Cast & Crew
Jane Benson, a charming English girl, lives alone in a vast Yorkshire mansion which has been left to her by her grandfather, a wealthy old skinflint who has just died. Jane, tired of poverty, longs for the glitter of London, Monte Carlo and Nice. A young country doctor, Freddie Jarvis, is in love with her, and when Jane confesses that she shares his love, Freddie offers to sell his practice and take her on the adventure she has always dreamed of. When her grandfather's will is read, it is discovered that the old man left his entire fortune of £18,000,000 to Jane. Immediately, Jane becomes one of the richest girls in England and is besieged by reporters and an assortment of social parasites. Dazed by her good fortune, Jane realizes that she can now gratify her longings for a life of glamour. With Freddie, who fears that things can never be the same between them, Jane goes to London, where she is taken in by Millie and Julie, members of the fast set who contrive to cut themselves in on Jane's bounty. After Jane and Freddie quarrel about their life style, Freddie leaves, and Julie and Millie, sensing their opportunity, introduce Jane to Guy and Pietro, titled gigolos who are after her money. As Jane travels to Paris and Monte Carlo with her newfound friends, her heart remains with Freddie, who has taken a job at an ultra-fashionable clinic in Switzerland. Freddie, who is dedicated to his profession, is not happy with the bogus scientific atmosphere of the clinic and resists the blandishments of his wealthy patients. At last, Jane sees the folly of her life and decides to return to Freddie. Catching the next train to Switzerland, she visits Freddie, who, although overjoyed to see her, remains unconvinced that she has changed. At Jane's insistence, they tour Italy where, while drifting in a gondola along a Venetian canal, they realize that nothing will ever come between them again.
David B. Cunynghame
A. W. Watkins
Over the Moon
The engine that drives Over the Moon, a charming wisp of a comedy, are the series of mistakes and near-misses that eventually right themselves so Jane and Freddie can find their way back to one another. Produced by Alexander Korda and directed by Thornton Freeland (Flying Down to Rio , Accused ) the picture was released in England in 1939, an eventful year for Oberon: She also appeared in Wuthering Heights, opposite Laurence Olivier; and she married Korda, with whom she'd been romantically linked for several years.
By that time Korda, a Hungarian refugee who had also worked in Hollywood, Paris and Berlin, had become a major force in the British film industry. He and Oberon met, oddly enough, through the intercession of his first wife, Maria. It was 1932 and Korda had recently set up his own studio, Denham (which would later merge with Pinewood Studios). He and Maria were estranged at the time, but she decided to pay a visit and possibly broker a reconciliation. As recounted by Michael Korda, Alexander's nephew, in his book Charmed Lives, Maria spotted a beautiful young contract player in the studio canteen. She grabbed Korda by the wrist, causing him to spill coffee all over himself. "Look at that one, you fool, there's a face worth millions!" she told him.
"Alex, his trousers soaked with coffee, made his way over to her table, introduced himself, and was instantly captivated," Korda writes. Alexander contacted the actress' agent and signed her immediately to a long-term contract. "He did not even look at the tests," Korda writes. "The face was enough." Oberon, who had been born in Bombay, British India, of Anglo-Indian parentage, possessed beauty that was both sophisticated and mysterious, but her real name - Estelle Merle O'Brien Thompson -- was a problem. Alexander wanted to call her Stella Merle, but Oberon objected, instead wishing to be called Merle O'Brien. The two compromised after the actress herself shuffled a few vowel sounds around to come up with the name Oberon.
Alexander and Merle courted for years while he built up his studio and she appeared in minor parts. In 1937, she suffered a serious car accident, just as she was preparing to film I, Claudius, with Alexander producing. The accident left her badly scarred, though surgery (and careful lighting) helped correct some of the damage. It also made Alexander realize how much he loved her, and two years later, after Oberon had established her own career, the two were finally married.
Oberon's performance in Over the Moon is a charming one, appealing in its offhanded lightness. Her co-star, Harrison, had made his film debut in 1930 in The Great Game, though his career had been, at that point, established largely on the stage. He's courtly, perhaps a little stiff, in Over the Moon -- after all, he has to play the straight man to Oberon's lively society girl -- but he still comes off as eminently likable. Noel Coward once described Harrison as "the best light comedy actor in the world - except for me." And watching this fairly early Harrison film performance, it's easy to see what he meant.
By Stephanie Zacharek
The New York Times
Michael Korda, Charmed Lives, Random House, Inc., 1979
Over the Moon
According to the Variety review, location shooting was done in Venice, St. Moritz and Monte Carlo. Merle Oberon and Alexander Korda were married at the time of the production. A news item in Los Angeles Times adds that United Artists at one time considered remaking this film as an American production in 1939 with Rex Harrison and Merle Oberon repeating their roles. Modern sources credit William K. Howard as director; Robert Krasker with exterior photography; John Guthrie and Russell Lloyd as assistant editors and Lewis Gilbert and add Evelyn Ankers to the cast.