October 29, 2015

#52FilmsByWomen - The Hitch-Hiker (1953) - Ida Lupino

TCM is partnering with Women in Film/Los Angeles to raise the awareness of the history of women working behind the camera.

Will you watch a film a week by a woman for one year? Say yes, and join Women in Film/Los Angeles' #52FilmsByWomen movement! It is super easy: make the commitment, watch the film and post about it on Facebook or Twitter. Click here to sign up!

I made the commitment to watch a film a week by a woman. Since I'm an Ida Lupino enthusiast, I chose 1953's The Hitch-Hiker for my first film.

The Hitch-Hiker is a 1953 film noir about two fishing buddies who pick up a mysterious hitchhiker during a trip to Mexico. It is regarded as the first American mainstream film noir directed by a woman. The director of photography was noted film noir cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca.

The film is based on the true story of psychopathic murderer William Edward "Billy" Cook. He was an American spree killer with a belligerent attitude. He was known for having a deformed right eyelid that never closed completely and had the words "H-A-R-D L-U-C-K" tattooed on the fingers of his left hand. He murdered six people on a 22-day rampage between Missouri and California in 1950–51.

Posing as a hitchhiker, Cook was picked up by farmer Carl Mosser from Illinois, who was en route to New Mexico with his wife, three children, and a dog. Cook forced Mosser to drive around aimlessly for 72 hours. Mentally unstable and increasingly tired, Cook shot the entire family and their dog shortly afterward. He dumped their bodies in a mine shaft near Joplin, Missouri.

Cook then headed back to California and kidnapped another motorist, Robert Dewey, from Seattle. Sometime later the traveling salesman tried to wrestle the gun from Cook but was wounded in the process. The car left the road and careened into the desert. Cook murdered Dewey with a shot to the head and dumped his body in a ditch.

Cook kidnapped two other men, James Burke and Forrest Damron, who were on a hunting trip. He forced them to drive across the Mexican border and on down to Santa Rosalia. Amazingly, Cook was recognized by Santa Rosalia police chief Luis Parra, who simply walked up to Cook, snatched the .32 revolver from his belt, and placed him under arrest. Billy Cook was then returned to the border and handed over to waiting FBI agents.

Cook was returned to Oklahoma City to answer for the Mosser killings, and sentenced to 300 years in prison. In 1951, a California jury sentenced him to death for killing the salesman from Seattle, Robert Dewey. On December 12, 1952, Cook was executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin Prison. "I hate everybody's guts," he said at the time of his arrest, "and everybody hates mine."

Billy Cook's victims: Carl Mosser, 33, Thelma Mosser, 29, Ronald Dean Mosser, 7, Gary Carl Mosser, 5, Pamela Sue Mosser, 3 and Robert Dewey, 32.

Ida Lupino interviewed Cook and got a release from him, so that she could integrate parts of Cook's life into the script. To appease the censors at the Hays Office, she reduced the number of deaths to three.

Director Ida Lupino was a noted actress who began directing when Elmer Clifton had a heart attack and couldn't finish the film he was directing for Filmakers, Inc., the company started by Lupino and her then-husband Collier Young to make low-budget, issue-oriented movies. Lupino stepped in to finish Not Wanted and went on to direct her own projects. The Hitch-Hiker was her first hard-paced, fast-moving picture.

In an article for the Village Voice, Carrie Rickey wrote that Lupino was a model of modern feminist filmmaking:
Not only did Lupino take control of production, direction and screenplay, but each of her movies addresses the brutal repercussions of sexuality, independence and dependence.
Writer Richard Koszarski noted:
Her films display the obsessions and consistencies of a true auteur.... In her films The Bigamist and The Hitch-Hiker Lupino was able to reduce the male to the same sort of dangerous, irrational force that women represented in most male-directed examples of Hollywood film noir.

Did You Know?

  • Money was tight for Filmakers, Lupino's production company. Some people worked without salary.
  • Lupino worked to stay within bounds of the small budget. She found shortcuts, ingeniously choosing the sets. Once, "Ida used a set from an old [John] Garfield picture, taking three walls and making each a different scene."
  • She talked her personal physician into appearing as a doctor in the delivery scene of Not Wanted.
  • When she needed wardrobe for the star, she opened her own closet.
  • When money got tight she did not panic. "Ida kept on track and maintained a tight shooting schedule. She earned the respect of the crew, many of whom were veteran technicians."
  • Another way to keep costs down was what is now called product placement, placing Coke, Cadillac and other brands in the films.
  • Films were shot in public places to avoid the rental cost.
  • Budget-conscious all the time, Lupino carefully planned each scene to avoid technical mistakes.
  • She was a hard worker and never late.

Click here to read a great piece by Wheeler Winston Dixon on Ida Lupino as a director.

The Hitch-Hiker (1953) Info
  • Directed by Ida Lupino, William Dorfman (assistant), Grayson Rogers (assistant), Doran Cox (assistant)
  • Produced by Collier Young, Christian Nyby (associate)
  • Screenplay by Ida Lupino, Collier Young, Robert Joseph (adaptation)
  • Based on a story by blacklisted Out of the Past screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring (uncredited).
  • Alternate Titles: The Difference and The Persuader
  • Music by Leith Stevens, C. Bakaleinikoff (musical director)
  • Sound: Roy Meadows, Clem Portman
  • Cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca
  • Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino (art director), Walter E. Keller (art director)
  • Film Editor: Douglas Stewarr
  • Set Decoration: Darrell Silvera (set decorator), Harley Miller (set decorator)
  • Special Effects: Harold E. Wellman (photographic effects)
  • Makeup: Mel Berns (makeup artist)
  • Production Misc: James Anderson (assistant to producer), Robert Eggenweiler (assistant to producer), Lew Jarrad (scr clerk)
  • Production Companies: The Filmakers, Inc. and RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
  • Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
  • Release dates: March 20, 1953 (premiere in Boston) and March 21, 1953 (U.S.)
  • Running time: 71 minutes

  • Edmond O'Brien (Roy Collins)
  • Frank Lovejoy (Gilbert Bowen)
  • William Talman (Emmett Myers)
  • Jose Torvay (Captain Alvarado)
  • Sam Hayes (Himself)
  • Wendel Niles (Himself)
  • Jean Del Val (Inspector general)
  • Clark Howat (Government agent)
  • Natividad Vacio (José)
  • Rodney Bell (William Johnson)
  • Nacho Galindo (Proprietor)
  • Martin Garralaga (Bartender)
  • Tony Roux (Gas station owner)
  • Jerry Lawrence (News broadcaster)
  • Felipe Turich (Mexican in car)
  • Rosa Turich (Mexican in car)
  • Orlando Veltran (Barker)
  • George Navarro (Barker)
  • Joe Dominguez (Man outside store)
  • June Dinneen (Waitress)
  • Al Ferrara (Gas station attendant)
  • Henry Escalante (Mexican guard)
  • Taylor Flaniken (Mexican policeman)
  • Wade Crosby (Joe, bartender)
  • Kathy Riggins (Child)
  • Gordon Barnes (Hendrickson)
  • Ed Hinton (Chief of police)
  • Larry Hudson (FBI agent)


A taut, thrilling B-movie, The Hitch-Hiker features fasten-your-seatbelts, edge-of-your-seat tension from start to finish. Ida Lupino really makes her mark here as a director with a film that is as tough and merciless as anything any of her male counterparts were creating at the time. Edmund O'Brien and Frank Lovejoy are good as regular joes who are on the longest and worst fishing trip of their lives. But it's William Talman as their sadistic kidnapper who is brilliant. This is one of those performances that all future criminal scumball characters can be measured by. Talman's cold-blooded killer personifies America's deepest fears about random crime that can strike anyone anywhere.

Slideshow - Scary William Talman

Watch The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

October 27, 2015

The Most Dangerous Game

Richard Edward Connell, Jr. (October 17, 1893 – November 22, 1949) was an American author and journalist best remembered for his 1924 short story "The Most Dangerous Game." Connell was one of the most popular American short story writers of his time. His stories were often published in The Saturday Evening Post and Collier's magazines. He had equal success as a journalist and screenwriter. Connell was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Story for the 1941 movie Meet John Doe.

"The Most Dangerous Game," also known as "The Hounds of Zaroff," was first published in Collier's magazine on January 19, 1924. Click here to read "The Most Dangerous Game."

My oldest brother introduced me to this story when I was a youngster. I was watching a Lost in Space rerun, specifically "Hunter's Moon," the fourth episode of the third season. My brother cruised into the room and handed me a collection of short stories by Richard Connell. He said, "Read 'The Most Dangerous Game' first. That episode is based on it."

I also remember an episode of Hart to Hart that used the story as its basis. "Hunted Harts" was the eleventh episode of the show's fourth season.

Connell's gem of a story, winner of the O. Henry Memorial Prize for Best Short Story, has been adapted numerous times, most notably for the 1932 RKO Pictures film The Most Dangerous Game, starring Joel McCrea, Fay Wray and Leslie Banks, and for two episodes of the CBS Radio series Suspense. On September 23, 1943, it aired on Suspense, and starred Orson Welles as Zaroff and Keenan Wynn as Rainsford. On February 1, 1945, it was presented with J. Carrol Naish as Zaroff and Joseph Cotten as Rainsford.

"The Most Dangerous Game" on Suspense: September 23, 1943 - Orson Welles, Keenan Wynn

"The Most Dangerous Game" on Suspense: February 1, 1945 - J. Carrol Naish, Joseph Cotten

Other film adaptations include a 1945 RKO version, A Game of Death, directed by Robert Wise, starring John Loder, Edgar Barrier, Audrey Long and featuring Noble Johnson, and a 1956 United Artists film, Run for the Sun, directed by Roy Boulting and starring Richard Widmark, Trevor Howard and Jane Greer.

My oldest brother died on a long ago Halloween. In his memory, I just reread "The Most Dangerous Game" and rewatched the 1932 RKO Pictures film of the same name. We watched the film together every Halloween.

I consider The Most Dangerous Game one of the best and most literate movies from the great days of horror. It stars Leslie Banks as a big-game hunter with a taste for the world's most exotic prey—his houseguests, played by Fay Wray and Joel McCrea. Before making history with 1933's King Kong, filmmakers Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack wowed audiences with their chilling adaptation of Richard Connell's short story.

Bruce Kawin on The Most Dangerous Game: "It is a superbly paced, sexually charged, tightly constructed, no-holds-barred adventure film with moments of dark, Germanic horror that stick in the mind, a movie that moves."

According to studio production files, some sets used in The Most Dangerous Game were shared with King Kong. Ernest B. Schoedsack, who co-directed King Kong with Merian C. Cooper, directed Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong in this production during the day, and then at night, he and Cooper directed them in King Kong.

The Most Dangerous Game Info
  • Directed by Irving Pichel and Ernest B. Schoedsack
  • Writing Credits:  James Ashmore Creelman (screenplay) and Richard Connell (short story)
  • Produced by Merian C. Cooper (associate producer), Ernest B. Schoedsack (associate producer) and David O. Selznick (executive producer)
  • Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures
  • Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
  • Run Time: 63 minutes. The preview ran 78 minutes.
  • Release dates: U.S. September 16, 1932 and September 20, 1932 in New York City
  • Music by Max Steiner
  • Cinematography by Henry W. Gerrard (as Henry Gerrard) (photographed by)
  • Film Editing by Archie Marshek (as Archie E. Marshek)
  • Art Direction by Carroll Clark
  • Set Decoration by Thomas Little (uncredited)
  • Costume Design by Walter Plunkett (uncredited)
  • Makeup Department: Wally Westmore - makeup artist (uncredited)
  • Art Department: John Cerisoli - special props (uncredited), Byron L. Crabbe - art department technician (uncredited), Marcel Delgado - special props (uncredited), Mario Larrinaga - art department technician (uncredited), Steve Rez - paint boss (uncredited)
  • Sound Department:  Clem Portman - recordist, Murray Spivack - sound effects (uncredited)
  • Special Effects by Lloyd Knechtel - photographic effects (uncredited), Harry Redmond Jr. - special effects (uncredited), Vernon L. Walker - photographic effects (uncredited)
  • Visual Effects by Linwood G. Dunn - optical effects (uncredited), Orville Goldner - miniatures (uncredited). Donald Jahraus - miniatures (uncredited), Bud Thackery - process photography (uncredited)
  • Stunts:  Buster Crabbe - stunt double: Joel McCrea (uncredited)
  • Camera and Electrical Department: Willard Barth - assistant camera (uncredited), Robert De Grasse - camera operator (uncredited), Russell Metty - camera operator (uncredited), Gaston Longet - still photographer (uncredited)
  • Music Department:  Norma Drury Boleslavsky - musician: piano (uncredited), Emil Gerstenberger - orchestrator (uncredited), Bernhard Kaun - orchestrator (uncredited)

(in credits order)
  • Joel McCrea as Sanger "Bob" Rainsford (Sanger = blood from the Latin sanguis)
  • Fay Wray as Eve Trowbridge
  • Robert Armstrong as Martin Trowbridge
  • Leslie Banks as Count Zaroff
  • Noble Johnson as Ivan
  • Steve Clemente as Tartar (as Steve Clemento)
  • William B. Davidson as Captain (as William Davidson)
  • Oscar "Dutch" Hendrian as Tarter Servant (as Dutch Hendrian)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
  • Buster Crabbe as Sailor who falls off boat (uncredited)
  • James Flavin as First Mate on Yacht (uncredited)
  • Arnold Gray as Passenger on Yacht (uncredited)
  • Hale Hamilton as Bill - Owner of Yacht (uncredited)
  • Landers Stevens as "Doc" - Passenger on Yacht (uncredited)
  • Phil Tead as Passenger on Yacht (uncredited)

Did You Know?

Merian C. Cooper was a pilot in World War I. Ernest B. Schoedsack was a news cameraman. They were known for their reckless bravery.

Cooper and Schoedsack were explorers, both geographically and cinematically. With Marguerite Elton Harrison, they joined the migrating branch of the Bakhtiari tribe of Lurs to film one of the greatest silent documentaries, Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life (1925), the record of their hazardous six-week trek across the mountains of Iran.

For the 1927 film Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness, Cooper and Schoedsack shot much of the footage in the jungles of Thailand. Chang was nominated for the Academy Award for Unique and Artistic Production at the first Academy Awards in 1929, the only year when that award was presented.

Leslie Banks served with the Essex Regiment during World War I. He received injuries that left his face partially scarred and paralyzed. In his acting career he would use this injury to good effect by showing the unblemished side of his face (the right) when playing comedy or romance and the scarred, paralyzed side of his face (the left) when playing drama or tragedy.

The trophy room scenes were much longer in the preview version of 78 minutes: there were more heads in jars. But there was also an emaciated sailor, stuffed and mounted next to a tree where he was impaled by Zaroff's arrow, and another full-body figure stuffed, with the bodies of two of the hunting dogs mounted in a death grip. Preview audiences cringed and shuddered at the head in the bottle and the mounted heads, but when they saw the mounted figures and heard Zaroff's dialog describing in detail how each man had died, they began heading for the exit—so these shots disappeared.

Noble Johnson plays "Ivan." He was a multi-talented African American who was a childhood friend of Lon Chaney. This is the earliest known instance of a black actor working in "whiteface" to play a Caucasian character.

Zaroff's dogs were Great Danes borrowed from Harold Lloyd. While big, Great Danes are not especially threatening, so with their coats subsequently darkened and they were filmed at an especially low angle to appear more menacing.

One of Rainsford's shipmates quotes the first lines from The Wreck of the Hesperus by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The drunken Armstrong is a loaded script element: he's supposed to be annoying. At the time this film was released, Prohibition was still in effect, but the law was widely ignored. Producer Merian C. Cooper was strongly critical of alcohol use and of the glamorization of drunkenness in movies. There is a similar scene in both Mighty Joe Young (1949) (where inebriated nightclub patrons precipitate the creature's escape and rampage) and The Son of Kong (1933) (where drunkenness proves disastrous for the heroine's father). Zaroff's reveling in his hunting exploits was also deliberate beyond the needs of the story, downplaying its glamorization in other movies of the period.

The second of three film collaborations involving Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper, and Fay Wray. The three films are: The Four Feathers (1929), The Most Dangerous Game (1932) and King Kong (1933).

Watch 1932's The Most Dangerous Game

October 25, 2015

Maureen O'Hara Passes Away at 95

Maureen O'Hara (born Maureen FitzSimons) on August 17, 1920 was an Irish-American film actress.

Born to Charles Stewart Parnell FitzSimons (a Catholic) and Marguerite Lilburn (a Protestant) in Ranelagh, County Dublin, Ireland not long before partition, the famously red-headed beauty was noted for playing fiercely passionate heroines with a highly sensible attitude. She often worked with director John Ford and longtime friend John Wayne.

Her father was part owner of Ireland's leading football club the Shamrock Rovers.

Maureen was the second of six children. Her siblings were Mary Margaret (Peggy), the oldest, and younger Charles, Florrie, Margot, and James. Peggy dedicated her life to a religious order, the Irish Sisters of Charity.

Charles B. FitzSimons (b. 8 May 1924 in Ranelagh, County Dublin - d. 14 February 2001 in Los Angeles, California from liver failure, aged 76) was an actor in Ireland before immigrating to the USA. He became a Hollywood film actor and later a supervising production executive before becoming a producer himself. He also served as Executive Director of the Producers Guild for almost 20 years (1981-1999).

She was fluent in Irish and used this in her films The Long Gray Line, The Quiet Man and Only the Lonely.


Maureen loved playing rough athletic games as a child and excelled in sports. She combined this interest with an equally natural gift for performing. She came from a theatrical family and was accepted at the age of 14 to the Abbey Theatre in Dublin (Ireland's National Theatre). She attended the Ena Mary Burke School of Elocution and was an honor student at the London School of Music. At her father's insistence, Maureen also studied secretarial and bookkeeping courses, and she has used these considerable skills throughout her life.

At the age of 18, she was briefly married to George Hanley Brown, who would become the father of British journalist Tina Brown. The marriage was annulled on September 15, 1941. On December 29, 1941 she married an Englishman, William "Will" Price, who fathered her only child, Bronwyn Brigid Price, born June 30, 1944. Bronwyn later appeared in the film Spencer's Mountain. Will Price served during World War II, making Maureen a war wife. The marriage to Price, however, ultimately ended in divorce on August 11, 1953 due to his alcoholism and physical abuse of his wife.

In 1939, she was offered a screen test in London. Initially reluctant, she was persuaded to attend. Famed actor Charles Laughton attended the screen test. She performed poorly in the test and returned to Ireland. However, Charles Laughton believed she had "something." Laughton looked at the test again, and while he thought it was awful, he couldn't forget her eyes. He told his business partner Erich Pommer he was signing her and sent him the test film. When Pommer saw the film, he was furious as he believed it was a poor choice. However, Pommer came around when he too found he couldn't forget her eyes. As a result, she was offered an initial seven-year contract. Laughton and Pommer changed her name to "Maureen O'Hara" - a better fit for a marquee. Her first major film was Alfred Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn (1939).

Also in 1939, she and Laughton went to the U.S. to appear in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This film contains one of her most famous roles, playing Esmeralda alongside Laughton's Quasimodo.

In 1941, O'Hara gave a haunting performance as the Welsh daughter of a mining family in the drama How Green Was My Valley, which marked her first collaboration with legendary director John Ford. The film triumphed at the Oscars, winning top honors in five categories, including Best Picture and Best Director.

While fulfilling contract commitments with both RKO Studios and 20th Century-Fox, O'Hara was billed alongside Hollywood's leading men in a slew of swashbuckling features. Among the most notable were 1942's The Black Swan (with Tyrone Power), 1947's Sinbad the Sailor (with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) and 1949's Bagdad (with Vincent Price). In between action films, O'Hara was assigned a role in the 1947 holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street, in which she played a single working mother whose strong rational beliefs are challenged by Santa Claus.

During the 1940s and 1950s, O'Hara was repeatedly cast as the heroine in elaborate Technicolor features. Her strong-willed characters, which were complimented by her fiery red hair, green eyes, and peaches and cream complexion, earned her the nicknames "The Queen of Technicolor" and "The Pirate Queen of the Screen." O'Hara gave saucy performances in adventures like Buffalo Bill (1944), The Spanish Main (1945), The Flame of Araby (1951), and The Redhead From Wyoming (1952).

In 1950, O'Hara entered a new phase of her career when she was cast as John Wayne's estranged wife in John Ford's romantic Western Rio Grande. O'Hara shared great screen chemistry with Wayne and served as his leading lady in a succession of films over the next few years. Also under Ford's direction, Wayne and O'Hara starred in the lyrical drama The Quiet Man (1952) and in the critically panned The Wings of Eagles (1957).

O'Hara's mother was an accomplished contralto and she aspired to a singing career. She sang briefly in How Green Was My Valley and again in The Quiet Man. She starred on Broadway in the musical Christine and released two successful recordings: Love Letters from Maureen O'Hara and Maureen O'Hara Sings her Favorite Irish Songs. Throughout the 1960s, she was a sought after guest on musical variety shows appearing with Perry Como, Andy Williams, Betty Grable and Ernie Ford. In 1973, she appeared on Tennessee Ernie Ford's Fabulous Fordies TV special.

She was one of the most beloved of Hollywood's Golden Age icons, in the company of such screen luminaries as Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Elizabeth Taylor. Many of her films are considered all-time classics and are traditionally shown on television during the holidays. Once named one of the world's most beautiful women, O'Hara's beautiful face and thick red hair blowing in the wind as she waves from a gate in the Academy Award-winning film How Green Was My Valley will remain one of the most iconic images ever preserved on film.

Marriage, retirement and comeback

Maureen married her third husband, Charles F. Blair, on March 11, 1968. Blair was a pioneer of transatlantic aviation, a former Brigadier General of the U.S. Air Force and a former Senior Pilot at Pan Am. A few years after her marriage to Blair, O'Hara retired from acting. According to O'Hara, one day she was with Blair and John Wayne when she was asked if she didn't think it was time for her to stop working and stay at home. Instead of getting into the argument she thought Blair and Wayne were expecting, she agreed that it was time to stop. With Blair, Maureen managed Antilles Airboats, a commuter sea plane service in the Caribbean. She not only made trips around the world with her pilot husband, but owned and published a magazine, The Virgin Islander, writing a monthly column called "Maureen O'Hara Says." Blair later died on September 2, 1978 when the engine of a Grumman Goose he was flying from St. Croix to St. Thomas exploded. Though completely devastated, Maureen, with memories of ten of the happiest years of her life, soldiered on. She was elected CEO and President of Antilles Airboats with the added distinction of being the first woman president of a scheduled airline in the U.S. Later, Maureen sold the airline with the permission of the shareholders.

Fortunately for fans, she was coaxed out of retirement several times: once in 1991 to star with John Candy in Only the Lonely and again, in 1995, in a made-for-TV movie, The Christmas Box on CBS. In the spring of 1998, Maureen accepted the second of what would be three projects for Polson Productions and CBS: Cab to Canada (1998) and The Last Dance (2000).


 For her contributions to the motion picture industry, Maureen O'Hara has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7004 Hollywood Blvd. O'Hara received the Heritage Award by the Ireland-American Fund in 1991. In 1993, she was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She was also awarded the Golden Boot Award.

In March 1999, Maureen was selected to be the Grand Marshal of the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade after previously being de-selected because she was a divorcée.

In 2004 Maureen O'Hara released her autobiography 'Tis Herself, published by Simon and Schuster. In the same year she was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Irish Film and Television Academy in her native Dublin, Ireland.

O'Hara was named Irish America‍ '​s "Irish American of the Year" in 2005, with festivities held at the Plaza Hotel in New York.

In 2006, Maureen O' Hara Blair attended the Grand Reopening and Expansion of the Flying Boats Museum in Foynes, Limerick, Ireland - as a patron of the Museum. A significant portion of the Museum is dedicated to her late husband Charles Blair.

In 2011, O'Hara was formally inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame at an event in New Ross, County Wexford. She was also named president of the Universal Film and Festival Organization (UFFO) which promotes a code of conduct for film festivals and the film industry. In June 2011, she participated at the Maureen O'Hara Film Festival in Glengarriff, County Cork.

In May 2012, O'Hara's family contacted social workers regarding claims that O'Hara, who had short-term memory loss, was a victim of elder abuse. In September 2012, O'Hara flew to the U.S. after receiving doctor's permission to fly. She lived with her grandson, Conor Beau FitzSimons, in Boise, Idaho.

On May 24-25, 2013, O'Hara made a public appearance at the 2013 John Wayne Birthday "Tribute to Maureen O'Hara" celebration in Winterset, Iowa. The occasion was the ground breaking for the new John Wayne Birthplace Museum; the festivities included an official proclamation from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad declaring May 25, 2013, as "Maureen O'Hara Day" in Iowa. The appearance included a performance by the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band, who traveled from Chicago for the event. About Wayne, O'Hara said; "I was tough. I was tall. I was strong. I didn't take any nonsense from anybody. He was tough, he was tall, he was strong and he didn't take any nonsense from anybody. As a man and a human being, I adored him."

Maureen O'Hara died in her sleep at her home in Idaho from natural causes on October 24, 2015. She was 95 years old.


1960 - Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - Motion Picture at 7004 Hollywood Blvd.

1991 - Golden Boot Award

1993 - British Film Institute Awards - Won BFI Fellowship

2002 - Seattle Film Critics Awards - Won Living Treasure Award.

2004 - Irish Film and Television Awards - Won Lifetime Achievement Award.

2011 - CinEuphoria Awards - Won Career - Honorary Award

2015 - Academy Awards - Won Honorary Award


Height: 5'8"

Crack typist who typed some of her own scripts/rewrites.

Measurements: 36 1/2 C-25-36 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)

Did many of her own stunts in her films.

Starred with John Wayne in five movies: Rio Grande (1950), The Quiet Man (1952), The Wings of Eagles (1957), McLintock! (1963) and Big Jake (1971). In all five, Wayne and O'Hara played husband and wife, and in all five, they were estranged at least briefly. The first three were directed by John Ford.

Was the first choice to play "Anna" in the film version of The King and I (1956) but Richard Rodgers did not want the role played by a "pirate queen."

Was having lunch with actress Lucille Ball the moment Lucy first saw Cuban musician Desi Arnaz.

She became an American citizen on January 25, 1946 but retained her Irish citizenship. It was the first time in history that the United States government recognized an Irish citizen as Irish. This led to a change in process for all Irish immigrants.

John Wayne and O'Hara remained friends until his death. In her home on St. Croix, she had a wing she called the "John Wayne Wing" because he stayed there when visiting. It was badly damaged by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, some ten years after Wayne's death.

She made headlines in 1997 by claiming that Brian Keith's suicide, while suffering from lung cancer and emphysema and mourning the suicide of his daughter, was an accident.


"Speaking as an actress, I wish all actors would be more like Duke Wayne. And speaking as a person, it would be nice if all people could be honest and as genuine as he is. This is a real man."

"To the people throughout the world, John Wayne is not just an actor, and a very fine actor, John Wayne is the United States of America."

On John Wayne: "He was a wonderful man, a wonderful person. With us, it wasn't a man and a woman - it was two friends. He knew a lot of my secrets which nobody ever knew and nobody ever will. He might be telling the Good Lord but he's not going to tell anyone else."

Elsa Lanchester on Maureen: "She looks as though butter wouldn't melt in her mouth-or anywhere else."

"She is like the emerald shower which succeeds the initial explosion of a skyrocket." --Film Critic Bosley Crowther about Maureen O'Hara.

Maureen O'Hara on the Radio

"How Green Was My Valley" on Lux Radio Theatre: September 21, 1942 - Walter Pidgeon, Donald Crisp, Maureen O'Hara, Roddy McDowall, Sara Allgood

"Heaven Can Wait" on Lux Radio Theatre: October 11, 1943 - Maureen O'Hara, Don Ameche

"The Fallen Sparrow" on Lux Radio Theatre: February 14, 1944 - Robert Young, Maureen O'Hara, Walter Slezak

"Fallen Angel" on Lux Radio Theatre: June 17, 1946 - Maureen O'Hara, Linda Darnell, Mark Stevens

"Do You Love Me?" on Lux Radio Theatre: December 23, 1946 - Maureen O'Hara, Dick Haymes, Barry Sullivan

"Miracle on 34th Street" on Lux Radio Theatre: December 22, 1947 - Maureen O'Hara, Edmund Gwenn, John Payne, Natalie Wood

"The Foxes of Harrow" on Lux Radio Theatre: December 6, 1948 - Maureen O'Hara, John Hodiak

"Miracle on 34th Street" on Lux Radio Theatre: December 20, 1948 - Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn

"Slattery's Hurricane" on Lux Radio Theatre: March 6, 1950 - Maureen O'Hara, Richard Conte, Veronica Lake, William Conrad

"Father Was a Fullback" on Lux Radio Theatre: March 20, 1950 - Paul Douglas, Maureen O'Hara, Betty Lynn

"Together Again" on Lux Radio Theatre: May 10, 1955 - Maureen O'Hara

October 04, 2015

Penny Serenade (1941)

  • Release Date: April 24, 1941
  • Production Date: October 14, 1940 - January 15, 1941
  • Duration (in minutes): 118-120
  • Color: B/W
  • Production Company: Columbia Pictures Corporation
  • Production Text: A George Stevens Production
  • Producers: George Stevens and Fred Guiol (associate producer)
  • Distribution Company: Columbia Pictures Corporation
  • Directors: George Stevens and Gene Anderson (assistant)
  • Writers: Morrie Ryskind (screenplay), Martha Cheavens (screenplay consultant) - Based on the short story "Penny Serenade" by Martha Cheavens in McCall's (Aug 1940).
  • Photography: Joseph Walker and Franz Planer 
  • Art Direction: Lionel Banks and Cary Odell (associate)
  • Film Editor: Otto Meyer
  • Set Decoration: Harry Hopkins
  • Dialogue Director: William Castle
  • Sound: Jack A. Goodrich (sound engineer)
  • Music: M. W. Stoloff (musical director), W. Franke Harling (music), Paul Mertz (musical advisor), Sidney Cutner (orchestrator) (uncredited), Carmen Dragon (orchestrator), Leonid Raab (orchestrator)
  • Songs: "You Were Meant for Me," music by Nacio Herb Brown, lyrics by Arthur Freed; "Poor Butterfly," music by Raymond Hubbel, lyrics by John L. Golden; "My Blue Heaven," music by Walter Donaldson, lyrics by George Whiting; "I'm Tickled Pink with a Blue Eyed Baby," music by Pete Wendling, lyrics by Charles O'Flynn; "The Moon Was Yellow," music by Fred E. Ahlert, lyrics by Eric Leslie; "Silent Night, Holy Night," music by Franz Gruber, lyrics by Joseph Mohr, English lyrics, anonymous; "The Missouri Waltz," music by Frederick Knight Logan, lyrics by J. R. Shannon.

Cast (in credits order)
  • Irene Dunne as Julie Gardiner Adams
  • Cary Grant as Roger Adams
  • Beulah Bondi as Miss Oliver
  • Edgar Buchanan as Applejack Carney
  • Ann Doran as Dotty
  • Eva Lee Kuney as Trina (at the age of 6 years)
  • Leonard Willey as Doctor Hartley
  • Wallis Clark as Judge
  • Walter Soderling as Billings
  • Jane Biffle as Trina (at the age of 1 year) (as Baby Biffle)
  • Joan Biffle as Trina (at the age of 1 year) (as Baby Biffle)

Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
  • Stanley Brown as Man (scenes deleted)
  • Bess Flowers as Mother (scenes deleted)
  • Eddie Laughton as Cab Driver (scenes deleted)
  • Adrian Morris as Bill Collector (scenes deleted)
  • Edward Peil, Sr. as Train Conductor (scenes deleted)
  • Grady Sutton as Man (scenes deleted)
  • Dorothy Adams as Mother in Stalled Car (uncredited)
  • Billy Bevan as McDougal (uncredited)
  • Mary Bovard as Girl (uncredited)
  • Lynton Brent as Reporter (uncredited)
  • Jack Buchanon as Minor Role (uncredited)
  • Albert Butterfield ... Boy (uncredited)
  • Henry Dixon as Old Printer (uncredited)
  • Georgia Ellis as Girl (uncredited)
  • Edmund Elton as Minister (uncredited)
  • John Ferguson as Father (uncredited)
  • Diane Fleetwood as Trina as an Infant (uncredited)
  • Judith Fleetwood as Trina as an Infant (uncredited)
  • Charles Flynn as Bob (uncredited)
  • Iris Han as O-Hanna-San (uncredited)
  • Otto Han as Cook Sam (uncredited)
  • Doris Herbert as Minister's Wife (uncredited)
  • Arline Jackson as Girl (uncredited)
  • Payne B. Johnson as Boy in Christmas Play (uncredited)
  • Donald Kerr as Man Dancing at Party (uncredited)
  • Ben Kumagai as Rickshaw Boy (uncredited)
  • Lani Lee as Chinese Waitress (uncredited)
  • Frank Mills as Chubby Printer (uncredited)
  • Frank Moran as Cab Driver at Doorway, New Year's Party (uncredited)
  • Rollin Moriyama as Rickshaw Boy (uncredited)
  • Cy Schindell as Elmer - the Bootlegger (uncredited)
  • Ben Taggart as Policeman (uncredited)
  • Fred Toones as Porter (uncredited)
  • John Tyrrell as Press Operator (uncredited)
  • Beryl Vaughn as Flower Girl (uncredited)
  • Dick Wessel as Joe Connor, Man Dancing with Dotty (uncredited)
  • Lillian West as Nurse (uncredited)
  • Nee Wong, Jr. as Sung Chong (uncredited)

Did You Know?

According to materials contained in the George Stevens papers at the AMPAS Library, Columbia paid $25,000 for the rights to Martha Cheavens' magazine story and hired Cheavens as a script consultant.

Penny Serenade was Stevens' first picture under his Columbia contract.

George Stevens used popular songs to mark the passage of time in the film, and his papers reveal that he spent a great deal of care in selecting the appropriate tunes. In his papers, there are detailed charts listing the chronology of the songs so that the music would be matched to the proper time period. Among the popular songs included in the background score were: "Japanese Sandman," "These Foolish Things," "Just a Memory," "Three O'Clock in the Morning," "Ain't We Got Fun?" and "The Prisoner's Song."

Grant who, according to modern sources, considered his role in Penny Serenade to be his best, was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor for his performance.

Irene Dunne often said that this was one of her favorite films because it reminded her of her own adopted daughter.

Third of three movies that paired Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. The other two were The Awful Truth and My Favorite Wife.

Joseph Walker replaced Frank Planer as photographer after an illness forced Planer to withdraw from the project.

Film is in the public domain. Look for the remastered version.

The Daytona Beach Morning Journal Review of Penny Serenade
July 10, 1941

"Penny Serenade" at the Empire

Here is a picture aimed straight at the heart and the tear ducts—and both take a beating. For "Penny Serenade" is strictly a four-handkerchief film. Oh, there are plenty of laughs and good ones and the picture ends on the up-beat, but it's hard to fight off the subtle feeling of impending disaster.

The story is worked out in the flash-back manner with the tunes of yesteryear turning the pages. Irene Dunne and Cary Grant, who have been so charmingly gay in the "The Awful Truth" and "My Favorite Wife," lose none of that charm when disarmed of their wisecracks and fey ways.

They are both marvelous in that most chucklesome scene where they being home the five-week-old baby from the orphanage with "Fragile, handle with care" marked figuratively all over it. And their stage fright at baby's first bath had the audience in plain and fancy stitches.

"Penny Serenade" also gives plenty of footage to that new character actor, Edgar Buchanan, who plays homespun Applejack — I hope we see more of him, but soon.—Liz.

The New York Times Review of Penny Serenade
By Bosley Crowther - May 23, 1941

When you go to the Music Hall this time, take along a couple of blotters and a sponge. In fact, if you are prone to easy weeping, you might even take along a washtub. And don't be disturbed if your neighbor, unprovided, drips and splatters all over you. For this time the comic muse very frequently gives way to tears. This time Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, whose previous cinematic marriages have been more or less on the frivolous and nicely indecent side, are so blissfully and properly united that it takes a tragedy to threaten briefly to tear them apart. This time the new picture is Columbia's "Penny Serenade."

When you think about it coolly and dispassionately—and after an interval of at least an hour—you can't help but feel that somebody has slipped a fast one over on you. Maybe it is Producer George Stevens, who has put together a film which employs not one but six or seven of the recognized sob-story tricks. Maybe it is Miss Dunne, who originally succumbs to one of the most severe cases of galloping nostalgia we have ever witnessed on the screen. And maybe it is Mr. Grant, that worldly and jocular chap, who shamelessly permits a tiny tot to play "Home, Sweet Home" on his heart-strings. The thing is you never suspect these people are going quite so soft on you until—bam!—they are wallowing in sentiment and your eyes are leaking like a sieve.

But that's the way it is. From the moment that Miss Dunne sadly turns on the old gramaphone and, to the plaintive strains of "You Were Meant for Me," the scene fades back to her first meeting with Mr. Grant, you may recognize that you are in for a reminiscent wrench. Then, as she successively replenishes the music box with such nostalgic tunes as "Just a Memory," "Missouri Waltz," "Poor Butterfly," "Blue Heaven," etc., right out of a book, you follow the couple as they marry, suffer countless little woes, buy a country newspaper, adopt a baby and finally lose the child they love so much.

And slowly, without being aware of it, you drift with them and the film from brittle, sophisticated comedy to out-and-out softy stuff, from the quixotic plighting of their troth at a New Year's Eve party to the first fearful bathing of baby in the familiar new-parents comedy vein. And then you are sniffling and gulping as little daughter takes part in her first school play and you know that the teacher's promise that she can be "an angel next year" is irony. Somehow, it all goes down, despite a woefully overlong script—all but Mr. Grant's recalcitrance after the little one is gone. It's hard to believe that a man could treat his ever-loving wife so wretchedly, at a time when both would be drawn even closer together by grief. And their sudden joyful willingness to adopt another child is open to doubt.

But some very credible acting on the part of Mr. Grant and Miss Dunne is responsible in the main for the infectious quality of the film. Edgar Buchanan, too, gives an excellent performance as a good-old-Charlie friend, and Beulah Bondi is sensible as an orphanage matron. Heart-warming is the word for both of them. As a matter of fact, the whole picture deliberately cozies up to the heart. Noel Coward once drily observed how extraordinarily potent cheap music is. That is certainly true of "Penny Serenade."

PENNY SERENADE, screen play by Morrie Ryskind; based on the story by Martha Cheavens; produced and directed by George Stevens for Columbia Pictures. At the Radio City Music Hall.
Julie Gardiner . . . . . Irene Dunne
Roger Adams . . . . . Cary Grant
Miss Oliver . . . . . Beulah Bondi
Applejack . . . . . Edgar Buchanan
Dotty . . . . . Ann Doran
Trina, aged 6 . . . . . Eva Lee Kuney
Doctor Hartley . . . . . Leonard Willey
Judge . . . . . Wallis Clark
Billings . . . . . Walter Soderling
Trina, aged 1 . . . . . Baby Biffle

Variety Review of Penny Serenade
By Variety Staff - April 16, 1941

Irene Dunne and Cary Grant, who a short time ago had audiences howling at their antics in "The Awful Truth," return to the Columbia banner in "Penny Serenade," and the same customers are going to have just as fine a time sniffling and weeping over a very sentimental story about husband, wife and adopted child.

Exhibitors would be smart to furnish handkerchiefs at the box office.  Incidentally, they had better lay in a big supply.  This is the best tear-jerker that has come to the screen since the first production of "Madame."  And that's going way back.

Produced with less skill and acted with less sincerity, "Penny Serenade" might have missed the mark by a mile, but George Stevens' direction and the excellence of the stars' playing make the film an entry for top bookings and extended first runs.  It is fashioned for the family trade everywhere, with special matinee appeal.  The characters are young home folks and could be duplicated in an instant from any local phone book.

Here's the story. Miss Dunne and Grant adopt a six weeks old baby and raise her until she is six, when she dies, after a brief illness.  Then they adopt a boy of two.

That's all, but the telling of it from an excellently written screenscript by Morrie Ryskind, who found inspiration from a McCall's Magazine story by Martha Cheavens, occupies nearly two hours, in the course of which there are tenderness, heart-throb, comedy and good, old-fashioned, gulping tears.  Half a dozen times the yarn approaches the saccharine, only to be turned back into sound, human comedy-drama.

Film marks the return of Miss Dunne after an extended vacation, the only effects of which seem to be that she proves again her place among the handful of women screen stars.  In the role of not too prosperous wife of a small-town struggling newspaper publisher, she is gay and earnest, and plays the sentimental passages with restraint.  She has had more spectacular roles, but none that required sustaining quite the mood of her latest film.

Grant, also, takes the assignment in stride, scoring in several bits as a baby nurse and pleading foster-father.

Supporting cast includes Beulah Bondi, Edgar Buchanan and Ann Doran.  Despite the tuneful title, the only melody heard is via a few phonograph platters.

Film should turn out to be a serenade of quarters at the box-office.

Complete Plot Summary of Penny Serenade

Don't want to spoil anyone's fun by posting a complete plot summary of the film. Click here to read one.

Penny Serenade on the Radio

"Penny Serenade" on General Electric Theater: July 23, 1953 - Irene Dunne

"Penny Serenade" on The Hallmark Playhouse: July 1, 1948 - Frances Robinson, Gerald Mohr, Frank Lovejoy, Margaret MacDonald, Ed Begley, Anne Whitfield

"Penny Serenade" on Lux Radio Theatre: April 27, 1942 - Robert Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, Beulah Bondi, Edgar Buchanan

"Penny Serenade" on Lux Radio Theatre: May 8, 1944 - Irene Dunne, Joseph Cotten, Edgar Buchanan

"Penny Serenade" on The Screen Guild Theater: November 16, 1941 - Cary Grant, Irene Dunne

Watch Penny Serenade

October 02, 2015

Love Affair (1939)

  • Release Dates: March 16, 1939 (New York City) and April 7, 1939
  • Production Date: October 6, 1938 - November 29, 1938; and December 13 to late December 1938 Duration (in minutes): 87 or 89
  • Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
  • Production Text: A Leo McCarey Production
  • Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
  • Directors: Leo McCarey and James Anderson (assistant)
  • Writers: Delmer Daves (screenplay), Donald Ogden Stewart (screenplay), Mildred Cram (story), Leo McCarey (story) and S. N. Behrman (contributed to screenplay)
  • Photography: Rudolph Maté
  • Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase and Al Herman (associate)
  • Film Editors: Edward Dmytryk and George Hively
  • Set Decoration: Darrell Silvera
  • Costumes: Howard Greer (gowns) and Edward Stevenson (gowns)
  • Special Effects: Vernon L. Walker (special effects), Douglas Travers (montage)
  • Makeup: Mel Berns (makeup artist)
  • Sound: John L. Cass (recordist)
  • Music: Roy Webb (musical score), Robert Russell Bennett (orchestrator), David Buttolph (orchestrator), George Parrish (orchestrator) and David Raksin (orchestrator)
  • Songs: "Wishing," music and lyrics by B. G. DeSylva; "Sing My Heart," music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler.


  • Irene Dunne (Terry McKay)
  • Charles Boyer (Michel Marnet)
  • Maria Ouspenskaya (Grandmother - Mme. Marnet - Janou or Manou)
  • Lee Bowman (Kenneth Bradley)
  • Astrid Allwyn (Lois Clarke)
  • Maurice Moscovich (Maurice Cobert)
  • Scotty Beckett (Boy on ship)
  • Bess Flowers (Couple on deck)
  • Harold Miller (Couple on deck)
  • Fred Malatesta (Shipboard photographer)
  • Bert Moorhouse (Shipboard passenger)
  • Henry Norton (Shipboard passenger)
  • Gerald Mohr (Man)
  • Joan Brodel (Joan Leslie) (Autograph seeker)
  • Mary Bovard (Autograph seeker)
  • Phyllis Kennedy (Annie, Terry's maid)
  • Dell Henderson (Cafe manager)
  • Carol Hughes (Nightclub patron)
  • Leyland Hodgson (Doctor)
  • Lloyd Ingraham (Doctor)
  • Frank McGlynn Sr. (Superintendent of the orphanage)
  • Oscar O'Shea (Priest)
  • Ferike Boros (Terry's landlady)
  • Tom Dugan (Drunk with Christmas tree)
  • Robert Mitchell Boys Choir (Choir)

The film received Academy Award nominations in the following categories: Best Picture; Best Original Story (Mildred Cram and Leo McCarey); Best Actress (Irene Dunne); Best Supporting Actress (Maria Ouspenskaya); Best Interior Decoration (Van Nest Polglase and Al Herman); and Best Song ("Wishing").

Love Affair was remade by Leo McCarey for 20th Century-Fox in 1957 as An Affair to Remember, with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. It was also remade by Glenn Gordon Caron in 1994 as Love Affair, starring Warren Beatty, Annette Bening and, in her last feature film appearance, Katharine Hepburn. A 1999 Bollywood movie, Mann, was made based on the same storyline.

Did You Know?

The working title for this film was Love Match.

Terry McKay was based on a woman Delmer Daves met on a ship returning from Europe. The woman was reportedly wisked off to Europe to stave off a scandal resulting from her affair with a government official in a small town.

Of all the films they made, Love Affair was the favorite of both Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne.

"Wishing" became one of the most popular songs of 1939.

After this movie was released restaurants were suddenly bombarded with requests for pink champagne.

Astrid Allwyn, who plays Boyer's heiress fiancé, also appeared in the unrelated film Love Affair (1932), starring a young and relatively-unknown Humphrey Bogart.

Opening credits are on pages of a book, through which someone is paging.

In 1967, the film entered the public domain (in the United States) due to the claimants' failure to renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication. Because of this, the film is widely available on home video and online.


Terry McKay: The things we like best are either illegal, immoral or fattening.

Terry McKay: How's your fiancee?
Michel Marnet: She's got a cold.
Terry McKay: Oh, that's too bad. Got it at Lake Como?
Michel Marnet: No, she wasn't there.
Terry McKay: Uhh... , Uh, you mean the Lady of the Lake was not...
Michel Marnet: [Shakes head] That was her best friend.
Terry McKay: Oh.
Michel Marnet: [Another shake, and grimace]
Terry McKay: Chummy bunch.

Terry McKay: What are you trying to say, Michel?
Michel Marnet: I'm trying to say that it would take me six months to find out if I'm worthy to say what's in my heart.
Terry McKay: Oh, that's just about the nicest thing...

The New York Times Film Review of Love Affair

'Love Affair,' a Bitter-Sweet Romance, Opens at the Music Hall
By Franks S. Nugent
Published: March 17, 1939

Leo McCarey, who directs so well it is almost anti-social of him not to direct more often, has created another extraordinarily fine film in "Love Affair," which the Music Hall brought in yesterday. Like other McCarey pictures, this one has the surface appearance of a comedy and the inner strength and poignance of a hauntingly sorrowful romance. It is a technique or a mood-creation developed, we suspect, out of Mr. McCarey's past experiments, ranging from "Ruggles of Red Gap" through "Make Way for Tomorrow" to "The Awful Truth." The formula would be comedy plus sentiment plus X (which is Mr. McCarey himself) equal such things as "Love Affair."

As co-author, director and producer, he must be credited primarily for the film's success, but almost as large a measure of acknowledgment belongs to Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer for the facility with which they have matched the changes of their script—playing it lightly now, soberly next, but always credibly, always in character, always with a superb utilization of the material at hand. Scarcely less effective has been the contribution of the small supporting cast: Maria Ouspenskaya, Lee Bowman, Astrid Allwyn, Maurice Moscovich and the few bit players who have added their priceless touches of humor and pathos.

The love affair Mr. McCarey and his company are considering is the unexpectedly idyllic romance between the jaded man of the world, Michel Marnay, and the younger, but almost equally skeptical, Terry Mackay. Both of them were affianced elsewhere, not exactly for money (although that was part of the picture), but because they reasoned they might as well marry money if they had to marry at all. Then, suddenly, they met on shipboard, flirted since it amused them, parted unheroically when it occurred to them that news of an indiscretion might reach the ears of their respective future mates, and discovered, almost as surprisingly, that they were in love.

It is a discovery apt to alter the behavior of a couple of people who had been playing with life. Subtly, Mr. McCarey alters his style to meet the emergency. He finds it amusing that Michel should become a sign-painter, Terry a night club singer as they put themselves on probation for six months to determine whether they are worthy of marriage. But he finds it touching, too. And, although he keeps reminding himself (and his audience) that life is a comedian, he finds tragedy in the accident that overtakes Terry on her way to the marriage rendezvous and pity in the misunderstanding that keeps his lovers apart so long.

In a sense, his film is a triumph of indirection, for it does one thing while seeming to do another. Its immediate effect is comedy; its after-glow is that of a bitter-sweet romance. A less capable director, with a less competent cast, must have erred one way or the other—either on the side of treacle or on that of whimsy. Mr. McCarey has balanced his ingredients skillfully and has merged them, as is clear in retrospect, into a glowing and memorable picture.

LOVE AFFAIR, from a story by Mildred Cram and Leo McCarey; screen play by Delmer Daves and Donald Ogden Stewart; music and lyrics by B. G. DeSylva, Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler; directed and produced by Mr. McCarey for RKO Radio. At the Radio City Music Hall.
Terry Mackay . . . . . Irene Dunne
Michel Marnay . . . . . Charles Boyer
Mme. Marnay . . . . . Maria Ouspenskaya
Kenneth . . . . . Lee Bowman
Lois . . . . . Astrid Allwyn
Cobert . . . . . Maurice Moscovich
(Please note: The names of the characters are misspelled in the review. Mackay is actually spelled McKay. Marnay is actually spelled Marnet.)

Leo McCarey, Charles Boyer, Irene Dunne

Variety Film Review of Love Affair

Variety Staff - December 31, 1938

Leo McCarey’s initial production for RKO as a producer-director offers an entirely new approach to accepted technique. Basically, it’s the regulation formula of boy-meets-girl (story by McCarey and Mildred Cram). But first half is best described as romantic comedy, while second portion switches to drama with comedy.

Aboard boat sailing from Naples to New York, Charles Boyer starts a flirtation with Irene Dunne. He is engaged to heiress Astrid Allwyn, and she to Lee Bowman. They separate on docking with pact to meet six months later atop the Empire State building.

Dunne slips to Philadelphia to sing in a night club, while Boyer applies himself to painting. While on her way to keep tryst on appointed day, Dunne is injured in a traffic accident. Faced with life of a cripple, girl refuses to contact Boyer to explain.

Dunne is excellent in a role that requires both comedy and dramatic ability. Boyer is particularly effective as the modern Casanova. Maria Ouspenskaya provides a warmly sympathetic portrayal as Boyer’s grandmother in Madeira.

Reading Eagle Film Review of Love Affair

Dramatic Love Story at Park
Published: April 8, 1939

A romance moratorium at six months, designed to prove that two people are worthy of each other's love, is the basis for much of the drama in "Love Affair," co-starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer, at the Park. The story traces the lives of a sophisticated young lady and a Continental heart-breaker who fall in love on board a liner bound for New York, where a fiancé and a fiancée are waiting. Reluctant to forsake their chance at happiness with this one great love, the two break off the prior betrothals and embark on a six-month trial during which they give up their lives of ease for worthy careers, agreeing to meet on a given day to learn if their love has weathered the mutual sacrifice. A minute before the eventful meeting, however, destiny intervenes, making the young lady the victim of an auto accident. Believing she is permanently injured, she disappoints her lover, feeling her disabled condition may be an insuperable obstacle to their happiness. The evolution of this intriguing situation mounts to a touching, heart-tugging finish. Directed for RKO Radio by Leo McCarey, "Love Affair" features Maria Ouspenskaya, Lee Bowman, Astrid Allwyn and Maurice Moscovich in Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer's support.

Leonard Maltin Review

D: Leo McCarey. Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer, Maria Ouspenskaya, Lee Bowman, Astrid Allwyn, Maurice Moscovich, Joan Brodel (Leslie). Superior comedy-drama about shipboard romance whose continuation on-shore is interrupted by unforseen circumstances. Dunne and Boyer are a marvelous match. Screenplay by Delmer Daves and Donald Ogden Stewart, from story by Mildred Cram and Leo McCarey. Remade by McCarey as An Affair to Remember, and a second time (by Warren Beatty). Beware public domain copy with entirely new music score.

Meredy's Thoughts

My mother hooked me on classic films when I was a kid. She introduced me to An Affair to Remember when I was six or seven. By the time I was grown, I had seen it so often that I practically knew the script by heart.

I learned as a teen from one of my tons of film books that An Affair to Remember was a remake of Love Affair. In those days, there weren't any VCRs or DVRs. In fact, cable wasn't available in my area until I was 13 or so. We had a rooftop antenna and only received our local ABC station clearly. We also received CBS and NBC with snow. My choices for viewing classic films (weekends only) were the Late Show, the Late, Late Show, Million Dollar Movie and Sunday Afternoon at the Movies.

Thank goodness Love Affair was shown one Saturday night on the Late Show. When I saw the listing in TV Guide, I did a happy dance. It was an event. Mom and I baked a Chef Boyardee pizza (a must-try once in your life) and made super buttery popcorn (electric popcorn popper with oil and kernels, add the butter and salt after popping). We didn't have microwaves back then. Dad bought us Sun Drop soda pop as a treat. Yes, Sun Drop was a treat in the Stone Age.

My father, a John Wayne film buff, was definitely not into love stories. He ate a couple slices of pizza, a little popcorn and fell asleep in his chair.

Mom and I settled comfortably on the couch, munched, slurped and watched the flick. During commercials we discussed the portion of the film we had just viewed and became silent when the movie came back on.

I was surprised that she preferred Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr to Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne because we usually agreed on our film likes and dislikes.

The one thing we did agree on was our preference of Cathleen Nesbitt over Maria Ouspenskaya as the grandmother. Maria Ouspenskaya is too "gremlin-ish-looking" (my own word) to be Charles Boyer's grandmother. On the other hand, Cathleen Nesbitt is a classy-looking dame that could have been grandmère to Cary Grant.

When 1994's Love Affair came out, Mom and I were not excited. We both detest Warren Beatty. We saw it when it went to video and disliked it immensely. Even the great Katharine Hepburn couldn't save it.

Music from Love Affair

"Plaisir d'amour" (literally "the pleasure of love") is a classical French love song written in 1784 by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini (1741–1816); it took its text from a poem by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755–1794), which appears in his novel Célestine. Performed by Irene Dunne with Maria Ouspenskaya playing piano. Played often in the score.

"Sing My Heart" is a song composed by Harold Arlen, with lyrics written by Ted Koehler. It was written in 1939 for the movie Love Affair and first sung by Irene Dunne.

"Wishing (Will Make It So)" is a song written by George Gard "Buddy" DeSylva. It was written in 1939 for the movie Love Affair and first sung by Irene Dunne and the Robert Mitchell Boys Choir.

Love Affair on the Radio

Lux Radio Theatre
(April 1, 1940) :59:49
Irene Dunne and William Powell

Lux Radio Theatre
(July 6, 1942) :58:03
Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer

The Screen Guild Theater
(January 5, 1941) :30:25
Madeleine Carroll and Melvyn Douglas

The Screen Guild Theater
(October 11, 1943) :29:38
Herbert Marshall, Virginia Bruce, Luis Alberni

Theater of Romance
(December 11, 1945) :25:10
Van Johnson, Susan Peters, Lou Merrill

Watch Love Affair