A little behind schedule, but not too bad! Off to dinner, jumping back in at 8 instead of 7:30….
In blackness we hear the chugging of the train. We come back up on the two of them the following morning, huddled together for warmth. They wake up. They’re tired and freezing and hungry and desperately need coffee, but they’re oddly content. Gil reminds Frankie that it’s the morning of the gala, but she says she isn’t worried. She tells him that she’s decided he’s right, that money isn’t important, and that real adventures don’t need capital. He points out that that’s not quite what he meant, but she won’t hear it. She tells him that of all her adventures this one has been her favorite.
We cut to the drawing room of the Naylor house in New York. Sam, Delilah, India, and Charlie are all dressed the to the nines. Sam keeps checking his watch. India is happily fiddling with an engagement ring and grasping Charlie’s arm. Charlie mumbles that as soon as he sells his next collection of poetry he’ll buy her a ring that isn’t from a Crackerjack box. Sam harrumphs. India crossly tells him that it’s a lovely ring and Charlie is a prince, she doesn’t care if he hasn’t any money. Sam’s taken aback and says, “What? Oh, sure, sure,” and looks at his watch again. He wonders aloud where Frankie is. At that moment Frankie and Gil waltz in. They’re bedraggled and dirty and happy as can be. Before anyone can say anything India tells them that she and Charlie are engaged. Frankie and Gil are overjoyed. Sam gruffly declares that they have to get ready or they’ll be late, but that as soon as it’s over he’s going to give them a piece of his mind. The butler enters with the phone. He says that it’s Mr. Rosen, the detective. Sam grabs the mouthpiece, shouts, “She’s here, you’re fired,” and slams it down.
Beautifully dressed they arrive at the gala. At the top of a grand staircase a man is pacing. Gil asks Frankie who it is, and she tells him it’s Frank Donati. He’s shocked — the mob boss? Oh yes, she says, he’s an avid patron of exploration: he’s the one throwing the gala. Donati is visibly relieved to see her. They’re clearly fond of one another, and she greets him with a kiss on the cheek and a “Hello Frankie.” He replies in kind, and adds that she’s late. He ushers them into the ballroom and hurries her onto the stage. He introduces her to the swankily dressed guests, who receive her warmly. She gives a speech.
The speech is a disaster. It’s rambling, vaguely insulting — both to the patrons and other explorers — and ends with a strong invective against any sort of funding of exploration. The crowd is visibly upset, no one more than Gil. Her speech is met with thundering silence. She doesn’t seems to notice. She’s flushed and proud and tells Gil that he was right about money and she’s never been happier. We hold on Gil’s horrified face.
Montage. Newspaper headlines show what a calamity the gala was. (“Naylor the Naysayer!”) We learn from them that not only did she get no new funding, all existing funding was cancelled, she was kicked out of the National Geographic Society, and her Amazon expedition has been put on indefinite hold. End montage.
The last headline is on a paper that Frankie is reading. She throws it down disgustedly. She looks awful — depressed and unwashed. The butler enters the room and tells her that she has a visitor. She asks if it’s Gil. He says it is. She says that then he ought to know she doesn’t want to see him. He bows but adds a comment to the effect that the poor man has called every day since their return. She replies that he can keep calling every day until doomsday, he’s an idiot and a saboteur and she wants nothing to do with him.
We follow the butler, watch him deliver the bad news, and follow a sad Gil out of the house. He trudges home. He throws himself in chair and stares into space. His gaze falls on the notebook he brought with him to Kentucky. He grabs it and opens it. He flips through a few pages. Thinks for a minute. Puts a sheet of paper into his typewriter and begins hammering away. When he reaches the end of the page he pulls it out of the typewriter, slaps it down on the desk next to him, and puts another sheet in. He keeps writing. He writes for a long time. Days. The stack of finished pages grows and grows. Finally he flips it over. Looks at it. Puts one more sheet in the typewriter, types, adds it face up to the pile. We see: “Off the Record: A Biography of Frankie Naylor. By Gilbert George.”
Gil, unshaven and bleary eyed, brings the completed manuscript to the Naylor house. He tells Sam, in his study, that as far as he could tell he was still under contract, expedition or no expedition. Sam pages through the manuscript while Gil waits. Sam’s demeanor, which was frosty to begin with, noticeably warms. He finishes the manuscript and looks up. “By God, George,” says he, “you’ve done it.” He picks up the phone and says, “Get me Kane.” Waits. Says, “Kane, you own a publishing house, don’t you? Good. I’ve got a hot one for you.” He hangs up. Turns to Gil. Tells him he wishes Frankie would seem him, but he’s sure she won’t. Gil says he knows. Then he has a thought and asks if he can add something to the manuscript. “Sure,” says Sam. Gil explains that he forgot to include a dedication page. He scribbles something on a sheet of paper and hands it to Sam. Sam looks at it, and looks up at Gil, surprised. He holds out his hand. Gil shakes it.
We see a newspaper headline — a photo of a radiant India and Charles at their wedding. On the same page is a glowing review of Gil’s book. Frankie lowers the paper, disgusted, and throws it across the room. A messenger delivers a package addressed to Frankie. She opens it. It’s the first bound copy of the Off the Record. She disgustedly throws it across the room. A piece of paper flutters out. She goes and picks it up. It’s a check made out to her for a hundred thousand dollars. The signatory is the book’s publisher. Baffled, she picks up the book and opens it. She reads the dedication: “This book and all its proceeds are dedicated to the most daring adventurer who” etc., etc. — in short, to her. She gapes at it.
Tight on a giant headline: “Naylor Expedition Back On!” Gil puts down the paper, happy and sad all at once. His phone rings. He says, “Yeah? This is he. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh. Uh-huh. Thanks.” He hangs up, bemused. He grabs his hat and leave the apartment.
At the Naylor house, he enters Sam’s office. Frankie is sitting behind the desk. She is cold, professional. She says, “I’ve come into some money.” “Yes?” says Gil. “Yes,” says she, “and I understand that you’re still the brokest man in New York.” Gil admits that he is. She says that she’s about to leave for the Amazon, and she’d like to bring a biographer. She asks if he’s interested. He asks if it pays well. She says it does and he says he’s interested. She tells him there will be a brief interview, and can she ask him some questions. He says she can. She asks him two mundane questions and he gives two mundane answers. Then she asks, “Do you love me very much?” He gravely tells her that he does. She says, “Would you like to kiss me?” He tells her that he would. He does. She breathlessly but professionally says, “Very good, and do you have any questions for me?” He tells her that he has just one. “Go ahead and ask it,” she says. “Will you marry me?” he says.
We cut to Frankie’s private hangar. Outside is a sea of reporters. The hangar opens. A new biplane, identical to the one they crashed, taxis out. Frankie’s at the controls, Gil sits behind her. She guns the throttle, the little plane speeds down the runway and takes off into the sunset. As it rises a flashbulb goes off and we freezeframe on the plane silhouetted in front of the setting sun. The freezeframe fades to a newspaper photo. We hold on it and fade to black.