Jeanne Eagels (1957)

108 mins | Biography | August 1957

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Jeanne Eagels Story . Although the DV review notes that the film featured a written disclaimer stating “all events in the photoplay are based on fact and fiction,” the viewed print contained no such disclaimer, and the character of "Sal Satori" was fictional. Jeanne Eagels, born 26 Jun 1894 in Kansas City, MO, appeared in Kansas City pageants, festivals and local stages from the age of seven. She later toured the Midwest with the Dubinsky Brothers Tent Repertoire Company, and in 1911, arrived in New York where she rose to fame in the role of “Sadie Thompson” in Somerset Maugham's Rain . Eagels appeared in five films before dying from an overdose of heroin on 3 Oct 1929. Eagels died shortly after her last film, Jealousy opened in New York. In Jeanne Eagels , the name of her final film was changed from Jealousy to Forever Young . As portrayed in the film, Eagels was suspended by Actors Equity for chronically canceling her performances.
       According to a May 1956 HR news item, Jerry Wald purchased the rights to Eagels’ life story while he was vice-president in charge of production at Columbia. After Wald left the studio to become an independent producer, the rights were turned over to him as part of his twelve-picture deal with the studio. According to a Dec 1956 HR news item, technical advisors Charles and William Couch originally worked as carnival barkers, and veteran showmen Jimmy Woods and Roy Kabat were hired ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Jeanne Eagels Story . Although the DV review notes that the film featured a written disclaimer stating “all events in the photoplay are based on fact and fiction,” the viewed print contained no such disclaimer, and the character of "Sal Satori" was fictional. Jeanne Eagels, born 26 Jun 1894 in Kansas City, MO, appeared in Kansas City pageants, festivals and local stages from the age of seven. She later toured the Midwest with the Dubinsky Brothers Tent Repertoire Company, and in 1911, arrived in New York where she rose to fame in the role of “Sadie Thompson” in Somerset Maugham's Rain . Eagels appeared in five films before dying from an overdose of heroin on 3 Oct 1929. Eagels died shortly after her last film, Jealousy opened in New York. In Jeanne Eagels , the name of her final film was changed from Jealousy to Forever Young . As portrayed in the film, Eagels was suspended by Actors Equity for chronically canceling her performances.
       According to a May 1956 HR news item, Jerry Wald purchased the rights to Eagels’ life story while he was vice-president in charge of production at Columbia. After Wald left the studio to become an independent producer, the rights were turned over to him as part of his twelve-picture deal with the studio. According to a Dec 1956 HR news item, technical advisors Charles and William Couch originally worked as carnival barkers, and veteran showmen Jimmy Woods and Roy Kabat were hired to assure the authenticity of the carnival sequence. A Dec 1956 HR news item notes that Mac Miller was tested for the part of “John Donahue.” Although Feb and May 1957 HR news items add Billy Griffity and Frank Sully to the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       Although the CBCS lists an actress "Nanette Fabares " as a "teenager," neither actress Nanette Fabray (whose real surname was Fabares), nor her niece Shelley Fabares appeared in the film. A Mar 1957 HR news items add that the final theater scene in the film was shot at the shuttered Ritz Theater in Los Angeles. According to Dec 1956 and Jan 1957 HR news items, location shooting was done at the Columbia Ranch in Burbank, CA and at the RKO-Pathé lot. Joseph Novak, credited as "Patron" in the cast, was the father of star Kim Novak. Although director Frank Borzage and his brother Lew, an assistant director, appeared as the director and assistant director of Eagels' film, in reality they never worked with the actress. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 Jul 1957.
---
Daily Variety
19 Jul 57
p. 3.
Film Daily
24 Jul 57
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 1956
p. 1, 9.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 1956
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 1956
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Dec 1956
p. 8, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Dec 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1957
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 1957
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1957
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
1 May 1957
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 57
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 1956
p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
20 Jul 57
p. 458.
New York Times
31 Aug 57
p. 19.
Variety
24 Jul 57
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Johnny Tarangelo
James Gonzales
Joe Mell
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus cond
SOUND
Rec supv
DANCE
Dance coach
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
Tech adv
SOURCES
SONGS
"Half of My Heart," music by Morris Stoloff and George Duning, lyrics by Ned Washington
"I'll Take Romance," music and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and Ben Oakland.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Jeanne Eagels Story
Release Date:
August 1957
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 30 August 1957
Production Date:
26 December 1956--16 March 1957
Copyright Claimant:
George Sidney Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 August 1957
Copyright Number:
LP9358
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
108
Length(in reels):
13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Kansas City, Missouri, in the late 1910s, Jeanne Eagels, a young waitress filled with dreams of stardom, enters a beauty contest at the local carnival. Although a traveling salesman had promised Jeanne first prize in exchange for sexual favors, carnival owner Sal Satori awards the prize to another contestant. As the carnival packs up that night, Jeanne approaches Sal, and claiming that she rightfully won the contest, brashly asks him for a job. The coarse Sal begrudgingly hires Jeanne, and after becoming romantically involved with her, promotes her to the position of “hootchy kootchy” dancer. One day, the police come to the carnival and arrest Jeanne for her “obscene” dancing. At the trial, the judge is so dazzled by Jeanne and her skimpy, bespangled costume, that he dismisses the case. Exhilarated by their court victory, Sal decides to sell the carnival and go into business with his brother Frank in Coney Island. As soon as they reach New York, Jeanne informs Sal that she has arranged to take acting lessons from renowned drama coach Mme. Neilson. Although he wants to settle down with Jeanne and start a family, Sal resigns himself to Jeanne’s decision, hoping that she will soon tire of acting. When Jeanne meets with the imperious Mme. Neilson, however, the teacher calls her a cheap carnival performer. After Jeanne reacts vehemently, Neilson, impressed by her fervor, agrees to take her on as a student. Jeanne begins her climb to fame after the star she is understudying goes on vacation and Jeanne takes her place to much acclaim. When Jeanne spurns Sal’s family celebration ... +


In Kansas City, Missouri, in the late 1910s, Jeanne Eagels, a young waitress filled with dreams of stardom, enters a beauty contest at the local carnival. Although a traveling salesman had promised Jeanne first prize in exchange for sexual favors, carnival owner Sal Satori awards the prize to another contestant. As the carnival packs up that night, Jeanne approaches Sal, and claiming that she rightfully won the contest, brashly asks him for a job. The coarse Sal begrudgingly hires Jeanne, and after becoming romantically involved with her, promotes her to the position of “hootchy kootchy” dancer. One day, the police come to the carnival and arrest Jeanne for her “obscene” dancing. At the trial, the judge is so dazzled by Jeanne and her skimpy, bespangled costume, that he dismisses the case. Exhilarated by their court victory, Sal decides to sell the carnival and go into business with his brother Frank in Coney Island. As soon as they reach New York, Jeanne informs Sal that she has arranged to take acting lessons from renowned drama coach Mme. Neilson. Although he wants to settle down with Jeanne and start a family, Sal resigns himself to Jeanne’s decision, hoping that she will soon tire of acting. When Jeanne meets with the imperious Mme. Neilson, however, the teacher calls her a cheap carnival performer. After Jeanne reacts vehemently, Neilson, impressed by her fervor, agrees to take her on as a student. Jeanne begins her climb to fame after the star she is understudying goes on vacation and Jeanne takes her place to much acclaim. When Jeanne spurns Sal’s family celebration in her honor for a press party, Sal returns to Coney Island, angry and alone. Later that night, an elated Jeanne comes home, sheds her clothes and plunges in to the sea. Sal runs in after her, and after they reconcile, he proposes. When Jeanne replies that she is auditioning for a new play, Sal realizes that they have grown apart. After the play opens in Washington, D.C. to scathing reviews, theatrical producer Al Brooks escorts Jeanne to a party held at the estate of a wealthy dowager. There, Jeanne meets the dowager's indolent nephew, the soon-to-be-divorced John Donahue, whose sole achievement in life was to be named All American in college. Now promoted as “the golden girl,” Jeanne fears that her play will fail on Broadway. Outside the theater one day, actress Elsie Desmond, who was once considered a golden girl until her career was dimmed by alcohol and drugs, approaches Jeanne and shows her a copy of Rain , a play she optioned in the hope of making a comeback. Jeanne promises to talk to Brooks about the play, but upon reading it, envisions herself as its star. Upon discovering that Elsie’s option has lapsed, Jeanne lies that Elsie wanted her to play the lead and convinces Brooks to produce it. When Sal learns of Jeanne’s betrayal, he accuses her of acting despicably and breaks off their relationship. On opening night, just as Jeanne is about to walk on stage, Elsie stops her and denounces her as a monster. When the audience, unable to contain their admiration for Jeanne’s performance, breaks out in applause in the middle of the second act, Sal leaves the theater, defeated. After Elsie publicly accuses Jeanne of stealing her play, Jeanne goes to talk to her, but when she arrives Elsie’s hotel, Jeanne finds a shoe on the windowsill and sees Elsie’s body lying in the street below, a victim of suicide. Racked by guilt and remorse, Jeanne is comforted by Sal, but she lashes out at him and turns to John. Soon after, John informs Jeanne that his divorce is final and asks her to marry him. Two years later, as Jeanne begins to drink heavily, the press tags her with the sobriquet “Gin Eagels,” and when her drunkenness causes the cancellation of several of the play’s performances, Actor’s Equity complains that Jeanne’s absences are depriving the play’s actors of their paychecks. Meanwhile, Sal has become a successful businessman, having opened a of chain theaters and carnivals with his brother, but still longs for Jeanne. As the years pass, Jeanne and John descend into the depths of alcoholism, causing their relationship to deteriorate. While Jeanne is in Hollywood filming a movie, the stagehands derisively refer to John as “Mr. Eagels.” Their marriage now meaningless, Jeanne divorces John and is forced to pay him a large settlement. As Jeanne prepares to open a new play in New York, she finds Sal standing in an alley in back of the theater, gazing at her poster. After Jeanne bitterly asserts that she plans to “stay on top,” Sal rejects her offer to attend the opening. That night, a drunken Jeanne arrives at the theater and sends for an unscrupulous doctor to administer sedatives to keep her going. After the doctor injects the drug, Jeanne goes on stage and begins to behave irrationally, finally collapsing in front of the audience. After Jeanne’s play is cancelled, Actor’s Equity forbids her to work on the legitimate stage for eighteen months. Witnessing Jeanne’s desperation and humiliation, Sal offers her a job at his vaudeville theater, performing in between the trained seal act and the slapstick comedians. One day, a wistful Jeanne visits Sal at the amusement park and after confessing her desperate unhappiness, asks him to marry him. Although he still loves her, Sal replies that Jeanne is “not the marrying kind.” Later, in her dressing room, Jeanne is sexually accosted by a leering comedian. When she tries to resist, the man throws her to the floor, calls her a drunken tramp and leaves. Hysterical, Jeanne swallows a handful of pills, causing her to hallucinate. Thinking that she hears her cue, Jeanne collapses and dies while descending the stairs to the stage. A few days later, after Jeanne's last film opens at a New York theater, a tearful Sal sits in the audience, watching the shadowy figure of Jeanne singing "I'll Take Romance." +

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

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