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A renowned New York playwright is enticed to California to write for the movies and discovers the hellish truth of Hollywood.
Barton: [at the USO club] I'm a writer, you monsters! I create! I create for a living! I'm a creator! I am a creator! [points to his head] Barton: This is my uniform! This is how I serve the common man!
Barton: Have you read the Bible, Pete? Pete: Holy Bible? Barton: Yeah. Pete: Yeah, I think so. Anyway, I've heard about it.
Deutsch: All right, forget the heads. Where's Mundt, Fink? Mastrionotti: He teach you how to do it? Deutsch: You two have some sick sex thing? Barton: Sex? He's a man! We wrestled! Mastrionotti: You're a sick fuck, Fink.
Charlie: Look upon me! I'll show you the life of the mind!
[Barton is ranting about elitist playwrights] Barton: Who cares about the fifth Earl of Bathsdrop and Lady Higgenbottom and... and... who killed Nigel Grinchgibbons? Charlie: I can feel my butt gettin' sore already!
Geisler: Look, you confused? You need guidance? Talk to another writer. Barton: Who? Geisler: Jesus, throw a rock in here, you'll hit one. And do me a favor, Fink: throw it hard.
Barton: I gotta tell you, the life of the mind... There's no roadmap for that territory... And exploring it can be painful.
Charlie: You think I made your life hell? Take a look around this dump. You're just a tourist with a typewriter, Barton, I live here.
Charlie: Heil Hitler.
Charlie: What a day. Felt like I couldn't sell ice water in the Sahara.
Charlie: I could tell you some stories... Barton: Sure you could and yet many writers do everything in their power to insulate themselves from the common man, from where they live, from where they trade, from where they fight and love and converse and... Barton: So naturally their work suffers and regresses into empty formalism and... well I'm spouting off again, but to put it in your language, the theatre becomes as phony as a three-dollar bill! Charlie: Well I guess that's a tragedy right there!
Charlie: I could tell you stories to curl your hair, but it looks like you've already heard 'em.
[last lines] Beauty: It's a beautiful day. Barton: Huh? Beauty: I said it's a beautiful day. Barton: Yes. It is. Beauty: What's in the box? Barton: I don't know. Beauty: Isn't it yours? Barton: I don't know. You're very beautiful. Are you in pictures? Beauty: Don't be silly.
Chet: Are you a trans or a res? Barton: Excuse me? Chet: Transient or resident? Barton: Oh, I don't know. I'll be here indefinitely. Chet: Res. That'll be $25.50 a week payable in advance. Checkout time is twelve sharp, but you can forget about that on account of you're a res. Now if you need anything, anything at all, just pick up your personal in-room telephone and talk to me. My name is Chet. Although we do provide privacy for the residential guests, we are also a full-service hotel including complementary shoeshine. My name is Chet. [writes his name on a slip of paper in capital letters with an exclamation point and passes it to Barton] Barton: Thanks...
Audrey Taylor: Barton, empathy requires understanding. Barton: What? What don't I understand?
Barton: I've always found that writing comes from a great inner pain.
Barton: Shouldn't your first duty be to your gift?
Jack Lipnick: We're only interested in one thing, Bart. Can you tell a story? Can you make us laugh? Can you make us cry? Can you make us want to break out in joyous song? Is that more than one thing? Okay!
Geisler: Mayhew, some help, the guy's a souse! Barton: He's a great writer... Geisler: A great souse! Barton: You don't understand... Geisler: Souse! Barton: He's in pain, because he can't write... Geisler: Souse! Souse! Can't write? He manages to write his name on the back of his paycheck every week!
W.P. Mayhew: I close my eyes I can almost smell the live oak. Audrey Taylor: That's chicken fat Bill. W.P. Mayhew: Well my olfactory's turning womanish on me, lying and deceitful.
Ben Geisler: Okay Fink, let's chow.
Mastrionotti: Fink. That's a Jewish name, isn't it? Barton: Yeah. Mastrionotti: Yeah, I didn't think this dump was restricted.
Jack Lipnick: Look Bart, barring a preference we're going to put you on a wrestling picture, Wallace Beery. I say this because they tell me you know the poetry of the streets, so that would rule out westerns, pirate pictures, screwball, Bible, Roman... look, I'm not one of those guys who thinks poetic has got to be fruity. We're together on that aren't we? I mean I'm from New York myself, well, Minsk if you want to go all the way back. Which we won't, if you don't mind and I ain't asking. Now people are going to say to you, Wallace Beery, wrestling, it's a B picture. You tell them: BULLSHIT! We do NOT make B pictures here at Capitol. Let's put a stop to that rumor RIGHT now!
Charlie: I sure do forget myself sometimes.
W.P. Mayhew: Mister Fink, they have not invented a genre of picture that Bill Mayhew has not, at one time or other, been invited to essay. Yes, I have taken my stab at the rasslin' form, as I have stabbed at so many others, and with as little success. I gather that you are a freshman here, eager for an upperclassman's counsel. However, just at the moment, I have drinking to do. Why don't you stop by my bungalow, which is number fifteen, later on this afternoon, and we will discuss rasslin' scenarios and other things lit'rary.
Mastrionotti: What do you do, Fink? Barton: I write. Deutsch: Oh yeah? What kind of write? Barton: Well, as a matter of fact I write for the pictures. Mastrionotti: Big fuckin' deal. Deutsch: You want my partner to kiss your ass? Mastrionotti: Would that be good enough for you? Barton: No, I - I didn't mean to sound... Deutsch: What did you mean? Barton: I - I've got respect for - for working guys, like you... Mastrionotti: Jesus! Ain't that a load off!
Charlie: The doctor, what's he gonna tell me? Can't trade my head in for a new one.
W.P. Mayhew: Me, well I just like makin' things up.
Charlie: I pulled off early today. Took your advice, went to a doctor about this ear. He says 'You have an ear infection, ten dollars please'. So I says 'I told you I had an ear infection, you give me ten dollars!' Well that started an argument.
Ben Geisler: Tell Lipnick he can kiss my dimpled ass.
Poppy Carnahan: I don't pretend to be a critic, but lord knows I have a gut, and my gut tells me it's simply marvelous. Richard St. Claire: And a charming gut it is. Poppy Carnahan: Oh, you dog.
Mastrionotti: Started in Kansas City. Couple of housewives. Deutsch: Couple days ago we see the same M.O. out in Los Feliz. Mastrionotti: Doctor. Ear, nose and throat man. Deutsch: All of which he's now missin'. Mastrionotti: Well, some of his throat was there. Deutsch: Physician, heal thyself. Mastrionotti: Good luck with no fuckin' head. Deutsch: Anyway.
W.P. Mayhew: Me I just enjoy making things up. Yessah escape. Its when I can't write I can't escape myself, I want to rip my head off and run screaming down the street with my balls in a fruit pickers pail.
Lipnick: We don't put Wallace Beery in some fruity movie about suffering - I thought we were together on that.
[in an off-screen drunken rampage] W.P. Mayhew: Honey! Where's my honey?
W.P. Mayhew: Did I ever tell you the story of Solomon's Mammy?
Jack Lipnick: It's the carrot that wags the dog.
Charlie: Sometimes it gets so hot I want to crawl right out of my skin.
W.P. Mayhew: You are dripping, sir.
Geisler: Wallace Beery. Wrestling picture. What do you need, a roadmap?
[to Barton, while trying to get Barton to go to Hollywood] Garland: The common man will still be here when you get back. Who knows, there may even be one or two of them in Hollywood. Barton: That's a rationalization, Garland. Garland: Barton, it was a joke.
Jack Lipnick: I run this dump, and I don't know the technical mumbo-jumbo. Why do I run it? Cause I got horse sense goddamit, SHOWMANSHIP! And also I hope Lou told you this, I am bigger and meaner and louder than any other kike in this town. Did you tell him that Lou? And I don't mean my dick is bigger than yours, it's not a sexual thing. You're a writer, you know more about that. Coffee?
Charlie: Beery wrestling picture? Could be a pip, could be a pip.
W.P. Mayhew: I'm buildin' up a levy one brick at a time...
W.P. Mayhew: If I close my eyes I can almost smell a live oak. Audrey Taylor: That's chicken fat, hun. W.P. Mayhew: Well, my olfactory's gone all womanish on me. Lyin' and deceitful.
Detective Deutsch: [questioning Fink about Mundt] What else? Barton: Trying to think. Nothing, really. He... he said he liked Jack Oakie pictures. Detective Mastrionotti: You know, ordinarily we say anything you might remember could be helpful. But I'll be frank with you, Fink. That is not helpful. Detective Deutsch: Notice how he's not writing it down?
Jack Lipnick: Kiss this man's feet!
[repeated line] Wrestler: I will destroy him!
Geisler: Never make Lipnick like you!
Jack Lipnick: It's supposed to be about big men! In tights! Both physically and mentally!
Charlie: Listen to me belly achin', like my problems add up to a hill of beans.
Charlie: Yeah... Ladies do ask for attention. In my experience, they pretend to give it, but it's generally a smokescreen for demanding it back with interest.
Ben Geisler: What Ted Oakam doesn't know you could almost squeeze into the Hollywood Bowl.
Ben Geisler: Think about it, Fink! Writers come and go; we always need Indians!
Charlie: Hell you've got it made writing for the pictures, beating out that competition, and me being patronizing! Is the egg showing, or what?
Geisler: I've got a writer here - Fink - all screwy! Says I'm producing that Wallace Beery wrestling picture; what am I, the god-damn janitor around here?
Barton: That son of a bitch! Don't get me wrong, he's a fine writer...
Barton: I'm sorry if I let you down. Jack Lipnick: You didn't let me down Fink, or even Lou. We don't live or die by what you scribble. You let Ben Geisler down. He liked you, trusted you... and that's why he's gone, he's fired. That man had a heart as big as the all outdoors and you fucked him.
Chet: Welcome to Los Angleeees, Mr. Fink.
W.P. Mayhew: [singing] Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay, gone are my friends from the cotton fields away, gone from the earth to a better land I know, I hear the gentle voices calling, old black Joe. I'm coming I'm coming, oh my head is bending low, I hear the gentle... the truth my honey is a tart that does not bear scrutiny. Breach my levee at your own peril!
Barton: I don't like to discuss Works in Progress. If I let the words tumble out prematurely, it changes it, and I may never get it back.
W.P. Mayhew: I pays my baby love and she pays me back with pity. The basest coin there is...
Barton: W.P. Mayhew? The writer? W.P. Mayhew: Just Bill, please. Barton: [screaming] BILL! You're the finest novelist of our time.
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