The Story (continued)
Written on the Wind (1956)
End of October, 1956 (A Year later)
At a high-society, one-year anniversary party held at the Hadley mansion, Marylee (in a strapless black gown, elbow-length gloves, and diamond earrings) looks longingly for Mitch. She finds him alone and plucking a ukulele in his darkened, upstairs childhood bedroom. She recalls "all those wonderful afternoons" they used to spend together there when it rained and they couldn't visit their "river haunt." When she switches on the light, Mitch plays a discordant chord. When complimented on her "real flattering" dress that shows off her sexy bustline, Marylee responds: "I've changed since we last swam in the raw, haven't I?"
She is amazed that her degenerate, self-loathing brother is "still sober and still faithful" a year after his marriage to Lucy, and she has little hope for permanence: "It can't last much longer...There's only so much a woman [Lucy] can do, and no more." She still flaunts herself at Mitch, cozying up close to him, and speculating:
I can think of much better things than making small talk.
But "idiot boy" Mitch suggests a pure activity - dancing - rather than the obvious alternative.
Kyle is anxious about Lucy's wishes to have a child (a Hadley heir), and during the party asks Dr. Paul Cochrane (Edward Platt) to examine Lucy in a regular office visit. To his shock, he learns that Lucy has been visiting the doctor regularly. His insecurities about his own sperm infertility (and sexual impotence) are heightened after he asks: "Can she have children?" and is told: "There's nothing wrong with Lucy." They schedule a meeting the next morning to discuss the matter further. He turns and his fears are refueled when he sees Mitch dancing with his wife, and tensely tells them: "Somebody just stole my magic dancing slippers."
The next day as Mitch leaves work at lunchtime, Marylee (in a bright yellow turtleneck) has stalked him for a picnic basket lunch at the river, delighting her when he accepts: "Maybe you finally see the light in my eyes." As she sets up a blanket, she tells him that she slept in his "old room" after he left the party, but he's more interested in whether Kyle had a "spat" with Lucy. That morning, Kyle 'bit her head off' when Marylee commented that he looked sick. Changing the subject, Marylee produces a bottle of wine and suggests: "Let's eat, drink and be merry," and grabs onto Mitch's shoulder: "No one will ever know you as I do."
Kyle keeps his appointment with Dr. Cochrane in the local downtown drugstore to discuss the need for "further tests...the tests we took show a, well, let's call it a weakness. Believe me, you're not sterile. And there is hope, real hope, that in time, we'll be able to correct that weakness." The word 'weakness' sends fright into Kyle's masculine psyche, as he fears being childless without an heir due to his own crippling lack of virility. Standing up before "DRUGS here" advertising signs, he lamely walks to the front door. In contrast to his own wounded sexual condition, he passes a young boy happily bouncing astride a mechanical, coin-operated rocking horse. The boy's grin mocks the distraught Kyle's pain about his low sperm count and reproductive failure.
Promiscuous Marylee's room is decorated with bright-red anthuriums (penile-protruding plants), a glass-case filled with exotic bottles of perfumes, and a prominent, framed black and white portrait of Mitch. By phone she is invited by "brother Mitch" to join Kyle and Lucy for dinner at the country club, but she protests that she is disinterested unless it will be "an exciting evening." Instead, she drives to Bob's Service Station where she recognizes ex-football player and gas station attendant Biff Miley (Grant Williams) from her high school days. Their first few words are indicative of her vacuous sexual needs and existence:
Attendant: Fill her up?
She entices him after they exchange familiarities: "Your number's in my program...What do we do now? Break into a chorus of 'Hail, Alma Mater'?" After he is easily persuaded to leave work a half hour early, he advises her to wait and "just keep the motor running."
Meanwhile, Mitch and Lucy find Kyle all liquored up at the country club bar before their dinner engagement. He has begun a progressive descent into a drinking binge after the doctor's death knell to his stability. Their cramped positioning and conversation is immediately strained as he makes a celebratory toast to the commencement of his drinking habit ("end of a drought"):
Kyle: A toast to - to beauty - and the truth, which is anything but beautiful...This is an occasion. We must proceed with, with quiet dignity...
Mitch: What are we celebrating?
Kyle: The end of a drought, a year-long drought.
Mitch: We drank a toast to truth.
Mitch: So you ought to let us in on what you're really celebrating - or mourning. (Kyle laughs)...
Kyle: So you'd like to know my secret. The secret is - not to pour the vermouth, just to pretend you're pouring it.
As Kyle is experiencing an emotional downturn, police are summoned to the El Paraiso Motel (underneath gigantic, throbbing oil wells) where they find Marylee dallying with Biff. Mitch carries Kyle over his shoulder into the Hadley mansion, unable with Lucy to explain to Jasper why he has reverted back to his addiction - "except that he's terribly tormented."
After seeing Kyle's degeneracy, Jasper tells Mitch how his patriarchy has been a ruinous, complete failure - to his wife, his brother Joe, and to both of his disturbed, blood-inheriting, pleasure-seeking, spoiled children. And then he witnesses the arrival of another of his mixed-up offspring - a scandalous Marylee in a Hadley police car, with her evening's pickup. During questioning of Biff by Jasper, it is clear that trampish Marylee propositioned him:
Biff: That's how she operates....I never heard of anybody ever picking her up, that's all. It's always the other way around.
Jasper: How do you know?
Biff: Why don't you just walk up and down Main Street and ask somebody, huh?
Jasper: I'm asking you!
Biff: ...I didn't take her to the motel. She took me. Your daughter's a tramp, mister. If that ain't plain enough for ya...
Jasper is restrained by Mitch from reaching for a revolver in his desk drawer, and charges are dropped against Biff, although Mitch cautions the gas station attendant to "keep it quiet."
Upstairs, with the framed picture of Mitch in her arms, Marylee performs a frantic, hip-twisting, masturbatory mambo dance to blaringly loud, chaotic music. She strips down from her white dress to a black negligee as the music permeates throughout the house. Her orgasmic dance is intercut with her suffering father ascending the long winding staircase - linking the two and suggesting a cause-and-effect relation. Marylee twirls around in a satiny, see-through, jarring orange-sherbert colored, chiffon gown, photographed from waist level, and kicks her legs out. At the top of the stairs, Marylee's overt and staggering sexuality overpowers him. Weakened, Jasper grasps the railing, is stricken with a fatal heart attack, and tumbles down the curving stairs. The frenzied scene fades to black.
A black-ribboned wreath hangs on the Hadley mansion gates. The ribbon is blown away from the green wreath and up the driveway. Kyle remains delirious and clutches onto his whiskey bottle, and attributes the death to the failure of the second generation of tarnished Hadleys:
Me and my darling sister - we pushed Dad down the stairs.
When asked by Lucy whether he loves her, he wraps his arms around his knees, cringes, buries his head, and laments:
Lucy: Do you love me?
Kyle: Love you? I don't even love myself.
Lucy: Kyle, what is it? Is it something I've said or something I've done or should have done?
Kyle: I can't tell you. I'm afraid. It's like I was deep in a mountain pass, snowcaps hanging over my head. If I make a sound, snow might all come tumbling down. Bury me - alive. (He desperately buries his head under the bed covers)
At the end of a long week, Mitch reads all of the Western Union telegrams of condolences at Jasper's desk. He tells Lucy that he will be leaving soon to escape from the Hadley's cursed, slutty, masochistic lives:
Mitch: Disgusted. Mostly with myself.
Lucy: But I - I need you here.
Mitch: That's the only reason I stayed - to help you.
Lucy: Not Kyle?
Mitch: I made a resolution last week. It goes like this - To Hell With The Hadleys.
Lucy: I'm a Hadley.
Mitch: Not to me you're not.
Lucy: I respect my marriage.
Mitch: Haven't I?