Friday, July 1, 2016

you're not cruel; I'm so happy

INT.  Anton sitting room

As Gregory Anton turns away from his wife, he sets his cigarette (or old-fashioned cigar??) in an ashtray, on a nearby table.  [This house is full of little tables -- Queen Anne; Queen Victoria; whatever...]

There is a KNOCK, KNOCK at the door.  Mr. Anton looks up briskly, at the sound, and calls energetically, "Come in!"

NANCY enters through the elaborate double doors.  PAULA is in the background of the SHOT, facing a sheer-curtained, heavily-draped-across-the-top, tall window.

GREGORY:  Well -- what is it now?

NANCY:  If you please, sir, Mrs. Thwaites is downstairs.  She wanted to know if the mistress was at home.

GREGORY:  You mean that old busybody from across the square?

NANCY:  Yes, sir.  She has her nephew with her.

GREGORY:  I don't think we need bore ourselves with them.  Tell her your mistress is not at home.

PAULA:  Gregory, really, she's been...

GREGORY:  My dear, if you let her in once, you'll always have her here.

~~  But she's called so often, and we've never been at home to her --

~~  I do not want people all over this house!

The way he says this, it is an outburst, his hands shaking in the air as he yells.

He realizes his loss of control, and overreaction, and reconsiders his direction.  With a slight, low-key chuckle, he says lightly,

"Bringing her family with her" and then adds, firmly but calmly:

You tell Mrs. Thwaites that your mistress is sorry, but she's not well enough to see her.

NANCY:  Very good, sir.

Nancy leaves the room, and Gregory turns toward the grand piano and moves some things around -- sheet music, a vase of flowers...

PAULA:  Gregory, why did you do that?  I would have liked to have seen her.

When Gregory answers his wife, he continues arranging things at the piano, not looking at her.

GREGORY:  I thought you were only trying to be polite.  Why didn't you tell me you really wanted to see her?

PAULA:  I couldn't in front of that girl.

GREGORY:  You must get over this ridiculous fear of the servants.  If you really wanted to see her, all you had to say was:

'Show her up, Nancy,' wasn't it?
Wasn't it?

INT.  The foot of the staircase, on the first floor

Mrs. Thwaites and Nancy are facing off.  Mrs. Thwaites wears a light coat over her dress, and a flowered hat.  A statue on a pedestal by the staircase seems to silently observe their interaction.

MRS. THWAITES:  Yes, but --

NANCY:  I'm sorry, miss.  That's all I know.  The mistress isn't well enough to receive anyone.

With this statement, Nancy walks away from Mrs. Thwaites, toward the massive front door, and reaches for the doorknob, to open it.

As the CAMERA PANS to follow Nancy, BRIAN CAMERON is revealed, standing near the door, his hat in his hand.  He speaks to Nancy with precise politeness:

"Please tell her how sorry we are."

Nancy does not answer him, but opens the door and holds it wide, for them to leave. 

Cameron turns to look for Mrs. Thwaites and, seeing what she's doing, he walks rather swiftly over to the staircase, where the little old lady has gone a little closer to the steps, and is leaning curiously, craning her neck to peer up toward the second floor.

With amused and gentle firmness, he says, taking her arm, "Come along, Auntie dear."

From above, the SOUND of PIANO PLAYING begins, and as Brian Cameron walks Mrs. Thwaites toward the open front door, we can hear the sprightly melody.

Mrs. Thwaites stops twice in the "journey" out, forcing Mr. Cameron to stop along with her -- once to look back toward the upstairs again, toward the music, and once again right at the door, to give Nancy a once-over perusal with specified impertinence which matches Nancy's own!

The two visitors exit; Nancy, her back to the CAMERA, closes the door just a little harder than is necessary.

INT.  The upstairs sitting room

Gregory is playing the piano.  Paula is sitting on a chair.

GREGORY:  You wouldn't have had time to see them anyway.  You have to dress, do your hair.

PAULA:  Why?

GREGORY (his voice is loving, caressing -- he continues playing the happy little song, while he speaks to her) -- We're going out tonight.

Paula looks surprised, a little happy, but then worried...  "We are?  You didn't tell me.  Or have I forgotten?"

She gets up, and comes over to the piano.

GREGORY:  Don't you think this is charming?  It's from the new operetta at the Gaiety.  I wish I could write tunes like Strauss.

(his tone shifts gears)
Paula, you silly child, don't look like that.

Of course you haven't forgotten anything!  This is my surprise for you.  We're going to the theater tonight.

Paula's face brightens -- she glows.
"Oh Gregory -- oh how wonderful!"

She goes and sits with him on the piano bench, and they hug and kiss, and laugh.

GREGORY:  And you thought I was being cruel to you.

PAULA:  No, you're not cruel.

GREGORY:  Keeping people away from you, making you a prisoner.

~~  Oh, you're the kindest man in the world.  I'm sorry.  I'm sorry, I'm sorry -- Oh Gregory, I'm so happy.

Paula stands up, after another embrace, and he starts playing the piano again; she sings -- not words, but "la - la la, dah-dee- da -- da da" and gracefully dances away across the room, softly swirling her long full skirt, her bell-like soprano soaring. 

He continues playing, and looks over at her, smiling, and laughing gently, then suddenly his facial expression changes, and he becomes serious and somber.  He stops playing the piano.

After spinning around and around in her dance, Paula is exhilarated, and somewhat dizzy -- she stops to catch her breath and laughs with happiness.  Then she sees her husband's expression and says, brightly but with concern,

"Oh, Gregory, what's the matter?"

He sighs, looks down, shakes his head once, and gets up from the piano and walks away from it.

GREGORY:  Paula, I don't want to upset you.  If you will put things right when I'm not looking, we will assume it did not happen.


{Gaslight, George Cukor, 1944}



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