Thanks a Million (1935)

87 mins | Musical comedy | 15 November 1935

Director:

Roy Del Ruth

Cinematographer:

Peverell Marley

Editor:

Allen McNeil

Production Designer:

Jack Otterson

Production Company:

Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Sing, Governor, Sing . The film was originally planned as a production of 20th Century Pictures before its merger with Fox. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, the story was originally written with Bing Crosby in mind for the lead. Later, according to DV , Lawrence Tibbett was set to make his screen comeback with this film, but in Mar 1935, Zanuck announced that a "more romantic and meatier story" was being developed along lighter lines for other players as a musical comedy. Tibbett was subsequently cast in Metropolitan (see above). While Nunnally Johnson is given sole writing credit on the screen, according to Var , the press sheet credits Melville Crossman, a pseudonym for Zanuck, with the story. Gus Kahn and Arthur Johnston were borrowed from M-G-M to write the music; the title of the film was changed after they wrote the song, "Thanks a Million." According to Var , the press sheet indicated that Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby contributed songs. No songs by Kalmar and Ruby are present in the final film, although the lyrics to one song, "What a Beautiful Night," were sent to the PCA for approval.        Peverell Marley was loaned by Edward Small. According to HR , the cast of the film was paid $300,000. Radio star Fred Allen, who made his screen debut in the film, reportedly received $50,000. Var noted that the film "unquestionably establishes Fred Allen for the screen." Harry Tugend, who contributed to the writing of ... More Less

The working title of this film was Sing, Governor, Sing . The film was originally planned as a production of 20th Century Pictures before its merger with Fox. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, the story was originally written with Bing Crosby in mind for the lead. Later, according to DV , Lawrence Tibbett was set to make his screen comeback with this film, but in Mar 1935, Zanuck announced that a "more romantic and meatier story" was being developed along lighter lines for other players as a musical comedy. Tibbett was subsequently cast in Metropolitan (see above). While Nunnally Johnson is given sole writing credit on the screen, according to Var , the press sheet credits Melville Crossman, a pseudonym for Zanuck, with the story. Gus Kahn and Arthur Johnston were borrowed from M-G-M to write the music; the title of the film was changed after they wrote the song, "Thanks a Million." According to Var , the press sheet indicated that Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby contributed songs. No songs by Kalmar and Ruby are present in the final film, although the lyrics to one song, "What a Beautiful Night," were sent to the PCA for approval.        Peverell Marley was loaned by Edward Small. According to HR , the cast of the film was paid $300,000. Radio star Fred Allen, who made his screen debut in the film, reportedly received $50,000. Var noted that the film "unquestionably establishes Fred Allen for the screen." Harry Tugend, who contributed to the writing of special sequences, was a writer for Allen's "Town Hall" broadcasts. This was the first feature film of the Yacht Club Boys, which consisted of Charles Adler, James V. Kern, Billy Mann and George Kelly. This was the first Twentieth Century-Fox production to be shot at the Movietone studios. The scenes of Paul Whiteman and his band were shot in New York by director Otto Brower and a technical crew that he brought from the Movietone studios. HR noted that Whiteman was "almost unrecognizable with a svelte new figure." According to a HR news item, Roy Del Ruth and assistant director Ben Silvey went to San Francisco before filming began to look for locations. No information has been located to determine whether any filming took place there. This was Margaret Irving's first film. In 1937, Lt. Gov. Victor Aloysius Meyers of Washington State, a former bandleader, sued Twentieth Century-Fox for $250,000 in damages because of a line in the film spoken by Fred Allen, which Meyers claimed reflected on his qualifications and deprived him of the "confidence, respect and good will of the people." The line in question came when "Ned" is trying to convince "Eric" to run for governor. He says, "Up in Washington, they elected a jazz band leader Lieutenant Governor, and if the people will vote for a jazz band leader, they'll vote for anybody." No information has been located concerning the disposition of the suit. The film received an Academy Award nomination in the sound recording category.
       In 1946, Twentieth Century-Fox produced a film with a similar plot, entitled If I'm Lucky , but which gave no credit to this film. It was directed by Lewis Seiler and starred Vivian Blaine and Perry Como. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23-Nov-35
---
Daily Variety
15-Dec-34
---
Daily Variety
21 Oct 35
p. 3.
Film Daily
25 Oct 35
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
15-Mar-35
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 35
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 35
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 35
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 35
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 35
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 35
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 35
p. 1, 3
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 35
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Sep 35
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 36
sect. II, p. 69.
Motion Picture Daily
22 Oct 35
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald
5 Oct 35
p. 50.
Motion Picture Herald
2 Nov 35
p. 56.
New York Times
14 Nov 35
p. 17.
Newsweek
3-Apr-37
---
Variety
20 Nov 35
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Darryl F. Zanuck Twentieth Century Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr to dial
Contr on spec seq
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Ed asst
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus arr
SOURCES
SONGS
"Thanks a Million," "Sittin' on a Hilltop," "Pocketful of Sunshine," "New O'Leans" and "Sugar Plum," words by Gus Kahn, music by Arthur Johnston
"The Alphabet Song," "Square Deal Party" and "Ridin' Over Hill and Dale," words and music by the Yacht Club Boys
"Happy Days Are Here Again," words by Jack Yellen, music by Milton Ager.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Sing, Governor, Sing
Release Date:
15 November 1935
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 13 November 1935
Production Date:
20 August--mid September 1935
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
15 November 1935
Copyright Number:
LP6081
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
87
Length(in feet):
7,906
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
1545
SYNOPSIS

Singer Eric Land, dancers Sally and Phoebe Mason, violinist Rubinoff and their orchestra perform for an unimpressed bus driver as their bus approaches New City in a rain storm. In town, when they are told that they must wait two hours to change buses for New York, where Eric hopes to get a chance to sing on the radio, manager Ned Lyman happens upon a political rally for gubernatorial candidate Judge A. Darrius Culliman. After witnessing most of the crowd leave in the middle of the judge's boring recitation of his past achievements, Ned convinces the judge and his handlers to hire his musical company to give free shows before the judge's speeches to liven up the events. After the first performance, however, the crowd boos the judge and demands to hear Eric sing again. Because of this, Ned is forced to fire Eric, with whom Sally has begun to fall in love. In the next town, Capitol City, when the judge is too drunk to go onstage, Eric is persuaded to give an ad lib performance, which captivates the crowd, including Kay Kruger, the wife of the leader of the judge's party. Convinced that the public is fed up with politicians, Kruger and his cohorts, Casey and Maxwell, try to talk Eric into running instead of the judge. Eric scoffs at the idea until Sally points out that while he may have no chance to win, the publicity might make him into a radio star. He then agrees to run on the guarantee of a radio hook-up and one song with every speech. Eric proves to be very popular, not only ... +


Singer Eric Land, dancers Sally and Phoebe Mason, violinist Rubinoff and their orchestra perform for an unimpressed bus driver as their bus approaches New City in a rain storm. In town, when they are told that they must wait two hours to change buses for New York, where Eric hopes to get a chance to sing on the radio, manager Ned Lyman happens upon a political rally for gubernatorial candidate Judge A. Darrius Culliman. After witnessing most of the crowd leave in the middle of the judge's boring recitation of his past achievements, Ned convinces the judge and his handlers to hire his musical company to give free shows before the judge's speeches to liven up the events. After the first performance, however, the crowd boos the judge and demands to hear Eric sing again. Because of this, Ned is forced to fire Eric, with whom Sally has begun to fall in love. In the next town, Capitol City, when the judge is too drunk to go onstage, Eric is persuaded to give an ad lib performance, which captivates the crowd, including Kay Kruger, the wife of the leader of the judge's party. Convinced that the public is fed up with politicians, Kruger and his cohorts, Casey and Maxwell, try to talk Eric into running instead of the judge. Eric scoffs at the idea until Sally points out that while he may have no chance to win, the publicity might make him into a radio star. He then agrees to run on the guarantee of a radio hook-up and one song with every speech. Eric proves to be very popular, not only with the voters, but also with Mrs. Kruger, which irritates and saddens Sally. To combat Eric's campaign, the incumbent, Governor Wildman, engages Paul Whiteman and his band to perform at his rallies. On the Sunday before the election, after Eric has kept Sally waiting three hours, he promises they will go someplace alone, when Mrs. Kruger calls and invites him for dinner. He turns her down, but as he and Sally enter the lobby of their hotel, he is called to the phone again. This time Mrs. Kruger says that her husband just phoned asking her to have Eric meet him in ten minutes to discuss something important. Not wishing to provoke Sally's jealousy, Eric tells her that Ned wants him, but after he leaves, Sally sees Ned come into the lobby. At the Kruger home, Mrs. Kruger confesses that her husband is not coming home that night. Eric answers her advances by saying that he wants to marry her, but she says that she would be a fool to give up what she has and that she only wants an affair. She then realizes that Eric is joking and orders him out. Back at the hotel, Eric finds that Sally does not answer her phone. When Kruger's men ask him to sign a paper stating that once he is governor, he will give appointments with opportunities for easy graft to those who have contributed to his campaign, Eric refuses. He then finds a note from Sally saying that she is leaving because he lied to her. On the eve of the election, Sally listens to Eric's speech over the radio from a diner. Eric exhorts voters not to vote for him and reveals the agreement that he was asked to sign, which would have diverted millions of dollars to Kruger and his associates. As Eric sings "Thanks a Million," Sally is deeply moved. Afterward, because he has not heard from Sally, Eric refuses Ned's advice to leave to escape retaliation. When she arrives, they speed toward the state line followed by an army of motorcycle cops. At a roadblock, their car is stopped, and Eric is congratulated on being elected governor. The police then escort him and Sally to an altar and join them in song. +

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.