A Life of Her Own (1950)

108 or 110 mins | Romance | 1 September 1950

Director:

George Cukor

Writer:

Isobel Lennart

Producer:

Voldemar Vetluguin

Cinematographer:

George Folsey

Editor:

George White

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Arthur Lonergan

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Abiding Vision . Pre-production news items in DV indicate that M-G-M first assigned Vincente Minnelli to direct the film, and that numerous script revisions and casting difficulties delayed the start of production by several months. The film marked Lana Turner's return to the screen after a two-year absence from motion pictures. According to Sep 1949 news items in DV , Turner, who initially refused to star in the film and did not show up for her first wardrobe fittings, was forced to accept the assignment by studio heads Louis B. Mayer and Dore Schary.
       Contemporary news items in DV relate the following information concerning the production: Howard Keel, Cary Grant, George Murphy, James Craig, James Mason and Robert Ryan were, at various times, considered for the male lead opposite Turner. M-G-M then borrowed Wendell Corey from Hal Wallis Productions for the role, and he worked on the production through mid-Feb 1950, when M-G-M replaced him with Ray Milland. DV reported that Corey had asked to be relieved from his assignment because he felt that he "wasn't right for the role." Milland was borrowed from Paramount and was paid a reported $50,000 for his work.
       The film marked the motion picture debuts of Margaret Phillips, a stage actress, and Sally Cooper, the daughter of British actress Dame Gladys Cooper, whose next film, Joan of Arc , opened the day after this one. Mar 1950 DV news items list Tommy Gardner and Pat Dane in the cast but their appearance in the final film has not been ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Abiding Vision . Pre-production news items in DV indicate that M-G-M first assigned Vincente Minnelli to direct the film, and that numerous script revisions and casting difficulties delayed the start of production by several months. The film marked Lana Turner's return to the screen after a two-year absence from motion pictures. According to Sep 1949 news items in DV , Turner, who initially refused to star in the film and did not show up for her first wardrobe fittings, was forced to accept the assignment by studio heads Louis B. Mayer and Dore Schary.
       Contemporary news items in DV relate the following information concerning the production: Howard Keel, Cary Grant, George Murphy, James Craig, James Mason and Robert Ryan were, at various times, considered for the male lead opposite Turner. M-G-M then borrowed Wendell Corey from Hal Wallis Productions for the role, and he worked on the production through mid-Feb 1950, when M-G-M replaced him with Ray Milland. DV reported that Corey had asked to be relieved from his assignment because he felt that he "wasn't right for the role." Milland was borrowed from Paramount and was paid a reported $50,000 for his work.
       The film marked the motion picture debuts of Margaret Phillips, a stage actress, and Sally Cooper, the daughter of British actress Dame Gladys Cooper, whose next film, Joan of Arc , opened the day after this one. Mar 1950 DV news items list Tommy Gardner and Pat Dane in the cast but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Tom Seidel, who played Jean Hagen's husband in the film, was also her husband in real life. Liz Hanson, who acted as technical advisor on the fashion modeling sequences, was the Western fashion editor for Vogue magazine. Some filming of exteriors took place in Calabasas, CA.
       Information contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, reveals that an incomplete script of the film reviewed by the Breen Office in Dec 1949 was labeled "the most thoroughly unacceptable story" the agency had received in many months. The Breen Office termed the story "shocking and highly offensive" and condemned its portrayal of "adultery and commercialized prostitution." A revised version of the script submitted to the agency in late Jan 1950 elicted a similar response as well as a harsh criticism of the story's "insufficient compensating moral values." To bring the story into agreement with the Production Code, the Breen Office insisted that M-G-M "show that the adulterous situation is wrong and that sinners must be punished for their sin." In Feb 1950, the Breen Office suggested the deletion of scenes involving any physical contact between "Lily Brannel James" and "Steve Harleigh," and the inclusion of a scene in which "Jim Leversoe" "dresses these people down for their sin."
       In mid-Mar 1950, with production of the film nearly completed, M-G-M was ordered by the Breen Office to rewrite the last portion of the picture and remove the "air of triumph" suggested by Lily and Steve's tender farewell. Modern sources note that the original filmed ending had "Lily" committing suicide by leaping from her New York City hotel room. That ending was discarded in favor of a happier ending, in which she considers suicide but decides not to jump.
       Modern sources also note that writers Samson Raphaelson and Donald Ogden Stewart worked on the screenplay at various times during development, and that Corey was dismissed by the studio at the request of Turner and director George Cukor following a feud between Turner and Corey that stemmed from an insulting remark that Corey was said to have made to Turner on the set. A biography of Cukor notes that the running time of the film was trimmed from 150 to 108 minutes, and that Cukor disliked the completed picture and disapproved of the studio's decision to change the ending. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Aug 1950.
---
Daily Variety
12-Aug-49
---
Daily Variety
12 Sep 49
p. 1.
Daily Variety
21 Sep 49
p. 1.
Daily Variety
9 Nov 49
p. 9.
Daily Variety
7 Dec 49
p. 1.
Daily Variety
16 Dec 49
p. 4.
Daily Variety
18 Jan 50
p. 4.
Daily Variety
19 Jan 50
p. 4.
Daily Variety
25 Jan 50
p. 4.
Daily Variety
27 Jan 50
p. 11.
Daily Variety
30 Jan 50
p. 1
Daily Variety
3 Feb 50
p. 11.
Daily Variety
20 Feb 50
p. 11.
Daily Variety
23 Feb 50
p. 1.
Daily Variety
7 Mar 50
p. 4.
Daily Variety
10 Mar 50
p. 10.
Daily Variety
14 Mar 50
p. 10.
Daily Variety
24 Mar 50
p. 58.
Daily Variety
17 Apr 50
p. 4.
Daily Variety
21 Jun 50
p. 1.
Daily Variety
11 Aug 50
p. 3.
Film Daily
15 Aug 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 49
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 49
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 50
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 50
p 16.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Mar 50
p. 2, 16
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 50
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
12 Aug 50
pp. 433-34.
New York Times
12 Oct 50
p. 43.
Variety
16 Aug 50
p. 11.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
David Bond
James Cross
Beverly Campbell
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Lana Turner's gowns
MUSIC
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Mont seq
MAKEUP
Hair styles des by
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Inspired by the short story "Abiding Vision" by Rebecca West in her book Harsh Voice: Four Short Novels (New York, 1935).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Abiding Vision
Release Date:
1 September 1950
Production Date:
26 January--late March 1950
retakes mid April 1950
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
10 August 1950
Copyright Number:
LP271
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
108 or 110
Length(in feet):
9,748
Country:
United States
PCA No:
14537
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Lily Brannel James, an aspiring model, sets out from her small hometown in Kansas to New York City to apply to the Thomas Caraway Model Agency. After she is hired by Tom Caraway, Lily is befriended by a former top Caraway model, Mary Ashlon, who advises her on the rules of the business. That evening, Mary arranges a double date for her and Lily with advertising executive Lee Gorrance and lawyer Jim Leversoe. At the club, Mary drinks excessively to cover her despair over the disintegration of her career and Lee's inattention. When Lily takes her home, Mary gratefully gives her a good-luck porcelain slipper. Later that same night, Mary kills herself. The following day, Lee visits a stunned Lily, but shows no regret over Mary's death and coldly tells Lily not think too much about her. Lily goes on to become successful at Caraway's and maintains a friendship with Jim, who one day introduces her to his friend, Steve Harleigh, a Montana copper-mine owner on a business trip to New York. Although Steve is married, he grows lonely during his long stay in New York and asks Lily to accompany him on several innocuous outings. When Steve prepares to return to Montana, both he and Lily realize they have fallen in love, but know nothing can come of it and part. Later, when Steve has Jim give Lily a bracelet, she misinterprets the gesture and believes that Steve is trying to pay her off for their time together. Lily's career continues to flourish, but she finds it less satisfying than she had hoped. Some time later, Steve ... +


Lily Brannel James, an aspiring model, sets out from her small hometown in Kansas to New York City to apply to the Thomas Caraway Model Agency. After she is hired by Tom Caraway, Lily is befriended by a former top Caraway model, Mary Ashlon, who advises her on the rules of the business. That evening, Mary arranges a double date for her and Lily with advertising executive Lee Gorrance and lawyer Jim Leversoe. At the club, Mary drinks excessively to cover her despair over the disintegration of her career and Lee's inattention. When Lily takes her home, Mary gratefully gives her a good-luck porcelain slipper. Later that same night, Mary kills herself. The following day, Lee visits a stunned Lily, but shows no regret over Mary's death and coldly tells Lily not think too much about her. Lily goes on to become successful at Caraway's and maintains a friendship with Jim, who one day introduces her to his friend, Steve Harleigh, a Montana copper-mine owner on a business trip to New York. Although Steve is married, he grows lonely during his long stay in New York and asks Lily to accompany him on several innocuous outings. When Steve prepares to return to Montana, both he and Lily realize they have fallen in love, but know nothing can come of it and part. Later, when Steve has Jim give Lily a bracelet, she misinterprets the gesture and believes that Steve is trying to pay her off for their time together. Lily's career continues to flourish, but she finds it less satisfying than she had hoped. Some time later, Steve returns to New York and against Jim's advice tries to contact Lily, who refuses to see him until she accidentally runs into him at one of their former haunts. When Steve tells Lily he will be working almost full-time in New York, they decide they should make an attempt to find personal happiness and Lily rents a larger apartment where they can spend time with each other. After a pleasant interlude, Steve unhappily reveals that his wife Nora is coming to visit him for his birthday. Lily presses him to tell Nora he no longer loves her, but Steve confesses that Nora is an invalid and unable to walk due to a car accident for which he is responsible. Angry, Lily accuses Steve of being ashamed of his relationship with her and he admits he can not summon the courage to leave Nora. The night of Steve's birthday, Lily continues with her plans to throw him an elaborate party, while Steve stays with Nora who shows him the progress she is making relearning to walk. At Lily's, Tom and another friend, Maggie try unsuccessfully to stop Lily's wreckless partying. Only when Steve arrives and grows angry at Lily's behaviour does she break down and admit her fear of losing him. When Steve insists he does not know what to do about his marriage, Lily decides to force the issue and asks Jim to introduce her to Nora. Despite Jim's warnings, Lily meets Nora, but is so moved by the sincerity of Nora's affection for Steve and her real dependency upon him, that she cannot break up their marriage. Although distracted and unhappy after giving up Steve, Lily continues to work and remains resolute about her decision. One day she runs into Lee who, angered over her rebuff at his advances, tells her she ruined herself and will end up like Mary. Depressed by the accuracy of Lee's observations, Lily darkly considers ending her life, but resolves to be strong and, breaking Mary's good-luck porcelein slipper, goes on alone. +

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.