The Play

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Scene 1 of Speed-the-Plow opens with Bobby Gould in his new but as yet undecorated office, debunking the prose of a heavy-sounding book about radiation. His old friend and right-hand man Charlie Fox walks in unannounced. Gould, who has attained a new position at a Hollywood studio only two days before, continues mocking the book, aware that Fox will shortly let him know why he came. Fox asks Gould how close he is to his boss, the head man in Gould’s Hollywood studio, whose name is Ross.

When Gould tells Fox that he can approve (“greenlight”) a picture, Fox tells Gould that the actor Doug Brown is willing to “cross the street” to do a script that Fox has procured for him. Without answering, Gould tells his temporary secretary to get Ross on the telephone. At this point, the quality of the script is not mentioned. It is clear, however, that Doug Brown means money at the box office.

Fox acquaints Gould with the events leading to this lucky break. Only a few moments before Fox entered Gould’s office, Doug Brown drove to Fox’s house and said that he would settle the deal the next morning at ten. Gould tells his temporary secretary to hold all calls except those from Ross; then he asks her to fetch coffee.

Gould and Fox learn that Ross will see them in ten minutes, during which time Fox briefly describes the plot of the script, using the jargon of the film industry: The film is “a buddy film, a prison film, Douggie Brown, blah blah, some girl. . . .” Gould, thankful for Fox’s loyalty in bringing in a major star, promises that Fox will be co-producer. Protocol will still be observed, however, with Gould doing the talking in Ross’s office: “We get in, get out and we give it to him in one sentence.” Unfortunately, Ross must go to New York, and the meeting is rescheduled for ten the next morning. Fox, nervous that ten will be too late, since Brown has given him only a twenty-four-hour option, is reassured by Gould that it is important to see Ross in person to “forge that bond.” Gould convinces Fox not to worry, promising, “It’s done.”

To pass the time, Fox and Gould ecstatically count their as yet unearned money: Gould plans to hire “someone just to figure out the things we want to buy.” It is clear, however, that Gould feels ambivalent about the impending deal when he says—hypocritically denying the capitalistic nature of his position as well as its moral vacuity—“Money is not gold.” Fox comments on the appearance of the secretary, whom he calls “the broad,” but Gould denigrates her: “Baby, she’s nothing. You wait ’til we make this film.”

Fox reads a few lines from the radiation book that Gould was examining when the play opened, sarcastically noting that it is by an “Eastern sissy writer” and suggesting that Gould make it into a film instead of the buddy film. Gould indicates...

(The entire section is 1184 words.)