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CARLOTTA'S STORY

In a nursing home, Eugene O'Neill's third wife, Carlotta, tells a researcher the untold story of her tumultuous life with the famous playwright.

In a New Jersey nursing home, Carlotta Monterey O'Neill reluctantly agrees to tell a young graduate student working on his thesis all about her late husband. During the interview, the feisty, foul-mouthed octogenarian constantly cajoles and humiliates the grad student.

Carlotta recounts the first inauspicious meeting with her husband when she had a role in "The Hairy Ape" Carlotta thinks Gene is a terrible wordsmith while Gene thinks Carlotta is a terrible actress.

A few years later, Carlotta and Gene meet again at a cocktail party thrown by Gene and his second wife, Agnes. When Gene and Carlotta wander away from the party together, it becomes obvious they are very attracted to each other. The couple sails to Europe to escape the gossip and the nagging reporters.

When Agnes finally agrees to a divorce, Carlotta and Gene marry in Paris, but on their wedding night they have their first of many subsequent arguments, going to bed in separate rooms.

A few years later, the couple returns to the United States, first building a beach home, which Carlotta dubs Casa Genotta, on remote Sea Island, Georgia. As with their later homes,Carlotta supervises its construction and decoration while shielding her husband from the outside world. But what starts out as a paradise soon becomes for Carlotta a jungle replete with stifling heat and venomous snakes.

They sell Casa Genotta at a loss, then rent a home in the cooler climate of Seattle, where Gene learns he has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first (and so far, only) American playwright to do so.

The couple then builds a new home, ironically named Tao House, in the California Hills, just east of San Francisco, but troubling events make their lives miserable there.

The first is Genes disowning his daughter, Oona, for marrying Charlie Chaplin, a man three times her age.

The second is Genes writing his semi-autobiographical play, "Long Days Journey into Night," a play that nearly drives him mad, and which he makes Carlotta promise, that in the event of his death, will never be produced.

His plays failing on Broadway, Gene retreats with Carlotta to a cottage in Marblehead, Massachusetts. There he is unable to write because of a worsening disease similar to Parkinsons. Adding to his torment, he learns of the suicide of his oldest son and locks himself in his room.

Then one, cold winter night, Gene rushes out of the cottage to a nearby cliff to do away with himself, but instead stumbles and breaks his leg. Carlotta leaves him out in the freezing cold, then wanders off to town in a daze.

Gene is rescued by a passing patrolman and taken to the hospital, where Gene has Carlotta committed to a psychiatric ward.

Eventually, the couple reconciles. Together they burn Genes manuscripts, but unknown to Gene, Carlotta saves one of the plays from the fire.

They move to a hotel in Boston, where Gene dies several years later. In order to remain solvent, Carlotta has the play produced that she saved from the fire. It is "Long Days Journey into Night." The interview over, the grad student leaves, and the exhausted Carlotta falls asleep. Her head slumps over and she dies.

Written by:
Format:
Screenplay
Genres:
Budget:
Modest
Starring Roles For:
Glenda Jackson
David Strathairn
Paul Giamatti
In the Vein Of:
De-Lovely
Beyond the Sea
Posted:
09/30/2007
Updated:
09/07/2019
Author Bio:
An award-winning playwright and screenwriter. A number of plays produced and three published. Several screenplays optioned. Recipient of three scriptwriting fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Also a member of SAG-AFTRA.