Boogie Nights

by KEM Huntley

This ’70s joyride through LaLa Land’s exotic erotic film scene is a fresh twist on the extended family and the curious ties that bind. Writer/Director Paul Thomas Anderson presents a story that coolly dismisses accepted societal standards. He populates his screenplay with empty souls who follow their own (a)moral code, yet instead of alienating the audience, he convinces it to care.

A key component of this success is its underlying story structure. An exact storyform, however, is not immediately evidenced. At times it feels like an overall story with a goal of obtaining—the characters all want something: sex, drugs, fame and fortune. Other times the goal appears to be being—the characters believe their lifestyle is temporary and want to take on another role.  Buck dreams of being his own boss—ruling the “Super Cool Stereo World.” Following the grand argument may be somewhat difficult when the plot progression falters, for example, after Dirk Diggler (main character) and Jack Horner’s (influence character) falling out, the relationship story steps aside for a considerable amount of screen time in favor of the other three throughlines. Still and all, dressed in its best polyester double knit, Boogie Nights turns story into film art as the acting, cinematography, soundtrack, and so forth spins you through its disco party.

What follows is one “rolleroid” snapshot perspective of this Goodfellasesque epic:

Pornographic film director Jack Horner opens the door to his private paradise as the setting for the overall story. “It resembles the Jungle Room at Graceland” and comes complete with Jacuzzi, swimming pool, and its own (basement) film studio. Talent resides at this secure (thematic issue) funhouse where reality is distorted by white lines and Cuervo Gold. It is here where the changing industry (story goal of progress) is debated:

FLOYD

The video revolution is upon us—and our role is critical.

COLONEL

Jack, please understand that this is not an argument . . . this is a fact (overall story catalyst).

JACK

What?

COLONEL

I think that there is a serious case to be made for the price and the gamble on the whole idea of a home video market . . . two, three years from now, everyone’s gonna be able to walk into their local supermarket and buy or rent a videocassette . . . film is just too damn expensive . . . the theaters are already planning converting to video projectors.

Jack represents a different way of thinking. He has the ability (thematic issue) to direct “stellar, sexual standouts” but his true desire (thematic counterpoint) lies in making porno films with “stories.” Jack discovers (story driver–action) the next big thing, Dirk’s big thang, and the relationship story throughline sets in motion as each takes a fixed position on what it means to be a director and an actor. The thematic issue of confidence illustrates the positive aspects of their relationship. Jack is certain of Dirk’s value (relationship story catalyst), and this assuredness plays out–making the director amenable to the kid’s ideas—his  own stage name and his own action series (Brock Landers: Angels Live in my Town).

Sweet-natured and trusting (main character symptom), Dirk is a physics character, whose first approach to a problem is to work it out externally (doer). His male mental sex has led him to an environment where he can be “a big, bright, shining star.” An inexperienced (thematic counterpoint) actor, Dirk’s raw skills (thematic issue) are applauded in the adult film world (“Diggler delivers a performance (doing) worth a thousand hard-ons”).

The relationship story concern is explored in the preconscious, where Dirk’s anywhere, anytime, sexual impulses (“I can do it again if you need a close-up”) are filmed under the direction of Jack. The fantasy world Jack fabricates for Dirk eventually inhibits their relationship. Dirk boasts he blocks his own sex shots “. . . and he (Jack) gives me flexibility to work with the character . . .”  His vanity pricked, Jack laughs it off.

Jack’s tolerance (problem of accurate) of Dirk’s escalating ego and cocaine habit reaches its limit, illustrated when Dirk, strung out, screams, “YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!” (solution of non-accurate) and Jack immediately fires him (overall story consequence of preconscious).

Anderson deftly indicates how the effects of the objective characters’ individual circumstances create dilemmas for them: the effect Amber Waves’ career choice has on her custody battle (no visiting rights), the effect Little Bill’s wife’s flagrant sexual escapades have on her husband (murder in cold blood), and particularly, the devastating effect Dirk has on Scotty (heart wrenching humiliation).

For Dirk, doing the hustle no longer means choreographed booty shakes—it’s risky street business with ill effects (main character problem). Trapped in a nightmarish parody of his own action films (Guns! Firecrackers! Sister Christian!) Dirk finally realizes he has no other option but to stop his wayward Wonderland course—that only he can be the agent (cause) of his change—a solution shared in the overall story.

Stripped of his pride, a wiser (unique ability) Dirk stumbles back to his Hollywood home. By this time, Jack has resolved his own problem of sticking to the proven method of producing porno on film to successfully using videotape (unproven). Preparing for his next feature with Jack, Dirk’s angst has evaporated (story judgment good). He is cool. He is sexy. He chants to his mirror image—“I’m a star, I’m a star, I’m a star, I’m a star, I’m a star, I’m a big bright shining star”—and karate kicks to the credits.

Pecker

by KE Monahan Huntley

Pecker is a Dramatica grand argument story emanating from John Waters’ weird, yet very real, world. Pecker (main character) is a “snappy go happy—happy go lucky” amateur photographer. His sidekick, and occasional assistant, Matt, is a pro at “five-finger discounts.”

PECKER

Dude, you’re gonna get popped.

MATT

Not me bro—I’m invisible.

Pecker’s girlfriend, Shelley the “stain goddess” (influence character), operates the local laundromat—The Spin n’ Grin.

PECKER

You’re my Venus De Milo.

SHELLEY

You’re crazy. You see art when there’s nothing there.

Pecker’s parents run business ventures that run in the red. His mother’s thrift store outfits the homeless; his father’s dive bar cannot compete with the strip club (overall story focus-temptation) across the way. Little sister Little Chrissy is a sugar maven; big haired big sister Tina bartends at the downtown gay discotheque. Grandmother Memama has a roadside pit beef (!) sandwich stand, and believes her Blessed Mary statue speaks (overall story solution-faith).

Pecker is open (main character unique ability) to the variety of life in and outside of Hampden, a district of Baltimore: “If it wasn’t for you, Peckerman, I’d never know this shit existed.”

To Pecker, “everything always look good” through the lens of his camera.

Pecker has taken pictures all over Baltimore for his first exhibit to be held at the fast-food joint where he works, The Sub Pit.

The fliers he has plastered around town (main character approach-doer) catch the eye of Rorey. She approaches (overall story catalyst) Pecker, checkbook in hand: “Your pictures are amazing. They’re the real thing. . . . I’d love to give you a show in my New York Gallery—if you’d be willing.”

At the opening, Pecker and his “culturally challenged family” are introduced to the New York art world that anoint him: “A brand new art star.” Pecker snaps pics of the chic crowd because: “Life is nothing if you’re not obsessed.”

The family returns to Hampden to find their home burglarized. Rorey encourages him to: “Take pictures, Pecker. This could be your next show. Your dad’s loss. Your mom’s sadness. Get close-ups.” As quickly as the community has embraced Pecker’s fame, they are ready to disown it—and him. The police officer investigating the case admonishes the boy: “What they call art up in New York young man, looks like just plain misery to me.” Shelley entreats him not to: “. . . become (consequence) an asshole, Pecker. I beg of you, do not become an asshole.”

All manners of catastrophes hit. Little Chrissy is put on Ritalin. Matt is caught shoplifting. Tina’s fired. Memama is accused of faking Mary’s miracle. Pecker can no longer take original photos: “I’m trying to get new stuff, but everyone knows me now.” As one potential snapshot subject snaps: “Some people don’t feel like being art.”

When Rorey puts the moves on Pecker (main character focus-temptation), an act witnessed by Shelley—it is the last straw for the photographer (main character response-conscience). Assuring Shelley he loves her “more than Kodak” (relationship story thematic counterpoint-commitment) he turns his back on New York and says: “They can come to me this time . . . I’m going to have my own show right here in Baltimore (mental sex-female).”

Shelley learns (overall story requirement) to appreciate the colors of her world (influence character resolve-change), and the town realizes its favorite son is true blue (main character resolve-steadfast). New York travels to Baltimore by limousine, and Pecker’s “outsider art” is a brilliant success (overall story outcome). All applause for Pecker and “the end of irony.” A newscaster inquires, “So what’s next, Pecker?” To which he replies, “Well. I’m thinking of directing a movie.” (main character concern-future)

Go

Go on a road trip, Go-Go Girls on the Vegas strip.  Take X for the head trip.

In this one night stand of a film, director Doug Liman and Writer John August’s “Ginseng and Dexatrim” fueled skim of L.A.’s surface picks the audience up and we go to Hollywood and Vegas, baby, travelling with outsiders who interact and occasionally intersect with each other in three different stories.

Part one, “Ronna.” originally intended as a short, concerns Ronna Martin, grocery store checkout clerk. Taking Simon’s (protagonist in part two) shift, she’s working the register when Zack and Adam (protagonists in common for part three) come through the line. Facing eviction, opportunity knocks in the guise of a drug deal:

ZACK

Say . . . (checks nametag) Ronna. You don’t know where we could get something to go with this orange juice, do you? . . . something . . . euphoric.

Off the timeclock, Ronna and cohorts Claire and manic Mannie are in the car:

CLAIRE

You know that Simon’s in Vegas.

RONNA

I don’t need Simon. I’m going to Todd.

MANNIE

Todd GAINES?

CLAIRE

Who’s Todd Gaines?

MANNIE

Simon’s dealer. . . . But it’s like an evolutionary leap. You’re moving up the drug food chain. Without permission.

CLAIRE

Ronna, you shouldn’t do this.

RONNA

Both of you just chill the fuck out. It’s just once. When Simon gets back, we can still pay for quarters . . . . But this is my deal, so just sit back and watch.

We all watch as the best laid plans unravel for Ronna. The deal is a set up. Zack and Adam are actors whose backstory is revealed. Recently busted for possession, they must play their part to make the illegal indiscretion go away.

Meanwhile in part two, “Simon,” a British lad, revels in the bright lights and big city of Las Vegas:  champagne, fast women, and a stolen fast car accessorized with a 9mm Beretta:

SIMON

This is why I came here. . . . America is about a man and a gun.

Go is a long, strange trip set to rave music that blares and neon lights that blur. The film features fringe characters that rollick in indiscriminate, illicit behavior. Pop culture references, many particular to L.A., convey much of the humor. As a slice of SoCal 90’s life, Go works extremely well. The film, however, does not appear to let well enough alone. Themes introduced but not explored indicate there might have been something more. For example, the only parent in the film contends:

VICTOR

In the old days, you know how you got to the top (thematic issue-experience)? By being better than the guy ahead of you (thematic counterpoint-skill). How do you people get to the top? By being so fucking incompetent that the guy ahead of you can’t even do his job, he falls on his ass and congratulations, you’re on top.

All this coming from a father who owns a strip joint and employs his son, Vic Jr., as the bouncer. The statement about today’s youth is issued forth but not followed up with a satisfying rebuttal-for or against.

Lack of context does not distract from the fun; however, it does undermine any meaningful thematic assertions Go is attempting to make. Protagonists erratically move the action forward in each story, but no time is allowed for emotional investment.  Concession is given to events that somewhat link the characters in all three stories:

BURKE

It’s all connected. The circle of life.

Not the Disney version, but life in the fast lane that may be extinct by the millennium. The last line uttered–“So. What are we doing New Year’s?”–hints at the pathos of characters who know they are going nowhere. Good times are for the moment only, underscored by the melancholy lyrics,

“Don’t let it go away, this feeling has got to stay . . .” as the credits roll on ”bye.”

Fast forward to 2020.  Watching Go with the millennial Socialites.

The fog rolls and retreats in a tentative, mincing manner.  No shade, no shroud for the ghostly crowd.  Outside, they are no longer allowed.

The parties.

The rowdies.

The “Howdies.”

Confiscated car keys.

“We aim to please.”

They’re such a tease.

“Ho.  Let’s blow.”

The lease is up, but there’s nowhere to Go.

American Beauty

by KEM Huntley

“Welcome to America’s Weirdest Home Videos”—an apt line from American Beauty, director Sam Mendes and screenwriter Alan Ball’s stark art set piece of individual torment and family calamity. Familiar familial territory immediately reminiscent of Ordinary People and The Ice Storm (films that influenced Mendes, Premiere 10/99), American Beauty is a Dramatica grand argument story that compels us to “look closer” at pain and mundane, and life will reveal the spectacular.

INANITY

Main character Lester Burnham recounts in voice-over: “I’m forty-two-years old. In less than a year, I’ll be dead. In a way, I’m dead already. . . Both my wife and daughter think I’m this gigantic loser (overall story problem-perception). And they’re right (main character problem-perception). I’ve lost something very important. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but I know I didn’t always feel this . . . sedated (main character focus-inertia). But you know what? It’s never too late to get it back” (main character growth-start).

At Lester’s ad agency, it has been decided (overall story driver) that: “. . . everyone write a job description, mapping out in detail how they contribute. That way, management can assess who’s valuable and who’s ‘expendable'” (overall story concern conceptualizing). Lester objects (main character approach-do-er) to this “fascist” order (overall story focus), Wife Carolyn, a study in glacial ambition, asserts: “There is no decision. Just write the damn thing! . . . you don’t want to be unemployed” (overall story direction-chaos).

Lester sulkily attends daughter Jane’s high school dance performance with Carolyn: “What makes you so sure she wants us to be there? Did she ask us to come? . . . I’m missing the James Bond marathon on TNT.”

Jane’s best friend and fellow “Dancing Pantherette” Angela Hayes (allusion to Nabokov’s Lolita Haze?) catapults Lester out of his malaise: “I feel like I’ve been in a coma for about twenty years (main character concern-past), and I’m just now waking up” (main character growth-start), priming him for impact character Ricky Fitts.

Apathetically escorting Carolyn to a realtor’s function: “Lester, listen to me. This is important . . . as you know, my business is selling an image (overall story problem-perception) . . . do me a favor and act happy” (overall story benchmark-being).  Lester is approached by Ricky, a waiter in the hotel:

RICKY
I’m Ricky Fitts. I just moved into the house next to you . . . Hey, do you party? (relationship story concern-doing).

LESTER
I’m sorry?

RICKY
Do you get high?

Lester’s surprised, but instantly intrigued . . .  Ricky and Lester stand next to a dumpster behind the service entrance to the hotel, smoking a JOINT (relationship story thematic issue-senses) . . .  Suddenly . . . a serious young MAN in a cheap suit peers out at them. Ricky hides the joint.

MAN
(to Ricky)

Look. I’m not paying you to . . . (eyes Lester suspiciously) . . . do whatever it is you’re doing out here (relationship story catalyst-interpretation).

RICKY
Fine. Don’t pay me . . .  I quit (impact character driver-change). Now, leave me alone.

LESTER
I think you just became my personal hero (relationship story concern-understanding). Doesn’t that make you nervous, just quitting your job like that?

RICKY
. . . I just do these gigs every now and then as a cover. . .  But my dad (impact character domain-mind) interferes a lot less in my life when I pretend (overall story benchmark-being) to be an upstanding young citizen with a respectable job (overall story problem-perception).

Like all the objective characters in American Beauty, Ricky has his own agenda (overall story domain-psychology). Taking Jane in with an ardent video gaze, he is captivated:

JANE
What is it?

ANGELA
It’s that psycho next door. . .

JANE
I bet he’s filming us right now.

Voyeurism and exhibitionism loop, as through the camera lens Ricky seeks out Jane from his bedroom window:

On VIDEO: We’re across from Jane’s window, peering in. Jane tries to shut the drapes, but Angela won’t let her. Irritated, Jane retreats into the room. We ZOOM toward her, even as Angela poses in the window, waving, but we’re clearly not interested in Angela. The ZOOM continues, searching for Jane . . . Finally, we settle on the full-length MIRROR on the open closet door, where we see a REFLECTION of Jane . . .  She’s smiling.

Lester continues to be directed by change: “It’s a great thing to realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. Makes you wonder what else you can do that you’ve forgotten about . . .”

He meets Ricky’s father, Colonel Frank Fitts, U.S. Marine Corps, a man locked in a perpetual vise grip of impotent rage, and always suspicious (impact character thematic counterpoint) of what goes on in his son’s life. Immoral and/or illegal:

RICKY
. . . G-13 . . . genetically engineered by the U.S. Government. Extremely potent. But a completely mellow high, no paranoia. . . Two grand.

LESTER
. . . Well, now I know how you can afford all this equipment. When I was your age, I worked at McDonald’s all summer just to buy an eight track. . .  it was probably the best time of my life (main character concern-past).

RICKY
My dad thinks I paid for all this with catering jobs. Never underestimate the power of denial (overall story inhibitor-senses).

Lester and Carolyn’s marriage is another relationship on trial:

CAROLYN
This is not a marriage.

LESTER
This hasn’t been a marriage for years. But you were perfectly happy as long as I kept my mouth shut. Well, guess what? I’ve changed (main character direction).

The vicissitudes include Lester quitting his job (after blackmailing his boss for a sweet severance package), hiring on at a fast food restaurant, and indulging in adolescent fantasies (overall story dividend-the past). Incensed, Carolyn relieves her stress by bopping Leonard Kane-The Real Estate King-and obsessively shooting a “Glock 19” automatic revolver at the local firing range.

Ricky confides his fierce obsession to Jane: “I knew there was this entire life behind things, and . . . this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid. Ever. Video’s a poor excuse. But it helps remember . . . and I need to remember . . .” (impact character concern-memory.

Ricky must recall all instances of beauty to survive as the only child of a desensitized (overall story inhibitor-senses) mother and militaristic father:

COLONEL
You need structure, you need discipline (impact character focus-order).

INSANITY

Ultimately, the fairytale of an American family (overall story goal-conceptualizing) fractures(outcome-failure):

LESTER
Remember those posters that said, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”  Well, that’s true of every day except one. The day you die.

A day of cataclysmic decisions.

Colonel Fitts misinterprets (relationship story thematic counterpoint) the relationship between Lester and Ricky as homosexual. An avowed homophobic, he brutally evicts his son from their home. The Colonel is only repressing his own feelings (overall story solution-actuality). Unpredictably (main character thematic issue) he kisses Lester on the mouth. Lester compassionately rebuffs his advances, unaware of the impossible circumstances (overall story catalyst) in which the Colonel now (overall story forewarnings-present) finds himself.

Ricky asks Jane to run away with him:

RICKY
If I had to leave tonight, would you come with me? If I went to New York. To live. Tonight. Would you come with me?

JANE
Yes.

Angela, alienated from Jane and Ricky, is determined to follow through with her seductive promise to Lester. Until:

ANGELA
This is my first time (overall story solution-actuality).

Reality check (main character solution-actuality). Lester decides not to deflower this American beauty (main character resolve-change).

Morality gives way to mortality. The Colonel silently returns and takes a gun to Lester. Carolyn, arriving on the scene, gathers Lester’s empty suits in her arms, understanding (overall story consequence) the husband she so contemptuously dismissed, is really gone (limit-optionlock).

HUMANITY

Lester takes his demise philosophically:

LESTER
. . . it’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once (main character mental sex-female), and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst . . . and then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment (main character judgement-good) of my stupid little life . . .

A life of artifice and the ordinary redeemed by an appreciation for the extraordinary.

NOTE: Since the time of this article’s publication, it has been determined that the storyform presented above was inaccurate in regard to one key story point: the Main Character’s Problem-Solving Style (now Linear).

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

by KEM Huntley

“Want to see it again little girl? It shouldn’t frighten you.” The opening scene of a crying Jack in the Box toy forebodes the strangeness yet to come.

Director Robert Aldrich and writer Lukas Heller’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (based on a novel by Henry Farrell), is classic horror saved from camp by its fine performances. The story of sibling rivalry gone mad necessitates the highly wrought performances from its lead actresses, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The sparse supporting cast play their individual parts with enough verve to make them memorable, yet with the restraint required to allow two of Hollywood’s Grande Dames fued.

In 1917, Baby Jane Hudson (main character) is a wildly popular child song and dance act on the vaudeville circuit. Tyrannical behind the scenes, her heart belongs to daddy and her earnings support the show business family. “I want an ice cream. . . . I want it! I make the money so I can have what I want.”

Mother understands (overall story consequence) Jane’s stardom will be short lived, and the real talent lies in big sister Blanche (impact character).

MOTHER

You’re the lucky one Blanche, really you are. Someday it’s going to be you that’s getting all the attention (impact character benchmark-future). And when that happens, I want you to try to be kinder to Jane and your father than they are to you now. . . . I hope you’ll try and remember that (overall story dividend-memory).

Bitterly, Blanche replies: “I won’t forget. You bet I won’t forget!”

Cut to 1935. Baby Jane is a B movie actress.  Blanche, “the biggest thing in movies today.” Blanche has the clout to insist (impact character unique ability-interdiction) Jane receive film work—much to the chagrin of the industry:

PROJECTIONIST 1

When the old man hired the Hudson sisters, how come he had to hire the back end of the act too? Boy, what a no-talent broad that Baby Jane is.

PROJECTIONIST 2

Why can’t she stay sober?

Later, a studio head remarks: “She [Blanche] ought to have sense (relationship story thematic issue) enough to know that she can’t make a star out of Baby Jane again.”

Up to this point, enough information is given to provide backstory for the sisters’ twisted relationship. The next scene is an automobile pulling up to the Hudson residence—one sister opens the gate, the other attempts to run her down (story driver-action). A shriek and a sob and the credits open the film to present day.

Blanche is bound physically to a wheelchair (impact character domain-universe); Jane bound emotionally to her sister by guilt (relationship story domain-physics). They live as recluses with intermittent household help. Nosy Parker neighbor comments: “How come we never see her [Blanche] around? We’ve been living next door (overall thematic issue-situation) for six months now, and the only one I ever see is that fat sister slouching around. Don’t they ever have company? . . . Julie says that sister is kind of peculiar (main character thematic issue-suspicion). . . she’s supposed to be (overall problem-perception) responsible for the accident that crippled her sister Blanche.”

The local television station is broadcasting (impact character signpost 1-present) Blanche’s classic films (impact character concern-past), an event that pleases her, yet raises Jane’s ire (relationship story symptom-self-aware; overall story catalyst-circumstances). A vitriolic alcoholic (overall story symptom-chaos), Jane’s increasing jealousy (main character benchmark-subconscious) and strange behavior (overall story domain-psychology) is cause for Elvira, the Hudson’s’ housekeeper, to prod Blanche to sell the house and conceptualize (overall story goal) a way to put Jane “where they can look after her properly.”

BLANCHE

We’ll probably have to sell the house.

JANE

When did our business manager tell you all this?

BLANCHE

Early last week, I think.

JANE

. . . Oh you’re a liar. You’re just a liar! You always were (impact character solution-actuality). . . . Don’t you think I know everything that goes on in this house (relationship story response-aware)? . . . Blanche, you aren’t ever going to sell this house (relationship story inhibitor-destiny).

Jane, furious, disconnects Blanche’s bedroom telephone (relationship story thematic issue-senses) and serves up a dead pet bird for lunch.

Determined (main character domain-mind) to make a comeback (main character critical flaw-sense of self), Jane places an ad in the personals to hire a musical accompanist. She equivocates to Elvira to keep her out of the way—and away from interfering with Blanche:

JANE

You can have the whole day off.

ELVIRA

Well thanks, but does . . . Miss Blanche know about my taking the day off?

JANE

Oh sure, she knows (overall story inhibitor-falsehood).

Jane receives her gentleman caller garishly made up and dressed in ghastly Baby Jane apparel. Edwin, a musician and mama’s boy, is a bit of a con artist (overall story signpost 3-being). Financial circumstances (overall story catalyst) have compelled him to answer Jane’s ad. He overlooks Jane’s bizarre behavior-intent on following his own agenda (overall story concern-psychology).

JANE

I’m Baby Jane Hudson.

EDWIN

(Taken aback. He obviously has no clue who she is. He makes a quick recovery.)

Oh. Do you mean you’re really the Baby Jane Hudson?

JANE

Yes I am. And I’m going to revive my act exactly as I used to do it. Of course some of the arrangements will have to be brought up to date. Music changes (main character problem) so much, doesn’t it? . . . There are a lot of people who remember me (main character concern-memory). Lots of them.

While Jane is out with Edwin, Blanche crawls downstairs to telephone the doctor. Jane catches her in the act, overhearing Blanche inform Dr. Shelby her sister is “emotionally disturbed.” Jane calls him back, impersonating Blanche (main character approach-be-er), to put the doctor’s mind at ease (overall outcome-failure).

The women’s relationship deteriorates further when Jane bashes Elvira over the head. Jane trusses Blanche up and gags her mouth (relationship story thematic issue-senses). Blanche’s last link to humanity is Edwin. Now a frequent visitor, his mother’s recounting of the Hudson sisters’ scandal does not deter him from playing along with Baby Jane. Once he (overall solution) sees Blanche, dying from dehydration and starvation, he runs out (overall symptom-chaos), a weak, drunk, and frightened man.

(Or was it the lifelike, genuine Baby Jane doll that scared him off?)

Jane believes “he’s gone to tell” (main character thematic counterpoint-evidence) and bundles Blanche off into the car—heading for the beach (relationship story signpost 4-doing). Lying on the sand, near death, Blanche confesses to Jane (impact character resolve-change):

BLANCHE

Jane, I made you waste your whole life thinking you’d crippled me (relationship story problem-perception). . . . You didn’t do it Jane. I did it myself. Don’t you understand (relationship story concern)? I crippled myself. You weren’t driving that night. . . . You were too drunk. . . . You’d been so cruel to me . . . I wanted to run you down—crush you. But you saw the car coming. I hit the gates. I snapped my spine.

JANE

You mean, all this time we could have been friends? (relationship story solution-actuality)

The police then catch up to insane Baby Jane, dancing on the sand, strawberry ice cream in hand (main character resolve-steadfast; main character judgment-good).