EXT. SEASHORE, 1928 DAY
(Note: This scene is filmed in BLACK AND WHITE, MOS. It is very quick and choppy like the old silent movies. There are intentional JUMP CUTS. BEGIN CREDITS.
ELSA BABCOCK, young, vivacious, skips into frame in a chic bathing suit carrying a parasol. A remarkably endearing wise guy named CHARLIE NEWCASTLE romps about with her. He shows her how to pose cheesecake for the camera, her knees bent and rear protruding.
Charlie stands back to admire his handiwork. He seizes the opportunity and smacks her vulnerable rear end. She straightens up, stomps on his foot, and makes a quick getaway behind the camera. He tries to coax her back.
FRITZ THORNDIKE, English, comes sauntering along the beach with MAE. He is dressed for no logical reason in an expensive double-breasted suit.
They arrive at Charlie who gestures to the water. "Why don't you go in?" Fritz shakes his head no and points to his clothes. Charlie shrugs his shoulders. He turns towards the camera and beckons to Elsa.
Elsa jumps onto Fritz's back and tackles him into the water. Fritz emerges dripping. Elsa, Mae, and Charlie crackup laughing. He mocks them. Suddenly he pads down his coat pockets searching intently for something.
Fritz produces a cigarette case, opens it, and proudly shows them that the contents are dry. He lights a cigarette and puffs on it.
Charlie snatches the cigarette away and starts to smoke it. Fritz thumbs his nose at him. Charlie thumbs his nose back.
Elsa taps Charlie on the shoulder. He turns to her with his thumb still to his nose. She points to it insulted. He puts his hand down. She gives him a peck on the lips.
Charlie grabs her and kisses her longer. He throws away the cigarette which lands on Fritz's shoulder.
Fritz brushes off the cigarette, horrified. He watches Charlie and Elsa flirting with great disapproval. He writes something in the wet sand beside Charlie. He looks up at the camera very pleased with himself and gestures for the camera to come and see.
INSERT - THE SAND
"Dope" is written with an arrow pointing to Charlie.
BACK TO SCENE
Fritz nods triumphantly to the camera and to Mae.
Elsa clears them away and, brazenly showing off, does the splits. The others applaud her. Soon she realizes she can't get up. Fritz and Charlie take her arms and attempt to pull her up. On the third try they succeed with such force that they all topple over in a big clump.
TITLE: The days that roared. 1927
(Note: By TITLE is meant the written words which appear sporadically throughout the film in the style of those in silent movies.)
INT. HOTEL LOBBY DAY
(Note: The film is shot in very FADED COLOR. The effect is reminiscent of an old hand tinted photograph.)
Elsa walks through the lobby. She stops behind a potted palm tree and pulls a little flask out of her garter. She looks around and takes a swig from it. She smiles, puts it back in her garter, and makes her way to the elevator which has just opened.
A few people wander out of the elevator. Charlie is one of them. He passes Elsa as she enters it. They don't notice each other.
Charlie walks through the lobby and pauses by the same potted tree to light a cigarette.
TITLE: Charlie Newcastle -- Everyone says he's clever. He says everyone's right.
Charlie walks out the front doors of the hotel and onto the sidewalk outside.
EXT. STREET - DAY
Charlie stands on the sidewalk in front of the hotel, puffs on the cigarette, and looks down the street. Fritz comes tearing around the corner in a roadster, looking very debonair and stylish.
TITLE: Fritz Thorndike -- No one cares if he's clever or not. His pocket money would buy Alaska.
Charlie waves to Fritz as he nears the hotel.
He pulls up in front of Charlie and stops abruptly in the middle of the road.
Charles, old bugger! It's an odd thing seeing you here.
I'll say. What're you doing in the States?
Charlie walks into the street and leans his elbows on the roadster. A car pulls up behind them and stops. Fritz turns off the engine.
Admiring the palm trees.
What, your father kick you out again?
Yes. He's a bit steamy right now. Rather booted me out of England. Of course it wasn't my fault at all.
The car behind HONKS impatiently. They ignore it completely.
Yeah? What happened?
Well, he toddles off to the country for a fortnight and leaves the London place to me, right?
When he gets back it's not exactly the way he left it.
Some nasty little flappers, huh?
Exactly. Ripped the place apart while I wasn't looking.
The car HONKS again.
What about you, though? They haven't given you the old heave-ho back in Hollywood have they?
No, there's this fellow Irving, thinks he's a slave driver. I wrote three pictures for this bird last year and he says that's not enough! The dumb cluck. Anyway, I told him I was going on vacation, and get this...He says to me, he says, "Charlie, you're a great writer, but you're an even greater lollygagger. Blah, blah, blah... blah!" Then he adds on, "While you're in Florida, do us a favor and knock off a screenplay." Just like that, he says that to me.
Well, that's too bad, ducky. Where're you staying?
(Gestures to the hotel)
Another car pulls up behind the first and HONKS.
Tell you what, I'll look you up later on.
Swell. See you, Fritz.
Charlie walks off. The first car HONKS repeatedly at Fritz. Fritz stands up in his car and turns to look at the driver.
INT. ELSA'S HOTEL SUITE - DAY
Elsa sits at a typewriter. She runs her fingers over the keys unhappily, leans back in her chair and slowly types the word "it". She stares blankly at the paper for a long, painfully uninspired moment.
TITLE: Another clever person.
After a decidedly unclever silence, she speaks to SID.
Do you think I could telegram Irving I'm sick of writing for him? He can't expect me to be brilliant all the time.
Sid bursts into the room very annoyed, an actor who is always acting. He carries a photograph of an attractive young man.
I was thinking about forgiving you.
For what, darling?
I like that!
Now I'm not so sure.
(Holds up the picture)
Who's the pansy?
Well, if you must know...he's my granddaddy.
And I'm a pie-eyed monkey.
You said it. I can't believe...you were going through my things, weren't you?
I didn't have to. It was sitting on your vanity in full view of pedestrians.
Don't be jealous, Sid. It's unattractive on you. We're only friends.
A girl like you is incapable of being "only friends" with a guy like that.
Of all the --
He looks exactly like a worm you'd fall for, too.
You don't have to get nasty just because he's ritzier than you.
Aha! There! That proves it!
Good-bye, Elsa. I'm going to find a bridge and -- go fishing.
Well, I hope the fish get wise to you!
What's that idiot's name, anyway?
Why do you care?
If I get a pet rat I'll know what to call it.
Ha! Say, are we going to that party tonight?
What, the Oswald thing?
Yes. I mean, no! I -- don't change the subject.
He storms out of the room, SLAMMING the door behind him. Elsa looks at his hat that he's left on the table. She puts it on and waits. Sid pokes his head back in.
Is my hat in here?
Elsa smiles back at him, tips the hat, and closes the door in his face.
INT. CHARLIE'S HOTEL SUITE DAY
Charlie paces around trying to think up ideas. He goes to his typewriter and types a few letters halfheartedly. He mutters to himself.
So...there's this -- this girl, see? She's named...Velma. Smash hit right there, huh, Irving?
He puffs nastily on a cigarette.
I'd like to tear you limb from limb, you know that? O.K., so there's this dame Velma who's got a...a secret lover. Yeah. Clara Bow baby, it's for you, it's the berries.
He pulls the paper out of the typewriter and crumples it up.
I give up, Irving.
He stands and goes to get his hat.
Inspiration has left the building.
He puts his hat on and leaves the room.
INT. ELSA'S HOTEL SUITE - DAY
Elsa sits at the typewriter wearing Sid's hat, still uninspired. The doorbell RINGS.
Oh, hello darling.
What are you doing?
I'm looking terribly busy without doing anything.
Didn't Irving give you his word of honor as a gentleman you wouldn't have to work while you're here?
Yes, but really... Irving! I mean, Irving's a rat. So all I really had was the word of honor of a rat. Which isn't much.
Oh, I see.
It's a moot point anyway.
She pulls the paper from the typewriter and crumples it up.
I'm hopelessly stuck.
Elsa sits on the sofa and puts Sid's hat on her bent knee.
What, another spat?
He's still taking you to the masquerade, isn't he?
He wouldn't tell me.
Mae, did you ever meet a man who wasn't an ass?
INT. HALL OUTSIDE CHARLIE'S SUITE - DAY
Fritz walks to Charlie's door. He RINGS the bell with his fashionable walking stick and waits. He RINGS again, this time longer. He KNOCKS impatiently on it.
Charlie! Charlie, you bugger, open up. I'll blow your door down.
He KNOCKS one more time, then turns away.
EXT. SIDE OF HOTEL DAY
Fritz walks around the corner of the building and stands below Charlie's window looking up. It is open. It is also very high up. He begins to climb the wall. A woman passes him and stares very suspiciously. He tips his hat at her.
INT. CHARLIE'S HOTEL SUITE - DAY
Fritz climbs in through the window. He brushes himself off and looks around.
There is no answer. He flops onto an armchair and swings both his legs over one of the arms. He pulls a little book of plays out of his coat pocket and begins to read.
INT. HALL OUTSIDE CHARLIE'S SUITE DAY
Charlie walks towards his door.
"I say, this house is as dark as ignorance, though ignorance were as dark as hell!"
Charlie stops and looks around the hall. He stares hard at his door, then turns and looks down the hall at the other rooms. He walks cautiously to his door and puts an ear to it.
"And I say, there was never man thus abused!"
INT. CHARLIE'S HOTEL SUITE - DAY
Fritz paces back and forth reading loudly and not very well.
"I am no more mad than you are!"
The key turns in the lock and the door opens slowly. Charlie pokes his head in very carefully.