Passing (2021) - full transcript

Mixed-race childhood friends reunite in middle class adulthood and become increasingly involved with one another's lives and insecurities. While Irene identifies as African-American and is married to a black doctor, Clare "passes" as white and has married a prejudiced, but wealthy white man. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
- Hot enough for you?
- She's tried everything.

What about the looks
she was getting…

We were all, frankly, keen on…

No, it's not right for a girl.

…giving you any more money to…

- Look at it this way…
- It's simple to me.

I must stay away from…

- Goin'...
- Excuse me.

Feels like
the whole city is out today.

Summer sales.

- Can't keep a New Yorker from a bargain.
- Ain't that the truth?

Let's get to the toy store
and out of this heat.

I'll never hear the end of it
if I don't get my niece a doll.

She asking
for some special sort?

They have those ones
with darling hair you can braid.

- Yes, maybe she'd like that.
- Taxi!

- Oh.
- There now, that's better.

Look at that precious
little pickaninny one.

- That, she'll love.
- No.

She's never even met a colored
who didn't work for us. Thank heavens.


No, never mind, ladies.
Accidents will happen.

- My goodness.
- Here you are.

- Here.
- Oh! Thank you.

- What a nice lady.
- Mm-hmm.

There you go, miss.
Thank you so much.

- Thank you.
- Mama, I want that one.

Do you have
the Mother Goose Drawing and Tracing Book?

All sold out.

Figures. I've tried all over town.
My son won't settle for anything but.

Try again in a couple weeks.
Might get lucky.

- His birthday's tomorrow.
- Well, better luck next time.

Thank you.

Hey, are you all right, sir?

Please, somebody, help me.
I… I… Help me out.

He's fallen down. Sir, can you hear me?

Sir. Sir, you all right?

- What's happened?
- I don't know.

He all right?

This heat.
Feels like I'm about to pass out myself.

Yes. I guess it's tea I need.
I'm a little faint.

The Drayton, ma'am? They do say
as how there's always a breeze up there.

The Drayton would be lovely.

Oh! Taxi!

Take him to a hospital.

Thank you.

- Good afternoon.
- Good afternoon.

The waiter will be with you.

Stop it.

- Now?
- Yes, now.

You satisfied?

Come here.

See you later.

Don't be long.
I'll get another one.

I won't. I hope.

- You'll be all right?
- I'll be just fine.

I'm going to sit here
and enjoy this cool room.

- All right.
- All right.

- I suppose I should…
- I suppose you should.


We'll be married soon.

As far as they know, we are.

Pardon me. I don't mean to stare,
but I think I know you.

I'm afraid you're mistaken.

No, of course I know you, Rene.

You look just the same.
Tell me, do they still call you Rene?

Yes, though no one's
called me that for a long time.

Don't you know me?

Not really, Rene?

I'm afraid I can't seem to place…

- Clare?
- Mm-hmm.

That's right.

- Not Clare Kendry?
- Mm-hmm.

Now, don't run away.

You simply must stay and talk.

Fancy meeting you here.
It's simply too lucky.

It's awfully surprising, yes.


I'd never have known you
if you hadn't laughed.

You've changed so.

Well, it's been 12 years at least.

You know, I almost dropped by
your father's house not so long ago.

I've thought of you so often.

- You have?
- Of course.

You know, since I've been here,
I've hoped I might run into someone.

Preferably you, though.
And now you're here.

I'll wager you haven't given me a thought.


Tell me.

I want to know everything.
Married? Children?

- Yes. Two boys. You?
- Mm-hmm.

One girl. Margery. She's my angel.

My husband John's here on business.

Banking business.
In this heat! Can you imagine?

That was your husband?

We've been here a whole week from Chicago.

That's home.

Although I come here
and remember what home really is.

Well, we can see lots of one another
these days that I'm here, can't we?

I don't know… I mean… I'm just…

I live in Harlem, still.

I don't come
to this part of town a whole lot.

Oh, that's sad.

Perhaps I can come visit
with you another time in Harlem?

Meet your boys?

We're here quite often.

And if this trip goes well,
well, John's quite sure we'll move.

It's my dream to come back, Rene.

I'm sure.


Does he…


Let's go up to my suite,
where we can talk properly.


Ugh. I can't bear this heat!
I have to change.

John'll be back soon.

And here I am, sweatin' up a storm.

- That's nice.
- Oh!

I found Gert Johnson in the phone book.
Well, Gertrude Martin now.

She married Fred. Remember?

Yes. I haven't seen Fred
for an unmentionable time.

Well, they have twins.
Isn't that wonderful?

- Mmm.
- Boys. Oh, I'd love boys.

I'd never risk it again, though.

I went through hell those nine months
for fear Margery might turn out dark.

Mine are dark.

Oh. And your husband, he…

He… couldn't exactly "pass,"
if that's what you mean.

Oh, I thought…


Oh, well, then.

Would you?

Would you?

Well, anyway, she goes as white.

- So, you haven't ever thought to?
- What?

I'm asking
if you ever thought of passing, Rene.

No, why should I?

I mean, for convenience,
occasionally, I suppose. But no.

I just mean
I have everything I've ever wanted.

Except perhaps
a little more money.

Of course. That's all
anybody ever wants, a little more money.

Money's an awfully nice thing to have.

In fact, all things considered,
I think it's entirely worth the price.

I should go, Clare.

I'm not sure
it's such a good idea if John…

Oh, no, Rene, it is.

Oh, you must stay a little while longer.
Oh, please say you'll stay.

Hang it! I've made a mess.

Give me a second,
and I'll order us some food up here.

All right.

Whatcha thinking, Rene?

You're curious, is that it?

You can ask me anything.
Anything you want.

What have you told him… of your family?

You know, I haven't had to worry
as much as you'd think.

There were my aunts, you see.

They took me in after Father died
and gave me a home of sorts.

Very white,
very respectable, very religious.

I met John not long after,

and as soon as I turned 18 and legal,
we got married and…

Well, went off and left for good.

And you're happy?

Of course, Rene.

As you say,
I have everything I ever wanted.

I'm sorry, Clare, that was rude of me.

Of course you're happy.

Look at you.

- And your daughter?
- Margery? Oh, she's divine.

John wants to put her in one of those
Swiss boarding schools in the fall.

I dare say she'll get quite the education.
Not like anything we had.

Room service, hello?

We want cakes.
The most beautiful cakes you have.


Tell me, what tea you got
passes for French champagne?

Oh, I'm messing!

Yes, we'll take a pitcher of iced tea
in champagne flutes.

Mm-hmm. We're celebrating.

- That's enough, thank you.
- Have a drop more. You've hardly had any.

- Nig?
- John, dear!

I ran into an old,
old friend of mine from school.

Irene Westover.
Irene, this is my husband, John Bellew.

Pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Westover.

- Actually, it's Mrs. Redfield.
- Mm.

Oh, of course, I…
I didn't even think to ask.

I am sorry if I've interrupted.

- Will you get me a drink, honey?
- Here.

Thank you.


So, what do you say, then? To old friends?

- To old friends!
- To old friends.

- Did you hear what John called me, Rene?
- Oh, Clare, please.

No, go on, tell her why.

Oh, it's silly.

When we were first married,
this woman was as white as a lily.

But as the years go by,
she seems to be getting darker and darker.

So I told her, "If you don't look out,
you'll wake up one morning

and find
that you've turned into a nigger."

Yeah. She's been Nig ever since.

That's good!

Well, it's silly.

No, that's… That's…

That's good.

My goodness, John!

After all these years,
what would it matter

if you found out
that I was 1 or 2% colored, hmm?

Well, you can turn as black
as you please, as far as I'm concerned.

I know you're not colored.

So, you dislike Negroes, Mr. Bellew?

No, no, no, not at all. I hate them.

But not as much as Nig does,
for all she's trying to turn into one.

Why, she won't have them near her,
not even as a maid.

Isn't that true?

Have you ever known any Negroes?

No, no,
but I do know people who know them.

And I read about them
in the papers, of course.

Terrible mess. Robbing, killing.

It's sad, really.

John, Rene doesn't want to hear
about your pet perversions.

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bore you.

You live nearby?


It's a great city, New York.
City of the future.

- What line of work is your husband in?
- He's a doctor.

- That's an interesting life.
- Yes. Hard. Nerve-racking too.

Wife's nerves, too, I bet.
All those lady patients.

John, dear, don't start! More tea, Rene?

I've taken up
too much of your time already.

Oh, but we're just getting started!

- Thank you for the drink.
- I'll see you out.


- I do hope to see you soon.
- Goodbye, Mrs. Redfield.

- Glad to have met you.
- Goodbye, Clare.

- Evening, Lance.
- Evening.


Where you been?

Lookin' for that darn book.

- They eat?
- I think so.

I was gonna put them to bed, but…

- But you fell asleep.
- Apparently.


Am I still sleeping?

Catch it!

Pass, pass.

Hey. Come here.

- I thought you nailed this already.
- I forget sometimes.

All right, ten minutes.

- Catch the ball, okay?
- I don't want to.

Don't lose it.

It's boring. Play with me.

Just leave me alone.


- Caught!
- Damn it!

Brian, why you gotta be
creepin' around the place like that?

Profanity, miss!

They'll be late for school.

I'm not gonna have time to make it
to my next call if I have to drop you.

- Boys, come on in.
- Irene?

Yes, yes,
you have to come on in now.

Sorry, honey.

I was just thinking
how much Junior is getting like you.


I wonder if he isn't
going too fast in school.

It's easy to forget he's younger.

I wish you wouldn't be
ever fretting about those boys.

They are fine. They're perfectly
good, strong, healthy boys.

I suppose.

I'm just afraid
he's picked up some queer ideas

about things from some of the older boys.

"Queer"? What about?

You know,
things young boys be thinking about.

Ah. You mean about sex?

Yes. Jokes. Things like that.

If sex isn't a joke, what is it?

- What is a joke?
- Don't be facetious.

You ready?

No, you go. I'll take the bus.

- Pick you up, then?
- Please. From the printing office.

I need to see about more handbills
and tickets for the dance.

They should be paying you.

It isn't charity work
if they pay me for it.

- Go on, boys.
- Are we ready?


- Come back.
- Are you ready?

- I'm fast.
- Let's go.

- Go on, boys, get.
- Junior.

- I don't wanna go!
- You have to, I'm afraid.

Bye, Mama.

- I'm too fast! Can't catch me.
- Get back here.

- You want grapefruit, ma'am?
- Mm-hmm.

Thank you.

Ugh, my hat.

Oh, Ms. Redfield, you forgot one.

Thank you.

- Do you want me to drive?
- Mmm.

Yeah, sure.

Everything set?

We're a month away and all the bookings
are gone, not counting the door.

- Busy as a cat with fleas myself.
- Ain't you cold?

No, leave it, if you're not cold.

This city!

I think I'm beginning to hate sick people.

Their stupid meddling families,
their dirty, smelly rooms...

Come on, now. It's just a bad day.

You don't mean that.
You're helping those sick people.

- Let's not talk about it.
- You brought it up.

- Put the window down.
- Thought you were cold.

Now I'm saying I can't breathe.
Put the window down.

I know you think trying somewhere else
would be easier for us.

South America or some such.
And to a point, I agree.

We should go abroad somewhere.

Not for a while, of course,
but when the boys leave…

- We can visit Brazil.
- Visit?

Or I was thinking of one of them
European schools for Junior.

You are going to make
a mollycoddle out of that boy.

Ted is the one who needs your attention,
not Junior,

and you needn't think I'll let you send
Junior to some nice kindergarten school

'cause he's getting
a much-needed education.

Sooner he learns about sex, the better.
Certainly if he learns it's a grand joke.

The greatest in the world.

- What's that supposed to mean?
- Nothing.

I'm just getting a little tired
of playing second fiddle

to your precious Negro League, that's all.

How about a little charity for this Negro?

Come on, now.
There's people looking.

What's this?

- I think it's from Clare Bellew.
- Clare Bellew?

That woman from Chicago
you told me about running into?

- Mm-hmm.
- You gonna see her again?

I haven't opened the letter.

- It's postmarked New York.
- I know.

- They must've moved here.
- Brian, I'm not going to see her.

Thought you were good friends in school.

Brian, darling,
I'd have to be an idiot not to realize

if a man calls me a you-know-what,
it's his fault the first time,

but mine if I give him
the opportunity to do it again.

Sure, sure.

May I?

"I am so lonely, so lonely…"

"Cannot help longing
to be with you again."

- Don't mock her. That's not fair.
- I'm just reading it.


"You can't know
how in this pale life of mine,

I am all the time seeing
the bright pictures of that other

that I thought
I was so glad to be free of."

Oh, come on, it's funny!
She's very dramatic.

"It may be, Rene dear,

that your way may be the wiser
and infinitely happier one."

I'm flattered. "Wiser." As if anything
could rectify the humiliation…

Wait, wait, there's more.

"I wouldn't feel this wild desire…

If I hadn't seen you."

That's rich.

Blaming you.

"Wild desire."

Don't give her an inch.

What you so angry for anyhow?

- Husband didn't call you a...
- No, but he would've.

It amounts to the same thing.

It has, you will admit,
its humorous side.

No, I won't.

It's not funny, it's revolting.

Irene, leave it, huh?
It's normal. They always come back.

They have to work hard at getting there,
why would they wanna come back?

If I knew that, I'd know what race is.

You'd think they'd be
satisfied being white.

Rot! Who's satisfied being anything?

I am.



I am.

- Let's go. Wait, Junior!
- Come on, boys.

- Books, books.
- Bye, Mama.

Bye, Mama.


I got yams for tonight.
Save the chicken for tomorrow.

Yes, ma'am.

- Did you clean the boys' room already?
- Not yet.

Well, hurry. They'll be back soon
and then it'll be impossible.

Can I get you something?

No. I can get it.

Redfield residence.

Yes, hello.


It's Mr. Wentworth.

Hello. Yes, Hugh.

Oh, quite, and you?

Every single one, honest. I know…

Wait, I'll give mine to Bianca.
I won't need it anyway.

No, I mean it.

It was silly of me not to,
I'll be so busy…


Well, as long as Brian has a place
to drop down now and then…


That's nice. My love to Bianca.

Yes, I'll see to it right away.
See you tomorrow, Hugh. Bye.

Dear God,
but aren't you lovely, Clare.

Didn't you mean to
answer my letter, Rene?

Every day I went
to that nasty little post office.

They thought I was having an affair
and the man had thrown me over.

- Oh! Clare, I…
- Well…

Eventually it sunk in.

You hadn't written to me
and didn't intend to.

I tried very hard to forget,
I really did, but I couldn't.

I had to know why. That's why I came here.

Why didn't you write to me, Rene?

You see…

Well… you see…

I can't help thinking that…

You ought not to…

Ought not to come up here.

- You mean you don't want me here.
- No.

What I said,
you ought not to run the risk.

It's terribly foolish.
You must see that, and, well…

Just not the right thing.


Rene, you are priceless.
The right thing?

- I mean, it isn't safe.
- Safe?

To come up here. Considering what I saw
of Mr. Bellew's attitude.

Oh, of course, I understand.

And I don't blame you
for being angry, Rene.

You acted beautifully that day,
really beautifully. Thank you.

I don't want thanks.

I just mean that… it was very kind of you
to be so delicate about it.

What other option did I have, Clare?

I have been furious at you,
really furious.

- Putting me in that position.
- Of course.

I can't see why you wouldn't
understand why I wouldn't write.

Foolish of me.

Why I wouldn't want
anything to do with you!

Oh, no, now…

Don't cry.

I just… I feel so terrible about it all.

Oh, I… I didn't think…

I'm so very sorry, Rene.

There, there. Don't be.

I'm sorry too.

Oh, darn it. The truth is
I'm very glad to see you, Clare.


Oh, and I you, Rene. You can't imagine.

Without that day, I would've got
to the end, unable to speak to anyone.

You can't know.

Never anyone to really talk to.

It was insensitive of me
not to think about that.

Oh, I don't expect you to understand.

You're happy.

You have a true, good life,
and you're free.

Free and safe.


I don't even know what that is anymore.

I'm beginning to believe that no one
is ever completely happy, free, or safe.

Well, then, what does it matter
if I come up here sometimes?

You have a child, Clare.
It's not just a matter of your safety.

Being a mother
is the cruelest thing in the world.

- Hello. Redfield residence.
- Yes.

One moment…

And the most responsible.

Mr. Wentworth
is on the telephone again, ma'am.

Excuse me.


Oh, honestly, Hugh, tell her to stop
being silly. I've told you it's fine.

Mm-hmm. See you tomorrow.

You sound busy.

It's this
Negro Welfare League dance tomorrow.

I'm on the organizational committee.
I am the committee, pretty much.

- Hugh Wentworth, the novelist?
- Yes. Do you know him?

- I've read a book or two of his.
- You have?

- They're good, aren't they?
- I suppose.

Sort of contemptuous.

Yes. Well, he's a dear, really.

Mind if I do some things around the house?

- I wasn't expecting guests.
- Oh, I don't mind.

You can show me your home.

So, Hugh Wentworth's
coming up to your dance, huh?

Yes. Why not?

Curious to me.

A man like that going to a Negro dance.

Hundreds of white people like Hugh
come to affairs in Harlem now

- Why?
- Same reason you're here. To see Negroes.

What are you doing, boys?

To enjoy themselves, to get material,

to gaze on the great and near-great
as they gaze on the Negroes.

Rene, suppose I come too?

- Why, because so many white people go?
- No, because it'll be fun.

I don't know.
What if somebody recognizes you?

I'll take my chances on getting by.

- You'll be bored stiff.
- I won't, honestly. I won't.

- I won't be able to look after you.
- I'll be as good as gold.

I'll just sit there
and gaze at the great and not-so-great.

Look, I don't care
what you do or where you go,

but I don't see why you should
put yourself in a place

that might bring you trouble.

Damn John!

He gets in the way of everything I want.
I could kill him.

I wouldn't.

There's still capital punishment
in this state, at least.

I want so much to be around Negroes again.

Talk with them, hear them laugh.

I've almost forgotten it…


- Shall I go down?
- No, it's nothing.

Zu will clean it.


Come to the dance if you want to.
I'm not going to stop you.

Thank you, Rene.
That's so kind of you. Really, thank you.


- What do you want? We're busy.
- Junior.

Oh, now, don't be cross.
I know I've gone and spoiled everything,

but if I promise not to get in the way,
will you let me in?

It will just be us for dinner.

It's just as well.
I don't have any more for more.

Well, they were the cowboys
and I was the Indian,

and they captured me
right outside the fort.

But I think I just made my getaway.

Pay him no attention.
Junior gets ahead of himself fast.

Mmm. What's cooking?
Yams? How you fixin' them?

- Butter, salt, sugar. Simple.
- Simple!

Why, it's just about
the most perfect taste on God's earth!

Where did you find her, Rene?

I long for a maid
who knows real home cookin'.

- It's not like that.
- Not like what?

Everyone needs help. It's normal.

- Maybe next time you can stay for dinner.
- Oh, please, yes.

How about I stop by tomorrow
and we can go to the dance together?

All right.

- All right. See you tomorrow, then.
- Tomorrow. Yes.

- Bye, Rene.
- Mm.

- All right, come on in.
- I didn't get a chance yet.

- Thought you might've fallen asleep.
- No. Out on time. For once.

Ooh, good.

- You nervous?
- Hey, get off. You're sitting on my dress.

- Clare's coming. Clare Bellew.
- Hmm?

- That crazy woman, Clare?
- Her, yes, her.

Crazy woman Clare Bellew.

- She's not crazy.
- Since when?

Just… different.

She surprised me with a visit yesterday.

Why in the world didn't you tell me?

- Don't know. I had a lot to think about.
- Irene.

She made it sound not such a problem
if she came with us, so…

I said fine.

- She's coming here?
- Any minute, I would think.

Be nice, huh?

I highly doubt it.

I mean, you be nice to her.

I will be polite.

Gonna dress or lie there?

Quit hovering. Go wait for me downstairs.

Wait, I'm sorry. I love you.

Boy! You are nervous.

Oh, I thought
I'd never get better.

I had such a fever.
I thought I'd die. Truly.

It was quite the epidemic.
I can't recall how many cases I treated.

- Not all of them made it.
- Mmm.

- So you're lucky.
- Yeah.

Of course,
many more survived on my watch.

I'm not bragging.

And what if you are?

It's worth bragging about if it's true.

You may be right.

I'm sorry,
I didn't realize you were here already.

Don't worry.
We made our own introductions.

Yeah, we did.

- You look lovely, Rene.
- Mm-hmm.

I'm afraid I may have chosen all wrong.

Rot! It's perfect.

- …do it again.
- You told me.

Here they are!

Well, how do I look?

Like a princess.

All right, all right.

- Good night and good night.
- Good night.

I feel exactly as I used to
the night before Christmas.

I knew there was a surprise waiting
for me, but I could never guess what.

- Ah.
- I'm so excited.

You can't possibly imagine.

- "You can't possibly imagine."
- Stop now.


That music sounds good.

They'll be there.

Bianca, I am outraged.

There's Hugh!

Anywhere to sit?

In that booth with Hugh
if we can get there.

What a hoot!

There he goes!

Hey, where'd you learn this dance?

You taught me everything I know.

Felise, Dave!

- It's a triumph! The band is peachy!
- It's a riot!

- Come on, Brian. We're going dancing.
- What...

- Oh, no, no, no.
- Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

Look out, Clare.
The man has two left feet.

- Is that true?
- No.

Yes, it's very true. Bit rusty.

- Well, let's give it a go.
- All right.


"Poor man, rich man, beggar man, thief…"
How's the rest of it go?

"Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief."
All here and a few more.

What I'm trying to find out
is the history and status

of the blonde beauty out of the fairy tale
that you've brought along.


The one currently seen
dancing with your husband.

She's a girl from Chicago I used to know.
She's very excited I know you.

Good of her, I'm sure.

Can you spot
my wayward wife in the throng?

Ah, yes!

Ah. The usual problem.

All these gentlemen of color have driven
a mere Nordic out of her mind.


Have I laid eyes on her tonight
except in spots here and there

being twirled about by some Ethiopian?

I have not.

Well, sir, you have to admit
that the average colored man

is a better dancer than the average white.

That is if the celebrities
who find their way up here

are fair specimens of your sort.

Having not tripped the light fantastic
with any of the males,

I am hardly in a position
to argue the point.

Bianca and Co. are always raving on

about the good looks of some Negro,
especially an unusually dark one.

Like Ralph Hazelton there.

Dozens of women
have declared him fantastically handsome.

What do you think? Is he?

No. And I don't think
anyone else would either.

It's just plain exoticism.
An interest in what's different.

A kind of emotional excitement…

Something you feel in the presence
of something strange

and, even perhaps, a bit repugnant to you.

And there you have it.

So, do you subscribe to the notion

that our motives for coming up here
are predatory?


More curious, I should say.

Like your princess from Chicago.

What is that supposed to mean?

Things aren't always what they seem, Hugh.

I'll be damned.

- Nobody could tell from looking at her.
- No.

Most surprising.

Tell me,
can you always tell the difference?

- Oh, now you really are sounding ignorant.
- No, no, I mean it.

Feelings of kinship
or something like that?

Stop talking to me like you're writing
for the National Geographic.

I can tell same as you.

And I suppose sometimes there is a…

A thing… a thing that can't be registered.

Yes, I understand what you mean.

Yet, lots of people pass all the time.

It's easy for a Negro to pass for white.

I'm not sure it would be so simple
for a white person to pass for colored.

Never thought of that.

No, Hugh. Why should you?

Sometimes I think you could.


And in a way, if you can,
why wouldn't you?

Sorry. Hey.

- I'm asking, why wouldn't you?
- Who's to say I'm not?

- You're being unusually cryptic this...
- And you are being an ass.

I just mean…

We're all of us passing
for something or other.

Aren't we?

An ass, am I?

Ah, my feet hurt
like a… a marathon runner's.

I am in awe of your energy!

Well, I suppose
I ought to go retrieve my wife

before some man or other
steals her away from me indefinitely.

Won't you dance with me, Mr. Wentworth?

It's not quite my strong suit, Ms. Bellew.

- Hugh.
- Brian.

- Thank you.
- And for you.

- Thank you.
- Your husband has ruined me, Rene.

I must have another dance with him.
He's the best here!

I guess my wife hasn't told you
that I do not respond well to flattery.

Uh, however, I would be more than happy

to find you a suitable replacement.

- Oh.
- Mmm.

Now, this… this is your man.

- You?
- Yeah.

You'll do. Come along.

- See ya.
- He doesn't stand a chance.

None whatsoever.


You know, I'm rather glad she came.

Isn't she
extraordinarily beautiful, though?

No, not particularly.

- You're fooling!
- No.

I mean, she'd be a rather unusually
good-looking white woman, I suppose.

But personally, I like my women darker.

- Yeah?
- Mm-hmm.

Maybe it's just because she was so happy.


Irene, watch yourself.


Don't find yourself responsible
for that kind of happiness.


Hey, can it!


Goin' back to bed, Mama?

No, of course not, sweetie.

- Where's Clare?
- She's coming later when you'll be in bed.

- But she sends you special kisses.
- But Pa said she'd play with me.

Ted, take your brother to the kitchen
and get something to eat.

I don't want something to eat.

- Ted, I said go take your…
- 'Scuse me.

Sorry. I told Junior Clare would be here.

What's that about?

Somebody called him a dirty…

You-know-what today.

- Zulena?
- Out back, Rene.

What in the world?
Clare, aren't you freezing?

When the Lord brings you
a magical day like this, I say lap it up.

You're crazy.

- Zu, can you help with these groceries?
- They call this an Indian summer.

- An Indian summer?
- Zu.

Zu and I were just talking
about the Charlestons next door.

- That eldest girl is getting so pretty.
- She is.

Ted can barely look at her.

- Puberty makes such a mess of friendships.
- Puberty is a mess!

Amen to that!

I don't know.

You had a lot of friends, as I recall.

I suppose.

Sometimes I wonder
why we weren't better friends.

Oh, we did all right.

I always admired you, though.

You were always so calm
and beautiful in the face of everything.

Me? Come on, now.

You were always the beauty.

Not how I see it.

Staying for dinner?

I can't.

John's coming home.

Oh, I thought next week.

Back early.

Misses me.

Can't say I feel the same.
Wish he'd stay away always.

- You mustn't say that.
- Mustn't I?

Still coming to bridge?

Heaven forfend I miss the bridge, Rene!

"It was dusky inside
and smelled like wood and oil."

"She bumped her head on a light bulb
dangling from the ceiling."

Want to take the next part?

"All that time, the rat steadied the bulb

and pulled the chain,
and light flickered."

There was a lynching in Little Rock.
You hear about that?

- Not now.
- What happened?

A Black man was accused
of assaulting two white women.

What did he do to them?

It's less a question
of "what" than "if," Ted.

- But they lynched the man anyway.
- Exactly.

Junior, go brush your teeth.


- Chased him…
- Brian.

They caught him, hung him from
a telephone pole, and they shot him.

- But why, Papa?
- Because they hate us, son.

I said, Brian, not now.

Come here.

Seems as though
we can't discuss these things

without distressing
the ladies of our family.

- All right?
- Yeah.

Go brush those teeth, hmm?

I know I take being a mother
rather seriously.

I know I'm wrapped up in my boys
and the running of my house.

But I don't think
there's anything funny in that.

Oh, Rene, I know.

You're so good. So perfect.

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Let's sit here a minute.

I like hearing him play.

Don't think, whatever happens,
I'll forget how good you've been to me.

- What are you talking about?
- I mean it.

You see, I…

I don't have proper morals
or a sense of duty like you.

- You're talking nonsense.
- But it's true, Rene.

Don't you realize?

I'm not like you one bit.

Why, to get the things
I want so badly, I'd do anything.

Hurt anybody.

Throw anything away.


I'm not safe.

Clare, stop it.

What you're saying is wrong.

You've always had so much,
you haven't given up a thing.


Oh, I'm sorry.

Has Mae called?

I don't know where she could be.

Damn Zu taking the night off…

She does have to see her family
from time to time.

Oh, but, we're late already and…

Well, it is my last night
before I leave for Europe.

Why don't I stay with the boys
and you two go?

- Really?
- I don't mind.

- No, we can't leave you.
- Oh, yes, you can.

And it will make the numbers even.

Well, now I really have to play bridge.

- Go on, now.
- But I'll miss you, Rene.

No, you won't. Go on. Get.

Go on, now.

This is where all the talent is.

Yeah, and the hooch.

Where's Princess tonight?

It's a rarity having the two of you
all to myself.

She's in Europe.

Her daughter's in boarding school.
Switzerland, of all places.

- What?
- Nothing. Just, uh…

What do you know about Switzerland?

Well, I shouldn't miss her too much.
I find her hard work.

Well, some would say the same of you.


But I call it shameless, what she does.
Always playing the victim.

"Poor little tragic me," etcetera…

It's a low way
of making yourself popular...

- I don't think that's fair.
- I didn't quite finish.

But she does maintain a certain charm.

Hugh, you hardly know the woman.

- Since she isn't here to defend herself...
- You will?

Very chivalrous of you, I'm sure.

- Afternoon, Lance.
- Irene.

Have to let this dry before we attach it.

This is nice, isn't it? Just us four.

- I'll make some hot chocolate.
- Yes, please!

Look out!

No, I want to keep talking about it.

- You two look serious.
- We're talking about John Carter.

The one that got lynched in Little Rock.

- That again?
- You gotta know about these things.

- Do I?
- Do we have any more nuts?

- I'll see.
- I want some too.

You know they did more
than just shoot him.

They attached his body to a caravan,
dragged it through the city.

- Did you tell your father that?
- He told me.

He did?

I'm old enough not to be spoken to
like a child anymore.

Thank you for dinner, Mama.

I wish you wouldn't keep talking to them
about all that lynching stuff.


There'll be time for them to learn
about horrible things when they're older.

- Right now, they're safe.
- You are absolutely wrong.

If you are determined
to have them grow up in this damn country,

the sooner they find out, the better.

But they're happy. Why ruin that?

- I want them to stay happy.
- Irene.

What is the use
in keeping things from them? Hmm?

We tried to keep them
from hearing the word "nigger."

- Don't use those...
- They found out the hard way.

You are not to talk
about the race problem. I won't have it.

- It is my house too. They need to know...
- They don't!

They do not.

I don't understand how someone
as intelligent as you can be so stupid.

I wanted to leave
this hellish place years ago.

I have been saying
we should go away for a bit.

But then you seemed happier
having Clare around, so…

The hell has Clare got to do with...

Only that we would have
gone on a trip but for that.

I gave up that idea because you objected…

- I never objected to having Clare...
- God damn it!

Irene, I'm not talking about Clare.

- It seems...
- I'm not talking about a trip!

I am talking about leaving this...

It seems to me you are a lot less content
with what you've got when she's not here.

Not how I see it. No.

I'm getting up.

Don't worry.


- It was good of you to think to call me.
- Always the attentive husband.

All of those people coming to tea.

Thank goodness everything is ready.

- Clare's downstairs.
- Clare? How?

I didn't invite her, purposely.

Uh, she's been back for a while.
Zu's always taking messages,

and you never seem to respond.

Might a mere man ask why?

This party is for Hugh, and Hugh happens
not to care a great deal for her, so…

I didn't ask her.

If you ask me, his dislike
has less to do with her

and more to do with the attention
she happens to not give him very much of.

- You love Hugh.
- I do.

But you'll admit he has
a godlike opinion of himself.

I disagree.

He thinks far better of himself
than that.


I'm sorry. It's my fault, Irene.

She seemed hurt at being left out.
I told her I was sure you'd forgotten.

But, Brian, I…

You spoke to her, then?


Of course you did.

In spite of what I said,
Clare does add to any party.

She's so easy on the eyes.

You won't be long?

- Thank you.
- Sorry.

We're all discussing
La Josephine. You've seen her, I presume?

- Josephine Baker? No, never.
- You're missing out.

She may have been
in Shuffle Along when I saw it,

but I can't remember.

I much prefer her
to Ethel Waters.

Ethel Waters is awfully good.

Hello, Felise, so glad you made it.

Oh, come back. Irene.

You haven't sat down all afternoon.

I wanna talk to you.

Come out of it, whatever it is.
You look like the second gravedigger.

I'm not quite feeling up to par.

- The weather, I guess.
- Buy yourself an expensive frock.

It always helps.

I have been trying to get her alone
all afternoon. Clare!

You look too divine,
sitting so quiet like a painting!

- Come over for a gathering next month.
- You must!

I was telling Dave
I just finished his book.

- You've read his books?
- Of course, I've read all of 'em!


So sorry, Rene, I must've pushed you.
Clumsy of me.

Don't tell me,
it's priceless and irreplaceable?

No, you didn't push me, I'm quite sure.

That pot was the ugliest thing

that your ancestors,
the charming Confederates, ever owned.

I've forgotten how many
thousands of years ago it was

that Brian's
great-great-great-great uncle owned it…

What I mean is I never figured out how
to get rid of it till just this minute.

Inspiration! I had only to break it,
and I was free of it forever.

- Simple.
- Well done.

- My lovely.
- Oh, that was wonderful.

Well done.

Brian, thank you so much
for a tea party that…

- Bye, Rene.
- …can never be matched.

- Staying for dinner?
- Oh, I can't tonight.

Oh. Right.
Too bad. Brian's got work, anyway.

- So glad to see you.
- So long.

Thank you so much.
We had a marvelous time.

Good to see you. Thank you.

- Then I beat Patrick in a race.
- Hat! Hat!

Race you up the steps! Can't catch me.

I'm not letting you have it. No!


My goodness.

- Heavens, my eyes are watering.
- I fear my fingers might fall off.

This wind is brutal!

Excuse me.

Oh, Mrs. Redfield! How do you do?

That was abrupt.

You just passed the only person I ever met
while disguised as a white woman.

Hello, Central Quincy 5-4-7-3.

Hello, is Mrs. Bellew in? It's urgent.


Never mind.

It isn't that urgent.

I'll try again later.



What are you doing? It's freezing.

Are we going to that party with Clare?

Have you ever been up to the sixth floor?

Of course!
My father was a janitor.

Back in the old days

when every ramshackle apartment
had its own elevator.


- Oh, you can't mean we have to walk up?
- All the way to the top.

Oh, Lord!

Why on earth would anyone live here?

She says it discourages
the casual visitor.

- Says she'd rather be dead than bored!
- Huh.

Damn these thin shoes.

What is it, Rene?

Have you ever thought of what you'd do
if John found out?


Don't fall by the wayside
before the fourth floor.

I absolutely refuse to carry anybody up
more than two flights.

And? What would you?

I'd do what I want
more than anything right now.

I'd come up here to live.

In Harlem. With you.


Come on, slowpoke.

…dinner at Eddie's,
then Leroy's, then Smalls.

Those dancers seem strange to anyone else?

- No, honey, just the liquor.
- That's why I've given it up.

- Since this morning?
- Yes.

And nothing in the least exciting
has happened...

- You're welcome.
- Thank you.

I wouldn't.
I've heard the drinks here aren't safe.

Irene, have you taken a vow
not to laugh again?

No. It's simply the rest of you
are so clever, I'm speechless.

You haven't a drink. What will you take?

Ginger ale and three drams of scotch.

Scotch first, then the ice,
then the ginger ale.

Don't attempt
to mix that yourself, Dave, honey.

- Have the butler make it.
- And the footman, would you?

- Yes, it's a perfect evening.
- Good.

Don't stand there.
Aren't you freezing?

Come. Come talk to me,
or at least listen to me gabble.

- Evening, can I help you?
- Let me in.

you've come to the wrong house.

I know where I am. Let me in.

Which apartment
are you looking for, sir?

- My wife is in there.
- Your wife?

No, sir, she's not here. I guarantee it.

- Excuse me, I think you're wrong.
- I'm not wrong.

- Do not come in!
- Sir, calm down.

- What's going on?
- Out of my way.

Can I help you?

I've been to the Redfields'
and I know she's with them.

Ralph, where's my drink?

Save yourself the trouble
and get out of my way.

I know what you're doing here. I know.

I'm Redfield.
What the devil's the matter...

You don't get to tell me what to do!
Any of you people!

It's best you leave.

You liar!

You're the only white man here.

You dirty liar.


Good Lord Jesus!

- Hurry.
- Quickly!


Go downstairs.

Her husband's just sitting there?

I don't know.

You don't know?

I don't know
for sure if she's dead.

I imagine he was
just trying to protect his wife.

Doesn't strike me
as particularly unusual.

Is she…

Is she…

Irene, you mustn't.

You'll make yourself sick.

I mean, she just tumbled over
and was gone.

Irene was there
beside her, weren't you?

This lady here?

You're sure she fell?

Her husband
didn't give her a shove or anything,

as Dr. Redfield here seems to think?

No. I'm quite sure she just fell
before anyone could stop her.

It was so quick, I…

- Careful.
- Anyone else notice anything?

- You mustn't.
- None of you saw how she fell?

- He was upset, that's true.
- So an accident?

I guess an accident, yeah.

That's what I thought.

I love you.

Death by misadventure,
I'm inclined to believe.

Let's go up
and have a look at that window.