Alright! Ahead of schedule and under budget. Well, ahead of schedule anyway. We’ve plotted out the first act of the film. The treatment is below:
We open with newspaper headlines, establishing Frankie Naylor, explorer; her dad, Samuel Naylor the railroad tycoon; and Frankie’s upcoming expedition to the Amazon. The last headline is not good press — “Naylor Sisters Nailed at Speakeasy” or something along those lines. Something Papa Naylor isn’t thrilled with. He throws the newspaper down on his desk and calls in his daughter. Informs her that he’s hiring a biographer to set the record straight. She protests. She doesn’t want someone tagging along on her adventures. But he’s resolute, and says he won’t help finance her next expedition unless a biographer accompanies her. She says what writer would want to up and go to the jungles of the Amazon, he’d have to be awfully desperate. Papa Naylor calls up his friend who owns a newspaper and asks who’s the brokest writer in town. The answer: Gil George.
Smash cut to Gil George. (Gil is the Prohibition Era Michael Fassbender — critics love him, consumers actively avoid him.) A seedy apartment he lives in with his poet friend Charlie Hunter. Charlie opens the cabinets — they have no food. They’re flat broke. A line about how they need money, but money doesn’t just fall from the sky. The phone rings. Gil answers it. Says, “Yeah? This is he. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh. Who? Uh-huh. Thanks.” Hangs up. Says, “Money just fell from the sky.” Explains that he just got offered a gig as Frankie Naylor’s biographer, the pay is $200/wk. The poet, horrified that he’s selling out, says he can’t possibly take it.
At the Naylor house, India Naylor, Frankie’s 18 year old flapper sister, is looking for Frankie. She finds her in her room packing to run away. Has decided to flee before she can be saddled with a biographer. As she hurries out of the house, dressed for travelling, she runs into Gil in the foyer. They don’t know one another. She asks who he is and what he’s doing there. He says he’s there to write a biography about Frankie Naylor. She’s offended he doesn’t recognize her. Realizes she’s too late to run away, turns on her heel and goes back to her room.
We hear “FRANKIE!” and Sam calls her and Gil into his office. Introduces them. Gil says, “We’ve met.” Sam makes it plain that Gil is to stick to Frankie like glue, and make her out to be a saint. If not, he says, there are plenty of other penniless writers in New York. This has a double effect. Frankie resolves that she really HAS to shake Gil so that he gets fired, and Gil realizes his job is in no way secure and that really HAS to stick with Frankie.
Montage: Frankie tries to shake Gil. She slams a door in his face and climbs down the fire escape — but he’s waiting at the bottom. She goes to a speakeasy, he reluctantly tags along, but it’s closed. She says inflammatory things in front of her mother, and suggests that Gil taught her — but her mother is a modern suffragette and doesn’t care. She introduces Gil to India, trying to marry them off — but India just helps Gil do his job. She takes him to the National Geographic Society, figuring that he won’t be allowed inside, but the doorman loves Gil’s writing and lets him in. End montage.
They have tea at the Geographic Society. They banter, we get the verbal animosity. She tells him there’s a society party that night, she pretends to make peace and asks him to be her plus one. He proudly declines and informs her that he was invited independently of her, and that he won’t be going on her arm. They coldly agree to meet that night, but he insists on escorting her back to her house first so that she doesn’t run away.
Frankie and India get dressed for the party. Frankie pulls out her already packed travelling bag, says something about how she’s always ready for a quick getaway. India say something that makes light of it, misdirecting the audience.
Frankie and Gil arrive at the party at the same time. Frankie has India with her and Gil has Charlie with him. They introduce them. India attaches herself to Charlie (“A poet! Daddy will hate that!”). Frankie and Gil make much to do about how they aren’t there “together.” At the party they run into Sam and Delilah. Sam starts talking about Frankie’s early life, giving Gil some biographical “background.” It’s all terribly contrived, clearly embellished. While Sam is holding forth, Frankie makes her getaway.
Gil notices she’s gone and hurries after her, but she’s already out the door. He sees her get in a cab. He jumps into a cab of his own and tells the driver to “Follow that taxi!” Outside the party, lounging reporters see the drama and hail cabs of their own. There’s a taxi chase through New York, eventually leading to a private airplane hangar. Frankie’s travelling bag and her bi-plane are waiting for her. She gets into the cockpit just Gil pulls up. He leaps out of his cab and hurries toward her. Stands in front of the plane to stop her. She tells him to get out of her way, he tells her reporters are on their way and she can’t afford any more bad press. Frankie see the headlights of the reporters drawing nearer, throws up her hands and tells him she’s not getting out of the plane but that he can come with her. He hesitates, but she guns the engine. He reluctantly clambers into the plane behind her. She starts taxiing just as the reporters arrive. They take off in a storm of flashbulbs.