Lloyd's of London (1937)

112 or 115 mins | Drama | 29 January 1937

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HISTORY

After the opening credits, the film begins with the following statement: "We acknowledge with appreciation the assistance of the official historian of Lloyd's of London in the preparation of the historical background for this production." Curtis Kenyon's original story was entitled "The Bell Ringers." Reviews noted that the main character, "Jonathan Blake," was fictional and that the film took many liberties with historical events. The program notes for the film's premiere state that Lloyd's insured the production for $1,000,000, and modern sources state that the film was budgeted at $850,000. According to a HR news item, the chairmen of Lloyd's, in a letter to studio head Darryl Zanuck, lauded the film for its excellence.
       According to information in SAB, the screen credits, as originally intended by the studio, did not include writer Walter Ferris. He protested and the studio then backed him, but Ernest Pascal wanted full credit for the screenplay. Ferris then offered to settle for an "additional dialogue" credit, but this did not comply with the AMPAS Code that governed writing credits, so the dispute was submitted to Twentieth Century-Fox scenario editor Julian Johnson for arbitration, and Ferris was awarded a co-screenplay credit.
       This was Tyrone Power's first starring role. According to a NYT news item, because of his performance in this film, he was signed to a seven-year contract with Twentieth Century-Fox to begin in May 1937. Modern sources relate that Don Ameche was tested first for the role of Jonathan Blake, but that director Henry King prevailed upon Zanuck to look at a test of the same scenes with Power; because of King's recommendation and ... More Less

After the opening credits, the film begins with the following statement: "We acknowledge with appreciation the assistance of the official historian of Lloyd's of London in the preparation of the historical background for this production." Curtis Kenyon's original story was entitled "The Bell Ringers." Reviews noted that the main character, "Jonathan Blake," was fictional and that the film took many liberties with historical events. The program notes for the film's premiere state that Lloyd's insured the production for $1,000,000, and modern sources state that the film was budgeted at $850,000. According to a HR news item, the chairmen of Lloyd's, in a letter to studio head Darryl Zanuck, lauded the film for its excellence.
       According to information in SAB, the screen credits, as originally intended by the studio, did not include writer Walter Ferris. He protested and the studio then backed him, but Ernest Pascal wanted full credit for the screenplay. Ferris then offered to settle for an "additional dialogue" credit, but this did not comply with the AMPAS Code that governed writing credits, so the dispute was submitted to Twentieth Century-Fox scenario editor Julian Johnson for arbitration, and Ferris was awarded a co-screenplay credit.
       This was Tyrone Power's first starring role. According to a NYT news item, because of his performance in this film, he was signed to a seven-year contract with Twentieth Century-Fox to begin in May 1937. Modern sources relate that Don Ameche was tested first for the role of Jonathan Blake, but that director Henry King prevailed upon Zanuck to look at a test of the same scenes with Power; because of King's recommendation and that of editor Barbara McLean, Zanuck gave the role to Power. Var commented concerning Power, "He's okay. He's going places. He has looks and he has acting ability. The women ought to go for him in a big way."
       According to HR production charts, Loretta Young, who was originally cast as "Lady Elizabeth," was in the production until mid-Sep 1936. Information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, states that Young was suspended by the studio after she left the role. According to a 17 Sep 1936 HR news item, Madeleine Carroll was then borrowed from Walter Wanger to replace Young, whom, HR reported, was on a Hawaiian vacation for her health. Modern sources state that Young refused the role because she learned that Power's role was being expanded at the expense of her own.
       According to a HR news item, George Sanders was borrowed from British and Dominions Film Corp. This was his first American film. Publicity for the film states that sixty-five sets were built and that Chris Christensen, the nautical technical director, built all the ships in the film and had also built the ships in The Sea Hawk (Associated First National, 1924), Moby Dick (Warner Bros., 1930) and Mutiny on the Bounty (M-G-M, 1935). Wilfrid Lawson is listed as a cast member in an early HR production chart, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to an ad in HR , the film was shot on Eastman Super-X Negative. This film received two Academy Award nominations: for interior decoration (William Darling) and for film editing (Barbara McLean). Modern sources credit Ray Sebastian with make-up. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Dec 1936.
---
Daily Variety
23 Nov 36
p. 3.
Film Daily
27 Nov 36
pp. 5-12, 17
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jan 36
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 36
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Sep 36
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 36
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 36
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 36
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 36
p. 3, 13
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 36
p. 2, pp. 5-18.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 37
p. 2.
Motion Picture Daily
24 Nov 36
p. 12.
Motion Picture Herald
28 Nov 36
p. 64.
New York Times
26 Nov 36
p. 39.
Variety
2 Dec 36
p. 18.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Captain John Blood
Billy Griffith
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Darryl F. Zanuck in charge of production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr to scr const
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Nautical tech dir
Head of research dept
Publicity dir
DETAILS
Release Date:
29 January 1937
Premiere Information:
New York and Los Angeles opening: 25 November 1936
Production Date:
mid August--late October 1936
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
25 November 1936
Copyright Number:
LP7126
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
112 or 115
Length(in feet):
10,650
Length(in reels):
14
Country:
United States
PCA No:
2724
SYNOPSIS

In 1770, at Widow Blake's Ale House in Norfolk, England, the widow's young nephew Jonathan overhears two sailors plotting. Having made a pact with his friend Horatio Nelson that each shall have to do what the other dares do, Jonathan convinces Horatio to accompany him in a rowboat and follow the men. On the men's ship, Jonathan and Horatio witness plans to scuttle the ship so that insurance money could be collected for the gold bullion on board. The boys are spotted, but they escape gunshots as they swim to shore. Horatio reluctantly agreees to walk the hundred miles to London with Jonathan to warn Lloyd's Coffee-House, where insurance syndicates meet to insure the British merchant marine. However, when Horatio's uncle Captain Suckling asks him to become a midshipman, Horatio and Jonathan sadly part. At Lloyd's, Jonathan reports the scheme to John Julius Angerstein, a syndicate head, who then gives him the chance to work as a waiter at Lloyd's and emphasizes that Lloyd's is founded on news and honest dealing. In 1784, Jonathan shows Angerstein the semaphore-telegraph apparatus he has invented, which, when duplicated on a larger scale, will be able to send messages across the English channel in five minutes. After Napoleon orders the arrest of all Englishmen in France, Jonathan, impersonating a priest in Calais, transmits messages about the situation back to England. He helps an Englishwoman named Elizabeth escape the attentions of an arresting officer, and together they cross the channel in a small boat, survive a storm, and spend the night at a small inn on the English coast, where they passionately kiss before retiring to their respective rooms. ... +


In 1770, at Widow Blake's Ale House in Norfolk, England, the widow's young nephew Jonathan overhears two sailors plotting. Having made a pact with his friend Horatio Nelson that each shall have to do what the other dares do, Jonathan convinces Horatio to accompany him in a rowboat and follow the men. On the men's ship, Jonathan and Horatio witness plans to scuttle the ship so that insurance money could be collected for the gold bullion on board. The boys are spotted, but they escape gunshots as they swim to shore. Horatio reluctantly agreees to walk the hundred miles to London with Jonathan to warn Lloyd's Coffee-House, where insurance syndicates meet to insure the British merchant marine. However, when Horatio's uncle Captain Suckling asks him to become a midshipman, Horatio and Jonathan sadly part. At Lloyd's, Jonathan reports the scheme to John Julius Angerstein, a syndicate head, who then gives him the chance to work as a waiter at Lloyd's and emphasizes that Lloyd's is founded on news and honest dealing. In 1784, Jonathan shows Angerstein the semaphore-telegraph apparatus he has invented, which, when duplicated on a larger scale, will be able to send messages across the English channel in five minutes. After Napoleon orders the arrest of all Englishmen in France, Jonathan, impersonating a priest in Calais, transmits messages about the situation back to England. He helps an Englishwoman named Elizabeth escape the attentions of an arresting officer, and together they cross the channel in a small boat, survive a storm, and spend the night at a small inn on the English coast, where they passionately kiss before retiring to their respective rooms. In the morning, Jonathan is disheartened to learn that Elizabeth has already left. After having tracked her whereabouts, Jonathan enters a party at her home and learns that she is married to gambler Lord Everett Stacy. Insulted by Stacy and rejected by Elizabeth, Jonathan gets drunk with a waitress at Lloyd's, and vows to climb so high that he will be hailed. In 1803, after England has declared war on France, Jonathan, who has become wealthy, meets Elizabeth at a gambling house. Later, at the studio of painter Thomas Lawrence, Elizabeth, who is unhappily married, and Jonathan embrace. After many British merchant ships have been sunk or captured by the French off the Azores, Lloyd's pays all the claims, but Angerstein insists that they raise their insurance rates. When the shipowners refuse to send out their fleets at the higher rates, Angerstein plans to demand that warships protect the merchant vessels, which could then be insured at the old rate. Jonathan vigorously protests this because it would cut in half the fighting strength of Admiral Nelson, his boyhood friend whom he has not seen since their parting. Jonathan's syndicate continues insuring the ships at the old rate. When the French escape Nelson's blockade at Toulon and a decisive battle seems months off, the other members of the syndicate desert Jonathan, but Elizabeth gives him her whole fortune, and he continues to insure the merchant fleet. In the fall of 1805, after more merchant ships are scuttled by the French, Jonathan is castigated as a gambler. After Lord Drayton agrees to order half of Nelson's fleet to convoy the merchant ships, Jonathan receives a letter from Nelson recalling their boyhood troth and urging him to hold out no matter the cost. Jonathan secretly leaves for Calais, where he sends a message by semaphore that Nelson has defeated the French fleet. Amidst the celebrations, Drayton cancels the order to Nelson. Stacy, who has had Jonathan followed, charges to Angerstein that the message was a fraud, but Angerstein, after warning Jonathan that his actions could be considered treasonous, refuses to denounce him and keeps Stacy in check by revealing that Elizabeth's fortune, which she has agreed to give him in exchange for a divorce, would be lost if Jonathan's scheme was revealed. Later, as Jonathan embraces Elizabeth, Stacy shoots him. At the same moment, Nelson is shot in battle with the French. In London, Jonathan, cared for by Elizabeth and Polly, revives at the sounds of a procession outside. Angerstein arrives and relates Nelson's victory at Trafalgar. Jonathan goes to the window and, seeing Nelson's funeral procession, remembers their tearful parting as Elizabeth comforts him. +

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.