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Babylon (2022) | Transcript

A tale of outsized ambition and outrageous excess, it traces the rise and fall of multiple characters during an era of unbridled decadence and depravity in early Hollywood.
Babylon (2022): Margot Robbie (Nellie LaRoy) and Diego Calva (Manny Torres)

An original epic set in 1920s Los Angeles led by Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Diego Calva, with an ensemble cast including Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li and Jean Smart. A tale of outsized ambition and outrageous excess, it traces the rise and fall of multiple characters during an era of unbridled decadence and depravity in early Hollywood.

* * *

[insects buzzing]

[vehicle approaching]

[engine turns off]

Okay. Manuel, right?

This for you.

It’s 25 for the vehicle and 30 for the transport of the livestock.

Just put down “one horse” and your signature right there.

You said “one horse”?

Yeah, it’s only one, right?

No, it’s an elephant.

You mean “really big horse”?

No. I mean an elephant.

Look, sir… [elephant trumpets]

…the call said “one…”

Whoa…

What the fuck is that?

[elephant grunting]

Holy shit! Is that a fucking elephant? Señor, señor, señor.

Probablemente it was some kind of bad communication.

Bad communication? This is a truck for fucking horses, man!

What do I look like, a goddamn maharaja? All right.

And you’re invited to the party.

[elephant grunts]

[elephant grunts]

[gears grinding]

[cows mooing]

[engine revving]

[speaking Spanish]

[tires screeching]

More gas!

Come on. Come on!

[engine revving]

Give me…

[speaking Spanish]

[engine revving]

[tires screeching]

Fuck! Fuck!

[elephant trumpeting]

[screaming]

[brakes screeching]

[trumpeting continues]

[in Spanish] What the fuck are you doing???

[speaking Spanish]

[elephant grunting]

[in English] Goddamn it!

[shouting]

Motherfucker!

[tires screeching]

[speaking Spanish]

[elephant trumpets]

[elephant groaning]

[speaking Spanish]

Good evening, Officer. What exactly is going on here?

Um, well, we’re… I work for Don Wallach, and we’re transporting the entertainment for a party at his house.

[elephant trumpets]

That’s an elephant.

Yes, sir. You got a permit?

Um, I didn’t know we needed one.

Can’t drive an elephant without a permit.

Could you make an exception?

How’s the guest list looking for tonight?

It’s impressive. Hmm.

What kind of stars are we talking about?

Someone said Garbo, I think. Oh, yeah?

Yeah. I mean, that’s what I heard.

So, we’re talking an elephant, plus Garbo, plus others tonight at Don Wallach’s house, is that right?

That’s right. Sounds like the best party in town.

My cousin Benny lives in Reseda with his wife and kids. I’ll see if they’re free.

[elephant groans]

Who the fuck are all these people?

[in Spanish] Don’t ask.

[on recording]

♪ One, two, three, hey ♪

[upbeat jazz music playing]

[person laughing]

[laughing continues]

Does Piggy like that?

[laughing] It tickles.

Playtime with potty time!

[people chattering, laughing] José! José!

Can you ask Wallach to give us more King Bubbly, por favor?

Okay.

[laughing]

[speaking Spanish]

[band playing jazz]

[clamoring]

[glass shatters]

[clamoring, laughing]

[glass shatters]

[snorting]

[guest moaning]

Would you mind showing me to the upstairs powder room, my dear boy?

Sure. Uh, it’s here down the hall.

No! No, no, upstairs.

The stairs are very steep, I think. I can be carried.

Evening, Madame. Lovely to see you. I have to steal him, I’m afraid.

What did you say to Elinor? Who?

Elinor St. John. Never speak to her.

If she ever talks to you again, pretend like you don’t understand English.

The chicken stole my fucking coke! Go fucking get it! Get it!

Give it to me!

[chicken clucking]

So, upstairs is where Don keeps his underage girls, then?

[in Spanish] I don’t speak English!

[music stops]

[grunting]

[chicken squawking]

[sighs]

[lighter clicks]

[shouting, laughing continues]

Well, that came out of fucking nowhere.

You’ll have to pay for that, ma’am.

Oh. Okay.

Uh, who are you?

I’m security.

You’re kind of shitty at your job.

You have statues coming out of nowhere, everywhere you fucking turn.

You’re very lucky I don’t report you.

Where do you think you’re going, ma’am?

I’m going inside.

I’m Nellie LaRoy, dummy.

There’s no “Nellie LaRoy” on the list.

Okay, well, I think…

Come here.

I think what’s happened is my assistant has put me under my stage name, Billie Dove.

You’re not Billie Dove.

Okay, what the fuck is your prob…

What is your name?

What is your precinct?

I’m a security guard. We don’t have precincts, ma’am.

You’re about to not have a job, fucko!

Listen, I know you wish you were Billie Dove…

I think you wish you were eating my asshole! Nellie LaRoy?

They’re waiting for you.

I’m Manuel.

I’m Manuel.

I heard ya.

Oh, I didn’t need your help.

Oh, no?

Nope.

Billie Dove?

Why not?

She’s kind of a big star.

Well, in 30 years she won’t be a big star anymore and she can tell her grandkids Nellie LaRoy once used her name.

Besides, I’m already a star.

Ah, you are?

[chuckles] Yeah.

What have you been in?

Nothing yet.

Who’s your contract with?

Don’t have one.

Okay, I think you want to become a star.

Honey, you don’t become a star. You either are one or you ain’t.

I am.

Oh, great.

Do you know where I can find some drugs?

[upbeat jazz music playing]

[crowd cheering]

We’re supposed to just keep playing?

That’s the idea.

It’s gonna come through the front and just kind of stomp around.

Are you serious?

Just stay out of its way.

You know I can’t afford to get injured, Joe.

Will you shut the fuck up?

What?

You heard me, you whiny bitch.

Excuse me?

Come on, you guys.

You see how he just talks to me?

I talk to you like this because every time we play in these, you playing fucking flat.

If that elephant drop its elephant ass on your face, maybe you’d be home long enough to fucking practice.

I practice nine hours a day, you fuck.

Yeah, yeah, but I mean on saxophone, not cocksucking. [laughs]

[cheering]

I don’t have fucking time for this!

[person] Wake up, wake up, wake up!

What a goddamn mess.

We were just having fun!

[sobbing]

Tell it to Wallach.

Wake up, wake up.

Where’s the Mexican?

Wake up, wake up.

Morphine, opium, ether, heroin, coke.

And Louis XIV sat on that.

[guest] …pretend that everything’s fine inside when all I feel is this void.

And all I do is I give and I give!

Pedro!

And you, I don’t even know, where are you? Where are you?

[speaking Italian] Stop speaking fucking Italian!

[speaking Italian]

No. No, it’s not.

I’m trying to have a serious conversation with you. Do you understand?

[speaking Italian] Our marriage is in trouble. I am unhappy!

Stop it! You are not fucking Italian!

You are from fucking Shawnee, you goddamn fraud!

[speaking Italian] Say one more word.

Say one more word in Italian, and I will divorce you.

One more. Okay. Okay.

[speaking Italian] Get the fuck out!

Get the fuck out of the car! Go! [chuckling] Ah! Hey!

Get out! Go!

[speaking Italian]

[sighs]

[engine starts]

I want a divorce.

[speaking Italian]

Morning, Dale. Evening, Mr. Conrad.

Evening.

[band continues playing]

Jack! Jack!

[guest] Oh, my God! J.C.!

Natalie! It’s been forever!

Yeah. I’ve been saying it since Wally Reid.

Who needs royalty anymore? Madame.

Dearest Jacky boy, we need to talk! I have a good story for you.

I have your face tattooed on my back. Well, look at that.

Jack, for fuck’s sake, I’ve been trying you all week.

Will you just fucking call me back?

[speaking Italian]

Come here, you moola-minting money machine motherfucker!

Jack, is it okay to grab one? Hey, Charlie. How’s the missus?

I think she left me. Hey, me too! Congrats!

Are you okay with March 17th for the premiere?

No, 18th. Thursdays are always classier.

Hey, send Charlie a bottle of bourbon and get ahold of his negative and make sure I don’t look too shiny. Yes, Mr. Conrad.

No Mrs. Conrad tonight?

Mmm.

Mm-mmm.

Mm-mmm.

Oh.

I’m sorry. [chuckles]

I think we have a problem.

We do? Yep.

This table only has one bottle, and we’re gonna need eight.

We’re also gonna need two gin rickeys, an orange blossom with brandy, three French 75s.

Can you do a Corpse Reviver?

Gin, lemon, triple sec and Kina Lillet with a dash of absinthe.

Two of those. Two of those.

Okay. Two gin rickeys, uh, three French…

You didn’t have to do that, you know, to get my attention.

I am so sorry, Mr. Conrad.

I want… What’s your name?

Jen. I just wanted you to look my way.

Jen, I’d always look your way.

[driver] Sir, George won’t come out of the car.

He’s insisting I drive him off the nearest cliff.

Right.

Be right back.

She said no, huh?

[crying] After all we’ve been through.

Well, to be fair, George, you did just meet her a week ago.

What we had was special, goddamn it.

I know, buddy, but you’re not gonna kill yourself over it.

Save the ring and come on inside.

There’s a girl asking after ya.

[sniffles]

Yeah?

That’s right.

[crashing]

[guests cheering]

There you go, buddy.

Who’s the girl? A goddess.

[snorts, clears throat]

No Paris for me.

I’m good. What?

You’ve never done cocaine?

[scoffs] Of course I’ve done cocaine.

Well? I do cocaine all the time. I just, uh…

Don’t make me do it alone.

Okay, I’ll do a little. Whatever. [chuckles]

I don’t care.

I don’t know, maybe Niagara Falls.

You know, “Roy,” actually, in French, means “king.”

And I added the “La,” so it’s “Nellie the King.”

I made that up.

What about you? Where would you go? Sorry?

[sniffs] If you could go anywhere in the whole world, where would you go?

[coughs] Uh, anywhere.

I don’t know. Um…

I always wanted to go on a movie set.

Yeah? Yeah. A movie set.

Tell me why.

Why? Yeah, tell me why.

All right, um…

I don’t know why. I wanna go on a movie set too.

Why? I just want to be part of something bigger, I guess.

Bigger than what?

Bigger than this.

Bigger than my life. Bigger than scooping elephant shit.

Bigger. Better. Important.

Something important. To be part of something important.

Something that lasts, that means something.

I love that answer.

Making movies. I want to go on a movie set too.

Or at least I want to be there, work there, learn there. I don’t know.

I just love watching movies, you know?

I love watching movies too. You sit there.

And you’re watching the movie and… And you escape.

You don’t have to be in your own shitty fucking life.

Exactly! Exactly! You can be in their life.

Or wherever! Or wherever!

You can be in the fucking Wild West! You can be in fucking space!

You can be like a gangster.

And people dance in movies and people die in movies.

And they’re not really dead. It’s fucking amazing.

They’re not really dead. Like literally, kill me.

Pow! [laughing]

And nothing happened, for real, but at the same time, it’s something even more important than life.

You can feel it. Like… I don’t know. Movies are sad sometimes.

Movies are fucking happy. They make you feel something.

One day, you and me, we’re gonna be on a movie set.

We can have lunch together. Yeah, for sure.

I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. It’ll be just you and me.

Yeah, you and me. Yeah.

You know, you’re not bad-looking.

Thank you.

And now, the Rose Petal… [drumroll]

…of the Rising Sun…

Miss Lady Fay Zhu!

[all cheering]

[announcer] Shh.

[cheering stops]

♪ There’s one pet I like to pet ♪

[cheering, whistling]

♪ Every evening we get set ♪

♪ I stroke it Every chance I get ♪

♪ It’s my girl’s ♪

♪ Pussy ♪

[cheering]

♪ Seldom plays and never purrs ♪

♪ And I love The thoughts it stirs ♪

[audience member whistles]

♪ But I don’t mind Because it’s hers ♪

♪ It’s my girl’s pussy ♪

[cheering]

[whistling]

♪ ‘Cause I’ll do anything For my sweet pet ♪

♪ She works me to a sweat ♪

[audience applauding]

♪ And that’s hard to do ♪

♪ I must first Remove my gloves ♪

♪ When stroking my girl’s ♪

♪ Pussy ♪

[music ends]

[audience cheering]

Lady Fay, Lady Fay, come stai?

Fine. Didn’t get the part, but writing the titles on it.

I’m stuck doing another costume picture, and my wife’s divorcing me.

Want to trade?

No. Eh…

That woman is something, you know?

She was completely honest with me.

Your wife?

God, no. My…

Jen. The, uh…

Ah. Listen, I need a favor.

You know my old friend George over there?

I wonder if you’d go talk to him.

Tell him you were asking after him.

That sad man over there?

Yeah.

Listen, I’m not asking you to fuck him.

Just, you know, make him…

[cow moos]

…feel special.

Hmm?

Okay.

[kisses, speaking Cantonese]

Don’t speak Cantonese to me. All right.

Oh, I love this song!

[up-tempo jazz music playing]

[rhythmic chanting]

[crowd cheering]

[music continues playing]

[cheering]

[cheering continues]

[rhythmic chanting]

You! I’ve been looking all over for you.

We got a serious fucking situation.

There’s no exit except down the main staircase.

Nothing in the back? No.

You gotta go through the ballroom. Everyone will see her.

Is there a doctor? No.

They’re all high down there. Maybe they won’t care.

If we take her out now… Somebody will care!

She’s a fucking kid, and she looks like she’s dead.

We use the elephant.

We bring him through the front.

Everyone will look at him. No one will look at her.

It’s only 2:00. Don wanted to save the elephant.

Fine. Get the wrangler.

Jimmy, you carry the girl with me. Then you drive her to the hospital.

Doubt she’ll be able to work tomorrow. That’s her fucking problem.

No. She’s in the bar scene in Maid’s Off.

Yeah. Jane Thornton, that’s her.

Bar shoots tomorrow, doesn’t it?

Yes.

[shouts] Who the fuck invited her?

[guest] Um…

I did.

You blimp motherfucker, piece of fat fucking shit!

It was her first film. She wanted to celebrate.

I’ll fucking… You doughboy!

You fuckhead motherfucking Humpty Dumpty!

[grunting, screaming]

Bob, come on! Bob! I’m gonna cut you up!

No, Bob! Don’t leave me! Fuck!

[cheering]

[screams]

[cheering continues]

Her.

Whoever she is. We go with her tomorrow.

[elephant trumpeting]

[all clamoring]

[guest] What the fuck?

[screaming]

[elephant groaning]

Come on! Come on, baby!

[glass shatters]

[elephant trumpets]

[screaming]

[glass shatters]

[trumpets]

Right here! I’m right here!

[music ends]

[band playing quietly]

[elephant trumpets]

[glass clatters]

Yeah. All right, Kapitän.

Just one more drink for old time’s sake.

Sir?

I just want to say thank you for the work.

And I was wondering if perhaps, next time, you or Mr. Wallach might have something for me on a set?

I’ll do anything.

I can paint, I can cook, I can clean, I can do coffee…

You’re where you belong.

Okay. Thank you.

[Nellie] Ooh. I’m gonna raise you.

[Jimmy] You need to be on set in three hours. You’d better get some sleep.

[laughs]

Gentlemen. You have a good night, Nellie.

[poker player] Congratulations.

[Nellie squeals]

Manny!

Ain’t life grand?

[laughing]

[screams]

Oh, if they could see me now!

All the cunts in Lafayette called me the ugliest mutt in the neighborhood.

Well, let them see me now!

Can you believe this, Manny?

Hey, Josie! Hey, Nana!

Why don’t you kiss my royal Angeleno hooch?

Nellie.

[laughs]

[in Spanish] I think I’m in love with you.

[car door opens, closes]

[engine starts]

Night night, honey.

[crashes]

Don’t worry about that.

The car is not mine.

Chico. Hey, Chico!

Jack Conrad’s passed out.

Use one of Wallach’s cars to take him home.

Señor? Sir? Uh, do you have keys? [grunts]

Yeah. I have keys.

[speaking Spanish]

[speaking Spanish]

[grunting]

[Jack snoring]

[grunts] [cackling]

Damn it.

[door opens]

Ah, musica. Musica?

Huh?

Sì. Sì.

[opera music playing on radio]

[sighs]

[singing along in Italian]

Imagine me at the opera? That would’ve made Ina’s folks happy.

[sighs]

[music continues playing]

Well, if you’ll excuse me…

[singing in Italian]

[water running]

[singing continues]

See my point? Come on.

[singing in Italian]

Ina’s mom always said,

“I don’t see how you can marry someone who paints his face.”

You know what we gotta do?

We gotta redefine the form.

The man who puts gasoline in your tank goes to the movies why?

Why? Why?

Because he feels less alone there.

Don’t we owe him more than the same old shit?

You got the guys in Europe with the twelve-tone.

You got Bauhaus architecture. Fucking Bauhaus, you know?

And we’re still doing costume pictures?

It’s the dinosaurs, kid.

It’s the ones who go to Beverly Hills for meatballs and mint juleps to reminisce about the old days, when they can’t see there’s so much more to be done!

[blows]

We’ve got to innovate. We’ve got to inspire.

We got to dream beyond these pesky shells of flesh and bone.

Map those dreams onto celluloid and print them into history.

Turn today into tomorrow so that tomorrow’s lonely man may look up at that flickering screen and say for the very first time, “Eureka! I am not alone!”

[sighs]

Yeah.

[crashing]

[gasping]

[shouts]

[exhales]

[Jack grunts]

[sighs, spits]

And I’m going to bed.

[sighs]

[groans]

[opera continues playing]

[Jack] Hey, where’d you go?

You need something?

Yeah, I like you. I want you to take me to set today.

I want you by my side.

You okay with that?

Sí.

You ever been on a movie set before?

No.

You’ll see.

It’s the most magical place in the world.

[in Spanish] I’ve heard.

[gasps]

[groans]

[chattering, children shouting in distance]

[door opens]

[speaking Cantonese] Liu. We could use your help.

[speaks Cantonese] Ok, I’ll be right there.

Liu?

Dad got last week’s check?

Yes. It was more this time. Thank you.

[laughing]

[launderer] Hole in shirt before.

No, hole not in shirt before, you fucking coolie!

I don’t want a fucking discount! I…

Are you…

I am.

[gasps] Morning!

[panting]

Time to go make a movie.

[grunts]

[car door closes]

[excited chattering]

[shouting]

[protestors chanting]

[indistinct shouting]

Maid’s Off? Yeah.

Come with me.

[crew member] Higher! More!

[drumming]

[grunting]

[shouting ferociously]

Now go over, put it in the pot. Scream like a big, fat pig.

All right. All right, all right! Yes!

Go!

[playing native music]

[camel lows]

[chattering]

[shouting]

More whiskey! More whiskey!

Well, don’t just fucking stand there! Get the fuck out of the shot!

[playing jazz]

[camel grunts]

Peanuts! Good for hangovers!

You. You’re new? You’re new here?

Your first bag is free.

One bag or two? One. And you’re paying this time? Thank you.

Hurry the fuck up!

Can you stop drinking? We are not shooting yet!

Put down the fucking glasses!

Who the fuck is this? I asked for the girl with the tits.

This is who they found.

What happened to the tits part?

She OD’d.

[groans loudly]

Just go. Just go. Get her made up.

Max! Yes.

Just, uh, shoot the men or something.

No tits? No tits.

All right, no tits, everybody! We’re shooting the men.

[director] Diese Scheißen fucks! They are ruining my movie!

I want them on camera in five minutes!

Otto, please, please. Jack’s arriving.

[tires screech]

What about pancakes?

Do you heat the syrup or do you let the pancake do the warming?

[groans] Heat the syrup? I agree!

Ha. That there is George Munn,

best producer in the biz and my oldest pal.

Set patrol over there is Jim Kidd.

Legend of the Wild West who made his name killing Apaches.

Lives in Brentwood now. [Otto] This is bullshit!

Georgie, what’s up Von Cheeseburger’s ass today? [sighs]

The extras want to renegotiate their pay… you motherfucker!

Huh. I do not care if the extras are revolting!

Well, put the kid on it.

The kid? Yeah, the kid. The Mexican I brought.

He’s great. What’s your name?

Me? Manuel.

[Otto] Bullshit!

Right, Manuel. Manuel’s great! Put Manuel on it.

You have experience with strikes?

Um… yes.

Okay, good.

Well, these are all junkies from Skid Row, so they’re pretty violent.

[Otto] …you fucking assholes!

Who are you?

That’s the cocksucker they sent to screw us!

Gentlemen, I believe you all agreed to a day’s work.

And I believe I agreed to ram this knife up the asshole of the first f*ggot they sent over!

[strikers cheering]

[speaking Spanish]

This is where you kiss the apparition, ja?

Ja.

She has led you to your destiny through fate, through your lifetime to this moment, ja? Mm-hmm.

Very good, ja? Ja.

I’m gonna play it adagio.

You know, for the music and the poetry.

All art aspires to music.

I like it. Yeah.

Sandwich!

What is this dolly doing here?

[strikers shouting angrily]

Sir! Sir, sir! Sir, can I borrow that?

[gunshot]

[Manuel] All right, you motherfuckers!

Any of you don’t work gets a bullet in the fucking skull!

[gunfire]

Get back to work! Get back to work!

Get back to work!

[muffled] Manuel’s great!

How’s that for camera? Much better, Ruth.

Jesus Christ!

Is somebody gonna fix her face?

Get her out of here! Fuck’s sake.

Do you not know how to do makeup? You, what’s your name?

Tim. Tim, you’re fired.

What? You heard her! Get the fuck off this set!

[Otto] Action!

[orchestra playing]

[shouting ferociously]

[orchestra continues playing]

[explosion]

[explosion]

[shouting in German] Faster! Faster! Faster! Faster!

Faster, motherfuckers!

[horse whinnies]

[shouting continues]

[screams]

“Marbled meadows metamorphose into the medieval plains of Iberia. Soldiers swarm the fields like flecks of paint from a madman’s brush as your humble servant bears witness to the latest of the moving picture’s magic tricks.”

Oh, why do I bother?

Look at these idiots!

[sighs]

[sniffs]

I knew Proust, you know.

[dramatic music continues]

[shouts]

[horses whinnying]

[screaming]

[shouting]

H-He’s dead.

He did have a drinking problem.

[George] That’s true.

Probably ran into it himself, huh?

It’s a disease.

[tires screeching]

Your coffee, Mr. Thalberg.

Gracias.

[Jack] Close with Swanson and the fireworks. The end!

Irv! For the Clayton movie…

Sir, I-I think your tent’s in the line of fire.

They’ll edit it out in post. But I think we could get hurt…

[explosion] Jack, every time you wear a prosthetic, we lose money.

Don’t be a pussy, Irv. The fireworks shot is too expensive.

And you’ll never get Gloria Swanson.

Why no Swanson?

She only does leads. She’s on the phone, sir.

Thanks, Abby. Who?

Gloria Swanson. What?

Gloria? Jack Conrad. Listen, I need some advice.

You know all the young up-and-comers.

Well, I need a real discovery for the part in my movie. Who do you suggest?

Why discovery? Well, this role requires real range.

A range I just don’t see in any of today’s stars… [screams]

Excuse me.

Props needs better aging, goddamn it! We talked about this!

Sorry, what… No, I didn’t…

Gloria, you have buckets of charm.

This is real drama we’re talking about. Shakespeare-level stuff.

Hmm. Of course you could do Shakespeare.

You would be spectacular in one of his fluffier plays.

Gloria, you’re taking this the wrong way.

Well, I’d like to work with you too.

No, I’m afraid it’s impossible. It’s gotta be a discovery.

We couldn’t afford star fees even if we wanted to.

Really? Huh.

Well, how about I talk it over with the studio?

I can’t speak for them, of course, but I’ll do my best.

Okay, then. Bye now.

[hangs up]

She’ll do it for cheap.

Now take the money I saved you and put it towards the goddamn fireworks shot.

Cut!

[screams] These fucking horses!

Motherfuckers!

[grunts] Is that the last one?

What happened? We lost all ten cameras.

But what about Jack’s scene? We make a camera run right now!

It’s too far! Sun sets in three hours!

Send Joey now. Tell him to speed. In the meantime…

Joey has a flag sticking through his chest, Larry.

A flag? He ran into it himself.

Right. Um, send Miguel then.

Here. 1312 Cahuenga.

You give ’em that card, you tell ’em you work for Munn.

And hurry!

Okay, here’s the shot.

Flirt with the men. Dance. Get up on the table and that’s it.

Just, uh, don’t look at the fucking camera. Places!

[crew member] And camera! [camera clattering]

[Ruth] And music!

[up-tempo jazz playing]

[Ruth] Action!

Hi, boys.

Santa, get me wet.

Another, please.

That one’s for you, snuggle pup. [chuckling]

Hey, baby grand.

[grunting]

[chuckles]

Where are you going?

Uh… okay, start dancing, please.

[music continues]

Bauhaus.

You know what I mean by Bauhaus, don’t you?

Not as it relates to this, sir, no.

[cheering]

And then he says, “Hasta la vista, motherfucker.”

Type it.

[cheering, whistling]

[whooping]

[grunts]

[shouts]

And then he says, “Frankly, Scarlett, you’re a cunt.”

Type it.

[glass shattering]

Cut!

[brakes squealing]

Man number three, I can see your erection.

All right, tuck it. Just tuck it up.

[panting]

Hi. I work for Mr. George Munn.

We need a camera for Strassberger’s show.

Oh, yeah? What kind of camera?

Bell and Howell 35 millimeter.

Uh-huh. Is it a 2708 model or 2709?

I-I’m not sure. Is there a big difference?

Um, yeah.

Hey, Donny!

What? There’s a guy up here wants to know

if there’s a big difference between a 2708 and a 2709. [chuckling]

Okay.

[Donny guffawing]

Do you have either? Nope.

Every camera’s been loaned out. Fuck.

One’s coming back in half an hour though.

Half hour?

But it’s a 2709.

Yeah. Okay.

Thirty minutes.

For the 2709. I can do that. Thirty minutes.

Two-seven… Okay.

…zero-nine.

[clock ticking]

Are you married?

My wife died. Oh, I’m dreadfully sorry.

Hey! Next part. Miss Moore’ll come in.

She saved you from prostitution, so when you see her, cry in shame.

I need big tears! Big! You got it? Okay, yeah.

Is that gum?

Are you fucking kidding me? What’s wrong with you?

Five-minute warning for Miss Moore!

[door opens]

[car horn honks]

That’s mine!

I have 20 minutes to be in Simi Valley.

Which road do I take? Uh, you’re gonna look at least 90 in this traffic.

We’ve got an eight-part sign-out process. Let me go try to find a pen.

Action!

[up-tempo jazz playing] And action, Miss Moore.

Hand on chest. Aghast! [gasps]

My goodness, what is going on here?

Girl on bar, look at Miss Moore.

And tears!

[whispers] Okay, glycerin.

Um, we seem to be out. What? We haven’t used any.

Porky thought it was lube.

He thought it was lube? Yes.

[Ruth] Are you fucking… She can’t cry.

She’s just some random whore from Wallach’s house! [sobs]

[crying]

Cut.

[sobs, stops]

Hiya. I’m Nellie LaRoy.

So we going again?

Fucking motherfucker.

I’m so sorry, God.

You gave us the beautiful light, and I squandered it.

I won’t have any fucking light now.

Otto, you should have fought for 20 cameras, you idiot!

[siren wailing]

What is this bullshit?

[siren wailing continues]

[siren stops] Camera! Camera!

Camera! Yeah.

Camera! Camera! Yeah.

My camera’s here! My camera’s here!

We roll, we roll! We are losing the light!

[Ruth] Take two! Action!

[gasps] And cry.

Cut! Okay, I want to try something. [grunts]

Think you could hold for two beats for tears gushing?

Eyes water for two, on the third beat, I’m gonna do a light effect.

That’s when you gush. Water for two, gush on three. Yep.

Yes. Okay, let’s do it! Ruth, any notes on my entrance?

You’re fine.

Ready for you, Mr. Conrad.

[Ruth] Action!

[gasps]

Eyes water.

Light. And tears!

[sobs]

Cut!

Okay. Forgive the ask. This is nuts.

But could you, by any chance, try the same thing with less tears?

One tear or two?

Let’s do this.

‘Twas brillig and the slithy toves were…

[bottle clatters]

Oh, hey. Come with.

Camera’s up the hill, Mr. Conrad. Over here?

There? Yeah.

We’d better hurry.

[grunts]

[groans]

[grunting]

There? Okay.

[Otto] Ah, my beautiful baby boy.

Come, come. Okay, right here.

Now remember, you are sad and lonely man. Right here.

No one will ever love you but her, and she’s only in your head, okay?

[crew member] Last looks! Do I know her?

[Otto] No. She’s in your head!

No, no! No last looks! No last looks!

Get the fuck out! I’ll fucking kill you! We are losing the light!

We roll now! We roll!

Roll, roll, roll, roll.

[camera whirring]

[groans]

[Otto] Music!

[playing quietly] And action.

[Ruth] Action!

[gasps]

[crew] Oh, my God, it’s a fire!

Everyone, run! Run!

Don’t stop the camera! Keep rolling! Keep rolling!

Single tear!

[people screaming]

Cannon! Cannon!

[gunshot]

[sizzling]

More crying!

Now laugh in embarrassment. [laughing]

Now look at Miss Moore.

You’re trying to hide the shame.

Hold steady. What the…

You’re trying to be strong.

You’re trying to bury the pain.

But you can’t hold back that one final tear!

[romantic music playing]

[music swells]

[explosions]

And cut. Cut.

[camera whirring slows, stops]

We got it.

[all cheering]

[crew whooping, applauding]

[crew applauding, cheering]

Who the fuck is that?

Camera boy! The camera boy! You saved my movie!

I love you! I love you! Yes! Did you see that?

Did you see the butterfly?

That was a butterfly.

Who’s writing the titles on this?

I gotta ask you something. Yeah? Was it okay?

It was incredible! I just… How do you do it?

Just tear up over and over like it’s nothing?

I just think of home.

[band playing jazz]

[Elinor] So, Jacky boy, how do you think it turned out?

Ah, people want the kiss, we give them the kiss.

[cork pops]

But, madame, I can’t help but wonder, don’t we have a higher calling?

We got a lot of great stuff.

We’re really excited about our new discovery, Nellie LaRoy.

Is she here tonight? Can you point her out to me? Uh…

[Nellie whooping]

[guests cheering]

Yeah, she’s the one having sex with the ice sculpture.

We’re all very fond of her.

[up-tempo jazz playing]

It needs more punch. Take two frames off the tail and three more off the head.

Manuel. Yes?

I saw Olga Putti sing to herself in Hungarian, and I think I’m in love.

Send two dozen roses to her dressing room every morning this week.

You know she doesn’t speak English? Neither does love.

Let’s do a title here.

“I’ve been in fashion shows too. They voted me the ‘Least Dressed Woman’ in Paris.”

And when it looks like the guy asks her something, have him ask her name and have her reply, “No names. Just call me the wild child.”

Do you think she swings both ways?

You’re not on the list. Okay, listen to me. My name is Nellie LaRoy.

Still not on the list. Lady, I’m in the movie.

They clearly cut you, baby. Is that snakeskin?

Oh, my God! Nellie LaRoy! Can I have an autograph?

I once fought a rattlesnake, and it’s against the law to even deal with a rattlesnake. Gorgeous! Gorgeous!

There are laws now because I fought the rattlesnake and lived.

Okay. You can go in.

Why, thank you.

[no audible dialogue]

[audience laughing]

[audience applauding, laughing continues]

[audience cheering]

Naturally, I always knew my daughter had it in her.

We’re gonna do great things together, she and I.

By the way, the name is Robert Roy.

She added the “La.” [chuckles]

[radio announcer] It’s celebration time for Jack Conrad.

The epic Blood & Gold has confirmed Jack as the highest-grossing leading man in the world.

And now he’s got his nuptials to toast, this time with the Hungarian vixen, Olga Putti.

One unlucky girl who did not attend the festivities: a Kansas teenager who, overcome by the combined effect of Valentino’s death and Conrad’s fifth betrothal, slit her wrists at home.

How sad.

Meanwhile, that new favorite, Nellie LaRoy,

is making other girls with California dreams Roy-ally jealous!

Kinoscope’s reteaming the firecracker from Jersey with Constance Moore.

And you know what that means: “Moore” delightful chemistry with Constance and Nellie!

This goddamn bitch is stealing the scene right from under me!

She’s changing the blocking with every take.

She’s icing her nipples so they perk up through her dress.

Fuck you. I ain’t icing my nipples. This is natural.

You’re just sore because yours look like fucking latkes.

And she placed this in my dressing room.

I don’t even know what that is. Oh!

Guys, let’s just try a take, okay? I don’t think she meant anything by it.

Let’s go back to our ones. I need a drink. Whore!

Nellie, back to your one. Guys, back to your one.

I’ll give you something to cry about!

[Max] All right, we’re going again!

[Ruth] Action!

[chicken clucking]

Whoo!

Stop! She’s changed the blocking again!

Fine. Grab a close-up. No! No close-up.

To match-cut with yours. I’m the star! I get the close-up.

This is my money. My company’s writing the checks. I decide!

Fine. Close-up on Constance.

Close-up on Constance!

Hi, Dr. Lubin.

I think I want to get that operation we discussed.

Tonight.

Oh, my God.

[Ruth] How long will that take to heal?

What do you say we come in for my close-up now?

“Common and uncouth though she may be, there’s something about her that speaks to us in a language as vital and as bracing as life itself.”

[crew member] All right, you heard her. Close-up on Nellie.

“Never have I seen such a maelstrom of bad taste and sheer magic. Your humble servant bears witness. She has killed our grandmothers, and we thank her for it!”

How much?

[urinating]

Jack!

It’s Billy. Remember?

[chuckling]

Yeah. Hi.

[urinating]

[sighs] You should come by the Warners lot.

Haven’t seen you there in a while.

Yeah.

Jolson’s sound picture’s real good.

[urinating stops]

Sound picture?

Yeah.

Like Don Juan?

[toilet flushes] No, no, no, no. Singing.

Talking pictures. Like you’re there.

Not like the shorts.

Really? Yeah. It’s wild.

We did a screening on the lot last week. People went nuts.

[flushing]

You, uh, think people want that, though? Sound in their movies?

[defecating loudly]

[grunts]

Yeah, why wouldn’t they?

[Jack] This is what we’ve been looking for!

Sound is how we redefine the form. Sound!

[shouting in Hungarian] Sweetie, I don’t…

I don’t know what you’re upset about. I don’t understand Hungarian.

I heard Warners’ screening last week was a train wreck.

Manuel, what’s she saying? I got him learning Hungarian ’cause he’s good with languages.

Something about “getting fucked by a wheelbarrow of monkeys.” Hiccups are normal.

[crashing] Geez Louise!

Olga? Does this mean you don’t like the rain machine I made you?

She missed the rain in Budapest so I built a rain machine in the garden.

Hiccups that last ten years? Manuel?

Something about… Took ten years for the Wrights’ airplane to work.

…a horse’s cock and your anus. Didn’t it?

That’s not the same thing. That’s not the same. Didn’t it? Aha! Why not?

[Jack] Progress comes in fits.

[screams]

Hello? Spurts and fits.

Thalberg. People go to movies not to listen to the noise.

Irv? Jack.

[shouting in Hungarian continues]

I wanna know about the Al Jolson movie. Get Manuel to New York.

Send him to the Warners’ Theatre to see the premiere and have him report back.

[Olga screaming] Jolson? All right. Who is that screaming?

That’s just Olga.

Look, don’t stand in the way of progress, Irv. Sound is the future.

Whoa! Hey! Holy shit! Send Manuel to New York.

Jack! Jack, get down!

[Jack] Sweetie, sweetie.

Is this about Greta? You know she’s just a friend.

Get down! Jack!

♪ For the longest while ♪

What the fuck was that? Hello? Hello?

Jack? Jack?

[person chattering] [car horns honking]

[coin clattering]

Jack? [person] Nellie!

I got the ticket to the premiere. Nellie! Nellie, I love you!

I know. I’ll let you know how it is.

[fan] Nellie! Nellie!

[crowd clamoring]

Yes, Jack.

Yeah, okay. Bye.

[horns honking]

[fan 2] Please, Nellie!

[tires screech]

[fan 3] Nellie, please can I have your autograph?

Nellie! Nellie!

Nellie!

Manny!

[fan 3] Please, Nellie!

[crowd shouting]

Manny!

Show me your tits, you fucking bitch!

Right here! Stop, stop, stop!

You fucking whore! I love you.

No, no, no! Back off, cabrones! Back off now!

[shouting continues] Nellie!

Tony, go, go!

[sighs, laughs] How you been?

Eh, good, good. Ah! Look at you!

Wow. You remember me.

Yeah, of course I remember you. How could I forget?

And you’re a star now. I was always a star, remember?

Right, right. [laughing]

And, um, what are you doing here? Are you here for a movie or…

No, I had to get out of town for a few days.

Some shit came up with a guy saying I owed him money in a game of craps.

Then Wallach got pissed. He straightened him out.

But he thinks I have a gambling problem, which I don’t.

I only gamble if I’m, you know, pissed or drunk or having a great night.

What about you?

Um, Jack Conrad sent me.

Jack Conrad? Yeah, I’m working with him.

Oh! I would fuck him. Wow.

Why would Conrad send you here? God.

I got out of this place first chance I got.

Took nothing with me but my dad.

He’s actually my business manager now.

He is? Yeah. He’s so bad at it.

Cannot add, cannot spell. Why don’t you hire someone else?

He’s my dad. What else is he gonna do?

Oh, shit, we’re here. Hey, Tony?

Can you hang onto this for me, please? Thanks.

I’m just gonna be a minute, okay?

Actually, uh, do you wanna come in with me?

Yeah.

[nurse] May I help you? Yes. Nellie LaRoy.

[metal door closes]

Hi.

Seems okay here.

It’s pretty nice.

This is Manny.

He works in the movies too.

Okay. Thank you.

That was a waste of time. [chuckling]

Let’s go.

I hate when people put fucking toppings on ice cream.

Doesn’t need it.

It messes up a good thing. You know what I mean?

I fucking hate that.

God, I’ve never done nothing except disappoint people my whole life.

Teachers told me I was no good. Boys told me I was no good.

Every fucking casting director in the city told me I was too short or I was too fat.

Usually I was too fat.

You know, my mama actually had some fat years too.

You wouldn’t know it now, looking at her, but she did.

They fucked up with me, Manny. They really fucked up with me.

‘Cause I make ’em squirm.

And I like making ’em squirm.

Let ’em know that I got here on my terms, not theirs.

And when I’m done, I’m gonna dance my ass off into the night.

And they’ll know… Everyone will fucking know that they could never control one goddamn fucking thing.

Do you like ice cream?

Of course.

My family lives in LA, you know.

Really?

I thought they were in Mexico.

We crossed the border when I was 12.

They’re not far.

I could take a car, drive for 30 minutes and just say hi.

But you never do.

Sí.

It’s just easier to be on my own.

I’ve always been on my own.

Um, Tony, take Manny wherever he needs to go.

Oh, no, it’s okay. No, no, no. I insist. I insist.

[sniffs]

I’m gonna see you back in LA, okay?

[kisses]

[audience cheering]

[loud cheering continues]

[audience member] Oh, my God! Oh, my God!

[loud cheering continues]

[car horns honking]

Jack? It’s Manny. Everything’s about to change.

Nell, how you feeling?

I’m ready.

Yeah, you gonna try a take? Yeah.

Okay, so we’re gonna pre-roll first. I’ll cue your entrance.

First mark is where you say the line, “Hello, college,” and then you head to the phone, do the rest of the dialogue.

Sounds easy. [chuckles] I think it will be.

Lloyd, any direction on voice?

Uh, no, we’re good up here, Ruth. Okay, great.

Uh, Mark, can we fix her makeup? Mark.

No air conditioning? [chuckling] It’s too loud.

Okay.

Just be natural. You’ll be fine.

All right, places, everyone!

[bell rings]

[footsteps]

Uh, hey, whoa, what is that?

Harry, what kind of shoes are those?

Uh… Come on, guys, rubber soles!

Okay, everyone, a reminder.

Rubber soles only from now on!

Okay.

And camera! And sound!

“It’s Joanne from 31 Grimes Hall. I just…”

Fuck! “31 Grays Hall.” Grays Hall, Grays Hall.

“Hiya, this is Joanne from 31 Grays Hall. I just wanted to see if the phone worked.”

“Just wanted to see if the phone worked. Who is this?”

Scene 17, take one.

[crew member] Mark.

[exhales]

Come on. Come on, come on. You know it.

[Ruth] And action!

[whirring]

[door hinge squeaking]

[electricity buzzing]

[footsteps]

Hello, college!

[microphone squeals]

Jesus, fuck! Cut!

[bell rings]

[Max] What happened? She blew the valves.

I just need a minute. [Max] All right, well, hurry.

Give me one sec. Christ, it’s hot in there.

[Max] Okay, are we still in places?

Okay.

Okay, all set here. Miss LaRoy? Yeah.

What would really help us would be if you said the line a little more quietly.

Okay.

[Max] All right, places, everyone!

And camera!

And sound!

[bell rings]

Close that!

Don’t you know what a red light means?

Scene 17, take two.

[crew member] Mark.

Action.

[sighs]

[Ruth] Cut. Missed your mark, Nell.

[bell rings]

[Nellie] Oh.

[Ruth] It’s…

Yeah, I, uh…

I don’t know, I felt, like, a little lighter on my feet that time.

I feel I should come further into the room. Right, but the microphone is…

Um… [snaps fingers]

All right. Hey, Lloyd? Yeah.

Can we just move the mic a little deeper in the room?

[Lloyd] Why?

Because Nellie felt lighter on her feet that time.

[Nellie] I was just saying I think I should come further into the room.

Oh, okay. Yeah, sure, I mean, if you have half an hour to spare.

[Ruth] Half an hour? Well, I can’t just move the mic.

I have to redo all the wires.

We’ll have to reset the rafters, then find the new position.

Then I’m gonna have to recalibrate the whole room. Okay, okay. Okay.

Nell, why don’t we just… Is it okay…

Let’s just try one on the mark, okay? You can do it.

And camera! And sound!

[rings]

Scene 17, take three. Mark.

Action.

[squeaking]

[quietly] Well, hello, college.

Cut! No good for sound.

Well, fucking hell, Lloyd. Could you just let us get through one take?

Why would I do that if you won’t be able to use it? You told me to do it quiet.

That’s why I did it quiet. Quiet, not inarticulate. You can’t mumble.

This is bullshit.

Are we going again or what? I can’t breathe in here! We’re going again!

And camera and sound! [rings]

Scene 17, take four. Mark.

Action. [squeaks]

Well, hello, college!

Motherfucker! Who opened the door?

[shouting]

[Max] All right, everybody, eyes on me!

Any other faggots who ignore that red light…

You’re alternating the pitch of your voice too much.

Okay, can you just… Lloyd, Lloyd, fuck off.

Fuck off. I listen to my fucking director, not the fucking sound guy!

Who the fu…

Mr. Wallach, so happy you’re joining us. Come on.

Maybe try staying more monotone.

Okay.

And camera and sound! Yeah, okay.

[rings] Scene 17, take five.

Mark. Action.

[squeaks]

Well, hello, college.

Hiya, this is Joanne from Gray…

[Lloyd] Cut!

Motherfucking shit! Cocksucking… What the fuck?

[Ruth] What the fuck happened now?

I’m hearing a high-pitched noise. Yeah, it’s her voice.

Do you hear that?

[Nellie] For fuck’s sake.

Do you hear? That squeak?

Is anybody wearing a watch?

No. No.

I’m telling you, I can’t stay in there that long.

It’s a fucking hotbox! I get it, Bill.

Nobody is comfortable in here. Quiet!

What is that fucking sound?

We gotta move this along. [whispering] I’m so sorry, Mr. Wallach.

We’ll get this under control, I promise you.

“Hiya, this is Joanne from 31 Grimes Hall.”

Fuck! Grays Hall. “I just wanted to see… Who is this?”

[breathing heavily]

[buzzing]

Hey, Count? Count? [snaps fingers]

I need a red one. Yeah, yeah.

“The” Count. It’s just The Count.

Just next time say, “The Count.”

Now’s not really “The” fucking time.

Found it! It’s a pin in Ruth’s ankle.

Did you have surgery?

If you can just keep your right leg absolutely still.

[Max] And camera and sound!

[sighs]

[rings]

Scene 17, take six. Mark.

Action. [squeaks]

Well, hello, college. [sneezes]

Who sneezed? Who the fuck sneezed?

Kike-nosed, Hymie-hole piece of mongoloid shit! I see you.

Oh, I see you right there, you little Shylock dickface.

Wipe your nose again! Wipe your little hook nose, you menorah motherfucker!

Now, does anyone else here need to sneeze? Huh?

Does anyone else here need to fuck this scene in the ass?

Camera! And sound!

Scene 17, take seven. Mark.

Action. [squeaks]

Hello, college. Nell, your mark!

[screams] Fuck this shit!

Fuck. Lloyd. It’s a million fucking degrees!

We gotta move the mic. Or you could fucking direct her to hit her fucking mark.

But why is it so fucking hard? You’re right!

I didn’t realize we were making Ben-Hur!

I can move it right now. My whole year is wide open.

We could shoot this thing through fucking New Year’s.

Wherever the fuck those little feet of hers want to go, I can move the mic for them!

Okay, calm down! Get off of me! I dare you! I fucking dare you!

Get off the set! You’re good.

Un-fucking-professional!

Okay. Okay, Lloyd, ready to go again?

You want me to use this chalk? Make the mark bigger for you?

[Ruth] Okay, we’re gonna go again. It’s fine. No, it’s fine.

The mark’s right here. I’m gonna kick your fucking ass!

Oh, yeah! Come on! Come on!

[all shouting]

Can we go? I’m gonna have a fucking heart attack in here.

Get back in your fucking box, Bill!

[Lloyd] I can’t even believe this.

Everyone, shut up! Shut the fuck up!

[Nellie] That’s not how we make movies. Shut the fuck up!

Shut up! Shut up! Shut the fuck up!

Shut the fuck up!

Now, if anyone stops this scene again, I will shit on you!

I will shit in your mouth, I promise you!

Is that clear, Lloyd? Is that good for fucking sound?

Now, we are going again!

Camera! And motherfucking sound!

[breathing raggedly]

[rings]

Scene 17, take eight. [weakly] Mark.

[sighs] Action.

[squeaking]

Hello, college.

Hello?

Hiya, this is Joanne from 31 Grays Hall.

I was just gonna see if the phone worked.

Who is this?

You don’t say. The Dean! Well, how you doin’?

It’s a nice campus you got here.

So, uh, what’s a girl supposed to do once she’s here?

[laughs] Sure, classes.

But ain’t you got any parties?

Not till the evening, huh?

All right, I can handle that.

I’m from Granville, Ohio, so I know quiet.

[chuckles]

Thanks a bunch, Dean. See you later.

Nice fella. Wonder if he’s single.

Cut! Cut!

[all cheering] We did it!

[squealing]

[laughing hysterically] Yes, we did it!

[laughing hysterically]

Okay, check the gate!

[Max] Billy, check the gate!

[laughing]

[Max] Billy! [laughs]

Bill!

Billy, come on.

Bill… Let’s get a crowbar. Come on. Hurry up.

[all] Bill!

[Ruth] Oh, my God.

He’s dead.

[playing jazz]

[people whooping]

Manuel!

Meet Estelle.

She’s from Broadway. She’s a real actor.

We got engaged yesterday. Now she’s trying to explain to me that movies are a low art.

Mucho gusto. Drinks?

Double shot of tequila. Water, darling.

[shattering] Hola, Jacky!

Hola, Carmelita.

I have no idea who that is.

The point is, darling, I believe movies are every bit as profound.

And with sync sound, which, who knows, could be what the discovery of perspective was for painting, I think what we have here in Hollywood is high art.

It’s… Party time, sparkle cocks!

[all cheering]

Hot damn!

Jack Conrad? Hmm.

You are even more fuckable in person.

Thank you. This is Estelle.

His fiancée. Fiancée?

Hey, I’m not actually gonna fuck him.

I beat the whole USC football team at a game of craps when we wrapped, so now they have to be my slaves for the night.

Jack, can you say hi to my dad, please? Sure.

He wanted to meet you. He’s also my manager. It’s a good thing we met, Jack.

I got a business proposition just for you.

A Nellie-themed diner.

I’m gonna call it “The Wild Child Grill.”

I’m gonna serve sandwiches shaped like her face.

[band playing quietly]

[Sidney] It’s not a threat, it’s just what it is.

If you keep playing flat, I’m gonna fucking headbutt you, and it’s just gonna be what it’s gonna be.

You need to play better. You embarrassing us.

Joe, you hear what he just said to me? Listen to this psychopath.

When you gonna do something? Why you worried about Joe?

N*gga, when are you gonna do something?

Have you ever heard of Alexander Scriabin?

Why the fuck do I care about Alexander Scriabin?

Alexander Scriabin was a Russian pianist.

Broke his hands just so his fingers could stretch across the keys better.

I’m saying if I fucking headbutt you across them funky-ass lips of yours, you might start playing a little better.

We can hope. You’re fucking deranged, Sidney.

Elinor’s trying to civilize me for talkies. Ain’t that nice?

“Isn’t that nice?”

Isn’t. And more attire next time.

A little more attire’s always in the way.

Nellie dresses low ’cause Nellie is low.

Now, let me tell you about the time I fought a rattlesnake.

It was Death Valley. April.

Jack? It’s George.

Aw, Georgie.

Who was it this time? [panting]

Claire.

Claire. Well, Claire’s a lesbian.

That’s an uphill battle for anyone.

Come on, buddy, get your head out of there. Let’s go get a drink.

Okay, okay, I’ll stop.

I’m stuck.

What? I’m stuck.

Get me the fuck out of here!

[emcee] Ladies and gentlemen, your attention, please!

For your entertainment this evening, Miss Lady Fay Zhu will now choose a partner.

[band playing tango]

Hi.

I’m Nellie LaRoy’s dad.

[chuckles]

What’s your name?

Cannonball!

[laughing]

[crowd applauding]

[vocalizing]

You’re great, man.

You call my office ’cause we’re gonna need more musicians.

And you’re talented, man.

Mr. Thalberg, it’s an honor to meet…

Yeah, I’m gonna go throw up now.

[guest 1] Spoke to my friend at Kinoscope. He said the movie’s a disaster.

[guest 2] LaRoy’s?

[guest 1] Yeah.

They went double the budget ’cause she could never hit her fucking mark and her voice sounds like a dying pig. [laughter]

No, seriously, apparently the footage is so awful, Wallach’s already thinking about dumping her.

[guest 2] I’m not surprised. She never had any talent anyway.

[guest 1] Oh, my God. Zero.

Filthy, slutty piece of fucking trash with a nasty voice.

[laughing]

You meet her dad? Oh, my God.

He’s even more embarrassing than she is. Fucking idiot.

Goodbye!

[laughing]

Don’t come back!

[laughing continues]

[guest 1] It’s the end, I’m telling you. It’s the end for all of ’em.

All the frogs.

[crying, sniffling]

[sighs] Don’t be a fucking baby.

[Robert] And that, that is when I grabbed the snake by the head.

The big fucking man! There he is! What?

What’s he telling you? What was he saying to you?

The snake story. The snake story.

Come on, buddy. You got it, yeah.

[Nellie] Dad, I have an idea.

Why don’t you fight a snake… A real one… right now?

Come on. Okay, no problemo.

Let’s go fight a snake. Okay!

Fucking listen up, all you big-dick Mister Men!

Who wants to see my dad fight a fucking snake?

Fuck yeah!

[all cheering]

[Jack] A snake’s getting fought!

A snake’s getting fought!

Yeah, I mean, Chaplin is hung for sure, but Gary Cooper… Gary Cooper is a fucking horse!

He’s also a fucking pussy. All that cock… [snorts] …no balls.

A shame. [snorts]

What are the schlongs like on Broadway? You want some?

[Estelle] No, thank you. Doesn’t look that bad, buddy.

Stop! [pats window]

[rattling]

[car doors closing]

Sweetie, come on. Please don’t…

[laughing]

[Elinor] Thank you.

Please, hurry!

[squealing, laughing]

This can’t be where we… Where are we?

[laughing]

Where’d he go? [people exclaiming]

[laughing]

[Robert] Holy fuck!

Out of my way! Huh. Huh.

No! Stand… Stand… Stand back.

Back!

I’m gonna fight a snake.

[rattling continues] Whoo!

[laughs] Look, sweetie, he’s gonna fight a snake. Isn’t this great?

[Robert] Here we go.

Ha!

See that snake? See this man?

Watch this.

[rattling]

So, first, one must assume the position of a mongoose!

[growls, hisses]

[crowd laughing]

[imitates rattling]

I’m not… I’m just gonna…

[grunts]

[babbling] Tell me that…

If I could just’ve done the whole thing over and over and over!

If I could just fucking defend… Yeah… Fighting…

[babbling] If I could just…

I…

Aw! [laughing]

[crowd laughing]

Motherfucker!

Who is gonna fight it?

No, I’m not onboard. I’m scared.

I got practice. I’m allergic.

Goddamn it, you fucking pussies!

[kicks sand]

You fucking piece-of-shit, fucking bullshit, fucking pussies!

The night is almost over. I got a 10:00 a.m. call time.

I just want to see a motherfucking snake fight!

Nellie, babe… Don’t “Nellie, babe” me, you six-foot vagina!

[crowd laughing]

I will fight it!

[crowd] No, no, no!

[Jack] Yes!

I’m more man than any of you. Nellie, Nellie.

I ain’t a fucking pussy! Nellie…

[rattling]

Oh! [gasping]

See? You see that?

It’s that fucking easy!

You chickenshit…

[screaming]

Nellie!

[all gasping]

[screaming]

It’s not letting go!

Nellie! Nellie!

Let it go. Let it… Hey! Hey, I got it!

[crowd screaming]

[ballad playing]

Help me! Help me! [screaming]

[Estelle] Jack!

Jack!

[people screaming, shouting]

[ballad continues playing]

[Estelle] Jack!

Jack!

Jack, do something!

Right. Once more into the breach, dear friends!

Once more!

[shouting]

[screaming]

Jacky!

[screams]

[groans]

Help us!

For fuck’s sake.

[rattling]

[Nellie thuds]

[screaming]

[sucking]

[spits]

[sucking]

[spits]

[sucking, spits]

[gargles]

[gasps]

[gags]

[groans, panting]

Welcome to the wonderful world of sound!

I have to do this?

What do you mean? It’s gonna be great!

Just stand there and sing? Exactly.

While it’s raining. Yeah.

And that’s Noah’s Ark?

Uh, I believe so, yeah.

Because it’s raining so much?

To be honest with you, I don’t really know why it’s Noah’s Ark.

Georgie. Come on, come on.

No. No. What? This is…

Norma’s here. Buster Keaton‘s here. George, no. No.

The song’s a hit.

[laughing] You love to sing.

Oh, I hate you. I hate you. Come on.

Just don’t let Olga shoot me. Okay.

[mouthing words]

[director] Cut! Cut!

Musicians, you’re on a break. I wanna work with my actors for a second.

The head bobbing, it’s very mechanical right now.

Think of something that makes it personal to you. Okay?

That’s a little too much, Mary. That’s too personal. Okay?

So just bobbing, all right? Let’s work on that.

Up. Up. Rest of the body doesn’t move.

Up. Up. Up. Up. Up. Up.

Very good, Mary. Up. Up. Up. Up. Up. Up.

Oh, I like this. Isolate the shoulders. What do you think?

Up. Up. Up. Up. Up. Up.

You’re asking me what I think?

Okay. Yeah.

This looks so much better. [laughs]

I think you got those cameras pointed in the wrong direction.

Do the rainbow, remember? Big arms!

That’s what I think. Take this one more time. Everybody ready?

Musicians are ready? And action!

[trumpet flourishes]

Up. Up. Up. Up. Up. Up.

Up. Up.

Bob. Bob. Bob. Bob. Bob. That’s better.

[trumpet flourishes continue]

Good. Good, good, Candace. Very good.

Yeah, it’s coming together. This is much better. Remember that energy.

[end note plays]

Cut! [bell rings]

Good idea.

Manuel Torres.

How have you been?

Uh, well, sir. And you?

Y-You want to talk with Mr. Thalberg?

Were these Sid Palmer shorts your idea?

They’re more like a collaboration between Sidney and me.

Uh-huh. How’d you like to leave MGM, come be sound chief at Kinoscope?

What?

We need Spanish-language pictures. We’re taking new directions.

It’s changing times, Manny. I’m honored, sir, but…

And we need to do something about Nellie LaRoy.

Oh, yeah.

You know her, don’t you?

The Jersey thing doesn’t work anymore.

Today’s audiences find her pornographic. [chuckles]

She’s been hanging around Jim McKay’s casinos like a half-wit.

She owes gambling debts all over town.

And she sounds like a donkey.

I mean…

Anyways… think about it.

[Manny] Gentlemen, here’s the plan.

We turn Nellie LaRoy into a lady.

We change her parts. We fix her voice.

No more drugs. No more gambling.

Elinor St. John writes a story about her amazing transformation.

With the right endorsements, and with Elinor as an ally, we can remake Miss LaRoy into an actress of sophistication.

Like the ladies of MGM.

Next, Sidney Palmer. Today’s white audiences want Negroes in their pictures.

Negro music, Negro voices.

So we bring Sidney to Kinoscope, whatever he costs.

One moment, gentlemen. One moment.

Um, Sidney Palmer, okay? Sidney Palmer.

I was hoping I could introduce the two of you.

Miss LaRoy, meet Mr. Torres.

Mr. Torres, meet Miss LaRoy.

Mr. Torres is gonna be working for us here at Kinoscope.

Hi, Mr. Torres.

Just want you to know that I’m ready to change, and I’ll do whatever you need.

Call me Manny.

[director] Cut!

Beautiful. Bellísimo, bellísimo.

Next time, try softer, okay?

“But why, my darling Pierre? Why?”

Walt! Walt, hey!

Move that microphone 45 degrees, okay?

That one near her, okay?

[phone ringing]

Amigo, no, no, no. Hey… [whistles]… amigo!

It’s not “Manuel,” it’s “Manny.” Manny Torres.

Not Manuel, okay?

[assistant] Phone for you, sir!

Yeah.

[speaking Spanish]

[Manny] Manny Torres.

[Jack] Manuel.

[Jack] Moving up fast. Jack? I’m sorry.

I meant to call you. The reds chill her out.

Blues keep her skinny. Don’t say a word. I’m happy for you.

[Jack] You deserve this. Did you see my screen test yet, Manny?

[Jack] Now go show those fat fucks how it’s done.

[line clicks]

Okay! Okay! [speaking Spanish]

Let’s roll, people! Let’s go! Take two!

“Pierre, who is the fella to whom you are speaking?”

“Who is the fellow…” Fellow.

Fellow. Fuck. Fellow.

Welcome to your new home, Mr. Palmer.

And your car.

A gift from Mr. Wallach.

And that finishes at 5:30, leaving you enough time to make the gala.

And a Hearst invite has come in for Miss LaRoy.

Only question is, what do we do about Fay Zhu?

It won’t help Nellie with the Hearst crowd.

“Listen to me, Catherine. I don’t care if they find us. They could strip me of my rank and it wouldn’t change how I feel.”

Latest voice tests: Conrad Nagel, rich tone.

William Haines, good consonants.

[Manny] You’re messing with Nellie’s career, and we’re trying so hard to get it back on track.

There’s a new sensibility now.

People care about morals.

“I’ve known loss. I’ve known pain. You’re what gives me life.”

Try accenting “you” a little more, darling.

“You are what gives me life.”

Just a suggestion.

Marion Davies stutters a bit. Maybe supporting roles from now on?

[Manny] This sort of thing is no longer acceptable.

“You are what gives me life.” Maybe try it slower.

Ramon Novarro can play guitar, but south-of-the-border accent.

What I’m trying to say is Kinoscope can no longer employ you.

Your image is not helpful, and we don’t need titles anymore.

That’s it.

I’m sorry.

[Thalberg] Jack Conrad has a good voice, is our biggest asset.

Also the most expensive.

[knocks on door]

Yeah?

[Jack] “You are what gives me life.

I love you.”

Then what I’d suggest there would be to…

[phone ringing]

[Jack] Hello? Jack, it’s Irv.

Listen, there’s no good way to say this…

They found George in his home this morning.

Looks like he struck out with a girl he was seeing.

He shot himself.

Jack?

Thank you.

So, what I would suggest there would be to play subtext rather than…

Honey?

Are you okay?

He was the first one to say I have talent.

He saved my life.

Who?

It’s not a low art, you know.

I want you to know that.

What I do means something to millions of people.

My folks didn’t have the money or the education to go to the theater, so they went to the vaudeville houses, and then the nickelodeons.

And you know what? There’s beauty there.

What happens up on that screen means something.

Maybe not to you in your ivory tower.

But for real people on the ground, it means something.

Jack, I-I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Of course you don’t.

Of course you don’t!

A hundred thousand people see you on Broadway, and it’s the smash of the century, right?

Well, here it’s a flop!

A fucking flop!

So do me a favor, darling. Save your subtext recommendations for your pretentious Eugene O’Neill-Henrik Ibsen jerk-offs that only a handful of rich geriatrics give two fucks about, and I’ll do what I do without your help!

Huh? [gasps]

[breathing heavily]

[crying]

Listen, Catherine. I don’t care if they find us.

They could strip me of my rank and it wouldn’t change how I feel.

I’ve known loss. I’ve known pain.

It’s you who gives me life.

I love you.

You think it works?

It’s great.

It’s a winner, Jack.

You think it works?

[sighs]

I wish George could’ve seen it.

[director] Yes.

[knock on door]

[assistant] Mr. Conrad, you’re gonna miss your train.

Christ!

[groans] Ah, fuck.

I’m off to repair my marriage. I’ll see you bastards in a month.

[director] Good luck with that.

[Elinor] Okay, don’t forget.

Your friend Manuel pulled a lot of strings to get you in here.

These people choose who stays and who goes.

So show them that you’re a lady of sophistication and you’ll be back on top.

So, now what did we discuss?

[clears throat] “-ing” not “-in.”

“Isn’t” not “ain’t.” Mm-hmm.

And when in doubt, say somethin’ French.

Perfection!

Also, no drinking, and try not to eat too much.

Billy! Marion!

Oh, Elinor! Hello.

May I please present to you Miss Nellie LaRoy.

How do you do?

Enchantée.

[Hearst] Good evening, Miss LaRoy.

Oh. [chuckles]

Oh. [chuckles]

Nell, I’d like you to also meet Mildred Yates.

Sir Delmer Lunny.

And Jonathan and Harriet Rothschild.

Pleasure. [kisses]

[Jonathan] Gerald, have you heard about the new Ellis Engel picture?

It sounds just awful.

[Gerald] Yes, I’ve spoken to L.B. about it already.

There’ll be no more of that kind of thing, I can assure you.

Here we have a pâté de campagne designed by Krümt with a Takagei bubble.

I hear it’s Strindberg season in New York. Do you like Miss Julie?

Yes, she is lovely and very talented.

[all laughing]

[laughs]

[chattering]

[chuckles]

[chattering continues]

Sidney. Manny.

All right.

Billy, is your new rug really a Klikó?

I got it last spring. One of a kind.

Mr. Palmer.

It is truly an honor to meet you.

Teddy and I saw Cottage Blues last week.

Genius!

Thanks.

Do you play bridge, Miss LaRoy?

[in French] The bread speaks English with the dog young.

[speaking French]

[Elinor responds in French]

[laughter]

[guest] You’re from Mexico, then?

Uh, Spain. Madrid.

Spain. Madrid. Wow.

How did you get into music, Mr. Palmer?

Uh, I taught myself, mostly.

Incredible. Who are your influences?

Uh, Scriabin. Ah.

I like Rachmaninoff.

Do you think George Eliot was better as a novelist or a poet, Nell?

I think he was marvelous, marvelous at both. [chuckles]

Now I do apologize, but I must resign briefly to the powder room.

I shan’t be long. Ta-ta!

…everything you need, you know, right here. It’s got the restaurants and…

Of course, now you can’t gamble in LA. You been to Cal-Neva?

This one guy McKay owns a few joints, but he’s a little scary, so…

One moment, please. Oh, sure.

Jack! Didn’t think you’d get in in time. How was Europe?

Inspiring! Di… And congrats on the new film.

Opens tonight, right? Correct.

Did you know Michelangelo painted the entire Sistine Chapel on his back?

Manny! How’s our girl doing?

Oh, She’s doing great. Perfect. Okay, good.

[Nellie] Manny, I need to go home.

You cannot go home. I can’t do this.

You’re going back out there. I’m having a heart attack.

Elinor and I worked so hard to get you into this.

Manny, I am dying out there. Okay, okay.

They’re a bunch of… They’re awful.

Mildred’s got a fucking rabbit on her shoulders that’s probably still alive.

Hey. The ass-pincher!

They can save your career. They don’t like me!

If they like you… They don’t!

…we get the right director, the right publicity… What about Ruth?

I need Ruth back. Ruth doesn’t fucking cut it anymore!

Listen to me, I’m here for you. It’s you and me.

You could be a star again, Nellie. Again. It’s you and me.

You look beautiful, okay?

I look fucking ridiculous. What’s your name?

Nellie LaRoy. Perfect. Once again.

Nellie LaRoy. In French.

It is French already! [chuckles] Okay, let’s go.

[Nellie] “Roy” means “king,” remember?

Beautiful.

Jack. It’s great to see you.

You, too. Salud.

Are you holding up?

Well, I do miss him.

Uh…

Miss him?

George.

What were you referring to?

Uh… Jack. How was Europe?

Great! And good to be home.

That’s the attitude.

Staying strong.

Where have you been? She’s fine.

And what do you think of the new wave of race films, Mr. Palmer?

I find the studios’ committees for the casting of Negroes inspiring, don’t you?

And he replies, “Do they need an electrician?”

[all laughing]

Do you know any good jokes, Nellie?

Yeah, I…

Nell prefers listening to jokes rather than telling them.

Come on, tell us a joke.

I have a joke.

Harold Lloyd and I were in France…

Hey, how you holding up?

You, too?

Well, I guess the movie isn’t a hit.

So be it.

I’m sure you’ll get another chance.

Why wouldn’t I get another chance?

No, it just… What I mean…

Would someone kindly tell me what the fuck is going on?

He shows up with a mime.

I go, “Harold, my croque monsieur is worth a lot more than a mime!”

[laughter]

Nell, you must have some good ones. Well, I-I… I am not the best joke teller.

[Jonathan] Come on, Nellie. Isn’t being funny what you do?

Yeah, I believe that films like yours are gentle but virile olive branches in these divided times.

That is my cue. I should be going. Please, you must play for us.

[laughing]

[Jonathan] Come on, Nellie. We’ll approve your next picture.

[Delmer] Yes, Nellie, be funny.

[Elinor] You know, I just thought of one.

Two fish are on their honeymoon…

Actually, I got one.

A bear and a rabbit are shittin’ in the woods one day.

And the bear says to the rabbit, “Hey, do ya ever have a problem with the shit stickin’ to your fur?”

And the rabbit finishes shittin’ and he says, “No, I never do. Why?”

And the bear says, “Fan-fuckin’-tastic!”

And he grabs the rabbit behind the ears and…

[gasps]

I can’t believe you just…

Why not?

Why? Haven’t you heard what they say about me?

I’m a degenerate fucking animal.

“Oh, Nellie!” Look at them.

“Who knows what she might do? She’s from Jersey, you know.”

This is what a degenerate fucking animal from Jersey does.

[guests gasping, murmuring]

[moaning]

[gasping, murmuring continues]

That’s what the degenerate fuckin’ animal from Jersey does.

So you know what?

I’m gonna let you all go on fucking your cousins, polishing your guest lists, plying your underaged fuckin’ mistresses with fuckin’ Beaujolais,

you sick fucks!

I’m the animal? What is this shit?

What is this shit?

I’m the sick one! I’m the fuckin’ crazy one!

You people make me fucking sick!

You’re not better than me!

You’re not! You’re not fucking better than me.

I don’t need this shit.

[gasping]

You know what? I’m gonna go home, I’m gonna stick some coke up my pussy, and you all can stick your champagne flutes up your rose-smellin’, candy-tastin’, snow-white fuckin’ assholes!

[guests murmuring]

[stomach gurgling]

[retching]

[guests gasping, clamoring]

[Hearst] My rug! [burps]

You puked on my rug!

[guests gasping, clamoring]

[gagging, coughing]

[guests murmuring]

[Catherine whispering] Please, before it’s too late.

You can’t stay here. They’ll find you.

They’ll find us.

[Jack] Listen, Catherine. I don’t care if they find us.

They could strip me of my rank and it wouldn’t change how I feel.

I’ve known loss. I’ve known pain.

It’s you who gives me life. [snorts]

[snorts] Catherine…

I love you. [audience laughing]

I love you, I love you, I love you.

[laughing continues]

“I love you, I love you!”

[audience member] “I love you!”

[laughing]

[laughing continues]

[Elinor] Jack Conrad.

[chuckles]

What are your thoughts for the future?

Well, my last two movies didn’t work, but I learned a lot from ’em.

There were things I’d taken for granted…

[pen scratching on paper]

that maybe I shouldn’t have.

Well, you’re still MGM’s biggest asset.

You still command the biggest paycheck.

And I’d like to earn it.

I’m still learning this new language.

Is it true that you’ve quit drinking?

Yeah. It was getting in the way.

I’m not gonna let that happen anymore.

There’s a lot of acting talent coming in from the theater now.

Might you go to the stage to gain more experience?

Elinor, I will master the talking film on film.

[pen continues scratching]

Do you miss the silents?

No.

We shouldn’t stand in the way of progress.

[scratching continues]

Okay. Thanks, Jack.

You’re still the kid I met 20 years ago, you know.

You haven’t changed… [chuckles] …a bit.

Thank you, Elinor. Neither have you.

[knock on door]

We’re ready for you on set, Mr. Palmer.

She’s not gonna fuck this up again, is she?

I guarantee you, she’s going to blow you away.

Is she ready? Hurry.

[assistant] I’ll check.

You good with the money? Looks realistic. Yeah. What about the gun?

We’re still having a problem with the firing mechanism.

¡No, carajo! It still sounds like that?

Hi there. It’s Jack calling for Irving.

Jack Conrad.

One o’clock. All right, fine. I’ll call back then. Thanks.

There you are.

We have a serious fucking problem. What?

The band looks mixed. What do you mean?

I mean, the other players are a lot darker than Sid. So?

Manny, do you think I could say a line? No! Get back to the shot!

In your wide, next to them, Sidney looks white.

But he’s Black. They won’t think that in the South.

To them, this’ll look like a mixed band. We won’t be able to book the movie there.

The South is big money. That’s half the revenue lost.

No, that’s not possible. Nellie needs this movie to work.

Forget working, it’s not even worth finishing at that rate.

Wallach’ll just pull the plug.

[upbeat jazz music playing]

[sighs] What do you suggest?

Oh, he did, did he? Okay, then I’ll call back at 4:00. Thanks.

Sidney?

Yeah.

Why? For the lighting.

Just to match the other players.

For the lighting.

Sí.

I know.

But look around.

Your fellow players, if we don’t get the shot, the studio will shut the picture down and they won’t get paid.

You’re an actor now, Sidney.

Actors change their appearance for roles.

It’s normal.

[sighs]

It’s going to be on you, Sidney.

You are risking all these guys’ ability to feed their families over makeup.

Gracias.

We all good?

Left for the day. Huh. Well, here’s what I’m gonna do.

I’m gonna come down there and see for myself.

No, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. Thank you.

I’m sorry, I just can’t have you in here right now.

He left for the day, but I can take a message for you…

[Jack] Thank you.

[director] Cut!

That is a wrap on Sid.

[crew cheering]

Uh, Mr. Torres? We can’t find Miss LaRoy.

Yeah?

She’s gone.

[crew cheering, clapping]

[crew member] Going over to Stage 4!

You’ll need that to come back. It’s okay. I won’t be back.

[typing]

[door opens]

Madame? Let’s chat.

I’m on a deadline, darling.

You know, when I first moved to LA, you know what the signs on all the doors read?

“No actors or dogs allowed.” [chuckles]

Yeah, I changed that.

I helped build this place you call home.

I’ve never had any illusions about us. I’ve never pretended we’re friends.

We’re friendly.

I scratch yours, you scratch mine.

That’s our work.

But this?

This is something else.

[sighs]

What do you want, Jack? I want to know why you wrote it.

No, you want to know why they laughed.

Would you like me to tell you?

Why they laughed.

Sure, Elinor. Why?

There is no why.

It wasn’t your voice. It wasn’t a conspiracy.

And it certainly wasn’t anything I wrote.

There’s nothing you could have done differently.

There’s nothing you can do.

Your time has run out. There is no why. Stop questioning it.

I’m on a dry spell. No.

It’s over.

It’s been over for a while. I’m sorry.

Elinor, you peddle gossip.

You don’t make anything.

You don’t know what it is to put yourself out there.

You’re just a cockroach.

I’ve been counted out before. This isn’t new to me.

Have you ever stopped to think why, when there’s a house fire, the people die and the cockroaches all survive?

Jesus Christ.

What happened was you thought the house needed you.

It doesn’t.

Doesn’t need you any more than it needs the roaches.

And the roaches, knowing this, crawl back into the dark, lay low, and make it through.

See, but you, you held the spotlight.

It’s those of us in the dark, the ones who just watch, who survive.

A house fire.

And there’ll be hundreds more like it, too.

An earthquake could wipe this town off the map and wouldn’t make a difference.

It’s the idea that sticks.

There’ll be a hundred more Jack Conrads.

Hundred more me’s.

Hundred more conversations just like this one, over and over again, until God knows when.

Because it’s bigger than you.

I know it hurts.

No one asks to be left behind.

But in a hundred years, when you and I are both long gone, any time someone threads a frame of yours through a sprocket, you will be alive again.

You see what that means?

One day, every person on every film shot this year will be dead.

And one day, all those films will be pulled from the vaults, and all their ghosts will dine together, and adventure together, go to the jungle, to war together.

A child born in 50 years will stumble across your image flickering on a screen and feel he knows you, like… like a friend, though you breathed your last before he breathed his first.

You’ve been given a gift. Be grateful.

Your time today is through, but you’ll spend eternity with angels and ghosts.

Thank you for that.

[typing]

[insects chirping]

[knocking on door]

[knocking continues]

Manny! I need your help.

I’m in so much trouble and I really need your help.

Calm down and tell me what happened.

I fucked up, Manny. I fucked up, Manny.

And I know you’ve been trying to help me, and I’ve kept fucking up.

Now I really need your help, and I hate to ask…

Calm down.

Cálmate. Okay, yeah, I was in Cal-Neva, and I was playing cards and there was…

This guy, McKay, runs the place and, he’s… like, you don’t fuck with…

How much? He’s…

[speaking Spanish]

It’s a lot. It’s a lot. How much do you owe?

Eighty-five grand.

[speaking Spanish]

They took me… ¿Como? How?

He took me back into a room, Manny, and they said if I don’t have the money by the end of the week, they’re gonna pour acid on my pussy.

[speaking Spanish] And they’re not kidding.

They will fucking kill you. These people are killers.

Pay them, okay? I can’t.

You don’t fuck with these kind of people. You just pay them.

I can’t pay them. What do you mean?

I don’t have the money to pay them. I don’t have…

You’re Nellie LaRoy. Of course you have the money.

No, I don’t. It’s…

It’s gone. [stammering]

My dad’s diner and the…

We don’t own the house.

I don’t have that… I don’t have that money.

[shouting in Spanish]

[sobbing] [continues shouting in Spanish]

…fucking help!

[sobbing] Please be nice to me, Manny.

Please.

[speaking Spanish]

You fucked my life!

I have nowhere else to go. [sniffles]

You’re my only friend.

You’re the only one, Manny!

You’re the only one who’s ever been nice to me.

You’re the only one who’s ever cared.

[speaking Spanish]

I’ve always helped you, and all you’ve done is break my heart!

[sobbing] Please.

They’re gonna kill me.

[no audible dialogue]

[sobbing]

I tried.

Manny, I did everything you said.

I tried. [sniffling]

Don’t go home.

Stay here for a couple of days.

I’m gonna fix it.

Thank you.

I’ll fix it.

[sniffles]

[opera playing on phonograph]

[phone ringing]

[opera continues playing]

[ringing continues]

[Irving] Jack! It’s Irv.

Jack?

Listen, I’ve been trying you for a while. I got some great news.

I got a job for you. Prestige one.

Lead got sick mid-shoot. Quick start, quick wrap.

Need you, Jack.

Jack? Yeah.

Hear what I said? Yeah, I heard.

Okay? So? What do you think?

Yeah. I just have one question.

It’s a piece of shit, isn’t it?

[chuckles] What?

And I’d be bailing you out, wouldn’t I?

No. No. Of course not.

Irv, let’s just call it for what it is. That’s all I ask.

I’ll do your movie. I’ll bail you out.

All I want in return is a little honesty.

Can you do that, Irv?

Can you be honest with me for ten seconds or so?

I’d be bailing you out, wouldn’t I?

Yeah, you’d be bailing me out.

And it’s a piece of shit, isn’t it?

Yeah, it’s a piece of shit.

[chuckles]

Okay, Irv. I’ll see you on set.

[assistant] Mr. Conrad?

Harold, how you doing? I’m doing good, Jack. How about you?

I’m doing okay.

How many movies have we done together now?

This makes 82.

Huh.

Eighty-two. That’s right.

[whistles]

[actor] Beautiful, isn’t she?

The great wide ocean.

You remember your first time at sea?

Kid, I’ll never forget it.

[director] Cut! Fantastic!

Not a dry eye in the house.

Great. For this next take… Yeah.

…I want to see more of that real emotion.

Okay. You know? Really dig into it.

Yeah. Find it out here.

Find it on that horizon. Yeah.

A never-ending horizon that has brought you all the way to this point.

Brought you so far in life. You know?

Jack?

You good to go again? Sure.

[upbeat jazz music playing]

Nellie? Manny!

Manny, I got it all figured out.

Because I know that you’ve been trying to get my career going.

I’ve had an idea. I was thinking I can dance.

If I can dance, I bet I can sing.

‘Cause you can do anything if you set your mind to it.

Nellie, you have to stop this, okay? You really have to stop.

I’m figuring out how to get the money.

Exactly! This is how we make the money back.

I’m gonna tell Wallach that we’re gonna finish the movie, okay?

And first, all this, all this fucking mess that you are doing every fucking day is part of your process.

Manny, it’s gonna be like nothing anyone’s ever seen.

[phone rings]

Hello? Manny, it’s done.

I got the money and I know a guy who will set the meet.

You got it? Okay, but… but you’re going to be there, right?

Don’t worry, I’ll be there the whole time. See you Friday.

[chuckles]

Nellie, we did it, okay?

Fuck Don Wallach! Fuck all of this shit, okay?

Fuck him, Manny! Yes! Fuck it! Fuck it!

[both shout]

[Manny] How did you get the money so fast? I have my ways. Don’t worry.

And it’s all in here? Yes.

How do you know the guy?

I sold him keys a while back. He works for McKay.

So, we give him the bag, he calls McKay, and the threat against Nellie is off.

Okay, okay.

I’m not used to this kind of people.

They’re no worse than movie people.

You good?

Yeah, yeah. Let’s go.

Remember. A monologue in the next picture.

Wilson. Been a while.

Good to see you. Meet Manny.

[snorting, hawking]

Nice to meet you, Manny.

And nice to meet you, sir.

I believe this belongs to you.

You’re a producer?

Um, a studio executive.

Jim heard you were a big producer.

He’s here now. He’d love to buy you guys a drink.

That’s very kind of him, but… Sounds great. Yeah.

Great. Follow me.

Gotta be polite. One drink.

Fuck.

[sniffs]

[ballad playing on record player]

Jim.

This is Manny and The Count.

How do you boys do?

I’m James McKay.

How do you do, sir? Hello.

Sit down.

Thank you.

[The Count] Hey.

[Manny] Hi.

[James] Do you want a drink?

It’s brandy mixed with ether.

Yes. Sure.

Wilson, will you get us some drinks, please?

[snorts, spits]

Sir, I… I just wanted to say how sorry I am that things got out of hand.

Nonsense. You came through.

That’s what counts.

So, you boys are friends with Nellie LaRoy?

Um, yeah.

Mmm.

Too bad what happened to her career, huh?

Such a shame, yeah. It’s sad.

Her new movie will work.

So you’re the movie producer.

Uh, studio executive.

I got some movie ideas myself. You wanna hear them?

Yes.

Please.

[clears throat, inhales sharply]

[chuckles] Okay.

Mmm.

[giggles]

Okay, so,

there’s a 10-year-old kid and he’s a prodigy at all these adult things.

He’s supersmart with words.

He can play the piano and recite Lincoln and all this stuff.

Here’s the twist:

Turns out he’s a 50-year-old midget.

He only looks like he’s a kid. The joke’s on us.

[chuckles]

That’s really good. Wow.

It’s very good. It’s great, yeah.

Very good. I am sorry.

I’m gonna check on the drinks. I don’t know where Wilson went.

[sighs] Stupid…

One drink and we leave. Right after this we leave.

Calm down. I am calm, cabrón.

No, you’re not. You’re very nervous.

I’m not here for drinks and fun, okay? I’m in your debt.

You’re not in my debt. Whose money it is?

The guy makes it by the kilo. It’s not a big deal.

What guy? You never told me how you got it.

Tony. The prop guy.

I thought I told you that. It’s the prop guy’s money?

No, it’s the money that he makes.

What do you mean? Like, uh, his income?

No, it’s his…

It’s from your bank heist picture. It’s movie money.

It’s prop money.

The money in the bag is prop money?

Well, where was I gonna get 85 grand in two days?

We have to go now, pendejo cabrón!

[shushes] Calm.

Um, have I, uh, interrupted something?

[The Count] No, no.

Oh, thank you.

[hawks, spits]

I got more ideas.

You ever heard of Wyatt Earp?

He died a couple of years ago. I met him once.

Little known fact:

The greatest hero of the Wild West couldn’t count.

No? No.

So I was thinking, you make a movie about him, and in it, you make him full-fledged retard.

[gasps] What?

You okay?

What? You’re sweating.

It’s probably the ether. It’s…

Oh.

I thought you were just excited about the idea.

[laughing]

[snorts, spits]

[James] My next idea’s my best:

The world’s most fearless warrior.

I know just the guy to play him. You just build the movie around him.

He is sensational.

He is?

Would you like to meet him?

Sure. Um, I… I can have the studio set…

Oh, no, no, no. I’m going to see him now. He’s at the Blockhouse.

Where is that? It’s just over the hill.

A few minutes’ drive. Wilson and I can take you there and back.

It’s the best party in town. [chuckles]

Mmm.

It’s, uh… It’s very late and we have to go. Oh, no, no, it’s worth it.

I promise you.

I mean, I appreciate it, but we have to go. Trust me.

You’ll never forget it.

[The Count] Um, what’s this?

[James] It’s LA’s last real party.

Wilson, bring that cash.

This town has gotten so repressed.

This is the only place left where you can have any fun these days.

Welcome to the asshole of Los Angeles.

[James whistling]

[drums beating]

[crowd cheering, chanting]

[cheering continues]

He’s two floors down! Follow me!

[blows landing, grunting]

This city used to know how to have a good time. It’s such a drag now.

They still know how to party here, though. [chuckles]

♪ There’s one pet I like to pet And every evening we get set ♪

♪ I stroke it every chance I get It’s my girl’s pussy… ♪

[whipping]

[grunting, moaning]

♪ Seldom plays And never purrs… ♪

One more floor.

♪ But I don’t mind Because it’s hers ♪

♪ My girl’s pussy ♪

[James] This is the kind of thing your industry needs.

[Wilson hawks, spits]

Hollywood has just become so stale. Don’t you agree?

[song playing]

[sighs] Not this floor, either.

Wilson, isn’t he on tonight?

[Wilson] Thought he was.

Sir?

It… It’s very late. Oh, no, no, no, no. I promised you a sight.

You’re getting a sight. Let’s try one more floor.

[song continues playing]

Bear with me, fellas. Wait till you see this guy.

I think we can make millions together!

[Wilson hawks, spits]

[song continues playing]

[song stops]

[growls]

[The Count] Oh, shit!

[laughing]

That was so good!

Oh, come on, boys, it’s just on the other side.

It’s worth it, I promise.

[The Count] Okay.

Oh, yes. This is it.

Yeah.

[James vocalizes]

Yes. I think I can hear him.

Come on.

Oh… [crowd cheering, chanting]

Yes.

[cheering, chanting continue]

I’m so excited for you. You’re gonna love him!

Yes! Yes! He’s the next big thing!

Whoo!

[chanting]

[James] Incredible, isn’t he?

You either are a star or you aren’t. And he is!

Watch what he does. It has to be seen to be believed.

[shushing]

[squeaking]

Keep watching.

[crunching]

[The Count coughs]

[crowd gasps, murmuring]

[crowd cheering]

[laughing] Yes! Whoo!

He’s just made for the movies, isn’t he?

They found him in a forest in Oregon.

He will do anything for cash.

Wilson, quick, give me a 20.

More! Eat another rat!

Give me another one.

It’s fake.

No.

No, come on.

Let… Let me explain… We were gonna make movies together.

Let-Let-Let me explain. Please.

[stammering] No, no, no, no, no!

Hey, no, no, no, no!

[grunts]

[panting]

[groans]

What the fuck?

Back off! Back off!

[gunshots]

[shouting]

[bullets ricocheting]

[grunting]

[song continues playing]

[panting, grunting]

[crowd shouting]

[shouting]

[gunshots]

[engine starts]

Oh, shit! Go! God!

[speaking Spanish]

[panting]

[soft jazz playing]

[Lewis] You have to see Dresden. It’s the most beautiful city in Germany.

[Rebecca] Jack said he was gonna take me to Greece.

[Lewis] Greece?

Isn’t that right, honey? That’s right.

The architecture is amazing. You’ll love it.

Santoríni.

[Rebecca] I hear it’s so beautiful.

Fay! Jack.

[speaks Italian]

Folks, I’d like to introduce you to the wild and wonderful Lady Fay.

This is Rebecca. This is Lewis.

How do you do?

[Rebecca] Hello.

How do you do?

[Jack] What’s your excuse?

Just wandering through?

Mmm. Something like that. Let me get you a drink.

Were you shooting? No.

Just wanted some air.

What’s next?

I’m going to Europe, actually. Are you?

Yeah, Pathé wants me.

That’s great! Pathé’s got really good taste.

Thank you.

Jack’s back!

Way to go, Jack!

[sighs, chuckles]

So how’s your movie? It’s shit.

Another giant swing at mediocrity.

Well, the girl seems nice.

She is.

And she has no idea it’ll end like all the others.

You like her?

No.

You might want to save her.

You okay, sweetie?

It was the most magical place in the world, wasn’t it?

It was.

Another set, another review.

Another romance, another breakup.

I’m tired, Fay.

It’s okay.

[clicks tongue] It’s okay. I’ve been the luckiest bastard in the world.

I had a good run, didn’t I?

Hmm? You sure did.

Yeah. I enjoyed that.

I gotta run, sweetie. Yep.

It was so good to see you, Fay. You’re gonna do great things in Europe.

You were always one of the good ones. Thank you.

Ciao, my love. Ciao.

See you in Venice. See you in Prague.

[Fay chuckles]

I’m gonna go get those cigars.

Hey, you do a great job. What’s the best tip you’ve ever received?

Fifty dollars.

Who gave you that?

You did, Mr. Conrad.

It’s on you now, kid. The future’s yours.

[whistles]

[gun cocks]

[gunshot]

[body falls]

They’re looking for us. Get up. I don’t feel good.

We are going to Mexico, Nellie. Mexico?

Get dressed. We are going now.

I’m not going to Mexico.

Are you crazy? They are going to fucking kill us, okay?

I fucked up. Go hit a piñata if you’re homesick.

Nellie, get dressed and get in the fucking car, now!

Manny, you’re scaring me. I need another hit.

Okay, I feel better.

Oh, hi. Do you have any coke?

[The Count] Yeah, I’ve actually got…

Don’t give her anything, pendejo. Anything!

Fine, I won’t!

Get everything you need. We get gas.

See you in ten minutes, cabrón. Ten minutes.

And some pills, please?

Stop it. Stop messing with the…

Suck a dick, Señor Avocado.

We need a fucking gas station, now. “We need a gas station, now.”

Yeah, we fucking need… “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”

There! There’s gas.

Fuck! ¡Puta madre!

It’s closed. I know it’s closed!

You know what we should do? We should go dancing! Manny! Oh, my…

We could dance up here.

[speaks Spanish]

Manny! Manny, come up here.

Manny! Come on, it’s fun.

No, it’s not fun. Yes, it is.

It’s not fun. We can have fun.

[speaks Spanish]

[both shout]

[tires screech]

Nellie?

Nellie!

Maybe they got dancing here! Come on!

[speaking Spanish]

Nellie.

Nellie!

[people chattering, cheering]

Manny!

Nellie, we have to leave now!

[speaking Spanish] We’re going!

I’m staying, Manny. I’m not moving.

No, no, no, no.

You know what happen if they find us.

Why are you doing this, carajo? Why?

[speaking Spanish] Tell me!

Don’t you know they’re going to kill us?

Wake up!

Manny, I shouldn’t…

I shouldn’t have asked you to help me.

Let me help. I want to help.

We can go to Mexico, Nellie. And we can be happy.

But we have to leave now. Manny. Manny.

It’s the end of the road for me. This is it for me.

Cállate.

It’s not.

I’m at peace with that.

[speaking Spanish]

I’m not mad anymore. Manny…

Nellie, cállate. You go to Mexico without me.

What the fuck I’m gonna do without you? I’m not going anywhere without you!

[sniffles, speaking Spanish]

Manny…

Te amo.

Te amo, Nellie.

[speaking Spanish]

[crying] What have I done?

I don’t think I’m good for you.

I don’t think I’m very good for you.

Nellie, I want to marry you.

I want to make you so happy every day.

Okay, it’s my only job. From now on.

But we have to leave now.

Okay.

I just want to be with you. Okay.

Okay, we’ll…

Okay, we’ll…

We’ll go to Mexico. We’ll go…

We’ll go to the border and we’ll go down south and we’ll get married and we’ll have kids and…

It’ll be you and me, okay?

Okay.

Okay.

[host speaking Spanish]

[crowd cheering, applauding]

Te amo, Nellie.

I love you, Manny.

[upbeat jazz playing]

Hey, you two with the camera! Do you know who I am?

I’m Nellie LaRoy, bitches.

Holy shit, that is Nellie LaRoy. That’s Nellie fucking LaRoy. Come here.

This is my husband-to-be, Manny Torres.

Wait. Sorry?

[laughing] We’re gonna get married.

We’re gonna get married?

[photographer] Are… Are you really gonna be her husband?

Yes. Yeah.

Congratulations! Get a shot. Get it, get it, get it.

[camera whirring]

[engine off]

[Manny] Do you need anything?

You go grab him. I’m good.

Te amo, Nellie.

I love you, Manny.

Ain’t life grand.

[humming faintly]

[knocks on door]

[The Count] Hey.

Hey.

I’m sorry. It was hard to find gas.

Yeah, well, I got everything we need. This is my roommate, Kyle.

Hey.

[Manny] Hi.

You need anything? I’m gonna fill this real quick.

No, gracias. Let’s go.

[door slams open]

[gun hammer clicking]

[Manny panting, whimpering]

[gun clicks]

No. No, no, no, no. No. No, no.

Don’t kill me.

[crying, speaking Spanish]

Please don’t kill me.

I’m nobody. I’m nobody. Que soy mexicano.

I can leave. Please, please.

[mutters in Spanish]

I’m sorry. [sobbing]

I’m sorry.

Get the fuck out of LA.

Disappear.

Nellie. Nellie?

Nellie?

Nellie!

Nellie! Nellie!

Oh, fuck!

[engine starts]

[tires squeal]

[club host] And introducing tonight, a new addition to the Hart Café Band.

Fresh from pictures, Mr. Sidney Palmer on the trumpet.

[audience cheering, applauding]

Hey, Sid. You want to say a few words?

Thank you, Tom. Um, I just would like to say to you how happy I am to be here.

You all are such a beautiful, lovely crowd.

So thank you.

If I can, I’d like to, uh, play something that I used to play back in… back in the days.

I hope you all enjoy it.

[slow jazz playing]

[slow jazz continues playing]

[no audible dialogue]

[song ends]

[car horns honking]

[speaking Spanish] This is it.

What do you think?

That’s where I used to work.

Passes, sir?

We’re just looking. Thank you.

Hola.

Hi.

[speaking Spanish] I used to work here.

A long time ago.

I started here last year.

You like it?

It’s okay.

Yeah?

They make anything good these days?

You don’t go to the movies?

Not much anymore.

I own an audio shop in New York. Radios, that kind of thing.

New York?

It’s her first time in L.A.

Oh yeah?

Nice talking to you.

You too.

[child speaking Spanish] I’m bored.

Really?

[spouse speaking Spanish] So early?

Let’s go.

No, you stay.

I’ll take her to the hotel.

We’ll eat some ice cream.

[Spanish continues]

Adios. Bye.

[horn honking]

Fifty cents.

Thank you.

[Nellie] Tell me why.

[Manny] Why?

[Nellie] Yeah, tell me why.

I don’t know, uh, why.

I just want to be part of something bigger.

To be part of something important, something that lasts, that means something.

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