The Church Mouse


1h 16m 1934
The Church Mouse

Brief Synopsis

When a meek secretary goes to work for a powerful banker, she turns into a sophisticated, worldly woman.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Drama
Release Date
Dec 15, 1934
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
First National Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play A Templom Egere by Ladislaus Fodor (Budapest, 2 Dec 1927).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Sound
Mono (RCA Photophone)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,983ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

Banker Jonathan Steele finds his beautiful secretary, Sylvia James, a distraction during business hours, so he proposes to make her his mistress. A window cleaner overhears their conversation and telephones his friend, Betty Miller, to notify her of the secretarial opening. A drab woman with little personality, Betty, Steele decides, will not meet the fate of her predecessor and he hires her. He is pleased by her efficiency and does not notice that she is falling in love with him. One of her jobs is keeping women away from her boss, a task she accepts with pleasure. Steele and Betty make a business trip to Paris, where he learns she has been keeping even Sylvia away from him. He orders her to personally apologize to Sylvia with a bouquet of flowers. Betty and Sylvia have a talk during which Betty learns how to make a man fall in love with her. She applies Sylvia's techniques, and for extra insurance, she schedules appointments that will keep Steele busy all night long so that he is unable to keep his date with Sylvia. Steele falls madly in love with Betty, offering her the same arrangement he made with Sylvia. Betty, however, holds out for marriage and finally Steele agrees.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Drama
Release Date
Dec 15, 1934
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
First National Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play A Templom Egere by Ladislaus Fodor (Budapest, 2 Dec 1927).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Sound
Mono (RCA Photophone)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,983ft (8 reels)

Articles

The Church Mouse


Sometimes Warner Bros.' British productions were like revolving doors, with fading stars from the U.S. turning up in leads as young English actors made their final appearances at home before trying their luck in Hollywood, often at Warner's Burbank studios. That was certainly the case with the 1934 romantic comedy, The Church Mouse, co-starring silent screen star Laura La Plante and future U.S. émigré Ian Hunter.

The film was a re-make of Warner's 1932 Beauty and the Boss, which had starred Marian Marsh as a fashion-challenged secretary in love with womanizing boss Warren William. It had all started with Ladislas Fodor's play A Templom Egere, a Hungarian comedy that had given Ruth Gordon a Broadway hit in 1931 under the title A Church Mouse. Warner Bros. served it all up in properly naughty, pre-Code style, with the Baron's girlfriends clearly his mistresses and often displayed in various forms of undress. For their British version, filmed as stricter censorship was coming in, the boss's relationship with the secretary he had fired for being too distracting never quite made it into the bedroom. The focus remained unchanged, however, with La Plante cast as the perfect secretary, who impresses Hunter by breaking into his office to apply for the job and taking dictation faster than he can toss it at her. With her close-cropped blonde hair and peppy efficiency, she's like an earlier version of Doris Day in such career-girl sex comedies as Pillow Talk (1959) and Lover Come Back (1961).

La Plante had gotten into movies at the age of 15, when she was chosen as a Christie Comedy Bathing Beauty. She worked her way up to leading roles, eventually signing at Universal Pictures, where she was the threatened heroine in the horror comedy The Cat and the Canary (1927) and Magnolia Hawks in the first film version of Show Boat (1929). With the arrival of talking pictures, although she had a perfectly acceptable voice, she was soon overshadowed by younger actresses. After leaving Universal, she took off for England, where she starred in five films at Warner Bros.' Teddington Studios. After marrying Teddington's director of production, Irving Asher, she retired from the screen, although she was among the actresses considered for the role of Nora Charles when Myrna Loy started fighting MGM for a better contract.

Co-star Ian Hunter was on the road to Hollywood. The South African-born actor had been appearing in British films since 1924. Impressed by his work, Warner's brought him to Hollywood in 1935 to be Bette Davis' leading man in The Girl from 10th Avenue (1935). He continued there as Davis' romantically inclined boss in That Certain Woman (1937) and King Richard the Lion-Heart in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). He later moved to MGM, where he played an explorer trying to re-claim the jungle king's son, Boy, in Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939) and one of Spencer Tracy's colleagues in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941). He returned to England during World War II and finished his career there with appearances in The Adventures of Robin Hood and the cult horror classic Doctor Blood's Coffin (1961).

The Church Mouse's comic rhythm derives partly from the work of director Monty Banks, a standby at Teddington who had started his career as a silent screen comic, working with Frances Ford and Mack Sennett. Banks never completely gave up acting, even though he turned to directing in 1924. He even plays a small role in The Church Mouse as a window washer who helps La Plante land her job interview. After directing and acting with popular British comedienne Gracie Fields in Shipyard Sally (1939), the two married and he followed her to Hollywood for the war years.

Producer: Irving Asher
Director: Monty Banks
Screenplay: Scott Darling
Based on the play A Templom Egere by Paul Frank & Ladislas Fodor Cinematography: Basil Emmott
Music: W. Franke Harling
Cast: Laura La Plante (Betty 'Miss Church Mouse' Miller), Ian Hunter (Jonathan Steele), Edward Chapman (Mr. 'Pinky' Wormwood), Jane Carr (Miss Sylvia James), Clifford Heatherley (Sir Oswald Bottomley), John Batten (Geoffrey Steele), Gibb McLaughlin (Thomas Stubbings), Monty Banks (Henry Blump).
BW-76m.

by Frank Miller
The Church Mouse

The Church Mouse

Sometimes Warner Bros.' British productions were like revolving doors, with fading stars from the U.S. turning up in leads as young English actors made their final appearances at home before trying their luck in Hollywood, often at Warner's Burbank studios. That was certainly the case with the 1934 romantic comedy, The Church Mouse, co-starring silent screen star Laura La Plante and future U.S. émigré Ian Hunter. The film was a re-make of Warner's 1932 Beauty and the Boss, which had starred Marian Marsh as a fashion-challenged secretary in love with womanizing boss Warren William. It had all started with Ladislas Fodor's play A Templom Egere, a Hungarian comedy that had given Ruth Gordon a Broadway hit in 1931 under the title A Church Mouse. Warner Bros. served it all up in properly naughty, pre-Code style, with the Baron's girlfriends clearly his mistresses and often displayed in various forms of undress. For their British version, filmed as stricter censorship was coming in, the boss's relationship with the secretary he had fired for being too distracting never quite made it into the bedroom. The focus remained unchanged, however, with La Plante cast as the perfect secretary, who impresses Hunter by breaking into his office to apply for the job and taking dictation faster than he can toss it at her. With her close-cropped blonde hair and peppy efficiency, she's like an earlier version of Doris Day in such career-girl sex comedies as Pillow Talk (1959) and Lover Come Back (1961). La Plante had gotten into movies at the age of 15, when she was chosen as a Christie Comedy Bathing Beauty. She worked her way up to leading roles, eventually signing at Universal Pictures, where she was the threatened heroine in the horror comedy The Cat and the Canary (1927) and Magnolia Hawks in the first film version of Show Boat (1929). With the arrival of talking pictures, although she had a perfectly acceptable voice, she was soon overshadowed by younger actresses. After leaving Universal, she took off for England, where she starred in five films at Warner Bros.' Teddington Studios. After marrying Teddington's director of production, Irving Asher, she retired from the screen, although she was among the actresses considered for the role of Nora Charles when Myrna Loy started fighting MGM for a better contract. Co-star Ian Hunter was on the road to Hollywood. The South African-born actor had been appearing in British films since 1924. Impressed by his work, Warner's brought him to Hollywood in 1935 to be Bette Davis' leading man in The Girl from 10th Avenue (1935). He continued there as Davis' romantically inclined boss in That Certain Woman (1937) and King Richard the Lion-Heart in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). He later moved to MGM, where he played an explorer trying to re-claim the jungle king's son, Boy, in Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939) and one of Spencer Tracy's colleagues in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941). He returned to England during World War II and finished his career there with appearances in The Adventures of Robin Hood and the cult horror classic Doctor Blood's Coffin (1961). The Church Mouse's comic rhythm derives partly from the work of director Monty Banks, a standby at Teddington who had started his career as a silent screen comic, working with Frances Ford and Mack Sennett. Banks never completely gave up acting, even though he turned to directing in 1924. He even plays a small role in The Church Mouse as a window washer who helps La Plante land her job interview. After directing and acting with popular British comedienne Gracie Fields in Shipyard Sally (1939), the two married and he followed her to Hollywood for the war years. Producer: Irving Asher Director: Monty Banks Screenplay: Scott Darling Based on the play A Templom Egere by Paul Frank & Ladislas Fodor Cinematography: Basil Emmott Music: W. Franke Harling Cast: Laura La Plante (Betty 'Miss Church Mouse' Miller), Ian Hunter (Jonathan Steele), Edward Chapman (Mr. 'Pinky' Wormwood), Jane Carr (Miss Sylvia James), Clifford Heatherley (Sir Oswald Bottomley), John Batten (Geoffrey Steele), Gibb McLaughlin (Thomas Stubbings), Monty Banks (Henry Blump). BW-76m. by Frank Miller

Quotes

Trivia

The play originally opened in Budapest, Hungary, on 2 December 1927. The original play was written only by Ladislas Fodor. It is not known why Paul Frank received onscreen credit. An English adaptation by Benn W. Levy, entitled "A Church Mouse", opened in London in early May 1931. Another English adaptation by Frederic Hatton and Fanny Hatton, also entitled "A Church Mouse", opened in New York on 12 October 1931 and starred 'Ruth Gordon' .

Notes

In the onscreen credits of this film, the play is credited to Paul Frank and Ladislaus Fodor. However, other sources credit only Fodor with the play. It is not know exactly what Frank's contribution to the play was. An English adaptation of Fodor's play, entitled A Church Mouse, by Frederic and Fanny Hatton was presented in New York by William A. Brady on October 12, 1931. Another English adaptation of the play by Benn Levy, also entitled A Church Mouse, opened in London in early May 1931. This film was produced at the Warner Bros. Teddington Studios in England. The preview time was 86 min. Fodor's play was the basis of a German Film Arm wie eine Kirchenmaus in 1931, directed by Richard Oswald, and for the 1932 Warner Bros. film Beauty and the Boss.