Hello, Sister! (1933)

55-56 or 59 mins | Drama, Romance | 14 April 1933

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Walking Down Broadway . This was the last film on which Erich von Stroheim worked as a director. Although von Stroheim developed the script with Fox writers and directed during the initial production period, the studio subsequently remade the film without his participation and released it with no director credited. The project began, according to a 4 Sep 1931 FD news item, when Fox signed von Stroheim to direct a film based on the unpublished play Walking Down Broadway by New York writer Dawn Powell. The copy of the play in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library is dated 6 Aug 1931. Von Stroheim and Fox staff writer Leonard Spigelgass prepared an outline, dated 11 Sep 1931, which contained the basic scenes and characterizations that appeared in the final shooting script of 9 Aug 1932. In a modern article, Spigelgass stated that the director "was chiefly interested in the neuroses" of the characters, whom they changed from "simple American characters into far more complicated ones, Viennese-oriented." Before the final shooting script, a number of treatments and continuities were written by Stroheim, Spigelgass and other writers. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, also at UCLA, von Stroheim was "summarily dismissed" in Feb 1932 with $16,500 still owed him on his contract. A draft of the script dated 12 Mar 1932 lists Alan Crosland, not von Stroheim, as the director. (At that time, Gordon Wiles was to be the art director; David Cox, to be ... More Less

The working title of this film was Walking Down Broadway . This was the last film on which Erich von Stroheim worked as a director. Although von Stroheim developed the script with Fox writers and directed during the initial production period, the studio subsequently remade the film without his participation and released it with no director credited. The project began, according to a 4 Sep 1931 FD news item, when Fox signed von Stroheim to direct a film based on the unpublished play Walking Down Broadway by New York writer Dawn Powell. The copy of the play in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library is dated 6 Aug 1931. Von Stroheim and Fox staff writer Leonard Spigelgass prepared an outline, dated 11 Sep 1931, which contained the basic scenes and characterizations that appeared in the final shooting script of 9 Aug 1932. In a modern article, Spigelgass stated that the director "was chiefly interested in the neuroses" of the characters, whom they changed from "simple American characters into far more complicated ones, Viennese-oriented." Before the final shooting script, a number of treatments and continuities were written by Stroheim, Spigelgass and other writers. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, also at UCLA, von Stroheim was "summarily dismissed" in Feb 1932 with $16,500 still owed him on his contract. A draft of the script dated 12 Mar 1932 lists Alan Crosland, not von Stroheim, as the director. (At that time, Gordon Wiles was to be the art director; David Cox, to be in charge of wardrobe; Jack Boland, the assistant director; and Archie Buchanan the business manager.) A LAT news item dated 5 Jun 1932 reported, "For awhile [von Stroheim] was scheduled to direct his own story, Walking Down Broadway , for Fox. The deal, he admits, is now apparently off, although he retains hope for its revival." A HF production chart in Jun lists the film as shooting with Crosland as director, but in the next week, the film is listed as "in preparation" with von Stroheim as director, so it is not likely that Crosland actually shot any footage in Jun 1932. By 21 Jun 1932, von Stroheim was back as director. A HCN news item dated 23 Jun 1932 explained that Winfield R. Sheehan, the Fox production chief, originally signed von Stroheim, but that the production had been postponed "time after time." Sheehan subsequently left on a "long sick leave," and while he was away, Alan Crosland was engaged to direct. Following Sheehan's return, von Stroheim was put back in charge. At that stage, according to HCN , only James Dunn and Minna Gombell were cast; Una Merkel had been cast, but was no longer going to be in the film. On 28 Jun, HCN announced that Marian Nixon, who had been cast for the romantic lead opposite Dunn, was no longer set for the part and that von Stroheim was testing a number of actresses. According to a memo in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, dated 21 Jul 1932, Hays Office officials Colonel Jason Joy, director of the AMPP Studio Relations Committee, and his assistant, Lamar Trotti (both of whom would, by the end of 1932, quit the Hays Office and become Fox employees), discussed the script with von Stroheim, who read it to them. The three worked out details that worried Hays Office officials, and a few days later, Joy reported on the meeting to MPPDA president Will H. Hays: "Von Stroheim, who remembered our letter on Queen Kelly [von Stroheim's last attempt at directing, which was halted before production was completed] kicked like a steer about seeing us, but I was very much pleased yesterday to hear that he now thinks we aren't so bad....We read the script several months ago and found it chock full of the old von Stroheim bits....[The latest version of the script] was vastly improved, both as entertainment and from our standpoint, but of course, there remained a lot of words and phrases which had to be changed." On 1 Aug 1932, Trotti reported in a memo, "They [von Stroheim and producer Sol M. Wurtzel] have decided to insert the idea of marriage between the girl and boy almost immediately in order to make the characters more sympathetic. It was really to strengthen Mr. Wurtzel's idea that we were called in to discuss it with Mr. von Stroheim." The final shooting script, dated 9 Aug 1932, was subtitled "An inconsequential story concerning small people along The Great White Way." Initial filming began 19 Aug 1932 and was completed in mid-Oct. HR reported that although the film came in one week late, it had not gone over budget. The film was edited in Oct and was scheduled to be released 27 Nov 1932, according to FD . An ad in FD on 10 Nov, listing von Stroheim as director, reads, "Life itself wrote this story--Genius brings it living to your screen. No woman can resist its appeal." The film was shown to members of the Hays Office on 18 Nov. On 29 Nov, however, after a preview, HR reported, "It is understood that W. R. Sheehan has or will order a complete remake of the Fox production of Walking Down Broadway due to the fact that this picture was sold on a special contract and so many of these have been signed that a release of the picture just finished may jeopardize the money value of the exhibition agreements." A number of sources have offered possible reasons that Fox executives thought the release of the film might jeopardize exhibition agreements. HCN stated that von Stroheim's version "turned out to be much too long for release." A Hays Office letter about the film states, "The first version was so bad (as a piece of entertainment) that the studio never released it." In a LAT column dated 4 Dec 1932, Philip K. Scheuer commented, "Quite the disappointment of the year is the news of Erich von Stroheim's failure as director of Walking Down Broadway . Ballyhooed as potentially great, touted sky-high to exhibitors, it goes back for a complete remake at the Fox studios. And nobody's to blame. I didn't see a preview of the film, but I can conjecture. It is not von Stroheim who has changed, but we. The man and his methods are as definitely 'dated' as are the rules of social deportment he obeys. Chastity and evil, white and black, a camellia in a pigsty--screen anachronisms all, like a click of the heels, a bow from the waist, a kissed hand....First Griffith, now von Stroheim. Artists both, murdered by Time." Modern sources report that von Stroheim felt he was caught in the middle of a battle for control of the production forces at Fox between Sheehan and Wurtzel during a period when the company was undergoing changes in management and that he blamed Wurtzel for his removal from the film. However, writer Leonard Spigelgass, in a modern article, states that Sheehan, not Wurtzel, threw von Stroheim off the lot after viewing the rough cut. Included in the Produced Scripts Collection is a script dated 6 Feb 1933 containing retake scenes written by Edwin Burke. (Earlier, in Feb and Mar 1932, after von Stroheim had been dismissed from the project the first time, Burke had written "changes" to the script then being worked on.) This retake script incorporated some scenes from von Stroheim's version, with new scenes written by Burke that were to be filmed. HCN reported that Alfred Werker started directing retakes on 13 Feb 1933. HR stated on 2 Mar 1933, "Edwin Burke has moved in to direct retakes of Walking Down Broadway for Fox. Picture gives Burke, contract writer, an opportunity to direct. Although production of the picture originally was under the supervision of Winfield Sheehan when Erich von Stroheim directed it, Sol Wurtzel is supervising the retaking job. When released the picture will carry the title Hello, Sister ." (Burke appears to have directed only one other film, the 1934 Now I'll Tell [see below]). A Var news item noted that Werker directed the retakes with Burke, and modern sources state that Raoul Walsh directed the scenes in Coney Island, which were shot by James Wong Howe. Spigelgass, in a modern article, states that Sidney Lanfield may have directed some of the retakes. The NYT review credits Alan Crosland with direction; however, no information concerning his participation in the final film has been located. Var stated that the original production cost around $300,000 and that the retakes cost $62,000. Modern sources credit Charles Van Enger as second cameraman and list Hattie McDaniel in the cast as a woman in the apartment house. McDaniel was not apparent in the print viewed. According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection, the new version was viewed on 17 Mar 1933 by the Hays Office. The AMPP Studio Relations Committee, reporting on the film to Hays, stated, "This new version does not seem to be much better." The script shot by von Stroheim is much longer than the retake script and has many differences in emphasis. In the original, the character of Mac is coarser, and Millie is more fully developed and more important than in the retake version. She is willing to do anything to get a man and, when she meets Jimmy, falls much more in love with him than in the final film. The major change involves the ending. In the original, the fire occurs after Millie turns on the gas in an attempt to kill herself. Afterwards, in a hospital scene, she effects a reconciliation between Jimmy and Peggy and then succumbs to an agonizing, terrifying death. The scenes directed by von Stroheim that seem to have survived in the released print (according to indications in the 6 Feb 1933 retake script) include the following: some shots of the "walk down Broadway"; Millie's dialogue with Jimmy as they walk about her fondness for funerals; Jimmy finding the injured dog; Millie falling in the sewer and Jimmy rescuing her; hallway shots as Jimmy goes to Peggy's apartment; Jimmy and Peggy climbing up to look out the skylight in her apartment (however most of the apartment scene is new); Mac's attempted rape of Peggy and his subsequent fight with Mona; Jimmy's talk with his boss in the bank; the marriage license bureau scenes; Jimmy and Peggy's argument in the rain; Peggy's return to the apartment; the fight in the street; the explosion and the most of the fire sequence. In reviewing the film, MPH noted that the title was "the salutation of the 'pick-up.'" FD commented that the film was "For adults only. Its story is hackneyed and considerably off-color, with dialogue which at times cannot be described as wholesome." More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
4 Sep 31
p. 1.
Film Daily
24 Jun 32
p. 2.
Film Daily
24 Aug 32
p. 11.
Film Daily
29 Sep 32
p. 7.
Film Daily
12 Oct 32
p. 11.
Film Daily
24 Oct 32
p. 1.
Film Daily
10 Nov 32
pp. 4-5.
Film Daily
14 Apr 33
p. 11.
Harrison's Reports
8 Apr 33
p. 54.
Hollywood Citizen-News
23 Jun 32
p. 14.
Hollywood Citizen-News
28 Jun 32
p. 6.
Hollywood Citizen-News
13 Feb 33
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 32
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Aug 32
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 32
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 32
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 32
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 32
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 33
p. 3.
International Photographer
1 Mar 33
p. 21.
Los Angeles Times
5 Jun 32
p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
4 Dec 32
pt. III, pp. 15-16.
Motion Picture Daily
6 May 33
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
13 May 33
pp. 22-23.
New York Times
6 May 33
p. 11.
Variety
4 Apr 33
p. 2.
Variety
9 May 33
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir of initial period
Dir of retakes
Dir of retakes
Asst dir
WRITERS
Cont and dial
Cont and dial
Addl dial
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Retakes written by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog for initial period
Photog for retakes
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
PRODUCTION MISC
Bus mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the unproduced play Walking Down Broadway by Dawn Powell.
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Walking Down Broadway
Release Date:
14 April 1933
Production Date:
19 August--mid October 1932
retakes 13 February--mid March 1933
Copyright Claimant:
Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
23 March 1933
Copyright Number:
LP3778
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
55-56 or 59
Length(in feet):
5,800
Length(in reels):
6
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

Mona LaRue, while preparing to go on a date, encounters a drunken neighbor on the stairs of her cheap apartment building in midtown Manhattan. The drunk says he is bringing in a stick of dynamite that he stole from his employer to hide under his mattress; when he acquires enough, he says, he plans to sell the dynamite to a rival construction company. Believing the drunk to be daft, Mona pays no attention to him. She then encourages her lonesome neighbors, Millie, a tall, lanky, ungainly and naïve woman, and her attractive, but innocent friend Peggy, both newcomers to the city, to go "walking down Broadway" to attract men. Peggy refuses to flirt, but agrees to go with Millie, and in front of a store, two men, Jimmy, also new to the city, and Mac, a loud tout, begin a conversation. Millie is very attracted to Jimmy, who is interested in Peggy, but Mac quickly takes Peggy's arm as they walk down the street. They go to Coney Island, where Jimmy angrily pushes Mac away after Mac forces Peggy to stay put on top of a contraption which blows women's dresses up. Although Peggy wants to go home, Millie, who thinks Jimmy is crazy about her, convinces her to go dancing with them at a Chinese restaurant. On the way home, Jimmy finds a dog who has been hit by a car, and Peggy offers iodine in the apartment. As they walk by a construction ditch, Millie falls into an open sewer and Jimmy rescues her. Peggy takes Millie upstairs for a hot bath and then joins Jimmy and Mac, ... +


Mona LaRue, while preparing to go on a date, encounters a drunken neighbor on the stairs of her cheap apartment building in midtown Manhattan. The drunk says he is bringing in a stick of dynamite that he stole from his employer to hide under his mattress; when he acquires enough, he says, he plans to sell the dynamite to a rival construction company. Believing the drunk to be daft, Mona pays no attention to him. She then encourages her lonesome neighbors, Millie, a tall, lanky, ungainly and naïve woman, and her attractive, but innocent friend Peggy, both newcomers to the city, to go "walking down Broadway" to attract men. Peggy refuses to flirt, but agrees to go with Millie, and in front of a store, two men, Jimmy, also new to the city, and Mac, a loud tout, begin a conversation. Millie is very attracted to Jimmy, who is interested in Peggy, but Mac quickly takes Peggy's arm as they walk down the street. They go to Coney Island, where Jimmy angrily pushes Mac away after Mac forces Peggy to stay put on top of a contraption which blows women's dresses up. Although Peggy wants to go home, Millie, who thinks Jimmy is crazy about her, convinces her to go dancing with them at a Chinese restaurant. On the way home, Jimmy finds a dog who has been hit by a car, and Peggy offers iodine in the apartment. As they walk by a construction ditch, Millie falls into an open sewer and Jimmy rescues her. Peggy takes Millie upstairs for a hot bath and then joins Jimmy and Mac, whom Mona, interested in Mac, has invited in. When Mona and Jimmy are preparing sandwiches, Mac tries to kiss Peggy. She slaps him after a struggle and runs out. Jimmy takes a sandwich up to Peggy, and they both confess that they never picked up anyone before. As they stand together on a chair on top of a table, Peggy shows Jimmy a view of the stars through her skylight, and they kiss. Jimmy leaves her apartment early the next morning, as they both have become very much in love. Mac, peering from the door of Mona's apartment, sees Jimmy leave and goes to Peggy's room. Mona, who has discovered that the ring Mac has given her is glass, follows, and when she finds Mac struggling with Peggy on her bed, she fights him. Their brawl carries them into the hall, down the stairs and back into her apartment. Three months later, Jimmy and Peggy plan to move to a house they can rent in Long Island, if Jimmy can get a raise. When Peggy learns from a doctor that she is pregnant, she cries and considers herself "bad," but Jimmy is ecstatic, and they plan to marry the next day, Christmas Eve. The next day, Jimmy convinces his boss in the bank to promote him to the bond department. When Mac learns about the planned marriage, he tells Jimmy that he went to Peggy's room after Jimmy left on the night they met. Jimmy slugs Mac and goes to Peggy's apartment. Finding Millie there, he questions her about Peggy. Because Jimmy laughs at Millie, she says that she and Peggy have picked up many men and that Peggy took up with him because she wanted to get even with Mac for throwing her over for Mona. Jimmy finds Peggy in the rain and asks her about Mac's and Millie's accusations. Angry because he has believed them, Peggy does not dispute the allegations. The drunk then brings some nitro glycerine into the building. Peggy comes crying to her room and locks herself in. Greatly upset, Millie finds Jimmy on the street and explains what really happened, telling him that she lied because she was jealous. Jimmy punches Mac and their fight is interrupted by an explosion in the apartment building. Jimmy runs through the flames to Peggy's room, but cannot get in, so he climbs to the roof, breaks the skylight and enters. He carries Peggy to the roof, and then across a beam to the next building, as other tenants jump from windows. After the fire is put out, Jimmy explains that he was crazy with jealousy and realized that he wouldn't want to live if anything happened to Peggy. He asks for forgiveness, and they kiss. +

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

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