Mae West (1982) - full transcript

Biography of the curvaceous and sharp-witted actress who scandalized Broadway and Hollywood in the 1920s-30s with her frank approach to sex.

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(swinging jazz music)

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Winter storm drenches Atlantic City.

(audience applauding)

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(drum rolling)
(audience cheering)

("You've Gotta See Mama Every Night")

♪ You've gotta see mama every night ♪

♪ Or you can't see mama at all ♪

(audience cheering)

♪ Kiss mama ♪

♪ Treat her right ♪

♪ Or she won't be home when ya call ♪

♪ If you want my company ♪

♪ You can 50/50 me ♪

♪ You gotta see mama every night ♪

♪ Or you can't see mama at all ♪

♪ You've gotta see mama every night ♪

♪ Or you can't see mama at all ♪

♪ You've gotta kiss mama ♪

♪ Treat her right ♪

♪ Or she won't be home when you call ♪

♪ I don't want that kind of man ♪

♪ Who wants only installment plans ♪

♪ You've gotta see mama every night ♪

♪ Or you can't see ♪

♪ Mama ♪

♪ At all ♪

- Well, see enough?
- Oh yes sir, Mr. Mickey.

I guess I seen plenty.

(whistles tooting)
(audience shouting)

- Oh come on, boys.

We're just a lotta people

havin' a little fun here, that's all.

- Take it easy, sit down!

Sit down!

Take it easy.

All we want is the cast and crew.

- West, I'm afraid you're
gonna have to come with me.

- What have ya got to
be afraid of, officer?

(audience laughing)
(gavel banging)

- Court is recessed for one hour.

(muffled crosstalk)

- (chuckles) Hold it a second.

Hold on a second, of course.

Everybody in time, everybody in time.

Okay, there.
- Please, Miss West.

Alright, here you go.
- Oh, thank you!

- (chuckles) Thank you.

Anytime, honey.

God bless, bye.

- Mae, you got a lotta fans.

- Yeah, I think the enemies outnumber 'em.

Say how do I look anyway, a little mussed?

- A bit.

Go in and freshen up.
- Okay.

- Mae, this judge ain't no bush leaguer.

Stop foolin' around with him.

- D'you notice the turnout?

Great house, I love matinee.

- Mae, this ain't a
dress rehearsal dammit.

This guy'll send ya up.

You gotta behave yourself.

Ya gotta be good.

- When I'm good, I'm very good.

When I'm bad,

I'm better.

(soft soothing music)

- Stop your fussin'.

Save it for the kids!

- Today of all days,
you have an actor Jack.

- (scoffs) You mean her debut thing?

I'm not all that warm to it anyway.

- You're not gonna stay
home, I won't permit it.

You're gonna break her heart.
- Oh, I'll be there.

Stick, plaster, bandages and all!

I'll never hear the end of it.

That doesn't mean I favor the
thing and that's understood.

- Sit, sit down.
- What?

- Sit down, I'll clean you up.

- Father, what happened?

- Your father had another
fight at the delivery stable

with exquisite Irish timing.

- Think nothin', it was retribution.

I rent a man a good
horse, he brings it back

all form and wealth marks.

Well I put him in the hospital.

I used my fist on him
first, then the blackjack.

- You used the blackjack?
- To make a point, dear.

It leaves a lasting impression.

I need no motherin'.

(hand slapping)

- Ow.
- I need no motherin'.

(lively ragtime music)

(Mae coughing)

- Jack, please.

Your cigar, please.

- What?

- You know what it does to her.

(Jack groaning)

Oh, Jack.


Jack, come on.

- Truth to tell, I hope she messes up

and put an end to all this
crazy talk about show business

and careers in the like.

- That girl has a gift
and she's really gifted.

- The girl is a girl.

You all the time encouraging
her, I'll never understand it.

Mattie, you are the
source of this trouble!

- Is that so?

That's fascinating, come on inside.

- No.

- Oh Jack.

(audience applauding)

("It's Moving Day" by
Loudon Wainwright III)

Go on, honey.

Here's play your cue.

- Where's my spotlight?

I'm supposed to have a spotlight!

(audience laughing)

Thank you.


("It's Moving Day" by
Loudon Wainwright III)

♪ Landlord said this morning to me ♪

♪ Give me your key ♪

♪ This flat ain't free ♪

♪ I can't get no rent out of you ♪

♪ Pack up your things and skidoo. ♪

I'm over here!

(audience laughing and applauding)

♪ I'm just waitin' 'til
my Bill comes home ♪

♪ He's my honey from the honeycomb ♪

♪ He'll have the money 'cause
he told me so this mornin' ♪

♪ Landlord said he gave you lots of show ♪

♪ Wants my room and he wants my dough ♪

♪ I'll wait for Bill
okay why don't you go ♪

♪ Because it's movin' day ♪

♪ Movin' day ♪

♪ Rip that carpet up from off the floor ♪

♪ Take your oil stove kid
and there's the door ♪

♪ It's movin' day ♪

♪ Pack your foldin' bed and get away ♪

♪ If you spent every cent ♪

♪ You can live out in a tent ♪

♪ It's movin' day ♪

♪ It's movin' day ♪

♪ Pack your foldin' bed and get away ♪

♪ If you spent every cent ♪

♪ You can live out in a tent ♪

♪ It's movin' day ♪

- What the hell is this?

- Jack.


- Look at this.

If there was oil, she'd be
richer than Rockefeller.

- If you're gonna preach, preach it to me;

but leave my daughter alone.

- Why should I leave her alone?

- Because she's different and
we're blessed because of her.

- The theater is bad enough,
now it's men blessed?!

Now you mark my words, young lady.

No decent men will have
you, not for a wife anyway.

- Oh Jack, stop it.

For once in your life, leave it alone.

(feet stomping)
(door banging)

It's a man's world, they tell us.

(sighs) I guess you're learning that.

- I hate it, mama and you hate it too.

- Don't hate anything yet.

I made my choice and
outta that, I got you.

I wouldn't change it for anything.

You have your life ahead of you.

You're gifted and you're talented.

Yes, you are special.

You know it.

Listen to me, princess.

Don't stick yourself with one man.

Don't let anybody put you on a leash.

Make your own rules.

You hold the leash.

Your world's not gonna be a man's world.

It's gonna be yours.

Promise me, promise me
it's gonna be your world.

Promise me!

- I promise.
- Yes.

("Shine On, Harvest Moon")

♪ I ain't have no lovin' since January ♪

♪ February, June or July ♪

- Who's the new act?

Kinda like his style.

♪ Stay outdoors and spoon ♪

- Say friend, by chance you aren't tryin'

to move in on me now, are you?

- No chance to it from
where I'm standin', friend.

("Shine On, Harvest Moon")

(performer tapping and snapping)

- 'Scuse me, I'm gonna go
get dressed and go home.

- Oh Mae, why go home?

- Because you two can't make up your mind

and I don't like confusion.

- That so?

Well I think I know how how to
clear that up, right friend?

- What are we waiting for?

♪ Show time ain't no time ♪

♪ To stay outdoors and spoon ♪

♪ So shine on ♪

♪ Shine on harvest moon ♪

♪ For me and my gal ♪

- You're absolutely certain?

- Oh yes sir, there's money in it.

Real money.

- What are the sleeping arrangements?

- Hotels.

Oh her own room, of course.

Good, decent hotels.

- Alright, give it a try.

Go on the road as you say, but

anything goes awry, you'll answer to this.

- Word of honor, sir.

I'll bring her back safe and sound.

- And rich and famous.
- For sure, sure.

(tissue paper crumbling)

- Oh my.

It's beautiful.

You made it.

- Nothin's too good for you, honey.

- You can still be a great designer.

Go to Paris, see the French fashions.

I could join you; we'll travel.

(Matilda laughing)

We'll open up a shop.

You'll be successful and
we'll make lots of money.

- Your father's the money in this family.

- You could've been a
princess, mom; a real one.

- Champagne Lil, huh?

Your father was the first
one who ever called me that.

- Oh mama, he's so crude.

- There's an awful lot you don't know

about your father and me.

He's the man I wanted.

- How did he fool you like that?

- He didn't fool me.

I fell in love.

- Is that what love does to people?

- I want you, Mae; I'm serious.

- Don't be.
- Why not?

- 'Cause I don't love ya.

- Aw Mae, c'mon; I'd be good for ya.

- Nah, it's just this
physical thing we got.

- Oh, what's wrong with that?

- I don't know, but you don't
appeal to my finer instincts.

- Your what?

- Finer instincts.

- What are they?

- I don't know, but I must have 'em.

- You really think
you're special, don't ya?

- I know I am.

- Hey.

- What?
- Where'd this come from?

- That trinket?
- Yeah.

- One of my fans give it to me.

- Fans nothin'.

It's that guy down the hall, isn't it?

That damn knife thrower with a
handlebar mustache, isn't it?

- Honey when a knife
thrower gives you something,

you don't turn it down.

(fists smashing)

- Ooh, reminds me of the good ol' days.

- Hiya, Sally.

- They used to fight over me like that.

Of course that was before
gravity took effect.

(men grunting)
(fists thudding)

Ever thought about getting married?

- No, no I like my freedom.

- That's what I'm talkin' about.

Why don't you marry Wallace there?

Play it safe.

- Safe from what?

- You know what I mean.

With all these men tomcattin' around,

sooner or later somethin's gonna happen.

Where's your freedom then?

Unless you're married, have
someone to blame it on.

(fist thudding)

(Mae and Sally chuckling)

- Ready?
- For you, lover?


Night, Mae.
- See ya.

- Night, Miss West.
- Night, Harold.

(fist smacking)
(body thudding)

- I still can't believe it.
- You can believe it, alright.

But that's as far as it goes.

- What're you talkin' about?

- I married ya, Frank.

Now you keep your side of the bargain.

- Yeah, but what's the harm?

- All this love business

is no good for me, I told you that.

Besides if we was to
start living together,

what would my father say?

- Honey look, that's
what married people do.

Besides, he's 1,500 miles away.

How's he gonna find out?

- I don't know.

But when I do things, word
just seems to get around.

- Aw, c'mon.

- Listen, you took an oath to
keep this marriage a secret

and I'm holdin' you to it.

- Mae.

Mae, I love ya!




(audience applauding)

("I Love It" by Harry Von Tilzer)

♪ Hear that band a-playin'
at the Bonton Ball ♪

♪ See those Couples swayin'
up and down the hall ♪

♪ Pansey Anna Lincoln tells her partner ♪

♪ I'm a-thinkin' honey ♪

♪ Ain't that some band ♪

♪ That rag is grand ♪

♪ I could keep on glidin'
to it 'til I drop ♪

♪ Law oh pshaw, they're gonna stop ♪

♪ Tell all the boys to make a noise ♪

♪ Make 'em play it some more ♪

♪ Music man ♪

♪ If you can ♪

♪ Play one more encore ♪

♪ 'Cause I love it, love it ♪

♪ Goodness how I love it ♪

♪ Such a swingin', clingin'
tune that's got me wingin' ♪

♪ It's the most persuadin'
musical strain ♪

♪ Professor ♪

♪ Please ♪

♪ Play it again ♪

♪ Go on and rag it, drag it
get your shoes in motion ♪

♪ 'Cause I'm floatin',
floatin' on a raggy ocean ♪

♪ I could dance all night
and never get through ♪

♪ Because I love it, love it
most as much as I love you ♪

(audience applauding)

(soothing jazz music)

- Hey Sal, where you goin'?

Sal, what's the matter?

Aww honey,

who was it?

Not that pretty boy.

- Yes, Harold.

(mumbles) little sister.

- Yeah, I have.

Thought it was too good to be true.

- Who said he was good?

- He's done this before?

- Couple of times.

- Honey if you know he's like
that, why do you stick around?

- He's not always like that.

- (scoffs) Where have I heard that before?

Sal, it's no good.

You gotta kiss him off.

- I can't.

- Why not?

- Honey, I love him.

- That's crazy!

- What do you think (mumbles), good sense?

- It's not worth it.

- D'you love somebody?

Mae, you gotta love somebody

or what are you?

Just takin' up space.

- Yeah?

Space don't give you bruises.

Gotcha comin' and goin', don't they?

If ya love him or if you don't.

- It's a man's world, honey.

- I heard that before.

C'mon,. Let's go

- I'm gonna get some air.


- [Woman] (chuckles) Stop.

- [Man] Miss West, sure I remember you.

- Yeah, but backstage
you asked about a single,

if I had a single act.

- That's right and I
got a swell spot for it.

- What about Frank Wallace?

I can't just dump the guy.

- Well he won't stop, if
that's what's botherin' you.

I'll book him on another
circuit with a lotta women.

- Yeah, for how long?
- 40 weeks.

How does that sound?

- Sounds like he'll stay busy.

(soft soothing music)

Okay, go ahead and do it.

(audience cheering)
(lively orchestral music)

♪ Some boys take a fancy
to the girl nextdoor ♪

♪ They like the little
ladies nice and quiet ♪

♪ I got somethin' 'bout
me makes the lions roar ♪

♪ When I do my dance ♪

♪ I'm a piece riot ♪

(audience hollering)

Vulgar and disgusting.

Oh, cheap and shabby.

- You just file those away.

Read them 10 years from now

if you've nothin' better to do.

- [Mae] But they're right
and we both know it.

I want it straight, Val.

What's wrong with my act?

- You're asking me?

- Well sure, you're the only
real gentleman in the company.

(Val chuckling)

At least I can trust you. (chuckles)

Besides, I like your act.

It's got style.

- That's it, style and
a little grease paint.

Every year, more and more grease paint.

Why are you up there in the first place?

- Just wanna entertain.

It's what I've always wanted to do.

- [Rene] How'd you put your act together?

- Just kinda developed.

- That shuffle that
you use in the opening,

you copied that from Lou
Roth at Minsky's, didn't you?

- Yeah, I did.

- And that shimmy, where'd you get that?

- I got that in Harlem.
- Aha.

- In (mumbles), I saw
five guys up on a stage.

- You pay attention, don't you?

You watch all the acts, don't you?

- Always.

- That's the problem.

That is what makes a
trooper, not an original.

You steal a piece here,
you steal a piece there.

You stitch it together.

(scoffs) It's mechanical, it's obvious.

Maybe it works, but suddenly
there are 10 copycats

out there stealing the same act.

Now is that what you want?

- No.

- Now what is it that you want?

- I wanna be a star.

(soft soothing music)

- (chuckles) The stars
are not pieced together.



one of a kind.

Look inside yourself.

Nobody could really steal from a star.

The best they can do is imitate them.

Look inside yourself.


- Miss. West?
- Yes?

- My name is Dorset;
I work for Mr. Timony.

- Ooh,

James Timony?
- That's right.

He's here in town for
a few days on business.

- Yeah?
- He'd like to see you.

- We've never even met.

Say, how did he know I
was in Chicago anyway?

- I think he'd prefer to
answer that in person.

- Tell Mr. Timony I couldn't wait.

- No no no, third place won't do.

You tell that manager of mine
I want the pennant next year.

I'm sellin' the team, you understand?


Miss West, I'm terribly sorry.

The stock market went crazy
today, won't you forgive me?

Please come in.

Alright, everybody out.

Mr. Dorset?
- Yes, sir.

- I'll see you in court tomorrow.

- Yes, sir.
- 10 a.m.

- Yes, sir.
- Out, out.

Mary out, out.

Now Miss West,


- Hello.

Thanks for the flowers.
- Oh don't mention it.

- Your man there tells me
that you flew into Chicago.

- Yes, I did.

- You own your own airplane, huh?

- Yes, I do.

Your mother asked me to look in on ya,

see how you were doin'.

I thought I might see the show tonight.

Then if it's alright with you,

afterwards we might have
some supper together.

- Supper, tonight?

I don't think so.

(soft waltz music)

Mr. Timony, ya haven't
said a thing about my act.

- I'm a lawyer, Miss West.

What do I know about the theater?

- You're a man, ain't ya?

Ya have feelins.

- I most certainly do.

Might I suppose you do as well?

- (chuckles) Well, you gotta understand.

This is all kinda new to me

and I've never been out with
such an influential man before.

- Do you like the feeling?
- I don't know.

It's so unfamiliar.

- That can be fixed.

- I could get used to this.

- What wrong, you afraid of me?

- No, it's just--
- It's what?

- I hate cigars; never could take 'em.

(ashtray clanking)

- What else don't you like?

- I'd be afraid to tell ya.

- How 'bout some champagne
to clench the deal?

- (mumbles) I never touch the stuff.

Oh Jim, no! (chuckles)

- To new friendships.

- To new friendships.

- And to many more evenings like this.

(soft orchestral music)

- Doesn't it get to be an expensive habit,

smashing things up like that?

- There ain't nothin' I
wouldn't do for a friend.

- You never did answer
my question about my act.

- Oh yes, your act.

Seems like awfully hard work.

- I guess it does, at that.

- There's somethin' I
don't understand though.

I know this day just pretense and all,

but where's the real you?

The one I see here is far
more appealing, more exciting,

more sensual than the
one I saw at the theater.

- Well I couldn't put that up on stage.

- And why not?

- I don't know.

If I was able to put the real me up there,

you'd be gettin' me outta jail.

- What's wrong with that?

- Oh. (chuckles)
- I'm serious.

I'm a good lawyer.

Try it once, see what happens.

- Jail, huh?
- Mm-hmm.

- Ooh.

(drum rolling)
(audience applauding)

It gets a little cold here in Milwaukee.

I just noticed the piano
player blowin' on his hands.

(audience laughing)


Stick around honey, a thrill
a day keeps the chill away.

(audience hollering)
(drum rolling)

Ya like that one?

I'll admit I'm a little crude,

but have you seen my good side yet?

(audience cheering and hollering)

Mr. Conductor, if you please.

(audience cheering)
(sensual jazz music)

(Mae and audience vocalizing)

Watch the eyes, boys.

Ain't it hot?

(Mae and audience vocalizing)

♪ Some boys take a fancy
to the girl nextdoor ♪

♪ The like the little
ladies nice and quiet ♪

♪ Don't sound like much fun, does it ♪

♪ Ooh it seems there's
somethin' 'bout me ♪

♪ Makes the lions roar ♪

♪ And when I do my dance ♪

♪ Those furry little
things just go crazy ♪

(audience laughing)

(Mae and audience vocalizing)

I guess you noticed, boys.

I put my whole heart into my work.

(audience whistling and applauding)

(Mae and audience vocalizing)

(audience cheering)

Here I'm all the time thinkin'
I have to invent somethin'.

Why, there's no big secret to it.

Bein' myself up there,
that's all it takes.

- You're starting to get the idea.

- What do you mean
startin' to get the idea?

- Take a good look in that
mirror, what do you see?

- Mae West.

- To be sure

all of her.

That costume, it leaves
nothing to the imagination.

Don't sell so hard.

The game

is illusion.

- I been sellin', huh?

Been givin' it away like a free lunch.

- You must learn to economize.

Never drop the seventh veil.

Suggest the world, but
be home for the prize.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Look at me.

I am not the most gorgeous
creature you ever saw.

But when I walk out onto that stage

and face that audience,
I have to make them


I am.

While we are on the subject of beauty,

look at your eyebrows.

Who are you working for, the photo brush?

Oh and my dear, that hair.

The way you wear it, it
makes your face look fat.

- Fat?!

- Yeah that's what I said, fat; F-A-T.

C'mon, sit down.


If I (mumbles) your hair back like this,

up and over your shoulder
really gives your jawline

(mumbles) see?

Here, now look.




- Now that's magic, isn't it?

(soft orchestral music)

- Will you kindly stop torturing yourself

and come to breakfast?

- I feel like I've been to the dentist.

Ooh, Jim.
- What do you think?

- Honey, it's beautiful.

You know how I feel about diamonds.

- Here, lemme help you with it.

A very proper setting it is.

- Jim, I don't know how to thank you.

- Oh you don't, huh?

- Maybe I do with that.

- What is all this anyway?

- I'm just makin' some changes.

- Yeah?

- Tryin' for some style and class.

I'm not gonna throw it
in their faces anymore.

Like Val says, I wanna
give 'em elegance, grace

and magic.

I'm gonna give 'em me.

♪ Ooh CC Rider ♪

♪ Just see what you have done ♪

♪ Ooh CC Rider ♪

♪ Just see what you have done ♪

♪ You dirty dog ♪

♪ Well you made me love you ♪

♪ Now your girl has come ♪

♪ And you know I don't
like sharin' nothin' ♪

♪ Ain't no more potatoes ♪

♪ Frost has to kill the vine ♪

♪ Mmm ♪

♪ The blues ain't nothin'
but a good man on your mind ♪

♪ Yeah ♪

♪ Ooh the blues ain't nothin'
but a good man on your mind ♪

♪ Ooh CC Rider ♪

♪ Just see what you have done ♪

♪ You really did it this time ♪

♪ Hey CC Rider ♪

♪ See what you have done ♪

♪ Yeah ♪

♪ Well ya made me love you ♪

♪ Now your girl has come ♪

(audience applauding)

- Mae.
- You get 'em?

Ooh, lemme see.

- Later editions.

- The Writer, they always hated me.

- Not anymore, look.

- Well what do ya know?

- How does that make you feel?

- (chuckles) Pretty good.

- Good enough to marry me?

- You know I almost could.

- Then c'mon, let's make it permanent.

I'll take such good care of you.

- I take good care of myself.

Besides, I'm not the
cottage and apron type.

- What kind of an answer is that?

- Honey you know I care about you,

but now just isn't the right time.

- But why not?

- Because I'm havin' fun with my career.

I worked hard for for this.

I wanna enjoy it.

I'm even buyin' my own diamonds.

- Diamonds.

- [Mae] I can't get tied
down right now, Jim.

Besides, I got a new idea for a new play.

- A play?
- Yeah, I wanna write.

- Is that what you been
doin', writin' a play?

- Yeah, for Broadway.

- [Jim] Mae, we can still get married.

- Kiddo, you told me you wanted
to see the real me in my act

and ya got it, didn't ya?

This is the real me too.

I got ideas and I wanna
get 'em out; stage 'em.

I wanna write.

- Mae, what d'you know about plays?

- I don't, but I'm gonna find out.

- But you just found out about Vaudeville.

- That's right, now it's time
to move onto somethin' new.

- You're gonna drive me
crazy, I can see that.

- (laughs) Yeah well when
this thing gets on the boards,

I just hope they can take
the temperature. (clicks)

- Nope nope no!

- Did I hear ya say no, Mr. Elsner?

- [Edward] It's phony, your acting!

Stop acting; trust your instincts.

- Instincts, huh?
- Yes, your instincts.

(lights clicking)

- I'll tell you about men!

I can take 'em or I can leave 'em alone!

I'm just like a man in my romances.

Here today and gone tomorrow.

Men are conveniences
to me and nothing more!

- There, you see?

Now it's alive.

- I didn't do anything outta the ordinary.

- Oh, but you did.

That sultry walk, that
unrepressed sensuality.

You reek with it; you have it all over you

in your eyes, your mouth, your voice.

The way you move your body.

- I guess we can stop
worryin' about him, huh girls?

- There, that movement there.

Now do the other thing,
your hand through your hair.

- Ooh, this?
- And the look

where you lower your eyes,
then lift them again.

That, shifting your weight
from one hip to the other.

- That's sexy, huh?
- Unbearably.

- Maybe that's what we
should call my play: Sex.

- Yes, why not?


- Sex.

- Sex!

- Ooh, well how do ya like that?

He just turned my sex
brothel into a career.

(soft intriguing music)

(door knocking)

- [Man] The judge is ready
for ya now, Miss West.

- Let's see you get yourself
outta this one, honey.

- Sergeant Kirk, would you tell the court

and the members of the jury what you saw?

- What Miss West did was...

What you noticed most, I guess, was her.

If I could say out loud,

was her navel.

(courtroom laughing)
(gavel banging)

- Alright, alright.

- Just a moment, you
actually saw her navel?

- No no sir, but there was
something in her middle.

I'm sure of that.

(courtroom laughing)

- Something in her middle, I see.

Can you describe these movements for us?

- Why don't I just get
up and do it for him?

- Mae, they'll hang you.

- They're gonna hang me anyway.

- Sergeant, we're waiting.
- Well sir, this navel of hers

would move up and down

then left to right.

Maybe you should say east to west

because then it would go north to south.

(courtroom laughing)

You really had to be there to see it.

(gavel banging)
- Quiet.

Quiet in the courtroom.

Miss West, you've been found guilty

of corrupting the morals of youth.

Have you anything to say
before I pass sentence?

- Nah, just go ahead and pass the hemlock.

- Bet your pardon?

- Well corruptin' the morals of youth.

That's what they got
Socrates for, ain't it?

(courtroom laughing)
(gavel banging)

- Miss West, are you attempting

to show contempt for this court?

- Why no, Your Honor.

I was doin' my best to conceal it.

(courtroom laughing)
(gavel banging)

(muffled crosstalk)

You boys got any questions?

- Miss West, I'm Warden Schleth.

- Lovely day for a walk
to the joint, ain't it?

You ain't hard to look at, Warden.

- Really?

I'm honored to meet you.

I'm almost sorry your
stay is gonna be so short.

- Oh yeah?
- That is

speaking for myself, of course.

- Well 10 days could be a long time.

'Course, there are ways to make time fly.

(whimsical ragtime music)

This is kinda rough on the body.

I'd like to wear my own
underwear, if you don't mind.

Still rainin' hard, how do ya like that?

- [George] How does it
feel to be a jailbird, Mae?

- I don't believe I know you.
- George Kane of The Mirror.

- If it's all the same to you
Mr. Kane, I prefer Miss West.

As far as jail's concerned,
I can't say I mind it much.

Never been there before.

Besides, it gave me
time to work, to think.

- You learn your lesson, put
you in there for punishment.

Did it do any good?
- Sure, it did me good.

Lotta good; made me famous.

Thanks a lot fellas; I love ya all.

- [Reporter] Over here!

(muffled crosstalk)

- [Reporter] Over here, smile!

We love ya.

(audience applauding)

- Diamond Lil.

You are Diamond Lil, aren't you?

- Who'd you think I was, Mary Magdalene?

(audience laughing)

- [Man] You shouldn't speak
disrespectfully of God

and those who serve Him.

- Oh yes, I read your Bible.

A lot of it's about me.

(audience chuckling)

I always did like a man in uniform.

Yours fit you perfect.

Why don't ya come up sometime?

I'm home every evenin'.

- Sorry, I'm busy in the evenings.

- Busy?

Say, are you tryin' to insult me?

- Why, not at all.

I'm just busy, that's all.

- Well fool me

pretendin' to be good.

I met your kind before.

Why don't ya come up sometime?

Don't be afraid, I won't tell anyone.

(audience laughing)

- Another time, perhaps.

- Now you can be had.

(audience applauding)

(muffled crosstalk)

- Mae, you finally got a real hit.

How does it feel?
- Miss West,

if you don't mind.
- How does it feel?

- This ain't my first.

Sex ran 385 performances.

But this is more than just a hit, Mr. Kane

'cause I'm Diamond Lil and she's me.

We're each other, ya understand?

I got it made.

There's nothin' stoppin' us now.

- You hear that?

There's nothin' stoppin' us now.

(muffled crosstalk)

- How do you feel about men, Mae?

How do you feel about men?
- Men?

Why, I think of 'em en masse.

I never set out to make 'em a career.

'Course it just happened that way.

Ain't that right, honey?
- That's right, sweetheart.

- Miss West, Mr. Timony here.

- What's the secret of your success?

- There ain't no secret.

I got a certain somethin'
and the word just got around.

(men chuckling)

Where d'you come from?

- From France.

- Yeah?
- Yeah.

- What's your name?

- My name is Dinjo.

(both speaking foreign language)

- I'm bilingual.

(men laughing)

- How long's it been going on?

- This Dinjo character?

About a month and in the wackiest places.

- Nevermind about that.

Are there others?

- Two boys from Yale, a fellow from India,

then there's that wrestler.

Big guy, 'bout 300.
- That's enough.

- I know, you know.

- What?
- Sure.

You hired private detectives

to follow me all around St Louis, Chicago.

Been doin' it for months.

Got one here in San Francisco too.

- You never said anything to me?

- Why should I?

We both knew about it.

- Mae, I want all this to change.

I want you to be faithful to me.

- Now look who's talkin'.
- It's different with a man.

- (scoffs) Where have I heard that before?

- Well it is!

- Now listen, I heard enough
of that talk from my father

and I don't need it from you too!

- You comparin' me to your father?

- In some ways, you're a lot alike.

- The hell you say, I'm
not like your father.

I'm not like anyone.

- Honey, I don't want you goin' around

thinkin' you're not man enough.

Ya are.

You're terrific.

It's just natural for
me to have men around.

- Natural.
- Yeah.

- Natural, is that your word for it?


- Yeah!

I never lie.

I never claim to be faithful.

- And you won't give it up for me?

- I won't pretend, Jim!

- I gave up my law practice for you;

gave up half my business
interest to manage you

and to be with you and you
won't do this one thing for me?

- There's no bridle on you, Jim.

Why d'you wanna reign me in?

- You think about your image then, Mae.

We built you into something.

This ain't no dime store deal anymore.

We're in the big leagues

and you're actin' like some cheap tart.

Those newspaper guys'll
drag you through the street.

- Then let 'em drag!

- Take it or leave it, is
that what you're tellin' me?

- I guess so!

(furniture and bags smashing)

(phone ringing)

- Yeah.

- Thank you, Father.

- Well, whaddya know.

The Iron Lady cracks at last.

(Mae weeping)

- Sorry about your mother,
but how about a comment?

- How do you feel, Mae?

Tell us.

- Don't, Jim!
(fist bashing)

- Miss West, you get me?!

Nobody calls her Mae.

(somber piano music)

- I know, daddy.

I know. (sobs)

(train bells gonging)

(whistle tooting)
(lively marching music)

- Hello, Mae.
- Mr. Kane.

- Miss West, Miss West.

- I thought I left you back in New York.

- Just keep turnin' up, don't I?

Like a bad penny.

Welcome to California: land
of sunlight and censorship.

Out here they got a thing
called a Hays office.

What d'ya think?

Can a bad girl of Broadway
cut it in Hollywood?

- I just hope the fellas
can take the heat.

- Hey Miss West, do you think?

(speech drowned by marching music)

(whistle tooting)

- Miss West.
- Mm-hmm?

- Al Kaufman, Paramount Pictures.

We're delighted to have
you here in California.

- Thanks a whole.

- Mr. Timony, we've sent
you numerous scripts.

You keep turning 'em down.

- Miss West needs her own material.

In case you're unaware Mr. Kaufman,

she's a very successful playwright.

- You refer to the stage, Mr. Timony.

This is Hollywood.

On film, she's no leading lady.

- What?

- For one thing, she's more
than a little overweight.

- On top of that, she's 40 years old.

- 39.

Everywhere I go, I set box office records

all the way across the country.

- Miss West, there's a
depression on out there.

You're gettin' $5,000 a week.

- Now let me tell you what the trouble is.

- Mae wait a minute, wait a minute.

- No, let me finish.

I'm Miss Honkytonk, Broadway's bad girl.

You're all afraid of me.

Well that's alright.

It's your privilege.

Here's your money; all 30,000 of it.

Better count it, I'm goin' home.

- Miss West, just a minute please.

We don't want your money.

I have a feeling, a strong
feeling, that Night After Night

will be a very good vehicle for you.

- That's George Raft's
picture; it's his vehicle.

- Have you read it?

- Read it?

Why, I went over it with a
microscope to find my part.

I have four scenes in the whole movie.

- Four very good scenes; two
of them with George Raft.

The public will remember you, Miss West.

- Excuse me Mr. Kaufman,
they remember me already.

We're wastin' our time.

Gentlemen, no hard feelings.

Things just didn't work out.

C'mon Jim, let's go.

- Miss West?
- Yeah, that's me.

- I guess you don't
remember me, Bill Le Baron.

- Yeah sure, how are ya?
- Fine, thanks.

- Jim, you know Bill.

- Hi Jim, nice to see you again.

- Hello, Bill.
- Yeah, you wrote?

- (mumbles) Broadway, sure.
- Was a lotta years ago.

- You remember that Irish maid sketch

I wrote, then you rewrote?

- Oh, I played around with it a little.

- You made it a hell of a lot better.

I'm producing Night After Night.

- Oh really?

- I was wondering, could
you take your scenes

and rewrite them for me?

I'll give you a free hand.

- Wait a minute.

Do you mean to say I can take those scenes

and do 'em my way?
- Right.

- What is all this, Archie?

- We are shutdown, Mr. Kaufman.

- Yeah, I can see that.


- Apparently Miss West prefers

to direct the picture herself.

Isn't that so, Miss West?

- Mr. Mayo over here
wants to cut the camera

after my line, but you can't do that.

You gotta stay with me
as I go up the stairs.

- It's a waste of film, Mr. Kaufman.

The scene's over after
she's delivered the line.

- No, it ain't.

If you cut there, you'll kill the laugh.

- We're shutdown over that?

- Yes, sir.

Over that.

- Let's see the scene.
- Alright, then.

Miss West.
- Mr. Mayo.

- [Archie] Action.

- Goodness, what beautiful diamonds.

- Goodness had nothin'
to do with it, dearie.

(men laughing)

- It's funny, Archie.

- Here comes Raft.

- George, what do you think?

- Mae West stole
everything but the cameras.

- Well boys, looks like we got ourselves

a brand new movie star.

- Yes, she is.

- She is not.

Mae West is not a movie star.

Mr. Timony, surely you can
look at this from our position.

Diamond Lil's about the gay 90s.

Movie audience is young mostly.

High school, college kid.

They don't anything about that period.

They don't care about that period.

- Maybe you should stop following trends,

Mr. Kaufman and set them.

- Perhaps if she had an
established star working with her.

- Cary Grant.

- Who?

- She's found some new guy
named Grant, Cary Grant.

- The stilt walker?

- [Man] Sorry for having taken your time.

- [Mae] What do ya think my time is for?

- [Man] Haven't you ever met a
man who could make you happy?

- [Mae] Sure, lotsa times.

- [Man] I've gotta be
getting back to the mission.

- [Mae] That oughta be interesting.

- It's just one of those
things I have to do.

- Come up again


It won't be long now.

- Cut, print.

Let's set up over here.
- What do you think?

- I think they're very good together.

- Do you think she's a star?

- Only the audience can
say if she's a star.

- Miss West.
- That Cary Grant,

he's a pretty good lookin' guy.

- Give us the lowdown, anything goin' on

between you and (mumbles)?

(muffled crosstalk)

- Miss West, you know the very fast edge

of the greatest female
impersonator of all time?

You gotta understand,
are you really a man?

- Take it from me, Mr. Kane.

She's all woman.

(reporters laughing)
- Ooh, I bet she is.

- Yeah, I got about 1,000
references to prove it.

- [George] 1,000 references?

I don't need 1,000, three'll do.

- Well if you got the time.
- Alright, everybody out.

Alright, that's enough.

She's been very kind, hasn't she?

Thank you, we'll see
you all some other time.

- Just one more, c'mon.

Hurry, hurry.
- C'mon, c'mon

- Goodbye.

G'night, fellas.
- Talkin' to y'all soon.

Okay boys, there you go.
- Thank you, sir.

- And you.
- Thank you, sir.

- Yeah, thanks a lot.

- Thank you, sir.
- Thank you.

- Well whaddya know.
- What?

- It's from Kaufmann.

- What does it say?

- "Thanks for saving our studio."

(both chuckling)

- Mae, you're on top now.

Stage and screen, you can do anything.

Anything ya want.

- Jim, I got this idea for a picture.

I really like this Cary Grant.

I think that we can make a great team.

- Mae, wait a minute.
- What?

- There are other things.
- What?

- Other things.

- What other things?

- You really don't know, do ya?

- What don't I know?

- Mae, your career's not everything.

Sooner or later, the
curtain has to come down.

Ya gotta have someone you come home to.

Someone you care about,
someone who cares about you.

- You keep talkin' about my career

like it's some separate thing.

Like it's not part of me.

Me and my career are the same thing.

- I want a family life.

I want a home.

I want children.

- Mae West is not a mother!

- No, Mae West is not a wife
either but she's gonna be.

- I am not!

- I want you to marry me.
- I'm already married.

- What did you say?


- Yeah, I'm already married.

Guy named Frank Wallace back in 1911.

- When did you plan to tell me about that?

- I don't know.

Couldn't amount to nothin'.

Fact is

kinda forgot about it.

- You really take the cake, you know that?

- Jim, don't be angry.

- You lied to me!

Who am I to you anyway,
some bum you just picked up?

Got 15 years invested in you.

15 years of my life.

All of a sudden you just turn around to me

and you say Jim I forgot
to tell ya, I'm married.

- I'll never understand you.

No man in the world wants to get married!

- Well I do!

- But it's not a natural state!

It's just something invented
by women to hang onto men!

- You really got it all
figured out, don't you?

- Yes, I do!

- Well I wish you luck.

- Where you goin'?

- You find yourself another manager.

You just lost this one.

- No one walks out on me.

- You're not writin' this scene, I am.

(somber orchestral music)

- [Mae] What's your hurry?

- I just gotta go.

- Somethin's wrong, what is it?

- Nothin'.

It was great, it was great.

Everything they say about you's true.

- But what?

- That could've been anybody.

(soft soothing music)

- Hiya, Val.

- Morning Mae, how'd you sleep?

- D'you see him leave?

- You mean the young blond guy?

- Yeah cute, huh?

See him?

- I didn't see anyone.

How many pages did you
get written yesterday?

- I dunno, I'm havin' trouble with that.

- You want me to read what you've written?

- No don't read it, it stinks.

- How 'bout we take a long weekend?

Palm Springs.

- Too hot.

- You owe yourself some time-off, Mae.

Don't you think?

- [Mae] I'd go crazy
with too much time off.

- Don't be so hard on yourself.

It'll come.

- (sighs) I build my whole
career around one character

and them censors, them holy Joe reformers

are tryin' to kill it off.

Am I tryin' to harm anyone?!

- How 'bout we drive up to Santa Barbara?

- (chuckles) Who do you
know in Santa Barbara?

- (chuckles) No one.

I just thought it might be fun.

What do ya say?

You miss him, don't you?

- I never thought I was
makin' him so unhappy.

I never meant to do that.

- [Rene] Why don't you
just pick up that phone,

call him in New York
and tell him just that?

- Oh, I couldn't do that.

- You cannot go on being a fugitive.

- From what?

- From life.

- Ain't we bein' poetic this mornin'?

- Mae,

one of these days you are
goin' to need someone.

Really need someone.

Who's goin' to be there?

(soft orchestral music)

- Mr. Timony, Mr. Abbey's on the phone.

- Not now.

- It's the third time he's called today.

- Not now.

- It's about the Madison
Square Garden deal.

What shall I tell Mr. Abbey?

- Whatever you like.

- Here, here's your receipt.

You're now the proud proprietor
of the Brooklyn Bridge.

When that one wears out, I'll spell ya.

Supposed to be, I'll sell ya a new one.

I'm sorry, Eddie.

- Cut!
- Can we try that one again?

- [Man] Hey sweetheart, what
seems to be the problem?

Anything I can do?

- Nah, I just keep blowin' lines.

Maybe I just need to get
away from it for a minute.

- Of course.

Alright, let's take a break everybody.

Go on out for a coffee,
be back in 10 minutes.

- Miss West.
- Now what?

- The two lines here I
find very disturbing.

First, "I wouldn't even
lift my veil for that guy."

The question being of
course, what would you lift?

- Mr. Abbey, I'd hate to have your mind

on a good long morning.

- One more thing, Miss
West if you wouldn't mind.

Now this here, coming from
you is good deal worse.

"I wouldn't let him touch
me with a 10 foot pole."

- What's wrong with that?
- It's perfectly obvious.

- You know anybody with a
10 foot pole, Mr. Abbey?

Cheer up, your
reinforcements just arrived.

- Excuse me, Mr. Abbey.


- What are they doin' here now?

We're in the middle of shootin'.

- Unfortunately Mae,
you don't choose a time.

They do.

- Those local yokels from the Hays office

have really got you runnin', don't they?

It was supposed to be tonight.

- I can't help that.

Please, just be careful what you say.

- Well when people get shocked easily,

they should get shocked more often.

- Please?

Miss West, may I present Mr. Driggs.

Reverend Bragg.

Mr. Abbey, you already know.

- Intimately.

Ain't that right, Abbey?

- And Father Cox.

- Well fellas, what's the beef?

- Sins of the flesh, Miss West.

- Oh wait a minute, I
never took my clothes off.

I never even show my legs.

I don't use profanity.

- We know that, Miss West.

It's a question of attitude.

You can do more with lifted eyebrow

than a whole army of Ziegfeld girls.

- That a compliment?
- Well yes, in a way.

But it's because of this talent,

that you can without intention, of course,

have a harmful effect.

- Harmful?

What's the harm in laughter?

C'mon boys, the country's in a big mess.

The depression is killing
our people's spirits.

All I wanna do is make 'em laugh so hard,

they wanna forget they wanna cry.

- We don't think you're funny, Miss West.

As a matter of fact, we
think you're obscene.

- Obscene?

Do you know what I think obscene is?


Are you guys gonna talk out against war?

Are you gonna speak against
Mussolini and Hitler?

Are you gonna censor war?

- Well, what Miss West means.

- We understand you're
going on national radio.

- Yeah, that's right.

This Sunday.

The Bergen-McCarthy Hour,

a little promotional for the new movie.

- Charlie McCarthy's one of my favorites.

- [Mae] Hello short, dark and handsome.

- Hello tall, blond and terrific.

- Listen Charlie, are these yours?

- Charlie, where did you get those keys?

- You better tell him, Mae.

- If you wanna know, he came up to see me

and I showed him my etchings.

(audience laughing softly)

- Is that all there was
to it, just etchings?

- (chuckles) He's so naive.

- Why don't you come home
with me now, Charlie?

I'll let you play in my woodpile.

- [Charlie] Well, I don't know.

- You weren't so shy the other night.

You didn't need any
encouragement to kiss me.

- Did I do that?
- You certainly did.

I got the marks to prove it; slivers too.

(audience laughing)

- Tonight we turn back time

and step into the Garden of Eden.

Under a spreading fig
tree rests one Mr. Adam.

Eve, obviously, is bored beyond endurance.

- Listen, Adam honey, I
want a little excitement.

- What for?

This is Eden.

Everything is peaceful, quiet and safe.

- Adam, you don't know
a thing about a woman.

- Oh, you apparently forget.

You are originally one of my own ribs.

- Yeah, ribbed once and now I'm beefin'.

(audience laughing and applauding)

- Well then what do you want, trouble?

- If trouble means somethin'
that makes your blood

run through your veins like Seltzer water.

Adam my man, give me trouble.

(audience laughing)

- That's right.

A telegram to Lennox Lohr.

President, NBC Radio Network.

Sir, you have mistakenly
chosen Sunday night

to air a totally indecent,
religiously scurrilous

piece of pornography.

Your association with such
vulgarity and with Miss West

will be brought to the attention
of federal authorities.

- Al, I was just talking to the head.

- No more phone calls.

- But when I tell you who it was.

- I said I'm takin' no more phone calls.

- Will you look at this?

Some senator from Massachusetts

wants the House to investigate radio.

- Here's a guy that wants the
station's license revoked.

Today it's the stations,
tomorrow the theaters.

- My God, it's Armageddon.

(poster shredding)

- Mr. C wants our decision right now.

- [Man] The calls keep coming in, Al.

- [Man] What do you wanna do, Al?

- We got a company to run.

Let's dump 'er.

(soft soothing music)

(Bill speaking foreign language)

- The fear of the gods.

(car backfiring)

Every day.

(car backfiring)

- Call this a dressing room?

Why in Paramount, I had
closets bigger than this one.

- C'mon, it's better than anything

- Now they expect me to give
up half my writing credits.

(mumbles) comes in and
does some lousy changes.

- Ah, my little flute player.

- I told you not to call me that.

- Pardon me dear, no
offense intended. (winces)

- Come on, Bill.

- That blonde tripped me.

- (chuckles) Come on, sit down over here.

- Thank you Valentine, you are
an officer and a gentleman.

- Bill, go home and sleep it off.

- Madam, are you implying
I partook of the grape?

- [Mae] Ya soused.

- That's (speaks foreign language).

- Bill, stop tryin' to
be so cute and go home!

I'll shot around ya.

- (chuckles) Shoot around me?

- Shoot around ya.

- Yeah may be right, a little nap;

kind of a afternoon restorative.


- That son of a sea cook,
the gin is in the orange.


(fist thudding)
(Bill mumbling)

(door slamming)

- Maybe he'll be better
on the next picture.

They have an option now for two more.

- With him?

Once is enough, I rather not work.

(weights clanging)
(waves whooshing)

- [George] Must be boring.

- I thought I told you to
call my secretary, Mr. Kane.

- Doesn't seem to like me.
- She's not alone.

- What's with this Wallace guy?

He for real?

Were you really his wife?

- We had been married,
but I never was a wife.

- What's with this psychic
stuff, this mumbo jumbo?

You talk seance to some
medium, some Jack Kelly.

- I'm lookin' for answers to
questions you've never asked.

- Almost three years without a picture.

Still gonna do that silly
musical over at Columbia?

- I might.

- Better than nothin', I guess.

- Let's go.

- Ain't easy is it, Mae?

- It's a dream, Mr. Kane.


- Hello, sweetheart.

(Mae weeping)
(lips smacking)

- Honey, it's good to see you.

Oh Jim, no man ever
understood me the way you do.

- Nobody understands you?

Half the time you don't
understand yourself.

That's why I came out.

Oh Mae whatever it's like with ya,

it's a hell of a lot worse without ya.

How's that picture?

- Oh, Jim.

- Don't worry.

We'll fix it.

We'll fix everything.

(car engine rumbling)

- I think it's time we leave this town.

- And go where?

- I don't know.

Maybe we should go back to
Broadway and get arrested again.

What do ya think?




(waves crashing)
(seagulls squawking)

- Take Diamond Lil to Broadway.

- Oh, Jim.

- Right now.

Don't stick around for me.

- You haven't missed an
opening of mine for 30 years.

- I want you to do it, Mae.

I want you to do it for me.


(audience applauding and shouting)

♪ Frankie and Johnny ♪

♪ Frankie and Johnny ♪

(Mae sobbing softly)

♪ Frankie and Johnny were lovers ♪

♪ Oh Lordy how they did love ♪

♪ Swore to be true to each other ♪

♪ True as the stars up above ♪

♪ He was her man ♪

♪ But he was doin' her wrong ♪

♪ Frankie went down to the corner ♪

♪ Just for a bottle of beer ♪

♪ Said oh Mr. Bartender ♪

♪ Has my lovin' Johnny been here ♪

♪ He is my man ♪

♪ But he didn't come home ♪

♪ Bartender said to Frankie ♪

♪ I won't tell you no lie ♪

♪ He left here 'bout an hour ago ♪

♪ With a gal named Nellie Bligh ♪

♪ He's your man but he's doin' you wrong ♪

♪ Frankie went down to the hotel ♪

♪ Happy to see her passin' by ♪

♪ There in the room was her Johnny ♪

♪ Makin' love to Nellie Bligh ♪

♪ He was her man ♪

♪ But he was doin' her wrong ♪

♪ Well Frankie, she pointed her pistol ♪

♪ Said Johnny, one thing you oughta know ♪

♪ I (mumbles) pull this here trigger ♪

♪ And shoot you where you hurt me so ♪

♪ You are my man ♪

♪ But you're doin' me wrong ♪

♪ Johnny saw Frankie come at her ♪

♪ Out the back door he tried to scoot ♪

♪ But Frankie just triggered that pistol ♪

♪ And the gun went ♪

(drums tapping)
(audience cheering)

♪ He was her man ♪

♪ But he done her wrong ♪

♪ This story has no moral ♪

♪ This story has no plan ♪

♪ This story only goes to show ya ♪

♪ That there ain't no good a man ♪

♪ He was her man ♪

♪ But he done her ♪

♪ Wrong ♪

(audience cheering loudly)

(muffled crosstalk)

- Reviews!

Reviews are out.

They love you.

(crowd cheering)

Listen to this, Brooks
Atkinson in The Times.

"A fine, full-bosomed woman

"with lots of glitter and gaudiness,

"Mae is an original
unclassified phenomenon".

(crowd cheering)

You got that?

An original.

"About as wicked as a sophomore
beer night and smoker,

"so what was all patrol
wagon rumpus about?"

(crowd laughing)

"It is 20 years since
Mae singed in New York."

- [Mae] "With the study of anatomy

"but Mae's holdin' out alright

"and has in fact become
part of American folklore".

How do you like that?

American folklore.

- You've done it, Mae.

You've opened the door.

Opened it?

Hell, you kicked it in.

Honey, you've won.

You're here to stay.

- They loved it, Jim.

I really think we started somethin'.

- [Jim] If only Hollywood
could see it, huh?

- They will alright, honey

in about another 20 years so.

- And you'll be ready for 'em, won't you?

Oh gee, I wish I could be there with you.

- (weeps) Long time ago you said,

"One day the curtain was gonna come down."

Well it came down tonight.

I'm goin' home to nobody.

- [Jim] Oh but Mae,
you're a great success.

- It could be (sobs)

if you were here with me.

- Thank you for that.

- Jim, I realize it's
too late for this but

I love you dearly.

I really do.

(waves whooshing softly)

- Goodnight.

(soft nostalgic music)

(soft soothing music)

(soft chime jingle)

(Multicom Jingle)