PAUL BRYAN'S JOURNAL
From the diary about this episode:
Wednesday, September 1
Seeing Johnny was a tonic. He looked great, but seems to be living in a bar. He has a bed on the second floor, but spends his days downstairs.
The story he told
. the reason he asked me to come here
. was bizarre and horrific. He'd been having an affair with Rosinha Mercedes - who had married that jerk Robbie Fielding
. I couldn't possibly get my head around that one
. unless it was money.
Johnny said that he'd gotten a note from Rosinha to come to the cottage where they used to meet, and when he arrived, he found Robbie murdered. Certain it was a frame up, he's been on the run ever since, wanted back in Almeria for the crime.
Desperate now to go home, he tried to get in touch with me at the law firm, and now wants me to fly to California and see if I can come up with something to clear his name.
Don't know why everyone seems to see a private eye in me, but for Johnny, I'd do anything, and I am convinced that he could never commit murder.
It was great reminiscing. I told him about Eileen, and he filled me in about some others from our circle of school friends and one or two flying buddies from Korea.
He was fascinated about the racing partnership with Pete, and said, had things developed differently, it might have been just the thing for the two of us.
At the end of a long evening, he offered me a room at the bar, but I checked into a hotel, and tried to catch up on some sleep before the long, long flight tomorrow and tomorrow.
en route to San Francisco
Thursday - Friday, September 2 - 3
Johnny didn't make it to the airport, but I was able to get an early morning flight to begin the first leg of a seemingly endless journey across the Pacific.
Spent a lot of time reading the volume I'd bought on Indian history, and slept on and off, and in between, had more - not necessarily wanted - opportunities to think about how I'm living. Or should I more accurately say DRIFTING.
That doesn't bother me so much
. It's even what I planned to do
. but I'm coming to a state where I'm starting to need purpose in my life. Not the long-range sort everything used to be built on, but something with meaning to fill my days - like helping Johnny.
Phoned ahead to Carl Hague to let him know that I'd be stopping in Hawaii, and he managed to get out to the airport to say hello. It was a bit of serendipity, as he's going back to Australia at the end of the month. Even he had heard about the Jim Clark incident.
Tried to get a hold of Kate at various stops, but either no answer or the call couldn't be put through in time, the operator wanting a day's notice one place.
Mostly, I spent the trip thinking about Johnny, and how close we had been through our youth and young adulthood. Hunting in the woods of Pacific Grove
competing with one another at diving and boxing in high school
. going off to war together.
So many, many memories. And good times in our adult life when he was in the property business in San Francisco. I hadn't seen him much in the last couple years, but we always stayed in touch.
Saturday, September 4
Finally arrived in San Francisco this morning, and rang Kate, but still no answer, so I rented a car and drove down to Almeria.
Sitting on the porch of the hotel was Sheriff Fowler who spotted me as soon as I walked up the steps. Retired now, but the policeman in him alive with curiosity about my visit. He even mentioned Johnny.
I first paid a call to Aunt Alma , and was shocked at the deterioration in her health. She thanked me for all the cards and presents, but otherwise seemed lethargic.
My next stop was the Fielding home. Robbie's mother is in a wheel chair now, but unchanged from the severe woman I recalled, and amazingly, she remembered me from what must be 15 years since we last met.
Sebastian Corello, who used to work for our neighbors, is now the Fielding butler, and called me Mr. Bryan.
When I'd paid my respects, and was about to leave, Mrs. Fielding said that she appreciated my not praising her son, and for all her motherly feeling for Robbie, I guess she too knew he was a total loss.
The person I really needed to talk to was Rosintha, and I waited for her to leave the house, then followed her. But the meeting was unsuccessful, as she was polite, but stiff.
I guess the damaging of the fine reputation she'd once had
. think Eileen had said she was in the Peace Corps or some such help organization
. made her want to keep to herself.
She was way behind me in school, but I remember Rosintha from a distance as being a sort of younger, Portuguese version of Eileen.
Drove to Santa Cruz, and rang Johnny with my limited report, just to give him a bit of heart that I was on the job.
After so many unsuccessful attempts to reach Kate, finally got her at home, and said that I hoped we could spend her birthday together tomorrow. But she said that she was just leaving for Houston to value an art collection, and wasn't sure when she'd be back.
Thought she'd give me the number where she'd be staying, but she didn't. When I told her what I was doing, Kate said to call again before I left in case she was back, then that she needed to rush and catch her flight.
Everything she said was perfectly normal. She was sweet, and sounded happy to hear my voice, but
. It's probably the limited sleep. I'm making too much of nothing. Maybe I sounded strange to HER!
Put my mind back to Johnny's predicament, and needing to make a breakthrough, returned to the house and told Mrs. Fielding that I was taking Rosintha to dinner. That got me as far as her studio
. she's quite an artist, but was closed down as far as offering any information.
However, when I mentioned Johnny, there was a tiny change in her attitude, and I'm hoping that she'll meet me tomorrow.
Sunday, September 5
Had a long conversation with the woman who is looking after my aunt. She recommended nursing home care, and that left me very depressed, especially since Alma seemed in such brighter spirits today.
Had a picnic lunch with Rosintha, and she confirmed what I would have expected, that Robbie was one hell of a lousy husband, and the affair with Johnny began after three years of sterile marriage.
I regarded this lost girl
and felt genuine sympathy for her. She'd made a mistake, then compounded it, and now found herself a psychological prisoner of Mrs. Fielding, guilt ridden that she caused the woman's stroke that had placed her in the wheel chair.
The item that seemed to be some kind of clue was her declaration that, though he didn't seem to want her for himself, Robbie was insanely jealous of any male Rosintha had the most informal contact with.
After the lunch I was summoned to the office of Tony Oliviera, now the local DA. On a Sunday, no less. I'd have thought he'd be away for the Labor Day weekend. No family?
Whatever edge there had been between us in our youth - competition for debating honors, scholarships, being named class valedictorian, and even in the sports of diving, gymnastics and archery, it was alive and well 20 years on.
Tony did surprise me by saying that Rosintha had regularly deposited money in a savings account for a year, then withdrew the entire hefty sum on the day of her husband's murder. She never told me anything about that, the Sweet Rosintha!
On leaving I proved that I hadn't completely grown out of a sandbox mentality, and asked Tony if, after Rosintha had dumped him - not quite what she said, only that they had dated - he had ever married.
Took Rosintha to dinner, and questioned her about the money, but she said that Robbie had asked her to bank it, then requested the entire sum the day he was killed.
She swore she didn't give it to Johnny, and I believed that. If he'd left with any money, he'd gambled it away, because Johnny had nothing in Laos, and I gave him $2,000 to hang in.
The next thing Rosintha told me was a little hard to take. She said that after seeing each other for a year, she had told Johnny she'd get a divorce so they could get married
and he replied that he not only didn't want to marry her, he didn't even love her.
I know Johnny so well, and this woman hardly at all. It was difficult to believe that he could conduct a relationship on that dishonest of a level.
I wanted to see Rosintha again, as much to offer her a little companionship as to help Johnny. Though she once more declined, I kept thinking about what she had said - and felt hurt for her, and wondering about the man who has always remained nearly my closest friend.
Monday, September 6
Talked with Debbie Wilson, and made arrangements, should the need arise, for Aunt Alma to be moved to a nursing home. Her carer, Mrs. Robbins, knows to contact Marcella who will organize details and finances.
Today, Alma spoke a lot about my mother, and the household they set up after my father's death - as if it had been recently. She obviously misses Tom very much. Their luck in finding one another late in life was a blessing.
Despite the fact - or rather, because - Rosintha said she'd be out in the morning, I then went to the Fielding house, and made a pest of myself with Mother Fielding, to the point where she told me to leave.
But I refused
. Ah sure, I really would have made a great politician with all that chutzpah
. and insisted on waiting in Rosintha's studio. Immediately went to her typewriter, and wrote out the words of the note Johnny had given me, supposedly from Rosintha, telling him to meet her at the cottage on the day of the murder.
They were definitely written on the same machine, and I was just comparing them when Rosintha walked in. Quizzed her up about the notes, and admitted that I'd seen Johnny in Laos.
I was beginning to come up with a theory, and told her I'd be back, but didn't get far, as someone had tampered with my brakes, and I know for certain, that if I hadn't started racing cars, and learned to handle difficult moments, I'd have gone straight into a giant oak.
Jim Clark's isn't the only life I saved on the road this month. Ironically, it happened on the very road where Pete gave me my first driving lessons when I was 16.
Went back to the house to tell them what happened, and Mrs. Fielding made some caustic remark about my accusing her of getting out of her wheelchair and carrying out the crime, but it was obvious that it had been done while I was there with Rosintha.
Got her to drive me out to the place where Robbie's body was found, and we were in the house only moments when shots were fired at us through the window.
My instinct was to run after the assailant
. how crazy in hindsight
. but I actually managed to stop him, using my flash light as a missile.
Rosintha had run behind me, and her piercing scream, as much as my own eyes, revealed that the man who had been firing at us was a very-much-alive Robbie Fielding.
Rang Johnny immediately to tell him that he was in the clear, and he was jubilant. I said the people of Almeria would feel very bad about what happened to him, and would welcome him back warmly, but Johnny, so desperate a couple days ago to come home, said that he was going to Tokyo instead of returning to California.
Producer: Jo Swerling Jr.. Associate Producer: Paul Freeman, Music: Pete Rugolo, Director of Photography: Nick Musuraaoa A.S.C., Art Director: Howard E. Johnson, Film Editor: Robert Watts A.C.E., Unit Manager: Willard Sheldon, Assistant Director: Joseph Cayalies, Set Decorators: John McCartey & Perry Murdoch, Sound: Frank H. Wilkinson, Color Coordinator: Robert Brower, Color by Pathe, Editorial Dept. Head: David J. O'Connell, Musical Supervisor: Stanley Wilson, Costumes by Burton Miller, Makeup: Bud Westmore, Hair Stylist: Larry Germain, Paintings by Ben Roberts (Courtesy of His Collectors)
Paul arrives at his home town of Almeria, California, and is greeted by a former sheriff who remembers him.
They talk about the murder eight months earlier of Robin Fielding, and how the new sheriff would like to get a hold of murder suspect Johnny Deedrich who's gone on the run.
Though Paul claims his visit is social, the old sheriff appears sceptical that Paul is back home just to have a look around.
Paul then visits the home of the victim, and pays respects to his mother, now in a wheelchair.
She speaks about her murdered son Robbie, often looking over to a self-portrait the painter did of himself. She refers to the picture as a joke he painted to humor me.
After the brief visit, Paul drives to a quiet location nearby, and when he sees a station wagon leaving the house, he follows it. The driver stops at a service station, and so he does too.
The person he's followed is Rosinha Fielding, Robbie's widow. She thanks Paul for visiting her mother-in-law, and he asks her to have dinner with him, but she declines firmly.
From a nearby town, Paul then phones Johnny Deedrich, the supposed murderer, in Laos, and tells him of his limited progress in Almeria.
Paul then returns to the Fielding home, claiming to have a dinner engagement with Rosinha. He is escorted into her studio, and she is surprised to see him.
He again asks her to have dinner with him, but she once more refuses. So he brings up her affair with Johnny Deedrich, and how Johnny was supposed to kill her husband. Rosinha says the stories are true, so Paul tells her that he needs to talk to someone about the events that made his best childhood friend and war buddy a fugitive from justice, and that he needs to find out the truth about what happened with her husband. Rosinha appears agreeable to that, and so he suggests going away from town for a picnic lunch the next day, and she names a place he remembers.
As they lunch Rosinha tells Paul of a loveless marriage to insanely jealous Robbie, which after three years, led her to an affair with Johnny Deedrich, and resulted in Johnny killing her husband. Not able to face what she'd caused, she ran away, but her mother-in-law had a stroke and was paralysed. Now, Rosinha will never leave her, even though she feels ostracized in the town where the District Attorney, whom she'd dated before her marriage, had questioned her relentlessly about the murder. Paul believes Johnny to be incapable of the crime, and suggests a dinner engagement to talk again.
When he drives back into town, Paul is met by a deputy sheriff who says the District Attorney wants to see him. Olivera tells Paul that, for a year, Rosinha made deposits in an account in her name, then withdrew the entire $84,000 on the day of her husband's death, but appears no longer to have it. Paul then admits to Olivera that he knows where Johnny Deedrich is.
That evening Rosinha meets Paul for dinner, and he asks her about the missing money.
She says that her husband asked her to bank it for something like tax reasons, and that she withdrew it and gave it all to him in cash on the morning of his death. Everyone believes she gave the money to Johnny, to make a getaway, but Paul believes she didn't.
Rosinha then tells Paul that the romance between herself and Johnny was already over when her husband was killed. She'd told Johnny that she would get a divorce, but he said that he didn't want to marry her, and wasn't in love with her.
Paul is touched when she says that she's never told anyone that, and asks to see her again, but she says there's no point, and she's driving to Carmel the next day
Nevertheless, Paul goes to the house even though he knows she's not there, saying he'll wait until she gets back. Robbie's mother tells him that she doesn't like Rosinha seeing Paul, saying that she wants to shield her daughter-in-law after the great aftermath of her affair with Johnny. Mrs. Fielding says that Rosinha is not capable of living with her guilt, and therefore made her promise to stay with her mother-in-law forever.
Paul looks at her, and then responds, you're punishing her, Mrs. Fielding?
She wheels herself away crossly, but Paul presses her. She asks him to leave, but he says that he'll wait in Rosinha's studio. There, he tries typing something on her typewriter, and then pulls out another sheet from his pocket and compares it. Rosinha then walks in and confronts him. He questions her, and she confirms that she always used the machine to type notes to Johnny, signing them with her initials. Paul shows her a note matching the machine and signature/ It asked Johnny to go to the cottage where they always met, on the night of the murder. Rosinha says she never wrote the letter.
When she sees the note, Rosinha asks where Paul got it, and he says that it came from Johnny, who is now in Laos, where Paul saw him the previous week. Rosinha is relieved that he is safe, but Paul says that Johnny wants to come home, that he isn't guilty, having found Robbie dead when he went to the cottage in response to Rosinha's note.
When she responds that two witnesses saw Johnny, Paul replies that they only saw him running from the cottage, something he did, realizing that he'd been framed.
Shortly after leaving the house, Paul finds that his breaks have been tampered with, and his car crashes, only sparing him by some skilful driving. He returns to the house to tell the women, and Robbie's mother feels that he is accusing her of the attempt on Paul's life. He goes to leave, and Rosinha stops him, saying that no one there would try to harm him.
Paul is perplexed, asks her some questions, then tells her to take him to the cottage in Pacific Grove where she used to meet Johnny.
Inside the cottage, Rosinha tells Paul that the murder occurred in the bedroom. When they start in that direction, they hear a creak, and are put on their guard. Then suddenly, glass is broken and shots ring out, as someone fires at them. They take cover behind a sofa, and when the firing stops,Paul runs to the front door to go after the assailant. Outside, he spots the man, and chases him into the adjacent woods, Rosinha following behind. Paul finally catches the man, and knocks him down. When Rosinha runs up and sees the man on the ground, she lets out a scream of horror.
In the following scene, Paul is pacing nervously, and then the District Attorney comes in, saying that he has a full confession.
He says that Robbie had been planning to fake his murder for up to a year, when he started getting Rosinha to put money into an account to have for the day when he found a man who fit his general description, someone no one would ever be looking for when they went missing. He offered the vagrant a job, got him dressed in his own clothing, and then shot him in the face with a rifle.
He adds that Robbie's mother knew that her son was alive, and helped to hide him, adding that felony charges were being filed against her. There follows a sequence of Robbie speaking on his own from a cell to no one in particular, justifying his actions to defend his home.
Paul goes to the hotel where Rosinha has been staying. She is planning to go see her husband and mother-in-law, but Paul tells her not to, that she's done her penance.
He tells her that she's going away, to San Francisco, to stay with her sister whom he has phoned. She resists, and Paul tells her not to even go back to the house, to let anything she needs be sent onwards.
The scene returns to Robbie speaking in his cell in a perverse sort of way about his wife and Johnny, how it was better to leave them alive and punishing themselves forever while he will be free.
Notes & Comments:
Although most of this episode smacks of soap opera, it is interesting for the overabundance of aggression - often bordering on rudeness - displayed by the usually courteous Paul Bryan who is ever diffident until pushed to the edge.
Also marked by an outstanding performance by Anne Seymour whose correctness never belies what is hiding behind the mask - a performance within a performance, as it were.
Unfortunately, the setting of Paul's home town is exploited in no way to give the audience any insight whatsoever into his background, and might, just as well, been anywhere else in America.
Certainly, listening to Ben Gazzara's strong New York accent, often pronounced, one wonders why the scripts couldn't have been adjusted to have him coming from New York, and just being educated and living the rest of his life in California.
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