Cast & Crew
In 1916, while England is deep in war with Germany, wealthy American Richard Bogard buys an estate in Kent and displaces its longtime occupant, Diana "Ann" Boyce-Smith. Although she has just learned that her father has been killed in action, Ann treats Bogard with brave graciousness and moves to the guest cottage without complaint. She then prepares to say goodbye to her brother Ronnie and childhood friend and neighbor, Claude Hope, both newly trained naval officers on their way to France. Before he leaves, however, Claude, who has loved Ann for years, proposes a postwar marriage, and she happily accepts. Soon after Claude and Ronnie's departure, Bogard accompanies Ann on a bicycle ride and tells her that he has enlisted in the Royal Air Force. Unaware of Ann's engagement to Claude, Bogard then confesses his love, and she finally admits that she, too, is in love. To Bogard's dismay, however, Ann leaves suddenly for a seaport in France, where she meets up with Claude and Ronnie and volunteers for the ambulance corps.
Once alone with Ronnie, Ann confesses her love of Bogard, but although Ronnie advises her to tell Claude the truth, she insists on keeping her marriage pledge. Later, Ronnie shows Ann an official notice in which Bogard is listed as a casualty of a training accident. Ann quietly mourns for her dead lover, then assures a frightened, drunk Claude, who is about to leave on a particularly dangerous assignment, that she will "be there" for him when he returns. While Claude and Ann move in together with Ronnie's blessing, Bogard, who actually recovered from his accident injuries, returns to Kent and learns of Ann's general whereabouts. Bogard finally finds Ann in a military hospital, but after a brief, tearful reunion, she runs away without explanation.
That night, Bogard and his flying companion, "Mac" McGinnis, come across a drunken Claude in the street and carry him to his home. Stunned to see Ann there, Bogard deposits the oblivious Claude and leaves in a disapproving, jealous huff. Bogard and Mac run into Claude again in a cafe and listen in disgust as he drunkenly tells them about the boat trips he takes with Ronnie. Convinced that Claude has an easy, safe assignment, Bogard invites him to fly his next mission, which involves bombing a German munitions works. Still unaware of Ann's connection to Bogard, Claude agrees to accompany Bogard and Mac and surprises them with his expert shooting and cool-under-fire bravery. When Ann learns of Bogard's actions, she tells Ronnie to invite Bogard on one of Claude's missions, hoping to change the American's lowly opinion of her.
In the pouring rain, Claude, Ronnie and Bogard set out in a speedboat and, while zooming close to a German battleship, hand-launch a torpedo in a blaze of gunfire. Although the ship finally is sunk, Claude is blinded during the attack but, with Bogard, pretends that he can still see. After Bogard tells Ann that he at last understands her situation, Ann learns of Claude's blindness and says a final goodbye to Bogard. When Claude, who has deduced Ann's love of the American, hears that Bogard has volunteered for a suicidal bombing mission, he insists that he and Ronnie use their boat to destroy the targeted battleship. While the blind Claude mans the torpedo, Ronnie steers the boat directly into the German battleship, and both officers die in a spectacular explosion. Free to love, Ann and Bogard return to their home in Kent, where Claude and Ronnie are eulogized as heroes.
Louise Closser Hale
Oliver T. Marsh
Today We Live
The American Film Institute Catalog notes that "A November 1932 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Phillips Holmes was to co-star with Joan Crawford. Charles "Buddy" Rogers was then announced as a possible co-star in early December 1932. According to a mid-December Hollywood Reporter news item, MGM did not begin negotiating for Gary Cooper [with his home studio, Paramount] until two weeks after production was scheduled to start. These news items conflict with some modern sources, which state that Cooper, Robert Young and Franchot Tone had been selected by Hawks before Crawford was approached with the script. According to IP, photographer Elmer Dyer spent several weeks filming the aerial sequences for the film at March Field in California. Modern sources note that General Douglas MacArthur reserved the field for the studio's use."
As Bruce F. Kawin wrote in his book Faulkner's MGM Screenplays "When a 135-minute version was previewed in Pasadena [California, a suburb of Los Angeles] on 16 March, Variety found Today We Live engrossing, predicted great box-office success, and objected to the monosyllabic dialogue. When the final 110-minute version was shown in New York on 14 April, however, Variety panned it: the film was 20 minutes too long. Crawford was unconvincing, Hawks used too much aerial footage from Hell's Angels (1930), the "Gowns by Adrian" were extreme and annoying, and the story was superficial...MGM's publicity department issued a press kit that played up the romantic interest between "Glorious Joan!" and "Ardent Gary!" "Can any woman be faithful," they asked, "in the heart of one man and in the arms of another?"
In real life, Joan Crawford, who didn't want to make the film in the first place, ended up in the arms of the man who played her brother, Franchot Tone. The two met for the first time during production of Today We Live, and eventually married.
Producer: Howard Hawks
Director: Howard Hawks, Richard Rosson
Screenplay: William Faulkner, Edith Fitzgerald, Dwight Taylor
Cinematography: Oliver T. Marsh
Film Editing: Edward Curtiss
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Music: William Axt, David Snell, Herbert Stothart
Cast: Joan Crawford (Diana Boyce-Smith), Gary Cooper (Lt. Richard Bogard), Robert Young (Lt. Claude Hope), Franchot Tone (Lt. Ronnie Boyce-Smith), Roscoe Karns (Lt. Mac McGinnis), Louise Closser Hale (Applegate).
by Lorraine LoBianco
Hawks on Hawks , by Joseph McBride
Faulkner's MGM Screenplays by Bruce F. Kawin
The American Film Institute Catalog
Today We Live
Variety reported in its review that Hawks used footage from the movie Hell's Angels (1930) for the big bomber expedition sequence, the main dogfight, and the head-on collision of two airplanes.
The preview running time was 135 minutes, indicating much was cut before its release.
The working titles of this film were We Live Again and Turn About. M-G-M borrowed Gary Cooper from Paramount for the production. Today We Live was the first film on which director Howard Hawks and writer William Faulkner collaborated. A November 1932 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Phillips Holmes was to co-star with Joan Crawford. Charles "Buddy" Rogers was then announced as a possible co-star in early December 1932. According to a mid-December Hollywood Reporter news item, M-G-M did not begin negotiating for Gary Cooper until two weeks after production was scheduled to start. These news items conflict with some modern sources, which state that Cooper, Robert Young and Franchot Tone had been selected by Hawks before Crawford was approached with the script. According to International Photographer, photographer Elmer Dyer spent several weeks filming the aerial sequences for the film at March Field in California. Modern sources note that General Douglas MacArthur reserved the field for the studio's use. In its review, Variety claims that Hawks used footage from Howard Hughes's 1930 production Hell's Angels in this film, in particular the "sequence of the big bomber expedition" and the "main 'dog-fight' and the head-on collision of two planes." Daily Variety gives a preview running time of 135 minutes, indicating that substantial footage was deleted before the general release.
Modern sources add the following information about the production: After Faulkner's first six-week contract with M-G-M ended, Hawks insisted that the studio re-sign the writer and allow the two of them to develop Faulkner's short story "Turn About" for the screen. In early July 1932, Faulkner wrote a screen treatment of his story, which Hawks then presented to M-G-M production head Irving Thalberg. Although Thalberg approved the treatment, which was strictly a three-man war drama, other studio executives insisted that the story be rewritten to accommodate Crawford, whom they needed to put into a new picture to fulfill a $500,000 contractual obligation. Faulkner complied with the studio's demands and wrote, on instruction from Hawks, a complete first draft of a screenplay (his first), creating the character of "Ann." Although Crawford at first resisted being cast in the all-male picture, she finally accepted the assignment and insisted that Faulkner write her dialogue in the same clipped manner as the male characters'. Faulkner turned in his first draft, which he signed with both his and Hawks's names, at the end of August 1932. In Faulkner's original draft, "Ronnie," "Ann" and "Claude" are first presented as children and then are seen as adolescents. Because the child actors who were to play the threesome could not master British accents, Hawks decided to delete the childhood scenes from the script and hired Edith Fitzgerald and Dwight Taylor to replace Faulkner, who was in Mississippi, and write a second draft. Fitzgerald and Taylor then deleted the adolescent scenes and completely rewrote most of the first half of the script. Faulkner was called in later to revise the final script and added one scene. According to her autobiography, Joan Crawford met Franchot Tone, her second husband, during this production. The couple married in 1935 and divorced in 1939.