Cast & Crew
A. Edward Sutherland
Veteran city dweller Edna Baker meets Fred Stevens, from Schenectady, on a train bound for New York City, where Fred hopes to make it as a songwriter. Once in New York, Edna gives Fred a tour of the city and, beneath a summer's moon in the middle of a February snowfall, Fred writes the lyrics to "June Moon." Fred's talent is limited to his ability to rhyme malapropisms, but he eagerly seeks out composer Paul Sears, who had one hit three years ago and is in bad need of a lyricist. Paul's sister-in-law, Eileen Fletcher, urges Paul to befriend Fred so she can get hold of his $1,200 life savings. She then wines and dines Fred on his own money, and he neglects Edna. When Fred presents "June Moon" to music publishers Junior Goebel and Sam Hart, he erases his dedication to Edna, then launches into a wretched a cappella rendition of his song. The audition is a miserable failure, but Hart, who is reluctantly involved with Eileen, gives Fred a $2,500 advance on "June Moon" as a payoff to rid himself of Eileen. Fred innocently believes Hart loved the song and lets Eileen convince him to buy her an expensive engagement ring. Paul's wife Lucille, meanwhile, has her eyes on an expensive dress and when Paul refuses to buy it for her, she accepts a male admirer's offer to buy it. Meanwhile, Fred continues to break dates with Edna, whom he really loves. Pianist Maxie Schwartz intervenes to save Fred by informing Edna that Hart has vowed never to publish "June Moon" and that Fred will never make it as a songwriter. When Lucille walks into the office in her new dress, Eileen tells Paul that she and Fred bought it for her. When Fred sees Eileen condoning Lucille's avaricious infidelity, and Paul informs him that Eileen was Hart's mistress, he finally realizes he was "goin' around with a bad woman," and returns to Edna. The couple decides to settle down in Schenectady, where Fred will return to his job at Eastern Electric Co. and write rhymes for Edna's ears only.
A. Edward Sutherland
Frances Dee (1907-2004)
She was born Jane Dee, on November 26, 1907 in Los Angeles, California. She was the daughter of an Army officer who grew up in Chicago after her father was transferred there when she was still a toddler. After he was re-stationed to Los Angeles in the late '20s, Jane accompanied him back.
Although she didn't harbor any serious intentions of becoming a star, Dee, almost out of curiosity, found work in Hollywood as an extra. With bit parts in small features in the films Words and Music (1929), True to the Navy, and Monte Carlo (both 1930), it didn't take long for studio executives to take notice of the sleek, stylish brunette. They changed her first name to Francis, and gave her a prominent role opposite Maurice Chevalier in one of the first all-talking musicals, The Playboy of Paris (1930).
She proved she could handle drama in her next big hit, An American Tragedy (1931) as Sondra Finchley, the role played by Elizabeth Taylor in the George Stevens' remake A Place in the Sun (1951). She met her husband Joel McCrea while filming The Silver Cord (1933), and after a romantic courtship, were married that same year in Rye, New York. It was well-known within film industry circles that their 57-year marriage (ending in 1990 when McCrea passed away) was one of the most successful among Hollywood stars.
From there, Dee played important leads in several fine motion pictures thoughout the decade: Little Women (1933), starring Katharine Hepburn; Blood Money (also 1933), where she was cast thrillingly against type as a sex-hungry socialite whose taste for masochistic boyfriends leads to harrowing results; Of Human Bondage (1934), in which she played Leslie Howard's devoted girlfriend; The Gay Deception (1935), a charming romantic comedy co-starring Frances Lederer; Wells Fargo (1937) a broad sweeping Western where she again teamed up with her husband McCrea; and the classic period epic If I Were King (1938) making a marvelous match for Ronald Colman.
Dee's film career slowed considerably in the '40s, as she honorably spent more time raising her family. Still, she was featured in two fine films: the profound, moving anti-Nazi drama So Ends Our Night (1941) with Fredric March; and Val Lewton's terrific cult hit I Walked with a Zombie (1943), portraying the inquisitive nurse trying to unravel the mystery of voodoo occurrences on a West Indian plantation. Dee officially retired after starring in the family film Gypsy Colt (1954) to commit herself full-time to her children and her husband.
For those so inclined, you might want to check out Complicated Women (2003), a tight documentary regarding the racy Pre-Code films that represented a realistic depiction of the Depression-era morality before the Hays code took over Hollywood in 1934. Frances Dee, although well in her nineties, offers some lucid insight into her performance in Blood Money, and clearly demonstrates an actor's process of thought and understanding in role development.
She is survived by three sons including the actor Jody McCrea, who found fame as "Bonehead" in the AIP Beach Party films of the '60s, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Frances Dee (1907-2004)
This film's pre-production title was Night Life. Harry Akst, who portrayed "Maxie Schwartz" in the film, was a popular composer in the 1920s and 1930s, also wrote music for films.