Raffles (1939)

71-72 mins | Drama | 29 December 1939

Director:

Sam Wood

Producer:

Samuel Goldwyn

Cinematographer:

Gregg Toland

Editor:

Sherman Todd

Production Designer:

James Basevi

Production Company:

Howard Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

Writer Sidney Howard also wrote the script for the 1930 Goldwyn film Raffles. According to a Nov 1938 news item in MPD, this picture, originally titled Colonel Rowan of Scotland Yard, was to have been filmed in England. The war in Europe caused the studio to change its production plans. Modern sources note that Samuel Goldwyn used the role of Raffles to lure David Niven, who wanted to play the character and was at odds with Goldwyn, to renew his contract with the studio. News items in HR note that Niven, who was a soldier in the British army, was granted a twenty-one day grace period by the British Consul so that he could finish his scenes in this film before beginning his military service. The production company worked double time so that Niven could finish on time, shooting all his scenes first. This was Niven's last American film until the 1946 film The Magnificent Doll.
       Modern sources add that F. Scott Fitzgerald worked on the script and William Wyler helped with the direction, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. The E. W. Hornung novel has been filmed several times. In 1914 Hyclass Producing Company made Raffles the Amateur Cracksman directed by George Irving and starring John Barrymore and Frederick Perry (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.3622). In 1925, Universal filmed a picture of the same name, directed by King Baggot and starring House Peters, and in 1930, Goldwyn filmed Raffles, directed by Harry D'Abbadie and George Fitzmaurice ...

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Writer Sidney Howard also wrote the script for the 1930 Goldwyn film Raffles. According to a Nov 1938 news item in MPD, this picture, originally titled Colonel Rowan of Scotland Yard, was to have been filmed in England. The war in Europe caused the studio to change its production plans. Modern sources note that Samuel Goldwyn used the role of Raffles to lure David Niven, who wanted to play the character and was at odds with Goldwyn, to renew his contract with the studio. News items in HR note that Niven, who was a soldier in the British army, was granted a twenty-one day grace period by the British Consul so that he could finish his scenes in this film before beginning his military service. The production company worked double time so that Niven could finish on time, shooting all his scenes first. This was Niven's last American film until the 1946 film The Magnificent Doll.
       Modern sources add that F. Scott Fitzgerald worked on the script and William Wyler helped with the direction, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. The E. W. Hornung novel has been filmed several times. In 1914 Hyclass Producing Company made Raffles the Amateur Cracksman directed by George Irving and starring John Barrymore and Frederick Perry (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.3622). In 1925, Universal filmed a picture of the same name, directed by King Baggot and starring House Peters, and in 1930, Goldwyn filmed Raffles, directed by Harry D'Abbadie and George Fitzmaurice and starring Ronald Colman and Kay Francis (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.4419 and F2.4420). The 1940 version was based on the screenplay that Sidney Howard wrote for the 1930 Goldwyn film.

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
19 Dec 1939
p. 3
Film Daily
16 Jan 1939
p. 5
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 1939
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 1939
pp. 6-7
Hollywood Reporter
11 Sep 1939
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 1939
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 1940
p. 3
Motion Picture Daily
29 Nov 1938
p. 8
Motion Picture Daily
26 Dec 1939
p. 8
Motion Picture Herald
23 Dec 1939
p. 40
New York Times
13 Jan 1940
p. 11
Variety
20 Dec 1939
p. 47
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Colonel Rowan of Scotland Yard
Release Date:
29 December 1939
Production Date:
began early Sep 1939
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Samuel Goldwyn
24 January 1940
LP9378
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
71-72
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
5723
SYNOPSIS

Unknown to Scotland Yard, the thief operating under the sobriquet of "The Amateur Cracksman" is actually A. J. Raffles, a cricket star and English gentleman who steals to support his elegant life style. When Raffles falls in love with Gwen Manders, he renounces his life of crime, but this does not deter Scotland Yard's Inspector MacKenzie from his investigation. Raffles' reformation is short-lived, however, as Gwen's brother Bunny confides that he desperately needs £1,000 in order to repay the money he embezzled and lost at gambling. An empty cigarette package, meanwhile, leads MacKenzie to the country estate of Lord Melrose, where Raffles is weekending. However, it is not the inspector but Raffles who discovers the plot of petty thief Crawshay to steal Lady Melrose's emerald necklace. Raffles wrestles the necklace from Crawshay, who is then arrested by the police. The next morning, Raffles leaves for London to sell the jewels, and Gwen overhears the inspector setting a trap for him. She rushes to warn Raffles, but too late, for the inspector springs his trap and arrests Raffles with the gems. Raffles exhibits his ingenuity one last time as he cleverly eludes the police and escapes into the ...

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Unknown to Scotland Yard, the thief operating under the sobriquet of "The Amateur Cracksman" is actually A. J. Raffles, a cricket star and English gentleman who steals to support his elegant life style. When Raffles falls in love with Gwen Manders, he renounces his life of crime, but this does not deter Scotland Yard's Inspector MacKenzie from his investigation. Raffles' reformation is short-lived, however, as Gwen's brother Bunny confides that he desperately needs £1,000 in order to repay the money he embezzled and lost at gambling. An empty cigarette package, meanwhile, leads MacKenzie to the country estate of Lord Melrose, where Raffles is weekending. However, it is not the inspector but Raffles who discovers the plot of petty thief Crawshay to steal Lady Melrose's emerald necklace. Raffles wrestles the necklace from Crawshay, who is then arrested by the police. The next morning, Raffles leaves for London to sell the jewels, and Gwen overhears the inspector setting a trap for him. She rushes to warn Raffles, but too late, for the inspector springs his trap and arrests Raffles with the gems. Raffles exhibits his ingenuity one last time as he cleverly eludes the police and escapes into the night.

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

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