Heavenly Days (1944)

71-72 mins | Comedy | 1944

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HISTORY

According to pre-production news items in HR , Richard Wallace was initially slated to direct this picture, but after a prior commitment to Columbia forced him to drop out of the project, Ray Enright was assigned to direct. Other HR news items add that production was suspended from 24 Mar--14 Apr 1944 when Jim Jordan (the real name of "Fibber McGee") was hospitalized with pneumonia. An article in the NYT notes that Heavenly Days differed from previous Fibber McGee and Molly films because it developed a story line rather than relying on a string of gags. Producer Robert Fellows claimed that the change in strategy was necessary because research had determined that audiences quickly tire of burlesque routines; the studio hoped that by focusing on the story, they could extend the longevity of the Fibber McGee and Molly characters. The development of this particular story line backfired, however, when the Army Selection Board, the agency that reviewed motion pictures for distribution to the troops, rejected the film on the grounds that it contained political material banned by Title V of the Soldiers Ballad Amendment. According to news items in DV and HR , that amendment was drafted by Republican Senator Robert Taft to insulate service men from "federally financed political propaganda designed or calculated to affect a federal election." In essence, the amendment made it unlawful for any agency of the federal government to expose armed forces personnel to any film or type of communication that might contain political propaganda designed to affect the outcome of an election. Heavenly Days , which ... More Less

According to pre-production news items in HR , Richard Wallace was initially slated to direct this picture, but after a prior commitment to Columbia forced him to drop out of the project, Ray Enright was assigned to direct. Other HR news items add that production was suspended from 24 Mar--14 Apr 1944 when Jim Jordan (the real name of "Fibber McGee") was hospitalized with pneumonia. An article in the NYT notes that Heavenly Days differed from previous Fibber McGee and Molly films because it developed a story line rather than relying on a string of gags. Producer Robert Fellows claimed that the change in strategy was necessary because research had determined that audiences quickly tire of burlesque routines; the studio hoped that by focusing on the story, they could extend the longevity of the Fibber McGee and Molly characters. The development of this particular story line backfired, however, when the Army Selection Board, the agency that reviewed motion pictures for distribution to the troops, rejected the film on the grounds that it contained political material banned by Title V of the Soldiers Ballad Amendment. According to news items in DV and HR , that amendment was drafted by Republican Senator Robert Taft to insulate service men from "federally financed political propaganda designed or calculated to affect a federal election." In essence, the amendment made it unlawful for any agency of the federal government to expose armed forces personnel to any film or type of communication that might contain political propaganda designed to affect the outcome of an election. Heavenly Days , which dealt with the local election at Wistful Vista, the home of Fibber McGee and Molly, and the Twentieth Century-Fox film Wilson (See Entry) were the first two films to be denied distribution on these grounds. The public outcry against the ban eventually caused Taft to review the amendment, which he claimed had been interpreted too literally. George Gallup was a statistician and founder of the American Institute of Public Opinion, an organization created to sample public opinion. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
29 Jul 1944.
---
Daily Variety
28 Jul 44
p. 3.
Daily Variety
10 Aug 44
p. 1, 14
Film Daily
4 Aug 44
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Feb 44
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Mar 44
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 44
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Apr 44
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 44
p. 1, 4
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 44
p. 14.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Mar 44
p. 1817.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
29 Jul 44
p. 2018.
New York Herald Tribune
10 Aug 1944.
---
New York Times
13 Feb 1944.
---
New York Times
21 Oct 44
p. 15.
Variety
2 Aug 44
p. 10.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
J. C. Fowler
John Duncan
Selmar Jackson
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Scr
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
SOUND
Re-rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
SOURCES
SONGS
"Please Won't You Leave My Girl Alone" and "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," words and music by Harry Carroll and Joseph McCarthy.
DETAILS
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 20 October 1944
Production Date:
mid February--late April 1944
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
13 August 1944
Copyright Number:
LP12912
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
71-72
Length(in feet):
6,438
Country:
United States
PCA No:
9994
SYNOPSIS

When Molly McGee receives an invitation to visit her wealthy cousin, Alvin Clark, in Washington, D.C., Molly's husband Fibber insists on staying home in Wistful Vista. Fibber changes his mind, however, when the pipe player in a historic painting comes to life and lectures him about the responsibility of the average man to help his country. Fibber's assertion that it is his patriotic duty to visit Washington is sneered at by the pious Mr. Popham, who is running for the office of country treasurer. On the train to Washington, Fibber and Molly meet a group of soldiers bound for duty, and when the train becomes overcrowded, they give up their seats and board a plane. On the flight, they meet Dr. George Gallup, the public opinion pollster, and engage him in a discussion about the average man. Intrigued, Gallup decides to poll the public to see if "he" exists. At the Washington airport, reporters Dick Martin and Angie see the McGees with Dr. Gallup and, assuming that they must be influential people, ask them for a story. After agreeing to discuss his mission later, Fibber and Molly proceed to the Clarks's house and discover that their hosts have been called away. When Molly finds dust in the house, she decides to clean it. After changing into servants clothes, they are visited by Senator Bigbee, who is delivering a delegation of foreign children to stay at the house. Mistaking the McGees for servants, Bigbee leaves the children in their care. Before the senator leaves, Fibber tricks him into issuing them a pass to the senate. Alone with the McGees, the children voice their thanks ... +


When Molly McGee receives an invitation to visit her wealthy cousin, Alvin Clark, in Washington, D.C., Molly's husband Fibber insists on staying home in Wistful Vista. Fibber changes his mind, however, when the pipe player in a historic painting comes to life and lectures him about the responsibility of the average man to help his country. Fibber's assertion that it is his patriotic duty to visit Washington is sneered at by the pious Mr. Popham, who is running for the office of country treasurer. On the train to Washington, Fibber and Molly meet a group of soldiers bound for duty, and when the train becomes overcrowded, they give up their seats and board a plane. On the flight, they meet Dr. George Gallup, the public opinion pollster, and engage him in a discussion about the average man. Intrigued, Gallup decides to poll the public to see if "he" exists. At the Washington airport, reporters Dick Martin and Angie see the McGees with Dr. Gallup and, assuming that they must be influential people, ask them for a story. After agreeing to discuss his mission later, Fibber and Molly proceed to the Clarks's house and discover that their hosts have been called away. When Molly finds dust in the house, she decides to clean it. After changing into servants clothes, they are visited by Senator Bigbee, who is delivering a delegation of foreign children to stay at the house. Mistaking the McGees for servants, Bigbee leaves the children in their care. Before the senator leaves, Fibber tricks him into issuing them a pass to the senate. Alone with the McGees, the children voice their thanks for being in America. Later that night, the Clarks's maid and butler arrive to take charge, and the next day, Fibber and Molly proceed to the senate, where they are met by Angie and Dick. From his seat in the senate gallery, Fibber exhorts the politicians to listen to the common man instead of the "big shots." His speech is met with indignation, and he is ordered off the floor by the sergeant at arms. After Bigbee upbraids him for his impudence, Fibber repeats his speech to the reporters. Meanwhile, at the Gallup offices, the response to the average man poll comes pouring in. That night, Fibber dreams that he is given the opportunity to address the senate on behalf of the common man. In reponse to Fibber's remarks, Bigbee argues that the common man is not interested in taking part in the political process. The next day, the Clarks return home and Alvin tells Fibber that he has been appointed to coordinate public morale in the post-war era and asks Fibber to be his assistant. Fibber accepts the post, but when Alvin learns about Fibber's speech to the senate, he fires him. Disgraced by the McGees' populism, Mrs. Clark asks them to leave the house immediately. As the McGees pack, Dick and Angie convince their editor to run a story about them. When the reporters arrive at the house with a photographer, the Clarks ask them to leave by a side entrance, but the reporters follow them and get their story. The story becomes a national sensation, and when the McGees arrive home in Wistful Vista, they are greeted by a cheering crowd and Dr. Gallup. When Dr. Gallup announces that Fibber has been voted the average man, Fibber protests that he is above average and throws away the award. Realizing that it is election day, Fibber and Molly go to cast their votes. At the polls, Fibber discovers that he is not registered, and when he learns that half of the town's voters have not voted, he organizes a brass band to rally them to the polls to defeat Popham. As Fibber marches with the band, the pipe player parades alongside him, and then joins the other figures from Fibber's painting to march into history. +

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.