Unfinished Business (1941)

96 mins | Comedy-drama | 12 September 1941

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HISTORY

News items in HR and LAT state that this was the first film that noted producer/director Gregory LaCava made for Universal under a "special" one-picture contract. According to HR , actress Irene Dunne worked under a similar one-picture commitment. Contemporary reviewers conjectured that the film was based on an original story by LaCava, and that speculation was confirmed by SAB credits. NYT commented in Jun 1942 that actor Robert Montgomery's 15 Jul 1941 commitment to active service in the U.S. Navy forced early production of this film. HR reported on Mar 1941 that radio soprano Nadine Connor would sing excerpts from Friedrich von Flotow's Martha for this production; although a selection from that opera was performed in the film, her participation in the final film has not been confirmed. The Var reviewer noted a similarity between the character of "Billy Ross" and the real-life impresario Billy Rose. Irene Dunne reprised her role in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 6 Oct 1941, co-starring Don ... More Less

News items in HR and LAT state that this was the first film that noted producer/director Gregory LaCava made for Universal under a "special" one-picture contract. According to HR , actress Irene Dunne worked under a similar one-picture commitment. Contemporary reviewers conjectured that the film was based on an original story by LaCava, and that speculation was confirmed by SAB credits. NYT commented in Jun 1942 that actor Robert Montgomery's 15 Jul 1941 commitment to active service in the U.S. Navy forced early production of this film. HR reported on Mar 1941 that radio soprano Nadine Connor would sing excerpts from Friedrich von Flotow's Martha for this production; although a selection from that opera was performed in the film, her participation in the final film has not been confirmed. The Var reviewer noted a similarity between the character of "Billy Ross" and the real-life impresario Billy Rose. Irene Dunne reprised her role in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 6 Oct 1941, co-starring Don Ameche. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
30 Aug 1941.
---
Daily Variety
15 Aug 41
p. 3.
Film Daily
27 Aug 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jan 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Feb 41
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 41
p. 3.
Life
15 Sep 41
pp. 75-77.
Los Angeles Examiner
31 Oct 1941.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Oct 1940.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
28 Jun 41
p. 172.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
30 Aug 41
p. 233.
New York Herald Tribune
7 Sep 1941.
---
New York Times
2 Sep 41
p. 20.
New York Times
7 Jun 1942.
---
Variety
27 Aug 41
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Gregory LaCava Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
WRITERS
Orig story
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Cost
Miss Dunne's cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
Gen mus dir
SOUND
Sd tech
SOURCES
SONGS
"I Love Thee," music by Edvard Grieg, lyrics by Henry G. Chapman
"When You and I Were Young, Maggie," music by James Austin Butterfield, lyrics by George W. Johnson
"Happy Birthday to You," music by Mildred J. Hill, lyrics by Patty Smith Hill
+
SONGS
"I Love Thee," music by Edvard Grieg, lyrics by Henry G. Chapman
"When You and I Were Young, Maggie," music by James Austin Butterfield, lyrics by George W. Johnson
"Happy Birthday to You," music by Mildred J. Hill, lyrics by Patty Smith Hill
excerpts from the opera Martha, oder Der Markt von Richmond , music by Friedrich von Flotow, libretto by Friedrich Wilhelm Riese.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 September 1941
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 1 September 1941
Production Date:
3 February--early April 1941
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
26 August 1941
Copyright Number:
LP10683
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
96
Length(in feet):
8,599
Country:
United States
PCA No:
7326
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After the wedding of her younger sister in their small hometown of Messina, Ohio, aspiring singer Nancy Andrews decides to seek adventure and romance in the big city. On a train to New York City, she meets wealthy Steve Duncan, who sees her as a mere traveling diversion. She, however, falls in love with him, only to learn later the playboy's true intentions. After failing at an audition for the Metropolitan Opera Company, Nancy is told that, while her voice is good, it is best suited to nightclub performing. She then gets a job as a phone operator who does singing telegrams. When she sings "Happy Birthday" to nightclub impresario Billy Ross, he immediately hires her to be his singing operator. At Ross's nightclub, Nancy is asked to sing "Happy Birthday" to Steve, who does not recognize her. Tommy Duncan, Steve's drunken younger lawyer brother, comes to the upset Nancy's rescue and takes her for a carriage ride in the park. After learning that Steve is engaged, Nancy begins seeing Tommy. On the day of his brother's wedding, Tommy proposes a marriage of convenience to Nancy, and the drunken pair elope to South Carolina. The next morning, Tommy awakens to learn of his marriage, and after a few weeks of living the high life, he discovers that he has fallen in love with his wife. Nancy, however, is still in love with Steve, and she rejects his desire for a more conventional marriage. Tommy convinces her to have a party for his family, during which Steve finally acknowledges his prior association with Nancy. Under the watchful eyes of Tommy's ex-girl ... +


After the wedding of her younger sister in their small hometown of Messina, Ohio, aspiring singer Nancy Andrews decides to seek adventure and romance in the big city. On a train to New York City, she meets wealthy Steve Duncan, who sees her as a mere traveling diversion. She, however, falls in love with him, only to learn later the playboy's true intentions. After failing at an audition for the Metropolitan Opera Company, Nancy is told that, while her voice is good, it is best suited to nightclub performing. She then gets a job as a phone operator who does singing telegrams. When she sings "Happy Birthday" to nightclub impresario Billy Ross, he immediately hires her to be his singing operator. At Ross's nightclub, Nancy is asked to sing "Happy Birthday" to Steve, who does not recognize her. Tommy Duncan, Steve's drunken younger lawyer brother, comes to the upset Nancy's rescue and takes her for a carriage ride in the park. After learning that Steve is engaged, Nancy begins seeing Tommy. On the day of his brother's wedding, Tommy proposes a marriage of convenience to Nancy, and the drunken pair elope to South Carolina. The next morning, Tommy awakens to learn of his marriage, and after a few weeks of living the high life, he discovers that he has fallen in love with his wife. Nancy, however, is still in love with Steve, and she rejects his desire for a more conventional marriage. Tommy convinces her to have a party for his family, during which Steve finally acknowledges his prior association with Nancy. Under the watchful eyes of Tommy's ex-girl friend Clarisse and Steve's wife Sheila, Nancy kisses Steve. Tommy is then told of Steve and Nancy's previous relationship and goes on an all-night drinking binge. Later, after joining the Army, Tommy returns home on a two-week leave, and is convinced by his aunt Mathilda to go to the opera. There, Tommy discovers Nancy, who has been separated from him for over a year, singing in the chorus. After the performance, the now-sober Tommy meets Nancy, who tells him that she is still in love with Steve in one way, but in love with him in another. At his law office, Tommy is arranging for a divorce when Steve arrives. When his brother refuses to listen to him, Steve goes to see Nancy, who suddenly realizes that she no longer has any interest in him. Tommy then arrives and challenges his brother to a fight for his wife's honor. After knocking Steve down, a baby begins to cry and Tommy learns that he has a son. The couple is finally reunited, and as Nancy leaves her apartment, she finds a pair of Steve's gloves on her trunk and throws them on the floor. +

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.