Cast & Crew
Alone late one night in the tony Gramercy Park, New York apartment she shares with her husband Brandon, Jessie Bourne receives a mysterious phone call from someone who hangs up when she speaks. While Jessie ponders the meaning of the strange call, her philandering husband is out enjoying himself at the Del Rio night club. There, model Rosa Senta gently admonishes Brandon for going out and leaving his wife home alone. Brandon replies by offering Rosa his playboy creed, explaining that "just because a man has one perfect rose at home, doesn't mean he can't enjoy the flowers of the field." Brandon's philosophizing is cut short by the arrival of Isabel Lorrison, Brandon's beautiful and sharp-tongued former mistress, who forces Rosa to leave. Isabel, back from a long stay in Paris, is intent on rekindling her romance with Brandon, but Brandon warns her to stay away because he is now faithful to his wife. Later, as Brandon is leaving the club, Isabel's date for the night, Alec Dawning, who knows Brandon's playboy reputation, knocks him unconscious. Brandon is rescued by Rosa, who takes him to her home, where he remains until early the next morning. Returning home just before dawn, Brandon tells Jessie that he was attacked by a bum, an excuse that she thinks is just another among the many she has heard before and ignored. Later that day, socialite Helen Lee reminds Jessie about her upcoming party for ex-police officer Mark Dwyer, whose book Helen's husband Owen is trying to get syndicated in his newspaper. During the visit, Jessie confesses to Helen that she is afraid of what will happen to her marriage now that Isabel is back in town. Her suspicions piqued by a newspaper photograph showing Rosa tending to her unconscious husband, Jessie finds Rosa and speaks with her about the incident. Rosa quickly clears up the matter and the two hit it off so well that Jessie offers to take Rosa to the airport to pick up her sweetheart. By coincidence, Rosa's sweetheart is the charming Mark Dwyer, whose wandering gaze is soon cast in Jessie's direction. On the day of Helen's party, Brandon is visited in his office by Isabel, who manages to entice him to her apartment and keep him from attending the party. Jessie goes to the party alone and is taken home by Mark, who comforts her broken heart until Brandon returns. The next day, Isabel summons Jessie to her apartment and tells her that she is determined to win her husband from her. Later, another strain is placed on Jessie's marriage when Mark, while giving her a tour of his West Side neighborhood, professes his love for her. When Jessie returns home, she is greeted with news that Isabel has been murdered. She and Mark immediately rush over to Isabel's apartment, where police Lt. Jacobi is busy interrogating Brandon. Finding a clue that leads him to the Del Rio club, Mark reveals Isabel's killer to be Felice Backett, Alec's jealous girlfriend. Although Brandon is found innocent of the murder, Helen has finally gotten up the courage to tell her husbend that she has fallen out of love with him and will be leaving him once and for all.
Tom P. Dillon
Tiny Jimmy Kelly
Betty Jane Howarth
William H. Cannon
A. Arnold Gillespie
Harold F. Kress
Edwin B. Willis
East Side, West Side
This was the third film together for Stanwyck and Heflin, and according to Ella Smith in Starring Miss Barbara Stanwyck, they are "an excellent screen team - extremely natural together. They make acting look deceptively easy." Stanwyck's work in East Side, West Side is particularly subtle, playing a quiet character who keeps her emotions in check. There is nothing showy or flamboyant about what she does, but she manages to convey her inner turmoil. As Smith writes, "She has a way of holding tears or strong emotion back - and then letting her voice break on the last word of a line.....The technique is a standard one, but difficult to do; unless it is supported by real emotion it will not convince."
The showy role in East Side, West Side belongs to Gardner, playing the predatory Other Woman. By the time she was cast in the film, Gardner had been under contract at M-G-M for seven years, and had advanced from playing bit parts to second leads, or leading lady roles opposite more important male stars. She had had her breakout role in The Killers (1946) at Universal, but was not yet a considered top-tier star at her home studio of M-G-M. Nevertheless, she held her own with Stanwyck in their climactic scene together in East Side, West Side. The scene may have been art imitating life. Gardner had had a torrid affair with Stanwyck's real-life husband Robert Taylor when they worked together on her previous film, The Bribe (1949). It's not clear whether Stanwyck was aware of the affair, but she and Taylor divorced the following year.
James Mason had been appearing in British films since the early 1930s. In the 1940s he became one of Britain's biggest stars, playing flamboyant roles in period melodramas, often as a suave villain. In 1947, he decided to try his luck in Hollywood, but refused to sign a studio contract because he did not want to be typecast. East Side, West Side was one of four American films released in 1949 in which he appeared. One English critic said his voice in the film sounded "as if muffled in fold after fold of felting." Mason later admitted that he was insecure about attempting an American accent, and "may have been trying out a Mid-Atlantic accent." Over the next decade, Mason would become an international star, and one of the busiest and most respected actors in Hollywood.
Mason was not the only one working outside of his comfort level. Dancer Cyd Charisse had been under contract at M-G-M for five years, but played her first straight dramatic part in East Side, West Side as a model in love with Heflin. This was the first film that Nancy Davis made, although it was released after her second film, The Doctor and the Girl (1949). It was during production of East Side, West Side that director Mervyn LeRoy introduced Davis to the recently-divorced Ronald Reagan, who was working on an adjoining set. The critics weren't too fond of East Side, West Side, but for Nancy Davis, it was a life-altering experience. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Producer: Voldemar Vetluguin
Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Screenplay: Isobel Lennart; Marcia Davenport (novel)
Cinematography: Charles Rosher
Art Direction: Randall Duell, Cedric Gibbons
Music: Miklos Rozsa
Film Editing: Harold F. Kress
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Jessie Bourne), James Mason (Brandon Bourne), Van Heflin (Mark Dwyer), Ava Gardner (Isabel Lorrison), Cyd Charisse (Rosa Senta), Nancy Davis (Helen Lee), Gale Sondergaard (Nora Kernan), William Conrad (Lt. Jacobi), Raymond Greenleaf (Horace Elcott Howland), Douglas Kennedy (Alec Dawning).
BW-108m. Closed captioning.
by Margarita Landazuri
East Side, West Side
According to a September 1947 Hollywood Reporter news item, M-G-M paid $200,000 for the film rights to Marcia Davenport's novel. An August 1948 Los Angeles Times news item noted that Greer Garson was considered for a starring role. According to a June 1949 Hollywood Reporter news item, M-G-M negotiated with Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert to play the leading roles. A contemporary news items list Arlene Dahl and Mary Astor in the cast, but they did not appear in the released film. While early Hollywood Reporter production charts list actor Reginald Gardner in the cast, he was not in the film and it is possible that his name was confused with Ava Gardner's, whose name replaced his in all charts from August 12, 1949 on. Contemporary sources indicate that some background footage used was shot in New York City for the film.
East Side, West Side marked actress Gale Sondergaard's last film for twenty years. Sondergaard, along with her husband, producer-director Herbert Biberman, was blacklisted following hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. For additional information, please see entry above for Crossfire.