The Big Knife (1955) Movie Script

'This is Bel Air.
'The lush, luxurious retreat
of the wealthy and powerful.
'If you work in the motion picture industry
and are successful,
'this well-tended suburb of Hollywood is
where you will probably make your home.
'Failure is not permitted here.
'Our story has to do
with a 20th-century phenomenon.
'Name: Charlie Castle.
'Profession: movie star.
'Problem: survival.
'Charlie Castle is a man
who sold out his dreams,
'but he can't forget them.'
Great, isn't he? What a guy.
Tell him I'm here.
Sure, Patty, right away.
I know he'll be glad to see you.
Hold it.
- What's up, Buddy?
- Patty Benedict's here.
What, did she just walk in?
I was told she was going to drop by here,
I raced right over.
- Patty Benedict.
- Aargh!
- You had me tied up in there, didn't you?
- You came in too fast, sweetheart.
What's Patty want, Charlie?
Oh, Marion, separation.
How does it get around?
What did you tell her?
If I had, she wouldn't be here now.
I work for the studio.
I have to keep you out of trouble.
So get me out of this.
- Play ball with her, huh?
- Play ball?
I'd like to play ball with her head.
Take it easy, will you?
Schmooze her a little.
She's got 18 million readers.
I'll have her out of here
in five minutes flat.
Relax, Buddy. Stop worrying.
I've handled this a hundred times.
What a guy.
You had me scared there for a minute.
Patty, darling.
How are you, sweetie?
- Light my cigarette, Chuck.
- Sure.
What happened to you last night?
I looked around and you'd gone.
I asked Mike, but...
Smiley Coy had somebody
he wanted me to meet,
some of those strip-shirts
from out of town.
Who wants what
from the lemonade stand?
- Buddy?
- No, no, thanks.
I like the airiness of this room.
- Oh, French paintings, dear one?
- Yeah.
Don't you buy American anymore?
Let nothing you dismay, sweetie,
I don't know one painter from another.
He doesn't know
one painter from another.
I wouldn't want my fans
to think I'd gone arty.
- They're Marion's hobby.
- Yeah, they're his wife's hobby.
How long do I know you, Chuck?
Oh, a fat nine, ten years.
When we first met, all you could
talk about was the New Deal
or the fair deal or some deal.
I believed in it.
What do you believe in now?
Health, hard work,
rare roast beef
and good scripts.
You're a lot smarter child
than you used to be.
I had to learn, Patricia.
Charlie's slogan: "Got a message,
send for Western Union."
- I hear your new picture's good.
- It'll pay a dividend.
- What about your new contract?
- What about it, Buddy?
The studio got the contracts all...
Stanley Hoff told me last week,
you were about to re-sign.
He's the head of the studio.
It doesn't cost him a thing to dream.
- Are you and Stanley having a feud?
- How could I feud with Uncle Hoff?
- Mr. Hoff's been like a father to Charlie.
- Why, sure.
Chuck, I'm off to Metro.
But before I go, I want the truth
about the separation rumors.
She's always trying to tag me.
The rumors are just that, rumors.
- No basis.
- But why in the world...?
Marion took Billy to the beach
because he's got a cold.
I don't think I'd ever forgive you
if someone else printed
your divorce story before I did.
I hope you understand that.
He understands that.
Do I?
- What Charlie means by that is...
- Shut up for five minutes.
I want my gossip from
the horse's mouth, not his tail.
Come on, Patty, it's his living.
Is it impossible for you
to be democratic?
Fix yourself a drink, Buddy.
Look, I don't want you to get stiff,
take a chill.
- How are you, Miss Benedict?
- Fine, thank you, Nick.
Well, that's nice.
I've got everything ready for your rub.
Thanks, character.
One thing I've never understood.
Why did the studio give Bliss back
his job after that scandalous mess?
Buddy Bliss is a first-rate publicity man.
He's also a close personal friend.
I know.
You were a character witness for him
and you paid all his legal fees.
I don't get your point, sweetie.
Buddy went to jail for 10 months.
Besides, it's all past and forgotten.
It's not forgotten
if I choose to revive it.
Now, why would you want to do that?
Some of you forget that this town
has got to keep its skirts clean.
At the studio Christmas party,
this idiot steals your car...
- He borrowed my car.
- He drives along half-drunk...
He wasn't drunk, sweetie.
That was cleared in court.
The fact remains, he hit and ran.
How friendly did you feel
when Big Brains here
ditched the car on your lawn
and the police walked in Christmas Eve?
- All he did...
- Now, Patty.
All he did, your dear friend,
was to almost ruin a career
right out of the storybooks.
I thought we could be human enough
to forgive that.
Didn't he step up in time
and take the blame?
Well, I still think
it was very poor public relations
giving him his job back that way.
Patty... with all the headlines
in this crazy, mixed-up world,
why would you want to open up
that tired old can of peas?
I'll make a swap.
What about your marriage?
Is this your answer?
You've just done a very foolish thing,
Thanks for the visit.
Be well and strong. God bless.
Hello. Am I interrupting
anything important?
- Hello, Mrs. Castle.
- Hello, Miss Benedict.
Hi, honey.
I didn't know you were in the house.
I just came into town to shop.
- Hello, Marion.
- Hi, Buddy.
You know there's innate power
in the world, Bud, needs publicity.
What laundries do
to sheets and pillowcases.
- Every month I buy a dozen.
- Why don't you try the May Company?
They sell a fine percale sheet
at a really modest price.
Tell me, Mrs. Castle, do you and Charlie
still use a double bed?
Or is that a foolish question,
since you're separated now?
You are separated, aren't you?
Patty, you sure take the cake
for persistence.
We're all sensible, sophisticated people.
There's no use wearing crepe.
There were over 400,000 divorce cases
in this country last year.
It's getting as common
as the ordinary head cold.
You know, you may be right,
Miss Benedict.
However, I find it sad.
And our personal life is not your affair.
- And you're the child who'll tell me.
- Marion...
Im the one in this town who's not afraid
to tell you to mind your own business.
All right, Im glad we've come
to an understanding.
- Now, Patty...
- No fuss, Chuck.
I know when I've worn out my welcome.
I'm aware of that.
For Pete's sake!
Ace, you'd better do something,
or we'll all end up the creek.
Look, angel,
what do you think you're doing?
She doesn't play Madam Pry with me,
not in my own house.
Patty, wait!
Im in the movie business. I can't
afford your acute attacks of integrity.
Oh, the way you talk to her!
- How's that?
- Liquid honey.
- Oh, Im insincere with her.
- Husband, be insincere with me.
Patty's got 18 million readers.
Why antagonize her?
Where's the sense?
From time to time,
I believe in being completely senseless.
Im a woman, not a diplomat.
The way you said "God bless"
to that one!
I should think it'd make you
want to throw up.
Of course, you're not sincere.
How have you been?
Fine. Just fine.
You know,
Im beginning to like this picture.
Could make the Olympic team.
You're right about this Rouault guy.
He broods.
There's a certain quality.
I don't know...
Ive been looking at it a lot
the last few days.
Sometimes, when Im alone lately...
An old clown waiting in the wings,
waiting to go on.
Cut a few capers, knock 'em dead.
But he's done it a million times.
Lt doesn't mean anything anymore.
- Too fortissimo?
- No.
Id buy it all back.
How's Billy?
I haven't seen him for two weeks.
- Three weeks.
- Okay, three weeks.
He has a cold.
- Fever?
- Uh-uh.
But, you know, it hangs on.
You just can't keep him out of the ocean.
- ls it lonely at the beach?
- Yes.
- Very lonely?
- Charlie, don't start this, please.
Come back, angel, I can change.
How can you change?
You've been this way for so long.
I can. You've got to believe me on this.
I have believed you before this,
any number of times.
- You don't think those occasional girls...
- Yes, I do think those occasional girls!
A man can live only one of two ways,
either married or like a bachelor.
What you want is the best of both!
And that's not a marriage, not in my book.
Charlie Cass...
He was a wonder.
I was Mrs. Cass.
Now you're Hoff's Mr. Castle.
Oh, come on! I don't buy that.
I don't belong to Stanley Hoff!
- No?
- No! Im a free agent!
Are you going to sign his new contract?
Marion, I want you
to come back home to me.
- Just like that?
- Yes.
Im far from perfect,
but you're making a mistake
if you think you can face
this big, wide world alone.
Don't tell me you've got Billy, because
he still eats a grape in four bites.
Without me, you don't have a family.
You don't even have a friend,
unless it's Hank Teagle.
Hank was my friend
long before he was yours.
Hank asked me to marry him last night.
What did you say?
What could I say?
He's got his nerve.
- All he said was "if".
- If?
If, if, if!
I tried to avoid this conversation,
didn't I?
Okay, you win.
Famous husband remarks, "You win."
Please, don't be such a housewife.
Leave the lousy glasses alone!
We pay somebody to do that!
The lousy strap's broken
on my watch, too.
Ill be needing a check for Monday.
The bills are piling up.
All right, Ill have Harold
send it from the office.
Why, Mrs. Castle.
I didn't hear you come in.
- This is a real pleasure.
- Thank you, Russell.
Everything running all right?
Smooth as silk, Mrs. Castle.
Just fine.
That's good.
Ill see you before I leave.
Thank you.
- Oh, would you mind taking this out?
- Yes, ma'am.
Are you renewing with Hoff or not?
Where does Hank get the nerve
to propose to you?
Forget about Hank.
He's leaving for New York in two weeks.
To find a 40-cent gin?
He's writing a new novel.
He's been on the wagon for weeks.
Look, you say you want me
to come back to you.
Well, believe me, I won't, not ever,
if you sign that contract.
Oh, that again!
I never expected to see the day
when a firm deal would give you
chills and fever!
Neither did I.
I'm as human as the next one.
It's a fabulous deal,
but it's for seven years,
and the life that goes with it.
Or should I say
the death that goes with it?
Look at yourself.
You're half-dead right now.
I haven't seen you sparkle in years.
You put on a show for other people,
but Im your wife, I know it.
Charlie, my Charlie...
What's happened to your mind,
your spirit, your soul?
Charlie Cass, the guy I married.
He was a tiger. He liked to argue.
Because you believed in things,
and what you believed in,
you fought for.
And that was Charlie Cass.
What do you believe in now?
What do you want?
The wild-eyed kid I was,
nursing a cup of coffee in Walgreens,
yelling about the sad state of the theatre?
Ill tell you what I don't want.
I don't want one of those witless,
sold-out guys sitting around a gin table,
swapping phone numbers
and the latest dirt!
Oh, how you talk.
Charlie, I don't want you
to sign that contract.
You've given the studio
their pound of flesh.
Im Hoff-Federated's biggest star.
Im worth millions a year to them.
- He won't let me go. You know why.
- Tell him you're leaving Hollywood.
Promise never to make pictures
for anyone else.
Fine. What do I do? TV, a play?
The theatre's a bleeding stump.
You gotta wait years for one decent part.
And anyhow,
what is all this arty bunk?
You know this industry is capable
of turning out good pictures,
pictures with guts and meaning.
Sure, sure, and we know
some of the men who do it.
Stevens, Mankiewicz, Kazan, Huston,
Wyler, Wilder, Stanley Kramer,
but never Stanley Hoff!
Never! Not once!
Not for the life of him!
Not for all the pompous
press statements!
Stanley Hoff will personally produce
'War and Peace' by Tolstoy!
That'll be the day.
Starring Charlie Castle
with a bull whip in one hand...
And...a bleached blonde
in the other.
Oh... Charlie.
Come here, please.
Darling, there'll always be
Stanley Hoffs in this world.
Not just in the movie industry,
but everywhere.
Always one who, just by his contempt
for decency and human dignity,
tries to drag you down with them.
Charlie, no.
Im Hoff's prisoner and angel, and
signing this contract is the ransom fee.
I didn't have the nerve that night.
- I made the wrong decision.
- We made the wrong decision that night.
- I should've swung the other way.
- Darling, we both failed.
I should've snapped out of my self-pity
and shoved you.
But we have a second chance.
It's a gamble, I know.
I know what Hoff can do
if you refuse to sign.
- You think you know.
- Charlie, he's only a man.
He's not God,
to strike us down in his wrath.
You really want to throw this away?
I know I'm talking about your fabulous
career and all that goes with it,
but refuse him, Charlie,
turn him down.
...l'll try.
I haven't actually agreed to sign.
I've been stalling for weeks, for months.
And Nat's coming by.
Maybe he can come up with a big idea.
Im very fond of Nat,
he's good and kind.
But you'll have to fight this one
by yourself.
- Lt may not work.
- Lt's in your hands.
We do love.
I mean...
We do love each other, don't we?
That's the thing, the big thing.
I need you.
I want you to tear Stanley Hoff apart,
- Hi, Nicky.
- Hello, Marion.
Oh, er... I hope I'm not interrupting
anything important.
You are, but it's all right.
It's time for his rub, Marion.
- Oh, that can wait.
- No, it can't.
He'll be right out, Nicky.
Tiger, I want you in condition,
in the pink.
I have a million things to do,
and a household to move by suppertime.
- Household?
- Sure.
Me, Billy, the whole shebang.
We're yours, aren't we?
Ill call you later.
See you later.
Goodbye, Tiger.
Eighth Avenue, Jacob's Beach.
You and me, going to St. Nick's.
Yeah, sure.
Oh, there's your agent.
Hey, Nat!
What are you doing there, Nat, old kid?
- Gentlemen!
- What do you say, huh?
- Charlie.
- No, Im greasy, you'll get all dirty.
Say, Nat, when Im through, how about
me working that shoulder of yours?
Nicky, you're a sweetheart,
but the doctor says diathermy and shots.
No friction.
Ah, bursitis.
What's the fashion in the industry?
The rage. I get bursitis.
But thank you, Nicky, you are
a true gentleman for wanting to help.
Water when you're thirsty.
Not to digress, I saw
your business manager this morning.
He says you're being a bad boy.
Checks he didn't approve.
What am I supposed to do,
ask Eisenhower if I can slip
a hungry rider $200?
That's the least of my problems.
Problems. Life is all problems.
They work out.
Well, Ive got a honey for you, Nat.
Marion's dead set against the contract.
Her, Im going to talk to.
You don't have to tell the old man.
You two are such sweet mortals.
I know she's a little hectic.
I don't want to sign it.
I'm afraid if I do, it'll cost me my family.
Look, Marion will cool down, Charlie.
- Ill talk to her and you'll sign the...
- You don't hear one thing I say, do you?
- Nothing!
- Darling, listen.
Listen? Why should I listen?
You never listen to me!
Im listening now.
I don't want to sign the contract!
- You don't?
- No, I don't.
- I thought you agreed to sign it.
- Listening doesn't mean agreement.
I listen to Stanley, I listen to you,
I listen till I'm blue in the face.
But I did not agree
to sign that contract.
I can't keep doing those lousy pictures.
But it's in the contract, black on white.
You don't have to.
I approve and make sure the scripts
are good, before you even see them.
This is Charlie "Been-Around-
A-Long-Time" Castle you're talking to.
Now, come on, give,
think me a way out.
Well, darling,
first I ought to tell you
Stanley had me in his office
about the contract this morning
for two hours, Hail Columbia,
which all leads to the fact
that they're dropping in here.
- Here?
- Stanley Hoff and Smiley Coy.
- When?
- Any minute now.
To invite you to the races,
but it's going to be a showdown.
Nick, the alcohol.
Nat, you've got to get me out of this.
Darling, Im terribly worried.
Everybody has got the delusion
that you're very tough.
They mix you up
with the parts you play.
But I know you better.
You're a special, idealistic type.
The only thing is,
business and idealism, they don't mix.
It's oil and water.
A movie is not a movie to you,
it's a gospel.
But you're mistaken,
dear sir and friend, in all...
Nat, shut up! Please, shut up!
Nicky, go up to the house.
Go up to the house!
ls there anything a Greek can do?
Go up to the house, Nicky.
Let me know when they get here.
Thanks, character.
Charlie, a few important words.
We are not in a bargaining position
with Stanley,
but Id do anything you ask me,
within my power,
as the good Lord sits above.
Just get me out of here, Nat.
Stanley wouldn't let you go.
Suppose I just tore up the contract,
and we moved away?
- What would he do?
- Yes. What would he do?
God forbid what he would do.
Charlie, never underestimate a man
because you don't like him.
I know Stanley since before he had
his fingers manicured every day.
What he would do.
We've got no choice, Charlie.
You know what he's got on you.
That thing we don't talk about?
You sign, or you go to jail.
They're here!
Mr. Hoff and Smiley Coy!
Every way is a way to die, huh?
Im older.
Every way is a way to live.
I hope you're right, Nat.
Absolutely nothing.
You know how it is, Mr. Hoff.
Some fighters, they get punchy,
they hear things, but not me.
See you, Nick.
Two heads under one hat.
What goes on here?
How are you, Stanley? Smiley?
Nat's in my hair so frequently,
I don't say hello to him.
I didn't expect to find you here, Nat.
I just came in out of God's sunshine,
that's all.
- How'd you wake up this morning, kitty?
- I didn't wake up, I came to.
Fifteen minutes under a cold shower
before I could remember my name.
- Did you hear about Joe Ackerman?
- No. What?
Oh, poor Joe, poor Martha.
I saw them only yesterday.
Ill have to call there tonight.
That's a wonderful robe.
Where'd you get it?
Oh, Nick Carroll's, I think.
That's a pleasure
to feel next to your skin.
- Smiley, you find me a few of those.
- Will do.
Charles, we request the pleasure
of your company
at the races this afternoon.
I don't think I can make it, Stanley.
Im ready to bartend,
union regulations permitting.
Ill have a little sparkling water,
please, Smiley.
Don't be an old fossil, Charlie.
You'd enjoy the afternoon,
and we'd appreciate your company.
Id like to, I really would, Stanley,
but the fact is, some friends
from out of town, friends of Marion...
You know how Charlie is,
always giving of himself.
Marion, she's a wonderful girl.
I hope for your reconciliation with her
as if you both were my own family.
Thank you very much.
If we can express the divine will,
and a happy marriage
is certainly such an expression,
then we are really beginning to live
beyond our own selfish aims.
That's very sweet of you, Stanley.
Since we're here on a friendly conclave,
how about the contract?
- Come on, now, it's growing whiskers.
- Well, Im having trouble with it.
Trouble? What sort of trouble?
You tell me, Ive got broad shoulders.
people can speak frankly to me.
You're in a position which entitles you
to make the highest demands,
so, please,
tell me your innermost thoughts.
I don't want to sign the contract.
- Have you talked this over with Marion?
- Yes.
Well, you're still man and wife.
Tree and bark.
God's put that together,
I can understand that.
What does Marion want to see
in the contract?
Well, it...
Lt isn't just Marion.
We talked it over.
I don't want to sign again.
- Stanley, Charlie feels...
- No, no. You let him answer.
- Why?
- Well, it's the whole thing, Stanley.
The whole idea of signing
for that length of time.
Stanley, people can always
speak frankly with you,
and that's exactly
what Charlie wants to do.
What do you propose to do instead?
Well, I want to leave Hollywood.
Ill sign anything guaranteeing you
Ill never make pictures again.
Ive got nothing against you
or Hoff-Federated. It's just that...
Im tired.
I want to go away.
Sure, sure. I understand.
Ill tell you what, you go on a layoff.
Six months, a year even.
No, I want to go for good.
I see.
Charlie Castle,
I easily recall to mind
our first meeting
many, many years ago.
You remember
what I said at that time?
Yes, some of the things.
Please, you'll excuse me
for speaking with my eyes closed
but it helps me see better.
"I see a raw youth filled
with that special vitality of talent."
I says, if memory serves:
"Charlie Cass, you're going to be one
of the biggest stars in this business.
"Sure as there are little green apples,
"you're going to run
into many, many problems.
"That's what Im here for," I says.
"My advice is free, given with pleasure.
"I may not always be able to help,
"but probably more than not."
Charlie Castle... came to see me more than once.
- True?
- Yes, true, true.
Stanley, Charlie has always had
great respect for your judgment.
Adulation, even.
Im skipping the years of coolness
between us.
You came to my office no more.
The reason why, I never will understand.
But nevertheless,
I was there for you and yours,
and the vexing problems that are so
manifold in the heat and toil of the day.
Then, on a certain night, in this
very room, the law spelled scandal.
I was there for you then, too.
Charlie, I want to tell you
a little story.
Charles, Id like to tell you a little story!
Lt may concern you!
For a number of years,
the woman that was my wife...
Certain facts came home to me.
That was the year of the merger.
These facts came up, as I said.
My wife...
...certain scenes...
...a certain hotel room
in New York City...
...attempted suicides.
I was out of my mind.
But we brought her back that time.
Smiley was good enough
to enter my employ the year before.
Lt all added up to one fact!
Psychoanalysis! Psychoanalysis!
$30,000 or $40,000 down the drain
in one year, but not begrudged.
I thought to amuse her.
I bought her a pleasure boat, the Alberta.
Named after her, too.
Nothing helped. Nothing.
Then one day in my office,
Frank Lubner was there,
a pioneer in the industry, Smiley Coy...
I drank a light scotch and soda,
and I began to cry.
And I haven't cried like that
since I was a boy.
Because I saw, through a revelation
of pain, that my wife was determined
in her innermost mind
to destroy me and my career
out of willful, malicious jealousy.
You ask me why.
I ask you why.
But from that day on,
I realized one essential fact of life!
The woman must stay
out of the husband's work
when he earns her bread and butter!
Oh, Charlie...
The wife of a man in your position
should have the regard
and should have the respect
to help him advance his career.
Don't you think?
Charlie, you can have anything I own.
The pain of this moment...
...the memories.
I understand how you feel.
...l apologize.
We understand, Stanley.
Hear me, Stanley.
Charlie's main worry in the past,
and it's a commendable thing in itself,
he wants to make better pictures.
I meant what I said.
I'm not bargaining with you, Stanley.
You're not in a bargaining position!
But it's true,
I can't force you to sign, can I?
- That's just what you're trying to do!
- Charlie, Stanley...
Shut up, Nat!
Oh, Charles, Charles,
Im going to have to take this
very much amiss.
I offer you my hand,
and you spit in my face.
No, no, Stanley, Charlie...
Stanley, I want you to let me go.
We don't like each other.
I know that, you know it.
Ill promise you anything you want
if you'll just let me go.
Stanley, please, listen to him.
He's asking this
from the bottom of his soul...
Shut up!
Charles, I solemnly abjure realism.
I need your physical presence on the lot.
I need your body, not your goodwill.
Now, Charlie,
I want you to sign this paper
with one of the pens
that ended the Second World War.
This was used by a great American,
General Douglas MacArthur.
I can't tell you how many long months
of constructive dreaming
have gone in this moment,
and I will let nobody, or nothing,
stand in the way of that dream.
Im asking you for the last time...
Please, let me go.
I can't force you to sign, can I?
Can I?
Congratulations, kitty.
The copy's Charlie's.
Ill keep the pen.
It's my only proof that the war is over
or that it was ever fought.
Charles, we all love you!
You're a great artist, so we must learn
to expect these temperamental actions.
From now on, Charlie,
your problems are my problems.
Never hesitate to call.
Your slightest wish, your worries...
What's with you tonight, kitty?
A certain party finds itself
very fascinated.
Yeah, but like I said, I'm all tied up.
Sure, kitty.
- Nat, Im driving by your office.
- No, thank you, Im going to Culver City.
Goodbye, Nat.
Darling, I know how you feel.
The old man knows.
He twisted my neck
like I was a 10-cent rag doll.
It's not so terrible
as you're making out.
Like I was a little rag doll.
You're making a whole tzimmes
out of a simple basic fact.
Seven years of financial security.
Darling, take the long view.
Look...what could I do?
See you, Nat.
Sure, Marion. Right here.
Hello, angel.
Marion, wait...
I think you ought to know,
Hoff was here.
I lost.
Yes, I...
Drinking by yourself, Charlie?
Secret vices?
Look what the wind blew in.
Mrs. Bliss.
Isn't Buddy here?
His secretary said he was.
- I need a drink, Charlie.
- Help yourself.
- Marion still at the beach?
- Yeah.
You should keep your door locked,
You could be kidnapped
and held for a delicious ransom.
I think I'll have some Tequila.
Tequila always makes me frisky.
You want some more Tequila, Charlie?
- Where did you come from, frisky miss?
- Lunch at Friscotti's.
Oh, with that second-class neurotic,
- How'd you know?
- Oh, small town.
My baby.
Right here.
You've cornered me
at 20 different parties.
Why do you always sniff me out
when Im drunk?
- Are you drunk, Charlie?
- Stewed to the gills.
The red neon lights are on
and the sky is full of drunken blackbirds.
So drink your drink
and get out of here.
Why stand on formality, Charlie?
I find you very attractive.
You don't care what you do
to your husband, do you?
Do you?
That hurts, boyfriend.
You hurt me, darling.
Im a naughty girl.
I wish I could say I didn't like it.
Go home, Connie.
Your mother wants you.
Oh! Life's a sweet thing,
isn't it, Charlie?
That's something Buddy
will never understand.
Look, I like Buddy.
Last year, I almost left Buddy.
But then...
that terrible thing came up,
and, of course, I had to play my part,
especially since it all got so involved.
- What do you mean, "involved"?
- Stop it, Charlie.
Don't you think I know
that Buddy went to prison for you?
Don't you think I know that
you killed that child in the auto accident
not Buddy?
Buddy told you that?
You're the hero of the world to Buddy.
He'd go to prison for you,
but tell his wife?
No, that handsome Smiley Coy
called twice that night.
He's very important.
Now, why would he call Buddy?
- So I just put two and two together...
- And you got a crooked five.
Get organized, Charlie.
You're drunk.
I know, I know.
That's when I come around,
and then there's me and what you said:
"Red neon lights
and a sky full of drunken blackbirds."
This liquor's got me in a hurry.
Don't fight it, darling.
Get with it.
Gee, I don't know, Buddy.
What makes you think
that she'd be here?
It's early yet.
She could be out in a store somewhere
squandering your loot.
Don't just sit in the house, Ace.
Get out, find yourself a bar, sauce up.
That's Dr. Castle's prescription
for the blue grumps anytime.
No, wait, Buddy.
No, you can't come here.
Im going out in about two minutes.
I gotta see a fellow.
Look, she'll probably walk in
as soon as I hang up,
which is going to be right now.
No, don't thank me, Buddy.
Yeah, I know.
Oh, yes, I know, I know.
I know I'm a swell guy!
Get out of here!
You hurt me again, darling.
But you like that, don't you?
There's a word for you.
Why don't you say it, darling?
- You'd better get out of here before I...
- I know.
I know, I know.
Look, what are you?
No, I mean, seriously.
Just what do you believe in? What?
Fun, Charlie, not gloomy thoughts.
Perfume and staying young,
and goodies of every sort
and description,
and secrets and locked doors,
and enjoying the wildest things
that come into my mind.
Why don't you go home, Connie?
Your mother's looking for you.
Ill go home, Charlie, in a little while.
Ln a little while.
You do that, you do that little thing,
because Ive got some big trouble.
I don't need you for more trouble.
Im getting sloshed in my own mud
and neon lights.
- Hello, Marion.
- Hi, Nicky.
It's all right, but don't be too long.
He has to have his lunch.
- Billy, see you later.
- Bye.
- He got over his cold okay, huh?
- Last week.
- I called you six or seven times.
- I know.
You buried me deep, angel.
Listen, would you do me a big favor?
- What?
- Come to dinner tonight.
- You mean at the house?
- Yeah.
I have to do something for Buddy.
He's been avoiding me
since that Patty Benedict bit.
He thinks he let me down or something.
I don't know.
He's in trouble with the front office.
Hank asked me to have dinner
with him tonight.
Well, bring him along.
- Ive invited the Blisses for 7:00.
- All right, we'll be there at 6:30.
Because Im coming to dinner
at the house, it doesn't mean anything.
'All right, into your corner.
'Three, four...
'...five, six...
', eight, nine.
'Come on, break it up.
'Break it up.
'Nine, ten and you're out.'
That was a great picture, huh, boy?
Hey, Charlie, who was that guy?
Was that Cass?
Yeah. Ralph was referee, too,
Whose drink wants sweetening?
Marion? Connie?
Hank, why don't you break down?
It's getting so I almost like this stuff.
Hey, aren't we all going next door
to Monty's party?
Connie, you'll have to excuse me.
Ive got a rotten headache.
Oh, what a shame.
Yeah, you kids run along.
Maybe we'll catch up with you later.
Okay, handsome.
- Shall we walk or drive?
- Drive.
Leave a lot of cars out front, and
the drunks will be dropping in all night.
- How old is that picture?
- Eight, nine years.
- Why?
- Hey, you had a lot of steam.
He certainly did.
- See you later, faithless.
- Faithless?
Thanks, Charles.
- Good night, Marion.
- Good night, Connie.
- Good night, Hank.
- Good night.
What did you think of the picture, Hank?
I kept wondering what would've
happened if you lost the big fight.
Uncommercial. Kid still thinks
he's writing for Mercury and the group,
but it turned out to what
Uncle Hoff described as "disaster".
What did you think of it?
I liked it the first time,
in spite of the ending.
Well, you grieve for the past
like a weeping bird.
When are you leaving, Hank?
- I mean, leaving Hollywood.
- Tuesday or Wednesday.
Id like to see you before you go.
How about Monday?
- Any time you say.
- Okay, Monday.
- What are you doing?
- Hank's driving me back to the beach.
Do you have to go now?
I mean, it's early, 12:30 or so.
Can't we sit down and talk
or something?
Im sorry, Charlie,
but you know where that leads.
I thought maybe the three of us,
we'd just sit around and yack it up a bit.
Please, don't go.
Look, if you want to yack it up,
why don't you go over to Monty's?
There's lots of bright types
there for you.
Take it easy, dear.
Take it easy?
That's where the trouble begins.
- Come on, now, be yourself.
- That's another local remark,
which means,
"Be just like me, don't be yourself."
- Stay and have just one more drink.
- I don't need another one, thanks.
- Hank, how about another cup of coffee?
- No thanks, Charlie, up to here.
Listen, ever hear Smiley's story about
the coffee bean and the water plant?
Marion tells me that
you asked her to marry you.
Yes, I did.
Let me get this straight.
- Aren't you my friend?
- Yes, Charlie...
Then what is this routine?
Marion makes me want to live.
Most people affect me differently.
Look, Charlie, Im sorry you're unhappy,
but you lost her years ago.
Ln fairness, you can't blame me.
I don't feel fair tonight.
Where did you stash your angel wings?
Who gave you the right
to make such a decision?
My only right is
to make my own decisions.
That speech is right off the couch.
Get this straight, dreamboy.
Marion isn't going to leave me.
I make my own decisions, too.
- Listen...
- No, I want to go home.
Marion, would you let me say 10 words?
I think it'll be easier if I wait in the car.
Im sorry.
Sometimes I rant and rave
as though I had something against you.
But you've been good to me,
so good to me.
You're only good to me.
This is all a bleak, bitter dream,
a real dish of doves.
You come in here and throw
this nest of naked pigeons in my face,
what can I do, what can I say?
There are only two ways
to forget everything.
You either get drunk,
or you just stick a pencil in your eye.
Charlie, Im seeing a lawyer
in the morning.
Marion, please, don't leave me.
I swear, I'm innocent, angel.
I swear that while I'm charming
the world with my light fantastic,
Im bleeding to death under my shirt.
Can't you wait with the lawyer, angel?
Am I the worst oaf in the world?
The world's a big place.
You're the worst one in my life.
Thank you.
Do want me to take you back?
Oh, Hank...
Marion, you know I love you.
I'll do anything for your happiness.
But please, stop playing both ends
against the middle.
I don't mean to.
Then let's face the basic problem.
Lt boils down to a simple fact.
Either you still love him
and you want to live with him,
or you don't love him
and you don't want to live with him.
Charlie, please, don't worry.
It'll all work out.
- Nicky, do me a favor.
- Sure, Charlie.
Get me my robe and a blanket.
- I don't want to sleep up there tonight.
- Sure.
Look, Charlie...
If you're in trouble,
if there's anything old Nick can do,
Anybody home?
I don't hear a thing, not a thing.
Where did you come from? Next door?
Yeah. Monty Ritz. A real bash.
- Funny, you couldn't hear it in here.
- No, I had the door closed.
- Lt sounds wild.
- All the types. You know Monty.
Busted with the girls?
- How you feeling, kitty?
- Blue.
Like my dear baby's eyes.
- What did you think of Tess?
- Tess?
- Last night.
- Oh, the redhead.
She was built, but...
I don't know, I wasn't in the mood.
I think I lost a fan.
I came home and read for an hour.
What are you reading?
I don't remember
from one day to another.
I saw Tommy Murdock's new picture
this afternoon.
- Yeah, how was it?
- Disaster.
Cards or chess, or shall I take
another $100 from you at Scrabble?
No, let's sit this one out.
What are you dreaming about?
Im homesick for the East,
the four seasons.
- How old are you, Smiley?
- A million.
But young enough, to my surprise,
to still be losing my temper
with a tramp like Dixie Evans.
- What's wrong now?
- Her mouth's too big.
She's over at Monty's party, drunk.
"There he is," she says.
I turn around, and there she sits,
cute as a skinned parboiled ham.
"We know something, Smiley and me,
don't we?" she says.
Ive been trying to get Marion
to come back to me.
- Yeah?
- Yeah.
That's all I need, for her to find out
I had a girl in the car
the night of the accident.
Dixie's been hinting like that
in quite a few spots.
- You think she means any harm?
- Who knows harm?
She's always liked you, kitty.
Call her up, have her come over.
Laugh a little.
You're worried? What are you worried
about? You can do a thousand things.
Name one.
- Buy her off.
- We did, with a contract.
Oh, yes.
She's dishonest. She won't stay bought.
- Call her over, kitty.
- All right.
Anything for my art.
Women, women, women.
It's Monty's little girl singing.
Nice voice.
You should see her.
- Cute, huh?
- A barracuda.
Hello? Miss Dixie Evans is there?
Evans. Yes.
Would you get her, please?
Sounds like they're shooting off guns
or something.
- A lot of women there?
- Loaded.
What do you think of women, kitty?
There's room in the world for them.
I can't hear you. Who?
Really? You're not ribbing me?
Knock it off, will you, honey?
No, not you, Charlie.
There's somebody here with me.
Sure, it's a great party.
Where are you?
There's so much noise here.
- Would you please get him to stop?
- It's all right.
- No, I have a very important call.
- It's all right, honey, he'll be quiet.
Hello? Gee, Charlie,
a swim in your pool now?
Well, Id love to.
Listen, how do I get there?
Look, will you cut it out, please, honey?
Look, Ill take Monty's car.
Yeah, you know I never walk anywhere.
Yeah, right away. Pronto.
Id love to!
Oh, of all the types!
The first nice thing that's happened
to me in a month of Tuesdays.
Bye, honey.
Careful what you say to Dixie, Charlie.
Don't give her any more ammunition.
Listen, have you offered
to buy her contract up?
- Two months ago. Nothing.
- Two months?
You mean,
she's been blabbing that long?
The stupid little tramp. Two bits worth
of nothing with a little power.
- She doesn't want more money?
- She doesn't know what she wants.
Im betting even money,
we have to get rid of her.
Fine. How do you work that?
- Goodnight, Charlie.
- Goodnight.
How do you work that?
There's no standard procedure.
What do you do, ship her East?
Charlie, she's all mouth, all gab.
So we've got to get it fixed
she never opens her mouth again.
Well, let's wait and see
the developments.
I think I can talk to her.
Im a little fuzzy tonight.
You're saying funny things, Smiley,
but I don't see you smiling.
What do you mean,
"she never opens her mouth again?"
- That's it.
- What's it?
Charlie, she'll have to be removed.
Sorry to throw the raw meat
on the floor.
A fact, like a rock, has
certain dimensions and gravity.
Ive gone over all the choices,
one by one.
You'd make a great actor.
- Life's a queer little man, kitty.
- Yeah, kitty.
- What does Stanley know about this?
- Only what he wants to know.
There's a reason he pays me
75,000 a year, kitty.
- For a minute there, I thought...
- Charlie, you're a fanciful type.
Ln my end of the business, you have
to know types. Take your type.
The warrior minstrel with a forlorn hope.
That's you, doll.
That's Dixie.
Ill slide out the back way.
"Warrior minstrel
with the forlorn hope." Wait.
What's that from?
It's a phrase the Irish
used to understand.
You know me,
Im from those cynical Celts.
Ideals, kitty? Nowadays?
A lost crusade.
Don't study life, Charlie.
Get used to it.
Hey, you changed the subject.
You bothering to remember
everything I said tonight?
Pleasant dreams, kitty.
Smiley, listen.
The door wasn't locked,
so I walked right in.
Long time, no see, Charlie.
Well, wash my mouth out
with whiskey.
Im drinking brandy.
If I take one more drink,
I'll see a snake.
Take a light one. Don't be silly.
All right, you masochist.
Give me a scotch and soda.
I know.
How did you know
I was at Monty's party?
Oh, you're a faker.
You're very sweet,
but I don't trust you.
- Who's at home?
- Only the crickets.
- Why don't you like me anymore?
- I like you, Dixie.
Oh, I haven't seen you
since that very day
I sat in this here chair
with you and your agents.
Then I shocked them
when I asked for my contract.
Old Nat's been around, honey.
And that whole big studio,
when I think of some of the things
they do and say.
Such as?
You've got to be a girl
with a good figure to know.
And some of those guys
on a rainy afternoon.
Id like to brain 'em.
Did you know that
Im perfectly proportioned?
- Well, aren't I?
- Yes.
Of course, I understand now that
temperament is much more important
than shape and size.
But it's like I still won't get glasses.
You know, I can't see across the street.
But glasses are ugly, aren't they?
Who wound me up?
Come here.
So why don't I see you more often
in my young and thrilling life?
Here, have a shot
of Dr. Castle's pain killer.
Snake oil.
I don't care if I do see a snake.
Im sure Id much rather see a snake
than a Hollywood producer.
Who invented soda?
How do they make it?
Ooh, what a weirdie!
You're the only one
who can call me that.
Ill tell you why.
I like you, Charlie.
You've been very kind
and considerate to me.
And that is a very special matter
in my special memory box.
Im going to get a dog. A poodle.
- Do you like poodles?
- Big or little?
Ill tell you why.
When I was 16,
my family threw me out of the house.
That makes you very nervous.
I mean, a thing like that
makes you very touchy.
They just kind of gave me up for lost.
To this very day, my mother can't tell
my father that I send them money.
Catholics believe in large families.
But Ill tell you what,
Im saving my money now.
Im waiting for Mr. Right
to come along.
If I ever meet the guy around here.
My name is mud in Hollywood.
- Hey, am I boring you?
- No, honey, no.
I like to hear you talk honest.
I know what you're trying to do, Charlie.
Make me forget
about the swim you promised me.
They'd drown me
if they could, that studio.
I needle them.
I keep hinting about your accident.
Lt makes them nervous for a change.
You want to be careful.
Hoff's a man with a crocodile's temper.
Don't tell me about Mr. Hoff.
Calling me a child one minute,
and without even changing his face...
You don't see those people
from the bottom like I do, Charlie.
- You're a successful self-made man.
- Dixie...
Why don't you give me a break, please?
Sure, Charlie, dear. How?
Well, every time that you talk
about the accident, you know...
Oh, Charlie, don't be like that!
You have nothing
to be afraid of from me.
I don't talk in my sleep.
- So don't worry.
- But I am worried, dimples.
Some night, you'll have a skinful
and inadvertently...
But Ive got a skinful now,
and I didn't tell you anything
you didn't know already, did I?
Like about Sammy Burke for instance.
Now, he took this girl...
You're telling me now.
That's because you asked me.
No, I didn't ask you.
Im only giving you an example.
Charlie, dear, I know where to stop.
But I don't see any reason
to make it easy on them.
I hate them.
You know, it says "actress"
on my contract,
but they hired me for my figure,
not to act.
- But you've been acting.
- Those bits?
Three cigarette girls in two whole years.
You call that acting?
"Big part coming up.
Testing you next week.
"Won't you come out to dinner?"
And next week never comes.
Charlie, they hire girls like me
to entertain the visiting exhibitors.
We know how to dance and dress.
The clothes come out of Wardrobe.
It's cheaper than if they...
Im a deductible item.
They write me off the books!
Listen to uncle, collie dog.
Why don't you go back...
That lousy studio!
They louse you up,
and then they call you a louse!
Honest, Charlie...
Wouldn't you be mad?
Sure I would.
Well, there. See?
Look at this bit.
It's what I learned.
where is zis swimming pool
you promised me?
Here. Coming right up.
Filled with brandy.
Because the baby,
she cannot be kept waiting. Oh!
Hey, is there somebody
standing there?
This is my wife.
Miss Evans.
Er... pleased to meet you,
Mrs. Castle.
Er... we were having
a conversation.
Well, Ive got to get back
to Monty's party now, Charlie.
Thanks for the drink
and the advice about my career.
Sure, Dixie.
Thanks for coming over.
It's been very pleasant.
But, Charlie, I meant
everything I said about the studio.
Goodnight, Mrs. Castle.
Lucky I didn't find Adam and Eve
in the swimming pool.
- You're wrong, she's a little...
- I don't care what she is.
Im sorry, dear, but you're very wrong,
and Ill bet you $60 you're wrong.
I was getting ready to go to bed,
and a certain matter came up...
Why my heart should be going
a mile a minute, I don't know.
Call a cab, will you?
All right, Ill call it myself.
Can't you look at me and see the truth?
I arrived a little too soon.
That's the truth.
I had Hank drive me back from Brentwood
because I really thought you needed me.
Im all kinds of a fool to give you
a second thought, aren't I?
Yeah, yeah.
So what do you want from me?
Bright dialogue?
Something brilliant and witty?
What's your hurry?
You can call a cab anytime.
You've got all night to call a cab!
You're a great little one
for dramatic exits.
But I think this is the end of the line.
We've got to get it out on the table!
- Sit down.
- No, thank you.
If you think Im going to stay here
and listen to you, you're mistaken.
- Shut up!
- Ive just about taken...
Let me talk.
Don't push me back into
my usual position of self-justification.
For the time being, we'll throw away
a bunch of rotten grapes that's me,
that you seem to feel is me,
though I must say,
I think your judgment is lousy.
You swat the fly on my nose
with a hammer!
Throw it away.
Yet every time we talk,
it's about Charlie Castle!
Never once about his long-suffering,
sickly wife, Marion.
Do you know where your fatal error lies?
You ought to know,
so Im going to tell you.
You're afflicted with a fine, fat case
of merchant psychology.
You bargain and trifle
with your own nature. That's your error.
Tonight, you're about to possibly
destroy your life and certainly mine.
Didn't we pick each other out of millions?
Can this be bargained away
by saying, like a merchant:
"Marion will be herself and love Charlie
"only if he meets a certain price
and conditions"?
Where's the rich, full-hearted woman
I know you to be?
I say no more bargains,
no more conditions,
no more of this either-or,
neither-nor whim that strangles us both.
I say no, and I say down
with not being what we are!
You can talk.
You can talk.
How you can talk
when you're Charlie Cass.
Id like to beat you, beat you...
Marion, I need you.
I love you.
I promise you understanding,
anything I can give you.
Listen, if you leave me,
cross your fingers as you go.
Ln fact, pray for me.
But if you stay, it's got to be real.
You've got to stop
reaching for that doorknob.
You've got to love me
that much more than you do yourself.
Thank you.
Do me a favor, will you?
Grow up before it's too late.
Just one more shot, Charlie.
- Be with you in a minute, Hankus.
- All right.
- Yeah! Thanks, Charlie.
- Thank you, honey.
So you're leaving us all. Going back
to write the great American novel?
Hollywood's loss, New York's gain.
Lucky guy.
I kind of envy you, Hank.
Well, there's still time.
The Chief's a big train.
You want me to make reservations
for you?
- What's the book is going to be about?
- A man. An average man.
- A man very much like you.
- Yes, that's very average.
Now, how could a man
become a popular movie star
without reflecting the average
in one way or another?
ls it really about a guy like me?
It's a fable, about moral values.
Success, happiness.
You don't think Marion is going
to be happy here, do you?
No, I don't think
she's going to be happy.
Why not?
Because you were an idealist, Charlie,
and you sold out.
You joined Hoff, Coy & Company,
and that left you half an idealist.
There's nothing more tortured
on the face of this earth,
neither fish nor fowl.
A man who's sold out his dreams,
but he can't forget.
Yeah, but there are reasons, pal.
You don't have all the facts.
An Irishman wrote, I think I sent it to you
once, The Quintessence of Ibsenism.
He said that there are
three kinds of men.
First, the realist. Now, that's Coy.
He's made his deal with the devil.
He wouldn't be any different.
Then there's the philistine, like Hoff,
who couldn't be any different.
But they are what they are. They have
their own integrity, they're incorruptible.
Then there's the third kind,
the idealist.
That was you.
Half-idealism, Charlie,
is the peritonitis of the soul.
Go write your book, Hank.
Make it scandalous.
Wire me for money anytime you need it.
Somebody has to complete
the work he was born to do.
- Naive, ain't I?
- Yes, but it's one of your best qualities.
"Peritonitis of the soul." Those are
the words you use above ground.
Goodbye, Hank.
Goodbye, Charlie.
Struggle, you may still win a blessing.
- Mr. Coy, he's been waiting for you.
- Thank you, Russell.
Hey, kitty, what's up?
Where you been?
Ive been looking everywhere for you.
Oddly enough, Ive been at the studio.
Some stills, and I wanted
to say goodbye to a writer friend.
- Teagle?
- Yeah.
I thought he went back to New York.
I'm trying to remember his first name.
- What did he ever write for us?
- Nothing that got on the screen.
Stanley could never understand
what his scripts were about.
Charlie, something's come up,
something hot.
- I told Nat I wouldn't do that musical!
- Nothing to do with the musical.
Stanley blew his top with Dixie Evans.
He asked her to come in
this afternoon and have a talk.
She showed up one hour late, drunk,
lugging a dog on a leash.
A poodle?
The situation being serious enough,
Stanley kept his temper.
He talked to her like a father.
He said...
Let me tell you what he said.
He told her about his bootblack days
in Bayonne.
Then he chimed softly
the "uneasy lies the head" routine,
then, before you knew what was
happening, he made with the tears.
- Then what happened?
- She laughed in his face.
Told him the whole town
knew about his crying.
Lt was time to change the act.
He hit her?
Knocked her down
and kicked her black and blue.
May have broken one of her ribs.
They taped her up in the infirmary.
Our story is that the dog,
one of those great big monsters,
yanked on the leash
and threw her to the floor.
She knows she can't make
an assault story stick, but...
...she says she's ready
to spill your story to the press.
Particularly Patty Benedict.
That's love, that's love...
- Where is she?
- That bar across from Schwab's.
A woman with six martinis
can ruin a city.
- What are you smiling about?
- Am I smiling?
Well... what's next
on our sordid agenda?
Somebody's got to saddle the horse.
Get over there
and get her out of that bar.
- Get her to where?
- Her apartment.
- Why me?
- You're the only one she'll go with.
Don't worry about the telephone.
We've taken care of that.
It's been yanked.
Feed her some martinis.
That'll keep her quiet.
- Suppose they don't?
- They will. The gin's doctored.
Okay, she's on the floor.
Now what do I do?
Leave the minute she passes out.
From that moment on, you're in the clear.
Report back to the studio.
You've been there all day long
making publicity stills.
Your words have hair on them.
Your brain is full of lice.
Trust me, Charlie.
There's no time to lose.
Just bear in mind one thing.
The day you first scheme, you marry
that scheme and the scheme's children.
Everything you want this minute depends
on a few drinks in a trollop's guts.
What do you think she is?
A moth? A bug?
Speak easy.
Keep flexible, kitty.
She'll go unremembered
by the end of the week.
- Where's Stanley?
- He doesn't know about this.
Then we'll have to tell him, won't we?
You find him, Smiley. Ill get back Nat.
There's no reason for them
to be involved.
But there's plenty of reason for me
to be involved even deeper than before?
I wouldn't do that, kitty.
And don't raise your voice again.
Don't you remember?
Im the "warrior minstrel
with the forlorn hope".
- Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt.
- It's all right.
- Hello, Marion.
- Hello, Smiley.
Ill get my coat from the kitchen.
- What's she doing here?
- Cheap serf labor.
- I pay her by the lifetime.
- You were separated the other night.
Im waiting. Take that library phone
and get that weeper here.
Okay. If I can't count on you,
I'll handle this myself.
Oh, no. Murder is indivisible.
Im finding that out, like chastity.
There's no such thing as a small
amount. Im finding that out too.
- Don't blow your wig, scholar.
- Get me Stanley Hoff!
- All right, Ill do it myself.
- Don't be boyish, Charlie.
You think you can involve Stanley
in a thing like this?
- He's already involved up to his neck.
- Prove it. Try and prove it.
For your own sake, this is nobody else's
business, not even your wife's.
Marion! Marion!
Smiley Coy wants to tell you something!
Kitty, I think you've really flipped.
- Marion, Charlie's drunk.
- Go on, tell her, Smiley.
Go ahead and tell her!
Now, don't be impetuous, kitty.
Watch your step.
Charlie's not sober enough
to discuss the script today.
I have certain facts in my hands.
If they blow up,
Ive got bleeding stumps left not hands.
But you'll go, too.
This is Charlie Castle
for Stanley Hoff.
- Charlie, what is it?
- Are you going to tell her?
Marion, Charlie gets fanciful ideas
about his friend.
He's actually accusing me of plotting
the murder of a little studio bit player
who was with him in the car
the night of the accident.
Ill explain later, Marion.
Please, take the library phone
and get Nat here right away.
Maybe you know what you're doing.
- I think I'll wait.
- I know you'll wait.
You'll wait and wait and wait.
- You mishandle your friends, kitty.
- You're not my friend.
That pathetic little girl is my friend.
- Lily? Uncle Hoff, if you please.
- Could you come over right away?
I know I'm not only expressing my views,
but yours as well.
As for your idea that Smiley Coy
thought in terms of violence and crime,
with all due respect to what you thought,
I can't give it credence.
You're saying Smiley didn't tell me
anything. I just dreamed it up.
I wouldn't say you dream by day,
but after a few drinks, isn't it possible?
What is possible
is exactly what I said.
- Let me round out my thoughts.
- Don't round them out.
- I may continue...
- I don't want you to.
You're never told,
the embroidery of your speech
is completely out of proportion
to anything you have to say.
All right.
Im listening.
What do you have to say?
He came here one hour ago.
He said there was trouble.
- He then proposed that I...
- He proposed nothing of the sort!
To say a man like Smiley Coy,
a former major in the US Army Air Force,
a friend of many,
I don't know where to begin,
the late Al Jolson,
Jerome Kern, Bill O'Dwyer.
To say that this man plotted murder
is to stagger reason.
You're wasting valuable time.
Stanley, you're 1,000% right.
Pneumonia is at the door,
and we are talking about a headache.
What would you do in my place?
We have to convince this girl not to talk.
I agree with you, but you can't ask me
to go into battle with my hands tied.
Ive always been a simple man.
And I still make my breakfast
on a roll, butter and a cup of coffee.
Mr. Hoff? Can't you stop
talking about yourself?
Why does the woman have to be here?
The lady stays.
Stanley, I want to go to this girl myself
and talk to her like a father.
See if we can't work out
some feasible cash offer
out of my own pocket.
- We could split the difference.
- It's too late.
This girl is without the fundamentals
of an education and understanding.
What is the percentage for a few dollars
to cut off our nose and bite our face?
When I say no, I mean no.
There are a few people in this town
who've found that out.
- But the girl must...
- All right, thank you very much.
Wait a minute. What did Smiley whisper
into that phony tin trumpet?
You tell them, Smiley.
That she's still at the bar,
being entertained by a friend of mine.
- If anything happens to her...
- You're selling fish four days old, kitty.
She's with Monty Ritz.
ls he a conspirator, too?
Why not? For all I know, you could have
some blackmail on Monty, too.
We're talking about murder.
Your client has to learn how to talk.
We know who the expert is
when it comes to murder.
A boy like you? Who are you?
Who are you?
Some kind of special aristocracy
because the female public
wants to make love with you?
Who are you,
with your dirty, unmanicured fingernails?
And what are you without
Hoff-Federated behind you?
I built the studio!
I, with my brain and my hand!
I ripped it out of the world
with my brains and my hands!
- And who are you?
- No, this must stop!
Why do I have to listen
to this miserable boy?
A man like myself, who's wined
and dined with presidents and kings?
- Oh, my aching back!
- Do I have to cater to this?
Well, Ive had enough
of your phony senatorial eloquence.
Ill chop you down like firewood.
Lt is a bitter, miserable pity
to have to talk to you.
- That's it. That's the deal.
- Charlie, I beg of you, please!
We never have to talk
to each other again.
Nat, you're my agent.
From now on, it's you and him.
I never have to talk to him again.
- You'll drive me too far.
- Will I?
What's your boiling point, Uncle Hoff?
Well, don't sulk, don't act bored,
and please don't cry.
Charlie, I beg of you, please.
Im deliberately tampering
with your modest ego, Stanley,
because today I see
what Stanley Shriner Hoff would do
to protect an investment: murder.
This man buries himself with his mouth.
Look at him. Get his act.
He's trying to play the crocodile.
And what is he?
A little lizard under a rock.
Smiley, get together with the legal
department in the morning
and comb through the Castle contract
and find me an opening!
I think there's one other solution.
Yes, here it comes, the gimmick,
the twist, the old switcheroo.
There's always a twist, sweetie.
They always work in pairs.
There's an angle
to this Dixie problem.
- Marion, it depends upon you.
- What?
You and Charlie have been separated
three times in the last two years.
Do you love him enough
to make a sacrifice?
- Do I love him?
- Let him finish, dear.
Dixie would marry Charlie in a minute.
It'd be the fulfillment of all her dreams.
Community property laws
automatically take care of you.
Half of everything Charlie owns
belongs to you.
Gentlemen, I can't believe my ears!
Let him finish before you jump in
where it doesn't concern you, Nat.
This woman has been having to do
with a writer we had on the lot recently.
That isn't true.
From time to time, they had relations.
- That just isn't true!
- Let me handle this.
- Of course, you have proof.
- Records.
You have records of conversations
Ive had with Mr. Teagle in his office?
And tape recordings
in his office and on his couch.
Who ordered such recordings
to be made?
I couldn't say.
That's out of my hands.
- Where are they?
- Ln my car.
Get them.
Get them, Smiley.
Get them.
"Live and let live" has always been
an important motto with me, Marion.
I have nothing against you personally,
you understand.
But sometimes, for the good of the
company, Im forced to play a little rough.
Nat, a little sparkling water.
All right. All right!
My career is finished, and Im willing,
namely because you're the meanest,
dirtiest skunk God ever put breath into!
This is Mr. Hoff,
a man that I fall down on my knees
and thank my maker that I don't have
to play ball with him anymore!
Excuse me, Charlie, that Im crying.
Don't worry, Marion.
Don't worry, Charlie.
Before Ill get you in trouble, Ill put
my own head on the railroad tracks.
There's nothing to defend
about those records.
It's late.
Don't you boys ever go home to dinner?
Do that.
Do that for me, Smiley. Take Hoff home.
Get him out of here.
Oh, you're so lucky.
If this were a movie,
you'd have been on the floor 10 times.
Just a small token.
Ill break you.
Ill break you like a...
No, no, Ill let the law do it for me.
Ill let the law do it for me this time,
and you lose everything.
You lose everything. This is a scandal
and a disaster and a ruin.
The dead child's family
and the insurance company
will take everything off your back
in any court in the land.
The clothes off your back,
off your child, and off that woman.
Everything goes, Charlie.
Everything goes, the house goes,
the paintings go, and you!
Oh, you go!
Oh, no, Charles.
Oh, no.
You threw away a kingdom today.
- Go on.
- Goodbye, kitty.
Ill leave you to the wolves
and the knives.
You no longer have me and the studio
to handle the press for you.
You're through.
What I said still goes.
If anything happens to her...
The studio has no further interest
in that girl.
All quiet.
I need a tonic.
- You'll call?
- Yes.
- You're sure?
- Yes, Im sure.
Why did I add this burden
to that grotesque, devoted soul?
Did you ever notice
he moves his lips when he reads?
Darling, here's Nicky.
Well, what do you say?
Can I get you something?
Marion? Charlie?
Yeah, Nicko.
Go run a bath for me.
Good and hot. My back is stiff.
Don't worry, Ill take care of that.
- That thing between you and Hank...
- No, darling, I didn't.
Now, don't explain. I believe you.
Look how sweaty.
My hands.
Come here, angel. Sit here.
What do you think of today?
Think I can list
all the possible roads ahead?
Don't bother. We won't silence that girl.
It's become the cause of her life.
You see, everyone needs a cause
to touch greatness.
Hank doesn't leave until tomorrow.
- Did you ever tell him about all this?
- No.
Why don't we call him over?
Hank knows how to fix.
All right.
Hello, Hank?
Look, dear, could you come
over here right away?
Yes, we need your advice
about something.
Yes, it's very important.
"The times beyond
are cold and lonely.
"Far away as the stars."
But there were two of us.
Billy mustn't grow up
to be a rich man's son.
- He won't.
- They're usually made of sponge cake.
But he won't be.
You taught me so many things, darling,
even how to listen to music.
- Play some music.
- All right.
- What would you like to hear?
- Something immortal.
I don't know,
anything that's on the machine.
'Ill never leave him, Hank.
'It's not just that Im a wife
of the old-fashioned school.
'Im so deeply a part of his existence.
'No matter how many times I leave,
I always go back.
'He's part of me.
'The most terrible things he can do to me
are better than not having him.'
Lt wasn't what I expected to hear.
- ls it getting dark in here?
- Yes, darling, it is.
Ill turn on the lights.
Hello, Buddy.
Hiya, Buddy.
- What's the matter, kid?
- You were my friend.
You were my friend.
I knew what she was.
Tore the heart out of me
every time it happened.
You were my friend.
How could you...
How could you do it?
You wanna hit me?
Please, hit me.
I know you're a better man than I am.
I mean,
such a swell guy you were, Charles.
I always looked up to you.
But when she told me,
she laughed in my face.
That's how I resign.
C.U.F. Castle.
He murdered Cass. I was there.
I saw him do it.
Charlie, the bathtub's almost full.
I run out of big towels upstairs,
so I'll get some from the cabana.
Did you ever know that all my life
Ive yearned for people
to bring out the best in me.
All that embittered you.
I pledge you a better future.
Have I told you today
how much I love you?
I love you.
And Im committed to you.
We won't talk about the past.
Telephone for you, Mrs. Castle.
- It's Billy, he's calling from the Stevens'.
- Thank you, Russell.
There'll be four of us.
Make a light supper.
Light supper for four, right.
And no parsley on anything.
Mr. Castle doesn't like it.
Hello, darling. How are you?
Poor cowboys, what a shame.
Why don't you hit him back?
No, wait a minute, Billy, I was wrong.
Don't hit him back.
Explain to him that,
since he's bigger than you, it isn't fair.
Sure, Ill pick you up after lunch tomorrow.
Now, don't forget to brush your teeth.
Good night, darling.
I just let myself in.
Im sorry about what happened here
this afternoon, Marion. Deeply sorry.
May I use your phone? Don't go, you'll
be interested in what I've got to say.
Mr. Hoff is a very vain man.
We have to cater to that sometimes.
Lily, put me through to the old man.
It's important.
- Where's Charlie?
- Taking a bath. What do you want?
You misunderstand, Marion.
Im nothing more than
a sort of memo pad for Mr. Hoff.
Stanley. The girl left the bar
10 minutes ago.
Tried to navigate
across Sunset Boulevard.
Yeah, in all that heavy,
home-going traffic.
That's the picture.
Killed instantly.
How do you like that
for the luck of the Irish?
Im here using Charlie's phone now.
Okay, Ill be right back in. Bye.
- Marion, before you say anything...
- What a happy coincidence.
Lt was a city bus that hit her.
- Changes everything, doesn't it?
- Does it?
Not that Stanley's forgotten
what happened here this afternoon.
Some sort of an apology should
be arranged, carefully, of course.
Yours is just the level head to do it.
Don't you have a memory
from one hour to the next?
Don't go dramatic on me, Marion.
Seven years is a long time.
We've got a long row to hoe.
How does someone like you live?
This afternoon, you try to ruin a man
who's 10 times your better.
And when you were finished,
you toted out of here in the footsteps
of a thing not even fit to breathe.
Charlie, something
must be wrong with that valve.
- What's going on?
- ls that water?
I think you let the tub run over.
- Charlie?
- Nicky?
- Charlie!
- There's water all over the hall.
He's trying to break
the bathroom door down.
Charlie, open the door!
Get the water off!
Marion? Charlie?
Russell, what's happened?
I never in my life saw anything so wrong.
- What's happened?
- I can't tell you what happened.
- Please, Mrs. Castle. Please!
- Don't hold me! Let me go!
Im sorry,
but you can't come in.
Put me through to Eddie Fry.
Break through. This is Smiley Coy.
Pull the plug, stupid!
Eddie, Smiley. Now, listen carefully,
I don't want to repeat a word.
Get Dr. Curley, get Stanley,
send them here
to Charlie Castle's house right away.
You get here, and do your work.
Here's your work.
Take this down word for word.
"Charlie Castle, renowned star
of thirty Hoff-Federated Pictures...
"...died today of a heart attack
in his Bel Air home at...
"...7:55 Pacific Daylight Time.
"At his bedside was
his physician, Dr. Curley,
"his wife, Marion,
his 7-year-old son, Billy,
"and his close friend and associate,
Stanley Shriner Hoff."
Now get that out to the AP, UP,
and the rest of the wire services.
Don't ask questions!
Bring a dozen studio cops.
This place'll be a madhouse in a minute.
Tell Stanley he slashed himself
in three places.
Hey, Nick, snap out of it.
Go on, clean up. Change your clothes.
There'll be a nice piece of...
Hey, Pop!
Punchy, Im talking to you!
Come on, snap out of it.
You killed him.
The whole bunch of you.
You found him.
Killed him.
Go away.
It's all right, Hank. Im all right.
Help her, Horatio.
She doesn't like me.
Reporters, loads of them,
will be here any minute.
Ill talk to the reporters.
- That won't be unnecessary. Ill be here.
- That's why it's necessary.
This is no time to get contentious, kitty.
Your work is finished here.
There will be no photographers,
no more lies, no display.
Ill tell the story.
He killed himself.
Out of a pained and anguished love
he had for others,
he gave up his salvation.
But no man had a greater reverence
for life, a greater zest for living.
Yes, he was wrong.
But he just couldn't go on
hurting those he loved.