Cast & Crew
In Vienna, 1938, Katie O'Hara, a gold-digging ex-burlesque queen from Brooklyn posing as Phildelphia socialite Katherine Butt-Smith, is about to attain her dream of wealth and status by marrying Baron Von Luber of Austria. On the eve of her wedding, Katie is visited by foreign correspondent Pat O'Toole, who is writing an article that will expose the baron as a Nazi undercover agent. Recognizing Katie as a Brooklyn stripper, Pat becomes infatuated with her, and when the baron arrives to inform her that they are leaving immediately for Czechoslovakia, Pat follows her to Prague, where Katie and the baron are married. After the fall of Czechoslovakia, the baron and his bride board a train for Poland. When the baron is questioned by the police about an illegal cache of money found in his wife's purse, Pat enters Katie's compartment to warn her about her husband. Katie, content with her diamond ring and expensive jewels, refuses to listen, however, and sends Pat back to his compartment--alone except for his saxophone. In Warsaw, Pat meets Katie at her hotel and invites her to a café, where he continues to lobby her to leave the baron. While Katie and Pat flirt with each other over drinks, the baron offers to sell Polish General Borelski guns so that his countrymen can defend themselves against the Germans. When the guns fail to work, Pat contacts the general, who has come to realize that the guns, which are useless, are part of the baron's plot to destroy Poland. Soon after, the general, who is the only person who can testify against the baron, is assassinated, and the baron is jailed for questioning. After the fall of Warsaw, Pat visits Katie in her hotel suite, where she begins to discern the trail of destruction that her husband has wrought across Europe. When the children of Anna, her Jewish maid, run terrified into her suite, seeking refuge from the Germans, Katie decides to take a stand and helps them escape the country by giving Anna her passport. After learning that the baron has been freed, Katie decides to leave her husband, and Pat arranges to have her name put on a casualities list to prevent the baron from searching for her. When the Gestapo demands Katie's and Pat's passports, Katie presents them with Anna's passport, and as a result, they are imprisoned as Jews. Rescued by the American consul, they follow the baron across Norway, Holland and Belgium to Paris. In Paris, they visit Le Blanc's photo studio to have new passport photos taken. After Pat leaves Katie at the studio to go shopping, Le Blanc, an American counter-agent, recognizes her as the baron's wife and implores her to return to her husband to discover his plans for France. That evening, Pat professes his love to Katie and proposes. When Katie tries to tell him of her mission, Pat begs her not to break the magical spell of the night. The next morning, Katie leaves Pat before he awakens. While drowning his loneliness in a Paris café, Pat discovers that the baron is seated at the table next to his, dressed in a Nazi uniform. The baron informs Pat that his wife has returned. He confides his suspicions about her constant questions, and threatens to turn her into the secret police unless Pat agrees to broadcast German propaganda into the United States. After the baron departs, Le Blanc, who is seated at the next table, suggests that Pat accept the baron's offer and then double-cross him. Later, Katie visits Le Blanc's studio with a roll of film that she has shot of her husband. In one of the baron's crossword puzzles as captured on film, Le Blanc discerns a Nazi secret code. After he sends the code to U.S. intelligence, the Nazis break into the studio, shoot Le Blanc and arrest Katie. Katie is imprisoned in her hotel suite, where Anna, now a maid at the hotel, helps her escape by giving her a maid's uniform. Meanwhile, at the radio studio, Pat has taken Le Blanc's advice and alters his speech to portray the baron as dangerously power-hungry. After the embarrased baron is arrested by the suspicious Gestapo, Katie joins Pat at the studio, and the pair board a ship bound for America. As Pat leaves to speak to the ship's purser, Katie is approached by the baron, who informs her that he has been pardoned by Hitler. Fearful that he plans to continue his destructive ways in America, Katie threatens him, and they begin to struggle along the railing of the deck. Rejoining Pat on the deck below, a shaken Katie recounts how she pushed the baron overboard in self-defense. When Pat informs the captain that a man is overboard, the captain turns the ship around, but when Katie informs him that the baron can't swim, the captain abandons his search.
Gohr Van Vleck
Hans Von Twardowski
Claudine De Luc
Claude E. Carpenter
Albert S. D'agostino
Robert Emmett Dolan
James G. Stewart
Richard Van Hessen
Vernon L. Walker
Once Upon a Honeymoon
Two days later, Grant became an American citizen and legally changed his name from Archibald Leach to Cary Grant. The next day, he signed enlistment papers, hoping to report to officer candidate school in Miami Beach, Florida. In late August, the War Dept. notified Grant that he was to report to a Los Angeles recruiting office on Sept. 15 and from there would be sent to Miami Beach. It never happened. By mid-December, Washington had decided to save Grant for specialized service throughout the war of a nature to be determined and which would help publicize the war effort. Grant took the decision in stride, issuing a statement that read in part, "Wherever Uncle Sam orders my utilization to the best purposes, there I will willingly go, as should every other man. I feel that Uncle Sam knows best."
While all this was going on, Grant was pursuing the Woolworth store heiress Barbara Hutton, who had just finalized her second divorce. Hutton had inherited a $40 million fortune, leading some members of the press to label the couple "Cash and Cary," but in reality they signed a pre-nuptial agreement. They were married on July 8 at Lake Arrowhead, California. In a twist of irony, Grant had to report the next day for continuing work on Once Upon a Honeymoon, which meant that he and Hutton never had a honeymoon themselves!
In a way, all of these off-set happenings matched the all-over-the-place feel of Once Upon a Honeymoon, a picture which mixes comedy, drama, romance and adventure quite freely. The script, originally titled The New Order, is about a reporter (Grant) stationed in Warsaw during the bombing. He falls for an American stripper (Ginger Rogers) who has naively married a Nazi leader (Walter Slezak). Grant rescues her and they breeze through occupied, war-torn Europe. At one point, they are mistaken for Jews and briefly placed in a concentration camp, a scene which caused outrage among critics. The New York Times called this sequence "downright offensive" and declared that the overall film made "the fatal error of mixing romantic comedy with a theme which is essentially tragic and far from frivolous...It is a very strange and stark lark."
Uneven despite patches of brilliance, Once Upon a Honeymoon makes for a fascinating case study of the nature of comedy. Are there subjects which are simply off-limits for laughs? It's been said that comedy equals tragedy plus time; if that's true, then evidently not enough time had gone by for a lot of people's tastes when Once Upon a Honeymoon was released in November 1942. Then again, many movies over the years have successfully made fun of Hitler and the Nazis, including another film from 1942 (To Be or Not to Be), so perhaps the reason for Honeymoon's poor reception had more to do with the tone of its type of comedy than it did with the concept of the film itself.
In any event, the comedy scenes between Grant and Rogers play quite well, with rock-solid timing. Rogers even noted this in her autobiography: "Cary's comic timing rated a ten. His gentle humor was infectious. I admired and adored him. As for Leo McCarey, you felt you had struck it rich with him. He was full of good ideas and directorial nuances." But Rogers and Grant weren't always cuddly with one another. They had such a nasty dispute over who would receive top billing that RKO settled the matter by releasing half the publicity with Rogers' name first and the other half with Grant's name first.
Grant described McCarey as one of the five best directors he ever worked with, along with Howard Hawks, George Stevens, George Cukor and Alfred Hitchcock. "Each of those directors," he later wrote, "permitted me the release of improvisation during the rehearsing of each scene...They permitted me to discover how far I could go with confidence, while guided by their quiet, sensitive directorial approval."
Producer/Director: Leo McCarey
Screenplay: Sheridan Gibney, Leo McCarey
Cinematography: George Barnes
Film Editing: Theron Warth
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, Alfred Herman
Music: Robert Emmett Dolan
Cast: Ginger Rogers (Katie O'Hara), Cary Grant (Pat O'Toole), Walter Slezak (Baron Von Luber), Albert Dekker (Gaston Leblanc), Albert Bassermann (Marshal Borelski), Ferike Boros (Elsa).
by Jeremy Arnold
Once Upon a Honeymoon
The working title of this film was International Honeyoon. Although George Sanders is listed in the cast in early Hollywood Reporter production charts, his name drops out after June 26, 1942 and he does not appear in the final film. Hollywood Reporter news items note that RKO borrowed George Barnes from David Selzick's company to photograph the film and Emmett Dolan from Paramount to write the screenplay. Another news item in Hollywood Reporter adds that writer Sheridan Gibney was called in to revise Ginger Rogers' character shortly after production began. An article in New York Times commented upon the "film's tasteless humor," warning that it was dangerous to mix romantic comedy with stark tragedy.
This picture was Leo McCarey's first production at RKO. The picture also marked Walter Slezak's American screen debut. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, Slezak won a three-year contract with the studio as a result of his performance in this film. Other news items in Hollywood Reporter note that in September 1942, McCarey shot additional scenes for insurance before Cary Grant and Rogers began new assignments. According to modern sources, Grant and Rogers couldn't agree on who should receive top billing, and consequently, Rogers' name appeared first in half of the prints and Grant received top billing in the other half. In the viewed print, Grant received top billing, but in CBCS and in the Radio City Music Hall program, Rogers received top billing. This picture received an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Recording. Modern sources credit Mel Berns with makeup and John Miehle with still photography. Claudette Colbert starred with Brian Aherne in a April 12, 1943 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story.
Released in United States 1942
Released in United States May 2001
Released in United States on Video April 5, 1989
Shown at Cannes International Film Festival (Retrospective) May 9-20, 2001.
Released in United States 1942
Released in United States on Video April 5, 1989
Released in United States May 2001 (Shown at Cannes International Film Festival (Retrospective) May 9-20, 2001.)