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Fanny(1961)

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teaser Fanny (1961)

SYNOPSIS

A waterfront waif, Fanny, loves the young Marius, but doesn't stand between him and his dream of going to sea. Once he leaves, however, she finds herself pregnant, setting the stage for a marriage of convenience with Panisse, an old businessman and the best friend of Marius' father, Csar. When Marius returns from sea years later, he fights to win back the family he never knew he had.

Producer-Director: Joshua Logan
Screenplay: Julius J. Epstein
From the play by Logan and S.N. Behrman, based on the play Fanny and the Marseilles Trilogy by Marcel PagnolCinematography: Jack Cardiff
Editing: William Reynolds
Art Direction: Rino Mondellini
Music: Harold Rome, Morris Stoloff, Harry Sukman
Cast: Leslie Caron (Fanny), Maurice Chevalier (Panisse), Charles Boyer (Cesar), Horst Buchholz (Marius), Salvatore Baccaloni (Escartifique), Lionel Jeffries (Monsier Brun), Victor Francen (Louis Panisse), Georgette Anys (Honorine).
C-133m.

Why FANNY is EssentialAlthough it received mixed reviews on its original release in 1961, Fanny has grown in popularity among director Joshua Logan's fans, many of whom have hailed it as his best film.

The film's enduring romantic allure is partly due to the stunning setting, shot on location in the Marseille region of France, and the charismatic pairing of French actress Leslie Caron and German star Horst Buchholz, who were at the height of their international popularity.

Fanny has become one of the most sought-after of Logan's films since it is not currently available on DVD. It usually turns up on cable in a pan-and-scan version that does not do justice to Jack Cardiff's Oscar®-nominated cinematography.

Fanny marks the only on-screen pairing of the screen's most famous French lovers, Charles Boyer and Maurice Chevalier. Since the two lifelong friends had risen to stardom making different types of pictures -- Boyer in character-driven comedies and dramas and Chevalier in light-hearted musicals -- they were not able to work together until they started playing character roles.

Fanny helped Leslie Caron move into adult rules after her very popular, waif-like performances in Lili (1953) and Gigi (1958). It also pointed the way to her more mature work, particularly as the unwed mother in The L-Shaped Room (1962).

by Frank Miller

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teaser Fanny (1961)

Maurice Chevalier and Georgette Anys would be reunited in the 1962 romance Jessica, while she and Charles Boyer would both appear in the 1963 comedy Love Is a Ball.

MGM bought the rights to Pagnol's Marius and Fanny, which they combined in a highly bowdlerized version called Port of Seven Seas (1938). Wallace Beery played Cesar, with Maureen O'Sullivan as the Fanny character (her name was changed to Madelon), Frank Morgan as Panisse and John Beal as Marius. Preston Sturges wrote the script, with James Whale directing.

Marcel Pagnol's trilogy would be remade for French television in 2000, while Marius would turn up in a new German television version a year later.

Fanny is scheduled for DVD release in June 2008. The package will include a newsreel and film previews from 1961.

Fanny would inspire an Italian remake in 1933 and a 1959 Belgian television drama.

Marius would be remade in Japan in 1942 and 1949.

by Frank Miller

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teaser Fanny (1961)

Shooting Joshua Logan's English-language film on French locations proved confusing to at least one local. A Frenchwoman saw the sign over Chevalier's shop reading "Panisse & Son" and wrongly read it as "Panisse and His," wondering why they hadn't finished the sign.

Marcel Pagnol visited the set to watch the filming of Marius' departure on the Mailaisie.

During the filming of Fanny, Logan and his wife visited businessman George Schlee and Greta Garbo at the house he shared with her at Cap d'Ail.

Because Boyer had not made a film in three years, he received third billing, behind Chevalier and Caron, who had scored a big hit together in 1958's Gigi.

The running times of the original films in the trilogy are Marius, 121 minutes; Fanny, 125 minutes; and Csar, 124 minutes. By contrast, the remake runs 133 minutes, with less than an hour spent on the plots of the first two films and less than half an hour on the third.

Fanny brought in $4.5 million at the box office, placing it in a three way tie with Come September and North to Alaska as the 11th highest grossing film of the year.

Fanny entered the awards season with major buzz around it, and Maurice Chevalier, in his first non-singing role in an American film, was considered a front-runner in the Best Actor race.

The one market where the Pagnol trilogy failed was New York, where the films were shown without English subtitles in 1938 and quickly faded from the screen.

In 1948, the Pagnol trilogy was re-released in New York City, this time with subtitles. In the wake of a surge of interest in European films since World War II, they became big hits on the art house circuit.

Pagnol's films, which also include Harvest (1937) and The Baker's Wife (1938), would later be hailed by Vittorio de Sica and Roberto Rossellini for their local color and non-judgmental presentation of realistic characters. The Italian directors would even label them the first "neorealist" films.

Taglines promoted Fanny's romantic element: "Reserve your deepest emotions...your sweetest tears and your warmest smiles for Fanny," "Fanny is Life. Fanny is Love" and "Fanny is all the love stories of the world rolled into one."

Original plans to bill the picture as "Joshua Logan's Fanny" were scrapped when members of the press pointed out the phrase's double meaning.

During the Oscar® race and awards season, Chevalier's agent took out a trade ad touting his client's first dramatic performance in a U.S. film: "Introducing a new young dramatic star - Maurice Chevalier."

Memorable Quotes from FANNY

"You know, I always tell you that you have ruined my life, but..." -- Charles Boyer, as Csar, saying goodbye to his son Marius (Horst Buchholz).

"Were you lying to me last night?"
"No, I wasn't lying to you."
"Then, you're lying to me now."
"Oh, God help me!" -- Buchholz, as Marius, quarreling with Leslie Caron, as Fanny.

"I saw that look in his eye. It was as close to passion as you can expect from a man of his age." -- Georgette Anys, as Honorine, advising her daughter -- Caron, as Fanny -- to marry Maurice Chevalier, as Panisse.

"You're a mad dog, and you ought to be shot."
"This is the gun. Shoot!" -- Boyer, as Csar, quarreling with Chevalier, as Panisse, about his marriage to Caron.

"Volcanic ash." -- Buchholz, describing the reality of the tropical islands of which he had once dreamed.

"Love is like cigarette smoke. It doesn't weigh very much. It takes a lot of love to make 23 pounds." -- Boyer, explaining Chevalier's love for his adopted son, Cesario (Joel Flateau).

"The one who gives the love, he is the father." -- Boyer, settling the issue of Cesario's (Flateau) parentage.

"If I ask your daughter to marry me, it won't be because of your threats, but because I love her."
"If? If? What do you mean, 'If!' -- Buchholz, asking Anys, as Honorine, for Caron's hand.

Compiled by Frank Miller

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teaser Fanny (1961)

The characters in Fanny appeared in French writer Marcel Pagnol's 1929 play Marius, which would be followed by Fanny in 1931. Both drew on his memories of growing up in Marseilles, where they are set.

Marius reached Broadway as Marseilles, an adaptation by Sidney Howard directed by Gilbert Miller. Dudley Digges starred as Cesar, with Guy Kibbee as Panisse, Frances Torchiana as Fanny, Alexander Kirkland as Marius and Alison Skipworth as Fanny's mother, Honorine. The production only lasted 16 performances.

Marius and Fanny were so popular Pagnol brought them to the screen, with Alexander Korda directing the first in 1931 and Marc Allgret directing the second a year later. Both starred Raimu as Csar, Pierre Fresnay as Marius, Pagnol's mistress Orane Demazis as Fanny and Fernand Charpin as Panisse. Both proved to be great hits in the international market.

In 1936, Pagnol turned the films into a trilogy with Csar, directing and writing the new film, in which the stars repeated their roles. The three films have come to be referred to as The Marseilles Trilogy, The Fanny Trilogy or simply The Trilogy. The stage version of Csar would debut in 1946.

Lawyer David Merrick had long dreamed of becoming a Broadway producer. After a few flops, he bought the stage rights to the trilogy for $30,000 and interested director Josh Logan in adapting it as a musical. They first tried to get Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein to do the score, with Hammerstein also writing the book. The pair was interested, but wanted sole producing credit. When Merrick asked for the line "In association with David Merrick" below the title, they withdrew. Shortly before his death, Hammerstein admitted to Logan that he should have done the show no matter how the credits read.

Merrick eventually hired noted playwright S.N. Behrman to collaborate with Logan on the book and Harold Rome to write the score for the stage production.

The musical, titled Fanny, opened on Broadway in 1954. Ezio Pinza starred as Csar, with Walter Slezak as Panisse, Florence Henderson a Fanny and William Tabbert as Marius. The show was a major hit, running 888 performances and bringing Slezak the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.

The musical's success inspired Logan, who moved into film directing in 1955 with Picnic, to propose a film version to Jack Warner, offering to direct and produce the film if Warner would let him shoot it in Marseilles. In picking up the film rights, Warner also withdrew the original Pagnol trilogy from exhibition for decades.

Julius J. Epstein was the only writer Logan considered. They had worked together well on the 1960 comedy Tall Story, but the writer turned him down, claiming that he didn't believe Marius would go away to sea at the story's start. After lengthy discussions, they agreed they could motivate his departure by having him leave to get away from his father.

Logan and Epstein returned to Pagnol's original film scripts for inspiration, but kept the ending from his stage version. Where Marius and Fanny's son had been a young adult in the original Csar, he is still a child in the re-make. More important, Pagnol had killed Panisse at the start of the third film, which Logan felt had robbed it of suspense. Instead, Logan and Behrman had kept Panisse alive so that, on his deathbed, he could work out the reconciliation between Fanny and Marius.

One crucial decision was Warner's decree that they not make Fanny as a musical on the grounds that musicals were losing money at the time. Although portions of Rome's score were used on the soundtrack, the film itself was a straight comedy-drama. Ironically, the year Fanny opened, one of the biggest moneymakers was the musical West Side Story (1961).

The decision to make Fanny as a straight comedy-drama opened up one casting choice. Logan had approached Charles Boyer about playing Csar, but that actor had initially refused, stating that he did not sing and would not lip sync to another's voice. When Warner Bros. dropped the musical numbers, he agreed to play the role.

Even without the music, Logan stuck to one of his first choices and cast Maurice Chevalier as Panisse. He and Boyer were old friends, so they were delighted to be working together for the first time.

Although he was a German actor, Horst Buchholz was the first choice to play Marius because Logan had been impressed by his performance as a sailor in Tiger Bay (1959). When Logan announced the casting, the French press was appalled, but Buchholz won the reporters over at a news conference.

Logan had a verbal agreement from Audrey Hepburn to play Fanny but other commitments prevented her from doing it. He then courted Leslie Caron, who had scored a hit with Chevalier in Gigi (1958). She was hesitant at first, convinced that the French would hate the film on principle because it was being made in English. She was so moved by the script, however, and eager to work with Boyer, Chevalier and Buchholz, that she agreed three weeks before the start date.

A British actress had been cast as Fanny's mother, Honorine, but during costume tests, Logan realized that she was too ladylike for the role. He paid off her contract and offered the role to French actress Georgette Anys, who had been cast as the woman's assistant. Her only problem was that she barely spoke English. When Logan asked if she could learn the role phonetically, she said, "I could do anything for a good part" (from Movie Stars, Real People and Me).

by Frank Miller

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teaser Fanny (1961)

The east side of the port at Marseilles had not been touched in decades, making it a perfect location for a period film like Fanny. But the west side had been rebuilt after World War II. Originally, art director Rino Mondellini got permission from the mayor to put false fronts on the new buildings. When he started drilling holes in the sidewalk for the posts that would support the facades, however, the townspeople objected, and the mayor rescinded his permission. Mondellini called the eighteen holes he had already made "The most expensive golf course in the world" (from Movie Stars, Real People and Me).

Since Logan couldn't shoot the waterfront scenes from just one side, Mondellini found a nearby town, Cassis, with a port that was unchanged since the '30s. This required Logan to shoot from one angle in Marseilles, then re-take the scene from the reverse angle in Cassis. For scenes set in front of the bar, they had to do a third take on a studio set in Paris.

Logan had helicopter shots of the port taken for Fanny's opening and for the scenes of Marius sailing off to sea. When that footage proved to be too jerky, he had the scenes re-shot from a small airplane.

At one point Logan spotted a group of old women wearing ancient black dresses in Cassis and convinced them to be in the film as extras.

Logan had trouble finding a suitable ship for the Mailaisie, on which Marius sails from Marseilles. The only square-rigged sailing ships they could find were too large to get through Marseilles' harbor. After scouting throughout the Mediterranean they found the perfect ship in Palma, but had to agree to let its captain appear on camera before he would let them use it.

When shooting moved to a film studio in Paris, studio head Jack Warner got cold feet about his decision to cut the original musical's songs, and ordered Logan to shoot two of Panisse's numbers in case they decided to use them. Chevalier performed his first number perfectly, but when Logan tried cutting it into the film, he realized it wouldn't work. When he told Chevalier, the singer was relieved. He had wanted Fanny to be his first non-singing role in English.

As Fanny neared completion, art house cinemas began advertising screenings of the original films as the last chance for their fans to see them, since Warner Bros. had bought all the rights to the original films. This did little to endear the remake to critics who revered the originals.

by Frank Miller

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teaser Fanny (1961)

AWARDS & HONORS

Fanny was listed among the year's ten best in The New York Times and placed tenth in the National Board of Review's. rankings.

The film picked up four Golden Globe nominations -- Best Motion Picture - Drama; Best Motion Picture Actor - Drama (Chevalier), Best Motion Picture Actress - Drama (Leslie Caron) and Best Motion Picture Score (Harold Rome). It lost in all four categories.

Fanny also picked up nominations from the Directors and Writers Guilds.

The Oscar® nominations proved to be a major letdown for the cast and crew of Fanny. Although the film picked up five nominations, including Best Actor, the nominee for that award was Charles Boyer, not Chevalier. The other nominations were for Best Picture, Cinematography, Film Editing and Score (with the credited Morris Stoloff and Harry Sukman listed). It lost in every category.

THE CRITICS' CORNER - FANNY (1961)

"Through Logan's delicate direction, the combination of profoundly touching pathos and lusty sense of humor is blended into a film rich in humanity and pictorial beauty, though perhaps not quite so spontaneously merry and charmingly supple as the superb trilogy that preceded it by so many yeas."
- Tube., Variety

"We can all breathe more easily this morning -- more easily and joyously, too -- because Joshua Logan has turned the stage show, Fanny, into a delightful and heart-warming film....For Mr. Logan, with the aid of expert craftsmen and a cast of principals that we do not believe an act of divine cooperation could have greatly improved upon, has given the charming Marseilles folk play a stunning pictorial sweep, a deliciously atmospheric flavor and a flesh-touching intimacy."
- Bosley Crowther, The New York Times

"It's always a pleasure to watch Chevalier work, especially in a straight role without songs. And to watch Leslie Caron, who is maturing in an intelligent way, and one which augurs well for her professional future. Boyer, of course, suffers in comparison with Raimu, but it should be remembered that his part was cut to nothing (the present script is by Julius J. Epstein, and the decision to minimize Csar's role was Logan's). As for Logan's direction, it is, shall we say, non-Gallic."
- Norman Cecil, Films in Review

"There is usually, even in the worst film, something one can say in mitigation but, rack my brains as I will, I can find nothing of merit in this mutilation of the work of one of my least favourite French producer-directors."
- Richard Whitehall, Films and Filming

"Curious adaptation of the 1954 Broadway musical (book by SN Behrman and Logan) which cavalierly cut out the excellent Harold Rome score, leaving only the title song for background orchestrations. What's left, clumsily compressed from Pagnol's Marseilles trilogy so as to play up the romantic complications, is both dire and dull. Jack Cardiff's pretty Technicolor photography is some compensation."
Tom Milne, TimeOut Film Guide

"Gorgeously photographed and beautifully scored dramatic version of Marcel Pagnol's trilogy....Chevalier and Boyer give flavorful performances."
- Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide

"Lumbering adaptation of three Pagnol films of the thirties...and later as a Broadway musical. This is the dullest version despite fine photography and a couple of good performances."
- Halliwell's Film & Video Guide

"Any attempt at reproducing the original in another language must have been doubtful of success: Logan's film lacks conviction even within its own terms."
- The Oxford Companion to Film

Compiled by Frank Miller

back to top
teaser Fanny (1961)

A waterfront waif, Fanny, loves the young Marius, but doesn't stand between him and his dream of going to sea. Once he leaves, however, she finds herself pregnant, setting the stage for a marriage of convenience with Panisse, an old businessman and the best friend of Marius' father, Csar. When Marius returns from sea years later, he fights to win back the family he never knew he had.

Although it received mixed reviews on its original release in 1961, Fanny has grown in popularity among director Joshua Logan's fans, many of whom have hailed it as his best film. The film's enduring romantic allure is partly due to the stunning setting, shot on location in the Marseille region of France, and the charismatic pairing of French actress Leslie Caron and German star Horst Buchholz, who were at the height of their international popularity.

Fanny marks the only on-screen pairing of the screen's most famous French lovers, Charles Boyer and Maurice Chevalier. Since the two lifelong friends had risen to stardom making different types of pictures -- Boyer in character-driven comedies and dramas and Chevalier in light-hearted musicals -- they were not able to work together until they started playing character roles.

Fanny helped Leslie Caron move into adult rules after her very popular, waif-like performances in Lili (1953) and Gigi (1958). It also pointed the way to her more mature work, particularly as the unwed mother in The L-Shaped Room (1962).

Fanny has become one of the most sought-after of Logan's films since it is not currently available on DVD. It usually turns up on cable in a pan-and-scan version that does not do justice to Jack Cardiff's Oscar®-nominated cinematography.

Producer-Director: Joshua Logan
Screenplay: Julius J. Epstein
From the play by Logan and S.N. Behrman, based on the play Fanny and the Marseilles Trilogy by Marcel PagnolCinematography: Jack Cardiff
Editing: William Reynolds
Art Direction: Rino Mondellini
Music: Harold Rome, Morris Stoloff, Harry Sukman
Cast: Leslie Caron (Fanny), Maurice Chevalier (Panisse), Charles Boyer (Cesar), Horst Buchholz (Marius), Salvatore Baccaloni (Escartifique), Lionel Jeffries (Monsier Brun), Victor Francen (Louis Panisse), Georgette Anys (Honorine).
C-133m.

by Frank Miller

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