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Face to Face

Face to Face(1952)

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As noted in the above credits and summary, Face to Face is comprised of two short films, The Secret Sharer and The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky. According to contemporary sources, RKO also distributed the short films separately, under their individual titles. The viewed print did not include title cards or other credits for the composite picture, Face to Face, but did include complete credits for each short. The above credits were taken from a cutting continuity of the composite film, deposited with the Copyright Office. Credits unique to each segment include the appropriate title; credits common to both appear without a specific title. Photographers Karl Struss and George Diskant and music composer Hugo Friedhofer did not receive onscreen credit in either the viewed print or the cutting continuity.
       Opening credits in the cutting continuity include the following spoken foreword: "Face to face, from the stories you are about to see, The Secret Sharer and The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, two strong men stand afloat. In The Secret Sharer these two men are from the distant corners of the world and as you first view them upon the screen-in the words of Kipling-they well come to mind...'But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth when two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!'" The Kipling quotation was taken from his poem "The Ballad of East and West."
       Contemporary news items indicate that Face to Face was originally conceived as a three-part television show and was shot in 16mm at the KTTV Studios in Hollywood. The third segment, which was actually filmed first but not included, was based on the William Saroyan short story "Hello Out There." That segment marked the final motion picture directing assignment of James Whale, who had not worked on a narrative film since the 1941 Columbia picture They Dare Not Love. Hello Out There starred Henry Morgan and Marjorie Steele in the leads. Modern sources note that Karl Struss shot the short, probably in early 1950, and Whale himself designed the single jail set. According to modern sources, Whale had directed a stage version of "Hello Out There" for World War II servicemen, and Morgan, who played "Roustabout," a man in jail for rape, reprised his stage role for the film. The completed segment, which ran between 32 and 41 minutes, was screened for Saroyan and other luminaries, but producer Huntington Hartford, who was married to Steele, disliked her performance and refused to release it, according to modern sources. According to an April 1950 Los Angeles Examiner item, after the completion of Hello Out There, Hartford considered adapting "The Open Window," a short story by Scottish author "Saki," along with Conrad's story. John Huston was announced as the probable director of The Secret Sharer at that time. In late May 1950, however, Hollywood Reporter announced Mel Ferrer as a possible director of The Secret Sharer, and noted that Ernest Hemingway's story "Men Without Women" was being considered for the third segment.
       According to reviews, Hartford, the scion of the A&P grocery store chain family, provided complete financing for the picture through Theasquare Productions. Hartford previously had produced two 1949 United Artists' releases, Africa Screams and Mrs. Mike (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). Although onscreen credits and reviews suggest that Steele made her screen acting debut in Face to Face, she had previously starred in the 1949 Lippert production Tough Assignment (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). According to a November 1952 New York Times item, RKO decided to release the work two ways after exhibitor screenings indicated that each sequence had enough popular appeal to stand alone. In Los Angeles, the composite film opened on February 5, 1953. A separate run for The Secret Sharer began in Los Angeles on March 20, 1953, and The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky opened on March 27, 1953. All theatrical prints were blown up to 35mm.
       In May 1952, Hollywood Reporter announced that Hartford and Hungarian producer Alexander Paal had arranged to make a three-episode feature, tentatively titled Hello Out There, which would include one American, one English and one Italian story about jail life. The American story was to be the previously discarded Saroyan segment. The British episode, Sir Bryan Takes a Holiday, was to star Cecil Parker, and the Italian, Farewell Dinner, was to star Aldo Fabrizi. Both episodes were to be shot in England. No further information about the production of the feature Hello Out There has been found, however. Whale died in 1957; Hello Out There was his last film. In 1967, Roger Nixon and Ray West wrote the opera The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, which was also based on Crane's short story.