The Earl of Chicago (1940)

85 mins | Drama | 5 January 1940

Producer:

Victor Saville

Cinematographer:

Ray June

Editor:

Frank Sullivan

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

According to news items in MPD and HR , David O. Selznick originally owned the rights to the Brock Williams novel and planned to produce the film with Edward G. Robinson in the starring role. In Jul 1938, however, Selznick sold his rights to the novel to M-G-M. According to a 22 Jul HR news item, M-G-M purchased it for Spencer Tracy. According to a 22 Aug MPD news item, however, the studio bought the story as a starring vehicle for Robert Montgomery, and planned to produce it at the M-G-M British studios in Denham, England. When the war broke out in Europe in early Sep 1939, the Denham studios closed temporarily and the decision was made to shoot the picture at M-G-M's main studio in Culver City, CA. According to a HR news item on 7 Oct 1939, producer Victor Saville had already directed some location footage in London especially for The Earl of Chicago prior to Denham's closure. Saville's footage was then shipped to the United States to be incorporated in the Richard Thorpe directed ... More Less

According to news items in MPD and HR , David O. Selznick originally owned the rights to the Brock Williams novel and planned to produce the film with Edward G. Robinson in the starring role. In Jul 1938, however, Selznick sold his rights to the novel to M-G-M. According to a 22 Jul HR news item, M-G-M purchased it for Spencer Tracy. According to a 22 Aug MPD news item, however, the studio bought the story as a starring vehicle for Robert Montgomery, and planned to produce it at the M-G-M British studios in Denham, England. When the war broke out in Europe in early Sep 1939, the Denham studios closed temporarily and the decision was made to shoot the picture at M-G-M's main studio in Culver City, CA. According to a HR news item on 7 Oct 1939, producer Victor Saville had already directed some location footage in London especially for The Earl of Chicago prior to Denham's closure. Saville's footage was then shipped to the United States to be incorporated in the Richard Thorpe directed scenes. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
26 Dec 39
p. 3.
Film Daily
3 Jan 40
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jul 38
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 38
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Oct 39
pp. 4-5.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Oct 39
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 39
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 39
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Dec 39
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
5 May 38
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
22 Aug 38
p. 7.
Motion Picture Daily
29 Dec 39
p. 9.
Motion Picture Herald
11 Nov 39
p. 54.
Motion Picture Herald
30 Dec 39
p. 48.
New York Times
14 Mar 40
p. 29.
Variety
3 Jan 40
p. 40.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Montague Shaw
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Earl of Chicago by Brock Williams (New York, 1937).
DETAILS
Release Date:
5 January 1940
Production Date:
11 October--14 November 1939
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
2 January 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9553
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
85
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
5911
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Robert "Silky" Kilmount, an ex-bootlegger turned legitimate distiller, offers Quentin "Doc" Ramsey, a man he framed and sent to jail seven years earlier, the job of general manager at the Kilmount distillery. Doc, seething with bitterness upon his release from prison, takes advantage of Silky's implicit faith in his honesty and accepts the job, waiting for a chance for revenge. Soon after accepting the position, Doc finds his opportunity when Gervase Gonwell, an English attorney, appears at the office to announce that Silky has inherited the Kilmount estate from his late uncle, the Earl of Kinmonth. Although he is aware that by law the estate cannot be sold, Doc encourages Silky to travel to England and cash in on his newly found inheritance. When Silky insists that Doc accompany him, Doc forges Silky's signature on a document granting him power of attorney and begins his scheme to ruin the ex-gangster and new earl. Silky's arrival in England pits his gutter bred demeanor and philosophy against British tradition, but under the guidance of his kindly butler Munsey, and his cousin Gerald, Silky learns about his family history and to appreciate the concept of noblesse oblige . As Silky tries to ascertain the value of his estate, Doc slowly bankrupts his empire. It is not until his investiture in the House of Lords that Silky learns he is bankrupt and is forbidden to sell the estate. Enraged, Silky confronts Doc, his betrayer, and kills him. For his crime, Silky is sentenced by the members of the House of Lords to the traditional form of execution for a peer, hanging by a silken rope at the ... +


Robert "Silky" Kilmount, an ex-bootlegger turned legitimate distiller, offers Quentin "Doc" Ramsey, a man he framed and sent to jail seven years earlier, the job of general manager at the Kilmount distillery. Doc, seething with bitterness upon his release from prison, takes advantage of Silky's implicit faith in his honesty and accepts the job, waiting for a chance for revenge. Soon after accepting the position, Doc finds his opportunity when Gervase Gonwell, an English attorney, appears at the office to announce that Silky has inherited the Kilmount estate from his late uncle, the Earl of Kinmonth. Although he is aware that by law the estate cannot be sold, Doc encourages Silky to travel to England and cash in on his newly found inheritance. When Silky insists that Doc accompany him, Doc forges Silky's signature on a document granting him power of attorney and begins his scheme to ruin the ex-gangster and new earl. Silky's arrival in England pits his gutter bred demeanor and philosophy against British tradition, but under the guidance of his kindly butler Munsey, and his cousin Gerald, Silky learns about his family history and to appreciate the concept of noblesse oblige . As Silky tries to ascertain the value of his estate, Doc slowly bankrupts his empire. It is not until his investiture in the House of Lords that Silky learns he is bankrupt and is forbidden to sell the estate. Enraged, Silky confronts Doc, his betrayer, and kills him. For his crime, Silky is sentenced by the members of the House of Lords to the traditional form of execution for a peer, hanging by a silken rope at the Tower of London. Though frightened at first, Silky accepts his fate under Munsey's guidance, and walks to his death in the fashion of a true nobleman. +

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.