The Barefoot Contessa (1954) Script

I suppose that when you've spent most of your life in one profession, you develop what could be called an occupational point of view.

So, maybe I can be forgiven for the first thing I thought of that morning.

Because I found myself thinking that the staging and the setting, even the lighting of Maria's funeral, were just what she would have wanted.

My name is Harry Dawes.

I've been a writer and a director of movies for longer than I like to remember.

I go way back, back to when the movies had two dimensions, and one dimension, and sometimes no dimension at all.

I wrote and directed all three of the movies Maria Damata was in.

Her short, full career, from start to finish.

I wrote it and directed it, on the screen, that is.

What was I doing there?

The Fates or the Furies or whoever wrote and directed her short, full life, they took care of that.

Anyway, there I stood, halfway around the world from Hollywood and Vine, in a little graveyard near Rapallo, Italy, watching them bury the Contessa Torlato-Favrini in grounds she never heard of six months ago, with a stone statue to mark the spot.

Life, every now and then, behaves as if it had seen too many bad movies.

When everything fits too well.

The beginning, the middle and the end.

From fade-in to fade-out.

And where I faded in, the Contessa was not a contessa.

She wasn't even a movie star named Maria Damata.

Where I faded in, her name was Maria Vargas and she danced in a nightclub in Madrid, Spain.

Ole'!

Ole'!


And so, once upon a time, three years ago, we came to Madrid to a not-very-fashionable nightclub to see Maria Vargas dance.

Let me tell you who we were.

The man with the sweaty face and the frightened eyes was and is Oscar Muldoon.

He's a public relations counselor, which can be many things, some of them punishable by law.

The blond was made in Hollywood, USA.

Her name was Myrna, and she traveled.

I was a writer and or director who hadn't been doing too well.

We were all in the employ of Kirk Edwards.

Meet Kirk Edwards.

You're saying to yourself, "So that's what he looks like.

"That's what a man looks like whose grandfather made good, "whose mother left him with 200 million dollars.

"Poor little rich boy."

Don't feel sorry for Kirk Edwards, not unless you're a hungry psychiatrist.

Kirk was producing a motion picture, his first.

He had as much in common with anything creative as I have with nuclear physics.

Well, we'd been scouting for what is called, delicately, a new face.

By most standards, flying all the way to Madrid to look for a new face would seem like going to a lot of trouble.

But I've known movie producers who would travel even further for a good smoked Whitefish.

Hey, um...

Hey, Mac.

Si, señor.

How come the band is taking a break?

Please. No meaning.

Signorina.

Señorita.

You're in Spain now, buster.

Señorita what's this, uh, Maria Vargas.

She does not dance no more?

No more, señor.

You mean, she dance only one time, then finito?

One “me, then finito.

Well, maybe she could dance one more time, just for tonight, huh?

She never dance more. One time and no more.

Well, why you not make her dance more?

You the boss, huh?

It's Maria Vargas!

Nobody boss Maria Vargas.

Funny, I always thought a woman was a two-time thing.

Sing it, Oscar.

Oscar, have her come to the table.

I'm very sorry, sefion but señorita Vargas does not s“ at the tables with the guests.

Now, I'm sure, you don't you consider Mr. Kirk Edwards just an ordinary guest.

Well, I have said, it is not possible with señorita Vargas.

Maybe just this once for Mr. Kirk Edwards, you could make an exception to your rule.

Well, it's not my rule.

Is rule of señorita Vargas.

I'm sorry. Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen. Excuse me.

Oscar, go get her.

We'll be right back.

You haven't had much to say this trip, Harry.

I counted on you for laughs, some of your well-known, bright remarks.

Maybe going on the wagon makes a man dull.

Could be.

Oscar hasn't touched his whiskey.

No, thanks.

How long has it been?

Five months next Tuesday.

Let that be a lesson to you, Myrna.

It's never too late to develop character.

I've got time.

The fact that you don't drink at all, Kirk, is the greatest argument for drunkenness I know.

You want to know why I went on the wagon when I went to work for you?

'Cause I didn't want you around when my brain was befuddled.

First thing I know, you might buy my soul.

You can't buy people's souls.

They belong to God.

What's "champagne" in Spanish?

Wait till Oscar gets back.

Not always, Kirk. Sometimes it's quite a tussle.

You remember Faust?

I don't believe I do.

Faust was something like you, Kirk, except that instead of having all the money in the world, he had all the knowledge.

But the one thing he never knew, like you, was a moment of real happiness, so, he made a deal with the devil.

He'd trade his soul to the devil in return for that one moment of real happiness.

How'd it turn out?

Well, God fought the devil for the soul of Faust.

It was a close fight.

Most people think God won.

I personally always thought it wound up a draw.

I think it's a silly story.

No man with all that money and knowledge could never have been happy for a moment.

Sure, it's a silly story.

Can you ever imagine Kirk being in a spot like that?

Worse come to worst, he'd just buy God.

A woman who drinks is bad enough and I will not stand for a woman cursing and blaspheming God.

Now, get out of here.

Right now! Get out!

This is Madrid in Spain, not Sunset Boulevard.

We flew from Rome in your private plane, remember?

Then let her find her own way back.

There must be other planes, trains, buses. Give her some money.

Is she changing?

Then why didn't you bring her with you?

She don't sit at the tables with the customers.

Did you talk to her?

Through the door. She opened it that wide.

That fellow in Rome was right.

Her English ain't bad.

Did you tell her what it was all about?

She knew, and she knew who you were.

She don't sit at the tables with the customers.

One of the waiters tells me she's got quite a reputation for not mingling.

Do you suppose that just this once you might have to go yourself?

This time I want you to go.

Sorry, my contract and the bylaws of my various guilds call for me to render my services for you as a writer and a director.

I'm not required to do your public relations.

Look who's suddenly a candidate for the Christopher Award!

Oscar. A washed up ex-drunk who's fallen on his face in front of half the extras in central casting.

Shut up, Oscar.

Now, this is as good a time as any, Harry, to get our relationship straight once and for all.

You're working for me. I'm paying you.

That means only one thing to me, whether you're a director or a janitor in one of my plants.

I'm your boss.

I'm also perfectly willing and able to cancel this entire production right now, and pay you off and write you off.

The government will be paying for most of it anyway.

With Oscar's help, I can let it be known your script wasn't worth shooting, and that you were in no condition to shoot it.

Maybe you went off the wagon, who knows?

The majors aren't wanting you, anyway.

If I can't afford you as an independent, who can?

All that, just to meet a new face.

All that because I want you to do what I say, even if it's picking up my hat when I tell you to.

Give me some money, Oscar, enough to get back to Rome.

I'll ad lib the rest of the way.

Why don't you come, too, Harry?

You might as well put whiskey in that.

And don't worry about your souL You must have lost it at some preview, a long time ago.

Um... Huh?

Señorita Vargas?

Oh, gracias.


Señorita? Your bare feet are showing.

Now, I don't speak Spanish. You do speak English.

So the only way we can make any progress is to...

I did not say to come in.

You did not say to stay out.

You did not actually say nothing.

Anything.

Your English is very good.

Where'd you learn it?

This man, he is my cousin.

This man, he is your cousin?

Did you come to see me for the same reason as the man with sweat on his face?

Well, yes, but as you see, I have no sweat on my face, so Mr. Kirk Edwards thought I might be able to persuade you to...

I do not mingle with the customers.

Only your cousin?

The man with the sweat was more pleasant than you.

Well, not really.

Do you know who Mr. Kirk Edwards is?

I have heard of him.

He is the owner of Texas.

That is correct.

Recently, however, Mr. Edwards decided to produce motion pictures.

So, for that purpose, he's just bought California, too.

And now, he wants to buy me?

Not exactly.

Mr. Kirk Edwards is looking for somebody like you to play in his first production.

He wants to talk to you about it.

Who are you?

Oh, I'm not important. I'm writing the film and I'll direct it.

My name is Harry Dawes.

Harry Dawes.

Harry Dawes.

Did you not once direct Jean Harlow and Carole Lombard?

You must have gone to the movies when you were a very little girl.

How did you know my name?

Only one out of 10,000 moviegoers...

Oh, I can name to you Lubitsch and Fleming and Van Dyke and La Cava.

You didn't think I was dead, too, did you?

Maria.

My cousin, he plays in the orchestra.

He had to go back to work.

Through the window?

That's a funny way for a cousin to leave.

In Hollywood, it is not easy to become a star.

Ah, where is it easy?

In Madrid. Here, at least, I'm a little star.

Why should I take the chance that I lose it?

Do you know what a screen test is?

Yes. We can make it in Rome.

Nobody would know.

If it doesn't work out, you'll have lost nothing.

Now, it certainly can't hurt you to meet Kirk Edwards.

Nobody could accuse you of mingling, a business conference with one of the richest men in the world.

Could you teach me to act, Mr. Dawes?

If you can act, I can help you.

If you can't, nobody can teach you.

Why did not Mr. Kirk Edwards come to ask me himself?

Oh, I'm sure he would have been delighted, but after all, since I'm the director...

Do all directors come to ask young women to sit with their producers?

Um, not all.

I think that a man who can write something and who can help someone to act is worth much more than a man who only has money.

If and when you become an actress, don't ever say that in public.

You never know who's listening.

Hmm?


Señorita, this is Oscar Muldoon, whom I'm sure you recognize.

Meet Kirk Edwards.

Don't get up, Mr. Edwards.

I'm sorry we got here too late to see you dance.

We certainly are, señorita, because we understand you got a lot of talent.

And that's the one thing that can make Mr. Kirk Edwards fly all the way here from Rome.

All the way from California, you might say. Talent.

Now, where other men go for a pretty face or a pair of legs, talent is what Mr. Kirk Edwards worships.

It's his religion, you might almost say.

Something to eat, señorita? Uh, waiter!

Do you speak Spanish, señor?

Oh, just a couple of words.

Not even that.

One of them was Italian.

Speak only English, please.

A whiskey for me, like before.

Si, señor.

Now, did Mr. Dawes have a chance to tell you what Mr. Edwards has in mind?

Oh, and by the way, not being in the business, you wouldn't know, of course, who Mr. Harry Dawes is in his own name.

He's only one of the top two or three writers and directors in the whole world, that's all.

I only want to indicate to you by this how Mr. Kirk Edwards does things.

Only the top, the class, the finest money can buy, all the way up and down the line.

Mr. Kirk Edwards doesn't have to watch the pennies, you know that, don't you?

I don't want to throw Oscar off pitch, but I told señorita Vargas what this was all about.

I also told her we could shoot the test in Rome.

Señorita. Miss Vargas.

We're going to have to change the name, by the way.

Maria.

Naturally, Mr. Edwards will pay all your expenses while you're being tested.

And if it works out, you'll be under contract to him, personally.

And you'll be paid in dollars. Not pesetas, but dollars.

Maybe $100 a week to start with.

How much is that in pesetas?

Or maybe $200 a week. We can work that out later.

But the point is, Mr. Edwards is going to leave no stone unturned to develop your talent and make you happy.

Afraid you'll be lonely, far away in Hollywood?

There's no reason why, after a time, we can't send for your mother.

After all, a girl likes to have her mother with her, right?

I would not like to have my mother with me.

Why not?

Because I do not like my mother.

I'm sure you don't mean that. Every mother should be loved.

If they deserve it.

We can work all that out later, too.

The point is, the miracle has happened and a great career is yours for the asking.

No strings attached. No jokers.

All Mr. Edwards wants is for the world to enjoy your talent and for you to be happy.

And what does he get out of it?

Just your gratitude.

What does he ever get out of the wonderful things that he does?

Money? Power? Fame? Nah.

He's got all those.

All that he can look forward to is the honest gratitude of the little people that he helps, like you and me and Mr. Dawes.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

I have to telephone somebody.

Please excuse me, Mr. Dawes.

Ah, Muldoon, you're a charmer.

The little birds right out of the trees.

Señor Edwards, we are checked and ready whenever you are, sir.

Oscar, go hurry her up.

Tell her she can buy whatever she needs in Rome.

Right.

Right now, Kirk, I wish my mother had left me $200 million.

What would you do with 'em?

I'd bet you the whole $200 million that this time, Oscar's charmed the little bird right back into the tree.

You'd come up empty, Kirk.

One of the many troubles with you, Harry, is, you never know where your movie scripts leave off and life begins.

Ah, Muldoon, you're a charmer.

You'd be so much more charming if only you didn't sweat so much.

She's gone.

She never even went back to the room. Nobody knows where.

I can't understand it.

We're leaving right now.

Without you, Harry.

We take off in one hour.

You find her and bring her with you.

Don't bother showing up without her.

Just cable your agent collect, if you've still got an agent.

This is for the check.

Kirk was wrong when he said I didn't know where movie scripts left off and life began.

The script has to make sense and life doesn't.

Any self-respecting script would have had me swallow Oscar's whiskey and go off on a bat.

But it wasn't a script.

Right now, I wish it had been.

The script would have made so much more sense about all of us than life did.


Maria Vargas?

Uh, señora Vargas?

I'm sorry.

I look for Maria Vargas.

No. Wait a minute. This is important.

Why you want to find my sister so important?

Ah, Dr. Livingstone.

You got cigarettes?

Help yourself. Keep the pack. I've got more.

Now, look, I'm an American film director, and I was talking to your sister tonight about going to America to play in the movies.

And I want to talk to her again and I can't find her.

It's good you no understand my mother.

It's liar.

Can't you fight this out later?

I haven't got much time.

Look, brother, I don't know what your troubles are, but I've got to find Maria.

It isn't as if I had all night.

Every minute counts.

My mother forbids Maria to go to America.

And what does Maria say?

I think perhaps we can talk better outside, Mr. Dawes.


My brother took all your cigarettes?

I have another pack.

What did you tell your mother?

Just now? Uh-huh.

I told her if she said one more word, I would go to America, even if I did not want to go.

Are you in trouble with Mr. Kirk Edwards?

In a way.

Because I ran away?

Mmm-hmm.

I do not like Mr. Kirk Edwards.

You're standing at the end of a long, long line.

Somehow to me, he is not a healthy man.

Somehow, he is sick, and I cannot bear to watch sick people be sick.

That is why, so suddenly, I had to go away.

Mr. Dawes, do you think really that I could be a star?

There's one phrase I've always avoided like the plague because it never worked out.

With you, I think it would.

You couldn't miss.

I think that I'm pretty enough, but I would not want to be that kind of star.

Pretty enough?

Any woman that can use the moon for a key light...

Key light? What is that?

Oh, that's your own special light when the stage is all lit up, the light that shines only on you.

Like the moon. Like the moon.

You have to learn how to find this light out of all the other lights, how never to lose it.

How to make it do things for your eyes, your lips, your hair.

But this is not acting.

No, this is not acting, and this is not all you have to learn, either.

But if I could act a little, would you help me to become a really good actress?

Would you help me, Mr. Dawes?

What makes a man want to write about people or direct people is because, usually, he has a sort of a sixth sense about them, or thinks he has.

Like a witch.

Now, my five ordinary senses, what with alcohol and other forms of abuse, are nothing special, but I have a sixth sense that any witch in the world would give her left broomstick to have.

And with sense number six, you feel something about me. Therefore, owing to circumstances which, believe me, are beyond my control, I hereby advise you not to come to Rome to make the test.

Not to come to America, at least not for a while.

At least not... At least not to Mr. Kirk Edwards.

Is that what you fear?

That's part of it.

Let's say that's the only part I can put into words.

Or, perhaps, you want me for yourself, and you're afraid that Mr. Kirk Edwards' money would make him more attractive than you.

What makes women think that having money makes a man feel more attractive?

I never met a rich man yet who didn't think he was being loved in spite of his money.

And you?

Me? Mmm.

I'm afraid I've had three wives.

Oh, I've been around with actresses, female writers, singers, painters, even a female agent, but I don't think I've met more than two or three women in my life.

Six months or so ago, I fell in love with one of them.

Is she an actress?

No, I told you. She's a woman.

Does she have to work?

Script girl. Her name is Jerry.

She has the name of a man.

There is no further resemblance.

What is a script girl?

You'll find out.

Apparently, your sense number six has changed its mind.

No. I've just come to the realization that it's none of my business.

You now want me to go.

It's up to you.

I have no fear of Mr. Kirk Edwards.

America is a very rich and powerful country, but you have no monopoly on evil men.

I have known them since I was a very little girl.

Not like Kirk.

Perhaps they did not have millions of dollars, but to a girl with nothing, a man with hundreds is just as rich as a man with millions.

I do not say this with pride, Mr. Dawes, nor do I want it to sound like one of the foolish things that we laugh at in the movies.

But no man has ever paid for me, and I do not think any man ever will.

Then why not with pride?

Because it has not been out of goodness, not even because I've tried to be good.

I have nothing to say about it, Mr. Dawes, about whom I love.

It is a kind of sickness, and as I've said, I cannot bear to be with sick people.

But when the sick one is yourself, you cannot run away.

When I was a little girl, like so many others, there was no money to buy shoes for me, and when the bombs came in the Civil War, I used to bury myself in the dirt of the ruins to be safe.

I would lie there, safe in the dirt, and wiggle my toes and listen to the noise and dream of someday being a fine lady in fine shoes.

I hate shoes, Mr. Dawes.

I wear them to dance and to show myself, but I feel afraid in shoes, and I feel safe with my feet in the dirt.

My words in English are so simple, and yet what I want to say is not simple at all.

Even in my own language, my brain and my words could not say it, I'm afraid.

There's more to talking than just words.

And you have one more sense than other people.

For instance, you understood about my cousin right away.

And when I was older,

and the bombs still came, just to bury myself in the dirt was not enough to be safe.

I needed someone to be with me, someone to love, to love me, to make me safe.

I needed it.

I still need it when I'm afraid, like a baby who needs a light on in the dark.

I need to be loved when I'm hiding in the dirt and afraid.

But the bombs are gone.

You surprise me, Mr. Dawes.

Is fear gone?

What are you afraid of?

The same as everybody else.

The same as you.

Of being exposed and unprotected.

Like Mr. Kirk Edwards without his money, like you, as you used to be without your drink, or now, without your script girl who loves you.

Like me, in my shoes and on display for men and women to examine, for different reasons.

Many men must be in love with you.

In the dirt, it's hard to tell.

Haven't you been in love?

From the dirt, it's easy to look into the clouds.

Has Mr. Kirk Edwards already flown away in his private plane all covered with diamonds and stars, or, by now, has it changed into a calabaza?

Oh, that must be Spanish for pumpkin.

You still have time if you're coming.

Yes.

Well, you'd better get your things.

I have them.

Then, you'll want to say goodbye.

I have no desire to look at my mother once more.

And I would only confuse Papa.

Pedro will take care of it.

I am ready, Mr. Dawes.

You forgot your shoes.

No, I did not forget them.


What happened next, if you go to the movies, or if you've ever sat under a dryer or waited in a waiting room, is history.

Movie history.

The facts and figures and fantasy of Maria's success.

There are some, though, you wouldn't have found in the textbooks.

You've seen it and read it a thousand times.

It's one of the most tiresome cliches of storytelling.

It really happens once or twice in a generation, but that first test of Maria Vargas lit up all the lights in show business.

I had taken it upon myself to invite the highest international movie brass I could find in Rome, Mr. Black of America, Monsieur Blue of France, and Mr. Brown of England.

The difference between European and American movie magnates is astonishing.

There is absolutely none.

Kirk, my dear fellow, I know just exactly what you have in mind, and I couldn't agree with you more. Now, the British...

I got the perfect location in Spain.

You're not the type to fool around with.

Nobody ever tells you...

This kid's contract...

Now, just a minute, gentlemen. Just a minute.

In the first place, this young lady is under exclusive contract to Mr. Kirk Edwards, of course, and he cannot discuss her future availability at this time.

In the second place, this was a private showing of a private test which is the property of Mr. Kirk Edwards, and I consider your presence here highly irregular and unethical.

Are you out of your mind, Muldoon? You invited me.

Who? Me?

You must remember asking me, old man.

You even suggested I come in after the lights were out in case I disturb Mr. Edwards.

Boss, I swear to you on my life...

What about it, Harry?

I'm afraid, I'm the guilty one. I invited you gentlemen.

I used Oscar's name because, frankly, I was afraid you wouldn't be into my name.

What is your name, Monsieur?

He's Harry Dawes.

I imagined you to be a much older man, Mr. Dawes.

I was, up to the minute I saw this test.

I'm flying to Paris tonight, Harry.

Drop in this afternoon. I'm at the Excelsior.

Sorry, Max. Not business. Just old friends.

How old? Since the test?

Why'd you have us come here, Harry?

Well, I suppose I should have checked with Oscar Muldoon.

It's not really a director's function, but in Mr. Edwards' organization, we all do all sorts of things.

I wanted to make sure that the leaders of our industry knew at first hand about the contribution Mr. Edwards was going to make to it.

Mmm. Well, it was a grand pleasure.

May I offer a ride to any one of you?

I'll take you up on that, if I may, Rene.

See you in London.

Anytime this afternoon, Harry, if you get the chance.

Sorry, Max. I'm at the Excelsior.

Well, it's a great art we're doing business in, gentlemen.

Everybody be happy.

Her makeup is too dark and too much.

Hair and wardrobe got to be much more simple.

No tricks.

The less between her and the camera, the better.

The voice is good, well placed.

I don't want a voice coach within a mile of her.

How much closer will you be?

What's that?

How much closer have you been?

To Maria?

Coming from anybody else, that would be a compliment.

What were those men doing here?

I haven't answered your first question yet.

I know the answer. No, you don't.

And you'll never admit that you don't. You wouldn't dare, because you'd have to admit there's something possible between men and women besides the few simple physiological relationships you know about.

Okay. That answer will satisfy the Screenwriters Guild.

Now tell us why you planted those characters in here.

Maybe your master knows the answer to that one too, or maybe he doesn't want to know.

I want to know. It's pretty long.

We got the room booked for the whole morning.

It won't take that long.

Kirk, Maria has made a chump out of you. She's laughed at you.

Now, you're not going to do better, you're going to do worse.

Now, this pleases me and frightens me, because I know you.

You're capable of destroying a woman who's laughed at you.

You've destroyed women who loved you, so why not Maria?

And you're capable of burning that test, as great as it is, and letting it be known that she had nothing worth testing.

Well, right now, the name and fame of Maria Vargas is on its way to New York, Hollywood, London and Paris.

Does that answer your question?

You can't get away with this!

You're being disloyal, Oscar.

You're stealing dialogue from television, and you lied to those gentlemen.

Perhaps you can be forgiven because it's your job to lie, but you lied when you said Maria was under contract to Kirk Edwards.

Isn't she?

Well, I...

Now, those were your exact instructions, Kirk, so don't punish Oscar for it.

No contract till after the test, remember?

You were going to use her for one more pitch.

Well, right now, it's after the test, and Maria Vargas will not sign a contract with you.

She's under contract to you, is that it?

Kirk, if ever a characterization followed a straight line, yours does.

No, she's not under contract to me, because I'm not in that business.

But what I tell Maria to do, she will do.

With her shoes on, that is.

What's her shoes got to do with it?

Nothing.

Of course, you can call off the production right now, write it off, write me off, and Maria.

The government will pay for most of it anyway.

And I'll go see Max Black at the Excelsior this afternoon.

All right, let's go back to Hollywood and make this movie.

After that, Maria's on her own.

You can keep on looking for new faces.

The world's full of them.

But you'll never find another Maria.

You will find what you're looking for, I'm sure.

Harry...

Mmm?

Nothing.

If ever a funeral laid an egg, that one did.

Standing around the grave, maybe two dozen nobodies.

A great finish.

You just don't bury a famous movie star like she was an unidentified body.

Well, it figured. It was like that from the minute I laid eyes on her.

Nothing worked according to the book.

Not my book, anyway.

From the minute she waved back at the Statue of Liberty, everybody wanted to know everything about Maria, and they wound up knowing nothing, because there was nothing to know.

Believe me, what they said in Madrid was true.

This bundle of passion, this hot flame that burned from the screen, was a real untouchable.

The columns and the wolves were after me night and day.

How could I tell them who she was with, or when, when I didn't even know who she knew?

I can tell you this, it is entirely possible that Maria Damata went to her grave without ever once being inside of The Stork, El Morocco, Ciro's, or The Mocambo.

You've got to admit, this is not normal.

But what was normal about this whole business from start to finish?

Here's a doll who, on the opening night of her first picture, with no known interest in men, much less romance.

Whose private life is strictly private, but who, the people have decided, is already a star.

This is the night I first began to think maybe the public has a mind of its own.

Who else but Maria Damata would show up at her world premiere alone, together with a couple that everybody knew were in love with each other?

It was real love with Harry and Jerry.

You could tell it was for real, because they never even gave out interviews about getting married.

Maria Damata.

Whatever it is, you name it.

Whether you're born with it or catch it from a public drinking cup, Maria had it.

The people with the money in their hot little hands put her up there, and she could do no wrong.

But I can remember very well the day it did look like the roof fell in on all of us.

It was in London.

Back in the States, the picture was a smash from coast to coast.

I and Kirk Edwards had flown over to talk to S. Montague Brown, who wanted it for his theaters in England.

I could tell right away something was wrong.

Kirk didn't even look at me.

And S. Montague Brown was eating and drinking as if the Labor Party had just been elected unanimously.

Am I allowed to know what the depression is about?

Maria.

What about Maria? Maria's mother is dead.

Everybody's mother's got to die sometime.

Don't let it get you down like this.

As a matter of fact, we can milk this unfortunate departure for some good exploitation in Spain, maybe even worldwide.

A big church funeral using boxed crusaders, remember.

Oscar, shut up!

Mr. Muldoon, it seems that Maria's mother was murdered by Maria's father.

Murdered?

Her father murdered her mother? When?

Last night.

How did you hear about this?

The Madrid office telephoned a few minutes ago.

The papers! Has it got to the papers yet?

Not yet.

As you know, over here, crime is not exploited to sell newspapers.

I know. And without it, you could print the three biggest selling newspapers in England on postage stamps.

I'm not interested in selling newspapers or in debating good and bad taste.

The newspapers have not yet picked it up.

And they won't, as long as Maria stays out of it.

Boss, you're 100% right. We got to keep her out of it.

We keep her in California. Does she know about it yet?

I've put in a call to Harry Dawes. He can find out.

You want Harry to break it to her?

Of course not. Certainly not until after the trial is over and it's too late to be news.

And we're finished playing the key cities.

Boss, you think of everything.

Ah, what a business, show business.

For years you sweat and dream and dig and look, and finally you come up with the jackpot.

You've made it. Bingo. You've got a right to open your collar, take off your shoes and relax in Las Vegas for the rest of your life.

So what happens? Her father chokes her mother to death.

It'll make you cry.

Montague, if there's one thing I know about, it's Mr. John Q. Public.

He wants clean people on the screen for himself and his children to look at.

Don't let the eggheads tell you he wants high-class acting and fine stories and fancy dialogue.

Oscar, the phone!

He wants to forget his troubles for a while and look at clean people.

He wants to escape.

He doesn't want to look at drunks, hopheads, sex maniacs, divorcees, communists, murderers... And no children of murderers.

He's got enough of that at home.

Hello? Hello!

Yeah, Mr. Edwards is right here. Put him on.

It's Harry. It's for you.

You talk to him. Hello?

Hello? I hear nothing!

Hello, Harry? No. This is Oscar.

Yeah, how are you, Harry?

Fine, fine. Say, how is it out there?

You don't say! What do you know?

Nice day in California.

Are you paying for this call yourself, Oscar?

Uh, Harry, the reason we called. What's new and all that, but also, have you happened to see Maria lately?

Oh, you just left her? Oh, good, good.

Say, how is she?

Fine, fine. Say, Harry, something kind of important has come up...

I say, something kind of important has come up.

Yeah, that maybe you should know about, but that maybe you should keep Maria from knowing about right now.

Yeah.

Yeah, it's got to do with Maria in a way.

Her old man knocked off her old lady.

Her father murdered her mother.

What?

I can't hear you suddenly!

What?

What do you mean, you know? Does Maria know?

HOW? The papers?

Her brother sent a cable?

Now, Harry, I hope Maria understands that if the papers get a hold of this, it can not only ruin the picture, but her also.

She does? Harry says Maria understands perfectly.

And you too, Harry. This is no time for you to be artistic.

Remember, this is money out of your pocket, too, so take no chances in this situation.

You do?

Harry says he understands also.

I must say, Harry, you're being very cooperative about this.

And please extend our heartfelt sympathy to Maria at this time of her grief.

What?

What? We can what?

We can extend our sympathy to Maria in person?

Harry, what are you talking about? Didn't you tell me you just left her?

You left her at the airport?

She's flying straight to Madrid to be with her father?

Who do we know in New York for a quick snatch job in between planes?

Dawes, have you gone out of your mind?

How could you let her do a thing like this?

What?

What kind of an answer is that against a $10 million world gross?

You don't say.

Well, I'm just as normal as you are, buster.

Remember that in the years ahead when you're directing cigarette butts on television!

She loves her father.

Neither the picture nor her career mean as much to her as being with her father in his time of need.

Starring Francis X. Bushman and Clara Kimball Young, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Bijou.

There will be a cornet solo on Saturday night.

Well, you remember what happened.

The trial drew more people than Madame X and played better.

Maria hired the best lawyers in Spain.

She never slept.

You'd think it was her own life she was fighting for.

Harry and Jerry flew over.

They couldn't help much, but they were there.

Nobody asked me, and I wasn't anybody's friend especially, but I stuck around.

You couldn't help feeling sorry for the old man.

You could tell just by looking at him that half the time he didn't know where he was.

And you wouldn't give a bent kopeck for his chances, the way he kept admitting over and over that he killed the old lady.

Things started to pick up for the home team when Maria's brother, a ganef if ever I saw one, took the stand.

He testified that his mother had beaten up the old man many times, and how, on the night of the murder, she not only smashed his radio but hit him.

But, if I had to write down what no actress should ever make public, I would copy Maria's testimony in her father's defense.

She left out nothing.

She told about the squalor and filth into which she and her brother were born, and how they grew up like animals.

She told about a mother who was full of hate, and how she got back the hate she gave.

Maria handed Mom a rough time on that witness stand.

I couldn't help wondering how this would go in box-office heaven, where Mom is the commanding saint, but that courtroom was with her all the way.

Some of them cried, even the judges.

They must be appointed in Spain because I don't know of anybody ever getting elected whose mother was not an angel.

And as it turned out, the audiences of the whole world could have been sitting in that courtroom.

From Scarsdale to Singapore, they loved her.

Her father beat the rap, of course. Self-defense.

And Maria walked out of that courthouse a bigger star than when she broke all the rules by walking into it.

So how are you going to figure it?

Suppose you're me, and what the public wants and thinks is your business.

You're standing in the middle of them, asking yourself, "Where did I lose these people?"

You're beginning to realize maybe the public knows more about public relations than you do.

Maybe the public heart is something you can't put on a chart or penetrate with just money.

You begin to think that maybe, after all, Kirk Edwards couldn't really walk across the English Channel anytime he wanted to.

In many ways, Maria affected Oscar more than any of us.

Her father's trial, the fact that being human and honest about something unpleasant could make her more popular than ever, it shook Oscar.

His gods began to crumble.

He became aware, even, of some clay around the feet of Kirk Edwards.

But two years went by before the great god Edwards toppled over.

Two good and happy years, for me at any rate.

The night he fell to Earth, I suppose it was the most losing night of Kirk's life.

Just about a year ago in Beverly Hills, California.

It was quite a night.

Turned out to be quite a party.

Kirk Edwards was the host, and over my objections, Maria let him use her house.

He'd asked personally, and Maria said yes.

Kirk paid for the party, that is, his company paid for it.

Kirk didn't give many parties, but when he did, they were always for men like señor Alberto Bravano.

Bravano did no less for Kirk when Kirk visited South America.

Noblesse oblige, son' of.

But it soon became obvious that the sehor was only mildly interested in the available talent.

He'd found what he wanted, Maria.

Jerry and I were playing backgammon.

That dated us, all right, but it gave us something to do.

We weren't paying much attention to the game.

We were worried about Maria.

She seemed too restless, too tense, too withdrawn, and Kirk, when he wasn't looking at Maria, he was watching Bravano look at Maria.

He didn't like it.

Alberto Bravano was and is one of the three richest men in South America, which makes him one of the richest in the world.

Like Kirk, his wealth was inherited.

But unlike Kirk, his one and only interest in money lay in spending it for his own gratification.

To Oscar, Alberto Bravano was heaven-sent, a man with more money than Kirk, even, and even more in need of a counsel for public relations.

It's a form of insurance you might say.

Only instead of protecting your life, it protects your good name and your reputation.

Too late.

My name and reputation already are hopelessly bad.

Mr. Muldoon, in my whole life I have made one major decision.

When I was 15 years old, I had two choices.

Everybody wanted me to be a good little boy and do good for others.

I chose to be a bad little boy, do good for myself.

So far so good, señor.

But, the world is getting smaller all the time.

And if somebody drops a lot of money in a gambling casino in Deauville, France, for instance, the noise can be heard for quite a distance.

Interesting.

And how far, would you say can this, uh, falling money be heard?

With nobody around to quiet it down, the sound could travel all the way to, uh, certain mining camps deep in the jungles of South America.

Certain camps where the men aren't paid enough or fed enough or protected against disease enough.

Interesting.

And how would such fantastic lies come to the ears of a man such as you, Mr. Muldoon?

Well, like I say, it's a tiny world.

If, for instance, somebody rents a whole hotel at Cap d'Agde, France, for the entire season, just to make sure he can have it for the last two weeks in August, and if somebody else doesn't keep it quiet, people might read about it in cafes in certain South American cities.

Is it not fortunate, for instance, that I own the newspapers in my country?

Anybody with a printing press and a seller and something to say owns a newspaper.

There are laws against inflammatory propaganda that certain governments enforce very rigidly.

Is any man rich enough to own a government?

I will not answer vaguely, Mr. Muldoon.

Yes.

It's funny thing about governments, señor, even privately owned.

If, for instance, the owner isn't around very much, if, let's say, he's cruising around the Mediterranean on a yacht that costs more to keep up than the combined salaries of his entire government, and if nobody's around to protect his interests...

What do you think?

Will Maria Damata come with me to the Riviera?

She ought to jump at the chance, señor, but she's a strange girl.

To have Maria Damata as my personal guest would be the best of possible public relations for me, Mr. Muldoon.

Besides, is not Maria Damata the chief asset of Kirk Edwards?

In what way do you mean?

One considers her his prize possession.

Only if one does not know what the score is.

You throw double sixes again, and I'll have you burned for a witch.

Sore loser. He owes me $187,000 and won't pay up.

You won't take my check.

I'll say.

Double six.

Ouch. Hmm...

The last time this witch went to a party, she made the princess prick her finger with a spindle and fall asleep for 100 years.

Is that some kind of Chinese checkers?

Huh?

Chinese checkers?

No. This is, uh, pinochle.

I'm drunk.

It's just stuffy in here, that's all.

Oh, no. I'm drunk.

Can I ask you something?

Of course.

Nice house you got.

Thank you. Nice party.

Nice questions you ask.

Yeah.

What is with you?

What goes with you?

I don't understand those questions.

Maria Damata, great big star, great big sex number.

Who is it?

If not Kirk, who is it? Harry?

Shut up.

Is it gonna be Bravano or who?

On the screen you get 'em all. What about off?

What about in a room? This room?

Name a man.

Or maybe you're afraid of men.

All right, Shirley, blow.

Don't forget to call a cab.

Who's she kiddin'? She hasn't even got what I've got.

What she's got, you couldn't spell, and what you've got, you used to have.

Now, beat it.

I don't even believe you're playing pinochle.

Come on, Maria. Let's us go sit upstairs for a while.

I'd like to talk to Harry for a moment.

Would you mind?

Of course I wouldn't.

Where will you be?

Right here, practicing double sixes.

Now, remember all the money I owe you.

No sweet-talk with these mop-headed juveniles, or you won't collect a nickel.

You know just the right thing to say to a girl at the right time, don't you?

Oh, I keep forgetting you don't smoke.

A glamour girl who does not even smoke.

I should really be in the circus with the strange people.

Freaks.

Freaks.

Harry, I think that I should go home.

Well, this is your home.

This is an ugly house in bad taste, which I rent, containing a bed to sleep on, which I rent, chairs and a stove, to keep me warm, which I rent.

Well, then buy a place of your own, or maybe build one.

I cannot buy, and working men cannot build a home.

You worked hard. Three pictures, one right after another.

Maybe a rest and a change of scene will do you good.

Finding me, bringing me here, our three films together, has it been good for you, Harry?

I never had it so good.

Because I think I should go back to Madrid and stay there.

I should stay where I belong.

Where is that?

In the dirt of the streets.

You think you could stay there?

Probably not.

Probably now, I would not belong there any more than where I am.

Where are you, Maria?

Half in the dirt and half out.

Ah.

Then it hasn't been good for you.

Oh, in many ways, it's been beyond my dreams, like a fairy tale of this century, and I have been La Cenicienta.

Spanish for Cinderella?

I have gowns and jewels of silver and gold.

I have a coach not pulled by four horses, but with the power of 200.

Thousands of lonely men write each month that they dream of me.

Mothers give my name to their babies, and young girls rub their faces with the soap which I'm paid to say that I use but which I do not.

And I have so many other things.

Everything in the world which can be rented.

As I remember the story, you left out one very important character.

I have left out the prince.

Did it ever occur to you, Harry, that the prince looked everywhere for Cinderella just so that he could put the shoe back on her foot?

Now that you mention it...

I thought you'd sent him away. He came back.

You mean you asked him to come back.

Yes! I asked him to come back. Your life is your own.

I've never told you how to live it and never interfered.

But this one is no good!

No worse, no better, than the others. You cannot rent a prince.

I've seen him! He's mean, and he's dirty.

And which of the men inside this house is not?

Who? Name him for me, Harry.

You cast your films so well.

Which of the men inside would you have play the prince for me?

All the men in the world are not in this house.

And what you need is not in that house.

All your talk about a frightened child finding love and security in the dirt. All children love dirt!

But they grow up. The fairy tale again.

Cinderella came out of the ashes and was spotless when the prince came along.

Maria.

Most women in this world pray and cry in their sleep for just one small part of what you've got, so that they can find what all women need, what you need, Maria, a man you can look at in the daytime.

A man you can love like a woman, have children by, grow old with, share joys and sorrows, success and failure.

You've got to make up your mind.

Half in the dirt and half out. Go one way or the other.

And if you go back, what a pitiful waste it'll be.

And if I go the other way, I go to what?

To a big, white yacht with Alberto Bravano?

Just because it is big and white and a yacht, is it not still dirt?

Do not think that I do not agree with everything you say, Harry, but I cannot help myself.


One thing you can't knock about southern California, the air at night.

I sure pity the people that have to breathe in the daytime.

You got something on your mind?

Not a thing, Oscar. How about you?

I was just wondering.

You're sitting there like you had a sneak preview playing inside.

I've been wondering, too. You can't even see Kirk from here.

Suppose he has a cigarette in his mouth and needs a light?

Maybe he'd better start carrying his own matches.

Oh? Am I the first to know?

Know what?

You're going to love International Cafe Society.

No more plain Morocco Stork Club Cafe Society for you.

No bums in black ties.

It's bums in white ties from now on.

I thought you were on the wagon.

Oscar, this is Harry!

Hey, what about Bravano? You got him hooked?

Everything but the clincher.

I got him sold, Harry. I know it.

I got that gaucho seeing himself up there with the Rockefellers and the Fords.

It's the deal of my lifetime, if I can just find that clincher.

Harry, Harry, Harry, see the battle of the giants.

What? Kirk and Bravano are having it out.

What, a fight? Goliath versus Goliath.

You mean they're throwing punches?

Don't be silly. Neither one of them has had his hands closed since the day he was born.

My tongue is loosened by champagne.

I speak as I do everything, for all the world to know.

Everything I do. And I admit to all your accusations.

I do in the open, while you, Mr. Kirk Edwards do them secretly. You deny this?

You're a liar. You're a liar!

You repeat yourself.

Take a drink, my friend, and say what you have in your heart.

But you never drink. You never say.

It's because you're afraid of what you have in your heart.

You're a liar.

Granted, but so are you, Mr. Kirk Edwards.

You are everything that I am, plus one more sin.

Hypocrisy, my friend.

You pretend not to be what you are, not to do what you do.

This is most evil of all.

You've never done an honest day's work in your life!

I have never done a day's work in my life, honest or dishonest, but neither have you.

To make $100 into $110, this is work.

To make $100 million into $110 million, this is inevitable.

At least I keep my money in my own country.

I spend it here and I pay my taxes.

I keep my money in your country, too, and for the same reason as you.

It is safest here. And as for taxes, how many millions have you in tax-exempt bonds and oil wells, whose power of production your government so generously protects, while it denies similar benefits to the human brain?

What about your flea-bitten country? What taxes do you pay?

It is a well-known fact that everywhere in the world, except for the British Empire and the United States of America, the income tax can be easily avoided by anyone with income.

L Pay none.

Then what right do you have to come here and attack the American way of life?

Oh, please, Mr. Kirk Edwards.

I attack nothing and nobody but you, personally.

I've never yet met an American to whom the American way of life was not his own particular way of life.

But it is only yours I attack.

My life is none of your business.

I live it my way and I like it.

Then why does it not make you happy?

Do you not agree to have an enormous amount of money is a wonderful thing?

Why don't you shut up and go back where you came from?

Oh, this is unworthy, even from you.

Next, you will tell me the best friend of a boy is his mother.

Mine was. Obviously.

And that of a man, his horse.

It is not clear to me when the transition from mother to horse takes place.

Get out of here, Bravano.

I will go when I please.

I'll have you thrown out!

I will offer no resistance, in that case.

I am a physical coward.

So are you, but I admit it openly.

I am selfish man, not a good man, but I admit it openly.

I enjoy to live. You do not.

I waste my money with pleasure, but yours is just a waste.

I will not go back where I came from, because I do not like it there.

You are incapable of liking it anywhere, so you stay where you are.

Goodbye, Mr. Kirk Edwards.

Are you coming with me?

I beg your pardon?

I leave tomorrow morning for Cannes.

I have invited you to join my yachting party, and you have said you would let me know.

I ask you now, openly, because it would delight me if you would come with me, this minute, out of this house.

You must be confused, señor.

This is my house. I live here.

Then tomorrow morning... Maria!

Tell him you're not going, tomorrow morning or ever.

Always, Kirk, you choose exactly the wrong moment to play dictator with me.

I forbid you to go with him!

And I want to hear you tell him so.

Too bad. I had decided not to go.

Now I think I must.

I will come for you tomorrow morning!

Oscar!

Clear everybody out! The party's over!

This is your clincher, Muldoon. Don't blow it.

Just this once, Kirk, why don't you empty your own ashtrays?

You heard what I said.

You said the party's over.

Tell everybody to go home.

The party's over, and I wanna thank you for a lovely evening.

How drunk are you, Muldoon?

I've warned you about getting too drunk.

For four years, and now it's over.

For four years, I've invited the guests and bought the favors and provided the entertainment and cleaned up the dirt and paid off the waiters and paid off the cops and paid off the papers and paid off the guests.

And now it's, "Good night, ladies. The party's over.

"I've had a lovely evening, but I must be going."

You're fired, as of right now.

Don't call me. I'll call you.

Bravo, Mr. Muldoon.

Mr. Muldoon, it would delight me almost as much if you were to come with me this minute out of this house.

Señor, I think you've got yourself a deal.

She'll never make another picture.

How are you going to stop her?

Withdraw your financing and release?

It's late, but I'm sure MGM, Fox, Paramount and the others will be happy to have me wake them up with the news.

I'll fight it for years. To the Supreme Court.

I'll keep her off the screen. I'll destroy her.

No.She% too big now.

Oscar.

I'll destroy Oscar.

He knows too much, and where to tell it.

Why not destroy señor Bravano?

All those hundreds of millions of dollars crashing against each other like a couple of big elks with your horns locked, battling till you've both starved to death in the snow.

You.

Not even me. Not anymore.

Myrna.

I'll drive you home.

Don't I remember you from somewhere?

Maybe we'll fly to Las Vegas.

I'll get my coat. I'll meet you in the car.

Harry.

Remember how you used to say life wrote lousy scripts?

Even in one of yours, I would have thrown this glass at him.

I'm going home with him instead.

You want to know the... What do you call it? Motivation?

Easy.

I'm a frightened tramp.

Where's your coat?

In the car. Where'd you park it?

Driveway. We'll go around the back.

Harry.

Look.

They're Maria's.

She was wearing them tonight.

Cinderella's slippers.

Who lives in the little house?

The prince?

Cinderella's cousin.

I don't understand that.

I'll tell you about it in the car.

I didn't tell her, of course, not even Jerry.

Some things you just don't tell anybody.

If it would have helped, I'd have yelled it in the streets.

But nothing could have helped.

The moving finger had already writ and moved on, and nothing I could do would have canceled half a line, nor would my tears wash out a word of it.

If this paisan asks once more am I sure the cameraman got his picture coming to this funeral...

It's the only reason he's here.

Oh, well, it's my own fault.

I talked him into coming.

It's basic public relations.

Automatically, if people see the biggest rat in the world walk with his hat off behind the casket, he becomes a lovable codger.

Bravano practically climbed into the coffin to be sure they took his picture.

At that, I assure you, he got as close to Maria dead as he did to her alive.

He and Kirk, they both got nowhere.

Only difference was, Kirk wouldn't quit till he tried everything in the book.

On the other hand, Bravano quit like a dog practically the first time Maria said no.

It seems to me he was secretly relieved.

The important thing to Bravano was for people to think Maria was his girl, as long as he got credit for it.

If Bravano had to choose between really having Maria in secret and not having her, but with the whole world thinking he did, he'd want it just the way it was.

This I cannot figure.

This doesn't mean it can't be figured.

You could fill a big fat book just with what I haven't been able to figure since I was 12 years old.

Maria, for instance, I could never figure.

But then, who could? There she was, the world's number one symbol of desirability, on display all over the world's number one showroom, with the world's number one customers wanting to buy, and nobody wrapped her up and took her home.

Nobody.

I'll swear that into my own grave.

Nobody.

And while I'm on the broad subject of what I can't figure, I give you that phenomenon of this day and age called the "international Set."

Once a year, on the French Riviera, one of the most beautiful sea shores on God's Earth, the International Set gathers, the way an annual fungus gathers on a beautiful tree.

It's quite a set.

It's as if ordinary human beings, living ordinary lives, had suddenly vanished from the Earth, and the world was suddenly full of butterflies shaped like people.

They are all happy all the time.

Some of them are happy because they are beautiful, and some of them have to be happy because they're nothing but rich.

Some of the International Set are happy because they are dogs.

Don't laugh.

There's a beauty parlor in Cannes just for dogs.

But the happiest of all the international butterflies are those who live as if they never left the cocoon.

They form in little groups, usually around some piece of ex-royalty.

Bravano, of course, had the best cocoon that money could buy.

To begin with, he had, as his guest for the entire season, the pretender to the throne.

The name of the throne doesn't matter.

But in the world of pretense, a pretender is the best thing you can be.

So, to the International Set, he was a king.

His wife was English. She was a commoner.

And they don't come any commoner.

But together, they ruled the Riviera, by permission of the copyright holder, Lulu McGee.

Lulu McGee runs the International Set.

She never asks for money, but somehow she always happens to help grateful rich people.

Hector Eubanks was the fireball of our little cocoon.

Oil hit Hector one fine day, and he just never came out from under it.

There was also Mrs. Hector Eubanks.

She was a joint income-tax return.

And in the middle of all this fantastic unreality was Maria.

More unreal, in a way, than any of it.

She moved among all these crazy people through the casinos and beaches and brawls from Marseilles to Monaco, as if she were loaded with Novocaine.

She showed no pain, no pleasure, no interest.

No nothing.

You figure.

Icani


Any more than I could on that night I saw Maria for the last time.

It was at one of the casinos, kind of late.

We'd finished dinner hours ago.

Bravano and Hector Eubanks were inside, gambling.

I assumed Maria was with Bravano.

The rest of us had run out of conversation.

After all, our little group hadn't seen each other since cocktails.

And we hadn't eaten together since lunch.

Lulu was trying to work up interest in a word game.

This is not easy with people who know just enough words to tell room service what they want.

It's really very simple, Your Highness.

You write the long word on top of the page, and under it, you write all of the short words you can make out of the long one.

Oh.

For the long word, let's use "vicissitudes."

Is that actually a word?

V-I-C-I-S-S-I-T-U-D-E-S.

"Changes, fluctuations," like the vicissitudes of life.

How clever of you, my dear.

Did you say something, Your Majesty?

I shall require more champagne.

Oscar.

More of the same for the king. Yes, sir.

What news from the gaming table?

Very good. Alberto's having a fantastic bank.

It's about time.

Last night, that Greek took him for a whole South American jungle.

You know something?

Off the screen, I don't think I've ever seen you laugh before.

I feel very good tonight.

Every night's like every other night.

No, not tonight. What's different?

I don't know. Something in the way my heart beats, as if something very good were going to come out of tonight.

Something's coming, all right, but it's not good.

He's mad. I've seen him like this before.

He's half-crazy when he gets like this.

How do I find the words to tell you what you are?

To begin with, a thief.

You took money from me when I was playing, when I was winning.

It changed my luck.

You've cost me millions and millions of francs.

You put a curse on me, not only for tonight, but from the unhappy moment when I first knew of your existence.

As you will put a curse always on everyone and everything near to you.

Maybe you can talk this over later in private, maybe.

Let him, Oscar. Next, you are not a woman.

I do not know what you are.

You are not a woman.

You will not let yourself be loved. You cannot love.

Once, you had the look for me of an exquisite lady.

Now I do not see that look.

Now I only see that you have the body of an animal.

A dead animal!

I have paid for your company, and you will come and go as I tell you!

Monsieur? Perm“ me.

ls the gigolo known to anyone?

He's known to me.

His name is Vincenzo Torlato-Favrini.

He's not a gigolo.

He's less a gigolo than anyone in our immediate company.

Surely less than anyone you will ever have the good fortune to meet, señor Bravano. He certainly acts high and mighty for just a count!

My dear Lulu, there are counts and counts, just as there are kings and kings.

Among the counts, Torlato-Favrini is a king, just as, among the kings, I am a clown, and puzzled only by his presence in a place such as this, among such people as us.

My champagne is not properly cooled.

Alberto, do you happen to know the Marquise de Baudonniere?

A really distinguished family...

And that was the last I ever saw of Maria Vargas, whom the world knew as Maria Damata

but who died as the Contessa Torlato-Favrini.

"Che sara sara." What will be will be.

An ancient and unimaginative Italian proverb.

It has been the motto of my house for more than 450 years, and it is only fitting, perhaps, that as the house of Torlato-Favrini comes to its end, our motto will never have been more to the point.

What Will be Will be.

An easy generality.

A universal cure.

I am what I am, do what I do, and cannot help myself.

Therefore, I am free of my guilt.

Nonsense, of course.

Yet I can suggest no other answer, if there must be an answer, to how and why it began between Maria and me.

I was driving.

As I had for countless times before that time, I was driving somewhere, anywhere, just to be away from the unbearable restlessness of night after night without sleep, and the empty dawns that followed them.

But why, of all the somewheres and anywheres in the world, should I, at that time, have crossed the border from Italy to France?

Of all directions, why should I have chosen one leading to that parade ground of vulgarity which lies between Nice and Cannes?

Che sara, sara.


She looked at me for no longer than the beat of a heart, and I knew I would remember her as long as I lived.

That was my meeting with Maria.

It occurs to me just now that oddly, we have never talked about it.

But no more odd, surely, than my driving away that day, away from her, knowing that, inevitably, we would meet again.

And it was late that night, in, of all places, a gambling casino, when I saw Maria again.


To begin with, a thief.

You took money from me when I was playing, when I was winning.

You changed my luck.

You've cost me millions and millions of francs.

You put a curse on me, not only for tonight, but from the unhappy moment I first knew of your existence, as you will put a curse always on everyone and everything near to you.

Maybe you can talk this over later in private, maybe.

Let him, Oscar.

Next, you are not a woman.

I do not know what you are, but you are not a woman.

You will not let yourself be loved, and you cannot love.

Once you had the look for me of an exquisite lady.

Now I do not see that look.

I see only that you have the body of an animal.

A dead animal!

I have paid for your company.

And you will come and go as I tell you!

Monsieur? Perm“ me.

I cannot remember much of that shabby little scene, except for some cheap heroics on my part.

But I do remember that Maria seemed unsurprised at my being there.

But she left with me without question, as if she had been waiting for me.


Thank you. I do not smoke.

What is your name?

Maria Vargas.

Are you Spanish?

But I live in America. I work there.

What is your work?

Are you a professional entertainer?

In a way. Perhaps not in the way that you think.

You have no way of knowing the way that I think.

Where are we going?

First, to your hotel, so that you can pack.

And then? To Rapallo.

Do you know where it is? In Italy.

Why to Rapallo?

I live there.

And did you drive here today from Rapallo?

Mmm-hmm. Why?

To bring you back with me.

Oh, I think not.

My name is Vincenzo Torlato-Favrini.

And what are you doing here, besides having come for me?

There is no other reason.

Tell me, do you see many movies?

Oh, very few.

A good foreign film now and then, American or English.

Then perhaps you read many cheap novels.

I understand.

You would be justified in asking also whether I am addicted to narcotics.

I have told you the complete truth.

You have never seen me before today?

Never.

But you have known about me.

No.

Then you left Rapallo to find and to bring back someone you had never seen or heard about?

No. I left my home simply because I had to leave.

It has happened many times before.

There is perhaps an explanation for it.

But I will not attempt one here and now.

When did you know that you had come for me?

When you knew, too.

For the first time, when we looked at each other in the gypsy camp, and again at the window at the casino, and again just now, when I held out my hand to you,

you knew, as well as I.

It won't take me long to pack.


Torlatos, Favrinis, and Torlato-Favrinis.

When my sister and I are extinct, perhaps they will name automobiles after us.

The Torlatos and the Favrinis will be speedy little cars.

And the Torlato-Favrini, a limousine, of course.

This was Beatrice Favrini.

How strange to be painted with a little boy and a sword.

The little boy was her son.

The sword was her husband's.

It was brought to her when he was killed in a stupid war between Italian cities.

Eleanora...

My own husband was killed in this last war.

I have neither his child nor his sword.

He was blown up at sea.

I do not have even his cadaver.

Eleanora!

But perhaps you should tell the story, Vincenzo, of a happy ancestor.

Francesco the Fat, for instance.

Francesco can wait.

I have the honor to present Benvenuto Torlato.

You have a resemblance to him. Thank you.

I am proud of the coincidence.

I admire this gentleman.

He was one of Cesare Borgia's most trusted assassins.

He was himself stabbed to death and thrown into the Arno.

Then what do you admire about him?

His foresight.

He adopted the motto of our house, che sara sara.

He knew what it would be like with us.


Eleanora.

It has occurred to you, of course, that I intend to marry Maria.

It has occurred to me.

Do YOU approve?

Have you told her? Not yet.

She's been waiting to be told.

I believe the proper word in connection with marriage is ask.

You keep saying, "Told."

I know Maria very little, but I've known for weeks that she's in love with you.

Do YOU approve?

It is almost frightening how much in love with you she is.

Then you don't approve.

Why do you ask me at all?

Because you want me to tell you what you already know?

That to marry Maria would be the most senselessly cruel and destructive thing you will ever have done?

As for destruction, we have already been destroyed, you and I.

We have come to the end of our line.

Literally, to the end of the line.

It is time for the Torlato-Favrinis to get off the world.

The fact remains that we are neither unique nor important to the world, and it will go on without us.

How will we be remembered, I wonder.

Why should we be remembered at all?

Nobility, the kind of nobility that continues just because it continues to exist is becoming extinct.

But why?

Because the world has become a changed place, and, like the dinosaurs, we can no longer function in it.

Perhaps that's why I'm incapable of having a child.

Perhaps that's why you... We cannot have come this far and this long to leave nothing behind but some undistinguished, unidentifiable portraits to be hung on the back walls of curiosity shops to gather the dust of the future.

Come here, Eleanora.

The last Contessa.

The world will someday see paintings of her.

And of her and me.

And then it will think, "What a pity, they have gone and left nothing behind."

We will be remembered.

Because the last Contessa was a movie star?

Vincenzo, you cannot marry a woman as if you were putting on a play, because she's the type you have in mind, because she's perfectly cast as a portrait of the last Contessa Torlato-Favrini.

Maria is a living woman too much in love with you.

Have you thought for a moment about her?

Have you thought for a moment about anybody else but yourself, and your obsession with 14 letters of the alphabet arranged in a hyphenated name?

Thought about anybody else? Yes.

Yes, Eleanora, I have.

About everybody else, it seems to me.

I have thought about every individual living man, woman and child in the world, it seems to me.

I've had the time for it, you know, since the 25th of October, 1942, to be exact.

It's a lot of time, especially when it stands still with loneliness.

Especially when there are no days and nights in it, but just days that turn black when the sun goes down.

It's a lot of time, especially when there is nothing to think about but all the living men, women and children in the world and nothing to do but to think about them.

And no way to forget that I am none of them.

Perhaps I have become, as you put it, obsessed by our name and our past, and the absence of our future, and by our paintings.

As if in some magical way, our long line of paintings will accomplish what we cannot.

I hadn't wanted this.

It has happened to me without my wanting, almost without my knowing.

You are quite right, and I do not have the right, but I do love Maria.

"The bride on whom the rain doth fall. "

I read the official announcement in the ship's newspaper on my way over about six months ago that Maria Damata was going to marry Count Torlato-Favrini.

The gossip columns had been full of rumors for weeks, mostly the kind of angry insinuations they write when nobody's really got the story.

They even got on me, figuring I knew more than I was telling.

They were right.

I'd had many letters from Maria.

What I knew was that the prince had finally caught up with Cinderella, and that nothing remained but the slipper business, and a happy life ever after.

Maria was trousseau shopping in Rome when I got here, so I went to work.

Maria!

Eddie! Yes, boss.

You and Jack keep looking for that alley.

I'll see you back at the hotel.

Well! Well.

How's Jerry? Jerry's fine. Sends her love.

You look fine. I feel fine.

Well...

Well.

I'm behaving like 13 years old.

Don't kid yourself. You look 14 if you look a day.

Where do you want to begin?

There was no beginning.

As if all my life I had lived in a dark place, and all at once the lights went on.

That's the way it happens in fairy tales.

Are you still bewitched?

And bewildered? No.

Never in my life have I been more sure of myself, and of everything else.

Tell me about him.

How can I? What will I tell you?

That he is handsome and tall, and good and kind, and proud and so on?

This is how the hero is described in the cheap magazines one reads at the hairdresser.

Then what is he that the hero is not?

This is what I...

I do not know how to tell you.

For instance?

I say I cannot tell you something and you say, "Tell it."

Harry, the director. I say I cannot play a scene, and you say, "Play it."

And you do.

So, for instance?

It would sound silly even to try, but perhaps not to you.

Harry, you won't laugh, but it is really like in the story of La Cenicienta and the prince.

What is? Everything, even when we're alone together.

How do you mean that?

And now you will laugh.

He kisses my hand.

Well, that figures. Standard opening.

And now, you are being deliberately stupid.

No, I'm...

Oh! So he kisses your hand, period.

Is that all right with you?

Oh, of course.

Yes, as it should be with a Contessa.

In a fairy tale.

How long has it been since you've known him?

Almost six weeks.

Six weeks of being near you, day and night.

Sometimes he holds me with his two hands like this and just looks at me.

Are you sure he can see you?

He sees more than any man I've ever known, except perhaps you.

I'm not seeing much of anything at the moment.

I've told you that he is what other men are not.

That seems obvious.

It also seems obvious that maybe we're carrying this fairytale nonsense a little too far, right smack into reality.

I don't want this to be a shock to you, but a count is a man and a contessa is a woman.

You had better see for yourself.

Oh, no, no, no. I want to hear more about this.

No. I have a sitting and I'm late.

Looking back, I probably wasn't as worried then as I now think I was, but I do know that I was filled with a sudden uneasiness.

Good afternoon.

Well, Harry? Say something.

Ooh! Wait till they hear about this in Southern California.

In six months, Beverly Hills will have more statues than orange trees.

Where does it go? Right where it is.

Although, due to a whim of Maria, it will be more at home in our garden.

As you can see, she has insisted upon posing with bare feet.

Have I failed to understand something amusing?

Ah, it's a private joke just a stupid one that can't be explained and make sense.

Il Signor Tivi would appreciate having Maria to himself without distractions, I think.

I know exactly how he feels.

The single most difficult thing in the world is getting an actor to stand still.

Won't you change your mind and stay for dinner, Mr. Dawes?

We'd be pleased if you would. No. Unhappily, I can't.

We're off location-hunting first thing in the morning and a lot of work tonight.

I'm overdue right now, as a matter of fact.

Maria seems so happy to have you here.

I do hope you won't be returning to America too soon.

It'll be quite a while.

We will see you before then, I am sure, but I know that Maria would want you to be at our wedding.

Oh, haven't you heard?

I'm giving the bride away.

And I did give her away, in an ancient chapel, witnessed by a handful of strangers, I gave the hand of Maria Vargas into that of Vincenzo, Count Torlato-Favrini.


The servants had their own party after the wedding.

Nobody can tell me it was like that when the Borgias got married.

More going on outside the palazzo than inside.

Anyway, there were two receptions, and knowing the bride as I did, I could tell she felt she'd come to the wrong reception.

The accordion player is the gardener's son.

The guitarist, the gardener.

I do not know who plays the violin.

Paganini. He's the pastry cook.

They must have more guests out there than we have in here.

Oh, and that's as it should be.

Aristocracy only started to collapse when there got to be more aristocrats than servants.

And they're having more fun. That, they are.

On my wedding night, Harry, I thought that you would be happier for me than you seem to be.

Are you happy?

Well, then I'm happy.

It's just so different from what I pictured.

I had something corny in mind, like, oh, dancing at your wedding.

Real bashful boy stuff.

Then, come dance with me out there.

We belong out there anyway.

Maybe I do, but not you.

Not anymore, Contessa.

Vincenzo, would you object to dancing with me out there?

I would not object to anything you wanted to do.

However, I don't think you'd want to spoil their fun.

But they're celebrating our wedding.

Don't they expect us?

I imagine they are afraid we might turn up.

It's difficult to believe, living in this day and age.

What makes you think we're living in this day and age?

Well, the time has come.

Bedtime for children under 12 and movie directors.

I'll see you to the door.

In case I haven't been heard above the hubbub, once more, I congratulate you. Thank you.

And me. And you.

Oh, uh...

I've got to say something. I hope you won't mind.

I won't know until after you've said it.

My relationship with Maria, it's been a strange one from the start.

I've never known what it was, really.

Friend, director, confessor, part-time amateur psychiatrist.

And as of the moment, father of the bride?

As of the moment, more like a godfather.

A fairy godfather, with a sense of reality.

No one could wish for anything more.

She's lived her whole life as a fairy tale, you know.

No. I did not know.

And she's never been in love before, take my word for it.

She's vulnerable, wide-open to be hurt badly.

Emotionally, she's a child.

She's wrapped all her adolescent dreams up in one dream prince, and you're it.

That's quite a responsibility.

I don't want her hurt badly.

I don't want her hurt at all.

Do you think I do?

I don't mind what you have said, Mr. Dawes, but I wonder why did you find it necessary to say?

Oh, I don't know.

My sense number six again, maybe.

Number six?

Another private joke.

Good night. Good night.

I have seen you like this once or twice before, when your characters do not work out as you have planned, or when they have taken a step by themselves and you're not sure what the next step will be.

Let's not talk about my script here and now.

I'm not. You know that I'm talking about me.

It's not going to be easy.

Has it been up till now?

Good luck, Contessa. Don't you call me that.

I've forgotten the Spanish for Cinderella.

Not that, either.

Some relationship we have.

Three pictures together, and not even a nickname.

What is not going to be easy?

I wish I knew.

I wish I knew.


I saw her just once more after that wedding night.

Twice, really.

But the second time she was dead.

The first time was exactly a week ago.

It rained all that day and all that night.

It hasn't stopped since, come to think of it.

I was holed up at my hotel doing some last-minute rewriting.

Just because you're a contessa...

Are you happy to see me?

Doesn't give you the right to walk out of my life and then walk right back in, any rainy night you feel like it.

I was just looking.

There isn't much to see.

I like to decide for myself.

For a contessa who doesn't drink, that's cognac.

I know.

How was your trip?

You mean my honeymoon?

Whatever it was you were going on the morning after your wedding.

I don't want my honeymoon to be called a trip. It was fine.

You've been away all this time?

How much time has it been?

I've never known a bride who couldn't tell you, almost to the minute, for the first year or so.

Thirteen weeks, three days,

seven hours and twelve minutes.

No, I have not been away all that time.

We have been home for 10 weeks.

It was nice of you to drop in. Just passing by, I imagine.

Why, you don't have to hide. It's just me.

I have to. I can't look at you.

Now, you didn't drive here in a rainstorm not to look at me.

I'm on your side, remember?

Harry...

At any rate, this is what I have known.

I have known what it is like to be in love,

to be married in a church to a man that I love,

and on my wedding night, to wait for him with my heart full of love.


I have loved you all of my life.

This is why I have never been able to love anyone else before you.

You have been unreal to me for so long, it is hard to believe that all of this is not something I dreamed a long time ago.

Is it true that you love me?

I do love you.

Maria, there are things that must be said sometimes for which there are no words, or at least no way to say them so that they are not ugly and full of pain.

You find it hard to believe that this is not just a dream you dreamed a long time ago.

It might very well be just that.

Almost everything that has to do with us has been dreamlike up to now.

How we met and why we met, our understanding, without question and without surprise, that we were never to be apart again.

How much more like a dream can a dream be?

But inevitably, there comes a time for waking up, even for us.

A time for facing the pain and ugliness that can be kept out of dreams, but not out of reality.

It is important that you believe everything I say to you now.

I love you with all of my heart.

Do you believe me?

You are everything I would want as my wife.

I would want no one else. I'm proud of you.

I want to make you as happy as I can as long as I live.

As for the rest of what I have to say, you will find it neatly typed at some length, on this piece of paper.

Would it not be better if you told me?

No.

It looks like an army document of some kind.

It is in Italian, and I do not understand.

Che sara, sara.

That is also Italian.

Apparently, I'm not to be let off anything.

Yes, it is an army document, a medical report, dated October 25, 1942 from a base hospital in Benghazi.

It describes in detail the degree to which my body was blown apart by an explosion, and with understandable pride, the skill with which they put some of it together again.

Do you understand now why it is so important to me for you to believe that I love you with all of my heart?

The report will tell you that almost the only undestroyed part of me is my heart.

I love you with all of it.


So that was it.

What?

Nothing.

Tell me, how long could you stand it?

What do you mean?

How long could you stand it?

As long as I could.

And who's the lucky peasant?

The gardener, or his son? The chauffeur? The stable boy?

Who's the Contessa's cousin this week?

Harry, I couldn't help myself! Neither could he!

That's the unholy pity of it.

The one man in all of your fantasy and the one woman in all of his.

You could have made each other happy.

And once more, life louses up the script.

But I will make him happy.

Look, will he let you go back to work?

I can wind this one up in six weeks.

In the meantime, You can take him to California.

You weren't listening to me.

I'm going to make him happy.

How?

How are you going to make him happy?

By more of the same until you get caught?

I don't want to get angry with you, Harry.

Then why did you come here? Why even tell me about it?

Because I needed to tell you!

Harry, what do you think would make Vincenzo happy?

You.

As the perfect, beyond reproach, last contessa.

That would only make him less unhappy.

What he would wish for more than anything else in the world is that neither he nor his sister nor I be the last.

"Has a wish."

It will come true.

What are you talking about?

I have made it come true.

You what?

What has happened to your sense number six, Harry?

Who knows? Only you and I.

What about the father?

It is not his concern.

The baby will be mine and my husband's.

Do you really believe that?

It will make Vincenzo happy.

Maria, don't you know the man you're married to?

You're talking mawkish nonsense you remembered from cheap films.

Your husband is not something by James M. Barrie or Hans Christian Andersen.

He's a tortured, bitterly neurotic man who's finishing life on his own terms.

No, Harry. This time it is you who does not understand.

I know Vincenzo better than you do.

Amen to that.

How much simpler it would be, for so many of us, if Kirk Edwards had not found it necessary to look for a new face.

Can I help you in any way?

Who's going to tell him about it? I am, of course.

When?

Tomorrow.

It will be difficult for me.

Suppose...

Just suppose he doesn't see it your way.

What will you do?

What every other woman would do.

I will have my baby.

What about... Whoever he is?

That is all over.

I am going to tell him now, tonight.

That will not be difficult at all.


She is dead, Mr. Dawes, and so is he.

I have known for some time that there was someone.

It may be a questionable compliment, but I did not suspect you, even though Maria visited you tonight.

What did she tell you?

What did she say to you?

She just wanted to talk about old times.

For a skillful writer, Mr. Dawes, you are an incredibly clumsy liar.


Did Maria have a chance to say anything to you before...

No.

What could she have had to say to me?

Not a thing.


There is no need for you to stay, Mr. Dawes.

I sent for the police.

It may be embarrassing for you.

I'll hang around.

Do you know any Spanish?

Very little.

The Spanish word for Cinderella?

I've been told a dozen times.

It's just a word I keep forgetting.


Blue skies, boss. We'll have some sun tomorrow.

Yeah, we'll get a good day's work done tomorrow.