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Erich Von Stroheim
Mary Beth Hughes
Dan Duryea


Directed by:
Anthony Mann
(Probably the grandpa of Michael Mann who directed 'ALI' in 2001)


Mexico City, 1936.
The scene opens at a vaudeville variety show in a small theater. A Spanish dancer is twirling around to a guitarist's song, and is dancing with a long scarf. Next act, a clown (Tony the Clown) with big shoes is doing silly antics, when gun fire is heard several times from back stage along with a woman's piercing scream. The clown tries to keep his act going, but there is such a commotion, no one in the audience pays attention to him. Someone comes out onto the stage and says there is nothing to worry about, the show is over and everyone's money will be refunded at the box office. The audience exits.

Meanwhile, backstage, the commotion continues (you can see the well-endowed, Jane Russell, is one of the extras in the backstage commotion). A detective is questioning Eddie in his/his wife's dressing room. He assumes Eddie killed his wife since they had a petty argument earlier. First he shows Eddie the gun that was found at the scene of the crime, but he has never seen it before. Then the film cuts briefly to a shadow of a scruffy looking man climbing up a ladder to the rafters above the stage to hide, then back to Eddie's dressing room. The coroner states to the detective that she wasn't shot; she was strangled. Eddie cries in his hands saying, 'I don't believe it..I just don't believe it!' Eddie is being questioned continuously, and he emphatically states, 'I loved don't kill the woman you love'. However, the detective does not believe him and he is taken down to the police station for further questioning.

Next scene, all the performers are being questioned as to their where abouts during the time of the murder, and no one seems to know anything except one middle aged lady who thinks she got what was coming to her. She wasn't asked to explain as her husband did not agree. Again, the camera cuts to the scruffy looking man up in the stage rafters looking down on the people being questioned.

In a while, everyone but Tony the Clown and another male performer are are closing up the stage area, getting ready to leave. The other fellow leaves and Tony the Clown turns out the lights, when all of a sudden he hears something on top of the stage. He calls out, 'Hey, who goes there!' Then something big falls with one big thump behind the curtain. Tony runs to look and he see someone he recognizes.

Tony kneels down and says, 'Say, I know you! You're Flamarion...The Great Flamarion!' Flamarion mumbles under his breath, 'The Great Flamarion'. Tony says, 'I'm Tony the Clown...I played on the same bill with you in Pittsburg'. Flamarion says, 'Water', and Tony runs to get him a glass of water. Tony offers to get a doctor for Flamarion, but Flamarion wants to die. Tony asks why he wants to die. Flamarion sadly says, 'Because I killed Connie...she shot me and I strangled her.' Tony says, 'But they're holding her husband!' Flamarion says, "He is innocent.' Tony says, 'You better tell the police yourself because they may not believe me'. Flamarion says, I'll be dead by the time the police arrive and I want to tell you, Tony, why I killed Connie.' So Tony props the head of reclined Flamrion onto his lap on the stage floor. Flamarion asks, 'You remember my act in Pittsburg, with my two assistants, Connie and Al Wallace?...

The camera fades to the Pittsburg stage show of Flamarion's vaudeville act. A couple (Connie and Al Wallace) dressed in evening clothes are embracing in a ritzy looking room at a table with a champagne bottle and glasses. There is a sudden knock on the door. Connie makes Al hide. Then enters sharp-shooter, Flamarion (dressed in a top hat, tails, and spectacles) shooting the door open. The audience applauds, and Flamarion mechanically moves about the stage. Connie holds a champagne glass and Flamrion shoots it out of her hand. Connie picks up the champagne bottle and Flamarion shoots off the top half. Then he shoots her cigarette to light it. Next, Flamarion shoots off one of her shoulder straps of her dress and then a decorative garter-belt thing on her thigh(like what betty boop wears-can't think of the name of the thing at present). Then the man comes out of the closet, but ends up doing a kind of dance in front of the mirror as Flamarion shoots at him. Flamarion's bullets shatter the lights that line the edge of the mirror. The act ends with Flamarion shooting 3 things off Connie's headband and the toupe' off the man who comes into the room with the bill. As Flamarion exists with Connie, he shoots all the lights out in the room. The audience gives an outstanding applause as Flamarion, Connie and Al take turns bowing.

The cutains close and you hear Flamarion scolding Al stating that he was one beat off and came into his line of fire. Al says it will never happen again, but Flamarion is angry and states that he has to be absolutely sure of his assistants. Flamarion walks off to his dressing room with Connie following after him. Connie assures Flamarion outside his dressing room that Al will do as she says. She goes on to say that she too is concerned with the act and how her life would be empty without it (while touching his hand). Flamarion states her personal feelings are of no concern to him, and those who don't go by his rules are out! He shuts his door. Inside his room, his voice narrates, 'I picked Connie and Al up as a 3rd rate dancing act 6 months ago and always thought of them as a happily married couple.'

In Connie and Al's dressing room, Connie walks in to find Al drinking hard liquor. Connie says, 'Okay lush, that'll be enough of heard Flamarion..maybe you like sleeping on a park bench, but I don't!' Al says, 'Afraid it will cramp your style?' Connie standing behind the dressing screen and says, 'Even a moron oughta be able to stooge for a few gun shots'. Al then says, 'So now I'm a've changed your tune since we got married.' Connie says, 'There's an easy way out of this', but Al interrupts, 'If you think I'm gonna let you go so another man can have you-that it is not going to happen.' He also cited all the unscrupulous things she has done in the past like cheating an insurance company over a diamond ring, and giving some man a quick shuffle in order to steal bank bonds, etc. Al assured Connie that she won't get away from him so fast. She mumbles, 'I'll get away some how'. Al replies, 'You haven't got a prayer'.

Next scene, we see Flamarion sitting in the semi-dark, strengthening his eyes by shooting at a swinging gadget with a bee bee gun, when he hears a knock at his door. Its Connie Wallace seeming urgent. Although he says he does not want to be disturbed, he opens the door and asks what is it. Connie enters telling Flamarion that she thinks she knows why Al is drinking, Flamarion states he is not interested in why, but that it hurts the act. Connie says that Al is jealous of him. Flamarion asks sternly, 'Am I to be responsible for his lack of ambition?...has he any idea of how hard I worked to get where I am?' Connie then reveals that when the bullets release her shoulder strap and garter belt, she tells herself they are his hand...every bullet.' (then gazes dreamily into his eyes) Flamarion now says they both have to leave the act before they perform in San Francisco. Connie says, 'Okay, see how the act goes without us in Frisco. Flamation says, Okay, since it will be hard for me to get assistants on such short notice, they can stay on till then. Connie acts totally grateful and leaves.

On the beautiful, art deco train, speeding along, Flamarion goes to enter his cabin only to find Connie sitting semi-reclined on his bed. She says, 'I could hardly wait till you got here.' He demands, 'How did you get in here?' Connie asks, 'Wouldn't you rather know why than how?' The angered Flamarion states, 'I'm not interested!' (this part is amusing if you watch for scenes lacking visual continuity--there must have been 2 takes as in the 1st one, Flamarion's cabin has a window over the bed, and in the 2nd take there is no window).

Connie states, 'I know all about Alma!' Flamarion exclaims, 'You went through my suitcase!?' Connie claims that she's just a woman in love and had to find out why he was afraid of her. Flamarion claims he's not afraid of anything. Connie says, 'Yes, you're afraid of your heart.' Flamarion angrily states that he has had nothing to do with a woman in 15 years. Connie says, 'Isn't that silly...just because you were burned once!' Flamarion keeps demanding that she leave. Connie goes on to say that she needs to stay in his cabin because Al beats her and she hasn't any other place to stay. Flamarion expresses disinterest in her domestic problems. Connie unbuttons the top buttons of her blouses top prove it. Flamarion stops her and says he'll call for her to get another room, but she says the train is sold out. Connie finally says. 'Al is on the war path because he knows I love you! Flamarion (turned away from her) says, 'That settles it-when we arrive in San Francisco, you'll both leave the act.' Connie says, 'I'm honest and what do I get-you fire me!' Flamarion says, 'That's right.' Connie leans gently on his shoulder from behind, and says, 'Its not nice to have one's heart kicked around...well, thanks for the lesson! (and she goes for the door). Finally Flamarion says, 'Okay, you can stay.' Then Connie says, 'I figured out what's the matter with're asleep...and maybe this'll wake you up. Then she plants a kiss on his mouth. As he exits his cabin, she sits back comfortably with a 'that'll get him' smirk on her face. In the train corridor Flamarion narrates, 'It struck me like lightning-not since my days in the army with Alma have I been so close to a woman. One look in the mirror would've told me I am not for her-that something else was going on'. (scene cuts to him looking out from the back of the moving train). Flamarion narrates, 'It seemed as though a new life had begun. In reality, it was the beginning of the end.'

Next scene is in a fancy, schmancy Chinese restaurant in San Franncisco with Flamarion waiting for Connie to arrive. He is sitting at a private table for two that has a semi-transparent or beaded curtain around the top. He gives the waitress extra money stating that this is a very special evening. When Connie enters under the curtain, she says softly, 'Hello Darling'. He is his usual gentleman self. He tells her 'Remember what you said on the train...that you could hardly wait till I got there?' And how he just felt the same way. He says, 'Look, my hands are shaking.' She says, 'They were steady as usual during the act. The she takes his hands in hers from across the table and says, 'I love your hands.' Flamarion takes her hands in his and kisses them. He is looking soley at her hands and does not see the look of disgust on her face as he kisses her hands. Then she says to him, smiling, 'Champagne and think of everything!' He gives her a boxed gift he got on Grand Street, the first gift he has gotten a woman in 15 years. She is delighted. It is a lovely jeweled, sequenned robe, but she asks Flamarion to hold onto it for her as Al would know she could never afford something like that. Then they discuss their act and how Al worries Flamarion. That one slip in front of the mirror could be fatal.

Flamarion offers to tell Al about how they feel about eachother and / or perhaps send him away by giving him money. Connie said that no one has been able to talk Al out of anything and in order for her to stay around, that he'd have to keep Al around too. Then she says, 'Don't worry, I'll think of something'.

The scene cuts back to Flamarion on the floor telling the story to Tony the Clown. Flamarion says, 'She sounded so convincing...I believed her because I wanted to ...but what I did not know, was on the same bill, was a bicycle act. He was tall, good-looking...

The scene cuts to the bicycle act and you can see a portion of Connie standing in the wings backstage waiting, The camera cuts to backstage where Eddie meets Connie. They realize they will both be there for 2 weeks and plan to meet at a corner bar the next day. After Eddie exits the scene, another stage person, Cleo, approaches Connie and asks her if collecting men is still her hobby. Connie says, "Can you think of a better one?" Cleo says(while clutching a poodle in each arm), "I'll take my dogs every time; you don't have to wait up for them!"

The scene cuts to Flamarion and Connie in his room and she is wearing the sequenned robe...

To be continued...

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