Cast & Crew
On 7 May, 1945, at the end of World War II, George Boswell, the mayor of Browdley, an impoverished mill town in England, remembers the last twenty-six years of his life: As an enthusiastic city councillor and newspaper editor, George champions the appointment of Olivia Channing to the post of assistant librarian, even though the town has long condemned Olivia father's John for closing down his mills and plunging the people into desperate poverty. Impressed by George's defense of her, Olivia contrives to bring him to her isolated, hilltop mansion, Stoneclough. There George meets the sick and lonely John, whose only friend is the town's doctor, Richard Whiteside. Although the reform-minded George is ambiguous in his feelings about John, his attraction to Olivia and her unconventional ways quickly grows. One day, a distraught Olivia confides in George that she is in danger of losing Stoneclough because of unpaid bills. Later, as George is walking Olivia home during a raging storm, he proposes marriage, but receives no answer. After George leaves her at Stoneclough, Olivia has a violent argument with her father, who then catches a ride to town with Richard. On the way down the hillside, Richard's car crashes over an enbankment where the road has washed out, and John is killed. When George rushes to Stoneclough with the news, Olivia is already grieving and suddenly accepts George's proposal. During their London honeymoon, George meets with Wetherall, Browdley's representative in Parliament, who, along with Olivia, encourages George's political ambitions. Three years later, Olivia and George are living in town with their son Martin when Richard, who has slipped into alcoholism, gives George a paper he has written about health conditions in the overcrowded houses of Browdley. When George shows Richard's paper to influential businessman Trevor Mengin, who has interests in three Browdley mills, Mengin dismisses the report as too negative. Later, Wetherall tells Olivia that he is retiring from Parliament, but feels that George is still too inexperienced to take his place. Despite Wetherall's apprehensions, George accepts Mengin's offer to stand for Wetherall's seat and begins a campaign calling for social reform, but backed by Mengin's business interests. During the campaign, however, a diphtheria epidemic breaks out because of the unsanitary conditions in the slum housing, and Richard demands that the city council open a free clinic. Later George insists that Olivia have Martin immunized at the clinic, but she becomes impatient there and leaves without getting the shot. The epidemic and George's realization that Mengin has been manipulating him cause the councilman to drop out of the race. The ambitious Olivia is outraged by George's decision, declaring that she has no special concern for the poor's children, only her own. Then, Martin falls ill with diphtheria and dies. Overwhelmed with grief and disappointment, Olivia divorces George and goes to Switzerland. Many years later, after George has been elected Browdley's mayor, the Channing mills suddenly reopen, and George discovers that Olivia has returned with Charles Winslow, her grown son from her second marriage, who is on a brief leave from the military. When a worker is seriously hurt at a Channing mill, George reluctantly visits the widowed Olivia at Stoneclough to discuss safety conditions, but she persists in her attitude of social indifference. Just then, however, Olivia learns that Charles was shot down during battle and is recuperating at a nearby hospital. Although the sight of Charles' scarred face horrifies Olivia, she dedicates herself to his recovery and, over the next months, becomes obsessed with caring for him. In particular, the domineering Olivia objects to Charles' romance with Richard's adopted daughter Julie and pressures him to leave the hospital, where Julie works as an aide, and move in with her. When Charles, who has already obtained a marriage license with Julie, gives in to his mother, Julie is devastated. As George and Richard are about to celebrate the end of the war, they learn of Julie's plight, and Richard finally reveals to his friend his suspicion that, after she quarreled with her father about marrying George, whom John wanted to protect from his conniving daughter, Olivia allowed him to drive in the storm, even though she knew about the washed-out road. At Stoneclough, George then confronts Charles and accuses him of cowardice. George's words cause Charles to leave home to marry Julie that night, and George happily tells Olivia that her manipulations have failed. Finally free from Olivia's grasp, George joins his fellow townspeople in celebrating the war's end.
W. H. Lindop
J. Arthur Rank
William E. Watts
L. P. Williams
Frederick A. Young
So Well Remembered
Mills, born in North Elmham, Norfolk, in 1908, began his career as a song-and-dance man in England in 1929. After theater experience that included the 1938 season at the Old Vic, he made his film debut in 1932. After wartime service in the British Army, he attracted attention in such patriotic films as In Which We Serve (1942), This Happy Breed (1944) and Scott of the Antarctic (1948). He played the adult Pip in David Lean's Great Expectations (1946) and would later win an Oscar® as Best Supporting Actor for his role as the village idiot in Lean's Ryan's Daughter (1970). Among his many other outstanding film performances are those in Hobson's Choice (1954), Tunes of Glory (1960) and Gandhi (1982). He was knighted in 1976. Married to playwright Mary Hayley Bell, Mills is the father of actresses Hayley and Juliet Mills, both of whom appear in So Well Remembered, although Hayley's bit as an infant is uncredited. Even though he has lost his sight, Sir John continues to perform with his wife's assistance.
Because director Dmytryk, producer Adrian Scott and composer Hanns Eisler were being scrutinized by Hollywood red-baiters at the time, So Well Remembered suffered unfair accusations that its attitudes were Communist-inspired. The same year of the film's release, Dmytryk and Scott became members of the "Hollywood Ten" and were sentenced to one-year jail terms for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities committee. Dmytryk salvaged his career by becoming a friendly witness in the second round of hearings of the committee in 1951, identifying Scott and others as Communists. Dmytryk went on to direct such films as Raintree County (1957), Walk on the Wild Side (1962) and The Human Factor (1975). But So Well Remembered was the final film credit for Scott. The German-born Eisler, deported as an unfriendly witness, resumed his career in Europe.
Producer: Adrian Scott, Ruby Rosenberg (associate)
Director: Edward Dmytryk
Screenplay: John Paxton, from novel by James Hilton
Art Direction: Lawrence P. Williams
Cinematography: Freddie Young
Costume Design: Renie
Editing: Harry W. Gerstad, Douglas Robertson (supervising)
Original Music: Hanns Eisler
Cast: John Mills (George Boswell), Martha Scott (Olivia Channing/Olivia Boswell/Olivia Winslow), Patricia Roc (Julie Morgan), Trevor Howard (Dr. Richard Whiteside), Richard Carlson (Charles Winslow).
by Roger Fristoe
So Well Remembered
Martha Scott, 1914-2003
Martha Ellen Scott was born in Jamesport, Missouri on September 24, 1914, and raised in Kansas City, where a high school teacher encouraged her interest in acting. She majored in drama at the University of Michigan and after graduation, she joined The Globe Theatre Troupe, a stock company that performed truncated Shakespeare at the Chicago World's Fair in between 1933-34. She went to New York soon after and found work in radio and stock before playing making her breakthrough as Emily Webb in Our Town. When the play opened on Broadway in February 1938, Scott received glowing reviews in the pivotal role of Emily, the wistful girl-next-door in Grovers Corners, New Hampshire, who marries her high school sweetheart, dies in pregnancy and gets to relive a single day back on Earth. Her stage success brought her to Hollywood, where she continued her role in Sam Wood's film adaptation of Out Town (1940). Scott received an Academy Award nomination for best actress and was immediately hailed as the year's new female discovery.
She gave nicely understated performances in her next few films: as Jane Peyton Howard in Frank Lloyd's historical The Howards of Virginia (1940), opposite Cary Grant; the dedicated school teacher in Tay Garnett's Cheers for Miss Bishop (1941) in which she aged convincingly from 17 to 85; and as a devoted wife to preacher Frederic March in Irving Rapper's warm family drama One Foot in Heaven (1941). Sadly, Scott's maturity and sensitivity ran against the glamour-girl persona that was popular in the '40s (best embodied by stars like Lana Turner and Veronica Lake) and her film appearances were few and far between for the remainder of the decade.
Her fortunes brightened in the '50s, when she found roles in major productions, such as a suburban wife trapped in her home by fugitives, led by Humphrey Bogart, in William Wyler's taut The Desperate Hours (1955) and played Charlton Heston's mother in the Cecil B. Demille's The Ten Commandments (1956) and again for William Wyler in Ben-Hur (1959). Scott found steady work for the next 30 years in matronly roles, most notably on television, where she played Bob Newhart's mother on The Bob Newhart Show (1972-1978) and the mother of Sue Ellen Ewing on Dallas (1978-1991). Her second husband, pianist and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Mel Powell, died in 1998. Survivors include a son and two daughters.
by Michael T. Toole
Martha Scott, 1914-2003
So Well Remembered was to be the first of two films co-produced by RKO and J. Arthur Rank's British company, Alliance Production, Ltd. The two companies, however, made only one picture together. Hollywood Reporter news items add the following information about the production: RKO paid author James Hilton $100,000 plus ten percent of the film's gross after the first $1,500,000 for the screen rights to his novel. Hilton also acted as the film's narrator, supplying voice-over throughout the story. RKO and Alliance were to share production costs equally, which were estimated at between $1,200,000 and $1,500,000. In February 1946, Irving Reis was announced as the picture's director and British actor Robert Donat, its star. Reis was forced to leave the production, however, because of a stomach illness. RKO producer Adrian Scott was working on a "polish" of the script at that time. In June 1946, after Edward Dmytryk had been signed to direct, RKO borrowed Patricia Roc from Alliance, and Anne Shirley was announced as the film's probable second lead. American actress Martha Scott was eventually cast in the part, however. Because of his success in David Lean's 1946 film Brief Encounter, Trevor Howard was "elevated" to co-star and received "above title" billing for this film. In addition to studio filming in Denham, location shooting was done in Macclesfield, northern England, in September 1946. Although John Mills's daughter Juliet first appeared as an infant in the British production In Which We Serve, So Well Remembered was her first credited role. Modern sources add that Mills's second daughter Hayley appeared as an infant in the film. Many reviewers commented on the film's social content, specifically its highly critical view of the British industrial system. In her October 30, 1947 "Looking at Hollywood" column, Hedda Hopper wrote about the picture: "I urge you to see it. Then decide for yourself whether or not Hollywood is capable of inserting lefty propaganda in its films."
On September 22, 1949, the Hallmark Playhouse broadcast a radio adaptation of the film, starring Van Heflin.