Woman Chases Man
Cast & Crew
Overly-sensible millionaire Kenneth Nolan is returning home from a European vacation with his girl friend, Nina Tennyson, and her "uncle," Henri Saffron, when he receives a telephone call from his crackpot inventor father B. J. B. J. begs Kenneth for money to complete his latest work, a low-income housing project called Nolan Heights, but Kenneth believes that it is another silly scheme and refuses. While B. J. hides in his office from process servers, architect Virginia Travis barges in and asks B. J. for a job on Nolan Heights. During her spiel, Virginia faints, after which B. J. learns that she has not eaten in two days. He then takes her home and explains that he does not have enough money to finish the project. Virginia believes she can convince Kenneth to help, and so she and B. J. make a plan. She calls her former co-workers, movie ushers Judy and Hunk Williams, and asks them to pose as servants because the former ones left after B. J. spent their wages. When Kenneth, Nina and Henri arrive, Virginia pretends to be B. J.'s old business acquaintance, and states that he is in Chicago. Kenneth is suspicious at first but is pacified by a letter of introduction from B. J. Nina and Henri are worried that Virginia's presence will disrupt their plans, for they are actually lovers who intend to bilk Kenneth out of his fortune after he marries Nina. At dinner that night, Virginia and the scheming pair are intrigued when Kenneth reveals that he cannot drink because drinking makes him feel compelled to buy everything he sees. Virginia tries to discuss the housing project with Kenneth, but he shows her some of the gadgets on which his father has wasted his money, and confesses that he is afraid of becoming a screwball like B. J. Virginia then finds B. J. in the kitchen, and the two determine to release Kenneth from his straightjacket of sensibility. The next day, as Virginia is getting Kenneth to unknowingly sign a $100,00 check to B. J., he confides that he desires to do something useful with his life. Virginia promises to help him, then goes with B. J. to cash the check. They are foiled at the bank, however, when they are told that any check over $1,000 must be personally approved by Kenneth. They return to the house and are informed by Hunk that Nina and Henri are plotting to get Kenneth drunk that night so that he will propose. B. J. realizes that they must "fight firewater with firewater," and that night, Virginia induces Kenneth to drink champagne with her. While they are drinking, the couple discovers they have much in common, but their conversation is cut short when Virginia passes out. She is put to bed by B.J., and Kenneth is plied with brandy by Nina and Henri. B. J. wakes Virginia, and she hides in the tree outside Kenneth's bedroom while Nina tucks him in. Virginia gets stuck and calls to Kenneth, after which he joins her in the tree. They cuddle and talk happily, and Kenneth agrees to sign the contract. Nina and Henri attempt to stop him, and by doing so, they reveal their true natures. Virginia then insists that Kenneth not sign the contract while drunk and pours a bucket of water on him to sober him up. Even though he is now fully sober, Kenneth remembers what they had said in the tree and hugs Virginia to cement the deal and their relationship.
Mary Frances Gifford
Al K. Hall
Woman Chases Man
From the very beginning, Sam Goldwyn had a battle on his hands. It seemed that no one wanted anything to do with the picture. The problems started with Ben Hecht, the highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood at the time, who had written a screenplay draft in 1934 that Goldwyn hated. He then dismissed Hecht and hired the Spewacks, the husband and wife screenwriting team. As TIME Magazine, in its May 1937 review of Woman Chases Man, related, things went from bad to worse. "Screenwriters Samuel & Bella Spewack (Boy Meets Girl, 1938) wrote a script and, after reading it, begged Producer Goldwyn to take their names off it, [and] returned the money he had paid them." Director William Wyler, who had been given a vacation with all expenses paid, returned to Goldwyn $25,000 advanced to him in salary and expense money to be let off directing it. Miriam Hopkins offered to pay anything in reason not to star in it, at length agreed to give in and work if Goldwyn got Gregory La Cava [who had just made My Man Godfrey (1936) and knew a thing or two about screwball comedies] to direct. Goldwyn got La Cava, but after reading the script La Cava left the lot. Andrea Leeds, a bit player, announced that she would rather starve than play the minor role for which she had been cast. Soon thereafter a large part of the Goldwyn organization filed into the boss's office, begged through a spokesman that he drop the picture. Goldwyn ignored them, had a new script written by Joseph Anthony, Manuel Seff and David Hertz [also uncredited on the script was Dorothy Parker and her husband Alan Campbell], hired John Blystone to direct, changed the title from Princess and Pauper to The Woman's Touch and finally to the present one. Commenting on these facts, Hollywood Reporter, a cinema trade daily, said: "Sam Goldwyn never has an easy time with any of his endeavors because he goes at them the hard way."
The plot of Woman Chases Man was fairly straight-forward, if a screwball comedy can be said to be straight-forward: a female architect (Hopkins) needs to raise enough money to build a housing complex. She goes after millionaire Joel McCrea who is frugal when sober and a spendthrift when drunk (which apparently happens if he has even a drop of alcohol).
TIME went on to wonder, after having viewed the film, what the fuss was all about. "What, after viewing the results of these endeavors, astounded those who knew the picture's history was not Mr. Goldwyn's superior foresight but the fact that anybody should be moved either to violent objection to the material in hand or to stubborn faith in it. Woman Chases Man is a haywire story made in the mold of the current vogue for haywire stories. After wavering on the fringes of light comedy for a little while, it sheds its inhibitions and goes whole hog into farce."
Variety was less kind in its review, describing the reaction of the preview audience, which would presage the general audience at the film's release: "The Radio City Music hall first night audience laughed with approval of this picture for the first three-quarters of its running, and then the giggles stopped. Laughs ceased when the action on the screen became so insanely illogical, and dull, that the amazed disappointment of the house expressed itself in chilly silence. It sums up as just a fair feature."
Producer: Samuel Goldwyn, George Haight
Director: John Blystone
Screenplay: Lynn Root, Frank Fenton, Joseph Anthony, Manuel Seff, David Hertz
Cinematography: Gregg Toland
Film Editing: Daniel Mandell
Art Direction: Richard Day
Music: Alfred Newman
Cast: Miriam Hopkins (Virginia Travis), Joel McCrea (Kenneth Nolan), Charles Winninger (B.J. Nolan), Erik Rhodes (Henri Saffron), Ella Logan (Judy), Leona Maricle (Nina Tennyson).
by Lorraine LoBianco
TIME Magazine May 31, 1937
Variety film review from 1937
The Internet Movie Database.
Woman Chases Man
The working title of this film was The Woman's Touch. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, John Payne was considered for the role of "Kenneth Nolan," and Evelyn Terry was to be included in the cast. Terry's participation in the completed film, however, has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety news items reported that Harry Sauber and Lewis R. Foster worked on the screenplay, but their contribution to the completed picture has also not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter news items also noted that William Wyler was originally scheduled to direct the film. Wyler was replaced by Leigh Jason, whom producer Samuel Goldwyn borrowed from RKO. Jason was in turn replaced by John Blystone after being re-assigned to direct The Goldwyn Follies, which finally was directed by George Marshall. Actor Charles Winninger was borrowed from Universal for this production, in which Broderick Crawford, the son of character actress Helen Broderick, made his screen acting debut.
According to articles in Life and the New York Times, Goldwyn had great difficulty with the film's pre-production. After purchasing Lynn Root and Frank Fenton's original story entitled "The Princess and the Pauper," Goldwyn hired Sam and Bella Spewack to write a screenplay based on it. The Spewacks produced a script but "refused to have their names connected with it." Goldwyn then hired Eric Hatch to work on the script, but Hatch refused to comply after reading it. A December 14, 1936 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Dorothy Parker and Alan Cambell were signed to work on the script, and the New York Times review credits them and Variety writer Joe Bigelow with the finished screenplay. As with the other writers mentioned above, however, the extent of their contribution to the completed film has not been determined. After several additional studio writers were brought on to the project, a workable script was finalized. Goldwyn summoned Wyler, who read the script and offered to return the $25,000 bonus Goldwyn had given him for Dodsworth and Come and Get It if he did not have to direct The Woman's Touch. Goldwyn accepted the offer, and then began experiencing difficulties with the actresses. Miriam Hopkins read the script and asked to be relieved of the assignment, but, after much pressure from Goldwyn, agreed to do the picture if Gregory LaCava would direct. LaCava refused, however, after reading the script. While Hopkins finally agreed to participate, regardless of the director, actress Andrea Leeds, a Goldwyn contract player, refused the role of "Nina Tennyson." Goldwyn then borrowed Leona Maricle from Columbia for the part. The New York Times article concluded that Goldwyn had "won" his battle over the film, for audiences laughed so much during two previews that the picture had to be re-edited to allow more time between jokes. Modern sources add Edward Chodorov and Ben Hecht to the list of writers involved with the project, and indicate that Goldwyn originally signed Edward Ludwig as the director. This was the last of five Goldwyn films co-starring Hopkins and Joel McCrea, and it was also the last picture Hopkins made for Goldwyn.