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Barbara Stanwyck - Star of the Month
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,This Is My Affair

This is My Affair

When Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor costarred in This is My Affair (1937), their real-life affair had been going on for a year, having being introduced by Stanwyck's agent Zeppo Marx. Stanwyck had recently separated from her husband, Frank Fay, and Taylor was one of the rising stars at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He was also four years younger than Stanwyck, whom he called Queen; she called him Junior. MGM had costarred the couple in His Brother's Wife (1936), replacing Jean Harlow with Stanwyck because of their real-life relationship. As a result, 20th Century-Fox wanted to cash in.

Fox had been having trouble casting the film, which had the working titles of Private Enemy and then The McKinley Case . In a July 3, 1936 memo to producer Kenneth Macgowan, Zanuck admitted that the company was making "one of the most stupid mistakes that a producing company can make. We are running around in circles frantically endeavoring to get somebody with a name to play the part of 'Lily' in The McKinley Case and we have right here on the lot a girl who is climbing to stardom so rapidly that we are unable to keep up with the demands of exhibitors in connection with her. I am speaking about Alice Faye." While Faye may have been one of Fox's most popular leading ladies, it was Stanwyck the public wanted to see with Taylor. The film went into production on the 20th Century-Fox lot on February 8, 1937 and wrapped up on March 27th. Also in the cast were Victor McLaglen, Brian Donlevy and John Carradine under the direction of former Keystone Kop William A. Seiter, who had previously directed Fox's child star, Shirley Temple.

According to the Motion Picture Herald , This is My Affair was supposedly based on a short story written by Zanuck under the pseudonym Melville Crossman. However, the official credits go to Allen Rivkin and Lamar Trotti, with Kubec Glasmon, Wallace Sullivan and Zanuck uncredited. The plot involves President William McKinley (Frank Conroy) sending Lt. Perry (Taylor) undercover to investigate a gang of bank robbers who seem to have insider information about passkeys and alarms systems. The Secret Service has not been able to stop the gang and Perry - who changes his name to Joe Patrick - goes to St. Paul to infiltrate and shut them down. The gang is led by Jock Ramsay (McLaglen) and Batiste Duryea (Donlevy). Perry falls for Duryea's sister, Lil (Stanwyck), a saloon singer who wants to stop Perry from being a bank robber.

This is My Affair contained musical numbers, with Stanwyck singing "I Hum a Waltz," by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel. Stanwyck, who was not a trained singer was so nervous about shooting the scene that she refused to allow Taylor to be on the set. This bit of information was only one of the many press releases by Harry Brand, designed to play up the love affair to keep the public interested. When the film was released, the press book given by the studio to exhibitors made several references to Stanwyck and Taylor's status as "real-life sweethearts." However, between the time it was printed and when it was distributed, a directive came down from Fox ordering exhibitors to "[d]elete the phrase "real-life sweethearts" and any similar phase, or any stunts or copy along the same line from all advertising or publicity on This Is My Affair . In utilizing any of the press book materials you will please correct the copy, eliminating the words "real-life sweethearts." Please note that this applies to everything in the press book, publicity copy, ads, exploitation, stunts, etc." Two years later, an article by Sheila Graham entitled "Hollywood's Unmarried Husbands and Wives" lambasted Taylor and Stanwyck (along with Clark Gable and Carole Lombard and other unmarried couples) for essentially "living in sin," and Taylor and Stanwyck were married soon after Graham's article appeared.

Director: William A. Seiter
Screenplay: Allen Rivkin, Lamar Trotti (both story and screenplay), Kubec Glasmon (contributor to screenplay construction, uncredited), Wallace Sullivan (contributor to treatment, uncredited), Darryl F. Zanuck (story, uncredited)
Cinematography: Robert Planck
Art Direction: Rudolph Sternad
Music: Arthur Lange, Charles Maxwell (both uncredited)
Film Editing: Allan McNeil
Cast: Robert Taylor (Lt. Richard L. Perry), Barbara Stanwyck (Lil Duryea), Victor McLaglen (Jock Ramsay), Brian Donlevy (Batiste Duryea), John Carradine (Ed), Douglas Fowley (Alec), Alan Dinehart (Doc Keller), Sig Rumann (Gus), Robert McWade (Admiral Dewey), Sidney Blackmer (President Theodore Roosevelt.
BW-100m.

by Lorraine LoBianco

SOURCES:
Callahan, Dan. Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman
Behlmer, Rudy. Memo from Darryl F. Zanuck: The Golden Years at Twentieth Century Fox
Madsen, Axel. Stanwyck
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