PAUL BRYAN'S JOURNAL
From the diary about this episode:
Actif - Paris - en route to Acapulco
Thursday, July 1
At my Paris apartment …. I love writing that …. found a note that the car is waiting for me at Jessica's home near Acapulco. Also a letter from Eileen, asking me to come and see her this month. Such a pleasing thought, but it's difficult to get Leslie from the forefront of my mind. Our touching relationship cut off so abruptly, I'll always think of the hours with her as precious and sweet. There is so much in my head, but the pen doesn't seem to cooperate, and sleep is calling.
Friday, July 2
Took a cab to Jessica's, and things went like clockwork. The Mastin was produced in gleaming condition, but I think they may have put more into the outside than under the hood, as she conked out on me halfway into the city.
Walked a ways to see if there might be a garage in the area, and was nearly run down by two fellows who then offered me a lift - which was more like travelling on a roller coaster.
Couldn't help but be mesmerized by the one who was driving - Bud - not just because of the insane and skilful way he handled the car, but his proclamation that he didn't have long to live. For my fascination, I was treated to his grazing 20 telephone poles as part of a bet with me.
At least, he dropped me by a garage that picked up the Mastin, and got it into top condition as well. Starving by this time, I was looking forward to dining at the Countess', but received a note that she'd popped off to Rome.
Went out for some local culture, and who turned up but Bud and Lee - wanting me to advise them on buying a car to enter qualifying for the big race that is the talk of Acapulco. They'd amazingly found two excellent machines, and for all I knew, they appeared equal, and I watched Bud hand over what must have been twice the value in cash to the delighted owner.
Bet-happy Bud then took me to a poker game, and he came away with everyone's cash. I admired his moves with an aficionado's respect, but then performed Judge Haynes' 25-card pat hand trick, and won the pot back from him.
It turned out that he couldn't just drive and play poker like a master, but afterwards at a bar, got up and did a turn with Lee that would make Bud & Travis proud - playing guitars they bought on the spot from the house musicians - again for twice their value.
Saturday, July 3
Took the lads to a bull fight, and Bud seemed very upset by the proceedings. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing the practice outlawed myself.
As much as Acapulco has to offer, I had to remember that the reason I'm here is to drive in the race. It was a little disappointing to find that there were no professionals in it - not even super-talented amateurs. Since we'd arrived late, our qualifying slots weren't until the end of the day, and my brief moment of glory in pole position was quickly eclipsed by Bud's time.
Despite the mediocrity of the competition, I am nevertheless ecstatic. Rang Pete in Spain, and despite the bad line, he was able to give some tips for Monday's race.
Such an instinct to pick up the phone, and ring my Mom and Dad, but I feel sure that they must have been watching and cheering me on from heaven.
Sunday, July 4
Celebrated the holiday with fireworks of my own - by jumping off the cliff at the Mirador Hotel - a hundred feet straight down into what I hoped would be 16 feet of water. But I was only the second amateur of the day to accomplish the breathtaking dive that I have considered impossible the hundred times I've seen it over the years.
Had gone up to try and persuade Bud not to make the suicidal leap, and when he did, some wires crossed in my own brain, and I dove off myself. Three times the height that won me a silver platform medal at the California State Championships in high school, it was like a sky dive without a chute.
I am still trembling from the experience, but at this point, more shaken that I attempted the act than having experienced it. Surely, I am going mad. Back here at the hotel, meditation had become impossible, and finally, only a phone call managed to free me from the shaking trance.
It was the Countess, back from Rome, asking me over for the evening. How much I'd liked to have casually dropped the line about becoming a Quebrada Cliff Diver for the day, but I know anyone would have thought me crazy.
In fact, lots of people at the party were speaking about the two mad Americans who'd done the stunt. Instead, I allowed myself to dazzle the company of other amateur racers with the fact that I'd been driving with Pete Gaffney.
They appeared impressed, and it seemed a sufficient and more appropriate claim to fame. But when the Count and Countess let off their Fourth of July fireworks, my heart started pounding anew.
Monday, July 5
If yesterday had my heart overperforming, today was a blur of thrilling and terrifying moments to match it.
My race went well until Bud had trouble and crashed. I was just behind him in second place, only able to stop in time and pull him out of the machine a moment before it blew up. Though concussed, Bud checked himself out of the hospital, and the three of us went back to their hotel.
Irritated by Bud's frequent jibes to me about being a passenger on the Lusitania, I wondered if he'd found something out about me. Then, all of a sudden, a police megaphone was calling out a Come Out With Your Hands Up message.
I never dreamed it was meant for our room, but in response, Bud broke the window, and said he wasn't coming out - and had a hostage. Me. What was that show? …. It was on the radio when I was in my teens, then on TV later too …. Called You Bet Your Life. Well, that's exactly what happened.
Bud (who when he wasn't constantly making pointed remarks to me about the Lusitania, was ever trying to top me or win a bet) offered me the chance to walk away free - if I drew a higher card from the deck than he.
I did, and as with succeeding in the suicide dive, I seemed meant to live on. When I came out, the police were ready to go in, but before they did, the boys exited with guns blazing, both shot dead in seconds.
Apparently, they had killed a policeman in the US, and there was a big manhunt out for them along the border, and I learned that local police had spotted them in the pictures from the race.
Such a waste of life. I am brought from pinnacles of exhilaration to a depression that refuses to lift. Rang Eileen to confirm my flight tomorrow, and fear that I will be the opposite of what she needs right now.
Director of Photography
William Margulies A.S.C.
The lads show interest in Paul's race
They want Paul to help choose a car for the race
Paul tries to persuade Bud not to dive
Paul gets Bud out of his car before it explodes
Paul says they might meet again
Bud and Paul draw cards for his freedom
as Bud Ellis
Ralph Smiley as
Hotel Desk Clerk
Gregg Palmer as
the Highway Patrolman
Robert Tafur Luis de Córdova
as the Doctor as Captain Garcia
Inez Pedroza David Lewis
as the Nurseas Miller
John McCartey &
Robert C. Bradfield
Color by Technicolor
Editorial Dept. Head
Assistant to Producer
On his way into Acapulco the sportscar Paul plans to drive in a race there breaks down, and he accepts a ride into the city from two wild young men who'd nearly knocked him down. Hearing that he'll be driving in a race, they show interest in taking part.
They talk about dare-devil exploits, and the driver, Bud, makes a bet with Paul that he can graze 20 telephone poles in a row at high speed.
Bud accomplishes the feat, and fascinates Paul by saying that he doesn't have long to live. They drop him off at a garage, and he tells them where he's staying. That evening they join him at his hotel where he is enjoying some flamenco, and say they want him to help choose a car to buy for the race. Paul is astounded that someone would sell his race car, but Lee, Bud's friend, says that you can buy anything if you offer twice its value. Paul goes to a poker game with them, and Bud wins his $100 back from the bet in the car, but before they leave, Paul then makes an esoteric bet on 25 dealt cards and wins a thousand from Bud.
Afterwards they go into a club, and Paul's eccentric new friends buy the guitars from the regular entertainers, and sing a song for the patrons. The next day they go to a bull fight, and Lee has a flashback of the moment when he killed a highway patrolman before taking off for Mexico, and wants to leave immediately. When the trials take place for the motor race, Bud wins poll position. Afterwards the three go to watch the famous Acapulco cliff divers, and Bud insists on trying it himself. Paul attempts to stop him, but he goes ahead and survives, prompting Paul to make the dangerous dive as well.
Near the end of the race Bud is in the lead when he crashes out.
Paul stops and pulls him out of the car, and Bud is rushed to the hospital.
Meanwhile, a Mexican police captain contacts the American Consulate after a local officer's photograph from the crash scene appears to show fugitives from across the border wanted for theft of $70,000 from a US Army van and subsequent killing of a patrolman who stopped their car.
Bud only has a mild concussion from the race crash, and insists on returning to his hotel quickly with Lee and Paul.
The young eccentric has been making bets with Paul since they met, and always trying to get or stay on top. He also keeps making references to the Lusitania, and attempts to draw Paul out, suspecting that there might be a secret somewhere, but Paul gives away nothing. They've just toasted one another and shaken hands, Bud still hoping to get one more crack at topping Paul, who says they might meet again, when lights start flashing outside the room.
It's the police giving the two young men five minutes to come out with their hands up.
Bud shouts back that they have a hostage in Paul.
Lee objects that Paul is their friend. Then comes the one last crack Bud was looking for. He offers Paul the chance to leave on his own, and not as their hostage by taking a card from the deck. If Paul has the better one, he will be free to go.
Bud loses, and Paul goes out. When the young men try to flee with guns blazing, both are shot dead.
Notes & Comments:
Much action and an interesting plot.
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