Tom's Description of His First Film
The following is taken from a typewritten pamphlet Tom distributed prior to a charity screening of The Noble Experiment at the Lawrence Park Theatre, Broomal, Pennsylvania, in May of 1964
Newly discovered color still from The Noble Experiment
featuring Tom Graeff and Phllis Yarwood
“THE NOBLE EXPERIMENT”
a color motion picture by Tom Graeff
Our protagonist is Ronald, a good natured, very sensitive and imaginative young married man whose only vice is his evening and weekend tinkering with biochemistry experiments in a makeshift lab in his garage (which he sometimes gets so concerned with that he forgets little chores such as pulling weeds and repairing things like the loose and anxious ironing board which, at the slightest provocation, unfolds out of its wall with a bang, followed a moment later by its little sleeve board).
Ronald's antagonist, a frequent family visitor who becomes the inspiration for his 'noble experiment' because of her uninhibited faultfinding with him over his household irresponsibility, is Motherinlaw. Her daughter, Katherine, our hero's wife, tries valiantly to win her Mother to Ronald by describing, with as much exuberance as she can muster, his latest potion, this time a carrotcolored syrup, which, when taken in proper doses, is supposed to ... (well, for the sake of brevity we won't go into that here).
Already disgruntled over squealing gate hinges, the tall weeds, and then a doorknocker that comes off in her hand, Mother finds the new concoction outrageous, the ultimate in absurdity among Ronald's timewasting nonsense projects.
That night, after watching TV pill commercials (to lose weight, or gain, or sleep, or keep awake and even one for getting rid of 'that blue feeling,' etc., Ronald gets his brainstorm idea: Why not a pill that would change Mother-in-law so drastically that he and she would get along: And that is what he'd call it: the 'GetAlong’ pill. Why, the implications of worldwide use would be enormous. Imagine. Everyone taking the pills and getting along with everyone else. Think what would happen to crime, and war, and all of man's inhumanities. This is what the world has been waiting for. If people wouldn't take the pills, the formula could be vaporized in the air, or put in the reservoirs of drinking water.
Ronald sets to work immediately to come up with such a formula. He sticks at it night and day, with only short naps and snacks in between. After several weeks the project leads him to financial ruin, but he keeps right on.
In writing the script, it seemed reasonable to assume that a man working with diligence, perseverance, and singlemindedness, so unheeding of his 'financial situation' or other consequences, and all for an idea which to the runofthemill would seem utterly farfetched, would at some point along the way find himself forcibly removed to an institution for the emotionally disturbed. And so, this is what happens to Ronald. All this work without success, and now he finds himself in Sunnyside Asylum (Mother-in-law knows mental illness when she sees it.)
But, Eureka. An elderly scientist, confined there for years, is able to help Ronald. The old codger had been top man in a biochemical warfare research lab and had been caught putting his own secret ‘getalong' formula into missile warheads instead of the death chemicals that had been ordered. This unbalanced behavior was enough to have him committed post haste.
But now Ronald has what his formula had lacked, and he escapes in the night with the help of the old fellow who himself chooses to remain.
Home again, Ronald mixes a huge batch of the formula--an eerie, milkypink substance. He prepares to test it on himself, having put a minute amount of it in a cup that he has Katherine take into the kitchen to fill with coffee. But before Katherine knows what has happened, Mother sips from the cup.
Katherine knocks it out of her Mother's hand, and rushes out to tell Ronald what has happened in case an antidote is needed. Mother follows, alarmed and furious with Ronald. But then ... there is silence ... She blinks her eyes... and then ..."Hic... Hic up." Ronald and Katherine stare, immobile. A gentle smile breaks over Mother's face. Her eyes twinkle. "Ronald, my son..,” she says, her voice overflowing with warmth and affection.
Katherine is incredulous. "It works.'" Ronald joyously accepts Mother's offer to help in his plan to get the whole batch into the city dam.
What happens to the little town and to Ronald, the funny things and the notsofunny things, the international reaction, and what the old scientist back at the asylum says about the results are things everyone should find worth pondering.
Ronald, even though he succeeded only in a 'noble experiment,' nevertheless had set his heart on a dream of what the world could become.
Will not, someday, everyone catch that same dream?
Would any more than that be needed?