The Little Minister (1934)

104 or 110 mins | Drama | 28 December 1934

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HISTORY

Barrie's play was based on his novel of the same name, which was published in 1891. The copyright records state that the film was based on the novel, not on Barrie's play, but all other sources refer to the play as the film's source. According to a Jul 1934 HR news item, Paramount sold the rights to Barrie's play to RKO in exchange for the services of RKO's contract star Francis Lederer. The NYT review claims that Dorothy Emerson "fictionized" the story, but no other contemporary source mentions this credit. Although production files for the film state that RKO purchased the rights to the song "Twas Meant to Be" from Val Burton and Will Jason, and a FD pre-production news item announced that H. W. Hanemann wrote a song for Katharine Hepburn called "The Willful Male," the only song performed in the picture was "House of Argyle," which was sung in part by Hepburn. A Nov 1934 FD news item states that Jessie Ralph was to replace Charlotte Granville in the cast. Neither of these actors, however, appears in the final film. HR production charts list the following additional cast members: Charles Irwin, Charles McNaughton, Jane Baxter, Elsie Prescott and Anna Q. Nilsson. Their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Some scenes in the film were shot in Sherwood Forest in the San Fernando Valley and at the Fryman Ranch in Laurel Canyon. During the filming of a mob scene, actor John Beal was stabbed in the right eye by an unidentified extra and nearly lost his sight, according to ... More Less

Barrie's play was based on his novel of the same name, which was published in 1891. The copyright records state that the film was based on the novel, not on Barrie's play, but all other sources refer to the play as the film's source. According to a Jul 1934 HR news item, Paramount sold the rights to Barrie's play to RKO in exchange for the services of RKO's contract star Francis Lederer. The NYT review claims that Dorothy Emerson "fictionized" the story, but no other contemporary source mentions this credit. Although production files for the film state that RKO purchased the rights to the song "Twas Meant to Be" from Val Burton and Will Jason, and a FD pre-production news item announced that H. W. Hanemann wrote a song for Katharine Hepburn called "The Willful Male," the only song performed in the picture was "House of Argyle," which was sung in part by Hepburn. A Nov 1934 FD news item states that Jessie Ralph was to replace Charlotte Granville in the cast. Neither of these actors, however, appears in the final film. HR production charts list the following additional cast members: Charles Irwin, Charles McNaughton, Jane Baxter, Elsie Prescott and Anna Q. Nilsson. Their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Some scenes in the film were shot in Sherwood Forest in the San Fernando Valley and at the Fryman Ranch in Laurel Canyon. During the filming of a mob scene, actor John Beal was stabbed in the right eye by an unidentified extra and nearly lost his sight, according to a DV news item. The Little Minister was cinematographer Henry Gerrard's last film. According to contemporary sources, Gerrard died of a mistreated appendicitis during the final stages of filming.
       Modern sources add the following information about the production: Although Hepburn was not at first interested in playing "Babbie" and was advised against taking the part by her agent and others, she changed her mind when she heard that Margaret Sullavan desperately wanted the role. During production, Hepburn made suggestions for the story's ending, some of which director Wallace incorporated into the film. Editing and scoring for the picture required nearly a month's time. The film's budget was a high $650,000, and the picture lost RKO almost $10,000 at the box office. Modern sources credit Mel Berns with the film's makeup, and add May Beatty ( Maid ) to the cast.
       In 1915, Oscar Apfel directed Dorothy Bernard in a Fox Film Corp. production of Barrie's story called The Little Gypsy (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.2526). In the early 1920s, two other versions were produced: Penryhn Stanlaws directed Betty Compson in a 1921 Famous Players-Lasky release; and David Smith directed Alice Calhoun in a 1922 Vitagraph production (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.3122 and F2.3123). In addition, Maude Adams, who portrayed "Babbie" in the original stage production, revived the part on the radio in two 1934 NBC network broadcasts of the play. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
10 Oct 34
p. 2.
Daily Variety
10 Dec 34
p. 3.
Film Daily
13 Sep 34
p. 12.
Film Daily
10 Nov 34
p. 4.
Film Daily
22 Dec 34
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 34
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 34
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 34
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 34
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Nov 34
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 34
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 34
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
22 Dec 34
p. 35.
New York Times
28 Dec 34
p. 25.
Variety
1 Jan 35
p. 18.
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
Asst dir
WRITERS
Addl scenes
Addl scenes
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Settings
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
Mus rec supv
Asst rec
Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Dial coach
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
Scr clerk
Chief elec
Best boy
Still photog
STAND INS
Stand-in
Stand-in
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Little Minister by James M. Barrie (London, 1891) and his play of the same name (New York, 27 Sep 1897).
SONGS
"House of Argyle," composer unknown.
DETAILS
Release Date:
28 December 1934
Production Date:
7 September--10 November 1934
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 December 1934
Copyright Number:
LP5232
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
104 or 110
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
PCA No:
481
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1840, the village of Thrums, Scotland, whose main industry is weaving, anticipates the arrival of its new minister, Gavin Dishart, with enthusiasm. Although small in stature, Gavin quickly impresses the townspeople with his inspired sermonizing and prudent, firm ways. The villagers are especially impressed when Gavin convinces Rob Dow, Thrums's most notorious drunkard, to give up alcohol. Gavin's quiet world is threatened, however, by the unhappy relations between the Thrums weavers and the area manufacturers, who by forcing prices down, have driven many villagers to poverty and violent protest. Gavin also is unnerved when he meets Babbie, a high-spirited young woman dressed like a gypsy, in the woods. Actually the well-educated fiancée of Lord Milford Rintoul, whose estate overlooks the village, Babbie flirts boldly with Gavin and plays the part of the wild gypsy to the hilt. While she bewitches the inexperienced Gavin, Rintoul, who is in cahoots with the manufacturers, arranges for a group of soldiers to raid Thrums and round up the militant labor leaders. Aware of Rintoul's plan, Babbie tricks Gavin into sounding an alarm that alerts the villagers to the arrival of the soldiers. Although he at first decries the ensuing rock and mud throwing, Gavin finds himself tossing divots at the soldiers alongside the feisty Babbie. After the melee, Gavin goes to Rintoul and entreats him to be lenient with the weavers. Rintoul, however, is concerned only with capturing the "gypsy," oblivious to the fact that she is his fiancée. Babbie further confuses Gavin when she intercedes on behalf of Nanny Webster, an old woman threatened with the poorhouse. By pledging to give money ... +


In 1840, the village of Thrums, Scotland, whose main industry is weaving, anticipates the arrival of its new minister, Gavin Dishart, with enthusiasm. Although small in stature, Gavin quickly impresses the townspeople with his inspired sermonizing and prudent, firm ways. The villagers are especially impressed when Gavin convinces Rob Dow, Thrums's most notorious drunkard, to give up alcohol. Gavin's quiet world is threatened, however, by the unhappy relations between the Thrums weavers and the area manufacturers, who by forcing prices down, have driven many villagers to poverty and violent protest. Gavin also is unnerved when he meets Babbie, a high-spirited young woman dressed like a gypsy, in the woods. Actually the well-educated fiancée of Lord Milford Rintoul, whose estate overlooks the village, Babbie flirts boldly with Gavin and plays the part of the wild gypsy to the hilt. While she bewitches the inexperienced Gavin, Rintoul, who is in cahoots with the manufacturers, arranges for a group of soldiers to raid Thrums and round up the militant labor leaders. Aware of Rintoul's plan, Babbie tricks Gavin into sounding an alarm that alerts the villagers to the arrival of the soldiers. Although he at first decries the ensuing rock and mud throwing, Gavin finds himself tossing divots at the soldiers alongside the feisty Babbie. After the melee, Gavin goes to Rintoul and entreats him to be lenient with the weavers. Rintoul, however, is concerned only with capturing the "gypsy," oblivious to the fact that she is his fiancée. Babbie further confuses Gavin when she intercedes on behalf of Nanny Webster, an old woman threatened with the poorhouse. By pledging to give money to Nanny, Babbie is able to meet with Gavin alone and finally forces him to confess his attraction for her. Gavin's increasingly distracted behavior creates anxiety in the villagers, who fear that he has fallen in love with the wrong sort of woman. Rob Dow even returns to drinking when he sees Babbie and Gavin together, convinced that his moral mentor has himself been led astray. Then when Rob Dow's son Micah reveals to Babbie that his father is drinking and beating him because of her and that Gavin's career will be ruined by their romance, Babbie decides to end the relationship and marry Rintoul within the fortnight. On the eve of her wedding, a heartbroken Babbie goes to Nanny's to say goodbye and there is reunited with an equally miserable Gavin. After revealing to Gavin her true identity, Babbie describes how Rintoul found her as a little girl, abandoned by her gypsy tribe, and reared her as his ward. Gavin convinces her that once Rintoul, whom Babbie has agreed to marry only out of gratitude, learns of their love, he will release her from her promise. Before Gavin and Babbie can notify Rintoul of their decision, however, the church elders vote to dismiss Gavin and go to his house to confront him. There they find Babbie alone with Gavin's kindly old mother and are unable to break the news. Gavin, meanwhile, is accidentally stabbed by Rob Dow at the church and is carried home, near death. Before collapsing, Gavin defends Babbie to the elders, who finally realize that their little minister is in love with a fine woman. The next morning, Rintoul releases Babbie to marry the recovering Gavin, and she rushes to his bedside. +

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

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