TAKE THE WORDS FROM
"YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE"
USE THEM TO TELL A DIFFERENT KIND OF STORY.
THEN, BLEND IN “THIS IS MY SONG” FOR EMPHASIS
The underlying story for this song may
be too deep to stand-alone…
You have to see this song… to hear it.
This manuscript/script is a musical, a sad song
and a happy song. A song of love, a duet and a music video, a story of
All blended into a story about life and its continuum
staged during World War II.
Terry L Wilcox
Is the story of two young lovers, Al a 21-year-old
Navy F4F Wildcat Fighter Pilot, and Betty, a 19-year-old factory worker.
Al is about to leave Portland, OR for sea
duty aboard the Aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown. It is Spring 1942.
Betty has just started a new factory job
in Portland, Oregon.
Al and Betty have decided to wait till he
returns from sea duty, to get married (Al
proposes later in the production). This gives
them a chance to save some money, have a nice
wedding and a better start on life.
Betty has decided not to tell Al of her
pregnancy, fearing he would be distracted with worry and concern for her
As the words in the song “You
Light Up My Life” suggest.
Betty has been waiting by her window
(of her apartment) for
someone to sing her his song (“This Is My
Betty has been alone in the dark (she
is looking at flashbacks/ memories of her love affair with Al),
and now Al has come along.
The setup for the opening scene:
Al is in the courtyard (standing
in the moonlight, on the grass, looking up to the third floor, at Betty’s
(after having tossed some pebbles at Betty’s window, to get her attention).
Betty, comes to the window, stands in the
dark (except for one small light behind her).
Al, standing on the grass in the courtyard,
is wearing a WWII Navy Pilot’s uniform, his shore bag at his feet. Betty
is wearing a nightgown with matching housecoat.
The song Al sings to Betty is;
Written by Chaplin (this version as sung by The
Ray Conniff Singers)
While Al is singing his song, Betty sees
flashbacks of a love affair flash on the screen, complementing the verses
of his song.
The opening scene:
In this flashback Al is in his Navy pilot’s
uniform, outside the building, on the grass, in the courtyard, he has just
tossed some pebbles to tap against Betty’s bedroom window in an attempt
to get her attention.
AL is looking up to the third floor of the apartment
building to Betty’s bedroom window. When Betty looks out Al begins to sing
to her. (yes… I know this has already been
“Love… This is my Song”
"Here is a song, a serenade to you."
We get another short flashback of Al and
Betty’s courtship, they are running through a field of spring wild flowers
halfway up Mt Hood, OR. Al catches Betty and gives her a big kiss (It
is Spring 1941).
"The world can not be wrong"
This short flashback is of Al in a Tux and tails
and Betty in a beautiful evening gown on a ball room floor, dancing a waltz
"When in this world there's you"
Again a short flashback, Al is gently pushing
Betty on a rope swing hanging from a large Oak tree, in the country, in
a field of tall summer grasses which are blowing in the wind
"I care not what the world may say"
In this flashback Betty and Al are in a malt shop
sharing a large chocolate shake. One shake two straws (Mid summer 1941).
"Without your love there is no day."
This flash back is a beautiful Fall day In the
Portland city park; the leaves have begun to change and are falling. Betty
is sitting on a park bench, Al is kneeling in front of her opening a ring
box, kneeling on one knee, asking for her hand in marriage (she
agrees, but… only after he returns from sea duty, Betty agrees to an engagement.
Now fall 1941).
"So Love, This is my song"
In this flashback, Al (in
his Navy Dress Uniform) is in the courtyard
waving good-bye, throws Betty a kiss (she is looking out her bedroom window,
waving, holding back the tears, knowing he is going off to war).
As Al sings the above line the camera pans
back into Betty’s room, her flashbacks end and Al fades away.
Betty begins to sing her song,
"So many nights,
I sit by my window"
As the camera is panning back in the previous
flashback it begins to follow Betty; Betty slowly turns away from the window,
walks towards a small writing desk against the far wall (now
in present time, June 6th 1942).
"Waiting for someone, to sing me his song"
Cut/ Change Scene: Betty reaches out and
touches a picture of Al that is on top of the roll top desk, envisions
him singing to her and sings this next verse with real feeling.
"So many dreams, I can't keep inside me"
She picks up the picture of AL, places the
photograph against her stomach (photograph
facing her baby, now in the 7th month), crosses
her arms, hands to the sides of her stomach as if to hug Al and the baby.
"Alone in the dark, but now you've come along"
Betty looks down to her baby then around
the dimly lit room, which begins to lighten as
she fully experiences the love in her heart.
"And you light up my Life."
Betty holds the picture of Al out at full
arms length, smiling, knowing that Al will never be far from her
since she is carrying his child.
"You give me hope,"
Cut/Change scene The door bell rings, Betty
hurries to and opens the front door (with
her left hand; the
door swings open from right to left, the camera,
just to Betty’s right and to the rear, so that it can show
two Sailors, the M.I.A. file folder they are
carrying and Betty in a single shot).
Startled, Betty jumps back slightly when
she sees the Sailors (one lieutenant one gunners
mate) in dress uniform
(The lieutenant is holding a file with the letters
M.I.A. clearly marked and in full view).
The sailors are giving Betty notice, that Al is
Missing In Action.
Al's ship has been hit and reported sunk. Betty,
seeing a vision of the USS Yorktown burning and sinking, and a burning
Wildcat (a fighter
plane from the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, which Al pilots)
spinning into the ocean, she (Betty) melts… weeping into the Lieutenants
arms. (Directors note* In this segment
Betty has all of one second to convey three things (1) Sadness ‘her man
is lost a t sea’ (2) Fear ‘He may not come back/all of the quality men
are gone’ (3) Anger ‘She may have to raise her baby alone, not an easy
task in those days)’
Disillusioned; Betty’s attention turns to all
she has left of her love (the baby).
She ends with;
"And fill my nights
Cut/Change Scene/time 10 to 16 days later.
The next scene is of Al, lying in a bright yellow life raft (from
The waters of the North Pacific are at a light
Two enlisted sailors from the USS Yorktown
found nearly drowning in the Pacific Ocean)
are also in the raft, all three
(Al and the other two sailors) are
badly weathered, and exposed skin is blistered and burned from the sun,
wind and salt.
Their bodies dehydrated, faces unshaven, drawn
and tight from lack of food and potable water, uniforms are torn, stained
with blood and ragged from battle.
Al and the two other enlisted sailors (the
two enlisted sailors are asleep) in the raft are now in sight of a Navy
seaplane tender (destroyer)
USS Ballard (AVD-10).
The USS Ballard was in the right area at
the right time, but no historical information can be found about it picking
survivors (it did
however pick up 35 survivors from the Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryu ten
days after being attacked and sank by planes from the USS Yorktown and
the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise on the 4th of June 1942).
This information at least puts the USS Ballard
in the right theatre of operations at the right time.
Al is excited, having just sighted the ship,
and is waking up the others.
Al sings the next verse of
"You light up my life," beginning with;
"Rolling at sea, adrift on the water,
Could it be finally I'm
Turning for home?”
As the song progresses through to the line
“And you light up my life, you give me hope”, we see flashes, a series
shots, and a succession of sporadic views of the
three men in the raft. First just bobbing in the vast waters of the North
then Al spotting the rescue ship, the small rescue
craft, and finally being rescued. Thus adding to the distorted feeling
and hopelessness of these sailor’s past week
(it took a week to 17 days to find and rescue some of the survivors of
of Midway). Finally
these young sailors are taken to and aboard The USS Ballard for medical
attention. Al continues singing as we work through this series
of sporadic views.
"Finally a chance,
To say, hey I love you.
Never again, to be all alone."
Cut/blend to a split screen as Al (in
the Navy ship’s hospital) and Betty (in
her apartment) sing this next line, as a duo.
"And you light up my life, you give me hope"
Al begins to fade out (both
finish singing the line); Betty finishes singing
the above line, till she alone is on screen,
"To carry on, you light up my day"
Fadeout and In/Changing to a new scene/time (now
It’s a wonderful fall day, the sun is shinning,
some clouds and a gentle wind. Betty is sitting at her roll top desk, in
the bedroom of her small apartment, writing a letter to her mother.
"And fill my life with song”
Same scene. Betty hears a tapping against her
(The camera pans
back as Betty gets up from her desk) She hurries
to the window (because that is Al’s signature…
and in her
heart she never really believed he was gone),
looks out to the courtyard (three floors below[The
camera follows Betty to the window to show what she sees]).
Betty sees her man… his leg in a cast
(Al’s leg had been broken in the crash of his plane and not attended to,
till seen by a doctor aboard the USS Ballard, there was nothing in the
raft with which to splint his leg) and a bandage
on his head,
Betty jumps, flashes an ecstatic smile,
excitedly flings herself away from the window, [the
camera pans back to show Betty’s activity and then follows her into the
hallway] runs halfway across the bedroom,
stops…runs back to the window, to see if it’s really true.
Betty then runs back across her bedroom, through
her bedroom door (which is open),
down the hallway (the hallway door opens to
the stairwell), and towards the hallway/stairwell
door. All this, while singing the next line,
tears of joy in her eyes, smile on her face and
a lot more emphasis on the words;
"And You Light Up My Life!"
Cut/Change scene to outside in front of
Al who steps back as he sees Betty leave her window then reappear and leave
again. Al begins to finish the song he started to sing to Betty so many
months before. Al sings;
"So Love, This is my song."
Cut/Change scene to inside the stairwell across
the hallway just above Betty’s appartrment; to show Betty hurriedly flinging
her hallway door open (Betty grinning
ear to ear, excitedly sings in between Al’s lines).
After flinging open the door, Betty enters
the stairwell and begins running down the long flights of stairs, a really
big smile on her face, excitement in her heart and tears of joy in her
"You give me hope to carry on"
Cut/Change scene to outside in the courtyard from
behind Al @ his left side.
Al (we know
men don’t cry… but there is a tear of joy there in the corner of his eye
sees that she is running down the stairs.
He starts limping towards the staircase while
dragging his shore bag,
"Here is a song a serenade to you"
Cut/Change scene to inside the stairwell,
the camera looking up the stairs to see Betty holding on to her stomach,
running down the stairs towards the camera (which
moves down the stairs as she approaches),
Betty sometimes jumping two steps at a time.
Betty pauses at the landing for a split
second (to look out the window of the stairwell…
to make sure Al is still there, she’s not dreaming)
then continues running and singing.
"You light up my day and fill my life with song"
Cut/Change scene to the outside in front of Al.
Al looks up to the stairwell windows, watch’s Betty hurrying down the stairs.
Al is still singing his song, dragging his bag, and limping towards the
"I care not what the world may say,"
Cut/Change scene to just behind Betty as
she bursts against the outside stairwell door. As Betty flings open
the door to the stairwell she knocks Al down onto his bag.
Cut/Change scene to outside in front of the building
to Al’s right. As they fall together onto Al’s shore bag and kiss a big
A sudden shower pours down on Al and Betty;
they break for a second - shrug and could care less.
"It can't be wrong when it feels so right"
Cut/ change angle (Two
Still lying on Al and his bag, Betty gets
a big kick from the baby (the baby feels her
love and joy); the brick on the building begins
to look new again.
Betty’s water breaks (because
of the excitement of the moment, the jolting of Betty’s running down the
stairs and Betty’s falling onto Al, she is still lying on Al and his bag
when the water breaks), the dead roses spring
back to life and in full bloom.
The poorly kept; overgrown courtyard now
has a well-groomed rich green look.
"With out your love there is no day."
As a duet, Al and Betty sing the last lines of
"Cause you--you light
up my life"
The scene cuts to a hospital room, hear the slap
on a baby’s behind, and then a baby’s wailing.
"And this is our song"
This is dedicated to my Mom and Dad
Alva (Al) and Betty Wilcox
Married over 50 years
Sadly, both are now deceased.
May they both reap all the rewards of
© Terry Wilcox 1995-2001