(Pauline visits Jules in his death bed.)
JULES: There’s something you should know, Pauline.
PAULINE: No. There’s nothing more I need to know, Jules. I know everything, about everything, and so does everyone we know.
JULES: Kippie killed Hector.
(Pauline is stunned.)
PAULINE: No. No.
JULES: He needed ten thousand dollars to pay off Arnie Zwillman. You wouldn’t give it to him. He went to Hector. Hector refused. Kippie lost his temper and shot him. Afterwards, Hector’s dog bit off the tip of Kippie’s finger.
PAULINE: (not wanting to believe) How do you know this?
JULES: Open the safe in the library. There is a sealed manila envelope. Hector’s note is inside.
JULES: I took it from Hector’s house before the police got there. He named Kippie as his killer.
(Pauline breaks down, weeping.)
PAULINE: Oh, Jules, I’m sorry. You did this for me.
(She kisses his hand. Then a thought occurs to her that somewhat sobers her.)
PAULINE: Does anyone know?
(Jules’ eyes begin to glaze over. She leans in close, demanding:)
PAULINE: Jules? Does anyone else know what you just told me?
(He tries to answer her but he can’t. In a moment he is dead. Pauline touches his face. She shuts her eyes. Silence. She cries for a moment. Then she begins to pray -)
PAULINE: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name –
(- and as she prays she begins to dry her eyes -)
PAULINE: – Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread –
( – rising to look in a small mirror -)
PAULINE: – and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors –
(- and begins straightening her hair and her make-up -)
PAULINE: – and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever –
(- then, looking presentable, heads for the bedroom door -)
(- opens the door and leaves, to return to the dinner party she is hostessing downstairs.)
THE STORY: An adaptation of Dominick Dunne’s novel, about a wealthy man, his inconvenient mistress, a shocking murder, a criminal cover-up, and the high society crowd of Los Angeles who do not mingle with the movie-folk.
THE BACKSTORY: This is one of the more delightfully macabre scenes in this film, beautifully played by Jason Robards and Jill Eickenberry. The whole film is fun, and still makes me smile. I had a good time writing this script, and one of my favorite memories is sitting in the room with this remarkable cast and listening to all these terrific actors read my words. (Roddy MacDowell, who played the character of Cyril, was in addition a lovely human being whom I got to spend some time with over a meal or two.) Elaine Stritch, who plays Rose and was nominated for an Emmy, wasn’t present at the reading – her part was originally to be played by Polly Bergen, another lovely person. Joe Sargent, who directed my first film, was to direct this one too, but had to bow out at the last minute for health reasons. But everything turned out smashing, and it’s still one of my favorite films.