Magnificent Doll (1946)

94-95 mins | Drama | November 1946

Director:

Frank Borzage

Producer:

Jack H. Skirball

Cinematographer:

Joseph Valentine

Editor:

Ted J. Kent

Production Designer:

Alexander Golitzen

Production Company:

Hallmark Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

As depicted in the film, Dolley Payne Todd Madison (1768-1849), who was reared in Virginia by Quaker parents, rose to fame as a premiere White House hostess, during both the presidency of Thomas Jefferson and that of her second husband, James Madison. Although the CBCS list and reviews spell the heroine's name as "Dolly," the correct spelling was "Dolley." The NYT review notes that, while many basic historical facts in the film are true, the subplot about a romantic rivalry between Madison and Aaron Burr, and the overall romanticized version of Dolley's life, are highly exaggerated. The duel between Burr and Alexander Hamilton which is depicted in the film took place on 11 Jul 1804. Hamilton died the next day. Burr was acquitted of treason in 1807 and died in 1836.
       Universal production notes add that writer Irving Stone purposely avoided repeating the well-known historical episode in which Dolley saved a portrait of George Washington and important state papers during the 1814 British attack on Washington. A Jan 1946 HR article reports that Stone had originally intended to use his Dolley Madison research for a novel, but was persuaded by the producers to write an original screenplay instead. Stone had previously written several biographies, and, in 1946, sold the screen rights to five of his novels. Universal borrowed David Niven from Samuel Goldwyn's company for the film. In 1951, Universal entered into a legal battle with the Bank of America when the bank foreclosed its mortagages on several of the studio's films, including Magnificent Doll . In an unprecented move, Universal countered by launching a suit in which it asked to be found not ... More Less

As depicted in the film, Dolley Payne Todd Madison (1768-1849), who was reared in Virginia by Quaker parents, rose to fame as a premiere White House hostess, during both the presidency of Thomas Jefferson and that of her second husband, James Madison. Although the CBCS list and reviews spell the heroine's name as "Dolly," the correct spelling was "Dolley." The NYT review notes that, while many basic historical facts in the film are true, the subplot about a romantic rivalry between Madison and Aaron Burr, and the overall romanticized version of Dolley's life, are highly exaggerated. The duel between Burr and Alexander Hamilton which is depicted in the film took place on 11 Jul 1804. Hamilton died the next day. Burr was acquitted of treason in 1807 and died in 1836.
       Universal production notes add that writer Irving Stone purposely avoided repeating the well-known historical episode in which Dolley saved a portrait of George Washington and important state papers during the 1814 British attack on Washington. A Jan 1946 HR article reports that Stone had originally intended to use his Dolley Madison research for a novel, but was persuaded by the producers to write an original screenplay instead. Stone had previously written several biographies, and, in 1946, sold the screen rights to five of his novels. Universal borrowed David Niven from Samuel Goldwyn's company for the film. In 1951, Universal entered into a legal battle with the Bank of America when the bank foreclosed its mortagages on several of the studio's films, including Magnificent Doll . In an unprecented move, Universal countered by launching a suit in which it asked to be found not liable for repayment. According to a Dec 1953 Var article, however, the Bank of America was eventually awarded a cash judgment of over $134,000. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 Nov 1946.
---
Daily Variety
15 Nov 46
p. 3, 6
Film Daily
29 Nov 46
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jan 1946.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 1946.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 May 46
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 46
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 46
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 46
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Oct 46
p. 3274.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
23 Nov 46
p. 3321.
New York Times
9 Dec 46
p. 34.
New York Times
26 Aug 1951.
---
Variety
20 Nov 46
p. 22.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Horace McNally
Harlan Tucker
Joe King
Eddy C. Waller
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
WRITER
Orig story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art supv
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
COSTUMES
Gowns
Jewelry
MUSIC
SOUND
Dir of sd
[Sd] tech
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Dir of makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Set cont
Prod mgr
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1946
Production Date:
late May--early August 1946
Copyright Claimant:
Hallmark Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
9 December 1946
Copyright Number:
LP757
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
94-95
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
PCA No:
12024
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1814, during the British invasion of Washington, D.C., Dorthea "Dolly" Payne Madison, wife of President James Madison, busily prepares an evacuation of the White House. While packing her belongings, Dolly recalls her journey to the White House, beginning in her youth, when her father, John Payne, returned to their home in Virginia after fighting in the Revolutionary War: Fulfilling a promise he made to a dying friend and fellow soldier, Payne sells his slaves, joins the Quaker faith, moves his family to Philadelphia and arranges the marriage of his daughter Dolly to John Todd, his friend's son. Dolly, however, dislikes her new husband, and though she eventually has a son by him, she resigns herself to a loveless marriage. Tragedy strikes when first Dolly's father and then her son die from yellow fever. Dolly eventually falls in love with John, but her affections come too late, as John, too, is killed by the deadly plague. The next two years prove to be lonely and bitter ones for Dolly and her mother, who live together in a large house. Dolly's mother eventually takes in a number boarders, including Aaron Burr, a Senator from New York, and Burr's friend, James Madison, a Congressman from Virginia. Burr and Madison, though close friends, are often at odds with each other, arguing about everything from politics to their common interest in Dolly. Dolly and Burr spark a romance, but Dolly soon discovers that he is an autocrat and begins to despise his politics. She later turns to Madison for companionship, and they fall in love. When Dolly tells Burr that she intends to marry Madison, he becomes enraged ... +


In 1814, during the British invasion of Washington, D.C., Dorthea "Dolly" Payne Madison, wife of President James Madison, busily prepares an evacuation of the White House. While packing her belongings, Dolly recalls her journey to the White House, beginning in her youth, when her father, John Payne, returned to their home in Virginia after fighting in the Revolutionary War: Fulfilling a promise he made to a dying friend and fellow soldier, Payne sells his slaves, joins the Quaker faith, moves his family to Philadelphia and arranges the marriage of his daughter Dolly to John Todd, his friend's son. Dolly, however, dislikes her new husband, and though she eventually has a son by him, she resigns herself to a loveless marriage. Tragedy strikes when first Dolly's father and then her son die from yellow fever. Dolly eventually falls in love with John, but her affections come too late, as John, too, is killed by the deadly plague. The next two years prove to be lonely and bitter ones for Dolly and her mother, who live together in a large house. Dolly's mother eventually takes in a number boarders, including Aaron Burr, a Senator from New York, and Burr's friend, James Madison, a Congressman from Virginia. Burr and Madison, though close friends, are often at odds with each other, arguing about everything from politics to their common interest in Dolly. Dolly and Burr spark a romance, but Dolly soon discovers that he is an autocrat and begins to despise his politics. She later turns to Madison for companionship, and they fall in love. When Dolly tells Burr that she intends to marry Madison, he becomes enraged and forces her to kiss him, but Dolly soon marries Madison, and they move to Virginia. One day, Madison receives a request from Presidential candidate Thomas Jefferson to come to Washington, D.C. to work on his campaign. Madison accepts the offer, and he and Dolly spend their fifth wedding anniversary in Washington. The election results in a tie between Jefferson and his Vice-Presidential running-mate, Burr, and the responsibility of choosing the next president goes to the House of Representatives. Burr, meanwhile, makes a claim to the Presidency, but later changes his mind when Dolly persuades him to drop out. After winning the presidency, Jefferson appoints Madison as his Secretary of State and puts Dolly in charge of remodeling the President's home. Resenting his powerless position in government, Burr schemes to sabotage Jefferson's re-election bid. After Burr kills his political adversary, Alexander Hamilton, in a duel, he flees to Philadelphia, where he makes a failed attempt to order government troops into a battle to take the Southern states. Burr is later charged with murder and treason and becomes the object of public scorn. When an angry mob assembles outside Burr's door demanding that he be hanged, Dolly prevents Burr's lynching by telling the mob that the unrepentant Burr does not deserve to die a martyr. As the mob disperses, Madison arrives and proudly embraces his wife. +

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

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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.