Nick Smith: It's a tiny bit arrogant of people to go around worrying about those less fortunate.
Nick Smith: Rick Von Slonecker is tall, rich, good looking, stupid, dishonest, conceited, a bully, liar, drunk and thief, an egomaniac, and probably psychotic. In short, highly attractive to women.
Man at Bar: The acid test is whether you take any pleasure in responding to the question "What do you do?" I can't bear it.
Nick Smith: The most important thing to realize about parents is that there is absolutely nothing you can do about them.
Nick Smith: Playing strip poker with an exhibitionist somehow takes the challenge away.
Audrey Rouget: [after Tom disappears with Serena] Tom's not used to places like this. Maybe he went through one of those stairway doors that lock from the inside.
Nick Smith: He can't get locked in. I used to have to use those doors when people forgot to invite me to their parties.
Tom Townsend: You don't have to have read a book to have an opinion on it.
Charlie Black: Of course there is a God. We all basically know there is.
Cynthia McLean: I know no such thing.
Charlie Black: Of course you do. When you think to yourself, and most of our waking life is taken up thinking to ourselves, you must have that feeling that your thoughts aren't entirely wasted, that in some sense they are being heard. Rationally, they aren't. You're entirely alone. Even the people to whom we are closest can have no real idea of what is going on in our minds. We aren't devastated by loneliness because, at a hardly conscious level, we don't accept that we're entirely alone. I think this sensation of being silently listned to with total comprehension... something you never find in real life... represents our innate belife in a supreme being, some all-comprehending intelligence.
Nick Smith: But, unlike you, I've always assumed I'd be a failure anyway. That's why I plan to marry an extremely rich woman.
Charlie Black: That's interesting, because actually there's very little social snobbery in the United States. I mean, it's considered unacceptable. There's... there's almost a national taboo against it. It's looked down upon.
Cynthia McLean: That's good, isn't it?
Charlie Black: Well, I'm not talking about what's good or bad. I'm just making an observation of fact.
Sally Fowler: Well, I think it IS good. I can't stand snobbery or snobbish attitudes of any kind.
Charlie Black: Fourierism was tried in the late nineteenth century... and it failed. Wasn't Brook Farm Fourierist? It failed.
Tom Townsend: That's debatable.
Charlie Black: Whether Brook Farm failed?
Tom Townsend: That it ceased to exist, I'll grant you, but whether or not it failed cannot be definitively said.
Charlie Black: Well, for me, ceasing to exist is - is failure. I mean, that's pretty definitive.
Tom Townsend: Well, everyone ceases to exist. Doesn't mean everyone's a failure.
Audrey Rouget: What Jane Austen novels have you read?
Tom Townsend: None. I don't read novels. I prefer good literary criticism. That way you get both the novelists' ideas as well as the critics' thinking. With fiction I can never forget that none of it really happened, that it's all just made up by the author.
Nick Smith: The cha cha is no more ridiculous than life itself.
Nick Smith: The titled aristocracy are the scum of the earth.
Sally Fowler: You always say "titled" aristocrats. What about "untitled" aristocrats?
Nick Smith: Well, I could hardly despise them, could I? That would be self-hatred.
Tom Townsend: [to Serena Slocum] I haven't been giving you the silent treatment. I just haven't been talking to you.
Tom Townsend: [pulls out a gun after Rick punches him] Get back, Rick!
Rick Von Sloneker: Jesus, he's got a gun!
Charlie Black: I warn you! He's a Fourierist!
Fred Neff: Men are dates, date substitutes or potential dates. I find that dehumanizing.
Charlie Black: Where do you get off, "you're suprised"? At what? You were Audrey's escort, yet you blithely left her stranded in the middle of the dance so you can try to work things out with Serena! And then you try to shirk the whole thing off on Fred.
Tom Townsend: I'm not trying to shirk it off on Fred. And I was not Audrey's escort. We were all there as a group. In any case, I'm very sorry there was a mixup.
Charlie Black: There was no mixup.
Tom Townsend: I'm sorry I left. But it wasn't intentional.
Charlie Black: When you're an egoist, none of the harm you do is intentional!
Jane Clark: What are you reading?
Nick Smith: The story of Babar... I'd forgotten how beautiful it was.
Rick Von Sloneker: Get outta here and take this flat-chested, goody-goody, pain in the neck with you
[referring to Audrey]
Tom Townsend: She is NOT a goody-goody.
Cynthia McLean: Is our language so impoverished that we have to use acronyms of French phrases to make ourselves understood?
Charlie Black: Yes.
Man at Bar: You go to a party, you meet a group of people, you like them and you think "These people are going to be my friends for the rest of my life." Then you never see them again. I wonder where they go. We simply fail without being doomed. I'm not destitute. I've got a good job that pays decently. It's just that it's all so mediocre, so unimpressive. The acid test is whether you take any pleasure in responding to the question "What do you do?". I can't bear it. You start out expecting something much more, and some of your contemporaries achieve it. You start reading about them in the papers or seeing them on TV. That's the danger of midtown Manhattan - running across far more successful contemporaries. I try to avoid them whenever I can. But when I can't, they're always friendly. But inevitably they ask what am I doing - or think it.
Jane Clark: Why should we believe you over Rick? We know you're a hypocrite. We know your "Polly Perkins" story was a fabrication...
Nick Smith: A composite.
Jane Clark: Whatever. And, that you're completely impossible and out of control, with some sort of drug problem and a fixation on what you consider Rick Von Sloneker's wickedness. You're a snob, a sexist, totally obnoxious, and tiresome. And lately, you've gotten just weird. Why should we believe anything you say?
Nick Smith: I'm not tiresome.
Charlie Black: I can't believe you don't have a driver's license.
Tom Townsend: Of course I don't. I live in Manhattan.
Charlie Black: That was really embarrassing. Thank you for including me.
Cynthia McLean: You see the world from such lofty heights that everything below is a bit comical to you, isn't it?
Nick Smith: Yes.
Nick Smith: You're opposed to these parties on principle.
Tom Townsend: Yes.
Nick Smith: Exactly what principle is that?
Tom Townsend: Well...
Nick Smith: The principle that one shouldn't be out at night eating hors d'oeuvres when one could be home worrying about the less fortunate.
Tom Townsend: Pretty much, yes.
Nick Smith: Has it ever occurred to you that you are the less fortunate?
Audrey Rouget: By Tolstoy, "War and Peace" and by Jane Austen, "Persuasion" and "Mansfield Park".
Tom Townsend: "Mansfield Park"? You've got to be kidding.
Audrey Rouget: No.
Tom Townsend: But it's a notoriously bad book. Even Lionel Trilling, one of her greatest admirers, thought that.
Audrey Rouget: Well, if Lionel Trilling thought that, he's an idiot.
Tom Townsend: The whole story revolves around, what the immorality of a group of young people putting on a play.
Audrey Rouget: In the context of the novel it makes perfect sense.
Tom Townsend: But the context of the novel, and nearly everything Jane Austen wrote is near ridiculous from today's perspective.
Audrey Rouget: Has it ever occurred to you that today, looked at from Jane Austen's perspective would look even worse?
Charlie Black: The term 'bourgeois' has almost always been - been one of contempt. Yet it is precisely the - the bourgeoisie which is responsible for - well, for nearly everything good that has happened in our civilization over the past four centuries. You know the French film, "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie"? When I first heard that title I thought, "Finally, someone's gonna tell the truth about the bourgeoisie." What a disappointment. It would be hard to imagine a less fair or accurate portrait.
Sally Fowler: Well, of course. Buñuel's a surrealist. Despising the bourgeoisie is part of their credo.
Nick Smith: Where do they get off?
Charlie Black: But the truth is, the bourgeoisie does have a lot of charm.
Nick Smith: Of course it does. The surrealists were just a lot of social climbers.
Nick Smith: I guess you could say it's extremely vulgar, I like it a lot.
Nick Smith: Dawn in the big city. There are eight million stories out there.
Charlie Black: Hey, look at this.
Tom Townsend: What is it?
Charlie Black: Looks like some girl's panties.
Tom Townsend: Jesus, that bastard.
Tom Townsend: Pomfret. Where did you go?
Jane Clark: Farmington. Both of us did.
Tom Townsend: Did you know Serena Slocum there?
Jane Clark: The inevitable question.
Tom Townsend: What?
Jane Clark: All the guys ask that. Serena had an incredible number of boyfriends. At least 20. She could manage it because they were all at different schools and she wrote letters incredibly quickly - three in a single study hall. She became really famous. It's incredible how naive some guys are. How do you know Serena?
Audrey Rouget: [Interrupting] Actually, that might give someone the wrong impression. She wrote a lot of guys, but I'm sure she liked some a lot more than others.
Jane Clark: Oh, you think so? I never noticed that. How do you know Serena?
Tom Townsend: I was one of her boyfriends.
Jane Clark: [Taken aback] Oh! You must be "Pomfret." Your letters were really good.
Audrey Rouget: Yes.
Nick Smith: What a mystery. Rick Von Sloneker and Serena Slocum, still together. Seems like months.
Sally Fowler: It has been months.
Nick Smith: Well, one thing's for certain - she's lost her virginity by now.
Jane Clark: How can you say that?
Nick Smith: You're right. Maybe she wasn't a virgin.
Charlie Black: I think that - that - that we are all, in a sense, doomed.
Nick Smith: What are you talking about?
Charlie Black: Downward social mobility. We hear a lot about the great social mobility in America with the focus usually on the comparative ease of moving upwards. What's less discussed is how easy it is to - to go down. I think that's the - the direction that we're all heading in. And I think that the downward fall is gonna be very fast. Not just for us as individuals, but the whole preppy class.
Nick Smith: You haven't seen this? Detachable collar. Not many people wear them anymore. They look much better. So many things which were better in the past have been abandoned for supposed convenience.
Tom Townsend: I had no idea anyone wore those anymore.
Nick Smith: It's a small thing, but symbolically important. Our parents' generation was never interested in keeping up standards. They wanted to be happy, but, of course, the last way to be happy is to make it your objective in life.
Tom Townsend: I wonder if our generation's any better than our parents'.
Nick Smith: Oh, it's far worse. Our generation's probably the worst since - the Protestant Reformation. It's barbaric, but a barbarism even worse than the old-fashioned, straightforward kind. Now barbarism is cloaked with all sorts of self-righteousness and moral superiority. Will you look at this?
Tom Townsend: You're obviously talking about a lot more than just detachable collars.
Nick Smith: Yeah, I am.
Tom Townsend: I'm not planning to go to any more dances.
Nick Smith: You weren't? Well, I strongly advise you to change your mind. Is it that your resources are limited? This is about the only economical social life you're gonna find in New York. Music, drinks, entertainment, hot, nutritious meals all at no expense to you. Basically, all you need is one suit of evening clothes and a tailcoat. Dances are either white tie or black tie, so you only need two ties.
Charlie Black: Well, I don't think "preppy" is a very useful term. I mean, it might be descriptive for someone who is still in school or college; but, it's ridiculous to refer to a man in his 70s, like Averell Harriman, as a "preppy". And none of the other terms people use - WASP, P.L.U., et cetera - are of much use either. And that's why I prefer the term "U.H.B."
Nick Smith: What?
Charlie Black: U.H.B. It's an acronym for Urban Haute Bourgeoisie.
Cynthia McLean: Is our language so impoverished that we have to use acronyms or French phrases to make ourselves understood?
Nick Smith: There is no Polly Perkins.
Tom Townsend: What?
Nick Smith: There's no girl. I made it up.
Tom Townsend: You're kidding!
Nick Smith: I couldn't let Cynthia get away with that nonsense about Von Sloneker. And basically it's all true. I mean, Von Sloneker's doing those kinds of things all the time. Though Polly Perkins is, essentially, a composite... based on real people, like New York magazine does.
Tom Townsend: But Cynthia said she knew all about her.
Nick Smith: Yeah. That was priceless. I think it just shows that Von Sloneker's doing those sorts of things.
Tom Townsend: But you really do have some factual basis for saying all those things about him?
Nick Smith: Of course, there's a factual basis.
Audrey Rouget: People see the harm in what excessive candor can do.
Tom Townsend: I've never been this drunk before. The problem is, with Fred no longer drinking, I can't pace myself.
Charlie Black: Thanks a lot. We shouldn't be long.
Cab Driver: Take as long as you like - I'm leaving.
Charlie Black: But I *am* authorized to use my mother's card: I use it all the time.
Serena Slocum: I didn't save your letters but I didn't throw them away.
Tom Townsend: I don't understand, is that a riddle?
Charlie Black: I don't see how you can stand him. You're always complaining about people being frauds and phoneys. This guy is the phoney of the decade, yet you act as he were your long-lost best friend.
Nick Smith: Tom's hardly a phoney. Just mildly deluded. He's a perfectly nice guy.
Charlie Black: That's just another aspect of his phoniness. He's a terrible phoney, and when he's not being a phoney, he's a bastard.
Nick Smith: Oh, come on.
Charlie Black: You saw how he treated Audrey last night.
Nick Smith: Well, Audrey seems to have forgotten it.
Charlie Black: She has to act that way. Otherwise it would be even more humiliating. But I don't have to pretend Tom Townsend is a nice guy.
Nick Smith: You're really gaga about Audrey, aren't you?
Charlie Black: If by "gaga" you mean, do I like her? Yes, I do.
Nick Smith: Well, why don't you do something about it, instead of just going on and on about what a bastard Tom Townsend is.
Charlie Black: What do I do? Declare myself? That would be an absolute disaster. I don't think I haven't thought about these things. But I think if the situation could just continue as it has been, they gradually, over time, it'd grow into something more. That, at least, is what I've been hoping for.
Tom Townsend: I couldn't believe you're actually going to play bridge, such a cliché of bourgeois life.
Nick Smith: That's exactly why I play. I don't enjoy it one bit.
Mrs. Rouget: You can't listen to what your younger brother has to say. I can't think of anyone less an authority of female anatomy.
Audrey Rouget: He can see... It's hideous.
Mrs. Rouget: No, it isn't. You're being very subjective. You know, there was a survey of girls your age some years ago and nearly all of them were convinced that either their behinds, or their noses, were grotesquely oversized. And there was no apparent correlation between this conviction and their actual size.
Audrey Rouget: Really? They did a survey of that?
Mrs. Rouget: Yes. Why don't you show me the dress again?
Nick Smith: Jane's father's dead. Very suddenly, last year.
Tom Townsend: Must have been awful for her.
Nick Smith: Yes. It was tough on him too.
Charlie Black: My point was that the common image of divorce and decadent behavior being prevalent among New York social types is not really accurate. That's more Southampton.
Charlie Black: What it shows is that a kind of belief is innate in all of us. At some point most of us lose that after which it can only be regained by a conscious act of faith.
Cynthia McLean: You've experienced that?
Charlie Black: Uh, no, I haven't. I-I hope to someday.
Tom Townsend: I'm a committed socialist, not a Marxist. I favor the socialist model developed by the 19th-century French social critic Fourier.
Charlie Black: You're a Fourierist?
Tom Townsend: Yes.
Nick Smith: I'm not sure if you realize this, but these girls are at a very vulnerable point in their lives. All of this is much more emotional and difficult for them than it is for us. They're on display. They have to call the guys up and invite them as escorts. And preppy girls mature socially much later than others do.
A.T. Harris Salesman: Like to try on the tuxedo?
Tom Townsend: Okay.
A.T. Harris Salesman: Okay. Here you go.
Tom Townsend: I think I'd prefer one more like the one I rented.
A.T. Harris Salesman: That is the one you rented.
Nick Smith: Riffraff.
Sally Fowler: He's hardly that.
Nick Smith: Oh, you mean because of his title. We're supposed to be impressed by that. On the contrary, I think the titled aristocracy are the scum of the Earth.
Audrey Rouget: I think my father considers himself a failure although I don't think he's one. I guess few people's lives match their own expectations.
Audrey Rouget: Life is melodramatic, if you look at the whole sweep of it.
Audrey Rouget: I read that Lionel Trilling essay you mentioned. You really like Trilling?
Tom Townsend: Yes.
Audrey Rouget: I think he's very strange. He says that nobody could like the heroine of "Mansfield Park". I like her! Then he goes on and on about how we modern people of today with our modern attitudes, bitterly resent "Mansfield Park" because its heroine is virtuous? What's wrong with a novel having a virtuous heroine?
Tom Townsend: His point is that the novel's premise - that there's something immoral in a group of young people putting on a play - is simply absurd.
Audrey Rouget: You found Fanny Price unlikable?
Audrey Rouget: She sounds pretty unbearable. But I haven't read the book.
Nick Smith: It's incredible, the eagerness of girls like you to justify the worst bastards imaginable... as being sensitive and shy. But if any guy who really was shy dared talk to you... you wouldn't give him the time of day - your eyes would glaze over.
Cynthia McLean: You're really hung up on Rick, aren't you? He must really threaten you somehow.
Nick Smith: You're right. I do feel threatened - that I may get a venereal disease from one of the St. Tim's girls he's been with.
[Cynthia slaps Nick]
Nick Smith: Did you learn that from your lovemaking with Rick? I hear it can get really rough.
Nick Smith: Don't do that again. For me, it isn't erotic.
Audrey Rouget: I like the French.
Tom Townsend: Really?
Audrey Rouget: At least those I met in Grenoble.
Tom Townsend: Actually, the only girl I ever knew who studied in France stayed over there and got married. So I guess she liked the French too.
Audrey Rouget: I'm not sure I like them that much.
Audrey Rouget: One thing I like about him is he doesn't say all the expected things. He doesn't just agree with everything everyone else is saying.
Jane Clark: That's true. He disagrees with everything everyone else says.
Tom Townsend: You threw away all the letters I wrote you?
Serena Slocum: I throw away nearly everything. I don't want to go through the rest of my life with the mail I got when I was 16.
Tom Townsend: I'm surprised. Someone goes through the trouble of writing you a real letter, I save it. People don't write many personal letters anymore.
Serena Slocum: People in boarding school do.
Tom Townsend: And what if someone who wrote you becomes famous? Those letters could be the only record of what they were thinking at that time. Crucial for their biographers.
Serena Slocum: Anybody who writes me who expects to become famous should keep carbons.
Serena Slocum: Things are definitely over with Rick. With some relationships, the breaking up is easier to understand than how you got involved in the first place.
Nick Smith: Even within this group, there are certain standards. Apparently, I failed to live up to them.
Nick Smith: Polly was a bit of a masochist and prone to drink too much. Von Sloneker exploited this to get her drunk and had her - do you know what "pulling a train" means?
Audrey Rouget: I don't think so.
Nick Smith: These Texas and Oklahoma debs are really nice - a real relief from these hypercritical New York girls.
Nick Smith: Jane? Are you familiar with Dr. Pomeroy's work?
Jane Clark: Who?
Nick Smith: "Girls And Sex" by Wardell B. Pomeroy. "The long-needed modern guide to the understanding of girls growing up." Quote: "The most frank and objective book currently available.' Library Journal."
Jane Clark: Oh, that.
Nick Smith: "The years of puberty and early womanhood are difficult, even frightening, for many girls. This is the time they most need objective, factual information and sympathetic advice about their physical and emotional changes."
Cynthia McLean: It's better for her to know the truth. I don't see how knowing the truth could do anyone any harm.
Jane Clark: It's not just the truth. It's how and when you learn it.
Cynthia McLean: Rick really threatens you somehow.
Nick Smith: How does he threaten me?
Cynthia McLean: Maybe by being more of a man than you are.
Nick Smith: Oh, you stupid slut.
Fred Neff: You don't need to put on pink eye shadow for us.
Jane Clark: It's not for you. I've got a date.
Fred Neff: A date? What's that? It sounds like something from the 1950s.
Charlie Black: It's a bit disappointing. I thought we were better friends than that.
Fred Neff: I wonder whether we're really friends for them at all. We're just way stations between dates. I mean, for them, men are either dates, potential dates or date substitutes.
Tom Townsend: Yesterday I was thinking, maybe Fourier was a crank. His ideas completely unworkable.
Charlie Black: I wouldn't want to live on a farm with a lot of other people.
Fred Neff: I think I'll be going now. I have nothing to say, and I'm completely boring without a drink.
Tom Townsend: It's only midnight. You can't go.
Fred Neff: I'm sorry, but without the cocktails, staying up all night loses its charm. Besides, I haven't had anything amusing to say since I stopped drinking.
Tom Townsend: Did you have anything amusing to say before you stopped?
Fred Neff: I know, but it seemed amusing. Now it doesn't.
Tom Townsend: The whole Rat Pack thing seems to have disintegrated.
Fred Neff: The Rat Pack is down to the rats.
Tom Townsend: People shouldn't get married till their late 20s, and that's a long way off.
Man at Bar: When I was in college, we'd go to dances during Christmas vacations. Do they still go on?
Charlie Black: Yes.
Man at Bar: Pretty much reduced though.
Tom Townsend: Yeah.
Man at Bar: Ah, well, I wouldn't put much stock in them.
Tom Townsend: Did anything happen?
Audrey Rouget: Of course not.
Tom Townsend: You mean you were never interested in Von Sloneker at all?
[pause as Audrey looks ambivalently towards him]
Tom Townsend: They why did you come out here?
Audrey Rouget: To get a suntan... and the whole thing with the Rat Pack was getting claustrophobic. And Cynthia insisted I come. She's terribly impressed with Rick.
Tom Townsend: It's not something Jane Austen would have done.
Audrey Rouget: No. I suppose Europe is over there.
[points across the ocean]
Tom Townsend: No. That would be Brazil. Europe is more that way. You're really going back next week?
Audrey Rouget: I think so.
Tom Townsend: What can you study in France that you can't study here?
Audrey Rouget: French. Actually, I was thinking of coming back when this semester ends.
Tom Townsend: I was thinking of going over. Not necessarily to Grenoble, but to France and Italy... though my resources are limited.
Audrey Rouget: There are some awfully cheap airfares these days during the winter season. It seems a shame not to take advantage of them.
Tom Townsend: That's how I feel.
Audrey Rouget: Do you really think I'm flat-chested?
Tom Townsend: I haven't really thought about it. Well, I shouldn't say that. The thing is, you look great... and that's what's important. You don't want to overdo it.