Smilin' Through (1941)

100 mins | Romance | October 1941

Director:

Frank Borzage

Producer:

Victor Saville

Cinematographer:

Leonard Smith

Editor:

Frank Sullivan

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

Claudine West and Ernest Vajda, who are credited in the SAB as "contributing writers" wrote the screenplay for the 1932 M-G-M adaptation of Jane Cowl and Jane Murfin's play (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.4156). According to various news items in HR , Smilin' Through was originally to co-star Robert Taylor and Jeanette MacDonald. A 17 Jan 1941 news item in HR noted that James Stewart was being considered as a replacement for Taylor, but news items from early Mar to mid-Apr 1941 again include Taylor. A 17 Apr 1941 news item indicated that Taylor finally was granted an eight-week vacation from the studio, thus precluding his appearance in the film. An HR news item noted that Bill Ryan was to be the film's assistant director, but he apparently was replaced by Lew Borzage. Although some sources list this film as child actress Jackie Horner's motion picture debut, she had appeared previously in the 1940 Laurel and Hardy picture, Saps at Sea (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.3902). Cameraman Oliver T. Marsh was assigned to photograph the film, but died of a heart attack in the M-G-M studio commissary on 5 May 1941. It is unclear whether or not Marsh had actually started shooting the film prior to his death.
       Prior to the 1932 M-G-M adaptation of the play, Associated First National Pictures released a version starring Norma Talmadge as "Kathleen/Moonyean," Harrison Ford as "Kenneth/Jeremy" and Wyndham Standing, who had a small role as a doctor in the 1941 version, as "John." There were three Lux Radio ... More Less

Claudine West and Ernest Vajda, who are credited in the SAB as "contributing writers" wrote the screenplay for the 1932 M-G-M adaptation of Jane Cowl and Jane Murfin's play (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.4156). According to various news items in HR , Smilin' Through was originally to co-star Robert Taylor and Jeanette MacDonald. A 17 Jan 1941 news item in HR noted that James Stewart was being considered as a replacement for Taylor, but news items from early Mar to mid-Apr 1941 again include Taylor. A 17 Apr 1941 news item indicated that Taylor finally was granted an eight-week vacation from the studio, thus precluding his appearance in the film. An HR news item noted that Bill Ryan was to be the film's assistant director, but he apparently was replaced by Lew Borzage. Although some sources list this film as child actress Jackie Horner's motion picture debut, she had appeared previously in the 1940 Laurel and Hardy picture, Saps at Sea (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.3902). Cameraman Oliver T. Marsh was assigned to photograph the film, but died of a heart attack in the M-G-M studio commissary on 5 May 1941. It is unclear whether or not Marsh had actually started shooting the film prior to his death.
       Prior to the 1932 M-G-M adaptation of the play, Associated First National Pictures released a version starring Norma Talmadge as "Kathleen/Moonyean," Harrison Ford as "Kenneth/Jeremy" and Wyndham Standing, who had a small role as a doctor in the 1941 version, as "John." There were three Lux Radio Theatre adaptations of the play, on 4 Nov 1934, starring Jane Cowl and Wilfred Seagram; on 29 Apr 1940, starring Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck; and, 5 Jan 1942, starring MacDonald, Raymond and Brian Aherne, recreating their roles from the 1941 picture. MacDonald and Raymond were married from 1937 until her death in 1965. Smilin' Through was their only film together. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
13 Sep 41
p.
Daily Variety
11 Sep 41
p. 3.
Film Daily
12 Sep 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 40
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jan 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Mar 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Apr 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Apr 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
2 May 41
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
5 May 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 May 41
, 15102
Hollywood Reporter
8 May 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 41
p. 12.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Jul 41
p. 196.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
13 Sep 41
p. 257.
New York Times
5 Dec 41
p. 29.
Variety
17 Sep 41
p. 9.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Frank Borzage Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Men's cost
MUSIC
SOUND
Rec dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Mont eff
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
STAND INS
Vocal double for Jeanette MacDonald
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Assoc
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Smiling Through by Jane Cowl and Jane Murfin (New York, 30 Dec 1919).
SONGS
"Smilin' Through," music and lyrics by Arthur A. Penn
"Recessional," music by Reginald de Koven, lyrics by Rudyard Kipling
"The Kerry Dance," music and lyrics by James Lyman Molloy
+
SONGS
"Smilin' Through," music and lyrics by Arthur A. Penn
"Recessional," music by Reginald de Koven, lyrics by Rudyard Kipling
"The Kerry Dance," music and lyrics by James Lyman Molloy
"A Little Love, a Little Kiss ( Un peu d'amour )," music by Lao Silesu, English lyrics by Adrian Ross
" Ouevre ton coeur ," music by Georges Bizet, French lyrics by Louis Delatre
"Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes," music traditional, lyrics by Ben Jonson
"There's a Long, Long Trail Awinding," music by Alonzo Elliott, lyrics by Stoddard King
"Land of Hope and Glory (based on 'Pomp and Circumstance')," music by Edward Elgar, lyrics by Arthur C. Benson.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
October 1941
Production Date:
early May--5 July 1941
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
4 September 1941
Copyright Number:
LP10723
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
100
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
PCA No:
7491
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In 1898, a small English village celebrates Queen Victoria's sixtieth jubilee, but Sir John Carteret can only mourn his sweetheart Moonyean Clare, who died thirty years before. When John, who spends most of his time brooding about the past, goes to his garden, he sees Moonyean in his thoughts. That same afternoon, the Reverend Owen Harding, who is John's best friend, comes to tell him that Moonyean's sister and brother-in-law have drowned in Dublin, leaving their five-year-old daughter Kathleen orphaned. Owen has brought Kathleen with him and, despite John's initial protests, he is enchanted with the child and decides to care for her. Kathleen grows into a beautiful young woman, the image of her aunt Moonyean, and on her twenty-first birthday, Willie, one of her many suitors, tries to propose to her. Rain forces them to seek refuge in the long-abandoned Wayne house. Suddenly, a man appears and he and Kathleen are immediately attracted to each other. The man reveals that he is an American enlisting in the British army to fight in France, and that he is Kenneth Wayne, the son of the house's late owner, Jeremy Wayne. From that night, Kenneth and Kathleen spend a lot of time together and fall in love. One evening, Kathleen casually mentions Kenneth to John and Owen and is startled at her uncle's shock. When John leaves, Owen advises her not to question John, but she follows him to the garden and, to convince her not to see Kenneth again, John tells her why he hates the Waynes: In 1868, on the eve of John and Moonyean's wedding, the deeply in love couple host a party at John's house. Owen ... +


In 1898, a small English village celebrates Queen Victoria's sixtieth jubilee, but Sir John Carteret can only mourn his sweetheart Moonyean Clare, who died thirty years before. When John, who spends most of his time brooding about the past, goes to his garden, he sees Moonyean in his thoughts. That same afternoon, the Reverend Owen Harding, who is John's best friend, comes to tell him that Moonyean's sister and brother-in-law have drowned in Dublin, leaving their five-year-old daughter Kathleen orphaned. Owen has brought Kathleen with him and, despite John's initial protests, he is enchanted with the child and decides to care for her. Kathleen grows into a beautiful young woman, the image of her aunt Moonyean, and on her twenty-first birthday, Willie, one of her many suitors, tries to propose to her. Rain forces them to seek refuge in the long-abandoned Wayne house. Suddenly, a man appears and he and Kathleen are immediately attracted to each other. The man reveals that he is an American enlisting in the British army to fight in France, and that he is Kenneth Wayne, the son of the house's late owner, Jeremy Wayne. From that night, Kenneth and Kathleen spend a lot of time together and fall in love. One evening, Kathleen casually mentions Kenneth to John and Owen and is startled at her uncle's shock. When John leaves, Owen advises her not to question John, but she follows him to the garden and, to convince her not to see Kenneth again, John tells her why he hates the Waynes: In 1868, on the eve of John and Moonyean's wedding, the deeply in love couple host a party at John's house. Owen arrives and tells John that he has seen Jeremy drinking heavily and making threats, but John dismisses them as drunken words by a spurned suitor. Jeremy later comes to the garden and tells Moonyean how much he still loves her, but she only feels friendship toward him. He threatens to kill John and drunkenly grabs her, but she rejects him and he leaves. When John finds her in the garden, she does not tell him what has happened. The next morning, while Jeremy's drinking and rage increase, Owen begins the wedding ceremony. Suddenly, Jeremy shows up brandishing a gun. As he takes aim and fires at John, Moonyean jumps in front of him and takes the fatal bullet. As she dies, Moonyean tells John that their love will never die and if he needs her, she will find a way to come back to him. After John's story ends, he reveals that, despite his relentless pursuit, Jeremy was never caught. John then begs her not to see Kenneth again and she sadly agrees. She then writes a goodbye letter to Kenneth. When Kenneth goes to see her at a servicemen's canteen, she tells him about Moonyean. They kiss goodbye, but realize that they are too much in love to part and agree to see each other secretly until he goes to France. They soon decide to marry and hope that John will understand, but he angrily says that he will never forgive her if she marries Kenneth. Although Kathleen still wants to marry, Kenneth is afraid that she will have no one if he dies in France and sends her home. Later, John displays such callousness over Kathleen's pain that Owen chastises him, and John sends him away. Now alone, when John calls out for Moonyean, she says that she cannot reach him because his hate is driving her away and could stand between them for eternity. In 1918, an embittered Kenneth comes home on crutches, determined to sell his estate and leave for America without seeing Kathleen. Back at his house, Kathleen, who has seen the lights, rushes in but does not see the crutches, which he has hidden. She has been worried because he has not written for three months and quickly realizes that something is wrong. When he says that he no longer loves her, she then leaves in tears. Meanwhile, Owen who has not seen John in more than three years, goes to him. Having spoken to Kenneth earlier, Owen tells John about his wounds but John is unable to forget the past. After Owen leaves, Kathleen arrives and John realizes that Kenneth has hidden his condition to protect her. When she tearfully says that, like him, she will never be over her love, he is ashamed and tells her the truth. She then happily rushes to see Kenneth as John asks her to return home with him. On the way, she sees Owen and asks him to go to John, who tells him what has happened and asks him to stay for a game of chess. John appears to fall asleep and Owen leaves, unaware that his friend has died. The spirit of Moonyean then comes to him and his spirit rises to greet her. Happy in death, they enter their carriage, just as Kenneth and Kathleen drive back to the house. +

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.