Fox Makes It Soft, Sells It Hard
Take Care Of My Little Girl (1951) A Hot Bed Of Sin As Sold By 20th
Revenue was down enough by 1951 for stage shows to push movies down the bill. Take Care Of My Little Girl shared a New York Roxy date with an ice show and Rose Marie on stage. In
Zanuck was also for thinning ingénue talent developed since the war, or before. Soon to go off contract was Linda Darnell, with Jeanne Crain not far from freelancing. She'd been a fluke to many who measured stardom in terms of ability, being a wholesome face/figure, but subject to razz beyond that. To posit her as a recent high school grad fresh to college was turning back clocks, Crain twenty-six by now w/oodles of kids as reported by fan press. She also had played married women three and more years prior to this. Similar was case for Little Girl co-star Jean Peters, who had to view her part in regressing terms. Real interest of Take Care Of My Little Girl was lamp it shone on cruelty of Greek systems in general, Delta, Phi, Kappa, Sigma, the whole alphabet, in for harsh appraisal and left morally/ethically wanting. Had the source novel's author been snubbed by such a body and waited till now to even scores?
"Certain evils" of the fraternity and sorority system would be exposed, said Variety in December, 1950, as organized Greek orgs pressured Fox chief Spyros Skouras to shelve the pic, which was scheduled for 7/51 release. The group accused filmmakers of "Communistic-inspired propaganda, which would give comfort to the enemies of our country." Skouras stood fast, his reply suggesting that Take Care was stronger meat initially than what he'd finally release: "(It's) un-American, we think, to bar a girl from a sorority because she belongs to a certain religious faith, or happens not to dress as well as her sisters, or comes from the wrong side of the railroad tracks," this giving rise to speculation that Take Care Of My Little Girl might deal with issues of race, class, or anti-Semitism, as had previous Fox hits that swung social issue bat.
Greek pressure warned that five million strong of its membership would remember the insult. Their crusade died for realization that attendant publicity would only increase awareness of the film, carping likelier to draw sympathy away from organized Greek-dom. Query then: how accurate was Take Care depiction of sororities? The film might be instructive at colleges today, for such groups do still thrive. Interesting might be comparison with 28 years later National Lampoon's Animal House, the two joined at hip re themes of Greek snobbery and oppression. Take Care's sorority is a campus witches' coven, rituals not a little spooky. We could wonder why Jeanne Crain wants any part of such a base order. The finish endorses her response, as under circumstance of what's gone before, no girl of sound mind could take this pledge. In a way, it's not unlike final scenes of The Nun's Story six years later. Were/are sororities as cloistered as convents, minus vows of chastity?
Fox's pressbook for Take Care Of My Little Girl included two supplement ad sheets, a "special teaser ad supplement," plus an insert of four pages with "Special Additional Ads." These were on top of ads in the pressbook proper, an unusual instance of shifting sales gear in search of promotion that would work. Copy read like renegade bills operating outside the Code, "A Keyhole View Of Sorority Life" a line we'd expect of 30's exploitation, depth from which also sprang "What Every Parent Should Know ..." This was hardly a story to "Blow The Lid Off," but Fox prepared ads to sell as if it were, and what of "I Know What Goes On ... It Happened To Me" as caption to stricken Jeanne Crain? Exhibitors could choose from such and other options. Some took safe route, others electing art worse even than 20th supplements offered, like the Chicago Theatre at left with promise of "She-Wolves" operating "Behind The Locked Doors Of A Sorority." This was promise made that obviously wouldn't be delivered, so was it a wonder that customers backed increasingly off moviegoing for known quantity of free TV?