Tall, Dark and Handsome (1941)

78 mins | Comedy | 24 January 1941

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Under Crust and Ready, Willing and Beautiful . Actress Vicki Lester's name was misspelled as "Vickie." According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, Robert Hopkins worked on a story outline for the film, but the extent of his contribution to the completed picture has not been confirmed. According to HR and LAEx news items, Betty Grable and Jack Oakie were originally set to star in the picture, but Grable was replaced by Virginia Gilmore, and Oakie was instead placed in The Great American Broadcast . HR also noted that S. Z. Sakall had been set for a "top role" as a "comic gangster," and that model Cobina Wright, Jr. had been tested for a part. Sakall and Wright do not appear in the finished film, however.
       According to the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the PCA cautioned the studio that the picture would not be approved unless "a great number of objectionable lines of dialogue," which were sexually suggestive or dealing with criminal activity, were omitted. The PCA also stated that "it will be necessary to insert some dialogue to indicate that your lead has determined to give up his career of crime, & start anew from scratch."
       The picture marked the film debut of Stanley Clements and Milton Berle's first film since his appearance in the 1938 RKO production Radio City Revels . According to a 14 May 1941 HR news item, the studio had "upped" the film from "its ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Under Crust and Ready, Willing and Beautiful . Actress Vicki Lester's name was misspelled as "Vickie." According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, Robert Hopkins worked on a story outline for the film, but the extent of his contribution to the completed picture has not been confirmed. According to HR and LAEx news items, Betty Grable and Jack Oakie were originally set to star in the picture, but Grable was replaced by Virginia Gilmore, and Oakie was instead placed in The Great American Broadcast . HR also noted that S. Z. Sakall had been set for a "top role" as a "comic gangster," and that model Cobina Wright, Jr. had been tested for a part. Sakall and Wright do not appear in the finished film, however.
       According to the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the PCA cautioned the studio that the picture would not be approved unless "a great number of objectionable lines of dialogue," which were sexually suggestive or dealing with criminal activity, were omitted. The PCA also stated that "it will be necessary to insert some dialogue to indicate that your lead has determined to give up his career of crime, & start anew from scratch."
       The picture marked the film debut of Stanley Clements and Milton Berle's first film since his appearance in the 1938 RKO production Radio City Revels . According to a 14 May 1941 HR news item, the studio had "upped" the film from "its original intended program rating to full 'A' status," by increasing the advertising budget. A viewing of the film revealed that the department store scenes were shot in the I. Magnin store located in the Wilshire district of Los Angeles. Karl Tunberg and Darrell Ware received an Academy Award nomination in the Writing (Original Screenplay) category. Tall, Dark and Handsome was the first picture produced by Fred Kohlmar for Twentieth Century-Fox. Kohlmar also produced Twentieth Century-Fox's 1950 remake of the film, entitled Love That Brute , which was directed by Alexander Hall and starred Paul Douglas, Jean Peters and Cesar Romero. In the latter picture, Romero played the role of the rival gangster. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Feb 41
p. 64.
Box Office
25 Jan 1941.
---
Daily Variety
17 Jan 41
pp. 3-4.
Film Daily
24 Jan 41
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 40
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Nov 40
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Nov 40
p. 2, 9
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 40
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 40
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jan 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 41
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
18 Sep 1940.
---
Motion Picture Daily
21 Jan 1941.
---
Motion Picture Herald
25 Jan 41
p. 51.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
11 Jan 41
p. 43.
New York Times
24 Jan 41
p. 15.
Variety
22 Jan 41
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
DANCE
Dances staged by
Dances staged by
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Loc mgr
Tech adv on funeral scenes
STAND INS
Singing double for Virginia Gilmore
SOURCES
SONGS
"Hello Ma, I Done It Again," "Wishful Thinking" and "I'm Alive and Kickin'," music and lyrics by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Under Crust
Ready Willing and Beautiful
Release Date:
24 January 1941
Production Date:
12 November--early December 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
24 January 1941
Copyright Number:
LP10526
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
78
Length(in feet):
7,060 , 7,100
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
6904
SYNOPSIS

On Christmas Eve, 1928, Chicago gang boss Shep Morrison is at a department store when he spots pretty Judy Miller, who works there as a mother's helper. In order to get a date with her, Shep, who has a reputation as a fierce killer, lies to Judy by telling her that his name is S. J. Morrison and he is a widowed banker with two children. He hires Judy to look after his children, then sends his right-hand man, Frosty Welch, to obtain some for him. Frosty returns with Detroit Harry, Jr., a tough little mug who does not recognize the gangster and reluctantly agrees to play Shep's son. Telling Judy that his other child is with his grandmother, Shep introduces Harry and they decorate the Christmas tree. Shep is interrupted when Pretty Willie, his chief rival, sends two henchmen, Puffy and Louie, to kill him. Frosty and Shep take the men down to the cellar, and the next day, Shep spends a pleasant Christmas with Judy and Harry. He is interrupted again when Pretty Willie himself arrives with more men. The two gang lords strike a bargain to confine their activities to opposite sides of the river, and although it is settled to Shep's satisfaction, Judy learns his true identity and discovers that Harry is not his son. Desperate to keep Judy, Shep promises to care for Harry, who now admires his "father," and gets Judy a singing job at his nightclub. As time passes, Judy realizes that Shep is a kind man, and they fall in love. When Pretty Willie enrages Shep by flirting with Judy, Judy tries ... +


On Christmas Eve, 1928, Chicago gang boss Shep Morrison is at a department store when he spots pretty Judy Miller, who works there as a mother's helper. In order to get a date with her, Shep, who has a reputation as a fierce killer, lies to Judy by telling her that his name is S. J. Morrison and he is a widowed banker with two children. He hires Judy to look after his children, then sends his right-hand man, Frosty Welch, to obtain some for him. Frosty returns with Detroit Harry, Jr., a tough little mug who does not recognize the gangster and reluctantly agrees to play Shep's son. Telling Judy that his other child is with his grandmother, Shep introduces Harry and they decorate the Christmas tree. Shep is interrupted when Pretty Willie, his chief rival, sends two henchmen, Puffy and Louie, to kill him. Frosty and Shep take the men down to the cellar, and the next day, Shep spends a pleasant Christmas with Judy and Harry. He is interrupted again when Pretty Willie himself arrives with more men. The two gang lords strike a bargain to confine their activities to opposite sides of the river, and although it is settled to Shep's satisfaction, Judy learns his true identity and discovers that Harry is not his son. Desperate to keep Judy, Shep promises to care for Harry, who now admires his "father," and gets Judy a singing job at his nightclub. As time passes, Judy realizes that Shep is a kind man, and they fall in love. When Pretty Willie enrages Shep by flirting with Judy, Judy tries to pacify them by inviting Pretty Willie to a party thrown by Shep. Judy then accepts Shep's marriage proposal, but at the party begins to have second thoughts when Harry runs away from military school, where he got in trouble for emulating Shep. When she confides to Frosty that she her fears spending her life with a killer, he reveals that Shep has never killed anyone, and that his "hits" are instead living a good life down in the cellar. Frosty shows her the cellar prison where they are kept, but one of the men gets the key by picking his pocket and they escape to the party upstairs. Upon finding out that Shep's reputation is nothing but hot air, Pretty Willie decides to dispose of him. Puffy and Louie, upon being ordered to kill Shep, decide to give him a break, as he did for them, and let him escape. Three days later, Frosty is hiding out when he is visited by Shep, whom everyone assumed was dead. Frosty admits that he does not know where Judy and Harry are, and Shep tells him to plant his wallet and ring on an unidentified corpse in the morgue. The body is assumed to be Shep's, and a disguised Shep attends his own funeral, where he slips some train tickets to Judy and Harry. He then convinces Puffy and Louie to implicate Pretty Willie in his "murder," and Pretty Willie is arrested soon after. At the train station, Shep joins Judy, who agrees to start life over with him, and tells Harry and Frosty that they will meet them in Rio de Janeiro after picking up a minister. +

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.