The Strawberry Blonde


1h 37m 1941
The Strawberry Blonde

Brief Synopsis

A man's infatuation with a gold-digging beauty continues after his marriage.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Romantic Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Feb 22, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play One Sunday Afternoon by James Hagan (New York, 15 Feb 1933).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,763ft (11 reels)

Synopsis

At the turn of the century, New York dentist Biff Grimes is reminiscing about the past when he receives a telephone call asking him to pull alderman Hugo Barnstead's aching tooth. Biff carries a grudge against Hugo, a man he has known from his youth: Their rivalry begins when both men fall in love with Virginia Brush, a strawberry blonde. Hugo arranges to meet Virginia "accidentally" in the park. In order that the meeting appear to be innocent, Virginia brings her friend, Amy Lind, a nurse who is outspokenly in favor of women's rights, and Hugo brings Biff. Hugo lures Biff into accompanying him by promising him that he can be Virginia's date, but when the foursome arrives in the country after a short carriage ride, Hugo pairs off with Virginia, leaving Biff to entertain Amy. To finish off Biff's disappointing evening, he is forced to pay for the carriage rental. The following week, Biff dates Virginia and spends all his money taking her to expensive places. When he tries to make another date with her, she turns him down, but Biff keeps trying and eventually Virginia agrees to meet him in the park. To Biff's surprise, Amy keeps the date in Virginia's place. When Biff learns from a passing friend that Virginia and Hugo eloped earlier that day, Amy does her best to console him. Eventually, Biff asks Amy if he can see her again, and over time, they fall in love and marry. One evening, Virginia invites Biff and Amy to dine with her and Hugo. Hugo spends the evening bragging about his wealth and then offers to bring Biff into his firm. Biff accepts his offer, but is frustrated when he learns that he is not expected to do much except sign his name to various papers. The reason for this becomes clear when the firm is accused of graft. Biff is held responsible for the crimes and Hugo, whose name does not appear on any papers, goes free. Things become even blacker when Biff's father, who is working on one of the firm's projects, is killed when a building collapses due to the use of inferior materials. Biff is held responsible and is sent to jail. By the time he is released, he has completed a correspondence school course in dentistry, and he and Amy move to a new neighborhood. Meanwhile, Hugo has gone on to a successful career in politics. Remembering these events, Biff vows vengeance on Hugo. When Hugo and Virginia arrive, they are surprised to discover that Biff is the dentist. Hugo and Virginia cannot stop quarreling and it is clear that they have a miserable marriage. Biff gets his revenge by pulling Hugo's tooth without gas, and realizes suddenly that he has a good life with Amy and is very glad that he did not marry Virginia, especially when Amy reveals that she is pregnant.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Romantic Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Feb 22, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play One Sunday Afternoon by James Hagan (New York, 15 Feb 1933).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,763ft (11 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Score

1941

Articles

The Strawberry Blonde


A charming tale of turn-of-the-century small town life in the tradition of Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), The Strawberry Blonde (1941) is actually set in New York City and the blonde in question is the glamorous neighborhood girl Virginia Brush (Rita Hayworth) who has all the local boys abuzz every time she passes the barber shop.

The Strawberry Blonde is told in flashback, as the unhappily married ex-con Biff Grimes (James Cagney) anticipates meeting an acquaintance from the old days, the conniving, underhanded crook Hugo Barnstead (Jack Carson) who landed him in jail and also -- he imagines -- stole Virginia away from him.

In his youth Biff dreamed of becoming a correspondence course dentist, and of marrying the local beauty and coveted "strawberry blonde" Virginia. One night, Hugo invites him along on a double date with the blonde and her humorless, suffragist-sympathizing girlfriend Amy Lind (Olivia de Havilland). A noticeable friction arises between old-fashioned Biff and the progressive Amy, whose free-thinking ways rankle Biff. In the meantime, Biff is still determined to somehow woo Virginia, telling Amy that her friend is his "ideal." He holds out false hope that they will become a couple after a day-long date in which he spends every last penny on the spoiled Virginia's every whim. While Biff waits for Virginia at their scheduled second date, he is informed that she has married Hugo that very same day. Biff and Amy also marry, and the couple struggle financially as Biff studies for his dentistry diploma.

Biff is burned yet again by Hugo when the latter hires him as a vice president in his contracting firm at Virginia's urging. But when there is a deadly disaster at one of Hugo's buildings, Biff becomes the fall guy, and is sent to jail for five years for allowing inferior materials to be used in the construction of a wall. In the film's final act Hugo and Biff meet again, this time over the dentist's chair, with Biff determined to extract his revenge.

Equal parts musical, comedy and drama, this remake of a Broadway play by James Hagan, One Sunday Afternoon, combines a number of elements successfully including a stellar cast, high production values, expert direction and a memorable musical score (which was nominated for an Academy Award for Heinz Roemheld). The period costumes by Orry-Kelly also greatly add to the overall charm of the production. Raoul Walsh remade the film yet again, as a musical in 1948 under its original title - One Sunday Afternoon - though the outcome was unimpressive and his 1941 version remains the definitive, more popular one.

Warner's Ann Sheridan, the "Oomph Girl", was initially meant to play the Virginia role, but balked at the script. As a replacement, Hayworth was loaned to Warners by Columbia and brought her typical enigmatic, frosty perfection to the role. Her fortuitous securing of the role in The Strawberry Blonde helped establish her sex queen status as the "Love Goddess." Though a confident mantrap on camera, Hayworth was just a shy, reserved girl off, causing Cagney to marvel at how, after her scenes, she would just "go back to her chair and sit there and not communicate."

Though Hayworth was a much commented upon "eyeful" in the title role, according to a Variety review of the time, a bevy of reviewers also singled out the dark-haired de Havilland for special acclaim, commenting upon her deft gift for comedy, so suitably matched to Cagney's in the film. Time noted the wonderful performances of both Cagney and Hayworth, but added that "dark-eyed Olivia de Havilland -- takes it away from both of them."

Director: Raoul Walsh
Producer: William Cagney
Screenplay: Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein based on the play One Sunday Afternoon by James Hagan
Cinematography: James Wong Howe
Production Design: Robert Haas
Music: Heinz Roemheld
Cast: James Cagney (Biff Grimes), Olivia de Havilland (Amy Lind), Rita Hayworth (Virginia Brush), Alan Hale (Old Man Grimes), George Tobias (Nick Pappalas), Jack Carson (Hugo Barnstead), Una O'Connor (Mrs. Mulcahey), George Reeves (Harold).
BW-99m. Closed captioning.

by Felicia Feaster
The Strawberry Blonde

The Strawberry Blonde

A charming tale of turn-of-the-century small town life in the tradition of Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), The Strawberry Blonde (1941) is actually set in New York City and the blonde in question is the glamorous neighborhood girl Virginia Brush (Rita Hayworth) who has all the local boys abuzz every time she passes the barber shop. The Strawberry Blonde is told in flashback, as the unhappily married ex-con Biff Grimes (James Cagney) anticipates meeting an acquaintance from the old days, the conniving, underhanded crook Hugo Barnstead (Jack Carson) who landed him in jail and also -- he imagines -- stole Virginia away from him. In his youth Biff dreamed of becoming a correspondence course dentist, and of marrying the local beauty and coveted "strawberry blonde" Virginia. One night, Hugo invites him along on a double date with the blonde and her humorless, suffragist-sympathizing girlfriend Amy Lind (Olivia de Havilland). A noticeable friction arises between old-fashioned Biff and the progressive Amy, whose free-thinking ways rankle Biff. In the meantime, Biff is still determined to somehow woo Virginia, telling Amy that her friend is his "ideal." He holds out false hope that they will become a couple after a day-long date in which he spends every last penny on the spoiled Virginia's every whim. While Biff waits for Virginia at their scheduled second date, he is informed that she has married Hugo that very same day. Biff and Amy also marry, and the couple struggle financially as Biff studies for his dentistry diploma. Biff is burned yet again by Hugo when the latter hires him as a vice president in his contracting firm at Virginia's urging. But when there is a deadly disaster at one of Hugo's buildings, Biff becomes the fall guy, and is sent to jail for five years for allowing inferior materials to be used in the construction of a wall. In the film's final act Hugo and Biff meet again, this time over the dentist's chair, with Biff determined to extract his revenge. Equal parts musical, comedy and drama, this remake of a Broadway play by James Hagan, One Sunday Afternoon, combines a number of elements successfully including a stellar cast, high production values, expert direction and a memorable musical score (which was nominated for an Academy Award for Heinz Roemheld). The period costumes by Orry-Kelly also greatly add to the overall charm of the production. Raoul Walsh remade the film yet again, as a musical in 1948 under its original title - One Sunday Afternoon - though the outcome was unimpressive and his 1941 version remains the definitive, more popular one. Warner's Ann Sheridan, the "Oomph Girl", was initially meant to play the Virginia role, but balked at the script. As a replacement, Hayworth was loaned to Warners by Columbia and brought her typical enigmatic, frosty perfection to the role. Her fortuitous securing of the role in The Strawberry Blonde helped establish her sex queen status as the "Love Goddess." Though a confident mantrap on camera, Hayworth was just a shy, reserved girl off, causing Cagney to marvel at how, after her scenes, she would just "go back to her chair and sit there and not communicate." Though Hayworth was a much commented upon "eyeful" in the title role, according to a Variety review of the time, a bevy of reviewers also singled out the dark-haired de Havilland for special acclaim, commenting upon her deft gift for comedy, so suitably matched to Cagney's in the film. Time noted the wonderful performances of both Cagney and Hayworth, but added that "dark-eyed Olivia de Havilland -- takes it away from both of them." Director: Raoul Walsh Producer: William Cagney Screenplay: Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein based on the play One Sunday Afternoon by James Hagan Cinematography: James Wong Howe Production Design: Robert Haas Music: Heinz Roemheld Cast: James Cagney (Biff Grimes), Olivia de Havilland (Amy Lind), Rita Hayworth (Virginia Brush), Alan Hale (Old Man Grimes), George Tobias (Nick Pappalas), Jack Carson (Hugo Barnstead), Una O'Connor (Mrs. Mulcahey), George Reeves (Harold). BW-99m. Closed captioning. by Felicia Feaster

Quotes

You're not a very easy person to get to know, Mr. Grimes.
- Amy Lind
Well, that's the kind of a hairpin I am.
- Biff Grimes
I uh, I guess a little kiss is harmless if it's all in fun.
- Biff Grimes
Even if it isn't in fun.
- Amy Lind
You mean---?
- Biff Grimes
Exactly.
- Amy Lind
Well, wouldn't you like a nice, young man to marry you someday?
- Biff Grimes
I'm gonna have a smoke.
- Biff Grimes
May I have one too, please?
- Amy Lind
Oh, sure. Hey! Don't tell me you smoke!
- Biff Grimes
Only when I'm bored.
- Amy Lind
Well, your mother's a bloomer girl, you're a nicotine fiend, are there any more at home like you?
- Biff Grimes
There's something about the country air.
- Amy Lind
Hm?
- Biff Grimes
I said, there's something about the country air.
- Amy Lind
I like city air.
- Biff Grimes
Well... there really isn't any difference between city air and country air. They're both hydrogen, and oxygen, and---
- Amy Lind
Air! You can't even see it, so why talk about it?
- Biff Grimes

Trivia

Notes

According to news items in Hollywood Reporter, Brian Donlevy was considered for a top role, and Ann Sheridan was to have played "Virginia Brush," the role played by Rita Hayworth, but was involved in a salary dispute with the studio when shooting began. "Virginia" was Hayworth's first leading role in a major production. On August 31, 1940, Los Angeles Times noted that Brenda Marshall was tested for the role of "Amy." In addition to the songs listed above, several old songs are included in the score. A January 4, 1940 Hollywood Reporter news item reports that Warner Bros. had purchased the screen rights to the play from Paramount, whose 1938 film One Sunday Afternoon starred Gary Cooper and Fay Wray and was directed by Stephen Roberts (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.3274). For this version, the studio changed the small town setting of the play and the 1933 Paramount film to New York City. Heinz Roemheld received an Academy Award nomination in the Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture) category.
       Other filmed adaptations of James Hagan's play include a musical version, also directed by Raoul Walsh, for Warner Bros. in 1948 entitled One Sunday Afternoon. Three television productions have been made: The 1949 Ford Television Theatre broadcast over CBS entitled One Sunday Afternoon, directed by Marc Daniels and starring Burgess Meredith, Francesca Bruning, Hume Cronyn and Augusta Roeland; the 1957 Lux Video Theatre production of the same title, directed by David McDearmon and starring Gordon McacRae, Peter Lind Hayes, Mary Healy and Sheila Stevens; and a 1959 David Susskind-Talent Associates production of the same name broadcast on NBC, directed by William Corrigan and starring David Wayne, Janet Blair, Eddie Bracken and Dolores Dorn-Heft.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1941

Remake of "One Sunday Afternoon" (1933). Remade as a musical, "One Sunday Afternoon" (1945) directed by Raoul Walsh. William Keighley directed some scenes when Walsh was ill.

Remade as "Strawberry Blonde" (1941) directed by Raoul Walsh.

Released in United States 1941