Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Case Study No. 1142: Mr. Wilkinson, Phil, and Lulu Smith

Tags: jenmarenc
Added: 4 years ago
From: jenmarenc
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[scene opens in a public library, as the elderly head of the library yawns in the entranceway]
MR. WILKINSON: Oh boy! Boy, what a day ...
[he glances up at the big clock above the reference desk]
MR. WILKINSON: Ten minutes after ten?
[he turns to his workers, one male and one female]
PHIL: Huh?
MR. WILKINSON: Call up the paper and tell 'em we've got a story for the front page! Ten minutes after ten, and Lulu ain't come to work yet!
PHIL: Is that news?
MR. WILKINSON: It's somethin' to write home about! I've been waiting eight years for that girl to come late, and now it's happened! Hee hee!
PHIL: Maybe she's got spring fever like you have ...
MR. WILKINSON: Lulu? She couldn't get any kind of fever!
FEMALE LIBRARIAN: If there'd been a wedding this morning, I'd understand it. She ain't missed a wedding in years!
MR. WILKINSON: Yes she has ...
[they all laugh, as Phil looks out the window]
PHIL: Here she comes now.
[cut to an exterior shot, as Lulu is walking down the street towards the library, when she looks down and sees "Mary loves Joe" scribbled in chalk on the sidewalk ... as she pauses, two young boys across the street begin taunting her]
BOYS: Old lady four-eyes! Old lady four-eyes! Old lady four-eyes!
[they run off, as Lulu enters the library and sits at her desk]
MR. WILKINSON: Lulu, do you know what time it is?
[she doesn't look at him, instead staring into space]
LULU: Springtime ...
[he leans in and holds her wrist like he's taking her pulse]
MR. WILKINSON: Clickety click, clickety click, clickety click, clickety--
[she suddenly gets up and begins shouting]
LULU: I wish I owned this library!
LULU: Because I'd get an axe and smash it to a million pieces! Then I'd set fire to the whole town, and play a uekele while it burned!
[she sits back down, as Mister Wilkinson stares at her in shock, then she opens her desk drawer and takes out a piece of paper ("Lulu Smith, 15 - 1197.68, 15 - 1212.68, 15 - 1227.68, 15 - 1242.68")]
[cut to Lulu standing in the bank, as the male teller is counting out money for her]
BANK TELLER: What're you drawing all your money out for? Investment?
LULU: Yes.
BANK TELLER: I hope you're not going into stock market.
BANK TELLER: Then what're you gonna invest your money in?
LULU: A vacation.
BANK TELLER: You mean to tell me you're gonna spend twelve hundred forty two dollars and sixty eight cents for--
LULU: Yes.
BANK TELLER: How long do you expect to be gone?
LULU: About two weeks.
LULU: Someplace where they don't know me.
[he shakes his head]
BANK TELLER: Lulu Smith, that's idiotic.
LULU: It's silly.
BANK TELLER: It's ridiculous!
LULU: It's insane ... but I'm going to do it!
LULU: Just because!
[he continues counting out the money, as Lulu takes off her glasses and focuses on a pamphlet across the room which reads "Havana: The Land of Romance"]


From tcm.com:

On an ocean voyage, a librarian falls for a married man in the Pre-Code soap opera, Forbidden (1932), starring Barbara Stanwyck and directed by Frank Capra.

In his autobiography, The Name Above the Title, Capra made it clear that he was still developing as a filmmaker during the period in which he made Forbidden. "Platinum Blonde recharged my cockiness," he wrote. "The less-than-miraculous Miracle Woman [also starring Stanwyck] was the only entry in my Columbia "loss" column. I demanded a rematch with "ideas." But this time, by George, on my terms. I would write my own "idea" film. I fancied I could write, anyway. So, with a very large assist from Fannie Hurst's Back Street, I wrote an "original" story, Forbidden...I had yet to learn that drama is not really just actors weeping and suffering all over the place. It isn't drama unless the audiences are emotionally moved. Actors' crocodile tears alone can't touch their hearts. But courage, faith, love, and sacrifices for others will - if believable. In spite of scriptwriter Jo Swerling's valiant efforts to write in some "bones," Forbidden ended up as two hours of soggy, 99.44% pure soap opera. Some critics moistened their reviews with tears, most burned them with acid. Forbidden was saved from the "loss" column by one or two directorial "gems" (sic), and the fine believable performances of Barbara Stanwyck, Adolphe Menjou, and Ralph Bellamy (one of his earliest films)."


From google.com:

"Forbidden" stars Barbara Stanwyck as Lulu Smith, a public librarian who is as bland and nondescript as her lifestyle and the town in which she works. When Lulu first appears on-screen, she is sauntering down a sidewalk to the library on a beautiful spring morning, as if in a daydream; it is the first time she has been late to work in eight years. She is wearing pince-nez, and two small boys across the street from the library yell, "old lady foureyes, old lady foureyes," and when she glances at them, they run off shouting over their shoulders, "old lady foureyes!" To these youngsters (and filmgoers) Lulu is an "only 38" individual.

A brunette (bun at nape), she dresses modestly - long sleeve, midcalf dress, low V neckline, and ruffled wide collar. When Lulu enters the library, she quietly maneuvers around her desk, replaces the flower on her desk with a fresh one, and sits. Her gray-haired, bespectacled library supervisor, Mr. Wilkinson (Thomas Jefferson), approaches, playfully holds her wrist as if measuring her pulse, and mimics her heartbeat, "Clickety-click, clickety-click, clickety-click, clickety ... " Lulu jumps up from her desk, interrupting Wilkinson's attempt at humor, and shouts "I wish I owned this library! I'd get an axe and smash it to a million pieces, then I'd set fire to the whole town, and play a ukulele while it burned!" She sits down as suddenly as she had jumped up, pulls her bank book from her desk, and reveals a balance of $1,242.68. The scene shifts immediately to Lulu in the bank withdrawing all of her money, then to a cruise ship on its way to Havana. Lulu's abroad, a new woman.


When Lulu jettisoned her eight-year-long occupation in brash anticipation that the future would be different, would be brighter, would permit her to participate fully in springtime, she no longer is a librarian, a circumstance that permits a transformation from commonplace to beautiful. As a librarian, Lulu possesses visual characteristics of the stereotype - "only 38" and wears pince-nez, a homely woman. She conforms to the image because she is a librarian. Even the low V-neckline of her dress does not deflect from Lulu's matronly image, although such a neckline permits more exposure than one would reasonably expect from an "only 38" librarian. Lulu's youth and beauty are submerged by her occupation, a restraining factor that is unleashed when she hastily departs the library for the Havana-bound cruise ship.


Lulu had a lifelong tumultuous affair, including a daughter out of wedlock, with a politician, a married district attorney named Bob Grover (Adolph Menjou) whom she meets on the Havana cruise and who could never muster the courage to divorce his wife and marry Lulu. Grover and his wife adopt Lulu's young child, who never learns that Lulu is her mother. Lulu marries a newspaperman, Grover's archenemy, who discovers that Grover is the child's father. Lulu's husband threatens to expose Grover as the father of her child on the evening he is winning the gubernatorial election. Lulu finds a revolver, shoots her husband, and burns the damning evidence. She is imprisoned but pardoned by Governor Grover, who is ill and dying. At film's end, Lulu is at Grover's bedside when he dies; walking away, Lulu tosses into a trash can the governor's hastily written death-bed will granting one-half of his estate to her and acknowledging that she is the mother of his daughter. Although Lulu professes to be happy with Grover, this could not have been the life she envisioned when she left the library with her bankbook.

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