The Guilt of Janet Ames (1947)

80 or 82-83 mins | Drama | April 1947

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HISTORY

The working title for this film was My Empty Heart . The picture was actor Melvyn Douglas' first film following three years in the Army, and marked the feature film debut of actors Harry Von Zell (1906--1981) and Betsy Blair (1923--2009). A May 1946 HR news item noted that producer Virginia Van Upp's husband, Ralph Nelson, also a producer, was set to work on the film, but his contribution to the released film has not been confirmed. Various news items in HR indicate that production on the film was interrupted many times throughout the summer and fall of 1946, and that Van Upp and Charles Vidor, the film's original director, were embroiled in a bitter dispute about the script. [In Apr 1946, Vidor, while working on the film Gilda (see above), sued Columbia for termination of his contract. The suit was part of a long-standing dispute with studio executives and personnel that spanned many years.] Production on the film was suspended for approximately two weeks in mid-Aug 1946, after, according to a HR news item, Van Upp collapsed on the set. Van Upp was removed from the picture, and a HR news item suggested that her troubles stemmed from player commitments that forced her to begin filming the picture before the script was completed. Helen Deutsch took over Van Upp's production chores and, during the two-week production shutdown, supervised a series of script revisions and additions.
       An 18 Sep 1946 HR news item, noted that Vidor then became involved in a major dispute with Deutsch, whose supervision he was reportedly refusing. On 24 Sep 1946, ... More Less

The working title for this film was My Empty Heart . The picture was actor Melvyn Douglas' first film following three years in the Army, and marked the feature film debut of actors Harry Von Zell (1906--1981) and Betsy Blair (1923--2009). A May 1946 HR news item noted that producer Virginia Van Upp's husband, Ralph Nelson, also a producer, was set to work on the film, but his contribution to the released film has not been confirmed. Various news items in HR indicate that production on the film was interrupted many times throughout the summer and fall of 1946, and that Van Upp and Charles Vidor, the film's original director, were embroiled in a bitter dispute about the script. [In Apr 1946, Vidor, while working on the film Gilda (see above), sued Columbia for termination of his contract. The suit was part of a long-standing dispute with studio executives and personnel that spanned many years.] Production on the film was suspended for approximately two weeks in mid-Aug 1946, after, according to a HR news item, Van Upp collapsed on the set. Van Upp was removed from the picture, and a HR news item suggested that her troubles stemmed from player commitments that forced her to begin filming the picture before the script was completed. Helen Deutsch took over Van Upp's production chores and, during the two-week production shutdown, supervised a series of script revisions and additions.
       An 18 Sep 1946 HR news item, noted that Vidor then became involved in a major dispute with Deutsch, whose supervision he was reportedly refusing. On 24 Sep 1946, HR printed a statement issued by Columbia production chief Harry Cohn, in which Cohn stated "emphatically and clearly that Miss Helen Deutsch is the producer of the picture and that Mr. Charles Vidor is not." The statement also reveals that Deutsch had asked to be relieved of her duties, and that Cohn insisted that she remain on the film. Vidor's suit against Columbia went to trial in Dec 1946, at which time, according to HR , Vidor testified that Cohn made derogatory remarks to him and vilified his wife, Doris Warner. According to a Sep 1947 HR news item, Vidor lost his suit against Columbia, and Columbia then sued Vidor. For more information on Vidor's troubles with Columbia, see Gilda (above) and The Man from Colorado (below).
       In Peter Ibbetson , the 1891 George Du Maurier novel mentioned in the film, the hero communicates with his childhood sweetheart in a dream and changes his perspective on life as a result of the experience. For more information on the Du Maurier novel and its adaptation to film, see the entry for the 1935 Paramount picture Peter Ibbetson in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.3431. In the final dream sequence of The Guilt of Janet Ames, Sid Caeser performs a comedy sketch satirizing psychological screen drama. Some filming took place in the Mojave Desert, CA. This film marked the screen debut of actor Denver Pyle. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
8 Mar 1947.
---
Daily Variety
16 Sep 1946.
---
Daily Variety
5 Mar 1947.
---
Film Daily
6 Mar 47
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 46
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 46
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 46
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 46
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Aug 46
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 46
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 46
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Sep 46
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 46
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 46
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 46
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 46
p. 1, 3
Hollywood Reporter
25 Oct 46
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 46
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 47
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 47
p. 2.
Independent Film Journal
12 Oct 46
p. 40.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
8 Mar 1947.
---
New York Times
23 May 47
p. 31.
Variety
5 Mar 47
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus dir
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles by
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr girl
SOURCES
SONGS
"Can You Imagine," music and lyrics by Allan Roberts and Doris Fisher.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
My Empty Heart
Release Date:
April 1947
Production Date:
12 July--13 August 1946
5 September--19 October 1946
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
20 February 1947
Copyright Number:
LP937
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
80 or 82-83
Country:
United States
PCA No:
11960
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Janet Ames, a distraught war widow, wanders through city streets in a daze, carrying her husband's Congressional Medal of Honor and searching for five men who were in her husband's regiment. While crossing a busy street, Janet is struck by an automobile and taken to a hospital, where her case is listed as a possible attempted suicide. As Janet lies unconscious in the hospital, the police try to determine her identity by questioning the men listed on a piece of paper found in her possession. The first to be questioned is an unemployed and disillusioned reporter, Smithfield "Smitty" Cobb. Smitty introduces himself to the recovering Janet as a friend of her husband David but does not reveal that he is one of the men she is seeking. Instead, Smitty listens as Janet explains that she wants to meet the five men whose lives David saved on a battlefield when he threw himself on a live grenade. She tells him that she wants to meet them to confirm her suspicions that her husband died in vain, sacrificing his life for five worthless men. Offended by her objective, Smitty responds angrily and tells her that she is full of self-pity. He then recalls the lesson of George du Maurier's novel Peter Ibbetson and decides to change Janet's perception of her husband's sacrifice by hypnotizing her and taking her on an imaginary journey into the lives of each of the men on her list: The first destination on Janet's journey is a visit with Joe Burton and his girl friend Katie, who show her their plans to build a house. Their ... +


Janet Ames, a distraught war widow, wanders through city streets in a daze, carrying her husband's Congressional Medal of Honor and searching for five men who were in her husband's regiment. While crossing a busy street, Janet is struck by an automobile and taken to a hospital, where her case is listed as a possible attempted suicide. As Janet lies unconscious in the hospital, the police try to determine her identity by questioning the men listed on a piece of paper found in her possession. The first to be questioned is an unemployed and disillusioned reporter, Smithfield "Smitty" Cobb. Smitty introduces himself to the recovering Janet as a friend of her husband David but does not reveal that he is one of the men she is seeking. Instead, Smitty listens as Janet explains that she wants to meet the five men whose lives David saved on a battlefield when he threw himself on a live grenade. She tells him that she wants to meet them to confirm her suspicions that her husband died in vain, sacrificing his life for five worthless men. Offended by her objective, Smitty responds angrily and tells her that she is full of self-pity. He then recalls the lesson of George du Maurier's novel Peter Ibbetson and decides to change Janet's perception of her husband's sacrifice by hypnotizing her and taking her on an imaginary journey into the lives of each of the men on her list: The first destination on Janet's journey is a visit with Joe Burton and his girl friend Katie, who show her their plans to build a house. Their plans are constructed from a deck of playing cards, which Janet blows down to illustrate the foolishness of their aspirations. When Smitty brings Janet out of her hypnotic state, he analyzes her journey and asks her if David had plans to build a house before he died. Smitty next takes Janet on a journey to the desert, where Edgar Pierson works as a scientist and lives in a shack with his wife Susie. Janet observes a scene in which Susie's father drives by in a chauffeured car and criticizes her husband's lifestyle and his lack of interest in the corporate world. Janet responds to her observation of the scene by saying that David would never have made such sacrifices. Janet's next journey is to Frank Merino's walled garden in Glendale, California, where Janet talks with his young daughter Emmy about her dolls and child rearing. Janet quickly becomes defensive, insisting that David was too sensible to have children. Smitty then takes Janet to the fourth man on the list, comedian Sammy Weaver, who, while performing at a nightclub, thanks Janet for saving his life. By the end of her last journey, Janet confesses to Smitty that she knew his true identity all along. She then kisses Smitty and thanks him for showing her that she alone is to blame for the fact that David did not realize his dreams of building a house, having a child and getting a better job. As soon as Janet realizes this, she finds the key to her paralysis and suddenly regains the use of her legs. She then helps Smitty regain his self-respect by coaxing him to confess that he gave David the command to dive onto the grenade. Janet forgives David and, having fallen in love with Smitty, suggests they conjure up hypnotic images of their happy future together. +

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.