Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) Script

'Swounds I should take it, for it cannot be but I am pigeon-livered and lack gall to make oppression bitter, or ere this I should have fatted all the region kites with this slave's offal.

Bloody, bawdy villain!

Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!

O vengeance!

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, thank you.

That was, of course, a speech of Hamlet's from a play I was lucky enough to perform in on several occasions, though not, as yet, in the principal role.

Our next tableau...

...features someone who has devoted herself to the musical life of this city.

Amongst others, she is patron of the Euterpe Club, of the Brooklyn Orchestra for Distressed Gentlewomen, as well as, of course, our very own Verdi Club.

Let us journey back in time to 1850 and the state of Alabama.

America's greatest popular songwriter, Stephen Foster, has run out of ideas.

He's a desperate man.

But wait. What is this?

Now. That's it.


It is the Angel of Inspiration sent from on high.

At last Stephen Foster can write his song.

♪ I came from Alabama with my banjo on my knee

♪ I'm goin' to Louisiana, my true love for to see

♪ Oh, Susanna! Oh, don't you cry for me...

Hold her. Hold her! - ♪ I came from Alabama

♪ With my banjo on my knee Bravo! Bravo!

The Angel of Inspiration, featuring Madam Florence Foster Jenkins!

It's going very, very, very well.

I don't feel that I imbued the moment of inspiration with the intensity it deserved, but it was a serviceable attempt.

Better than serviceable. It was good.

My amulets, please. Armlets.

Has the impending potato-salad catastrophe been averted?

Even as I speak, the chef has a team out scouring Manhattan for chives.

No chives. What next, I wonder!

Unconscionable, but they tell me there is a war on, Bunny.

Valkyries on stage, please. The overture has begun.

What about the sandwiches?

Ham and tomato, plain cucumber and chicken with a hint of Dijon mustard.

Actually delicious. Excellent. How do I look?


Now, schnell, schnell. Go on, quickly. You're a very naughty Valkyrie.

We now come to the finale of our evening.

I should warn you that the vision you're about to witness will be both shocking and terrifying.

A battle is raging. Volleys of arrows pierce the air.

Shields clash and swords do their terrible work.

But swooping down from the clouds comes the most terrible spectre of all.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Verdi Club presents the Ride of the Valkyries!

Oh! Oh, my God!


It is my pleasure to present you with this small token of our esteem.

Oh! Thank you. Shall I open it?


Well, this is beautiful. Thank you. Thank you all so very much.

You know, years ago when I founded the Verdi Club, I never could have imagined that I would be here tonight, 25 years on, with my beloved husband by my side.


Music has been, and is, my life.

Music matters. Thank you.


And at this dark moment in our history, with our brave boys fighting for civilisation itself, it matters more than ever.

So I implore you to continue to support the musical life of this city.

Good evening, Madam Florence. Hello, Kitty.

How did it go? Very, very well, thank you.

And now, my bunny, you must sleep.

I don't want this day to end.

I know, I know.

Shut your eyes.

Only if you recite for me.

Very well.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments.

Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no.

Thank you, Kitty.

Goodnight, Mr Bayfield. Goodnight.

A taxi if I may. Thank you.

Thank you very much. Goodnight, sir.

Welcome home, darling.

I'm a tad drunk. Oh. Lucky you.

How was Florence? Magnificent.

And you?

I would say I gave an adequate performance.

I wish I could have come.

How was Augustus's play? Oh, terrible.

Finish it. I'm teaching first thing.

The oculist with bad breath and two left hands, both of which tend to wander.

I love you, St Clair. Hmm. With knobs on.

Good morning, Miss Rabbit.

Have you seen the reviews, Whitey?

Carlton Smith in the Musical Courier says it was the event of the season.

Well, it jolly well was. Now...

No. Put it on the table. I'm getting up.

Bunny, that's not a good idea. Last night...

On the table. Please.

We have to plan the Verdi lunch.

Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no.

You can't put Mrs James O'Flaherty next to the baroness.

She slurps her soup.

Then let's serve smoked trout, because I doubt that even Mrs O'Flaherty could slurp a trout.

The Verdi luncheon always begins with a soup. You know that.

How could we not begin with a soup? There would be a riot.

In that case, let us put her over here on the card table between Mr and Mrs Levi.

Perfect. No.

Mrs O'Flaherty isn't keen on the... Jews.

We'll put her between Prince Galitzer and Mrs Oscar Garmunder.

No. Yes. They're both deaf as posts.

No! Yes!

Maestro Toscanini is here.


Charlie, cup of coffee?

Do show him in, Kitty, please.

Please come in. Thank you so much.

Arturo. What a wonderful surprise.

You don't mind me visiting unannounced?

Oh, no. La mia casa è la tua casa.


I have a little gift. Oh.

My recording of the Bell Song with Lily Pons.

Oh, Arturo, how very thoughtful of you. Thank you.

You know, we are so looking forward to that concert.

Are the preparations going well? Very well.

Though there are some financial matters that remain... problematico.


Madam Florence, without your help, there will be no concert.

How much did he want?

A thousand. But he gave me a record.

♪ Filles des Parias

♪ Elle court sur la mousse Et ne se souvient pas

♪ Le long des lauriers roses

♪ Rêvant de douces choses

♪ Elle passe sans bruit

♪ Et riant a la nuit

Bravo! Bravo!

I haven't heard a voice that good since Caruso.

Extraordinary little thing, isn't she? Hmm.

Can you imagine what that must feel like?

To hold nearly 3,000 people in the cup of your hand.

Hmm. To share such profound communion.


Did you see Carlo Edwards from the Met?

No. Well, he was seated to our right.

I gather he's coaching again.

Oh, is he now, Bunny?

I would like to take some more lessons with him.

Then I shall phone him first thing in the morning.

I shall need a pianist. Yes.

Someone young. Someone... with passion.

Oh, my hat. Not passionate enough?

He's raping my ears. Make him stop, make him stop.

Thank you! Thank you very much, Mr Zeigler.

Thank you, Mr Zeigler! Thank you!

Very good. We'll... We'll be in touch.

Thank you again.

Gentlemen, the chairs are not for practical use. You have been told.

Cosmé McMoon? That's me, sir.



What should I play? Well, I really don't mind.

As long as it's not too loud.

What loveliness. Hmm.

What is he playing?

Some Saint-Saëns bullshit.


You know...

You know, when I was... when I was 16 years old, my father told me that if I didn't give up music and marry a dull banker, he'd cut me off.

That's true.

Sorry. It's OK, continue, Mr McMoon.

Course, he didn't understand musicians.

We'd rather go without bread than Mozart, wouldn't we?

It's not even a choice for us.

Course, he did cut me off, but I got myself a little apartment in Philly and I made a living teaching piano to children.

And we'd play The Swan and...

That was my favourite.

Wow. Great story.

Yeah, it is, isn't it?

Course, he came round eventually and then I was back in the will.


Well, I must say, I think you're absolutely ideal.

Did I mention that I also compose?

And he also composes. Yes, I'm sure he does.

Well, you know, there are some other candidates to hear, Bunny.

Hmm? Some more.

Do you know any of them? I do.

They're all rather... heavy-handed, I'm afraid.

The son of a bitch.

Madam Florence regrets she is unable to hear any more candidates today.

It's unbelievable. I trained at Juilliard...

I am so very sorry.

Why? You're not her type.

Now, I must warn you, I work very hard.

I study an hour every day.

Sometimes two.

And my father didn't leave me as much money as everybody thinks, so I couldn't pay you more than a hundred and fifty.

A month? A week.

I'm not destitute.

A few pointers as to how Madam Florence does things.

You will note that she carries a leather briefcase with her at all times.

You are not to touch that briefcase or to enquire as to its contents.


In the hall, Madam Florence keeps a collection of chairs in which people of note have expired.

They're not for practical use. I understand.

She abhors all pointed objects, so don't smoke in her presence or hand her a knife or anything like that.

Are you fond of sandwiches? Yes.

Good, good. Madam Florence is inordinately fond of sandwiches.

And potato salad as well.

When we throw parties, we make mountains of the stuff.

It would serve you to consume both with enthusiasm.

I shall. Good morning, Patrick.

So, here is a week in advance and a teeny bit extra for a new shirt.

Thank you.

If you can forgive Madam Florence her little eccentricities, you will find her to be a most generous and delightful person.

Ours is a very happy world.

Welcome, Mr McMoon.

Tomorrow morning at nine. Don't be late.

I won't, sir. Good.

Taxi! Taxi!

Good morning. Good morning.

Mr McMoon is here. Oh, do come in, Mr McMoon.

This is the talented young man I was telling you about.

How do you do, Mr McMoon? My vocal coach.

Maestro Carlo Edwards, assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera.

How do you do, sir? I saw you conduct La Bohème last season.

Oh, no, please don't remind me.


He's kidding. He's kidding.

I've learned everything.

I'm virtually off score. Good. Then let's get started.

Here we are. The Bell Song.

Oh. Isn't it a little early in the morning for Lakmé, Carlo?

Not for a singer of your ability.

Whenever you're ready, Mr McMoon.

No. No, uh, no.

A little more allegretto, please, if you don't mind, Mr McMoon.


Raise the soft palate.


Use the air.

On the breath.

Project forward.


♪ Où va la jeune Indoue

- ♪ Fille des Parias Think of the mask, Florence.

♪ Quand la lune se joue La squillo.

♪ Dans les grands mimosas The voice is in the mask.

♪ Quand la lune se joue

♪ Dans les grands mimosas

♪ Le long des lauriers roses Yes.

- ♪ Rêvant de douces choses Yes, yes.

♪ Elle passe sans bruit

♪ Et riant à la nuit

Stop there.

There's work to be done.

But you've never sounded better.


Hear, hear.

Maestro, it is true that a lot of singers my age are on the decline, but I seem to just get better and better.

I know. It's hard to believe, isn't it?

Well, I am so blessed.

There is no one quite like you.


I thought you were off score.

Did you enjoy the class? Very much so.

Yes, she's remarkable, isn't she? She is.

I thought you played very nicely.

Thank you.

Good. Same time tomorrow, then.

Yes. Yeah.

Goodbye. Bye.

Oh! Oh, sorry.

Excuse me.

Morning. Morning, Mr Bayfield.

Find a breath, Florence.

Afternoon, Mr Bayfield.



Lean into it.

Expand your diaphragm, Florence.

Breathe. Breathe, Florence.




♪ Faint melodies bring back old days Soar like a bird.

♪ Faintly the old music box plays Wonderful.

One word. Authenticity.

Maestro, do you think I'm ready... for a concert?

You'll never be more ready.

You have been absent from the stage for far too long, Bunny.

Mr McMoon? Do you think I'm ready?


And perhaps I shall perform a monologue.

Or not. Or not.

I shall start to make arrangements.

Obviously I'll do my utmost to attend the concert, but I'll be away in Florida at some point.

Oh, right. When?

Let me know when you've fixed a date.

One other thing.

Since I've been working so intensively with Florence, I've rather neglected my other students.

It might be best if we were discreet about these classes.

I'd be mortified if Madam Florence become the focus of any envy.

Well, thank you so very, very much.

Oh, she spoils me.

But then she spoils us all.

Doesn't she?

Enjoy Florida. I will.

Mr McMoon.

Could we speak, Mr Bayfield? Yes, of course. What is it?

Well, uh, I thought I was being hired to accompany Madam Florence's lessons.


I'll be honest with you, Mr Bayfield, I think Madam Florence might need a little more preparation before she sings in public.

We've been rehearsing for a month. Well, I know.

But from time to time, she can be a little...

Hmm? ..flat.

Flat? A tad. Well, just a tad.

Carlo Edwards didn't mention any flatness, and he is the leading vocal coach in the city.

Jeez, Mr Bayfield, we can't be talking about the same singer.

I mean, her vocal cords, they don't phonate freely.

Her phrasing is haphazard.

As for her subglottal pressure... it defies medical science.

Is her instrument quite what it was? Perhaps not.

But as Beethoven said, a few wrong notes may be forgiven, but singing without feeling cannot.

Mr Bayfield, is there any way I could do the lessons but not the concerts?

No, I'm afraid not. But I have my reputation to think of.

Oh, really? And what reputation is that?

If you want to go back to playing for tips in a steakhouse, be my guest.

Oh, Cosmé, Florence is very fond of you, she's paying you well and she knows, well, she knows everyone.

But, Mr Bayfield...

And she has sung in dozens of sell-out concerts.

She has a magnetism that her followers adore.

I understand that, but what if less educated members of the public show up?

No, you're right, we must exclude the hoodlum element and ensure that only true music lovers gain entry.

These events take all kinds of careful preparation.

So, five down and two to go.

And have you attended one of Madam Florence's concerts before?

No, but I heard all about her.

Well, I'm afraid we're giving priority to Verdi Club members at the moment.

But I came all the way from Brooklyn.

I'm so sorry. Next, please.

Not a music lover.

You take over. Two dollars a pop.

Mr Stark, how very nice.

That's Mr Bayfield.

Yes, thank you for calling back. The poster.

"President and founder, Florence Foster Jenkins", that should be larger, 28 point.

If asked, your favourite composers are Mozart, Verdi and Beethoven.

Phineas, try to get this through your fat head.

I am not interested in your bullshit music club, OK?

Agnes, please.

My God.

June 4th, Saturday night at 8pm. Oh, I do so hope you can be there.

Well, unfortunately we are rehearsing.

Oh, on Saturday night? Well, we rehearse all the time.

Oh, my God. It's Toscanini, the conductor.

Hmm, I thought it was Toscanini, the anchovy paste salesman. Huh?

Finally, the line below that should read:

"Directed by St Clair Bayfield, eminent actor and monologist."

"Eminent", yes.

Kisses for Mommy.

Kiss monster.

Thank you, Mr Lipshitz. Thank you very much.

St Clair, who is that vulgar woman?

The new Mrs Stark, I imagine. What happened to the last one?

Who is that man, anyway? Phineas?

Hmm. He sells meat in cans.

Very wealthy. Very generous. Oh.

I understand Agnes isn't a member.

She's new to the world of classical music.

But she's very keen to learn.

Well, in that case, I think we can make an exception.

Four dollars, please. Thank you so much.

A whole world of pleasure awaits you, Mrs Stark.

Well, you can never have too much pleasure.


Oh, right.

So, that is two tickets for the Levis and a dollar change.

Thank you. Now, then.

Oh, Mr Bayfield. I am so excited.

Well, we all are. I have put you in row E, Mrs Vanderbilt.

E for elegance. Four dollars if I may.

Excuse me. Thank you.

They're getting through the potato salad like gannets. Is there any more?

Let me check.

How's it going, Kitty? Are we running low?

I think we should be fine, Mr Bayfield.

Very good. I'll take that. Thank you, Mr Bayfield.

There's an Earl Wilson here.

Send him in. Thank you, Kitty.

Through there.

Earl Wilson of the New York Post. How do you do, Mr Bayfield?

How do you do? I read your column. It's great fun.

Thank you. What brings you here?

I was hoping I could get a ticket for the concert.

Oh, well, I'm afraid we're all sold out.

Oh? Carlton Smith from the Musical Courier has got one.

So has Stubbs from World Bugle.

I'm not sure it's an event that would interest the readers of the New York Post.

My editor would disagree. There's quite a buzz around town about it.

He sent me down here himself.

So, can I get that ticket?

Why not?

Thank you.


I just need the ticket.

It's both or neither, Mr Wilson.

Then I'll trouble you no more.

Good evening. Good evening.


Darling. Augustus is here.

Ah, what a surprise.

How are you, Augustus? Couldn't be better.

I hear your play was a triumph.

I am a second-rate playwright and we all know that.

But I'm a first-rate friend, the latter outweighing the former, I feel.

With knobs on.

So, is it really true? What's that?

Madam Florence is taking to the stage once more?

Yes. Ah, it's been too long.

How much are tickets? I'm afraid we've already sold out.

You can't be sold out. I'm so sorry.

St Clair, don't be a silly arse. Yes, don't be a silly arse, St Clair.

The concert is for true music lovers, not mockers and scoffers like you and your artistic friends.

When have I ever mocked or scoffed?

The lady is an eloquent lesson in fidelity and courage, and that's why we love her.

Please, St Clair. Do you want to see a grown man cry?

Be a sport, darling, and I'll make it up to you.

No, I'm sorry. Please.

No. Non. Nyet.

Tickets, please.

Thank you. Tickets, please.

You're very lucky to be here.

You've made promises and I'm holding you to them.

I've brought some friends. Music lovers.

We'll see. I'm watching them carefully.

Carlton Smith. And Mr Stubbs.

We're greatly honoured. I hope you enjoy the evening.

We will, St Clair. Fingers crossed.

Tell the ushers that absolutely no one gets in without a ticket. No exceptions.

And if Earl Wilson turns up from the Post, they politely show him the door.

Mr and Mrs Stark. How very nice.

Will you forgive me? I have an important nose to powder.

This is beautiful, isn't it?

Oh, God.

All set? I guess.

They are going to adore you. You have my word.

Too many? Too many feathers you think?

The perfect number of feathers. Restrained and elegant.

I'm so nervous, Whitey. Oh, don't be.

Are you nervous, Mr McMoon? Somewhat.

You have a full and very warm house and you are both going to be sensational.


Hm-hm. Yes.

Break a leg.

House lights, please.

This is what we live for, isn't it?

This moment.

Oh, my God.

♪ O noble sir How far you err

♪ You're really not discreet

♪ Therefore my advice is that you look twice

♪ When judging those you meet

♪ My little white hands are fine

♪ Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha!

♪ My foot with its contour divine

♪ Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha!

♪ My speech so disarming

♪ My waistline so slim and charming

♪ No lady's maid could be full of so much grace, you see

♪ No lady's maid could be full of so much grace, you see

♪ Now you must own to your mistake

♪ Your blunder almost takes the cake

♪ Oh, how funny

♪ Ah, ha, ha!

- ♪ You amuse me For God's sake, woman, keep quiet.

♪ If I laugh so! Ah, ha, ha

♪ Pray excuse me

- ♪ Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha! Quiet. Shh!

♪ Ah, ha, ha! You amuse me

♪ Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha!

Be quiet.

Is she unwell, Mr Stark? A coughing fit.

She needs fresh air. This way, Mrs Stark.

♪ So look through your glasses and see...

- ♪ Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha! That's it. Shh.

- ♪ My costume, my air of grandee Control yourself, Agnes.

♪ Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha!

♪ Your love is short-sighted

- ♪ Alas, you're benighted Shh!

I am so sorry, Mr Bayfield. Not at all, not at all.

I wish you a speedy recovery, Mrs Stark.

She is the worst goddamn singer in the entire world!

Honey, must you always embarrass me?

♪ You seem to see her everywhere

♪ It's very droll, I do declare

♪ Oh how funny! Ah, ha, ha!

♪ You amuse me! Ah, ha, ha!

♪ Should I laugh so! Ah, ha, ha

♪ Pray excuse me! Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

♪ Oh how funny! Ah, ha, ha!

♪ You amuse me! Ah, ha, ha!

♪ Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha

♪ Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

♪ Ha! Ha!

♪ Ha, ha, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah!

♪ Ha, ah, ha, ha, ha, ha!

♪ Ha!

♪ Ha, ha, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah

♪ Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah

♪ Ha, ha

♪ Ha, ha!

Bravo, Madam Florence! Bravo!

Bravo! Encore!




Bravo, Madam Florence! Alright, sit down.

St Clair, congratulations. What a wonderful evening.

Thank you, madam. Oh, Mr Bayfield.

I don't hear very well, but I just think Madam Florence is magical.

Well, I know how very grateful she is for your friendship and your support.

That little McMoon. I'm so very sorry. Just one moment.

What a find. St Clair, a delightful evening.

The Donohughes, how nice to see you. Mr and Mrs Wallace.

It was spectacular.

Darling, the Fledermaus was thrilling. You were magnificent.

Absolutely thrilling. Is everything alright?

I don't... I don't feel very well, Whitey.

Let's get you home.

Dr Hertz is in Washington, but he sent his colleague Dr Hermann.

If I may, please.

I didn't have time to look at your medical notes.

The scarring is from syphilis.

When did you contract the disease?

On my wedding night.

My first husband, Dr Frank Thornton Jenkins.

Something of an alley cat.

How old were you? 18.

Where did the chancre first appear? It was on my left hand, right here.

Are you taking any medication? Just mercury and arsenic, of course.

Any other symptoms? No.

She has seizures from time to time, when she has overexerted herself.

I see.

Well, there is a murmur and some palpitations but no indication the disease is entering the tertiary phase.

The two and a half hours of coloratura you performed this evening might account for the tiredness.

Bed rest until your strength returns.

I'll speak to Dr Hertz and let him know.

Thank you, Doctor.

Thank you.

I've known patients survive 20 years with syphilis but never nearly 50.

I'm amazed. What is her secret?

Music. She lives for music.

And no doubt your love has proved to be a panacea too.

We were fortunate to have found each other.

Clearly. I don't mean to pry, Mr Bayfield, but how is your own health?

Florence and I have always abstained.

Very wise.

I have several patients who observe the five-year rule, but it's no sure prophylactic.

Well, from the start, Florence felt that my health was paramount.

Excitement stimulates the disease. She needs rest, Mr Bayfield.


Rest, my love.

I can't help wondering what my life would have been like if I'd never met Frank Jenkins.

Well, he's in his grave now. Forget him.

But I could've... could've given you a child.

We could've been a family.

We are a family.

A great and devoted family. United by our love of music.

Are we not happy?


Shut your eyes. I'll recite for you.

Bright star!...

...would I... were steadfast as thou art -

Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night, And watching, with eternal lids apart, Like Nature's patient, sleep... I think I'll read.

Well, goodnight, my love. Night-night.

"..recital at the Ritz-Carlton."

"And the consensus was that she'd never sung better."

"Her grace and brilliant personality only added to the remarkable quality of her voice."

"By the end of her performance, the stage was a bower of blooms and Madam Jenkins retired to affectionate applause."

Make that "thunderous applause".


Oh, everybody, look who's here!

Bravo! Bravo!


Um... Oh, you don't mind?

I invited the showgirl. She is simply adorable.

Darling, the concert was wonderful. How is Florence?

She's absolutely...

Well, I couldn't not invite him. Would you like a drink?

In a minute. Oh.

Hey, how about one more?

Cosmé. Good evening, Mr Bayfield.


No, thank you. I hope you don't mind me being here.

Your friend Kathleen was most insistent that I stop by.

Really? Well, you're very welcome. You have a drink?


Maybe I should get home. No, no, no.

You stay where you are. This is all a little awkward.

I mean, I... thought you and Madam Florence were married.

We are.

But you live here with Kathleen.

Is she... your sister?

No, she's my girlfriend. Oh.

It's a little complicated. Yes, it is.

But, Cosmé, you have nothing to worry about.

Florence and I have an understanding.

Madam Florence... she knows about Kathleen?

Well, she understands that love takes many forms.


Believe me, there's no shortage of love between any of us.

Surely you can see I'm devoted to Florence.

Our marriage is a thing of the spirit.

It transcends this realm. It's...


Yes. I'm very fond of you, Cosmé.

I think of you as a chum.

Oh! That's kind of you, Mr Bayfield.


Seeing as we're talking in a familiar fashion, could I possibly ask what it is Madam Florence carries in that briefcase?

No. No?

Now, what do you say we grab ourselves a couple of Manhattans and go and join the hepcats?


Come on.

Good evening. Hello.



Mr Corbin's friends are all so personable.

Yes, I bet.

Here we are. To a friendship.

In one. Go.

Hey, Mr Bayfield, I wanna see you dance.

No, no, no, no, no. My dancing days are done.

Dance, St Clair, dance. I wanna see you dance.

No, I really... No. No. Come on!





St Clair? Are you there?

St Clair! Wake up!

♪ I've got something I want to show you!

St Clair, are you in there?

Oh, golly.

Mr Bayfield, wake up. Mr... Madam Florence is here.

What? That's her at the door.

I can hear you in there.

Wake up, wake up, wake up. Wake up!

What's the matter? It's Florence, she's here. Stall her.

What? Stall her, stall her.

Get out of bed. Out of bed. Up. What?

St Clair, are you there?

Um, just a moment, Madam Florence.

Who is that? It's me, Mr McMoon. How are you?

Mr McMoon? What are you doing here?

Open the door at once!

Goodness me.


Oh! Where... Where is Mr Bay... field?

Oh, my hat!

St Clair! Madam Florence, please, please...

Whitey? Bunny. How very, very nice.

I was just reading a little early Austen. Quite fun.

May I offer you some tea?

What is going on? Why is Mr McMoon here?

He lost his house key, so I put him up for the night.

Oh. But what about the mess?

There's a mess? Oh!

Good God.

When I said "help yourself to a nightcap", I meant one.

Just look at the place!

Look what he's done, Bunny. Aren't you going to chastise him?

Well, I... I am very disappointed in you, Mr McMoon.

I do not approve of drinking. What got into you?

I'm very sorry.

Never again, Mr McMoon. You understand?

Reviews. What? Oh!

What do they say? They're simply marvellous.

Come, come, come. That's what I... I wanted to... Look.

Page seven. Here, here, down below.

Oh, da, da, da, da, da da...

"And the consensus was that she'd never sung better."

"Her grace and brilliant personality only added to the remarkable quality of her voice."

"By the end of her performance, the stage was a...

...bower of blooms and Madam Jenkins retired to thunderous applause."

Bravo, Bunny. Bravo! Bravissima!

Oh, shh.

And I've had a simply darling idea for the Christmas gift for the members.

We're booked for eleven o'clock... Booked for?

It's a surprise. Ooh.

So continue your ablutions, quickly. Got a cab waiting downstairs.

And bring McMoon with you. I've been looking for him all morning.

I shall. Just hurry.

Yes, yes. There in a demisemiquaver.

She's gone.

This is just ridiculous. I am very, very sorry.

I shouldn't have to hide in my own home. It's humiliating. And there are rules.

I think she was just overexcited. Well, you are to speak to her.

Yes, that's a very good idea.

I shall say, "Florence, although you pay the rent on my apartment, would you mind not visiting?" Oh, shut up.

I won't go on living like this. Do you understand?

What am I doing here?

I'm willing to share you, St Clair, but... I need some dignity.

Of course, of course, of course.

I'm so sorry.

I'll make sure it doesn't happen again. I don't know how.

Why don't we go away for a few days, yes? Golf? Hamptons?

Good idea?


There you go.

Oh, good Lord.

Here we are! Oh!

Here... We're going to make a recording.

And give a copy to the members for Christmas.

I'm so excited! It's a wonderful idea, Bunny.

But Dr Hermann was very, very specific about excitement.

Oh, phooey. So I think it'd...

Come along. Come on.

Come on, come on, come on.

♪ Like a bird on the wing

♪ Like a bird

♪ Like a bird

♪ Like a bird

Bravo! It was wonderful, Bunny.

Oh! Flipping hell!

Kathleen, try this one. I did suggest it earlier.

It's a little shorter and a little easier.

Yes, I like this one, darling. And slightly to the left.

And swing as though it's through molasses.

Oh, yes!


You're listening to "The Firestone Hour" with me, Richard Crooks, on the NBC Radio Network.

We have a caller on line one, Mrs Edna Hoffman of New Jersey.

Go ahead, Edna.

Mr Crooks, would you play Brahms's "Lullaby"?

I'd love to. For anyone in particular?

My son Samuel. He's a flight navigator. He's missing in action over Germany.

Oh, my. - Our hearts go out to you today, Edna.

And we'll all be thinking of Samuel.

Jimmy, I'd like you to have this hand-delivered for me.

And I'm gonna grab one of these cabs. Sure.

Hey, McMoon, you got a visitor!


Thank you very much. I hope I'm not disturbing you, Mr McMoon.

Oh! Madam Florence.

I was out and about and I suddenly realised I was in your neighbourhood.

What a happy coincidence. Indeed.

Is Mr Bayfield with you? No.

May I come in? Sure.

I've brought you our recording.

Gee. Thank you, Madam Florence.

You're very welcome.

You haven't done your dishes, Mr McMoon.

Would you like me to do them for you?

No, you don't need to do that, Madam Florence.

Well, they'll not wash themselves, will they? I'll make you a deal.

I'll wash your dishes if you play something for me.

How about that?

Madam Florence, I can... Do we have a deal, Mr McMoon?

What shall I play?

Anything you like.

That's such a pretty melody.

Is it yours?

Yes. Oh.

You inspire me. I shall write some lyrics for you.

Oh, wonderful.

♪ There's a bird in the... in the trees Madam Florence, do you mind if I ask how you met Mr Bayfield?

Oh, well...

I was performing in a musicale at the Waldorf, 1919.

And I was wearing a violet velvet gown.

I looked out at the audience and I saw a man with the most beautiful smile I'd ever seen.

He had an aristocratic bearing and that was that.

Of course, his grandfather was an earl, you know.

Doesn't that make him an earl too?

Well, he wasn't on the legitimate line.

Nothing for him in England.

So he came here and became an actor.

He wasn't always successful. Had to hide the reviews occasionally.

You play so beautifully, Mr McMoon. Ah!

You know, I played for the president, when I was eight years old.

Really? Yes, I played at the White House.

Really? Little Miss Foster, they called me.

And I had very high hopes of becoming a concert pianist mys...

But then when the nerves were damaged in my left hand, that was not to be.

That's too bad. What happened to your hand?

Oh, it was just a...


I'm s... I'm sorry.

I'm a silly woman. No.

Would you like a glass of water?

When Mr Bayfield is away playing golf, the days can seem awfully long.

I understand that he needs his... sport.

But I miss him. I...

I miss him terribly.

He'll be back soon. Hmm.

Madam Florence,... he's devoted to you.

He told me so.



Are you OK?

Well, it's just the change in temperature, you know.

It can be very painful, so... Oh.

Do you know the Prelude in E minor? Chopin?


Oh, gosh.

That one? Hmm.

That's it.

Drink? Rather.

Let me just take your bags, madam.

And may I say what lovely legs you have, madam.

♪ I am singing

♪ Like a bird on the wing

♪ Like a bird St Clair, come in here. Yeah, one moment.

- ♪ Like a bird St Clair!


♪ Like a bird

How did she get on the radio?

That was Florence Foster Jenkins singing "Like A Bird" by Cosmé McMoon.

We're getting quite a few calls on that one.

We have Ed calling from the military hospital...

How did Richard Crooks get... - Ed, you're on the air.

Mr Crooks, the guys here, we all love that record.

I lost my left leg and half my face at Guadalcanal, but that dame's got me feeling happy to be alive.

Could you play it again? And please tell us where we could find her record.

I don't think it's for sale. It's a private recording.

Oh, thank goodness you're here, Mr Bayfield.

Things have been going crazy.

It's difficult when you're away.

Yes, I'm very sorry, Kitty. Tell me this.

How did Richard Crooks get the record? She gave it to him.

He's been playing it all weekend.

The phone's been ringing off the hook with people wanting a copy.

Cole Porter called.

It put Madam Florence into one of her excited moods.

I'll talk to her.

She's not here. She's at a meeting.

With? Mr Totten.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

A-ha. Ah, Mr Bayfield, how good to see you.

And you, Mr Totten. Is Madam Florence here?

She's in the hall. Ah. Thank you.

You have a moment? Yes, in a jiffy.

Do I see a pair of rabbit ears?

Oh, Whitey. Bunny.

How was the golf?

It was nice enough, thank you.


This is my favourite place in the whole world.


And I'm going to sing here.

Uh-huh? I've booked the hall.

For October 25th.

And I'm going to give a thousand tickets away to the soldiers, because we must support our boys.


I applaud your courage. And...

And no one would enjoy seeing you triumph here more than I, obviously.

But this place is just... it's so big, you know.

It's nearly a thousand, three thousand people.

Well, Lily Pons's voice filled it. She's just a little bird.

Yes, but she's a young woman with a young woman's strength and... and perfect technique, and it's... it's...

My technique isn't perfect? No, it is, it is, it is, but I...

I just think this might be too much for you.

Well, if Mr Churchill had adopted that attitude, why, Herr Hitler would be standing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace howling like a Doberman as we speak.

You're not strong enough, Bunny.

What if it... kills you?

Oh, then I shall die happy.

Death has been my constant companion for almost 50 years.

I've lived day to day never knowing if my body, if it'll succumb and my... my... my... my reason desert me.

But I've fought and I've fought and I've fought.

And I'm still here.

And I'm going to sing here.

But have I not stood by you?

If you truly love me...

...you'll let me sing here.

It was a lovely weekend.

It was, it was, it was. We must... We must do it again.

Yes, we must.

Darling, please don't look so out of sorts.


She might change her mind, you know. No, I very much doubt that.

Well, let's just try and be happy tonight, eh?

And I'm trying. Yes, you certainly are.

You see, I just feel that if we had not gone away, none of this would have ever happened. It's completely my fault, so...

Hey, guys, you're not gonna believe this. You gotta hear this.

Play it, guys. Guys, wait till you hear this.

Oh, my God!

It's Florence. They've got her record.

Scum. Darling, ignore them.

I will not ignore them. This is our night out, St Clair.

So you think I should just sit here and have a jolly drink with you while human vermin laughs at my wife?

Is that what you think?

You will sit down or, so help me God, I will leave you. Do you understand?

Excuse me, excuse me. You have absolutely no right to this.

This is a private recording! That's our record!

It is not yours!

Take your filthy philistine hands off me.

Give it to me or I will call the police. Give it to me now.

You dropped your mouchoir, Mr Fancy-Pants.

Beat it, you hefty old sap.

Kathleen! Wait!

I cannot play Carnegie Hall with Madam Florence.

Maybe you could speak to Mr Totten, tell him it's not such a great idea.

Surely he'd understand. It's too late.

She's given a thousand tickets to the War Veterans Association.

Well, I...

What did Kathleen say?


...has left me.


Jeez, I'm so sorry. That's awful.

Please, Cosmé, will you do it?

Mr Bayfield, I am a serious pianist.

I have ambition. I...

Oh, you think that I didn't have ambition? I was a good actor.

But I was never going to be a great actor.

It was very, very hard to admit that to myself.

But once I had, I felt free from the tyranny of ambition.

I started to live.

Is ours not a happy world, Cosmé? Do we not have fun?

Please, Mr Bayfield.

You see, we have to help her because without loyalty, there's nothing.

We'll be murdered out there! You think that I'm not aware of that?

For 25 years, I have kept the mockers and scoffers at bay.

I'm very well aware of what they might do.

But Florence has been my life.

I love her and...

I think you love her too.


Singing at Carnegie Hall is her dream.

And I'm going to give it to her.

The only question now is whether you will stand by your patron and friend in her hour of need, or whether you will focus on your ambition.

Please, Cosmé.

Will you play for your friend?


Thank you.

Oh, golly. Oh, golly gosh.

Come on, you're gonna play at Carnegie Hall.

How many people can say that? Oh, boy, we're gonna die out there.

Hey, Tallulah, up here!

It's Cole Porter. And Tallulah Bankhead.

Tallulah! Up here! We love you!

Miss Bankhead, Mr Porter. What an honour.

Hi. Tallulah!

Don't let anyone in who's drunk.

They're all drunk. Me included.

From the diaphragm, Bunny.

And again, lower. From the diaphragm, Bunny.

Ha. Blow the candles out. Ha!

Ha! Hate the candles.

Ha! I don't have...

Where is Cosmé? He will be here.

He's very, very, very late. Bunny, you must relax.

What if he's dead? He has never been late.

Oh, here he is. Oh, my goodness me.

Oh, Colonel.

Could I speak to Madam Florence for a moment?

Of course. Please.

Bunny, it's the colonel. Yes.

Ah, Colonel. I hope the house is warming up nicely.

It sure is, Madam Florence. I'm not surprised. You're the talk of the town.

She sold out faster than Sinatra. I don't doubt it.

On behalf of the Marine Corps, I just wanted to say thank you so much for the free tickets.

The boys are very grateful.

Given the sacrifices you have made, it's the very least I can do.

Some things are worth dying for.

Hmm. You take the words right out of my mouth.

Colonel, you'll forgive me. I must prepare.

Of course. Break a leg. Thank you so much.

Oh. That's what you say, isn't it?

Yes. Yes, of course. I'll try.

Thank you, Colonel. Thank you. Those were kind words.

Now, we are ten minutes away from going on stage.

Bunny, you must relax. Where is he? Where is Cosmé?




Don't look at him! Look at me, Tallulah!

Whoa, yeah, baby!

Somewhere I'm sure...

Are we supposed to be here?

Where is that silly, silly boy?

I don't have an answer, Bunny. I wish I did.

We know the traffic is terrible and I'm sure he'll be here any moment.

Here! My briefcase. I want you to keep it close.

Half the audience is drunk. You were told about the soldiers.

What did you expect? But this is Carnegie Hall.

You took the money, though, I notice. Listen! They're hoodlums.

Hoodlums! Hoodlums as you call them, Mr Totten, who have been risking their lives for our country and I would be grateful if you show them the respect they deserve.

Madam Florence, they're tearing the place apart. You must go on.

My pianist hasn't shown. Then you will have to sing a cappella.

Cosmé! Where have you been?

I got jumped by a bunch of sailors. They were most disrespectful.

Let's straighten you up. Five minutes, please, Mr Totten.

Not a second longer. Please. Shh!

On the left, babes. Left? You know I like the right side.


Oh, for God's sake, Agnes. Hello, honey.

Would you look at that! Cover yourself up!

Marry me, blondie! Over here! Here!

Oh, nuts. Give me some fries with that shake!

Oh, baby!

Oh, baby!

What? Behave yourself.

Alright, alright.

You've seen everything you're gonna see. Sit down.

Oh, God, what a grouch.

Read your programme. Hey.

Read your programme. Yeah, alright.

Well, it's quite a house, Bunny.

I spy Cole Porter in the front row no less.

Cole Porter?

Tallulah Bankhead is here. Oh, my hat.

What have I done? I can't do it, Whitey.

I can't go on that stage. Oh! Sit.

I can't. I've made a terrible mistake. Sit.

She has to go on. A moment, please, Mr Totten.

No, no, no! Thank you. Goodbye.

Listen to me, Bunny. Listen. Those men out there, they've seen horrors.

Their bodies have been smashed, their minds torn to shreds.

They need joy. They need... music.

You can heal them, Bunny. That is your purpose. Believe it.


But I'm afraid. Don't be. Don't be.

They're going to love you.

You'll be great, Madam Florence.

We can do it.


Jenny. May I have my briefcase? Thank you.

And a pen, anyone?

Madam Florence, you must go on now.

I'm adding a codicil to my will.

Because I would like you to have a little something when I die, Cosmé.

Thank you, Madam Florence.

Mr Totten, would you mind witnessing right here?

Right here.

Oh, thank you very much. Not at all. Now will you please go on?



House lights down, please, Mr Totten.

Now, then, Little Miss Foster, make me proud.


Go ahead, go ahead.

♪ Valse caressante

♪ Verse anciente

♪ Calls up the joys of les nuits d'antan

♪ Song that sings in my ear when I'm in your arms

Good work, Mr Bayfield.

Get her off! Somebody call the cops!

Stop singing!

Wait, wait, wait.

It's a joke!

Get off! You're garbage!

Hey. Hey!

Give the dame a break! She's singing her heart out.

Yeah, and her heart sounds like a dyin' cat!

A cat dyin'? Hey, she can't sing!

You kiss your mother with that mouth? Sit your ass down. Shame on you!

Shame on all of you! You better cheer, assholes.

Cheer! Cheer! Bravo! Yeah, come on.

Bravo, Madam Florence! Bravo!

Clap. Clap!

Get up on your feet. Bravo! Come on!


Sing, Madam Florence!

You're beautiful. Enough.

I love you. Sing!

Bravo! Bravo!

Sing! Sing! Sing! Sing!

Sing! Sing, Madam Florence, sing!

Sing! Sing, Florence!

Sing, Bunny, sing!

♪ Valse caressante

♪ Verse anciente

♪ Calls up the joys of les nuits d'antan

♪ Song we sang on the night when I'm in your arms

♪ Air that captured my ear that will ever charm

♪ Melodies She's worse than my mother. - ♪ On the breeze

♪ Bring back sweet old memories

♪ Valse caressante

♪ Verse charmante

♪ How the music we used to know

♪ Brings back the memories of long ago

Mr Wilson, are you leaving already? Here you are, sir.

She's only just started. I've heard enough. Thank you.

Oh, she just needed a little warming up, that's all. Listen to her.

And your coat, sir.

I have never seen such a pathetic, vainglorious display of egotism in my life.

That you encouraged Mrs Jenkins to make a spectacle of herself is quite simply unforgivable.

Will you be writing something? Yes, and it will be the truth.

Isn't the truth that a lot of hurt people are having some fun?

Did you not notice? Music is important.

It should not be mocked. How dare you?

She has done more for the musical life of this city than anyone.

And that includes you. Do you mind?

You're nothing but a jumped-up hack.

Name your price, Wilson. What is it? 100? Is it 200?

$300, that's my final offer. You're insane.


Listen! Listen to them, hack!

♪ Figlia mia non è

♪ Figlia mia non è

♪ Figlia mia non è

♪ Figlia mia non è

♪ Ciel!

♪ Ciel!

♪ L'orren do mio voto

♪ Ah! Ascolta, o ciel


Congratulations, Madam Florence. Oh, thank you, Kitty.

The phone hasn't stopped ringing. Oh, hasn't it?

Now, you are pooped, Bunny. Straight to bed or I shall be very, very cross.

Oh, yes, alright.

Well, Mr McMoon, we did it.

We did it.

And goodnight. Goodnight.

And you'll come kiss me goodnight? Of course I will, yes.


Oh! I played Carnegie Hall.


God darn it, Mr Bayfield, Cosmé McMoon from San Antonio, Texas, played Carnegie Hall.

And he was brilliant. Utterly, utterly brilliant.

We did it. Yes, I think we did.

Mud in your eye.

Thank you, Mr Bayfield. Hmm?

Thank you for everything.

Oh, no, don't thank me.

No, I... I had the night of my life.

Down in one. Go!

Kitty. Would you mind bringing a blanket?

Mr McMoon is staying the night. Of course.

Madam Florence is already asleep.


Oh, good, good. I'll get on, then. Goodnight, Mr Bayfield.

Kitty said you were asleep.


You will buy the papers in the morning, won't you?

Yes, of course, of course.

Stay the night.

I love you so, St Clair.

I love you, my bunny rabbit.

Hey, Georgie boy, catch! Wahey!

Wake up. Wake up.


The Post, please. Thank you.

Oh, God.

She must never see this. I'd like every copy of the Post that you have, please.

But I got regular customers. I'm sure they'll manage.

I think so too.

I'd also like the Bugle, the News and the Correspondent.

Thank you, sir. Thank you.

"Madam Jenkins's performance conquers Carnegie Hall."

Oh, my hat!

"Only the night before at Carnegie Hall, Sinatra entertained 3,000 of his bobbysox followers."

The piece was spiteful, vicious and wholly inaccurate and it has caused a great deal of upset.

Do I need to remind you that Madam Florence is a very close personal friend of Arturo Toscanini's?

It would be such a pity if the Post were excluded from Carnegie Hall.

Thank you for your understanding, Mr Thackrey. Thank you so much.

Thank you.

I bought up every copy of the Post within two blocks.

Well done, and I very much doubt that the piece will be in the afternoon edition, so... a few more hours and we're in the clear.

St Clair!

"Madam Jenkins wore a series of extraordinary costumes of great elegance and beauty."

Whitey, Whitey. Read the thing about the simultaneous something.

"Even their simultaneous reflexes... Sinatra fans.

...were as nothing compared to the applause and community spirit afforded Madam Jenkins."

Oh, bravo, Bunny. And all the reviews are just terrific.

But no Post?

I don't think they covered the concert.

Oh, the Post always covers Carnegie Hall.

Well, then, I shall find a copy.

Now, are you sure you should be getting up? You must be so tired.

The baroness and some of the others are gathering for lunch downstairs.

I'm going to join them.

Now, Florence, that's really not a good idea.

What on earth is the matter with you today?

Well, after the first half, I was pooped.

Oh! Well...

Your voice was as fresh as the morning dew till the very last, Florence.

Hear, hear.

I don't remember such a wonderful night.

And, you know, people were fighting for tickets outside.

Why, I was offered $20 for mine. What?

That's a great deal of money. I know the reason why.

Excuse me.

What was the high point of the evening for you, Mr Bayfield?

I'm sorry, Baroness, what did you say?

What was the high point of the evening for you?

Well, there were so many.

No, it was your Queen of the Night aria, Florence.

Oh, yes. Yes.

It's an emergency. My boss has no paper this morning.

I'm sorry, this one's mine. But...

No, you can't have it.

Excuse me, ladies.

Mr McMoon, has he got a sweetheart? I really don't know.

I realise this is absurd, but is there any way we could persuade you to part with your newspaper?

Well, no, you couldn't. This one's mine.

How much?

What is going on? I'm not taking your money.

50 bucks?

Well, if you insist. Thank you so very much.

It's very, very nice of you. Get rid of it.

Anyway, she's old enough to be his aunt.

I don't know. I really don't know.

Where's Florence? She's gone to powder her nose.

A-ha. Thank you.

She's gone to powder her nose, Mr Bayfield.

Oh, quite. Quite.

Silly of me. My great niece isn't married.

You mean the podiatrist? What, with the lovely hands?

Madam Florence? It's you! Oh!

We saw your show at Carnegie Hall last night.

It was wonderful. Thank you. Thank you very much.

We've never laughed so hard. My ribs are still aching.

You have an enormous comic talent, Mrs Foster Jenkins.

It was so funny.

Oh, thank you very much. Um... Um...

I must be on... Good afternoon to you.

And don't pay any attention to that review.

That hack knows absolutely nothing.

Well, my second cousin twice removed has been married twice before and both times it was a complete disaster.

But you're not putting her forward.

Is everything alright, Mr Bayfield?

I think I just need a little air. Excuse me, ladies.

The Post, please. Oh, sorry, lady, all sold out.

Already? How come? You won't believe it.

This guy comes by this morning, takes all the copies I got.

An Englishman.

What did he look like?

Oh, tall. You know, your gentleman type.

Why did he buy all of them? I don't know.

20 bucks he gives me. Then he dumps them in the trash.

708, please.

Watch where you're going!

Oh. Sir! Sir!

Madam, are you alright?

Bunny. Bunny.

Bunny, it's me, it's Whitey. Get a doctor. Quickly. Quickly.

My darling, it's me. It's me.

It's me, my precious. I'm going to turn you over.

Speak to me, Bunny. Please.

Please, my darling.

Where's the doctor?



It's me.


I'm here. Can you hear me?

No, no.

No, shh, shh. Shh, shh. Shush, my love. Shh, shh.

Shh, shh. Shh, shh.

Rest, my beautiful. Rest.

Was everyone laughing at me the whole time?

I was never laughing at you.

Yours is the truest voice I have ever heard.

- ♪ When I have sung my songs Listen...

♪ To you

♪ I'll sing no more...


♪ 'Twould be a sacrilege to sing

♪ At another door

♪ We've worked so hard

♪ To hold our dreams...

I love you, my bunny.

♪ Just you and I

♪ I could not share them all again

♪ I'd rather die

♪ With just the thought

♪ That I had loved so well...

The audience, they were applauding.

And cheering.

♪ That I could never sing again

♪ No, I could never

♪ Never sing again

♪ Except

♪ To you

People may say I couldn't sing, but no one can say I didn't sing.

Bravo, my love.


♪ Like a bird

♪ Like a bird

Do you wanna try another take? Well, I don't see why.

That seemed perfect to me.

♪ Faint melodies bring back old days

♪ Faintly the old music box plays

♪ Lords and ladies to and fro

♪ By candlelight in stately dance

♪ Now turn with coy and smiling glance

♪ Now glide, now curtsy low