Series 1, Episode 6: Twentieth Century Vole
LARRY Graham Chapman
FIRST WRITER Michael Palin
SECOND WRITER Terry Jones
THIRD WRITER Eric Idle
FOURTH WRITER John Cleese
FIFTH WRITER Terry Gillam
SIXTH WRITER Ian Davidson
(We start with animation, which leads us to the ‘Twentieth Century Vole’ trademark.)
(Cut to film producer’s office. Pan out from hanging photo of Irving C. Saltzberg on the wall.)
(Six writers sitting round a table with one very impressive chair empty at the head of the table. They wait reverently. Suddenly the door of the room flies open and Larry Saltzberg, the film producer, walks in. The writers leap to their feeet.)
Larry: Good morning boys.
Writers: Good morning Mr Saltzberg.
(They run to help him into his chair.)
Larry: (sitting) Sit down! Sit down! Sit down! Sit down! Now, boys, I want you to know that I think you are the best six writers in movies today. (the writers are overcome) I want you to know that I’ve had an idea for the next movie I’m going to produce and I want you boys to write it. The writers run and kiss him.
Writers: Thank you. Thank you.
Larry: Oh sit down! Sit down! Sit down! There’ll be plenty of time for that later on. Now boys, here’s my idea…
Third Writer: It’s great!
Larry: You like it huh? (he looks round the table)
Writers: (catching on fast) Yeah, yeah, great! Really great. Fantastic.
(first writer is the only one not having an orgasm about the idea)
Larry: (to first writer) Do you like it?
First Writer: (thrown) Yeah! Er … yeah.
Larry: (still to first writer) What do you like best about it?
First Writer: Oh well you haven’t told us… what it is yet…
First Writer: (pointing at second writer) I like what he likes.
Larry: What do you like?
Second Writer: (pointing at third writer) I like what he likes.
Third Writer: (pointing at fourth writer) I like what he likes.
Fourth Writer: I like what he likes (pointing at fifth writer)
Fifth Writer: I just crazy about what he likes (pointing at sixth writer)
Larry: What do you like?
Sixth Writer: I … I … I … agree with them.
Larry: Good! Now we’re getting somewhere. Now, here’s the start of the movie … I see snow! (writers applaud) White snow!
Fourth Writer: Think of the colours!
Larry: And in the snow, I see … a tree!
Writers: (applauding) Yes! Yes!
Larry: Wait, wait I haven’t finished yet.
Third Writer: There’s more?
Larry: And by this tree, gentlemen, I see … a dog!
Larry: And gentlemen, this dog goes up to the tree, and he piddles on it.
Sixth Writer: Have we got a movie!
Fifth Writer: He tells it the way it is!
Fourth Writer: It’s where it’s at!
Third Writer: This is something else!
Second Writer: It’s out of sight!
First Writer: (finding Larry staring at him) I like it, I like it.
Larry: (suspicious) Oh yeah?
First Writer: Yeah, yeah, I promise I like it
Fifth Writer: Sir, I don’t know how to say this but I got to be perfectly frank. I really and truly believe this story of yours is the greatest story in motion-picture history.
Larry: Get out!
Fifth Writer: What?
Larry: If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a yes-man! Get out! (fifth writer leaves very fast, the others go very quiet) I’ll see you never work again. (to sixth writer) What do you think?
Sixth Writer: Well… I…
Larry: Just because I have an idea it doesn’t mean it’s great. It could be lousy.
Sixth Writer: It could?
Larry: Yeah! What d’ya think?
Sixth Writer: It’s lousy.
Larry: There you are, you see, he spoke his mind. He said my idea was lousy. It just so happens my idea isn’t lousy so get out you goddam pinko subversive, get out! (sixth writer exits) You… (looking straight at fourth writer)
Fourth Writer: Well … I think it’s an excellent idea.
Larry: Are you a yes-man?
Fourth Writer: No, no, no, I mean there may be things against it.
Larry: You think it’s lousy, huh?
Fourth Writer: No, no, I mean it takes time.
Larry: (really threatening) Are you being indecisive?
Fourth Writer: Yo. Nes. Perhaps. (runs out)
Larry: I hope you three gentlemen aren’t going to be indecisive! (they try to hide under the table) What the hell are you doing under that table?
First Writer: We dropped our pencils.
Larry: Pencil droppers, eh?
Writers: No, no, no, no, no!
Larry: Right. Now I want your opinion of my idea … (pointing at first writer) You…
First Writer: (quaking) Oh…
(First writer looks around and then faints.)
Larry: Has he had a heart attack?
Second and Third Writers: Er…
Larry: If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s people who have heart attacks.
First Writer: (recovering immediately) I feel fine now.
Larry: Well, what do you think?
Writers: Oh! Eh! You didn’t ask me you asked him. He didn’t ask me, he asked him. No, him.
Larry: I’ve changed my mind. I’m asking you, the one in the middle.
Second Writer: The one in the middle?
Larry: Yes, the one in the middle. (the phone rings) Hello, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, Dimitri … (all jockey for position desperately trying to put the others in the middle and finish sitting on one chair) What the hell are you doing?
Second Writer: I’m thinking.
Larry: Get back in those seats immediately. (back to phone) Yes…
(second writer is gabbed by the others and held in the middle chair; Larry finishes with the phone) Right you. The one in the middle, what do you think?
Second Writer: (panic) Er… er…
Larry: Come on!
Second Writer: Splunge.
Larry: Did he say splunge?
First and Third Writers: Yes.
Larry: What does splunge mean?
Second Writer: It means … it’s a great-idea-but-possibly-not-and-I’m-not-being-indecisive!
Larry: Good. Right . .. (to third writer) What do you think?
Third Writer: Er. Splunge?
First Writer: Yeah. Splunge for me too.
Larry: So all three of you think splunge, huh?
Larry: Well now we’re getting somewhere. No, wait. A new angle! In the snow, instead of the tree, I see Rock Hudson, and instead of the dog I see Doris Day and, gentlemen, Doris Day goes up to Rock Hudson and she kisses him. A love story. Intercourse Italian style. David Hemmings as a hippy Gestapo officer. Frontal nudity. A family picture. A comedy. And then when Doris Day’s kissed Rock Hudson she says something funny like… (looks at third writer)
Third Writer: Er… Good evening.
Larry: Doris Day’s a comedienne, not a newsreader. Get out! (third writer runs) She says something funny like (looks at second writer)
Second Writer: Splunge?
Larry: That’s the stupidest idea I ever heard. Get out! (second writer leaves) Doris Dog kisses Rock Tree and she says (looks at first writer)
First Writer: Er… er… er… I can’t take it anymore. (runs out)
Larry: I like that! I like that, I can’t take it any more, and then Rock Hudson says ‘I’m a very rich film producer and I need a lobotomy’ and then Doris Dog says ‘I think you’re very handsome and I’m going to take all my clothes off’ and then Doris Dog turns into a yak and goes to the bathroom on David Lemming. No, wait, wait! (picks up phone) Hello, (cut to ‘It’s’ man, with Larry continuing on the phone)
Hello, hello, who are you? You’re an out-of-work writer? Well, you’re fired. Roll the credits. (here the credits do start to roll with Larry’s voice continuing over) Produced by Irving C. Saltzberg Jnr. of Irving C. Saltzberg Productions Ltd. and Saltzberg An Films, Oil, Real Estate, Banking and Prostitution Inc.