Frenchman's Creek (1944)

110 or 113 mins | Romance | 1944

Director:

Mitchell Leisen

Writer:

Talbot Jennings

Cinematographer:

George Barnes

Editor:

Alma Macrorie

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegté

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the APMAS Library, beginning in 1941, various producers, including David O. Selznick and Louis B. Mayer, submitted Daphne Du Maurier's novel, Frenchman's Creek , to the PCA for story approval. However, the PCA continually rejected the story because it concerned "adultery and illicit love without compensating moral values." Paramount, however, persevered despite changes demanded by the PCA, including the following: "Having in mind that Dona is a married woman, and the mother of two children, we shall have to insist that there be no physical contact between her and the Frenchman....Somewhere along the line, it will be necessary for you to get from Dona an affirmative, direct statement, delivered convincingly, that there has been no immoral relationship between her and the Frenchman." At the close of the film, when "Dona" is forced to choose between returning to her husband or leaving with the pirate, "The Frenchman" tells her, "Of course, if you choose to stay in England, there is nothing that has happened between us that would make your marriage a pretense."
       According to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, David O. Selznick suggested that Paramount use Stanley Cortez as photographer; however, George Barnes was assigned. Information in the Paramount Collection also revealed that Sir Cedric Hardwicke was originally cast as "William," and worked for several weeks on the film, and that Doris Lloyd was initially cast as "Lady Godolphin." News items reveal that leading actresses considered for the role of "Dona" were Merle Oberon, Irene Dunne, Vivien Leigh, Rosalind Russell and Katina Paxinou, and that Charles ... More Less

According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the APMAS Library, beginning in 1941, various producers, including David O. Selznick and Louis B. Mayer, submitted Daphne Du Maurier's novel, Frenchman's Creek , to the PCA for story approval. However, the PCA continually rejected the story because it concerned "adultery and illicit love without compensating moral values." Paramount, however, persevered despite changes demanded by the PCA, including the following: "Having in mind that Dona is a married woman, and the mother of two children, we shall have to insist that there be no physical contact between her and the Frenchman....Somewhere along the line, it will be necessary for you to get from Dona an affirmative, direct statement, delivered convincingly, that there has been no immoral relationship between her and the Frenchman." At the close of the film, when "Dona" is forced to choose between returning to her husband or leaving with the pirate, "The Frenchman" tells her, "Of course, if you choose to stay in England, there is nothing that has happened between us that would make your marriage a pretense."
       According to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, David O. Selznick suggested that Paramount use Stanley Cortez as photographer; however, George Barnes was assigned. Information in the Paramount Collection also revealed that Sir Cedric Hardwicke was originally cast as "William," and worked for several weeks on the film, and that Doris Lloyd was initially cast as "Lady Godolphin." News items reveal that leading actresses considered for the role of "Dona" were Merle Oberon, Irene Dunne, Vivien Leigh, Rosalind Russell and Katina Paxinou, and that Charles Boyer was considered for the male lead. Nigel Bruce was loaned by Universal Pictures, Harald Ramond was loaned by Charles Rogers Productions, and Basil Rathbone was loaned by M-G-M for this film.
       Frenchman's Creek was shot on location in Mendocino County, CA, at Albion Creek and Mallory's Cove. In her autobiography, Joan Fontaine notes that she was put on suspension at Selznick Productions because she initially refused to accept this role. The film's final cost was approximately $3,800,000, according to NYT . The Var review claims this budget was Paramount's biggest "in history." The Tidings , a weekly Catholic newspaper, called the screenplay "the most immoral...of the year." Frenchman's Creek won an Academy Award for Art Direction/Interior Decoration (color), Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegté/Sam Comer. Du Maurier's novel was filmed again in 1998, as a British telefilm starring Tara Fitzgerald and Anthony Delon; this version was first broadcast in the U.S. on 25 Apr 1999. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 Sep 1944.
---
Daily Variety
20 Sep 44
pp. 3-4.
Film Daily
20 Sep 44
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Mar 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jun 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Sep 44
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
10 Jul 43
p. 1416.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
23 Sep 44
p. 2109.
New York Times
9 Jul 1944.
---
New York Times
21 Sep 44
p. 26.
Variety
20 Sep 44
p. 10.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Miss Fontaine's services by arrangement with David O. Selznick
Alfred George Ferguson
Louise La Planche
Fred Nay
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Mitchell Leisen Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
1st asst dir, 3rd unit
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st cam, 3rd unit
Cam op
Cam op
Cam op
Cam misc
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
Art dir, asst
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser, asst
Props
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
COSTUMES
[Cost] executed by
Ward man
Ward woman
Seamstress
Tailor
MUSIC
Mus score
Orch
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hair supv
Women's hair
Makeup misc
Makeup misc
Makeup misc
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst prod mgr
Fashion tech adv
English coach
Tech adv for sailing ships
Tech adv and instructor for fencing scenes
Tech adv for pirates
Dial coach
Unit mgr
Dog trainer
Script clerk
Script clerk, 3rd unit
Operations
Operations
In charge of movement
P.A. operator
Stock supv
Best boy
Elec
Elec
Elec
Elec
Elec
Elec
Elec
Elec
Generator op
Generator op
1st grip
Grip
Grip
Grip
Grip
Grip
Driver
Driver
Transportation misc
Transportation misc
Transportation misc
Transportation misc
Transportation misc
Transportation misc
Transportation misc
Transportation misc
Transportation misc
Transportation misc
Draperyman
Projectionist
Bird men
Bird men
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Dog man
STAND INS
Stand-in
Stand-in
Double
Fencing double
Fencing double, double for Arturo de Cordova and R
Double for Nigel Bruce
Double for Joan Fontaine
Double for Leslie Denison
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor color dir
Technicolor cam tech
Technicolor cam tech
Technicolor asst cam
Technicolor asst cam
Technicolor cam loader
Technicolor cam mech
Technicolor color control
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier (Garden City, NY, 1942).
MUSIC
"Clair de lune" by Claude Debussy.
SONGS
"Le temp s'en va," poem by Pierre de Ronsard, music by Troy Sanders
"Ali! Alo!" French folk song
"Que drôle," music by Troy Sanders, lyrics by Russell Bennett.
DETAILS
Release Date:
1944
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 20 September 1944
Production Date:
18 June--14 October 1943
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 September 1944
Copyright Number:
LP13021
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
110 or 113
Length(in feet):
10,121
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
9473
SYNOPSIS

In 1668, in London, Dona St. Columb, who is bored with city life, leaves her husband Harry when he refuses to acknowledge, and protect her from, the lecherous advances of his friend, Lord Rockingham. Dona takes her two children to Harry's ancestral home on the coast of Cornwall, where she is surprised to find only William, a servant unfamiliar to her. Dona laughs at her neighbor, Lord Godolphin, when he warns her of the treacherous French pirates who have been raiding the homes along the coast, but she is then kidnapped and taken to a pirate ship, La Mouette , that has dropped anchor in her own cove. Dona is thrilled by the presence of the pirate captain, who is known to her only as "The Frenchman," and invites him to her home for dinner. Although she is aware that Godolphin is forming a vigilante group to capture the pirates, Dona accepts The Frenchman's invitation to sail with him, and she leaves her children in the care of William. Wearing men's clothing, Dona narrowly escapes capture when she helps The Frenchman steal a French schooner laden with goods from Godolphin's cousin. Dona and The Frenchman fall in love, and when she finally returns home, she discovers that Harry and Rockingham have arrived to help Godolphin capture the pirates. William has covered for Dona's absence by telling her husband that she was sick in bed and could allow no visitors, and on Dona's urging, William goes to warn The Frenchman to set sail immediately. William delivers his message, but is shot in the arm by vigilantes, and returns to Dona to tell her that ... +


In 1668, in London, Dona St. Columb, who is bored with city life, leaves her husband Harry when he refuses to acknowledge, and protect her from, the lecherous advances of his friend, Lord Rockingham. Dona takes her two children to Harry's ancestral home on the coast of Cornwall, where she is surprised to find only William, a servant unfamiliar to her. Dona laughs at her neighbor, Lord Godolphin, when he warns her of the treacherous French pirates who have been raiding the homes along the coast, but she is then kidnapped and taken to a pirate ship, La Mouette , that has dropped anchor in her own cove. Dona is thrilled by the presence of the pirate captain, who is known to her only as "The Frenchman," and invites him to her home for dinner. Although she is aware that Godolphin is forming a vigilante group to capture the pirates, Dona accepts The Frenchman's invitation to sail with him, and she leaves her children in the care of William. Wearing men's clothing, Dona narrowly escapes capture when she helps The Frenchman steal a French schooner laden with goods from Godolphin's cousin. Dona and The Frenchman fall in love, and when she finally returns home, she discovers that Harry and Rockingham have arrived to help Godolphin capture the pirates. William has covered for Dona's absence by telling her husband that she was sick in bed and could allow no visitors, and on Dona's urging, William goes to warn The Frenchman to set sail immediately. William delivers his message, but is shot in the arm by vigilantes, and returns to Dona to tell her that La Mouette will not be able to sail until midnight. That night, vigilantes gather at Dona's house for dinner, and she tries to detain them past midnight. The Frenchman and his men unexpectedly take the party hostage, and Rockingham becomes suspicious when he sees the loosely concealed familiarity between Dona and The Frenchman. The Frenchman bids farewell to his lady and, after the pirates make their escape, Rockingham jealously tries to force himself on Dona, who kills him in self-defense. The vigilantes, meanwhile, engage in battle with the pirates. The Frenchman allows himself to be captured in order to save his ship, but the ship stays nearby and Dona helps him escape from prison. Dona is tempted to leave her dull life to join The Frenchman, but chooses instead to remain with her husband and children, and The Frenchman sails away. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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