People Will Talk (1951)

109-110 mins | Drama | September 1951

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Dr. Praetorius , The Doctor's Diary and The Dr. Praetorius Story . After the opening credits of the film, several title cards read, "This will be part of the story of Noah Praetorius, M.D. That is not his real name, of course....There may be some who will claim to have identified Dr. Pratorius at once. There may be some who will reject the possibility that such a doctor lives, or could have lived. And there may be some who will hope that if he hasn't, or doesn't, he most certainly should....Our story is also--always with high regard--about Medicine and the Medical Profession. Respectfully, therefore, with humble gratitude, this film is dedicated to one who has inspired man's unending battle against Death, and without whom that battle is never won....the patient."
       Contemporary sources indicate that both Columbia and actor Joseph Schildkraut had expressed interest in obtaining the rights to Curt Goetz's successful play in the early 1940s. The play was later used as the basis for the 1950 German film Frauenarzt Dr. Prätorius , which was directed by Goetz and starred himself and his wife, Valerie von Martens. In Oct 1950, the purchase of both Goetz's play and film was completed, according to the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library. The terms of the purchase included a stipulation that Goetz's film could be shown in only twelve American cities, six months after the release of the Fox picture. Although a Nov 1950 HR news item announced that Goetz would serve as a ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Dr. Praetorius , The Doctor's Diary and The Dr. Praetorius Story . After the opening credits of the film, several title cards read, "This will be part of the story of Noah Praetorius, M.D. That is not his real name, of course....There may be some who will claim to have identified Dr. Pratorius at once. There may be some who will reject the possibility that such a doctor lives, or could have lived. And there may be some who will hope that if he hasn't, or doesn't, he most certainly should....Our story is also--always with high regard--about Medicine and the Medical Profession. Respectfully, therefore, with humble gratitude, this film is dedicated to one who has inspired man's unending battle against Death, and without whom that battle is never won....the patient."
       Contemporary sources indicate that both Columbia and actor Joseph Schildkraut had expressed interest in obtaining the rights to Curt Goetz's successful play in the early 1940s. The play was later used as the basis for the 1950 German film Frauenarzt Dr. Prätorius , which was directed by Goetz and starred himself and his wife, Valerie von Martens. In Oct 1950, the purchase of both Goetz's play and film was completed, according to the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library. The terms of the purchase included a stipulation that Goetz's film could be shown in only twelve American cities, six months after the release of the Fox picture. Although a Nov 1950 HR news item announced that Goetz would serve as a technical advisor on the Fox film, studio records indicate that he was not involved in the production.
       In Feb 1951, LAEx reported that Anne Baxter would be Cary Grant's co-star in the movie, and modern sources note that Baxter had to withdraw from the film due to her pregnancy. Although a 19 Apr 1951 HR news item includes Hans Moebus, Larry Williams and Wallace Dean in the cast, their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed. Studio publicity noted that Grant studied under Dr. Ben Sacks, a noted heart specialist and diagnostician, for two months before production began, and that Alexander Steinert taught him how to conduct an orchestra right-handed, even though Grant was left-handed. Studio publicity also announced that the USC College of Medicine provided the production with props, including skeletons. A 7 May 1951 HR news item noted that "atmosphere shots" were filmed by a second-unit crew at Princeton University. Although some contemporary and modern sources refer to "Deborah" as a medical student, in the film, she states that she was merely sitting in on the anatomy class.
       According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, PCA director Joseph I. Breen informed the studio that a Dec 1950 treatment of the story was unacceptable under the Production Code. Breen cited the discussion about abortion and the light treatment of "illegitimicay and illicit sex" as the main reasons for his disapproval, and also noted that the ending of the picture seemed "to indicate a glorifying of a definitely immoral act." In late Feb 1951, Breen reported that the script was still unacceptable, noting that it needed a "further strengthening of the voice for morality." Breen urged the studio to have "Praetorius" state strongly that what "Deborah" had done was wrong: "The point we are trying to achieve here is to have Praetorius voice a proper moral attitude without being stuffy or priggish--to recognize the fact that being the mother of a bastard child is a highly undesirable eventuality and not something to dismiss with a casual nod in the direction of good manners." The script was approved in Mar 1951, and although Breen had insisted that no reference at all be made to abortion, Praetorius and Deborah do discuss the subject without actually using the word "abortion."
       In conjunction with publicity for the film's release, Grant put his hand- and footprints in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre on 16 Jul 1951. An "invitational preview" of the picture was held at the Chinese Theatre on 19 Jul 1951. According to Jun 1953 HR and DV news items, Goetz and Twentieth Century-Fox were sued for plagiarism by Aaron Hirsch, who claimed that the play and film were a "deliberate piracy" of his 1914 story "The Miracle Healer." The disposition of the suit is not known. Grant and Jeanne Crain reprised their roles for a 25 Jan 1954 broadcast of the story on Lux Radio Theatre . Goetz's play was also the basis of a 1964 German film entitled Dr. med. Hiob Prätorius , which starred Heinz Rühmann and Liselotte Pulver, and was directed by Kurt Hoffmann. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
18 Aug 1951.
---
Daily Variety
17 Aug 51
p. 3.
Daily Variety
2 Jun 1953.
---
Film Daily
16 Nov 1942.
---
Film Daily
22 Aug 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 50
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 50
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 51
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Mar 51
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Mar 51
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 51
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 51
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Apr 51
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 51
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
7 May 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jun 51
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 51
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 1951.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 51
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 53
p. 2.
Los Angeles Examiner
23 Feb 1951.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
29 Aug 1951.
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Motion Picture Daily
17 Aug 1951.
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Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Aug 51
p. 981.
New York Herald Tribune
28 Feb 1943.
---
New York Times
30 Aug 51
p. 20.
Newsweek
27 Aug 1951.
---
Variety
22 Aug 51
p. 10.
Variety
3 Jun 1953.
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CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d unit dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
MUSIC
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Walter Slezak's bull fiddle instructor
Unit mgr
Mus casting dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Doctor Med. Hiob Prätorius, Facharzt für Chirugie und Frauenleiden by Curt Goetz (Stuttgart, Germany, 31 Dec 1932).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
"Akademische Festouvertüre (Academic Festival Overture)," by Johannes Brahms
"Prize Song" from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Richard Wagner.
SONGS
"Gaudeamus Igitur," traditional.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Dr. Praetorius
The Doctor's Diary
The Dr. Praetorius Story
Release Date:
September 1951
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 29 August 1951
Production Date:
20 March--early May 1951
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
29 August 1951
Copyright Number:
LP1242
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
109-110
Length(in feet):
9,894
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15270
SYNOPSIS

One morning, narrow-minded Professor Rodney Elwell questions housekeeper Sarah Pickett about Dr. Noah Praetorius, one of Elwell's fellow professors at a prestigious medical school. Elwell is jealous of Praetorius, whose unorthodox, humanist views make him popular with patients and students, and is pleased with the information Sarah provides about Praetorius' stay in her rural town years earlier. Sarah also reveals information about Praetorius' mysterious companion, a large, quiet man named Shunderson. Because Elwell is busy, Praetorius substitutes for him in his anatomy class, where a lovely young woman, Deborah Higgins, faints during the lecture. Praetorius, then goes to his clinic, where he reprimands a lax nurse, telling her that patients are sick people, not inmates. The last patient of the day is Deborah, and her tests indicate that she is pregnant. Deborah is devastated and confides in Praetorius that she is not married, and is pregnant by a boyfriend who was killed in military service overseas. Praetorius advises Deborah to seek help from her father, and although Deborah states that he is an understanding man, she insists that she cannot burden him with her mistake. Praetorius then wonders if Deborah had hoped he would terminate the pregnancy, but Deborah asserts that she would not buy her father's peace of mind at the cost of Praetorius', then leaves. While Praetorius ponders the dilemma, he hears a gunshot in the hallway, and rushes out to find that Deborah has shot herself. Her wound is not life-threatening, however, and Praetorius saves her with a simple surgery. Shunderson, Praetorius' confidante in all matters, predicts that Deborah will attempt suicide again, and later, when Deborah ... +


One morning, narrow-minded Professor Rodney Elwell questions housekeeper Sarah Pickett about Dr. Noah Praetorius, one of Elwell's fellow professors at a prestigious medical school. Elwell is jealous of Praetorius, whose unorthodox, humanist views make him popular with patients and students, and is pleased with the information Sarah provides about Praetorius' stay in her rural town years earlier. Sarah also reveals information about Praetorius' mysterious companion, a large, quiet man named Shunderson. Because Elwell is busy, Praetorius substitutes for him in his anatomy class, where a lovely young woman, Deborah Higgins, faints during the lecture. Praetorius, then goes to his clinic, where he reprimands a lax nurse, telling her that patients are sick people, not inmates. The last patient of the day is Deborah, and her tests indicate that she is pregnant. Deborah is devastated and confides in Praetorius that she is not married, and is pregnant by a boyfriend who was killed in military service overseas. Praetorius advises Deborah to seek help from her father, and although Deborah states that he is an understanding man, she insists that she cannot burden him with her mistake. Praetorius then wonders if Deborah had hoped he would terminate the pregnancy, but Deborah asserts that she would not buy her father's peace of mind at the cost of Praetorius', then leaves. While Praetorius ponders the dilemma, he hears a gunshot in the hallway, and rushes out to find that Deborah has shot herself. Her wound is not life-threatening, however, and Praetorius saves her with a simple surgery. Shunderson, Praetorius' confidante in all matters, predicts that Deborah will attempt suicide again, and later, when Deborah awakens, Praetorius lies, telling her that the test was incorrect and that she is not pregnant. Deborah, who has fallen in love with the handsome, compassionate doctor, is embarrassed about the revelation of her pre-marital sex, and leaves the clinic that night. Meanwhile, Praetorius discusses the situation with his friend, Professor Lionel Barker, a scientist, who warns him that Elwell is trying to bring charges of unsuitability against him before the university's faculty committee. Praetorius dismisses Barker's concerns, and a few days later, drives with Shunderson to the farm where Deborah lives with her father Arthur and his penny-pinching brother John. Although Praetorius intends to tell Arthur about Deborah's pregnancy, Arthur's wry remark that he has been a failure in life and is now dependent upon John's reluctant charity prevents Praetorius from revealing the truth. When Deborah and Praetorius are alone, she admits her love for him, then teases the doctor into revealing that he reciprocates her affections. Surprised and delighted by his feelings, Praetorius insists that Deborah immediately leave with him to be married in New York. While the couple are in New York, Elwell receives word from Coonan, a private detective, that in 1917, Shunderson was put on trial for murder. Soon after, Shunderson tells Praetorius that Coonan took a photograph of him, and offers to leave so that the doctor's career and new marriage will not be endangered. Praetorius refuses to accept his friend's sacrifice, then returns home, where he, Arthur and Lionel play with the toy train set that Deborah has given him for his birthday. While the men play, Elwell comes to the house and informs Deborah that Praetorius is going to be charged with practicing medicine in an illicit manner. Deborah coolly shows Elwell the door, then questions her husband, who assures her that he is innocent. Deborah, who admits to being very emotional recently, then wonders if she could be pregnant, even though they have only been married for two weeks. Praetorius then reveals that she has been pregnant all along. Deborah is horrified and believes that Praetorius married her out of pity, but he convinces her that he loves both her and the coming baby. Later, on the night that Praetorius is to conduct the student orchestra's concert, Elwell succeeds in convening a faculty hearing to interrogate him. While Deborah and Shunderson wait with the impatient audience, Praetorius admits to the committee that he worked in Sarah's village as a butcher, while practicing medicine on the side, because the country folk distrusted "book doctors." Although Elwell accuses Praetorius of lying to the people he helped, the doctor defends himself by saying that he merely enhanced their own faith in themselves. When Elwell questions him about Shunderson, Praetorius refuses to answer, but Shunderson enters the room and volunteers to tell his story. Shunderson then states that many years earlier, he killed a friend who had an affair with Shunderson's sweetheart and then framed him for murder. After Shunderson was unjustly hanged for the crime, his body was given to Praetorius, then a medical student studying anatomy. Shunderson was not dead, however, and after Praetorius revived him, the older man dedicated his life to serving the man who had saved him. Dean Lyman Brockwell then dismisses Elwell's charges as nonsense, and Praetorius begins the concert. As Deborah happily watches her husband, she feels her baby kick and smiles in delight. +

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

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