Specter of the Rose (1946)

90 mins | Drama | 5 July 1946

Director:

Ben Hecht

Writer:

Ben Hecht

Producer:

Ben Hecht

Cinematographer:

Lee Garmes

Editor:

Harry Keller

Production Designer:

Ernst Fegté

Production Company:

Republic Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

Ben Hecht's onscreen credit reads "Written, Directed and Produced by Ben Hecht," and Lee Garmes's onscreen credit is "Co-Producer--Director Lee Garmes, A.S.C., And Director of Photography." At the film's end, a written, onscreen epilogue states, "Here's to the Seven Arts that dance and sing and keep our troubled planet green with Spring." According to the HCN review, Hecht wrote his short story "in 1936 after being greatly impressed by the ballet of the same name." The one-act ballet that inspired Hecht's story and the film, Le Spectre de la Rose, was choreographed by Michel Fokine, with music by Carl Maria von Weber and book by Jean-Louis Vaudoyer. The ballet was based on a poem by Théophile Gautier, and was first performed by Vaslav Nijinsky and Tamara Karsavina, of Diaghilev's Ballets Russe, in Monte Carlo on 19 Apr 1911. The role, which was choreographed to display Nijinksy's renowned elevation, especially during the final leap from a window, became one of his most famous.
       According to a 20 Jul 1945 HR news item, Hecht signed an "exclusive writer-producer contract" with Republic, which called for two pictures per year for three years, and would provide "for the assembling of a unit under Hecht's control." Although Hecht did not make any further pictures for Republic, many contemporary sources note that the production was entirely under his control, and that in exchange for that control and a percentage of the profits, Hecht did not draw any salary for his services. While some sources state that Hecht was to receive only a small percentage of the film's profits, an 18 Nov 1945 ...

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Ben Hecht's onscreen credit reads "Written, Directed and Produced by Ben Hecht," and Lee Garmes's onscreen credit is "Co-Producer--Director Lee Garmes, A.S.C., And Director of Photography." At the film's end, a written, onscreen epilogue states, "Here's to the Seven Arts that dance and sing and keep our troubled planet green with Spring." According to the HCN review, Hecht wrote his short story "in 1936 after being greatly impressed by the ballet of the same name." The one-act ballet that inspired Hecht's story and the film, Le Spectre de la Rose, was choreographed by Michel Fokine, with music by Carl Maria von Weber and book by Jean-Louis Vaudoyer. The ballet was based on a poem by Théophile Gautier, and was first performed by Vaslav Nijinsky and Tamara Karsavina, of Diaghilev's Ballets Russe, in Monte Carlo on 19 Apr 1911. The role, which was choreographed to display Nijinksy's renowned elevation, especially during the final leap from a window, became one of his most famous.
       According to a 20 Jul 1945 HR news item, Hecht signed an "exclusive writer-producer contract" with Republic, which called for two pictures per year for three years, and would provide "for the assembling of a unit under Hecht's control." Although Hecht did not make any further pictures for Republic, many contemporary sources note that the production was entirely under his control, and that in exchange for that control and a percentage of the profits, Hecht did not draw any salary for his services. While some sources state that Hecht was to receive only a small percentage of the film's profits, an 18 Nov 1945 NYT article reported that his contract called for him to receive 50% of the picture's ultimate profits. According to a Sep 1946 AmCin article, "the salaries of several of the top technicians were to be paid on a percentage basis from the receipts of the film," which was budgeted at approximately $200,000. The article noted that in order to stick to the budget and three-week shooting schedule, Hecht and Garmes extensively planned and rehearsed every aspect of the production. According to AmCin, the succesful execution of the directors' plans was aided by the fact that Hecht, "who is admittedly short on knowledge of camera technicalities," left all of the technical decisions to Garmes while he concentrated on the script and actors.
       The film marked the motion picture debuts of dancers Ivan Kirov and Viola Essen. According to a Mar 1946 HR news item, music score composer George Antheil wrote an orchestral arrangement of his music for the picture, which was to be conducted by Leopold Stokowski at the Hollywood Bowl in the summer. Although a 1963 DV news item indicated that songwriter Leonard Adelson had purchased the rights to Hecht's story and intended to produce a stage musical based on the property, no additional information about his production has been found.

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Sep 1946
pp. 312-14, 339
Box Office
25 May 1946
---
Daily Variety
17 May 1946
p. 3
Daily Variety
28 Aug 1963
---
Film Daily
20 May 1946
p. 10
Hollywood Citizen-News
19 Jun 1946
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jul 1945
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 1945
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 1945
p. 7
Hollywood Reporter
7 Nov 1945
p. 14
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 1945
p. 15
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 1945
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 1945
p. 16
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 1945
p. 12
Hollywood Reporter
8 Mar 1946
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 1946
p. 3, 12
Hollywood Reporter
4 Sep 1946
p. 6
Life
10 Jun 1946
pp. 84-88
Los Angeles Examiner
15 Jun 1946
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Jun 1946
---
Motion Picture Daily
17 May 1946
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
22 Dec 1945
p. 2776
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 May 1946
p. 3006
New York Times
18 Nov 1945
---
New York Times
2 Sep 1946
p. 12
PM (Journal)
4 Aug 1947
---
Variety
22 May 1946
p. 10
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Co-dir
Asst dir
Dial dir
Al Wood
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
WRITER
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d cam
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus dir
SOUND
Ferrol Redd
Sd
Thomas A. Carman
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
John Stransky Jr.
Mus mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Matte paintings
Howard C. Lydecker
Spec optical eff
Theodore J. Lydecker
Spec optical eff
Gordon Schaefer
Transparency projection shots
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "Specter of the Rose" by Ben Hecht in Liberty (22 Nov 1941).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
MUSIC
"Invitation to the Dance" by Carl Maria von Weber.
SONGS
"She's Only Partly Human," composer undetermined.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
5 July 1946
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 14 Jun 1946
Production Date:
6 Nov--early Dec 1945
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Republic Pictures Corp.
4 June 1946
LP355
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
11410
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Theatrical producer Max "Poli" Polikoff visits ballet instructor Madame La Sylph to discuss his desire to stage a new show starring Andre Sanine, a brilliant dancer who was once La Sylph's student. La Sylph is wary of Poli's plan, as Sanine has not danced since his wife Nina's death onstage seven months earlier. Police detective Specs McFarlan suspects that the mentally unstable Sanine murdered Nina, although over the months, La Sylph has tried to downplay Sanine's own proclamations that he killed his wife. The coroner had ruled that Nina died from a heart attack caused by years of heart disease, and the devoted nursing of young ballerina Haidi has helped to restore Sanine's health so that he is able to refute McFarlan's accusations. Sanine admits that he used to hallucinate upon hearing the music for Le Spectre de la Rose , the ballet that he and Nina were dancing the night of her death, but insists that he is now cured. Poet Lionel Gans, who is in love with Haidi, resents her attentions to Sanine and encourages the police to continue investigating him. Meanwhile, Sanine is enthusiastic about Poli's plan to stage a new production of Le Spectre de la Rose and begins rehearsals with Haidi. The dancers rapidly fall in love and are soon married, much to the dismay of both La Sylph and Gans. As the rehearsals continue, Sanine begins to show signs of stress, and La Sylph worries that he is again experiencing hallucinations, during which he imagines that the Rose character has taken him over and that he must kill his partner. One afternoon, La Sylph ...

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Theatrical producer Max "Poli" Polikoff visits ballet instructor Madame La Sylph to discuss his desire to stage a new show starring Andre Sanine, a brilliant dancer who was once La Sylph's student. La Sylph is wary of Poli's plan, as Sanine has not danced since his wife Nina's death onstage seven months earlier. Police detective Specs McFarlan suspects that the mentally unstable Sanine murdered Nina, although over the months, La Sylph has tried to downplay Sanine's own proclamations that he killed his wife. The coroner had ruled that Nina died from a heart attack caused by years of heart disease, and the devoted nursing of young ballerina Haidi has helped to restore Sanine's health so that he is able to refute McFarlan's accusations. Sanine admits that he used to hallucinate upon hearing the music for Le Spectre de la Rose , the ballet that he and Nina were dancing the night of her death, but insists that he is now cured. Poet Lionel Gans, who is in love with Haidi, resents her attentions to Sanine and encourages the police to continue investigating him. Meanwhile, Sanine is enthusiastic about Poli's plan to stage a new production of Le Spectre de la Rose and begins rehearsals with Haidi. The dancers rapidly fall in love and are soon married, much to the dismay of both La Sylph and Gans. As the rehearsals continue, Sanine begins to show signs of stress, and La Sylph worries that he is again experiencing hallucinations, during which he imagines that the Rose character has taken him over and that he must kill his partner. One afternoon, La Sylph confides in Haidi that the night of Nina's death, she caught Sanine attacking Nina. La Sylph covered Nina's wounds with grease paint and washed away the blood, but Nina died from the after-effects of the attack while she was dancing. Haidi refuses to believe that Sanine could hurt her, however, and opening night soon arrives. Sanine attacks Haidi with a knife before the curtain rises, but she covers her minor wounds and the couple are a success in their debut. The show goes on tour and appears to be doing well until one evening, Poli and La Sylph become concerned when Sanine and Haidi do not arrive at the theater. Upon questioning Jibby the pianist, they learn that Haidi spirited Sanine away to a hotel when he appeared to have gone completely insane. At the hotel, Haidi spends three days and nights staying awake nursing her husband in the belief that if she can cure him herself, he will not be institutionalized or arrested. Exhausted, Haidi finally falls asleep, and the "Specter of the Rose" taunts Sanine into taking up his knife and beginning his frantic dance. Believing that Haidi is Nina, whom he hated, Sanine dances with his knife held at her throat, but memories of Haidi's words of love prompt him to lay down the weapon. Knowing that he will murder Haidi if he does not kill himself first, Sanine leaps out the window to his death. A month later, Haidi still mourns her lost love but dances her part of Le Spectre de la Rose in La Sylph's studio, as La Sylph instructs her new students.

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

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