Blossoms in the Dust (1941)

98 mins | Drama | 25 July 1941

Director:

Mervyn LeRoy

Writer:

Anita Loos

Producer:

Irving Asher

Cinematographers:

W. Howard Greene, Karl Freund

Editor:

George Boemler

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The opening credits contain the following written dedication: "This is the story of a great woman, and of the great work she is doing for humanity. Her name is Edna Gladney, and she lives in Fort Worth, Texas...." Gladney, who at the time of the film's production was fifty-five, founded the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society of Fort Worth, Texas, and was instrumental in the passage into law of a bill that removed the word "illegitimate" from the birth certificates of children born out-of-wedlock. According to M-G-M publicity materials contained in the AMPAS Library file on the film, Gladney had spent over thirty years of her life placing orphans into good homes, and had placed more than 2,000 children.
       According to news items in HR , Joy West, Charles Ray and Jerry Storm were cast in the film. Ray was not seen in the viewed print and the appearance of West and Storm is unconfirmed. M-G-M publicity also notes that a new six-way microfilm developed by Electrical Research Products, Inc. was used for the first time in the film. The materials also indicate that an Irish setter called "Copper" was to be in the film, but he was not observed in the viewed print. The film earned an Academy Award for Art Direction, which went to Cedric Gibbons and Urie McCleary, as well as Edwin B. Willis who worked on the set decoration. Additional nominations included Best Picture, Best Cinematography (Color) for Karl Freund and W. Howard Green and Best Actress for Greer Garson, her second of six. This picture was one of M-G-M's top money-making films of the year and, according to ... More Less

The opening credits contain the following written dedication: "This is the story of a great woman, and of the great work she is doing for humanity. Her name is Edna Gladney, and she lives in Fort Worth, Texas...." Gladney, who at the time of the film's production was fifty-five, founded the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society of Fort Worth, Texas, and was instrumental in the passage into law of a bill that removed the word "illegitimate" from the birth certificates of children born out-of-wedlock. According to M-G-M publicity materials contained in the AMPAS Library file on the film, Gladney had spent over thirty years of her life placing orphans into good homes, and had placed more than 2,000 children.
       According to news items in HR , Joy West, Charles Ray and Jerry Storm were cast in the film. Ray was not seen in the viewed print and the appearance of West and Storm is unconfirmed. M-G-M publicity also notes that a new six-way microfilm developed by Electrical Research Products, Inc. was used for the first time in the film. The materials also indicate that an Irish setter called "Copper" was to be in the film, but he was not observed in the viewed print. The film earned an Academy Award for Art Direction, which went to Cedric Gibbons and Urie McCleary, as well as Edwin B. Willis who worked on the set decoration. Additional nominations included Best Picture, Best Cinematography (Color) for Karl Freund and W. Howard Green and Best Actress for Greer Garson, her second of six. This picture was one of M-G-M's top money-making films of the year and, according to modern sources, began Garson's rise as one of the biggest stars of the 1940s. Blossoms in the Dust was the first of nine pictures in which Walter Pidgeon co-starred with Garson; the last was Scandal at Scourie in 1952. According to an article on Garson in NYT on 19 Jul 1942, she did not care for Blossoms in the Dust and was quoted as having said, "The screen is neither a platform nor a pulpit." Garson, Pidgeon and Felix Bressart recreated their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 16 Feb 1942. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Jul 41
p. 326.
Box Office
28 Jun 1941.
---
Daily Variety
25 Jun 1941.
---
Film Daily
23 Jun 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 41
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 41
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 41
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 41
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 41
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jun 41
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
28 Jun 1941.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
17 May 41
p. 133.
New York Times
27 Jun 41
p. 14.
New York Times
19 Jul 1942.
---
Time
7 Jul 1941.
---
Variety
25 Jun 41
p. 16.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Pat Barker
Buddy Williams
Bryant Washburn Sr.
Art Belasco
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Mervyn LeRoy Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Scr polish
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Men's cost
MUSIC
Mus score
Addl mus
SOUND
Rec dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hair styles
Makeup created by
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Assoc
SOURCES
SONGS
"Lullaby," music and lyrics by Herbert Stothart and Earl Brent.
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 July 1941
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 26 June 1941
Production Date:
27 January--14 April 1941
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
2 July 1941
Copyright Number:
LP10607
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
98
Length(in feet):
8,940
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
7192
SYNOPSIS

In 1906, as the wealthy Kahly family of Wisconsin happily prepare for an engagement party for their daughter Edna and their adopted daughter Charlotte, the girls promise always to remain close and be happy. Edna, who excitedly told her sister that a young man brashly proposed to her at their father's bank, is shocked when the man, Texan Sam Gladney, comes to her engagement party. An associate of Mr. Kahly, Sam is going home to open a flour mill, but tells Edna that they will marry when he returns next year, even though she is engaged to another man. Edna sees him off at the train station, and over the course of the following months, they correspond and become engaged. On the day that Sam returns, Mr. and Mrs. Keats, Charlotte's future in-laws, tell the Kahlys that their son Allan cannot marry her because she was a "nameless" foundling. Although Allan insists that he will never marry anyone else, Charlotte, who had not known that she was illegitimate, kills herself. Two years later, Edna, who has moved to Texas and married Sam, gives birth prematurely to a boy and is told that she can have no more children. On Christmas Day, a few years later, the family is very happy, but tragedy strikes when their little Sammy drowns in a pony cart accident. Edna hides her grief by becoming a society hostess until Sam and Dr. Max Bresler, who attended her at Sammy's birth, help her to realize that she can fulfill herself by caring for other children. She and Sam set up a day nursery for working mothers, which they finance ... +


In 1906, as the wealthy Kahly family of Wisconsin happily prepare for an engagement party for their daughter Edna and their adopted daughter Charlotte, the girls promise always to remain close and be happy. Edna, who excitedly told her sister that a young man brashly proposed to her at their father's bank, is shocked when the man, Texan Sam Gladney, comes to her engagement party. An associate of Mr. Kahly, Sam is going home to open a flour mill, but tells Edna that they will marry when he returns next year, even though she is engaged to another man. Edna sees him off at the train station, and over the course of the following months, they correspond and become engaged. On the day that Sam returns, Mr. and Mrs. Keats, Charlotte's future in-laws, tell the Kahlys that their son Allan cannot marry her because she was a "nameless" foundling. Although Allan insists that he will never marry anyone else, Charlotte, who had not known that she was illegitimate, kills herself. Two years later, Edna, who has moved to Texas and married Sam, gives birth prematurely to a boy and is told that she can have no more children. On Christmas Day, a few years later, the family is very happy, but tragedy strikes when their little Sammy drowns in a pony cart accident. Edna hides her grief by becoming a society hostess until Sam and Dr. Max Bresler, who attended her at Sammy's birth, help her to realize that she can fulfill herself by caring for other children. She and Sam set up a day nursery for working mothers, which they finance from their own fortune, but when the price of wheat declines, Sam loses his mill and must sell everything. They then move to Fort Worth and Sam works very hard at a mill job while trying in his spare time to develop a new wheat process. On the day that Edna takes his new process to be notarized, she sees some children in a courtroom and discovers that they are orphans, tagged like cattle, and rejected by prospective adoptive parents because they are illegitimate. She brings two children home, one of whom, a baby named Tony, is ill. With very little money, she opens a storefront orphanage called the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society and arranges for adoptions for her charges, making certain parents and children are well suited for each other. When the wife of a city councilman is not given special treatment by Edna, she feels insulted and convinces the council to close the home for zoning violations. The day that Edna loses the home, Sam collapses, and as he dies, he tells her to keep up the fight. Edna then travels throughout Texas, collecting coins in a milk bottle, and eventually she is able to open a large new home. As the years pass, Edna finds good homes for many children, but realizes that she has additional work to do when she receives a donation from a despondent young woman who discovered that she was illegitimate when she applied for a marriage license. Touched by the similarity between this young woman and Charlotte, Enda determines to change the law that brands children for life and fights to have the word "illegitimate" removed from birth certificates. Her bill is championed by Senator T. R. Cotton, and after she makes an impassioned plea before the Texas legislature, it passes into law. On Christmas Eve, Max tells Edna that he has found a good family for Tony, who is now healthy and as close to Edna as her own son. She wants to give up her work and dedicate herself to him, but just as she is about to go away with him, a policeman comes to the door with two orphans and she realizes that she must help them. She then lets Tony go to his new parents, and as the family leaves, she sits with her two new children. +

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.