Four Wives (1939)

110 mins | Drama | 25 December 1939

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HISTORY

The working titles of this picture were Family Reunion , Family Affair , American Family and Sister Act . This picture was a sequel to Warner Bros. 1938 film Four Daughters . Production charts in HR note that Fay Bainter was to cast in the picture, but her participation in the project is unconfirmed. The composition Symphonie Moderne , which Max Steiner wrote for this film, was later expanded and published. In 1941, William Keighley directed the Lane sisters in Four Mothers , which was also based on the Fannie Hurst ... More Less

The working titles of this picture were Family Reunion , Family Affair , American Family and Sister Act . This picture was a sequel to Warner Bros. 1938 film Four Daughters . Production charts in HR note that Fay Bainter was to cast in the picture, but her participation in the project is unconfirmed. The composition Symphonie Moderne , which Max Steiner wrote for this film, was later expanded and published. In 1941, William Keighley directed the Lane sisters in Four Mothers , which was also based on the Fannie Hurst story. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
21 Nov 39
p. 3.
Film Daily
28 Nov 39
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 39
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 39
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 39
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Nov 39
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
27 Nov 39
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
23 Sep 39
p. 58.
Motion Picture Herald
25 Nov 39
p. 40.
New York Times
23 Dec 39
p. 9.
Variety
22 Nov 39
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture; Jack L. Warner in charge of production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus score
Orch arr
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by the story "Sister Act" by Fannie Hurst in Hearst's International-Cosmopolitan (Mar 1937).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
"Mickey Borden's Theme" by Max Rabinowitz.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
American Family
Family Affair
Sister Act
Family Reunion
Release Date:
25 December 1939
Production Date:
began 17 August 1939
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
3 January 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9308
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
110
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
5754
SYNOPSIS

Joy reigns in the Lemp household as the family eagerly awaits the return of daughter Ann's fiancé, composer Felix Deitz, from his concert tour and the results of daughter Emma Lemp Talbot's visit to the doctor. The sisters are bitterly disappointed, however, when they learn that Emma is not pregnant and never will be, while Ann is carrying the baby of her late husband, Mickey Borden. The knowledge that she is carrying Mickey's child awakens Ann's memories of their brief married life, and she becomes obsessed with thoughts of Mickey's bitter failure in life. Especially haunting is the vision of Mickey playing his own composition, the one with no beginning or end, only a middle. Ann's feelings of guilt drive a wedge into her relationship with Felix, prompting her sister Kay to ask the doctor, Clinton Forrest, Jr. for help. Clinton advises Ann to get on with her life, and she decides to elope with Felix rather than enjoy the big wedding that she and Mickey were denied. At their wedding dinner, Felix begins to work on Mickey's unfinished composition, and sister Thea Lemp Crowley announces that she is planning to adopt a baby. On the day that Thea brings the new baby home, however, she learns that she is pregnant and turns the infant over to Emma and her husband Ernest. Meanwhile, Ann insists that Felix go on his concert tour, and after a heated quarrel, Felix leaves the house. Ann runs after him to apologize, but she is too late, and as Felix's train pulls out of the station, she collapses in premature labor. Felix returns to save the baby's life ... +


Joy reigns in the Lemp household as the family eagerly awaits the return of daughter Ann's fiancé, composer Felix Deitz, from his concert tour and the results of daughter Emma Lemp Talbot's visit to the doctor. The sisters are bitterly disappointed, however, when they learn that Emma is not pregnant and never will be, while Ann is carrying the baby of her late husband, Mickey Borden. The knowledge that she is carrying Mickey's child awakens Ann's memories of their brief married life, and she becomes obsessed with thoughts of Mickey's bitter failure in life. Especially haunting is the vision of Mickey playing his own composition, the one with no beginning or end, only a middle. Ann's feelings of guilt drive a wedge into her relationship with Felix, prompting her sister Kay to ask the doctor, Clinton Forrest, Jr. for help. Clinton advises Ann to get on with her life, and she decides to elope with Felix rather than enjoy the big wedding that she and Mickey were denied. At their wedding dinner, Felix begins to work on Mickey's unfinished composition, and sister Thea Lemp Crowley announces that she is planning to adopt a baby. On the day that Thea brings the new baby home, however, she learns that she is pregnant and turns the infant over to Emma and her husband Ernest. Meanwhile, Ann insists that Felix go on his concert tour, and after a heated quarrel, Felix leaves the house. Ann runs after him to apologize, but she is too late, and as Felix's train pulls out of the station, she collapses in premature labor. Felix returns to save the baby's life with a blood transfusion, but then goes back to New York. As Ann recovers in her hospital bed, she hears the broadcast of Felix's first concert coming from New York. It is Mickey's composition, with a beginning and end by Felix. The piece receives a tremendous ovation, bringing to Mickey the acclaim that had eluded him in life. Mickey's success alleviates Ann's guilt, and all ends happily as Ann and Felix reconcile, Thea gives birth to twin girls and Kay marries Clint. +

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.