Main Street to Broadway (1953)

97 or 101-102 mins | Romantic comedy | 31 July 1953

Director:

Tay Garnett

Producer:

Lester Cowan

Cinematographer:

James Wong Howe

Production Designer:

Perry Ferguson

Production Company:

Cinema Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

The format and cast of Main Street to Broadway changed considerably from conception to production. Pre-production news items in DV , HR and the daily newspapers provide the following information: DeWitt Bodeen was originally assigned to write the screenplay, and playwrights Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller were to contribute special material. The film was originally to be shot in Technicolor, with four or five directors handling the various stage sequences. Olivia de Havilland was to perform the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet , and Gregory Peck and Katherine Cornell were to appear in a scene from Peter Ibbetson . The following celebrities were also announced as cast members, although they did not appear in the final film: Yul Brynner, Rouben Mamoulian, Henry Fonda, Ethel Merman, Dorothy McGuire, John Garfield and José Ferrer. A 27 May 1952 news item in HR 's "Broadway Ballyhoo" column reported that producer Lester Cowan sought Gertrude Lawrence for a role as a drama instructor, and was considering casting Cloris Leachman and Val Dufour as the romantic leads. According to a 6 Apr 1953 HR news item, a jazz ballet by George Balanchine was to be danced by Tanaquil LeClerq and conducted by Benny Goodman, but no such dance sequence appeared in the released film.
       Contemporary news items add Jinx Falkenberg, Betty Field and Eddie Mayehoff to the cast, but they were not in the released film. News items also include the following people in the cast, although their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed: Peter Cookson, Elmer Rice, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Vanderbilt, ... More Less

The format and cast of Main Street to Broadway changed considerably from conception to production. Pre-production news items in DV , HR and the daily newspapers provide the following information: DeWitt Bodeen was originally assigned to write the screenplay, and playwrights Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller were to contribute special material. The film was originally to be shot in Technicolor, with four or five directors handling the various stage sequences. Olivia de Havilland was to perform the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet , and Gregory Peck and Katherine Cornell were to appear in a scene from Peter Ibbetson . The following celebrities were also announced as cast members, although they did not appear in the final film: Yul Brynner, Rouben Mamoulian, Henry Fonda, Ethel Merman, Dorothy McGuire, John Garfield and José Ferrer. A 27 May 1952 news item in HR 's "Broadway Ballyhoo" column reported that producer Lester Cowan sought Gertrude Lawrence for a role as a drama instructor, and was considering casting Cloris Leachman and Val Dufour as the romantic leads. According to a 6 Apr 1953 HR news item, a jazz ballet by George Balanchine was to be danced by Tanaquil LeClerq and conducted by Benny Goodman, but no such dance sequence appeared in the released film.
       Contemporary news items add Jinx Falkenberg, Betty Field and Eddie Mayehoff to the cast, but they were not in the released film. News items also include the following people in the cast, although their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed: Peter Cookson, Elmer Rice, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Vanderbilt, Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Miller, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Dietz, Dorothy Sarnoff, Herbert Bayard Swope, Herbert and Dorothy Fields and theater critics John Chapman, Robert Coleman, Richard Cooke, Wolcott Gibbs, William Hawkins and George Jean Nathan. Portions of the film were shot on location in New York City, and Broadway's Martin Beck Theater was the site of the opening night sequence.
       According to news items, the film was produced as a fund-raising vehicle to benefit the Council of the Living Theatre, a non-profit organization founded by a small group of New York actors to promote and fund live theater. A 19 Nov 1952 Var news item noted that 25% of the film's profits would be donated to the organization, which would use the money "to increase memberships in 'road show' cities and to further interest in the legit theatre." In addition, writer Robert E. Sherwood donated his entire $50,000 story fee to the Council. Cinema Productions, Inc., which produced Main Street to Broadway , was made up of film exhibitors and headed by Fred Schwartz and M. A. Lightman, both of whom were presidents of regional chains of movie houses. The Var news item maintained that despite M-G-M's financial collaboration with Cinema Productions, the exhibitors involved in the project would not receive preferential treatment, and would have to bid against other exhibitors to book the film. A 3 Oct 1953 news item in DV noted that Main Street to Broadway constituted "the first time a group of top exhibs has banded together in the financing of a motion picture," adding that M-G-M and Cinema Productions had split the cost of producing the film. Some contemporary news items claimed that Main Street to Broadway was the first M-G-M release since Gone With the Wind to be produced by another company, but that statement was incorrect.
       A 2 Jul 1952 DV news item reported that the exhibitors in Cinema Productions were so encouraged by the advance bookings that they were considering additional studio collaborations. Enthusiasm for this venture faded in the wake of Main Street to Broadway 's extremely poor critical reception, however. The Cue review, which dismissed the film as a "mish-mash of movie clichés, dramatic flubs and sticky self-adulation," concluded, "Nothing, but nothing is quite so funny as watching Broadway--in frank and unabashed love with itself--admire itself self-consciously in front of the camera. Did nobody among the scores of theatre-wise folk within lens range bother to read the script?" According to a 5 Aug 1953 Var news item, under M-G-M's original promotional arrangement with the Council of the Living Theatre, Main Street to Broadway was to open simultaneously in twenty-two cities with live, subscription theater. Moreover, the Council was to provide a leading stage actor to make a personal appearance at each opening. However, the multi-city opening fell through, and M-G-M blamed the Council for failing to come up with top names to promote the film. Main Street to Broadway marked the last film of actor Lionel Barrymore (1878--1954) and actress Mary Martin (1913--1990). The film was also popular radio and television humorist Herb Shriner's only film, and the last film produced by Lester Cowan. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
1 Aug 1953.
---
Cue
17 Oct 1953.
---
Daily Variety
10 Jul 1951.
---
Daily Variety
1 Apr 1952.
---
Daily Variety
2 Jul 1953.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jul 53
p. 4.
Daily Variety
3 Oct 53
p. 1, 17.
Film Daily
29 Jul 53
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Nov 51
p. 1, 18.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Mar 1952.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 52
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
27 May 1952.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Oct 52
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 52
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 53
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 53
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
13 May 1953.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 53
p. 3.
Los Angeles Daily News
19 Dec 1952.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Dec 1952.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Jun 53
p. 1, 3.
Los Angeles Times
15 Aug 1953.
---
Motion Picture Daily
29 Jul 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
1 Aug 53
p. 1934.
New York Times
20 Jan 1952.
---
New York Times
14 Oct 53
p. 34.
Variety
19 Nov 1952.
---
Variety
29 Jul 53
p. 6.
Variety
5 Aug 53
p. 3, 20
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Lester Cowan Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
Ed asst
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Miss Bankhead's gowns
MUSIC
Mus score and mus dir
Orch arr and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and optical eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Coordinator for the Council of the Living Theatre
SOURCES
SONGS
"There's Music in You," music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
DETAILS
Release Date:
31 July 1953
Production Date:
mid October 1952--early January 1953 at Samuel Goldwyn Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Cinema Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
15 June 1953
Copyright Number:
LP2764
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
97 or 101-102
Length(in feet):
9,128
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16401
SYNOPSIS

In a New York theater, young playwright Anthony Monaco watches a workshop performance of his new play, featuring Cornel Wilde and student actress Mary Craig. After the performance, Mary confesses to Wilde that she hates the play because of its callous attitude toward love and domestic happiness. A bit later, the tough, cynical Tony encounters Mary on the street and bitterly tells her that Wilde is no longer interested in doing the play. Their bickering is interrupted by the appearance of Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer, who are on their way home from the theater, and after watching the glamorous couple's exchange, Tony and Mary suddenly share a passionate kiss, unaware that they are being observed from across the street by songwriting team Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The following day, Rodgers and Hammerstein compose a song, inspired by the kiss, for their new show. Meanwhile, Tony and Mary resume quarreling, and Mary tells him she has a nice, stable boyfriend named Frank back home in South Terre Haute Junction. Tony then calls on his agent, Mildred Waterbury, who suggests that he write something upbeat for a change. Eager to make some money, Tony agrees to try his hand at writing a popular hit. Their meeting is interrupted by the arrival of Mildred's star client, Tallulah Bankhead, who complains that she is only offered roles as murderers and other "tiger women." Mildred quickly assures Tallulah that Tony is writing a play about wholesome, American motherhood just for her. Later, Tony accompanies Mary on the train back to Terre Haute and confesses his love for her, adding that he hopes to make enough ... +


In a New York theater, young playwright Anthony Monaco watches a workshop performance of his new play, featuring Cornel Wilde and student actress Mary Craig. After the performance, Mary confesses to Wilde that she hates the play because of its callous attitude toward love and domestic happiness. A bit later, the tough, cynical Tony encounters Mary on the street and bitterly tells her that Wilde is no longer interested in doing the play. Their bickering is interrupted by the appearance of Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer, who are on their way home from the theater, and after watching the glamorous couple's exchange, Tony and Mary suddenly share a passionate kiss, unaware that they are being observed from across the street by songwriting team Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The following day, Rodgers and Hammerstein compose a song, inspired by the kiss, for their new show. Meanwhile, Tony and Mary resume quarreling, and Mary tells him she has a nice, stable boyfriend named Frank back home in South Terre Haute Junction. Tony then calls on his agent, Mildred Waterbury, who suggests that he write something upbeat for a change. Eager to make some money, Tony agrees to try his hand at writing a popular hit. Their meeting is interrupted by the arrival of Mildred's star client, Tallulah Bankhead, who complains that she is only offered roles as murderers and other "tiger women." Mildred quickly assures Tallulah that Tony is writing a play about wholesome, American motherhood just for her. Later, Tony accompanies Mary on the train back to Terre Haute and confesses his love for her, adding that he hopes to make enough money to become a family man. Mary introduces Tony to her parents, and it soon comes out that Mary made up the story about her boyfriend "Frank." Tony stays with the Craigs while he works on his play, drawing inspiration from the happy family. Eventually, however, the pressure of writing about a world he has never experienced grows too great, and Tony returns to New York with Mary's blessing. After Tony leaves, a young man named Frank Johnson comes to Terre Haute to open a hardware store, and endears himself to the Craig family with his homespun charm. Back in his New York apartment, Tony leaves Mary's letters unopened as he struggles with the play, until his kindly landlady, Molly Goldberg, insists that he write to her. However, Mary is upset by the terse, unromantic tone of Tony's letter, and as Frank comforts her, she begins to see him in a new light. Meanwhile, in New York, Tony finally abandons his play's sweet, domestic theme and writes a hard-boiled murder mystery, Calico and Lust . Mildred and Tallulah are extremely displeased, and the despondent Tony is arrested when he throws a wrapped package, which he says contains the remaining copies of the script, off the Brooklyn Bridge. Mary hears of Tony's arrest while listening to a New York radio program with Frank, and decides to go to him. Actress Ethel Barrymore is also listening to the broadcast in her dressing room, along with her brother Lionel and Louis Calhern, and they are moved by the young playwright's situation. Louis gets Tony out of jail, and when Ethel tells him he must write the play again, Tony admits that he still has one copy of the script at home. The Barrymores enlist director John Van Druten in their cause, and he calls Tallulah and convinces her to read the script. Mary is with Tony when a telegram from Van Druten arrives saying that the play will start rehearsals the following week. Tony proposes marriage, but Mary, who is torn between him and Frank, agrees only to stay with him through the production of his play. One day, during a rehearsal break, the mercurial Tallulah listens to a baseball game on the radio, and when New York Giants manager Leo Durocher's decides to pull pitcher Duke Snider, she calls the bullpen and yells at Durocher. On the night of the play's Broadway opening, Frank secretly arrives in town and buys a ticket. At intermission, after listening to the unfavorable comments from the audience members in the lobby, Tom encounters Frank in the bar. Certain that his play is going to flop, and impressed by his rival's solid qualities, Tom urges Frank to take Mary back to Terre Haute. After the performance, however, Mary tells Frank that she loves Tom and has come to appreciate the contribution that such artists make to society. Mary finds Tom outside the theater, and with the lights of Broadway shining down on them, they kiss. +

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

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