Unfinished Business


1h 36m 1941

Brief Synopsis

Small town girl (Dunne) Meets and falls for a playboy type (Foster) on a train to New York. For him, the fling is over when they arrive, but she continues to carry a torch. She meets and marries his brother (Montgomery), a mismatch which eventually grows into real love.

Film Details

Release Date
Sep 12, 1941
Premiere Information
New York opening: 1 Sep 1941
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,599ft

Synopsis

After the wedding of her younger sister in their small hometown of Messina, Ohio, aspiring singer Nancy Andrews decides to seek adventure and romance in the big city. On a train to New York City, she meets wealthy Steve Duncan, who sees her as a mere traveling diversion. She, however, falls in love with him, only to learn later the playboy's true intentions. After failing at an audition for the Metropolitan Opera Company, Nancy is told that, while her voice is good, it is best suited to nightclub performing. She then gets a job as a phone operator who does singing telegrams. When she sings "Happy Birthday" to nightclub impresario Billy Ross, he immediately hires her to be his singing operator. At Ross's nightclub, Nancy is asked to sing "Happy Birthday" to Steve, who does not recognize her. Tommy Duncan, Steve's drunken younger lawyer brother, comes to the upset Nancy's rescue and takes her for a carriage ride in the park. After learning that Steve is engaged, Nancy begins seeing Tommy. On the day of his brother's wedding, Tommy proposes a marriage of convenience to Nancy, and the drunken pair elope to South Carolina. The next morning, Tommy awakens to learn of his marriage, and after a few weeks of living the high life, he discovers that he has fallen in love with his wife. Nancy, however, is still in love with Steve, and she rejects his desire for a more conventional marriage. Tommy convinces her to have a party for his family, during which Steve finally acknowledges his prior association with Nancy. Under the watchful eyes of Tommy's ex-girl friend Clarisse and Steve's wife Sheila, Nancy kisses Steve. Tommy is then told of Steve and Nancy's previous relationship and goes on an all-night drinking binge. Later, after joining the Army, Tommy returns home on a two-week leave, and is convinced by his aunt Mathilda to go to the opera. There, Tommy discovers Nancy, who has been separated from him for over a year, singing in the chorus. After the performance, the now-sober Tommy meets Nancy, who tells him that she is still in love with Steve in one way, but in love with him in another. At his law office, Tommy is arranging for a divorce when Steve arrives. When his brother refuses to listen to him, Steve goes to see Nancy, who suddenly realizes that she no longer has any interest in him. Tommy then arrives and challenges his brother to a fight for his wife's honor. After knocking Steve down, a baby begins to cry and Tommy learns that he has a son. The couple is finally reunited, and as Nancy leaves her apartment, she finds a pair of Steve's gloves on her trunk and throws them on the floor.

Film Details

Release Date
Sep 12, 1941
Premiere Information
New York opening: 1 Sep 1941
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,599ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

News items in Hollywood Reporter and Los Angeles Times state that this was the first film that noted producer/director Gregory LaCava made for Universal under a "special" one-picture contract. According to Hollywood Reporter, actress Irene Dunne worked under a similar one-picture commitment. Contemporary reviewers conjectured that the film was based on an original story by LaCava, and that speculation was confirmed by Screen Achievements Bulletin credits. New York Times commented in June 1942 that actor Robert Montgomery's July 15, 1941 commitment to active service in the U.S. Navy forced early production of this film. Hollywood Reporter reported on March 1941 that radio soprano Nadine Connor would sing excerpts from Friedrich von Flotow's Martha for this production; although a selection from that opera was performed in the film, her participation in the final film has not been confirmed. The Variety reviewer noted a similarity between the character of "Billy Ross" and the real-life impresario Billy Rose. Irene Dunne reprised her role in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on October 6, 1941, co-starring Don Ameche.