A Biltmore Christmas! (2023) Movie Script

(audio logo)
From Balaban Films
comes the laugh and love
riot of the holiday season...
William West's His Merry Wife!
Claude Lancaster as James,
a lovelorn man in need
of a little Christmas magic.
Ava Hayward as Rebecca,
the woman he loves.
And introducing Jack
Huston as Charlie,
a guardian angel tasked
with reuniting the two.
An angel?
Well, that depends
on you, my friend.
I am here to help.
Now, tell me.
What's this about a girl?
We were meant to be married.
I fouled it up.
I'd need a miracle to
make things right again.
Well, lucky for you,
it's Christmas time,
and there's a miracle
around every corner, pal.
Now where is this girl?
There she is.
(light music)
Say, what kind of
game are you playing?
You've helped lost
souls before, Charlie.
And you know good and well
why this time is different.
She's my wife.
Maybe in another life.
But tonight, she's
your assignment.
A picture for the ages.
Our gift to you,
our merry viewer.
(bright music)
Ms. Hardgrove?
Mr. Balaban see you now.
(phone rings in background)
You've changed the ending.
Charlie is supposed to
pass up on his wings
and help James get the girl.
But instead, you have
him, what, watch Rebecca
as she drives out through
the tall iron gates
and into an uncertain future?
It's real life.
No, no, no, no, no, no.
Leave real life for
reality TV shows.
This is a Christmas movie.
Yes, it is, but I think we have
a chance right now to bring
His Merry Wife! into
the 21st century
and give audiences something
modern and something real.
Lucy, the title has
an exclamation point.
Would you like a peppermint?
No, thank you.
You know, every other studio
passed on His Merry Wife!
But my grandfather, Harold
Balaban, saw the potential,
knew that it had all the
makings for a classic.
Right, and I love a classic.
I'm all for honoring
the original version.
It's just that we are living
in a different time period now,
and I think this generation
would want its own voice.
My grandfather actually took
me with him to Biltmore when
he decided to visit the set.
I had to be, I don't know, all
of about seven at the time.
I'll tell you, there's
something really
special about that place.
So maybe what you need is
to see it for yourself.
Let's send you
down to Asheville.
You're going tomorrow.
Oh, well, Christmas
is in a few days.
So... That's even better.
You get to see the
place all lit up.
Mr. Balaban...
Michael, please.
I'm just... I'm really
not sure how to write
something I don't believe.
(chuckles) Lucy, I
like you, and I think
you have a lot of promise.
But I also need a writer
who's on the same page.
Now, Sandy will get
you all the notes,
take care of your travel plans.
You just go to Biltmore,
have a good time.
Oh, and, Lucy, Lucy.
I want a happy ending.
(light playful music)
(gentle music)
I wish it were different.
For a moment, you
made me so very happy.
What are you doing, James?
Go after her.
Wouldn't change
a thing, Charlie.
She's in love with a memory.
I never stood a chance.
Thank you for all of your help.
Is that what you gave him?
I'm so sorry.
I was selfish.
Just give me another
chance to try to fix it.
I'm afraid there's no time
for second chances now.
You know the rules, Charlie.
Christmas is almost over.
I don't care.
If you leave, you can
forget about those wings.
(BOTH) I never did like to fly.
What, I'm invested.
The guy spends the whole movie
trying to break those two up
and then suddenly
has a change of heart
in the last 10 minutes.
Yeah, it's romantic.
It's convenient.
You used to love this
movie when we were little.
You could practically
recite it from memory.
It's sappy.
He loves her, and he knows
it will make her happy.
And we know that when
push comes to shove,
people will always choose
their own happiness.
OK, well, that is just the
cynical, tortured writer
side of you.
Some people really do
get a happily ever after.
So what are you going
to do about your script?
I don't know, man.
My career's been on life support
for the last three years.
I don't know that an
opportunity like this
is going to come around again.
I think I just have
to figure it out.
Do you think you're going
to be back by New Year's?
There's just somebody
I want you to meet.
No, Becca.
He's perfect for you.
You say that every time.
Because it's true
almost every time.
And you never, ever give
these guys a chance.
Jack Huston could walked
through this door,
and you would find
something wrong with him.
(laughs) That's not true.
Come on, you just have to
put yourself out there.
I'm just going to spare
myself the heartache.
Hey, you deserve a
really great guy who
will sweep you off your feet.
I like my feet right
where they are.
Plus, I have someone else's
happiness to worry about.
(light music)
We're going to
miss you this year,
and, you know, Dad promised
that he would go caroling.
Oh, yay.
I need a video of that.
And please try to get some
Christmas spirit before you're
visited by three pushy ghosts.
Pff, never.
(laughs) OK, Merry Christmas.
I miss you.
Call me when you're back.
(gentle music)
Bah, humbug.
(bright music)
Ms. Hardgrove?
Welcome to the inn of
the Biltmore Estate.
Oh, Winston.
We're so happy to have you here.
If you walk this way, I'll
show you to your room.
You know, William West visited
Biltmore when he was writing
the original His Merry Wife!
Hopefully we can be a
similar inspiration to you.
Here you go, your room, 359.
Thank you so much.
After you've had a
chance to settle in,
I'd love if you could
join me for the evening
tour of Biltmore House.
Oh, thank you.
I think I'm probably just going
to sleep off some jet lag.
I think it'll be
worth your time.
It starts in an hour.
(soft, light music)
(crickets chirping)
Christmas at Biltmore
is a tradition that
goes all the way back to 1895.
And we go to great
lengths to try to recreate
that same magic every year.
Our guests tell us
that they sometimes
feel as if they've been
transported to another time.
Next up is the billiards room.
Come this way.
(light music)
I can tell by the expressions
on your face that some of you
recognize this room.
What holiday classic
was shot at Biltmore?
His Merry Wife!
You are correct.
Right this way.
Principal photography
began December of 1947
right here at Biltmore.
And many pieces
from our collection
were incorporated into the film.
This banquet table you may
remember from the famous dinner
party scene.
(shutter clicks)
No flash photography, please.
(light music)
Right this way.
Here, we have the gown worn
by Ava Hayward in the film's
emotional conclusion.
You know, Hayward
wasn't the studio's
first choice to play Rebecca.
In fact, at this point in time,
she was sort of considered box
office poison.
However, writer-director
Williams West cast her,
it revived her
career, and she went
on to win two Academy Awards.
And here we have Mr.
Claude Lancaster,
Hollywood's Mr. Nice Guy.
He brought the star
power to this project.
People say that he was
just as nice in person.
Jack Huston was a relative
newcomer with just a couple
of credits to his name.
Funny story... he took a bit
part in a musical called Meet Me
in Poughkeepsie so he could
get on to the lot and meet
the studio head, Harold
Balaban, who he convinced
to get an audition for...
His Merry Wife!
His Merry Wife!
Sadly, Jack passed
away and wasn't
able to enjoy the tremendous
success of the film.
He died the following Christmas.
Anyway, thank you
very much for coming.
Enjoy the conservatory.
(soft music, chatter)
If you have time, there is one
more room I'd like you to see.
(slinking music)
Hey, Lester.
Excuse me.
Thank you.
This is...
our grand library.
It looks exactly the same.
I know.
You keep the prop on
display all year round?
Actually, the hourglass
is not a prop.
It comes from Biltmore's
private collection.
William West was so
taken with it that he
wrote it into the script.
It's cracked.
So that happened during filming.
Luckily, they were
able to repair it.
All it's got is that
little infringement now.
It's usually in a safe
vault, but I had it
brought out especially for you.
I thought you might like to see
it in person before it leaves.
It's being loaned
to the Smithsonian
as part of their Golden Age
of Hollywood exhibition.
(phone vibrates)
Oh, that's exciting.
Speaking of Hollywood,
it's the studio.
I'll give you a minute.
Pardon me.
Thank you.
Hello, Mr. Balaban.
How are those rewrites coming?
I'm happy to hear it because
we were hoping to see
those new pages by the first.
The first of?
(tense music)
I'm still here.
We've been shuffling
the release schedule,
and we're eyeing
an earlier date.
Now, I know that's
a fast turnaround,
but I have faith in you.
Thank you, Mr. Balaban.
I will do my best to
get you what you need.
It is a very short time frame.
But I will get it to you.
Mr. Balaban?
(slinking music)
Excuse me, do I can get
some service around here?
Well, Crafty's in
front of the building.
They serve a mean cup of coffee.
(laughs) Funny guy.
What is going on?
Why is everybody in costume?
(laughs) You're a funny girl.
We're making a major
motion picture...
His Merry Wife!
What is that?
You look just like him.
Jack Huston.
Well, I hope so.
I am him.
Who are you supposed
to be in that getup?
Mr. Huston.
They need you on set.
What scene are we filming?
Well, hold on.
Give me a sec, Gus.
I'm talking to... myself.
Let's go make a movie.
(tense music)
(heavy breathing)
(sighs) OK, Lucille Hardgrove,
this is not what it looks like.
There's a perfectly rational
explanation for everything
looking like the 1940s.
What is happening?
You're jet lagged.
You're daydreaming.
Take a deep breath.
Here we go.
3, 2, 1.
(gasps, laughs)
Ms. Hardgrove?
Did you see it?
Are they still there?
(dramatic music)
Where are the lights and
the people in costume?
I'm not sure what you mean.
Are you all right?
(light festive music)
Hi, Mr. Balaban.
It's Lucy.
I'm really sorry.
Our call dropped.
I'm not really
sure what happened.
Anyway, give me a buzz
back when you get a chance.
Thank you.
Oh, I wish I had known people
were going to dress up.
I would have brought
my fascinator.
It's just like the
one Eva Hayward wears.
What do you mean dress up,
like historical reenactments
or like cosplay
characters from the film?
Yeah, so you can take pictures
with all the decorations.
It's in the brochure.
It's in the brochure.
I'm Margaret.
I'm Lucy.
Well, Lucy, we better double
time it if we're going
to get there before it starts.
It what?
The tree lighting.
Come on.
(festive violin music)
So are you here with family?
No, I'm a...
I'm a writer.
I'm here on work.
Oh, what do you write?
How glamorous.
Yeah, it's fun.
Have you ever met
Sandra Bullock.
Sadly, no.
Oh, well, that's too bad
because I read somewhere
that she is very nice.
Hey, you should write
a movie for her.
This trip was my
Christmas gift to myself.
(laughs) I wanted to visit
for as long as I can remember.
Because of His Merry Wife!
How'd you know?
You seem like a fan.
(laughs) Yeah.
My mother and I used to watch
it every year at Christmas.
It was our little tradition.
She would make a
big bowl of popcorn,
and then we'd break
out the box of Kleenex.
It's my absolute favorite movie.
Being here, it's a
little like I'm in it.
Like, oh, look, right over there
is where Rebecca first meets
James's disapproving parents.
Oh, and that is where Charlie
sees Rebecca for the first time
and realizes his last assignment
to get his wings is the woman
he loves.
Oh, and when he races
through the Italian garden
to stop her from leaving.
I mean, they just don't
make men like that anymore.
There are so many locations
I want to get photos of.
I mean, this was a
major motion picture.
(light shimmering music)
I'll be right back.
(slinking music, chatter)
(dramatic orchestral music)
(gentle string music)
(slinking music)
(sand trickling)
(dramatic music)
(sand trickling)
(dramatic music)
Oh, this cannot... this
cannot be happening.
Hey, you're not supposed
to be back here.
This is a closed set.
Mr. West's orders.
Mr. West?
We're going to need for
you to come with me.
There you are.
You're late.
The boys from
central casting told
me you'd be here an hour ago.
Sandra, right?
Candy cane girl?
We got to get you to wardrobe.
Follow me.
Here's a piece of
advice for me to you.
Time is money in this business.
And if you're not 5 minutes
early, you're 10 minutes late.
What on earth are you wearing?
(sighs) Looks like they
flubbed your measurements
at the agency.
Nothing we can do now.
(soft tense music)
All right, OK.
This is all going to be over,
just like it was last time.
1, 2, 3.
(door opens)
You were due on
set 15 minutes ago.
Put this on, and get to set.
(tense music)
All right, it's the night
of the big Christmas to do.
You've just told your
folks that you plan to wed,
and they threaten to
cut you out of the will.
But you love her.
But you need his help.
Now, remember, nobody can see
you except for the big lug
Yes, sir.
Ready for rehearsal?
I think we got it.
Let's go again.
Places, everyone, places.
(light music)
Don't look now, but I
think we have an audience.
(sighs) Will your parents
ever approve of me?
Oh, hush now.
They'll come around, kid.
And if they don't?
Tell her that you'll
whisk her away.
I'll whisk you far away from me.
And I'll tell her that
you'll buy her a house.
Buy us a house of our own.
A house?
Tell her that you'll
fill it with roses.
And fill it with roses.
One for every day since
you walked into my life.
Oh, that's a nice touch, kid.
Well, that'd be grand if I
weren't allergic to them.
Sorry about that, old sport.
I thought that was
right on the money.
And cut.
Oh, stop stepping on
my line, sweetheart.
My apologies.
Next time, I'll
aim for your feet.
(playful music)
Thank you, Peggy.
Hi, there.
I'm Jack Huston.
You got a name?
Oh, Sandra.
Well, Ms. Bullock, it's
nice to meet you, again.
Now, look at this.
It's been 10 seconds, and you
haven't bolted for the door.
So I'd say we're already
off to a better start.
Oh, I've been here too long.
Do you have somewhere
that you need to be?
You could say that.
Well, I did say that.
Did you see where that
security guard went?
Yeah, he went that way.
Hey, hold this for me, Gus.
(slinking music)
(tense music)
Ms. Bullock, what was with
the disappearing act earlier?
Don't they need you
for the next scene?
They're filming the
final scene of the movie.
Well, last time I
checked, you were in that.
(laughs) That's news to me.
What do you mean?
Whoa, watch your head.
What do you mean?
No, Charlie gives up
a chance at his wings,
he chases Rebecca
out into the garden,
they share a final goodbye,
and she reunites with James.
That's the end of the movie.
No, that's not the
script that I read.
It's not?
But what made you say that?
Because I've been thinking of
something along those lines,
and nobody will go for it.
I am Sandra.
(tense music)
I'm starting to think it's me.
(light upbeat music)
She said she was an actress.
Well, where did she go?
(tense music)
You... how... where
did you come from?
I can explain.
No, I can't.
You weren't there.
And then you were there.
What are you wearing?
(stammers) Why are you here?
Well, you were so upset.
I was worried.
You said you'd be
right back, and you
were gone almost an hour.
An hour.
An hour!
Hey, is that the
one from the movie?
Yeah, don't touch it.
Why not?
Ladies, I'm sorry, we're about
to close up for the night.
I just was here to take
photos of the hourglass
for my research.
And I'm sure we'll be
able to accommodate you
during the appropriate hours.
Sure, sure.
By the way, I love this costume.
Straight out of the movie.
(laughs) Yeah.
It's funny.
Hey, you've been running
the His Merry Wife! tour
for quite some time, right?
I have.
So you must know a bit
about the obscure trivia
surrounding the production.
Are you thinking of
something specific?
Have you heard anything
about an alternate ending?
There were rumors.
Nothing substantiated.
What kind of rumors?
Well, that it was more
somber, something bittersweet.
What happened to that?
Why did William West change it?
Did the studio step in?
No one knows.
I don't think we'll ever know.
Everyone involved with that
production has passed on.
I think that ending
is lost to history.
(soft music)
Rebecca, it's all my
fault. You have to stop.
You can see me?
Just for now, Charlie.
(soft music)
Well, then we don't
have much time.
And I want you to
know that I love you,
and I have always loved you.
And I don't want to be the
thing that's holding you back.
The greatest gift that you can
give me is to live your life
and find a little happiness.
Now, he's a little stiff.
But you could do worse.
Merry Christmas, Charlie.
Merry Christmas.
(light music)
(inquisitive music)
Lucy, I hope you
can join us tonight
for the gift-giving event.
It's been a tradition
here since 1895.
Did you know on the first
Christmas Biltmore opened
its doors, it was to
the employees' families
in the spirit of
generosity, gratitude?
And there was a handpicked gift
under the tree for each child
and staff member.
That's a lovely tradition.
Yes, it is.
Did you also know
that the hourglass
was gifted to the Biltmore
collection that very same
Speaking of that
hourglass, you mentioned
that you had other
props and costumes
from the movie in storage.
There's not enough room
to put them all out.
Could I possibly take a
look at some of those?
I'm not sure it's
worth your while.
It's mostly extras'
costumes, and they've
been in mothballs for years.
Come on.
(slinking music)
(light string music)
(playful music)
I'll pay you back.
Scout's honor.
You know, I knew that outfit
you were wearing last night
looked familiar.
And then I remembered
where I saw it.
It was on the tour.
But here's the funny part.
It was still there this
morning on display.
You appeared out
of thin air wearing
clothes from another time.
There can only be
one explanation.
(tense music)
You're a ghost.
I'm not a ghost.
And you're trapped
here at Christmas
with unfinished business.
I'm literally holding
something in my hand.
I can help.
If you need to get a
grave message to a loved
one or right some wrong...
I went back in time to 1947.
They were filming
His Merry Wife! here,
and then the costumer
thought that I
was the actress playing
the candy cane girl,
so they put me in that outfit.
But then I came back.
And it was really weird.
I know.
I know.
Hold on.
You all right?
How long were you there?
The first time, I think I...
The first time?
You went back more than once?
Well, I had to make
sure I wasn't crazy.
(laughs) Still haven't arrived
at an answer, honestly.
Is that why you're looking
through the old wardrobes?
Are you planning to go back?
Yeah, I got something
I got to do.
This is unbelievable, right?
How did this even happen?
The hourglass was sitting
there, I turned it over,
and it brought me here.
I mean there but here.
Before I knew it,
I was just standing
there talking to Jack Huston.
(gasps) Is he just as
charming in real life?
(laughs) He's kind
of pushy, actually.
Oh, I understand.
You're going back for him.
Oh, no, no, no, no.
Oh, that is just about
the most romantic
thing I have ever heard.
No, I promise I'm not
going back for anyone.
So if you're not going
back for Jack Huston,
then what are you
going back for?
(soft music)
I can't believe
you didn't tell me
you were writing the
remake of His Merry Wife!
Who's going to play Charlie?
Oh, you should ask
that Ryan Reynolds.
I mean, he would be perfect.
He's got just the right
amount of charisma.
What, what does any
of this have to do
with you going back in time?
Well, I have to find out what
was in that original ending
and why they changed it.
(SINGING) Hark, the
Herald angels sing,
glory to the newborn king.
Peace on Earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful all ye nations rise.
Join the triumph of the skies.
Hark, the herald angels sing,
glory to the newborn king.
You look great.
What are you doing here?
I'm your backup.
My backup?
Well, I just thought
that in case something
goes wrong on this end,
you might need somebody.
Oh, no, that's OK.
It's your Christmas vacation.
You should go enjoy it.
Are you kidding?
This is the most exciting thing
that's ever happened to me.
So how's this work?
So when I turned the
hourglass the first time,
there were only a few minutes of
sand left, which is why I think
my first trip was so short.
But the second time,
I got the full hour.
So you'll only be gone an hour.
Barring any unforeseen
Are you sure this
is a good idea?
I mean, what if you change
something in the past?
Won't that affect the future?
It's going to be fine.
What if somebody suspects you?
Well, I've seen His Girl
Friday like a dozen times.
I think if I just throw in a
buster here and a fella there,
I'll blend right in.
Good luck.
And say hey to Jack for me.
(soft foreboding music)
(sand trickling)
(soft shimmering music)
(bright festive music)
(excited screaming)
Not today, ladies.
Not today.
Not before coffee.
Well, hiya, girls.
I'll sign it for if you want.
I'm in the picture, too.
The name is Jack Huston.
There you are.
Mr. West, got an
idea for you, sir.
And then get this, he gives up
his wings because he loves her.
What do you think?
I think he should stick
to saying the lines
and not writing them.
(chuckles humorlessly)
But you'll consider it?
(light music)
(soft downbeat music)
Ms Bullock?
Ms. Bullock.
Now, you listen here.
You can't just
march up on a dame
and give her the
what for, buster.
Excuse me.
Let go of me.
I am not a piece of luggage.
No, you're absolutely right.
Luggage comes with a tag.
It lets you know
where it came from.
Who are you?
Where are you from?
We called central casting,
and no one knows who you are.
Are you even Sandra Bullock?
I'm Lucy Hardgrove.
And you may not believe this,
but I'm from the studio.
You don't say.
Well, Mr. Balaban, he heard
about all the discord on set.
He sent me to keep
an eye on things.
He's a very busy man.
Prove it.
Oh, you took a bit part
in Meet Me in Poughkeepsie
so that you could audition for
this part and get on the lot.
(laughs) Do you know I camped
in front of that parking spot
for three days?
How did you know that?
Well, I told you,
Mr. Balaban sent me.
All right, well, obviously,
this is a misunderstanding.
I apologize, Ms.
Hardgrove, and I hope
there are no hard feelings.
(chuckles) Of course not.
(soft playful music)
(soft foreboding music)
(light music)
He really doesn't
give up his wings.
Ms. Hardgrove.
(laughs) I just want
to introduce myself.
Claude Lancaster.
I know.
I'm such a fan.
I just loved you in Mr.
Grayson Takes a Vacation.
Oh, well, I have to
say, I've heard nothing
but wonderful things about you.
From whom?
Well, Harold Balaban.
I'm so pleased that he's
responded to my concerns.
There's still time
to replace her.
Replace her?
Yes, it pains me
to even suggest it,
but Hayward's last
three films were flops.
She'll sink us.
But don't you worry
your pretty little head.
I have got some ideas
for who we might get.
(laughs humorlessly)
Took the liberty of
jotting the names down.
And Mr. Balaban is
on board with this?
I thought that's
why you were here.
Just testing you.
(soft, light music)
You don't think they would
shut us down, do you?
There'd be no reason.
Besides the fact that
we're behind schedule
and over budget?
(chuckles softly)
Yeah, besides that.
Then no.
None at all.
(dramatic music)
(tense string music)
There you are.
(glass shatters)
No, no, no, no.
It's OK.
I'll take the blame.
I'll say it's my fault. It's OK.
Get this cleaned up.
(heavy music)
(foreboding music)
What in the world?
(vibrates lips) Ma.
(clears throat)
Buzz off, McGee.
I know what you're doing.
Reading the funny pages?
You've been sending
word to Mr. Balaban
that there's trouble on set,
trying to muscle me out.
Well, that's a one-way
ticket to the naughty list.
Paranoia is an ugly
look on you, Ava.
Well, that suit's not
exactly doing you any favors.
That's some crack.
Yeah, but can you fix it?
Not sure.
I need that hourglass.
For the movie... picture.
I'll do what I can.
I can't make any promises.
There she is.
Well, that was some
spill you took.
Give her some space.
I hope somebody got the
license plate of that bus.
She's concussed.
I'm fine.
Lucy, what year is it?
And who's the president?
Mm, yeah, we should
get her to a doctor.
No, no, I know this.
That a girl.
Oh, where did he go?
Oh, the man with the hourglass.
Where did he go?
I think he went that way.
Who's your friend,
and what's her hurry?
Well, it's Balaban's girl.
Just flew in from LA.
Strange duck.
Yes, she is.
(light string music)
An angel?
Well, now that depends
on you, my friend.
I am here to help.
Now, what's this about a girl?
We were meant to be married.
I fouled it up.
I'd need a miracle to
make things right again.
Well, lucky for you,
it's Christmas time,
and there's a miracle
around every corner, pal.
Now where is this girl?
There she is.
And cut.
We good?
It's North Carolina,
not the North Pole.
He left.
He left?
Is he coming back today?
Said he needed to take the
hourglass off site after you
cracked that thing like an egg.
(sighs) OK.
When is the call time tomorrow?
It's Christmas Eve.
We're off.
But he should be back for
the party tomorrow night.
Ava, how do I look?
Up to something.
Oh, no, no, no.
She's a stranger in
a brand new place.
I just thought she might
enjoy some company for supper.
That's all.
So you can sweet talk her
into a three-picture deal
over martinis?
(laughs) I'm a gentleman, Ava.
I'm going to wait for dessert.
Stop it Jack.
Is this seat taken?
I'm expecting someone.
What looks good?
Ha, figgy pudding.
Have you ever had figgy pudding?
Once when I was a kid.
What's in it, I wonder?
Say, you don't suppose that's
where they got the name,
do you?
Would you care to join me?
Well, if you insist.
Now, you sure he won't mind?
The gentleman that
you're waiting for.
I'm not waiting for anyone.
Gee, you don't say.
Now, I hope that Mr. Balaban
knows just how grateful
I am to be in this picture.
And I want to assure him...
Thank you.
And I want to assure him
that a bet on Jack Huston
is a surefire winner.
And you'd like me to put
in a good word for you.
No, I mean, only if
you really mean it.
I don't think that I need to.
I think your work really
speaks for itself.
I mean, a soda is a nickel here.
It's not where you're from?
And where is that exactly?
Santa Monica.
Oh, Santa Monica.
By way of Ohio.
That must be tough
being this far away
from home at Christmas time.
Yeah, it's definitely
not what I expected.
And what would you be
doing if you weren't here?
My sister and I go
caroling every Christmas.
It's kind of a tradition.
We hit every house
in the neighborhood
until our voices are hoarse.
Then we drink hot chocolate.
Now that is something
that I can help with.
You know a good hot
chocolate joint around here?
I know a great hot
chocolate joint.
All right.
I'm not hungry, anyway.
Let's go.
(light festive music)
Well, what about you?
Any Christmas traditions?
Well, we didn't have a
lot when I was growing up.
But my father, who
worked at a factory,
made sure that he'd always saved
enough money to take my mother
and I to a nickelodeon on
Christmas Day every year.
And my mother
would always insist
that I choose the picture,
and I always chose a comedy
because they were her favorite.
And I would sit in
that dark theater,
light dancing in her
eyes, watching her laugh.
And that was the
best Christmas gift.
Is that why you wanted
to become an actor?
It sure is, yeah.
I started out as a stunt man.
I had a job on a cowboy
picture called Wagons West.
And the actor got bucked off
the pony, and I fit the chaps.
I got a promotion.
I got two lines, which
I still remember.
"He ain't lying, sheriff.
The horse belongs
to Billy the Kid."
(laughs) That was you?
So you've seen it?
Yes, I've seen it.
I watch a ton of Turner Classic
Movies and the Criterion
Collection and...
You lost me, bright eyes.
I'll need a map to
find my way back.
That's always been my dream,
to be up on that silver screen,
to see my name in lights.
Yeah, really make your
mark in the world.
So I hope your boss can
find it in his heart to keep
this movie up and running.
I've got a very good feeling
about this little picture.
I think it's going
to be the one.
Now, who are you really?
What do you mean?
Well, nobody hoofs it all the
way from Ohio to Hollywood
to sit behind a desk.
No, no, let me guess.
You're not an actress.
(laughs) No.
You're a writer.
How did you know that?
Yeah, lucky guess.
How did you know that?
It's lucky guess, Lucy.
Now tell me your story.
Well, I'm not sure there's too
much I can say about myself.
Well, hold on now,
that's not fair.
I just told you my sad story.
You got to tell me something.
Start at the beginning.
What's your favorite color?
What's your favorite number?
17 and 1/2.
What's your picture?
Wagons West.
(gentle music)
We had a poinsettia on
our table every Christmas.
My mother was a seamstress
for the mayor's wife,
and she would gift us one
every season because she
said it wasn't really
Christmas until
you had your "poin-settia."
Are you still close
with your folks?
I've been an orphan
for a long time.
They both passed.
My mother actually
left when I was little.
So it's just been my dad
and my sister and me.
I'm so sorry.
Oh, it's OK.
Thank you.
But I learned a valuable lesson.
If you put your faith in
people, eventually they're
going to break your heart.
So you have to protect yourself.
You know?
I've been giving
a lot of thought
to your idea about Charlie
giving up his wings for love.
And I think that he would.
Would you?
Would you really give
up what you wanted
more than anything
else in the world
for someone else's happiness?
I don't know.
But I hope that one day, I love
someone enough to find out.
(gentle music)
Detective pictures.
What you write,
you write detective
pictures like Dorothy Parker.
(laughs) What
makes you say that?
Well, I mean, you
don't strike me
as the sword and
sandals type, and you're
a little down on romance.
I am... what...
I am not down on romance.
I just want to write something
that's real and meaningful.
Can't get any more meaningful
than two lonely hearts
finding a little slice of
happiness in this crazy world.
Give a little hope
to us poor saps.
As my friend Jimmy likes
to say, "The best movies,
they inspire us.
They show us what we could be,
appeal to our better angels."
(laughs) That's very good.
Thank you.
I don't write
detective pictures.
Oh, oof.
Usually, I am very good at this.
Hold on.
Let me see.
You're an early riser.
Night owl.
You prefer dogs to cats
Meow, meow.
You like your coffee
with cream and sugar.
You arrived at parties
late and you leave early.
Now that I do.
Me too.
Give me your hand.
Oh, gosh.
I forgot.
High five.
It's like good job.
Come on, try.
High five.
Yeah, it's something
we do where I'm from.
Santa Monica.
By way of Ohio.
(gentle music)
(inquisitive music)
Oh, Ms. Majors.
Have you seen this Hardgrove?
Well, she mentioned
she wanted to take
some additional reference
photos of the hourglass.
I thought I'd give her a
chance before it's gone.
It's going to be picked up by
the Smithsonian curator right
after the holiday party.
Tomorrow night?
So if you see her,
you'll tell her?
Well, thank you for the hot
chocolate and the company.
I'm not half bad if you don't
race off mid conversation.
Well, good night.
Well, no, I'm going to
walk you to your room.
Oh, oh.
No, that won't be necessary.
I insist.
(soft, light music)
Oh, well, this is... this is me.
Are you sure?
And you're sure you're sure?
I'm sure I'm sure.
That's funny because
359, that's mine.
Oh, three.
Oh, does that say three?
Um, I'm one floor up.
So I guess I'm walking
you to your door.
(laughs) You're a little
screwy, aren't you?
Honey, you have no idea.
Good night, Lucy.
Good night.
I'm sorry.
Excuse me.
I think Judy Garland is
stuck in your elevator.
I can hear her shrieking.
In E flat.
(soft slinking music)
(whistles softly)
(gentle music)
I hear your Balaban's girl.
(laughs softly)
You're not really thinking of
recasting Rebecca, are you?
Where did you get that idea?
Well, a film is ever evolving.
It's a good ending.
I'm sorry they're
making you change it.
No one's asked me to change it.
They didn't?
Not unless you're the messenger.
No, I like it.
I will admit Harold
had his reservations,
but it's the only
ending I could see.
Yes, it's honest.
I mean, life rarely
gives us happy endings.
That's true.
(christmas music)
My dad always says Christmas
is good for two things,
and one of them is reconnecting
with people we love.
What's the other?
(laughs) Eggnog.
(chuckles) You heard her.
Two, please.
(laughs) Thanks.
Hey, cheers.
We were together for 15 years.
Every Christmas, I'd always
ask for the same thing...
A new tie.
She always insisted
on tying it for me
to make sure it was straight.
It's the only time I ever
let her fuss over me.
And then one day, she told me
that she was tired of sharing
me with my job.
I can't blame her.
It's a lonely life.
Have you thought about
telling her that you miss her?
Great gal like that doesn't
wait around for an old fool
like me to come to his senses.
Thanks, but I would rather
spare myself the heartache.
It doesn't seem like you've
been spared much at all.
(gentle piano music)
(light music)
What are you going to
do for Christmas, Lucy?
I know, let's time travel back
to 1947 and get stuck there.
(sighs) Why couldn't the
hourglass be a DeLorean?
(upbeat piano music)
Don't stop on my account.
I was enjoying the show.
Actually, you're in
time for the duet.
Oh, brother.
I mean, you said for
yourself, you go caroling
every Christmas Eve, right?
That's true.
Well, you know "Jingle Bells"?
Do I know "Jingle Bells"?
Say, do I know "Jingle "Bells"?
("jingle bells" playing)
Oh, excuse me.
(SINGING) Dashing
through the snow...
(SINGING)... on a one
horse open sleigh.
O'er the fields we go,
laughing all the way.
(SINGING) Bells on bobtail ring.
There it is.
(SINGING) Making spirits bright.
(SINGING) What fun it
is to laugh and sing
a sleighing song tonight.
(BOTH SINGING) Oh, jingle
bells, jingle bells,
jingle all the way.
Oh, what fun it is to ride
in a one horse open sleigh.
Jingle bells, jingle bells.
(SINGING) Jingle all the way.
(BOTH SINGING) Oh, what fun
it is to ride in a one horse
open sleigh.
There we go.
They never should have cut you
for Meet Me in Poughkeepsie.
Better save the encore.
You hear the news?
What news?
Hayward's out.
She's fired?
She quit.
(dramatic music)
What do you mean she's gone?
Peggy said that she grabbed
all of her stuff and took off.
Had the sound guys
toting her luggage.
Maybe it's time to replace her.
You can't.
What about everything
you shot already?
(sighs) We'll cut our losses.
There's nothing we can do.
The studio will jump at the
chance to cast a bigger name.
It was the fight of my
life to get them to agree
to Ava in the first place.
Just give me today.
I'll find her.
Please, it's Christmas Eve.
One day.
Hey, wait, where are you going?
Hold on.
Lucy, what are you going to do?
I'm going to go search every
hotel, airport, and bus station
until I find her.
She can't have gotten far.
Why are you sticking
your neck out?
You heard what West said.
Your boss never wanted her.
He'll probably be over the moon.
Any meddling behind his back is
going to land you in hot water.
Now, I like Ava.
But you don't owe her anything.
Yes, I do.
This whole thing happened
because I came in.
I'm going to make it right now.
Is there a phone around here?
Lucy, you may be OK with
crossing Mr. Balaban,
but I got a three-picture
deal on the line.
I understand.
I do, actually.
I think there's a
phone at the inn.
(soft music)
(light festive music)
(horn honks)
Hop in, kid.
I got a tip from the
parking attendant.
I heard that she was headed
for the train station.
Come on.
(upbeat jazzy music)
Excuse me.
What time is it?
Oh, it's going to be a
miracle if we find her.
Well, lucky for you,
it's Christmas time,
and there's a miracle
around every corner.
That's a line from the movie.
It's a good line.
Ah, see?
There she is.
(clears throat) Ava.
Save your breath, Huston.
I've made up my mind.
Come on.
Come back to set.
We need you.
You and I both know I
wasn't the studio's choice,
first, second, or third.
Mr. Balaban's had my
replacement lined up for weeks,
with the enthusiastic
endorsement of Mr.
Claude Lancaster no doubt.
Who cares what they think?
You were born to play this role.
She's right.
Worst thing you can
do in this business
is overstay your welcome.
The audience gave up
on me a long time ago.
Maybe it's time I took the hint.
What are you going to do?
I haven't decided yet.
Maybe I'll buy a farm with
some chickens and an old goat.
A goat?
Yes, get a slice of
that simple life.
I know things seem
bad right now.
But you are destined
for great things,
and it all starts
with this part.
Your friend talks
like a fortune cookie.
I know, that's a
part of her charm.
Now arriving, 6:20 to New York.
Well, I appreciate the pep
talk, but that's my train.
You can't go.
Hey, you know what?
Lucy, let her go.
She can't hack it anyway.
Have you heard back
from Hepburn yet?
Uh, well, actually, we're
going to go with Veronica Lake.
I think Claude's a big fan.
Oh, I bet he is.
Ah, Ava, I'm so sorry.
This is business movie talk.
It doesn't it concern you.
Sayanora, arrivederci, all that.
Send us a postcard
when you get there.
He says he's going to give her
a (clears throat) top billing.
Oh, is that so?
And the bigger dressing room.
You don't say.
You know, Claude is a swell guy.
Swell, my foot.
Claude Lancaster wouldn't
know good intentions if it
knocked him upside the head.
And if he thinks for one
second he's going to replace me
with one of those
silly actresses
from his Christmas list, well,
he's got another thing coming.
And for the record, I saw
right through this little song
and dance.
But does that mean you're
coming back with us anyway?
I just remembered.
I'm allergic to goats.
Oh, boys?
(laughs) Well, we
just squeaked by.
(laughs) Hey.
(train blares)
Thanks, fellas.
(light jazzy music)
Well, now you are an odd duck,
but I think I got your number.
You say that you're
a solo act, but you
seem to care an awful lot about
the happiness of other people.
Well, guess you've got
me all figured out.
Almost all figured out.
There is one thing
I'd like to know.
What's that?
Would you like to be my
date to the Christmas party?
Oh, brother.
Is it too late to
pick the chickens?
(BOTH) Yes.
(upbeat jazzy music)
You look beautiful.
Thank you.
Ava lent her dress.
You're welcome.
(light jazzy music)
Thank you.
You're welcome.
Now, the family
started this tradition
of handing out presents on
Christmas Eve back in 1895.
Can you believe that?
It's been nearly 52 years.
Is that...
Mm-hmm, that's Bill's wife.
(light cheerful music)
Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas.
Thank you.
You're welcome.
Well, I see you managed to
corral our wayward star.
Yes, with a little help.
I wanted to thank you.
I took your advice and called
my wife and apologized,
told her I missed her.
What did she say?
She asked me what
took me so long.
(laughs) You know, I guess my
happy ending was always there.
I just needed to open
my eyes and see it.
And maybe these characters
deserve a happy ending, too.
He ain't lying, sheriff.
The horse belongs
to Billy the Kid.
(imitates gunfire)
Oh, you got me.
Well, if I don't see you before
tomorrow, Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas.
(soft, light music)
(slow festive music)
I know your secret.
Mm, you talked Ava
back into the picture.
Yes, well, you have
nothing to worry about.
She's going to be great.
Oh, we had a plan.
You had a plan.
There was no we.
Ah, see, now that's where
you're wrong, Ms. Hardgrove.
May I cut in?
I should have known
that your dance
card would have
filled up the minute
you stepped on the dance floor.
This is where I admit
I have two left feet.
Ah, well, then just
follow my lead.
(soft music)
You know, the thought
has just occurred to me
that it is Christmas
Eve, and I didn't
get you a Christmas gift.
I don't need a gift.
Yeah, but I want
you to have one,
and I think I know
just the thing.
(laughs) I can't
take your watch.
Yes, you can because I think
that you use it more than I do.
And next time
you're running late,
well, you can think of me.
I will.
Thank you.
What are you doing
New Year's Eve?
If you don't have to get back
to Los Angeles right away,
there's a little shindig
down in the village.
Too much too soon?
I just... I feel like I have
always meant to know you.
And now that I've
met you, I can't
see a future without you in it.
Oh, gosh.
I'm sorry.
What am I doing?
This isn't real.
None of this is real.
I'm so sorry.
I wasn't expecting you.
(somber music)
Oh, Ms. Hardgrove, I've
been looking for you.
Is everything all right?
Thank you.
Well, we were able
to fix the hourglass.
The hourglass.
I took care of it.
Good as new Thank you.
Where is it?
It's in the prop master's
truck, parked right out front.
All right.
Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas.
(gentle music)
Here, sweetheart.
Michael, I told you to
stay where I could see you.
Your grandfather
will be back as soon
as he's talked to Mr. West.
Michael Balaban?
Well, that means
your grandfather is...
He just got in.
Come along now.
(dramatic music)
Where's West?
I'm not sure, sir.
I think his wife just arrived.
Do you know how much money
I've sunk into this picture?
Too much for him to
take a second honeymoon.
I just wanted to talk to
you about Ms. Hardgrove.
Ms. Hardgrove?
The studio liaison you sent.
Son, if I sent
someone in my place,
why would I be standing here?
But she's been on set for days.
Probably works for
one of those tabloids.
You, come here.
I want you to find this
Hardgrove lady, now.
(foreboding music)
(light music)
Oh, I just can't thank
you enough for taking
me through the house again.
It's just so much to see.
And we only have a few
dozen more items to get to.
We're going to have to
get to that tomorrow
because I have got...
But I won't be here tomorrow.
I'll get Paige.
I'll get...
What happened?
It's my trick knee.
It always acts up in the cold.
(heavy music)
Can we talk?
I have to go.
Go where?
I can't explain it right now.
Jack, I'm not who
you think I am.
What does that mean?
Who are you?
There she is.
Oh, no.
(tense music)
Ms. Majors, stop.
Why are you running?
(tense music)
What is going on?
You can trust me.
Talk to me.
I'm not from the studio.
Where are you from?
I'm from the future.
What's the gag?
I'm from 80 years
in the future, Jack.
I turned an hourglass,
the one that I broke,
and it brought me here,
and now I'm stuck.
You're serious.
If they find me,
they'll take me away,
and I'll never be
able to get home.
Let me in, Jack.
Give me a key for this door.
I know it sounds crazy.
I do.
Let me in!
You got five seconds to
open this door, Huston,
or you could kiss
your career goodbye.
(tense music)
I just need to get
to the hourglass
on the prop master's truck.
There's a back door,
up those stairs.
I'll buy you some time.
Thank you.
(soft music)
Thank you.
Thank you.
I'm glad that you
came into my life,
even if it was only
for a little while.
Oh, Jack, there's something you
need to know about your life.
On Christmas Eve 1948...
(lock clicks)
Where's the girl?
Hiya, fellas.
Where's the girl?
Don't be smart with me, Huston.
I saw her come in the room.
Now where did she go?
She went home, Balaban.
(tense music)
Where do you think you're going?
Oh, hi, I was looking for you.
Save it.
I know you're not
from the studio.
Fine, you got me.
I'll see myself out.
Ah, ah, ah.
Not so fast.
Mr. Balaban would
like a word first.
She's a fraud!
I'll take care of this one.
Thank you.
And another thing.
I'll be taking top
billing and the bigger
dressing room, buster.
(tense music)
But it's Christmas Eve.
Can't it wait until tomorrow?
I'm sorry.
The curator's waiting.
(tense music)
(soft music)
(soft somber music)
(sand trickling)
Please, please,
just one more day.
There you are.
Oh, thank goodness.
Your friend was very
determined that you
have one last chance
to see the hourglass
before we took it away.
Thank you.
I'm all set.
Where have you been?
It's a long story.
Well, did you find it,
what you were looking for?
(tense music chord)
(soft, gentle music)
I tried to warn him.
I guess some things are
just always meant to be.
They're showing His Merry
Wife! in the theater soon.
I could save you a seat.
No, thank you.
I think I'll just
call it a night.
Don't look now, but I
think we have an audience.
Will your parents
ever approve of me?
(stifled giggle)
Oh, hush now.
They'll come around, kid.
And if they don't?
Tell her that you'll
whisk her away.
(gentle music, chatter)
Hiya, kid.
Well, I'm sure glad you're back.
Couldn't let you hog
all the spotlight.
(laughs) Well, I
guess you'll need
this, the rewrites from West.
Go on, read the last page.
(SINGING) Have yourself
a merry little...
The old man had a
change of heart.
Looks like you got
your happy ending.
(SINGING) Next year, all our
troubles will be out of sight.
Someday soon, we all will be
together if the fates allow.
Until then, we'll have to
muddle through somehow.
So have yourself a merry
little Christmas now.
I'm so glad you
came into my life.
I don't regret it at all,
even just for a little while.
I wish you didn't have to leave.
I'm always going to be with you.
And when you look up
the stars at night...
I'm going to be there.
Merry Christmas, Charlie.
Merry Christmas.
Nice work.
It is a lovely scene, Lucy.
I'm so glad you kept
the happy ending.
Me too.
You nailed it.
Great work, kid.
There won't be a dry
eye left in the house.
Thank you.
I can honestly say my
time here was worth it.
I can say it really was.
I just had the strangest
sense of deja vu.
That is so exciting.
Would you excuse me
for just a moment?
See you at the wrap party.
I want to talk next steps.
I see big things in your future.
Give me one sec.
What'd you think?
This is going to be better
than Check in to Christmas.
(gentle music)
Fresh from its debut
at the Smithsonian.
Still got time to
put it in your movie.
We've replaced it with a
different, less breakable prop.
I just thought you might
like to see it one last time
before it goes
back in the vault,
considering your history.
(soft music)
Goodbye, Jack.
(gentle music)
How are you here?
Well, you're a hard one
to forget, Lucy Hardgrove.
Now, I tried a thousand times
to get that hourglass to bring
me to you, and it never worked.
And then I remembered
something that you told me...
December 24, 1948.
I guess I just needed a
little Christmas magic.
The newspaper said
that you died.
It's a cover story
that we planted just
in case of an unexplained
Does that mean you...
You stay?
Well, that depends on you.
You would really
give up everything
you've ever known for me.
Because I love you.
(light music)
So this is the future, huh?
Stick with me, kid.
I'll show you around.
Well, I'm planning on it.
Merry Christmas, Jack.
Oh, merry Christmas, Lucy.
(light cheerful music)
(upbeat jazzy music)
(audio logo)