Strange Lady in Town (1955)

112 or 117 mins | Western | 30 April 1955

Director:

Mervyn LeRoy

Writer:

Frank Butler

Cinematographer:

Harold Rosson

Production Designer:

Gabriel Scognamillo

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

As mentioned in the film, Gen. Lew Wallace (1827--1905), governor of New Mexico from 1878 to 1881, wrote the popular nineteenth-century novel Ben-Hur . Portions of the film were shot near Tucson, AZ, according to HR production charts and news items. An Apr 1954 HR news item reported that Margaret O’Brien was considered for the role of Dana Andrews’ tomboy daughter. Cameron Mitchell was on loan from 20th Century-Fox, according to a Jul 1954 HR news item. Although their appearance in the film has not been confirmed, HR news items add the following to the cast: Chief Geronimo Kuthle, Bert Lahr, Jr., director Mervyn LeRoy’s sixteen-year-old daughter Linda and the Robert Mitchell Boys Choir. According to Oct and Nov 1954 IHR news items, Greer Garson was hospitalized for an emergency appendectomy, and during the five weeks that production was shut down waiting for her recovery, LeRoy took over direction of the film Mister Roberts from John Ford, who was recuperating from a gall bladder operation.
       According to a Sep 1954 HR news item, contrary to the custom of fitting songs into the film at the editing stage, LeRoy established the mood of non-dialogue scenes by playing the title song, written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, while shooting. An Apr 1955 news item announced that the film had its premiere in five Texas cities: Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Ft. Worth, during mid-Apr and Garson addressed both houses of the Texas legislature as part of the festivities in Austin. Strange Lady in Town was Garson's first picture ... More Less

As mentioned in the film, Gen. Lew Wallace (1827--1905), governor of New Mexico from 1878 to 1881, wrote the popular nineteenth-century novel Ben-Hur . Portions of the film were shot near Tucson, AZ, according to HR production charts and news items. An Apr 1954 HR news item reported that Margaret O’Brien was considered for the role of Dana Andrews’ tomboy daughter. Cameron Mitchell was on loan from 20th Century-Fox, according to a Jul 1954 HR news item. Although their appearance in the film has not been confirmed, HR news items add the following to the cast: Chief Geronimo Kuthle, Bert Lahr, Jr., director Mervyn LeRoy’s sixteen-year-old daughter Linda and the Robert Mitchell Boys Choir. According to Oct and Nov 1954 IHR news items, Greer Garson was hospitalized for an emergency appendectomy, and during the five weeks that production was shut down waiting for her recovery, LeRoy took over direction of the film Mister Roberts from John Ford, who was recuperating from a gall bladder operation.
       According to a Sep 1954 HR news item, contrary to the custom of fitting songs into the film at the editing stage, LeRoy established the mood of non-dialogue scenes by playing the title song, written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, while shooting. An Apr 1955 news item announced that the film had its premiere in five Texas cities: Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Ft. Worth, during mid-Apr and Garson addressed both houses of the Texas legislature as part of the festivities in Austin. Strange Lady in Town was Garson's first picture after leaving M-G-M, the studio to which she was under contract since 1939, and her last film until the 1960 Warner Bros. production, Sunrise at Campobella (see below). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
16 Apr 1955.
---
Daily Variety
12 Apr 55
p. 3.
Film Daily
13 Apr 55
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
15 May 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 1954
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 1954
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 1954
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Sep 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 1954
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 1954
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Feb 1955
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 55
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Apr 1955
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Apr 1955
p. 9.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
16 Apr 55
p. 401.
New York Times
21 May 55
p. 11.
Variety
13 Apr 55
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Bob Wilke
Ken Duncan Jr.
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PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
A Mervyn LeRoy Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
WRITER
Story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreography for fiesta
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
SOURCES
MUSIC
SONGS
"Strange Lady in Town," music by Dimitri Tiomkin, lyrics by Ned Washington, sung by Frankie Laine with Mitch Miller and His Orchestra.
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 April 1955
Premiere Information:
Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas openings: week of 10 April 1955
Los Angeles opening: 27 April 1955
Production Date:
mid August--mid October 1954
mid November--late November 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
30 April 1955
Copyright Number:
LP6380
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Color
WarnerColor
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
112 or 117
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17173
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1880, red-haired Dr. Julia Winslow Garth leaves Boston for a new life, taking with her such innovations as a stethoscope and newly developed theories about antisepsis. Settling near Santa Fe, where her brother, Lt. David Garth, is stationed with the Army, she sets up shop in an adobe house next to a mission church run by Father Gabriel Mendoza and soon receives her first case, a toothache victim brought in by Billy the Kid. A local tomboy, Spurs O'Brien, who is infatuated with David, befriends Julia and sells her a horse and buggy. When Spurs’s widower father, Dr. Rork O’Brien, sees Julia driving the buggy, he chases her through town. When he accuses her of horse theft, she explains to Rork that she bought the horse and buggy. Although Rork is also a physician, his closed-minded opinions about a “woman’s place” and his rejection of new medical techniques keep them from forming a friendship. Father Gabriel shows Julia the hospital he has started, and there she operates and restores the sight of a ten-year-old glaucoma patient. The boy’s father, Bartolo Diaz, proclaims her a saint and praises her to the other townspeople. Despite his professional opposition to Julia, Rork becomes attracted to her and teaches her to ride a horse Western-style. While they are riding, young Apache braves approach, intrigued by Julia's red hair, but leave after the leader touches her hair and Rork claims her as "his woman." When Julia answers a request for a house call, she finds that David, who had years ago promised to stop gambling, has shot a man in self-defense during a poker game at a saloon. Rork is annoyed that ... +


In 1880, red-haired Dr. Julia Winslow Garth leaves Boston for a new life, taking with her such innovations as a stethoscope and newly developed theories about antisepsis. Settling near Santa Fe, where her brother, Lt. David Garth, is stationed with the Army, she sets up shop in an adobe house next to a mission church run by Father Gabriel Mendoza and soon receives her first case, a toothache victim brought in by Billy the Kid. A local tomboy, Spurs O'Brien, who is infatuated with David, befriends Julia and sells her a horse and buggy. When Spurs’s widower father, Dr. Rork O’Brien, sees Julia driving the buggy, he chases her through town. When he accuses her of horse theft, she explains to Rork that she bought the horse and buggy. Although Rork is also a physician, his closed-minded opinions about a “woman’s place” and his rejection of new medical techniques keep them from forming a friendship. Father Gabriel shows Julia the hospital he has started, and there she operates and restores the sight of a ten-year-old glaucoma patient. The boy’s father, Bartolo Diaz, proclaims her a saint and praises her to the other townspeople. Despite his professional opposition to Julia, Rork becomes attracted to her and teaches her to ride a horse Western-style. While they are riding, young Apache braves approach, intrigued by Julia's red hair, but leave after the leader touches her hair and Rork claims her as "his woman." When Julia answers a request for a house call, she finds that David, who had years ago promised to stop gambling, has shot a man in self-defense during a poker game at a saloon. Rork is annoyed that many of his patients have turned to Julia and accuses her of having a vindictive need for revenge against male physicians. He insists that she stop working at the hospital, and when she refuses, he quits. At the hospital, Julia has been able to help a physically abused mental patient, Norah Muldoon, but she cannot prevent Norah’s abusive boyfriend from trying to take her away. Rork arrives just in time to prevent the man from removing Norah. Still angry at Julia, Rork avoids her for two weeks. However, after arranging a surprise birthday party for Julia, Rork admits that he missed her, offers her an engagement ring and woos her by quoting a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Although touched by his romantic streak, Julia declines his offer, saying that marriage could never work between two ruthless, stubborn people. As proof, she admits her obsession with proving herself in a man’s occupation and points out that Rork’s prejudice and arrogance is what she ran away from in Boston. He angrily leaves, but weeks later, escorts her to the Governor’s Ball. Spurs also attends, dressed in a gown that Julia has had made for her, which prompts David, who has told Spurs that he loves her only as a child, to see her in a new light. During the evening, Julia meets the governor, Gen. Lew Wallace, who is writing a novel, Ben Hur . When he mentions that he has chronic heart problems, she suggests that his tight collar might be the source of his problem, unaware that she is contradicting Rork's previous diagnosis. Expecting that his reputation will be harmed by the resulting gossip, Rork becomes angry with Julia. Elsewhere at the ball, David strikes Capt. Taggart, a superior officer who has accused him of cheating at cards and selling stolen cattle to the Army. David is arrested but, during the night, escapes to Julia’s house to say goodbye and confess that Taggart’s accusations are true. David also admits that he almost asked Spurs to marry him. Before leaving the territory, David and some cohorts plan to rob the bank during the town’s fiesta. They are spotted while breaking into the bank, and one of the gang is killed in the ensuing exchange of gunfire. The others escape in a panic, and their horses trample Father Gabriel. After tracking the outlaws to their hiding place, the sheriff asks Julia to talk to David before the posse turns into a lynch mob. Spurs, too, goes to David, sneaking into the abandoned building where he is hiding alone, after his cohorts have surrendered. Although Spurs fears the wrath of the mob and urges him not to give himself up, David takes Julia’s advice and surrenders. When he impulsively tries to run away, however, he is shot and killed. Days later, Julia prepares to leave town, knowing that her neighbors blame her for David’s crimes and resent her boldness for entering a “man’s” occupation. As she loads her buckboard, a crowd gathers outside to urge her to leave. Before she departs, Rork arrives and, by shaming the ringleader of the hate-filled crowd, convinces the rest to accept Julia. After pronouncing Julia the best doctor in Santa Fe and his future wife, Rork drives her to his home.

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

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