Queen Bee (1955)

94 mins | Melodrama | November 1955

Director:

Ranald MacDougall

Cinematographer:

Charles Lang Jr.

Editor:

Viola Lawrence

Production Designer:

Ross Bellah

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

Queen Bee marked the directoral debut of Ranald MacDougall. According to a HR news item, Joan Crawford purchased the rights to Edna Lee novel and engaged MacDougall as writer-director before presenting the package to producer Jerry Wald. MacDougall and Wald had worked with Crawford on Warner Bros.' 1945 production Mildred Pierce , for which Crawford won her only Academy Award (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). Queen Bee received Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography (Black-and-White) and Best Costume Design ... More Less

Queen Bee marked the directoral debut of Ranald MacDougall. According to a HR news item, Joan Crawford purchased the rights to Edna Lee novel and engaged MacDougall as writer-director before presenting the package to producer Jerry Wald. MacDougall and Wald had worked with Crawford on Warner Bros.' 1945 production Mildred Pierce , for which Crawford won her only Academy Award (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). Queen Bee received Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography (Black-and-White) and Best Costume Design (Black-and-White). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
22 Oct 1955.
---
Daily Variety
1 Nov 1954.
---
Daily Variety
19 Oct 55
p. 3.
Film Daily
21 Oct 55
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 1954.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 55
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 55
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 55
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
22 Oct 55
p. 641.
New York Times
23 Nov 55
p. 18.
Variety
19 Oct 55
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Jerry Wald Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Miss Crawford's jewelry
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus cond
SOUND
Rec supv
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Queen Bee by Edna Lee (Norwalk, CT, 1949).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1955
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 22 November 1955
Production Date:
22 March--5 May1955
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
1 November 1955
Copyright Number:
LP5778
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
94
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17514
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Chicagoan Jennifer Stewart arrives at the Southern home of her cousin, Eva Phillips, who has pressured her into moving in with her family. Shortly after arriving, Jennifer overhears an argument between Eva's sister-in-law Carol Lee Phillips, and her fiancé Judson Prentis, about announcing their engagement, then Carol introduces her to Eva's husband Avery, and the neighbors Sue McKinnon and her brother Ty. When Eva arrives home, the McKinnons depart hastily and Eva blithely explains to Jennifer that Sue begrudges her for taking Avery away from her years before. When a drunken Avery and Eva begin quarreling, Carol ushers a startled Jennifer away. Over the next few days, Jennifer learns more about her family, as she settles into being a personal assistant to Eva, whom she greatly admires. When Avery dryly attempts to point out to Jennifer her naiveté about his wife, she criticizes his manner towards Eva. Later, Jennifer is shocked when Carol frankly admits that she hates Eva, but does not elaborate why. That evening, Jud asks Jennifer not to reveal his engagement, insisting that the need for secrecy is Carol's idea. A little later, Jennifer is taken aback by Eva's familiarity with Jud and further surprised when, after Jud reveals the engagement, Eva speculates that the marriage will never occur. One night Jennifer finds Carol comforting Eva's young son Ted after a nightmare and when she asks after Eva, Carol ruefully explains that Eva uses people, describing her as a heartless "queen bee" of the hive. When Jennifer protests that Eva has always unselfishly provided for her, Carol reveals that Avery, not Eva, paid for Jennifer's education and daily ... +


Chicagoan Jennifer Stewart arrives at the Southern home of her cousin, Eva Phillips, who has pressured her into moving in with her family. Shortly after arriving, Jennifer overhears an argument between Eva's sister-in-law Carol Lee Phillips, and her fiancé Judson Prentis, about announcing their engagement, then Carol introduces her to Eva's husband Avery, and the neighbors Sue McKinnon and her brother Ty. When Eva arrives home, the McKinnons depart hastily and Eva blithely explains to Jennifer that Sue begrudges her for taking Avery away from her years before. When a drunken Avery and Eva begin quarreling, Carol ushers a startled Jennifer away. Over the next few days, Jennifer learns more about her family, as she settles into being a personal assistant to Eva, whom she greatly admires. When Avery dryly attempts to point out to Jennifer her naiveté about his wife, she criticizes his manner towards Eva. Later, Jennifer is shocked when Carol frankly admits that she hates Eva, but does not elaborate why. That evening, Jud asks Jennifer not to reveal his engagement, insisting that the need for secrecy is Carol's idea. A little later, Jennifer is taken aback by Eva's familiarity with Jud and further surprised when, after Jud reveals the engagement, Eva speculates that the marriage will never occur. One night Jennifer finds Carol comforting Eva's young son Ted after a nightmare and when she asks after Eva, Carol ruefully explains that Eva uses people, describing her as a heartless "queen bee" of the hive. When Jennifer protests that Eva has always unselfishly provided for her, Carol reveals that Avery, not Eva, paid for Jennifer's education and daily support after the death of Jennifer's parents. The following evening, Jennifer accidentally sees Eva attempting to kiss Jud, who refuses and walks away. Eva follows and Jennifer overhears their discussion. Jud protests that their relationship ended ten years earlier when Eva married Avery and Jud insists on his love for Carol, but Eva scoffs at him. When Jennifer confronts Eva about her harshness, her cousin explains the difficulty she felt moving into the hidebound and traditionally Southern Phillips family and the measures she felt necessary to take to protect herself from permanent outsider status. Confused, Jennifer suggests that she is considering returning to Chicago, but Eva persuades her to remain. Jennifer then tells Avery that she has learned more about her cousin and after apologizing for doubting him, seeks his help in thwarting Eva's intention to disrupt Carol and Jud's marriage. Avery admits to knowing about Eva and Jud's past. When Jennifer wonders whether Avery will ever like her, he responds by kissing her, which startles her. The next day, Avery summons the family and, to Eva's displeasure, announces that Carol and Jud will marry that weekend. The night before the wedding, Eva returns from a party to overhear Carol and Jennifer discussing Carol's wedding plans. When Jennifer realizes Eva is going to reveal her past with Jud to Carol, she attempts to intervene, but is unsuccessful. Eva hints broadly about the affair, but Carol refuses to discuss the situation and departs. The following morning, a worried Jud asks Jennifer if she has seen Carol. After a search, they find Carol dead in the stable, having hanged herself the night before. When Jennifer tells Eva, she breaks down and goes into a two week withdrawal, forcing Jennifer to try to care for Ted and his sister Trissa, despite the condescending attitude of the nanny, Miss Breen. Ignoring Avery's advice, Jud announces his intention to quit the family business and refuses to give further explanation. When Avery observes Jennifer's strained appearance, she admits to great stress due to her attraction to him, but he tells her they can have no future together. Unknown to them both, Eva has overheard their conversation. Jennifer discovers Miss Breen slapping the children and informs Avery, who promptly fires the nanny, despite her arch suggestions that she will have to explain the situation between Avery and Jennifer to Eva. When Jennifer notices a palpable tension between Jud and Avery, she questions Jud, who angrily believes Avery broke his word and told Carol about his relationship with Eva. Jennifer tells him that Eva told Carol, infuriating Jud. Avery informs Eva that he wants a divorce, but she belittles his affection for Jennifer and promises she will fight any divorce action. Eva warns him to stay away from Jennifer and demands that Miss Breen be rehired. Soon after, Avery becomes very attentive to Eva, who is initially suspicious, then delighted. Jennifer is crushed and Jud suspicious when Eva and Avery announce their plan to have a second honeymoon. On the night of a large party at a neighbor's, Jud confronts Avery on his change of attitude, and Avery admits his plan to kill Eva in a car accident that night. Jud then tells Eva that Avery has been slightly delayed for the party and offers to drive her, despite the heavy rain. Eva agrees and on the car ride, Jud stuns Eva by revealing Avery's plan. When Eva realizes Jud intends to complete Avery's plan, she struggles, but Jud succeeds in driving the car off a cliff, killing them both. Avery, who has followed in a frantic attempt to stop the pair, is filled with despair, but receives loving support from Jennifer. +

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.