The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966) Script

Ow!

Oh, murder.! Oh, murder.!

Murder! Help! A man's gettin' murdered!

Murder.! Help.! Help.!

Help!


It's Calver Weems! He's dead!

He's been murdered! Oh, don't panic! Don't panic!

Oh, Luther, Luther, it was terrible!

He was walking along the street, when bang!

Right on the head. With that.

Did you see who did it? No.

It was just bang! Right on the head! With that!

I'll get a picture of it. Let's see.

F-32. And it's dark. It's been raining.

And... Oh, for heaven sakes, stand back, Susanna! Stand back! Get out of the way!

And for heaven sakes, don't touch anything. This is all evidence.

He was just walking down the street, when bang!

Right on the head! All right. I'll get a picture of the murder weapon.

Bang! Right on the head!

I was just getting ready to brush my teeth and watch Lawrence Welk, when I looked out the window and bang!

For heaven sakes, Susanna! Pull yourself together!

I'm going to the police station. You get on the phone and call my editor.

Who? George Beckett!

Tell him to get down to the police station as soon as possible.

And for heaven sakes, whatever you do, keep your head!

I don't want to stay here by myself!

Well, I told you to get on the phone and call my editor!

Now, go on!

Aah!

Hey, Heggs. Wait a minute.

Ollie, what are you doin' here? The price tag on your suit's hangin' out.

That's my press card, and you know it. Beckett called. What's up?

I got a story! That's what's up!

You just sit tight. If there's a story, I'll handle it.

Chief! You'd better get somebody out to the old Simmons mansion right away!

A terrible thing happened! I got the pictures and everything!

I was coming down the street... Now, wait a minute, Luther. Just calm down.

Give it to me nice and slow. I was comin' down the street...

Too fast. Yeah, cool it, sport.

What happened, Luther? Well, I was comin' down the street...

What's up? Oh, Mr. Beckett, I'm glad...

I got this call from Susanna Blush: two-by-fours, Calver Weems, Lawrence Welk...

I'm glad you're here. I got a real scoop... pictures and everything.

I've been trying to get the story from Walter Cronkite here, but he just won't give.

What's this all about? I don't know. He's so keyed up.

Will somebody listen to me? All right, Luther. Just calm down.

Calm? Calm?

Do "murder" and "calm" go together?

"Calm" and "murder"? "Murder"?

Murder? Murder!

Well, all right, Luther. Let's hear it.

All right! Well, I was out on Warren Harding Road... and I passed the Simmons mansion when all of a sudden I heard this scream...

"Help! Help! Murder!" Murder?

Yeah, murder. Quick as a flash, I whipped my Edsel around, I sped back to the scene of the crime, got out of the car... and there it was.

Do I have to tell you how I felt when I saw it laying there?

Saw what? The dead body of Calver Weems.

He'd been bludgeoned to death by a board.

I'd better get somebody out there right away.

Did you see that happen? No, Susanna Blush saw it. She's an eyewitness.

Susanna Blush. Yeah. Lives across the street. An eyewitness.

Was she on the street? No, she saw it from an upstairs window. Eyewitness, though.

You said that, sonny. Did you get pictures of the body?

Left, right, profile, head-on. Fine, fine.

You actually saw the murder weapon, Luther?

Yeah, a two-by-four. I got a picture of it.

Two-by-four? Yeah! What's up?

Don't bother us now, Calver. We got a murder on our ha...

Calver!

Calver, what are you doing here? You're dead!

I knew it. I knew it. I'm sorry, Chief.

But... I saw you layin' there...

I want this drunk thrown in the tank.

Throw me in the tank? She's the one that hit me! With a board that thick!

What are you tryin' to do? Make a fool out of me?

You don't need much help, scoop. Put him in number three.

But you're dead! I am not.

I saw ya! I did too! You did not!

You didn't. Didn't! Did! Did!

Didn't! Didn't! Didn't! Did! Did! Did!

All right, you two. That's enough.

Come on, loved one. But...

But I got the pictures and everything.

Luther, from now on, let Ollie and me run the paper and write the stories.

You just keep setting the type. Hmm?

But I was sure... Good night, Luther.

Nice work... scoop.


Scoop! Yeah.

Calver looked so natural! I got to get a new suit for the funeral.

Wonder who done him in? I can't wait to read the morning paper and find out.

All right, you two guys. You just better watch it.

You see these two hands? They're just as hard as steel.

Hey, look at him, Billy Ray. He's a karate champion. We better watch ourselves.

Go ahead, Luth. Yeah, do something.

Why don't you run up an alley and holler "fish"?

Wait. Then, all of a sudden, in walks Calver Weems.

And Luther says to him, "Cal, what are you doing here?

You're dead.!"

We shouldn't laugh. We really shouldn't.

You know, he took a close-up of a two-by-four. Can you imagine that?

Morning, everybody. Good morning, Luther.

Morning, scoop.

A person is never dead until their pulse is stopped, Luther.

Mr. Ace Reporter, would you pass the marmalade, please?

Lay off, will ya, Ollie?

Oh, now, Ollie, enough is enough.

I don't blame Luther one iota.

If I'd seen someone laying in front of that spooky place, I'd think he was dead too.

It's a murder house. I wouldn't go near there for $100.

I wouldn't go near there for 200.

Three hundred. Four.

Five. Six.

Girls, girls, please. Anyway, it's a murder house.

Murder and suicide. Murder and suicide.

Well, thank the good Lord they're finally tearing that place down.

Tearing it down? Mm-hmm.

Ephraigm Simmons's nephew came to town two days ago.

Nicholas! Nick!

Anyway, he's finally getting the will probated.

I hear he's gonna bulldoze it to the ground.

Didn't they question him about that murder at the time?

Mm-hmm. He was cleared.

I never liked his eyes. So dark.

His eyes were blue. Dark eyes.

Girls, really.

All the Simmonses had the Simmons eyes.

Oh. It's Alma, Ollie.

Tell her I'll be right out.

Good morning, Alma. Oh, good morning, Mrs. Miller!

He's still eating, Alma. Why don't you come in for some coffee?

Oh, no, thank you. I'll just stay out here and get some sun.

Oh. As you wish, dear.

Ooh! Love that print!

Thank you. I got it at Belson's.

Three ninety-five.

She's an awful sweet girl. Yeah, she's a good kid.

My niece Malva bought a print at Belson's.

It was red, and had yellow flowers... across the... the bosoms.

Uh... Would you excuse me for just a minute?

You know, I'll never understand... why old Mr. Simmons murdered his wife.

Everyone knows Ephraigm was crazy.

They all had cold eyes with thin lids.

Toast, please, Ollie.

Mmm, sure.

Hi, Luther! Oh! Hi, Alma.

I didn't hear you come up.

Oh, well, I was just, uh...

Uh... How you doin'?

Fine. I just love the sun, don't you?

Oh, yeah. Yeah, l...

I've always liked the sun.

Love your print. Oh, thank you.

Mrs. Cobb's niece Malva bought a print down at Belson's.

It's red with yellow flowers across the...

Ooh! Boy, that sun really beats down on a...

Hi, Ollie! metal car.

Good morning, Sugar. Boy, you look like a million bucks.

Thank you!

Oh, Luther. Calver Weems said not to tell anybody he's dead... until he says so.

Oh, good morning, Bill. Good morning.

Oh, good morning, Eileen.

My, oh, my, what a lovely sweater.

You know, of all your sweaters, I love this one the most.

Mr. Simmons is waiting, Mr. Maxwell.

Hmm? Oh, oh, yes.

Good morning, Nicholas. Oh, I'm so sorry that I'm late.

But we had a seance at the house last night, and it ran on until all hours.

It was a surprise seance for Mrs. Maxwell. Her birthday, you know.

Don't tell me you believe in that sort of thing, Milo.

Well, it means the world and all to Mrs. Maxwell.

Did you sign the papers? Is the title clear?

The title? Uh, the papers?

Oh. Oh, oh, oh, the house. Yes, the house.

Well, uh, no, no. As a matter of fact, no.

But, uh, Delroy Flemming promises to sign the quick deed today.

That'll be it, then? Well, I sign after, then that should finalize it.

I can get my bulldozers in on Monday, then.

Well, now, I don't understand that, Nicholas. Why bulldoze it down?

If you took it down piece by piece, you could sell some of that beautiful woodwork.

Your uncle imported all that hand-carved work. That must be worth a fortune.

I haven't the time. I've got to get back to Chicago.

Now, you're sure that I can start on Monday, then?

Well, l... I foresee no problems, Nicholas. Good.

I don't know. You try and you try and you try, and what do you get?

Heartaches! Now wait a minute, Luther.

You didn't do so bad. Your pictures turned out nice.

You had a good murder story going there.

Only trouble was, nobody got killed.

Oh, Mr. Boob. That's me.

B-double-O-B... boob!

You know why you thought you saw a murder out there, Luther?

'Cause that's a murder house.

Oh, they can't tear it down too soon for me, I'll tell you that.

Tear it down? Who's tearing it down? Nick Simmons.

But he can't do that without the bank okaying it.

He doesn't have clear title to that property. The bank's got a lien on it.

Well, I guess he's getting all that cleared up.

Oh. So he's back in town, is he?

That's what they say.

Oh, Mr. News. I need a three-inch item for a filler.

"Mr. News."

I'll fill him someday.

So little Nick is finally getting his way, eh?

What did you say, Mr. Kelsey?

You know, Luther, I was working out there at the time of the murder.

Oh, really? Yeah.

I was the gardener. Is that right?

Young Mrs. Simmons was a beautiful, beautiful woman.

Sparkling black eyes and skin like alabaster.

The old man was crazy jealous.

You know, Luther, it was just 20 years ago this week... they were both found dead.

This week? They say what happened was this.

The two of them was in the master bedroom arguin'.

He was in a jealous rage. Suddenly he became violent.

Stabbed her right in the throat. They never did find out what with.

Then he went completely loco.

He ran up into the tower, blood dripping from his hands, and played that pipe organ of his.

It was midnight, Luther, and he sat there... playin' and laughin' and screamin' to beat the band.

When the music reached its peak, he suddenly jumped up and threw himself out the window.

They say the ghost of old man Simmons... still climbs the tower... and plays the organ... at midnight.

Luther.! Aah!

Let's have that filler.!

Well, me, I just don't happen to believe in ghosts... particularly.

You know, Luther, I got an idea... how you could write a story for the paper.

How? That filler.

I think folks'd be interested in reading about the Simmons case again.

It bein' the 20th anniversary and all.

You mean, write my own story instead of using a standard filler?

Sure.

Do you think I dare do that?

'Course you do.

You know why? Huh?

'Cause you got spunk.

You... You know, I guess I got that from my mother.

She had plenty of spunk.

All right.

Let's see.

It was just, uh, 20 years ago... come this Tuesday... that the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Simmons were found.

Mr. Beckett.! Mr. Beckett.

Oh, hello, Mrs. Maxwell. Oh, it's wonderful.

The whole town's talking about it.

I mean, the article on the Simmons mansion.

Absolutely delicious.

Well, thank you. I've had a lot of nice comment about that.

You know, my group and I have always felt... there's a very active spirit life in that old house.

You mean, spooks? Ohh!

We prefer "manifestations."

Well, keep up the good work. I must run.

Say, Ollie. Good reaction on that story on the Simmons place. Do more on it.

Do more? I haven't done anything on it yet. Nick Simmons won't even see me.

You mean, you didn't write this?

No, this isn't mine.

My idea was the passing of a landmark.

Well, if you didn't write it, and I didn't write it, who did?

Um, do you know something about this, Mr. Kelsey?

Oh, what was that? I'm afraid I wasn't following the conversation.

Oh. This.

Oh, the Luther Heggs story.

Luther!

I should have known this was Luther's work.

Here, get this.

"The horribleness and the awfulness of it will never actually be forgotten"?

You know, tomorrow night is the 20th anniversary... of the murder and suicide.

We ought to capitalize on it. Do it with a fresh approach.

I think somebody ought to spend the anniversary night in the house.

I've got an idea. I think somebody ought to spend the anniversary night in the house.

Hey, great! Leave it to me. I'll get in a little before midnight...

No, no. Not you, Ollie.

What we need is somebody with a-a wild imagination.

Someone who's a bit of a coward.

Someone who's a-a little superstitious.

Luther, you all right? I'm fine.

Luther! Of course! But he can't write!

You'll help him.

Uh, Luther? Oh, yes, sir?

Congratulations on that filler. It was a great story.

Oh! Well, thank you. I-I was hoping you wouldn't mind.

We're gonna do a, uh, follow-up.

Front-page lead, and you're going to write it.

A... A byline for me? Oh, for gosh sakes!

Do you believe in ghosts? Oh, you ought to know better than to ask that, Chief.

The supernatural doesn't bother you? Not a speck.

Uh, do haunted houses scare you?

They're mortar, stone and wood.

Well, good, because you're gonna spend the murder night in the Simmons house.

Alone.

Oh, well, now... Just a second.

Uh... Uh... What's the matter, Ace? You scared?

Oh, well, heck, no.

You kiddin'? It's just that I, uh, got to check my bowling schedule and everything.

Oh, well, you think it over, Luther, and let us know tomorrow.

This is a great chance for you, Luther.

Oh, yeah.

Why don't you go out there tonight and just look it over?

Yeah. Maybe I'll do that.

I mean, after all, it's only mortar...

Stone...

And wood.

And wood.


Aah!

Luther Heggs. Nicholas Simmons.

What are you doing in front of my house?

What are you asking for it? It's not for sale. I'm tearing it down.

Oh, well, I guess I'll just have to... build.

Luther! Hi.

Oh, hi, Alma.

Oh, you, you going to lunch?

No, just on my way in to have lunch.

Going to have lunch, huh? Mm-hmm.

Yeah, well... What time is it?

Hmm? Oh, uh, 12:00.

Yeah, well, that's lunchtime, all right. Yes, it is.

Why don't we have lunch together? Oh, yeah!

Okay. Oh, first...

I have to mail this for Mr. Beckett right away.

I'll get us a booth and order for you. What would you like?

Well... Chicken noodle soup.

Okay, fine. See you in a minute.

I'm having chicken noodle soup with Alma!

Oh, well, this was the only table left, but this gentleman is just about finished.

I'm almost up to myJell-O.

Oh. Oh, well...

Did you happen to see yesterday's paper?

Mm-hmm. What did you think of it?

What do you mean? The story on the Simmons place.

Oh, yes, I did see that. That was mine.

Really?

Gee, I didn't know you were a reporter. I thought you were just a typesetter.

Oh, well, no. I am now, yeah, but, I mean, that's just background.

I'm working my way up. Oh, I see.

I have a certificate from the Kansas City Correspondence College... in journalism, you know.

Rafe Henderson came out of there, you know. Oh.

Who's Rafe Henderson? He's the one that covered that famous dead whale story.

You know, where that whale washed up on the beach in San Francisco?

Laid there for three weeks. Ugh.

Oh, I'm sorry.

Oh.

Thank you. Uh, who gets the soup?

Yours truly. Oh.

Just put it right there. Okay.

Uh... can you manage?

Oh, sure.

Do you have any more assignments?

Well, as a matter of fact, it's just possible that something very big is about to break.

Don't mention this to anybody.

I may do a follow-up on the Simmons story. Ooh.

They want me to spend tonight in the Simmons house.

It's the 20th anniversary of their murder/suicide, you know.

I know. Gee, that's an exciting idea.

You know, even though most people say they don't believe in ghosts, it takes an awful lot of nerve to spend the night in that spooky old place.

Mmm. Spunk.

Are you gonna do it?

Well...

Uh, aren't you through with yourJell-O?

Hi, baby. Sorry I couldn't have lunch with you.

Ollie, that's Luther's chair. Oh, what's the word, Heggs?

You gonna spend the night in the house or aren't you?

Well, l... I'm giving two to one all over town... that you're not gonna do it, and I'm not getting too many takers either.

Well, I'll tell you something, Ollie. I'm afraid you're gonna lose a lot of money!

Because come 11:30 tonight, I'll be there!

Good-bye, Alma. Put that on my tab.

You haven't got a tab.

Luther.

Mr. Deligondo is getting you his flashlight.

He'll, uh... He'll be here in just a minute.

I was only two blocks away that awful night... at my sister Clara's.

We were sort oflistening to the organ, you know.

The midnight bells were ringing.

I turned to Clara and I said, "Clara, the organ music sounds strange tonight."

Well, what did Clara say?

She said, "Yes, it does."

You know Clara.

Well, they say there are still bloodstains on the organ keys.

That's right.

They've never been able to get them off. And they used Bon Ami.

Everybody says he still comes there... and plays at midnight.

Doesn't play as well as he used to.

You mean, you've heard him play?


It's time to go, Luther.

Uh, yeah.

Yeah, well, I'm gonna... g-go over there now.

Well, uh, I, uh, I guess this is it.

I'll s...

Good-bye, Luther!

Uh, well, I'll see you in the morning.

God willing.


Ollie! I'm just putting your adrenaline in shape, kid.

Well, my adrenaline is just fine, thank you.

You're really going in there, huh? Of course I'm going in there!

What do you think I came out here for? Not to go in there?

Well, don't get so excited, fella.

Well, you know why I'm excited? I'll tell you why I'm excited.

Because of you! That's why I'm excited. Oh, come on, Luther.

You're scared and you know it. You want me to go in there with you?

No, I don't want you to go in there with me.

Oh, you'd love that, wouldn't you? Sharing all the glory.

Well, for your information, fella, I work single-o.

Just me, myself and I.

Okay, Ace. She's all yours. See you around.

Ollie?


Oh!

Rachel Courier Express.!

My flashlight.


Big ghost.

Boo.


Mrs. Simmons.


Who's there?

Is that you, Ollie?

Ollie, you...

You trying to scare me, Ollie?

You in that other room there?

You tryin' to scare me?

Darn you guys! I'll show you!

Holy Toledo.


Blood.


It was terrible! It was just terrible!

Okay, now, Luther. Tell us what happened.

It was terrible! It was just terrible! Oh, no! He's gonna cry!

Now, steady, now, Luther. Tell us about it.

It was terrible! It was just terrible!

I'll never get over it as long as I live!

Hey, great opening line. Uh, "I'll never get over it as long as I live."

Okay, Luther. Go on.

I got to house... lightning, thunder...

Swoosh, zoom! Down coal chute!

"I arrived at the house.

"Giving careful consideration to the most advantageous means of entry, I selected the coal chute. "

"Once inside, I had a look around, "then made myself comfortable for the night.

"Suddenly there was a strange knocking on the wall.

I remained cool." I'll bet.

"Moving swiftly, I found myself in the organ loft.

"There it was, the massive organ...

"shrouded in cobwebs, its once-beautiful ivory keys... still covered with the stains of young Mrs. Simmons's blood."

And they used Bon Ami.

"Later, I descended to the first floor.

"There, I was to see the most horrifying display of all...

"in this bloody parade of terror.

"The portrait of young Mrs. Simmons had been stabbed in the throat...

"with what appeared to be a pair of gardeners' pruning shears."

You've never seen anything like it!

I'll talk to you later. Hey, Al!

Run off another 500. They're selling like hotcakes.

We've made some sort of hero out of Luther, and that Simmons place is the talk of the town.

Come on.

I'm sorry, Mrs. Maxwell. Nicholas Simmons gave me strict orders.

No one's allowed on this property.

Mr. Fuller, you don't seem to understand. We are followers.

We're on the path of the occult.

I'm afraid you won't find anything like that around here.

Well, it's obvious you don't understand.

Our society is dedicated... to contacting the other world.

The Communists? The spiritual world.

Mrs. Maxwell! Mrs. Maxwell!

The cosmic vibrations!

Coming, coming.

Oh, the divine emanations from it.

Hail, cosmic chief.

Taro.! Caro.! Salamond.!

All right, ladies. Break it up.

That's it for today. No demonstrating without a permit.

You have no right to bar us from this house.

I've got my orders. Then I'll have those orders changed.

Well, you'd better do it soon. They're gonna tear it down Monday.

Tear it down?

By whose orders? Nicholas Simmons, the owner.

Are you sure? Positive.

This citadel of the divine, destroyed?

Never!

Milo, look at me when I talk to you.

Halcyon, I promised Nicholas Simmons... that I would clear the title by the first of the week.

Then you haven't signed the final papers yet?

Well, no. No, I haven't. Milo, do you realize how long it's been since we've had a local manifestation?

We always have to go out of town, as far away as Wooster, Ohio.

Oh, Halcyon... Now, don't "Oh, Halcyon" me, Milo.

You don't seem to realize the cosmic importance of this.

Why, this is bigger than the whispering steeple in Kansas City.

It's bigger than the headless ballet dancer in Dublin, Ireland.

And it's even bigger than the day our dear Theresa... received that personal message from Rudolph Valentino in Toledo.

Milo, you will not sign those papers.

Oh, but dear... You won't.

But dear... You won't.

But... I own 51% of the bank stock.

I won't.

Milo, you didn't eat your tapioca.

No wonder you have a nervous stomach.

What kind of a man runs his bank on the whims of his wife?

Well, you just don't know Mrs. Maxwell.

In the name of heaven, man, I've waited 20 years for this!

Well, she owns 51% of the bank's stock, for pete's sake.

Don't tell me your wife believes all that Luther Heggs hogwash!

With all her heart. She came home last night and vibrated for an hour.

Let me get this straight.

You mean, you're not gonna sign the papers?

Well, l... l... I just can't, Nick.

All right. What are you going to do?

When I get through with Luther Heggs, nobody will believe him when he says "Good morning."


Where on earth is Luther?

He'll be late for his own speech.

Celebrities are never on time. There's Alma. Hi, Alma!

Hi, ladies. Have you seen Ollie?

I heard him say he wasn't coming.

I believe his nose is out of joint on account of Luther.

Oh! Here comes Luther!

Hi, hi, hi.

Hello. Hi. How are you?

Hello. Hello. Good to see you.

Uh, hi!

Over here, Luther! Oh! Hi!

How are ya? How are ya?

Mr. Mayor.

All you people who aren't Chamber of Commerce, clear the table area.

Only C of C people here. Come on. Clear the area.

Clear the area. Oh, no. Not you, Mr. Heggs. You stay right where you are.

You too, miss.

That's Alma Parker.

I guess, um, being with you makes me some sort of celebrity.

Well...

How are ya? Are you alone? Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm.

Oh. Well...

Can I have your autograph, Mr. Heggs?

It's not for me. It's for my father.

Sure. Autograph.

There you go. He's cute.

Yeah.

I get to feed the speaker!

That's Loretta Pine. I know.

I just love good food. So do I.

Do you? Uh-huh.

You know, you and I are a lot alike.

My mother liked good food. Oh.

She always used to say, "I'd rather eat good food than bad food any old day of the week."

I guess we're having lunch together again.

Yes, we are.

Would you like to have lunch some evening?

Oh, uh, that is to say, of course, uh, that would be dinner.

Well, l... I-I understand.

I understand. You and Ollie and everything.

Not necessarily.

Y-You mean, you and Ollie aren't, uh...

Not as much as people think.

Oh.

Would you like to have dinner Sunday night? Yeah.

Fine. You're okay. You're C of C. You're okay.

You're C of C. You're okay.

You're not C of C, but you're okay.

You're C of C, and you're okay.

You're...

You're not C of C.

I'm Rotary. Get out of here!

Who are you shovin' around, huh?

Thank you, Billy and Norma Jean Wexler.

And that concludes the musical portion of our program.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honor and a privilege to present... the head of our Chamber of Commerce and the mayor of our town, Carlyle Preston.

Atta boy, Carl!

My fellow citizens of Rachel.

Well, the electrician must be a Democrat.

Atta boy, Carl.

Rachel has been humming for the past few days, and I really don't have to tell you why.

There's been an old house in this town for years... that, if the truth be known, folks have been afraid to go near.

I know I have.

But one of our very own had the pluck to go in.

And that name has been on every tongue.

And the name of that person who's been on every tongue... is none other than... and I really don't have to say it...

Luther Heggs!


Thank you, Mayor, and fellow Rachelanians.

That electrician must be a Democrat.

Th...

Thank you, M-Mayor, and fellow Rachelanians.

I am proud to be here today.

Atta boy, Luther.

Uh, when I was asked to be... guest speaker at this luncheon, I asked myself this:

"Who are you, Luther Heggs, to be a guest speaker at this luncheon?"

I thought about my answer about being a guest speaker... for a long time.

Wh-What is a guest speaker?

Let me clarify this.

I have been called brave.

What is brave?

Let me clarify this.

Of course, we all know that it is short... for bravery.

That goes without even being said.

But it is also a symbol... of another thing.

It is a symbol... of doing one's duty... no matter what is scaring him... personally.

Atta boy, Luther.

Take your World War II.

There were many heroes in World War II.

What were your heroes? Who were your heroes?

Let me clarify this.

Thank you for having me.

Taro, caro, salamond.!

Thank you.

Are you Luther Heggs, 1347 Lucerne Road?

You know me, Lester.

Loved your speech, Luther. Thank you. What do you want me to write on this?

Nothing. You don't write on a summons.

Summons? Summons? He got a summons.

He got a summons!

Well, exactly what is libel, Mr. Beckett?

It's when you print an untruth about someone that damages them, Luther.

Well, who did I damage? "Whom."

Whom? The Simmons' family name.

Mr. Simmons. Room 51.

Step down. Mr. Heggs, can I have your autograph?

He wants my autograph. Sure.

Just draw a little ghost under it there.

Okay.

Thank you.

Gentlemen.

My attorney, Mr. Whitlow.

Mr. Whitlow. Mr. Whitlow.

Well, let's get right down to business.

Heggs, as you know, I'm suing you personally, and Beckett, I'm suing the Rachel Courier Express, of which you are editor and owner.

Now, if I win this suit, and I will, I'm going to take the paper.

And if I take Beckett's paper, where are you going to work, Mr. Heggs?

I don't know. Chicago Trib, Pittsburgh Press maybe.

Now, I don't wanna sue and waste all that time in court, so I have an alternative to offer.

Simply publish the fact that this story is... a figment of Heggs' imagination and I'll call off the suit.

What do you say? In other words, you want a retraction. Is that it?

Exactly.

Luther, tell me once more that what you said happened really happened.

It happened. The wall did open?

Whoosh, right open. And the organ?

Played and played and played.

Nobody at it? Not a soul, just cobwebs.

And the shears in the throat? Shears in the throat!

No retraction.

All right, we'll see you in court.

Heggs, when I get you on the stand, I'm gonna tear you to shreds.

Just who do you think you are?

A little pip-squeak like you fighting us in court?

Just who do you think you are?

Drop dead! That's who!

Right, Mr. Beckett? Mr. Beck... Mr. Beck... Mr. Beckett? Mr. Beckett?

Boy, you should've heard me telling them off back there.

Well, you better save your breath for the courtroom. You're gonna need it.

Step up, please.

I'm sorry, Mr. Heggs.

Boy, that was just about the best pounded steak I ever ate.

I'm glad you enjoyed it. Mother really is a wonderful cook.

Oh, yes, she is. Boy, a guy could get fat.

What was that you just did? Oh, that was just... That's karate.

I didn't know you knew karate. Oh, yeah.

I've been studying it by mail for years.

My whole body's a weapon.

Well, that's worthwhile. Yeah.

Would you like to sit down? Oh, sure. Mm-hmm.

It's nice out. Yeah.

I guess you think I'm worried about this trial business tomorrow.

Oh, well... Well, it's all part of the game.

A newspaper man has to do whatever comes along.

Everything will be all right. You'll see.

I've never been on one of those stands before.

You'll do just fine.

Alma, do you think I'm crazy?

Luther, what a silly question.

Well, some people seem to think so.

You know very well the whole town is behind you.

Billy Ray Fox and guys like that ain't.

Well, Billy Ray Fox's opinion isn't worth a hill of beans.

Hill of beans.

You know something, Alma? What?

A-Alma? Hmm?

W-Well, the-the thing is this, Alma.

I mean, well, you're a darn attractive girl.

Thank you. Yeah, well, that's okay.

Me, I'm a... I'm a... I'm a guy... and, well, I mean... what I mean to say is... you-you take your average guy and your above-average girl.

And, well, the point is... that people, well...

What I'm trying to say is... that average, average is just... just is darn lucky... to be sittin' on the same porch with above-average.

And what I mean by that is... Luther.

Are you trying to say that you like me?

Yeah.

I like you too, Luther.


I'm sorry, folks, I'm sorry, but the courtroom is all filled.

Now let's get this door cleared, please. Please!

Look, here comes Luther!

Go get 'em, Luther.! Go get 'em.!

Good luck, Luther.

Thank you.

What was that all about? What?

That cute little nip on the cheek. What's going on?

You don't own me, Ollie. You never did.

Oh.

Well, excuse me.

Taro, caro, salamond.

Yeah, that's right.

Atta boy, Luther.!

Norman. Hi, Mr. Springer.

How are you feelin', Luther? Oh, 3-0.

Boy, this place is really buzzin'. Yeah.


Hi, ladies.

Have you got a clean hankie?

Yeah.

This may cost me my job, but I hope they fry you.

What'd he say?

Uh, nothing.

All rise.

Oyez, oyez, oyez. District court of Rachel County is now in session.

Judge Harley Nash presid... It's all right, Charley, I'm here.

All right, you folks, let's have a little quiet here. Atta boy, George.!

Now, uh, this is a case of libel.

Nicholas Simmons versus Luther Heggs, Miles Beckett and the Rachel Courier Express.

Where's my water, Charley? Okay, Mr. Whitlow, you can start it up. Thank you, Your Honor.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I intend to prove...

Here's your water, Judge.

Thank you, Charley. Where's the Bible? I haven't got it.

Haven't you got it? No, I haven't got it. I left it right here.

Can't run a court without a Bible. Arnold, you got the Bible?

Oh, thanks, Arnold. Here it is, Judge. Arnold had it.

Atta boy, Arnold.!

Thank you, Tom. All right, Mr. Whitlow, you can start her up again.

Thank you, Your Honor.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, it is my intent to prove that Luther Heggs did willfully and with full intent... concoct and publish a fabrication injurious... to the family name of my client, Nicholas Simmons.

I will prove, in fact, that this fabrication... is the product of the imagination of a man... whose dreams and ramblings are a danger to this community.

He's trying to say I'm crazy. With your permission, Your Honor, I should like to call my first witness, Miss Neva Tremaine.

Miss Neva Tremaine.

Who is she? She's my old grade school teacher.

Ma'am, just right up to the stand.

You wanna put your left hand on the Bible and raise your right hand, please.

You solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Mm-hmm. I do.

Charley, your fingernails. I had a flat on the way to work.

Be seated, please.

Would you state your name and address, please? Mm-hmm.

Neva Tremaine, 312 "E" Street, Rachel, Kansas.

And your occupation, please. Schoolteacher.

Willow Road Elementary School, third grade, retired.

Was there one Luther Heggs a student of yours?

Mm-hmm, he was. Hi, Luther.

How would you describe Mr. Heggs as a boy?

Oh, Luther was a very good boy.

He got three blue stars in deportment... and three gold stars in penmanship.

How else would you describe him?

He was painfully thin and very keyed up.

Would you elaborate on that phrase, "keyed up"?

Well, let's see.

Well, for one thing, he never ate the crusts on his sandwiches at lunch.

I object. I move that that statement be stricken from the record.

A lot of people trim the crust on their bread.

Young man, he didn't trim them.

He ate the inside out and left the crust.

Overruled.

And more specifically, Miss Tremaine, how else did he behave, being keyed up, I mean?

His shoes fell off a lot.

But I suppose that could be because he was so thin and ran so much.

Was he a talkative boy? Well, when he had a good story to tell.

And Luther made up some beauties.

What kind of stories, Miss Tremaine? Oh, wild things.

Can you recall any of them specifically?

Well, I remember he told all the boys... that he found a real skeleton in MacQueen's barn.

Of a squirrel! A squirrel! I never said a person skeleton!

Now you just quiet down, Luther, or I'm gonna have to cite you for contempt.

They were my brother's shoes. That's why they fell off. Atta boy, Luther.!

Quiet down now, folks.

Do you recall any other of Mr. Heggs' imaginative ramblings, Miss Tremaine?

Oh, lots of things. He told MaryJane Panucci... that the filling in his eyetooth... was a shortwave radio... and he used to get messages from Admiral Byrd.

I only wanted her to like me. Go on, Miss Tremaine.

Well, I remember...

I once asked my students to write a theme called, "My father."

And Luther wrote that his father was really the Prince of Wales, but that there was a mix-up at the hospital.

Your witness.

No questions.

You can step down now, Neva. Thank you, Harley.

I hope I helped you, Luther.

Don't you worry about a thing, Luther.

I've got a surprise witness coming in.

Thank you, Your Honor. I'll proceed.

Your full name, sir. Gaylord Patie.

And what is your occupation? I'm a certified public accountant for the state.

Now, then, I understand that you, Mr. Patie, have heard the organ playing in the Simmons mansion.

Am I correct, sir? You are.

I have heard organ music coming from the tower of the Simmons mansion... on three separate occasions.

That's why I came to you, Mr. Springer.

And at what time did you hear this music?

At the stroke of midnight.

And what else have you heard coming from the Simmons mansion, Mr. Patie?

On the first occasion, a woman's scream.

And on the second and third occasions, a man's scream.

What kind of screams were they, Mr. Patie?

Wild, maniacal screams.

Thank you. Your witness.

Mr. Patie, I understand that you're president of the International Conclave...

For Unidentified Flying Objects. That is correct, sir.

Where was your last meeting? On Mars.

You may step down.

Wait till I get Heggs on the stand.

Luther Heggs to the stand, please.

Luther Heggs.

Taro, caro, salamond.

Luther, what is that all about?

Uh, taro, caro, salamond.

Oh. Well, you lodge women, you just sit down and keep seated.

All right, Charley, swear in the witness.

Put your left hand on the Bible and raise your right hand, please.

You swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? I do.

Be seated. All right, Mr. Whitlow.

Your, uh...

Your full name is Luther Heggs, is that correct? Yes, sir.

Do you mind if I call you Luther? Fine.

Relax, son. Oh, I am.

I'll try not to keep you on the stand any longer than necessary, Luther.

Oh, I don't mind. It's all part of the game.

What game is that? The newspaper game.

Oh, I see. You really love the newspaper game, don't you, Luther?

Yeah, I sure do. I guess if you cut me, I'd bleed ink.

That's very funny. Thank you.

You certainly have a flair for turning a colorful phrase, Luther.

Well... Well, when you work with words, words are your work. Mmm, bravo.

Yes, I expect you learn a good deal about words down there in that typesetting room.

Oh, I'm just filling in time in the typesetting room.

Oh, I see. You'd do anything to become a full-time reporter, is that correct?

Well, sure. Who wouldn't? After all, a chance...

Including exaggerating and fabricating, eh? Gotta be a fool to... What?

I'm asking you a question! Can't you curb your imagination for one minute?

Can't you curb your tongue for a minute? Atta boy, Luther.!

Quiet down.

Isn't it true, Heggs, that you were offered a full-time job as a reporter... if you brought back a sensational story from that house?

A story which, in truth, you made up out of your own head.

No, that's not true. I saw those things.

Yes, yes. I heard those things!

He heard those things.

Those church bells rang! Yes, yes!

The organ played! Oh, yes, it played.

I saw the bloodstains on the keys, and they're still there!

And they used Bon Ami!

Tell it, Luther! Tell it! And when I ran downstairs, I came face to face with a painting of Mrs. Simmons.

There was a pair of garden shears stuck in her throat, blood gushing from the wound!

Mrs. Maxwell fainted, Judge.

Some of you huskies back there pick her up... and get her out under a tree or something.

Keep her head up! Keep her feet up!

No, keep her head higher than her feet!

Quiet! Quiet down!

Quiet down.!

Quiet down here now.!

You listen to me, 'cause I'm gonna tell you something right now.!

I don't know whether I believe in ghosts or not.

Many the night I've talked about this with my missus.

But I do know, there's only one way of finding out... if there's something going on in that Simmons place.

This court hereby orders the jury and interested parties... to meet here in front of this courthouse at 11:30 tonight.

And we're going down to the Simmons house and see for ourselves.

Court's adjourned.

All right, ladies, back up now.

Back up, ladies. Back. Back up. Back up.

Okay, Chief, looks like we're all ready.

Open her up. All right, Judge.

Judge, you're all right. You're all right.

Good luck, Luther. Oh.

I believe in you, Luther. I believe in what you stand for.

And my group is sharing this with you.

And that's akin to love.

Well, taro, caro... Salamond!

You're coming in with me, aren't you? I don't think they'll let me.

Come on. You're with me. Okay.

She's with me! Luther, Alma, Kelsey... Kelsey!

Where do you think you're going? Press.

Who do you think you're kidding? Out! Out! Out!

Sorry.

Uh, I better go in first.

All right, everybody, this way.

Now let me have your attention for just one minute.

Now I'm gonna take you on a tour duplicating my movements of that night.

Now you're apt to see some pretty frightening things, but don't panic, you're in no real personal danger.

Now you ladies of thejury, stay close together.

Hold hands if you wish.

First, I'm gonna take you into the den and then up to the organ loft...

Say, isn't that the picture of Mrs. Simmons you were talking about?

Yeah, well, first I wanna take them into the den. Well, it is, isn't it?

Where's the garden shears? Where's the blood?

It seems to me there should be a hole in it somewhere.

Well, I'm sure there is.

Let me... I'll just show you... Well, I mean...

Well, that's funny.

Maybe that's not the same picture.

I don't think that's the same picture. That's okay, Luther.

If you've seen one picture of a woman with shears stuck in her throat, you've seen 'em all.

Luther, why don't you start the tour with the wall that opens. Yeah, yeah.

All right, everybody, I'm gonna show you the wall that opens. The opening wall!

Right this way.

I know what our trouble was back there.

That happened after the midnight bells. My mind's wide open.

All right, people, in here. Right in here.

Okay, here it is. The panel that opens.

Right here it is.!

You're gonna see the opening panel.!

Now, I was standing about right here.

I picked up a book... and I threw it at the bookcase... and whoosh, she opened.

I-I-I picked up a book... and I threw it, and whoosh!

Whoosh!

Well, I picked... picked up a book and l...

I-I can't understand it. It... It opens up!

There's-There's a staircase in there and everything.

He's a real loser.

Luther, it's almost midnight.

Maybe we better be getting along to the organ part of it.

But I can't understand it. It opened right up!

Whoosh! That's right.

Yeah. Well... All right, all right, up to the organ loft!

Come on, folks. Up to the organ loft.

Follow me to the organ loft. The organ loft is next.

Now, folks, it's almost midnight, and the ghost of Mr. Simmons will be up in the organ loft in just a matter of minutes.

All right. Folks, Priscilla here doesn't want to go up.

Any of you other ladies feel the same way?

The men feel the same way too, Judge.

Very well. Jury is excused from going up in the organ loft.

You can wait down here for us in the entry hall.


Look, the bloodstains. That's right. I told you.

What time you got, Judge?

It's, uh, just ten seconds to midnight.

Good. All right, steady does it.

Okay.

Here we go. This is ridiculous.

Come on now.

Come on. Come on, baby.

Come on.!

One and a two and...

Luther, I think that's about it.

But... But... it played!

I'm tellin' you, it played!

You saw the bloodstains on the keys!

It played.

It played.

Oh, here they come! Here they come!

Make room! Make room!

Make room. Clear a path here. Clear a path.

Might as well tell these people to go home, Chief. There's nothing in there.

Just an old empty house. Just imagination.

All right, folks, break it up. It's all over.

Judge says there's nothing in there.

Run along home.


Well, we're finished, Luther.

You better find yourself another job.

I'm sorry, Mr. Beckett. Couldn't we just...

Please, just leave me alone, Luther!

Just leave me alone, hmm?


Mr. Kelsey!

You!

I thought this would get you back in here, Luther.

Where are the others? They all left. You mean, you?

It was me playin' the organ the night you were here.

I stabbed the painting, everything.

But when the organ was playing, there was nobody at it.

There's a tuning keyboard under the pipes.

Well... where were you tonight?

That dumb Herkie wouldn't let me in.

What's this all about? I don't understand.

That sounds like Alma.

Come on. No, no.!

One step closer and I'll kill her.!

Know what these are, Mr. Simmons?

That's right.

They're my shears! The ones you used to kill your aunt.

And you left them there to pin it on me!

I'll kill her, Kelsey! Now let me out of here.

Won't do you a bit of good, Nicky.

Now everybody's gonna know about this staircase. Your big alibi, Nicky.

It won't help to bulldoze the house down now! That's far enough!

You go downstairs and come up behind him.

How? Push the andiron. It opens the panel in the study.

Andiron?


You killed them both, didn't you?

Killed them both for the money and then tried to pin it on me!

I'll kill her, Kelsey.!

Aaah!

Stay out of this, Heggs!

Don't give up now, Luther. Get him!

Stay back, Heggs! Stay back, stay back!

Get him, Luther.!

Get him.! Don't let him get away.!

I'll kill her, Kelsey.

Aaah!

Alma, call the police.

Well, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

He's right. I pushed the andiron, and the wall opened up.

Well, you just better learn to take the word of the press, Chief.

All right, now let me get this whole thing straight.

You see, the secret staircase was Simmons' big alibi.

That's right. The big "alibi-rooney"!

That night the old man was up in the organ loft playing the organ.

I heard a scuffle coming from madam's bedroom.

I saw Nick Simmons run out of the room... and head for the organ loft. Topside.

He didn't see me. He didn't see him.

I went into the room, and there lay Mrs. Simmons... with my garden shears stuck in her throat.

Here they are! Here's your murder weapon!

I submit these as exhibit "A." Watch the prints on those.

I grabbed those and put them under my coat.

When the servants came up the stairs, we heard a scream from the organ loft... and the thud of a body falling into the bushes.

We rushed over, and there on the ground below... lay the body of old man Simmons.

Dead as a doornail!

We turned, started down the stairs... and met Nick Simmons coming up, like he just come home.

Of course, he'd slipped downstairs by way of the secret staircase.

How come you took so long to bring this out in the open, Mr. Kelsey?

I was scared. After all, that was my shears.

But this was my last chance.

Well, that wraps it up. Take him away, Chief.

You knocked Simmons out, Luther?

That's right, karate. Made my whole body a weapon. Good boy!

Do you, Alma, take this man to be your lawful wedded husband?

I do. Do you, Luther, take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife?

I do.

By virtue of the authority vested in me, I now pronounce you man and wife.

Luther, you can kiss her now.

Atta boy, Luther.!