LIMELIGHT (1952) – Calvero

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Calvero’s 2nd Dream Sequence

‘The glamour of limelight, from which age must pass as youth enters’

 

Charles Chaplin / Claire Bloom / Nigel Bruce / Sydney Chaplin / Norman Lloyd / Buster Keaton / Andre Eglevsky / Melissa Hayden / Marjorie Bennett / Wheeler Dryden / Barry Bernard / Snub Pollard / Mollie Glessing / CinematographyKarl Struss / Art DirectionEugene Lourie / Original Music, Screenplay, Producion & DirectionCharles Chaplin
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Spring is here.

Birds are calling.

Skunks are crawling.

Wagging their tails..

For love..

Spring is here

Whales are churning.

Worms are squirming.

Wagging their tails..

For love..

What is this thing?

On which I sing?

That makes the whole world bewitched?

What is this thing?

That comes each Spring?

That gives us all the itch?

Oh.. it’s..

Love!

It’s love! love, love, love, love, love,

Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love..

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CALVERO – Pardon me, but have you a fly swatter?

THE GIRL – I beg your pardon?

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CALVERO – Now, if you come beggin’ around here..

I shall call the Police..

THE GIRL – I repeat, I beg your pardon.

CALVERO – I don’t care what you repeat, or what you’ve eaten.
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THE GIRL – I’ve eaten nothing.
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CALVERO – You haven’t? Poor dear, here’s tuppence..
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..get yerself a sandwich.
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THE GIRL – Sir, I demand an apology.
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CALVERO – An apology? I don’t know you. Who are you?
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Who are your people? Are you in the Social Register?
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THE GIRL – My name, happens to be Smith.
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CALVERO – Never heard of them
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THE GIRL – Ha! That shows you’re asinine.
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CALVERO – I should have worn my overcoat.
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However, you’ve interrupted me in the middle of my sonnet.
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THE GIRL – In the middle of your what?
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CALVERO – Not in the middle of my ‘what‘, in the middle of my sonnet.
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My ‘Ode to a Worm’..
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Oh! Worm! Why do you turn into the earth from me?
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Tis Spring! Oh, worm.
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Lift up your head, whichever end it may be,
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And smile at the sun!
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And twine your naked form,
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And with your tail fling high the dirt,
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In ecstasies to Spring,
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Tis Spring..
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Tis Spring..’
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THE GIRL – Ridiculous! A worm smiling at the sun!
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CALVERO – Why not?
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THE GIRL – In the 1st place, a worm cannot smile..
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CALVERO – How do you know? Did you ever appeal to it’s sense of humour?
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THE GIRL – Of course not.
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CALVERO – Weeeell, then.
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THE GIRL – But, it doesn’t make sense!
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CALVERO – Ha! But why should poetry have to make sense?
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Don’t you know there’s such a thing as Poetic license?
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THE GIRL – Just a moment, I’ve given you no license!
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CALVERO – Oh, no.. don’t.
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This thing we’re doing is so much bigger than ourselves.
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At this moment I’m beginning to grasp the meaning of life.
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Oh, what a waste of energy.
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(Sniffs the air)
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What is this urge, that makes life go on, and on, and on?
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THE GIRL – You’re right, what does it all mean? Where are we going?
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CALVERO – You’re going South, dear.
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(Removes the Girl’s hand from his pocket)
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Naughty!
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THE GIRL – How did it get there?
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CALVERO – Pure magnetism, old dear! Pure magnetism!
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THE GIRL – Why are you so antagonistic towards me?
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CALVERO – Must we be serious?
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THE GIRL – You make it difficult for me to know you.
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CALVERO – You should read my memoirs.. in the Police Gazette.
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THE GIRL – You’re a funny man.
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CALVERO – Why?
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THE GIRL – To talk about worms in the way you do.
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CALVERO – Why not? Even flies are romantic.
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THE GIRL – Flies?
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CALVERO – Oh, yes! Haven’t you seen ’em..
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..comin’ from the stable to the table?
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Chasin’ each other over the nobs of sugar..
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..and keepin’ their appointments in the butter?
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Surely you’ve read ‘The Life of the Bee’ ?
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THE GIRL – No, I haven’t
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CALVERO – Well..
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..the bee’s behaviour in the beehive is un bee-lievable.
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THE GIRL – Reeeeally.
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CALVERO – Ah Achooooo! Oh, oh.. pardon me..
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THE GIRL – Gesundheit.
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CALVERO – Certainly does.
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THE GIRL – I beg your pardon?
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CALVERO – The dress. It goes on rather tight.
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You’re awfully dusty tonight, dear. Awfully dusty, turn around.
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Where do they keep you? On the top shelf or something? Mm..
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(Tastes the dust on the Girl’s shoulder with the tip of a feather duster)
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Fuller’s Earth? Johnson’s Power? I know.. corn starch!
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THE GIRL – Just think.. all life, motivated by love. How beautiful!
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CALVERO – By the contrary, it’s vile. Wretched. Awful.
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Hmm.. But it’s wonderful!
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THE GIRL – I like you.
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CALVERO – Reaaaally?
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THE GIRL – You’re sensitive, you feel things.
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CALVERO – Now, don’t encourage me!
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THE GIRL – Few people have the capacity to feel.
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CALVERO – Or the opportunity.
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(Offers the duster, as though it were a bunch of flowers)
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Use them, for only what you wish, dear.
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PRODUCTION STILLS
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My Wonderful World of Slapstick

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MY WONDERFUL WORLD OF SLAPSTICK 

by Buster Keaton & Charles Samuels

Excerpt from Chapter One :

 ‘If I say I “officially joined” my folks’ act in 1899 it is because my father always insisted that I’d been trying to get into the family act unofficially meaning unasked, unwanted, and unbilled practically from the day I was born. Having no baby sitter, my mother parked me in the till of a wardrobe trunk while she worked on the stage with Pop. According to him, the moment I could crawl I headed for the footlights. “And when Buster learned to walk’ he always proudly explained to all who were interested and many who weren’t, “there was no holding him. He would jump up and down in the wings, make plenty of noise, and get in everyone’s way. It seemed easier to let him come out with us on the stage where we could keep an eye. “At first I told him not to move. He was to lean against the side wall and stay there. But one day I got the idea of dressing him up myself as a stage Irishman with a fright wig, slugger whiskers, fancy vest, and over-size pants. Soon he was imitating everything I did, and getting laughs.

“But he got nothing at all at the first Monday show.. we played at Bill Dockstader’s Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware. Dockstader told me to leave him out of the act. But he had a special matinee for kiddies on Wednesday and suggested that children, knowing no better, might be amused by Buster’s antics.” On Wednesday Bill noticed that their parents also seemed amused and suggested I go on at all performances. Pop said he didn’t want to use me in the night show as I had to get my rest like any small child. Dockstader then offered to pay the act ten dollars a week extra. My father agreed to try it I had no trouble sleeping through the morning and played night and day with the act.

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Even in my early days our turn established a reputation for being the roughest in vaudeville. This was the result of a series of interesting experiments Pop made with me. He began these by carrying me out on the stage and dropping me on the floor. Next he started wiping up the floor with me. When I gave no sign of minding this he began throwing me through the scenery, out into the wings, and dropping me down on the bass drum in the orchestra pit. The people out front were amazed because I did not cry. There was nothing mysterious about this. I did not cry because I wasn’t hurt. All little boys like to be roughhoused by their fathers.They are also natural tumblers and acrobats. Because I was also a born hambone, I ignored any bumps or bruises I may have got at first on hearing audiences gasp, laugh, and applaud. There is one more thing: little kids when they fall haven’t very far to go. I suppose a psychologist would call it a case of self-hypnosis. Before I was much bigger than a gumdrop I was being featured in our act, The Three Keatons, as “The Human Mop.”

One of the first things I noticed was that whenever I smiled or let the audience suspect how much I was enjoying myself they didn’t seem to laugh as much as usual. I guess people just never do expect any human mop, dishrag, beanbag, or football to be pleased by what is being done to him. At any rate it was on purpose that I started looking miserable, humiliated, hounded, and haunted, bedeviled, bewildered, and at my wit’s end. Some other comedians can get away with laughing at their own gags. Not me. The public just will not stand for it! And that is all right with me. All of my life I have been happiest when the folks watching me said to each other, “Look at the poor dope?” Because of the way I looked on the stage and screen the public assumed that I felt hopeless and unloved in my personal life. Nothing could be farther from the fact As long back as I can remember I have considered myself a fabulously lucky man. From the beginning I was surrounded by interesting people who loved fun and knew how to create it. I’ve had few dull moments and not too many sad and defeated ones…’

‘My Wonderfull World of Slapstick’

DaCapo Press (1960)

 

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