Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I am going; get a cab

INT.  The Antons' upstairs parlor - Night

Paula enters the room.

GREGORY's voice is heard from out of the SHOT:  "Is that you, Paula?"

She looks around the room, and then rustles over, in the incredible dress, to meet him in a corner where he is concentrating on something.

PAULA:  Yes.

He turns to look at her and is surprised:  "Why are you dressed up like that?"

PAULA:  Because tonight is Lady Dalroy's reception.

GREGORY:  But I sent a note.

~~  I know.

(She stands a little taller, and takes a determined breath; she has a firm look in her eyes.  She walks toward him.)

GREGORY:  I sent a note to say you were not well enough.

PAULA (standing face to face with him) -- I'm quite well enough, and I want to go.  Lady Dalroy was very kind to me when I was small -- and I am going.

(Then her strength seems to wilt a bit -- her attitude changes from immovable determination to explaining her feelings very honestly, in a vulnerable way, hoping he will understand.)

PAULA (continued) -- I must get out of this house, meet people -- and see a little of what's going on in the world.

(Her attitude stiffens again, then, as if she's remembering all the rehearsing she did [one guesses], to stand up to her husband.  She focuses, and looks him in the eye.)

PAULA:  I am going to this reception, Gregory.

"Then I'm afraid you'll have to go alone."  He turns away from her.

PAULA (turning away from him, and walking toward the door) -- "Then -- I must go alone."

He is startled, thinks, as she disappears from the room.  He regroups, and hurriedly exits to the upstairs hallway.  He calls to his wife on the stairs below.

GREGORY:  Paula.  Paula! (in a more good-humored voice and attitude) -- I didn't realize this party meant so much to you.  I'll go and change immediately.

He goes up a couple of stairs, then turns and leans over the banister to speak to her.

GREGORY (with a gentle, understated laugh in his voice) -- You didn't really think I would let you go alone, did you?

~~  I -- don't know.

~~  I shan't be a minute.

He goes upstairs.  On the landing, Paula gathers her courage, and seems to "re-set" her mind and heart for confidence and firmness.

INT.  Gregory Anton's dressing room

He starts unbuttoning the vest he's wearing.

INT.  Downstairs room

Paula, checking her appearance in a mirror.

Nancy appears at the door, behind her.

PAULA:  Come in.

NANCY:  Coo!  Did you ring for something, ma'am?

PAULA:  Yes.  Please fetch a cab.

NANCY:  But I thought you were --

PAULA:  Get a cab, Nancy.

Now it is Nancy who must regroup, rearrange her ideas, and regain balance.

Then her expression hardens -- her familiar insolence, ratcheted up just a half-notch, infuses her expression and tone.

NANCY:  'Sa - master goin' out, too?

PAULA (softly, firmly) -- Yes, he is.

(a pause -- invisible "air" tug-of-war)

PAULA:  Please hurry.

NANCY:  Very good, ma'am.

Nancy leaves the room, in background; foreground:  Paula looks back at the mirror and gives herself a small nod -- (Phew!  I did it!  Two down, none to go!  She's getting things done... Circumstances required that she be a little stronger, assert herself, and now she has...)

INT.  Gregory's dressing room

He is looking in the mirror as he gets ready.  He has a watch on a chain.  He puts on the chain and feels for the watch-pocket. 

He stops. 

The CAMERA moves in for a tighter shot, and the viewer now cannot see what he does with the watch and chain; we see his face as he looks at the mirror, like he's had an idea.

EXT.  Antons' house - Night

Nancy is outdoors, hailing a cab.  The policeman on the beat crosses the street in the dark, to see her.  He asks cheerfully if she's "beckoning a cab" on her evening out.

She answers grumpily, "Yes.  I'm going out to dinner at Buckingham Palace, I am.  I'm gonna have a lovely evening out."

POLICEMAN (friendly voice, to cajole her from her mood) -- What's the matter with you?

NANCY:  First they're goin' out, then they're not, now they are.  Changin' all my plans.
(in a disappointed tone)
Never a word to me from him.

The tall policeman walks around her, looking amused.

NANCY:  You better get along.  They'll be out in a minute.

POLICEMAN:  See you Sunday?

NANCY:  P'rhaps.

~~  Usual place?

~~  Usual place.

~~  Good night.

~~  Night.

The Antons come out; the "cab" (horse-drawn carriage) pulls up; they leave.

INT.  The Dalroys' musical reception / dinner - Night

A small ensemble is playing.  Audience members sit in rapt attention, listening. 

Brian Cameron is there, next to the girl Lady Dalroy wanted him to meet.  She has a "cultural-appreciation" face on -- head tilted, a distant look, listening to the music.  He glances at her, nonplussed.  ("Whatever.")  Then he sees the Antons enter the room.


{Gaslight, 1944.  MGM; George Cukor, director.}


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