This Is the Life


1h 3m 1935

Film Details

Also Known As
Meal Ticket
Release Date
Oct 18, 1935
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 7 Oct 1935
Production Company
Fox Film Corp.; Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Fullerton, California, United States; Sherwood Forest, California, United States; Whittier, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 3m
Film Length
5,985ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

Geraldine Revier, a famous child performer, would like to live like other children, but she is forced to play five shows daily and spend her free time alone in hotel rooms by her demanding Aunt Diane and conniving and philandering Uncle Ed. In Chicago one night in between shows, Michael Grant, a man running from the police, appears on Gerry's fire escape and asks for water. After he explains that he has lived on the roof for two days without food or drink, Gerry invites him in, and he tells his story: His boss had him arrested after a sum of money disappeared; in order to prove his innocence, he escaped from the police and now plans to make money in California so that he can hire a lawyer and detectives. Gerry hides him in a closet while she goes onstage, and he overhears Diane and Ed discuss their scheme of overworking Gerry and getting money on the side from booking agents without telling her. Later, Gerry helps Michael escape, but that night, he awakens on a baggage car to discover Gerry hiding in a grandfather clock. Michael is unwilling to allow Gerry to run away with him until she suggests that she will dress as a boy; however, the next morning as she sleeps, Michael sneaks off the train. Gerry awakens just as he leaves and runs after him, hurting her leg. Michael then agrees to stick it out with her. They come upon Professor Lafcadio F. Breckenridge and his assistant Sticky Jones hawking various merchandise from their wagon. After an altercation with four tramps results in the wagon being burned, the four come upon a church outing, and Gerry, after getting a bloodied nose from a fight during a baseball game, exclaims that she never had so much fun. The next day, Michael sneaks into a barn to get some milk for Gerry, and he is caught by Helen Davis, who lives on the ranch with her mother. Holding Michael and Gerry at bay with a shotgun, Helen calls the police after realizing that Gerry is a girl and recognizing her from her picture in a newspaper. Michael then explains to Helen about overhearing the scheme of Gerry's uncle and aunt, and to save Gerry, gives himself up to the police as a wanted man. Helen's mother hires the professor and Sticky to help at the ranch, where they keep Gerry hidden. After two weeks, they receive a letter from Michael, who says that he has been convicted and is trying to raise money for a lawyer to reopen the investigation. To help, Gerry performs in a singing and dancing act backed by Mrs. Davis at a fair's midway, as Helen plays the piano, the professor hawks customers and Sticky sells tickets. Diane and Ed, looking for a replacement for Gerry, see the act and grab her. After Michael is released from the penitentiary because another man has confessed after efforts to help Michael were made by detectives hired with money that Gerry sent, Micheal goes to Denver and, impersonating a special investigator, interrogates Diane and Ed. With Helen posing as his secretary, the professor as a judge, Sticky as a bailiff and Mrs. Davis as a social worker, Michael coerces Diane and Ed into signing a confession. Gerry is extremely excited to learn that she is going back to the ranch and jumps on Michael's back saying "This is the life," as she kisses his neck.

Film Details

Also Known As
Meal Ticket
Release Date
Oct 18, 1935
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 7 Oct 1935
Production Company
Fox Film Corp.; Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Fullerton, California, United States; Sherwood Forest, California, United States; Whittier, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 3m
Film Length
5,985ft (8 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Meal Ticket. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Department, the story was originally submitted by Gene Towne and Graham Baker, who were on loan to Fox from Twentieth Century Pictures, to the studio early in 1934, after Colonel Jason Joy, a Fox official, said they were badly in need of a story for Shirley Temple. At the time, Temple was to co-star with Spencer Tracy and Helen Twelvetrees, and David Butler was to direct, according to an unidentified news item dated June 1934 in the M-G-M Story Department card files at the AFI Library. The subsequent film that was made with Temple, Bright Eyes, did not credit Towne and Baker, and as it bears no resemblance to this film, it May have been completely rewritten or the story for this film May have been significantly changed from Towne and Baker's story. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item in June 1935, Meal Ticket was to be a composite of three stories; "The World Owes Me a Living," an original by Lou Breslow and Sid Brod, was to be the basis for one of the episodes.
       Location work was done at Whittier, Sherwood Forest, and at a ranch near Fullerton, all of which are in California. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Withers, who was signed by Fox originally for $125 a week, was making $200 a week until This Is the Life was completed, after which her contract was to be readjusted to give her more per week reflecting her growing popularity. According to a Daily Variety news item, Withers came up with the final title for the film. Film Daily lists Ralf Harolde, Nick Lucas, Fritzi Brunette, and Jayne Hovig as additional cast members, but their participation has not been confirmed by any other source. According to the pressbook for the film, this marked Harry C. Bradley's 3,000th role as a clergyman. The pressbook also noted that "the largest number of juvenile actors and actresses ever to be used in a motion picture-260 in all-were employed" in the film, and that David Buttolph, who conducted orchestras on coast-to-coast radio shows, made his motion picture debut as musical director in this film. Fox produced a film with the same title in 1917, and there have been at least two other films with this title, a 1933 British film and a 1944 Universal film, but none are based on the same source as this film.