Its just a flash—nothing really worked out, but you could give me an office and a girl and I could have something on paper for you in three days. Berners, costello and Bach did not even have to look at each other. Berners spoke for them all as he said firmly and gently: Thats no idea, pat. I cant put you on salary for that. Why dont you work it out further by yourself, suggested Bill Costello. And then lets see. Were looking for ideas—especially about the war. A man can think better on salary, said Pat.
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So here we have a situation like it Happened One night—only new. I see hedy lamarr— Oh, he knew how to talk to these boys if he could get to them, with something to say. Mr Berners still busy? He asked for the fifth time. Oh, yes, Mr Hobby. Mr Bill Costello and Mr Bach are in there. It was half-past five. In the old days he had just busted in sometimes and sold an idea, an idea good for a couple of grand because it was just the moment when they were very tired of what they were doing at present. He walked innocently out port and to another door in the hall. He knew it led through a bathroom right in to jack berners office. Drawing a quick breath he plunged so thats the notion, he concluded after five minutes.
Will you excuse me? This is a private call. He got it and walked out, and along the corridor. Finding an office with no name on it he went in and fell asleep on the couch. Ii, late that afternoon he returned to jack berners waiting rooms. He had an idea about a man who meets a girl in an office and he thinks shes a stenographer but she turns out to be a writer. He engages her as a stenographer, though, and they start for the south seas. It was a beginning, it was something to tell Jack, he thought—and, picturing Pricilla lined Smith, he refurbished some old business he hadnt seen used for years. He became quite excited about it—felt quite young for a moment and walked up and down the waiting room mentally rehearsing the first sequence.
And it turns out hes the man who painted the pictures many years ago. Its good but I dont get it, he said. Oh, its nothing, a short short maybe. Got any good picture ideas? Im in with all the markets here. Yes, this is Pricilla Smith, the girl said. After a minute she turned to pat.
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Well, thats very—very original advice, mr Hobby. Pat Hobby, he said. Can I wait here a minute? Man I came to see is at lunch. He sat down across from her and picked up a copy of a photo magazine. Oh, just let me mark that, she said quickly. He looked at the page which she checked.
It showed paintings being boxed and carted away to safety from an art gallery in Europe. Howll you use it? Well, movie i thought it would be dramatic if there was an old man around while they were packing the pictures. A poor old man, trying to get a job helping them. But they cant use him—hes in the way—not even good cannon fodder. They want strong young people in the world.
I think hes left Hollywood, she said in answer to his question. They gave me his office but they forgot to put up my name. Pat asked in surprise. I work. You ought to get em to give you a test. Whats that youre reading.
Let me give you a tip, he said. Thats not the way to get the guts out of a book. Ive been here for years—Im Pat Hobby—and i know. Give the book to four of your friends to read. Get them to tell you what stuck in their minds. Write it down and youve got a picture—see?
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Theyd slit your gizzard. Now what to do? He went up database and wandered along the cell block of writers. Almost everyone had gone to lunch and those who were in he didnt know. Always there were more and more unfamiliar faces. And he had thirty credits; he had been in the business, publicity and script-writing, for twenty years. The last door in the line belonged to a man he didnt like. But he wanted a place to sit a minute so with a knock he pushed it open. The man wasnt there—only a very pretty, frail-looking girl sat reading a book.
When Pat didnt answer Jack looked at him—he saw a sort of whipped misery in Pats eye that reminded him of his own father. Pat had been in the money before jack was out of college—with three cars and a chicken over every garage. Now his clothes looked as if hed been standing at Hollywood and Vine for three years. Scout met around and talk to some of the writers on the lot, he said. If you can get one of them interested in your idea, bring him up to see. I hate to give an idea without money on the line, pat brooded pessimistically, these young squirtsll lift the shirt off your back. They had reached the commissary door. Anyhow were not in Poland. —good youre not, said Pat under his breath.
notion about the boy scout. But Jack said cheerfully: ive got a date for lunch, pat. Write it out and send it around, eh? He felt cruel because he knew Pat couldnt write anything out but he was having story trouble himself. The war had just broken out and every producer on the lot wanted to end their current stories with the hero going to war. And Jack berners felt he had thought of that first for his production. So write it out, eh?
The director took care of the gags. After talkies came he always teamed up with some man who wrote dialogue. Some young man who liked to work. Ive got a list of credits reviews second to none, he told Jack berners. All I need is an idea and to work with somebody who isnt all wet. He had buttonholed Jack outside the production office as Jack was going to lunch and they walked together in the direction of the commissary. You bring me an idea, said Jack berners. We cant put a man on salary unless hes got an idea.
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A man in the way, by Scott Fitzgerald. I, pat Hobby could essay always get on the lot. He had worked there fifteen years on and off—chiefly off during the past five—and most of the studio police knew him. If tough customers on watch asked to see his studio card he could get in by phoning lou, the bookie. For lou also, the studio had been home for many years. He was a writer but he had never written much, nor even read all the originals he worked from, because it made his head bang to read much. But the good old silent days you got somebodys plot and a smart secretary and gulped benzedrine structure at her six or eight hours every week.