do you do.
Wife: It’s nice to see you, Mrs. Gilbert.
Althea: Mr. Aldrich—he’s thinking of renting the place.
Alex: Don’t you believe it?
Althea: You ought to settle down sometime.
Alex: With whom?
Althea: I’ll marry you sooner or later—I can’t go on being the thwarted woman forever.
During this passage the caretaker and his wife have exchanged an uneasy glance.
Althea: Just stopping for a moment—what’s the news?
Caretaker: Everything as usual. We keep hoping that—
Althea (interrupting): Dogs in the kennels? Geese in the pond?
Wife (impulsively): We wish you’d come down, Mrs. Gilbert, if only for a weekend sometime.
A look from her husband stops her; they obviously know of the rift and aren’t talking out of turn.
Peter: You wouldn’t like to look around now? Your own garden is beautiful, Mrs. Gilbert, the beds you planted that spring—
Close-up of Althea pushing the car roughly into gear, her face hardening.
Althea: I’ll come out sometime. We’re expected over in Wheatly Hills. (She begins to back out.)
The forecourt of another palatial country house: The roadster is coming to rest, A footman comes down the steps, bows and goes to the luggage compartment. Althea and Alex get out.
The gravel court: The camera picks up three riders, two men and a woman, and pans them up to Alex and Althea. The riders dismount—they are chic, fashionable people of middle age.
Mrs. Waters (the horsewoman): Darling! (She and Althea embrace.)
One of the men kisses Althea’s face in friendly fashion and Mrs. Waters shakes hands silently with Alex, retaining his hand.
Ad Lib (Mrs. Waters, joking): So nice of me to ask you.
Althea: And Mr. Aldrich—so good of us to come—Mr. Truby and Mr.—?
Mrs. Waters: Lamb. I think. (She drops Alex’s hand.)
Mr. Lamb (stuttering): Lam? Yes—Lamb—Lamb.
Truby (shaking hands with Alex): Lamb.
Alex (acknowledging): Lamb.
Althea: We’re here to be alone, darling. Mister Aldrich is my oldest love—I mean my first love.
They all reappraise Alex out of the corner of their eyes.
Alex: Mrs. Waters, I’d like to be kept in sight every minute. (With sudden recognition.) Your name wasn’t Marion Ford?
Mrs. Waters: Yes—I remember you at Aiken in 1932.(To Althea:) You say you want him alone?
Althea: Marion, that was my statement.
Mrs. Waters: Well, if you need any help, Mr.—(Turns to Lamb.)
Mrs. Waters: Mr. Lamb is a patent lawyer.
Lamb: A-a-d-divorce lawyer.
Mrs. Waters: I mean a divorce lawyer—it’s the same thing, isn’t it? (To Althea.) Darling—we’ll leave you absolutely alone.
The grounds of Mrs. Waters’estate: Twilight, just before dinner. Full shot of an open glade twenty feet across, bounded at both ends by trees. Alex Aldrich, in dinner coat, comes into scene, walks across the glade and disappears. Althea, in filmy evening dress, comes into sight, following him. She also goes off scene.
Sundial with bench: Alex comes into the scene and sits down on a sundial with a bench. Althea appears—whereupon he rises and with an air of mock ennui, starts off scene.
Althea: Why are you avoiding me?
Alex (stops): I find you repulsive.
Althea: Well, this will be a lesson to me.
She sits down on the bench; Alex sits beside her. He puts his arm around her and draws her close.
Althea: Shall I risk my dinner makeup? (They kiss.)
Alex (sentimental): It’s been a long time.
Althea: Yes—seven years—too long.
Alex (sentimentally): Much too long.
Althea: I didn’t mean that way. I meant too long to—kiss me again. (He starts.) No, don’t.
Alex: I’ve waited seven years—I can wait a little longer.
Althea (taking compact from bag): Rouge on your face. (She hands him a little mirror.) I wonder what kind of life we’d have.
Alex: I have no idea—I can promise you nothing beside my deathless devotion
Althea: Would I fall in love with you?
Alex (after a pause): Possibly you’ve had your big love.
Alex: So possibly you don’t bring me every possibility. The ghost of another man—
Althea (low and passionate): The one thing in the world I know is that I’ll never go back to that, never want it again, never want a repetition of it. 1 had thai love and it was no good and I’ve killed it so dead. (She gets up.)
Backstage at a New York musical show: Full shot of girls coming off after a number.
Group shot of Harrison (evening clothes) taking to it naturally, not the Broadway Johnny, not handling the girls, but talking to two or three with easy familiarity.
Group shot of Nicolas and Gray, the producer, a little to the side, talking to the male and female leads, attractive, really sympathetic types. Nicolas, perched on a stage prop, is a little aloof and detached. This isn’t quite his sort of thing but he is enjoying it like a children’s party. His manner to Alice Duff, the actress, is deferential and polite.
Alice Duff (looking off): Half those girls have broken dates to go.
Nicolas: I wanted them to bring their dates.
Alice: You’re very generous.
Gray: I’ll tell them that.
Nicolas: I want to use my house before I sell it. There won’t be such houses much longer.
Alice: I never understood what you’d do with a big house unless you had a thousand children.
Nicolas: Nothing but vanity. Or else sometimes you think you’re so much in love that your love could fill the biggest palace conceivable.
Male Lead: Sometimes you haven’t gut enough to fill one room.
As they laugh he gets his cue and goes off scene.
Mrs. Waters’house: A big staircase rises from a central hall. Two rooms open from it at either side, showing people at bridge. There is radio music throughout the scene.
Alex and Althea are mounting the wide steps side by side, but separated laterally by five feet. We see them take several slow steps in unison when Mr. Lamb comes into the scene and runs up the steps until he is between them.
Lamb: I s-say—is there really any p-possibility of your needing a——
Alex: A what?
Lamb: A d-d-divorce lawyer.
Althea: You can leave your name.
Lamb: Lamb. Gordon H.—L-A—
Althea and ALEX (together): Lamb.
Lamb: I can fix things up overnight.
Alex: We’ll let you know.
Lamb: I arranged the Perkins divorce and the Oberton divorce and——
Althea: We’ll let you know.
Lamb: French divorces and M-Mexican divorces and even a Russian divorce. I can refer you to Mrs. Carpenter, now Mrs. Kohlsatt, or, no, now Mrs. Bannister. Her mother, formerly Mrs. Bronson, is now Mrs. Cain and she married Harry Crandall. I arranged his divorce from—
At this point at the top of the stairs, Althea stops walking—the others also stop. The camera favors her.
Althea (strain in her voice, a sudden flash of tears in her eyes): They all seem to have hated each other, didn’t they?
Hold on her a moment. Then Alex and Althea start to walk on, leaving Mr. Lamb staring.
Full shot of a pleasant small sitting room: For a moment it is empty, then two doors, one at either side, open and Alex and Althea peer into the room. Both are dressed as in previous scene.
Althea: Good grief! She’s given us a suite.
Alex: So it appears.
Althea: A little obvious—oh, it’s all a little obvious, Alex, you and me. 1 can’t go to sleep—I’m going out to ride—ride to China.
Alex: That sounds fine. The roadster tears along in the moonlight, Althea at the wheel.
Interior of a luxurious limousine: Nicolas, Alice Duff and Gray—the latter holds Alice’s hand.
Alice: The natives must think there’s a circus parade going through.
Nicolas: We’re almost there. A road: Full moonlight, woods in the background. Althea brings the car to a stop
Alex: Where are we?
Althea (carelessly): Where we were this afternoon. This is our land. The hospital’s a mile farther on. The hospital—that’s all I’ve got to show for our marriage.
Alex: That’s your difficulty, Althea—you’ve got to forget your marriage.
Althea: I have.
Alex: In a way. But—it’s just like coming here now—all roads seem to lead back to it. Well, then why can’t you go back farther still. Once you and I were happy. This isn’t the first moonlight we’ve sat in. He has put his arm around her and he draws near her. She submits to his kiss, at first with a show of enthusiasm, then with her arm going limp on his shoulder. He leans back.
Close shot of Althea’s face.
Althea: What’s the use, Alex? It must be like kissing a monument. I’m awfully fond of you but something is dead. Blame it on me, Alex.
Alex (desperately): Nothing is dead. You just won’t let yourself go. You’re letting yourself dry up. Your mother said- (He stops himself.)
Althea (quickly): My mother—have you been talking to her?
Alex: Yes, she sent for me. She loves you. She thinks what everyone else thinks, that, you’re a fool, a stubborn little fool. If your marriage is finished, why don’t you get out of it, start over? Why do you want to drag the past along with you everywhere, like an ugly old dress you can’t bear to throw away.
Althea: Stop nagging at me—go away—leave me alone.
Alex: I will go away. (He gets out of the car—she scarcely notices.) This is the end as far as I’m concerned. I’m going right out of your life as soon as I can get a taxi to town. Which way is the hospital? He walks off in the darkness. Close-up of Althea: She is sitting without moving, and looks up as she hears his voice.
Alex’s Voice: Please ask them to send my things to the Plaza.
Althea: I’m not going back but I’ll tell them.
Alex (on side of car): If you’re going to town, I’ll go with you.
Suddenly Althea starts the motor, throws the car into gear, wrenches the wheel and apparently drives the ear right straight into the woods. Then silence and trees have apparently swallowed her up. Close shot of the car coming to a stop: Althea jumps out, runs around the front and by the headlights, making sure these are tracks and ruts she is following. Then back into the car which starts off again with a lurch.
Close shot of Althea at the wheel, branches and leaves slapping against her face. The car stops and lights come to rest on a sign, on its side.
Insert sign: PRIVATE ROAD, NICOLAS GILBERT
Angle shot of the car starting, running against the sign and over it, bumping, bumping on and into a tree.
Close shot of the ear: Althea gets out of it and, utterly distraught, walks around into the headlights, raising her hands to her face as she walks.
Althea: Oh, my God! Help me! What shall I do? What can I do? (She starts as she hears a voice off scene.)
Voice: If an ordinary mortal can be of any assistance——
Althea feels no fright—she is utterly absorbed in her own emotions, the climax of her two-year struggle—as Dr. Paul Borden, in chamois vest and white trousers, walks into the scene. With sudden weakness she gives a little sob and collapses into his arms. He holds her for a moment, not recognizing her.
Althea: I’m sorry.
Borden: That’s all right.
Althea: I’m frightened.
Borden: Don’t be afraid of me.
Althea: Not of you—just frightened—hold me for a moment.
Borden: I’ve got a shack right here—can you walk?
Althea: Sure—if you hold me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a man’s arm supporting me.
A small cottage set in a clearing: Inside are lights and the sound of soft music.
About thirty feet from the door Borden and Althea sit down on a fallen tree.
Borden: Feel better? (His arm is still around her.) What’s the matter—drink a little too much and miss the road?
Althea (still dazed): That’s it, stranger. I’m drunk, drunk as an owl and I like it. (She snuggles in his arms.) I like it here.
Borden: You’re not a bit drunk. (Suddenly—half to himself.) And I know where I’ve seen you.
Althea: You’ve never seen me—and I am drunk. I’ll prove it. Would anybody kiss an absolute stranger if they weren’t drunk? Who are you anyhow?
Borden: At present, I’m one of the unemployed.
Althea: So am I—I used to be a wife. Now—I’m a great concern to everybody.
Borden: You’re a pretty devil.
Althea: Yes, I’m a pretty devil. I’ve heard that before. Don’t let me go.
Borden: I certainly won’t—unless I’m asked.
Althea: You’re entirely a creature of my imagination—and you’re very good-looking. And you don’t remind me of anything that’s past. (He nods understandingly.) If you haven’t got any girl of your own, you might even kiss me. (Borden starts to.) Wait a minute—a little while ago, I was a monument, but you get tired of being a monument.
Borden : Yes.
Althea: Now I’m not a monument—to anything. (He bends toward her.)
Boom shot: The grounds immediately around a palatial country house which blazes with light. Dance music.
Camera swings to the side lawn passing over a few people in evening clothes, lingers on a long buffet-bar with two or three caterer’s assistants dispensing champagne and light refreshment.
The camera swings on over an increasing number of people to an open, lighted pagoda, occupied by a big swing orchestra in full performance.
Continuing camera looks down at a wide, flat space on the lawn on which half a dozen caterer’s assistants are about to unroll a great canvas for dancing.
Thirty or forty people are cheering them on.
Ad Lib: Let her roll!
On with the dance!
Can I help!
As the canvas finally and swiftly unrolls there is a general cheer.
Immediately one man runs out of the crowd and performs an amazing Hide, and as if this is a signal, the canvas is invaded immediately by eager dancers.
Camera, now on the ground, takes a medium shot of the four permanent lanterns which illuminate the canvas at its four corners.
Camera moves to a closer shot and pans around the dancers and shows a bright, attractive crowd, some of the girls overdressed and blondined but no suggestion of an orgy.
Group shot of Harrison Gilbert, Cudy Gray, Alice Duff and a few others.
Harrison (very faintly high): I told them to play Chicago!
Gray (winking at Alice): Where are you from, Mr. Gilbert?
Harrison (incredulous): What? The camera picks up a waiter passing in front of them and follows him over the lawn toward the house.
The side porch of the house: The same waiter is entering wide double doors. Camera trucks with him into huge dining room with pictures covered with cloth. Waiters are making ready to serve a hot supper.
Camera drops waiter and trucks into magnificent front entrance hall. Great mirrors are covered with cloth, so is the top of a great table and some enormous Louis XIV chairs.
Close shot of a live mouse looking toward camera. Something startles him and he scampers to his hole a few feet away.
Medium shot of the bottom part of the banisters: One of the little Una Merkels slides into shot and reaches the floor, then another and another.
Flash of the little Una Merkels running upstairs again.
The upper hall, head of the staircase: The camera trucks before the three ponies down a wide corridor. Their eyes are wide and fascinated and as they walk they sing to the music outside and keep in step with linked arms.
One of them pauses and looks cautiously through a half-open door—the other two look over her shoulder.
Full shot of a lighted billiard room: Shooting over two covered tables including ball racks and scoring markers, to the door which keeps opening and shows the three ponies.
Close group shot of the three.
First Pony: Oh, it’s a pool hall. I thought they must do something to keep this place up.
Full shot of a bedroom, large and luxurious like everything else in this house. Soft lighting, everything covered with cloth or canvas.
Nicolas Gilbert is standing in the middle of the floor.
Close shot of Nicolas.
America was watching the Hardy movies, and loving them. Andy Hardy, Judge Hardy, and Mother were showing us the kind of America we wanted to see. The year was 1938, and the Hays Office, a censorship board under the rule of Joseph Breen, was perfecting our vision, with Hollywood’s willing consent. If Mr. Breen saw no reason why Walt Disney’s cows should I exhibit udders, it was not because Mr. Breen did not like movies. Mr. Breen saw a great many movies. Not infrequently, he saw scripts before they became movies. There was nothing wrong in this. Everyone—owners, producers, directors, writers, and Mr. Breen—was agreed it would be silly to turn a script into a movie if there were some basis to believe Mr; Breen might not like the movie. Or parts of it, anyhow. That’s why Hunt Stromberg, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s employer, showed Mr. Breen the script for Infidelity. The script was not yet finished, but it was finished enough to give Mr. Stromberg the notion that Mr. Breen might be displeased. And he was. Mr. Breen thought Mr. Stromberg and his employee, Mr. Fitzgerald, were making it look as if sin paid. It looked to Mr. Breen as if adultery were being rewarded. It looked to Mr. Stromberg, after Mr. Breen dismissed all arguments, that the whole affair was regrettable but nevertheless a bad job. So the script was not finished and the movie was not made. Thirty-five years later, what Mr. Fitzgerald had in mind about the breakup of an American marriage is seen here in print for the first time.
The copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald's contract for Fildelity script (March 24, 1938).
Published in Esquire magazine (December 1973).
Illustrations by unknown Esquire artist.