The House of Rothschild (1934)

86 or 94 mins | Drama | 7 April 1934

Director:

Alfred Werker

Cinematographer:

Peverell Marley

Production Designer:

Richard Day

Production Company:

20th Century Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Rothschild and The Great Rothschilds . According to a NYT article, George Arliss planned to make a film based on the play in 1931, when playwright George Hembert Westley, a Boston newspaper man, sent him a copy. Arliss, then on contract to Warner Bros., urged the studio to buy it, and although they complied, the property was shelved for two years. After Arliss' contract with Warner Bros. expired, he joined Darryl Zanuck at Twentieth Century and convinced Zanuck to purchase the property, which Warner Bros. sold for the price they paid for it. According to Arliss, the original play centered around "Nathan Rothschild" and contained no scenes involving "Nathan's" father "Mayer." According to production files in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at UCLA Theater Arts Library, Arliss wrote fourteen pages of suggestions concerning an early script outline by Maude T. Howell and Sam Mintz and noted, "I do not wish Howell's and Mintz's hands to be tied in any way to this scenario of mine, I only desire that you [i.e. Zanuck] should take the best there is in it." In her next outline, Howell wrote to Zanuck, "I have followed G. A.'s suggestions as closely as possible. As he wished to emphasize the anti-Jewish feeling, I have made Ledrantz [the anti-Semitic count] more important."
       According to a HR news item, in Sep 1933, Zanuck was negotiating with John Blystone to direct the film. The production file in the Produced Scripts Collection gives the following additional production information: assistant director Ben Silvey directed wardrobe and makeup tests; ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Rothschild and The Great Rothschilds . According to a NYT article, George Arliss planned to make a film based on the play in 1931, when playwright George Hembert Westley, a Boston newspaper man, sent him a copy. Arliss, then on contract to Warner Bros., urged the studio to buy it, and although they complied, the property was shelved for two years. After Arliss' contract with Warner Bros. expired, he joined Darryl Zanuck at Twentieth Century and convinced Zanuck to purchase the property, which Warner Bros. sold for the price they paid for it. According to Arliss, the original play centered around "Nathan Rothschild" and contained no scenes involving "Nathan's" father "Mayer." According to production files in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at UCLA Theater Arts Library, Arliss wrote fourteen pages of suggestions concerning an early script outline by Maude T. Howell and Sam Mintz and noted, "I do not wish Howell's and Mintz's hands to be tied in any way to this scenario of mine, I only desire that you [i.e. Zanuck] should take the best there is in it." In her next outline, Howell wrote to Zanuck, "I have followed G. A.'s suggestions as closely as possible. As he wished to emphasize the anti-Jewish feeling, I have made Ledrantz [the anti-Semitic count] more important."
       According to a HR news item, in Sep 1933, Zanuck was negotiating with John Blystone to direct the film. The production file in the Produced Scripts Collection gives the following additional production information: assistant director Ben Silvey directed wardrobe and makeup tests; Harry Perry shot some tests directed by Silvey; Ray Rennahan shot a Technicolor test; Darryl Zanuck's sheep dog appeared in the film; some scenes were shot at the "Cavalcade Street" location on the Fox Westwood lot; and David Torrence was originally cast as the Prime Minister. According to a HR news item from 29 Dec 1933, Sidney Lanfield substituted for director Alfred Werker during Werker's illness.
       This film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and placed second on FD 's list of Ten Best Pictures of 1934, based on a nationwide poll of exhibitors. NYT in their review, commented, "Although the producers juggle with certain dates and here and there a name is changed, the story runs along smoothly and swiftly, clinging substantially to facts in the major points." The MPH reviewer remarked that the film's preview "received the most enthusiastic ovation this writer has heard in any theatre." Several reviewers pointed out parallels between the scenes in the film depicting anti-Semetic events and the current persecution of the Jews in Germany. According to a DV news item, this was Arliss' first film to be shown in Italy. In its Milan showing, the film received sustained applause, and DV attributed its success there to the city's anti-Nazi feeling. In 1940, Ufa in Germany produced an anti-Semitic film entitled Die Rothschilds , which was directed by Erich Waschneck and starred Carl Kuhlmann. A 1933 French film entitled Rothschild , rather than being about the historical figure, is the story of a tramp who is made the director of a failing bank because his name happens to be Rothschild. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
23 Feb 34
p. 7.
Daily Variety
11 Dec 34
p. 1.
Film Daily
8 Mar 34
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Dec 33
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jan 34
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Feb 34
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jan 35
pp. 6-7.
Motion Picture Daily
27 Feb 34
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald
24 Feb 34
p. 63.
Motion Picture Herald
10 Mar 34
p. 49.
New York Times
15 Mar 34
p. 27.
New York Times
22 Apr 1934.
---
Variety
20 Mar 34
p. 16.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
William Strauss
Montague Shaw
[Rothschild children:]
M. Faust
Lou Shapiro
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Darryl F. Zanuck Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Assoc dir
Fill-In dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
2d cam
Asst cam
2d unit cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Cost des by
Men's ward
Women's ward
Cost supplied by
MUSIC
Mus score
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr clerk
Casting
Follow up man
Asst props
Publicity for 20th Century
Publicity for United Artists
STAND INS
Stand-in for Loretta Young
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor art dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Rothschild by George Hembert Westley (copyrighted 11 May 1932).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Great Rothschild
Rothschild
Release Date:
7 April 1934
Premiere Information:
World premiere in New York: 14 March 1934
Production Date:
13 December 1933--2 February 1934
Copyright Claimant:
20th Century Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
18 May 1934
Copyright Number:
LP4709
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black & white with color sequences
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
86 or 94
Length(in feet):
7,980
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

In Frankfurt, which, in 1780, is part of Prussia, Jews are forbidden to learn trades, to farm or to leave "Jew Street" after sundown. When the tax collector comes to the shrewd money changer Mayer Rothschild and demands 20,000 gulden, a higher tax than the best merchant in the city is charged, Rothschild's son Nathan helps his father trick the collector, who leaves after accepting a 5,000 gulden bribe. However, when Rothschild learns that the man who was to bring him 10,000 gulden from Hamburg has been waylaid and robbed by tax agents, he rages against the plight of the Jews and collapses. On his deathbed, Rothschild advises his five sons that because money sent by coach between countries is often lost, they each should start a banking business in a different country and remain united. He admonishes them to remember the ghetto and tells them that nothing will bring them happiness until their people have equality, respect and dignity. Thirty-two years later, after Napoleon has overrun Europe, Nathan, in London, agrees to a petition brought by Captain Fitzroy, envoy from the Duke of Wellington, to allow his brothers in Vienna, Naples, Paris and Frankfurt to loan money to stop Napoleon. After Napoleon is defeated, Fitzroy and Nathan's daughter Julie plan to marry, and although Nathan would prefer that Julie marry a Jew, he gives his consent because he believes that the world is changing. Wellington, in gratitude, gives Nathan secret information regarding a loan needed by France to recover from the war. Knowing that the loan will make the Rothschilds the most powerful banking house in Europe, Nathan is greatly disturbed when an Allied Council, ... +


In Frankfurt, which, in 1780, is part of Prussia, Jews are forbidden to learn trades, to farm or to leave "Jew Street" after sundown. When the tax collector comes to the shrewd money changer Mayer Rothschild and demands 20,000 gulden, a higher tax than the best merchant in the city is charged, Rothschild's son Nathan helps his father trick the collector, who leaves after accepting a 5,000 gulden bribe. However, when Rothschild learns that the man who was to bring him 10,000 gulden from Hamburg has been waylaid and robbed by tax agents, he rages against the plight of the Jews and collapses. On his deathbed, Rothschild advises his five sons that because money sent by coach between countries is often lost, they each should start a banking business in a different country and remain united. He admonishes them to remember the ghetto and tells them that nothing will bring them happiness until their people have equality, respect and dignity. Thirty-two years later, after Napoleon has overrun Europe, Nathan, in London, agrees to a petition brought by Captain Fitzroy, envoy from the Duke of Wellington, to allow his brothers in Vienna, Naples, Paris and Frankfurt to loan money to stop Napoleon. After Napoleon is defeated, Fitzroy and Nathan's daughter Julie plan to marry, and although Nathan would prefer that Julie marry a Jew, he gives his consent because he believes that the world is changing. Wellington, in gratitude, gives Nathan secret information regarding a loan needed by France to recover from the war. Knowing that the loan will make the Rothschilds the most powerful banking house in Europe, Nathan is greatly disturbed when an Allied Council, led by the virulent anti-Semite Count Ledrantz, refuses Nathan's bid even though his is the best and gives the loan to one of his rivals, who, with the representatives of the council, plans to offer a bond to the public to pay for the loan. Furious, Nathan orders Julie to give up Fitzroy and sends her to Frankfurt. After Nathan purchases a previous government bond and drives its cost far below that at which the council members plan to sell theirs, he threatens to offer it to the public at the low cost and thus forces the council members to sell their bond to him. In response, Ledrantz sets off anti-Semitic riots throughout Prussia. Nathan visits Frankfurt, and although he orders the visiting Fitzroy to stay away from Julie, she sneaks out at night and confesses her love. She refuses, however, to marry Fitzroy without her father's consent. When Ledrantz learns that Nathan is in Frankfurt, he issues orders for him to be arrested should he try to leave. After Napoleon escapes from Elba, where he had been imprisoned, the French rally behind him. Ledrantz is then forced to visit Nathan at his home in the Jewish ghetto to persuade him not to grant Napoleon a loan, and he agrees to accept Nathan's terms that the Jews be given the same freedom, respect and dignity as other people have. When Nathan sees Fitzroy, who is about to join Wellington, with Julie, he promises the captain that if he survives the fighting, they can marry. On March 22, 1815, Napoleon reaches Paris. Soon King Louis has fled, and all Europe has become mobilized. In June, after a number of victories by Napoleon, the stock exchange in London goes through a panic, and rumors circulate that it may close. To prevent the closing, which would mean the collapse of English credit, Nathan stubbornly continues to buy amid rumors of Wellington's defeat, until the war ends with Wellington's victory at Waterloo. Sometime later, Julie and Fitzroy are reunited, and Nathan is made a baron by the King of England, who expresses the country's gratitude to this "adopted" son whose generosity and courage brought victory and peace to England. +

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

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