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The Girl in the Gilded Cage

 

Week #3 of 3.

 


The original script is by Carlton E. Morse, copyright 1986/1992 with excerpts from the original

The synopsis is written by Harold M. Hart, original material copyright 2000.


Episode 11  (Thursday September 13th, 1951) 

SOUND:  (Clock strikes Four.) 

ANNOUNCER:  With hands cuffed behind them, Jack and Doc are herded through an underground passage, paved with stone and with a high, arched ceiling, far beneath the earth level of Chinatown. 

Wong declares he will gladly execute any man who is a traitor to China, like Jack and Doc. 

DOC:  You’ve got a heck of a nerve to call me and Jack traitors after what we been through. 

Wong tells them they will soon come before “...the one who will pass judgment.” 

As they move through the long passageway, Jack and Doc conclude that Wong is definitely against the gunmen who have been fighting the two detectives all the way from Los Angeles, and that Lee Ming is in safe hands. 

But they can’t figure out why Wong and his men are treating Jack and Doc like their enemy.

And they’re puzzled as to why they grabbed Lee Ming away instead of letting Jack and Doc deliver her to her home on Tay Alley, as they were supposed to. 

After the lengthy walk through the passage, Wong announces that they have now arrived at Number Two, Tay Alley.  They all enter a room that looks like an oriental palace.  They are led to an ante-room, where the door is locked behind them.  There, they encounter “the one who will judge.” The man is dressed ornately in rich Chinese garb. 

Doc explains to the man what the two have gone through to deliver Lee Ming here. The man tells them that she is completely safe and unharmed.   But he angrily accuses Jack and Doc of having been in direct contact and negotiating with the “...foul vermin” who have been trying to kill Lee Ming --- who is his daughter. 

Lee, the father, then asks a strange question:  "What about the Girl in the Gilded Cage?" 

When Jack and Doc protest their ignorance --- that the instructions in the hat-band of the dead undercover agent stated that Lee Ming herself IS the Girl in the Gilded Cage --- Lee goes into a rage, calling the two men liars and thieves.  He orders that they be taken to the Teak Room. 

LEE  (screaming to his henchmen):  Get them out of my sight!  Hold these men for execution! 

MUSIC: (Organ, “Valse Triste”) 

 

EPISODE  12  (September 14, 1951)

SOUND:  (Clock strikes Five) 

ANNOUNCER:  Five o’clock in the watery, grey-streaked dawn, locked in the Teak Room at Number Two, Tay Alley, in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  It is now evident that Jack and Doc have brought Lee Taw Ming, the Chinese girl, safely through the death and destruction which had been prepared for her on her flight from Manchuria to her home in San Francisco.  The gangster killers who would have destroyed her have lost their fight.  There should be great rejoicing at Number Two, Tay Alley, but there is not!  There is great anger.  Jack and Doc are prisoners in the Teak Room.  The girl’s Chinese father has accused the boys of being traitors and selling out to the enemy.  They don’t know what he’s talking about.  The only clue is….they apparently were supposed to have brought along a second girl --- a girl in a gilded cage.  Jack and Doc thought Lee Ming was that girl.  But Lee, the girl’s father, says the fate of his people is at stake.  The handcuffs have been removed, and hot baths and clean clothes have been given the two…. 

DOC:  ‘Cept for bein’ locked up tighter’n a drum, Jack, we’re being treated more like honored guests than prisoners…..you know that, son? 

JACK:  We’re prisoners, all right.  Just don’t get any mistaken ideas into your head.

The duo doesn’t see any way to get out of their predicament.  Jack says the only reason they were given new garments is because Lee wants to go over every scrap of their own clothes with a fine-tooth comb. 

JACK:  All I can figure out is that Lee Ming was supposed to bring something back with her from Manchuria and she’s arrived without it…..and that something has some connection with a girl in a gilded cage.  

DOC:  But why is Lee Ming’s father so angry with us? 

JACK:  I think he’s afraid the enemy may have got to us and that we gave them whatever it was that Lee Ming was bringing with her.                                                

The door opens.  Lee enters with Lee Ming and a man who is introduced as John Taylor.  Jack and Doc recognize his voice as that of the government man in Los Angeles who gave them their instructions by telephone before they went to the freight yards to pick up the girl.  Taylor is obviously ignorant of what is now happening. 

LEE:  Mr. Taylor, when my daughter arrived, she was supposed to have something of inestimable importance in her possession which could be identified by the words, “The Girl in the Gilded Cage.” She does not possess such an article. 

Taylor urges Lee Ming to think again, as she must have the key to this mystery.  Jack and Doc suddenly remember something, and ask for Doc’s old clothes.  Lee says they found nothing in their garments. 

DOC:  You mean, I LOST it?  I lost the locket and chain that was shot off Lee Ming at the waterfront saloon in Oakland! 

MUSIC:  (Organ, “Valse Triste.”)

 

EPISODE  13  (September 17, 1951) 

SOUND: (Clock strikes Six)

Jack, Doc, and undercover agent John Taylor are speeding through the North Beach area of San Francisco searching for the missing locket and chain.  They decide to head first for the all-night café.  As they enter, they encounter the waitress, who is vehemently angry about the food Doc ate and the broken windows.

She is irate that they made a fool of her by having her hide when no gunmen were actually there.  When Jack and Doc look puzzled by that statement, the waitress says that after Jack, Doc, and Lee Ming had left, a group of customers from the waterfront arrived at the café.  She identifies the leader of the group as Duke Parker.  Under questioning, she admits that she is well acquainted with Parker and knows he lives at the Beach Hotel.

All of a sudden, Doc notices the waitress is wearing the missing necklace.  She refuses to give it up, until Taylor threatens to arrest her for theft.  Jack examines the piece closely, noting that it is not a very expensive chain and locket.  Bringing out a small pen knife, he begins to scrape off the outer coating of enamel.  He finds only a metal shell.  Meanwhile, Taylor phones Lee and learns that his daughter Lee Ming, thinking she is out of danger now, has slipped away to visit a friend, but was grabbed on the way by enemy agents.

Jack suggests they question Duke Parker at the Beach Hotel, where Lee Ming may have been taken.

Arriving at the hotel, Taylor goes in the front door, while Jack and Doc go around to the back.  They enter the rear door quietly and climb the stairs.  They hear a girl sobbing in one of the rooms.  Doc immediately starts to kick down the door. 

JACK (shouting):  Doc, don’t do that! 

MUSIC:  (Organ, “Valse Triste”)

 

EPISODE  14  (September 18, 1951)

Responding to the sobs of a girl in one of the hotel rooms, Doc is ready to crash into the room when Jack stops him by saying that it isn’t Lee Ming crying.  Doc persists, saying he doesn’t care…that he can’t stand idly by while ANY woman is sobbing. 

Before Jack can stop him, Doc smashes down the door and is confronted by an extremely unpleasant tough guy and his girl friend.  The two men get into a loud argument, culminating in the tough pulling out a pistol and taking a shot at Doc.  The girl screams, “Duke, don’t kill him!”

Jack calms Doc and Duke’s anger.  He questions Duke about the Chinese girl and warns him that he’d better come across with the whole story, as well as the girl’s location.  Duke refuses to “squeal.”  The argument begins again and ends in an exchange of gun shots.

Duke is killed instantly, and his girl friend is mortally wounded by one of Duke’s stray bullets.  Before she dies, the girl tells Jack that the entire gang is on the sixth floor of the hotel, with the Chinese girl.  

The boys race up the stairs to the sixth floor, where they see two goons tying up Taylor in one of the rooms.  Jack and Doc overpower the two, but are stopped cold by a voice behind them in the doorway:

VOICE:  “If either one of you men move a muscle, I’ll shoot you in the back of the head!”

DOC:  Who said that?

VOICE:  I did.  Put up your hands.  Do it!  Now!

MUSIC:   (Organ,“Valse Triste”)

EPISODE  15  (September 19, 1951) 

SOUND:  (Clock strikes Seven)

Max, their old nemesis from the hay wagon killing, has both Jack and Doc covered with a gun.

The boys keep him busy in conversation until the right moment when they are able to overpower and knock Max out.  Jack unties Taylor, who tells him the Lee Ming is in Room 632.  The three men run to the door of that room, and Doc gets set to knock it down, when Jack finds the room key on the floor in front of the door.

DOC:  You would find a key!  Next to rescuin’ purty females, they ain’t nothin’ I like as well as bustin’ in a bedroom door.

They enter and see Lee Ming trussed up and gagged on the bed.  Her eyes reveal her joy at seeing her rescuers, but she shakes her head slightly.  Someone is hiding in the room.  Taylor spots a man’s reflection in the mirror, and whispers to Jack and Doc that he’s hiding behind the bathroom door.

Without hesitating, Doc rushes in and crushes the man between the door and the wall.  Taylor unties Lee Ming.

SOUND:  (Clock strikes 8)

Lee thanks Jack, Doc, and Taylor for returning his daughter safely.  But, still, no one seems to know the secret of the girl in the gilded cage.  At the mention of the words “gilded cage,” Lee Ming recalls that when she was very little, the woman who was her nurse and who was raised in China used to tell her Chinese fairy tales.  On of these stories was called, “The Girl in the Gilded Cage.” 

TAYLOR:  What? 

DOC:  Hey, honey…. 

JACK:  Why wouldn’t you have known of such a story, Mr. Lee? 

LEE:  I was born and raised here in the United States, and was not so fortunate as to have a nurse from Mother China.

Lee Ming tells the story:  Long ago a Chinese Emperor adored his lovely little Empress so much that he wanted to find a way to express his love.  The Empress had only one minor imperfection --- one of her tiny fingernails was crooked.  So the Emperor had artisans make beautiful false fingernails of ivory, six inches long, and gilded with pure gold.  She was the first Chinese lady to wear false fingernails and she became famous all over the land.  But she was a very modest Empress and whenever a stranger spoke to her, she would put her hands to her face.  It was just as though she were looking through the gilded bars of a cage.  She became known all over China as The Girl in the Gilded Cage. 

JACK:  Lee Ming, may I see your hands?  I see….you’re wearing false fingernails, aren’t you? 

LEE MING:  Yes, but they are very short….not like the Empress would wear….and they are very cheap. Little metal ones, covered with red lacquer.   My uncle gave them to me….my uncle in Manchuria…. 

JACK:  It’s got to be….under the red lacquer you’ll probably find your message engraved on the metal fingernails.

Taylor examines Lee Ming’s fingernails, and on the metal beneath the lacquer, discovers Chinese writing. 

DOC:  Mr. Lee, you wouldn’t like to tell us what the heck this message is all about, would you? 

LEE:  You men have proved trustworthy….and I have much regret that at one time I suspected you. I do not mind telling you.  Some time ago a great shipment of precious treasures was sent out of Manchuria by the underground.  We in America have never known what became of this cargo of great value and our relatives in Manchuria were not able to inform us.  The message which my daughter was bringing back was that information…. 

JACK: …and international thieves were trying to get hold of the treasure for themselves…. 

LEE:  Yes, but that treasure must go to the United States to help China.  Gentlemen, our gratitude for your service is unbounded!  We shall see that you,  Mr. Packard, and you,  Mr. Long, are properly remembered. 

TAYLOR:  Hey, I forgot something.  I’ve been carrying this letter for you two men around in my pocket all day….it came to our San Francisco office. 

DOC:  Hey, that’s from our little old Jerry Booker!  What’s it say, Jack? 

JACK:  Here, you want to read it? 

DOC:  It says:  “Dear Jack and Doc:  Come a-running!  Old Jasper Potter, worth his weight in thousand dollar bills, has called up three times in two days.  He keeps talking about ‘blood on the cat,’ whatever that means.  It smells like a small fortune, so get home to Mama, quick!  Love and stuff from your lonesome secretary, Jerry Booker.” 

JACK:  What’s that mean:  “Blood on the cat”? 

DOC:  Well, here we go agin!  A rich old dodo and…blood on the cat! 

MUSIC:  (Organ, “Valse Triste”)


So ends the final episode from the final week of this "lost" ILAM classic.

I'd like to publicaly thank Harold Hart for his fantastic work reviewing Carlton E. Morse's scripts at the U.S. Library of Congress, and then for providing us this very detailed synopsis of this lost ILAM.