Cast & Crew
After Broadway actress Judy Carroll testifies in court on behalf of accused embezzler Commissioner Al Howard, her former lover, she loses custody of orphan Elizabeth, called "Lilybet", whom she had longed to adopt. Devastated by the loss, Judy takes the advice of her longtime manager and would-be lover, Antonie "Tony" de Sola, and travels to Europe with her alcoholic mother. While in Europe, she reads a play called Rockabye , whose plot echoes much of her recent life and, against Tony's wishes, pushes to do a production of it on Broadway. Playwright Jacob "Jake" Van Riker Pell, however, has doubts about Judy's ability to play the part of a tough "Second Avenue" girl, stating that she is too sophisticated, but has a change of heart when Judy reveals that she was brought up on Second Avenue and learned to be a "lady" from Tony. After a fun-filled, romantic evening on the town with Jake, whom Judy learns is soon to be divorced, Judy convinces Tony to produce Rockabye . Soon after, while they are picnicking together, Jake suggests to Judy that they marry as soon as his divorce is final and is accepted by Judy without reservations. At a party for the successful premiere of Rockabye , however, which Jake fails to attend, Jake's mother visits Judy and, reporting that Jake's wife has just had a baby, admonishes Judy to relinquish Jake from his promise of marriage. Stunned by the news, Judy announces her intention to marry Tony and sarcastically dismisses Jake when he finally arrives at the party. Although Jake vows that he will leave his wife for her, Judy adamantly insists that he return to his family. Her love sacrificed, Judy then finds solace in the faithful, understanding arms of Tony.
J. M. Kerrigan
Nacio Herb Brown
George D. Ellis
David O. Selznick
Rockabye was based on an unpublished play of the same name by Lucia Bronder that came from her short story Our Judy. Under the watchful eye of famed producer David O. Selznick, Rockabye originally had director George Fitzmaurice at the helm along with actor Phillips Holmes in the role of Jake. There was pressure on RKO to quickly deliver a fresh Constance Bennett vehicle since her recent film What Price Hollywood? (1932) had been a runaway box office hit. However, when the hastily assembled first version of Rockabye was shown to studio executives, it was deemed not good enough to release.
In an effort to salvage the film, Selznick brought in director George Cukor, who had made What Price Hollywood? a hit, to work his magic. Cukor did three weeks of extensive re-shoots using Joel McCrea to replace Phillips Holmes and actress Jobyna Howland to play Judy's mother "Snooks" Carroll, a role originally played by Laura Hope Crews.
After the new version of Rockabye had been re-assembled in the editing room under Cukor's supervision, it was finally released to the eager public. While the critics' reception to the film was cool, audiences still made it a respectable hit at the box office.
Watch for Walter Pidgeon in a small role near the beginning of Rockabye as Commissioner Al Howard.
Producer: David O. Selznick
Director: George Cukor; George Fitzmaurice (uncredited)
Screenplay: Jane Murfin (screenplay); Kubec Glasmon (screenplay, uncredited); Lucia Bronder (play)
Cinematography: Charles Rosher
Art Direction: Carroll Clark
Music: Harry Akst, Jeanne Borlini, Nacio Herb Brown, Edward Eliscu
Film Editing: George Hively
Cast: Constance Bennett (Judy Carroll), Joel McCrea (Jacobs 'Jake' Van Riker Pell), Paul Lukas (Antonie De Sola), Jobyna Howland ('Snooks' Carroll), Walter Pidgeon (Commissioner Al Howard), Clara Blandick (Brida), Walter Catlett (Jimmy Dunn), Virginia Hammond (Mrs. Van Riker Pell), J.M. Kerrigan (Fagin), June Filmer (Elizabeth 'Lilybet').
by Andrea Passafiume
This was the last film released under the RKO-Pathe name. The company was taken over by RKO Radio shortly after the film's release.
Lucia Bonder's play was based on her short story "Our Judy," which was published in Smart Set Magazine (date undetermined). According to a Film Daily news item, RKO purchased the rights to the play from Gloria Swanson. Despite poor reviews, Rockabye performed well at the box office, actually grossing slightly more than What Price Hollywood? in its first weeks of distribution, according to RKO records. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, George Fitzmaurice, whom RKO borrowed from M-G-M, was the original director of the film, but resigned on September 16, 1932 because of a disagreement with the producers. After George Cukor was brought in to direct, Jobyna Howland replaced Laura Hope Crews in the role of "Snooks Carroll," and Joel McCrea replaced Phillips Holmes, whom RKO had borrowed from Paramount, in the role of "Jake." Modern sources add the following information about the production: RKO rushed the script into production with Fitzmaurice at the helm in order to meet the exhibitors' deadline for a new "Bennett" film. The studio broke speed records for shooting and editing, but when the film was shown to executives, it was declared unreleasable. To save the production, RKO brought in Cukor. After two or three weeks of reshooting and editing with the new actors, the film was ready for release. Modern sources add the following cast members: Lita Chevret (Party guest), Edwin Stanley (Defense attorney) and Richard Carle (Doc). Although one modern source claims that "Lilybet" was "Judy's" illegitimate child, it was not obvious from viewing the film that "Judy" was supposed to be the girl's natural mother.