Sidewalks of London (1940)

84 or 86 mins | Drama | 16 February 1940

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HISTORY

This film was first released in Great Britain in Jul 1938 by Associated British Picture Corp. under the title St. Martin's Lane . Intermediate titles were Partners of the Night and London After Dark . On 4 Dec 1939, the title was changed to Sidewalks of London for the film's American release. The title card on the viewed print read: "Charles Laughton in City of Westminster St. Martins Lane." John Maxwell, who formed Mayflower Pictures with Erich Pommer and Laughton, financed the company for the production of three films, of which Sidewalks of London was the second (see also the above entries for The Beachcomber and Jamaica Inn ). The viewed print states that Vivien Leigh and Rex Harrison were used "By permission of London Film Productions, Inc.," which was run by Alexander Korda. The print also credited distribution to Corinth Films, Inc., although no evidence that the film was distributed in the 1930s by this company has been found. No copyright entry was found for this film.
       According to press material, the release of the film, which helped Leigh win the role of Scarlett O'Hara, was purposefully held up in the United States by Paramount until after the opening of Gone With the Wind . According to a news item in HR , on the night of the picture's preview, to which Leigh had invited all "Leighs" in Los Angeles, the actress had the flu and sent her stand-in to sign autographs in her place. According to a HR news item on 30 Jan 1940, Leigh was reportedly thrilled by the American ... More Less

This film was first released in Great Britain in Jul 1938 by Associated British Picture Corp. under the title St. Martin's Lane . Intermediate titles were Partners of the Night and London After Dark . On 4 Dec 1939, the title was changed to Sidewalks of London for the film's American release. The title card on the viewed print read: "Charles Laughton in City of Westminster St. Martins Lane." John Maxwell, who formed Mayflower Pictures with Erich Pommer and Laughton, financed the company for the production of three films, of which Sidewalks of London was the second (see also the above entries for The Beachcomber and Jamaica Inn ). The viewed print states that Vivien Leigh and Rex Harrison were used "By permission of London Film Productions, Inc.," which was run by Alexander Korda. The print also credited distribution to Corinth Films, Inc., although no evidence that the film was distributed in the 1930s by this company has been found. No copyright entry was found for this film.
       According to press material, the release of the film, which helped Leigh win the role of Scarlett O'Hara, was purposefully held up in the United States by Paramount until after the opening of Gone With the Wind . According to a news item in HR , on the night of the picture's preview, to which Leigh had invited all "Leighs" in Los Angeles, the actress had the flu and sent her stand-in to sign autographs in her place. According to a HR news item on 30 Jan 1940, Leigh was reportedly thrilled by the American press's reaction to the film and happily agreed to pose for stills, which she had at first been reluctant to do. The film's program notes that Laughton "resorted to Machiavellian tactics" to get Korda to agree to allow Leigh to do the role. The program says Laughton "smuggled a copy of the script to the actress and let her do the rest." At the time, Leigh was receiving laurels for her performance in Ashley Duke's West End play The Mask of Virtue .
       The Luna Boys, real buskers (British street entertainers), were hired, according to press material, as technical advisors as well as actors in the film. Actors Gus McNaughton and Tyrone Guthrie were also once real buskers, according to the film's program. Carroll Gibbons was the leader of a famous dance orchestra, which performed at the Savoy Hotel in London for years. Although in the film, Laughton's character refers to the poem he repeatedly recites as "The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God," by Milton Hayes, some sources refer to the poem as "The Green Eye of the Yellow God." Hollywood screenwriter Bart Cormack, who plays "Strang" in this film, scripted The Beachcomber for Laughton.
       According to modern sources, Laughton frequented St. Martin's Lane and Shaftesbury Avenue in order to do live busker research. A modern biography of Laughton states that much of Clemence Dane's script was rewritten by Tim Whelan, Cormack, Laughton and Pommer, and that Dane declined to take credit for the screenplay when the picture was released, although he is credited on the screen. According to the biography, actual queueing theatergoers in London's West End were used as extras in the film, and London locations included Cambridge Circus, Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly Circus and St. Martin's Lane. This film was re-issued in 1949 by the British company Renown Pictures Corp. More Less

CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Pommer-Laughton Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Settings
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus asst
DANCE
Dance dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
SOURCES
SONGS
"Straw Hat in the Rain," music by Arthur Johnston, lyrics by Eddie Pola.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
London After Dark
Partners of the Night
St. Martin's Lane
Release Date:
16 February 1940
Production Date:
at British International Pictures Studios, Elstree, England
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
16 February 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9426
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
84 or 86
Length(in reels):
9
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
2227
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Charles Staggers, a middle-aged London street entertainer, or "busker," who performs for pennies from queueing Piccadilly theatergoers, befriends Libby, a runaway orphan and would-be dancer, when she steals the gold cigarette case of successful song writer Harley Prentiss. After finding Libby hiding in a deserted house, Charles takes her in, and they form a quartet with buskers Arthur Smith and Gentry. After Charles returns the cigarette case, Prentiss visits to give him a reward, and Libby insists Prentiss interview her, introducing herself as "Liberty," an aspiring actress. Seeing their act later on the streets, Prentiss hires Charles and Libby to perform at a dinner party. After arguing with Charles about the foolishness of busking, Libby goes to Prentiss' party alone. At the party, a theatrical agent promises to sponsor Libby, and Prentiss takes her home and kisses her. Charles, who has been waiting up all night for Libby, demands an explanation, and Libby tells him that she has a new career on the stage. Charles, in a jealous tirade, tells Libby he wants to marry her, but she rebuffs him in horror, calling him a "looney" and telling him to "take a look in the frying pan." With both his manhood and his profession humiliated, Charles takes to drink and abandons Arthur and Gentry, while Libby becomes a stage star and Prentiss' girl friend. Their paths cross once more following the premiere of her show, "Straw Hats in the Rain." Outside the stage door, Libby is surrounded by crowds seeking her autograph, and the drunken Charles, fighting the throng to get to Libby, is arrested for insubordination and is sentenced to four months in ... +


Charles Staggers, a middle-aged London street entertainer, or "busker," who performs for pennies from queueing Piccadilly theatergoers, befriends Libby, a runaway orphan and would-be dancer, when she steals the gold cigarette case of successful song writer Harley Prentiss. After finding Libby hiding in a deserted house, Charles takes her in, and they form a quartet with buskers Arthur Smith and Gentry. After Charles returns the cigarette case, Prentiss visits to give him a reward, and Libby insists Prentiss interview her, introducing herself as "Liberty," an aspiring actress. Seeing their act later on the streets, Prentiss hires Charles and Libby to perform at a dinner party. After arguing with Charles about the foolishness of busking, Libby goes to Prentiss' party alone. At the party, a theatrical agent promises to sponsor Libby, and Prentiss takes her home and kisses her. Charles, who has been waiting up all night for Libby, demands an explanation, and Libby tells him that she has a new career on the stage. Charles, in a jealous tirade, tells Libby he wants to marry her, but she rebuffs him in horror, calling him a "looney" and telling him to "take a look in the frying pan." With both his manhood and his profession humiliated, Charles takes to drink and abandons Arthur and Gentry, while Libby becomes a stage star and Prentiss' girl friend. Their paths cross once more following the premiere of her show, "Straw Hats in the Rain." Outside the stage door, Libby is surrounded by crowds seeking her autograph, and the drunken Charles, fighting the throng to get to Libby, is arrested for insubordination and is sentenced to four months in prison. After winning a Hollywood contract, Libby asks Prentiss to marry her, but he refuses, stating that he does not want to be discarded later like Charles. When Charles gets out of prison, he poses as a blind beggar, and one day, Libby, wearing a mink coat, recognizes him. Remorseful of her treatment of Charles, Libby apologizes and gets him an audition for a part in her new show. Charles earnestly recites his old monologue of Rudyard Kipling's "If" but is rudely interrupted by Libby's agents and producers and loses his dramatic momentum. Resigning himself to a life of busking, Charles asks Libby for her autograph, bringing her to tears, then joins Arthur and Gentry. +

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.