Alfred Hitchcock Presents s03e39 Episode Script

Little White Frock

Good evening.
I was just putting weights in this box of trash so it will sink quickly.
I'm about to throw it into the river.
Perhaps I should explain why I'm here.
Hitchcock is indisposed this evening.
As a matter of fact we can't find him anywhere.
I'm quite worried.
I wouldn't want anything to happen to him.
You see, I'm his brother and sole heir.
Of course, we mustn't let brother Alfred's absence interfere with the evening's entertainment.
I'm sure he would want it that way.
I have his notes.
The second item on the agenda is a drama entitled "Little White Frock.
" As for the first item, he says I know my brother thinks I'm a rather dull and somewhat of a prude, but this language is much too frank for television.
I don't know about you but I'm very curious about anything that would provoke such language.
Shall we have a go at it? "We've been so very wrong, Ella.
"Remember that old song, the Rocking Chair Blues? "Well, that's been us, I'm afraid, "rocking away these last years of our lives.
"Expecting the children to pay us the most exacting of all tributes.
"Gratitude and more gratitude.
"For what? "Because we gave them life? "Because when they were young we fed and sheltered them? "No, Ella" That'll be all for today.
Thank you, Mr.
Thank You.
We'll let you know.
Well, we still have a week to cast the part.
Oh, sure.
After all, it's only the second lead.
It's the best play you've written, Adam, but it isn't actor-proof.
We may have to postpone the start of rehearsal.
Well, we still have a week, don't we? Look, I'm meeting Koslow at the club.
You better come along.
He might have an idea.
You ask who is Strokirch? I tell you, he is only number one dramatic actor on the continent today.
But, Koslow, Strokirch sounds like he ought to be playing for Notre Dame, not on a stage.
Left guard, I'd say.
You ask for ideas.
I give you ideas.
Left guard.
What do you think of Gordon Daniels? As little as possible.
Colin Bragner.
You remember me? I saw you play Othello when I was a kid.
I'll never forget it.
I'm honored.
And may I say, sir, I regard you as the most brilliant young playwright of this new generation.
Oh, Mr.
Robinson, Mr.
Yes, I do know both gentlemen.
This is a stroke of good fortune.
I've been trying to reach you.
I was hoping perhaps you would dine with me.
I'd like to ask you Your last play moved me so deeply that I wanted you know what I felt about it.
Shall we say, tomorrow evening? Well, I doubt it.
You see, we're right in the middle of casting, and Oh, yeah, I see.
Well then, what other night this week? Well, actually, my wife handles our social affairs.
I'd have to check with her.
Of course, yes.
Well, I bid you good afternoon, gentlemen.
How about that for pure unadulterated gall? He's just lonely, that's all.
You can almost see the ghosts trailing behind him.
Once a big Broadway star, now an old man who has to beg for a dinner guest.
It's obvious why he invited you.
He knows we're casting.
He wants in.
How about that? He hasn't done anything since the Stanley Steamer.
What happens to men like Bragner? The worst thing that can happen to any of us.
Live longer than your talents.
Well, see you tomorrow at 11:00.
Don't worry Adam.
We'll have a new batch to read by then.
Greatest martini recipe in the world.
Pour vodka lavishly until Carol stops kissing you.
Better keep it a secret though.
I wouldn't want strangers using my formula.
Why do you think your vodka bills are so high? Strangers? Ready for vermouth? I think we'll confine the vermouth to the strangers, I'll handle the vodka.
Oh, speaking of strangers, we have a dinner invitation tomorrow.
A man named Colin Bragner.
You know, he had such a beautiful voice on the phone.
You didn't accept, I hope.
Why, yes.
He said that you told him just to confirm it with me.
So I thought Oh, no! This is going too far.
Who is he, dear? I don't understand.
He's an actor.
He once was a great star.
But he hasn't done anything recently.
I don't know how he can buy his own dinner, let alone invite anyone.
Well, he seemed quite insistent.
He needs a job.
He probably figured he could talk me into giving him one.
Well, if he's such a good actor, I should think you'd want him.
Darling, the man is dated.
His style is passé.
You just can't believe him anymore.
I mean, audiences won't accept him.
Well then, we won't go to his place for dinner.
That's all there is to it.
His place? Is that what he said? Mmm-hmm.
In the Village.
Oh, that'll be grim, I'll bet.
Scrapbooks, faded reviews, brass spittoons.
I'll call him and tell him we can't make it.
If you could have heard his voice, Adam.
He begged.
Oh, not really, you know.
His voice was actually quite reserved, but I could hear the begging in between.
It isn't our problem.
Darling, don't be that kind of person.
Just three years ago, don't you remember how hungry we were and how broke? Don't let's ever forget how a door looks when somebody slams it in your face.
You know, it isn't true that it's better to be a have than a have-not.
If you've got any tender spots left by the time you finally make it, being a have can be rugged too, can't it? Now that's the man I love.
The man who just said that.
Well, I warn you it could be an extremely dull evening.
Or extremely interesting.
You were not born, my dear, nor you, Mr.
Longsworth, when I embarked upon a stage career.
Then, even I was young and the names that were so awesome to me, Maude Adams, James K.
Hackett, Richard Mansfield, William Gillette Oh, so many more, must be totally unknown to you now.
May I suggest a toast? To all the forgotten actors and actresses of the past.
To all those whose only permanence lies in the memories of those who saw and loved them.
To their days and nights in stuffy lodgings, to their struggles, their adversities, and their successes.
Mmm, that's excellent.
It's quite a rare vintage, but I have another bottle.
It's yours.
Thank you, Mr.
My husband knows very little about wine.
Oh, I don't know.
I used to have a chart.
You know, showing the good years and the bad, all the fine vintages? But Carol's quite right.
I could never remember which year was which.
Anyway, I know I like this.
People are much like wine, don't you think? Good vintages and bad? It isn't really quite that simple, is it? Now don't get my husband started on people, Mr.
He has some rather startling theories about them.
I know.
It's evident in everything he writes.
He knows things not here, but here.
He writes for the actor.
He even writes parts for old and derelict actors.
Shall we take our drinks inside? Oh No, I have a woman who comes and cleans now and again.
She'll be here shortly to do these.
That shows how recent our success is.
I still can't get up from a table without reaching for a handful of dirty dishes.
Sit down.
Well, I suppose you're wondering why I imposed on you, asking you to dine here this evening.
My husband had a sort of a theory, yes.
Carol! Don't worry, dear.
I see.
You think, then, Mr.
Longsworth, it had to do with your play? I mean, my getting a part in it? Since we seem to be getting terribly candid, something in that general area, yes.
That chair, I had from Nazimova herself.
It was in her production of A Doll's House in 1907.
This fan belonged to Ada Rehan.
And I've saved the original script from my first lead on Broadway.
Not much, you think.
Not much to have left after so many years.
Well, enough sentiment.
The reason why I asked you here tonight I'm leaving the theater.
You're saying to yourself, "The old boy's been out of it for so many years now, "what difference does it make whether he leaves or stays?" But when you've been a little longer in the theater, Mr.
Longsworth, you will discover that being in it does not only mean working in it.
Being in it is to live for nothing else, as I have done.
Well, I wanted to leave you my little museum.
The chair, the fan, the script.
But why me? Because I thought you might be the one person who would appreciate them.
We would be honored to accept them, Mr.
Thank you, my dear.
Yes, of course.
I see you've noticed this.
Is it from one of your plays? No, no, no.
No, it's something far more precious.
Every stitch was put there by one of the most beautiful women I've ever known, Lila Gordon.
But then that name means nothing to you, I know.
Bragner, simply because we haven't lived quite as many years as you have doesn't mean that we don't know anything about the theater.
I happen to have heard a lot about Lila Gordon.
I'm sure my wife has, too.
I'm sorry.
I suppose I forget how famous a star she became.
But you would not remember the famous Charles Carside Company which toured the country in 19l8.
We changed our bill every night and sometimes twice a day.
Yes, and sometimes we changed our parts, too.
I remember my friend Terry O'Bane and I reversed the parts of Othello and lago on alternate nights for two weeks at a stretch.
I remember particularly this one night in Buffalo when I was Othello.
The night Lila Gordon joined the company and was my Desdemona.
She was beautiful, fragile, adorable.
I think I loved her from the first moment I saw her.
But Terry loved her, too.
I looked at him across the stage, and instantly we understood that our friendship was at last to find its test.
For two months Terry and I never spoke of our feelings.
From city to city, bad hotel to worse hotel, drafty dressing room to draftier stage, we traveled, both of us madly in love with Lila.
At last, to resolve the matter, we did what now seems a frightfully romantic thing.
We drew the petals from a rose.
If there were an odd number of petals, then I was to ask Lila to marry me.
If an even number, then it was to be Terry's privilege.
There were 35 petals.
That night after the performance I poured out my pent-up feelings to Lila.
She refused me.
Oh, she was sympathetic, tender even.
But she confessed it was Terry she loved.
I was still in my costume, I remember, as I left Lila's dressing room and returned to the one Terry and I shared.
Oh, Mr.
Bragner? Got a telegram here for Mr.
Is he in his dressing room? Yes, he should be.
Thank you, sir.
Telegram, Mr.
Thank you, Bill.
Colin, you'll never believe it.
She said no.
I'm sorry, Colin.
Anyway, there's one bright side to it.
A surprise.
A wonderful surprise for you.
Forgive me for bursting out like this, particularly as I know how you feel, but look! How many million is several million? Two, three, four.
Who knows? Who cares? Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen.
Nineteen dollars, and I'm flush this week.
Can you imagine even having one million dollars? No, I can't imagine it.
But who has said it better than our good friend lago? "Faith, he tonight hath boarded a land carack.
"If it prove lawful prize, he's made forever.
" Well, first I shall have to leave the show, then go to New York and see those lawyers.
Dear old Aunt Alice.
Though I'm sorry she had to pass away to make all this come true.
My dear Colin, I'll come back and rejoin the show, just as soon as I have signed the necessary papers.
Lila's in love with you, Terry.
She just told me.
This is too much.
Well, too much all in one evening.
Would you Would you tell me what she said? Before I go to her.
Please don't expect me to repeat more than I have already.
She's loved you from the start, Terry.
And imagine the first night she joined the company you were playing lago, who betrayed her.
And next night Othello, who strangled her.
How can one expect to learn the reason for love? Accept it, be grateful, but don't question it.
Thank you, Colin.
Thank you.
May I offer you some more wine, Mrs.
Longsworth? Mr.
Longsworth? No.
No, thank you.
That moment, when Terry left me to ask Lila to marry him, that was the heaviest moment of my life.
Or so I thought.
But I learned there is no limit to sorrow.
Of course, Lila accepted his proposal at once.
Then he went off to New York to claim his inheritance.
Lila was to finish out the tour, and he was to send for her.
I can say with perfect truth that the fortune that had been left to him killed Terry O'Bane.
He took a penthouse apartment in New York.
It became a hangout for all sorts of loose characters.
One was a pretty creature named Annabel Lane.
I was with Lila backstage when she got Terry's brief note, telling her he was going to marry Annabel.
Well, they were married all right.
The following year they had a child, a little girl.
Almost immediately after that Terry was killed in a street accident.
He was drunk at the time.
It was then I experienced an entirely novel aspect of woman's character.
Lila, who previously had refused to mention Annabel's name, developed an affection for the child.
And as the years went by, she became more and more absorbed by the little girl more and more distressed by the way she was being brought up.
I'd left the company myself, I'd gone to Broadway, and achieved some little reputation.
Meanwhile, Jeannie grew up the image of her mother, vain, fickle and spoiled.
By the time she was 10, she thought of nothing but her looks and her clothes.
Between performances, Lila would make her little dresses.
She was very clever at it.
It was on the eve of the child's 10th birthday the tragedy came full circle.
I had just opened on Broadway in The Slap.
You get a magic feeling when an opening has gone well.
There's an electricity in the air, a sense of triumph in your dressing room after the curtain's rung down.
But it seemed utterly unimportant when I read the message.
It was from Lila.
I'd lost track of her for more than a year.
She'd left the stage and no one knew where she'd gone.
But now, she urged me to come to see her.
It was urgent, terribly urgent, she wrote.
I left at once.
Come in.
Lila, you're ill, you ought to have somebody looking after you.
You sound like my doctors.
Always viewing with alarm.
Tell me, where have you been hiding? What's been happening to you? The Arkwrights are having a dance tomorrow.
It's Jeannie's 10th birthday.
I didn't come here to talk about Jeannie.
I'm trying to finish this dress for her.
Your note said something urgent.
What Tell me what it is? You haven't changed, have you? Always the direct approach.
Remember when you asked me to marry you? I remember.
I want you to take this dress to Jeannie for me.
Me? Yes.
I'm so tired.
And it's such an important event, I didn't want to trust it to a delivery service.
What do you think? It's lovely.
Please, hurry.
Then come back and tell me what she thought of it.
Then we'll talk.
Very well.
But now that I've found you again, I can tell you I'll never let you go a second time.
I took Jeannie the frock.
She was a pretty child.
But when she saw the dress, her face lost all its prettiness and she became hard and ugly.
"It looks like a nightdress," she said.
"I don't want it.
" Then she threw it on the floor.
I believe at that moment I could have struck her.
"Your Aunt Lila worked all night to finish this," I cried.
"You don't know what you're doing!" She tossed her little head and actually pressed the bell for the butler to see me out! Dazed and baffled, I left, still holding this.
When I went back to Lila wondering what lie I could tell her, I found there was no need for lies, no need for anything.
Lila was dead, sitting there in her chair where I'd left her.
Bragner? Mr.
Bragner, I finished the dishes and tidied up.
Thank you, Marie.
You may go then.
Excuse me, sir, but I've looked everywhere for my niece's little dress, and I can't find it.
I wondered if I left it in here some place.
Oh, there it is.
I'm sorry to have disturbed you, ma'am, but she asked me to have it ready for school.
Good night.
You were acting.
The whole thing.
I mean, Terry O'Bane, Lila Gordon, Annabel, Jeannie All an act? Yes, except for the fact that Terry and Lila and I were in Othello together one season.
But why? Why all this Your husband, Mrs.
Longsworth, together with many contemporary playwrights and producers, seems to believe we old-timers aren't very convincing.
Frankly, I want work.
I want it very badly.
So I thought I'd audition for your husband the only way I could.
Bragner, I've always said that it's almost impossible to judge an actor's ability from an audition.
I am now ready to eat those words.
Can you be at the theater at 11:00 tomorrow morning? Now I believe it is time for another of those splendid little commercial messages which my uncouth brother detests so, but which I like very much.
I shall be back following, as I was saying I shall be back in a moment.
Oh, good evening.
I don't believe my brother will be bothering you anymore.
Oh, he was a nice enough fellow if he just hadn't been such a stickler for form.
He was that way to the end.
The last thing I heard him say was, "Really, Alfred.
With an ax?" Next week we shall have another story and I promise to be here on time.
Until then, good night.

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