Magic in the Moonlight (2014) Script

Bravo! Bravo!

I don't understand. Is the conductor a blithering idiot?

We went over the tempo six times!

It's adagio, adagio, adagio. It's not racehorse tempo!

Ja, ja, Herr Crawford. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. What? Don't be sorry!

Get it right. What good are apologies when the poetry of the moment is lost?

And you! You're supposed to knock when you're ready in the trunk.

How do I know when you're all clear?

I'm sorry, Mr. Crawford, I couldn't breathe in that...

Well, you're not hired to breathe! But it was her first time, Mr. Crawford.

My God, we went over this routine all afternoon.

How do I know when to begin sticking in the swords?

I could have stabbed you to death, and then, I get blood on my ensemble.

Mr. Wei Ling Soo! You were, as always, brilliant!

I've already taken off my robe.

Can my wife and I take a photo of you? An autograph, please?

Autographs are for mental defectives. But I want to prove I met you.

Well, if you don't mind, I'd rather that proof didn't exist.

What if you get picked up for sodomy?

Yes!

Stanley?

Burkan! How are you, Howard?

Brilliant. You are still the best in the world.

No thanks to the assorted Neanderthals I have to deal with.

You haven't changed.

You're still a perfectionist, a snob, a genius, with all the charm of a typhus epidemic.

Well, can I help it if I'm surrounded by assassins?

Nonetheless, you held us spellbound.

And that last effect, from the sarcophagus into the empty chair, when you swivel around...

I mean, I do a vanish-and-reappearance trick in my show where I transport my pretty assistant from one side of the stage to the other in a steamer trunk, but it is nothing compared to what you do.

I invented that effect myself.

And if you're very good, when we have more time, I'll teach you all the moves.

It's actually... It's very simple. You can do it anywhere.

It's a spectacular trick.

It's so good to see you. How long has it been?

It's a year, at least. And the tour's going well?

Yes, it's going quite well. It concludes this week.

Munich was good. Barcelona adored me.

And you'll never guess who came to see the show in Zurich.

Enid Paxton. Enid Paxton?

Little thing in third form, we both used her as an assistant when we decided to become magicians.

You sawed her in half, and I cut her head off.

Well, she was a game girl.

How is she? She's fine.

You don't really notice any of the scars. Of course, she's fatter than my elephant.

What? Pretty little Enid with the curls?

Well, the years can be cruel, Howard.

"Life is nasty, brutish and short," as the man said.

Was it Hobbes? Yes, I believe it was Hobbes. I'd have got on rather well with Hobbes.

Shall we go for a drink?

Brilliant notion, Burkan. We can catch up.

Stanley, I need your help.

The plot thickens. I'll buy you a scotch.


The Catledge family are wonderful people. Caroline Catledge is an old friend of mine.

They're a wealthy Pittsburgh family. Father made millions in coal before he died.

They're socialites with several houses, one in the south of France.

Now, the thing is, there's a young woman staying with them, who has them believing that she's a spirit medium.

Lord, not another fake psychic. What a pestilence they are.

They're taken with her predictions of the future.

Telling them what they want to hear. Precisely.

And charging them for all the good news she brings.

Exactly right. And, of course, she's a pretty young thing.

Well, of course. A pretty face never hurt a cheap swindler.

Brice Catledge, Caroline's brother, the heir to the family fortune, fancies himself in love with her.

I don't know who I loathe more, those who use simple tricks to prey on the gullible, or the gullible, who are so stupid, they deserve what they get.

Brice Catledge's sister Caroline is married to a doctor, a psychoanalyst, and he insisted on this woman doing her séances, in the presence of two renowned scientists. Rubbish.

Doesn't he know that scientists are among the easiest to fool?

Well, this is the thing, I'm embarrassed to say, that I watched this woman work from every angle, time and again, and I couldn't find anything amiss.

I mean, I watched every move, and Lord knows, I know pretty much every mind-reading and séance trick there is, but I couldn't find a flaw or spot a single suspicious move, and I began to doubt my own clear thinking.

You know, I thought, "Maybe, she's the real thing."

There is no real thing, Howard! It's all phony!

From the séance table, to the Vatican and beyond!

I can't believe you're saying this.

I'm very worried for the family.

If you could come and observe her in action?

After all, you are the greatest debunker of fake spiritualists in the world.

There's not a single one who's got past you.

Olivia and I were all set to take a holiday, travel through the Galapagos.

But you hate holidays.

You'll spend your whole time in your room practicing card tricks, and you'll never see the big turtles.

And besides, you've always loved the south of France, and you could visit your Aunt Vanessa.

But if this woman knows she's being watched by the great Wei Ling Soo, she'll make some excuse not to perform.

The usual headaches, resistance in the room...

She'll never know you're Wei Ling Soo.

No one knows who you are under all that chinoiserie.

You can pose as anyone you like.

Well, if she's fooled you, she must be very good.

But she won't fool me.

I can't wait to see what gimmickry she's employing, unmask it, and throw it back in her face.

Postponing our holiday?

I can't resist. You're driven, Stanley.

Don't get angry with me, Olivia. It won't be for long.

Okay, go.

You've always had the measure of me, Olivia.

Ever since our very first dinner, when I made your ruby ring disappear from your finger, and reappear in your soft-boiled egg.

If you recall, I quickly figured out how you did it.

Yes, you were very impressive.

It was simply a matter of logic and common sense.

I mean, you palmed the ring and distracted me by spilling the salt.

I believe it was my clear thinking that attracted you to me.

Yes, your logic and common sense equal mine, but you have the added quality of being beautiful.

You've said it several times, Stanley. We're a match made in heaven.


What a serendipitous pleasure to be surprised by my favorite nephew and Howard Burkan!

Little Howard.

"Burkan the Great," if you please. Of course.

Of all my nephews and nieces, you're the only one, Stanley, who isn't boring to the point of perfection.

I couldn't agree more.

If only you had a slightly milder disposition, you might actually have friends.

I am his friend. Notice I use the singular.

Yes, he means he can tolerate me.

You may be Burkan the Great to your public, but to me, you'll always be little Howard Burkan, who took my favorite scarf, cut it in half with a pair of scissors, waved his magic wand over it, and it didn't come back together.

I was just learning the trick. No, she never got over that.

And to what do I owe this unannounced visit?

I'm here to expose yet another fraudulent spiritualist, and I thought I'd warn you I'll be dropping by for black pudding.

Yes, the Catledges are holding séances up at their place.

They've apparently met some gifted medium. It's the talk of the Côte d'Azur.

She's a little American called Sophie Baker, and apparently she's very sharp, but Stanley will get the measure of her.

I can't wait.

Welcome! Welcome...

How lovely to see you. Bienvenue.

George, Caroline, Stanley. How do you do?

Hello. Stanley. A great pleasure.

George. Charmed.

Of course, George and Caroline are the reason I'm here.

They're a great deal less gullible than Caroline's mother and brother, and had hoped that I would be able to reveal the medium as a fraud.

When she fooled Howard Burkan, we knew we were in trouble.

But then when he said he was best friends with Wei Ling Soo...

We're great admirers. Who isn't?

I don't know if Howard told you, her name is Sophie Baker.

Have you heard of her or...

No, I have not, but these sleazy fraudsters change identity every month.

And I omitted to mention she's here with her mother.

Now, that says a lot. Yeah.

I hope you kept your eyes on her mother during the séance, or did she dim the lights too low?

Caroline, you were next to her.

She held my brother's hand, and she actually made the table rise.

Well, I looked for the usual devices, of course.

I thought maybe, wrist lifts, but they weren't there.

She's promised to try and make contact with my father, who died a year ago.

As I was saying, your mother and your brother are the victims of a dishonest ruse, as your good sense tells you.

There is, of course, no spirit world, and even if there were, you can be sure that some little American gypsy would not be the one blessed to unlock its secrets.

Only a low-grade halfwit would fall for any of this.

But you're not implying that her mother and brother are halfwits?

Well, I haven't met them yet. But I'm sure they're like most people, desperate for a little hope in a world that has none, and willing to believe anything.

Who shall we say you are?

Introduce me as Stanley Taplinger.

I'm an old friend in the import-export business.

Understood. Mr. Taplinger, up to the house.

Come on, Howard.

What is that dreadful noise?

My brother. He practices serenading Sophie.

Both thine eyes are cute, too What they do to me Hear me holler I choose a sweet lollapaloosa In thee Thou sweet, thou grand...

Howard. Brice, good to see you again.

Can I introduce you to my friend Stanley Taplinger, who's going to be staying.

Pleasure to meet you. How do you do, Mr. Taplinger...

Taplinger... Taplinger. Taplinger.

And, how long will you being staying with us, Mister...

Not very. I have business elsewhere.

Have you told him about Sophie?

Now, is this the girl that can read minds and such?

Well, she gets these sensory impressions. And, what are they?

It's hard to explain. She gets these mental vibrations.

Her head vibrates?

Drink? Thank you.

Have you got a whiskey, Brice? I absolutely do.

Now, Sophie looked into my eyes and told me things about me she could never have known.

About old girlfriends I'd had, and places I've traveled to.

Good heavens. You think she can do it with me?

Of course. Of course.

Whatever questions you have about life, the hereafter... Here, cheers.

Perhaps there's a departed loved one you wish to make contact with.

Sophie sees all. She can predict the future. In short, she's a visionary.

And, I'm told she's very pleasant to look at.

She's a visionary and a vision.

Mother's agreed to subsidize a foundation for the serious scientific study of her work.

Well, after this buildup, I'm champing at the bit to meet her.

She's doing some psychic readings over at the Lounsberrys' house, but she should be here any minute.

And the Lounsberrys, I take it, are wealthy marks...

Wealthy friends of yours that she was anxious to meet?

Yes. How did you know?

Mental vibrations.

Excuse me? Telephone call, Mr. Catledge. Your business office in Paris.

Excuse me.

He doesn't make any business decision at all now without consulting Sophie first.

Well, what can I say, Howard? He's a moron.

Incidentally, Stanley, I think, if you could bottle up your sarcasm a little more skillfully, it might help us on our mission.

Howard, we all hope someone will come along with superpowers, but the only superpower certain to show up wears a black robe.

Speak of the devil and superpowers, I think that's her now.

Yeah, there she is.

Mr. Talmudge. Hello.

Taplinger. Hello.

I'm so sorry. Yes.

You're every bit as lovely as you've been described.

Thank you.

Wait.

Don't say anything. I'm getting a mental impression.

Are you from the Orient? The Far East?

China?

Have you been there, or do you visit?

Why do you say China?

I just get that impression.

And what impression is that?

No.

Never mind. It's fading, it's fading.

And you are her sister?

Mother. Mother, are you?

What lovely cheek bones. The apple does not fall far from the tree.

And what do you do, Mr. Taplinger?

I'm... Wait.

Sophie, what impression do you have of Mr. Taplinger's line of work?

I should say Sophie has psychic gifts. Has she?

It's not immediately clear, although I...

I do get some vibrations suggesting that Mr. Taplinger travels a lot.

Well, those are excellent vibrations, but it's not an unreasonable assumption, is it?

I mean, plenty of people travel in their work.

I see Germany. Have you been to Germany?

Matter of fact, I did have some business recently in Berlin.

I'd say, that's pretty damn impressive.

Mr. Burkan, as you may know, is a magician, who was brought here to observe my daughter and find flaws, but has stayed to marvel at her.

Well, what have I stumbled upon?

You never told us what you did, Mr. Taplinger.

Neither did your daughter.

For some reason, my mental impressions are cloudy.

Cloudy. When you say your mental impressions are cloudy, are they cumulus clouds or cirrus?

Mr. Taplinger is a businessman.

What line of business?

The import-export trade.

I see Chinese letters.

Chinese writing.

Perhaps, you're visualizing my laundry ticket.

You're making fun of me.

I'm afraid you're in the wrong part of the world.

I import coffee beans and cocoa from Brazil.

Well, I didn't... Really?

I think it's time we moved along. Sophie's had a strenuous afternoon.

It is rather exhausting communicating with the unseen world.

Well, I'm sure Mr. Taplinger doesn't believe in the unseen world.

On the contrary, I always thought the unseen world was a good place to open a restaurant.

Time to go, Sophie.

The spirits have to eat somewhere.

Mr. Taplinger is rather obnoxious.

Obnoxious, but he's not entirely unappealing.

Congratulations, Stanley, you've managed to alienate the entire household in a single afternoon.

She's nothing I haven't seen before.

Pretty young thing with a stage mother who handles the promotion, and who knows what else when the lights are out at the séance.

I want you to see her working.

More importantly, I want to be there when you expose them.

Well, I mean, she's not even a good actress.

"I... I get the impression of the Orient. China."

What utter bilge.

Well, I thought that was quite good, considering you are Wei Ling Soo and you have just been to Germany.

Yes, it's all very tantalizing.

Careful, she's tricky.

And yet, she's a fraud, Howard.

Because there is no sixth sense. There are five senses, and no spirit world.

But there are coincidences. Maybe she's made some lucky guesses, but we have to be careful not to build them into something more.

Your daughter is going to try to make contact with my dear departed Harry tonight.

Well, she's been waiting for the right moment.

Sophie needs the proper vibrations.

Now, of course, we need to purchase or build an establishment suitable for the operation of our foundation. Of course.

There will be various assorted costs, and naturally, all the students will pay a fee.

And, I assume, profits will go into psychic research?

Most of them.

Minus operating expenses and sundries.

You can count on my support.

I've always known there had to be more to this life than meets the eye.

How could it be that what we see is all there is to everything?

And, that's such a bleak thought.

Why would God go to so much trouble if everything comes to nothing?

Well, Sophie is...

Sophie is living proof that the world is alive with hidden things.

She's such an uplifting creature.

No wonder my son, Brice, is so smitten with her.

I'm always chasing Rainbows Watching clouds Drifting by My schemes Are just like all my dreams Ending in the sky Some fellows look and find the sunshine I always look and find the rain Some fellows make a killing sometime I never even make a gain Believe me I'm always chasing Rainbows Waiting to find a little bluebird in vain

You know that I'm in love with you?

You mustn't give your heart away so quickly.

You looked into my eyes, and without even knowing me, you knew me better than I know myself.

You knew my dreams and my ambitions.

Please, don't tell me you're in love with someone else.

No, no, of course not.

I never had time to fall in love.

Mother and I were always traveling, you know?

Unlike you, we're members of the working class.

That's over.

I'm gonna take care of you and pamper you for the rest of your life.

Do you like to travel? I mean, on yachts?

Do you like to go to parties and buy jewels and clothes and go dancing?

I'm a very good dancer.

I'm sure I could get used to yachts and jewels.

I had an interesting chat with Mr. Taplinger, as he's called.

You did?

Yeah, I'd say he has a classic neurotic personality disorder.

Yeah, brilliant parents who didn't get along, closer to his aunt than his mother, obsessed with mortality, believes in nothing, finds life to have no meaning.

Just a perfect depressive, with everything sublimated into his art, and he is quite an artist.

He began as an escape artist.

Interesting choice if anyone ever wanted to escape from reality.

But, like Freud, he will not permit himself to be seduced by childish thoughts just because they're more comforting.

Very unhappy man.

I like him.

Miss Baker. Hello.

Rested, I presume?

Yes, I had a bath. I had a little nap.

And now, you're refreshed.

Well, no, not entirely. I had an unpleasant dream.

I've had my share.

I dreamt I was being followed by a sinister Chinese.

You have the Far East on the brain.

What do you think it means? I don't know.

Good evening.

I understand you're holding a séance tonight.

She's been waiting for the right moment, and now, she says, "The planets are in alignment."

And what do they have to be in alignment with?

Your vertebrae?

Can you do the séance if someone in the room is a non-believer?

And when you contact the spirits, will we be able to see the souls?

And how are they different from ghosts? Or are they ghosts?

I should think souls are quite different.

Have you ever heard of ectoplasm? Ectoplasm?

Now, isn't that a milky substance rather like yogurt?

You are a joker, aren't you?

So, you're saying it might look like yogurt, but it will be Mrs. Catledge's former husband.

Dinner. Sophie, come to dinner.

Isn't the light perfect, Mother?

Really, what exactly happens at a séance?

You know, I don't believe you're so naive as you make out about the occult.

I will admit, my Uncle Charles once attended a séance where the medium made a lot of amazing things happen, and weeks later, she was unmasked and sent to prison, for defrauding people out of substantial sums of money.

Charles. Uncle Charles.

Death by water.

What did you say?

What? I was just...

I was receiving some mental impressions. Excuse me.

Come, Stanley, let's go to... You look stunned.

I had an uncle who drowned many years ago.

And when I mentioned him, she lapsed into a kind of fugue state and muttered "Death by water."

Well, she knew that my sister married on March the seventh to a bank manager.

There's absolutely no way she could know that unless...

Not you, too, Howard! No!

I'll make short work of her tonight during the séance.

I would like us now to join hands, as we summon the unseen world.

Now, we're here tonight to contact the soul of the departed husband of Grace Catledge, father of Brice and Caroline.

Now, I will try to achieve a trance state.

I'm falling deeper, and deeper, into a trance.

Harry Catledge, give me a sign.

Give us a sign!

Harry?

Is that you, Harry?

Spirit?

Signal us once for "Yes."

Twice for "No."

Harry, are you okay?

Are you happy?

Spirit, if you can hear me, give me a sign.

That's not possible.

I mean, damn it, Stanley, we've both done levitations.

I once raised a real tiger, but we both have our tricks.

There was nothing supporting this candle, no threads, no wires, it was floating until I brought it down.

I was just telling Mr. Pepperidge here how marvelously you made that candle float with no apparent support.

"Apparent," I think, is the key word.

Is it "Pepperidge," or "Talmudge," or "Taplinger?"

Anyway, it was a wonderful, wonderful, super trick.

I mean, I grabbed the candle and found absolutely nothing supporting it.

That's because there's nothing to find.

My daughter is not some commercial music hall attraction.

She doesn't do tricks. She is an adept.

I hope I didn't disappoint you at your first séance.

I found it nothing short of perfection. Well done, madam.

I can't even remember the last time I've seen Mother so happy.

Will you join us?

We're all going to hear some really hot music.

Hot music?

Come on, Sophie, come on. Yeah, we...

I thought you said "All this mental work was exhausting?"

It is, but I love hot music.

Well, I hope you're not plagued tonight by the dream of the sinister Chinese.

You know, I figured out who you represented.

Really? Yes.

When I was much younger, years ago, I went and saw Wei Ling Soo.

Have you heard of him?

He's a Caucasian who disguised himself as a Chinese, and he billed himself as the Great Oriental Wizard.

I see, and did you enjoy his performance?

I did, very much. He was brilliant.

He vanished a live elephant, and it was just...

I mean, it just was completely shocking, but of course, it was mechanical tricks that one could learn with enough practice.

I see. And, your performance?

I wouldn't call it a performance. Well, call it what you will.

I mean, it's a type of trickery, like card magic or vanishing an elephant.

And I say you're Mr. Wei Ling Soo.

And I say there is nothing you can do that I cannot duplicate.

I don't doubt it. You're great.

But just because you can duplicate my miracles, in no way proves that mine are not real.

It was quite a display. I must say, she impresses me.

And you saw no signs of trickery? Not yet.

Well, let's face it, Stanley, you came to unmask her, and she's unmasked you.

On the one side, yes, she's pulling off these bewildering feats, and on the other remains the simple fact that what she's claiming to do, while exquisitely executed, is simply not possible.

But who's to say what's possible?

I'm a physician, and new facts come to light, new discoveries are made all the time.

Things we never dreamed possible.

To cure someone of blindness by having her lie on a couch and talk about her childhood.

I mean, who'd have thought?

Yeah, but don't you see it challenges our whole concept of reality?

I mean, if there's an unseen world, an afterlife, souls to contact, mind reading, oretelling the future...

Yes, it changes everything we've held to be scientifically accurate.

It's true.

If what she claims was possible, everything would surely take on new meaning.

And yes, very hopeful meaning.

To think, if there were more to life...

More what?

That life doesn't end with death? That the universe works by design?

That God exists.

All right, let's not get carried away. The woman is a charlatan.

Because, depressing as the facts of existence are, they are the facts.

There is no metaphysical world.

What you see out there is what you get.

I think Mr. Nietzsche has disposed of the God matter rather convincingly.


Good morning.

May I?

Did you sleep well, Mr. Taplinger?

Or should I just call you by your Chinese name?

You are a very clever little humbug, Miss Baker.

What are you doing today?

I'm going bird-watching with Brice. Do you want to join us?

I can't think of a more inane activity, watching little winged creatures acting out nature's pointless busywork.

Why don't you join me instead?

Where?

I'm driving to Provence to visit my Aunt Vanessa.

She's a remarkable woman.

We could have lunch. Chat?

Actually, get to know one another better.

You think you'll trick me into showing you how I deceive people.

Come on.

I'm sure Brice Catledge can live without drooling all over you for a few hours.

I think I'd like to visit Provence. I've never been there.

Tell me, doesn't it ever trouble your conscience to fool that poor, empty-headed Mrs. Catledge into believing she's communicating with her departed spouse?

I could just as easily ask you, doesn't it ever bother you to creep around, dashing people's dreams and hopes?

Not if their hopes are false.

Even if their hopes are false, if it helps them get through life?

Then you admit you're a fraud?

I wonder if you get your cynicism from your grandfather, the merchant seaman with the missing finger.

The missing toe.

Why are you staring at me?

Where are you from?

Kalamazoo.

It's in Michigan. And, you're from London.

I see a white house in Belgravia.

Fourteen... No, 16.

Wilton Crescent.

A piano.

Yes, that's all correct and rather amazing.

But I don't buy it.

'Cause I'm a rational man who believes in a rational world.

Any other way, lies madness.

You'd be happier if I was a fraud, because then, your whole fixed worldview wouldn't be shaken up.

No, it's quite the opposite.

If you knew how much I don't want you to be a fake...

But think how embarrassing it would be for you.

Your whole life, you spent publicly crusading against spiritualism, and then, you'd have to come out with it and say that you were wrong.

But I'm not wrong.

Is that why Jenny dropped you?

How could you know about Jenny?

I see long, blonde hair.

A wonderful laugh.

Yes, she had a lovely laugh.

But who wants a pessimistic bore who hides in his room all day and practices card tricks?

No, I'll tell you who wants a man who locks himself in his room and practices all day, who's a committed artist. Olivia, my fiancée.

Yes.

Olivia.

I see a match made in heaven.


How can you eat so much? We just finished lunch.

I told you I like to eat a lot.

George's psychoanalyst says it's because I need love, but to me, I'm just hungry.

I mean, a lot of people need love, but they don't eat their way to it.

You want some? No, thank you.

This is so beautiful.

It's transient.

Stanley, how nice of you to drop by.

And you, I take it, must be Olivia.

Olivia? No, no.

Olivia is a brunette.

And she's a bit taller than me, and she's in London, anxious to get on with her trip, so, she can get to work on her book.

I'm Sophie.

You must be the American the Catledges say is so amazing.

Sophie fancies herself a telepathic, among other things, so, be careful what you think, Aunt Vanessa. We all know the evil workings of your mind.

Stanley doesn't believe in spiritualists. He thinks you're all scoundrels.

If so, you're a very pretty little scoundrel.

If you see all and know all, where's my aunt just been?

Somewhere for her health.

I see baths.

Is it sciatica or rheumatism?

It's sciatica, and that is quite remarkable.

How can you know that I've just come back from a spa in Italy?

However she knows, it's not through mystical vibrations, I can assure you.

He's always been so militantly scientific, even at six years old.

One of the most kind and gentle local priests said that Stanley was the only child in the neighborhood destined for Hell.

And why do you still trek to Italy, to pay good money to bathe in plain spring water that is not a drop more medicinal than the water that flows from your own tub?

I'm not going to get into that debate with you, Stanley.

It brings out the beast in you.

And I see you still buy this stupid nostrum.

It's a health mixture. Sulfur, molasses and barley extract.

It's disgusting and is of no proven value. Perhaps if I needed an emetic.

Am I the only sane person left on this planet?

I love him, but he was always an incorrigible child.

Can I give you something?

No, thank you. Just a little wine, if you have any.

We've just eaten. Are those little cakes?

Good heavens, are you seriously going to have more food?

They're delicious. Unbelievable!

Now, tell me something about my Aunt Vanessa's colorful past.

Leave her alone, Stanley. She's not a performing monkey.

Do you have a telephone I could use?

I'm sorry, it's 3:00, and I was supposed to meet Brice for drinks, but I'm never gonna make it.

Brice Catledge is the young milksop who's smitten with her, and ready to lay his family fortune at her feet to subsidize her chicanery.

Can you believe it? He serenades her.

Well, it sounds rather romantic to me, but you wouldn't know about such things, Stanley.

It would mean joining the human race.

Here, it's in the study. Thank you.

Why do you badger her? She's quite likable, even if she is a fraud.

You know, one of the cardinal rules of magic, is that the magician must never repeat his trick, because sooner or later, one begins to notice the move, and he's caught.

But the more I watch her... Yes?

The more I'm stumped.

Could she be real?

I'm beginning to question my own common sense.

I've always questioned your common sense.

You've always been so certain about the world, Stanley.

And I've always tried to teach you that we don't know.

We really don't know.

We're just poor, limited human beings.

The goldfish doesn't understand who changes the water in his bowl.

If only she was real, it would lift the dark cloud that's followed me since childhood.

Well, I'm sure your fiancée would appreciate a sunnier bridegroom.

Olivia likes me as I am. Sophie agrees we're a match made in heaven.

Has she met her?

No, but there, she's guessing correctly.

I told Brice I'd be late.

I said I was just sitting down for some of your blood pudding.

Tell me something about my aunt.

Do you have a handkerchief or an article of clothing, or a piece of jewelry I could use?

My pearls.

These are beautiful.

Yes.

I'm receiving a... It's cloudy.

Cloudy...

Here comes the usual theatrical fertilizer.

I see an important Englishman.

Perhaps a member of Parliament.

Go on.

A love affair. I don't believe this.

You cannot possibly know this.

Something's wrong.

What?

He's married. Aunt Vanessa?

I see a sequence of trysts. I've never told her anything.

He cannot leave his wife.

No, he did not.

And so, you're heartbroken.

Sophie, you are a miracle.

And you vow never to love again.

How does she do it?

You're never to marry.

This is beyond comprehension. I've never known anything like it...

But this is a symbol. This is...

The breakup.

He gave me those on our last evening together.

Sophie. I'm so sorry.

Sophie, is there really a spirit world? Do you really tune in on it?

Is there more? Have I not seen it?

Where have you been all my life?

When did you first realize you had this extraordinary gift?

Very young. My teens.

Well, and you saw it as a way to make money?

Well, my father abandoned us, and we were very poor.

But it's astounding.

I mean, I've always believed that the dull, tragic reality of life is all there is, but you are proof that there's more. More what?

More mystery, more magic.

Will you...

Dear. Boy.

You leave this to me.

I did get a little anxious vibration when the engine started smoking back there.

Don't worry, I'm gonna have a look at this.

I actually have an inkling as to what this might be.

What are you gonna do?

Yes, not to worry. I think it's the... I'm actually...

I'm actually rather good at dealing with anything mechanical.

I don't understand it!

I put the entire engine back together, and I still have these two pieces.

This doesn't make any sense.

If I can just get these back into here... You should hurry. It's gonna rain.

Don't worry, it's not going to rain.

No, I think I can feel it already.

No, the skies are clear... We gotta put the top up.

I have to be able to do this... We have to put the top up.

It's raining. No, please just give me a minute.

Stanley, come on... If I can only put this in here.

We have to put the top up. Come here! All right.

You can't put the top up without taking this off.

What? How are you gonna do it without the...

The canopy has to come off. Okay, okay.

Okay, lift! Pull!

It's stuck, it's stuck! All right.

No, don't do that. You'll break it, you'll break it...

It's lightning, it's lightning. We'll be killed.

There must be a catch somewhere. What do we do?

Get under the car! God, I don't want to go under the car!

It's fine. It's on four rubber wheels! It can't get struck by lightning!

Just go under there! No!

We're gonna die!

Run! Run! Run?

Stanley!

Come now, I've got you.

I've got you. Okay.

My God! God, we're gonna die.

I know this place! What?

I can... I know this place!

How? We can go in there.

Let's run! Go! Come on.

Will it be open? Well, it'll be open!

It always used to be open.

Goodness! I found that rather exhilarating. Did you see that lightning?

Goodness me.

I can't believe I found this place.

What is this? It's an observatory.

I came here as a boy. Thank God we found it.

We just got a little wet. It's water.

Are you kidding? We could've been struck by lightning.

We could die of pneumonia.

I'm sure your fiancée wouldn't be too pleased.

Well, this would never have happened if Olivia was here.

No?

She's too competent. She'd have fixed the car.

Is she also a mechanic?

Well, she's one of those people who's good at everything.

How lucky for you.

Yes, yes. That's...

I suppose so.

What are you staring at?

You have no idea how miserable you look.

I'm freezing. I mean, the...

Can you hold me, or something?

I can offer you my waistcoat.

No, you're wetter than I am.

Just put an arm around me, or you know... Body heat, it's...

My aunt used to bring me here as a boy.

The roof opens up.

Really?

You can see the universe.

It's menacing.

Can you open it?

I hardly think that's the brightest idea at the moment.

We just ran away from that. It's still up there. - Right, right.

Just have to wait it out.

What was so menacing about the universe?

The size.

Of course, I was much smaller, then.

Poor Howard's car.

Are you a little warmer now?

Tell me, with all your powers of prognostication, could you have ever predicted, when you first saw me vanishing an elephant onstage in my Chinese ensemble, that you and I would one day end up in a deserted celestial observatory in a rainstorm in the south of France?

It's highly ironic.

It's morbid.

I feel sleepy. I'm going to have a little nap.

The rain stopped.

It stopped a while ago. I didn't want to wake you.

You looked too peaceful sleeping.

Yes, it's the first peaceful sleep I've had in a very long time.

Does this thing open the roof?

Yes, let me show you. I've never forgotten this.

You find that menacing?

No.

I'd say it was pretty romantic.

Who stole my heart away Who makes me dream all day Dreams I know can never come true Seems as though I'll never be blue Who Means my happiness Who Would I answer yes to Well, you ought to guess who Who?

No one, but you Penny for your thoughts.

Nothing.

Well, you know what my thoughts are? I've already told you I want to marry you.

That we'll get married at summer's end at the Donaldsons' yacht.

It's enormous, and it can accommodate all the guests we'd want to have.

And then after the wedding, we sail it, with those who wish, from Monaco to Greece, and then we honeymoon on the Greek Islands.

What do you think?

That's pretty swanky stuff for a girl from Kalamazoo.

And then we'll live in Europe.

You'll run your foundation. You'll be world-famous.

I'll be so proud of you.

You know, my mom has been so happy since you've been here.

Before you came, she was so glum, and now she's all aglow.

Pierre! Bring the boxes up to mademoiselle's room. Merci!

What are those?

Well, you know those dresses you were fawning over when we walked through town?

I got them for you. All of them.

I told you I was gonna pamper you.

Who?

Shall I sell the beach house on the Jersey Shore?

Then, I won't.

I really didn't want to. It has such sentimental meaning.

I'm so glad you said that, Harry.

Go on.

Harry, I hope this question doesn't embarrass you, but I have to ask it.

Were you always faithful to me?

I knew it!

Certain so-called friends of mine suggested otherwise, that you had a long affair with Sally Summers.

No, I really didn't believe it.

But I'm ashamed to admit, I did wonder.

Harry...

I'm so relieved to know that I was the only one.

I was the only one, wasn't I?

How wonderful you make me feel.

Well, look who's strolling the grounds this morning!

Why aren't you in your room, practicing?

I'm too excited to lock myself away.

What are you and Brice up to?

Brice is away for the week, in Paris.

Mother and I are going swimming.

I'm sure swimming isn't your favorite pastime.

Nonsense. I accept your invitation.

Just need to buy a bathing suit, and I'll, meet you by the pool.

We're not going to the pool.

We prefer to swim off the rocks.

The rocks? Even better.

Live dangerously, I say. You only live once.

Or maybe two or three times, depending on your supply of ectoplasm.

You are a much better swimmer than I would have imagined.

I'm also a much better dancer.

Really? You must take me dancing sometime.

Perhaps I shall, now that life is no longer weary, stale, flat and unprofitable.

That's from something.

Is that Dickens?

Dear, poor thing.

Madam, your wunderkind has much catching up to do.

Isn't that Dickens?

That's Dickens.


The Seventh is actually one of my favorites of Beethoven's symphonies, but if you haven't heard them, the string quartets are sublime.

Especially the late ones, the... the 15th and the 16th.

Of course, they are rather intellectually demanding, but that's the thing about intelligence.

You must never despair.

Yours can be raised.

You know, it's extraordinary.

I have smelled these flowers a hundred times, and yet I have never really smelled them until now.

What a pity.

All the rest of the human race that you consider boobs, smelling flowers and you all left out.

Now, wait. Yes.

They... They've enjoyed, but mindlessly, because they never thought. They never... They never stopped for a moment to consider what a rotten deal it all appears to be.

To be born, to have committed no crime, and yet to be sentenced to death.

But notice I say, "Appears to be."

Alvin, hello. It's Stanley Crawford.

Yes, Wei Ling Crawford.

How are you?

Good, splendid.

Listen, Alvin, I have the story of a lifetime for your paper and I wanted you to have it first.

No... Well, yes, it is a...

It's a theatrical piece, but it's... It's much more than that, much more.

It's science, it's...

It's philosophy, it's religion.

Brice is coming home tonight from Paris.

The week went so fast.

Have you decided to accept Brice's marriage proposal?

Well, he is pushing me very hard.

Well, I'd grab it if I were you.

I mean, it'd be logical.

An uneducated nobody from some ridiculous-sounding city, gifted, miraculously, through no achievement of your own, and now you've developed a taste for high living...

Yachts, motorcars.

You know, Stanley, I'm not quite as desperate as you make me out to be.

There have actually been a number of...

I don't know, substantial men who have fallen in love with me.

Really?

Well, you could've fooled me.

Although, with the ability you have, one does automatically become intriguing...

And you do have agreeable features, but it's your gift, I'm sure, which is...

Well, I wouldn't say charming, but it is impressive.

I mean, even you just said I have agreeable features.

They're more than agreeable.

Provided the light hits you just so.

Can I ask what time of day that might be?

Just in case I ever need to look my best for a job interview?

Dusk. You're prettiest at about 8:20 in the summer, when the light is fading.

I see, the light must be fading, so that I'm not too visible.

Exactly. I'm thinking when I do the vanishing elephant trick, you must be lit precisely as I light the elephant.

I don't think I'll pursue that.

You coming to the ball, at the palace?

Of course I am.

My whole life I've wanted to go to a ball like that.

Do you have a date?

I do, indeed.

I'm going with the most charming woman in the south of France.

My Aunt Vanessa.

I like her.

I am going to dance and drink and enjoy all the things you have brought to my life.

Maybe you and I can even have a dance together.


Didn't you say that we might have a dance together?

Your mental vibrations told you my feet are killing me.

Please, be my guest.

She so appreciates your support.

Aunt Vanessa?


You know that you're the only person tonight who hasn't made a comment on my appearance.

I'm overwhelmed, Sophie.

I never dreamed you could look this beautiful.

That's more like it.

You must have moved mountains to achieve this effect.

Thanks.

And this is all without the added benefit of the lighting that you give your elephant.

You know, tomorrow I'm doing that press conference about you.

Tell me, Stanley.

Apart from my gift, which has changed your life so...

Have you not, in the...

In the time that we've spent together, had any other...

Thoughts about me?

Well, I've already told you, I'm in awe of you.

I don't mean as a mystic.

I'm...

I mean as a woman.

As a woman?

What an odd question.

I've never technically regarded you as a woman.

You were a charlatan who turned the tables on me, and now I feel both humbled and proud.

You're proud of me?

You? No, I'm proud of myself for being big enough to admit that I was wrong and foolish all these years.

I've been rather snobbish and... And rude.

Condescending about other people's faith.

So you never thought about me as a female?

Well, I was always certain you were not of my sex, if that's what you're asking.

And quite good to look at.

I mean, comparatively.

I've exposed some pretty unattractive mediums, a number of horrible-looking creatures.

You do understand, I'm seriously considering marrying Brice Catledge?

Well, I think you'd be insane not to.

You don't see it as...

A little hasty of me?

Well, it's you who can foretell the future, and I'm sure your vibrations are very positive.

And common sense would say that this man is a tremendous catch for you.

Far beyond what you could hope, given your trivial resume.

And of course, now that you're emerging as a...

As a phenomenon, you'll always be able to do quite well, financially, although nothing like the Catledge fortune.

And most of your time will be spent with your...

Your foundation, where he'll be a great help.

So the time that we've spent together, has just had...

Had no impact on you...

Whatsoever?

I say, don't...

You don't tell me you're experiencing romantic feelings for me?

What if I was?

Well, that's absurd.

You... You... You imagined that you and I...

Isn't it enough you've opened my eyes to the joy of living?

I mean, you've conquered my mind.

Do you, do you also need to conquer my heart?

I just thought, in the time that we had spent together...

That you...

Don't misunderstand me. I...

I hold you in the highest possible esteem, and tomorrow, I am prepared to tell the world as much.

Excuse me.

There you are, Stanley.

I don't know about you, but I danced till dawn.

Can you believe the little medium has grown fond of me?

Well, why shouldn't she? According to the newspapers, you're her greatest press agent.

No, no, I mean, I mean, she's emotionally taken with me.

I believe she fancies herself falling in love with me.

But you're both spoken for.

I know. It defies all reason.

She's on the verge of capturing a rich young man, dullard that he is.

And Olivia and I are, by her own vibrations, the acme of congruity.

Well, it seems you've given the matter some thought.

I was rather taken aback.

She is looking rather stunning this evening.

Yes, to be sure.

She did make a rather surprising entrance.

Come, I've got to drive back to Provence, and you have some journalists to see in a few hours.

How did you first discover Miss Baker?

I came to unmask her, as I have done countless others, but after trying every which way, came to the indisputable conclusion that she is a genuine medium.

How can you be so certain she's authentic?

I know all the tricks.

Conjuring is my life's passion.

Debunking fake mediums, my specialty.

What are her plans for the future?

She plans to start a foundation and a school for teaching the occult.

How does it feel to be wrong all these years about the occult?

Well, on the one side, I'm embarrassed, but also thrilled to finally be able to take a deep breath and see new possibilities in life.

So, it is fair to say that you feel the world is not as rational and predictable as you've always so adamantly, and sometimes insultingly, claimed?

I deserve your criticism, I know.

I've always been a rational man with a great faith in science.

What can I say?

But it would appear that perhaps, to say I believe in the dignity of man is simply not enough.

Even as a baby, it was clear from the very beginning that she was a special child.

It's gonna be a world-class foundation.

Yes, there'll be students from all over the world.

You have to see her.

They are very close friends of mine. I came at once, but she stumped me, so I brought in Mr. Wei Ling Soo under an alias to unmask her.

Now you see the result.

And damned if he isn't her biggest fan.

There you are. Excuse me.

I have some seriously distressing news. What?

Your aunt's been in a serious automobile accident.

What happened? Is she all right?

She's in critical condition at the hospital. I need to get there.

Yes, of course, I'll drive you. Do you want me...

To come with you? I know the way...

Jacques.

Bonjour, George.

This is Stanley. Yes, how do you do?

So, how's she doing? What's happening?

What was... En anglais.

She's in the operating room now.

Everyone is doing his best.

So what do you think? Is she going to be all right?

At this moment, it's touch-and-go.

Touch-and-go?

You... You can wait there, if you want.

Touch-and-go. You're in surgery with her?

Yeah, I know.

Now, don't worry. They have an excellent staff here.

You know, she's an incredible woman.

She practically raised me.

She's been through a lot in her life.

Sit down. Let me get you some tea.

No, I'm too shaken up for tea.

Well, perhaps I can scare up a whiskey?

Better idea.

You know, she shouldn't be allowed to drive at her age.

Well, it's in the hands of the doctors now.

I know how helpless one feels, but all you can do is just keep calm and pray.

Yes.

The power of prayer.

Always ridiculed it. As have I.

And yet, some people swear by it.

You know, I know this sounds crass, particularly coming from me, a man of science, but...

If the worst happens, at least through Sophie, you'll be able to contact her spirit.

Yes.

Yes, that's comforting, isn't it?

Yes.

I never thought I'd say it, but yes.

Well, you buck up, and I will find that whiskey.


I don't know if you can hear me

and I haven't always led an exemplary life. I've...

I've not only been a skeptic, a non-believer, but been much worse...

A man with contempt for...

For people who give themselves over to the idea that...

That there's some kind of benevolent father figure up there.

I've always said it was childish, wishful thinking, strictly for primitives, all these, all these hopes about a...

A purpose for life, a larger meaning.

That all our suffering will somehow accrue to some...

Greater plan.

But if what I see of late is real then I don't have all the answers.

It's possible, even logical, that...

We are here by design, to search some higher ideal.

And that you...

Could be real.

And although I have no right to expect anything, my aunt, whom I love, is in mortal danger.

And so, I ask you...

I ask you...

Wait a minute.

This is the stupidest load of twaddle I have ever heard.

My common sense tells me, I'm falling into a seductive morass of sugarcoated claptrap because I want my aunt to be all right.

That girl...

Is a fake.

I told you the surgeons were wonderful.

Should I not stay?

Well, there's nothing for you to do here.

She's sleeping comfortably. She responded well to the drugs.

The surgery went beautifully. She's out of danger.

You know, after you left, I began to pray for her.

Really?

Then I rejected the entire notion as pure poppycock.

And that includes Miss Sophie Baker.

Is that right?

Well, if Sophie is a fraud, then how does she do what she does?


Stanley!

We were all so worried. So worried!

You can imagine how anxious we were about your Aunt Vanessa.

Yes! Thank God!

Madam, I can assure you, God had nothing to do with it.

She had good doctors.

Yeah, we have all been on tenterhooks, Stanley.

Well, couldn't Sophie have predicted the outcome and put all your minds at ease?

Me? I didn't even know.

I was so mobbed by all the press, I...

If I had known, I would have gone with you to the hospital.

Well, it's all over.

And, "All's well that ends well."

That's not Dickens.

Well, now that everything's ended well, shall we repair to the garden?

Brice? Mrs. Baker? Me? Great idea.

I'm so excited about the further details of the foundation.

I want to talk over... Actually, there are a few financial details...

Mother, I'm just gonna stay here.

And thank you, by the way.

And I really want to go into some detail about how much...

Stanley, I can't imagine what has been going through your mind.

I mean, Aunt Vanessa's such a dear woman.

Yes, well, a man in a hospital waiting room while a loved one is under the knife has many feverish thoughts.

I imagined that if I prayed my prayers might be heard.

You thought of praying?

I never imagined I would hear those words.

And my ace in the hole, so to speak, was that...

Even if the worst had happened and Aunt Vanessa had sadly passed away, you could always put me in touch with her in the spirit world, and that...

That rather put a smile on my face.

Well, in the end, she pulled through.

Well, you look exhausted.

Well, can you blame me?

What I need now is a good bath and a nap and...

So, if you'll excuse me... Yes, of course.

Stanley...

I'm so relieved about Aunt Vanessa.

She's such a marvelous woman.

Yeah, she's so lovely.

We should break open the champagne.

We should celebrate.

Aunt Vanessa's recovered. Not to mention that I find this whole thing a most rewarding experience.

You feel no remorse?

Why should I feel remorse?

Hoodwinking a lifelong friend.

I see it quite differently.

Hoodwinking is what we do.

Now, you've got to understand that since we were boys, I have played second fiddle to that egomaniacal, self-regarding...

Genius.

Yeah, he's a genius at what he does, and I turned out to be a mere mortal.

But now, after years of trailing in his wake, and I admit, some envy and resentment, I have finally put one over the great Wei Ling Soo.

I have fooled the man who could not be fooled.

Not quite, Howard.

How did... You admired this effect when you saw my show in Berlin.

I said I'd teach it to you if you behaved yourself, but you have not behaved.

It's a trick, Sophie.

I don't really dematerialize and reassemble my ectoplasm any more than you contact spirits or read minds.

Stanley, I can explain...

I watched you so closely.

Howard watched your mother, but who watched Howard?

You were free to rap on the table.

You seized the floating candle, you swore there were no wires making it float, and I took you at your word.

You were free to rap once for yes, twice for no.

And when Sophie excused herself at my aunt's to make a telephone call, she called you and you fed her information about my aunt.

At first, I couldn't believe you would betray me like that.

But, as you know, I am a misanthrope.

And that people do unconscionable things does not run counter to my normal view of humanity.

As boys, we both chose magic as our calling.

We both practiced day and night, I as much as you.

My skill was the equal of yours, and yet, you emerged onto the world stage as the great artist.

But it wasn't fair.

Life's not fair, Howard.

In fact, as a general rule, as I've often said, it's pretty nasty.

Because of Sophie, I began to succumb to magical thinking.

And for a while, I was actually happy.

But I was happy as a fool is happy.

Happiness is not the natural human condition.

And incidentally, you never practiced as much as I did, and your skill was never equal to mine.

Stanley, I'm sorry, I'm sorry...

I ran into Howard here when he was sent to expose me, and he...

He did expose me, quite easily.

But we made this private pact to do this scheme, and I only agreed because it meant so much to Mom and me.

I view your behavior as...

A great man views the malicious mischief of...

What shall we say, pygmy?

You're a fake.

As I always should have known, and did, in my heart.

I only wish I hadn't wasted so much time with you.

Well, now you're just being a pompous stick in the mud.

We played an elaborate joke on you, Stanley.

No one was harmed.

My reputation will suffer, and you played me for a fool.

Your reputation is all ego!

I've...

Yes, yes, things got out of hand, but no awful thing happened.

I mean, you were... You were happy.

And you enjoyed life for once.

You saw the world as optimists see the world.

And we had some laughs together, so don't...

Say that you wasted your time with me.

What would you have been doing?

Sitting in your room and shuffling cards in front of a mirror?

All my optimism was an illusion.

Well, I started reading that book by that German philosopher, you know, that you gave me?

I didn't really understand much of it, but he said that we need our illusions to live.

You mean lies.

You were much happier when you let some lies into your life, Stanley.

Think about it, Stanley, do you really want to ruin the peace of mind Grace Catledge has, secure in the knowledge that she is her husband's only love?

We can't go around deluding ourselves.

But we must.

If we're to get through life.

I mean, I didn't say it, I'm just quoting, you know, Mister...

Nietzsche.

And, in the end, who really knows what's real and what's not? Well, it's quite clear what's real, my praying for my aunt was poppycock, the doctor's skill was real.

No. You will never know that, because George, Caroline's husband, the psychoanalyst, told me that he was praying for your aunt, too.

And so we don't know if maybe it was his prayers that got answered.

Maybe the angels like him better.

I won't dignify this conversation any longer.

I'm going to go and visit my Aunt Vanessa until she's on her feet, and then good-bye.

And you won't forgive me?

Well, I can't forgive you.

Only God can forgive you.

But you said there is no God.

Precisely my point.


It's good to be home.

More robust than ever, I'll wager.

"What doesn't kill me...

"Makes me stronger." A great man said that.

Not the "God is dead" fellow.

The very same. Nevertheless, I think he was wrong.

What doesn't kill us often knocks the hell out of us.

Well, sometimes a close call wakes a person up.

I've had another idea for our honeymoon.

What if, after the Greek Islands, we set sail for the South Seas.

I've always wanted to visit Bora-Bora.

Would that interest you?

I've never... I've never heard of it, but the name sounds pretty exotic.

Exotic?

I love how you pick always the exact right word.

Yes, of course, Olivia. I'll be home in a few days.

I just have to see that Aunt Vanessa is up and running, and I have one or two press interviews I have to do.

Some things need to be smoothed over.

This is where I could use your tact.

Yes, of course. Yes.

Bye, darling.

I bet you'll be glad to get back to London and put all this behind you.

You might enjoy the Galapagos.

You're a great admirer of Darwin's.

Big turtles. Yes, I suppose so.

And of course, you must miss Olivia.

A very fine woman. I can tell that from her photographs.

Such elegance and style.

Absolutely perfect for a man of your taste.

Well, yes, it's, there's no question.

We're ideally suited.

A very... And you need a well-educated woman to keep up with you.

And she's quite attractive, to boot.

Yes, yes, it's very easy to see us side by side through life's journey.

A very handsome couple indeed.

Yes, there's no question. We're ideally suited.

As you would say.

A quite rational choice.

I mean, it's not entirely cerebral.

I mean, I do love her.

What are you suggesting?

Suggesting? In the nuance of your tone?

Of course I love her.

Or are you saying you think I've come to love Sophie Baker?

Me? I never mentioned Sophie.

Well, I thought you were heading there.

Sophie Baker? The little fake who played you for a dupe?

Exactly. That wretch.

Why would I suggest you've fallen in love with Sophie?

Well, you might.

I never know what goes on in that devious mind of yours.

The very idea of you and that specious American telepathic.

Well, I know it defies all reason.

You, a creature of reason. A man of intellect.

To be sure. Certainly not trivial.

No, to say the least.

And she's hardly in the same class as Olivia.

The comparison makes me laugh.

Olivia is a person of accomplishment and charm.

Sophie's a street finagler who makes her way living off one bit of hokum to the next.

Well, I don't see how you can compare the two.

Well, don't put ideas into my head!

Well, far be it from me.

Of course, she does come from dire circumstances.

I mean, it's very easy to be judgmental about people who are born into circumstances less fortunate than one's own.

Life is harsh.

One must do what one must to survive.

Well put.

And people do sometimes make the wrong choices, which they regret, even though no serious harm was done.

Which of us has not made some blunders in life?

And there is a rather appealing quality about Sophie.

Despite her disgusting behavior.

Yes, her smile is rather winning.

Of course, it depends how much value you put on the purely physical.

Well, no, I...

I, for one, esteem the higher virtues.

Beauty of the soul.

Although her eyes are rather pleasant to look into.

And that she can be amusing, under the right circumstances.

But Olivia is an educated, cultivated woman.

One that befits a man of your artistic genius.

Yes, now, my genius must be factored in.

On paper, there's really no reason to prefer Sophie to Olivia.

Well, I would say the opposite.

And so your suggestion that I, I be honest with Olivia and tell her that irrational as it seems, I've fallen in love with Sophie...

That's a preposterous notion.

It's lunacy.

Yet I can't help feeling that...

That you love Sophie.

Yes, I understand.

You're puzzled and bewildered because your foolish logic tells you that you should love Olivia.

Foolish logic?

And yet, how little that logic means when placed next to Sophie's smile.

What are you saying?

That the world may or may not be without purpose, but it's not totally without some kind of magic.

I have irrational positive feelings for Sophie Baker.

It's like witnessing a trick I can't figure out.

I wouldn't try to figure it out. I'd simply move on it.

Word is, she's already accepted Brice Catledge's proposal.

Taken to reading the great books?

Yes.

Well, you once said not to despair.

There's hope for my brain.

Perhaps I was a bit caustic.

But you will admit you were guilty of some rather sleazy doings.

Yes, well, those days are over.

I no longer have to worry about where to sleep and how to eat.

I take it Brice Catledge has made a serious marriage proposal?

Yes.

A very tempting one.

Wouldn't you agree?

Yes, I suppose so.

But I'm here to make you a more tempting one.

More tempting than this?

I came to say that for some inexplicable reason that defies common sense and human understanding, that I have, of late, experienced some small...

Quite small, but discernible inner stirrings regarding your smile.

How magnanimous of you.

Yes, I thought you'd think so.

And possessing a soul which is large and capable of complexity, as all great minds are, I have decided to forgive you and take you under my wing.

Your wing?

It's a saying. Obviously, I don't have wings.

I only mean that...

Incredible as it sounds, and this is no small gesture, given the time wasted and the public embarrassment you've caused me, that I'm...

Willing to take you back.

Take me back where?

Under the moon in the observatory.

I regretted what I was doing, but I was too inept to change course, and I apologize.

Really.

And I accept your forgiveness.

I understand that it's very generous of you, and I have to be going.

Going? I haven't said what I came for.

Well, then just say it and go, because I have a dinner to go to with my fiancé.

I'm here to say that in spite of everything, I am willing to consider marrying you.

What? Naturally, you can't believe your good fortune. I appreciate that.

Stanley, brilliant as you are with a deck of cards, you are terrible at proposing.

I've never proposed before. Really?

Not even to your fiancée?

She proposed marriage.

The truth is I've never really felt the urge to propose before.

Use your head!

We're not a match made in heaven, and as you've said before many times, when the heart rules the head, disaster follows.

But the fact is...

I love you.

And somewhere in your confused, black, little criminal's heart, you care for me.

I'm marrying Brice Catledge.

You advised me to.

You must never take my advice.

I'm a major eccentric.

You know, Brice adores me, and he offers me a life of travel and excitement and high living. No, no, he worships you, and you don't want to be worshiped.

You'll be bored.

Sailing to the Greek Islands?

And Bora-Bora?

Well, they're just, they're just rocks in the ocean!

It's who you go with!

Do you want to spend the rest of your life with a man who plays the ukulele and croons to you?

You know I like you very much, Stanley.

I even began falling in love with you.

But when you went on to show me how irrational it was, and then you proved it with geometrical logic. No...

Geometry was never my strong subject.

After all, what can you offer me?

Grumpy moods?

Insults?

Pessimistic grumbling about how awful life is for all of us?

Well, around you, I'm not gloomy.

That's only because I fooled you into thinking that there's more to life than meets the eye.

No, no, I have not lost my pessimism, but you are like an oasis in the grim desert.

And as far as what I can offer you, life with a brilliant and witty genius.

I have to go.

No, this is your last offer.

You must not be an ingrate.

Good-bye, Stanley.

I will not stand around here, cap in hand, waiting for some halfpenny con artist to be my bride!

This is it. You don't agree now, offer's off the table.

Do you hear me?

You irritating Lilliputian!

You're throwing away your passport to paradise!

Can you forgive me, Stanley?

I have forgiven you, Howard, as I've forgiven Sophie.

I agree, I needed a pie in the face.

Well, I saw a side of you in this I've never seen before.

It was refreshing.

Even now, Sophie's smile still penetrates my soul.

Now you believe we have souls?

No, I believe each of us must find a reason to truly embrace life, and for me, Sophie is that reason.

Well, if nothing else, it's made you certain it would've been a mistake to marry Olivia.

I spoke to Olivia on the telephone.

She's much less upset than I'd anticipated.

Very calm, very reasonable.

She's in the Galapagos.

She said she was disappointed, but she understood that these things happen, and if I was still going to feel this way when I returned, it's much better we found out now.

What a lovely, rational human being.

I should look her up.

She's bright, pretty, she likes magicians.


Well, how did it go?

Can you believe she turned me down?

Poor Stanley.

That scamp could've had me, but instead, she chose Brice Catledge.

Well, he is very rich and good-looking.

She'd have been happier with me.

So in the end, you lost her.

It's sad, because...

There really was something between us.

Some chemistry. Some magic.

And I say chemistry or magic because...

I believe I actually loved her from the first...

First moment I laid eyes on her.

Well, love at first sight is a kind of magic, isn't it?

You need a drink. What will you have?

A scotch, please.

In the end, she proved to be a fool.

You mean to choose that handsome young millionaire over you?

Well, she may come to her senses.

Women do change their mind about such things.

Well, it's too late... I've taken the offer off the table.

I'll not let myself be pushed around by big eyes and a smile.

Although she's much more.

But she had her chance, and she said no.

You mean if she changed her mind, you wouldn't accept her?

It's too late.

You can't be that stubborn.

Well, I suppose if she woke up and realized how happy she'd be with me, how much more fun she'd have in life, how much I'd come to love her.

She gave nothing back.

She gave you no sign at all that she cared?

If she'd given me a sign, I'd have taken her in my arms, carried her off and married her.

All I was looking for was one sign.

Sophie?