Russkiy vopros (1948) - full transcript



Based on the play
by Konstantin Simonov

Written and Directed
by Mikhail Romm

Director of Photography:
Boris Volchek

Music by A. Khachaturyan

L. Indenbaum, B. Ivanov

Camera: A. Egina, A. Gaft

Edited by E. Ladyzhenskaya


Smith - Vs. Aksyonov
Jessie - E. Kuzmina

MacPherson - M. Astangov
Gould - M. Nazvanov

Murphy - B. Tenin
Meg - M. Barabanova

Preston - A. Tsinman
Hardy - B. Poslavsky

Parker - G. Yudin
Kessler - S. Antimonov

Williams - M. Troyanovsky
Radio Announcer - V. Dragunsky


America in the year 1946


- Jessie West is meeting someone.
- Where?

- And so what?
- In office again.

Back from the army
and it's all the same.

4th day as the boss's

- How old is the dirty old man?
- 62.

62 and so tactless?

If I had his money,
I'd be tactless too.

- Ask her who she's meeting.
- Hello, Jessie.

- Hello.
- Congratuastions.

The old man, and your
old responsibilities.

- Let's drink to it?
- Parker...

Ask Hardy what happens
when you talk that way.

I smacked him one, is what.

- So smack me.
- Ask her who she's meeting.

- Ask her yourself.
- I'm meeting Harry Smith.

- Orders?
- The boss recalled him from Japan.

Smith hasn't written anything
in the 3 years

- he's been away.
- Now he will.

- Ask her about what.
- A book about Russia.

- Glad to be back?
- Happy to see you.

- Very happy?
- More than very.

- Why'd the old man recall me?
- Another trip to Russia,

several articles and a big book.

That's odd.
I don't think I'm suited for it.

No one writes better than you.

Damned happy to see you.

- Out of uniform long?
- 6 months.

Uniform and medals suited you.

You were quite handsome in uniform.

We had a good time during air raids

and sleeping under the car.

And we thought the world
would be better after...

You haven't changed, Harry.

I've gotten older.

- So how's life been?
- As usual.

In love?

- The truth, Jessie.
- As usual.

- I won't ask who.
- Go ahead.


Then why are you smoking again?

I never will again.

- Shall we go straight to your place?
- No.

- Why?
- It's serious.

I didn't think it would be.

Now I feel like crying...

I don't think
I'd make a good husband.

But I'll try to be a good wife.

Are you proposing, Harry?

I am, with one condition:
you look for the apartment.

I don't want an apartment,

I'm sick of the city.

I want to you to come home

from the city

to our little house.

And kiss me on the lips.

A chair will be ready soon...
Papers, magazines...

Reading after breakfast
is bad for you.

- As you wish.
- Is that, you Harry?

- Harry Smith?
- Yes.

- I recognized your voice!
- Preston?

- You're looking good.
- Hi, Harry. Just arrived?

That's right.

You know why the boss called me?

A book on Russia. They'll pay well.

- Why me, exactly?
- Readers believe you.

Are you Harry Smith,
'The Truth about Russia'?

- Yes, that's me.
- I knew you right away.

- You read the book?
- Of course not.

- That's what I thought!
- But I did read the ad.

So, how're things?

It's been hard
to work at the paper, Harry.

- Why?
- We write stupid things.

180 degree turn?

Yeah, during war the boss
went too far to the left.

Friendship with Russia
was in fashion.

- He got too carried away.
- And now he backs off.

Even a car has to stop
before going in reverse.

Exactly. He'll go straight back.

Have you tried refusing?

Refusing? What for, Harry.

I'm just a worker
on the conveyer belt.

Yesterday I put on the left wheel,

today the right.

If I refuse,
he'll find someone else.

This way, sir.

Make me handsome

- in the dollar range.
- Willingly, sir.

He wants
what his Wall Street bosses want.

If he refuses,
they'll replace him too. Right?

- Right, but it's nasty.
- Nasty, but typical.

May I ask you a question?

Yes, I'm in your hands now.

Why do Russians
have common wives?

How people live in a country where

you can't have
your own bicycle or wife?

- That's your job.
- Ours.

Hi, Jessie!

Hi, just arrived?

Yes. Long time no see.

- Going to the office?
- Yes.

We left the Philippines
in December:

- a year and a half ago.
- That's right.

You look better out of uniform.

Maybe. You too.

- When do you get off work?
- The usual.

So, does 11.00 at the Bromley work?

No, I'll be busy.

- Can I ask who with?
- Sure.

With Harry Smith.

- He's back?
- I met him.

- An assignment?
- No.

- I hear you wife's not good looking.
- True.

And very rich.

When I married I felt bad
that she was rich and you weren't.

- It's true.
- I believe you.

- But she's really ugly?
- Really.

Oh, god, that's not
at all interesting!

Imagine: a girl's corpse
on the road,

her guts on the curb,

- and her brain on the window!
- Boring.

That's stuff for Sunday school,
not our paper.

So the pastor did a choir girl
or she did him?

- The boss is sending him to Russia.
- I know.

It was my idea.

He'll be there about 3 months,
if he goes.

- He'll go.
- True.

- He's taken the back seat recently.
- True.

He needs to revive his reputation

or he won't earn his 500 a month

and you won't have
such a happy marriage!

- He'll go.
- I'm not sure!

He's had his own
ideas about Russians.

I don't care what
he thinks of Russians

or writes about them.

I want my own home, children

and a little happiness.

I'm tired of being single.

- He'll go.
- Is the boss in?

He's having breakfast
with Russian journalists.

- When did you decide to marry him?
- Yesterday.

So I set you up?

I advised the boss to bring him in.

I guess you did.
You think it's funny?

It is.

Hey, stop. You sit here?

I'm replacing Miss Bridge.

- And it's strictly business.
- Yes.

Then the boss's gotten old.

- Cigarette?
- I quit.

- What?
- Harry doesn't like it.

- Then it's serious.
- Yes, it's serious.

Hello, Jack.
How'd they treat you without me?

- Can't complain.
- Can I go?

Go on, go.

She's leaving me, Jack!

- I've explained why.
- You may go.

I'm getting older, dammit.

Working in the information
bureau suits her better.

Smith will be here in 15 minutes.

- How were the Russian journalists?
- Not bad.

Call in Hardy,
then Preston in 5 minutes.

Hardy to the boss's office.


You're going to the final
Russian press-conference.

Ask them, are the rumors true
that they helped

fund the coal miners' strike.

They'll just shrug
their shoulders, boss.

And you'll write that
in response to a fair question

they shrugged their shoulders
in embarrassment.

Isn't that a little unrefined?

Hardy's known
for his scandalous writing,

so it's natural coming from him.

If something goes wrong,
let them say:

'The usual Hardy lies'.
You may go.

Mr. Preston to the boss's office.

- Hello, Bill.
- Hello, boss.

What's the word on Russia today?

United Press published a piece
on 'Russians in Vienna'.

- Add it?
- Absolutely. We're objective.

- Put it on page 16.
- Article on Russia's conquer plans.

Before page 6. What else?

An Italian blurb on Russian flyers
over Eritrea. Totally false.

Page 1, with a sensational headline.

- The Russians will issue a denial.
- We'll put it on page 20.

Millions will read the blurb,
only thousands the denial.

You have to stop a car
before putting it reverse.

- What?
- We've become too crude.

So we've become crude.

- You've really changed.
- I have

and advise you to do the same.

Good luck.


- You became tougher. I like that.
- Me too.

Smith will be here in a few minutes.

And I think he'll agree.

He hasn't written
anything this year.

- Harry!
- Hello, boss.

Hello, my dear fellow!

- Do sit down.
- Thank you.

You haven't changed a damn bit.

I have. I've had
bad insomnia lately,

and for the first time ever
I read our esteemed paper.

- Does it help?
- Very well.

Judging from your new approach,
no need to send me to Russia.

You're just the man to go.

Yes, but after my book...

Your praiseworthy book,
written in 42,

will help you write
new one useful to us.

- Who, us?
- People who think

- America doesn't need communism.
- I belong to that group.

Then go to Russia and
write the whole truth.

- But I did then.
- What did you write?

That Russian soldiers are brave,

they defended Stalingrad?

- You know dialectics?
- I could guess.

It says that everything
endlessly moves and changes.

I've never learned anything faster.

So tomorrow these brave
soldiers point their bayonets at us,

that's dialectics. And it's
very popular in Russia.

Today the Balkans, tomorrow Europe.


Have you read Lenin's 'Imperialism:
the last stage of capitalism'.

- I haven't and neither have you.
- I have.

Wait, Jack.

You leave in a week for 3 months.

Write the book in a month

after you get back.

I guarantee the book and
the articles will be published,

and you'll have 30 thousand dollars.

You have until midnight tomorrow.

You'll get 7 thousand
when and if you agree.

Think it over.

Read this.
This how we see Russia today.

- You write it?
- Yes.

I don't want to read it.

Too bad. It may not have style,

but it has ideas. And the headline
is very instructive.

'10 reasons why Russia wants war'.

It's not true.

I froze with the Russians
at the front.

I saw hanged Russian children.
It's not true.

- When did you leave Russia?
- December 1942.

- Now it's April 1946.
- Still it's not true.

All communists are fanatics,
especially the Russians.

They want to subject
the world to their ideas.

- Enough.
- I'm right.

For fod's sake
leave me alone.

I'm waiting for someone.

About that someone:

you should think twice

before marrying Jessie.

- Preston!
- Evening, Harry.

Come over here and join to us.

- I'm in a hurry.
- Stop!

- What's up?
- It's a game:

we stand in silence
till one of us leaves.

Have a seat, Bill.

- No time.
- Sit down.

Let's talk.

In my bureau they're publishing
such offensive junk.

I'm happy for your bureau.

Look at this piece of Hardy's.

- He's a real jerk.
- What a pig.

You can tell him in person.
There he is.

Hardy, come here!

Good-night, Harry.

You've really changed.

Not you. Sit down.

- Can't, I need to write something.
- You already have.

Have a drink, I'm paying.

2 whiskeys.

Why'd you write that junk
about the Russian journalists?

- It's all lies.
- Some people saw it.

You really saw them

hand the money to the union?

Be honest, no one's here.

Tell me it's a lie.

- I'll tell you alone.
- Yes.

- Lies.
- Let's go.

Drink up.

Why're you such a jerk, Hardy?

Go to hell, I'm tired of hearing it.


Smith, order another whiskey,

I feel like telling you
how I think

of myself, and of you, by the way.

- Another whiskey.
- I'm a jerk

because I earn 6 times less

than you or that fat-assed Preston.

- Try something else.
- I don't have the talent.

I'm a tabloid reporter,

twenty lines
of badly written scandal.

- Whiskey.
- Another whiskey.

Got a wife and 5 kids,

10 bucks per scandal
and 6 go to medicine and diapers.

I love kids,

you got any? Good,

let's drink to mine.

Listen, they pay 100 bucks

for good deeds,

50 for bad.

Another whiskey,

- I'll keep talking.
- Another whiskey.

And double one.
All right, I'm a jerk,

but you are too,
just for 30 thousand.


let's drink
to your book about Russia!

It's better
to write junk for 30 thousand

than 10 bucks

when you have no choice.

No hiding from this.

- Another whiskey.
- Whiskey!

No, I'm drunk.


- Good night.
- Good night, Hardy.


- Bob?
- Hi, Harry!

Ah, Hardy!

Let's step out for a chat.

Harry, it'll only
take a couple of minutes.

- I'm not going anywhere with you.
- Leave him alone.

All right, you're his lucky charm.

Cut the jokes, Murphy,

or I'll write
to your boss Mr. Hearst.

You're Mr. Hearst's servant,
aren't you.

- Get out while you can.
- But you're Mr Hearst's servant.

I am, what of it?

Just nice to hear you say it.

Let's go, Bob.

Bon voyage to Russia, Smith!

Two whiskeys.

- They're sending you to Russia?
- Wait, Bob,

I haven't seen you in years,
since New Guinea campaign.

- Drinking a lot?
- More than usual.

- Why?
- This imperfect world offends me.

And for Hearst you write
it's the Bolsheviks' fault.

The world only
gets worse, not better.

So why were you going
to beat up poor Hardy?

That's something else.
2 more whiskeys.

I met those Russian
guys at the Elbe,

and they're real journalists,
like you and me.

And he accuses them, the bastard.

During the war it seemed to me

the world would change after.

The bank of good intentions
has gone bust!

If I were 20
I'd say to hell with it,

I'm 46, with a whiskey habit

of 75 dollars a week.

- You didn't drink hard.
- That was before the war.

I've nothing more to write.

I squeak by on 200 dollars.

I won't write crap
about journalists,

but anything else
my damned boss wants.

But that's not the same thing.

Right, my right wing,

your right half-back,
and 1 football team.

- 2 whiskeys!
- No, 3.

Hi, Jessie! It's good you came.

You never change, Jessie.
Let's drink to that.

Let's drink.

- I'm off.
- Stay with us, Bob.

No, I know the silent trio game.

'Answer by 12 midnight'

Bob, should I go to Russia?

You're my only friend:
your yes is my yes.

- 30 thousand?
- Yes.

Agree, and we'll drink to your book.

To hell with your book,
we'll drink to the money.

Let's go!

Half of America doesn't believe

what we write.

Like having a false beard on:

you don't know what
the face really looks like.

Let's drink to the beard.

- 2 whiskeys!
- No, let's drink to the face.

To the face.

- Is he going to Russia?
- Go to hell.

30 thousand.

You don't happen
to have a 50, do you?

Asking for money in the evening?

I never have money in the evening.
Here's all I've got:

18 dollars.

Thanks. I had to buy
for Jessie yesterday.

- Getting married?
- Yes.

Too bad.
Now she won't like me.

- Why?
- Don't know.

All my friends'
wives don't like me.

- You waiting for her?
- Yes.

- I'm off.
- Wait, Bob!

Hello, Jessie!

Once again
you haven't changed, Jessie!

Every day you never change!

I'm off. Harry, give me
some money for a cab.


You didn't ask, I didn't advise.

Ask her, it's the right address.

Good night!

2 martinis.

I'm so happy.

Let it be like my childhood dreams:

rings, fuss, shopping,

- a new house.
- I understand.

No, you don't.

You can't understand everything.

Only an old sinner like me

would so insanely want a new life.

Own own house...

While you're in Russia
I'll doing everything myself,

and when you return,

our home will be the best
in the world for you,

oh my handsome

grey-haired wanderer.

- Time to go to MacPherson?
- Talk some more.

We'll be together,

and I hope

we'll have children.

- A son.
- Yes, a son.

My son.

So you're advising me to go?

- You know...
- I know it's hard for you.

But it's only 3 months,
and 1 month for the book.

Taking it is like
taking castor oil in childhood.

Hi, Jessie. Harry,
the boss is waiting for you.

- I'll call him now.
- What will you say?

I'll call him.

- Is he going to do it?
- I don't know.

I think he is.

- Well?
- Before I say yes,

I want to know
if my book'll be

like the first page
or the twelfth?

- I don't understand.
- Does my book

have to smell
like your paper's page one,

or can I make it smell better?

Harry, we don't
want to pressure you.

Find your own version,

but keep with
the spirit of the times.

All right. Let him sign the check.

Call him yourself,
I forgot his number.

You see, Meg?

It's wonderful! A real castle!

Let's see Harry's study first.

His desk will be here,

with yours right next to it.

A sofa here, books.
It's good, isn't it?

In study like this it's impossible
to write a bad book.

Right. He'll pace up and down,
smoke and dictate to you.

I'll make meals,
quietly come up to the door.

I'll envy you, Meg.

'I asked the man about
the possibility of war with us.

'He said: I only think about it

'when I read your newspapers.

'Looking him the eye,

'I tried to penetrate
his restrained,

'even untrusting look

'and wondered if the Russians
really want war.

'I answered...'


cross that out.

- I'll answer later.
- I crossed it out.

Write this.

When I was there, 4 men
asked me if I write the truth.

- To write down?
- No, talking to myself.

Write this:

'Russians hate fascism.

'They're a happy people,
but when they hear

the word fascism,
they lose their sense of humor.

'So when I ask myself

'if they want war...'


- Cross that out.
- I did.

We'll have to end the 5th chapter
with a description of nature.

Enough for today, Meg.

Something isn't working today.

My conscience, maybe?

Maybe this 5th chapter
could be honest...

- You think?
- Yes,

you just save the most
honesty for last, right?

I once believed you could be honest
and happy at the same time.

And now?

In my age people don't risk
everyday happiness

to have a wife, home and checkbook.

I have to choose
between honesty and happiness.

What did you choose, Harry?

I've chosen the narrowest path,
neither one nor the other.

Not to lie and not
to anger MacPherson?

They didn't demand I lie outright,

they let me write half-truths,

and that's what I do.

It seems to me
you'll always write the truth.

Maybe so,

but let it be on the last day
in the last chapter.

I'm afraid,
and I really want happiness,

if it's just 1 month.

I'll answer on the 30th.

- May I?
- Of course.

- Tired?
- And you?

Very. As Murphy says, making
apple pie is devilishly difficult.

I think, it's a total disaster.

- I'll go see.
- Is it interesting?

Yes, very interesting.

- Ask him to read me some.
- When I finish I'll read it all.

Every morning I clean your study,

sit in your chair and think...

and then I go wake you up.

- Are you happy, Jessie?
- Very.

I often go up to your door
and listen to you work.

To begin with,
I'm completely sober.

What's this?

Take it.

So, Harry,

I came here

to tell you something,

but I've forgotten what.

Why'd you get so drunk?

You promised to come sober.

I did, but got drunk all the same.

I had an important reason to,
but forgot.

Don't make me sit, I'll feel worse.

I'll stand, you sit.

You sit and I'll stand.

I want to tell you

an important secret:

you've always been my conscience,

you know?

We always keep our conscience
in another person.

Don't speak sensibly.

Or I'll start to feel sick.

You were my conscience.

Now we're both on the same
football team,

I should be happy.
But I'm not.

Harry? Why?

Why I'm not happy?

Since we're both

on the same team?

That's why

I got so drunk.

Of course, it's Bob.
And like always, drunk.

- Was I really drunk yesterday?
- Didn't notice.

I got drunk because something
cropped up.

- Look, here's the advance!
- So what is it?

A record-breaking flight

with a passenger on board: me.

- A serious airplane?
- No, a jet - fighter plane.

I'm paid to do
a live radio broadcast.

- How much?
- 15 hundred.

Don't do it, to hell with them!

15 hundred for 25 thousand feet,

plus 100 dollars for every 300 feet.

And the pilot's promised
to fly above 35 thousand feet.

- Forget it!
- I'm interested myself.

100 dollars for flying higher
and higher, and no need to lie.

Tell me honestly, were you

disappointed by the Russians
during your trip?


- They're still so good?
- Just as good.

That's a dirty
trick on their part.

It wouldn't be such a shame
if they'd got worse.

No, they didn't get worse.

- Should I fly?
- No, you shouldn't.

I think I should.

Jack, how are things with Smith?

Not bad.

Enjoys his house and wife,

- writes day and night.
- Writing what?

What did you tell him back then?

That he could write
his own version,

keeping the spirit
of the times in mind.

We'll have to go back on our word.

There can be no other version.

But I told you this 4 months ago.

Now things have changed

We need to turn Smith to the right,

like they twist the screws
until confession.

It'll be harder now.

Don't worry.
We'll go see him.

What's Smith's book
going to be called?

As always:
'Why the Russians want War.'

Too straightforward.

Do you think the Russians
really want war?

- Right now, no.
- And later?

Probably not.

I know this:

they want to destroy capitalism,

and I want to destroy communism.

But they're doing it at home,

while you have
to go to their country.

Excuse me, you're joining
the Communist Party?

No. And I'm not in a hurry to fight.

I am.

I'm for an immediate, preventive
war against communism.

The Germans made one mistake:
it's not them but us

who is the higher race.

50 or 100 atom bombs,

and there'd be no more Moscow,

Leningrad nor 50 million people.

I fear a war wouldn't be
very popular now.

It's our obligation
to make it popular,

and with a little effort you can
talk people into anything.

Don't be in such a hurry.

It was the idea of our friend
in Berlin. And he was right.

He was also in a hurry.

Has Smith spent the 7 thousand?

- I don't know.
- We should know.

How much was his house?

- About 20 thousand.
- An advance of 4 thousand.

- Did he buy a car?
- Yes.

On installments, probably.
And his mother?

- Why her?
- He's a good kid,

he probably sent her
300 dollars, 500.

- Does Jessie have money?
- I didn't ask.

Considering your generosity,

she probably doesn't.

Let's consider your generosity, too.

Let's not argue. She has no money,

Smith's as poor as a church-mouse.

- Hi, Harry.
- Hi.

I brought the boss over
to see your abode.

- Sorry for the interruption.
- Happy to see you. Whiskey?

We just stopped by for a minute.

Wonderful abode.

- Happy?
- Very.

- A good place to work?
- Not bad.

- Will it be ready by the deadline?
- Yes.

Do you still read
our paper at night?

- No.
- You should.

Once a guy has a house, car and wife

he can't live without them.

- You follow me?
- Not completely.

What are you writing
about the Russians?

My own version with the spirit
of the times in mind.

That won't do.
You need to answer exactly:

the Russians really want war.

A war with us is necessary for them.

There's no middle ground.

They really do want war.

I don't like your silence.

- Jessie at home?
- Yes.

Give her my best.

I hope she'll live here many years,

and if possible, with you.

This one-sided discussion
has gone on too long.

We still have 40 seconds.

All right, boss, I agree.

There's no golden mean
to the Russian question.

I'll answer exactly,
so there won't be any doubts.

- Just need to edit the 1st chapter.
- That's nothing.

- I think so too.
- Good luck,

- it's the best way.
- A smart man, nice to work with.

Tell him about the ad.

Jack wants to run
some preliminary ads.

If you don't mind the risk.

- Do you?
- No.

I'll think it over.

Might you like this title,
'Why the Russians Want War'?

- Not really.
- Too straightforward.

'Russians Want War?' with a big
question mark would do.

A big question mark?

- Good advertising trick.
- Not bad.

'Russians want War?'

and a little question mark,

one 3rd the size.

So, I'll get started on the ad.

- At long last.
- Thanks for stopping by.

- Good-bye, Harry.
- Good-bye.


- Why'd they come?
- To check on my work.

Meg, I've decided

we wont save honesty for last.

We'll say what we
think right up front.

Let's edit the first chapter.

- Aren't you scared?
- Very scared.

Why the hell did I buy
the house on installment?

The car you drive
is on installment, too.

Your wife's not on installment.

No, she isn't.

I just don't know.

You've got a good wife
who loves you.

Yes, but I don't know

how she feels
about the author of this book.

I couldn't fault her

if she leaves me after.

She wanted happiness so much.

And all I can offer her is poverty?

No one would leave someone like you,

not in youth and not now.

- I don't know.
- Tell her everything.

I'd never tell her so suddenly.

So, 2 more weeks?

And you keep quiet too, Meg.

Jack! it's me!

Go to Smith right away,

and bring him to me alive or dead.

Idiot! Dimwit! You idiot!

- Are you asleep, Harry?
- No.

I invited guests over.

- A lot.
- What for?

You've finished your book,
it's a celebration.

We're probably out of money.

We ran out a week ago.

You borrowed some?

I had one thousand
I saved in the army.

Shouldn't have wasted it.

Mission accomplished, Jessie.

- Here he is.
- Thanks, Meg.

At the barber's Mr. Murphy made
the barber wash his head again and again.

- I needed to come to.
- Twice, by the way.

Yes, twice.
I felt once wasn't enough.

The barber protested,
but I told him

it was my head,
and I could wash it 5 times...

You're happy today,

that's good. You'll cheer Harry up.

Here, have a look at the surprise
I lined up.

What's that?

MacPherson dedicated
an entire page to Harry.

It says here
the book will be brilliant,

that he's so talented,
objective and honest.

And how cheap it'll cost.

'Russians want War?'
and a little question mark.


- Had MacPherson already read it?
- No.

Without reading the book?

Honest, it happens
once every 100 years.


Let's go, Meg.

- Where's Harry?
- Jack?

Where's Harry? There he is.

Listen I don't
understand anything.

MacPherson told me to bring
you in immediately, dead or alive.

Why dead?
I'd prefer alive.

Judging by his voice
he was in a rage.

- Really?
- Why?

Does he need
a completely different book?

- It's possible.
- You think?

What happened in the world?

I tried to recall all the telegrams,
and nothing!

Why so quiet?

- This involves you!
- Don't worry.

Nothing happened
in world politics.

I wrote an honest book about Russia.

- What?
- I answered the question

'Russians want War?' negatively.

I wrote the truth, you see?

Am I the cause of your troubles?

My troubles are nothing.

You'd better think of your own.

- It's too late.
- No it's not.

I don't know what you wrote,

but you can turn
any book around in 10 days.

- I'll convince the boss.
- Him - yes, me - no.

- Don't be an idiot.
- Let's go the bar.

I'm talking to you as a friend.

No, you don't want
to ruin your reputation.

It's you who convinced the boss

to turn me into a hack
writer and I won't.

You both make yourselves
out to be enemies of Russia,

but that's only part of the truth.

- What's the whole truth?
- The whole truth is

that you're
the enemies of America.

You want 10 million Americans
to put on military uniforms

and muzzle those who don't.

- It won't happen.
- Yeah?

You know what?

Starting tomorrow you'll be poor.

It's possible.

And Jessie'll leave you someday.

- Don't bring up Jessie.
- I will.

- Don't.
- I'm talking to you as a friend.

You're not my friend or hers.

I know what happened
to you two in Australia.

- She told you?
- Of course not.

When a woman has that kind

of dark secret in her past,

she doesn't like bringing it up.

Get away from me.

It won't be a fist fight:

I'll kill you.

Sit down.

That's it.

To tell the truth,

I don't like you for the fact

that people like you

live in this country,

that I'm 10 times more
talented and 100 times poorer,

that my wife was once your lover,

but not because she loved you,

it's just that you're buy-a-house
cheap-its-owner-has-died type,

because you prey on lonely women.

I don't like you because you think

a man's only real existence
is being a jerk.

Let's not talk about friendship,

Jack Gould.

We're two different people

in two different Americas.

I'm going to drink alone.

I don't even feel like

offering you one with my last money.

Just look at this. Read some.

It was your idea, it was you

who advised me to use Smith,
damn you!

I told you he was a liberal
at the very beginning!

- What did you tell me?
- To impose strict conditions!

I had to read that book first!

Where's Smith?
In a bar?

He said he'd drink up
his whiskey and come.

All right. Let him drink up.

To place an ad
without reading the book!

- First in my life.
- Yes, you're getting old,

- you're turning into a grumbler.
- You idiot!

- Yes, you've gotten old.
- I'm an idiot

for listening to this idiot!

Hello, boss.

Hello, Harry.

- Have a seat.
- Thank you.

I looked over your book
with great interest.

I love the unexpected.

I wrote about the Russia I saw
and what I think of it.

I'm not interested

in what my writers think,

I can't publish what you wrote,
isn't that so?

So it is.

You've probably
come to terms with the fact

you'll lose your house, car and job.

That's just the beginning.

I'll see to it you lose everything.

I'll find 10 Americans

who'll swear
for good American dollars

you're Moscow's agent,
and saw you taking Russian money.

Everyone will be on you.
All 38 of my papers,

a senate committee.

You'll have to vindicate yourself.
You know what it means?

You'll go completely broke

and your wife'll leave you.

She's smarter.
She'll leave earlier.

- You understand me?
- Yes, I do.

But you can avoid all this

by rewriting the book in 10 days.

- I won't rewrite it.
- I understand.

I've found someone to do it for you.

It'll cost 2-3 thousand.

- What's this?
- Your authorization

to allow any changes to the book.

I won't sign it.

- Think about it.
- I already have.

- Think it over.
- No.

All right.

It's going to be bad for you,
really bad.

When you have nothing to eat,

you can come write

for the paper again.

I'll take you on.

And you won't be an editor

or correspondent,

not even a reporter.

I'll put you on the police desk,

10 hours a day
for 35 dollars a week.

8 lines about robberies,
6 about fire.

I started that way once.

Good-bye, Harry, enjoy the ride.

Don't forget,

I'll help you one dark day.

You'll get the police desk...

I say!


Dennis Mitchell arrived yesterday.

He's been to Russia twice.

Sit him down and make him
write the book we want.

Mitchell is a guy like Smith.

- That's why I need him.
- He could be stubborn.

Nonsense! Buy him off.
I need this book

before the congressional election.

We'll crush the left with it.

They're stronger
than they seem.

In France they had no communists
in the parliement. And what now?

We need to beat them now,
before it's too late! Beat them!

Jessie sent me.
She knows everything, so do I.

- Bad?
- Very.

- Won't pay another cent?
- Worse.

But you understood
when you started writing?

- Yes, I did.
- You did, dammit!

It was stronger than me.

I felt ashamed in Russia.

Ashamed of myself,

you, all of us

because we force America

to eat this poison with breakfast.

I remembered I was human
and wrote the damned book.

Well, it's a done deal. Let's go.

- Bad, huh?
- Yes.


who's the contract with?

MacPherson was to print articles,
Kessler - the book.

- Who'd you sign the contract with?
- Kesler.

- Only him.
- Only him.

MacPherson's an ass.
Let's go.

- Don't play the fool.
- Someone else's the fool.

The ad's published,

everyone's talking about
the book - it's a scandal.

- So what's good about that?
- It's wonderful!

I don't get it.

Legally, the book
belongs to Kessler.

- To Kessler!
- That's it!

He's an ordinary businessman.

He's only interested in money.

He'll publish it himself.

He'll put out a new ad,

with a whole story on the cover.

It'll sell out instantly!

It'll make 100 grand!
Let's go.

- Hang on, Bob!
- Let's go.

- Money is money.
- Elevator, Mr. Murphy.

Money's money.

Kessler'll do everything he can

if he smells dollars.

MacPherson can't do
a damned thing.

Harry, let's go have a drink.

- Is it really true?
- I'll quit drinking if it's not true.

Why such extremes?

I'm not worried,
I'm not risking anything.

Maybe not at a bar.

Jessie's waiting,
we'll drink at home.

Maybe not.

- Let's go see Kessler right away.
- Good, let's see him.

No, go home and keep
Jessie calm, I'll find Kessler.

Come as soon as you reach
an agreement with him.

We'll be waiting for you.

- This'll be good.
- Really good.

- Preston!
- Hi, Harry.

- Want a whiskey?
- I can't, in a hurry.

Sit down.
Two whiskies.

Tell me, what's going on?

I don't know what to tell you.

Tell me the truth.

From what I know of the boss,
really bad.

We'll certainly see.

There's always Kessler.
He'll be here in 30 min.

So you're waiting for Kessler,

and right now he's
in MacPherson's office

being told not even to think

about publishing the book.

- And what if I do publish it?
- It'll be bad for you, really bad.

Because of the scandal you think
you'll make Smith 100 grand?

And judging by your catalogue,

you want to publish
37 other books this year?

That's right.

So maybe the book
will earn Smith 100 grand.

But I'm warning you:
all my 38 papers

will bury your 37 books.

I'll ruin you, Kesler.
You understand me?

You want to scare me,
Mr. PacPherson,

but 100 grand is 100 grand.

I don't know
if I should be scared.

Believe me, you should.

So you think Kessler
won't show? We'll see!

Listen, Harry,

I edit news for the yellow press.

I see all the world's
dirty laundry every day.

Harry, America's doing
politics on a grand scale.

We need Europe, the Balkans,

far east, near east, all the seas,

all the streets of all the world.

We need a war,

and for a war we need
a bad Russia.

What you read this year in 1946
is baby-talk

compared to what you'll read
a year or two from now.

It'll be like Gobbels' ghost
was editing the paper.

Today they throw you out,

in a year they'll be putting
people like you in prison.

Go to MacPherson, apologize,

re-do the book,
take the money and go home.

Keep quiet as a mouse and be happy.
And let me go, I'm late.

- Roosevelt died at the wrong time.
- Oh, really?

I don't agree.
His death was well-timed.

I don't understand.

I've always been amazed that
progressive, powerful politicians

always die
just when the opposition

- needs them to.
- Are you crazy?

- I don't think so.
- What are you saying?

I'm not saying anything.
I'm only amazed.

- You idiot.
- That's right. Hello, Murphy.

Harry, Russia won't be
any happier

- because you're out of work.
- You idiot.

Why torment your wife so?

I couldn't return home
without seeing Kessler.

- You haven't seen him?
- No.

He arranged a meeting
here at 11.

- What is Jessie doing?
- Nothing.

A lot of guests came,
they had a good time.

If she's with me,
nothing frightens me.

- When do you fly?
- Monday, a bad day.

Kessler's late for some reason.
I'm afraid he isn't coming.

- He'll come.
- Have a drink with me.

- I don't feel like it now.
- Well, I can't drink alone.

- Go on, drink with him.
- Ok.

2 whiskies.

- Well done. Let me shake your hand.
- Thanks, Parker.

To your health. I hear
you wrote a great book.

- And you, Bob?
- I'd better watch.

- There he is.
- I told you.

- Hello, Mr. Kessler.
- Hello. We're waiting for you.

I'm sorry I'm late.

- Let me introduce you.
- We know each other.

5 years ago I published
your book,

- your last book, it seems.
- Yes.

- Have a seat.
- Thank you.

I like your book very much,

but I can't publish it.

What'll we do now?

- Drink? No I won't.
- Here, take 300,

Don't be stubborn. Take it
for Jessie's sake.

Let her get used to it slowly.

No need to get her out
of the habit of being poor.

- 300?
- 300.

We've been living on her
money for 2 weeks already.

Here's 20 bucks.

After I fly on Monday,
buy Meg a bouquet for me.

- What?
- I'll put it in this pocket.

- Buy it yourself.
- I'm flying on a training mission.

- You buy it, ok?
- All right.

Go home, and take care.

Good luck!

I've got a long route ahead...

Here we are, Jessie.

Don't say anything.

Come here, sit down, be quiet.

We'll sit in silence.

It's you, Harry.

I'm sorry, I fell asleep.

How'd it go with Kessler?

Don't ask any questions, Meg.

- Didn't work out.
- Are you smoking, Jessie?

Yes, I am.

I couldn't do otherwise,

it's my own fault.

It's hard for me to lie.

It's nothing, be quiet.

I love you and I'll get used to it.

I'll try to become better!

I really have tried
these past 10 days!

And it's good you wrote that book.

You wrote an incredible book.

- Please don't, Meg.
- Why not?

I hope we'll read it together,

- now it's no secret.
- You're angry with me.

Very. But all the same
it's nice to know

it's well written.

- Right, Meg?
- Very well.

- Jessie.
- Yes?

Our idyll is over, and life begins.

I'm sure I'll sometimes

have bad feelings,

but at the end of the day,
I'll get over it.

- Harry?
- What?

Williams is coming back
from Europe next week.

- Williams.
- You started out with him.

Make 10 articles out of the book

and he'll print them.

In a paper for the left,
and it won't be much.

- It's better than nothing.
- If he'll risk it.

- Williams?
- Yes, Williams.

- Harry.
- Maybe he will.

Of course he will.

- Jessie.
- Yes, dear.

- He'll risk it.
- That's great.

- Are you listening?
- Yes.

- Yes what?
- Yes, I'm listening.

What's wrong with you, Jessie?!

Oh, it's you, Jessie.

I knew you'd come sooner or later.

Have a seat. What's up?

It's not worth having this talk,
judging by your look.

Of course it is.

- I'm all ears.
- Good.

It's never been more
difficult than it is now.

But I came to you
instead of MacPherson.

Tell me truthfully:

can you help out?


Harry and me.

We'll start with Harry.

I'm glad you came to me.

The old man is still really angry,

so it doesn't look good.

He'll only work the police desk.

- And you?
- Just the same.

I depend on MacPherson.

- Is that all?
- In terms of Harry, yes.

But as for you


I could help.


I bought your house.

I really liked it.

And you're used to it there,

you could stay there

as mistress of the house

without the master, of course.

That was a weak answer,
not clever enough.

Sorry. It's all I could think of.

I forgot to tell you

I didn't like the furniture,

so get plenty of sleep with Harry

before it's too late.

Listen, if you hit me again,
I'll hit back.

There's no one here to see it.

I'll do it!

Where'd you go?

I was walking around the garden

- and the garage.
- What for?

It's so sad in there
without the car.

They'll be soon broadcasting
Bob from on board the jet.

- Oh.
- I tuned the radio. You hear?

Yes, dear.

Williams is on his way.

Meg called.

That's good.

This is radio station Mercury...

An hour ago the flight
of the Hutchison 52 began.

Their representative is here

and will follow the flight with you.

Our reporter Bob Murphy
is on board,

he'll speak to us every 15 minutes.

- Hello, Bob!
- Hello.

- What's your current altitude?
- I can't make out a damned thing!

Looks like 20 thousand feet.

Keep going.
You're close to the record.

And we won't stop there, believe me.

- You wearing oxygen masks now?
- Yes.

Yes. I need a drink

but it's impossible
in this damned get-up!

- What do you see below you?
- Only clouds, happily enough.

- Why happily?
- I've seen the earth every day

for 40 years and I'm sick of it.

Good-bye, Bob.
We'll talk again in 15 minutes.

Damned cold here!

- Any comments?
- They're climbing wonderfully.

Not bad at all.

Hello, Meg! Hello, Fred!

- Hello, Harry.
- Have a seat.

- Installment plan?
- Yes.

- And the house?
- And the house.

Bob just spoke on the radio.

- What did he say?
- Like always,

that it's damned cold
and he could use a damned drink.

- Where you going?
- I'll llok in on Jessie.

Well done, Harry.

You're the same as ever.

- Thanks, Fred,
- It's good we have

- such people like you.
- I'm happy to see you too.

Hello, Meg. Pour yourself a drink.

- Hello, Jessie.
- Let's drink together.

It's fun to drink in an empty room.

I brought Williams. I'm sure
they'll come to terms.

- How much?
- What do you mean?

- How much a week will he get?
- Jessie.

Don't look at me that way.

I don't want
to feel like used goods.

Let's drink and be silent.

Murphy's right,

you're too proper.

How much will Williams pay Harry

per week?

I don't know, 30-40 dollars.

Oh! What luxury!

I can eat dinner every day
and see a film once a week!

Don't try to make
yourself look worse.

God! Why are you so proper?

It's disgusting!

So do you love Bob?

Honestly, do you?

- I don't know.
- So what that he works for Hearst.

- Jessie, stop.
- Why?

Why am I the only one suffering?

Why is Harry always the best?

What do you want from me?

Why can Bob write
for Hearst but not Harry?

Everyone but Harry can!

Let's drink in silence,

or else I'll start crying.

For shame,

it's like you understand nothing
about life or about Harry.

Ten parts of my book
I'll rewrite as articles.

- And...
- You can print them in your paper.

- They'll be popular.
- And...

That's it.

Have you read my paper recently?

- Rarely.
- Too bad.

Have you heard about
the persecution I'm under?

A little, some nonsense
about money from Moscow.

That nonsense
nearly cost me the paper.

I turned out to be a communist,

a bad American
and a paid agent from Moscow

who publishes with Russian money.

Because of an article
on democracy in Bulgaria.

- And...
- I was on the edge of disaster.

I have to be extra cautious

about anything on the Balkans

or Russia.

Even that makes them furious.

Remember our youth, Fred.

Remember and take the risk.

Excuse me, Sir.

I won't take the risk.

- Once, yes, but not now.
- Who got to you,

- MacPherson or Gould?
- It doesn't matter,

- I could lose the paper.
- You already have.

- Not true, I kept it.
- Meg!

- Meg!
- Harry,

I can give you work
under another name

and not on Russia. You'll get by
as long as no one knows.

I called you because
Fred's in a hurry,

and I can't drive you home.

- You reached an agreement?
- We did.

Fred can tell you
about it in the car,

and make sure you listen
to the radio.

I'll remember.

I was supposed to give you
something from Bob,

- but forgot what.
- What?

Sorry, forgot.
I'll remember later.

- Nothing worked out, of course.
- No.

I knew it.


We're connecting with Bob Murphy.

- What's your altitude now?
- 28,500.

You've broken the record!

And we won't stop there.

The pilot and I are going
to ruin the Hutchinson company.

- How?
- We're flying to 35 thousand feet.

You're obviously
in a good mood, Bob!

But for your voice, I'd think
it's only us and God here!

We'll talk again in 15 minutes.

- Go ahead!
- What the hell do you need?

The plane can't go
to 35 thousand feet!

They've gone crazy!

Why the hell
paying them 30 cents a foot?

How could I know
they'll climb this high?

Next time don't pay 30 cents a foot,

and in general
don't make such a racket

- around the microphone!
- This could be a disaster.

What're you saying?

Has fortune finally
smiled on poor Meg?

- With Bob?
- Yes,

- the old bandit, he's really smitten.
- God grant them happiness.

- What's that?
- A taxi.

Taxi? I didn't call for a taxi.

- I did.
- You're leaving.

- Yes.
- For good?


- Hello, Ma'am.
- I'll be right out.

Please take my suitcase
in the entryway.



- It's good that it's today.
- Why?

Everything at once.
I knew it.

I can't lie to you.

I thought I'd find
the strength to stay with you.

- But didn't?
- No.

- Oh, well.
- I can't be a good wife, Harry.

I can't be good at all!

If you want a good wife,
marry Meg.

But you can't love her.

- Possibly.
- My God!

Don't talk to me
like I don't love you!

I love you!

But you're better than me

If you'd only let yourself down,
we'd be happy.

Just once for me.

- Why so quiet?
- What can I say?

My God.

You can say

I don't have the courage

to be poor with you,
to be unhappy.

That I'll be your only happiness.

It'll get even worse
for us both in poverty.

I can't go on like this.

I know myself.

I have to go.

Shall we have a drink?

No, I'm a little drunk.

- Jessie!
- Please.

I love your hands.

Good-bye, Harry.


You said something?

Good-bye, Harry Smith.

- The table.
- What?

The table.

We're back with Bob Murphy!

Bob, can you hear us?

Not quite. The damned jet
is shaking!

- What's your altitude?
- 36,200.

Well done! Coming back to earth?

No, we're climbing.

Excellent, we're waiting for you!

Bob Murphy, come back to earth!

The pilot's showing me something.


If you can hear me...

the money from this flight

is yours!

Bob Murphy!
Tell us what you feel!

Go to hell!

I'm bailing out!

So you see,

I wrote an honest book
about Russia.

I'm reciting

the contents aloud for the 47th time

because no one

will publish it

in the land of free speech.

I lost my job,

and got thrown out on the street.

Now I travel our country,

the land of free speech,

reciting its contents aloud.

Tomorrow I'm being questioned

by the Anti-American
Activities Committee.

But they won't silence me!

I used to think
there was one America,

but there are two.

There's no place for me in
MacPherson's and Hearst's America

but there is in Lincoln's
and Roosevelt's!

America's not Wall Street

and millionaires,

it's not press barons

and corrupt journalists.

America is the people - us!

They say our enemies are overseas,
in the Soviet Union,

but they're here,

a walking distance
from here -

on Wall Street and in DC!

Or, 400 km away from here -
in the Department of Defense!

Our enemies are those

who say Russia threatens us.

Lies! No one threatens us.

Our enemies are those
forcing us into war!

They say we're a strong nation,

and we are:

strong enough

to strangle the war-mongers!