Cast & Crew
Novelist Tony Barrett and his wife Dora have huge bills to pay because of their fast New York lifestyle, so he is eager to get an advance on his newest novel. When his publisher tells him that success has gone to his head and the novel is unpublishable, however, Tony has no choice but to move to his family's run-down farm in Connecticut. Shortly after he and Dora arrive, Polish farmer Mr. Novak and his attractive daughter Manya visit and offer Tony $5,000 for a field bordering the Novak farm. Dora is delighted with the money and wants them both to go back to New York, but Tony decides to stay and write another novel, using the Novaks and their neighbors as models. After some weeks, Tony, who has been drinking heavily, tells Manya that she is not in love with Fredrik, the young man whom her father has chosen as her husband, and makes suggestive remarks that anger her. The next day he goes to apologize and the two begin a close friendship. After Tony's servant Taka quits to return to New York, Manya begins spending more time at Tony's farm and the two fall in love, like "Stephen" and "Sonya," the characters in his story. When Fredrik learns from a neighbor that Manya has been seen "laughing" in Tony's parlor, he and her father forbid her to see him again. She secretly continues to see Tony, however, and when a blizzard prevents her from returning home one night, her father angrily confronts Tony at his farm the next morning. As Manya and Novak return home, he demands that she marry Fredrik the following Monday. She protests that she will not spend her life being an unpaid servant like her mother, but Novak slaps her. The same day, Tony is surprised by the return of Dora, who has missed him terribly during their separation. She hears stories about the previous night, but hopes that they mean nothing until she reads his manuscript. On the night before her wedding, Manya goes to see Tony, but finds Dora instead. The two speak of the book and how it will end, but both realize that they are really speaking about their own lives. After Dora gently tells Manya that she is sure that "Daphne," the wife in Tony's novel, would not give up "Stephen," but would feel very sorry for "Sonya," Manya tells her about the wedding, then leaves. Later, when Tony returns home, he and Dora talk and he asks for a divorce, but she refuses and tells him that the end of his story should have "Sonya" marry her Polish fiancé. When Tony learns the next evening that Manya and Fredrik are being married, he goes to the wedding party and dances with her, then leaves. Later, when a very drunk Fredrik is angered by Manya's lack of responsiveness, he storms out of their bedroom and goes to Tony's house. Manya follows, and as she tries to stop Fredrik from fighting with Tony on the stairs, she falls. Tony carries her to the parlor, where he tells her he loves her. After Manya dies and her grieving family leaves, Dora goes to Tony to tell him that he can now see Manya privately. As he looks out the window, he tells Dora about how full of life Manya was and imagines that she is waving to him. When he turns around, he sees that Dora has gone.
Robert Louis Stevenson Ii
The Wedding Night
Credit for that goes to the sensitive direction of King Vidor, and the striking performances of Gary Cooper (as a character allegedly based on F. Scott Fitzgerald) and Russian actress Anna Sten. Vidor, who had a distinguished career in silents with such films as The Big Parade (1925) and The Crowd (1928), had never worked with Cooper before, but knew him as an arresting screen presence who had risen to stardom in silent films. When shooting began on The Wedding Night, Vidor was disappointed and concerned that Cooper seemed to be mumbling and stumbling through the scenes. In his autobiography, Vidor recalls his surprise when he watched that first day's footage. What he saw was "a performance that overflowed with charm and personality....a highly complex and fascinating inner personality revealed itself on the projection room screen." Cooper proved to be one of those performers whose magic is only fully captured by camera and microphone.
Anna Sten, although a good actress, was a different story. What the camera seemed to capture in her was a lack of ease, both with the English language, and with the expectations of the public and her studio. Almost completely forgotten today, Sten became known as "Goldwyn's Folly" in the 1930s, because of the failed attempt by movie mogul Sam Goldwyn to make her into the next Garbo or Dietrich. Born in Kiev and trained at Stanislavsky's Moscow Art Theater, Sten had appeared in Russian and German films. Goldwyn brought her to Hollywood in 1932, and had her spend two years learning English and taking acting classes, before showcasing Sten in her first American film, Nana (1934). In spite of an aggressive publicity campaign promoting her as "The Passionate Peasant," moviegoers were not impressed, and the film flopped. So did her next one, We Live Again (1934), based on the Tolstoy novel, Resurrection. The Wedding Night was Sten's third American film, and by that time, Goldwyn's relentless publicity push was shopworn, and his temper was fraying.
Vidor felt the problem was that the less-than-fluent Sten had too much dialogue. He noted that the "exotic" mystique of stars like Garbo and Dietrich stayed intact when they merely had to say "yes" and "no," and everyone else in the film spoke most of the dialogue. Goldwyn showed up on the set one day when Sten had to recite a Robert Browning poem that began, "Earth's returns/ For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin!" With Sten's thick Russian accent, it kept coming out "Earse returz." Exasperated, Goldwyn launched into a tirade (in his own fractured English) about how much depended on the success of the film, ending with "if this isn't the greatest love scene ever put on film, the whole goddamned picture will go right up out of the sewer!" The frustrated Cooper took to calling Sten "Anna Stench" behind her back.
In spite of the problems, Sten and Cooper showed some real chemistry onscreen, and The Wedding Night earned very good reviews, Sten's best to date. But the public still wasn't buying. After the failure of that film, Goldwyn gave up, and Sten agreed to cancel their contract. The Wedding Night became known in Hollywood as "Goldwyn's Last Sten." The actress made a few more films in England and the U.S., but by the end of the 1930s her career was essentially over, although she appeared occasionally in films produced by her husband, Eugene Frenke, including a cameo in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957). Anna Sten died in 1993.
Director: King Vidor
Producer: Samuel Goldwyn
Screenplay: Edith Fitzgerald, based on a story by Edwin H. Knopf
Cinematography: Gregg Toland
Editor: Stuart Heisler
Costume Design: Omar Kiam
Art Direction: Richard Day
Music: Alfred Newman
Principal Cast: Gary Cooper (Tony Barrett), Anna Sten (Manya Nowak), Ralph Bellamy (Fredrik Sobieski), Helen Vinson (Dora Barrett), Sig Ruman (Jan Nowak), Esther Dale (Kaise Nowak).
by Margarita Landazuri
The Wedding Night
Motion Picture Herald lists a preview running time of 90 min. According to a pre-production chart in Hollywood Filmograph, the film was originally entitled Broken Soil. Another Hollywood Filmograph chart credits Edwin Knopf and "Richmond" as the writers, however, Richmond's name does not appear elsewhere and neither that person's full name or participation in the released film has been confirmed. An Hollywood Reporter news item in July 1936 noted that Samuel Goldwyn had just won the Mussolini Cup for The Wedding Day, which was presented to him by Los Angeles' Italian consul, Ernesto Arrighi.