The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine - Recap

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Aging actress Barbara Jean Trenton watches one of her old movies of the 1930s featuring her with her former leading man. Jerry Hearndan. Her housekeeper, Sally, knocks at the door and gets no answer. When she brings in the tea, she discovers that Barbara isn't in her usual seat. The actress steps around the screen, startling Sally, and tells the housekeeper to put the tea down. As Sally leaves, the doorbell rings. The housekeeper answers it and Barbara's agent Danny Weiss, comes in. As he goes to talk to Barbara, Sally says that Barbara is getting worse and the agent says that he'll do what he can.

Danny goes into the study as the film concludes. Barbara tells him to fix a drink even though it's 11 in the morning, and he insists on opening the drapes and letting some sunlight in. Danny points out that she just sits in the study watching her old films. She tells him not to complain about her habits but Danny points out that all she's doing is staying in her study, bottling herself up and watching old films. He tells her that he's got a part for her with and she'll be meeting with Marty Sall. Barbara points out that she never got along with Marty but Danny assures her that he's mellowed. However, when Barbara starts talking about getting a leading role, Danny warns her that it's been 26 years since she played such a role. She angrily dismisses his concerns about her age but then cheers up and agrees to go.

That afternoon, Danny and Barbara meet Marty in his office. He says that it isn't a big part but it provides her with a showcase. Barbara insists on a big part and Marty realizes that Danny hasn't told his client what's in store. The CEO tells Barbara that she'll be playing a mother, but she insists that she doesn't play mothers and takes bit roles. She refuses to look over the part despite Danny's advice, and an angry Marty tells her that she's no longer the number one lady in Hollywood. He tells her that any part she gets will be charity and a stunned Barbara walks out. Danny promises to kick Marty when he's over the hill to remind him how Barbara feels and goes after his client.

Barbara returns home with Danny, who tells her not to pay attention to Marty. She insists that Marty and the studio don't exist as far as she's concerned and that from now on she will seal herself off from the outside world. Danny warns her that the world is it what it is, but Barbara says that she doesn't have to accept it if she shuts her eyes and wishes it all away. She rants, saying that it’s the 1930s again in her home. Danny tries to get through to her but Barbara wants to give a party and invite all of her friends. Her agent warns her that most of them are dead or retired, and all she's doing is wishing for things that are dead. Danny storms out and Barbara locks the door behind him.

Later, Barbara is in her study watching another of her films with Jerry Hearndan. Danny returns and Sally warns him that she doesn't see Barbara anymore. When she's gone in the study, she claims that she's seen Barbara actually up on the screen. Danny tells her that Jerry Hearndan will be coming by later, and that the actor is in town for a business trip. Danny then knocks at the study door and Barbara reluctantly lets him in. She shuts off the projector and lets him in, and Danny tells her that Jerry is coming to see her. She eagerly seizes on the visit and goes to change.

When Jerry arrives, Barbara is shocked to see hold old he is. She tries to pass it off, saying she had imagined him looking like one of his roles from their movies together. When Barbara says that she had hoped they might make another movie together, Jerry tells her that he gave up acting when he lost his youth. Now he runs a string of supermarkets in Chicago. Shocked, Barbara goes to a wall where photos of Jerry in his prime are hanging. She says that she expected that man to come but realizes that he's dead. Danny tries to calm her down but Barbara orders both men out. Jerry says goodbye but Barbara shrugs him off and looks away.

Once she's alone, Barbara returns to her darkened study and turns the projector back on. She advances toward the screen, talking to "her" Jerry and saying how young he looks. Barbara wishes she could be up there on the screen with her former leading man, clutching at her face.

Later, Sally knocks at the door but gets no answer. She goes in and finds that the projector is still running. Barbara isn't in her chair and the housekeeper looks up at the screen. Sally gasps in horror, drops the tray, and backs out.

Danny arrives an hour later in response to Sally's call. The projector is off and the housekeeper explains that she shut it off and then searched the house, but didn't find Barbara in any of the rooms. Danny turns on the projector and they both watch as the Barbara they know greets all of the actors she worked with into her home. As she goes with them, Danny calls desperately to her to come back. Barbara hesitates and then blows him a kiss and tosses her scarf to Danny before walking off-screen with the young Jerry in the movie. Danny shuts off the projector and goes out to the spot where Barbara dropped her scarf. He sees it on the floor, picks it up, and hopes that she's found what she wants.