The Glass Menagerie (1950)

106 mins | Drama | 30 September 1950

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HISTORY

Papers included in the Charles K. Feldman collection at the AFI Louis B. Mayer Library add the following information about the production: Feldman originally wanted Jeanne Crain to play the part of "Laura," and Ethel Barrymore was his first choice for the role of "Amanda." Feldman also considered Gene Tierney and Montgomery Clift for the film. Feldman intended to make the picture in Technicolor but was unable to get a commitment from the company. Norman Corwin wrote a script for the film, but none of his material was used in the final picture. The film was shot in 42 days for a total cost of $1,357,000.
       According to 3 Mar 1949 HR news item, Warner Bros. held discussions with Helen Hayes to play the part of "Amanda." An 18 Jul 1949 HR news item reported that Feldman was negotiating with Marlon Brando, who had made a name for himself in Williams' play Streetcar Named Desire , to co-star in the film. According to a 22 Aug 1949 memo from New York studio executive Harry Mayer to studio executive Steve Trilling, reproduced in a modern source, Tallulah Bankhead, Miriam Hopkins, Ralph Meeker and Pamela Rivers tested for roles in the film.
       In a 31 Mar 1949 letter to Warner Bros. executive Jack L. Warner, MPAA head Joseph I. Breen wrote, "We suggest that Tom's narration at this stage be very carefully scrutinized and possibly rewritten, to get away from the present suggestion of an incestuous attraction toward his sister. Particularly we think of his line, 'Oh Laura, Laura--I tried to leave you behind, but I am more faithful than I intended ... More Less

Papers included in the Charles K. Feldman collection at the AFI Louis B. Mayer Library add the following information about the production: Feldman originally wanted Jeanne Crain to play the part of "Laura," and Ethel Barrymore was his first choice for the role of "Amanda." Feldman also considered Gene Tierney and Montgomery Clift for the film. Feldman intended to make the picture in Technicolor but was unable to get a commitment from the company. Norman Corwin wrote a script for the film, but none of his material was used in the final picture. The film was shot in 42 days for a total cost of $1,357,000.
       According to 3 Mar 1949 HR news item, Warner Bros. held discussions with Helen Hayes to play the part of "Amanda." An 18 Jul 1949 HR news item reported that Feldman was negotiating with Marlon Brando, who had made a name for himself in Williams' play Streetcar Named Desire , to co-star in the film. According to a 22 Aug 1949 memo from New York studio executive Harry Mayer to studio executive Steve Trilling, reproduced in a modern source, Tallulah Bankhead, Miriam Hopkins, Ralph Meeker and Pamela Rivers tested for roles in the film.
       In a 31 Mar 1949 letter to Warner Bros. executive Jack L. Warner, MPAA head Joseph I. Breen wrote, "We suggest that Tom's narration at this stage be very carefully scrutinized and possibly rewritten, to get away from the present suggestion of an incestuous attraction toward his sister. Particularly we think of his line, 'Oh Laura, Laura--I tried to leave you behind, but I am more faithful than I intended to be,' might convey a suggestion of incestuous love. Also...'I can feel you touch my shoulder. I turn around and look into your eyes. Laura, I know now what I am searching for.'"
       Williams' play won the New York Drama Critics' award, and was the first of his works to be adapted for the screen. The film was re-released by Twentieth Century-Fox in 1959. Jane Wyman reprised her role in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 8 Mar 1954. Fay Bainter played "Amanda" in this production. In 1966, the CBS network presented a performance of the play, which starred Shirley Booth, Barbara Loden and Hal Holbrook.
       A 1973 television version of the play, directed by Anthony Harvey and starring Katharine Hepburn, Joanna Miles, Sam Waterston and Michael Moriarty (who won an Emmy for his performance) aired on the ABC network in 1973. Paul Newman directed a second film version in 1987, which starred Joanne Woodward, John Malkovich, Karen Allen and James Naughton. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 Sep 1950.
---
Daily Variety
19 Sep 50
p. 3.
Film Daily
19 Sep 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 49
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jul 49
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Oct 49
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 49
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 49
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 50
p. 3, 6
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jun 1959.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
23 Sep 50
p. 493.
New York Times
29 Sep 50
p. 31.
Variety
20 Sep 50
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
Prod
WRITERS
Adpt for the scr
Adpt for the scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Orig mus
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, as presented on the stage by Eddie Dowling and Louis J. Singer (New York, 31 Mar 1945).
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 September 1950
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 28 September 1950
Production Date:
25 October--late November 1949
Copyright Claimant:
Chas. K. Feldman Group Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
13 October 1950
Copyright Number:
LP466
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
106
Length(in feet):
9,648
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14172
SYNOPSIS

During the early morning watch, Merchant Marine Tom Wingfield remembers his life in a shabby St. Louis apartment with his mother Amanda and crippled sister Laura: Although she must sell magazine subscriptions to supplement Tom's income from his work in a warehouse, Amanda fancies herself to be socially superior to their impoverished neighbors. She blames the family's reduced circumstances on her absent husband, "a telephone operator who fell in love with Long Distance," and abandoned the family years earlier. Afraid that Tom will also leave the family, she nags him to bring home one of his friends to meet, and hopefully court, the shy, lame Laura. At Amanda's urging, Laura is taking a secretarial course, but her only real interest is her collection of small glass animals. Tom dreams of escaping his squalid life and Amanda's romanticized memories of her genteel Southern girlhood. When Amanda learns that Laura has left the secretarial school, she proclaims that they will have to get her married. Laura reminds her mother that she is crippled, and Amanda angrily replies that she must not think of herself that way. One day, Tom invites his friend, Jim O'Connor, to dinner. Carried away by the possibilities of Laura's first "gentleman caller," Amanda imagines Laura married to Jim, and despite Tom's gentle caution that Laura's shyness makes her seem peculiar, Amanda makes elaborate preparations for the dinner. Laura, however, is distressed when she learns the name of their visitor, because she remembers him from high school as one of the most popular boys. She avoids dinner, claiming that she is too ill to eat, but later, when ... +


During the early morning watch, Merchant Marine Tom Wingfield remembers his life in a shabby St. Louis apartment with his mother Amanda and crippled sister Laura: Although she must sell magazine subscriptions to supplement Tom's income from his work in a warehouse, Amanda fancies herself to be socially superior to their impoverished neighbors. She blames the family's reduced circumstances on her absent husband, "a telephone operator who fell in love with Long Distance," and abandoned the family years earlier. Afraid that Tom will also leave the family, she nags him to bring home one of his friends to meet, and hopefully court, the shy, lame Laura. At Amanda's urging, Laura is taking a secretarial course, but her only real interest is her collection of small glass animals. Tom dreams of escaping his squalid life and Amanda's romanticized memories of her genteel Southern girlhood. When Amanda learns that Laura has left the secretarial school, she proclaims that they will have to get her married. Laura reminds her mother that she is crippled, and Amanda angrily replies that she must not think of herself that way. One day, Tom invites his friend, Jim O'Connor, to dinner. Carried away by the possibilities of Laura's first "gentleman caller," Amanda imagines Laura married to Jim, and despite Tom's gentle caution that Laura's shyness makes her seem peculiar, Amanda makes elaborate preparations for the dinner. Laura, however, is distressed when she learns the name of their visitor, because she remembers him from high school as one of the most popular boys. She avoids dinner, claiming that she is too ill to eat, but later, when Amanda arranges for Laura to be alone with Jim, his open friendliness draws her out. Diagnosing her shyness as an inferiority complex, Jim persuades her to show him her glass collection and then coaxes her to dance. Laura's awkwardness causes them to accidentally break the horn off Laura's prize glass unicorn. Although she is upset at first, she is able to accept the change because it enables the unicorn to fit in with the horses in the collection. To Amanda's delight, Jim then asks Laura to go across the alley to the Paradise Ballroom. Again Jim encourages Laura to have more self-confidence, and after kissing her, explains that he is engaged to a woman named Betty. Amanda is more upset than Laura, who gives Jim the broken unicorn as a gift and invites him to visit again with Betty. Amanda takes out her disappointment on Tom, who storms out of the apartment. Laura follows him to voice her approval and love. Tom joins the Merchant Marine. Later, Laura has her own gentleman caller. +

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.