Kings Row (1942)

127 or 130 mins | Drama | 18 April 1942

Director:

Sam Wood

Writer:

Casey Robinson

Cinematographer:

James Wong Howe

Editor:

Ralph Dawson

Production Designer:

William Cameron Menzies

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

HR news items state that Twentieth-Century Fox bid for Henry Bellamann's best-selling novel as a vehicle for Henry Fonda. After Warner Bros. bought the rights for $35,000, David O. Selznick offered the studio $75,000 to sell them to him. News items in HR and material included in The Warner Bros. collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library note that among the many actresses considered for the part of "Cassandra" were Katharine Hepburn, Adele Longmire, Marsha Hunt, Laraine Day, Susan Peters, Joan Leslie, Gene Tierney and Priscilla Lane. The studio wanted to cast Ida Lupino in the role, but she turned it down, as did Olivia de Havilland. Bette Davis wanted the part, but the studio was opposed and, according to modern sources, Davis later suggested Betty Field. In a memo included in the USC files, producer Hal Wallis requested that Ginger Rogers be sent a script, although the memo does not mention which part he thought she might play. At one point, Wallis wanted Donald Crisp for the part of "Dr. Tower." James Stephenson was originally cast as "Dr. Tower" but after his death, was replaced by Claude Rains. John Garfield was considered for the role of "Drake McHugh." Philip Reed, Rex Downing and Tyrone Power were all considered for the role of "Parris." According to modern sources, Wallis borrowed Robert Cummings from Universal after Twentieth-Century Fox refused to lend Power to Warner Bros. According to a still photo of the film, actress Faye Emerson was tested for a role. HR news items note that some scenes were shot on location in Saugus, CA, and add that assistant director ... More Less

HR news items state that Twentieth-Century Fox bid for Henry Bellamann's best-selling novel as a vehicle for Henry Fonda. After Warner Bros. bought the rights for $35,000, David O. Selznick offered the studio $75,000 to sell them to him. News items in HR and material included in The Warner Bros. collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library note that among the many actresses considered for the part of "Cassandra" were Katharine Hepburn, Adele Longmire, Marsha Hunt, Laraine Day, Susan Peters, Joan Leslie, Gene Tierney and Priscilla Lane. The studio wanted to cast Ida Lupino in the role, but she turned it down, as did Olivia de Havilland. Bette Davis wanted the part, but the studio was opposed and, according to modern sources, Davis later suggested Betty Field. In a memo included in the USC files, producer Hal Wallis requested that Ginger Rogers be sent a script, although the memo does not mention which part he thought she might play. At one point, Wallis wanted Donald Crisp for the part of "Dr. Tower." James Stephenson was originally cast as "Dr. Tower" but after his death, was replaced by Claude Rains. John Garfield was considered for the role of "Drake McHugh." Philip Reed, Rex Downing and Tyrone Power were all considered for the role of "Parris." According to modern sources, Wallis borrowed Robert Cummings from Universal after Twentieth-Century Fox refused to lend Power to Warner Bros. According to a still photo of the film, actress Faye Emerson was tested for a role. HR news items note that some scenes were shot on location in Saugus, CA, and add that assistant director Sherry Shourds replaced Frank Heath after the latter was assigned to Captains of the Clouds . Douglas Wheatcroft, who was billed as Douglas Croft, made his film debut in Kings Row , as did Nancy Coleman.
       Harry Bellamann's controversial novel, modeled on his home town of Fulton, MO, presented significant problems in regards to PCA censorship. According to information in the USC Cinema-Television Library, Wolfgang Reinhardt turned down an assignment to produce the film, stating in a memo to Hal Wallis, "As far as plot is concerned, the material in Kings Row is for the most part either censurable or too gruesome and depressing to be used. The hero finding out that his girl has been carrying on incestuous relations with her father...a host of moronic or otherwise mentally diseased characters...people dying from cancer, suicides--these are the principal elements of the story." Responding to an early draft of the screenplay in a letter dated 22 Apr 1941 included in the MPAA/PCA Collection in the AMPAS Library, Joseph I. Breen, director of the PCA, wrote Warner Bros.' studio head Jack L. Warner that the PCA objected to "illicit sexual relationships between Parris and Cassandra and Drake and Randy without sufficient compensating moral values; as well as the general suggestion of loose sex...which carries throughout the entire script....In addition, the suggestion, in the characterization of Cassandra, of gross sexual abnormality; the mercy killing of the grandmother by Parris; and the sadistic characterization of Dr. Gordon...." Ronald Reagan took the title of his autobiography Where's the Rest of Me? from a line he delivers in the scene in which he discovers that his legs have been amputated.
       The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, James Wong Howe was nominated for Best Cinematography, and Sam Wood was nominated for Best Directing. In 1955, Warner Bros. planned a remake with Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra, Eva Marie Saint and Ronald Reagan reprising his original role, but it was never made. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
27 Dec 1941.
---
Film Daily
23 Dec 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 1940.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jul 1940.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Mar 41
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 41
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jun 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jul 41
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 41
p. 2, 4
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 41
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 41
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
27 Dec 41
p. 429.
New York Times
3 Feb 42
p. 23.
Variety
24 Dec 41
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
2nd asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2nd cam
Asst cam
Gaffer
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Asst props
COSTUMES
Gowns
Ward man
Ward woman
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Scr clerk
Best boy
Pub
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Kings Row by Henry Bellamann (New York, 1940).
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 April 1942
Production Date:
14 July--early October 1941
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
18 April 1942
Copyright Number:
LP11212
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
127 or 130
Length(in feet):
11,636
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Growing up together in the late nineteenth century in the small town of Kings Row are Parris Mitchell, who lives with his French grandmother; Cassandra Tower, the misunderstood daughter of Dr. Alexander Tower; wealthy orphan Drake McHugh; Louise Gordon, the daughter of sadistic Dr. Henry Gordon, who performs operations without anesthetic; and Randy Monaghan, whose father is a railroad worker. Although the other children in town avoid Cassie, whose mother is rumored to be locked in an upstairs room of the Tower residence, Parris is attracted to her and is her only friend. Eventually Tower decides to keep Cassie at home and Parris does not see her again. Several years later, in 1890, Parris begins his medical studies under Dr. Tower's tutelage. His best friend, Drake, intends to marry Louise despite the disapproval of her rigidly moralistic father. Louise, however, does not have the strength to defy her parents. One day, when Parris returns to the Towers' to retrieve his notebooks, Cassie meets him. She refuses to explain why she can never see her friends, and intrigued by her wildness, Parris kisses her. It is late when Parris leaves, and to save Cassie's reputation, he spends the night with Drake. Subsequently, Parris and Cassie continue to see one another at Drake's. Meanwhile, Parris' grandmother has become very ill. Although Parris is concerned about Gordon's seeming mistreatment of his patients, Tower assures him that the doctor's abilities are adequate to treat his grandmother, and a short time later she dies from incurable cancer. Parris becomes interested in psychiatry and decides to continue his studies abroad. He proposes marriage to Cassie, who runs from ... +


Growing up together in the late nineteenth century in the small town of Kings Row are Parris Mitchell, who lives with his French grandmother; Cassandra Tower, the misunderstood daughter of Dr. Alexander Tower; wealthy orphan Drake McHugh; Louise Gordon, the daughter of sadistic Dr. Henry Gordon, who performs operations without anesthetic; and Randy Monaghan, whose father is a railroad worker. Although the other children in town avoid Cassie, whose mother is rumored to be locked in an upstairs room of the Tower residence, Parris is attracted to her and is her only friend. Eventually Tower decides to keep Cassie at home and Parris does not see her again. Several years later, in 1890, Parris begins his medical studies under Dr. Tower's tutelage. His best friend, Drake, intends to marry Louise despite the disapproval of her rigidly moralistic father. Louise, however, does not have the strength to defy her parents. One day, when Parris returns to the Towers' to retrieve his notebooks, Cassie meets him. She refuses to explain why she can never see her friends, and intrigued by her wildness, Parris kisses her. It is late when Parris leaves, and to save Cassie's reputation, he spends the night with Drake. Subsequently, Parris and Cassie continue to see one another at Drake's. Meanwhile, Parris' grandmother has become very ill. Although Parris is concerned about Gordon's seeming mistreatment of his patients, Tower assures him that the doctor's abilities are adequate to treat his grandmother, and a short time later she dies from incurable cancer. Parris becomes interested in psychiatry and decides to continue his studies abroad. He proposes marriage to Cassie, who runs from the room in distress. Later she visits him at Drake's and begs him to take her with him, but again, runs away. The next day, Parris learns that Tower has poisoned Cassie and shot himself, leaving everything to him. Tower's notebook reveals that he killed Cassie, who was insane like her mother, to prevent Parris from ruining his life by marrying her. By 1900, Parris is in Vienna studying psychiatry, while in Kings Row, Drake's plans to build houses are encouraged by his new sweetheart, Randy Monaghan. Randy suggests that he build homes for workers rather than the rich, but when his trust fund is stolen by a dishonest bank officer, Drake is forced to work for the railroad. He is accidentally crushed by a boxcar and Gordon is called to treat him. Gordon's hatred of Drake prompts him to amputate his legs needlessly. Parris, meanwhile, has learned of the events and, after Randy and Drake marry, offers them money to start over. Later, Parris takes a leave of absence from his studies to visit Kings Row and decides to remain there when he learns that because of Gordon's death, the town needs a doctor. At Mrs. Gordon's request, he visits Louise, who has not left her room since Drake's marriage. Louise reveals that her father amputated Drake's legs because he believed it was his duty to punish wickedness. This is confirmed by Elise Sandor and her father, who now live in Parris' old house. At first, Parris wants to keep the truth from Drake, but instead, persuaded by Elise, confronts him with the facts. Unexpectedly, Drake is relieved, and is finally able to accept his life. Having cured his friend, Parris is now free to marry Elise. +

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

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