I Take This Woman (1940)

96-97 mins | Drama | 2 February 1940

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HISTORY

This picture was based on the unpublished original story "A New York Cinderella," by Charles MacArthur. According to news items in HR , the film had a long and troubled production history. The film began production in Oct 1938 as A New York Cinderella . An 18 Oct 1938 news item in HR notes that Josef von Sternberg (spelled Joseph von Sternberg in HR ) was assigned to direct and Walter Pidgeon was to play the second male lead (the role of "Phil Mayberry.") A 19 Oct news item adds Thurston Hall to the cast. A 22 Oct production chart lists Larry Weingarten as producer, Dick Green as assistant director, and Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr and Pidgeon as cast members. Modern sources add that Louis B. Mayer intended to use this picture to mark Lamarr's M-G-M debut, and so hired Sternberg to give her the "glamour treatment."
       A news item appearing on 7 Nov adds that Frank Borzage took over the direction from Sternberg because of a "disagreement concerning the manner in which the picture was to be shot." Sternberg was then assigned to direct Sergeant Madden . In the 12 Nov production chart that follows this announcement, the film is retitled I Take This Woman , Borzage is listed as director and Lew Borzage is listed as assistant director. A 17 Dec production chart lists Bud Lawton as photographer and adds Ina Claire, Adrienne Ames and Laraine Johnson (who is billed in the onscreen credits as Laraine Day) to the cast. Modern sources note that Ina Claire was to play "Madame Maresca," the role ... More Less

This picture was based on the unpublished original story "A New York Cinderella," by Charles MacArthur. According to news items in HR , the film had a long and troubled production history. The film began production in Oct 1938 as A New York Cinderella . An 18 Oct 1938 news item in HR notes that Josef von Sternberg (spelled Joseph von Sternberg in HR ) was assigned to direct and Walter Pidgeon was to play the second male lead (the role of "Phil Mayberry.") A 19 Oct news item adds Thurston Hall to the cast. A 22 Oct production chart lists Larry Weingarten as producer, Dick Green as assistant director, and Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr and Pidgeon as cast members. Modern sources add that Louis B. Mayer intended to use this picture to mark Lamarr's M-G-M debut, and so hired Sternberg to give her the "glamour treatment."
       A news item appearing on 7 Nov adds that Frank Borzage took over the direction from Sternberg because of a "disagreement concerning the manner in which the picture was to be shot." Sternberg was then assigned to direct Sergeant Madden . In the 12 Nov production chart that follows this announcement, the film is retitled I Take This Woman , Borzage is listed as director and Lew Borzage is listed as assistant director. A 17 Dec production chart lists Bud Lawton as photographer and adds Ina Claire, Adrienne Ames and Laraine Johnson (who is billed in the onscreen credits as Laraine Day) to the cast. Modern sources note that Ina Claire was to play "Madame Maresca," the role taken over by Verree Teasdale, and Adrienne Adams was to play "Linda Rogers," the role taken over by Day. Modern sources add that Fanny Brice was to play the role of "Madame Maresca" in the Sternberg version. The film was still in production on 25 Jan 1939 when a news item in HR noted that twelve-year-old Johnny Walsh was added to the cast. His name does not appear in the credits of the final film, in reviews or the CBCS, and his appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed.
       On 2 Dec 1939, a news item in HR announced that I Take This Woman would resume production on 4 Dec, with W. S. Van Dyke II as director, Hugh Boswell as assistant director and Harold Rosson as photographer. The cast then included Tracy, Lamarr, Kent Taylor (replacing Walter Pidgeon), Verree Teasdale, Dalies Frantz, John Shelton, Rosina Galli and Charles Trowbridge. An 8 Dec 1939 news item in HR notes that Pidgeon had to leave the cast because of a scheduling conflict with Republic Pictures' Dark Command . Modern sources add that after the Borzage version was shelved in Jan 1939, MacArthur was called in to remedy problems with the script. Modern sources note that when Van Dyke took over, Leonard Penn was replaced by Reed Hadley, who portrayed "Bob Hampton" in the completed film. Although Jack Carson is credited onscreen in the role of "Joe," his role in the viewed print consisted of one scene in which his character summons "Dr. Dexter" in a subway station. The voice that speaks the lines is not Carson's, however, and it is likely that his role was cut during the late 1939 shooting when Carson was unable to resume work on the film because of commitments at other studios.
       According to the Var review, the film was practically remade in its entirety by Van Dyke, resulting in a final production cost in excess of $700,000. The length of the late 1939 "retakes" plus extensive cast and crew changes noted in contemporary news items indicate that most of the film was reshot by Van Dyke. One contemporary review quipped that the film should have been entitled "I Re-Take This Woman."
       Modern sources add the following actors to the cast: Leon Belasco ( Pancho ), Charles D. Brown ( Lieutenant of Police ), Gayne Whitman ( Dr. Phelps ), Tom Collins and John Shelton ( Interns ), Florence Shirley ( Mrs. Bettincourt ), Rafael Storm ( Raoul Cedro ), David Clyde ( Steward ), Nell Craig ( Nurse on boat ), Lee Phelps ( Policeman ), Matt McHugh, Polly Bailey, George Humbert, Rosina Galli, Esther Michelson ( People at Clinic ), Peggy Leon ( Georgie's maid ), Jack Chefe ( Waiter ), Jean De Briad ( Headwaiter ), Florence Wix ( Mrs. Winterhalter ), Jimmie Lucas ( Taxi driver ), Charles Sherlock ( Steward ), Bill Cartledge ( Newsboy ) and Lowden Adams ( Butler ). Some of the actors included in modern sources were not in the viewed print, and it is possible that their roles were cut from the released film. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
26 Jan 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
31 Jan 40
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 38
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 38
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 38
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Nov 38
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 38
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 38
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 38
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 38
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 39
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Mar 39
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 39
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Dec 39
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 39
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 39
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 40
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
1 Dec 38
p. 6.
Motion Picture Daily
30 Jan 40
p. 5.
Motion Picture Herald
20 Jan 40
p. 51.
Motion Picture Herald
3 Feb 40
p. 42.
New York Times
16 Feb 40
p. 23.
Variety
31 Jan 40
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
WRITERS
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
A New York Cinderella
Release Date:
2 February 1940
Production Date:
18 October--early November 1938
7 November--late January 1939
4 December--late December 1939
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
23 January 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9405
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
96-97
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6000
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Tortured by her unrequited love for Phil Mayberry, glamour girl Georgi Gragore decides to end her life by jumping into the sea. She is prevented from doing so by Karl Decker, a dedicated doctor who pulls her from the ship's railing. Upon docking in New York, Georgi finds her life empty and aimless, and decides to visit Karl at his East Side clinic, where he is beloved by all his patients. To renew her interest in life, Karl offers Georgi a job and soon finds himself falling in love with her. After the two hastily marry, Karl meets Georgi's wealthy uptown friends and begins to feel incapable of supporting her in the style to which she is accustomed. Consequently, when Dr. Duveen offers him a lucrative position in private practice, Karl gives up his clinic to treat wealthy hypochondriacs. Meanwhile, Georgi, haunted by her feeling for Mayberry, goes to see him at his apartment, where she realizes that she no longer loves him. When Karl discovers Georgi's visit, he flies into a rage and refuses to accept her explanations. Summoned to the hospital on an emergency, Karl discovers that a spoiled debutante has swallowed poison, and a misdiagnosis by the intern has resulted in her death. Angry and embittered, Karl refuses to cover up the scandal, throws away his partnership in the hospital and prepares to leave for China on a research expedition. To stop him, Georgi rallies his old East Side patients to convince him to return to the clinic, and in so doing, finally convinces him of her ... +


Tortured by her unrequited love for Phil Mayberry, glamour girl Georgi Gragore decides to end her life by jumping into the sea. She is prevented from doing so by Karl Decker, a dedicated doctor who pulls her from the ship's railing. Upon docking in New York, Georgi finds her life empty and aimless, and decides to visit Karl at his East Side clinic, where he is beloved by all his patients. To renew her interest in life, Karl offers Georgi a job and soon finds himself falling in love with her. After the two hastily marry, Karl meets Georgi's wealthy uptown friends and begins to feel incapable of supporting her in the style to which she is accustomed. Consequently, when Dr. Duveen offers him a lucrative position in private practice, Karl gives up his clinic to treat wealthy hypochondriacs. Meanwhile, Georgi, haunted by her feeling for Mayberry, goes to see him at his apartment, where she realizes that she no longer loves him. When Karl discovers Georgi's visit, he flies into a rage and refuses to accept her explanations. Summoned to the hospital on an emergency, Karl discovers that a spoiled debutante has swallowed poison, and a misdiagnosis by the intern has resulted in her death. Angry and embittered, Karl refuses to cover up the scandal, throws away his partnership in the hospital and prepares to leave for China on a research expedition. To stop him, Georgi rallies his old East Side patients to convince him to return to the clinic, and in so doing, finally convinces him of her love. +

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.