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Among the screenplays written by Sidney Sheldon during his tenure at MGM as a screenwriter (1948-53) was Just This Once (1952), developed from a story by Max Trell. The romantic comedy was directed by Don Weis, with studio contract players Peter Lawford and Janet Leigh in the leads.
By this time, Lawford had patented the role of the spoiled yet charming playboy who needs to be taught to face up to his responsibilities. Leigh is a comely lawyer who takes on that assignment in the film after being hired by a judge (Lewis Stone) who is Lawford's fund trustee and has placed him on a strict budget. The catch is that, in order to closely oversee Lawford's spending, Leigh must move in with him. Despite the fact that she already has a very frugal boyfriend (Richard Anderson), the lawyer finds herself falling for the playboy.
Sheldon, born in Chicago in 1917, had begun in films as a $24-a-week script reader for Universal. He moved on to New York and writing for the stage, and by age 25 had three musical hits running simultaneously on Broadway: The Merry Widow, Jackpot and Dream With Music. He would later, with his collaborators, win a Tony Award for the book of Redhead, starring Gwen Verdon.
Sheldon returned to films with a bang, winning an Oscar® for his screenplay for The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947), starring Cary Grant. He has written or contributed to more than 20 film scripts, including such MGM hits as Easter Parade (1948), The Barkleys of Broadway (1949), Annie Get Your Gun (1950) and Dream Wife (1953), which he also directed. He later moved to Paramount, where his screenplays included The Buster Keaton Story (1957), which he also produced and directed.
In addition to his films and his remarkable success as a novelist (18 titles which have sold more than 300 million copies), the prolific Sheldon has written more than 200 TV scripts and created the series I Dream of Jeannie and Hart to Hart. Among movies adapted from his novels are The Other Side of Midnight (1977), Bloodline (1979) and The Naked Face (1984).
Producer: Henry Berman
Director: Don Weis
Screenplay: Sidney Sheldon, from story by Max Trell
Cinematography: Ray June
Art Direction: James Basevi, Cedric Gibbons
Original Music: David Rose
Editing: Fredrick Y. Smith
Principal Cast: Janet Leigh (Lucille Duncan), Peter Lawford (Mark MacLene IV), Lewis Stone (Judge Samuel Coulter), Marilyn Erskine (Gertrude Crome), Richard Anderson (Tom Winters).
by Roger Fristoe