One Mile from Heaven (1937)

68 mins | Drama | 13 August 1937

Director:

Allan Dwan

Cinematographer:

Sidney Wagner

Editor:

Fred Allen

Production Designer:

Bernard Herzbrun

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

According to modern sources, in 1899, Judge Benjamin B. Lindsey, who the story on which this film is based, wrote the statute that established, in Denver, the first juvenile court in the United States. As presiding judge of the Denver juvenile court from 1900 until 1927, Lindsey instituted many reforms for the treatment of juveniles. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library contains Lindsey's original story, which appears to be based on fact. According to his story, Lindsey was informed that a black woman in Denver was rearing a blonde six-year-old, who claimed to be the woman's daughter. Through his investigations, Lindsey learned that the woman worked for a midwife, and that one of her responsibilities, was to burn in a furnace the bodies of babies born dead. The child in question was born to a society debutante from Chicago, and the midwife, thinking that the baby was dead, gave it to her assistant. The black woman noticed that the baby was still alive, and she nursed it to health and reared it as her own. After the story appeared in the newspapers, the real mother claimed her child and agreed to have the black woman live with them. Commenting on possible reaction to controversial aspects of the film, Box noted, "Although the greatest care and judgment must be exercised in exploiting this film to prevent any friction from developing over the highly detonous phases in which it cautiously touches on what appears to be racial inter-marriage, there is no reason it cannot be good box office, for it carries a tremendous appeal to all ... More Less

According to modern sources, in 1899, Judge Benjamin B. Lindsey, who the story on which this film is based, wrote the statute that established, in Denver, the first juvenile court in the United States. As presiding judge of the Denver juvenile court from 1900 until 1927, Lindsey instituted many reforms for the treatment of juveniles. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library contains Lindsey's original story, which appears to be based on fact. According to his story, Lindsey was informed that a black woman in Denver was rearing a blonde six-year-old, who claimed to be the woman's daughter. Through his investigations, Lindsey learned that the woman worked for a midwife, and that one of her responsibilities, was to burn in a furnace the bodies of babies born dead. The child in question was born to a society debutante from Chicago, and the midwife, thinking that the baby was dead, gave it to her assistant. The black woman noticed that the baby was still alive, and she nursed it to health and reared it as her own. After the story appeared in the newspapers, the real mother claimed her child and agreed to have the black woman live with them. Commenting on possible reaction to controversial aspects of the film, Box noted, "Although the greatest care and judgment must be exercised in exploiting this film to prevent any friction from developing over the highly detonous phases in which it cautiously touches on what appears to be racial inter-marriage, there is no reason it cannot be good box office, for it carries a tremendous appeal to all women." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
31 Jul 1937.
---
Daily Variety
15 Jul 37
p. 3.
Film Daily
20 Jul 37
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Mar 37
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Mar 37
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 37
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 37
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
17 Jul 37
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
17 Apr 37
p. 41.
Motion Picture Herald
24 Jul 37
p. 47, 50
New York Times
19 Aug 37
p. 23.
Variety
21 Jul 1937.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Exec prod
WRITERS
Orig story
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on "The Koudenhoffen Case" by Judge Ben B. Lindsey and Wainwright Evans in their book The Revolt of Modern Youth (New York, 1925).
DETAILS
Release Date:
13 August 1937
Production Date:
15 March--early April 1937
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
13 August 1937
Copyright Number:
LP7681
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
68
Length(in feet):
6,144
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
PCA No:
3224
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After she beats three male reporters from rival papers in a poker game, Lucy "Tex" Warren is tricked by them into going to a junk shop in a black neighborhood in search of a bogus murder story. While she watches with admiration as Officer Joe Dudley tap-dances with some children, Tex notices a little white girl named Sunny, whom Flora Jackson, a black seamstress, claims is her daughter. When Tex reports the incident, her editor arranges for a juvenile court hearing, and the judge postpones judgment until an investigation can be conducted. Tex offers to help Flora if she will answer her questions, but the three rival reporters invade Flora's house, and one steals a photo of Flora with Sunny as an infant. The reporters locate the photographer and then the hospital where Flora gave birth to her child. After they examine the hospital's records, their papers publish stories with the picture and state that the child really is Flora's. In prison, convict Jim Tabor notices the picture in a newspaper and tells his cellmate, Moxie McGrath, who is to be released the next day, that Sunny is the child of his deceased pal, Cliff Lucas. Tabor convinces Moxie that they can make a lot of money if Moxie can get a gun to him. After he gets out, Moxie sends Tabor a gun, but he also informs the warden of Tabor's planned escape, and Tabor is gunned down as he makes his escape attempt. Moxie then drives to Flora's home with his cohort Johnny and says that they came from the juvenile court to take the child. Tex also arrives, ... +


After she beats three male reporters from rival papers in a poker game, Lucy "Tex" Warren is tricked by them into going to a junk shop in a black neighborhood in search of a bogus murder story. While she watches with admiration as Officer Joe Dudley tap-dances with some children, Tex notices a little white girl named Sunny, whom Flora Jackson, a black seamstress, claims is her daughter. When Tex reports the incident, her editor arranges for a juvenile court hearing, and the judge postpones judgment until an investigation can be conducted. Tex offers to help Flora if she will answer her questions, but the three rival reporters invade Flora's house, and one steals a photo of Flora with Sunny as an infant. The reporters locate the photographer and then the hospital where Flora gave birth to her child. After they examine the hospital's records, their papers publish stories with the picture and state that the child really is Flora's. In prison, convict Jim Tabor notices the picture in a newspaper and tells his cellmate, Moxie McGrath, who is to be released the next day, that Sunny is the child of his deceased pal, Cliff Lucas. Tabor convinces Moxie that they can make a lot of money if Moxie can get a gun to him. After he gets out, Moxie sends Tabor a gun, but he also informs the warden of Tabor's planned escape, and Tabor is gunned down as he makes his escape attempt. Moxie then drives to Flora's home with his cohort Johnny and says that they came from the juvenile court to take the child. Tex also arrives, and after Joe tells the men that they must have a court order to take the child, Tex gets their license plate number as they leave. Tex follows them to a hotel, where she overhears Moxie call Lucas' former wife Barbara, who is celebrating her first anniversary to oilman Jerry Harrison. Moxie tells Barbara that her child, whom she thought was dead, is alive and that she can have her back if she brings $15,000 to a meeting place in a park. Tex goes to the park and sees Barbara get into a car with Moxie and Johnny. Barbara tells them that she could not get the money in time and instead offers jewels. When Johnny notices that Tex is following, Moxie pushes Barbara out of the car. Tex then calls the police and reports that her car has been stolen, giving the license plate number of Moxie's car. After the crooks' car is spotted, Moxie shoots at the police pursuing them. One of the officers shoots the tire of Moxie's car, and it crashes over a bridge, killing Moxie and Johnny. At the hearing, Barbara explains that after she secretly married Lucas, she learned that he was a criminal and tried to run away with her baby, but Lucas followed. Barbara's car crashed into a lake, and she was told that her daughter drowned. In reality, Lucas rescued the baby and had Flora, who worked at his boardinghouse, take care of her. When Lucas was killed by police, Flora did not want the baby to go to an orphanage, so she reared her as her own. Seeing Flora's strong attachment to Sunny, Barbara asks Flora to live with them as a nurse. The judge forbids Tex to publish her story, feeling that the notoriety would negatively affect Sunny. When the other reporters lock Tex into their room and demand her story, she types out a false story and then, as if she is not satisfied with her prose, throws the paper away. The reporters retrieve the paper, and their newspapers print a story that claims Sunny's real parents were a diva and a count who drowned in a car accident. The reporters are jailed for libel, and Tex visits them to say that she is returning to Waco, Texas to be the society editor of the Cattleman's Daily Bugle . She then attends a party at the Harrison estate attended by Sunny's friends from Maple Heights. Flora plans to marry Joe, who, due to Jerry's intervention, has been transferred to their area of town. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.