Beloved Infidel (1959)

123 mins | Biography | November 1959

Director:

Henry King

Writer:

Sy Bartlett

Producer:

Jerry Wald

Cinematographer:

Leon Shamroy

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, Maurice Ransford

Production Company:

Company of Artists, Inc.
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HISTORY

Although the DV preview reported a running time of 108 minutes, the released film's running time was 123 minutes. F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896--1940) published This Side of Paradise , his first novel, in 1920. Buoyed by the fame and fortune of his novels and magazine stories dealing with the privileged lives of wealthy, aspiring socialites during the Roaring Twenties, Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda led an extravagant life that led to Scott's alcoholism and Zelda's mental illness. After suffering several breakdowns, Zelda was in and out of clinics from 1930 until her death in a hospital fire in 1948. Zelda's mental illness had a debilitating effect on Scott's writing, and by 1936, he was hopelessly in debt and incapacitated by excessive drinking and poor physical health.
       In 1937, M-G-M hired Scott to write screenplays in Hollywood, and there he met and fell in love with movie columnist Sheilah Graham. Scott, who had little success in Hollywood, was working on the first draft of a new novel, The Last Tycoon, when he suffered a heart attack and died in 1940. Graham chronicled her life and affair with Scott in her autobiography Beloved Infidel . The film Beloved Infidel , however, dealt only with the last part of Graham's book in which she wrote of her affair with Fitzgerald.
       According to publicity materials contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, Jerry Wald wanted to film Graham's memoirs, but insisted that she publish them in book form before the film was made. To this end, he hired Gerold Frank to help her organize and publish her story. ... More Less

Although the DV preview reported a running time of 108 minutes, the released film's running time was 123 minutes. F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896--1940) published This Side of Paradise , his first novel, in 1920. Buoyed by the fame and fortune of his novels and magazine stories dealing with the privileged lives of wealthy, aspiring socialites during the Roaring Twenties, Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda led an extravagant life that led to Scott's alcoholism and Zelda's mental illness. After suffering several breakdowns, Zelda was in and out of clinics from 1930 until her death in a hospital fire in 1948. Zelda's mental illness had a debilitating effect on Scott's writing, and by 1936, he was hopelessly in debt and incapacitated by excessive drinking and poor physical health.
       In 1937, M-G-M hired Scott to write screenplays in Hollywood, and there he met and fell in love with movie columnist Sheilah Graham. Scott, who had little success in Hollywood, was working on the first draft of a new novel, The Last Tycoon, when he suffered a heart attack and died in 1940. Graham chronicled her life and affair with Scott in her autobiography Beloved Infidel . The film Beloved Infidel , however, dealt only with the last part of Graham's book in which she wrote of her affair with Fitzgerald.
       According to publicity materials contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, Jerry Wald wanted to film Graham's memoirs, but insisted that she publish them in book form before the film was made. To this end, he hired Gerold Frank to help her organize and publish her story. The film originally contained a sequence dealing with Graham's childhood at a London orphanage, but it was deleted from the released print. That sequence featured Lorraine Burke as Graham as a child and Peggy Shannon as the orphanage matron, according to studio publicity. The hotel bungalow in which Fitzgerald lived and worked was part of The Garden of Allah, located at Sunset Blvd. and Crescent Heights, the Hollywood residence of many famous entertainers. Many of the actors appearing in The Garden of Allah sequence were stars in the 1920s and 1930s.
       As noted in studio publicity, the character of "Bob Carter" was based on humorist Robert Benchley, a close friend of Fitzgerald. According to a Dec 1958 HR news item, producer Jerry Wald considered casting Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer as Graham and Fitzgerald. Although HR news items state that Jane Saunders, Anne Benton, Al Austin, June Blair, John Gabriel, Stanley Kamber and Nina Shipman were tested for roles, it is doubtful they appeared in the released film. According to a modern source, Deborah Kerr was unhappy with her role as "Graham" and submitted her own version of the script, which was rejected.
       ABC television broadcast several films based on Fitzgerald's life, including The Last of the Belles , which was shown on 16 Jan 1974, and featured Richard Chamberlain as the author and Blythe Danner as Zelda and was directed by George Schaefer. Broadcast on 16 May 1976, F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood starred Jason Miller and Tuesday Weld as the Fitzgeralds and was directed by Anthony Page. A television film based on Fitzgerald's life was broadcast on the Showtime network in 2002. That film starred Jeremy Irons as Fitzgerald, Sissy Spacek as Zelda and Natalie Radford as Graham. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 Nov 59
p. 18.
Box Office
30 Nov 1959.
---
Daily Variety
17 Nov 59
p. 3.
Film Daily
17 Nov 59
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 1958
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 59
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jun 1959
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 59
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 59
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 59
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 59
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
21 Nov 59
p. 491.
New York Times
18 Nov 59
p. 46.
Variety
18 Nov 59
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Head gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's ward
Women's cost
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Key grip
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Beloved Infidel by Sheilah Graham and Gerold Frank (New York, 1958).
SONGS
"Beloved Infidel," words and music by Paul Francis Webster and Franz Waxman.
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1959
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 17 November 1959
Production Date:
mid July--late September 1959
Copyright Claimant:
Company of Artists, Inc. and Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
18 November 1959
Copyright Number:
LP15158
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
lenses by Bausch & Lomb
Duration(in mins):
123
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1936, British columnist Sheilah Graham sails from South Hampton, England to New York to apply for a job with the North American newspaper alliance. Sheilah tells John Wheeler, an editor at the alliance, that she has impeccable connections because she comes from royal lineage and is engaged to Lord Donegall. John hires her, and when the town starts buzzing about a column she writes describing marriage as obsolete, offers her a year contract to write a column from Hollywood. In Hollywood, Sheilah exercises her tart tongue against star Janet Pierce. Soon after, John asks Sheilah to tone down her personal attacks in return for a chance to broadcast a weekly radio show. One night, humorist Bob Carter invites Sheilah to a party at his house, and there she meets renowned novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, who is working as a screenwriter at the studio. After exchanging intense glances over dinner, the two begin a torrid affair. Bob, an old friend of Scott, reminisces to Sheilah about the glamorous escapades of the Fitzgeralds and explains how Scott has been forced to turn to screenwriting in order to support his wife Zelda, who has been institutionalized in a sanitarium. Excited about winning an assignment, Scott invites Sheilah to spend a weekend with him in Tijuana, Mexico. As their relationship deepens, Scott muses that the public has lost interest in his novels. One day, Scott sees an advertisement for one of his plays that is to be performed at the Pasadena Playhouse, and invites Sheilah to join him for opening night. Dressed in evening clothes, they arrive at the playhouse in a hired ... +


In 1936, British columnist Sheilah Graham sails from South Hampton, England to New York to apply for a job with the North American newspaper alliance. Sheilah tells John Wheeler, an editor at the alliance, that she has impeccable connections because she comes from royal lineage and is engaged to Lord Donegall. John hires her, and when the town starts buzzing about a column she writes describing marriage as obsolete, offers her a year contract to write a column from Hollywood. In Hollywood, Sheilah exercises her tart tongue against star Janet Pierce. Soon after, John asks Sheilah to tone down her personal attacks in return for a chance to broadcast a weekly radio show. One night, humorist Bob Carter invites Sheilah to a party at his house, and there she meets renowned novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, who is working as a screenwriter at the studio. After exchanging intense glances over dinner, the two begin a torrid affair. Bob, an old friend of Scott, reminisces to Sheilah about the glamorous escapades of the Fitzgeralds and explains how Scott has been forced to turn to screenwriting in order to support his wife Zelda, who has been institutionalized in a sanitarium. Excited about winning an assignment, Scott invites Sheilah to spend a weekend with him in Tijuana, Mexico. As their relationship deepens, Scott muses that the public has lost interest in his novels. One day, Scott sees an advertisement for one of his plays that is to be performed at the Pasadena Playhouse, and invites Sheilah to join him for opening night. Dressed in evening clothes, they arrive at the playhouse in a hired limousine then discover that the play is being staged by high school students. Scott is chagrined and humiliated when he overhears one of the students exclaim that she thought he was dead. While they are at the beach one day, Scott questions Sheilah about her past, and she becomes defensive and breaks down in tears. Sheilah then confesses that she fabricated her background, and that she really is a poor, uneducated girl from the slums who was reared in a London orphanage. When Sheilah confides that she feels inferior to Scott and his educated friends, he offers to tutor her in literature and history. The day arrives for Sheilah to give her first radio broadcast, but after she stiffly delivers her address, the network, headquartered in Chicago, decides to hire a professional actress to read her columns. Scott encourages Sheilah to go to Chicago and do the show herself, and offers to accompany her there. On the day before they are to leave, Stan Harris, the producer of the film that Scott is writing, informs him that he is being fired because his work is unacceptable. Stunned and defeated, Scott begins to drink heavily. When Scott behaves obnoxiously during their flight, Sheilah, unaware that he has been fired, asks him to leave when the plane lands in New Mexico. Scott insists on continuing to Chicago, however, and in Sheilah's hotel room, he insults network executive Ted Robinson. John then defends Sheilah's right to deliver her own words and persuades Robinson to allow her to present a run-through of the program. As Sheilah is about to begin her audition, Scott comes to the studio and starts to heckle her. After escorting the drunken Scott back to the hotel, John tells Sheilah that Scott has been fired. Now understanding Scott's aberrant behavior, Sheilah returns with him to Hollywood, where he is put under a doctor's care. When Sheilah voices her fears about his incipient alcoholism, Scott promises to stop drinking. Sheilah then pleads with him to write another novel, and when he responds that he does not have the luxury of time to write, she arranges to rent a house for them in the solitude of Malibu. There, Scott completes the first four chapters of his new novel and mails them to his literary agent, hoping to have them accepted by a magazine. Some time later, Scott receives a rejection letter and begins to drink in despair. When Sheilah returns home from work to find him drunk and joking with two besotted bums, she becomes furious. Suddenly turning abusive, Scott threatens to kill her and pulls a gun from his dresser drawer. They wrestle for the weapon and when it goes off, Sheilah calls him a worthless drunk and runs out of the house. Bob summons the doctor to treat the now incapacitated Scott, and the physician cautions that he must stop drinking or face dire health consequences. Sheilah moves back to her house in Los Angeles and when Scott calls her, she hangs up on him. He continues to hound her, but she refuses to accept his letters or calls. One day, upon returning home from work, Sheilah finds a goodbye note from Scott, apologizing for the grief he has caused her. Moved by Scott's contrition, Sheilah answers his next call and agrees to see him. After he promises to stop drinking and tells her he has started a new novel, they reconcile. In the following weeks, Scott tenderly writes of meeting Sheilah and their enduring love. To celebrate his progress, they attend a preview at the studio. There, Scott falls ill and fears that people will think he is drinking once again. Sheilah covers for him, but he nevertheless refuses to see a doctor. The next day, Scott, optimistic about his book being accepted by a publisher, tells Sheilah how much he loves her and then collapses. Panicked, Sheilah calls for a doctor, but she is too late, for Scott is pronounced dead. Some time later, Sheilah walks the beach in Malibu, recalling happy times with Scott. +

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

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