The 14th Annual
Screenwriting Awards (FISA)
Winners - Synopsis
The seemingly perfect life of HARRY CROSBY is about to
collide with his rocky personal world. Though his passionate wife, POLLY PEABODY,
is determined to save him, she’s up against the lingering effects of war, where
the casualties aren’t always left on the battlefield.
The story begins with a young couple, alone in a friend’s New York apartment
where they’re going “to try something for the first time.” It’s 1929 and, like
the Roaring Twenties itself, things are about to come to an abrupt end. The
couple might look like they are in the throes of lovemaking, but when a gunshot
goes off in the bedroom it’s clear something has literally killed the romance.
We are brought immediately back to 1919, where Harry’s life unfolds. It’s
summertime on Boston’s North Shore and the golden boy is celebrating his
twenty-first birthday. Afamily friend, POLLY PEABODY, joins the party. She’s “an
orchid at a table of daisies.” She’s also married with two children.
Harry is immediately smitten and pursues Polly in the impulsive, intense way he
goes after everything he wants. He’s charming, handsome, and wealthy. Naturally,
he’s hard to resist. It doesn’t take long before he sweeps Polly off her feet
and convinces her to leave the smothering confines of New England and run off to
Paris. It’s the beginning of the Jazz Age and anything goes in the exploding
world of modern art and culture. They have the makings of a beautiful life
together. What could possibly go wrong?
As the adored nephew of millionaire banker J.P. Morgan, Harry is given the
appropriate job to support his and Polly’s decadent new lifestyle. Together,
they’re as frivolous and hedonistic as the era itself. Alone though, Harry is
increasingly crippled by despair. His time as an ambulance driver in the First
World War has left Harry with haunting memories. And while he was one of the
lucky few that made it out alive, his parents insist he “was never quite right”
after the war. The truth is Harry suffers from shellshock.
As Polly struggles to create some semblance of a happy life for them, Harry
attempts to quell his despair. He quits his job, becomes a poet and publisher,
has Polly send her children off to boarding school so as not to distract her,
and insists Polly change her name to the more exotic CARESSE.
After those futile attempts, Harry’s quest for new thrills leads him to mindless
affairs, gambling, airplane racing and opium—but nothing can rid him of his fear
of dying alone in someone else’s battle. Just when Caresse thinks things can’t
get worse, Harry decides they need to die together. Planning how and when to do
it becomes his newest hobby. Not surprisingly, Caresse isn’t as enthusiastic.
She insists Harry join her in Italy and then to New York City, all with the hope
of getting him away from his risky behaviors and the dangerous temptations of
The backdrop of New York in 1929 says it all. With the stock market crash and
the prohibition crime spree gripping the city, it’s clear the Roaring Twenties
have come to an end. When Harry runs into a past mistress on the street, she
proves eager to rekindle their affair and agrees to join Harry in whatever he
It’s when Harry and the girl get the keys to a friend’s apartment and drink the
afternoon away that Harry finally admits he cannot run from his demons. At the
same time, Caresse is left to answer the question: how do you save someone who
doesn’t want to be saved?