Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Scene from ARTHUR

Steve Gordon’s ARTHUR is probably my single favorite comic screenplay. Believe it or not the first draft was 147 pages. (Do NOT try this at home, kids.) So obviously there were scenes that never saw the flickering light of the projector. But here’s one of those missing scenes. Don’t you wish you could write as well? I do.

When Arthur (Dudley Moore) goes to Linda’s (Liza Minelli) apartment after proposing to Susan:


It is a small room. Linda sits at the edge of the bed. Arthur paces.

Nice. Really a nice place.

I’m thrilled. A lush likes my furniture. Talk.

Arthur reaches for a yearbook that is on the table.

Is this your yearbook?

Linda jumps off the bed and rips the yearbook out of Arthur’s hand.

God damn it! I have to get up and go to work tomorrow! Now stop fooling around. What do you want? You want to see a funny picture?


Linda flips through the book. They are close.

This is me in the school play – I played Juliet. Martin Feinberg played Romeo. Look at the hair. God! Martin Feinberg became a lawyer.

What did you become?

I’m a waitress. I’m studying to be an actress.

She flips through the book.

You want to be an actress?

No, schmuck… I’m studying to be an actress because I want to be a carpenter. (in the book) Look at this! Me playing vollyball! This guy went to prison.

Sure… he probably got a lawyer who wanted to play Romeo. Did you go with anyone?

Not really. My mother was sick then. I came home from school and spent as much time with her as I… anyway… it wasn’t a good time. This girl here…Mona… used to get laid 20 times a week.

She looks tired there.

Where did you go to school?

I went to eight prep schools. I was thrown out of all of them. I was real unhappy as a kid.

With all your money?

Yeah. I had a big house. But nobody wanted me in it.

Linda puts her hand on Arthur’s face.

You’re a lovely man.


Don’t worry about it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever said to anyone. Why haven’t you called me?

Uh… that’s why I came here tonight. I think about you all the time. I am so fond of you…

If you’re breaking up with me… I think it’s only fair to tell you that we’ve never had a date.

(smiling) I am breaking up with you. We were so good we didn’t need dates.

Why don’t we see each other and then break up?

Listen… there’s stuff. Let’s not get into it. I can’t see you. Remember that ring?

I had a feeling about that ring… you don’t clean that… you guard it.

I gave it to somebody tonight.

My ring? So what are you doing here?

I had to see you to tell you I can’t see you.

Neither of us is crying. Everything’s okay. You are the strangest person in North America.

Yeah. Well… goodbye. It would probably be a mistake for you to come to that party Wednesday.

He starts toward the door.


He turns.

It’s the best way. There’s a lot involved.


Arthur kisses her on the lips.

(after the kiss) Goodbye. I guess this is it.

He continues to hold her.

You’re holding me and kissing me. In my bedroom. With what you drank… you may be clearing up my sinuses.

Arthur kisses her again.

Let’s just say goodbye. This is silly.

He kisses her again. This time it grows into a passionate kiss.

(after the kiss) How long ago did you get engaged?

About four hours ago. Jesus… this is wonderful.

Make sure you come by your honeymoon night. Let’s stop. I enjoy you… but there are certain rules.

Right… Goodbye.

He exits.

In the actual movie this scene was rewirtten and is much shorter. He goes to her apartment to give her $100,000 guilt money which she doesn't take. (Great shot of her dad outside the door, practically dissolving into tears.)

By the way, in the first draft Linda is not Italian. She's Jewish. Davidorf is her original last name.

If there’s sufficient interest I will post another scene later in the week.


Mr. Peel said...

I'd say that you should post not just another scene, but the entire script. But that would probably be a little unwieldy to put in a post.

The only thing wrong with that scene is that I'm pretty sure the photo is from Arthur 2: On the Rocks. But I'll let that slide.

Seriously, thanks for letting us see this. It just reminds me how great this movie is and what a loss it was that Steve Gordon left us so soon.

Rashad Khan said...

IF there's sufficient interest? Hell. I don't like movies starring Dudley Moore OR Liza Minnelli, and I want to read more!

Arthur's Kidney said...

Yes, please post more. Mr. Gordon was one talented writer. Pacing is perfect.

Vince said...

I'll restate what others have said: yes, there is sufficient interest. More, please.

Anonymous said...

Please do post more.

Anonymous said...

More , more!

TC said...

Ditto on the "More, please!" The dialogue is just so damned good. Any idea why the love interest was changed from Jewish to Italian? Was it due to Minnelli's casting exclusively or did it precede that?

Chuck Sigars said...

Ditto ditto. It's my favorite screenplay, too.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Interest? There is OBESSION from this part of Southern California. More! More!

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Well look at that. I'm so excited, I spelled "obsession" wrong.

There's proof.

Anonymous said...

there is sufficient interest

Anonymous said...

More, more, more!


la guy said...

Great script and in the capable hands
of Moore, Minelli and especially John Gielgud, made even better.

I'm sure I'm in the minority, but I never really bought the chemistry between Moore and Minelli. (Although I can't think of a female lead from the 80's who would have been a better choice, it just never felt quite right to me.)

I've actually watched Arthur within the past few months (I wanted to see it in HD) and it holds up very well. It's fascinating what ages well and what doesn't. The Big Chill came out about the same time as Arthur and although I thought it was profound at the time I can barely watch it now.

Hollywood lost a lot of good young writers in the 80's; Steve Gordon, Diane Thomas and Colin Higgins.

Micke said...

There's definetley sufficient interest in Sweden.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested!

Willy B. Good said...

great scene and like everyone else I say encore please as good way to spread the word about what a funny writer Steve was.

ChrisO said...

I'd love to read more. I'm also glad you mentioned my single favorite part of the film, when Liza Minelli's dad (Barney Marting, who played Seinfeld's dad) is dissolved in tears. A great visual gag.

DrJeff said...

Yes, please post more.

My favorite scene, which I've seen (I've seen the scene? That sounds odd.) a dozen times and I'll see it three dozen more and it will STILL crack me up is when Arthur, in a stupor, is outside Liza's apartment and he bumps into the pram that's in the hallway, then leans down and shushes the baby that's not in there and says "coochie cootchie coo". Dudley Moore puts me in tears with that scene every time.

Mary Stella said...

Yes, please post another scene. Post several more scenes.

Anonymous said...

Barney Martin (RIP)who played Liza's dad in both movies, was a close friend and he considered the first Arthur to be one of his best professional experiences. He loved that script. Worshipped writers. He and Liza developed a lasting friendship and Barney got together with various of his friends to watch Arthur each time it aired. Just before Dudley Moore passed, we bumped into him in the coffee shop at Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City. Dudley sat with us a while and the only subject they discussed wasn't Dudley's obvious illness, but rather the making of that first Arthur.

Beth Ciotta said...

*jumping up and down, hand raised* Interested! Interested!

Arthur is one of my all time favorite movies. It's a joy to read this clever, emotional scene. Please do share more. :)

The Minstrel Boy said...




HOW! ABOUT! THIS????????

andrew said...

I just bought the whole script from scripcity and am reading it this week. thanks for the recommendation.

WizarDru said...

I think it's safe to say there is A LOT of interest, all around. Please do post more.

What's most interesting, to me, is how I can hear them play this scene out in my head, even though it never actually made it in the way portrayed here.

Anonymous said...

Is this your way of getting lurkers to de-lurk? :)

Yes, more please!

Murph said...

"She looks tired there."


Sharone Rosen said...

more more more!!!

Neil said...

More please, DEFINITELY!

Christopher said...

From what I can see in the 28+ comments above, you're probably still on the fence about posting more Arthur...any chance you might post about Arthur 2: On the Rocks?

ratskiwatski said...

"Ahhh... you hedge!"

Rory L. Aronsky said...

"Can I get you anything, Sir?"
"Do you have Pravda? I like to keep up with Russia."
"Then fill a glass with scotch."

Anonymous said...

I watched this movie 20-40 times on HBO during one of the rare periods my family had HBO in the early 80's. It was on three times a day in between showings of On Golden Pond.

It would be great to see more.


Anonymous said...

More, more, more....

Alan from Liverpool, England said...

Arthur is in my Top 10 Comedy Films and one of my favourite lines came from the late Barney Martin who played liza's dad, he didn't want his daughter to marry Arthur until he finds out how rich he is and says: "Then you have my permission to marry him." It was great to learn some background stuff about Steve Gordon. What a great writer.

Anonymous said...

Is Davidorf really her last name? It is my last name to and it is quite uncommon. I wonder how it was chosed?

Jeremy Kareken said...

Beautiful scene... but you can see why he cut it. It would work GREAT in a play.