Shorthose and Flaxbeard by Jim Boston | Script Revolution

Shorthose and Flaxbeard

An inept comic magician playing Seattle in 1917 seeks to turn her career around by landing herself a partner...a beloved theater organist-piano teacher who's fascinated with vaudeville.



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It's Wednesday, February 14, 1917...and 23-year-old comic magician ROSEMARY SHORTHOSE doesn't get any love at all as she inaugurates a one-week stand at Seattle's Liberty Theater. Rosemary pulling a frog out of her top hat when she and the audience expected rabbits seals the hostility...and burnishes the native Los Angeleno's reputation as "possibly the worst comic magician in the history of the world."

After the show, dogged-impulsive-temperamental Rosemary retreats to the quiet of her Emerald City home, the East Madison Street boardinghouse run by crusty old ELI PHIPPS. But tonight, a piano lesson in the apartment next door to Rosemary's kills the quiet.

A book thrown against the wall brings out the teacher, 22-year-old EMILY FLAXBEARD, the very organist at the Liberty Theater. She's using her night off from playing the pictures to instruct young BECKY JACOBS.

Soon, Rosemary and gentle New York transplant Emily strike up a conversation that turns to vaudeville in general and the former's act in particular. She shows Emily the shtick...and the teacher-organist likes the act so much she expresses interest in teaming up with Rosemary.

Despite Rosemary's efforts to make showbiz unattractive to Emily, the latter isn't fazed. And, at long last, this seven-year vaudeville veteran has a partner.

But it ultimately costs the Liberty its organist...much to the sorrow of the theater's down-to-Earth manager, LYELL COX, as well as the anger of CLEMENTINE SEAWELL, the suspicious woman who heads up the theater's chain, the Acme Circuit.

At the theater, Emily's debut as an assistant bombs when she can't get out of the box in the "Sawing a Person in Half" trick. Even tweaking the act to include Emily tickling the ivories during Rosemary's solo tricks doesn't completely convince Liberty audiences...who give the younger woman's musical offerings more kudos than the older woman's tricks.

The clincher comes when, on the stand's last night, the twosome botch the sawing trick. Again.

At the end of the Liberty stand, Clementine tells Rosemary and Emily to "get out of show business and stay out of show business!"

The magician chews out her assistant: "I WAS STUPID TO TAKE YOU ON AS A PARTNER!"

While Rosemary initiates an angry, violent confrontation with Clementine and eventually walks inside a saloon to get plastered, crestfallen Emily wanders inside a men's clothing store...and buys herself a new suit.

Now disguised as a man, Emily makes her way into the same saloon to tickle its piano's keys. Rosemary likes this "man's" playing so much she compliments "him." When Rosemary finds out the dude is actually Emily, the magician staggers her way out of the saloon...but Emily invites her to come back and soon pops Rosemary the question: "You're not musical, are any chance?"

Rosemary shows she herself can play a mean piano...drunk or sober.

Emily and Rosemary make up. And the act is back on, this time as a vocal-instrumental musical-comedy act that knocks Seattle's Alaska Theater dead.

It's also, as things turn out, the only act on the bill that opening night. And that forces Rosemary and Emily to empty out their individual and collective repertoires.

Backstage, Rosemary confronts Clementine over sabotaging the former's magic tricks and, later, sending the rest of the Alaska bill home. Confession Time turns out healthy, with Clementine admitting to those sabotage efforts...and Rosemary declaring that "I wasn't as good a magician as I am a musician."

The two young vaudevillians go out there once triumph.

Submitted: October 10, 2019
Last Updated: February 15, 2021

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Jim Boston's picture

The Writer: Jim Boston

I first got interested in screenwriting as a college student in 1979 (Iowa State University); an additional impetus was the paperback version of the "American Graffiti" screenplay. From 1980 to 1994, I pursued screenwriting with a vengeance...but other things happened in my life. Since 2016, I've been back chasing the dream...and it's only because I inherited a Power Mac from one of the codirectors (Nick Holle) of a documentary I was in: "The Entertainers," about the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest and Festival. (Nick received the computer from the husband-and-wife couple who helped produce the film, Brent and Jackie Watkins.) The Power Mac has a copy of Final Draft 6... Go to bio

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