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Frenchman's Creek

Frenchman's Creek(1944)

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According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the APMAS Library, beginning in 1941, various producers, including David O. Selznick and Louis B. Mayer, submitted Daphne Du Maurier's novel, Frenchman's Creek, to the PCA for story approval. However, the PCA continually rejected the story because it concerned "adultery and illicit love without compensating moral values." Paramount, however, persevered despite changes demanded by the PCA, including the following: "Having in mind that Dona is a married woman, and the mother of two children, we shall have to insist that there be no physical contact between her and the Frenchman....Somewhere along the line, it will be necessary for you to get from Dona an affirmative, direct statement, delivered convincingly, that there has been no immoral relationship between her and the Frenchman." At the close of the film, when "Dona" is forced to choose between returning to her husband or leaving with the pirate, "The Frenchman" tells her, "Of course, if you choose to stay in England, there is nothing that has happened between us that would make your marriage a pretense."
       According to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, David O. Selznick suggested that Paramount use Stanley Cortez as photographer; however, George Barnes was assigned. Information in the Paramount Collection also revealed that Sir Cedric Hardwicke was originally cast as "William," and worked for several weeks on the film, and that Doris Lloyd was initially cast as "Lady Godolphin." News items reveal that leading actresses considered for the role of "Dona" were Merle Oberon, Irene Dunne, Vivien Leigh, Rosalind Russell and Katina Paxinou, and that Charles Boyer was considered for the male lead. Nigel Bruce was loaned by Universal Pictures, Harald Ramond was loaned by Charles Rogers Productions, and Basil Rathbone was loaned by M-G-M for this film.
       Frenchman's Creek was shot on location in Mendocino County, CA, at Albion Creek and Mallory's Cove. In her autobiography, Joan Fontaine notes that she was put on suspension at Selznick Productions because she initially refused to accept this role. The film's final cost was approximately $3,800,000, according to New York Times. The Variety review claims this budget was Paramount's biggest "in history." The Tidings, a weekly Catholic newspaper, called the screenplay "the most immoral...of the year." Frenchman's Creek won an Academy Award for Art Direction/Interior Decoration (color), Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegt/Sam Comer. Du Maurier's novel was filmed again in 1998, as a British telefilm starring Tara Fitzgerald and Anthony Delon; this version was first broadcast in the U.S. on April 25, 1999.