Classic movie site with rare images (no web grabs!), original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
grbrpix@aol.com
Search Index Here




Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fox Selling Them On Wartime Terms


Are These What We Were Fighting For?

September and October 1943 were deep in the war. An end was not in sight, and who knew how long we'd fight? A movie to be relevant had to address the conflict somehow. That would change as audiences got sick of war in every reel, but for now, all eyes and hearts were focused on victory and how it might be achieved. Features not dwelling on the struggle were often held back from release pending outcome of the war, a glut caused by popular product enjoying longer than ever runs. Heaven Can Wait was an Ernst Lubitsch comedy in period dress, being topical to gas-lit era and no time else. So what did this have to do with winning the war, asked 20th's institutional ad published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer? "A nation that can laugh is a nation that will win," was Fox answer, "Buy More Bonds!" a footnote, along with names of Fox personnel in uniform (John Ford among them). And lest our fighting force be ignored, we're assured that they too will enjoy Heaven Can Wait at far-flung battlefronts. Claudia stands for a homefront defended, fresh-face Dorothy McGuire the sort of girl waiting for warriors to return. Claudia was a stage-derived, bucolic-set domestic comedy as far away from battle tension as it was possible to be. Maybe that had something to do with the show's success, and immediate demand for a sequel. Note upcoming Fox product touted in both ads, including the never made One World, to be produced by Zanuck and based on Wendell Willkie's "great book."

5 Comments:

Blogger kenneth Von Gunden said...

Heaven Can Wait is a favorite that I'll dip into anytime it's on. For a while there was some confusion as the remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan was inexplicably renamed Heaven Can Wait. Not a bad film, but discovering it is not the Robert Montgomery classic is like biting into a creme puff and discovering butterscotch instead of vanilla cream.
The wolf, man.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Joshua said...

@Kenneth: If you think that's confusing, consider that there was a sequel to Here Comes Mr. Jordan titled Down to Earth. Two years after Warren Beatty's Heaven Can Wait, there was a remake of Down to Earth, but it wasn't a sequel to Warren Beatty's Heaven Can Wait. (That would be Xanadu.) And in 2001, there was a remake of Warren Beatty's Heaven Can Wait ... which was titled Down to Earth.

2:22 AM  
Blogger kenneth Von Gunden said...

Whew.... Hollywood.

The wolf, man.

10:01 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Just in from Griff ---


Dear John:

kenneth Von Gunden writes, "For a while there was some confusion as the remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan was inexplicably renamed Heaven Can Wait."

This did cause some confusion -- after all, there was already a great movie named HEAVEN CAN WAIT -- but the titling of the MR. JORDAN remake wasn't really inexplicable. The source material for HERE COMES MR. JORDAN is Harry Segall's 1938 play Heaven Can Wait. [How Segall came to win the 1941 Oscar for JORDAN's original story remains a mystery; the picture is clearly an adaptation of the author's existing play, although I'm not sure whether the show had been produced before Columbia bought it.] I believe Warren Beatty felt reverting to the work's original title would help differentiate his remake from JORDAN (He'd already acquired remake rights for the movie from Columbia -- getting rights to the play's title from Fox was probably a simple matter). To add yet another title of this thing to the mix, Segall's play had a brief Broadway run in 1946 as Wonderful Journey.

I think JORDAN is a very good movie -- well-constructed and imaginative story, swell Montgomery and Gleason, great Rains. But I also like the '78 Beatty remake very much; it's wittily adapted and extremely well cast and acted. Beatty did originally try to get Muhammad Ali to play the Joe Pendleton character (hey, he was a boxer!) before eventually deciding to make the character a pro quarterback and play the part himself.* The actor-producer badly wanted Cary Grant to come out of retirement to play Mr. Jordan (he apparently thought about it, but demurred; Grant had also been approached to play the Pendleton role in 1941) and was also unsuccessful in persuading Robert Young to take the role. James Mason, who ultimately took the Jordan role, had mixed feelings about his performance (he felt uncomfortable with the part, which reminded him of his angelic character in the uneven FOREVER, DARLING, and worried about comparisons to Rains' top 1941 turn), but he's very good in the remake.


I have seen various references to Zanuck's planned ONE WORLD in a number of books as well as movie ads like these. What remains unclear to me is any idea of what the never made film might have been like. The Wilkie book -- a very big best-seller back in the day -- is essentially the politician's account of some of his meetings and discussions with both eminent leaders and ordinary citizens around the world and his thinking that everyone's lives are now inter-linked and how we need to now contemplate a form of world government. Yep, feature films were crafted from a number of topical non-fiction works during the war. De Seversky's Victory through Air Power sort of lent itself to a visualized lecture by the famous flier (enlivened and augmented by extensive use of Disney animation). Davies' Mission to Moscow, his memoir of his years as U.S. Ambassador to Russia, was transmuted by Warners into a large scale (and positive) dramatization of contemporary Soviet life, viewed through the eyes and perspective Davies and his family. But I just don't know how Zanuck and his writers might have seen Wilkie's thoughtful, populist (and far-ranging) work as a movie. Wilkie's 1944 passing (as well as changing political attitudes) probably rendered Zanuck's plans for the film moot, but I remain curious as to what he might have had in mind here.

Regards,
-- Griff
____________________
* When Francis Ford Coppola was toying with the idea of remaking JORDAN in the late '60s, he was contemplating casting Bill Cosby in the Pendleton role.

5:17 PM  
Blogger kenneth Von Gunden said...

I love this site! You guys know your stuff.

The wolf, man.

3:47 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

grbrpix@aol.com
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016
  • October 2016
  • November 2016
  • December 2016
  • January 2017
  • February 2017
  • March 2017
  • April 2017
  • May 2017
  • June 2017
  • July 2017
  • August 2017
  • September 2017
  • October 2017
  • November 2017