Eternally Yours


1h 35m 1939
Eternally Yours

Brief Synopsis

A woman is swept off her feet by a magician, and finds the results less than magical.

Film Details

Also Known As
Whose Wife
Genre
Romance
Drama
Release Date
Oct 12, 1939
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 7 Oct 1939
Production Company
Walter Wanger Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
11 reels

Synopsis

Just before Anita is about to be married to Don Barnes, a kind, but stuffy man with a fetish for fresh air, she goes to an afternoon performance of the magician "The Great Arturo," and they fall in love instantly when she goes on stage for part of his act. Eighteen months later, Anita has married Arturo, whose real name is Tony Halstead, and has become his assistant. When her friend Gloria visits her in London, however, Anita has begun to tire of their glamorous life touring the world, and longs for a family and a home in America, a desire that Tony does not share. Though Tony loves Anita very much, his desire to keep their marriage from becoming ordinary won't allow him to settle down "like other people." Anita pretends to go along with his ideas, and even acts unconcerned when he frequently comes home with lipstick on his collar. During an evening out with a woman reporter, Tony drunkenly boasts that he will jump out of a plane wearing handcuffs and break loose from them in time to pull the string to his parachute. Anita is furious and makes Tony promise not to make good on his boast. Though he doesn't really want to go through with the stunt, he can not refuse when he arrives at the airport and finds hundreds of eager fans waiting for him. Breaking the cast he was going to use as an excuse not to jump, Tony performs the stunt and lands successfully. Anita makes Tony promise not to do it again, but six months later, he has performed the stunt dozens of times in most of the world's great cities. Finally hoping to get a two-month vacation after Tony's tour ends, Anita buys a cottage in Connecticut, but when Tony shrugs it off and signs for another tour to begin immediately, Anita realizes that he will never settle down. She leaves him just after "disappearing" in the act and returns to New York to the home of her grandfather, Bishop Hubert Peabody. Anita's aunt Abbey helps her to obtain a Reno divorce, which, unknown to Anita, is not valid because Tony has never signed the papers or received word that he was being divorced. Meanwhile, Tony realizes how much he loves Anita and tries to find her. When he visits Gramps, the two become friends, but even Gramps doesn't know where his granddaughter is, and Tony is forced to spend everything he has to try and find her. When he finally learns that Anita has divorced him, he becomes so disconsolate that he flubs a performance and has to take a year off to pull himself together. During that time, Anita has been traveling with Abbey. When Abbey arranges for Don to accompany them on a cruise, Anita decides that a quick marriage to Don will be the best thing for her,and she arranges for the captain of the ship to marry them. As soon as they dock in New York, however, they meet Don's boss, Mr. Bingham, at a nightclub and find that Tony is there performing. Still in love with Anita, Tony then wangles an invitation to Bingham's country estate for the weekend. Anita and Don are also there, and Tony tries everything to make Anita return to him. Don breaks his leg and is unable to consummate the marriage, but Anita feels that she cannot go back to Tony, even though she still loves him. Gramps, who has learned that her marriage is not legal because her divorce from Tony was invalid, does not tell her because he wants her to choose for herself. On the day that Don has his cast removed, Anita learns that Tony is going to perform his parachute stunt at the New York World's Fair. Knowing that Tony is out of practice, Anita rushes to the airport but is too late to stop him. Tony has hidden a picklock in the plane to help him out of the cuffs, but when a different plane is used, he still goes through with the stunt. He is too slow, however, and plunges into the river. Anita arrives as he is pulled out of the water, and when he comes to, she is overcome with happiness. Realizing her feelings, Don suggests that he get the car for them. Finally, Tony and Anita arrive at their cottage in Connecticut, eager to start a new life.

Film Details

Also Known As
Whose Wife
Genre
Romance
Drama
Release Date
Oct 12, 1939
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 7 Oct 1939
Production Company
Walter Wanger Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
11 reels

Award Nominations

Best Music Original Dramatic Score

1940

Articles

Eternally Yours


The screwball comedy craze was dying out when Loretta Young and David Niven teamed for Eternally Yours (1939), a spritely farce about a magician so in love with touring he almost turns his wife into a bigamist. Young is beautiful and witty as the wife/assistant who pulls a real disappearing act over her husband's refusal to settle down. She heads to Reno for a divorce, not realizing she forgot to dot all the "I"s and cross all the "T"s in the contract, and remarries an old flame (Broderick Crawford). Meanwhile, Niven is hot on the honeymooners' trail, trying to win back his not-quite-divorced wife.

Young had just left 20th Century-Fox, having followed studio head Darryl F. Zanuck there after he left Warner Bros. in 1933 to found 20th Century Pictures. Although she had been one of his first big female stars, they had quarreled in recent years over roles, pay and even costumes (he accused her of appropriating wardrobe items from some of her films). Her complaints got her labeled "difficult," which led to problems of finding decent roles right away. Fortunately, independent producer Walter Wanger, with whom she had worked on Shanghai in 1935, wanted to utilize more of the footage he had shot while touring the globe. Much of it had already been used in Trade Winds (1938), but he had so much left over, he needed to produce another globe-trotting picture.

Originally, Wanger had planned to film Sacha Guitry's 1917 play L'illusioniste, but the Production Code Administration deemed it too sexual. As writers Gene Towne and G. Graham Baker labored to tone it down, they made so many changes Wanger eventually billed the film as an original screenplay. In particular, the writers had to bend over backwards to come up with ways to keep Young from consummating her marriage to Crawford so she would not, in fact, become a bigamist. The film was still surprisingly risqué for the late '30s. So was one of Young's outfits. For her part in Niven's disappearing act, she insisted a double take her place because she refused to wear the revealing costume supplied.

For Young's leading man, Wanger borrowed David Niven from Samuel Goldwyn, who had been bringing the young British actor along in supporting roles since 1935. He had, in fact, appeared with Young twice before, in Four Men and a Prayer and Three Blind Mice (both 1938), but only in smaller roles. He had lost her to Richard Greene in the first, and Joel McCrea in the second. Eternally Yours would mark their first appearance as co-stars and, in fact, Niven's first leading role. The two would prove a genial pair on screen and would reteam as husband and wife in The Bishop's Wife (1947). Wanger also signed an impressive supporting cast, with Hugh Herbert as Niven's valet, Billie Burke as Young's aunt, C. Aubrey Smith as her uncle, Eve Arden as her wise-cracking best friend and Raymond Walburn and Zasu Pitts as Crawford's boss and the boss's wife. With Young, Niven and Crawford in the cast, Eternally Yours also featured three future Oscar®-winners at a time when nobody in Hollywood would have predicted such honors for any of them.

Wanger signed Tay Garnett, who had just helmed Trade Winds, to direct. He had also worked with Young previously on Love Is News (1937) and was known for his fast-paced staging and facility with comedy. He even turned in a cameo appearance as an airplane pilot during one of Niven's stunts. Although shot mostly in Hollywood, Eternally Yours achieved the distinction of being the first Hollywood feature with scenes set at the 1939 New York World Fair, where Niven performs one of his most daredevil escapes over the Lagoon of Nations.

Although critics considered Eternally Yours amusing and even singled out supporting players Herbert, Smith, Walburn and Pitts in some cases, they also had problems with the plot machinations. Writing for the New York Times, Frank Nugent complained that with its globe-trotting plot "the conjugal problems eventually became so inextricably mixed with geography that we felt as battered as an old trunk..." He was also one of several reviewers to wonder if the leading couple, one of whom longs for travel and stardom while the other dreams of domesticity, might actually be better off divorced. Such an ending would have been unthinkable in Hollywood under the Production Code, however, so the stars predictably reunite, though many in the audience may be taking odds on how long they can stay together.

Producer: Tay Garnett, Walter Wanger
Director: Tay Garnett
Screenplay: Gene Towne, C. Graham Baker
Cinematography: Merritt B. Gerstad
Music Score: Werner Janssen
Cast: Loretta Young (Anita Halstead), David Niven (Tony, aka The Great Arturo), Hugh Herbert (Benton), Billie Burke (Aunt Abby), C. Aubrey Smith (Bishop Peabody), Raymond Walburn (Mr. Harley Bingham), Zasu Pitts (Mrs. Cary Bingham), Broderick Crawford (Don Burns), Virginia Field (Lola de Vere), Eve Arden (Gloria), Ralph Graves (Mr. Morrisey), Granville Bates (Ship Captain), Hillary Brooke (Blonde on Stage), Bess Flowers (Nightclub Extra), Tay Garnett (Pilot).
BW-95m.

by Frank Miller
Eternally Yours

Eternally Yours

The screwball comedy craze was dying out when Loretta Young and David Niven teamed for Eternally Yours (1939), a spritely farce about a magician so in love with touring he almost turns his wife into a bigamist. Young is beautiful and witty as the wife/assistant who pulls a real disappearing act over her husband's refusal to settle down. She heads to Reno for a divorce, not realizing she forgot to dot all the "I"s and cross all the "T"s in the contract, and remarries an old flame (Broderick Crawford). Meanwhile, Niven is hot on the honeymooners' trail, trying to win back his not-quite-divorced wife. Young had just left 20th Century-Fox, having followed studio head Darryl F. Zanuck there after he left Warner Bros. in 1933 to found 20th Century Pictures. Although she had been one of his first big female stars, they had quarreled in recent years over roles, pay and even costumes (he accused her of appropriating wardrobe items from some of her films). Her complaints got her labeled "difficult," which led to problems of finding decent roles right away. Fortunately, independent producer Walter Wanger, with whom she had worked on Shanghai in 1935, wanted to utilize more of the footage he had shot while touring the globe. Much of it had already been used in Trade Winds (1938), but he had so much left over, he needed to produce another globe-trotting picture. Originally, Wanger had planned to film Sacha Guitry's 1917 play L'illusioniste, but the Production Code Administration deemed it too sexual. As writers Gene Towne and G. Graham Baker labored to tone it down, they made so many changes Wanger eventually billed the film as an original screenplay. In particular, the writers had to bend over backwards to come up with ways to keep Young from consummating her marriage to Crawford so she would not, in fact, become a bigamist. The film was still surprisingly risqué for the late '30s. So was one of Young's outfits. For her part in Niven's disappearing act, she insisted a double take her place because she refused to wear the revealing costume supplied. For Young's leading man, Wanger borrowed David Niven from Samuel Goldwyn, who had been bringing the young British actor along in supporting roles since 1935. He had, in fact, appeared with Young twice before, in Four Men and a Prayer and Three Blind Mice (both 1938), but only in smaller roles. He had lost her to Richard Greene in the first, and Joel McCrea in the second. Eternally Yours would mark their first appearance as co-stars and, in fact, Niven's first leading role. The two would prove a genial pair on screen and would reteam as husband and wife in The Bishop's Wife (1947). Wanger also signed an impressive supporting cast, with Hugh Herbert as Niven's valet, Billie Burke as Young's aunt, C. Aubrey Smith as her uncle, Eve Arden as her wise-cracking best friend and Raymond Walburn and Zasu Pitts as Crawford's boss and the boss's wife. With Young, Niven and Crawford in the cast, Eternally Yours also featured three future Oscar®-winners at a time when nobody in Hollywood would have predicted such honors for any of them. Wanger signed Tay Garnett, who had just helmed Trade Winds, to direct. He had also worked with Young previously on Love Is News (1937) and was known for his fast-paced staging and facility with comedy. He even turned in a cameo appearance as an airplane pilot during one of Niven's stunts. Although shot mostly in Hollywood, Eternally Yours achieved the distinction of being the first Hollywood feature with scenes set at the 1939 New York World Fair, where Niven performs one of his most daredevil escapes over the Lagoon of Nations. Although critics considered Eternally Yours amusing and even singled out supporting players Herbert, Smith, Walburn and Pitts in some cases, they also had problems with the plot machinations. Writing for the New York Times, Frank Nugent complained that with its globe-trotting plot "the conjugal problems eventually became so inextricably mixed with geography that we felt as battered as an old trunk..." He was also one of several reviewers to wonder if the leading couple, one of whom longs for travel and stardom while the other dreams of domesticity, might actually be better off divorced. Such an ending would have been unthinkable in Hollywood under the Production Code, however, so the stars predictably reunite, though many in the audience may be taking odds on how long they can stay together. Producer: Tay Garnett, Walter Wanger Director: Tay Garnett Screenplay: Gene Towne, C. Graham Baker Cinematography: Merritt B. Gerstad Music Score: Werner Janssen Cast: Loretta Young (Anita Halstead), David Niven (Tony, aka The Great Arturo), Hugh Herbert (Benton), Billie Burke (Aunt Abby), C. Aubrey Smith (Bishop Peabody), Raymond Walburn (Mr. Harley Bingham), Zasu Pitts (Mrs. Cary Bingham), Broderick Crawford (Don Burns), Virginia Field (Lola de Vere), Eve Arden (Gloria), Ralph Graves (Mr. Morrisey), Granville Bates (Ship Captain), Hillary Brooke (Blonde on Stage), Bess Flowers (Nightclub Extra), Tay Garnett (Pilot). BW-95m. by Frank Miller

Quotes

What if the parachute didn't open?
- Anita Halstead
Darling, all parachutes are guaranteed to open. If it doesn't, they give you a new one.
- Tony Halstead

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Whose Wife. According to an article in New York Times, this film began as a remake of Sacha Guitry's play L'illusionniste (Paris, 28 October 1917). That film however, was judged "too lusty" for the American family audience and consequently, screenwriters Gene Towne and Graham Baker changed the story. The final script was so different from Guitry's original that his name was dropped from the project and original screenplay credit was given to Towne and Baker. The article adds that a double stood-in for Loretta Young in the disappearing girl sequence when Young refused to wear the scanty attire required for the scene. The scene in which Tony jumps from an airplane wearing handcuffs was shot over the New York World's Fair. The New York Times article credits Paul Widlicksa with creating the illusion of the jump. A Hollywood Reporter news item adds that Jack Kirston supervised the shooting of the parachute jump over the San Francisco bay sequence. Werner Janssen received an Academy Award nomination in the Music (Original Score) category.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1939

Tay Garnett had a bit part in the film.

Released in United States 1939