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When he is called to testify at his daughter Janie's divorce hearing, William Smith advises the judge against granting the divorce. Smith suggests that the couple's problems arose during their long separation after a whirl-wind courtship and recalls the day that Janie's soldier husband, Andy Anderson, returned home on medical leave: After serving overseas in the military for a year and a half, Andy arrives at the bus station in a small town outside San Francisco and is met by his nervous bride. Having known each other for only four days before Andy was sent overseas, the two greet each other as strangers. Taking Andy home to the house that she shares with her father and their boarder, Henry Fairchild, Janie introduces him to their infant son Bill. Henry, who has fallen in love with Janie and has served as a surrogate father to Bill, resents Andy's presence. That night, Andy insists on sleeping on the floor, and when he is late for breakfast the next morning, he incurs Janie's wrath. When Andy accuses his wife of being stuck in her housekeeping routine, she charges him with living with his head in the sky. She then slugs him with a diaper, and after he retaliates, they wind up in divorce court. His testimony complete, Smith urges the judge to send the couple back to San Francisco, where they met, and allow them to relive their courtship. The judge embraces Smith's suggestion, and makes their divorce contingent upon them retracing the four days they spent together in San Francisco. After leaving Bill in the custody of the court, the couple travel to the city. At the hotel, their request for separate rooms piques the interest of the desk clerk and bellboy. After restaging their meeting in the coffee shop, they proceed to the point overlooking the Bay Bridge, where Andy recalls the romantic speech that he made to Janie prior to proposing. Andy's kiss begins to melt Janie's icy attitude and they return to the hotel. Janie's door is guarded by the curious bellboy, and when Janie leaves her room to visit the bathroom down the hall, Andy, who has the adjoining room, taps a tentative love message on the wall. The knocking upsets the bellboy, who chastises Andy for disturbing the other hotel guests. The next morning, Andy and Janie go to city hall to apply for a marriage license, and confound the clerk by informing him that they are already married. That night, Andy takes Janie dancing and is about to admit that he missed her when another soldier interrupts and asks Janie to dance. When Andy begins to argue with the soldier, an MP intervenes and Janie comes to her husband's defense. Back at the Smith house, meanwhile, a letter arrives revoking Andy's leave and ordering him to report to a San Francisco hospital. When Smith calls the hotel to tell Andy the news, the desk clerk claims that Andy has gone insane. Alarmed, Smith and Henry rush to San Francisco. On the day of their wedding, Janie and Andy reluctantly climb the stairs to the minister's house and ring the doorbell. When they tell the minister that he has already married them, he invites them to tea. Remembering the ceremony, the minister's wife voices her certainty that they are a good match and discusses the sanctity of marriage. Her speech causes Janie and Andy to reflect on their marriage, and Andy realizes that he wants to be around to see Bill take his first steps. At dinner, Janie becomes ill and Andy helps her back to the hotel. As they pass the registration desk, they joke with the clerk that Andy has poisoned her. After Andy puts Janie to bed, they decide to reconcile and work to overcome their differences. Meanwhile, downstairs in the lobby, Smith and Henry have just arrived at the hotel, and when the clerk informs them that Andy has poisoned Janie, Smith rushes upstairs and bursts into Janie's room just as Andy is trying to cure Janie's hiccups by holding a pillow over her face, causing Smith to think that he is trying to suffocate her. At that moment, the MPs, summoned by Henry, enter the room, arrest Andy and take him to the hospital. When Smith and Janie go to the hospital in search of Andy, they are informed that he has been ordered back to duty and, with only a few hours of liberty remaining, has gone. Downhearted, Janie returns to the courthouse and tells the judge that she no longer wants a divorce because she and Andy have decided to keep their feet in housekeeping and their heads in the sky. When the judge informs Janie that her baby is at home waiting for her, Janie returns to the house and finds Andy teaching Bill to walk. Father and son then walk to Janie, and they all embrace.
Robert Emmett Keane
M. W. Stoloff
Virginia Van Upp
Virginia Van Upp
The Impatient Years
Things got off to a bad start when Joel McCrea dropped out of the project before the camera began turning on March 14, 1944, "and was replaced by a nondescript young actor named Lee Bowman who, at twenty-nine, was fourteen years Arthur's junior. With McCrea's departure, Arthur had thought she would skip this film as well, but she changed her mind on the basis of Bowman's screen test. She made a serous misjudgment, for Bowman proved to be completely wooden, and totally inadequate as a substitute for McCrea. Arthur did her best with her role as the not-entirely-sympathetic young mother (Photoplay [Magazine] called her "still the best farceur in the business"), but the entire production suffered from a lack of chemistry between Arthur and her leading man."
When The Impatient Years was premiered in San Francisco on September 7, 1944 (the film had been partially shot on location in Sonoma, in the heart of Northern California's Wine Country), it was not entirely well-received. Bosley Crowther in his New York Times review nailed the problem succinctly, "There is no doubt that many a soldier, returning home to greet his long-unseen war bride, is likely to find a renewal of sweet romance a somewhat awkward affair. And likewise reunion with their husbands may hold considerable problems for the bride. But it is hard to believe that the embarrassment of either party would provoke such reticence as that exhibited by Lee Bowman and Jean Arthur...Of course, there remains the possibility that Virginia Van Upp, who wrote the script, knew that a natural demonstration of welcome would leave her without a yarn. And she obviously chose for her pattern the old one of the "kiss-less bride". That is the story-line followed in this case with little disguise and the usual accumulation of comic and risqué incident. The humor is drawn in most abundance from the plainly confusing fact that a husband and wife are pretending behavior characteristic of folks unwed...But the solemn pretension of this picture to being a lesson for war husbands and brides is plainly presumptuous and preposterous. Its only warning is that they should kiss the moment they meet."
For Jean Arthur the film's success (or lack of) could hardly have mattered. The Impatient Years was the last film she was obligated to make under her contract with Columbia Studios, which she hated, and its legendary boss, Harry Cohn, who she despised. Legend has it that on the last day of shooting, Arthur ran through the lot shouting, "I'm free! I'm free!". Whether or not the story is apocryphal, the fact remains that after The Impatient Years she did not renew her contract with Columbia or any other studio. As Oller wrote, "She quietly let it be known that she was retiring from filmmaking for the foreseeable future, manifesting her intentions by requesting that her entry be left out of the new edition of the Hollywood Player's Directory, an annual listing of active motion picture stars. Jean Arthur's impatient years were over, from now on she would lead a completely independent life, conforming to no one's demands but her own."
Producer: Irving Cummings, Virginia Van Upp
Director: Irving Cummings
Screenplay: Virginia Van Upp
Cinematography: Joseph Walker
Art Direction: Lionel Banks, Cary Odell
Music: Marlin Skiles
Film Editing: Al Clark
Cast: Jean Arthur (Janice Anderson), Lee Bowman (Andy Anderson), Charles Coburn (William Smith), Edgar Buchanan (Judge), Charley Grapewin (Bellboy), Harry Davenport (Minister), Jane Darwell (Minister's wife).
by Lorraine LoBianco
Jean Arthur: The Actress Nobody Knew by John Oller
The Internet Movie Database
The Impatient Years
This movie was originally set to reunite the trio of stars of _More the Merrier, The (1940)_ ('Jean Arthur' , Joel McCrea, and Charles Coburn). Only Arthur and Coburn are in it, because McCrea backed out before shooting started and was replaced by Lee Bowman.
Al Jolson made a studio recording of the title song "Who Said Dreams Don't Come True", which was originally supposed to be heard over the opening credits. The song is still heard, but without Jolson's singing.
An early Hollywood Reporter production chart credits Burnett Guffey with photography although Joseph Walker is credited onscreen in that capacity. FDYB incorrectly credits Hal Mohr and W. Howard Greene with photography and Russell Schoegarth with editing. According to Columbia publicity materials contained in the AMPAS Library production files, backgrounds for this production were filmed in Sonora, CA. The picture marked writer Virginia Van Upp's first assignment as an associate producer, and was also Jean Arthur's last film under her Columbia contract. Arthur and Charles Coburn had previously starred together in the 1943 Columbia film The More the Merrier (see below) and the 1941 RKO film The Devil and Miss Jones.