Feature Drama | 1920 | Silent | B/W
"Nazzer Singh, a Hindu hypnotist, who talks little and thinks much. Thoedore Kosloff." The curtains part to reveal a man dressed in black, wearing a feathered head dress. Vivian looks on, smiling. Either side of the hypnotist stand smoking incense bowls. He says "Which one of you will consent to be my subject?" He looks around the room, everyone backs away, shaking their heads. His eyes settle on Vivian, who turns to meet his gaze, terrified. He offers her his hand and she rises slowly and walks to meet him. The women watching all lower their forkfuls of food and glasses. Nazzer looks at her, passing his hand slowly across her face. Anatol looks up from where he's talking to a friend to see Vivian on stage. Nazzer says to her "Listen well to me! Below you is a little stream of water - you must wade to the other side!" One of the guards sets down a seat by Vivian which she curls up on, looking down at the stream which runs at her feet. Anatol looks on, horrified as Vivian unbuckles her shoes and rolls off her stockings. The audience look on entranced. She lifts up her skirts and dips her toes in the water. The onlookers applaud. Anatol marches up to the stage, fuming. He tries to stop Vivian but she brushes him off. At last he picks her up and carries her, saying to Nazzer saying "Bring her out of this - my wife isn't in the habit of undressing in public!" Vivian lays in Anatol's arms, weak. Nazzer passes his hands across her face and she comes to. She looks up at Anatol, beaming, then realizes she's on stage. She tries to cover her bare lags as the audience applaud, and buries her face in Anatol's arms. Nazzer gestures to the crowd and dozens of volunteers run up. Backstage, Vivian is distraught, she holds her clenched fists to her head. Anatol says to her "Let me take you away from all this rotten, hypocritical crowd! Let's go to some clean, sweet place in the country where people are honest and decent and find ourselves again!" Vivian beams at him, then hesitates, saying "I'll go with you to the country, Tony, if I can be sure there'll be milk - but no milkmaids!" Anatol crosses his heart. She holds onto him as he puts her stockings back on, they smile together. "So Vivian and a very self-righteous Anatol motor to the country - oblivious to the fact that destiny sits laughing at them from an old fashioned farm house."
A man leads two horses alongside a garden fence, a dog runs at his side. In a tree-lined field, cows graze. "Annie, the farmers wife, who struggles constantly between her love for pretty clothes - and her love for a husband who believes in 'saving'. Agnes Ayres." In a country dining room, Annie sits admiring a hat that she's making, choosing flowers to stick to it. She looks across at an illustration of the hat in a magazine."Abner Eliot, the church treasurer who, though proud of his young wife, believes it more important to keep a comfortable roof over her head - than a pretty hat on it. Monte Blue." A young man comes through the door to the cottage, hanging up his hat. Annie looks up at him, they smile at one another, and she shows off her hat. Abner gets up, Annie holds on to him, but he says "I'm goin' to count the church money before the meetin' tonight - so jes' get me the key to my strong-box." Annie, looking nervous, clutches her hands. Abner takes down the box then, looking confused, shakes it softly. Annie's eyes grow wide. Abner glares across at her and walks over to where she sits holding out his hand. She shakes her head, then reaches down her bodess for the key. He opens the box and, finding it empty, yells "What have you done with the money they trusted to me?" She shakes her head, then runs to a cupboard. Taking down a square parcel, she pulls out a dress and pins it up against her, smiling. She looks up at him, saying "I didn't know it belonged to the church, or I wouldn't have taken it! Every time I asked you for money, you said it had to go for the farm - and I just wanted to look pretty for you, dear!" He glares down at her and rips the dress from her hands, throwing it to the ground and stamping on it. He pushes her down, threatening her with his whip. He says "How can I face the meetin' tonight and tell 'em my wife is a common thief! Do you think they'll forgive you - because you look so pretty!" She crouches in the corner, sobbing. Abner prods her and motions she go, he stands by the door, waiting for her to leave. He says "You can go where you please. I'll take the blame before the meetin' - and let them send me to prison!" She bows her head and walks out the door. Abner closes it, leaning against it. On a lake, Anatol rows a small boat, while Vivian lies reading a magazine in the front. He points out things of interest and she nods politely, then goes back to her book. He says "This is the real life! No deceit or hypocrisy here - only beauty and purity everywhere!" Annie, distraught, stumbles onto a bridge, looking down into the dark water below. She suddenly rings her hands, looks up to the heavens and throws herself into the water just as Anatol and Vivian row under the bridge. They hurriedly move the boat to where she splutters. In the cottage, Abner kneels in prayer. Anatol fishes Annie out of the water, Vivian helps to row them to the river bank. "If you have ever applied first aid from memory - then you know that the patient occasionally lives in spite of your efforts!" Anatol wades to the shore, carrying Annie in his arms. Vivian jumps out of the boat after them. Anatol squeezes Annie to get the water out of her lungs but Vivian, watching cries "Don't do that - you'll kill her!" She pulls the pillow he has propped her head up with and stuffs it under her feet. Anatol says "Don't do that - you only raise the feet for fainting fits!" Vivian replaces the pillow as Anatol massages her stomach. Vivian says "Don't do that - that's for colic!" As Anatol pumps her arms, Vivian waves smelling salts under her nose. Anatol says "Hold her tongue out - you always do that to keep them from choking!" Vivian, her hands held out because they are covered in smelling salts, tries to take the girls tongue but gives up. Anatol cries - "I know what you do for drowning - you roll them on a barrel!" Vivian and Anatol both walk off to find a barrel, leaving the girl who, as soon as they've gone, blinks and wakes up. She looks to where Vivian's mirror lies in the sand and preens her hair, then passes out again. Vivian, who has been watching, puts her hands on her hips, dropping the basin she's found, and struts over, shaking the girl to wake her up. Anatol walks over and Vivian stands up to whisper in her ear "She's no more drowned than you are - I saw her looking in my mirror to fix her hair!" Anatol looks at Vivian, shaking his head, saying "You've been mixed up with that rotton, hypocritical city set so long - that you don't know a sweet, pure country girl when you see one!" Vivian, adamant, folds her arms. Anatol says "I'll stay here and work with her - you jump in the car and bring the nearest doctor!"
Vivian, unhappy with the arrangement, starts to exercise the girls arms and motions Anatol to get into the car. He shakes his head, she leans close to him and says "Be careful Tony, remember what I said about milk maids!" And she races off to get in the car. Meanwhile, Anatol, moving the girls arms, stops as he sees that she's coming round. He holds her in his lap and their eyes meet. She cries "Why, oh why did you save me - I want to die!" Anatol wraps the girl in his jacket and puts his arms around her. He says "No matter what the reason - a girl as young and beautiful as you are, has every right to live!" She looks into his eyes. Her hand drops from her lap and lands on Anatol's wallet which dropped out of his pocket. She feels it and, glancing down, quickly flicks through to see how much is in there. She looks up at him and asks him -"If you're desperate - and suddenly find in your hand the thing that will make you happy - have you the right to take it?" She looks up at him and he nods. She smiles and reaches for his wallet. He goes on suddenly "Provided it injures on one else - I think you're entitled to take your happiness where you can find it!" She beams up at him, moving closer. Vivian and the doctor pull up at the wooded side of the river and Vivian leads the way to where Anatol and Annie stand, looking into one another's eyes. Annie says "You will forget me - but I shall never forget you! What a lucky girl the woman will be who marries you!" As Vivian and the doctor arrive, Annie drapes herself around Anatol's shoulders and they kiss. Vivian watches, horrified. The girl suddenly takes flight and Anatol watches her go, smiling. Vivian runs off, the doctor walks up to Anatol who says with a smile "I cured her, Doc, I used first aid!" To which the doctor replies "Yes, I saw you" Anatol smoothes his hair and grins saying "But you must let me reimburse you for your trouble!" Anatol puts his hands in his pockets, pats his jacket, then, realizing what's happened, says "Isn't there any place in the world where a man can find honesty and loyalty?" The doctor, passing Anatol his jacket, says "I've found, my Boy, through long experience, that honesty and loyalty - like charity - generally begin at home!" Anatol, with determination, snatches up Vivian's handbag just as she, having pinned a note for him to a tree, jumps into the car and speeds off. Anatol struts up to the road, the doctor smiling after him. He reaches where the car should be and, looking around confused, sees the note pinned to the tree. He opens it - "As you've evidently found the kind of country innocence you're looking for I've taken the car and gone home. V" Anatol stands, geese waddling at his feet and says to them "Greetings brothers!" In the farmhouse, Abner looks sadly into the empty strong-box. Annie creeps in and he looks around. They reach out to one another and embrace. He feels her wet hair and clothes with a confused expression. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out the money. Abner gasps and smiles, flicking through it. His brows furrow and, pointing to her, says "Didn't do nothin' wrong did ye?" Annie avoids his gaze and walks to the window. He asks her where she got the money and she replies hesitantly "I tried to kill myself - but a kind old man saved me! I told me all my troubles exactly as if I had been his daughter - and I got the money from him!" Abner holds her, looking to the heavens and says "That kind old man must have been an angel sent to help us." Anatol walks, alone, down a long country road, his jacket in his hand. "There may be great joy in heaven over one sinner that repents, but Anatol is not in heaven."
Anatol arrives home, carrying Vivian's handbag and a large square box. He talks to the butler who motions that Vivian is in the next room. She lies in bed, writing in her diary - "Have decided to leave Anatol - thank goodness I haven't any children!" Anatol knocks on the door, she refuses to let me in. He takes a gift out of the box. She opens a hatch in the door to talk to him. He stuffs the gift through. She grimaces at it and says "Wives - as well as worms, can turn, and this time I'm through!" He reaches through the hatch-way, taking her hand and kissing it. But she wrenches it free saying "You're not community property! I'll share my purse and my food, and my home, but I'm through with sharing you!" He sticks his arm through the hatch, trying to unlock the door from the inside, but she locks it, putting the key down her front. He says "I give you fair warning. If you don't unlock this door - I'll go out and find a way to forget!" She shrugs her shoulders. He throws down the gift he bought her and, going to his room, rifles through his drawers saying to the butler "Get out my dress clothes - I'm going out to paint the Gay White Way a little redder!" He rips off his tie. Vivian has her maid bring her piles of dresses, saying "My lowest gown, my highest heels, Marie! If there's room for husbands on the Gay White Way - there's room for wives!" She snatches up some stockings, saying "I'll wear these Marie - men have only one religion - they worship the Golden Calf!" She sits, laughing, tearing off her stockings.
"Anatol finds the 'way to forget' at a certain famous roof - where the entertainment provided makes the feasts of Babylon look like a cafeteria!" Anatol, in top and tails, stands waiting, reading a program - Frederick Rhinefeld presents A Tableau Vivant. 'The Unattainable' The princess- Satan Synne." Anatol gestures to the manager, who says "I don't allow anybody backstage, Tony - but I'll introduce you. Though I warn you - you're playing with fire!" Anatol smiles "Satan Synne. For whom a rich man broke the market. A good man broke his word and a young man broke his heart. Bebe Daniels." A girl sits, dressed in black fur, hung with pearls, a maid tends to her shoes. Behind her, stage hands rush about. A boy brings her a huge basket of flowers which she ignores. She is introduced to Anatol, who says "I'm glad to meet the most talked about woman in New York, but I wonder if you're as wicked as you pretend to be." She laughs and beckons him to her dressing room. She says "The world has always had it mixed - the devils not a man but a woman! That's what every woman knows but doesn't tell!" He gestures, asking if he can come into her dressing room. But she looks him up and down, saying "I'm not the type of girl for a little boy like you to play with. The place for you is home!" Anatol nods and goes to leave but the manager calls him over, introducing him to three girls who stand glittering nearby. Satan Synne stands in the doorway to her dressing room, a boy walks up to her and delivers a telegram. Her face clouds over and she tears it open to read. "Satan Synne - He is sinking fast only possible chance is to get Johnston to operate cost you three thousand dollars knowing you have mortgaged everything including jewels won't go ahead without your sanction. Staines" Satan Synne clenches her fists to her mouth, then, looking over at Anatol, says to her maid - "Phone Staines right away to get Johnston at any cost!" She smartens herself up and poses, smiling for Anatol. He is under a parasol with a dark haired girl, he waves off Satan Synne. She picks up a rose and smells it seductively. He wanders over, the girl he's left behind looks on, hurt. Satan Synne says to Anatol -"You know - I've decided I rather like the lines of your back!" He moves to leave but she throws her rose in his path. She gives him her card. "Satan Synne -Devils cloister, 59 Riverside Drive." He nods at her and leaves. She looks once more at the telegram and leans against the doorway. "The Devils cloister, where eager young devotees go to worship Satan Synne" The door is opened to Anatol by a woman dressed only in a bikini made of shells and a tasselled skirt. The woman leads Anatol through a complicated system of doors, over which a sign reads "He who would sup with the Devil must have a golden spoon." In Satan Synnes room she looks longingly at a picture of a soldier which she quickly hides as Anatol is shown in. She powders her neck with a black puff.
She stands up, wearing a black cape studded with pearls. She puts her hands on Anatol's shoulders, taking off his coat. She offers him a cigarette embossed with her initials. She lights it for him from a candle, then lifts up a pot of perfume to her nose called 'Le secret du diable' Anatol knocks something off her dressing table and stoops to pick it up. He holds it up - it's a diamond hung heart shaped pillow stabbed with arrows. He asks her about it, to which she replies "That's the heart of a fool - who thought he knew women!" She wrenches it from him and plunges a hat pin through it, throwing it to the floor. Anatol, wandering up to where she is draped on a chez-longue picks up another pillow on which is a picture of a mans head, a sword plunged through it, radiating streams of blood. He looks at her and she says "That's the soul of a man who took all and gave nothing!" She puts it down and rests her feet on it. When he sits down opposite her she motions to a bottle at his elbow. The label reads 'D'Absinthe Superieure' He turns it upside down into a stand where it drips slowly into a glass holding a sugar cube. He says "Wormwood - insidious as the lying eyes of women!" She laughs at him and, holding his hand, says - "It's the Devils sleeping potion - which puts mans memory to sleep!" The maid walks in to tell Satan Synne that there's a telephone call. Annoyed, she walks off. She puts the receiver to her ear - on the other end a nurse says to her -"We succeeded in getting Doctor Johnston - He's operating now - we'll phone the moment it's over!" She puts the receiver in its cradle and sobs into her hands. Anatol, looking around the room, sees his own reflection in the mirror, which turns into a skeleton. In fear, he takes up his coat and hat. Satan Synne walks up, saying "What's the matter, scared?" She wanders off and lies on the seat, she passes the glass of Absinthe to Anatol. He looks at her, curious and says to her "I don't quite 'get' you - what is your real reason for asking me here tonight?" She looks around nervously, then says "I'll tell you - are you game enough to loan me three thousand dollars - and ask no questions?" He nods at her and she smiles. He stands up, getting out his cheque book. He writes out the cheque, she watches over his shoulder.
As she reaches for it he holds it away saying "This is a very large amount of money - perhaps you wouldn't mind telling me who shares this apartment with you." She leaves her spider cloak in his hands and pulls aside a black curtain to reveal her bed - with the maid stood at the side, and a leopard lying on the floor. He jumps and she laughs at him, saying "What! A married man afraid of a leopard?" She motions to the maid who leads the leopard away. The telephone rings and Satan Synne gasps. She runs, leaving Anatol in her bedroom. She picks up the receiver, on the other end is a doctor in white. He says "We've finished the operation - but I regret to say that his heart is very weak and you mustn't be surprised if -" Satan Synne gasps and replaces the receiver. Anatol wanders out to investigate. She faints to the floor, still clutching the telephone. Anatol rushes to her. He lifts the telephone, the doctor is still on the other end. He says to Anatol "Her husband hasn't much chance! The shrapnel pierced both lungs! I'm sorry, for she's had the best surgeons in the country - through God knows how she got the money!" Anatol replaces the receiver. He looks down at Satan Synne, lying across a table. She comes round, lunging for the telephone. She grabs Anatol's lapels, sobbing up at him, saying "He's my husband, my sweetheart - and I love him. I'd sell my soul - if that would save his life!" She shows him the photograph in her locket, he pats her shoulder. She says "Now that the war is over, nobody remembers him any more - except me! And I can't see him die - I can't!" Anatol takes out the cheque and presses it into her hand. He leaves, wrapping himself in his coat. She sits on the floor, clutching the cheque. He stands over her and says "If this is what they call the gay life - I'm going back to my wife" She reaches up to him. He leans down and she kisses him on the forehead. He walks out, leaving her on the floor. "The great play wright, truth - always shows in some fifth act, the purpose of the play." Anatol drives home. He finds the butler asleep in an armchair. He goes, smiling, to his wife's room. He holds out his arms and turns on the light, only to find her room empty. He looks at his watch - it's almost five o'clock. Vivian sits in a nightclub, holding a bunch of balloons. Max, bleary eyed, sits next to her. She notices he is falling asleep and bursts a balloon in his face, laughing. He looks at his watch and moves to leave, but she holds him down, showering him with balloons. "The next morning, Anatol realizes that the bitterest draught a man can drink - is his own medicine." Anatol paces up and down in the study of their house, looking at his watch, in day clothes. Vivian staggers in, arm in arm with Max. Anatol, looking at his watch, sees that it is nine. Vivian starts to take off Max's coat. Anatol gestures at his watch. She says "You're not in the habit of allowing me to question you, when you come in and I reserve the same privilege!"
She walks off, leaving the two friends glaring at one another. Anatol raises his fist to Max, but Max holds him back, saying "Tony, I hope you aren't going to make a fool of yourself! Vivian only looks on me as your oldest friend - she's the most loyal little wife in the world!" Anatol, concerned, scratches his head and paces about. He comes back to Max, saying - "You'd say the same thing if she hadn't been loyal - wouldn't you?" Max nods and Anatol walks over to where Vivian's standing. He says "Last night I came back, Vivian, to tell you that I was sorry - and that you were the only thing in the world I wanted! And what do I find - a wife who returns at 9 o'clock in the morning and refuses to tell where she's been!" Vivian, dressed in a low-cut gown with feathers in her hair, holds a corsage in her hands, smiling. Anatol snatches it from her and throws it on the ground and she turns around glaring at him. She says "It's remarkable, isn't it - how tight a shoe can pinch, when it's on the other foot!" He struts up and down, saying "Vivian, unless you tell me where you were last night - I'll know you're guilty!" She shakes her head. He wrenches up her fur and motions she leave. She turns around, glaring at him, and takes it. Close up of her hands as she pulls off her wedding ring. She looks up at him and places it on the table, walking out. He picks it up, rolling it in his hands. The butler stops Vivian at the door with a card - Nazzer Singh, the hypnotist. Vivian smiles, telling the butler to invite him in. Anatol, walking up behind her, says no, but Vivian reinforces her order, and the butler walks off. Through an archway, Nazzer stands, he presses his palms on his chest and temples - looking up to the heavens. Anatol, looking on, rolls his eyes. Nazzer, wearing an intricate black robe and turban, sees Anatol out of the corner of his eye and walks into the room. Vivian, beaming, offers him her hand and he kisses it. Anatol moves to leave, then a crafty look comes over his face. Nazzer says to Vivian "You will pardon this early call, but I am leaving tonight for India - and I wish to say goodbye." He bows his head to her. Anatol suddenly advances and, taking Nazzer by surprise, shakes his hand. He turns to see Vivian skulking off. Anatol asks Nazzer "Can you hypnotise my wife again - and make her answer me truthfully, a question that means our life's happiness?" Nazzer looks around to see Vivian pinning a flower onto Max's lapel, they look up into one another's eyes. Anatol implores him and Nazzer eventually agrees - floating off in Vivian's direction with open arms. As Vivian turns to leave, she is impelled back, a fearful expression on her face. She drops the fur and corsage, turning slowly. Nazzer holds out his hand to her. He leads her over to where Anatol stands, Max watches nervously. Vivian sits down slowly. Max rushes over, trying to intervene, but Anatol holds him back, saying "I'm going to learn the truth, Max, if it smashes the three of us!" The three men stands around Vivian, seated. Nazzer looks down at her and says "You shall answer truthfully a certain question which your husband will ask you - and wake at his bidding!" Anatol asks Nazzer to leave, he bows and backs away. Max, worried, starts after him. Vivian sits, staring into space. Anatol touches Vivian's shoulder, but Max stops him, saying "If you insult your wife by asking her if she is true to you - you will never forgive yourself - and she will never forgive you!" Anatol brushes Max's hand off his shoulder. Max looks at him sadly, then walks out.
Anatol paces back and forth behind her chair, unsure of what to do. He says "Vivian, have you been - have you been -?" At the last minute he straightens up and looks across at Max who shakes his head and turns to walk out. Anatol walks in circles, tormented. He kneels down, putting his head on her hand. He looks up at her and says "Vivian, dear, I trust you! Wake up and kiss me!" Vivian's eyes loose their glazed quality and she comes round. She is impelled to kiss him. Max looks on in the doorway, smiling. He then lifts the flower Vivian put in his buttonhole to his nose and inhales deeply, holding it to him. Anatol puts the wedding ring back on Vivian's finger and she holds his head to her, looking up to the heavens. "All of which goes to prove that - There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, That it ill behoves any of us, to talk about the rest of us."
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