Incendiary Blonde (1945)

113 mins | Musical | 31 August 1945

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Smoothest Gal in Town , The Life of Texas Guinan and Texas Guinan . The film opens with the following written foreword: "This picture was inspired by the life of one of the immortals of show business, Texas Guinan, queen of the night clubs. She hit Broadway like a skyrocket, dazzled it briefly with a million-dollar personality, and then died, as she had often foretold, at the height of her career." According to a NYT article, Guinan's family contributed the family archive of news clippings to Paramount for background research. Publicity materials in copyright records indicate that Betty Hutton's mother, Mabel Adams, was given a bit part in the picture, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. HR news items reported the following information about the production: Producer Carl Laemmle, Jr. purchased the screen rights to Texas Guinan's life in 1939, and was considering writer Gene Fowler for the script. No information has been found on the sale of Guinan's life story to Paramount, however. Robert Sisk was originally listed as producer of the Paramount production, but left the studio in 1942. Alan Ladd was first cast as "Kilgannon," but was inducted into the Army. Paramount then sought Warner Bros. actor Humphrey Bogart for the lead, and following that, cast Brian Donlevy. Donlevy was placed on suspension for refusing the role, however. Charles Quigley was also tested for the lead. New York dancers Johnny Coy, Frederick Nay and John Deauville were cast for special dance routines, but their appearance in the final film ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Smoothest Gal in Town , The Life of Texas Guinan and Texas Guinan . The film opens with the following written foreword: "This picture was inspired by the life of one of the immortals of show business, Texas Guinan, queen of the night clubs. She hit Broadway like a skyrocket, dazzled it briefly with a million-dollar personality, and then died, as she had often foretold, at the height of her career." According to a NYT article, Guinan's family contributed the family archive of news clippings to Paramount for background research. Publicity materials in copyright records indicate that Betty Hutton's mother, Mabel Adams, was given a bit part in the picture, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. HR news items reported the following information about the production: Producer Carl Laemmle, Jr. purchased the screen rights to Texas Guinan's life in 1939, and was considering writer Gene Fowler for the script. No information has been found on the sale of Guinan's life story to Paramount, however. Robert Sisk was originally listed as producer of the Paramount production, but left the studio in 1942. Alan Ladd was first cast as "Kilgannon," but was inducted into the Army. Paramount then sought Warner Bros. actor Humphrey Bogart for the lead, and following that, cast Brian Donlevy. Donlevy was placed on suspension for refusing the role, however. Charles Quigley was also tested for the lead. New York dancers Johnny Coy, Frederick Nay and John Deauville were cast for special dance routines, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. This film marks jazz pianist Maurice Rocco's feature film debut. Some scenes were shot on location in Tucson, AZ.
       Texas Guinan (1884--1933), born Mary Louise Cecilia Guinan, in Waco, TX, started out in wild west shows and worked her way to Broadway. She became renowned during the Prohibition era as a hostess of New York speakeasies who used the phrase, "Hello, suckers!" Guinan also appeared in the following two films: Warner Bros.' 1929 film Queen of the Nightclubs , directed by Bryan Foy, in which Guinan was the star, and Twentieth Century Picture Corp.'s 1933 film Broadway Thru a Keyhole , directed by Lowell Sherman and starring Constance Cummings and Paul Kelly. (For further information on the films, see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.4394 and AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.00506.) According to modern sources, Southern critics and audiences protested the casting of Mexican actor Arturo de Cordova, because William Kilgannon was actually Irish, not Mexican-Irish, as portrayed in the film. Incendiary Blonde was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture). More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
9 Jun 1945.
---
Daily Variety
11 Jun 45
p. 3.
Film Daily
12 Jun 45
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jan 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 43
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 43
p. 4, 11
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Oct 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 43
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jul 45
p. 6, 26
Los Angeles Times
8 Oct 1942.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
16 Jun 45
p. 2497.
New York Times
11 Feb 1945.
---
New York Times
26 Jul 45
p. 13.
Variety
17 Jun 1942.
---
Variety
13 Jun 45
p. 17.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Charles Ruggles
Charles C. Wilson
George H. Lloyd
Chuck Hamilton
Hector V. Sarno
Ed Peil Sr.
Lou Davis
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Vocal arr
Mus assoc
VISUAL EFFECTS
Process photog asst
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff asst
DANCE
Dances staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Western coach for Betty Hutton
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
SONGS
"Ragtime Cowboy Joe," music by Lewis F. Muir and Maurice Abrahams, lyrics by Grant Clarke
"What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For," music and lyrics by Joseph McCarthy, Howard Johnson and James V. Monaco
"It Had to Be You," music by Isham Jones, lyrics by Gus Kahn
+
SONGS
"Ragtime Cowboy Joe," music by Lewis F. Muir and Maurice Abrahams, lyrics by Grant Clarke
"What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For," music and lyrics by Joseph McCarthy, Howard Johnson and James V. Monaco
"It Had to Be You," music by Isham Jones, lyrics by Gus Kahn
"Oh By Jingo!" music by Albert Von Tilzer, lyrics by Lew Brown
"Row, Row, Row," music by James V. Monaco, lyrics by William Jerome
"The Darktown Strutters' Ball," music and lyrics by Shelton Brooks
"Ida," music and lyrics by Eddie Leonard.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Texas Guinan
The Life of Texas Guinan
The Smoothest Gal in Town
Release Date:
31 August 1945
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 25 July 1945
Production Date:
1 November 1943--late January 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 June 1945
Copyright Number:
LP13459
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
113
Length(in feet):
10,170
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
9804
SYNOPSIS

At the New York parade in memory of the death of legendary performer Texas Guinan, Texas's father Mike, and former husband Tim Callahan, recall when Texas first ran away from her family in 1909 to join a Wild West Show: On 12 Sep 1909, while Mike is preoccupied with buying Texas potato futures in the hope of cornering the market, his tomboy daughter Texas attends Cherokee Jim's Wild West Show with her mother and siblings. Texas sneaks away and, pretending that she is a male ranch hand, enters a bucking bronco contest. When she realizes the saddle was loosened, Texas demands a second try and wins the contest. She is then offered a job in the show by Romero Kilgannon, whom she calls "Bill," who recently won proprietorship of the rodeo in a card game. After the potato crops are ruined due to an early frost, Mike stands to lose the family home, so Texas joins the rodeo and sends her income home. Texas soon becomes the highlight of the Wild West Show, and after she surprises and delights an audience by saving an infant from sure death under a wagon, Bill headlines Texas and doubles her salary. When journalist Tim Callahan discovers that Texas' rescue was phony, as the "infant" was actually an adult midget, he convinces Bill to hire him as the show's press agent by threatening to leak their secret to the public. Although Tim falls in love with Texas, she is in love with Bill, who, unknown to her, is bound to an institutionalized wife. Texas leaves the show when she learns that Bill is married and marries Tim, who instigates her ... +


At the New York parade in memory of the death of legendary performer Texas Guinan, Texas's father Mike, and former husband Tim Callahan, recall when Texas first ran away from her family in 1909 to join a Wild West Show: On 12 Sep 1909, while Mike is preoccupied with buying Texas potato futures in the hope of cornering the market, his tomboy daughter Texas attends Cherokee Jim's Wild West Show with her mother and siblings. Texas sneaks away and, pretending that she is a male ranch hand, enters a bucking bronco contest. When she realizes the saddle was loosened, Texas demands a second try and wins the contest. She is then offered a job in the show by Romero Kilgannon, whom she calls "Bill," who recently won proprietorship of the rodeo in a card game. After the potato crops are ruined due to an early frost, Mike stands to lose the family home, so Texas joins the rodeo and sends her income home. Texas soon becomes the highlight of the Wild West Show, and after she surprises and delights an audience by saving an infant from sure death under a wagon, Bill headlines Texas and doubles her salary. When journalist Tim Callahan discovers that Texas' rescue was phony, as the "infant" was actually an adult midget, he convinces Bill to hire him as the show's press agent by threatening to leak their secret to the public. Although Tim falls in love with Texas, she is in love with Bill, who, unknown to her, is bound to an institutionalized wife. Texas leaves the show when she learns that Bill is married and marries Tim, who instigates her Broadway career. Although Texas starts out as a chorus girl, she is soon made a featured performer with the Ballinger stage show. Tim is frustrated with his own stagnating career, and leaves Texas when he realizes her heart still belongs to Bill. Some time later, Texas' family moves in with her, and Cherokee Jim visits Texas in New York and tells her the truth about Bill's wife. Texas breaks her contract with Ballinger in order to join Bill in Hollywood, where he is making Western motion pictures. Texas invests in Bill's studio, and plans to wait for him until he is free. After Bill's wife dies, his romance with Texas meets with another obstacle, as her father's phony stock is being investigated by a district attorney. In order to protect Texas from fraud charges, Bill buys her and Mike's shares in the company, and she assumes that his affection for her is purely mercenary. Heartbroken, Texas returns to New York, unaware that Bill has narrowly escaped arrest on her behalf. By chance, Bill meets his old friend Joe Cadden, a liquor racketeer, who hires him to be his front man. As Ballinger has blacklisted Texas for breaking her contract, she is unable to find work, but Tim inspires her to bring Nick the Greek's failing nightclub back to life by throwing a farewell party for gossip columnist Louella Parsons and charging patrons. At first, the patrons resist paying for their pleasure, but are so delighted by Texas' performance that the evening becomes a hit, and the newspapers dub Texas the "incendiary blonde." Later, Cadden and his thugs beat up Nick until he agrees to sell the nightclub, and Texas switches her contract to Cadden after he buckles to her demand of an exorbitant salary and renames the club "Texas Guinan's." However, Texas refuses to have anything to do with Bill. One night, Cadden rousts rival gangsters, Gus and Charley Vettori, from the club, and they vow retribution. One day during rehearsals, the Vettori brothers make good on their promise and try to kill Texas at the nightclub, but Bill saves her life. Mike finally tells Texas how Bill saved them from arrest, and she and Bill reunite. Cadden is murdered by the Vettori brothers, but Bill and Texas refuse to allow them to take over the nightclub. Not long after, Texas learns that a heart condition will take her life in a couple of years, thereby confirming her lifelong belief that she would die young. Unaware of Texas' condition, Bill plans their wedding on New Year's Eve, but the Vettori brothers hold the Guinans hostage and he is forced to kill the gangsters in self-defense. Although Bill is wounded during the gunfight, he recovers and is arrested for murder. Bill refuses to marry Texas until he is released from prison. Realizing that she will die before marrying, Texas reflects on her full life. +

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.