Holy Matrimony (1943)

87 mins | Comedy | 27 August 1943

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Buried Alive and Indian Summer . Arnold Bennett used his book as the basis for a play entitled The Great Adventure (Glasgow, Scotland, 18 Sep 1911). Nunnally Johnson's onscreen credit reads "Produced and Written for the Screen by Nunnally Johnson." According to HR news items, Johnson and Irving Pichel both served as fill-in directors while John Stahl was ill. Although a HR news item stated that, "in response to an avalanche of fanmail from this country and England," Gracie Fields would sing "She Was Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage" and "The Biggest Aspidistra in the World" in the film, the numbers were not included in the picture. Holy Matrimony marked Fields's first leading role in a picture filmed in the United States. Actor Whit Bissell, who is listed as Whitner Bissell in reviews, made his screen-acting debut in the picture, which also marked the last screen appearance of actor Montagu Love, who died shortly after completing his work in the film. The picture was selected as one of the ten best films of 1943 by the National Board of Review. Johnson's screenplay received an Academy Award nomination.
       Bennett's novel and play were also the basis for a 1915 British film entitled The Great Adventure , directed by Larry Trimble and starring Henry Ainley and Esme Hubbard; the 1921 Whitman Bennett film The Great Adventure , directed by Kenneth Webb and starring Lionel Barrymore and Doris Rankin (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-20 ; F2.2216); and the 1934 Eddie Dowling ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Buried Alive and Indian Summer . Arnold Bennett used his book as the basis for a play entitled The Great Adventure (Glasgow, Scotland, 18 Sep 1911). Nunnally Johnson's onscreen credit reads "Produced and Written for the Screen by Nunnally Johnson." According to HR news items, Johnson and Irving Pichel both served as fill-in directors while John Stahl was ill. Although a HR news item stated that, "in response to an avalanche of fanmail from this country and England," Gracie Fields would sing "She Was Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage" and "The Biggest Aspidistra in the World" in the film, the numbers were not included in the picture. Holy Matrimony marked Fields's first leading role in a picture filmed in the United States. Actor Whit Bissell, who is listed as Whitner Bissell in reviews, made his screen-acting debut in the picture, which also marked the last screen appearance of actor Montagu Love, who died shortly after completing his work in the film. The picture was selected as one of the ten best films of 1943 by the National Board of Review. Johnson's screenplay received an Academy Award nomination.
       Bennett's novel and play were also the basis for a 1915 British film entitled The Great Adventure , directed by Larry Trimble and starring Henry Ainley and Esme Hubbard; the 1921 Whitman Bennett film The Great Adventure , directed by Kenneth Webb and starring Lionel Barrymore and Doris Rankin (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-20 ; F2.2216); and the 1934 Eddie Dowling Pictures production His Double Life , directed by Arthur Hopkins and starring Roland Young and Lillian Gish (see AFI Catalog of Feature Film, 1931-40 ; F3.1924). In the 1934 version, Montagu Love played "Priam's" cousin "Duncan." On 10 May 1954, Lux Radio Theatre broadcast a version of the story starring Charles Laughton and Fay Bainter. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
28 Aug 1943.
---
Daily Variety
23 Aug 43
pp. 3-4.
Film Daily
24 Aug 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Feb 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Apr 43
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Apr 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 May 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 1943 p. 2.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 43
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Aug 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 43
pp. 4-5.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 43
p. 1, 6
Motion Picture Daily
23 Aug 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald
28 Aug 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
28 Aug 43
pp. 1505-06.
New York Herald Tribune
12 Sep 1943.
---
New York Times
16 Sep 43
p. 25.
Variety
25 Aug 43
p. 10.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Fill-In dir
Fill-In dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Assoc
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Dir of pub
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Buried Alive by Arnold Bennett (London, 1908).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Indian Summer
Buried Alive
Release Date:
27 August 1943
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 26 August 1943
Production Date:
5 April--late May 1943
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
27 August 1943
Copyright Number:
LP12528
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
87
Length(in feet):
7,862
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
9319
SYNOPSIS

In 1905, famed English painter Priam Farll, who abhors society and has lived as a recluse in the British East Indies for twenty-five years, receives a summons to return to England to receive a knighthood. Grumbling all the way, Priam travels to England accompanied by his devoted valet, Henry Leek. Henry falls ill during the journey, and Priam sends for a doctor upon their arrival. Henry dies from pneumonia, and Priam, eager to avoid the knighthood ceremony, does not correct the doctor when he assumes that Henry was Priam, and that Priam is the valet. The doctor puts Priam's name on the death certificate, and soon Priam watches as his cousin, Duncan Farll, leads the mourners at his memorial service. Priam's bemusement turns to chagrin, however, when King Edward VII appears and announces that the artist will be buried at Westminster Abbey. Angry at having cheated himself out of this honor, Priam attends the funeral and creates such a ruckus that he is thrown out of the abbey. As two policemen are questioning him outside, Priam is rescued by assertive Alice Challice, who tells them that he is Henry Leek. Priam is amazed that Alice knows about Henry and learns that Henry had been corresponding with her after obtaining her address from a matrimonial bureau and had sent her a picture of himself with Priam. Although aware that Alice has mistaken him for Henry, Priam again does not identify himself. Soothed by Alice's stability and devotion, Priam soon marries her, and the couple settle down to quiet domestic happiness in Putney. Priam continues to paint, although he keeps his art supplies hidden to avoid arousing ... +


In 1905, famed English painter Priam Farll, who abhors society and has lived as a recluse in the British East Indies for twenty-five years, receives a summons to return to England to receive a knighthood. Grumbling all the way, Priam travels to England accompanied by his devoted valet, Henry Leek. Henry falls ill during the journey, and Priam sends for a doctor upon their arrival. Henry dies from pneumonia, and Priam, eager to avoid the knighthood ceremony, does not correct the doctor when he assumes that Henry was Priam, and that Priam is the valet. The doctor puts Priam's name on the death certificate, and soon Priam watches as his cousin, Duncan Farll, leads the mourners at his memorial service. Priam's bemusement turns to chagrin, however, when King Edward VII appears and announces that the artist will be buried at Westminster Abbey. Angry at having cheated himself out of this honor, Priam attends the funeral and creates such a ruckus that he is thrown out of the abbey. As two policemen are questioning him outside, Priam is rescued by assertive Alice Challice, who tells them that he is Henry Leek. Priam is amazed that Alice knows about Henry and learns that Henry had been corresponding with her after obtaining her address from a matrimonial bureau and had sent her a picture of himself with Priam. Although aware that Alice has mistaken him for Henry, Priam again does not identify himself. Soothed by Alice's stability and devotion, Priam soon marries her, and the couple settle down to quiet domestic happiness in Putney. Priam continues to paint, although he keeps his art supplies hidden to avoid arousing Alice's suspicions. Priam and Alice's contentment is disturbed by the sudden appearance of Sarah Leek and her three grown sons, John, Matthew and Harry. Sarah claims to be Henry's first wife, whom he deserted many years before, but Alice gets rid of her by insinuating that Priam is insane, and that the scandal that would result from Sarah's allegations would ruin the boys's seminary careers. Later, trouble again presents itself when the couple are short of money and Alice cannot meet that year's mortgage payment. Wanting to help, Priam finally confesses his real identity to Alice and shows her his paintings, which he says can be sold for large sums. Alice, however, thinks that the strain of worry has "confused" Priam and gently dissuades him from persisting with his assertions. When she learns that a picture framer will pay £15 for Priam's paintings, however, she sells them without Priam's knowledge. Their life resumes its quiet pace until a year later, when Lady Vale, who has been buying Priam's latest paintings from a prestigious art gallery run by Clive Oxford, discovers that they could only have been painted since Priam's supposed death. She brings a suit against Oxford, alleging that he fraudulently sold the paintings as authentic Priam Farlls. Oxford, who has met Priam and gotten him to confess the truth, wants Priam to testify on his behalf, but Priam is angered by the situtation, as Oxford has been making a huge profit on the paintings. Alice, who now believes her husband, fears that the attention will destroy their marriage, and Priam determines not to help either Lady Vale or Oxford with his testimony. When Sarah appears in court and states that Priam is her husband, however, Alice asserts herself once again. Alice forces Priam to show two moles on his collarbone, thereby proving that he is Priam Farll and not Henry Leek. After the case is settled, Priam and Alice move to a remote jungle, where they recreate their Putney home and return to their ordinary, happy domestic life. +

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.