It's Great to Be Alive (1933)

68-70 mins | Fantasy, Musical comedy | 2 June 1933

Director:

Alfred Werker

Writer:

Paul Perez

Producer:

John Stone

Cinematographer:

Robert Planck

Editor:

Barney Wolf

Production Company:

Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

The plot and onscreen credits were based on a screen continuity and credit sheets in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection and Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library. Fox produced a Spanish-language version of this film, El último varón sobre la Tierra , before they made the English-language version. According to NYT , It's Great to Be Alive included a scene at a "symposium attended by screen duplicates of Professors [Albert] Einstein and [Auguste] Piccard." NYMirror and Chicago News noted that Raúl Roulien's voice and his manner of singing was in the style of Maurice Chevalier. Philadelphia Inquirer remarked that Fox "is pinning [upon Roulien] the badge of stardom and high hopes for the 'discovery' of a new screen personality....In all kindness, one would suggest that the Fox Company... let Mr. Roulien go back to his roles in pictures made wholly for Spanish-speaking audiences." According to information in the Fox legal files, some scenes were shot at the Grand Central Airport in Glendale, CA. The legal files also reveal that the title of the English-language version was taken from a song title written by Lew Brown and Ray Henderson. After an agreement was reached concerning the use of the title, Brown sent a telegram to Fox producer Sol Wurtzel which read, in part, "Accepting your offer of two hundred thousand dollars for title 'It's Great to Be Alive.' Hope this low figure will not establish a precedent for my future titles. Kindly send three dollars to cover this telegram and then you can disregard first part of this wire." ... More Less

The plot and onscreen credits were based on a screen continuity and credit sheets in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection and Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library. Fox produced a Spanish-language version of this film, El último varón sobre la Tierra , before they made the English-language version. According to NYT , It's Great to Be Alive included a scene at a "symposium attended by screen duplicates of Professors [Albert] Einstein and [Auguste] Piccard." NYMirror and Chicago News noted that Raúl Roulien's voice and his manner of singing was in the style of Maurice Chevalier. Philadelphia Inquirer remarked that Fox "is pinning [upon Roulien] the badge of stardom and high hopes for the 'discovery' of a new screen personality....In all kindness, one would suggest that the Fox Company... let Mr. Roulien go back to his roles in pictures made wholly for Spanish-speaking audiences." According to information in the Fox legal files, some scenes were shot at the Grand Central Airport in Glendale, CA. The legal files also reveal that the title of the English-language version was taken from a song title written by Lew Brown and Ray Henderson. After an agreement was reached concerning the use of the title, Brown sent a telegram to Fox producer Sol Wurtzel which read, in part, "Accepting your offer of two hundred thousand dollars for title 'It's Great to Be Alive.' Hope this low figure will not establish a precedent for my future titles. Kindly send three dollars to cover this telegram and then you can disregard first part of this wire." According to a FD news item, this was the first film on which the prominent fashion designer Royer worked. A HR news item noted that Wurtzel tried to get actress Constance Cummings for this film.
       According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection in the AMPAS Library, the Hays Office objected to aspects of the screenplay of this film. Dr. James Wingate, director of the Studio Relations Committee of the AMPP, wrote to producer John Stone that the most serious problem with the film was the "overemphasis on sex as brought out through a situation wherein a world of sex starved females suddenly find one lone male whose presence brings about a series of humorous but nevertheless, rather baldly suggestive events." Stone thanked Wingate for his "constructive criticism" and replied that they "have since given the scenario a most careful overhauling, and eliminated the indicated--and other--objectionable points." After Wingate viewed a print of the film, he objected to a number of lines and bits of business, and the studio adhered to all the objections except a shot of "Toots" dropping a key into the bodice of her dress. Wurtzel noted that Wingate had not stated "definitely" that that should be eliminated. The shot remained in the film, and Wingate, in a letter to MPPDA secretary, Governor Carl E. Milliken, stated that "In the future I shall have to be more positive in my statements."
       Fox also produced a film in 1924 based on the same source entitled The Last Man on Earth , directed by J. G. Blystone and starring Earle Foxe. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Chicago News
29 Aug 1933.
---
CM
Feb 33
p. 114.
Film Daily
4 Oct 32
p. 7.
Film Daily
5 Apr 33
p. 6.
Film Daily
8 Jul 33
p. 6.
HF
8 Apr 33
p. 3.
HF
22 Apr 33
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Mar 33
p. 1.
International Photographer
Feb 33
p. 33.
International Photographer
Jun 33
p. 34.
Motion Picture Daily
8 Jul 33
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
1 Jul 33
p. 25.
New York Mirror
8 Jul 1933.
---
New York Times
12 Jun 33
p. 20.
New York Times
8 Jul 33
p. 14.
Philadelphia Inquirer
3 Jun 1933.
---
Variety
11 Jul 33
p. 15.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Liana Galen
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITERS
Adpt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
ART DIRECTOR
Settings
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Ed asst
COSTUMES
Frocks
MUSIC
Mus dir
DANCE
Dance dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Chief elec
Grip
Still photog
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novelette The Last Man on Earth by John D. Swain in Munsey's Magazine (Nov 1923).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Good Bye Ladies," "I'll Build a Nest," "Women," "It's Great to Be the Only Man Alive" and "World Congress," words and music by William Kernell.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
El último varón sobre la Tierra
Release Date:
2 June 1933
Production Date:
12145
Copyright Claimant:
Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
23 May 1933
Copyright Number:
LP3912
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
68-70
Length(in feet):
6,210
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Carlos Martin, an irrepressible rake, must give up his slew of girl friends when he becomes engaged to his true love, Dorothy Wilton. After their engagement party at the Wilton house, to which he arrives late, delayed by a goodbye dinner for his various amours, a drunk Carlos stumbles into the bedroom of the slumbering Toots, who earlier flirted openly with him. When Toots screams and awakens the household, Dorothy breaks her engagement to Carlos, who, in his distraught condition, decides to make a dangerous flight over the Pacific. Dorothy listens on the radio to the progress of Carlos' flight, and Brooks, the butler, informs her that he accidentally led Carlos into Toots's room. Moments later, just as Carlos gives Dorothy a message over the radio, his plane goes down and he loses all contact with the outside world. Three years later, Dorothy's father, Dr. Wilton, and Dr. Ruth Prodwell continue to work on a cure for masculitis, a disease that kills only men. Another two years pass and the last man in the world has died as the women of the world, led by Dr. Prodwell, attempt to create a synthetic man. When the synthetic man blows up in a puff of smoke as he is being galvanized, an aviatrix comes to Dr. Prodwell's lab and informs her that she has found a man on a Pacific island. The women decide to keep the valuable discovery a secret, but Helen, assisting Dr. Prodwell, informs her gangster boss, "Al," about the last man's existence. The lady gangsters arrive on the island, find Carlos and bring him back to a stateside speakeasy where they ... +


Carlos Martin, an irrepressible rake, must give up his slew of girl friends when he becomes engaged to his true love, Dorothy Wilton. After their engagement party at the Wilton house, to which he arrives late, delayed by a goodbye dinner for his various amours, a drunk Carlos stumbles into the bedroom of the slumbering Toots, who earlier flirted openly with him. When Toots screams and awakens the household, Dorothy breaks her engagement to Carlos, who, in his distraught condition, decides to make a dangerous flight over the Pacific. Dorothy listens on the radio to the progress of Carlos' flight, and Brooks, the butler, informs her that he accidentally led Carlos into Toots's room. Moments later, just as Carlos gives Dorothy a message over the radio, his plane goes down and he loses all contact with the outside world. Three years later, Dorothy's father, Dr. Wilton, and Dr. Ruth Prodwell continue to work on a cure for masculitis, a disease that kills only men. Another two years pass and the last man in the world has died as the women of the world, led by Dr. Prodwell, attempt to create a synthetic man. When the synthetic man blows up in a puff of smoke as he is being galvanized, an aviatrix comes to Dr. Prodwell's lab and informs her that she has found a man on a Pacific island. The women decide to keep the valuable discovery a secret, but Helen, assisting Dr. Prodwell, informs her gangster boss, "Al," about the last man's existence. The lady gangsters arrive on the island, find Carlos and bring him back to a stateside speakeasy where they attempt to auction him off to a rich woman. Before Carlos can be claimed, however, the police arrive with Dr. Prodwell, and Al is arrested for illegal possession of government property. Dorothy hears of Carlos' rescue and decides to claim her lost fiancé. Carlos is set up in a plush apartment where he is visited by adoring women, and attended to by a fleet of lovely females who flutter about, catering to his every whim. Dorothy gets Carlos alone and persuades him to run away with her, but refuses to bring the attendants with them, as Carlos requests. The police pursue the couple, who escape in Dorothy's plane, and call out the entire U.S. Navy and Air Force fleet to capture their valuable possession. Warships pick the couple up when they jump out of the plane in parachutes. A world congress is convened to decide the last man's fate where the nations plead their case for Carlos' hand in marriage. Carlos, devoted to Dorothy, tries to convince them of his fidelity to his fiancée, and then, tired of their cajolery, threatens to kill himself, terrifying the female delegation. Dr. Prodwell agrees to the marriage of Carlos and Dorothy, and the couple kiss. +

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.