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HISTORY

Before the onscreen production credits appear, the title Since You Went Away , followed by the word "overture" is flashed onscreen while orchestral music plays under the title. Following the overture, the screen then goes black, after which the Selznick logo is projected. The logo is followed by the legend "David O. Selznick presents his production of Since You Went Away ". The onscreen writing credits: "based on the adaptation of her book by Margaret Buell Wilder," with "screenplay by the producer," although Selznick's name is not listed onscreen as the writer. The film opens with the following written prologue: "This is a story of the Unconquerable Fortress: the American Home..." An intermission divides the picture just after "Anne" is notified that her husband is missing in action. According to a modern source, Selznick began his search for a home-front drama in Jun 1942. Production materials on the film contained in the AMPAS Library reveal that Selznick settled on Wilder's book, which was largely a reprint of a column that she wrote for the Dayton Journal Herald . The column was written in story form as a series of letters from the writer to her husband. Portions of Wilder's book were also published in the Jun 1943 Ladies Home Journal . A modern source adds that after buying the story rights for $30,000, Selznick brought Wilder in to write the adaptation. After Wilder finished her adaptation, Selznick, thinking that the characters were too sketchy, took the basic structure and wrote the screenplay himself, focusing on the three principal characters of the Hilton family to create a "panorama ... More Less

Before the onscreen production credits appear, the title Since You Went Away , followed by the word "overture" is flashed onscreen while orchestral music plays under the title. Following the overture, the screen then goes black, after which the Selznick logo is projected. The logo is followed by the legend "David O. Selznick presents his production of Since You Went Away ". The onscreen writing credits: "based on the adaptation of her book by Margaret Buell Wilder," with "screenplay by the producer," although Selznick's name is not listed onscreen as the writer. The film opens with the following written prologue: "This is a story of the Unconquerable Fortress: the American Home..." An intermission divides the picture just after "Anne" is notified that her husband is missing in action. According to a modern source, Selznick began his search for a home-front drama in Jun 1942. Production materials on the film contained in the AMPAS Library reveal that Selznick settled on Wilder's book, which was largely a reprint of a column that she wrote for the Dayton Journal Herald . The column was written in story form as a series of letters from the writer to her husband. Portions of Wilder's book were also published in the Jun 1943 Ladies Home Journal . A modern source adds that after buying the story rights for $30,000, Selznick brought Wilder in to write the adaptation. After Wilder finished her adaptation, Selznick, thinking that the characters were too sketchy, took the basic structure and wrote the screenplay himself, focusing on the three principal characters of the Hilton family to create a "panorama of the home front." Selznick had originally planned to credit the screenplay to Jeffrey Daniel, a nom de plume , but later changed his mind, according to a 1944 LAT news item. According to an Aug 1943 HR news item, Selznick initially planned to direct the production.
To lend an air of authenticity to his drama, Selznick used five different units to film background shots of hospitalized soldiers, laborers at the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, CA, and Red Cross workers, according to a NYHT news item. A Jan 1944 HR news item adds that Selznick hired twenty female steelburners and nine tons of welding tools from the Wilmington Shipyard in order to lend verisimilitude to the shipyard scene. In the film's printed program, Selznick acknowledged the "technical assistance rendered by Dr. Walter L. Treadway, Medical Director of U. S. Public Health Service; Mr. Ulrie Bell and Mr. William S. Cunningham of the OWI; Commander Alfred J. Bolton U. S. Navy; Mr. Allyn Butterfield of the War Dept.; Mr. Jack Beaman, liaison officer for the American Red Cross and May E. Romm, M. D.
News items in HR yield the following information about the production: Although George Barnes is credited with photography in the Sep 1943 production charts, he is not credited onscreen. According to modern sources, Selznick fired Barnes after two weeks of work because he was dissatisfied with the way Claudette Colbert was being photographed. In late Nov 1943, Tay Garnett was borrowed from M-G-M to direct Robert Walker's scenes, and Lee Garmes was hired to photograph them. Director Andre De Toth worked on special montage scenes between 8 Dec--22 Dec 1943. When director John Cromwell fell ill, Selznick took over the directorial reigns from 23--26 Dec 1943. The sequence at the railroad depot was filmed at the Pathé lot on a site that once served as the rolling lawn of Tara in Gone With the Wind . The hangar dance was shot in a reproduction of an Army aviation hangar that encompassed two sound stages, over 20,000 square feet of floor space and utilized 100 electricians. The church scene was filmed at the Church of the Angels in Pasadena, CA. After its initial editing in Feb 1944, the film ran four and a half hours long. By early Mar 1944, Selznick had trimmed the picture to three hours twenty-eight minutes. According to a 21 Mar 1944 news item, by late Mar Selznick had cut the film to three hours, ten minutes. After its intitial engagement, Selznick trimmed the film by another twenty-five minutes, according to a modern source. By the time the 127-day shoot was completed, the film had amassed a budget of nearly $3,000,000, according to a Jul 1944 news item. A Var 1949 news item adds that when the film was re-released by Eagle Lion in 1949, it was cut another thirty-seven minutes.
According to a memo from Selznick reprinted in a modern source, stage actress Katharine Cornell wanted to play the role of "Anne," but Selznick desired a bigger star. In addition to Cornell, Ann Harding, Irene Dunne, Helen Hayes and Rosalind Russell were also considered for the role, according to HR news items. An Oct 1944 LAT news item adds that Colbert, when approached about playing the part of "Anne," was at first reluctant because she didn't want to play the mother of two adolescent daughters. Shirley Temple returned to the screen after a two-year absence to play the role of "Brig". Although a 17 Sep 1943 production chart places Vicci Style in the cast, Styles' appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. According to a modern source, Selznick offered Ruth Gordon the role of "Emily," but she turned it down. HR news items add the following actors to the cast: George Beban, Jr.; Rudolph Friml, Jr.; Michael Owen; Phyllis Adair; Clyde Fillmore; Charles Halton; Sam McDaniel; Virginia Wicks; Charles King, Jr.; William Bronson; Wing Foo; Minta Durfee Arbuckle; Eva Novak; Matt Moore; Jill Browning; Buddy Yarus; Harlan Briggs; Carlyle Blackwell, Jr. and Grady Thomas. None of these actors could be identified in the viewed print and their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. This picture marked the screen debut of John Derek, Guy Madison and Wilfred Jillson and the last film appearance of Nazimova. Although actor Neil Hamilton was not in the film, he was featured as "Tim" in several still photographs that were displayed throughout the picture. Robert Walker, who was borrowed from M-G-M to appear in this film, had recently separated from his wife, Jennifer Jones, who played his sweetheart in the film. Jones, whose career was guided by Selznick, was married to the producer from the late 1940s until his death in 1965. Since You Went Away was Jones's second feature film, but the first in which she was billed under that name. In her first film, New Frontier (1939, see above), she was billed under her real name, Phylis Isley.
       Since You Went Away was named as the fourth most popular of the year by the National Board of Review. Post-release HR news items note that the lines at the film's New York opening were so long that the police ordered that the theater must open an hour-and-a-half before show time to prevent traffic jams. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Claudette Colbert was nominated for Best Actress, Monty Woolley was nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Jennifer Jones was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. The picture was also nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Special Effects and Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration. Max Steiner won an Academy Award for his scoring of the film. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
29 Jul 1944.
---
Daily Variety
19 Jul 44
p. 3.
Film Daily
19 Jul 44
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
26 May 1943.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 43
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Nov 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 43
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 43
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 1943.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 43
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Nov 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 43
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Nov 43
p. 5, 7, 10
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Dec 43
p. 33.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Dec 43
p. 3, 4
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Dec 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jan 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 44
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 44
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Mar 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 44
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 44
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jul 44
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 44
pp. 5-44, 48
Hollywood Reporter
14 Mar 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Apr 1944.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 Oct 1944.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
20 Nov 43
p. 1635.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
22 Jul 44
p. 2095.
New York Herald Tribune
20 Feb 1944.
---
New York Times
21 Jul 44
p. 16.
Variety
19 Jul 44
p. 13.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Helen Koford
Adeline deWalt Reynolds
Willard Jillson
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Fill-In dir
Dir of crowd seq
Dir of comedy seq
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Based on the adpt of her book
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
Assoc film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Settings
Consultant for the Hilton home
Props
Draperies
COSTUMES
Wardrobe dir
Assoc
MUSIC
Mus dir
Assoc mus dir
SOUND
Re-rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Montage
DANCE
Dance dir
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairstylist
Associate
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod asst
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
Prod artist
Prod artist
Prod artist
Unit mgr
Head script clerk
Research
Casting mgr
Construction superintendent
Chief draftsman
Draftsman
Draftsman
Draftsman
Chief electrician
Chief grip
Tech adv Red Cross scenes
Tech adv Red Cross scenes
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Since You Went Away
Letters to a Soldier from His Wife by Margaret Buell Wilder (New York, 1943).
MUSIC
"The Emperor Waltz," by Johann Strauss II
"Together," by B. G. DeSylva, Lew Brown and Ray Henderson.
SONGS
"Oh, My Darling Clementine," words and music by Percy Montrose
"The Dipsy Doodle," words and music by Larry Clinton.
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 July 1944
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: June 1944
Production Date:
19 September 1943--9 February 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Vanguard Films, Inc.
Copyright Date:
14 September 1944
Copyright Number:
LP12953
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
172
Length(in feet):
15,480
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

On 12 January 1943, Anne Hilton returns home after seeing her husband Tim off to war. Lonely, Anne bitterly questions her husband's decision to leave his family and his lucrative job as an advertising executive in order to serve his country. After comforting her daughters "Brig" and Jane, Anne bids a reluctant farewell to Fidelia, the family's devoted black housekeeper. The loss of Tim's salary has created a financial hardship for the family, and consequently, they can no longer afford to pay Fidelia. When Mr. Mahoney, a sympathetic shopkeeper, extends credit to the Hiltons, Anne pledges Tim's help in finding a job for Johnny, Mahoney's serviceman son, after the war ends. The country is in the grip of a housing shortage, and when Brig, Anne's youngest daugther, insists that it is their patriotic duty to take in a boarder, Anne surrenders her own room. Col. William G. Smollett, a stern retired army officer, answers the Hiltons' ad and rents the room, forcing the family to adjust to his demands. Soon after, Fidelia asks to move back into the house, offering her housekeeping services as rent. Anne warmly welcomes her home, but refuses to accept her offer. Later, at a crowded cocktail lounge, Anne meets her friend, Emily Hawkins, a self-centered divorcee. As the women talk, Anne is surprised by the arrival of Lt. Tony Willett, an old friend of the Hiltons', who worked as an illustrator in civilian life. After escorting Anne out of the bar, Tony asks her for a place to stay, and Anne decides to move in with her daughters to make room for Tony. Jane, a high ... +


On 12 January 1943, Anne Hilton returns home after seeing her husband Tim off to war. Lonely, Anne bitterly questions her husband's decision to leave his family and his lucrative job as an advertising executive in order to serve his country. After comforting her daughters "Brig" and Jane, Anne bids a reluctant farewell to Fidelia, the family's devoted black housekeeper. The loss of Tim's salary has created a financial hardship for the family, and consequently, they can no longer afford to pay Fidelia. When Mr. Mahoney, a sympathetic shopkeeper, extends credit to the Hiltons, Anne pledges Tim's help in finding a job for Johnny, Mahoney's serviceman son, after the war ends. The country is in the grip of a housing shortage, and when Brig, Anne's youngest daugther, insists that it is their patriotic duty to take in a boarder, Anne surrenders her own room. Col. William G. Smollett, a stern retired army officer, answers the Hiltons' ad and rents the room, forcing the family to adjust to his demands. Soon after, Fidelia asks to move back into the house, offering her housekeeping services as rent. Anne warmly welcomes her home, but refuses to accept her offer. Later, at a crowded cocktail lounge, Anne meets her friend, Emily Hawkins, a self-centered divorcee. As the women talk, Anne is surprised by the arrival of Lt. Tony Willett, an old friend of the Hiltons', who worked as an illustrator in civilian life. After escorting Anne out of the bar, Tony asks her for a place to stay, and Anne decides to move in with her daughters to make room for Tony. Jane, a high school senior, soon develops a crush on the suave Tony. One day, Smollett's grandson Bill, an enlisted man, pays a surprise visit to his grandfather, who brusquely dismisses him. Overhearing their exchange, Jane feels compassion for Bill. Emily, meanwhile, contributes to the war effort by organizing a dance to entertain the servicemen, and enlists Jane as one of the hostesses. Nervous and unsure of herself, Jane is asked to dance by Bill. She reluctantly accepts, regarding Bill as only a "boy" next to the dashing Tony. Anne attends with Tony, and there meets Johnny Mahoney, who thanks her for offering to help him find a job. Johnny is leaving for a training flight, and soon after he departs, word comes that his plane has crashed, and for the first time, the tragedy of war is personalized for Anne. As time passes, the irrascible colonel mellows and becomes a member of the family, even accepting the Hiltons' lumbering bull dog Soda. On the day that Tony is to leave, he presents Fidelia with a handsome sketch that he has drawn of her. Jane, who has contracted the mumps, bids Tony a tearful farewell. While bowling one evening, Bill and Jane become friends with a sailor after he bandages Jane's injured finger. After walking the sailor to his bus, Bill invites Jane to the soda fountain, and there Jane questions him about his timidity. In explanation, Bill relates how he bitterly disappointed his grandfather by being expelled from West Point, and then shows her a pocket watch that his grandfather had given him, inscribed with a reference to the Smollett family's proud military history. When Bill concludes that his failure resulted from personal weakness, Jane comes to his defense. The next morning, Jane informs her mother that she wants to find a job after graduation rather than attend college, but Anne refuses. Over breakfast, Jane criticizes the colonel's treatment of Bill, angering the old man. After Jane's graduation ceremony, the family receives word from Tim that he will be stopping between trains at a nearby city. Boarding the next train to the city, the family eagerly anticipates their reunion with Tim. Their train is delayed, however, and by the time they arrive, Tim has already had to leave. On the trip home, the family then meets a woman whose granddaughter was reported missing at the Battle of Corregidor. Touched by the woman's sacrifice, Anne agrees to let Jane work as a nurse's aide that summer. One day soon after, Anne is notified that Tim is missing in action. Devastated by the news, the family prays for his safety, and later, Anne tearfully reviews their scrapbook. [An intermission divides the story at this point.]
       One Sunday after church, Bill tells Jane that he has been ordered to leave at midnight. As Jane and Bill spend their last hours together in the countryside, Anne implores Smollett to see Bill off at the train station that evening. Claiming that he has a previous engagement with representatives from the British army, the colonel promises to try to finish in time and asks Anne to wish Bill good luck. Meanwhile, in the country, Jane and Bill seek shelter from a sudden downpour and there dream of marrying after the war ends. At the train station, Anne conveys to Bill his grandfather's concern, and as the train pulls out, Bill presents his watch to Jane as an engagement gift. Too late, the colonel arrives at the station. Some time later, Anne breaks the news of Bill's death in battle to Jane. Filled with self-recrimination, the colonel blames himself for driving the boy too hard, and Anne tries to comfort him. On the colonel's birthday, Tony returns and is surprised by how quickly Jane has grown up. Emily then pays an unexpected visit and voices disapproval of Jane's hospital work, causing Jane to berate her for her selfishness. When Emily criticizes Jane's behavior, Anne castigates her for her lack of patriotism and, realizing that she also has been remiss in serving her country, decides to work as a welder in a shipyard. In the factory, Anne is moved when she meets an immigrant woman who recalls her thrill at reading the inscription on the Statue of Liberty and likens Anne to the embodiment of that spirit. On Christmas Eve, Jane returns Bill's watch to the colonel, bringing the old man pride and comfort. Somberly, Fidelia places the gifts under the tree that Tim sent before his disappearance. Anne tearfully opens her gift, a music box that plays "We'll Be Together Always." As she begins to sob, the phone rings. Upon answering it, Anne's expression turns to joy, and she hurries to the staircase to announce to her daughters that their father is safe and coming home. +

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

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