JAZZ AGE Doll (back)Drama 114 p. (Nicholl semi-finalist script 1997) A snapshot into the life of one of Americas most famous wives, Zelda Fitzgerald, who descended into mercurial madness with the help of husband F. Scott Fitzgerald. _______________________________________________________________________________ FADE IN: "JAZZ AGE DOLL" EXT. MALMAISON SANATORIUM, OUTSIDE PARIS DAY Glass breaks. A burning suitcase sails out the second floor window of the stately "Malmaison" mental institution. TITLE READS: MALMAISON, APRIL 1930 White-clad NURSE and ORDERLY rush up the stone walkway to the front entrance. ORDERLY Mon Dieu. LAmericaine encore. Madame Fitzgerald. NURSE La beaute sans vertu est une fleur sans parfum, non? DR. OSCAR FOREL, Germanic-looking, a clinical psychiatrist in residence, joins the two as they make their way inside the heavy doors. FOREL In Switzerland, the mad are far less maddening. INT. MALMAISON HALLWAY Thick smoke wafts along the plush walls. Well-dressed array of the UNWELL claw at each other, disoriented. A young MAN opens and closes an umbrella in their path as Dr. Forel and the nurses push past. EXT. ZELDAS ROOM A name card on the door READS: MRS. F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, which has been scratched over in eyeliner to READ: ZELDA! Dr. Forel BANGS on the door. DR. FOREL Madame Fitzgerald? Open immediately. BAD SINGING heard in the b.g., Zelda mangles a line from a 20s pop song "Powder and Paint". TWO ORDERLIES smash in her door. Dr. Forel waves away a wall of smoke. Hysterical LAUGHTER erupts from the bathroom. Obscene eye-pencil drawings on the walls point toward the lav. INT. ZELDAS BATHROOM ZELDA SAYRE FITZGERALD, 30, blonde hair wrapped in curl papers, presides over a serious fire in the bathtub. Shes blackened from the ordeal. All of her clothes and many possessions have gone up in flames. She has a strong Southern accent, out of place here. FOREL Madame Fitzgerald, you have defiled your room. ZELDA Kick me out. All the best hotels do. FOREL You are not yourself. ZELDA I have nothing suitable to wear for a place like this. Absolutely nothing. As Dr. Forel douses the raging fire with the shower head; Zelda SHRIEKS. ZELDA SAVE THE LALIQUE! Idiots. Its Lalique. She makes a mad grab for a scorched porcelain ballerina with one leg broken off; it takes all in the room to restrain this superhuman urge to save the burned figurine. INT. EGLANTINE WARD Not plush, a complete departure from the fancy main building. Sterile and completely secure, white tiles, minimal furniture, equipped like a 30s hospital. Zelda is strapped down in a straight jacket on a gurney that is tilted at a 45-degree angle. Her blonde hair in reckless disorder, the curl papers removed. She is listless and lifeless. Dr. Forel snaps his fingers in front of her eyes. DR. FOREL Do you know who you are, Madame? He watches her for a moment. No response, then motions for a red-haired nurse MAGDA THIERRY, who is about to administer an injection into Zeldas exposed neck. Just as the needle gets close to her jugular, Zeldas face lights up, a wide, weird grin. Her tone is uneven, too loud. ZELDA Come now, lets all sing along. Ive been dry so long I forgot how to shimmy. Hows that for the record books? No wood alcohol today. DR. FOREL Do you know why you are here? Zeldas constrained body convulses, fights against the restraints. DR. FOREL Please, Madame. Do you know why you are here? ZELDA Because I made the pact with a devil. Who happens to pay your bills. DR. FOREL There are no devils here, only Freud. No evil, only science. ZELDA Tell me that after youve been crushed under the heel of art. F. Scott Fitzgerald is my conjurer. I am vile. I am sweet. I am Daisy. Or Gloria. Or any glittering slut to appear on the page for your amusement. DR. FOREL (to nurse) Delusional. ZELDA For days I have had buildings tremble and collapse around me. Have heard ghastly things from the curtain rod; and no one will tell me why I can no longer play tennis. DR. FOREL We are going to induce an insulin coma. We hope it will bring you out of this psychosis. You will wake up in Switzerland. Be yourself again. ZELDA Myself? I am the muse who struck back. Tip of syringe looms large. ZELDA (nods toward needle) Mesdames and Messieurs, she is fresh out of mythology. Nurse Thierry plunges the needle into Zeldas thin neck. Wild convulsions; froth spews from her mouth. The body shudders violently. She hangs by a thread to lucidity. ZELDA Plus petite et moins entendue... FADE TO BLACK EXT. PRANGINS CLINIC, NYON, SWITZERLAND DAY Swiss Alps can be seen in the distance. This clinic is far less imposing, gorgeous grounds and view. An American late model 1920s Ford, pulls up to the grand entrance. A nervous woman, ROSALIND SAYRE SMITH, 40s, struggles out of the car in her heavy black mourning dress. The driver, her husband, NEWMAN SMITH, late 40s, stays at the wheel. NEWMAN Sure you want to go it alone? ROSALIND Southern women do everything alone, dear. You showed me that. NEWMAN Dont take it out on me. ROSALIND (smiling) You go find that drunken bastard and bring him back here. Thats your assignment for the day, peach. NEWMAN What will you do in there? ROSALIND Ill answer their questions. Flutter my eyelashes. Get her on the first boat out. Go. Now. Bring me the head of Fitzgerald. With the hot spit thats left in it. INT. RECEIVING AREA, PRANGINS CLINIC Rosalind is besieged by grasping hands. Nurse Magda Thierry greets her; does nothing to stop the curious PATIENTS who touch Rosalinds dress and hair. MAGDA The Visitors are all insane, Madame. Thats why they are here. ROSALIND Thats not why Im here. (loud to Patients) Enough. Hands off. They continue to paw at her undeterred. ROSALIND (slaps at hands on her) I can do without a welcome wagon. MAGDA Most of them do not speak English. ROSALIND Why my sister is locked up with a bunch of real lunatics is beyond my limited capacity to understand. MAGDA You must prepare yourself. She is one of our most challenging cases. One day she is perhaps close to normal; next day, she is chewing the velvet flowers off her dress -- ROSALIND Ill speak to the doctor myself. Zelda is quite theatrical when she wants to be. Full of pranks. A YOUNG GIRL in the hallway collapses in front of them, chokes on her balled up tongue which cuts off her oxygen. Magda whisks Rosalind by her. Orderlies descend on the girl. INT. DOCTORS QUARTERS, PRANGINS CLINIC A sumptuous buffet has been prepared, complete with silverware. No expense is spared in the number and variety of dishes. Dr. Forel stares at Rosalind, who is clearly too uncomfortable to eat. He is flanked by his aging father, gifted science professor AUGUSTE FOREL, 80s, and the red-haired nurse Magda Thierry. FOREL Madame, the veal is getting cold. ROSALIND At one thousand American dollars a month per "Guest", I imagine you have the resources to reheat it. AUGUSTE Wont you enjoy my sons hospitality? ROSALIND I was asked to come here for Zelda. Its a little galling to wait until dessert is served. FOREL Pray begin, then. You said there is no history of mental illness in your family. Perhaps some event in Zeldas youth holds the key -- ROSALIND (indicates old man) Were in mixed company. My sister was a free spirit, doctor. AUGUSTE She was a vixen? Tramp? A whore? ROSALIND A libertine. The new American woman. EXT. SAYRE TOWNHOUSE, MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA NIGHT A fine Southern brick house with potted plants on the stairs. Zelda, radiant at 18, is swamped by young SOLDIERS in uniform. Some grab at her legs and skirt; wars over and the boys are home. Victory drum BOOMS in the distance. ROSALIND (V.O.) She wasnt born until she was 18. Thrown into the post-Great War chaos. With no training. No manners. Mother said she was knitting a god, fashioning a moral universe as she went along. Zelda stands on the top of the stairs, whips her skirt up at the crowd of WWI SOLDIERS. Garters bared, braless. Doughboys ARCHIE and TED glom all over each other to get a glimpse of Zelda. ZELDA (shouts to cheering crowd) Good riddance Kaiser Wilhelm! Zelda does a mock striptease dance on the long flight of stone stairs to her front door; each step a little racier. TED I heard she spreads; I dont mean rumors. ARCHIE You should see how much she can put away. TED Id like to die between her legs. ARCHIE Whither and shrivel? TED Watch it, Arch, I still got my bayonet. ARCHIE Even the century turned when she was born. Her fathers a judge, I hear. A hanging judge. TED This ones tailor-made for jail. Another soldier, PRIVATE F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, creeps out of the shadows, joins them but does not laugh. FITZGERALD You have to be under sixteen to be illegal. This girl is definitely over the limit. CLOSE ON: ZELDA She has made it to the end of the stairs, stops her trance dance right beside Archie and Ted, ignores Fitzgerald. The crowd HOOTS; expects a speech. She simply smiles. ZELDA (mutters under her breath) May you all die in a marble ring... With that, she reaches under her skirt, wiggles out of her panties and throws them into the crowd. Fitzgerald, shocked and motionless, is completely smitten. EXT. ROSALINDS WINDOW She stares down at Zelda, who is pawed from all directions but seems to have control of the situation. ROSALIND March the troops on the move, Zelda. Were trying to enjoy the Peace. EXT. MONTGOMERY MAIN DRAG NIGHT Zelda has been hoisted up on to a half dozen mens shoulders. Who each strain for a glimpse under her skirt. Its a street adorned for another grueling victory party. World War I is over, the aristocracy is dead in Europe and America has lost its compass in these heady days. Fitzgerald follows the boisterous crowd, an outsider though dressed like all of them. Transfixed with the girl on high. CUT TO: DINING HALL PRANGINS CLINIC Dr. Forel taps his fork on his glass. FOREL Dessert. We are ready for dessert? ROSALIND (taken aback) You interrupted me, sir. FOREL Surely you dont think the details of a healthy young girl in bloom constitute a psychological event. I hope you are able to comprehend the gravity of her condition. This is not a place for "rest cures". Weve had to shock her body out of catatonia three times. She has choked on her own vomit; hears voices in the walls; and swallowed a foot of rubber tubing. Pumped her stomach to prevent a suicide. This is a very ill woman, Madame. ROSALIND She just wants attention. FOREL Perhaps we can replace a version of herself. Give back the true Zelda. ROSALIND My sister disobeyed every rule known to man and god. She was a cock tease. A loose woman. Which still means something in America, doctor... EXT. SAYRE ORCHARD NIGHT Peach grove behind the townhouse. Zelda shines in the moonlight, picks fruit in the dark; Fitzgerald lays on the ground. ROSALIND (V.O.) It was on that Victory night she met him, the gasoline to her flame... FITZGERALD "Dear Lady, had we but world enough and time."... Blah, blah... your virtue would undoubtedly be mine. Blah, blah. ZELDA F. Scott? Whats the "F." stand for? FITZGERALD I was reciting a poem, my dear trollop. Its good that you have no shame. Shame is a crippling disease. Bad for fiction. (beat) That was Andrew Marvell, poet. Seducer. He has done well for me. I get to the last line: and roll each other up into a ball, push our way through the gates of life... and then I strike. ZELDA Why dont you just take out your claws and scratch two red vines down my back? FITZGERALD Beg pardon? ZELDA You havent any claws? What a shame. Six inches of sensitivity, such is man. FITZGERALD I refuse to be judged like a show pony. ZELDA Modesty doesnt shine quite as well in my moonlight, lover. Queen Victoria has been dust for almost twenty years. Didnt you know? FITZGERALD Youre no wall flower. ZELDA For a man of words, you certainly do a great impression of an armadillo. FITZGERALD Youd let me? Anything? Everything? Right in back of your own house?