Cairo (1942)

101 mins | Comedy-drama | September 1942

Director:

W. S. Van Dyke

Writer:

John McClain

Cinematographer:

Ray June

Editor:

James E. Newcom

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of the film was Shadow of a Lady . The film opens with the following written dedication: "To the authors of 'spy' dramas--Those unsung heroes of the pen without whose inspiration international spies could not possibly be as clever as they are--This picture is irreverently dedicated." Several songs were included in a medley sung by Jeanette MacDonald, Ethel Waters and The King's Men quartet, among them "From the Land of Sky Blue Waters," music by Charles Wakefield Cadman, lyrics by Nelle Richmond Eberhart; "Beautiful Ohio," music by Robert A. King-Keiser (Mary Earl), lyrics by Ballard MacDonald; "Avalon," music by Al Jolson and Vincent Rose, lyrics by B. G. DeSylva, based on "E lucevan le stelle," from the opera Tosca , music by Giaocomo Puccini, libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica; and "Home, Sweet Home," music by Sir Henry Rowley Bishop, lyrics by John Howard Payne.
       According to news items, Lena Horne was originally cast in the role of "Cleo," but was replaced in the film after the studio decided to have Horne "give a shot in the arm" to Panama Hattie (see below). According to a HR news item, some of the marine sequences in the film were shot in Santa Monica Bay. At one point in the film, when "Homer" asks "Marcia" if she has ever been to San Francisco, she replies "Once with Gable and Tracy and the joint fell apart," referring to the very popular 1936 M-G-M film San Francisco in which Jeanette MacDonald co-starred with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy in a story set at the time of the 1906 ... More Less

The working title of the film was Shadow of a Lady . The film opens with the following written dedication: "To the authors of 'spy' dramas--Those unsung heroes of the pen without whose inspiration international spies could not possibly be as clever as they are--This picture is irreverently dedicated." Several songs were included in a medley sung by Jeanette MacDonald, Ethel Waters and The King's Men quartet, among them "From the Land of Sky Blue Waters," music by Charles Wakefield Cadman, lyrics by Nelle Richmond Eberhart; "Beautiful Ohio," music by Robert A. King-Keiser (Mary Earl), lyrics by Ballard MacDonald; "Avalon," music by Al Jolson and Vincent Rose, lyrics by B. G. DeSylva, based on "E lucevan le stelle," from the opera Tosca , music by Giaocomo Puccini, libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica; and "Home, Sweet Home," music by Sir Henry Rowley Bishop, lyrics by John Howard Payne.
       According to news items, Lena Horne was originally cast in the role of "Cleo," but was replaced in the film after the studio decided to have Horne "give a shot in the arm" to Panama Hattie (see below). According to a HR news item, some of the marine sequences in the film were shot in Santa Monica Bay. At one point in the film, when "Homer" asks "Marcia" if she has ever been to San Francisco, she replies "Once with Gable and Tracy and the joint fell apart," referring to the very popular 1936 M-G-M film San Francisco in which Jeanette MacDonald co-starred with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy in a story set at the time of the 1906 earthquake (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.3891).
       The film was in release from Sep--Nov 1942. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
15 Aug 1942.
---
Daily Variety
12 Aug 42
p. 3.
Film Daily
17 Aug 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Mar 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Apr 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Apr 42
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Sep 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 42
p. 4.
Motion Picture Daily
12 Aug 1942.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
15 Aug 42
p. 838.
New York Times
6 Nov 42
p. 27.
Showmen's Trade Reviews
15 Aug 1942.
---
Variety
12 Aug 42
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
WRITERS
Based upon an idea by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog for marine seq
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
SOUND
Rec dir
DANCE
Dance dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
STAND INS
Vocal stand-in for Jeanette MacDonald
SOURCES
SONGS
"Buds Won't Bud," music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by E. Y. Harburg
"The Waltz Is Over," "The Moon Looks Down on Cairo," music by Arthur Schwartz, lyrics by E. Y. Harburg
"Les filles de Cadix," music and lyrics by Léo Delibes
+
SONGS
"Buds Won't Bud," music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by E. Y. Harburg
"The Waltz Is Over," "The Moon Looks Down on Cairo," music by Arthur Schwartz, lyrics by E. Y. Harburg
"Les filles de Cadix," music and lyrics by Léo Delibes
"We Did It Before and We Can Do It Again," music by Cliff Friend, lyrics by Charles Tobias
"Waiting for the Robert E. Lee," music by Lewis F. Muir, lyrics by L. Wolfe Gilbert
"Keep the Light Burning Bright," music by Arthur Schwartz, lyrics by Howard Dietz and E. Y. Harburg
"From the Land of the Sky Blue Water," music by Charles Wakefield Cadman, lyrics by Richmond Eberhart
"Avalon," music and lyrics by Al Jolson, B. G. DeSylva and Vincent Rose.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Shadow of a Lady
Release Date:
September 1942
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Richmond, VA: 16 September 1942
Production Date:
1 April--late May 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
11 August 1942
Copyright Number:
LP11524
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
101
Length(in feet):
9,058
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
8497
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

After being dragged from his eighth viewing of movie star Marcia Warren's last American picture, Homer Smith, star reporter for the Cavity Rock Times Leader , hears the news that his Northern California paper has been selected as the best small town newspaper in America. As a reward for the paper, Homer is sent to North Africa to write a series of syndicated articles entitled "The Small Town Looks at the War." When his ship is torpedoed in the Mediterranean, Homer finds himself adrift on a raft and pulls on board fellow passenger Philo Cobson. After they get ashore, Cobson, who is actually a Nazi spy, gives Homer his pipe and tells him that he is a member of British Intelligence. He then asks Homer to go to the Viceroy hotel in Cairo, find a Mrs. Morrison and give her a coded message. In Cairo, Homer locates the suspicious Mrs. Morrison, and tells her that he is working on a story to uncover the female leader of a spy ring known as "The Big Six." She then indicates to him that Marcia, who is performing at the hotel, is the leader. Although Homer is at first skeptical, after seeing Marcia convey an apparently coded message to her maid, Cleona Jones, using hand signals, he assumes that Mrs. Morrison's story is true. The next day, Homer applies for a job as her butler, using the name "Juniper Jones." Marcia knows that he is lying, but thinks that he is simply a down-on-his luck American and hires him, then immediately starts to argue over whether San Francisco or Beverly Hills is the best city in California. The ... +


After being dragged from his eighth viewing of movie star Marcia Warren's last American picture, Homer Smith, star reporter for the Cavity Rock Times Leader , hears the news that his Northern California paper has been selected as the best small town newspaper in America. As a reward for the paper, Homer is sent to North Africa to write a series of syndicated articles entitled "The Small Town Looks at the War." When his ship is torpedoed in the Mediterranean, Homer finds himself adrift on a raft and pulls on board fellow passenger Philo Cobson. After they get ashore, Cobson, who is actually a Nazi spy, gives Homer his pipe and tells him that he is a member of British Intelligence. He then asks Homer to go to the Viceroy hotel in Cairo, find a Mrs. Morrison and give her a coded message. In Cairo, Homer locates the suspicious Mrs. Morrison, and tells her that he is working on a story to uncover the female leader of a spy ring known as "The Big Six." She then indicates to him that Marcia, who is performing at the hotel, is the leader. Although Homer is at first skeptical, after seeing Marcia convey an apparently coded message to her maid, Cleona Jones, using hand signals, he assumes that Mrs. Morrison's story is true. The next day, Homer applies for a job as her butler, using the name "Juniper Jones." Marcia knows that he is lying, but thinks that he is simply a down-on-his luck American and hires him, then immediately starts to argue over whether San Francisco or Beverly Hills is the best city in California. The next day, Homer secretly follows Marcia into an antique shop, and when she screams after seeing a mouse, rendering a perfect high C, a secret panel opens, observed only by Homer. Later, Mrs. Morrison, who herself is a Nazi spy, goes behind the panel and confers with her cohorts about a new radio-operated plane that is to crash into a transport carrying British troops through the Suez Canal. As the days pass, Homer and Marcia each becomes suspicious that the other is a spy, even though they are falling in love. One afternoon, he misunderstands a phone call Marcia makes to her dressmaker, Mme. Laruga, and determines to get her out of the house that night so he can search for the "prints" that were to be delivered. Before Marcia leaves, though, Colonel Woodhue of British Intelligence, who has come to believe that Homer is actually Cobson, arrives at her suite and asks her to search Homer's quarters. Although she has suspected that "Juniper" was a phony name, Marcia has difficulty believing that he is really Cobson. After Woodhue leaves, Marcia insists on going out with both Cleo and Homer. At a movie theater, each sneaks out on the other and heads back for the hotel. While Cleo and Marcia search Homer's room and discover his real identity card, which Marcia thinks is a fake, Homer searches Marcia's room, but finds only fan letters. When they both wind up in the darkened living room, Marcia draws a gun on Homer, and after each accuses the other of being a spy, Marcia quizzes Homer on his knowledge of California. After she concludes that he is not a spy after all, he discovers that the "prints" were just material for dresses. The next night, at a concert in the desert, Marcia sings, while Homer follows the antique store owner. When Marcia goes to a pre-arranged trysting place, but discovers only Homer's pipe, she goes home furious. Meanwhile, Homer overhears the antique shop owner talking with the spies, who are going to "the pyramid." As they drive off, Homer hangs on to the running board, then throws away bits of the program for Marcia's concert, alerting one of Woodhue's men. After Marcia accidentally breaks the pipe and finds Cobson's picture and identity card, she realizes that Homer has been telling the truth and is now in great danger. At the pyramid, the Nazis find Homer and are about to take him inside the edifice, which they open with a tuning fork, when he escapes to a plane, unaware that it is the radio plane. Soon Marcia and British Intelligence arrive at the now closed pyramid, not knowing where the Nazis are. When Cleo and her new boyfriend Hector show Marcia some hundred dollar bills, which Hector calls "C-notes," Marcia realizes that Homer was leaving a clue. After a few false notes, Marcia finally sings a perfect High C, the pyramid opens and the Nazis are captured. As the radio plane approaches the troop ship, British planes shoot it down and Homer safely parachutes to safety. Some time later, Homer and Marcia receive a telegram from his boss, who says that he has become the most famous newsman in America, and suggests that he co-star with his wife in a picture. Homer is unsure, until Marcia shows him how they will act, kissing in a closeup. +

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.