A Song Is Born

Synopsis: Gangster's moll Honey Swanson goes into hiding when her boyfriend is under investigation by the police. Where better to hide than a musical research institute staffed entirely by lonely bachelors? She gets more than she bargained for when the head of the institute Professor Hobart Frisbee starts to fall for her.
Genre: Comedy, Music, Musical
Director(s): Howard Hawks
Production: RKO Radio Pictures
Rotten Tomatoes:
113 min

First you take a drum beat

And then you add a clarinet

You sweeten with a trombone

Then let the other cats get set

Season with a sprinkling

of GabrieI's horn

And presto

A song is born

They're here! They're here.

They just drove up.

Who is here?

You know, whatchamacallit,

the lawyer for the foundation.

And Miss Totten is with him.

I saw them getting out of the car.

And this place is

looking like a flicker's nest.

We're in for our semiannual wigging,

I suppose.

You'd better put your coat on, Frisbee.

Yeah, and fix your tie, too.

Fix your tie.

Come here.

Let me fix your hair a little bit.

- It looks so untidy.

- Straighten him up. That's it.

What is all this nonsense?

This nonsense is Miss Totten.

And will you please smile at her?

Gentlemen, this is very undignified.

If you think you're being funny, I...

Good morning, gentlemen.

- Good morning, Miss Totten.

- Good morning, Miss Totten.

- Won't you sit here, please?

- It's a very nice day, Miss Totten.

Would you like to speak,

Miss Totten, or shall I?

- No, you go ahead, Mr. Setter.

- I will be brief as possible.

Gentlemen, to date,

$283,000 have been expended

on the writing of this history of music.

I hope you realize that

Miss Totten's father,

the late Daniel S. Totten,

left only a quarter of a million dollars

for this project.

Every additional penny has to

come from Miss Totten's pocket.

You've been at it for 10 years now.

- Nine.

- All right, nine.

I want your frank estimate

of how much longer you will take.

- Well...

- Maybe three years.

- Maybe four.

- Yes.

It cannot be. It just cannot be.

Oh, my dear Miss Totten.

Surely, you don't want to discontinue

your father's great gesture

towards human enlightenment, do you?

Human enlightenment?

Nonsense, Professor.

My father was a disappointed musician.

He was never able to master

a single instrument.

So he decided to manufacture pianos,

and because his name was not included

with Steinway and Meyer

and Chickering,

he decided to finance this project.


And you'll have to

get it done with, quickly.

- Slap it together.

- What?

Excuse me, Mr. Setter. May I have a word?

Hello, Professor Frisbee.

Hello, Miss Totten.

You said slap it together.

- We're not the slapping together kind.

- He's right.

And this is not

an ordinary encyclopedia of music.

What's different about this

except that it's taking longer?

Don't interrupt, Mr. Setter.

In what way is this different,

Professor Frisbee?

Well, as far as I know,

this is the first history of music,

which, in addition to its written volumes,

will have albums of recorded music.

Now, in my own field of folk music...

- I'm not interested.

- Don't interrupt, Mr. Setter.

Go on, Professor.

I'm appealing to you, Miss Totten,

to your vision and to your heart.

Perhaps I'm maybe a little inarticulate,

but I've somehow

always regarded you as...

You know what I mean, Miss Totten?

Of course.

Well, it was my father's dying wish,

and you do make such an eloquent plea.

- But all of this seems so useless.

- Exactly.

It's not only useless, dull, unromantic,

but unprofitable.

My dear Mr. Setter,

bringing the peoples of the world

closer together

through the universal language of music

can hardly be termed

useless, dull and unromantic.

Our work is anything but that.

- It is often very exciting.

Oh, fiddlesticks.

- Yes, even emotional.

- Really?

Yes, Miss Totten, we...

Only the other day we were recording

a Polynesian chant, love chant.

- West Indian, wasn't it?

- Samoan, I believe.

Get to the point.

The point is, Mr. Setter,

the chant was exciting

and it was emotional.

It concerned itself with

the relation of music to courtship.


My dear Frisbee,

if you think that...

Just a minute, Mr. Setter.

I'm very interested, Professor.

Well, perhaps we can demonstrate it

for Miss Totten.

Yes, let's demonstrate it.

I don't think that would be

the logical thing to do.

- That's a very good idea.

- Please, please do.

I'd love to hear it.

Well, all right. Gentlemen, if you please.

- Yes, let's do it.

- All right.

Now, Miss Totten, imagine the setting

in an island courtship.

There's a vacant hut.

The nuptial hut all bedecked with flowers.

And nearby, the maiden awaits

the arrival of her lover.

Oh, excuse me.

Professor Oddly, you will be the maiden.

- But, Professor Frisbee, I...

- Oddly.

Must I, Professor Frisbee?

If you'll just stand over there,

Oddly, please!

Now, Miss Totten, as the lover approaches

from the opposite side of the village,

he is laden down with gifts.

And the beating of the drums

signalizes the beginning of the courtship.

As he comes nearer the village,

his relatives take up the drumming.

Then he spies the maiden and calls to her,

and she answers.

Professor, would you give us

the mating call please?

That's the mating call.

Now, imagine I'm coming around

the corner of the hut.

He spies the maiden.

Just... Just one moment, gentlemen.

Oddly, that was quite adequate

for the recording,

but I feel the air of reality

is somewhat strained here.

But, Professor Frisbee,

I didn't want to do it anyway.

I know that, Oddly, but I...

Professor, perhaps I could...

Very well, if you'll just stand here,

Miss Totten.

- And when I give you the mating call...

- Yes?

...you give it right back to me.

Now, imagine I'm coming around

Rate this script:0.0 / 0 votes

Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder was an Austrian-born American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist and journalist, whose career spanned more than fifty years and sixty films. more…

All Billy Wilder scripts | Billy Wilder Scripts

2 fans

Submitted on August 05, 2018

Discuss this script with the community:



    Translate and read this script in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this screenplay to your bibliography:


    "A Song Is Born" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 19 Apr. 2024. <https://www.scripts.com/script/a_song_is_born_2024>.

    We need you!

    Help us build the largest writers community and scripts collection on the web!

    Watch the movie trailer

    A Song Is Born

    Browse Scripts.com

    The Studio:

    ScreenWriting Tool

    Write your screenplay and focus on the story with many helpful features.