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Today We Live

Today We Live(1933)

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The working titles of this film were We Live Again and Turn About. M-G-M borrowed Gary Cooper from Paramount for the production. Today We Live was the first film on which director Howard Hawks and writer William Faulkner collaborated. A November 1932 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Phillips Holmes was to co-star with Joan Crawford. Charles "Buddy" Rogers was then announced as a possible co-star in early December 1932. According to a mid-December Hollywood Reporter news item, M-G-M did not begin negotiating for Gary Cooper until two weeks after production was scheduled to start. These news items conflict with some modern sources, which state that Cooper, Robert Young and Franchot Tone had been selected by Hawks before Crawford was approached with the script. According to International Photographer, photographer Elmer Dyer spent several weeks filming the aerial sequences for the film at March Field in California. Modern sources note that General Douglas MacArthur reserved the field for the studio's use. In its review, Variety claims that Hawks used footage from Howard Hughes's 1930 production Hell's Angels in this film, in particular the "sequence of the big bomber expedition" and the "main 'dog-fight' and the head-on collision of two planes." Daily Variety gives a preview running time of 135 minutes, indicating that substantial footage was deleted before the general release.
       Modern sources add the following information about the production: After Faulkner's first six-week contract with M-G-M ended, Hawks insisted that the studio re-sign the writer and allow the two of them to develop Faulkner's short story "Turn About" for the screen. In early July 1932, Faulkner wrote a screen treatment of his story, which Hawks then presented to M-G-M production head Irving Thalberg. Although Thalberg approved the treatment, which was strictly a three-man war drama, other studio executives insisted that the story be rewritten to accommodate Crawford, whom they needed to put into a new picture to fulfill a $500,000 contractual obligation. Faulkner complied with the studio's demands and wrote, on instruction from Hawks, a complete first draft of a screenplay (his first), creating the character of "Ann." Although Crawford at first resisted being cast in the all-male picture, she finally accepted the assignment and insisted that Faulkner write her dialogue in the same clipped manner as the male characters'. Faulkner turned in his first draft, which he signed with both his and Hawks's names, at the end of August 1932. In Faulkner's original draft, "Ronnie," "Ann" and "Claude" are first presented as children and then are seen as adolescents. Because the child actors who were to play the threesome could not master British accents, Hawks decided to delete the childhood scenes from the script and hired Edith Fitzgerald and Dwight Taylor to replace Faulkner, who was in Mississippi, and write a second draft. Fitzgerald and Taylor then deleted the adolescent scenes and completely rewrote most of the first half of the script. Faulkner was called in later to revise the final script and added one scene. According to her autobiography, Joan Crawford met Franchot Tone, her second husband, during this production. The couple married in 1935 and divorced in 1939.