ANNOUNCER: The Columbia Broadcasting System presents "Close-Ups," the first in
a series of adventures of an independent motion picture company. The star
system has always been a costly one for independent producers, and Max Cohen,
a kindly but excitable producer, conceives a brilliant scheme to avoid using
high-priced stars. His plan is to hire the best director available, secure the
best stories, and create stars out of two good-looking extras. He hires
John Herr, famous Hollywood director, his able assistant Eddie, an ace
cameraman, Hank, and then chooses from the ranks of extra players a girl named
Gwendolyn D'Arcy and a leading man named Mortimer Willoughby.
If John Herr had known what he would be up against with these two extras, too
suddenly converted into featured players, he would never have signed the
contract to direct them. Gwendolyn and Mortimer become jealous of each other,
they snub all their former "extra" friends and make life generally miserable
for everyone. We find them now halfway through their first starring picture,
"Islands of Desire," a south sea picture. They are on location at Santa Cruz
Island, about thirty miles from the California mainland. The cameras are set
up by a lovely tropical pool, and Gwendolyn, made up as a south sea maiden, is
standing waist deep in the pool surrounded by other native girls. Mr. Herr,
the director, is rehearsing the scene.
HERR: That's lovely, Gwendolyn--now, come out of the water and stand on the
edge looking at your reflection--fine--now place that flower behind your ear--
now stretch your arms above your head--not too fast--Hey! What are you doing?
I didn't say anything about an Hawaiian dance.
GWENDOLYN: (Shivering.) I-I-I'm not d-d-dancing, M-Mr. H-Herr. I'm c-c-cold
and I can't s-s-stand s-still.
HERR: Ye gods! Do I have to go to the equator to get these simple scenes? Just
look at Mortimer. Spends five minutes in the water, and then has to build a
fire and wrap up in a blanket.
GWENDOLYN: Well, c-can I h-help it if I-I'm c-cold?
HERR: But how do you think I can get a close-up of you two if you're shivering
GWENDOLYN: Oh, a c-close-up? I-I think I'll be all r-right for a c-close-up,
MORTIMER: (Fading in.) D-d-did you s-s-say a c-close-up, M-Mr. Herr?
HERR: Good Lord! I've directed pictures for fifteen years, and never have I
seen any two actors so crazy for close-ups.
MORTIMER: B-but, M-Mr. Herr--
HERR: (Sarcastically.) Shut up! Now, Mortimer, do you feel warm enough for a
short scene or do you want me to change the story and have you play the part
of an Indian chief wrapped up in his blanket?
MORTIMER: I-I think I'll be all right if I-I j-just run up and down a few
HERR: What! Say, if I lose my temper I'll guarantee to make it warm enough to
suit both of you.
HANK: Better hurry, Chief. The sun's gettin' low and we can't get many more
HERR: Oh, nuts! We'd better lay off this scene till tomorrow. Maybe it'll be
HANK: Yeah! California's unusual weather, eh? Okay, what do you want to take
HERR: Oh, set up for a medium shot where Gwendolyn and the girls find Mortimer
when he's washed ashore from the wreck.
HANK: Okay, but we'll have to get it fast.
GWENDOLYN: Do I get a close-up where I first see Mortimer? I think it would
help the picture if you showed a long close-up of me when I first see Mortimer
and register love at first sight.
HERR: (Sarcastically.) Oh, you do, eh? Don't you ever read your script? That
love at fist sight stuff is out, Gwendolyn. Don't try to tell me what to do.
I'm sick of--
GWENDOLYN: But Mr. Herr, if I could show my--you see, if I could show my--
HERR: You're going to show all the censors will allow, but no love at first
sight! Now go fix your make-up and get ready.
MORTIMER: I say, Mr. Herr, don't I get a close-up where I'm lying on the beach
before Gwendolyn finds me?
HERR: (Sputtering.) If I hear any more about--
MORTIMER: I think it would be immense, showing how weak I am and all that, you
COHEN: (Fading in.) Ahah! I heard you that time, Mortimer. And you, too,
Gwendolyn. That's just why I came along this trip. Mr. Herr has been telling
me how you two are always fighting for close-ups.
GWENDOLYN: But Mr. Cohen, when are you going to keep your promise and star me?
Mortimer has had the star part in the last two pictures. He gets all the
COHEN: So what could I do? Change the stories? They were men's stories,
weren't they? For a nickle I'd-I'd--
GWENDOLYN: (Frightened and soft-soaping.) Now, please don't be cross with me.
I promise not to say another word about a star part.
COHEN: (Mollified.) That's a good girl, Gwendolyn. If you don't cause Mr. Herr
any more trouble maybe I'll buy that story "The Old Curiosity Shop." My
scenario writer tells me there's a good part in it for you.
GWENDOLYN: (Delighted.) Oh, Mr. Cohen, that would be just too wonderful! Do
you hear that, Mortimer? Mr. Cohen is going to make "The Old Curiosity Shop"
and I'm going to play little Nell.
MORTIMER: (Laughs.) Little Nell, eh? You'd do better in a character part. More
in keeping with your real age.
GWENDOLYN: Humph! Jealous, eh? Maybe he'll do Old Scrooge and give you your
long-looked-for break. Oh, Mr. Cohen, how can I ever thank you? Why, that is
the most popular story Charles Dickens wrote.
COHEN: That's what that scenario fellow said. Now, Gwendolyn, if you make me
proud of you on this picture and stop quarreling with Mortimer, I'll--well,
I'll get Charles Dickens to supervise the picture. I don't care what it costs.
I always believe the author should--
MORTIMER: What! Charles Dickens! Oh, I say, that is--(laughs uproariously.)
COHEN: (Mad.) So, and what's so funny about that? Are you jealous because I
want to hire a famous writer to supervise a picture for Gwendolyn?
MORTIMER: (Laughing.) Oh, boy, that's rich! Go to it, Gwendolyn, I hope you
and Charles Dickens get along well.
HERR: (Off; sharply.) Mortimer!--Come here! (Pause, then low.) Shut up, you
chump! Don't make fun of the finest little man in the world. Cohen may not be
educated, but, by George, he's a real man and he's given you a chance no other
producer in the business would give you. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
MORTIMER: (Embarrassed.) But, Mr. Herr--I--
EDDIE: All ready for the scene, Mr. Herr.
HERR: All right. Now here's the scene. Mortimer, you are--
HANK: Wait a minute, it ain't all right, chief. There goes the sun. We'll have
to call it a day.
COHEN: What! And we ain't shot more than three scenes all day?
HANK: I can't control the sun, Mr. Cohen. I'm doin' the best I know how.
COHEN: Is that so? Well, who asked you if you could control the--
HERR: Never mind, Max. We'll make up for it tomorrow. We'll get an early start
and I'll make those scenes with Mortimer and Gwendolyn if they look like a
couple of shimmy dancers.
EDDIE: Callin' it a day, chief?
HERR: Yes. Pack up, Eddie. (Fading.) By Judas, why did I ever sign up to
direct a couple of lens lice like these? There isn't enough money.... (Etc.,
ANNOUNCER: We are most happy to tell you that the scenes on Santa Cruz Island
were taken without further mishap, but now we come to the return to the
studio. The channel is, well, quite choppy and the weather threatening. The
small steamer engaged for the trip is none too commodious either, and Mr. Herr
insists upon taking a few necessary scenes on the way back to the mainland.
BIZ: HEAVY SEA AND EFFECTS.
HERR: Captain Eaton, I want to get a few scenes. How about it?
CAPTAIN: It's a dangerous chance you're taking in this choppy sea, Mr. Herr,
but I hired to do the job, and I'll go through with it.
HERR: That's the spirit.
BIZ: ENGINE BELL.
CAPTAIN: (Calling.) Stand by the port lifeboat, Mr. Hanson!
HANSON: Aye, aye, sir.
BIZ: ENGINE BELL.
CAPTAIN: Hold her steady as she is!
HELMSMAN: (Off.) Steady as she is, sir.
CAPTAIN: You'll have to get the scenes fast, Mr. Herr. I can't heave this boat
to in this sea without rolling heavily.
HERR: All right, folks! Mortimer, this is the scene--
MORTIMER: Do I have to get into that little lifeboat, Mr. Herr?
HERR: There's no danger, Mortimer, and Captain Eaton's men are all good
MORTIMER: But this steamer is rocking badly, and that little boat will be
pitched about like a cork. I'm beginning to feel sick already.
HERR: (Mad.) Don't you dare get seasick until after this scene. I won't stand
GWENDOLYN: (Giggles.) When you get through your big scene, Mortimer, I'll give
you a nice piece of fat bacon--on a string.
COHEN: (Groans.) Ai, gewalt! You should talk about bacon at a time like this.
(A big groan.)
HERR: Now, look what you've done with your smartness, Gwendolyn.
GWENDOLYN: Oh, Mr. Cohen, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to say anything to make
you sick. I only mentioned bacon to--
COHEN: (Big groan.) Oh, oh, I'm going to die! Stop the boat! I want to get
right off! Oh, I'm going to die right here. (Big groan.)
MORTIMER: (Weakly.) Hurry, Mr. Herr--I-I'm-I'm afraid I'm going to be sick.
HERR: (Storming.) And I tell you if you get sick I'm going to--I'm going to--
will you shut up about getting sick. I'm beginning to feel funny myself.
CAPTAIN: What do you want my men to do, Mr. Herr?
HERR: I'll explain the scene. Eddie, get your actors here, and Mortimer,
CAPTAIN: Don't waste any time, Mr. Herr, as it's going to be difficult to
launch the lifeboat in this heavy sea.
HERR: All right! Now listen carefully, everybody. This ship is sinking
and I want all--
COHEN: (Yell of fright.) I knew it, I knew it! Why didn't I let that salesman
sell me that life insurance?
HERR: (Interrupting.) No, no, Max, I'm just explaining the scene and--
COHEN: I don't care, John, I hope it does sink! (Big groan.)
HERR: Go lie down, Max. You'll be all right soon. Now listen, men. This ship
is supposed to be sinking and you men are taking advantage of it and
mutinying. You have killed the captain and disarmed the mate--that's Mr.
Willoughby here. In this scene you're making a rush for the lifeboat when Mr.
Willoughby tries to stop you. Mr. Curtis?
CURTIS: Yes, sir.
HERR: Mr. Curtis, you're the bo'sun, and you hit the mate with a belaying pin.
CURTIS: (Low.) With pleasure.
HERR: Then, as he falls down on the deck you lower the boat and leave the
ship. Let Captain Eaton's men handle the boat--the rest of you just pile in.
Are you ready with the camera, Hank? Oh, my Lord, are you sick, too? Come on,
snap out of it and let's get this scene.
HANK: (Weakly.) I'm going to kill that female for talking about food. I was
all right until she spoke about that bacon.
COHEN: (Frightful groan.) Oh, stop the boat, stop the boat!
HERR: Say, Max, can't you go somewhere else on the boat to get sick?
CAPTAIN: Please hurry, Mr. Herr. We'll capsize in this sea if we aren't
MORTIMER: Mr. Herr, I--I can't hold it much longer.
HERR: All right, all right! Now, Mortimer, you're standing by the dead
captain and--say, where is the actor who's playing the captain?
EDDIE: He's seasick, chief. Can you hold up a minute?
HERR: (Mad.) No! If he's sick let him lie down on the deck. He's supposed to
be dead anyhow.
MAN: (Fading in groaning.) I wish I was dead, Mr. Herr. Where do you want me?
HERR: Just lie down where you are. Only don't move no matter what happens.
MAN: Not even if I'm sick again?
HERR: No! You can hold it as well--as well--(Groans.)
MORTIMER: If you don't hurry I'm going to be sick myself and--
HERR: (Gulps.) All right! Stand over the dead captain, Mortimer. We
won't rehearse the scene. There's nothing to it but natural action. Just say
anything you want and act like real mutineers. All ready, sound?
BIZ: CLAP STICKS.
MORTIMER: (On cue.) Look here, you men can't desert the ship!
SAILOR 1: Oh, we can't, eh? Get out of our way.
SAILOR 2: Don't waste time with the likes of him, Red.
MORTIMER: There's a woman on board this vessel and--(Fades, groaning.)
HERR: Oh, cut! Don't lower the boat, men! Mortimer, who told you to go to the
MORTIMER: (Off.) I-I told you I couldn't hold it much longer.
HERR: You're going to get this scene if you die right afterwards. Get back
there and try it again.
MORTIMER: (Off.) Just--just a minute, Mr. Herr. (Terrible groan.) There--I--
feel better--I--I think I can do it now.
GWENDOLYN: (Giggles.) You just did it, Mortimer. Fifteen feet if it was an
inch. It's a record, Mortimer.
HERR: Will you shut up, Gwendolyn, and get away from here. Now men, I'll fade
out as soon as you start to lower the boat. This sea is running too high to
take any chances.
EDDIE: All ready, chief.
HERR: Good. Ready sound?
BIZ: CLAP STICKS.
MORTIMER: (On cue.) You can't leave the ship like this. Get back to the pumps.
SAILOR 1: Get out of our way!
MORTIMER: There's a woman aboard this ship and you'll have--
SAILOR 2: Aw, knock him down, bo'sun, and let's get goin'.
MORTIMER: Get away from that lifeboat! I'll--
BIZ: BLOW: GROAN: FALL OF BODY.
SAILOR 3: That's the stuff, bo'sun. That'll fix him.
CURTIS: Now, lower away.
BIZ: DAVITS, ETC.
HERR: Cut, Cut! Don't lower away that boat any more, men. That's all of this
EDDIE: (Weakly.) Any more scenes, Chief?--Gosh, this--this motion is--
HERR: (Weakly.) No! Pack up, Eddie--that's all we--we can do with this ship--
rocking like--like--(Groans.) Oh,--now I'm sick! (Fading.) Ohhhhhhhhhh!
Gimme room at that rail--quick!
Originally broadcast 17 January 1929
Script by James Whipple