Mother Is a Freshman (1949)

81 mins | Comedy-drama | March 1949

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HISTORY

According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, at producer Walter Morosco's instigation, the studio purchased the unpublished, uncopyrighted story "Mother Is a Freshman" from Raphael David Blau in Feb 1948 for $8,500. Mary Loos and Richard Sale were the only writers on the project although studio head Darryl F. Zanuck made many contributions to the outlines and screenplay drafts as was his custom with all of the studio's "A" productions. According to a Feb 1948 memo to Morosco, Zanuck was considering Celeste Holm and June Haver for the mother-daughter roles and Robert Young for the professor. By Jul 1948, John Lund was being considered for the role of "Richard." Loretta Young returned to the studio after an eight-year absence to play "Abby," and Van Johnson, on his first loan-out from M-G-M, was cast as "Richard." Production began with location shooting at the University of Nevada in Reno, where the studio had previously shot portions of Margie and Apartment for Peggy . The film contains a reference to actor Rudy Vallee's other career as a singer when "Richard" reminds "John" of the night at the Yale Junior Prom when he "climbed upon the bandstand and sang 'Boola, Boola' through a megaphone. Boy, were you lousy!" The role of "Prof. Romaine," played by Henri Letondal, was cut before the film's opening, according to studio records. Although the CBCS lists Ruth Tobey in the cast, her participation in the released film is doubtful. Mother Is a Freshman received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design ... More Less

According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, at producer Walter Morosco's instigation, the studio purchased the unpublished, uncopyrighted story "Mother Is a Freshman" from Raphael David Blau in Feb 1948 for $8,500. Mary Loos and Richard Sale were the only writers on the project although studio head Darryl F. Zanuck made many contributions to the outlines and screenplay drafts as was his custom with all of the studio's "A" productions. According to a Feb 1948 memo to Morosco, Zanuck was considering Celeste Holm and June Haver for the mother-daughter roles and Robert Young for the professor. By Jul 1948, John Lund was being considered for the role of "Richard." Loretta Young returned to the studio after an eight-year absence to play "Abby," and Van Johnson, on his first loan-out from M-G-M, was cast as "Richard." Production began with location shooting at the University of Nevada in Reno, where the studio had previously shot portions of Margie and Apartment for Peggy . The film contains a reference to actor Rudy Vallee's other career as a singer when "Richard" reminds "John" of the night at the Yale Junior Prom when he "climbed upon the bandstand and sang 'Boola, Boola' through a megaphone. Boy, were you lousy!" The role of "Prof. Romaine," played by Henri Letondal, was cut before the film's opening, according to studio records. Although the CBCS lists Ruth Tobey in the cast, her participation in the released film is doubtful. Mother Is a Freshman received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design (Color). The film was released in Great Britain as Mother Knows Best . A radio adaptation starring Loretta Young was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on 17 Oct 1949. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 Mar 1949.
---
Daily Variety
25 Feb 49
p. 3.
Film Daily
28 Feb 49
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 48
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 48
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 49
p. 3, 8
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 49
p. 6.
New York Times
12 Mar 49
p. 10.
Variety
2 Mar 49
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Scr
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
MUSIC
Orch arr
Orch arr
Orch arr
Voc arr
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Assoc
SOURCES
MUSIC
"What Can I Say After I Say I'm Sorry," music by Walter Donaldson and Abe Lyman
"Underneath the Arches," music by Bud Flanagan
"It Had to Be You," music by Isham Jones
+
MUSIC
"What Can I Say After I Say I'm Sorry," music by Walter Donaldson and Abe Lyman
"Underneath the Arches," music by Bud Flanagan
"It Had to Be You," music by Isham Jones
"What Did I Do?" music by Josef Myrow
"One O'Clock Jump," music by Count Basie.
+
SONGS
"M-o-t-h-e-r (A Word That Means the World to Me)," music by Theodore Morse, lyrics by Howard Johnson
"It Must Be True," music by Harry Barris, lyrics by Gus Arnheim and Gordon Clifford
"Dream," music and lyrics by Johnny Mercer
+
SONGS
"M-o-t-h-e-r (A Word That Means the World to Me)," music by Theodore Morse, lyrics by Howard Johnson
"It Must Be True," music by Harry Barris, lyrics by Gus Arnheim and Gordon Clifford
"Dream," music and lyrics by Johnny Mercer
"The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi," music by F. Dudleigh Vernor, lyrics by Byron D. Stokes.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
March 1949
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 11 March 1949
Production Date:
16 August--2 October 1948
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
8 March 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2259
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
81
Length(in feet):
7,281
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13396
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In New York, Abby Abbott and her seventeen-year-old daughter Susan live on a trust fund established by Abby's late husband. The money is allocated every three years by the family attorney, John Heaslip, who advises Abby that she is currently overdrawn and that the next payment will not occur until the following year. Abby, who has rejected Heaslip's proposal of marriage, is concerned that Susan will not be able to continue her studies at Pointer College, and investigates a scholarship fund, set up there by her grandmother, which awards $3,000 annually to any female of high morals with the name of Abigail Fortitude. Like her grandmother, Abby's maiden name is Abigail Fortitude, so she decides to enroll at Pointer as the scholarship would see them through until the next trust fund payment. Abby is also anxious to check on Susan, who is enamoured of a young English professor, Richard Michaels, who has secretly been writing pulp murder mysteries under a pen name. Abby decides that she will not reveal that she is Susan's mother, but after she manages to pass the entrance exam, she has an interview with Dean Gillingham, who has noted that she and Susan share the same home address. After the dean agrees to keep her secret, Abby enrolls in takes Richard's English course. Richard shows considerable interest in the mature, sophisticated woman in his class, and later, suggests that Abby could benefit from additional tutoring and arranges to see her one evening at his house. What Abby initially fears might be a compromising situation turns out to be a pleasant evening when Dean and Mrs. Gillingham arrive as fellow dinner guests. During the evening, however, ... +


In New York, Abby Abbott and her seventeen-year-old daughter Susan live on a trust fund established by Abby's late husband. The money is allocated every three years by the family attorney, John Heaslip, who advises Abby that she is currently overdrawn and that the next payment will not occur until the following year. Abby, who has rejected Heaslip's proposal of marriage, is concerned that Susan will not be able to continue her studies at Pointer College, and investigates a scholarship fund, set up there by her grandmother, which awards $3,000 annually to any female of high morals with the name of Abigail Fortitude. Like her grandmother, Abby's maiden name is Abigail Fortitude, so she decides to enroll at Pointer as the scholarship would see them through until the next trust fund payment. Abby is also anxious to check on Susan, who is enamoured of a young English professor, Richard Michaels, who has secretly been writing pulp murder mysteries under a pen name. Abby decides that she will not reveal that she is Susan's mother, but after she manages to pass the entrance exam, she has an interview with Dean Gillingham, who has noted that she and Susan share the same home address. After the dean agrees to keep her secret, Abby enrolls in takes Richard's English course. Richard shows considerable interest in the mature, sophisticated woman in his class, and later, suggests that Abby could benefit from additional tutoring and arranges to see her one evening at his house. What Abby initially fears might be a compromising situation turns out to be a pleasant evening when Dean and Mrs. Gillingham arrive as fellow dinner guests. During the evening, however, the dean slips up and calls Abby, "Mrs. Abbott." Both men are surprised when Abby remarks that one of her classmates is reading an "awfully lurid thing" called The Gravedigger and the Chambermaid , which Susan had earlier purchased. When Richard escorts Abby back to her dorm, he asks her if she is married and she explains her situation and that she is Susan's mother. He invites her to the Sophomore Cotillion and they kiss goodnight. Susan, meanwhile, thinks her mother is checking Richard out as a potential son-in-law. Later, matters become complicated when Susan tells her mother that she is really in love with Richard as, by then, Abby is too. When Richard fails to invite her to the cotillion, Susan agrees to go with student body president Beaumont Jackson and, unaware that Richard has invited Abby, asks John Heaslip to escort her. Abby does not want to hurt Susan and tries to get out of going with Richard but he insists. On their way into the dance, Beau surprises Susan by telling her that he is in love with her. At the dorm, meanwhile, Richard and John both show up to escort Abby and reveal that they know each other from student days at Yale. At the dance, John surprises Abby with the news that he has sold some of her stocks and that she is now financially stable and need not continue in college. Susan is upset about her mother being with Richard, but when Abby decides to give him up, he tries to convince Susan that she should encourage her mother in her love for him. Later, as Abby says goodbye to Richard, Susan runs up and begs her to stay at the college and with Richard. After Susan returns to Beau, Richard confesses that he is the author of The Gravedigger and the Chambermaid and Abby confesses that she has read it--twice. +

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

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