Hollywood Story (1951) Script

A deserted motion picture studio, a shot, and a corpse, the year 1929.

Little did I realize 21 years later, this unsolved murder would become part of my life.

Oh, oh, before I forget, that's me Mitch Davis.

I'm an agent and that's my son.

Everything was progressing normally that morning and I was happy as a lark as I drove to the airport to pick Larry O'Brien.

This was his first trip to California after a very successful picture making career in New York.

Larry and I went to school together and after graduation we went our separate ways, but eventually we both wound up in the picture business, Larry as a producer and me an agent for movie talent.

As I waited for Larry, I couldn't help but think how successful a producer he had become.

But that was no surprise to me.

Lawrence O'Brien was already a success at the age of 17, when we did Romeo and Juliet together as Civil War play in high school.

He played Romeo and I married Juliet.

Larry, my boy, nice to see you, how are you?

Fine, Mitch. How are you?

Look at that tan, how do you do it?


How's my Juliet and your children?

Oh, great, great, Larry.

California is a great place for kids.

What made you decide to finally come?

Sam Collyer wants me to make a picture out here.

Yeah, well I, kind of, thought so.

Sam financing your pictures, Sam likes it out here in California, you make pictures in California.

Everybody's happy including me.

I'm glad we're together, Mitch, just like old times.

Oh, it's a pleasure.

I got everything all set up.

I got you a house, I got you a small motion picture studio, now what do you want to see first?

First, where I work, then where I live.

Let's see the studio.

The place I had in mind for Larry was an old motion picture studio over on La Brea, which had been closed for years.

In the old days, they had made some of the real big pictures there.

They only made silent pictures here.

The first ones and the best ones, ever since 1915, Mr. O'Brien, Weather Street has been everything, from Klondike Ghost to the Canal in Venice, it's been China Town, Park Avenue, and the Barbary Coast.

Do you see that corner there?

Well, that's where Lee surrendered to Grant, Custer made his last stand right in the middle of that square.

Now if you follow me right through here.

What's this, Mr. Miller?

Oh, that was the great silent picture director, Franklin Ferrara.

You remember, he was murdered.

I think I do.

He was killed right on this lot, down there in that bungalow.

Would you like to see it?

Some other time, Mr. Miller. Oh, why don't we... let's take a look at it.

Used to be the time I take a hundred... maybe a hundred and fifty people through this bungalow every day.

All of them waiting to see the place where Mr. Ferrara was killed, all of them asking the same question, who did it?

Probably a burned-out bulb, it might not even be connected up.

I don't think anyone's been here for years.

This is where they found the body, January 5th, 1929.

1929, that's the year we started in high school.

Yeah, that's the year my father finished from Wall Street.

Mr. Miller, they never found out who killed Ferrara, huh?

No, too many people involved, they tried to pin it on all of them.

To this day, no one knows who really did it.

Someone knows.

Yeah, who?

Whoever did it.

Hey, Mitch, look at this, an old player piano, just like a nickelodeon.

I haven't seen one in years.

Put another nickel in.

Mitch, do you remember the old Atlantic Movie Theater on 116th Street, they have one of these.

Man, you're really going back.

Hey, do you remember Tom Mix in Texas Badman?

Sure, I remember, and I remember this music.

They played it with a picture called, something about the Sahara Desert, there were tents and sheiks and beautiful girls, wild horses.

I'll bet that was Sands of Sahara.

That's right. Directed by Franklin Ferrara.

You don't see pictures, like, that anymore.

Yes, you do, pop, every night on television.

That was Thea Brent, one of the original vamps.

She was in the Songs of Gods, one of Ferrara's greatest.

Hey, here's a picture of Valentino.

Oh yes, he was a great friend of Ferrara's.

Who's this heartthrob, haven't I seen him around?

That's Roland Paul, he drove the flappers wild.

You may have seen him around, he's doing small parts now.

Handsome man.


He was involved in the Ferrara case too, it's a pity, a scandal ruined him.

Some people thought he did it, some people still think so.

Do people still remember it?

Oh I guess not, except maybe a few old timers like myself.


That was Amanda Rousseau in 1925.

I'll sign her up right now, in 1950.

She's not around anymore.

She was involved in the case too.

Ferrara was quite a guy, huh?

The best, he could do anything.

He'd lived hard and worked hard.

Mr. O'Brien, I could talk about him for hours.

You know, Mitch, there's a good story here.

I agree with you, Larry, and that's where we should leave it, right here.

But he didn't leave it there, he had walked in in an old hunk of Hollywood history and already, you could almost hear the cameras grinding in his head.

That evening we had dinner at my house but part of him was still back there in that old bungalow.

After dinner, he wooed his old high school Juliet for the benefit of the kids and me, they were still doing Shakespeare in the Civil War, oh brother.

Hey, bravo.

That was great. Bravo, bravo, bravo, bravo.

Encore, encore.

Now children, up to bed both of you.

You were really very good, Mr. O'Brien.

I bet you said that to all your daddy's clients.

Yes I do, how did you know?

I know your daddy.

Come on, dear. Do you make a lot of money, Mr. O'Brian?

Jimmy, come on.

You know something, Larry, I don't know what's with that kid.

Right now he's got more money in the bank that I have.

You're a pretty lucky boy, Mitch, they are wonderful kids.

Juliet gets prettier every day, and what was her name before the school play?

You know something, I don't remember.

I've never called her anything but Juliet.

Oh, let me get you a brandy, Larry.

Sure, Mitch.

You know, it was wonderful to talk to that old man this morning. Yeah.

What's the decision on the studio?

I like it. I'm gonna take a lease on it.

He's fantastic about that Ferrara fellow.

Oh sure, Hollywood's full of stories like that.

Someday somebody's gonna make a picture about him.

Yes, but nobody in their right mind would make it, it's too dusty.

Backstage stories are okay, back camera stories are absolutely no good.

I don't agree with you, Mitch, there's a great story connected with Franklin Ferrara, the colorful days of silent pictures as one of the backgrounds. Now look, Larry, don't go off the deep ends in your first picture out here.

Stay out of the quicksand, do a Western but make it the best Western it was ever done.

Look, we'll leave it up to Juliet, level-headed, sit down, darling, knows all the answers, good average audience.

Can't I have a drink? Yes, later, darling.

Now first I want an honest answer from you.

Here's a story.

An old silent picture director was murdered and to this day no one knows who did it, do his life story and all the characters that surround him, lots of old timers sticky, nostalgic, stuff about the '20s, about the days of silent pictures.

Now, give Larry and me an honest answer, what do you think about it for a picture?

I like it.

Well, I didn't see Larry for a few days after that but wasn't hard to figure out what he was doing, he was doing Los Angeles from the Franklin Ferrara point of view.

First, he went to the newspaper mart at the Los Angeles Times, then he went to the police department and looked through the old files they had on the case and did a lot of talking.

He ran all of the Franklin Ferrara pictures he could get a hold of, some of the most successful silent pictures of the time.

Among them, The Phantom of the Opera, starring Lon Chaney.

Ferrara's old house in the Hollywood Hills was next on the list.

It had been vacant for years and the statues wouldn't talk.

He spent an afternoon at the motion picture home, and the old timers who had known Ferrara did nothing but talk.

The last stop on the line was down the coast in San Juan Capistrano, the famous old California Mission.

One of the oldest California families, the Ferraras.

The first one sailed into San Diego Bay with the Cabrel.

I remember old Pedro Ferrara.

He was a silversmith, a real artist, and his daughter Isobel.

She was a beauty.

She became Carmelite nun.

And there were also two sons.

The youngest went abroad a few years ago and I understand he died there.

The other one was Franklin Ferrara, the famous movie director.

Uh-hmm. He had a very tragic end.

I suppose you know about that?

Yes, I know about it.

It's a fine piece of work.

I think the father cut that himself.

It's the patron saint of the family.

You seem to be very interested in the Ferrara family.

You're writing a book about California?

Not exactly, no.

Aren't they famous the Swallows of Capistrano?

No, sparrows.

Our swallows aren't due for several months yet.

March 19th, to be exact.

It's quite a site.

You ought to come back and see it.

And maybe I will.

Right. You'll never know.

There was nothing for me to do while Larry went around for the full circle but wait.

So I waited until O'Brien got good and ready.

Mr. O'Brien is on his way in.

He was good and ready.

Larry, my boy.

Hi, Mitch.

Where have you been?

Well, I've been seeing some interesting places and some interesting people.

Now I'm gonna do an interesting story.

The one I told you not to do?

That's the one. Well, even though I haven't been exactly for the project, I haven't been dogging it.

Now first you need some writers.

Here's, uh, my list.

Any one of them would give you a top-notch script. Well, thank you, Mitch.

I've already got a writer.

One of, uh, my clients? I don't know.

His name is Vincent St. Clair.

Never heard of him.

What are his credits?

Well, he wrote most of Franklin Ferrara's pictures.

Say, he's a real old-timer.

You think you can find him? Oh, sure, sure.

Uh, honey, get me the Screenwriters Guild.

Yes, sir.

The search for Vincent St. Clair led Larry to a foggy, desolate section of Zuma Beach, miles beyond the Malibu Movie Colony.

The Screenwriters Guild had no record of St. Clair for the past 18 years but that didn't stop Larry.

He played hounds and hares over a trail of bad checks, unpaid bills, and no forwarding addresses, and until he finally reaches the house where St. Clair lives.

You really couldn't call it a house.

It was more of a lean to, but then again, it wasn't exactly a lean to either.

It was a more of a cave-in.

Do you always do that when you come into a strange house?

Oh, I'm sorry.

I didn't know anyone was here.

Are you Vincent St. Clair, the writer?

I'm Vincent St. Clair and I have some doubt about the latter and why are you here?

What do you want? My name's O'Brien.

That's fair enough. I'm a producer.

Go on.

You wrote a couple of pictures for Franklin Ferrara.

I'm gonna do a story of his life.

I want you to work for me. Well, it's very good of you but I'm afraid I won't be able to work your picture into my schedule. Oh, why not?

Well, you see, uh, I'm doing a play, yes, because I've been writing it now for 11 years.

You got your foot on my second act.

Oh, I'm sorry.

Maybe a few months off would give you a fresh approach.

You can save the whimsy.

Now why pick on me?

Well, I saw your old pictures.

I like them.

But why a picture about Franklin Ferrara, that extremely old hat?

The old hat will be blocked and cleaned.

Do you wanna work?

What's your proposition?

What was your last salary?

$7.500 a picture.

When was that?


Okay. It's a deal.

I'll pay you the same salary.

When can you start?

Don't rush me.

Uh, let's have a drink.

Here you are.

Oh, excuse me.

Amanda Rousseau.

That's right. Yes.

I saw her in a couple of pictures you wrote.

What happened to her?

What happened to all of us?

Well, here's to you, O'Brien.

I think you're absolutely crazy but I like the sound of your checkbook.

To the Ferrara story.

We'll start Monday morning and let's keep it quiet.


This is Hollywood Exclusive.

It has just been confirmed that Larry O'Brien is going to make the Franklin Ferrara story, his first Hollywood picture.

This should be interesting if not a little dangerous.

I've got the real inside on this Ferrara story if you're interested. I heard O'Brien has got some new evidence and he's gonna spill it in the picture. Well, everybody knows who the murderer was. Yeah?

Who? Who?

Well, I've got to get back to the set.

I'm in the first shot.

Not a bad idea doing the Ferrara picture.

You telling me, I was gonna do it myself as a musical. Personally, if they spent over a million dollars on it, they're crazy.


Francis X. Bushman.

Hello, John.

Say, where you've been hiding?

Well, I've been right... oh, you're kidding, aren't you?

My, it's been a long time.

Let's see.

The last time you were on this lock was to star in Mr. Ferrara's first picture with Beverly Bayne.

That's right. Boy, what a memory.

Say, John, I'm due over at the casting office.

Oh, right. This way.

Well, John, let's do...

Well, there is Betty Blythe and Bill Farnum.

John. Hello, Betty.

Oh, thank you, my dear. Hello, Francis. How are you?

Hello, Bill. Betty. John, glad to see you.

It's the old days, the good old days have come back to Hollywood.

Am I intruding? Helen Gibson.

Well, you're all in Mr. O'Brien's picture?

That's right, John. You said it, John.

Of course, it wouldn't be the Ferrara story if all of you people weren't in it.

Oh, listen to him. Oh, you're a flatterer.

I don't believe a word but still I'd like to hear.

Shall we go over here?

Let's go back to the night of the murder.

Would you read the notes from there, Mary?

On the night of January the 5th, 1929, Franklin Ferrara had dinner in his bungalow alone.

Resuscitating that during the evening, Ferrara had two visitors, Amanda Rousseau and Roland Paul, and possibly a visit from a man named Charles Rodale, his personal secretary who have been dismissed a few days previously.

Many believed that Rodale was actually a younger brother of Ferrara's.

Rodale disappeared that week and has never been found.

Ferrara was found next morning fatally shot on the floor of... right here, I guess.

This was how they found him.

I was a bit arrogant working on the script.

I had to detail that morning with story conference.

When I got here, this room was swarming with people, actors, producers, directors, uh, Amanda Rousseau, anybody you could think of.

Go on, Mary.

The murder weapon was never found and neither was the bullet that killed Ferrara.

It was first believed that the motive for the murder was robbery because of some missing items but the conclusion drawn by the police.

Someone mentioned the police?

May I help you?

Could be.

I'm Lt. Lennox.

Yes, lieutenant? We read about your idea to do the Ferrara story.

So I just thought I'd drop around.

May I ask why?

Oh, I don't know.

Maybe comic relief, you know, the blundering flatfoot.

I was under the impression that as far as the police department was concern, the Ferrara Case was closed.

An unsolved murder case is never closed, Mr. O'Brien.

What gave you the idea to do this story?

I produce motion pictures.

I produce motion pictures about interesting subjects.

This story should make an interesting motion picture.

Okay. But in case you'll run into interesting trouble, just call the department.

Ask for Lennox, Bud Lennox.



You got out of your mind?

I thought you were in Mexico City?

I was in Mexico City then I got your telegram.

Now I'm here.

Who's this?

This is Sam Collyer, my partner.

Lt. Lennox.


Police department. Oh, fine.

Hello, Sam. Hello.

What are you doing here, St. Clair?

I'm writing the Ferrara pictures for O'Brien.

Larry, do you suppose we could have a few minutes alone?

Oh, sure, Sam.

Gentlemen, would you mind?

Larry. Excuse me.

You are not going to make this picture.

What do you mean? I'll tell you what I mean.

We'll take it from the top. First of all, you lease this old creep joint of a studio without letting me know anything about it, then you find a story as old as just tired as the... as the joker that was killed here.

I come back and find the police on your tail, the screenplay is being written by an old geek who has been... who has been floating around in a Bourbon bottle for years.

Not with my money.

Well, now take it easy, Sam.

I've got the golden hunch on this story.

Have some confidence in me.

Oh, Larry. What's the matter with you?

You do a picture about the Air Force, you have to jump with the paratroopers.

The other one you spent four weeks in the flop house.

Now you wanna be a private eye.

Larry, stop playing games. This is a business.

I'm glad you mentioned that word, business, Sam.

You haven't done badly have you?

Now I'm not trying to be a private eye but once I get into something, I like to do it right.

I'm sorry, Larry. My mind's up if you insist on going ahead with this...

Now Sam.

Now will you listen to me?

This story is hot and if we don't make this picture, someone else will. I'm sorry.

If you make this picture, you'll do it without me.

Just like that?

Just like that.

All right, Sam.

It won't be with you.

I guess there's not much more to say.

I suppose not except I'm gonna miss you, Sam, and I'm very sorry.


Maybe it was that bungalow.

From the minute Larry first walked into it, it started to play tricks with his imagination.

He couldn't stay away from it.

That night he was still there.

All he can think about was the Ferrara story and how to find the missing pieces, how to put them together.

Hey, pop.

You see anybody go by?

Uh, who's there?

Never mind. Go back to sleep.

Police department, Lt. Lennox, please.


But when he comes in, will you tell him to call Lawrence O'Brien.

The number is Granite-1466.

Yes, thank you.

You're Lawrence O'Brien.

I'm Sally Rousseau.

Amanda Rousseau's daughter.

I thought you and your mother lived in the East?

We do. I came out here to ask you to drop the Ferrara picture. Why should I?

Because it's not just another picture.

It has to do with real people.

Well, I don't intend to use anybody's name except Franklin Ferrara's.

But everyone will know who you're talking about without mentioning names.

These pictures of my mother appeared in the papers only a few days ago.

That's what the mere announcement of your film has done.

I don't intend to see her drag through rehash of a 20-year old scandal.

She's happily married and her past life in Hollywood is dead and buried.

I understand your concern but why don't you look at it this way.

A picture telling the true story will clear the innocent once and for all.

You will serve the innocent better by not making the picture.

That's very good advice.

Do you mind if I pay no attention to it?

Hello? Sam.

Larry, I'm sorry about this afternoon.

I was upset about a lot of things, but... well, you were right about the picture and I was wrong.

I've been talking to a few other boys and what I'd know, they loved it, and if we don't do the picture somebody else will, so look... well, let's forget about this afternoon, huh?

We're still in business, count me in.

You were never out, Sam.

Come down to the studio tomorrow morning.

There are some things I wanna talk to you about.



The Christmas parade passing in front of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel could have been nearly as interesting to Larry as the face of Roland Paul, another member of the old cast had made his entrance.

This gave O'Brien a very good reason for having breakfast at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel the next morning.

Is there anything else, sir?

No, thanks.

Well, Ms. Rousseau, won't you sit down?


Do you always have breakfast here?

No. This is the first time.

Isn't it amazing that we ran into each other?


Would you like to order, miss?

Orange juice, black coffee, and Melba toast.

Thank you.

So that's how you do it.

How I do what, Mr. O'Brien?

Keep in shape.

You were pretty fast in getting away last night.

It was hardly a social call.

My logic made no impression on you, so I left.

Of course you didn't know that someone has just taken a shot at me.

No, I didn't.

Is that the reason you're here, Mr. O'Brien, to tell me you've changed your mind and you're not going to do the picture?

I like the way you keep trying.

I don't care to see a lot of innocent people dragged through the mud.

You're repeating yourself.

Then let me have it before it's over, you won't be very clean either.

I suppose my picture tells the truth.

How can it?

Do you know who killed Franklin Ferrara?

And why do you ask that?

Stop playing games, Mr. O'Brien.

Without knowing the murderer, you don't have a story.

You're right.

In order to make the picture, I need the answer to who killed Ferrara, and I think I can find it, but I'll need your help.

Your mother must have told you a lot about this case.

They didn't solve it then and you're not gonna solve it now.

I don't give up that easily.

That's entirely up to you, Mr. O'Brien, but remember, the next shot at you might not miss.

I'm sorry, all calls go through the casting office.

Sam Collyer and Mitch Davis are in your office.

It was a case of do or die, see, so I took the seven and I swung the club, died.

Sorry I'm late, fellas. All right.

That's all right Larry, big night?


I had a feeling when you called me this morning that something was wrong.

You had the right feeling, Mitch.

Yes, sir? Tell St. Clair to come into my office. Oh.

I think he better be here too.

Do we have to have that character around?

He gives me the creeps. What's wrong with him?

I just signed him up as a writer.

He can write, that's all.

Now you tell me. And I go along with that, Sam.

I saw a couple of pictures he wrote.

The titles you mean before 1929, did you happen to see that first talk he did?

I didn't know he wrote one.

You had to run it some time.

You, uh, sent for me?

How are you, Vince?

They treating you all right?

Are you happy? I'm fine, thank you.

They're treating me all right.

Yes, I'm happy.

Vince, you know Sam Collyer.

A lot of waters passed under the bridge, hasn't it, Vincent?

Where have you been hiding?

I haven't been hiding, Sam.

I've been out of work for 20 years.

Sam, that's something I can't understand.

A good writer like Vince...

That shouldn't be difficult to understand, Sam could explain it if he wanted to.

Couldn't you, Sam?

You know, that's the way it goes in this town, Vinny, that's the way it goes.

Nice to see you back.

Thank you.

You look as though you're hardly been away.

As a matter of fact you look just the same as you did the last time we had dinner together up at Ferrara's house.

I hadn't got much time, Larry, what's on your mind?

Well, I'll give it to you straight.

Last night in the bungalow somebody took a shot at me.

With a gun?

It wasn't a slingshot.

Well, this is nothing to joke about, you know what this means?

Somebody doesn't want him to make the picture.

Did you speak to the police? Not yet.

I told you in the first place to leave it alone, I begged him, I said, "Larry make a Western... Look, Larry.

...you can't go wrong with the Western.

Make a Western." Mitch, will you shut up?

What are you gonna do?

I'm going on with the picture, if any of you would like to take off I not only understand, I will give you the coffee.

This is my first job in almost 20 years, no one's going to scare me out of it.

I mean if you wanna do it, it's all right with me, I'll back you up all the way.

Who'd wanna shot an agent?

Okay. So now we know where we stand or fall.

All right, Larry, just watch out for yourself.

Don't worry, Mitch. Sam, I wanna see you a second.

Hmm? Oh, sure.

I didn't know you knew Ferrara personally.

I was his business manager.

Oh. Funny, I didn't tell you.

I guess I thought you knew.

No. No, I didn't.

But I got to run now, I'll keep in touch, huh?

Yeah, Sam. Sure.


O'Brien, why did you call me last night?

Oh, that. Nothing important, we might need a technical adviser on the picture and I thought of you. Well, thanks.

But are you sure I'm qualified?

Not completely, no.

Well, why don't you try me out?

For instance you might ask me the caliber of that bullet that missed you last night.

What about it?

Thirty-two caliber.

Fired from a distance of about thirty feet, and judging from where it hit that picture it could've missed your head by more than two inches.

Anything else?


That chick you had breakfast with this morning at the Hollywood Roosevelt did a very strange thing after she left you.

She took a taxi to the Las Palmers apartment on North Sycamore and visited an apartment on the second floor really, number 205.

How do you know all this?

That's what they pay me for, to know all this.

And who do you think she visited in apartment 205?

Roland Paul.

Do you wanna go on playing games or shall we stop?

Well, let's keep on playing.

You have any idea who might have fired that shot at you last night?

Hmm, I have an idea.

Me too.

Let's get together sometime and compare ideas.

Mary, will you send a couple of dozen roses to Ms. Sally Rousseau at the Hollywood Roosevelt.

Yes sir. With this message.

Will you have dinner with me tonight?

I have a pleasant surprise for you, Larry O'Brien.

What shall I do?

I think you should go.

How do you like it?

I don't know, really.

So strange seeing mother on the screen.

This is the first time.

She's very beautiful.

Roland Paul is pretty handsome in those days too.

I think he still is.

I'm sure you do.

How old did you say he was?

I didn't say.

It's that fictional mind of yours, hearing things.

Maybe the police have fictional minds too, or is it a twin brother that you have been seeing?

Oh, he was an old friend of my mother's, she asked me to look him up. Oh, real sentimental, huh?

Yes. Genuine emotion sentiment.

Look it up in the dictionary, I doubt if you'll find it in one of your scripts.

Excuse me, but I have a peculiar version of people who take pot shots at me.

How ridiculous. Roland Paul is a kind decent man who never harmed anybody.

What was he doing here last night?

Why don't you ask him? I intend to.

You do no such thing.

That's two people you're trying to protect.

I can understand about your mother but why Roland Paul?

He suffered just as much as mother did, even more.

He was hurt terribly.

I can't tell you anymore.

Don't ask me, please.

I'm sorry.

Let's go have a drink.

I can use one.

Hello? Yeah?

Mr. O'Brien? Just a minute, please.

Mr. O'Brien, telephone call for you in the booth.

Well, thank you. Excuse me.


Mr. O'Brien? Yes.

My name is Charles Rodale, ring anything to you?


You were Franklin Ferrara's secretary.

That's right.

And not a very good one at that.

From what I heard you stole some money from him and disappeared.

I'm going to do the same with you and disappear.

Only I won't steal it, you're going to give it to me.

How would you like it in large or small bills?

Let the comedy, O'Brien, I can break the Ferrara case wide open.

I don't think I'm gonna buy anything from you, Rodale.

I have for brothers, Ferrara has one.

Oh, there's a lot of doubt about that.

Rumor has it that he died in China if there was a brother.

Fact has it that he didn't die in China and there was a brother, still is, very much alive, very much kicking.

Well, you may have something there, come onto the studio tomorrow.

That's no good, you meet me tonight.

I'm busy tonight.

We'll do it my way or not at all.

I think you'd better listen to me, O'Brien.

I'm sorry I kept you waiting.

Larry, who's that?

St. Clair.

Vincent St. Clair, your mother must have spoken about him.

He wrote many of her pictures.

Oh, yes, mother did talk about him.

What a sad face he has.

He'll brighten up on Wednesday, that's the day he gets paid.

Are you really as hard as you sound?

Are you?

From Hollywood to Ocean Park is 10 miles, pretty far to go just for a drink.

But after talking to Charles Rodale, Larry's plans were changed considerably.

Distance didn't mean a thing when you figure Larry was on his way to meet a man who'd been missing 22 years.

Things were kind of quiet on the pier that night, it was the offseason.

But inside Jacks things were really jumping like... well, sort of like the way O'Brien's nerves were jumping.

Madison 7911.

That's right.

I'm gonna see a man named Charles Rodale at the Ajax Hotel a few blocks up.

If I'm not back in a half an hour, call this number, ask for Bud Lennox.

Tell him where to look for me, and take my car, and go home.

Here's the parking ticket.

You sure you know what you're doing?

I'll know better in half an hour.

207, which way?



What happened? Are you all right?

Yeah, I'm all right.

Must be Charles Rodale.

I saw him today, Larry, somewhere.

I know it.


I don't know, somewhere.

Try to remember. At the studio?

The hotel? Roland Paul's apartment?

No, I can't seem to remember.

Maybe I'm just dreaming it up.

Did you call Lennox?

Yes, but he wasn't there.

They'll get in touch with him.

Well then, you better go.

You have the car? No, I'll walk. Larry...

Look, I don't wanna get you involved.

You go out the back end, just take a taxi and I'll see you tomorrow.

Which one is it?

This one right here.

Call homicide in Santa Monica, tell them to send a team.

Okay, where's the phone?

Down the hall.

Who is he? Never saw him before.

He registered, didn't he? I never look up.

Very funny. You'd be surprised how much time I'd save not going to court.

Can I go back downstairs now?


His name's Charles Rodale.

He was Franklin Ferrara's secretary.

Who killed him, Mr. O'Brien?

How will I know?

I walked in here, the lights were out, somebody slugged me, and when I came to...

For a man with a nice soft job, you should take a lot of chances.

And before I ask you why you walked into this room, who is that girl that called the department?

Oh, it was a private telephone service.

It was the operator.

If I didn't reach her at a certain time she was to call you.

I see.

This gentleman seems to have made an observation.

What did you say your name was?



Uh-oh. Never mind the uh-oh, just tell the lieutenant what you saw.

Well, like I was telling this man here, about an hour and a half ago, I heard the cat knocking at the door.

The cat?

Nicholas, the hotel cat.

He always comes at that time, we have a drink together.

All right. So the cat was knocking at your door?

Well, I went to the door and let him in and just then a man walked down the hall, and Nicholas got scared and jumped right in front of him.

You know what the man did?

He kicked Nicholas.

He kicked him right out of his way.

Then what happened?

Oh, he ran away.

The man?


Let's stick with the man.

Oh, well, he knocked on this door right here and then walked right in. What did he look like?

Well, it was kind of dark, I couldn't really tell.

I know he wasn't tall and he wasn't short.

He was kind of... oh, I don't know. I didn't see him too good.

Did you hear the shot?

Oh, I heard the short all right.

Great. Shooting gallery next door but this guy heard the shot.

It's getting better though.

This is the first killing we've had this year.

Well, goodbye.

All right, Mr. O'Brien, let's fade in into this evening.

What brought on this clandestine kaffeeklatsch?

Well, just as I was leaving the studio I got a phone call from him I imagine.

He said his name was Rodale, and that he had some vital information about the... Ferrara story.

So I made a date to meet him here.

That's all?

That's all.

We'll talk some more about it tomorrow.

You better leave.

Oh uh...

I found this on the floor.

Nice of you to cooperate.

I thought you were going home?

I was worried about you.

Are you all right? Yeah.

Nice of you to wait for me, Sally.

It was nice of you to get me out of a jam that you got me into.

The question is, how long can I keep you out?

The dead man on your hands, you're in pretty deep now.

Yeah. It's gonna get deeper.

Wanna help?

The answer is still no.

It's okay, Dan.

Oh, Bill.

Where's Roland Paul?

He's over there with the makeup man.


You can speak to him in one of the dressing rooms if you catch him, Mr. O'Brien.

Oh, don't bother. Any quiet corner will do.

How long does he have on the picture?

Oh, it's just a bit, it'd be through today.

Oh, Mr. Paul... Yeah?

This is Mr. Lawrence O'Brien, he'd like to speak to you for a few minutes.

Very well. Thank you, Bill.

Shall we sit down?


I'd like to ask you a few questions, Mr. Paul.

If it has anything to do with the Ferrara case, I answered all the questions 22 years ago.

There's nothing I can add now.

Oh, but there is.

I'm not as much interested in Ferrara's.

I am on a man named Charles Rodale.

You saw him yesterday.

I see no reason to deny it.

He visited you at your apartment.

That's right.

May I ask what the reason was for this visit?

The reason was you.

Why did he come to see you?

He considered me an old friend.

I didn't share his consideration.

I told him where he can get in touch with you.

I imagine he did.

Ah, I was probably the next to the last person to speak to him.

The next of the last? Uh-hmm.

The last person to speak to him killed him.

He was murdered last night.

Who killed him?


I didn't have any affection for Rodale but who would want to kill him?

Probably the same person who killed Ferrara, if Rodale knew anything.

That's possible.

What do you think of the theory that Rodale was Ferrara's brother?

I doubt that very much.

Roland Paul, on the set, please.

If you'd excuse me, Mr. O'Brien.

Yes. Mr. Paul?


The chief would like to talk to you about the murder of Charles Rodale.

I've just been talking to Mr. O'Brien about that very same subject.

Well, the chief's questions will be a little more official.

Mr. Paul, please, we're waiting for you.

Go ahead.

Thank you. I won't be long.

Matter of fact, my part's finished after the shot.

And what's this all about, Lennox?

It's a wrap-up.

Rodale came to town, he saw Roland Paul.

Rodale was out to shake down everybody, you too.

He had an argument with Paul, the neighbors verified.

Paul went to see Rodale then killed him.

Sylvester identified him.

Sylvester? The guy with the cat?

He couldn't identify himself in a mirror.

I don't know why I bother to explain all this to you but here it goes.

In going over Roland Paul's apartment, we hit the jackpot.

We found out that at the time Ferrara was killed, Roland Paul was secretly married to Amanda Rousseau.

Oh, and Paul is Sally's father?

That's right.

He had the perfect motive to kill Ferrara.

Irate husband department.

And how does this tie in with Rodale?

Well, Rodale evidently had enough information to apply some pressure so Paul killed him too.

We got cases like this every day, there's nothing to it.

All ready, Joel.

Hello, Larry. Hello, Joel.

This is Lt. Lennox, Joel McCrea.

How you doing?

How's the Ferrara story coming?

Fine, Joel, fine.

Good. Excuse me.

All right. Let's try one.

All right. Here we go.

Settle down, everybody.

Roll him, Andy.


Is it serious, doctor?

It's hard to tell right now.

We're doing all we can.

However, it's...


Sorry, Joel. Sorry, boy.

Relax, Roland. Take it easy, you're pretty tense. Sure.

All right. Once again.

All right.

Roll him, Andy.


Is it serious, doctor?

It's so hard to tell right now.

We're doing all we can.

However, it's advisable to transfer the patient to a hospital. A hospital?

You can be sure she'd be very well taken care of.

I'll attend to that personally.

Cut. All right, for you fine for me.

Credits. All right lights crew.

All right, boys, let's get that box thing out there.

Get ready for the first right after lunch.

All right, forward.

Back it off now.

Okay. Yeah. That's all right.

Get around all to the left.

All right. Quiet, folks.

Where is he? Over there.

Do me a favor, Mr. O'Brien.

I was calling Mrs. Rousseau.

She isn't in.

We were to meet at LaRue's for lunch.

I'm afraid I won't be able to make it.

I'll take care of it.


Let's go.

And so I told him, "Don't pick up my option."

I wanna go back east and watch the seasons change.

Who needs seasons?

Yes, sir.

That's Mr. Collyer's car, isn't it?

Yes, sir. Mr. Collyer's inside having lunch.

Hello, Sally.

How nice to meet you and accidentally for a change.

I'm sorry I disillusioned you.

But I knew you were here.

Roland Paul sends his apologies.

He can't have lunch with you.

Why not?

The police seem to think he had something to do with...

Rodale's death.

Oh, no.

No, that's impossible.

No thanks. We'll order lunch later.

Yes, sir.

Sally, the police know that Roland Paul is your father.

How did they find out? I don't know.

What amazes me is that it was kept a secret for so long and why a secret in the first place?

The public had strange ideas in the silent days.

They prefer their stars are married.

And before the marriage became known, your mother fell in love with Franklin Ferrara.

I suppose that's true.

Sally, the police believe they found the perfect motive to accuse your father for killing Ferrara.

They're wrong, they're wrong, they'll never be able to prove it.

I hope not.

Can't you help him?

I can try, Sally.

So far, my batting average has been a big fat nothing.

But I'll keep swinging, I promise you.

Excuse me, sir, Mr. Collyer over there wants to know if you'd like to join him for lunch.

Oh. Thank Mr. Collyer and tell him I'll take a rain check on it.

Yes, sir.

Is that man's name Sam Collyer?

That's right. I didn't know you knew Sam.

I don't.

I remember hearing his name though.

He was pretty close to Ferrara, wasn't he?

Yes, he's pretty close to me too.

He's a good friend, Sam is, and a good businessman. You're lucky.

He's the kind who'll always land on his feet.

Sally, do you remember what you did with the parking ticket I gave you last night?

Well, I... I gave it to the attendant when I went back to the car.

Did it look anything like this?

Yes, that's it.

How did you get it?

No, that's not it.

You know something Sally?

I may have got my first hit in this league.

Not bad, Larry. Not bad at all.

What do you mean not bad?

It's an exact duplicate of this bungalow right down to the furniture. Uh-hmm.

It's being set up on stage two right now.

Good. I'm glad to hear it.

I'm glad to hear that we're making such progress.

Speaking about progress, how's the script coming along?

Fine. It's all finished.

All I got to do now is put in the words.

Just the words?


Or this is the fever chart we have.

The rise and fall of pressures and emotions.

Aristophanes called it The Progress of that's the way we did it in the old days when movies rarely moved.

Sounds very interesting.

We must talk about it sometime.

I imagine you read the morning paper.

Oh, yes, indeed.

It always saddens me to read about the passing of one of your old classmates.

You don't seem to be too sad about it.

But I am.

I am.

I cried all morning.

What you haven't read yet is that the police have arrested Roland Paul.

Dear me, the Class of '29's having a difficult day for itself.

Charles Rodale gets a bullet through his skull, Roland Paul gets himself arrested.

Now I suppose they'll pick up Amanda Rousseau, Sam Collyer, and a lot of others, dust off all the old clues, and then... and then release everyone by Monday morning.

Sam Collyer?

Nameless here forevermore.

Oh, I'm sorry. For the moment, I was colorblind.

I don't get it.

How green was my money men.

After all, Sam Collyer is the patron of our project.

St. Clair, sometimes your sense of humor is difficult to understand as your methods of writing.

Sam Collyer is a friend of mine.

You mentioned him in connection with the Ferrara case.

Well, how does he fit in?

Well, it would begin something like this.

First, let me take an arrow.

Don't tell me with arrows.

Tell me with words.

I've said too much already.

Perhaps Amanda Rousseau could tell you.

If she could talk, she would say... you don't mind my giving the full treatment, do you?

No, go right ahead.

Ham up a little if you like.

You see Amanda, 20 years ago, to know you or still love you, Franklin Ferrara, Roland Paul, Sam Collyer, oh, yes, is even usually cautious Sam was captivated by your loveliness.

And would also say Amanda that 20 years ago, you were the inspiration of violence.

You might also say Amanda, that 20 years ago, this music would've sounded a lot better.

That's a strange note, all right.

I have noticed it before.

I'll see if I can find another roll around here anywhere.

No, that seems to be the only one there is.

I'll take this and have Mary scout around for some replacements.

Is there anything else I can get to add to your comfort?

No, thank you, you're very kind.

Oh, you don't mind my living here, do you?

That is until I can find a place in town.

Not at all. Well, you won't forget about the music rolls, will you?

I could use a change of mood.

Yes, of course.

I could use some words in between those arrows.

Unwinding that old music roll was like turning the hands of a clock back to yesterday.

To a man like O'Brien with an eye for the details of a detail, a slightly larger perforated hole had suggested that there was something behind it all.

There was something behind it all, a bullet.

Hello? Scotland Yard calling.

Inspector Lennox at your service.

How's the rewrite coming?

Oh, just putting the paper in the typewriter.

Better stick to my script.

It's getting stronger by the minute.

A, Roland Paul won't talk.

B, he can't account for his time last night.

C, Charles Rodale is nobody's brother much less Franklin Ferrara's. D...

How about the telephone number I gave you?

The one I found beside the body?

I was hoping you were gonna ask me about that.

When I called the number, what do you think it was?

Now get this, it was Mitchell's Mortuary.

Mitchell's Mortuary?

Maybe Rodale had a flash of premonition.

What are you gonna do now?

Well, I think I'll work on the script a while.

Why? The police is satisfied.

Why don't you relax?

What are you trying to do to me anyhow?

Lieutenant, I'm out to make you a sergeant.

Good evening, sir.

We are sorry for your loss.

Oh, thank you.

I was just browsing.

Oh, of course.

You are anticipating a blessed departure?

No. Not at this time.

I would like to ask you however, how long you've been in business.

Well, barely four years, sir.

Yet already some of the best people...

Yes, yes, of course.

Do you mind if I use your telephone?

Oh, certainly.

Uh-uh, this way.

What? Sure it's official.

I told you that before.

This is Lt. Lennox of the police department.

That's right.

Now quit stalling and give me the names of all the people who've had this number since 1929.

All right, go ahead.

It was amazing how many people belonged to a little old telephone number.

This one covered everything from a Chinese restaurant to a pool hall.

It had belonged to a fortune teller and to a girl named Rose Paris.

It was a shoe store and a WPA office.

In 1932, it was a radio station.

And in 1929, it had belonged to Sam Collyer.

What's the matter, Larry? Story got you down?

Take it easy, Everything's gonna be all right.

Sam? Hmm?

Do you own a gun?

You feel that bad?

Well, you haven't answered my question.

Of course I own a gun.

Is it a .32 caliber?

No, it's .38.

Is it the only one you have?

It's the only one I have now.

I've had a lot of guns in my... what are we playing, cops and robbers?

Did you ever have a .32?

.32? Probably did.

Back in 1929? Could be.

Sam, where were you last night?

This is getting a little silly, isn't it?

It's gonna be even sillier unless you can tell me where you were.

Well, if it's absolutely essential to you, I drove down to Palm Springs.

You drove to Ocean Park.

I had a parking stub. Also a telephone number.


It was your number.

Charles Rodale was trying to get in touch with you.

The trouble is he did.

That's fine.

A parking ticket, telephone number, the state arrests.

Why do you bother to come here?

Why didn't you just go to the police?

The police would make it tougher and the setting wouldn't be as comfortable.

It's darn nice of you.

You want me to sign a confession on my own stationery?

Why don't you just try explaining these things away?

Why? To get to the bottom of the grab bag?

Not quite.

This is the bullet that killed Franklin Ferrara.

I found it in the old piano music roll.

Say, you've really come up with something.

The old music roll.

You know, the police have been looking for this hunk of metal for over 20 years.

I even forgot about the rest of it.

This is big.

You know, all you need is the gun that fired it.

Yeah. That's what I thought.

And this is my contribution to your story.

This is the gun that killed Ferrara.

Whose gun is it, Sam?


All ties up neatly, there's just one hitch.

I didn't fire the gun.

Now, do you wanna call the police or do you wanna hear my version?

Anything you say, Sam.

Now this all goes back to a little before your time, Larry.

When movies first started to talk, sound was smashing careers overnight.

I had been on the go for weeks trying to salvage the remains of a few of them.

That night, I decided to take it easy and get to bed early when the phone rang.

I wasn't expecting anybody but I decided I'd better answer it.

It was Ferrara.

Well, I could make out over a few words.

He was at his bungalow, wanted me to come there right away.

Then his voice seemed to choke, the phone went dead.

Ferrara had sounded so strange.

I decided to take my gun.

I went to the night table drawer where I always kept it, the gun wasn't there.

It seems strange but... well, I didn't have time to worry about it.

I was at the studio in less than 10 minutes.

I thought it'd best not to be seen so I used the side entrance.

I didn't need a key because somebody left the gate open.

The bungalow was dark, I tried to look through the door, I couldn't see a thing.

Then I remembered I had a key to the bungalow in the glove compartment of my car.

And in the compartment, I not only found the key, I also found my gun.

I hadn't the slightest idea how it gotten there.

And then I pushed it into my pocket and hurried back to the bungalow.

I opened the door, switched on the lights, and there he was.

Whoever killed him must have left in a hurry, didn't notice that Ferrara was still alive.

He'd come to just long enough to call me and then before I even looked at it, I knew he'd been murdered with my gun.

There was one bullet missing.

It had just been fired.

Then I discover the rest of the frame, the frame even had the motive on the desk of personal letters I had written to Amanda Rousseau and the cigarette lighter with my initials on it.

I started to call the police and supposed they didn't believe me.

So I didn't call them.

Instead, I decided to make it look like a cheap robbery.

I took his wallet.

In his hand, was the gold medallion he'd always worn around his neck.

He must have clutched at it when he died, and I even took that.

I wanted to make sure the police would call it a robbery.

And it didn't seem anything else that I could do, so I... well, I got out in a hurry.

And that's the story, Larry.

I didn't kill him.

You should have gone to the police, Sam.

I know I should have, I couldn't, there was another reason.

And I was sure then I knew who'd kill Ferrara, somebody I love very deeply, who wasn't very fond of me.

Amanda Rousseau?

That's right.

What about Rodale?

Oh, don't you spot the pattern?

It's a retake.

Someone wants to frame me again.

The parking stuff, the phone number.

If Rodale was found with a bullet in his chest, well, it's the identical setup.

What makes you think he wasn't found with the bullet in his chest?

I don't know.

Maybe it shouldn't say how he was killed?

Is that the medallion?


I'd like to take it with me and the gun.

I gather you're not buying my story.

The police won't buy it.

I'm not asking about the police, I'm asking you.

You're supposed to be a friend of mine.

I still am. Not in my book.

Go ahead.

Call the police, give them all the evidence.

Do anything you want, just get out of here.

All right, Sam.

But I'm not going to the police.

In the meantime, let's call off the picture.

Good night, Sam.

On the way back to the studio, Larry stopped off the Church of the Good Shepherd.

He talked with Father Murphy and when they finished, he knew all about the gold medallion that Sam found in Franklin Ferrara's clinched hand.

Larry. Sally.

I've been trying to reach you all evening.

I finally came here. What's the matter?

I don't believe it. It's impossible.

What are you talking about?

My father gave a full confession.

Larry, he couldn't kill anybody.

Don't worry, Sally. Don't worry.

Lennox speaking. Sergeant, this is Larry O'Brien.

What do you mean "sergeant"? I've rewritten the script, come on down the studio and take a look at it.

Are you kidding?

Haven't you heard we got a full confession out of Roland Paul?

Look, we made a deal with him.

We keep the family out and keep him in.

Like I told you, it's all routine, happens every day.

And don't call me sergeant.

If you're not here in a half an hour, sergeant, you stand a very good chance of starting all over again as a patrolman.

Wasn't it Lennox who arrested my father?

Yes. He's on his way over.

Well, I'm sorry I didn't mean to intrude.

I was working late and saw your light.

Well, that's quite all right, Vince.

There's a young lady who might be interested in a meeting.

Sally Rousseau, Vincent St. Clair.

Amanda Rousseau's daughter.

I thought I was dreaming when I saw you the other night.

You're as lovely as your beautiful mother.

That's very kind of you.

Did you hear about Roland Paul?

They got a full confession out of him.


But how does that fit in to our story?

Well, you're the writer, Vince.

How do you think it fits in?

I don't think it fits in at all.

Neither do I.

You know something, Vince?

And I think I'd found the key to the story.

Really? I'm glad to hear it.

I knew you would.

Your dramatic design on the blackboard helped me a great deal.

You know the arrows, there were quite a lot of them.

But there was one missing.

Well, there's always room for one more, Larry.


That's what I thought.

And that's the way the story should be told, from the point of view of the missing arrow.

Oh, and this missing arrow, how does he see the story, or is it a she?

The missing arrow is the brother, Philip Ferrara.

Oh, that's old hat, Larry.

They had a theory years ago and abandoned it.

Philip Ferrara is dead, that is if there ever was a Philip Ferrara.

Larry, my mother never mentioned of Philip Ferrara.

That's because he changed his name, Sally.

Philip Ferrara had a police record.

He avoided arrest by going to China, where he was supposed to have died.

But he didn't die.

He came back to California and in 1929, killed his brother.

But who killed Rodale?

The same Philip Ferrara.

Rodale was the only man who could identify him.

You have a very good case, O'Brien, except for two minor points.

Point one, who is Philip Ferrara?

You said, you don't know.

That's where you're mistaken, Vince.

I do know.

Oh, you have proof of his identity?

Complete proof.

Right here.

Oh. And point two, why should Philip Ferrara kill his brother?

It seems to me you have no motive.

I have a motive. Jealousy.

You were jealous of your brother's success, Philip, so you killed him.

Still writing bad scenes, aren't you?

You thought I wrote pretty good ones when you hired me?

They were.

But you didn't write them, it was your brother who did it.

When Sam Collyer found out you couldn't write, he fired you.

You hated him for that.

So you tried to frame him for the murder of your brother.

You don't need me anymore, O'Brien.

You've written your own ending to the Ferrara story.

Sally, stay with him.

Well, of course Larry changed the ending for his picture.

An audience just wouldn't believe that it could happen twice in exactly the same way.

He even had the medallion on his hand just like his brother did.

That medallion, only Larry knew what it was.

The figure on it was the patron saint of the Ferrara family.

The assumed name used by Philip Ferrara, St. Clair.

Well, Larry finally finished his picture and he and Sally were on their way to be married.

We all stopped off at Capistrano to pay our respects to a great director, Franklin Ferrara.

Sam was with us.

After all, he was going to be Larry's best man so he couldn't stay mad at Larry for too long, especially when you consider that he cleared up a 22-year-old nightmare.

And me, well, somebody had to give the bride away.