Reaching for the Sun (1941)

88-90 mins | Comedy-drama | 2 May 1941

Director:

William A. Wellman

Writer:

W. L. River

Producer:

William A. Wellman

Cinematographer:

William C. Mellor

Editor:

Thomas Scott

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Earl Hedrick

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

A HR news item noted that preview audiences were so delighted by Eddie Bracken's comedic performance in this film that the main title billing was reshot to include Bracken as a co-star with Joel McCrea and Ellen Drew. According to a news item in HR, Barbara Stanwyck was originally cast as "Rita," but withdrew to recuperate from an eye operation. Reviews noted that the film strayed from the original novel's serious theme of "labor conflict" and "man against machine." Some scenes were shot on location at Lake Arrowhead, CA.
       The factory scenes were shot at the Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit, MI, according to modern sources, which also indicate that writer Robert Carson, a longtime collaborator of director William Wellman, and author Wessel Smitter were involved in pre-production on this film, but then were released from the project. Modern sources add the following information about the production: Transparencies for the scene of the machinery fight were shot by A. Finkl and Sons Company of Chicago, IL; and another scene was shot at the Arturo Ranch near Malibu Lake, CA. Modern sources also note that photographs of director William Wellman's own children appear on the pamphlets from the parenting course in the film. ...

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A HR news item noted that preview audiences were so delighted by Eddie Bracken's comedic performance in this film that the main title billing was reshot to include Bracken as a co-star with Joel McCrea and Ellen Drew. According to a news item in HR, Barbara Stanwyck was originally cast as "Rita," but withdrew to recuperate from an eye operation. Reviews noted that the film strayed from the original novel's serious theme of "labor conflict" and "man against machine." Some scenes were shot on location at Lake Arrowhead, CA.
       The factory scenes were shot at the Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit, MI, according to modern sources, which also indicate that writer Robert Carson, a longtime collaborator of director William Wellman, and author Wessel Smitter were involved in pre-production on this film, but then were released from the project. Modern sources add the following information about the production: Transparencies for the scene of the machinery fight were shot by A. Finkl and Sons Company of Chicago, IL; and another scene was shot at the Arturo Ranch near Malibu Lake, CA. Modern sources also note that photographs of director William Wellman's own children appear on the pamphlets from the parenting course in the film.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
May 1941
p. 240
Box Office
12-Apr-41
---
Daily Variety
8 Apr 1941
---
Film Daily
8 May 1941
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
5 Sep 1940
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 1940
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 1940
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 1940
p. 8
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 1941
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 1941
p. 2, 3
Motion Picture Herald
12 Apr 1941
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Apr 1941
p. 97
New York Times
8 May 1941
p. 21
Variety
9 Apr 1941
p. 16
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Process photog
2d unit cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Sd rec
Sd rec
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel F.O.B. Detroit by Wessel Smitter (New York, 1938).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
2 May 1941
Premiere Information:
Detroit, MI premiere: 8 Apr 1941
Production Date:
late Sep--early Nov 1940
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
2 May 1941
LP10448
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
88-90
Length(in feet):
8,085
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6802
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Russ Eliot, a clam digger living in the northern backwoods, goes to Detroit hoping to earn enough money to buy an outboard motor for his rowboat and thus improve his business. While standing in the employment line at Crane Motor Co., an automobile manufacturing plant, Russ buys Benny Hogan a cup of coffee and apple pie from the lunch counter. There Russ meets Rita, a tough-talking waitress who works at night as a taxi-dancer. Although Rita thinks Russ's backcountry naïveté is a put-on, as a favor, she nonetheless stows his blanket behind the counter. Russ creates a fracas in the employment line and when a brawl ensues, he and Benny sneak through and are among the ten men hired to work on the assembly line. Russ later earns an enemy in Herman, a big bully who picks a fight with him after getting the wrong idea when he hears that Rita has Russ's blanket at her house. Rita and Russ fall in love and marry, then move to a house in an industrial area, along with Benny, who is their boarder. From the very start, Rita does not share Russ's enthusiasm for returning to the north woods, and his outboard motor becomes a source of contention between them. The discord grows after they have a baby boy and the factory closes down. Finally, with only two dollars left, Rita insists that Russ sell his outboard motor, which he has almost finished paying off. Months pass and with the arrival of spring, Benny and Russ are still unemployed. Russ asks Rita to return to the woods with him where they can make their own ...

More Less

Russ Eliot, a clam digger living in the northern backwoods, goes to Detroit hoping to earn enough money to buy an outboard motor for his rowboat and thus improve his business. While standing in the employment line at Crane Motor Co., an automobile manufacturing plant, Russ buys Benny Hogan a cup of coffee and apple pie from the lunch counter. There Russ meets Rita, a tough-talking waitress who works at night as a taxi-dancer. Although Rita thinks Russ's backcountry naïveté is a put-on, as a favor, she nonetheless stows his blanket behind the counter. Russ creates a fracas in the employment line and when a brawl ensues, he and Benny sneak through and are among the ten men hired to work on the assembly line. Russ later earns an enemy in Herman, a big bully who picks a fight with him after getting the wrong idea when he hears that Rita has Russ's blanket at her house. Rita and Russ fall in love and marry, then move to a house in an industrial area, along with Benny, who is their boarder. From the very start, Rita does not share Russ's enthusiasm for returning to the north woods, and his outboard motor becomes a source of contention between them. The discord grows after they have a baby boy and the factory closes down. Finally, with only two dollars left, Rita insists that Russ sell his outboard motor, which he has almost finished paying off. Months pass and with the arrival of spring, Benny and Russ are still unemployed. Russ asks Rita to return to the woods with him where they can make their own living, but Rita insists on remaining in Detroit and urges Russ to give up his dream. They are saved when the factory reopens and Russ is hired to work the hot steel manipulator, a huge machine that works in tandem with the crane operated by Herman. When Russ gets a raise, he and Benny get drunk and buy another outboard motor. This is the last straw for Rita and she leaves Russ. Three days later Russ rises to the bait when Herman flaunts Rita's handkerchief in front of him. Benny stops them from fighting, but later, inside the plant, Herman sends a flaming bundle of steel toward Russ. Russ avoids the steel, which is sent crashing, but then Herman, who is operating the crane, tips Russ's machine over. Russ is pinned and loses his left leg. At the hospital, Russ pretends that he still has his leg when Rita visits him and sends her away. When she learns the truth, however, she rushes to his side. The reunited couple moves to the northern backwoods. Everyone enjoys the new lifestyle except for Benny, who decides to return to the hustle and bustle of the city, and as he departs, the family sails off in their motorized boat onto the lake.

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

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