Count Your Blessings


1h 42m 1959
Count Your Blessings

Brief Synopsis

After a wartime separation, an Englishwoman discovers her French husband is a womanizer.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Blessing
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Apr 1959
Premiere Information
New York opening: 23 Apr 1959
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Elstree, England, Great Britain; London, England, Great Britain; Paris,France
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Blessing by Nancy Mitford (London, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
9,164ft (13 reels)

Synopsis

In World War II London, Grace Allingham returns home from work at the Red Cross to find French Air Force captain Charles-Edouard de Valhubert awaiting her. Although Charles has come to deliver a message from Grace's beau, officer Hugh Palgrave, upon seeing Grace he is immediately captivated. Against her better judgment, Grace agrees to dine with Charles that evening and is startled when, after dining, he proposes. Claiming they do not know one another, Grace refuses, but when Charles asks to spend time with her, Grace shows him London over the next several days. Won over by Charles's persistent French charm, Grace tells her father, Sir Conrad, she intends to accept Charles' proposal. Three days into their countryside honeymoon, however, Charles reveals that he has been called back to duty and Grace vows to embroider a rug for him while he is gone. Several months later, Grace learns that Charles has been shot down, captured and imprisoned, but Sir Conrad receives assurances that he is uninjured. Soon afterward, Grace has a son whom she names Sigismond. When Sigi is nearly a year old, Grace receives a visit from Charles's uncle, the Duc de St. Cloud, who brings news that Charles has escaped from prison and rejoined his outfit. Relieved, Grace continues work on her embroidered rug. When the war ends, however, Charles does not return home, preferring to continue fighting with French forces in various parts of the world. As the years pass and Charles travels from war to war, Grace grows increasingly disappointed and lonely, despite Hugh's constant visits. When Sigi is eight years old, Charles returns to London where Grace greets him coolly. After ascertaining that Grace has remained faithful to him over the years, Charles is startled to find that his son has become a very proper English boy. Later that evening, Charles is dismayed to find that, because of Sigi's nightmares about the war, Grace allows him to sleep with her. Forced to spend the night in the guest room, Charles declares that before moving the family to Paris, he and Grace will take a much-belated honeymoon, alone in Biarritz. At Grace's insistence, Sigi later joins his parents but, sensitive to the fact that Charles is bothered by his presence, remains anxious and, soon, comes down with the measles. When Grace spends all her time tending him, Charles grows annoyed, then frustrated when he, too, gets the measles. When they arrive in Paris, Grace and Sigi are startled to discover that the Valhuberts are an old, extremely wealthy family. Grace is also disconcerted when Charles receives a number of belated wedding presents, all from women. Charles blithely admits that he knew many women in his worldly travels, but reassures Grace by stating that she is the woman he decided to marry. That evening in their antique-filled bedroom, Charles is horrified to find Grace's homemade rug. Hurt by his reaction, Grace accuses her husband of being spoiled and selfish, which offends Charles. When Nanny interrupts to report that the kitchen staff have given Sigi wine with his dinner, Charles storms out of the house. In exasperation he goes to the apartment of his longtime mistress, Albertine and sulks over Grace's unreasonable and very British expectations. A few days later, a placated Grace attends the ballet with Charles, but is disturbed when Charles acknowledges Albertine in the audience. Unsettled, Grace asks Charles the next morning about Albertine and when he admits he continues to see her occasionally, Grace is outraged. Put off by Grace's response, Charles insists he is merely helping Albertine through a difficult financial time. After Sigi finds Grace crying and Charles departing in anger again, Sigi tells the Duc that he prefers being English to French. The Duc attempts to calm Grace, suggesting that the English take romance too seriously, but Grace sadly states she believes that women are a hobby for Charles. The Duc assures Grace that since she has provided Charles with Sigi, the other women will never seriously matter. Despite Grace's misgivings, the Duc advises her not to try to change Charles, but rather to learn to think like a French woman. The Duc then takes Grace to one of the family's fourteenth century homes, which has been turned into a museum. There, Grace spots Charles and confronts him in a room with another woman. Back at home, Grace rails against Charles, despite his insistence that the woman was his secretary. Certain that he is lying, Grace returns home to London with Sigi and tells Sir Conrad that she wants an immediate divorce. Meanwhile, Sigi learns from a friend that divorce means the children must go back and forth between parents. Feeling that he has contributed to his parents' separation, Sigi decides to disrupt Charles and Grace's attempts to contact one another, which allows the divorce proceedings to continue. When Sigi returns to Paris, Charles guiltily lavishes money and attention on him, hoping to win his son's affections, despite his very British character. Sigi is delighted when he returns to London and receives equal amounts of attention from Grace, who has started dating Hugh. In Paris, the Duc advises Charles that ultimately Sigi is being harmed by going back and forth between his parents and he should consider his son's welfare. When Sigi returns to France, Charles tells him that he has decided that Sigi will remain with Grace permanently. Distressed, Sigi runs away and Charles calls Grace. When she arrives later that afternoon, Sigi has still not been found. While arguing, Charles and Grace realize that Sigi has interfered with their attempts to reach one another and they realize that Sigi has maneuvered to keep them apart so he might enjoy their attentions. The police then contact the Valhuberts to tell them Sigi has been located in a local square. Going to the square, Charles and Grace are startled, then amused to find their son pontificating atop a statue about the injustice of his situation. Realizing they both want to remain together as a very French family, Grace and Charles make up.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Blessing
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Apr 1959
Premiere Information
New York opening: 23 Apr 1959
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Elstree, England, Great Britain; London, England, Great Britain; Paris,France
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Blessing by Nancy Mitford (London, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
9,164ft (13 reels)

Articles

Count Your Blessings


Deborah Kerr learns lessons of amore -- with some help from Maurice Chevalier - in the 1959 comedy Count Your Blessings. Grace (Kerr), a proper English woman, is swept up in a whirlwind wartime romance with dashing French pilot Charles Edouard (inexplicably played by Italian heartthrob Rossano Brazzi). A three-day courtship results in marriage and a son, Sigi, but the couple rarely sees each other as Charles wanders the world, fighting wars for France. Nine years later, Charles returns to Grace and moves the family to Paris, but as the movie tagline went, "Marry in haste...resent at leisure." Grace discovers her husband's past - and present - with the ladies, including his current mistress Albertine (Patricia Medina). Kerr is counseled by Chevalier's worldly Duc de St. Cloud, who explains that this is the tradition of the French man.

As the marriage breaks up, their son (Martin Stephens) relishes in the new-found attention showered upon him by each parent. But when he learns that his father will give up custody of him, Sigi runs away. United in their search for Sigi, Grace and Charles rediscover their love for each other.

Based on the Nancy Mitford novel The Blessing, the film reworked the title to avoid further associations of Kerr's image with nuns. The actress had played a nun in Michael Powell's Black Narcissus in 1947 and in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957).

For Kerr, Count Your Blessings came at a peak period in her career. She had earned Academy Award nominations for From Here to Eternity (1953), The King and I (1956) and Separate Tables (1958), but never won. (She would later receive an honorary Oscar® in 1994.) Count Your Blessings was sandwiched between two other Kerr movies in 1959: The Journey with Yul Brynner and Beloved Infidel, co-starring Gregory Peck.

Although her film career was highly successful, Kerr's personal life was more troubled. After a year separation, she divorced her first husband in 1959 and met her second, Peter Viertel, a well-known novelist and screenwriter (Saboteur (1942), The Sun Also Rises, 1957).

Kerr's co-stars on Count Your Blessings were also enjoying career success. Rossano Brazzi was hot off the hit musical South Pacific (1958). He appeared again in 1958 in A Certain Smile, and before that, Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), both with Count Your Blessings director Jean Negulesco (Johnny Belinda (1948), Titanic, 1953). Maurice Chevalier, after his first bout of popularity in the 1930s, saw a resurgence in his career playing the wise adviser to the lovelorn in such films as Love in the Afternoon (1957), Gigi a year later, and again in Count Your Blessings. "Maurice Chevalier at seventy exudes more charm than Brazzi," the New York Herald Tribune praised in its Count Your Blessings review. The Frenchman charmed co-star Kerr, too. "Chevalier took me to visit his home, where everything, even the ash-trays, were in the shape of a straw-hat - the ultimate example of an artist being true to his image for ever and ever," she said in an Eric Braun biography of the actress. Chevalier would later team up with director Negulesco again in 1962 for the movie Jessica.

Despite the beautiful scenery of Paris and witty source material, Count Your Blessings missed the mark, according to Kerr. "A charming, funny, amusing book - somewhat castrated, because some of the funniest stuff, her beautifully observed sketches of American people in Paris, in government circles, was omitted from the script, because they didn't want to offend the Americans - became just a charming travelogue."

Despite some reservations, the New York Times described Count Your Blessings as "There's fun in this picture, some good laughs, some cheery romance and much Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer magnificence that is always a help to morale. Needless to say, all problems are settled in the end."

Producer: Karl Tunberg
Director: Jean Negulesco
Screenplay: Nancy Mitford (novel), Karl Tunberg
Cinematography: George J. Folsey, Milton R. Krasner
Film Editing: Harold F. Kress
Art Direction: Donald M. Ashton, Randall Duell, William A. Horning
Music: Franz Waxman
Cast: Deborah Kerr (Grace Allingham), Rossano Brazzi (Charles Edouard de Valhubert), Maurice Chevalier (Duc de St. Cloud), Martin Stephens (Sigismond), Tom Helmore (Hugh Palgrave), Ronald Squire (Sir Conrad Allingham).
C-102m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Amy Cox
Count Your Blessings

Count Your Blessings

Deborah Kerr learns lessons of amore -- with some help from Maurice Chevalier - in the 1959 comedy Count Your Blessings. Grace (Kerr), a proper English woman, is swept up in a whirlwind wartime romance with dashing French pilot Charles Edouard (inexplicably played by Italian heartthrob Rossano Brazzi). A three-day courtship results in marriage and a son, Sigi, but the couple rarely sees each other as Charles wanders the world, fighting wars for France. Nine years later, Charles returns to Grace and moves the family to Paris, but as the movie tagline went, "Marry in haste...resent at leisure." Grace discovers her husband's past - and present - with the ladies, including his current mistress Albertine (Patricia Medina). Kerr is counseled by Chevalier's worldly Duc de St. Cloud, who explains that this is the tradition of the French man. As the marriage breaks up, their son (Martin Stephens) relishes in the new-found attention showered upon him by each parent. But when he learns that his father will give up custody of him, Sigi runs away. United in their search for Sigi, Grace and Charles rediscover their love for each other. Based on the Nancy Mitford novel The Blessing, the film reworked the title to avoid further associations of Kerr's image with nuns. The actress had played a nun in Michael Powell's Black Narcissus in 1947 and in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957). For Kerr, Count Your Blessings came at a peak period in her career. She had earned Academy Award nominations for From Here to Eternity (1953), The King and I (1956) and Separate Tables (1958), but never won. (She would later receive an honorary Oscar® in 1994.) Count Your Blessings was sandwiched between two other Kerr movies in 1959: The Journey with Yul Brynner and Beloved Infidel, co-starring Gregory Peck. Although her film career was highly successful, Kerr's personal life was more troubled. After a year separation, she divorced her first husband in 1959 and met her second, Peter Viertel, a well-known novelist and screenwriter (Saboteur (1942), The Sun Also Rises, 1957). Kerr's co-stars on Count Your Blessings were also enjoying career success. Rossano Brazzi was hot off the hit musical South Pacific (1958). He appeared again in 1958 in A Certain Smile, and before that, Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), both with Count Your Blessings director Jean Negulesco (Johnny Belinda (1948), Titanic, 1953). Maurice Chevalier, after his first bout of popularity in the 1930s, saw a resurgence in his career playing the wise adviser to the lovelorn in such films as Love in the Afternoon (1957), Gigi a year later, and again in Count Your Blessings. "Maurice Chevalier at seventy exudes more charm than Brazzi," the New York Herald Tribune praised in its Count Your Blessings review. The Frenchman charmed co-star Kerr, too. "Chevalier took me to visit his home, where everything, even the ash-trays, were in the shape of a straw-hat - the ultimate example of an artist being true to his image for ever and ever," she said in an Eric Braun biography of the actress. Chevalier would later team up with director Negulesco again in 1962 for the movie Jessica. Despite the beautiful scenery of Paris and witty source material, Count Your Blessings missed the mark, according to Kerr. "A charming, funny, amusing book - somewhat castrated, because some of the funniest stuff, her beautifully observed sketches of American people in Paris, in government circles, was omitted from the script, because they didn't want to offend the Americans - became just a charming travelogue." Despite some reservations, the New York Times described Count Your Blessings as "There's fun in this picture, some good laughs, some cheery romance and much Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer magnificence that is always a help to morale. Needless to say, all problems are settled in the end." Producer: Karl Tunberg Director: Jean Negulesco Screenplay: Nancy Mitford (novel), Karl Tunberg Cinematography: George J. Folsey, Milton R. Krasner Film Editing: Harold F. Kress Art Direction: Donald M. Ashton, Randall Duell, William A. Horning Music: Franz Waxman Cast: Deborah Kerr (Grace Allingham), Rossano Brazzi (Charles Edouard de Valhubert), Maurice Chevalier (Duc de St. Cloud), Martin Stephens (Sigismond), Tom Helmore (Hugh Palgrave), Ronald Squire (Sir Conrad Allingham). C-102m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Amy Cox

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of the film was The Blessing. According to an August 1951 Daily Variety news item, British producer Alexander Korda engaged writer Nancy Mitford to do a treatment based on an idea he supplied. Dissatisfied with the resulting treatment, Korda approved of Mitford's request to turn the work into a novel, which became The Blessing. A May 1954 Los Angeles Times news item stated that Korda maintained rights to the property through 1954 and intended to produce the film. A Hollywood Reporter news item announced that M-G-M purchased the film rights in March 1956. According to a Hollywood Reporter item in January 1958, Sidney Franklin was assigned to co-produce the film with Karl Tunberg, who would write the screenplay to be directed by Franklin. In June 1958, Franklin left M-G-M after many years with the studio, and Jean Negulesco took over as director. The film was shot on location in London and Paris.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1959

CinemaScope

Released in United States 1959