PAUL BRYAN'S JOURNAL
From the diary about this episode:
en route to San Francisco
Monday, July 11
If yesterday had been a day of turbulence, ranging from thrilling to horror, the evening was like moving into a parallel universe.
An ordinary day in my life before last year might have been totally consumed in pouring over legal papers - perhaps only getting Marcella to bring in sandwiches at lunch - and at best, maybe a game of tennis in the evening to loosen up.
Yesterday morning, I ate breakfast on a terrace overlooking the Atlantic at the western-most point of Europe, and was taken to the fortress of one of the world's most controversial dictators in a chauffeur-driven limousine.
I handed him a six-figure check on the Bank de Geneve, took the wheel of the legendary Daimler 500, found myself pursued by men shooting at me along twisting roads, witnessed them perish in a conflagration, and flew off for Paris in the most luxurious private jet I could imagine.
All before lunch. But the evening had its own story, and if meeting Colonel Peralta had been a remarkable experience in itself, becoming acquainted with a totally different sort of celebrity was, in its own way, equally surreal.
Catching up on paper work and trying to unwind was thwarted by wondering what was going on with Kate, and when she still wasn't back at 11:30, I decided to treat my failed concentration with a visit to the jazz club around the corner from June's.
Except for being mesmerized after seeing West Side Story, I've never been a star-struck person. But to find myself suddenly standing beside a great diva left me nothing short of light-headed.
At first, I wasn't totally certain it was she, but those eyes! It couldn't have been anyone but the beauty from my Butterfly album, Gina Milan.
It was like a fairy tale. As if a character from an opera, Gina had escaped her handlers, and fate brought her direct to me. She was all charm - like a sugar plum fairy, and I fell in love with her instantly.
She came to June's with me, and my feet never touching the floor, I made ham and eggs for us, and pretended to know nothing about opera, hiding until the last moment that I realized who she was. She even sang for me.
The hour we spent together was pure magic, and I was still dancing on clouds when Kate came in around 2 am.
She'd immediately caught the scent of perfume in the room and noted the two plates on the table, and I couldn't wait to tell her about my adventure, but first asked about Odette.
Kate looked troubled, and the school-boy crush I'd been entertaining was immediately replaced by the real thing as I took Katie in my arms. She'd found Odette looking ill, and though able to have guests for lunch, the doctor's prognosis was grave.
Despite the worrying news, Kate's decided to stick with her plan of returning to San Francisco, and I felt relieved, telling her about meeting the famous opera singer.
Kate was spellbound by the story, and deeply interested in Gina's situation, saying that all Paris was buzzing about her.
To my surprise, Kate revealed well-circulated rumors from the luncheon today of how Gina was a virtual prisoner of the notorious Mme. Tenati, a failed diva herself, who'd attempted to control previous protégées in the past.
For eight years she'd kept the young soprano closeted, never allowed out on her own or able to have the most casual relationships with anyone.
For that matter, Tenati had consistently held back the progress of Gina's career except for a “mistake” when the mentor allowed her to record an album.
That LP! I'd worn out two copies, and bought a third. While public interest generated by the record has caused opera houses around the world to take notice, Kate said the autocratic Tenati regime is still keeping Gina secluded.
My own discovery that she had never been kissed certainly confirmed that Gina had been kept away from men, but I could no longer think of my experience as a playful game.
Kate declared that Gina's exquisite voice singing romantic operas without the feeling of personal experience was nothing compared to the human tragedy her life could be turning into under the domineering Mme Tenati.
If I trust in fate, and that my own destiny is to live on, then I must believe that this woman has crossed my path for a reason, and I need to do what I can to make a positive difference in her life.
Katie obviously felt the same, but when she spoke about the importance of love with so much passion, I wondered if she was thinking of me or Armand.
With what I already felt for Gina, I became caught up in a wish to set this enchanting woman free to become the true gift to the world that she is, and not a plaything of her domineering mentor.
Odette and Armand - who'd been at Gina's performance last night - were equally disheartened, and had spoken at lunch of what they could do for the young diva, if they could only break through the glass cage surrounding her.
We went on talking for over an hour, with Kate encouraging me to intervene, emphasizing that I was probably the first person outside the inner circle to be alone with the young diva, and might be her only chance.
Whether it is guilt over her continuing feelings for Armand, a lack of possessiveness, or a self-styled ambivalence towards fidelity, Kate encouraged me to do whatever is necessary.
And I, finding it so easy to have a crush on this maiden, so enthralled by the romance of her world, am equally in love with the idea of a shining moment with her, the thought of it strangely making Kate all the more alluring to me.
So rather than flying out for Malaga to test the car, here I am on my way back home to see if I can play a part in the first steps towards Gina's vital liberation when she performs at the War Memorial.
Tuesday - Wednesday, July 12 - 13
Finding Gina Milan didn't prove the easiest thing in the world. Even Kate's contacts couldn't locate her whereabouts, but I managed a stroke of luck when her wig stylist came out the stage door of the War Memorial while I was making enquiries there.
That and the visit of a doctor to see the singer got me directly into the room next to hers in the Marin mansion where she was staying.
After spiriting her away, I took Gina all over San Francisco, ending up in China Town at Mitzi's where we had a meal I will be eating again and again in my mind for months. It was the perfect sensual prelude to the hours we spent at my grandmother's.
I thought my quest to change Gina's thinking was going to be easy, but when the conversation became serious, she appeared completely brainwashed, tenaciously parroting back The World According to Tenati, unable to conceive that the woman was doing her harm, and that a singer of her quality should have a far better team around her.
Gina wouldn't accept a single argument I put forward, and apparently only wanted my presence for a crash course in romance - insisting that a few hours of lessons would suffice.
I quickly realized that pillow talk was going to be the only way I'd ever get to her mind, and eventually, enough trust developed that she became a little less inflexible on the subject of her career.
When she said, “this is what I was always meant to feel,” I suddenly found myself wanting to turn back. Though my own feelings for her are genuine, even if I were free, the only thing I can give a woman now is tragedy.
Saying goodbye was difficult. I was filled with regret for having lit the fire of love in this woman in the knowledge that our romance was already over.
Perhaps, instead of opening her heart to love with a man who would worship her as I could, the brevity of our time together might even have the opposite effect.
To my explanation that I would be leaving shortly, and probably wouldn't be able to see her again, she responded that it didn't matter, her own life's course not able to accommodate more than one fine day.
But she doesn't know just how imminent my departure is, and I can only hope that she won't end up bitter towards men when I'm gone.
Mason is keeping me waiting around a lot longer than usual, and every time I come in this place, I try and prepare myself for concrete news while disassociating myself from the possibility.
He's called for more tests, and I don't have the concentration to write the letter to Gina which I hope will reinforce the talk we had last night without saying in so many words that a singer with her voice deserves more than she is getting from Tenati and Derek.
Showed Katie the different drafts of my letter to Gina, and saw tears fall from her eyes as she nodded, saying that it was a small opportunity, and we had to believe what I'd done was right, that it would open Gina's eyes to what her life could be.
Gina was magnificent tonight as Butterfly, and having her sing every line directly for me was thrilling beyond belief. How easy it would be, were so many things different, to become Mr. Milan, and be completely enveloped in her world and love.
en route to London
Thursday, July 14
Kate woke me with The Chronicle's review of last night's performance, which declared, “Milan has never sung with so much passion and feeling, a development in her performance that is a giant leap from merely a beautiful voice.” And on and on with the same theme.
But we agreed that starting something and walking away was not enough, and Katie is hopeful that Gina will accept Armand's invitation when she returns to Paris. As a patron and board member of the Paris Opera, his contacts are limitless.
How interesting that Kate is also willing to entangle him with the beguiling Gina as well. That supreme confidence in herself, never evident in her manner, is one of Kate's most enticing qualities.
At HSD Marcella said she'd been deluged with calls, eventually speaking to Gina herself, desperate to find me. I told the very moved Marcie to ring back, and say that I'd be at the evening's performance.
Before catching this flight I watched her again sing Butterfly from the Pierce box at the War Memorial. Moved at the deepest place inside me, the tragedy in her voice told me all too well what Gina was feeling, and it will stay in my head until it is drowned out by the roar of the Formula 1 engines.
Whether I sleep or not on this flight is irrelevant. I only want to hear Gina and sense her closeness.
This Run For Your Life take on the classic tale of the princess/heiress/star escaping from her gilded cage for one romantic interlude is beautifully put together, from the jazz organ source music in the opening bistro sequence to the empty seat in the opera house for Butterfly's final aria, The Voice of Gina Milan was carried almost totally - and outstandingly - by Ben Gazzara and Susan Strassberg with only the most minor of support. His enigmatic and subtle performance added multiple layers to words which were not in the screenplay.
Most interestingly, it is difficult to find any real fault with this episode, and much to like from Paul's amusing gate crashing of the house where Gina was staying to the fragility of the love that could not be sustained on either side.
And resounding applause for Pete Rugolo's wonderful score, worthy of a theatrical release.
Only one thing ….. dovetailing the Madame Butterfly connection, their happy day together, and Gina's hope of seeing Paul again, it would have been appropriate to call the episode “One Fine Day.”
LINKS TO OTHER EPISODE
PAGES (IN DIARY ORDER)
Paul goes into a Paris bistro, where a young Italian woman asks for his help, saying that she is being followed. He takes her to the apartment where he is staying, and she tells him a convoluted story about her plight. He proposes they have some ham and eggs. Though she is a little wary of the situation, the two get on immensely well, and quickly become comfortable in one another's company. He has given her the key of the apartment to keep, but she loses it, and immediately relates this to opera and romance.
She speaks about opera, but Paul says he doesn't know a lot about it, only having listened to records by Callas, Sutherland and Milan. However, when she speaks of Gina Milan, he is aware that she will be appearing in San Francisco the following week, calling the singer opera's Garbo.
But she agrees with the strategy of the up-and-coming artist, saying that the public should only see Gina Milan on the stage, and nowhere else. She speaks with passion about Puccini, and then tells Paul that the food he's made is so good that she would like to hire him to be her cook.
Then she tells him that she is a singer, but he expresses doubt, and asks who she is. She replies by singing a few lines of They Call Me Mimi from Boheme in English, then goes on to speak of herself as the character from that opera.
She now admits that the man who was looking for her was her manager, not a lover, and her life is only work. She actively starts to speak of Gina Milan - her hard work and dedication, the fact that she will one day be a great star - then asks Paul if he thinks it's all worth it.
“Is it, Gina?” he asks. She asks what he means, but he brings out a newspaper, and shows her the photo of herself. (Having read the newspaper, it may be that, from the beginning, he knew that he was indeed in the presence of the elusive diva Gina Milan whose performance in Paris had not received all the glowing reviews she would have expected.) She says the picture doesn't look like her, and he replies that it's the character from the opera, wondering if she is ever photographed as herself. She replies that Gina Milan doesn't exist. She is only the roles she sings.
Paul responds that she didn't run away because she sang a bad note, but rather to be something more than just a voice. She doesn't reply, but looks out the window, and speaks of a character doing the same in an opera.
He asks her gently if that's the way she experiences life - through the roles she sings, but she insists that is life.
“This is life,” he replies, and kisses her. When he asks if it was her first real kiss, she says yes, and asks him why he did that, but his answer is to kiss her again.
All of a sudden, she says that she was foolish to run away, must leave now, and will forgive everyone. Paul says that he will see her again, but when she refers to the demands of her life not allowing romantic commitments, he says that's the way he lives too. No strings, no demands.
She replies that tomorrow she goes back to the life of playing opera roles, and can't be herself any more.
Then she gathers up her things, and before she leaves to go, says in Italian, "no regrets,"
In San Francisco Paul finds that Gina is not in residence at the hotel where she's supposed to be staying.
Then he tries to bribe the man at the stage door of the opera house for information on her whereabouts, but the doorman says that Gina is moved out of the building by different routes each time she is there for rehearsals.
But then a woman comes out of the building carrying a wig box, and mentions Madame Tenati, Gina's voice coach being cross if she's late. Paul takes the opportunity and hails a cab to follow the one she's just taken.
They arrive at a grand mansion in the suburbs. When Paul notes another vehicle approaching, he stops it, asking the driver's name. It is the doctor to see Gina, and Paul waves him past the gates. When the doctor alights, Paul opens his car door, taking his bag. and accompaning him to the door, and introduces him to the butler, then follows the physician upstairs. The butler shows the doctor in to Gina's room, and Paul steps aside, saying to the butler that he will wait in the hall. Both men look a bit askance at him, but say nothing. When the servant is gone, Paul slips into the room next to Gina's.
After trying on her Butterfly wig, Gina accepts a sedative from the doctor, who advises her manager, voice coach and wig maker to leave the opera singer to rest. When silence reigns next door, Paul consults the house directory, and dials the number of the room where Gina is.
She is surprised to hear his voice, but tells him that she got none of his messages, and that it's with her own consent that calls are not passed on to her. So she wonders how he got her number. He asks, were he to make it past all the obstacles, whether she'd like to see him again.
Gina says that she'd love to as she's thought much of their moments in Paris, but it would be impossible, because they wouldn't let him in, so he mustn't even try.
“You think so?” asks Paul smugly, “just hang up and wait.” Gina looks perplexed when Paul disconnects from his side. Then there is a knock on the adjoining door. Paul enters, Gina races to embrace him, and he sweeps her into his arms.
She kisses him warmly, and Paul declares that made fighting to get into her castle worth all the effort.
She is dazzled by his presence, and asks how he managed to reach her. “Sheer imagination and daring, “ Paul replies with obvious pleasure at his ingenuity. He gazes at her, and she despairs that she is so tired and looks terrible.
Paul suggests he then leave to let her rest, and Gina's horror at such an idea is expressed immediately. She says that she has to live through an agonizing night and day before her performance, adding that he was right about her needing to get away in Paris, and that the time spent with him had been very good for her.
She says that she wishes she could have another night like that, and be able to run away with him. She suggests doing it right now, but Paul says that she needs to rest. Gina goes on, exuberantly pleading her case, and her voice coach knocks to see if she is all right. Gina says that she is only rehearsing, but Madame Tenati tells her to stop and take the doctor's orders to go to bed. Gina says that she feels better and will sleep now, then tells Paul that she's going to get dressed to go out with him. He tells her where the taxi is parked, and she says she'll be there in 15 minutes, then changes that to five and kisses him.
Paul takes Gina on a tour of his city - to a motor race, the view from a skyscraper, the seals and a colorful parade in Chinatown where he brings her to the restaurant of his dear friend Mitzi Kuan. Thrilled to see Paul, Mitzi insists on giving him home cooking instead of the fare from her lavish menu. “Welcome back,” she says warmly before going into the kitchen. Gina comments on how overjoyed Mitzi was to see Paul, and he admits that it's been quite a while since they'd seen one another. Gina then tells Paul that this trip to America is something that Madame Tenati has been planning for her for eight years.
“She is my strength,” Gina tells Paul, adding that she hopes someday to be able to repay her coach. But, for the moment, Gina says, she just wants a little peace and quiet, and for it to be as it was with them in Paris. Paul is deeply moved, and says he'll take her to the house which once belonged to his grandmother.
In this refuge overlooking the ocean Gina tells him that she is enjoying a little too much being kissed by him, but can't let anyone else into her life. She says that after tonight she must go back behind her wall.
Paul says that he has no wish to tear it down, and that he too must avoid lasting relationships. He jokes that it's a flaw in his character, but she replies that she'd prefer it was a strength, then says that she believes what's behind his approach is a strength.
He asks her if she's afraid of him, and Gina says that she isn't. Paul kisses her passionately, then the record on the turntable changes, and it is Gina singing Butterfly. She ejects herself from his embrace to go over to the phonograph, and speaks about the recording in relation to her performance the following night.
She speaks of Butterfly waiting in belief her lover will come back when all tell her that he won't, but Gina says she wants her audience to feel that she has had her moment of love.
Then Gina adds, “it's enough for a life - one moment of love.”
She pauses, and says, “Paul, let us be just this one moment of love. Nothing else.”
She tells him then, if he could not accept this request, she could fall in love with him - and she cannot allow that.
In the morning Paul returns her to the mansion, and she says that she slept perfectly for singing that evening.
He kisses her goodbye at the gate, but Gina says that she made a mistake, and one moment is not enough. He tells her not to forget the wall, and she asks if he doesn't want to see her again. Paul's answer is a kiss.
Then he reminds her about what she said she wanted to convey in her singing - that one moment that's beautiful enough to last for a lifetime.
“You think I could sing again if I lost you now?” Gina asks intensely. She tells him that now she's found a reason to sing. “Don't take that from me,” she pleads.
Paul jokes that he might have gotten past her guards once, but again might be a problem, however, Gina says that the walls come down for him, and any message or call will reach her directly now. She promises to leave a ticket for him for tonight's performance, and though he tells her he already has one, she asks him to sit where she'll be able to see him. Then they say goodbye, and she walks in the gate.
At the opera house that evening Paul joins the thundering applause for Gina from his special place as she takes her curtain call. In her dressing room, her manager tells her that she was such a success that she no longer belongs to their little group. Madame Tenati comes in with a small box of flowers which Gina is sure is from Paul, remarking that there is no card. She tells her manager to bring Paul into the dressing room. Stating that the flowers arrived just after Gina went on stage, Madame Tenati then hands her the card, much to Gina's annoyance that it was opened.
She is devastated by its words, “someday I will see you again.”
Gina asks Madame Tenati where he is, but she replies that she only knows what is in the note - that he is gone. Gina tells her to go find him, but Madame Tenati says that Gina will sing tomorrow night, that it is all that matters, all there is time for. But Gina sobs, “He's gone. I can't sing. I don't want to sing.”
“That would be very tragic,” Madame Tenati responds, “for me, for you, and most of all, for him.”
She declares that Paul has given Gina something very important.
“Don't let that be wasted,” she says, but Gina just goes on tearfully that she can't sing and doesn't want to sing.
The next night Gina performs again to another overwhelming ovation.
Paul watches from the back of a box. His emotions are an enigma.
Jo Swerling Jr
Director of Photography
William Margulies A.S.C.
Howard E. Johnson
Robert Watts A.C.E.
Willard H. Sheldon
John McCartey &
Color by Pathe
Editorial Dept. Head
David J. O'Connell
Costumes by Burton Miller