Sis Hopkins


1h 38m 1941

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 12, 1941
Premiere Information
World premiere in Saint Louis, MO: 4 Apr 1941
Production Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Sis Hopkins by Carroll Fleming and Edward E. Kidder (Buffalo, NY, 11 Sep 1899).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,812ft (11 reels)

Synopsis

When millionaire Horace Hopkins retires from his plumbing business, his niece Sis, a naïve but good-hearted hillbilly, misinterprets his situation and believes that he has been left jobless and broke. She invites him to live on her farm, and Horace, exasperated with his social-climbing wife Clara and snobbish daughter Carol, decides to visit her. When Horace arrives at Sis's farm, however, a fire has destroyed all that she owns. Wishing to repay her kindness, and also shake up his family, Horace brings Sis with him to the big city, where her country dress and manners horrify Clara and Carol. Clara insists that Horace get Sis out of the house, and Horace accedes, although his intention to send Sis to college with Carol infuriates Carol. At the university, Carol's friends tease her about her hillbilly cousin, and Carol worries that her plan to ensnare socially prominent Jeff Farnsworth in a romance will be jeopardized. Sis has two allies, however, in drama professor Colonna and Jeff, who are both very impressed with her singing talent. Jeff, who directs the school's yearly musical revue, gives Sis a big role in the show, and Carol's part is cut. Completely enraged, Carol plots her revenge. With the aid of her snooty friends, Carol convinces Sis to join her sorority but adds that as part of the initiation rites, she must sing in a burlesque theater. While Sis is singing, Carol arranges for her dress to fall off. Carol has also called the police, who are about to arrest Sis for disrobing. While Sis is escaping with the help of Colonna, burlesque queen Vera de Vere eludes the police by climbing through a window into the hotel room of Horace and Clara, who have come to help Carol regain her part in the school play. Desperate to keep Clara from seeing Vera, Horace hides her in a closet until she can sneak off. Unfortunately for Horace, Vera leaves wearing Clara's mink coat, which Clara then assumes has been stolen. When Vera later gives the coat to Sis to return to Horace, Sis is accused of stealing the coat and is arrested. Rather than reveal her uncle's innocent involvement with Vera, Sis allows herself to be thought a thief and strip-tease dancer, for which she is expelled from college. The other students are appalled, as they did not know that Carol was going to call the police during Sis's "initiation." They appeal to the dean to reverse his decision, but he stands firm and Sis, unaware of the students' support, leaves the college. When Horace learns of her predicament, however, he apprises the dean of the true situation, and Professor Colonna dashes off to the train station to find Sis. She arrives back at the school in time to participate in the show's finale, and her enthusiastic performance convinces an influential theatrical producer to take the show to Broadway.

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 12, 1941
Premiere Information
World premiere in Saint Louis, MO: 4 Apr 1941
Production Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Sis Hopkins by Carroll Fleming and Edward E. Kidder (Buffalo, NY, 11 Sep 1899).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,812ft (11 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1942

Quotes

I know my bathrooms!
- Horace Hopkins
You're tellin' I!
- Sis Hopkins
Your syntax is irregular.
- Ripple
(examing herself) Where?
- Sis Hopkins
Why, it couldn't be purtier if it were a gas station.
- Sis Hopkins
But you mustn't tell a soul.
- Carol Hopkins
I'll be a real dummy.
- Sis Hopkins
You're tellin' I.
- Carol Hopkins
The Hays Office made me do it.
- Professor

Trivia

Notes

Dance director Aida Broadbent's name is misspelled "Ada" in the onscreen credits. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Sol C. Siegel was originally scheduled to produce this picture, and Paul Yawitz was to work on a treatment of the story. Yawitz' contribution to the finished picture has not been determined, however. Hollywood Reporter news items also reveal that Carole Landis and Jane Frazee were sought for leading roles, and that Emmett Lynn was scheduled to be in the cast. Susan Hayward was borrowed from Paramount for the film. Hollywood Reporter production charts and news items include Wela Davis, Betty Blythe and Michael Morris in the cast, but their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. The Hollywood Reporter charts also list Joseph August as film's photographer, although all other contemporary sources credit Jack Marta. According to the The Exhibitor review, the songs "Horray for the Little Guy" and "I Went and Fell for You" were included in the film, but no other contemporary source lists them.
       Information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals that the Hays Office was at first reluctant to approve the film's script due to the sequence in which "Sis" performs in the burlesque house and appears to be doing a strip-tease. After producer Robert North consulted with Hays Office officials, Republic agreed to make clear that "Sis" was an unwilling participant in the disrobing sequence, and that she would be left standing in her slip. After the film was completed, the Hays Office was seriously displeased about "several breast shots," and awarded a PCA certificate only because of "the utter impossibility of deleting these shots without re-assembling [the actors and crew] and re-editing much of the footage." Republic agreed to delete "one of the two sweater shots" from prints in circulation, as well as the line "started in Flushing and ran it into a chain." Several reviews applauded the inclusion of a "gag" in which Jerry Colonna, upon getting out of a bathtub, reveals that he is dressed in an old-fashioned bathing suit and states "The Hays Office insisted."
       According to contemporary sources, screen rights to the play cost $50,000 and the film cost between $200,000 and $350,000 to produce, with an advertising budget of $100,000, very large expenditures for Republic at that time. A May 2, 1941 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that the picture was "headed for Republic's first million dollar gross." The film's premiere in Saint Louis, Missouri, was a benefit for Greek War Relief. The character of Sis Hopkins, as portrayed by Rose Melville, first appeared in the theatrical play Zeb in the late 1800s. In 1894, Melville recreated the role in another play, Little Christopher, and eventually built a vaudeville sketch around Sis called "Sis Hopkin's Visit." The continued popularity of the character then prompted Melville to have a three-act theatrical play, Sis Hopkins, written for her. Melville played Sis in a Kalem short film in 1916 called She Came, She Saw, She Conquered, and acted as a consultant to Mabel Normand, the star of Goldwyn Pictures Corp.'s 1919 version of the play, also entitled Sis Hopkins, which was directed by Clarence G. Badger and co-starred John Bowers (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.4059).