Monday, August 15, 2016

what are you doing?


"The gas -- how long has it been up?!" demands Brian Cameron, when he notices.  Under Paula's gaze, he tilts his head back and gives the ceiling a quick stare. 

INT.  Attic - Night

Gregory Anton, with top hat, walking stick, and coat, is up there alone, in the murky low light, searching for the jewels.  Shadows of furniture and miscellaneous objects show on the wall, at odd angles.

Anton goes past the large framed portrait of Paula's aunt, Alice Alquist, which we saw in an earlier scene in the film, when the newly-married Antons first come to the house in Thornton Square.

Passing the grand painting, Anton climbs a ladder toward a skylight.

At the top of the ladder, he determinedly, impatiently pokes at the skylight with his walking stick -- pushes the skylight open and manipulates it to remain open -- it's on a hook or something. 

He stops to thoroughly brush dust from one arm of his overcoat.  While doing this, he thinks of something, frowns:  looking back at the attic's contents from the higher-up point of view, he notices something he didn't before. 

Staring in the direction of the painting of Alice Alquist in her elaborate jeweled gown, he goes back down the ladder.

He creeps toward the painting and looks at something next to it -- it is the actual gown that's featured in the painting.

The background music is suspenseful, shimmery, magical.

CLOSE-UP -- the decorative jewels on the gown's bodice

CLOSE SHOT - Anton's face

He looks intently at the gown.

CLOSE-UP:  Gregory Anton's hands

He touches and investigates the jewels fastened to the cloth.  He takes one off, then another one.  Examining them in what light there is, his facial expression becomes exultant.  (I don't think I would be able to tell if these jewels were real or not -- Mr. Anton must be some kind of jewelry expert...)

INT.  Front hall

Elizabeth, near the front door.  She's picking up a hat, coat, and umbrella, in anticipation of Brian Cameron, who immediately strides into the shot.

CAMERON:  Elizabeth, whatever happens tonight, have her welfare in mind.

ELIZABETH:  You can count on me, sir.  But what am I going to say to the master when he comes back?

CAMERON:  He won't come back anymore, Elizabeth.

And he goes out.

EXT.  Anton house - Night

Brian Cameron runs lightly down the length of the house, and stops at a shadowy corner, and watches.

INT.  Upstairs hall

Paula leaves the study where she and Cameron had been conversing.  She closes the door behind her, and walks down the hall, checking over the banister, then enters another room, and closes that door.

The audience is left watching a dark brown, closed wooden door with Victorian carving and moulding.

After a moment, the CAMERA DOLLIES back toward the viewer, away from the door, and then up, to a wood border at the hallway's top, then further up, to get a view (from below)  of the stairs leading to the boarded-up attic.  The banister casts a sharply-defined, slightly unreal shadow against the limited light upon the wallpaper.

Anton appears, silent and stealthy, behind the boarded-over entry.  He listens carefully, then touches a latch on the inside -- and the whole door with its nailed-on boards swings easily open.

He comes out, starts down the stairs, studying the jewels in one hand, carrying his walking stick in the other hand.  His crisp shadow on the wall follows him like a spy.

He looks about, treads very lightly, makes a fist around the jewels in his grasp.  He descends the remaining stairs, and approaches the door to the room Paula entered.  He approaches the door quietly, carefully, summoning an attitude of quiet confidence.

GREGORY ANTON (speaking to the closed door) -- Paula?

INT.  Paula's sitting room

Her shadow, with her neat, elegant hair-do, and high-collared dress holds steady and still on the wall.

INT.  Hallway

Gregory turns away from the closed door, and excitedly sprints to his study at the end of the hall.  Going in, he finds it well-lighted, nods in satisfaction, carefully, carefully, places his fistful of precious jewels on a fabric-covered table, and hurries over to his desk.

EXT.  Antons' house

MED. CLOSE SHOT -- Brian Cameron, leaning, attempting to see around the corner without being seen by anyone who might be there.

INT.  Anton's study

MED. SHOT -- Anton studying the jewels in the palm of one hand.  Bending forward with concentration.

He gets an idea.  He wants something.  something from his desk.  As he hastens the few steps over to his desk, he's got jewels in one hand, and with the other hand he reaches swiftly into a pocket under his coat and takes out a key.

When he tries to unlock the desk, the key doesn't work, because the desk is already unlocked.  He suspiciously lifts the roll-top, and he examines closely a surface on the desk:  he can see it's been opened, or broken into.

Now he's ticked.  The background music becomes jumpy -- two notes, two higher notes, two even higher notes.  the mood climbs, and gains traction, with the music.

Going faster with each step, Gregory Anton stalks down the hallway and opens the door he spoke through a few minutes earlier, without knocking or saying anything.

Under his rough push, the door swings open, revealing Paula, who looks like she's waiting for him.

Now, he slows his attitude down a little bit.  He looks at her, tries to assess the possibilities.  He takes a few steps forward into the room.

GREGORY ANTON:  What are you doing?

PAULA:  I was lying down.

GREGORY:  Fully dressed?

She gazes at him.  The CAMERA DOLLIES IN closer to her; we the audience seem to approach her.

GREGORY:  Did you hear what I said?

PAULA:  Yes.

Gregory takes another step toward her, so that they are only a few feet apart.  He demands grimly, "Then why don't you answer?"

Paula closes her eyes lightly, and gathers strength.  Her answer comes -- her voice so low, it is almost a whisper:  "I don't know."

GREGORY:  You don't know?  (His voice seethes with controlled fury and contempt) -- Do you know anything about anything you do?


{Gaslight, MGM.  1944.}


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