The Film Mystery HTML version

30. The Ballroom Scene
Sounds of music caught our ears as we entered the studio courtyard of Manton Pictures.
Carrying the bag with its indisputable proof of some person's guilt, we made our way
through the familiar corridor by the dressing rooms, out under the roof of the so-called
large studio. There a scene of gayety confronted us, in sharp contrast with the gloomy
atmosphere of the rest of the establishment.
Kauf, however, had thoroughly demonstrated his genius as a director. To counteract the
depression caused by all the recent melodramatic and tragic happenings, he had brought
in an eight- piece orchestra, establishing the men in the set itself so as to get full
photographic value from their jazz antics. Where Werner and Manton had dispensed with
music, in a desperate effort at economy, Kauf had realized that money saved in that way
was lost through time wasted with dispirited people. It was a lesson learned long before
by other companies. In other studios I had seen music employed in the making of soberly
dramatic scenes, solely as an aid to the actors, enabling them to get into the atmosphere
of their work more quickly and naturally.
Under the lights the entire set sparkled with a tawdry garishness apt to fool those
uninitiated into the secrets of photography. On the screen, colors which now seemed dull
and flat would take on a soft richness and a delicacy characteristic of the society in which
Kauf's characters were supposed to move. Obviously fragile scenery would seem as
heavy and substantial as the walls and beams of the finest old mansion. Even the inferior
materials in the gowns of most of the girls would photograph as well as the most
expensive silk; in fact, by long experience, many of the extra girls had learned to
counterfeit the latest fashions at a cost ridiculous by comparison.
Kennedy approached Kauf, then returned to us.
"He asks us to wait until he gets this one big scene. It's the climax of the picture, really,
the unmasking of the 'Black Terror.' If we interrupt now he loses the result of half a day
of preparation."
"He may lose more than that!" muttered Mackay; and I wondered just whom the district
attorney suspected.
"Is everyone here?" I asked. "All seven?"
Gordon and Shirley, of the men, and Marilyn and Enid, of course, were out on the floor
of the supposed ballroom. Gordon I recognized because I remembered that he was to
wear the garb of a monk. Marilyn was easily picked out, although the vivacity she
assumed seemed unnatural now that we knew her as well as we did. Her costume was a
glorious Yama Yama creation, of a faint yellow which would photograph dazzling white,
revealing trim stockinged ankles and slender bare arms, framing face and eyes dancing
with merriment and maliciousness. Unquestionably she was the prettiest girl beneath the