Professional Soldier (1936)

75 or 78 mins | Comedy-drama, Adventure | 24 January 1936

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HISTORY

The opening credits introduce the film as " Damon Runyon's Professional Soldier ." The film was prepared for production by 20th Century Pictures and was released after the company merged with Fox Film Corp. A 9 Nov 1933 DV news item indicates that when Twentieth Century was handling the property, Gregory La Cava considered directing it. Early versions of the script, contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, suggest that the character of "George Foster" be played by Franchot Tone, and that of "Picklepuss," which became "Mischa," be played by Mischa Auer. According to HR news items, Wallace Beery was originally set for the role of "Michael Donovan," but was instead placed by Twentieth Century-Fox in A Message for Garcia (see above). HR news items also noted that John Ford was scheduled to direct the film, that actor Freddie Bartholomew was borrowed from M-G-M, and that Rian James was signed to work on the script. James's contribution to the completed film, however, has not been confirmed. A studio publicity release stated that Sydney Jordan, "Hollywood's most famous sharpshooter," was hired "to perform the dangerous shots." HR production charts include Douglas Wood and Jack Byron in the cast, but their contribution to the final picture has not been confirmed. A 30 Oct 1935 HR news item incorrectly stated that Kenneth Macgowan was taking over associate producer chores from Raymond Griffith, but the reporting error was corrected the next day. NYT noted that the picture cost in excess of $750,000 to produce. ... More Less

The opening credits introduce the film as " Damon Runyon's Professional Soldier ." The film was prepared for production by 20th Century Pictures and was released after the company merged with Fox Film Corp. A 9 Nov 1933 DV news item indicates that when Twentieth Century was handling the property, Gregory La Cava considered directing it. Early versions of the script, contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, suggest that the character of "George Foster" be played by Franchot Tone, and that of "Picklepuss," which became "Mischa," be played by Mischa Auer. According to HR news items, Wallace Beery was originally set for the role of "Michael Donovan," but was instead placed by Twentieth Century-Fox in A Message for Garcia (see above). HR news items also noted that John Ford was scheduled to direct the film, that actor Freddie Bartholomew was borrowed from M-G-M, and that Rian James was signed to work on the script. James's contribution to the completed film, however, has not been confirmed. A studio publicity release stated that Sydney Jordan, "Hollywood's most famous sharpshooter," was hired "to perform the dangerous shots." HR production charts include Douglas Wood and Jack Byron in the cast, but their contribution to the final picture has not been confirmed. A 30 Oct 1935 HR news item incorrectly stated that Kenneth Macgowan was taking over associate producer chores from Raymond Griffith, but the reporting error was corrected the next day. NYT noted that the picture cost in excess of $750,000 to produce. According to the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, also at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, the song "Joan of Arkansas" was written by Johnny Green and Edward Heyman for George White's 1935 Scandals (see above), but was not used in that film. Michael Whalen made his screen acting debut in this picture. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
11-Jan-36
---
Daily Variety
9 Nov 33
p. 4.
Daily Variety
23 Dec 35
p. 3.
Film Daily
27 Dec 35
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 35
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 35
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 35
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Oct 35
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 35
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 35
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 36
sect. II, p. 69.
Motion Picture Daily
24 Dec 35
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
30 Nov 35
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
4 Jan 36
p. 48.
New York Times
15-Sep-35
---
New York Times
30 Jan 36
p. 14.
Variety
5 Feb 36
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Darryl F. Zanuck Twentieth Century Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Settings
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Publicity dir
STAND INS
Sharpshooter
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "Gentlemen, the King!" by Damon Runyon in Collier's (25 Apr 1931).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Joan of Arkansas," words and music by John W. Green and Edward Heyman.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Damon Runyon's Professional Soldier
Release Date:
24 January 1936
Production Date:
7 October--11 November 1935
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
24 January 1936
Copyright Number:
LP6145
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
75 or 78
Length(in feet):
7,094
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
1778
SYNOPSIS

Michael Donovan, a former soldier of fortune, is reduced to playing nursemaid for playboy George Foster in Paris. One evening, Michael is approached by Paul Valdis and Christian Ledgard about a mission. The men explain that they support Stefan Bernaldo, the people's choice to lead their small country, and need Michael to kidnap their king Peter so that he is not harmed when they attempt a bloodless coup. After a new cabinet headed by Bernaldo is put in power, they explain, the king will be restored to the throne. With George in tow, Michael goes to the country's capital, where a costume ball is being held at the palace. While George is flirting with the Countess Sonia, Michael finds the king's chambers. He gets George and the two sneak into Peter's room, where they discover that Peter is a young boy. Peter thinks that Michael and George, who are dismayed at having to kidnap the youngster, are gangsters from Chicago, and he is thrilled at the possibility of having an adventure with them. Countess Sonia enters and sounds an alarm, but feels duty bound to accompany the young king when he shows Michael a secret passageway out of the palace. While the foursome go to the safe house arranged by Valdis, the corrupt cabinet, headed by Gino, determines to find Peter before they are overthrown. Michael and the others are greeted by Augusta and Mischa, the caretakers of the hideout, and after Peter runs off crying because of Michael's rudeness, Michael tells Valdis that he wishes to quit. Valdis warns Michael that they all will be killed if ... +


Michael Donovan, a former soldier of fortune, is reduced to playing nursemaid for playboy George Foster in Paris. One evening, Michael is approached by Paul Valdis and Christian Ledgard about a mission. The men explain that they support Stefan Bernaldo, the people's choice to lead their small country, and need Michael to kidnap their king Peter so that he is not harmed when they attempt a bloodless coup. After a new cabinet headed by Bernaldo is put in power, they explain, the king will be restored to the throne. With George in tow, Michael goes to the country's capital, where a costume ball is being held at the palace. While George is flirting with the Countess Sonia, Michael finds the king's chambers. He gets George and the two sneak into Peter's room, where they discover that Peter is a young boy. Peter thinks that Michael and George, who are dismayed at having to kidnap the youngster, are gangsters from Chicago, and he is thrilled at the possibility of having an adventure with them. Countess Sonia enters and sounds an alarm, but feels duty bound to accompany the young king when he shows Michael a secret passageway out of the palace. While the foursome go to the safe house arranged by Valdis, the corrupt cabinet, headed by Gino, determines to find Peter before they are overthrown. Michael and the others are greeted by Augusta and Mischa, the caretakers of the hideout, and after Peter runs off crying because of Michael's rudeness, Michael tells Valdis that he wishes to quit. Valdis warns Michael that they all will be killed if Peter is returned to the palace now, and Michael decides to stay. The next day, Peter and Michael become friends when the soldier teaches the boy king how to play football, while at the palace, Valdis' men incite the people to overthrow Gino's cabinet. Later, when Sonia and George visit a gypsy camp, Sonia slips a note with their whereabouts to the fortune-teller and asks her to give it to Gino, whom Sonia does not know is dangerous. Sonia informs Peter that the cabinet's soldiers will soon arrive, and he tells Michael. Michael is proud of the boy's determination to do as his people would wish, and the pair escape to search for Bernaldo. After a hard journey, they reach the palace, where they are captured by Gino's men. They are taken to the fortress of Prince Edric, who was once a friend of Peter's family but is now in league with Gino. Gino tells Peter that he will release Michael, but after Peter is taken away, Michael is thrown in the dungeon, where George is also being held. In order to discredit Bernaldo, who has announced to the people that their beloved king would be returned that day, Gino decides to kill Peter. While Peter is being led to the firing squad, Sonia discovers Gino's treachery and frees Michael and George. Aided by Sonia and George, Michael's ferocious fighting saves the day. Michael shoots Gino as Bernaldo's soldiers arrive, and Peter is rescued. Later, Sonia persuades George to stay and marry her, and a tearful Peter awards Michael his country's highest honor before he departs. +

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.