Saratoga


1h 34m 1937
Saratoga

Brief Synopsis

A horse breeder's daughter falls for a bookie.

Photos & Videos

Saratoga - Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Romantic Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jul 23, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Synopsis

Bookie Duke Bradley reluctantly accepts the deed to his friend Frank Clayton's horse farm out of fondness for him and Clayton's crusty father, Grandpa. When Clayton dies of a heart attack during an important race, just after his daughter Carol returns from a long stay in Europe, Duke offers to forgive the debt. Her fiancé, millionaire Hartley Madison, wants to pay Duke, but Carol vows to repay the loan to Duke before she marries, through her own efforts as a handicapper. Although they are frequently at odds, Duke and Carol fall in love as they travel from track to track on the "racing special" train. Despite his feelings for Carol, Duke is trying to coax Hartley into betting huge sums as recompense for money that Hartley won from him years before. As a result, Carol is suspicious of Duke's feelings and tells Hartley that she will marry him as soon as her horse wins the big Saratoga race. Hartley makes the race even more important when he places a large bet with Duke on Carol's horse, even though the favorite is a horse owned by Fritzi Kiffmeyer, an old friend of Duke's who is now married to a cosmetics tycoon. The race is a "photo finish," which necessitates projection of the motion picture footage of the finish line to determine the winner. As the spectators of the race results are cheering on their horses, Carol suddenly begins to cheer for Fritzi's horse because she doesn't want Duke to be ruined. When Fritzi's horse is proclaimed the winner, Duke and Carol take each other's hands. Finally, Carol and Duke are riding on another "racing special," happy to be together.

Photo Collections

Saratoga - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken during production of MGM's Saratoga (1937), starring Jean Harlow (her last film), Clark Gable, and Lionel Barrymore, and directed by Jack Conway.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Romantic Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jul 23, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Articles

Saratoga


Originally, Saratoga (1937) was intended as another romantic comedy starring Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. However, last minute contractual difficulties prevented Lombard from playing opposite her real life love interest.

At the time production began, Jean Harlow was going through a very tumultuous period in her life. The actress was recovering from extensive oral surgery - her wisdom teeth grew in and became impacted. She was also dealing with the aftermath of a string of failed relationships. Her second husband, Paul Bern, committed suicide in 1932. Then, in 1934, she divorced her third husband, director Hal (Harold) Rosson after only one year of marriage. At the time of her death she wanted to marry actor William Powell but he was opposed to it after two unsuccessful marriages.

Meanwhile, Harlow and Gable had proven their onscreen chemistry in a total of seven movies, including Red Dust (1932), China Seas (1935) and, Wife vs. Secretary (1936). So it was no surprise when MGM head, Louis B. Mayer, tapped Harlow to star opposite Gable in Saratoga.

In the film, Harlow plays Carol Clayton, the daughter of an incorrigible gambler, who loses his fortune (a lucrative horse farm), to his good friend and bookmaker, Duke Bradley (Clark Gable). At the time of the transaction, Frank Clayton (Jonathan Hale), vows that he will never allow his daughter to become involved in the seedy side of the track. Soon after, Hale dies and Carol learns the truth about her father's vices, realizing she'll have to buy back the home in which she had grown up. Although she's just recently become engaged to Hartley Madison (Walter Pidgeon), an extremely wealthy stockbroker, Harlow is determined to earn capital in an "honest" way by betting her own money at the racetrack. As expected, spending time at the track puts her in close contact with Duke. The sexual tension between the two develops into a mutual attraction, but once Carol declares her love for Duke, he spurns her affection and admits he doesn't love her and never will. Of course, the story doesn't end there.

Saratoga would be Jean Harlow's last movie. Near the end of filming, Harlow collapsed on the set while doing a scene with Walter Pidgeon. Director Jack Conway told Harlow to have lunch and rest in her dressing room. The young starlet ended up going home where she stayed for several days. When she finally went to the hospital it was too late. Jean Harlow died of kidney failure at the age of 26. At the time she died, little was known of this illness and many early symptoms simply weren't recognized. Harlow had suffered sun poisoning months before shooting, never fully recovering, and when her wisdom teeth became impacted her condition became critical. It also didn't help that Jean's physician was not one of the better-regarded doctors in Hollywood.

But MGM successfully kept Harlow's health problems concealed so her sudden death came as a complete and total shock. Naturally, rumors abounded. Among them was the widespread belief that her mother, a devout Christian Scientist, prevented her from seeking the medical attention she needed.

Aside from the controversy surrounding the death of Hollywood's most popular female sex symbol, Louis B. Mayer was faced with the dilemma of having to finish a film without the lead actress. Initially, Mayer suggested discarding all the Harlow material and shooting the film with a different actress. This notion was short-lived, however, when the studio was overwhelmed with fan mail beseeching them to release Harlow's final film.

MGM relented and after an exhaustive search to find a stand-in for the late actress, Mary Dees, who had stood in for Harlow in two previous movies, was chosen to serve as Harlow's double. The final scenes were shot from behind the actress who donned very large, floppy hats. Because Dees' voice was much higher than Harlow's, Paula Winslow was chosen to be the voice double. To this day, movie lovers attempt to differentiate between the real Harlow and her body double.

Saratoga was released on July 23, 1937, less than one month after Jean Harlow died. The public, grateful to see Harlow in her last role, lined up in droves at the box office and the movie became one of the biggest moneymakers of the year.

Director: Jack Conway
Producer: Bernard H. Hyman
Screenplay: Anita Loos, Robert E. Hopkins
Cinematography: Ray June
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, John S. Detlie
Music: Edward Ward
Cast: Jean Harlow (Carol Clayton), Clark Gable (Duke Bradley), Lionel Barrymore (Grandpa Clayton), Walter Pidgeon (Hartley Madison), Frank Morgan (Jesse Kiffmeyer).
BW-93m. Closed captioning.

by Mary Anne Melear
Saratoga

Saratoga

Originally, Saratoga (1937) was intended as another romantic comedy starring Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. However, last minute contractual difficulties prevented Lombard from playing opposite her real life love interest. At the time production began, Jean Harlow was going through a very tumultuous period in her life. The actress was recovering from extensive oral surgery - her wisdom teeth grew in and became impacted. She was also dealing with the aftermath of a string of failed relationships. Her second husband, Paul Bern, committed suicide in 1932. Then, in 1934, she divorced her third husband, director Hal (Harold) Rosson after only one year of marriage. At the time of her death she wanted to marry actor William Powell but he was opposed to it after two unsuccessful marriages. Meanwhile, Harlow and Gable had proven their onscreen chemistry in a total of seven movies, including Red Dust (1932), China Seas (1935) and, Wife vs. Secretary (1936). So it was no surprise when MGM head, Louis B. Mayer, tapped Harlow to star opposite Gable in Saratoga. In the film, Harlow plays Carol Clayton, the daughter of an incorrigible gambler, who loses his fortune (a lucrative horse farm), to his good friend and bookmaker, Duke Bradley (Clark Gable). At the time of the transaction, Frank Clayton (Jonathan Hale), vows that he will never allow his daughter to become involved in the seedy side of the track. Soon after, Hale dies and Carol learns the truth about her father's vices, realizing she'll have to buy back the home in which she had grown up. Although she's just recently become engaged to Hartley Madison (Walter Pidgeon), an extremely wealthy stockbroker, Harlow is determined to earn capital in an "honest" way by betting her own money at the racetrack. As expected, spending time at the track puts her in close contact with Duke. The sexual tension between the two develops into a mutual attraction, but once Carol declares her love for Duke, he spurns her affection and admits he doesn't love her and never will. Of course, the story doesn't end there. Saratoga would be Jean Harlow's last movie. Near the end of filming, Harlow collapsed on the set while doing a scene with Walter Pidgeon. Director Jack Conway told Harlow to have lunch and rest in her dressing room. The young starlet ended up going home where she stayed for several days. When she finally went to the hospital it was too late. Jean Harlow died of kidney failure at the age of 26. At the time she died, little was known of this illness and many early symptoms simply weren't recognized. Harlow had suffered sun poisoning months before shooting, never fully recovering, and when her wisdom teeth became impacted her condition became critical. It also didn't help that Jean's physician was not one of the better-regarded doctors in Hollywood. But MGM successfully kept Harlow's health problems concealed so her sudden death came as a complete and total shock. Naturally, rumors abounded. Among them was the widespread belief that her mother, a devout Christian Scientist, prevented her from seeking the medical attention she needed. Aside from the controversy surrounding the death of Hollywood's most popular female sex symbol, Louis B. Mayer was faced with the dilemma of having to finish a film without the lead actress. Initially, Mayer suggested discarding all the Harlow material and shooting the film with a different actress. This notion was short-lived, however, when the studio was overwhelmed with fan mail beseeching them to release Harlow's final film. MGM relented and after an exhaustive search to find a stand-in for the late actress, Mary Dees, who had stood in for Harlow in two previous movies, was chosen to serve as Harlow's double. The final scenes were shot from behind the actress who donned very large, floppy hats. Because Dees' voice was much higher than Harlow's, Paula Winslow was chosen to be the voice double. To this day, movie lovers attempt to differentiate between the real Harlow and her body double. Saratoga was released on July 23, 1937, less than one month after Jean Harlow died. The public, grateful to see Harlow in her last role, lined up in droves at the box office and the movie became one of the biggest moneymakers of the year. Director: Jack Conway Producer: Bernard H. Hyman Screenplay: Anita Loos, Robert E. Hopkins Cinematography: Ray June Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, John S. Detlie Music: Edward Ward Cast: Jean Harlow (Carol Clayton), Clark Gable (Duke Bradley), Lionel Barrymore (Grandpa Clayton), Walter Pidgeon (Hartley Madison), Frank Morgan (Jesse Kiffmeyer). BW-93m. Closed captioning. by Mary Anne Melear

Quotes

Honey, I love ya!
- Duke Bradley
We women can do things to a man we love that men wouldn't do to a rattlesnake.
- Fritzi 'Muggins' Kiffmeyer

Trivia

In May of 1937, with the film about 90% completed, Jean Harlow collapsed on the set and died about a week later, reportedly of uremic poisoning. Her remaining scenes were shot with double Mary Dees being filmed only from behind. Paula Winslowe supplied the voice.

MGM executives planned to shelve the movie or re-shoot Harlow's scenes, perhaps with Virginia Bruce or Jean Arthur. But the reception of the audience at a preview in late June and a barrage of fan mail urging release Harlow's last film changed their minds.

Clark Gable advised MGM executives of the star potential of Edward James Flanagan (Dennis O'Keefe), who had a small part in this movie. O'Keefe was finally given a co-starring role in Bad Men of Brimstone, The (1937).

Notes

According to various contemporary news items, Robert Hopkins submitted his treatment of Saratoga, based on his original story, in late July 1935 as a vehicle for Jean Harlow. In December 1936, Hollywood Reporter reported that the picture was to star Clark Gable and Joan Crawford after a deal with Paramount to borrow Carole Lombard for the picture fell through. Harlow was again reported as the star in the early Spring of 1937. Other news items note that photographer Clyde De Vinna filmed background locations for the film in Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky and in Saratoga, New York, along with assistant producer O. O. Dull and assistant director James Dugan, and that seven-month-old triplets, Jann, Kathleen and Sheila Andrews were to be in the film. Although some babies were seen in the viewed print, none of the Andrews triplets are mentioned in any cast lists and their participation in the released film has not been confirmed. Walter Pidgeon was borrowed from Universal for the film. This was his first picture for M-G-M, a studio to which he would go under contract in 1938 and continue to work for until the mid-1950s.
       According to a Hollywood Reporter production chart, John Eldredge was also in the cast, but he was not in the released film. Harlow died on June 7, 1937 at the age of twenty-six, before completion of this film. According to news items in trade papers of the time, M-G-M was planning to shelve the picture or re-shoot Harlow's scenes with another actress, possibly Virginia Bruce or Jean Arthur. The decision to recoup the $300,000 negative cost of the film was reported in Hollywood Reporter on June 11, 1937. News items in Hollywood Reporter mentioned that a preview of the film in late June encouraged M-G-M executives that audiences would not be adverse to seeing the film with the recently deceased star. They decided to complete it as shot using Harlow's stand-in, Mary Dees, in some of the scenes. On 31 Jul, M-G-M took out an ad in Hollywood Reporter thanking the public for the outpouring of fan mail encouraging them not to shelve the picture and to edit it in "record time" for a July release. Most reviews were positive on the film but did note the sadness of seeing Harlow on screen after her death. According to modern sources, during film on Saratoga, Gable brought the actor billed in the CBCS as "Edward James Flanagan," to the attention of studio executives as a potential star. Flanagan acted in several additional "bit" parts in 1937, either as Bud Flanagan or Edward James Flanagan, until he received a co-starring role under the name Dennis O'Keefe in The Bad Man of Brimstone in late 1937.