Marriage Is a Private Affair (1944)

116 or 118 mins | Drama | October 1944

Director:

Robert Z. Leonard

Producer:

Pandro S. Berman

Cinematographers:

Ray June, Harold Rosson

Editor:

George White

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Hubert Hobson

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

Judith Kelly's novel was serialized in Ladies Home Journal between Mar and Sep 1941. According to MPAA/PCA records at the AMPAS Library, Warner Bros. first purchased Kelly's novel in 1941, but was unable to obtain PCA approval of the story. In a 30 Aug 1941 letter to Warner Bros. head Jack L. Warner, PCA director Joseph I. Breen stated that the novel was "unacceptable under the provisions of the Production Code" because of its "improper treatment of the institution of marriage" and its depiction of a heroine who is "guilty of adultery" without "compensating moral values." Breen also objected to the story's "illicit sex" and the fact that abortion--"not a fit subject for screen presentation even where, as in this case, it is recommended by a physician for the purpose of saving the heroine's life"--is discussed. Warner Bros. then sold the novel to M-G-M, but in Nov 1942, Breen rejected M-G-M's first attempt to adapt it, saying that while "the basic story (the preservation of a marriage) appears to be acceptable...the story as a whole is quite definitely unacceptable." Producer Pandro Berman and screenwriter Lenore Coffee worked with Breen on subsequent drafts of the script, making significant changes to the novel's plot. Breen gave his approval of the script in Jan 1943.
       Early 1942 HR news items reported that Ring Lardner, Jr. and Michael Kanin were assigned to write the film's script, but the contribution of these writers to the completed film has not been confirmed. According to information in M-G-M story files, playwright Tennessee Williams worked on a script outline and wrote "miscellaneous lines of dialogue" for the film in May ... More Less

Judith Kelly's novel was serialized in Ladies Home Journal between Mar and Sep 1941. According to MPAA/PCA records at the AMPAS Library, Warner Bros. first purchased Kelly's novel in 1941, but was unable to obtain PCA approval of the story. In a 30 Aug 1941 letter to Warner Bros. head Jack L. Warner, PCA director Joseph I. Breen stated that the novel was "unacceptable under the provisions of the Production Code" because of its "improper treatment of the institution of marriage" and its depiction of a heroine who is "guilty of adultery" without "compensating moral values." Breen also objected to the story's "illicit sex" and the fact that abortion--"not a fit subject for screen presentation even where, as in this case, it is recommended by a physician for the purpose of saving the heroine's life"--is discussed. Warner Bros. then sold the novel to M-G-M, but in Nov 1942, Breen rejected M-G-M's first attempt to adapt it, saying that while "the basic story (the preservation of a marriage) appears to be acceptable...the story as a whole is quite definitely unacceptable." Producer Pandro Berman and screenwriter Lenore Coffee worked with Breen on subsequent drafts of the script, making significant changes to the novel's plot. Breen gave his approval of the script in Jan 1943.
       Early 1942 HR news items reported that Ring Lardner, Jr. and Michael Kanin were assigned to write the film's script, but the contribution of these writers to the completed film has not been confirmed. According to information in M-G-M story files, playwright Tennessee Williams worked on a script outline and wrote "miscellaneous lines of dialogue" for the film in May and Jun 1943, but the extent of his contribution to the completed film has not been determined. Marriage Is a Private Affair may have been his first writing assignment for motion pictures.
       Although Ray June is credited onscreen as photographer, Hal Rosson is listed as cameraman in HR production charts and news items. In early Sep 1941, George Cukor was announced as the film's director and Robert Taylor and Myrna Loy were announced as the stars. In mid-Jan 1943, shortly before the start of principal photography, HR announced that Fred Zinnemann was to direct the picture and Gene Kelly was to co-star with Lana Turner. Marriage Is a Private Affair marked Turner's return to the screen after an eighteen-month maternity leave. Although a Nov 1943 HR news item announced that she was to sing onscreen for the first time, no songs were included in the picture. HR also listed Donna Reed in the role of "temptress Mary Lou," but she did not appear in the completed picture. Paul Langton, Bill Phillips, Margaret Adams, Lorraine Miller, Betty Blythe and Eddie Hall were announced as cast members in HR , but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Douglas Fowley was also announced as a cast member, but his participation in the final film is doubtful. Eddie Acuff is listed in CBCS in the role of "Major Bob Wilton," but that part was played by Keenan Wynn.
       According to HR news items, Marriage Is a Private Affair was the first Hollywood film to have a world premiere specifically for U.S. combat forces overseas. Turner made a personal appearance at the premiere, which modern sources note took place on 23 Sep 1944 at a theater in Naples, Italy. In Oct 1944, after it had played in theaters for four days, the Cincinnati censor board decided to ban the film, according to HR . Modern sources credit Sydney Guilaroff as Turner's hair stylist on the film. Actress Natalie Schafer, who plays Turner's mother in the picture, also played her mother on the 1969-70 television series The Survivors . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Aug 1944.
---
Daily Variety
15 Aug 44
p. 3.
Film Daily
23 Aug 44
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Sep 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jan 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 43
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 44
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 44
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Feb 44
, 16120
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 44
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
5 May 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 44
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 44
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 44
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Mar 44
p. 1806.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 Aug 44
p. 2053.
New York Times
27 Oct 44
p. 17.
Variety
16 Aug 44
p. 16.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Rev. Neal Dodd
Alexander D'Arcy
Katharine Booth
Fred Beckner
Sayre Deering
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Robert Z. Leonard Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
2d cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost supv
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
Unit mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
Mus mixer
Mus mixer
Mus mixer
Mus mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Matte paintings
Matte paintings cam
Transparency projection shots
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
STAND INS
Baby impersonator
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Marriage Is a Private Affair by Judith Kelly (New York, 1941).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
October 1944
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 26 October 1944
Production Date:
mid January--early April 1944
addl scenes 4 May 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
22 July 1944
Copyright Number:
LP186
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
116 or 118
Length(in feet):
10,487
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
PCA No:
10078
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

As she is about to utter her wedding vows, young, wealthy Theo Scofield recalls how she came to be standing at the altar: At a New York officers' club, Theo is proposed to by pilot Lt. Tom Cochrane West, whom she has known for only three days. Theo, whose capricious mother Irene is working on her fourth marriage, agrees to marry Tom if he can prove that he was born under a Vermont maple tree, as he has claimed. Soon after, Theo receives a maple leaf in the mail from Tom, and over the objections of her mother, who thinks that the Boston-bred Tom is "stuffy," Theo declares herself engaged. Believing that Theo is not ready for marriage, Capt. Miles Lancing, her longtime admirer, advises her not to go through with the wedding, but she dismisses his concerns. Back at the wedding, Theo and Tom are pronounced man and wife, and Theo is reintroduced to her father, whom she has not seen in fifteen years. Like Miles, Mr. Scofield senses that Theo is marrying for the wrong reasons, but wishes her well. Later, during their idyllic Vermont honeymoon, Theo and Tom, who is to report for active duty soon, learn what they can about each other. While assuring Tom that she wants to grow old with him, Theo expresses doubts about her "staying power." Tom, however, insists that their marriage will last as long as they trust each other. After the honeymoon is cut short by the death of Tom's father, Tom learns that his commission has been made inactive. The Army asks Tom, a lens designer, to return to his father's optical ... +


As she is about to utter her wedding vows, young, wealthy Theo Scofield recalls how she came to be standing at the altar: At a New York officers' club, Theo is proposed to by pilot Lt. Tom Cochrane West, whom she has known for only three days. Theo, whose capricious mother Irene is working on her fourth marriage, agrees to marry Tom if he can prove that he was born under a Vermont maple tree, as he has claimed. Soon after, Theo receives a maple leaf in the mail from Tom, and over the objections of her mother, who thinks that the Boston-bred Tom is "stuffy," Theo declares herself engaged. Believing that Theo is not ready for marriage, Capt. Miles Lancing, her longtime admirer, advises her not to go through with the wedding, but she dismisses his concerns. Back at the wedding, Theo and Tom are pronounced man and wife, and Theo is reintroduced to her father, whom she has not seen in fifteen years. Like Miles, Mr. Scofield senses that Theo is marrying for the wrong reasons, but wishes her well. Later, during their idyllic Vermont honeymoon, Theo and Tom, who is to report for active duty soon, learn what they can about each other. While assuring Tom that she wants to grow old with him, Theo expresses doubts about her "staying power." Tom, however, insists that their marriage will last as long as they trust each other. After the honeymoon is cut short by the death of Tom's father, Tom learns that his commission has been made inactive. The Army asks Tom, a lens designer, to return to his father's optical company, because its new head, Joseph I. Murdock, Tom's alcoholic, childhood friend, has been deemed unreliable. Tom is greatly disappointed by the news, and Joe vows to improve his performance for Tom's sake. Theo, too, is taken aback by the change in plans, as she realizes that she must fulfill Tom's dreams of a cozy Boston home sooner than expected. Tom's other childhood friends, Sissy and Ted Mortimer, assure Theo that she will succeed, and a few months later, Theo announces that she is pregnant. Theo struggles to be a good mother to Tommy, Jr., but is consumed with worries and doubts. On the day of Tommy's first birthday, Theo runs into Miles and learns that he has been stationed in Boston. Theo invites him over, but he politely declines, and Theo, feeling rejected, rushes to see Tom at work. Theo bursts into Tom's lens laboratory and ruins the delicate experiment on which he has been working. Exhausted, Tom yells at her, then reveals that Joe has disappeared on an apparent "bender." After Tom tells her that he will be late for Tommy, Jr.'s birthday party, Theo goes to the local officers' club in a sexy gown and flirts with a receptive Miles. When Miles asks her why she came, Theo confesses that she wanted to make him "crawl," but is now feeling remorseful. Just then, Tom arrives at the club, furious that, after he had managed to get home early, he found Theo gone. Back at home, the couple continues to argue and misses celebrating Tommy's birthday. The next day, Theo goes to see Sissy for advice and runs into Joe, who is also searching for Sissy. Theo insists that the scruffy Joe return to work, but when they stop at Joe's apartment for a change of clothes, they find Sissy there. Unaware of Theo's presence, Sissy throws herself into Joe's arms, confirming Theo's suspicion that she is having an affair with him. Sissy's adultery depresses Theo, who feels that if the upright Sissy cannot be faithful, no one can. Later, Tom apologizes to Theo for mistrusting her, and Theo admits that she went to the club to feel "attractive" again. When Tom makes reference to Ted and Sissy's "ideal" marriage, Theo cries, but refuses to tell Tom why. The next day, Tom finds Joe at the office and learns that he had gone to Vermont to marry his secret sweetheart but left her at the altar because of a "barrier" from his past. Tom insists on taking Joe back to Vermont and drops by his apartment to tell Theo he is going. After the housekeeper informs him that Theo has gone to the movies, Tom leaves a loving note for her on top of her pajamas. Theo has actually gone to Miles's apartment, and when Miles finally returns home late that night, he finds her asleep on his couch. Miles demands to know her intentions, but she claims she is hopelessly confused, infuriating him. Theo returns home at daybreak and does not see Tom's note. When Tom shows up later, he tells her that Joe has married and he and his bride will be coming for dinner that night. Sissy and Ted are also scheduled to come, and Theo is unable to warn Sissy about Joe's new wife. Sissy is devastated by the news and angrily reveals the affair to all during dinner. Later, Tom deduces that Theo never saw his note and accuses her of lying. Theo confesses she went to Miles's and, while insisting that nothing happened, also admits she doesn't know her own heart. Jealous and heartbroken, Tom leaves, and six months later, the now-separated Theo goes to San Francisco to spend time with her father before finalizing her divorce in Reno. There, she recalls her past loves and her romantic days with Tom. When Miles suddenly appears and proposes, Theo says she can never marry again, having learned that marriage is not an institution, but a "private affair." Realizing that she still loves Tom, whose commission was reinstated, Theo asks Miles to track him down. Through a series of monitored messengers, Theo finally reaches Tom in New Caledonia and, to his great joy, tells him she wants to stay married. +

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

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