Stand-In (1937)

91 mins | Comedy | 29 October 1937

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HISTORY

While screen credits list Rex Rommell as musical director, all the reviews credited Heinz Roemheld. A NYT article noted the following: this film was perhaps the most ambitious of the many films made after the success of A Star Is Born , which portrayed Hollywood in a sentimental, as opposed to a more realistic manner; director Tay Garnett generally rehearsed two-to-three hours before a take, and usually one take sufficed; and the Leslie Howard role was similar to that of Gary Cooper in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town , which was also based on a story by Clarence Budington Kelland.
       According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, PCA Director Joseph Breen found the story submitted to the PCA in Mar 1937 "unacceptable" because of the portrayal of "Thelma Cheri" as a "loose woman" and that of other characters as being involved in "illicit sex relations." Breen also commented, "The specific and general treatment of the characters and situations, which reflect unfavorably upon the motion picture industry and its personnel, is objectionable from the point of view of general industry policy." Subsequently, suggestions by the PCA were accepted by Walter Wanger Productions, including changing the character of "Thelma Cheri" to that of an unmarried woman; deleting a speech about the stifling of competition in the industry and the crushing of independent companies by the majors; and deleting a speech by Atterbury at the end, in which he says he is going to start a Senate investigation of the motion picture business.
       In Garnett's autobiography, he relates that after Bogart's wife, Mayo Methot, complained that Bogart was only getting "heavy" parts, ... More Less

While screen credits list Rex Rommell as musical director, all the reviews credited Heinz Roemheld. A NYT article noted the following: this film was perhaps the most ambitious of the many films made after the success of A Star Is Born , which portrayed Hollywood in a sentimental, as opposed to a more realistic manner; director Tay Garnett generally rehearsed two-to-three hours before a take, and usually one take sufficed; and the Leslie Howard role was similar to that of Gary Cooper in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town , which was also based on a story by Clarence Budington Kelland.
       According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, PCA Director Joseph Breen found the story submitted to the PCA in Mar 1937 "unacceptable" because of the portrayal of "Thelma Cheri" as a "loose woman" and that of other characters as being involved in "illicit sex relations." Breen also commented, "The specific and general treatment of the characters and situations, which reflect unfavorably upon the motion picture industry and its personnel, is objectionable from the point of view of general industry policy." Subsequently, suggestions by the PCA were accepted by Walter Wanger Productions, including changing the character of "Thelma Cheri" to that of an unmarried woman; deleting a speech about the stifling of competition in the industry and the crushing of independent companies by the majors; and deleting a speech by Atterbury at the end, in which he says he is going to start a Senate investigation of the motion picture business.
       In Garnett's autobiography, he relates that after Bogart's wife, Mayo Methot, complained that Bogart was only getting "heavy" parts, Garnett convinced Walter Wanger to use Bogart in this role, hoping that it would lead to romantic leads for him. Garnett erroneously recollected that Gregory Ratoff was in the film and that it was based on a story by Ben Ames Williams. Modern sources note that Bogart and Joan Blondell were loaned from Warner Bros. and that Paul Schwegler was Garnett's second assistant. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
9 Oct 1937.
---
Daily Variety
1 Oct 37
p. 3.
Film Daily
1 Jul 37
p. 11.
Film Daily
5 Oct 37
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 37
p. 3, 23
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 37
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 37
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jul 37
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 37
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 37
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 37
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 37
p. 3.
Life
1 Nov 37
pp. 96-99.
Motion Picture Daily
4 Oct 37
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
11 Sep 37
p. 34.
Motion Picture Herald
9 Oct 37
p. 39.
New York Times
19 Nov 37
p. 27.
Variety
6 Oct 37
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus dir
SOUND
STAND INS
Stand-in for Leslie Howard
Stand-in for Joan Blondell
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the story "Stand-In" by Clarence Budington Kelland in The Saturday Evening Post (13 Feb--20 Mar 1937).
DETAILS
Release Date:
29 October 1937
Production Date:
28 June--mid August 1937
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corp.
Copyright Date:
16 November 1937
Copyright Number:
LP7596
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
91
Length(in feet):
8,146
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
3647
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Cranky old Fowler Pettypacker, head of the banking firm of Pettypacker & Sons, decides to disregard the recommendation made by his vice-president, Atterbury Dodds, that the firm should not sell Colossal Film Company, which has been losing money, to the Hollywood Cinema Finance company, headed by shyster Ivor Nassau, for half its value to get rid of it. Atterbury, considered to be the most brilliant brain developed by Wall Street in the past ten years, wants to protect the investment of the firm's 30,000 stockholders, so he offers to go to Hollywood to investigate. Pettypacker agrees, but warns Atterbury not to return if he fails. In Hollywood, Nassau, who is infamous for making money by closing and selling studios, plots with star Thelma Cheri, her fiancé, foreign director Koslofski and press agent Tom Potts to drive the studio under through expensive retakes on their current picture and to try to influence Atterbury. Arriving wide-eyed at the sights of the film capital, Atterbury fortunately meets Cheri's stand-in, Lester Plum, when she jumps into his limousine and takes off her shoes. Later, Atterbury returns a shoe she left behind in the limo, and Lester, who knows the business intimately, having once been a child star, offers herself to the naïve and shy Atterbury as his secretary. Oblivious to Lester's flirtations, Atterbury learns dance steps from her which he uses with Cheri at Koslofski's party, thus provoking Lester's jealousy and ire. After a preview screening of Cheri's latest film, Sex and Satan , producer Douglas Quintain, who made Cheri into a star and still loves her, calls the film a "turkey" and urges Atterbury to "junk it," rather than try ... +


Cranky old Fowler Pettypacker, head of the banking firm of Pettypacker & Sons, decides to disregard the recommendation made by his vice-president, Atterbury Dodds, that the firm should not sell Colossal Film Company, which has been losing money, to the Hollywood Cinema Finance company, headed by shyster Ivor Nassau, for half its value to get rid of it. Atterbury, considered to be the most brilliant brain developed by Wall Street in the past ten years, wants to protect the investment of the firm's 30,000 stockholders, so he offers to go to Hollywood to investigate. Pettypacker agrees, but warns Atterbury not to return if he fails. In Hollywood, Nassau, who is infamous for making money by closing and selling studios, plots with star Thelma Cheri, her fiancé, foreign director Koslofski and press agent Tom Potts to drive the studio under through expensive retakes on their current picture and to try to influence Atterbury. Arriving wide-eyed at the sights of the film capital, Atterbury fortunately meets Cheri's stand-in, Lester Plum, when she jumps into his limousine and takes off her shoes. Later, Atterbury returns a shoe she left behind in the limo, and Lester, who knows the business intimately, having once been a child star, offers herself to the naïve and shy Atterbury as his secretary. Oblivious to Lester's flirtations, Atterbury learns dance steps from her which he uses with Cheri at Koslofski's party, thus provoking Lester's jealousy and ire. After a preview screening of Cheri's latest film, Sex and Satan , producer Douglas Quintain, who made Cheri into a star and still loves her, calls the film a "turkey" and urges Atterbury to "junk it," rather than try to save it with retakes. Koslofski advises expensive retakes and blames the problems on Quintain's drunkenness. When Cheri says that Koslofski's accusations are true, Quintain quits and goes on a drinking binge, but Atterbury arranges an audience preview and learns from the reactions that Quintain was right. Attenbury then finds Quintain and using jujitsu, which he has learned from Lester, gets him into a taxi, where Quintain drinks a case of beer and sobers up by the morning. The only way to save the studio is to recut the picture, but Cheri's contract stipulates that she must approve the editing. Realizing that Cheri's contract will be considered breached if she is caught in a scandal, Atterbury takes her drinking. In the early hours of the morning, a drunken Cheri slips under the table of a club, and when Atterbury joins her, their "romance" makes headlines. Pettypacker reads the news and fires Atterbury, then agrees to sell the studio to Nassau. After Lester berates Atterbury for being unconcerned about the studio employees who will lose their jobs, Atterbury convinces the skeptical employees to work with Quintain for forty-eight hours for no pay to remake the film as a comedy, rather than lose their jobs if the film is scrapped and the deal with Nassau is consummated. Nassau is then ceremoniously thrown over the studio wall, and after Atterbury dictates to Lester a telegram informing Pettypacker of the situation, he consults his checklist of things to do, sees that he has written "Propose to Miss Plum," and asks her to marry him. She accepts and they hesitatingly kiss. +

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.