Biography of a Bachelor Girl


1h 25m 1935
Biography of a Bachelor Girl

Brief Synopsis

A portrait painter is reunited with a lost love when her upcoming memoirs threaten his political career.

Film Details

Also Known As
Biography of a Bachelor
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 4, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Lake Arrowhead, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Biography by S. N. Behrman (New York, 12 Dec 1932).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

Richard Kurt, a managing editor at a large magazine, is determined to have Bohemian artist Marion Forsythe's autobiography published, and takes a two thousand dollar advance to her to convince her that he is serious. Richard meets the gregarious artist, who has just arrived from Europe, in her ocean liner cabin. He soon learns that Marion's social schedule is so busy that she cannot remember his name from one moment to the next. As Marion flits around her room juggling the demands of her brother-in-law Feydak, the press and a process server, who has come to collect an outstanding debt, Richard tries to distract the celebrity long enough to put forth his proposal, but only manages to voice his contempt for the ways of flighty Bohemians. In the face of destitution and the repossession of her belongings, Marion agrees to Richard's offer. When Slade, the fiancée of senatorial candidate Leander Nolan, comes across a newspaper article announcing the arrival of Marion, Leander's childhood flame, she relates the news to Leander, but he feigns disinterest. Later, the candidate secretly visits Marion, who, at first sight, does not recognize him, to resolve a quarrel they had in Knoxville, Tennessee, their home town, many years earlier. Uninterested in such trivial matters, Marion offers to paint Leander's portrait, which she feels would be a necessary monument to his vanity and senatorial aspirations. Leander and Richard take an immediate dislike to each other, and Richard disparages Marion's tolerance of the shifty political windbag. Fearing that Marion's book would reveal too much of his past with her, Leander desperately tries to stop the book's publication, even offering Marion money to discontinue her plans, but she insists on finishing her memoirs. Richard, appalled at the candidate's attempt at bribery, hopes that the book will ruin his chances of winning an election, and taunts Leander by pretending to have read the scandalous references to her old flame. Realizing that Marion is offered little privacy in her home, Richard decides to take her to a secluded cabin at Moose Lake, Maine, where she can write in peace. Again, Richard discounts Marion's Bohemian lifestyle, criticizing her superficial and casual manner, but soon finds that he has become enamored with her, despite her flaws. Meanwhile, Leander discovers Marion's whereabouts and seeks her out to make her realize how much unhappiness she has caused him. At the same time, the suspicious, jealous bride-to-be, Slade, follows him there and chaos ensues. In the confusion, the dejected Leander confesses that he is afraid of his fiancée and deeply in love with Marion. Leander proposes marriage to Marion, but she tells him that she has fallen in love with Richard. When Marion threatens to leave Richard forever unless he tells her that he loves her, he admits that he is uncomfortable with expressing his feelings toward her, but then admits that he is indeed in love with her.

Film Details

Also Known As
Biography of a Bachelor
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 4, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Lake Arrowhead, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Biography by S. N. Behrman (New York, 12 Dec 1932).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Articles

Biography of a Bachelor Girl


By 1935 the Production Code had new teeth. The notorious self-censorship decree for Hollywood pictures had existed since 1930, but directors of racy romps like Red Dust (1932) and Scarface (1932) were free to flaunt its prudish rules. But when ultra-Catholic moral crusader Joseph I. Breen was appointed head of the Code, suddenly there was a new sherrif in town. Projects likethe film adaptation of New Yorker writer S. N. Behrman's play "Biography" were now scrutinized, and. screenwriters Anita Loos (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) and Horace Jackson had the delicate task of adapting its story of a bohemian artist (Ann Harding) torn between a book editor (Robert Montgomery) who wants her to write a tell-all memoir, and the politically prominent former lover (Edward Everett Horton) who wants her to keep mum about their fling -- all without really mentioning the topic of sex. (Even so, the censors were so jumpy they misheard the line "you used to be a nice boy, fun occasionally" as "fornicationally".) Harding brings her best patrician air to the role (she was renowned among early sound actors for her faultless, theatrical diction) but lines like "Are you vertical or horizontal, bunny?" that Mae West could have twisted into a lasso sound daffy instead of lethal.
Biography Of A Bachelor Girl

Biography of a Bachelor Girl

By 1935 the Production Code had new teeth. The notorious self-censorship decree for Hollywood pictures had existed since 1930, but directors of racy romps like Red Dust (1932) and Scarface (1932) were free to flaunt its prudish rules. But when ultra-Catholic moral crusader Joseph I. Breen was appointed head of the Code, suddenly there was a new sherrif in town. Projects likethe film adaptation of New Yorker writer S. N. Behrman's play "Biography" were now scrutinized, and. screenwriters Anita Loos (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) and Horace Jackson had the delicate task of adapting its story of a bohemian artist (Ann Harding) torn between a book editor (Robert Montgomery) who wants her to write a tell-all memoir, and the politically prominent former lover (Edward Everett Horton) who wants her to keep mum about their fling -- all without really mentioning the topic of sex. (Even so, the censors were so jumpy they misheard the line "you used to be a nice boy, fun occasionally" as "fornicationally".) Harding brings her best patrician air to the role (she was renowned among early sound actors for her faultless, theatrical diction) but lines like "Are you vertical or horizontal, bunny?" that Mae West could have twisted into a lasso sound daffy instead of lethal.

Quotes

Trivia

S.N. Berman's play, "Biography," opened in New York on 12 December 1932.

The line "You used to be quite a nice boy - fun occasionally" prompted a complaint letter to the Hays office from the International Federation of Catholic Alumnae, the members of which heard "You used to be quite a nice boy - fornicationally."

Notes

The working title of this film was Biography of a Bachelor. A Daily Variety pre-release news item notes that some filming took place on location at Lake Arrowhead, CA. According to the file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, an M-G-M reader who attended the opening of S. N. Behrman's play noted that the story was "suitable for Norma Shearer." In June 1933, the Hays Office warned M-G-M producer E. J. Mannix that the story contained "one dangerous element, in the various affairs which the heroine is portrayed as having indulged in." The Hays Office reiterated its objection to the characterization of "Marion" in July 1934, stating that she is "a woman who has gained considerable notoriety through a succession of affairs with men. Such a characterization is, of course, unacceptable under the Code." Thalberg reportedly responded to the Hays Office complaints by agreeing to "add lines from Marion indicating that she regrets her loose life; a line definitely establishing that she and Kurt do not sleep together in the mountain cabin...[and] a line for an earlier scene in which she implies that gossip about her is exaggerated." At the time of the film's release, the Hays Office received a letter from the International Federation of Catholic Alumnae expressing the organization's outrage over the inclusion of the following line in the film: "Of course you were always interesting, even fornicationally." Joseph Breen of the Hays Office reacted quickly to the letter and stated: "We were astounded when we read this letter....It [the film] was witnessed by four of our staff, none of whom caught the line at all." The film was sent back for a second review to find the line in question, but no such line was found. Instead, Breen suggested that the following line spoken by Ann Harding to Edward Everett Horton was misunderstood: "You used to be quite a nice boy-even fun occasionally." A Prudential Playhouse version of S. N. Behrman's play, entitled Biography, was broadcast on October 10, 1950 on the CBS television network. The teleplay was directed by Donald Davis and starred Gertrude Lawrence and Kevin McCarthy.