Title: Dignity. Always, Dignity.
Fandom: HL and Singing in the Rain – the movie
Characters: From HL: Richie Ryan & Duncan MacLeod. From SITR: Cosmo Brown, Don Lockwood & R.F. Simpson
Disclaimer: The characters you know and love all belong to their respective creators.
Summary: Duncan recalls his years as a stuntman and sword instructor in silent movies and on Monumental Pictures first talkie, "The Dancing Cavalier" (The fake picture used in "Singing in the Rain")
A/N: The title comes from a line at the beginning of the movie spoken by Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly)where he claims(with tongue firmly planted in cheek) that this is his philosophy about acting.
Dignity. Always, Dignity.
"A silent movie. Seriously Mac, this may be worse than that time you dragged me to those foreign films."
"Come on, Richie, you need to be open to new experiences," Duncan chided.
"I am open to new experiences but this movie is 80 years old. Not exactly a new experience."
"Well, it's new for you. You may be surprised."
Richie sighed. "Okay, so what's this masterpiece of antique cinema called?"
"The Royal Rascal. It was one of the last silents made by Monumental Pictures Studio before the advent of talkies. It's a real piece of history," Mac explained enthusiastically.
"A talkie, Mac?" Richie snickered. "The Royal Rascal, who named these things? Are you really this excited over some old film?"
"I'm sorry if there aren't enough explosions for your taste but silents were a unique art form."
"Yeah, and so are mimes."
"Richie! It was a very exhilarating time in Hollywood."
"Sorry, sorry. I get it, you were there. It was an important time in your life." Richie wondered if, in a hundred years or so, he'd be the one trying to explain why an extinct art form was still worthy of admiration. If he'd had a grandfather, he figured there would have been lots of conversations just like this.
They reached the theater showing the retrospective. "Geez, will you look at that." Richie was pointing to the poster of two men in ridiculous costume in the midst of a duel. "Tell me you didn't dress like that."
Mac just laughed. "Well, these films were notoriously inaccurate in the costuming. I can promise you, I never wore that much lace."
Richie bet Mac had and what he wouldn't give for a picture of him dressed like that.
Mac looked down at his attire and back at the costumer. "What year is this supposed to be again?"
"I don't know. What's it matter?" the dressmaker grunted as she tried to usher Mac out the door.
"Well, the collar's all wrong and this lace, I'm sure-"
"What, suddenly you're an expert on 18th century dress? You're the stunt man go be stunty." She made a shooing motion that indicated the conversation was over.
Mac tried to protest but realized that in his current persona, a detailed knowledge of men's fashions in the 1700s wouldn't be something he should know. Sighing, he exited the dressing trailer and headed toward the set.
"MacLeod," he heard the friendly voice call out.
"Hey Don. Remind me again how I let you talk me into this. I'm just a simple stunt man I don't do the big scenes."
"I started as a stunt man too and now I am …Don Lockwood, big Hollywood star!" His voice took on the exaggerated tone of an announcer. Smiling, he added, "Stop grousing this is your big break."
"I'm not sure I need one." Duncan paused as he felt the buzz of another Immortal. He turned to see Cosmo Brown, their musical director approaching.
"Don't you two look pretty," he smirked.
"Very funny, Cosmo. Go tune your piano," Don quipped.
"Now, now, is that any way for a lady to talk?"
MacLeod snickered. "We do look silly." He leaned over to Cosmo adding, "I never wore this much lace, I swear."
The historical reference was not lost on the other Immortal who replied, "Me neither."
"Alright you two. I don't pick the movies. The Royal Rascal is paying the rent this month. So, we do what the craft demands of us and in this case, we wear silk and lace."
"Ah yes, the craft." Cosmo's voice had dropped an octave as he pointed a determined finger into the air. "The things we must suffer for our craft."
Don looked to Duncan for a little help but the Scotsman just echoed Cosmo's actor voice. "Yes, yes, I do suffer so."
Exasperated, Don was saved from further conversation by the arrival of the movie's producer, R.F. Simpson. "Ready for you big debut, Mac." He was all smiles and ready for the first day of shooting.
"About that, I really don't think it's a good idea for me to be so prominently featured in this movie."
"Nonsense my boy, everyone wants to be in the movies. Besides you're perfect for the part of the villain." Translating R.F.'s producer speak, Duncan knew it meant that the picture saved money with him doing double duty as an actor and a stunt man.
Duncan shook his head and began to protest again when Don clapped a hand on his shoulder. "Come on, Mac. It's only right that the man who taught me everything I know about sword fighting should get his chance for glory."
"I'd like a little glory," Cosmo chimed in.
R.F. glared at the musician, who muttered, "Never mind, I've already had enough glory, gave me gas."
Duncan had to control his snicker as R.F. turned to speak to him again. "We start shooting in five. I don't want to hear any more about your stage fright issues."
Before Duncan could protest again, R.F. turned his attention to Lockwood. "Come walk with me, Don. I haven't had a chance to talk with my favorite star about this latest project." R.F. placed a hand on Don's arm and led him away.
Duncan and Cosmo exchanged glances which silently acknowledged that an Immortal caught on film would be a terrible idea. Unfortunately it was too late now, R.F. had spoken. Plus, Mac had a contract with the studio that he felt duty bound to honor.
"I could take your head and then you wouldn't have to do the movie," Cosmo offered.
"Is that really the best idea you can come up with?"
Cosmo rubbed the back of his head, Well-" He looked up to see that Duncan was already headed onto the set. "Yeah, you're pretty much committed," he said to his friend's back.
Richie and Mac took their seats. As the lights dimmed, Richie felt the tingle of another Immortal. Searching the auditorium, his eyes settled on the man who had walked onto the stage and sat down at the piano. Richie watched as the stranger and Mac acknowledged each other.
"Friend of yours?"
"Yeah, one of the good guys. He never was much good with a sword. I'm glad to see he's still alive."
"If that's true, how did he survive?"
"He's very quick and it's hard to get the drop on someone who can practically climb walls like Spider-man."
"He's a great acrobat and," Duncan chuckled, "he ran away a lot."
"Cosmo, you need to learn how to defend yourself with more than your rapier quick wit," Duncan pleaded.
"Oh, I don't know. It tends to keep them off balance while I make for a quick retreat."
"So, you've never taken a head? Never fought another Immortal?"
"Me, play at being a swashbuckler? Nope, I either make friends or I run."
"You can't run forever."
"Don't need to now. I have a big, manly Scotsman to protect me." Cosmo made girly eyes up at Duncan and leaned into his shoulder.
Pushing the little man away, he begged, "Will you be serious? I'm working with Don on a sword fight for this movie. I can train you at the same time."
"Come on Mac, I'm a dancer and a musician. Can you actually see me using a sword? I'm the sidekick. No one ever bothers the sidekick." Cosmo smiled. "Gotta go. Don't worry about me, I'm wily."
"Cosmo," Duncan called after the retreating figure. Exasperated, but not defeated Duncan vowed he'd do what it took to get his friend trained before the next Immortal came along.
The lights came up as the credits rolled. Richie was staring at his friend. "That was you! A different name in the credits but the villain was defiantly you."
"Don't be ridiculous, Richie. It would be too risky for an Immortal to be in a movie."
"Mac, I'm not stupid. I would recognize that fighting style anywhere. Even with the bad wig and silly mustache. So don't-" Richie stopped speaking as his attention was drawn to the wiry, little man who vaulted from the stage and then danced nimbly across the backs of the seats to drop into the aisle next to Mac. Richie was impressed, Spider-man indeed.
The two embraced. "Cosmo Brown. Will wonders never cease? Still alive, I see."
"Duncan MacLeod. Reluctant movie star. Guess you couldn't resist seeing yourself on the big screen again, eh?"
"I knew it!" Richie crowed. "It was you. I totally need a copy of that movie."
"No! You don't!" Duncan tried to sound menacing but Richie was too amused to be moved by idle threats.
"Who's the kid?"
"I'm Richie Ryan and I'm not a kid. I'm almost 30."
Cosmo scoffed. "Not my fault you kicked it before you were old enough to shave. Besides until you make it past your first century, you're still a kid."
"Ah Cosmo, I've missed you. Still as irritating as ever. Good to know some things haven't changed."
"Ah Duncan, still as manly as ever. I see you've stopped wearing lace. That was never a good look for you."
"So," Richie cleared his throat to interrupt. "You knew Mac when he was a movie star?
Mac tried to signal Cosmo to be quiet. Cosmo pretended not to see Mac's frantic signaling.
"Mac was Monumental Picture's number one sword fight choreographer and top stunt man when he stared in The Royal Rascal. He only made one other picture before he convinced R.F. that he couldn't hide his accent. Poor Mac, talkies ruined his career."
"Really?" Richie was impressed. "Mac you never told me you were a movie star."
"It was no big deal. I was mostly behind the scenes." Mac tried to sound nonchalant but Richie wasn't buying it. His attitude now didn't jive with the giddy excitement he'd shown before the movie.
Richie suspected that Mac was hiding something and Cosmo knew what it was. In fact, it almost seemed as if the other Immortal was dying to tell him. Richie figured he'd give the man his opportunity. "What was the other movie? Are they showing it here at the festival?"
Mac just groaned as Cosmo smiled sweetly. "The Dancing Cavalier. He was even better in that one. Especially-"
"There are no copies of that movie in existence. Too bad, Richie. You'll never get to see it. Oh well," he added feigning disappointment. Duncan put a hand on Richie's shoulder as he tried to push him toward the exit. "Great to see you again Cosmo. Let's catch up next time you're in town. Say goodbye Richie." Duncan's voice was taking on an almost frantic quality.
"Wait, Mac. We don't have to go." Richie was enjoying this show more than the movie.
Cosmo was positively giddy at Duncan's discomfort. "Nothing to be embarrassed about, Mac. Lots of people tap dance."
"Holy cow, Mac. You tap dance."
"Try to contain yourself, Rich."
"Ah Mackie, don't be mad at the kid. He didn't know you had a feminine side."
"This is all your fault," Mac said as he jabbed a finger into Cosmo's chest. "You wouldn't learn to fight. No, you had to make it difficult for me to save your life. And don't call me Mackie!"
"I know. I'm a bad, bad man," Cosmo pouted insincerely
"Cosmo, did you ever learn to fight?"
"Oh, he learned alright," Mac sighed.
"But not until Mac learned to tap dance. It's a great treat to see such a manly man wear lace and tap dance at the same time."
Richie was practically incoherent with glee as he watched Mac fight his embarrassment. "Now that is something I would have paid money to see."
"Again, no copies. Such a shame." Mac comforted himself with the thought that Cosmo was the only living person who'd ever seen his ridiculous performance.
"That's not exactly true, Mac."
"Cosmo." Mac said the threat clear in his tone. "What do you mean that's not true?"
It was one thing to wear a silly costume and act goofy on the stage as he'd done ages ago as part of a Shakespearian company but it was another thing entirely to have that type of moment captured forever on film.
"I'm thinking Cosmo has a copy," Richie said as he studied the diminutive Immortal
"No, please tell me this is some elaborate practical joke."
"Sorry Mac, it's true. I just happen to have the last known copy of The Dancing Cavalier. The privileges of Immortality." Cosmo paused as if in deep thought, "You know, a lot of film institutes would pay big money to get a copy of Monumental Pictures first talkie."
"You wouldn't," Mac visibly paled. Richie might have felt sorry for his friend's predicament if it was so much fun to see Mac off balance.
"I don't know that depends. Richie, how much did you say you'd be willing to pay?"
"Richie." Mac's voice took on that warning tone again.
"Sorry Mac, but this was a once in an Immortal life time opportunity." Turning to Cosmo, he asked, "Do you really have a copy?"
Cosmo threw an arm around the younger man's shoulders. "We can discuss price on the way." The two walked toward the exit.
"Cosmo." Mac was practically begging now
Cosmo called over his shoulder. "Don't worry Mac. I don't think a little
cross dressing and tap dancing will ruin your manly and rugged Scottish reputation."
"Cross dressing, seriously?"
"Well, there was a lot of lace, so it's hard to tell."
Sighing, Mac followed the two Immortals out the door. He might as well watch the movie again. It had been 80 years after all; maybe it wasn't as bad as he remembered. No, no, he was pretty sure it was . He just had to figure out a way to burn that copy before Joe or Methos got wind of it.