The Country Girl (1955)

103-104 mins | Drama | March 1955

Full page view
HISTORY

George Seaton's onscreen credit reads: "Written for the screen and directed by George Seaton." According to a Jul 1960 LAMirror interview with producer William Perlberg, Jennifer Jones was first considered for the role of “Georgie,” but could not appear due to pregnancy. Jones portrayed Georgie in a 1966 New York revival of the stage play, however. Paramount borrowed Grace Kelly from M-G-M for the production. According to modern sources, M-G-M initially refused Paramount’s request, but acquiesced after Lew Wasserman, Kelly’s agent, announced that Kelly might quit Hollywood if she did not get the role. Paramount agreed to pay M-G-M a $50,000 fee, plus $5,000 for each day the film went over schedule. In the 1960 LAMirror interview, Perlberg claimed that Bing Crosby at first declined his role when he heard that the relatively unknown Kelly was to be his co-star. During production, however, Crosby changed his mind about Kelly, according to the interview. Kelly received glowing notices and won an Academy Award for her performance in the picture.
       Crosby’s performance in the atypical role of "Frank" won him much critical praise, and he was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award. Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin wrote four songs for Crosby to sing in the film. According to an Apr 1954 DV item, during production, Paramount was inundated with mail from “Catholic sources,” protesting the fact that Crosby, a Catholic, was portraying a “drunk” in the film. A HR news item adds Mary Young to the cast, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       ... More Less

George Seaton's onscreen credit reads: "Written for the screen and directed by George Seaton." According to a Jul 1960 LAMirror interview with producer William Perlberg, Jennifer Jones was first considered for the role of “Georgie,” but could not appear due to pregnancy. Jones portrayed Georgie in a 1966 New York revival of the stage play, however. Paramount borrowed Grace Kelly from M-G-M for the production. According to modern sources, M-G-M initially refused Paramount’s request, but acquiesced after Lew Wasserman, Kelly’s agent, announced that Kelly might quit Hollywood if she did not get the role. Paramount agreed to pay M-G-M a $50,000 fee, plus $5,000 for each day the film went over schedule. In the 1960 LAMirror interview, Perlberg claimed that Bing Crosby at first declined his role when he heard that the relatively unknown Kelly was to be his co-star. During production, however, Crosby changed his mind about Kelly, according to the interview. Kelly received glowing notices and won an Academy Award for her performance in the picture.
       Crosby’s performance in the atypical role of "Frank" won him much critical praise, and he was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award. Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin wrote four songs for Crosby to sing in the film. According to an Apr 1954 DV item, during production, Paramount was inundated with mail from “Catholic sources,” protesting the fact that Crosby, a Catholic, was portraying a “drunk” in the film. A HR news item adds Mary Young to the cast, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       In addition to the above-mentioned award and nomination, The Country Girl received a Best Writing (Screenplay) Oscar and was nominated for the following Academy Awards: Best Art Direction (black and white); Best Cinematography (black and white); Best Direction; and Best Picture. On 5 Feb 1974, the NBC television network broadcast a Hallmark Hall of Fame version of Odets’ play, directed by Paul Bogart and starring Jason Robards and Shirley Knight. In 1982, Gary Halvorson and Michael Montell directed Faye Dunaway, Dick Van Dyke and Ken Howard in a second televised version of Odets’ play. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
4 Dec 1954.
---
Daily Variety
13 Apr 1954.
---
Daily Variety
29 Nov 54
p. 3.
Film Daily
29 Nov 54
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Feb 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Feb 1954
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 1954
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Apr 1954
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 54
p. 3.
Life
6 Dec 1954.
---
Look
14 Dec 1954
pp. 163-165.
Los Angeles Mirror
30 Jul 1960.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
4 Dec 54
p. 233.
New York Times
16 Dec 54
p. 51.
Newsweek
6 Dec 1954.
---
Variety
1 Dec 54
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
The Perlberg-Seaton Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Mus seq staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
Prod mgr
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Country Girl by Clifford Odets (New York, 10 Nov 1950).
SONGS
"The Search Is Through," "It's Mine, It's Yours (The Pitchman)," "The Land Around Us" and "Dissertation on the State of Bliss (Love and Learn)," music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Ira Gershwin.
DETAILS
Release Date:
March 1955
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 11 December 1954
New York opening: 15 December 1954
Production Date:
late February--early April 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
15 December 1954
Copyright Number:
LP4495
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
up to 1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
103-104
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17063
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a New York theater, stage director Bernie Dodd argues with producer Phil Cook about hiring Frank Elgin to replace their new musical’s lead actor, who was fired one week into rehearsal. Bernie has long admired Frank, but Phil is reluctant, as the once successful Frank now has a reputation as a troublesome alcoholic. Bernie finally convinces Phil to audition Frank, insisting that he is clean and sober. Although Phil is not particularly impressed with Frank’s audition, he agrees to sign him to a contract with a limited, two-week guarantee. As Frank has left the theater unexpectedly, Bernie goes to his rundown apartment to tell him the news and meets Georgie, Frank’s wife. The dowdy but youthful Georgie responds to Bernie with sarcasm, explaining that she is a country girl who has never understood the vagaries of the theater. Frank is hesitant about Bernie’s offer and asks for time to discuss it with Georgie. After Bernie leaves, Georgie advises Frank to take the role and do his “level best.” Frank, who is concerned about learning his lines in time for the Boston try-out, finally agrees, figuring that he can quit the show if things go wrong. During rehearsal, Frank has trouble concentrating, and afterward, when asked by Bernie about his marriage, confesses he is dominated by Georgie. Frank reveals that after their young son died unexpectedly, Georgie started drinking, attempted suicide and set fire to a hotel room. Later, he says, in an attempt to give her life new purpose, he allowed Georgie to become involved in his work, and she became so controlling, he was driven to ... +


In a New York theater, stage director Bernie Dodd argues with producer Phil Cook about hiring Frank Elgin to replace their new musical’s lead actor, who was fired one week into rehearsal. Bernie has long admired Frank, but Phil is reluctant, as the once successful Frank now has a reputation as a troublesome alcoholic. Bernie finally convinces Phil to audition Frank, insisting that he is clean and sober. Although Phil is not particularly impressed with Frank’s audition, he agrees to sign him to a contract with a limited, two-week guarantee. As Frank has left the theater unexpectedly, Bernie goes to his rundown apartment to tell him the news and meets Georgie, Frank’s wife. The dowdy but youthful Georgie responds to Bernie with sarcasm, explaining that she is a country girl who has never understood the vagaries of the theater. Frank is hesitant about Bernie’s offer and asks for time to discuss it with Georgie. After Bernie leaves, Georgie advises Frank to take the role and do his “level best.” Frank, who is concerned about learning his lines in time for the Boston try-out, finally agrees, figuring that he can quit the show if things go wrong. During rehearsal, Frank has trouble concentrating, and afterward, when asked by Bernie about his marriage, confesses he is dominated by Georgie. Frank reveals that after their young son died unexpectedly, Georgie started drinking, attempted suicide and set fire to a hotel room. Later, he says, in an attempt to give her life new purpose, he allowed Georgie to become involved in his work, and she became so controlling, he was driven to drink. Bernie commiserates with Frank, noting that his ex-wife tried to take over his career as well. Georgie suddenly appears in the wings, and the three go out for coffee. Once alone with Georgie, Bernie criticizes her for not encouraging Frank, an accusation she quickly dismisses. At home, while listening to the radio, Frank hears an old recording of him singing “The Search Is Through” and begins to reminisce: In a recording studio, while a vibrant Georgie and their young son Johnny watch, Frank sings the final strains of the song. Frank then insists on taking Johnny to the zoo, but outside the studio, stops to pose for a photographer, letting go of Johnny’s hand. An instant later, Johnny is hit by a car and killed. Back in the present, Georgie enters the apartment and quietly turns off the radio. She then finds two empty liquor bottles and questions Frank about his drinking. Frank admits he is afraid and wants to quit the show, but Georgie insists he go to Boston. There, Frank is nervous during final rehearsal and complains to Georgie about the quick costume changes and the understudy who lingers in the wings. Georgie passes Frank’s complaints on to Bernie, but Bernie accuses her of inventing problems and interfering with her husband’s career. When questioned by Bernie, Frank, who is always pleasant with others, denies he is unhappy with the understudy, and Georgie cries, humiliated. After opening night, Frank refuses to sleep until he has read the notices and is distraught when they are unfavorable. With Bernie, however, Frank pretends to be nonplussed. During a difficult rehearsal, Frank then begins to guzzle alcohol-laced cough syrup, disregarding Georgie’s pleas to stop. Bernie corners Georgie in Frank’s dressing room and again accuses her of meddling. When Georgie calls Frank a “cunning drunkard,” Bernie angrily informs her that Phil wants to replace Frank and declares that Frank would improve if she left Boston. Frustrated, Georgie slaps Bernie, then states that Frank is on the verge of a breakdown. After instructing Georgie to be on the next night’s train to New York, Bernie catches Frank drinking his cough syrup. Frank claims that Georgie bought him the syrup, and now convinced that she is trying to destroy Frank, Bernie reveals that Georgie is leaving town. Once alone with Georgie, Frank apologizes for lying and begs her to stay, but accuses her of having a boyfriend in New York. Fed up, Georgie storms out, and Frank heads for the nearest bar. There, Frank drinks heavily and when he hears someone singing “The Search Is Through” hurls his glass into a large mirror, shattering it. The next morning, after Georgie bails him out of jail, a hungover Frank continues to make excuses to Bernie. When Bernie confronts Georgie with Frank’s story about her drunken past, Georgie reveals that it was Frank who attempted suicide and shows him the scars on Frank’s wrists as proof. After Bernie sends a stunned Frank to the theater, Georgie talks about Johnny’s death and how Frank became terrified of even the smallest responsibility. Bernie apologizes to Georgie and asks her not to go, but she bitterly responds that she wants nothing more than to get out from under Frank. Overcome, Bernie grabs Georgie and kisses her, admitting that his anger toward her was a cover for his attraction. Moved by Bernie’s passion, Georgie finally agrees to stay in Boston. Later, in Frank’s dressing room, Bernie yells at Frank that he has been using his son’s death as an excuse to drink and that he drinks to hide his fear of failure. Frank agrees with Bernie’s assessment and listens with resignation as Phil tells Bernie that he has arranged for Frank’s replacement. Bernie continues to defend Frank, however, and a now sober Frank is still in the show when it opens on Broadway. Frank and the show are a hit, but during a party at Phil’s, Frank notices Georgie and Bernie together and senses their attraction. When confronted by Frank, Georgie admits that she is considering leaving him, but also acknowledges that she has been fostering his dependency. After Frank returns to the party, the piano player begins playing “The Search Is Through.” Without thinking, Georgie rushes to stop the music and is overjoyed to see Frank standing next to the piano, listening to the song without fear. Georgie then kisses Bernie goodbye and runs to her husband’s side.
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

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.