Roughly Speaking


1h 57m 1945
Roughly Speaking

Brief Synopsis

A man's wild moneymaking schemes leave his wife to raise their family.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Biography
Release Date
Mar 3, 1945
Premiere Information
New York opening: 31 Jan 1945
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the book Roughly Speaking by Louise Randall Pierson (New York, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 57m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
11,457ft

Synopsis

In 1902, after the death of her father, John Chase Randall, Louise Randall learns that her family is penniless. Eventually, her mother sells her jewelry so that Louise may attend college. As her father had always advised her to aim for the stars, Louise rapidly learns typing and shorthand, determined to "be on the inside looking out." After completing a successful temporary job at a shipyard, Louise and her friend Alice move to New Haven, Connecticut, where they rent a room in the same house as Yale University students Rodney Crane and Jack Leslie. Jack and Alice fall in love and marry, and Rodney proposes to Louise. Although Louise wants to work after marriage, the more conventional Rodney insists that she stay home. Defying convention, Louise does not wear white to her wedding, will not vow to obey her husband and does not take his name. The couple moves to New York City, where Louise gives birth in quick succession to Barbara, John, Rod, Jr. and Louise, Jr. During World War I, Louise plants a victory garden and sells bonds. She finds a huge ramshackled house on the Hudson River and moves her family there. One day, Louise, Jr. gets sick and it is discovered that all the children have polio. Louise nurses the children, willing Louise, Jr. back to health from the brink of death. After their recovery, Louise works hard to help Louise, Jr. overcome her paralysis. When Rod loses his job after the war, Louise keeps her spirits up and gets a job herself. Rod perceives this as a lack of sympathy, and after he finds a job, he falls in love with another woman and leaves Louise. At a friend's costume party, Louise meets Harold Pierson, the black sheep of a wealthy family, who seems to be as much of a free spirit as she. He proposes marriage immediately and Louise accepts. During the prosperous 1920s, they have a child, Frank, and pay off most of their debts. They invest their money in rose bushes, but by the time the flowers are ready to harvest, the market has collapsed. The Piersons' possessions are auctioned off and the family moves to a new city. Harold then invests in a newly designed airplane just before the stock market crash of 1929. During the Depression, the older boys go to Yale and Barbara marries. The remaining family moves to a smaller apartment, and Harold gets a job selling vacuum cleaners. Later he is hired to manage the New York World's Fair. When the United States enters World War II, the boys become soldiers and the underaged Frank asks his parents to sign a release so that he can also join the army. Harold reassures a worried Louise, saying that with her as their example, the boys will be fine. Harold and Louise agree that America is a wonderful country because its citizens are free to dream.

Cast

Rosalind Russell

Louise Randall

Jack Carson

Harold Pierson

Robert Hutton

John, age 20-28

Jean Sullivan

Louise, Jr., age 18-26

Donald Woods

Rodney Crane

Alan Hale

Mr. Morton

Andrea King

Barbara, age 21-29

Ann Doran

Alice Abbott

Mona Freeman

Barbara, age 15-20

Robert Arthur

Frankie, age 17

Ray Collins

Mr. Randall

John Qualen

Ole Olsen

Kathleen Lockhart

Mrs. Randall

Ann Todd

Louise Randall, as a girl

Cora Sue Collins

Elinor Randall, as a girl

Andy Clyde

Matt

Arthur Shields

Minister

Helene Thimig

Olga, maid

Greta Granstedt

Anna's maid

Hobart Cavanaugh

Teacher

Eily Malyon

Dean

Craig Stevens

Jack Leslie

John Alvin

Lawton Mackall

Mary Servoss

Rose

Francis Pierlot

Doctor Lewis

Manart Kippen

Doctor Bowditch

George Carleton

Judge

George Meader

Professor

Frank Puglia

Tony

Chester Clute

Proprietor

Irving Bacon

Music shop customer

Barbara Brown

Relief worker

Sig Arno

George

Ann Lawrence

Barbara, age 8-11

Mickey Kuhn

John, age 7-10

Johnny Treul

John, age 14-19

John Calkins

Rodney, age 6-9

Richard Wimer

Rodney, age 13-18

John Sheridan

Rodney, age 19-27

Jo Ann Marlowe

Louise, Jr., age 5-8

Patsy Lee Parsons

Louise, Jr., age 12-17

Gregory Muradian

Frankie, age 3-4

Johnny Sheffield

Frankie, age 9

Buddy Gorman

Florist's boy

Grandon Rhodes

Jewelry salesman

Joyce Compton

Prissy girl

Frank Darien

Timekeeper

Charles Jordan

Man in Morton's office

Charles Coleman

Butler

Russell Simpson

Colonel

Antonio Filauri

Organ grinder man

Victoria Horne

Maid at Millwood

Crane Whitley

Chauffeur at Millwood

Garry Owen

Barber

John O'connor

Attendant at ball

Bobby Hyatt

Baby on pony

Harry Harvey Jr.

Billy Winters

Walter Baldwin

Jake

Emmett Vogan

Auctioneer

Jody Gilbert

Woman in store

Paul Brooks

Workman

Lee Phelps

Man in mill

Lynne Baggett

Salesgirl

Payne Johnson

Newsboy

Charles Sullivan

Taxi driver

William Moss

Sergeant

Bill Hunter

M.P.

James Farley

Gateman

Joe Bernard

Minister

Joe Devlin

Man at shipyard

George Riley

Man at shipyard

Claire Meade

Nurse

Marie Blake

Nurse

Cyril Ring

Lawyer

Frank Mcclure

Lawyer

George Lloyd

Truck driver

Jack Carr

Truck driver

Pierre Watkin

Financier

Charles Anthony Hughes

Financier

Barry Bernard

Pool room man

Eddie Acuff

Pool room man

Harry Seymour

Pool room man

John Miles

Soldier/Polish waiter

John Mylong

Polish waiter

Jeanne Wardley

"Tub" customer

Constance Purdy

"Tub" customer

Ruth Warren

"Tub" customer

Lillian Bronson

"Tub" customer

Richard Bartell

"Tub" customer

Jack Raymond

"Tub" customer

Ferris Taylor

"Tub" customer

Richard Kipling

"Tub" customer

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Biography
Release Date
Mar 3, 1945
Premiere Information
New York opening: 31 Jan 1945
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the book Roughly Speaking by Louise Randall Pierson (New York, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 57m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
11,457ft

Articles

Roughly Speaking


Based on a best-selling autobiography by Louise Randall Pierson, Roughly Speaking (1945) is the story of an ordinary woman in the first half of the 20th century who continually overcomes adversity to build a happy life and a large and devoted family. To direct this heartwarming slice of Americana, Warner Brothers assigned a Hungarian immigrant who was known for mangling the English language, Michael Curtiz. Curtiz may have had a shaky grasp of the language, but he had a firm grasp of what appealed to American audiences, and of how to tell a story.

Curtiz also had an eye for unorthodox, but inspired, casting. Jack Carson had been playing mostly supporting parts, usually loudmouthed bores and buffoons. The role of Pierson's feckless second husband in Roughly Speaking was complex, and producer Henry Blanke had suggested Ray Milland or George Brent. Carson was Curtiz's choice, and his vibrant performance nearly stole the film.

Rosalind Russell had gone from being typecast as a pallid ingenue to being typecast as a knockabout comedienne. And while Roughly Speaking had plenty of comedy, Russell proved, with Curtiz's help, that she also had the considerable dramatic range the role required. In an interview at the time, the director said that, along with Ingrid Bergman, Russell was "one of the finest actresses in Hollywood. No phony, no fake, no fool the audience." For her part, Russell spoke fondly of the notoriously volatile Hungarian, calling him "a soft pushover when he's off the set, away from the camera. A perfectionist, a terribly hard-working, able, ambitious man driven by a love for his work."

Author Louise Randall Pierson wrote the screenplay for Roughly Speaking, and was on the set as technical consultant throughout the filming. She and Curtiz fought over the script. "He reduces me to ashes constantly," Pierson said. Curtiz dismissed her work by saying, in his usual fractured English, "God-damned symbolism, terrific dull, take away, do better." But like many victims of Curtiz's criticism, Pierson's reaction was equal parts amusement, annoyance, and acceptance.

The screenplay was unusually long for a film of that era, probably because Roughly Speaking covered so many years. And maybe for the same reason, the film went over budget and over schedule. In preview screenings, Roughly Speaking ran about two and a half hours, though it was cut down to about two hours in the final release version. Some critics complained about the hurried pace of the film, and box office receipts were lower than usual for a Curtiz film.

But even though Roughly Speaking was not a huge hit, it was generally well-received, and was an important film for three participants. Based on her excellent performance in Roughly Speaking, and her rapport with Curtiz, Rosalind Russell was considered the leading contender to play Mildred Pierce (1945), Curtiz's next film. But Joan Crawford, who had recently been signed to a contract by Warner Brothers, lobbied hard to win the part. Even though Russell didn't play Mildred, the range she showed in Roughly Speaking did help her get a string of heavily dramatic roles, including her Oscar®-nominated one in Mourning becomes Electra (1947). Plus, two of her co-stars in Roughly Speaking did win juicy parts in Mildred Pierce - Jack Carson and young Jo Ann Marlowe, who had played one of the Pierson children; she would play Mildred's younger daughter Kay.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Producer: Henry Blanke
Screenplay: Louise Randall Pierson, based on her book
Cinematography: Joseph Walker
Editor: David Weisbart
Costume Design: Leah Rhodes, Travis Banton
Art Direction: Robert Haas; Set Designer, George James Hopkins
Music: Max Steiner
Cast: Rosalind Russell (Louise Randall), Jack Carson (Harold Pierson), Ann Doran (Alice Abbott), Donald Woods (Rodney Crane), Ray Collins (Mr. Randall), Kathleen Lockhart (Mrs. Randall), Robert Hutton (John, age 20-28), Mona Freeman (Barbara, age 15-20).
BW-117m.

by Margarita Landazuri
Roughly Speaking

Roughly Speaking

Based on a best-selling autobiography by Louise Randall Pierson, Roughly Speaking (1945) is the story of an ordinary woman in the first half of the 20th century who continually overcomes adversity to build a happy life and a large and devoted family. To direct this heartwarming slice of Americana, Warner Brothers assigned a Hungarian immigrant who was known for mangling the English language, Michael Curtiz. Curtiz may have had a shaky grasp of the language, but he had a firm grasp of what appealed to American audiences, and of how to tell a story. Curtiz also had an eye for unorthodox, but inspired, casting. Jack Carson had been playing mostly supporting parts, usually loudmouthed bores and buffoons. The role of Pierson's feckless second husband in Roughly Speaking was complex, and producer Henry Blanke had suggested Ray Milland or George Brent. Carson was Curtiz's choice, and his vibrant performance nearly stole the film. Rosalind Russell had gone from being typecast as a pallid ingenue to being typecast as a knockabout comedienne. And while Roughly Speaking had plenty of comedy, Russell proved, with Curtiz's help, that she also had the considerable dramatic range the role required. In an interview at the time, the director said that, along with Ingrid Bergman, Russell was "one of the finest actresses in Hollywood. No phony, no fake, no fool the audience." For her part, Russell spoke fondly of the notoriously volatile Hungarian, calling him "a soft pushover when he's off the set, away from the camera. A perfectionist, a terribly hard-working, able, ambitious man driven by a love for his work." Author Louise Randall Pierson wrote the screenplay for Roughly Speaking, and was on the set as technical consultant throughout the filming. She and Curtiz fought over the script. "He reduces me to ashes constantly," Pierson said. Curtiz dismissed her work by saying, in his usual fractured English, "God-damned symbolism, terrific dull, take away, do better." But like many victims of Curtiz's criticism, Pierson's reaction was equal parts amusement, annoyance, and acceptance. The screenplay was unusually long for a film of that era, probably because Roughly Speaking covered so many years. And maybe for the same reason, the film went over budget and over schedule. In preview screenings, Roughly Speaking ran about two and a half hours, though it was cut down to about two hours in the final release version. Some critics complained about the hurried pace of the film, and box office receipts were lower than usual for a Curtiz film. But even though Roughly Speaking was not a huge hit, it was generally well-received, and was an important film for three participants. Based on her excellent performance in Roughly Speaking, and her rapport with Curtiz, Rosalind Russell was considered the leading contender to play Mildred Pierce (1945), Curtiz's next film. But Joan Crawford, who had recently been signed to a contract by Warner Brothers, lobbied hard to win the part. Even though Russell didn't play Mildred, the range she showed in Roughly Speaking did help her get a string of heavily dramatic roles, including her Oscar®-nominated one in Mourning becomes Electra (1947). Plus, two of her co-stars in Roughly Speaking did win juicy parts in Mildred Pierce - Jack Carson and young Jo Ann Marlowe, who had played one of the Pierson children; she would play Mildred's younger daughter Kay. Director: Michael Curtiz Producer: Henry Blanke Screenplay: Louise Randall Pierson, based on her book Cinematography: Joseph Walker Editor: David Weisbart Costume Design: Leah Rhodes, Travis Banton Art Direction: Robert Haas; Set Designer, George James Hopkins Music: Max Steiner Cast: Rosalind Russell (Louise Randall), Jack Carson (Harold Pierson), Ann Doran (Alice Abbott), Donald Woods (Rodney Crane), Ray Collins (Mr. Randall), Kathleen Lockhart (Mrs. Randall), Robert Hutton (John, age 20-28), Mona Freeman (Barbara, age 15-20). BW-117m. by Margarita Landazuri

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Roughly Speaking was based on the life of Louise Randall Pierson. Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to her story for $35,000, according to a July 13, 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item. Pierson was the mother of noted writer-director Frank R. Pierson, who won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon. Rosalind Russell and Jack Carson reprised their roles in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on October 8, 1945.