Three Husbands (1950)

77-79 mins | Drama, Fantasy | 17 November 1950

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HISTORY

According to SAB, producer I. G. Goldsmith and Gertrude Purcell collaborated with Vera Caspary on the first draft of the film's treatment. A handwritten note on the SAB states that according to associate producer Anthony Z. Landi, Goldsmith did not want credit for the original story, and that Caspary (who was married to Goldsmith) should receive sole story credit. Purcell's contribution to the final film has not been determined. Caspary also wrote the screenplay for the 1949 Twentieth Century-Fox film A Letter to Three Wives (See Entry), whose basic story premise is similar to Three Husbands . A 21 Dec 1949 HR news item reported that Goldsmith registered the story idea with the Screen Writers Guild on 1 Mar 1949 under the title Letter to Three Husbands , after discussing any possible conflict with Twentieth Century-Fox. When Twentieth Century-Fox registered the title A Letter to Three Husbands the next day, however, Goldsmith changed his title to Three Husbands .
       According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the Breen Office objected to the characters' casual attitude toward adultery, and to the idea that "Arthur" would be happily reunited with his wife after having engaged in an affair with "Mathilda." Goldsmith agreed to make it clear that no adulterous relationship existed between these characters, and to clean up the character "Max" by removing dialogue that conveyed his "loose sexual nature." A HR news item and the IFJ review state that this was Welsh actor Emlyn Williams' first American film; although Williams ... More Less

According to SAB, producer I. G. Goldsmith and Gertrude Purcell collaborated with Vera Caspary on the first draft of the film's treatment. A handwritten note on the SAB states that according to associate producer Anthony Z. Landi, Goldsmith did not want credit for the original story, and that Caspary (who was married to Goldsmith) should receive sole story credit. Purcell's contribution to the final film has not been determined. Caspary also wrote the screenplay for the 1949 Twentieth Century-Fox film A Letter to Three Wives (See Entry), whose basic story premise is similar to Three Husbands . A 21 Dec 1949 HR news item reported that Goldsmith registered the story idea with the Screen Writers Guild on 1 Mar 1949 under the title Letter to Three Husbands , after discussing any possible conflict with Twentieth Century-Fox. When Twentieth Century-Fox registered the title A Letter to Three Husbands the next day, however, Goldsmith changed his title to Three Husbands .
       According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the Breen Office objected to the characters' casual attitude toward adultery, and to the idea that "Arthur" would be happily reunited with his wife after having engaged in an affair with "Mathilda." Goldsmith agreed to make it clear that no adulterous relationship existed between these characters, and to clean up the character "Max" by removing dialogue that conveyed his "loose sexual nature." A HR news item and the IFJ review state that this was Welsh actor Emlyn Williams' first American film; although Williams had previously appeared in several American productions shot in England, Three Husbands was his first film made in the U.S. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
11 Nov 1950.
---
Daily Variety
6 Nov 1950.
---
Film Daily
2 Nov 50
p. 6.
Harrison's Reports
4 Nov 50
p. 175.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 49
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 50
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Mar 50
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 50
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Mar 50
pp. 4-5.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Apr 50
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Nov 50
p. 3.
Independent Film Journal
4 Nov 1950.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
11 Nov 50
p. 562.
New York Times
9 Mar 51
p. 30.
Variety
8 Nov 50
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward supv
Fashions
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
SOURCES
SONGS
"Poor Chap," music by Herschel Burke Gilbert, lyrics by Edward Eliscu.
DETAILS
Release Date:
17 November 1950
Premiere Information:
San Francisco opening: 10 November 1950
Production Date:
mid February--17 March 1950 at Motion Pictures Center Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Gloria Film Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
3 November 1950
Copyright Number:
LP492
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Lenses/Prints
Garutso Balanced Lens
Duration(in mins):
77-79
Length(in feet):
6,968
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
14525
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After dying of a heart attack, Englishman Maxwell Bard floats up to Heaven, where he is greeted by an angel whose job it is to grant wishes to the deceased. Max asks for the opportunity to spy on his friends, who have gathered at a law office in San Francisco: Arthur and Jane Evans, Kenneth Whittaker and Dan McCabe are told by Max's lawyer Wurdeman that Max requested that the reading of his will be delayed. Wurdeman then gives Arthur, Ken and Dan identical letters in which Max confesses to having had affairs with their wives. While Arthur and Ken are shocked and angered, Dan laughs at Max's posthumous practical joke. Later, at a bar, Ken shows the letter to the bartender, who suggests that he go home and take his aggression out on his wife. At home, Arthur, meanwhile, recalls a gathering that took place at his house: When the phone rings, Max answers it and speaks for some time to the caller, only later admitting that it was Jane. The next morning, Jane tells Arthur that she will be attending the symphony with Max, but they instead go to see a risqué French film. When Max notices Arthur sitting in the theater with his mistress, advertising artist Mathilda Clegg, he blocks Jane's view of them in order to spare her feelings. Back at the bar, Ken also searches his memory for signs of his wife Mary's involvement with Max: After Max becomes ill, Mary spends long hours nursing him back to health. When Ken wants to take her out to celebrate their second wedding anniversary, Mary says she would ... +


After dying of a heart attack, Englishman Maxwell Bard floats up to Heaven, where he is greeted by an angel whose job it is to grant wishes to the deceased. Max asks for the opportunity to spy on his friends, who have gathered at a law office in San Francisco: Arthur and Jane Evans, Kenneth Whittaker and Dan McCabe are told by Max's lawyer Wurdeman that Max requested that the reading of his will be delayed. Wurdeman then gives Arthur, Ken and Dan identical letters in which Max confesses to having had affairs with their wives. While Arthur and Ken are shocked and angered, Dan laughs at Max's posthumous practical joke. Later, at a bar, Ken shows the letter to the bartender, who suggests that he go home and take his aggression out on his wife. At home, Arthur, meanwhile, recalls a gathering that took place at his house: When the phone rings, Max answers it and speaks for some time to the caller, only later admitting that it was Jane. The next morning, Jane tells Arthur that she will be attending the symphony with Max, but they instead go to see a risqué French film. When Max notices Arthur sitting in the theater with his mistress, advertising artist Mathilda Clegg, he blocks Jane's view of them in order to spare her feelings. Back at the bar, Ken also searches his memory for signs of his wife Mary's involvement with Max: After Max becomes ill, Mary spends long hours nursing him back to health. When Ken wants to take her out to celebrate their second wedding anniversary, Mary says she would rather stay home. Later, however, she receives a phone call from an unidentified caller and leaves abruptly. Ken's mother, who also lives in the house, then reveals her suspicion that Mary has gone to meet Max. Ken rushes to Max's house, creeps around the side and enters illegally, after which he is arrested by two policemen. Back at the bar, Ken tells the bartender that he has decided to follow his advice and confront his wife. Meanwhile, Dan returns home to his wife Lucille, but unlike Arthur and Ken, he is not the least bit upset by Max's letter. Later, however, Dan begins to reflect: Shortly after Lucille meets Max at a racetrack, she attends the meeting of a committee of which he is the chairman. Suddenly, Dan's attitude toward Max's letter changes, and he begins accusing Lucille of infidelity. Later, the three couples, Ken's mother and Mathilda are all summoned back to the law office. Finally, Wurdeman reads Max's will, which grants Mathilda two years' worth of tuition at an exclusive school in Paris, provided that she live there. Ken's mother, Jenny Bard Whittaker, who is also Max's cousin, receives their grandfather's house and property in Columbus, Ohio, also with the stipulation that she live there. Then, through Wurdeman, Max reveals that he wrote the deceptive letters so that his friends would appreciate their wives anew. Back in Heaven, the sound of Max's laughter echoes through the clouds. +

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.