Face to Face
Cast & Crew
One quiet night in the Gulf of Siam, the new captain of the British sailing vessel Falcor walks the deck of his ship, pondering his worthiness as commander. While leaning against the railing, the captain notices a man in the water clinging to the ship's ladder. After the man, Leggatt, declares that he has been swimming for over four hours, the captain invites him onboard. On deck, Leggatt confesses to the captain that he used to be the first mate of the nearby Sephora but had to flee the ship after he killed a seaman during a terrible storm. Leggatt explains that the seaman became hysterical with fear and tried to prevent him from setting the foresail, believing incorrectly that the ship would go down if he did. Panicking, Leggatt choked the man to death and was later condemned both by the Sephora 's crew and its captain, Archbold. Sympathetic to Leggatt's plight, the captain gives him dry clothes and hides him in his cabin. There, Leggatt reveals that Archbold, a pious Welshman, was adamant about arresting him, even though Leggatt saved the ship by setting the foresail. After noting that he and the Falcor 's captain graduated from the same naval school, Leggatt admits that he jumped the Sephora on impulse and knows that Archbold will pursue him. Despite the comings and goings of his suspicious cook, Smithers, and other crew members, the captain continues to hide Leggatt the next morning. As feared, Archbold soon boards, looking for Leggatt. By pretending to be half-deaf, the captain deflects Archbold's inquiries and sends him back to his ship without exposing Leggatt's presence. Later, when the wind finally starts to blow, the captain gives orders to sail toward home. After narrowly avoiding discovery by Smithers, Leggatt convinces the captain that his best hope is to swim to an island and restart his life under a new name. That night, the captain instructs his helmsman to steer the ship close to shore, claiming the wind is better there. The captain then sneaks Leggatt to the deck, and while the crew, concerned about the fast approaching reef, frantically tends to the ship, Leggatt slips overboard and swims unnoticed toward shore. Just as the ship is about to crash into the reef, the captain takes over the helm and steers the vessel to safety. Having impressed his crew with his toughness and skill, the captain realizes that he is, in fact, a worthy leader.
In the Western town of Yellow Sky, Marshal Jack Potter prepares to travel to San Antonio on undisclosed business, and leaves instructions with saloon keeper Laura Lee to keep an eye on prisoner Frank Gudger, who is allowed to eat his meals at the saloon. Jack also confides in the no-nonsense Laura Lee his concern that old-time gunslinger Scratchy Wilson will become drunk and make trouble. Scratchy then appears at the bar and complains about the bullet that Jack put in his leg during his last drunken rampage. After cautioning the irascible Scratchy, Jack boards the San Antonio-bound train. Later, while various people in Yellow Sky speculate about Jack's business in San Antonio, Jack heads back to Yellow Sky with his bride. As their train barrels along, Jack and his young, naïve bride nervously exchange small talk and try to reassure each other. Back in Yellow Sky, a drunken Scratchy happily cleans his guns, then dresses in his best shirt. At the same time, Laura Lee, businessman Jasper Morgan and Frank discuss Jack's extended absence, unaware that Scratchy, who is supposed to be cleaning Jasper's septic tank, is preparing for battle. Jack and his bride, meanwhile, conclude their $1.25 honeymoon dinner in the dining car and return to their seats. When his bride asks if anything is troubling him, Jack admits that he did not send a telegram to Yellow Sky, informing the townspeople of his marriage. Jack reveals that he is worried about how the town, which has always known him as a bachelor, will react to the news and confesses that he is quite bashful. To comfort him, his bride admits that she, too, is bashful. Laura Lee, meanwhile, has been confronted in the saloon by a drummer selling silk stockings. As Laura Lee tries to dismiss the persistent peddler, a young man bursts in, announcing that an armed, inebriated Scratchy is headed their way. Laura Lee calmly explains to the petrified drummer that because Scratchy is the last of his kind, the town puts up with him and merely hides when he goes on a rampage. Although stumbling with drink, Scratchy is still able to shoot with accuracy and, while firing at everything in sight, rants about Jack. From his jail cell, Frank tries to tell Scratchy that Jack has not returned from San Antonio, but Scratchy refuses to believe him. Jack and his bride, meanwhile, sneak away from the Yellow Sky train depot and, while hurrying through the empty streets, bump into Scratchy. The gunslinger immediately challenges Jack and is shocked when Jack reveals that he is unarmed and married. Complaining that "it's all over now," Scratchy throws down his guns in disgust and walks away. The townspeople then flood the streets and greet Jack and his bride with love.
John R. Carter
Norman A. Manning
George A. Minor
Jay Morley [jr.]
Sean McClory (1924-2003)
Born on March 8, 1924 in Dublin, Ireland, he became a leading man at the famous Abbey Theatre in the early '40s and relocated to the United States shortly after World War II. His first roles were small bits as a police officer in two RKO quickies: Dick Tracy's Dilemma and Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (both 1947). He eventually graduated to more prestigious pictures like The Glass Menagerie (1950), Les Miserables (1952) and John Ford's The Quiet Man (1952).
After a few more supporting roles in quality pictures: Niagara (1953); the sci-fi chiller Them! (1954); and for John Ford again in The Long Gay Line (1955), McClory turned to television. He kept busy for several years with guest roles in a variety of popular shows: Bonanza, Wagon Train, Rawhide, Gunsmoke, The Outer Limits (1964) and countless others. By the mid-'60s, McClory became slightly more heavy-set, and began tossing off variations of jovial, "oirish" blarney for, yet again John Ford in Cheyenne Autumn (1964); and in a string of Disney pictures: Follow Me, Boys! (1966, his best role, a moving performance as the alcoholic father whose behavior alienates his son, played by a 15-year old Kurt Russell); The Happiest Millionaire (1967), and The Gnome-Mobile (1967), before he returned to television. His final role was in John Huston's acclaimed Irish opus The Dead (1987). He is survived by his wife, Peggy Webber McClory.
by Michael T. Toole
Sean McClory (1924-2003)
As noted in the above credits and summary, Face to Face is comprised of two short films, The Secret Sharer and The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky. According to contemporary sources, RKO also distributed the short films separately, under their individual titles. The viewed print did not include title cards or other credits for the composite picture, Face to Face, but did include complete credits for each short. The above credits were taken from a cutting continuity of the composite film, deposited with the Copyright Office. Credits unique to each segment include the appropriate title; credits common to both appear without a specific title. Photographers Karl Struss and George Diskant and music composer Hugo Friedhofer did not receive onscreen credit in either the viewed print or the cutting continuity.
Opening credits in the cutting continuity include the following spoken foreword: "Face to face, from the stories you are about to see, The Secret Sharer and The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, two strong men stand afloat. In The Secret Sharer these two men are from the distant corners of the world and as you first view them upon the screen-in the words of Kipling-they well come to mind...'But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth when two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!'" The Kipling quotation was taken from his poem "The Ballad of East and West."
Contemporary news items indicate that Face to Face was originally conceived as a three-part television show and was shot in 16mm at the KTTV Studios in Hollywood. The third segment, which was actually filmed first but not included, was based on the William Saroyan short story "Hello Out There." That segment marked the final motion picture directing assignment of James Whale, who had not worked on a narrative film since the 1941 Columbia picture They Dare Not Love. Hello Out There starred Henry Morgan and Marjorie Steele in the leads. Modern sources note that Karl Struss shot the short, probably in early 1950, and Whale himself designed the single jail set. According to modern sources, Whale had directed a stage version of "Hello Out There" for World War II servicemen, and Morgan, who played "Roustabout," a man in jail for rape, reprised his stage role for the film. The completed segment, which ran between 32 and 41 minutes, was screened for Saroyan and other luminaries, but producer Huntington Hartford, who was married to Steele, disliked her performance and refused to release it, according to modern sources. According to an April 1950 Los Angeles Examiner item, after the completion of Hello Out There, Hartford considered adapting "The Open Window," a short story by Scottish author "Saki," along with Conrad's story. John Huston was announced as the probable director of The Secret Sharer at that time. In late May 1950, however, Hollywood Reporter announced Mel Ferrer as a possible director of The Secret Sharer, and noted that Ernest Hemingway's story "Men Without Women" was being considered for the third segment.
According to reviews, Hartford, the scion of the A&P grocery store chain family, provided complete financing for the picture through Theasquare Productions. Hartford previously had produced two 1949 United Artists' releases, Africa Screams and Mrs. Mike (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). Although onscreen credits and reviews suggest that Steele made her screen acting debut in Face to Face, she had previously starred in the 1949 Lippert production Tough Assignment (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). According to a November 1952 New York Times item, RKO decided to release the work two ways after exhibitor screenings indicated that each sequence had enough popular appeal to stand alone. In Los Angeles, the composite film opened on February 5, 1953. A separate run for The Secret Sharer began in Los Angeles on March 20, 1953, and The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky opened on March 27, 1953. All theatrical prints were blown up to 35mm.
In May 1952, Hollywood Reporter announced that Hartford and Hungarian producer Alexander Paal had arranged to make a three-episode feature, tentatively titled Hello Out There, which would include one American, one English and one Italian story about jail life. The American story was to be the previously discarded Saroyan segment. The British episode, Sir Bryan Takes a Holiday, was to star Cecil Parker, and the Italian, Farewell Dinner, was to star Aldo Fabrizi. Both episodes were to be shot in England. No further information about the production of the feature Hello Out There has been found, however. Whale died in 1957; Hello Out There was his last film. In 1967, Roger Nixon and Ray West wrote the opera The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, which was also based on Crane's short story.