The Woman on Pier 13 (1950)

72-73 mins | Drama | 3 June 1950

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were I Married a Communist and Beautiful But Dangerous . In Oct 1949, the picture had "test runs" in Los Angeles and San Francisco under the title I Married a Communist . In Feb 1948, HR announced that Eagle-Lion had purchased an original screen story entitled "I Married a Communist" and had assigned the picture to producer Aubrey Schenck. In Sep 1948, however, RKO head Howard Hughes announced in LAT that he was making the film. According to a Jun 1949 NYT article, Art Cohn, James Edward Grant and credited writer Charles Grayson wrote the original drafts of the script, while Robert Hardy Andrews did the "final polish job." The exact nature of Cohn's and Grant's contribution to the final film has not been determined. The NYT article also noted that for the rewrites, Andrews was instructed to remove any "soapboxing" from the story and delete all references to Russia, including Slavic-sounding names. The studio was also concerned about not sending an anti-labor message and consequently created the "Jim Travers" character, who is a sympathetic union leader, but a Communist detractor as well. A Sep 1948 LAT article notes that George W. George, who is credited with the film's story, was a "well-known writer" working under a pseudonym. The writer's real name has not been discovered.
       Contemporary news items add the following information about the film's production: At the time of Hughes's purchase of the story, Barbara Bel Geddes and Robert Young were announced as the stars, and John Cromwell, the director. ... More Less

The working titles of this film were I Married a Communist and Beautiful But Dangerous . In Oct 1949, the picture had "test runs" in Los Angeles and San Francisco under the title I Married a Communist . In Feb 1948, HR announced that Eagle-Lion had purchased an original screen story entitled "I Married a Communist" and had assigned the picture to producer Aubrey Schenck. In Sep 1948, however, RKO head Howard Hughes announced in LAT that he was making the film. According to a Jun 1949 NYT article, Art Cohn, James Edward Grant and credited writer Charles Grayson wrote the original drafts of the script, while Robert Hardy Andrews did the "final polish job." The exact nature of Cohn's and Grant's contribution to the final film has not been determined. The NYT article also noted that for the rewrites, Andrews was instructed to remove any "soapboxing" from the story and delete all references to Russia, including Slavic-sounding names. The studio was also concerned about not sending an anti-labor message and consequently created the "Jim Travers" character, who is a sympathetic union leader, but a Communist detractor as well. A Sep 1948 LAT article notes that George W. George, who is credited with the film's story, was a "well-known writer" working under a pseudonym. The writer's real name has not been discovered.
       Contemporary news items add the following information about the film's production: At the time of Hughes's purchase of the story, Barbara Bel Geddes and Robert Young were announced as the stars, and John Cromwell, the director. Merle Oberon was then slated to star, and Cromwell was taken off as director. In late Nov 1948, Jane Greer was announced as a possible replacement for Oberon, but because of scheduling conflicts with The Big Steal (see above entry), Hughes eventually pulled Greer from the part. Nicholas Ray was then assigned to direct, and Glenn Ford and Paul Lukas were announced as the film's male leads. In Jan 1949, production was delayed after Ford and Lukas both dropped out and were replaced by Robert Ryan and Thomas Gomez. RKO borrowed John Agar from David O. Selznick's company and Janis Carter from Columbia for the production.
       Background shots were taken in San Francisco, CA. Following the test runs in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Hughes pulled the film from distribution because, despite its ad campaign, which tried to make clear that it wasn't a documentary, audiences were still perceiving it as such. To combat the misperception, Hughes temporarily renamed the film Beautiful But Dangerous , a title he purchased from Leon Gutterman. Many reviewers criticized the picture for depicting American Communists like Depression-era gangsters. The NYT review also commented that if "Louis Budenz and Whittaker Chambers, among others, could renounce the party, why can't a movie hero do the same for once without having to shoot it out and be killed himself in the end?" According to modern sources, the film lost $650,000 at the box office. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
24 Sep 1949.
---
Daily Variety
19 Sep 49
p. 3.
Film Daily
26 Sep 49
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 1948.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Nov 48
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 48
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Nov 48
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Dec 48
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 49
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Feb 49
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 49
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 49
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 49
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jun 49
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 49
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 49
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Oct 49
p. 1.
Los Angeles Daily News
7 Oct 1949.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
3 Sep 1948.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Jul 1950.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Sep 49
p. 28.
New York Times
8 Jun 1949.
---
New York Times
16 Jun 50
p. 28.
Variety
21 Sep 49
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Stills
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MAKEUP
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Beautiful But Dangerous
I Married a Communist
Release Date:
3 June 1950
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 7 October 1949
San Francisco opening: 12 October 1949
Production Date:
25 April--late May 1949
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
28 September 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2633
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
72-73
Length(in feet):
6,535
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13811
SYNOPSIS

While on their honeymoon, Nan and Bradley Collins, who have known each other for only a week, run into Brad's former girl friend, fashion photographer Christine Norman. Still in love with Brad, Christine bristles with jealousy upon meeting Nan, and later confers with her Communist party cohort, J. T. Arnold, about Nan's background. Christine learns that Brad, the vice-president of San Francisco's Cornwall Shipping Company, has obtained a stevedore job for Nan's younger brother, Don Lowry. Cornwall Shipping is in the midst of a labor dispute, and president J. Francis Cornwall assigns the much-respected Brad, a former dock worker, to act as an intermediary between management and the union. Brad's new authority is endorsed by Jim Travers, the head of the union and Nan's recent ex-boyfriend. Before Brad can act on his assignment, however, he is visited by Vanning, a secretive Communist leader, who reminds Brad about his past as a Communist agitator named Frank Johnson. Annoyed, Brad goes to see Christine and declares that he has long since "graduated" from both her and the "party." Vanning counters Brad's defiance by ordering him to the party's dockside headquarters and threatening to expose him unless he donates two-fifths of his salary to the party. Vanning also forces Brad to witness the brutal drowning of Ralston, a party member suspected of being an FBI informant. Despite Vanning's vicious tactics, Brad announces that he is going to tell Nan and Cornwall the truth about his past. Producing a photostat copy of a party document written by Brad years before, in which Brad assumed responsibility for a killing that occurred during a walkout he orchestrated, Vanning effectively ... +


While on their honeymoon, Nan and Bradley Collins, who have known each other for only a week, run into Brad's former girl friend, fashion photographer Christine Norman. Still in love with Brad, Christine bristles with jealousy upon meeting Nan, and later confers with her Communist party cohort, J. T. Arnold, about Nan's background. Christine learns that Brad, the vice-president of San Francisco's Cornwall Shipping Company, has obtained a stevedore job for Nan's younger brother, Don Lowry. Cornwall Shipping is in the midst of a labor dispute, and president J. Francis Cornwall assigns the much-respected Brad, a former dock worker, to act as an intermediary between management and the union. Brad's new authority is endorsed by Jim Travers, the head of the union and Nan's recent ex-boyfriend. Before Brad can act on his assignment, however, he is visited by Vanning, a secretive Communist leader, who reminds Brad about his past as a Communist agitator named Frank Johnson. Annoyed, Brad goes to see Christine and declares that he has long since "graduated" from both her and the "party." Vanning counters Brad's defiance by ordering him to the party's dockside headquarters and threatening to expose him unless he donates two-fifths of his salary to the party. Vanning also forces Brad to witness the brutal drowning of Ralston, a party member suspected of being an FBI informant. Despite Vanning's vicious tactics, Brad announces that he is going to tell Nan and Cornwall the truth about his past. Producing a photostat copy of a party document written by Brad years before, in which Brad assumed responsibility for a killing that occurred during a walkout he orchestrated, Vanning effectively ends Brad's resistance. Faced with the prospect of a murder conviction, Brad agrees to help Vanning shut down the waterfront for sixty days by sabotaging the labor talks. The rebuffed Christine, meanwhile, pursues Don, much to Nan's dismay, and subtly draws him into her Communist circle. During the doomed labor meetings, Don loudly repeats the "party line," agitating his fellow workers, while Brad counsels management to reject all of labor's compromises. Finally, the negotiations are canceled, and the waterfront is shut down. Concerned about Christine's growing attachment to Don, the coldhearted Vanning demands that she break all ties with him. As Christine is about to leave for an assignment in Seattle, however, Don proposes marriage, and a conflicted Christine pledges her love. Sensing that Brad is in trouble, Nan, meanwhile, presses him to confide in her, but he denies any trouble. When Nan hears that Don has proposed to Christine, however, she confesses to Jim her apprehensions about the photographer, and Jim reveals that Christine is a Communist. Jim then accuses Don of being Christine's "stooge," and although he denies the charge, Don later asks Christine if Jim's allegations are true. While insisting that she truly loves him, Christine admits her Communist involvement to Don, but also implicates Brad in the conspiracy. Vanning overhears Christine and Don's conversation and, worried that Don will expose Brad, arranges for Don to be murdered by hired killers Bailey and Grip Wilson. Just after Christine telephones Nan to warn her about Don, Don is run down outside Nan and Brad's apartment. Although Brad tries to convince Nan that the death was accidental, Nan is suspicious and goes to see Christine. The grief-stricken Christine reveals that Don was indeed murdered, but also shows Nan a copy of Brad's party membership. With information provided by Christine, Nan finds the womanizing Bailey at the shooting gallery he operates and, while posing as an unhappily married rich woman, cajoles Bailey into revealing he is a hired killer. Vanning, meanwhile, forces Christine to write a suicide note and pushes her out of her apartment window, just as Brad arrives looking for Nan. Brad tries to retrace his wife's steps, but is waylaid by Grip, who has been notified by Vanning of Nan's activities. Eventually, however, Brad tracks Nan to the party warehouse, where she is about to be killed by Vanning. Brad bursts in on Vanning, brandishing a gun, but Vanning pulls out his own gun and tries to outdraw Brad. In the ensuing confusion, Brad and Nan escape and hide themselves in the warehouse. While exchanging gunshots with Vanning and his men, Brad apologizes to Nan for his past. Vanning finds Nan and is about to shoot her when Brad charges him. Brad manages to throw a grappling hook into Vanning, causing him to fall to his death, but is shot several times in the process. As a forgiving Nan holds him in her arms, Brad whispers that he met her too late and then dies. +

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

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