That Uncertain Feeling (1941)

85 or 89 mins | Romantic comedy | 20 April 1941

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HISTORY

Although Fritz Feld is included as a cast member on HR production charts, his name is not listed on the film's credits or in reviews, and his appearance in the completed film is doubtful. According to a NYT article dated 15 Dec 1940, director Ernst Lubitsch, who had formed Ernst Lubitsch Productions, Inc. with Sol Lesser in 1939, bought the rights to the French play Divorçons, in addition to four adaptations, from Paramount Pictures for $27,000, and then proceeded to "ignore them all."
       That Uncertain Feeling was the first of two films Lubitsch and Lesser planned to make for distribution by United Artists. According to a modern interview with Lesser, Lubitsch found that he disliked working as an "independent" and missed the close contacts he enjoyed with stars and other professional colleagues during his tenure at M-G-M. Lesser and Lubitsch agreed to end their partnership when reviews and box office receipts for That Uncertain Feeling proved disappointing, and Lubitsch Productions was dissolved in 1943. The film was nominated for a 1941 Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Dramatic Picture.
       Four previous adaptations of Sardou's play had been filmed: 1915's Divorçons , produced by Biograph and distributed by General Film Co.; 1918's Let's Get a Divorce , a Famous Players-Lasky Corp. production directed by Charles Giblyn and starring Billie Burke and John Miltern (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.1059, F1.2455); 1925's Kiss Me Again , a Warner Bros. film directed by Lubitsch and starring Marie Prevost and Monte Blue; and 1927's Don't Tell the Wife , another Warner Bros. version ... More Less

Although Fritz Feld is included as a cast member on HR production charts, his name is not listed on the film's credits or in reviews, and his appearance in the completed film is doubtful. According to a NYT article dated 15 Dec 1940, director Ernst Lubitsch, who had formed Ernst Lubitsch Productions, Inc. with Sol Lesser in 1939, bought the rights to the French play Divorçons, in addition to four adaptations, from Paramount Pictures for $27,000, and then proceeded to "ignore them all."
       That Uncertain Feeling was the first of two films Lubitsch and Lesser planned to make for distribution by United Artists. According to a modern interview with Lesser, Lubitsch found that he disliked working as an "independent" and missed the close contacts he enjoyed with stars and other professional colleagues during his tenure at M-G-M. Lesser and Lubitsch agreed to end their partnership when reviews and box office receipts for That Uncertain Feeling proved disappointing, and Lubitsch Productions was dissolved in 1943. The film was nominated for a 1941 Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Dramatic Picture.
       Four previous adaptations of Sardou's play had been filmed: 1915's Divorçons , produced by Biograph and distributed by General Film Co.; 1918's Let's Get a Divorce , a Famous Players-Lasky Corp. production directed by Charles Giblyn and starring Billie Burke and John Miltern (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.1059, F1.2455); 1925's Kiss Me Again , a Warner Bros. film directed by Lubitsch and starring Marie Prevost and Monte Blue; and 1927's Don't Tell the Wife , another Warner Bros. version (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.2896, F2.1411). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
22 Mar 1941.
---
Daily Variety
27 Mar 41
p. 3, 11
Film Daily
14 Mar 41
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 1940.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 1940.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Mar 41
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
14 Mar 1941.
---
Motion Picture Herald
22 Mar 41
p. 36, 39
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Jan 41
p. 46.
New York Times
15 Dec 40
p. 7.
New York Times
2 May 41
p. 25.
Variety
19 Mar 41
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2nd asst dir
PRODUCERS
Pres
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set int
COSTUMES
Miss Oberon's gowns
Miss Oberon's jewelry
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd tech
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod asst
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Divorçons by Victorien Sardou and Emile de Najac (Paris, 6 Dec 1880).
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 April 1941
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Des Moines, Iowa: 17 April 1941
Production Date:
late-October--mid December 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Ernst Lubitsch Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 February 1941
Copyright Number:
LP10301
Duration(in mins):
85 or 89
Length(in feet):
7,572
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
6997
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Suffering from insomnia and an acute case of hiccups, New York City socialite Jill Baker, the wife of an ambitious insurance executive, consults with the eminent psychoanalyst Dr. Vengard. Although Jill and her husband Larry are known to their Park Avenue social set as "the happy Bakers," Jill becomes distressed when Dr. Vengard questions her about her marriage, and, by the time she leaves his office, her hiccups have returned. At home, Jill faces the fact that her marriage is less than ideal when Larry, obsessed with his work, returns from the office and fails to notice that Jill has spent the entire day at the beauty salon. Jill, unable to convey her unhappiness, coolly asks Larry to stop poking her in the stomach while exclaiming "keek," a habit he thinks is endearing, but she finds annoying. On her next visit to Dr. Vengard, Jill meets a fellow patient, the cynical and brooding pianist Alexander Sebastian, who is being treated for "artistic inhibition." Sebastian, a misanthrope who habitually expresses his disdain for the world by muttering "pfui!" to himself, teases Jill after he spies a photograph of "the happy Bakers" in a society gossip magazine. Jill, fascinated by Sebastian's disregard for social conventions, accepts his invitation to a nearby art gallery. Impressed by Sebastian's worldliness, Jill invites him to a dinner party she is hosting for one of Larry's prospective clients, a Hungarian mattress manufacturer to whom Larry hopes to sell a large insurance policy. Although Sebastian insults Larry's taste in home decor and interrupts his sales pitch with his piano playing, the evening is a great success. However, after Larry goes to ... +


Suffering from insomnia and an acute case of hiccups, New York City socialite Jill Baker, the wife of an ambitious insurance executive, consults with the eminent psychoanalyst Dr. Vengard. Although Jill and her husband Larry are known to their Park Avenue social set as "the happy Bakers," Jill becomes distressed when Dr. Vengard questions her about her marriage, and, by the time she leaves his office, her hiccups have returned. At home, Jill faces the fact that her marriage is less than ideal when Larry, obsessed with his work, returns from the office and fails to notice that Jill has spent the entire day at the beauty salon. Jill, unable to convey her unhappiness, coolly asks Larry to stop poking her in the stomach while exclaiming "keek," a habit he thinks is endearing, but she finds annoying. On her next visit to Dr. Vengard, Jill meets a fellow patient, the cynical and brooding pianist Alexander Sebastian, who is being treated for "artistic inhibition." Sebastian, a misanthrope who habitually expresses his disdain for the world by muttering "pfui!" to himself, teases Jill after he spies a photograph of "the happy Bakers" in a society gossip magazine. Jill, fascinated by Sebastian's disregard for social conventions, accepts his invitation to a nearby art gallery. Impressed by Sebastian's worldliness, Jill invites him to a dinner party she is hosting for one of Larry's prospective clients, a Hungarian mattress manufacturer to whom Larry hopes to sell a large insurance policy. Although Sebastian insults Larry's taste in home decor and interrupts his sales pitch with his piano playing, the evening is a great success. However, after Larry goes to bed, Sebastian serenades Jill on the piano until dawn, and then kisses her. As Jill begins to immerse herself in art and music, her insomnia and hiccups disappear, but Larry grows worried that he might lose her to Sebastian. Jones, Larry's sympathetic attorney and friend, tells him to forget about insurance policies and work on selling himself to his wife before it is too late. That afternoon, Larry comes home early unexpectedly and is furious to find the obnoxious Sebastian wooing Jill under his own roof. Realizing that Jill is blindly infatuated by Sebastian's self-proclaimed artistic genius, Larry uses reverse psychology and pretends that he is willing to give her up, claiming that he too has become involved with another woman. After consulting a divorce lawyer, Larry moves into a hotel and Jill installs Sebastian in their apartment, where he spends most of his time pounding on the piano and complaining. When Sebastian leaves the apartment to pout after a petty argument, Jill, weary of his temper tantrums, visits Larry and begs for another chance, but Larry, wishing to make Jill suffer just a bit more, pretends that he has a woman in his room and is currently unavailable. As she is about to leave, Jill discovers to her delight that Larry is lying and, now certain that he still loves her, asks him for a farewell kiss, knowing that he will be unable to resist. Returning to the Baker apartment late that night, Sebastian begins loudly playing the piano in the dark and is shocked when Larry emerges from the bedroom in his pajamas to request that he play more softly. After collecting the numerous photographs of himself scattered about the Bakers' living room, Sebastian leaves in a huff, muttering one final "pfui!" on his way out. Larry locks the door securely behind him and then returns to Jill's awaiting arms. +

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.