Ann Vickers (1933)

72 or 75 mins | Drama | 6 October 1933

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HISTORY

Because of numerous, repeated objections made by the Hays Office, the film's screenplay underwent many fundamental changes during its creation, as documented by files in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library. In early drafts of the script, the character of Ann marries Captain Resnick, bears his child and separates from him. While still legally married to Resnick, she then has an affair with married Barney Dolphin and becomes pregnant by him, but asks Resnick to return to her so that her second child will be legitimate. In a letter dated 5 May 1933, Joseph I. Breen, Public Relations Director of the Hays Office, objected strenuously to the fact that Ann "co-habits with two men...and has a child by each of them, but maintains this illicit relation with one of the characters, who is married, while she, herself, is the wife of another man." This plot point, Breen argued, fit "in well with Mr. [Will] Hays' characterization of the plot of another picture recently produced--'progressive prostitution.' Breen also stated that the story was "definitely in violation of that portion of our Code which prohibits themes 'tending to destroy the sanctity of marriage.'" Although producer Merian C. Cooper resisted acting on these complaints, he and the studio finally agreed to make certain changes after weeks of meetings with the Hays Office. The most significant change involved eliminating Ann's first marriage and having her instead be the object of seduction. According to Dr. James Wingate, Director of Studio Relations of the AMPP, this change was initiated because "where both parties to any adultery are married, the offense is more serious than if only one of ...

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Because of numerous, repeated objections made by the Hays Office, the film's screenplay underwent many fundamental changes during its creation, as documented by files in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library. In early drafts of the script, the character of Ann marries Captain Resnick, bears his child and separates from him. While still legally married to Resnick, she then has an affair with married Barney Dolphin and becomes pregnant by him, but asks Resnick to return to her so that her second child will be legitimate. In a letter dated 5 May 1933, Joseph I. Breen, Public Relations Director of the Hays Office, objected strenuously to the fact that Ann "co-habits with two men...and has a child by each of them, but maintains this illicit relation with one of the characters, who is married, while she, herself, is the wife of another man." This plot point, Breen argued, fit "in well with Mr. [Will] Hays' characterization of the plot of another picture recently produced--'progressive prostitution.' Breen also stated that the story was "definitely in violation of that portion of our Code which prohibits themes 'tending to destroy the sanctity of marriage.'" Although producer Merian C. Cooper resisted acting on these complaints, he and the studio finally agreed to make certain changes after weeks of meetings with the Hays Office. The most significant change involved eliminating Ann's first marriage and having her instead be the object of seduction. According to Dr. James Wingate, Director of Studio Relations of the AMPP, this change was initiated because "where both parties to any adultery are married, the offense is more serious than if only one of the adulterers is married." In addition, the Hays Office expressed concern that no reference to abortion be included in the film. Although the studio gave in to some of the Hays Office recommendations, RKO executive B. B. Kahane said no to the suggestion that adultery be denounced by Ann in the dialogue. As the scenes play in the final film, the purpose of Ann's trip to Havana, to have her baby or an abortion, is ambiguous. Reviewers conclude that Ann "lost" her baby in childbirth, although one critic adds that the death as presented is "mysterious." In late 1935 and in early 1937, RKO contemplated re-releasing Ann Vickers but was informed by the PCA that no production code certificate would be issued because of the film's attitudes toward adultery.
       RKO borrowed Walter Huston from M-G-M for this production. A May 1935 HR news item stated that Ann Harding was to play opposite Walter Huston in the picture. HR news items add Kitty Kelly and Robert Benchley to the cast, but their participation in the final film is doubtful. Although Ferdinand Gottschalk is listed in studio production files as playing "Dr. Slenk," Murray Kinnell is credited onscreen in the role. It is not known if he Gottschalk played another role in the final film. Studio production files indicate that Sarah Padden played her role in black face. The total budget of the film, as reported in production files, was $317,476. According to modern sources, additional cast members include Geneva Mitchell (Leah Burbaum), Frederic Santley (Sam, reform assistant) and Larry Steers (Prosecutor).

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PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
HISTORY CREDITS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
18 Sep 1933
p. 2
Film Daily
29 Sep 1933
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
26 May 1933
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jun 1933
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 1933
p. 4
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jul 1933
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 1933
p. 3
International Photographer
1 Aug 1933
p. 35
Motion Picture Daily
28 Sep 1933
p. 2
Motion Picture Herald
9 Sep 1933
p. 30
Motion Picture Herald
30 Sep 1933
p. 38
Motion Picture Herald
7 Oct 1933
pp. 40-41
New York Times
29 Sep 1933
p. 24
Variety
3 Oct 1933
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Pandro S. Berman Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir of addl scenes
PRODUCER
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Joe Biroc
Cam op
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
George Nicholls Jr.
Ed
Asst ed
Tommy Scott
Asst ed
SET DECORATOR
Chief propman
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Paul Wiser
Rec
Asst rec eng
E. J. Harman
Asst rec eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Vernon Walker
process photog
PRODUCTION MISC
Chief elec
Chief grip
Still photog
STAND INS
Stand-in for Irene Dunne
Stand-in for Edna May Oliver
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Ann Vickers by Sinclair Lewis (New York, 1933).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
6 October 1933
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 26 Sep 1933
Production Date:
5 Jul--14 Aug 1933; retakes 19 Aug and 8 Sep 1933
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
28 September 1933
LP4198
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
72 or 75
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

After she is seduced and then abandoned by the handsome but fickle World War I army officer Captain Resnick, Ann Vickers, an ambitious, devoted social worker, travels to Havana with her friend, Dr. Malvina Wormser, to have her illegitimate baby in secret. When the baby dies, however, Ann, deeply embittered by her romantic experiences, rejects the marriage proposal of longtime companion Lindsey Atwell and rededicates herself to her career, landing a job as a sociologist at a women's prison. Soon horrified by what she observes there, Ann protests conditions to the prison authorities. Instead of correcting matters, Ann's superiors frame her in a phony "sex" setup and threatened her with blackmail. Forced out of the job, Ann retaliates by writing a best-selling book about the terrors of prison life, which, with the help of influential Judge Barney Dolphin, earns her a post as head of another women's reformatory. Although the job challenges and enriches her, Ann still longs for romance and children, and upon at last meeting the successful but unhappily married Barney, she falls in love. Their romance blossoms and Ann becomes pregnant again, but as Barney is unable to secure a divorce, she must bear their son Matthew still unwed. At the same time, Barney is indicted and found guilty of accepting bribes and is sentenced to six years of hard labor. Because of Matthew's illegitimacy, Ann is made to resign her position at the reformatory but is content just to write free-lance articles to support Matthew and wait for Barney's release. To her joy, Barney receives a pardon after three years and, now divorced, returns home to marry Ann, who ...

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After she is seduced and then abandoned by the handsome but fickle World War I army officer Captain Resnick, Ann Vickers, an ambitious, devoted social worker, travels to Havana with her friend, Dr. Malvina Wormser, to have her illegitimate baby in secret. When the baby dies, however, Ann, deeply embittered by her romantic experiences, rejects the marriage proposal of longtime companion Lindsey Atwell and rededicates herself to her career, landing a job as a sociologist at a women's prison. Soon horrified by what she observes there, Ann protests conditions to the prison authorities. Instead of correcting matters, Ann's superiors frame her in a phony "sex" setup and threatened her with blackmail. Forced out of the job, Ann retaliates by writing a best-selling book about the terrors of prison life, which, with the help of influential Judge Barney Dolphin, earns her a post as head of another women's reformatory. Although the job challenges and enriches her, Ann still longs for romance and children, and upon at last meeting the successful but unhappily married Barney, she falls in love. Their romance blossoms and Ann becomes pregnant again, but as Barney is unable to secure a divorce, she must bear their son Matthew still unwed. At the same time, Barney is indicted and found guilty of accepting bribes and is sentenced to six years of hard labor. Because of Matthew's illegitimacy, Ann is made to resign her position at the reformatory but is content just to write free-lance articles to support Matthew and wait for Barney's release. To her joy, Barney receives a pardon after three years and, now divorced, returns home to marry Ann, who tells him that she is cured of her ambition and is happy to be a simple homemaker.

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

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