The Country Girl (1954) Movie Script

Here's a coffee, Bernie.
Coffee, Mr Cook?
Let's discuss it. Don't pout as if
I'd just taken away your tricycle.
I'm not pouting. I just disagree.
But Frank Elgin?
Let the doorman read for the part!
Phil, we've been in rehearsal
for five days.
Our leading man was dreadful. Maybe
I was the wrong director for him.
We let him go yesterday.
We do not have a replacement.
We open in Boston on the 28th.
We are in trouble.
- I can do without the sarcasm.
- Let me audition him for you.
Phil, there's no harm
in giving the man a reading.
I agree with you, but when
I wanted to read Ray Watson,
that was a waste of time,
and he's a better actor than Elgin.
A lot of guys can act or sing better,
but nobody can do both as well.
- What about Billy Hertz?
- He's pompous.
This isn't Student Prince
or Blossom Time.
The guy has to act while he's singing
and sing while he's acting.
In Lonesome Town, Elgin played
a part like this. He was magnificent.
- Ask Henry. He played the piano.
- When?
- Eight years ago.
- He didn't fall off bar stools then.
- He hasn't had a drink in ages.
- To a drunk, ten minutes is ages.
- I just want you to listen to him!
- All right, go ahead!
- As soon as Elgin comes in...
- He's here.
I didn't want to interrupt.
Send him in.
Now, Cookie, no cracks, please.
- What are you auditioning, owls?
- Hello, Frank. Bernie Dodd.
- How do you do?
- Our producer, Mr Cook.
- Hello. How are you?
- Paul Unger and Henry Johnson.
- Hey, Henry!
- It's been a long time.
I told him to write his own music.
You took my advice, huh?
- How's the family?
- Fine.
- Is your boy in high school?
- The Air Force.
- No!
- Yes, he is.
Let's get started.
I've got a luncheon date.
This is an offbeat show, a
dramatisation of The Land Around Us.
- You remember the book?
- Sure.
The boys have done
an exciting musical adaptation.
The music is part of the fabric,
woven in and out.
Keep the seats from getting dusty,
give them something different.
Yeah. Would you read
a couple of scenes for Mr Cook?
- There's one in the first act...
- Excuse me.
You were speaking of Lonesome Town.
Frank could do the Pitchman number.
That'd show Phil everything.
- All right.
- If I remember it. You sure you do?
I should. Eight performances a week
for a year and a half.
- Describe the number to Mr Cook.
- OK.
It wasn't much, really.
I played one of those pitchmen,
sort of a fanciful character.
Instead of selling a patent medicine,
I was selling a philosophy,
a sunshine salesman.
The scene was a New York
street corner, under a lamppost.
I had a... Is it OK
if I use this for a minute?
- Use anything you like.
- Thanks.
- When I made my entrance...
- OK, I get it. Get on with it.
I was carrying an imaginary valise,
one of those pitchman's outfits.
OK, Henry.
And then a crowd of sourpusses
began to gather round.
A left-handed Indian, this kid.
Friends, I have here in this valise
nostrums, cure-alls, panaceas,
unguents, oils and healing waters.
What did you say, son?
You say the valise is empty?
Son, this valise is loaded.
You're just looking at it,
and your windows are foggy.
What did you say?
You can't see nothing?
There's no trick in believing in
what you see.
The trick is believing in
what you can't see.
You've got to visualise
the indiscernible.
Every item in this valise belongs
to you as well as it does to me.
What's that you say, Officer?
Have I got a licence?
Just the greatest licence
in the world, poetic licence.
You been listening to my pitch?
We're going to the station house?
You got a desk sergeant
who's a little cantankerous?
Here's how we'll handle his case.
Share it among you, friends.
Tell them where you got it.
- You have a good beat for a writer.
- Fine, Frank.
You ought to hear it with
an orchestra. It's good and lousy.
- Wait outside for a second.
- I'm a little in the dark.
Is it a musical spot,
a small part or what?
It's the lead, Frank. The whole show
is built around this character.
Well, didn't it speak for itself?
He's probably been doing that
at dinner parties for ten years.
Did it prove he's worth
risking $200,000 on?
Did it prove he can carry a show?
Be sensible. That guy's been
in the pickle since you were a kid.
Someone took a chance with Laurette
Taylor in The Glass Menagerie.
Bernie, what are you trying to prove?
We've got a good book, good music.
Why can't you be satisfied
with a reliable, sober actor?
He'll give you
a reliable, sober performance.
That's not what people pay to see.
- You fought me over Danelli.
- I think you were wrong.
Instead of teaching an actor to box,
you teach a punch-drunk fighter
to act.
- He gave you a great performance.
- He gave us trouble, too.
If there was a fight at the Garden,
he wouldn't show up.
With Elgin, you'll get something
that happens once in 20 years.
I'll get it out of him.
- You're good, but not that good.
- People have always said that to me.
So now you're going to show them,
every one of them.
Directing doesn't satisfy you.
You want to take a corpse
and breathe life into it.
Maybe I'm crazy.
Doesn't this worry you guys?
- Not if it doesn't worry Bernie.
- He's too old for the part.
Hairpieces will make him look
ten years younger.
All right. Could we look for
someone else while he's rehearsing?
No, we don't let him go
without real cause,
a binge, or if he can't retain lines.
Give him a run-of-the-play contract.
- Wait a minute!
- I need his complete confidence.
No! I'll take a $40,000 loss before I
give him a run-of-the-play contract.
- OK, two weeks. Agreed, Paul? Henry?
- OK with me.
Frank? Frank Elgin?
- Elgin left.
- What do you mean?
- He left.
- Where? Coffee? What?
He just walked out. He didn't say.
Try the nearest bar.
- Mr Elgin in?
- No, he's not.
Mrs Elgin? I'd like to talk
to Frank. I'm Bernie Dodd.
I don't know when Frank will be back.
Mind if I wait?
- Would you like some coffee?
- No, thanks.
- Did Frank say when he'd be back?
- He didn't say where he was going.
- Didn't he say he had an audition?
- No.
I looked around after it was over,
but he'd gone.
- Will he do?
- That all depends.
If you're wondering if you can get
Frank for very little money, you can.
It doesn't depend on that.
Does he still drink?
Just what did you think
I would answer to that?
- Touch.
- What?
- Touch. In French, that means...
- Everybody knows what it means.
You're even younger than I thought.
You try to look like an old lady.
You shouldn't do your hair like that.
Some women pay too much attention to
themselves and some don't pay enough.
That's quite a pearl of wisdom.
May I quote you?
- How long have you been married?
- Ten years.
- Did you meet in a show?
- Look, Mr Dodd...
- Were you ever an actress?
- Not me, thank you.
I'm just a girl from the country.
The theatre and its people have
always been a complete mystery to me.
They still are.
Dreiser, Balzac, Montaigne.
Who reads these books?
I do.
I'm afraid to ask if you enjoy them.
Montaigne's too polite for me.
- That doesn't surprise me.
- Frank's old recordings?
Some new. There's one on the machine
he did last week.
A man with his talent.
It's degrading.
So is not eating.
Why didn't you wait?
I figured the boat had sailed.
The producer didn't like me.
Since when does a producer
have to love an actor?
I can't go to battle unless
everybody is rooting for me.
- Cook thinks you're a drinker.
- Not on a show.
Not according to Maxwell.
You worked for him in '46.
After a couple of months,
he had to replace you.
While I was playing in that show,
our son died.
What about this show? I need an actor
who can stay sober and learn lines.
Are you that actor or not?
Make up your mind.
Give me time. Cook wasn't
the only reason I left the theatre.
I wouldn't take a part like this
without talking it over with Georgie.
- I'll be back in ten minutes.
- He's afraid of the responsibility.
But the gamble's all on my side!
It's not a question of being afraid
of the responsibility.
The part's the whole show.
You said so yourself.
You're opening in Boston the 28th.
I don't think I could learn
the lines. You need Walter Huston.
It's bad enough to go to Hollywood
to cast. You suggest I go to heaven?
- You can do it, Frank.
- Why are you so sure?
When I was a hat-check boy,
you, Lunt and Jolson were my heroes.
- I know everything you've done.
- You exaggerate to make your point.
- Are you for him or against him?
- I'm his wife.
I want honesty from both of you.
Flattery is cheap.
How about a little costly truth?
I'm not blind to Frank's condition.
This room tells me what he is.
I'm not one of those nice people
who buys you a drink and that's it.
I won't leave you on a limb. We'll
work together and worry together.
But if you do me dirt, just once,
no pity, not a drop of pity.
No pity. I like that.
Now he knows what to expect.
- What contract do you offer?
- Standard two-week contract.
- You could let Frank out any time?
- Exactly.
He won't have confidence with
a two-week clause. Would you?
I have nothing in my mind
except for Frank to play this part.
That's sentiment again.
I come here with the best intentions.
Suddenly I find I'm victimising you.
- Did I bring you a basket of snakes?
- It's not the two-weeks clause.
I don't want to bite off
more than I can chew.
We're in Boston for two weeks.
We can stay out until you're perfect.
- Would you do that?
- I'd insist on it.
Talk it over with your agent.
Call the office by 3 p.m., no later.
Need a $20 bill?
You need it.
Why did you make that crack
about responsibility?
Why didn't you tell me
about that audition?
Because I wasn't sure
whether I could make it.
I must have walked up and down
47th Street a dozen times.
- Don't keep things from me.
- I can't do it, can I?
Of course you can. You've got to try.
It's a perfect opportunity.
If I do take it, Georgie,
I'll need you every step of the way.
I don't have any appointments,
Frank, all winter.
- I wish it were a run-of-the-play...
- Why didn't you tell him?
I didn't want to antagonise him.
I have to work with him.
You'll never get a better deal,
so take it and do your level best.
Wait a minute. The two-weeks clause.
They can give me notice any time,
but I can give them notice, too.
- I can walk out any time I want.
- You mean you can quit, Frank.
Not the way you mean it.
If the show doesn't pan out, I don't
want to come to New York in a turkey.
Maybe this time, it will work out.
Bernie likes me.
Henry Johnson's pulling for me.
It's Cook I got to worry about.
We've been having trouble, Joe.
Instead of fields of wheat,
we got stubble rotting in the dust.
I've talked it over with Stella.
We're leaving.
What are we waiting for?
Let's push on.
- How about you, Joe?
- I'm staying.
They say when a man falls
from a great height,
his whole life flashes by.
In one split second,
he sees himself for what he is.
You don't have to plummet like a
hailstone to face that split second.
Mean it, Frank.
...plummet like a hailstone
to face that split second.
It can come to you as it did
to me today. As you stand...
- What is it?
- " a smouldering field."
As you stand in a smouldering field
and see your hopes go up in smoke.
This is the most important
decision in the man's life.
It sounds like he's deciding
what to have for breakfast!
That goes for the rest of you, too.
I'm sorry, but I'm still
fighting these words.
We've been in rehearsal ten days.
Let's take it from...
- Bernie.
- It can't be that late.
Where does it go? Knock off.
Same time tomorrow.
We'll start with this scene.
- See you tomorrow.
- Good night.
- Do you need me for anything?
- No.
- You want me to turn off the border?
- Yeah. Good night.
I'm sorry about the words.
I've had a lot of things on my mind.
I know you have.
Every time I give a direction,
you're off in space somewhere.
You can be great, but it demands
your concentration and energy.
I know. I keep telling myself that.
After rehearsal,
I go home to study and...
You've got headaches enough.
Good night.
- Frank? Having trouble at home?
- No, nothing like that.
- Don't you believe me?
- Everyone has trouble at home.
The ones who deny it
are those that have too much of it.
I denied it for five years
with the former Mrs Dodd.
I never had the impression
that you were married.
Neither did my wife.
That was my trouble. What's yours?
It's nothing important.
I'll see you in the morning.
- Does she want you to play the part?
- She's all for it.
The day I met her,
she seemed a little difficult
about terms, rather domineering.
- She wasn't always like that.
- I know.
They start out as Juliets
and wind up as Lady Macbeths.
When I first met her, she was as fine
a person as you've ever seen.
She had background and breeding.
She had a nobility about her that
made me feel proud to be with her.
I was a good deal older than she was,
but it didn't seem to matter.
She wasn't a flighty kid.
She had a poise and dignity
that was ageless.
Those first few years,
I never knew a better life.
A wife who was everything
I'd been looking for.
A son who was smart, healthy.
Then our son died.
I came home from the theatre
one night a couple of months later.
This kid, I don't think she ever
had a real drink in her life before.
There she is, stretched out
across the bed, dead drunk,
her wrists cut and bleeding.
She was jealous that I had my work,
something to live for.
She felt she had nothing.
Inside of a year,
she was a hopeless drunkard.
In an effort to give her
some purpose in life,
I made her feel that
I needed her in my work.
I let her pick the songs I should
record, the shows I ought to do.
She started taking over everything.
She became very possessive.
She wanted to make the decisions,
had to be with me all the time.
Whenever I was away, she acted
as if I'd run off with another woman.
She had fits of depression.
One time she set fire
to a hotel suite.
That's when I hit the bottle.
- Does she still drink?
- No. She stopped when I began.
That figures. You were the weak one
now. That's what she wanted.
- Do you have to bring her to Boston?
- I couldn't leave her alone.
You thought it was funny I didn't
hang around after the audition.
If I'd taken this part
without talking to her,
I don't know what would've happened.
I had to make believe
that I was afraid.
That left it open for her
to convince me, like it was her idea.
They can get awful bent out of shape,
can't they?
My wife was so twisted she said to
me, "I hope your next play's a flop,
"so the world can see I love you
even though you're a failure."
Just coming from a movie,
thought you might be through.
- Your timing was perfect, Mrs Elgin.
- I have a knack that way.
Good evening, Mr Dodd.
How is my husband doing?
In my less than humble opinion,
he's a natural.
Don't let him kid you, honey.
I was floundering.
We'll have to rehearse those cues.
Thank her for the words I did know.
- Did I intrude?
- No, we're just breaking up.
I don't like to be obtrusive
when Frank's working,
unless he needs my help.
- You're sure I'm not in the way?
- No.
We're just closing up shop,
giving it back to the theatre ghosts.
There's nothing quite so mysterious
and silent as a dark theatre.
A night without a star.
- Why don't we get some coffee?
- Georgie? She makes the decisions.
Is that true, Mrs Elgin?
To the extent that Frank's brought
out the mother in me, yes.
I'd like some coffee, and I'd like
to get to know Mr Dodd better.
I'd like to get to know you better.
Shall we go along?
Yes, the theatre is mysterious.
It sure is.
Hi, Charlie. Excuse me a minute.
No, thanks, never use them. Are you
really satisfied with Frank's work?
I'll be happy when he gets
the part out of his hands.
He has his worries with those lines.
I'd appreciate it
if you didn't add to them.
He seems to be more concerned
about you than the audience.
You mean he's too focused
on my reaction?
That's one way of putting it.
You could help by being careful
of what you do and say.
I try to be careful, but being
an actor's wife is not easy.
If I tell him he's magnificent,
he says I'm not honest.
- If not, he says I don't love him.
- He's good but can be better.
- Is that what the critics will say?
- Are you a critic or a wife?
I try in my small way to help.
That's what my ex-wife used to
keep reminding me, tearfully.
She had a theory that behind
every great man was a great woman.
She was convinced that she was great
and that all I needed
was guidance on her part.
She worked hard at it. Too hard.
It doesn't prove her theory
was completely wrong.
One could go through history
and find a few good examples.
It's a pity that Leonardo da Vinci
never had a wife to guide him.
He might have really got somewhere.
You know who that was? Charlie Blair.
You remember him. He was...
Here's another oldie.
It's on the hit parade again.
Let's listen to the original
recording made by Frank Elgin.
He's backed up
by Jimmy Bolton's Orchestra.
See if you remember it.
- Was that OK, Jimmy?
- Good.
Harry, you want to buy that one?
Sure will. I'll give you
the playback in a second.
Take five, boys.
You pretty near broke me up
with your bad beat. How'd it sound?
- It's a lovely tune.
- And the singer?
- He has a pleasant voice.
- If you were my agent, we'd starve!
I've got a hair appointment.
- You're not taking him.
- It's Sally's day off.
Oh, no. He'll grow up to be
a hairdresser. I'll take him.
To the Lambs' Club to play pool?
It's better than teaching him how to
set a wave. I'll take him to the zoo.
And bring him home full of peanuts,
ice cream and chocolate?
Johnny, tell this lady to run along.
This is strictly stag.
- Strictly stag.
- He's your responsibility.
If he gets a stomach ache in
the night, that's strictly stag, too.
Isn't Mommy a doll?
Bye, hon.
- Peanuts!
- Yeah. First we'll hear this playback.
- Then Charlie wants some pictures.
- Take two of the chorus.
Can I get one shot of you looking at
the trademark for the album cover?
Make it fast. I got a date
with my friend here.
I think it would be better
without the hat. Right.
Put your hands on the record.
Put the right one at the bottom, too.
That's perfect. Just hold it.
Hold it. Hold it.
The men for the trunk
are downstairs...
- When did you get these, Frank?
- Last night, after you fell asleep.
I went out and got a paper and...
What's the difference?
- I got a good night's sleep.
- No more, Frank.
I'll get you some sleeping pills.
One a night can't hurt.
I'm not sure I'm going to Boston.
What's the use? I'll never
go through with this show.
I'll mess it up,
like everything else.
- That day was an accident.
- That's what the paper said.
- He was my responsibility that day.
- Frank, stop it! Stop!
- Have you told Dodd about this?
- No. Don't you tell him either.
I won't, but I think maybe
you should. It might help.
Nobody is going to have any respect.
He'd tell Cook. He'd fire me.
Who'd risk $200,000
on a guy that irresponsible?
Let's say you were responsible.
You've got to prove to yourself...
You don't know what it's like
to stand on that stage all alone.
If I'm no good, the show's no good.
I've got the future of 100 people
in my hand. This hand.
- Elgin, trunk for Boston?
- Come in.
- Theatre or hotel?
- Theatre.
- No...
- Everything's packed. It's ready.
Joe's nothing but a dreamer.
Let him show you
what he's been dreaming about.
That's fair enough. Come on, Phil.
How do they expect me
to make these fast changes?
- Haven't I done it right?
- Yes, but I want you out front.
- Give me the dicky!
- You're doing wonderfully.
I am not! Why don't they get me
a dresser? They could afford a dozen.
- Do you want me to talk to Cook?
- Yes.
Tell him to stop that understudy
hovering there like a vulture.
- If you talked to Mr Dodd...
- You talk to him.
Tell him to keep that guy out front.
Get me some new tissue.
I will, right after rehearsal.
- I'm sorry I stepped on your line.
- Think nothing of it.
- I was so nervous.
- What about? It's just another show.
Where would you find
a star as sweet as that?
What a wonderful guy.
I'd like to hold the orchestra
for about a half-hour longer.
- Can't you do it in the morning?
- Can I take the doohickeys off?
- Yeah, go ahead.
- There we are.
- See you tomorrow.
- Paul mentioned something to me.
- Eleanor is way overboard.
- I know she is.
- I wasn't thinking about Eleanor.
- Don't you think I know?
- I have some notes.
- We'll go over them tomorrow.
Give the company a one o'clock call.
I'm going out for some fresh air.
Then we'll discuss that spot.
Larry, hold Frank and Helen.
Run the scene in front of the church.
Find out what caused the mix-up.
You talked about the scenery
but not about our real problem.
Elgin was terrible.
That's why you go out of town.
Actors improve. The scenery can't.
If he spoke the script,
I never heard it.
He trips on a rug, there's no chair,
the door won't open.
What do you expect of him?
Besides, his wife was backstage
during the performance.
- She's enough to upset anyone.
- What are you going to do?
- Lower the boom on her.
- He's your problem. I got my own.
The union insists I take on
three more stagehands.
Mr Cook, excuse me.
May I ask you something?
- Do you think Frank needs a dresser?
- No, but I suppose you do.
Well, those two fast changes.
It's a very large part, after all.
Bernie, every time you nod your head
like that, it costs us $200.
You're going to nod us
out of business.
Don't worry. We'll get him a dresser.
Mr Cook is almost what the bad fairy
promised Frank at his cradle.
He's not too bad.
Gruff, but with a heart of stone.
You smoke too much.
That's obvious.
A whole pack since 10.30.
Careful you don't catch cold.
After every first dress rehearsal,
I always hope to catch pneumonia.
It never works. Oh, for the peaceful
quiet of an oxygen tent.
Mr Dodd, who is that tall, gloomy man
that hangs around backstage?
Lucas, is that the name?
Yes. General understudy.
Not much personality but competent.
Well, excuse me for saying this,
but must he stay backstage?
It seems to bother Frank.
I'll watch him.
Is Frank that insecure?
He's working well, in good humour.
Don't you know what hides
behind that good humour?
Certain men are very strange.
Business couldn't be better,
wife and kids are fine,
jokes with the boys at the club.
The next day, he's hung himself
from the chandelier.
Is that supposed to be
a picture of Frank?
Yes and no.
Frank doesn't like to make a remark
that might lose him people's regard.
If anything has to be said
that might cause antagonism,
well, that's my job.
I hate to say this,
but I hired a good performer.
I may want him without
his sisters, cousins and aunts.
I never meant to interfere. I was
just offering myself as a liaison...
I have no problems with Frank.
Don't make any.
Before this is over,
you may face a couple of beauties.
- Is that a threat?
- No.
It's just a simple statement
based on experience.
Whether you like it or not,
Frank's weak. He's a leaner.
I happen to be the one he leans on.
A good, strong helpmate.
You and your strength might be
the very reason he is weak.
I don't like strong women.
I'm not here to audition for you.
I'm here for the same reason you are,
to do everything in my power
to make him a success in this.
I want to see Frank stand on his own
two feet for very personal reasons.
Then don't overplay your hand. Frank
can go anywhere, right to the top.
Or he may go back to
that smelly room, and you with him!
I got that line straightened out.
Helen was throwing me the wrong cue.
I'm glad you got it fixed.
Frank, I noticed the understudy
backstage. Does that bother you?
No, never even noticed. How else
is he going to learn his business?
- Is that you, Georgie?
- Yes.
- Are you coming in?
- In a minute.
I want to get a breath of fresh air.
I can't come out. I'm still soggy.
What did they say about the dresser?
You'll get him.
It looks like they've got a little
respect for the old man after all.
Yes, they have respect for you.
I'll be out in a second.
- It's a different kind of a show.
- Yes, but I'm enjoying it.
It's a beautiful production.
I bet the costumes cost $50,000.
I think it's the most exciting thing!
- Where did you get it?
- From George, for my birthday.
You've seen him before, years ago,
in that show in Central Park.
- Was he the same one?
- So easy-going and likeable.
- Are you catching cold?
- That's all I need.
You're smoking too much. Go to sleep.
- I want to see the review first.
- You can see it at breakfast.
I can't sleep. What time do they
deliver the paper? In the afternoon?
I don't know why they picked
this place to open in.
It's like getting locked
in a deep freeze.
Just came in, Mr Elgin.
I'll get you another sleeping pill.
- Hello.
- I didn't think I'd be waking you.
The only important ones
are the New York notices.
Yeah, I don't worry about
these out-of-town critics.
They don't bother me.
Georgie was a little upset,
but I reminded her of Lonesome Town.
The Philadelphia critics murdered us,
but in New York we were a smash.
We've got five weeks. Opening night
in New York, it'll be great.
But let's not kid ourselves.
It'll take an awful lot of work.
You've got a big day tomorrow,
a rehearsal, a performance
and production stills after that,
so get all the rest you can.
- OK.
- Good night.
The dame in this paper
puts her finger right on it.
She says, "Elgin lacks authority
in a role that cries for it."
- No authority. That's it.
- You know why he lacks authority?
Because his wife has too much of it.
She's got to go back to New York.
We ought to make it
transportation for two.
If you don't like what I'm doing,
make it transportation for three.
Now, we were discussing that scene
in front of the town hall.
We go past the climax. Let's cut
the scene here tomorrow night.
- Over a little more. That's it.
- Everybody out front, keep quiet.
Sit down and keep quiet
or you'll be here all night.
Settle down.
All right, here we go.
Stay! Hold it!
- OK, go ahead.
- Hold it. Thank you.
Hold those positions.
I want to change one thing here.
While Frank is speaking,
I want you to look directly at him.
And no movement, nothing that will
distract the audience from him.
He's got to be
the centre of attention.
You really think
it would be better that way?
I thought it would be kind of nice
and natural if I was in the crowd.
No, it's all wrong.
The words lose importance.
He's asking these people
to have faith in him, to trust him.
He's accepting responsibility for
their future. It's got to be important.
We'll rehearse it tomorrow.
I just wanted to tell you about it.
We've got one more shot where
you're here looking at the poster.
Yell when you're ready.
Turn your head towards the poster.
- Would you look at the poster?
- Yeah, sure.
- Hold it.
- Put your hands on the record.
Hold it.
- Frank, what's the matter?
- I got a cold.
I've got some stuff in the room.
I'll be right back.
- All finished?
- No.
Frank, I don't like that cough syrup.
- Why not? It's a buck a bottle.
- You can read labels.
It's 22% alcohol. I'll get you
some lemon and honey in the morning.
Cook didn't come back after the show.
No, he didn't.
I'm glad I got that two-weeks clause.
I can quit any time I want.
Why should I care? They don't.
The producer doesn't come back
after the show...
- Leave the bottle.
- I need it for my cough.
- Leave it here.
- But I need it.
George, I need it.
- Frank's on stage.
- I know. I want to talk to you.
Last time we talked, Mr Dodd,
you reduced me to tears.
I promise you it won't happen again.
In fact, I'm glad you're here.
You ought to know he's getting a cold
and shouldn't be kept up late.
- We need stills. How's his spirit?
- Low.
- Why?
- Ask the Boston critics.
I've spent between
10 and 15 hours a day with Frank.
Nothing bothers him
except through your mouth.
We've been through that.
Either he laughs and makes bad jokes
or sits in silence and rots inside.
Either way, for your edification,
he's heading for a bender.
Why do women always think they
understand men better than men do?
Maybe because they live with them.
You'll have him full of whisky
before morning.
He's getting a cold. That's a reason
to jump down the well.
Why work so hard? You handle him,
and now you're trying to handle me!
And don't think I couldn't,
after handling a cunning drunkard.
If you loved this man, you could
never call him a cunning drunkard.
I have a greater love for the truth.
I'm a drunkard's wife.
That's the truth.
Stop looking at everything
as if it were a musical comedy!
I find you slightly grotesque.
You came here to tell me
something. What is it?
Cook's got a replacement for Frank
and a lot of money to protect.
I think Frank will improve.
Cook thinks he won't.
- Well, he won't unless you leave.
- You'll be sorry. He'll be helpless.
- I'll help him.
- You wouldn't know where to begin!
I'll begin by not calling him
a cunning drunkard.
I'll give him confidence
by rejoicing in his talents
instead of reminding him
of his weaknesses.
I'll let him face a decision
without fear.
I won't stifle him with bitterness.
I might bend the truth, but I'll get
a performance out of him.
That's the difference. You want him
to become the actor he once was.
I'm his wife. I want him once more
as the man he once was,
able to face responsibility, and you
don't do that by bending the truth!
You don't do it by stripping him
of self-respect.
I'll fight you for this man.
Not too hard. I may let you have him.
Oh, no. You want him wholly
and utterly dependent.
You realised, with all your fine
breeding, you were a failure.
It gave you a feeling of power
to control someone else's life.
Worse, you do it in the name of love.
You're as phoney as an opera soprano.
Did I forget to tell you I'm proud?
Make up your mind. Either you go
to New York alone, or you both go.
I'll go, on one condition.
Let me tell Frank in my own way,
in my own time.
As long as you're on that train
by tomorrow night.
- The traffic's a little heavy!
- Finished?
Got it all wrapped up.
Frank, I'd like to run through that
new scene after the matine tomorrow.
- You tired?
- Me?
How can you be tired playing a part
you've waited for all your life?
- Your energy was low again tonight.
- I know. It's this cold.
- Are you sure it's not nerves?
- Are you kidding?
- Tell him what's bothering you.
- What's bothering me?
- Cook and the notices, for instance.
- Oh, that.
I just wondered why
he didn't come backstage.
Is he mad or something?
Those weren't exactly money notices.
Mr Dodd believes in you. I can't
help you if you're worried. He can.
But I'm not worried.
Did you not tell me ten minutes ago
that you wanted
to hand in your notice?
I was just ribbing you, honey.
You got to be careful around here.
You can't open your mouth.
- Your wife's returning to New York.
- I said nothing of the sort.
- What do you mean, New York?
- We can talk about it later.
Would you leave us alone, Mrs Elgin?
Let's get one thing straight.
- What is that?
- It's cough syrup.
Pine, tar, cherries,
a whole bush in a bottle.
- This stuff is 22% alcohol.
- Alcohol?
I told Georgie to get something
to loosen my throat.
- Don't you know what these can do?
- She didn't look at the label.
Maybe she did. She's jealous
of the show and of me.
This is how far she'd go.
She'd even kick you off the wagon.
- I know she's high-strung...
- I want her back in New York.
We've got hard work ahead. I haven't
time for frustrated females.
Go back to the hotel and get some
sleep. I want you fresh tomorrow.
Mrs Elgin, Frank knows
exactly how I feel.
He appreciates what has to be done.
See you tomorrow, Frank.
He can be pretty arrogant
and insulting.
He had no right
to treat you like that.
Did you tell him that?
I poured it in the sink. If you
don't believe me, go and smell it.
- Where's the other bottle?
- What other bottle?
I'm tired. Where's
the other bottle of syrup?
I didn't buy another bottle. I wish
you'd take my word for something.
Never mind. I give up.
I'm not going to look.
- I apologise. He had no right...
- Stop putting on a front.
- Who's putting on a front?
- You are! You lie, you lie, you lie!
- Are you going back to New York?
- I don't know why not.
You want to leave me, don't you?
At the moment, I want you to get
dressed so we can get out of here.
Who's in New York? Who's the guy
you want to get back to?
I'm going to hit you
with the first thing I pick up!
- Now get dressed!
- If you're in such a hurry, go on.
I'll take a walk,
get something to eat.
- It won't do your cold any good.
- Let them worry about it.
- Do you want me to go?
- Yes, if you're in such a hurry.
Have you got the key to the room?
I'll get one from the hotel.
Don't wake me up when you come in.
I may be having a happy dream!
- 65, 75.
- That's for you.
Do you like me?
You're one of the most likeable guys
I've ever seen.
- Jackie, sing something!
- I'll sing if you'll be quiet.
- Yeah, Love And Learn.
- All right, simmer down.
It's my turn to holler.
Go, dad, go!
What about this guy?
Take me home, dad.
Hey, aren't you Frank Elgin?
I used to be. Not a word
or I'll tell them you're Harpo Marx.
- The Pump Song!
- I'm tired. Dance a while.
Order up. Buy something already.
- I'm sorry.
- It's all right. Another?
Yeah. Give me a double.
Pour, pour. Go ahead, fill it up.
Sorry about that drink.
It's all right. Could have happened
to anybody. Just an accident.
Yeah. Just an accident.
That's what the papers said.
It could have happened to anybody.
It was just an accident.
- Come in.
- Morning.
- Morning.
- How's it going?
- We got out 23 minutes.
- That's fine.
If we cut that chorus in half,
what will that give us?
- Another seven minutes.
- Good. That's where we need it.
Hello? Yeah.
What? When?
- Oh, no.
- I think you'd better come down.
I'll wait for you.
- Here's his keys, his belt.
- I know, I know.
75, 85, 90.
Here's your five dollars.
You promised me a couple of problems.
I see you made good your threat.
I didn't threaten you. I warned you.
When he hadn't come in,
why didn't you call me?
- Suppose he had been with a woman?
- You're being evasive.
Sit down, Frank.
Get me some water, Georgie.
What happened, Frank? Sit up!
Don't act as though I'm beating you.
- I'm sorry.
- What happened?
- I don't know.
- What happened after I left you?
- Georgie and I had a fight.
- I thought so.
- I don't know...
- She picked a fine time.
- It wasn't her fault.
- Stop protecting her!
- She's weak, she's so weak.
- She's driven you to drink!
You could be magnificent.
She goes back to New York.
- I don't know what she'd do.
- She goes back this morning.
- She's weak.
- I'll talk to her.
If we go on, you move in with me.
- Cook doesn't want me.
- I'm not sure I want you!
Whatever you say. You decide.
Frank stays, you go. The management
will pay your expenses.
Frank may follow you, I'm not sure.
He's moving in with me.
Crisp as lettuce, aren't you?
Do you want me to go, Frank?
I'll go and pack.
Tell Frank he has nothing to worry
about. He thinks you may go drastic.
- It's happened before, I understand.
- What?
Phoney suicide attempts.
Mr Dodd, when I was a child,
the town idiot insisted that
elephant tusks came from piano keys,
but he had nothing on you.
Suicide attempts
are Frank's department.
Show me your wrists, Frank.
Show me your wrists!
- Did you set fire to a hotel suite?
- He told you that?
Was I a hopeless drunk?
Did I have fits of depression?
Was I possessive?
Did I have to have a nurse
watch me when he was on stage?
Didn't you recognise any of it?
That was his big speech in one of
the plays you admired him in
when you were a hat-check boy.
Larry... do you think the understudy
can play the matine?
Yeah, I think so.
Pay the fine. This is a receipt
for his coat, wallet and the rest.
Take him back to the hotel.
Wait. If they see him in the lobby,
it'll be all over the papers.
Take him to the theatre
and let him sleep it off there.
- Georgie...
- Go on, Frank.
I won't leave without seeing you.
Tell Cook I'll be along in a few minutes.
- May I smoke?
- May you smoke?
What is that supposed to be?
Homage to a lady?
Lt'll never make me forgive you
for what you've said and done.
I'm not asking for forgiveness.
I want information.
- What made Frank go to pieces?
- The responsibility became too much.
- Why the lying, why the cunning?
- He hates himself.
Consequently, he'll do or say
anything to be liked by others.
People like Frank ought to have
two votes.
Then they could vote
Democrat and Republican.
Everybody would love them.
- Was he always like that?
- No. No, he drank a little.
He wasn't too dependable,
but it was only a pathetic hint of
frailty in a wonderful, glowing man.
That appeals to a lot of us.
It did to me. I was so young.
His weaknesses seemed touching and
sweet. They made me love him more.
One day, he was walking with our son.
He let go of his hand.
There was traffic. He looked
the other way. The boy was killed.
Ever since then, Frank has acted
like a murderer.
Guilt and repentance
and all that goes with it.
But worse than that, he's shunned
any responsibility like the plague.
It covered a pretty wide range.
Everything from not wanting
any more children to...
It must sound ludicrous to anyone
who hasn't lived through it.
It got to the point that he wouldn't
pick out a coat or suit by himself.
I don't know where to begin
to apologise, Mrs Elgin.
You can begin
by not calling me Mrs Elgin.
- And you never left him?
- Twice left, twice returned.
He's a helpless child.
Anyone taking a cab to New York?
If he's as helpless as you say...
He's not helpless now.
He has you, Mr Dodd.
You're the only one that can
handle him. I didn't know it before.
- Then you've learned something.
- The man has to be watched.
You take the job with waving banners
and ten hours later hand it back!
He has to be watched? He has to be
nursed and guarded, but not by me!
I'm going back to New York,
to the comfort of a quiet room.
I won't have to wonder where he is.
He'll be in the strong hands
of Bernie Dodd!
Can you stand him on his feet?
That's where my prayers have gone.
To see that holy hour
when he can stand alone again.
I might forgive you, Mr Dodd,
if you can keep him up long enough
for me to get out from under.
All I want is my own name and
a job to buy sugar for my coffee.
You can't believe that a woman
is crazy-out-of-her-mind
to live alone in one room,
by herself!
- Listen to me!
- Why are you holding me?
How could you be so angry
at someone you didn't even know?
Maybe I really wasn't.
Maybe I screamed at you to keep
myself at an angry distance.
No one has looked at me
as a woman for years and years.
I never knew there was such a woman.
Loyal, steadfast.
And when I found her...
Now I need your answer.
Do you think Frank can make it?
I don't know.
But if he doesn't go through with
this show, he'll never work again.
- I'm sure of that.
- You'll be taking a big chance.
They're the only ones worth taking.
But I can't unless you stay.
Will you?
You kissed me.
Don't let it give you
any ideas, Mr Dodd.
No, Mrs Elgin.
It's more thoughtful. He's trying
to figure out an approach...
- Did you see Cook?
- No.
He's talking to Watson.
I haven't got time now.
I've been with the understudy.
Do you want to listen?
Not now.
- How do you feel?
- OK. Larry got me some coffee.
I'll be out in a minute.
You don't have to get out.
All you have to do is get some sleep.
The understudy will want to get in.
I listened to him. He's no good.
You'll have to play the matine.
Oh, no. Don't stick your neck out.
I'm in no mood to cut my throat
in public. The understudy stinks.
It's not just the matine.
You've got to replace me.
When you took this job,
I promised you no pity.
I don't expect any.
I'm only warning you. Get rid of me.
Let me go back to New York.
So you can tell the boys you quit
because the part wasn't big enough?
Oh, no. If you leave this show,
it'll only be for one reason.
Because I fire you for being
an unreliable, slobbering drunk.
I know a lot of people who hire
actors. That's what I'll tell them.
It's not just this performance.
I can do a show for you. I've gone on
when I can hardly stand up.
It's not when I'm out there
that it's bad.
This is a matine in Boston. If I do
this in New York, where are you?
- Where are you?
- You talk as if I do it on purpose.
I can't help it, Bernie.
In between shows and at night,
when I start thinking about it...
You mean the accident?
Georgie told me about it.
- It hasn't been easy.
- Why didn't you tell me about it?
- I don't know.
- You knew I wouldn't buy it.
I don't buy it. A crazy wife.
Yes, you knew I had one.
- It was an accident.
- It was a crutch.
You were getting older, beginning
to slip. You looked for excuses.
The accident was an excuse.
Everybody expects a guy to take that
pretty hard. You used it to the hilt.
- No, Bernie.
- I'm right, and you know it.
You're sure of yourself. You don't
know what it means to be afraid.
You're on top of the heap.
Everything's good for you, but wait
till you've had a couple of flops
and people stop talking about you.
You'll get afraid
and look for excuses.
I'm not blaming you. Just stop lying.
Sure, everybody thought
it was because of the accident.
That's what I wanted them to think,
because I was afraid.
Even when I was the biggest, I was
afraid. I've always been afraid.
I don't know why. It was good to find
a respectable excuse for failure.
I could drink a little more.
Nobody blamed me.
No, they blamed it on the accident.
After I'd milked every tear out of it,
I cut my wrists,
not deep enough to die,
just enough to bleed myself back
into the centre of attention.
Everybody felt sorry for me again.
They understood. Everybody
was talking about me and my tragedy.
That's the way I wanted it.
To keep it that way, I lied.
God, how I lied!
I even lied about Georgie!
You were so right, Bernie.
I keep thinking about it.
Not about the accident,
but how I used it.
- Get some rest.
- I'll keep on thinking about it.
You better not take a chance on me.
You better get rid of me.
- Bernie...
- Shh.
- He's got to sleep.
- I don't care if he hears me.
I talked to Ray Watson in California.
He can be here in the morning.
I said I'd call him back.
- Frank's going to play it.
- Wait a minute.
Don't protect this guy any longer!
I'm calling Ray Watson.
If you do, tell him to bring
a director along with him.
All that valley needs is a few
friends to treat it kindly for once,
to loan it a plough, some seeds,
plenty of care.
It'll pay us back.
I know it, Joe, but the others
will take a lot of convincing.
- Western Union.
- Yes, come in.
- How's it going, Ralph?
- Fine, Mr Dodd.
Mr Frank's a big man.
Positive honour to work for him.
- Have you been out front?
- Yeah.
Opening night in New York.
The world's most useless man.
- How's Frank?
- OK. How's it been back here?
He was a little uneasy
with the curtain going up so late.
If the first few rows
had the balcony's manners,
what a wonderful world this would be.
It was sweet of you
to send these wires.
- Who told you?
- I guessed. How many did you send?
- Nine or ten. You?
- Five or six.
Where did you get the names?
The Lambs' Club.
Good, good.
Why don't you go out front?
Not me. I don't sit with the critics.
I hear very well right from here.
That's the advantage
of an on-stage dressing room.
Keep quiet!
That's the disadvantage.
Larry's right. From now on,
it's his show. I'm just a visitor.
- Depressed, aren't you?
- Depressed and mean.
It's been a long nine weeks.
A job is home to a homeless man.
Now the job is finished.
Where do I go from here?
Georgie, five weeks ago
I kissed a woman, a married woman.
Now I know I love her.
I don't know where to turn.
- Close to you like this...
- Bernie...
I waited.
- Are you going to leave him?
- Bernie...
You told me you prayed to see him on
his feet again so you could get out.
Let me show you something.
Looks to me like he's made it.
What about you?
- Are you leaving him?
- Don't you think that can wait?
No, it's been on my mind
since that morning in Boston.
If I could make you understand...
Not now, Bernie. Not now.
First-act curtain. I've got to make
the dressing room tour.
- I thought you were out front.
- Just came back.
You hit it tonight. It's good.
I can handle this. Go have a smoke.
You know something, that's work.
It sounded wonderful back here.
I messed up a couple of spots.
Nobody noticed.
- You'd better touch up the grey.
- Make me look two weeks younger.
- How do you feel?
- Good. How are they liking it?
I only know what I read
in the papers. They came in late.
- As long as they don't leave early.
- Frank...
A lot of things are said
in the heat of the day.
Accept my apologies.
Those things can happen. Naturally,
you include my wife in your apology.
Of course. That includes you, too.
Then start by taking your hat off.
You're not at a smoker, Mr Cook.
This is the first kind word you've
had for us. I think I know why.
You'd like me to sign a contract
before the papers come out
so you can get me
for half what I'm worth.
You'll just have to take my word.
I have been thinking
of contractual arrangements,
but that's not why I came back.
I'm having some people for supper,
and I just wanted to invite you.
And you, Mrs Elgin.
Thanks. I'll drop by
if I'm not too tired.
- Good. Hope to see you.
- Yeah.
Excuse me, Mrs Elgin.
We'll be looking for you.
Thank you.
- Fine performance.
- Thank you. They got you trapped!
- Don't learn the piano.
- Just Chopsticks.
- Great performance.
- Thank you.
- Have you seen Georgie anywhere?
- She was here a minute ago.
There you are, dear.
I only lost about half of it.
Now is as good a time as any
to say thanks to both of you.
For what?
If it hadn't been for you,
Ray Watson would be here now,
looking for a coffee spoon.
Frank, there are as many reasons
for drinking as there are drinkers.
There are only two reasons
why a drinker stops.
He dies or decides to quit
all by himself.
I'm not sure I have.
I faced a crisis up in Boston
and got away with it.
Just about anybody can face a crisis.
It's everyday living that's rough.
I'm not sure I can lick it,
but I think I got a chance.
The point is, Georgie, what about us?
Don't go, Bernie. You're involved.
There's only one thing more obvious
than two people gazing at each other,
and that's two people avoiding it.
Frank, I didn't want to bring up
any of this tonight.
But you did, so let's have
the whole truth.
I married you for happiness.
Yours and mine.
If necessary, I'll leave you
for the same reason.
I can't guarantee you that happiness.
The rest of the whole truth is that
it was as much my fault as yours.
Bernie accused me of wanting you
completely dependent,
of wanting to control your life.
I denied it, of course, but I think
there's an element of truth there.
I don't want to run that risk again.
No, you're right.
This is something
I've got to work out for myself,
with you or without you.
Whether the show is a hit
or a flop is beside the point.
I've got to find myself,
whether it's in one room or five.
I don't think there's any point in us
torturing each other any longer.
You two talk it over. I'll go home.
But, Georgie, don't dismiss
what we had together.
I gave you ten of the roughest years
anybody ever spent outside
of a concentration camp.
It could be more of the same.
That was quite a little speech.
I'm still giving a performance.
This time there's a difference.
At least I know it's a performance.
I know it's gratifying
to be wanted and needed,
but not for every minute
of every day.
Remember that for years he's been
a leaner. You said so yourself.
- Pretty tune, isn't it? Remember it?
- Yes. Yes, I do.
I made a record of it once.
Bernie, I...
I'm always running out of cigarettes.
- You smoke too much.
- And you're impertinent.
But you're loyal and steadfast
and devoted.
I like that in a woman.
- Have you seen Frank anywhere?
- He just left, Mrs Elgin.
- Here you are.
- About time!
- How are they?
- I didn't read them.
- Here's The Times and Tribune.
- Thanks, Larry.