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Star of the Month: Dick Powell
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Hearts Divided

Hearts Divided

Hearts Divided (1936) was the second film Marion Davies' made at Warner Bros. after a decade at MGM. It was also her second film with favorite leading man Dick Powell. Davies, who had first been teamed with Powell in Page Miss Glory (1935), requested him for her co-star in Hearts Divided. Rumor has it Davies developed a serious crush on Powell. But Powell, fearing career ending retribution from Davies' long time love, William Randolph Hearst, shied away from any relationship. But even those who knew them best were never sure about the Davies-Powell connection. June Allyson, who was married to Dick Powell from 1945 until his death in 1963, later said, "he might have had an affair with her years before he knew me...what happened before me was none of my business and I never asked too many questions."

The film Hearts Divided had been made once before in 1928 with Dolores Costello and Conrad Nagel. It was adapted from a stage play called Glorious Betty. But the actual plot of Hearts Divided is based on a true story. Jerome Bonaparte, the youngest brother of Napoleon and officer in the French Navy, was sent by his brother to the US as a good will ambassador in 1803. While in America, Jerome met and fell in love with the daughter of a Baltimore banker, Elizabeth Patterson. Jerome married Elizabeth against the wishes of his brother, only to have Napoleon annul the marriage three years later. Despite his having a child from the marriage to Elizabeth, Napoleon then forced Jerome to marry Katharina of Wurtemberg, making Jerome king of the conquered German territory of Westphalia.

Luckily, Hollywood treats the lovers Betsy and Jerome with a little more compassion. The couple is even granted a second chance at happiness by Claude Rains' Napoleon. And in real life, Davies and Powell's friendship would continue with Powell making a third film for Hearst's company (without Marion), the popular Shipmates Forever (1935).

Director: Frank Borzage
Producer: Harry Joe Brown, Marion Davies
Screenplay: Laird Doyle, Casey Robinson, Rida Johnson Young (play)
Cinematography: George J. Folsey
Music: Al Dubin, Harry Warren
Art Direction: Robert M. Hass
Cast: Marion Davies (Betsy Patterson), Dick Powell (Captain Jerome Bonaparte), Charles Ruggles (Senator Henry Ruggles), Claude Rains (Napoleon Bonaparte), Edward Everett Horton (Senator John Hathaway), Arthur Treacher (Sir Harry).

by Stephanie Thames



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