Specter of the Rose


1h 30m 1946

Brief Synopsis

Ballet dancer Sanine may have murdered his first wife. A detective thinks so, and he's not the only one. Sanine is charming, if a little peculiar. Haidi, a ballerina, marries him. The company takes its new production on tour. But Sanine's control seems to be slipping...

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 5, 1946
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 14 Jun 1946
Production Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "Specter of the Rose" by Ben Hecht in Liberty (22 Nov 1941).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Synopsis

Theatrical producer Max "Poli" Polikoff visits ballet instructor Madame La Sylph to discuss his desire to stage a new show starring Andre Sanine, a brilliant dancer who was once La Sylph's student. La Sylph is wary of Poli's plan, as Sanine has not danced since his wife Nina's death onstage seven months earlier. Police detective Specs McFarlan suspects that the mentally unstable Sanine murdered Nina, although over the months, La Sylph has tried to downplay Sanine's own proclamations that he killed his wife. The coroner had ruled that Nina died from a heart attack caused by years of heart disease, and the devoted nursing of young ballerina Haidi has helped to restore Sanine's health so that he is able to refute McFarlan's accusations. Sanine admits that he used to hallucinate upon hearing the music for Le Spectre de la Rose , the ballet that he and Nina were dancing the night of her death, but insists that he is now cured. Poet Lionel Gans, who is in love with Haidi, resents her attentions to Sanine and encourages the police to continue investigating him. Meanwhile, Sanine is enthusiastic about Poli's plan to stage a new production of Le Spectre de la Rose and begins rehearsals with Haidi. The dancers rapidly fall in love and are soon married, much to the dismay of both La Sylph and Gans. As the rehearsals continue, Sanine begins to show signs of stress, and La Sylph worries that he is again experiencing hallucinations, during which he imagines that the Rose character has taken him over and that he must kill his partner. One afternoon, La Sylph confides in Haidi that the night of Nina's death, she caught Sanine attacking Nina. La Sylph covered Nina's wounds with grease paint and washed away the blood, but Nina died from the after-effects of the attack while she was dancing. Haidi refuses to believe that Sanine could hurt her, however, and opening night soon arrives. Sanine attacks Haidi with a knife before the curtain rises, but she covers her minor wounds and the couple are a success in their debut. The show goes on tour and appears to be doing well until one evening, Poli and La Sylph become concerned when Sanine and Haidi do not arrive at the theater. Upon questioning Jibby the pianist, they learn that Haidi spirited Sanine away to a hotel when he appeared to have gone completely insane. At the hotel, Haidi spends three days and nights staying awake nursing her husband in the belief that if she can cure him herself, he will not be institutionalized or arrested. Exhausted, Haidi finally falls asleep, and the "Specter of the Rose" taunts Sanine into taking up his knife and beginning his frantic dance. Believing that Haidi is Nina, whom he hated, Sanine dances with his knife held at her throat, but memories of Haidi's words of love prompt him to lay down the weapon. Knowing that he will murder Haidi if he does not kill himself first, Sanine leaps out the window to his death. A month later, Haidi still mourns her lost love but dances her part of Le Spectre de la Rose in La Sylph's studio, as La Sylph instructs her new students.

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 5, 1946
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 14 Jun 1946
Production Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "Specter of the Rose" by Ben Hecht in Liberty (22 Nov 1941).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Quotes

Hug me with your eyes.
- Andre Sanine
I am.
- Haidi
Harder.
- Andre Sanine

Trivia

Notes

Ben Hecht's onscreen credit reads "Written, Directed and Produced by Ben Hecht," and Lee Garmes's onscreen credit is "Co-Producer-Director Lee Garmes, A.S.C., And Director of Photography." At the film's end, a written, onscreen epilogue states, "Here's to the Seven Arts that dance and sing and keep our troubled planet green with Spring." According to the Hollywood Citizen-News review, Hecht wrote his short story "in 1936 after being greatly impressed by the ballet of the same name." The one-act ballet that inspired Hecht's story and the film, Le Spectre de la Rose, was choreographed by Michel Fokine, with music by Carl Maria von Weber and book by Jean-Louis Vaudoyer. The ballet was based on a poem by Théophile Gautier, and was first performed by Vaslav Nijinsky and Tamara Karsavina, of Diaghilev's Ballets Russe, in Monte Carlo on April 19, 1911. The role, which was choreographed to display Nijinksy's renowned elevation, especially during the final leap from a window, became one of his most famous.
       According to a July 20, 1945 Hollywood Reporter news item, Hecht signed an "exclusive writer-producer contract" with Republic, which called for two pictures per year for three years, and would provide "for the assembling of a unit under Hecht's control." Although Hecht did not make any further pictures for Republic, many contemporary sources note that the production was entirely under his control, and that in exchange for that control and a percentage of the profits, Hecht did not draw any salary for his services. While some sources state that Hecht was to receive only a small percentage of the film's profits, an November 18, 1945 New York Times article reported that his contract called for him to receive 50% of the picture's ultimate profits. According to a September 1946 American Cinematographer article, "the salaries of several of the top technicians were to be paid on a percentage basis from the receipts of the film," which was budgeted at approximately $200,000. The article noted that in order to stick to the budget and three-week shooting schedule, Hecht and Garmes extensively planned and rehearsed every aspect of the production. According to American Cinematographer, the succesful execution of the directors' plans was aided by the fact that Hecht, "who is admittedly short on knowledge of camera technicalities," left all of the technical decisions to Garmes while he concentrated on the script and actors.
       The film marked the motion picture debuts of dancers Ivan Kirov and Viola Essen. According to a March 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item, music score composer George Antheil wrote an orchestral arrangement of his music for the picture, which was to be conducted by Leopold Stokowski at the Hollywood Bowl in the summer. Although a 1963 Daily Variety news item indicated that songwriter Leonard Adelson had purchased the rights to Hecht's story and intended to produce a stage musical based on the property, no additional information about his production has been found.