Sweet and Lowdown (1999) - full transcript

A comedic biopic focused on the life of fictional jazz guitarist Emmett Ray. Ray was an irresponsible, free-spending, arrogant, obnoxious, alcohol-abusing, miserable human being, who was also arguably the best guitarist in the world. We follow Ray's life: bouts of getting drunk, his bizzare hobbies of shooting rats and watching passing trains, his dreams of fame and fortune, his strange obsession with the better-known guitarist Django Reinhardt, and of course, playing his beautiful music.

Why Emmet Ray?
Because he was interesting.

To me, Emmet Ray was
a fascinating character.

I was a huge fan of his
when I was younger.

I thought he was
an absolutely great guitar player...

and he was funny.

You know, or...

if funny's the wrong word,
then sort of pathetic in a way.

He was flamboyant
and he was, you know...

boorish and obnoxious.

Well, the problem is that there's
just so little known about him.

But we do know that
he was a great guitar player.

I'd say he was probably the second
greatest guitar player in the world.

Django Reinhardt was the best...

and believe me,
Emmet idolized Django.

He was in awe of him.

There's a story that says when he
saw him playing in France, he fainted.

He saw Django again at a restaurant
in Germany, and he fainted again.

It seems that every time...

Django would always make him faint
or he'd make him cry.

Well, his relationship with Hattie
is mostly what's known about him.

There are a few Emmet Ray
stories before that...

but I have no idea whether
they're true or not.

First time anybody seemed
to have heard of him was in Chicago.

It was at this roadside joint.

Good to see you tonight.

- Where the hell is he?
- I don't know.

You gotta get him, Dan.
He's layin' drunk somewhere.

- He's probably in a poolroom.
- Every night it's somethin' else.

He's late. He gets drunk.
He falls off the bandstand.

- I told you not to hire this guy.
- What time does Emmet Ray go on?

Look at the crowd.
Think they're here to see me?

Relax. I'll find him.

I'm gonna have to
hold the show again.

I'll kill this guy.
I don't care what kind of artist he is.

You take care of business.
I'll find him. Just relax.

Hey, good to see you again.

That's 50 more you owe me.

I'm not goin' out of town.
Another one?

I think you got some visitors.

I'll be back.

- What'd we get?
- Here's your end.

This is what you bring me, $30?
It's almost midnight. $30?

That's half, Emmet.
That's all we made.

I can't live on that.
I got car payments, I got new shirts.

I'm sorry. Business was slow.
It's a Jewish holiday.

And last night it was rainin', and
the night before you got food poisonin'.

- Because I drank that booze you made.
- Listen, Emmet.

I don't know how to tell you this,
but while I was in bed...

with one of the johns you sent me,
he got very excited, and he...

got a heart attack,
and he dropped dead.

- Which one?
- The salesman from Detroit.

- What did you do?
- I took my clothes and I left.

So there's nothin'
to trace back to us?

Then I was thinking that maybe
he had one of your business cards.

- Oh, my God.
- A pimp doesn't need business cards!

You're always tryin'
to be too fancy.

Emmet, let's go.
You're supposed to be on stage.

Every night you're either late,
drunk, or you don't show up.

What is it with you?

How are you doin'?
I'm on right now.

Thanks for comin'.
Put their tab on my bill.

I don't wanna embarrass you in front of
friends, but boss said no more advances.

Don't give me a song and dance.
Just put their tab on my bill.

Hi, guys.

It's gonna be a lot of cats there.
We always have fun at Don's.

- Donald.
- Well, Donald.

- Watch out over there.
- I got this, man.

You take care of that.
And don't forget to pass.

- They caught him a couple of times.
- Caught what?

Mind your business.
Watch the road.

What you got there, man?
Is that a.45?

.45 what?
Wait, wait.

Better put that shit away.

Hey, you wanna go to the dump,
shoot some rats? Huh?

- Shoot some what?
- Rats.

I do it all the time.
It's a lot of fun.

- A hepcat shootin' rats.
- I don't think you need no more of this.

There should be no other guns
in this car besides my gun.

Man, where'd you learn
to play that thing like that?

- I never heard guitar sound so good.
- Yeah, I'm the greatest in the world.

Well, you know,
in France there's Django.

Django? You know, he's comin'
to America in the summer to record.

- Yeah?
- Yeah. Ever meet him?

I could've once, in Europe.

You know, really,
our styles are just different.

Nate Drummond prefers me.
He says I'm miraculous.

You're welcome to come here anytime.
You know, we play here all the time.

- And I make great chili.
- Well, thank you.

Say, man, we're about to hit it.
Can we drop you somewhere?

- I like the air. I'll walk.
- You sure about that?

Yeah. Thank you.

Well, I heard stories
that he was a kleptomaniac.

I heard that once he stole
an alarm clock from Hoagy Carmichael...

and Hoagy overslept
and he missed a record date.

What do you think?

The only other story that I heard,
other than Hattie, was this moon idea.

He had this idea
about this crescent moon.

That he wanted to make an entrance
on this big crescent moon.

Well, the story is that
it came to him, apparently...

I guess, in a dream...

that he'd build this moon thing
with his own money.

Because he thought that
a star of his great stature...

ought to be able to make
a real big entrance with a moon.

Just try to visualize it.

Just try to visualize it.

You're lookin' up, and there it is.
Gold, beautiful moon.

I'm comin' down, and you guys
are playin'. What do you think?

It's a stupid idea. I told you.
Would you let me take this shot?

I didn't ask your opinion.
I'm just tellin' you how it's gonna go.

And then the jacket
would match the moon...

against a black
velvet background.

- What do you think?
- It sounds okay to me.

- Yeah.
- It's fancy.

I'm considered
the best guitar player...

maybe that ever lived.

Certainly in this country.
There's this...

There's a gypsy in France...

and he's the most
beautiful thing I ever heard.

Tonight's the night.

Emmet, just as long as you're happy.
That's the most important thing.

It's really beautiful.

It is really beautiful.
It's like jewelry.

Hey, I wanna just be alone with
the moon for a minute, all right?

You wanna be alone
with the moon? Okay.

Emmet, you know what you are?
You're a genius.

She's a knockout, ain't she?

Hope it's safe.

Of course it's safe.
Why wouldn't it be safe?

It's a hell of a drop.
A man can break his neck.


And it starts to build and build
in Emmet's mind.

And by show time...

he's numb with fear,
he's petrified.

And the audience is out there
waiting for him...

and he's backstage, meanwhile,
drinking and drinking.

When he's ready to go on,
he's stiff as a board.

- Snazzy!
- Did you buy that off the rack?

Look. The Big Dipper.

- Emmet, your gun is bulging.
- Do you think?

What the hell you
need it on stage for?

I don't feel right
without it.

I'll give it back to you
as soon as you're done.

Show time!

- You all right?
- Emmet, be careful.

You're on?

Need a hand?

Let's do it.

Sooner or later,
everybody's dreams go up in smoke.

What about my dreams?

I can't settle down, Ann.

- We don't have to marry.
- I can't.

I gotta be free.
I'm an artist.

I thought you liked me.

We have fun.

I took you to the dump.
I let you shoot my gun at some rats.

Shootin' rats at the dump
is not my idea of a good time.

Why not?
We brought sandwiches.

And sittin' at the railroads watchin'
trains, that's pretty strange too.

See? That's what I mean.

What I like to do, what you like to do,
ain't the same thing.

That's not it, Emmet.

It's that you keep
your feelings locked up...

and you can't feel nothin'
for anybody else.

You say that
like it's a bad thing.

Some terrible things happen
to people in love. I know. I've seen it.

I enjoy the company of women.
I love 'em.

It's just that
I don't need 'em.

I guess, you know, that's the way it is
when you're a true artist.

It doesn't mean
we can't fool around.

Oh, right.
Or shoot rats or watch trains.

I never met anybody that
keeps their feelings so locked up.

I let my feelin's
come out in my music.

Maybe if you let your feelings out in
real life, your music would be better.

Don't talk.

Emmet met Hattie in New Jersey.

The band was playing a resort hotel.

On a day off, Emmet...

and his drummer,
Bill Shields...

were doing their
version of charm.

They were trying to pick up girls
on the boardwalk.

This place is heaven on earth.
Cotton candy, eight o'clock.

Watch me work.

Mary! Right?

Why don't you drop dead, jerk?

I thought you were someone I knew.
Sometimes I hit with a... Mary!

Martina. Mary Ann.

Marge. Kate?

Excuse me, miss.
I'm a photography buff myself.

I was thinkin' maybe we could
get my friend to take a picture of us.

Wait a minute. Time out.

- Do you see this?
- Oh, yeah.

Did you see? She looked
right at me. She smiled.

- That was a smile.
- And she was lookin' right at me.

Which one you want?

The little one
with the silly hat.

She's more my size.
I'll flip you.

- I saw her first!
- All right!

You want the little one?
Take the little one.

I'll take the redhead.
What difference does it make?

They're gettin' away. There's
nothin' wrong with the little one.

The redhead's got
nice legs and a nice chest.

- I'll take the redhead.
- The little one is cute.

She has a nice face and those Cupid-bow
lips I like, but I'll take the redhead.

- You wanted the little one.
- I changed my mind.

I'll flip you.

- Call.
- Tails.

- I got the little one.
- We agree.

- Now they gotta agree.
- Come on.

I'm telling you, you're gonna
get on the Ferris wheel this time.

Remember when you tried to go on?
Last year we tried to get you up there.

- Excuse me.
- You were scared.

Hi. You ladies from around here?

Yeah, we work right near here.

I'm Billy Shields.
I'm a musician.

He's with my quintet.
I'm Emmet Ray.

The Emmet Ray Hot Quintet.
We're at the Lakeside Ballroom.

It's our day off, so we were thinking
maybe you could show us the sights.

- You wanna go watch some trains?
- What?

He's kidding.
Let's go for a drink.

Ask him. I liked you instantly.
I'm bein' honest.

We flipped, he won, I got you.

I'm Gracie MacRae.

Billy Shields.

And if I may say, you have the most
beautiful blue eyes I've ever seen.

This is my friend Hattie.

Hattie, I'm Emmet Ray.

I've got the quintet.
You like jazz music, baby?

How about we take
a boat ride, huh?

Well, sure.
We'd love to.

- We'll ride around the lake.
- Great.

What's your name?
Don't be shy, darlin'.

Hattie don't talk.
She's mute.

Wanna go take a boat ride?

Don't overthrow it.
Throw it down.

That was a good try.
Try it one more time.

That was all right.
Good try.

Thanks for stickin' me
with the dummy.

- Stop whining. You wanted her.
- Then I changed my mind.

She seems like a nice girl.

How could she seem like anything?
She doesn't talk.

This is my one day off.
I want a talkin' girl.

- I think she's a bit of a half-wit.
- What do you mean?

Gracie says
she's not all there in the head.

Well, that's great.

A man like me, got ideas.

Try to have
a good time today, huh?

You girls wanna
go for a walk on the pier?

You hungry?

Is that a yes or a no?

Yeah, me too.

What? Huh?

I can't read that. It's like a Chinaman.
What do you want?

Do you know how to write?
Did you go to school?

What is that?
Is that a yes or a no?

You're a hard-luck case.
You an orphan?

You don't know?

Oh, this is great.
This is great.

I get a goddamn mute
orphan half-wit.

I get all the winners. Were you
always like this, born like this?

Or did somebody drop you
on your head, or what?

Gracie's hungry.
Let's go get some clams or somethin'.

Can we switch for a while?

No. What's the matter with you?

I was amazing the second
I picked up the instrument.

It's just in me someplace,
like a gift of God.

They said I'd have been great,
whatever instrument I chose.

But on guitar,
nobody can touch me.

Except this gypsy in France.

But mostly, I'm untouchable.
They want me to record.

They do, but I don't know.

Once you record,
everybody can copy your stuff.

They steal your ideas.

Why do I wanna make something beautiful
just to have some jerk copy it?

You wanna come hear
the show sometime? My guest?

- Both of you.
- Yeah.

You'd appreciate it. You would.

You'll see.
I possess a great talent.

You might be mute,
but you're not deaf, right?

And you don't have to be bright.
Music's for everybody.

The smart or the dumb.

- How'd you lose your voice?
- She don't know.

It was somethin' when she
was a kid, like a high fever.

She doesn't remember.

- Is she...
- Yeah, but she's a good laundress.

I've shot guys.
That's right.

Well, I had to.
You know, it was them or me.

I could tell you stories.

What do you say we go
to the dump, shoot some rats?


Yeah, it'll be a ball.

Emmet, please.
Not now, huh?

Well, it's my car, and I say we're
stoppin' at the dump for ten minutes.

- Uh, squeeze.
- You call this fun?

Don't jerk. Just squeeze.
Line it up to your sights.

He's gonna get away.
Line it up in the sights.

- Come on! It's cold!
- In a minute.

- Just do what I'm tellin' you to do!
- Leave her alone already!

There's nothin' to it.

Did you see that?
I got him!

- You call this civil?
- What are you doin'?

- No more cheese for this little fella.
- No, don't pick it up.

These guys are diseased.
You gotta put it down.

Did you know that rats
attack poor kids in their cribs?

- I thought you'd enjoy this.
- Are you crazy?

So, what do you think?

- You wanna come up to my room...
- Do you think we could go out...

- hear me play my guitar?
- Alone sometime?

Good. Come on.

Come on in.

That's my guitar.

I'll play it for you soon.

Like a drink?

You know...

I know we don't
know each other...

and we just met, but...

I had a wonderful evening.

I don't need a genius
to have a good time.

You know, I'm a fast worker.

You're not puttin' up
much resistance.

Lot of girls do...

on a first date.

Hold on. Hold it.
Time out.

Just I'm gettin'
a little razzled with your pace.

You like me?

Just expected more of a fight.

This is... It's like
shootin' fish in a barrel.

Did you like that?

I knew you would.

They say I'm a wonderful lover.

You got a terrific body.
You really do.

Round. I like round.
And I don't mean fat.

You got some heft.

Makes a fella feel like
he's been someplace.

Now get dressed.

I'm tired.
I gotta go to sleep.

If I don't get my sleep,
I'm cranky.

I'd give you cab fare, but I
don't assume it's a long walk home.

First time I had sex,
seven years old.

The guitar. Right.

Well, that's why
we came up here.

All right, you get dressed.

I'm exhausted.
What's your favorite song?

Oh, look who I'm askin'.

I lived in Detroit...

and Canada...

and New York...

St. Louis.

My father was in the army.

I never got along with him.

He used to hit me with a belt.

He's dead now.

Got asphyxiated.

I'm pretty sure
my mother's dead too.

She used to get spells.

I don't know if her family
put her away somewhere...

or if she's dead.

She used to foam at the mouth.

She sang beautifully.

The most beautiful music
I ever heard.

Except for this...

gypsy guitar player in France.

Can you believe I can't
listen to him without cryin'?

Give us a shot, would you?

So I'm gonna be busy later.
Somethin' came up.

You just go get yourself
home by yourself.

Now wait.
What was that look for?

What did I do?

I got business.

We gotta spend
every minute together?


You go get yourself a cab...

and I'll see you tomorrow.

Where the hell am I?

Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania?

I take one puff in New Jersey,
I end up in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania?

I gotta get a cab.

I need a taxi!
Can I get a cab?

I'm sorry, Emmet.
I had no choice.

- We got a contract.
- Look, I run a first- class hotel here.

- This was an emergency.
- Yeah, an emergency.

What kind of emergency?

- My father died.
- Again?

How many times
can your father pass away?

I'm gonna come clean with you.
I got abducted and I was threatened.

You were gone for four days.
We had the police out.

I'm tired of shootin' crap every night
to see if my main attraction will show.

It's over.

Look, I gotta borrow
a few bucks for cab fare.

You're kidding.
How much?

Nine hundred dollars.

What's the matter?
Oh, I know this routine.

Look, I'm a free agent.
I do as I please.

I might as well tell you.
I quit the job.

I told him to take that job
and stick it.

So the band's leavin' for Hollywood
two weeks sooner than I thought.

I didn't tell you
about Hollywood.

We're makin' a movie.

Yeah. Just a little short one.

Just a couple of minutes of me and
the boys playin' that tune, "All Of Me."

You know? Good.

What are you lookin' at me
like that for? What?

Look, I got together with
a couple of guys, we had a few drinks.

One thing led to another...

and the next thing I knew,
I woke up out of town.

Look, I don't have to
account to you. All right?

We're not married.
I'm not the marryin' kind.

I can't settle.

Whole idea leaves me cold.

So I thought I'd...

I thought I'd...

buy you some lunch...

and say good-bye.

And I'll be comin' through here again,
I'm sure, sometime.

But you really are
a spoiled dope, you know?

I take you out to buy you things
or go to the movies, you're fine.

But the minute somethin'
doesn't go your way...

I gotta go, and there's
no way you can come with me.

I mean, you got responsibilities.
You got a job.

You have...

underwear and socks to wash.

And I can't have my life cluttered.
I'm an artist.

A truly great artist.

I need to be free...

so I'm saying good-bye, okay?

Look. How many fingers I got?

Ten, right?

Ten, nine, eight, seven, six.

There's eleven. You see?

All right, look.
If you come, it's not a free ride.

I'm not a charity organization,
all right?

I don't know what I'm doin' here.

Hey, if you come, you work.

What's the matter?

Nobody said it was
gonna be a picnic.

You know I can't
risk my hands.

Well, that might not be a bad idea.

And now, folks,
Chester Weems, a housepainter...

And now, folks,
Chester Weems, a housepainter...

will play the saw.

Fast falls the eventide

The darkness deepens

Lord with me abide

The scarlet tanager.

The barn owl.

And you are?

Homer P. Risley.

What is your profession, Homer?

I'm a birdseed salesman.

- Oh, a traveling salesman.
- That's right, you got it.

And I see that
your instrument is the guitar.

Yeah, that's right.
I've had a few lessons.

No need to be nervous, Homer.
This is a wonderful audience out here.

Birdseed salesman, Homer Risley.

Boy, those guys were ready
to break out the tar and feathers, huh?

Next time you're gonna hustle somebody,
don't play so great.

I can't remember the tunes
if I play badly.

I wonder if Django
ever hustled any suckers.

Look at her. She's frownin'.
She doesn't like it.

Well, they deserved it.
They were jerks.

She's too good-hearted.

A genuinely sweet person.
I like that, respect it.

Won't get you anywhere in life.

I had a dream last night.

I had a dream
we all went out to Hollywood...

and I became discovered
as a major star.

You? A major star?

You were dreamin'.

Why not? I got a good face.

We're in a short subject.
We're the backup band.

We're in the background, Emmet.
We're lucky to be in focus.

You can always get attention
if you know how to do it.

In this dream,
I was standin' there surrounded...

by gorgeous actresses.

See? That she don't like.


I'm with you now.

I'm not one of these guys who turns
his head every time some dame walks by.

I've had plenty
of beautiful women.

And I always
put 'em in their place.

Yeah. "Love 'em and leave 'em,"
that's my motto.

Love 'em and don't look back.
I never once regretted.

Not one time did I ever regret
dumping a beautiful dame.

You gotta keep your guard up.

If you don't, them pretty ones get
their worms in you, and then it's over.

You're done.
Particularly if you're an artist.

I've seen too many guys
cryin' in their beer.


I'm gonna be a star.

All of me

Why not take all of me

Can't you see

I'm no good without you

Take my lips

I wanna lose them

Take my arms

I'll never use them

Your good-bye

Left me with eyes that cry

How can I

Go on, dear
without you

You took the part

That once was my heart

So why not take all of me

The reason Emmet
hated Hollywood so much...

was because Hattie
was discovered, not him.

That was the truth of it.

She was out there watching him film.
Every day she would hang out on the set.

And one day, for, you know,
some crazy reason...

a director, who happened to be working
the same lot Emmet was on, noticed her.

And the director thought, "This girl
is a dead ringer for May Talmadge."

He was making a movie with
May Talmadge, who was a big star.

And he thought Hattie is exactly what
he wanted to play May Talmadge's sister.

And this is
a 30- second part or something.

When he found out that Hattie couldn't
speak, it didn't make any difference...

because the part
had no dialogue.

He just knew he had to have
Hattie to play that part.

Well, Emmet hated the whole idea.

I can't believe you said yes.

Did you nod that dopey face of yours?
Do they know you can't speak?

I don't get it.
You're gonna embarrass me.

Suddenly you're a movie actress.

Don't make me laugh.

Now, as the story goes...

Hattie was playing this love scene
with William Weston...

this handsome older man
who always kissed his leading ladies...

so they said,
with an open mouth.

And he was kissing her,
and they were doing take after take...

and he was kissing her over and over
with an open mouth.

After 30 takes of getting kissed
by this gorgeous leading man...

Hattie went into a small coma.

And that was the last time...

Emmet ever set foot in Hollywood.

Yeah, I remember Emmet and Hattie
back East at that time.

In fact, he had a good manager,
this cat named Sid Bishop.

Sid was really good to him,
and he got him a lot of gigs.

Emmet was doing really well,
and that really wasn't easy.

Back then, a lot of musicians
were hurting from the Depression...

and there wasn't
a lot of work to go around.

But Emmet even agreed
at that time...

to do a couple of sides
for the Victor label.

He did "Melancholy Baby,"
"Exactly Like You"...

and "I'll See You In My Dreams."

- What do you mean, I'm broke?
- You give it away.

You drink it up.
You pick up checks.

You lose it in poolrooms, and
you're always buyin' Hattie presents.

She's like a kid. She loves
tearin' the paper off the box.

You gotta go on a budget.

I'll go on a budget
if someone will straighten me out.

A budget's not easy
for a guy like you.

- When I set my mind to somethin'...
- You fight every good idea I have.

I'll go on a budget.
I'll be good.

What do you spend on clothes a year?
Do you have any idea?

Want me to look like a bum?

- What about rent?
- I don't know. It's all hotels.

- Any idea what you spend on food?
- The booze gratis?

Help yourself. Do you have any idea
what you spend on food or entertainment?

Do you have any investments,
anything that'll throw off revenue?

I got some savings,
mostly from Hattie takin' in laundry.

Emmet, we gotta look
for places to cut down.

I burned a hundred dollars once.
A guy dared me. He was a four-flusher.

He burned a fifty,
I burned a hundred.

He burned a twenty, I burned
another hundred. I could cut that out.

You wanna end up
in the poorhouse when you're old?

You ever see a poorhouse?

From now on, your salary
and expenses will come to me.

I'm puttin' you on an allowance.

Okay, that's it.
The party's over.

Okay, that's it.
The party's over.

You're spendin' too much,
so now we've gotta go on a budget.

Now, aside from food,
what are your expenses?

What about the doctor bills?
You got a doctor?

I bet you I get you
a veterinarian who's cheaper.

And this is goin' out.

What are we?
The electric company?

We gotta save every penny.

What is that?

You remembered my birthday?

We can't afford presents.

That's gotta go back.
It's gotta go back.

These are the kid gloves
I really wanted.

Exactly the gloves
I wanted, these are.

You know what I'm gonna do?
I'm gonna cut you a break.

It's my birthday and...

So I'm gonna let you
give 'em to me.

You made this yourself?

Your writin' looks like a chicken.

Let's see.
"It's been almost a year...

since we've been together."


Well, that's scary.

What's this word here?

Is that... Is that "love"?

Oh, no. Don't go gettin'
any big ideas here.


I must've ate somethin' bad.

I'm feelin'...
I'm gonna be sick.

- Got somethin' for me today, Mr. Ray?
- I don't.

- Mr. Ray, it's me, Charlie.
- I'm all tapped out.

- You never let me down.
- Look.

I'd like to help you,
but I'm on a budget.

I haven't had
a bowl of soup all day.

What, you wanna make me feel bad?

- That's all you get.
- All right, thanks.

Thanks, Mr. Ray.

What's the urgency?
I came here as quick as I could.

- Would you look at this thing?
- This is why I came quick to meet you?

- He only wants 4,000 for it.
- Yeah, so?

Does it fit the budget?

Are you kidding?
We just sold one of your cars.

I'm tryin' to unload
the other one, not buy one.

- If I cut down?
- Cut down?

- Where are you gonna get four grand?
- I'll borrow the money and pay it off.

No one will lend you that kind of money,
and you'll be saddled with payments.

- I want the car.
- No, Emmet.

Hattie will give up desserts.

- I want the car.
- It's out of the question.

- I gotta have the car.
- You don't have the money.

- I gotta have the car.
- There's no way!

- We can't afford it.
- Stop sayin' "we."

If I want the car,
I'm gonna get it.

- Maybe someday, if it's in your budget.
- Budget! Budget!

You're suffocating me with the budget.
I can't buy Hattie a birthday present.

You can't buy champagne
if you can only afford beer.

I'm the best guitar player
in the world!

If I want the car,
I should have it.

He said it, but he didn't believe it.

He said it, but he didn't believe it.

I mean, in his soul,
he worshipped Django Reinhardt.

It was more than that.
He was frozen by him.

Django was like a god to him.

I don't know if this is true,
or just another Emmet Ray story...

but Sid Bishop, who was trying
to help him financially at the time...

got him a job in this club,
and one night, just before show time...

one of the guys backstage
decides to play a joke on him...

and tells him this lie.

Hey, Emmet!

Emmet, you're not gonna believe it.
Guess who's sittin' at the front table?

Django Reinhardt.

Are you kiddin' me? We should
get him up on stage with you.


He's gonna show him up.

- I'm gonna...
- Come on.

Emmet, we can get him
up on stage with us.

- Django Reinhardt's here.
- Really?

Hey, Django's not in the audience.

The house is half-empty. There's
just some guy that looks like Django.

Let's see if he's got
the nerve to come down.

- Harry, let's go.
- Emmet, we're on!

We should do it anyway.

Emmet, come on down.
I'll wait for you.

I'll take you to the front table myself.
I'll introduce you to Django.

Now, as the story goes...

Emmet, as you know, was pathologically
phobic about Django Reinhardt...

so he tried to escape
through the roof.

He just figured,
to hell with the job that night.

But remember, this was a guy
who had fainted twice...

when he came face-to-face
with Django Reinhardt in Europe.

He's looking for a way out, and decides
to jump to the building next door.

Well, as fate would have it,
he hits a weak spot in the roof...

and crashes through
into somebody's apartment.

As it happened, the apartment was
being used by some counterfeiters...

who thought it was a raid when
he came through the roof, and ran out.

Well, Eddie Durham,
the great jazz pioneer...

met Emmet in Chicago in the 1930's.

Here's what he said
about him in his book.

"I met Emmet in Chicago.
It was the height of the Depression.

Work was scarce. A lot of guys
took on teaching music as a sideline.

Emmet refused.

At that time he was married
to a woman named Blanche."

- What are you doing?
- What?



Excuse me, darling.

You were stealing that box.

- No.
- Oh, yes, you were. I saw you.


I don't know.

You're a genius, you know?

Eubie Blake thinks I'm the best guitar
player in the whole world, bar none.

- And he knows Django.
- Truly?

I'm Blanche Williams.

- Are you gonna squeal on me?
- "Squeal" on you?

Gosh. Not only are you
vain and egotistical...

but you have genuine crudeness.

I didn't want the goddamn thing.

I won't squeal on you
if you take me for a drive...

in that sublime automobile
of yours.



To the ends of the earth.
Astonish me.

It's fun, isn't it?

Well, it's definitely different.

Make sure you don't pull it.
You squeeze it.

Squeeze the trigger.

- Do you do this often?
- Every chance I get.

Specifically, what's the thrill?

Well, I'm not sure, really.
There's one.

And you got him!

Do you get a bigger kick
doing this or stealing small objects?

You know what?
I could really use a drink.

I stop in here every time
I come through Chicago.

She makes great chili.

You like chili?

What do you think of
when you play?

What goes through your mind?

What are your real feelings?

I don't know.
That I'm underpaid.

I think about that sometimes.

Tell me about the girl
you lived with.

She was nice, but I told her
not to fall in love with me.

It was very one-sided.

She was nice, but I just
cut out one night.

She was asleep, I left 500 cash
by the bed, got my stuff...

and got outta there
at 4:00 in the morning.

I didn't want a scene.

She must have really loved you.

I didn't say it was
an easy decision, but...

I needed more than Hattie.

- Do you miss her?
- Not a bit.

I did the right thing for me.

Maybe I wouldn't have met you.

Come on, Emmet. Join us, man.
Cut loose with the fellas.

- You know you want to.
- Yeah?


Come. You'll enjoy this.
I'm great. I really am.

After-hours jam session.
Chicago South Side.

He's like a cat...

feline with the guitar, which is
his only, certainly deepest love.

No, his only. The sound...

the beat, the ideas.

Where do they come from?

Any woman would be second
to his music.

He wouldn't miss me any more
than the woman he abruptly left.

He could only feel pain
for his music.

Such is the ego of genius.

Must get used to it.

I used to have a stable of girls
in this town.

- No.
- Yeah.

I made some money, but...

whores are unpredictable.

- They're nuts.
- Really?

Yeah. But money's money.

I mean, you pimped
and you procured?

I can't stand it.
It's just too perfect.

- I don't like that word.
- Which?

"Pimp." No, I was a manager.

- What's too perfect?
- That whole seamy world.

The girls I came out with were whores
too, only we called them debutantes.

I lived in a whorehouse
when I was 18 for six months.

Didn't have a job and no money.

The madam put me up.
She was a friend of my mother's.

I'm sure you learned a lot there.

I don't know.
It's like being a cook.

- A cook?
- You're in the kitchen all day.

You don't want to look at the food.

I'd love to be a whore for a year.
Just a year.

If you ever want a manager...

Look. That's a beauty.

What is this fascination
with trains?

What do you mean?

Do you have the urge to go off,
to ride to unknown destinations?

For what point?

Are you trying to recapture some
intangible feeling from childhood...

when you dreamt of glamorous cities
just out of reach?

I'm not trying to capture anything
from childhood. It stank.

Then I can only think it must be
the power of the locomotive...

the sheer, potent sexual energy
that arouses your masculinity.

The wheels, the hot furnace,
the pistons pumping.

You sound like you wanna
go to bed with the train.

He's impulsive and hot-tempered...

yet he listens to the recordings
of Django Reinhardt for hours and cries.

He has never met this gypsy guitarist
and never wants to.

I think because he doesn't
want to learn Django's mortal.

He sleeps with the light on
in the room...

and last night he woke up screaming
the name of his old girlfriend Hattie.

Then he asked me to marry him.

Get a load of those legs?

Take your hat off.
She grew up with a butler.

It was very impulsive.

And as soon as they were married,
right from the start...

it was very shaky.

Why did he marry her so suddenly?
I don't know.

You know, they only had one thing
in common: Clothes.

They were like two peacocks.

But there was always an unreal
quality to the whole thing.

Talk about doomed relationships.

I feel like gettin' out.

Me too, Emmet, but we're broke.

He's gonna give me my job back!
He said so.

If you show up on time,
and then not always drunk.

Somethin' comes over me.
I get cold sweats.

You're not sorry we got married,
are you?

Of course not!
You're a beautiful woman.

- Do you love me?
- What's this all about?

I'm trying to analyze your feelings
so I can write about them.

I'm your husband.
I'm not some goddamn book idea!

Have you ever cried
over the loss of anyone?

- Your mother, your father?
- Not in me.

You let your insides get to you
and you're finished.

If you just let your feelings out,
you might even play better.


Someone else said that to me once.
Everybody knows everything.

I've been trying to analyze what
separates your playing from Django's...

and I say it's that
his feelings are richer.

He's not afraid to suffer
in front of anybody.

- He doesn't hold things in check...
- Stop talking about Django!

The guy haunts me. All right?
Enough about Django.


- I want to see Mr. Bedloe.
- Be back in a minute.

Do you mind if I wait?

Got an appointment?

- May I?
- Go ahead.


- Who are you?
- I work for him.

I've seen you around.

- You're his strong-arm man.
- He don't need no help.

I saw you beat somebody up
in the alley last week.

- You're the guitar player's wife.
- That's right.

- I noticed you too.
- You did?

Lots of times.

Why does Mr. Bedloe
need a bodyguard?

You come here to ask
for your husband's job back?

Is it true Mr. Bedloe
runs some rackets?

Joe thinks the world of
your husband's guitar playing.

He thinks he's a genius, but...

I mean, let's be honest.
Either he comes in here late...

or he comes in drunk
or he don't come in at all...

and that's no way
to run a nightclub.

I thinkJoe's cooled down.
He was pretty hot the other night.

I hope you don't
mind me asking, but...

you're wearing a gun,
aren't you?

Not me.

Did you ever kill anyone?

Don't tell me that you never
noticed me staring at you.

- No, I...
- You come in here a couple of nights.

I couldn't take my eyes off you.

- Really?
- I love that blue silk dress you wear.

Oh, yes. That... Gee.

It's warm in here.

Morning, Mr. Bedloe.

You're a smart girl.
You come from a good home.

What are you doin' with a drunken
guitar player for a husband?

Okay, he's a brilliant musician,
but who can live with him?

Not me.
I'll bet it's no picnic for you.

He wants me to tell you
he's learned his lesson.

Do you think
I was born yesterday?

- I know you think he's great.
- Great? His playin' makes me cry.

Does he bring in customers?

Mostly aficionados.
When he shows up.

We found him the other night
staring at freight trains at 9:00.

- He's gonna turn over a new leaf.
- Right.

He's through drinkin'.

Right. All right, look.

I'm a soft touch, but I don't
like to be made a fool.

Out of respect for you, who I like,
I'm gonna give him one more shot.

But if you want my advice,
no genius is worth too much heartache.

- How'd you do?
- He's such a nice man.

You wanna celebrate?

- Celebrate?
- Yeah, have a drink with me.

Come on.

Well, I guess.

There are a few things
I wouldn't mind finding out.

I'm a writer, and extreme characters
always fascinate me.

I ain't so extreme.

Everybody I ever rubbed out
deserved it.

"Rubbed out"?

That's so colorful and...

What goes through your mind
when you're rubbing someone out?

Through my mind?

What do you think about
when you pull the trigger?

Well, I don't know.

Yet you're able
to just shoot someone.

I don't want to shock you, but...

it always came natural to me.


Ever since I was 15
and I first picked up a gun...

I discovered that
I had a knack for it.


- What are you doing?
- You have very soft hair.

- Don't.
- Why?

I'm scared.

Because I kill for a living.

Because I find you attractive.

Blanche was a writer.
Some kind of a writer.

Not famous or anything,
but she was published.

In fact, she wrote a story called...

"Strutting and Fretting."

And it's vaguely about some of the
stormy times she and Emmet were having.

Why am I bored with my husband?

It's all so complicated.

In the end, I married
for the wrong reasons.

And why Emmet rushed into marriage
with me is a mystery.

Five in the corner.

- That's all she wrote.
- Lucky shot.

You couldn't make
that shot again if you tried.

Don't give me that.
Just hand it over.

I'm one of the two, three top
pool players in the country.

No shame in losin' to me.
Thank you very much.

- Come here. I want to talk to you.
- Yeah.

Look, we know each other, right?

I don't like to cause
any problems...

so I wanted to give you
a little tip.

On a horse? Couple of beers.

No, not on a horse.

I want to give you a tip.

Keep an eye on your wife.

- What do you mean?
- Just keep an eye on her.


Because she's been spendin'
a lot of time with Al Torrio.


Al Torrio. The hood
that hangs around Bedloe.

The bodyguard? And Blanche?
Are you nuts?

- Just tellin' you what's goin' around.
- What kind of mind you got?

Blanche'd never make a fool outta me
with some strong- arm stooge.

- Where'd you hear this?
- Here and there.

That's why I'm telling you. I didn't
think you'd want people laughin' at you.

Laughin' at me?
You know how rumors get started.

Come on. This is what happens when you
have a wife everybody's envious of.

It's jealousy,
but I'm not the jealous type.

- They're tryin' to knock me down.
- Hope you're right.

I've heard stories about this
from musicians...

I've read about it,
but I don't really know.

I know that...

apparently, Emmet tried
to follow Blanche one day.

I believe she told him she was
going to the dentist or something...

and he followed her.

You gotta go home right away?

I think Emmet's at the poolroom.

Come on.
Let's go for a drive.

You know, I didn't
care too much for that movie.

- No?
- I like Cagney.

Guns, bullets, shootin',
a little action.

How does it feel
when you actually kill?

What goes through your mind?

What do you gotta ask
the questions for all the time?

Because I wanna know.

Emmet has a violent side, but it
all turns to passion in his music.

With you there's just not
a shred of sublimation.

It's incredible.

Let me ask you one question.

Who makes love to you better,
me or him?

Emmet is an artist,
and because he's an artist...

he needs no one.

Even making love, he seems to exist
in a world all of his own.

With you I feel like I'm looking
right into the heart of darkness.

I become crazy when you touch me.

Okay, so now Emmet is fuming.

Okay, so now Emmet is fuming.

I mean, he found out
that Torrio and Blanche...

have gone to bed with each other,
that they're lovers.

And he's consumed with rage.

Now, just at that moment,
Torrio decides to pull off the road...

and go into a gas station
to buy some cigarettes.

And there's Emmet
in the back of the car...

and he's trying very hard to
figure out who he wants to shoot.

Does he want to shoot Blanche?

Should he shoot
both of them together?

He's working on this problem.

They go into the store,
and exactly at that moment...

a holdup is taking place.

Two guys come running out.
They don't know what to do.

All hell is breaking loose.
There's gunshots.

Instead of taking their car...

Torrio's got a big car.
They jump in that and pull off.

Calling all cars.

I'm Emmet Ray.

I'm the greatest guitar player
in the world.

Except maybe this gypsy.

Perhaps you heard my recording of
"You Were Meant For Me," RCA Victor.

You were meant for me

That's not what I heard.

That's not what I heard.

But like all Emmet Ray stories...

you never know what's made up,
exaggerated, true.

You never know what to believe.
What I heard was this.

I heard that when they
pulled into the gas station...

Blanche gets out
to get some cigarettes...

and that's
when he confronted them.

How could you? How could you
cheat on me with a bum like that?

Emmet, don't!

Make a fool out of me
in front of everybody!

So I slept with him.
But I was just researching a book!

I loved you!

Don't be crazy. Do something!

I'm sorry. My tire blew out.

Believe me, he never tried to kill
himself, because Emmet Ray was...

He had much too much ego
for anything like that.

A story that Eddie Condon
tells about...

And Eddie Condon definitely
was not a reliable source...

'cause he was
a big embellisher himself.

But the story Eddie Condon tells,
I believe...

is that Torrio was aware...

that the fact that he was a gangster
was a big turn- on for Blanche.

And so he decided...

And so he decided...

that he would
pull into this gas station...

and he would stick it up.

- Can I help you, sir?
- Get your hands in the air, Pops.

Give me everything
in the register!

Emmet was so panicked
by hearing gunshots...

he crept into the front seat
and took off.

He didn't get more than 50 feet
before he crashed into an oncoming car.

Now there's this terrible crash.
Miraculously, no one is hurt.

And who gets out of the car
but a group of musicians.

I can't remember who it was.

It was like Buck Clayton, Coleman
Hawkins, Teddy Wilson or something.

But there, suddenly,
standing in front of Emmet...

is Django Reinhardt.

I believe later that year...

Emmet turned up in New Jersey...

and made that recording he did
of one of his own compositions.

"Unfaithful Woman."

Very good, everybody.

- Particularly me.
- That was great. And me.

- Let's go get somethin' to eat.
- Emmet, we're going to New York.

We're goin' to New York.
The big money.

Can I get those cigarettes?

Em, I tell you, the music business
really picked up, just like you said.

We got some dancers lined up for
tonight, pretty ones. They are wild.

How are you?

You look healthy.

I'm in town makin' a record.

I wrote a beautiful tune.
It's a classic.

I'm sorry I cut out
on you like that.

It was time to move on.

I was fair. I told you
not to fall in love with me.

It's nothin' personal.

It's just, I'm an artist.

I like women,
but they gotta have their place.

You angry with me?

You have every right to be.

I don't hold it against you.

I even thought of you
a couple of times.

My wife said...

I said your name once
in my sleep.

Must have had a nightmare
or somethin'.


I had a wife. She's gone now,
and believe me, I don't miss her.

I don't mean to say
I miss you either...

but I didn't have
any bad feelings about you.

We got a real good contract at a club
in New York for a year. Good dough.

Maybe you'd like to come.

You know?

I'm not makin' any promises, but...

I think you might have fun.

You'd be in New York with...

one of the two best
guitar players in the world...

six best poker players.

Not countin' that.

We leave tomorrow, if you want.

If you don't, I understand.

You know? Then it'd be
"It was nice seeing you again.

Good luck."

I never could
get your handwritin'.


Got kids?

Boy or girl?



It's just as well.

I wouldn't want to give you the wrong
impression. You'd get attached to me.

And you know me.
I can't take entanglements.

I gotta go. We're gonna take
some chorus girls out tonight.

And I'm leavin' tomorrow.

Take it easy.

I'm the greatest solo instrumentalist
on the guitar you'll ever hear.

Oh, yeah?

The public's just getting to know my
name. Next year, I'll be in the money.

You're a real looker.
You are a real looker.

- You're not that bad yourself.
- I mean it!

Maybe that's why the men give me
a lot of tips when I dance.

You wanna go watch trains?


- Come on.
- Trains?

Wait. Where are we going?

- Jesus.
- Outta the way.

Grab my stuff. Jesus.

- Where are we going?
- My cigarettes!

Where do you think
you're taking me?

Where's my cigarettes?

Leave them alone.
Let's just go.

Come on.
Let's go watch trains.

You almost lost me there, you know.
Did you see that?

Jesus. What are we doing here?

I like to sit out...

and look at the trains pass.

Yeah. To each his own, I say.

I mean, I don't understand it.

I can make my guitar
sound like a train.

God! I mean, I'm a nice girl.

I don't understand
why you'd bring me here.

I can make my guitar
sound just like a train.

I got a warm room we can go to.

Come on. I'll take care of you.

Come on. It's nice.

Jesus, I don't understand why you would
bring a nice girl like me out here.

I'm takin' requests.

Do you know "Sweet Sue"?

All right, are you finished?
Can we go now?

I really have to pee, you know.
I gotta go to the bathroom.

- What's the matter with you?
- Go on.

- What?
- Get outta here.

What? What are you talk...

- You dragged me out here.
- Just leave me alone.

- What?
- Leave me alone!

I don't need anybody!

- I made a mistake!
- Yeah. I'll say.

I made mistake!

I have no idea
what happened to Emmet Ray.

He just sort of disappeared,
I guess.

He did make, though,
in those last couple of years...

he made really
his best recordings.

He never played more beautifully,
more movingly.

Something just seemed
to kind of open up in him.

It was amazing,
because he was, finally...

every bit as good
as Django Reinhardt.

And then he just, you know,
seemed to fade away.

I mean, I have no idea.

Some people said
he went to Europe.

And some people feel that he may
have stopped playing altogether.

But we do have, fortunately,
those last recordings he made.

And they're great.
They're absolutely beautiful.