Cast & Crew
Lingerie salesclerk Susan Miller longs for a luxurious life full of interesting people. Susie's opportunity comes in the form of Mrs. Maybelle Worthington and Warren, two swindlers who use pretty girls as decoys to bilk weathly men. As their latest girl has gotten married, Maybelle and Warren need a replacement, and convince the reluctant Susie that all she has to do is be "beautiful but unobtainable." The trio soon establish themselves with Susie posing as Linda Worthington, Maybelle's daughter. They live off rich men who become attracted to Susie, until one day, on Santa Catalina Island, they meet John Wheeler, whom they mistake for a millionaire because he is trying to buy a yacht. Susie and Maybelle pretend to be interested in a particular boat, which they allow John to buy instead. Unknown to John, the man he buys the boat from is not the real owner, Harvey Beasley, but Warren. John does not realize that Maybelle and Susie, of whom he is genuinely fond, are involved in the swindle, and promises them that he will catch the culprits. Sometime later, Susie, Maybelle and Warren take up residence in Connecticut at the home of wealthy Tod Fenwick and his parents. Tod is in love with Susie, and Maybelle and Warren plan on making a million dollars from their marriage. They are surprised by the appearance of John, who is an accountant, and is there to discuss business with Tod. When Susie tries to distract John until his train leaves, she learns that he makes only sixty-five dollars a week and had saved for fifteen years for the $15,000 to buy the yacht. John has big dreams and his ambitions thrill Susie, who finds that she returns his affections. They decide to marry, and despite Maybelle's warnings that she cannot quit so easily, Susie leaves with John. She moves into John's New York boardinghouse, and the young couple plan their future. Wanting to return John's money without him knowing, Susie gives $15,000 to a casino owner friend, Colonel Prentiss, who arranges for John to win the money while gambling. John and Susie decide to go to California to buy a boat, but while they are in the airport awaiting their flight, Susie runs into Tod. Also present are Maybelle and Warren, who have accepted Tod's marriage proposal on her behalf. Susie excuses herself from John, who returns to the casino to gamble again until their flight leaves. Warren tells the colonel that the money Susie gave him was actually his, and threatens to reveal old secrets unless he arranges for John to lose it all. Desperate for John to have his boat, Susie agrees to jilt him and marry Tod if Warren will allow him to keep the money. John, who has been losing, is allowed to win back the $15,000 and returns to the airport, where a goodbye note from Susie awaits him. Just then, however, Kellogg, the private detective hired by John to find the swindler who sold him the boat, arrives and tells John that he has found the culprits. After Kellogg reveals how Maybelle and Warren have been using Susie, John returns to the casino to rescue her. As Kellogg is taking Maybelle and Warren off to be arrested, John assures Susie that he still loves her and believes her to be innocent. The young couple then go off to catch the next flight to California.
Frank Coghlan Jr.
General Samuel Savitsky
Joseph E. Aiken
Cyril J. Mockridge
Rings on Her Fingers
According to writer Robert Pirosh, he and Joseph Schrank were disappointed not to be allowed to do the screenplay adaptation of their own original story. Studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck wanted them to work on another project, so Ken Englund and an uncredited Emeric Pressburger did the screenplay, instead. Other changes were made in pre-production; Irving Cummings had been announced to direct, only to be replaced by Rouben Mamoulian, and comedienne Helen Broderick (mother of Broderick Crawford) had to drop out of the film and fly to New York when her mother fell ill, and Spring Byington replaced her. The script itself had to undergo revisions in October 1941 when the censors objected to intimations of "a sex affair without compensating moral values" between Fonda and Tierney. Further objections by officials included a request that a list of names mentioned in the film be changed, since "Irene, Mabel and Betty" were all names of condom brands. Writer Ken Englund replied that his wife's name was Mabel and that it was his own private joke to use her name for a character in all of his scripts. He wrote that he was considering "having my wife's name legally changed to Sam," and that producer Milton Sperling's wife should change her name from Betty to Fred. The script's woes continued for another nine years when the studio was sued in 1950 by Andrea Dello Siesto, who charged Twentieth Century-Fox with plagiarism, claiming that they had based Rings on Her Fingers on his play Le due leggi di Maud (The Two Laws of Maud). The studio eventually settled for $1,500.
Under the working title of Double or Nothing shooting began during the first week of December 1941 on location at Santa Catalina Island, twenty-six miles off the coast of Southern California. Gene Tierney's then-husband, designer Oleg Cassini, later remembered that the company was working on Sunday, December 7th. Just as director Mamoulian was about to call "Action!" an assistant came running up, screaming that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, and the company needed to pack everything up and get back to the mainland immediately. They would return to a California soon to be plunged into a mandatory nighttime blackout and the threat of invasion. The war wasn't the only thing on Cassini's mind. He was nervous about his wife working with Henry Fonda, with whom she had made her first film, The Return of Frank James (1940). "Henry Fonda made it difficult for me to like him. When he and Gene were working together on Rings on Her Fingers he struck me as rather arrogant. He had that wonderful voice and easy manner, and he seemed to exude a confidence that he could seduce Gene any time he wanted. [...] There was a real tension between us, but never a confrontation. [... ] Later in life, we became quite friendly."
Filming ended in late January, with retakes done beginning on February 5th. Rings on Her Fingers went into general release in April 1942 with critics decidedly lukewarm. The anonymous "T.S." complained about Tierney's acting ability in his review in the New York Times. After playing "ruinous" roles in her earlier films, Twentieth Century-Fox finally "allowed [Tierney] to resemble a human being, if not an actress. An actress, we suspect, should have a little more equipment than Expression A for rapture, B for apprehension, etc. A slight sense of timing helps, too, in confections such as this, as does a sense of when a moonstruck scene is no longer lunar, but loony. Mayhap Miss Tierney will learn these things with time. [...] Not that Miss Tierney receives any assistance from the scenarists, who haven't sprung any mental seams in an effort to be original. [...] To this overworked escapade, Henry Fonda brings his stupefied sort of charm, injecting some humor into the character of the fleeced accountant; Laird Cregar floats about the screen like a buoyant elephant, and Spring Byington brings a ladylike touch to the female swindler. Here and there they uncover a droll moment, making Rings on Her Fingers an interesting exercise to say the least."
by Lorraine LoBianco
Davis, Ronald L. Words into Images: Screenwriters on the Studio System Hardcover
The Internet Movie Database
T.S. "'Rings on Her Fingers,' at the Roxy, Stars Gene Tierney and Henry Fonda" The New York Times 24 Apr 42
Vogel, Michelle Gene Tierney: A Biography
Rings on Her Fingers
The working title of this film was Double or Nothing. Although the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library indicate that the studio purchased a book in 1936 entitled Rings on Her Fingers, written by Laurence Kirk, it is unrelated to the picture and does not appear to have been the basis of any other film produced by the studio. According to studio records and Hollywood Reporter news items, Irving Cummings was originally set to direct the picture, and the cast was to include Sara Allgood, Catherine Doucet, Donald MacBride and Lynne Roberts. Hollywood Reporter and studio publicity also noted that Helen Broderick was replaced by Spring Byington in the role of "Maybelle Worthington" after Broderick flew to New York to tend to her ill mother. Studio publicity reported that the yacht in the picture, the Bali, was owned by actor John Carradine. According to publicity material, Dale Evans was signed to play a lingerie model in the picture, which would have marked her screen debut. She could not be identified in the viewed print, however. Hollywood Reporter news items note that some of the film was shot on location on Santa Catalina Island, CA.
According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, a October 17, 1941 version of the script was deemed "unacceptable" by the PCA "because of the definite indication of a sex affair without compensating moral values." The PCA perceived that the affair took place between "Susie" and "John" on the night they meet at "Tod's" home and decide to marry. In a November 28, 1941 letter to Colonel Jason S. Joy, the studio's public relations director, PCA official Geoffrey Shurlock noted that, "we must insist that Kellogg's enumeration of the names '...Irene, Mabel, Betty' be changed and new names inserted, because of the fact that these names are associated with a type of contraceptive." [At the time, some brands of prophylactics were contained in tins bearing the face of a woman and a name such as those listed above.] In a memo to Joy and producer Milton Sperling, writer Ken Englund pointed out that his wife's name was Mabel and that it was "the jocular custom of this writer to insert his wife's first name in each script," although he was considering "having my wife's name legally changed to Sam." He also recommended that Sperling change his wife's name from Betty to Fred. The PCA raised objections to other sexually suggestive situations and dialogue as well as to scenes showing excessive drinking, but later approved a revised script. According to studio records, Twentieth Century-Fox was sued for plagiarism in 1950 by Dr. Andrea Dello Siesto, who claimed that the film was based on his play Le due leggi di Maud (The Two Laws of Maud). In its defense, the studio noted that although the picture was not based on Laurence Kirk's book, the similarities between the two stories proved that the ideas contained in Dello Siesto's play were not unique. The case was settled when the studio paid Dello Siesto $1,500.