The Affairs of Cellini (1934)

79-80, 85 or 90 mins | Comedy-drama | 24 August 1934

Director:

Gregory La Cava

Cinematographer:

Charles Rosher

Editor:

Barbara McLean

Production Designer:

Richard Day

Production Company:

20th Century Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the play was rejected as a possible film property in Jan 1925 by the Hays Office. Early in Jan 1934, a United Artists official informed MPPDA President Will H. Hays that 20th Century Pictures (which released through United Artists but was not a member of the MPPDA, as was United Artists) wanted to produce a film based on the play. Hays thought that the project should be approved by members of the MPPDA's Executive Committee. It appears that this did not occur, as Hays's secretary wrote to Breen in Nov 1934, following the film's release, "UA used [the] title The Affairs of Cellini without authority. Had they registered it here it would not have been accepted and it has caused quite a little trouble." On 18 Jan 1934, Joseph Breen , head of the AMPP's Studio Relations Committee, noted in a memo, "Mr. [Darryl] Zanuck [production head of 20th Century Pictures] assured us of his purpose to almost completely re-write the script submitted to us....He has also advised us that he has used but two sequences from the original play." Breen commented, however, "In the script submitted to us, Cellini, and both the Duke and the Duchess, are made out to be libidinous persons who engage themselves in promiscuous sexuality."
       According to a news item, in Jan 1934, Darryl Zanuck changed the title of the film from Affairs of Cellini back to the title of the play, The Firebrand . A HR news item of 6 Jan 1934 reported that Zanuck had hopes of getting Charles Laughton for ... More Less

According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the play was rejected as a possible film property in Jan 1925 by the Hays Office. Early in Jan 1934, a United Artists official informed MPPDA President Will H. Hays that 20th Century Pictures (which released through United Artists but was not a member of the MPPDA, as was United Artists) wanted to produce a film based on the play. Hays thought that the project should be approved by members of the MPPDA's Executive Committee. It appears that this did not occur, as Hays's secretary wrote to Breen in Nov 1934, following the film's release, "UA used [the] title The Affairs of Cellini without authority. Had they registered it here it would not have been accepted and it has caused quite a little trouble." On 18 Jan 1934, Joseph Breen , head of the AMPP's Studio Relations Committee, noted in a memo, "Mr. [Darryl] Zanuck [production head of 20th Century Pictures] assured us of his purpose to almost completely re-write the script submitted to us....He has also advised us that he has used but two sequences from the original play." Breen commented, however, "In the script submitted to us, Cellini, and both the Duke and the Duchess, are made out to be libidinous persons who engage themselves in promiscuous sexuality."
       According to a news item, in Jan 1934, Darryl Zanuck changed the title of the film from Affairs of Cellini back to the title of the play, The Firebrand . A HR news item of 6 Jan 1934 reported that Zanuck had hopes of getting Charles Laughton for the role of Duke Alessandro, but that Paramount, to whom Laughton was contracted, had not agreed to a deal. In a 11 Jan 1934 news item, HR reported that Frank Morgan, who played Alessandro in the Broadway production of the play, was signed along with Frances Dee. Var reported that during the filming, Frank Morgan's performance constantly caused other actors to break up in laughter. Information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library credit Fred de Gresac with an adaptation of the play. It is not known if his contributions were used in the final screenplay. Although the film did not open until 24 Aug 1934, it was reviewed in trade journals in Apr and May 1934 both under the title The Firebrand and under the release title The Affairs of Cellini . Reviews differ concerning the film's running time. The Broadway production of the play starred Joseph Schildkraut as Cellini. Ivor Novello played Cellini when the play opened in London on 8 Feb 1926.
       The Affairs of Cellini was nominated for four Academy Awards--Best Actor, Best Art Diretion, Best Cinematography and Best Sound Recording. A musical entitled The Firebrand of Florence based on the play, with music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Ira Gershwin, opened on Broadway on 22 Mar 1945. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
5 Feb 34
p. 3.
Daily Variety
5 Mar 34
p. 4.
Daily Variety
14 Apr 34
p. 3.
Film Daily
5 May 34
p. 4.
Harrison's Reports
12 May 34
p. 74.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 34
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 34
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 34
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Apr 34
p. 14.
International Photographer
Mar 34
p. 17.
Motion Picture Daily
17 Apr 34
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald
31 Mar 34
p. 69.
Motion Picture Herald
21 Apr 34
p. 35.
New York Times
6 Sep 34
p. 22.
Variety
11 Sep 34
p. 11.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Darryl F. Zanuck Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Cam op
Cam op
Asst cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Cost dsg
Suppliers of cost
MUSIC
Mus score
DANCE
Ballet master
PRODUCTION MISC
Still photog
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Firebrand by Edwin Justus Mayer (New York, 15 Oct 1924).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Firebrand
Release Date:
24 August 1934
Production Date:
5 February--5 March 1934
Copyright Claimant:
20th Century Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
18 May 1934
Copyright Number:
LP4696
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
79-80, 85 or 90
Length(in feet):
7,106
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In sixteenth century Florence, as the henpecked, frivolous and philandering Duke Alessandro de Medici signs death warrants, the case of the great goldsmith and sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, charged, not for the first time, with murder, is discussed, but the duchess reminds the indecisive duke that Cellini has not finished making their golden service plates. After other charges concerning Cellini's amorous and mischievous adventures are cited, Alessandro, egged on by his ambitious cousin Ottaviano, decides to hang him, but Cellini pacifies the duke by arranging for his pretty model Angela to be an addition to the duke's court. Her interest in Cellini piqued, the duchess commissions him to make and deliver a key to the balcony door of her summer palace. That night, as the duke, thinking that the duchess has gone to the winter palace, tries to romance Angela, Cellini fights his way past guards to the duchess' balcony. After refusing to let the duchess, who tries to gain the upper hand with him, humiliate him, Cellini escapes with Angela, who has grown to like Alessandro, whom she affectionately calls "Bumpy." After a reward is announced for Cellini's head, he stabs a guard and sneaks into the duchess' room. When he dares her to sever his head, she confesses her love, but he is captured and taken to a torture chamber. The duchess, however, convinces Alessandro to free Cellini to avoid a revolt by the people, and Cellini promises Alessandro that he will bring Angela to his banquet. When the jealous duchess sees Angela at the banquet, Alessandro falsely reports that Angela is Cellini's fiancée. Angered, the duchess gives Cellini poisoned wine and ... +


In sixteenth century Florence, as the henpecked, frivolous and philandering Duke Alessandro de Medici signs death warrants, the case of the great goldsmith and sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, charged, not for the first time, with murder, is discussed, but the duchess reminds the indecisive duke that Cellini has not finished making their golden service plates. After other charges concerning Cellini's amorous and mischievous adventures are cited, Alessandro, egged on by his ambitious cousin Ottaviano, decides to hang him, but Cellini pacifies the duke by arranging for his pretty model Angela to be an addition to the duke's court. Her interest in Cellini piqued, the duchess commissions him to make and deliver a key to the balcony door of her summer palace. That night, as the duke, thinking that the duchess has gone to the winter palace, tries to romance Angela, Cellini fights his way past guards to the duchess' balcony. After refusing to let the duchess, who tries to gain the upper hand with him, humiliate him, Cellini escapes with Angela, who has grown to like Alessandro, whom she affectionately calls "Bumpy." After a reward is announced for Cellini's head, he stabs a guard and sneaks into the duchess' room. When he dares her to sever his head, she confesses her love, but he is captured and taken to a torture chamber. The duchess, however, convinces Alessandro to free Cellini to avoid a revolt by the people, and Cellini promises Alessandro that he will bring Angela to his banquet. When the jealous duchess sees Angela at the banquet, Alessandro falsely reports that Angela is Cellini's fiancée. Angered, the duchess gives Cellini poisoned wine and orders him to toast his bride. Cellini obeys and then drops to the floor, whereupon the duchess comforts him and calls him her love. Ottaviano then drops dead from his wine, and Cellini stops pretending. The angry duke threatens both Cellini and the duchess, but after Angela calls Alessandro "Bumpy," the duchess indignantly says that she will take Cellini with her to build a new fountain at the winter palace, which leaves the duke and Angela to stay at the summer palace. +

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.