Spitfire (1934)

84, 86 or 88 mins | Drama | 30 March 1934

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Trigger . RKO borrowed Robert Young from M-G-M for the production. According to a Sep 1933 FD news item, RKO purchased Lula Vollmer's play as a vehicle for Dorothy Jordan, not Katharine Hepburn. Oct 1933 FD news items announced that George Brent and Joel McCrea were to be Hepburn's co-stars and had accompanied the cast and crew on location in Hemet, CA. These actors did not appear in the film, however. FD lists Helene Barclay as a cast member, but she was subsequently replaced by Martha Sleeper in the role of Eleanor Stafford. Location shooting was done in Hemet, CA, in the San Jacinto Mountains near the Mexican border and at the San Gabriel Dam in San Gabriel, CA, according to news items and RKO production files. Modern sources add the following information about the production: Hepburn agreed to play the part of "Trigger" on condition that she be allowed to return to Broadway and take the lead in a stage production of The Lake . Although Hepburn's contract stipulated that she would be allowed to leave for New York on 16 Nov 1933, four weeks after the start of production, by the evening of 15 Nov 1933, two scenes, including the last, remained to be shot. Hepburn agreed to postpone her morning flight and work the five hours and forty-five minutes that RKO claimed she owed. At the end of the next afternoon, however, director John Cromwell expressed dissatisfaction with the two scenes, and Hepburn refused to re-shoot them, reminding producer Pandro Berman of the terms of her contract. ... More Less

The working title of this film was Trigger . RKO borrowed Robert Young from M-G-M for the production. According to a Sep 1933 FD news item, RKO purchased Lula Vollmer's play as a vehicle for Dorothy Jordan, not Katharine Hepburn. Oct 1933 FD news items announced that George Brent and Joel McCrea were to be Hepburn's co-stars and had accompanied the cast and crew on location in Hemet, CA. These actors did not appear in the film, however. FD lists Helene Barclay as a cast member, but she was subsequently replaced by Martha Sleeper in the role of Eleanor Stafford. Location shooting was done in Hemet, CA, in the San Jacinto Mountains near the Mexican border and at the San Gabriel Dam in San Gabriel, CA, according to news items and RKO production files. Modern sources add the following information about the production: Hepburn agreed to play the part of "Trigger" on condition that she be allowed to return to Broadway and take the lead in a stage production of The Lake . Although Hepburn's contract stipulated that she would be allowed to leave for New York on 16 Nov 1933, four weeks after the start of production, by the evening of 15 Nov 1933, two scenes, including the last, remained to be shot. Hepburn agreed to postpone her morning flight and work the five hours and forty-five minutes that RKO claimed she owed. At the end of the next afternoon, however, director John Cromwell expressed dissatisfaction with the two scenes, and Hepburn refused to re-shoot them, reminding producer Pandro Berman of the terms of her contract. Desperate to finish, Berman asked Hepburn how much the studio would have to pay her to complete the scenes, and Hepburn, whose salary for the production was $50,000, demanded and received an additional $10,000. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
7 Feb 34
p. 3.
Film Daily
1 Sep 33
p. 8.
Film Daily
11 Oct 33
p. 10.
Film Daily
16 Oct 33
p. 8.
Film Daily
17 Oct 33
p. 8
Film Daily
23 Feb 34
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Feb 34
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
15 Feb 34
p. 10.
Motion Picture Herald
18 Nov 33
p. 60.
Motion Picture Herald
24 Feb 34
p. 38.
New York Times
9 Mar 34
p. 22.
Variety
13 Mar 34
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Pandro S. Berman Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Sd tech
Sd tech
Mus rec supv
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
STAND INS
Stand-in for Katharine Hepburn
Stand-in for Ralph Bellamy
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Trigger by Lula Vollmer (New York, 6 Dec 1927).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Trigger
Release Date:
30 March 1934
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 8 March 1934
Production Date:
15 October--17 November 1933
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
15 March 1934
Copyright Number:
LP4593
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
84, 86 or 88
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Trigger Hicks, a proud but poor and barely literate mountain girl, takes in wash but dreams of a finer, more romantic life for herself. She is indifferent to the criticisms of her superstitious neighbors, who mistake her intense religious faith and bad temper for signs of witchcraft. When the Construction Company arrives in the region to build a dam, Trigger attracts the amorous attention of John Stafford, the married assistant engineer, whose supervisor, George Fleetwood, disapproves of his deceptive romancing. Inspired by a pack of Bible cards that she has stolen from the local Sunday school, Trigger snatches a sickly, neglected baby from a neighbor's house and carries him to George's cabin, where she prays over him and nurses him back to health. John, hearing of the abduction, finds Trigger at George's cabin and continues his flirtation, not revealing to her his marriage. When John's wife appears, however, John is unmasked, and Trigger is heartbroken. Concerned for Trigger's safety, George convinces her to relinquish the child and return him to his now frantic parents. When the child falls ill again and eventually dies, an angry mob shows up at Trigger's shack and accuses her of witchcraft. Although George and John try to subdue and reason with the stone-throwing mob, Trigger is forced to agree to leave town. The next day, as she packs her few belongings, her faith in herself and in God and prayer shattered, George arrives at her shack to say goodbye. Touched by her simple devotion, George convinces Trigger not to give up her faith, and makes her promise to meet him at the shack a year from that day, come ... +


Trigger Hicks, a proud but poor and barely literate mountain girl, takes in wash but dreams of a finer, more romantic life for herself. She is indifferent to the criticisms of her superstitious neighbors, who mistake her intense religious faith and bad temper for signs of witchcraft. When the Construction Company arrives in the region to build a dam, Trigger attracts the amorous attention of John Stafford, the married assistant engineer, whose supervisor, George Fleetwood, disapproves of his deceptive romancing. Inspired by a pack of Bible cards that she has stolen from the local Sunday school, Trigger snatches a sickly, neglected baby from a neighbor's house and carries him to George's cabin, where she prays over him and nurses him back to health. John, hearing of the abduction, finds Trigger at George's cabin and continues his flirtation, not revealing to her his marriage. When John's wife appears, however, John is unmasked, and Trigger is heartbroken. Concerned for Trigger's safety, George convinces her to relinquish the child and return him to his now frantic parents. When the child falls ill again and eventually dies, an angry mob shows up at Trigger's shack and accuses her of witchcraft. Although George and John try to subdue and reason with the stone-throwing mob, Trigger is forced to agree to leave town. The next day, as she packs her few belongings, her faith in herself and in God and prayer shattered, George arrives at her shack to say goodbye. Touched by her simple devotion, George convinces Trigger not to give up her faith, and makes her promise to meet him at the shack a year from that day, come what may. +

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.