DON: They sent me to the finest schools, including dancing schools. That's where I first met Cosmo. And with him I used to perform for all of Mom and Dad's society friends.
Liar. Don's lengthy, fictional recounting of his upbringing—and the way the crowd absolutely eats it up—sets the tone for the movie's depiction of "glamorous" 1920s Hollywood.
GIRL IN AUDIENCE: (looking at Lina on screen during The Royal Rascal) She's so refined. I think I'll kill myself.
Girl, if only you knew. Lina has everybody fooled, as long as all she has to do is pantomime and look pretty.
DON: Well, we movie stars get the glory. I guess we have to take the little heartaches that go with it. People think we lead lives of glamour and romance, but we're really lonely—terribly lonely.
Here, Don's hitting on Kathy, trying to paint himself as a sensitive, tortured artist. C'mon Don. You're better than that.
DON: (to Kathy, after she jumps out of the cake) Well, if it isn't Ethel Barrymore.
Kathy, you done got busted.
DON: (filming a love scene) Why, you rattlesnake! You got that poor kid fired.
LINA: That's not all I'm gonna do if I ever get my hands on her.
DON: I never heard of anything so low. What did you do it for?
LINA: 'Cause you liked her. I could tell.
DON: So that's it. Believe me, I don't like her half as much as I hate you, you reptile.
LINA: Sticks and stones may break my bones...
DON: I'd like to break every bone in your body.
LINA: You and who else, you big lummox?
This hilarious exchange is the most succinct example of the difference between reality and perception in the movie. While Don and Lina threaten physical harm to one another, they're simultaneously acting out a passionate, silent love scene. The Dueling Cavalier? More like The Deceitful Cavalier.
LINA: Oh, Donnie. You couldn't kiss me like that and not mean it just a teensy-weensy bit!
DON: Meet the greatest actor in the world. I'd rather kiss a tarantula.
LINA: Oh, you don't mean that.
DON: I don't? Hey, Joe! Bring me a tarantula.
It's unclear whether Lina's refusal to accept that Don just isn't that into her is the product of the media's lies, or the result of Lina lying to herself. Or both. What do you think?
CHORUS: I've got a feelin' you're foolin' / I've got a notion it's make-believe… I've got a feeling you're foolin' / I've got a feelin' it's all a frame
You mean like a… film frame? See what we did there? Comparing being framed to a frame of film? Since this is a movie about making movies? And people deceiving other people? Okay, we'll stop patting ourselves on the back now.
KATHY: Now, look, Miss Lamont, Don and I...
LINA: Don? Don't you dare call him Don! I was calling him Don before you were born! I mean, I mean—you were kissing him!
DON: I was kissing her! I happen to be in love with her.
LINA: That's ridiculous. Everybody knows you're in love with me.
Lina's insistence that what the fan magazines say is true shows the media's powerful, predatory influence on perception.
LINA: "People"? I ain't "people." I am a—(reading from the bogus newspaper interview with R.F.)—"a shimmering, glowing star in the cinema firmament." It says so—right there.
Lina may not know a lot about manners, generosity, or English syntax, but she sure knows how to work the media and deceive the public.
COSMO: Lina, you were fabulous. You sang as good as Kathy Selden.