Maisie at the Movies

Source: Gertrude S. Walton, Maisie at the Movies (Philadelphia: The Penn Publishing Company, 1922)

Text: CHARACTER – A Shop-Girl. She is overdressed, wears her hair in extreme fashion and her nose is powdered white. She is chewing gum vigorously.

(Gropes way down aisle and pauses — addresses companion LILIAN.) S’awful dark in here, ain’t it, Lil? I think I see a coupla seats in here. Pardon me. (Climbs over two or three seats and settles self.) Y’gonna take yer hat off, Lilian? Let’s slink down in the seats and take a chance — our hats is so small anyhow; in fact I thought the very day I bought the hat that it would be so small that I wouldn’t hafta take it off in the movies.

I hope this ain’t a sad picture, Lilian, because I’m sure to cry over it. I’m so sympathetic, Lilian, and I’m worse ever since Joe and I had our falling out — I cry at the least thing — not that I care so much about Joe, y’understand, only it’s made me so sympathetic or somethin’. Ma says I’m a fool but I donno. Joe was a nice fella but it was his fault a’course.

(Looks frantically from left to right in an effort to see the picture.) Good-night, Lilian, that man certainly takes his time taking his coat off. You’d think it was glued to him, in fact you’d think any man with any sense would take his coat off before he gets in front of the whole show and makes you break your neck trying to see the picture, but then, I don’t care so much for these comedy things anyway.

(Turns to person behind her.) Did you speak to me? My hat — it’s in your way? Well, can you beat that, Lilian? Some people are mighty fussy, believe me.

Thank goodness this crazy comedy is over. What didja say the feature picture was ? Oo-o, The Haunted House-Boat! Why, Lilian, I’ve seen this picture. No, we won’t go out — it’s a swell picture — you’ll be crazy about it, Lilian, it has such an original plot — so different from anything you ever saw before. Y’see the fella that takes the part of the crook is the hero but he really isn’t a crook at all. You’ll love this picture, Lilian. Just wait now — look, that’s him. Ain’t he grand though? His eyes is just like Joe’s. In fact he reminds me terribly of Joe. And look there, see the butler? Well, he’s the one who really takes the jewels in the end and he plays so innocent all the time you’d never think it. Why, the first time I seen this picture I was so surprised. Yeh, that’s the heroine. She wears the swellest clothes you ever seen. Wait until you see the dress she wears in the ballroom scene — gee, it’s a dream — no back to it and only one strap to hold it up — I mean what there is of the waist to it — only one strap to hold it up besides her strength of will. The ballroom scene is where she loses the pearls and the diamond bracelet and every one thinks the hero done it, but it’s really the butler after all. The butler is the real crook, Lilian.

Then this House-Boat that’s supposed to be haunted all the time is really the hiding place for all these crooks. See, that’s the House-Boat now. Gee, Lil, I get so excited when I think about the awful fight they have on it at the end of the picture. That’s when you discover that the hero isn’t a crook at all — he’s from the Police Department and the butler is the real crook. Any minute you’d think the butler will kill him but he doesn’t.

See that fella with the black moustache — well, he’s another one of the crooks and he ties the girl to the railroad track just as the train is coming. No — I’m wrong, it isn’t him that ties her to the track, it’s the half-breed. Yeh, that’s who it is. I kinda forgot it. Y’see, the half-breed is really the brother of the butler, who isn’t a half-breed — he’s a whole-breed, or whatever you call it — I mean the half-breed is the whole-breed’s half-brother. I mean the half-breed had an Indian mother, y’see, so that made ’em only half-brothers — if you get what I mean.

The butler is the brains of the jewel-robbing gang and the half-breed’ll do anything he tells him because he hasn’t got so much brains on account of his being a half-breed, y’know.

This is the sad part, Lil — see, the hero’s mother is going to die now. Gee, I hope I don’t cry. (Blinks.) Don’t he look just like Joe now — look, Lil — ain’t he the picture of Joe? Yeh, you said it, why did we have a falling out? I suppose it was my fault a little bit, but you really couldn’t blame me for getting sore. Joe’s an awful nice fella though. Look, Lilian, she’s going to die now just as soon as she falls on the floor. Ain’t it sad? (Fumbles in pocket.) Lil, have you got a handkerchief ? Thanks, I didn’t bring none. (Dabs at eyes.) Gee, I wish I wasn’t so sympathetic.

Good-night, Lil, I dropped my hat. (Gropes about on floor, sits up and accepts hat from neighbor on opposite side.) Oh, thank you ever so (Opens mouth and stares in astonishment.) Joe — you been sitting here all the time? And I never knew it; I never knew you were there at all. Gee, you surprised me so I guess I swallowed my gum. Lilian, look what was sitting right here beside us and me none the wiser. Yeh, I remember I said I’d never speak to you again, Joe, but I’ve forgotten all about that now. I wasn’t really mad, Joe. I just met Lil this afternoon and we thought we would go to the movies but I’ve seen this picture before. Y’see the butler is really the crook and the hero is from the Police Department and this House-Boat is really the hiding place for (Turns to usher in aisle.) Whadja say? We gotta stop talking or leave? Can you beat that! Don’t worry, little Sunshine, we’ll leave all right. I’ve seen the picture anyway. Cmon, Joe. (Slams on hat, climbs out into aisle.) Now I ask you, Lil, have I said two words since we been in here? You said it — I ain’t said a word — not — a — word. Believe me, some nerve!

Comments: The existence of several comic monologues around this time which satirise the talkative member of a cinema audience (generally female) indicates a general perception of certain modes of movie audience behaviour, in particular talking about what you saw on the screen.

Links: Copy on Internet Archive