My Fair Lancer
Disclaimer – I should point out that this is obviously based on the movie “My Fair Lady” and a few of the lines are very close to the script.
LOCATION – the Great Room in the Lancer Hacienda; evening after a long day out working.
Present – Murdoch Lancer, standing by the fireplace with a glass of brandy in his hand; Scott Lancer, sitting in an armchair staring into the fireplace – thinking.
MURDOCH: You look like a man with something on his mind, Son.
Yes, I’ve been thinking about the Cattlemen’s Ball in Sacramento next month.
MURDOCH: What about it?
SCOTT: still staring into the fire
It’s Johnny. He’s never been to something like that before. He might feel…
MURDOCH: staring into the glass in his hand and swirling the brandy absently
… out of place?
SCOTT: Yes, I can’t help but think he might not fit in.
MURDOCH: Yes, I have to admit I’ve thought the same thing. There’s nothing we can do about it, though. It wouldn’t be appropriate for you to go and him to beg off. This Ball is a big occasion. There’ll be important contacts to be made there.
SCOTT: frowning and looking at Murdoch
MURDOCH: looking back at him
SCOTT: Well, maybe we could give him some pointers… help him through it.
MURDOCH: looking back into the glass, then taking a decisive swig from it.
Maybe we could. Do you think it could work?
SCOTT: considering and frowning
Well, I suppose we’d have to start with the way he talks…
MURDOCH: sighing heavily and finishing off the glass. He puts it down on the mantle and looks at Scott
Yes, we’d have to start there. I wonder if some lessons from you might work.
SCOTT: suddenly getting excited by the idea
You know? It might! He has a good ear and he adapts well. Give me a chance to teach him and I'll take him anywhere and pass him off as anything. It’s simply a matter of phonetics…the science of speech. We'll start today… now… this moment!
ENTER JOHNNY. Saunters into the room and drops into the couch. Pulls one boot up and starts to remove the spur. His gun belt is still strapped on and he’s come straight from work
JOHNNY: dropping the spur to the floor and changing legs to get at the other one
What’s got you so excited, Boston?
MURDOCH: Scott and I were thinking that it might be a good thing if we gave you a few pointers for the Cattlemen’s Ball.
Johnny stops, the spur still on his boot, and looks at Murdoch.
JOHNNY: What sort o’ pointers? It’s a dance, ain’t it?
SCOTT: gets to his feet and confronts Johnny
It’s more than just a dance, Johnny. There are going to be important people there.
JOHNNY: Yeah, cattlemen… like us.
MURDOCH: You will have to be on your best behaviour, Son… make a good impression.
JOHNNY: pulling off the spur and dumping it with the first. He puts both feet on the floor and glares at Murdoch.
You thinkin’ I won’t?
SCOTT: anxious not to have Johnny upset
No, that’s not what he means, Johnny. We’re just saying that… well… maybe you could try talking more…
JOHNNY: smiling warily
SCOTT: No, that’s not what we mean. Here, Johnny, try this… ‘The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.’
JOHNNY: staring at him, mouth agape
SCOTT: The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.
JOHNNY: turns his head towards Murdoch and frowns
You know what he’s talkin’ about?
He wants you to say it.
MURDOCH: So you can learn to talk properly.
I b’n talkin’ for years. No one else has trouble understandin’ me.
It’s not a matter of them understanding you, Johnny. It’s about correct pronunciation and grammar. Those things are important to the kind of people who will be at this ball.
JOHNNY: shrugs and gets to his feet
Then I don’t think I wanta go.
MURDOCH: You have to go, son. It’s a part of your responsibility as a cattleman. I won’t accept any excuses.
SCOTT: That’s right, Johnny. Now… repeat after me… the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.
JOHNNY: Scowling and reluctant
Spain’s rain falls on the plain.
SCOTT: No, no, no… you’re not even trying… the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain
JOHNNY: Why does it fall on the plain?
SCOTT: Well, I don’t know… what does that matter?
JOHNNY: It’d matter to the people in Spain.
SCOTT: This has got nothing to do with the people in Spain.
JOHNNY: It’s their rain!
SCOTT: turning to Murdoch for help
He’s not even trying!
MURDOCH: scowling angrily
Johnny, Scott only wants to help. Give him a little leeway.
Sure, but I still think it must matter to them Spaniards. Be awful dry if you don’t live on them plains!
Will you just forget the Spaniards and concentrate on the words?
JOHNNY: You got something against them Spaniards?
SCOTT: Of course not! I just want you to repeat the words… the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.
JOHNNY: Alright… thuh rain in Spain falls mostly on thuh plain…
No… no… not ‘mostly’… ‘mainly’…
JOHNNY: with a heavy sigh
SCOTT: his patience beginning to fray
The whole thing… the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.
JOHNNY: Thuh rain in Spain mainly falls on thuh plain…
No… now listen and repeat what I say… the rain…
JOHNNY: scowling impatiently and a curt tone in his voice
SCOTT: … in Spain…
JOHNNY: … in Spain…
SCOTT: … falls mainly…
JOHNNY: … falls mainly…
… on the plain…
JOHNNY: … on thuh plain…
SCOTT: claps Johnny on the shoulder, smiling happily
You got it!
JOHNNY: You got it!
SCOTT: smile fading quickly
That’s not funny.
JOHNNY: That’s not funny!
Johnny, stop that… right now!
JOHNNY: turning to Murdoch and pointing out pedantically...
He said to repeat what he says.
MURDOCH: You know full well what he meant.
JOHNNY ducks his head and kicks the toe of his boot into the floor
SCOTT: folding his arms across his chest and glaring at Johnny
Are you going to be serious about this, or not?
Sure, but it’s kinda hard to take it seriously when we ain’t in Spain or on a plain… an’ you don’t give a hoot for them Spaniards an’ their rain anyway.
SCOTT: still glaring
Will you forget about Spaniards and concentrate on the words?
JOHNNY: muttering to himself
I think I’ll shoot myself in the foot instead of goin’ to this ball.
SCOTT: Then let’s try it again… the rain…
No, Scott. Enough’s enough. I’m not you, an’ I won’t ever be you. You’ll just have to get used to it.
I don’t want to change you, Johnny… I just want to add a little polish.
JOHNNY: I ain’t an’ ol’ boot to spiff up for the night. I am what I am…
Come on, just try it.
MURDOCH: Come on son, you can do it.
JOHNNY: sighing heavily
No, wait… you’re saying ‘thuh’ rain. You’re not enunciating it properly.
JOHNNY: I don’t plan on announcin’ it to anybody!
SCOTT: Not ‘announcing’… enunciating! You’re saying ‘thuh’ instead of ‘the’…
JOHNNY: No I ain’t.
SCOTT: No, you ‘aren’t’…
MURDOCH: Yes, he is.
JOHNNY AND SCOTT TOGETHER: turning to MURDOCH
MURDOCH: He’s saying ‘thuh’ rain…
SCOTT: I know.
JOHNNY: No, I ain’t…
SCOTT: No… you ‘aren’t’.
Scott, he is
SCOTT: That’s what I said!
JOHNNY: growling and starting for the stairs
Dios! I’m goin’ to bed!
SCOTT: grabbing his arm as he passes
No, you can’t give up now. You haven’t really tried. It’s a simple matter of phonetics.
JOHNNY: muttering under his breath
Nope, I think I’ll shoot him instead.
JOHNNY: dropping his head a little
SCOTT: Then let’s try it one last time. You have to say ‘the’… not ‘thuh’…
JOHNNY: thee rain…
SCOTT: shaking his head in frustration
No, not ‘thee’… ‘the’…
JOHNNY: thuh rain…
MURDOCH: He’s saying ‘thuh’ again!
SCOTT: eyeing Murdoch impatiently
I know. Johnny listen to how I say it… the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.
MURDOCH: It’s not hard, Johnny… the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.
JOHNNY: glaring from one to the other
If I say it, can I go to bed then?
SCOTT: apparently taken by surprise by his request
JOHNNY: Good, ‘cause I’m tired o’ this…
MURDOCH: Just try saying it, then.
JOHNNY: bored and annoyed
The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.
SCOTT: shocked – to MURDOCH
He’s got it!
He’s got it!
By George, I think he’s got it!
JOHNNY: looking back up and frowning
Hang on, who’s George?
SCOTT: turning back to him and laughing
There is no George… it’s just an expression.
Well, dammit, why bring him into it then?
SCOTT: still excited
Forget George! Johnny, you got it!
ENTER TERESA… unaware of what is happening
TERESA: What’s he got?
She looks at Johnny and sees his discomfort so she walks over to him.
What’s going on?
SCOTT: We thought it would be a good idea to teach Johnny how to speak correctly before going to the Cattlemen’s Ball.
She frowns and looks first at him, and then at Murdoch.
TERESA: I don’t see why. There’s nothing wrong with the way he talks.
Johnny smiles and sidles up to her.
JOHNNY: See, told ya I didn’t need no fancy lessons. Now, I’m goin’ to bed.
Teresa looks back at Johnny, curiously.
TERESA: Well, perhaps…
SCOTT: Just a few simple linguistics exercises – nothing hard. And he’s already getting the hang of it, isn’t he, Murdoch?
MURDOCH: Ahem (clearing his throat)… Yes, he’s got the pronunciation down, I admit… But we have to get him to use the correct grammar. You see the difficulty…
SCOTT: Putting his index finger over his mouth and considering Johnny carefully.
Yes, I see what you mean. We have to get him to talk grammatically correctly. The mere pronunciation is easy enough. And, then there’s the dancing…
TERESA: Scrutinising Johnny
Of course, you should think about his clothes too…
MURDOCH: Yes, definitely… his clothes too…
JOHNNY: muttering to himself
I’ll have to shoot the lot of ‘em!
No one notices his muttering… they’re all engrossed in their discussion. Johnny starts towards the staircase. Scott finally notices and turns to speak to him.
SCOTT: Johnny, we’re not done yet. Where are you going?
SCOTT: But we don’t have much time. The ball is next month and there’s a lot for you to learn.
JOHNNY: still walking towards the staircase and doesn’t turn around.
I ain’t goin’!
SCOTT: But you have to go! They all know Murdoch has two sons. He can’t show up with just me!
JOHNNY: stops and turns around
Then take George…