The Script

ROSCOE

A Comic-Tragedy

A New Musical
The story behind the trials of
Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle

Music: Seth Evans
Book & Lyrics: Don Stitt

© 2002 - FaultLine Productions -- S. Evans & D. Stitt

 

                    

(OVERTURE: As the overture is being played, a montage of highlights
from the films of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle is shown. We see him adrift
at sea with Mabel Normand. ("Fatty and Mabel Adrift.")We see him
dancing with Chaplin,("The Rounders") We see him hit Buster Keaton
with a sack of flour. ("The Butcher Boy".")We see
him arguing with Mack Sennett. (Mabel's Dramatic Career)
As the overture reaches it's crescendo, the music fades into the sound
of footsteps echoing, and the bluesy wail of a sax and the pulse
of a bass-violin. Another melody, that of a man whistling, is layered
on top of the rhythm of the footsteps, the sax, and the bass line.

We have segued from overture to the underscoring
of the first scene without stopping for applause. The shadowy figure
of THE OPERATIVE enters. He is wearing a hat and an overcoat, and
he leans against a lamp-post and lights a cigarette.)

 

SCENE 1

 

OP

It was the crime of the century, and three quarters of a century later,
the mere mention of it would continue to incite indignation, outrage,
even revulsion. It would be Hollywood's first real scandal, and the
newspapermen would blur the line between lurid fact and salacious
fantasy. The guys controlling the script weren't checking their facts.
Not everything is as it seems in a movieland scenario... this Hollywood
spectacle would be performed "on location," with Everyone's Favorite
City serving as backdrop. Sure, when you're preparing for a court of
law, you can call in a private dick...But who do you call to win a case
in the court of public opinion? You want true crime? Mystery? Lust?
Betrayal? Corruption? It's all here, pal. And  it all happened. Like I
said, the crime of the century.

(OP sings)

          THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY
          THAT'S WHAT THE PAPERS SAID
          THE MOVIE STAR MUST GO TO JAIL
          THE LOVELY GIRL IS DEAD....

The story begins in 1921, at a movie palace not far from Los Angeles.

(The SLATE MAN enters. He wears a vest,
an open collared shirt, and a tweed cap.
He carries a movie slate board with a clapper on it.)
 

SLATE MAN

Scene One, Alhambra, California, August 29th, 1921, Take one!
 

(The SLATE MAN claps slate board and exits.)

 

SCENE 2

 

OFFSTAGE VOICE

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Alhambra Bijou is proud to present one of
Hollywood's heavyweights...please welcome a truly big star of the silver
screen, the one, the only, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle!
 

(Cheers, applause, ROSCOE enters cheerfully, every inch a star, nattily
attired in a well-tailored suit. He motions to the conductor, who
cues in an arpeggio from the piano. ROSCOE sings "Leave 'Em Laughin'.")

                              

 

 

ROSCOE

(singing)
          I'M SWEARING OFF DAMES NOW,
           I'M TAKIN' THE PLEDGE
           I'M QUITTING THE FEMININE SEX
           EACH GAL THAT I SEE SOON APPEARS SHE COULD BE
           POTENTIALLY, MY FUTURE EX...
           THE GAME OF ROMANCE IS A TREACHEROUS ONE
           IT SURE HAS IT'S UPS AND IT'S DOWNS
           IT ISN'T THAT FORTUNE DOESN'T SMILE AT ME, PAL
           IT'S THAT WHEN FORTUNE SEES ME, SHE FROWNS.
          
           OH, THE GIRLS THAT I'VE LOVED HAVEN'T ALWAYS BEEN KIND
           I'VE OFTEN BEEN WOUNDED BY FATE
           WHEN BEAUTY IS FLAWLESS, SOMETIMES YOU WILL FIND
           A FLAWED POISON-ALITY TRAIT
           I'VE LEARNED A FEW LESSONS I NO LONGER NEED
           SINCE I'VE NO MORE NEED TO PITCH WOO
           IF YOU'LL LET ME IMPART WISDOM LEARNED IN MY HEART
           I WILL HAPPILY SHARE IT WITH YOU:
          
           YOU'VE GOT TO LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO,
           YOU'VE GOT TO LEAVE 'EM WITH A SMILE
           LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO
           MAKE IT THE GOAL OF YOUR SOUL
           TO MAKE 'EM ROLL IN THE AISLE
           YOU'VE GOT TO HEAR 'EM HOWLING WHEN YOU LEAVE,
           AND MAKE YOUR EXIT RIGHT ON CUE
           GOT TO LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO,
           THOUGH YOU KNOW
           THE JOKE'S ON YOU.
          
(spoken)
Let me tell ya about the first girl I ever knew. Her name was Patty. She
sure was pretty. She had blue eyes and freckles and pigtails. I was 7
and she was 6, and we were playing marbles one day and I realized I
wanted to kiss her. But she kept saying she had to go home right after
we were through playing, so I knew I had to think of a strategy to get
her to give me a kiss. But I'm not the world's fastest thinker. So I
decided to stall for time. I started to let her win. She took my aggie,
my opal, my cat's eye and pretty much all of my favorite marbles. Not
knowing what to do, I blurted out, "I want you to be my girlfriend," as
she shot. I guess I was hoping it would distract her. No luck, she nailed

 

my lucky marble, Bluebeard. She picked up the marbles and started to

leave. I said, "How 'bout a kiss for your boyfriend?"  She said, "I don't

want a boyfriend who's lost his marbles!"

(sung)
           YOU'VE GOT TO LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO,
           MAKE IT A CHEER YOU HOPE TO DRAW
           YOU MAKE 'EM TITTER, GIGGLE, CHORTLE, HOOT
           AND THEN YOU START IN TO BUILD
           UNTIL YOU REACH YOUR GUFFAW
           YOU'VE GOT TO HEAR THEM HOWLING AS YOU LEAVE,
           AS YOU ARE HEADING OUT THAT DOOR
           GOT TO LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO
           SO THEY ALWAYS BEG FOR MORE
          
(spoken)
I remember my first date. She seemed like such a nice girl. With such a
pretty name. Lucretia. We went to Playland, you know, by the beach? I
asked her if she wanted to go into the water, but she said she didn't
have a swim suit. So I bought her a swimsuit.
She sure looked pretty. Then she said she didn't want her hair to get
wet, so I bought her a bathing cap. But as we got near the water, she
told me she didn't know how to swim. I asked her if she wanted to see my
famous breast stroke. Whaddya know? She slapped me!

(sung)
           YOU'VE GOT TO LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING IF YOU CAN
           YA GOTTA TRY TO RAISE A SMILE
           'CAUSE ONLY LAUGHTER HAS THE POWER TO HEAL
           AND CAUSE THE HURTING TO CEASE
           AT LEAST FOR A WHILE
           YOU'VE GOT TO BRING THAT HOUSE DOWN WHEN YOU'RE THROUGH
           AND HEAR THE LAUGHTER AS YOU GO...
           GOT TO LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS IT ENDS
           EVEN THOUGH IT STOPS THE SHOW
          

(spoken)
Then one day I thought I'd found the right girl. We went everywhere
together. We were inseparable. Everything was perfect. So we got
married. Then things started to change. She started complaining that we
had settled into a routine. Nothing was new or exciting any more.
Marriage was boring, she said. Well, I could see what the problem was:
She was obviously crazy. So I called a psychiatrist
who does some kind of high-falutin' marriage counseling, or somethin'.
At first, he had us both coming in, but after a couple of weeks, he said
that since she was obviously the one who needed the counseling, he
wanted to arrange to meet with her once a week for private sessions.
Almost immediately, I noticed her mood improved. Then he said he wanted
to meet with her twice a week, and that since she seemed to be more
relaxed at home, he'd conduct the sessions at our house while I was at
work. That was fine with me, I said. Whatever he was doing, it seemed to
be making her happy! And that made me happy, too. Until I came home from
work early one day, and caught them in the midst of one of their
"sessions". Flagrante delicto! I said, "Hey! I'm payin' for counseling ,
not physical therapy!"

(sung)
           IT'S LIKE I TOLD YOU BEFORE
           ROMANCE IS HAZARDOUS STUFF
           SOME PEOPLE THINK IT'S A BORE
           AND SOME  JUST CAN'T  GET ENOUGH
           BUT LOVIN' MAKES YOU COMPLETE
           AND LETS YOU KNOW YOU'RE ALIVE
           A SENSE OF HUMOR'S REQUIRED
           FOR THOSE WHO HOPE TO SURVIVE

(spoken)
Now, everybody!

 

(A curtain descends with the words of the song written on it. The audience
is encouraged to "follow the bouncing ball", a circle of light created
by the follow-spot, which leads them through the song, sing-along
style.)

 

 

 

(sung)

           YOU'VE GOT TO LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO,
           YOU'VE GOT TO LEAVE 'EM WITH A SMILE
           LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO
           MAKE IT THE GOAL OF YOUR SOUL
           TO MAKE 'EM ROLL IN THE AISLE
           YOU'VE GOT TO HEAR 'EM HOWLING AS YOU LEAVE,
           AND MAKE YOUR EXIT RIGHT ON CUE....
           GOT TO LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO,
           THOUGH YOU KNOW THE JOKE'S ON YOU.
          
(spoken)
One more Time!

 

(sung)
           YOU'VE GOT TO LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO,
           YOU'VE GOT TO SEE LEAVE 'EM WITH A SMILE
           LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO
           MAKE IT THE GOAL OF YOUR SOUL
           TO MAKE 'EM ROLL IN THE AISLE
           YOU'VE GOT TO HEAR 'EM HOWLING AS YOU LEAVE,
           AND MAKE YOUR EXIT RIGHT ON CUE....
           GOT TO LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO,
           THOUGH YOU  KNOW THE JOKE...
          

 

(This note is high and long. As an aside, Roscoe says...)

That note was given to me by Enrico Caruso.
Boy was he glad to get rid of it!

(sung)
           THOUGH KNOW THE JOKE IS ON YOU!
 

(Applause. He speaks.)

Thanks folks! It's a pleasure for me to be here with you this evening,
in the lovely town of Alhambra, but I have to tell you, we almost didn't
make it. My friend Buster Keaton drove me down here, and we hit a
nail in the road, and we got a flat tire 10 blocks away. I sent
him out to take care of the tire, while I ran over here in time for the
show, but you just never know what to expect from Buster...(to the
follow spot) hey...Frank? You seen Buster Keaton? (to the stage
manager)Charlie, you seen Buster Keaton? (to the ushers) Take a look out
the front door and see if you can find my unusual little friend Buster
for me...
 

(BUSTER drives onto the stage in a 1915 Model A Ford that has a flat
tire. The car looks suspiciously like a movie prop
that has been rigged to gasp and wheeze. In the trunk are several spare
tires, and a bicycle pump.)

Buster, what are you doing with that thing here?
 

BUSTER

I couldn't find a place to park.

ROSCOE

Well, what about the tire?
 

BUSTER

It's hard to change a tire if you can't find a place to park.
 

ROSCOE

Well, I'm trying to entertain these people here! Say, folks, are ya
havin' fun? See that, Buster?
 

BUSTER

Oh, don't mind me...this'll just take a minute.
 

(BUSTER takes a tire out of the trunk, and dribbles it like a basketball
over to the flat tire.)

 

ROSCOE

As I was saying, I always look forward to these personal appearances,
because in movies, we don't get to have as much contact with our....WILL
YOU CUT THAT OUT?!!

(BUSTER stops dribbling.)

 

ROSCOE

Thank you.

(ROSCOE turns to the audience, with his back to BUSTER, who
sets up the jack.)

We don't get to meet our audiences because we...

 

 

 

(BUSTER rolls the tire deftly directly under Roscoe's rump, causing him
to hit the deck. He gets up and "frisbees" the tire at
Buster. Buster, beaning him.)

 

As I was saying, it's important for entertainers to get to know their
public, because how else will they...

 

(Buster is attempting to get the flat tire off the wheel of the car,
but it seems stuck. He pulls at it, but the rubber
just stretches further and further back.)

...know what the people who pay to see their films expect of them, and...

 

 

 

(BUSTER is holding the taut rubber at Roscoe's feet.)

BUSTER

Here, step on this for a second, will ya? I'm gonna saw it off.

ROSCOE

Huh? Oh, all right. As I was saying, we miss a lot by doing our acting
up there on the screen. We don't get to see you smile, or hear you
laugh, or applaud, so we don't...
 

(Buster has taken a hacksaw out of the trunk and is sawing away at his
end of the dead tire. The tire snaps like a rubber band back to
Roscoe's feet, causing him to leap up in pain and alarm. Upon alighting,
he is thrown off- balance, near the lip of the stage.
Roscoe tries to regain his balance, but it is to no avail...He plummets
into the orchestra pit.)

 

 

BUSTER

I guess this'd be a good time to mention that our new picture, The
Garage, is coming soon to a theater near you, and I'm working on my own
picture called Cops, and that'll be out some time next year. Anyhow,
thanks for coming!

 

 

 

(Buster has by now replaced the new tire, and drives
the car offstage. The orchestra plays a quick-tempo, playoff version of
"Leave "em Laughing", as Roscoe clamors back up onto the stage, hollers
after Buster, adlibs some goodbyes to the audience and exits after the
car.)

(As ROSCOE and BUSTER move "offstage," the set adjusts so that we
see them exiting into the wings. FRED is waiting for them.)

 

SCENE 3

 

FRED

Great work, boys! Just great. Wow! Do you hear that ovation?
 

ROSCOE

Hear it?  The music of my youth?
 

BUSTER

I wonder why people always think silent actors can't hear.
 

FRED

Fatty! Get out there and take another bow!
 

ROSCOE

Buster? Shall we?
 

BUSTER

Tally ho!

 

 

(ROSCOE and BUSTER cross step over one another as they return, briefly,
to the stage, bow, and come back off. Fred applauds throughout.)

They've always been spirited in Alhambra.
 

ROSCOE

Spirited? Any more spirit and we'd have a riot!
 

FRED

What a way to go out.
 

(The other two look confused.)

Well, I mean, Buster's going off to Schenk's to star in his own
flickers, and Roscoe goes down to Paramount with me Monday to renew his
contract. This was probably your last time working together...at least
for a while. I mean, you won't be at the same studio every day working
on the same picture, that's for sure.
 

ROSCOE

I hadn't thought of that.
 

BUSTER

I'll be damned. You're right!
 

(ROSCOE and BUSTER look at one another for a moment.)

Ah, what are we talkin' about. Hollywood's a small town. Just 'cause I'm
not working for you doesn't mean I won't see ya.
 

ROSCOE

Of course not. Still, the daily routine won't be the same without you.
 

BUSTER

Well, you have only yourself to blame for my film stardom, Roscoe. If
you hadn't put me to work, I'd still be doing three a day in vaudeville.
 

(By now the two have changed into their street clothes.)

 

FRED

Thanks for coming down, Buster.
 

BUSTER

My pleasure. We had some laughs, huh?
 

ROSCOE

Always did. Hey, I just remembered...I'm driving up to Frisco later in
the week. I'm throwin' a Labor Day party to blow off some steam. Gimme
a chance to show off my new Pierce-Arrow.
 

FRED

(feigning awe) Pierce-Arrow!
 

BUSTER

That's twenty five grand that looks like a million.
 

ROSCOE

I've booked three rooms at the St. Francis for the weekend. I figured
we'd bring in a couple of bottles of hooch, maybe a couple of girls...
 

BUSTER

Maybe a couple cases of hooch and a couple dozen girls...
 

ROSCOE

...well, whaddya say, Buster? Wanna come? It'll be fun!
 

BUSTER

Yeah, maybe. If I'm not wrestling with Natalie's lawyers, I may take you
up on it. He says she's not even gonna let me visit my own kids. I gave
her the house, I gave her the car, I gave her the bankbook .... and I've
got to negotiate to see my own kids. Marriage. A great institution. If
you ever again find me considering marriage, I want you to have me
locked up in a great institution. Gimme a call about that party. See ya
round, Roscoe. Take care, Fred.
 

ROSCOE

See ya, Buster.
 

FRED

Bye.

(BUSTER leaves)

 

ROSCOE

I sure hate to go to Paramount without him.
 

FRED

It doesn't look like they want to pay enough for the both of you.
Besides, he wants to do his own movies. He was right when he said you
have no one to blame but yourself for his being a star. Now, I have to
run. I'm meeting Mabel Normand for dinner. She may be leaving Sennett,
and Paramount would want to know. I'll meet you at the front gate Monday
morning at 10:30.
 

ROSCOE

All right, Freddy. See you then.
 

MINTA

Hiya, boys.
 

FRED

Hello, Minta. And goodbye, Minta!
 

ROSCOE

Minta! You're just in time! We were just starting with the ex-wife jokes.

(FRED leaves.)

 

 

MINTA

Keep those support checks coming, darling, and you can make all the
jokes that you like.
 

(She gives him a peck on the cheek.)

 

ROSCOE

What brings you here?
 

MINTA

Oh, it was a nice evening for a drive, and I hadn't heard you sing in
years.

 

 

ROSCOE

You drove 28 miles to hear your ex-husband sing?
 

MINTA

It was the voice I fell in love with, all those years ago.
 

ROSCOE

I'll tell you a secret. I miss you sometimes, too.
 

MINTA

Oh, that voice. When I miss your face, I can always pick up a fan
magazine. And when I miss your sense of humor, I can go down to the
picture show. But it's August, and that makes me think of our wedding,
and I saw in the paper that you were going to be singing, and...here I
am.

 

 

ROSCOE

How'd I sound?
 

MINTA

Not bad, for a silent comedian.
 

(They are holding hands now.)

 

ROSCOE

Gee, Minty, it's great to see ya. You look terrific. And you smell
delicious! Say...Why did we ever break up?
 

MINTA

(affectionately yet deliberately) Because you are positively impossible.
 

ROSCOE

(absent mindedly) Oh, yeah.
 

MINTA

"Our marriage wasn't wrecked. It was warped.  Eight years of never being
out of each other's sight would put a blight on most marriages."
(sings "I Couldn't Love You More")

 

           ON THE DAY WE MARRIED
           I DID NOT FORESEE
           THAT YOU'D LOVE YOUR PUBLIC
           MORE THAN YOU'D LOVE ME
           WEDDED BLISS AIN'T ALL THAT IT'S
           CRACKED UP TO BE
           THOUGH THE UNION'S ENDED
           OUR DIVORCE LASTS ETERNALLY
          
           WHEN YOU CAUSED ME STRESS
           YOU WERE SHOWN THE DOOR
           AND NOW I LOVE YOU LESS
           I COULDN'T LOVE YOU MORE
          
           YOUR DESIRE FOR SUCCESS
           WE COULD NOT IGNORE
           I HAD TO LOVE YOU LESS
           ' 'CAUSE I COULDN'T LOVE YOU MORE
          
           WE WEREN'T COMPATIBLE
           MORE LIKE COMBAT-ABLE
           AND WE BOTH HAVE OUR EGOS, HEAVEN KNOWS
           WE WERE COMPETITIVE, THINGS GREW REPETITIVE
           BUT SOMETIMES THAT'S THE WAY IT GOES
          

ROSCOE

Hey, Marriage is a two way street, and you're puttin' up one-way signs.
(sings)

           YOU BECAME A CHORE
           AND I BECAME A MESS
           AND THEN YOU HIT THE DOOR
           AND NOW MY HEART I FRESS
          
           SINCE LA BELLE AMOUR
           NEEDS A LIGHT FINESSE
           I COULDN'T LOVE YOU MORE
           SO I HAD TO LOVE YOU LESS
          
           IN THE VERNACULAR
           THINGS WEREN'T SPECTACULAR
           SOON WE FOUND OUR MARRIAGE ON THE LINE
           SEVERED LEGALITY, UTTER FINALITY
           STILL, OUR TWO ATTORNEYS MADE OUT FINE
          

BOTH

           SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE
           SOMETIMES MORE IS LESS
           THE SAME OLD THING'S A BORE
           AND WE WERE BORED, I GUESS
           STILL, I MUST CONFESS
           AS I HAVE DONE BEFORE
           I HAD TO LOVE YOU LESS
           'CAUSE I COULDN'T LOVE YOU MORE
          

MINTA

           IT COMES AS NO SURPRISE
           MARRIAGE IS COMPROMISE
          

ROSCOE

           STILL, WE LOST THE BATTLE JUST THE SAME
          

MINTA

           WHAT'S NOT PREVENTABLE
           CAN BE LAMENTABLE
          

ROSCOE

           WITH DIVORCE YOU DIVVY UP THE BLAME
          

BOTH

           ONE CAN ONLY GUESS
           WHAT LIVING HAS IN STORE
           WE PLAY THE GAME LIKE CHESS
           YET NEVER KNOW THE SCORE
           IN SPITE OF EACH CARESS
           YOU KNOW THAT I ADORE
           I'LL HAVE TO LOVE YOU LESS
           'CAUSE I COULDN'T LOVE YOU MORE.
          
           I'LL LOVE YOU LESS
           SINCE I CAN'T LOVE YOU MORE
          

SCENE 4

 

(crossover dance: VIRGINIA, ALICE, ZEY and BEBE do a little song
and dance "in one" before a drop of the Paramount gates.
This helps us set the scene to come, gives us a feel for
the time, and introduces our flappers. "The Hollywood Whirl")

 

VIRGINIA, ALICE, ZEY AND BEBE

(sing)
           PARAMOUNT, PARAMOUNT, PARAMOUNT!

           EVERYTHING'S FINE
           DOWN AT MELROSE AND VINE
           WHEN YOU'RE A GOOD LOOKING GIRL
           OH, MAKING A NAME
           IS LIKE STAKING A CLAIM
           HERE IN THE HOLLYWOOD WHIRL
          
           IF YOU HAVE PLUCK
           AND A SMIDGEON OF LUCK
           YOU OUGHTA GIVE IT A TWIRL
           OH, ALL THE GIRLS ARE
           HOPIN' THEY'LL BE A STAR
           HERE, IN THE HOLLYWOOD WHIRL
          
           THE TWENTIETH CENTURY'S OVER TWENTY-ONE NOW
           (DO-WACKA-DO!)
           LEAVE IT TO CONGRESS TO LOUSE UP ALL HER FUN NOW
           (TWENTY THREE SKIDDOO!)
           LIQUOR'S A CRIME  'CUZ THE VOLSTEAD ACT'S BEGUN NOW
           (BOOP-BOOPA DO!)
           AND THE OUTLAWS LIVE THE BEST
           IN THE HEART OF THE WILD, WILD WEST
          
           DO AS YOU PLEASE
           PUT SOME ROUGE ON YOUR KNEES
           SET YOUR BOBBED HAIR IN A CURL
           IF YOU LIKE SIN
           AND TOBACCO AND GIN
           YOU'LL LOVE THE HOLLYWOOD WHIRL
          

(Dance Break: as our four flappers do a little stop-time tap, the archway
drop goes out and we see a fancy bungalow on the lot,
which opens into Zukor's office.)

 

VIRGINIA, ALICE, ZEY, AND BEBE

           IF YOU HAVE PLUCK
           AND A SMIDGEON OF LUCK
           YOU OUGHTA GIVE IT A TWIRL
           OH, ALL THE GIRLS ARE
           HOPIN' THEY'LL BE A STAR
           HERE, IN THE HOLLYWOOD WHIRL
          
           IT'S GOOFY AND GAUDY
           IT'S BOOZY AND BAWDY
           IT'S SAUCY AND SASSY
           IT'S NAUGHTY AND BRASSY
           IT'S SILKY AND LACY
           IT'S RAUNCHY AND RACY
           HERE IN THE HOLLYWOOD WHIRL
          

OP

The bidding war for the services of Roscoe Conklin a.k.a. "Fatty"
Arbuckle had ballooned out of proportion in a town little known for it's
restraint. Paramount was the big winner; they had procured the talents
of the second most popular comedy star in Hollywood for the unheard-of
price of $3 million per year, plus artistic control. Then as now,
Hollywood hotshots had a cavalier disregard of hard-earned-cash. Giving
Roscoe the money didn't bother them a bit. What Arbuckle had won in the
bidding wars of 1921 was what the studio heads hated to relinquish;
power and control.

 

SLATE MAN

Scene Five: Paramount Front Office. Lock 'er up!
 

(Claps slate board)

 

SCENE 5

 

(FRED looks on as ROSCOE is directed through
the contract-signing process by ZUKOR)

 

ZUKOR

...and if you'll initial here...and here...and this rider here, and down
here we need your full, legal signature, and here, and here, and here...
 

ROSCOE

I'm getting writers' cramp.
 

FRED

Maybe you need to shorten your name.

ZUKOR

He's kidding, isn't he? It's the name Fatty Arbuckle that's worth the 3
million dollars.
 

ROSCOE

And the artistic control.
 

ZUKOR

Er, yes. Well, we want our stars to be happy, and Roscoe, you are the
biggest star in Hollywood.
 

ROSCOE

Unless you count Chaplin.
 

ZUKOR

I meant pound for pound. Your value to Paramount is immeasurable,
Roscoe. The film industry is exploding. Most American families go to the
picture show once a week. That's a lot of quarters, my friend. With
Chaplin, Fairbanks and Pickford starting United Artists and Sam Goldwyn
and Louis Mayer starting Metro, and Jack Warner and his brothers,
there's a lot of competition and our little enterprise is going to have
to give the people what they want if we're going to survive in the pig
pond. That's why we want you to be happy.
 

(Offers Roscoe and Fred cigars.)

 

ROSCOE

Well, it sure is a prestigious lot. I love showing it to people. All
these nice, modern bungalows. And that GATE! Boy, you really know you're
in a Hollywood studio when you see that wrought-iron gate, huh? We never
had anything like that on the Sennett lot, did we Fred? Isn't it funny
how quickly things change? The stuff that seemed so important on the
Sennett lot 6 or 7 years ago looks so unimportant today.
 

(Roscoe is now gazing out the window.)

 

FRED

Like Mack himself. The last 7 years have brought a lot of changes 'round
this town. These days, cowboy stars don't even have to know how to ride.
Hell, the biggest Western star in town is Rin Tin Tin.
 

ZUKOR

Well, as always, we want you to know that if there's anything the studio
can get for you, it's yours. As I said, we want you to be happy.
 

ROSCOE

At 3 million per year, there isn't much you can give me that I can't buy
myself.
 

OFFSTAGE VOICE

Mail Call!

(We hear the offstage voices of about four-dozen contract players waiting
to hear their name called. Most of the roll call the mailman reads
is background sound.)

Armetta...Babille...Banky...Barhtelmess....
 

ROSCOE

Hey, Fred...c'mere!
(Pointing out the window to the mail-call)
There's something from the Sennett days that hasn't changed much at all.
 

FRED

Which one.
 

ROSCOE

That little brunette there. Remember her?
 

FRED

Remember her? I remember what they SAID about her.
 

ROSCOE

What did they say about her.
 

FRED

She was a....
 

(Fred realizes he's about to cast aspersions about one
of Zukor's contract players and thinks better of it.)

She was the sort of girl who was reticent to refuse an invitation from a
gentleman.
 

ROSCOE

I wouldn't know. I never invited her. I could never think of her name.
 

ZUKOR

 

(Joining them at the window.)

All of our starlets are beautiful, aren't
they, Roscoe? Which one was it you were interested in?
 

OFFSTAGE VOICE

Rapp!
 

VIRGINIA'S VOICE

That's Rappe! (Pronounced rap-pay.)
 

ROSCOE

Yeah, that's it. Virginia Rappe!
 

ZUKOR

(Initially disdainful) Oh yes, Miss Rappe. One of our newer contract
players. I think she's going out with Henry "Pathe" Lehrman..

 

 

ROSCOE

(Disappointed) Oh, really? Path directed a couple of my pictures.
 

ZUKOR

But....NOT exclusively.
 

ROSCOE

Oh, so she....uh....
 

FRED

Gets around?
 

ZUKOR

You could say that.

 

 

FRED

Yeah, some things haven't changed much at all.
 

ZUKOR

Would you like to meet her, Roscoe?
 

ROSCOE

Oh, we've met. I'm pretty sure she'd remember me. I mean, I sure
remember her. You don't forget a girl like that. Hey, Mr. Zukor, did you
mean it when you said you'd do anything to make me happy?
 

ZUKOR

Sure, Roscoe.
 

ROSCOE

Well, I'm throwing a big party at the St. Francis Hotel in Frisco over
the weekend, and I got some of the fellers comin', but nobody for them
to dance with, and I was wonderin'...
 

ZUKOR

...you were wonderin' if Virginia and some of her girlfriends would be
interested in a weekend of jazz and food and dancing and libation?
 

FRED

Roscoe's like most comedians, Mr. Zukor. He doesn't take rejection all
that well.
 

ROSCOE

Could ya find out if she'd be interested, and if she is, have her give
me a call at the house before Thursday. I'd love to have her come to my
party!
 

ZUKOR

I'll be glad to ask her for you, Roscoe. And I wouldn't be at all
surprised to find out that the two of you danced the night away on a
hill by the bay.
 

ROSCOE

Hey, thanks a lot. Gee, I like it here already. I'll see ya next week.

 

 

FRED

See ya, Mr. Zukor.

 

 

ZUKOR

All right, boys. Don't do anything I wouldn't do!
 

(The other two exit. ZUKOR goes over to
the window, and opens it.)

Miss Rappe! Excuse me! Miss Rappe! Yes, you. Would you come to my office
right away? Thank you.

(ZUKOR comes around desk.)

Come in.
 

VIRGINIA

You wanted to see me, sir?
 

ZUKOR

Yes, Miss Rappe.
 

VIRGINIA

If it's on account of my being away from the studio last week, I have a
note from my doctor...
 

ZUKOR

No, Miss Rappe, please. Won't you sit down?

(She does.)

Now then, one of our stars has taken an interest in you?
 

VIRGINIA

Really? Oh, I hope it's Buddy Rogers. He has the most beautiful eyes...
 

ZUKOR

It's a much bigger star than Buddy Rogers.
 

VIRGINIA

Ooh, who is it? Tell me!
 

ZUKOR

It's Roscoe Arbuckle. (She is deflated.) He wanted to invite you to a
party he's throwing up north of here. Wanted to know if you might be
able to bring along some girlfriends who like to laugh and dance and
have a good time.

 

VIRGINIA

Aww, I don't like fat guys. And Roscoe's so sappy, I don't know what to
talk to him about. I mean, he's a nice enough fella, but he's a dope.
 

ZUKOR

br> I'd like for you to go.
 

VIRGINIA

(flirtatiously)
Anything for you, A.Z.

(SHE moves closer, HE moves away.)

Well, I'd need some money. I'll need to get a room, and find a car, and
we'll need gas and food and...
 

ZUKOR

Here's five hundred dollars. You can keep what you don't spend.
 

VIRGINIA

Five hundred? Say...What's the catch?
 

ZUKOR

I just want you to go and have a good time. Take along some girlfriends
who like to have a good time. Make sure everyone has a good time. And
that it looks like they're having a good time.

VIRGINIA

Whaddya mean?
 

ZUKOR

You know George, my publicity man? Well, it would make me very happy if
you and Roscoe could be seen together having a good time. Seen
together...and photographed.

VIRGINIA

Hmm. Five hundred bucks oughta leave me with a tidy profit margin. Okay,
boss. You've got a deal.
 

(Crossover.)

 

OP

Virginia Rappe called Roscoe Arbuckle at his home that very night.
 

SLATE MAN

Arbuckle Home, Scene Six, Quiet, everybody! We're tryin' to shoot here.
Pete, ring the bell, willya?
 

(HE claps the board. Soundstage bell rings. Telephone bell rings.
Music begins.ROSCOE answers the phone)

 

SCENE 6

 

ROSCOE

Hello?

VIRGINIA

Hi, Roscoe, it's Virginia Rappe. Mr. Zukor said you wanted to speak to
me.
 

ROSCOE

Golly, Virginia, I mean, it's great to hear your voice. Uh, yeah, I'm
throwing a little Labor Day get-together this weekend, and I wanted to
know if you wanted to come?

VIRGINIA

Sure, Roscoe, just tell me where and I'll be there.
 

ROSCOE

The St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco.

VIRGINIA

Ooh! Why San Francisco?!!
 

ROSCOE

Well, I thought it would be great to get away from the Hollywood rat
race.

(He sings "A Little Harmless Fun")
           HEY! WHADDYA SAY?
           WE TAKE A DRIVE TO THE BAY.
           A QUICK GETAWAY.
           IT MIGHT BE MORE THAN OKAY,
           EH?
          
           WHEN YOU WORK HARD, YOU PLAY HARD
           SO WHEN WORK IS DONE
           WHAT'S WRONG WITH HAVING
           JUST A LITTLE HARMLESS FUN?
          

VIRGINIA

           BUT WHAT'LL WE DO?
           WHEN I GET UP THERE WITH YOU?
           PLAY MUSIC THAT'S BLUE?
           AND WILL THERE BE  COCKTAILS TOO?
           OOH!
           A VACATION! ELATION!
           'CAUSE WHEN WORK IS DONE
          

BOTH

           WHAT'S WRONG WITH HAVING
           JUST A LITTLE HARMLESS FUN?
          
           EVERYBODY SETTLES INTO THEIR ROUTINE.
           WHAT WE ALL COULD USE IS JUST A CHANGE OF SCENE,
          

VIRGINIA

(spoken)
All right, Fatty, I'll be there. Where is it?
 

ROSCOE

The St. Francis Hotel. I'll be in room 1220.
 

VIRGINIA

Can I bring a couple of girlfriends?
 

ROSCOE

That'd be swell. The more the merrier, I always say!
 

(Virginia calls Maude)

MAUDE

Hello?

VIRGINIA

Hey, Maude, it's Virginia. Wanna go to a party?
 

MAUDE

Where?
 

VIRGINIA

San Francisco.
 

MAUDE

What?! Are you out of your....
 

VIRGINIA

It's being hosted by a millionaire!
 

MAUDE

I just ADORE San Francisco!

VIRGINIA

(sings)
           SAY, WHADDYA THINK?
           THEY'RE SERVING GOOD FOOD AND DRINK.
           BE THERE IN THE PINK
           AND YOU  MIGHT PICK UP A MINK!
           THINK!
           HE'S GOT MONEY,  HE'S FUNNY
           (THO' HE WEIGHS A TON.)
           WHAT'S WRONG WITH HAVING
           JUST A LITTLE HARMLESS FUN?
                             

 

 

MAUDE

Who's the millionaire?
 

VIRGINIA

Fatty Arbuckle!
 

MAUDE

Oh, sister....you have called the right gold-digger.
 

VIRGINIA

See if you can think of any other girls who'd like to take a trip up
north for some....prospecting!
                   

 

 

MAUDE

I know just the gal!
 

(lights shift; ROSCOE answers his phone)

 

ROSCOE

Buster! Glad you called. I was watching your new flicker yesterday. It's
great, but...Do you realize you never smiled once in the whole film?
                   

 

 

BUSTER

           WELL, WOULDN'T YA KNOW?
           I WON'T BE ABLE TO GO.
           PRODUCTION'S  TOO SLOW
           ON THIS HERE NEW PICTURE SHOW,
           SO....
           YOU CAN PLAY WHILE I WORK
           IN THE HOLLYWOOD SUN
           I WON'T BE HAVING
           ANY STINKIN'  FUN!
          

(Lights shift: Zey answers her phone.)

 

ZEY

Hello?
 

MAUDE

Hello, Zey? What's up?
 

ZEY

The Graf Zeppelin. Why?
 

MAUDE

Have I got a proposition for you.
 

ZEY

(sings)
           SO, WHADDYA KNOW?
          

MAUDE

           I KNOW A FELLER WITH DOUGH
           AND A PARTY TO THROW.
           D'JA THINK THAT YOU WANNA GO?

 

ZEY

           OH?
           RECREATION? LIBATION?
           I'M IN!
          

MAUDE

           GOTTA RUN!
          

BOTH

           AIN'T NO HARM IN
           JUST A LITTLE HARMLESS FUN?
          
 

(Through the wonder of scenic wizardry, the nebulous "telephone set"
  opens to reveal a spectacular view of the bay from nob hill)
ALL BUSTER
EVERYBODY'S FAV'RITE CITY BY THE BAY.
WHAT A WOND'ROUS PLACE TO GO AND GET AWAY
ON A GLORIOUS DAY!
THEY'RE OFF TO PLAY!
WELL, WOULDN'T YOU SAY
IT'S GRAND TO BE BY THE BAY
ON A BEAUTIFUL DAY,
OUR TROUBLES ARE MILES AWAY
YAY!
WHEN YOU WORK HARD, YOU PLAY HARD
BUT WHEN WORK IS DONE,
WHAT'S WRONG WITH HAVING

WELL, WOULDN'T YOU SAY
IT'S GRAND TO BE BY THE BAY
ON A BEAUTIFUL DAY,
MY TROUBLES AIN'T MILES AWAY

SEEMS MY WORK
IS NEVER DONE.

 

ROSCOE

JUST A LITTLE . . .

 

MAUDE

JUST A LITTLE . . .

 

VIRGINIA

JUST A LITTLE . . .

 

ZEY

JUST A LITTLE . . .
 

ALL BUSTER
JUST A LITTLE HARMLESS FUN? GOT NO STINKIN' FUN HARMLESS FUN!

 

 

ROSCOE

IF YA KNOW WHAT I MEAN!
 

SCENE 7

 

(Crossover: During the following monologue
by the Pinkerton Op, the principal characters
act out the undisputed facts of the case in pantomime,
perhaps under a strobe light, in a manner reminiscent
of a silent comedy. "The Victrola Medley")

 

OP

What happened next would be the subject of controversy for many years to
come.. Here are the facts. On September 4, 1921, Roscoe and Fred
Fischbach arrived at the St. Francis Hotel in Roscoe's Pierce-Arrow, and
checked into rooms 1219, 1220, and 1221 . The following morning, Virgina
Rappe, Maude Delmont and Al Semnacher entered room 1220. They had each
taken rooms at the nearby Palace hotel, as had Ira Fortlouis, who seems
to have known Virginia Rappe from her days as a lingerie model. (A lot
of people had taken an interest in Virgina Rappe, or so it seems.) .Zey
Prevon and Alice Blake, two showgirls, also joined the party at some
point. From all accounts, the party was a great deal of  fun. Arbuckle
had large quantities of food, Gin, Whiskey and orange juice delivered,
despite the threat of prohibition, and in fact, it appears that the
whole purpose of the party, for most of those involved, was to consume
good food and liquor, to dance to jazz recordings, and to enjoy the
company of the opposite sex. Rumors of the showgirls dancing in various
states of undress persist to this day. It is precisely because of the
vast anounts of liquor consumed that the details of what followed would
differ substantially, depending on who was telling the tale.We know that
a drunken Virginia Rappe went into the bathroom of room 1221 in the
early afternoon, and began to throw up. While she was in the bathroom,
Arbuckle joined her and shut the door; another 15 minutes would go by
before either one was seen.It is this 15 minutes that would be in
question for a long time to come. Did something happen in that time?
Something violent? Sexual? Scandalous?

The only two people who could say for certain were Virginia and
Roscoe.We DO know that Roscoe helped clean Virginia up, wrapped her in
his dressing gown, and laid her out on his bed. He then admitted some
guests to the party in his pajama bottoms, and joked with his friends.
But Virginia's condition didn't improve when she stopped vomitting; some
accounts suggest that she had begun hemoraging vaginally by this point.
We do know that she became hysterical, despite or perhaps because of the
alcohol she had ingested. She became  convinced that she was dying, and
for reasons that are still unclear, she began to rip off her clothing.
Fred Fischbach drew a cold bath while quibbling with Maude Delmont over
the best treatment for Virginia's mysterious condition. Ice was added to
the already cold bathwater, and Fischbach lowered the nude and
still-screaming Rappe into it to stop or slow the hemorhaging. This
treatment may have made matters worse instead of better.We do know that
the icewater did NOT make her scream any the less. Roscoe carried the
girl to a near-by suite and put her to bed. The hotel's house doctor was
called in, as was another local physician. Roscoe returned to his party
to find that most of his guests were leaving. The general consensus
seems to have been that Virginia's illness had been brought on by too
much bootleg gin; "she'd be fine when she'd slept it off." Roscoe left
her in the care of the St. Francis hotel, and took a steamship back to
Los Angeles.The staff of the St. Francis had Virginia admitted to a
nearby hospital the following Thursday.She was examined by several
doctors and nurses, none of whom seemed particulary alarmed by her
condition upon her arrival. But by the end of the week, Virginia took a
turn for the worse.(Underscoring ends.)  On Friday, Virginia died.
 

SCENE 8

 

(Arbuckle home. R0SCOE opens the door to see a
large group of men clammoring to get to him.)

 

ROSCOE

Hey, who the hell are you people. What are you doing on my property? You
better get out of here before I call the cops.
 

REPORTER 1

Were you involved with the girl for a long time?
 

REPORTER 2

Is it true that you had a falling out with Henry Lehrman?
 

REPORTER 3

Who supplied you with the illegal liquor?
 

REPORTER 1

Do you think the publicity will affect you at the box office?
 

ROSCOE

Look, fellas, I don't know what you're talking about. If you have any
questions, talk to my secretary at the studio. I know better than to say
anything until I know what you're talkin' about. Now please, fellas, off
my property until I have something to say. Don't make me call my
security goons. They don't play nice. Now get outta here.
 

(The REPORTERS start to back off slightly, and a few disperse. One man
is still pushing his way through the crowd to get to the front door.)

Hey pal, that goes for you to. I'm sure the publicity department at
Paramount can answer any questions you have about...whatever it is that
you want to know.
 

SF SHERIFF

Roscoe Arbuckle?
 

ROSCOE

Yes?
 

SF SHERIFF

You are under arrest for the murder of Virginia Rappe.
 

(Sheriff cuffs him. Blackout. Crossover.)

 

OP

Roscoe Arbuckle was formally charged with murder in San Francisco on
Saturday, Sept. 10th.

(Prison bars descend in front of ROSCOE.)

 

SCENE 9

 

(Crossfade: Henry "Pathe" Lehrman's studio)

 

OP

They say that sharks can smell blood from a mile away. And that in a
matter of minutes, the smell can lure a whole school of 'em.
 

SLATE MAN

Scene Nine: Lehrman Studio. Okay, everybody, let's do it.
 

(Claps slate board.)

 

PATH

I'm glad the fat bastard got nailed, see? Arbuckle's been pressuring me
lately to pay back the money I owe him. I told him I'd give it to him
when I can, but he's become a pest.
 

AL

How much do you owe him?
 

PATH

I owe him plenty. Never you mind. I gave him my studio these last 10
months just to give him somethin' as a payback, since I was flat broke,
but that wasn't enough for the slob. This is where you two come in. I've
hatched a little scheme to get him off my back once and for all, and
turn us a tidy little profit as well.
 

MAUDE

What have you got up your sleeve, Path?
 

PATH

What else? A plan to turn nothin' into somethin'. Just like we all do in
the movie business. Cook up an entertaining story and see if it makes
you rich.
 

MAUDE

It will have to be a pretty big lie for us to get rich off it.
 

PATH

The bigger the lie, the more the people want to believe it. He's so
well-known, we can say anything we want to. Blackmail is a
possibility...but we can probably make the same kind of money by telling
the right tales to the right reporters.We'll make some money off
Arbuckle's hide, whether he pays us or the tabloids do.
 

AL

I'm still not sure I get what you're suggesting.
 

PATH

If you wanna make money in Hollywood, you gotta give the people a show.
I'm proposing an entertainment. A money-making venture. Just a little
street theater, ya know? If we do the right dancin', they'll start
throwin' pennies to us.
 

AL

Do tell.
 

PATH

This is a little number I call The Extortion Tango.
 

MAUDE

Ooooh! May I have this dance...?
 

PATH

(dancing with Maude He sings "Extortion Tango")

           HE'S FRIENDLY AND HE'S TRUSTING
           WE COULD BE QUITE UNDERHANDED
          

AL

           AND I'M CERTAIN HIS WALLET MUST BE BUSTING
           LET'S TELL SOME TALES THAT ARE CANDID
 

MAUDE

           MAKE THEM FULL OF BOOZE AND LUSTING
          

PATH

           ROPE HIM IN WITH TALES FICTICIOUS
          
 

AL

           MAKE THE STORIES REAL DISGUSTING
          

PATH

           JUST BECAUSE WE'RE AVARICIOUS!
          

AL

           OH, YEAH!
           THE TIME IS RIPE FOR SOMETHING TREACH'ROUS
           A TALE LASCIVIOUS AND AND AND LECH'ROUS
           WE'LL GIVE THE FACTS A SLIGHT CONTORTION
           AND SOON BE RICHER FROM EXTORTION
          
           SHALL WE DANCE... THE EXTORTION TANGO!
 

PATH

           THERE'S PROFIT IN EXTORTION
          

AL

           IF YOU DON'T MIND BEING SLEAZY
           AND YOU KNOW THAT THERE'S  MONEY IN DISTORTION
          

MAUDE

           LET'S DO IT NOW SINCE IT'S EASY
           IF HE DOESN'T PAY OUR RANSOM
           HE'LL BE GOIN' TO THE HOOSEGOW
           MOVIE STARS LOOK MIGHTY HANDSOME
           WITH THEIR NECK INSIDE A NOOSE NOW
 

ALL

           OH, SURE!
           LET'S SET UP FATTY FOR A BILKING
           THE CASH COW'S READY FOR A MILKING
           WE'LL MAKE HIM OUT TO BE A VILLAIN
           AND IN THE PROCESS MAKE A KILLIN'
          
           SHALL WE DANCE...THE EXTORTION TANGO!
          

MAUDE

           I CAN TELL THE POLICE
           THAT SHE HAD BEEN ABUSED
           THAT HER TIME AT THE PARTY
           LEFT HER TRAUMATIZED AND BRUISED
           WE SHOULD MAKE IT OUTRAGEOUS
           SO THAT EVERYONE'S AMUSED
           WHAT A LAUGH !
 

PATH, AL

           WHAT A LAUGH!

 

 

MAUDE

           IT WILL BE
 

PATH, AL

           IT WILL BE
          
           WHEN THE FAT GUY'S ACCUSED
          

AL

           AS WE SOAK HIM!
          

MAUDE

           YOU'RE BRILLIANT
          

PATH

           I'M A GENIUS
          

AL

           ALTHOUGH YOU ARE SORT OF SMARMY
           ALL THE PAPERS WILL PRINT THIS
           WHEN THEY'VE SEEN THIS
          

AL

           WE'LL HIT HIM HARD LIKE AN ARMY
          

MAUDE

           I'LL TELL STORIES THAT ARE PHONY
           AND INSPIRE HIM TO ACTION
           AND IN NO TIME HE WILL PONY
           LOTS OF DOUGH FOR A RETRACTION
 

ALL

           OH SURE!
          
           NOTHING PERKS UP LIFE'S BANALITY
           QUITE LIKE A BIT OF CRIMINALITY
           GET HIS DONATION IN OUR BEGGARS' CUP
           HE'LL PAY US PLENTY JUST TO SHUT US UP!
          
           LET'S SET UP FATTY FOR A BILKING
           THE CASH COW'S READY FOR A MILKING
          

AL, PATH

           CAN YOU CONCOCT A TALE FOR BLACKMAIL?
          

MAUDE

           NOW, HAVE YOU EVER SEEN MY KNACK FAIL?
          

AL

           SHALL WE DANCE... THE EXTORTION TANGO!  OLE!

(Crossover)

 

OP

Still, the defense team had good reason to be optimistic.But they hadn't
counted on a force of nature that could wreak havok like a natural
disaster. They hadn't counted on William Randolph Hearst.
 

SLATE MAN

Scene Ten :Hearst Syndicate, President's Office. We're rolling!

(claps slate board)

 

SCENE 10

 

(Author's Note: The scene is intended as a parody of Citizen Kane...
It might be good to have an OrsonWelles-type fellow in a long black
coat and a big black hat, and Bernstein should be a little bald fellow
in a vest, wearing a visor.)

 

HEARST

Bernstein?
 

BERNSTEIN

Yes, Mr. Hearst.
 

HEARST

Listen, I just got the numbers for the weekend edition of the Examiner,
and they are astronomical! I checked to see what the headline was, and
it was because that movie clown, Fatty Argyle...
 

BERNSTEIN

Fatty Arbuckle...
 

HEARST

...whatever, was charged with murder.
 

BERNSTEIN

Did you like the touch of the superimposed prison bars over a studio
stock shot? I thought that one up myself.
 

HEARST

Atta boy, Bernstein. I want you to give me a lot more of that sort of
thing.
 

BERNSTEIN

What are you talking about?
 

HEARST

I want you to call the editor of every paper in the syndicate, and I
want you to tell them to run headlines about the Fatty Beltbuckle...
 

BERNSTEIN

...Arbuckle...
 

HEARST

...whatever, murder case until further notice.I want you to find me the
three most imaginative writers I have, and tell them I want them to
write me nothing but Arbuckle stories. The more outrageous, the better.
I'll have a bonus for the story that sells the most copies.
 

BERNSTEIN

But the charges against Arbuckle are lookin' pretty weak, boss. So weak
that the murder charge was dropped entirely. The DA barely got the judge
to admit a charge of manslaughter. Most people who know what their
talkin' about say she died because she was sick.
 

HEARST

That's fine. (As if he was unaware he'd just said it) I want you to call
the editor of every paper in the syndicate, and I want you to tell them
all to run headlines about the Fatty Arbuckle murder case until further
notice! The more outrageous, the better.
 

BERNSTEIN

Even if he didn't do anything?
 

HEARST

Bernstein, Rule Number One: Never let the facts get in the way of the
journalism.
(He sings "Big Numbers")

           ARBUCKLE'S TALE
           IS AN ISSUE THAT IS HOT
           SCANDAL REALLY SELLS
           BUT ALAS, THE TRUTH DOES NOT
           WHO CARES WHAT THE FACTS ARE
           PEOPLE WANT SENSATION
           I'LL PRINT ALMOST ANYTHING
           THAT'S GOOD FOR CIRCULATION
          

HEARST AND BERNSTEIN

           BIG NUMBERS
           BIG NUMBERS
           WE CAN'T SELL OUR ADS WITHOUT
           BIG NUMBERS
           GET THE BULLSHIT TO THEIR STOOP
           AS THE CITY SLUMBERS
           THIS GAME IS ALL ABOUT
           BIG NUMBERS (they dance a lick)
          

HEARST

           BACK IN '98
           WHEN WE WENT TO WAR WITH SPAIN
           SOME FEARED WHAT WE'D LOSE
           BUT I KNEW WHAT WE'D GAIN
           I TOLD MY REPORTERS
           'THERE'S LOTS WORTH FIGHTING FOR...
           YOU SUPPLY THE COPY
           AND I'LL SUPPLY THE WAR!'
          

HEARST AND BERNSTEIN

           BIG NUMBERS
           BIG NUMBERS
           CAN'T BUY CITY HALL WITHOUT
           BIG NUMBERS
           BULLSHIT WALKS BUT MONEY TALKS
           TAKING ANY COMERS
           THIS GAME IS ALL ABOUT
           BIG NUMBERS (they dance a lick)
 

BERNSTEIN

           EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT
           MOVIE STARS AND MADNESS
          

HEARST

           I GET VERY VERY HAPPY
           GETTING RICH OFF PEOPLE'S SADNESS
          

BERNSTEIN

           IF, ON OCCASION,
           WE FABRICATE SOME CAPERS?
          

HEARST

           HEY, IT'S NOTHING PERSONAL, MISTER,
           I'M JUST PEDDLIN' PAPERS
          

HEARST AND BERNSTEIN

           GIVE THE FOLKS A SCANDAL
           SOMETHING WE CAN PANDER
           AND IF THERE'S NO SCANDAL
           WE'LL FABRICATE SOME SLANDER
          
           GIVE 'EM SOMETHING LURID
           LIKE DEGENERATION
          

HEARST

           FACTS ARE FINE, OH, SURE, KID
           BUT I WANT CIRCULATION
          

HEARST AND BERNSTEIN

           BIG NUMBERS
           BIG NUMBERS
           YOU CAN'T RULE THE WORLD WITHOUT
           BIG NUMBERS
           WE DON'T GIVE A DAMN FOR WHO-
           EVER IT ENCUMBERS
           LET US PEDDLE PAPERS WITH
           BIG    BIG    BIG  BIG  BIG
           NUMBERS!
 

HEARST

By the way, Bernstein, it might not be a bad idea to "forget" that Rappe
has two "p's".

(CROSSFADE)

 

OP

So it quickly became a contest among the reporters to see who could
create the most eye-catching headlines...
 

SLATE MAN

Scene Eleven: Examiner Layout Room. Roll 'em!
 

(claps slate board)

 

SCENE 11

 

(The Layout Room of The Examiner.Three reporters
scribble notes furiously,   chain smoking as they go.)

 

REPORTER 1

All right, whaddya got?
 

REPORTER 2

How about this?'A number of chorus girls joined the party, and they
started dancing in various states of undress.'
 

REPORTER3

Feh.
 

REPORTER 2

Whaddya mean 'Feh'?
 

REPORTER 3

How excited do you want me to get. For all we know, that mighta happened!
 

REPORTER 2

You, I suppose, have something that outdoes naked showgirls?
 

REPORTER3

Ahem. 'The defendant threw himself, Keystone Kops-style, onto the poor
defenseless girl as she lay naked on the bed, crushing her entrails with
the weight of his massive bulk.'(he smiles proudly.)
 

REPORTER 1

Not bad, junior, not bad. But I am afraid you are looking at the guy who
is going to pick up the bonus.
 

REPORTER 2

Dazzle us with simile and metaphor. With wit and syntax. Paint for us a
vivid picture with words. Startle, jostle, shock and amaze us, oh
master. We bask in your aura and eagerly await your divine prose.

 

REPORTER 1

'The bladder may have ruptured when the defendant, unable to perform
sexually because of his corpulence, raped the innocent young lady with a
coca-cola bottle.' (The other two are stunned beyond words.) Well?

 

REPORTER 2

Well what?
 

REPORTER1

Well, whaddya think?
 

REPORTER2

Wow.
 

REPORTER 3

I think you're even more imaginative than I gave you credit for.
 

REPORTER 2

Sicker, too.
 

REPORTER 3

Sex, violence and a fat joke...it's got everything.
 

REPORTER 1

Yeah, but...whaddya think about the WRITING?
 

REPORTER 3

I think you just won yerself a bonus.
 

MAUDE

Hey, does anybody know where I can find a reporter around here?
 

REPORTER 2

Who are you, lady?
 

MAUDE

I'm the woman who swore the murder charge against Arbuckle.
 

(The REPORTERS swarm around her like maggots on roadkill.)

 

REPORTER 1

What did he do to her?
 

REPORTER 2

How did he do it?
 

REPORTER 3

Did you get any pictures we can use?
 

MAUDE

It's like this, see...
(She sings "Maude's Tale")
           IT WAS HOT
           ON NOB HILL
           THOUGH THE
           FOG IN THE AIR
           CAUSED A CHILL
           THERE WAS MUSIC AND VICE
           AND FOR PLEASURE
           ONE DOES PAY A PRICE
          
           AT THE SAINT FRANCIS SUITE
           THERE WAS PLENTY TO
           DRINK AND TO EAT
           IT WAS JUMPING WITH JIVE
           WHEN VIRGINIA AND I
           SHOULD ARRIVE
          
           FATTY
           CAME TO THE DOOR
           PAJAMAS
           WAS ALL THAT HE WORE
           HE BROKE
           OUT IN A GRIN
           AND HE TOLD US
           WE BOTH SHOULD COME IN
          
           "DID YOU COME
           VERY FAR?"
           FATTY ASKED
           AS HE SHOWED US
           THE BAR
          
           WE'RE REPELLED
           BY THE STINK
           SINCE VIRGINIA AND I
           NEVER DRINK
          
           WE BOTH FOUND
           HIM A BORE
           BUT WE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT
           WAS IN STORE
           "MAY I USE
           YOUR BATHROOM?"
           WAS THE QUESTION THAT
           LED TO HER DOOM.
          
           TO HIS ROOM
           SHE WAS LED
           THEN HE PUSHED GINNY
           DOWN ON THE BED
           THEY WERE THERE
           FOR AN HOUR
           THIS FAT MAN AND MY
           DELICATE FLOWER
          
           WHEN HE
           FINALLY RETURNED
           T'WAS THEN THAT THE
           HORROR WAS LEARNED
           MY POOR FRIEND
           WHOM I MOURN
           LAY THERE RAVISHED
           WITH ALL HER CLOTHES TORN
          
           IT WAS HOT
           ON NOB HILL
           THOUGH THE
           FOG IN THE AIR
           CAUSED A CHILL
           BUT I'LL TELL YA THIS TWICE
           THAT FOR PLEASURE
           ONE DOES PAY A PRICE
          

REPORTER 2

(spoken)
May we quote you in the papers, Mrs. Delmont?
 

MAUDE

Oh, I wish you would....
(sings)

 

           WELL, I'VE SAID IT NOW THRICE,
           BUT FOR PLEASURE ONE DOES PAY A PRICE...
          

MAUDE & THE THREE REPORTERS

 

(sing - reprise of Big Numbers)
           GIVE THE FOLKS A SCANDAL
           SOMETHING WE CAN PANDER
           AND IF THERE'S NO SCANDAL
           WE'LL FABRICATE SOME SLANDER
          
           GIVE 'EM SOMETHING LURID
           LIKE DEGENERATION
           FACTS ARE FINE, OH SURE, KID
           BUT WE WANT  CIRCULATION
          
           BIG NUMBERS
           BIG NUMBERS
           THERE'S NO BONUS HERE WITHOUT
           BIG NUMBERS
           WE DON'T GIVE A DAMN FOR WHO-
           EVER IT ENCUMBERS
           LET US PEDDLE PAPERS WITH
           BIG    BIG    BIG
           NUMBERS!

 

(Crossover: In the background we see the judge and attorneys arguing.)

 

OP

The sensational stories in the press put pressure on the District
Attorney's office to make a rush to judgement. If even a tenth of what
they were saying was true, then Arbuckle must be a monster. The fact
that it happened a few months before the official election year
campaigning was to begin was just a matter of comic timing...
 

SLATE MAN

Scene Twelve: District Attorney Press Conference.San Francisco Court
House. Action!
 

(Claps slate board.)

 

SCENE 12

 

 

U'REN

Mr. Brady will be taking your questions pertaining to the Arbuckle
Murder charge only. He will not be taking any election-related questions
at this time.
 

REPORTER 1

Why not?
 

U'REN

District Attorney Brady has not yet formally announced his intention to
run for Governor next year.
 

REPORTER 3

When do you think he will be announcing that?

 

 

U'REN

Perhaps momentarily. (BRADY glowers at him.) Er, gentlemen, I give you
the District Attorney for the City of San Francisco, Matthew Brady.
 

BRADY

On September 9th, a young woman named Virginia Rappe died at The
Wakefield Sanitorium after being brought in by the staff of the St.
Francis Hotel. We believe her death was brought about by Roscoe
Conkling Arbuckle, and we are charging him with murder in the first
degree. The people of San Francisco will not tolerate the drunkenness
and lechery that these Hollywood Hooligans are associated with within
the walls of their fair city. During my term as your District Attorney,
I like to believe that I have helped to restore law and order. In fact, I
should like very much to expand the lawfulness we have brought to our
city statewide, and perhaps I shall be permitted to, a year from
November. (shoots a look at U'Ren.) But for now, we have charged a
famous man with a despicable crime, and it does not matter to us one
whit that the eyes of the world will be upon this case. What matters is
the common good!

(He sings "In the Name of Decency")
           IN THE NAME OF DECENCY
           WITH SWIFTNESS AND AGILITY
           THIS ACTOR WILL BE TRIED
           TO THE BEST OF OUR ABILITY
          
           IN THE NAME OF DECENCY
           TO PRESERVE OUR TOWN'S INTEGRITY
           HE'LL BE PROSECUTED WELL
           IN THE MANNER THAT HE'S BEGGED TO BE
          
           OUR CITY IS CIVILIZED
           SOME SAY THE JEWEL OF THE STATE
           WE CAN'T LET BARBARIANS
           TARNISH THE GOLDEN GATE
           THIS SORT OF SCANDAL        (U'REN echoes this line)
           DECENT FOLKS DETEST            (  "         "         "     ")

           WE'LL SHOW L.A. THAT
           SAN FRANCISCO'S
           NOT THE WILD WEST
          

BRADY and U'REN

          
           IN THE NAME OF DECENCY
           FOR THE GOOD OF ALL HUMANITY
           GET THIS MENACE OFF THE STREETS
           RID OURSELVES OF THIS INSANITY
          
           AND IN THE YEAR TO COME
           IT'S THIS SERVICE YOU'LL REMEMBER
           FEEL FREE TO SHOW YOUR THANKS
           WITH YOUR BALLOT IN NOVEMBER
           WHEN YOU VOTE FOR MATTHEW BRADY
           A NAME OF INTEGRITY
           A NAME OF DIGNITY
           A NAME OF DECENCY
          

(Crossfade)

OP

But right from the start, competent legal authorities were dubious of
the veracity of the prosecution's case. The judge wouldn't admit a
charge of murder to be filed at all, and Brady had to settle for a
charge of manslaughter. The legal eagles Zukor hired all agreed that the
facts were decidedly in their favor, with the exception of one
consultant, one Clarence Darrow, who refused to take the case....
He said,"Arbuckle's weight will damn him; regardless of the truth"
The Hearst Newspapers used Arbuckle's reputation like a rugby ball. When
they weren't kicking it around, they were dragging it though the mud.
 

SCENE 13

 

(Pinkerton Office, San Francisco)

 

SLATE MAN

ScenThirteen: Pinkerton Detective Agency, Market Street Office waiting
area. Roll 'em! (ROSCOE is reading The Examiner.)
 

ROSCOE

My God, Fred, have you seen what they're writing about me?
 

FRED

Take it easy, Roscoe. Everything's gonna be all right. The studio's
prepared to put up all the expenses and pay all the legal fees it has to
while you plan your defense.
 

ROSCOE

How can this be happening?
 

FRED

The studio has assigned it's top lawyer to the case, and his track
record is as good as it gets.
 

ROSCOE

I just don't understand...
 

FRED

The lawyer wanted to know if we could afford a private investigator, so
Zukor told him to hire the best.
 

ROSCOE

What do I need a private investigator for?
 

FRED

The DA is trying to make Virgina out to be some demure model of 
womanhood who's been corrupted by the evils of show business...
 

ROSCOE

Now, I liked Virginia, and I'm sorry she died, but she was no...I
mean...she'd been around the block a coupla times...
 

FRED

...so that he can  make you out to be the evil Hollywood degenerate who
killed her.
 

ROSCOE

What? Why in God's name...
 

FRED

I'm sorry, Roscoe, but that's what you're up against. This Matthew
Brady, the San Francisco DA, is hell-bent on getting into the governor's
office. He sees a lot of publicity in a murder trial involving a big
celebrity. Publicity means money. Figure it out, Roscoe...to a
politician, it doesn't matter if you're innocent or guilty. It only
matters if you can, you know, DO for 'em. You can do more for this
politician by taking a bum rap. That's why you need a detective. To prove
that Virginia was no...wasn't the person they're portraying her as. To
prove that she died because she was sick, not because you murdered her
by....
 

ROSCOE

By what...?
 

FRED

Well, Roscoe...by some accounts, you supposedly...SUPPOSEDLY... damaged
her internally when you, er...inserted a bottle into her, uh, birth
canal.
 

ROSCOE

What?
 

FRED

One report says it was a coke bottle, one says it was a beer bottle, one
even says it was a champagne bottle. One paper, three different bottles.
 

ROSCOE

I think I may throw up.
 

FRED

Another report says that you....wait, I have it here...

(reads from a folded up newspaper clipping)

"...ruptured the victim's bladder when he hurled himself, slapstick
style, onto the girl as she lay on the bed."
 

ROSCOE

Oh, I'm not just a pervert, I'm a fat pervert. Who thought this stuff
up? Or worse, who's going to believe it.
(An uncomfortable pause.)

You don't believe it do you, Fred?
 

FRED

Roscoe, I know it's not true. The girl died of peritonitis. At least
that's what the autopsy report said. It's pretty hard to murder a person
with peritonitis. But it doesn't matter what I think, and it doesn't
matter whether it's true or not. The papers are running wild with these
stories, for whatever reasons, and the public may be believing it. There
have been boycotts of Fatty Arbuckle pictures from Wyoming to Texas. The
only way to clear your name is by winning in court of law.

That's why we called The Pinkerton Agency. Would you mind
talking to the fellow?
 

ROSCOE

Oh, all right.
 

THE OLD MAN

Mr. Fischbach, Mr. Arbuckle, good day. I'm so sorry to have kept you
both waiting. You see, we here at the Pinkerton Agency believe in doing
things thoroughly, and by the book.
 

ROSCOE

Yes sir. Your reputation precedes you.
 

THE OLD MAN

Well, I'm glad I took that last call. You see, it was from my superiors
in Los Angeles, and...well, I must admit, this is an embarrassing
position to be in, but...I'm afraid we won't be able to take your case.
 

ROSCOE

But, I'm innocent. Really!
 

FRED

We have a blank check from Paramount here, if it's about the money...
 

ROSCOE

Please, you have to help me...
 

THE OLD MAN

It's impossible, I'm afraid.
 

ROSCOE

But, why?
 

THE OLD MAN

I really can't comment, officially. But since I brought you all the way
down here for nothing, (sotto voce) I will tell you something
unofficially. Off the record.
 

ROSCOE

Yes?
 

THE OLD MAN

One of the few circumstances that would prevent us from offering our
services to a party would be a potential conflict of interest. I'm
very sorry we can't be of assistance. And now, I'm afraid you'll have to
excuse me.

(He leaves.)

 

FRED

Damn. They're working for the prosecution.
 

ROSCOE

Oh, no!

 

SCENE 14

 

OP

This is where I come in.
(lights  a cigarette, over bluesy sax)
I'm an operative for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. You know,  a
private eye. A shamus. A gumshoe. A private dick.
(coughs, throws cigarette away.)

Filthy habit. Anyways, like I was sayin', detective work isn't quite
like they make it out to be. Those pulp novels make it sound glamorous
and exciting, but most cases are like the Arbuckle case was for
me...long days and longer nights of reading and reasearching, checking
facts, of finding to people and listening to 'em talk.....

(sings, bluesy)

WHAT'S OUR SUSPECT
TOLD THE POLICE....
MAYBE THAT'S THE BEST
PLACE TO BEGIN...
 

ROSCOE

"I did not hurt Virginia Rappe in any way whatever. I never had any
intention of hurting her. I would not hurt any woman.Whatever motive
inspired the people who accused me, it was not knowledge that I had done
the thing they said I did. It seems almost impossible to me that anyone
could be so cruel and malicious as to make such terrible charges against
a man without the most positive proof to support those charges,
and yet that is what happened. I was accused of saying and doing things
that never entered my mind, and not only that, but things I did say and do
were twisted and misinterpreted until they
sounded very different from the truth."
 

OP

(sings)
NEXT, TO THE LIBRARY'S
BACK EDITIONS
TO SEE WHAT THE WITNESSES SAID
 

PATH

"I was engaged to be married to Virginia Rappe at the time of her death.
Would I kill Arbuckle? Yes. I feel just as would any other man with red
blood in his veins. I will not deny that I have said I would
kill him if we were to meet. I hope the law will punish him and that he
will receive full justice for the crime.Arbuckle is the result of
ignorance and too much money.... There are some people who are a
disgrace to the film business. They get enormous salaries and have not
sufficient balance to keep right. They are the kind who resort to
cocaine and opium and who participate in orgies that are of the lowest
character. They should be driven out of the picture business. I am no
saint, but I have never attended one of their parties. Virginia's
friends were decent people, and I know she would not have associated
with any one she knew to be vile."
 

MAUDE

"He said 'I've been waiting to get you for five years!" Then he took her
in the bathroom, and I heard screaming."
 

ZEY

Virginia was a nice girl. A very nice girl. I mean, not the kind of girl
who would...I mean, she was from a very good family.
 

PATH

"I'd kill him."
 

OP

BUT FRIENDS ARE A VALUABLE SOURCE FOR THE TRUTH
I CHECKED WITH HIS HOLLYWOOD FRIENDS...
 

MINTA

"Zey Prevon and Alice Blake are the most potentially damaging witnesses
Brady has. Zey's a very pretty blonde, on the voluptuous side, who comes
from a fine family. But she also had a bad marriage and a child out of
wedlock, which is not the thing to do."
 

FRED

Good family? Her mother was a whore, and she was a whore, God rest her
sorry little soul.  How do I know? You mean besides the fact that she's
slept with most of the guys who do pictures? Well, how 'bout this? She
had 4 abortions between the ages of 13 and 15. That's how virginal
Virginia was. And she was no teenager when she died, neither. Charming,
yes. Funny, yes. But not the girl you take home to mother.
 

BUSTER

Fred told you the truth. Look, it's not easy fer me tellin' tales outta
school, but there's a story about when she was working for Sennett over
at Keystone Studios...she hadn't been there a month before she'd slept
with most of the guys there. What nobody knew was...don't tell anybody I
told you this...what nobody knew was that she had crabs. You know, lice?
And all the guys she slept with got crabs. It was awful, but kinda
funny, you know, 'cause the guys who were scratchin', you knew where
they'd been. It got so bad that Mack Sennett had to have the place
fumigated. Now that's a true story, or so they say. But you didn't hear
it from me. As for Lehrman...Henry Lehrman was a pretty good director,
but nobody calls him any more. He's not a very nice guy. In fact, he's a
louse. Maybe that was a poor choice of words. I don't know if he really
was engaged to Virginia, but if he was, he must have smelled money.
 

OP

MANY WOULD TESTIFY
MUCH WOULD CONFLICT
WHO SHOULD WE REALLY BELIEVE?
 

ALICE

Virginia came from a good family.
 

ZEY

Virginia was a good girl.
 

MAUDE

Roscoe Arbuckle has caused the death of a sweet, beautiful, fashionably
dressed young lady...who was my dear friend. And I'll be happy to swear
out a warrant against Arbuckle any time they want me to.
 

BUSTER

Oh, yeah. I know Maude. Maude Delmont had a reputation around the
studios as Madame Black. She'd make a deal with the studio bigwigs to
provide girls for orgies, but then she'd show up at their offices a week
or two after the party and try to blackmail 'em. Maude Delmont. The
Black Widow.
 

ROSCOE

"I've never hurt a woman. I never would hurt a woman."
 

MINTA

Roscoe would never hurt a woman.
 

BUSTER

"Roscoe Arbuckle was no more guilty of that girl's death than I am."
 

OP

WHAT COULD WE REALLY BELIEVE?
WHO COULD WE REALLY BELIEVE?
WHAT SHOULD WE REALLY BELIEVE?

 

SCENE 15

 

SLATE MAN

Scene Fifteen, Brady Office. Let 'er rip!
 

OP

Mr. Brady, I'm going to give it to you straight. Maude Delmont is a liar
who's wanted for bigamy. She saw a chance to get some free publicity by
telling some reporters some wild tales, and for whatever reason, the
papers ran 'em. Nothing wrong with that. Free country. Freedom of the
press. Only thing is, you've based a murder case on it all, and it's
gonna blow up in your face, because it's nothing but a pack of lies.
 

BRADY

But...
 

OP

Wait. It gets better. I've been with the agency for a number of years
now, and when we have to get the goods on somebody, we get the goods on
'em good, but but this guys such a goodie goodie, there's no goods to be
got.
 

BRADY

What are you talking about?
 

OP

I mean to tell you I had a hundred guys helpin' me on this case, from
Boston to Mexico, we had guys diggin' back to his childhood in Kansas
City, we looked into his years in vaudeville, we scraped the bottom of
the barrel in Hollywood, we even investigated an orgy Adolph Zukor held
in Beantown in two years ago. You know what we found out? Roscoe
Arbuckle is that rare breed...a perfect gentleman. Oh, sure, he likes
his liquor, so do I, for that matter, who doesn't...frankly, Mr. Brady,
we found out the same thing about you...but as far as his morals and his
sense of decency, he's generally regarded as the most chaste man in
Hollywood. And I'd have to advise against your putting Maude Delmont on
the stand. The defense has retained Gerald McNab. I don't have to tell
you what a forceful opponent he can be. He'll rip her apart and make a
monkey out of you. Not that you'll be able to...she and Semnacher have
blown town. I hear she's starring in vaudeville as the Woman Who Swore
the Murder Charge Against Arbuckle.
 

BRADY

You haven't been any help to me at all.
 

OP

Some guys might think it was helpful to be warned they had no case
against an innocent man before they made a public spectacle of
prosecuting him.
 

BRADY

We're in a bit deep for that now.
 

OP

Sorry, pal. Just doin' my job. Wish we could have helped you out. But
maybe next time you know better than to issue a charge of murder based
on what a publicity seeking blackmailer tells the tabloid press.
 

BRADY

Get out.

(The OP leaves.)

 

U'REN

What do we do now?
 

BRADY

We win this case.
 

SCENE 16

(Arbuckle Home. MINTA enters)

 

MINTA

Roscoe!

(They embrace.)

How long have you been home?
 

ROSCOE

Just about a week. But it'll be a long time before I get the stench of
that cell out of my mind. Aww, Minta, you look great.
 

MINTA

Thanks, Roscoe. You look good too, considering....
 

ROSCOE

Considering I've gone from being the man everybody loves to being the
man everybody loves to hate?
 

MINTA

You've been drinking too, haven't you. Oh, Roscoe, aren't you in enough
trouble?
 

ROSCOE

I know, I know, but it's the injustice of it all, Minta...If I get
enough hooch in me, I don't care so much about the injustice of it. When
I'm drunk enough, I can still find the humor in this mess.
 

MINTA

Humor?
 

ROSCOE

(He sings "That's A Laugh")
           I HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE SILENT
           AMID THE LIES THEY SHOUT
           SO I MAINLY KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT
           SINCE IT'S TRUTH THEY'RE DROWNING OUT
           AND I THINK THE STATE'S ATTORNEY
           TELLS THE BIGGEST LIES BY FAR
           BUT I KEEP MY OUTRAGE SILENT
           TO MAINTAIN MY REPUTATION
           AS THE FAMOUS SILENT STAR
           MY RIGHT TO BE SILENT?
           ...THAT'S A LAUGH!
          
           I HAVE THE RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL
           WHAT A FAIR AFFAIR IT'S BEEN
           THOUGH I ONCE WAS FAIR TO MIDDLIN'
           ALL THIS FAIRNESS DOES ME IN
           I ONCE WAS FAIRLY HEALTHY
           BUT NOW I'M FEELING FAIRLY DOUR
           THOUGH I ONCE WAS FAIRLY WEALTHY
           I'VE LOST A FAIR AMOUNT OF MONEY
           AND I'VE GONE FROM FAIR TO POOR
           MY RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL?
           ...THAT'S A LAUGH!
          
           HURRY, HURRY, STEP RIGHT UP
           DON'T MISS THE  MEDIA CIRCUS
           I'M WITH ALL THE SIDESHOW FREAKS
           SEE HOW HARD THEY WORK US
           TREATMENT BY THE LEGAL CLOWNS
           ISN'T ALWAYS KIND
           ...GUESS THE SPOTLIGHT'S GLARE IS
           WHAT IS MAKING JUSTICE BLIND
          
           I HAVE A RIGHT TO A PRESUMPTION
           THAT I AM INNOCENT AT FIRST
           BUT I DON'T PRESUME THAT FACTOR
           HAS AFFECTED MISTER HEARST
           I WAS CHAPLIN'S HEIR PRESUMPTIVE
           BUT NOW THAT'S OVER, I PRESUME
           AND THE INNOCENT PRESUMPTION
           THAT WHEN I'M VINDICATED
           AS I HOPE I'M VINDICATED
           MY CAREER CAN RESUME

 

           ... THAT'S A LAUGH!

 

SCENE 17

 

(Superior Court )

 

OP

10 AM, November 14, 1921, jury selection began. Arbuckle was heard to
say to the defense team...
 

ROSCOE

We're ready to shoot!
 

SLATE MAN

Okay, okay, already...Scene seventeen, San Francisco Superior Court, the
Honorable Justice Louderbeck presiding, come on people, this is serious
shit here, no fucking around please. QUIET!!!
 

(Claps slate board.)

 

JUDGE

I presume you gentlemen have established your citeria for the rejection
of potential jurors?
 

BRADY

Obviously, we will be rejecting any witnesses who are movie fans, who
read fan magazines, who have read newspaper accounts of the case, "or
who have political ambitions in the upcoming election year."
 

McNAB

We will not be able to accept, for reasons that should be apparent to
your honor, anyone who had previously heard that the prohibition laws
had been violated during the course of the party, and neither will we
"be able to accept any women who are members of any women's groups."
 

JUDGE

If we have reached an understanding, let us begin.
 

OP

The first juror interviewed was John C. Medley.
 

McNAB

Mr. Medley..."Would you take into consideration as evidence in the case
the fact that witnesses for the prosecution had been threatened with
imprisonment in the county jail if they refused to make certain
affadavits?"
 

BRADY

(outraged) Objection!

U'REN
"That statement is a vile lie aimed at influencing the jurors against
the prosecution. If you believe such slander will win your case, you are
sadly mistaken Mr. McNab. We will reject every juror on those grounds if
necessary."
 

McNAB

"Mr. U'Ren, I will bring seven witnesses into this court to prove that
this is more than an allegation, this is a charge. You have tampered
with, threatened, and intimidated witnesses into lying.You know this is
true, and I know this is true. By the time this trial is done, the world
will know this is true, as God is my witness."
 

(The three REPORTERS are scribbling furiously.)

BRADY

This is a lie!
 

JUDGE

Mr. McNab, these are weighty allegations. Substantiation of them will
prolong a hearing which has already proven to be less than speedy.
 

McNAB

We acknowledge the grounds of the prosecution's dismissal of Mr. Medley.
 

OP

The next juror interviewed was one Helen Hubbard.
 

McNAB

Mrs. Hubbard, "are you a member of or do you have any affiliation with
any women's mobs?"
 

U'REN

Objection!
 

BRADY

"You cannot call women's groups 'mobs'."
 

McNAB

"Are you affiliated with any vigilance committees?"
 

U'REN

Objection!
 

BRADY

"We have no such vigilance groups in San Francisco."
 

McNAB

"How about vigilante, then?"
 

BRADY and U'REN

Objection!!!
 

JUDGE

Order, order, I will not permit this court to be used as a carnival
midway!
 

McNAB

All right, let's talk about something else."Would you consider previous
testimony of bladder trouble a reflection on an unfortunate girl's
morals?"
 

BRADY

Objection!
 

U'REN

"When McNab puts in that evidence, he is to introduce it with the intent
to attack the morals of the girl. His proposal is to tie up the jurors
as to affect such evidence will have on his or her mind. A juror at this
time cannot tell what effect  certain statements will have on his (or
her) mind later."
 

McNAB

"If it is shown by scientific testimony that the unfortunate girl had a
diseased bladder from an immoral life, would that prejudice you?"
 

JUDGE

"Gentlemen, are we arguing the case or drawing a jury here?"
 

OP

Jury selection continued to be consistently acrimonious. But as is
usually the case, the attorneys eventually selected 12 jurors. After
forty-three people had been interviewed, the prosecution and the defense
had agreed upon seven men and five women. The trial was soon
underway. The prosecution did what they could to keep Maude Delmont's
name out of the record.
 

BRADY

The prosecution calls Grace Halston.
 

OP

Grace Halston was a young student nurse.The young lady testified that
she believed a number of Virginia Rappe's injuries and lesions, to the
area of her reproductive and surrounding organs, had been the result of
force by a man. She glowered at Arbuckle throughout her testimony. But
reporters who covered the case said she bit her lip nervously throughout
the examination, and appeared to look to Brady himself for
the answers to certain questions.
 

McNAB

"Miss Halston, you claim you saw several organ ruptures and lesions on
the bladder during your examination."
 

HALSTON

Yes.
 

McNAB

"I would like to know what qualified you to examine the body because you
are neither a physician nor a graduate nurse."
 

U'REN

Objection!
 

JUDGE

Over-ruled. You will answer the question. Is this true?
 

HALSTON

"Yes, this is true."
 

OP

His first witness having been discredited, Brady turned to an attending
physician, Arthur Beardsley.
 

BRADY

What, in your opinion, could have caused the fatality?
 

BEARDSLEY

I observed her injuries, and they seem to have been the result of
outside force.
 

BRADY

Did you know anything about the deceased?
 

BEARDSLEY

I tried to find out her history by interviewing Mrs. Maude Delmont, but
she did not cooperate.
 

BRADY

No further questions.
 

McNAB

"Did Mrs. Delmont or Miss Rappe intimate to you that Mr. Arbuckle was
responsible for her condition?"
 

BRADY AND U'REN

Objection!
 

JUDGE

Over-ruled. Sit down, Mr. U'Ren. Please answer the question, Dr. Beardsley.
 

McNAB

"Did you ask Miss Rappe if Mr. Arbuckle had anything to do with her
injuries?"

 

BEARDSLEY

"No."
 

McNAB

"Did you ask her if Mr. Arbuckle had assaulted her?"
 

BEARDSLEY

"I did not."
 

McNAB

"Did you ask Mrs. Delmont if anybody had assaulted Miss Rappe?"
 

BRADY

Objection!
 

JUDGE

Sustained.
 

McNAB

"Did Mrs. Delmont tell you anyone had injured the girl?"

 

BRADY

Objection.
 

JUDGE

Sustained.
 

McNAB

Did you notice any signs of intoxication?
 

BEARDSLEY

"It was evident that I was dealing with an operative case. I saw no
evidence of intoxication. Any evidence of intoxication was
overshadowed by the girl's extreme pain."
 

McNAB

"If you saw that Miss Rappe would benefit from surgery, why was no
surgery ordered at that time? (He shrugs.)You have no answer. I wonder
if Miss Rappe might be alive today if you had. No further questions."
 

OP

The prosecution called Zey Prevon, who retold the story that the papers
had circulated; the guests had all been consuming food and liquor, they
had been dancing and behaving mischievously.The prosecution did what
they could to portray Virginia Rappe as an innocent girl who was
victimized by a worldly hollywood star. Zey Prevon was helpful in this
regard. She testified that Virginia was a good girl, and the party was
wicked. And that the party took a turn for the worse when Virginia went
into the bathroom.
 

ZEY

Mr. Arbuckle followed her and closed the door."After some time, Mrs.
Delmont kicked on the door and said, "Open the door. I want to speak to
Virginia. "
 

BRADY

"Who opened the door?"
 

ZEY

"Mr. Arbuckle."
 

BRADY

"What was he doing?
 

ZEY

He was fumbling with his robe."
 

BRADY

"What did you do next?"
 

ZEY

All that I remember is that when Maude and I went into room 1219,
Virginia was lying on the bed. A while later, Mr. Arbuckle came in. He
was not wearing his robe. His back was wet.
 

BRADY

Did she say anything at this time?
 

ZEY

Yes. "She said,"I'm dying, I'm going to die."Then she began tearing at
her waist. Mr. Arbuckle entered the room, grabbed at Virginia's waist,
and, laughing, began fooling with her. Miss Blake came in and we
undressed Virginia. Mrs Delmont and I removed all her clothing."
Then Fred Fischbach put her in the bathtub full of ice.
 

BRADY

After the bath, did she say anything?
 

ZEY

Yes.
 

BRADY

What was that?
 

ZEY

'He did this to me'.
 

BRADY

Your witness.
 

McNAB

When you say Miss Rappe said, 'He did this to me', was this Mr. Arbuckle
she was referring to?
 

ZEY

No.
 

(surprise ripples through the prosecution team.)

 

McNAB

"Who was she referring to, then?"
 

ZEY

"Fred Fischbach."
 

McNAB

"Why did she say Mr. Fischbach had done this to her?"
 

ZEY

He was the one who put her in a bathtub full of ice.
 

(laughter, gavel)

 

McNAB

Did the defendant say anything?
 

ZEY

"Yes. He said,'Aw, shut her up. I'll throw her out the window if she
don't stop yellin'."
 

OP

Zey Prevon had proven to be an obstacle for the defense. Of all the
witnesses on the stand, her testimony was, in many ways, the most
damaging. It has been said that she had been threatened with jail if she
didn't cooperate, and was under pressure from Brady and U'Ren to make
her story as damaging as possible. On November 22nd, the defense
addressed the issue of reasonable doubt.
 

McNAB

The burden of proof in this case rests with the state. They must prove
to you, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Arbuckle caused the injuries
to Miss Rappe that resulted in her death. In this, we believe, the state
has miserably failed to perform.
"We intend to show you by the best evidence that it is possible to
produce, the words of the dead girl at or about the time of the sad
events, exonerating the defendant." The defense calls Dr. Melvin Rumwell.
 

OP

Rumwell was an obstetrician and gynecologist who was rumored to have
performed abotions. Speculation persists to this day as to whether he
performed one on Virginia. But these things just weren't said in open
court. The prosecution steered the discussion through any talk of
abortions.
 

McNAB

The prosecution has portrayed Miss Rappe as a delicate flower...the
ideal of youthful feminine innocence. As  a gynecologist who was
familiar with her history, was Miss Rappe a virgin?
 

BRADY AND U'REN

Objection! Immaterial.
 

McNAB

Who better to establish or refute a young woman's virginity than her
gynecologist?
 

U'REN

Objection!
 

McNAB

The subject of her innocence in this regard was first introduced by the
prosecution, your honor. It has become a point of dispute.
 

JUDGE

Sustained. But let me caution you, Mr. McNab, you are treading on thin
ice.
 

McNAB

Was Miss Rappe a virgin?
 

RUMWELL

She was not.
 

McNAB

How do you know?
 

RUMWELL

"She had gonorrhea."
 

SCENE 18

 

OP

The prosecution's case began to unravel without Maude Delmont and Al
Semnacher. They had practically no evidence or witnesses who were
tangible.The defense's case was fairly solid. Arbuckle's lawyers
deliberated as to whether or not Roscoe should take the stand in his own
defense. He insisted that he had nothing to hide. So it was agreed that
Roscoe would be called to the stand after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Thanksgiving could not have come at a better time in 1921: Everyone
involved was in need of relaxation, and when Roscoe invited Mr. and Mrs.
Adolph Zukor and some others to his home for Thanksgiving dinner, the
last thing anyone wanted to talk about was the trial....
 

(The Arbuckle dining room and adjacent kitchen, which is also visible
to the audience. The Zukors, the Arbuckles, Bebe Daniels and Fred Fischbach
are all sitting down at the table.)

 

ZUKOR

Arbuckle, it was wonderful of you to invite us to Thanksgiving dinner.
 

ROSCOE

Gosh, Mr. Zukor, without your support, the San Francisco District
Attorney would have railroaded me into the hoosegow long before now.
It's a priviledge that you allow me to show my gratitude by inviting you
and the missus to break bread with us. At a time like this, a man needs
to enjoy the love and support of his friends. Thanks for your
friendship, Mr. Zukor.
 

(A WAITER with thick glasses, bushy eyebrows and a moustache begins
to serve shrimp appetizers to the male guests, despite the fact
that proper ettiquette would suggest the ladies should be served
first.)

 

ZUKOR

Well, Arbuckle, you're a great artist. I just hope everything turns out
all right.
 

ROSCOE

I'm sure it will, Mr. Zukor. I'm sure it will. Well, is everyone ready
to eat? I know I am. Uh, Mr. Zukor, would you like to say grace for us?
 

ZUKOR

Why thank you, Roscoe. I'd be delighted.
 

(ROSCOE stage-whispers to the WAITER.)

 

ROSCOE

Ladies first. Serve the ladies first.
 

(The WAITER takes the shrimp he has just served out of the hands of
the men he has just served them to and tosses
them to, respectively, Minta, Bebe, and Mrs. Zukor. Minta catches hers
without effort. The other two do not catch their shrimp.)

 

ZUKOR

But first, a toast to our gracious host and hostess...May justice
prevail.

(They all raise their glasses.The WAITER
speaks to ZUKOR in heavy foreign accent.)

 

WAITER

Appetizer?
 

ZUKOR

Er, what is it?
 

WAITER

Sweet and sour traife.
 

(ROSCOE becomes irritated.HE almost
steamrolls the WAITER offstage)

 

ROSCOE

Serve the soup! Serve the soup!
 

ZUKOR

Ahem. Where was I?
 

ROSCOE

Uh, you were just about to say grace, Mr. Zukor.(aside, sotto voce) I'm
sorry about him, Mr. Zukor. It's so hard to find good help these days.
 

ZUKOR

(whispering) Think nothing of it, Arbuckle.
 

MRS. ZUKOR

We've had the same trouble ourselves. Foreigners. Tsk, tsk.
 

ROSCOE

Please continue, Mr. Zukor.
 

(All bow their heads.)

 

ZUKOR

(He sings "This Thanksgiving Day")
           WITH A REVERENTIAL ATTITUDE
           LET US BOW OUR HEADS AND PRAY
           TO EXPRESS TO GOD OUR GRATITUDE
           THIS THANKSGIVING DAY
          

(The WAITER has re-entered with a soup tureen, and he begins to serve
the soup, only to discover that the tureen is empty. He exits to the
kitchen to fill it.)

           LET US  CLOSE OUR EYES IN REVERENCE
           WITH RESPECT WE WISH TO PAY
           TO THE LORD FOR HIS BENEVOLENCE
           THIS THANKSGIVING DAY
          

(The WAITER backs into the room with the now-full tureen, but it gets
caught in the swinging door. The WAITER throws the weight of his
body against it, and it comes free, propelling the WAITER offstage
left, through a second set of swinging doors. We hear
a loud crash. ZUKOR continues as if nothing had happened.)

           MAY HIS NAME BE EVER GLORIOUS
           MAY WE ALWAYS SERVE HIS WILL
           MAKING RIGHTEOUSNESS VICTORIOUS
           'TIL A TIME WHEN TIME STANDS STILL
          

(The WAITER has re-entered, dripping wet, and carrying a 30 lb. roast
turkey. He is buckling under the weight of it. He attempts, with great
difficulty, to get the turkey to the dinner table
without further disturbing the dinner guests.)

 

ZUKOR AND OTHERS

           WE ARE PILGRIMS HERE OURSELVES
           LIKE THE ONES OF LONG AGO
           AS WE JOURNEY THROUGH THIS WORLD
           MAY HE GUARD US AS WE GO
          
           WITH A REVERENTIAL ATTITUDE
           LET US BOW OUR HEADS AND PRAY
           TO EXPRESS TO GOD OUR GRATITUDE
           THIS THANKSGIVING DAY!
 

(The WAITER finally hurls the platter and himself to the center of
the dining table, causing the bird to flop onto
the floor. )

           THIS THANKSGIVING DAY!
 

(When the commotion has settled, the WAITER picks up the bird off the
floor, places it on the platter, dusts it off daintily, and sets it in the center
of the table as if there was nothing wrong. ROSCOE, now seemingly
outraged, begins screaming.)

 

ROSCOE

You stupid sonofabitch! You've humiliated me in front of my dinner
guests! How dare you tell me you were a waiter!
 

WAITER

Sorry, mister, I...
 

ROSCOE

Sorry? I'll give you sorry!
 

(ROSCOE picks up a meat cleaver.)

I'll kill you, you dumb bastard! So help me, I'll kill you!
 

(ROSCOE chases the WAITER off into the kitchen area, where we see the
two of them making a great deal of noise, crashing and banging
things around, and doing a lot of hollering, but the two of them
are trying to keep from laughing. Without missing a beat, the WAITER
artfully removes the moustache, glasses, wig and eyebrows, while still crashing
kitchen utensils and hollering, to reveal that he is actually BUSTER.
Once he is tidily groomed as befits a Hollywood star, BUSTER
slips out the kitchen door.ROSCOE picks up a toaster and throws it offstage
into what sounds like a case of china.)

 

ROSCOE

...AND STAY OUT! (returning to the dining area.) Oh, ladies, gentlemen,
I am so sorry that you had to witness this. I have never been so
embarrassed in my life.
 

ZUKOR

Now, now, Arbuckle, you have enough to worry about. This is so
unimportant, really. Please. Relax. Don't give it another thought.
 

MRS. ZUKOR

(To Minta) The next time you need domestics, I want you to call me.
 

MINTA

I'll see what I can salvage of that meal. (she exits)
 

ROSCOE

How humiliating.
 

ZUKOR

There, there, Arbuckle...

(the doorbell rings SL. ROSCOE opens it. BUSTER enters.)

 

ROSCOE

Oh, Buster's here!
 

(The crowd greets BUSTER. He acknoledges them cordially.)

 

BUSTER

Sorry I'm late. (pause) Did I miss anything?
 

BEBE

Well, poor Roscoe hired a waiter who was rather inexperienced. In fact,
he...
 

(BEBE realizes that BUSTER was the WAITER and begins to laugh.)

 

BUSTER

What's so funny?
 

FRED

Well, the waiter who was serving us had these thick glasses, and he must
not have had very good eyesight because...
 

(BUSTER stares at FRED and leans in attentively, until FRED gets the joke.
FRED then falls apart laughing.MINTA nonchalantly brings in a perfect turkey dinner.)

 

BUSTER

I still don't get it.
 

ROSCOE

Well, let's just say he wasn't a very good waiter. Hey, Buster, come
here. I want you to meet someone. Mr. Zukor, this is my old pal Buster
Keaton. Buster, meet Adolph Zukor.
 

BUSTER

A pleasure to meet you, sir.
 

ZUKOR

Well, the pleasure's all mine, Buster. I've been watching you with
interest for some time. This man needs no introduction, Arbuckle. Hell,
I'd know Buster anywhere.
 

BUSTER

Oh, really?
 

ZUKOR

Certainly. Hollywood's really a small town, Keaton, and the first time I
saw you in one of Roscoe's flickers, I said to myself, 'That is a
memorable actor.'
 

BUSTER

No kiddin'.
 

ZUKOR

Yessir, I can spot talent a mile away. Why, I'll bet I could pick you
out of a crowd with no effort at all.

 

BUSTER

Is that so?
 

ZUKOR

Well, of course. Star quality is an unusual thing, Buster. When an actor
has it, their face leaps out at you...
 

(ZUKOR pauses...leans attentively toward BUSTER, studying him. BUSTER
leans a bit closer to ZUKOR. ZUKOR leans a bit closer, and scrutinizes
BUSTER more closely. Buster, reciprocating in kind, puts on the
coke-bottle glasses. Everyone laughs.)

 

ROSCOE

Yessir, it's common knowledge around town. That Adolph Zukor sure has a
keen eye for talent.
 

FRED

Hell, I'd know Buster ANYWHERE!

(They all laugh, including Zukor.)

 

ZUKOR

Well Buster, if the waiter thing doesn't work out, you can always act.
 

BUSTER

I still don't get it.
 

(Crossfade; scene change: Courtroom)

 

SCENE 19

 

OP

The following day, the defense team called their defendant to the winess
stand in his own defense.
 

SLATE MAN

This is a pick-up. Call it 11-A as in apple. Continuation of the
courtroom sequence. Background, let's settle it down, shall we? Lock 'er
up! And...action!
 

(SLATE MAN snaps the slateboard at the same moment the JUDGE bangs
the gavel.)

 

McNAB

On September 5th, 1921, at what time and where did you see Miss Virginia
Rappe?
 

ROSCOE

"She came into room 1220 at about twelve o'clock noon."
 

McNAB

"Who was there at that time?"
 

ROSCOE

"Mr. Fortlouis, Mr. Fischbach and myself. Mrs Delmont came a few minutes
later, but I did not invite her."
 

McNAB

"Who else was there?"
 

ROSCOE

"Miss Blake."
 

McNAB

"Did you invite her?"
 

ROSCOE

"No."
 

McNAB

"Who else?"
 

ROSCOE

"Miss Prevon came later."
 

McNAB

"Did you invite her?"
 

ROSCOE

"No."
 

McNAB

"Who else?"
 

ROSCOE

"Mr. Semnacher."
 

McNAB

Was he invited by you?
 

ROSCOE

"Absolutely not."
 

McNAB

"Did anyone else come to your room at your invitation?"
 

ROSCOE

"Miss Taub. She said she needed a lift across town, and I agreed to
drive her. I went into the bathroom to get dressed. That's when I found
Virginia."
 

McNAB

"What happened?"
 

ROSCOE

"When I walked into 1219, I closed and locked the door, and I went
straight to the bathroom and found Miss Rappe on the floor in front of
the toilet. She'd been vomiting."
 

McNAB

"What did you do?"
 

ROSCOE

"When I opened the door, the door struck her, and I had to slide in this
way to get in, to get by her and get hold of her. Then I closed the door
and picked her up. When I picked her up she vomited again. I held her
under the waist and the forehead, to keep her hair back off her face so
she could vomit. When she finished, I put the seat down
then I sat her down on it. 'Can I do anything for you?' I asked her.
She said she wanted to lie down. I carried her into 1219 and put her on
the bed. I lifted her feet off the floor. I went to the bathroom again
and came back in two or three minutes. I found her rolling on the floor
between two beds, holding her stomach. I tried to pick her up but I
couldn't. I immediately went out of 1219 to 1220 and asked Mrs. Delmont
and Miss Prevon to come in. I told them Miss Rappe was sick."
 

McNAB

What happened then?
 

ROSCOE

"Well, Miss Rappe began tearing off her clothes."
 

McNAB

You mean, she was disrobing?
 

ROSCOE

No, I mean she was tearing them off. Like it was urgent. Frantic. She
made me think of "a mad dog foaming at the mouth." "Mr. Fischbach came
in about that time and asked her to stop tearing her clothes. She was
tearing off her dress, and she had just one sleeve hanging by a few
threads. I said, all right, if you want that off, I'll take it off for
you. And I pulled it off for her and went out of the room."
 

McNAB

Then what?
 

ROSCOE

"Mr. Fischbach put Miss Rappe into a bathtub filled with cold water.
Mrs. Delmont put ice in the water and on Miss Rappe. I tried to take
some of the ice off Miss Rappe. Mrs. Delmont said,"Leave it here. I know
how to take care of Virginia. When I tried to cover Miss Rappe with a
bedspread, Mrs. Delmont became angry."
 

McNAB

Angry?
 

ROSCOE

She started hollering and cursing at me and making a lot of noise. She
said she knew what was best for Virginia.
 

McNAB

What did you say to her.
 

ROSCOE

"I told Mrs. Delmont to shut up, or I would throw her out the window,
and I went out of the room. Mrs. Taub came in and telephoned for the
hotel manager. I told Mrs. Delmont the hotel manager was coming up. Mrs.
Delmont put a bathrobe on Miss Rappe. We then took her to room 1227."
 

McNAB

"Cross-examine the witness."
 

BRADY

On the afternoon of September 5, 1921, did you know how Mrs. Delmont
happened to come up there?
 

ROSCOE

"No. They all kept stringing in. I didn't know who they were then. I
didn't invite them."
 

BRADY

Were there alcoholic beverages at the party.
 

ROSCOE

Yes.
 

BRADY

What were they?
 

ROSCOE

Gin and whiskey. Also some orange juice.
 

BRADY

Did you imbibe?
 

ROSCOE

Yes.
 

BRADY

So you admit that you consumed alcoholic beverages, in violation of the
Volstead act, which you had supplied for a party that you yourself had
thrown.
 

ROSCOE

Yes, sir.
 

BRADY

No further questions.
 

(Roscoe steps down.)

 

OP

Then the defense surprised everyone. They introduced into evidence the
ruptured bladder of Virginia Rappe.
 

(gasps from the gallery)

 

BRADY

Objection!
 

U'REN

This is obscene.
 

BRADY

This is an outrage!
 

JUDGE

Mr. McNab, you'd better have a very good reason for this exhibit.
 

McNAB

Your honor, I'm calling Dr. Daniel Ervin to the stand as an expert
witness in the field of pathology. I wish to prove a medical point
concerning the cause of death.
 

JUDGE

(With reservation.) Proceed.
 

OP

Dr. Ervin testified to four facts: He demonstrated the rupture of the
bladder,the signs of a persistent and lasting inflammation, evidence of
acute peritonitis, and the lack of a pathological change near the rip
that preceeded the rupture.
 

McNAB

So, in your expert opinion, could the injury that resulted in Miss
Rappe's death have been caused by external force?
 

ERVIN

"The injury was not and could not have been caused by external force."
 

McNAB

You're quite certain?
 

ERVIN

Quite.
 

McNAB

Thank you, Doctor. You may step down. The defense rests.
 

OP

When the defense team was satisfied they had done their job well. They
were certain that after the closing arguments had been made, the jury
would agree that the only logical verdict was one of acquittal..
 

BRADY

(con brio)"We are here to charge Roscoe Arbuckle with manslaughter, that
is to say it is charged that during the month of September of this year,
he feloniously  killed one Virginia Rappe, a human being. We are here to
try Roscoe Arbuckle; not Roscoe Arbuckle the comedian, not Roscoe
Arbuckle the hero of a thousand laughs, not Roscoe Arbhuckle the
nationally known figure, but Roscoe Arbuckle the man. And we are here to
try Roscoe Arbuckle, I say the man, the calloused man, the man who can
stand in the face of suffering and laugh; the man who can be in the
presence of one who is almost in the agonies of death and play jokes and
pranks upon that person. We are here to try Roscoe Arbuckle, the man who
had no thought when he saw a woman writhing and moaning in pain in his
room, no thought, only to get her out of his room, and no thought of
calling medical help and medical attendance to relieve the suffering.
That is what we are here for. Why his silence, day after day? Why should
this man allow a charge of this kind to be placed against him? Why
should this man allow his reputation to be dragged up and down this
great nation, if all that happened was that Miss Rappe was sick and fell
off the bed? And if you believe that that is not true, if you believe
that Arbuckle falsified to you upon the stand, if you believe the
medical testimony in this case, if you believe the witnesses for the
people, and if you believe the writing on the wall, you must return a
verdict finding Roscoe Arbuckle guilty of manslaughter as charged in
this information. Miss Prevon told us the defendant followed the
deceased into room 1219 and closed the door. Yet this man, who makes a
living by acting, takes the stand and tells you he didn't see Miss Rappe
go into 1219, this man who says he can't remember. He didn't dare tell
you he followed her into that room immediately. What occurred then? Did
the door open? No. Eventually the door is opened, and Miss Rappe is
suffering on the bed, and the defendant announced simply that Miss Rappe
is sick. Mr. Fischbach, who braces his shoulders and says he is proud to
be a guest of the defendant, this model young man, this paragon of
virtue, who never took a drink in his life, this model young husband who
walks into a room where a nude young woman lies writhing in agony and
performs such as he has testified to. Mr. Fischbach says that he
grabbed Miss Rappe, a poor, weak, suffering girl, grabbed her by the
right arm to place her in the tub and therefore caused the bruises on
her arm. But when he attempted to demonstrate his actions, he had to
admit it was the left arm he grabbed. The statements of this big,
kindhearted comedian who has made the whole world laugh: Did he say, 'Get
a doctor for this suffering girl?' No. He said, 'Shut up or I'll throw
you out the window.' He was not content to stop at throwing her out the
window. He attempted to make sport with her by placing ice on her
body. This man then and there proved himself guilty of this offense. This
act shows you the mental makeup of Roscoe Arbuckle. "Ladies and
gentlemen, I ask that you vote to convict this menace."
 

McNAB

(understatedly)"May it please the court and the ladies and gentlemen of
the jury," King David the psalmist said, "In my house, all men are
liars. "Had he listened to Mr. Brady, he might have admitted the
possibility that not all the liars were in his house. You have heard the
old saying that Time Waits for No Man. You have heard of people killing
time. But no man ever did, because time kills every man. And on time
alone, measured by the prosecution's testimony, there are but ten
minutes for it all to have happened. You have heard throughout this case
the name of Maude Delmont. Why has the District Attorney not produced
this witness so long associated with the gathered evidence? Why has he
not placed this witness on the stand so you, the jury, might see and
hear her? Miss Prevon and Miss Blake, prosecution witnesses, were
imprisoned and gave up their homes under the coercion of the District
Attorney. They were put into a private prison. Has he the right to take
away the liberty of those two girls that they might swear with him to
take away the liberty of an innocent man? We sent 2 million men overseas
to put an end to that sort of thing forever. Why should we allow it to
continue in San Francisco? Perjured wretches tried, from the stand, to
deprive this defendant, this stranger within our gates, of his
liberty. The prosecution has shown that Miss Rappe was a young and vital
woman with athletic ability. If this was so, if she was in excellent
physical condition as the prosecution has tried so diligently to show,
then why didn't this girl scream if she was being attacked?
If she was trying to get out of the room as the prosecution claimed, why
didn't anyone hear her cries for help? The evidence presented on both
sides has proven that Virginia Rappe was not a girl in excellent health,
but a sickly, broken down woman, as testified to by the District
Attorney's own witnesses. That woman lying there writhing and vomiting
would not have excited the passions of the lowest beast that was ever
called man. You have to take one theory or the other. There isn't any
escape from it. If she was in that condition, no man would have touched
her. And if she was in the condition of an athlete, no man could have
touched without the knowledge of everybody in that part of the building.
In the period of ten minutes nothing could have been done. We don't ask
any special consideration for Arbuckle because he is a great artist. We
claim nothing in him superior to any other American. Only consider him
as if he had never been heard of. This man, who has sweetened the lives
of millions of little children comes here with his simple story and
submits it into your hands. There was no crime here, and Roscoe Arbuckle
has needlessly endured enough suffering for one lifetime."
 

OP

The jurors were gone for 48 hours before returning to the courtroom.
 

JURY FOREMAN 1

"We have taken many, many ballots and find it a physical and moral
impossibility to reach a verdict."
 

OP

The jury hung at 10 to 2 in favor of acquittal. One of the holdouts in
favor of conviction was a Mrs. Helen Hubbard, the wife of a California
attorney.
 

MRS. HUBBARD

"No one can change my mind. I made up my mind he was guilty the moment I
heard they'd caught him."
 

BRADY

We will try the case again.
 

SLATE MAN

Cut! Cut! That was no good. We'll have to re-shoot. Okay, everybody,
take a half hour for lunch. We'll shoot the interior.
 

SCENE 20

 

OP

Roscoe Arbuckle was discouraged and heartsick with the news of the hung
jury.
 

SLATE MAN

Scene Twenty: Arbuckle Home. Let's get this one right, people!
 

(claps slate board)

 

ROSCOE

"Minty, we proved to them all that I had nothing to do with that girl's
death. We proved that there wasn't even a crime committed. Why do they
hate me so? "
 

MINTA

I know. It's so unfair. But there's nothing to be gained by worrying
yourself sick over it. You'll win the next trial.
 

ROSCOE

It's the senselessness of it that depresses me.
 

MINTA

You'll feel better in the morning. What you need is sleep.
 

ROSCOE

Sleep. I haven't slept well since September.
 

MINTA

But you get more sleep when you try to sleep than when you don't.
Incidentally, I've laid out your clothes for tomorrow. Choosing one out
of all those suits can be one less thing on your mind.
 

ROSCOE

Remember when I met you? I only had one. I was a lot happier then.
 

MINTA

Well, right now, a pair of pajamas will do. Try to get some rest.
 

(He starts to leave)

ROSCOE

Minty, I can never thank you enough for stickin' by me through all this.
I know it hasn't been easy for you. I mean, of all the men you had to
marry... and divorce...
 

MINTA

Oh,...never you mind about me. It's past your bedtime. Scoot.

 

ROSCOE

Okay, okay...but, really...thanks, Minty. (He gives her a hug and a
kiss.) Good night , baby. I love you. (Roscoe, yawning, exits)
 

MINTA

I love you, too.

(She sings "I'll Always Be There")

           YOU HAD LOTS OF FRIENDS WHEN THE CHIPS WERE HIGH
           WHERE WERE ALL YOUR FRIENDS WHEN YOUR LUCK RAN DRY?
           WHEN YOU NEED LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING
           THEN YOU OUGHT TO RUN TO ME
           AND YOU KNOW I'LL ALWAYS BE THERE
           YES, YOU KNOW I'LL ALWAYS BE THERE
          
           AND WHEN YOU NEED ME, I'LL STAND BY YOU
           I'LL BE TRUE
           I'LL NEVER JUDGE YOU AND TURN AWAY
           ANY DAY
           WHEN YOU HAVE SEEN THE END
           OF SOME FAIR WEATHER FRIEND
           WHO'D DENY YOU
           I'LL STAND BY YOU
           COME WHAT MAY
          
           YOU DON'T HAVE TO BATTLE YOUR FOES ALONE
           IT'S SO HARD TO FACE STRUGGLES ON YOUR OWN
           AND WHEN YOUR LIFE IS OVERWHELMING
           I WILL ALWAYS UNDERSTAND
           AND YOU KNOW I'LL ALWAYS BE THERE
           YES, YOU KNOW I'LL ALWAYS...
          
           BE THERE FOR YOU
           WHATEVER YOU DO
           AS I KNOW
           YOU'VE BEEN THERE FOR ME
           WHEN PEOPLE TRULY CARE
           THEY SHARE SOMETHING RARE
          
           WHEN YOU SEE CLOUDS GATHERING FOR A STORM
           I'LL BE THERE TO MAKE YOU FEEL SAFE AND WARM
           AND WHEN YOU FEEL THE WORLD'S BETRAYED YOU
           YOU CAN ALWAYS COUNT ON ME
           AND YOU KNOW I'LL ALWAYS BE THERE
           YES, YOU KNOW I'LL ALWAYS...
          
           BE THERE FOR YOU
           WHATEVER YOU DO
          
           I'LL BE THERE....
           BE THERE FOR YOU!
          

SCENE 21

 

(Court Room)

 

OP

Arbuckle was determined to win in the next trial, despite the persistent
fabrication about the coke bottle, which was never in any way
substantiated. But with it, the Court of Public Opinion had admitted
innuendo as evidence. Evidence more damaging than anything credible that
was actually submitted for the jury's consideration. On January 11th,
the manslaughter trial of Roscoe Arbuckle began in earnest...for the
second time.
 

(The slate board Has Scene Eleven crossed out, and RESHOOT written
in large letters.)

 

SLATE MAN

Okay, everybody, listen up! We're gonna take this courtroom scene again.
Does everybody know what they're doing this time? All right then,
Courtroom, take two!
 

(Claps slate board.)

 

OP

Much of the testimony was the same. But when Zey Prevon was asked...
 

McNAB

Did you hear Mr. Arbuckle harming Miss Rappe?
 

ZEY

I did not.
 

McNAB

Are you sure?
 

ZEY

I am certain.
 

McNAB

But isn't it true that you lied during the first trial?
 

ZEY

I don't recall.
 

McNAB

Then I presume you can't tell if you were telling the truth, either. No
further questions.
 

OP

Meanwhile, in Tinsel Town, the Postmaster General was threatening to
take action against the lewd and degenerate films that the major studios
were releasing. In what could best be called a pre-emptive strike, Lewis
Selznick brought to the Postmaster a letter drafted by 12 of the most
powerful men in Hollywood...including Adolph Zukor. It offered $115,000
annually and tremendous power and influence to oversee the morality and
ethos of the movies. Will Hays accepted the offer, and promptly
announced that he would make an example of Roscoe Arbuckle if the courts
failed in their bid to do so. Roscoe's situation did not improve with the murder
of his friend William Desmond Taylor, a prominent Hollywood director,
whose murder brought his drug addiction into the glare of
the spotlight. One of the murder suspects was Roscoe's friend and costar
Mabel Normand. The police had found an autographed picture
of Mabel in a locket on the body of the deceased.
Hays again promised to rein in the amoral decadence of the movie
industry. In spite of such anti-Hollywood sentiment, when the second
trial was coming to a close, McNab felt sufficiently confident of a
favorable outcome to not call Roscoe to testify. Again, the second jury
deadlocked, but without Roscoe's testimony, this time the outcome was
different...
 

JURY FOREMAN

We were ten to two...in favor of conviction.
 

SLATE MAN

Cut! Cut! That's just nuts. We're going to have to re-take it again!
 

(SLATE MAN rips up a few pages of notes.)

 

OP

With the election nearing, Brady decided it might be best if he didn't
risk his reputation on the third trial.
 

BRADY

Our offices will try the case again, but my assistant, Mr. U'Ren will be
representing the people.
 

OP

By now, the prosecution's case was full of holes. Maude Delmont was in
jail for bigamy. Al Semnacher was still on the lam. Zey Prevon made
herself unavailable. Even Alice Blake was refusing to cooperate with the
District Attorney now, no matter what he threatened her with. The
defense suggested calling Fred Fischback back to the stand. Arbuckle
refused.
 

ROSCOE

"I'm on trial here, not Freddy".
 

SLATE MAN

(visibly rattled) All right, one more time. San Francisco Superior
Court. Take Three. Yes, Take Three. Quiet on the set! Lights
up....and....ACTION!
 

OP

The third trial of Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle lasted 35 days. All of the
same evidence was examined a third time by 12 new men and women and 2
new alternates. What was different was the lack of evidence which had
previously been discredited, that being most of the prosecution's case.
 

U'REN

"We find that on the afternoon of September 5th, a Babylonian feast was
in progress in the St. Francis Hotel. And this man who, Mr. McNab says,
has made the children of the nation laugh, this man appeared in his
pajamas all afternoon. My God! Make the children laugh! As Mr. McNab
uttered those words, the thought flashed into my mind: What would the
children of America think, and what would the mothers of America say, if
they could have seen that man that afternoon, IN PAJAMAS, surrounded by
his lords and ladies, pouring wine and drinking booze? Oh, my friends,
this is a false issue, trying to appeal to you by speaking of making the
children laugh. What hypocrisy! What hypocrisy for this man of such a
nature as that to even assume to deceive the children of America with his
antics, while underneath his skin lay the rotten nature that has been shown in this
case. Oh, this man who makes the world laugh, who makes the world laugh.
Thank God he will never make the world laugh again. We ask you to do your
duty as men and women of San Francisco. We ask you to do your duty so
that when you meet your fellow men, you can look them in the eye. We ask
you to do your duty so that when you return to your families, you can
take them to your breasts; and we ask you to do your duty so that when
you take your little children upon your knees, you will know that
you've done what you could to protect them from this defendant and from
all the other Arbuckles of the world, now existing and yet to come. And
we ask you to do your duty so that his man, and all the Arbuckles of the world,
will know that the womanhood of America is not their plaything."
 

OP

But the defense team left nothing to chance, and went over every step of
the case meticulously. When the time came, the defense concluded in
dramatic fashion.
 

McNAB

(He sings "The Crime of the Century")
           LADIES AND GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY
           FOR A MONTH NOW YOU HAVE LISTENED TO THE CASE
           AND SEEN DISPROVEN ALLEGATIONS
           THAT WE'VE SHOWN COULD NOT TAKE PLACE
           THE SO-CALLED CRIME OF THE CENTURY....
          
           A LIE IS STILL A LIE
           EVEN TOLD BY AN OFFICIAL
           JUSTICE ISN'T SERVED
           WHEN SUCH INJUSTICE IS JUDICIAL
           LOOK AT THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY..
          
           FRAMED BY POLITICIANS WITH THEIR OWN AMBITIONS
           NEVER TO RESTORE HIS TARNISHED NAME
           GROSS HUMILIATION, SCANDAL AND SENSATION
           ROSCOE'S BIGGEST CRIME WAS HAVING FAME
          
           STANDARDS FOR A FAIR TRIAL
           AREN'T JUST FOR PURISTS
           JURISPRUDENCE COUNTS UPON THE
           PRUDENCE OF THE JURISTS
          
           LOOK AT THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY
           BUT THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY
           TAKES ON A DIFFERENT SHAPE
           WHEN WE STOP TO CONTEMPLATE
           THERE'S NEITHER MURDER HERE NOR RAPE
          
           LADIES AND GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY
           WE HAVE TAKEN UP ENOUGH OF YOUR TIME
           WHILE I CONCUR, THIS WAS THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY
           THE RUINATION OF MY CLIENT IS THE CRIME.
          

OP

The third jury to hear the case reached it's verdict in less than 6
minutes, and read an unprecedented statement...
 

JURY FOREMAN

"Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle. We feel that a great
injustice has been done him. We feel also that it was our only plain
duty to give him this exoneration. There was not the slightest proof
adduced to connect him in any way with the commission of a crime.
"He told a straightforward story on the witness stand, which we all
believed. The happening at the hotel was an unfortunate affair for which
Arbuckle, so the evidence shows, was in no way responsible.
We wish him success and hope that the American people will take the
judgment of fourteen men and women who have sat listening for
thirty-one days to the evidence that Roscoe Arbuckle is entirely
innocent and free from all blame."
 

JUDGE

That is all.
 

(Bangs gavel. Pandemonium erupts, as Arbuckle is embraced first by Minta,
then the defense team, reporters and the jury themselves. The
spectators carry Roscoe aloft around the courtroom, where the
reporters bombard him with questions.)

 

REPORTER 1

Hey, Fatty, what's up next?
 

REPORTER 2

Say Arbuckle, how do ya feel?
 

REPORTER 3

Anything you want to tell the fans, Roscoe?
 

ROSCOE

  (He sings "It's Over")

 

           IT'S OVER
           THANK HEAVEN IT'S OVER
           THIS TORTURE IS FINALLY
           THROUGH AT LAST
           LET'S LOOK TO A NEW BEGINNING
           LET'S LEAVE THIS CHAPTER
           IN THE PAST

(spoken)
"Since everything is straightened out at last and I am cleared of all
the charges, I hope that all my friends will be as ready to welcome me
back on the screen as I shall be glad to get back. (cheer)I like to
make people laugh and enjoy themselves. It pleases me because children
are amused at my pictures, and I have always tried very hard not to do
anything in any picture that would offend or be
bad for the children."

           THE CHILDREN
           THE LAUGHTER OF CHILDREN
           TELL ALL OF THE CHILDREN
           I'M STILL THEIR FRIEND
           WE'LL START MAKING BRAND NEW PICTURES
           THEN WE CAN ALL LAUGH ONCE AGAIN
          
"One really good thing has come out of all this trouble. It has been the
means of reuniting my wife and myself after five years of separation. We
are happy to be together again, and we have discovered that the things
that kept us apart were very unimportant after all. Mrs. Arbuckle has
been wonderfully loyal to me during all this trouble. She came all the
way across the continent to be with me, and every minute she has stuck
by me. Her faith and love have been my greatest helps all these long
hard weeks."

           MY MINTA
           MY DARLING WIFE, MINTA
           I'M LUCKY IN HAVING YOU FOR MY WIFE
           I'M GRATEFUL FOR YOUR SUPPORT, DEAR
           YOU'RE SUCH A BLESSING IN MY LIFE
          

(ROSCOE and MINTA kiss.)

"I have always rested my cause in a profound believe in Divine Justice
and in the confidence of the great heart and fairness of the American
people. I want to thank the multitude from all over the world who have
telegraphed and written to me in my sorrow and expressed their utmost
confidence in my innocence. I shall never let them regret their faith in
me."

           IT'S OVER
           THANK HEAVEN IT'S OVER
           THIS TORTURE IS FINALLY
           THROUGH AT LAST
           LET'S LOOK TO A NEW BEGINNING
           LET'S LEAVE THIS CHAPTER IN THE PAST
           IT'S FINALLY OVER AT LAST
           IT'S OVER AT LAST!
           YEAH!
          

(Crossover: Set for The Red Mill)

 

SCENE 22

 

OP

Roscoe Arbuckle was found not guilty in the eyes of the law, and in The
New York Times, The New York Daily News and the New York Tribune, the
acquittal  was front page news. But the many Hearst papers carried the
story in regular type, with smallish headlines generally between pages 6
and 12. Their blurbs made mention of the unprecedented $110,000 Arbuckle
had paid for his acquittal, and that Will Hays was still going to ban
all of his pictures on principle. Hays had already banned the films of
Mabel Normand. And it had been his solemn pledge to clean up Hollywood.
Since there was no radio to speak of, most of America west of the Rockies was
unaware that Roscoe had been acquitted, since the only papers that carried the
story after that were in the Hearst syndicate. Arbuckle lived out the next 11 years
in despair and anonymity. He also drank too much. He was forced to direct under 
his father's name, "William Goodrich", which Buster Keaton joked should
have been...
 

BUSTER

Will B. Good.
 

OP

One of the films he was hired to direct was The Red Mill, a film
starring Marion Davies, and produced by William Randolph Hearst. One
day, during a break, Arbuckle asked his boss...
 

ROSCOE

Hey, Mr. Hearst, can I ask you somethin'?
 

HEARST

Yes, Roscoe, what is it?
 

ROSCOE

When you had all your papers write all those things about me...all
that...stuff...
 

HEARST

Yes?
 

ROSCOE

Why'd you do it?
 

HEARST

Look. "It was nothing personal. I was just trying to sell my papers."
 

ROSCOE

But...
 

HEARST

Yep, "I sold more papers with your trial than I did with the sinking of
the Lusitania." As I said, Arbuckle, nothing personal. It was just
business.
(sings - reprise Big Numbers)
           WE CAN'T SELL OUR ADS WITHOUT
           BIG NUMBERS
           GET THE BULLSHIT TO THEIR STOOP
           AS THE CITY SLUMBERS
           THIS GAME IS ALL ABOUT
           BIG NUMBERS
          

(HEARST exits with Marion)

 

OP

Roscoe's reunion with Minta proved to be short-lived, as well. But he
remarried in 1931, and he made a series of vitaphone shorts with sound.
They say that work leads to work, and so it was:
In 1933, when Warner Brothers finally signed him for a talking Fatty
Arbuckle feature film . He dined out with some friends to celebrate,
went home with his second wife, and and got into bed.While she was
getting dressed for bed, she made a joke. She heard Roscoe laugh. She
chatted on to him for some time, until she realized he hadn't said
anything since she'd heard him laugh.. The coroner would say that he had
died peacefully in his sleep, a smile on his face.
 

BUSTER

They say he died of cardiac arrest, but if you ask me, that's just
another way of sayin' "he died of a broken heart."
 

3rd WIFE

The last thing I heard was his laugh.

(underscoring: Leave 'Em Laughing)

 

OP

A beloved comedian was set up by friends he trusted, slandered in the
press he had always accommodated, bankrupted by a DA with political
aspirations, blacklisted in the industry he helped to create  for that
which he'd been acquitted of in a court of law.
 

SLATE MAN

Cut! Okay, check the gate. Print it. That's a wrap!
 

OP

That's the whole story. Guess you could call it a comic-tragedy.
Another good example of why it stinks to be a detective sometimes.
That's why I quit the Pinkertons shortly after the case was over. 'Cause
sometimes even the wins feel like losses. I stayed in San Francisco, and
started to write stories...they always tell you that you should write
what you know about, so I wrote detective stories... whodunits, mostly.
Pretty soon, I found a publisher. Next thing you know, I'm a writer. For
professional reasons, I dropped my first name, and wrote under my middle
name...Dashiell Hammett. (Buster has wandered on behind Hammett.)
 

BUSTER

Son of a gun. You're Dashiell Hammett?
 

OP

 

(The OP is confused, disoriented, as if not expecting the actor who plays
Buster to suddenly be changing the direction of the script)

Er, why...yes, I am. At least for our purposes here. Uh, why do you
bring this up...NOW?
 

BUSTER

Well gosh, you're about the last guy we'd look to for a big finish in a
musical comedy.
 

OP

What the hell are you talking about?
 

SLATE MAN

Cut! Cut! You people aren't following the story board. Were these
changes approved? Continuity! I thought we were wrapped!
 

BUSTER

Well, I mean, in a Dashiell Hammett story, every body gets shot up at
the end. Cops. Detectives. That's fine for a gangster yarn, but a
musical? I mean, we don't want this to be too depressing, do we?
 

ROSCOE

(entering) Yeah, I don't think Roscoe Arbuckle would allow this thing to
wrap up on a down note, do you?
 

BUSTER

Hell, no.
 

SLATE MAN

Come on, Arbuckle, get off the set, willya, you aren't in this shot!
 

BUSTER

And who the heck is this guy? We aren't shooting a movie here. If we
were, I'd be getting a lot more money. (Picks up SLATE MAN'S slate
board.) Besides, these things didn't come in until sound.
 

(The SLATE MAN scatters notes from his clipboard into the air and exits.
  ROSCOE speaks to The OP)

 

ROSCOE

I mean, Roscoe did have one hundred per cent creative control, right?
 

BUSTER

The man's done his homework.
 

ROSCOE

And if you're gonna give a guy 3 million a year to get laughs for you,
you must trust his ability to get them. Am I right?
 

BUSTER

I should hope so.
 

ROSCOE

And it was about the laughs, wasn't it? Making people smile, and forget
their worries...I mean, isn't that what it was all about for him?
 

BUSTER

You're darned tootin'.
 

OP

Goddamn it, I will not stand for this sort of onstage ad-libbing. We've
rehearsed this thing for WEEKS now, and I think you do a serious
disservice to everyone by cutting up in this manner. I refuse to be a
party to such shenanigans. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm very sorry you
had to experience this. I hope you won't let this display spoil an
otherwise engaging, informative evening. I hope you'll take away from
this experience the truth of the story, not just the ugly lies and
myths. Furthermore, I trust you won't identify me with this loutish,
amateurish behavior. I have always believed that the most important
thing in the theater is PROFESSIONALISM! (The Op strikes a pose of
dramatic dignity.)
 

SCENE 23 (finale)

 

SLATE MAN

Big Finish. Roll 'em!
 

("Buster's Cop Ballet"
Claps slate board. BUSTER hits the OP in the kisser with a creme pie.
The OP chases Buster offstage, cursing and screaming, and drawing
his gun. The SLATE MAN is confronted by BUSTER on
his way offstage. BUSTER pantomimes clapping the slate board on SLATE
MAN's groin. SLATE MAN joins the pursuit.)

 

ROSCOE

(He chants)
           IT'S LIKE I TOLD YOU BEFORE
           ROMANCE IS HAZARDOUS STUFF
           SOME PEOPLE THINK IT'S A BORE
           AND SOME  JUST CAN'T  GET ENOUGH
           BUT LOVIN' MAKES YOU COMPLETE
           AND LETS YOU KNOW YOU'RE ALIVE
           A SENSE OF HUMOR'S REQUIRED
           FOR THOSE WHO HOPE TO SURVIVE
          

(Roscoe takes temporary refuge. Buster again crosses the stage, now
being pursued by the Op and a policeman. The Op is now shooting at
Buster in a bloody rage. We hear one bullet ricochet comically, and
Buster, the Op, and the attending cop do a little
dodge-ball choreography to that effect as they chase Buster. Buster
artfully eludes them and the policeman calls for
backup before exiting into the wings. Roscoe comes out of hiding.)

           YOU'VE GOT TO LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO,
           YOU'VE LEAVE 'EM WITH A SMILE
           LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO
           MAKE IT THE GOAL OF YOUR SOUL
           TO MAKE 'EM ROLL IN THE AISLE
           YOU'VE GOT TO HEAR 'EM HOWLING WHEN YOU LEAVE,
           AND MAKE YOUR EXIT RIGHT ON CUE....
           GOT TO LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO,
           THOUGH YOU KNOW THE JOKE'S ON YOU.
          

(BUSTER is now being pursued by the ENTIRE CAST, dressed as the Keystone
Kops. A fence has been positioned so that it cuts directly down
the center of the stage. Buster scurries up the
ladder. Just as the "Cops" get to the base of the ladder, BUSTER
swivels around and seesaws down the other side of
the fence. The ladder is secretly hinged to accommodate this. The
cops realize they've been had, and run around the upstage side of
the fence to the side where BUSTER is climbing down.
He simply switches gears and does the same maneuver again in reverse.
Again the cops run to the opposite side. But when BUSTER tries it a third
time, the bottom part of the ladder is grabbed by a fat lady, actually
ROSCOE in drag. She jostles it until Buster tumbles down into her arms.)/font>

 

ROSCOE

(spoken) One more Time! Now, everybody!
 

(a sing-along chart, nearly identical to the one in the first act, descends.
But the lyrics are in Swahili, Portuguese, Siamese, Aramaic, and
Gaelic. A different language for each line. The cast leads the audience in
the final chorus, as one by one, they tear off each other's break-away
cop-trousers, and by the end, all the cops are in helmets, uniform jackets
and boxer shorts. Seltzer bottles, pies, and sacks of flour would not be unwelcome.)

 

ENTIRE CAST

(sung)
           YOU'VE GOT TO LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO,
           YOU'VE GOT LEAVE 'EM WITH A SMILE
           LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO
           MAKE IT THE GOAL OF YOUR SOUL
           TO MAKE 'EM ROLL IN THE AISLE
           YOU'VE GOT TO HEAR 'EM HOWLING AS YOU LEAVE,
           AND MAKE YOUR EXIT RIGHT ON CUE....
           GOT TO LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING AS YOU GO,
           THOUGH YOU KNOW THE JOKE'S ON YOU
          

(By this point, all action onstage should have broken down into pandemonium.
LUKE the dog runs onstage, barking, and playing tug of war with
a pair of pants. On the overhead screen, the words The End appear, and the "iris"
of the spotlight slowly closes on the words.)

 

(CURTAIN)