The First Traveling Saleslady (1956)

88 or 92 mins | Romantic comedy | August 1956

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HISTORY

The film begins with a written foreword stating that although America in 1897 was a man’s world, the American woman was preparing to take it away from him. Arthur Lubin's onscreen credit reads, "Produced and directed by Arthur Lubin." Although the CBCS lists Brian Keith as playing "James Carter," the role was played by David Brian, who is credited correctly onscreen. The First Traveling Saleslady marked the first production under RKO's new studio head, William Dozier. HR noted on 18 Nov 1955 that RKO made a deal with Arthur Lubin Productions under which the studio would distribute and solely finance the production. According to an 8 Nov 1955 HR news item, Betty Grable was originally set to play “Rose Gillray.” The film was shot partially on location in Chatsworth, CA. Broadway star Carol Channing made her feature film debut in The First Traveling Saleslady , and as a result of her performance, according to a Mar 1956 “Rambling Reporter” item in HR , had her contract re-optioned by RKO, as did James Arness. Although the CBCS lists both Clarence Muse and Johnny Lee as "Amos," Lee played the role in the final ... More Less

The film begins with a written foreword stating that although America in 1897 was a man’s world, the American woman was preparing to take it away from him. Arthur Lubin's onscreen credit reads, "Produced and directed by Arthur Lubin." Although the CBCS lists Brian Keith as playing "James Carter," the role was played by David Brian, who is credited correctly onscreen. The First Traveling Saleslady marked the first production under RKO's new studio head, William Dozier. HR noted on 18 Nov 1955 that RKO made a deal with Arthur Lubin Productions under which the studio would distribute and solely finance the production. According to an 8 Nov 1955 HR news item, Betty Grable was originally set to play “Rose Gillray.” The film was shot partially on location in Chatsworth, CA. Broadway star Carol Channing made her feature film debut in The First Traveling Saleslady , and as a result of her performance, according to a Mar 1956 “Rambling Reporter” item in HR , had her contract re-optioned by RKO, as did James Arness. Although the CBCS lists both Clarence Muse and Johnny Lee as "Amos," Lee played the role in the final film. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
18 Aug 1956.
---
Daily Variety
18 Nov 1955.
---
Daily Variety
15 Aug 56
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Nov 1955
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jan 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 1956
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jan 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 1956
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1956
p. 6, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Feb 1956
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Mar 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 1956
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Mar 1956
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 1956
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Mar 1956
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 56
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Aug 56
p. 41.
Variety
15 Aug 56
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Robert Simon
Ann Kunde
John Connors
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Supv film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Dial supv
SOURCES
SONGS
"A Corset Can Do a Lot for a Lady," music by Irving Gertz, lyrics by Hal Levy
"The First Traveling Saleslady," music by Irving Gertz, lyrics by Hal Levy, sung by The Lancers (Coral Recording Artists).
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
August 1956
Production Date:
24 January--early March 1956
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Teleradio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
24 July 1956
Copyright Number:
LP6937
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
88 or 92
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17946
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In New York in 1897, inventor Charlie Masters crashes his horseless buggy into saleslady Rose Gillray’s wagon. Despite his boasts about his automobile’s superiority, he cannot start it and Rose is forced to pull it with her horse. At her business office, the Gillray Corset Company, Charlie annoys Rose further by ridiculing her suffragette leanings. In her office, Rose fits singer Molly Wade with a new corset, whose daring design is being rejected all over town. After loosening her shoe strap, Rose is inspired to propose the corset as a costume for Molly’s current revue. They bring the costume, along with a song, to theatrical producer Martin Schlessinger, but he will not consider it until Rose threatens to take the idea to his competitor. Immediately, however, the police close the revue because of the scandalous outfits, and Rose’s office is picketed by the Purity League. In deep debt to James Carter’s steel company, which supplied her the garter stays, Rose rejects her assistant’s offer to spirit her out of town and instead confronts Jim. After overhearing him complain to Teddy Roosevelt that his tons of barbed wire are virtually unsalable in the West, where large ranchers have convinced their smaller colleagues that wire will hurt the cattle, Rose boldly suggests that she sell the wire for him to work off her debt. Although Jim rejects the plan as far too dangerous for a woman, he invites her to dinner, intrigued by her spirit. Promptly falling in love with her, Jim issues a warrant for Rose’s arrest in order to force her to abandon her plan, but she sneaks out of town with his wire disguised in a box marked ... +


In New York in 1897, inventor Charlie Masters crashes his horseless buggy into saleslady Rose Gillray’s wagon. Despite his boasts about his automobile’s superiority, he cannot start it and Rose is forced to pull it with her horse. At her business office, the Gillray Corset Company, Charlie annoys Rose further by ridiculing her suffragette leanings. In her office, Rose fits singer Molly Wade with a new corset, whose daring design is being rejected all over town. After loosening her shoe strap, Rose is inspired to propose the corset as a costume for Molly’s current revue. They bring the costume, along with a song, to theatrical producer Martin Schlessinger, but he will not consider it until Rose threatens to take the idea to his competitor. Immediately, however, the police close the revue because of the scandalous outfits, and Rose’s office is picketed by the Purity League. In deep debt to James Carter’s steel company, which supplied her the garter stays, Rose rejects her assistant’s offer to spirit her out of town and instead confronts Jim. After overhearing him complain to Teddy Roosevelt that his tons of barbed wire are virtually unsalable in the West, where large ranchers have convinced their smaller colleagues that wire will hurt the cattle, Rose boldly suggests that she sell the wire for him to work off her debt. Although Jim rejects the plan as far too dangerous for a woman, he invites her to dinner, intrigued by her spirit. Promptly falling in love with her, Jim issues a warrant for Rose’s arrest in order to force her to abandon her plan, but she sneaks out of town with his wire disguised in a box marked “corsets.” At the first train stop, Rose is outsmarted by the male salesmen, who elbow her out of the trolley which is heading into town. Luckily, Charlie, on his way to show his invention in California, drives by and offers her a ride into town. When the car breaks down, Rose, upon loosening her shoe, realizes that her corset stay can serve as a replacement part, and they are soon on their way. Although Charlie scoffs at Rose’s feminist ideas, he is powerless to deny her the opportunity to drive his car. After she drives it into a ditch, they begin a quarrel that ends when Charlie kisses Rose, who returns his kiss before hopping onto a passing wagon. At the town hotel, Rose finds Molly, now assisting a traveling magician, and persuades Molly to join her. They head to Kansas City, where a Cattlemen’s Association meeting is taking place in their hotel. As Rose schemes to find a room in the overbooked hotel, Molly flirts with young Rough Rider Lt. Jack Rice. Upon hearing that Texas cattle baron Joel Kingdon has been placed in a room earlier reserved for the Prince of Wales, Rose decides to sell Joel on the idea of barbed wire. To that end, she pretends to be the prince’s American contact and, entranced, Joel offers his room to the ladies and invites them to dinner. In the hallway, however, his cohort Cal, who has found the wire in Rose’s bags, reveals her real purpose, prompting Joel to set into motion a ruse to thwart her. At dinner that night, Joel pays a judge to pretend that the rancher is pro-barbed wire, then invites Rose to visit him in Texas. Back in the room, the prince’s arrival forces Rose and Molly to sleep in the ladies’ lounge, where they are awoken by Charlie, who is also in Kansas City looking for a place to sleep. After Rose and Charlie bicker, Rose directs Jim to send a shipment of wire to Texas, then heads there with Molly. As soon as they step off the train, they are abducted by Joel’s men, who transport them to the county border, where they are unceremoniously dumped and told to walk home. Despite their warning that any barbed wire salesmen caught in Texas will be hanged, Rose insists on returning to town to telegraph Jim to stop the wire shipment. Along the way, she and Molly are thrilled to see Charlie, who offers them a ride but needs Rose’s corset stay to fix the engine. At the telegraph office, Joel confronts Rose, admitting that he was waiting for her over the borderline. Charlie, amused by the proceedings, decides to stay, as do Rose and Molly, even though Joel has ordered all the locals to refuse service to the women. Rose is about to give up when she loosens her shoe and realizes she must sell the wives on barbed wire. Over the next few days, she explains the wire’s benefits to all the ranch women, who agree to meet in town. Before the meeting, however, Joel has Rose arrested for “cruelty to animals,” and Jim soon arrives in town to post her bail. After Jim proposes to Rose, Joel, also planning to propose, beats up Jim. Joel has Rose and Molly forcibly brought to his ranch. They are followed by Charlie, who is knocked out and hidden by Joel’s men. Rose turns down Joel’s proposal, after which Jack arrives with the Rough Riders to free the women. Back in town, when no one shows up for the meeting, Molly leaves with Jack. Charlie teases Rose that women should stay in the kitchen, prompting her to rant about men until he proposes marriage, which she accepts, admitting she cannot go on alone. By loosening her shoe, Rose is inspired to demand a hearing in defense of barbed wire, at which the jury is packed with Joel’s rancher friends. Although the opposition lies to prove the wire is harmful to animals, Charlie arranges for the ranchers' wives to herd the cattle into town, where the cows avoid a barbed wire fence, proving the wire’s efficacy. As the ranchers gather to place orders for Jim’s wire, Jim and Joel commiserate over losing Rose. Later, while driving to California, Charlie tells Rose about a new flying machine, and is horrified to discover that she cannot wait to sell it. +

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

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