Link to full Raymond Chandler script: https://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/playback.html
Transition from Betty paging through her magazine in the train passenger car to the exterior of the Royal Hotel could be done partly with sound, and depending on what the camera does, it could also be a way to get into Betty’s head a bit. The closer we feel to her, or alternately, the closer we are visually to the magazine’s pages turning (another rhythmic possibility!) the more it will feel like we are experiencing what she is experiencing. A visual dissolve from train wheels to taxi wheels? We don’t want all this rhythmic stuff to get too cute, to feel like too much of a gimmick. It has to feel motivated in order to work.
The sea plays big at the end of the story, so I think it’s a good idea to refer to it sonically when we can in these scenes around the hotel patios, etc. Big boat horns are the obvious sound. At least one of them should be the same we use at the end. But any kind of horn is likely to clash with musical score. A perennial problem.
Which reminds me… Has a composer been hired yet? These rhythmic and tonal ideas I may propose are going to need to be coordinated with the composer. If the director buys this rhythmic approach I’m happy if the composer runs with it too, but each of us has to know what the other is doing, otherwise… sonic chaos.
Tea wagon wheels could be clicking rhythmically on floor seams. Let’s avoid it sounding like The Shining!
Hotel Lobby ambient voices… I’m always trying to find ways to capture background voices (walla) that don’t sound “canned,” fake. Only the best walla groups can do it really well, natural sounding. Usually the last thing you want from walla is complete sentences or complete thoughts. Snippets, really just syllables audible here and there tend to play most convincingly. Complete thoughts from walla actors play too much like dialog, they distract from the principal dialog, and usually just sound hokey.
The scene in the Royal Lobby will probably be the first time we hear footsteps. I need to talk with the director about foley style in general. For this kind of film I usually prefer foley to play like really well recorded production effects… the sound effects caught as the production sound team records dialog on the set. If you make a recording of people walking around a place like a hotel lobby without them knowing they are being recorded you get something very different sounding than a typical foley session trying to cover that kind of scene. In a real hotel lobby most of the footsteps won’t even be audible, even with hard floors, at least not audible as individual steps. There will be as many scuffs as actual foot impacts, and the nature of the sound will vary quite a bit as a person walks across a room… some steps inaudible, some scuffs, some impacts, etc. That level of naturalism is very difficult, though not impossible, to capture in a foley performance. And it’s one of the reasons that it has always been a lame idea to “perform” foley on a keyboard using samples. To do it really well you’d have to be the equivalent of a concert pianist, with a huge sample library available to you instantaneously that you knew by heart.
Of course, sometimes we don’t want a completely naturalistic performance from foley. Something stylized or exaggerated may be best for a certain kind of moment. Some of the women’s high heels in this sequence might call for that kind of approach.
MITCHELL Where are you staying in Vancouver? It's pretty crowded you know. BETTY Is it? I expected to go to the Vancouver Royal. Should I have a reservation? MITCHELL I'll make one for you. (a beat) I live there. BETTY (doubtfully) Well.. MITCHELL (quietly) A very small service. It doesn't even ask for thanks. How long for? BETTY I really don't know. MITCHELL Indefinitely? BETTY (with a shrug) I don't know. MITCHELL (eyeing her thoughtfully) You don't know. He turns and goes. She looks after him, puzzled and rather attracted. Then his mood passes and she relapses again into her listless, hopeless manner. She reaches for the magazine and starts to leaf through its pages indifferently, as we DISSOLVE TO: EXT. ROYAL HOTEL -- DAY LONG SHOT It is a massive brick and sandstone building, set in beautiful gardens which slope down towards Puget Sound. CLOSER SHOT - THE ENTRANCE A taxi drives up, Larry Mitchell and Betty get out, PORTER comes forward, takes their luggage etc. Larry pays taxi and they start in through entrance. INT. ROYAL HOTEL - LOBBY - THE DESK -- DAY Larry and Betty come up to it, BELLHOP carrying luggage. HOTEL CLERK Good afternoon, Mr. Mitchell. Have a mice trip? Glad to see you back. MITCHELL Fine, thanks. This is Miss Betty Mayfield. You have a reservation for her. CLERK Miss Mayfield. Yes, indeed. A balcony room on the top floor, Magnificent view. Nothing above it but the penthouse. He pushes registration pad towards Betty, and she signs. Mitchell turns, looks out across lobby. A malicious smile move his lips. MITCHELL'S POV One side of the lobby is a glassed-in-terrace. It is tea time and a couple of large tea wagons are being pushed around among the guests by FOOTMEN in uniform. With each tea wagon are two neat MAIDS, who set out cups, pass sandwiches, cakes, etc., While the FOOTMAN pours the tea. CLOSER SHOT A tea wagon beside a table at which sit MR. CLARENDON and MARGO WEST. Mr. Clarendon is elegant, white-haired, aristocratic-looking, a cane and spats type. Margo is handsome, thirty-ish, almost overpoweringly well-dressed. Obviously money, obviously been around. Margo is studying her face in a pocket mirror. Tea wagon and maids move away. MARGO I'm getting positively haggard. In a couple of years people will be describing me as well preserved. CLARENDON (looking off) I see out friend Larry Mitchell is with us again. Margo's hand stops in mid-air, holding mirror. She looks up slowly. MARGO I couldn't care less. Just the same, she sees in which direction. Clarendon is looking and starts to turn. CLARENDON And with a very beautiful girl, if my eyes don't deceive me at this distance. Margo reacts and swings around, CAMERA PANNING. Larry and Betty have turned away from the desk and are going towards elevators, BELLHOP behind them. Larry is bending towards Betty intimately. Margo turns back to Clarendon. Her face is frozen with a controlled emotion. MARGO I don't think I want any tea. She picks up her bag and stands up. Goes out of shot. Clarendon looks after her with a malicious smile. DISSOLVE TO: INT. ROYAL HOTEL - MARGO'S SUITE - LIVING ROOM -- DAY