Alexandra and Duke
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios
Producer: Budd Guy
Username: Budd Guy
Runtime: 109 minutes
Director: John Lasseter
Co-Director: Doug Sweetland
Screenwriter: Budd Guy
Development Artist: Redacted
Alex Iwerks: Ellen Page
Hugh Harman: John Lithgow
Ham Harman: John Ratzenberger
Roy Hamilton: Emile Hirsch
Harry Mintz: Alan Cumming
Lillian Kimball: Lyndsey Marshal
Producer: Peter Sohn
Photographer: Bob Peterson
Elevator Operator: redacted
Director: Dom Deluise
Production Notes: The style of the film is similar to the environments of Ratatouille. Harley Jessup creates hyper-detailed settings while stylizing unnecessary objects and/or obstructions out of the way, as he did with Ratatouille and Monsters Inc. The characters are also stylized in the same way that Brad Bird’s characters are in Ratatouille but nothing to the extreme. Lighting is extremely important and the color script ranges from rustic colors in Alex’s initial scenes, gold and red during the second half, and gold and blue with shadows and bright clarity in the final scenes. The film is set in Cinescope and Lasker uses a lot of wide views while inside the city, close-up intimate views during scenes with just Alex and Duke, and a mid-ground in every other scene. During the highwire acts, Lasker does not fray from using aerial shots.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1IfpwJmHd8&feature"]YouTube - Walt Disney Pictures Logo (2006, Widescreen, High Quality)[/ame]
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OridnuWe36Q"]YouTube - Pixar Animation Studios Intro HD [720p][/ame]
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4gEB-f7v9I&feature=related"]YouTube - Black And White Movie Countdown Leader[/ame]
An animated version of stock footage in the 1920’s begins to play along the following commentary:
“Despite the chilling cold of the Manhattan winter, Americans warmly welcome in the New Year and say goodbye to 1929! While the American people are still trying to recuperate from the stock market crash on Black Thursday, they look forward to what the new decade will bring. With an upbeat attitude, President Hoover promises an era of great progress. So turn that frown upside-down, America, as we leave behind those roaring twenties, and say hello to the thrilling thirties!”
The footage ends with a real picture of the New York skyline in 1930 and the score quickly begins to play “I’ll Get by As Long As I Have You” as the picture slowly turns to color and 3D animation.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-kxZydm_20"]YouTube - Bing Crosby-"I'll Get By As Long As I Have You"[/ame]
Alexandra and Duke
The score continues as the the credits roll alongside numerous scenarios from New York City in February 1929: Construction workers eat on a hanging girder, homeless men happily stand in a long line for the soup kitchen, paper boys frantically wave their newspapers, women of high society pass men sleeping on the street, taxis and streetcars rush through Time Square, etc.
Then, a young female begins to sing the lyrics.
In the middle of her first verse, a man walks through a lobby door into a large proscenium theater where two men sit in the audience as a young girl at around fifteen, our heroine Alex, sings nervously into a spotlight. She wears pants and a red jacket that suits young boys at the time with her auburn hair cut in an angled bob style.
Producer: (Interrupting) Thank you!
The orchestra stops and she suddenly looks out nervously, placing her hand over her eyes to block out the spotlight.
Alex: Oh…okay. Are you sure? I can sing something else-
Producer: (Dismissively) We’re fine, thank you. If we need you again, we’ll contact you.
Alex: Yeah…about that. I don’t really have a-
Producer: Thank you!
The spotlight loudly shuts off and she stands on stage in the dark. Her shoulders lower as she walks offstage and into the wings.
Outside in an alleyway we see it’s late in the afternoon, and a young dog lies on his back looking into the sky. This is Duke, a young mangy Jack Russell Terrier. As Alex comes out of the alley door Duke greets her happily but becomes gloomy when he sees her disappointment. She sits on the ground beside him as he playfully tucks his head underneath Alex's arm causing her to smile.
Alex: You hungry?
Cut to a fancy restaurant where snobby New Yorkers eat outside during dusk. Duke and Alex observe from an alley across the street.
Alex: All right…I’ll take the lead on this. You know what to do.
She walks over to the dining section and stands on bricked ivy fence that blocks the section from the street. She clears her throat and speaks in a commanding, unhesitating voice.
Alex: Excuse me ladies and gentlemen! May you indulge me a moment of your time.
People suddenly stop eating, some at the brink of putting food into their mouths. The band also stops playing and give their attention.
Alex: May I?
She motions to an older gentleman who obliges to give her his chair. She also grabs several brass candlesticks and blows them out. She motions to the band, whose leader shrugs and begins playing a vaudeville tune. Alex then commences to begin an act that involves her balancing on the chair in numerous ways while juggling, each stint getting more complicated. As her routine continues, Duke is seen sneaking between the tables and customers looking for an easy target. After a while Alex finishes her routine and bows to light applause by the diners, few of whom throw coins at her.
One dopey looking woman finishes clapping and turns back to her plate to see her steak grasped firmly in a startled Duke’s mouth. She suddenly screams “mutt!” and the entire restaurant goes into pandemonium as Duke grabs the steak and runs away. Alex too runs off quickly as both dodge plates and glasses that are being thrown at him until they duck into a nearby alley.
The soft piano score plays they enter a dark apartment illuminated only by the moonlight. Duke quickly runs in and jumps onto his bed of ragged clothes. Alex sits on her mattress, pulls out her stolen candlestick, and lights it. The room fills up with light, and nothing to show but a creaky floor and decrepit furniture.
Lifting her mattress up, Alex pulls out a picture of a young couple with a younger version of herself. She looks at her mother’s hand in the picture that’s wrapped around her and sees a sterling bracelet which she looks at on her own wrist. She smiles for a second as Duke nudges her leg and lifts the half mangled steak up at her.
Alex: No thanks…I’m not that hungry.
Putting the steak down, Duke jumps onto the mattress and lies down beside her.
Alex: I wonder if Mom or Dad would’ve approved of us stealing. (Sighs and looks at Duke) We can’t do this anymore. If people give me money, we take it…but don’t steal, okay? (Looks at her bracelet) And if we really need money…
Duke lays his head over the bracelet.
Alex: Don’t worry…I’m just thinking aloud. I guess tomorrow we do the usual, okay?
Duke barks and jumps back down onto his bed. Alex tucks the photo back underneath her mattress, says “goodnight”, and blows out the candle.
The lit room is seen going off from the outside, which pans back to show an almost dark New York sky line with very few lights on in the major buildings.
A jumpy vaudeville score reminiscent of Rudy Vallee plays as the following montage commences of the next day:
Alex and Duke walk by a grocery store with a wanted sign, but inside the manager turns her away because of Duke.
Alex talks with another store manager, who snobbishly waves his hand dismissively and walks away.
She walks out and catches Duke lifting his back leg at the store window, but giggles and looks the other way.
Inside another store, Duke stands outside as a policeman walks by and stops.
Alex talks with the annoyed officer and hands him some papers.
She takes out one of her shoe laces and wraps it around his collar like a leash.
Looking cleaner, she sits in a fancy business hallway with dozens of older, more chic women.
The other women fade as a man walks outside the hallway and sees just her, and quickly walks back into his office, shutting the door.
A quick cut to about a half a dozen doors shutting in front of Alex. The final door shut is by a cook at the back door of a run-down restaurant. Alex sighs and sits on the steps with Duke leaning on her side; an image reminiscent of “A Dog Life”.
Alex: I’m so stupid! I don’t know why I thought this would work.
She forces a smile towards Duke, but grimaces as her stomach growls. Duke looks concern but she ignores her pain and picks him up.
Alex: Come on, boy, let’s go home.
She walks down the street for a moment until she notices something plastered on a wall.
Alex: Look Duke!
He looks to see giant, nostalgic posters of “Cirque Du Magie” plastered over the wall.
Alex: The circus is in town already…remember when Mom and Dad use to take me every year? It was the best time of my life…and they’re doing a show tonight! (Sighs) I just wish we had the money to get in.
Duke quickly jumps down and starts barking; motioning to come on. Alex doesn’t understand until he put his front legs onto the wall of the poster and barks.
Alex: (Beaming) That’s right…you haven’t been to one yet. Well I can’t keep you from seeing your first show. But this is the last time we sneak in anywhere, okay? (Duke Barks)
We cut inside the giant, purple circus tent with dozens of colorful spotlights move around as a drum roll continues to build up until a symbol is hit and all the spotlights shine on a skinny ringmaster with a slick hair and wearing shining, extravagant purple uniform. This is Cirque de Magie’s ringmaster Harold “Harry” Mintz (Alan Cumming).
Harry: Mesdames et Messieurs, children of all ages…welcome to Cirque de Magie, where all your wildest fantasies, for one night…come true!
Underneath the bleachers Alex and Duke find a place to see the show. See begins looking past the legs and feet of the spectators, only to roll her eyes and then pick up Duke to her level. Duke notices a bag popcorn lying near them and looks at Alex, who is staring at it with a frown. She then looks to Duke, smiles, and continues to watch the show.
Harry: Our next act will be performed by the greatest tightrope walker the world has ever seen!
Alex: Oh Duke this is my favorite!
Harry: From the fields of Flanders she is the daughter of a long line of French acrobats and today she’ll perform her most daring act: the ascension to the throne! I give you, Lillian Kimball!
The crowd roars as we see the spotlight shine on a skinny young girl with light brown hair in her late twenties dressed in black. She waves to the crowd and begins her routine as a band plays.
She walks out carrying a chair, which she then places on the center of the tightrope. The crowd gasps as she jumps onto the seat and poses for the crowd’s applause. The music goes silent as another drum roll picks up and she steps onto the back of the chair. The crowd gasps and become silent as she struggles to balance herself. Finally, she pushes off the seat and throws her other leg into the air as she balances on the back flawlessly, causing the audience to erupt in applause.
The band picks up as Duke turns to look at Alex who stares in complete awe.
Alex: This is it… (Looks at Duke) I know I can do that…and if I can...I can get a job…Duke! This could be it…
Duke sees an usher shining a flashlight in their direction and pulls her jacket to get her attention. She catches the warning, grabs Duke, and runs off as Lily bows and waves to the roaring crowd.
That night, Alex walks under a streetlight near downtown Manhattan, holding Duke in her arms.
Alex: Since we’re down here already and the lights are on tonight, I wanted to see this.
They look up to a gigantic building that is perfectly visible from the lights of downtown.
Alex: It’s called the Chanin building. It’s one of the biggest buildings in the city…it’s nice, but this (she turns him to the right to show the Chrysler Building) is what I wanted you to see. (Duke’s eyes light up as the music swells) They say it’s going to be the biggest building in the entire world when it’s finished. And when it’s done, me and you are going to climb to the very top.
She holds him out and looks at him face to face.
Alex: We’ll be on top of the world. You and me, Duke. (He Barks, she smiles and hugs him) Let’s get some sleep; we’ve a got a lot of work to do.
The sun rises over the city of New York as a jazzy piano score plays. On the ceiling on the apartment building, Alex ties a rope tightly and begins practicing. At first she successfully masters the basics but as she tries more complicated tricks, she falls off violently to the ground. This is followed by a swift series of moments where Alex falls one after the other, each getting a painful reaction from Duke who uses his ears to block his vision. The final fall comes after she loses her balance and gets her leg caught in the rope where she hands by one leg. She spins around slowly with an angry look until Duke stands in front of her and licks her face. Angrily, she untangles herself, yells “I’m hopeless”, and storms off from the rooftop.
Duke follows her back into her room where she lies on her bed facing the wall.
Alex: I don’t know why I thought I could do this…I can’t do anything right. (Stomach growls; she grimaces and ignores it).
Duke looks up with concern but sees something to his left that gains his full attention. Alex lays on her back holding back tears as she sticks her hand under her mattress and pulls out the picture of her parents. She sighs grimly and then hears the clanking on tin hitting her floor. Lowering the picture, she sees a pie lying in front of Duke, who sits with his tail wagging. Alex quickly gets up confused, gets up, and kneels next to Duke.
Alex: Duke? Where did you get this?
Duke looks out the window, and Alex follows to see an open window at the adjacent apartment with an open window across from her. Looking even more confused she tells him to put it back. He then grabs the pan, jumps out the window, onto the fire escape, and up onto the clothes line that connects the two apartments. He seamlessly walks over the window and puts the pie down and walks back. As Duke walks back he stops a couple of feet from the fire escape and meets the eyes of Alex who stands flabbergasted. After a few seconds he sticks her arms out motions to come here, which he obliges and jumps into her arms.
Alex: (Holding Duke in front of her) Don’t you ever do that…(epiphany)
A jaunty tune plays as they are both on the rooftop where a montage of her teaching him a routine and attempting it begins. At first they fall off numerous times but after a few days they become more comfortable and flawless in their routine. Finally she jumps off enthusiastically and catches Duke as the score dies.
Alex: I think we’re ready.
Downtown Alex and Duke look up at all the Cirque du Magie posters.
Alex: We obviously can’t get a job there. Maybe...
With uncertainty she walks down the wall looking until she notices a lone poster at the end with the title “The Harlan Brothers Circus” and the usual artwork on it.
The camera sets upon the grand artwork and fades into the actual circus, which is decrepit and rundown.
A jumpy, jazzy score plays as she walks towards the large center tent, passing by several colorful characters on her way: elephant trainers, lion tamers, fire-eaters, jugglers, and clowns…all practicing their acts pretty badly and without much conviction.
Inside the tent Ham Harman, the ringmaster, makes comments and barks out orders in a jolly but stern manner. He walks over to a young boy, Roy, who is putting up a safety net, which he examines.
Ham: Uh…this safety net looks a little loose.
Roy: Yes sir, it’s suppose to be like that, to make sure that-
Ham: Tighten it!
Ham: Tighten it!
Roy quickly begins tightening as Ham smiles and walks off. Alex walks up.
Alex: Excuse me.
Roy looks up and his hands clumsily slip from the wrench; he tries to compose himself.
Roy: H-…(clears throat)…hi.
Alex: I’m Alex.
Puts out his hand and sighs at how weird he comes off, but she giggles and shakes his hand.
Alex: I was wondering if you can tell me who I needed to talk to about getting a job.
Roy: A job…um…oh yeah, Mr. Harman. Uh…Him…
He points to a short, skinny man with graying, slick hair, thin mustache, and glasses shouting at a mechanic who’s unable to get a spotlight working.
Alex: Excuse me…
Hugh looks at her.
Hugh: Not now little girl I’m busy.
Alex: My name is Alex Iwerks...I was wondering if I could get a job?
Hugh: My dear if you want a job you have to audition for it.
Alex: Then can I audition?
He starts walking away, but she persistently follows.
Alex: But I’ve been practicing-
Hugh: I’m sorry, we’re right in the middle of our spring season and even if you did have credentials we don’t have any open positions.
She stops and he notices. He turns around to see a sad grim look on Alex and Duke. He rolls his eyes.
Hugh: What is it you do exactly.
Alex: We’re tight rope walkers!
Alex: Me and my dog…Duke! (Holds him up; he looks at her with smarmy grin)
Hugh: Well I’m sorry dear, but we already have a tight rope walker.
He motions to a man whose protruding stomach doesn’t allow him to stretch far enough to put his shoes on. He gives up and sits down out of breath. He gives a salute to them before finally ascending the pole. Alex looks with a rather disturbed look.
Hugh: …eh, trust me…he’s good.
Alex: …but really we’re-
Hugh: My dear unless you can fix a spotlight I suggest you leave. I appreciate your enthusiasm but we just aren’t looking for anyone!
Alex: (Solemnly) I’m sorry I wasted your time…let’s go Duke.
As she picks him up and walks out, Hugh continues to grow frustrated at the spotlight until he angrily kicks it causing the mechanics to begin working. The spotlight turns on with a blinding light that shines up towards the ceiling and hits the tightrope walker just getting on the high wire. He shields his eyes in pains, drops his balancer, and begins to wobble uncontrollably.
Alex begins walking out of the tent until we hear a loud, high pitched scream echo through the tent. She turns and sees the tightrope walker plummeting to the ground. His scream continues until he hits the safety net, but due to its tightness flings him back up into the air. Everyone lifts their heads as they follow him back into the air making awe sounds until he starts falling back down and hits the ground out of view causing them all to look away in pain.
Cut to the tightrope walker is placed on a stretcher and escorted out of the circus and into an ambulance. Hugh stands with arms crossed talking to his brother Ham.
Ham: This is a disaster, Ramon’s act was the foundation of the entire show! If we can’t find a replacement we’ll never recover!
Hugh: Calm down, we’ll think of something.
He turns around and sighs at Alex and Duke, who stand with uncontrollable joy.
Hugh: (Sternly) You get one try. That’s it!
Alex: You won’t regret it sir, I promise.
Hugh: (Distraught) Just get ready…Roy! (To Roy) Make sure that safety net has enough slack to catch someone and not catapult him into Jersey.
Ham: Wait!? She’s going up there?
Alex takes off her jacket then puts Duke on her shoulder.
Ham: Wait! The dog’s going up there too!
As she climbs the pole a curious crowd gathers around at the bottom.
Ham: This is madness! A young girl and a dog right off the streets…it’s insane!
Finally they stand now at the top of the pole at the edge of the platform. Alex looks down at Duke and smiles.
Alex: This is it boy.
She sighs as she slowly walks out onto the high wire with relative ease. Soon, Duke comes out and follows her. They do a few tricks that involve twists and jumps that are perfectly in sync.
The circus performers cheer and whistle with great enjoyment, to Hugh’s surprise.
Ham: This is so nerve-wracking…but I can’t take my eyes off it!
Hugh: This is golden brother…can you imagine the publicity she’ll bring. This is exactly why the moment I saw her I knew she was going to be a star!
Ham: You were always the one with the eye for talent.
She makes her way to the center and kneels down and gives a command, which Duke follows and jumps onto her shoulders. Suddenly a drum roll starts to play as she stands up and Duke jumps off in front of her and lands on the wire.
As Duke lands we see that the circus is now darkened except for the spotlight shining on them with a small crowd thoroughly invested with excitement. Finally, she gets off the wire having finished and Duke leaps into her arms. The band hits their final note as she strikes her finishing pose and the crowd erupts in cheers. Smiling, she hugs Duke and waves to crowd as the gives a standing ovation with utmost cheering.
Ham: (Down at the center ring) Ladies and Gentlemen! The amazing Alexandra and Duke!
The song “Sitting on Top of the World” begins to play as a montage begins to play throughout the song.
Alexandra and Duke pose for flashing photographers and cheering fans.
People eagerly read newspapers with their picture on the cover.
Lines for the circus begin to look endless; the Harmans are thrilled with the boom in business.
The circus travels by train across the northeast with Alex and Duke sitting in an open stock car admiring the passing landscape.
Alex and Duke sleep underneath the stars on top of train car.
Alexandra and Duke’s routine becomes more complicated with props like chairs and poles. Enormous crowds roar with enjoyment.
At a camp fire amongst the circus, Duke and Alex sit with a blanket laughing and enjoying Hugh and others putting on a show involving a safari.
Alex and Duke now ride in a fancy caboose along with the Harmans.
Alex begins cleaning up her room and adding new furniture, including a personal bed for Duke. Alex also begins wearing more chic clothing.
Alex walks past a clothing store and sees a dress she likes, she then ties Duke to a pole and leaves him outside to where an adoring crowd soon surrounds him. Alexandra quickly comes out, grabs him, and escapes via taxi.
Duke looks over at Roy and Alex talking and flirting with each other, but is distracted by a butterfly.
Alex is swarmed by an adoring crowd until he runs into her personal stationed car with Duke and lies on a large, fancy couch.
The final beats end with shots of their routine to where the final image ends on a New York Times cover with Alex, who at 16 looks noticeably older but still retains her girlish looks, and Duke posing for a picture than flashes and fades to a New York Times newspaper under the title “Unstoppable Circus Act is Best Ever!”
The newspaper is slammed by Lillian Kimball onto the desk of Harry Mintz inside his Manhattan office overlooking the city. They both have rich, French accents.
Lillian: What is this?! Why in the world is this girl getting the cover of the Times!?
Harry: People seem to like her more than you; she’s younger, more youthful…she has a dog.
Lillian: It doesn’t matter, as manager of this troupe you’re supposed to get me on the paper!
Harry: So the Harman brothers got lucky, our ticket sales haven’t suffered.
Lillian: I don’t care. Do you know how long I’ve waited to get to the top? Now this freak show is the talk of the town and I’m out with the garbage! Either do something or I will...
Harry: (Pause) Fine…I’ll come up with something.
Lillian: And make it good. I want it so that I never hear from her again!
Harry: Lily, she’s just a girl…something will distract her sooner or later.
The score slowly plays as we see Alex inside a large movie theater with Duke lying on a chair next to her. He leans his head across the armrest and Alex scratches him.
He looks up at Alex who stares fascinated at the screen. Her face shines as the projection light flickers off it. Somewhat intrigued Duke looks up over the seats and the score slowly fades into Chaplin’s “City Lights” score. One the screen, Charlie Chaplin hands a flower to Virginia Cherrill. Duke looks to Alex who swoons at the final scene and then down to her other hand which grabs Roy’s, who is sitting beside her.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpeiPbjDlDs"]YouTube - City Lights[/ame]
Duke sits on top of the roof and watches Roy and Alex sit on the edge looking at the sunset past an incomplete Empire State Building. She lays her head onto his shoulder as Duke looks on with a solemn look and the score fades down.
Cut back to the apartment where Duke quickly gets up in excitement as Alex walks into her apartment.
Alex: Hey boy!
She loves him for a moment then goes into the other room and behind a dresser as Duke sits down attentively. After a few seconds she begins to speak.
Alex: You won’t believe who asked me out to dinner today! Lillian Kimball! (Duke barks) I know…I’m so excited! I have no idea what she wants to talk about but she called Mr. Harman and asked for us to join her at some fancy night club. (Duke begins to get extremely excited) Okay...you ready?
Duke jumps off the bed in excitement and runs to the other room but stops abruptly as she sees Alex dolled up and talking on the phone.
Alex: Okay, I’ll see you soon…bye.
She turns around to Duke who stands heartbroken and asks “How do I look?” He gives no response and walks back to the bed where he lays down solemnly. Alex finishes up, grabs a coat, turns off the lights, and leaves without another word. A soft score plays for a minute as Duke lies in the dark illuminated by the last bit of the day’s sunlight, then begins to fade into Rudy Vallee’s “I’m Just a Vagabond Lover”.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eb36JID2jRA"]YouTube - I'm Just a Vagabond Lover (1929) Rudy Vallee[/ame]
We cut to a large, eloquent ballroom as members of New York’s upper society dance gleefully as a large house band sings and performs “Vagabond Lover”. Dressed up, Alex and Roy walk into the restaurant admiring the spectacle.
Roy: I didn’t think you liked places like this?
Alex: That’s because I’ve never been somewhere like this before.
Roy: Well I don’t like it, can we go?
Alex: Of course not.
Cut to them being escorted to a table on the second floor that overlooks the dance floor. There they come to a table with Lillian Kimball and Harry Mintz, both looking pleasantly welcoming. The entire conversation is awkward and fluctuates in speed.
Lillian: Alexandra Iwerks! How are you?
Alex: (Estatic and speaking quickly) You seriously don’t know how excited I am to finally meet you, I mean you’re my idol, I’ve based my entire routine on watching you perform. I mean, you’re the absolute best and I…(Roy stops her)
Lillian: Uh, thank you…please let’s sit down. Alexandra, this is my manager Harry Mintz and this is your…?
Roy: Boyfriend…Roy Hamilton.
Alex: (Smiles nervously) We’re really happy that you invited us for dinner.
Lillian: I read your story in the Times…guess this lifestyle is a new experience?
Alex: It’s all just been so fast.
Lillian: (Smugly) I bet.
Silence. Music and noise still plays in the background.
Harry: Alright, let’s cut to the chase Ms. Iwerks. We brought you-
Lillian: -we asked you here to offer you a mutually beneficial offer that I think will help out both our rising stocks. And that’s what we need nowadays, right?
Alex: I don’t understand.
Lillian: A competition! Me and you in a battle of talent! It’s always necessary to resort to competition when two great talents meet at a crossroads…to discover who is truly superior, no!?
Alex: I don’t know…I’ll need to talk to Mr. Harman.
Harry: You don’t need his permission, do you? As far as I’m concern Mr. Harman should be answering to you.
Lillian: He’s right, you’re the one bringing all the people into his tent.
Alex: What about Duke?
Harry: The Dog.
Lillian: Well that’s up to you…you are a duo, no? It’s only fitting that I take on you both…which is only fair of course.
Alex takes offense to the comment but Roy pulls her away from the table for a private conversation.
Roy: What are you doing?! She’s just trying to lure you into some trap. You have nothing to prove.
Alex: I know but…
Roy: Let’s just leave.
Alex: (To Lillian) I’m sorry but-
Photographer: (Coming to the table) Excuse me, Ms. Kimball, a picture please?
Lillian: Of course.
She smiles as the photographer flashes his camera.
Lillian: And don’t forget Mademoiselles Iwerks.
Photographer: Of course.
He goes to take her picture but stops.
Photographer: Uh…where’s the dog sweetie?
Alex: …he’s at home.
Photographer: That’s okay.
She smiles but she misinterprets him as he walks off leaving her embarrassed. Silence ensues.
Alex: I’ll do it.
Harry: What’s that?
Alex: I’ll do it. But just me…Duke’s not involved.
Harry: As you wish.
Lillian: Wonderful! Now all we have to decide is when and where our challenge will take place. Do you have any ideas dear?
Alex looks down for a moment and looks up at the table to see a centerpiece with the Chrysler Building etched into the polished silver. She looks up beaming.
Alex: I got it!
Dozens of cameras flash as reporters gather inside the Cirque du Magie tent where a platform is set up with Alex, Duke, and Lillian smiling and posing for pictures.
Harry: Ladies and Gentlemen, as you know the Empire State Building will open it doors in only 4 days and officially become the largest skyscraper in the world; making the Chrysler building 2nd. It’s only fitting that the day before this monster is unveiled, that two giants will compete to claim superiority over the other in their talents to conquer the sky in the greatest competition the world has ever seen! That is why in three days… the lovely Ms. Lillian Kimball will challenge Ms. Alexandra Iwerks to a tight-rope walk off between the Chanin and the Chrysler Building!
Gasps and flashes are heard as a small model is unveiled of downtown Manhattan to show where the rope will be suspended.
Harry: As you can see, the rope will span from the Chanin’s rooftop a full 500 feet across at 650 feet in the air with a 50 foot slope to the 61st floor of the Chrysler. There is no safety net of course, and once the walker is one the rope, they will be timed until they set foot on the Chrysler Building. And with that, I open the floor to our brave performers.
A huge wave of questions suddenly erupt as Lillian calmly goes over to the microphone and speaks calmly. Her answers are blurred through the sudden flashes and noise as Alex stands in a daze. Duke nudges her and awakens her from her trance.
Reporter: Ms. Iwerks?! Mr. Mintz didn't mention Duke in his announcement. Will he not be walking with you?
Alex: (Nervous) No, he won’t.
Sighs and moans flood the crowd of reporters as Lillian smiles at Harry.
Reporter 2: Have you ever even performed without Duke before?
Reporter 3: Does this mean you are finished as a team?
Reporter 4: Is Duke ill?
Harry: Does anyone have a question for Ms. Iwerks?
Some begrudged mumbling comes over but no questions.
Alex: Thank you…
Alex walks off passing Lillian on the way.
Lillian: (To Alex, sinisterly) Fame is a tricky thing. One day you think the world loves you…then you find out you were just side show for their entertainment. (Duke growls at her as she smiles) See you in three days.
Cut to the evening show of the Harman Brothers Circus as the clowns do a routine for the adoring audience as Alex stands in the shadows looking on. Duke looks up at her only to be ignored then he looks back down.
Spotlight on Ham.
Ham: Ladies and gentlemen…it is my pleasure to present to you the last performance of the greatest tight-rope walking duo in the world before their death-defying feat of climbing the Chrysler building! (Huge applause) And now, the 8th wonder of the world and her equally amazing canine companion…I give you…Alexandra and Duke!
Alexandra and Duke stand at the top of the poll as she acknowledges the crowd. With great tension, they go through their routine as usual until she stops at the center, spins around, kneels, and sticks her arms out with the pole.
Alex: Okay boy, I want you to jump onto the pole and then my head, okay?
Duke looks at her with a concerned look. Alex grows frustrated.
Alex: Come on Duke, I know it’s new but trust me. (Duke still stands somewhat scared) Duke! Now!
Duke closes his eyes for a second then opens them with determination. He jumps onto the pole, but it causes him to slip and knocks Alice off her balance. Screams and gasps fill the tent as they both plummet 50 feet to the ground. The music swells as they hit the safety net and slide to the end, falling off hard onto the ground.
She quickly dusts herself off feeling somewhat ill as Roy, Mr. Harman, and others run to her aid.
Roy: Are you alright?
Alex: I’m lucky I’m not dead! (To Duke) You nearly killed me! The next time I tell you to do something, you be a good dog and do it!
Duke, barely on his feet, looks up shaken and scared as she storms angrily out of the tent and through the circus grounds. Ham looks up nervously and motions for the clowns to distract the audience.
Roy: Alex stop! You just fell fifty feet I think you need to sit down.
Harman: My dear you’re traumatized, please. Roy go get Duke…
Alex: (Tearing up) I don’t need him!
Alex: Duke! Everyone’s saying that I’m nothing without him but I am! I’ve made someone of myself, by myself, and I’m gonna prove it.
Harman: You have nothing to prove to us, you never did.
Alex: Would you have hired me if it wasn’t for him? Would the papers even care to write anything about me if I wasn’t a…gimmick!? Just leave me alone.
Duke sits up and sees Alex slamming the door of her car in the distance. A soft piano plays as thunder is heard and lightning is seen in the background. Duke quietly turns away and walks off.
Cut to Alex sitting in her car crying. Then she quickly runs into her apartment, turning on the lights, hoping to find Duke. She looks distraught as she watches at the pouring rain outside the window as we fade to Duke walking in a fairly lit street. The score for “You Mean That Much to Me” begins to play as he stops and looks at a Brownstone house where a family is seen through the windows.
The following plays:
As the song plays we fade to a time where a younger Alex plays with her mom until her dad comes home and gives her a brand new Jack Russell puppy.
They sleep together at night as Mom walks into the room and kisses them both goodnight.
A maid opens the door see two cops who begin speaking and she reacts horrified.
Duke walks in the house alone and sees a newspaper with the headline “Subway Crash Kills 27”. He walks up into Alex’s room where she lays crying and comforts her.
Alex is escorted from the house with Duke as furniture is moved out.
Alex stands at the front of an orphanage where government official hands her off and walks away. A stern lady takes Duke from her, walks down the steps, and puts his down. She then walks back up and drags a struggling Alex into the building.
Duke lies in a tipped over trashcan at night alone, freezing in the snow as a light from the building comes on. He suddenly becomes ecstatic as Alex walks up, grabs him, and holds her finger to her lips. They walk off together towards downtown in the snow and darkness, unsure of where to go.
Fades back to Duke who sits under a bench and closes his eyes as the rain continues to pour and the song ends.
A flag waves violently as a grand score plays as huge crowd of New Yorkers flood the streets at the base of the Chrysler Building. On top of the Chanin building Alex, Lillian, and others anticipate the competition with growing concern.
Harry: It’s really windy today Lily, are you sure you want to go through with this?
Lillian: I’ve been through worst. But of course if someone else wants to drop out?
She turns to Alex who stands looking around intently and ignoring the reporters who yell questions like, “Do you think yesterday’s near death fall will affect you in any way?” “Are you concerned about the wind?” and “Where’s Duke?”
Alex and Lillian stand near the beginning station as she looks out at the wire that ascends to the towering Chrysler building in front of her.
Harry: Ladies and gentlemen we are about to begin. As host of this challenge, Ms. Kimball has elected to go first. Ms. Kimball…on your mark.
Lillian: See you on the other side.
The score picks up as she puts her first foot on the wire and a huge gust rushes by. Everyone reacts except for Lillian who remains solidly focused. She begins walking as the crowd down below erupts with cheers. Alex remains unfocused until her eyes widen at the sight of Roy.
Alex: Did you find him?
Roy: I’m sorry, we looked everywhere.
Alex: I hope he’s okay.
Roy: Don’t worry, he’ll be fine. You need to focus on this now, and nothing else.
Alex: I was so mean to him.
Roy: Look at me…he’ll be fine.
Alex: I know…it’s just…I shouldn’t be here.
Roy: We’ll look for him afterwards.
Alex: No. I shouldn’t be here. I’m not good enough for this. Everyone was right, it was Duke that made me popular, not my talent.
Roy: You’re plenty talented. You can do this with your eyes closed. I know you…you’ll beat Lillian and you’ll become the most famous-
Alex: I’ve been so obsessed with fame for the past few years I’ve…neglected the only person who has loved me all along. (Starts to smile) Let’s go.
Roy: (Pause) Are you sure?
Alex: Yes, let’s go!
Roy: But the contest?
Alex: Forget the contest, let Lillian have all the attention she wants…Duke is the only thing I care about so let’s go find him!
Roy: (Smiles) Alright!
She begins to glow with happiness as she kisses him. She grabs his hand and begins running off until gasps and screams are heard. They look out to see Lillian, who at the halfway point begins to wobble as the winds pick up. Suddenly he slips, drops her stick, but catches herself on the wire and now hangs from her hands and leg.
Reporter: She’s gonna fall!
Cop: Somebody try to steady this wire.
Roy turns and looks at Alex as a grand score begins to play. She quickly runs over the platform and prepares to start walking.
Cop: Hey! You can’t go out there, are you insane?!
Alex: If I don’t then she’s gonna fall.
Harry grabs her and talks discretely.
Harry: Use your brain Alex! If she falls…Cirque du Magie will need a new walker...
She angrily ignores him as she stands on the platform and Roy hands her the pole, which she swings nonchalantly around smacking Harry in head.
Down at the ground level Duke walks down an alley and sees the crowd watching the event. He pays no mind until he suddenly hears the screams of people, sirens, and fire engines roaring through the streets. He immediately begins running towards them and jumps onto a bench to see the problem unfolding. Then someone yells “It’s Alexandra!” and Duke looks up to see Alex making her way on the wire.
Duke barks and a chubby boy turns around, sees him, and yells “It’s Duke!”. Suddenly people in the crowd turn to see him as he jumps off and begins running towards the Chanin building. Word quickly spreads as the crowd parts and Duke runs through the cheering crowd. He runs into the Chanin building as the guards let him by and goes into the main staircase. He looks up and realizes the monumental task of climbing so many stairs so he runs back into the main lobby and stops at an usher talking to an elevator operator. They stand dumbfounded as he barks at them. Finally the usher tells the operator to go and pushes him into the elevator. Duke gets in with him and he closes the gate. “Going up!”.
Alex makes her way a few yards from Lillian. She sticks out the poll and tells Lillian to grab it. As she does, a huge gust knocks Alex over and throws her off the wire. Alex grabs onto the other end of the poll, which balances on the wire with Alex and Lillian hanging from each end.
Lillian: Alex! Swing over to your right and grab onto the wire…I’ll do the same!
Alex follows her instruction and they rotate the poll to where they both swing towards the wire and grab on it. The poll falls to the ground and Lillian is able to pull herself up.
Lillian: Are you alright!?
Alex: I’m fine! Go!
Lillian reluctantly continues walking as Alex dangles from the wire. Roy looks on with concern as the elevator operator looks at Duke whose nose is right on the gate ready to pounce.
Alex tries to pull herself up but slips; unable to grab the wire with her other hand. Slowly she starts slipping as panic and fear overtake her and is unable to hang on. She closes her eyes and screams as she falls, but slowly opens them to see herself still dangling. Looking up, she sees her bracelet clinched firmly into Duke’s mouth. Her eyes begin tear up as Duke pulls her up with all his might enough for her to grab onto the wire. With his help she pulls herself up and stands on the wire.
The crowd erupts in cheers and they make their way up the wire together and into the Chrysler Building. Alex jumps into the window and catches Duke as the music swells.
Alex: (Hugging him) Thank you so much. I’m so sorry for everything.
Duke simply smiles and licks her. She giggles as Lillian walks over a puts her hand on Alex's shoulder.
Lillian: You truly are a remarkable woman to come and rescue me like that.
Alex: I’m sure you would’ve done the same.
Lillian: (Forces a smile) I can only hope...still,I’m eternally in your debt Ms. Iwerks.
A soft score takes over as they meet eyes and share a moment. Lights begin flashing and reporters begin rushing her but she rushes into an elevator and begins to descend. She hugs Duke close to her, who closes his eyes and rests his head on her shoulder.
The score continues to play over the following scenes:
Alex returns to the Harman Brothers Circus where everyone gives her a hero’s welcome. As night falls she talks alone with Hugh outside the tent. They shake hands and walk away.
Harry throws down a paper in anger as a poster shows a promotion for The Harman Brothers Circus…now featuring the “Flower of Manhattan” Lillian Kimball.
Alex and Roy, notably older pack up a moving van and drive off. The camera pans up towards the sky then back down to an abandoned alleyway.
Duke sits alone in soap box front of white fence. His sad face looks around until he finally lies down and goes to sleep.
Director: Cut! That’s a wrap people!
The set begins to move behind Duke as Alex, a bit older, runs over and picks him up. We zoom out to see they are on a major motion picture set.
Director: That’s a great little guy you got there.
Alex: Thank you.
Director: Hey, if you ever think about doing a picture yourself, I know you’d be terrific.
Alex: Thank you, but that just aint for me. You ready?
Roy walks over carrying film equipment.
Roy: Be ready in a minute…I’ll meet you out in the car. (They kiss)
She looks at Duke who seems upset. Smiling, she holds him up face to face.
Alex: Don’t worry, you’ll always be my guy.
She kisses which lifts his spirits. She sets him down as the giant studio doors open to a setting sun.
Alex: Come on Duke, let’s go home.
Alex and Duke together walk side by side as their silhouettes glow from the setting sun and the music hits its final notes.
The credits roll as a modern instrumental version of Jack Hylton’s “The Best Things in Life are Free” plays over 2D animation in the style of the UPA cartoons during the 50’s depicting the events of Alex, Duke, and Roy in California and numerous vacations across the world. The music then fades into Ruth Etting’s version of “I’ll Get By as Long as I Have You” then into Newman’s “You Mean that Much to Me” and finally into the original score.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HD5tyat_L68"]YouTube - "The Best Things in Life are Free" (Jack Hylton, 1928)[/ame]
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U22yXrxR3Ok&"]YouTube - Ruth Etting - I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You) - 1929[/ame]
For Your Consideration
Best Original Screenplay Budd Guy
Best Director John Lasseter
Best Actress Ellen Page
Best Original Score Michael Giacchino
Best Original Song Randy Newman "You Mean That Much to Me"
Production Designer: Harley Jessup (Monsters Inc., Ratatouille)
Art Director: Ralph Eggleston (Wall E, The Incredibles)
Cinematographer: Jeremy Lasker (Finding Nemo, Cars)
Film Editor: Stephen Schaffer (Wall E, The Incredibles)
Original Score Composer: Michael Giacchino (Ratatouille, Up)
Original Song: “You Mean That Much to Me” by Randy Newman
Sound Editor: Teresa Eckton (Wall E, Monsters Inc.)
Sound Designer: Tom Myers (Cars, Toy Story 2)
Visual Effects Supervisor: Andrew Jimenez (Ratatouille, The Incredibles)
In Memory of Wayne Allwine and Dom Deluise