Cast & Crew
Broadway agent Jud Parker is perfectly happy with being single, living at the Astor Hotel and spending more time at Smittie's bar than his office. Jud refuses new clients because he does not want to work too hard and is annoyed when he has to go to New Haven for the dancing Dean Brothers. After quickly settling the Deans's dispute with a theater owner, Jud meets Anastasia Macaboy, a young woman who owns a dancing school and wants to buy one of the Deans's routines. Although Jud is attracted to "Staci," when she introduces her mother, he quickly leaves. A few days later, Staci goes to New York to attend a conference for dance instructors, but her mother must stay home because of a sprained ankle. Staci intends to keep a close watch on the conniving Mrs. Levoy and her daughter, Pattie Marie, who are planning to start a competing dancing school. When Staci runs into Jud in the elevator of the Astor, she accepts his invitation for lunch, then agrees to miss the afternoon's convention activities to see her first baseball game, in which Jud's beloved New York Giants are playing. After dinner at 21 and a night of dancing, Staci is infatuated with Jud and spends the rest of the week seeing him instead of attending the convention. She ignores messages from her mother, who finally telephones Mrs. Levoy for information. During Staci's last night in New York, she confesses to Jud that she is in love with him and is shattered when he tells her he likes being single and thinks they should end things without "hearts and flowers." Although Staci tries to convince him otherwise, when they reach the Astor, Mrs. Macaboy is waiting in Staci's room and sends Jud away. Back in New Haven, the love-sick Staci cannot stop thinking about Jud. When she begins to use baseball terminology to explain the hopelessness of her situation, her impressed father offers advice, saying that she needs to find Jud's weakness. Some time later, one of Jud's pals gives him a New Haven newspaper containing an announcement of his engagement to Staci. Furious, Jud immediately goes to New Haven to confront her, and brings along his actor friend, Hamlet, who pretends to be his lawyer. The contrite Macaboys swear that they had never dreamed the announcement would be seen in New York, and Staci explains their plan to stop the gossip being spread about her by the Levoys by announcing her engagement. Then, after the gossip died down, she would tell people that she broke the engagement because Jud did not want her to continue working. Jud is charmed by the embellishments of her plan and, after she lies that she no longer is in love with him, he offers to return the following week to help with the ruse. When Jud returns, he spends the day with Staci and her mother, dutifully going to the dancing school, and Staci tells everyone that they are getting married after the school's upcoming recital. That evening, Staci apologizes to Jud for how tough the day had been and starts to massage his shoulder. When she turns out the lights, however, and they start to kiss, Jud says that she is trying to trap him and they argue. After insisting that he likes the single life, she angrily calls him a "flesh peddler," and he walks out. After a New York columnist questions whether the now-broken engagement was ever real, Staci finds that gossip has increased and many parents are taking their children out of her school. In desperation, she goes to see Jud at Smittie's, where he has been drinking alone, causing his friends to call him a "torchy guy." Staci explains that the gossip will not stop unless she is the one to break the engagement, as originally planned. Instead of being sympathetic, Jud angrily tells her that he is now "stuck" on her and wants to get "unstuck" as soon as possible. Staci then proposes a wager: if the slumping Giants lose the game being played that day, he will come with her to the school's recital and stage their breakup fight; if the Giants win, she will never see him again. They watch the game on television, and the Giants win in the ninth inning. Staci then graciously admits defeat and goes home. On the day of the recital, Jud shows up, claiming that he is no longer stuck on Staci. Mr. Macaboy tells Staci that Jud is there and advises her to "throw him a curve" if she wants to keep him. As the recital progresses, Staci seems too busy to talk with Jud and intimates that she is moving to Long Beach, California. As he tries to find out what she is talking about, he gets pushed onstage and falls through a trap door. When Staci finds him, he is angry, but tells her that she is going to marry him. After admitting to each other that they are both stuck, they kiss, to the delight of Mr. Macaboy.
Robert E. Griffin
Henry Dar Boggia
Danny Richards Jr.
Bonny Kay Eddy
William "bill" Phillips
Irwin J. Berniker
Earl K. Brent
Earl K. Brent
Ruth Brooks Flippen
Edwin B. Willis
William H. Wright
Love Is Better Than Ever - Love is Better Than Ever
Starting small was only natural for a first time director. Although Donen had done outstanding work as a choreographer and had co-directed one of MGM's biggest hits of 1949, the studio had to make sure he could handle a film on his own before giving him any of their bigger projects. So Donen got to strut his stuff on a simple romantic comedy about a small-town girl (Elizabeth Taylor) who believes the line thrown at her by a Broadway press agent (Parks), then sets out to trick the womanizer into realizing she's his ideal woman. Making the slender story believable was hardly a challenge. At the height of her beauty, Taylor was already the ideal woman to large numbers of adoring fans. Love Is Better Than Ever went into production after her move into adult roles in the comedy Father of the Bride (1950) and the suspense film Conspirator (1949). In addition, she had been the darling of the press since her highly publicized wedding to hotel heir Nicky Hilton just as Father of the Bride was playing in theatres around the U.S.
Parks was also a hot commodity. He had been building a fan following at Columbia Pictures when studio head Harry Cohn decided to cast him rather than a major star to play legendary singer Al Jolson in The Jolson Story (1946). The film was a surprise hit, partly because of Parks' dynamic performance and partly because of Jolson's dubbing on the songs. Not only did the picture bring Parks an Oscar® nomination, but it made him one of the studio's top male stars. Three years later, the sequel, Jolson Sings Again (1949), was just as successful. When Cohn agreed to loan Parks to MGM for Love Is Better Than Ever, it seemed a smart move for all involved. Each star would get a boost from the other's popularity, and Donen would make his directing debut with two marquee names.
Then HUAC initiated a round of hearings into alleged Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry and called Parks as their first witness. He had actually been subpoenaed during the first round of hearings in 1947. But the first group of "unfriendly" witnesses, the Hollywood Ten, created such an uproar that the hearings had been suspended, and Parks' career had gone on without problems. When he was called in early 1951, however, he knew there was no way out, and MGM put Love Is Better Than Ever on the shelf while they waited to see how things would come out. Rather than take the Fifth, as many other witnesses were to do, Parks admitted to having been a member of the Communist Party, then explained that, like many other progressives in the '30s, he had been disillusioned by the Hitler-Stalin non-aggression pact at the start of World War II. When the committee demanded he name names, however, he refused. His statement made headlines: "I don't think this is American justice to make me choose [to]...be in contempt of this Committee...or crawl through the mud for no purpose. You know who these people are." (Quoted from the biography Betty Garrett and Other Songs). At first, it seemed he had gotten through the meetings unscathed. Even John Wayne, one of Hollywood's most outspoken supporters of the hearings, said he had done himself proud. Then gossip columnist Hedda Hopper went on the attack. By the time she was finished Wayne had apologized for his statements, and Park was unemployable. Columbia dropped his contract, and MGM held back Love Is Better Than Ever for another year. Even Parks' wife, Betty Garrett, was unemployable for a time.
When the film finally came out, critics were less than thrilled with what they saw as a tired rehash of overused romantic clichés. By that point, however, Donen had scored a hit with Royal Wedding and was working on his best film, Singin' in the Rain (1952). The film's main selling point was Taylor, whose star had risen even higher after her love scenes with Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun (1951) and the publicity generated by her divorce from Hilton and her famous statement, "I'm just a girl in a woman's body." Fans today are mostly drawn to the film for the chance to see her youthful beauty.
Producer: William H. Wright
Director: Stanley Donen
Screenplay: Ruth Brooks Flippen
Cinematography: Harold Rosson
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Gabriel Scognamillo
Music: Lennie Hayton
Costume Design: Helen Rose
Cast: Larry Parks (Jud Parker), Elizabeth Taylor (Anastacia Macaboy), Josephine Hutchinson (Mrs. Macaboy), Tom Tully (Mr. Macaboy), Ann Doran (Mrs. Levoy), Elinor Donahue (Pattie Marie Levoy), Kathleen Freeman (Mrs. Kahrney).
BW-82m. Closed captioning.
by Frank Miller
Love Is Better Than Ever - Love is Better Than Ever
In 1951 star Larry Parks was among the first Hollywood personalities to admit that he had been a member of the Communist Party, in testimony before Sen. Joseph McCarthy's infamous subcommittee. He was subsequently among those blacklisted in Hollywood, and the release of this film was delayed as a result.
Actress Elinor Donahue's surname was misspelled "Donohue" in the onscreen cast credits. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, portions of Love Is Better Than Ever were shot on location in New York City in mid-November 1950. As noted in other news items, Broadway actor Dan Foster made his feature debut in the film and that George Metkovitch, who potrayed the mythical New York Giants player "Cahoogit", was a prominent Pacific Coast League baseball player. Although a January 2, 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Gene Kelly, who makes a brief appearance as himself in the picture, was also acting as a technical advisor on the dancing school segments, his capacity as an advisor was unofficial.
A "Rambling Reporter" column in Hollywood Reporter on March 4, 1952 noted that Columbia, the studio for which Larry Parks made the successful The Al Jolson Story and Jolson Sings Again would "warily" monitor the success of Love Is Better Than Ever to see if they should rerelease the two Jolson pictures. Parks, who had appeared as a friendly witness before HUAC, and admitted to having once belonged to the Communist Party, made only two additional films, both shot in England, Cross-Up (1955, ) and Freud (1962, see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70).