The Countess of Monte Cristo (1948)

76-77 mins | Romantic comedy | November 1948

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HISTORY

Walter Reisch, who was credited with the story for this film, was the scenarist for a 1932 German film of the same name. The Countess of Monte Cristo is a remake of the 1934 Universal film of the same name, which was based on the German film and starred Fay Wray and Paul Lukas (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.0827). Although Freddie Trenkler is billed as "Skating specialty" in the onscreen closing credits, he is listed as "Freddie Trenkler in Comedy on Ice " in the opening credits. HR news items reported that The Countess of Monte Cristo was originally scheduled to be produced by Universal-International in Technicolor, beginning in the spring of 1945. Andrew Stone started as the film's director and shot for at least two months, but was replaced on 25 May 1948, with only ten days left in the shooting schedule, by Frederick De Cordova. Although some HR news items give the reason for Stone's departure as a "sudden illness," an 8 Jun 1948 "Rambling Reporter" item in HR indicates that the producers did not think the film was lighthearted enough and so had De Cordova complete principal photography, reshoot some scenes and add others. HR production charts list Tony Gaudio as Stone's photographer. It has not been determined how much of Stone's footage was used in the final film.
       Leith Stevens was announced as musical director in Apr and early Jun 1948, but apparently was replaced by Milton Schwartzwald. The Countess of Monte Cristo marked Sonja Henie's return to the screen after a three-year hiatus. Her ... More Less

Walter Reisch, who was credited with the story for this film, was the scenarist for a 1932 German film of the same name. The Countess of Monte Cristo is a remake of the 1934 Universal film of the same name, which was based on the German film and starred Fay Wray and Paul Lukas (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.0827). Although Freddie Trenkler is billed as "Skating specialty" in the onscreen closing credits, he is listed as "Freddie Trenkler in Comedy on Ice " in the opening credits. HR news items reported that The Countess of Monte Cristo was originally scheduled to be produced by Universal-International in Technicolor, beginning in the spring of 1945. Andrew Stone started as the film's director and shot for at least two months, but was replaced on 25 May 1948, with only ten days left in the shooting schedule, by Frederick De Cordova. Although some HR news items give the reason for Stone's departure as a "sudden illness," an 8 Jun 1948 "Rambling Reporter" item in HR indicates that the producers did not think the film was lighthearted enough and so had De Cordova complete principal photography, reshoot some scenes and add others. HR production charts list Tony Gaudio as Stone's photographer. It has not been determined how much of Stone's footage was used in the final film.
       Leith Stevens was announced as musical director in Apr and early Jun 1948, but apparently was replaced by Milton Schwartzwald. The Countess of Monte Cristo marked Sonja Henie's return to the screen after a three-year hiatus. Her previous picture was It's a Pleasure (See Entry). HR news items also list Benny Baker, Billy Henie, Andre Charlot, Peter Von Zerneck, Walton deCardo, Evelyn Eager and Bobbie Priest as cast members, but their appearance in the film cannot be confirmed. According to other HR reports, ice-skating scenes were shot on location at Los Angeles' Westwood Ice Rink, using snow fashioned from spun glass, a technique that was costlier than traditional cotton flakes, but safer for the skaters. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
6 Nov 1948.
---
Daily Variety
1 Nov 48
p. 3, 6
Film Daily
3 Nov 48
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Dec 44
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 47
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 48
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Apr 48
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 48
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 48
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
11 May 48
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 48
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
26 May 48
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
27 May 48
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jun 48
p. 29.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 48
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 48
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 48
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
6 Nov 48
p. 4373.
Variety
20 Jan 1948.
---
Variety
3 Nov 48
p. 11.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Miss Henie's ward des by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog
DANCE
Dance dir
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Skating numbers staged by
SOURCES
SONGS
"The Friendly Polka," "Count Your Blessings" and "Who Believes in Santa Claus," words by Jack Brooks, music by Saul Chaplin.
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1948
Premiere Information:
Los Angles premiere: 10 November 1948
Production Date:
12 April--late June 1948
Copyright Claimant:
Westwood Corp. and Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Copyright Date:
6 December 1948
Copyright Number:
LP1978
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
76-77
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13350
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At closing time in an Oslo bar, National Studios assistant director Jensen tells waitresses Karen Kirsten and Jenny Johnsen that he will procure screen tests for them. The next day, the two try out for roles as the Countess of Monte Cristo and her maid, but when the director, Mr. Hansen, insults them, they drive off the lot in the studio's fancy car, still wearing their costumes. Karen heads for the luxurious Hotel Trollheimen, and there the women use their stolen trappings to pretend they actually are the countess and her maid. Outside, they mistake Lieutenant Paul Von Cram for a bellboy, and as he is captivated by Karen's beauty, he carries their bags to their suite, cancels his date with socialite Peg Manning and sends a note to Karen asking her to meet a lieutenant in the bar. After fashioning a gown from the suite's window drapes, Karen meets him and realizes her earlier mistake. Meanwhile, Jenny sees that the police have publicized them as thieves, and buys all of the hotel's papers in an attempt to hide the article about them. The next morning, the police enter their suite, and to the women's surprise, instead of arresting them, they announce that a notorious thief robbed the guests during the night. After the hotel manager asks them to list everything they have lost so he can replace it, Karen and Jenny discuss a short list of clothing, but are interrupted by the thief, Count Holgar, who has been hiding in their room. Having seen their photos in the paper, he blackmails them into asking the manager for a large amount of money and plans to pull the same ... +


At closing time in an Oslo bar, National Studios assistant director Jensen tells waitresses Karen Kirsten and Jenny Johnsen that he will procure screen tests for them. The next day, the two try out for roles as the Countess of Monte Cristo and her maid, but when the director, Mr. Hansen, insults them, they drive off the lot in the studio's fancy car, still wearing their costumes. Karen heads for the luxurious Hotel Trollheimen, and there the women use their stolen trappings to pretend they actually are the countess and her maid. Outside, they mistake Lieutenant Paul Von Cram for a bellboy, and as he is captivated by Karen's beauty, he carries their bags to their suite, cancels his date with socialite Peg Manning and sends a note to Karen asking her to meet a lieutenant in the bar. After fashioning a gown from the suite's window drapes, Karen meets him and realizes her earlier mistake. Meanwhile, Jenny sees that the police have publicized them as thieves, and buys all of the hotel's papers in an attempt to hide the article about them. The next morning, the police enter their suite, and to the women's surprise, instead of arresting them, they announce that a notorious thief robbed the guests during the night. After the hotel manager asks them to list everything they have lost so he can replace it, Karen and Jenny discuss a short list of clothing, but are interrupted by the thief, Count Holgar, who has been hiding in their room. Having seen their photos in the paper, he blackmails them into asking the manager for a large amount of money and plans to pull the same scam with them across the country. The women are horrified but see no alternative. After receiving their new clothes the next day, they go skating and bump into Paul and Peg. Paul quickly excuses himself from Peg and whisks Karen onto the ice, where they win the tryouts for the next day's big ice show. Later, they kiss and Paul gives Karen a brooch, which he claims has only sentimental value. When Holgar sees the brooch, however, he identifies it as belonging to the Von Havenmeier jewels and assumes Paul has stolen it. Holgar reminds Karen and Jenny that they must leave with him after the ice show, while the police tell the hotel manager that they have identified Holgar, Karen and Jenny as the thieves. After the manager informs the women that they will not be arrested until after the highly publicized ice show, they decide to escape with Holgar as planned, and Karen tells Paul to meet them as well. That night as Karen performs at the ice show, Hansen and Jensen, who are scouting talent, peg her as their next big star. During intermission Karen meets Holgar and Paul, who scares Holgar away by threatening to beat him up. Paul then divulges to Karen that he is not a thief, but the true heir to the Von Havenmeier fortune. When the police arrive, Paul tells them the whole incident has been a publicity stunt for Karen and Jenny's latest film and that he will pay all the bills. Paul admits to Karen that he was aware of her scam from the start but loves her anyway, after which they finish the ice show 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.