Coquette (1929)

75 mins | Melodrama | 12 April 1929

Director:

Sam Taylor

Cinematographer:

Karl Struss

Production Company:

The Pickford Corp.
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HISTORY

According to the 5 Sep 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review, Mary Pickford’s next starring feature, Coquette, would be her first sound film. Pickford had purchased screen rights to George Abbott and Anne Preston’s 1927 stage play, which was currently running on Broadway. Sam Taylor was named as director, and Allen McNeil and John Grey were enlisted to write the adaptation. John Mack Brown won the role of Pickford’s co-star, as announced in the 21 Sep 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review. Auditions and screen tests were held at the Paramount Studio in Long Island, NY, for Broadway stage actors, as reported in the 28 Sep 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review.
       According to the 5 Oct 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review, a pre-release premiere was scheduled for 1 Apr 1929, in New York City; Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; and Boston, MA, with a national release to follow in the early fall of 1929. Sam Taylor planned to make and distribute separate sound and silent versions of Coquette, and a 15 Oct 1928 production start date was noted.
       As reported in the 29 Oct 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review, Mary Pickford was “undecided” about making the adaptation, as her character commits suicide. The 5 Nov 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review announced that after changing the original ending so that her character lives, Pickford agreed to continue with the project. Additionally, the “naughtiness” was toned down to retain Pickford’s reputation as an innocent.
       The 21 Nov 1928 Var stated that United Artists (UA) was installing new sound equipment in their studios, which would operate twenty-four hours a day. Upon ... More Less

According to the 5 Sep 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review, Mary Pickford’s next starring feature, Coquette, would be her first sound film. Pickford had purchased screen rights to George Abbott and Anne Preston’s 1927 stage play, which was currently running on Broadway. Sam Taylor was named as director, and Allen McNeil and John Grey were enlisted to write the adaptation. John Mack Brown won the role of Pickford’s co-star, as announced in the 21 Sep 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review. Auditions and screen tests were held at the Paramount Studio in Long Island, NY, for Broadway stage actors, as reported in the 28 Sep 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review.
       According to the 5 Oct 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review, a pre-release premiere was scheduled for 1 Apr 1929, in New York City; Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; and Boston, MA, with a national release to follow in the early fall of 1929. Sam Taylor planned to make and distribute separate sound and silent versions of Coquette, and a 15 Oct 1928 production start date was noted.
       As reported in the 29 Oct 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review, Mary Pickford was “undecided” about making the adaptation, as her character commits suicide. The 5 Nov 1928 Exhibitors Daily Review announced that after changing the original ending so that her character lives, Pickford agreed to continue with the project. Additionally, the “naughtiness” was toned down to retain Pickford’s reputation as an innocent.
       The 21 Nov 1928 Var stated that United Artists (UA) was installing new sound equipment in their studios, which would operate twenty-four hours a day. Upon completion of the machinery, Coquette was scheduled for the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. time slot, while Roland West’s Alibi (1929, see entry), then referred to as Nightstick, was allotted studio time from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
       The 12 Dec 1928 Var listed the final casting choices, including John Sainpolis, John Gates, William Janney, and Louise Beavers. However, John Gales was later replaced by Matt Moore, after a scheduling conflict with Gales’s stage performance, as explained in the 26 Jan 1929 Motion Picture News. The 19 Dec 1928 Var reported that rehearsals were underway, and that production would begin first with the sound version, and the silent version would follow.
       Principal photography began on 26 Dec 1928 after three weeks of rehearsals,
according to that day’s Var.
       Nearly five weeks later, the 6 Feb 1929 Var announced that filming of the sound version had finished, and Pickford would go on hiatus until Sam Taylor completed a treatment for the silent version. Although the 27 Feb 1929 Var stated that work on the silent feature began on 25 Feb 1929, the 2 Mar 1929 Motion Picture News reported that Pickford and associates made a “last minute decision” not to create a silent version of Coquette after all, on the day shooting was to begin. UA believed that a silent film could not “come up to the standard” of the sound adaptation. On 9 Mar 1929, Motion Picture News indicated that UA officials determined that the loss of profits from “unwired” theaters was “too small to go to the trouble of making a complete silent version.”
       According to the 6 Mar 1929 Var, the premiere would be held on 1 Apr 1929 at the United Artists theatre in Los Angeles. However, the 23 Mar 1929 Motion Picture News announced that the world premiere of Coquette would take place at the Rivoli Theatre in New York City, on an unspecified date in Apr 1929.
       The 6 Apr 1929 Motion Picture News reported that Mary Pickford made an announcement at the recent Hollywood premiere of Coquette that she would no longer make silent films. She stated: “Nothing but all talkers, since the talking picture is here to stay.”
       A 5 Apr 1929 opening date at the Rivoli Theatre was noted in the 6 Apr 1929 Motion Picture News, which listed a $2 ticket price. According to the 10 Apr 1929 Var, the premiere at the Rivoli proved “embarrassing” when the theater house fuse blew, preventing the sound from being broadcasted. A second start produced sound, which was reportedly not quite right for the remainder. Despite technical glitches, the picture earned $21,000 in opening weekend box-office receipts.
       The 14 Apr 1929 FD review deemed Pickford’s voice in her first “all-talker,” “lovely.” On 10 Apr 1929, the Var review declared Coquette to be merely good, and faulted the filmmakers’ appeal to the censors.
       Mary Pickford won an Academy Award for her performance in this film. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Daily Review
5 Sep 1928
p. 3.
Exhibitors Daily Review
21 Sep 1928
p. 6.
Exhibitors Daily Review
28 Sep 1928
p. 4.
Exhibitors Daily Review
5 Oct 1928
p. 2.
Exhibitors Daily Review
29 Oct 1928
p. 7.
Exhibitors Daily Review
5 Nov 1928
p. 4.
Exhibitors Daily Review
12 Dec 1928
p. 4.
Film Daily
14 Apr 1929
p. 12.
Motion Picture News
12 Jan 1929
p. 130.
Motion Picture News
26 Jan 1929
p. 272.
Motion Picture News
2 Mar 1929
p. 616.
Motion Picture News
9 Mar 1929
p. 751.
Motion Picture News
23 Mar 1929
pp. 892-893.
Motion Picture News
6 Apr 1929
p. 1027, 1119.
New York Times
6 Apr 1929
p. 14.
Variety
21 Nov 1928
p. 5.
Variety
12 Dec 1928
p. 49.
Variety
19 Dec 1928
p. 8.
Variety
26 Dec 1928
p. 17, 20.
Variety
6 Feb 1929
p. 7.
Variety
27 Feb 1929
p. 126.
Variety
6 Mar 1929
p. 18.
Variety
10 Apr 1929
p. 9, 25.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
WRITERS
Adpt
Dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Coquette by George Abbott and Anne Preston (New York, 8 Nov 1927).
SONGS
"Coquette," words and music by Irving Berlin.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 April 1929
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 5 April 1928
New York opening: 6 April 1929
Production Date:
26 December 1928--early February 1929
Copyright Claimant:
The Pickford Corp.
Copyright Date:
30 March 1929
Copyright Number:
LP560
Physical Properties:
Sound
Movietone
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
75
Length(in feet):
6,993
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Norma Besant, a heartless belle of a southern town, falls in love with Michael Jeffrey, a crude and prideful mountaineer. Her father, a physician, is so displeased that he refuses to allow them to marry, orders Jeffrey out of his house, and, half-crazed, shoots and kills Jeffrey to preserve his family's good name. While he is awaiting his trial Besant commits suicide in a final effort to atone to his daughter for her ... +


Norma Besant, a heartless belle of a southern town, falls in love with Michael Jeffrey, a crude and prideful mountaineer. Her father, a physician, is so displeased that he refuses to allow them to marry, orders Jeffrey out of his house, and, half-crazed, shoots and kills Jeffrey to preserve his family's good name. While he is awaiting his trial Besant commits suicide in a final effort to atone to his daughter for her unhappiness. +

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.