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Monday, August 05, 2013

Enterprise Back In The Tank


Stanwyck's Postwar Dark Victory: The Other Love (1947)

Another from the Enterprise Studio's doomed battalion of independent pics that lost money despite plentiful effort and ambition. The chronicle of loss is well described at several places: a book-length interview with director Andre DeToth by Anthony Slide, producer David Lewis' career as told by Lewis and James Curtis in The Creative Producer (Scarecrow Press), and Allen Eyles' expert dissection of Enterprise and what went wrong for that postwar venture (Focus On Film # 35). The Other Love was meant to out-lush MGM at emotional story-telling, a variant on Dark Victory with Barbara Stanwyck in denial over Dr. David Niven's grim prognosis. Stanwyck was down for a percentage of net, her participation the whole reason the show went forward. United Artists agreed to distribute The Other Love and other Enterprise pics for a twenty-five percent fee, but UA had its own troubles and couldn't make a most even of good product.


The Other Love gets by for Swiss-set drama where they couldn't go to Switzerland (there were limits even at free-spending Enterprise). DeToth thought Lewis was incompetent as a producer, Lewis saying Stanwyck cut dialogue to bone and wouldn't perform beyond a set number of takes. Eyles wrote of two endings, one for us, with the sadder being Euro-served. The Other Love is watchable, given patience. There's nothing of real life to it, this at a time when Hollywood needed at least semblance of honesty with a war over and  public turn-away from dream merchandise. The Other Love took a million in domestic rentals but needed more to break even. Enterprise-backing Bank Of America would assume custody of negatives the company accumulated and try reissuing some before a 1953 dump to TV. The Other Love actually came back that year as Man Killer, though how such a title derived is anyone but a desperate marketer's guess.

1 Comments:

Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer reflects on "The Other Love" as it compares to "Dark Victory" and "Letter From An Unknown Woman":


The percentage of the net profits was no doubt attractive to Stanwyck when she signed on to "The Other Love," but what must have sold her on it was the pronounced resemblance to "Dark Victory," the film that had been a great success for Bette Davis. Stanwyck had campaigned for the part of Judith Traherne when David O. Selznick owned "Dark Victory," but Selznick couldn't come up with a filmable screenplay and eventually sold the property to Warner Bros. It's odd, then, to read of her refusing to perform beyond a set number of takes. Her reputation was as the consummate professional. Profits aside, however, she didn't have her money in the production, and maybe that made a difference. Or maybe she realized that the Karen Duncan of "The Other Love" was not as much like Judith Traherne as she thought, especially when the version released in America hadn't the courage even to let her die the death that was only what the entire story had been leading to.

Another year in another place, and Joan Fontaine was making "Letter from an Unknown Woman," frightened by the demands of the role of Lisa Berndle. It was for her own company, Rampart Productions, and she wanted to do something of a quality far removed from the mediocrities that Selznick had assigned her to when she was under contract to him. But maybe she had taken on too much. She entrusted herself to the director, Max Ophuls, and did whatever he asked of her. He asked a lot and got even more.

What did it mean, though, when both films failed at the box office? "The Other Love" was a nail in the coffin for Enterprise Studios, while "Letter" was the coffin for Rampart. Perhaps only this, that "The Other Love" can pass the time away, while "Letter from an Unknown Woman" is a timeless masterpiece. After the books are closed and the studios no more, all that remains are those qualities apart from any bottom line measured in money.

Daniel

9:21 PM  

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