Merrily We Live (1938)

90 mins | Comedy | 4 March 1938

Director:

Norman Z. McLeod

Producer:

Milton H. Bren

Cinematographer:

Norbert Brodine

Editor:

William Terhune

Production Designer:

Charles D. Hall

Production Companies:

Hal Roach Studios, Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

Working titles of the film were Take It Easy , Love Without Reason and Dark Chapter . Arthur Quenzer's name is spelled Quencer on the screen. E. J. Rath's novel and Courtenay Savage's play are not acknowledged as sources for the film in the onscreen credits, in reviews or in SAB , although comparison of the film with the 1930 Sono-Art film based on those sources, What a Man , directed by George J. Crone, and starring Reginald Denny, reveals that the stories were the same and many character names were the same, including that of the main character, Wade Rawlins. A Spanish-language version of What a Man was also produced in 1930 under the title Así es la vida . That film was also directed by Crone and starred José Bohr (see entries above and below). Portions of the film were shot at Arrowhead Hot Spring, California. According to a HR news item, this was well-known newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan's first assignment for Hal Roach. Opening credits rolled as the principal cast members walked arm-in-arm up the driveway of an estate, and the title song was sung by a chorus. Using singing voices, rather than just music, during the opening credits was a convention that was starting to gain popularity but was not frequently used until the 1940s. At the time of the picture's release, the Southern California Gas Company took out ads in local newspapers promoting the four gas appliances used in the film's kitchen set as the latest in modern home conveniences. Norbert Brodine and Billie Burke were both ... More Less

Working titles of the film were Take It Easy , Love Without Reason and Dark Chapter . Arthur Quenzer's name is spelled Quencer on the screen. E. J. Rath's novel and Courtenay Savage's play are not acknowledged as sources for the film in the onscreen credits, in reviews or in SAB , although comparison of the film with the 1930 Sono-Art film based on those sources, What a Man , directed by George J. Crone, and starring Reginald Denny, reveals that the stories were the same and many character names were the same, including that of the main character, Wade Rawlins. A Spanish-language version of What a Man was also produced in 1930 under the title Así es la vida . That film was also directed by Crone and starred José Bohr (see entries above and below). Portions of the film were shot at Arrowhead Hot Spring, California. According to a HR news item, this was well-known newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan's first assignment for Hal Roach. Opening credits rolled as the principal cast members walked arm-in-arm up the driveway of an estate, and the title song was sung by a chorus. Using singing voices, rather than just music, during the opening credits was a convention that was starting to gain popularity but was not frequently used until the 1940s. At the time of the picture's release, the Southern California Gas Company took out ads in local newspapers promoting the four gas appliances used in the film's kitchen set as the latest in modern home conveniences. Norbert Brodine and Billie Burke were both honored with Oscar nominations for their work in this film. Portions of the story were recreated by the film's stars on M-G-M's Good News Radio program on 3 Mar 1938. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
23 Feb 38
p. 3.
Film Daily
1 Mar 38
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Oct 37
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 37
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Oct 37
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 37
pp. 10-11.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 37
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 37
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jan 38
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Feb 38
p. 4.
Los Angeles Herald Express
22 Jan 38
p. 2.
Motion Picture Daily
24 Feb 38
p. 15.
Motion Picture Herald
18 Feb 38
p. 40.
Motion Picture Herald
26 Feb 38
p. 38.
New York Times
18 Mar 38
p. 23.
Variety
2 Mar 38
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
Pres
WRITERS
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns for Miss Bennett
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Photog eff
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Dark Chapter by E. J. Rath (New York, 1924) and the play They All Want Something by Courtenay Savage (New York, 12 Oct 1926).
SONGS
"Merrily We Live," music and lyrics by Phil Charig and Arthur Quencer.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Dark Chapter
Love Without Reason
Take It Easy
Release Date:
4 March 1938
Production Date:
27 October 1937--10 January 1938
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
28 February 1938
Copyright Number:
LP7995
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
4033
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

The wealthy Kilbournes are a family of eccentrics, especially Mrs. Emily Kilbourne, whose hobby is rehabilitating tramps. When her latest tramp leaves suddenly, taking all of the family silver with him, she vows to turn over a new leaf. Her resolve is short-lived, though, when a grubby gentleman named Rawlins arrives at the estate. He merely wants to use the phone to report that his car has crashed, but she sees him as another man to save. Despite grown daughter Jerry Kilbourne's protests, Rawlins is hired as the new chauffeur. Finding the situation amusing, he soon fascinates the women in the house, but not Mr. Kilbourne or Grosvenor, the butler. At a dinner party in which Mrs. Kilbourne tries to pass Rawlins off as a "gentleman," he so captivates Senator Harlan's daughter Minerva that the Kilbournes have to pretend that he is a houseguest. While Mr. Kilbourne is worried that Rawlins will ruin a lucrative business deal with the senator, he soon realizes that Rawlins has actually improved his business and his family's happiness as well. Then, just as the entire family comes to depend on Rawlins, they read in the morning paper that he was not a tramp at all, but a famous author named E. Wade Rawlins, who died in a automobile crash near their house. Unaware that his death has mistakenly been reported, Rawlins arrives to find Mrs. Kilbourne, Jerry, and the maids all fainting from shock. Mr. Kilbourne and his younger daughter Marion are helpless in their attempts to revive them. Rawlins is able to revive Jerry, though, and they admit that they are in love. ... +


The wealthy Kilbournes are a family of eccentrics, especially Mrs. Emily Kilbourne, whose hobby is rehabilitating tramps. When her latest tramp leaves suddenly, taking all of the family silver with him, she vows to turn over a new leaf. Her resolve is short-lived, though, when a grubby gentleman named Rawlins arrives at the estate. He merely wants to use the phone to report that his car has crashed, but she sees him as another man to save. Despite grown daughter Jerry Kilbourne's protests, Rawlins is hired as the new chauffeur. Finding the situation amusing, he soon fascinates the women in the house, but not Mr. Kilbourne or Grosvenor, the butler. At a dinner party in which Mrs. Kilbourne tries to pass Rawlins off as a "gentleman," he so captivates Senator Harlan's daughter Minerva that the Kilbournes have to pretend that he is a houseguest. While Mr. Kilbourne is worried that Rawlins will ruin a lucrative business deal with the senator, he soon realizes that Rawlins has actually improved his business and his family's happiness as well. Then, just as the entire family comes to depend on Rawlins, they read in the morning paper that he was not a tramp at all, but a famous author named E. Wade Rawlins, who died in a automobile crash near their house. Unaware that his death has mistakenly been reported, Rawlins arrives to find Mrs. Kilbourne, Jerry, and the maids all fainting from shock. Mr. Kilbourne and his younger daughter Marion are helpless in their attempts to revive them. Rawlins is able to revive Jerry, though, and they admit that they are in love. Grosvenor, thinking that Mrs. Kilbourne's string of tramps are better off than he, grabs a knapsack and heads for the open road. +

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.