Tuesday, August 16, 2016

but he was here, I know it



INT.  Sitting room - night

Gregory and Paula Anton

GREGORY:  I will be obliged if you will come with me to my room.

He turns and leads the way; she follows him, reluctantly, sort of shrunk into a walking bundle of insecurity and uncertainty, leaning slightly to one side.

He pauses before the door to the hallway, and waits for her to pass him.  She passes him, exits, and walks down the hallway, with her husband following behind her.

They enter the study with the rolltop desk in it.  Then she pauses in the doorway, and he passes by her.  Marching across the room to the desk, he turns the desk chair around, and speaks to her.

GREGORY:  Sit down in this chair, Paula.

Dutifully, with her eyes cast down, and bending just a little forward in humility and obedience, she walks toward the chair.

GREGORY:  You know what you remind me of, as you walk across the room?  Have you ever seen anyone walking in their sleep?  But you're not asleep.  (his voice drops to a whisper)

 -- No, you can't deceive me.  You're fully awake, or -- (his voice careens from whisper to shout) you would not have broken open my desk!

(he calms his voice, makes it even) -- Now be careful how you answer.  Why did you open my desk?

She answers him, looking up from the chair, where she has seated herself.

PAULA:  I didn't open your desk.

GREGORY:  Nancy?

PAULA:  Nancy's out.

GREGORY:  Who, then?  Elizabeth?

PAULA:  No, it wasn't Elizabeth.  (her eyes go sleepily closed for a moment) -- Please don't question me anymore.  Let me go back...

GREGORY:  No.  Stay there, Paula.  Why did you open my desk?

He puts his hands behind his back.

PAULA:  I didn't open your desk.

CLOSE-UP:  Gregory Anton's hands, behind his back

One hand holds the wrist of the other, the fingers of which are curling angrily in a clawing, or strangling pose.

MED. SHOT:  Gregory and Paula Anton

GREGORY:  Why did you open my desk, Paula?

PAULA:  I didn't open your desk.  It was he... (she stops talking, breaks off mid-sentence, like, Oops, I hadn't meant to say that to him....after a pause, and taking a breath, she adds) -- He -- opened it.

GREGORY:  (startled, he speaks a little more slowly, in a low voice) -- What are you talking about?  Who is -- he?

PAULA (in a tired, stunned, dreamy voice) -- A man.  (pause)  A man who came to see me.


In the background, through a doorway, Elizabeth approaches, carrying a tray.

PAULA:  While you were out.

GREGORY:  Who let him in?

PAULA:  Elizabeth.

GREGORY:  Elizabeth!

ELIZABETH:  Yes, sir?

GREGORY:  Who was the man who came to see your mistress while I was out?

ELIZABETH:  What man, sir?

GREGORY:  Come, Elizabeth.  You must have answered the bell.

ELIZABETH:  No one was here, sir, while you were out.

PAULA:  But Elizabeth... (she's getting that tone of voice she always gets when she is puzzled, confused, and distressed) -- But you saw him.

Her eyes wide, she crosses the room, going toward where her husband and Elizabeth are standing.

PAULA:  You opened the door for him yourself!

Her husband frowns in mystification, watching Paula, and listening.

PAULA:  Elizabeth, say it!  Elizabeth -- say it!

ELIZABETH:  No, ma'am.  I didn't see anyone at all.

PAULA:  But he was here.  I know it.  I know it.  But he was here.  I know it!  I saw him.

She stops talking and, looking unhappy, she turns away and walks back to the desk area of the room, seemingly defeated.

Then, her voice thin and unsteady from tearfulness which is rising, she whispers, "I saw him!  I saw him..."

Gregory takes his glance from his wife to Elizabeth, looking over his shoulder at the servant in the doorway.

GREGORY:  You see how it is, Elizabeth?

He turns his head back to look across the room at Paula.

Elizabeth answers to the back of his head, looking up, sternly.

ELIZABETH:  Yes, sir.  I see -- just -- how it is.


{Gaslight.  1944.  MGM.  Director:  George Cukor.  Screenplay by John Van Druten, Walter Reisch, and John L. Balderston.}


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