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Burns & Allen Transcript: Getting A Movie Contract (1950-01-11) December 17, 2017

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It’s the first show of 1950. The country is well into recovery from World War II, Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons are the queens of Hollywood gossip, Joe Pasternak is producing films for MGM, and the future looks bright.

So Gracie has plans to get a friend’s daughter into the movies, and she’s going to turn the rest of Hollywood upside-down to do it.

Download the episode here, or listen on YouTube, and read the transcript below.


Well, as the new half-century gets underway, the favorite pastime seems to be choosing the outstanding men of the last half-century. Magazines and newspapers have published their selections, but Gracie seems to think one important name has been omitted.

Gracie Allen: [derisive] Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill! How can they pick men like that to head the list?

George Burns: I’m interested to know, Gracie. Who’s your choice?

Gracie: Need you ask, George? I’m thinking of a man whose glorious, romantic voice has thrilled millions.

George: [singing] The birds are sweetly singing, and perfume flowers are bringing, and–

Gracie: A man whose charm and talent are world-famous.

George: Gracie, this is getting embarrassing.

Gracie: Only one man should top this list: Charles Boyer.

[laughter]

George: Charles Boyer?

Gracie: Mmhmm.

George: You put him ahead of Edison?

Gracie: Yep.

George: Edison invented electric lights.

Gracie: With Boyer, who needs them?

George: Gracie, there are some pretty great men on this list.

Gracie: Not as great as Boyer. Why, look at these names! Arturo Toscanini, conductor. How d’you like that! A man who punches transfers.

George: He happens to be a musical conductor.

Gracie: All right, so he hums while he punches transfers. Here’s another one, Einstein. What did he do?

George: Einstein?

Gracie: Yes.

George: What did he do?

Gracie: Uh-huh.

George: He’s the father of relativity.

Gracie: Oh? What does she do?

George: Relativity Einstein?

Gracie: Yeah.

George: She’s with Warner Brothers.

[laughter]

George: You know, Gracie, for a minute there, instead of Boyer, I thought that you thought that I belonged on that list of great men.

Gracie: Oh, well, you see, George – you’re my husband, and I don’t think of you as a man.

George: Well, thanks.

Gracie: I mean, I don’t think of you as a man who does anything.

George: Thanks again.

Gracie: I mean, I don’t think of you as a man who does anything romantic.

George: [increasingly exasperated] A triple thanks, and stop thinking about it.

Gracie: Aww, now I’ve hurt your feelings. And I didn’t mean to, George. You know, I’d rather be married to you than any man on this list! Churchill. Edison. Stalin. Hitler.

George: You have just earned my fourth thank-you.

[knocking]

George: Come in?

Sam: [accent] Sam the tailor, at your soivice.

Gracie: Oh, hello Sam.

George: Hi, Sam.

Sam: Likewise. Here is the suit which you ordered pressed, Mr. Boins. Also, I took the liberty of bringing in your mail.

Gracie: Thank you, Sam. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll take the mail in the den and look through it.

Sam: Indubitably.

George: Hey, Sam, there’s a spot on this suit.

Sam: That, Mr. Boins, is a smoked stoigeon spot, and absolutely will not come out. When a man is having smoked stoegion for dinner he shouldn’t wear a nice suit.

George: Sam, you’re mistaken. There was no sturgeon dropped on this suit.

Sam: Mr. Burns, please. I know what I had for dinner last night.

George: You wore my suit?

Sam: Only as a gag. My wife was not feeling well, and I wanted she should have a laugh. She hasn’t seen a suit like this since she was a little goil.

George: Hey, Sam, I just realized something. You spoke of your wife. As long as I’ve known you, you’ve never mentioned her.

Sam: Have you ever seen my wife?

George: No.

Sam: If you had, you wouldn’t mention her either.

George: I’ll bet she’s nice.

Sam: Nice, she is. Very high-class woman. Pillow of society.

George: I think you mean ‘pillar’, not ‘pillow’.

Sam: Have you seen my wife?

[laughter]

George: Okay, forget it. How much do I owe you?

Sam: Oh, there’s no hurry about that. I’ll send you a statement in the poist. Foist thing in the morning.

George: I’m glad my credit is good. Goodbye, Sam.

Sam: Toodle-oo, Mr. Boins.

George: Toodle-oo, Sam.

Gracie: George! Oh, George, I have exciting news. This letter is from Hazel Kelly, an old friend of mine from San Francisco. She arrives in Hollywood tonight with her daughter, Margaret.

George: Oh, good.

Gracie: Oh, we’ll have to watch Bill Goodwin. Margaret is just the type Bill goes for.

George: Oh, really?

Gracie: Yeah. She’s a girl.

[laughter]

George: That’s Bill’s type, all right.

Gracie: And not only that, Margaret is a movie star.

George: Never heard of a movie star named Margaret Kelly.

Gracie: Well, she’s not exactly a movie star yet, but she’s been promised a contract.

George: By who?

Gracie: Me.

George: You?

Gracie: I promised you’d get it for her.

George: You said that I would get a movie…? Are you out of your mind?

Gracie: I’m as sane as ever!

George: Thanks for answering my question. How do you know this girl is pretty enough to get into the movies? Have you ever seen her?

Gracie: No, but I’ve seen her mother.

George: Well, lots of times mothers and daughters look nothing alike.

Gracie: Well then, stop worrying, her mother looks terrible.

George: Eh, meet the girl at the train and send her back to San Francisco.

Gracie: But just think, George, you can give Margaret her start in show business. Like you did me. Remember seventeen years ago? You said you’d try me out, and if I made good, you’d pay me?

George: Yeah.

Gracie: And George, I’ll make good if it kills me.

[laughter]

George: Coming along fast. But I still can’t get that Kelly girl into the movies.

Gracie: Oh, sure you can! All she’ll have to do is pick up a tube of Amident toothpaste and squeeze a signature on the contract.

George: She’ll sign her name with Amident?

Gracie: Well, that’s your idea, George. You told me the smartest thing you ever did was sign a contract with Amident toothpaste.

George: Gracie, I can’t get this girl a contract. I’m goin’ up and change, honey. Bill Goodwin is coming by to pick me up.

Gracie: What for?

George: We’re going out to Hillcrest. He wants to hit a few golf balls with me.

Gracie: Oh, no. You make him use a club.

[laughter]

George: He’ll be so disappointed.

[jaunty scene-change music]

Bill Goodwin: C’mon, George, let’s get going.

George: Sorry to keep you waiting, Bill, I had a session with Gracie.

Bill: Oho, no wonder you look a little low. Well, I got a joke that’ll cheer you up, George. Did you hear about the Australian who got a new boomerang for Christmas?

George: No.

Bill: He went crazy trying to throw the old one away.

[laughter]

George: That’s a good joke, Bill, that’s a very, very funny joke.

Bill: You liked it, huh?

George: Yeah.

Bill: How ‘bout a raise?

George: …’course, it’s been a funny joke for years. Tell you what, Bill. If you beat me at golf today, I’ll give you a raise.

Bill: No strokes, no handicaps?

George: No strokes, no handicaps. The man with the lowest score wins.

Bill: It’s a deal.

George: Okay, I’ll play nine holes and you play eighteen.

Bill: You know something? I can still win.

George: I forgot to mention, you’re playing left-handed.

Bill: I can still win.

George: How ‘bout nunnies? [?] Okay, let’s go. C’mon.

Bill: Say, by the way, what was your session with Gracie about?

George: Oh, she thinks it’s a very simple matter to get a girl in the movies.

Bill: Well, it is! I’ve gotten dozens of girls in the movies!

George: Really? How?

Bill: I just went into movies and got ‘em!

[laughter]

Bill: You get the best look in the balcony. I go upstairs….

George: I’m talking about getting a girl a contract in the movies. Gracie promised some old friend that we’d get her daughter in the movies. But I talked her out of it.

Bill: That’s what you think, chum. When I saw Gracie half an hour ago, she was headed for MGM to talk to Mr. Pasternak.

George: Oh, no. We’d better get out there. Gracie’ll make a wreck out of that man.

Bill: Oh, relax, George, she’s been talking to you for years now, and it hasn’t…Let’s hurry.

[jaunty scene-change music]

Secretary: Mr. Pasternak will see you now, Miss Allen.

Gracie: Oh, thank you.

[door opening noise]

Joe: Pasternak: Gracie, come in! Come in!

Gracie: Hello, Mr. Pasternak.

Pasternak: My goodness, I haven’t seen you since you worked in that picture I produced. [chuckling] I’ll never forget that scatterbrained character you played! Incidentally, that picture did fine at the box office.

Gracie: [earnestly] Well, you should’ve shown it in the theater.

[laughter]

Pasternak: Yes, yes, that’s the character! Ahh, it’s going to be a treat to talk to you as you are in real life. Just an average, normal woman.

Gracie: Well, I won’t take a minute of your time. I just want you to sign a contract for the brilliant new actress I’ve discovered, Margaret Kelly. She arrives from San Francisco this afternoon.

Pasternak: Hmm. Margaret Kelly. She on the stage?

Gracie: No, she’s coming by train.

Pasternak: No, I mean, is she on the legitimate stage? You know what I mean by legitimate stage?

Gracie: Well…I guess that’s when the horses that are pulling it are married.

Pasternak: Has this girl had experience acting in the theater?

Gracie: Oh, yes! And she’s beautiful. She’s sort of a combination Hedy Lamar, Betty Grable, and Pat O’Brien.

Pasternak: Pat O’Brien?

Gracie: She’s Irish.

Pasternak: If she’s so beautiful, I’m surprised some scout hasn’t picked her up.

Gracie: Oh, now, Mr. Pasternak, scouts don’t do things like that. They go on hikes, and build fires by rubbing their legs together.

Pasternak: You know, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that wasn’t a character you played in my picture. I almost recommended that you get an Oscar!

Gracie: Oh, thanks, but I’m happy with George. Now, let’s get back to Margaret Kelly. She’s willing to start for five thousand dollars a week.

Pasternak: I couldn’t pay that amount to a girl with no name!

Gracie: Well, she’s got a name! Margaret Kelly.

Pasternak: But that name means nothing at the box office!

Gracie: [chuckling] Still determined to show your pictures at the box office, huh.

Pasternak: Gracie, she’s an unknown! The name Margaret Kelly won’t attract attention.

Gracie: Well, I’ve got an idea! Let’s change it to Margaret Truman. That’ll attract attention. Oh, I can see it on the marquee. Margaret Truman in I Married A Republican. Mr. Pasternak, sign the contract.

Pasternak: Absolutely not.

Gracie: Mmm, time’s a-wasting, make up your mind.

Pasternak: I’ve made it up! No deal.

Gracie: I can’t wait all day. No, it’s up to you to decide. Just give me your answer, yes or no.

Pasternak: No! N-O! Nix, never, nothing doing!

Gracie: Mmm, can’t decide, huh.

Pasternak: [frustrated groan]

[music, toothpaste ad]

George: You see, Gracie? I told you we couldn’t make Margaret Kelly a movie star. And you practically wrecked MGM. Mr. Pasternak is in bed with two doctors.

Gracie: Really?

[long pause]

George: You’re letting that go by…? In bed, with two doctors. [pause] Aren’t you gonna say, isn’t that crowded?

Gracie: Oh, don’t be silly, of course not.

George: Well, good, good. Maybe for once we can have an intelligent conversation.

Gracie: ‘Isn’t that crowded.’ How do I know it’s crowded? Maybe they’re small doctors.

[laughter]

George: [rueflly] I’m a dreamer. Well, I hope this has taught you that it’s impossible to get an unknown girl into the movies.

Gracie: It certainly has, George. To get into the movies, a girl has to be famous before she even arrives in Hollywood.

George: Of course.

Gracie: So I’ve got some brilliant publicity ideas for Margaret Kelly. Now, for example. I’m saying that Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant are fighting over her. Then I’m giving that story to Louella Parsons and Hedda Harper.

George: Gracie, you can’t do that, they just got married.

Gracie: Oh, go on, Louella and Hedda aren’t even good friends.

George: I mean Stewart and Grant just got married.

Gracie: Well, they’ll certainly make a beautiful couple.

[laughter]

George: Gracie, is there any way to stop this girl from getting here?

Gracie: No. And besides, some of my publicity ideas won’t work until Margaret arrives. Like having a baby, and posing for–

George: Hold it, hold it. You want her to have a baby?

Gracie: Well, that got Rita Hayworth lots of publicity. Now, you’ll have to excuse me, George, I’ve got millions of things to do. I’m going next door to borrow Harry Morton’s bearskin rug and gun.

George: What for?

Gracie: Publicity pictures. I’ll have Margaret lying on a bearskin rug in a slinky evening gown, and I’ve hired a man to stand beside her as a love-crazed admirer and shoot himself.

George: You hired a stunt man?

Gracie: No, he’s full-grown.

George: Oh, a tall fellow.

[laughter]

George: [dryly] I think I’ll get in bed with Pasternack.

[jaunty scene-change music]

Blanche Morton: Oh, hello, Harry. Hard day at the office?

Harry Morton: Brutal. Dinner ready?

Blanche: Well, uh…

Harry: Hey, where’s the bearskin rug?

Blanche: Gracie borrowed it, to use in a picture.

Harry: Probably lost George’s baby picture, and wants to pose him like that again.

Blanche: Eugh, what a repulsive thought. No, she’s using the rug for publicity pictures, to help the daughter of an old friend get into the movies. She wanted your gun, too, but I didn’t let her have it.

Harry: Why not?!

Blanche: She doesn’t know anything about guns. She could blow her brains out!

Harry: Blanche…nobody can hit a target that small.

[laughter]

Blanche: Gracie’s brain is just as big as yours.

Harry: It is, huh. When I told her I shot that bear in the Adirondacks, she told me why didn’t I get closer and shoot it in the head.

Blanche: All right. All right, so she doesn’t know from mountains. But she’s sweet, and kind. Always going out on a limb to help somebody. Wonder who’d go out on a limb for her.

Harry: A squirrel.

Blanche: Now, look. You make one more crack about Gracie, and that tooth hanging from your watch chain will be your own.

Harry: All right, all right. I suppose this girl she’s getting into pictures will move in with George and Gracie, making our life even more hectic.

Blanche: Well, she’s going to, but I suggested Gracie rent a little place for her. So she’s going over to Henning’s real estate office.

Harry: Poor Henning. He went through the whole war without a scratch, and now this has to happen.

[jaunty scene-change music]

Gracie: Ah, how-do. I’d like to rent a small mansion, please. It’s for a movie star.

Henning: I see. Any particular type of construction?

Gracie: Yes, she’s a girl.

[laughter]

Henning: Well, I was referring to the mansion. I have quite a nice colonial place in Beverly Hills that a movie star and his wife have been occupying. It has the white pillars, and six little gables.

Gracie: No!

Henning: …yes!

Gracie: But they’ve only been married three weeks.

Henning: Madam. The gables are on the roof.

Gracie: Well, it’s their honeymoon. Let them spend it where they like.

Henning: Uh, perhaps I’d better show you some pictures, eh?

Gracie: All right. Nothing risque, though.

[extended laughter]

Henning: Pictures of houses. Here we are. Look through these.

Gracie: Oh, here’s a nice one.

Henning: I’m sorry, really, but this house is in escrow.

Gracie: Is that far from Hollywood?

Henning: Madam – madam, ‘escrow’ is – no, I don’t need the business that bad.

Gracie: Now, have you got something with two swimming pools?

Henning: Two swimming pools?

Gracie: Yes. I’d like two swimming pools and two diving boards.

Henning: How about one swimming pool and a tennis court.

Gracie: Oh, goodness, no. I wouldn’t want to dive off a diving board and hit a tennis court.

Henning: You mean, “…again.”

[audience loves it]

Gracie: What was that?

Henning: Nothing, nothing. But I have no houses with two pools. I suggest an apartment.

Gracie: Oh, all right.

Henning: I can rent her a bachelor for a hundred a month.

Gracie: Oh, no thanks. I got a Bill Goodwin for nothing. Now, show me some apartments.

[jaunty scene-change music]

[knocking]

George: Come in.

Bill: Hi, George. Has the glamour girl arrived yet?

George: Not yet, Bill. Hey, you’re really slicked up. Tuxedo and everything.

Bill: Yeah, Gracie appointed me official escort for the San Francisco doll. You know, Hollywood is full of wolves, and ol’ Bill is gonna protect her.

George: Who’s gonna protect her from ol’ Bill?

Bill: Aw, George. A girl is as safe with me as her own mother.

George: I’m not sure her mother is safe with you.

Bill: For a straight man, you’re really punching.

George: Well, sure. How often is Gracie gone?

Bill: All the time.

[laughter]

George: You beat me to that one. [knocking] Come in?

Reporter: Mr. Burns? I’m a reporter for the Associated Press. This is my photographer.

Photographer: Hi.

Reporter: Your wife tipped us off about this glamorous new movie star, Margaret Kelly. Has she arrived yet?

George: Not yet.

Reporter: Gee, we got a deadline in a few minutes. The editor told us to bring back a picture of some beautiful legs.

Bill: Oh, if that’s all you want, I’ll roll up my pants and–

George: Bill! Look, fellas, this girl should arrive any minute. Go into the den and help yourselves to the scotch.

Reporter: Okay, thanks. C’mon, Joe.

Photographer: Right.

[door close]

George: Joe looks like Sam the Tailor.

[audience is deeply amused]

Bill: Gosh, George, I wish Margaret would hurry up and get here. We’re really gonna do the town tonight, you know. Ciro’s, Mocambo, Romanoff’s, the sky’s the limit.

George: That’ll cost money.

Bill: Yeah, I hope the kid is loaded.

George: When you date a girl, she pays, eh? What’s your contribution?

Bill: Well, if I like her, and she’s a nice date, at the end of the evening I give her a little squeeze.

George: That’s all, you give her a squeeze?

Bill: Yeah, I always carry a tube of Amident toothpaste. [advertising patter]

George: I’d like to ask you one question. Before Amident was invented, how did you keep the girls happy?

Bill: Same way, I gave ‘em a little squeeze.

[door opening noise]

Gracie: Well, George, everything – oh, hello Bill.

Bill: Hi, Gracie.

Gracie: My, you look nice. Margaret’ll be thrilled.

Bill: Well, thank you. This tuxedo was the best I could do – my tails are at the cleaners.

Gracie: Well, I’m glad you didn’t wear one. She’ll find out you’re a wolf soon enough.

[laughter]

George: What’ve you got in that bakery box, Gracie?

Gracie: Well, I understand the newspapers will want Margaret to pose for cheesecake pictures, so I–

George along with Gracie: –bought a cheesecake.

[door opening noise]

Reporter: Hey, ah, look, Mr. Burns, we got a deadline. If this Kelly girl doesn’t – oh, is this her?

Gracie: Oh, no, no, no, I’m Mrs. Burns. I discovered Miss Kelly.

Reporter: Oh, good, then you can give us the story on her.

Gracie: All right. She’s, ah – what’s that I smell?

Reporter: That’s Johnny Walker.

Gracie: [disapprovingly] Well, he’s been drinkin’.

[laughter]

Gracie: Don’t let him have the story.

Reporter: I won’t. Now, about this glamorpuss, is she unattached?

Gracie: Oh, no, no, The foot bone’s connected to the leg bone, the leg bone’s connected to the…

George: …thigh bone, no, Gracie, he means is she married? No. She’s single.

Reporter: Has she made any pictures?

Gracie: Not in this country.

Reporter: Europe, huh?

Gracie: Yes, she made pictures for one of the biggest men there.

Reporter: Crank?

Gracie: No, they were very good.

Reporter: Is she from European parentage?

Gracie: I beg your pardon?

Reporter: What are her parents?

Gracie: Oh, one’s a man and one’s a woman.

Bill: Hey, Gracie, a car just drove up the driveway.

Gracie: Can you see anybody?

Bill: No, just the headlights.

Gracie: Well, that must be Margaret. Get your cameras ready, boys! George, help me spread out this bearskin rug!

George: Okay.

Gracie: Now, I want Margaret in a sophisticated pose…lying on the bearskin with a rose between her teeth, nibbling a bonbon and sipping a cocktail, while she smokes a cigarette in a small holder. And, Bill, you can be kissing her.

Bill: How’ll I fight my way through all that stuff? It’s gonna be a little crowded!

[knocking]

Gracie: Oh, there she is! Now, ready, everybody. Come in!

[door opening]

Tiny Child: Hello, is this where Mrs. Burns lives?

Gracie: Yes, I’m Mrs. Burns.

Tiny Child: [over shoulder] This is the right house, Mommy!

George: [dawning realization] Little girl, what’s your name?

Tiny Child: Margaret Kelly.

[laughter]

Tiny Child: I’m five years old, and I came to get in the movies.

George: Oh, no, you didn’t.

Gracie: [undeterred] Well, we’ve kept the photographer waiting long enough. Lie down on the rug and put this rose between your teeth…

George: [dryly] Yes, and here’s this long holder, Margaret.

[end music]

Gracie: Oh, now, stop rumbling and go to sleep, George. It’s after midnight!

George: Gracie, this house is too small for four people. Margaret and her mother can’t stay here!

Gracie: Oh, I’ve found room for everybody. Now go to sleep. You’ll need the rest.

George: Okay. Turn off the light.

Gracie: You know, I hate it, George. You look so cute sleeping there on the bearskin rug.

George: Good night, folks.

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