Random Harvest (1942)

128 mins | Romance | 1942

Director:

Mervyn LeRoy

Producer:

Sidney Franklin

Cinematographer:

Joseph Ruttenberg

Editor:

Harold F. Kress

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Corp.
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HISTORY

According to the frontispiece on James Hilton's novel Random Harvest , the title comes from a German Official Report: "bombs fell at random." According to various news items, Hilton's novel was purchased in galley form by M-G-M. Although the film generally follows the storyline of the novel, there are significant differences in the disclosing of events between the novel and the film. The events of the novel evolve through the narration of "Harrison" (a minor character in the film), who meets "Charles Rainier" on a train on Armistice Day, 11 Nov 1937. Kitty, a prominent character in the film, is only a minor character in the novel. The novel ends at the start of World War II, whereas the film ends in the mid-1930s.
       HR news items in Sep and Oct 1941 noted that director Clarence Brown was about to sail for England to film the story there, with Ronald Colman and Greer Garson. Following America's entry into World War II, a decision was made to shoot the film on the M-G-M lot in Culver City, CA, and in early 1942, Mervyn LeRoy was assigned to direct the picture. Actors Donna Reed and Edmund Gwenn were at one time cast in the film. Reed was to have played Kitty, a role taken over by Susan Peters, and Gwenn was cast as the Prime Minister, a role not in the released film. Richard Ney and Charles Ray were both mentioned in news items as being cast, but they were not in the released film. HR news items also include George Broughton in the cast, but his appearance has not ... More Less

According to the frontispiece on James Hilton's novel Random Harvest , the title comes from a German Official Report: "bombs fell at random." According to various news items, Hilton's novel was purchased in galley form by M-G-M. Although the film generally follows the storyline of the novel, there are significant differences in the disclosing of events between the novel and the film. The events of the novel evolve through the narration of "Harrison" (a minor character in the film), who meets "Charles Rainier" on a train on Armistice Day, 11 Nov 1937. Kitty, a prominent character in the film, is only a minor character in the novel. The novel ends at the start of World War II, whereas the film ends in the mid-1930s.
       HR news items in Sep and Oct 1941 noted that director Clarence Brown was about to sail for England to film the story there, with Ronald Colman and Greer Garson. Following America's entry into World War II, a decision was made to shoot the film on the M-G-M lot in Culver City, CA, and in early 1942, Mervyn LeRoy was assigned to direct the picture. Actors Donna Reed and Edmund Gwenn were at one time cast in the film. Reed was to have played Kitty, a role taken over by Susan Peters, and Gwenn was cast as the Prime Minister, a role not in the released film. Richard Ney and Charles Ray were both mentioned in news items as being cast, but they were not in the released film. HR news items also include George Broughton in the cast, but his appearance has not been confirmed. An item in LAEx on Sep 1942 noted that producer Sidney Franklin, who frequently appeared in background shots in his films, was not seen in Random Harvest , but sang with the choir that provided background music to one scene. The song, "She Is Ma Daisy," (called "She's Ma Daisy" in the onscreen credits) performed by Garson in the film, was popularized by well-known Scottish music hall star Sir Harry Lauder, whom Garson briefly imitates. Although Random Harvest was completed in Jul 1942, it did not have its premiere until mid-Dec. According to news items, M-G-M delayed the release of the picture to avoid competition with another very popular Garson film, Mrs. Miniver (see above).
       Random Harvest received seven Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Colman), Best Supporting Actress (Peters), Art Direction, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, and Adapted Screenplay. Screenwriters Arthur Wimperis, George Froeschel and Claudine West did win the Oscar in that category (along with Random Harvest novelist James Hilton), but for their work on Mrs. Miniver . According to M-G-M studio records at the AMPAS Library, the picture's negative cost was $1,210,000. Its gross was $8,147,000, yielding a profit of $4,384,000 and making it one of M-G-M's biggest hits of the decade. Colman and Garson recreated their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre version of the story, broadcast on 3 Jan 1944. Another version, which also starred Colman and Garson, was broadcast on 1 Apr 1948. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
28 Nov 1942.
---
Daily Variety
25 Nov 42
p. 3.
Film Daily
25 Nov 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Sep 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Sep 41
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 41
p. 21.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 42
pp. 1-2.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Apr 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
26 May 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 42
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 42
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
7 Sep 1942.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
28 Nov 42
p. 1029.
New York Times
18 Dec 42
p. 36.
Variety
25 Nov 42
p. 16.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Harry J. Shannon
Bobbie Hale
Captain John Van Eyck
Sid D'Albrook
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Mervyn LeRoy Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
"She's Ma Daisy" staged by
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
MAKEUP
Hairstyles by
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Random Harvest by James Hilton (Boston, 1941).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"She Is Ma Daisy," music and lyrics by Sir Harry Lauder and J. D. Harper
DETAILS
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 17 December 1942
Production Date:
27 April--8 July 1942
addl scenes began 23 July 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
6 October 1942
Copyright Number:
LP11666
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
128
Length(in feet):
11,364 , 11,505
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
8545
SYNOPSIS

On 11 Nov 1918, "Smith," an amnesiac, shell-shocked officer, who has lived in a county asylum in Melbridge, England for many months, wanders into town for the first time, attracted by the sounds of celebration at the end of World War I. In a tobacconist's shop, Smith's hesitating speech alerts the owner that he is from the asylum, but a kindly entertainer, known as Paula Ridgeway, whispers that he should leave, then takes him to a local pub. Paula invites him to her show and gently draws him out. Because "Smithy," as Paula calls him, has come down with the influenza, she and her friend, barkeep "Biffer," take him in and nurse him back to health. Smithy thrives under Paula's care and she obtains a job for him with her troupe. When an asylum caretaker reveals that they are still looking for a missing inmate, though, Paula runs away with Smithy and takes him to a small town in Devon. They stay at a local inn, and soon she gets a job as a typist, while a thriving Smithy begins to write. When he sells his first article to the Liverpool Mercury , Smithy tells Paula that he loves her and proposes. After their marriage they move into a small cottage, and in November 1920, Paula gives birth to a baby boy. A few days later, Smithy receives a telegram from the Mercury asking him to come to Liverpoool to discuss a permanent position on the paper. Because Paula is still recovering from a difficult birth, he reluctantly travels alone, planning to return the following night. After checking into his ... +


On 11 Nov 1918, "Smith," an amnesiac, shell-shocked officer, who has lived in a county asylum in Melbridge, England for many months, wanders into town for the first time, attracted by the sounds of celebration at the end of World War I. In a tobacconist's shop, Smith's hesitating speech alerts the owner that he is from the asylum, but a kindly entertainer, known as Paula Ridgeway, whispers that he should leave, then takes him to a local pub. Paula invites him to her show and gently draws him out. Because "Smithy," as Paula calls him, has come down with the influenza, she and her friend, barkeep "Biffer," take him in and nurse him back to health. Smithy thrives under Paula's care and she obtains a job for him with her troupe. When an asylum caretaker reveals that they are still looking for a missing inmate, though, Paula runs away with Smithy and takes him to a small town in Devon. They stay at a local inn, and soon she gets a job as a typist, while a thriving Smithy begins to write. When he sells his first article to the Liverpool Mercury , Smithy tells Paula that he loves her and proposes. After their marriage they move into a small cottage, and in November 1920, Paula gives birth to a baby boy. A few days later, Smithy receives a telegram from the Mercury asking him to come to Liverpoool to discuss a permanent position on the paper. Because Paula is still recovering from a difficult birth, he reluctantly travels alone, planning to return the following night. After checking into his hotel, Smithy walks toward the Mercury office but is hit by a car and knocked unconscious. When he comes to, he has no memory of the past three years and recalls only his life as aristocrat Charles Rainier. Although confused, Charles returns home, where he finds that his father has died and his siblings are anticipating their inheritance. He also meets Kitty, the teenaged daughter of his sister's new husband. By 1932, Charles has become known as "the industrial prince of England" for vastly increasing his family's fortunes, but is haunted by the missing past that is tied to a latchkey he found in his vest pocket after the accident. He has been loyally served for two years by his private secretary, Margaret Hanson, whom Charles does not recognize as Paula. One day, while dining with Kitty in a London restaurant, Charles hears the voice of Melbridge psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Benet and is briefly reminded of something in his past, but, as always, the memory passes before he can capture it. That same day, Charles tells Kitty, who has always loved him, that he returns her feelings and later announces to Margaret that he is going to marry Kitty. Margaret, whose son died in infancy, struggles to maintain her composure and that night begs Benet, who has become a good friend, to let her tell Charles everything. Benet makes her realize that Charles has to find memories of "Smithy" on his own. On the day that Kitty and Charles are selecting music for their wedding, one melody inexplicably reminds him of his past and he momentarily looks at Kitty as if she were a stranger. Seeing her cry brings him back to the present, but she tells him that they cannot go through with the wedding because he can never return feelings for her that belong to someone from his past. After Charles goes to Liverpool for clues to his past, Margaret follows him to say that the Liberal party has requested that he stand for election to a newly vacated seat in Parliament. While in Liverpool, Margaret tries gently to lead him to clues about his lost life, but even finding "Smithy's" suitcase does not jar his memory. Charles is soon elected to Parliament and confesses to Margaret that from time to time he has had the feeling that he knew her in the past. He then proposes that they marry in a kind of "merger" in which she would help him in his political life and says that he can offer only sincere friendship. She discusses the proposal with Benet, who loves Magaret himself, and disregards his admonition that she will be hurt. After Margaret and Charles marry, she becomes his greatest asset and dearest friend. Charles is soon knighted and on their third anniversary Charles gives her an expensive necklace. Despite Charles' affection and friendship, Margaret yearns for the love she shared with Smithy and decides that she needs to go away for a few weeks. As Charles uneasily sees her off on the train, he receives word that there is labor unrest in his cableworks in Melbridge. He soon settles the dispute, and as he goes through the town, he surprises his assistant, Harrison, by going right to the tobacconist's shop, even though he had just said that he had never been in Melbridge before. The next day, Margaret, who had been staying at the old Devon inn, learns from the proprietress that a man has just been by asking for the former owner and inquiring about a nearby cottage. Margaret then rushes to her old home. At the cottage, Charles's memories begin to flood back as his latchkey opens the front door. When Margaret arrives and calls him "Smithy," he finally recognizes that Margaret is Paula and the two happily embrace. +

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

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