Behave Yourself!


1h 21m 1951
Behave Yourself!

Brief Synopsis

A young couple's dog gets them mixed up in a string of murders.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Release Date
Sep 22, 1951
Premiere Information
World premiere in Kansas City, MO: 19 Sep 1951; Los Angeles opening: 20 Sep 1951
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.; Wald-Krasna Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 21m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,253ft

Synopsis

After his young wife Kate reminds him over the telephone that their second wedding anniversary is that day, Los Angeles accountant William Calhoun Denny rushes from the train station to a women's clothing store. He is followed there by a friendly Welsh terrier, who unknown to him, is the property of a gangster named "Short-wave" Bert. As Bill is about to purchase a nightgown for Kate, the dog accidentally breaks a window, and the salesclerk insists that Bill use all of his cash to pay for the damage. The dog then follows Bill home carrying the discarded "happy anniversary" tag in its mouth, and Kate thanks her husband for the wonderful present. Sure that his disapproving mother-in-law, in whose house the couple lives, will ridicule him for not buying his wife a gift, Bill does not correct Kate's mistake. When the dog, whom Kate names Archie, proves an impediment to Bill's lovemaking, however, Bill scours the classifieds and finds a listing for a lost dog whose description matches Archie's. Unknown to Bill, the ad has been placed by smuggler Pete the Pusher and his cohorts, Albert Jonas and Pinky, who have arranged to deliver contraband to Bert through the specially trained Archie. Moments after Bill telephones Jonas to tell him about Archie, another gangster, Gillie the Blade, slips in and stabs Jonas to death. Bill then shows up at the smugglers' address, but is dismissed by Gillie, who is posing as Jonas. Before leaving, however, Bill gives Gillie his calling card, which Gillie leaves on Jonas' corpse after notifying the police of his murder. When Gillie informs his boss, Fat Fred, about Bill's visit, Fat Fred deduces that Archie is somehow connected to the smugglers, whose goods he hopes to hijack, and places a second "lost dog" ad in the paper. Later, a shocked Bill is questioned by irascible homicide detective O'Ryan about Jonas' murder, but insists that he merely gave the man his calling card while discussing a lost dog with him. Bill then sees Fat Fred's ad in the paper and, eager to end Archie's continuing romantic interference, walks him to Fat Fred's. Fat Fred, meanwhile, has read yet another ad about a lost terrier, placed by Pete's contact Numi, and doctors a dog to look like Archie so that he can check out the smugglers while pretending to return the animal. Soon after Fat Fred leaves his place, Pinky and Pete, responding to Fat Fred's ad, show up and kill Gillie. Bill then arrives with Archie and is terrified to discover a dead Gillie, who he still believes is Jonas. After a stressful night chasing a runaway Archie, Bill tries to tell a suspicious Kate the truth about the dog, but she refuses to listen. The next day, Bill again informs O'Ryan that Jonas has been murdered, and while O'Ryan surmises that Gillie killed Jonas, and one of Jonas' cohorts killed Gillie, he is uninterested in Bill's complicated dog story. When Bill notices the third ad in the paper and faints, however, O'Ryan sends his men to the ad's skid row address. There, the police discover not only Fat Fred's body, but Numi's as well. Kate, meanwhile, tries to walk Archie along Wilshire Boulevard, the street on which the dog has been trained to make his rendezvous. The waiting Max spies Kate, who is carrying a bag of dog bones and, assuming she is Pete's courier, grabs the bag and thrusts a valise in her hand before fleeing. Upon inspecting the bag later, Max and Bert are furious to discover only bones, but Kate and her mother are ecstatic because the valise is full of money. After a distraught Bill points out that the money is counterfeit, however, he and a disappointed Kate return it to O'Ryan, who refuses to believe that it is in any way connected to Archie. Although O'Ryan finally forces Bill to confess that he did not buy Archie as an anniversary gift, Kate still insists on keeping the dog. Bill is equally determined to rid himself of Archie, however, and leaves him at a pet store, then tells Kate that he ran away. When Kate innocently places an ad for Archie and offers a reward, the greedy pet store owner returns the dog. Bill quickly realizes that the gangsters will also be arriving, but cannot escape before the gun-wielding Max and Bert show up. As soon as Kate reveals that the money in the valise was counterfeit, Max, who thought the cash was genuine, accuses Bert of double-crossing him. The two gangsters then shoot and kill each other. Kate faints and Bill telephones the police, who pull up just as Pete and Pinky storm the Denny home looking for Archie. After Bill slugs Pete unconscious and tricks the dimwitted Pinky into falling out a window, O'Ryan and his men burst in and arrest Pete and Pinky. Later, Bill, now hailed as a hero, collects several $5,000 rewards for apprehending the smugglers and accepts Archie into his life. Having finally proven himself to his mother-in-law, Bill then carries Kate triumphantly into their bedroom.

Photo Collections

Behave Yourself! - Lobby Cards
Here are several Lobby Cards from RKO's Behave Yourself! (1951), starring Shelley Winters and Farley Granger. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Release Date
Sep 22, 1951
Premiere Information
World premiere in Kansas City, MO: 19 Sep 1951; Los Angeles opening: 20 Sep 1951
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.; Wald-Krasna Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 21m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,253ft

Articles

Behave Yourself! - Behave Yourself


Although Behave Yourself! (1951) boasted two acclaimed young stars just reaching their first peak of popularity and a supporting cast of veteran character actors, it was the featured dog that stole the movie from his human co-stars. The madcap plot, which has elements of black comedy a la Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), concerns a little mutt named Archie who follows a young man (Farley Granger) home one night. The pretty young wife (Shelley Winters) thinks the dog is an anniversary present, but in reality, it belongs to a couple of thugs who have trained it for criminal use. They advertise for the dog's return; the husband answers and uncovers a murder. The couple suddenly finds themselves up to their ears in more problems than they can handle, and quickly one murder follows another until the screen is virtually littered with corpses.

Winters later said the dog actor was "almost human" with an IQ that "must have been about 140 and who could have put Benji to shame." According to her, the mutt stole every scene in the picture. A few years later, she found herself in a crime drama, I Died a Thousand Times (1955), with another "wonder dog." She swore the animal on that production must have studied with Lee Strasberg at New York's famed Actors Studio because "his motivations seemed clearer than any of the actors" and he was able to repeat every action called for, no matter how many takes they did. Winters and that dog befriended each other, and when shooting was completed, she tried in vain to buy it from the trainer. That's when she found out the dog was the offspring of the one she worked with on Behave Yourself!.

Besides the canine lead, a great deal of the movie's charm and humor comes from the familiar character actors, among them horror movie staple Lon Chaney, Jr., dropping the "Jr." from his name in the credits; William Demarest, a stock player in a number of Preston Sturges' 1940s comedies and later famous as Uncle Charlie on the TV sitcom My Three Sons; and Elisha Cook, Jr., Hollywood's favorite weasly little punk in such films as The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Big Sleep (1946). Also in the cast was Sheldon Leonard, who started his career playing mostly criminal types and became one of television's most important producers.

Winters and Granger were an odd choice for the naive young couple in this offbeat comedy. Neither was known for comic roles; in fact, despite their studio-imposed glamour, both had somewhat darker screen images. Granger had distinguished himself as an attractive and sensitive but rather troubled and morally ambiguous young man in such films as Nicholas Ray's They Live By Night (1949) and Alfred Hitchcock's Rope (1948). Winters was groomed as a blonde sexpot but resisted typing by taking on grittier roles in A Double Life (1947) and John Garfield's final film He Ran All the Way (1951). When they were cast in this movie, the couple Ð at the time linked romantically although they were mostly just good friends - were riding high on their recent successes: he in Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train (1951) and she as the doomed factory worker in George Stevens' A Place in the Sun (1951), opposite Montgomery Clift. Upon completion of Behave Yourself!, the two took off for a studio-paid European tour/vacation where they were often swamped by fans. The press also followed them everywhere, eager to report on any possible hint of romance between the two. But during the tour, Winters met and fell in love with Vittorio Gassman, the Italian actor who would become her second husband. She and Granger (who she calls "Farfel") remain lifelong friends.

Producer: Norman Krasna, Jerry Wald
Director: George Beck
Screenplay: George Beck, Frank Tarloff
Cinematography: James Wong Howe
Editing: Paul Weatherwax
Music: Leigh Harline
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino
Cast: Farley Granger (William Calhoun 'Bill' Denny), Shelley Winters (Kate Denny), William Demarest (Officer O'Ryan), Francis L. Sullivan (Fat Freddy), Margalo Gillmore (Mother), Lon Chaney, Jr. (Pinky), Hans Conried (Gillie the Blade), Elisha Cook, Jr. (Albert Jonas), Sheldon Leonard (Shortwave Bert).
BW-81m. Closed captioning.

by Rob Nixon
Behave Yourself! - Behave Yourself

Behave Yourself! - Behave Yourself

Although Behave Yourself! (1951) boasted two acclaimed young stars just reaching their first peak of popularity and a supporting cast of veteran character actors, it was the featured dog that stole the movie from his human co-stars. The madcap plot, which has elements of black comedy a la Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), concerns a little mutt named Archie who follows a young man (Farley Granger) home one night. The pretty young wife (Shelley Winters) thinks the dog is an anniversary present, but in reality, it belongs to a couple of thugs who have trained it for criminal use. They advertise for the dog's return; the husband answers and uncovers a murder. The couple suddenly finds themselves up to their ears in more problems than they can handle, and quickly one murder follows another until the screen is virtually littered with corpses. Winters later said the dog actor was "almost human" with an IQ that "must have been about 140 and who could have put Benji to shame." According to her, the mutt stole every scene in the picture. A few years later, she found herself in a crime drama, I Died a Thousand Times (1955), with another "wonder dog." She swore the animal on that production must have studied with Lee Strasberg at New York's famed Actors Studio because "his motivations seemed clearer than any of the actors" and he was able to repeat every action called for, no matter how many takes they did. Winters and that dog befriended each other, and when shooting was completed, she tried in vain to buy it from the trainer. That's when she found out the dog was the offspring of the one she worked with on Behave Yourself!. Besides the canine lead, a great deal of the movie's charm and humor comes from the familiar character actors, among them horror movie staple Lon Chaney, Jr., dropping the "Jr." from his name in the credits; William Demarest, a stock player in a number of Preston Sturges' 1940s comedies and later famous as Uncle Charlie on the TV sitcom My Three Sons; and Elisha Cook, Jr., Hollywood's favorite weasly little punk in such films as The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Big Sleep (1946). Also in the cast was Sheldon Leonard, who started his career playing mostly criminal types and became one of television's most important producers. Winters and Granger were an odd choice for the naive young couple in this offbeat comedy. Neither was known for comic roles; in fact, despite their studio-imposed glamour, both had somewhat darker screen images. Granger had distinguished himself as an attractive and sensitive but rather troubled and morally ambiguous young man in such films as Nicholas Ray's They Live By Night (1949) and Alfred Hitchcock's Rope (1948). Winters was groomed as a blonde sexpot but resisted typing by taking on grittier roles in A Double Life (1947) and John Garfield's final film He Ran All the Way (1951). When they were cast in this movie, the couple Ð at the time linked romantically although they were mostly just good friends - were riding high on their recent successes: he in Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train (1951) and she as the doomed factory worker in George Stevens' A Place in the Sun (1951), opposite Montgomery Clift. Upon completion of Behave Yourself!, the two took off for a studio-paid European tour/vacation where they were often swamped by fans. The press also followed them everywhere, eager to report on any possible hint of romance between the two. But during the tour, Winters met and fell in love with Vittorio Gassman, the Italian actor who would become her second husband. She and Granger (who she calls "Farfel") remain lifelong friends. Producer: Norman Krasna, Jerry Wald Director: George Beck Screenplay: George Beck, Frank Tarloff Cinematography: James Wong Howe Editing: Paul Weatherwax Music: Leigh Harline Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino Cast: Farley Granger (William Calhoun 'Bill' Denny), Shelley Winters (Kate Denny), William Demarest (Officer O'Ryan), Francis L. Sullivan (Fat Freddy), Margalo Gillmore (Mother), Lon Chaney, Jr. (Pinky), Hans Conried (Gillie the Blade), Elisha Cook, Jr. (Albert Jonas), Sheldon Leonard (Shortwave Bert). BW-81m. Closed captioning. by Rob Nixon

Quotes

Trivia

Classic pin-up artist, Vargas, painted the film's original poster.

Notes

The opening cast list is followed by photographs of the principal players, grouped together and captioned by the following character descriptions: "The Lovers" (Farley Granger and Shelley Winters); "The Mother-in-Law" (Margalo Gillmore); "The Smuggler" (Henry Corden); "His Partners" (Elisha Cook, Jr., Glenn Anders and Lon Chaney); "The Buyers" (Sheldon Leonard and Marvin Kaplan); "The Hijackers" (Francis L. Sullivan and Hans Conried); "The Law" (Allen Jenkins, William Demarest and Ralph Sanford); "Archie" ("Archie" the dog). The actors' names are not included with their photographs. Although their photographs are seen, Henry Corden's and Ralph Sanford's names do not appear in the opening cast list. The end cast list, labelled "in order of their disappearance," is superimposed over footage of the actors. Cast members' names appear at the end in the following order: Elisha Cook, Jr., Hans Conried, Henry Corden, Francis L. Sullivan, Marvin Kaplan, Sheldon Leonard, Lon Chaney, Farley Granger, Shelley Winters, Margalo Gillmore, William Demarest, "Archie." The title song is heard only over the opening and end credits. RKO borrowed Granger from Samuel Goldwyn's company for the production. In the picture, the smugglers' contraband is never identified.