Dodsworth (1936)

90 mins | Drama | 23 September 1936

Director:

William Wyler

Writer:

Sidney Howard

Cinematographer:

Rudolph Maté

Editor:

Daniel Mandell

Production Designer:

Richard Day

Production Company:

Samuel Goldwyn, Inc.
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HISTORY

Walter Huston, Maria Ouspenskaya and Harlan Briggs all recreated their roles from the Broadway version of the play which co-starred Fay Bainter as Fran. Huston had also appeared in the role in Los Angeles shortly before the start of the film's production. According to a HR news item, the Los Angeles production co-starred Huston's wife, Nan Sunderland . In an Apr 27 HR news item, it was noted that actress Freida Inescourt was testing "for the role of Nan Sunderland ." It is possible that Sunderland had earlier been considered for the role of Fran in the film as well. Another HR news item noted that extensive backgrounds were being shot in New York in early May 1936 by a crew "headed by Frank Cabett." Cabett's exact position has not been determined. Richard Day won an Academy Award for Best Art direction. In addition, the picture, Sidney Howard, Oscar Lagerstrom, Huston, and Ouspenskaya were nominated for Academy Awards in their respective categories. Huston also earned a Best Actor citation from the New York Film Critics. The film was in the NYT 's Ten Best list and was one of the top twenty box office films of the year. Several reviews commented on the fact that the picture was filmed concurrent to Mary Astor's divorce and child custody hearing during which the contents of her diary created national headlines. On reviewer even referred to her as "Mary (Dear Diary) Astor." Reviews also pointed out the fact that Huston's career had finally recuperated after his previous American film, RKO's Keep 'Em Rolling (1934, see below) ... More Less

Walter Huston, Maria Ouspenskaya and Harlan Briggs all recreated their roles from the Broadway version of the play which co-starred Fay Bainter as Fran. Huston had also appeared in the role in Los Angeles shortly before the start of the film's production. According to a HR news item, the Los Angeles production co-starred Huston's wife, Nan Sunderland . In an Apr 27 HR news item, it was noted that actress Freida Inescourt was testing "for the role of Nan Sunderland ." It is possible that Sunderland had earlier been considered for the role of Fran in the film as well. Another HR news item noted that extensive backgrounds were being shot in New York in early May 1936 by a crew "headed by Frank Cabett." Cabett's exact position has not been determined. Richard Day won an Academy Award for Best Art direction. In addition, the picture, Sidney Howard, Oscar Lagerstrom, Huston, and Ouspenskaya were nominated for Academy Awards in their respective categories. Huston also earned a Best Actor citation from the New York Film Critics. The film was in the NYT 's Ten Best list and was one of the top twenty box office films of the year. Several reviews commented on the fact that the picture was filmed concurrent to Mary Astor's divorce and child custody hearing during which the contents of her diary created national headlines. On reviewer even referred to her as "Mary (Dear Diary) Astor." Reviews also pointed out the fact that Huston's career had finally recuperated after his previous American film, RKO's Keep 'Em Rolling (1934, see below) which was a critical and box office failure. An HR news item noted that Samuel Goldwyn had brought Broadway actor Charles Halton out from New York for a role in this film. Dodsworth was apparently his first film. Modern sources list the following additional cast members: Fred Malatesta ( Ship's waiter ), and Dale Van Sickel and Joan Barclay ( Guests in ship's salon ). Huston recreated his role on a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 4 Oct 1937, and Fay Bainter and Edward Arnold appeared in the roles of Fran and Sam Dodsworth on a Chase and Sanborn Hour radio production on 31 Jul 1938. The Sinclair Lewis novel also provided the basis for a British television drama in 1950, starring Chatterton and Walter Abel. Although Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson were announced as the stars of another proposed version in 1977 and Gregory Peck was to star and produce a television version in 1982, neither were made. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
16 Sep 36
p. 3.
Film Daily
19 Sep 36
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 36
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 36
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 May 36
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jul 36
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 36
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Sep 36
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 38
p. 2.
Motion Picture Daily
17 Sep 36
p. 10.
Motion Picture Daily
25 Sep 36
pp. 8-12.
Motion Picture Herald
8 Aug 36
pp. 16-17.
Motion Picture Herald
26 Sep 36
p. 39.
MPSI
1 Jan 37
p. 12.
New York Times
24 Sep 36
p. 29.
Spectator
26 Sep 36
pp. 8-9.
Variety
30 Sep 36
p. 17.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr to spec seq
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Press agents
Press agents
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Dodsworth by Sinclair Lewis (New York, 1929) and the play of the same name dramatized by Sidney Howard, as produced on the stage by Max Gordon (New York 24 Feb 1934).
DETAILS
Release Date:
23 September 1936
Production Date:
early May--12 August 1936
Copyright Claimant:
Samuel Goldwyn
Copyright Date:
28 September 1936
Copyright Number:
LP 6613
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90
Country:
United States
PCA No:
2603
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Sam Dodsworth faces the sale of his successful motor company with both sadness and anticipation. After years of hard work, he and Fran, his social climbing wife, are taking a long European trip. Fran considers herself too young and vibrant to stay in a small town like Zenith with ordinary friends like Matey and Cubby Pearson, while the down-to-earth Sam enjoys the simple life. Leaving their married daughter Emily, they sail for Europe on a luxury liner where Fran has a mild flirtation with Capt. Locket. Sam thinks that she is just getting something out of her system and isn't worried, although he dislikes the continental friends whom Fran acquires. When she begins an affair with Arnold Iselin, he leaves for home, hoping that she will soon come to her senses. Her affair with Iselin falls through and she decides to go back to Sam, but only if he will let her stay in Europe. They become estranged, especially after the birth of Emily's baby heighten's Fran's fear of getting old and she begins another affair in Vienna with impoverished young nobleman Kurt von Obersdorf. She sends Sam away to obtain a divorce and he travels alone through Europe. In Naples he runs into Edith Cortwright, a kind, attractive divorcee whom he had met on the voyage to Europe. Edith asks Sam to lunch at her villa and when she realizes how unhappy he is, she invites him to stay. Meanwhile, Kurt's mother refuses to give her permission for his marriage to Fran, an older woman. Crushed, Fran sends for Sam just after he has asked Edith to marry him. ... +


Sam Dodsworth faces the sale of his successful motor company with both sadness and anticipation. After years of hard work, he and Fran, his social climbing wife, are taking a long European trip. Fran considers herself too young and vibrant to stay in a small town like Zenith with ordinary friends like Matey and Cubby Pearson, while the down-to-earth Sam enjoys the simple life. Leaving their married daughter Emily, they sail for Europe on a luxury liner where Fran has a mild flirtation with Capt. Locket. Sam thinks that she is just getting something out of her system and isn't worried, although he dislikes the continental friends whom Fran acquires. When she begins an affair with Arnold Iselin, he leaves for home, hoping that she will soon come to her senses. Her affair with Iselin falls through and she decides to go back to Sam, but only if he will let her stay in Europe. They become estranged, especially after the birth of Emily's baby heighten's Fran's fear of getting old and she begins another affair in Vienna with impoverished young nobleman Kurt von Obersdorf. She sends Sam away to obtain a divorce and he travels alone through Europe. In Naples he runs into Edith Cortwright, a kind, attractive divorcee whom he had met on the voyage to Europe. Edith asks Sam to lunch at her villa and when she realizes how unhappy he is, she invites him to stay. Meanwhile, Kurt's mother refuses to give her permission for his marriage to Fran, an older woman. Crushed, Fran sends for Sam just after he has asked Edith to marry him. He dutifully returns to Fran, but just as they are about to sail for America, her catty remarks about their friend Matty makes him realize that he no longer loves her. He leaves her screaming after him and goes happily to join Edith at her villa. +

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

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