The Ultimate Cary Grant Pages - www.carygrant.net

"It's a Screwball Life"
Chapters 13 thru 15

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Chapter Thirteen
-- by Jenny Curtis --

Chapter 13 - Where There’s Smoke....

(Back in his apartment, Cary sits, huddled in an antique leather wing chair, which is utterly out of place with the rest of the room’s new, expensive, art deco decor. He gets up, paces around the room, starts to pour himself a drink but stops and shudders. He sits back down again and rereads the now tattered playbill. It smells musty, like the kitchen of his childhood home in Bristol. This chair has the same odor. Its the one thing he’s saved from that house, reminding him of what little familial security he’s pieced together from his painful childhood. He fingers an old cigarette burn in the leather distractedly)

Cary (muttering to self): it’s times like these when you ought to ring your mum, but... Get a hold of yourself. This half-witted melodrama will never do. (He picks up the telephone and dials). Kate, it’s Cary. Cary Grant you ninny, now stop playing games for a minute. This is serious. I’m in trouble. Something very... disturbing has happened and its all mixed up in that phony note and those two mysterious dames. I need the truth out of you and...I need your help as well. Would you stop gloating, can’t you tell I’m groveling here, Kate, (His voice cracking) I need that damned Yankee nerve of yours. Well, thank you, you’re a darling too (rolls his eyes), now please come over here before I do something drastic like...like... ringing Irene.

(He hangs up the phone and continues to pace, struggling to light a cigarette with a heavy decorative lighter he keeps on the coffee table. When the flame finally comes up, it’s really huge and the cigarette goes up like a torch. He drops the cigarette, it bounces off his shoe and lies smoldering on the carpet. He reaches for the whiskey to put it out but thinks better of the idea. He takes off his suit coat and throws it over the flame, while running back and forth trying to trample out the flames. This action causes his hair to get adorably mussed and a piece of it flops attractively in his eyes. Archie (the terrier) enters barking. There is a knock at the door which goes unheard by Cary.)

Mrs. Sims (pounding on the door): I say, young man! Are you all right in there? I smell smoke! Is it a fire? Answer me, you hooligan or I’ll have the police out here. They threatened to cart you away the last time when your Hollywood friends delivered a truckload of goats as a joke. Some joke. They ate my fern. That fern has been in my family since the Civil War, and your goats nearly killed it and now you’re trying to burn down the house. This is all going into my report to the police!

(Kate arrives dressed in dirty chinos, and old blouse, with her hair in bandanna)

Kate: Say what’s all the commotion? Not the goats again, I hope Mrs. Sims?

Mrs. Sims: You! I should have known, you were in on this. I thought you were the cleaning woman in that get-up, but you’re one of those movie ruffians aren’t you?

Kate: (Suddenly smelling the smoke and pounding on the door) Cary! It’s me. You’re scaring me, darling, what with the smoke smells and everything. Please unlock the door right now. I promise, I’ll behave. No more tricks. Please dear, this is serious. If you don’t open that door, I’ll break it down. You know I will!

(Hearing Hepburn’s unmistakable shrill bray above Archie’s frantic barks, Cary opens the door casually holding the offending cigarette, now unlit, but completely burned and broken. He ushers her into the room as if there weren’t a cloud of black smoke and burned suit coat in the middle of the rug.)

Cary: Darling, you look stunning. You needn’t have gotten all dolled up for me.

Kate: (rushing to him and putting her arms around him, her voice filled with emotion, relieved that he’s OK) Oh cut out the sarcasm you old poop. I was in the garden when you phoned and I came right over. But I see I wasn’t fast enough, as you’ve tried to commit suicide by Lucky Strike.

(Cary is obviously touched by Kate’s concern and there is a moment of quiet where he’s strangely drawn to her. They appear about to kiss when--)

Mrs. Sims: Suicide! I’m phoning the police! No movie nutcase is going to commit suicide in this building. This is a respectable apartment, Mr. Grant or Mr. Leach or do you have a different alias this week?

(Cary looks at Mrs. Sims, noticing her presence for the first time. He reluctantly frees himself from Kate’s embrace and walks to the door shutting it in her face.)

Mrs. Sims: The nerve! I’m phoning the police this instant.

Cary (shouting through the door) you do that dear, I’ll sign the report too. We must keep this building free from Hollywood hooligans!

Mrs. Sims: Aggggghh! (She stalks back to her apartment to phone the police).

Cary: I really shouldn’t torture the old girl so much. She’s nice enough, really, puts up with Archie’s barking and all my rowdy friends. Had me over for tea last week, kept prattling on about her infernal fern--

Kate: Cary, you’re babbling. (She walks over to him places her hands on his shoulders and pushes him down into the wing chair) Calm yourself, and I’ll fetch some boiling water and towels like in the movies. (She smoothes his hair back and smiles. She bends down and kisses the hair in place on top of his head. Then she backs and heads to the kitchen before he can react) Oh I guess that’s for birthing babies. Well what do they do for your condition? Brandy I suppose. (She returns from the kitchen with a glass of water). This will have do for now. Drink up.

Cary: (sipping a bit, not taking his eyes off her) That’s better, really. I guess I’ve had quite a morning.

Kate: Now tell Sister Kate all about it.

Cary (recovering, flirtatiously) Sister, now that’s a bit too familiar, love. How about confidant?

Kate: Oooh. I like that.

Cary: Well it all started when I nearly apprehended yet another mysterious stranger attempting to deliver this to my apartment (he hands Kate the playbill).

Kate: (examining it) I don’t get it. (Cary reaches over and turns the bill over to the ransom note, brushing her hand momentarily. He blushes)

Cary: I was referring to this bit here. And the most disturbing thing is this chap here, (pointing to Patrick’s name) well, he’s dead. A rather long time, I’m afraid and...

Kate: Settle down. You’re getting all flush again. Oh yes, this does sound ominous doesn’t it, what with Chinatown (mysterious dramatic music) and suspicious mystery women and the like. But which Archie is this person referring to, it could be Archie, the delivery boy...

Cary: Or me! They could have come to kidnap me!

Kate: No, darling that simply doesn’t figure. Why would they kidnap you? Who but you would even know who Patrick was or how to find him? I’ve got it! The dog!

Cary: The dog would find Patrick?

Kate: No, the dog’s name is Archie. It was probably just a bit of celebrity dognapping. Happens all the time. Why just last year, Marlene Dietrich had her poodle snatched...

Cary: Now, YOU’RE babbling, Kate. Dognapping?! I think this goes deeper than that, wouldn’t you say? I catch some mysterious person skulking around my house, waiting to chloroform me and hold me for ransom and you just shrug it off as a canine caper?! Really, I’m beginning to regret my faith in you.

Kate: Well let me ask you this. Was it a woman who was skulking around?

Cary: I think so, I don’t know. I managed to get this glove out of the encounter. I suppose that’s a clue (he says producing the leather glove from his suit coat).

Kate: Silly this is a ladies glove. It could have only been worn by a woman or a very fine-boned man. Do you really think someone like that would show up alone to apprehend a big strapping fellow like you? That’s ridiculous. If she did chloroform you, how is she supposed to get you out of here? In Mrs. Sims wheelbarrow? No woman in her right mind would attempt it. We’re too smart for that. If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit!

Cary: I suppose you’re right. Of course there is one other possibility. No. It’s too dreadful to contemplate--

Kate: Yes, the errand boy. But if he was working for the mystery lady to begin with, why would they kidnap him?

Cary: Well it was obvious to Lorea and Mo that I had affection for the little guy. How could you help but like the kid. I’m a soft touch and they know it. Which is why I need you to come clean about that note you wrote me. Did you say, “the angels sent you.”

Kate: Does that sound like something I would write, or Irene for that matter? No. We wrote the bit about the “Stuffed shirt and flying trapeze club” that’s from "Holiday." Surely you must remember. I thought you’d be onto us right away. Eve, was Irene’s nickname in My Favorite Wife. Don’t you memorize those scripts? I can’t get them out of my head...

Cary: Of course I remembered. I just thought the mystery woman was a fan. Someone who had nothing better to do than watch my movies over and over, day dreaming about what it would be like to meet me. You know a bit crazy, but harmless, and hopefully pretty.

Kate: Then how did that “angels” bit get on the note. Unless..when I gave the note to Archie, he turned it over to Lorea and she saw the opportunity to meet someone with a few connections to help her out of a jam.

Cary: Well how the devil does Jimmy Stewart figure into it, then?

Kate: Maybe we gave her an idea and she thought she’d cast out as many lines as possible. Half the mugs at Paramount could have gotten a note, and you and Jimmy took the bait.

Cary: (tenderly mocking) Half the mugs. Well aren’t you my little Sam Spade. I must say you’re far prettier than Bogey.

Kate: (doing a painfully bad Bogart imitation) Well lets put a move on it shweetheart. We gotta go back to Chins and put the finga on those dames before they ice little Archie.

Cary: (suddenly shocked by her language) You don’t think they’ll actually hurt him, do you?

Kate: I don’t know. That Mo seemed pretty rough and Lorea was desperate...

Chapter Fourteen
-- by Donna Moore --

Chapter Fourteen - One Of Our Archies is Missing

Cary and Kate are standing outside the building looking worried, waiting for a taxi to pass by. Further down the road, a very elegant couple have just flagged down a rare taxi and are just about to step in when Kate spots them and rushes off to head them off at the pass. Unfortunately, she is unable to stop when she reaches the couple and the three go down like ninepins.

Cary looks aghast at the flurry of waving arms and legs and sets off to help. He grabs the nearest feminine arm and pulls, only to discover it belongs to the other woman.

Kate: Cary, throw that back my boy, you don't know where it's been. And give me a hand up here.

Cary: I know EXACTLY where it's been and who put it there. I'm terribly sorry madam, but this is a matter of life and death.

He lets go of the elegant woman's hand and she collapses back on top of her other, and now flatter, half, who has only just regained his breath. As Cary pulls Kate up (a little violently, it has to be said) she falls into the taxi.

Kate: Cecil, take us to Chinatown and don't spare the horsepower.

Taxi Driver: The name's Mac, sister. Do ya think I woulda survived growing up in The Bronx wid a name like Cecil?

Kate: Sorry Mac, but this whole crazy day is just full of taxi drivers and I just can't seem to get them straight in my head.

Taxi Driver: So, youse guys wanna go to Chinatown? (Mysterious music swells dramatically.)

Cary: Yes please Mac - Mickey Chin's.

Taxi Driver (pulling away from the curb): Say, ain’t you that Clark Gable guy?

Cary and Kate look at each other and raise their eyebrows in despair.

Taxi Driver: I coulda been in pictures ya know. Sure I could. I had that Sam Goldwyn in my cab one day and he said to me 'Mac' he said........

(Macs voice trails off as the scene fades to an office in Mickey Chin's where we can see a desk, a large battered chair turned mostly away from the desk and, sitting in the chair, someone smoking a cigar. The scene fades back to the taxi pulling up outside Chin's. Mac is still blethering on)

Taxi Driver: So I sez 'L. B., if you can't get Flynn, just gimme a call'. 'Mac,' he says, 'You're a poil amongst men, an absolute poil'.

Cary and Kate stumble out of the taxi looking drained. Cary flings some notes at Mac and tells him to keep the change. They hurriedly escape before Mac can launch into another movie story.

Kate: Oh my, I'm going to have that man for assault. My ears are bruised after that. I've never known anyone who can talk so much, I mean, he didn't stop the whole way. Can you believe it? The man's a menace. He should be locked up before he chews the ears off any more innocent bystanders. He should......

Cary stops Kate in midflow by grabbing her chin and twisting her head back and forth.

Kate: What on EARTH are you doing?

Cary: Just looking for the family resemblance between you and Mac. Now, come on, we've got a small, grubby boy to find.

They enter Mickey Chin's and Mickey comes up to greet them effusively, knocking over a potted plant on the way. Mickey turns round at the noise of the flowerpot breaking, sees a poor waiter who has tried to stop the pot from falling and slaps him about the head.

Mickey: Can't get the help these days, Mr. Grant. This place is going to rack and ruin.

He raises his arms in despair and as he does so a small lobster falls out from under his jacket. He looks at it puzzled for a moment and then shrugs his shoulders, steps neatly over the lobster and takes Cary by the arm.

Mickey: You're expected in the office, Mr. G.

He says mysteriously, pointing to a door at the far end of the lobby. Unfortunately, as he points, his finger pokes a rather inebriated gentleman in the eye. The inebriated gentleman hovers unsteadily for a few seconds and then topples over. Cary and Kate step over the obstacle and enter the office.

The door closes behind them, shutting out the rather off key orchestra. Behind a further door in the left hand wall of the office, there is the occasional laugh, and muttered conversation. Cary and Kate ignore this and concentrate on a plume of cigar smoke rising from the back of the chair in front of them.

Cary: Well sir, I don't know who you are, but I think it's about time you explained yourself. What have you done with young Archie? Where is Patrick? Why have you dragged me down here? And why was Mickey Chin harbouring a lobster under his jacket?

The mysterious figure in the chair begins to chuckle and the chair squeaks as it moves up and down in time with his giggling. The chair slowly, slowly moves round and a very familiar profile comes into view. A rather chubby face, looking rather like a Bloodhound. It is, of course, Alfred Hitchcock.

Hitch: Well, children, do you like my latest little story?

Cary: What little story? What do you mean?

Hitch: Well, I wanted to test out my new movie plot and also audition you and Jimmy for the lead at the same time, without you knowing what I was doing. Rather clever don't you think? What did you think of my little mystery?

Kate: Hang on, you mean all of this was just an elaborate hoax? With poor Cary here as the dumb dupe?

Cary: Oh, excuse me, who are you calling a dumb dupe? What about those harebrained ideas you and Irene had?

Kate (dismisses that thought with a casual wave of the hand): Cary, you know you're perfectly capable of making a fool of yourself all on your own. You don't need our help to do that.

While Kate has been talking, Cary's eyes have been drawn to a box on the desk in front of Hitch.

Cary: What's in the box?

Hitch: Ah, it's a MacGuffin my dear boy, a MacGuffin, it's simply a plot device that means nothing, it's just to provide motivation, to.........

Cary: (Interrupting) No, THAT box (he points to another brightly coloured box on the desk) Is THAT a MacGuffin, too?

Hitch: No, that's an Egg McMuffin. I was feeling a bit peckish.

Cary (lets out an exasperated sigh and slaps his forehead): So if this was all fake, then who were all those people?

Hitch: Well, Lorea Lockwood is a talented young actress I've recently discovered, Morea is actually Minnie the Moocher from South Bend who bears an uncanny and unlikely resemblance to Lorea, and Aunt Martha is actually William Powell in drag. He did that in Love Crazy and has been dying to repeat the experience. They're all in that room next door, along with Irene, Jimmy and young Archie, having a bit of a knees up. (He whistles and the side door of the office opens. Out pop Irene, Jimmy, Lorea, Minnie the Moocher and William Powell in a babble of conversation).

Cary: So there is no Patrick? Hitch: No, in fact Lorea's not even married.

Cary: And she doesn't have a cousin.

Hitch: No.

Cary: And there's no Eve?

Hitch: No

Cary: So, no-one's been kidnapped?

Hitch: No.

Cary: In that case, where's young Archie? Everyone's here except him.............

Chapter Fifteen
-- by Debbie Dunlap --

Chapter Fifteen - Love Finds a Way - Conclusion

Archie’s foghorn voice erupts from behind the door, “Here I am, Mr. Grant!” His voice is soon followed by an impish face peering out from between Jimmy Stewart’s legs.

Cary turns to Hitchcock, one eyebrow decidedly higher than the other. “No plot to kidnap Archie, either, is there?”

“No,” Hitch chuckles.

Irene flutters over to Cary & Kate, “Didn’t I tell you? I told you! I remember distinctly telling you that everything wasn’t what it seemed. Even though it seemed like it was.”

“Oh, no you don’t! I was the one who suspected first!” Kate interrupts.

“Darling, don’t you remember at that casino when I whispered to you... Well, I didn’t actually whisper; the music was terribly loud.” Irene taps her index finger on her chin and looks up at the ceiling envisioning the whole thing in her mind.

“It wasn’t a casino, for crying out loud! It was a supper club!. And I was the one who told you that Lorea was Minnie the Moocher.” Kate forcefully interjects.

”Kate, dear, it was a casino. There were slot machines in the lobby! And I was the one who identified Miss Moocher,” Irene purrs.

”Those were not slot machines in the lobby! They were pay telephones, you dimwit! And you did not tell me ...” Kate asserts.

As Irene and Kate continue their verbal battle, Hitch’s chair again begins to squeak in rhythm to his chuckles, “I must admit, with Kate & Irene’s help, the plot definitely became as thick as pea soup.”

”Are you telling me these two were in on this?” Cary gestures toward Kate & Irene, both of whom have hands waving and eyebrows dancing as the debate rages on.

A burst of laughter erupts from Hitchcock, “My dear fellow, I may be famous for great mysteries, but even I couldn’t solve what these two cook up! What was supposed to have been a simple plot as a bit of a teaser to entice you & Jimmy to star in my next movie has, with their help, become something better suited to Bogey.”

A visible shudder goes through everyone in the room.

”So Kate wasn’t in on it?” Cary confirms.


”Neither was Irene?”

”Most definitely not!”


”As usual, innocent as a newborn babe.”

Cary shakes his head, “So, what was the original scheme?”

Hitch chuckles yet once more, “My good man, suffice it to say that it involves a missing man with suspicion of thievery, kidnapping, and possibly murder; two handsome detectives out to catch a thief; and a beautiful woman. Yourself & Jimmy being the detectives, of course, and my new discovery, Lorea, is naturally, the beautiful woman. All of it takes place in the north by northwest section of ... (music begins to swell) ... Chinatown. Quite a mundane little plot actually, but with my notorious talent for lighting and camera angles, I’m sure it will be a blockbuster. Of course, it goes without saying that this little charade was a pitifully poor imitation of what I can bring to the screen.”

”Mr. Hitchcock? Al? May I call you Al?” Irene interrupts. “Did you or did you not ...” And thus is Hitch drawn into the lively exchange which now includes Kate, Irene, William, Minnie and a stuttering Jimmy, who is heard to say, “Now...now darn it Kate! I...I did not chase Minnie off that...that stage!”

Cary heaves a heavy sigh, glances at the door just in time to catch the retreating, overall-clad backside of young Archie. “Or whatever his name is,” Cary mutters to himself. “That kid deserves an Oscar.” He hurumphs, then mutters again, “Probably get one before I do, too.”

Cary turns from the door to stare in amusement at the heated debate center stage. Hitch’s face is turning red, Irene looks ready to cry, William is laughing hysterically, Kate is yelling and pointing fingers, Minnie is yelling and pointing fingers, and Jimmy is shaking his head in confusion.

Cary looks to his left and is surprised to see Lorea quietly watching the spectacle with large round eyes. Sensing Cary’s gaze, she looks over. Cary smiles, holds out his hand in silent invitation. Lorea looks at his hand and shyly meets Cary’s gaze with an unspoken question. Cary shrugs his shoulder in the direction of the door. Lorea smiles demurely, walks over to Cary and places her hand in his. Cary smiles, squeezes her hand gently, then leads her to the door. Cary and Lorea leave quietly, shutting the door silently behind them.

”How long do you think it will take them to notice we’re gone?” Lorea giggles.

”Long enough for us to be far away!” Cary answers mischievously. “Come on! Let’s catch a cab.”


We now see Lorea and Cary seated in the back seat of a cab.

”I’m glad your name really is Lorea Lockwood. It’s such a beautiful name.”

Lorea has just explained Hitch’s whole plot to Cary. “Then you aren’t furious with me for deceiving you, Mr. Grant?” Lorea wrings her hands, eyes downcast.

Cary tilts her chin up to look at him. “It’s Cary, my dear. And do I seem to be angry?” Her troubled smoky eyes meet his smoldering dark ones. Cary bends his head and captures Lorea’s mouth.

The cabbie observes the action in his rear view mirror and whistles in appreciation. Cary breaks the kiss, “Keep you eyes on the road, Mac.”

Cary gathers Lorea to him, buries his face in Lorea’s fragrant hair. “I’ve wanted to do that since the first time I saw you,” he whispers in her ear.

”Me, too,” Lorea whispers back.

Cary finds Lorea’s lips once more. The cabbie looks in his mirror, his eyes widen, but he refrains from whistling this time.


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