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Back Street

Back Street(1941)

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The film's opeing credits read: "Fannie Hurst's Back Street." This was the first film to be produced by Bruce Manning, who was previously a writer at Universal. Hollywood Reporter stated in October 1940 that director Robert Stevenson was loaned by David O. Selznick to Universal for this film. Los Angeles Examiner reported in October 1940 that Joan Fontaine had agreed to play the role of "Ray Smith" prior to the casting of Margaret Sullavan, but "walked out on her agreement." According to Universal press materials, two of Barney Oldfield's racing cars were used in the Vanderbilt Cup sequence, a 1909 six-cylinder Stearns and a 1912 four-cylinder, sixteen-valve Prince Henry Benz. Hollywood Reporter reported that Mr. Oldfield, a winner of the 1907 Vanderbilt Cup, worked on the film as a technical advisor for this sequence. Press materials further state that eighty per cent of this film was shot with a state-of-the-art thirty-foot camera boom.
       The film's premiere was held on February 4, 1941 at the Lincoln Theatre in Miami, FL, with the overflow crowd being diverted into the nearby Game and Surf theaters. Such Universal stars as Deanna Durbin attended the premiere. Hollywood Reporter reported in mid-March 1941 that the film was being considered a "huge hit" by Universal, and was being held over at twenty-six of fifty key engagements. Margaret Sullavan, Charles Boyer and director William Seiter would worked together again in 1941 on the Universal film Appointment for Love (see entry above). Costume designer Jean Louis received an Academy Award nomination for his work on the picture.
       The Fannie Hurst novel was first filmed as Back Street by Universal in 1932, starring John Boles and Irene Dunne and directed by John Stahl (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films; 1931-40; F3.0211); Universal adapted the novel for a third time in 1961, again with the same title, starring Susan Hayward and John Gavin and directed by David Miller (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films; 1961-70; F6.0257).