The King of Comedy
1 EXT: MIDTOWN MANHATTAN STREETS - DAY
Behind the opening credits, we watch a montage of RUPERT
PUPKIN making his daily rounds as a messenger delivering
manila envelopes and packages to various New York offices,
always courteous and polite in his demeanor, PUPKIN is an
attractive-looking young man just past thirty and dressed
in a stylish blue suit, broad tie and wide-collared shirt.
His shoes are neatly polished, his hair carefully groomed.
As the montage continues, we see that he has finished his
deliveries and is walking rapidly towards his destination.
It turns out to be a television theater north of Times
Square whose marquee announces THE JERRY LANGFORD SHOW.
It is dusk and the show is about to break. There is a
very small crowd already positioned at the stage door --
a few young girls, a few curious passers-by who have
stopped to see who will emerge. Three professional
autograph hunters are clustered together:
MAE, a lady in her sixties, wears a red velvet dress, a
lace hat and much too much rouge.
SIDNEY is in his mid-twenties, tall, badly-complexioned,
slicked hair but otherwise neatly dressed. He carries
a brown lunch bag.
CELESTE is an enormously fat woman in her mid-thirties.
She wears a large cape to conceal her obesity.
A middle-aged MAN, dressed in a corduroy suit, emerges
from the backstage door which is guarded by a large,
white-haired POLICEMAN. The non-professionals in the
crowd just peer at the MAN but MAE immediately steps in
front of him with her autograph book raised.
(to the MAN)
Are you somebody?
No, honey, I'm just a working stiff.
The MAN keep walking and MAE returns to her cohorts
just as PUPKIN arrives.
Who did you get?
PUPKIN carefully places himself near the door, a step or
two away from the other professionals.
I got Mr. Raf Vallone outside 21.
(to SIDNEY about PUPKIN)
He'd never tell you anyway, Sidney.
Then I got him again at the
Pierre at four o'clock.
Be a dear, Mae. I don't happen
to have Mr. Vallone.
You know what I want for him.
But I have only six Barbra's left.
You know how difficult she is to
I don't have her even once.
Maybe Rupert would help you.
PUPKIN shoots a hostile glance back at CELESTE.
Would you do that, Rupert? You don't
feel about Barbra the way I do.
I'll give you Mr. Burt Reynolds too.
Look, Sidney, Rupert doesn't do
that sort of thing.
How about it, Rupert? I'll give
you whoever you want.
SIDNEY starts pulling little white cards out of his paper
bag and reading them off.
Rodney Dangerfield ... Richard
Harris ... Liza Minelli ... and
she's not so easy to work with
either ... Louise Lasser!
You're wasting your time.
PUPKIN has been trying to remain apart from the other
three. Finally he turns to SIDNEY.
Look, Sidney. I'm just not
interested. This isn't my
whole life, you know.
What's that supposed to mean --
that it's my whole life, or
Sidney's or Mae's?
It is so my whole life.
Shut up, Mae. What about your
mother? Isn't she part of
It's her whole life too.
The show breaks. The doors swing open and people pour out.
The crowd around the backstage door swells.
(to the crowd)
If you want Jerry's autograph, give
me your piece of paper and I'll
send it backstage.
A number of people in the crowd hand in pieces of paper.
PUPKIN is standing next to a young couple, about college
age. The YOUNG GIRL has just sent in her paper.
(to the GIRL)
What are you going to do with
I don't know. Maybe I'll sell it.
I'll tell you what she's going to
do with it. She's going to pin
it on her bulletin board and
have an orgasm.
The YOUNG GIRL laughs unself-consciously.
LANGFORD's limousine waits directly in front of the stage
door. MAE has engaged the CHAUFFEUR who stands at the
door of the car in conversation.
I don't mean now.
I'll get right out.
The CHAUFFEUR, smiling, shakes his head.
A plain-looking GIRL in a black raincoat and black, floppy
hat stands on the street side of the limousine,
carefully watching MAE and the CHAUFFEUR talk.
But I've never been in one.
We hear a cry as a celebrity emerges from the backstage
door. MAE turns and goes back towards the door.
The POLICEMAN is handing out the autographs. Suddenly
LANGFORD emerges, flanked by three PAGES, husky young men
in their early twenties dressed in theater uniforms.
There is screaming and some yelling of LANGFORD's name.
LANGFORD pays no attention. Smiling nervously, he makes
his way towards the limousine. The CHAUFFEUR stands at
the rear of the car, holding the door. LANGFORD enters
the car and then suddenly springs back. The GIRL in the
black raincoat and black hat has hidden herself in the
back seat of the limousine. The three PAGES, who have
already turned and headed back toward the theater, hear
the commotion and swing around. The GIRL, who we shall
come to know as MARSHA, hides herself in the far end of
the limo, so two of the PAGES go around to the far side
of the car and start pulling her out while the third PAGE
moves into the limo from the street side. She fights
like a wildcat, but the PAGES slowly manage to drag her
out. During the struggle, LANGFORD stands amid the crowd,
a bit shaken. PUPKIN stands next to him, staring at him.
When finally catches LANGFORD's eye, PUPKIN smiles
(to LANGFORD who
How the hell did that girl get in
there? Jesus, they certainly
don't give you very good protection,
LANGFORD says nothing, glancing nervously at PUPKIN.
Look at you here. Who the hell
is watching you? Any one of
these freaks could just walk
right up to you and do whatever
A couple YOUNG GIRLS are pressing against LANGFORD.
Oh, Jerry. How can we get to
talk to you?
Just a minute. This is crazy.
PUPKIN straightens up for action.
(yelling at the crowd)
Okay! Stand back!
PUPKIN wades through the crowd towards the limousine,
pushing SIDNEY and MAE among others out of the way.
LANGFORD follows in the path PUPKIN is clearing.
Didn't you hear me?!? Come on,
people, have a heart.
The PAGES have succeeded in pulling the GIRL out of the
far door of the limo just as PUPKIN and LANGFORD arrive
at the near door. The CHAUFFEUR has been blocked by the
crowd from opening the door so PUPKIN opens it.
Stand back! (To LANGFORD) Go ahead,
LANGFORD slips in quickly. He looks up at PUPKIN who is
holding the door, smiling pleasantly.
Thanks. Thanks very much.
PUPKIN stares at LANGFORD for a moment and then slides
into the limo next to him, closing the door behind him.
2 INT: LIMO - NIGHT
I hate to bother you like this, Jerry,
but could I speak to you for a minute.
I'd like to but ...
I know you're a busy man. I promise not
to take very long, really. But I need
PUPKIN looks down at his hand which has been badly
You don't have a handkerchief, do you?
Jesus, these people will kill you for a
LANGFORD hands him a monogrammed handkerchief, then checks
Thanks. If you have to be somewhere, I
don't mind talking as we drive. You can
drop me off anywhere.
Sorry, but I've got a strict rule never to ...
I put myself on the line for you, Jerry.
Reluctantly, LANGFORD signals with his head to his
CHAUFFEUR to start moving. As the car moves through New
York traffic, PUPKIN and LANGFORD talk.
Thanks, Jerry. I'm grateful for this chance
to talk to you ... I hope I'm not boring you.
I'll let you know.
Really? Fine. I'm Rupert Pupkin, Jerry.
I know that the name itself doesn't mean
very much to you but it means an awful lot
to me, believe me. Maybe you've seen me
outside your show and wondered who I am.
Well, right now, I'm in communications but,
by nature, I'm a stand-up comedian. I know
what you're thinking -- 'oh no. Not another
one.' And I wouldn't take up even one minute
of your time if I wasn't absolutely convinced
of my talent. I'm really good, Jerry,
believe me, I'm dynamite. Now you're probably
wondering if I'm so good why haven't you
caught my act somewhere, right?
Well, up to now, I've been biding my time,
developing my act slowly and carefully so
that when my big break finally comes, I'm
ready -- like you were that night Paar got
sick and you sat in for him. I was there
that night, in the theater. That was the
most important night of my life, until
tonight, of course.
PUPKIN fishes a cigarette case out of his jacket pocket,
flips it open and offers one to LANGFORD.
No thanks. I don't smoke.
PUPKIN returns the pack to his pocket.
Me neither. I just carry them as a
courtesy. How about a cough drop?
No thanks. I don't cough.
I try not to but sometimes, you know
... Am I making any sense?
Well, that night you did Paar, I walked
out of the theater like I was in a dream.
All of a sudden, I knew what I wanted.
I started catching your guest appearances
on Sullivan and taping them and, when you
got your own show, it got to be a kind of
regular thing. I studied how you built
to your one-liners, nice and relaxed like
you were chatting, and how you delivered
the jokes without leaning too much on
them, without saying "here's the punchline,
folks." And I watched the way you played
off dead audiences, how you let those long
silences build until people couldn't
stand it and then the way you got them
off the hook with that slow smile. You
were my college of comedy, Jerry, like
a kind of teacher, a friend. I know it
sounds crazy, but when you watch someone
every night ... But that's all in the
past. What I'm trying to say is this.
I'm ready now. I've finished the course.
And I'm thinking as we sit here talking
"Is this it? Is this that one big break?"
Is it, Jerry?
There is a long pause.
Look ... er ... what was the name?
I'm Rupert, Jerry.
Look, Rupert. I know what you're saying.
But things don't work that way. You can't
just walk onto a network show without any
experience. You've got to start at the
But that's where I am!
You've got to work your way up, learn your
trade in front of live audiences, start
playing the little clubs.
But that can take years, Jerry! Look at
me. I'm already 31 years old! People my
age are way ahead of me. I've got some
catching up to do and I need your help.
What do you say, Jerry? All I'm asking
you to do is listen to my act. That's all.
Is that asking too much?
I get calls from agents every day.
All they want ...
I tried getting an agent. I did, Jerry.
But you know how it is. You can't get an
agent unless you're working and you can't
get work unless you've got an agent ...
or unless you know somebody. And the
only person I know is you, Jerry.
There is a long pause.
Look, why don't you call my office.
Could I?!? Oh, I knew you'd say that,
Jerry. You don't know how many times I've
had this conversation in my head. And this
is the way it always turns out. That's why
I had to sort of invite myself into the car
tonight. I know it's kind of presumptuous
and I really appreciate the time you've
given me. But breaks like this don't just
happen. You have to make your own breaks.
The limousine starts slowing down as it pulls up before
U.N. Plaza. It stops. LANGFORD gets out. PUPKIN follows.
3 EXT: U.N. PLAZA APARTMENTS - NIGHT
LANGFORD turn to PUPKIN, looking to get rid of him as
cleanly and gracefully as possible. LANGFORD extends
his hand. PUPKIN goes to shake it but his hand is wrapped
in the handkerchief. He extends his left hand. LANGFORD
shakes it awkwardly.
Nice meeting you, Rupert. I hope it all
works out for you.
Thanks, Jerry. I don't know how to repay
you. I'm a little short on cash this
evening, but, if you don't mind some good,
hearty food, I'd be honored to take you
Thanks, but some people are waiting for me.
Oh, I understand. Well, then, maybe I could
repay you with a joke.
LANGFORD is starting to walk into the building.
Wait a minute. How's this? The first night
you do your show from the coast, you open
this way. "Good evening, ladies and
gentlemen, it's great to be back here in
Southern California where you can wake up
in the morning and listen to the birds
coughing ... "
(nodding but unsmiling)
Not bad. Maybe.
PUPKIN calls after LANGFORD who heads for the entrance
to his building.
Consider it a gift. Hey, Jerry!
How about lunch? My treat!
(turning back before
he enters the building)
Call my office.
PUPKIN waves with his bandaged hand, notices LANGFORD's
handkerchief and unwraps it.
(to the handkerchief)
The CAMERA MOVES IN for a CLOSE-UP of PUPKIN in a kind of daze.
4 INT: SARDI'S RESTAURANT - DAY
PUPKIN and LANGFORD stand at the edge of the foyer, waiting
for the Maitre d' to seat them. VINCENT, the owner, spots
them and hurries over.
I'm sorry, Mr. Langford. (To PUPKIN,
angrily) How did you get in?
That's alright, Vincent. Mr. Pupkin's a
friend of mine.
Oh, I see.
That's alright. Now if you'd be good enough
to find us a nice table.
PUPKIN pushes a five dollar bill into VINCENT's hand.
Certainly. This way, please.
VINCENT leads PUPKIN and LANGFORD to the "bullpen," a
select spot in a corner of the restaurant.
Here you are. Enjoy your lunch, gentlemen.
Is Eddie here today, Vincent?
I'll send him over.
A WAITER arrives and hands them the menu.
Our specialty today is Rizzofino Dolce Acqua
a la Marinara con Spezi. Very good.
Sounds like a new opera.
Fine. What comes with it?
The three laugh.
Fine. For two.
The WAITER leaves.
You look tired, Jerry.
It shows, does it? It's all these problems
with the show. That and the custody suit.
I was sorry to read about that, Jerry.
Charlene never should have gotten the
kids. If there's anything I can do.
I appreciate it, Rube. Just talking about
it a little with you helps.
Eddie arrives. He is a small, slightly-bald man with
greying hair and a goatee. He wears a foulard under an
open-necked shirt. He carries a long sketch pad. He
immediately sets up a small easel and starts sketching.
Hasn't Eddie already done you?
Never mind. You were saying ...
Well, I've been giving a lot of thought
to your situation, Jerry, ever since I
saw you starting to lose ground in the
ratings. And I think I know what the
problem is. Too many of the same faces.
Sure, people are getting tired of these
people who live off game shows and talk
shows and can't really do anything. They've
seen 'em and heard 'em till they can't
stand it anymore.
You know, maybe you're right, Rube.
I'm sure I am. When a show runs out of
surprises, it loses its audience.
A YOUNG GIRL stands before PUPKIN and LANGFORD. She hands
PUPKIN her autograph book.
What's your name, dear?
To Dolores, who sensed greatness.
Thanks, Mr. Pupkin.
The GIRL leaves.
You see what I mean? What you need on the
show is some unknown quantity, some brilliant
talent making his television debut. Imagine
the suspense. Who is this young guy? How
will he do with the eyes of all America on
him? Something like that has got to help.
And that's where you come in.
Why not? Believe me, Jerry, I'd give you
the credit you deserve and I'll stick with
you. Anytime you need me, I'll be there,
doing a few minutes at Guild scale.
I'd be grateful, Rube. I really would.
All finished, Mr. Langford.
EDDIE turns the caricature so PUPKIN and LANGFORD can see
it. It's a picture of the two of them, facing each other
Oh, Jerry, you sneaky ...
Looks good, Eddie.
The WAITER arrives with a bottle of champagne.
Compliments of Mr. Sardi.
EDDIE hangs the picture of LANGFORD and PUPKIN on the wall
behind them among the hundreds of other caricatures --
from Bankhead to Sid Caesar to Bette Davis. The CAMERA
PANS over these. We hear the champagne pop.
How does your afternoon look?
What have you got in mind?
Well, we've still got time to catch
the Cubs and the Mets out at Shea.
Why not? But first, a toast. To you,
Rube and your success.
5 EXT: U.N. PLAZA - NIGHT
PUPKIN takes LANGFORD's handkerchief and folds it
reverentially, tucking it carefully into his breast pocket.
He claps his hands together a few times for joy and
dashes into the street to hail a cab.
6 INT: LANGFORD'S APARTMENT
LANGFORD enters his apartment. It is tasteful, modern,
spacious and empty. A floodlight shines on a single
setting at the end of a long dinner table. He walks over
to a large aquarium and sprinkles some food for the fish.
(to the fish)
Say hello to Jerry.
On a shelf above the aquarium stand three pictures, one of
two boys, roughly eight and eleven, flanked by a shot of
each boy alone. LANGFORD walks to the end of the table
where a covered dish and a New York Post await him. He
lifts the covered dish which reveals a large, cold salmon.
(to the fish)
Say hello to Jerry.
LANGFORD begins poking at the fish with his fork. The
phone rings. He answers it.
It's Marsha, Jerry. Did you get my note?
I left it on the back seat. Did you get it?
I dropped it there before they pulled me
out. Those guys hurt me, Jerry. (pause)
Who gave you this number?
Don't be angry with me, Jerry. I didn't
know what else to do; I've been trying
you every five minutes, I miss you,
baby ... Jerry?
LANGFORD hangs up the phone and then takes it off the receiver.
Say goodbye to Jerry.
He shakes his head wearily, returns to his dinner and turns
to the inside pages of the New York Post.
7 EXT: LEXINGTON AVENUE IN THE SIXTIES - NIGHT
A cab pulls up in front of an all-night florist shop.
PUPKIN dashes out of the cab and into the florist's.
The cab waits.
8 EXT: LEXINGTON AVENUE IN THE SIXTIES - NIGHT
PUPKIN dashes out of the florist's clutching a single red
rose. He hops back into the cab which starts moving.
9 EXT: A STREET OFF BROADWAY - NIGHT
The cab pulls up in front of Gil's Steaks and Chops, a
restaurant of little distinction that has a few checkered
tableclothed tables in the rear and a long bar at the
front. PUPKIN stares through the window of the bar at
RITA, the bargirl, an attractive, somewhat shopworn blonde
in her late twenties. PUPKIN enters.
10 INT: BAR-RESTAURANT
PUPKIN goes to the near end of the sparsely-populated bar.
RITA comes over. PUPKIN smiles knowingly.
A beer please, Miss. Something imported.
RITA serves him a Heineken's. She stares at him, searching
How have you been, Rita?
She stares again.
You're not Rupert Pupkin!
PUPKIN smiles broadly.
How the hell did you find me?
Sally Gardner, I met her after a matinee.
Aren't you glad to see me?
Sure, sure. How is old Sally?
The same, I guess. You know, two kids,
a nice husband, living in Clifton.
A lot of the kids in our class have
What are you doing here?
I just thought I'd say hello. Here,
I brought you a little something.
(recognizing his style)
Oh, yeah, Mr. Romance.
Don't forget to put in an aspirin.
It lasts longer.
RITA fills a glass of water and puts in the rose.
Nothing's gonna keep it alive in this place.
How have you been, dear, sweet Rita?
I don't have an aspirin.
Maybe a Rolaids would work.
PUPKIN pulls out a pack of Rolaids and hands one to RITA
who smiles vaguely and drops it into the glass.
Well, what are you up to these days,
Didn't you know you'd see me again?
You still going to the movies?
You're looking as beautiful as ever.
Oh, yeah. I was a real knockout.
I thought so.
Well, here I am. Local cheerleader
I voted for you for Most Beautiful.
I didn't have the nerve to tell you then,
but I guess it's alright now.
Well, nothing terrible's gonna happen,
if that's what you mean.
There is an awkward pause. PUPKIN stares admiringly at
Well, how are things with you, Rupert?
Great! Everything's starting to break.
Is that right?
Yeah. As a matter of fact, that's why
I'm here. I've known about this place
for a long time. I just didn't want
to make my move until I had something
to offer you. Everything's a question
RITA stares at PUPKIN as he rattles on.
What's the matter?
RITA shakes her head in disbelief and chuckles.
Jesus Christ, Rupert Pupkin!
The two of us are often confused. He's
the one with the famous father.
PUPKIN waits for a laugh. RITA just keeps shaking her
head. PUPKIN looks around.
You like this place?
Why, you got something better?
What are you doing tonight?
RITA starts laughing.
What's so funny?
You call me up all junior and senior year.
Night after night after night, right? And
every time I'm wondering 'when is this guy
going to stop talking and ask me out?'
Well, now I know the answer. August
twelfth, nineteen seventy-six. It only
took you ten, eleven years to work up to it.
If I had asked you out? Would you
RITA starts laughing again.
Because I thought you were a jerk!
You see! I was right! But that guy isn't
me anymore. I look at my picture in the
yearbook and I don't even recognize myself.
I'm not the same guy, Rita.
A bull-necked MAN in his early forties enters. He waves
a brief hello to RITA as he walks by. RITA smiles and
the MAN takes a seat at the far end of the bar.
Excuse me a minute, honey.
I'm not honey! I'm Rupert.
RITA goes to the far end of the bar and serves the MAN a
beer. They chat briefly as PUPKIN watches uneasily.
Finally PUPKIN downs his beer and raises his glass.
The MAN gets RITA's attention for PUPKIN. RITA returns
to PUPKIN and serves him another beer.
I'm in the mood to celebrate tonight.
Why don't we go to this nice restaurant
I know, talk over and times, get to
know each other all over again.
Well, tomorrow night I thought we'd
go out again, talk some more, get to
know each other even better.
How much what?
How much do we have to get to know
I don't understand.
How much do we have to get to know each
other before we start talking about
I'm not talking about any job.
Then what's this big offer you were
You'll see. Right now I'm asking you
for a date. How about it?
I'm sorry, Rupert. But I'm busy.
But this is the biggest night of my life.
I've already got a date.
The MAN at the end of the bar raises his glass.
RITA goes to the far end of the bar. She pours him another
beer and settles against the bar, resuming her chat with
him. PUPKIN looks for a moment and downs his beer. He
raises his glass.
RITA returns to him.
Is that your date?
None of your business.
What do you want to go out with him for?
He's a good friend of mine.
Tell him you're busy.
What's so important about tonight?
Everything! You don't understand.
No. I don't. It's been really nice
seeing you, Rupert. Thanks for dropping
in. But I've got some work to do.
RITA leaves PUPKIN and returns to the far end of the bar
where she once again resumes talking with the MAN. PUPKIN
sits for a moment, gets up slowly and heads for the john.
11 INT: THE JOHN - NIGHT
He enters the john and goes to the farthest of the three
urinals. A moment later, the MAN enters. He goes to the
nearest of the three urinals. The two men stare at the
wall before them but the obvious tension between them
renders them both incapable of relieving themselves.
PUPKIN glances over at the MAN's face, then immediately
turns back to the wall as the MAN turns to look at him.
The MAN glances quickly at PUPKIN and then returns to
staring at the wall. PUPKIN sneaks a furtive glance at
the MAN's penis. The MAN sneaks a furtive glance at
12 INT: THE BAR - NIGHT
PUPKIN emerges from the john, followed a moment later by
the MAN. They resume their seats at each end of the bar.
A third MAN has come in and is seated midway between PUPKIN
and the MAN.
RITA walks over reluctantly.
Listen to me for a second.
I have work to do, Rupert.
Just listen. I'm at the start of
something really big. I don't want
to talk about it here but it's going
to happen soon and it's going to be
great -- for both of us.
So see that guy some other night.
RITA turns to go.
But I haven't finished!
RITA returns to the MAN and pours him another beer. PUPKIN
sits for a few moments, then downs his beer quickly. Again,
he raises his glass.
The MAN leans over the bar and tells RITA something. She
opens a bottle of beer and hands it to the MAN who slides
it down the bar towards PUPKIN. As the beer reaches the
middle of the bar, the THIRD MAN seated midway between
PUPKIN and the MAN raises his beer glass to take a sip just
as the sliding beer bottle passes under his hand. The
bottle stops right in front of PUPKIN who takes it and
slides it back with equal force. At this moment, the THIRD
MAN in the middle has finished his sip and has just placed
the THIRD MAN's glass on the counter. The beer bottle
collides with the THIRD MAN's glass, creating a mess. RITA
glares at PUPKIN as does the THIRD MAN. PUPKIN shrugs an
apology and RITA cleans up the mess.
(to the THIRD MAN)
I'll get you another one.
As RITA cleans up the mess and pours a fresh beer, the MAN
walks down the bar towards PUPKIN. He leans over him and
puts a supposedly friendly paw on his shoulder. PUPKIN
glances distastefully at the MAN's hand on him.
Look, friend. I'm trying to have a
nice civilized conversation with the
young lady. Be a good little lad,
huh, and give us a break.
PUPKIN looks up at the MAN who pats him on the back in a
gesture of fraudulent friendship and menace. PUPKIN burps.
With an effort, the MAN controls his temper and returns to
his seat at the end of the bar. PUPKIN instantly raises
The MAN advances towards PUPKIN with another bottle of
beer. PUPKIN watches passively as the MAN pours half the
bottle into PUPKIN's breast pocket and slams the half-empty
bottle on the counter. The MAN walks down to the end of
the counter where a smiling RITA is waiting.
PUPKIN again gulps his beer down. RITA and the MAN stare
at PUPKIN expecting him to raise his glass and call for
another beer. PUPKIN just sits there. After a few
moments, RITA and the MAN resume their conversation, but
they keep glancing over at PUPKIN, expecting him to
interrupt them with a call for beer at any moment. PUPKIN
continues to sit there. Just as RITA and the MAN have
settled back into their conversation, PUPKIN falls like a
stone from the barstool onto the floor. He lies
motionless. RITA and the MAN look at PUPKIN for a moment
while the handful of other patrons glance at him and return
to their drinks. RITA leaves the bar and goes to the rear
of the restaurant, disappearing into the kitchen. As she
does, the MAN walks over to where PUPKIN is lying inert
and prods him cruelly with his foot.
C'mon, schmuck, wake up so I can
kick your ass outta here.
The MAN turns to the kitchen to see if RITA is returning.
As he does, PUPKIN carefully opens one eye, grabs a free
chair from a nearby cocktail table, rises and bangs the MAN
smartly over the head. The MAN falls, out cold. PUPKIN
straightens up quickly as the other patrons look on with
interest. PUPKIN brushes off his suit, which is blue, just
like the MAN's, and stands above the MAN just as the MAN
stood above him, his back to kitchen. RITA emerges from
the kitchen with the owner, MR. NICHOLS and a large black
He was making trouble one minute
and the next he was on the floor.
RITA automatically reaches out as she talks for what she
thinks is the MAN's arm. Instead, PUPKIN turns around
smiling, leaving her too startled to speak. NICHOLS and
the COOK lift the MAN to his feet.
Okay, buddy, here we go.
NICHOLS and the COOK lead the MAN, who is still groggy, out
of the bar as RITA continues to stare at PUPKIN with a
mixture of curiosity and amusement.
Okay, Tarzan. Where do we eat tonight?
13 INT: CHINESE RESTAURANT ON UPPER WEST SIDE - NIGHT
We are in the kitchen watching two dishes being chopped,
shredded and boiled in deep fat. The activity is frantic.
WE FOLLOW the two dishes as a WAITER carries them from the
kitchen to a booth where PUPKIN and RITA are talking. It
is a painfully plain restaurant, shaped in a rectangle,
with booths lining either side and a row of little tables
in between. At the back is the kitchen and two phone
booths, facing each other. An old Chinese WOMAN mans the
cash register by the door. The WAITER sets the dishes down
before RITA and PUPKIN and clears an enormous plate of
spare rib bones from RITA's place. RITA hands the WAITER
her empty cocktail glass. RITA and PUPKIN are facing one
Another one, Chan.
The WAITER nods and leaves.
So all this time you've been thinking
about me, huh?
That's right, Rita.
What kinds of things were you thinking?
PUPKIN drops his eyes shyly. RITA starts laughing.
Oh, ho! Those kinds of things! Shame
on you, Rupert.
Rita, I assure you there was ...
Rupert Pupkin is an unclean person!
Come on, Rita. People will hear.
(in a whisper)
Rupert Pupkin is an unclean person. Oh,
come on, Rupert. Relax. Have a little fun.
WAITER arrives with RITA's drink and chopsticks and a beer
This is a very important evening to me,
Did you know your nose wiggled when
Yeah. Just the tip. Like a rabbit.
(pause) Hey, are we gonna eat or
what? I'm starving.
PUPKIN serves RITA.
It always looks like they put worms
in this stuff.
Well, I guess it won't kill me.
This is supposed to be the finest
Cantonese cuisine in the city.
Yeah? Then what happened to the
PUPKIN drops his eyes.
Oh, don't worry about it. This is
fine. (She takes a long drink) I'm
having a good time. So you've been
devoted to me, huh?
I used to see you at the Garden
Oh, the Follies. That was the right
name for 'em. How did you know which
one was me? We all looked like chickens.
What I mean is, we all looked like the
same chicken. I thought it was gonna be
Rita Keane in the Ice Follies and I
wind up looking like Henny Penny.
RITA chuckles to herself.
You just didn't get the breaks.
Breaks, bullshit! My parents didn't
have the money for the right coach.
But what difference does it make?
She starts laughing to herself.
I remember once we were down in
Atlanta and the ice machine broke
down. We did three hours of slush.
Everyone was falling on their faces
and hopping up with their arms open
for a bow like the whole thing was
planned. And the people ate it up.
I liked the show.
Yeah? The Follies? You really must
have been carrying the torch. What
did you think when I got married?
You knew I got married?
I knew it wouldn't last.
You think I should have married you,
Peter Drysdale! Really, Rita!
If he'd only been hit by a train.
He was worth a helluva lot more dead
than alive, I can tell you that.
RITA raises her glass to the WAITER who is standing nearby,
talking with another WAITER. As she does, a nice-looking
young MAN sitting in the middle aisle raises his glass of
beer to her and drinks it, as a kind of toast. RITA
smiles briefly and her eyes return to PUPKIN. The YOUNG
MAN is seated behind PUPKIN, facing RITA. The WAITER comes
over and collects the glass. Throughout the rest of the
scene, a subtle flirtation continues between RITA and the
Are you seeing anyone?
RITA starts for a moment, thinking PUPKIN has caught her
looking at the YOUNG MAN.
What do you mean?
I want to know about the competition,
Well, tomorrow night, I've got a date
with Joe Namath -- you know Joe. And
Thursday --- let's see --
I'm serious, Rita.
I'm serious, Rita. (In her own voice)
Sure I see people. I'm not a nun, Rupert.
I see a lot of people.
You mean am I "going steady"? Rupert,
I'm thirty-one years old!
What about that guy tonight?
What am I supposed to do, huh? Sit
home watching TV? He's just some guy.
He's got his own aluminum siding
business. He comes into the city
sometimes, that's all.
You don't go out with him for his
Oh, horrors! Look, Rupert, what do
you think they pay me in that dump?
Ninety-five bucks. And you don't get
the world's greatest tippers in there
either. Somebody has to take care of
That's what I want to talk to you
The WAITER arrives with RITA's drink.
Who's your favorite movie star?
You are, Rupert. Especially your nose.
Just tell me.
Is this some kind of game? Are you
going to tell me something about my
You'll see. Give me his name.
I can't think of anybody.
You've got to have one, Rita. Everybody
Okay. Okay. Let's see. (pause)
PUPKIN slowly pulls out a leather-bound book from his
inside jacket pocket.
Oh, Rupert! Are we going to exchange
PUPKIN expertly flips to a middle page in the book and,
keeping the book open, his finger pointing under a name,
he turns the book to RITA.
That's her name.
Her name! She signed this herself,
especially for me.
RITA starts flipping through the book, curious about the
other names. She isn't paying any attention to what PUPKIN
She wasn't a great actress but she had
a real gift for comedy. She died
tragically, you know, alone, like so
many of the world's most beautiful
women. I'm going to see that doesn't
happen to you, Rita.
Who's this one?
PUPKIN checks the book.
Oh yeah, the guy with no clothes.
No kidding. How about this?
Never heard of her.
(pointing to other names)
And that's Woody Allen and there's
Ernie Kovacs -- he's dead -- and that
one's Lauren Bacall.
You don't really know any of these
Take a look at this.
PUPKIN flips to one of the back pages and shows a name to
I can't make it out.
This is really weird handwriting!
Exasperated, PUPKIN follows the name in question with his
That's Robert Redford.
No! It's ... it's Rupert Pupkin
PUPKIN tears out the page and hands it to her shyly. RITA
just stares at it and back at PUPKIN.
Don't lose it. It's going to be worth
something in a couple of weeks.
RITA start laughing.
That's what I've been trying to tell
you. Things are really breaking for
me. I'm ticketed for stardom.
RITA laughs harder, despite efforts to be serious.
Only a couple of hours ago, I was
talking to Jerry Langford, the Jerry
Langford. Stop it, Rita!
RITA pulls herself together for a moment.
We were talking about my doing my act
on his show.
(suppressing a smile)
Get that guy you knew from Clifton out
of your head right now. You're looking
at Rupert Pupkin, Rita. Rupert Pupkin,
the new King of Comedy.
RITA starts laughing hysterically, in spite of herself.
(getting a grip on herself)
Why not me, Rita? A guy can always
get what he wants if he's willing to
pay the price. All it takes is a
little talent and sacrifice and the
right break. If you've got a friend
in the right place, that's all it
takes. And that's exactly what I
have going for me right now. After
all, crazier things have happened.
RITA listens silently for a moment, then begins to giggle.
As PUPKIN resumes speaking, we CUT between RITA and the
YOUNG MAN. Their flirtation picks up steam. The YOUNG MAN
raises his eyebrows as if to ask, "Are you interested in
me?" She smiles. All the while, PUPKIN rattles on.
You just don't realize what a shot on
the Langford Show can mean. That's
coast to coast, national TV, a bigger
audience than the greatest comedians
used to play to in a lifetime. A shot
like that means a free ticket on the
comedy circuit -- Flip Wilson one week,
Cosby the next, then Sonny and Cher or
Carol Burnett. And you've always got
those other talk shows to fall back on
-- Carson, Griffin. And all that leads
straight in one direction, Rita --
Hollywood! That's when we really start
living. How does this sound to you --
a beach house in Malibu, right on the
ocean. You'll get a beautiful tan,
believe me. And we'd keep a suite at
the Sherry. That's the only place to
stay when you're big. We could get
something on a top floor and look down
on all our old friends in Clifton and
just laugh. How does that sound to you?
It sounds wonderful, Rupert, and I
really hope you get what you want.
But it's getting late and I'm a working
girl. You know what I mean?
The telephone at the back of the restaurant starts ringing.
A WAITER in the background moves slowly to answer it.
You going to spend the rest of your
life in that place? Is that what you
really want, talking about nothing with
nothings? I thought you wanted something
a little better than that and that's what
I'm offering. Every King needs a Queen,
Rita. I want you to be mine. What do
You really want to help me out? You
see this. (She points to her lower
back molar) A hundred seventy-five
bucks. If you could spare fifty, say,
until next Monday, that would keep
three people really happy -- me, my
landlord and my dentist.
During RITA's speech, the WAITER has been working his way
from the phone booth towards the front of the restaurant.
Telephone for you, Miss.
Me? Nobody knows I'm here. You didn't
tell anybody, did you?
What the hell's going on?
CAMERA FOLLOWS RITA, who walks to the back of the
restaurant and picks up the dangling receiver in one of
the two facing booths, the other of which is occupied.
14 INT: THE PHONE BOOTH - NIGHT
Who is this?
Who do you think it is? I've been
staring at you all evening.
Where are you?
The YOUNG MAN taps forcefully with his index finger on the
glass door of his booth. RITA, hearing the noise, turns
around and finds herself staring at the YOUNG MAN. She
15 INT: THE RESTAURANT - NIGHT
PUPKIN at the table looking over the check. He gets out a
ten dollar bill. RITA emerges from the booth in nervous
(with repressed gaiety)
You know who that was -- the bar. I
have to go back to work.
How did they know you were here?
(gathering her things)
I guess I must have told them. They
need someone right away.
You don't even care, do you?
Oh, no. I do. Really!
It's not the bar, Rita. Don't tell
me it's the bar.
Don't be angry. It has nothing to
do with you. I had a nice dinner,
really. It was great seeing you
PUPKIN stare at her icily.
Come on. Let's see a smile.
Why don't we finish the evening up
at the bar together? End the evening
where it began?
After what happened there?
Well, I could at least drop you off!
(hurriedly making up her face)
That's okay. Really. I can manage.
Why don't you just go to a movie or
something? Don't let me spoil your
But that wouldn't be right.
RITA gets up and stands before PUPKIN.
Look, Rupert. It's been a lot of fun,
really. I'll see you sometime, huh?
RITA starts moving towards the door.
Come on, Rupert. I'm in a hurry.
RITA marches out with PUPKIN trailing behind. He throws
the check and the ten dollar bill at the CASHIER.
16 EXT. THE STREET - NIGHT
CAMERA FOLLOWS PUPKIN as he streaks out the door and jumps
into the adjacent doorway, immediately peering down the
street. He spies the YOUNG MAN and RITA walking about
three quarters of a block down and follows them, keeping
out of sight. They turn occasionally to see if he's
around, then stop turning. They go around the corner and
disappear into a large apartment building. PUPKIN rushes
after them, positioning himself across from the building.
He searches the windows for some clue as to where they
have gone. Finally a set of lights go on on the fourth
floor and a MAN's shadow is seen closing two sets of
17 INT: THE APARTMENT BUILDING FOYER - NIGHT
PUPKIN enters the building and finds himself in a small
entranceway. The door to the lobby is locked. Next to
the door, on the wall, are listed the tenants, their
apartment numbers and a button next to each name. There is
an intercom speaker. There are eight apartments listed on
the fourth floor, running from 4A to 4H. PUPKIN looks them
over, takes a deep breath and pushes 4A.
18 INT: YOUNG MAN'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
It is an extremely well-furnished studio apartment with all
the requirements of a contemporary bachelor pad -- an
imitation bearskin rug, nice bookshelves including an
elaborate stereo system, recessed lighting, including a
soft spotlight on the Queen-sized bed with its pseudo-satin
cover. The YOUNG MAN and RITA stand in the middle of the
room. RITA looks about uneasily. No intercom buzzer sounds.
Welcome to the pleasure dome.
You don't kid around, do you?
I do alright. What's your libation?
Your potion. Your drink.
Bourbon and soda. Make it light.
The YOUNG MAN goes to his chic little bar and starts fixing
RITA a strong bourbon and soda. He also fixes himself a
strong scotch and water. As he works, they talk.
You from the South?
That's what Southern people drink.
Lots of bourbon.
What do people from Jersey drink?
I make it a point to study things
like that. It's important to know
people's backgrounds, their tastes,
their culture. It gives you a little
The YOUNG MAN turns from the bar and hands RITA her drink.
I'm Chet. Whom do I have the
pleasure of serving?
Pleased to meat you, Mary. (He lifts
his glass) To our evening.
19 INT: THE ENTRANCEWAY - NIGHT
PUPKIN stands before the intercom.
Rita Keane. I want to talk to her.
That's right. Oh, never mind. I
must have the wrong apartment.
There's no Rita here.
I know. I know. I'm sorry to bother
You must have the wrong apartment.
PUPKIN pushes 4B.
20 INT: YOUNG MAN'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
RITA is seated on the couch. The YOUNG MAN is putting a
record on the phonograph. Once again, the intercom doesn't
sound. PUPKIN has drawn another blank.
Leisure is America's fastest growing
industry. Did you know that? Think
about it. Short work weeks, more
vacation. People need something to
do with all that time and that's where
I come in. Leisure Villages, Inc.
We buy land an hour or so outside
your metropolitan centers. We set
up the bungalows, dig some lakes, lay
out a golf course, you know, fix the
whole place up so it's usable. Then
young, personable guys like me show
the people around. It the guy seems
tight, we point out the investment
factor. If he's a swinger, well,
the bungalows are very private. If
he's a sports nut, we talk up skiing
and fishing and tennis.
The phonograph starts playing Burt Bachrach.
What's your work, Mary?
The YOUNG MAN walks back to her and stands over her.
Me. I fly for National.
What's that smell?
Sandalwood incense. It seemed very
21 INT: THE ENTRANCEWAY - NIGHT
PUPKIN yells into the intercom.
I said I'm sorry!
We hear the intercom at the other end click off. PUPKIN
pauses a moment and pushes 4C.
22 INT: YOUNG MAN'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
RITA and the YOUNG MAN are seated on the couch. Still no
buzzer. As the YOUNG MAN talks, RITA is staring at a
woman's shoe lying underneath a small table that holds a
Did you know that you have remarkable
Yeah? You know what? I feel like
going to a movie.
Sure. Why not? It's only twenty of
ten. We can make a ten o'clock show.
The YOUNG MAN takes her hands and looks deep into her eyes.
Why don't we make our own movie?
No. I don't think so.
Don't be so uptight. Give it a chance.
I want to go to the movies, that's all.
We can go to the movies later.
RITA pulls her hands away.
Let's stop playing games, okay.
I'm not a kid.
You have something against pleasure?
I'm just not interested in being
tonight's ritual sacrifice, okay?
Shall I freshen up your drink?
RITA shakes her head.
What exactly did you think we were
going to do up here?
23 INT: THE ENTRANCEWAY - NIGHT
PUPKIN pushes 4D and waits.
24 INT: YOUNG MAN'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
The YOUNG MAN is practically sitting on RITA's lap. He
has RITA backed up against the end of the couch.
Look, if you've got sexual problems
let's talk about them. It helps
clear the air.
There's nothing wrong with me.
Then it's me?
I don't even know you.
Then find out. Sex is a great way
of breaking down barriers.
I don't think so.
I'm sure this could lead to something
The YOUNG MAN kisses RITA roughly.
Passive resistance, huh?
Let's just write this thing off as
a big mistake. What do you say?
What's wrong with me?
Nothing. I just want to go home.
I can see I'm not turning you on.
You noticed that, huh?
Come on. What's wrong with me?
You really want to know?
How can I put it? Well, it's like
you've got your fly open and your
tongue hanging out.
25 INT: THE ENTRANCEWAY - NIGHT
PUPKIN, growing more frantic, pushes 4E.
26 INT: YOUNG' MAN'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
The YOUNG MAN is all over RITA. No buzzer sounds.
I'm really a very sensitive person.
Come on. Get offa me.
Sometimes I write poetry.
RITA pulls herself away.
So you wanna play hard to get, huh?
The YOUNG MAN grabs her.
27 INT: THE ENTRANCEWAY - NIGHT
PUPKIN, even more desperate, pushes 4F.
OLD LADY'S VOICE
¿ Que es, por favor?
28 INT: YOUNG MAN'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
The YOUNG MAN is strong-arming RITA who is beginning to
Come on. Let's talk this over.
I admire you very much. I respect
(her eyes beginning to fill
You're hurting me.
I'm only doing what you want.
(pleading, on the verge
29 INT: THE ENTRANCEWAY - NIGHT
PUPKIN, frantic, pushes 4G.
30 INT: THE YOUNG MAN'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
The YOUNG MAN has RITA securely pinned and is starting to
undo her blouse. She is desperate.
Afterwards, you'll thank me.
The buzzer sounds with great force. It is one, long,
protracted blast that breaks the YOUNG MAN's concentration.
RITA takes advantage of the distraction to grab her bag
and rush out as the buzzer continues to sound.
31 INT: THE ENTRANCEWAY - NIGHT
PUPKIN still has his finger on 4G as RITA rushes out the
EXIT door next to the elevator and comes rushing towards
him. She is numb and emotionally exhausted.
What do you want?
RITA keeps walking out of the entranceway and onto the
street. PUPKIN is at her side.
Don't be angry with me. I was worried
about you, that's all.
Just go home and leave me alone.
PUPKIN take off his jacket and puts if around RITA's
Here. You'll need this. It's getting
I'm so bad. I'm such a dummy.
Don't say that, Rita. Everyone
does crazy things.
Not all the time.
I'll get us a cab.
PUPKIN rushes into the street and hails a cab.
32 EXT: WEST 56th STREET BETWEEN EIGHTH AND NINTH AVENUES -
WE SEE the taxi pull up in front of one of those middle-
class tenements -- a fairly well-preserved six-story
building with a fire escape running up the front. PUPKIN
helps RITA out of the taxi. A dime bounces at PUPKIN's
CAB DRIVER'S VOICE
Stuff it, big spender!
PUPKIN pays no attention. He walks RITA to her front
Well, I guess you're entitled to come
up for coffee.
That's okay, Rita. You're tired and
I know I'm not always the easiest guy
to be with.
There is a pause.
What do you want, Rupert?
You don't understand anything, do you?
I love you, Rita. I want to change
your life ... if you'll only give me a
RITA just shakes her head sadly.
Look, what if I arranged it so you
could meet Jerry? You'd have to
believe me if you heard it from him.
There's no ...
I'll arrange that, Rita. We'll all
go out to dinner some night or maybe
out to his place, on a weekend. You'll
see. The trouble with you is you've
got no faith. Now go to bed and get a
good rest and I'll see you in a couple
PUPKIN gives RITA a very gentle, sweet kiss on the
Now run along in.
RITA just stares at him.
RITA turns slowly and goes in. She looks back. PUPKIN is
33 EXT: MADISON AVENUE AND 48th STREET - DAY
PUPKIN carries a large manila folder into 424 Madison. As
usual, he is impeccably dressed.
34 INT: OFFICES OF KOERNER-LIBERMAN TRAVEL - DAY
It is a large corner office, broken up by glass dividers.
A RECEPTIONIST sits at a desk facing the door. PUPKIN enters.
PUPKIN hands the RECEPTIONIST the package.
I need somebody to sign. You can sign
anything you want -- Cary Grant, Art
Carney, I don't care.
The RECEPTIONIST signs.
Would you mind very much if I used
your phone? It's local.
Don't be, long. Dial nine.
PUPKIN takes out a little piece of paper from his suit
pocket and dials a number.
May I speak to Jerry Langford, please?
Thanks ... Jerry Langford, please.
Rupert Pupkin ... Jerry knows. I'm
calling at his request ... I see.
That's alright. I'll call him again.
That's not Jerry Langford, the ...
That's right. Thanks for your phone.
35 EXT: TIMES SQUARE - DAY
PUPKIN approaches Times Square phone booth. He rests a
few folders on a trash basket just outside the booth. He
enters the booth and dials.
Jerry Langford, please ... May I speak
to Jerry Langford, please ... Rupert
Pupkin, I called earlier ... I see.
How long do you expect that'll last?
Oh, fine. I'm at (PUPKIN checks the
number on the phone) CH 4-1482 ... I'll
be here for another half hour, forty-
five minutes. Please be sure he gets
my message. Thanks.
PUPKIN hangs up.
36 EXT: TIMES SQUARE - DAY
A SHOT of the clock on the Allied Chemical Building. It
reads 10:10. A nearby record store starts blasting music
into the street through a loudspeaker. The music serves
as background for a montage in which we CUT BETWEEN the
clock, which moves in bites towards 11:30 to Broadway as
it looks to PUPKIN in the booth -- that cavalcade of
hustlers, whores, housewives, kids, weirdos and working
people; and SHOTS of various people waiting to use the
phone -- their impatience, anger, disgust. Each time one
of them arrives, PUPKIN pretends to thumb through the phone
book and dial a number. WE WATCH him chatting with
animation until the waiting party leaves. Then WE SEE him
push the coin return to retrieve his dime. Finally, PUPKIN
takes a last look at the clock. WE SEE that it reads
11:30. He leaves the booth and goes to the trash basket.
His packages have been swiped.
37 EXT: AN UPPER BROADWAY HIGH-RISE OFFICE BUILDING - DAY
WE SEE PUPKIN enter. He is watched by a plain girl of
about twenty in a black raincoat and a floppy black hat
whom we recognize as MARSHA.
38 INT: A CORRIDOR IN THE HIGH-RISE OFFICE BUILDING - DAY
PUPKIN emerges from the elevator and walks down the
corridor looking for the door the Jerry Langford Show
offices. He finally finds it and enters.
39 INT: THE RECEPTION AREA OF THE JERRY LANGFORD SHOW
OFFICES - DAY
A bored, plump, middle-aged RECEPTIONIST sits behind a
large desk that holds a phone receiver connected to a
small switchboard. PUPKIN presents himself.
Mr. Langford, please.
Pupkin. Rupert Pupkin.
The RECEPTIONIST puts a call through. Wide-eyed, PUPKIN
observes the blow-ups of Langford talking with various
40 INT: A TELEVISION STUDIO - DAY
LANGFORD is seated at his desk on stage and PUPKIN is his
guest. WE SEE television cameras and in the background,
the control room.
You know the secret of dieting, Jerry?
Grapefruit. It's good for you. It's
filling. And it's low in calories.
(to the camera)
Take note of that, you ladies.
As a matter of fact, yesterday I went
to the outdoor market near where I
live and I bought twenty grapefruit.
The grocer looked at me and said,
"What are you gonna do with all those?"
So I bent over and told him (in a
confidential tone) "I'm gonna take 'em
back to Florida and set 'em free!"
LANGFORD and the AUDIENCE laugh heartily.
41 INT: THE RECEPTION AREA -- DAY
(holding the phone and
talking to PUPKIN)
I'm sorry, Mr. Pupkin, but Mr. Langford's
secretary has no record of any appointment.
Mr. Langford's secretary has no
record of any appointment.
Well, technically speaking, I don't
actually have an appointment. Jerry
asked me to call him today and when
I couldn't get through, I thought ...
As PUPKIN talks, a VISITOR has entered and stands behind
him waiting for the RECEPTIONIST's attention.
I see. (Into the phone) He says Mr.
Langford asked him to call. (To
PUPKIN) Mr. Langford's secretary wants
to know what this is in reference to.
The RECEPTIONIST glances past PUPKIN to the VISITOR
Would you mind talking to her yourself?
The RECEPTIONIST hands the phone to PUPKIN and occupies
herself with the VISITOR.
Hello? ... Jerry and I discussed
my being on the show last night and
he told me to call ... No. I don't
PUPKIN hands the phone back to the RECEPTIONIST.
I'm supposed to wait.
The RECEPTIONIST listens to the phone for a moment and then
hangs up. The VISITOR has just disappeared into the back
offices. PUPKIN stands there, smiling politely at the
RECEPTIONIST who returns a professional smile.
Who was that gentleman? (PUPKIN
indicates with a glance to the
entrance to the back offices that
he is referring to the VISITOR)
PUPKIN draws a complete blank but wants to appear
Oh, I see. Mr. Gangemi.
He takes care of our air conditioning.
CATHY LONG emerges from the back offices. She is a tall,
modishly-dressed, attractive woman in her early thirties.
Uh ... Mr. Pupkin?
I'm Cathy Long.
I'm Mr. Pupkin.
Can I help you?
I'm sorry, but you are?
I'm Bert Thomas' assistant.
He's our executive producer.
Oh, yes. I'm sure he is. But, you
see, I've already talked directly
with Jerry about my being on the show
and he told me to get in touch with
him. I'm just here to follow up on
What do you do, Mr. Pupkin?
Fine. Where are you working?
Well, right now I'm developing new
I see. Well, as soon as you start
performing again, let us know where
you are and I'll send my assistant
down to check you out.
Sure. Sure. But that's not necessary,
Miss Long. Jerry and I already went
over all this.
Does Jerry know your work?
Yes. I don't think he does.
You don't happen to have a tape or a
demo that we might listen to?
Oh, sure. I've got lots of tapes.
That's no problem.
Good. Why don't you just send one
to us and I assure you we'll listen
to it promptly.
Great. I'll do that. I can see
that'd be a lot easier for Jerry.
Thanks a lot, Miss Long.
Don't mention it, Mr. Pupkin. Now,
if you'd excuse me ...
Sure. Sure. Thanks again.
CATHY LONG leaves. PUPKIN, left standing there, smiles at
the RECEPTIONIST who returns another professional smile.
(to the RECEPTIONIST)
42 EXT: THE UPPER-BROADWAY HIGH-RISE OFFICE BUILDING - DAY
PUPKIN comes out of the building elated. He is immediately
confronted by MARSHA. PUPKIN continues to walk as MARSHA
skips beside him.
I've got to speak to you for a minute.
Yeah. I know.
Look. Did Jerry say anything about
me last night?
I'm really in a hurry, Marsha ...
Was he angry? ... In the car last night,
I saw you. Did he talk about me?
I thought that was you. That was
What did he say?
We didn't talk about you.
You know Jerry?
MARSHA thrusts an envelope into PUPKIN's hands.
Give him this for me.
Why don't you ...
Because I can't! Please. I need
your help. You'll be my friend forever.
Come on. I'll buy you something.
What do you want?
She takes a great messy bunch of bills out of her raincoat
pockets and jams them into PUPKIN's hands.
I don't want this.
Take it. I can get all I want.
PUPKIN shrugs and pockets the money.
Okay. I'll try.
Don't try. Do it. Remember. We
just made a deal.
PUPKIN stares at the envelope.
And don't open it. It's private.
How soon can you get it to him?
I don't know. Couple a days.
MARSHA turns and walks in the direction from which they
came. CAMERA FOLLOWS PUPKIN who walks on for a block or
so, then opens the envelope. It contains a set of
apartment keys, a scrap of hand-knitted woolen cloth and a
note in lipstick that reads: "I've made you a sweater,
honey. Come try it on. I miss you. Love, M. 74 East
83rd Street, Apartment 2B!" He takes out the money MARSHA
gave him. There are wads of tens, twenties and fifties
with a sprinkling of fives and ones.
44 EXT: A TIMES SQUARE HOTEL - DAY
The hotel is just one step up from a flophouse. WE SEE
45 INT: PUPKIN'S ROOM - DAY
PUPKIN enters. WE SEE that it is a small room, furnished
by the hotel in the plainest way. Nicely-done home-made
collages of show business figures decorate the drab green
walls. The room is neat and clean. PUPKIN goes directly
to a plain table which holds two tape recorders -- one a
small cassette the other a large table tape recorder. He
picks up the microphone of the larger one and speaks into
Testing. Testing. Testing.
In the following montage, we hear in the background the
replay of his "testing, testing testing" and various
other noises -- a bit of his voice taped, a burst of
laughter, the squeal of a tape recorder sent fast-forward,
a sudden burst of applause, a scrap of theme music. At the
same time, the CAMERA PANS about the room. We look
at the collages which include all the obvious show business
figures, with a heavy emphasis on comedians from Chaplin
and Keaton to Sid Caesar and Woody Allen. The collages
also include such varied figures as Jimmy Carter, Julia
Childs, Tom Seaver, David Brinkley, Muhammad Ali, Clifford
Irving, Walter Cronkite and Mark Spitz. There is a special
Kennedy section -- John F. and Bobby framed in black,
Jackie in mourning and a picture of Teddy. There is also a
trio of assassins -- Sirhan, Oswald and James Earl Ray.
There is also a talk show collage with a photo of Langford
in the center like a sun surrounded by Snyder, Walters,
Carson and Griffin. One bookshelf holds a veritable
library of comedy -- joke books, biographies of comedians,
treasuries of American humor. Another shelf holds scores
of tapes in their own little boxes, each one neatly marked,
i.e., "LANGFORD MONOLOGUES: 7/5/72 to 9/9/72." "MISC.
MONOLOGUES 6/13/68 to 8/1/69."
PUPKIN sitting before the tape recorder lost in thought.
Finally, he starts the larger recorder and lifts the mike.
First, Miss Long. Thanks very much
for your help at the office and for
passing this along to Jerry. I
appreciate it more than you know.
PUPKIN stops the tape recorder and thinks again for a few
beats. He then starts the large recorder.
Now, Jerry. Before I begin, I just
want to thank you for listening to
this material and for the opportunity
that you've given me. You know, lots
of people think that guys like you,
you know, people who have made it,
lose their feeling for struggling
young talent such as myself. But
now I know from experience that those
people are just cynics, embittered
by their own failure. I know, Jerry,
that you're as human as the rest of us,
if not more so. (pause) Oh well, I
guess there's no point going on about
it. You know how I feel. So let's get
on with the show. The best of Rupert
Pupkin! I've sketched out this little
introduction in order to save you a
little time. So close your eyes and
imagine it's exactly six o'clock.
You're standing in the wings and we
hear Rick Ross and the Orchestra strike
up your theme song.
PUPKIN pushes a button on the cassette and we hear the
theme song of the Jerry Langford Show, followed by the
voice of BERT CANTER, the announcer.
BERT CANTER'S VOICE
And now, direct from New York, it's
the Jerry Langford Show! Tonight,
with Jerry's special guest ...
PUPKIN deftly shuts off the cassette and substitutes his
own voice for that of CANTER's. The large tape recorder
... the comedy find of the year making
his television debut, Rupert Pupkin, the
King of Comedy!
PUPKIN rapidly races the cassette tape forward, then pushes
down the "play" button. We hear a burst of thundering
applause. PUPKIN lets the applause run for a while and
then shuts it off. The large recorder keeps rolling.
Now you come on, Jerry, and do your
monologue. Then, when the time comes,
this is how I see you introducing me.
You'll say something like this.
"Ladies and Gentlemen we're going to
do something a little bit different
tonight. It isn't often that you can
call someone a sure thing in the
entertainment business. After all,
the verdict is always in your hands.
But I think after you've met my next
guest, that you'll agree with me that
he's destined for greatness. So,
now, will you please give your warmest
welcome to the newest King of Comedy,
PUPKIN pushes the cassette and we hear another enormous
burst of applause. PUPKIN lets it run, listening intently.
He stands up and faces a wall of his room, still holding
the microphone. WE SEE that the wall is covered by a huge
blow-up of an audience laughing and applauding.
45 INT: THE LANGFORD TELEVISION STUDIO - NIGHT
WE SEE a real audience laughing and applauding.
PUPKIN strides triumphantly onto the stage, nodding to
acknowledge the applause. He stops center stage as the
television cameras maneuver about him.
A SHOT of the "APPLAUSE" sign flashing, then stopping.
Still, the applause goes on.
PUPKIN raises his hands to quiet the audience. After a few
moments the applause dies down, except for a pair of hands
in the center of the orchestra. PUPKIN peers out to see
who is still applauding.
RITA, in the middle of the audience, applauds
PUPKIN on stage. PUPKIN gives RITA a special smile and
Will somebody tell that lovely lady
that the applause sign is off.
The audience laughs.
46 INT: PUPKIN'S ROOM - DAY
PUPKIN stands facing the "audience" still holding the mike.
That's a possible introduction, Jerry.
Now let's move on to my act.
47 INT: THE RECEPTION AREA OF THE LANGFORD SHOW - DAY
PUPKIN is pacing. He is wearing another suit, this one a
broad-lapelled-grey. He is freshly shaved, is hair neatly
combed, his shoes carrying a bright shine. He clutches a
small flat box, neatly wrapped with the words 'FOR JERRY
LANGFORD" written clearly across the top in large print.
CATHY LONG emerges from one of the back corridors into the
(suddenly a bit shy)
I didn't want to take any chances
with this ... uh ... Miss Long, so I
... uh ... thought I'd just bring it
He hands CATHY LONG the package as though it contained
We talked about this this morning,
did we, Mr. ... ?
Pupkin. Rupert Pupkin.
Oh, yes. It's been some day. (pause)
Well, I certainly appreciate your
bringing this over, Mr. Pupkin, and
we'll listen to it as soon as possible.
Fine. Er ... you don't have any idea
how soon that might be?
Well, you can try checking with us
tomorrow. We might know something
by then. Otherwise, it'll have to
What if I just sort of waited around
here today, just in case? I'll stay
out of the way.
You'd just be wasting your time,
Mr. Pupkin. We won't know anything
until tomorrow at the earliest.
Oh, I wouldn't consider it a waste of
time at all. I'd be glad to do it.
Look, why don't you try us tomorrow.
Tomorrow? ... Right. I'll do that.
Thanks a lot, Miss Long. And thank
CATHY LONG smiles at PUPKIN and goes, leaving PUPKIN
staring at a picture of LANGFORD on the wall. WE FIX on
LANGFORD a moment and PULL BACK to see LANGFORD in what
PUPKIN would imagine his office to be.
48 INT: AN OFFICE - DAY
A large, corner office furnished in royal red, with high
ceilings and a huge desk. Potted palms and hydrangeas rest
on a marble floor. LANGFORD is moving about restlessly,
clutching PUPKIN's tape in one hand and waving it about.
PUPKIN is seated on a comfortable couch.
Dynamite! This is dynamite!
You think so, Jerry?
Look, I've been at this for fifteen
years, Rupert, and I haven't come up
with anything like this -- not me,
not any of my writers.
(smiling with obvious
Well, I'm glad you like it, Jerry.
Tell me something, Rube. (pause)
How do you do it? I'm not asking
to use the material myself. I just
want to know how you (LANGFORD waves
his arms in a gesture of frustration)
how you do it.
Well, I don't know if I can explain
Come on. Try, Rube.
Well, it just sort of comes. I think
about my life, see, mainly about the
worst parts, all the awful things, and
I just try to see them in a funny light.
Is that what you do? The worst parts,
and then you look at them in a funny
light? Is that what you do?
More or less. It's hard to describe
how its happens.
But that's just it, Rube. It doesn't
happen for me. Why do you think the
show is in so much trouble? By the
time I've done my monologue, everyone
has switched to Carson. Maybe if you
did a little writing ... ?
Sure, Jerry, I'd do anything I could
to help out.
You would? Great. Why don't you
come out to my place this weekend
and we'll hash it out. I'm having
a few of my friends but we should be
able to get a little work in.
Would you mind if I brought someone?
A girl, Rube?
A very special girl, Jerry.
I'd love to meet her.
49 THE HIGH-RISE OFFICE BUILDING ON UPPER BROADWAY - DAY
PUPKIN emerges, lost in thought. Suddenly he notices
MARSHA waiting nearby. She doesn't see PUPKIN. He sneaks
50 EXT: U.N. PLAZA - DAY
It is a bright morning. LANGFORD, attempting to camouflage
himself by wearing a cap over his eyes and his trench coat
collar turned up, his eyes hidden behind dark glasses,
walks out of the building. A DOORMAN is standing by the
That's alright, thanks.
WE FOLLOW LANGFORD as he walks. Some people don't notice.
Others stare but leave him alone, a few commenting to their
companions and pointing at him. A CAB DRIVER pulls
Hey, Jerry. My brother can sing
and juggle at the same time. How
about puttin' him on your show?
LANGFORD keeps walking.
How about it, Jerry?
Sorry, I'm off duty.
51 EXT. A MANHATTAN STREET - DAY
LANGFORD stands at the corner, next to a middle-aged
LANGFORD pulls his cap a little more tightly around his
You know something. (She giggles)
I undress in front of you every night
and Larry here doesn't mind at all.
I can't get anything started with her
until you're off the air. Your show
is ruining my sex life, Jerry.
Well then, you'll just have to put
on a better show than I do.
52 EXT: BROADWAY, A FEW BLOCKS SOUTH OF LANGFORD'S OFFICES -
WE WATCH LANGFORD continue to walk, feeling what it is to
be a celebrity out in public. After a few beats, we
53 EXT: BROADWAY - DAY
WE SEE MARSHA trailing LANGFORD. LANGFORD notices her and
starts walking quickly. MARSHA walks quickly. LANGFORD
starts jogging. MARSHA starts jogging. Finally, LANGFORD
breaks into a sprint. MARSHA runs after him. LANGFORD
disappears into his office building. MARSHA arrives
several seconds later.
Jerry! God damnit!
Just as MARSHA turns around, PUPKIN, unaware of her, walks
cheerfully into the building.
54 INT: RECEPTION AREA OF JERRY LANGFORD SHOW OFFICES - DAY
PUPKIN enters. The same middle-aged, plump RECEPTIONIST
is seated behind the desk.
Yes, sir? (recognizing him) Oh, hi.
Hi. How are you?
Can I help you?
I'd like to see Jerry, please.
You are ... ?
Just a minute.
The RECEPTIONIST dials a number.
Mr. Pupkin is here ... That's right
... (to PUPKIN) She'll be with you
in a minute.
But I wanted to see Jerry.
Mr. Langford's not in. Miss Long
will take care of you.
PUPKIN paces for a few beats. He smiles at the
RECEPTIONIST. A beat later, CATHY LONG comes out,
carrying the tape in its box.
How are you today?
Fine, Mr. Pupkin. Thank you for
your tape. We listened to it with
great interest. And, frankly, Mr. Pupkin,
we saw a lot of good things in what
you're doing. We feel you have good
potential. Very good potential.
That's why I'll be honest with you,
Mr. Pupkin ...
We just don't think you're ready yet.
Well, we just don't feel right now
that you're right for Jerry.
Right for Jerry. Sure.
Some of the material ... some of the
one-liners, for instance ...
... were not very strong.
You didn't care for some of the jokes,
is that it?
Good. Good. I can take care of
that right way. Thanks. Just tell
me the ones you think should go.
That would be a big help. (to the
RECEPTIONIST) This is great. (to
CATHY LONG) Which ones?
Well, it's not just that, Mr. Pupkin.
You see, Jerry likes to panel his
guests, you know, chat with them
And frankly, we just don't feel you've
got very much to talk about right now.
But I've got my whole life to talk
Which is interesting to you, I'm sure
and to your wife ... and to a few
friends. But we feel that you should
keep developing your act. Test it in
some live situations. There are a
number of clubs in the city you can
try. And after a reasonable period,
get in touch with us again and we'll
be glad to send someone down to check
out your progress.
PUPKIN stares at her for a few moments as the tension grows.
May I ask you a question, Miss Long?
Are you speaking for Jerry?
Let's put it this way, Mr. Pupkin.
Mr. Langford has complete faith in
I'm sorry to have to say this, Miss
Long, and I certainly don't want you
to take it personally, but I have to
tell you that I don't ... I don't
have faith in your judgment.
Well, I'm sorry you feel that way,
Mr. Pupkin. But I'm afraid there's
nothing that can be done about that.
No ... No ... I'm afraid I'll have
to disagree with you again.
(with strained politeness)
That's your privilege, Mr. Pupkin.
Now, if you'll excuse me, please, I
have some things to do. I'm sorry
the news isn't better.
CATHY LONG turns to go.
CATHY LONG turns back.
When are you expecting Jerry in?
He won't be in until very late this
That's fine. Thank you.
CATHY LONG stares at PUPKIN for a moment, glances at the
RECEPTIONIST and then goes. PUPKIN takes a seat in the
reception area. He smiles once more at the RECEPTIONIST.
The RECEPTIONIST drops her eyes. A few beats go by. CATHY
LONG passes by the entranceway and glances at PUPKIN.
PUPKIN continues sitting there.
Is there anyone else you would
like to see?
That's alright. I'm happy just
A few beats pass in silence.
Well, would you mind waiting outside,
please, Mr. Pupkin? This is a reception
area, not a waiting room.
PUPKIN remains seated. A few more moments pass. Several
OFFICE PERSONNEL pass by the entranceway and glance at
PUPKIN. After a few more beats, a large, plainly-dressed
MAN in his mid-fifties emerges from the back offices. He
goes over to PUPKIN, who stands.
Mr. Pupkin? I'm Raymond Wirtz, in
charge of security for the Langford
WIRTZ puts his arm on PUPKIN's shoulder and, as the
following dialogue unfolds leads him out the door, down
the corridor and into the elevator.
Now I think you understand that we
have certain rules here that are
essential to the smooth functioning
of our operation.
And that without these rules, we really
wouldn't be able to function at our
best. You follow my point?
Now one of these rules is that only
authorized personnel and those having
official business with our organization
are permitted on our premises. And
that's why I'm asking you, Mr. Pupkin,
to cooperate with us.
They have reached the elevator and WIRTZ has pushed the
You want me to leave the building.
That's right. It's nothing personal,
Mr. Pupkin. Just doing my job.
The elevator arrives. WIRTZ signals with his head that
PUPKIN should enter. PUPKIN gets in.
Have a pleasant day.
55 EXT: STREET OUTSIDE THE LANGFORD BUILDING - DAY
PUPKIN comes out and takes up a position outside the door,
preparing to wait for LANGFORD. MARSHA sees him and comes
over to him.
Well, did you give it to him?
(out of a daze)
Did you get my letter to him?
He's not in there.
Look, if you don't want to give it
him, okay. I'll get somebody
else. But don't try to con me.
I told you I'd try and I will. I'm
going to wait for him right here.
Give me the envelope, huh?
Sure, but ...
I saw him go in myself!
But they said he wasn't in.
Just give me the envelope.
When did he go in?
Ten minutes ago! That's when.
Look, I saw him my ...
And he hasn't come out?
I've been standing right here. Now
how about it?
PUPKIN turns and goes back into the building. MARSHA yells
I'm staying right here!
56 INT: RECEPTION AREA OF THE JERRY LANGFORD OFFICES
PUPKIN enters briskly and goes up to the RECEPTIONIST.
Tell Jerry Langford I'm here, please.
I'm sorry, sir. Mr. Langford's not in.
I happen to know he is. So would you
please tell him I'm here.
I'm sorry. He's not in.
You're putting your job on the line,
The RECEPTIONIST starts making a call inside. PUPKIN
glances at her and walks right in to the inner corridors.
He starts peering into the open doors of the offices that
line the corridor. The whole place is like a gigantic
maze. OFFICE PERSONNEL pass by him, taking no notice of
him. He continues wandering around desperately, completely
lost. A few beat later, he spots WIRTZ leading a pair of
SECURITY GUARDS. PUPKIN keeps peering into offices quickly
as he flees. The GUARDS and WIRTZ finally catch up to
PUPKIN at the steno pool and, after a brief chase around
the pool, they catch PUPKIN and subdue him. They start
dragging him out past the eyes of the OFFICE PERSONNEL.
(calling as he is dragged)
Jerry! Jerry! (to WIRTZ) You're
going the have a hell of a lot of
explaining to do! (calling) Jerry!
You had your warning, Mr. Krupkin.
Jerry! Help me. Jerry!
A CLOSE-UP of PUPKIN as he is dragged out.
57 EXT: LANGFORD BUILDING LOBBY AND EXIT - DAY
WE WATCH the SECURITY GUARDS and WIRTZ pitch PUPKIN out
into the street.
If we see your face again, Mr. Pupkin,
we'll call the police.
Start looking for a new job!
MARSHA comes straight up to PUPKIN who is brushing himself
off. His eyes are glazed and distant.
Does he have it?
Don't worry. I'll get it to him.
There is a pause.
This weekend. He asked me to go out
there, to his house.
58 THE BAR-RESTAURANT WHERE RITA WORKS - DAY
PUPKIN enters the bar-restaurant. Through the window WE
SEE him talking to RITA. He is voluble, animated. She
looks skeptical, with a wry smile on her face. Finally WE
WATCH him extract an answer from her. She shrugs, smiles
and says yes. He comes walking out the door, his hounded
expression softened by a smile.
59 INT: THE FITTING AREA OF A MEN'S STORE - DAY
WE WATCH PUPKIN getting fitted in a new suit, attended by
a SALESMAN and a TAILOR.
60 INT: LUGGAGE SHOP - DAY
WE WATCH PUPKIN buy a suitcase.
61 INT: CARTIER'S JEWELERS - DAY
WE WATCH PUPKIN perusing the beautiful diamond, sapphire,
and emerald rings and we take a few moments to PAN OVER
these beautiful jewels as he sees them. Finally, he picks
out a splendid ring with a single, middle-sized sapphire
and hands a surprised SALESLADY the money in cash.
62 INT: SUBURBAN TRAIN - DAY
PUPKIN and RITA are seated side by side. Since it is
Saturday morning, the train is sparsely populated. A
CONDUCTOR has just finished taking PUPKIN's tickets. RITA
is edgy. PUPKIN is strangely calm and a little remote.
He is wearing his new suit.
What are we going to do?
Look, I told you, I've got some work
to discuss with him. That's all.
But what about me?
You're with me.
That's fine, but while you two are
talking, what am I going to do?
You can chat with the other guests.
I'm sure they'll be thrilled hearing
about the wonderful world of draft beer.
(pause) Let's tell 'em I'm a model,
If they ask what I do, let's just say
I model. You don't mind pretending
just a little, do you?
If it make you feel better.
There is a pause.
This is a gas! Too bad nobody'll
believe it. (pause) After you guys
are done working, what happens? Are
we going out someplace, or what?
I'm sure Jerry has something arranged.
There is another pause.
What do these people do for fun?
Do they party or do freaky things
or just get drunk or ... I mean,
What do they do?
I guess they just sit around and talk
and enjoy each other's company, like
Talk?!? What can you talk about
for three or four hours?!
What do you mean? They've got plenty
to talk about. They do things. All
kinds of interesting things happen
to them and then they talk about them.
What do you think Jerry's show is all
Yeah, a cocktail party with no drinks.
That's what all those shows are. At
least they help you get to sleep.
There is a pause.
Boy, this is going to be some great
weekend. I thought we were gonna
have some fun.
Just take it easy, Rita. Everything's
going to be fine.
WE MOVE IN for a CLOSE-UP of PUPKIN who is fading out.
63 EXT: A NEO-CLASSICAL MANSION
It is a large white house with colonial columns set in the
middle of a palatial estate whose rolling lawns are
punctuated with fine old trees. We circle around to the
back where LANGFORD, a handful of his FRIENDS (which can be
familiar television celebrities) and PUPKIN and RITA are
just finishing a lavish lunch on the patio. A pair of
SERVANTS are clearing the table and serving the coffee and
desert as the scene unfolds. As we arrive, we hear a loud
burst of laughter. PUPKIN is regaling the COMPANY with
Oh, you have no idea how bad it's
gotten in New York. Now the muggers
are so efficient that, each time
they jump you, they take your name
and address and put you on a mailing
list. (the COMPANY chuckles) And
once you're on the list, you're in
real trouble, like this friend of
mine who was mugged thirty-two times
on his way home from work. (a little
laughter from the COMPANY)
A SERVANT places the desert, a little, elegant tart, in
front of PUPKIN and RITA.
The SERVANT smiles. As PUPKIN continues his story, he
glances occasionally at RITA who has begun to nibble at her
tart. PUPKIN also glances conspiratorially at LANGFORD
who smiles back.
So what my friend does is get himself
a dog, one of those huge German
Shepherds. One night, he's walking
the dog in Central Park when he hears
this voice behind him. (in a German
accent) Okay, Harry, drop your
vallet and keep your hantz over your
head or I bite your little fanny off.
The COMPANY breaks up.
Looks like you've found yourself a
(looking at PUPKIN)
He's the one who found himself
RITA looks up, smiles and blushes. The rest of the COMPANY
smiles benignly and grows attentive as RITA returns to
eating her tart. Suddenly she bites down on something
hard. She fishes it out of her mouth and looks at it. The
COMPANY giggles. It is the ring PUPKIN purchased at
Cartier's. The COMPANY applauds lightly and laughs.
LANGFORD lifts his wine glass.
To Rita and Rupert -- a short engagement
and a long, happy marriage.
The COMPANY drinks with murmurs of "Hear! Hear!" RITA
and PUPKIN beam. RITA looks lovingly at PUPKIN.
A SECOND GUEST
Have you set a date?
(looking pointedly at LANGFORD)
A THIRD GUEST
I hope we're all invited.
64 INT: THE LANGFORD TELEVISION STUDIO
The theater is packed. World Series bunting hangs from the
balcony and the front of the stage. We hear RICK ROSS and
the ORCHESTRA strike up Mendelssohn's Wedding March. Down
one aisle walks RITA, accompanied by the MAN whom PUPKIN
hit over the head at the bar. Down the other aisle marches
PUPKIN, accompanied by LANGFORD. The AUDIENCE cheers
wildly. The two COUPLES walk to the stage where a white-
haired OFFICIAL awaits them. BERT CANTER stands at his
side. PUPKIN and RITA disengage from their ESCORTS and
stand before the OFFICIAL. The music stops and the
AUDIENCE grows quiet.
We are met here in these extraordinary
circumstances to join this man and this
woman in holy wedlock. But, before we
begin, let me voice a personal word
of thanks to you, Rupert and to you,
Rita, for choosing me to perform this
prestigious ceremony. Because we are
on prime time, I am going to discard
my customary remarks in favor of a
few personal reflections. When I was
principal at Clifton High and these
two were students, I had very little
faith that Rupert here would amount
to very much. But like his teachers
and his fellow students, I underestimated
this fine young man. Some say that
this misjudgment is directly tied to my
recent dismissal as head of the Clifton
School System. But let me take this
opportunity to set the record straight.
Knowing that Rupert and Rita here were
most certainly destined for a great
career and a lifetime of happiness,
I voluntarily stepped down. I would
only here add my own wishes to those
of millions of viewers for their
continued health, wealth and
The OFFICIAL looks quickly past RITA and PUPKIN.
We'll be back to marry them in a minute,
right after this word.
65 INT: THE TRAIN - DAY
PUPKIN and RITA are seated as they were. We hear the
Greenwich. Greenwich next stop.
PUPKIN and RITA grab their small suitcases and quickly move
down the aisle towards the door.
66 INT: A SUBURBAN TAXI - DAY
RITA is peering out the window. PUPKIN is still lost in
Look at that one. How'd you like to
live in that?!?! Or that one! What
do you figure these run?
The taxi stops in front of a walled lot behind which is
visible a handsome English stucco home.
This is it.
PUPKIN is genuinely puzzled.
Look, friend, I wouldn't want to
tell you how many times I made this
trip. (pause) That'll be three
PUPKIN, still puzzled, hands him a five dollar bill.
The DRIVER gets out and puts PUPKIN and RITA's bags,
which he had stacked on the front seat, onto the sidewalk.
Thanks. If you need a ride back,
just ask the guy for Wayne. That's me.
The CAMERA PULLS BACK as PUPKIN opens the gate and he and
RITA walk up the drive.
67 EXT: LANGFORD'S HOUSE - DAY
PUPKIN and RITA stand before the front door. PUPKIN rings,
After a few beats, the door is opened by an Indonesian
HOUSEBOY. PUPKIN walks in right past him, RITA following
68 INT: LANGFORD'S HOUSE - DAY
PUPKIN hands the HOUSEBOY the two suitcases as he talks.
You must be Jonno. I'm Rupert Pupkin
and this is Rita Keane. Mr. Langford's
Jonno nods politely but uncertainly.
Mr. Langford asked you to come?
That's right. Would you mind
taking those up? Jerry and I have
some work that may oblige me to
But Mr. Langford's not here.
Out playing golf, right?
(still puzzled and unsure)
Maybe he'll finally break a hundred.
Maybe it's better if you came back ...
That's alright. We don't mind waiting.
PUPKIN walks from the foyer into the living-room, leaving
JONNO staring after him holding the bags. RITA walks into
the living room after PUPKIN.
The table's only set for one.
That's from breakfast. Relax, will
69 INT: LANGFORD'S KITCHEN - DAY
JONNO is on the phone. A black lady COOK stands at his
(into the phone)
Let me talk to Jerry Langford please
... I know he is ... It's important.
70 INT: LANGFORD'S LIVING ROOM - DAY
It is a handsomely furnished room, done in old American
antiques and other tasteful pieces. There is a grand piano
heavy with pictures in one corner and wall-to-wall
bookshelves that are mostly full and mixed with a balance
of classics and modern popular reading. The whole room
marks LANGFORD as a man of discernment. The shelves also
house a fine stereo and a small, discreet bar. RITA and
PUPKIN walk in like strangers in paradise, awed by the
obvious elegance and expense the room reflects.
(as though he owned it)
How do you like it?
I could live here.
It's the only way to live.
RITA stands in the center of the room, ill at ease, while
PUPKIN strolls about comfortably, picking up an ashtray
here, a cigarette case there, inspecting the artifacts for
inscriptions, clues, hints about LANGFORD's character and
How come he isn't here?
You heard the guy. He's out playing
Didn't you tell him when we'd get here?
PUPKIN continues to move about the room, fielding RITA's
suspicious inquiries effortlessly.
We didn't have time to iron out the
details. Now just relax. We're
the first guests, that's all.
That Jonno character hadn't even
heard of us!
(a little irritated)
It probably slipped Jerry's mind.
He has better things to think about
than what he tells his houseboy.
It's just not time way I expected it,
There is a pause. PUPKIN continues his investigation. He
has moved to the grand piano in the rear of the room.
What do we do now?
PUPKIN is looking at a picture of an American Gothic couple
standing in front of a wood-frame house. As he comments on
the pictures, the CAMERA PANS over them. They form a kind
of slide-show of LANGFORD's life.
These are Jerry's parents. His father
runs the Post office in Wolverine --
that's in North Dakota.
PUPKIN then fixes on a picture of an eleven-year-old boy
standing next to a puppet stage with a puppet (obviously
held by the boy) staring at its master.
This one was in Newsweek. He started
giving these puppet shows when he was
still in grade school.
WE SEE a picture of a very young LANGFORD seated before a
microphone with some celebrity.
And this is from his quiz show in
St. Louis. Can you believe it?
Sure I can.
That was the name of the show.
WE MOVE to a picture of LANGFORD smiling at JACK PAAR.
And here's when he wrote for Jack
Paar. He made a hundred and fifty
a week and look at him now.
Another picture of LANGFORD with a group of women sitting
in a studio.
And this is his morning show.
A picture of LANGFORD standing in a park with his two boys,
eleven and eight.
And his kids. He's divorced.
RITA, who has been only half-listening, has picked up a
small, beautifully enameled cigarette box.
Look at this. I love these kind of
things. Look at the work. I've got
this thing about boxes.
RITA puts it down reluctantly, picks it up, then puts it
71 INT: THE KITCHEN - DAY
JONNO is holding the phone, waiting. The COOK stands,
looking at him.
Mr. Langford? ... I'm sorry to
disturb you ...
72 INT: THE LIVING ROOM - DAY
RITA has just finished fixing herself a drink. She takes a
large sip and starts pacing around. PUPKIN is seated.
How much longer are we gonna have
I don't know. Until he gets back.
Do we have to just sit here?
He should be back pretty soon.
Doesn't he have any music or anything?
Let's get a little life into this place.
It's like a funeral parlor.
She walks over to the stereo and opens the cupboard beneath
it, revealing rows and rows of records.
This is more like it.
She pulls out a record.
Come on, Rita.
Come on, yourself.
She puts the record on. Frank Sinatra starts singing "They
Can't Take That Away From Me." She takes a big sip of her
drink, puts it down and comes over to PUPKIN.
How about a little spin, handsome?
RITA snuggles into PUPKIN and starts dancing him around.
He resists feebly.
Come on, Rupert. I came up here for
a good time.
PUPKIN gives in and starts dancing with her in the style of
the 1950's, elbow out, arm up, box step. After a few
moments, PUPKIN closes his eyes. He has reached a moment
of perfect bliss, his dream girl in is arms. They dance
silently as we hear Sinatra singing.
The way you wore your hat,
The way we danced till three,
The memory of all that --
Oh no, they can't take that away from me,
No ... they can't take that away ...
from ... me.
The orchestra plays.
You never could dance, could you?
How would you know?
Oh I danced with you a couple of
times -- at the Sigma U party.
You were there with Tommy Winston.
You didn't ask me.
That's the one time I did ask you
and you went with him anyway.
Well, I couldn't go with you!
Be serious, Rupert.
73 INT: THE DINING ROOM - DAY
JONNO stands a few feet from the kitchen door, staring at
RITA and PUPKIN dancing in the living room, an unbelieving,
anxious expression on his face.
74 INT: THE LIVING ROOM - DAY
The music has stopped momentarily and PUPKIN and RITA
disengage. PUPKIN looks lovingly at RITA.
Well, it's all ended happily and
that's what counts.
RITA grows jumpy under his gaze. She looks around.
I wonder what the rest of this
place looks like?
I'm sure it's all very nice.
Well, there's only one way to find out.
RITA scampers over to the stairs and pauses on the first
You coming or not?
RITA bounds up the stairs.
CAMERA FOLLOWS PUPKIN up the stairs.
75 INT: UPSTAIRS - DAY
There is no sign of RITA.
Where are you?
There is no answer. CAMERA FOLLOWS PUPKIN from room to
room. They are all guest rooms, neat, pretty, clean.
Come on, Rita. This isn't funny.
Finally, PUPKIN opens the door to another room.
76 INT: A BEDROOM - DAY
It is clearly LANGFORD's bedroom with a few clothes strewn
about, and other signs of being lived in. RITA lies on the
What are you doing, Rita?
I love it! All those millions of
women out there dying to change
places with me right now.
Come on. We shouldn't be here.
Relax, will you. Let me have a
little fun, for Christ's sake.
RITA gets off the bed and runs into the john.
77 INT: A LAVISH BATHROOM - DAY
Look at this. It's nicer than my
PUPKIN enters the large, beautifully done bathroom. RITA
examines her face in the mirror.
Let's go, Rita.
Boy, I really need some sun.
Rita, this is Jerry's ...
Lay off, will you, Rupert.
But we have no right ...
RITA picks up a can of shave cream and squirts a large
dollop in PUPKIN's face. WE COME IN for a CLOSE UP of
PUPKIN's face, buried under shaving cream.
That wasn't funny, Rita.
RITA hands him a towel.
She looks around.
Now for something that smells nice.
She swings open the cabinet with a flourish. The door
swings open violently and the mirror shatters against
something as pills and bottles tumble into the sink.
PUPKIN and RITA stand there, staring at each other. RITA
begins to laugh, but her laugh is cut short by the slam of
the downstairs door.
78 INT: THE FOYER
LANGFORD has entered, drawn and businesslike. JONNO and
the COOK have moved out to greet him.
Where are they?
I was going to call the police but
then I thought to myself 'what if
they are Mr. Langford's friends?'
We hear some whispers and scuffling at the top of the
stairs. LANGFORD, JONNO and the COOK look up. PUPKIN
comes bounding down the stairs jauntily with RITA following
cautiously behind. PUPKIN has large traces of shaving
cream behind his ears and on his neck.
Hi, Jerry. We were just freshening up.
PUPKIN stops at the base of the stairs, turns around, and
waves RITA down.
Come on, Rita. No need to be shy.
PUPKIN smiles conspiratorially at LANGFORD. RITA comes
Jerry, I'd like you to meet Rita
Keane. Rita, say hello to Jerry!
Pleased to meet you.
LANGFORD nods imperceptibly, his face tense, his eyes
alert. RITA, reading her frigid reception, looks to
PUPKIN who walks blithely past LANGFORD into the living
room, toward the bar.
What's your pleasure?
PUPKIN glances at the small mess he has left on the bar and
turns back to LANGFORD who has moved into the living room
with JONNO and the COOK a few steps behind. PUPKIN flashes
LANGFORD an apologetic smile.
We've already taken the liberty, so
to speak. Rita was a little nervous.
It isn't every day she meets someone
What's going on here?
We've been sitting around, waiting.
That's all. How was your golf game?
I told them you weren't here.
He did, Jerry. He was very helpful.
We had to take an early train. There
was nothing else until after one.
(pause) I brought the material.
It's upstairs, in my bags. (pause)
Where is everybody?
The other guests! (in a confidential
tone) We're getting a little hungry,
to tell you the truth.
(as though confirming
what PUPKIN said)
But we don't mind waiting, do we,
RITA says nothing. She has sensed something terribly
wrong and is slowly backing away from PUPKIN.
You know, I could have you arrested,
both of you.
(seizing the idea)
You know you could! And there'd be
absolutely no way we could prove we
belonged here. I never thought of that.
Well, you should have before you ...
(still fixed on the idea)
Maybe we could work up a routine
about that, about a guy who throws
all his friends in jail. Let's talk
Sure, Jerry. Whatever you ...
Look, if you've got something for
me to sign, let's have it and get
it over with so I can get back ...
That wouldn't be right, Jerry.
Not in your own house!
(summoning his last
bit of patience)
I have a lot of work to get to.
(to JONNO) How did they get here?
We took a taxi, Jerry ... But don't
worry about us. You go ahead and
do your work and we'll just take a
stroll around until lunch is ready.
You're a little thick, aren't you?
(smiling as though complimented)
Well, maybe a ...
What's he's saying, Rupert, is that he
wants us out.
Don't listen to her, Jerry. She
doesn't understand anything about us.
Don't get me into this.
Call the station.
JONNO goes back into the foyer, followed by the COOK.
There'll be a cab here in a few
minutes. Now if you'll just wait
at the gate ...
Look, Jerry, if I've said anything
out of line, let's chalk it up to
inexperience, okay? I'll just go
upstairs and get my tape and we can
start working. It shouldn't take
long and then you'll have the rest of
the afternoon to yourself.
I've told you just as clearly as I
can. I want you out of here and I
want you out now. Scram, beat it,
vamoose, out! Is that plain enough!
RITA deftly pockets the enamel box.
But what about my material? When
are we going to go over it?
Come on, Rupert, the man wants us
Tell her she's wrong, Jerry!
Look, Mr. Langford. I didn't know
anything about all this. I hardly
know this guy. I haven't seen him
So if there's anything I can do, any
way I can make this up to you.
She's nothing, Jerry. She's just
some girl who works in a bar.
Don't let her spoil things.
LANGFORD starts herding RITA and PUPKIN towards the door.
Come on. Let's go.
All I'm asking is fifteen minutes.
That's all. Just long enough to
listen to my act. Is that asking
too much -- fifteen minutes of your
day against my whole life?
I'll call the police if I have to.
LANGFORD realizes he is being hard. He stops for a moment.
I have my own life, that's all.
But what about me, Jerry? What about
my life? I made plans -- based on
what you said. You can't just turn
your back on me.
I'm not telling you again.
There is a long pause as the truth finally sinks in. PUPKIN
just stares at LANGFORD with disbelief that turns to anger.
So this is the way it works when
you're big, huh? You just play with
people. Is that part of the kick,
Jerry? (pause) I can see I was all
wrong about you. All wrong.
RITA starts tugging at PUPKIN.
Come on, Rupert.
Shut up! (to LANGFORD) You weren't
my friend at all, were you? You were
just playing some kind of game with me.
Well, that's not going to stop me,
Jerry. I'm just going to work a
little bit harder, that's all, use a
little bit more enterprise. And not
count on anybody. That's where I
made my mistake. I can see that now.
PUPKIN picks up the pair of small suitcases.
(glaring at LANGFORD)
Come on, Rita. We're wasting our time.
79 EXT. LANGFORD'S FRONT DOOR - DAY
PUPKIN strides out with RITA following. She casts LANGFORD
an apologetic glance as she goes. The door slams behind
them. They walk down the path silently for a few moments
as the CAMERA PULLS UP, following them in an OVERHEAD SHOT.
We hear them start talking as they make their way towards
(baffled and angry)
What did you think was going to
happen? You think he'd just ... ?
What's the matter with you? (pause)
You can't just walk into a guy's
house! And what about me? What
did you ...
(interrupting in a calm
but firm voice)
Shut up, Rita. I'm thinking.
80 EXT: OUTSIDE THE U.N. PLAZA - DAY
81 INT: A NEW MERCEDES BENZ - DAY
MARSHA sits at the wheel of this lavishly appointed sedan,
her face made up as though she were going to a fancy party.
PUPKIN sits on the other side of the front seat. His ex-
pression has changed somewhat from the PUPKIN we have seen.
He is less wide-eyed, less innocent, tougher.
How much longer?!?
Do you want him or not?
There is a pause.
You sure he's in there?
(with obvious delight)
My parents are going to be furious!
PUPKIN pulls a toy revolver from his jacket pocket and looks
it over. MARSHA glances at it.
It looks real.
That's the whole point. (gesturing
with his head towards the entrance
of the building which is some 50 yards
away) Pay attention.
MARSHA looks towards the entrance. A few beats pass.
What if he doesn't come down?
But what if he doesn't?
We'll come back tomorrow.
And wait again?
Look, you're going to have him all
to yourself. What else do you want?
A MAN resembling LANGFORD walks out the entrance.
Is that him?!?
Sure I'm sure. That looks too much
What do you mean?
When it's him it doesn't look like him.
PUPKIN closes his eyes and rests for a moment.
PUPKIN's eyes snap open. WE SEE LANGFORD, concealed in his
trench coat, dark glasses and tightly pulled cap start walking
What should I do?
Wait a second and follow him.
82 EXT: A STREET GOING EAST - DAY
LANGFORD is walking innocently towards his offices. The
Mercedes prowls a quarter of a block behind.
83 INT: THE MERCEDES - DAY
What about here?
Too busy. Keep going.
84 EXT: ANOTHER EASTBOUND STREET - DAY
LANGFORD continues walking. The street is practically
85 INT: MERCEDES - DAY
Go past him and stop.
86 EXT: THE SAME EASTBOUND STREET - DAY
WE STAY with LANGFORD as he walks. WE SEE the Mercedes
pull past him. Suddenly PUPKIN is IN THE FRAME, walking
side by side with LANGFORD.
Just keep walking or I'll kill
you right here.
LANGFORD looks at PUPKIN in terror. He falters a bit, out
I said keep walking. This is a gun
in my pocket and I've got nothing
(who keeps walking)
What do you want?
Just keep walking and don't talk
to anybody. I'll tell you what
A MAN coming the other way stops and stares at LANGFORD
out of curiosity. PUPKIN and LANGFORD keep walking. They
get to where the Mercedes is waiting. PUPKIN jabs LANGFORD
in the ribs with the gun.
Look, this is ...
Just shut up and get in.
LANGFORD gets in the front seat. PUPKIN follows.
87 INT: THE MERCEDES - DAY
LANGFORD moves to the middle of the front seat.
LANGFORD looks over and recognizes MARSHA. A CLOSE UP
records his reaction of sheer terror.
88 EXT: A BROWNSTONE-LINED STREET IN THE EAST EIGHTIES - DAY
WE SEE LANGFORD get out of the Mercedes which is parked in
front of a fire hydrant. LANGFORD follows MARSHA into a
brownstone. PUPKIN walks behind LANGFORD.
89 INT: MARSHA'S APARTMENT - DAY
PUPKIN, LANGFORD and MARSHA enter. It is an absolutely
stunning studio apartment, furnished lavishly by Marsha's
parents for their daughter in antique furniture suitable
for a woman of fifty. MARSHA has imprinted her own stamp
on the apartment in two ways: First, the place is abso-
lutely chaotic. Secondly, there are a number of blow-up
pictures on the wall. A picture of LANGFORD sits on the
bureau. There is a big brass bed with an ornate brass
frame at the foot. LANGFORD stares at MARSHA and PUPKIN.
PUPKIN closes the blinds and turns on the lights. MARSHA
trains the gun on LANGFORD. PUPKIN finishes his work and
takes the gun back.
I didn't like being so rough out
there, Jerry. But I wanted you to
know that I meant business. I didn't
want anything happening to you over
LANGFORD just stares at him, frozen with fear.
Now I know you're wondering what
this is all about. Actually you've
got nothing to worry about. You
just do what I tell you and by, say,
midnight, you'll be safe and out of
here. Of course if you try anything
clever, I'll kill you -- or Marsha
will. She knows how to use this too.
You realize what you're saying.
Come on, Jerry. This isn't a spur
of the moment thing. Give me a little
credit, will you.
PUPKIN looks over to a small phone table with a chair next
to it. He motions to it with his head.
LANGFORD docilely sits by the phone.
Now, you're going to call your
office and tell them this: that
unless a man who identifies himself as
the King is allowed on the show
tonight as the first guest, they'll
never see you alive again.
I'll say it again ...
90 INT: BERT THOMAS' OFFICE - DAY
It is a large office in two pieces. A SECRETARY sits in
the smaller part next to the door of the larger section.
Her phone is ringing. She answers.
Bert Thomas! ... He's in a meeting,
Mr. Langford ... I see.
91 INT: A CONFERENCE ROOM - DAY
THOMAS, a young, trim executive in his late thirties, in
modish dress, sits at the table with several other PEOPLE,
including CATHY LONG. They are sipping coffee from con-
tainers. There are memos and lists and other papers on
the table. The SECRETARY stands at the doorway. THOMAS
and the others are looking up at her.
He says it's urgent.
Yeah? Well, tell him I'll call him
back. (to the others) It's that
Martino kid, the impressionist.
92 INT: MARSHA'S APARTMENT -- DAY
LANGFORD sits by the phone with PUPKIN a few steps away,
holding the gun and MARSHA looking on. LANGFORD looks
Then try again!
93 INT: BERT THOMAS' OFFICE - DAY
An irked BERT THOMAS wearily picks up the phone.
Yeah? ... Okay, Martino, let's
stop the bullshit ... what? ...
Okay, I'm listening.
WE WATCH THOMAS' expression as it turns from skepticism
to concern bordering on alarm.
Give me that again? ... Wait a
minute. What do we call our second
94 INT: MARSHA'S APARTMENT - DAY
The scene is as before, only now LANGFORD is sweating a bit.
(into the phone)
No tricks, Jerry.
95 INT: BERT THOMAS' OFFICE - DAY
THOMAS is still at the phone.
Don't do anything, Jerry. Stay right
there. Tell him we'll do anything he
wants. Tell him to cool it. Are you
okay? ... Look, tell him to call us
about five, okay. We'll let him know
what to do. And don't do anything
THOMAS puts down the phone.
(calls to his SECRETARY)
THOMAS' SECRETARY appears at the doorway.
Get me the number of the F.B.I. right
away. And get me Crockett's office.
And keep your mouth shut about this.
96 INT: MARSHA'S APARTMENT - DAY
LANGFORD is standing awkwardly in the middle of the room,
wearing a sweater that matches the patch of cloth we saw
in the envelope MARSHA gave PUPKIN. PUPKIN is still
training his pistol on LANGFORD and MARSHA is appraising
What do you think?
I had to guess on the sleeves.
(to PUPKIN) He gets to keep it,
Sure, if he isn't dead.
97 INT: THOMAS' OFFICE - DAY
THOMAS is on the phone.
I know he's in a meeting and I don't
care. I've got to talk to him! ...
No, he can not call me back. Don't
you understand? This is an emergency
... NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!
98 INT: MARSHA'S APARTMENT - DAY
LANGFORD is seated on a chair whose back is pressed right
up against the high, ornate brass bedstead at the foot of
the bed. MARSHA trains the gun on LANGFORD now. PUPKIN
is unpacking a suitcase. He takes out a handsome blue suit,
ruffled shirt, a bow tie, black shoes, underwear, socks,
shaving equipment, soap, a hairbrush, a clothesbrush, a
small shoe shine kit, aftershave lotion, deodorant and a
dozen or so rolls of inch-and-a-half wide adhesive tape.
He removes this stuff from a suitcase that is barely big
enough to hold it -- so the mere packing of all this para-
phernalia into such a small space represents something of an
achievement. As he takes the stuff out, he talks to
LANGFORD, his back turned to him.
This wasn't an easy decision for
me, Jerry, believe me. For one
thing, I knew it meant we could never
be friends again and that hurt me.
It's hard to lose a friend, even one
who has let you down. You always
hope you can patch things up. You
know, a guy like me doesn't make
friends that easily.
PUPKIN pauses a moment, then turns to LANGFORD, his voice
filled with emotion.
Why didn't you just listen to the
tape when I asked you? Then I
wouldn't have to be doing all this.
Was it really too much to expect --
a few minutes of your time to listen
to something I'd worked on my whole
LANGFORD's eyes shift rapidly. He is obviously calculating
how to deal with PUPKIN.
(with disarming charm)
Hey, if that's what's bothering you,
let's go over to my office and listen
to that tape right now.
Are you crazy, Jerry? Do you know
what would happen to me?
MARSHA listens to this exchange a bit nervously. Gesturing
to her gun, she says:
Am I going to have to hold this
thing all day?
PUPKIN sees she has lowered it practically to her side.
Just keep it on him. (to LANGFORD)
You know, Jerry. Friendship is a two-
way street. All that time I was
worrying about you and your ratings
and everything, you couldn't have
cared less about me.
LANGFORD thinks rapidly for a beat or two.
You're right. You know that? I
was thoughtless. It's just that
when you're doing a big show, it's
hard to tell who your friends really
are. I was wrong. I apologize.
Why don't we just shake hands and
forget the whole thing?
That's easy to say, Jerry.
But I mean it. I'll tell them that
the whole thing was a joke and then
we can go to my office and listen to
that tape. Come on. What do you say?
LANGFORD rises with his hand extended toward PUPKIN.
(to LANGFORD, sharply)
LANGFORD looks to PUPKIN.
I said sit!
LANGFORD reluctantly sits down.
What's the matter? You heard
what he said.
All of a sudden, with a gun on him,
he wants to make up and be friends.
And, once he's out the door, what
What happens then, Jerry?
You get to his office and they
jump you, that's what happens, Rupert.
She's right, Jerry.
Not if I tell them not to. This is
Jerry, Rupert, I give you my word.
He gives me his word.
Yeah? And what else? Come on,
Rupert, I'm sick of waiting.
And what else, Jerry?
Come on, Rupert. My word's good
enough, isn't it.
PUPKIN stares at LANGFORD for a few beats. Then he shakes
his head sadly and says in a very quiet, discouraged voice.
No, Jerry. It's not. (to MARSHA)
Keep the gun up!
PUPKIN comes over to LANGFORD with a few rolls of adhesive
tape in his hand.
I'm sorry to do it this way, Jerry,
but I'm no good at knots. Just put
your arms up and out, okay?
LANGFORD spreads his arms back against the brass bedstead.
As PUPKIN goes to tape them, LANGFORD tries to grab him,
but, with sudden, demonic force, PUPKIN pins him against
the bedstead. They are practically nose to nose.
Oh, no, Jerry. None of that. Now
99 INT: A LARGE EXECUTIVE OFFICE - DAY
We are in the office of WILSON CROCKETT, president of the
National Broadcasting Network. CROCKETT sits behind his
desk, facing a group which includes several other NETWORK
EXECUTIVES, BERT THOMAS, CATHY LONG, F.B.I. INSPECTOR
PATTEN, and his assistant, GIARDELLO. They are in the
midst of debate.
Look, I tell you, the bureau is doing
everything possible to locate Mr.
Langford. Right now our men are out
checking out every radical group in
They're willing to sacrifice their
leader in order to get their message
across, aren't they? You've got to
figure that this is a desperate outfit.
I don't know who they are anymore than
you do. But I do know I've got to
stop them. Otherwise, what you're
seeing here is just the first of a
whole wave of these kinds of kidnappings.
Does this mean we're not supposed to
put him on?!?
Who am I addressing, please?
That's Bert Thomas. He produces the
I'm only saying, Mr. Thomas, that we
can't allow this to reach the public.
When the kidnappers call in, of course
you're going to be cooperative.
Promise them anything they want.
After all, this King character is
going to have to show up sooner or
later. And once we get our hands
on him, he'll tell us where Mr. Langford
PATTEN grinds his fist into his palm.
100 INT: MARSHA'S APARTMENT - DAY
WE SEE PUPKIN in the shower, shampooing.
101 INT: THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE
The scene is as before.
Sure. Let him go on if you have
to. It's just a taping. You can
always erase him afterwards, can't
you? (pause) All I'm saying is this:
don't put him on the air.
That's fine, Inspector, but let's say
he finishes his bit and you've worked
him over ...
Questioned him, Mr. Thomas.
There is light laughter.
Okay, questioned him and he still
won't talk. We get to eleven thirty
and what do we do? Do we air him or
There is a heavy pause.
I would say no.
But they might kill Jerry!
Okay, Burt. (to PATTEN) Thank you,
Inspector. We appreciate your position
and we'll do all we can to cooperate
with you. But I have to tell you
right now that, if it comes down to
it, we're not taking any chances with
Mr. Langford's life.
I understand but ...
If your men haven't been able to
locate Mr. Langford by air time,
we're going to have to put this King
guy on, no matter what he's said.
After all, Inspector, what's ten or
fifteen minutes of talk show time
against a man's life?
102 INT: MARSHA'S APARTMENT - DAY
WE SEE PUPKIN in his new suit and ruffled shirt, impeccably
groomed, standing next to the bed. He is talking to
LANGFORD but we don't see anyone but PUPKIN.
Open. (pause) Bite ... Good.
He is wrapping LANGFORD's mouth shut but all we see is that
he is doing something.
Can you breathe? Both ways? In
WE PULL BACK TO SEE LANGFORD nodding. He is strapped to
the bed with tape and encased like a mummy, only his eyes
and nose showing. PUPKIN has wrapped him in tape from tip
to toe. MARSHA emerges from the kitchen stirring something.
You've got until around midnight.
Have a good time. (to LANGFORD)
So long, Jerry! Wish me luck.
103 INT: BERT THOMAS' OFFICE - DAY
The phone rings. BERT THOMAS' SECRETARY answers.
Bert Thomas! Who's calling please?
(her voice grows tense) Yes, Mr. King.
104 INT: BERT THOMAS' DESK - DAY
THOMAS sits by his phone. There is a large machine,
looking like a large tape recorder, attached to the phone
and monitoring the call. GIARDELLO is at a second phone
and starts placing a call. PATTEN stands next to THOMAS.
There are two other PLAINCLOTHESMEN in the room, CROCKETT
and CATHY LONG.
(quietly to THOMAS)
Keep him talking.
THOMAS nods and picks up the phone.
Yes? ... Yes, Mr, King. We understand.
Everything's been arranged. Now if
you'll just tell me a little about the
nature of your material, so that
we can ...
105 EXT: UPPER EAST SIDE MANHATTAN STREET - DAY
PUPKIN stands in a public phonebooth on a streetcorner.
(into the phone)
I'll tell you everything you need to
know at the studio this evening,
Mr. Thomas. I appreciate your co-
PUPKIN steps out of the booth and starts walking downtown.
106 INT: MARSHA'S APARTMENT - DAY
Late afternoon. MARSHA is setting the dining room table
for two. She talks as she works.
I've got so much to tell you I just
don't know what to begin with. Are
LANGFORD mumbles incoherently through his gag and tape.
Good. Tell me if you're not.
I guess you're wondering why I do
stuff like this. I think it's
because I'm a Leo, but my shrink says
I'm pathologically rebellious and
self-destructive. You don't think
I'm self-destructive, do you?
LANGFORD, mummified, again mumbles and struggles a bit in
I knew you wouldn't. That's 'cause
you're the only person in the world
who really understands me.
107 INT: CROCKETT'S OFFICE - DAY
CROCKETT sits behind his desk. With him are BERT THOMAS,
CATHY LONG and three other EXECUTIVES.
Can Randall* sub for Jerry?
[*Tony Randall is one of any number of substitute hosts.]
His agent's calling us back but it looks
good. I only told him Jerry's sick.
Well, if worse comes to worse, Canter
can always carry it. (to CATHY LONG)
Let me see your list.
CATHY LONG hands CROCKETT a blue piece of paper. He
glances over it quickly.
Any one of these a writer?
(pointing to a name on
McCabe. The Vanishing Siberian Tiger.
What if we don't run this King guy?
Who'll fill the time?
We'll stretch the other guests. But
I think we're going to wind up running
him. For one thing, we've got to think
And from a news point of view, we've
got a responsibility to air this story.
Exactly, Lou. (pause) I mean, who
would you rather watch -- some tiger
expert or a live kidnapper.
A SECOND EXECUTIVE
But nobody's going to know he's a
kidnapper. They'll think we've gone
Then they'll read about it in the papers
tomorrow and, believe me, tomorrow night,
everyone in America will be watching
Jerry talk about his experience. And
he can put this King guy on rerun.
You're going to put him on twice?
A THIRD EXECUTIVE
What if his stuff's unusable?
And remember what Patten said about ...
Hold on. (pause) We can always edit
the guy. And, as for a wave of these
things, I just don't buy the idea
that there are that many people out
there crazy enough to spend their
lives in prison for a few minutes
108 EXT: MADISON AVENUE IN THE SIXTIES - DAY
PUPKIN walks purposefully down the street.
109 EXT: OUTSIDE THE JERRY LANGFORD SHOW THEATER - DAY
The street is quiet. Suddenly three cars pull up and some
dozen PLAINCLOTHESMEN get out. Two wait outside the
theater; the ten others disappear inside through the
110 EXT: MIDTOWN MANHATTAN STREET - DAY
PUPKIN is now walking cross-town, towards the theater.
111 EXT: LANGFORD THEATER -- DAY
A line of some 100 PEOPLE has gathered outside the theater.
A sign at the bottom of the poster showing Langford reads
"Tonight's Guest Host: Tony Randall."
112 INT: THE TELEVISION STUDIO
From the POV of the stage, WE WATCH six PLAINCLOTHESMEN
descend into the orchestra and take widely scattered aisle
seats. When the last has taken his seat we ...
113 EXT: THE LANGFORD THEATER - DAY
Depending on the season, it is either dusk or late
afternoon. The USHERS swing the doors open and the
TICKETHOLDERS file in.
114 EXT: A MIDTOWN MANHATTAN STREET - DUSK
PUPKIN is crossing Broadway, a few blocks from the theater.
115 INT: STUDIO
At the center of the stage, a pretty MODEL used solely to
test color quality sits in Langford's chair as several
MEMBERS of the Tactical Patrol Force admire her
considerable cleavage. A number of TECHNICIANS go about
their work. CAMERAMEN move to and from their stations.
116 INT: CORRIDOR LEADING FROM THE BACKSTAGE DOOR TO THE STAGE
Four PLAINCLOTHESMEN are gathered behind the stage door.
They watch ZSA ZSA GABOR (or some other sexy talk show
celebrity) enter and then return to talking among
117 EXT: THE TELEVISION THEATER - DAY TO EARLY EVENING
The situation appears normal. Only the regular backstage
door GUARD, a big, grey-haired man, stands at the door.
Nearby two other young MEN, in colorless suits, stand
talking. We WATCH CLARENCE MCCABE, a writer, his plain
WIFE and her PARENTS arrive in front of the theater, locate
the backstage entrance and present themselves before the
(a bit pompously)
Good evening, officer. This is the
backstage door I take it?
Your name please?
Clarence McCabe, the writer. And
this is Mrs. McCabe and her parents,
Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Solters of Cleveland.
(checking his list)
I'm sorry, sir. I don't see you here.
I'm on the show tonight, officer.
Well, you're not here.
(getting a bit agitated)
Look, Cathy Long gave me instructions
to present myself at a quarter to six.
May I see her please?
I'm under strictest orders tonight
to admit only authorized personnel.
This is absurd. (to the others)
Wait right here.
MCCABE marches past the GUARD and rushes to the backstage
door. He opens it. The GUARD trails behind.
118 INT: THE BACKSTAGE CORRIDOR - EVENING
The four PLAINCLOTHESMEN jump MCCABE and start pulling him
119 EXT: OUTSIDE THE THEATER - EVENING
PUPKIN arrives at the backstage door. Seeing no one, he
120 INT: A ROOM IN THE BASEMENT OF THE THEATER - EVENING
MCCABE has just been hustled before PATTEN.
Are you the King?
MCCABE looks baffled.
121 INT: BACKSTAGE - EVENING
PUPKIN is looking for a familiar face. He approaches a
(getting CAMERAMAN's attention)
The CAMERAMAN looks up.
I'm the King.
122 INT: THE BASEMENT ROOM - EVENING
PATTEN is sitting behind a desk. MCCABE is standing before
him, still securely held by four PLAINCLOTHESMEN.
Don't talk to me about tigers!
123 INT: BACKSTAGE - EVENING.
PUPKIN approaches the STAGE MANAGER.
(to STAGE MANAGER)
I'm the King.
What can I do for you, your highness?
CATHY LONG passes by. She spots PUPKIN, and walks swiftly
What are you doing here, Mr. Pupkin?!?!
124 INT: MARSHA'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
The lights are dimmed. Music is playing on the phonograph.
Two candles burn on the elegantly-set dinner table. MARSHA
stands in the middle of the room, in front of LANGFORD.
She is singing. LANGFORD is still encased in tape.
(singing to the music)
"I'm gonna love you,
Like no one's ever loved you,
Come rain or come shine,
Happy together, unhappy together,
And won't it be fine."
125 INT: THE BASEMENT ROOM - NIGHT
Now PUPKIN stands before PATTEN, held by PLAINCLOTHESMEN
who frisk him and hand PATTEN the autograph book.
GIARDELLO stands next to PATTEN.
(to the PLAINCLOTHESMEN)
I hope you brought me the right guy
this time. (to PUPKIN) Where's Jerry
Are you on the show?
No, Mr. King. That's my assistant,
I want to see someone on the show.
Well, you tell us where Mr. Langford
is and we'll let you see anyone you
Just get me someone from the show.
PATTEN starts browsing through the autograph book.
Come on, Mr. King. Let's not fool
around. (looking up from the book)
Should we know about any of these
(gesturing to the book)
That's Orson Bean.
I see. (to GIARDELLO) Check these
GIARDELLO starts looking through the autograph book.
Now are you going to talk to us,
Sure I'll talk. Just get me someone
from the show.
Get that Thomas guy in here.
We haven't much time, Mr. King.
PUPKIN looks towards the door.
Let's start with your name.
That's your real name?
You an American?
Then why do you people do these things?
THOMAS enters. He scrutinizes PUPKIN.
Are you on the show?
Yes. I'm Bert Thomas.
PUPKIN pulls thin piece of neatly typewritten paper from
his inside jacket and hands it to THOMAS.
Here's the introduction to my act.
Please make sure Mr. Randall follows
it exactly as I've written it.
PATTEN nods to THOMAS who takes the paper and reads it as
Okay. How about helping us, Mr. King?
What about make-up? I need make-up.
Put some color in his cheeks.
126 INT: MARSHA'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
MARSHA has finished a half bottle of wine. She is eating
a beautifully decorated piece of stuffed capon and talking
through her tears.
It was the second lead! I'd never
gotten a part in my life and here I
get the second lead. And what does
SHOT of LANGFORD still bound from tip to toe.
Not "Marsha, that's wonderful" or
"we're proud of you" or anything.
Oh no. He starts lecturing me on
how I should have tried out for
Emily! Now do you understand, Jerry!
MARSHA gets hold of herself. She swallows a couple of
pills and swills them down with some wine.
My doctor says I shouldn't get excited.
MARSHA picks at another piece of capon.
This is the best I ever made it.
You want some?
LANGFORD, the mummy, nods. MARSHA picks up the plate
across from her, fills it with food, and pulls a chair up
next to LANGFORD. She undoes the tape around his mouth
and picks a sock out of his mouth.
Now open. Marsha's going to feed her
127 INT: BACKSTAGE - NIGHT
Two young GIRLS are working on big cue cards copying from
the piece of paper PUPKIN has given THOMAS. TONY RANDALL
stands next to THOMAS. The two of them watch. RANDALL is
going over the lines.
128 INT: THE BASEMENT ROOM - NIGHT
PUPKIN has obviously been worked over. He is sweating.
How about it, King?
If I'm not on that show, Jerry Langford
is dead, I promise you.
PATTEN nods to his PLAINCLOTHESMEN again who start working
129 INT: THE TELEVISION STUDIO - NIGHT
The beginning of the taping is seconds away. Everyone is
in his place. The STAGE MANAGER is counting down from five
on his fingers. At zero, he points across to RICK ROSS,
the orchestra leader, who strikes up the familiar Langford
Show theme song.
130 INT: THE CONTROL ROOM - NIGHT
Four TECHNICAL ENGINEERS are seated along a large console
containing a multitude of small television screens. One
screen shows the spotlight falling where Randall will
enter. Another shows the logo of the Langford Show.
Another shows nothing in particular. Behind the
TECHNICIANS, stand CROCKETT and the EXECUTIVES we have
seen in the previous scenes. A TECHNICIAN is giving
instructions to the CAMERAMAN.
Hold on two. Hold. Hold. Come on,
Keller. Get it framed!
131 INT: THE TELEVISION STUDIO - NIGHT
The theme song is playing. BERT CANTER stands off-camera
at one side of the stage before a microphone.
Now! Direct from New York! It's the
Jerry Langford Show with guest host
Tony Randall and his special guests
-- Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz, pundit
Gore Vidal, the one and only Zsa Zsa
Gabor and another of Jerry's taped
exclusives, an interview with Prince
Ranier of Monaco. As always, Rick
Ross and the Orchestra and me, Bert
Canter. And now ... say hello to
An APPLAUSE sign flashes like crazy. The AUDIENCE cheers
wildly. In the back, we notice a handful of TACTICAL
PATROLMEN scattered about. RANDALL strides on stage
briskly, accepting the cheers of the crowd with his arms
raised. He nods and then his eyes fix on those hastily
written outsized cue cards. He reads them with a mixture
of professionalism and wry distance, wanting to disown the
words without seeming silly.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you. Thank you very much. I
have some sad news for you. Earlier
today, my writing staff was executed
in Central Park by the network firing
squad so there'll be no sensational
Randall monologue this evening.
The AUDIENCE cheers derisively.
No embarrassing displays of emotion,
please. (the AUDIENCE laughs) Instead,
we're going to do something a little
bit different this evening -- a lot
different if you ask me. We're going
to give you a glimpse into the future.
It isn't often that you can call
someone a sure thing in the entertainment
business. After all, the verdict is
always in your hands. But I think
tonight, after you've met my first
guest, you'll agree with me that he's
destined for greatness -- in one way
or another. So will you please give
your warmest greeting to the newest
King of Comedy, Rupert Pupkin!!!!
The music plays. The APPLAUSE sign flashes. The AUDIENCE
applauds heartily -- and nobody appears to fill the
spotlight at the edge of the wings. The spotlight holds
for what seems like an eternity.
132 INT: CONTROL ROOM - NIGHT
Just hold. Three. Pick up the
133 INT: THE STAGE - NIGHT
Finally after what seems like an eternity, PUPKIN emerges,
straightening his jacket a bit and trying to crane the
kinks out of his neck. He is a bit tense but very high
and in full command. As he delivers his monologue, PUPKIN
is more confident, comfortable and self-assured than we
have ever seen him.
Good evening, ladies and gentleman.
Let me introduce myself. My name is
Rupert Pupkin. I was born in Clifton,
New Jersey, which was not, at that
time, a federal offense. (laughter)
Is there anyone here from Clifton?
(silence) Good. We can all relax.
Now, I'd like to begin by saying that
my parents were too poor to afford me
a childhood but the fact is nobody is
allowed to be really poor in Clifton.
Once you fall below eleven thousand
you're exiled to Passaic. My parents
did, in fact, put down the first two
payments on my childhood. Then they
tried to return me to the hospital
as defective. But, like everyone else
I grew up in large part thanks to my
mother. If she was only here today
I'd say, "Hey, mom. What are you
doing here? You've been dead for
nine years?" (laughter) You should
have seen my mother. She was wonderful
-- blonde, beautiful, intelligent,
alcoholic. (laughter) We used to
drink milk together after school.
Mine was homogenized. Hers was loaded.
(laughter) Once she was picked up for
speeding. They clocked her doing fifty
-- in our garage. (laughter) When
they tested her they found that her
alcohol was two per cent blood. They
took away her license and she died
shortly afterwards. We used to joke
together Mom and me, until the tears
would stream down her face and she'd
throw up. (laughter) And who would
clean it up? Not Dad. He was too
busy down at O'Grady's throwing up on
his own. In fact, until I was sixteen,
I thought throwing up was a sign of
maturity. While the other kids were
off in the woods sneaking cigarettes, I
was hiding behind the house with my
fingers down my throat. (laughter)
I never got anywhere until one day,
my father caught me. Just as he was
giving me a final kick in the stomach,
for luck, I managed to heave all
over his new shoes. "That's it,"
I thought. "I've made it. I'm
finally a man!" (laughter) As it
turned out, that was the only time my
father ever paid any real attention
to me. He was usually too busy out
in the park playing ball with my
sister, Rose. And, today thanks to
those many hours of practice, my
sister Rose has grown into a fine man.
(laughter) Me, I wasn't especially
interested in athletics. The only
exercise I ever got was when the
other kids picked on me. They used
to beat me up once a week, usually
Tuesday. After a while, the school
worked it into the curriculum. And,
if you knocked me out, you got extra
credit. (laughter) Except there was
this one kid who was afraid of me. I
kept telling him, "Hit me! Hit me!
What's the matter with you? Don't you
want graduate?" As for me, I was
the only kid in the history of the
school to graduate in traction. The
school nurse tucked my diploma into
my sling. But my only real interest,
right from the beginning, was show
business. Even as a young man, I
began at the very top, collecting
134 INT: MARSHA'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
Dinner is over. MARSHA is sitting next to LANGFORD. As
LANGFORD speaks, it is obvious that he is turning on the
charm for strategic reasons.
That was a wonderful dinner, Marsha.
I want you to know how much I enjoyed
We can do it again.
I'd like to show you my gratitude.
But it's a little difficult, like this.
LANGFORD indicates his bonds.
(in a tone of intimacy)
Let's say I took all this off. What
would you do to me? Tell me.
135 INT: THE TELEVISION STUDIO -- NIGHT
We break in on a great burst of laughter. PUPKIN is just
finishing his monologue.
A lot of you are probably wondering
why Jerry couldn't make it this
evening. Well, he's tied up --
and I'm the one who tied him.
(laughter) You think I'm joking,
but that's the only way I could break
into show business -- by hijacking
Jerry Langford. (laughter) I'm
not kidding. Right now, Jerry
Langford is strapped to a bedstead
somewhere in the middle of this city.
(laughter) Go ahead. Laugh. But
the fact is ... I'm here. Tomorrow
you'll know I wasn't kidding and
you'll think I was crazy. But I
figured it this way: better to be
King for a Night than Schmuck for
a Lifetime!!! (laughter) Good
night ladies and gentlemen. God
The AUDIENCE applauds heartily. The music plays. And TONY
RANDALL salutes PUPKIN with a wave of his hand. PUPKIN
goes off stage after soaking up the applause.
136 INT: THE WINGS - NIGHT
A group of PLAINCLOTHESMEN seize PUPKIN and march him
briskly through the backstage corridor towards the
137 EXT: THE BACKSTAGE DOOR - NIGHT
A handful of PEOPLE are waiting, among them the autograph
hunters, MAE, CELESTE and SIDNEY. MAE, out of a reflex of
thirty years, immediately extends her autograph book
towards PUPKIN, then, recognizing him, immediately pulls
Who did you get?
PUPKIN says nothing as he is hustled into a limousine.
SIDNEY and CELESTE look on. MAE trails after PUPKIN and
Could I have a ride?
The PLAINCLOTHESMAN says nothing and starts getting in the
I've never been in one.
The limo pulls away.
138 INT: INSPECTOR PATTEN'S DOWNTOWN OFFICE - NIGHT
PUPKIN stands among a crowd of PLAINCLOTHESMEN who have
obviously been working him over. PATTEN sits behind his
desk. GIARDELLO is at his side. The clock on the wall
Okay, Pupkin. We'll start all over
again. Where is Langford? You know,
we're going to find him sooner or later.
I'm trying to tell you, Inspector.
You let me walk out of here, right?
And as soon as I'm seen my act on
the show -- as soon as I'm sure they've
really put it on -- I'll tell you where
Jerry is and you'll get him back safe
Fine, Pupkin. Then why don't you watch
the show here with us? That way we're
all happy. (to GIARDELLO) What channel?
We get that one in fine. So what do
you say, Pupkin?
Look, I'll say it again. You let
me go now.
PATTEN motions to the PLAINCLOTHESMEN wearily with his
head. They drag PUPKIN off. PATTEN looks up at the clock.
139 INT: MARSHA'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
MARSHA is frantically attempting to unwrap LANGFORD. With
each pull of the tape, LANGFORD yelps. There is a small
tangle of unwrapped tape collecting around LANGFORD's feet
and sticking to MARSHA's clothes.
Watch my hair!
I'm sorry, baby.
We hear the sound of tape ripping.
140 INT: PATTEN'S OFFICE - NIGHT
PUPKIN is hustled before PATTEN again.
PUPKIN glances at the clock. It is 11:05.
I've got to get out of here.
You're not going anywhere, Pupkin.
Now, where is he?
I'm telling you, Inspector, if I don't
see that show where I want to see it,
Jerry Langford is dead. My people
have instructions to execute him
unless they hear from me by midnight.
PATTEN glances apprehensively at GIARDELLO.
Just where is it you want to watch
141 INT: MARSHA'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
LANGFORD is half unwrapped now. The place is covered with
yard after yard of tape. MARSHA is working frantically to
finish unwrapping LANGFORD who is helping now that his arms
Ow! God damnit! Not so fast!
We haven't all night, baby.
MARSHA rips the tape off LANGFORD.
Oh, I love you, baby. I love you
142 EXT: BROADWAY - NIGHT
A limo drives down Broadway, followed by an unmarked car.
143 INT: THE LIMO - NIGHT
PATTEN and GIARDELLO sit up front, with the DRIVER. PUPKIN
sits in the back between two PLAINCLOTHESMEN. The limo
pulls up in front of the bar-restaurant where RITA works.
PATTEN turns around in the front seat to address PUPKIN.
Here we, are, Pupkin. I don't know
what this is all about, but as soon
as you've seen yourself, you're going
to talk to us or I promise you,
you'll never see daylight again.
I'll need a couple of minutes, Inspector.
After it's over, I want a couple of
minutes. And I'll need ten dollars.
Does anyone of you gentlemen have my
Don't push me, Pupkin.
A condemned man's last request,
Well, I'll tell you right away, the
answer is no, Pupkin.
It's not much of a ransom, Inspector ...
(losing his temper)
Look, I'm drawing the line, that's
all! No ten dollars and that's it.
(emphatically) No -- ten -- dollars!!!!
(in mollifying tones)
Sure. Sure, Inspector. No ten dollars ...
... and no Jerry Langford.
There is a pause as PATTEN stifles himself.
Come on, it's getting late, Inspector.
(exploding to one of his MEN)
Go ahead. Give him his goddamned ten
dollars! Give him twenty! I don't
care. Just get him out of here!
One of the PLAINCLOTHESMEN in the back opens the door and
PUPKIN and the other PLAINCLOTHESMAN get out. The unmarked
car has pulled up behind the limo and other PLAINCLOTHESMEN
stand next to it. PUPKIN and the two PLAINCLOTHESMEN start
walking the ten yards or so to the bar-restaurant.
144 INT: THE BAR-RESTAURANT - NIGHT
PUPKIN marches in flanked by the PLAINCLOTHESMEN. The
clock over the bar reads 11:30. RITA looks up from talking
with a CUSTOMER and sees PUPKIN. She says nothing. She
just looks at him. There are five CUSTOMERS at the bar. A
working class COUPLE in their late fifties are half-stewed,
the man telling the woman that her friend, Maud, isn't
really her friend because she wants $150 for a used
refrigerator. A few seats down, two MEN in their mid-
forties, in wind-breakers are locked in an intense but
inaudible conversation. And, close to the television set
which hangs over the far end of the bar sits a MOUSY MAN
with glasses, who looks like an accountant. He is sipping
a beer, his eyes fixed on the set where the CBS late movie
is just showing its logo. PUPKIN marches up to the bar.
(urgently to RITA)
Turn on Langford. Seven.
Hey! I'm watching this.
RITA keeps staring at PUPKIN.
Just turn it. Come on.
I was here first, mister. You can't
just walk in like this. It isn't
RITA glances at the MAN. PUPKIN can't wait. He vaults
onto the bar and turns the set to the Langford Show, just
as, on screen, he walks from the wings onto the stage to
the applause of the studio audience. Perched atop the bar,
standing next to the image of himself, PUPKIN looks down at
RITA, a smile of pride and triumph on his face.
145 MONTAGE -- NIGHT
PUPKIN walking onto television screens in various homes
across America -- in a chic New York living room, in a
suburban bedroom, in the parlor of an Indiana farmhouse,
in a kitchen where a COUPLE is in the middle of a raging
domestic quarrel, in an otherwise dark bedroom where a
COUPLE is in the throes of lovemaking, in a bar, a station
house, in a television store window display.
146 INT: MARSHA'S APARTMENT -- NIGHT
MARSHA has just removed her dress and stands in her bra and
panties as LANGFORD unwraps the last tape from about his
ankles. The room is swimming in tape, like an enormous
boa constrictor gone mad. MARSHA moves towards LANGFORD,
her arms open.
Oh, baby. Baby.
LANGFORD frees his ankles of tape just in time to side-step
MARSHA and moves quickly to the dining room table where he
grabs the gun. He trains it on her.
MARSHA moves toward him. He pulls the trigger, releasing
a plastic pellet that hits MARSHA in the stomach, stinging her.
LANGFORD glances down in horror at the gun which he now
realizes is a toy and looks up in horror to see MARSHA,
bigger than life, bearing down on him.
Don't be afraid of Marsha, baby.
147 INT: BAR-RESTAURANT - NIGHT
The CUSTOMERS are watching the conclusion of Pupkin's
monologue, along with the PLAINCLOTHESMEN and PUPKIN. WE
COME IN a split second after a joke. The CUSTOMERS laugh,
with the exception of the MOUSY MAN who is waiting, in bad
humor, for Pupkin's act to finish. The PLAINCLOTHESMEN
laugh reluctantly. PUPKIN, no longer standing on the bar,
but back down with the others, watches with fascination.
RITA watches grimly, occasionally glancing at PUPKIN.
PUPKIN on TV
But I figured it this way: better to
be King for a Night than Schmuck for
a Lifetime. (audience and CUSTOMERS
laugh) Good night, ladies and
gentlemen, and God bless you.
The television audience applauds and the CUSTOMERS applaud
and cheer in good humor except for the MOUSY MAN. The
HALF-STEWED MAN leans across his WOMAN to yell at PUPKIN
as the two FRIENDS in windbreakers congratulate PUPKIN at
the same time. There is a brief moment of carnival
HALF-STEWED MAN FIRST FRIEND
Hey, that's pretty good. (to PUPKIN)
Schmuck for a Lifetime! How do you think up all
(to the WOMAN) You know that stuff?
who he's talkin' about?
HALF-STEWED WOMAN It's a trick, that's
What about your all. Larry can do it
brother? as good as him.
HALF-STEWED MAN MOUSY MAN
What about him? Is it over now?
HALF-STEWED WOMAN FIRST FRIEND
He's another one. He's funnier than Larry.
Larry just makes a lot
HALF-STEWED MAN of faces.
(getting a little angry)
I told you to shut up about MOUSY MAN
my brother. (to PUPKIN) Well, if nobody
She doesn't know nuthin'. minds ...
PUPKIN takes all this praise and excitement with a shy
smile of satisfaction, glancing at RITA from time to time
for her reaction. She merely stares at PUPKIN with a sad
expression on her face.
Come on, Rita. Don't spoil the party.
(to the CUSTOMERS) Drinks all around
(in a loud voice, to HALF-
What about the hundred and fifty?
We never saw a penny outta your
That's because my brother is a family
man, not like Phil.
The argument between the HALF-STEWED MAN and his WOMAN
continues at the end of the bar. The two FRIENDS have
resumed their intense conversation.
(to the two FRIENDS)
What'll you have?
I'm okay. Thanks, pal.
The MOUSY MAN has climbed up on the bar and has turned the
TV back to the late movie. He sits enthralled by a scene
of violence courtesy of Tony Curtis as the Boston
Strangler. PUPKIN looks down the bar at the STEWED COUPLE
to offer them drinks, but they are lost in an argument
over the relative merits of their brothers. PUPKIN turns
to the PLAINCLOTHESMEN.
I don't suppose you're allowed anything.
(to RITA) I guess nobody's in a
celebrating mood. How about you?
You want something?
It's getting time, Pupkin.
In a second.
(in a sad, serious voice
That was true, wasn't it? ... about
PUPKIN nods and shrugs.
Now you can say you knew me. That's
Come on, Pupkin.
(to RITA, in a quiet,
I guess I've got go. Take care of
yourself, will you. And when you're
bored -- you know, when you're brushing
your teeth or something, give me a
The PLAINCLOTHESMEN lead PUPKIN out of the bar. The two
FRIENDS are still buried in their intense, private
conversation. The PLAINCLOTHESMEN and PUPKIN walk past
the HALF-STEWED COUPLE.
It's okay to talk about my sister,
but we can't say nuthin' about Phil,
is that it?
She's just had one too many.
The PLAINCLOTHESMEN lead PUPKIN onto the street.
148 EXT: THE BAR - NIGHT
As they walk the few steps to the car, the FIRST
PLAINCLOTHESMAN turns to PUPKIN.
I just don't get it, Pupkin. You're
gonna spend eight years in the can --
"minimum" -- and for what?
Yeah, Pupkin. You threw it all away.
WE CLOSE IN on PUPKIN, smiling.
149 INT: THE JERRY LANGFORD SHOW STUDIO - NIGHT
The STAGE MANAGER is counting down. At zero, he points to
RICK ROSS who launches the orchestra into the Langford Show
theme song. BERT CANTER, standing stage right, speaks into
And now! Direct from New York!
The Jerry Langford Show, starring
Jerry's special guest, out on bail,
Rupert Pupkin, the kidnapping King
The AUDIENCE applauds mightily and the FINAL CREDITS roll.
As they roll, the music to the Langford Show continues and
WE WATCH a MONTAGE that shows PUPKIN progressively taping
LANGFORD to the back of a brass bedstead on stage as the
two of them talk and laugh. By the end of the MONTAGE,
LANGFORD is once again mummified and PUPKIN, having
finished, bows and smiles. WE CLOSE on a FREEZE-FRAME
CLOSE UP of PUPKIN in ecstasy.
December 15, 1976 draft
Screenplay by Paul D. Zimmerman