The Great Profile


1h 22m 1940

Brief Synopsis

Barrymore lampoons himself. A famous actor, given to drink, nearly destroys the show, but his leading lady (Hughes) returns to save it. Meanwhile a young girl (Baxter) tries to reform him.

Film Details

Release Date
Aug 30, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

Evans Garrick, an eccentric and tempermental thespian, is expelled from a picture and from Hollywood following his disappearance from a production and the discovery that he has been on a three day bender. Boris Mefoosky, Evans' manager, and Sylvia, Evans' wife, soon desert him because of his degenerated state, and vow never to return. After Mary Maxwell, a neoyphyte screen writer, sneaks into Evans' house and convinces him to play the lead in her new play, he calls the press to notify them that he will be starring in a new play, and, hoping to win back his wife, he announces that Sylvia will be cast opposite him. Mary's wealthy fiancé, Richard Lansing, provides the financial backing for the production, but Boris soon finds himself in financial straits and followed by debt collectors. In its first performance, the play gets off to a poor start until Evans saves it in the second act when he re-enters the stage drunk and turns the show into a comedy. Disenchanted with Evans' performance in her play, Mary threatens to shut down the production. When Sylvia deserts Evans once again, Mary is forced to take over her role. Richard tries to save the play by telling Mary that the play is not a lampoon of her story, but rather a mirror of a desperate actor who has lost control of himself. Deeply distressed and concerned about Evans' behavior, Mary tells Evans that she intends to reform him and bring out the great actor within him. The play fails, however, when Evans plays his part sober. Touched by her concern for his well-being, Evans tells Mary that he loves her, and after she admits that she loves him too, she breaks off her engagement to Richard. Capitalizing on Evans' new romance with Mary, Mefoosky leaks word to the press in the hope of making Sylvia jealous enough to come back and torment Evans, which he knows will improve his performance. Mefoosky's plan is successful and Sylvia returns. The play closes with Sylvia back in the lead role and Evans in top form.

Film Details

Release Date
Aug 30, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to Fox publicity material, this picture was based on the press coverage about John Barrymore's fights with his wife, Dolores Costello, his infamous drinking bouts, and his appearance in the play My Dear Children which, based on reviews, was saved by his outrageous onstage ad-libbing. According to notes contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, Lou Breslow and Owen Francis prepared the rough outline for this film in February 1940. The story files also indicate that the character played by Willie Fung was originally set for Otto Harno. A memo written by screenplay writer Milton Sperling, dated April 22, 1940, criticizes the original screenplay, which was written by Hilary Lynn. In the memo, Sperling complains that Lynn's characters are too exaggerated, and expresses his desire to rewrite the script. On March 5, 1940, producer Darryl F. Zanuck suggested the character of "Boris Mefoosky," and thought that Gregory Ratoff should play the part. Zanuck originally named the character "Len."
       Studio publicity records note that Barrymore did not memorize any of his lines for the film, but instead read them from a blackboard. George French is listed as his blackboard toter. Because Barrymore never missed a cue or muffled a speech, the use of blackboards was credited with bringing the picture five days under schedule and saving the studio an estimated $25,000. The acrobats who appeared in the picture belonged to the Pina Troupe, the Four Olympic Aces and the Three Velardes. According to the publicity material, at the time of production, John Barrymore was $62,000 in debt and said that he made this picture for his creditors, and that he wanted to make his next one for himself. The publicity records also note that actress Mary Beth Hughes was required to wear so much makeup and change it so many times, that she contracted makeup poisoning; that the film was originally intended as a quieter Adolph Menjou vehicle, but the script was revamped for Barrymore, and Menjou was paid to leave the film; and that twenty-seven paintings were produced by artist Leo Quijano for the sole purpose of being destroyed during the filming of two scenes-one in which Barrymore attacks a painting with a palette knife, and another in which his wife "Sylvia" breaks one over his head.