Cast & Crew
O. P. Heggie
In turn-of-the-century England, John Carteret still mourns the death of his fiancée Moonyean Clare, who died on their wedding day in 1868. As John and Moonyean were taking their marriage vows, Jeremy Wayne, a close friend of Moonyean's who had wanted to marry her himself, aimed his pistol at John in a drunken, jealous rage. When the gun discharged, however, the bullet hit Moonyean, who died promising John that she would come back to him. Now John spends his days talking with her spirit in the garden, the place where they were the happiest. Over the years, she has become his only comfort and remains as beautiful as ever. John's friend, Dr. Owen, thinks that John lives too much in the past, and asks him to care for Moonyean's recently orphaned five-year-old niice Kathleen. John is reluctant, but when he meets the sweet child, he cannot send her away and becomes a devoted guardian. By 1915, the child has grown into a beautiful young woman, the image of her late aunt and the light of John's life. She has many suitors, none of whom interest her, until one rainy afternoon when she and her friend Willie Ainley take refuge in a deserted mansion. There she meets the current owner, handsome American Kenneth Wayne, who is Jeremy's son. After Moonyean's death, Jeremy ran away to America and married. Kenneth, who has just come to England to fight in the war, knows nothing of his father's crime, nor does Kathleen, and the two fall in love. When Kathleen tells John about Kenneth, however, he tells her the tragic story of Moonyean, and makes her promise never to see Kenneth again. Because she and Kenneth have fallen so deeply in love, she cannot give him up, however, and continues to meet him in secret. The night before Kenneth is to report for active service, Kathleen tells John that she is going to marry Kenneth that night, and John asks her to leave. Because Kenneth is worried that Kathleen might become a widow, and he knows how much she cares for her guardian, he sends her home without marrying her. After the war ends, Kathleen waits for Kenneth's return and finds him one day in the Wayne house. Because he has been severely wounded in the war, Kenneth does not want to be a burden to Kathleen and pretends that he no longer loves her. Shattered, she returns home, where Dr. Owen tells John what has happened. Walking in the garden, John is joined by the spirit of Moonyean, who tells him to forget the past and help the young lovers. He then summons Kenneth and brings him and Kathleen together so that they will be able to marry and go to America. That evening, after Kathleen and Kenneth have gone, John plays chess with Dr. Owen and apparently falls asleep. When the doctor quietly leaves, Moonyean again appears and takes John's hand. John's body remains in the chair, but his youthful spirit arises and he walks away, hand-in-hand with his beloved Moonyean.
O. P. Heggie
Cora Sue Collins
James Bernard Fagan
Arthur A. Penn
Donald Ogden Stewart
Smilin' Through (1932)
The sentimental story, beginning in 1868 England, tells of a man (Howard) whose fiancee (Shearer) is inadvertently killed on her wedding day by a jealous suitor (March) who intends to shoot her groom. Years later, the Howard character takes in his beloved's orphaned niece (also played by Shearer), who is a dead ringer for his former love and who falls for the son of the jilted suitor (also played by March). The embittered Howard attempts to foil the romance - until the spirit of his youthful love intervenes.
The MGM production, which would win an Academy Award nomination as Best Picture, was given first-class treatment by production supervisor Irving Thalberg, Shearer's husband. Thalberg scored a casting coup by pairing Shearer, who had won an Oscar for The Divorcee (1930), and March, who was about to win for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931). Teaming two of Hollywood's most accomplished and popular actors - in double roles, yet - ensured the movie's commercial success. For Smilin' Through Shearer agreed, at studio head Louis B. Mayer's request, to allow more than one male co-star to receive top billing with her. She did, however, specify that March's and Howard's names appear below her own, "in type no larger than 75% of that used to display my name."
Cameraman Lee Garmes would recall that working with Shearer created unusual problems because she had a cast in one eye and feared being photographed in a manner that would make her look "cross-eyed." The tactful Garmes would find some other excuse if he was forced to interrupt a scene for this reason: "I'd stop the camera and say, loudly, something like, 'A light went out.' And I'd fiddle around a bit until she'd blink a signal at me and she could finish the shot."
Producer: Irving Thalberg (uncredited)
Director: Sidney Franklin
Screenplay: Ernest Vajda, Claudine West, James B. Fagan, Donald Ogden Stewart, from the play by Jane Cowl and Jane Murfin
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Cinematography: Lee Garmes
Costume Design: Adrian
Editing: Margaret Booth
Original Music: William Axt (uncredited)
Cast: Norma Shearer (Kathleen Sheridan/Moonyeen Clare), Fredric March (Kenneth Wayne/Jeremy Wayne), Leslie Howard (Sir John Carteret), O.P. Heggie (Dr. Owen), Ralph Forbes (Willie Ainley).
BW-98m. Closed captioning.
by Roger Fristoe
Smilin' Through (1932)
According to production charts in Hollywood Reporter, in late 1930, Samuel Goldwyn was preparing to produce a version of the story with Joan Bennett as the star. A news item in Hollywood Reporter in December 1931 noted that Hans Kraly and John Meehan were working on a script for the M-G-M film; however, they are not credited onscreen or in reviews, and the extent of their participation in the released film has not been determined. The picture received an Academy Award nomination in the Outstanding Production category. According to the M-G-M "Campaign Book" for a re-release of the film for the 1934-35 season, the picture was brought back "by public demand." A version of the story was performed on radio by Jane Cowl for the Lux Radio Theatre on November 4, 1934 and on the same program on April 29, 1940 starring Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck. M-G-M made another adaptation of the play in 1941, starring Jeanette MacDonald, Brian Aherne and Gene Raymond. The Frank Borzage-directed, musical film was co-written by Donald Ogden Stewart with a storyline that closely followed the earlier version.