Cast & Crew
Young sailors Eddie Collins and Herb Gordon eagerly begin their shore leave in New York City, where they are greeted at the dock by Eddie's wife Kate. Kate, who is pregnant for the first time, is fearful about her condition, as her mother had problems in childbirth, and she tearfully tells Eddie that her regular doctor has joined the Army. Kate wants to be seen by noted doctor Edward Preston, but when Eddie goes to Preston's office, he is told by the secretary that Preston, who commands fees of up to one thousand dollars, is too busy to see new patients. Hoping that if he can obtain the fee, Preston will see Kate, Eddie tells his worried wife that Preston has already agreed to deliver their baby. Eddie, Kate and Herb then attend an airing of Phil Baker's famous Take It or Leave It radio show, in which contestants answer questions in an attempt to win sixty-four dollars. Eddie is chosen as a contestant, and after two other players drop out, gets his turn. He chooses "scenes from motion picture hits of the past" as his category and as the film clips are projected, correctly answers the first question about Shirley Temple. Baker quickly takes to the nervous young sailor, who reveals that he has a pregnant wife. As Eddie continues to answer questions about such films as Tin Pan Alley , Orchestra Wives and One in a Million , Baker gives him broad hints to help him and allows him to go above the usual limit on winnings. When Baker asks Eddie about his wife's doctor, Preston, who is listening with his wife, is stunned to hear his name, as his secretary did not inform him of Eddie's visit. Mrs. Preston chastises her husband for charging a serviceman so much money, but Preston insists that the radio program is fixed and that the Collinses are not real people. Eddie, who is about to answer a question for $384, is forced to stop when Kate goes into labor. Before leaving for the hospital, Eddie confesses to Baker that Preston is not really Kate's doctor, but that he lied to keep her from being frightened. Mrs. Preston asks her husband to attend Kate, but he instead leaves for a previously planned vacation. Mrs. Preston then calls Baker's show and states that she does not know where her husband is. Baker urges Preston to help the young couple, and Preston, who is listening to the show in a taxi, tells the driver to take him to the hospital. Preston arrives after the uncomplicated birth of Kate and Eddie's healthy son, but promises Eddie that he will look in on Kate. Baker announces to his audience that Eddie and Kate's son is doing well, then goes to the hospital to visit them. There, he learns that the infant has been named "Phil Baker Collins" in his honor. Herb then arrives and tells them that he and his girl friend, touched by Kate and Eddie's story, have decided to get married, and Baker laughingly tells him to have his babies on the radio show too.
B. S. Pully
Jesse T. Bastian
B. G. De Sylva
R. A. Klune
Joseph La Shelle
Harry M. Leonard
Sidney D. Mitchell
C. Francis Reisner
Walter M. Scott
Harry B. Smith
The Wiere Brothers
The working title of this film was Movietone Follies. The film is based the popular radio series Take It or Leave It (1940-1949), in which host Phil Baker would ask contestants questions. If they answered their questions correctly, the guests would double the amount of their money with each answer, until they reached the famous "$64 question." The radio show was redone as a television game show entitled The $64,000 Question (1955-1958), and was so popular that the phrase "the $64 (and later $64,000) question" became a part of the American vernacular. According to the Los Angeles Times review, the film "was suggested by an actual incident-the doubling of the '$64 question' in behalf of a sailor whose wife was about to have a baby." Although pre-release news items speculated that the film would change the radio show's routine so that Baker's famous phrase would become the "$640 question," it is still referred to as the "$64 question" in the film, and "Eddie Collins" is allowed to win more than $64 only through intervention on Baker's part. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, the studio's contract with the radio program's producers specifically prohibited the film from using any amount other than $64 for the final question. After "Eddie" receives $64, his winnings are then in multiples of that number.
Although the legal records indicate that Robert Tallman worked on an early version of the film's screenplay, and that Gordon Fields wrote "gags" for the film, the extent of their contribution to the completed picture has not been determined. In January 1944, New York Times reported that Lew Seiler was scheduled to direct the picture, and that producer Bryan Foy hoped to have William Eythe and Mary Anderson play the leading roles. An April 1944 Los Angeles Times article noted that Baker had hoped to have Jack Benny in the cast for "one gag," but changed his mind after "Benny's agent balked, saying that exhibitors would probably put Benny's name on the marquee along with Baker's."
The film features performers and clips from the following pictures: Shirley Temple and James Dunn in Stand Up and Take a Bow; Jack Oakie, John Payne, Alice Faye, Betty Grable and Billy Gilbert in Tin Pan Alley; Alice Faye in Lillian Russell; Glenn Miller and his orchestra, George Montgomery and Cesar Romero in Orchestra Wives; the Wiere Brothers, the Ink Spots and the Nicholas Brothers in The Great American Broadcast; Sonja Henie and Borrah Minevitch and His Rascals in One in a Million; Al Jolson in Rose of Washington Square; Buster Keaton and Alice Faye in Hollywood Cavalcade; the Ritz Brothers in On the Avenue; and Thomas "Fats" Waller and Dixie Dunbar in King of Burlesque. According to the legal records, among the clips that the studio considered using were a sequence featuring W. C. Fields that was cut from Tales of Manhattan (see below) and the "Toscanini, Stokowski and Me" routine featuring Jimmy Durante, which was cut from the 1938 Twentieth Century-Fox production Little Miss Broadway (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.2522). Durante did perform a different version of the song, entitled "Toscanini, Iturbi and Me," in the 1945 M-G-M production Music for Millions.
According to a August 19, 1944 Motion Picture Herald article, Al Jolson intended to file suit against Twentieth Century-Fox for including footage of him from Rose of Washington Square without his permission. Although the legal files contain releases from many of the performers featured in the film, there is not one signed by Jolson. In the article, Jolson noted that he had done the 1939 production on a one-picture deal and therefore did not have a contract with the studio that would have allowed the subsequent re-use of his performance. He also announced that any monies he garnered from the legal action would be donated to charity. The article stated that the suit would be watched closely by the Screen Actors Guild, which feared "a possible establishment of a precedent which could prove detrimental to stars if duplicated." It has not been determined if Jolson did file suit against the studio, or what the outcome of the suit was.
Take It or Leave It is a partial remake of the 1931 Fox production Bad Girl, which was directed by Frank Borzage and starred James Dunn and Sally Eilers. The earlier picture, which is about a young man trying to obtain the services of an expensive obstetrician for his wife, who is overwhelmed by fears about her pregnancy, was based on the novel Bad Girl by Viña Delmar, and the play of the same name by Delmar and Brian Marlowe. Fox remade the story in 1940 as Manhattan Heartbeat, which was directed by David Burton and starred Robert Sterling and Virginia Gilmore (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.0217 and F3.2732). According to the legal records, Delmar was apprised of the 1944 remake by the studio, but declined to receive onscreen credit for it.