Till the Clouds Roll By (1947)

120 mins | Musical | January 1947

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HISTORY

The working title for this film was As the Clouds Roll By . While screen credits indicate that the film was "based on the life and music of Jerome Kern," the HR review noted that the picture took "many and varied liberties" with the telling of Kern's life. Many of the characters in the film, including Oscar Hammerstein, Victor Herbert and Marilyn Miller, were based on well-known figures in the music world. The Var review indicates that while the character of "Jim Hessler" had no real-life counterpart, Hessler may have been based on arranger Frank Sadler. According to a Nov 1946 HR news item, M-G-M negotiated the film rights to Kern's life story with Kern's heirs. Kern, who was born in New York on 27 Jan 1885, died on 10 Nov 1945, while the film was in production. The Nov 1946 HR news item also noted that M-G-M's deal with Kern's heirs was tied to an agreement in which the studio promised to remake the 1935 RKO film Roberta (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.3803). Roberta was remade in 1952 under the title Lovely to Look At , directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson.
       An Apr 1945 HR news item noted that Till the Clouds Roll By was to mark the directorial debut of set designer Lemuel Ayers. Ayers, however, was replaced by Busby Berkeley in late Aug 1945. In Oct 1945, while Vincente Minnelli was directing his wife Judy Garland's sequences, a HR news item reported a ... More Less

The working title for this film was As the Clouds Roll By . While screen credits indicate that the film was "based on the life and music of Jerome Kern," the HR review noted that the picture took "many and varied liberties" with the telling of Kern's life. Many of the characters in the film, including Oscar Hammerstein, Victor Herbert and Marilyn Miller, were based on well-known figures in the music world. The Var review indicates that while the character of "Jim Hessler" had no real-life counterpart, Hessler may have been based on arranger Frank Sadler. According to a Nov 1946 HR news item, M-G-M negotiated the film rights to Kern's life story with Kern's heirs. Kern, who was born in New York on 27 Jan 1885, died on 10 Nov 1945, while the film was in production. The Nov 1946 HR news item also noted that M-G-M's deal with Kern's heirs was tied to an agreement in which the studio promised to remake the 1935 RKO film Roberta (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.3803). Roberta was remade in 1952 under the title Lovely to Look At , directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson.
       An Apr 1945 HR news item noted that Till the Clouds Roll By was to mark the directorial debut of set designer Lemuel Ayers. Ayers, however, was replaced by Busby Berkeley in late Aug 1945. In Oct 1945, while Vincente Minnelli was directing his wife Judy Garland's sequences, a HR news item reported a rumor that he was poised to take over direction of the entire production. An Oct 1945 M-G-M News item noted that Garland's scenes were filmed before the start of "regular production" because the actress was pregnant and was expected to give birth to her child in Mar 1946. Garland's sequences were completed on 8 Nov 1945, and by the time filming resumed in mid-Dec 1945, Berkeley had been replaced by Henry Koster. In addition, photographer Joseph Ruttenberg was replaced by Leonard Smith. Blanche Sewell, who was listed as the film editor in a mid-Dec 1945 HR production chart, was eventually replaced by Albert Akst. The extent of the contribution to the final film of Sewell, Ruttenberg, Berkeley, Koster and Smith has not been determined. Production on the film was halted a second time in Jan 1946, and resumed in mid-Mar 1946, with Richard Whorf as director and Harry Stradling as photographer. According to a HR news item, the decision by M-G-M to use Whorf to complete the film was made in mid-Jan 1946.
       A May 1944 HR news item indicated that Gene Kelly was originally slated to play the part of Kern. Although contemporary sources indicate that actresses Gloria DeHaven and Jacqueline White were set for key roles, and although both their names appeared in HR production charts throughout the time of production, they did not appear in the released film. Neither did Jeanette MacDonald, who was listed in a number of HR production charts, or stage actress Imogene Carpenter, who, according to HR , was set for a "featured spot." Although a Sep 1945 HR news item listed William Ferrari as the picture's supervising art director, his contribution to the released film has not been confirmed. According to a Jul 1946 HR news item, following a sneak preview of the film, which ran three hours in length, M-G-M began an effort to reduce the picture to two hours. A Jan 1947 HR news item noted that proceeds from the Hollywood premiere of the film, which was held on 16 Jan 1947, were to be donated to the Braille Institute.
       Modern sources note that George Sidney directed Frank Sinatra's "Ol' Man River" finale, that Roger Edens contributed to the orchestrations, and that the following individuals contributed to the screenplay: Fred Finklehoffe , John Lee Mahin, Lemuel Ayers and Hans Willheim. Modern sources also note that the screenplay was rewritten following the death of Kern, and that the cast included Sally Forrest and Mary Hatcher as "chorus girls." Kathryn Grayson, who married actor Johnnie Johnston in 1947, and who appeared as "Magnolia Hawks" in the film's Show Boat sequence, later reprised the role in 1951 in M-G-M's complete film adaptation of Show Boat . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 Nov 1946.
---
Daily Variety
12 Nov 46
p. 3, 13
Film Daily
12 Nov 46
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 45
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Aug 45
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 45
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 45
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Oct 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 45
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 45
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 45
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 45
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 45
, 16753
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 45
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 45
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Dec 45
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jan 46
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 46
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 46
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 46
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 46
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jul 46
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 46
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 47
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
27 Apr 46
p. 2963.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
16 Nov 46
p. 3309.
New York Times
6 Dec 46
p. 27.
New York Times
4 Apr 1948.
---
Variety
13 Nov 46
p. 16.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Gloria Joy Arden
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Mus numbers staged and dir by
Judy Garland's numbers dir by
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Cost des by
Men's cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
Vocal arr
SOUND
Rec dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hairstyles created by
Makeup created by
STAND INS
Riding double for Judy Garland
Dance double for Judy Garland
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Assoc
SOURCES
SONGS
"Cotton Blossom," "Make Believe," "Life Upon the Wicked Stage," "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," "Ol' Man River," "Why Was I Born?" "All the Things You Are" and "The Last Time I Saw Paris," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, II
"How'd You Like to Spoon with Me?" music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Edward Laska
"They Didn't Believe Me," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Herbert Reynolds
+
SONGS
"Cotton Blossom," "Make Believe," "Life Upon the Wicked Stage," "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," "Ol' Man River," "Why Was I Born?" "All the Things You Are" and "The Last Time I Saw Paris," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, II
"How'd You Like to Spoon with Me?" music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Edward Laska
"They Didn't Believe Me," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Herbert Reynolds
"Till the Clouds Roll By" and "Leave It to Jane," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse
"Cleopatterer" and "The Land Where the Good Songs Go," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by P. G. Wodehouse
"Look for the Silver Lining," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by B. G. DeSylva
"Sunny" and "Who," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein, II
"One More Dance," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Leonard Joy
"I Won't Dance," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Dorothy Fields, Oscar Hammerstein, II, Otto Harbach and Jimmy McHugh
"She Didn't Say Yes," "Yesterdays" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Otto Harbach
"Long Ago and Far Away," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Ira Gershwin
"A Fine Romance," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Dorothy Fields.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
As the Clouds Roll By
Release Date:
January 1947
Premiere Information:
Hollywood premiere: 16 January 1947
Production Date:
8 October--8 November 1945
mid December 1945--early January 1946
mid March--early May 1946
retakes 23 May 1946
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
4 December 1946
Copyright Number:
LP764
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
120
Length(in reels):
15
Country:
United States
PCA No:
11723
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

On 27 December 1927, following the opening night performance of his Broadway musical Show Boat , world famous composer Jerome Kern visits the neighborhood where he began his career many years earlier. As he sits in his chauffeured limousine, Jerome remembers his early days as a young songwriter and the day he arrived at composer James I. Hessler's home seeking professional advice: While preparing to leave for England to write a symphony, James tells Jerome that he is leaving because he has become disillusioned with the mediocrity of American music. James dismisses Jerome as one of the many song-writing hacks who come to him for advice until he hears one of Jerome's beautifully composed melodies. As James's young daughter Sally and Jerome play the song for him, James realizes that his visitor is destined to become a great song-writing success. The two composers become fast friends, and before James leaves for England, he advises Jerome to "think big" and not waste his time writing frivolous songs. Jerome takes the advice to heart, but becomes increasingly discouraged by his inability to sell his works. After concluding that Broadway is no longer hospitable to American composers, Jerome decides to try his luck in Europe and sets sail for England. Jerome enjoys a happy reunion with James and Sally, who calls Jerome "Uncle Jerry," and the three spend an afternoon at a fair. There Jerome gets an idea to use swings to go along with a song he has written. The idea is immediately incorporated into a musical show produced by George Edwards. Following the show, Charles Frohman, a theatrical producer from New York, asks ... +


On 27 December 1927, following the opening night performance of his Broadway musical Show Boat , world famous composer Jerome Kern visits the neighborhood where he began his career many years earlier. As he sits in his chauffeured limousine, Jerome remembers his early days as a young songwriter and the day he arrived at composer James I. Hessler's home seeking professional advice: While preparing to leave for England to write a symphony, James tells Jerome that he is leaving because he has become disillusioned with the mediocrity of American music. James dismisses Jerome as one of the many song-writing hacks who come to him for advice until he hears one of Jerome's beautifully composed melodies. As James's young daughter Sally and Jerome play the song for him, James realizes that his visitor is destined to become a great song-writing success. The two composers become fast friends, and before James leaves for England, he advises Jerome to "think big" and not waste his time writing frivolous songs. Jerome takes the advice to heart, but becomes increasingly discouraged by his inability to sell his works. After concluding that Broadway is no longer hospitable to American composers, Jerome decides to try his luck in Europe and sets sail for England. Jerome enjoys a happy reunion with James and Sally, who calls Jerome "Uncle Jerry," and the three spend an afternoon at a fair. There Jerome gets an idea to use swings to go along with a song he has written. The idea is immediately incorporated into a musical show produced by George Edwards. Following the show, Charles Frohman, a theatrical producer from New York, asks him to write four songs for his upcoming show in New York. One day, while riding his bicycle through the English countryside, Jerome meets and falls instantly in love with a young woman named Eva. A romance between the two flourishes, but Jerome soon finds himself on a ship bound for America, where rehearsals for Frohman's new show are soon to begin. Jerome's first Broadway show, The Girl from Utah , proves a great success, but while he and James collaborate on a complete score for a new show, Frohman leaves for England to search for new talent. En route to England, Frohman's ship, the Lusitania , sinks and he perishes. After receiving encouragement from composer Victor Herbert, Jerome resumes his work and composes one Broadway hit after another. Jerome eventually returns to England and marries Eva. Time passes, and Sally, now an aspiring actress, is given her first break in Jerome's new musical Sunny . However, when the show's producer assigns the title song to Marilyn Miller, Sally deserts both Jerome and her father. A short time later, James dies of heart disease. Following the death of his mentor, Jerome loses his will to compose new songs, but his disillusionment soon fades when he finds Sally singing in a nightclub in Memphis. There Jerome is hired to compose songs for Victor Herbert's next production, Show Boat . Back in New York, Jerome snaps out of his reverie, and is driven by his chauffeur to a party to celebrate the success of Show Boat . Jerome's fame eventually takes him to Hollywood, where he is surprised, but pleased, to learn that Sally has been chosen to sing a song that he has written for a motion picture. +

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.