The Mouse-trap

 

Overview:


War of the sexes 19th century style in an American Comedy of Manners in this adaptation of the play by the prolific William Dean Howells of Vanity Fair fame.


Summary/Synopsis: A young lawyer in 1887 paints himself into quite a corner in an argument with his affianced when suddenly, he thinks, he says, he sees, a mouse, and all hell, as it is said, breaks loose. By the prolific William Dean Howells of “Vanity Fair” fame.


Genre: Period Romantic Comedy, not unlike The Philadelphia Story.


Budget: $20,000


Shares/Units: $1,000


Opening Scenes:


EXT. - A  NYC TOWNHOUSE - DAY


Winter.  Light snow cover.


INT. - A WELL-APPOINTED DRAWING ROOM - DAY


French Provincial sitting chairs and love-seat, piano forte, mirrors, paintings, curtains.

An ancient BUTLER opens a door inward for MRS. AMY SOMERS, young, pretty, stylish, and “in the last evanescent stages of widowhood ... She has a newspaper in her hand, folded to the width of a single column.”  The butler, hearing a bell ring, EXITS, and as Mrs. Somers storms about the room, returns and attempts to introduce MR. WILLIS CAMPBELL whom Mrs. Somers immediately confronts.


MRS. SOMERS

Then you acknowledge that it is yours?


MR. CAMPBELL

I acknowledge that I made a speech before the legislative committee on behalf of the anti-suffragists.  You knew I was going to do that.  I don’t know how they’ve reported it.


MRS. SOMERS

(with severity)

Very well, then: I will read it.  “Willis Campbell, Esq., Was next heard on behalf of the petitioners. He touched briefly upon the fact that the suffrage was evidently not desired by the vast majority of educated women.”


MR. CAMPBELL

You’ve always said they didn’t want it.


MRS. SOMERS

That is not the point.

(treading further)

“And many of them would feel it an onerous burden, and not a privilege.” 


MR. CAMPBELL

Well, didn’t you ...


MRS. SOMERS

Don’t interrupt! 

(reading further)

“ ... which would compel them, at the cost of serious sacrifices, to contend at the polls with the ignorant classes who would be sure to exercise the right if conferred.”


MR. CAMPBELL

That was your own argument, Amy.  They’re almost your own words.


MRS. SOMERS

That isn’t what I object to. 

(reading further)

Mr. Campbell then referred in a more humorous strain to the argument, frequently used by the suffragists, that every tax-payer should have the right to vote.  He said that he objected to this, because it implied that non-tax payers should not have the right to vote, which would deprive of the suffrage a large body of adoptive citizens, who voted at all the elections with great promptness and assiduity.  He thought the exemption of women from some duties required of men by the State fairly offset the loss of the ballot in their case, and that until we were prepared to send ladies to battle we ought not to oblige them to go to the polls.  Some skirmishing ensued between Mr. Campbell and Mr. Willington, on the part of the suffragists, the latter gentleman affirming that in great crises of the world’s history women had shown as much courage as men, and the former contending that this did not at all affect his position, since the courage of women was in high degree a moral courage, which was not evoked by the ordinary conditions of peace or war, but required the imminence of some extraordinary, some vital emergency.”


MR. CAMPBELL

Well, what do you object to in all that?


Mrs. Somers, tossing the paper on the table, and confronting him with her head lifted and her hands clasped upon her left side.


MRS. SOMERS

Everything!  It is an insult to women.