The Bachelor Party
EXTERIOR. STUYVESANT TOWN HOUSING PROJECT -- DAY.
Under the credits, the CAMERA PANS slowly across the project,
capturing the sober monotony, the endless straight apartment
houses. Seven o'clock in the morning.
INTERIOR. CHARLIE'S BEDROOM
The bedroom of a two-and-a-half-room apartment in the housing
project. It is early morning, but the shades are drawn and
the room is dark. CAMERA moves slowly across the room, over
the large double bed on which Charlie and Helen Samson, a
young couple in their late twenties, are sleeping. They are
sleeping more or less on their sides, facing away from each
other. One of Helen's pajama-clad legs projects from under
the light covers. We close in on Charlie's sleeping face.
The alarm clock at a distant end of the room suddenly bursts
into a soft relentless buzz. Charlie's eyes open. There is a
muffled movement at his side, and Helen gets up on one elbow.
Then she sits up, rises, and pads barefooted -- a rather
pretty girl in rumpled pajamas -- to the alarm clock and
turns it off. Charlie's head turns on the pillow so that he
can watch her. She pads back to the bed now and stands at the
foot, looking down at her husband. She produces a smile, then
turns and shuffles into the bathroom where she turns on the
wall switch. A shaft of light now pours into the bedroom.
Charlie sits up in bed. His shoes and socks are on the floor
by his feet. He reaches down and starts to put them on.
Suddenly, from the recesses of the bathroom, Helen's rather
vague soprano lifts into the first lines of a popular song.
Then it stops as abruptly as it began. Charlie's head slowly
turns to look at the bathroom, back again to the business of
putting on his socks. His face is expressionless, but there
is no mistaking the sodden distaste he has for the world
He just sits on the bed, a young man of twenty-nine, clad
only in his pajama trousers, one sock dangling from his hand,
his head hanging, his shoulders slumped. Behind him, the
sudden noise of rushing tap water, then off. Then his wife
comes back into the bedroom. She is carrying a bath towel
with which she is drying her face. Finished, she drops the
towel on the bed and begins to dress. A moment later, she
pads around the corner of the bed to Charlie's front. She
is still barefooted and wears her pajama top, but she has
exchanged the trousers for a half-slip. Charlie hasn't moved
a muscle since the effort required to lift one sock from the
You think it's too early to call
I don't know.
Charlie shrugs without looking up. Helen goes out of the
bedroom, into the little square of foyer where there is a
telephone table with a telephone on it. She dials, waits. In
the bedroom, Charlie rubs his eyes with two fingers.
Hello, Ma, did I wake you up? This
is Helen.... Well, I'll be going to
work, and I wanted to get ahold of
you before I left. I called you last
night. Where were you and Pop anyway?
I kept calling you every half hour
up till one o'clock.... Oh, yeah? Did
you have a nice time? ...
CAMERA SLOWLY MOVES IN FOR CLOSEUP
of Charlie in bedroom.
Well, listen, Ma, I got something to
tell you. I'm pregnant.... Yeah,
pregnant.... Of course I'm sure.
I've got the report back from the
laboratory.... No, you wouldn't know
him, Doctor Axelrod.... Second month.
He says I can expect the baby in
February.... Well, Grandma, act a
little excited, will you? ... You
bet I'm excited....
CLOSEUP OF CHARLIE
He is not excited. If anything he is miserable. His bowed
head rises slowly. The eyes open. He stares abstractedly
ahead for a moment. Then he sighs a profound sigh of
resignation. Then his eyes close again, and his head slowly
sinks back to its previous abjection.
INTERIOR. THE KITCHEN -- HALF HOUR LATER
Helen, dressed in skirt and blouse now, is preparing two
cups of instant coffee, pouring hot water from the saucepan
into the two cups. The toaster is ticking. A packaged loaf
of white bread is open on the cupboard shelf. Finished with
pouring the water, Helen sets the saucepan back on the stove
and comes out into the dining area. The dinette table is
covered from end to end by open textbooks, several very large
accounting worksheets on which are scrawled meticulous
numbers, a ruler, several pencils and a pen, an ash tray
glutted with cigarettes, a cup and saucer.
(calling to the bedroom)
Do you need any of this or can I
take them off the table?
Charlie appears in the bedroom doorway, dressed and washed
now, a neat, clean young man in a white shirt and neatly
I'll clean that up in a minute.
He disappears back into the bedroom. Helen picks up the ash
tray and the cup and saucer.
How late were you up last night?
INTERIOR. THE BEDROOM
Charlie standing by the window, is picking up his keys, a
few dollar bills, a comb, etc., from a chair and putting
them into his trouser pockets. The blinds of the bedroom
window have been opened, and the high August sun streams in,
whitening Charlie's face. After he has pocketed his odds and
ends, he moves to the chest of drawers on which, among all
sorts of other things, there are several textbooks and an
opened notebook. He stands a moment looking down into the
open notebook, his lips moving ever so little, as he commits
some of his notes to memory. He turns a page of the notebook
back to check something and then goes back to the previous
page. Now he opens one of the smaller drawers in the chest
of drawers. The drawer contains wisps of his wife's stockings
and other feminine things. He finds a small roll of bills and
takes one of them, putting the bill in his pocket and closing
the dresser drawer.
I'm taking five bucks from your
He pauses now to affix a less frowning expression onto his
face and goes out into the little foyer and into the dining
INTERIOR. THE DINING AREA
Helen is seated at the dinette table, sipping coffee and
reading yesterday's newspaper. There are two cups of coffee
on the table.
A guy in my office is getting
married, and I got clipped four
bucks for his wedding present.
He begins assembling the mass of papers and textbooks on the
Who's getting married?
Arnold. I told you about him. The
guy with the sick mother.
(trying to decide
whether he needs a
The rest of the guys are giving him
a bachelor party tonight.
Do you want to go, Charlie?
I got class tonight.
What have you got -- cost accounting?
I think you ought to take off a
night. You ought to go, have a little
fun for yourself. I think you need
that. You go to work all day, you go
to school all night. You can miss one
No, these bachelor parties get kind
of wild sometimes. The whole
philosophy is: it's the groom's last
night of freedom. So it gets kind of
That's a good philosophy to start a
Well, a bunch of guys get together,
they like to tear up the town a
He has assembled his notes and notebooks and texts in a pile
on the table, ready to take with him. He sits down and
begins sipping his coffee. Helen looks back to her newspaper,
frowning a little, then looks up at Charlie again.
I think you oughta go, Charlie. I
know you're upset about the baby.
I'm not upset about the baby.
Come on, Charlie. I know how you
feel. Listen, you don't have to
pretend you're excited about the
baby. We weren't exactly planning
on a baby right now ...
I'm not upset about the baby.
It's a shock. I had some bad days
before I told you. I said: "Oh, boy,
that's all we need. A baby." Then I
said to myself: "If I'm having a
baby, I'm having a baby. That's all
there is to it." And I like the idea.
We're going to have a family,
Charlie. I like the idea.
Well, give me a couple of days to
get used to the idea. I'll be all
I know you will, Charlie. That's why
I think you ought to go to this
bachelor party tonight.
I don't want to go to this bachelor
He looks down at his coffee, embarrassed at the outburst.
I'm sorry I yelled.
Don't be silly.
I better get going. Kenny's probably
waiting for me now. I'm sorry I
yelled like that.
What are you sorry about? Don't I
yell at you all the time?
WE STAY ON HELEN, as she reads her newspaper, but there is
a faint frown on her face.
INTERIOR. LOCAL PLATFORM EASTSIDE IRT SUBWAY
An express train hurtles southward. We see it flashing by
through the concrete pillars of the subway.
IRT EXPRESS HURTLING SOUTHWARD
Charlie and another young man, named Kenneth, are seated in
a crowded subway car. People are standing tightly in the
aisles. Kenneth is an amiable young man of thirty-odd. He
has his jacket off and his tie loosened as a concession to
the August heat. Charlie is neatly and coolly dressed. He
has two notebooks and a battered text in his lap. He is
reading the text. Two young white-collar workers on their
way to work. They ride along silently for a moment. Kenneth
is rather stealthily concerned with a full-busted young
woman who is standing directly in front of him, holding on
to a strap. It is summertime, and the girls all wear light
summer frocks. There is a feeling of wistful sensuality to
You going to Arnold's bachelor party?
I don't think so, Kennie.
I got two classes tonight.
Yeah, I was going to go, but I think
I better not, because my kid, the
young one, the girl, she's been
acting up again lately. She's got
some kind of allergy, the doctors
don't know what.
These bachelor parties get kind of
wild sometimes. Eddie Watkins is
making all the arrangements. He's
probably got us lined up with a
bunch of chorus girls.
Yeah, do you think so?
You know Eddie.
Yeah, boy, he really lives it up,
don't he? Did you see that blonde
who picked him up for lunch last
week? Boy, sometimes I wish I was a
bachelor. Well, you know what I mean.
I never seem to get out of the house
any more, you know what I mean?
About once a week, I go to the
movies. We never even see the whole
picture. My wife starts worrying
about the kids. My youngest kid, the
girl, she's got some kind of rash.
We don't know what it is. I never
seem to see anybody any more. Do you
know how long it is since I've seen
Willie Duff? I haven't seen Willie
in about six months. My wife can't
stand his wife. You ever seen her,
No, I didn't know Willie too well.
Boy, wait'll you have kids, boy.
You'll never get out of the house.
Helen's pregnant now.
Oh, that's wonderful, Charlie,
The two young husbands look down again at their hands and
ride along silently. Kenneth sneaks a quick look up at the
girl standing in front of him, and then lets his attention
drift down the length of the car.
Hey, there's a guy down there,
trying to pick up a girl down there.
He is referring to a Young Fellow who elbowed his way down
through the crowded aisle but who stopped abruptly when he
noticed an attractive girl, seated about three seats down
from Kenneth. The Girl is reading a newspaper. The Young
Fellow stares at her. The Girl, aware of this sudden
attention, looks briefly up from her newspaper. The Young
Fellow smiles pleasantly. The Girl, with a show of
annoyance, looks back to her newspaper.
Were you with us about eight years
ago when I picked up that chick in
front of the bus stop in Paterson,
When was this?
Yeah, you were there. You were with
that girl from Brooklyn. We just
came from Palisades Amusement Park,
and we were driving Frankie Klein's
girl home, and the car broke down
right in the middle of Route One.
(beginning to laugh)
And Frankie opened up the hood and
the water cap blew right up in the
And the cop came over ...
That's right, the cop. He thought
Frankie shot off a gun....
They are both laughing audibly now at the memory.
He was going to pull us all in. Oh,
Frankie, he was funny.
Oh, that was a lot of fun, those
Yeah, they were.
The little spasm of laughter is over. A sort of ruefulness
settles down on the two young husbands. Kenneth looks lazily
down the aisle to see how the Young Fellow is making out
with The Girl. He seems to be making out all right. They are
looking steadily at each other now. Kenneth turns back to
Hey, this guy's making out all right.
She's giving him the eye now.
Charlie leans forward to see this progress.
(looking out the
window at the passing
Where are we now, Prince Street? I
bet you he picks her up before we
hit Chambers Street.
Somehow this has a sobering effect on the two young husbands.
Again they sit silently as the train buckets along.
Boy, I'm bushed today. I was up till
two o'clock last night on this thing
here. I'm getting to be a nervous
wreck. I snarled at Helen this
morning. I think this whole night
school business is getting me down.
I don't see how you do it.
Neither do I. I thought I was
through with it. The plan was for me
to quit work and go to college full
time and cram through in a year or
so. But now we got this kid coming,
and Helen's going to have to quit
her job, and that sets me back where
I started from. Another five years
of this, summers included.
I couldn't do it, man, I'll tell you
that. I wish I could, but I couldn't.
Oh, what am I griping about? This is
the life I picked out for myself.
But it's a grind, boy, I tell you.
They sit silently again. The train hurtles along and then
suddenly slows as it approaches a stop. There is a rustle of
movement among the passengers in the subway car. A few
people start edging toward the doors. The Girl reading the
newspaper now folds her newspaper and stands almost directly
in the Young Fellow's face. They regard each other.
(to the girl)
Excuse me, can you tell me how to
get to the Nassau Street exit?
Well ... well, at the top of the
stairs, you'll see all the signs.
Are you getting off here?
Well, I'll follow you then. That'll
be easier, if you don't mind.
No, not at all.
They start to crowd down the aisle. The train is chugging
into the Chambers Street station, and we can see the
yellowed lights of the platform and the quick blur of faces.
The two young husbands, who had been following the byplay
between The Girl and the Young Fellow, now watch them slowly
exit. There is an expression of poignant wistfulness on both
EXTERIOR. THE OFFICE
We look down on the bookkeeping department of a life
insurance company in downtown Manhattan area around Pine
Street. It is a fairly large room, large enough to hold
eleven desks. But you get the feeling that this is one of
the smaller offices on the floor. You get the feeling that
this company occupies three or four floors of this building.
Despite the size of the office, it has a cluttered look.
Each desk has piles of paper on it, and all the impedimenta
of the bookkeeper -- the pens and pencils, the adding
machine, the telephone. Some of the desks have typewriters.
Along the walls there are rows of filing cabinets and wall
bins stocked with large worksheets and thick ledgers. At
the far end of the room, there is a row of windows, but it
is still necessary to keep the overhead fluorescent lights
on all day. They are on now. There are two middle-aged
women standing, murmuring to each other, and a rather
heavy-set balding man in his late forties, sitting at a
desk in his shirt sleeves, already hard at work, although
it is still ten minutes shy of eight-thirty.
Kenneth and Charlie enter. Ad lib hellos between them and
the two middle-aged women. Charlie moves to the coat rack to
hang up his jacket, drops off his books on his desk, starts
for the coat rack. Behind Charlie, we see Kenneth, carrying
his jacket, moving to his desk, up where the middle-aged man
Walter, the middle-aged man, nods his good mornings.
(poking in his desk
Walter, what time do you come in in
the mornings? You're making us all
look lousy, you know that? I get
the feeling sometimes, you stay here
Walter merely nods, doesn't bother to look up from the work.
Kenneth finds a stick of gum in his drawer, unwraps it. Two
more women, gray-haired and bespectacled, come into the
office. There is an ad lib mumble of hellos in background.
Charlie hangs up his jacket on the coat rack.
Arnold in yet?
He starts his vacation today. He's
getting married Sunday, you know.
CLOSEUP of Charlie looking out the window into the bright
August morning. His face is just a little ruffled by a
frown, and there is a kind of pain in his eyes. Behind him,
Walter and Kenneth.
(a nervous, anxious man)
Well, the doctor was over last night.
Brought over the X rays; brought
over the allergy tests. Brought over
a bill for sixty-eight dollars. I
said to him: "Doctor, you're a young
man, professional, highly educated,
four years of college, two years of
premedical training, several years
of interning, of residency. If
you're so smart, how can you charge
me sixty-eight dollars? One thing
they apparently didn't teach you in
medical school. You can't get blood
from a stone."
So what's wrong with you, Walter?
What's wrong? I have to go to
Arizona, that's what's wrong. I have
asthma. When I was a kid, they
called it hay fever, and you carried
a bag around your neck. Asafetida.
Now, they call it asthma, and you
have to go to Arizona. I said to him:
"Doctor, you're a professional man,
four years of college, premedical
school, Bellevue, several diplomas.
Answer me a question. Who's going to
pay for Arizona?" I said to him:
"Doctor," I said, "perhaps you have
the illusion I am the Aga Khan. I
have a bearing about me, perhaps,
that misleads you to believe I have
blood ties with the Whitneys and the
Rockefellers. This isn't true."
Arizona. Did you ever hear of such
How serious is it, Walter?
Serious. Nothing serious. I have hay
fever, I sneeze a couple of times.
The idiot told my wife I have to go
to Arizona, and she wouldn't leave
me alone all night. She's already
packing the bags. I said: "For
heaven's sakes, you listen to
doctors, we'll all be dead." My son,
Harold, believe me, he's going to be
a doctor. That's some racket, boy.
CLOSEUP of Charlie, still at the window, when a bell
suddenly clangs, indicating the start of the workday. The
sudden jangle makes him start, and he closes his eyes
briefly against the noise. Walter, in background, who had
risen and was bent over Kenneth's desk, darts nervously back
to his own desk.
You better get to work. Hey, Charlie,
that was the bell. I think Flaherty
is here this morning. We'll all be
fired today. I have a feeling.
He hunches over his ledgers again, his anxious, harried face
drawn into intense wrinkles of concentration. Several other
women have come into the office by now, and there is a
general movement to the desks. There is the click of a
typewriter, and Walter runs his fingers glibly over the
adding machine on his desk. The day has started.
After a moment, Charlie turns from the window and comes back
to his desk, sinks down onto his chair.
INTERIOR. THE OFFICE -- TWENTY MINUTES LATER
We look down on the bookkeeping department. All the desks
are occupied but two. There are six women and our three men.
The office is silent with industry, everybody's head bent
over his desk. There is the occasional punctuation of an
adding machine or a typewriter or a phone ringing.
Our three men are bent over their tally sheets, worksheets,
and ledgers, occasionally reaching up to quickly tabulate
something on the adding machine. After a moment, Walter says:
up from his work)
You fellows going to Arnold's party
(without looking up)
No, I'm not going, are you?
No. Eddie already hooked me for four
bucks for Arnold's present. This
dinner is going to cost another
couple of good dollars.
It looks like nobody's going to
Arnold's bachelor party.
You ain't going?
No, I'm not going.
Eddie's going to be mad.
I told Eddie last week I couldn't
make it. I've got school. Eddie's a
bachelor. It's all right for him to
go rooting around town, picking up
Yeah, you get married you give that
kind of thing up.
Yeah, Charlie says Eddie has a whole
bunch of chorus girls lined up for
Walter's head comes up for the first time.
I didn't say that. I just said that
if I knew Eddie, we'd probably wind
up with some of his crazy girl
Walter looks back down to his work again.
I don't know where he gets all these
girls. He's a screwy looking jerk.
Did you see that blonde who was up
here looking for him last week?
Yeah. He told me she was a
television actress. I think I saw
her once on "Studio One." She was in
a coal mine with some stir-crazy
coalminer who was trying to strangle
her with a necktie.
I'd like to strangle her with a
Now, Walter, an old married man like
you, with asthma and everything.
Walter looks up suddenly from his work, a strange sting of
pain crossing his face.
I get real jealous of Eddie
sometimes. He's as free as a bird.
Did you see that convertible he's
Yeah, he really banged it up I hear.
You ought to see the old heap I've
got. He walks out of here on payday,
he can spend the whole works on
having himself a good time. I walk
out of here, and I got three kids
and a wife, all of them with their
palms out. I lost two bucks playing
poker at my house last week. It was
an economic catastrophe. My wife
didn't sleep all night.
He's late again.
He'll be twenty minutes late again.
If Flaherty walked in now, he'd fire
him. If that ever happened to me, I
think I'd kill myself. What does
Eddie care? So he scrambles around
for another job. Flaherty told me
last week I had too many days off.
I told him I was sick in bed. What
do you want me to do?
He turns back again to his work, his face creased with
anxiety. The three men work silently for a moment. Then the
office door opens, and a man of about thirty-five, a little
stout, but rather casual in his dress, wearing steel-rimmed
glasses, enters. This is Eddie Watkins, the office bachelor.
He seems to have had very little sleep the night before. His
eyes, behind the wire-rimmed glasses, are heavy-lidded. A
cigarette dangles listlessly, from his mouth. There is
something of the bacchanalian libertine about Eddie. There
is a perfunctory exchange of hellos and good mornings,
establishing that this is Eddie. He shuffles with ineffable
weariness to his desk.
Hi, Eddie, you're early today, only
twenty minutes late, what happened?
Flaherty come in yet?
Eddie sits down at his desk, pulls his cigarette
automatically for a moment. Then he reaches over to a pile
of telephone directories on the floor beside his desk, pulls
up the Manhattan one, flips through the pages, finding the
number he wants. He picks up the phone.
Mary, give me an outside line....
(he pauses, checks
the number in the
phone book again,
Hello, is this Leathercraft on
Madison Avenue? ... This is Mr.
Watkins. I was in about a week ago.
I ordered a military set and a
wallet. They were supposed to be
ready yesterday.... Yes, please,
would you? ...
(he is searching
his pockets while
he waits, finds a
piece of paper,
pulls it out)
Yeah, a military set and a wallet....
Is that what we bought poor Arnold?
That's right. The following
inscriptions should be on them:
(reads from the paper)
On the military set: "To Arnold:
Best wishes on your marriage from
Alice, Charlie, Eddie, Evelyn,
Jeanette with two t's, Kenneth,
Lucy, Mary, Olga, Walter, and
Flaherty." Now on the wallet ...
Yeah, what? .... Yeah, that's right
-- Flaherty. Now, on the wallet,
the following inscription: "To my
Best Friend Arnold from his Best Man
Eddie." ... No, to my best friend
Arnold. ... That's right. "From his
best man Eddie" ... Now, can I come
in at lunch and pick them up? ...
A young woman comes into the office, goes to Walter's desk
and drops some papers before him.
What's this, Jeanette?
It's from finance, don't ask me.
This is the girl in the office who goes to the water cooler
three times a morning and all the men covertly watch her.
She is cute, but attractive more by comparison to the other
women in the office. Nevertheless, all the men, including
Eddie and Charlie, let their eyes cautiously watch her as
she leaves, her sheath dress tight on her hips.
Eddie, who has hung up, now rubs his eyes with two fingers to
clear his head and picks up the phone again.
Mary, give me the Hotel Westmore.
(hands Kennie paper)
This isn't for me -- it's for you.
(to the others)
Now who owes me on the presents?
Charlie, you owe me?
I gave you four bucks yesterday....
I owe you, Eddie. I'll pay you
Miss Frances Kelley, please. I
think it's room 417....
The three heads around him look slowly up from their
respective work, naked interest manifest on their faces.
(calling to one
of the women in
Hey, Evelyn, you owe me four bucks.
All right. I know.
Hello, Frances, this is Eddie....
All right, wait a minute. Give me a
chance to explain.... I know I woke
you up.... All right, let me tell
you. You know I'm supposed to be the
best man at this fellow Arnold's
wedding. So I called him up last
night because I didn't know whether
I was supposed to wear tuxedo or
tails. Well, he didn't know either,
so he said: "Come on over to my
girl's house with me tonight.
They're making all the arrangements
for the wedding now." So I called
you and left a message at the desk
saying I couldn't get over till
about ten o'clock.... All right!
That's what I'm going to explain!
... Thank you.
against his chest
and looks at his
air of a man being
tried just a little
too much. Returns
receiver to his ear,
listens for a moment)
All right, so I had to go over to
Arnold's girl's house with Arnold
last night. Well, there was about
thirty people there, and, man, you
never saw such a crazy mess. There
was this little bald-headed guy
there. He's the bride's uncle. He's
come all the way down from Boston
with his whole family to go to the
wedding. The only trouble was, he
wasn't invited. Well, this crazy
uncle, he grabs ahold of me, he
starts shaking me by the lapels. So
I said: "What do you want from me?
I ain't the groom! I'm just trying
to find out whether I'm supposed to
wear tuxedo or tails."
(apparently this got
a laugh. Eddie breaks
into a smile)
Funny, huh? ... Look, Frances. I
have to go to work now. I'm calling
you from the office. How about
letting me make this up to you? I'll
take you out to dinner Saturday
night.... I can't make it tonight.
The bachelor party's tonight....
All right, Saturday night.... It's a
date.... S'help me.... I swear, right
on time. Eight-thirty, okay? ...
Okay, we'll have a ball. Goodbye, go
back to sleep.
He hangs up. The three married men look down again to their
ledgers and tap away again on their adding machines. Eddie
sits slumped in his seat for a moment.
What did I just tell that girl,
(picks up phone)
Mary, give me Columbus 5-1098....
What do you mean personal calls!
These are business calls! Well, stop
listening to other people's
conversations.... What have you got,
stock in the company? Columbus
Listen, Eddie, I don't think I can
go tonight. My father-in-law's in
from Akron, Ohio, and----
Hello, who is this, Mrs. Stebbins?
... This is Eddie, Mrs. Stebbins. I
wonder if I can talk to Muriel....
Could I speak to her? ... Thank
The three married men each look up slowly again, naked envy
on each face.
Muriel, baby, listen, sweetie, I
can't make it Saturday night.... I'm
all loused up with this wedding I'm
supposed to be the best man at....
We have to rehearse the ceremony.
You'd think they were getting
married on television.... Yes,
sweetie, why don't I call you Monday.
Maybe, we'll work out something
before you go back to California....
All right, sweetie, good-bye.
He hangs up, sits a moment, then finally removes the
cigarette from his mouth, crushes it in his ash tray, and
turns to the others.
Well, what do you say? I'm going to
call Louie and make a reservation
for a table for tonight. Who's
coming and who isn't? Walter, you're
coming, right? It won't cost you
more than three-fifty for the whole
meal. What do you say, Walter? You
only live once.
That's right. You only live once.
Well, yes or no?
All right, I'll come.
Yeah, I'll get out of the house for
How about you, Charlie?
Charlie is frowning down at a sheaf of adding machine totals
in front of him.
I don't think so, Eddie.
Ah, come on, Charlie, you got to
bust loose every now and then. We'll
have a couple of drinks.
(picks up phone)
Mary, give me an outside line and
don't give me no trouble....
Come on, Charlie, it's a short life,
Move in for CLOSEUP of Charlie, frowning. Over this, Eddie's
Hello, hello, Louie? Is this Louie?
... Louie, this is Eddie Watkins.
I'd like to reserve a table for
four for tonight.... For four ...
Hey, Eddie ...
Count me in.
He immediately bends back to his work, takes his pencil up
again. CAMERA PULLS QUICKLY UP AND AWAY until we have an
ANGLE SHOT looking down at their desks in various positions
Louie, make that five.... Five guys
... Yeah, a bachelor party ...
EXTERIOR. DOWNTOWN NEW YORK CITY -- NIGHT
FADE IN with a big loud blare on Eighth Street in Greenwich
Village on a warm August night. Packed sidewalks, jammed
traffic, taxis, trucks, buses, honking of horns, etc.
Man-we're-going-to-have-a-ball type feeling.
EXTERIOR. STREET -- NIGHT
Thirteenth Street off Sixth Avenue not so blary and lit up
as the main drags, but traffic is heavy, and there are lots
of people on the sidewalks. There are a number of restaurants
dotting the street with their little striped awnings and
modest neons. If we are on our toes, we notice one neon that
INTERIOR. LOUIE'S RESTAURANT
The entire interior isn't too much to show, really. It's a
small restaurant, but it is packed. Waiters scurry here and
there. People jammer and jab. Hustle and bustle. In
background, we can pick out our bachelor party, five men now,
clustered around a table, yakking it up.
WIDE SHOT of our bachelor party, showing all five. They all
seem to be in the best of spirits. The new member of the cast
is Arnold, the groom, a towheaded, pleasant-looking young man
of thirty, shy to the point of being noticeable. Of all the
men at the party, he is the quietest. He sits, a smile nailed
onto his face, turning his head from one friend to another as
they talk, enjoying the rare privilege of being liked. The
dinner is over. During the ensuing scene, a bus boy continues
to remove the used dishes. Several large bottles of beer and
two fifths of Scotch are on the table. There is a welter of
variously assorted glasses. Eddie, Walter, and Kenneth are
smoking cigars, Charlie a cigarette. The Groom is not
smoking. We have cut into the scene during a jumble of
conversation. Walter is talking to Charlie, whose head is
bent toward the older man. Kenneth is trying to tell the
Groom a joke, but the Groom's attention is being distracted
by Eddie, who is leaning across the table trying to get
Charlie's attention. Ad libs.
Three hundred pounds! Isn't she kind
of fat? No, man, tall! Hey, waiter!
Hey, Charlie ...
... so we were stationed right
outside Paris, about eight miles, a
town called Chatou ...
... hey, Charlie ...
... so the first night, a whole
bunch of us swiped a jeep out of the
motor court. We had a feller there
who was a tech sergeant in the motor
court. Oh, what a character he was!
He used to get loaded every night on
that vanilla extract.
Hey, Charlie ...
What do you want, Eddie?
Hey, Charlie, did I ever tell you
about the time I was stationed at
Buckley Field in Denver, and I
picked up this girl in Lakeside
Hey, Eddie, listen to this story
I'm telling Charlie. Hey, Arnold,
I'm telling Charlie about the time
me and that crazy tech sergeant
from the motor court got loaded on
vanilla extract and went to Paris
... Hey, Kenneth ...
When do the Giants come back from
their road trip, does anybody know?
Hey, let's give out the presents now.
Hey, Kenneth, listen to this story.
I was stationed outside of Paris,
about eight miles ...
Oh, that Paris! I was there for two
days! Clubs! You had to beat the
women off with clubs! ...
(to people at
What ...? Oh, it's a bachelor party
-- this guy's getting married.
Listen, I want to give the
Well, let me tell you what
Hey, you know what was a great town
for women, Hamburg!
Hamburg! Clubs! Clubs! You had to
beat them off with clubs! Hey,
waiter -- who's our waiter?
Hey, Arnold, enjoying yourself?
The first night I was in Hamburg,
two Frauleins come walking right in
the barracks. So I said to the
Walter, who is pretty lit, suddenly stands and bangs the
table mightily with his fist.
The best fighting outfit in the
whole fighting army was the fighting
Hundred and Fourth Infantry Division,
General Terry Allen commanding!
This brings the jumbled conversation to a halt. Walter
surveys the other four, looking for possible challenges,
then sits heavily down.
Well, now that we got that settled....
I'm with you, Walter.
We believe you, Walter.
I'd like to make a little speech to
our guest of honor and mutual friend,
Arnold Craig. Arnold, a bunch of us
down the office, the girls too, all
chipped in, and we got you a couple
of small gifts....
Eddie crosses to extra chair, picks up wrapped gifts, crosses
back to his place.
(whispering to Kenneth)
These are the gag gifts.
Let's see, what's this one? Oh, yeah.
Arnold, we figured Louise might be
very sleepy on your wedding night,
so we thought you might want
something to keep you warm.
Walter leans forward to see what the tissue-wrapped parcel
Arnold is now unwrapping is.
What is it? What is it?
Arnold holds a hot-water bottle aloft. Walter is seized with
a paroxysm of laughter at this immensely Rabelaisian gift.
It's a hot-water bottle!
Okay, Walter, okay.
Hey, did you see that? Hey, he bought
him a hot-water bottle for his
wedding night. Hey, that's funny ...
Hey, Eddie, you should have bought
him an ice pack for after tonight.
Walter, take it easy.... Now, this
one, Arnold, this one is something
to keep you busy on cold winter
(crosses to Arnold;
to the others)
This ought to be good.
Look at Walter.
Walter has come around behind Arnold's chair and can hardly
wait to see what the next joke is.
Hey, these are funny. Who bought
these? You buy these, Eddie? These
are funny. You got a good sense of
Arnold unwraps the parcel, holds out a miniature baby bottle.
This is too much for Walter; how funny can you get? He
clutches his sides.
Hey, did you guys see that? Hey, did
you guys see that?
Come on, Walter, sit down.
Charlie and Kenneth are smiling appreciatively. Walter
crosses with bottle, sits, starts pouring whisky into baby
Eddie got a good sense of humor, you
Boy, old Walter is crocked.
halfway in his chair)
Listen, I want to thank you. Really.
I really want to thank you fellows.
We haven't got to the serious
presents yet, Arnold.
A hush falls over the assembled guests. Arnold composes his
face into a solemn expression and looks down at the
Well, in all seriousness, Arnold,
seriously, I don't know why you
picked me to be your best man, but I
am deeply honored. I guess it's
because we're both Dodger fans, and
I'm going to miss you at next
Tuesday's night game when the
Pittsburgh Pirates invade Ebbets
Field. We always had a lot of fun
together, and, seriously, Arnold,
in all seriousness, good luck on
your wedding, but see if you can't
get out of the house occasionally,
see a night game or even a Sunday
doubleheader with your old buddy,
This touching address has brought a note of sadness to the
gathering. Indeed, there are tears in Walter's and Arnold's
two neatly wrapped
Well, anyway, in all seriousness,
here are a couple of presents from
all of us in the office and good
Arnold takes the presents, stands, head bowed. Eddie sits
and all faces turn to Arnold.
Well, I just want to thank you
fellows. I don't know what to say.
I just want to thank you.
Open the presents, Arnold.
I will. I just want to say, Eddie,
that when the Pirates invade Ebbets
Field next Tuesday night, I'm going
to be sitting right there in Section
37 there right with you.
You'll be on your honeymoon next
This interesting information gives Arnold pause.
Gee, that's right.
Arnold, you're getting married
Sunday, did you forget?
Look at him blush.
No, I didn't forget. It's just that
... Gee, that's right. Sunday.
What's today, Thursday?
KENNETH and EDDIE
Boy, it's here, isn't it? I guess
I've been running around so much the
last couple of weeks, I guess the
wedding snuck up on me.
I think Arnold's having a little
buck fever. Does anyone know what
our waiter looks like?
You know who didn't want to chip in
for Arnold's presents? ...
Arnold'll be all right. Have a drink,
I had my basic training in Camp Croft,
South Carolina, near Spartanburg.
I was at Maxwell Field, what a
Walter, what ever happened when you
and that tech sergeant from the
motor pool got loaded on vanilla
What tech sergeant?
Walter, you're crocked.
Open up the presents -- see what you
Hey, are you our waiter? Bring us
some ice. I got him -- I got our
It was sure nice of you fellows.
The voices have risen again into the jumbled high spirits
that opened the scene.
Hey, man, we're having a ball!
EXTERIOR. EIGHTH STREET -- NIGHT
We look down on Eighth Street in Greenwich Village. It is
eight thirty at night. It is a fairly active and well-lit
street, bright with neons and movie marquees and lit-up
shops. Our five carousers are marching down the sidewalk,
that is four of them are on the sidewalk. Walter can't quite
decide whether he wants to walk on the sidewalk or in the
street. He keeps hopping in and out between the parked cars,
running to catch up when he falls behind. They are all
feeling pretty good. Arnold is singing in a wavering
Ever to theeeee!
CLOSER SHOT of the five carousers.
Fairest of high schools ...
How did he ever get on this alma
... Give her three times three
Oh, fellows ...
Rah! Rah! Rah!
ANOTHER SHOT of the five carousers, Walter whistling at two
Long may we cherish thee
Faithful we'll be.
Clinton, oh, Clinton
For you and me ...
Crash through that line of blue
And send the backs around the end.
There he goes with those fullbacks
Rah! Rah! Rah!
EXTERIOR. GREENWICH AVENUE AND TENTH STREET -- NIGHT
GROUP SHOT of our five carousers paused on the curb, waiting
for the lights to change in their favor. Greenwich Avenue
traffic is pretty heavy, going in both directions. The five
men are kind of strung out along the curb with Charlie being
the last in line. Standing beside him, also waiting for the
light to change, is a good-looking, well-dressed, chic young
woman of twenty-four or five.
Where we going? Eddie's place to
Boy, just wait till you see these
movies! Hey, Charlie, hey Charlie ...
Who's your beautiful friend, Charlie?
Charlie turns and regards the pretty young woman.
(to the girl)
Excuse me. My friend down there
wants to know who you are.
The young woman, who for our own mysterious purposes we shall
refer to as The Existentialist, regards the five reasonably
tight young men all staring at her. Kenneth has already begun
(with a Mona Lisa smile)
Where are you all from, out-of-town?
Isn't that right, fellers? We're
from Indiana, right?
Indiana! Indiana, man!
Kenneth and Arnold, to whom this incident is already
unbearably funny, have turned away and are clutching their
sides, trying to suppress a fit of giggles.
(to The Existentialist)
We're from the Hoosier State, ma'am...
Terre Haute! We're from Terre Haute!
(to The Existentialist)
We're from Terre Haute, and we've
come to the big city looking for a
good time, and we just don't know
what to do with ourselves, ma'am.
Look at that Charlie operate.
Must be a convention in town.
We've just come off the ranch there,
honey, and we're just raring. Is
that right, men? Are we raring?
We're raring, boy, we're raring!
Hey, Charlie, cut it out, will you?
The lights change and The Existentialist starts off across
Greenwich Avenue to the west side of the street. The five
carousers follow right along after her. That is, Charlie
dogs along behind The Existentialist as they cross the
street. Walter and Eddie are close behind him, listening to
Charlie's pitch. Kenneth and Arnold, embarrassed and
giggling, stagger along behind.
(chugging along behind
We're down here in Greenwich Village
looking for some wild bohemians. Do
you happen to know any wild
All right, fellows, enough's enough,
She steps up to the sidewalk on the west side of Greenwich
Avenue and hurries along down Tenth Street to a little house
about four doors down, the five carousers on her heels like
a pack of puppies.
(hurrying along after
I'm something of a poet myself,
ma'am. Many's the long night in the
bunkhouse where I sat by myself and
wrote by the flickering light of a
kerosene lamp. Could I read you some
of my poems, ma'am? I know they
ain't much, but they're from the
The Existentialist pauses in her hurried walk down Tenth
Street to examine Charlie with some interest.
You have a sense of humor, don't you?
You're going great, man, don't stop
The Existentialist goes up the two little steps to the front
door of the house and rings the bell.
(to The Existentialist)
Where are you going, honey?
The Existentialist waits composed and patient for someone to
answer her ring. Charlie has wandered back to Arnold and
Kenneth, and the three of them are now suffused with
laughter. Kenneth has been laughing so much, tears are
coming out of his eyes. He walks around in little circles
clutching his sides. Several passersby hurry by, noting the
strange little group on the sidewalk.
(to The Existentialist)
What's going on in there, honey?
There's a party going on. I'm not sure
I'm invited myself, so I can't really
Sure you can.
The door opens and a woman in a tea gown stands there
looking at The Existentialist and then at the five men on
the sidewalk. Behind her, there is evidence of a party going
How nice to see you, darling. Who
are your friends?
I haven't the vaguest idea. I was
ambushed crossing Greenwich Avenue
by a tribe of the Terre Haute
(she waves a vague
hand in a sort of
shooing motion at
the five men on
Go away, you men. Go back to the
Biltmore Hotel and put on your red
I always thought you city people
were more hospitable to us poor
The other four carousers are laughing too much to even talk.
Charlie has ambled up to The Existentialist, who is peering
over her hostess into the room behind her.
(to The Existentialist,
I'm sorry, miss. A friend of ours is
getting married here, and we're just
The Existentialist looks into the young man's smiling,
rather winning face.
Why don't you come back after you
get rid of your friends.
He'll be back!
She turns abruptly and disappears past the hostess into the
Man, she likes you, man!
Now, you boys go away.
She backs into her house and closes the door. Eddie starts
up the steps to the door. The other four just roar with
laughter, clutch their sides, and giggle and snort.
Well, what do you say, men, are we
going to this party, or aren't we?
Come on, Eddie. I thought you had
some movies you want to show us.
What do you want to see movies for?
You got the real thing right here.
Eddie, we're married men here.
Come on, let's crash this party.
I've been to these Greenwich Village
parties. Man, they're wild.
Come on, Eddie, let's go up to your
place, see these movies.
back to the others,
says to Charlie)
Man, you were going strong with that
girl. You could have scored. She's
just waiting for you. Go in after
Come on, Eddie. Let's go see the
(to the others)
All right, I live about three blocks
down. You guys want to see movies,
all right, let's go see movies.
INTERIOR. THE BACHELOR'S APARTMENT
Eddie is scowling over a home-style movie projector,
muttering over the intricacies of fitting a reel into the
ratchets. Arnold has suddenly become voluble and is gabbing
away at him. CAMERA DOLLIES AROUND THEM during the scene so
that we can see into the living room of the apartment,
appointed in simple but neat masculine taste, where the
other three men move in and out of view. Right now, we are
concerned only with Arnold and Eddie.
... we're moving in with her mother
and father. I don't know if that's
such a good idea. What do you think?
We haven't got an apartment yet, and
we figure we'll live a year with her
folks, save on the rent, see?
Kenneth comes back from the kitchen with three open bottles
Anybody want a bottle of beer?
She's a widow, and that bothers me a
little. I don't know why. She's two
years older than me. I don't know if
you know that. Her husband got killed
in Korea. She's a cousin of mine, you
the living room)
Who wants a bottle of beer?
I'll take a bottle.
Yeah, give me one.
A third cousin, something like that.
It's not good for cousins to marry,
is it? What do you think of her? I
know she's not terribly pretty, but
I mean ...
at the projector)
Arnold, leave me alone a minute,
(turns to the others in
living room, plants a
huge smile on his face)
Well, I'm getting married Sunday.
Having fun, Walter?
Fun. A bunch of grown men sitting
around waiting to look at college
I swear, I never thought two months
ago I was ever going to get married.
I still don't know how it happened....
Hey, somebody turn off the lights.
Walter is promptly up to turn off the lights.
Hey, you know, you've got a nice
The room is abruptly flooded in darkness. A beam of light
shoots out from the projector. It seems pointed at the
window. Arnold stands up directly in the shaft of light.
I was just taking her out. I didn't
know it was so serious.
Arnold, get out of the way, will
Arnold moves a step, still in the shaft of light, his shadow
huge on the wall. Eddie, muttering, jockeys the projector
around trying to focus it on the screen. The square of light
and some flickering images wander up and down a wall.
... We're sitting in the car, so she
says: "Well, Arnold, we've been
going together six months now. I
think it's time we decided whether
we were being serious."
Hey, Eddie, you got it on the window.
I didn't know it was so serious. I
didn't even know we were going
together. I just took her out every
now and then.
Arnold, you're funny.
Turn on the lights again, will you,
What's the matter?
I forgot to loop it over this loop
Walter crosses to light switch. The room is flooded in light
Oh, for crying out loud.
I can't even remember what she looks
like! I just saw her this afternoon!
Arnold, have a bottle of beer. It's
not so terrible.
Boy, I tell you. It's for the rest
of your life when you get married.
This is a big decision to make.
Does anybody seriously want to see
Eddie is furiously winding and unwinding spools. CAMERA HAS
DOLLIED AROUND so that we are looking back up the living
room toward the projector and the men.
I could be making a serious mistake.
Arnold, you're in the way again.
Come on now. All right, put off the
The room is flooded in darkness again. Walter hurries to a
chair. The square of light is reasonably focused, just an
edge trailing off onto the drapes of the window. Numbers
flicker quickly on on the screen. The rest of the scene we
see looking into the whitened faces of the five men at their
various posts. Arnold crosses, stands back of Walter.
Here we go.
Hey, Arnold, if this is the one I
think it is, there's one part here I
want you to see.
(a picture of determined
boredom, but putting on
This is for kids.
Says he -- putting on his glasses.
"The Baseball Game." That's a nice
title, don't you think?
This is the one, Arnold. There's a
guy in here who looks just like
Hey, she's not bad. Usually, the
girls in these things look like
(his eyes glued
to the screen)
A bunch of grown men ...
He breaks off as apparently some interesting action has
started on screen. An involuntary grunt of acknowledgment
I got these pictures off my dentist.
I don't know where be got them.
There you are, Arnold, that's you.
Yeah, it does look like Arnold.
Doesn't that look like Arnold?
Who's looking at the guy?
Arnold, you've got a great career
ahead of you.
That girl looks like the girl
Charlie picked up just before.
That fellow there is not a bad actor.
Actor. You could play that part
pretty easy yourself.
I think the Daily News gave this one
I'd like to see this in Three-D.
The side comments drift off for a moment, and a sort of
frozen attention settles on the white faces. Each face is
sort of set in a mold of determined disinterest, but the
eyes are all watching.
Well, I'll just watch one of them.
Then, I think I'll just go home.
He wets his lips, lifts the bottle of beer to his mouth and
takes a swallow. His eyes never leave the screen.
INTERIOR. KITCHEN CHARLIE AND HELEN'S APARTMENT
Helen standing in front of the laundry part of the sink,
doing her private laundry. She has on a house smock and her
sleeves are rolled up. The doorbell rings. Helen takes a
towel off the doorknob behind her and, wiping her hands,
comes down across the dining area to the front door. She
opens the door to admit a young woman, about eight years
older than Helen.
Hiya, Julie. I was beginning to
think you weren't coming.
I was at my mother's house. Did they
call you? They said they were going
to call you.
Yeah, your mother was very sweet.
You should have seen my father. I
said, "Pa, you have another
grandchild coming." So he said,
"Who?" So I said, "Charlie." So he
said, "That little Helen?" So I said,
"If it isn't that little Helen,
Charlie better leave town." So out
came the beer. Well, they've been
after Charlie to have a baby for a
long time now. I said, "Pa, leave
him alone. Let him get established
before he saddles himself with a
baby." Anyway, I want you to know
joy reigns supreme in your in-laws'
(she moves into
How's Charlie taking it?
into the kitchen)
Listen, let me make you a cup of
tea or something.
No, no, I've been drinking beer for
the last two hours, celebrating your
Soda, anything like that?
No, honey, you go on with your wash.
Is that what you're doing?
When I had my first baby, Mike was
ashamed to be seen on the streets
with me. Well, listen, he was
interning at the time. We needed a
baby like a hole in the head. That's
why he's a general practitioner now,
because of that baby. He was
studying to be a surgeon. He
absolutely refused to admit I was
pregnant. Even in my ninth month,
and I was as big as a house. He
used to walk ten paces in front of
me in the street like he didn't
know who that woman with the belly
was. Where is Charlie anyway?
I told you he--
Oh, yeah. I wouldn't let my Mike go
on a bachelor party.
to her wash)
What are they going to do, get a
Are you kidding? What do you think
these bachelor parties are for,
bachelors? This is for the married
men. It's a good excuse to get
drunk and find some girls.
Can you picture Charlie getting
drunk and picking up a girl?
Charlie's old sobersides. You
should have seen what I went through
to get him to make a pass at me.
He's so sweet. Nobody knows how
really sweet he is, he's so quiet
all the time. My brother died in
September, he used to stay up with
me till three, four o'clock every
night. I used to cry all night, and
he used to sit on the bed and talk
with me. I used to look at him
talking there, and I used to think:
"What would I do without this sweet
man here? I'd go crazy." You know,
you like to be a little cynical
Wait'll you've been married eleven
You like to talk about all the
affairs everybody's husband is
having. Do you know actually one
woman whose husband is actually
An abrupt, sad expression, tinged with pain, has come over
Julie's face. She looks down at the table.
Wait'll you've been married eleven
Helen, aware that she has perhaps touched on a sensitive
subject, frowns and turns back to her washing. A quick,
thick silence dips into the room.
Wait'll Charlie gets to be forty-two.
My Mike's having an affair right now
with one of his patients right now.
We don't talk about it -- don't you,
either, not even to Charlie. But
Mike knows I know about it. I even
know the patient. A married woman
with a hyperthyroid problem. My
Mike's a good doctor with a pretty
good practice. The kids are crazy
about him. But every now and then
he has to go out and get involved
with a woman.
She looks down at her hands in her lap.
Listen, I will take a cup of tea if
you've got one.
She stands, opens the pantry, looks around among the cans
and packages for a box of tea bags.
You're kidding, aren't you?
(finds the box
of tea bags)
Would I kid about something like
She puts the box of tea bags an the workshelf, unhooks a
saucepan hanging over the stove, turns to the sink and fills
it with water. Helen regards her, not quite knowing what to
say. Julie sets the saucepan going on the stove, stares at
I don't know why I told you. Don't
tell anybody, not even Charlie. I
don't want the family to know. But
this woman isn't the first one. I
know that much. About three years
ago, the doorbell rings. I open the
door. There's a man there. He says:
"Tell your husband to stay away from
my sister." How would you like to
open the door and have somebody say
that to you? I cried for two weeks.
I don't know what to do about it,
Helen. Should I bring it out in the
open with Mike or should I just keep
my mouth shut like the other time?
Because he's not going to leave me.
Even if he doesn't care about me,
he has his kids to think about. We
married too young. That was our big
mistake. We married too young.
Her face, her whole body suddenly tightens to forestall any
possibility of breaking into tears, and she sits down
abruptly on the kitchen stool, her eyes clenched tight and
her face rigidly impassive. Helen remains nervously silent.
(her voice rising just
a little from the
We should have waited till he
finished his internship. What kind
of married life is that? Twenty-two
dollars a month he was earning.
Every other day, he had to sleep in
the hospital. The first two years of
our marriage, we didn't even see
each other. And then I'm pregnant.
He had to quit, what do you think?
He wanted to be a surgeon, he wound
up being a G.P. From that day he
hated me. I had two other children
by him, but he hated me. He told me
in just so many words. Why do you
think I kept telling you, Helen, why
do you think I kept telling you:
"Don't have a baby till Charlie finds
(suddenly cries out)
It hurts! Even after eleven years,
She stands abruptly and moves quickly past Helen out the
kitchen doorway into the dark living room, leaving Helen
standing troubled, concerned, in the kitchen. After a moment,
Helen moves to the kitchen doorway and a step out into the
dining area. She looks through the dark living room to the
gray silhouette of Julie standing by the living room window,
her form lightly outlined by a tracing of moonlight.
Are you all right, Julie?
I'm all right. I'm all right.
INTERIOR. BACHELOR'S APARTMENT (45 MINUTES LATER)
We are looking back up the living room as we were at the
close of the last scene in this apartment. The room is
absolutely dark now, but a light pours in from the foyer. In
this shaft of light, we can see Eddie moving from behind the
projector to the wall switch and turning on the lights. The
room is abruptly bright with light, and our five men squint
against the sudden glare. They have all changed their
positions and taken off their jackets and loosened their
ties. They are lolling about. CAMERA LOOKS DOWN TO THE FLOOR
to take particular note of eight empty beer bottles, an
opened fifth of bourbon, ash trays, crumpled packs of
cigarettes, a cup and saucer, somebody's shoes, somebody's
jacket that has fallen off the back of a chair. Over this
we hear Walter's voice:
Is that the last one?
A thick silence fills the room. There is a kind of sodden
feeling to this scene. After a long moment, Walter's voice
Ah, you've seen one, you've seen
Yeah, they're all alike.
I don't know -- I think the first
one was all right.
Yeah, I was so bored by the rest of
them. I nearly fell asleep during
the last one.
You in the habit of sleeping with
your eyes open?
We look down on the room now, at all five of the men, Eddie
rewinding the last reel, the little motor of the projector
humming. The others loll about, their legs dangling over the
armrests of the soft chairs and sofas. There is a heavy,
dense mood that no one seems willing to break.
What time's it about, anybody know?
(glancing at his watch)
I got a quarter to nine.
No, it's later than that, about a
Again the silence falls upon the five men. Only the humming
little motor interrupts the thick silence. Nobody moves.
(after a moment)
Ah, you see one, you've seen them
Again the silence. Charlie stretches over for his bottle of
beer on the floor beside his chair. He pours what's left of
the bottle into the glass standing beside it. Otherwise
(after a moment)
So that's the last one you've got to
show us, Eddie?
Yeah. You want to run them backwards?
I wonder where they get the girls to
make these movies?
Might as well go home, I guess.
The idea doesn't seem to propel anybody to any decisive
movement. Walter shifts his position on the sofa, stretches
out his legs, regards his shoes with a sudden sadness.
(after a moment)
Life is short.
This gives everybody something to think about for a moment.
You guys feel like going down to
have a drink for Arnold?
This brings a reaction. Walter stands.
Yeah! What do you say? One last
drink for Arnold!
Okay with me.
Suddenly life is back in the room, the men ad-lib: "Where's
my coat?" "Let's get out of here," etc.
from his slouched
position on a chair)
You can say what you want to about
these pictures -- they're really
pretty bad -- but they get you.
Don't you think we ought to clean up
No, I got a woman comes in.
I almost fell asleep during the
(he looks at
Well, what do you say, huh? Let's
go! One last drink!
Ad libs on exit.
INTERIOR. LIVING ROOM CHARLIE AND HELEN'S APARTMENT
Helen and Julie. A corner lamp in the living room is lit,
lending a soft but not too effective light to the room. The
two young women are on the couch. Helen sits curled at one
end, head down listening to Julie, who has been talking and
probably crying a little since we last saw them forty-five
minutes ago. Julie is seated with her legs stretched out in
front of her, her head resting back on the back of the couch.
She is talking more freely and easily now, the first hard
outburst over with.
... He's a boy, my Mike. Till the
day he dies, he'll never be more
than fifteen. Perpetual adolescence,
that's the curse of the professional
man. He spends his whole youth trying
to be a doctor, a lawyer, an
accountant. Then he spends the rest
of his life looking for the fun he
should have had when he was a boy.
Oh, I know. Charlie and I hardly
even see each other.
It's very hard on the wife, Helen.
These are the years when you should
be building your marriage. Instead,
you grow away from each other. I've
seen it happen with my friends. In
the end, they have nice homes in New
Rochelle, and a maid, and their
maids are happier than they are. But
sometimes it does work. It can be
done, Helen. Encourage Charlie to
stay with his school because...
Oh, I will, Julie ...
... he's an ambitious boy ...
... oh, it's not just he's
... and if he doesn't fulfill
himself, he'll resent you and your
baby the rest of his life.
Oh, I don't want him to quit. He
loves accounting, Julie. I see him
sometimes, sitting over his homework.
He's got his ledgers out, and he's
adding up columns of figures as long
as his arm. And he's chuckling.
You'd think he was reading the
comics. He has a book there,
Business Law. How he can read it I
don't know. But I'll be watching
television or something, and he'll
come over, and he'll start telling
me about some fine legal point. I
don't know what he's talking about,
but it's enough for me to see how
excited it makes him. He loves it,
Julie. You can't take something like
that away from him. It's just --
it's just I feel we're not really
close any more. I mean, he comes
home from school, lots of times I'm
asleep already. And, when I do see
him, he seems all involved with
himself. He looks at me sometimes as
if I were a stranger to him, and I
feel sometimes I am. I'm afraid of
Then get rid of the baby.
It is said simply, inevitably, even innocently. It brings
only a frown to Helen's face and a short silence.
If I had it to do again, believe me,
that's what I would do.
(slowly becoming aware
of the depth of what
they are talking about)
You don't mean that, Julie.
Yes, I do. My children are the only
things in my life now, but I would
rather have a husband.
I wouldn't even think about it.
That's what I said, too.
Let's not even think about it. If I
even mentioned it, he'd -- he'd hit
me, I think.
Now, the thick, tense silence falls between them. They both
occupy themselves with their own troubled thoughts.
I want this baby, Julie. I've wanted
this baby for a long time. It's the
only thing I've ever asked of
Charlie. If I mentioned that to him
-- I don't know what he'd do.
Again, they sink into silence. Then in the thick silence,
the telephone rings. The two young women are so deep within
their thoughts that neither of them moves. It rings again,
and Helen slides off the couch and goes to the phone. It
rings again. She picks it up.
Hello.... Hello, Charlie, where are
you calling from? ... You sound like
you're having a nice time.... Oh,
you're having a ball, huh? ... Well,
what time do you think you'll be
INTERIOR. PHONE BOOTH IN EIGHTH STREET BAR
Charlie in the phone booth, smiling broadly. He seems in
wonderful spirits. Through the glass of the phone booth we
can see part of the bar and some of the barflies.
Well, that's what I wanted to call
you about, honey. I think a couple
of the guys are cutting out now. I
think Kennie's going home. But I was
wondering if you wanted me home for
any special reason.
INTERIOR. THE FOYER
Just a minute, Charlie....
She rises, goes to kitchen door, still holding the phone.
Excuse me a minute, Julie. It's
She goes into the kitchen. A little embarrassed, she closes
the kitchen door.
INTERIOR. THE KITCHEN
Charlie, come on home now.... No, I
feel all right. I just miss you.
Julie's here, and we were talking
about you, and I just miss you....
Ah, come on....
(frowns a little)
Well, no, if you're having such a
good time, stay out and enjoy
yourself.... No, Charlie, I don't
want you to come home if you're
having a good time.... I'm not
lonely. Julie's here. We're talking.
I was washing some things.... I
know, that's what I told you this
morning. You've finally got a night
off for yourself. I don't want you
to feel guilty about it....
Charlie, do you love me? ... You
sound angry.... No, come home any
time you want....
(she wets her
(she lets her head
sink down onto the
palm of her free hand)
Charlie, there's no girls at this
party, are there? ... I'm not
checking up on you, Charlie. I just
miss you, that's all.... All right,
Charlie, please, I don't want to
argue with you. Julie's in the
living room. ... All right, have a
good time, stay out as long as you
want.... All right, Charlie, good-
She slowly hangs up the receiver, sits slumped and abject.
INTERIOR. PHONE BOOTH IN EIGHTH STREET BAR
Charlie in booth. The broad grin has disappeared from his
face. As seen through the closed glass doors of the booth,
he is a very sullen and despondent young man. He stands now,
pushes the doors open, and comes out. CAMERA PULLS BACK so
that we can see the whole area of the bar near the phone
booths. Next to the phone booth are two doors marked GUYS
and DOLLS. Kenneth is coming in from the deeper recesses of
the bar where the other members of the bachelor party are
grouped in a booth. He is headed for the door marked GUYS.
Charlie regards Kenneth bleakly as he approaches.
The party breaking up?
the men's room)
I don't know. I'm going home. You
Yeah, I think so.
He pushes into the men's room after Kenneth.
INTERIOR. THE MEN'S ROOM
A small, white-tiled, yet somehow not too clean, men's room,
two-urinal size. There is one washbowl with a small mirror
over it, and two water closets with doors, separated from
each other by a steel partition. Charlie perches on the edge
of the washbowl; he apparently came in just to talk. Kenneth
moves off camera for more practical use of the room. CAMERA
stays on Charlie who seems depressed, pensive, sad. Stay on
him for a long moment. Then ...
You love your wife, Kennie?
Well, I've been married six years.
I've got two kids that keep me awake
all night long. Every Sunday, we go
out driving in Long Island looking
for a house that's going to take
one, probably two mortgages. I better
love my wife.
Kenneth appears now, edges Charlie away from the wash basin,
so he can wash his hands.
I don't feel like going home. Are
you going? Hang around, Kennie. It's
only about nine thirty, ten.
It's after ten. It's about ten after
Kenneth rips off a paper towel. The only noise for a moment
is the soft crumpling of paper as Kenneth dries his hands.
The party's getting a little wild in
there anyway. Eddie and Walter got
poor Arnold nailed in there, they're
trying to talk him into getting a
girl. This party's going to wind up
in a joint, let me tell you. This is
a good time to blow.
Yeah.... I should have gone to class
tonight. I'm paying twenty bucks a
credit. The least I can do is go to
He breaks off abruptly, turning away with a sudden frown.
I take one night off, I can't even
enjoy myself. Did you know Eddie
went back to Europe?
No, I didn't know that.
He was telling me he lived in Paris
for three months. I'd like to do
He ambles around the men's room, studying himself with
unseeing eyes in the little mirror, poking the trash can
into which Kenneth is now dropping his wadded paper towel.
He suddenly turns to Kenneth, stares at him. Kenneth looks
at him in mirror.
What's the matter?
I'm going to quit. What am I
killing myself for?
Quit night school. Tonight was the
first laughs I've had in years. I
can't remember the last time I had
so much fun. Look what I'm missing.
I'm making a pretty good living. I
can support a wife and baby on what
I make. I'm going to quit! I mean
it. I'm going to quit. Boy, what a
time to have a baby.
You don't have to quit school
because you're having a baby,
Charlie. There are lots of guys go
to night school with two, three
You ought to meet some of these guys.
They're just grinding their lives
away. It's an obsession with some of
these guys. I mean, what's the point?
So I'll go five more years to night
school. So I'll get my degree. So
I'll get a job as a junior accountant
for three years at seventy-five bucks
a week. I'm making better than that
now. And then it just starts. The
CPA exams. By the time I'm fifty, I
can start living. At this point, I
get a heart attack and an ulcer, and
they bury me in the ground, and they
say: "That was Charlie Samson, the
man who didn't see a movie in fifty
years." Why go through all that?
I'll quit. I feel so mad right now,
you better keep an eye on me, Kennie,
because I'm going to wind up punching
The door opens. Man enters to clean a spot off his tie.
Come on, let's go home.
What do I want to go home for?
You're in a lousy mood.
The man, finished with his tie, exits.
(after a moment)
Charlie, go home. I can see you're
going to get fried tonight and wind
up picking up a tramp and you're
going to wake up in the morning
feeling like two-bits.
It'd be a profit.
Charlie, about five years ago, I
went without a job for seven months.
Alice was carrying our first baby.
We were living on money I borrowed
from my brother. I don't know if you
remember me in those days, but it
was rough. I used to go out every
night, put a load on, and make a
pass at any girl who looked at me.
And I mean any. Big, tall, short,
fat, anything. Well, one night I
picked up some tomato somewheres,
and we were sitting in a bar or
somewheres, and I kept calling her
Alice all night. So she says to me:
"My name ain't Alice. Who's Alice?"
So I said: "Alice is my wife," and
I got up and I went home.
Charlie waits a moment for Kenneth to continue, but
apparently this is all Kenneth has to offer at the moment.
What does that mean?
I don't know. I had a point when I
started telling that story.
I'm not looking for another woman.
Yes, you are, Charlie. You may not
know it, but you are. So go on home,
Charlie, before you get any drunker
than you are. Charlie, you start
messing with other women, something
goes. It'll kill your marriage.
It'll kill your wife. It'll just
kill her. What my wife went through
-- well, I don't even want to
remember it. It's never the same
with your wife again, Charlie.
I'm not looking for any woman.
I think what I was trying to say
was you stick with your night school.
Some guys have to make peace with
themselves that they're never going
to amount to too much. A guy like me.
Once I made that peace with myself,
I found out it doesn't really matter
what you amount to. I got a nice
wife and two children I complain
about all the time, but if anything
ever happened to either one of them,
I think I'd die. But you don't have
to make that kind of peace, and
you'd be crazy to settle for less
than what you want. You want
something, Charlie. I think that's
(Charlie's eyes go
You're a little drunk now, and
you're fed up to the teeth.
Everybody gets fed up, Charlie. You
stick with it. You're going to be all
You're a nice guy, Kennie.
Sure. You're a nice guy too.
The door to the men's room opens, and a Young Man comes in,
looks around quickly at Kenneth and Charlie -- bumps into
Watch it -- will you, Mac?
Charlie regards this statement a moment. Then advances to
the Young Man.
Wait a minute.... What are you, a
He is all set to bust the Young Man one in the nose, but
Kenneth takes him by the arm.
Come on, Charlie, let's go home.
Charlie allows himself to be led to the door.
I'm just about drunk enough right
now to bust somebody right in the
Kenneth reaches for the knob of the door, opens it, and the
two men go out. They find themselves in the crowded, noisy
bar. A jagged kind of intensity to the atmosphere as if some
of the men at the bar might be gangsters. Booths filled with
men and women and some mixed-up types. Kenneth and Charlie
make their way through the bodies down to one of the booths
where Eddie and Arnold are sitting and Walter is standing,
heavily drunk. Eddie is expostulating to Walter:
... Come on, will you? Look Walter,
it's just the shank of the evening!
What's so special in your home? You
got a floor show every night? Who
are you married to, Jayne Mansfield?
Come on, it's not even half past
Walter sits heavily down.
We got to get up tomorrow, go to
We're just starting! We got to get
Arnold a girl yet!
Eddie, please ...
That's the whole point to a bachelor
party! You got to get the guy a girl!
Look, fellows, it's been a nice
clean party ...
Well, Arnold, since I'm not going to
see you again before the wedding,
congratulations and best wishes in
the coming future to both you and
Thanks a lot, Kennie....
Eddie turns to Charlie, who is still glowering.
You're not going, are you, Charlie?
We're just starting! We got to get
Arnold a girl yet!
I want to thank you for the
...No, I'll stick around another
hour or so....
... That's my boy....
(to Kenneth, who is
looking at Charlie)
... Honestly, I never expected any
... Aren't you coming home? ...
... What for? Sit around talking to
my sister Julie? ...
... I want to thank all you
All right, stop thanking them,
Arnold. They just gave you a party,
they didn't elect you President.
... This has been one of the nicest
nights of my life....
Let's go someplace ... let's go to
That's great with me.
Come on, Ken.
Thanks a lot.
... Well, listen, fellows, I'm
cutting out.... Good night, Walter,
... You coming, Charlie? ...
... No, I'll kill another hour....
Come on, Kennie....
No, you go ahead. I'll see you in
the morning, Charlie.
Okay, I'll see you.
EXTERIOR. THIRD STREET
The little stretch of strip-joints on Third Street. Bright
little cluster of honky-tonks.
EXTERIOR. THIRD STREET
Our bachelor party, now down to four carousers, ambles along
the rather filled sidewalk, looking at the cardboard cutouts
of the strippers in the windows of the night clubs.
The four men pause before one of the strip-joints, examining
the cardboard cutout and billboard which promises first-rate
INTERIOR. THIRD STREET NIGHT CLUB
We look down on the whole night club, showing the dark,
dingy, crowded, smallness of it. There is a strip going on.
It doesn't look very interesting.
Our four men are huddled over a very small table in one of
those Third Street clip-joints. It is a dark little hovel,
but a blue stage light drifts across the table, vaguely
illuminating our four celebrators. Behind them, a strip
tease is in progress. Every now and then, an almost stout
woman in her forties, garish in the blue spotlight, dressed
in a white satin ill-fitting gown, moves in and out of our
view. Half the tables and wall booths are occupied. There is
a horseshoe bar off in the recesses of the club. A three-
piece band is playing spiritlessly.
Walter is gone, deep in some painful, drunken world of his
own. Charlie rubs his eyes as if to keep his senses awake.
Arnold, who is soggy, is leaning toward Eddie, who alone of
the four men is giving any attention to the show.
So what do you think of my girl,
Eddie? You met her. Be honest with
me. Tell me the truth. I had the
feeling you didn't like her.
Come on, come on, Arnold. What do
you want from me.
Arnold turns to Charlie.
Listen, Charlie, I'd like to ask you
a little advice. I mean, you're a
married man. This girl, I'm supposed
to marry, she's all right, but I'm
not really attracted to her, you
know what I mean? That's important,
isn't it? I kissed her a couple of
times, but I ... I don't know why
I'm getting married, Charlie.
What did you say, Arnold?
I said, I don't know why I'm getting
married. I did pretty good for
thirty-two years without getting
married. I get along fine at home.
My mother's a good cook. I have a
nice life. What do I want to break
it all up for?
Well, Arnold, everybody feels that
way before they get married.
Yeah? Did I ever show you a picture
of my girl?
No, you didn't, Arnold.
Do you want to see a picture?
Arnold clumsily hauls out his wallet and extracts a picture.
He gives it to Charlie who twists at an angle in order to
get some light on it.
I want you to give me your honest
impression, Charlie. She isn't much,
I can't see much in this light, but
she looks like a nice pretty girl.
Well, I wouldn't say that. We were
matched up, you know. The families
kind of agreed on it. I was brought
over to her by my mother and father.
That's how I met her. She's some
kind of tenth cousin. She's all
right. She's quiet. I kissed her a
couple of times. She just sat there
and I kissed her. I think she
expected more. She even asked me
that. She said to me: "Are you
afraid of me?" I really don't go out
with women much. You know. Don't
tell nobody this, Charlie, but you
aren't going to believe this, but I
never ... I mean, you wouldn't
believe that a guy of my age, I
never ... Don't tell anybody I ever
told you this, but I never-- I mean,
Charlie, she's a widow. She's been
married already -- she's going to
expect a lot -- and I never ----
What do you think I ought to do?
What do you mean, Arnold?
I mean, you think I ought to marry
Well, Arnold, even if I knew the
girl, I wouldn't answer that
question. I may not like her, but
she may be fine for you.
Because I'm thinking of calling the
whole thing off.
It's kind of late for that, isn't
I'm scared stiff, Charlie.
What are you scared about?
I'm not much of a talker, and she's
one of those quiet ones. What are
you supposed to do with your wife?
I mean, most of the time.
(has to think)
Most of the time, Arnold, you don't
even see her. You're away working.
You come home, she fixes you supper.
Then one of you washes the dishes.
Then if you're not tired, you can go
to the movies or visit somebody. Or
you watch teevee.
I do that now with my mother.
This gives Charlie pause.
I don't know what there is to
marriage. I suppose it's to have
So what do you think I ought to do?
You think I ought to go through with
Arnold, I can't answer that!
He stands abruptly.
EXTERIOR. STREET -- NIGHT
Our four amble along Washington Square North, headed west.
In the background, the high apartment houses. It is about
midnight now, and there are a number of people around, and
there are lots of lights in the windows. There is still the
feeling of life. However, some of the wind has gone out of
our bachelor party since we last saw them carousing on
Lexington Avenue. Now, of course, there are only four of
them, and there is somewhat a feeling of straggling about
EXTERIOR. STREET -- NIGHT
The four men straggle along Tenth Street east of Seventh
Avenue. This is a dark little street. Off at the
intersection, you can see Seventh Avenue and an occasional
car moving downtown, but West Tenth Street right now seems
an empty, sleeping street of dark and old little apartment
houses. The houses sometimes have little stoops. On one of
the stoops, there is a woman sitting. She is in her thirties,
not attractive nor unattractive. She wears a light summer
frock, and she has one shoe off, and she is toying with the
idea of pushing the other one off too. As the four men
approach her, she looks up, half quizzically, half
questioningly. The four men note her in passing and seem to
continue on, but then come to a dragging halt about ten
CLOSE GROUP SHOT OF THE FOUR MEN.
I think we've got one for you,
Eddie looks back to the woman on the stoop. They all turn to
look. Actually, Charlie has ambled a few paces even further
down and doesn't know quite why they've stopped. They look
at the woman; the woman looks at them a little warily. Rest
of the scene from her point of view.
Ah, come on, Eddie.
She ain't bad.
(calling from a
few paces down)
What's the matter?
We've got a live one.
(starting to walk)
Come on, let's go.
Arnold, for Pete's sake.
Ah, leave him alone! He doesn't want
Come on. We've been walking around
all night here -- are you a man, or
All right, all right.
With a scowl, he assumes the responsibility of being a man.
The four men, Charlie bringing up the rear, move down toward
The Woman, who now looks down at her feet and begins wiggling
her bare foot back into the unused shoe.
(not looking up)
I don't know who you fellows think
I am, but you fellows have the
wrong idea about me.
Yeah, I know. Arnold, see that bar
down the corner. That's where we'll
I'm afraid you fellows have the
wrong idea about me.
She says we have the wrong idea.
Ah, leave him alone.
You fellows are working under a
Eddie and Walter have already started down the street to
We'll be in the bar, Arnold.
You all right, Arnold?
Yeah, I'm all right, it's just ...
Look, I'm just sitting here, fellows.
Did I say anything? I was just
You want to come with me, Charlie?
Charlie scowls at the suggestion, but there is something
pleading in Arnold's face.
You want me to? All right. I'll go
up with you.
(from halfway down
Where you going, Charlie?
I'll go up with him. Moral support.
What the---- we'll all go with you.
Charlie waves him away.
(walks back to fellows)
We'll be down at the bar.
Charlie nods. Arnold looks briefly at The Woman and then
She turns and goes up the steps into the building, her
leather heels clicking on the stone steps. Arnold, head
down, and Charlie, a little sheepishly, follow her.
INTERIOR. THE HOUSE
A dark, ill-lit hallway. A flight of stairs going up, wooden
railings, worn carpeting. The Woman starts up the stairs,
the two men following her.
(as she goes)
Arnold, wetting his lips, nods. The Woman reaches the first
The Woman has come around to one of the three doors on the
landing and is inserting a key into a lock. Arnold and
Charlie appear now at the head of the stairway. The Woman
goes into her room, leaving the door open. A moment later,
a shaft of light streams out into the landing. For a moment,
nothing happens. Then Arnold and Charlie amble slowly down
the landing to the open doorway and shaft of light.
Hey, Arnold, you don't have to go
through with this.
I think I should.
I'll wait out here for you, okay?
Arnold nods and goes into the room. He closes the door.
Charlie takes out a cigarette and lights it and inhales
deeply. He feels a little sordid. There is the sound of
steps, muffled by the carpeting, coming down the stairs. A
man appears coming down from the floor above. He gives
Charlie a quick look and continues on down the landing to
the stairs and down again. Charlie scowls at the floor. He
smokes his cigarette.
INTERIOR. THE WOMAN'S ROOM
It is a furnished room for which the woman pays eleven
dollars a week. It is not particularly unkempt or tarty.
There is a print slipcover on the soft chair and flowers on
an end table. There is a studio couch with a neat spread and
throw pillows on it. The Woman stands expressionlessly in
front of the old chest of drawers. She has kicked off one
shoe and she is now kicking off the other. She starts to say
Listen, I don't want you to think I
don't have a job. I got a job. I
She stops abruptly as Arnold, who is sitting, eyes averted,
on a straight-back wooden chair, suddenly stands up and
moves toward the door.
What's the matter?
Arnold's lips open to form words, but nothing comes out, and
he clamps his mouth tight and just stands, miserable and
wretched. His hand makes a nervous, spasmodic, involuntary
gesture, and he quickly clenches his fist. Beads of sweat
are on his forehead.
Are you afraid of me?
Arnold's head has started to shake nervously, and he opens
the door and steps out into the landing. The Woman,
beginning to get angry, follows him.
Charlie looks up at the opening of the door and Arnold's
entrance. The Woman stands in the doorway. Arnold moves
quickly past Charlie about halfway down the landing, white-
faced and trembling.
What's the matter? Hey. Hey, you.
Hey, you, what's the matter?
(to The Woman)
What's the trouble?
I don't know. Ask him. What's the
matter? Hey, you. You, what's the
Go back inside.... All right, all
How about that, huh?
She turns angrily, goes back into her room (ad libbing as
she crosses) and slams the door. Charlie moves down the
landing to Arnold, who looks at him wide-eyed, almost in
What happened, Arnold?
I don't know. I'm just scared.
Yeah, I don't blame you, I'd be
scared too like this. I don't know
why we dragged you up here in the
first place. It's a barbaric custom.
He has taken Arnold's arm and would lead him down the
stairs, but Arnold pauses again at the first step.
Don't tell Eddie.
No I won't, Arnold.
Why don't we just sit here for ten
minutes or so?
Charlie frowns, then shrugs.
All right, Arnold.
They both sit slowly on the steps. Arnold is still trembling
from the whole terrifying experience.
Don't ever tell anybody.
It's nothing to be ashamed of.
I won't tell anybody.
A man's voice suddenly calls down from an upper floor.
Anything wrong down there?
No. No. Nothing wrong.
Charlie sits. CAMERA MOVES UP CLOSER to both men. The whole
experience has depressed Charlie, and it shows on his face.
CAMERA PULLS SLOWLY BACK so that we get the small, sordid
feeling of the two men, somewhat tight, sitting on a dirty
ill-lit staircase outside a whore's bedroom.
INTERIOR. CORNER BAR
Neighborhood bar with about ten people in it. Eddie and
Walter are two of them. Eddie is playing on one of those
bowling machines. He seems surly, ill-tempered, restless.
Hey Walter -- you know what we
ought to do, don't you? We ought to
go to that party. Remember that girl
Charlie picked up on Tenth Street?
Walter, who is so drunk he is sober, looks up at Eddie with
I'm going to die, do you know that?
Not tonight, Walter. Tonight you're
going to live. Ah, these things are
(crosses to bar)
I'm down to my last buck. Got any
money on you?
He turns as the door to the bar opens and Charlie and Arnold
How'd it go, lover?
(Arnold smiles a
Hey, Charlie, let's go to this party.
It's only twelve o'clock. Oh, these
parties are mad, man. All the women
wear pajamas, and all the men wear
beards. Everybody sits on the floor.
Arnold, you got any money? I spent
my last buck on those drinks. How
about you, Charlie?
(assessing his assets)
I got a little over a buck.
What are we, all out? So let's go to
this party then.
(punches Charlie's arm)
Hey, Charlie, come on.
(himself sullen and angry)
Cut it out.
You can have that girl you picked up
on Tenth Street. Come on.... All
right, you married men want to be so
married that's all right with me.
But I'd like to see some women
arm with more hostility
than he knows)
I'd like to see some women tonight,
you know. Do you mind?
Cut it out, Eddie. You keep punching
me, I swear I'm going to belt you
What's the matter with you?
Charlie is off his seat and ready to belt Eddie one right on
the spot. There is abruptly the imminent reality of a fist
fight. The two men are just sullen enough. Arnold hurriedly
All right, all right, fellows.
Look, don't get so tough with me,
All right, all right, come on.
I don't want to see any other women!
(just as angry)
All right! Go on home! Who's holding
you?! You want to call it a night?
Because I'm tired of grousing from
one bar to another. You guys go home,
and I'll go about my merry way. All
right? And don't get so tough with
Well, don't poke me.
back to his seat)
Come on, let's go ... gee ...
For a moment, the sudden, thick hostility fills the silence
in the room. Nobody says anything. Walter is soddenly
preoccupied with his own thoughts. Arnold is shaken from his
recent experience with The Woman and from the flaring of
tempers. Charlie just sits bleakly examining a book of
matches he is toying with, trying to bring his temper down.
After a moment, he mutters:
You mess around with other women, it
kills your wife and it kills your
Eddie suddenly, sulkily strides for the door of the bar.
All right, you guys go home, and
I'll go on my merry way.
(gets to the door,
pauses, then turns,
his sudden hot temper
gone as quickly as
it had come)
Hey, you guys, you guys want to go
to a nutty night club, look at the
nuts? There's a nutty night club
over on Second Avenue. You know
what we can do? Charlie, you live in
Stuyvesant Town, don't you?
You know what we can do? We'll take
the crosstown. We'll go over to
Charlie's house, he'll get some
money, and we'll go to this nutty
night club. It's right down on
Second Avenue. You got any money
What do you say, Arnold? You want to
Arnold shrugs. Eddie has started for the door already.
Charlie wearily gets off his stool, starts to follow Eddie
out. Walter takes his arm.
Charlie, get Walter.
Come on, Walter....
CLOSEUP of Walter
I'm going to die, you know what I
The sad little party files wearily out of the bar, Arnold
pausing at the bar to pay for the drinks.
INTERIOR. FOURTEENTH STREET CROSSTOWN SUBWAY
LONG SHOT looking down through the length of one almost
empty car, through the open door at the end of the car,
down into the next almost empty car. Just a few people
riding the subway at this hour, half past eleven on a
week-day. But down in the second car, we can see our four
cavaliers. Eddie, Arnold, and Charlie are sitting. Our
attention is most caught by Walter, who is heavily drunk and
weaves and lurches up and down the central aisle of the car.
We cannot hear if he is saying anything.
CLOSE SHOT Walter weaving up and down the aisle of the car.
He stumbles on the toes of a man in a windbreaker, sitting
in the car.
Excuse me ... excuse me ...
(turns his blurred
attention to Charlie,
who, alone of the
three, seems painfully
interested in what
Walter is talking
So what'll I do? I mean, he says,
I'm going to die. I mean, the man's
a specialist. He says: "Go to
Arizona, go to Colorado," he says.
"You got to get out of New York or
you're going to die." He tells my
wife, the stupid idiot. My wife
cried all night. I'm going to die,
you know that? You understand that?
I'm going to die? You know what an
asthma attack is like? Your heart
starts beating like a drum! I passed
out the last time!
Walter, why don't you just quit the
job and pack your bags and get out
Walter stands in front of Charlie, his lips moving, but no
words coming out for a moment. There are tears in his eyes,
and all the pain and anguish of the man's forty-eight years
are clear on his face.
(getting the words out)
I can't quit. Don't you understand?
You don't understand. I can't quit!
I got a fourteen-year-old girl, I
don't know what time she comes in at
night any more. She's so wild, these
kids. I got a nineteen-year-old boy
in college; he's going to be a
doctor if I have to die. He's not
going to quit school. You hear me!
I worked hard to put that kid in
school! I don't care if I die! I
don't care! What am I going to do
in Arizona? Who wants me? Who's
going to give me a job? What kind
of a job am I going to get? I'm
forty-eight years old. They don't
want no forty-eight-year-old
bookkeeper. They got machines from
IBM. You ever been up on the ninth
floor? You ever see all those IBM
machines? What am I going to do out
in Arizona? You look in the Help
Wanted lately? You see any jobs
listed for Bookkeeper, Male? What
are you talking about? Do you know
what you're talking about?
Charlie reaches up to steady Walter, who has worked himself
up into a lurching fury.
Take your hand off me. You don't
know nothing! You're just a kid!
You don't know! I've seen death,
kid. I've seen it, boy. I know what
it looks like.
(he staggers away a
few paces down the
aisle, stumbles over
the man's toe again)
Excuse me.... Forty-eight years old
and so what? What does it mean? What
happened? What have I got? What did
I make? Who needs me? So this is it.
A man's life, nothing. Worry about
being sick, worry about making money,
worry about your wife, worry about
your kids, and you're on your way to
the grave from the day you're born.
The days drag on, and the years fly
by, and so what?
(cries out to
the whole world)
What is it all about? Will you tell
The train is slowing up for a station now.
Life is nothing! It's a gag! It's a
joke! It's a mortgage! It's a
bankrupt! It's a lot of noise over
nothing! Sound and fury! Isn't that
what the man said? What do you
think, I never read a book? I read a
book! Don't worry! I was a bright
kid! Everybody thought I was going
to be the first Catholic to be
President! Where did it all go?!
He turns to look at the station they are edging into, the
yellow lights, the dark shadows, the few blurred faces. His
face is wet with the tiny rivulets left by tears.
Where did it all go?
The train stops, the green doors slide open.
in a low voice)
Where are we, Third Avenue?
Where are we getting off? Next stop?
A few people come into the car. Walter stands, shoulders
hunched and sagging, in front of the open doors.
I'm going home.
What did you say, Walter?
I'm going home.
Walter steps out onto the platform. Just in time, because
the doors are beginning to slide closed again.
Walter, where are you going? Come
On the platform, Walter has started to weave slowly up the
platform toward the stairway.
What, did Walter get out?
the open window)
Walter, stay there, we'll come back
on the next train. Stay there.
But Walter has already reached the stairway and, clinging to
the handrail, has started slowly climbing the steps. The
train starts slowly up. Arnold has stood now too. He is
pretty soggy himself.
Poor Walter, huh?
He'll be all right, Charlie. God
protects drunks and fools.
The train is sweeping by the stairway now. Charlie bellows
Walter! Grab a cab if you're going
The train has swept by, and in a moment they have been
plunged into the tunnel of the subway, the bleak dirty white
walls, and the small yellow lights flashing by. Charlie sits
down, somehow greatly shaken and disturbed.
Poor Walter, I didn't know he was so
sick. I thought there was something
wrong with him, though. He's been
out so much.
(sitting drunkenly down)
I didn't know he was so sick.
CLOSE IN on Charlie.
That's me in fifteen years.
CLOSEUP of Charlie. Hold for a moment.
EXTERIOR. FOURTEENTH STREET AND FIRST AVENUE
We look down at the subway kiosk as our sad little party of
three comes up the stairs to the sidewalk. It is midnight,
and the street is occasionally patrolled by a taxicab. The
sidewalks are pretty empty, just a few people walking.
Perhaps a drugstore is still open, and its lonely lit store
front catches the eye.
Our three men stand at the head of the stairs at the subway
kiosk, drained, tired, a little despondent. Charlie looks up
at the dim silhouettes of the endless apartment houses of
That's where I live.
In the back there. You can't see it
LONG SHOT of Stuyvesant Town as seen from their point of
view. PAN SLOWLY ACROSS, capturing the silent monotony of
the dark buildings. Only a few of the windows are still lit.
It looks like a state hospital.
It looks like a prison.
Yeah, it does look a little like a
The three men just stand, worn out, tired.
I'm going home.
He starts to walk to the buildings, across the little street
that separates the corner of Fourteenth Street and First
Avenue from the parallel corner of the housing project.
(calling after him)
Hey, Charlie ...
Hey, Charlie! What about the money?
Have you got ten bucks?
(after a moment)
All right, if you want to walk me to
the house, I'll get you ten bucks.
Eddie has to take a moment to consider this. Then he
shuffles across the little street toward Charlie. Charlie
doesn't quite wait for him to catch up when he turns and
leads the way between two cars and up the sidewalk toward
the promenade that leads to the heart of the project.
Arnold, after a moment, follows Eddie. The three men
disappear single-file into the darkness of Stuyvesant Town.
INTERIOR. LANDING OUTSIDE CHARLIE'S APARTMENT
We are looking at the twin elevator doors. The light of an
elevator climbs into the little square window of one of the
elevator doors. The door opens, and Charlie, Eddie, and
Arnold shuffle out into the landing. They are all a little
I'll be right out.
He moves around the turn of the wall, fishes in his pocket
for the key to his apartment. He finds it, brings it out,
opens the door carefully, goes into his apartment.
INTERIOR. CHARLIE AND HELEN'S APARTMENT
Charlie comes in. The dining area is lit, and there is the
lamp lit in the living room. As Charlie moves to the living
room, we can see that Helen is seated on the couch,
watching television. The gray-white light of the television
set drifts out into the room. Helen is in her pajamas and
she has washed for bed; her face is devoid of make-up. She
is half-watching television; the rest of her attention is
devoted to cutting her fingernails and other aspects of
manicure. She looks up as Charlie comes into the living
Hiya, have a nice time?
Charlie shrugs. He is depressed and can't conceal it.
I'm taking ten bucks. A couple of
the guys are waiting outside. I
promised them I'd loan them ten
He stands by the couch now, without interest, automatically
watching the television set.
(looking at the set)
Tomorrow's payday. I'll get it back
It's in the drawer.
A kind of ennui has engulfed him. He stands, watching the
television set out of which is now pouring the end of an
animated cartoon commercial. Then the familiar tinkling
music sets in, the inscription, "The Late Show" appears on
the screen, and the announcer's voice informs us that we are
now going back to the late show, starring Rex Harrison in
"Strictly Dishonorable." The whole thing brings a wince of
pain to Charlie's face, and he turns and moves wearily
through the little foyer into the darkened bedroom. Enough
light flows in from the other rooms to show Charlie going to
the drawer in the chest of drawers and taking out a
ten-dollar bill. He returns the other bills, closes the
drawer and just stands there, suddenly so weak and exhausted
that he has to steady himself with one hand on the chest of
Back in the living room, Helen still sits, a slight frown
now indicating she is sensitive to the deeply depressed mood
her husband is in. She continues with her nails for a moment.
Then, wondering what is keeping her husband, she stands and
goes to the bedroom doorway and looks in.
INTERIOR. THE BEDROOM
Charlie is seated on the bed, hunched, in deep depression.
He is holding the ten-dollar bill. His eyes are open, but
there is a feeling of hurt and pain on his face. Helen moves
quietly into the bedroom and sits down on the bed beside him.
What's the matter, Charlie?
He shrugs, even smiles briefly.
I don't know.
She puts out her hand as if to take his head and press it
against her, but he takes her in his arms almost desperately,
and they lie back on the bed, clutching each other, their
faces pressed against each other, seeking some kind of
strength just from the sheer physical closeness of each
It's not so bad, Charlie.
I know. I know.
They lie quietly, even stiffly, holding each other.
(eyes wide open
I don't know what's the matter with
me, I keep getting so depressed. I'm
going to quit night school, Helen.
My nerves are shot.
He releases himself from his wife's embrace and sits up.
Those guys are waiting outside. I
better give them their money.
He stands and starts out the bedroom.
Charlie ... Maybe I shouldn't have
What do you mean? ...
She doesn't answer. She doesn't have to. They both know what
Isn't that dangerous? ... Well, I
don't know ... maybe ... Well, you
brought it up.
(shocked -- after
You really don't want this baby....
She turns away on the bed to hide the sudden flush of tears.
You're my husband, Charlie. This is
your baby too. That doesn't mean
anything to you. For the first time
in our marriage I feel I can't
depend on you, Charlie -- I'm not
important to you.
(she has to stop
because she can no
longer trust her
voice. After a
moment she continues)
I could make my life sound hard, too,
Charlie. I work all day, I rush home,
I make you dinner. I sit home alone
four nights a week, I'm even alone
when you're here because when do I
see you? But it was easy for me
because I loved you. Do you think I
care whether you're an accountant or
a ditch digger, or even out of work?
All I ever wanted was you. And this
baby because it's you, too.
She closes her eyes again to hide the warm flow of tears in
her eyes and stops talking rather than cry. Charlie sits,
unmoved and wretched, his shoulders hunched, his head
slumped forward. After a moment, he turns and reaches
forward, quite frightened, to touch her arm.
Leave me alone, Charlie.
He stands and goes to the bedroom window and looks out.
Helen turns on her side so that her back is to him. At the
sound of her moving, Charlie turns his head, but sensing the
rejection in her back, he turns back and looks out the
window again. The silence is thick between them.
I decided I'd quit school and ...
I don't care ...
I decided I'd quit school and come
home in the evenings like everybody
else and live a normal life.
(staring at the
wall ahead of her)
I don't care what you do, Charlie.
He stands another moment.
I don't care what I do either.
Helen neither moves nor makes a response. Charlie goes on
into the living room and shuffles to the front door, his
long body heavy with pain and guilt and dense, unknown
terrors. He opens the door and goes out onto the landing.
Eddie and Arnold, looking up as the door opens and Charlie
What took you so long? What did you
do, blow open the safe?
(giving Eddie the
I'll give it to you tomorrow. I'll
see you in the morning, Charlie.
I'll see you.
Eddie takes Arnold's arm and guides him back around the turn
of the wall to the elevators. Charlie follows a few paces
behind. Eddie pushes both elevator buttons. Charlie nods,
looks down at the tiling at his feet, fairly sick within
himself, oppressed and guilty. The light in the elevator
window shows, and Eddie opens the door.
Wait a minute. I'll go with you.
Let's go to that party -- we'll
have a ball!
Charlie shuffles the few paces forward and follows Eddie and
Arnold into the elevator. The door closes, and, a moment
later, the light of the elevator cage disappears downward.
INTERIOR. GREENWICH VILLAGE DUPLEX APARTMENT
This is one of those duplex apartments on West Tenth Street
which consists of one huge living room that is two stories
high and you need a little rolling stepladder to reach the
books on the upper shelves of the built-in bookcases. There
is a little wrought-iron stairway that leads to the second
floor, which consists of two tiny little bedrooms.
Apartments like these, as is the case in this one, are
usually lived in by two girls, one of whom is a secretary in
an advertising agency and the other a model for a garment
manufacturing firm. Both girls are in their early thirties
and are milling about somewhere in the mass of people in the
living room, carrying drinks, laughing up a storm, pausing
at the little knots of discussion groups with an apt phrase.
They rather think of themselves as Madame de StaŽls with
their own salon of bright young people, for most of the men
and women at the party are in some way connected with the
arts, probably in an avant garde way. It is a little
difficult to tell this by looking at them because avant
garde artists have become obsessed with dressing like
businessmen, but if you can hear the talk as we can, you get
the point fast enough. We pick up phrases like: "I really
find it difficult to think of Tennessee Williams as a
serious artist," or "My teacher thinks all tenors are frogs
except Gigli," or "I don't see how you can say that; his
designs fairly throb with sex." There are, as Eddie
predicted, a number of people sitting on the floor, mostly
girls, circled in the swirl of their Ann Fogarty dresses,
and there is one obvious ballerina, with her black hair
pulled tightly back into a severe pony tail, using the
wrought-iron railing that separates the dropped living room
from the small entrance foyer to demonstrate something about
positions at the dancing bar. There is someone at the piano
banging away, shouting his songs, but he is completely
inaudible five feet away. A few people lean over the piano,
apparently exhilarated by the songs. Thin blankets of smoke
wreathe their way up to the two-story-high ceiling. We catch
some more phrases: "I thought Truman Capote was supposed to
be here." -- "Truman's in Russia, I think." -- "Good
heavens, what can the Russians want with Truman Capote?" --
"Oh, I never read anything published in this country." "Oh,
I mean, the paper-bound Paris edition." In short, this is a
real chi-chi wingding where all the furniture is too low,
and the hostess is very proud of the fact that her end table
is made out of an orange crate.
Somewhere, through the jumble of the party, we can hear the
doorbell chime. A young woman, at one of the little knots of
people, perks her ears and says:
I'm sure that's the police again.
She's very proud of this. She turns and weaves her way
through the crowded room, carrying her drink. She goes up
the step to the entrance foyer, turns to her left, picks her
way over two middle-aged men who are both throwing a pitch
at a fairly tight girl of eighteen, past the kitchen, which
is a bedlam of ice cubes and kitchen towels and which is
occupied at the moment by two intense women in their late
thirties wrapped in deep discussion, up past two young men
who have no immediate use for girls, to the front door of
the apartment. She opens the door.
GROUP SHOT of Eddie, Arnold, and Charlie from the Hostess's
point of view. Not exactly a heartening sight to most
hostesses, three fairly loaded young men with their collars
unbuttoned and their ties limp and dangling.
Are you coming to complain about the
Do we look like complainers?
I don't know who you are, but come
in, come in. I don't know half the
people who are here tonight.
They enter a little warily and ill-at-ease, peering into the
The police have been here twice. The
first fellow was just adorable. We
gave him a drink, and he's upstairs
in a bedroom now, for all I know.
Is that right?
If you want something to drink,
you'll just have to go into the
kitchen and get it yourself. The
place is just mad. Do you write,
paint or sing?
Eddie spreads his arms in all-inclusive expansiveness.
But the hostess has already bent to chat with two women, one
old, one young, sitting on the floor. Our three cavaliers
look at each other and then look out over the wild, jumbled
Boy, do you get invited to a party
like this or do you get committed?
A passing young man who overhears this, pokes his head into
the group and says to Charlie with a flashing smile:
I heard that. It's awfully funny.
Charlie regards the smiling young chap.
The chap's smile flashes off and he scurries away. Eddie
rubs his palms and surveys the women in the crowded room
with a measuring eye.
This is going to be like shooting
ducks. Pick out your duck, men.
Wetting his lips, he starts out for some girl he has decided
on across the room.
INTERIOR. GREENWICH VILLAGE APARTMENT -- HALF HOUR LATER
HIGH SHOT showing progress of party, still crowded, still
high. If we look sharp we can see Charlie seated on the
floor in the rear of the shot, his back against the wall.
CLOSER SHOT of Charlie sitting morosely, back against the
wall, regarding his drink with sodden eyes. The chatter of
the party, an occasional shrill laugh.
FULL SHOT of Eddie coming out of the kitchen, carrying two
drinks. He picks his way through the people to the living
room with the general intention of getting to the
arrangement of divans around the coffee table, when he spots
Charlie and moves across to him.
Hey, what's the matter, Charlie?
(without looking up)
Let's get out of here, Eddie.
The last time I saw you, you was
with that girl you picked up. What
She's over there talking to that
old guy with the glasses.
Their point of view, The Existentialist on steps with
I didn't like her. She's one of
these real Greenwich Village phonies.
If I added up all the guys she told
me about, she must have had her
first boy friend when she was two
years old. Where are you going,
Eddie. Stick around a minute.
(who has stood)
I'm with that one over there -- not
bad, huh? I think she's a Communist.
I think she's trying to talk me into
joining the Party.
How are you making out?
Not so hot. I may have to join.
Hang around. Let's talk a bit.
I better get back. She's liable to
recruit somebody else.
He's in the kitchen. I think he's
out cold. I'll see you.
Charlie nods as Eddie moves off. He returns his morose
attention back to his glass of liquor. Then his eyes close,
and his face, though impassive, shows pain. After a moment,
he opens his eyes and slowly clambers to his feet and makes
his way, a little unsteadily, through the living room in the
direction of the kitchen. In the background we can hear the
piano and somebody singing indistinguishable lyrics. Charlie
gets to the kitchen door and looks in. Arnold is at the tiny
kitchen table, head on the table, out cold. The kitchen is
in a state of havoc.
Hey Arnold-- You okay, Arnold?
Arnold makes no answer. Charlie regards his prostrated
friend expressionlessly for a moment. Then turns and
shuffles aimlessly back to the group around the piano in the
living room. He looks over to the stairway again. The
Existentialist is alone now, The Landlord having gone for
the moment. She is looking at Charlie, and he drops his eyes.
He turns away from the piano and moves out a few steps into
the middle of the living room. He moves to the stairway.
The Existentialist looks up at him as he approaches, Charlie
kind of nods to her, and, for a moment, she just sits and he
just stands. Then ...
That old man I was talking to before?
That's my landlord. About ten thirty
last night, someone began pounding on
my door. So I got up and opened the
door, and there was this white-haired
man with a pince-nez standing there.
I said: "What do you want?" So he
said: "I'm the landlord, and I want
the rent." Well, I just looked at him
because the landlord I knew was a
Hungarian man named Frank, who was
crazy about me, and the issue of rent
never came up, you see. Well, it
turned out that this man with the
pince-nez had just bought the
building the day before and he kept
grabbing my arm and saying he wanted
the rent. Well, then I got the point,
of course. Well, meanwhile, a boy
named Bob I knew had come over. He's
engaged to a Javanese girl with
wonderful planes in her face who
lives at the International House.
But he's crazy about me and he drops
in about twice a week. Well,
meanwhile, my new landlord was
grabbing my arm and kept quoting
poetry to me which he was trying to
pass off as his own. He was an
absolute fraud. He scotched the
whole thing from Baudelaire. "Tu
mettrais." You know that one. Well,
he kept screaming about the rent --
I didn't like him, you know -- and I
called this boy named George who
used to live in Poughkeepsie when I
was going to Vassar, and he's crazy
about me. He lives in St. Luke's
place now, but he goes to
Poughkeepsie every Wednesday to see
his mother, he's got an Oedipus, so
that was out. Well, my new landlord
kept telling me how much he was in
love with me. I said: "How
existentialist can you get? You just
met me five minutes ago." He was
absolutely crazy about me.
Charlie has been sort of half-listening to all this. His
attention, if any at all, has been vaguely given to the
girl's bare arms, the lines of her body.
You have an apartment around here
(looks up to
What's up there? What kind of rooms
are up there?
So, I finally got to sleep around
Charlie bends down to her, takes her arm.
Come on, let's go.
No! Oh, stop trying to be so
Charlie straightens with an irritated sigh.
I find you very unpleasant.
He stands, she sits in sullen silence.
There's nothing upstairs.
Oh, I don't care.
She starts up the stairs, Charlie following close behind her.
They pick their way past the other people sitting on the
stairs to the second-floor landing. They walk in hostile
silence down the landing to the bedroom door, which she
INTERIOR. THE BEDROOM
It is a tiny bedroom. The bed is covered with purses and
summer stoles and other guest things. An uncovered,
improvised closet, really a rack of hanging dresses and
things, gives the room an overburdened look. Charlie comes
into the room after her, closes the door, looks for the
latch. She pushes some of the things on the bed aside and
sits down and waits while Charlie latches the door, a matter
of turning a bent nail into locking position. She begins to
So I finally got to sleep around six
thirty this morning. At nine thirty,
someone began pounding on my door
again. I got out of bed and opened
the door, and there was my landlord
with the pince-nez wearing a blue
silk kimono. "Oh, for heaven's
sakes," I said, "what do you want
now?" He said: "I'm the landlord,
and I want the rent." I said:
"You're an old man, go to sleep."
Then the phone rang. It was a boy
named Andrew I know who teaches
physics at Columbia University, and
he's insanely jealous. He's married
and has four children, but he keeps
badgering me to run away with him to
Nicaragua, throw up his professorship
and all that. Well, my landlord began
shouting some garbled Baudelaire at
the top of his lungs, and a little
Verlaine, and a little Huysmans. He
apparently has some kind of fetish
about French decadents. And
naturally, Andrew heard him, and he
got furious, and he said: "Who's that
I hear?" I said, "That's the
landlord." He said: "What does he
want?" I said: "He wants the rent."
Well, at this point, I felt like
chucking the whole business and
going back to Bessemer City and
going to work in my father's
Charlie has stood a moment, listening to this bizarre story.
Then he has busied himself cleaning a place beside The
Existentialist on the bed. He brings an end to the rococo
narration by putting his arms around The Existentialist and
in a moment, she responds hungrily.
CLOSEUP of Charlie and The Existentialist in a desperate
Just say you love me.
Just say you love me. You don't have
to mean it.
He tries to kiss her again, himself charged high at the
moment, but she turns her face away from him. The dialogue
is intense, whispered, hungry.
No, don't. ...
What's the matter?
Say you love me....
Say you love me....
I love you! I love you!
Look, maybe we ought to go someplace
else? I'm having a very tricky thing
going with my landlord and I don't
want him to see us leaving together.
So you know what you do? There's a
bar down the street. You go out the
door and turn to your right. You
know the one I mean?
Yes, I know.
Well, you go there and I'll be there
as fast as I can. Now, wait for me
now, because I can't stand being
alone at night. You'll like me. I'm
supposed to be very amusing. All
She turns abruptly and goes out the door. He stands for a
moment and then follows. He stands on the upper landing,
watching her pick her way down the stairs into the living
She looks quickly around the room, apparently finds whom she
is looking for, and moves quickly to a little group of men,
one of whom is about sixty years old with a thin elegance
and a cruel face, the landlord. He has several young men
around him, all rather frail, Ivy-Leagueish. She joins the
group, to the distaste of the young men, and is immediately
voluble and gesticulatory. After a moment, Charlie lets his
eyes wander over the room, apparently sees Eddie.
Hey, Eddie ...
Apparently, Eddie doesn't hear him. Charlie frowns and
begins making his own way down the stairs to the living room.
INTERIOR. LIVING ROOM -- GREENWICH VILLAGE APARTMENT
Charlie moves down the stairs into the living room proper.
He makes his way to Eddie, who is still sitting in the back
of the room, throwing an intense pitch at his girl, talking
quickly, smiling, gesturing.
Eddie, I'm cutting out.
(standing, low voice)
Wait a minute, I'll go with you.
I don't want to take you away from
your girl, Eddie.
Aah, this one lives out in Long
Island with her mother. What kind of
Communist is that? It'll take me a
half hour on the subway there and a
half hour back.
Where's Arnold? Still in the kitchen?
I guess so.
(to the girl)
I'll see you, next time I get to
He starts off after Charlie who is already wandering through
the living room in the general direction of the kitchen,
looking about for Arnold. They pass The Existentialist en
route. She is saying: "... this boy named Charlie, I never
saw him before in my life, has been clutching at me all
evening. He's absolutely insane about me." Charlie leans
into the kitchen where Arnold is awake now, seated at the
small kitchen table, staring gauntly, unseeingly at his
fingers on the white porcelain-topped table. There are two
men, one middle-aged, one young, having a whispered chat
over the sink.
Hey, Arnold, come on.
Arnold stands obediently, almost dumbly. He squeezes around
the table, his face soddenly expressionless, to join Eddie
and Charlie in the kitchen doorway. Eddie is saying to
Well, it wasn't a bad party. We
killed a couple of hours anyway.
The three men push their way past three women in their
thirties, who are standing in the little hallway before the
front door, in earnest brow-furrowed conversation with each
other. Charlie opens the door, and the three morose
carousers go out into the dark street.
EXTERIOR. GREENWICH VILLAGE APARTMENT -- NIGHT
The three carousers come out into the street. The door
closes behind them. The night air is hot and muggy. They
walk down the street toward the corner where only the light
of the corner bar gives any indication of life. There is a
newspaper on the sidewalk which Eddie bends down to pick up,
and the three men straggle to a halt. Eddie opens the paper
to the sports pages and starts to read by the light of the
street lamp. Arnold moves a step to the lamp and leans
against it. Charlie stands in the middle of the sidewalk, a
melancholy, pondering young man. The evening seems to have
come to a dead halt. After a moment, Eddie starts walking
again, reading the paper as he does. The others slowly
gather themselves and follow him.
INTERIOR. THE CORNER BAR
A wall clock reading twenty-five minutes to three. CAMERA
PANS DOWN the wall. We are in the bar on the corner of Tenth
and Sixth, almost entirely empty except for Charlie, Eddie,
Arnold, and the bartender. The three carousers are leaning
wearily on the bar over their beers; the only other person
in the bar is a worn, battered old veteran of the streets, a
woman in her forties, bespectacled, who is perched on a bar
stool at the far end of the bar, gloomily reading a
newspaper. CAMERA MOVES DOWN and IN on Charlie, Eddie, and
... I mean, you can't compare the
two. This kid the Yankees have in
centerfield. Are you trying to tell
me he's a natural .368 hitter? What's
he normally hit, .310, .315? Musial
led the National League in hitting
six times. He's only having a fair
year, this year -- and he's still
hitting .320. Musial is an all-time
Yeah. I guess so.
(stiff with liquor)
Eddie -- Eddie. So what do you think,
Eddie? You think I ought to go
through with this marriage?
I don't know about you, Arnold, but
if it was me, boy, I'd be in China
(back to Charlie)
Who have the Yankees got on first?
Skowron. Boy, how they touted
Skowron. All right, he's having a
... Well, I mean, is there any
argument? Hodges is the best first
baseman in both leagues....
So, Eddie, what do you think? You
think I ought to marry her, go to
China, or what?
Arnold, if it bothers you so much,
call her up and tell her to forget
the whole deal.
(back to Charlie)
All right Hodges is having a bad
year -- but how about last year? He
hit over .300. He only hit thirty-
five homers and he drove in over a
Arnold! Get rid of her! You're
driving me crazy!
Arnold lowers his head, and he rises, loses his precarious
balance and moves backward a few lurching steps.
All right, who's on second? We got
Charlie Neal or Gilliam, for that
matter, and this isn't even counting
Jackie Robinson, head and shoulders,
even with a trick knee, the best
second baseman in both leagues if
they'd let him play there. We got
three guys, for Pete's sake, who can
outplay anybody the Yankees put on
Arnold weaves slowly up the bar to the two phone booths at
the far end of the counter. Then walks out of shot.
Ever see Charlie Neal go to his
right? That Yankee guy, what's his
name -- he can't go to his right.
And don't forget Neal gets a lot of
bases on balls, and once he's on the
bases, man, it unnerves the pitcher ...
The bartender decides to take issue.
What's Brooklyn going to do for
Never heard of Newcombe? Never heard
What have you got to compare with
Ford, Kucks, McDermott, Turley---
McDermott -- McDermott hasn't
pitched a full game since last year.
The best relief pitcher in both
What's the matter with Eddie Roebuck?
How do you compare Eddie Roebuck
What are you, a Yankee fan?
Well, drop dead.
back to Charlie)
A Yankee fan.
There is a sudden bellow off.
Eddie and Charlie slowly turn to look in Arnold's direction.
CAMERA PANS to see Arnold from their point of view, a
wavering, drunken young man standing in front of the phone
I did it.
You did what?
Arnold staggers a few paces into the center of the empty bar.
I just woke her up! I called her! I
said: "I'm not going to marry you.
What do I want to marry you for? I'm
having a ball. What am I going to
marry you for?"
What is he talking about?
Then, suddenly, effortlessly, Arnold sinks down onto the
floor -- out cold. For a moment, Eddie and Charlie regard
the prostrate form.
Boy, he's gone.
Eddie and Charlie move to Arnold, lying curled stiffly on
I think he's just called his girl,
broke his engagement.
Is that what he was yelling about?
(trying to raise
Wake up, kid. Help me get him up,
You think he did it because I was
needling him there before? I was
just needling him.
The two men contrive to lift Arnold and get him onto a stool.
You better get him out of here
because I'm closing up now.
We better get him home.
Ah, let's not break it up yet. I
thought you were waiting for this
It's three o'clock in the morning,
for Pete's sake.
Take him out in the air. He'll be
What a bachelor party. We start out
celebrating the guy's wedding; we
wind up breaking his engagement.
(moves to bar)
What do we owe you here?
(he puts some change
on the counter)
Eddie, pay it, will you? I gave you
the ten bucks.
to the bar)
What do you want to go home for?
It's going to take us an hour to get
him home. He lives in Queens
somewheres. By the time I get back
to Fourteenth Street, it'll be
daybreak. What are you going to do,
stay up all night? Don't you want to
go home sometimes?
What am I going to do home? I read
all the papers.
(crosses to Arnold)
Well, go to sleep then.
Ah, don't go home, Charlie. I feel
like doing something.
Charlie turns to him, a cold fury in him.
What? Stand around this bar and
argue about the Yankees and the
Dodgers? Wind up with some miserable,
lonely girl who begs you to say, "I
love you"? Go home, Eddie. Go to bed.
You got to go home sometimes. I'll
take Arnold home. Come on, Arnold,
kid. I'm going to take you home.
Arnold manages, with Charlie's arm, to get out of the booth
and stand. Charlie's firm arm holds him, and they start for
the exit. Eddie watches the two figures making their way
down the length of the bar to the door. They exit. The door
shuts behind them. For a moment, Eddie regards the closed
door. Then he shuffles to the bar, back to his schooner of
beer and looks at it without taking it up. He is profoundly
weary. His shoulders slump, his face sags. He runs his hand
down his face and shakes his head as if to clear it. He
turns and looks down to the other end of the bar where the
Bar Hag sits engrossed in her newspaper. He watches her for
Hey, honey, what are you, a Yankee
fan or a Dodger fan?
The Bar Hag slowly turns to regard him over the rim of her
Bleakly, Eddie shuffles slowly down the long length of the
bar to where the battered old woman sits.
EXTERIOR. THE BAR -- NIGHT
HIGH ANGLE SHOT looking down on the sidewalk immediately
outside the bar Arnold and Charlie have just come out of.
There is a house with a small stoop, and Arnold is standing
slumped by the stoop, holding himself up by the iron railing.
He is being sick, quietly retching. Charlie is standing a few
paces away from him in the middle of the sidewalk, a deeply
unhappy figure in his own right. From our angle, we may or
may not be able to tell that Charlie is crying.
CLOSE SHOT of Charlie standing in the middle of the sidewalk
of Sixth Avenue and Tenth Street, the whole dark world around
him, silent and empty. He is crying quietly, unashamedly, his
shoulders shaking ever so little. Behind him, Arnold is bent
over the railing of the stoop, weak and spent.
ANOTHER SHOT of the two men. Charlie stops crying, sighs, and
starts toward Arnold.
Are you all right, Arnold?
Arnold nods weakly. Charlie gets out a handkerchief and
gives it to Arnold who begins to weakly clean his chin and
spots on his suit.
Would you like to go back in and
Arnold shakes his head weakly "no."
What subway do you take, Arnold,
the BMT? Can you make it?
Arnold nods weakly. Charlie puts his arm supportively around
his friend's back, but Arnold makes no move yet, being
Come on, Arnold, I'll take you home.
There is a clicking of high heels on concrete pavement, and
Charlie looks up. The Existentialist has just come out of
the party several houses down and has come up a few steps
and is standing watching them. She has her bag and her light
summer stole. She nods to Charlie, sort of smiles, moves a
few steps closer to them.
Is he all right?
Yeah, he's all right. Look, I've got
to take my friend home...
The two men start slowly down the street to the corner.
Arnold leaning heavily on his friend. The Existentialist
stands, watching them a moment.
Are you coming back? Where does he
live? How long will you be?
REVERSE SHOT Charlie and Arnold just about getting to the
corner. Charlie hasn't heard her.
FULL SHOT of The Existentialist watching them disappear
around the corner. Then she turns, and, wetting her lips,
she hurries back to the house where the party is.
INTERIOR. BMT SUBWAY -- HURTLING NORTHWARD
Half past three, and the car is absolutely empty except for
Charlie and Arnold. Arnold is sprawled across the straw seat,
one leg buckled beneath him, the other on the floor. He is
sleeping heavily. Charlie sits expressionlessly, obviously
involved in deep introspection. The car buckets along into
INTERIOR. QUEENS APARTMENT HOUSE
Arnold and Charlie coming up to a landing. It is the third
floor; we can see enough of the corridor to see two
apartment doors, lettered "3D" and "3C." A small overhead
bulb provides a thin sketchy light. Charlie and Arnold
shuffle down the landing to apartment 3D. They pause outside
the door. The scene is played in low mutters and whispers.
Well, thanks a lot, Charlie.
You all right?
Yeah, I'm all right. I'm a little
groggy, but I'm awake anyway. You
don't want to come in, do you?
No, I don't think so.
I think my father and mother are up.
I hear voices. My girl must have
called them because they wouldn't
be up at this hour.
Well, you just go in and explain to
them that you were drunk, and you're
sorry, and you'll call your girl the
first thing in the morning because
she must really be upset about this.
(who has been
I think she's here.
My girl. I think I hear her voice in
Well, be nice to her, Arnold.
Remember, you woke her up in the
middle of the night and probably
scared her to death.
What'll I say to her, Charlie?
I don't know, Arnold. What do you
feel like saying to her? Do you
really love this girl? Do you want
to marry her? Are you marrying this
girl because your family wants you
to marry her, or why?
I think I like her, Charlie. It's
just that I'm afraid I won't make a
Well, tell her what you told me,
Arnold. Tell her you're scared, and
that you don't think you'll make a
good husband. If she's a halfway
decent girl, she'll try to understand
how you feel, and, if she loves you,
she's going to make it her job to
make you happy. That's what love is,
Arnold, when you have somebody else
in the world you want to be happy.
My wife, Arnold, I don't know what
I'd do without her. Arnold, I've got
a tough grind ahead of me. Work all
day, I'll go to night school at night.
But my wife knows that I need this to
be happy, and she does everything she
knows to help me. And we've got a
baby coming. But if you love that
baby and you love your wife, then
it's easy. Everything seems so easy
to me now -- I don't know why I even
thought of quitting.
(tears have welled
in his eyes, and he
hurriedly puts his
hand to his face
shading his reddening
Arnold, I want my wife so much right
now. I want her to be happy. I want
to just go home and hold her and tell
her how much she means to me. I mean,
even Walter, he's going to die, but
don't you think he'll be in tomorrow
morning, same old Walter, jokes and
laughs? He's got somebody to live
for. He's even got somebody to die
for. I mean, how rich can a man be?
And poor Eddie -- I used to be so
jealous of him. I used to think he
was so free. Free from what? From
loving a woman, from really wanting
a woman. Arnold, what I'm trying to
tell you is life is nothing if you
don't love somebody but life is
wonderful if you do love somebody.
Arnold, I want my wife so much right
Arnold is a little embarrassed by his friend's display of
emotion and, frankly, hasn't understood a word Charlie was
I'm going to tell her about that
woman tonight and everything. I'll
tell her about that woman.
Arnold, I want to get home so much
to my wife right now I'm going to
I'll see you, Charlie.
Good-bye, Arnold, have a nice
honeymoon. I'll see you when you get
I'll see you, Charlie.
But he is talking to an empty staircase. Charlie has plunged
down into the darkness of the floor below. Arnold turns and
sighs and shuffles back to the door of his apartment. He
rings the bell lightly, takes a deep breath. A moment, and
the door opens. A girl of about thirty-five, bespectacled,
rather plain, with a sensitive face, stands in the doorway.
Arnold stands, his head down in shame.
Hello, Louise. I'm very sorry,
Sure, Arnold, I know.
She looks anxiously over Arnold's shoulder to see if anyone
else is there. Arnold lumbers past her into the apartment.
Voices, both male and female, pop out at him. "What's the
matter with you, are you crazy?" "What's the matter with
you?" "For heaven's sakes, where have you been?" ... The
EXTERIOR. STUYVESANT TOWN HOUSING PROJECT
LONG SHOT looking down the wide courtyard of Stuyvesant Town,
its endless little pathways winding from the various
apartment house doors to the central pathway which leads to
a stairway to the street. It is half past five in the morning.
The sky is gray and desolate. The courtyard and any other
street we see is absolutely empty. THE CAMERA PANS OVER this
empty expanse to the stairway where Charlie appears now,
coming quickly up the steps. He moves down the central
sidewalk, a little faster than he would usually walk; you have
the feeling he is exerting an effort to keep from running.
CAMERA PANS with him as he hurries to one of the winding side
lanes leading to a particular apartment house.
INTERIOR. CHARLIE AND HELEN'S APARTMENT
MEDIUM SHOT looking from the foyer of the apartment across
the dining area to the front door. The apartment is dark.
The door opens and Charlie comes in. He closes the door
quietly after himself and moves a few steps into the
apartment. He stops when he sees Helen seated on the couch,
wearing a kimono over her pajamas. She stands; she has been
I love you, Helen.
She moves slowly to him and puts her head on his chest and
cries quietly. He holds her tightly.
I love you so much, Charlie. I love
you so much....
I love you....
I love you, Charlie, I love you,
Charlie. I love you, Charlie ...
CAMERA MOVES SLOWLY UP AND AWAY from the young couple,
holding each other closely and tightly, murmuring to each
other in the dark living room of a two-and-a-half-room
apartment in a housing project.
Screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky