Torch Song (1953)

89-90 mins | Drama | 23 October 1953

Director:

Charles Walters

Cinematographer:

Robert Planck

Editor:

Albert Akst

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Preston Ames

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Why Should I Cry? According to 1951 news items in DV and HR , the I. A. R. Wylie story "Why Should I Cry?" was originally to be filmed as one of the short sequences in M-G-M's Three Love Stories (See Entry). A 23 Jun 1952 HR news item reported that Lana Turner had been cast in the film, and a 5 Mar 1953 item in HR 's "Rambling Reporter" column announced that Ann Sheridan would star. According to a Jun 1952 news item in HR , Fred Wilcox was originally set to direct the picture. A HR news item and production charts add Lillian Randolph and Dave O'Brien to the cast, but they were not in the released film.
       The song "Two-Faced Woman" was originally recorded by singer India Adams for a Cyd Charisse dance number in The Band Wagon (see above), but was cut from that film and added to Torch Song . The 1994 film That's Entertainment! III features a segment in which the omitted footage of Charisse is shown on a split screen with the Joan Crawford production number from Torch Song . Torch Song received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Marjorie Rambeau) and was Crawford's first color film. The picture also marked her return to M-G-M after seeking release from her contract a decade earlier. Crawford began her career and rose to stardom at M-G-M, and was under contract to the studio from 1925 to 1943, but dissatisfaction ... More Less

The working title of this film was Why Should I Cry? According to 1951 news items in DV and HR , the I. A. R. Wylie story "Why Should I Cry?" was originally to be filmed as one of the short sequences in M-G-M's Three Love Stories (See Entry). A 23 Jun 1952 HR news item reported that Lana Turner had been cast in the film, and a 5 Mar 1953 item in HR 's "Rambling Reporter" column announced that Ann Sheridan would star. According to a Jun 1952 news item in HR , Fred Wilcox was originally set to direct the picture. A HR news item and production charts add Lillian Randolph and Dave O'Brien to the cast, but they were not in the released film.
       The song "Two-Faced Woman" was originally recorded by singer India Adams for a Cyd Charisse dance number in The Band Wagon (see above), but was cut from that film and added to Torch Song . The 1994 film That's Entertainment! III features a segment in which the omitted footage of Charisse is shown on a split screen with the Joan Crawford production number from Torch Song . Torch Song received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Marjorie Rambeau) and was Crawford's first color film. The picture also marked her return to M-G-M after seeking release from her contract a decade earlier. Crawford began her career and rose to stardom at M-G-M, and was under contract to the studio from 1925 to 1943, but dissatisfaction with the roles she was being offered prompted her to become a free agent (although some modern sources suggest that the studio was displeased with her recent films and wanted her to leave). According to a 16 Dec 1953 HR news item, music publisher Edwin H. Morris & Co. sued Loew's Inc., M-G-M's parent company, for allegedly using the song "Tenderly" in a manner that violated the licensing agreement. The outcome of this suit has not been determined. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Oct 1953.
---
Daily Variety
15 Aug 1951.
---
Daily Variety
2 Oct 53
p. 3.
Film Daily
9 Oct 53
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jun 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 53
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 53
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 53
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 53
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 53
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Sep 53
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 53
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 53
p. 2.
Motion Picture Daily
2 Oct 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Oct 53
p. 2014.
New York Times
13 Oct 53
p. 34.
Variety
7 Oct 53
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Women's cost des by
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Mus numbers staged by
MAKEUP
Hair styles
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
STAND INS
Singing voice double for Joan Crawford
Singing voice double for Rudy Render
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Col consultant
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Blue Moon," music by Richard Rodgers.
SONGS
"Follow Me," music and lyrics by Adolph Deutsch
"You Won't Forget Me," music and lyrics by Kermit Goell and Fred Spielman
"Tenderly," music and lyrics by Jack Lawrence and Walter Gross
+
SONGS
"Follow Me," music and lyrics by Adolph Deutsch
"You Won't Forget Me," music and lyrics by Kermit Goell and Fred Spielman
"Tenderly," music and lyrics by Jack Lawrence and Walter Gross
"Two-Faced Woman," music and lyrics by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Why Should I Cry?
Release Date:
23 October 1953
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Columbus, OH, Syracuse, NY and Richmond, VA: 1 October 1953
New York opening: 12 October 1953
Production Date:
27 April--late May 1953
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
24 September 1953
Copyright Number:
LP3853
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
89-90
Length(in feet):
8,052
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16608
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

At a rehearsal for her new show, temperamental Broadway star Jenny Stewart lashes out at anyone who displeases her, from her dance partner to her arranger, Charlie Maylor, who has been driven to drink by her bullying. After abruptly walking out of the rehearsal, Jenny goes home and practices a scene with her sympathetic secretary, Anne, then gets into bed and tearfully gives in to feelings of loneliness. The following day, Jenny's boyfriend, playboy Cliff Willard, comes by as she is redesigning her costumes for the show, and she insists that her love for her audience justifies her domineering ways. When Jenny eventually shows up for rehearsal, she is surprised to discover that Charlie has quit and has been replaced by the distinguished Tye Graham, a blind pianist. Tye proves more than adept at accompanying Jenny and accommodating her changes, although she rudely disregards his suggestions. After Tye tries to change the tempo on one of her songs, Jenny orders director Joe Denner to fire him. When everyone has left the theater, however, Jenny secretly tries the song Tye's way. Jenny then goes to a restaurant, where she encounters Tye. The pianist buys her lunch and suggests that she uses her tough demeanor to conceal her fear of being vulnerable. After lunch, Tye returns to his elegant apartment and tells his house man, Peter, that he paid for his friend Charlie to travel to Cuba so that he could get his job. That evening, Jenny goes to Tye's apartment, where he is rehearsing with his jazz quintet, and insists that he come back to work for her. After Jenny leaves, Tye admits to ... +


At a rehearsal for her new show, temperamental Broadway star Jenny Stewart lashes out at anyone who displeases her, from her dance partner to her arranger, Charlie Maylor, who has been driven to drink by her bullying. After abruptly walking out of the rehearsal, Jenny goes home and practices a scene with her sympathetic secretary, Anne, then gets into bed and tearfully gives in to feelings of loneliness. The following day, Jenny's boyfriend, playboy Cliff Willard, comes by as she is redesigning her costumes for the show, and she insists that her love for her audience justifies her domineering ways. When Jenny eventually shows up for rehearsal, she is surprised to discover that Charlie has quit and has been replaced by the distinguished Tye Graham, a blind pianist. Tye proves more than adept at accompanying Jenny and accommodating her changes, although she rudely disregards his suggestions. After Tye tries to change the tempo on one of her songs, Jenny orders director Joe Denner to fire him. When everyone has left the theater, however, Jenny secretly tries the song Tye's way. Jenny then goes to a restaurant, where she encounters Tye. The pianist buys her lunch and suggests that she uses her tough demeanor to conceal her fear of being vulnerable. After lunch, Tye returns to his elegant apartment and tells his house man, Peter, that he paid for his friend Charlie to travel to Cuba so that he could get his job. That evening, Jenny goes to Tye's apartment, where he is rehearsing with his jazz quintet, and insists that he come back to work for her. After Jenny leaves, Tye admits to fellow musician Martha, who is in love with him, that despite her fine qualities he will never be able to "see" her as he does Jenny. Tye returns to rehearsals, and Jenny comes to value his opinion. One Sunday morning, as the bored Jenny mopes around her apartment, she tries unsuccessfully to perform simple tasks with her eyes closed, and is struck by the grace and dignity with which Tye lives. In a rush of feeling, she goes to visit her mother, but Mrs. Stewart just nags her for money. Jenny decides to throw a party that night, and instructs her agent, Monty Rolfe, to round up guests and arrange for Tye to entertain. Tye is unavailable, however, which puts Jenny in a sour mood, and she abruptly sends her guests home. Later, after the final dress rehearsal, Jenny is enraged to learn that Tye will not be accompanying the cast to Philadelphia for out-of-town tryouts. She summons Tye to her home later that evening, and he tells Jenny that he used to be a drama and music critic before losing his sight in the war. When he still refuses to go to Philadelphia, they quarrel, and Tye warns Jenny that she is on the road to a terrible decline and lonely end. Jenny goes to see her mother and reluctantly admits her frustration over Tye. Mrs. Stewart produces the scrapbooks she has filled with newspaper clippings about Jenny's career, and Jenny finds a review written by Tye the evening before he went into the service. At her mother's request, Jenny puts on a recording she once made of the song "Tenderly," which Tye had seen her perform. Jenny then goes to Tye's apartment and slips in unnoticed as he is playing "Tenderly" for Martha. After sending Martha away, Jenny surprises Tye with her presence and says she knows how he arranged to get Charlie's job. She adds that she read the old review and knows that he loves her. Tye lashes out in a rage, but Jenny declares her feelings for him. Acknowledging their need for each other, Tye and Jenny kiss. +

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.