Cast & Crew
During World War I, Elinor Norton provokes the jealousy of her bridegroom Tony, who is prone to sullen moods, when she gives her friend Bill Carroll, who loves her, a goodbye kiss. Tony starts an argument, which spoils their wedding meal, but when he apologizes, she forgives him. Four weeks later, Tony accepts a commission to fight in France, although he does not have to go, as an escape from his unhappy marriage. While Tony is at the front, Elinor works for the war effort at home and meets Brazilian Rene Alba during her work. After they spend a few nights together dancing, Rene tells Elinor that he has fallen in love with her. Although she confesses that that their evenings together have been the happiest she has spent, she refuses to see him the next day. In the trenches, Bill is injured while he helps Tony, who, greatly upset at the shelling, drinks. Before their bunker is blown to bits, though, Tony gallantly carries the unconscious Bill to safety. Elinor continues to see Rene casually, and although she does not let the romance develop, she is unsure what she will do when Tony returns. At the war's end, Tony is worried about coming home. When he returns and witnesses Elinor receive a box of flowers, he immediately suspects that she has been seeing Bill, who had been sent home for recovery earlier. Upset that Tony has not changed, Elinor confesses that someone other than Bill sent the flowers. Tony locks himself in his room and takes out a gun, but when Elinor screams at the door, he opens it and gives the gun to her. Although she calls him a coward, he clings to her and pleads for her not to leave him. Elinor surreptitiously visits Tony's doctor, who advises her to take him away for a year or so and to get him interested in something other than himself. She agrees to go West with him and tells Rene goodbye. On their ranch, Tony becomes obsessed with proving himself physically and screams at the ranch hands. When he sees Elinor put some powder, which the doctor has recommended to calm him, in a glass of milk, he accuses her of trying to poison him. He then goes off on an unbroken horse from which he is thrown and knocked unconscious. Rene, who has come to convince Elinor to leave with him, finds Tony and helps him to the house. After Tony asks Rene to stay on, Rene and Elinor decide to wait to tell Tony the truth about their love until he has recovered. Tony enjoys Rene's company and tries to reconcile with Elinor, who implores Rene to stay when he says that he wants to leave the couple. After Tony offers to put up money so that Rene can become partners with him in a venture to buy an additional 2,000 acres, Rene tries to convince Elinor that they now must tell Tony of their love. Tony overhears them and sees them embrace. He acts as if he heard nothing, but that night proposes that Elinor take a trip around the world with him. Rene and Elinor then admit that they are in love and that they have been in love for over a year. Surmising that Elinor would have gone with him on the trip if Rene had not come to the ranch, Tony asks that they give him and Elinor the chance to repair their marriage and offers not to stand in their way if, after six months, Elinor still wants Rene. Elinor refuses, whereupon Tony goes to his room and, after some pacing, gets a gun. He enters Elinor's bedroom and says that he loves her and would rather kill her and himself than to see her go with Rene. Elinor calls his action contemptible and says that she is not afraid of death. Tony then walks to the top of the stairs and points the gun to his head. Elinor struggles with him, and the gun goes off wounding her in the shoulder. Sometime later, as Elinor and Rene, now married, sail on their honeymoon, they receive a radiogram from Tony, who says that his one wish is happiness for them both and relates that he bought the 2,000 acres and won the state prize for his Texas longhorns.
Cora Sue Collins
Polly Ann Young
Theodor Von Eltz
John V. A. Weaver
Sol M. Wurtzel
The novel was originally published serially in the Ladies' Home Journal from September 1933 through January 1934. The working title of this film was The State Versus Elinor Norton. The title card in the opening credits reads "Mary Roberts Rinehart's Elinor Norton." Some scenes were shot at Bridgeport, CA. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, after scoring a success in a number of featured roles, Claire Trevor was to get star billing for this film and for her future Fox films.
According to a news item in Daily Variety, dated August 22, 1934, production was halted for a story revision with the film one-third completed, and director Hamilton MacFadden worked on the revision. The Final Shooting Script, dated July 14, 1934, located in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, is much different from the final film. In this version, Rene and Tony become partners on the ranch, and Rene shoots and kills Tony after Tony shoots at him. Rene then makes the death appear to be a suicide. Elinor wants Rene to go to the sheriff, but he refuses. They struggle, and when Rene tries to choke Elinor, she shoots him and then calls the sheriff.
The Call Bureau Cast Service lists a number of actors who May have been in scenes that were not included in the print viewed. These include Eula Guy and the seventeen actors listed as members of the "publisher's staff." Because these actors May have been cut from the print viewed, but not the final film, they have been included in the cast list above; however, it is probable that their scenes were cut from the final film.
A number of reviews commented that the film was not faithful to the novel. Film Daily noted that the novel "had to be considerably altered and de-sexed in order to get by on the screen." Motion Picture Herald stated, "So much has it [i.e. the novel] been altered that even those who have read [it]...will recognize but few incidents." Box Office suggested that the changes were "probably due to [the industry's] clean-up drive." The file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library includes objections and requests for changes of the Hays Office, but all of this correspondence is dated in June 1934, before the Final Shooting Script was written. Specifically, the Hays Office objected to the fact that "it is vaguely and subtly suggested that (a) Norton has treated Elinor badly or disgustingly on her wedding night; (b) that she has other objectionable and offensive reasons to be disappointed in him or in his behavior." No material has been found to suggest that the Hays Office requested the studio to change the script in August 1934.
According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, also at UCLA, Twentieth Century-Fox assigned a writer to create a treatment for a remake in 1942. No film, however, was produced from that material.