screenplay SOUND by Robert Patrick


an original screenplay
Robert Patrick

c 2006
1837 N. Alexandria Ave.
L.A, CA 90027
Tel: (323) – 661-4737




Through a row of palm trees, we see in the far distance a tall, twinkling electric sign—bulbs, not neon, clearly a 1920’s movie marquee sign. Suddenly from around it, the beams of several Klieg lights appear and criss-cross, the unmistakable symbol of a Hollywood premiere.

Over the horizon an enormous full moon rises.


The back of a fantastic mansion built in steps down the sloping face of a cliff—in other words, visitors would enter at the top of the cliff into the top story. Other floors cascade down to end in a vast swimming-pool and jungle-like grounds. The bottom (first) floor is ablaze with lights. Through a long row of French windows, unidentifiable figures scurry about. The next few floors are dark. A tower room has a single lit window, its curtains closed.

The rising moon’s light hits the tower. A silhouette comes to the window, sweeps the curtains aside.

GLORIA stands at the window, a young woman with startling eyes whose face is covered with cream. She wears a turban and a kimono.


The moon rises above the palm trees, past the Klieg lights into a dark sky filled with stars.


Throws her head back in silent laughter, whips the curtains closed. Her silhouette flings off the kimono and turban.


The light in the tower goes out. The moon’s light creeps down the mansion to reveal detail. The roofs are of red tile, the mansion itself is pink, wrought iron abounds, the terrace is lush with potted palms, the swimming pool bedecked with a canopy of Japanese lanterns.

The many figures on the first floor continue to bustle about.


The figures are many male SERVANTS in black. They wear white face masks. Some arrange potted plants and life-sized statues of gods of all faiths around the ballroom. Others take a cover off a grand piano in a corner and arrange chairs and music stands around it.


FRANZ is an impressive major-domo, impeccably dressed in 1920’s style. Silently he directs the servants. A DOORBELL RINGS. Franz gestures for a Servant to answer it.

Franz strides across the ballroom floor to correct the placement of a statue, a plant. WE SEE in his passage that a line of French doors connects the ballroom to the long terrace. There are doors and steps leading off of the ballroom to other rooms.


Tiled stairs lead down into the ornate hallway. A Servant leads MUSICIANS carrying their instruments down the stairs. Other Servants take the Musicians’ coats. Servant and Musicians go into


The Servant leads the Musicians to the piano. Musicians take instruments from their cases. Servants remove the cases. Musicians sit, ready to play. They all look at


Franz stands in the middle of the floor, holding a stopwatch. He waves a hand. MUSIC begins, glorious music. Franz looks up to


Gloria’s face. Her masklike, perfect 1920’s make-up only accentuates the vitality of her radiant eyes. PULL BACK to reveal her stunning diamond jewelry, a white feather fan nearly as big as she, a very abbreviated dress of silver sequins, perfect legs.
Gloria stands on a raised observation platform from which graceful stairs lead down to the ballroom. Behind her, tall statues of various gods guard a carefully-set dining table.

Franz approaches her, bows carefully.

FRANZ: Madame?

GLORIA: Is it time, Franz?

FRANZ: It is time, Madame.

GLORIA: Everything is perfect?

A Servant appears with a tray bearing a glass of champagne. Gloria takes it without looking. The Servant retires.

NOTE: Throughout the film, at all but the most intimate moments, Servants appear with whatever is needed—unnoticed except where specified.

FRANZ: Everything is perfect, Madame.

GLORIA: Everything must be perfect. The most important event in human history will happen here tonight. What are the climatic conditions?

FRANZ: Madame will be pleased to observe?

Gloria descends the terrace and walks across the ballroom out onto the terrace. Franz follows.


GLORIA: Franz, the night is radiant!

FRANZ: Thank you, Madame.


The fabulous jungle below, the line of palms, the Klieg lights, the bold moon.


She toasts the sight.

GLORIA: Nothing that we see is natural, Franz. Los Angeles was built by human will, human imagination, upon a deadly desert. And do you know why? Because the climate here is suitable for stars! Stars grow here, the first new stars in a trillion years. Oh, Moon! Wait till you see the stars I have gathered here tonight!

DOORBELL RINGS. Franz speeds away to answer it. Gloria basks for a moment in the spotlight of the moon, then wheels decisively and enters the ballroom.


She crosses the ballroom, ascends to the observation platform, continues through a door and across a vast, vaulted entrance hall packed with statues, tapestries, armor, paintings. She STOPS at the foot of a flight of stairs down which Franz leads BILL, an older man, lean and taciturn, who wears a Stetson hat, a western-cut tuxedo, and many honorary medals and chains, and MARY, an older woman, very pretty and vivacious, in a matronly gown bedecked with somewhat out-of-date jewelry, her gray hair in a fashionable, very short marcelled cut.

GLORIA: (curtseys) Bill! Mary! The king and queen of Hollywood! You honor my humble home.

BILL: Now get up, Glory, you’re the royalty here.

GLORIA: (rising) No, I divorced him. But with you here, I do feel at least a princess of moving pictures.

Gloria takes Bill’s and Mary’s arms and leads them into the ballroom.


MARY: Oh, dear, Gloria, don’t talk that way. My poor dear Doug used to talk that way toward the end.

GLORIA: And he was right. We are royalty!

MARY: Oh, Doug went ‘way past that! When Doug Junior played one of his father’s old roles, Doug didn’t call it treason.


MARY: No. He called it heresy!

ALL laugh. Mary shakes her head vivaciously.

BILL: What kind of reviews did young Doug get?

MARY: Well, appropriately enough—he got crucified!

ALL laugh again. Mary shakes her head again.

MARY: Oh, I must stop doing that. I don’t have those long golden curls anymore.

BILL: (In awe of the ballroom) Lord God, Glory. You young stars build like them pharaohs in Egypt. How big is this place?

GLORIA: Big enough that mister Griffith could have filmed his spectacles here. Big enough to swallow Intolerance. Ha! Yes! Big enough to produce The Birth of a Nation!

MARY: Gloria, dear, you seem a little feverish.

GLORIA: I have a great announcement to make—later. That’s all. Please enjoy the house. I hear a car approaching.

Gloria leaves Bill and Mary.

BILL: Darn, I wish she hadn’t brought up ol’ D.W. Griffith.

MARY: I know That poor thing. Stuck in the east, making those tiny little movies. I wonder if Gloria realizes how fast a star can fall? (Brightly) Say, Bill, why is a director like a blind man?

BILL: I dunno, Mary. Why?

MARY: Because he’s lost without his spectacles!

They laugh, Mary shaking her head, then stopping

MARY: I’ve got to stop doing that.


Gloria waits at the foot of the stairs. Don them comes ERICH, a ferociously dignified and aristocratic man in flawless evening-wear—and MAE, an absurdly pretty blond concealing some voluminous costume under a great black cloak.

GLORIA: Erich, you are the only man on Earth more dignified than my butler.

ERICH: (kisses her had) Always your servant, Gloria.

GLORIA: How was I clever enough to persuade you to leave the set of The Merry Widow?

ERICH: The Merry Widow has, unfortunately, come to a halt.

MAE: (screeching voice) Hello, Gloria!

ERICH: A screeching halt. You know Mae.

GLORIA: Of course. Mae and I and Pola, we were all bathing beauties together.

MAE: I came in costume.

A Servant takes Mae’s cape, revealing her near-nude beauty decorated extravagantly in white egret feathers. Combine with her chalk-white make-up, bouquet-like mound of platinum curls, and her dangling diamond jewelry, her eternal agitation makes her look delicate, fragile, a moth, however she sounds.

GLORIA: (surveying Mae) Erich, The Merry Widow must be amazing.

ERICH: “Amazed” originally meant “paralyzed.” In that sense, The Merry Widow is amazed. Mae, do you hear the music?

MAE: No…

ERICH: Do you hear the champagne bubbling?

MAE: No….

ERICH: Of course you do. Go find the music and the champagne. Imagine that you are in Vienna.

MAE: I keep telling you, I’ve never been to Vienna!

ERICH: Then think of the simulated Vienna on Sound Stage Twenty-Three where we have kept a thousand extras working overtime for weeks. Go in there and imagine that you are The Merry Widow.

MAE: I’ve been trying…

Erich gives her a look that would quiet a mad bull.

MAE: I’ll try.

Mae exits toward the ballroom.

GLORIA: Erich—you and Mae?

ERICH: What is left of me. What is left of Mae. Come, let me look at you. My little tomboy starlet has become a supernova!

GLORIA: Has anyone ever actually seen a supernova?

ERICH: Nineteen hundred years ago in Bethlehem, I and two other wise men. Is there a way out of here not through your perfect party?

GLORIA: This door leads to a perfect patio.

She leads him through a door.


BILL: I wonder why poor little Gloria’s so het up? This here house is too new to be haunted.

MARY: Maybe it’s living here alone since she took her prince back to Europe.

BILL: These kids spend ever’thing. They think they’ll be makin’ them big salaries forever.

MARY: Oh, be quiet with your pessimism. Here comes that poor Mae Murray.


Mae enters the ballroom, clutching herself as if cold and frightened. She looks up at Bill and Mary. They raise their glasses to her. She shivers.


Gloria and Erich stroll.

GLORIA: Erich, I need everything to be perfect. Tell em what’s wrong.

ERICH: Ah, nothing actually. Only The Merry Widow, which does not yet exist.

GLORIA: Is that why Mae…?

ERICH: Why Mae? Why me? The studio gave me a marshmallow to direct. I am filling their sugar-cake with venom.

GLORIA: They say it’s already the most expensive picture ever made.

ERICH: Absurd to concern themselves with that when our work plays on every continent.

GLORIA: Yes! yes!…But something is wrong.

ERICH: Yes. At the heart of my poisonous confection is—a tart.


ERICH: It should have been you.

GLORIA: Alas, the studio reserves me for lovesick princess pictures.

ERICH: Yes. So it has become necessary to transform Mae.

GLORIA: Well, if anyone can do it surely you—

ERICH: I hate what I am having to do to her. No one ever asked the pumpkin if it wished to become a golden coach.


Mae stands in the trembling shadows of a great potted plant. Mary and Bill approach her.

MARY: Little Mae. My, don’t you look all grown-up!

BILL: What you doin’ hidin’ there?

MAE: Wild Bill. You’re wild Bill.

BILL: I ain’t my stand-in.

MARY: Whatever is wrong, dear?

MAE: I’ve—been working—been being worked–very hard. Erich—wants so much of me. More than anyone has ever wanted before.

BILL: Yeah, it’s getting; harder an’ harder to figure out what the people want.

MAE: No one could be—all that he wants of me. It’s horrible. He—peels you like an onion. He removes what you—pretend to be, what you think you really are, he even removes what you really are, and then promises to turn you into—something else. Something only he knows—if he knows it. I’m half-dead, half-completed. I’ve disappeared. It’s a horrible way to be.

BILL: Well, I always say, an honest day’s work for an honest ten thousand dollars.

A Servant provides them with drinks.

Mae takes one.

Her glass trembles in her hand.

With a ferocious and costly act of will, Mae steadies her hand until the champagne stands still and level in her glass.

Mae smiles in triumph. Bill and Mary toast her.

She flinches in shock at their movement.

Suddenly the entire mansion shakes with a small earthquake. Mae screams and flings her glass into the air. MUSIC stops.


Mae’s glass shatters at the feet of Gloria and Erich as they enter the ballroom.

Everyone stands shocked, transfixed.


A chandelier still trembles from the earthquake.

Gloria laughs. All laugh. MUSIC begins again. Gloria flings her glass into the air. Erich, Mary, and Bill do likewise. Servants replace their drinks and dive to clean up broken glass, spilled champagne.

MARY: Erich, darling. I have the cutest joke. Why is a director like a blind man?

ERICH: Because he cannot see the mere real world, Mary. Only the dream he must make others see.

MARY: Oh, that’s not funny.

ERICH: It is the greatest joke in the world—because the world then sees what the director dreamed—and believes that it is real.

MARY: You sound too much like Doug. He thought he was more important than priests and politicians.

ERICH: Easily. What do priests and politicians have? Words, mere words. But we, thank God—

Gloria reacts to the word, “God,” and listens attentively to Erich’s speech.

ERICH: (continued) We do not bother with words. We present a living, moving world. The real world imitates it. When you, Mary, skipped and dimpled across the screen, mothers turned to their daughters and asked “Why can’t you be like that?” When you, Bill, rode across the desert, boys in the towns built over that desert saw the possibility of heroism. America is a creation of the wordless screen.

MARY: Oh, Erich, I don’t know.

ERICH: I know. You were happy if the people liked you and the studio paid you. I will show the people their world as it really is, a masterpiece of greed and corruption.

MARY: But, Erich, if people really imitate the pictures, won’t pictures like that only make them worse?

ERICH: Nothing could make them worse than they are—apes who swallow the studio’s patriotic pap and run to war.

BILL: But if you make Americans cynical, they’ll get beat by other countries.

ERICH: There are no other countries. Film has made the whole world depend on me for its dreams. I have humbled the kings. Now I shall humble the true rulers of the world—the studio bosses.

A middling earthquake shakes the room. MUSIC stops. The guests, the glasses of champagne, statues of strange gods, palm fronds, tremble. The guests gasp. Mae screeches in her hideaway. Erich roars with laughter.

ERICH: That was the earth, settling into its new orbit.

After a tense pause, Gloria laughs in delight and applauds Erich. Bill and Mary join her. The Musicians strike up a new TRIUMPHANT TUNE.

GLORIA: Champagne! Champagne for the King of the New World!

Servants present champagne as Erich and Gloria, Bill and Mary, dance as couples.

Mae watches nervously, hiding among fr0onds.

The dance mutates into a mock coronation, acted broadly and expertly by Gloria, Erich, Mary, and Bill in the style of silent films.

At Franz’s silent command, servants roll to thrones onto the floor and unroll a carpet leading to them.

Erich advances in state and mounts a throne. Mary snatches a wreath of decorative flowers and crowns Erich.

Erich holds out a hand to Gloria, offering her the second throne. She shakes her head in refusal. The MUSIC STOPS.

GLORIA: No offense, Erich. You see, I have already been royalty. I’m aiming higher now.

Erich looks for a moment as if he is actually offended, then he shrugs.

ERICH: You were, after all, merely a princess.

General laughter again, and Erich descends as MUSIC recommences. Franz gestures for Servants to disperse the royal regalia. Bill and Mary dance. Erich, still wearing his crown, and Gloria go to a buffet table.

ERICHL You were never difficult to direct before, Gloria.

GLORIA: Forgive my treason, sire. I have—loftier ambitions.

ERICH: To marry another nobleman from dear old doddering Europe?

Erich tosses his crown away. A Servant catches it.

GLKORIA: Europe may not be doddering anymore, Erich.

ERICH: If it showed any signs of life when you were there, Gloria, it was only a second childhood.

GLORIA: A second childhood—or rebirth?

ERICH: Is this a puzzle/ I am puzzled already. This is such a small party for the Queen of Cinema to throw. By now there should be limousines in the swimming pool, starlets swinging fro chandeliers.

GLORIA: I am not intimidated because you remember my childhood games, your majesty. I was, after all, only imitating your films.

As they talk, they stroll in to a—


A vaulted ceiling and many European art items.

ERICH: You brought back more from Europe than your prince.

GLORIA: I went there thinking that I could find and buy culture.

ERICH: And instead you found rot?

GLORIA: NO. I found Heaven.

ERICH: I’m glad you enjoyed your prince, of course.

GLORIA: Oh, you fool. Erich, wherever I went in Europe, do you know what they were talking about?

ERICH: There next war to end all wars to end wars to end wars?

GLORIA: No! No. I went through museums, temples. Cathedrals. Wherever I went, the people cried, “Gloria! Gloria!”

ERICH: It is charming to see you discovering your fame and flowering into an egotist. You must insist on a raise.

GLORIA: Is that all that you think has happened to me?

ERICH: The studio hid from you the extent of your popularity. Of course you are loved. You were made for love. Remember, I made you.

GLORIA: Oh, Erich, only listen. You said Bill and Mary reached all of America. But, Erich, that’s barely the beginning.

ERICH: You are feverish, darling.

GLORIA: Oh, Erich, how can I make you hear?

GLORIA stops before a huge panting of the Tower of Babel.

GLORIA: Out there are millions of people. They call themselves French, Moroccan, English, Eskimo. Ten thousand years ago they spoke one language and assembled to build a great tower to heaven. And God grew jealous and struck them with the curse of languages. And they misunderstood one another and went to war. In the beginning was the word, and the word was war.

ERICH: Rest, Gloria, rest.

GLORIA: But something new came into the warring world. We have been given the greatest force to come into that world since the warlike babble of sound—the universal, wordless, silent screen. We have the power to unite the world.

ERICH: If Mae could see your face right now, she could play my Widow tomorrow.

GLORIA: Yes! My face! My instrument! My instrument with which I play on the hearts of humanity!

ERICH: You look as you did when we were lovers, back at the dawn of time. Come and dance with me.

Erich takes Gloria’s hand.

GLORIA: Oh, yes, yes! I want to dance with you!

Erich leads Gloria to


Gloria is now leading Erich.

GLORIA: Franz! Tell the orchestra to begin the tango!

Franz, surprised, raises an eyebrow.

GLORIA: Yes, now!

Franz clicks his heel and gestures to Musicians.

GLORIA: (to Erich) You do tango?

ERICH: The tango is an ancient dance of conquest and seduction.
GLORIA: It is new to Hollywood.
ERICH: Everything is new to you ignorant American children 1
He laughs. Music begins, an exquisite tango, and they
As their conversation progresses, the dance is choreographed to express Gloria’s growing seductiveness and Erich’s increasing fascination with her idea.
Franz answers a telephone. He unplugs the phone and brings it into the ballroom.
CAMERA TRACKS with Franz as he brings the phone into the Ballroom and plugs it into a jack. He goes to where Erich and Gloria are dancing and extends it to Gloria.
FRANZ: Madame, it is the studio head, for you.
Gloria starts to leave the floor. Erich whirls her back into his arms.
ERICH: No. The hearts of the world are wailing, “Gloria! Gloria!” Make your master wait.
They stand poised, Gloria almost on the floor in a classic tango dip.
GLORIA: (finally) Tell him–I am unavailable.
FRANZ: Yes, Madam. (into phone) Madam is unavailable.
ERICH: You see? You may dismiss your master. He is in fact your slave. As all men are, my darling.
They dance.
GLORIA: Do you like the tango?
ERICH: Don’t use foolish words..
GLORIA: No, 1 mean this particular piece of music. Do you like it?
ERICH: It is beautiful, ravishing.
GLORIA: I had it composed just for tonight.

Erich stops their dance.
ERICH: I see. In honor of some young and handsome guest who has yet to come?
GLORIA: In honor of the man who has made the tango the heartbeat of the world.
ERICH: You mean that Rudolph Valentino boy. I begin to see. So we are all dolls to decorate your seduction?
GLORIA: You understand nothing.
ERICH: Aren’t you beyond flirtations with actors?
GLORIA: You were an actor once. Have you forgotten?
ERICH: I have forgotten — nothing.
They dance, swept up a spell of remembrance of a romance that must have been intense.
GLORIA: That Valentino boy —
ERICH: Oh, Gloria, don’t fawn over the latest Adonis.
GLORIA: That Valentino boy, that latest Adonis, danced a tango in a film, The next day the world broke out in tango music. He has suddenly become a star, the greatest male star.
ERICH: They come and go. I remain forever.
GLORIA: He became a star sooner than I expected, I have had to rush my plan.
ERICH: Your plan.
GLORIA: Erich, listen to me.
ERICH: Gloria, speak to me.
GLORIA: His film glorified war.
ERICH: The French call war “la gloire,” the glory, “Gloria.”

GLORIA: He tangos. They tango. He glorifies war. They war.
ERICH: He died in the film disillusioned about war.
GLORIA: They will be disillusioned. They will die. They will imitate him.
ERICH: Boys always die in war. He will make them feel romantic about it. Gloria, this is great tango!
GLORIA: Erich, come with me. Listen to me.
She takes his hand and leads him onto the great terrace.
GLORIA: Erich, you talk of priests and politicians and employers.. You say we have replaced them.
ERICH: I have replaced them.
GLORIA: Oh, you can’t do without stars! Astrologers say the stars command humanity!
ERICH: Another ancient art, unworthy of you.
GLORIA: Then what do. you say to science? Science, too, says the stars command us. “Every particle of matter in the universe attracts and is attracted by every other particle with a force directly proportionate to their mass and inversely proportionate to the distance between them.”
ERICH: Elementary physics.
GLORIA: But it confirms the astrologers. Bodies alter one another’s courses. And the greater and nearer they are, the greater their force.
ERICH: Irrefutably.
GLORIA: Well, we are the stars nearest to the human race!
ERICH: Gloria, you have gone beyond a fever into a storm.
GLORIA: Ride the storm with me! Erich, we dance and the next day the world dances. We war and the world wars. Think if we only knew what we were doing!
ERICH: Anyone who knew what he was doing would very soon die of shame.
GLORIA: We can make of them anything we will! You want only to defeat the masters, beat them at their game, make the mobs as cynical as you! You think so small1
ERICH: Tell that to the studio bookkeepers 1
GLORIA: You want to be a king. We are kings already. We stand here on our balcony, like royalty reviewing the troops 1
ERICH: (points down) But no troops, Gloria, no troops below.
GLORIA: (points up) Above, Erich, above. We can command the very stars in their courses.
ERICH: Gloria —
GLORIA: Leave behind the quest to be a king! Aim for something more!
ERICH: What more?
GLORIA: Erich, we can be — and I say this with all gravity — we can be gods.
The MUSIC stops.
ERICH: The music has stopped. GLORIA: The world imitates us. They dance as we dance, dress as we dress, kill as we kill. They even imitate us when we kiss.
She kisses him. New MUSIC plays within. The kiss is long.
WE SEE Bill and Mary watching from the Great Hall, and Mae from her trembling shadows.
ERICH: Gloria, this is insane.
GLORIA: It would be insane if it weren’t true. How are we different from gods?
ERICH: We don’t live forever.
GLORIA: Film is light! Light lives forever I When idols of stone and gold have cracked and melted, our shadows will teach humanity how to live! Forever!
ERICH: Gloria, what are you up to?
GLORIA: I want to announce the greatest of all human actions. I want — I want to perform “Camille.”
ERICH: (disappointed) “Camille?” That tired old sentimental war-horse? Gloria, “Camille” has been done to death.
GLORIA: Never! It ahs never been done! Who is Camille? The whore who becomes a saint. The human soul that climbs from the lowest love to the highest. It is the story every religion has tried to tell. If you tell it with words r it is trite and sentimental. Film is the way! No language! No lies! We can show the souls of the world how to rise! And they will imitate us! We have the means! We have the mission! We have the audience! We have, God knows, the star!
ERICH: Then what are you waiting for?
GLORIA: The studio will never let me do it. I need backing. I need a great director. And to make this myth of love absolute, I need the perfect object. I need Valentino!
ERICH: Reach out and take him, then. Who cares?
GLORIA: He has become a star. He must be persuaded.
ERICH: Make him an offer.
GLORIA: I must offer him everything.
ERICH: So do.
GLORIA: Do you understand what I am asking?
ERICH: I will direct, of course.
GLORIA: Oh, Erich!
ERICH: It will be the greatest picture ever made. Of course it must come from me. Shall we rejoin your guests?
GLORIA: Then I may use your name to secure backing?
ERICH: You have only to tell them it will be great. They will assume my participation.
GLORIA: It will be more than great, Erich. It will be the new testament.
ERICH: You are quite mad.
GLORIA: Then why don’t you reject me?
ERICH: Madwomen make the most radiant stars. That is why I am driving Mae mad. When will you approach this Valentino?
GLORIA: He will be here — tonight.
ERICH: I will take a look at him to see if he will do for my masterpiece.
Gloria, shocked and amused by Erich’s colossal gall, watches him walk away and despite herself, laughs.
as she wanders around the terrace. She sees Bill and Mary in the library.
Bill is admiring a Frederick Remington sculpture.
BILL: Now, that’s what I call art.
MARY: Shame they don’t make Westerns anymore.
BILL: They will. ‘Course it’ll be too late for me. I s’pose they’ll be makin’ charmin’ little girl pictures again, too.
MARY: Way too late for me. Oh, Bill, where does it go, all that wild, youthful clawing for fame and attention?
BILL: For money, y’mean.
MARY: Money is just what you’re left with. If you’re lucky.
BILL: Well, you been plenty lucky.
MARY: So have you, you old coot. You fairly jangle with it.
BILL: (indicating his medals and chains) Hell, I jangle without it.
MARY: And of course I have my charities.
BILL: Oh, yeah, me, too. Charities.
MARY: I can never decide if the charities bore me because I hate to let go of the money —
BILL: — or because you know all the money in the world won’t soak up half the misery.
MARY: If only there was something a person could do that would save the world –
A beat as they consider it.
BILL & MARY: And make a whoppin’ profit!
They laugh uproariously.
GLORIA: (pops through French doors) Won’t you ask me in? A vampire can’t enter a house unless he’s invited.
BILL: Hell, Gloria, you ain’t no vampire.
MARY: You’re a princess.
BILL: Pola was ze vamp!
MARY: Now, don’t mention Pola, Bill. You know she and Gloria don’t speak.
GLORIA: Nonsense, Pola and I were always the best of friends.
BILL Who? The princess and the vamp?
MARY & BILL: Keessss me, my fool!
GLORIA: (laughs good-naturedly) Hey, you two kids should act! But seriously, I am a vampire tonight. I’m here to do what vampires do — suck your life’s blood — and make you immortal. Sit down, won’t you? And let me tell you my plan…
Intrigued, Bill and Mary sit to hear Gloria’s sales-talk.
Franz stands in attendance on Erich, who sits in an armchair smoking, sipping champagne, clearly seeing a vision. A DOORBELL RINGS.
Franz looks at his watch and frowns. Clearly no one is yet expected. He summons two Servants and the two of them quickly go to
Franz and two Servants enter hallway. Servants grab halberds from suits of armor at the foot of the stairs. Down the stairs come DOROTHY, a petite, pretty brunette, carrying a cocktail shaker, and NOEL, a suave Englishman. They are in considerably more casual clothes than the stars.
DOROTHY: Now, don’t bring out the Sunday weapons for us. We’re just plain folks.

NOEL: (to Franz) Miss Swanson, you grow lovelier with the years.
With complete aplomb, Noel and Dorothy descend to the floor, followed after a stunned pause by Franz and the Servants. Erich enters idly and observes them.
NOEL: Why do we find ourselves descending into Paradise, Dorothy?
DOROTHY: It’s the earthquake: everything’s topsy-turvy.
ERICH: Dear Franz, call off your guards. It is only two poets come to sing for their suppers. Miss Parker. Mister Coward. I am Erich Von Stroheim.
Dorothy flourishes a cocktail shaker.
DOROTHY: Can you spare a summer neighbor a cup of cocktails?
ERICH: Franz, champagne.
Franz snatches away the rather tacky cocktail shaker and Servants provide Dorothy and Noel with champagne.
NOEL: (to Erich) Admirably done! I heard the whip crack!
DOROTHY: (of champagne} Is this what Miss Swanson bathes in or is it just the kitchen champagne?
NOEL: It’s rude to ask. (toasting Erich) Your health — and don’t I wish I had it.
DOROTHY: We’ve rented the tourist attraction next door.
NOEL: We felt the earth shake and dropped in to complain.
DOROTHY: The truth is we’re both supposed to be writing movies.
NOEL: But all we’ve done is to play anagrams with the producer’s names.

DOROTHY: I’ve been hired to write a film version of “Hamlet.” In three weeks I’ve only convinced them not to call it The Great Dane.

NOEL: I’m here to approve a film of one of my plays. They’ve replaced all my epigrams with sight-gags and are retaining only one preposition from my title. Will you give us refuge?

ERICH: Miss Swanson is to make a great announcement tonight. She will be elated to have such distinguished witnesses. Do come in.

Noel and Dorothy follow Erich.

DOROTHY (whispers) It was my quiet dignity that got us past the guards.

NOEL: Nonsense. He thought I was the Queen of England.


In the ballroom, Erich leaves Dorothy and Noel at the buffet.

ERICH: Please refresh yourselves, I will seek out our hostess.

Erich leaves.

NOEL: Human beings do not require this much space since we began to walk upright. How do they pay for these auditoria?

DOROTHY: How do you think? She rents out roller skates.

Erich approaches the library and eavesdrops on the conversation in progress.


Gloria is talking to a fairly rapt Mary and Bill.

GLORIA: And so you see, this is the next step in artistic, even in human, evolution. I shall star, Erich will direct, and you two will supply the backing.

BILL: Whew! You should of been a poet!

GLORIA: I am — we all are.

MARY: Darling, it’s a magnificent conception. But what about the studios? Won’t they blackball us?

GLORIA: They’ll lay their studios at our feet when they see how we outdo them!

BILL: I dunno. Sometimes people’d rather fail alone than succeed in double harness.

MARY: Gloria, dear, I have to ask — since you so clearly believe so fully in this — colossal project — why don’t you back it yourself?

BILL: Did that Prince take all your dough?

MARY Did this palace eat it all up?:

GLORIA: No, no, lord no — no, my money is in the safest place on Earth — the stock market. I’d pawn my jewels like Queen Isabella to discover this new world, but I’ll need them for Camille’s costume! I’m offering you the chance to do what you long to do: save the world — alter history—make fortunes.

BILL: Hmmm. It’s real temptin’. Get back at them studio crooks.

MARY Be associated with an epic.

GLORIA So it’s all sealed!

MARY: But a single little thing, Gloria: “Camille” has two leads. Who do you see playing her lover Armand?

GLORIA: The only man who can: Rudolph Valentino.

There is a pause. Bill whistles in awe.


MARY: And Erich has agreed?

GLORIA: Yes, absolutely! He – well, he –

BILL He what, honey?

GLORIA: He is not familiar with the sublime Valentino. He wants to examine him. And so he shall. In only moments the great lover will arrive.

MARY: (With a glance at Bill) Bill….?

BILL (With a glance at Mary) Mary?

MARY: (Tactfully, to Gloria)Gloria, darling, it’s a visionary dream, really it is, and it’s so captivating. And if at the end of the evening, Valentino agrees and Erich still feels like it’s a good idea, well, then, Bill..?

BILL Right, Mary.

GLORIA: I see. Yes, of course, you want security. And you shall have it. Come. I see I have unexpected guests. Let’s go and enjoy ourselves – like the gods on High Olympus!

Gloria graciously ushers them ahead of her to the library door.

GLORIA: Oh, fool that I am, I forgot!

MARY & BILL: What?

GLORIA: The most fun of all! There are two marvelous roles for you two in Camille: Camille’s benevolent protectress, and her handsome rich lover, the Baron [Bah-RONE].

Mary and Bill are fascinated by this. With a sly smile and a wave of her fan, Gloria whisks past them to leave the library.


Erich at the door applauds Gloria silently and takes her arm.

GLORIA: But enough boring business. Come, enjoy the party.
(Whispers to Erich)I will get their backing. I will have your services. I will get Valentino. I am not mad!

ERICH: It is possible It is not impossible…

Mary and Bill follow Gloria and Erich into the ballroom.


Dorothy and Noel on the balcony overlooking the Ballroom, watching Mae, who stands among fronds listening to music.

DOROTHY: How does she stay that white in this ceaseless sun?

NOEL: Are we sure she’s white? They may have filmed a Negress and shipped us the negative.

DOROTHY: Is she actually trembling like a Pekinese or is she just doing a very restrained shimmy?

NOEL: She is doing whatever she likes, dear. She is the millionaire idol of idle millions.

DOROTHY: How do these women make so much money?

NOEL: By keeping silent, dear.

DOROTHY Cheezit. Here comes our hostess.


Gloria’s necklace as Gloria comes nearer.

DOROTHY:{of Gloria’s jewels) Looks like they imported her from Europe stone by stone.

GLORIA: Miss Parker. Mister Coward. Unexpected delights. Won’t you descend and join us?

DOROTHY: (whispers to Noel as they descend) Put back any ashtrays you’ve pocketed. We mustn’t clank.

NOEL: (whispers to Dorothy as they descend) I’d put a stake in your heart if you had one. (kisses Gloria’s hand) Princess! )kisses Mary’s hand) And the little princess.

Mary does the silly head-shake.

Noel reaches for Bill’s hand. Bill withdraws it worriedly. Noel takes it and shakes it heartily.

NOEL: Howdy, pardner! Words cannot tell how pleased I am to be among my film favorites. Not even my words.

MARY: Tosh and piddle, Mister Coward. I bet .you’ve never seen a movie.

NOEL: Half true. I attended the cinema exactly once. I spent half the time begging the matron in front of me to remove her hat, and the other half begging her to put it back on. (bows to Gloria)

My head is yours for the taking, dear lady.

DOROTHY: And that goes double for me, having two heads. Miss Swanson, we shouldn’t have crashed your court like this —

GLORIA: But no, no, you couldn’t be more, welcome. I know your work. And I agree with you about all of the films that have been made so far.

BILL: Hell, I never see movies, neither.

DOROTHY: It’s that hat.

Bill embarrassedly and belatedly removes his hat.

NOEL: (of Mae) Will no one introduce me to this enchanting and apparently enchanted creature?

GLORIA: Forgive me. Mae, darling, this is the distinguished playwright, Noel Coward.

NOEL: (kissing Mae’s hand) I am dazzled.

MAE You, too?

GLORIA: And the esteemed wit, Miss Parker.

DOROTHY: Mrs. Not that it matters. Much.

MA.RY And where is your husband, dear?

DOROTHY: Husband Dear is in New York. Never trust a man who’s three hours ahead of you.

GLORIA: I feel so inadequate. I’ve arranged no entertainment.

ERICH: I’ve no doubt Mister Coward will fill that gap.

NOEL: Certainly, Captain, if it will pay for my passage.

GLORIA: How delightful, (to Franz) Franz, have we time?

Franz checks his watch and nods. Servants place chairs for all but Noel.

BILL: (whispers to Gloria as he sits by her) Hope I understand this.

NOEL: (to pianist) May I occupy your pew?

The pianist humbly rises and yields his place to Noel. Noel sits and accompanies himself through the verse and first chorus of his song.

The band begins to accompany with him as they “get” the chord patterns. As he begins the second chorus, he rises and the pianist slides into place to accompany him.

NOEL (Plays and sings)

This world has grown degenerate. From every towering minaret Muezzins cry “Time’s passed us by Completely.”
And Darwin said, “Ontogeny Just imitates phylogeny,” Which dear Papa Thought put it rather neatly.
Our efforts to revitalize the gods we used to idolize do not impress this idle, wise terrestrial speck a dent.
And the most polite librarian Says every single Aryan “radition is barbarian Or decadent.
But admitting that we don’t Intend to suicide,
flow shall we spend time to the end?
Regardless of what you decide,
I wanna be a major star of the movies.
I wanna play all day among the swaying palms.
I wanna linger making choices
Among my six Rolls-Royces
And commission scripts
On the apocalypse.
That’s the sort of thing that calms my frenzies.
Ordinary business
Brings on dizziness.
Why be in bondage to stocks?
And bringing those ships into docks
Cannot compete
With planting one’s feet
In sensitive cement blocks.
I wanna be a commissar of the movies.
To run the lives of my ex-wives soothes all my qualms.
Why drive your senses frantic
Conquering the Atlantic?
Be a pacific and terrific movie star!

Noel yields the piano to the pianist and moves among his audience. They are entranced by him.


I’ve gotta be where people are of the movies
And rule the cinema in a miraculous smell of ham.
I wanna go to hearty parties
Where that masculine Bill Hart is
And favor I’ll curry
With sweet Mae Murray
In a house by William Cam-eron Menzies.
Why drive a sick Ford?
I’ll woo Mary Pickford
In one of my myriad yachts.
All of us stars have lots. _
And the press will express
Our happiness
In scandalous candid shots.
But there’s no par-tic-u-lar of the movies
Who doesn’t fawn on Herr Von Stroheim night and day.
And it would take great Samuel Johnson
To define the divine Miss Gloria Swanson
And my delight to be right where you are.
The way I’m overpowered
Should give the greatest coward
The idea
To see a
And be a
Movie star!

General applause.^ As Gloria and her guests rise, their chairs are whisked away by servants.

GLORIA: Bravo1 Bravo!

ERICH: Very clever.

MARY: Charming.

BILL: I got it.

Noel, amidst the applause, shakes hands with the pianist.

NOEL: The Ginza Bar in Singapore, wasn’t it? (the pianist nods) I could never forget those fingers,

BILL: Dawgone, Noel, that was swell. I didn’t think no playwright could ever be such a reg’lar feller.

i ERICH: Oh, I believe Oscar Wilde drank the cowboys under the table.

DOROTHY: Drank and ate.

NOEL Now, none of that.

GLORIA: Mister Coward, what lovely compliments. And what accurate humor. It was all true. That is what movies up until now have been. Something to laugh at. Something to make fun of. But not after tonight, eh, Erich? From tonight we shall elevate them beyond the highest art.

ERICH: Yes, beauty. (wryly to Dorothy and Noel) But, alas, after tonight there will be no use for our charming writer friends.

GLORIA: (taps him with her fan) Erich! They won’t know you’re joking.

NOEL: (aside to Dorothy) Dorothy, they’re contemplating our extermination.

The DOORBELL RINGS. Gloria stiffens and drops her fan. Erich clutches her as if to keep her from falling.

DOROTHY: That’ll be the firing squad.


FOLLOW Franz as he rushes several floors up to the top of the exterior stairs.


Against the glowing sky stands the caped silhouette of RUDOLPH VALENTINO. Franz bows to him.

Preceded by Franz, Valentino descends the staircase in the moonlight.


Gloria, Erich, Bill, Mary, and Mae stand at the foot of the staircase.

GLORIA: It’s he. All of you, come, help me greet our last guest.

MARY: Who is it?

BILL: Must be the guest of honor, the way ol’ Franz whipped up them stairs.

MAE: Erich, what is it? What’s happening?

GLORIA: Please, please, everyone—


Franz descends the stairs, steps aside to reveal Valentino. Valentino stops on the third or fourth step, a breathtakingly handsome brunet in the world’s best tuxedo.

NOEL: Inevitably, Rudolph Valentino.

DOROTHY: Do you think he’ll autograph my sidewalk?

Gloria, a model of romantic elegance, mounts the bottom step to greet Valentino. He kisses her hand.

GLORIA: Signore Valentino. Welcome. You honor my poor house.

Erich raises a monocle to his eye. From his POV WE SEE the meeting between Valentino and Gloria in black-and-white, with both stars in silent film make-up. We will occasionally see such images, which will be indicated as “ERICH SEES:”

The guests raise champagne to honor the meeting. Gloria takes Valentino’s hand and all go to


A table on the balcony of the ballroom, lavishly decorated and set for dinner.

DOROTHY (to Noel) Wanna bet what we get for dinner?

NOEL Obviously—

NOEL & DOROTHY: –roast peasant.

To shimmering MUSIC, the party sits to dinner. ERICH SEES, in flashes alternating with the color shots of the real dinner, the same scene in black-and-white silent film manner, Camille leading Armand to dinner.

The party is seated thusly: Gloria at the head of the table. To her right, Bill. To her left, Valentino, At the foot of the table, Erich. On his left”, Mae. On his right, Mary. Dorothy is between Mary and Valentino, Noel is between Bill and Mae.

MARY: (in the middle of a story) …So Pola just hated her leading man, and during the big love-scene close-up, she put a beautiful expression on her face but whispered in his ear that he could do something physiologically impossible to himself, and when the movie opened, deaf-mute lip-readers all over the country got her banned by the Legion of Decency!

GLORIA: Oh, Mary, tell, tell! What did Pola say?

MARY: Oh, I can’t tell you. I’ll tell Erich and he can tell you .

She whispers into Erich’s ear. Erich guffaws and whispers to Mae. Mae laughs and turns to whisper to Dorothy, who slides quickly down in her seat to avoid the confidence. Mae whispers to Bill instead, who laughs and whispers to Gloria. Gloria laughs and turns to whisper to Valentino, who slides his chair back and offers her Noel. Noel, dying to hear, is disappointed when Gloria sits back in her chair with a sour face. Noel turns to Mary, who hides her face and says:

MARY: No, no, I can’t. She tosses her head, stops.

MARY: Damn!

BILL: Well, Mister Valentino, you shore have made yourself a hit. You never do know what the public’s gonna go for next. Who would ever have thought they’d want a man decked-out in wigs and costumes? And painted up?

MARY: Oh, Bill. You were decked-out in those Western costumes until you could barely walk.

BILL: Now, Mary, that’s American costumes X was in.

MARY: —and as for paint, my, you looked so pretty in your lipstick and face-powder1

BILL: Now, we had to wear that just to have faces at all —

MARY: —and besides, even though you didn’t ever kiss the girl, we all knew that you were secretly in love with your horse!

Mary laughs at Bill’s discomfort.

BILL:(kidding along) Mary, not in front of the younger people.

MARY: Why, you were darn near as decadent as one of Erich’s orgies that make the preachers so mad!

Erich is casually chatting with Mae.

ERICH: The producer objected to my spending ten thousand dollars to buy silk and lace lingerie for all the women. “Erich,” he said, “It will not show on the screen!” And I responded, “Only in the private version I am making for myself. Shall I send you a copy?”

Erich notices that attention is focused on him.

ERICH: A toast to our honored guest. Mister Valentino, I salute you.

VALENTINO: Thank you. I am unaccustomed to such — august attention.

BILL: Aw, come on, Rudy. Can I call you Rudy? You can’t say you ain’t been gettin’ the press! Why, I never seen such press since Pola Negri was big!

MARY: In fact, Rudy, the way they photograph you, I have to confess that sometimes I almost think you are Pola Negri1

BILL: (after laughter) But now don’t be offended, Rudy. We all know a actor has got to sell a gimmick if he can. All this slick-backed hair and fancy costumes and powder and paint, don’t worry, we all know you’re a regular feller at heart.

ERICH: At heart…Mister Valentino, I am sure that long before you were a star, you were accustomed to attention?

VALENTINO: …People have — always been kind to me.

ERICH: Oh, I am sure they have. Let us be frank, the world is what it is. Surely a young man of your beauty has always excited the hearts of those who appreciate a fair face?

VALENTINO: It is true, of course, that one has not been — without admirers.

ERICH: Yet you seem strangely modest. Most usually a person blessed with beauty becomes insolent, romantic, exciting. I find none of these deplorable qualities in your personality.

Gloria looks sharply at Erich. What is he up to?

VALENTINO: There are — reasons for that.

ERICH: A stern father, a saintly mother?

There is so snide a tone in Erich’s voice that not only Gloria, but “even Bill and Mary look a bit baffled.

VALENTINO: I scarcely remember anything that long ago. Life since has been so — overwhelming.

ERICH: Ah, but do tell us about it, dear boy. (with cutting purpose) There must be so much that you long to tell. To someone,

Mae looks startled. She has heard this before.

VALENTINO: (with a shy look around) It is so hard to say. I know you all so briefly,

ERICH: Nonsense, my man. Here on Olympus among gods, you may tell us anything. You may tell me everything.

MAE: (to herself) On, no.

VALENTINO: It is — very difficult. I am so much admired. It is embarrassing to one of any modesty.

ERICH: Oh, come now. Surely it goes with the territory?

BILL: You have to put up with the fans.

MARY: I miss it even now.

VALENTINO: Yes, of course, one endures the attention of the fans. One adopts — the role that they desire, because one knows it is, after all, the role that they are

ERICH: In love with?

VALENTINO: Yes. They think they are. They think you are the hero in the last movie that they saw you in.

ERICH: Adored you in?

MARY: They just adore us.

VALENTINO: Adored one in.

ERICH: Worshiped one in?

VALENTINO: Yes. Adored. It seems. Worshiped, it seems.

Gloria is watching, wondering. Mae is watching, terrified, as Erich works his charm on Valentino.

ERICH: Hard on such a simple lad.

VALENTINO: It is — disorienting.

ERICH: And surely rife with temptations? What does one do in the face of such demands, such temptations?

VALENTINO: {rapt on Erich) One — laughs at first. It seems so — almost silly — what people — see in one.

ERICH: You refer to the romantic roles the studio casts you in? Or —

VALENTINO: Yes, yes, of course, the roles seem — rather silly, yes, of course that is what I meant, the roles.

ERICH: But is that all? Do you mean something more?

/Mae shakes her head in protest and whispers, “No, no.”

VALENTINO: Sometimes, yes, yes, there is something more.

ERICH: Something more?

Bill and Mary watch in fascination, Gloria. warily.

VALENTINO: There is something more that people seem to see.

MAE No, don’t do it to him.

Erich brushes Mae .away like a fly.

ERICH: That people seem to see — where?

VALENTINO: (with a magnificent shrug) Where? In one. Surrounding one. Or perhaps it is not in oneself that they see it. Perhaps it is in some dark —

ERICH: Auditorium? Theatre?

VALENTINO: Yes, some dark auditorium or theatre in their own souls. People seem to see one as something quite apart from oneself. It is absurd — sometimes.

ERICH: Sometimes?

VALENTINO: Yes, it is absurd sometimes, but at other times it is —

ERICH: Different?

VALENTINO: Yes, obscurely different.

ERICH: Obscurely?

VALENTINO: No, not. obscurely. Mysteriously! Maddeningly, secretly different! Sometimes when one is alone with someone, they seem to see someone completely different from oneself.

ERICH: They seem to see — ?

VALENTINO: I don’t know. In those most private, intimate moments, when one has — surrendered oneself — I speak too freely?

ERICH: Oh, my dear young man, we have all entered bedrooms and found ourselves crucified upon our own images. You may speak freely. .

Mae whispers, “No, no.”

VALENTINO: (again magnificent) Oh, it is all right when one knows what they want I When all they want are the roles one already knows how to portray. It is a game, probably no more ridiculous than the games that are played in the most ordinary bedrooms by the merest —

ERICH: Mortals?

VALENTINO: What a word! By ordinary people.


GLORIA: (trying to take control) Who have learned those games from us!

VALENTINO: (blushes) Yes, pardon me, I see you do understand, you must forgive me, I am not accustomed to such frank talk on such subjects, but, yes, the games we play for the cameras, which people learn from us and then long to play themselves, it is silly, it is harmless, it is nothing, nothing, nothing!

ERICH: But then what troubles you?

Valentino looks about at the assembly. He is flustered,
embarrassed, unsure. Obviously he has never broached this I
subject before. . f

VALENTINO: There are things sometime that people seem to —

ERICH: To want from you?

VALENTINO: No! Not only to want! That would not be horrifying. They seem to find them.

Mae leans back, terrified.

VALENTINO: There is a thing that seems to happen in the dark, when the person one is with seems to receive — to experience something that is terrifying, something that — that —

ERICH: Transforms them?

GLORIA: Elevates them!

VALENTINO: That transfigures them! Because of some absurd accident that has given one the appearance, the face of —

ERICH: — something godlike?

VALENTINO: Yes! No! Shameful! Yes, yes, something almost godlike has happened to them. One looks into their eyes and sees oneself reflected there, but one has disappeared and been replaced by something, someone, something else I They have seen —

ERICH: (looking at Gloria) A god?

VALENTINO: Oh, it is obscene, but yes, yes, that is almost what seems to have occurred. I have lain in so many dark rooms, comforting strangers who are weeping with joy for the world they have entered through me, and I know nothing of that world. I have stood before my mirror, looking for what they find there, and I have felt nothing, nothing.

. ERICH: And do you want to go into those dark, flickering rooms and be that god, that deity, do you love to give to others that experience of being in the presence of a god?

VALENTINO: No! No! I want to know it myself. I want to feel what I make others feel. I want to worship as I am worshiped. I want to love, once, as I am loved!

He throws his head on the table and weeps. Mary comforts him, Bill looks about, truly embarrassed, Mae is weeping, too.

Gloria looks to Erich. Erich removes his monocle and polishes it, gives Gloria a contemptuous stare, and shakes his head firmly, mouthing, “No, no, no.”

Bill and Mary also, with regret, shake their heads, “No.” Gloria is stunned.

Dorothy kicks Noel under the table and hands him a note. It reads, “What is going on?” He quickly scribbles and returns to her a note reading, “God knows.” She returns one reading, “There ain’t no God.” He returns one reading, “Oh, dear.”

Franz appears by Gloria, with phone.

FRANZ: Madam —

GLORIA: I told you, no calls!

Franz retires.

VALENTINO: (rises and recovers himself) You will excuse me. I shall — if I may — go to your terrace and smoke a cigarette.

He bows formally and exits to the terrace. Gloria turns from looking after him to find everyone staring at her.

ERICH: (with a shrug) I am sorry, Gloria. A beautiful boy, to be sure, sure to be very popular, but – for what you want of him —

Bill and Mary also shrug. Noel and Dorothy are bewildered.

GLORIA: But you could do it. You of all people.

ERICH: He can project longing, obviously. I think love is beyond him.

GLORIA: (rises) Give me an hour. Give me half an hour. I will show you. This is meant to be. He is inadequate? I will make him adequate,

ERICH: Gloria!

GLORIA: (To Noel and Dorothy) You will excuse me? My home is yours. Make free.

Gloria exits to the terrace.

NOEL: I must say, that was intense. What shall we play now?

DOROTHY: (rising) Noel, you should really learn: “Never Never Land” is not a commandment.

Dorothy leaves the table and storms away, not to the terrace.

BILL: Poor Glory. She had her heart set on this.

MARY: They could make the movie, anyway.

ERICH: It does not suit their commercial images. The studio would not cooperate.

BILL: Things should oughta be different.

MARY: Bill, come show me some rope-tricks .

Bill and Mary exit, not to the terrace. Noel and Erich are left sitting alone at the table. Noel looks blankly about, then at Erich’s icy face.

NOEL: You can spare me, can’t you? I long to go examine the artifacts.

Noel rises and wanders away. Erich is left alone at the table, smoking, as servants begin to clear the dinner



Gloria stands on the terrace, looking about for Valentino. He is gone. On the terrace a still-smoking cigarette butt lies. She leans on the edge of the terrace, her face a mask of pain.


Valentino stands by the pool below, amidst a romantic arrangement of paper lanterns.


Gloria smiles. The camera follows her to the pool.

GLORIA: Signore Valentino —


GLORIA: I hope that you are well.

VALENTINO: I have embarrassed you before your guests. I will go.

GLORIA: No, don’t. You mustn’t let the jocularity of my friends upset you. They want to be your friends, too.

VALENTINO: I am not – so good with friends’.

GLORIA: You don’t understand our American way of teasing. I was the same in your country.

VALENTINO: And so was I!

(They laugh together)

VALENTINO: I have never been one for the social life. I prefer to be doing something always.

GLORIA: Oh, I’ve been so thoughtless. Why don’t we swim? Let’s swim!

VALENTINO: Oh, that would be wonderful. But — your guests?

GLORIA: Everyone fends for himself here. Come, there are bathing suits in there.

VALENTINO: It would be lovely.

GLORIA: Then that’s what we’ll do. Come, what do they know? I understand you, perhaps, a little. I, too, if it would not be immodest of me to say so —

VALENTINO: Yes, please, speak.

GLORIA: I, too, have known something of what it is to feel worshiped, adored, idolized – if you can believe that.

VALENTINO: But all the world knows your beauty.

GLORIA: And yet to feel lonely, empty, uncompleted.

VALENTINO: Yes, of course you would know. You are not like the others.

GLORIA: Perhaps not. But I think, perhaps, I might, possibly, be, in some small ways, like you?

VALENTINO: Oh, you make my heart leap. To be understood.

GLORIA: To be understood. Yes, that would be everything.

VALENTINO: Oh, yes, come, let us swim. Let us be like two innocent children, forgetting all this, this —

GLORIA: Meaningless formality?

VALENTINO: Yes, come, let’s go. Where, where?

GLORIA: Here! Here! Follow me!

She takes his hand and they run like children to the bath-house.


Dorothy sits on a stool at a bar in a room decorated like a South Seas saloon, drinking. Noel appears at the door.


NOEL: This is the seventeenth bar I’ve found in this historical exhibit. How many bars does it take to make a prison?

DOROTHY: One, if you work it right.

NOEL: May I come in and gather some local color? I’m writing a book called “Around the World by Tramp Steamer.”

DOROTHY: Come right in, Mister Steamer. May I call you “Tramp?”

NOEL: (Saunters in and takes a stool) All the better people do. ‘Well, the Austrian director is meditating in the Florentine ballroom. ‘The Man of the West is demonstrating rope tricks to America’s Sweetheart in a Japanese pavilion. The Merry Widow is having a nervous breakdown in the French gardens. And the god and goddess of love are romping in a Pompeian swimming pool. ‘What’s playing in the Honolulu Room?

DOROTHY: (Pours him a drink) Hamlet contemplates suicide.

NOEL: You’re very quiet.

DOROTHY: I’m not talking to myself, I’m mad at me.

{Toasts him) Hamlet toasts the ghost and downs the hatch.

NOEL: You’re all talk. How can they turn a book of yours into a film”?

DOROTHY: How does one turn anything into a film? By spreading it very, very thin.

NOEL: They do seem to squeak by without us, don’t they?

DOROTHY: In Hollywood, to coin a phrase, the word is out. They get paid for not talking — like blackmailers.

NOEL: I know I should resent that, but I can’t help thinking —

DOROTHY: That doesn’t pay any better than writing.

NOEL: —that there is a certain poetry in their shadow-shows. There are, after all, very few things that people actually do. We stand, sit, and lie, walk, run, and crawl —

DOROTHY: And drink more than is good for us, if we know what’s good for us.

NOEL: —and the silent cinema reduces all the complexities of life to those few rudimentary reflexes: Kiss, kill, coddle —

DOROTHY: Rape, pillage and foreclose.

NOEL: —and yet, even as we writers sink here in the West, I find I pity a generation brought up purely on pantomime. Those few things people do are so repetitious, so boring —

DOROTHY: . Raping and pillaging never pall.

NOEL: — and it is only the style of the great poets, Shakespeare, .Homer, Milton, Moses —

DOROTHY: Irving Berlin, God, I love that man!

NOEL: — that give poor little life any meaning at all. I weep not only for us as they bar us from Paradise, but for them in a world of gestures, without any meaning at all.

DOROTHY: Not that I don’t relish our growing closeness, but why aren’t they filming you in Britain?

NOEL: Only Americans can make movies. The British cannot distinguish between a film and a fog.

DOROTHY: Speaking of fogs, I told my producer that Hamlet had an Oedipus Complex. He said, “A boy is always smart to get into real estate.”

NOEL: I told mine he should do a film about Socrates, and he asked me, “What are Socrates?”

DOROTHY: So do you think the Princess from Pittsburgh will succeed in making Rudolph Vaselino?

NOEL: There’s no forecasting Americans in love. You celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day with a massacre.

DOROTHY: Love should be so simple. A loves B. B loves A. They roll around on each other and spell AB, BA, ABBA, BABA. But there are all those other letters waiting in line and the thing turns into alphabet soup. I envy the Babylonians. They didn’t have any vowels.

NOEL: How you do go on.

DOROTHY: Well, if you can be Peter Pan, I can be Wendy.

NOEL: What are we doing in this illiterate Eden?

DOROTHY: I’m trying to present a moving target to the little boy with the arrows. No, on the train coming out here I wrote a hateful movie about Broadway. On the train back, I’ll write a hateful play about Hollywood. It’s a living. Your turn.

NOEL: I’m running from bigger boys with bigger arrows. No, I wish to understand this curious beast, America, and Hollywood seems to be its heart.

DOROTHY: Or some part bloody and beating.

NOEL: If I could comprehend the film industry, I think I should have a grip on the U.S.A.

DOROTHY: Fate has sent me to you. It’s simple. The film industry consists of Jewish producers in California trying to convince Catholic bankers in New York that they know which fantasies will sell to Protestant farmers in Nebraska.

NOEL: The only great religion omitted is the Muslims.

DOROTHY They have something better.

NOEL: And what is that?

DOROTHY: Hashish.

NOEL: Gesundheit.

They toast one another and toss down another drink.


Gloria and Valentino, in flattering swimwear, are lying breathless by the pool.

VALENTINO: That was wonderful. The world seems far away. As far as that moon.

GLORIA: Yes, we do seem truly to be the only man and woman in the world, don’t we?

VALENTINO No, the only two children.

GLORIA: Yes, I forgot.

VALENTINO Wouldn’t that be beautiful.

GLORIA: If we grew up, we could found a very good-looking new race.

VALENTINO: No, I would not wish on anyone the curse of beauty. We must stay children forever and never know the agony of love.

GLORIA: Would you really rather you had never known it?

VALENTINO: I never have known it. Only the reflection of it in other’s eyes, like something reflected backwards in a mirror.

GLORIA: I’ve never known it either.

VALENTINO: You? Surely you have had all the men in the world longing for you.

GLORIA: Isn’t it strange? You are the only one who could understand me, and you, too, would turn me into an image.

VALENTINO Oh, no, I am sorry.

GLORIA: To think I once wanted this, this prison, this isolation, this fame.

She weeps. He takes her tenderly in his arms.

VALENTINO: In my country, people are very poor. Often there is not enough to eat. When the children cry because their stomachs are empty, their mothers go to the riverbed and dig fresh, clean clay. They feed this clay to their children. There is no nourishment in it, but it fools the empty void within them and they sleep. This fame is like that. It feels like love, it looks like love, it fills for a moment the emptiness, but there is no nourishment in it, it is false, it is a lie, it is not love.

GLORIA: No it is not love. Somehow one knows it, though one has never known love.

VALENTINO: Yes, it feels like the love one dreams of, the love one sees others enjoying. But it is not. It is nothing. It is worse than nothing. It is heavy, it is worthless, and it is not even clean.

GLORIA: (slowly turning it into a speech of passion, embracing him gradually)
We have suffered so much, you and I. We have given so much to other people and received nothing in return. We understand one another so well, so very well. No one else could understand me, no one else could understand you. No one else could understand the terrible need we feel, no one else could ever satisfy it. Oh, my darling, why shouldn’t we give each other —

VALENTINO: (recoils from her embrace) Please, no.

GLORIA: Oh, don’t be afraid. I want you. I need you. I am yours.

VALENTINO: No, please, you have misunderstood.

GLORIA: I can give, I can show, I can bring that true love to you. I can bring that light of love into your eyes.

VALENTINO: I beg you, do not humiliate yourself.

GLORIA: For you I would risk any humiliation. I would do anything. Oh, let me worship you — Oh!

Too late, she realizes she has said the wrong thing.

VALENTINO: No! Not again! Everywhere I go! The same madness! The same longing! The same evil mystery! No! No! No!

He flees, grabbing his clothes and runs up the stairs to the terrace and into the house.

GLORIA: (simultaneously) No, please, I need you, I must have you, you don’t understand, what have I done, stay, please, please, please!

She weeps by the pool, hysterical.


The orchestra is playing desultorily. Mae lies on the piano. From Erich’s point of view at the table we see Valentino, clutching his clothes, run in from the terrace. He pauses, breathless, embarrassed, sobbing. Erich with his cigarette holder indicates a washroom. FOLLOW Valentino as he runs into the washroom and slams the door.

Mae tremblingly follows Valentino. Now Gloria enters in bathing costume, trailing her towel, gives Erich the glance of death. Follow her to her bedroom which she enters and slams the door. Erich shakes his head sadly, The MUSIC dies.


Bill is demonstrating rope tricks for Mary. They hear the slamming doors and go into the


just as Dorothy and Noel, also intrigued, emerge from another entrance.

Bill, Mary, Noel, and Dorothy look back and forth to each other for explanations. None is forthcoming. They all look to Erich. He shrugs monumentally.


Gloria in a frantic fit throws off her bathing costume and in a flashing MONTAGE of slamming drawers and flying fabric dons a stunning hostess gown and a turban to cover her wet hair. She looks like an angry, shimmering priestess.


Mae bangs feebly on the door of the washroom Valentino entered. There is no response and she slides sobbing to the floor, leaning against the door.


IN THE WASHROOM Valentino in the washroom kneels before the sink, sobbing.

GLORIA’S BEDROOM Gloria, magnificently redressed, stares at herself in a full-length mirror, turns, flings open her bedroom door.


CAMERA TRACKS with Gloria as she strides into


GLORIA: Forgive me. I’m afraid I’ve neglected my guests.

The orchestra suddenly PLAYS again.

Gloria whisks champagne from a passing tray.

Erich smiles.

Franz approaches Gloria.

FRANZ: Madame.

GLORIA: I said no calls and I meant it. No. Wait. Yes. Why not. I’ll take the call.

FRANZ: It is not a call, Madame, but callers. Madam has other guests.

GLORIA: What other guests?

FRANZ: It is miss Pola Negri, Madame, and a friend.


MARY: (shocked and pleased) Pola!

BILL: (to Gloria) Thought you two was feudin’.

GLORIA: (striding away) I can’t believe this!

Erich laughs


Mae kneeling against the door of the washroom Valentino entered. We HEAR HIS SOBBING within.

MAE: Oh, no, no, no, don’ t.

She wanders off with her hands over her ears into


Mae enters, hands on her ears, and hides among the fronds..


Simultaneously, Gloria stalks into the corridor at the foot of the stairway, followed by Bill and Mary, and, a bit behind, Noel and Dorothy.

DOROTHY: What on Earth is wrong with these people?

NOEL: (dragging her with him) We are being filmed for psychiatric research.

From Gloria’s POV WE SEE POLA descending the stairs. She is perhaps older, less coldly beautiful than Gloria. She is the image of a passionate Gypsy, a truly frightening apparition who would look foolish were she less arrogant and regal. A figure walks behind her, concealed.

From Pola’s POV WE SEE Gloria at the foot of the stairs, coldly angry. Cutting back and forth we sense a collision coming.

Bill and Mary join Gloria at the foot of the stairs. Pola continues to descend. Noel and Dorothy hang back.


Valentino raises his face from the basin and stares at his image in the mirror. Extreme, dazzling close-up of his face. He kisses his image passionately.


Pola reaches the foot of the stairs, her companion still concealed behind her. Quick close-ups of Gloria’s face, Pola’s face. Both open their mouths to speak.

Erich steps in front of Gloria.

ERICH: Pola! Surely the world is moaning in sorrow when all its gods have deserted it to gather here!

He kisses her hand. Gloria’s face freezes. Erich smiles at her.

GLORIA: Pola. Darling.

She steps forward to take Pola’s hand. Bill and Mary visibly relax.

GLORIA: How wonderful to see you.

Gloria glances back and sees the servants carrying away the dinner table. She glances at Erich, who smiles enigmatically. She glances at Franz, who nods toward the washroom door.

GLORIA: Won’t you come into the Great Hall and have champagne with us? I fear our little — celebration has ended–is over.

Erich raises an eyebrow. Franz steps to the entrance of the ballroom, beckoning Pola in.


Mae sees Franz in doorway, and flees out onto—


Mae, on the terrace, meets a wind. Her feathers tremble in the breeze.


GLORIA: We shall drink to memories and — (a nervous glance at the washroom door)
— to what might have been.


Mae on the terrace, looks out at the jungle below, back at the ballroom.


Mae SEES Franz entering the ballroom, looking for her.

Mae flees down the terrace stairs, past the pool, into the jungle.

Franz comes out onto the terrace, looks down. Servants come behind him.

FRANZ: Follow her. See that she doesn’t harm herself.

Servants follow Mae.


GLORIA: Won’t you come?

Pola stands resolute and enigmatic on the stairs, above the increasingly irritated Gloria, her companion still hidden.

DOROTHY: She looks like a Gypsy.

NOEL: Want your palm read?

DOROTHY: If I wanted my palm red, I’d run it through her hair.


Outside, Mae wanders through the underbrush, like a strange, stalking moonlit bird.


GLORIA: I hope I do not seem inhospitable, but you see —

Gloria glances at the washroom door, ignoring Erich’s sly smirk.

GLORIA: — one of my guests has become somewhat indisposed, and —

The washroom door opens and Valentino emerges, flawless and in complete control of himself.

VALENTINO: Not at all, Madame. I regret to have caused you concern. I am so pleased on an already memorable evening to encounter yet another compatriot of such distinction.

POLA: Signore Valentino. Hmmm. I have done better work than I knew.

This puzzling remark causes some blinks in the party.
POLA: It is marvelous that you are here. For I have someone with me who longs to know you. Mesdames and Messieurs, allow me to introduce my protégé, —

Pola steps aside to reveal RAMON, a startling clone of Valentino.

POLA: — Ramon Navarro —

Startled GASPS from the party,

POLA: — recently signed by the studio, under my protection.

Pola gloats. Gloria gapes. Erich suppresses laughter. Bill and Mary are awestruck.

Valentino stands staring. Ramon stands a step above Pola, shyly smiling. Valentino steps forward. He ascends past Gloria to stand a step below Ramon. Ramon and Valentino gaze at one another. Pola smiles.

VALENTINO: Signore Navarro. It is so good to meet you.

RAMON: It is an honor I could not have hoped for.

VALENTINO: They taught you to speak like that at the studio.

RAMON Pola Negri taught me.

VALENTINO: And very’ well, very well. But you need not concern yourself with correctness here. We are all equals, all friends here. Please speak as you feel.

RAMON: Well, golly, if I was going to do that, I’d just be tongue-tied. In all my wildest dreams I never dared to dream that I’d ever actually meet you.

VALENTINO Is that true?

RAMON: Well, no. No, in my wildest dreams that’s just what I did dream.

VALENTINO: You see how easy it is? Once one realizes one can speak? How easy it is to say just what one feels?

During this exchange between Ramon and Valentino, the “monocle” or “ERICH SEES:” effect slowly slides into place, and WE SEE the two young men in black-and-white, superbly-lit, clearly a meeting of lovers, with all the romance and mythological passion that one could hope for.

RAMON: But just a few months ago, I was running a gas-pump.

VALENTINO: I was a gardener once.

RAMON: I delivered packages.

VALENTINO: I was a carpenter.

RAMON: I — entertained at parties.

VALENTINO: I was a gigolo.

RAMON: Like in the song?

VALENTINO: Like in the song. We have so much in common. So much to tell each other.

Valentino takes Ramon’s hand and begins to lead him away. The party clears for them. Without the least self-consciousness, utterly easily and naturally, Valentino and Ramon stroll away, into the ballroom, then —


–through the ballroom, out onto the terrace, down the stairs, and into the moonlit night, still chatting.


Gloria turns on Pola.

GLORIA: You fiend! Why have you done ‘this?

POLA: Done what? What have I done? I have introduced another star into the firmament. This is an act of merit, to be admired. What star is so unselfish? Where is my champagne?

She reaches over the banister and champagne appears from a servant.

GLORIA: You abuse all the privileges of a guest. You flout the precepts of our profession. You are an abomination.

POLA: To so berate a guest. If there were members of the press here, what a raw headline.

GLORIA: You expect me to exercise good taste in the face of your offense? What do you want here?

POLA: Want? Respect. Companionship. Relaxation. Admiration. Perhaps congratulations for my good fortune.

GLORIA: What good fortune?

POLA: Why, Gloria, I am to have a dream come true. One of those girlish dreams we shared when we were Bathing Beauties.

GLORIA: What dream? Which dream?

POLA Our greatest dream, Gloria.

GLORIA: Camille.

POLA: Camille.

GLORIA: You wouldn’t. You couldn’t.

DOROTHY (to Noel) I’m going bats.

NOEL It does you credit.
POLA: We confuse and bewilder our friends.

ERICH: Your friends know all your dreams, Pola.

GLORIA: Everyone here knows our dreams, and that my dreams are greater than yours You cannot do this thing.

POLA: Either of us can do it, Gloria. And it will be me.

GLORIA: It will not.

POLA: It will! I start tomorrow! Everything is prepared And I have my leading man!

Gloria starts forward, murder in her eyes.

MARY: Don’t!

ERICH: Stop!

Gloria freezes.

ERICH: Is this war in Heaven, Gloria? Is this what the world will imitate?

Gloria stands, a statue of icy rage.


Mae wanders through the brush into —— a lonely greenhouse. Servants attend her. They hold up potted plants, plucking petals from flowers. Then they hold up withered young plants. Mae stares, dazed, then flees into the forest.

Servants follow her.


At the staircase, Gloria still stands. Then she relaxes. There is now a calm certainty in her manner.

GLORIA: You will not do this thing, Pola, because you cannot. You will not make “Camille.”

Pola drops her jaw in surprise.

GLORIA: When she is portrayed, I will portray her, and not you. We were ruthless girls, but we dreamed of becoming something better And we almost succeeded And that “almost” became imprinted on your face, and you became the greatest tragic player of the screen. Your failure was your success, while I — ? I learned to hide my failure and became the image of success. That success was my failure. But in our hearts we held the dream of those two savage, animal girls: the dream of portraying the dream, the slut who becomes a saint. But, Pola, what we wanted was not only to portray it, but to make it true. You know that you could not bear to see it falsely done. Look at our faces. Which do you want to see up there shining in the dark as the savior? Your true tragic face that cannot tell a lie? Or my perfect false face that is capable of anything?


quite perfect, quite alive, seen through the monocle, exquisite, inspiring, and


angry, honest, exotic, seen through the monocle, expressive, enthralling, but no “Camille.”


Their real faces, side by side, tears coming down Pola’s now.

GLORIA: Anything, I tell you! Anything!


On the grounds, Mae staggers out of the undergrowth past statues of strange gods, statues much like Gloria. Mae comes to the glowing pool. She looks at everything blankly, bewildered, like some animal coming into a strange civilization, followed by attentive servants. With no special emphasis, her gaze drifts across —

— Ramon and Valentino by the pool, entwined and spent with love.

She vaguely ascends toward the house, followed by servants


Pola is sitting on the stair now, her face awash with tears. She allows Mary to dry her eyes.

POLA: Oh, take it. No one but you could have known what stones to move to uncover my poor heart. You, you have no heart><t^_

GLORIA: At least no one knows how to uncover it. Least of all I.

Gloria sits beside Pola.

GLORIA: But, Pola, dear and only friend. You have no reason to be sad. You have not failed, darling; you have become the goddess of failure.

Pola is looking at Gloria. Pola’s face becomes ennobled.

Gloria walks down the stairs through the aghast Bill and Mary to take Erich’s arm.

GLORIA: Now come, dear friends, come all of us and let me at last make my great announcement.


All enter and the music is sheer celestial triumph. Servants distribute wine to all, including the Band.

Mae enters from the terrace and is swept up in the revelry.

Gloria laughs and toasts with each guest in turn, even descends from the balcony to clink glasses with the band. She is merry, dances a little jig, picks up a feather fan and parades.

From her POV we see the astonished guests and the worried Franz on the balcony. She dances.

From her POV we see a tuxedoed FIGURE approaching from the pool. She laughs and begins her announcement,

GLORIA: Ladies and Gentlemen. Deities and mortals Olympians and others! Hear me. I have tonight the direst announcement to make! There is forthcoming, out of the womb of time, out of the awesome immensities of space, out of the charred ruins of human history, there is forthcoming the greatest masterwork, the finest achievement, the most majestic message, the new testament I will undertake the greatest role, under the aegis of the only director —

Erich is distraught. He shakes his head, “No.” Bill and Mary are worried. Pola is mesmerized.

GLORIA: — but, alas, I will not play it yet. For the womb of time has
not quite kept its promise. It will come, but it has not come yet. I must freeze my face forever, in hopes that time will deliver at last Armand. And in the meantime, I must beg forgiveness with all humility of one whom I have treated wretchedly –

Pola looks up, expecting that she is the one Gloria speaks of. But Gloria is looking out through the terrace window, where there approaches a silhouetted, slim, tuxedoed figure.

GLORIA: Before you all, I beg his forgiveness for having placed too heavy a burden on the mortal shoulders of –

She grasps the arm of the entering tuxedoed figure

GLORIA: — the luminescent Rudolph Valentino.

RAMON: Madam. Forgive me. I am the other one.

VALENTINO: (entering) Oh, no, Ramon. We are one. We must be one. We are forever one.

Gloria is thunderstruck as she observes Valentino and Ramon gazing at one another as at a mirror,


Erich, struck as if by lightening.


Valentino, his face transfigured by love.

ERICH: Valentino.

Valentino starts to turn to Erich.

ERICH: No! Do not look at me. Look at Ramon. Hold that expression on your face and — Ramon, step away. Gloria, approach him.

They do as Erich says, Gloria replaces Ramon. Gloria and Valentino face each other. Erich slips the monocle into place.

ERICH SEES: the most beautiful human faces possible, in black-and-white, gazing at one another with his undiluted love, Gloria’s tragic triumph. They are Camilla and Armand.

ERICH: Yes. Yes. Yes, Gloria. It is possible It is inevitable

A strange madness seizes everyone. The music swells, the guests toast and laugh and embrace and dance, even Pola is swept up in the inexplicable glee.

Gloria and Valentino parade, shaking hands, even the hands of the Servants.

ERICH SEES: Camille and Armand in their happiness.

GLORIA: (to Pola) You have your revenge, dear sister. I shall have only the dream, not the reality. Heaven is Hell. I shall play Camille and the world will be saved. But I will not be victorious. I will only be — forever — the goddess of Victory.

ON GLORIA: All her twisted emotions cross her face and she fights down each one until she presents the radiant perfect visage of a goddess in anyone’s terms.

ERICH: Gloria, it is possible.

Gloria’s face. It could just be possible that our picture is over as she grows, if anything, yet more radiant and benign.

ERICH: It is possible. Everything you have predicted for the world is possible. It is even possible that you are not mad.

Gloria falls upon Erich’s bosom, a child in the arms of her father.

The doorbell RINGS. All faces look about, shocked from their magic spell. Franz leaves the room.

Mary and Bill, then Mae, come to congratulate Gloria. Ramon joins them. It looks very like a wedding party.

Noel and Dorothy hang out in a corner, understandably perplexed.

Franz appears in the doorway.

FRANZ: Madame. The head of the studio.

Shock and consternation.


JACK, dignified, paternal, in a business suit, enters. He is followed by a CHAUFFEUR and SERVANTS carrying equipment.

Even as Gloria and her party rush forth to greet Jack, the Chauffeur is shoving past Franz to set up this equipment, directing the dispersal of the potted palms and the band and arranging chairs for the party and Jack to watch a film.

GLORIA: Jack! Jack! What an unqualified blessing To have you here. Oh, here, wine for our father!

Jack shoves aside wine offered by Servants.

GLORIA: Come, sit down! A throne for our lord and master.

Jack ignores the offered throne.

GLORIA: Jack, I don’t believe you know Dorothy and Noel.

NOEL: Court jesters.

DOROTHY: Wo one courts jesters.

JACK Writers, are you?

GLORIA: Jack, I — we — have been making a present for you. The most wonderful present you have ever been offered. Oh, I don’t know which of us should tell you.

JACK: Good evening, children. Gloria, I phoned several times. I took the liberty of corning over because I have something of the utmost importance to tell you all. Erich, Mae, Bill, Mary, Rudy, Ramon, Pola, this will affect all of you.

GLORIA: You’ve something for us? This is a conjunction of wonders. Shall we draw lots to see who gives their present first?

As Gloria prattles, quick intercutting between Jack’s stern, no-nonsense face and, variously, Erich, beginning to realize something is up. Bill and Mary growing worried, Mae sensing tension and starting to tremble, Ramon and Valentino drawing close together like birds in a storm, Pola smiling wryly.

At last, Gloria runs up against Franz, who looks like a mask of severe tragedy. She follows his gaze to Jack’s face.

JACK: All right, I don’t want to divert your party for long. Hans, are we ready?

The chauffeur, Hans, signals, “yes.”

JACK: All right, then, if you’ll be so polite as to take your seats, we’ll begin.

All sit, worriedly. At a signal from Hans, lights dim.

Out of the darkness comes a picture on the screen, and


A sequence from “The Jazz Singer” — Jolson singing “Mammy” or “Sonny Boy.” The sequence ends with Jolson saying, “You ain’t’ heard nothin’ yet.”

Throughout the screening, close-ups of the members of the party as they react to this bizarre event.

As lights come up and the film ends, the party members sit like stunned animals. Under Hans’ directions, Servants dismantle and remove the film equipment.

JACK: I see sound has left you speechless. Tremendous, isn’t it? It’s grossing millions nationwide. This will revolutionize the film industry. I want everyone in my office tomorrow. We have to talk. Oh, and Erich. I’ve called your company. All current productions are suspended. We have to talk about “The Merry Widow.”

Unnoticed by the preoccupied people around her, Mae stands, trembling.

JACK: (To Noel and Dorothy) You writers. Have your agents call me. We should talk. Now I want you’ all to get some sleep tonight. I’ll see you tomorrow. We have to talk.

His words echo on the soundtrack as he exits, “We have to talk, we have to talk, we have to talk,” over close-ups of Bill, Mary, Rudolph, Ramon, Pola, Erich, finally of Mae;, her pretty-doll features distort into a hideous, repeated silent scream. There is a rumble of earthquake which grows out of the echo of Jack’s words. Mae staggers up out of her chair and goes to the terrace, unnoticed by the quiet, brooding party.


Mae runs back and forth as if pursued. She climbs up on the balustrade. From below, WE SEE Mae leap from the balustrade. She falls into us, a silently-screaming suicidal bird. Throughout Mae’s suicide sequence, all normal sounds should continue.


Inside, the Musicians are packing their instruments, Servants are folding their chairs. Jack is glimpsed exiting. WE HEAR his car start and leave.

Franz is the first to move. He raises his hand to signal to the Band to play.

Gloria raises her hand to give a negative wave. The Band freezes, then continues packing.

The guests depart. They greet Gloria one by one, if “greet” is quite the word for their stunned, silent confrontations. Franz hands them their wraps.

Erich is the last to go. He pauses as if remembering that he had something with him, then shrugs and starts up the stairs. Franz is left with Mae’s wrap.

The parade of guests out of the Great Hall and up first the interior and then the exterior stairs should resemble the slow death march of the dinosaurs in Disney’s “Fantasia.”

Except for the faces of Noel and Dorothy, which beam. They are the last to come to Gloria.

NOEL: (kissing Gloria’s hand) Goodnight, dear lady. I enjoyed it more than I can say.

DOROTHY: Words fail us.

Dorothy and Noel rush to catch the departing crowd, Noel with a chummy wave at the pianist.

Gloria sits alone. Franz, carrying Mae’s wrap, wanders about looking for her. He exits to the terrace.


On the terrace, he looks down.


Mae, floating in the pool, a drowned bird.


Franz rushes through the ballroom, Mae’s cloak flying behind him.

Gloria raises her head. The Band is quietly packing instruments, peeling off their masks. They quietly disappear one by one. Franz re-enters, running, followed by Servants, heading for the terrace. Gloria wanders to the terrace.


On the terrace, Gloria observes Servants fishing Mae from the water. Police sirens are heard, drawing near.

GLORIA’S FACE a Sphinx’s mask. WIDER

Franz appears beside her and turns her gently from the spectacle below.

FRANZ Madame?

GLORIA: Everything was quite perfect, Franz?

FRANZ Quite perfect. Madame.

GLORIA: Everything was perfect. Everything was possible.

FRANZ Instructions for tomorrow. Madam?

GLORIA: Tomorrow? Tomorrow the world will start to fall apart, all possibility of peace destroyed. Language, which can lie, will again become the coin of the realm. A thousand different languages. A thousand different lies.

Gloria looks up.

GLORIA: A thousand ancient stars. A million billion more years like the billion years before. We had our chance. We failed. The tower of truth will fall before a filthy flood of sound.

Gloria leaves the terrace.

Franz closes the terrace doors behind her, and descends to the pool.


The moon is behind the mansion now. It is black except for lights within the house. Servants carry Mae’s body up the steps to the terrace. Lights go out on the second floor, the third. Curtains close from floor to floor. At the last lit window, the bedroom window in a tower, Gloria is seen briefly. She closes the curtains. The bedroom light goes out.

The stars move on.


2 Responses to “screenplay SOUND by Robert Patrick”

  1. RESUME/Links to Online Works « Robert Patrick's Personal Blog Says:

    […] SCREENPLAYS SOUND (has been called a prequel to “Sunset Boulevard”):    DELUSION (students are not who they seem in a posh private school): […]


    […] SCREENPLAYS ONLINE SOUND (has been called a prequel to “Sunset Boulevard”): DELUSION (students are not who they seem in a posh private school): […]

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