'All In A Day'

by Phineas Redux

—OOO—

Summary:— Stephanie 'Stevie' Garroch, 32, and Kelly Humber, 30, are lovers and actors contracted to Redoubtable Films Inc, which they also have shares in, a 'B' film Poverty Row movie studio located in Hollywood and New York in the 1930's. Showing just how much effort goes into producing even the slightest movie.

Disclaimer:— All characters are copyright ©2018 to the author. All characters, film companies, and film titles, in this story are fictional; and any resemblance to real companies, or real persons living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Note:— The German dialogue in this story was generated by using Internet English to German translations, which the reader should take into account if there are any particularly obvious discordant phrases or grammar faux pas apparent in the text.

Caution:— There is some swearing in this story.

—O—

"Lights?"

"Hot!"

"Sound?"

"Speed!"

"Camera?"

"Rollin'!"

"—and,—Action!"

"Like I said, Earle, we—"

Bang!

"Hold it. Bulb gone."

"F-ck! Cut!"

From a silent tomb the set erupts into a howling throng as gang-masters, technicians, producers, and workers stomp over, round, across, through, and swing on cables high above, the set. The actors therein having been left to their own devices while necessary repairs take place in the dark shed that calls itself a studio-stage. Behind the camera the photographer sits back wiping his brow under the hot Klieg lights, while the Director chomps down on his unlit cigar, looking fire and brimstone all round him.

Five minutes of loud mayhem pass.

"All ready!"

"Jeez, about f-ckin' time. Everybody in their places. Quiet!"

"Quiet!"

"—and,—Lights?"

"Hot!"

"How's Sound?"

"Up t'Speed!"

"Harry? Camera?"

"We're Rollin', agin'!"

"Right, wait please—OK, Action!"

"Look Earle, like I said, we—"

"Wait! F-ck, sound reel's jerkin'—need time t'straighten it out."

"F-ck me. Cut!"

Once more the silence in the large high-ceilinged stage dissolves in a raucous noise that would do an Eastern bazaar proud. The army of technicians and workers hiding behind the camera make their presence known in every direction. Carpenters, given precious extra minutes, start banging-in nails, sawing lengths of wood, or simply rolling backing-walls from one angle to another, apparently without any manager's orders. People, acrobats who seem to have come in from a local circus, swing on ropes or walk dangerously rickety platforms high in the air tending to lights cables and all the general ropes needed to hold up the set below. Sound engineers crouch over their fiendish machines, blue sparks flying from recalcitrant electrical equipment; coiled electric cables run across the floor under everyone's feet, including the set proper with the actors taking time from their acting to make sure they don't get a booted foot caught in a writhing serpent-like live cable. The Producer snarls at the Director, who gives back in kind what he receives; the Photographer grumbles at his assistant as the youth struggles to make sure the camera at least stays operational; the script-editor tries for the fortieth time to make the leading lady say the lines as they were written and not as she perceives them; all round a second mayhem rattles, bangs, crashes, and fizzles, as the professional crew go about the ordinary day-to-day business of trying to make a movie.

Time passes, and some kind of resolution appears.

"Right—Sound's OK now, boss."

"Ich werde es glauben, wenn es passiert! When it happens I will believe it—OK, fuckin' Lights?"

"What's that, boss? We're OK now, too."

"I f-ckin' said—Lights!"

"Oh—OK. Wait fer it—OK—Hot!"

"F-ck me,—Sound?"

"—er, yeah. —er, Speed, I think!"

"James, sei ein guter Junge; my life's passin' before my eyes, as it is. Sound?"

"Yeah, boss, yeah—Speed!"

"You don't say? Harold? Camera?"

"Rollin' fast!"

"Thank Gott! Lieber Gott im Himmel darüber, lass es diesmal glatt gehen, amenAction!"

"Earle, look, I said we—"

"Hold it! Film's jumpin' the gate. I'll hav'ta change the reel."

"Oh Gott!"

This time it was terminal.

"OK, take twenty, everyone—f-ckin' cameras'."

—O—

A few minutes later, in their shared dressing-room, Stephanie and Kelly sat back with cups of tea, considering the situation.

"Everything's goin' pretty smoothly, all in all."

"Yeah, pretty much." Stephanie agreed with the woman she shared all her life with, nodding happily. "At this rate we should come in on time an' below cost, too."

"Yep, Gautermann's got the set runnin' like an army parade-ground—pretty smooth."

"Only the odd expected set-back; nuthin' t'worry about."

"Yep, nice smooth runnin', so far; though this is still only the third day."

"Oh, the rest'll be just as—"

Bang—Crash—Thumpity-Thump.

There came a banging on the dressing-room door as the call-boy passed by.

"On stage, everybody—next act's hot t'go."

"That was fast." Kelly depositing her tea-cup on the table and rising from her chair.

"Gautermann's got everythin' workin' like a ten-day clock. Come on, better not be late—he'll only start swearin' at us in German, again."

"Har."

—O—

The only thing about working in a Poverty Row 'B' movie studio, as Redoubtable certainly allowed itself to be, was the general low quality of the surroundings and working environment. The cameras were old and second-hand; the sets were put up at the minimal cost to production possible; they tried to shoot quickly and without time consuming mishap, as this kept the power bill low; and the wages and salaries were also low, including those of the actors—particularly the actors, in fact; there was no messing about with the studio contract business at a Poverty Row studio, if you angered the Front Office you were out and someone, likely cheaper, was in, that was all there was to it. As a result when on set, under the hot lights, and in front of the hastily run-up back-drops well, anything could happen.

"So, we start again, eh?" Gautermann, Heinrich to his friends—but they were all still over in Germany,—surveyed the field of his operations with a dismal scowl. "OK, we go—Marnie—Lights?"

"Yeah, boss,—Hot!"

"James, you good for Sound?"

"—no, the other way, Bernie, up to the thirty mark; yeah, that's right. What was that, boss?"

"F-ckin Sound, trottel!"

"Ah, right—no, no, wait a mo, right—Speed!"

"Gott im Himmel! Harry, are your camera goin'?"

"Yeah, boss, smooth as a baby—"

"Camera!"

"God—I mean—Rollin'!"

"Es wird nur noch schlimmer werden! Actors—Act! I mean—Action!"

"What was that, Heinie?" Kelly bemused as all get-out. "What?"

"Nein—Nein—Cut—f-ckin' Cut!"

Kelly turned on the Master with her celebrated No.1 frown.

"Wasn't anything I did, Heinie." She shrugged her shoulders dismissively. "What d'you expect, talkin' t'everybody in Krau—I mean, German. We talk American here in California, y'know."

"Oh, really?" Gautermann snarling like a wildcat denied its supper. "If I had my way I'd still be over there—in civilisation; if it weren't for certain people there. I used to, how is it said?, hang out with Fritz Lang and Peter Lorre; now I have to work with a bunch of nutzlose idioten—how is it—layabouts. And don't call me Heinie—actors call me Herr Gautermann."

"And we all call ya Heinie, Heinie." Stephanie coming it the Mistress of all Creation at a necessary moment. "We call the shots, you jump to them—that's the California way. Shall we start again, Herr Direktor?"

Gautermann chewed the remains of his cigar to pulp, spat the residue out on the concrete floor by his boots, and pulled a fresh stogie from an inside pocket before carrying-on.

"Alle Engel im Himmel! We start once more. Oh Herr, für mich. Lights?"

"Number One Klieg's gone—have to change the arc—otherwise—Hot an' High!"

"F-ck the Klieg, it's on the side—no-one will notice in the theater, too busy eating their popcorn. James? Make me feel gut, ja? Sound?"

"Rollin',—no, wait, that's not me—I mean—Speed! Yeah, boss, it is—Speed!"

"Wenn ich nur meinen revolver dabei hätte? OK, Camera?"

"Yep, turnin' smooth—Rollin'!"

"Ich danke allen Göttern. Ladies, now you work—nein? Action?"

"Earle, I said we—"

Crash.

Behind the two women on the set, in full view of the camera, a back-drop dropped to the concrete floor with an almighty thump that raised a cloud of white dust, effectively shutting down shooting for at least quarter of an hour, till it settled.

"AA-Aaaagh!"

—O—

On location you would expect working conditions to be rather lighter, happier, easier, and generally more acceptable than in the hot studio—but nothing could be more wrong. The actors merely changed hot Klieg lights for the burning Sun; the tight restraints and stuffy atmosphere of the enclosed stage for the hot dusty desert; with all its sand, loose rocks, and other dangers. Then there was the interminable waiting around while the production crew got everything settled to their individual satisfaction. The electric lights, supplied by generator, when it worked, were enhanced by large silvered metal reflectors, hand-held by workers behind the camera or off-screen by a few yards—but still near enough to blind the actors with the reflected light. No, filming on location was never a bed of roses; even when everything went smoothly.

"Ach, the Sun shines so!" Gautermann realising the obvious on the first morning of location work, wiping his brow with a green bandana. "So, we start, no? Lights?"

"Yeah, OK—I mean, Hot!"

"Als ob sie gebraucht würden. Sound?"

"Dam' dust. Dust's gettin' in the works, Heinie—but, Speed, fer the present, anyway."

"So geht es in Babelsberg nicht! Harold, give me your Camera?"

"What? Oh, yeah—Rollin'!"

"Lieber Gott, lass es gut funktionieren! Miss Kelly—Action!"

"Dave, you see the top of that ridge over there? We got'ta get—Jee-suus!"

Bang—Bang-Bang.

"It is OK, It is OK, I got it—das verdammte ding ist tot, nein—be easy. I am a sharp-shooter. There is no more danger, nein?"

Gautermann, dressed like a gunfighter himself, with heavy boots and a Smith and Wesson .45 in a holster round his waist, had been keeping an eye on the local environment even as he peered from the side of the camera at Kelly doing her thing some five yards away over the sandy ground. And he had spotted a rattlesnake in the instant it broke cover from a clump of thick dry grass and started to make its way towards his star's foot.

Stephanie raced across, grabbed Kelly's arm, and dragged her yards away from the danger zone. Meanwhile the crew came forward to eyeball the snake lying twisted on the dusty ground, completely dead, having been cut in two by Gautermann's bullets.

"All is well. Perhaps we up-sticks and make our scene somewhere further off, nein? This living in California, it is unbequem, how is it?, not comfortable. Come, you lot, break the set and let us go, oh, over there some ways. No more snakes over there, believe me."

Having made sure her lover was still in one piece and not too much shocked by the incident Stephanie turned her attention to the German Director.

"Well, good shootin', Herr Gautermann. Thanks."

"Oh, it was nothing. We have to look after the star, after all, do we not? Where would the movie be without her, eh? It is all a mere matter of economics."

"Har!"

—O—

The fact that the actors were free from the annoyance of falling sets out on location was no guarantee that other things might not take their place—and they did, regularly.

"Cut! That was a gut scene, no?" Gautermann pleased as Punch. "We go now to the next scene. It is—"

"Boss?"

"What? What is it, Harry? We are on a schedule; you must not behindern me so."

"Boss, look over there; beyond where Miss Humber was standing in this last scene. See?"

Gautermann, looking quizzically at his Photographer, turned to where the last scene had been shot and did what had been asked of him.

"So? The place is now empty; we have finished the scene. What?"

"Over there, beyond the setting—oh, about quarter of a mile away. See the cars on that road? I think we got 'em sharp an' clear on that last recording." Harry Thomson, Photographer in residence, had been using his sharp eyes to better effect than the Director. "We print that scene, the movin' cars'll come up sharp as Glory; which is sad, seein' this part of our movie's set in the Wild West 1880's?"

A significant pause ensued, many of the nearby crew later attesting they could hear, in the rumbling silence enveloping the set, a cricket standing on a stone half a mile off rubbing its back legs together. Then Gautermann began speaking in German.

—O—

"Third, is it?"

"Yep."

Kelly, sitting beside Stephanie on a large warm boulder off to one side of the jumble of equipment that went to making up a location shoot, pursed her lips thoughtfully.

"First take, those cars on that dam' country lane. Second take, the light wasn't right. Now, what's Gautermann doin'?"

"Changing the angle o'the shot; putting in some back-drop—got the men pullin' up those small bushes an' draggin' 'em over to form a back-stop. Figure he ain't gon'na make the same mistake about those dam' cars again."

"Ha, suppose not." Kelly nodded with a knowing air. "Live an' learn, eh? Well, otherwise, we're having quite a good day, three scenes in the bag today; that's good work."

"Yeah, think we might be ahead o'schedule, even. Good Director, Gautermann."

"Yeah, seen worse,"

"Hey, you two—on set, please."

"That's us, doll. We're wanted, can't think why."

"Fool. Come on, let's get over there an' save the movie, as always."

"God baby, just love the way you love yourself."

"In the blood, lover, in the blood. Come on, Gautermann's turnin' a lovely shade o'lavender, again, awaiting our presence."

—O—

With the European situation being what it was, politically speaking, a large number of foreign movie related personnel had come over to the States looking for fresh fields and pastures new, of whom Heinrich Gautermann was a prime example. Stephanie and Kelly were momentarily at a standstill, while the crew set-up a new position for the coming scene, allowing them time to gossip together—always a good hobby and excellent method of passing time while on location.

"What kind'a movies' he make back in the Fatherland, then?" Kelly always being up for the inside grift.

"Mystical, strange, intellectual." Stephanie shook her head glumly. "Saw one six months ago—ful'la montages ya can't make head nor tail of. An' as for plot, forget it—men shouting at each other; women giving each other snake glances; people coming in for one scene that seems important, then ya never see them again. Then the movie ends, an' ya still don't know what was happenin'; what happened; an' whether there was any real conclusion t'the storyline or not."

"Ah, that kind'a movie?"

"All the way, baby, all the dam' way."

"Expressionist, I think it's called." Kelly showing away with what she hoped was true fact.

"Yeah, likely." Stephanie making a rude noise between her lips. "Anyway, he can't try that in the sort'a movies we're makin' now. Not much place fer montages an' Expressionism in a Cowboy an' Cops an' Robbers' movie, eh?"

"Nah, you're right there, doll."

Crash.

"What was that?"

"Something broke." Stephanie stepping up to the line like a hero.

"You don't say?"

From somewhere in the middle distance, softly fluttering on the gentle breeze, the sound of an irate German film Director could be heard.

"Verdammte maschinen. Warum ist es immer ich? Es ist kaputt? Dann mach es nicht kaputt, dummkopf! Verdammte filme, Ich sollte zur Versicherung zurückkehren."

"What's Heinrich sayin'?"

"Don't know, Kel." Stephanie shrugged off-handedly. "Come on, looks like we'll be needed on this supposed set in a minute. Things are goin' well, mind you; a good day's filming."

"Yep, Gautermann runs things pretty smooth, got'ta give him credit where it's due. Oh, he's waving at us again; that's our cue, dear."

"Har."

—O—

Part of the movies' story being set in the Old West, 1880's or thereabouts, the only motive power available then would have been horses; and so here on set, in 1935, horses it had to be—even though Heinrich Gautermann was not a horse person; no, not by a long way. As on every movie of this kind, though, there was a wrangler in charge of the said beasts—for what that was worth.

"Just as well we don't need a herd o'cattle fer this story." Stephanie acknowledging the good point of the whole sorry affair.

"Yeah, these dam' hosses are enough trouble by themselves." Kelly scratching her head as both women stood to one side of the location set watching the back-up actors handling their steeds. "I know Sam Fuller, there; but the other two, they don't look like they know how t'ride."

Her words were even then proven to be accurate as all three horses, complete with powerless riders, decided to quit for the day and made a concentrated rush for the main camera unit, plus Producer and Director.

"Verrückte Pferde. Halt, geh weg. Go away; you not come here; you not den Regisseur zertreten. Gott im Himmel!"

Two horses passed the irate director on his left, narrowly missing the camera on its tripod; while the third, going for broke on its own, actually took the Producer, Vernon Kemble, off his feet, rolling in the dust in a confusion of arms and legs.

"Gott, jetzt ist mein Produzent tot. Someone bring those horses back; es ist nicht so wichtig bei den Reitern. Then we carry on, nein? Vernon, bist du noch am Leben? Ach, only bruises; so, we continue. Ladies, if you please, we are ready for the next scene. Miss Humber, in this scene ich möchte, dass du ausdrucksstark bist. OK?"

"What? I mean, what?"

"Oh, diese großen Amerikaner. Will you be a little more expressive, please. You understand?"

"If you want."

"Was ich will und was ich bekomme sind anders. You are ready, Miss Humber, gut—everybody, the usual procedure and—Action!"

So peremptorily addressed the crew, used to the polite niceties, found themselves at odds with each other and in total confusion.

""Wait, I ain't had time t'switch the sound recorders on."

"Hey, half my lights are still out."

"Jee-sus, gim'me a chance t'get the bloody camera up t'speed, why don't ya, Heinie."

"Act? What, me? You mean, right now? The camera ain't rollin' yet, y'realise?"

"Oh Gott, warum kann ich nicht wieder in Babelsberg sein?"

—O—

The problem with shooting a movie at night is the darkness—the all-surrounding darkness. The term black as night never being so appropriate as when out in the desert with only the stars as illumination. There were a few electric lights on tall stands, powered by petrol-driven generators which, while obviously necessary, made a damn lot of noise. It also meant the Lighting Department came into its own, above and beyond all other Departments, for the time being. Covering scenes at night was usually a much slower activity than doing the same in broad daylight. And, of course, the local wildlife came to the fore, attracted by the bright light—this consisting of everything from coyotes wailing in the middle-distance to moths and large biting flies whirling all round and getting in the way of the actors as they worked in front of the rolling cameras.

"Und so fangen wir in der Nacht an. Miss Garroch, you are ready, nein?

"Yeah, I'm up fer it—let's start the dance anytime ya like, Heinrich."

"Ha, ein joker? That is all I need. So, everyone, heads-up. Lights?"

"Yeah, can't ya see? Oh, alright,—Hot!"

"Kein Sarkasmus bitte. And—Sound?"

"Wait fer it, Director, the power's low in this transformer—OK, Speed, for a while, anyway!"

"Amerikanische Techniker, im Vaterland wäre das anders. Camera?"

"Rollin', fast an' straight—go fer it!"

"Ha, endlich ein positiver ausblick! And we begin—Action!"

"What I don't know is where he thinks—aagh—Jee-sus, the bloody thing bit me on my neck. Jeez, it stings."

"Großer Gott, alle Dämonen in der Hölle schauen mir über die Schulter? Cut! What is the matter? What? A fly? A fly bit you? And for this you interrupt a great Direktor? What is the matter with you Americans? Are you happy now? You are not injured enough to warrant the hospital? Nein? You surprise me; so, we begin again, from the start. Techniker, wir fangen an—Lights?"

"Jeez, they're still on. OK,—Hot!"

"Huh—Sound?"

"Speed still. Ya never told me t'switch it off, ya know."

"Unverschämter Narr. What's next? Oh, ja—Camera?"

"Still Rollin', Gov!"

"Ha, ein anderer Joker. Dies sollte eine Komödie sein! Well, Miss Garroch, if another fly bothers you be stoical, nein—and carry on for God's sake. Action!"

—O—

And so the weary night rolled on through the darkness; people bumping into each other, workers losing precious tools just when most required by some emergency, the generators acting up for no reason, and the local wildlife, through its very presence before the camera lens, or because of the constant howling or wailing in the distance, representing a definite hindrance in its own right. Then came the stunt scene.

The thing about stuntmen, because they were generally male, was their well-known propensity to be three reefs to the wind at any particular moment—that is, they were all quite generally visualised as being barking mad; something that tended to show in their actions on set.

"Nein, nein, Mr Hamilton; I do not want you to roll the car three times and end up on the roof in the dust; this is not a James Cagney movie. All I want is for you to slide the vehicle off the road, to the left side so the camera can catch it, then run it head on into that tree—but not too fast, after all we do not want to injure you, do we?"

"Ran a car straight off a forty-foot cliff three weeks ago. Made a lovely sight, watching it back on the film; came down on its nose and rolled the rest of the way sideways to the bottom of the gully. John Wayne said, a few minutes after when I'd been pulled from the wreck, better me than him—Ha-Ha!"

"Warum bin ich von verrückten Leuten umgeben? That will not be necessary, thank you. Just hit the tree. I am a simple man, and nothing more will make me supremely happy, OK?"

Having to capture the dramatic moment on film, in this modern-day portion of the movie, the camera and its crew had to be positioned fairly close to the dusty track that passed for a road. The Director, too, crouched by the side of the camera as was also usual, to appreciate the best view of the whole scene; and so—

"Ready? I say,—Ready? Jesus, will someone shout to that fool? Ready, go? Go? Gott, er kann mich nicht hören. Ah, he is moving finally, at last—"

"Heinrich, you never told me to roll, y'know."

"What? You are not rolling? Jeesus, stop the car. Stop! Stop! Someone stop that madman. Stop! Gott, was macht er?"

Hamilton, feeling vibrant full of himself and energetic to a degree, had decided to ad-lib—not so easy when driving a two-ton car. Instead of the conservative, almost boring one might say, head-on slow bump into a tree, he had decided that what this movie badly needed to ginger it up was a full-on car mash-up—and wasn't he just the expert who could provide such to order? So the raving fool did—

Before Gautermann's unbelieving eyes Hamilton twisted his saloon's steering-wheel violently—so much so, in fact, the relatively high centre of gravity rolled the car over as by a giant invisible hand. It rolled three times, each roll bringing it nearer the camera and Director, then finished in a cloud of dust on its roof, wheels spinning dramatically in the air.

By which time, of course, both the camera crew and Director had vacated the premises and tried to break the world's record for running from California to Nevada—they all ending up forty yards further down the road, only stopping to inspect the still dust-hidden wreck from a safe distance.

"Ist jeder hier verrückt? Was habe ich getan um das zu verdienen? Is he dead, verdammter Dummkopf. Did we get that on film, Harold? Nein? Jee-sus. What's that? He's unconcious? What else would the dummkopf be, I ask you? Oh, alright, load him in someone's car, and take him away to hospital. We'll come back to the car hitting the tree when we can find a man sane enough to understand what is wanted. Break, everyone—the night is over for us. Go home. Nine o'clock tomorrow morning at the ranch set, OK? Gott, stuntmen."

—O—

"What'd he end up with? Concussion? Well, what else could he expect?" Stephanie was standing at the side of the stage-set in the studio two days later listening to Kelly give her an update on the drama of the previous two night's ago incident.

"Dam' near made an authentic pancake out'ta Gautermann." Kelly squeezing the topic for all it was worth.

"Didn't Hamilton run a car off a cliff, a month or so ago?"

"Yep, right in front of that guy John Wayne's eyes." Kelly wholly in the know on this juicy tidbit. "Rolled it off the cliff-edge, shimmied it down the vertical cliff, then rolled the rest o'the way to the bottom. Took the crew three-quarters of an hour t'prise him free of the wreckage, so I was told."

"Man's crazy."

"We know that—as does almost everyone else in Hollywood—but not poor Gautermann."

"At least he got the right stunt last night, finally."

"Yeah, though only after four takes and four different saloons were punch-drunked." Kelly sighed dismissively. "He got it, anyway. So, what's on the agenda for today's shenanigans?"

"Let's see—just Scene Forty-seven D, and Scene Forty-seven E. Maybe Scene Fifty-five, if we have time."

"Ah, right. Gautermann's gettin' through the production like a hot knife through soft butter, mind you." Kelly nodding approval at this fine economic stance. "How far ahead of schedule are we now, dear?"

"Four days certain, maybe five." Stephanie grinned happily. "We'll wrap this movie in record time—at least fer Redoubtable, anyway. Save maybe forty thousand dollars, or so. Good Director, Gautermann, wouldn't say no t'having him helm another movie, sometime."

"Yeah, he certainly gets results, I'll give him that." Kelly took her lover's hand as they made their way across the messy crowded concrete floor of the wide stage towards the set. "Here he comes, by the by. Oh, look, he's got his left wrist bandaged. Hi, Heinrich, what happened?"

"What happened?, Mr Crazy-as-a-bat Hamilton happened, dear lady." Gautermann stopped to gently caress his injured wrist. "I had to help extricate the fool from the twisted heap he made of that dam' saloon—took over half an hour, and when it was pulled sideways I twisted my wrist. Gott, movies; my father wanted me to go into Insurance, you know. Oh Vater, warum habe ich nicht getan, wie du es wünschst? However, to work—where are we now? Ah, ja, Scene Forty-seven D—this scene I feel I can do something spectacular with. You are both in the scene together, nein? And you, Miss Garroch, are wholly opposed to Miss Humber, nein? You hate each other—"

"Our characters' do, at least. If that's what you mean, Heinrich?" Stephanie angling for sense in this conversation.

"Ja, ja, your characters', of course, what else?" Gautermann shook his head indifferently. "For real it is perfectly clear to one and all you two are, how is it said in American?, wahre liebhaber, nein?"

"If ya say so, Heinrich." Stephanie not altogether clear as to his meaning, but nervous he was coming too near the truth for public consumption.

"Ach, it is nothing—in Deutschland we take this with a pinch of salt, and think nothing of it; it is merely Nature." Gautermann here showing an open-mindedness neither woman had previously noted in his make-up. "So, in this scene I want you both to give your all, you understand?"

"You want us to go for it, Heinrich?" Kelly frowning, but almost seeing what was wanted.

"Go for it? Ja, that will be perfect—go for it, for all you are worth, both of you. Do not hold back—in Deutschland our actresses do not hold back—that is why, of all the world, they are of course the bes—er, that is, we shall start the scene in a short moment, if you will both take your places, ja?"

Everyone moved to their either official or chosen places in the echoing shed that formed the big Stage.

"So, silence on the stage, everyone."

"Quiet!"

"Frank, why do you have to yell so loud? Ich habe ohrenschmerzen. OK, this is to be a great scene; you will all revere it when it is over. So, we begin—Lights?"

"Is that Klieg ever gon'na be fixed, Terry? No? Huh. Oh,—Hot, Heinrich!"

"Ich bin so froh. Sound?"

"Speed!"

"What?"

"Speed, Heinrich. I'm ready, it's Speed!"

"Gott, fast unnatürlich! Camera?"

"Rollin' sweet an' true, baby—I mean Heinrich, sir!"

"Gott, was für ein Mob! Now remember, ladies—go for everything you have; break the scenery if you wish—but give it all. Action!"

And they did, and it was perfect on the first take.

"Oh, ich bin der glücklichste Regisseur in Amerika!"

—O—

The day after filming finished Stephanie and Kelly sat on the sofa in the living-room of their shared condo in Hollywood, going over the previous few weeks work.

"That guy Gautermann's a great Director." Kelly giving credit where she felt it due.

"Yeah, ran a tight smooth ship; hardly any problems or hiccups at all." Stephanie no less sweeping in her praise. "And he brought the show in under budget and seven days early in the schedule."

"And got some great shots; some of those location scenes he captured are real doozies, dear."

"Yeah, and that quarrel scene between us, that was some of the best acting you've ever done, lady."

Kelly grinned at her amour, happy to be so praised.

"Not that you weren't right up there alongside me, baby. Couldn't have done it without you, that's all."

"That's very nice of you." Stephanie scrunched up a little closer to her loved partner. "So much so, in fact, I feel it needs something in the way of a little present, y'know."

"Oh, yeah?" Kelly wholly aware of what was in her lover's mind, and loving it. "What might that turn out t'be, then? Only askin'."

So Stephanie showed her.

—O—

"Of course I am happy to be directing this drama for Bulwark Films, Mr Jamieson." Heinrich Gautermann stood in the wide noisy main Stage of the veteran 'B' movie studio. "I am glad you felt my work on the last movie I made, at Redoubtable, was so good. Now, with this one I shall, how you say?, übertreffen mich—do an even better job, nein? So, you must go, already? It is time I started, anyway. Alright people, we begin the movie, nein? So, Lights?"

"Hot!"

"Gutt—Sound?"

"Speed!"

"Ausgezeichnet! Camera?"

"Rollin'!"

"Alles ist gut; so, you are ready, Herr Morgan? Action!"

"If you must know, darling, I just wan—"

Kaw-wumph!

All the lights went out; all the sound-recording machines whined gently as they growled to a halt; and the camera gave a squeal and stopped in its tracks—a wholesale block-wide power-failure across the board.

"Agh—ist die ganze Welt gegen mich? Aagh!"

The End

—O—

The next 'Redoubtable Studios' story will be along shortly.

—OOO—