Drew a little bit of inspiration from Hail, Caesar. I know its not quite the time period I’m aiming for, but the mental image of Hollywood definitely helped me on this one.
“Cut. Cut. Cut.” The director bellowed slouching down in his seat. A grimace swept over his face. A failed actor himself, the directors pain looked more to be constipation than annoyance. He turned to the passing production manager. “That was utter rubbish.”
The production manager shrugged and flashed the director a sympathetic look before racing off to the catering table.
The director looked back towards the set and his starlet Lucy. He beckoned her over with sharp wave of his left hand while rubbing his temple with his right.
“Lucy, darling, what’s the matter? You read the script right?” He said holding up his creased copy.
Lucy, draped in a red sequin dress for the film’s opening scene slowly dropped her gaze from the directors tired crows feet.
“I’m sorry Mr. Lundwick,” Lucy began tripping over her own words. “It’s, well it’s just when I have to talk my mind just goes blank.” She returned to meet his eyes. “This is all so new to me, what with lines and all. What’s wrong with the old pictures anyway?”
She tried to lighten the mood with a nervous giggle. Mr. Lundwick, found her giggle awkward and more irritable than he did endearing. He sighed. Silent movies were on their way out. He knew it, the studio knew it, and most of all, the audience knew it.
“Okay let’s practice once more.” Mr. Lundwick said taking a step back. “I approach you,” he stepped forward once again. “‘You look lovely tonight Ms. Scarlet.’” Mr. Lundwick bowed low to lay a gentle kiss on Lucy’s hand. “‘May I have this dance?’ And then you say…” Mr. Lundwick paused looking up the length of Lucy’s arm.
Lucy closed her eyes and inhaled slowly. “And then I say: ‘Of course darling, I’ve been waiting for you to ask.’ And then we do the number.”
“See that isn’t so hard.” Mr. Lundwick said. His stern look melted away and he took his seat once more. “Places everyone.” Lundwick clapped.
Lucy remained motionless until Mr. Lundwick motioned for her to get back on set. She quickly came to and hurried back to her mark while fixing the left shoulder strap of her dress.
A sharply dressed set hand ran to his mark and snapped his clapboard. “A dance with death scene one, take 14.”
“And, Ac-tion,” Lundwick yelled.
Robert Ludlow, Lucy’s co-lead, gracefully approached.
‘His teeth are so white,’ Lucy thought.
“You look lovely tonight Ms. Scarlet.” Ludlow pulled Lucy’s gloved hand up to his lips and pressed.
Lucy seized up ‘His hands are just–’
“May I have this dance?”
Lucy’s breath quickened and she remained frozen.
“Cut.” The director screamed. “Take five everyone. And you,” Mr. Lundwick said pointing at his assistant, “get the studio on the phone.”
Robert dropped Lucy’s hand and walked towards the catering table. “How many more times are we gonna shoot this scene?” He wondered loudly. The remark cut into Lucy’s stomach.
Within a minute a phone was brought to the director’s side. He loudly fingered the rotary.
“Yes, Hello? John Redwine’s office. Tell him it’s Lundwick.” After a short pause he continued. “Can you still get me Anna Peterson for the Dance with Death picture? You can. All right very good sir. Oh? Her? Stagefright most like. Yeah. Cat took her tongue, ate it, and buried it already. Haha, exactly. Sure I’ll send her your way. Thanks. Buh-bye.”
Mr. Lundwick stood up from his director’s chair and went looking for his now ex-starlet. She had heard everything though and was already on her way to costumes. She slowly removed her long white gloves one by one, letting tears fall freely and silently.