The Gift of Love


1h 45m 1958
The Gift of Love

Brief Synopsis

A dying woman arranges an adoption to leave her husband with some consolation.

Film Details

Also Known As
Our Love
Genre
Drama
Release Date
Feb 1958
Premiere Information
New York opening: 11 Feb 1958
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Mount Hamilton--Lick Observatory, California, United States; Sequoia Point--Vista Del Mar Orphanage, California, United States; Sunnyvale--Naval Air Station, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Little Horse" by Nelia Gardner White in Good Housekeeping (Jun 1944).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
9,465ft

Synopsis

Suffering from lack of sleep, Bill Beck, a brilliant physicist working on a government guided missile program, visits the San Francisco office of Dr. Jim Miller for help with his condition. When the physician's pretty receptionist Julie is unable to reach the doctor, she prescribes a back rub and a dry martini. Although attracted to the vivacious Julie, the reticent Bill leaves the office, then hesitates outside the door and finally screws up the courage to invite her for a drink. Bill and Julie fall in love and are married, and five years later, are still deeply in love. One day, while climbing the stairs to the observatory tower where Bill is working, Julie experiences a piercing pain in her chest and collapses. When Dr. Miller diagnoses a heart attack, Julie begs him not to tell Bill about her condition because it would kill him to lose her. Julie then comments that she wished they had a child to keep Bill company after her death, and Dr. Miller suggests adoption. Meanwhile, at the Bay Area Orphans' Home, little Hitty, rejected for adoption for the third time, tearfully plays with her toy animals and locks herself in a locker. Several weeks later, Julie broaches the subject of adoption with Bill, and soon after, pays a visit to the orphanage. When she sees Hitty gamboling by the ocean, pretending to be a horse, Julie is reminded that as a little girl she, too, made believe she was a horse, and thus feels an instant rapport with the girl. To please Julie, Bill agrees to a trial adoption period, and Julie explains to Hitty that Bill is a special genius and therefore needs special care. Bill, who is firmly grounded in the laws of empirical reality, finds it difficult to deal with the little girl's whimsical fantasies, however. When Bill's boss, Grant Allan, and several other friends throw a welcoming party for Hitty, Bill rushes out to a toy store to buy her a microscope, and at the urging of the store's owner, a model horse. Hitty is puzzled by the microscope, but delighted by the horse, which she names "Rolphe." One day, in an effort to please Bill, Hitty erases all his blackboards, thus wiping out months of research. One night, Dr. Miller is summoned to the Beck house, and fearing for Julie's health, speeds there. The doctor is relieved to find that Julie is well, but Hitty is suffering from the flu. When Julie refuses to leave Hitty to accompany Bill to a professional gathering, Bill becomes jealous, and the couple have their first fight. After Bill leaves, Dr. Miller warns that the tension is putting increased strain on Julie's delicate heart and suggests returning Hitty to the orphanage. After Hitty recovers, Julie is in the middle of telling the little girl that she must go back to the children's home when she suffers a heart attack and finally reveals her condition to Bill. Julie dies soon after, and Bill, inconsolable, refuses to leave her graveside. Grant pulls Bill from the cemetery and drives him home, where Hitty tries to take care of him as Julie would. When Hitty brings Bill breakfast in bed, just as Julie once did, Bill angrily lashes out that Hitty will never be able to take Julie's place. After Hitty tells Bill that she speaks with Julie nightly, he insists that is impossible because Julie is dead. Recognizing the futility of the situation, Hitty notifies Miss McMasters, the head of the orphanage, that Julie has died and Bill no longer wants her. Hitty then returns to the orphanage for the fourth time, deeply depressed. That night, alone in the empty house, Bill finds one of Hitty's drawings and recalls the day Julie told Hitty that she and Bill needed to be a family without her. At the orphanage, Hitty calls to Julie and then decides to ride Rolphe to the place they met by the ocean. As a storm brews, Hitty slips out of her bed, and while galloping toward the ocean, falls from a precipice onto the beach below. Sensing that Hitty is in danger, Bill phones Miss McMasters and discovers that the little girl is missing. As the onrushing tide laps at Hitty's feet, Bill asks Grant to drive him to the orphanage. They arrive just as the police are searching for the missing girl. Declaring that he cannot lose Hitty, too, Bill suggests returning to the spot where Julie and Hitty first met. There, Bill sees Hitty struggling in the current and runs to save her while Grant rescues Rolphe, who is swirling in the waves. When Hitty tells Bill that Julie must have told him to come, Bill finally realizes that Julie is still with them and sees her smiling from between the trees.

Film Details

Also Known As
Our Love
Genre
Drama
Release Date
Feb 1958
Premiere Information
New York opening: 11 Feb 1958
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Mount Hamilton--Lick Observatory, California, United States; Sequoia Point--Vista Del Mar Orphanage, California, United States; Sunnyvale--Naval Air Station, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Little Horse" by Nelia Gardner White in Good Housekeeping (Jun 1944).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
9,465ft

Articles

The Gift of Love


On January 14, 1957, Humphrey Bogart died of cancer, leaving behind his widow, Lauren Bacall, and their two young children. It took Bacall seven months to feel ready to get in front of the cameras again, and that September she started work on the sentimental weepie The Gift of Love (1958). In a big respect this was an odd choice, for in the film she plays a childless wife dying of a heart ailment who wants to leave behind for her husband -- who does not yet know she is dying -- a tangible, living reminder of their love. She convinces him that they should adopt a child, and they adopt a little girl. But the girl's wild imagination and flights of fancy don't mesh with the husband's scientific, serious mind (he is a theoretical physicist), and when Bacall finally dies, he eventually returns the girl to the orphanage before an inevitable change of heart.

Film historian Lawrence J. Quirk later wrote that casting Bacall in The Gift of Love was a cynical, coldhearted move by Fox studio executives because it showed they were trying to cash in on Bacall's actual heartache -- and that shared by millions of her movie-going fans. The studio, Quirk wrote, hoped that female audiences "could cry into their Kleenex over the real-life pain and loss of it all, but what was overlooked was that Bacall registered most vividly on screen in roles that were racy, a little bitchy, a little naughty, and more than a little pungent."

While that may be true, it's probable that Bacall was mostly attracted to the possibility of spending several weeks working with a director she trusted and adored, Jean Negulesco. He had previously directed her in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and Woman's World (1954). And playing her husband was Robert Stack, with whom she had worked memorably in Written on the Wind (1956). Surely the comfort of being on set with old friends was more important than the subject of the movie itself so soon after Bogart's death. In her memoir Bacall hinted as much, calling the film "not a marvelous picture -- a remake, sentimental," but mentioning Negulesco as a high point.

While The Gift of Love made no dent at the box office, it fared medium-well with critics, who generally found the acting to rise above the syrupy story. The Hollywood Reporter said "Miss Bacall's performance is so wonderful that one tends to overlook Stack's supremely able achievement." Bosley Crowther of The New York Times declared the child actor, Evelyn Rudie, to steal all her scenes, and described Bacall as "mighty noble and brisk with many virtues as the wife." Crowther also noted that Stack "appears frequently without a shirt, thus revealing the muscular torso acquired from wrestling with mathematical equations."

The film's screenplay was based on the short story "The Little Horse," by Nelia Gardner White, originally published in a 1944 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, and previously made into the film Sentimental Journey (1946), with John Payne and Maureen O'Hara

Producer: Charles Brackett
Director: Jean Negulesco
Screenplay: Luther Davis (writer); Nelia Gardner White (article)
Cinematography: Milton R. Krasner
Art Direction: Mark-Lee Kirk, Lyle R. Wheeler
Music: Cyril J. Mockridge, Alfred Newman
Film Editing: Hugh S. Fowler
Cast: Lauren Bacall (Julie Beck), Robert Stack (William 'Bill' Beck), Evelyn Rudie (Hitty), Lorne Greene (Grant Allan), Anne Seymour (Miss McMasters), Edward Platt (Dr. Jim Miller), Joseph Kearns (Mr. Rynicker), Vic Damone (Singer of title song, voice).
C-105m.

by Jeremy Arnold

Sources:
Lauren Bacall, By Myself
Lawrence J. Quirk, The Films of Lauren Bacall
Brenda Scott Royce, Lauren Bacall: A Bio-Bibliography
The Gift Of Love

The Gift of Love

On January 14, 1957, Humphrey Bogart died of cancer, leaving behind his widow, Lauren Bacall, and their two young children. It took Bacall seven months to feel ready to get in front of the cameras again, and that September she started work on the sentimental weepie The Gift of Love (1958). In a big respect this was an odd choice, for in the film she plays a childless wife dying of a heart ailment who wants to leave behind for her husband -- who does not yet know she is dying -- a tangible, living reminder of their love. She convinces him that they should adopt a child, and they adopt a little girl. But the girl's wild imagination and flights of fancy don't mesh with the husband's scientific, serious mind (he is a theoretical physicist), and when Bacall finally dies, he eventually returns the girl to the orphanage before an inevitable change of heart. Film historian Lawrence J. Quirk later wrote that casting Bacall in The Gift of Love was a cynical, coldhearted move by Fox studio executives because it showed they were trying to cash in on Bacall's actual heartache -- and that shared by millions of her movie-going fans. The studio, Quirk wrote, hoped that female audiences "could cry into their Kleenex over the real-life pain and loss of it all, but what was overlooked was that Bacall registered most vividly on screen in roles that were racy, a little bitchy, a little naughty, and more than a little pungent." While that may be true, it's probable that Bacall was mostly attracted to the possibility of spending several weeks working with a director she trusted and adored, Jean Negulesco. He had previously directed her in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and Woman's World (1954). And playing her husband was Robert Stack, with whom she had worked memorably in Written on the Wind (1956). Surely the comfort of being on set with old friends was more important than the subject of the movie itself so soon after Bogart's death. In her memoir Bacall hinted as much, calling the film "not a marvelous picture -- a remake, sentimental," but mentioning Negulesco as a high point. While The Gift of Love made no dent at the box office, it fared medium-well with critics, who generally found the acting to rise above the syrupy story. The Hollywood Reporter said "Miss Bacall's performance is so wonderful that one tends to overlook Stack's supremely able achievement." Bosley Crowther of The New York Times declared the child actor, Evelyn Rudie, to steal all her scenes, and described Bacall as "mighty noble and brisk with many virtues as the wife." Crowther also noted that Stack "appears frequently without a shirt, thus revealing the muscular torso acquired from wrestling with mathematical equations." The film's screenplay was based on the short story "The Little Horse," by Nelia Gardner White, originally published in a 1944 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, and previously made into the film Sentimental Journey (1946), with John Payne and Maureen O'Hara Producer: Charles Brackett Director: Jean Negulesco Screenplay: Luther Davis (writer); Nelia Gardner White (article) Cinematography: Milton R. Krasner Art Direction: Mark-Lee Kirk, Lyle R. Wheeler Music: Cyril J. Mockridge, Alfred Newman Film Editing: Hugh S. Fowler Cast: Lauren Bacall (Julie Beck), Robert Stack (William 'Bill' Beck), Evelyn Rudie (Hitty), Lorne Greene (Grant Allan), Anne Seymour (Miss McMasters), Edward Platt (Dr. Jim Miller), Joseph Kearns (Mr. Rynicker), Vic Damone (Singer of title song, voice). C-105m. by Jeremy Arnold Sources: Lauren Bacall, By Myself Lawrence J. Quirk, The Films of Lauren Bacall Brenda Scott Royce, Lauren Bacall: A Bio-Bibliography

Robert Stack, 1919-2003


Robert Stack, the tough, forceful actor who had a solid career in films before achieving his greatest success playing crime fighter Eliot Ness in the '60s television series The Untouchables (1959-63) and later as host of the long-running Unsolved Mysteries(1987-2002), died on May 14 of heart failure in his Los Angeles home. He was 84.

Stack was born in Los Angeles on January 13, 1919 to a well-to-do family but his parents divorced when he was a year old. At age three, he moved with his mother to Paris, where she studied singing. They returned to Los Angeles when he was seven, by then French was his native language and was not taught English until he started schooling.

Naturally athletic, Stack was still in high school when he became a national skeet-shooting champion and top-flight polo player. He soon was giving lessons on shooting to such top Hollywood luminaries as Clark Gable and Carol Lombard, and found himself on the polo field with some notable movie moguls like Darryl Zanuck and Walter Wanger.

Stack enrolled in the University of Southern California, where he took some drama courses, and was on the Polo team, but it wasn't long before some influential people in the film industry took notice of his classic good looks, and lithe physique. Soon, his Hollywood connections got him on a film set at Paramount, a screen test, and eventually, his first lead in a picture, opposite Deanna Durbin in First Love (1939). Although he was only 20, Stack's natural delivery and boyish charm made him a natural for the screen.

His range grew with some meatier parts in the next few years, especially noteworthy were his roles as the young Nazi sympathizer in Frank Borzage's chilling The Mortal Storm (1940), with James Stewart, and as the Polish flier who woos a married Carole Lombard in Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be (1942).

After serving as a gunnery officer in the Navy during World War II, Stack returned to the screen, and found a few interesting roles over the next ten years: giving Elizabeth Taylor her first screen kiss in Robert Thorp's A Date With Judy (1948); the leading role as an American bullfighter in Budd Boetticher's The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951); and as a pilot in William Wellman's The High and the Mighty (1954), starring John Wayne. However, Stack saved his best dramatic performances for Douglas Sirk in two knockout films: as a self-destructive alcoholic in Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind (1956), for which he received an Academy Award nomination for supporting actor; and sympathetically portraying a fallen World War I pilot ace who is forced to do barnstorming stunts for mere survival in Tarnished Angels (1958).

Despite proving his capabilities as a solid actor in these roles, front rank stardom oddly eluded Stack at this point. That all changed when Stack gave television a try. The result was the enormously popular series, The Untouchables (1959-63). This exciting crime show about the real-life Prohibition-era crime-fighter Eliot Ness and his G-men taking on the Chicago underworld was successful in its day for several reasons: its catchy theme music, florid violence (which caused quite a sensation in its day), taut narration by Walter Winchell, and of course, Stack's trademark staccato delivery and strong presence. It all proved so popular that the series ran for four years, earned an Emmy for Stack in 1960, and made him a household name.

Stack would return to television in the late '60s, with the The Name of the Game (1968-71), and a string of made-for-television movies throughout the '70s. His career perked up again when Steven Spielberg cast him in his big budget comedy 1941 (1979) as General Joe Stillwell. The film surprised many viewers as few realized Stack was willing to spoof his granite-faced stoicism, but it won him over many new fans, and his dead-pan intensity would be used to perfect comic effect the following year as Captain Rex Kramer (who can forget the sight of him beating up Hare Krishnas at the airport?) in David and Jerry Zucker's wonderful spoof of disaster flicks, Airplane! (1980).

Stack's activity would be sporadic throughout the remainder of his career, but he returned to television, as the host of enormously popular Unsolved Mysteries (1987-2002), and played himself in Lawrence Kasden's comedy-drama Mumford (1999). He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Rosemarie Bowe Stack, a former actress, and two children, Elizabeth and Charles, both of Los Angeles.

by Michael T. Toole

Robert Stack, 1919-2003

Robert Stack, the tough, forceful actor who had a solid career in films before achieving his greatest success playing crime fighter Eliot Ness in the '60s television series The Untouchables (1959-63) and later as host of the long-running Unsolved Mysteries(1987-2002), died on May 14 of heart failure in his Los Angeles home. He was 84. Stack was born in Los Angeles on January 13, 1919 to a well-to-do family but his parents divorced when he was a year old. At age three, he moved with his mother to Paris, where she studied singing. They returned to Los Angeles when he was seven, by then French was his native language and was not taught English until he started schooling. Naturally athletic, Stack was still in high school when he became a national skeet-shooting champion and top-flight polo player. He soon was giving lessons on shooting to such top Hollywood luminaries as Clark Gable and Carol Lombard, and found himself on the polo field with some notable movie moguls like Darryl Zanuck and Walter Wanger. Stack enrolled in the University of Southern California, where he took some drama courses, and was on the Polo team, but it wasn't long before some influential people in the film industry took notice of his classic good looks, and lithe physique. Soon, his Hollywood connections got him on a film set at Paramount, a screen test, and eventually, his first lead in a picture, opposite Deanna Durbin in First Love (1939). Although he was only 20, Stack's natural delivery and boyish charm made him a natural for the screen. His range grew with some meatier parts in the next few years, especially noteworthy were his roles as the young Nazi sympathizer in Frank Borzage's chilling The Mortal Storm (1940), with James Stewart, and as the Polish flier who woos a married Carole Lombard in Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be (1942). After serving as a gunnery officer in the Navy during World War II, Stack returned to the screen, and found a few interesting roles over the next ten years: giving Elizabeth Taylor her first screen kiss in Robert Thorp's A Date With Judy (1948); the leading role as an American bullfighter in Budd Boetticher's The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951); and as a pilot in William Wellman's The High and the Mighty (1954), starring John Wayne. However, Stack saved his best dramatic performances for Douglas Sirk in two knockout films: as a self-destructive alcoholic in Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind (1956), for which he received an Academy Award nomination for supporting actor; and sympathetically portraying a fallen World War I pilot ace who is forced to do barnstorming stunts for mere survival in Tarnished Angels (1958). Despite proving his capabilities as a solid actor in these roles, front rank stardom oddly eluded Stack at this point. That all changed when Stack gave television a try. The result was the enormously popular series, The Untouchables (1959-63). This exciting crime show about the real-life Prohibition-era crime-fighter Eliot Ness and his G-men taking on the Chicago underworld was successful in its day for several reasons: its catchy theme music, florid violence (which caused quite a sensation in its day), taut narration by Walter Winchell, and of course, Stack's trademark staccato delivery and strong presence. It all proved so popular that the series ran for four years, earned an Emmy for Stack in 1960, and made him a household name. Stack would return to television in the late '60s, with the The Name of the Game (1968-71), and a string of made-for-television movies throughout the '70s. His career perked up again when Steven Spielberg cast him in his big budget comedy 1941 (1979) as General Joe Stillwell. The film surprised many viewers as few realized Stack was willing to spoof his granite-faced stoicism, but it won him over many new fans, and his dead-pan intensity would be used to perfect comic effect the following year as Captain Rex Kramer (who can forget the sight of him beating up Hare Krishnas at the airport?) in David and Jerry Zucker's wonderful spoof of disaster flicks, Airplane! (1980). Stack's activity would be sporadic throughout the remainder of his career, but he returned to television, as the host of enormously popular Unsolved Mysteries (1987-2002), and played himself in Lawrence Kasden's comedy-drama Mumford (1999). He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Rosemarie Bowe Stack, a former actress, and two children, Elizabeth and Charles, both of Los Angeles. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Our Love. The sequence in which "Julie" and "Bill" meet occurs before the start of the onscreen credits. The credits are then shown over a montage depicting the couple's happy married life. The film's title song is played under the opening credit/montage sequence. According to Twentieth Century-Fox publicity materials contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, some scenes were filmed at the Lick Observatory at Mount Hamilton, CA; at the Naval Air Station at Sunnyvale, CA, and at the Vista Del March Orphanage at Sequoia Point, CA. Twentieth Century-Fox first produced Nelia Gardner White's story in 1946 as Sentimental Journey, starring John Payne and Maureen O'Hara and directed by Walter Lang (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). On October 24, 1984, CBS broadcast a televised version titled Sentimental Journey, starring Jaclyn Smith and David Dukes and directed by James Goldstone.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter February 1958

CinemaScope

Released in United States Winter February 1958