Forsaking All Others


1h 24m 1934
Forsaking All Others

Brief Synopsis

A woman pursues the wrong man for almost twenty years.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Dec 23, 1934
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Forsaking All Others by Frank Cavett and Edward Barry Roberts (New York, 1 Mar 1933).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

Mary Clay feels as if she is the happiest woman alive because she is about to wed Dillon Todd, a man whom she has loved since childhood. That same day, Jeff Williams, another childhood companion, returns from a long business trip to Spain, and is equally ecstatic that he can finally propose to Mary, whom he has always loved. When Jeff discovers that Mary is about to wed Dill, he keeps his feelings a secret and agrees to give the bride away. He also secretly orders dozens of cornflowers for Mary, knowing that they are her favorite flowers. The night before the wedding, however, Dill runs off and marries Connie Barnes, a woman with whom he had had an affair in Europe some months before. Mary then goes to the country with her aunt Paula to get over Dill and when Jeff and their friend Shep visit, she claims to be completely cured. She jumps at the chance to go to a party to which Connie has invited her, however, and soon Dill, who knows his mistake, begs to see Mary again. Jeff warns Mary not to get involved with a married man, and even spanks her with a hairbrush to emphasize the point, but she agrees to see Dill. One day, while riding in the country, their car breaks down, a rainstorm starts, and they take refuge in Paula's country home. Dill calls his valet to bring another car, but tells him to wait until the morning to bring it. Despite the circumstances, the evening is spent innocently, but the next day Paula convinces Jeff and Shep to get Mary away to avoid a scandal. Connie, meanwhile, has been told everything by Dill's valet and races to Paula's. Jeff arrives first and, realizing that nothing has happened, tries to cover for Mary, but Connie still demands a divorce. Some time later, it is again Mary and Dill's wedding, but this time it is Dill who is left at the altar when Jeff tells her that he has always loved her, just as he is about to sail for Spain. When she learns from Shep that it was Jeff, not Dill who sent her the cornflowers, she realizes that she loves Jeff. When he finds Mary on the boat, Jeff tells the steward to quickly bring the captain to perform a wedding.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Dec 23, 1934
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Forsaking All Others by Frank Cavett and Edward Barry Roberts (New York, 1 Mar 1933).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Articles

Forsaking All Others


In the mid-1930's, Joan Crawford had segued successfully from flapper to what Life magazine called "the Shopgirl's Dream," a working-class gal who struggles and suffers, while wearing Adrian's luxurious fantasy frocks. Comedy was not Crawford's forte, but screwball comedy was on the rise, and MGM decreed that Crawford wipe her tears and take her turn playing a madcap socialite.

Forsaking All Others (1934) was adapted from a successful Broadway play starring Tallulah Bankhead. In the film version, Crawford plays Mary, who's grown up with Jeff (Clark Gable) and Dill (Robert Montgomery). When Jeff, who has been in love with Mary his whole life, returns from Europe to declare his feelings for her, he discovers she's about to marry Dill. Then, Dill jilts Mary at the last minute and she turns to Jeff for comfort. Dill soon realizes he's made a mistake, and there are various romantic complications before Mary chooses the right man.

Crawford was no gifted farceur like Tallulah or Carole Lombard. But with accomplished comedic actors like Gable and Montgomery helping Crawford lighten up, she couldn't fail. Forsaking All Others was the sixth of eight films Crawford made with Gable. The two had been on-and-off lovers since Possessed (1931), and even though Crawford was already involved with Franchot Tone, who would become her second husband, her romantic chemistry with Gable is still evident and potent. The supporting cast also includes such expert farceurs as Billie Burke, Charles Butterworth, Arthur Treacher, and, in one of her earliest films, Rosalind Russell.

Forsaking All Others was Crawford's first collaboration with a young writer newly-arrived from New York, Joseph L. Mankiewicz. When he began working on the script of Forsaking All Others, it was originally intended for a different trio (Mankiewicz recalled it was Loretta Young, George Brent, and Joel McCrea, but that's unlikely, since none of them were under contract at MGM). When the studio decided to turn it into a Joan Crawford vehicle, Mankiewicz was dispatched to the star's house to read the script to her. Crawford reacted favorably, and the two would go on to work on a total of nine films together, with Mankiewicz either writing, producing, or doctoring scripts. He understood the secret of Crawford's appeal: working class women identified with her as one of their own. Mankiewicz also understood that for Crawford, her entire life was a performance, and he behaved accordingly. "She woke up like a movie star, she went to the john like a movie star," he would later tell Crawford biographer Bob Thomas. "She had a special outfit for answering the fan mail. She put on another outfit to have lunch." If Crawford arrived at his office dressed in jewels and furs, Mankiewicz acknowledged her entrance deferentially. If she arrived in slacks, he greeted her informally and gave her a whack on the backside.

Crawford biographer Alexander Walker writes about Forsaking All Others, "Mankiewicz's script had a smart knack of connecting the best personality points of all three stars and director W.S. Van Dyke burlesqued marriage conventions as urbanely as he had done six months earlier in The Thin Man (1934)." Van Dyke, a no-nonsense type, was also compatible with Crawford, and would direct her in two more screwball comedies, I Live My Life (1935) and Love on the Run (1936).

The critics were delighted with Forsaking All Others. Variety called it "Clever and smart, packing a lot of comedy in action, situation, and dialogue...." and praised the performances of the three stars as "superb." Audiences agreed, and the film was a huge success. So much so that the studio had no choice but to renegotiate Crawford's contract, raising her salary and adding bonuses.

Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Producer: Bernard H. Hyman
Screenplay: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, based on the play by Edward Barry Roberts and Frank Morgan Cavett
Cinematography: Gregg Toland, George Folsey
Editor: Tom Held
Costume Design: Adrian
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Edwin B. Willis
Principal Cast: Joan Crawford (Mary Clay), Clark Gable (Jeff Williams), Robert Montgomery (Dill Todd), Charles Butterworth (Shep), Billie Burke (Paula), Frances Drake (Connie), Rosalind Russell (Eleanor), Arthur Treacher (Johnson).
BW-83m. Closed captioning.

by Margarita Landazuri
Forsaking All Others

Forsaking All Others

In the mid-1930's, Joan Crawford had segued successfully from flapper to what Life magazine called "the Shopgirl's Dream," a working-class gal who struggles and suffers, while wearing Adrian's luxurious fantasy frocks. Comedy was not Crawford's forte, but screwball comedy was on the rise, and MGM decreed that Crawford wipe her tears and take her turn playing a madcap socialite. Forsaking All Others (1934) was adapted from a successful Broadway play starring Tallulah Bankhead. In the film version, Crawford plays Mary, who's grown up with Jeff (Clark Gable) and Dill (Robert Montgomery). When Jeff, who has been in love with Mary his whole life, returns from Europe to declare his feelings for her, he discovers she's about to marry Dill. Then, Dill jilts Mary at the last minute and she turns to Jeff for comfort. Dill soon realizes he's made a mistake, and there are various romantic complications before Mary chooses the right man. Crawford was no gifted farceur like Tallulah or Carole Lombard. But with accomplished comedic actors like Gable and Montgomery helping Crawford lighten up, she couldn't fail. Forsaking All Others was the sixth of eight films Crawford made with Gable. The two had been on-and-off lovers since Possessed (1931), and even though Crawford was already involved with Franchot Tone, who would become her second husband, her romantic chemistry with Gable is still evident and potent. The supporting cast also includes such expert farceurs as Billie Burke, Charles Butterworth, Arthur Treacher, and, in one of her earliest films, Rosalind Russell. Forsaking All Others was Crawford's first collaboration with a young writer newly-arrived from New York, Joseph L. Mankiewicz. When he began working on the script of Forsaking All Others, it was originally intended for a different trio (Mankiewicz recalled it was Loretta Young, George Brent, and Joel McCrea, but that's unlikely, since none of them were under contract at MGM). When the studio decided to turn it into a Joan Crawford vehicle, Mankiewicz was dispatched to the star's house to read the script to her. Crawford reacted favorably, and the two would go on to work on a total of nine films together, with Mankiewicz either writing, producing, or doctoring scripts. He understood the secret of Crawford's appeal: working class women identified with her as one of their own. Mankiewicz also understood that for Crawford, her entire life was a performance, and he behaved accordingly. "She woke up like a movie star, she went to the john like a movie star," he would later tell Crawford biographer Bob Thomas. "She had a special outfit for answering the fan mail. She put on another outfit to have lunch." If Crawford arrived at his office dressed in jewels and furs, Mankiewicz acknowledged her entrance deferentially. If she arrived in slacks, he greeted her informally and gave her a whack on the backside. Crawford biographer Alexander Walker writes about Forsaking All Others, "Mankiewicz's script had a smart knack of connecting the best personality points of all three stars and director W.S. Van Dyke burlesqued marriage conventions as urbanely as he had done six months earlier in The Thin Man (1934)." Van Dyke, a no-nonsense type, was also compatible with Crawford, and would direct her in two more screwball comedies, I Live My Life (1935) and Love on the Run (1936). The critics were delighted with Forsaking All Others. Variety called it "Clever and smart, packing a lot of comedy in action, situation, and dialogue...." and praised the performances of the three stars as "superb." Audiences agreed, and the film was a huge success. So much so that the studio had no choice but to renegotiate Crawford's contract, raising her salary and adding bonuses. Director: W.S. Van Dyke Producer: Bernard H. Hyman Screenplay: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, based on the play by Edward Barry Roberts and Frank Morgan Cavett Cinematography: Gregg Toland, George Folsey Editor: Tom Held Costume Design: Adrian Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Edwin B. Willis Principal Cast: Joan Crawford (Mary Clay), Clark Gable (Jeff Williams), Robert Montgomery (Dill Todd), Charles Butterworth (Shep), Billie Burke (Paula), Frances Drake (Connie), Rosalind Russell (Eleanor), Arthur Treacher (Johnson). BW-83m. Closed captioning. by Margarita Landazuri

Quotes

Trivia

The original play opened in New York City, New York, USA on 1 March 1933 and had 110 performance. Tallulah Bankhead played Mary Clay and the cast included Ilka Chase, Barbara O'Neil, Cora Witherspoon, Fred Keating (I), Anderson Lawler, Harlan Briggs and George Lessey.

Notes

According to Hollywood Reporter news items from the Spring of 1934, Miriam Hopkins was initially wanted on loanout from Paramount for the film. Loretta Young was then announced as the star of the film, that was to be produced by Frank Davis and directed by Irving Rapper as his first directing assignment. Portions of the film were shot on location in Lake Arrowhead, CA. Davis is listed as the assistant to producer Bernard H. Hyman in other sources, and Rapper, who worked as a dialogue director at Warner Bros. during the 1930s, did not make his solo directing debut until 1941, when he made Shinging Victory for Warner Bros.
       According to a Hollywood Reporter production chart, Louise Henry, Lillian Harmer, Hooper Atchley, Forrester Harvey, Margaret Bert, Edward Brophy, Pat Flaherty and Ted Healy were also in the cast. Neither Brophy, Flaherty or Healy were in the viewed print and it is possible that their roles were cut before the film's release. The appearance of the other actors cannot be confirmed. According to contemporary news items and information contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the film ran into trouble with the Hays Office beginning in late September 1934 when the completed script was submitted. At that time some of the dialogue was deemed unacceptable by the office. Words such as "tramp," "sex appeal" and "nudist wedding" were called objectionable. In a 27 November memo made after a screening of the completed film, Joseph I. Breen of the Hays Office wrote that he was "very gravely concerned about it..." The most problematic scenes, according to information in the file, concerned the sequence during which the characters of "Dill" and "Mary" are alone in her aunt's cottage. According to a Daily Variety news item on 3 Dec, Breen and his "band of seven" had had a conference with M-G-M executives that ended with Breen saying he was washing his hands of the matter and telling M-G-M to either do the retakes, appeal to the Hays boards or shelve the picture.
       The film was approved on December 11, 1934, but only after several eliminations in dialogue and situations were made. The scenes reshot toned down the dialogue and made the cottage evening appear more "innocent" than originally intended. Some aspects of the film that Breen found objectionable were retained in the film, however, such as shots of Clark Gable in his underwear and of a woman giving Crawford a massage. Reviews of the film noted that some underwear and shower scenes still in the film were "risque" by then current standards. Reviews also commented on the effectiveness of the comic scene in which Crawford and Robert Montgomery, both wearing white suits, are thrown off a bicycle into a pigsty. Although most reviewers praised the gowns designed by Adrian for the film, the Hollywood Reporter reviewer thought the clothes in "bad taste" and "distracting." Tallulah Bankhead portrayed Mary Clay in the Broadway production of the play, and Bette Davis took over the role on a February 28, 1938 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast.