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Rendezvous

Good News of 1939 

Rendezvous 

Sep 15 1938 




CAST:

HOST, Robert Young

ARTHUR PARKS, young soldier

CAPTAIN, no-nonsense

WOMAN, soothing, warm, and sympathetic

FRED, ambulance driver

BILL, medical corpsman

VOICE




HOST: ... And now Maxwell House presents Robert Taylor and Rita Johnson in "Rendezvous" by George Beck. 


MUSIC: INTRODUCTION


HOST: Time -- April Nineteen Eighteen, a few minutes before four o'clock in the morning. The scene's a frontline trench on the Western Front. An American company is about to go over the top for the first time. The captain in command has just issued final instructions to his men. One young man, Private Arthur Parks -- played by Robert Taylor -- is hysterical from fatigue and strain. He's about to go to pieces.


SOUND: ARTILLERY AND GUNFIRE ... ESTABLISH ... THEN IN BG


ARTHUR: I can't do it, captain.


CAPTAIN: You've got to do it, son. In exactly one minute, your company's going over the top, and you've got to be with us. Now buck up. Forty-five seconds to go.


ARTHUR: I won't do it, I tell ya! I won't do it!


CAPTAIN: Yes, you will.


ARTHUR: All right. (MOVING OFF) If I'm going over the top, I'm going now.


CAPTAIN: Parks! Wait for the signal! Wait!


SOUND: ARTILLERY AND GUNFIRE ... UP BRIEFLY ... THEN IN BG


CAPTAIN: (HORRIFIED) Parks! (DISMAYED, TO HIMSELF) Oh, the poor kid. They got him.


SOUND: ARTILLERY AND GUNFIRE ... UP BRIEFLY ... LOUD, SHRILL WHISTLE BLOWS! 


CAPTAIN: That's the signal, men! Let's go!


MUSIC: FOR A CHARGE OVER THE TOP 


SOUND: ARTILLERY AND GUNFIRE CONTINUES DURING ABOVE ... THEN IN BG


ARTHUR: (CALLS, DELIRIOUS, WEAKLY) Wait for me! Wait! Don't leave me! This is my first time. I've never been under fire. It's not right. (REALIZES, HORRIFIED) I - I'm bleeding! I'm hit! (GROANS IN PAIN)


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN MELANCHOLY IN BG


SOUND: ARTILLERY AND GUNFIRE DIE DOWN AS THE BATTLE MOVES OFF ... THE DISTANT LOW BOOM OF ARTILLERY IS HEARD INTERMITTENTLY DURING THE FOLLOWING--


ARTHUR: (MURMURS IN PAIN)


WOMAN: Well, Arthur--?


ARTHUR: (GROANS, PUZZLED, WEAKLY) Who are you?


WOMAN: Don't you know me?


ARTHUR: (ASTONISHED) No. Where'd you come from?


WOMAN: Out there.


ARTHUR: Out there? No-Man's Land?


WOMAN: (YES) Mm hm.


ARTHUR: You're a nurse.


WOMAN: No, not exactly. Though some call me merciful.


ARTHUR: I tried, but I - I lost my head. Now I'll get the devil from Captain Morrow.


WOMAN: No, you won't. Don't worry about it. You did very well. Very well indeed. He understands -- now.


ARTHUR: What do you mean? How do you know?


WOMAN: I've just come from him. He was worried about you. You went over too soon and got hit, and it worried him. He looked back where you'd fallen. The poor man; he shouldn't have looked back. Such a pity.


ARTHUR: (REALIZES) He's dead.


WOMAN: Yes. So many are dead. So very many.


ARTHUR: I couldn't help it. It's not my fault.


WOMAN: Of course it isn't.


ARTHUR: I'm sorry he worried about me, but-- It isn't my fault. I was never trained for this. I was always frightened of - of getting hurt. Dying.


WOMAN: You aren't really afraid.


ARTHUR: Yes, I am, I tell you.


WOMAN: Of me?


ARTHUR: (BEAT) You? No, certainly, I'm not afraid of you.


WOMAN: (GLAD OF IT) Well, that's better.


ARTHUR: Why should I be afraid of you?


WOMAN: No reason at all. Yet so many are.


ARTHUR: Afraid of you?


WOMAN: Yes, and they needn't be, really. Am I so frightening?


ARTHUR: No. You're quite pretty. I can't see you very clearly, but - you sound like you're beautiful.


WOMAN: (CHUCKLES WARMLY) That's gallant of you, Arthur.


ARTHUR: No, not at all. Now that I look at you closer, you're - you're really lovely.


WOMAN: (PLEASED, MOVED) Thank you, Arthur. You're very nice yourself. It isn't often young people like you think I'm nice, much less lovely. Mostly it's only old people. Tired old people.


ARTHUR: That's funny. Here I am talking to you as if we were old friends. And I don't even know who you are.


WOMAN: I've known you a long time. Your name is Arthur Parks, isn't it?


ARTHUR: Yes.


WOMAN: "Skippy" Parks?


ARTHUR: Say, you must know me from way back. It's years since the kids called me Skippy; I'd almost forgotten it.


WOMAN: You were such a nice little boy.


ARTHUR: (MODEST CHUCKLE)


WOMAN: Don't you remember how terribly sick you were the time you had pneumonia? When they had to put you in an oxygen tent?


ARTHUR: (UNCERTAIN) Yes, but only vaguely.


WOMAN: I was there then. Right beside your bed.


ARTHUR: Were you? I don't remember seeing you at all.


WOMAN: I was there, just the same. And the time you went skating when your mother warned you not to -- and the ice broke.


ARTHUR: Ah, yes. Took a pulmotor to bring me around.


WOMAN: I was there then. 


ARTHUR: (MYSTIFIED) You were? Look, miss, I-- I'm all mixed up. I'm wounded and I've got a funny feeling; sort of dreaming like. But I know I'm not dreaming; not really. I know you're here beside me and-- Still, it's all so odd. Me talking to you, a woman, in a place like this.


WOMAN: It's not so odd.


SOUND: DISTANT RUMBLE OF ARTILLERY FILLS A PAUSE


ARTHUR: Who ever heard of a soldier having a quiet conversation with a woman on a battlefield? It doesn't make sense.


WOMAN: No, it never does. 


ARTHUR: You're so calm about it. I'm a soldier and so afraid. The easy way you take it, you'd think killing was an everyday occurrence with you.


WOMAN: (WEARILY) Sometimes it gets so bad even I can't stand it.


ARTHUR: That - that's more like how I'd expect a woman to talk.


SOUND: A SHELL BURSTS NOT FAR OFF


ARTHUR: That's what I can't stand. The awful noise! You see, I'm a musician; I'm very sensitive to sounds. (QUICKLY) It's all right for the officers. War's their business. They studied it; all about it -- just as I studied music. (SICKENED) Look at my hands. They're all calloused and cracked. I'll never play again. (BEAT, SADLY) And the whole thing's so ridiculous -- such a waste -- because I'm not even a good soldier.


WOMAN: I wouldn't say that.


ARTHUR: It's even my fault that Captain Morrow is dead. He was a good soldier. I should never have come here in the first place.


WOMAN: Didn't you know what it was going to be like?


ARTHUR: I don't know. I thought-- Kind of a glorious adventure. You know, the uniforms and the flags and the bands? I never liked brassy marches, but - somehow when I saw Bill Harron and Johnny Cruze in uniform marching along, it - kind of got inside of me.


WOMAN: And you joined up.


ARTHUR: No. I was drafted. But I - I wanted to enlist. I wanted to very badly the day we got the news that Johnny and Bill were dead, killed in action. That made me crazy mad. Only, Lorna -- that's Johnny's sister; we were engaged -- she wouldn't let me enlist. She carried on something awful; made me promise I wouldn't. 


WOMAN: She was right.


ARTHUR: Yeah. Lorna's always right. She's so wise. It was a terrible time for me, just the same. You know, people with brothers in the trenches giving you funny looks. I could have spared myself all that by enlisting -- since they got me in the first draft anyway.


SOUND: A SHELL BURSTS VERY NEAR ... ARTILLERY AND GUNFIRE FADES OUT DURING FOLLOWING--


ARTHUR: (NERVOUS) Shells - shells are coming closer. We better get out of here.


WOMAN: You needn't be afraid. Come.


ARTHUR: Where to?


WOMAN: There are so many wounded, so many dying. I've got to go to them.


ARTHUR: No, you - you'd better stay right here. It's safer.


WOMAN: Oh, Arthur, you still don't understand. Look at me. 


MUSIC: GENTLY OUT 


WOMAN: (SLOW, HYPNOTIC) Closer. Closer. Into my eyes.


ARTHUR: I--


WOMAN: Look again, Arthur. 


ARTHUR: (BEAT, REALIZES) Oh. 


MUSIC: RETURNS ... SIBELIUS' "VALSE TRISTE" DURING FOLLOWING--


ARTHUR: (SLOWLY) You're - you're Death.


WOMAN: (SIMPLY) Yes, my dear. I'm Death. (BEAT) No, don't shrink away from me. Don't spoil everything by being frightened. 


ARTHUR: (RESISTS) Go away. Go away. Let me alone.


WOMAN: I can't this time, Arthur. You must come with me.


ARTHUR: (STARTS TO PANIC) No, no. I won't. I don't want to. If you don't go away, I'll-- No, don't touch me now!


WOMAN: (SHARPLY) It's time, boy!


MUSIC: CHANGES TO A GENTLE MELANCHOLY MOOD AGAIN, IN BG--


ARTHUR: (CALMS DOWN) I - I'm sorry, I-- I--


WOMAN: (WARM AGAIN) That's all right. You're not frightened any more, are you?


ARTHUR: No. I'm sort of glad -- now. (SUPPRESSED EXHALATION) Pain's so bad. (CHANGES SUBJECT) What about Lorna?


WOMAN: She'll be all right, after a while.


ARTHUR: How do I go with you?


WOMAN: Just take my hand. Quickly. Quickly!


ARTHUR: (PLEADS) Oh, can't I write a letter? Just a short one?


WOMAN: I'm sorry, Arthur. I can't wait.


ARTHUR: Well, couldn't you - circle back for me a little later? I wouldn't go away. So many things I just thought of to do. 


MUSIC: CHANGES TO A WARM, HOPEFUL MOOD


ARTHUR: I - just got a wonderful idea for a - for a symphony. I can hear it just as plain--


MUSIC: UP, FOR A TASTE OF THE SYMPHONY 


ARTHUR: Ah, it's - it's beautiful. If you could only hear it. Just give me a few minutes to get it down on paper.


WOMAN: It's lovely, I daresay, but I can't--


ARTHUR: Oh, you've just got to. It's such a lovely strain. Please.


WOMAN: (AMUSED, INDULGENT) Hm. You always do get around me, don't you? But not too long, mind.


ARTHUR: (RELIEVED) Oh, thanks. Thanks so much. I'll be here - waiting - when you come back for me.


WOMAN: No, I won't be back here for you. I'll pick you up on the road to Vimy -- (PRONOUNCED VEE-mee) -- in five minutes. (MOVING OFF) I'll meet you in an ambulance. Au revoir. Till then, Arthur.


ARTHUR: (TO HIMSELF, INCREASINGLY IN PAIN) On the road to Vimy. Five minutes. Five minutes. (GROANS) Oh, Lorna-- (GROANS)


MUSIC: OUT SLOWLY BEHIND--


SOUND: ARTILLERY AND GUNFIRE SWEEPS IN ... LOUD AND CLOSE ... THEN IN BG


ARTHUR: (GROANS)


FRED: Comin' through!


ARTHUR: (GROANS, WEAKLY) Hello. Where's--?


BILL: Take it easy, bud. You're hit, but we'll have you in the hospital before you know it.


ARTHUR: Where am I?


BILL: In the ambulance.


ARTHUR: Ambulance?


BILL: Yup.


ARTHUR: (HORRIFIED) No. No, no. No, not in an ambulance. Don't you see? She'll - she'll find me here!


FRED: Ah, he's delirious.


ARTHUR: (PANICS) No. No, no. No ambulance! I won't go! I-- I won't! Let me out of here!


BILL: Now, take it easy, buddy. In a little while you'll be resting in a nice hospital in Bordeaux.


ARTHUR: Bordeaux?


BILL: Yeah, the base hospital at Bordeaux.


ARTHUR: (TO HIMSELF, THOUGHTFUL) Bordeaux-- Bordeaux! (AMUSED) She'll never find me there. She expects me at Vimy. (CHUCKLES) I fooled her. (CHUCKLES, QUIETLY EXULTANT) Fooled her! (CHUCKLES) 


SOUND: ARTILLERY AND GUNFIRE ... UP BRIEFLY AND CLOSE ... THEN IN BG


FRED: You know, Bill, I - I don't like this road at all. They've got the range.


ARTHUR: (VERY WEAK, INCREASINGLY NEAR DEATH AS THE SCENE PROGRESSES) Water? Can somebody get me a drink of water?


BILL: Water's no good for stomach wounds, buddy. They'll give you a shot of morphine when you get to the base.


ARTHUR: (TO HIMSELF) Bordeaux--


BILL: Save your strength, bud. Don't talk.


SOUND: SHELL BURSTS ... TOO LOUD AND TOO CLOSE ... ARTILLERY AND GUNFIRE CONTINUE IN BG


BILL: Hey! Hey, what the--?!


ARTHUR: What's the matter?


BILL: (CALLS) Well, what is it, Fred?!


FRED: That's as close as I want to come, boy! Shell dropped right in front of us! There's a hole there like the Grand Canyon.


BILL: Gee, we're lucky.


FRED: Yeah, but we'll never get past this shell hole.


ARTHUR: Can't I have a little water?


FRED: Take it easy, son. We can't get through to Bordeaux. But you'll be all right in a few minutes.


ARTHUR: A few minutes? I can't stand it any more.


FRED: Don't worry, kid. Soon as I get this crate turned around, I'll really step on it!


ARTHUR: (ALMOST GONE) Turn around? Where are we going?


FRED: To the emergency hospital! At Vimy!


SOUND: ARTILLERY AND GUNFIRE ... UP, FOR PUNCTUATION


MUSIC: CURTAIN


SOUND: APPLAUSE ...


VOICE: (SOLEMNLY) Ladies and gentlemen, the little sketch you have just heard points an accusing finger at the grim futility and stark horror of war. Today, with the ominous growling of the dogs of war reaching the ears of this nation and the panic clutching the heart of Europe, I think we should take one moment to offer a fervent prayer in a plea for peace.


SOUND: FIVE-SECOND PAUSE


MUSIC: A QUIET CHURCH BELL CHIMES


VOICE: Thank you. ...





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