Tuesday, July 26, 2016

noises, footsteps, voices

GREGORY:  Yes, you're right.  That's when it began.  I can see you still, standing there and saying:  "Look, look at this letter" -- and staring at nothing.

PAULA:  What?

GREGORY:  You had nothing in your hand!

PAULA:  What?

GREGORY:  I was staggered, but I didn't know then...how much reason I had to be...

PAULA:  I don't know what was -- what reason?

GREGORY:  I didn't know then about your mother.

PAULA:  What about my mother?

~~  Your mother was mad.

PAULA (her voice very soft and low) -- Gregory...

GREGORY:  She died in an asylum when you were a year old.

PAULA:  That's not true!

She backs up from him, one small step at a time.  Pain rules her body and mind.  She turns her head away from him; she looks down; she shrinks from his words.  He advances a step, with each step she takes backward. It is like some kind of terrible "dance" as they move across the room.

The camera work enhances a feeling of confusion, terror, a sense of things being surreal.  Off and on during this scene, the camera is placed a little low, "looking up" at the husband and wife, leaving the viewer with an impression of things being unstable -- of foreboding on-the-hover.

GREGORY:  I've been making inquiries about Alice Alquist's sister.  I've talked to the doctor who attended her.  Would you like to see him?


GREGORY:  He described her symptoms to me.  Would you like to hear them?  It began with her imagining things, that she heard noises, footsteps, voices...and then the voices began to speak to her.  And in the end, she died in an asylum with no brain at all!

"No!" she wails, in agony.  "Please stop!"  She hides her face, in despair.

GREGORY:  Now perhaps you will understand a lot of things about yourself and me.  Now perhaps you will understand why I cannot let you meet people.

He picks up his coat and hat, and walks to the door.  There, he turns around and speaks to his wife again, in a different tone of voice, now, sort of mock-conversational:

"He must have been rather disappointed that you left before he could talk to you."

PAULA:  Who?

~~  The man who was sitting behind us.

~~  Where?

GREGORY:  Tonight.  You only went there because you knew he was going to be there.

PAULA:  What, Gregory?  Who?

He leaves the doorway and walks back into the bedroom, toward his wife, stopping in front of her. 

GREGORY:  The man who bowed to you that day at the Tower.  Who is he, someone from the past?  Someone you refused, perhaps?

~~  I never met him.  I have no idea who he is.

GREGORY (stiffly flapping his hands in mid-air, in a snit of aggravation and paranoia) --  Who is he?  Why is he dogging my footsteps?!


{Directed by George Cukor.  Screenplay by John Van Druten; Walter Reisch; and John L. Balderston}


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