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A Star is Reborn

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SCENE: EDDIE MANNIX’S OFFICE. HOBIE DOYLE sits before MANNIX’S DESK, attentively.

HOBIE DOYLE: So, you say the costumes are missing, Mr Mannix?

MANNIX: That’s correct. A whole lot of costumes. You know this is a massive production, we’ve talked it up as the Dance of a Thousand Lovers. And, well, it’s closer to 786 payroll but that’s still a whole lotta skirts. We can’t afford to replace them right away, and we can’t afford for the latest Laurence Laurentz costumed masterpiece to be dressed up in hand-me-downs.

CLOSE-UP MANNIX: It’s not just the clothes, Doyle. We have some… items on loan from my good friends at Tiffany. Big items. Sparkly items. You get my drift?

CLOSE-UP DOYLE: Yes sir, Mr Mannix sir. I surely do. I will look into it, when my schedule allows.

MANNIX: You will do it now. I’ll square it with Jackson. He’ll shoot around you for a week.

DOYLE: Sir, I don’t mean to doubt you, but I am the star-

MANNIX: Yes you are. Just so long as you do just what I say.

*

SCENE: THE BAR, HOTEL SPLENDIDE, BEVERLY HILLS

HOBIE DOYLE and CARLOTTA VALDEZ, dressed for a glamorous night out, are sharing a KNICKERBOCKER GLORY, with two SPOONS. VALDEZ has CREAM on her NOSE, evidently relic of a happy encounter with DOYLE’S SPOON. Around them are a variety of PATRONS, sophisticated. Most are drinking COCKTAILS. They are ignoring DOYLE and VALDEZ.

DOYLE: I mean, I want to help Mr Mannix, of course. But clothing ain’t my area of expertise. I don’t know that I’d recognise-

[He consults a NOTEBOOK]

DOYLE: -a selection of delectable fin de siècle gowns, Jugendstil-inspired, fantastique in tone, and jewels recalling the finest Lalique-

VALDEZ: You asked Mr Laurentz what they looked like, huh?

DOYLE: [frowns and nods]

VALDEZ: Hobie, you’re the greatest. You know I think so. But I think you’re gonna need some help with this.

DOYLE: I think maybe you’re right. But I couldn’t ask-

VALDEZ: You don’t even hafta ask, Hobie. I’m going to be the best undercover crime fighter Hollywood has ever known.

VALDEZ retrieves and dons a pair of scarlet-framed SUNGLASSES which match her GOWN. They are embossed with CHERRIES.

VALDEZ: [looking over her sunglasses] No one’s even going to know I’m there. See?

DOYLE: Yes ma’am. I believe that’s how this will go down.

VALDEZ and DOYLE smile, and take another scoop of KNICKERBOCKER GLORY. DOYLE gets the CHERRY from the top in his scoop. He passes it to VALDEZ with a bow.

DOYLE: I think this is more in your style, ma’am.

VALDEZ laughs, and eats the CHERRY. DOYLE watches, with a smile.

*

SCENE: A HOLLYWOOD BACK LOT.

VALDEZ enters, wearing the SUNGLASSES and a full-length TRENCHCOAT. She casts a glance to left and right, and slips into an unmarked WARDROBE TRAILER. We catch a brief glimpse of the SUMPTUOUS CONTENTS.

*

SCENE: A HAIRDRESSING SALON

VALDEZ is speaking with a hair STYLIST, whose face is unseen but whose HANDS continue to work on VALDEZ throughout.

VALDEZ, her hair in rollers: I just don’t know what to wear to that premiere, you know? Hobie has seen all my best gowns, and I can’t seem to get any good jewelry on loan this time. [A plaintive look.] I just- I want to live up to him. He’s been so successful lately, and my last picture didn’t do so well. But I just don’t know how I’ll afford…

[VALDEZ trails off and subtly glances upwards to gauge whether the STYLIST is biting]

*

SCENE: A MAKE-UP TRAILER INTERIOR

Three ACTRESSES and two MAKE-UP ARTISTS are clustered tightly, amidst limited space and many COSMETICS

VALDEZ: And, you know, I want to look like Mr Laurentz likes. Like, classy. I think I have a shot, maybe. He could relaunch my whole career.

One of the ACTRESSES is obscured beneath a POWDER-PUFF. We see the other ACTRESS concealing an eye-roll. Neither leaps into the breach.

VALDEZ: [continuing] But I don’t even know the right words to ask for that kind of classy outfit, you know? It’s all New Look this and Art Deco that. Hobie’s talking about his current shoot and I have no idea what half of it even means. [She giggles, but her eyes are watchful.]

ACTRESS: The Vienna picture? I thought the Jugenstil designs were just divine.

VALDEZ: Oh! You saw them too?

ACTRESS: [hastily, uncomfortable] I need more mascara, Daphne. You make me look like some poor little mouse.

*

SCENE: VALDEZ and DOYLE meet in a DINER BOOTH. Both have PLATES full of SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS, which they have been enjoying.

DOYLE: So, sounds like Estella Delaine had some inside info, huh? Could be she was just fixing to catch Mr Laurentz’s attention, though. We get a lot of that on set.

VALDEZ: I know! You wouldn’t believe how many people know about that picture. Like, detailed stuff. There’s a lot of interest. And I don’t think those costumes and jewels were stolen for resale, Hobie. They’re too distinctive, and not really fashionable now. So it’s got to be some deeper motive.

DOYLE: And you reckon Miz Delaine has one of those?

VALDEZ: Maybe. I’m not certain. But she knows something, that I’m sure of. Something she didn’t want me to realise. I’m going to ask around about her.

DOYLE: You be careful, Carlotta.

*

SCENE: SPLIT SCREEN TELEPHONE CALL
VALDEZ is in a PHONE BOOTH, wearing SUNGLASSES after dark
DOYLE is in his home, listening anxiously

DOYLE: Okay, I got that. So she’s seeing Trevor Trevelyan. You know, I haven’t heard that name since my first year on the lot.

VALDEZ: I know, and he used to be such a star. Ever since Mr Laurentz’s STRAIGHT ON TILL SIXPENCE bombed that bad, I don’t think he’s worked at all.

DOYLE: And he definitely knows Miz Delaine.

VALDEZ: [eyeroll visible despite her SUNGLASSES] I would say so. They were acting very intimate, if you know what I mean.

DOYLE: Yep. I think I do. Sounds like I should check it out.

VALDEZ: Sure. I’m heading home now, Hobie. You want to get dinner tomorrow and catch up?

DOYLE: It’d be a pleasure.

*

SCENE: A louche JAZZ LOUNGE frequented by CLASSY DAMES AND DANGEROUS MEN. DOYLE is drinking a BEER. VALDEZ a MARTINI. They look both incongruous and comfortable together.

VALDEZ: Trevelyan wasn’t home, huh?

DOYLE: Nope. But I reckon he’ll be back soon. That’s a real nice place he’s got. Real luxurious. And I talked with the pool boy, he says Mister Trevelyan’s been pretty flush lately.

VALDEZ: Huh. I mean, he was a big star, but this business is tough when you fall off the top, right? Can he just be in it for the money? Is there that much money in stolen costumes and old-style jewelry? It doesn’t seem like we’ve cracked it yet, Hobie.

DOYLE: I don’t reckon this is all about money, Carlotta. That pool boy’s a pretty attentive guy. He says Trevelyan’s been meeting with Carl Driver.

VALDEZ: [shocked] Carl Driver of Lynx Pictures? You think Trevelyan’s going to jump ship to another studio?

DOYLE: [darkly] I think he already did. But we need to be sure before we make this public. I don’t like to ask-

VALDEZ: [eagerly] What do I do?

*

SCENE: THE OFFICE OF CARL DRIVER, CHIEF, LYNX PICTURES

VALDEZ sits at DRIVER’S DESK, looking bright but brittle

VALDEZ: It’s so kind of you to see me, Mr Driver. I just- I don’t know what to do to get past this patch, you know? A girl goes out of fashion, she gets forgotten pretty quick. I have to look to my future.

DRIVER: You have a great career ahead of you, Miz Valdez. I look at you, I see you surrounded by girls dressed as birds. I see you as Queen of the Night. I see you worshipped. And also, we need a swimming star in the frame now that DeeAnna’s giving us a gap in the market. How’s your backstroke?

VALDEZ: [smiles, nods]

TIME BLURS FORWARDS

DRIVER: Of course, times are tough. At Lynx as much as for anywhere else. And we have to know that we’re putting ourselves in the strongest possible position.

VALDEZ: [smiles, nods, quirks an eyebrow subtly]

DRIVER: Which means we have to know our employees are loyal. And sometimes…. Maybe we’ll ask you to help us out a little. Before you leave your… current employer.

VALDEZ: [innocently] Sure! How can I help?

DISSOLVE

*

SCENE: EDDIE MANNIX’S OFFICE. HOBIE DOYLE sits before MANNIX’S DESK, attentively.

MANNIX: That scheming scumbag Driver! To think he’s been subverting my loyal stars this way.

DOYLE: Yes sir, Mr Mannix, sir. We, uh, me and Carlotta, we think he only got to Trevelyan and his lady friend who has a cousin who works in wardrobe, so far. But I can keep on digging, if-

MANNIX: No, no, this is plenty. I’ll get him to give’em back or I’ll sell it to Thessaly and all of Hollywood’ll be laughing at their desperation. You can get off back to the studio.

DOYLE: [willing, but a little downcast] Sure, Mister Mannix. But any time you need me, or me and Carlotta to look into something for ya-

MANNIX: Nonsense, son. I’ve trespassed on your time too long. You get on back to being the star that you are. This studio’s in safe hands now.

DOYLE: [dawdles off into a rose-tinted, sunset-style, outer office.]

There is a sense of SOMETHING UNFINISHED.

*

SCENE: Another BAR. Another SHARED DESSERT. Our HEROES are celebrating. Doyle in particular appears more cheerful than in the previous scene.

DOYLE: You’re the greatest, Carlotta. I truly do believe you can do anything.

VALDEZ: Not just me. We make a great team, Hobie.

DOYLE: We surely do.

[Their eyes meet, and smiles start.]

DOYLE: Why, I’ve an idea! I reckon you’d be an asset to any movie. I’m going back to make sure Mr Mannix really understands just how you helped clear this whole thing up. I’ll bet he’ll get you a great new part. Maybe with Mr Laurentz. Kickstart your new career, right? You’re the classiest gal I know, he’ll love you.

VALDEZ: [laughs] Oh, Hobie, that was just my cover story. I’m not a Laurentz kind of gal.

DOYLE: [earnestly] But you’re the best, Carlotta. They’d be lucky to have you. Hell, he made a silk purse outta me, that’s what they say. And you’re already pure silk.

VALDEZ: [blushing, smiling]

DOYLE: Anyways, I don’t like to think of pictures without you in them, Carlotta. Please?

VALDEZ: Well. Maybe that would be nice.

*

WIPE to: OPENING CREDITS

A CLASSY YET EVOCATIVE FRENCH TUNE plays. A top-hatted MAN, tall, elegant and stylish, bows over the HAND of a SMALL AND VIVID YOUNG WOMAN with AMAZING HAIR.

LAURENCE LAURENTZ PRESENTS….

VOICEOVER: He was a Count, with a tragic past and a vision for the future. She was a poor French girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Together, they transformed the Paris art world.

VALDEZ: [for it is she, with FETCHING DIMPLES] But, Monsieur Lautrec, I don’t even know how to address a count.

DISTINGUISHED SCREEN ACTOR: Mademoiselle, it is I who has the honour.

*

WIPE to: OPENING CREDITS

A DARK ALLEY. A MAN IN TRENCHCOAT and HAT. A MATCH flares. A CIGARETTE is lit. The face of HOBIE DOYLE is briefly seen in the flame.

VOICEOVER: He was a man who walked alone. He stood in the shadows. He watched. He was the all-seeing eye of the masses. He would find injustice, and he would seek revenge.

*

WIPE to: cover of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

DOYLE-VALDEZ WEDDING BRINGS OUT ALL THE STARS

Our HEROES kiss below the HEADLINE.

*

THAT’S ALL FOLKS