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High, Wide and Handsome

High, Wide and Handsome(1937)

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The opening title card for this film reads "Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's High, Wide and Handsome." Emma S. Hammerstein, Oscar Hammerstein's widow, filed suit against Paramount for using her husband's name in the title frame, alleging it inferred that Oscar Hammerstein was co-author of the story, instead of Oscar Hammerstein II. The New York Supreme Court denied a motion for examination before trial in connection with the suit on April 21, 1938. As reported in Hollywood Reporter on January 11, 1937, the film was shot on location at Chino, CA, with more than 3,000 extras. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, after orchard heater smoke and influenza forced the company to leave location shooting in Chino in mid-January 1937, the company returned February 1, 1937. Hollywood Reporter announced on February 4, 1937 that the film was back into production the previous day for two days' shooting of added scenes with Mitchell Leisen directing, although Leisen is not listed in the onscreen credits or in reviews. According to the Paramount Script Collection at the AMPAS library, George O'Neil wanted sole screenplay credit for the film, but Paramount offered him only "additional dialogue" credit. Under the Code of Practice rule of the Academy Writer-Producer Basic Agreement, O'Neil could not receive onscreen dialogue credit until Paramount assured the Academy that the film was a "musical production." On June 29, 1937, Film Daily announced that the film would not be put into general release following its Astor Theater run in New York until after January 1, 1938, and that it would be road shown in key cities. Motion Picture Herald release charts give a release date of October 1, 1937; it is unclear whether the 1 October date refers to the general release date or merely the roadshow engagements. Exploitation announcements and ads in Motion Picture Herald in December 1937 and January 1938 seem to corroborate that the film was released to smaller theaters in Jan. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Paramount negotiated with educational authorities at various universities to make this film part of the first-year curriculum for petroleum engineering students. Variety called the film "a cross-section of Americana tinged with too much Hollywood hokum." New York Times stated that the film "is not a gingerbread concoction with an overlayer of romantic whipped cream, but a beef and brawn pastry leavened by the Irene Dunne-Dorothy Lamour caroling." Modern sources list William Gilmore Beymer as technical adviser on this film.