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Woman Chases Man

Woman Chases Man(1937)

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teaser Woman Chases Man (1937)

Joel McCrea and Miriam Hopkins had co-starred in four films by 1936 and the Samuel Goldwyn Studios hoped to capitalize on the couple's growing popularity. The next vehicle Goldwyn chose for them was Woman Chases Man (1937). Goldwyn was more than just the titular head of the studio. His word was law. If he wanted a film made, it would be made despite what anyone else thought. Often Goldwyn's instincts were good. Many times he would take a chance on a director or writer or even a screenplay if he thought it had potential. After all the fuss he had to go through to get Woman Chases Man made, the results proved that even Goldwyn could be wrong.

From the very beginning, Sam Goldwyn had a battle on his hands. It seemed that no one wanted anything to do with the picture. The problems started with Ben Hecht, the highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood at the time, who had written a screenplay draft in 1934 that Goldwyn hated. He then dismissed Hecht and hired the Spewacks, the husband and wife screenwriting team. As TIME Magazine, in its May 1937 review of Woman Chases Man, related, things went from bad to worse. "Screenwriters Samuel & Bella Spewack (Boy Meets Girl, 1938) wrote a script and, after reading it, begged Producer Goldwyn to take their names off it, [and] returned the money he had paid them." Director William Wyler, who had been given a vacation with all expenses paid, returned to Goldwyn $25,000 advanced to him in salary and expense money to be let off directing it. Miriam Hopkins offered to pay anything in reason not to star in it, at length agreed to give in and work if Goldwyn got Gregory La Cava [who had just made My Man Godfrey (1936) and knew a thing or two about screwball comedies] to direct. Goldwyn got La Cava, but after reading the script La Cava left the lot. Andrea Leeds, a bit player, announced that she would rather starve than play the minor role for which she had been cast. Soon thereafter a large part of the Goldwyn organization filed into the boss's office, begged through a spokesman that he drop the picture. Goldwyn ignored them, had a new script written by Joseph Anthony, Manuel Seff and David Hertz [also uncredited on the script was Dorothy Parker and her husband Alan Campbell], hired John Blystone to direct, changed the title from Princess and Pauper to The Woman's Touch and finally to the present one. Commenting on these facts, Hollywood Reporter, a cinema trade daily, said: "Sam Goldwyn never has an easy time with any of his endeavors because he goes at them the hard way."

The plot of Woman Chases Man was fairly straight-forward, if a screwball comedy can be said to be straight-forward: a female architect (Hopkins) needs to raise enough money to build a housing complex. She goes after millionaire Joel McCrea who is frugal when sober and a spendthrift when drunk (which apparently happens if he has even a drop of alcohol).

TIME went on to wonder, after having viewed the film, what the fuss was all about. "What, after viewing the results of these endeavors, astounded those who knew the picture's history was not Mr. Goldwyn's superior foresight but the fact that anybody should be moved either to violent objection to the material in hand or to stubborn faith in it. Woman Chases Man is a haywire story made in the mold of the current vogue for haywire stories. After wavering on the fringes of light comedy for a little while, it sheds its inhibitions and goes whole hog into farce."

Variety was less kind in its review, describing the reaction of the preview audience, which would presage the general audience at the film's release: "The Radio City Music hall first night audience laughed with approval of this picture for the first three-quarters of its running, and then the giggles stopped. Laughs ceased when the action on the screen became so insanely illogical, and dull, that the amazed disappointment of the house expressed itself in chilly silence. It sums up as just a fair feature."

Producer: Samuel Goldwyn, George Haight
Director: John Blystone
Screenplay: Lynn Root, Frank Fenton, Joseph Anthony, Manuel Seff, David Hertz
Cinematography: Gregg Toland
Film Editing: Daniel Mandell
Art Direction: Richard Day
Music: Alfred Newman
Cast: Miriam Hopkins (Virginia Travis), Joel McCrea (Kenneth Nolan), Charles Winninger (B.J. Nolan), Erik Rhodes (Henri Saffron), Ella Logan (Judy), Leona Maricle (Nina Tennyson).
BW-70m.

by Lorraine LoBianco

SOURCES:
TIME Magazine May 31, 1937
Variety film review from 1937
TVGuide.com
The Internet Movie Database.

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