The Cowboy and the Lady (1938)

90-91 mins | Romantic comedy | 17 November 1938

Director:

H. C. Potter

Cinematographer:

Gregg Toland

Editor:

Sherman Todd

Production Designer:

Richard Day

Production Company:

Samuel Goldwyn, Inc.
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HISTORY

Working titles for the film included Spring Is in My Heart , A Kiss in the Sun , Howdy Stranger , The Cowboy and the Heiress and The Lady and the Cowboy . The title briefly changed to The Lady and the Cowboy in early Sep 1938 when Samuel Goldwyn was sued by the Clyde Fitch estate over use of the title The Cowboy and the Lady , which was the title of a 1908 Fitch story purchased by Paramount Pictures and filmed by them in 1927. The 1927 film and the Fitch story had no relation to the Goldwyn story, however, and Goldwyn subsequently bought the rights to the title from Paramount. According to various news items in HR and MPD , William Wyler began the picture's direction. Shortly after the first day of shooting, however, when the company was on location in Malibu, Goldwyn and Wyler argued over extensive retakes and Goldwyn accused Wyler of "wasting footage." Wyler charged that he was forced to work without a completed script and walked off the picture. Goldwyn subsequently suspended Wyler who, according to HR , earned $50,000 per picture. Though Wyler did not return to the production, he and Goldwyn settled their dispute and Wyler directed his next picture for Goldwyn, Wuthering Heights (see below). ^5Several news items in Hollywood trade papers and national magazines noted that the picture "set a record" for the number of screenwriters employed at various times to work on the script. Although only Leo McCarey, Frank R. Adams, S. N. Behrman and Sonya Levien are ... More Less

Working titles for the film included Spring Is in My Heart , A Kiss in the Sun , Howdy Stranger , The Cowboy and the Heiress and The Lady and the Cowboy . The title briefly changed to The Lady and the Cowboy in early Sep 1938 when Samuel Goldwyn was sued by the Clyde Fitch estate over use of the title The Cowboy and the Lady , which was the title of a 1908 Fitch story purchased by Paramount Pictures and filmed by them in 1927. The 1927 film and the Fitch story had no relation to the Goldwyn story, however, and Goldwyn subsequently bought the rights to the title from Paramount. According to various news items in HR and MPD , William Wyler began the picture's direction. Shortly after the first day of shooting, however, when the company was on location in Malibu, Goldwyn and Wyler argued over extensive retakes and Goldwyn accused Wyler of "wasting footage." Wyler charged that he was forced to work without a completed script and walked off the picture. Goldwyn subsequently suspended Wyler who, according to HR , earned $50,000 per picture. Though Wyler did not return to the production, he and Goldwyn settled their dispute and Wyler directed his next picture for Goldwyn, Wuthering Heights (see below). ^5Several news items in Hollywood trade papers and national magazines noted that the picture "set a record" for the number of screenwriters employed at various times to work on the script. Although only Leo McCarey, Frank R. Adams, S. N. Behrman and Sonya Levien are given writing credits on screen, a large number of other writers contributed to the project at various stages. Anita Loos and John Emerson wrote a version of the story when it was called Spring Is in My Heart . It was their first writing assignment for Goldwyn. Lillian Hellman, Bob Ardey, Howard Estabrook, Frederick Lonsdale, Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, Eddie Moran, Frank Ryan, Gene Fowler, Richard Connell, and Robert Riskin also worked on the script at various stages of its development. Although the work of many of these writers probably was not reflected in the final film, an article in DV dated 30 Aug 1938 stated that Riskin was doing "the mop up work" after the picture's third month of production, and HCN called Ryan the "business" writer on the set.
       According to a HR news item, portions of the film were also shot on location at Triunfo, CA, where 150 riders were used as extras in the rodeo sequence. Other news items and production charts note that David Niven played the role of a British diplomat during filming, but his role was eliminated, as was that of actress Benita Hume, who was to portray the stepmother of the character Mary Smith. Thomas Mitchell was originally cast as Judge Smith, but the role was taken over by Henry Kolker in the early part of the production. Other actors who were listed in news items during the film's production but whose appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed are, Iron Eyes, Silver Tip Baker, John Judd, Steve Clemente and Dan Borzage. According to a news item, Borzage, the brother of director Frank Borzage, was to play the accordion in the film.
       A DV article noted that the budget had gone past the $1,000,000 mark. A Life magazine article that appeared the week the film was released stated that the budget was over $1,750,000 and called it the first of a "new cycle" of expensive top star Westerns. A pre-release feature article in HCN mentioned that the White House had been approached to see if the film could include some newsreel footage of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but he declined. A HR news item noted that a large promotion was to be made for the film at the 5 Nov 1938 USC vs. California football game in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, during which airplanes would fly overhead advertising the picture and commemorative hats would be given out to fans. The picture was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Song, and won the award for Best Sound. Although Paul Neal is credited on the film, Thomas Moulton accepted the award as head of Goldwyn's sound department. This was the second time Walter Brennan and Gary Cooper had appeared together in a film and the first of Brennan's five roles as Cooper's "sidekick." On 20 Jan 1941 Merle Oberon and Gene Autry appeared on a Lux Radio Theatre version of the story. Modern sources state that second unit director Stuart Heisler took over direction of the picture for a few days when H. C. Potter had to leave the over-schedule picture to work on RKO's The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (See below). Modern sources include Billy Wayne, Ernie Adams, Russ Powell, and Jack Baxley in the cast. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
30 Aug
1938, p. 1.
Daily Variety
8 Nov 38
p. 3.
Film Daily
11 Nov 38
p. 4.
Film Daily
1 Jul 37
p. 11.
Hollywood Citizen-News
4 Jul 1938.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Nov 37
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 38
pp. 3-4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 38
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 38
p. 1, 4, 12
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jul 38
p. 23.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jul 38
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 38
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Aug 38
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 38
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 38
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 38
p. 2.
Life
21 Nov 38
pp. 38-40
Motion Picture Daily
21 Jun 38
p. 1, 8
Motion Picture Daily
10 Nov 38
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
12 Nov 38
p. 35.
New York Times
25 Nov 38
p. 19.
Time
21 Nov 38
p. 53.
Variety
9 Nov 38
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Orig story
Orig story
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Spec eff photog
Cam crew
Cam crew
Cam crew
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set des
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOURCES
SONGS
"The Cowboy and the Lady," words and music by Lionel Newman and Arthur Quenzer
"Er-ru-ti-tu-ti," words and music by Lionel Newman and L. Wolfe Gilbert
"A-Tisket A-Tasket," words and music by Ella Fitzgerald and Al Feldman.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
A Kiss in the Sun
Spring Is in My Heart
The Cowboy and the Heiress
The Lady and the Cowboy
Howdy Stranger
Release Date:
17 November 1938
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 10 November 1938
Production Date:
15 June--early October 1938
Copyright Claimant:
Samuel Goldwyn
Copyright Date:
30 November 1938
Copyright Number:
LP8469
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90-91
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
4783
SYNOPSIS

Mary Smith has lead a dull life, surrounded by political friends of her presidential hopeful father, Judge Horace Smith. Her Uncle Hannibal takes her to a gambling club for some excitement, which she gets when the club is raided by the police. The newspapers don't immediately connect her name to Judge Smith, but her father decides to send her to Palm Beach to avoid suspicion. While there, her two maids, Katie Callahan and Elly, feel sorry for her and invite her to go on a blind date with them. She meets and is attracted to shy rodeo star Stretch Willoughby, but because she lacks experience, she has to use every one of the tricks which Katie and Elly have taught her to interest him. He begins to respond when she tells him a hard luck story about supporting her father and sisters while working as a maid. The next day Stretch proposes and, though at first shocked by the idea, she follows him on a boat to Galveston. They are married by the captain and all seems happy until Katie calls with the news that Mr. Smith will soon be in Palm Beach. Mary tries to tell Stretch about her deception, but she can't because of his views on the idle rich, and instead tells him that she has to return home briefly because of a family crisis. When she arrives home, her father is unhappy with her news and coerces her into acting as hostess for him for some important guests. Meanwhile, Stretch becomes concerned when Mary doesn't return, and goes to Palm Beach. Arriving at the Smith home, he ... +


Mary Smith has lead a dull life, surrounded by political friends of her presidential hopeful father, Judge Horace Smith. Her Uncle Hannibal takes her to a gambling club for some excitement, which she gets when the club is raided by the police. The newspapers don't immediately connect her name to Judge Smith, but her father decides to send her to Palm Beach to avoid suspicion. While there, her two maids, Katie Callahan and Elly, feel sorry for her and invite her to go on a blind date with them. She meets and is attracted to shy rodeo star Stretch Willoughby, but because she lacks experience, she has to use every one of the tricks which Katie and Elly have taught her to interest him. He begins to respond when she tells him a hard luck story about supporting her father and sisters while working as a maid. The next day Stretch proposes and, though at first shocked by the idea, she follows him on a boat to Galveston. They are married by the captain and all seems happy until Katie calls with the news that Mr. Smith will soon be in Palm Beach. Mary tries to tell Stretch about her deception, but she can't because of his views on the idle rich, and instead tells him that she has to return home briefly because of a family crisis. When she arrives home, her father is unhappy with her news and coerces her into acting as hostess for him for some important guests. Meanwhile, Stretch becomes concerned when Mary doesn't return, and goes to Palm Beach. Arriving at the Smith home, he happens on their dinner party and discovers Mary's real identity. The dinner guests make fun of him, but his sincerity makes Mary realize how much she loves him. Uncle Hannibal also convinces Horace that his selfishness is taking away Mary's happiness. As Stretch arrives home in Montana, the entire Smith family is staying with his landlady, Ma Hawkins, and are trying to adapt to their new, simpler life. +

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

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