Way Down East (1935)

84-85 mins | Melodrama | 25 October 1935

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HISTORY

According to news items, Janet Gaynor, who began in the role of "Anna Moore," suffered a slight brain concussion on 12 Jun 1935, which was caused by bumping against Henry Fonda's head while they were on location near Santa Cruz, CA. The injury was not thought to be serious until she fainted on the set two days later. Shooting was interrupted until 24 Jun, when Gaynor returned to the set; however, she soon was replaced by Rochelle Hudson, who won the part because of her success in Curly Top (see above). According to DV , during production, Fox issued orders that Hudson, who was known as first RKO's then Fox's "champ loaner-outer," would not be loaned out any longer. Modern sources have questioned whether Gaynor left because of her injury or a personal disagreement. This was Winfield Sheehan's final film for Fox. According to a HR news item, the film repeated the production technique used in the earlier Fox production, The Farmer Takes a Wife , of shooting almost entirely on to a single set, which was ready in every detail before filming began. The set was built on ten acres at Movietone City; in addition, there were five days of location shooting near Santa Cruz, which were necessary because of the long vistas required for the scenes in the barley fields. According to news items, Henry King filmed ice-jam and breakup scenes on the Kennebec and Death rivers near Watersville, Maine in Mar 1935 with unit manager A. F. Erickson and Ed Hammeras, whose job was unspecified. According to HR , the budget exceeded $1,000,000. According to ... More Less

According to news items, Janet Gaynor, who began in the role of "Anna Moore," suffered a slight brain concussion on 12 Jun 1935, which was caused by bumping against Henry Fonda's head while they were on location near Santa Cruz, CA. The injury was not thought to be serious until she fainted on the set two days later. Shooting was interrupted until 24 Jun, when Gaynor returned to the set; however, she soon was replaced by Rochelle Hudson, who won the part because of her success in Curly Top (see above). According to DV , during production, Fox issued orders that Hudson, who was known as first RKO's then Fox's "champ loaner-outer," would not be loaned out any longer. Modern sources have questioned whether Gaynor left because of her injury or a personal disagreement. This was Winfield Sheehan's final film for Fox. According to a HR news item, the film repeated the production technique used in the earlier Fox production, The Farmer Takes a Wife , of shooting almost entirely on to a single set, which was ready in every detail before filming began. The set was built on ten acres at Movietone City; in addition, there were five days of location shooting near Santa Cruz, which were necessary because of the long vistas required for the scenes in the barley fields. According to news items, Henry King filmed ice-jam and breakup scenes on the Kennebec and Death rivers near Watersville, Maine in Mar 1935 with unit manager A. F. Erickson and Ed Hammeras, whose job was unspecified. According to HR , the budget exceeded $1,000,000. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, Fox paid $50,000 for the rights to the play Way Down East , $23,750 of which went to D. W. Griffith, who produced and directed a version in 1920, which starred Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.4817). That film, according to DV , topped all road show pictures by grossing approximately nine million dollars and was reissued in 1931 with a synchronized score. According to DV , the 1935 film opened in New York and other key cities at a twice daily schedule with two dollar top seats before the general release. According to HR , it played to a new low attendance at Grauman's Chinese and Loew State theaters in Los Angeles and was pulled before the end of its scheduled engagement. According to information in the legal records, Edward McWade was originally cast as "Doc" Wiggin. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
10 Jun 35
p. 4.
Daily Variety
18 Jun 35
p. 3.
Daily Variety
11 Jul 35
p. 1.
Daily Variety
14 Aug 35
p. 3.
Daily Variety
23 Sep 35
p. 1.
Film Daily
31 Oct 35
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
31 May 35
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 35
p. 6, 7
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jun 35
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 35
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jul 35
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 35
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
22-Oct-35
---
Motion Picture Daily
15 Aug 35
p. 7.
Motion Picture Herald
24 Aug 35
p. 55, 58
New York Times
31 Oct 35
p. 16.
Variety
20-Mar-35
---
Variety
6 Nov 35
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Contr on spec seq
Contr on spec seq
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Annie Laurie by Lottie Blair Parker (Chicago, 1897) as elaborated by Joseph R. Grismer as Way Down East (New York, 14 Dec 1903).
MUSIC
"Turkey in the Straw" by D. Bryant.
SONGS
"Oh Promise Me," words by Clement Scott, music by Reginald DeKoven
"All Bound Round with a Woolen String," by Charles Seamon
"Little Brown Jug," words and music by J. E. Winner
+
SONGS
"Oh Promise Me," words by Clement Scott, music by Reginald DeKoven
"All Bound Round with a Woolen String," by Charles Seamon
"Little Brown Jug," words and music by J. E. Winner
"Good Morning to All," words by Patty S. Hill, music by Mildred J. Hill
"The Quilting Party" by J. Fletcher
"Road to Belden" by Hugo W. Friedhofer.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 October 1935
Premiere Information:
New York and selected cities: twice daily showings beginning 16 October 1935
Production Date:
31 May--3 August 1935
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
25 October 1935
Copyright Number:
LP5992
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
84-85
Length(in feet):
7,661
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
1192
SYNOPSIS

Sometime in the past, in the parlor of his farmhouse outside of Warner Center, a small New England town, Squire Amasa Bartlett, a local magistrate, refuses to be moved by the pleas of a penitent young girl for a chance to do right. Later that day, Anna Moore, the daughter of a deceased school friend of the squire's wife Louisa, arrives at the Bartlett farm asking for work. The squire asks her if she was raised strict and is church-going. When she embarrassedly states that she has always tried to do right, they hire her. The Bartletts' son David, who wants to leave the farm for the city, is attracted to Anna. The squire, however, wants him to marry his second cousin Kate, who has just returned from Boston, so that he will stay on the farm. Lennox Sanderson, the Bartletts' suave neighbor, who has been friendly with Kate on his trips to Boston, recognizes Anna. She speaks bitterly to him, and he suggests that they pretend they have never seen each other. He later asks her to leave. When David tells Anna that because of her he now no longer wants to leave the farm, she is disturbed. After the first snow, the Bartletts plan a bonfire party for David's birthday. David drives to town with Anna, and when Cordelia Peabody, from the nearby town of Beldon, sees them together, she recognizes Anna and tells her friend Martha Perkins, a gossipy, prudish spinster, that Anna boarded at her home with a baby, but with no husband and that after the baby died, Anna left owing money, so the Peabodys kept her trunk. ... +


Sometime in the past, in the parlor of his farmhouse outside of Warner Center, a small New England town, Squire Amasa Bartlett, a local magistrate, refuses to be moved by the pleas of a penitent young girl for a chance to do right. Later that day, Anna Moore, the daughter of a deceased school friend of the squire's wife Louisa, arrives at the Bartlett farm asking for work. The squire asks her if she was raised strict and is church-going. When she embarrassedly states that she has always tried to do right, they hire her. The Bartletts' son David, who wants to leave the farm for the city, is attracted to Anna. The squire, however, wants him to marry his second cousin Kate, who has just returned from Boston, so that he will stay on the farm. Lennox Sanderson, the Bartletts' suave neighbor, who has been friendly with Kate on his trips to Boston, recognizes Anna. She speaks bitterly to him, and he suggests that they pretend they have never seen each other. He later asks her to leave. When David tells Anna that because of her he now no longer wants to leave the farm, she is disturbed. After the first snow, the Bartletts plan a bonfire party for David's birthday. David drives to town with Anna, and when Cordelia Peabody, from the nearby town of Beldon, sees them together, she recognizes Anna and tells her friend Martha Perkins, a gossipy, prudish spinster, that Anna boarded at her home with a baby, but with no husband and that after the baby died, Anna left owing money, so the Peabodys kept her trunk. At David's birthday party, Sanderson, who wants to marry Kate for her money, encourages Anna to marry David. Anna rebukes him and promises to warn Kate. When David proposes to Anna, she runs to her room in tears. After Martha tells the squire about Anna's past, he immediately rides to Beldon to verify the story, while Anna tries to warn Kate, who becomes indignant at her interference. After confirming Martha's gossip, the squire, very upset, returns despite the reverend's warning that the ice is breaking up near the bridge. As a "northeaster" wind begins to blow strong, the squire arrives home and vehemently tells Anna, in front of the family, Sanderson, Martha and the constable, Seth Holcolm, that she must leave tomorrow. David, learning about the baby, asks Anna in front of everyone to marry him. When she tells the squire that the only thing she is guilty of is believing a man, David, inferring that she means Sanderson, orders him out, and they fight as Anna departs to get letters from her trunk in Beldon as proof. The squire orders Sanderson to leave, and, with Seth and David, searches for Anna. Sanderson finds her caught on a piece of ice flowing down the river toward rocks. He tries to rescue her, but they become trapped on a rapidly moving piece. As Sanderson grasps a wooden structure trying to save himself, David pulls Anna out of the river, which then carries Sanderson to his death. When the squire says that Anna cannot stay in his house, although he will see that she is cared for, David lashes out at his father, saying that his heart is filled with self-righteous bigotry, and he vows to take Anna, if she lives, someplace where human kindness exists. Louisa then convinces her husband to be more understanding and forgiving and urges him to change with the new generation. Later, at Anna and David's wedding, the squire plans to build a new wing onto the house, and David tells Anna that he is now content to live on the farm. +

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

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