A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor

Guy Noir script
Saturday, June 18, 2005


Tim Russell: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but on the twelfth floor of the Acme Building one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions — Guy Noir, Private Eye --


Garrison Keillor: I was at my cousin Lenny's in Elmwood Park outside of Chicago. I was working on a case at the request of Mayor Daley, investigating reports that guys in the Chicago Water Department were going around under the pretext of checking the water pipes and stealing people's sofas. Ordinarily, I wouldn't stay with a relative when I'm working a case, but I was in a mood to save on per diem. And I was hoping Lenny would remember the hundred bucks he's owed me since the Twins won the World Series in 1987.

TR (LARRY): Care for a cold one?

GK: What you got?

TR (LARRY): Myslivicek Premium.

GK: Myslivicek! That's a beer?

TR (LARRY): It's a terrific beer. Best beer you ever had—

GK: You don't have Grain Belt?

TR (LARRY): Grain Belt!!! I wouldn't give a Grain Belt beer to my dog!!

GK: How about a Sam Adams?

TR (LARRY): Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Sam Adams is for nutballs and soccer players. Guys who do Morris dancing. Hey— speaking of beer, I need you to get a baseball back for me.

GK: Somebody steal it?

TR: Exactly. You see, for Cubs games I like to go stand out on the street back of Wrigley Field with a landing net and catch homeruns and Monday was my lucky day — Derek Lee hits a dinger to left, that clears the wall, ricochets off a bus, bounces off somebody's windshield, and lands right at my feet. So I scoop it up and then — I got carried away and I started doing my victory dance and putting on some moves and I fell off the curb and dropped the ball and this nut case comes and swipes it from me.

GK: Larry—

TR: I chased after him. He got into a white Ford Taurus with Wisconsin plates and I wrote it down and — I want you to trace him and get my ball back.

GK: Lenny. You dropped the ball.

TR: I know, but—

GK: It's not enough to have touched it. You gotta hold onto it. You live in Chicago. You ought to know that.

TR: Okay, but look—

GK: It's different in Minnesota. If that happened at a Twins game, that ball would be yours forever. At a Twins game, if a foul ball comes winging up into the stands, it may take people half an inning to figure out who deserves to keep it — who needs it the most. Not in Chicago. This is loser-weeperville. So if you wanted it, why didn't you just grab it away from him?

TR: He was bigger than me.

GK: Well, next time remember to hold onto the ball. And don't dance. (BRIDGE) I headed downtown on the El (SFX. CLACKING, GROANING, WHEELS ON STEEL RAILS) and we went careening around those magnificent buildings — it was like a carnival ride called American Architecture — (EL GOES AROUND A CORNER, VOICES SWAYING, SCREECHING) greatest ride in America — they ought to charge twenty bucks for it — (INTO BUSY METRO PIANO BRIDGE) I got down to the Loop, walking under the Elevated tracks that are connected in my mind with great car chases in detective movies — (CARS RACING, SWERVING, GUNSHOTS) — and great movie detectives.

TR (CLINT): Go ahead. Reach for it, punk. Make my day.


GK: And there was Bogie, standing on the corner, by a newsstand.

TR (BOGIE): Hey, how's it goin, kid? Why the long puss?

GK: Awwww, business is lousy.

TR (BOGIE): Business has always been lousy, kid. You and me, we're not in business for the business, we're in it cause there's something called the truth. And when people need some, they gotta know who to ask.

GK: I don't think people care about truth. I think they're more into beauty.

TR (BOGIE): Maybe beauty IS truth—

GK: Mind if I ask a question, Bogie?

TR (BOGIE): Shoot, kid.

GK: How come you talk the way you do and your lip looks like that?

TR (BOGIE): It was a botox treatment that went bad. Listen— I gotta run. Here's to you.

GK: My imagination got carried away — I headed up the street imagining I was on a big case, rescuing a beautiful wealthy heiress from the clutches of Al Capone.

Sue Scott (WEEPING): I've been a fool, Mr. Noir. A beautiful fool. Daddy sent me to Wellesley and I majored in world literature and I read Crime and Punishment and I got interested in the underworld — but I never dreamed it would lead to anything like this! Me hanging around in my lingerie drinking sloe gin with a Lucky Strike dangling from my lower lip, bringing beer to a bunch of guys sitting around a table playing poker.

GK: What attracted you to crime, Daphne?

SS: It was a way to, like, challenge all the assumptions I grew up with in Winnetka and find out who I am by living on the margins — but I didn't mean to wind up in lingerie and wearing this much lipstick...

GK: Maybe you've challenged those assumptions enough to know they're true, Daphne, and it's time to head home.

TR (CAPONE): I don't think so, Mr. Noir. I'm keepin her here. You're gonna have to deal with me first. The name's Capone. C-a-p-o-n.

GK: You maybe need to go back to first grade spelling, Mr. Capone.

TR (CAPONE): What you talking about— Hey!

GK: Swiftly the powerful young private eye kicked the gun out of the mobster's hand (TR REACTION, CLATTER OF GUN) as he whirled and grabbed the girl (SS REACTION) and they dove out the window (CRASH OF GLASS) as hot lead filled the room (GUNSHOTS) and hand in hand they fell six stories and landed on a truckload of mattresses from Select Comfort whose sleep numbers fortunately were set to their own personal preferences so that they bounced an equal distance into the air (SOFT BOUNCE) — and they settled down in comfort as the truck headed north (SFX) — and the detective was so comfortable he fell asleep (SNORING) until (BOINGGG) the truck hit a pothole and bounced him off (SFX) and he landed on his feet and was walking along the street, suddenly thirty years older. (CELLPHONE RING) — Yeah, Noir here.

TR (ON PHONE, RICO): This Guy Noir the famous gumshoe?

GK: Who's this?

TR (ON PHONE, RICO): This is Jimmy from the Water Department.

GK: What's up, Jimmy?

TR (ON PHONE): What's up is that you come barging into my town, Noir, poking your nose into Water Department business — and I'm not going to take that laying down.

GK: You mean, "lying down" — "laying down" is transitive, meaning it takes an object You lay something down, such as your pistol— you mean "lying down" — like on a mattress or something—

TR (RICO): Irregardless, just butt out, Smart Pants.

GK: Actually, there's no such word as "irregardless."

TR (RICO): You keep this up, there'll be no such word as "Guy Noir."

GK: The mayor asked me to have a look, Jimmy. I'm working for the mayor.

TR (ON PHONE): Listen. The Water Department was here a long time before the mayor and it'll be here a long time after.

GK: How about we meet and talk about it—

TR (ON PHONE): Fine. Art Institute. We'll meet in front of the picture of the guy with the pitchfork. (BRIDGE)

GK: So that's how I came to be standing in front of Grant Wood's "American Gothic" in the Art Institute. A famous picture and the blank look on the guy's face reminded me of a lot of people I've met in Minnesota. And the look on his wife's face that says, too clearly, "I coulda done better." And then I noticed something — I leaned forward to get a closer look— (FAST FOOTSTEPS)

SS: Sir— don't touch the painting.

GK: I'm not, I'm just looking —

SS: Oh my gosh. I never noticed that before. The man has something in his nose. What is it?

GK: Grant Wood didn't paint boogers, did he?

SS: I don't think so.

GK: Then maybe the painting is a fake.

SS: Oh my gosh. A fake!!! We've been robbed. (FAST FOOTSTEPS AWAY)

GK: She took off running and soon (SERIES OF ALARMS) there were flashing lights and — (TR ON P.A: Please leave the building. The building is closing. Leave the building.) and steel gates closed (MOTOR OF GATE, SLAMS SHUT) and I was alone in the gallery with a bunch of expensive paintings and a George Segal statue of a water inspector — and then the statue walked over to me.

TR (RICO): Hey, Noir. — It's Jimmy. We talked on the phone.

GK: I remember. How'd you get in here?

TR (RICO): This is my town, Noir. I go where I want to go.

GK: You come in here through the sewers?

TR (RICO): How'd you know?

GK: Never mind. What's going on with the Water Department?

TR (RICO): Listen. Fresh, clean water comin' out of the tap — this is important to people. So when the guy comes around to read your water meter, you let him know how much you appreciate his work. You leave a little envelope for him with something in it. It helps us to do our job of bringing you fresh, clean water every day. Instead of maybe accidentally flooding your basement. These mistakes could happen. And when people forget to keep their water guy happy — then maybe they need a reminder, like coming home and finding that their sofa is missing. You got a problem with that?

GK: I'm only a fact finder, Rico. I'm not a moral reformer. Just want to know what the deal is.

TR (RICO): And now you know.

GK: I appreciate your honesty.

TR (RICO): How's the water up at your cousin Larry's?

GK: How'd you know I was staying there?

TR (RICO): I know a lot about you, Noir. Size 13, medium rare, lights on, pralines and cream. And I know that you almost took my girl away from me. Daphne. (FOOTSTEPS)

GK: And then a goddess got down off her pedestal and walked over.

SS: Hi, Mr. Noir. Thanks for rescuing me from Mr. Capon so I could meet Rico. He's a real man.

GK: You're completely naked, Daphne.

SS: The body is sacred, Mr. Noir.

GK: Well, some are. I can see that now.

TR (RICO): Let's go, doll. I hear the cops coming.

GK: You've gone a long way for a Wellesley girl, Daphne.

SS: He makes me feel totally alive. And we have a beautiful home. With thousands of sofas. —

GK: Well, good luck to you.

TR (RICO) (OFF): Come on, Angel Face. (FOOTSTEPS AWAY)

GK: They disappeared into a cold air vent and I was alone for a moment with Grant Wood's Iowa farm couple. And then the thing in his nose turned out to be a housefly and it flew away. (FLY BUZZES OFF) And I thought I heard them say—

SS (MINN): Why the pitchfork?

TR (MINN): Puttin it away.

SS (MINN): In the garage?

TR (MINN): Yeah—

SS (MINN): Garage is full of stuff.

TR (MINN): I'm going to clean it.

SS (MINN): When?

TR (MINN): Soon as I get time.

SS (MINN): You keep saying that.

TR (MINN): I'll get to it tomorrow.

SS (MINN): We're going to my sister's tomorrow.

TR (MINN): Oh boy.

SS (MINN): You never cared for my family, did you.

TR (MINN): They're okay.

SS (MINN): Well, anyway we're going. (THEME)

SS: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions... Guy Noir, Private Eye - (THEME OUT)

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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