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The Corpse in Compartment C,

 Car 76

 

Week #1 of 1.

 


The original script is by Carlton E. Morse,  with excerpts from the original. 

The synopsis is written by James Herman & Brian Christopher Misiaszek, original material copyright 2000

Material slightly edited and adapted to HTML by Brian Christopher Misiaszek, February 2000.


CAST OF CHARACTERS:

JACK: Jay Novello.  

JUDY (Seventeen and Cute):     Mercedes McCambridge.  

PORTER (On the Look):    Forrest Lewis

MICHAEL (International Spy):     Forrest Lewis. 

PARMA (Viennese Actress):    Mercedes McCambridge.  

CONDUCTOR (On the Look):    Eddie Holden

SAWYER (Flesh Peddler):    Harry Lang

WAITER (On the Look):    Forrest Lewis

FRED (Judy's Uncle):    Harry Lang


Episode 1: Monday June 5th, 1944

SOUND (Train Whistle)   

ANNCR:    IVORY SOAP and OXYDOL bring you I LOVE A MYSTERY

MUSIC: ............Organ - "Valse Triste" 

SOUND (Train...Screech Of Brakes) 

ANCR: A new Carlton Morse Adventure Thriller!" The Corpse In Compartment C, Car 76"  

SOUND:  (Clock Strikes 10)

ANNCR: 10 o'clock at night on the overnight - streamliner commuters train, The Lark, one hour out of San Francisco enroute to Los Angeles in Bedroom F, Car 76. When Jack wound up the Cisco, Nevada multiple murders case by pointing out Soapy Cochran was the henchman of the killer-gang  and Boss Derby Stone shot him dead in his tracks, the case was done and there was no reason for him to stay in Nevada. But before he could get out of town, Judy French's mother and father were in to see him. First, to thank him for not bringing notoriety down on herself and her family. Second, to take her out of Nevada. They asked Jack to take Judy to Los Angeles and turn her over to her aunt and uncle who have a large California ranch on the edge of the desert.

JUDY: Yeah, they think I'm as mad as a March Hare, when really I'm an awfully decent girl AT HEART...I really AM...Jeepers, anyway! All I was doing in this Cisco business was trying to give Nevada a hand.... A girl can't let them send an Uncle to the gas chambers in Carson City...Not even an ADOPTED Uncle...   

JACK:    Judy---

Judy continues her tirade about her exasperating and square parents, until Jack, and even the Announcer gets fed up.

ANNCR: And so when Jack had talked to the Sheriff and given dispositions and finally cleaned up the last detail of the Cisco murders, he and Judy got on the bus in Carson City headed for San Francisco. They were there overnight, and Jack spent practically every second of his time at the hospital were Doc was slowly recovering from a fall in the Destroyer of Woman case. It was agreed that, Jack should return to Hollywood and reopen the A-One Detective Agency.  Doc talked vaguely about when he would be back but the Doctor shook his head and wouldn't promise anything. It was a very depressed Jack who got on board The Lark at the Third Street depot on the second night. Even Judy was subdued, until The Lark pulled out, headed down the Peninsula at nine o'clock...

SOUND (START TRAIN...ELECTRIC WHISTLES AND BELLS)

SOUND (TRAIN GET UNDERWAY...THEN SWITCH TO CLICKING OF RAILS BEHIND DIALOGUE)

ANNCR (ON CUE): Jack had got adjoining bedrooms for himself and Judy and by the time they'd been an  hour on the journey they were seated in Jack's bedroom while the porter was making up the bed in Judy's compartment...

JUDY:  Oh Jeepers Jack, do you realize what's happening...We're on our way. Tomorrow morning we'll wake up in Los Angeles.

JACK: We'll get off in Glendale.

JUDY: Why?

JACK: Closer to Hollywood...I wired your Aunt and Uncle.

JUDY:  Well anyway we have tonight....It's like we're eloping.

JACK: No. It isn't anything like eloping...get that out of your head.

JUDY:  Are you going to tuck me in?... my Mother does at home and kisses me goodnight.

JACK: If you want to be kissed goodnight you should have brought your Mother along.

JUDY:  (Laughs)

JACK: Heey, are you kidding me?

JUDY:  (Amused) Golly, but you look serious and upset. I bet a girl could twist you around her little finger.

JACK (Sober): Not any more, Judy.

JUDY:  Hey, what's that mean...not any more?  

JACK:    That's all the explanation there IS....

JUDY:    You mean you got your fingers burned once upon a time?

Jack clams up, and tells Judy if she is going to be this inquisitive, he'll head on over to the club car.  

Hurriedly, she changes the conversation onto the recent deadly events in Cisco and the case YOU CAN'T PIN A MURDER ON NEVADA. Soapy Cochrane was head of the killer gang! Soapy began to take advantage of his boss Derby Stone, but when he got wind of Nevada's gold strike, Soapy killed his partner Rudy, and framed Nevada for murder.  After that plan failed, he pulled the hoax of a gang war to hide the fact that his own gang was killing off everyone who had an inkling of the gold strike.  Soapy's career was suddenly cut short when he was killed in Derby Stone's bedroom, by Derby Stone himself!

Jack continues to fill in details of the case, until Judy spots a strange man furtively eyeing the two from a distance down the train corridor,  until he hurries off.  She comments on this to Jack, and when the strange man returns and approaches their compartment, Jack instantly recognizes him.

JACK:    Wha--MICHAEL!

MICHAEL: So it IS Jack Packard... 

JACK: Michael, you old sonovagun...What are you doing in California? 

MICHAEL:    Imagine meeting you here...I thought my eyes were deceiving me...I had to go away and come back again.

JACK: But I LIVE in Hollywood...I thought you were over in Jugoslavia fighting Nazis.

The two marvel over the coincidence of meeting here, and suddenly Jack remembers his manners, and introduces Michael, an international spy whom he had met in French West Africa on the Twenty Traitors Of Timbuktu case, to young Judy French.

JUDY: Well I was WONDERING if you forgot you had me along.   

Michael suavely introduce himself, first in French then in German to the suddenly tongue-tied and awe-struck Judy French, causing Jack to interrupt:

JACK    (SHAKES HEAD) Oooh-oh, Michael...Must'nt touch...

MICHAEL:    No?

JACK:    Judy is barely in her seventeenth summer...

JUDY:    You would open your big mouth...What are you trying to do to a girl...Queer her for LIFE?

Michael explains what he is doing here in California.  It had become  too hot for him to fight the Nazi's in Europe. Michael's face and description has got into all the Gestapo files in all the invading countries, so no where is safe for him.  Already, three times he's been a hair-breadth ahead of a firing squad.  He's now here in California on an enforced vacation,  looking up an acquaintance, a young widow he's had some correspondence with. 

Jack also plays catch up, and Michael is informed about Doc's recent injury (crashing through a skylight at the end of their Destroyer of Women caper).  Michael recalls the A-One's secretary (who had been left home from their African adventures) and asks if Jerry is with them today.

JACK: No. When Jerry Booker left us to join the WACs we decided to do without a secretary.

MICHAEL:  Are you working on a case now?

JACK: No.

MICHAEL:  Perhaps I could put a case in your hands.

JACK: A case?

MICHAEL:  Yes. That is why I came to Hollywood to look you up. Yes, something to do with a grandmother addicted to kleptomania. There is something that walks around the house at night. Come with me and we will see what develops. No?

JACK: (Amused) Why not.

Michael expands on his story, tells them his friend he is meeting is a young woman, a widow named Crystal.  And that Crystal is in trouble, for the lonely mansion she lives in with her kleptomaniac grandmother  and other eccentric family members, has something that stalks the halls at night! Michael's more used to international intrigue, and really was looking up Jack and Doc for help with this seemingly supernatural menace.

Judy, feisty as always, and not believing Michael's story, is put out because she feels she's being neglected. She voices her displeasure on more than one occasion, when suddenly: 

SOUND (Woman Scream)   

They puzzle over the meaning of this, and Michael ventures someone has seen a mouse.  Judy suddenly points at something outside their compartment.

JUDY:  No...No look out in the corridor...There's a woman laying on the floor...

JACK: Porter...Porter, what is the matter?  

PORTER:  (Terror) My goodness mister...there's a dead man...

JACK:    Dead man?

PORTER: Yes suh...that lady jes found a corpse in Compartment  C...a corpse in Compartment C.

MUSIC (Organ, "Valse Triste")                                

 

Episode 2: Tuesday June 6th, 1944

SOUND:  (Clock Strikes 12)                                            

ANNCR: Midnight on the overnight - streamliner commuters train, The Lark,  San Francisco enroute to Los Angeles. It was 10 O'clock when the corpse was found. The young woman who had a ticket to Compartment C, Car 76 opened the door and let out a terrified wail and slumped to the aisle in a dead faint. She had found the corpse. Jack was taking Judy French to her Uncle in L.A. Jack discovered Michael was on the train. THE Michael he hadn't seen since the "Trail of the Twenty Traitors" over in French West Africa. The Michael who drank Gin and Laudanum.

MICHAEL:  But I don't anymore. I am lucky if I can get plain laudanum and seltzer water.

JUDY: What's your last name Michael?

This starts a running gag with Michael who never DOES divulge his last name. Here it is implied that Judy wants to know Michael's last name because she is seeking a husband, which infuriates Judy much to the amusement of the others. 

Several hours have passed since the woman's scream and faint, and the discovery of a body in her compartment. After she has revived and been declared fit by a doctor traveling on the train, the conductor commandeered the men's lounge of the train, and then he, the Porter, Jack, Michael (Judy had been sternly sent to bed in Compartment G) and the woman have all gathered together.  

The conductor has just had an earnest talk with Jack, who after thinking a moment, replies:

JACK: Conductor, you are putting the authority to conduct an investigation into the hands of Michael and me?  You know who I am? 

CONDUCTOR: That is correct. I know all about Jack Packard and the A-One Detective Agency. You have the authority you need. 

So, with their authority in tow, the first order of business is to look the corpse over and then talk to the lady in Compartment C, Car 76.  They rap on the door, and find that she is a very beautiful woman, one with a slight accent.  Michael comments on it.

MICHAEL: So?  You are Viennese?

PARMA: (Viennese) Oui...you also, if my ears don't deceive me.

JACK: American citizen?

PARMA: Oui...my husband is an American officer.

JACK: You're Mrs. Fred Steele?

PARMA: Of course, Parma Hoffman is my maiden name. That is name under which I am an actress.

JACK: In Hollywood?

PARMA: No, in Vienna before the war...but it is my WISH to be an actress in Hollywood. How did man die...you've got to tell me.

JACK: Wandered out into a San Francisco street and got himself run over by an automobile--

PARMA (Aghast): The corpse in my compartment is Hit-Run victim?

JACK:    That's right.

PARMA: But...but how did he get on this train for Los Angeles?

JACK: Probably the same way he got out of the clothes in which he was killed, and dressed himself in a suit four sizes too big for him...  

CONDUCTOR:    Did WHAT...What's this nonsense you're talking about?

MICHAEL:    Yes Monsieur the conductor, that is what happen...Either the corpse has been on a strenuous diet, or else he is wearing somebody else's paraphernalia.

MUSIC (Organ, "Valse Triste")

 

Episode 3: Wednesday June 7th, 1944

SOUND:  (Clock Strikes 1)

ANNCR: One o'clock in the morning on the overnight - streamliner commuters train, The Lark,  San Francisco enroute to Los Angeles. 

SOUND (TRAIN FADES UP BEHIND ANNOUNCER...ELECTRIC WHISTLE...CLANG OF ELECTRIC BELL...CLICK OF RAILS WHICH FADES OUT BEHIND AND ORGAN FADES IN)

ANNCR:    It was ten o'clock when  Jack Packard discovered Michael on board the train. At 10:15 Jack discovered a corpse. At 10:30 Jack took 17 year old Judy French  to bedroom G and told her to lock her door, and it was almost midnight when Jack and Michael (with the consent of the conductor) finished examining compartment C and the battered body it contained. By that time the girl who was supposed to have occupied the space and who had discovered the corpse, had recovered her wits sufficiently to talk.

PARMA: I am a Viennese actress. My name is Parma Hoffman. I am married to Lt. Fred Steele now in the European theatre of war. I came to Hollywood to be a cinema personality. When I came aboard the train this evening I went directly to the lounge car.  Although the train pulled out of San Francisco at nine o'clock, I did not go near my compartment until after ten.  I eat a chicken sandwich and drink a glass of champagne; then I am ready to retire. But when I  open my compartment ...Oooh, monsieur. 

Now at one  in the morning, Jack and Michael are trying to reason things out. They repeat two astonishing facts about the corpse:  

First, the corpse was killed by being run over by an automobile.  Secondly, he was wearing clothes far too big to have been his own!  

A small bedroom is found for Mrs. Steele, nee Parma Hoffman.  Haughtily, she took herself to it, upset that her ticket called for a compartment, while the only one available is filled with the dead man.  

Jack reminds her to lock her door and not to leave her room, for her own protection. 

Along now, Jack and Michael try to thrash it out.  Is Parma Hoffman the innocent she pretends to be?   Another possible suspects is a man from Compartment A. A man who is urgently interested in the events of this evening; both the corpse and the girl, if the porter is correct.

JACK: Was the corpse put in Compartment C because it happened to be handy or because the space had been bought by the Hoffman girl?

MICHAEL: It is the latter.

JACK: You think Parma Hoffman isn't an innocent party?

MICHAEL:  She is not an innocent party. Period. She is on the make for a career in Hollywood, on the make for important people, and on the make for money.

Jack and Michael head over to Compartment A, where a Mr. Joe Sawyer is the sole inhabitant.  After a bit of duplicity on Jack's part, impersonating the conductor, they eventually make their way inside and meet Joe Sawyer. 

A sullen interview ensues from a very uncooperative Mr. Sawyer...  

JACK: What is your occupation.

SAWYER: A Hollywood agent.  

JACK (grunts): Flesh peddler...

SAWYER (ANGRY) If you want to be vulgar about it...

MICHAEL: Please?  What is this?

JACK:: A flesh peddler is the trade name for Hollywood agents who represent actors, musicians and the rest...

Jack continues his questioning.  Why is Sawyer not dressed for bed?  And did he, by some strange coincidence, represent Parma Hoffman?

SAWYER: Who's Parma Hoffman.

JACK: You don't know her?

SAWYER:  No.

Sawyer claims he knows nothing about what is going on.  He says he can't sleep on trains, and that's why he isn't dressed to sleep.  Jack drops his line of questions to Sawyer's visible relief,  but Jack is still suspicious. 

He and Michael leave Sawyer's compartment, and Jack tells Michael to stand watch. Jack goes on ahead with a search of the train with the help of the porter.  A stack of luggage has been piled up for inspection by the Porter. Jack notices a very large trunk, labeled sample case, and asks the porter about it. 

PORTER: Yes suh...belongs to a gent in Compartment A. Gent must have it loaded down with a couple of blacksmith anvils.

JACK: Extra heavy huh. 

PORTER: It took three men to carry it...We didn't mind because he tip us well. 

Jack wants to inspect the sample case but when the two lift on the case it is *not* heavy.  

PORTER: What does it mean suh? 

JACK: It means...I know how that corpse got in Compartment C. 

Michael who has been on stake out, suddenly approaches and interrupts.  He  informs Jack that he has just seen Parma leave her room!

JACK:    She's left her bedroom?

MICHAEL:  Oui...In the mos' beautiful negligee I have ever seen...And Monsieur, I have seen some gorgeous negligees---

JACK:    Forget the negligee...

MICHAEL: (HURT) Forget the negligee?

JACK: Michael where did Parma Hoffman go? 

MICHAEL:  To the Compartment A. 

JACK: Good. That's my meat. Come on. 

MICHAEL: (Agrees) A beautiful girl in a beautiful negligee. Yes, that is my meat also.

MUSIC (Organ, "Valse Triste")

 

Episode 4: Thursday June 8th 1944

SOUND:  (Clock Strikes 2) 

ANNCR: 1 AM on the overnight - streamliner commuters train, The Lark,  San Francisco enroute to Los Angeles. Compartment C was a strange place to find a corpse of a hit and run accident...afterwards his clothes had been removed and other clothes, four sizes too big, substituted. Then there's the matter with the man in compartment A, Joe Sawyer, Hollywood flesh peddler! Jack and Michael have had their eye on him because of his inordinate curiosity in the Corpse in Compartment C, and in Parma Hoffman, actress in bedroom H. But it was when Hoffman, en negligee, slipped from Bedroom H to Compartment A, that Jack and Michael closed in.

JACK: (GUARDED) You're sure you saw Miss Hoffman go into Sawyer's compartment?

Michael's sure (how could he forget her negligee?), and together they head on over to Compartment A: Joe Sawyer:  

A strong rap of the door is unanswered.  Jabbing the door buzzer violently, however, does bring results.  

Sawyer, furious, answers the door.  He denies that Parma Hoffman is inside, but after a stern threat from Jack to bring over the conductor, Sawyer relents, and lets them inside.  Parma is hidden behind the door, angry at being caught red handed together with Sawyer.

PARMA: (dignity) There is no such thing as gallantry in America, that is apparent...

Jack tells her to cut out that kind of talk.  Under questioning, Sawyer finally admits that he is Parma Hoffman's business manager.

JACK: The last time I talked to you, less than an hour ago you denied even knowing Parma Hoffman. 

SAWYER: (Shrugs) I was trying to keep out of this mess.  

Joe Sawyer tries to reach into his pocket, and Michael grabs him.  Only a cigarette case, but Jack tells Michael to frisk him, just in case. Jack tells them why he is here, about the mysterious sample case that was first heavy, and then suddenly light.  Both Parma and Sawyer feign ignorance.

JACK: Don't be simple...the corpse was in the case...you and Sawyer here unpacked him and left him in Compartment C. 

PARMA: No, I never saw it before.  

MICHAEL: Oui, Jack, grant her that. When she fainted it was authentic.

Sawyer begins to get rattled from all this questioning, demands to see his lawyer. 

JACK: Is your lawyer on board this train? 

SAWYER:  No, of course not...He's in Hollywood. 

Jack tells him that it'll be morning before Sawyer can talk to his lawyer.  And that the longer Sawyer clams up the guiltier he is going to appear.  Perhaps if there was too much of a delay, enough circumstantial evidence could be found by Jack and Michael...

Sawyer breaks down.

SAWYER:  No...No listen to me...I didn't kill anyone! 

JACK: That's an awful dead corpse in Compartment C. 

SAWYER: All I did was steal the body from the morgue. 

JACK: Did what? 

SAWYER:  Wait...steal isn't the right word. I...I...had some friends get it for me. 

JACK: You paid two men to get the body. Did you dress it in those over-sized clothes? 

SAWYER:  They were the only things I could find. He didn't have a stitch on him when they brought him to my room in San Francisco. 

Sawyer claims it was just a publicity stunt to launch Parma Hoffman into the American newspapers and stardom. Sawyer even had the perfect headline for the papers  "Beauty and the Corpse".   

Parma breaks down sobbing, crying out that her career is ruined, that she will be forever saddled with this grisly nickname.

The porter arrives at that moment to break the tension with an arrest telegram. 

JACK: It's an arrest telegram?  You mean the police want Joe Sawyer put under arrest?

PORTER: No suh, they don't want HIM. They want that woman. 

JACK: Parma Hoffman?

PORTER: Yes suh...Miss Hoffman...That who THEY WANT. 

MUSIC (Organ, "Valse Triste")

 

Episode 5: Friday June 9th 1944

SOUND:  (Clock Strikes 6)

ANNCR: Six o'clock in the morning on the overnight - streamliner commuters  train, The Lark,  San Francisco enroute to Los Angeles. 

SOUND (TRAIN UP...ELECTRIC WHISTLE...RAIL FADE FOR ORGAN)

The case of the corpse of a hit-run driver found in the compartment reserved by a beautiful Viennese actress, Parma Hoffman, is solved. It was a publicity stunt conceived and carried out by Joe Sawyer, Hollywood flesh peddler!  It was just as Michael told Judy over an early breakfast in the dining car, as the brown rolling hills studded with live oak swam by the windows and now and again flashes of the Pacific came into view and receded with tantalizing suddenness.

SOUND (TRAIN WHEELS...DISHES)  

JUDY: And all the time it was this Sawyer who done everything?  

MICHAEL: Yes. These Hollywood flesh peddlers are the ones....Got the body of an unidentified hit and run victim out of the morgue in San Francisco. Dressed him in the first clothes he could get his hands on and brought him on the train in a traveling salesman's sample case...

Michael does a little flirting with young Judy, but suddenly realizes her age (and Jack's wishes for him to back off), and stops.  He instead informs Judy that Parma Hoffman is being held for the police for another matter....  

The scene cuts to Parma Hoffman's bedroom, with Jack Packard in attendance.  Jack had been busy all night, reading a flurry of telegrams about the young actress.  Jack tells Parma that she has been under guard all night, and that the police in Los Angeles are waiting for her.  She starts to rail against Joe Sawyer, when Jack interrupts, telling her that the police want her for questioning regarding another matter entirely.

PARMA: But that is not  possible...I have done nothing--- 

JACK: You don't need to protest your innocence... (after reading arrest telegram) You were in Hollywood in 1939 as an extra under the name of Lorraine Arnsberg. You left Hollywood in 1939 to return to your native Germany.  

As Jack relates what he has learned, the buzzer rings, and Michael enters.  Jack tells him that Parma Hoffman had been a Hollywood extra girl in 1939 under the name of Lorraine Arnsberg, but left to return to her native Germany.  Parma angrily interrupts: 

PARMA: My native Vienna. 

MICHAEL: Fraulein please, You are not Viennese. 

PARMA: You call me a liar. 

MICHAEL: I never call a beautiful woman anything so distasteful. Fraulein, but I have known from first moment I hear you speak that you are not TRUE Viennese. German yes. Viennese no. 

The police want Parma because she has been named as dangerous to the European underground fighting Nazi Germany. Yes, Parma is a good Nazi her loyalties firmly with Hitler! 

Jack and Michael grab Parma Hoffman, and  head over to Compartment A, to see what Joe Sawyer's true connection is with Hoffman.  They learn that Sawyer got $1000 and 15% (10% being the normal cut) for helping Parma establish her identity in America; however, he claims he is a loyal American and knew nothing of Parma's true purpose in hiring him.   

JACK: You didn't have any idea she was building herself up here a Hollywood personality to cover up her real identity

SAWYER:  No, of course not...Heey, what do you mean?...I'm a good loyal American citizen...If I'd any idea--

JACK: (bored) Save it for the police.   

SAWYER: You mean I'm tied up with this double-crossing--

JACK: You're part of the package we're delivering to the police at Glendale... 

SOUND:  (Clock Strikes 8)

The train arrives at Glendale. Sawyer and Para Hoffman are turned over to the authorities without incident. 

JUDY: Oh look, there's my Uncle (leaving mike) Hi Uncle Fred...Hi Uncle, it's me, Judy...

JACK: (Amused) Well, I see that Uncle Fred's here to take Judy off my hands...

As Judy runs over to her uncle, Michael motions Jack over to a long black Packard sedan, with both a beautiful woman in the back seat, next too a fantastic looking old woman.  Jack wonders if these are his new clients, and Michael says they are.

JUDY: (Coming to mike) (Breathless) Heey you fellows... You can't get away without meeting my Uncle...Uncle Fred, this is Jack Packard...

FRED: Glad to meet you, Packard.

JACK: Same to you sir.

JUDY: (breathless) And this is Michael...Michael, my uncle.

MICHAEL: Sooo?....You have a very beautiful Niece, Uncle Fred...

FRED (Stiff): Thank you...well, come along Judy, the car's waiting...

JUDY: Okay...(leaving mike) Don't forget, you promised to write...good bye...

JACK: (up) Bye, Judy...

MICHAEL: Yes...Judy is beautiful...but now we turn our attention to the young widow and to the grandmother who is a kleptomaniac...and to the THING that creeps through the house at night.

JACK: (Amused) Shall we go over and meet our new clients?

MICHAEL: Yes, but keep your mouth closed or Grandma will have your eye teeth.

MUSIC (Organ, "Valse Triste")


This story, the shortest of all the ILAMs,  bridges the events between the stories YOU CANíT PIN A MURDER ON NEVADA and THE THING WOULDN'T DIE

Many thanks to James Herman for this Grade A synopsis of the script for yet another "lost" Carlton E. Morse adventure!

::Brian::