Cast & Crew
In turn-of-the-century New Orleans, beautiful but impoverished aristocrat Barbara Beaurevelle vows to join her lover, medical researcher Dr. Mark Lucas, that night on a South American-bound ship and marry him. When her scheming cousin Paul finds out her plans, however, he reminds her about her aunt Eula's heart condition and the pain that such an elopement would cause her. Paul persuades Barbara to write Mark a letter asking him to wait for her and promises to deliver it, but never does. Two months later, on Halloween, Barbara eagerly awaits Mark's return at the docks and is stunned to discover that he has married a woman he met during his travels. Confused and angry, Barbara defies her aunt and goes to see Luther Toplady, a lawyer who has been trying to locate her about an inheritance. Luther informs Barbara that her grandmother Carrie Crandall's brother has died and left his fortune to her. Because Carrie led an infamous life, Barbara's relation to her has been kept secret, and Barbara asks that Luther transfer the money to her without mention of Carrie's name. Barbara then breaks an engagement with Clay Duchesne, her wealthy suitor, and goes alone to a cemetery, which is filled with Halloween revelers. There, Barbara spies Mark as he and his mentor from Tulane University, Dean Cazzley, give Mark's bride Corinne a tour. Still unaware that he never received her letter, Barbara pulls Mark aside and tries to rekindle his passion for her. Mark gives in momentarily, kissing her, but refuses to betray Corinne any further. Barbara then shocks a young candle seller by lighting a candle at her notorious grandmother's grave. The next day, Barbara informs her aunt and Paul about her million-dollar windfall. Aunt Eula, who dreads scandal, is distressed by the news but Paul is ecstatic. Sometime later, the now-rich Barbara visits Corinne at home to invite her to a ball. Barbara and Corinne exchange coy barbs, and Corinne reveals herself as a calculating social climber. When Mark learns about the ball, he goes to see Barbara to turn down the invitation, but instead is insulted by the snobbish Paul. Irked, Mark attends the ball with Corinne, who is immediately attracted to Paul. Once alone with Mark, Barbara finally learns the truth about her letter and asks Mark to divorce Corinne and marry her. Although Mark kisses Barbara again, he disdains her casual attitude toward marriage and storms off. Thus scorned, Barbara plots to humiliate Mark by paying Paul to seduce Corinne. Paul easily charms Corinne and arranges a boathouse tryst. When Barbara informs Mark about Corinne's planned rendezvous with Paul, he quietly condemns her vengeful ways. Suddenly filled with remorse and self-loathing, Barbara heads for the boathouse. There, Corinne tries to convince Paul to marry her, and when he laughingly rejects her, she slaps him. Angered, Paul pushes Corinne, causing her to fall and suffer a fatal head injury. Barbara sees Paul run off and goes inside the boathouse to find Corinne. Moments later, Mark arrives and, deducing what has happened, instructs Barbara to leave. Mark immediately falls under suspicion, and the influential Clay, who has long been jealous of him, demands his dismissal from Tulane. During the ensuing inquisition, Mark does not mention either Barbara or Paul and faces indictment for murder. Unable to stay silent, as Paul and Eula have instructed her, Barbara reveals all to a stunned courtroom, including her connection to Carrie. Although Eula disowns her, Mark applauds Barbara's courage, noting that she could turn out to be "quite a woman."
John B. Williams
Albert S. D'agostino
George C. Shrader
Harry J. Wild
My Forbidden Past
Gardner is Barbara Beaurevel, a poor New Orleans beauty, circa 1890, who inherits a fortune from her grandmother. But the family's money may have been earned by less-than-reputable means, which could spell disaster for the newly-respectable Barbara. Amid opulent sets and lavish costumes, Gardner's Barbara is determined to use the new funds to win the love of married man Dr. Mark Lucas (Mitchum). Helping in the break-up scheme is her cad cousin Paul (Melvyn Douglas), who's been told to woo the doctor's wife. But when the wife (Janis Carter) dies, Dr. Lucas is accused of murder. Barbara comes forward at the last minute to clear his name, at the cost of revealing her sordid family background to the town.
The role of Barbara was originally slated for Ann Sheridan, but RKO mogul Howard Hughes decided against Sheridan as a femme fatale in the movie, and borrowed the sultry and beautiful Gardner from MGM for the vixen role. A lawsuit against Hughes and the studio followed, but Sheridan later settled out of court and was given a part in RKO's Appointment in Honduras in 1953.
My Forbidden Past was a test of the public's acceptance of Mitchum's own recent past: the actor had been jailed briefly on marijuana charges in 1949. Studio chiefs and theater owners were anxious about how Mitchum would be received by fans, but they shouldn't have worried. The prison stint seemed to accentuate Mitchum's bad-boy persona, and swooning and screaming women greeted the actor at his appearances to promote the movie. "While Ava Gardner is receiving a wonderful reception, all bedlam breaks loose when Mitchum appears on stage. He had to take five encores at the first show," one theater manager wrote to Hughes.
Although gossip columnists had hoped to report that Mitchum and Gardner had a torrid affair on the set of My Forbidden Past, they had to settle for Mitchum and Gardner confessing that they were only good friends. Mitchum jokingly called her "Honest Ave -- because she doesn't have to pad her bust," and she confessed to an attraction to the Oscar®-nominated actor in her 1990 autobiography Ava: My Story, stating, "Let me make a frank admission: if I could have gotten him into bed, I would have. I think that every girl who ever worked with Bob fell in love with him, and I was no exception." A more recent biography, Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don't Care by Lee Server, however, states that Mitchum and Gardner did indeed have an intense sexual affair. "Mitchum would tell friends that Ava got serious fast. She told him they should go away together; he should leave his family and keep house with her. He told her she'd have to ask Dorothy [his wife] about that. And she claimed that she did. Ava said she phoned the house, said, 'You've had him for ten years. Give somebody else a chance. ' 'What does Bob say? ' 'He said to ask you. ' 'Okay, so you asked me. The answer is no. ' "
Producer: Polan Banks, Sid Rogell, Robert Sparks
Director: Robert Stevenson
Screenplay: Leopold Atlas, Marion Parsonnet, Polan Banks (novel)
Cinematography: Harry J. Wild
Film Editing: George Shrader
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, Alfred Herman
Music: Frederick Hollander
Cast: Robert Mitchum (Dr. Mark Lucas), Ava Gardner (Barbara Beaurevel), Melvyn Douglas (Paul Beaurevel), Lucile Watson (Aunt Eula), Janis Carter (Corinne Lucas), Gordon Oliver (Clay Duchesne).
BW-71m. Closed captioning.
by Amy Cox
My Forbidden Past
The working title of this film was Carriage Entrance. According to April 1949 Hollywood Reporter news items, when Howard Hughes, who had recently become the head of RKO, learned that the studio had purchased Polan Banks's novel and screenplay and had entered into a three-picture independent producing contract with him, he abrogated the deal. While contemporary sources state that Hughes objected to the deal because the story was a potentially expensive period piece, modern sources contend that Hughes did not like Ann Sheridan, who was contractually attached to Banks. As part of its renegotiated contract with Banks, RKO agreed to take over his commitment to Sheridan, who had recently left Warner Bros., but made Banks a one-time studio producer. In addition to earning a $150,000 salary, plus ten percent of the picture's profits, Sheridan's contract stipulated that she was to have approval on script, director and male lead. Robert Young was hired as her co-star, but dropped out in July 1949, causing the production to be delayed. According to a November 1949 Hollywood Reporter news item, Sheridan provided RKO with a list of five actors she would consider as Young's replacement, including Franchot Tone, John Lund, Charles Boyer, Richard Conte and Robert Mitchum. Although Mitchum was ultimately cast, Sheridan was replaced by Ava Gardner, borrowed from M-G-M, in August 1949.
In July 1949, Hollywood Reporter announced that Nicholas Ray was taking over direction from Robert Stevenson because of Stevenson's prior commitment to RKO's Jet Pilot, but after the delay in production, Ray was replaced by Stevenson because of his own scheduling conflicts with In a Lonely Place. The role of "Corinne" was first assigned to Gloria Grahame, but Janis Carter took over the part after Grahame was cast in In a Lonely Place. RKO borrowed Carter from Columbia for the production. On November 22, 1949, a week after the end of principal photography, Hollywood Reporter announced that Sheridan was suing RKO for $350,000 for breach of contract, claiming that the studio had "arbitrarily, wrongfully and unreasonably" violated its deal with her. According to modern sources, Sheridan won her suit, which also guaranteed her a role in a later RKO film, Appointment in Honduras . My Forbidden Past lost $700,000 at the box office, according to modern sources.